RETAIL BUSINESS HOLIDAYS AMENDMENT ACT (SUNDAY SHOPPING), 1993 / LOI DE 1993 MODIFIANT LA LOI SUR LES JOURS FÉRIÉS DANS LE COMMERCE DE DÉTAIL (OUVERTURE DES COMMERCES LE DIMANCHE)
Mr Christopherson moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jours fériés dans le commerce de détail en ce qui concerne l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche.
Bill 38 simplifies the Retail Business Holidays Act. We've eliminated uncertainties by making it abundantly clear that all retailers, without exception, have the right to choose whether or not they wish to open or not open for business on Sundays.
Retail lessees and franchisees are ensured that the protection against having to open on Sundays currently afforded them under the act will be extended to Sundays, even though Sunday will no longer be a holiday under the act. In turn, retail workers are guaranteed the nine holidays specified under the Retail Business Holidays Act, and they are protected under the Employment Standards Act from being forced to work on Sundays.
By making Sunday retail business openings possible across the board, we've provided the most equitable treatment for all retail businesses. This legislation creates a level playing field while ensuring retail workers' rights.
We've also made explicit the nine holidays on which most retail businesses must be closed. These are January 1, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and December 26. On those days, no members of the public may be admitted to a retail business, nor may goods and services be sold or offered for sale by retailers.
The Retail Business Holidays Act sets out certain limited exemptions to this requirement. In addition, the government is also ensuring that the amendments preserve the right of municipalities to pass tourism bylaws permitting retail activity on those holidays during which most retailers would otherwise be required to close.
We believe that while it is important that these days be preserved as pause days, the legitimate interests of tourism must be addressed, and municipalities following provincial criteria are in the best position to do this.
During the last 10 months, we have had the opportunity to test public and business response. The results have been mostly positive. Once Bill 38 becomes law, it will be retroactive to its date of introduction, that is, June 3, 1992.
The principles behind Bill 38 are already at work. The bill meets the needs of consumers, the needs of business and, together with the Employment Standards Act, meets the needs of retail workers. It is working because Ontarians have wanted to simplify the law to eliminate uncertainties.
Ever since the Retail Business Holidays Act was proclaimed in January 1976, previous governments have proposed, debated and passed numerous amendments to the act. Cabinet committees agonized during each set of public hearings, and the Legislature debated the interests of the public and business. In each case, each successive change fell short of the equitable legislation that was needed.
To address the issue of retail businesses that was not dealt with in the Lord's Day Act (Canada), 1906 or the Lord's Day (Ontario) Act, 1943, the Retail Business Holidays Act, 1976, established a province-wide regime. The act required most stores to close on Sundays and other enumerated holidays unless specifically exempt from the closing provisions of the legislation and unless a municipal bylaw, essential for the maintenance or development of a tourist industry, had been passed permitting stores to open.
In February 1987, after several court challenges to the Retail Business Holidays Act, an all-party select committee on retail stores hours was formed and held 23 days of public hearings. In June 1987, the Ontario Legislature unanimously amended the Retail Business Holidays Act to allow the opening of book stores and art galleries, with restrictions on their size and number of employees.
In February 1989, the legislation was extensively amended to give municipalities broad powers to regulate retail shopping on holidays. Municipalities could pass bylaws either exempting stores from closing provisions of the legislation or requiring stores to close in circumstances where the legislation would have permitted them to open. To encourage public consultation, the legislation prescribed a scheme of notice to the public and the holding of a public meeting prior to the passage of any such bylaw.
A provision was included in the amended legislation permitting retailers who practise their religion on a day other than Sunday to close their stores on that day and to open on Sunday. This replaced the provision in the original legislation which permitted retailers to close their stores on Saturday and to open on Sunday, subject to certain limitations as to store size and the number of employees working on Sunday. Drugstores were limited to size, and the custom of roping off floor areas in stores on Sunday in order to comply with statutory requirements was prohibited.
The amendments also provided for increased maximum fines and prompted an amendment to the Employment Standards Act which permitted retail workers to refuse unreasonable Sunday work and which imposed an arbitral process upon employers and employees who could not agree on the matter.
In June 1991, Bill 115, the Retail Business Establishments Statute Law Amendment Act, was brought forward for first reading and in December of that year it was proclaimed. It allows Sunday retailing in December before Christmas, protects the rights of retail workers and creates the tourism exemption.
The discretion of municipalities to regulate in the area of retail holiday closing was replaced with an authority still vested in the municipality to exempt retail businesses from the Sunday and holiday closing requirements for the purpose of maintaining or developing tourism. Municipalities may pass such bylaws only where tourism criteria, established in regulations made under the legislation, are met. Such bylaws may be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. The amendments also set out minimum fines for contraventions of the legislation.
The Employment Standards Act was amended at the same time to provide most retail workers with an absolute right to refuse Sunday or holiday work and by providing most retail workers with 36 consecutive hours of rest in every seven-day period.
Experience and a recent change in public attitudes have combined to persuade the government that many people want the opportunity to shop on Sunday and are increasingly impatient of rules and regulations that prevent them from doing so.
It's been a slow and arduous journey. Ontarians wanted a clear direction, and this government has crafted the most equitable resolution to the issue. In June of last year, Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping, was moved first reading in the Legislature. Today, we move second reading. The final step will be a free vote in this Legislature to determine final passage of Bill 38.
I want to remind the members of a number of factors that played a significant part in the development and introduction of Bill 38.
First, it is clear that people in Ontario want the right to shop on Sundays. The government has carefully monitored public sentiment in this regard, and it is obvious that public opinion is in favour of Sunday retailing over the past months. This bill reflects the wishes of a clear majority of the residents of Ontario.
Second, this decision is assisting in Ontario's economic renewal. The government recognizes that, by itself, Sunday shopping is not a solution to economic problems. However, such retailing will go some way to countering the onerous effect of the goods and services tax and federal policies affecting the value of the Canadian dollar. The government's decision has been of particular assistance in addressing the economic impact on Ontario's border communities of cross-border shopping.
Third, there are substantial protections in the Employment Standards Act for retail workers who choose not to work on Sundays. That legislation guarantees most retail workers the absolute right to refuse Sunday work. The law also guarantees that most retail workers will receive 36 consecutive hours of rest in every seven-day period. The Ministry of Labour has programs in effect to enforce these provisions.
This government has always maintained its commitment to protect the rights of retail employees who work on Sunday. Two years ago, we improved the Employment Standards Act to give retail workers the absolute right to refuse work on Sundays and holidays and to 36 hours weekly rest.
We also established a committee to advise on the impact of Sunday shopping, which reported back to my colleague, the Honourable Bob Mackenzie, Minister of Labour, in February of this year. This committee, made up of representatives from large employers in the retail sector, unions, municipalities and small business, worked diligently to create a document containing a number of recommendations.
In order to further protect the rights of these employees, the Ministry of Labour is looking at steps to ensure that the existing Employment Standards Act provisions are respected by retailers.
The government will also ensure that employers found in violation of these provisions are required to post a notice in the workplace advising all employees that the act has been violated. This measure is consistent with provisions in other labour statutes. In addition, there will be posting of the rights of workers in the language of the workplace.
Finally, the government will initiate a committee whose purpose will be to further explore the impact of Sunday shopping, to forward suggestions on common closings on statutory holidays, to continue to monitor the Employment Standards Act and make further recommendations as necessary.
At all times, and in especially these times of economic renewal, we have to govern with the public interest in mind and our policies must be responsive to changing attitudes. We have carefully monitored public and business reaction to Bill 38. We are confident that this amendment to the Retail Business Holidays Act does respond effectively to changing public attitudes and meets the needs of consumers and the needs of business in our province.
The other interesting point is, they're going to form a committee to measure the impact of Sunday shopping. That's much like forming a committee to close the barn door after the horse is gone. What's the point? Sunday shopping is in place. It's going to be in place. It's been in place. Forming a committee is nothing but a small, little -- it's hard to even imagine what you could say would be significant to the people who are opposed to Sunday shopping after --
You're talking about worker protection for not working on Sunday. When you were in opposition, your party was very clear: There was no legislation that could be instituted that could protect people from working on Sunday. Your party said very clearly during the election, "There isn't any possible legislation that could be drafted that could protect people from working on Sunday." Now you're telling me you're going to draft legislation to protect people who don't want to work on Sunday from working on Sunday. Tell me exactly what has changed your mind, that now you can draft legislation that was virtually impossible to draft three or four short years ago.
This is the most obvious about-face this government has taken. In a lot of respects, I feel sorry for the ex-minister, the Solicitor General. He got hung out to dry on this. He looked like a sap who was put up and melted down in public on this issue, because the Premier backed down and broke one of the most fundamental promises you people have ever made.
I think family is a very important aspect in society. I think family values play a large role in how our communities act and behave, and I don't think Sunday shopping and this particular bill will help matters in terms of communities and where families go from there.
Families have met on a regular basis -- I know in my community, the Italian community, families have met on a regular basis every Sunday for lunch. They meet with their sons and their daughters and they have a chance to talk. Now, ever since we have allowed Sunday shopping to take place, I've had a number of calls. Those calls are very adamant. They claim that they're no longer able to meet with their families, their sons, their daughters, because they are being forced to work. I thought this bill would protect the workers. I'd like to ask this question at this particular time: Will this bill help workers and help those families and let them meet on a regular basis on Sundays? I don't know whether it will.
It goes beyond Sunday shopping. It goes into the elimination of collective bargaining in the public sector, it goes into the cutbacks and it goes into virtually everything that Bob Rae has done, including the garbage mess that he's created in the greater Toronto area.
When you really think about it, Bob Rae is the Premier whom Bob Rae used to warn us about. He sat in a chair over here and he stood in a place over here and warned us about so many things that government was doing that had to be opposed and had to be resisted and had to be fought. Now Bob Rae in power simply chooses a principle that is in no way consistent with the principles that he used to preach as a political leader and not a government leader.
It's with a little bit of sadness, at least in that regard, that we undertake this debate. Having heard for years and years that the policy on Sunday shopping had to change, he resisted in opposition and then tried to resist in government. I say, thank God he saw the light. Let's get the bill passed, but let's review the government's record as we do that.
I guess the campaign that strikes at the heart of this issue more than anything else is the campaign that was essentially undertaken by the Toronto Sun, with the assistance, I may add, of both our opposition parties here today, the Liberal and the Conservative parties.
I can remember the constant bombardment of the debate and the pages within those media being filled with the pro-let's-work-on-Sunday, the pro-let's-do-some-shopping-on-Sunday. I can remember the incredible pressures that the campaign that came from those sources have had on this particular issue and the manipulation that has happened as a result of all of that. In that way, I can understand the public mood and where the public has moved on this.
However, I regret to say here today that despite all of that I am not going to be supporting this bill, because I don't believe it's the right way to go.
Let me first say to all members in the House that I think we all appreciate the history of this particular issue and the fact that every party that's been in government in this province has struggled with this particular issue, trying to find exactly the right formula that would balance the needs and rights of everyone.
Quite frankly, it's been an evolution of public opinion that leads us to the point where today we have the kind of legislation we have in front of us. I dare say to you, Mr Speaker, that regardless of who the party was that's in power, this is where the public is on this issue and this is where any government of the day would have to be.
Let me just point out also the comments from my colleague the member for Etobicoke West, from the Tory party of course, who has all the simplistic answers to everything -- this is the party that would deal with the social contract negotiations through bang, bang, bang -- and who was proceeding to heckle during the comments of the committee that's being struck to continue to monitor this.
This government continues to and will always place great emphasis and priority on the rights of workers. We will continue to monitor this legislation with a view to improving it in any way we can to ensure that the rights of workers are being met as outlined in the legislation.
Let me also say, while I'm on my feet, that I think it says a lot about this government and about this Premier, recognizing the morality of this issue and how tough it is, that he offered up to this caucus, to this government, the free vote that will happen on this particular bill and that was a recognition of the importance.
Lastly, let me just quote in part from the Employment Standards Act:
"No employer or person acting on behalf of an employer shall dismiss, threaten to dismiss, discipline, suspend, lay off, intimidate, coerce or impose a penalty on an employee because the employee has refused or attempted to refuse an assignment of work on Sunday."
Let's be perfectly clear. Bill 38 doesn't create wide-open Sunday shopping. Bill 38 creates wide-wide-wide-open Sunday shopping, so wide that you could drive a truck through it, literally. At 6 o'clock on a Sunday morning, a tractor-trailer from President's Choice can roll into a Loblaws superstore, unload its produce and merchandise, and that Loblaws superstore can remain open on that Sunday from 8 am until 8 pm. Some people in this House support that type of legislation, some people are opposed to it, but let's be perfectly clear what the legislation in fact does.
The debate, as I said, is long overdue. We should put this issue to rest that has bedevilled legislatures and the courts for the whole history of the province. In fact, I will be referring to a document later, Current Issue Paper 119, prepared by the legislative researcher Susan Swift, who is a lawyer with that particular department. It basically reviews the whole history of this issue and indicates how back in the beginning, in 1845, this legislation started as legislation with a religious intent. Over the years, the Legislature and the courts have developed a law and a legislation so that it has a secular intent. That's really where we're ending up with Bill 38, which was introduced last June.
I do want to make a comment on the issue of this being a free vote. As we know, this is the first time the government introduced any matter for a free vote. It did not consult with the opposition that it was going to do it. It did not indicate or give any previous warning or notice to the opposition that it would be introducing this type of legislation. So I can say, knowing our opposition caucus here as I do, that we certainly cannot guarantee the passage or the failure of this legislation on behalf of the government, and it is going to have to accept the responsibility for this legislation.
There are significant issues of substance and there are also significant issues of process and procedure, and I'm going to deal with both of these issues intermittently, because sometimes they merge -- the process becomes substance -- and I think they're very important process issues.
It was good to see, I feel, a very competent Solicitor General debating this issue and introducing it for second reading here today, but we have to keep in mind that this is the third Solicitor General dealing with this legislation in two and a half years.
In that short two and a half years, we had the NDP visit the issue with Mr Farnan as Solicitor General, who introduced Bill 115, which created a common pause day with a tourism exemption. That was given third reading in November 1991.
A mere 180 days later, Bill 38 was introduced by the Honourable A. Pilkey for first reading. It was actually announced by the Premier in a statement in the Legislature. That bill from a second Solicitor General represented a total, complete flip-flop in legislation in a mere 180 days.
As I said, today we have the third Solicitor General introducing this for second reading, and that's Mr Christopherson. It has lain fallow in the Legislature for close to a year, almost exactly a year.
We still have no indication from the House leader or from the Solicitor General where this legislation will be going after second reading, assuming that the vote carries. We don't know whether it's going to committee of the whole House, we don't know whether it's going to a legislative committee. There has been absolutely no leadership given whatsoever in this place on this issue.
I guess there's one way to describe a lot of things that the NDP does and that is dysfunctional. The DP in the NDP stands for "dysfunctional party." This place has become flip-flop follies on a whole range of issues. I think their secret agenda is to give Ontario chiropractors a lot of business, because every second day the people of Ontario, through statements and actions of this government, are shaking their heads in total disbelief so vigorously that I'm sure the chiropractors are very busy.
The flip-flop mentality of this government as indicated by this legislation is a very serious flaw in this government. Even if we look at the first budget that was introduced, a $10-billion deficit expressly stated to increase spending in order to fight the recession, it was a budget that created a 14% increase for public servants' wages and benefits. Now the total flip-flop again, which indicates a scorch-and-burn policy of restraint.
What they do is make a mistake, and in order to rectify the mistake, they make another mistake, and that's exactly what they're doing in some aspects of the Sunday shopping legislation.
If we look at another major flip-flop, just by way of an example for about 10 seconds, we had the strongest possible opposition from the Premier, calling the whole issue of gambling and casinos a tax on the poor, and now Ontario is being called the lotto and casino capital of the world.
It wouldn't be so bad if they merely flip-flopped, but when they flip-flop, what they do is make additional mistakes, and the Sunday shopping legislation is one of those examples.
When we look at the Liberal legislation, Bill 113 and Bill 114, that created the municipal local option. I can recall when we went out with the justice committee across the province -- very, very extensive, something like 400 submissions -- and we went to eight or nine cities across the province. I can recall one opposition member at that time by the name of Mike Farnan. He had this little yellow chicken. He put it on his desk and he would say, "The government is taking the chicken way out," and he said that day after day after day.
I see some grins on the opposition benches, because they remember Mr Farnan when he was in opposition, who then became the Solicitor General to introduce Bill 115, and he is the one who said the Liberal government was taking the chicken way out. Well, we then see the Agenda for People.
But in any case, we again see on Sunday shopping that this government, this party, supports a common pause day, and once again, the first speech from the throne that this government introduced, read from where you're sitting right now, indicated that they will introduce legislation to support a common pause day.
Well, they did. It was Solicitor General Mike Farnan who introduced Bill 115. That bill was passed November 1991, a common pause day with a local tourism exemption. When you remember that this bill after second reading went out for committee hearings across the province, something in the order of 500 submissions, 8 or 10 cities -- I've got a list of them here somewhere, which I will refer to in a minute -- 180 days after Bill 115 was passed, the Premier stands in this Legislature and makes a statement. I'm going to quote the statement from the Premier. This, as I said, was the 3rd of June 1992, 180 days after he supported the enactment of a common pause day with a tourism exemption.
"I have a statement to make about Sunday shopping.
"The cabinet has decided to recommend to the House that we pass legislation to permit retail stores to open for business on Sundays.
"This has not been an easy decision. As this House well knows, I have often stood in my place on both sides of the House to argue in defence of a common pause day on Sunday and restricted access to Sunday store openings.
"Experience, which is always a good teacher, and a change in public attitudes in recent years have combined to persuade me that such legislation, however well intended, is extremely difficult to enforce fairly and runs up against a growing sense that many people want to shop on Sunday and are increasingly impatient of rules and regulations that prevent them from doing so.
"I am not convinced that Sunday shopping on its own will lead to a dramatic increase in jobs or single-handedly stop cross-border shopping. But it is clear that we cannot put a wall up around Ontario and that changing social patterns here and in neighbouring jurisdictions are having a clear impact on the choices and attitudes of Ontarians.
"I want to make it clear that the vote on the legislation, while it has the full support of the cabinet, will be a free vote in the Legislature for my own caucus, of course."
I want to refer to one little phrase in the Premier's statement. He said, "Experience, which is always a good teacher, and a change in public attitudes in recent years, have combined to persuade me..." If he's saying, as the Premier, that a recent change in public attitudes in recent years has persuaded him, why, a mere 180 days earlier, did he sit here supporting his caucus and his Solicitor General on a bill which created a common pause day?
It is because the Premier is incompetent. He permitted the justice committee to criss-cross this province a mere three or four months earlier, listening to submissions basically which disagreed with his legislation, and he has the gall to walk in here and suggest that it's changing attitudes over the last number of years. It was nothing but political expediency, it was political dishonesty, it was ad hoc planning, it was ad hoc policy from a government that does this on virtually every issue that it's involved in, from the environment to fiscal policy to casinos. The government is dysfunctional at every single level, and it starts at the top with Premier Bob.
Bill 115 toured the province the summer of 1991 and the legislation was given third reading, as I indicated, in November of 1991. That's the common pause day bill that this government supported and enacted.
In the summer of 1991 the justice committee visited Collingwood, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, North Bay, Ottawa, Kingston, Peterborough, Windsor, London and Hamilton. Sixteen days of public hearings at great expense to the taxpayer, 448 written submissions, and what did they hear? They heard about cross-border shopping, they heard from municipalities, they heard from students on student employment, they heard on the devastation of the recession.
There was a message that was given in the summer of 1991. The message that was given that summer is the message the Premier got in June of 1992 after, through his incompetence, he let his caucus and his cabinet pass Bill 115, which created a common pause day. Nothing could be more dysfunctional and more irresponsible on the part of a government than what Bob Rae did under those circumstances.
I want to refer to a letter to the editor which appeared in the Brantford Expositor. It talks about Mr Rae's campaign promises. I am going to quote exactly from the letter. It contains language which, if I were saying it, would be unparliamentary, but I believe I have the right to quote a letter to the editor which appears in a public newspaper, the Brantford Expositor, which was published on April 28, 1993. It has to do with the irresponsible flip-flopping of Premier Bob Rae and it's written by a former member of the New Democratic Party, and it says:
"For as long as I can remember I have supported the New Democratic Party. I have voted for it and promoted its policies. However, after hearing about Bob Rae's social contract I have decided to terminate my support for the NDP. I feel, as many other Ontarians do, that Bob Rae has lied to us and has failed to keep even one of his campaign promises. To put it bluntly, Rae is a charlatan -- "
"To put it bluntly, Rae is a charlatan. Rae is acting more like a Tory than a New Democrat. I do not feel that Rae, with his conservative, pro-corporate mentality, can even relate to the working man/woman. He is not supportive of the working class. This is shown by his attack upon the middle and lower income classes in the form of higher sales taxes, cutbacks in proactive programs and lack of attempts to tax the corporations and upper class. Rae promised to tax corporations. He [blank]. Rae promised to improve our education system. He [blank]. Rae promised to support proactive social programs. He [blank]. Rae promised to maintain and improve our health care services. He [blank]. Rae promised to build the Ministry of Government Services' new computer centre in Brantford. He [blank].
"Contrary to what many politicians think, voters will no longer support those who trample on their trust. Bob Rae and the NDP are living on borrowed time, for the landslide that put them in power will remove them from power with swift, blinding velocity. I will not support the NDP provincially in the future. Hopefully, all my fellow citizens will do the same. Rae [blank], he [blank], he [blank]."
Those are the words used by Michael Girdlestone, Mr Speaker, which you're saying are unparliamentary.
The government is dysfunctional. Even when it has a good idea or a good policy, it screws it up in implementation or execution, because of either incompetence or ideological fixations.
I want to read some additional Hansard from the second Solicitor General to deal with this issue in less than two and a half years, and that is the Honourable Allan Pilkey. When this Bill 38 was introduced last June, the Premier made the initial statement and then afterwards the Honourable Allan Pilkey made some comments. I'll just read very briefly: "When the bill is passed, these measures will come into effect retroactive to today. I have also asked officials of my ministry to inform police services across the province of the introduction of these amendments."
We have to understand exactly what that retroactivity does to undermine the credibility of the Legislature, the legislative process. I have here the Orders and Notices, which is a publication of this House indicating the bills which are before it. It indicates that a number of bills are coming up for second reading; for example, second reading on Bill 80, An Act to amend the Labour Relations Act, which was introduced by the Honourable Bob Mackenzie. Or we have another bill, second reading of Bill 90, An Act to amend the Planning Act and the Municipal Act with respect to Residential Units and Garden Suites. That Bill 90 is the bill which would basically abolish single-family units so that every single-family unit in the province can be created into a duplex.
The point I'm making in how this government is dysfunctional is that if we took Bill 38 as a precedent, and when a bill is introduced for first reading the minister could merely stand up and say, "Okay, this is going to be retroactive and it's effective as of today," even though we haven't even had second reading debate on it, could you imagine what that would do, what would happen if that were a precedent for Bill 90? Today, every single-family unit in the province of Ontario could be duplexed without any reference to legislation, without any reference to enforcement.
A point of privilege was raised today in this Legislature by a colleague of mine, the member for St George-St David, on this very issue of Bill 38 and how it undermines the legislative process. We look at the Orders and Notices paper and we know that what was done to Bill 38 was a very extraordinary process.
You know, Mr Speaker, in your other reality as the member for Victoria-Haliburton, how this type of thing creates cynicism in our community, how it creates the impression that the whole governmental system, the whole political system is dysfunctional and doesn't work. People are out there and they believe that a bill is introduced, it has second reading, it has some kind of committee process, is reintroduced here for third reading and receives royal assent.
That is not what happened to Bill 38. Bill 38 really is disruptive of the parliamentary principles that you and I know should exist, particularly some reasonable committee process. We know that members in the back benches feel very strongly about that dysfunctional aspect of the New Democratic Party.
If I may, there's another aspect of this Bill 38 which I would describe as dysfunctional, and that has to do with the fact that the Premier stood in this House on June 3, 1992, without any notice, and said that Bill 38, the bill that creates wide-, wide-, wide-open Sunday shopping, will be subject to a free vote. Why this bill? There are people, for example, Mr Speaker, in your other reality as the member for Victoria-Haliburton, who say: Why not a free vote on casinos? Why not a free vote on the advocacy legislation? Why not a free vote on the social contract?
What are the rules in this place that govern how we operate? What are the rules that set principles that mean something to people? The idea of presenting this bill as a free vote, to use Mr Farnan's expression, is the chicken way out. Mr Rae could not convince his caucus. Mr Rae, on Bill 115, did not introduce a free vote. Why not? I think you know as well as anybody: because Bill 115 had significant support in the community, significant support in your caucus and it sounded good -- common pause day with a tourism exemption.
Your Premier did not introduce a free vote for Bill 115. He introduced it for Bill 38. Why? Where are the rules? Mr Rae, when he was in opposition, talked about making this place work better. He talked about upgrading the principles upon which we operate, giving more power to backbenchers, more power to committees, getting rid of the cynicism. So we have, on June 3, 1992, the Premier standing up and saying, "Bill 38 will be a free vote." Why? What are the principles upon which that decision was made?
There are all kinds of backbenchers on the government side who know why, because they're going to vote against this legislation and Mr Rae is banking on having enough people from the opposition benches to carry the vote. You and I know that he does not have that guarantee, he does not have that assurance. We've taken the votes in our caucus, and it's a very, very volatile thing. People are softening on this legislation in a number of ways.
This bill may not carry, and yet we have such a dysfunctional government that the Solicitor General in effect has ordered the police departments to enforce legislation or to cease enforcing Bill 115, which is the legislation of the land at this point in time. So we've had wide-open Sunday shopping for the last year, and we have no legislation to back it up, and the Premier doesn't even have an assurance of a majority government that this bill will pass.
This Premier is a purveyor of chaos and of dysfunction and that's why people are beginning to call it the dysfunctional party. Bill 38 is a primary example. We see no parliamentary reform. We see a cynical use of the free vote without any framework or guidelines for this Legislature on any other issue.
Later on in my debate I want to make some observations on some of the impacts of Bill 38. I particularly want to make some observations about the impact this legislation will have on 6,000 neighbourhood stores across the province. I also want to make some observations on the impact this legislation is going to have on those people in the province who still support a common pause day. I think there are a number of things this government could have done in connection with Bill 38 that took into account some of those impacts. As I said, I'm going to go into those in a bit more detail in a couple of minutes.
I did want to do a short survey of the history of the legislation. As I mentioned earlier, this legislation has moved from being one of religious observance and religious intent to one with a secular intent and secular purposes.
In 1845, An Act to prevent the Profanation of the Lord's Day -- commonly called Sunday -- in Upper Canada prohibited virtually all activity on Sunday except churchgoing and certain works of necessity and charity. As usual, there were offences. This goes through and lists the whole range of offences.
Bill 38, or the Retail Business Holidays Act, as we will have it after Bill 38 amendments are passed, will still have offences. So in 1845 we had the prohibition; we had the offences. The offences included brawling or using profane language in the streets and other such things. In 1845, this Act to prevent the Profanation of the Lord's Day also had exceptions. What do we have in the Retail Business Holidays Act today? We have exceptions still. We still have the tourism exemption.
Then in 1845, as usual, we had violations that resulted in the imposition of fines. So the basic structure of the legislation in 1845 was exactly the same as the Retail Business Holidays Act that we will have after Bill 38 is passed, if in fact it's going to be passed.
What we see between 1845 and 1993 is the Legislature of Ontario, the Parliament of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada and the courts of Ontario playing political and legislative football with this issue. All the way through you have that same framework simply shifting. It's moving in one main direction, towards one main thrust. The direction that it is moving in within that framework is one of moving from what is called the religious intent or religious observance to one of secular intent and secular purpose.
As I said, I'm going to go through some of the process because I'm going to use some of the things that happened historically and relate them very specifically to Bill 115 and Bill 38 as we have it before us today.
What we had after 1845, in 1885, were some amendments that basically tinkered with that particular bill. But in 1900 the law basically was called upon to interpret that particular legislation, An Act to prevent the Profanation of the Lord's Day. In 1903, it went not only to the Supreme Court of Canada but at that time constitutional issues went to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom for the ultimate appeal. In fact, this Lord's Day case went to the Privy Council in 1903, and it was declared to be unconstitutional. We had Bill 114 in 1990 that went to the courts in Ontario and, like this bill, was declared to be unconstitutional.
So what happened? The legislators went around, they shuffled, they researched and they found ways to deal with it legislatively. Back in 1903 it was turfed right out by the Privy Council, the highest court basically in the Commonwealth. In 1990 we had the highest court in Ontario turf out Bill 114 for a short period of time.
At that time the federal government moved in, resulting in the passage or enactment of the Lord's Day Act in 1906. That basically filled the void, and it in effect gave a type of local option to the provinces, so that the provinces could get back into the field. In fact that's exactly what happened.
So when you think in terms of local option that we talked about, whether it's a local municipal option or whether it's a local option for the tourism exemption, in 1906 the federal Parliament of Canada was creating a local option for the provinces to be able to deal with this issue, because the Privy Council had determined in effect that only the federal government could operate within that particular area.
Moving quickly along to 1922, we had enacted legislation in 1922 called One Day's Rest in Seven Act. Mr Speaker, you're probably aware of the fact that this legislation still exists today. Ontario enacted the One Day's Rest in Seven Act to deal with the issue of Sunday work for employees of hotels, restaurants or cafés. It provided for at least 24 consecutive hours of rest in every seven days and, whenever possible, on a Sunday. The legislation continues in force today.
Of course, we had the warriors intervening, 1939 to 1945, and Sunday work in industry became very commonplace. It became part of our economy and part of our provincial infrastructure. Then there were a series of minor refinements, if I can put it that way. In 1943 Toronto movie theatres opened on Sunday but only to members of the armed services. This privilege was withdrawn in 1945 after the war.
In 1950 Toronto and Windsor, having each conducted a referendum on the issue and having received a positive response, asked the provincial government to allow all types of sports on Sundays. In response to the request by Toronto and Windsor and in recognition of changing attitudes in society, the Legislature exercised the authority given to it under the federal Lord's Day Act, under the local option, so to speak, to opt out of the prohibition against commercial sports activities, so then it was therefore permitted.
The Legislature amended the Lord's Day Act, Ontario, in 1960 to permit any Sunday concert, recital or other musical performance of an artistic and cultural nature at which an admission fee is charged between the hours of 1:30 and 6 pm, and it had to be produced by a non-profit organization.
There were a number of further amendments and refinements, including getting rid of the Lord Day's Act itself. I'm going quickly through the research paper here and I just want to highlight the major change and the major thrust, which brings me to the point in 1969 where we have a very, very significant historical event in the development of Sunday openings or Sunday observance legislation, and of course that is the law reform commission set up by the Conservative government in 1969.
The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the province requested the Ontario Law Reform Commission to undertake a study and review of the Sunday observance legislation in effect in Ontario in all its aspects. The extensive study was to investigate the historical, religious, economic, sociological, legal and comparative background of the law relating to Sunday observance.
It was that commission that was the basis of the Retail Business Holidays Act as we know it today. There were several significant recommendations that this commission made to the Conservative government of the day.
Probably the most significant recommendation is that "The Ontario legislation providing support for a Sunday pause day should be secular and not religious in both purpose and effect." That was recommendation 3. So we see in 1969 a very significant and clear statement that the province and provincial public opinion were moving away from religious intent, religious observance purposes, to those of secular intent and purposes.
Very briefly, this commission recommended that "Ontario should provide legislative support for a uniform weekly pause day for as many persons as possible." That was recommendation 1. "The uniform weekly pause day should be Sunday." That was recommendation 2. As I mentioned, the purpose and intent should be secular and not religious. That was recommendation 3.
"The legislation should have the dual secular purpose of (a) preserving a quality environment for the pursuit of leisure activities among family and friends; and (b) ensuring that as many persons as possible will be protected from being required to work on Sundays against their will." That was recommendation 4.
There is a whole series of other recommendations which I won't go into but, as I mentioned, that commission was the basis for the Retail Business Holidays Act, which was introduced in 1975 and became law on January 1, 1976. The drafting of that legislation was basically to try to create a secular rather than a religious purpose.
The act was passed by the Legislature and was proclaimed in force on January 1, 1976. It prohibited the carrying on of a retail business on holidays, including Sundays. This general prohibition was subject to several exceptions. We know what they are generally in terms of the sale of drugs, the size of the retail establishment -- 2,400 square feet -- nursery stock, flowers, gardening supplies etc.
But one of the most significant exceptions -- and as I mentioned, the initial legislation in 1845 had a general prohibition and it had exceptions, and the Retail Business Holidays Act that was enacted in 1976 was like all the others. It had exceptions. Of course, if a municipality, for tourism purposes, wanted to pass a bylaw permitting Sunday openings, it could do that. What happened between 1976 and 1988, when the government of David Peterson introduced Bill 114, is that we had the so-called tourism exemption under the Retail Business Holidays Act become a de facto local option.
You know that under the Conservative legislation, before the Liberal government came to power, before the NDP government came to power, there was a tourism exemption that enabled over 100 municipalities to pass bylaws permitting Sunday openings. We know that there were bylaws to permit openings in Ottawa, for example. The Byward Market for a number of years in the early 1980s could open on Sundays. We know that there are other areas -- Niagara Falls, Chinatown -- and we know that other parts of communities were opened under what was a de facto municipal option.
It was very controversial legislation, and what happened with the Retail Business Holidays Act -- even though having what amounted to a de facto municipal local option because there were no guidelines, there were no teeth in the exception that permitted the tourism exemption -- people started to assault the legislation legally. As in 1845 and 1903, there were challenges that went to the highest court of the land and the challenges basically hinged around the issue that this type of legislation had to do with religion; it didn't have to do with Sunday openings or closings or commercial trade, and it was challenged in that general policy area. So it did prove to be very controversial legislation.
In the years that followed there were several court challenges, and I'd like to refer to probably one that was most significant. It was most significant because it dealt with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This was a case that was initiated, I think, around 1982-83, after the charter came into force, and it wasn't decided by the Supreme Court of Canada until 1985. It dealt with the Lord's Day Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and it had a very serious impact on the whole legislative direction and on subsequent court challenges.
I want to refer to just a very brief passage from Mr Justice Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada. He was speaking for the court when he said this:
"In my view, the guarantee of freedom of conscience and religion prevents the government from compelling individuals to perform or abstain from performing otherwise harmless acts because of the religious significance of those acts to others. As I read the charter, it mandates that legislative preservation for Sunday day of rest should be secular. The diversity of belief or non-belief, the diverse sociocultural backgrounds of Canadians, make it constitutionally incompetent for the federal Parliament," and, by implication, for the legislatures, "to provide legislative preference for any one religion at the expense of those of another religious persuasion."
The court further concluded that the infringement of freedom of religion was not reasonable and demonstrably justified under section 1 of the charter. The legislation was declared to be wholly inoperative and of no force and effect. The result of the decision was to remove the criminal law underpinnings of Sunday retail closing laws in the province.
At this point in time, 1985 -- coincidentally around the time that the David Peterson Liberal government came to power with the assistance of the NDP through the accord -- we had up to that point the Ontario Law Reform Commission saying that this type of legislation must be secular, not religious in nature, we have the Retail Business Holidays Act, which endeavours to create secular purposes and intent but fails to do so, and we have the Supreme Court of Canada saying that if this type of legislation in any way affects religious observance, religious freedom, of any range of religions or beliefs, then it is not appropriate legislation.
So we then have a government of the day that is required to deal with these judicial interpretations, that has to deal with the interpretation of the charter on the Retail Business Holidays Act. We then have the Liberal government coming in with Bill 113. Bill 113 was introduced April 1988 and it also had, I guess, the sister or brother bill, Bill 114, to try to protect workers.
I agree with the member for Etobicoke West when he says that when we introduced that Bill 114 to protect workers, everybody on the NDP side said: "You can't legislate this protection through the Employment Standards Act, through employment standards legislation. It's impossible to do." And the Solicitor General stands in his place today and says: "We're going to rely on this legislation. It will protect workers."
Mr Speaker, I leave it up to you, in your other reality as a voting member of this Legislature, to determine whether it does or doesn't happen. But certainly, when you read the words of the NDP when they were in opposition and you listen to what the Solicitor General is saying today, they're totally at odds with each other. Where does the public cynicism come from? Where does the total falling apart of the New Democratic Party come from if it doesn't come from that? You've got no credibility left on a whole range of issues, including Sunday shopping, because you flip-flop all over the place on every single, solitary issue that you deal with.
Bill 114 was introduced by the Liberal government, as I said, in April 1988, and Bill 113 went out and received 465 oral and written submissions. It went to 13 centres other than Toronto. I was on the justice committee in August 1988 when they started this trooping around the city to consult with the people of Ontario. There were a lot of people coming before the committee who did not want wide-open Sunday shopping and they made that loud and clear.
What is very, very significant is that I also sat in on some of the hearings for Bill 115 which created a common pause day and a tourism exemption. What is absolutely amazing is that a lot of the retailers in August 1988 who went nose to nose, toe to toe, with me as a government member on the justice committee, saying that the local municipal option wouldn't work and they didn't want wide-open Sunday shopping, came in the summer of 1991 before Mike Farnan's committee, as Solicitor General, and said they wanted to open it up because circumstances had changed.
A lot of circumstances did change. We had cross-border shopping. We were in the throes of the recession. We had retailers who were really suffering. We had students who were crying for work on Sundays, part-time, whenever and wherever they could get it. There were certain realities that existed in the summer of 1991 which didn't exist in the fall of 1988.
But I want to come back to one point that I mentioned before. Those committee hearings in the summer of 1991, Mike Farnan's bill -- they heard these 488 submissions come in and they were saying: "Open it up. Open it up. Open it up." Mike Farnan, the guy who walked around in 1988 with the little yellow chicken saying, "You're taking the chicken way out," everywhere he went, what did he do? He took the chicken way out. He passed a bill, Bill 115, which purported to create a common pause day and then he turned around and created a municipal tourism exemption which in many respects was unenforceable and unworkable. The guy who symbolized the issue of taking the chicken way out took the biggest chicken way out possible.
But 180 days after this bill -- Bill 115, the current legislation which is not being enforced, the common pause day legislation -- became law in November 1991, the Premier stood up here and said, "Public attitudes have changed over recent years." Where was he the summer of 1991? Where was he in November 1991 when his government, his cabinet, enacted the common pause day legislation called Bill 115? Where were they? What happened between November and June 3 when the Premier announced that he was going to create instantly wide, wide, wide, wide-open Sunday shopping? As I mentioned, it's so wide you can drive a truck through it. A President's Choice truck can drive into a Loblaws superstore at 6 am Sunday morning, unload the produce, and that superstore is going to be open from 8 am Sunday until 8 pm Sunday night.
Why did the Premier permit Bill 115 to be passed 180 days earlier? Mr Speaker, you know more than anyone else the reason why. The reason is that the Premier of this province is dysfunctional and he has caused his cabinet and his government to be dysfunctional.
Going back very briefly to the history of the legislation, again, if the Premier wanted some indication of which way he should be going on it, he had the opportunity between June 22, 1990, and March 20, 1991. There were some eight and a half months within that time frame when, as in 1903, the legislation was declared to be unconstitutional and of no force and effect. We had eight and a half months in 1990 when Bill 114 was as though it didn't exist. It was under appeal and we had wide-open Sunday shopping in the province of Ontario. So we had not only the experience of the justice committee hearings in the summer of 1991, we had the de facto experience for the benefit of the Premier throughout the latter part of 1990 and up to March 1991 when in fact we had wide-open Sunday shopping.
So I ask you again, why did this Premier lead this cabinet into Bill 115, common pause day? I think I know why. I think the Premier thought that he was being true to his New Democratic Party agenda. Mr Speaker, we know what the Agenda for People said; you know what it said. We know what the first throne speech said. The first throne speech said, "We're going to create a common pause day," and the Premier introduced legislation to create a common pause day. Not only that, he passed the legislation. Some 180 days later, a full 180-degree turnaround and he reverses himself.
So the issue is a dysfunctional government at a time when Ontario needs leadership, when Ontario needs consistency, when Ontario needs predictability for the people of this province and for the businesses of this province.
To show how dysfunctional the government really is and was, Bill 115, which is still on the books -- Mr Speaker, you know that bill is still there, but the Solicitor General has indicated to the police departments, "Don't enforce it." It had a totally unworkable, if I may use the term again, dysfunctional municipal tourism exemption, so much so that the municipal bylaws that would have been passed under that legislation could be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Not only could it be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, but a municipal bylaw for a tourism exemption enacted in Hawkesbury, Ontario, could be appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board by a resident of Sarnia or a resident of Windsor. Talk about dysfunctional local tourism option. You're going to give somebody in Windsor the right to appeal a bylaw in Hawkesbury.
Talk about being dysfunctional. Bill 38, this legislation which creates wide-open Sunday shopping, still retains that tourism exemption for the other statutory holidays. It is possible for a municipality to pass a bylaw to create the exemptions for the statutory holidays, including Easter Sunday. So the tourism exemption bylaw provision and the Retail Business Holidays Act, which has been enacted by reason of Bill 115, will continue to exist after Bill 38 is enacted, if in fact it's going to be enacted.
That brings me to Bill 38. Bill 38 is the bill which was introduced June 3, 1992. We've waited a year for this legislation to come forward. Bill 38 makes three simple amendments to Ontario's Sunday shopping law.
The first amendment changes the present definition of holiday, replacing "Sunday" with "Easter Sunday." This change means that Sundays are no longer designated as holidays and are therefore not restricted by the Retail Business Holidays Act. Essentially, retail stores of all kinds will be permitted to open on Sundays.
There's a significant omission. Whether it's conscious or not, I don't know. But I have a legal opinion which I asked legislative research, and through lawyer Susan Swift from that office, at my request -- I won't go through the whole thing, but I'm sure the gist of it will not be lost on many members who are still concerned about family day on Sunday: Based on the wording of section 214 of the Municipal Act and a brief review of the cases, there is currently no power in the municipalities to restrict Sunday store hours to between, say, 12 noon or 1 pm and 5 pm.
When I introduced my debate I said, make no mistake about it, Bill 38 doesn't create wide-open Sunday shopping; it creates wide, wide, wide, wide-open Sunday shopping, so that it goes from 8 am until 8 pm on Sunday. For all those people who believe in a common pause day, this government couldn't even restrict the hours of opening on Sunday, couldn't restrict it from noon till 6. Start at 6 am Sunday and finish at 8 pm Sunday night. What about the impact for all these people who came to your committee? What about the workers?
As I said, you flip-flop, and when you come back and flip-flop, you make a bigger mistake than you made in the first place. You're dysfunctional. You don't listen. You're not qualified to govern any more. This bloody government does not consider the impact of its decisions on people. It does not consider reasonable transition --
Why did you have to go so far in the other direction? Why did you not at least consider looking at some restriction on the hours of wide-open Sunday shopping? We didn't hear any debate on that. As I mentioned, we don't even know where this bill is going after second reading. We don't know if it's going to committee so that type of thing can be discussed. I'm not even talking about public hearings. I'm talking about you and I as members to be able to sit and say, "Well, maybe you've gone too far with the bill and maybe Sunday openings, retail openings, should be restricted some way between noon and 6 o'clock on Sundays." You'd still have Sunday openings. That type of thing would accommodate so many people.
Again, the government is dysfunctional. We don't even know if they're going to discuss it in committee of the whole, whether they're going to a legislative committee for half a day or a day to review some of the comments of the members, so that we can give some impact matters of this legislation some sober second thought, sober second thought on those provisions of the tourism exemption that will continue after Bill 38 is enacted.
The second change to Bill 38 updates a section originally contained in the Liberal legislation basically:
"A provision in a lease or other agreement that has the effect of requiring a retail business establishment to remain open on a holiday or on a Sunday, whether or not the Sunday is a holiday, is of no effect...."
That is trying to protect the small retailer and it does address an impact issue, but it's an impact issue that was in the original legislation that was enacted by the Liberals.
The third change to the legislation is a provision which makes these amendments retroactive.
I wish he'd stay here for a minute, because I was just getting to the point at which this government amended the legislation to make it retroactive, which means that the Premier in his wisdom stood up and was hit by a bolt of lightning, as he was with his fiscal policy of restraint, stood up here on June 3 and said, "Oh, yes, as of today it's all changed," signed Bob Rae.
His Solicitor General stood up and told the police departments not to enforce the existing law. I'm the first opposition member to debate Bill 38 in this Legislature, one year after the Solicitor General told the police departments not to enforce existing legislation. That is such an undermining of the principles of good government and of the legislative process. It totally underlies the pathological dysfunctioning of this government.
The government, as I mentioned, did not consider the impact of its legislation in any significant way. I talked about at least considering the impact of the hours of operation, which it did not do.
There's another impact issue which I think needs addressing in a significant way and that has to do with the impact on 6,000 small businessmen in the province of Ontario. These are the 6,000 convenience stores in Ontario employing over 52,000 people full- and part-time. The sector used to have a total sales volume of over $3.8 billion. About 4,600 stores are individually owned small businesses, owner-operated.
The Ontario Convenience Stores Association members buy over $500 million worth of products from Ontario wholesalers and distributors, pay approximately $32 million in retail sales tax to the Ontario government and pay $12 million in municipal taxes. They are being impacted very negatively by this legislation, and I want to address and make some observations on their concerns.
But, more particularly, I want to address this theme of mine of a government which is dysfunctional. I have here an extract from a brief presented to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs; this was during pre-budget consultations, presented March 8, 1993. I'm going to quote about five paragraphs which indicate how dysfunctional this NDP government really is.
This is a section, section IV, called "Government Reaction," and while I read this I want the people at home and I want the 6,000 people who are convenience store managers or owners to realize that the Minister of Environment and Energy is sitting there laughing and joking at the fact that I'm raising their concerns.
"While our latest report, The Impact of Sunday Shopping on Ontario's Convenience Stores, has not been shared with government officials -- it is due to be released this week -- we have been receiving reactions to our plight that we can only characterize as frustrating. We have been granted meetings with the Treasurer's staff and with the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. Those meetings have been cordial.
"We have also felt that the meetings were conducted within an atmosphere of disbelief. In other conversations with officials we have heard comments like 'the convenience store owners are whiners,'; 'convenience stores will always survive,' and 'convenience stores made the adjustment in other jurisdictions.' There have been rumours about an internal report, prepared by the federal government -- perhaps from Statscan -- that shows no damage to the industry when Sunday shopping was introduced in BC.
"The OCSA finds this situation difficult to deal with. Nothing has been said up front, no one has confronted us with contrary figures or evidence that we can deal with.
"Our problem then is getting the government to deal with us directly and openly." If I can repeat that, there are 6,000 small business people in the province saying: "Our problem then is getting the government to deal with us directly and openly."
"We believe that government officials are not being completely candid with us by not commenting directly to us about any reservations they may have or by revealing any information that might contradict our claims. We believe that there is an internal bias within government staff against our case and that until it is brought forward and the evidence upon which it is based is shared, the plight of 11 companies who have all been good corporate citizens, the employment of 13,000 people and the investment of thousands of small business people in this province will be at risk because of some gigantic misunderstanding.
"In an effort to overcome this governmental attitude, the OCSA has commissioned a completely open, wide-ranging review of our sales records. We have held meetings with provincial officials and we have reviewed the impact of the introduction of Sunday shopping in other jurisdictions. Neither in our own case or in the case of the independent stores is there any justification for the attitude that the convenience store sector will easily survive."
What I'm saying to the Minister of Environment and the government is that you have an obligation to consider the impact of your legislation. The convenience store owners association has accepted, reluctantly, the reality of wide-open Sunday shopping. They're concerned about the hours. I commented on the hours a few minutes ago. The livelihood of 50,000 Ontario people depends on the financial viability of that particular sector.
We've had no consideration for the hours, as I said. The President's Choice tractor-trailer drives up at 6 am Sunday morning, empties its produce, and it goes till 8 o'clock Sunday night, 8 am to 8 pm. Has the government considered the economic impact on the 50,000 people who depend on corner convenience stores?
I just want to relate to the people of the province an executive summary of the brief of the convenience store owners association. It's very short, very succinct, four or five very simple lines, but it speaks a lot. It says:
"Executive Summary: Last Year: From June 7, 1992, when the Ontario government first allowed Sunday shopping, to September 30, 1992, the members of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association have lost $59 million in total sales. Our convenience stores have lost $12,000 each in sales for the months of June, July, August and September. Close to 2,000 of our convenience store employees have lost their jobs" -- this government purports to create jobs -- "and 200 of our convenience stores have closed."
This government purports to encourage the creation of small business. The executive summary goes on:
"This year, from June 7, 1992, to June 6, 1993, the members of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association will lose $179 million in total sales. Convenience stores will lose $38,500 each in total sales and an additional 1,000 of our convenience store employees will lose their jobs."
They're not asking for the abolition of Bill 38. I've spoken to some of the leaders of the association. They're not even asking for us to vote against Bill 38; they're simply saying the government has a responsibility to consider the impact. It has the responsibility to consider the impact of wide-open morning Sunday shopping on the people who support a common pause day, which it hasn't done, and it has the obligation to consider the impact of wide-open Sunday morning shopping on convenience stores and late evening, wide-open Sunday shopping on convenience stores. It hasn't done that, by not providing any consideration of the hours.
I want to refer to a letter dated March 17, 1993, from the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. I won't go through all of it because I've already made some comments on it. But they're acting very responsibly, the convenience stores association executive and members, because they've made a number of suggestions, and I just want to indicate the suggestions. In addition to the fact that some dealing with the hours can assist in the impact, they've also made the following suggestions:
"The commission for collecting the retail sales tax should be increased to 10% and the cap removed to enable these small business men and women to survive.
"The government consider imposing commercial rent control." That's a very complicated issue. I'm not sure I agree with it, but the government has not seriously looked at it.
"The provincial government restrict municipalities' rights to impose licensing and other burdens on convenience stores." They're looking for some provincial legislative assistance, because right now there's no control over store hours, there's no control over the impact of the large retail chains on small corner stores. So they're asking for some legislative assistance from the province so that their government burden expenses will be reduced. They're asking that the Treasurer grant a provincial income tax credit to convenience stores. It may or may not be reasonable, but the government has not even given it serious consideration.
"The Ontario government consider the right to sell beer and wine in convenience stores" -- that is another item which the convenience stores want to put on the table to assist in the impact of wide, wide, wide-open Sunday shopping. They go on to indicate here, because they're very realistic: "We realize that some of these suggestions will be difficult and other suggestions are new ideas for us. However, our situation has become so drastic that we are willing to review all options as a means of compensating for our lost jobs and revenue. We are asking you to contact the Treasurer, the Premier or the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations on our behalf. Ask them to support us in finding a remedy."
That's what I'm doing here now, this minute. I am reading, for the people of Ontario and for the cabinet and for the Premier, some reasonable requests which are being made by the 50,000 people who work in this industry and by the 6,000 store owners or managers of the chains of convenience stores.
I do have other matters which I'm not going to go through because my time is quickly running out, but I did want to refer very briefly to the fact that Bill 38 required the Minister of Labour to set up a committee to study the impact of Bill 38, wide-open Sunday shopping, on various sectors of the Ontario economy and Ontario society. Those recommendations were tabled in the Legislature last week.
They amount to absolutely nothing in the sense that they're basically saying, "Please try to protect our interests." There are a couple of specific recommendations, but what is most troubling -- and it goes to the fact again that it's a totally dysfunctional government and that this committee report was tabled last week by the Minister of Labour, on which there was no comment, no response. No forum was created to deal with the issue.
The committee just reported last week and the Solicitor General announced today he's setting up another committee to look at the impacts of Bill 38. That's what the committee report is that was filed last week. The committee reported on Bill 38 and now the Solicitor General, the third Solicitor General in two and a half years, stands in his place today and says he's setting up another committee to look at the impact.
This government is totally, absolutely not only dysfunctional; it is disrespectful to the people in this Legislature. It is disrespectful to the people of the province of Ontario. For reasons that I've enunciated, I can understand why many people will vote in favour of this legislation, but this government has not considered even a modest consideration for the impact, namely Sunday mornings, when we have wide-open retail shopping possible and starting to exist in the province.
We have significant impact that this government has not considered for 50,000 people who are employed in the small convenience, corner grocery store operations. So it is for those reasons that I will be voting against this legislation, because the government has been insensitive to the impact.
Even accepting legislation that would create so-called wide-open Sunday shopping, when Bob Rae stood up in the Legislature on June 3, 1992, to announce Bill 38, to announce wide-open shopping, I don't think the people in this province understood that you're going to get superstores and wholesaling operations opening at 8 am Sunday morning. That was not contemplated, and I think people are finally starting to see that. The impact, at that time, has to be dealt with, and I do believe this government has to give some serious consideration to the plight of the small business people involved in convenience stores and corner grocery stores.
Mr Speaker, I thank you for the time, and my debate has ended.
Some of those who opposed Sunday shopping said that this wouldn't be the case, that it would only shift the jobs from convenience stores, from those stores that are already open on Sunday, to other places. Certainly, from some of the information the member presented -- and the people from local convenience stores in my area who have been in to see me clearly support that evidence as well, that their sales on Sunday, which was traditionally their strongest day, are down very substantially. So I think bringing that point out in the debate is very good and shows some of the difficulties in dealing with this issue.
We all understand the difficulties and how times have changed. I guess some of us still feel, though, that we wish somehow there could be one day where commerce and the activities of commerce could maybe not totally stop but be done in a much slower manner. We all live in a very busy world, a very busy time, and I think many of us would like to see that there be at least one day of a week where, for lack of a better term, there would be somewhat of a common pause or a chance for us to slow down from our busy pace of life. I think that's why some of us still continue to believe that Sunday shopping is not in the best interests of the folks.
So I think the member for Ottawa West has done a service. I know he feels confined by the amount of time he was allowed under Bob Rae's new rules to express himself in this Legislature, and I certainly will be asking for unanimous consent, when I get to speak, to be allowed to speak for the same amount of time on an issue that I consider to be exceedingly important.
But if I looked at the issues, as the member did, that I thought were important to the NDP, if I were an objective observer who was going to vote one way or the other, one of the things that would have attracted me to the New Democratic Party would have been its stand on casino gambling -- against -- and its stand on Sunday shopping, a stand which was based on a common pause day, on the need to protect individuals who work in these various businesses and occupations across the province from being forced -- and no matter what way you put it, they're going to be forced -- to work on Sundays, the common pause day.
For this reason, I'm exceedingly pleased that the member for Ottawa West has taken it upon himself to speak for the length of time he has to outline the history of this government's stand and this issue as it relates to this House.
I just want to talk about this legislation. You people over there failed to come to grips with it. This government has got the courage and the fortitude at last to come to grips with Sunday shopping. All of you failed to do that.
We had the run-through and the history lesson from the member for Ottawa West that we could very well have done without.
I just want to refer to Hansard, May 26. Your leader, the leader of the third party, was talking about the debate you folks had on bringing back the municipal option, and he said: "I tell you, I finish as I started. I am absolutely amazed that the Liberal Party brought this resolution forward today, that it wants to remind Ontarians of how ineffectual it was and what lack of leadership it had on this issue." I echo the sentiments of the leader of the third party. He goes on to say, "Our main criticism of" this party "now is: Get on with it." Today we are getting on with that to get this thing resolved.
I'm sure the people of Ontario are fed up to here and beyond with this issue of Sunday shopping. Let's get it out of the way, let's vote on it and let's get back to debating and coming to grips with the things the people of Ontario want: jobs and the economy. That's what the people want to listen to. The Gallup poll says 72% of Ontarians want Sunday shopping.
The thing that bothers me most about the way this issue has been dealt with is the fact that it wasn't dealt with last summer, it wasn't dealt with at the time the bill was first introduced, and it's the odd circumstance -- frankly, it's an insult to the members of this House that the bill was introduced on a free-vote basis, and then the law, as it stood on the books, was not applied. I think that's an insult to all the members.
I just want the members to be clear up front: My vote will be for the legislation; however, I have some concerns.
But I think the people of this province are ready for it, subject to some concerns. I think it's probably inappropriate that we do not have some kind of at least pause for part of Sunday. I think some kind of condition that would allow stores to open after 12 o'clock might be something this House and the members in committee should look forward to. I look forward to speaking more thoroughly on this issue when my turn in the debate comes up.
With respect to the member for Durham East, he says: "Let's get on with it. Let's get the vote. Let's put this issue to bed." That's the problem with the New Democratic Party and this government. Basically it's like a bull in a china shop. It makes a mistake and then, when it does a flip-flop, it makes a bigger mistake.
I wish the member for Durham East would simply have said, using his words, that he wasn't concerned about people on Sunday mornings, that he wasn't concerned that all the retail operations are going to be open. Loblaws superstores are going to be open from 8 am to 8 pm --
I would invite him to talk to the substance. I would invite him to talk to the impact of this legislation, the impact on 50,000 employees in this province, the impact on those people who support a common pause day who now, with Bill 38, do not even have Sunday mornings, the workers who don't even have Sunday mornings. Even if you support wide-open Sunday shopping, why couldn't you draft a bill that would start at noon and open up at noon instead of open up from the early hours of Sunday morning?
The member for Durham East is part of a dysfunctional government.
What I'd like to do, first off, is --
When I ran for this office, I said to the constituents of my riding, some of whom were opposed to me and I'm certain didn't vote for me because of the position I took on Sunday shopping -- there is a large segment of my community that didn't want wide-open Sunday shopping.
Let's be very clear in the beginning: When I went out and sought election for this office, the question came up about Sunday shopping and I was very clear, if it came to a free vote in the House, I would vote in favour, which is exactly opposite to what all those people on the other side said. I would just like to be very clear, it's been a consistent message, I've been in favour.
I think what this Legislature needs to do at this time is not necessarily go back through the history of 1845, when a streetcar was introduced on Sunday, or Sunday sports and so on and so forth. The history of it all, the chronology of holiday shopping in Ontario, can be summarized from 1845 onwards. It can be a list that's quite long and gets you right up until 1993.
But, for our own purposes, I think it's important that we go back to when the leaders of our respective parties took positions on this issue and filled in the population of this province on what their position would be on Sunday shopping in this domain that we stand in today.
What was the position of the then Leader of the Opposition, now Premier, Mr Bob Rae? I took the time to go back through the Hansard recordings of previous administrations and I came up with the second and third readings of the Liberal motion of the day, which was for municipal option, ideally known locally as the domino option, and what the Premier of this day, the then Leader of the Opposition, had to say.
I read his comments and that was a tremendous speech -- two very good speeches that Mr Rae made on those days. I think it's very important that the people of this province recall or be reminded of exactly what it is the member said in those days and I think it would be important for the members who weren't here then, on the government side, to hear exactly what Mr Rae had to say as Leader of the Opposition. I will say, quite often you had members opposite standing up and chastising both the Liberals and the Conservatives for offering what they consider to be irresponsible critics' positions on some issues we face today.
We also must bear in mind for history that the Premier of the day is the same man who campaigned against Sunday shopping. Yes, he's flip-flopped on casino gambling; yes, he's flip-flopped on government-run auto insurance; yes, he's flip-flopped on practically everything.
But what I thought the NDP held dear to their hearts, one issue that I didn't think you'd sell out on, one issue I thought on September 6, 1990, was over for at least five years, was the issue of Sunday shopping. I couldn't have been any more wrong or surprised that the socialists, the labour-leaning, left-wing cause célèbres, the 74 of you, could actually be convinced that what you had said, the rhetoric you had spouted for all those many decades about Sunday shopping, was just plain and simple socialist pap, bottom line.
They sold everybody out that you spoke for on that campaign: the workers, the churches and all the people who believed in you. So when I see the member for Durham East, Mr Mills, getting up and chanting and raving and ranting on that side of the House, I think he'd be better off to simply do what I think all members should do on this particular issue, sit in your seats like church mice, because you have no room at all to debate this issue, period, case closed.
Again they don't take my advice. I told them that $10 billion was too much; they didn't take my advice. I told them five dumps in Durham is too many; they still didn't take my advice, and even at this point they're not taking it.
Let me start. Mr Bob Rae: He starts off by speaking to that domino piece of legislation the Liberals introduced. "I am referring now to the 1988 version of the views of the Solicitor General." This is Bob Rae speaking so this is interesting stuff.
Here's Bob Rae saying that a member of the Liberal government's views have changed rather dramatically with her rise in ranking within the Liberal Party. "There was a time when the Solicitor General had a very different view from the one she is expressing today."
"We all respect the right of members to change their minds. This is a long-honoured right among members of the Legislature, as it is among individuals. I think we are also allowed to point out precisely when these changes occur in the life of an honourable member."
That was Mr Rae and I think I'm going to take my time today to point out exactly when this life change took place for Mr Rae.
He goes on to say: "In 1988, it is the modern and contemporary thing to do to have stores open on Sunday. It is what the modern yuppie family wants. It is what the trendy way of the world should be. This is what should transpire and this is what should happen." The immortal words of Robert K. Rae, QC.
"If the government of the day had the courage to say that, I would say, fine, let's have a debate on the question of whether Sunday should be a day which is a commercial day like any other day or whether we should recognize that one day of the week should be a day of common rest and common pause as much as is humanly...possible" and practical.
"I want to say very clearly that I will speak personally and also on behalf of my caucus because we are more or less of the same view on this question with some varieties of opinion, as they are expressed from time to time within a caucus. I can say" -- now, this is their Premier, the socialist Premier in opposition -- "quite honestly I am not an ideologue on this issue, nor do I come to it from a sense that Sunday is a common day of religious expression and that is the reason it should be preserved.
"I have a much more practical sense as to why this is important and why it has assumed the importance that it has. It is simply this." He went on to say, "We live in a world where more and more people are having to work longer and longer hours in order to make ends meet. Many of my constituents who 10 or 15 years ago would not have had to work are working now. Many of them are working longer hours than they were working 10 or 15 years ago. For that reason, the pressure to work on Sunday and the pressure to be away from the family is growing all the time."
"There is much sentimentality expressed in our culture about the family. I do not intend to engage in any more of that than I absolutely have to. But I do think that if any of us were to ask ourselves what is the one institution in our society that we would want to try to sustain, as well as the rights of individuals, it would be the family."
"It would be our right and our chance or opportunity to be together" -- and it's certainly gotten quite quiet here -- "to spend time together and to spend time free from pressures of the marketplace and free from pressures of the commercial world, a time when we can be together."
"It is...a value in our culture as Canadians. It is a value in the cultures from which many of us come. It is a value which has profound importance in a great many communities which make up the Canadian community." Words by Robert K. Rae, QC.
Sir, you could have put this to music, entered it into a tape and CITY-TV, Radio Free Noon at CBC and Metro NDP Morning would have been playing this non-stop for hours on end.
Here he goes again, speaking personally: "If I could speak personally again, on a Sunday afternoon I can go and visit my constituents whose homes may have been in Italy or Portugal or in many, many other parts of the world, but I will mention these two cultures particularly, and I know well that if I go there on Sunday at 12 o'clock the whole family will be there."
No longer, because the NDP is introducing Sunday shopping legislation. No longer will he be able to go to his constituents' homes who happen to be from Italy and Portugal, at noon, and have a drink of wine, as he says, and chat about family concerns, because they'll all be out shopping.
To continue: "I believe" --
He goes on. "I must confess I do not regard that as a contemporary or a particularly modern notion. There is nothing contemporary or modern about it. It is, if I may say so, a very old-fashioned, commercial Victorian idea that people should be working 12 hours a day, seven days a week. It is not a modern doctrine at all. It is a very old-fashioned doctrine and it is a very vicious doctrine," said Robert K. Rae, QC.
Now here's a really good part. The guy was warming up, he was in full swing, sucking those votes up all over the province: "I'm opposed to Sunday shopping. Vote for me. Read Agenda for People. Everybody's lying but me. Gosh, I'll be the greatest Premier in the world."
He goes on, "Surely" -- and apparently, he was talking to Shirley -- "if one genuinely wanted to be modern or contemporary, one would be talking about ways we can ensure that people should be working less." Well, he succeeded at something. He's Premier and people are certainly working less.
"I believe profoundly that people should not be working for as long, for as many hours as they are being required to work today." It worked again; people aren't working as long or for as many hours a day as they used to be. "I believe profoundly that we should not only be talking about making Sunday a day of rest; we should be talking about making Saturday a day of rest." He didn't even go far enough; he's now made a day of rest in this province for 300,000 people of Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and he's succeeded in Friday as well. The man is incredible, brilliant. He fulfilled one promise at least.
He goes on -- and this is in opposition. This is Robert K. Rae, QC.
Again, he was just warming up. This is a speech from Robert K. Rae, QC. This was before he called Mr Peterson a liar for not putting beer in corner stores. This is the Premier then: "One of the first questions I asked in this House six years ago" from this date in 1988, so now he's going to history. He actually felt the same way six years previous to the 1988 debate -- "dealt with this question of working time, the fact that families are being forced to work longer and harder hours in order to make ends meet in our society. More and more people are working overtime. More and more people are working part-time, because that is the only kind of work they can get. They add on, they work and they work and they moonlight. They do work here and they do work there. Why? Because they do not get paid enough." He fixed that again. They're not getting paid at all any more.
"It is not because of some Calvinist urge, that they think it is good for their souls, that they have to go out there and sweat 12 hours a day. It is because they have to, because they have no bloody choice, because they make $4.50 or $5 an hour, because they have a family, because they have to pay the rent that is going up faster than they can keep up with and, if they have a house, so that they can keep up with the mortgage. It is impossible.
"The first thing I want to say is when members of the Liberal Party talk about modernity" --
I've got my letter that I want to read, thanks to the member for St Catharines who nobly gave it to me, but I'm out of time, so I want to leave those members from the government side --
I will adjourn the debate and hope that we can all come back tomorrow. Maybe Robert K. can come as well, and hear the immortal words of himself a few short years ago.
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