The House met at 1001.

Prayers.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BUSINESS

IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I move that in the opinion of this House, since in September 1995 the public was told that in the incident involving the first nations occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park the first nations' claim of a burial ground had no validity; the OPP handled the situation with no political involvement; the government handled the situation like any other first nation land claim dispute; the first nations were heavily armed and opened fire on the OPP; the Premier gave no direction to his staff representing him at high-level meetings before the shooting of Dudley George; and the police had to lay 52 charges against the first nations people;

Since subsequent to the September 1995 incident the facts have confirmed that the provincial government had written evidence dating to 1937 of a burial ground on the site; the Ontario government asked the police to "remove the occupiers - ASAP"; the headline in the Sarnia paper the day of the shooting death of Dudley George said: "Queen's Park to Take Hard Line with Occupiers"; a court trial proved that the first nations had no firearms; the Premier told his executive assistant prior to the high-level meeting the day of the shooting, "out of the park - nothing else"; and the crown dropped 43 charges because there was "no reasonable prospect of conviction"; seven were found innocent, two are awaiting trial and an OPP officer has been convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the shooting incident;

Therefore, the government of Ontario should commit to holding a public inquiry into the events leading up the shooting death of Dudley George at Ipperwash Provincial Park as soon as all legal impediments are cleared.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 95(c)(i), the honourable member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Phillips: I want to make very clear that what we are calling for here is for the government of Ontario, for Premier Harris, to make a commitment to hold a public inquiry into this tragic affair and to hold that inquiry as soon as legally possible, as soon as any legal impediment is cleared. We are not asking to jeopardize any legal proceedings at all, but what we want is a clear commitment by the Premier that an inquiry will be held.

I talk often with the first nations people and what they tell me is: "Mike Harris will never, ever hold an inquiry. He is going to stonewall this thing, hoping that the public will grow tired of it, that the first nations will no longer be able to mount a campaign to hold it, and he just simply will stonewall it until some time in the future and never call an inquiry."

What we need today is a commitment to hold that inquiry. Premier Harris has been asked many times to do it and all of us know his answer. He will never, ever make that commitment.


Mr David Ramsay (Timiskaming): Shame.

Mr Phillips: It is a shame.

That's what the resolution calls for. I understand any debate around, "Well, we've got to wait until the court proceedings are all done before we start an inquiry," but you can make that commitment today.

Why should you make that commitment? Why should we make that commitment? I will just say that our first nations have been dealt a serious injustice here. Remember these things. They went into that park at the end of Labour Day in 1995, entered the park, and said, "We're going in there because there is a sacred native burial ground." Mike Harris has said all along, "There's no evidence of that, there's no burial ground there." We find there was evidence probably less than 200 yards from where we're sitting here, in the government files, clear evidence of a native burial ground there.

As a matter of fact, there was communication from the federal government to the provincial government. I'll quote from that communication. This is from 1937: "On the 13th of this month, a council of Kettle and Stoney Point bands passed a resolution requesting this department to bring the matter to your attention with a view to having this old Indian burial ground preserved intact and properly fenced." Dating back to 1937 the federal government, as the province was taking over responsibility for this, sent a communication saying the band leaders are concerned about the burial ground, requesting from the government fencing of the burial ground.

We were told there was no evidence of a burial ground. There was. As a matter of fact, the crown, the government, had to go into court and drop 43 charges they'd laid. Why? Because the communications confirmed that "the old Indian cemetery," that's their language, "which...is located within the territory now being developed as a park." "Further, it has been clearly indicated by the Provincial Division judges at pre-trials that this defence will succeed in all instances.... Accordingly, this `colour of right' defence is of sufficient significance that the crown concludes that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction. The crown therefore must withdraw all forcible detainer charges."

What that says is the crown dropped those charges because it had in its own possession evidence of a burial ground. We were told that the reason for the shooting death was that the first nations opened fire on our OPP. We subsequently find from the trial that the judge, in looking at the evidence where the police had said they had to return fire, the judge indicated, and this is directly from the trial, where initially what we had been told was that the first nations opened fire - that's what precipitated this - here's what the judge said: "I find that (Dudley) George did not have any firearms on his person when he was shot...[T]he story of the rifle and the muzzle flash was concocted ex post facto in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man had been shot."

That's the second reason why we need an inquiry. The public had been told: "Well, we were facing an armed band of first nations who opened fire. What do you expect?" The judge, a respected judge, after a significant trial, reached the conclusion that the story of that was concocted ex post facto in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man had been shot.

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Premier Harris was asked, "Did you give any instructions to your executive assistant before she went to a high-level meeting to represent you?" This meeting was held the morning of the shooting. The morning of the shooting, again here at Queen's Park, a high-level meeting was held. The Premier's personal executive assistant was there. A senior OPP officer was at that meeting. The meeting took place in the morning. The senior OPP officer, we know from records, was in phone communication with the command post after that meeting. The Premier, when asked, "Did you give any directions to your executive assistant before she went to that meeting?" gave a one-word answer, "None."

We then find out from the minutes of that meeting, which we've been able to obtain under freedom of information - and these are them. The public probably can't see this, but remember the Premier said, "I gave no instructions to my executive assistant." These are the minutes from that meeting: "D. Hutton - Premier last night" - meaning she was talking to the Premier last night - "`out of the park - nothing else.'" We were told that the police were given no instructions, the fourth point.

We find that again in the minutes of that committee meeting, attended by, among others, I believe, one of the MPPs in the room. At that meeting the minutes said - yes, one of our Conservative MPPs was at that meeting, we see from the minutes. Remember again that the Premier said the police were given no instructions. This is what the minutes say: "Police have been asked to remove the occupiers from the park."

The previous minutes say, "The province will take steps to remove the occupiers - ASAP." Again, the Premier says there was absolutely no direction given to the police and we find evidence to the contrary. The commissioner said, "I took no tactical directions from the government. I do, however, obviously take strategic direction." It's clear to me that the government gave this strategic direction, and the minutes would confirm that.

The reason this is so important, I think, a test of a government is how it deals with its first nations. As I talk to the first nations, they tell me they have no trust in this government. They tell me Mike Harris will never commit to an inquiry, and "We will not be dealt justice."

As you go through the things that we were told and then the facts as they came out: We were told, no burial ground; there was a burial ground. We were told that the first nations opened fire; we found out that an unarmed, innocent man was shot. We were told that the government had no involvement in this; we find the minutes different than that. We were told the Premier said he gave no instructions to his executive assistant; we find that the minutes of that differ. We were told that this was dealt with as any other first nations dispute, and the morning of the shooting, that morning the headline in the Sarnia paper: "Queen's Park to Take Hard Line with Occupiers." Surely this demands a commitment to a public inquiry.


Mr Bud Wildman (Algoma): I rise to support the resolution, recognizing that my leader, Howard Hampton, introduced a resolution for debate in this House requesting a public inquiry previously and the government voted it down. I hope that the government members will rethink their position and recognize that in this resolution the member for Scarborough-Agincourt is suggesting that a commitment be made - a commitment - that an inquiry will be held when all legal impediments are removed. The excuse that there are matters still before the courts should not play a role in how members vote on this resolution since it is not calling on the government to hold an inquiry prior to the courts' dealing with whatever charges have been laid and not yet dealt with.

I recognize that the killing of Dudley George is a blemish on the history of this province, a blemish on the history of Canada. It's an international disgrace. The stonewalling by the government to prevent the truth coming out - that's the only way it can be described - compounds that blemish and hurts the reputation of this province and Canada internationally. We've had the report of Amnesty International. We've had calls for this whole thing to be inquired into to determine what the truth is and what led to the killing, for the first time in the history of Canada, or at least in the last century, of a member of a first nation over a land claim dispute, and that happened here in Ontario. It really says something about our reputation for human rights and for dealing with the rights of indigenous peoples, and it says something that I don't want to have said internationally.

The faith community, representing B'nai Brith, the Anglican Church, the Mennonites, the Christian Reformed churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutherans, the United Church of Canada, the Quakers, the Unitarian Church, together all called for an inquiry yesterday. These are responsible leaders in our community who are disturbed by the events at Ipperwash, who believe that the truth has not come out and must come out. I just remind the members of some of the things that the leaders of those faith groups said yesterday.

"It appears that the actions and reactions of the Ontario Provincial Police on that night were not in keeping with established government policy for negotiating a peaceful resolution to disputes involving first nations peoples' assertion of aboriginal and treaty rights. There is also evidence of a specific plan of operations for the OPP in this situation, calling for negotiation, that was then ignored or changed on short notice."

Further, they say: "The Ontario Provincial Police at the scene also potentially engaged in the criminal beating of another unarmed civilian. No charges have been laid and the investigation of these circumstances has been stymied by a lack of cooperation from officers on the scene and their superiors."

I think the most important point the leaders of the faith communities make in their release from yesterday is: "The important underlying issues of negotiating a just resolution of outstanding land and treaty rights in this area will remain clouded in suspicion and fear until the clear light of an inquiry can be shone on the circumstances of this death."

The leaders of the faith community are issuing a challenge, a challenge to this government, a challenge to the people of Ontario, to find the truth, to shine the light of truth on the situation that led to the death of Dudley George at Ipperwash. The government of Ontario must meet that challenge if we are to be able to look our partners internationally in the eye and say that we, as people in a democracy, recognize the rights of indigenous peoples to assert their land rights and to make claims for restitution and compensation for wrongs in the past.

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I believe we need an inquiry to shine the light of truth on this situation so we can look ourselves in the eye; so we can look in the mirror and say that we do not act towards indigenous peoples the way so many regimes around the world do; that we stand for the right of aboriginal people, of first nations people in this country to be able to assure themselves that their rights are protected and the wrongs of the past are corrected.

I believe that the death of Dudley George is a tragedy that did not have to happen, that would not have happened if other approaches had been taken. It is certainly a blemish on the reputation of this province and of this country, and that must be excised.

As the member for Scarborough-Agincourt said, the statements made by this government, by the Attorney General, by the Premier, ever since that fateful night on September 5, 1995, have been shown to be wrong, repeatedly. The Attorney General has said there's no claim, that there's no evidence of a claim. How can he say that when we have evidence from 1937, when the park was being established, and it's clear that the leaders of the first nations at that time contacted the federal Department of Indian Affairs and said: "Look, there's a sacred burial ground there. We want it protected. We want it properly fenced."

What is most disturbing about this situation is the change in approach apparently taken by the government in 1995 after the provincial election in June and another apparent change of approach by the police. In the past, when there have been land disputes involving first nations that led to confrontation, the approach taken by the government was that the government would not negotiate the substance of the claim as long as there was a blockade or an occupation; but the government would negotiate the peaceful end of the confrontation, leading to discussions and negotiations of the substantive questions subsequently. The Attorney General has said that this government's actions were consistent with that, yet we have seen that they were anything but consistent with that approach.

The police approach, because of the government's previous approach, has always been to cool things out, to avoid confrontation that might lead to injuries, or worse, either for the police or the first nations peoples. That has been the government's approach and the police approach. Essentially the police took the position that if there were a blockade or an occupation by first nations peoples, they would just keep everybody away, cool it down and hopefully, from the police position, have the first nations peoples tire of the situation and just stop the occupation or the blockade. That was the approach.

As we all know, an emergency committee was always convened in these situations that involved the police liaison person, members of the various ministries - it was usually bureaucrats, not MPPs. In our experience as a government there were never MPPs involved. It was always bureaucrats from the various ministries and they would sit and determine: "What are issues? How do we deal with this? How do we approach things?" The police would describe the situation. The bureaucrats didn't give direction to the police in terms of tactics. The police determined how to do that, but the police listened to the issues so that the liaison officer could report to the police on the scene about the issues involved so they would understand the situation.

That committee was convened because of the occupation of Ipperwash Provincial Park, keeping in mind that the Ministry of Natural Resources people had shown the occupiers how to operate the water system and had given them the keys, which again was consistent with the previous approach of governments in the past. As the faith communities indicated in their release, the police liaison officer made it clear to the committee that the police were just going to cool things out, keep everybody quiet and try to ensure there were no serious confrontations.

But after that meeting everything changed. Suddenly there were 250 officers on the scene. Suddenly the OPP was in contact with the Canadian Armed Forces and there was a liaison officer from the Canadian Armed Forces assigned to the Ipperwash situation. Suddenly the OPP was applying to the Canadian Armed Forces for armed personnel carriers. There were 250 officers on the scene to deal with at most 35 men, women and children in the aboriginal community and no evidence that they were armed, none whatever, which has been confirmed in court since.

What happened to lead to this change in approach? We now know from the minutes we've received that at that meeting it was made clear that the government's approach was simply to get the Indians out of the park as soon as possible, nothing else. That was the approach. We have the quote from Ms Hutton that the Premier's comments were: "Indians out of the park - nothing else."

I haven't had a great deal of experience in these areas, I've had some, but it seems to me that if a police officer hears that kind of direction from the Premier's office, that must have been what changed the approach of the OPP so that they would indeed take a hard line. We must find out if that's the case.

What led to the OPP, with such a massive force, to decide to enter the park at 11 o'clock, under the cover of darkness, when it was not going to be easy to see what was going on? What led the aboriginal people in the park to drive the bus through the gate towards the OPP? There have been allegations that there was a beating taking place, a beating of a member of the first nations by the OPP. No charges have been laid in that area.

We need to know what happened. What were the events that led to the killing of Dudley George? But more important, what decisions were made, what directions were given by the government in this regard? We need to know the truth, as the faith communities have indicated.

We're not suggesting that the inquiry should be held right now. We're just suggesting the government should make a commitment that there will be an inquiry when all legal impediments are out of the way. In my view, an inquiry must be held as soon as possible. We must shine the light of truth on the events at Ipperwash that led to the death of Dudley George, or, as the faith communities have said, the negotiations of just outstanding land and treaty rights will remain clouded in suspicion and fear. We must shine a clear light of an inquiry on the circumstances that led to the death of Dudley George if we are to excise this blemish from the reputation of Ontario and Canada in the international community.

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Mr John L. Parker (York East): I rise this morning on behalf of the Attorney General and minister responsible for native affairs to address the motion before us. Let me begin by repeating what the minister has said previously in this House on this matter. "The incident that occurred in Ipperwash Provincial Park in September 1995 was a tragedy."

As members of this House know, a number of criminal charges were laid in connection with the event that occurred at Ipperwash at that time. Some of these criminal charges are still before the courts. There are also two appeals pending in regard to the Ontario Provincial Police officer convicted of criminal negligence causing death in the shooting incident. Furthermore, there are three ongoing civil actions arising from these events.

Under standing order 23(g), a member is cautioned against speaking in the Legislature about the substance of a matter that is before the courts. Because these matters are before the courts, extreme care must be taken in making any comment that might prejudice the trials that are ongoing or might prejudice the rights of the accused involved in these matters.


Mr Wildman: It would have been nicer if the Attorney General remembered that when -

The Acting Speaker: Order. The member for Algoma, you had your turn, please.

Mr Parker: Our government's position on the matter of a public inquiry has been clear and it has been consistent. It is and it has always been based on respect for due process of the law. We have repeatedly stated that the government will only consider other options after matters currently before the courts have been completed. As such, this is not the appropriate time to be debating this question. It would be premature to make a decision or to comment further while these matters remain before the courts.

What should be the focus of our discussions, however, is Ontario's efforts to improve living conditions and build stronger economies for aboriginal people and to provide for a future that holds greater promise for the aboriginal people of this province. I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight the significant achievements in aboriginal affairs which our government has made during the past two years.

In March 1996, our government set out its approach to aboriginal affairs in the aboriginal policy framework. The goal of the framework is a future where aboriginal communities have stronger economies and a greater capacity to become more independent and self-reliant and to exercise greater responsibility for their own wellbeing.

Guided by the framework, our government is taking practical steps to encourage aboriginal self-sufficiency through economic and community development and to build stable, balanced relations between aboriginal people and their neighbours. This approach will enable us to address aboriginal issues in a consistent and effective manner that delivers real, tangible results, promotes economic growth and improves the quality of life in aboriginal communities.

Based on the goal and principles of the aboriginal policy framework, our government is working together with the aboriginal people on a provincial strategy to promote aboriginal economic and business development. Through the strategy, Ontario will encourage job creation, investment and economic growth as a key to building aboriginal self-reliance. It will also promote partnerships with the corporate sector that will benefit aboriginal people, businesses and communities.

We've already done considerable policy work on this strategy. We have spoken to more than 150 people from aboriginal communities, municipalities, businesses and financial institutions, to get their views on aboriginal economic development issues. Last November, the Ontario Native Affairs Secretariat and a private sector partner, the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, co-hosted a forum on aboriginal business partnerships. More than 85 people attended from the aboriginal business community. Government and the private sector representatives were there as well. They provided advice on business partnership development, relations between the corporate sector and aboriginal communities and the province's role in promoting aboriginal economic development.

In developing the strategy, we have consulted with first nation leaders, with representatives of Metis and off-reserve aboriginal organizations, with aboriginal business leaders and economic development groups and with the corporate sector. We hope to have one last round of consultations before the launching of the strategy in 1998.

Our government considers economic development to be the key to aboriginal self-reliance. The aboriginal economic development strategy will assist and encourage aboriginal economic development within the context of our government's overall commitment to restoring hope, jobs, growth and prosperity, and to improving the economic circumstances of all Ontarians.

An important tool for promoting aboriginal economic development is land claim settlements. Our government has signed agreements in principle on the Big Grassy, Sand Point and Assabaska land claims. Recently negotiators signed a draft agreement on the Whitefish River land claim. We are making significant progress on a number of other negotiations.

Settling land claims removes barriers between people, removes barriers to investment, and fosters a stable business climate and a stable community climate among local communities. This benefits aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike.

Our government has taken steps to increase public involvement in land claim negotiations. On a number of claims we have added local citizens to our negotiating teams, as members or observers, and have established citizens advisory committees to ensure that the negotiations address the interests and concerns of everyone who lives and works in the claim area, so that when a resolution is found, it's a resolution that involves all the people who are affected.


Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Why are you insulting these people?

The Acting Speaker: Member for Kingston and The Islands, please.

Mr Parker: We are also developing a policy statement on Ontario's approach to land claim negotiations. The policy statement will include input from aboriginal leaders, stakeholders and the general public.

Our government recognizes the need to hear the views of first nation leaders and be responsive to the concerns of aboriginal people in Ontario. On November 6, the Premier and the minister responsible for native affairs held a very positive and productive meeting with Ontario Regional Chief Tom Bressette and a delegation of grand chiefs and other first nation leaders.

Interjections.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Algoma, the member for Kingston and The Islands, please.

Mr Parker: The purpose of the meeting was to assist the Premier in preparing for the November 18 meeting of premiers, territorial leaders and national aboriginal leaders in Winnipeg. In Winnipeg, Ontario supported a recommendation that federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for aboriginal affairs and the national aboriginal leaders should -

Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): On a point of order, Speaker: I want to bring to your attention standing rule 23(b) with respect to the comments that are being made by the member, and that is that they should be directed towards the question we're debating this morning. This isn't directed -

The Acting Speaker: Thank you. That's not a point of order, I think the member will realize, and I hope you will come back to the issue. You've been preambling a bit too long, in my opinion, and I will pay close attention to what you say.

Mr Parker: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would suggest that to understand the events at Ipperwash it's important to understand the context in which the incident there arose and to understand the steps this government is taking to address that context and to ensure that problems such as the problem that occurred at Ipperwash do not occur again.

In Winnipeg, Ontario supported a recommendation that federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for aboriginal affairs and the national aboriginal leaders should meet as soon as possible to address social issues related to aboriginal people, the needs of aboriginal youth and other issues.


The Acting Speaker: Order. You have to come back to the topic, please. Come back to the topic.

Mr Parker: Mr Speaker, my remarks are related directly to the circumstances that give rise to concerns among our native community, and to the steps that are the positive steps that are being taken to address those concerns and to ensure that when concerns arise and need to be addressed, they are addressed in a positive, constructive manner, and to ensure there will be a future in which the kind of concerns and the kind of unrest which has so tragically marked some of the relationships between our native community and their surrounding communities do not arise.

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Our government is working with native leaders and with national leaders across the country to address those concerns underlying these difficulties. In that respect, Mr Speaker, I would suggest that my remarks this morning are directly -


The Acting Speaker: I am telling you again that if you err and go away from the topic, I will stand up again and remind you that you should not discuss any topic other than the topic on the issue of the moment, which is the incident at Ipperwash. Please just follow that issue and I will listen to you attentively.

Mr Parker: Mr Speaker, the resolution this morning calls upon the government to consider a broad context of matters. There are a number of recitals in the resolution and I'm addressing the subject matter of those recitals. I would suggest that my remarks this morning are directly in line with the subject matter that has been brought before the House this morning. I will continue.

Another example of our approach to fostering stable relations is our process for bringing together ministers and chiefs to discuss issues of concern. Meetings were held in October 1996 and June 1997. We have agreed to meet again early next year. These meetings demonstrate our government's commitment to resolving issues of common concern to first nations and Ontario and to enhancing our relationship through discussion and dialogue and to ensure that episodes and confrontation are not the way of choice in matters of difficulty.

As part of our approach to fostering stable relations, in contrast to the experience that has marked so many of the difficulties in the past, the province signed the Grand River notification agreement in October 1996. This is the first agreement of its kind in Canada. Many have praised it as a model for establishing relationships based on goodwill and cooperation. Other jurisdictions across the country would do very well to follow this example.

Our policies are making a difference in the everyday lives of Ontario's aboriginal peoples. Last year we extended the Canada-Ontario retrofit agreement with the federal government. This agreement will bring indoor plumbing, sewage and electrification services to a total of 35 remote northern first nation communities in Ontario by the year 2001. If we are looking for the root cause of concern and difficulty in many of our native communities, we can look directly to the living conditions they have experienced to date and the need to address those living conditions so that we do not have the kind of frictions, the kind of frustrations, the kind of irritations and the kind of outrage that led to episodes such as at the episode at Ipperwash in September 1995. Running water, sewers and electricity are the basics for building self-reliance in any community, and over the life of the agreement about 3,100 jobs will be created, most of them in first nations communities, another crying need in our native communities.

Those are some of the practical steps that our government has taken in aboriginal affairs during our mandate, and our approach will continue to focus on practical steps to improve living conditions, strengthen economic opportunities and build self-reliance in aboriginal communities and to bridge the gulf that has so tragically characterized many of the relationships that have existed in the past and has led to many of the episodes that have occurred in the past, some, as in the case of Ipperwash, with terribly, terribly tragic results.


Mr Ramsay: I congratulate the member for Scarborough-Agincourt for bringing this resolution before the House. I have to say, Mr Speaker, that I certainly support you in your interventions during the previous speech, when the member for York East really gave a very weak polemic on the state of first nations policy, if there is any with the Harris government, instead of dealing with the issue. The issue is plain and simple: An innocent citizen of this province was shot dead in cold blood by our police force. That's what this is about and that is what we should be addressing.

I want to address that because something very wrong happened on that evening in Ipperwash park, something very different from and that goes contrary to the history of how the OPP handles incidents such as this. The OPP is probably one of the most highly trained, highly disciplined, best-equipped police forces in the world. It is an extremely great police force and we should be proud of them, but occasionally, human failure being what it is, incidents happen.

I remember back in the late 1980s when there was an incident with the tactical squad in southwestern Ontario and a very tragic accident happened. The government of the day, the Liberal government, decided to do a review on the tactical units in Ontario, of which there are about three copies in the legislative library, and I would encourage people to get a copy of that. What came out of that is very interesting. What came out of it sets the policy that this government today should have followed, and it's very different from what happened on that night in Ipperwash park.

The review says in a sort of summary:

"We preface our support for the continuing use of police tactical units with that caveat. We believe that these units are necessary, but they must be unquestionably the best trained and most capable, and it must be clear what they are being used for: the non-violent resolution of high-risk incidents to safeguard human lives. The techniques of containment and de-escalation of the crisis are vital to the peaceful resolution of most dangerous incidents involving an armed person."

I believe that all evidence, being in, shows that in this case we weren't even dealing with armed persons.

The report continues: "It is our view that containment and de-escalation must be the priority in the training of all tactical officers in Ontario.

"Police tactical units must also have the confidence of the public and fellow police officers." In order to do that, the community has to be confident that the teams they are sending out are "rigorously trained not only in the use of special weapons, but also in the practice of patience and restraint under high-stress, life-threatening conditions...."

Something very different happened that night, because what we had here was not a hostage-taking. We just had people who came into the park to occupy some space because it was their very strong belief, which backed up by evidence this government has in its possession, that there is a burial ground in that area and that both the federal and provincial governments have not dealt with this issue for the better part of this century. That's what this was about.

We know that the tactical unit of the OPP has been trained to wait these situations out, to negotiate. There were no lives being threatened here on either side but something happened that night. That is the key question of why we want this public inquiry. Why did the police act in a manner contrary to their training and their techniques and their tactical strategies?

Something happened here and we suspect, from the evidence gathered through freedom of information, that my colleague from Scarborough-Agincourt has been able to secure that this government directed the OPP to clear that park and to use whatever force was necessary. That is wrong. It is wrong and in this case we can see that it led to a tragic incident that cost the life of an innocent Ontario citizen. That's why we need this inquiry, and I'm here today to support my colleague in the request for that inquiry.

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Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): I too want to congratulate my colleague from Scarborough-Agincourt on keeping this issue in front of both the Legislature and the public of Ontario. It is a tremendous tragedy that we have to have this discussion in the first instance.

A public inquiry is not only merited, it's demanded. Despite the patronizing polemic we heard from the government side around this issue, there are five compelling reasons why a public inquiry ought to be held.

First, the government of this province had evidence at the time the OPP got involved that the occupied land did have a first nation burial ground. The evidence dated back to 1937 and it said, "...the old Indian cemetery which is located within the territory now being developed as a park."

The second piece of troubling information that we are all aware of is that the first nation was unarmed. The occupiers did not bear arms. They did not bear a threat to the public nor to the police. These facts were borne out in trial. The judge at the trial said, "I find the accused knew that Dudley George did not have any firearms on his person when he shot him," that the story of the muzzle flash "was concocted ex post facto in an ill-fated attempt to disguise the fact that an unarmed man had been shot." An unarmed man had been shot, a man who could not defend himself, a man who took a stand and was part of a situation that quickly turned tragic.

We have heard time and again in this chamber from the Premier of this province that his government had no involvement. Yet subsequent investigation by various individuals, including my colleague from Scarborough, showed just the opposite. Notes from meetings quoting the Premier's executive assistant showed quite conclusively that in fact there was government involvement.

In this province, historically the OPP have had a policy of negotiation, not confrontation, with our first nations, recognizing the special sensitivities around those issues. Government after government pursued this type of policy. Yet, when this government took office, there was a dramatic shift.


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I've counted the numbers in here and I don't think we've got a quorum.

The Acting Speaker: Would you please check if we have a quorum.

Clerk at the Table (Ms Lisa Freedman): A quorum is not present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker ordered the bells rung.


Clerk at the Table: A quorum is now present, Speaker.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Windsor-Walkerville.

Mr Duncan: The fourth point I was dealing with was the abandonment of this long-standing policy. We ought not to be surprised, because this is a government that has long shown intolerance to issues of this nature.

Finally, the government has indicated on a number of occasions that while there were 52 charges laid against first nations, all but two were dropped or found not guilty. Of the charges the crown dropped - 43 of them - seven of those charged have been found innocent, with two still in the trial process. The only conviction arising from the incident was an OPP officer found guilty of criminal negligence causing the death of Dudley George.

There is no compelling reason why the government cannot and should not call a public inquiry. This is a tragedy, in my view, of unparalleled proportion in the province of Ontario. A first nation citizen, unarmed, was gunned down. There is evidence that the government directed these operations in a general sense. Our religious community in this country, civil rights communities in this country, first nations communities here in this province and country and indeed the international community call on us, compel us as a Legislature to call a public inquiry so the truth can be brought to bear on this situation and to prevent any type of tragedy of this nature occurring ever again.


Ms Annamarie Castrilli (Downsview): I want to thank the member for Scarborough-Agincourt for bringing forward this issue of fundamental justice and fairness. This is a story of heavy-handedness and bullying and hiding the truth and fabricating more of it, and in the end a story of an innocent man shot dead. The facts have been recited here this morning. Dudley George was killed on September 6, 1995. The judge in the first instance found that he was unarmed. Since then all the charges that have been laid by the crown have either been dropped or dismissed by the courts, with two civil suits pending.

The latest criminal charge that was dropped was September 29, 1997. There has been outrage not only in the native community but in the broader sector. Ontarians have been shocked to hear that in this province we would behave in this fashion.

I'd like to ask three questions. One is, can an inquiry be called? It's pretty clear that it can. The Supreme Court of Canada, in the Westray mining disaster, indicated the circumstances under which a public inquiry may be called. Time doesn't permit me to go into all the details, but I would suggest the Attorney General look into that.

Second, in the Krever blood inquiry clear guidelines were again set by the Supreme Court of Canada, where there are civil and/or criminal investigations. The ruling on Krever again could not be clearer and the Attorney General should have a look at that.

Third, I would say to the Attorney General that he himself has called for inquiries where there were civil cases pending. I would remind him that in the Bernardo case he ordered an inquiry and the cases coming out of the Bernardo case are still before the courts.

Why an inquiry? I think the answers to that are fairly evident. There is contradictory evidence before the public of Ontario, and justice demands a fair hearing. What would an inquiry be charged with doing? We need to know what directions were given to the OPP. Why did the OPP abandon its long-standing policy of negotiation and instead engage in confrontation? Why did the government seek an ex parte injunction? Why were the aboriginal people's claim of a burial ground ignored? Who authorized the OPP buildup at Ipperwash? Why was Dudley George characterized as armed when in fact he was not?

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What was the role of the government in all this? That is the most troubling question of all. We have heard from Ontarians everywhere on this issue. The B'nai Brith, the United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Mennonite community, the Lutheran church, many editorial boards across this province, individual citizens, and the aboriginal people themselves have decried the lack of action of this government in a situation which is critical, which is important.

The mark of a society is not how it treats its strongest and its best, but how it deals with its weakest and how it deals with its minorities. The aboriginal people have been dealt a heavy blow at Ipperwash. Their rights have been ignored. Dudley George's right to a fair hearing of his case has been ignored. It is appropriate in the circumstances for the Attorney General to call an inquiry. There is no legal impediment for him to do so. There is no moral reason why he should not do so. There is no public policy reason that could possibly justify not calling a public inquiry on this, the most important of issues, the rights of individuals vis-à-vis the state.

I want to congratulate the member for Scarborough-Agincourt. I would remind the House that yesterday we celebrated the 49th anniversary of the declaration of human rights. This government made pretty speeches about how important human rights are to a democratic society. Today we ask them to put their money where their mouth is. We ask them to remember that human rights means respecting the rights of individuals. Dudley George was an individual. The people who were involved at Ipperwash are very real and their rights are being trampled on. Again, I congratulate the member for Scarborough-Agincourt and I call upon the government to take action, to take responsibility and to call for a public inquiry.


The Acting Speaker: The member for Scarborough-Agincourt, you have two minutes.

Mr Phillips: To me what happened is quite clear. The government had been elected for two months. They were going to deal with these things in a different way. It tragically blew up in their faces. The last thing Mike Harris wants is for a public inquiry on this. The reason is, in my opinion, that he will be deeply implicated in it and deeply damaged by it.

Surely we owe it to our first nations to commit to a public inquiry. If it was any other group anywhere else in the province, there would be no hesitation about it.

We were told there was no burial ground there; there was a burial ground. We were told they were armed and opened fire; court trials proved they weren't. We were told that they were there illegally and had to be charged; then the crown essentially dropped all the charges when they found that they were there legitimately because they had the belief and the understanding and the evidence of a burial ground. We were told that the government had no interference in it; then we find minutes of meetings showing that the government instructed the police to remove the occupiers from the park.

Believe me: This will not go away. This will continue to dog Mike Harris. I promise you that ultimately the truth will come out. I promise you that. I promise you that when the truth comes out, the truth about Mike Harris's role will become evident. I also promise that those of you who support the hiding of the truth, the stonewalling of this, will be held accountable. Those of you who support Mike Harris in trying to block the truth from coming out will be held accountable. This is a most serious matter for the province of Ontario, and I hope the resolution today passes.

BILL 160 REPEAL ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 ABROGEANT LE PROJET DE LOI 160

Mr Hampton moved second reading of the following bill:

Bill 168, An Act to Protect our Children's Education and Defend Local Democracy / Projet de loi 168, Loi visant à protéger l'éducation de nos enfants et à défendre la démocratie locale.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 95(c)(i),the member has 10 minutes for his presentation.

Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): First of all, I want to begin my remarks by pointing out that what Bill 168 is about is continuing the discussion about education in this province. It's about continuing the discussion about what direction ought to be taken in this province with respect to our children's schools and education in general at the elementary and secondary level.

You could call Bill 168 An Act to repeal Bill 160, because that is what is implicit in this private member's bill. It seeks to repeal Bill 160 because fundamentally I believe and members of the New Democratic Party caucus believe that Bill 160 goes in entirely the wrong direction with respect to education.

Let me frame the issues this way and let me put it to parents across this province: Do parents believe that by taking $1.5 billion out of elementary and secondary education that our children's education will be improved? The Conservative government has already taken $800 million out of elementary and secondary education. It was disclosed in the performance contract of the deputy minister, which I was happy to show to the media about six weeks ago, that the government plans to take close to a further $700 million out of elementary and secondary classrooms over the next year. Added together, it's a cut of $1.5 billion from elementary and secondary classrooms across this province. Parents need to ask themselves the question: Does anyone believe that our children's education can be improved by taking a further $1.5 billion out of our children's schools?

The second question that is implicit here is this: Do people believe that our children's education can be improved by establishing a centralized, top-down, command-style bureaucracy over education and schools in this province? Learning is a very dynamic and spontaneous activity. Learning must happen in specific classrooms and in specific environments across this province. To attempt to establish a top-down, command-style bureaucracy over such a spontaneous and dynamic activity in my view flies in the face of reason. But that is essentially what this government is trying to do. I put to parents across this province that a top-down, centralized, command-style bureaucracy - in other words, trying to run the schools of this province from an office tower in downtown Toronto - cannot succeed.

Finally, do people believe that by laying off another 5,000 teachers, likely as many as 10,000 teachers, our schools can be improved, our classrooms can be improved? I hardly think so, but that is also implicit in what has been set out.

As I said just a few minutes ago, I want to put very clearly on the record that it is my firm belief and the firm belief of New Democrats across this province that this government's direction in terms of education, as expressed in Bill 160, is moving in fundamentally the wrong direction and cannot and will not improve education across this province. The three central tenets - (1) that you can improve education by laying off teachers, (2) that you can improve education by taking $1.5 billion out of the system, and (3) that you can improve education by establishing a centralized, top-down bureaucracy - also move in entirely the wrong direction.

We need to continue to have this debate about education in this province. We need to continue to have this debate about this government's direction on education in this province.

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I am under no illusions. This government, the members of the government, the MPPs from the government side, will vote against this private member's bill. They will vote against Bill 168. However they may vote against it, that will not shut down the debate, and I want to outline at least six ways in which people across this province can continue to engage in this debate and can continue to hold the government's policy on education accountable.

The first flashpoint will occur very soon when the government is forced to announce funding for schools for the stub year. This announcement was supposed to have been made back in October. We are now into the middle of December and there is still no announcement about stub-year funding for schools for what is left of the school year, from January to June. This is incredible. We are now down to the point where these schools in two weeks have to operate with this budget, and they still don't know what the budget is. What an incredible way to run our school system: to keep everyone in the dark as to what their funding formula is and how much they can apportion to teaching, how much they can apportion to school supplies, how much they can apportion to heating the schools, lighting the schools, transportation - to keep all of that under cover and keep it in the dark until the point where we are now two weeks away.

I suggest that the reason the government doesn't want to put that information out there is because it will involve a very substantial cut to classrooms, so the government wants to keep that information under wraps as long as possible. The people across this province should know that the issue of stub-year funding is going to be out there very soon, and people can use it as a test. People can use it as a test as to what the real direction of the government is. I submit that the education finance officials who have been writing to the Minister of Education are correct that it's a substantial cut, a cut of about $220 million a year.

The second part of this is that under the government's educational direction, the new boards of education are supposed to be up and running in January. How can they be up and running? They don't know their budgets yet. Many of them have not had a formal meeting yet. Speaker, I would suggest to you that people need to watch this ill-called setup of the new boards, because it is very likely to be a disaster. It will be chaotic, and that, I think, will also be a good indication of this government's true direction with respect to education.

The third part will occur some time towards the end of January, early February, when the Minister of Finance, behind closed doors, with no public debate, no public discussion, no opportunity for public accountability, will set the property tax rates with respect to education financing. Six billion dollars in taxation will be set behind closed doors, with no opportunity for public scrutiny or public input. I would suggest to you that people should be concerned about the adequacy of this formula, the democracy of this formula and, most of all perhaps, the fairness of this formula as to how it sets those property tax rates, who wins, who loses and, most of all, how adequate it is for our students and our schools.

The fourth flashpoint which will occur will be some time in March, when the new boards of education will have to send out preliminary notice of layoff to teachers. It will have to happen that soon because the boards do not want to be caught in a situation where later on in the year they are laying off teachers and haven't given them some notice. So we'll get an indication right away, within the next four months, of how many teachers in this province are going to be laid off, and that will come in the preliminary notice of layoffs which will happen in about March.

Then in April the government will have to provide to the new boards of education some indication of what the overall funding formula will be for the school year which will begin in September 1998, and people will be able to see just how substantial the cuts are to elementary and secondary education.

Finally, in early May, the new boards will have to give teachers not a preliminary notice of layoff, but a real notice of layoff. That is when we will start to get a very clear picture of how many teachers are going to lose their jobs under Bill 160 and under this government's educational direction.

I invite people to continue in this debate.


Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to participate in this morning's debate, and in particular to speak in opposition to Bill 168. To vote for this bill, in my opinion, would be an indication of support, and that's not nearly enough in terms of the changes that need to be made with respect to education in this province.

I'm quite surprised that the third party, the NDP, would advance this particular bill, because the essence of it is to repeal Bill 160. That fit would be more comfortable, from my perspective, with the Liberal Party in this province, because very clearly over the past month the Liberal Party has articulated and publicly acknowledged that it has no education policy for this province. They've very clearly indicated strong support for the status quo and a comfort level of keeping things the way they are today in education in this province. I would suggest that's neither appropriate nor acceptable to the people of Ontario.

I must reflect upon the dialogue that took place between the now member for Dovercourt, Mr Silipo, and Mr Cooke during the government agencies debate at the time that Mr Cooke was being appointed as co-chair of the Education Improvement Commission. I think it was an important dialogue. Here we have two former ministers of education of this province in dialogue, exchanging views. To hold the portfolio of Minister of Education and Training in this province is a duty that requires a great deal of skill and ability. Both of those gentlemen brought that to their portfolios.

The dialogue was important, because in asking the question, Mr Silipo received the response from Mr Cooke as follows:

"Some things that are being done here are close to what we were going to do. Even some of the decisions that the government has had to make, that it will be making, in terms of the new financing of school boards and how the dollars will be distributed, those are things that no matter who would have been elected, there would have had to be some decisions on."

Very clearly there was an understanding of Mr Cooke that changes had to occur within the education system. Mr Silipo I believe understood the same. In 1992, while Minister of Education, he indicated, "Education reform means significant improvements in what we teach and how we teach." I agree. That's why this government has moved to bring a new curriculum base, one that is based on student outcome, that has clear and defined expectations and rigour, to this province.

"It means reshaping our education system so we can meet the needs of all our young people and prepare them to meet the challenges of a diverse society...." Again I find myself in agreement with Mr Silipo. That is why this government, through Bill 160, has established the framework to introduce a new funding model for all students in this province.

"It means moving towards more cooperative and cost-effective approaches to the delivery of education programs and services." Once again I agree. This government has moved, through Bill 104 and Bill 160, to establish a streamlined, more accountable school board and administration system in this province.

Very clearly my surprise with the third party is, as I've said before, one of some shock because I thought they understood the need for change.

I heard the member for Rainy River, the leader of the third party, say that it's about continuing dialogue. I would suggest there has been substantial dialogue, not only through this process but through numerous reports and reviews that have been conducted since 1950 on the issue of education in this province. In fact, former ministers of the crown within his own caucus realized the need for education reform and were debating that issue in 1992.

To support Bill 168 this morning would simply be an indication of support for the status quo. Simply put, that is not acceptable. This government has clearly indicated its focus and desire to bring in a streamlined system that is clearly centred on student performance and kids in the classroom.

Some ask what our vision is for education in this province. I think that has been very clearly articulated since June 1995. It's a system that puts students first and student achievement first as well. It's a system that will redefine and renew the role of trustees in this province. It's a system that will realize a streamlined and more accountable school board system; a system that treats all students fairly through its focus on students themselves and the resources that teachers need in the classroom. It's a system that brings about a renewed curriculum, as I indicated, one that redefines rigour and student expectation and outcome. It's a system that respects and encourages parental involvement in education in this province. It's a comprehensive package which will take the education system into the future in a constructive and well-managed fashion.

Bill 168 fails to provide that vision, fails to act on the numerous background studies and reviews that have been conducted, and is a bill that fails to realize the necessary changes that have to be made to the education system in this province.

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Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'm happy to be able to share a few moments of our time talking about Bill 168. I stand in support of Bill 168 because it continues the dialogue with the people of Ontario with regard to quality public education.

The member for Middlesex, the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education, says he's proud about the curriculum advances, the standardized report cards and the testing advances that Bill 160 puts in place. He should know quite clearly that 160 has nothing to do with curriculum, has nothing to do with standardized reporting to parents and has nothing to do with testing. I am very concerned when the parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Education doesn't know what the goals of 160 are, and that's why it is very important that the dialogue be continued.

Bill 160 allows the government to set class size averages. It does nothing to control or protect class sizes. I've said that on repeated occasions and that's why support for this bill is necessary. What the people of Ontario are going to see in the future if Bill 160 isn't changed by this government or the next, Liberal, government is that class sizes are going to continue to grow in Ontario. As a former teacher, I'm very concerned about what I see happening in the classrooms all over Ontario: classes of 32, 34, 36, 40, 41. That is unacceptable and that is the legacy of the Conservative vision of education.

Setting an average class size while reducing the amount of money in operating grants is only going to lead to fewer classes. Since the student population of Ontario is growing, if there are going to be fewer resources, if there are going to be fewer teachers, if there are going to be more students, that can only translate into larger class sizes, class sizes which will impede students' ability to learn in a properly funded public education system. That's what the Liberals are concerned about. We're concerned that Bill 160 does not enshrine a properly funded public education system; in fact, it destroys it.

That's why students, parents, teachers, every partner in education has told you that Bill 160 is wrong. I support Bill 168 because it brings to the forefront the importance of ensuring that the dialogue and the debate over 160 doesn't quit, isn't diminished and will constantly be put on the front burner as opposed to the back burner.

This government will try over the course of the next three months, with smoke and mirrors, to disguise what's really happening to public education. It's clear: Public education is being destroyed because of Bill 160. That has been proven. Every presenter has told you that public education will not be enhanced because of Bill 160. That's why we must continue the dialogue.

Bill 160 clearly puts our educational leaders in limbo. The amendment, based on a vindictive, punitive measure only, not based on any sound educational philosophy, to remove principals and vice-principals from their federations is putting your educational leaders in limbo. It's wrong. It's wrong for principals and vice-principals, but more important, it's wrong for the students in our educational system.

Come January 1, there will be chaos with some of the newly appointed principals and vice-principals; come April 1, there is going to be chaos with those already in leadership roles; and come September 1, we will have a system of education in place which is inferior to the one we had one year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago.

Because education is always, and must always, be focused on change, we have to ensure that change is productive and positive. Bill 160 is a negative change for education, cannot be supported, and we must support initiatives such as Bill 168.


Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I stand with pride to support Bill 168, presented by our leader of the New Democratic Party, and say immediately that what we're doing through this bill is to praise the teachers who stood up to defend themselves as teachers and stood up to defend classroom education. That is what Bill 168 stands for. It stands for a defence of teachers and teaching and it stands for a defence of parents, mostly women, I would add - at least at the meetings I go to most of the people who come are women - to defend what they see as an erosion of our public school system. That's what this bill does.

To listen to the member for Middlesex, who is still around here - look at the language and you will see what this fellow and this government are all about. These are the words they use: "status quo." He opposes these others as people who defend the status quo, making it appear as if what we've got isn't good, even though the Premier goes to Europe and says, "We've got the best education system in the world."


Interjection: That was there.

Mr Marchese: That was then; that was there. This is now, I guess.

The other language the member for Middlesex uses: "reshaping to meet the needs of our society; more cost-effective," says he from Middlesex; "streamlined" is the word; "centred on kids' education"; "redefine the role of trustees"; "a system that treats all kids fairly"; "a new curriculum"; "involves parents"; "changes need to be made."

Did you hear anything in there that had any substance, that speaks to what is going on in the classroom, with students, with parents, with principals? There is nothing of the sort. All we have is through the voice - la portavoce, the parliamentary assistant - of the Premier, M. Harris, and the Minister of Education and others engaged in a process of myth-making, a promotion of language that leads people to conclude they're doing something. But it's motionless motion. It's going nowhere. It is intended to deceive the public, to make them believe that something is happening in the educational system, but I argue that nothing is happening as a result of Bill 160.

Let me tell you quickly what Bill 160 is all about. They argue - our slick Minister of Education, David Johnson; he is slick; most of these folks are very slick in their presentation of the issues - there are three things in this bill that will improve education quality and he says it's going to make it more accountable. Do you know what it means when he says, "We're going to make it more accountable"? He's saying they're going to centralize education financing. That is what it's all about: taking control of the finances; taking it away from the boards of education, those closest to the students, to the teachers and to the parents, taking that control away and bringing it to Queen's Park.

This is the same M. Harris who said - and there's a woman here with a sign. It's a quote from M. Harris saying, "I shudder to think what would happen to education if control fell into the hands of the government."


Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): Who said that?

Mr Marchese: Mike Harris, the Premier. He used to have such views, but his views have changed now. Why have they changed? Because he says he wants to make the system more accountable. No. He wants to centralize education financing to reduce the level of finance that goes to the boards of education under the guise of making it fair to all. He doesn't say, "We're going to chop, we're going to whack the education system." He says, "We're going to make it fair to all."

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He's taking it over to cut the money. He's going to harmonize down. He's going to take $500 million from the metropolitan system and shift it around, is what he says he wants to do. He's going to give educational grants that will be similar to every student in the province. which means some boards will come down from where they are. We're not bringing education financing up, we're bringing it down. He calls that fairness.


Mr Wayne Lessard (Windsor-Riverside): It's a race to the bottom.

Mr Marchese: A race to the bottom indeed. That's what this centralization is about all.

I tell you, he needs the money. Why? Because of his income tax cut; that's why he needs the money. He's got to bring his deficit numbers down, and to do so, he's got to go like a gunslinger against the boards of education and take money out, from teachers, from boards, to finance the tax cut that's going to go to the bankers, the developers, those who own big real estate, corporate élites who have the big bucks with the big pockets. They're saying to Mike Harris: "Bring the money over, Mike. We're still in a recession. We need your money because we want to build jobs." In the meantime, they're going into those deep blue pockets. That's where the money is going.

He says there are two other things in this bill, and he speaks about class size, giving the illusion that he's going to reduce the class size. Do you know what it takes to reduce the class size by one? Millions, if not billions, of dollars to reduce class size by one. This guy is taking money out, not putting money back in. How can he reduce class size? I tell you, he can't. He just can't do it. There's no money.


Mr Hampton: He won't.

Mr Marchese: Not that he won't, he can't. So it is wrong to suggest in the myth-making that class size is going to go down. The average class size is meaningless, but it's couched in language that makes it appears the class size is going to go down.

Those are two things this guy and the member for Middlesex are saying is going to bring about greater equality for our educational system, and he's shocked at this Bill 168. It comes as a great surprise to him that we would be opposed. He's shocked.

He's got one more thing, our slick Minister of Education, who says: "Preparation time is a big problem. We're going to cut it and that's going to create more contact time with students." But people have said to him: "If you reduce preparation time for teachers, taking time away that they use to help students on a number of curriculum issues - curriculum-related stuff, sports-related stuff that students want - if you reduce that time, please make sure that time that's taken away is put back into the system. Take it away from some, okay, but if you're going to do that, put it back." But he's not doing that. There's no claim from the minister or the Premier that he's going to do that, after repeated questions from our caucus.

What does it tell you? It tells you there is no more contact time. Time is taken away and teachers are gone. That's what that means. This is the slick Minister of Education and my good friend here from Middlesex, who says he's shocked at this bill that would attempt to repeal the devastation caused by this bill that does nothing for anyone except to take money away from us.

If you want to help the kids, make sure you put the principals back into the classroom. Principals are principal teachers; that's the genesis of the term. You can't take those people out of the classroom. They're not corporate élites, they're teachers, and they are there to assist the curriculum, to assist teachers in improving the quality of education. If you take them out, like these corporate Tories would want to do, you disconnect an essential unity that exists between teachers and principals. If you want to improve the educational system -

Interjection.


The Acting Speaker: Member for HaltonCentre.

Mr Marchese: There's more. These guys talk about parental involvement. We have already done that; previous governments have done that. There are parent councils in the school system.

Interjection.


The Acting Speaker: Member for Halton Centre, the member for Fort York has the floor.

Mr Marchese: He'll get his chance.

If you want to involve parents in a greater, more connected way, involve the 95% of the parents who are not involved in the education system. That's quality education. Find a way to involve that 95% of the parents who are not involved. There are reasons for that.

Bill 160 doesn't speak to that. There is nothing of the sort. It doesn't deal with curriculum leadership. That's what effective schools are all about; the research is clear on this. Research says that when principals are good curriculum leaders and work well with teachers, the educational system changes. There's nothing in there for this, except to take money out of the educational system. I worry, because two billion bucks come from funds raised by local boards and the province has no responsibility for those two billion bucks' worth of programs. Programs will disappear and jobs will disappear as a result. I guarantee that.

That is why we support the repeal of that bill through Bill 168, and we urge people to join our petition-for-a-referendum campaign, to fight these Tories in a way that is sustained enough until they call that election, and sufficiently so to get these guys out.


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I'm pleased to rise in the debate on Bill 168 today. This is an interesting debate, and some interesting politics will occur in the chamber today, to see how the opposition parties will vote on the bill to repeal Bill 160, and I guess to go back to the old way of doing things in education.

I fully expect the NDP to vote as a team for this bill. It is their leader's bill, after all, I think a leader very well respected in his party; I don't sense the same dissent that I do in the other opposition party over the leadership of the party. They'll vote for this not only because they respect their leader, but also because they fully believe that the more influence and power unions have to set things like class sizes or to raise tax rates - I guess the NDP believes that the more powerful unions are and the more money that is brought into the system, the more money there is to spend, the higher taxes are, that's a good thing for Ontario. I strongly disagree with their philosophy, but at least I respect that their philosophy is consistent and they've been very clear about it. They have policies and have ideas. I don't agree with the ideas, necessarily, but at least they have ideas.

The Liberal Party, on the other hand, has said very clearly, and their leader in fact boasted on television, "We have no education policy," which is curious. I guess that's the old Liberal way of doing things: trying to be a blank slate and say, "Whatever you believe in, yes, that's what we believe in too," and they'll try to pull the wool over the eyes of Ontarians.

Interestingly, we're seeing something develop. Twice in the last couple of weeks they have come out with policy ideas. They voted last week against Bill 161, the bill to help parents pay for day care costs and such which were imposed upon them by the illegal teachers' strike. The Liberal Party voted against that idea - they didn't think the money should go to the parents - while the NDP abstained from that vote. It's curious that the Liberals were against helping out parents with their day care costs from the strike.

Second, the leader of the Liberal Party said that if he becomes Premier of Ontario, he will repeal Bill 160, which is very interesting. I think that might be more consistent with the NDP's philosophy. I'm not sure why the Liberals are being so strong in saying: "We want to go back to the old ways of doing things. We want to go back to where the unions had a much greater influence in setting tax rates." I'm not sure whether the Liberals are against all of the bill or parts of it. That's one thing they're still hiding, to an extent.

I'm just very curious about why the Liberal leader wants to go back to allowing the steep increase in property tax rates that we've seen over the past 10 or 15 years from education property taxes. I would expect that the so-called business Liberals would like to see property taxes for education lowered, or frozen at least, but they are saying now that they in fact would like to see those raised. Maybe that's what the Liberal leader wants to do, to raise education property taxes. Maybe that's what he doesn't like about Bill 160.

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Maybe the Liberal leader, Mr McGuinty, wants unions to be able to choose to increase class sizes as they've done in the past, and certainly we oppose that. We think very, very strongly that they should be set in legislation so that they will not increase. However, the Liberals seem to want to go back to the old days and turn back the clock and to say, "If the union leaders think it's a good idea to increase class size, we're all for that."

Perhaps the Liberals want to put principals and vice-principals into the union. Maybe that's one of their ideas, and that will be a policy that they are coming forward with.

Finally, maybe they don't believe in making parent councils legislated or mandatory. I certainly believe that parent councils can play an important role in the education system to help develop policy and to help implement decisions in the system, but the Liberal Party perhaps will come out with a policy saying that they are not in favour of parent councils. Maybe that's what they don't like about Bill 160.

I'm interested to see if they will vote on this and how they'll vote because I think it will be a telling moment to determine whether the Liberal Party wants to proceed with education reform or if they want to go back to the bad old days of higher taxes and larger class sizes. We'll see which way they vote on this legislation, and I'll leave the rest of my time to the wisdom of my neighbour the member for Niagara Falls.


Mr Dwight Duncan (Windsor-Walkerville): The government's Bill 160 has absolutely nothing to do with better education. You are cutting teachers from our classrooms. You are cutting money from kids. You are raising property taxes. You are doing nothing to improve our standardized scores. You are undermining quality education in this province and are doing nothing at all to make our schools and our kids more competitive for the next century. So yes, we will support this bill and we will repeal Bill 160 when we form a government in a year and a half.

Your propaganda aside, you learned the hardest lesson of your political careers last month. The people of this province said to you unequivocally that education reform involves spending more in the classroom, not less -


Mr Terence H. Young (Halton Centre): Bring back the clock.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Halton Centre.

Mr Duncan: Education in this province ought to see more teachers in classrooms, not less. Principals and vice-principals are educators not administrators, and they ought to stay in that kind of capacity.

Don't tell us about lack of policy and lack of vision. Your party, your government broke every one of its commitments on education. You said you wouldn't cut from the classroom and then you defined "heat" outside of the class.


Mr R. Gary Stewart (Peterborough): No, we didn't. We did not.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Peterborough.

Mr Duncan: You have centralized power. You have taken local decision making away and you've moved it to the Mowat Block. You've moved it to Toronto. So in Peterborough, your citizens won't have a say in education. They're going to have to answer to bureaucrats at Queen's Park -

Mr Stewart: They certainly will.

The Acting Speaker: Member for Peterborough.

Mr Duncan: You are interested in only taking money out of Halton region and putting it into Queen's Park. Your schools in Halton region threw the member off their property; and thank goodness. Thank goodness for that because they understood the false propaganda of this government around education.

If this government spent as much time declaring war on illiteracy as it does on declaring war on teachers and kids, this province would be a much better place to live in. It would be a province where our education system would in fact move forward and not backward. It would be a province where we could once again say that we're prepared to invest in our kids.

This government wants to cut money out of our classrooms to give a tax cut to their rich friends and then they are going to raise property taxes. They're going to raise property taxes in Halton region. They're going to raise property taxes right across the 905. They're going to raise property taxes in virtually every municipality in this province.

They started out in January with their megaweek announcements and every one of them has had to be amended, changed or simply removed. The final insult: We hear the members opposite talk about setting a common tax rate. What they forget to tell you, what they don't tell you in the propaganda pieces is that it's going to be done by regulation, that is, no votes, no accountability, no local input - regulation. The government has no vision on education, it has no policy. Its policy is to take money out of classrooms. Its policy is to lay off teachers. Its policy is to raise property taxes so that it can make ill-advised commitments that most people in this province saw through right from the very beginning.

I join my colleagues in voting for this bill, but I would be remiss if I didn't comment on some of the things that the co-chair of the Education Improvement Commission has said, both in this House -


Interjection: Who's that?

Mr Duncan: Dave Cooke, the former education minister.

Mr Cooke said: "Some things that are being done here are close to what we were going to do. Even some of the decisions that the government has had to make, that it will be making, in terms of the new financing of school boards and how the dollars will be distributed...."

Then, on province-wide television, Mr Cooke said, "A lot of the reforms that we're working on, a reduction in the number of school boards, is something that we, the NDP, announced, that I, the Minister of Education, announced when we were in government.


Interjection: Dave Cooke?

Mr Duncan: Dave Cooke said that. Dave Cooke and Mike Harris working on education together.

What else did he say? Mr Marchese spoke of decentralization versus centralization. Here's what Dave Cooke had to say, "We have had in our province through the 1970s and 1980s the most decentralized education system probably in the western world, where nobody was responsible for anything, where we basically had 168 ministries of education."

I want to conclude with the last thing that Mr Cooke had to say to our teachers' federations, our partners in education:

"I think that they are, but I also think that the leadership of the teachers' federations have got to understand their part in the role is to provide leadership for change, and for the last 10 years they have virtually opposed every reform that's not selling with the public."

At least I'll say this for Mr Cooke: He has been consistent over the last five years, unlike his party, and don't think the people of this province will forget that.


Mr Lessard: I want to speak in support of Bill 168, a bill to repeal Bill 160, in support of our NDP leader, Howard Hampton. I think he reflects the views of hundreds of thousands of people in the province who recognize that Bill 160 is all about centralization of power. It's all about withdrawing hundreds of millions of dollars from our education system and has nothing to do with improving the quality of education in Ontario.

When the Premier spoke on third reading of Bill 160, he said that this was going to be an historic occasion in Ontario. One wonders, if it's so historic, why the NDP didn't even get a chance to participate in third reading debate. A mere two minutes, that's all that we were allowed to speak on it.

This is a government that has been acting in a dictatorial and undemocratic fashion for the past two years, and that's why members like myself and other members of the NDP didn't even get a chance to participate in debate on Bill 160, so I'm pleased to be able to finally have that opportunity today. But this demonstrates that this is a government that really isn't interested in listening.

Mike Harris wanted to pick a fight with teachers because he thought that was a fight that he was going to be able to win. He thought he was going to be able to get the support of parents who were going to be upset during a teachers' political protest in having to make alternative child care arrangements. That's why he introduced Bill 161, as a bribe to parents for that inconvenience.

But parents started to ask themselves, why would mild-mannered, middle-income, predominantly women teachers leave their classrooms, leave the students that they have dedicated their lives to, risk being found to be taking part in an illegal action and give up $2,000 in pay? Parents began to ask themselves, "Why would they do that?" That was when they realized that Bill 160 was nothing more than an attempt by this government to provoke, to antagonize, to intimidate and to inflame teachers. It was a smokescreen to permit them to pull out hundreds of millions of dollars from the education system. Parents realized that this didn't have anything to do with the improvement of the quality of education. That was when the plan of Mike Harris began to unravel.

1150

People began to recognize that what this government is trying to do is facilitate a move towards charter schools in Ontario. That's the way we see this leading. The government won't admit that. If you ask them, "Do you agree?" on charter schools, they won't give you an answer. They'll skate all over on that issue. But we know that parents faced with a school system that is being deprived of resources are going to start to look for other alternatives.

We've seen what that leads to in Detroit, right across the river from the area I represent in Windsor. We've seen inner-city public schools deprived of resources deteriorating to the point where the quality of education is really unacceptable and people are moving out to the suburbs where they have charter schools. It's the privatization of education that we're concerned about, and that's what we see Bill 160 heading us towards. We need to stop that.

Clearly, with Bill 160 we can see that the gig is up for the right-wing zealots who have led the revolutionaries to the edge of the cliff. The NDP will be more than happy to push them over the edge. We'll be doing that in the coming years.


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): I have a lot of things I want to get to and I won't have the time to do it, but I had to rise and defend the third party a little bit from the member from the opposition party who said they were inconsistent. Everyone in this House knows there are two parties in here that are consistent: the government party and the third party. They're very socialist and they're not afraid to say that. That's their position and you have to give them credit for being consistent.

The member from the Liberal Party accused them of being inconsistent. They may be, on this issue, a little bit. He pointed out why that's so. But let's talk about the Liberal Party inconsistencies. The Liberal leader in 1993 put forward a private member's bill that would have limited the teachers' right to strike. In a speech in 1993 Dalton McGuinty, the leader of the Liberal Party, argued that teachers' strikes often alienate children from the school system.

I'll quote from Mr McGuinty, the leader of the Liberal Party: "Apart from the days lost in school, I think it's important to understand that - I've been informed by a number of principals - some students simply do not return to school after a strike." He walked a picket line for two weeks, and Mr McGuinty said, "Stay out longer." Was he thinking about his own political fortunes at that point in time, or was he thinking about the kids? I'll let people at home decide that.

Let's also talk about consistency. Where are the Liberals on this? In all debates on 160 and 161, they've never said where they stood on 95% of the issues with regard to Bill 160. Why haven't they said? I'll tell you. On a TV interview, Mr McGuinty, the leader of the Liberal Party opposite - we want you to know him, by the way - said, "We don't have any specific policies right now." No wonder they won't give us a position; they don't have any policies.

After my defence of the third party, I want to say that there has been a ton of myths created around Bill 160. Many of those myths are still propagated today. The first person to come out and try to really dispel some of those myths, a third-party person, was in fact Dave Cooke the former NDP education minister. The member from the Liberal Party read several of his quotes. One of those was:

"It's not centralization; it's a definition of who's going to do what. There's going to be stronger school councils. There's going to be some decentralization to the school level. There's a clearer role of what school boards are going to do and there's a clearer role of what the Ministry of Education does, along with the College of Teachers and the accountability agency" - an independent agency set up by this government.

I think that's extremely relevant. The member opposite read the quote that the teachers' unions have opposed virtually every change in this system. One of their own, Herman van der Veen of Oshawa, a long-time member of the Canadian Auto Workers' Union, now retired, said that the protesters reminded him of both his union and the NDP. "It's always their way or the highway. I'm tired of these people telling me how to think."

So are a lot of other people out there. In fact, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association, also concerned about all the myths around Bill 160, put out their own paper to dispel some these myths, all kinds of myths.

Interjection.


The Acting Speaker: Order, the member for Sudbury.

Mr Maves: Let me quote from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association: "The discussion around Bill 160 is accompanied by much misunderstanding or misrepresentation of its content and meaning."

It really needs to be told. Many other people in the press have caught on to these myths. Here was one article that came out: "Myths and legends of Bill 160." Another one subsequent to that: "The truth about education reform. Exploding more of the myths and legends surrounding Ontario's Bill 160."

The Toronto Star even comes out with a December 3 story and says: "Myths still surround Bill 160."

We have to stop this misrepresentation.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am going to try to bring some statesman-like qualities to this debate. I have listened to all these partisan rants from everybody in the House. I want to indicate that I think there are a lot of people out there who, regardless of what their political affiliation happens to be, have a very strong interest in education.

I'd like to characterize what has happened as not the way the government characterizes it. The government, or the spokespersons for the government, would characterize it as a fight between the teachers of Ontario and the government of Ontario. In reality it is a fight between those who believe in a strong, vibrant, high-quality, publicly financed education system and those who do not.

I am sure there are people of all political affiliations who have a feeling that our education system requires the kind of solid support that the government of the day can provide on any occasion.

What happened was this government wanted to use Bill 160 to take money out of the education system. Already having removed $553 million from the education system, the government wasn't content. It's unfortunate because I know some of my friends on the government side had to go to public meetings where they were told to say. "This has nothing to do about money."

Then the Premier conceded, after the document revealing the terms of the deputy minister's contract was put out that said she had to remove $667 million more dollars from the education system - the government then shifted focus and said, "Yes, it is about taking money out of the system."

While a lot of people would like to see all of that money restored to the system, what they were particularly concerned about was that even more money was being taken out beyond what the government had already taken out of the system. They were looking for any savings that came from amalgamation or administrative cuts in terms of reduction of costs to be put back into the classroom in education. Unfortunately, the government saw it as an effort to remove more teachers from the system. You see, that's how you get the $667 million out of it.

The minister admitted himself that at least 7,500 teaching positions would be removed permanently from the education system. I know some of the members think you're going to bring more young people into the system. These are permanent positions leaving. My friend from Lanark will remember the press conference Mr Johnson had in the hallway the last day of the amendments, when the media asked him how many positions will be leaving the education system. He said 7,500 on that occasion. He said that publicly to members of the press gallery.

My concern is that we're seeing a drastic reduction in the number of front-line employees, those who deliver education services, in this province, and that we're having boards of education reduced to simply rubber stamps in the province when in fact I think local people have wanted to have the kind of impact and the kind of control that comes at the local level. I know that some of the members are embarrassed by this because traditionally the Conservative Party has believed in that kind of local control, which I think has been beneficial to education over the years.


The Acting Speaker: The leader of the third party, you have two minutes.

Mr Hampton: In response to some of the comments that have been made, it's interesting that the government tries to cast the debate as either you're for Bill 160 and you're for the government's agenda or you're in favour of the status quo. In other words, the government tries to say you're either in favour of taking $1.5 billion out of the system or you're not, you're either in favour of laying off between 5,000 and 10,000 teachers or you're not, or you're in favour of a centralized system or you're not, that there are no other options.

One of the reasons I brought forward this bill is to be able to emphasize that there are other options. It was a very good royal commission that produced this report, For the Love of Learning. They outline a number of other options that are unfortunately not part of Bill 160, not part of this government's direction. They outline the need for a greater investment in early childhood education and for junior kindergarten. Instead, what has this government done? It has eliminated early childhood education and has cut junior kindergarten.

It is a report that talks about the need to form a new partnership between parents and teachers. What has this government done? It has attacked teachers and it has ignored parents. It's a report that outlines the need to make new investments in adult education, outlines the need to equip us better. What has this government done? It has cut adult education.

That is why I brought this bill to the Legislature: to outline that Bill 160 must be repealed. There is a better alternative for education in Ontario.


The Acting Speaker: The time provided for private members' public business has expired.

IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will deal first with ballot item number 3, standing in the name of Mr Phillips.

Mr Phillips has moved private member's resolution number 84. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

BILL 160 REPEAL ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 ABROGEANT LE PROJET DE LOI 160


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): We will now deal with ballot item number 2, standing in the name of Mr Hampton.

Mr Hampton has moved second reading of Bill 168, An Act to Protect our Children's Education and Defend Local Democracy.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour, say "aye."

All those opposed, say "nay."

In my opinion, the nays have it.

The division bells rang from 1204 to 1209.

IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Phillips has moved private member's notice of motion number 84. All those in favour of the motion will please rise.

Ayes

Agostino, Dominic

Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Crozier, Bruce

Cullen, Alex

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Hoy, Pat

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Laughren, Floyd

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed will please rise.

Nays

Baird, John R.

Boushy, Dave

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Danford, Harry

Doyle, Ed

Ecker, Janet

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Mushinski, Marilyn

O'Toole, John

Parker, John L.

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Sampson, Rob

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 32; the nays are 52.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

BILL 160 REPEAL ACT, 1997 / LOI DE 1997 ABROGEANT LE PROJET DE LOI 160


The Acting Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Mr Hampton has moved second reading of Bill 168. All those in favour of the motion will please rise.

Ayes

Agostino, Dominic

Bartolucci, Rick

Bisson, Gilles

Boyd, Marion

Bradley, James J.

Brown, Michael A.

Castrilli, Annamarie

Christopherson, David

Colle, Mike

Conway, Sean G.

Crozier, Bruce

Cullen, Alex

Curling, Alvin

Duncan, Dwight

Gerretsen, John

Gravelle, Michael

Hampton, Howard

Hoy, Pat

Kormos, Peter

Kwinter, Monte

Lalonde, Jean-Marc

Laughren, Floyd

Lessard, Wayne

Marchese, Rosario

Martel, Shelley

Martin, Tony

Phillips, Gerry

Pouliot, Gilles

Ruprecht, Tony

Sergio, Mario

Silipo, Tony

Wildman, Bud


The Acting Speaker: All those opposed will please rise.

Nays

Baird, John R.

Boushy, Dave

Carroll, Jack

Chudleigh, Ted

Clement, Tony

Danford, Harry

Doyle, Ed

Ecker, Janet

Fisher, Barbara

Flaherty, Jim

Ford, Douglas B.

Froese, Tom

Galt, Doug

Gilchrist, Steve

Grimmett, Bill

Hardeman, Ernie

Harnick, Charles

Hastings, John

Hudak, Tim

Jackson, Cameron

Johns, Helen

Johnson, Bert

Jordan, W. Leo

Kells, Morley

Leadston, Gary L.

Marland, Margaret

Martiniuk, Gerry

Maves, Bart

McLean, Allan K.

Munro, Julia

Murdoch, Bill

Mushinski, Marilyn

Newman, Dan

O'Toole, John

Parker, John L.

Preston, Peter

Rollins, E.J. Douglas

Ross, Lillian

Sampson, Rob

Saunderson, William

Shea, Derwyn

Smith, Bruce

Snobelen, John

Spina, Joseph

Stewart, R. Gary

Tascona, Joseph N.

Tilson, David

Turnbull, David

Vankoughnet, Bill

Wettlaufer, Wayne

Wilson, Jim

Witmer, Elizabeth

Wood, Bob

Young, Terence H.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 32; the nays are 54.

The Acting Speaker: I declare the motion lost.

All matters relating to private members' business having been completed, I will now leave the chair and the House will resume at 1:30 this afternoon.

The House recessed from 1216 to 1330.

MEMBERS' STATEMENTS

TOM DAVIES


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): It is with a great deal of sadness that I inform the House today that Ontario's longest-serving regional council chair, Tom Davies from the region of Sudbury, passed away this morning after a very courageous battle with cancer.

The people of our region mourn with Tom's wife, Sally, and their children, Craig, Ward, Gordie, Susie and Scott. Their grief is our grief. Their loss is our loss.

Tom dedicated his political life, which spanned over 30 years, to improving the viability of our region. His main thrusts were our region's survival and its growth. Tom's ability to remain focused and to keep his priorities in tune with the common man is part of the reason that Tom continually was reappointed as our regional chair.

One of Tom's priorities was the youth of our region. He believed that our youth should be able to come home, to return to meaningful jobs, and he devoted his energies to ensuring that happened.

We in the Sudbury region owe much to Tom Davies for his focus, his dedication, his energy and his commitment. Tom considered our region to be his family. As a family, today we mourn his passing.

PRIVATIZATION OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): This government's orgy of privatization of valued public services is leading not only to chaos in communities across this province but, in the instance of its unmitigated commitment to the privatization of correctional services, is putting communities at risk. It proposes to privatize jails and correctional institutions across this province so that its corporate friends can make huge profits and so that the prospect of corrections and rehabilitation can be abandoned in the meantime.

I'm calling upon people across this province to write and call their MPPs with this message: "Don't jeopardize public safety for private profit. Warehousing hundreds of inmates in poorly staffed, privately run mega-jails threatens community safety." In this government's first experience of privatization, Camp Getaway up in Barrie, they left the keys in the van so the young offenders could drive away instead of having to jump a fence.

We know, as a result of the American experience, that private jails are no cheaper to operate. We also know that persons working in privatized jails and inmates serving time in privatized jails are at risk because of the laxer standards that privatized jails, motivated by profit, undergo. We say no to privatization of jails in Ontario.

EDUCATION REFORM


Mrs Lillian Ross (Hamilton West): The last few weeks have seen the piles of rhetoric over our government's education reforms, Bill 160, growing higher by the day.

Critics of our reforms don't want the public to know that our reforms will mean teachers will spend more time with their secondary students, the same as the average time teachers across the country spend in their classrooms.

Much is made by the special interests about sweeping powers that Bill 160 allegedly gives to the Minister of Education. In reality, the education reform bill transfers existing powers from the Municipal Act and places them in the Education Act. These are powers that former education ministers have always had.

Perhaps this is the reason former Liberal education minister John Sweeney recognized these powers are nothing new. Perhaps it's because Bill 160 is the result of the recommendations of the Education Improvement Commission, chaired by former NDP Education Minister David Cooke.

Whatever the reason, members of the opposition must begin to be honest with the public. Education reforms have been needed in Ontario for years, as the leader of the Liberal opposition acknowledged when he introduced his bill to ban teacher strikes.

Those on the opposition benches must be straightforward about what's really in Bill 160, since there is perhaps only one thing Ontarians want more than reforms, and that's honesty.

COMMUNITY CARE


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I would like to bring to the attention of the Minister of Health that more and more people are suffering because of cuts to hospital funding and to home care services.

I would like to quote from a letter I received yesterday from Angela Clark of Orléans, whose parents are 75 and 80 years of age. She wrote:

"My understanding was that this government was to do all possible to keep older persons cared for in their own home. Prior to my dad being admitted and released from hospital, my parents were receiving four hours of home care services a week."

On Tuesday, December 9, Mrs Clark was informed that as of December 22, three days before Christmas, her parents will be receiving only an hour and a half of home care per week: all this because of budget cuts. What a Christmas gift.

This government is cutting hospital funding, closing hospitals and sending people to be cared for at home at the same time Mike Harris is cutting funding for home care services. The Minister of Health should do what she said she would do: reinvest the savings from hospital closures in services such as home care. This situation must be addressed immediately in order to ensure that people like Angela's parents are cared for and families can get support from home care services as promised by your government.

HAMILTON COUNCIL


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): I rise to bring attention to a major article in the Hamilton Spectator today which talks about and profiles the new members of our Hamilton city council. I want to add my congratulations to Dennis Haining in ward 3, Bill Kelly in ward 7, Duke O'Sullivan in ward 8, Ron Corsini in ward 2 and Andrea Horwath in ward 2. We've elected what I think is one of the best regional councils and city councils in recent history, and under the leadership of Mayor Bob Morrow and regional chairman Terry Cooke, I think we have a team that is ready to take on whatever this Tory government decides to throw at us.

Make no mistake about it: What you are doing to our communities is significant. Your downloading, for example, is going to put major pressure on property taxes and public services at a time when our constituents and citizens need them more than ever.

I would say to this government that this team of aldermen and regional councillors, along with myself and my colleague from Hamilton East, will continue to do everything we can to fight your mean-spirited, anti-community agenda at the same time as we point out the role of the apologists, in the name of Trevor Pettit and Lillian Ross, who just gave an example of that kind of apologist mentality in defending Bill 160, another piece of legislation that's going to hurt our community.

This is a team locally that's ready for whatever you decide to throw at them. No matter what you do to our community, we are going to survive and thrive, because Hamilton matters.

HICKS, MORLEY LAW FIRM


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): On Tuesday, the member for Sault Ste Marie, hiding behind parliamentary immunity, stood in his place and made allegations against a number of people who lack a voice in this chamber and therefore are unable to defend themselves.

Referring to the law firm Hicks, Morley, he said, "...under the Peterson and Rae governments, the firm was left out in the cold."

In fact, according to public accounts, Hicks, Morley has provided legal services to governments of all affiliations. Check the public accounts for Management Board Secretariat. In 1989-90 under the Liberals, $267,000 went to Hicks, Morley; in 1990-91, $252,000; in 1991-92, the first full fiscal year of the new NDP government, $420,000; in 1992-93, $158,000; in 1993-94, $264,000; in 1994-95, $76,000. That's an average of $230,000 per year under the NDP. The 1995-96 public accounts tabled by this government show a figure of $216,000, 6% lower than the NDP average.

But those figures just apply to Management Board. Under the NDP, other ministries used Hicks, Morley, even the Ministry of Education, where the member for Sault Ste Marie spent five years as parliamentary assistant. In 1990-91 it spent $55,000; in 1991-92 it spent $49,000. Even a current member of the Premier's office did work for the Ministry of the Solicitor General under the NDP.

I do not just suggest the member for Sault Ste Marie should do better research before speaking in this House; I think he should stand in his place, withdraw his remarks and apologize for casting groundless aspersions on people who are unable to defend themselves.

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MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): Lately we have been asking the Minister of Health if the minister would consider rectifying the situation in Malden Park Continuing Care Centre where we have chronic care patients who require, and who continue to require, chronic care levels because that is the condition these people are in. The minister has so far refused.

We would like the minister to answer a very simple question. The government must fund $208 per bed for chronic care beds in Windsor. They will be funding these beds in Windsor, whether the bed is sitting in Malden Park centre or in a refurbished old wing of a hospital, at an additional cost of $25 million. If the minister is insistent on not answering that very simple question - why would you spend $25 million to refurbish for chronic care beds when you currently have a chronic care centre with chronic care patients and where you need to fund $208 per chronic care bed anyway? Why would this government use that kind of logic to overspend capital, let alone the amount of money we are going to have to fund-raise to refurbish another unit for a chronic care centre? I would like that answered by the minister.

I would also like the minister to take all of this into consideration so that she will rescind this decision, because it's simply the right thing to do.

MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): I want to inform the House today that this morning a provincial court justice of the peace fined the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources $1,200 for violating the Environmental Assessment Act in the Temagami area. It is my understanding that this is the first time in Ontario's history that an Ontario ministry has been fined for contravening environmental laws. On September 11 of this year, MNR pleaded guilty to violating section 16 of the Environmental Assessment Act.

In October 1996, MNR permitted the construction of an access road to Cross Lake, a contravention of the Temagami comprehensive land use plan which the Tory cabinet approved in June 1996. Cross Lake forms an eastern extension of Lake Temagami and is home to a sensitive lake trout fishery that is threatened by motorized access created by the construction of the road.

This is yet another example of the Harris government running roughshod over the environment and taking the law into its own hands. It is a complete embarrassment, or it should be, that one government ministry has to charge another.

I am happy to see that the judge rejected the MOEE and MNR joint submission that MNR should not be punished for breaking the law. It's about time that this government stopped breaking the law and started protecting the environment instead of helping to destroy it.

BLOOD DONATION


Mr Joseph N. Tascona (Simcoe Centre): Canada has a strong tradition of giving and helping those in need. One method whereby Canadians can continue to assist others is through blood donor clinics. Despite the current questions surrounding the Canadian blood supply, it is a vital part of our health care system.

During the winter's treacherous driving conditions, especially in my area of the province, Simcoe Centre, a well-stocked blood supply is an important aspect of community health.

Donating blood can become part of this season of giving. In Barrie there will be a number of clinics, including one on December 19, from 10 am to 2 pm, at the Army, Navy and Air Force Club on George Street. Members of my staff have volunteered to promote the clinic and assist in providing the restorative snacks and beverages.

A few minutes of your time can help ensure that this holiday season can be celebrated by everyone, even those unfortunate enough to need emergency transfusions.

I know that other members of my caucus have helped volunteer at blood donor clinics in their communities. I would like to urge all members of this Legislature and of the community at large to remember to donate the gift of life during this holiday season.

ORAL QUESTIONS


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance. Is the Minister of Finance going to be here? Does anyone know?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): House leader? Here is the House leader.

Mr Phillips: I'll stand down my question for a moment.

The Speaker: That's fine. Stand it down and we'll go to the second question.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT


Mr David Caplan (Oriole): My question is for the Minister of Education and Training. Three days ago, Minister, I asked you a question about the career employment preparation program. You didn't seem to know a lot about it at that time, so I'd like to go over some of the facts again with you today.

In April, your government cancelled the Futures program and replaced it with your CEPP program. On October 10, earlier this year, you reduced the placement targets by 40%, from 94,000 placements to 50,000. You've cut the budget 17.5%, a total of $42 million.

I've heard from many of the youth employment agencies, who've told me that this program has not lived up to your government's expectations. Clearly, Minister, this program is failing. Go on the record today. Tell me how far below your reduced target your on-the-job training numbers are.


Hon David Johnson (Minister of Education and Training): I can give the same response today that I gave earlier to the question, that the province of Ontario is investing about $180 million this year in terms of youth unemployment to assist young people. Indeed about 141,000 youths will be receiving training, job experience. I might say the $180 million is over double what the federal government spends in Ontario. The kind of problems that the government has encountered include the fact that the federal government has withdrawn some $2 billion from the province in terms of health, social services and education grants.

The member opposite, being a member of the Liberal Party, may wish to consult with anybody he knows within the federal government. If he happens to know any member of the federal government, he may wish to consult in terms of the federal level of funding. The provincial government has certainly invested a good deal of money, $180 million, and helped -


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Caplan: Your response tells me that clearly you don't understand that there is a youth unemployment crisis in Ontario today. You don't even understand the programs that your own ministry has run to address this crisis. Let me tell you a little bit more about the problems with CEPP. You've never launched the program. You've never advertised the program to the youth of Ontario or to the employers of Ontario. You say you're spending more money than ever on youth employment. Youth employment agencies haven't seen any of this increased spending. They see you spending $3.5 million on attack ads on teachers and school boards. What they don't see is any attempt by your ministry to promote its own programs.

What do you have to say, Minister, to your own agencies that are asking for your help? Will you tell the House today when you'll be launching this program so that youth employment agencies can begin to provide desperately needed jobs and training placements for the youth of Ontario?


Hon David Johnson: What I would say is that to the degree that there is any unemployment in Ontario, that's something we need to work on, whether the unemployment involves young people, whether the unemployment involves people of any age within Ontario. I'm pleased to say that at least in the province of Ontario there has been leadership to the degree that some 43,000 young people have found employment in new jobs in Ontario. This, I might say, is by far the vast majority across Canada. Almost all the jobs for the youth have been created right here in Ontario and this government is committed to continuing the program, the reductions in taxes, the reductions in red tape, the encouragement to business expansions. Those are the best programs to encourage employment, not only in the young people but in all the citizens of Ontario.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

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Mr Caplan: Minister, you can throw numbers around, you can pull them out of the air, but here are the real numbers: Youth unemployment in Ontario has grown from 15.5% to 17% over the same period last year to this year - Statistics Canada data. Your government cancelled the program and replaced it with CEPP because it was going to help the youth of Ontario. Your predecessor said that "unemployment among our youth is a very high priority for this government."

When will your ministry's actions live up to its words? You've reduced the targets for placements, almost cutting them in half. You've made it harder for young people to participate by eliminating everyone who is eligible for a federal program, by eliminating young people on social assistance from this program - they must go on Ontario Works - and ensuring that young people who are living and working even one day a week - if they lick envelopes one day of work, they can't apply for your program. Minister, can you at least try to help young people? Will you commit to promoting your own program? Will you commit to changing the guidelines so that more youth can participate in your program?


Hon David Johnson: One of the proposals put forward by this government through the Minister of Finance was that the federal government cut the employment insurance premiums to $2.20 for $100 of insurable earnings to eliminate the EI premiums for young Canadians, because, as we know, the people of Ontario pay more than their fair share of EI premiums.

What you might assist this government in doing is to talk with your colleagues, with your cousins in the federal government and say: "Look, the province of Ontario is putting emphasis on youth employment - 43,000 new jobs in Ontario in youth - emphasis on job creation - $180 million being spent, invested in our youth. Will the federal government get on board and cut the EI premiums for young Canadians? Will the federal government assist in this whole job prospect for young people?"

MUNICIPAL FINANCING


Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): My question is to the Minister of Finance. The minister will know that the mayors, reeves, wardens and council members are all, right now really, gathered around their television sets waiting for your announcement on how much money you're going to be providing them for 1998. They had the false start in January when Premier Harris announced certain numbers. They were changed in May. Then they were changed again in August. Today we are going to finally see those numbers - 20 days before the fiscal year starts for our municipalities.

Somebody started a nasty rumour that because of a computer glitch they may not get those numbers today. I'd like the minister to tell us that isn't the case, that the government isn't kind of closed for business today, and that our mayors and reeves will indeed get the numbers they need to set their budgets for 1998.


Hon Ernie L. Eves (Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance): I can tell you that it's not a nasty rumour; it happens to be factual. At 2 am this morning, as the Ministry of Finance was running off numbers, they did have a computer problem and they are, as we speak, running off numbers. The municipalities of Ontario will know where they stand tomorrow.

Mr Phillips: I love the government. Right now down at the Albany Club they're having their after-lunch brandies and they're laughing at you.

I blame myself a bit. I saw the minister yesterday at a press conference and he dropped this thing out of his pocket, "Ernie Eves's Municipal Dumping Numbers." I thought he would certainly have a backup. I was going to return it today but I could certainly send it over to the minister.

I assume that you run a government like a business. You must have had some backup. We've got literally hundreds of municipal clerks waiting for these numbers. They thought they had them in January. They changed in May. They changed in August. But today they were going to be there. Tell us it isn't so. Surely you've got some backup system that could have produced these numbers for the municipalities today. Surely you haven't got kind of a "Closed For Business Today, Open Tomorrow" sign over at the Frost Building.


Hon Mr Eves: No, I haven't noticed any signs over at the Frost Building lately.

With respect to numbers, municipalities have been given numbers as the reassessment in the province goes along, as they are available. They have been given numbers as and when the Ministry of Finance can provide them with them.

The member may want to belittle the civil servants at the Ministry of Finance, who have been working around the clock now for about 36 hours, but I think quite frankly he's doing a disservice to the many loyal and dedicated civil servants not only in the Ministry of Finance but in the province of Ontario. He may choose to belittle their efforts of working now for 36 straight hours, but I am not.

Being a Liberal, I know it's difficult. Liberals don't deal in the truth a lot.

Interjections.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Minister, you must withdraw that comment.

Hon Mr Eves: I'd be happy to withdraw that, Mr Speaker.

The Speaker: Final supplementary.

Mr Phillips: I'm sorry I made you bitter about all this. I know you're angry and you must be very embarrassed, and that's all understandable. But I say again to the community, here's the problem: They told us in January, "We've got the numbers." They released them, and they were wrong. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Education had to admit they were wrong. You just made a pure mistake of $500 million. So again in May, different numbers, and they were wrong.

Today, finally, we've got our municipal leaders watching this government in action. They've already told us, by the way, they think you're in chaos. They've already told us that you're flying by the seat of your pants. What other conclusion can our municipal leaders draw than that this government doesn't know what it's doing? You yourself, Minister, announced this press conference for today saying the numbers would be here. If any business tried to run like this, they'd be out of business.

Tell me again, how in the world could you ever be in charge of a ministry where you don't have a backup set of numbers to deal with something as important and as fundamental as our municipal budgets for 1998?


Hon Mr Eves: It isn't the numbers that are missing. It was the computer capacity at 2 am this morning to deal with the numbers.

Interjections.


The Speaker: Order.

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Even the computer won't swallow the numbers.

Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): A virus.

The Speaker: I caution you, you're both out of order. Minister.

Hon Mr Eves: Mr Speaker, through you to the honourable member, he may find telling the truth a difficult thing to accept. We're kind of used to -

The Speaker: Minister, you've got to steer clear of this truth accusation; it's out of order.

Hon Mr Eves: I said he is not telling the truth. What's out of order about that?

The Speaker: No, Minister. Don't argue with me. Minister, that's not what you said. You must withdraw that comment.

Hon Mr Eves: What I said, Mr Speaker, was the member may -

The Speaker: Minister, I'm not in a debating mood right now.

Hon Mr Eves: I withdraw.

The Speaker: Thank you.

Interjection.


The Speaker: Minister, with the greatest of respect, I suggest you use more caution. I caution you now. I don't want to hear any more about it. The comment is withdrawn. You've got an opportunity to answer the question.

Hon Mr Eves: I withdraw the comment, Mr Speaker. I apologize.

IPPERWASH PROVINCIAL PARK


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): I have a question for the Premier. I want to ask you about police tactical units or police tactical weapons units in Ontario. In 1989, Mr Douglas Drinkwalter, a very respected person, chaired a review of police tactical units and he came forward and made a number of recommendations. He said:

"Containment is the key principle of tactical unit operations. Tactical assault is the last option considered. It is only an option when all others have been exhausted and action is necessary to save lives."

Then, recommendation 2: "The primary objective of all police tactical units in Ontario must be the non-violent resolution of high-risk incidents to safeguard human lives."

The OPP adopted these principles; in fact, they became their operating principles. Can you tell me why the OPP would have abandoned these principles at Ipperwash park?


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): To the best of my knowledge, there's not a shred of evidence that they abandoned those principles.

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Mr Hampton: I think the facts speak for themselves. I think those facts were recorded at the trial, where an OPP officer was found guilty, that there was first of all no threat to human life at Ipperwash park and, second, there were possibilities of non-violent resolution at Ipperwash park. So the question remains: Why would the OPP disregard their own operating principles? Why would they disregard the results of this review, which very clearly said, "Containment is the key principle. Assault is the last option considered. It should be used only when all others have been exhausted and action is necessary to save lives. The primary objective must be the non-violent resolution" of these matters.

The only thing that happened at Ipperwash park is that your special assistant said to OPP officers when they were present, "Out of the park - nothing else." Why did they -


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I think the former Attorney General should know that the very matter he speaks about is before the courts and it's inappropriate to comment.

Mr Hampton: This question is not before the courts. This is not a question before the courts at all. This is the question, why did the OPP abandon their own operating principles? The reason for the Drinkwalter report is that at various times in the 1980s police tactical weapons squads had shot some innocent citizens of Ontario - Mr Bastien in Windsor. I believe there was also a case of a police officer himself being shot and killed innocently by a police tactical weapons squad. That's why the Drinkwalter inquiry was held. That's where these recommendations came from. That's why the OPP adopted these operating principles. They didn't want to be shooting innocent citizens of Ontario.

The only thing that intervened was your direction, "Get the Indians out of the park - nothing else." Why would the OPP abandon their own operating principles?


Hon Mr Harris: To the best of my knowledge, the OPP have not. There has been no change, and what took place is before the courts.

The Speaker: New question, leader of the third party.

Mr Hampton: Speaker, I haven't had an answer to this question, so I think I need to pursue it with the Premier. This is the philosophy of the tactics and rescue unit. It's reflected in the training manual: "Resolution of all situations using the minimal amount of force." That's what the OPP tactical weapons group is trained with. "The practice of containment with negotiation to resolve situations is foremost in the practices demonstrated by the OPP tactics and rescue unit." That's a direct quote.

The only thing that intervened at Ipperwash park was your directive translated through your administrative assistant to a meeting of OPP officers and other civil servants, saying, "Get the Indians out of the park - nothing else."

Why else would the OPP change their operating principles in this situation?


Hon Mr Harris: There's not a shred of evidence to support your statement. That's why the matter is before the courts.

Mr Hampton: This is not an issue before the courts. The only way this particular issue could be answered, "Why did the OPP change their operating principles?" would be if a public inquiry were held, if we had an inquiry where this very important question could be asked. The question again that needs to be answered across Ontario is, given the Drinkwalter report, given the long-standing practice of the OPP of containment with negotiation, why did the OPP change their operating principle? Premier, have you ever asked that question? Have you in your responsibility as Premier ever asked that question: Why did the OPP change their operating principle?

Hon Mr Harris: To the best of my knowledge, they have not.

Mr Hampton: What an incredible contradiction. It is clear at Ipperwash park that they didn't follow their operating principle. It is clear at Ipperwash park that the only thing that intervened was your directive, "Get the Indians out of the park - nothing else." So the question remains unanswered: Why did the OPP go against the Drinkwalter recommendations? Why did they go against their own operating principles? Why did they go against their own training manual? That's a question that in the interests of justice needs to be answered.

Premier, will you call a public inquiry so that question can be answered to the satisfaction of the George family, to the satisfaction of the OPP who I think need to answer this question and want to answer this question? Will you call that public inquiry so the whole world can discover why the OPP operated against their principle?


Hon Mr Harris: I have answered that question, the commissioner of the OPP has answered that question, the Attorney General has answered that question and the Solicitor General has answered that question. What has not been answered is what went wrong at Ipperwash, and that's the matter before the courts.

CASINOS


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): My question is for the Premier. I've been trying this week, as have members of the news media, without much success I might add, to get your Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations to come clean on the contracts that gambling organizations are going to sign to operate the new Mike Harris gambling halls, the so-called charity casinos that you are determined to force on municipalities and local people whether they want them or not. Whichever gambling outfit gets these contracts, it will mean millions of dollars of gambling profits going into their pockets.

Paul Burns, your former staffer and the former aide to Minister David Tsubouchi, is representing RPC Gaming and suggesting that he has a contract to operate a casino in North York. Premier, would you tell the people of Ontario if your former staffer Paul Burns had anything at all to do or had any knowledge of the contracts or requests for proposals for charity casinos when he was in the office of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations?


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): Not to the best of my knowledge, no.

Mr Bradley: Across the province there were referendums and plebiscites which were held where people expressed their view on charity casinos, as I call them, the new Mike Harris gambling halls. Almost universally across the province and often by wide margins they turned this down. Yet we have Mr Burns and apparently others out there believing they have a special in or a contract, a done deal to set up charity casinos in these various areas. In the contracts that are about to be signed or are signed, is there a provision that makes them contingent upon the approval of the local population or, if not, why not?

Hon Mr Harris: My understanding is that no location can be located in any municipality without the approval of that municipality.

PRIVATIZATION OF CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES


Mr Howard Hampton (Rainy River): A question again to the Premier: We've asked a number of questions about conflict of interest, about your former staff, your political staff, former civil servants and consultants to the government. We understand that in the last year your government paid more than $200,000 to a company named Partnering and Procurement Inc. The company was contracted by your government to provide an evaluation plan and develop a request for proposals for the design, construction, financing and operation of privately run prisons and jails. This is part of your new mega-jail strategy. We understand that a Mr Jim Robinson was the principal consultant who designed the request for proposals. We now understand that he left that operation and he is working for the private US company that is making a bid.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Question, please.

Mr Hampton: Premier, do you not see a conflict of interest here, where you bring someone in to design the proposal and then they go off and they -

The Speaker: Thank you.

Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I've never heard of any of them. Sorry; can't help you.

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Mr Hampton: The Premier obviously believes that all you have to do to avoid conflict of interest is pretend that you don't hear about it and pretend it doesn't exist.

Here's the situation: This person was contracted by your government to design the request for proposal. So he would have had all the information you'd need to bid on that request for proposal because he designed it. He then goes over to a private company and is operating for them in making the bid. He's now working with a private US company that is making a bid on one of these mega-jails. He was interviewed by the media and said: "I've now terminated my relationship with the Ontario government. They're not necessarily going to utilize the strategy I developed for them." But then he said a moment later in the interview, "It's unlikely the government will seek procurement documents from any other company because we're the only one there."


The Speaker: Question.

Mr Hampton: When are we going to see real conflict-of-interest legislation from your government, real conflict-of-interest legislation that protects -

The Speaker: Premier.

Hon Mr Harris: I'm not aware of any of this. The Solicitor General may know. I don't know why you don't ask him directly, but since you've asked me, I'm not aware of any of those. We are, as you know, bringing in tighter controls. We have indicated what those are and we've indicated that everybody is to comply with those whether it's passed or not. Presumably they either are operating under that or, if it happened before, they'd be operating under your guidelines, which we all know were not acceptable or satisfactory.

USE OF CROWN LAND


Mr E.J. Douglas Rollins (Quinte): My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Constituents have asked me about the Lands for Life consultation process that your ministry announced earlier in the year. The use of crown lands is vitally important to the wellbeing of the province of Ontario. How are the consultations proceeding, and how can individuals who cannot make those hearings, attend the public meetings, be in contact with you and become involved in the process?

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Minister.

Hon John Snobelen (Minister of Natural Resources): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I dimly remember the proceedings. I think it's to say, "Mr Speaker, through you to the member for Quinte." Is that correct?

The Speaker: That's good.

Hon Mr Snobelen: Thank you. The member asked a question that I know has been on the minds of many people across the province as they begin to become aware of some of the consultations that have gone on over the last few months in this Lands for Life initiative, where we are attempting, with the help of many people across the province, to do land use planning for those public lands. There is a balance, obviously, being reached between the use of those resources and the preservation and conservation of resources for future generations.

In my time, I have met with the chairs and some of the people who have been serving on the round tables for the boreal east, boreal west and the Great Lakes-St Lawrence round tables. I can tell you I am very encouraged by the enthusiasm of the people who are working on the round tables, the enthusiasm of the people who are making presentations to the round tables, and their dedication to the natural resources of the province. They also have told me that the technology and the information base the ministry has been able to provide have helped them do a very sophisticated job of planning the future of land use in the province.


Mr Rollins: Following this consultation process, what will the next stage be to develop these lands in that process?

Hon Mr Snobelen: Once the consultation process is complete - and there are meetings being held across Ontario, including southern Ontario, so that all the public can participate in these matters - we will go to a regional land use strategy, probably later on next spring, which will look at the very local circumstances and how to plan for the use of very local resources. That will be the second phase in this two-phase process to make sure we keep the right balance in our land use strategy in Ontario.

DEREGULATION OF MOVERS


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I've got a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Without warning, your government has stripped away the requirement that moving companies, the people who move furniture and household belongings, and other cartage companies that had to be licensed to ensure that they had insurance, to ensure that they didn't have criminal records, that they weren't fly-by-night operators - you have now, through your government, removed the regulation that they had to be licensed.

How could this be better for the consumer? How would you feel if you were a person who was shipping your furniture across a city and you were dealing with a company that perhaps wasn't bondable, didn't have any insurance? Is this good for your consumer?


Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I think we have to look and see what the context of this was. There was a hodgepodge of various types of ways of licensing movers across the province. One of the things we are looking at right now, in a comprehensive consumer protection bill coming up next year, is to address this problem, which is a very important problem. We are not without tools currently. We do have the ability under the Business Practices Act to lay charges. In fact, that's the vehicle in which we're exercising that right now.

Mr Colle: I think these moving companies, these fly-by-night operators, are thanking their lucky stars. The minister has given them a wonderful Christmas present because of the fact that they can rip off, they can not show up for jobs, they can do whatever they want, because they don't need licences. They probably will have no one checking them for insurance, no one checking if they've got a criminal record. It's a free-for-all.

As the minister in charge of protecting consumers, how can you sit there and condone this? Who will they call when their furniture disappears and never returns? Who will they call when their documents disappear? Who will they call when their parcels disappear? You've now made it a free-for-all. How is this good for the consumer?


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: The short answer is, they would call the same people they've been calling before, which would be our ministry investigators.

Interjections.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: To reiterate that, they'd call the same people who are in charge right now. We have investigators who pursue these matters, and they take it very seriously. Charges have been laid under the Business Practices Act; charges will continue to be laid under the Business Practices Act.

What we really need right now is a standard that will apply across the province, one that will protect the consumer. What is in place right now was a hodgepodge of various types of rules. Some communities did not even have any licensing or any rules. We have a standard that we need to apply not only in the city of Toronto, but right across the province.

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MEMBER'S CONDUCT


Mr David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre): My question is to the Premier. As you know, I've asked the Integrity Commissioner to look into some allegations concerning the member for Simcoe Centre, Joe Tascona.

My question to you today also concerns the same member, but it stems from completely unrelated issues which are not before the Integrity Commissioner. I want to ask about a letter you received in July of this year from Mr Tascona's business partner in Barrie. He raises a number of serious allegations about this member of your caucus, including falsification of official documents and shady business dealings. These are very serious allegations that were brought to your attention in July.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Order. Member for Hamilton Centre, I just would ask for a moment, please.

Member for Hamilton Centre, the difficulty I have is that I don't see the direct link between the administration of the province and the Premier's office and the question you're asking. If it's a conflict-of-interest question, I ask you to put it as with respect to a conflict of interest.

You're getting into very uncharted and dangerous waters with respect to the language you're using. I would ask you, if you're going to put the question with respect to conflict of interest, that you put it. Otherwise, I would ask that you reconsider your question.


Mr Christopherson: I appreciate your concerns and I also appreciate the seriousness of the issue and the sensitivity, quite frankly. My question, as you will see, Speaker, relates to correspondence that was sent to the Premier and it's about his response, or lack thereof, to a citizen in that correspondence.

To finish my question, if I can, Speaker, understanding that you are listening closely: Premier, the letter you received in July raised a number of serious allegations, as I've already mentioned. I'd like to know exactly what actions you took to look into the fact that serious allegations were being raised about a member of your caucus.


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I don't recall receiving the letter.

Mr Christopherson: Premier, these were very serious allegations about a member of your caucus. They were raised by Mr Tascona's business partner, who went on to say in his letter, to refresh your memory:

"As a citizen and taxpayer of this country, I would hope to be represented by persons with respect for the laws and guidelines of our institutions. Looking back at my experiences, how can I, or anyone else, for that matter, have trust in him representing us in government?" He went to you as Premier and Conservative Party leader, asking for "some help or input to resolve the situation."

You wrote back to him on July 16 with a pure brush-off. You said: "I can assure you that all members of the Ontario PC caucus enjoy my continued confidence and support. You may wish to apply to the Ontario legal aid plan."

Premier, why didn't you take any action when you were alerted to these serious concerns about a member of your own government?


Hon Mr Harris: I don't recall the letter. Perhaps it came into my office. Perhaps somebody responded. If you would like, I'd be happy to look at it. All you have to do any time is ask, and I'll look at it.

CASINO NIAGARA


Mr Bart Maves (Niagara Falls): My question is to the Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism. As the minister is aware, Casino Niagara celebrated its first anniversary on Wednesday morning, and as a gesture of goodwill, the casino again gave something back to its community.

Last year, this government announced funding for an MRI machine for the Niagara area, largely through the hard work of St Catharines-Brock member Tom Froese. Yesterday, Casino Niagara committed $500,000 towards the purchase of a new MRI machine for the Niagara region.

I know the positive economic impact that Casino Niagara has had on my riding, but could the minister tell us how Casino Niagara has impacted on both the region and the province?


Hon Al Palladini (Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism): I would like to thank the honourable member for Niagara Falls for the question. On the first anniversary of Casino Niagara's opening, I want to congratulate them on their great success. Niagara's success story goes well beyond dollars and cents. Casino Niagara has benefited the community and the entire region of Niagara as well. The casino project is responsible for over 6,000 direct and indirect new jobs in the Niagara region, and a total of 9,000 jobs in the province as a whole.

According to the Niagara business manager of the Royal Bank, between 1990 and 1995, the Niagara region had only seen two new major developments over $2 million. Since the beginning of 1996, 26 new major developments are in the works and another 13 are being seriously considered.

In the last four years, four out of every 10 new homes sold in the Niagara region have been bought by casino employees. That means spinoffs in appliances, televisions and -


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Supplementary.

Mr Maves: There is no doubt, Minister, that Casino Niagara has had a positive impact on the region's economy, but some citizens have expressed concern about possible negative impacts on the community. Could the minister tell us how the Ontario Casino Corp is ensuring that the safety of the community is not compromised by the presence of a casino?

Hon Mr Palladini: In order to provide a high level of safety for the community and the millions of people who visit the casino, the Ontario Casino Corp devotes substantial resources to security and law enforcement. The Ontario Gaming Commission, through a seconded Ontario Provincial Police contingent, provides full-time police presence inside the casino and maintains offices on site. Each of our commercial casinos directly funds 25 additional police officers to patrol the neighbourhood around the casino.

Niagara Regional Police have indicated that they have not seen a major increase in crime, and because of careful planning and measures taken by law enforcement agencies, people feel safer and more secure in the downtown area than before. I'm certain that municipal leaders of the Niagara region feel the same way, and many have said so. By implementing these measures we are ensuring the safety and security of both the residents and the visitors to Niagara Falls.

HOSPITAL RESTRUCTURING


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): My question is to the Minister of Health. Since your Health Services Restructuring Commission came to Thunder Bay last year, we've lost 200 acute care beds in our city. The results, to put it mildly, have been disastrous. We have patients left out in the hallways, patients turned away because there are no beds available and over 100 nursing positions lost. In other words, the hospitals are more than full and patient care is declining.

The system is stressed to the point of breaking, yet the Health Services Restructuring Commission is requiring the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital to close 30 more acute care beds by the end of March 1998. Surely you realize this cannot be done without putting patient care at even greater risk.

Minister, you control the funding to our hospital system. My question is, in light of these facts, will you guarantee that Thunder Bay Regional Hospital will get the necessary funding so that these 30 beds do not need to be closed and patient care is not further dramatically compromised?


Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): To the member opposite, yes, I certainly can appreciate the concerns that you have just indicated are there for your community and I want you to know that we are very carefully monitoring the situation in Thunder Bay.

As you know, the recommendation has been made by the commission that there will be a total reinvestment of $68.7 million, and we will continue to ensure in the interim that the needs of all the patients and the appropriate funding will be allocated.


Mr Gravelle: Minister, we just need the assurance from you that there will not be more acute care beds closed in our community.

Let me move into another area. You have already acknowledged that the restructuring commission's directives were far too demanding when you recently authorized the reopening of 29 long-term beds at Hogarth Westmount Hospital on a temporary basis.

Minister, the long-term-care needs in our community have been vastly underestimated, and I believe even your own officials are now recognizing that. The fact is that this temporary designation is causing a great deal of anxiety because should you decide to close them again, another crisis will be created. It's become very clear that the Ministry of Health must work with the local community to come to a permanent solution related to our long-term-care needs.

Minister, will you withdraw the temporary designation on the Westmount beds and tell the people of Thunder Bay that you will not close more beds in our community and that you will instead work towards a mutually agreed upon sizing of the long-term-care needs in our community?


Hon Mrs Witmer: Yes, again I would say to you that we are in communication with the people in Thunder Bay and we are endeavouring to make sure that the needs of that community are going to be met, whether it's in the area of the acute care or whether it's in the area of the long-term care. We hope to have a permanent solution that we're able to share with you in the very near future.

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I wonder if he's coming back.

The Speaker: I believe he is. Do you want to stand it down?

Ms Churley: I will stand it down.

1430

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE COURTS


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough-Ellesmere): My question is for the Attorney General. About a year ago you announced the creation of two specialized domestic violence courts, one in North York and one in Toronto. I wonder if you could update this House today on what has been achieved for the women and children of Ontario at these two courts, please.

Hon Charles Harnick (Attorney General, minister responsible for native affairs): I thank the member for Scarborough-Ellesmere for the question. I certainly want to say that this government has led the way among all Canadian provinces in combating and prosecuting domestic violence. We made it clear to abusers that domestic violence is a crime and will not be tolerated in this province.

Today I'm pleased to report that at the Toronto court, where we've set up the project, prosecutors are now getting 50% more convictions than before the court was established. We're using new prosecutorial devices, dealing with evidence such as 911 tapes, photos of the crime scene and victims' injuries, as well as audio-video recordings of victims' statements to police, which have reduced the pressure on victims who testify in court.

As well, in our North York court, guilty pleas have increased from 30% to 76%, and more accused are getting treatment to help them stop their violent behaviour. The North York court is designed to break the cycle of abuse through early, intensive intervention with first-time minor offenders where there is no physical injury to the victim.


Ms Mushinski: I understand that these courts are expanding to six other locations across Ontario. Could you please tell us what the status of this expansion is?

Hon Mr Harnick: Three of the six new courts are already operational, in Ottawa, Durham region and Brampton. The London court started selecting cases earlier this month, and the Hamilton and North Bay courts will be up and running early in the new year. We've been able to get these courts working so quickly thanks to the cooperation we've received from our justice partners, including judges, crown attorneys, community organizations and police. They are all invaluable to the success of the new domestic courts projects.

Based on our experience to date, I'm confident that all six new courts will help to further combat the problem of domestic violence, while supporting victims of this crime during and after the court process. As well I'd like to say that we're looking at other locations, smaller court centres to expand this court to so that we can ensure that the best possible results are obtained as we prosecute in areas of domestic violence.

GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): My question is to the Premier. The environment conference in Kyoto is coming to a close and countries around the world have reached an historic agreement about targets for greenhouse gases. My question isn't about the targets today; it's about your loose lips and the conflicting messages you're sending.

You are critical of the deal. You said the targets are unrealistic and unreachable. How can you say that? What an embarrassment, that you would belittle a major accomplishment even before the ink is dry on the paper. A commitment was made in Kyoto by Canada, and Ontario was represented by your own environment minister.

Premier, which is it? What is Ontario's Kyoto commitment, with the Premier saying one thing when his environment minister is saying the opposite?


Hon Michael D. Harris (Premier): I'm surprised anybody has quoted me on a Kyoto commitment, given that I haven't been in Kyoto. I've been right here, lucky you and I, while the minister has been in Kyoto. I'm very proud of Canada's commitment to global warming; I'm very proud of Canada's commitment to reduction of gas emissions; I'm very proud of Minister Sterling, who undoubtedly, from all reports, has led the way for Canada, shaped the policy, taken the world by storm. In fact, all the reports I've had back are that it's Ontario, Ontario, Ontario, and Norm Sterling, Norm Sterling that have led the world in this.

The only area that I have been critical in - and certainly not in objectives; I'm not even critical of the federal objectives which were set before Kyoto. I've been critical of those who set targets without laying forth the science and technology that are there. I had not commented on Kyoto. I'm happy to do so now.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Thank you. Supplementary.

Ms Churley: That was an embarrassing answer. I still don't think the Premier knows what his position is. He may be making light of it now, but it is a serious issue and we have to get clarification here because we do have to make long-term commitments if we're going to reach those targets. It's important that jurisdictions around the world work towards reducing greenhouse gases to combat global warming. We have to set an example here in Ontario.

Premier, it really doesn't help that you are dismissing agreements just made as unreachable. That's what you said. "Unreachable, unrealistic, pie in the sky," you said. Premier, I'm going to say it again, your loose lips are belittling an important accomplishment for the environment even before the ink is dry on the paper. I want you to retract your statement and commit Ontario to fulfilling Canada's international responsibilities on global warming. Will you do that today and say that you will commit Ontario to those targets?


Hon Mr Harris: Given that it's Norm Sterling, the Ontario minister that led the world and led Canada to these commitments and these goals, of course. You know we are there. Let me tell you something further that we will do. We will lead the way with environmental technology so not only Ontario and Canada can meet commitments, but so the rest of the world can as well. We have constantly led the way in that.

I don't know where you're getting your quotes from. Maybe it was from the lack of science that was evident when the federal government said on the previous commitment, "Oh, the United States is doing this, so we'll one-up them." I asked: "Where is your research? Where is all of that that's there?" I think we need to question that, but the commitment is there, and listen, for Ontario it's a double commitment because this province is going to be mushrooming, growing, booming, welcoming new immigration that we'll need desperately to take up all the new jobs we are creating. So it's a double commitment on behalf of Ontario.

COMMUNITY CARE


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): My question is to the Minister of Health. My office has been flooded by calls lately about the home care services cuts. Yesterday, this lady, Mrs Angela Clark, wrote me a letter. I even went to her home to pick it up for Mr and Mrs Verlaeckt from Orleans. They were told that as of December 22 they will be receiving a beautiful Christmas gift. In the past they were getting four and a half hours of home care services a week. Her husband was admitted to hospital. Coming out of the hospital now they've been told that their home care services will be cut to an hour and a half a week.

All the time, Minister, you've been saying all the funding that has been accumulated from the hospital cuts will be going towards home care services. Would you guarantee that the home care services will be made available to those who are in need of it?


Hon Elizabeth Witmer (Minister of Health): Mr Speaker, to the minister for seniors.

Hon Cameron Jackson (Minister without Portfolio [Seniors Issues]): I'd like to thank the honourable member for his question and would hope that if he has a specific case he bring any correspondence he has in the case forward, but I want to assure the member that very competent and capable staff of the Ottawa-Carleton CCAC are doing specific reviews of each of their cases. When I was in Ottawa a few weeks ago I met with the staff and the board and we discussed their ability to review, on a case-by-case basis, the growing demand in the Ottawa Valley. In fact, they indicated to me that those reviews would take them a considerable period of time and they are not as yet completed. I want to assure the member opposite that this government is still analysing the restructuring commission's recommendations with respect to expanded service in the Ottawa area and -

The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Supplementary.

Mr Lalonde: Minister, even though you are saying at the present time they're reviewing every case, let me tell you that even at Hawkesbury, Mr Lascelles wrote me a letter just yesterday. He was advised that his mother came out of the hospital. She was looking for a place, a senior citizens' home to place her. They didn't have the money. The answer was, if you don't have the money, if we don't have the money from the government, there's no way we could accept anyone at this Pension du Bonheur in Alfred. It's because of all the cuts this government has been going through at the present time.

Hon Mr Jackson: First of all, I want to remind the member that funding has not been cut in the Ottawa area. There's been an increase in funding to the community support services for the seniors and the disabled in the Ottawa area. As far as the province is concerned, we've had an additional $100 million injected into the facility side, which the member referenced in his question, and another $120 million put into community-based services like CCACs. In fact, the level of service in Ottawa is as high as $96.27 per resident, whereas in Peel region it's only $45.06 per resident. Ottawa is receiving its fair share.

I want to remind the member opposite that after 12 years of home care programs, finally we have a government that has a process in place to develop a common assessment instrument and equity funding to ensure that same levels of services are achieved -


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): New question.

1440

TRANSFER OF PROVINCIAL HIGHWAYS


Mr Gilles Bisson (Cochrane South): My question is to the Minister of Transportation. You would know that decisions of your government have led to the transfer of numbers of miles of highways on to local municipalities across Ontario. I want to tell you about a situation I saw myself last Friday while in Kapuskasing.

Imagine I'm driving south on Highway 11 - I'll draw you a picture - and I'm following a Ministry of Transportation snowplow. As it drives south on Highway 11 and approaches Kapuskasing, it gets to the town border, raises the plow and the wing in the middle of a snowstorm, drives across Kapuskasing on Highway 11, and when it gets to the other side of the community it drops the plow, it drops the wing and it carries on.

Minister, you said you're going to do this as a matter of disentanglement to save taxpayers' money. Can you tell me how that particular move is going to save taxpayers' money or do anything to improve services?


Hon Tony Clement (Minister of Transportation): I thank the honourable member for the question. Of course I want to indicate to him and to the House that the road transfers were based on the basis that a lot of these roads that were in the provincial road system were in fact local roads being used for local usages. We are taking the recommendations of the Crombie commission, which in fact recommended that we transfer 9,500 kilometres of roads to the municipality; we're transferring 3,400 kilometres as of January 1. We think the local municipalities are in a better position to provide good road service for those roads.

Mr Bisson: Minister, I don't think you understand the situation. Highway 11 is the Trans-Canada Highway. It is not a local road. Highway 11 goes across Kapuskasing. Let me paint the picture for you. If you want to drive to Thunder Bay and you happen to be, let's say, in Cochrane, you have to drive on Highway 11 across Kapuskasing on the Trans-Canada Highway to get to Thunder Bay.

How are the taxpayers of the town of Kapuskasing or the taxpayers of the province of Ontario going to save any money by the method you're going through when a Ministry of Transportation snowplow lifts its plow, lifts its wing on Highway 11 and doesn't do anything to clear the highway, which is Highway 11, across Kapuskasing?


Hon Mr Clement: I would say to the honourable member that the whole process we are going through is to ensure that the appropriate level of government has the appropriate level of roads available to it for the local municipality. What I would say to the honourable member is that if Kapuskasing has a problem, we are quite willing and able to enter into some sort of agreement which is better for less for the taxpayers of Ontario. If they're got a proposal, I would be the first one to come and see it.

BUSINESS INFORMATION


Mr Dan Newman (Scarborough Centre): My question is for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. As we see the level of overall economic activity in Ontario improving and getting much stronger, with more people working and fewer people relying on welfare, the number of people involved in small businesses, and more importantly the need to access the province's online business information, understandably has also increased. Accessing information as it pertains to business materials, forms etc is vital to the daily operations of any organization.

Recently, I read a speech by Morris Klid, the president of Cyberbahn, and he stated that the joint initiative between Cyberbahn and the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations has ushered in a new era of corporate searching. Minister, what has your ministry done to improve the accessibility to the province's business information materials?


Hon David H. Tsubouchi (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): I'd like to thank the member for Scarborough Centre for the question. One of the features of our 1996-97 business plan was to improve remote access to the Ontario business information database. Since the time this was implemented, we've had such a high demand for this type of access that we have gone to the private sector and contracted with two private sector companies to assist us in providing electronic data. This is a good example of a good private and public sector partnership.

I had the pleasure to be at the launch of Cyberbahn last night and the speech -


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Answer, please.

Hon Mr Tsubouchi: - that the member for Scarborough-Centre is referring to was by Morris Klid, who indicated that we need to provide that type of access to Ontario. Mr Speaker -

The Speaker: Supplementary.

Mr Newman: I guess we're streamlining question period and streamlining the way the government operates.

Getting this type of online access to business information is indeed a positive move for our province. In fact, streamlining the manner in which governments provide services and information is important and is a must, so the outcomes of these initiatives must be constantly monitored to determine whether or not we are succeeding.

Minister, can you tell me, as the member for Scarborough Centre, whether these new technological initiatives are indeed working?


Hon Mr Tsubouchi: As I was saying, I was at the launch last night of Cyberbahn, which was attended by the stakeholders, Cyberbahn staff and of course our ministry staff, all of whom were very enthusiastic about this initiative.

To answer the member's question, by the end of November 1997, clients using OnCorp, which is our other partner, and Cyberbahn's services accounted for about 21% of the requests to the company's branch.

What I want to indicate as well is that this is an initiative that has created new - it's a small company; it's great for us to announce large companies, lots of jobs, but a lot of the private sector small companies are very important to us as well. This created seven new jobs in the private sector, all of whom are very proud to work with the Ontario government in an initiative which is going to provide better access to people in Ontario.

PETITIONS

EDUCATION REFORM


Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): A petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the government of Ontario has not listened to the public on Bill 160; and

"Whereas the government of Ontario has chosen to make it unclear to the people of Ontario as to the true objectives of Bill 160; and

"Whereas we, the people, believe that no government has a mandate to act in isolation of the wishes of the electorate of this province and we have lost confidence in the government;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to petition the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the Legislature and call a general election forthwith."

I affix my signature to this petition.

PRIVATIZATION OF CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a petition, one of thousands addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and to Solicitor General Bob Runciman. It says:

"Don't jeopardize public safety for private profit. Warehousing hundreds of inmates in poorly staffed, privately run mega-jails threatens community safety. Private jails have lax security. Two young offenders escaped from Ontario's first private boot camp the day it was to officially open.

"Private jails are no cheaper to operate, according to an August 1996 report by the General Accounting Office of the US Congress.

"Private jails abuse inmates. The FBI is investigating Texas prison operator Capital Correctional Services Inc following the release of a videotape of private guards beating inmates.

"Keep Ontario's jails safe inside so the community can be safe outside. Keep our jails public and professional."

That's signed by Ed Gould. It's one of thousands in my possession.

BEAR HUNTING


Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey-Owen Sound): I have a petition to the Parliament of Ontario.

"Whereas black bear populations in Ontario are healthy with between 75,000 and 100,000 animals and their numbers are stable or increasing in many areas of the province; and

"Whereas black bear hunting is enjoyed by over 20,000 hunters annually in Ontario and black bears are a well-managed renewable resource; and

"Whereas hunting regulations are based on sustained-yield principles and all forms of hunting are needed to optimize the benefits associated with hunting; and

"Whereas the value of the spring bear hunt to tourist operators in northern Ontario is $30 million annually, generating about 500 person-years of employment; and

"Whereas animal rights activists have launched a campaign of misinformation and emotional rhetoric to ban bear hunting and to end our hunting heritage in Ontario, ignoring the enormous impact this would have on the people of Ontario;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Parliament of Ontario as follows:

"That the Ontario government protect our hunting heritage and continue to support all current forms of black bear hunting."

This is signed by many people across my riding.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION


Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I have a petition to the Legislative Assembly from the Concerned Citizens for Eco Education. It says:

"We, the undersigned, firmly believe that now is the time to ensure that our province's school boards and schools develop environmental literacy through an appropriate curriculum for all Ontarians. By advocating environmental literacy for all future learners, guiding them from awareness to knowledge to responsible action, we will develop citizens who are capable of making informed decisions. By recognizing the need for a strong environmental component throughout the curriculum of Ontario's schools, we are stating that the natural environment is central to the continuance of our health, prosperity and even existence on this planet. All species are interconnected within our biosphere.

"The viability of a sustainable future necessitates education in the environment. Therefore, environmental education shall be integrated throughout the Ontario school system."

This was circulated by the Manitoulin Nature Club, and I'm proud to affix my signature.

1450

ABORTION


Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I have a petition here.

"Whereas we, the undersigned, believe in the sanctity of life, from conception to natural death; and

"Whereas pregnancy is not an illness; and

"Whereas the freedom to speak against the abortion of innocent and silent human beings is being subverted by prosecuting conscientious objectors to abortion;

"Therefore, we petition the government of Ontario to stop the funding of abortion clinics; stop funding doctors for performing abortions and stop their insurance premiums; do not fund schools of abortion; and stop the prosecution of conscientious objectors before the courts."

I sign my signature to that.

EDUCATION FINANCING


Mr Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): I have a petition from thousands and thousands of people in my constituency who continue sending petitions. It reads like this:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has decided to hire uncertified teachers in kindergarten, libraries, for guidance, physical education, the arts and technology; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate working conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government would remove at least 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has become the sole decision-maker on class size, preparation time and the length of the school day; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to take decision-making powers out of the hands of locally elected community-minded trustees,

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government to repeal Bill 160 and create an accessible public consultation process for students, parents, teachers and school board administrators to study alternative solutions that have universal appeal and will lead to an improved educational system."

I affix my signature in full agreement.

COURT DECISION


Mr Bob Wood (London South): I have a petition signed by 45 people.

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the courts have ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless in public; and

"Whereas the Liberal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the government of Ontario to pass a bill empowering municipalities to enact bylaws governing dress code and to continue to urge the government of Canada to pass legislation to reinstate such partial nudity as an offence."

CHIROPRACTIC HEALTH CARE


Mr Peter North (Elgin): I have a petition to the Ontario Legislature.

"Whereas the Ministry of Health has recently strengthened its reputation as the Ministry of Medicine through its $1.7-billion, three-year agreement with the Ontario Medical Association; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government is restricting access to alternative cost-saving treatments for patients of the province; and

"Whereas two recent reports commissioned by the Ministry of Health called for increased OHIP funding to improve patient access to chiropractic services on the grounds of safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness; and

"Whereas over one million Ontario adults now use chiropractic services annually, increasingly those with higher incomes, because of the cost barrier caused by government underfunding; and

"Whereas the Mike Harris government has shown blatant disregard for the needs of the citizens of Ontario in restricting funding for chiropractic services;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to recognize the contribution made by chiropractors to the good health of the people of Ontario, to recognize the taxpayer dollars saved by the use of low-cost preventive care such as that provided by chiropractors and to recognize that to restrict funding for chiropractic health care only serves to limit access to a needed health care service."

I affix my signature thereto.

RÉFORME DU SYSTÈME D'ÉDUCATION


Mr Mario Sergio (Yorkview): I have received another petition. It is in French, and I wish to read it to the House.

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario est demeuré indifférent aux protestations du public sur le projet de loi 160 ; et

«Attendu que le gouvernement de l'Ontario a choisi de duper la population ontarienne en camouflant les objectifs réels du projet de loi 160 ; et

«Attendu que nous, les citoyens et les citoyennes de l'Ontario, croyons qu'aucun gouvernement n'a le droit d'agir contrairement aux désirs de l'électorat de cette province ; et

«Attendu que nous avons perdu confiance en ce gouvernement ;

«Nous, les soussignés électrices et électeurs de l'Ontario, demandons par cette pétition à la lieutenante-gouverneure de dissoudre la présente Législature et de déclencher une élection générale immédiatement.»

I agree with it, and I will affix my signature to it.

PUBLIC SERVICE AND LABOUR RELATIONS REFORM


Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My petition is to the government of Ontario, and it reads as follows:

"Bill 136 gives employers unrestricted rights to tear up collective agreements. It affects union rights, workplace rights and seniority rights of many working people in Ontario.

"For health care workers who have not had the right to strike since 1964, it takes away the fair and independent arbitration system that up until now satisfactorily resolved contract disputes between labour and management. The existing arbitration system also ensured smooth transitions in hospital mergers.

"With last week's announcement, the government of Ontario is clearly moving in the right direction on Bill 136. However, we have no guarantee of that until we see the wording of the proposed amendments.

"We, the undersigned residents of Ontario, demand that the Legislature of Ontario immediately make public the amendments to Bill 136 and hold public hearings on Bill 136 in communities throughout the province."

I'm presenting this on behalf of the member for Waterloo North, who of course is unable to present petitions in the Legislature.

EDUCATION FINANCING


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I keep getting hundreds of signatures against Bill 160 and for the repeal of this bill. It reads as follows:

"Whereas the Ontario government wants to take an additional $1 billion out of the education system this year and every year; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has decided to hire uncertified teachers in kindergarten, libraries, for guidance, physical education, the arts and technology; and

"Whereas the Ontario government wishes to remove the right to negotiate working conditions; and

"Whereas the Ontario government would remove at least 10,000 teachers from classrooms across the province; and

"Whereas the Ontario government has become the sole decision-maker on class size, preparation time and the length of the school day; and

"Whereas the Ontario government proposes to take decision-making powers out of the hands of locally elected community-minded trustees,

"We, the undersigned Ontario residents, strongly urge the government to repeal Bill 160 and create an accessible public consultation process for students, parents, teachers and school board administrators to study alternative solutions that have universal appeal and will lead to an improved educational system."

Since I agree, I have affixed my signature to this document.

COURT DECISION


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have a petition from the good people at Bethel Pentecostal Assembly in Fort Erie, and the Riverside Chapel and the First Baptist Church, also of the Fort Erie area. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless; and

"Whereas the federal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to enact legislation to ban going topless in public places."

In support, I add my signature.

MALDEN PARK CONTINUING CARE CENTRE


Mrs Sandra Pupatello (Windsor-Sandwich): This is a petition to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas it took 20 years and $10 million in local donations to create a 225-bed chronic facility known as Malden Park; and

"Whereas this community believed that its donations were going towards the creation of a new chronic care hospital; and

"Whereas the Health Services Restructuring Commission recommends putting chronic care beds in Windsor Western Hospital, at a cost of $14 million to $25 million; and

"Whereas the funding levels for Malden Park have been deteriorating over the past two years;

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to restore funding levels to Malden Park to the average per day rate for chronic care and designate Malden Park as a complex continuing care facility, which is what this community raised $10 million for, and to save the $14-million cost required to refurbish Windsor Western as a chronic care facility."

This is another in a series of petitions from my community. I'm happy to affix my signature.

1500

CANADIAN VIETNAM VETERANS


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): I have a petition addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

"Whereas the Canadian Vietnam Veterans National Memorial Committee, a body created of Canadian citizens who served as Canadians in the American armed forces and fought in the Vietnam War, is building a memorial and is presently seeking land to erect a memorial in Ottawa;

"Whereas honourable Canadians believed that the principle of freedom was at stake and gave their lives fighting for freedom in a foreign land. The United States and Canada share a long history of friendship with one another throughout the period. Canadians and citizens of the United States have repeatedly shown their strong commitment to each other during times of war;

"Whereas the memorial will be a fitting tribute to these courageous Canadian men and women who sacrificed their lives serving as members of the United States Armed Forces in southeast Asia;

"The pain that is felt at the loss of lives in war may be eased by the knowledge that the deeds of those taken from us are not to be forgotten;

"For the devotion exhibited while in military service, each person whose name appears on the memorial deserves nothing less than our respect and admiration;

"Wherefore, the undersigned, your petitioners, call upon the government of Ontario to provide a suitable land site in the nation's capital."

I'm pleased to give it to Katherine Aukema from Brampton North, one of our great pages.

PRINCIPALS AND VICE-PRINCIPALS


Mr Jean-Marc Lalonde (Prescott and Russell): I have a petition here with a couple of hundred names. It comes from Wendover, Bourget and Hammond, a petition to rescind Bill 160's proposed amendment re principals and vice-principals.

"Whereas Bill 160 originally maintained principals and vice-principals would remain as members of the teachers' federations; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments were introduced after the hearings had been completed; and

"Whereas the proposed amendments will seriously destabilize the education system, causing unnecessary stress on our established school teams;

"We, the undersigned electors of Ontario, petition the Lieutenant Governor to withdraw those sections of Bill 160 which impact the current status of principals and vice-principals as members of teacher federations."

COURT DECISION


Mr Tim Hudak (Niagara South): I have more petitions from the people of Pentecostal Tabernacle in Port Colborne, St John's Lutheran Church, and the Graves church United Brethren in Christ. It reads as follows:

"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:

"Whereas the Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that women have the lawful right to go topless; and

"Whereas the federal government of Canada has the power to change the Criminal Code to reinstate such public nudity as an offence;

"We, the undersigned, petition the government of Ontario to continue to urge the government of Canada to enact legislation to ban going topless in public places."

In support I affix my signature.


Hon Margaret Marland (Minister without Portfolio [children's issues]): On a point of privilege, Madam Speaker: As the longest-serving female member currently in this Legislature, it is with joy and gratitude that I wish to inform this House that this morning at 8:37 am, Valerie Margaret Marland was born to Laurie and Donald Marland, a sister for Hilary Ann and our sixth grandchild.

The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): That was not a point of privilege, but from one grandmother to another, congratulations on behalf of the whole House.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

HOUSE SITTINGS

Resuming the adjourned debate on the motion to extend the House calendar.


The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): The member for Sault Ste Marie.

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): I'm happy to pick up where I left off last night when I was unceremoniously sat down with at least two minutes to go on the clock. I was making a very important point and I was cut off at the knees. There were two minutes left on the clock up here and they said it was 9:30 of the clock. I had 13 minutes left here. It's more of the attitude that we find here these days that -

Interjection: More Tory bulldozing, right, Tony?

Mr Martin: Exactly. It's the kind of attitude that we've come to expect in this place - even two minutes, which is really important to an opposition member who doesn't get much time to speak in this House any more, particularly since the rule changes. Every minute is really important.

Anyway, I was making a couple of points last night that I thought were really important. One of them was how disappointed I was that the members across the way weren't participating. We were going around in a circle, but the circle all of a sudden shrank and it was only the Liberals and the New Democrats. You changed the rules so that you would have more time to put your thoughts on the record. We want to know, and the people out there want to know, why it is you're driving this agenda. This brings me to the other point I was making last night, which was the fact that, for me anyway, if not for anybody else, a light went on. Can you imagine? A light went on.

Interjections.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): But nobody was home.

The Deputy Speaker: Order.

Mr Martin: And a bell went off, yes. We're still waiting for the light to go on over there. You're living in the dark.

It says here, "The most crime-free era was when times were tough during the Depression. When times are tough, crime drops. So there is no relationship in my mind between poverty and crime."

We played a little game last night. The member for Cochrane South asked who they thought it was who said this, and of course it was the infamous crime fighter Mr Jim Brown himself. We extrapolated from that that this government actually thinks if you have more poverty, you have less crime, which explains the drive by this government to force everybody in this province into poverty.

Laughter.


Mr Martin: You laugh. The first thing you did when you got power back in July 1995 was take 21.8% away from the income of the poorest and the most vulnerable and the most marginalized among us. You thought that was somehow going to stimulate the economy, that was somehow going to move these people into the workforce. I'm here to tell you today that the unemployment rate hasn't dropped significantly since you became a government, which means there are still between 9% and probably 15%, depending on which community you're talking about out there, of people who cannot get a job because there are no jobs to be had, and they have to be looked after. They have to be given the wherewithal to put food on the table, to pay the rent and to clothe their children.

We had a report just last week, and I'm reading from the Sault Star of Tuesday, December 2. It says that the number of poor kids in Canada has doubled and it says Ontario's rate is the worst in Canada.

Interjection.


Mr Martin: That's right. Ontario's child poverty rate is the worst in Canada. That's what you're creating, child poverty.

It was only last night that I twigged to what the strategy was here. The strategy here is obviously that the more people you drive into poverty - because you guys have touted yourselves as the great crime fighters. We had a group of you out there yesterday announcing the new Ontario Crime Control Commission, where you're going to go out there and stop people from jaywalking and littering and publicly urinating, all the very important things that we as a province should be so concerned about. But really what we are discovering is that you think that by driving people into poverty you'll lower the crime level in the province. That's absolutely disgusting and alarming.

We are talking here this afternoon about extending the time that this Legislature sits so that the government can bring forward pieces of legislation that it's had sitting on the shelf, on the back burner, over the last two and a half years, that they haven't found in their drive to put Ontario into the situation that it finds itself in right now - a high state of anxiety, children in poverty, people sleeping on the streets of Toronto, older people out there being knocked out of their jobs with two, three and five years to go before their pension so that they can be replaced by, for the most part, younger, part-time workers with no benefits and no pension plan. This is what you're creating.

In your drive to do that, in your drive to put those tools in place that you're going to need to do that, you've left a whole bunch of legislation not dealt with. Today, according to the calendar we have in place now, should be the last day. We should be breaking today for Christmas and then the winter break and then coming back in March. But you have tabled in this House a motion to extend the sitting a week so that you can bring forward those pieces of legislation that you've ignored; so that you can, I guess, make up to those groups out there you promised legislation to, who are now in a state of some panic because you haven't brought it forward.

I speak, for example, of two bills that are of particular interest to the farming community, Bill 146 and Bill 170. Why weren't they brought in here after they were developed? Why weren't they brought in here two or three weeks ago? Why weren't they brought in here a month ago so we could all have the kind of time we need to take a look at them to see what impact they would have, both for the groups who brought them forward and for the wider public?

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For example, we have some concerns with Bill 146 from an environmental perspective. We would have liked to have some conversation about that so we could find ways to appease some of the anxiety out there around these particular pieces of legislation. We would have dealt with it and found ways to make this bill satisfactory to everybody concerned, and in due time, using the process in this House which has been developed over a long number of years of bringing legislation in, having it debated at second reading, sending it out to committee so the public can have some input, and bringing it back for third reading, we would have worked it through the House.

That has been the pattern. That has been the way we've done business in this place over the years. But now, with the onslaught, the coming of the right-wing Harris machine in June 1995, it has been nothing but full force ahead with the bills they choose and see as being most important, and to heck with everything else. To heck with all the other things that need to be done out there to make sure that people can make a living. To heck with everything else out there that people need to make sure they can educate their kids, that they have health care when they need it if they're sick. To heck with the social safety net that we have all together, over a number of years, woven so that those who find themselves out of work for a time have a soft landing and can get back on their feet soon and get into the workforce.

That hasn't been important over the last two and a half years. Nothing was important except the rending of the public institutions that we've all come to see, those of us who are in any way rational or reasonable, as the foundation blocks of any civilized society interested in a future, interested in an economy that's stable, that includes everybody and produces opportunity for everybody who lives within its jurisdiction.

We're caught here this afternoon, and next week we will be caught again, having to deal with some bills that this government wants to ram through in its typical way, without any consultation and process. The two bills I raised, Bill 146 and Bill 170, are prime examples of that. We want to deal with them. Bring them forward and we'll deal with them, we'll talk about them, we'll address them. You're the government; you're in control. You decide what it is that we debate in this House, so bring them on. Bring them on and we'll deal with them.

Speaker, as you saw last night and I suggest you'll probably see again today, this government really isn't interested in bringing forward those bills that are of such tremendous concern to so many of the very important groups out there, because they don't want to debate them. They won't get up on their feet. They won't tell us here in this House why it is they want to do what they want to do. They won't talk to us in this place about what they're hearing from their constituents. I don't understand why they don't want to do that. I have some hunches about why perhaps it is. What their constituents are telling them is perhaps not in sync with what they themselves feel, so they don't want to have to put it on the table. But if you're elected by your constituents, sometimes you have to stand up for those who elect you, as Mr Carr from your caucus has done, because if you don't, this place is not well served and we don't have good legislation, and I suggest that at the end of the day, as a government you're going to feel the pinch as well.

Here we are on the Thursday on which, according to the schedule we have now, we are supposed to rise, debating a bill that will extend our sittings into the next week. If you're not interested in participating, if you're not interested in bringing forward those bills that are so important to the groups out there that we're all concerned about, at least on this side of the House, then perhaps we don't really need the kind of time that you're asking for in this place. Why waste all of our time here going through the motions, dealing with pieces of legislation that you feel you need in order to decimate the public institutions that support the kind of society we all want to develop, and not bring forward those bills that some of us take time out of very busy schedules to be here to debate because that's what we were elected for?

Therefore, Speaker, I'm now moving, on behalf of my caucus, an amendment to the House calendar motion that we have in front of us.

I move that in the third paragraph of the motion "12 midnight" be struck out and replaced with "9:30 pm."

I would ask a page to come and get copies of this amendment so it can be shared with the government and the official opposition.


The Deputy Speaker: Mr Martin has moved that the motion be amended to read - that in the third paragraph "12 midnight" be struck out and replaced with "9:30 pm."

Mr Martin: We moved this amendment recognizing that we need some time to deal with some of the very important pieces of legislation that this government has stacked over the last two and a half years and is now trying to ram through, but if the pattern is as it has been for the last couple of days in this place, that it is only we talking to these bills and the government is not participating, it seems to me that we don't really need the kind of time that was suggested in the first place and we should get on with the business of the Legislature and get this done, because I'll tell you, what's happening out there, what is unfolding on the streets of this province, is not a pretty sight. It's pretty awful.

I remind you again of what's happening to children and some of the reports that are beginning to be put together now after two and a half years of this government's destructive legislation. We have poverty among children that is unprecedented in Ontario. We have children going to bed hungry at night. We have children, now that we're coming into winter, who don't have the kind of clothes they need to keep themselves warm. We have families who used to be able to feed their kids at home now no longer able to because of the 21.6% you took away from their income. Imagine the hypocrisy: You take 21.6% away from the income of families and then you decide you're going to feed them all in school and develop breakfast programs.

I will sit down now and listen to others. Hopefully the government will speak on this.


Mr Bruce Smith (Middlesex): It's certainly a pleasure to have the opportunity to add comment to this particular motion to extend the parliamentary calendar, because it provides us the opportunity in part to reflect on the work of this government to date and the dedication this government has demonstrated to the people of this province, not only to implement the Common Sense Revolution but to bring about a more accountable and more focused government in terms of the delivery of policy in this province.

It very clearly provides us the opportunity as well to talk about and reflect upon the work ethic that has been demonstrated here, not only by the government itself but in terms of the expectations of all members to be in this Legislature. They have been here essentially since January of this year to deal with various issues and to participate in debate on policy areas of concern to the government. Through that process, we've seen the commitment to a strong legislative agenda which, as I have indicated, allows us to reflect upon the accountability and a more focused government for this province.

It also allows us to look at the agenda in terms of the government's intent to bring about a more job-focused jurisdiction whereby job opportunities are realized and a positive job growth environment is created in this province. Those are very critical and important issues to the people of this province. It's an agenda which speaks to the opportunities to support small business and investment in small business across this province. All members of this Legislature know very well that small business is a primary generator of all new jobs in this province.

It allows us to look at opportunities for investment in youth employment, opportunities for investment in technology, in business research and development. It allows us to move ahead and look at opportunities for cooperative education tax credits and substantive and positive education reform in this province.

These are the very positive things the government has dealt with and continues to consider as we move forward into the future. We know that the opposition parties are anxious to continue in substantive debate, and from that perspective the Conservative government of this province believes that the time has come to move on to more constructive and substantive debate.

I move that the question now be put.


The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Point of privilege, Madam Speaker.

The Deputy Speaker: I can't take a point of privilege in the middle of this.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those in favour of the motion, please say "aye."

Those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. A 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1522 to 1552.


The Deputy Speaker: Would members take their seats.

Mr Smith has moved that the question be now put.

All those in favour please rise.

All those opposed please rise.


Clerk of the House (Mr Claude L. DesRosiers): The ayes are 54; the nays are 26.

The Deputy Speaker: I declare the motion carried.

Mr Turnbull has moved a motion to extend the House calendar. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?

All those who support the motion, please say "aye."

All those opposed, please say "nay."

In my opinion, the ayes have it.

Call in the members. A 30-minute bell.

The division bells rang from 1555 to 1611.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): "Pursuant to standing order 28(h), I request the vote on the motion to extend the House calendar be deferred to the next sessional day." That's signed by Frances Lankin, MPP, Beaches-Woodbine.

GOVERNMENT PROCESS SIMPLIFICATION ACT (MINISTRY OF CITIZENSHIP, CULTURE AND RECREATION), 1996 / LOI DE 1996 VISANT À SIMPLIFIER LES PROCESSUS GOUVERNEMENTAUX AU MINISTÈRE DES AFFAIRES CIVIQUES, DE LA CULTURE ET DES LOISIRS

Mr Turnbull, on behalf of Ms Bassett, moved third reading of Bill 63, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation / Projet de loi 63, Loi visant à simplifier les processus gouvernementaux et à améliorer l'efficience au ministère des Affaires civiques, de la Culture et des Loisirs.


Hon David Turnbull (Minister without Portfolio): I will be sharing my time with the member for Lincoln.

Bill 63 amends three statutes that are administered by the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. The general purpose of the amendments is to simplify government processes and improve efficiency with respect to three cultural agencies. I suspect that everybody would appreciate this to help the government to be more efficient.

The first portion of this act is with respect to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The act is amended to allow the board of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to appoint and remove the director of the collection without the minister's approval.

The second portion is the Ontario Heritage Act. The minimum number of board members of the Ontario Heritage Foundation shall be reduced from 21 to 12. The amendments also provide that the board members will serve with no remuneration.

The third portion of this important act is with respect to the Science North Act. The act is amended to allow the Science North trustees to be reappointed for an unlimited number of terms, to allow the board to appoint a director and to fix employee salaries without the minister's approval and to allow the board, instead of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to set the directors' remuneration.


The Speaker (Hon Chris Stockwell): Questions and comments?

Hon Mr Turnbull: I was going to share my time with the member for Lincoln.

The Speaker: Member for Lincoln.

Mr Frank Sheehan (Lincoln): The Fraser Institute study done in 1995 estimated that it cost Canadians $85.7 billion a year to comply with regulations, regardless of what source. That's nearly $12,000 per family of four. It also represents 12% of the gross domestic product of the country. From 1974 to 1994 alone, they passed over 100,000 new regulations.

Regulations aren't just what is printed in the documents. Regulations are a whole host of things that I will just recite. They include licences, permits, approvals, standards, registrations, filings, certificates, requirements, guidelines, procedures, paperwork, enforcement practices, attitude, service or other measures that are not truly needed to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.

Prior to the election in 1995, our government identified red tape as probably one of the most significant impediments to investment and job creation outside of the $100-billion debt we're currently taking care of. I remind the House that we are borrowing just under $1 million an hour to pay the interest on that debt.

Prior to our election, we had a record debt, record unemployment, a record number of people on social assistance and record lows in economic performance and growth. We've consulted with business and we've identified excessive regulations as one of the biggest barriers to job creation, investment and economic growth.

The Red Tape Review Commission was struck by the Premier in 1995 and gave us a one-year mandate. In that one-year mandate, we consulted with externals like the ministries, the cabinet and a range of stakeholders from around the community, whether they be business or institutions.

We began our efforts on red tape by designing a test called the Less Paper/More Jobs test, the purpose of which was to put a clamp on and inhibit any new regulations being passed while we were in the process of identifying a method of attack. We identified that one of the biggest changes we had to overcome or effect would be to change the culture, the expectations of the civil service and of their political masters.

Initially we were a little bit upset with the bureaucracy until it was pointed out to us that if you pictured the province of Ontario as a large corporation with 80,000 to 90,000 employees that had been the object of a hostile takeover perhaps three times in 10 years, and then you had a staff of 80,000 to 90,000 who had been outsourced, rationalized, downsized, bumped and otherwise just generally abused, whose philosophy of management are they following and who is really taking care of their interests? That put a different spin, a different light on the matter, so we conducted our affairs as we went forward in that light.

We must somehow or other change the culture of the bureaucracy and the politicians so they learn to consult in a sincere or effective way compared to past practices. Past practices seemed to be to put a notice in the paper or make a press release, sit down and analyse the problem from inside and then pronounce, make the regulations, make the law.

The Red Tape Review Commission, in trying to get a handle on how red tape is created, arranged with the Minister of Health to see if we could work with his staff, his bureaucrats and the public sector and consolidate four pieces of legislation that affected long-term care. They had been striving to do that for over 10 years with very limited success - in fact, no success.

While working with the public sector and with the bureaucrats, we were able, in four months, to come up with a piece of draft legislation which we were then able to take out to all the stakeholders, get their reaction and input, and take it back and rework it. It is now at a stage where we're prepared to take it out again for a final consultation.

At the end of the game, we were able to introduce 17 bills of varying degrees of importance and non-importance. Some of them were key to the operating plans of various ministries. Most of them were just getting rid of stuff that hadn't been used in hundreds of years - I'm exaggerating, as you've probably figured out.

We have also come forward with 132 recommendations to various ministries which are currently being investigated for implementation. This bill is one of I think eight that are in the second or third reading stage.

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Mr John Gerretsen (Kingston and The Islands): Why don't you call the others?

Mr Sheehan: We'd love to if you guys would give us a little cooperation.

The result is that these bills have repealed some 44 acts and amended 181 others. Effectively, what's going on is that one way or another we might drag the process of government into the 21st century so that it is responsive to the needs of the people and does reflect what they want and need and does respond when they ask for help.


The Acting Speaker (Mr Bert Johnson): Comments and questions?

Mr Gerretsen: I would just like to respond to what the last member was saying about the fact that the opposition was somehow to blame for these red tape bills not being called earlier. I would just like the members of the House and the public of Ontario to know that we have been asking the government to call these bills for about the last three or four months. We believe in reducing red tape that isn't necessary. We have asked them to bring these bills forward so that we can debate them one at a time and give them the attention they are due. For the government to suggest that somehow the opposition is delaying them from implementing some red tape bills that are actually for the good of this province is totally incorrect. I just wanted to say that because I think the member for Lincoln should know that we are always ready to debate any bill that the government brings forward. We in the opposition don't control that process. I'm quite sure the people of Ontario are wondering why the bell was ringing for half an hour, and let me just say once again it is due to total government incompetence.

Can you think of anything worse than the Minister of Finance coming into this House and saying that he could not keep his promise to have a press conference today at 3:45. It said on all our televisions that he was having a press conference at 3:45 today to give the municipalities the new numbers. Then he said, "I'm sorry, the computer broke down at 2 o'clock in the morning." Even the computer itself cannot deal with the figures the government wants to put in there. The computer is rejecting your program as well. Can you imagine that? Here you are less than 20 days away and the municipalities still don't know exactly what their financial situation is going to be. I just wanted to put the record straight.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): The member for Kingston and The Islands raises once again a most embarrassing phenomenon of this afternoon, a press conference, one that was of significance, we're told, to communities across the province, and all of a sudden - I'm not sure that I buy into a 2 am computer glitch. That was an awfully convenient computer glitch considering -

Mrs Marion Boyd (London Centre): It sure was.

Mr Kormos: It's remarkable, that's right. Most of the folks I know have relatively modest little PCs at home. Their kids are working with them, and by God, they're not cheap, they cost a few hundred bucks for starters. We're talking about computers that cost millions of dollars that Ernie Eves is playing with. These little $400 or $500 computers you pick up at Radio Shack or Future Shop or wherever - not Wal-Mart, but Radio Shack, fine - don't crash at 2 am, and there are bright young kids operating them instead of -

Mr Gerretsen: They should have the pages operating them.

Mr Kormos: That's right. If the pages were in there working that computer, those numbers would have - I've got a feeling the government has seen some of the numbers and realizes, "Zonkers, this is bad news; we've got some massaging to do here." The problem is also incompetence. This government couldn't organize a drunk-up in a brewery. They just couldn't get it working. The period of the last several months shows foulup after foulup. Folks down in Welland-Thorold are saying this government is fouled. I'll leave it at that. I'd tell you what they're saying about you, but the Speaker would be terribly disturbed.

Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton North): I am very pleased to make a comment on my colleague from Lincoln because he takes it to heart when it comes to changing the structure of government and simplifying the processes and getting rid of red tape.

To the comment from the opposition benches, anybody who has the absolute gall to say they never have a glitch in their computer system is absolutely full of that stuff that horses give us daily. With due respect to the farmers of this country, because they are very productive, unfortunately it comes too much from the opposition benches.

I support the member for Lincoln's bill because it truly achieves the objective this government is attempting to achieve, and that is to simplify the processes of government.


Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): I am glad this bill has not encountered the same computer glitch that has affected the Ministry of Finance computers which didn't allow the government to make its big announcement this afternoon as to how the downloading would really not affect municipalities.

I want to express sympathy, but I want to dispel a rumour. There is a rumour going around - and I know Gary Carr's mother who lives in Rexdale is very concerned because somebody has -


Mr John Hastings (Etobicoke-Rexdale): It's called Toronto.

Mr Bradley: The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale calls it Toronto. She still calls it Rexdale. There was a rumour started somewhere - I don't know where - that Gary Carr had introduced a virus into the computers of the Ministry of Finance because of what he had seen and the downloading implications for his municipality. I wanted to dispel that rumour. That is not true. I want Mrs Carr to know that her son had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

With regard to this bill, I want to tell my friend from Lincoln, who represents part of the city of St Catharines, that I agree with this bill. I welcome its introduction into the House. I am confident it is going to be passed this afternoon because it is a bill which lends itself to the simplification of government, the simplification of process without causing any major problems. I don't think there are any job losses as a result of this. I don't think there is any harm done to society. In fact, I think it will simplify the process.


Mr Kormos: And no jobs created.

Mr Bradley: And no jobs created, mind you, as the member for Welland-Thorold tells me. But it is the kind of legislation where you're going to find a consensus in this House. You know how you always think we're negative on this side? I am really positive about this bill. I'm so positive I believe it's going to pass this afternoon.

The Acting Speaker: The member for Lincoln has two minutes to respond.

Mr Sheehan: The whole object of regulation in the 1990s and the year 2000 should be to give the public some idea of clarity and afford them a degree of predictability and allow them to have logical explanations upon which they can plan their lives and plan their investments.

It always strikes me as fun around this place, as I sit and listen - I don't speak that often - to the member for Kingston and The Islands and my friend from St Catharines down there telling me about all this wondrous cooperation. I think if they want to do it - and they could also add it in with the spirit of Christmas and generosity - that it might be in order for them to get their House leaders back in here and give us unanimous consent on all of the outstanding red tape bills, all of which are equally as beneficial to the public. The whole point of these bills is that they've been prompted by the public, so our House leader might think he had died and gone to heaven if all this spirit of wondrous cooperation happened and you guys said, "Let's have unanimous consent."


Mr Kormos: If he does, he ain't going to heaven.

Mr Sheehan: He isn't going to heaven? He's a Conservative. He's got to go to heaven. That's where all good Conservatives go when they're through doing all the good work they do for man and humanity, when they go about slicking up government and making it efficient and effective.

You know, Peter, you could really listen to what we're doing. It's a lot of fun doing things right. You'd enjoy it.

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The Acting Speaker: Further debate?

Mr Rick Bartolucci (Sudbury): I'll be sharing my time with the member for Port Arthur, who will be doing most of the presentation. But I just wanted to comment and let the House know that the computers at Science North in Sudbury have been working overtime since this government was elected in June 1995 because of the enormous amount of cuts that have taken place at Science North in its budget because of the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation.

I might say that the new minister is very excited about visiting Science North. She and I have already spoken and she's looking forward to seeing the excellence which is at Science North, unlike the former minister, who had trouble finding the road to Sudbury. We missed that minister very much in Sudbury. She was there, I would say, about 1/100th of her time as a minister, which was not very much at all. In fact, there wasn't great communication between the minister and Science North.

We know, with this particular bill, and why we're supporting this particular aspect of the bill, that we're getting the government out of Science North. We think that's very important and very good. We see the people of northern Ontario being able to manage Science North in a very realistic, practical and meaningful way, unlike what was happening a little while ago.

With this bill being passed, it's going to allow for some stability in membership at Science North with regard to the board of directors. If you look back at the massive cuts that have taken place with regard to government funding to Science North, you have to thank and commend the director, Jim Marchbank, Colleen Zilio, Jennifer Pink, Alan Nursall, Tas Gregorini and a multitude of very dedicated staff people who picked up the ball and said, "I have to work with this board of directors we have at Science North to try to come up with some type of unique funding models and initiatives in order to ensure that the money the government took away from Science North is replenished somehow."

So when you deal with the board of trustees - Ms Patricia Anderson, Dr Anthony, Mr Ron Arnold, who has just been appointed vice-chair, Dr Bakker, Mr Bruce Caughill, Mr Jim Fortin, Mr Eldon Gainer, Mayor Jim Gordon, Mr Jim Hanson, Mr Robert Johnson, Mr Christopher Kallio, Mr Risto Laamanen, who is now the chair, Mr Mark Laberge, Mme Rachel Prudhomme, Mr Jim Simmons, Mr Mike Sylvestre and M. André Thibert - we have to say to those people: Thank you very much for your involvement in the community. Thank you for showing that you care about Science North, that you care about the direction Science North is taking. Thank you for giving your time to the board. Thank you for being original. Thank you for wanting to make Science North the world-class facility that it is so that it continues to encourage people from all over northern Ontario, Ontario, and in fact the world to visit Science North.

Science North is a vital economic component of the region of Sudbury. With the passage of this bill we will have greater direction, greater opportunity and greater individual involvement of the people of Sudbury and northern Ontario in making the decisions for Science North. We see that as a plus.

It is a crucial component of the tourism fabric of northern Ontario. We would suggest that much more money from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp, for example, from the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, be reinvested and invested in Science North, because Science North has some excellent initiatives it is just waiting to implement, but it needs the help of government. It wants the government to be an active partner. That's why Science North continues to want to work with all components not only of government but of society in northern Ontario. In fact, now we're even international in our marketing of IMAX films and the production of IMAX films.

We want the people of Ontario to understand that by cutting some government out of Science North, we will be able to plan in a far more effective manner for the future of Science North. I want to commend the people who drew up the strategic plan for Science North. They deserve a whole lot of credit. Those people were the board of trustees and the staff - the director and his assistants - at Science North. They have plotted a direction that everybody who is a member of Science North or who knows about Science North should be proud of.

I'm glad that we will be supporting this bill that removes government from Science North. God knows that we've had far too much of a government that believes in cutting as opposed to enhancing. We're happy that we will be able in a far more positive way to direct and reach our own goals.


Mr Michael Gravelle (Port Arthur): I'm very glad to have an opportunity to speak on Bill 63 as well and absolutely support the comments made by my colleague from Sudbury in terms of the importance of Science North to northern Ontario and the fact that this indeed is a piece of legislation that we support for very good reasons. I think it allows the organizations that are affected by this bill to function in a much better manner.

We have a piece of legislation here that was first introduced in June 1996. One has to wonder why it took this long, a year and a half, to get to this stage we're at now when indeed it would have been very helpful some time ago.

As you know, Speaker, this is one of the bills that's part of the red tape review bills, and certainly while members of my party are concerned with a number of this government's red tape bills, this is one we will support, and support quite happily. But there are a number of red tape bills that have gone forward already and some that will go forward that quite frankly allow a number of user fees in many different service areas that concern us. We have spoken about those in the past and we will again.

But I think this bill is important and it's certainly one that we can support. It's minor housekeeping changes that will have a real effect on the functioning of the organizations. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Ontario Heritage Foundation and Science North are going to be improved by this process. In fact, my office had the opportunity to call these cultural agencies this afternoon, and they indicated that they wanted this piece of legislation to go through as quickly as possible and were grateful and happy that we were supporting it as well.

I might, though, use this opportunity to advise the minister in terms of the McMichael Canadian art gallery that the board of directors there certainly are looking forward to more significant legislative changes being brought forward from this government as it relates to some of this agency's other concerns. I would encourage the new Minister of Culture to meet with the board of directors as soon as she can to devise, hopefully, a new legislative framework that will truly help to assist them. I hope that will be something that happens very soon.

In terms of Science North, I think it's very important that this government recognize what impact the massive cuts have had on this organization as it is. The impact has been profound and it has made a great difference. The work done by Mr Marchbank and the board of directors and those who work there has been extraordinary, but there's no question that the cuts that have taken place have meant their programs, like the educational touring program and other outreach programs, have had to be cancelled. In fact, it was announced last month that a permanent Science North installation in my home town of Thunder Bay was going to be closed down due to those government cuts. Clearly this is a concern to me and to the many people in Thunder Bay who use the facilities of Science North.

I know my colleagues support me on this, and my constituents do. We hope that there will still be an opportunity to have Science North part of Thunder Bay. In fact, we are optimistic that as part of the redevelopment of our waterfront, Science North can at some point in the future have a permanent site there. We would like to think that with the right combination of private and public support, we could have an IMAX theatre in Thunder Bay as well.

Mr Speaker, I just want to let you know I'll be going to the member for Oakwood after my remarks are finished.

So we are hopeful that Science North indeed can come back to Thunder Bay in some form of permanent installation.

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I want to use the time, if I can, today as an opportunity to talk about some of the areas in the citizenship, culture and recreation area that we have spent a fair amount of energy on in the last year and use this as an opportunity, quite frankly, to maybe give the minister a bit of a wake-up call and certainly indicate to her the concerns we have and the direction we hope she will go in.

If I may, I would like to begin with some mention of Bill 109, the Local Control of Public Libraries Act, which was introduced last January, as you know, by the government as part of the Who Does What exercise. This was a piece of legislation that gave us grave concern, for very good reasons. In essence, it would have eliminated the citizen-majority boards that we know are so important to the proper functioning of libraries across -


Ms Marilyn Mushinski (Scarborough-Ellesmere): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: My understanding is that the topic of discussion today is Bill 63, not Bill 109. I would like to suggest to the speaker that he confine his comments to red tape removal to help the cultural sector.

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order, and I will monitor the member for Port Arthur and pay very close attention to his speech.

Mr Gravelle: Certainly I am very much connecting the fact that this bill is one that we support and one that we believe will help organizations such as McMichael and the Ontario heritage group and also Science North in terms of other cultural activities that connect, so I can't imagine that it would be considered out of order to discuss some of these matters.

In terms of Bill 109, I simply wanted to express that, as part of the Ministry of Culture's responsibilities, it was a piece of legislation that we had a great deal of concern about. It was expressed from the point it was introduced right up till when it was actually withdrawn, something that was certainly unprecedented by this government. The library community and those of us concerned about the public library system fought from the minute it was introduced to the point it was withdrawn to impress upon the government that the implementation of this particular legislation would have grave consequences for the library community. Despite going through public hearings and going through clause-by-clause looking for amendments and being unsuccessful, we are gratified and pleased that the new minister chose to withdraw it, and certainly I know the Ontario library community is pleased.

That does not mean I think we should not be monitoring the situation as carefully as possible. I think it's very important for the new minister to work very closely with the library community. The fact is that part of the withdrawal of that bill also included the fact that the ministry and the government agreed to continue to maintain a level of provincial funding for the libraries, which was an extraordinarily important part of that withdrawal, because we know for a fact that although many libraries only get a small percentage of their funding from the province and have the vast majority from their very supportive municipalities, there are many communities certainly in northern Ontario and in rural Ontario where the percentage of support they get from the province's funding was crucial to them being able to be maintained. We saw incidents where branches were going to be closed and a number of things were taking place, so we are very pleased.


Ms Mushinski: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: As was suggested, this is a point of order with respect to the content of the speaker's recent comments with respect to Bill 109 and libraries. It was my understanding that the issue under discussion is Bill 63, An Act to simplify government processes and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. The bill amends three statutes, dealing with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act, the Ontario Heritage Act and the Science North Act. I'm wondering if the nature of the debate, which seems to have wandered off into the realm of public libraries and Bill 109 -

The Acting Speaker: That is a point of order. I'll ask the member to have his debate wander back to Bill 63.

Mr Gravelle: In terms of Bill 63 and the agreed-upon and approved changes that are being brought through this legislation to the McMichael Canadian art gallery, to the Northern Ontario Heritage Corp and to Science North, we are very grateful, but there is no question that there is a cultural link. I find it a little bit strange that the member would object to me saying that we are grateful that indeed the government chose to take some action, which was to withdraw the bill. I find it unusual and passing strange that she would object to that, because that's simply what I was doing. The fact is that it ties in continually with the fact that this is a bill that relates to three cultural agencies in the province and indeed cultural agencies, certainly in the case of Science North, that have received significant funding cuts. I can't imagine that you would deem it inappropriate for me to talk about how funding cuts perhaps have affected the proper functioning of the organizations in this province.

If I may, in the realm of culture in general, one thing we have felt very strongly about is the need for this government and certainly the new minister - and we certainly asked the former minister the same thing - to think in terms of culture as being a far more important part of our province than indeed it appeared it was. There were, in essence, two and a half years of successive and cumulative budget cuts, which had a remarkably negative impact on the arts, cultural and heritage sector in the province.

As a result of that, one of the great pleas that we made, which again ties into Bill 63, if I may say so, was to in essence declare a Culture Matters Month in Ontario. We wrote the former minister a letter and rewrote the present minister a letter calling on her to declare a Culture Matters Month in Ontario, a Culture Matters Month that would obviously affect the McMichael Canadian art gallery and Science North. What we really felt very strongly was that there needed to be some significant acknowledgement of the importance of the arts, culture and heritage communities in our province that was duly noted by the government of the day.

In the letter we wrote the minister, we had a motion that was actually signed by all of my caucus colleagues, sent to the government side and actually to the third party as well. Basically the purpose of the motion was essentially threefold: to facilitate a government-initiated process of working with the arts, culture and heritage sectors to promote the economic contributions and social value of arts activity to all Ontarians; to begin the process of constructive and positive government participation in the arts, culture and heritage community, particularly for the benefit of individual artists in the not-for-profit arts community; and we also asked the minister of the day to clarify this government's support for the arts, culture and heritage community by restoring funding to the Ontario Arts Council back to at least 1996-97 levels.

As you probably know, the Ontario Arts Council - which is an extraordinarily important arm of this government's cultural sector and provides funds to a number of major cultural organizations in the province as well as, and perhaps as significantly if not more significantly, to individual artists who are in the position of developing their creativity and having a chance to be encouraged to become the artists that very much will fuel our economy in the future - unfortunately received rather massive budget cuts. When this government came into power in 1995, the budget was $42 million; it was dropped down to $30 million the following year. Even though there was a commitment not to reduce that funding any further, unfortunately the minister was forced to reduce it to $25 million in 1997-98. In terms of what the arts, culture and heritage sector means to this community, we think the Ontario Arts Council funding needs to be raised back up to at least that $30-million level of 1996-97.

Certainly more significantly, we've heard very consistently from the arts community, including the McMichael Canadian art gallery and Science North, that what is needed, in essence, is a form of stability. The arts, culture and heritage community in this province very much wants a form of stability so they can know what they're doing. The truth is that the arts is an extraordinarily important part of our economy. One of the more difficult things seems to be being able to persuade this government that indeed for every dollar that goes into the cultural sector from government funds, $1.23 comes back. There's a variety of ways of explaining this.


Mr Gerretsen: They don't understand that.

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Mr Gravelle: They don't understand this. My colleague from Kingston and The Islands points out that they don't understand this, and it's so very true.

We plead with this minister to look at the Ontario Arts Council, to look at funding for the arts and to return it to 1996-97 levels.

There are so many other areas and I recognize there is not a great deal of time left, but there is one other area I want to touch on very briefly. I appreciate the fact that with Bill 63 there was hopefully some consultation done with the McMichael art gallery, the Ontario Heritage Corp and certainly Science North. They recognized they needed some changes made. Some of these changes are being made and we're very pleased they are.

Another real problem we have seen over the last two and a half years has been the absolute lack of legitimate consultation with the arts, culture and heritage community. Consultation is one of these things where this government's attitude tends to be, "We'll tell you what we're going to do and then we'll consult."

I have had the opportunity to speak to the new minister and she has indicated she will indeed consult with the community in a very different way than the previous minister did. I think that's very important and the arts, culture and heritage community is very much looking for that. They really want to at least be able to have the ear of the minister and perhaps something more: that when the consultation takes place and the discussions are complete, something comes from that.

There needs to be an understanding. This government needs to understand in a very real way, because it's simply the truth, that the cultural activity in this province is a phenomenal business in its own way. If you want to look at it from a business standpoint, the arts, culture and heritage community stands head and shoulders - we can view it from the point of view of tourism and how it brings it in and we can view it from the point of view of marketing. There's no question this government needs to look at that.

What they've done in the last two and a half years has been devastating, absolutely devastating, to the community. In some measure you won't have to go very far to find somebody saying that in essence it's been like a depression. We've seen theatre companies close down or we've seen them reduce their season. What we've also seen, which has been a great concern, has been the very negative effect it has had on the regions in this province.

The fact is the cuts that have affected the National Ballet are very important. We've lost a number of dancers. The National Ballet is not able to have as long a performing season; they aren't able to have as many dancers as they used to have; they are not able to put on the same kind of productions. We've seen this in various large organizations and I think that's a tragedy as well.

One of the real losses has been how it has affected the development of the arts on a regional basis. I've got a letter here from Theatre Ontario which wrote me in terms of the arts services organizations. The arts services organizations are very important organizations. They are cross-pollinating organizations, where they work together in essence to try and develop the arts in the regions. They have received massive cuts as well. Colin Taylor, the president, wrote to the new minister with some great concerns about it. As they point out:

"Our members are found everywhere: in rural and metropolitan centres, high schools, colleges and universities, from the Stratford Festival to a small community-based theatre in a village of 700, from mainstream to alternative to popular theatre practitioners."

"The ministry's arts service organization program has been cut by approximately 50% over the past two and one-half years" as the government has basically reduced its support for the arts. "Last year the program's clients underwent a very rigorous reassessment in the application process." They worked very hard to meet the assessment criteria and they are terrified that there are more cuts to come. The fact is, we just can't allow this.

As I wrap up, may I just talk a little bit about arts, culture and heritage in our schools. That's another concern. I'm sure all the agencies involved in Bill 63 would have some concerns about these as well, as I think we all do. There is growing concern among parents, educators and the arts community that this government's policies have threatened the development of future artists and future audiences among Ontario's children. The loss of Ontario Arts Council programs aimed at getting artists into our schools, coupled with the loss of opportunities to get school children into performances and facilities in their communities, in addition to the loss of programs at the local level, have contributed to a growing fear that this government's approach is squeezing out lifelong arts appreciation opportunities for Ontario students.

We certainly recommend to the Minister of Culture that she work with the Minister of Education and Training and try to do that. One of our concerns even about Bill 160 was the loss of support for the arts and music in schools. I have spoken to parents in my community of Thunder Bay, and they have told me about the loss of drama. They have told me about children. One particular gentleman told me about his child, who was extremely shy, and as a result of the creative arts he was able to get involved with, he blossomed.

It's not necessarily a question of whether you grow up to be a full-time artist - actor, performer, visual artist - it's being able to blossom as a human being that the arts and culture allow to happen, to be able to become the person you want to be and to have that opened up. That's what's being lost and that's the damage that's being done as a result of the government's attitude in the last two and a half years. I absolutely call upon this Minister of Culture to recognize that.

I am pleased to support Bill 63 and our caucus will support it as well. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to make some of the points I think are important to be made and, my God, there are more there.

May I say just a few words about TVOntario? We have had a public hearing process that's been going on out there on TVOntario. On June 26 the government said, "We're going to look at privatizing TVOntario." For months nothing happened. Finally, they put together a panel to go out there and meet with the public. The public meetings took place - extraordinarily strong support for TVOntario.

The other day I asked the Minister of Culture a question about how she felt about privatization and she wouldn't answer me. That's unfortunate. The Minister of Culture should be willing to publicly take a position in terms of TVOntario, because it's under her responsibility, and we have great concerns. Sheldon Levy, the president of Sheridan College, a very honourable gentleman whom I have had the opportunity to speak to many times during the public hearing process, committed to me that his report would be made public, that it will go to the minister and then be made public, so we call upon the minister of privatization and the Minister of Culture to be sure that this report is made public.

In fact, we ask the minister that his decision related to TVO be based on what the public says, because quite frankly, TVOntario belongs to the people of Ontario, and I think it's very important that the public input process be taken seriously, or once again there'll be a sense of what a sham it was.

There are many other areas I would happily get into. I appreciate -


Mr Hastings: Go ahead.

Mr Gravelle: I will go ahead. The member for Etobicoke-Rexdale says I should go ahead. Perhaps I should go ahead. There are a few more.

We've got some concerns about -


Mr Hastings: Stop while you're ahead.

Mr Gravelle: Is that what you said?

I will wrap up and give my colleague from Oakwood an opportunity to say a few words as well. Certainly we have concerns about the future funding aims of this government. We have concerns about lottery funds or proceeds that are coming out. We have concerns that rumour has it this government is actually thinking about making a further cut to the Ontario Arts Council, and rumours continue to persist that indeed they may get rid of the funding altogether - this is incredibly alarming - and that it will be replaced in essence by the funds from the charitable casinos.

This is of great concern to us. We'd sure like to hear the minister speak on that. What we need is a commitment that she supports the Ontario Arts Council, will not allow any further cuts and will consider raising the funding level back to 1996-97 levels. On that, I will wrap up. I thank you for the opportunity. We will be happy to support Bill 63 and I will happily sit down in favour of my colleague from Oakwood.


Mr Mike Colle (Oakwood): I want to congratulate the member for Port Arthur for his comments on Bill 63. As you know, he has a lifelong commitment to arts and culture and continues to demonstrate this every day. I will just be brief and eventually give the floor over to my colleague. Am I commenting now? I should be speaking, shouldn't I? On a point of order -

The Acting Speaker: This is further debate.

Mr Gravelle: It's part of our continued debate.

The Acting Speaker: If you want more time than that -

Mr Gerretsen: We have 50 more minutes left.

Mr Colle: Thank you. Again, as you know, this government has changed the calendar. Now they're going to change the clock too. What next? Perhaps they're going to abolish Christmas. I hope they don't do that.

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Mr Tony Silipo (Dovercourt): You remember that spring started January of this year.

Mr Colle: Yes. Christmas in January.

I want to congratulate again the member for Port Arthur, and I will eventually leave the floor to my colleague from Kingston and The Islands.

Bill 63 deals with the administration of three distinct parts of the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. I just want to make some brief comments about some parts of this bill.

As you know, the public has very little opportunity to know what is being passed in this House because of the rapid-fire nature of this government which seems to want to just get things through so quickly the public doesn't know what's in the bill. I think the public does care what's in all these bills. Maybe not every citizen in Ontario cares, but there's a significant number of citizens who do care about art, culture and citizenship, and they should at least have a minute to try and find out why and how this bill is important. If the bill is important enough for the government to pass legislation, the public should at least have an opportunity to know what's in the bill.

I just want to comment that this weekend I was involved with cultural activities from an area of Italy that came to visit Ontario, from Abruzzi. One of the interesting things they brought to mind was that whatever culture exists in other parts of the world can be reinforced by letting people in Ontario participate in activities that are brought to their community, the community here. One of the things I saw which I never realized before was - the group that came from Italy was a troupe of folk singers and musicians. I don't know the proper term, but one of them played the bagpipes.


Mr Gerretsen: A piper.

Mr Colle: It's the first time I've seen a piper from Italy, and I wasn't aware of the fact that there's a particular type of bagpipe that is played in the central region of Italy. I mention that because it shows a connection. Sometimes we think there's such divergence between our different cultural groups and roots. We traditionally look to the Scots as having brought that to Canada. We can see the connection, that even in central Italy that is an instrument that is quite popular and goes back generations. That enriches us all and connects us with our fellow Ontarians and makes us appreciate our fellow Ontarians more.

That is why this ministry is important, and bills that make this ministry reach out to people are important to all Ontarians. As I said, it makes us better able to get along with our fellow citizens.

If you look at the whole area of citizenship, I wish this government would take a more proactive role in citizenship, whereby good citizenship is rewarded and honoured and people are patted on the back when they do good things, when they help people, when they work in hospitals and old age homes, when they volunteer in schools. This government has very little out there that rewards these people. I'm not talking about the high-profile figures this government likes parading out; I'm talking about the average Joe and Joan Citizen, who aren't on any fund-raising list.

I have this one gentleman. He is 79 years of age. He delivers packages to the poor, door to door, at Christmastime. He helps kids cross the street; he's not even a crossing guard. He is always ready to help out. He's 79 years of age. Perhaps this ministry should do something to promote - this guy's name is Mike Gillis. He is what I call a good citizen. Will he ever get any recognition from this government? He probably will not, because he isn't a big shot; he's just an ordinary taxpaying - now he's a pensioner, but he paid a lot of taxes his whole life.

If you look at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, we've had some turmoil and controversy about the treasure that we have here in Ontario, just north of Metro. Many Ontarians will sometimes say the government doesn't have to spend any money on art or doesn't have to pass bills ensuring that our collections and our art are appreciated. Well, the government should, because that has been the tradition of good government going back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians and Romans, who put money into public art so you could preserve the traditions of that culture. You have to do it.

The private sector can't do it by itself. My own daughter is in second year, fortunately enough, in the Ontario College of Art. Through her I get a better understanding of how critically important it is to promote the arts, not only from an artistic and cultural perspective, but also from a commercial perspective. There are so many jobs out there and people who are looking for young people who have that kind of training and sensitivity. Art is not only, again, for the artist and it's not only, again, for a culturally enhanced society; it means good business.

The whole country of France or Italy, for instance - they are thriving art centres. People visit from all over the world, and they work and live in the art industry, in the culture industry. Here culture and art are always a sidelight. This government, by its continual cuts to the arts and culture, is pushing them even more to the margin. But I think it's time for this government to stop being so punitive towards art and culture because hopefully they understand, as the member for Port Arthur said, that they are huge revenue generators. People come to Canada from every corner of the United States. They come to cities like Toronto and Stratford. They come because they appreciate what we've achieved here in art, in culture, in our museums, in our galleries and in our sensitivity to this industry. It brings money into this city, into this province, because we in the past have invested in art and culture. But not enough. It's still not enough. If this government continues to look upon it as a marginal area of interest, it is doing itself a disservice, not only economically, but also culturally.

It is incumbent upon this government to foster the arts - and not just token fostering but massive investment. There's a return for that investment in a systematic way. You just can't do it once a year. It's got to be an investment in young people, in those small theatre companies, in individuals who are trying experimental theatre productions. Give them a little bit of support. They will eventually give a lot more back to our cities and province.

If you look at heritage, this ministry is revising the Ontario Heritage Act. It's sad to say that the number of members on the foundation is being reduced from 21 to 12. Why not triple the members and bring more Ontarians into the foundation so they can all contribute? This government's even cutting the members to almost half.

The point I'm making is, heritage is another investment in the good things Ontarians have done in the past. If you don't appreciate the past, you're doomed to live by the failures of the future. That is what is happening in this province. They're not investing in the traditional way Ontarians have worked, in the traditional way Ontarians have contributed. They are creating this brave new world, the post-Cromwellian period, the post-period of Maximilien Robespierre, the scorched earth policy where you wipe away everything in education, you wipe away everything in health care, you wipe away everything in local government. You do nothing but destroy and then rebuild to something that no one knows; and if the computers go down, they don't know what they're doing, as happened today.

We must preserve our heritage here in Ontario. Compared to Europe, it is a very short heritage but a heritage we should be proud of and investing in, and again, just like in art, culture and theatre, not in a token way. We should be investing in organizations, we should be investing in schools that promote history and heritage preservation, because if we do not do that, as I said, we will lose this heritage and our children won't have an opportunity to carry it on.

It's also good business to invest in our heritage and our heritage properties because people just don't want to come and visit a province that's nothing but glass, steel and concrete. They want preservation and they want to appreciate Ontario's history, and they will come here for that reason, because they can go to Dallas if they want to see nothing but concrete, glass and asphalt. But here we have some vibrant heritage areas that are second to none. Let's preserve them and let's invest in that. If you look at Science North - my own four little nephews from Ottawa took a car trip to Science North -

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Mr Gerretsen: Who are they? What are their names?

Mr Colle: There's Paul, Adam, Justin and Kiefer. Two weeks ago they went to Science North. It is ironic that we're talking about Science North here today, and I know the member for Sudbury is very concerned about the future of Science North with all those cutbacks the Tories have made to Science North.

These four young lads, just by coincidence, came back and they had glowing stories about Science North: "What a wonderful place it is to go and how Canadian it is. We're sick of Disneyland. We're sick of going down there with all those American things. We want to do Canadian things." These are youngsters. They're nine years old, 10, 11 and one is five. They said they want to keep going to places like Canada's north, to Sudbury to see Science North, yet this government has taken away that Canadian heritage. They should be investing and doubling their investment in places like Science North. Instead, they're cutting back on Science North.

What kind of government is this that doesn't see the value of its heritage, its culture, its art and its venues like Science North? Shame on them. Shame on the so-called Minister of Culture.

In conclusion I want to congratulate to a point the minister for introducing this bill. There are some remedial efforts here, thank God, but they're just a drop in the bucket. They must get away from that destructive path they're on and start recognizing an appreciation of culture, art and organizations like Science North.

I hope they see the fault of their ways and listen to the member for Port Arthur. Now they're going to listen to that lover of the most historical city in Canada, Kingston, the original seat of our national government, the member for Kingston and The Islands.


Mr Gerretsen: First of all, I'd like to congratulate the members for Port Arthur and Oakwood for the tremendous, passionate pleas they made on behalf of culture and heritage in Canada and how it's very important for our youngsters to be part of that and to experience that, because only that will foster the true kinds of national feelings that we need in this country.

I've got to start off, though, by taking you back to June 5, 1996, a year and a half ago. That was the day, you may recall, when eight ministers of the crown stood up, one after another, and introduced their legislation to cut red tape. At that time we had Bills 61, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68 and 69 introduced. I will tell you that from this side of the House it was impressive to see one minister after another get up and say, "Ontarians, we want to cut red tape and we are doing something meaningful about it." Those bills were introduced on June 5, 1996.

Interjection.


Mr Gerretsen: No, not 1997, 1996, a year and a half ago. It's taken them a year and a half to bring these bills back, because since that time only one bill has been given third reading and that's Bill 61. If the government had only called these bills back earlier, then all the red tape they're talking that's the subject matter contained in these eight bills could have been dealt with earlier.

The question I have is, how serious was the government about truly dealing with these issues? They sat on them for a year and a half. They didn't have the nerve or the guts to call these bills forward so we could debate them one at a time; they just sat on them.

Interjections.


The Deputy Speaker (Ms Marilyn Churley): Order. Member for Oakwood, member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, order.

Mr Gerretsen: We seem to have a bit of a problem in the House currently, Madam Speaker. Thank you.

I will say to the citizens of Ontario that it's taken them a year and a half to call these bills back, so you just wonder how serious they are about cutting the red tape they're talking about in these bills.

Interjection.


The Deputy Speaker: Member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, come to order.

Mr Gerretsen: Let's talk about an act that I care extremely about, and that's the Ontario Heritage Act.

Interjections.


The Deputy Speaker: Member for Oakwood, member for Etobicoke-Rexdale, order.

Mr Gerretsen: Thank you, Madam Speaker. For a moment there I couldn't even hear myself think, and that is pretty bad in this House.

The act that I really care about, which this new act deals with, is the Ontario Heritage Act. As has already been stated by the member for Oakwood, I come from a part of the province where we are extremely proud of our heritage, the city of Kingston, which is the oldest established community in Ontario. It was the seat of government from 1841 to 1843, and it was the first place in Ontario where royal assent was ever given to a bill other than right here at Queen's Park. As a matter of fact, the then Lieutenant Governor, Pauline McGibbon, came to our city, I believe it was in 1971, and she gave royal assent to the Ontario Heritage Act.

The other thing that is of note is that at one time in the city of Kingston we had as many buildings designated under the Ontario Heritage Act as the rest of the province combined. We had over 400 private and public buildings designated. I will admit that initially there were some people in town who weren't all that much in favour of the historic designations on buildings because they felt it somehow affected the value of those buildings or what they could do with those buildings, and not the entire community was in favour of it.

We then started the program, Madam Speaker - I'm sure you're interested in this - where we basically said, "All right, if you have a designated building, we will allow you to put a plaque up saying that you are a designated building." The plaques went up on the buildings, and do you want to know something? It increased the value of those buildings tremendously. All of a sudden people were saying, "Where do I get my plaque? I want to put it on my building," because the value of the property actually went up. So even from an economic value viewpoint, properties actually increased in value as a result of their designation.

We still have about 400, maybe 500 buildings designated in our city and there are probably many more buildings designated in the entire province. I think other communities as well have recognized the tremendous value of heritage that we have in this province and how we should foster it, how we should show it to our children, how proud of it we should be, and it can be a very large tourist attractor as well.

Therefore, I have some concern about the provision in this act, in Bill 63, that would reduce the number of board members on the Ontario Heritage Foundation from 21 to 12, and that the board members should serve without remuneration. I agree with that aspect of it, but I really do not understand why it was necessary to reduce the number of board members on the Ontario Heritage Foundation from 21 to 12 members. I would have thought that the greater the input you have on a voluntary board like this from various parts of the province, the better the ultimate decision-making is going to be. So I have some concerns about that.

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I think unfortunately this is all tied into this whole notion this government seems to be going on that if we just make smaller units, smaller management units, that is, whether it's fewer politicians as we see in this House - we've gone from 130 to 103 members after the next election - or whether we see it at the local government level where in many areas the councils have been reduced by about two thirds when you look at the amalgamated councils, somehow we will all be better off in this community if we have fewer politicians at the local level, or indeed at any other level, to look after our interests, as if the politicians are the people who cost money in the entire system.

I have some great difficulty with that, because I firmly believe that the more varied the opinions you get, whether it's a local council, whether it's in this House or whether it's on the Ontario Heritage Foundation, probably the better decisions are ultimately reached in these forums, so I have some concern. I see that the former minister is here. I don't know whether it would be totally unparliamentary for me to ask a former minister to address that section in the act under questions and comments. Maybe she could give the rationale, or maybe one of the other government members, as to why you would go from 21 to 12 board members, especially since these board members serve without any remuneration. What is the magic about this? Is it the concept that as long as we bring all these boards and commissions down further and further, eventually one person can head them all and the notion of democratic decision-making will be gone completely? I don't know, but I would like somebody to explain that to me.

I hope this is not an effort by the government - I am suspicious, I'll be honest with you, as a result of some of the other things that have happened over the last two and a half years - to place heritage preservation on a lower rung in the priority totem pole for Ontarians, because I can tell you that the average person out there is extremely proud of the heritage and the culture we have in this province.

I think cities and town after town throughout this province have shown that as a result of looking after your heritage properties correctly, it will bring greater economic activity to those communities, it will induce tourists to come from the outside - not only outside of that community but also outside of Ontario - and not only from a cultural viewpoint but also from a pure economic tourist viewpoint, heritage preservation is a good thing.

I will leave it at that. I hope my suspicions are wrong. I certainly hope that this idea of reducing the numbers of board members from 21 to 12 is not some hidden plan to give the Ontario Heritage Foundation a much lower rung in the priority system.

I will now turn it over to the member for Parkdale, who also wants to speak for a few minutes on this bill.


Mr Tony Ruprecht (Parkdale): I have listened well to the members who have just spoken. Each one made a very specific point and I am delighted with their contributions.

In addition, though, what this Bill 63 is supposed to do is "to simplify government and to improve efficiency in the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation." Listen to this: "to improve efficiency." But you can become so efficient as to be destructive, and that, to some degree, has happened here in this bill. We're going to support this bill, but in terms of the efficiency I want to put this House on notice that this government has been a destructive agency in terms of removing a whole section of the Ministry of Citizenship, namely, Ontario welcome houses. Where are they today?

I know the previous government also removed some sections, to give it some historical perspective, and that was the area of multiculturalism. Within the Ministry of Citizenship we used to have - I was, of course, the first minister of multiculturalism the province ever had, but when that government was changed, the NDP, somehow being ashamed of multiculturalism, even took that very term out from the Ministry of Citizenship. That department was let go, the term was gone.

Then, of course, with this government, the Progressive Conservative government, we even take it one step further and say to the new citizens who are coming into Ontario and who are saying, "We want to participate in this country because this is the greatest country in the whole world that anybody can participate in, that anybody can live in." We all know that - and especially Toronto. We in this city have something very special and I'm afraid, as the members for Oakwood, Port Arthur and Kingston and The Islands pointed out, that this whole idea of efficiency, which we believe in, can however be taken too far. In this case it has been taken too far because we've seen the destruction of Ontario welcome houses.

Does that make sense? It doesn't. How can it? It would seem that the real money part, the real savings would be in getting people to work as quickly as possible. How do you do that? You work through the Ontario welcome houses. You say to the new citizens, or those who wish to become citizens and contributing taxpayers, "What can we do as a government to ensure that you can enter the stream of employment as quickly as possible?" That could be done (1) by learning a language as quickly and surely as possible; (2) by providing the skills of participation. That has been done awfully; that has been done in a way that has destroyed the whole aspect of it.

Here we have, in Ontario, a whole new area of dynamism that we could have used, a whole area that put Toronto on the map globally. All across the countries of the world we are number one. How did we get there? We got there simply because we have something special here. What is it that's special about this place called Toronto? It has to do with the Ministry of Citizenship. We have something special and what is it? It is that multitudes of people have come to Toronto and have applied a shoulder to the wheel for generations.

Not only that but we've become the model for others to follow because we get along with each other. It is this city that has become a neighbourhood of neighbourhoods. It is this city that has become a special place, and the Ministry of Citizenship is in the process of destroying this very fact. Yes, as the member for Kingston and The Islands said, we have to be proud of our heritage. We have to be proud also of our new heritage, the very dynamism that makes this city the greatest city in the world to live in, and that is at stake here.

So, my friends, I am saying to you, we together should be proud of this new Toronto. We should be proud not only of what we've achieved in the past, but what we are about to achieve in the future. For you to do that, you cannot go and destroy the mechanism that has made this place great. I would think that the way you can make this more efficient, so that you can become taxpaying citizens in this country and save money, is you have to put in place the mechanism of participation.


Mr Colle: Welcoming people.

Mr Ruprecht: Right. The whole idea of participation is to welcome -

Mr Colle: Open doors.

Mr Ruprecht: - is to open doors, as the member for Oakwood says. It's an open-door policy and you can't shut it. While we're supporting Bill 63, you are in the process and you have shut some doors to some people. I'm asking you, be cautious of this. Don't shut these doors, have them remain open; in fact, welcome them in.

You may say to me: "Well, my friend, it's a matter of the federal government that is bringing in all these people who are not educated, they've got no money and they can't participate and it isn't our fault. Let the feds pay for it." We have a responsibility and the responsibility is on our shoulders because we want to continue the process that made this place great. The way to continue it is to have an open-door policy.

This cannot be a destructive mechanism that is about to take place. I'm cautioning you when I say to you, be fair with the new Canadians who are coming to this country because they and the next generation are going to pay for the greatness of this country.

In conclusion, we have to do two or three things. Number one, we have to make sure the Ministry of Citizenship gets the support it needs in the cabinet and in the government. That would mean it has to get a greater sense of importance because arts, culture, citizenship and heritage are important aspects of one's culture.

I'm reminded of what every historian knows, and that is, that we don't live by bread alone but we live by ideas, we live by religion, we live by other things that make this country great. If someone says, "Be fiscally responsible, that is our only religion and our only goal," that can also lead to some destruction and to some mechanism that makes and destroys this county.


The Deputy Speaker: Questions and comments?

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Mr Rosario Marchese (Fort York): I want to take the two minutes to focus my remarks on culture in particular, and citizenship. There's some sympathy to the arguments many of the Liberal members have been making, but I want to say that the bill amends three statutes in this part.

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act proposes the removal of the requirement to obtain ministerial approval before hiring or removing a director of collection. If this is what they want, I say I can live with that.

The Ontario Heritage Act says the minimum size of the board will be reduced from 21 to 12. If the Ontario heritage board members are requesting this, as I believe is the case, then I say I've got no problem with that. If that is their way of dealing with a number of problems they might be having as a board, I say God bless.

On the other aspect of the Science North Act, removing the limit on the number of terms a trustee of the board of Science North can serve, again, if they are requesting that, in my view it isn't such a big problem.

My point, connected to all of this, is not whether it cuts the red tape per se; rather, the focus should be on cutting. What this government is doing is cutting, chopping away at the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation in a way we have never seen before. The real efficiency of this government is that they are about to abolish the ministry altogether.

They have eliminated $20 million to $25 million to the Ontario Arts Council from the previous $45 million, $47 million. It's disappearing; 60% of the funding has disappeared from the Ministry of Citizenship. I tell you, that is the real efficiency, not the cutting of red tape as it relates to some of these other agencies. This is where the efficiency of this government needs to focus our attention. That is the real problem.


Mr Bradley: Madam Speaker, what you should know affecting this bill is that the government has filed time allocation motions which to my knowledge are unprecedented in this Legislature and that, if accepted by the Speaker and if passed, will cause a riot in this House. I can assure you there will be grave disorder in this House if the government decides it's going to proceed with these particular time allocation motions.

For the first time that I have ever seen in this Legislature, we have a time allocation motion affecting this bill which puts six bills together so the government can slam six bills through at the same time. If they do this, then you might as well close this place down. Don't worry, the Harris crowd wouldn't mind having this place closed down and run like some corporation that they run themselves.

The people of this province should stand up against this. The bloody editors out there who don't think this is important, who don't allow their reporters to get their stories through on these issues because they're in-house issues, should know what this government is doing to Ontario and to the democratic system in this province.

If this is allowed to happen, then you might as well close this House down. I'm sure there are many members on the other side who would like to see this House close down. This is totally unacceptable. It affects this bill. It just shows that these people are the same intimidating, bullying people everybody thought they were. If you thought the fight over Bill 26 was something, this will make Bill 26 look like a Sunday school picnic when we're through with it.

It is totally unacceptable to see this happening, that you put all these bills together in one time allocation motion and one closure motion and then shut all the debate off. You might as well hand the keys to the province and that mace to the Premier of this province and let him run it like a parliamentary dictatorship, which it appears to be today.


Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): Needless to say, I am finding this increasingly frustrating. To talk about these bills as red tape bills is something of a misnomer, and a thorough debate is essential to reveal precisely that. Especially Bill 63 in its own right has nothing to do with red tape. It's an entirely suitable bill. It's one that I looked forward to having a chance to engage in the discussion about because one of the points I wanted to make is that the province of Ontario doesn't begin and end at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor.

Again, I very much wanted the opportunity to talk about things like the Welland Historical Museum, the Welland Public Library, the Thorold historical museum and historical society, the Thorold library. Down in Pelham, once a year the Pelham library hosts a major exposition of history and culture from the region. I very much wanted a chance to talk about that to try to impress on some of these people over here with their Toronto obsession, their megacity obsession and their abandonment of small-community Ontario, their refusal to understand - and I don't dispute the value and the significance of the McMichael art gallery. I've been there. I've taken guests there. Science North: Again, I'm familiar with their operation and proud of it as an Ontarian.

But I tell you there are a whole lot of issues that relate to this so-called red tape bill, which it isn't, nor are most of the others. Most of the others simply give the keys away to those who would prey on consumers or other people in the community, permit self-regulation, and what that means is no regulation. You create a regime of caveat emptor.


Hon Mr Turnbull: I would like to comment on the delay tactics of the opposition parties with respect to the red tape bills. For many years I've been aware that people have talked about how much red tape there was around this province. We've had agreement from the opposition parties that these red tape bills are very modest and important to get through, yet at every suggestion we have had, every discussion with the opposition parties, they have resisted passing this.

It's very interesting that in a recent doctoral thesis that was submitted by the wife of a former NDP House leader there was a suggestion that delaying tactics were being used here in this House by the opposition, talking about how long it took to get bills through. In fact, the amount of time of debate on bills since we have become government has gone up exponentially. Any suggestion of us ramming things through is factually incorrect.

If one examined the actual numbers, one would find that the delaying tactics of the opposition parties have led to an unusually large amount, with no precedent in the history of this province, of the length of time of debate. We're not just talking about on an individual bill. We know about the delay of the member for Welland-Thorold when he debated against the Liberal government's auto insurance bill. We're also talking about the most trivial bills and the amount of time that is being spent. So the government has to use very unusual means to address this.


The Speaker: Response?

Mr Gerretsen: I'd just like to set the record straight. Of these two closure motions that have been filed, one, as my House leader has already stated, deals with six of the red tape bills that you introduced in the House on June 25, 1996. The question the general public has out there and that the members have is, why haven't you called these bills in the last year and a half? You had every opportunity to do it and you didn't do it. Now you've coupled them all in one omnibus closure motion so they can all be dealt with at once without any further debate. I say shame on you.

The second closure motion gets even better than that. Yesterday we had Bill 164, which implements a lot of the budget items that were contained in the finance minister's budget this year, a budget that was introduced some time in May or June. The bill implementing that took six months to get to the House. It finally got here about a week or so ago and now, after the bill passed second reading yesterday, it has been referred to the finance and economic affairs committee. The finance minister himself referred it to that committee. The closure motion here states that they will meet on Monday, December 15, "for the purpose of considering the bill and at such time the Chair shall put every question necessary to dispose of this stage of the bill without further debate or amendment."

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Now we even have closure motions that bills that have gone to committee can't even be debated there any more. This is an absolute insult to the intelligence of every Ontarian. It's an insult to the democratic process. How can you tell a committee that has never even looked at a bill, "You cannot discuss it, but you will pass it immediately so that it can be reported back to the House." This has got to be an absolute first for the province of Ontario and totally unparliamentary -


The Speaker: Thank you. Further debate?

Mr Silipo: There is much that can be said and should be said certainly on this bill and all of the reasons behind it, but as I look at the clock, which doesn't show the full time right now, by the way, I want to make it clear to the government members that we had indicated we would be agreeing to passing this particular bill, Bill 63, and we're going to do that. We're going to do that because when we look at the particular bill, we agree with the changes that are being made in here because if you want to talk about simplifying red tape, this is one of the few bills that actually does that.

We're going to support that because in the three parts that this touches, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act, the Ontario Heritage Act and the Science North Act, they are really taking out of the legislation things that, quite frankly, I think we could all argue probably should never have been there or don't have any place to be there. We agree and we're going to indicate that agreement by facilitating the passage of this bill today, as we had indicated to the government House leader earlier today, and before that, that we would do.

But let me be really clear: In doing that, we are also being very clear in saying to the government that when it comes to some of the other so-called red tape bills, we have some fundamental disagreement with some of them because they're not about simplifying red tape. They're about deregulation and they're about stripping protections that exist now, so it's important we have the opportunity to debate those bills one by one and to deal with those bills one by one.

That's why we find abhorrent the actions the government has just taken in bringing in an overarching time allocation motion to pull all these bills together under the simplistic notion that somehow these are just simple administrative things that need to be done and can be done in one fell swoop.

No, we say to the government members, because our role here as members of the opposition is to watch over the actions of this government and, God knows, there have been enough indications when they have royally screwed up in terms of the process they have taken through this House. We've seen that again today in spades and we're not going to make it any easier for you than we need to. On this bill, we will pass it because we agree with what's in it and we agree it simplifies red tape. On the others we have some significant problems and we want to have the opportunity to address those issues.

I should just say, Speaker, as I sit down that my colleague from Fort York is going to take the balance of the time.


Mr Marchese: I want to have a few more moments to speak specifically on the issue of culture because it is something that has concerned me for some time. We are not getting the time to debate in this House as we used to in the past and that should be a matter of concern to many people because we are not permitted to raise issues as the public demands.

On the issue of culture, we have agreed that some of the matters that are raised there with the Ontario Heritage Foundation are acceptable to us; agreed with the McMichael collection, acceptable to us; and the science centre change is acceptable to us. But this masks what is really happening in those ministries. It makes it appear to those who might be watching that everything is all right in the Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation. The point I want to make is that everything is not all right. The ministry is disappearing. It has been reduced to so very little funding that it is virtually disappearing, that there's nothing to manage any longer. I argue that's the real efficiency of this government, that is, to eliminate virtually all of the funding that is contained in that ministry.


Ms Marilyn Churley (Riverdale): A virtual ministry.

Mr Marchese: A virtual ministry indeed; virtual reality indeed because that's what we're talking about.

The Ontario Arts Council is one of the most important cultural institutions we've got in this province and in the country. With the $45 million that we used to give, we used to provide funding for individual artists and organizations, organizations and artists and cultural workers who have very little money to do the work they do. When you take the funding away from these people, they are on their own, and what this government is saying is: "God bless them. They've got to get out there and fund-raise on their own, and if they can't, too bad." With it, culture obviously disappears. They put no value on culture.

Money that we put in as the New Democratic Party to say that we value our cultural institutions and our cultural workers is disappearing under these people over here, and the Ministry of Citizenship is virtually disappearing, as I say. Some 40% to 60% of the funding from that Ministry of Citizenship, now combined, is gone. What are they managing? There is nothing to manage because the money is gone and people have disappeared.

It is a shameful, shameful act. It speaks well to the modus vivendi of this government, not just to speak to the cuts they are making but to speak to the dictatorial nature of the way they behave. As my colleague said, it's witnessed in this overarching time allocation motion they are bringing to bring all these bills together. That too speaks to the modus vivendi of this government, which is dictatorial in nature and ruling by fiat, ruling in such a way that we reduce the scrutiny and supervision that properly should be given to these bills, the supervision that is needed by the media, by the opposition and by those who are following our discussion. That's what it speaks to when this government introduces these kinds of motions.

It's nothing new. We have seen the behaviour of this government in all of its actions, through the amalgamation of the city of Toronto, through Bill 26 a long time ago, and through so many other measures that we have spoken to and we have no more time to address. But people understand the behaviour, the dictatorial nature of this government, and this other time allocation motion they are bringing in is further evidence of the behaviour of this government.

I want to leave it at that and allow time for people to respond to our remarks.


The Speaker: Questions and comments?

Mr Hastings: I'd like to set a couple of points and themes for the record. First, the member for Fort York talks about this government being dictatorial in dealing with this particular set of red tape bills. The reality is that if you look at some of the dates, they go back to June 1996 and they go back directly to the House leaders' refusal and continuing delay, time after time after time, between June 1996 and today. To say anything else is complete fantasyland for the member for Fort York.

I could apply the same to the member for Kingston and The Islands when he talks about red tape and our refusal to bring these bills forward until now. If you go back and look at House leaders' negotiations over the last year and a half, the same basic approach was taken by the House leader for the official opposition. It's on the record. I know reality hurts. I know reality doesn't want to face it.

How do we know that? You can ask several members of the Red Tape Review Commission. Not just myself, but the member for Lincoln, the member for Durham East, the member for Scarborough West and other members will tell you the same story. So don't take this silly malarkey that in point of fact there was delay. The delay belongs to the opposition parties.

If you want to delay it because of specific concerns in the bills, I respect the remarks of the member for Dovercourt for saying so, but simply delaying for delaying tactics is the real reality of why some of these bills are now packaged the way they are, because the third party wouldn't deal with them on the merits of the case, except the one in front of us right now. That's the reality. Let's deal with it on that record.


Mr Gerretsen: Let's deal with the reality of the situation. Look at your Orders and Notices for today. It says number 260. That means there have been 260 days; not even sessional days, because some of these orders contain two sessional days, when we sit both in the afternoon and evening. In other words, it's probably closer to about 300 days since this Parliament started in September 1995. These bills were introduced in June 1996, when probably about 70 or 80 days had passed at most, which means they've had 200 days since June 1996 to call these particular red tape bills.

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Let's get something absolutely clear: It is the government on a day-to-day basis that decides which bills to call for debate that day, with the one exception, and that is if there is an opposition day motion, of which there probably have been about eight or nine over the last year and a half. But every other day it is the government that calls orders of the day and decides which bills are going to be discussed.

You have had over 200 days, sir, to call these particular bills. You have chosen not to do so. That is your choice. But for you then to get up and say that somehow the opposition, of which there are 45 members, is holding this government of 82 members hostage, I'll tell you the public doesn't believe it. Nobody believes you. All we want to do is follow the true democratic concept whereby the opposition can question the government on a day-to-day basis. You are denying us that every time you bring in a time allocation motion.

You have invoked closure on this House on at least 18 or 19 occasions. Today you have done the ultimate by combining about seven or eight bills in one closure motion. Shame on you.


Mrs Boyd: I want to congratulate the member for Dovercourt and the member for Fort York for being very clear about the reality of these red tape bills. They are not all minor little housekeeping issues at all. The efforts of the House leader for the government to try and use these as bargaining tools is what has kept him from calling them. Let's be very clear.

The only record that counts is the record in here. The House leader has not called these bills because the House leader has been attempting during all this period of time, although he didn't bring these bills in as an omnibus bill, to get them treated as a package to try and keep us from talking about the issues in the specific bills that we disagree with and to try and prevent any debate on those issues.

He has been trying to paint this to the members of the Red Tape Commission as a delaying tactic on our part. This is the only government in the history of Ontario that considers debate in this House to be a delaying tactic. That is exactly the way you behave again and again and again. You do not take seriously the very serious concerns that are raised.

We have shown you this week that when you have reasonable legislation, we will pass it. We will even pass it in first, second and third reading in one day if it's reasonable legislation. We are not attempting to delay. We are attempting to do our job as legislators, which is to tell you and the rest of the province about real concerns with the legislation you bring forward. That is part of the democratic process.

Our entire point about you people as a government is that you're here forming a government and you don't even believe in the principles of democracy. You keep trying to subvert democracy all the time. That's exactly what the acting House leader is attempting to do in terms of this time allocation bill. We will name it for what it is: undemocratic.


Mr John R. Baird (Nepean): With respect to the speech by my colleague, I disagree.

The Speaker: Response?

Mr Silipo: I'm glad to have a chance to just wrap up. As I said, we easily could have taken -

Mr Ruprecht: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I think there is just one more chance to have questions and answers.

The Speaker: Member for Dovercourt.

Mr Silipo: I'm happy to have the chance to wrap up on this. I think we kept our comments on this bill relatively short. Had there been more time, we would have taken a slightly longer time. But as I said earlier, we had indicated to the government that we would be agreeable to passing this particular bill without undue debate. We wanted to maintain our word on that because this is one of the few so-called red tape bills that actually is worthy of that name.

Were we to have made the decision about what to do with this bill on the more crucial concept we have seen in this House, or really the concept we haven't seen enough of in this House, the respect and lack of respect this government has for the very concept of democracy, then we would have made a different decision. We could easily have talked this bill through. But there are some things in here that we think are sensible to do. We think Bill 63, as it amends a couple of administrative changes in two or three areas, is worth supporting and we are going to support it.

As I said earlier and as my colleagues have reiterated, it is our job as members of the opposition to continue to hold this government to task. It's a traditional job of any party of the opposition and it's a job that particularly needs to be done in spades now against the kind of concentration of power this government seems intent on doing.

This is the only government that continues to rewrite the rules, to diminish debate in this House, to diminish the ability of the opposition to hold them accountable, then continues to blame us when we are able to use the rules to protect the interests of the people of the province. There is a huge majority of Tories here. They have the ability to manage the business if they choose to. They obviously have shown that they can't do it.


The Speaker: Further debate?

Ms Bassett has moved third reading of Bill 63. Is it the pleasure of the House the motion carry? Carried.

Resolved that the bill do now pass and be entitled as in the motion.

It now being nearly 6 of the clock, this House stands adjourned until 6:30 of the clock today.

The House adjourned at 1757.

Evening sitting reported in volume B.

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