The House met at 1332.
SERVICES FOR THE DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED
Mr Charles Beer (York North): My message is for the Minister of Community and Social Services. Minister, your decision to terminate what is known as the triministry program funding on April 1 of next year is causing tremendous concern in the province. In particular, the region of York and Simcoe county will be hardest hit. Almost half of all provincial funds go into those two areas.
The triministry program provides services to children and adults with developmental handicaps. The ministries of Health, Education and Community and Social Services are the three ministries involved. The allocation to York region of $1.3 million provides residential, day, speech, seating clinics and leisure programs, and case management.
I have received strong representations from the York Support Services Network, the Newmarket and District Association for Community Living and the Georgina Association for Community Living asking that the minister involve herself directly to ensure that these funds are not cut.
The impact on the Newmarket association, for example, would be dramatic. The association would experience an 8% to 11% cut which would remove between $320,000 to $440,000 from its budget. This association provides services to some 283 individuals, employs some 157 staff and has a $4-million budget.
The bottom line is that there are no other options and people are going to suffer directly by this triministry cut. Their quality of life, self-esteem and sense of worth in the community will suffer severe damage.
Minister, on behalf of all those who will be directly affected, I ask you to review your ministry's priorities and restore the triministry funding.
INTERIM WASTE AUTHORITY SPENDING
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): I would like to bring to the attention of the House a waste of taxpayers' money that is currently going on within the region of Peel and specifically the town of Caledon. The Interim Waste Authority has been looking for a potential dump site to hold Peel's garbage only since June 3 and as of this date it has already spent some $5 million. Just so we can have some concept of how much money that is, that works out to the Interim Waste Authority spending more than $1 million a month to find a dump site in Peel.
I am not an audit accountant, but I've spent some time watching the Interim Waste Authority and over the last four months it has set up an office in Bolton, has manned phones to answer questions and concerns the public has regarding its selection process, and there are many, and has held a few public information sessions in order to try to educate the public on how its site-selection process works.
I can't imagine where the $5 million was spent, but of more concern to me is the fact that the general manager of the IWA said it would cost much more before a site is actually chosen.
How much more money are the taxpayers of Ontario going to be asked to contribute to a flawed process that doesn't seem to have any concern for the bottom line? There's a black hole of taxpayers' money and there seems to be no limit as to how much pain and frustration they are going to cause the residents of Caledon, where they hold their lives in limbo waiting for a decision on this issue.
EVENTS IN LINCOLN
Mr Ron Hansen (Lincoln): I rise today to inform the House of a four-day event in my riding of Lincoln that begins this Friday, October 9, and runs until Monday, October 12. The event is the Annual Thanksgiving Craft Show and Sale at Balls Falls Historical Park and Conservation Area in Jordan. The event is hosted by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority and will feature 120 talented exhibitors who will display and sell fine handcrafted items.
Besides the exhibits, visitors can stroll through one of the most beautiful parks in Ontario and experience the autumn colours while learning about the historical significance that the Niagara area played in shaping Ontario.
This is the 17th year for the festival, which started as a two-day event and has grown into a four-day event because of its popularity. At the first Thanksgiving Day festival, less than 1,000 people attended. Since that time it has grown into an annual event which attracts over 30,000 visitors from near and far.
As well, many of the people who travel to the Thanksgiving Day festival take the opportunity to visit many of the Niagara wineries that are located within a couple of miles of Balls Falls.
I encourage all members and their constituents to come down and enjoy some freshly pressed apple cider and a day they will not forget. I will be there with my family this weekend.
Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): Few actions so far have revealed more clearly Bob Rae's true agenda than his pernicious appointment of NDP campaign director David Agnew as head of Ontario's civil service. It shows all too painfully how far he and his government will go to have all Ontarians march to the tune of NDP doctrine.
Agnew's appointment is a shameless case of political interference and infiltration. It's unprecedented, at least in recent Canadian political history, and totally contrary to the proud standards of our non-partisan civil service. It's American political patronage at its worst.
So far the media have been quite mute in their criticisms of this outrageous act, but I will not let it pass unnoticed. At every opportunity during this session, inside this House and elsewhere, I will remind Ontarians how far Bob Rae's attempt has gone already to control our minds.
The name David Agnew will become synonymous with NDP thought control. It's a very bad omen indeed for this session and for the rest of Bob Rae's mandate that the Premier has chosen to politicize the civil service at the highest level.
Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): Last week I finally received a response from the Minister of Education to a letter I wrote 10 months ago about an episode on the TVOntario program Imprint.
The episode, called "Not Tonight, Dear, I Have a Book," which aired at 9:30 pm, concerned sex in contemporary literature. It included a reading of a passage which graphically depicted homosexual relations.
Ontarians trust TVO, our province's public educational broadcasting authority, to provide programming that is appropriate for family viewing. At 9:30, many young people are still watching television. A program with this content is not what parents want their children to view. I therefore wrote to the Minister of Culture and Communications, the Minister of Education and officials at TVO on behalf of persons who contacted me about this episode, which they found to be "unacceptable for unsolicited living room viewing."
While I received an adequate response from both TVO and the Minister of Culture and Communications, the Minister of Education would only say, "I trust that the rationale provided by TVOntario in its responses has addressed the concerns expressed by" the persons who contacted me.
I wrote to the Minister of Education because I wanted his views on this type of programming during prime time in our province's educational TV station. After 10 months, surely the minister could have addressed the issue, rather than providing me with this copout of a response.
Mr Kimble Sutherland (Oxford): Last Thursday evening, as I was driving back to my riding, I was listening to the CBC radio program As It Happens. I was appalled as I listened to a discussion about Delta Airlines' policy regarding its flight attendants' weight requirements. If a flight attendant is considered overweight for his or her height, they are subject to disciplinary action, including suspensions from their jobs.
A spokesperson for a group of Delta Airlines flight attendants, who are launching a class action suit against the airline, outlined the terrible impact this approach can have on people. In one situation a flight attendant, who had been a long-time employee for an airline Delta Airlines purchased, was given three months to lose 26 pounds. The flight attendant attempted to lose the weight through obsessive dieting and exercise. Only a few days before the weight-loss deadline, the woman suffered a heart attack.
A Delta Airlines spokesperson defended the policy by saying that flight attendants must be "professional." It's worth noting, though, that only flight attendants, not all Delta Airlines employees, are subject to this demeaning practice.
I find it reprehensible and abhorrent that in the 1990s companies, and particularly some airlines, still have such an outdated attitude towards people's appearance, and in particular, their weight. I encourage everyone in Ontario to find out if the airline they are booking a flight on has such discriminatory policies, and if they do, to boycott airlines with such a Neanderthal approach to employee relations.
LIONS CLUB OF MISSISSAUGA
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): In a bit of good news, I'd like to tell you about the Lions Club of Mississauga, District A-11, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the foundation of Lionism by presenting the play The Miracle Worker, in association with Mr Rick Torres and Canadian Spectrum, which is a multicultural television organization working out of Mississauga.
Performances of this play, based on the life of Helen Keller, are running from October 5 to 11 at the Meadowvale Theatre in Mississauga. It's particularly significant that it would be based on Helen Keller, since the Lions clubs in this country do an awful lot of work -- don't worry; I'm not worried if they're not listening.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Would the member take his seat for a moment. There are a number of private conversations in the chamber and it would be appreciated if we could have some quiet so the member recognized could have an opportunity to make his statement. I would ask the Clerk to reset the clock and the member is invited to begin over, if he wishes.
Mr Mahoney: That's good. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
The Lions Club in Mississauga -- as I was saying, the members may not be interested, but if they have Lions clubs in their communities I'm sure they would be, would like to know that the international president of Lions was here, was indeed in Mississauga at a presentation -- is celebrating its 75th anniversary of Lionism.
I happen to know from firsthand experience the tremendous work the Lions Club does with the sight-impaired. My mother actually is blind and the Lions Club has been helpful in helping her get out into the community whenever it could, and we really appreciate that kind of assistance and the great contribution it makes.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary, they are putting on and sponsoring the play The Miracle Worker, which is based, as I said before I was interrupted, on the life of Helen Keller, a life that obviously makes a great statement about folks who are sight-impaired.
On September 28 I had the honour of attending a reception with Mr Rohit Mehta, the international president of Lions clubs, who had come from India to Canada to help celebrate this very special anniversary.
I want to congratulate some of members, notably Mr Louis Lawrence, Sean Russel, Wayne Chambers, Don Stevely and Bob Emond, along with all members of the Mississauga Lions Club and indeed the international Lions throughout the world.
Mr Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): Members will know that former Metro Toronto Police Chief Jack Ackroyd passed away last week. On behalf of all members of my party I want to express sincere condolences to Jack's family, his wife Lyn, their five children and two grandchildren.
Jack Ackroyd served as Metro's police chief from 1980-84 before leaving to head the Liquor Control Board of Ontario for six years. Known affectionately as Kojak, Mr Ackroyd was known for instituting a new era of policing in Metro. Specifically, he introduced community-based policing in the 1970s and commanded the respect of not only his officers but the residents of Metro as well.
Jack Ackroyd was known for his humane approach and he established an open-door policy when he served as chief of police. He has been described as a giant among men and the greatest cop Metro ever had. Jack Ackroyd joined the Metro police as a cadet in 1941 and served his community in a distinguished career that spanned 43 years.
Jack Ackroyd set an example that continues to be the goal of Metro's men and women in blue. While he will be sadly missed by us all, there is comfort in knowing that his style and professional manner will be with us for many years to come.
Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): I rise in the House today to denounce the proposed pilot casino project in Windsor, Ontario. I'd like to make it very clear that, as I've said in the House before, I have strong commitment for most of the policies of my government but there are certain policies I believe that conscience dictates one must stand up against. There's no question that casino gambling is one of those.
I was sent many letters recently in my fight on casino gambling and I will read part of one that comes from a person in Windsor, Arlene Rousseau, who writes: "I am a New Democrat and stand in opposition to casino gambling. My opposition is based not on religion or morality, but one of great concern for this province and its future, as my children will have to live with the legacies that we leave behind."
There's no question in my mind that to continue in this direction is not only going to bring this province into disrepute, but we're going to have more and more social problems. Yes, we need tax revenue in the province, but we cannot accept that tax revenue if we don't see the social problems that will be accruing because of such a decision.
I think that this pilot project is the thin edge of the wedge. It's a way of beginning a movement in this province to establish more and greater casinos. We must not allow it to happen and I would ask members of all parties to agree with that.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Yesterday the honourable member for Leeds-Grenville, Mr Runciman, raised a point of order regarding the wearing of buttons expressing a particular political point of view in the House. In his argumentation he mentioned that it's our practice not to allow displays, and in the case at hand he alleged that the wearing of buttons could, through television coverage, influence the public in its decision.
I have considered these points seriously and, although I agree with the honourable member that it is our practice to discourage displays of any kind in the House, the wearing of buttons with a particular message is a difficult one for the Speaker to control. Members, I am sure, are aware of the proliferation of buttons in recent years expressing all kinds of opinions which, I am sure, all members are not always in agreement with.
The wearing of buttons has never been challenged in this House, and I might say that it has become an accepted practice. Therefore, although I am sympathetic to the point raised by the honourable member, there's not much I can do in this regard rather than add this consideration to the ones I have already referred to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly for its opinion.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): I regret to inform the House that a long-time officer of our House has resigned, and I know that members from all sides may wish to have a few words to say. With your indulgence, I would like to just offer a few comments and observations myself, and if others wish to have something to say I would be delighted to allow that opportunity.
Mr Smirle Forsyth has served this chamber with distinction for 14 years, if I could be permitted to refer to him as Smirle, because I think that's the name that all of us who knew him well knew him by.
Smirle is a person who has a very deep love of Parliament, of parliamentary democracy. Rarely have I ever seen a person so devoted to serving the House as a House of Assembly, with no particular consideration for any party but rather to the higher objective of a parliament.
Smirle always sought perfection in everything he did and he achieved it. He was a man who, while here, worked tirelessly, endlessly, always in the pursuit of the very best that this Parliament does.
Smirle, as many of us knew from work in committees, no matter what task it was that was given to him, no matter how close the deadline, would move heaven and earth to make sure that it was done. He would put in endless hours. I can tell you that if you were able to visit him at times when he wasn't feeling well, he still had his computer there and he made sure that the work that he felt he was assigned to do would get done whether he was able to be in this building or not.
I know that I speak on behalf of every member when I say that the assembly will miss Smirle. We hope to see him from time to time. We hope that he will be able to come and visit us on occasion, but I can tell you that I personally will miss the service that he has given so graciously, in such a dedicated way, for such a long period of time.
I think, finally, all of us who have known Smirle and worked with him feel that in Smirle we always had a friend -- a professional, but also a friend.
Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister of Economics): I would like to say a few words on behalf of the government and the government caucus.
Smirle, as you indicated, was here for almost 15 years, in which he served on numerous committees as clerk and then served specifically as the clerk for the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly. In the role of clerk of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, he really brought this place into the 1990s: television and interpretation, the language facilities that we now have. He played a major role in that in the kind of advice he provided and the kind of perspective he had on the importance of this place and the importance that we move with the times and be able to communicate with the province at large more than we had previously.
He also found time to serve full-time at the table, as we in this place call the main clerks' table here, to provide advice and support to the Clerk of the House and also to serve as the clerk of committees, which in my language is like the chief clerk around here, next to Mr DesRosiers.
Quite frankly, it took me a while to warm up to Smirle when he first came here, but I did indeed warm up to Smirle and grew not just to respect him -- everyone respected him; I grew to like him very much as well. He had a humour that was not always evident at first, but he had a humour that was both wit and humour. It could be sly, it could be clever and was invariably warm as well, so I grew to appreciate and like him very much.
As someone who chaired one of the standing committees for quite a while, I didn't always like the advice he gave me, but I always knew that it was objective and terribly professional. I certainly never challenged the advice he gave me because I knew it was based on objective reasoning and the best interests of the Legislative Assembly, its members and the public at large.
I know all of us are sad that he has felt he must resign from this place at this point. We understand that, but I do want Smirle to know that we will miss him very much and he will remain with great fondness in our memory.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): On behalf of the Liberal caucus, I guess in many ways as the Treasurer and you have said in a very warm personal way, Mr Speaker, I'd like to express our unhappiness with the fact that Smirle has felt that he must resign and acknowledge to him personally today our great sense of gratitude we owe to him for all of the guidance he gave us.
I too came in with -- I didn't come in with the Treasurer; my goodness, people think the Treasurer's been here long enough. I came in in 1981, just after Smirle really started to hit full stride. He came in in 1978, myself in 1981, and when I came into the standing committee on administration of justice I felt that I had someone to whom I could go who knew what was happening, because Smirle made it his business to understand what his job was here. That allowed the members, I think, to go about their business -- loosely described on some occasions -- in committee in a way which allowed us to feel we would be treated fairly.
Even in those days in 1981 and following, before the rising of the new democracy in 1985, we felt that the House itself really was conducted on the basis of very sound precedents, and the materials which Smirle generated for us to talk about in committee were things which were given, freely and without exception, to every member of this Legislative Assembly no matter what party the person served with.
Smirle, as the Treasurer said, had an interesting humour. You could never question his wit: a very brilliant man, a very studious individual who I think sometimes for that very reason might have been misunderstood on occasion. I have always found Smirle, however, to be extremely approachable. Like the Treasurer, I haven't always agreed with every piece of advice that has been offered, but after having gone through the materials Smirle went through, I found that perhaps my sort of intuition on things wasn't always backed up by the precedents of this particular House.
From time to time, of course, I think all the members here tend to forget what is written and hope to perhaps rewrite in just their own way, slightly, some of the materials on which the procedures of this place are based. That, quite frankly, is why having a person of Smirle's calibre and qualities is so important to our democratic institutions, because while the mind is somewhat feeble in its recollections of the word, it is nice to know that there are officers on a non-partisan basis who know exactly where to find the precedent, who know exactly how to communicate it for our edification and who know the word "patience" with a great boundlessness as they listen to us putting our arguments even in face of some of the very good, scholarly work that is done around our precedents.
That's one way of saying that perhaps we've been wrong from time to time as members when we confront the materials that are generated from the table, but to Smirle, on the occasions when you have been extremely right and we have been slightly off target, may I express my real thanks and pleasure for the fact that we knew you wouldn't bend, that you would ensure that if we were to change the way things were done we would change them by specific activity as opposed to a lazy easiness, if I can put it in those terms.
I started out, as I said, in 1981 in the standing committee on administration of justice, and spent a great deal of time there. In fact, in the early going the justice committee was full of all kinds of interesting things like implementing the roadside breathalyser, the RIDE program, Bills 179 and 111, which introduced the wage controls in those days. As you might well expect, there were some days when there were heated debates around those things. It was nice to know that when we lost our patience, Smirle was as steady and steadfast as ever.
In fact, this may be of interest to some of the members. While we can go out of committee from time to time if we get a little bored or carried away, generally the clerks who reside in those standing committees and even special committees, if not forced, at least feel some kind of moral obligation to hear the whole story so that they can keep us all in line when we make our summation speeches. That too is something Smirle did with a great deal of resoluteness.
I know how avid a fan Smirle is of the Legislative Assembly, of the whole idea of being able to come here to this chamber, this decision-making chamber, and putting arguments, good, bad or otherwise. As a result, I'm prepared, if Smirle drops us a line and says he wishes it, to actually bind all of my old committee speeches in my early days to send for him to read again. He heard them, but there is nothing like reading some of your original speeches to really get to understand what was being said or to understand that maybe you shouldn't have said nearly so much.
Smirle, as you might well know, Mr Speaker, never told us what to say, how to say it or when to say anything, but he was there to advise us on what had already been said if we asked. For that steadiness and for that very professional approach to his business, our caucus and myself in particular wish to extend Smirle a very large thank you. I think it only fitting that we set aside a few minutes of this chamber's business to tell Smirle the things that perhaps in the heat of the moment none of us thought were appropriate to approach him with. To Smirle, our best wishes always.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): As the House leader for our party, I would certainly like to rise and talk about Smirle Forsyth for a while. The first recollection I have of Smirle is when I was elected on March 19, 1981, and I was somewhat disturbed by the fact that the then Premier thought my level of competence would be Chairman of the standing committee on regulations and other statutory instruments. Perhaps he's a far smarter and more knowledgeable individual than I, and I'm sure there are many who would concur with his viewpoint to this day.
However, one of my first duties was to sit down with the clerk of the committee, who was Smirle Forsyth. We had this rather elderly, dignified counsel to the committee in those days named Duke MacTavish, and between the two of them, Duke MacTavish and Smirle Forsyth, they managed to teach me a little about procedure, tradition and the parliamentary way of life. We managed to reform that committee to include private bills and make it somewhat more stimulating than it was before, although that is very hard to do.
Some people who don't know him very well may regard Smirle Forsyth as being a rather dull individual, but I can assure you that Smirle was anything but dull. He was sometimes misunderstood, but certainly not dull. The Treasurer has alluded to some of the progress Smirle assisted in with respect to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, televised proceedings of this chamber and of committees, participating and assisting in bringing interpretation into committees and into the House, and reforms with respect to witnesses appearing before committees. He also served on the special committee on the parliamentary precinct. A lot of members here may not have much regard for that, but I think it displays the tradition and the feeling that Smirle has for this place.
I sought Smirle's advice, as I do other people at the clerks' table, and I think that all too often we take them for granted. It's a very difficult job. I often sought his advice and his counsel. He always gave me unbiased, objective, knowledgeable, loyal advice.
I think Smirle was loyal to the institution and parliamentary democracy as we know it in the province of Ontario today. I find it indeed unfortunate that Smirle has decided that he can no longer continue in his current capacity. I know that during the last period of time that he did serve in this chamber and in committee, he was not feeling well at all, but like the classy individual he is, Smirle did not let that fact be known to many or any of us by his own accord.
I also gained a new appreciation for Smirle as recently as the summer of 1991, when I attended the CPA conference in Victoria, British Columbia. I saw there how well regarded Smirle Forsyth was and in what high esteem he was held by his contemporaries across this country.
Sometimes we take people who are close to us for granted, and we assume that everybody in that capacity operates in the same classy, loyal, dignified manner. Smirle Forsyth is indeed one of the premier people with respect to his profession in this great country called Canada, and Smirle leaves his employ here in the same classy, dignified manner in which he performed his duties throughout his years.
Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): As assistant Deputy Chair, I'd also like to pay tribute to Smirle Forsyth today. Thomas Jefferson once said, "When a man assumes public trust, he should consider himself as public property." Although Jefferson was addressing his comments to those in elected office, he could have equally spoken them about individuals who commit their lives and talents to public service.
There is no finer tribute to offer Smirle Forsyth than the acknowledgement in this House that he assumed his public duties as Clerk Assistant of the House with commitment, insight and total devotion. He loves the institution which is Parliament, and he showed his passion for things parliamentary by virtually living in the Legislature. Many times, late at night when the House had long before risen, I witnessed Smirle leaving his office long after the members of Parliament and other staff people had gone home. Similarly, many mornings when I needed information pertaining to a particular matter in the House, I could call at 7:30 or 8 o'clock and be assured that he would be there to answer my inquiry.
Smirle's ever-helpful, non-partisan approach never wavered even in the midst of the most impetuous of debates. No matter how contentious the issue, no matter how difficult the person trying to get his or her own way on the given procedural matter, Smirle would discuss the point with care and precision.
I am reminded of Mark Twain's famous line: "Always do right. This will gratify some and astonish the rest." Smirle, on behalf of the gratified members of the government caucus, I want to thank you profoundly for your hard work and good example. In a very real way, this House will always be your house. We will all miss you. Best wishes to you from the government caucus.
Mr Gilles E. Morin (Carleton East): It is an honour for me to speak to you about a dear friend, a great coworker and a unique person. Smirle Forsyth is all of these to me and to the many who know him and have worked with him over the years. It is therefore with sadness and regret that I know Smirle will not be able to return to work.
I have known Smirle since 1985, when I was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. One of my earliest responsibilities was as Deputy Chair of the committee of the whole House. I was a novice. I had no experience and no knowledge of the procedures of the House. What an intimidating situation it was. Fortunately, there was Smirle. Smirle's patience and constant support gave me the confidence needed to do the job. Once a week, from 8 to 10 in the morning, we studied together the procedures of the House. He counselled me. His assistance went beyond the call of duty.
I want to recognize Smirle and, through him, the excellent work accomplished by the clerks at the table. Members of the public who watch the proceedings in the House may sometimes wonder, what do these individuals in ceremonial garb do? Basically, they are there to help the members of this House and the presiding officers.
When the Speaker rises and says, "Order," there are countless precedents, procedures and rules behind that single word. The clerks at the table are professionals. They know those precedents, procedures and rules. They are familiar with the protocol of the House. Their knowledge and advice is essential to the smooth running of the House. More importantly, they are neutral, non-partisan. They ensure the fairness and impartiality of the proceedings of the House. The respect for the House is based partly on this assumption of impartiality. So behind the word "Order" one finds a dedicated team, and Smirle was an effective member of the team.
I am a member of the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly, of which Smirle was once clerk. Smirle was meticulous, hardworking and always, always dependable. I know he spent hours preparing notes and reports. He fulfilled his professional obligations with much grace and goodwill.
Smirle has since become a good friend of my wife and myself. I very much regret that he can no longer work with us. I want him to rest assured that if it were up to us, we would have kept him on. Smirle, if you're listening, we're thinking of you. We will all miss you.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): Mr Speaker, it's hard to follow in the eloquence of all members of the House, including yourself, and the remarks that have been made in honour of one of those distinctive servants of the Legislature, Smirle Forsyth. I stand to share in this moment in which all of us -- in fact, isn't it something, how in this Legislature we can be drawn together, of one accord, with one voice, when it has to do with someone who has been such a dedicated servant to the Legislature, that we can drop our partisan things and realize the depth that is within the people who are at the table and within this precinct.
I too served with Smirle as Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chair of the committee of the whole House from 1981 to 1984 or so. The late-night sessions gave us a chance, as we'd sit around the table with Alex McFedries, who's still there, and Dave Callfas, who's no longer alive, and Rod Lewis, who was then the Clerk of the House. So things go on. We have a new Clerk and new people at the table, somehow carrying on a tradition of service to all members of the Legislature and the people of Ontario.
Smirle certainly epitomized the best of what we hold dear in having a group of people there dedicated to the public service for the best and for what is good in a non-partisan way. Smirle was one of those who has been duly and properly recognized for that gift of dedication that he gave so generously while he served in this House. I didn't know him in committee, as some did, but through our work at the table he was also one of my teachers, as previous speakers have testified.
Also, I saw Smirle in another light. I don't think many people get to the St Andrew's Ball on as regular a basis as I used to, but he could sure cut the old Scottish reel and had a good time as well in that part of his life.
I hope Smirle is listening this afternoon, and if not, that he has a chance to read the script and realize that seven MPPs have fully agreed on something. We've cut across all party lines. Smirle, you've helped make history again. I'm just delighted to share with all my comrades and colleagues here at Queen's Park my esteem and to share in the recognition of one whom God has given to us to make it a better world. May he enjoy his days and may he find health and happiness wherever possible.
Hon Karen Haslam (Minister of Culture and Communications): I would like to add my very brief comments. For a while, I was the assistant Deputy Speaker and had a chance to work with Smirle. I would like to throw a light on another aspect of Smirle, and that's how he worked with the pages in the pages program for the young people. He was very good with the young people, very patient with the young people. Not to reiterate and repeat anything that's said here, I would just like to add my own comments about how important it was to have that calibre of person to work with at the clerks' table. It certainly helped me in my position, as I know it helped all of us here in the House.
Mr Jean Poirier (Prescott and Russell): As you know, Mr Speaker, I was the Deputy Speaker of this Legislative Assembly and had the honour to serve from 1987 to 1990. Of course, all of us who have served in that position were very thankful, and still are, for the excellent help and consultation that we received from the officers of the table, but in this particular case, Smirle.
I've always thought of Smirle as the Rock of Gibraltar. I think that if at the time of Hurricane Andrew Smirle had been standing in Florida, he would have been the last person to be moved by Hurricane Andrew. When you were sitting in the Speaker's chair, no matter how delicate the debate became, you knew that, especially if there was only one table officer, if Smirle was there, you would pray the Lord that Smirle would look your way and give you a reassuring nod, a reassuring smile. And if you still looked bewildered -- that meant, "Smirle, come up to the chair; I need your help" -- you were most thankful when Smirle would come up to the chair and give you sound advice, like all table officers do.
I want to say thank you, Smirle. You've been a most precious friend and collaborator in helping us to understand this sometimes very difficult process and the often not easy task of chairing this humble and peaceful assembly. Therefore, we want to say thank you, Smirle, and j'apprécie immensément tes bons conseils et tes bons services, and may your sweet tooth serve you well.
Mr Robert V. Callahan (Brampton South): Just very briefly, there's been a lot said about Smirle. I count Smirle among my friends in this place. I wanted to tell the members of the Legislature that a short time ago, we circulated a rather large card throughout the Legislature. I received a note from Smirle. In his usual fashion, he said it took him quite a while to read it and to decipher the names, and he wanted through that letter to express his thanks to each and every member of the Legislature, each and every member of staff, people at the table, for thinking kindly of him and taking time out to sign their names to that card.
Smirle is a rather remarkable person, as I think has been said. I have, since 1985, chaired probably every committee in this House, and I have to relate to the leader of the third party's problem. I was asked to chair regulations and private bills, I think it was called, and I remember, after I'd been told that I was going to do that, the Premier of the day, Premier Peterson, saying, "Well, your legal background will help you." I said, "Well, what is it?" He said, "I don't know." I asked a number of other people, and nobody seemed to know what that committee did.
Then I asked Smirle, and Smirle did know. So I have to thank him for that. I might still be wandering around the darkened halls of Queen's Park, trying to figure out where the statutory instruments or the private bills and regulations were, and a lot of those people would never have had their corporations revived and they'd still be resting peacefully.
I want to thank Smirle for that, and I think each and every member of this Legislature certainly wishes Smirle well. He'll be remembered every day by us in each and every way each of us remembers him, and we wish him Godspeed.
The Speaker: I want to thank all the honourable members who spoke about Smirle and to tell you that both a printed and an electronic copy of Hansard from today will be sent to Smirle, though I hesitate to send all the speeches of the honourable member for Bruce, but certainly today's remarks will be sent along.
Later this month, the Governor General of Canada will be visiting our building and presenting to us our own coat of arms. We will be the first Legislature in Canada to receive our very own coat of arms. The inspiration for this comes from Smirle. Smirle is the person who did all the background work and has made it possible that the Ontario Legislature will be the first assembly in Canada to receive its own coat of arms, a very fitting tribute to a most extraordinary servant of the House.
STATEMENTS BY THE MINISTRY AND RESPONSES
Hon Marilyn Churley (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): Since the 1992 Ontario budget, members on all sides of this House have expressed interest in possible casino locations. I rise today to inform members that our government will be moving ahead on an initial casino project located in the Windsor area.
This pilot project approach demonstrates our government's commitment to proceed carefully and responsibly on the introduction of casinos in Ontario.
Our goals in launching the Windsor casino pilot project are straightforward: to create jobs, stimulate the tourism and hospitality industries, and provide much-needed assistance to the largest border community in the province.
Windsor's proximity to an enormous US market can draw new dollars into Ontario, while at the same time creating new job opportunities and stimulating local economic development.
By starting with a single pilot project, we can make sure that the most effective regulatory and law enforcement systems are put in place, and we can develop a made-in-Ontario working model that other communities can watch and learn from.
We will be working closely with Windsor area municipalities to finalize the best approach and structure for the casino pilot project. After consultation with Windsor area communities, we will determine how the casino will be owned and operated. Once the structural and operational details have been worked out, we will begin the process of selecting a specific site for the Windsor area casino.
I know that some Ontario communities will be disappointed that they were not selected for the pilot project. Once the Windsor area casino is up and running, we will review and evaluate its operation. If there is community support for casinos in other areas of the province, we can then look at expanding the number of casino locations. As I've stated before --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Will the minister take her seat.
The Speaker: Minister.
Hon Ms Churley: As I've stated before, any casino location must have the support, by written resolution, of the local municipality. Members of the community must have opportunities to express their support and their concerns through their municipal council.
In addition to moving forward in the Windsor area, we are also continuing our discussions with the native communities as to the possible development of native gaming operations. Our government recognizes that a number of first nations are interested in gaming as a source of revenue for community economic development.
In addition, we will continue our consultations with representatives from the horse racing industry, charitable organizations and law enforcement officials both in Windsor and across the province.
Hon Ms Churley: I expect to be introducing casino legislation -- I'm almost finished.
The Speaker: Will the minister take her seat, please.
The Speaker: Minister.
Hon Ms Churley: I expect to be introducing casino legislation in this session of the Legislature and hope that the Windsor area casino will be operating as early as next year.
The Speaker: Statements by ministers? Responses. The member for Lawrence.
Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I think --
The Speaker: The member for Lawrence.
Mr Cordiano: Today's announcement is obviously not a surprise to anyone. But I think it's important to note that what is sad and regrettable is the fact that this government has brought forward this initiative as a major one to provide economic stimulus for a hard-hit part of the province, as many other border communities are.
The Speaker: The member for Etobicoke West, come to order.
Mr Cordiano: I think it's rather regrettable that the only thing this government has to offer to those communities is something like casino gambling, the prospect of increased revenues and economic spinoff, and I say this isn't at all certain either. The minister's announcement today is probably surprising in this regard, with respect to what's missing from her statement.
I think it's appropriate to say at this time, Minister, that you have not conducted a proper consultation process. You said on many occasions that you would take things slowly and not rush into this decision. I think it's appropriate to also note that you have not done as extensive a consultation process as I would have liked to have seen.
You announced the pilot project in Windsor without having answered the questions we're so interested in: for example, the impact of casino gambling on local communities with respect to social ills; the impact on the economy -- we don't know what positive or negative results there are going to be from this: the impact on charitable organizations, the impact on the horse racing industries, will this have a positive benefit for tourism?
Madam Minister, I asked you these questions many times in this House. I asked that you bring impact studies forward. Quite frankly, I haven't seen those. Perhaps you've conducted those studies, but you haven't shared them with this House.
You mentioned in the press conference that you had no idea how much revenue this casino will generate. But can you answer this? Do you know how much you intend to spend to get it up and running, do you know how much you'll need to spend in order to create crime-free casinos and will your casinos generate enough revenue to cover all the costs associated with introducing them?
I've asked, as I said, on many occasions for information that the casino project team working on this has in its possession and what kind of consultation process it has conducted. I asked you in a private meeting on one occasion to bring that information forward so that all of us could see and share it with you. I think it's important to note that as of the present time we have not seen enough information to be able to determine whether the pilot project will be successful.
Also, I ask the minister, if she intends to introduce legislation this fall, then why has she announced a pilot project that won't commence till next year? What kind of legislation that she announced today is she going to bring in later on this session? What kind of legislation is she going to bring in if she's going to wait to see what happens in the pilot project? Do you know what the pilot project is going to indicate in terms of what's good for legislation to be brought forward?
How can you possibly draft legislation, bring that forward in the fall and then announce that you're going to have a pilot project to see the results of the pilot project, the impact that it has, and then do what with it? Are you going to change the legislation at a later date? Are you going to deal with the legislation on a piecemeal basis and stretch it out through next year when the results of the pilot project will be in your possession? I think the minister has to answer that question.
Quite frankly, if this is a job creation program, as the minister indicated in her press conference, if the pilot project should fail, then what happens after that? Will you close down the casino? Will Windsor be at a loss? Will Windsor lose out on casinos and will the rest of the localities that desire casino gambling be cut off? What impact will that have on job creation? If this is a job creation program and this is only a pilot project that you're experimenting with, what if the results of this experiment fail? Are you going to close the casinos down? That's a legitimate question that needs to be asked. You haven't indicated that.
There are very few details in this announcement. I'm looking forward to hearing additional details from the minister.
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The member for Lawrence has indicated that he's not surprised at this announcement today. I must say that we on this side are rather surprised, particularly when we have a minister who, when she was a member of Toronto council, voted against this process.
Mr Tilson: You did. You voted against having gambling casinos at the CNE and you know you did. Furthermore, we have a government that in the past, prior to getting elected, said it was against lotteries, it was against gambling. But now we're going into it full-fledged. We're going to have everything. We're going to have fun. Both the Treasurer and the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations have said that they're going to have fun.
I must say that it's rather surprising to me that this position is going to be taken. We're going to have a gambling casino somewhere in Windsor. We don't know where, but it's going to be somewhere in Windsor, and we're going to move very slowly. Madam Minister, there's no question that you don't want it. Obviously, from your press conference, you have no idea what the heck you're doing over there with respect to this policy.
Yet the Treasurer, of course, has told you that we're going to have gambling casinos. You've now taken the "s" off; you're going to have a gambling casino somewhere in Windsor, but you're not sure. You're not sure whether you're going to have liquor licences in these places. You really don't know too much about that. You don't know about law enforcement. You don't know what sort of law enforcement you're going to need in these places, notwithstanding the statements that have been made by law enforcement officers around this province expressing grave concern about the criminal element that's going to be moving into this province because of your policy. But you don't know that.
You don't have any projections; you don't have any impact studies done. You don't know exactly what you're doing or what has been done in the past. You haven't made any study about this whatsoever. You don't know whether it's going to be public, private or public and private. You don't know; you're simply plowing ahead. You're not sure about tourism. You're not sure about the jobs.
"We're going to have it anyway. We're not sure about these things. We're not sure about generating revenue. We think it's going to give us revenue, but we're not sure. We don't have any studies as to the type of revenue it's going to give us or indeed it may cost us because of the lost jobs and the increased policing that's going to be required."
It may cost us more than it's going to give us. You've ignored the fact of what's happened in Manitoba. You've ignored that a gambling casino was put in Winnipeg for the purposes of raising revenue there, and what happened? Some 500 jobs were lost immediately in the racing business.
You have absolutely nothing to say in this House, and that's another matter, Minister. You come to this House after the member for Victoria-Haliburton has made a statement voicing his objections, and obviously there are a number of people applauding over in this section. I understand the House leader is making a simultaneous report in Windsor, and then you come to this House to make your announcement. What a preposterous and strange way of doing things.
But you have nothing to say about the need for more addiction treatment centres. Your party has talked about this over and over. You're plowing ahead with the process, but you have no plans for additional addiction treatment centres. You have nothing to say about the $2.2-billion horse racing industry and its 50,000 jobs that will be killed off by casinos. That's what's been estimated. You have nothing to say about the threat casinos pose to charitable organizations which now use gaming to raise funds for their charities. You have nothing to say about that.
You have nothing to say about the lost sales tax revenues, should people spend more and more of their money on gambling and less and less on other goods and services. You have nothing to say about that. You have no impact studies to talk about that. You have nothing to say about the potential losses, through corruption and fraud, due to inexperienced or insufficient regulatory personnel within the gambling casinos themselves. You have nothing to say about that, absolutely nothing, in your statement in the press conference today or in this House.
You have nothing to say about the escalating law enforcement costs which could accompany these gambling houses. That's been said over and over, but you've had nothing to say about it. You say: "It's a test project and we're going to talk about it. We're looking for consultation."
You have nothing to say about the fact that the Attorney General has written a very detailed report telling you, "Don't do it." He has said that virtually every study undertaken in the United States, Britain, Australia and elsewhere points out that gambling casinos, whether legal or illegal, encourage criminal activity. He has told you that if a jurisdiction is not willing to accept this involvement, then it should not get into legalized gambling. You've ignored those statements.
You've told us nothing. You say: "We'll roll the dice and we'll pick Windsor. Then the woes of Ontario will turn around. Then the financial woes will turn around." You have said: "Let's move more slowly. Let's roll the dice more slowly." What a strange way of doing it. You should shelve this operation and you should do an extensive study and can it until you know what you're doing.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): On a brief point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to move for unanimous consent for the member for Victoria-Haliburton to respond to the announcement.
The Speaker: Order. Is there unanimous consent? No, there is not.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): Mr Speaker, I'd like to rise on a point of privilege which I have given you notice of earlier today. To paraphrase Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by members without which they could not discharge their functions and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals. This, of course, echoes Erskine May's interpretation of "privilege."
Mr Speaker, I would like you to allow me to outline the details of what I consider to be a breach of my privilege as a member of this assembly.
In the course of my duties and responsibilities as a member of this assembly representing my constituents, I occasionally file requests under the freedom of information act. I have received numerous bills for this service, including one for $820, another for $1,400 and yet another for $2,600.
Paying these costs takes away the funds available to me as a member of this Legislature to serve my constituents and thus limits me from filing information which I believe is necessary to me, as Beauchesne's puts it, "to discharge my function" as a member of this House.
I believe that as members of this Legislature we should be allowed the freedom to make requests of this government in the course of carrying out our duties as elected representatives without being monetarily charged for this request.
I believe the current practices of this government, as legislated by the former Liberal government, impede my ability to carry out my job and responsibility as a member of the Legislative Assembly to represent and serve the best interests of the people of Ontario. Therefore, Mr Speaker, I would ask that you consider whether or not I have a prima facie case for privilege in this matter.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the honourable member for Dufferin-Peel, while I will be pleased to consider the matter you've brought to my attention, if I'm not mistaken, the fees to which the member refers are provided for within the legislation itself and the members of the House do not enjoy a special privilege not enjoyed by any other member of the province of Ontario. None the less, I'm pleased to take a look at what you've raised. As is the member's practice, he has raised it in an exemplary fashion and I always appreciate his approach to points of order and privilege.
ONTARIO HYDRO PRESIDENT
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My first question is for the Minister of Energy. Minister, last week in this House you said you did not have any input to the board regarding the departure of the Hydro president, Mr Alan Holt, from Hydro. You also said that you found out about his departure in a press release dated September 30.
It is now apparent that you had discussions with Marc Eliesen about selecting a new president. This was confirmed in a letter to Marc Eliesen dated September 16, a full week before the board meeting on September 25. Minister, in light of these facts, how can you say that you knew nothing about Mr Holt's departure and that you had no influence whatsoever on the board's decision?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Minister of Energy): There are a number of issues that the Leader of the Opposition has raised in her question and they need to be dealt with seriously and straightforwardly. I was asked last week whether I had directed the departure of Mr Holt; my response was no.
The letter which I tabled with the Clerk of this House and which I made available to the opposition and the press yesterday raised a number of issues with the chair of Ontario Hydro as a result of conversations I'd had in September with the chair of Ontario Hydro around transition, around successor issues and specifically around knowledge that they intended to discuss at the board the position of president and a number of other management issues.
I wrote to the chairman of Hydro suggesting to him that in my view it was important that if there was going to be a new president, in fact the new chair of Hydro, if and when he or she has been appointed, be part of discussions, along with the board of Hydro, around that issue. That's what I wrote to the chair about. The decision of the board to deal with the president's position was a decision of the board.
Mrs McLeod: Mr Minister, you said last week that you had no input whatsoever to the board's decision. Minister, in that letter of September 16 you explicitly discuss the appointment of a new president. On September 16, to the best of anybody else's knowledge, Ontario Hydro had a president; it was not looking for a new one. Your letter went on to direct the board to deal with these issues as quickly as possible.
The letter you wrote was referred to the board meeting of September 25 and your own deputy minister attended that board meeting. Minister, even if you were not physically present at the meeting, you surely cannot deny that your influence was being represented through your letter, through your appointed chairman of the board and through your deputy minister. It is absolutely inconceivable that neither your appointed chair nor your own deputy minister failed to inform you of the outcome of that meeting. How can you say you knew nothing of Mr Holt's departure and had no influence in that board's decision?
Hon Mr Charlton: I guess the easiest way to address this question from the Leader of the Opposition is to say that her assumption yesterday about what the outcome of that meeting was was incorrect.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): Tell the truth.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Would the minister take his seat for a moment. Members will recall that it is not possible to do something indirectly that is forbidden directly. Asking for a member to tell the truth is suggesting that a member of the House is not telling the truth. I would ask the members to just exercise a bit of caution and restraint with respect to the language that is used. Allow the minister an opportunity to respond to your question. Minister.
Hon Mr Charlton: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition's question is based on her assumption from yesterday and perhaps I'll just read it to you: "Signed by you, directing them to ensure that Mr Holt would leave Ontario Hydro? How do you explain that the Hydro board voted 7 to 5 to fire Mr Holt?" There was no such motion at the board, to the best of my knowledge. Mr Holt has not been fired and the assumption that the Leader of the Opposition has made is an erroneous assumption.
The Speaker: Final supplementary?
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I've spent a great deal of time reviewing this matter very carefully. I have checked Hansard and the news clippings. I've spoken with many people, I have listened to the minister here today and I want to lay down the facts for all to know.
On September 16 the minister wrote a letter to Marc Eliesen. In that letter he indicated that there was going to be the selection of a new president in a timely way by the board.
On September 25 Hydro's board of directors met. A resolution was put forward at that meeting requiring that Mr Holt be suspended immediately, notwithstanding that at the time he was in Spain. In a debate that ensued, the minister's letter was used in support of that resolution. The resolution was passed. The deputy minister was present and oversaw all of this.
On September 30, in this Legislature, the minister said he had no input to the board regarding Mr Holt's departure. In addition, outside the House on that same day, the minister said Mr Holt had retired voluntarily and was not fired.
With much regret and a great sense of loss for all members on all sides of this House and for the people of this province, I have to conclude that this minister has deliberately -- not inadvertently, but deliberately -- misled this House.
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat. The member knows that he must withdraw those remarks.
Mr McGuinty: Mr Speaker, I can appreciate full well that you must enforce the rules of this House, but I feel duty-bound to speak the truth, no matter how distasteful it may be. But out of respect for your office, Mr Speaker, and for the rules of this House, I will withdraw my statement.
My question for the minister is, will you now do the honourable thing and resign?
Hon Mr Charlton: I'm in fact pleased that the member noted in his diatribe that my letter in fact had been used in the discussion at the board. Perhaps the House would be interested and all the members of the House would be interested in knowing what it is that this minister said to the chair of Hydro.
"I'm writing to follow up our discussion about the search for your successor and the transition. As minister responsible for Ontario Hydro, I believe that it is extremely important that the new chair and the chief executive officer have the opportunity to work with the Ontario Hydro board of directors to select a new president and chief operating officer."
That was written in the context --
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Charlton: That was written in the context of the full knowledge that the president's position was going to be discussed in succession matters.
The Speaker: Minister.
Hon Mr Charlton: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That part of the letter was written in the full understanding, from my discussions with the chair of Ontario Hydro, that the president's position was going to be discussed, along with other succession issues.
The letter went on to say, this letter that was used in this debate around this position, "In accordance with section 6 of the Power Corporation Act, it is the responsibility and the authority of the board of directors to appoint the president of the utility, exclusively its responsibility." That's the advice I provided to the board.
The Speaker: New question.
Mrs McLeod: Mr Speaker, it's quite clear that this issue is a question for the Premier, it's a question of the Premier's standards of behaviour for his cabinet ministers. In the absence of the Premier, we will have to defer further questions on this issue until the Premier is back in this House.
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): In the absence of the Premier and therefore in our inability to continue with this issue today, I will ask my second question of the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.
In responding to the minister's statement earlier today, our critic said we were not surprised that the statement had come. The reason that we weren't surprised was because we knew it was coming and today we've seen it: the Bob Rae government turning to gambling as a way of solving Ontario's financial problems.
Instead of taking the steps that we keep urging this government to deal with the economic problems that this province has, it seems that Bob Rae and his government are relying on a roll of the dice to grab the desperately needed revenues.
I would ask the minister, how can you and how can your Premier justify using casino economics as some kind of pathetic substitute for responsible financial management? Is gambling the only solution that you're going to offer the people of Ontario in these tough economic times?
Hon Marilyn Churley (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): When the issue of casino gambling was announced in the budget, it was made clear at that time -- and I have made it clear myself, and so has the Treasurer when asked -- that in fact casino gambling is but a very small piece of the economic agenda. Of course it isn't the answer to all of the problems. What a ridiculous suggestion.
The issue is that some border communities came to the government and are looking at all kinds of pieces of an economic agenda to try to help them in these very difficult times. This government responded, and since the budget we have been working out and talking to people about the best approach and the best way to start such a project or projects in Ontario.
Of course it's not the answer to their problems. We all know that with the GST and free trade and the global recession it's not going to solve all the problems, but ask people in Windsor today. It sure is going to help them.
Mrs McLeod: Minister, of course we remember the budget. We remember a $150-million desperate attempt on the part of the Treasurer to solve a $10-billion deficit problem, and we asked then: What kinds of studies has your government done, what kind of studies have you done, on the social and economic impacts of the proposals to establish casinos right across this province?
So, Minister, I would ask you again today, and let me be very specific: I would expect that you are aware of the experiences in other jurisdictions which clearly indicate that casinos can attract crime. Michael Pollock, of New Jersey's Casino Control Commission, is quoted as saying, "You're going to see an increase in everything -- panhandling, pickpockets, murders, everything." In fact, Minister, in the three years following the opening of Atlantic City's first casino, calls for police help increased by 2,000%.
Minister, I ask you: Have you weighed these concerns at all in your decision to proceed? Does your government believe that the potential for increased violence, assault and crime in our communities would be justified by casino revenues?
Hon Ms Churley: The Leader of the Opposition I think refers to a story and a statement that was made when there was speculation out there that there could be five or six casinos. In fact my announcement today that what we're looking at is a pilot project I think will make law enforcers happy, because the advice we listened to, to move slowly and carefully, to make sure --
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): We know full well that the bad people don't bother with pilot projects. It's a pilot project.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order, member for Etobicoke West.
Hon Ms Churley: If you want to hear the answer, I'm happy to give it. Otherwise you can speak to me later.
The reason why we are announcing a pilot project is for precisely those reasons. We are listening to people. We are listening to the police. We know that we can have a crime-free casino, and we're going to make every effort to make sure that's what happens. The very fact that we're starting with one, in a controlled and careful way, indicates that that's exactly what we are concerned about and will be moving carefully to make sure that doesn't happen.
Mrs McLeod: Minister, I seem to recall the Treasurer putting $150 million into his budget based on the six casinos you were going to set up for him. Has the Treasurer now changed his budget estimates? You now expect us to believe that you have no other casino proposals up your sleeve, Minister, but we're still afraid that you may rush headlong into something that could in fact change the face of this province for ever without really looking at the consequences of what you're doing.
Minister, our concerns are heightened by the kind of comments we read in the background statement which you put out with your announcement today. One of the background statements is that, "Nevada is an example of one jurisdiction that built its economy around gaming."
Minister, will you assure this House that Ontario is not about to build its economy around gaming, that this casino in Windsor is really a pilot project, that you will put all other casino plans on hold until you've had an opportunity to fully study the potential economic and social consequences?
Hon Ms Churley: The answer to that is very simple. If she had read the full package that went out today and had listened to my statement in the House today, that is precisely what I said. Let me reiterate, for the member's comfort level, that we have announced today that we are going to begin consulting with people from the Windsor area to start a pilot project in that area and that no other proposals will be looked at until that casino is up and running and an evaluation is done. That is precisely what we're telling you today and telling the people of Ontario.
ONTARIO HYDRO PRESIDENT
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): My question is for the Minister of Energy. Once again I want to ask, did you not tell me on September 30, as quoted in Hansard, that you had no input whatsoever into the dismissal of Mr Holt? You did not at any time, relative to that question, indicate that you had had not only verbal communication but written communication with the chairman of the board. Remember, the chairman of the board is Marc Eliesen. He's not only chairman of Hydro; he's chairman of that board.
I ask you again: In your letter, in the paragraph you just read, Mr Minister, you say "to select a new president and chief operating officer." Is that not the job Mr Holt was holding at the time? You don't realize --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Will the member conclude his question, please.
Mr Jordan: You're dealing here, first of all, with a high executive office which is already filled, and you are putting in writing to the chairman of the board that that office is vacant. Then you go on to say, "I am therefore requesting that you raise this issue with the board and ask them to resolve this in a timely way."
The Speaker: Will the member please conclude his question.
Mr Jordan: What position was open at the time you wrote this letter?
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Minister of Energy): The member raised a number of issues in his preamble, and his question was, what position was vacant at the time I wrote the letter? There was none. As I've explained a number of times, I had discussions with the chair of Ontario Hydro in September, discussions which made me aware that the board of Hydro would be having discussions around succession issues, including the president's position.
I wrote to the board, Mr Speaker, in the letter which has been tabled with your clerk, suggesting to the board of Hydro that it was important that the new chair of Hydro be part of the board in terms of any consultation around a new president. In his question, the member raised yet again, as he's done several times in this House, incorrect material about the dismissal of Mr Holt. No such event has occurred.
Mr Jordan: The minister says no such dismissal has occurred, that Mr Holt still has his position. Well, he doesn't. You just told us that no such dismissal has occurred. Our information is that Mr Holt has been fired by your board of directors under the chairmanship of Marc Eliesen, and you're trying to tell me that you had no input into it. You say, "This minister and this government have not directed any of those actions." This letter completely contradicts that statement, and you lied to me that day.
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please.
The Speaker: I ask the House to come to order. The member for Lanark-Renfrew knows that he has made an unparliamentary remark. I ask the member for Lanark-Renfrew to withdraw the remark.
Mr Jordan: Mr Speaker, I was elected on the basis of honesty, integrity and accountability. You were asked yesterday, Mr Speaker, to assess these two documents --
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat. The honourable member knows that no member of the House may accuse another member of lying. I ask the honourable member simply to withdraw his remark.
Mr Jordan: But, Mr Speaker, please, do you agree that these two documents are contradictory?
The Speaker: I ask the member if he will withdraw the unparliamentary remark he made.
Mr Jordan: I can't withdraw the remark, because the remark is based on --
The Speaker: Would the member take his seat, please.
The Speaker: Order. If it is of any assistance to the member, what is at question here is not the veracity of statements but rather language --
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): Sure it is. Integrity of the whole House.
The Speaker: Order. I ask the House to come to order. The honourable member is being asked to withdraw a statement which is unparliamentary. In withdrawing such a statement, he does not make any comment on the veracity of the statement but simply is adhering to the parliamentary principle that all members are honourable and no member will accuse another member of lying in the House. I ask the member, now that he's had an opportunity to reflect, would he please withdraw his statement.
Mr Jordan: Mr Speaker, I understand your point that by parliamentary procedure I should withdraw the remark, but I have a conscience too and I have to live with it. I have two contradictory documents in my hand and I cannot withdraw the statement.
The Speaker: To the honourable member for Lanark-Renfrew: I regret that he is unable to subscribe to the parliamentary language which we must insist upon in this chamber. The member leaves the Speaker with no option but to name him. Mr Jordan, you are named and I ask that you withdraw yourself from the House and its committees for the balance of this sitting day. Would the member voluntarily leave the chamber.
Mr Jordan left the chamber.
The Speaker: New question, the leader of the third party.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): Final supplementary, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: Sorry. The practice in this chamber is that the question had belonged to the member for Lanark-Renfrew; he is no longer to be with us for the balance of the afternoon, thus the question itself has been killed. The third party is entitled to its second leadoff question, and I invite any member of the third party.
Mr Ernie L. Eves (Parry Sound): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: How do you know, sir, with all due respect to you, that the member for Nipissing wasn't going to ask the second supplementary to start with? As far as I know, there's no rule in this House that says that the same member who asked the question has to ask any supplementary. If there is, show it to me in the rules and I'll be glad to accept the fact that I'm wrong.
The Speaker: My understanding is that the practice is that because the member who had the question was ejected from the chamber, he has in fact forfeited the opportunity for him or any other member of his caucus to ask a question. It's not a rule in the standing orders, but it is indeed the practice of this House.
Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): Mr Speaker, I think if you read the standing orders you will see that the official opposition and the third party are each given these questions during question period time. They are not owned by any one member of either of those two parties. They are owned by each of those parties, and as long as one of the members of those parties wants to take any part in any one of those questions, he or she is entitled to do that. That has been the practice here on a number of occasions. We have even seen it today where one member led with one part of the question and another member followed. The point is that within the standing rules the questions are owned by the parties and not by the individual members.
The Speaker: The member for Carleton pursues a very logical response. With respect to the clock, I will do two things: (1) I will review this matter and (2) allow a supplementary with the understanding that we are not setting a precedent. I require some time to take a look at this. In the meantime, I will allow a final supplementary to any member of the third party. I believe the leader would like to have such supplementary.
Mr Harris: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. By way of final supplementary to the Minister of Energy, Minister, we have just heard from one of the most honourable members I've had the privilege of knowing, the member for Lanark-Renfrew. Fulfilling his mandate to carry out his role as your critic, critic of the Minister of Energy, minister responsible for Ontario Hydro, he asked you on September 30: "My question to the minister is, did your ministry give any direction? Did you have any input to the board regarding Mr Holt leaving the corporation at this time?" This was on September 30. You responded, "The answer to the question is, very simply, no."
Mr Minister, how do you rationalize that answer you gave on September 30 with the copy of the letter dated just about two weeks before that, September 16, directing the Hydro board and the chairman to take into consideration certain matters with regard to the hiring of a new president and chief operating officer? How can the member for Lanark-Renfrew fulfil his responsibilities if you give that kind of answer on September 30 when you're clearly on the record on September 16 having an influence, having an input by way of letter to the board?
The Speaker: Would the member conclude his supplementary, please.
Mr Harris: That's my simple question. How can the minister do his job if you're going to act this way?
Hon Mr Charlton: My answer is just as simple. My letter in no way directs the board of Ontario Hydro to do anything.
The Speaker: New question, the leader of the third party.
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: This House stands in recess for 10 minutes.
The House recessed at 1516 and resumed at 1526.
The Speaker: Minister?
Hon Mr Charlton: I think, Mr Speaker, I had concluded my response to the leader of the third party.
The Speaker: Supplementary?
Mr Harris: Mr Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity for a supplementary, but I believe it's now time to move on to a new question, so I'll move on to my second question.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): My question is to the Treasurer, the Deputy Premier, in the absence of the Premier particularly.
Mr Treasurer, we are losing over 500 jobs a day for every day that you don't have a plan to put Ontario back to work. I'd like to quote, Mr Treasurer, from your throne speech last spring. "Doing our part to build a stronger economy," you said, "is the first priority of this government."
Treasurer, I have here a copy of an NDP caucus memo outlining the 18 priority items for this fall session. Not one of these 18 priority items of "must have" deals with the one thing that people need most: a job. Treasurer, is this list of 18 priorities that is your priority for this fall session your idea of an economic plan? Secondly, how do you jibe this with your commitment that the first priority of your government is to build a stronger economy?
Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister of Economics): I do appreciate the question from the leader of the third party. I don't have the list in front of me that the leader of the third party does, obviously, but I can assure him that in the budget, we indicated that there were three priorities of the budget for this fiscal year. The first one was job creation and the protection of existing jobs, the second one was the preservation of essential services in this province, and the third one was keeping the deficit in check at a time of the worst recession since the 1930s. Those were our priorities in the budget and those remain our priorities today.
Mr Harris: The 18 priorities in the document that came from the Cabinet Office to the caucus executive indicated the 18 priorities, and some of them I can give you. This is your document, not mine. Some of them I can tell you, what you thought were the important ones.
Casinos: Well, we saw today how little you actually know about casinos, whether they'll generate any net jobs or not, or any revenue or not, or whether the money will stay in Windsor or come to Toronto to Queen's Park.
Another priority here on your agenda is false security alarms. That's a real job creator, Mr Treasurer. Another one is an important "must have" before Christmas: political activity rights. I suppose, Treasurer, that will maybe create some jobs for NDP hacks.
I suggest to you that it doesn't jibe with what you said your first priority was: the economy. Treasurer, if someone can't feed his family, he doesn't care about 90% of what's on your priority list for this fall session. I ask you if you could point to a single thing on your list of legislative priorities, the reason we are here and here till Christmas, that will put someone in Ontario back to work.
Hon Mr Laughren: First of all, the leader of the third party has been in this place long enough to know that there's a difference between what's on the order paper for a legislative session and what the priorities for a government are as we move through our first mandate.
I shouldn't have to, but I will remind the leader of the third party that still ongoing, day to day in this province, is a major commitment through our Jobs Ontario funds: the Jobs Ontario Capital, the Jobs Ontario Homes. We created almost 9,000 jobs for youth this summer with an additional injection of money for youth in the province. We created, through Futures, 27,000 jobs for youth in 1992-93 with a budget of about $100 million.
I could go on and on and on. The point is that these major --
Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey): Go on and on and on. It's a joke.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order, the member for Grey.
Hon Mr Laughren: I don't need a lecture from a Conservative anywhere in this country on how to create jobs, because that party has destroyed more jobs than any other party in this country.
The Speaker: Order. Final supplementary.
Mr Harris: I refer the Treasurer back to the throne speech. The throne speech lays out the legislative priority. It says, "This is what our government's priorities are." It's in the Legislature, and it's the legislative priorities. It says that the first priority of this government is to build a stronger economy.
Mr Treasurer, other than creating work for Ben Silverberg -- Ben Silverberg is the entrepreneur who gives lie detector tests -- I want to know how your legislative priority jibes with the first priority of creating jobs.
Since you mentioned Progressive Conservatives, how does it jibe with Leslie Frost, with George Drew? How does it jibe with Bill Davis? How does it jibe with builders we had in this province for 42 years, who created jobs, created economic opportunity, created prosperity? And now in two years you have killed and destroyed more jobs than were created in that period of time. Treasurer, how does your economic agenda jibe with what should be your first priority?
Hon Mr Laughren: I'll try to be calm and reasoned, because I don't want to tease the bears over there again, but --
The Speaker: Order.
The Speaker: I would ask members on both sides of the House to attempt to exercise some restraint so that we don't have to have another recess.
Hon Mr Laughren: I will try and give a non-provocative answer, but it is difficult sometimes when the third party has such an opposition mindset that it will not step back and see that a lot of our initiatives this year do not require any changes in legislation so therefore do not need to be part of a legislative agenda for this fall session.
There's no legislation required for the Jobs Ontario funds and base capital. It's creating and supporting more than 90,000 jobs this year. There's no legislation required for the youth fund. There's no legislation required for the Futures program, for the social services employment program, for the municipal and first nations job creation programs, for Transitions, for the Ontario help centres, for the Environmental Youth Corps, for Jobs Ontario Capital.
There was no legislation required this fall to carry on with what I think is the most far-reaching, forward-looking investment in this province that it has ever had by any government in the history of the province.
POLICE JOB ACTION
Mrs Lyn McLeod (Leader of the Opposition): My question is for the Solicitor General. Minister, although the work slowdown being undertaken by the Toronto police cannot be in any way condoned, it's quite clear that this situation is continuing to grow more serious and that police in other jurisdictions are contemplating similar protests.
Minister, as I stated yesterday, I continue to believe that you must accept responsibility for the poisoned atmosphere and for the sense of alienation and demoralization being felt by police officers across the province. In light of the escalating concern, will you tell us what immediate and specific steps you intend to take to improve relations between your government and the police of this province?
Hon Allan Pilkey (Solicitor General): The member opposite alludes to a very troubling matter that is present with respect to some members of the Metropolitan Toronto Police. The chief of police, Mr McCormack, and the board will deal with that particular matter. It is their responsibility to do so, and of course I urge them to. I will be monitoring those particular actions, as is my responsibility under the act, and I will involve myself if and when it becomes necessary.
In terms of the second part of the question regarding the atmosphere with respect to policemen and policewomen all across this province, I have done nothing but sing the praises in this House in terms of those dedicated men and women who defend our rights in this province. I would challenge members opposite, from either party, to indicate anything in Hansard over the last 12 months that has indicated otherwise.
In addition, to be more direct to the question with respect to the OPP, $45 million, 241 officers and new regulations that speak to more professional training and standards are all very positive aspects which build towards the confidence and support of our law enforcement agencies in the province.
Mrs McLeod: Minister, give that long list of all the things you've done to the police and then ask, "Why are you still so frustrated with what this government has done?" I don't understand why it isn't obvious to you that the NDP rhetoric has absolutely demoralized police forces across this province.
Your government and the ministry under your leadership have created a crisis situation. It's important that you understand that and it's important that you understand that it is now your responsibility to help resolve this situation.
Last night the chair of the Metro police services board, Susan Eng, said that the protest by Metro police is a demand to be heard. Mr Minister, that's all they're asking. Will you at least commit today to meet with representatives from the Metro police association and from other local police associations to at least hear and review their concerns?
Hon Mr Pilkey: The member opposite says that she just doesn't understand, and I can't account for that lack of understanding. With respect to the use-of-force regulations which I announced in this House, one part of that which seems to be of some concern to some members of the Metropolitan Toronto force was developed within our ministry, yes, but it was also developed after a very broad consultation with the major police stakeholders, all of them: the Police Association of Ontario, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ontario police service boards and then a wide variety of other community representatives, such as the Block Parent association, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario -- all of the police stakeholders. There were also other representations there from other community organizations and groups, and all of them collectively had the opportunity to discuss and bring input to this particular issue.
The issues that are before us in terms of the regulation are all aimed at improving officer and public safety. I think the public is well served by these new recommendations and resolutions, and they should simply be given the opportunity to work.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): My question is to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. We learned this morning that this government has once again made a decision in the dark, this time about casinos. Minister, this morning at the press conference, you indicated in response to questions that you have no idea if this gamble will generate any tourism dollars, that you have no idea how much crime a casino will attract, that you have no idea how much money this will take away from existing charities or businesses in the Windsor area, that you have no idea who is going to run this private project, that you don't even know when or where it will open, yet, in the absence of all that, you've promised Windsor a casino.
Minister, I would ask you two questions. First, wouldn't it make more sense from a sound management point of view, something we haven't seen very much of, to do the social projections and economic studies before you announce the casino? Second, in the absence of having done that, when can we expect to see the economic and social projections and results of those impact studies, even though you've already made the announcement?
Hon Marilyn Churley (Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations): If the government conducted all the impact studies the leader of the third party is asking for, we would never get anything done for the economy. The reality is that we have spent some time looking at the implications of this decision we made during the budget announcement. We believe we have listened to people. We have talked to the law enforcement officers, we have talked to the major stakeholders, and what everybody is telling us is to move in a cautious, controlled way, which is what I said we should do from the beginning. That is exactly what we are doing.
We certainly now will go on to start working with the members of the community from the Windsor area and the municipality and the officials in that area to work out with them, in a consultative way, the best model for that. We will be working with the police to come up with the best model to make sure that this casino is crime-free and that it does in fact generate revenues.
Mr Harris: Minister, we know the motivation is to generate money. Otherwise, why would you violate every principle your party has stood for during the last 50 years by taxing the poor? So we know it's to generate money. The only government that has jurisdiction in Ontario that's giving money back to the poor is Brian Mulroney: GST credits, more to the poor; taxation, tax the rich, give to the poor. That's the only government that has brought in any policy. What do we have from the NDP government? That's what we have, as embarrassing as that sounds. From the NDP, we have a Treasurer who taxes $40 more if you make $20,000. Now we have this tax on the poor. So we know the motivation is money.
This morning, Minister, you said, "We don't know how much revenue it will generate." Why haven't you done those impact studies? And let me ask you this question, Minister: Since you don't know how much money, and we know the motivation is money, will you today commit the money that you are going to take away from Windsor hospitals, the money that the casino will take away from Windsor charities, the money that the casino will take away from all of the fund-raising projects now going on in and around the community of Windsor -- will you commit that if there is any profit, that money, 100%, will stay in Windsor from where the money is generated? Will you commit to that?
Hon Ms Churley: I would say that it is precisely because of GST and free trade that the border towns have come to us as a government to ask for our assistance, and that is why they came and asked us to look at the possibility of casino gambling, and we are responding to their concerns and their requests.
What I want to make very, very clear is that in terms of the model and in terms of the revenue that can be generated, we want to and will consult with the people who live in Windsor to make sure that we have the kind of model that they would like to see in their community.
I feel there is no doubt that there will be revenue. I can tell the member the revenue that is made in Winnipeg, Manitoba; however, that is a different circumstance. It is the first time that we have, in Ontario, decided to start casino gaming, and this in fact is a pilot project which will give us a lot of the information that we need. I'm sure Windsor itself is very happy that it has this opportunity. We will shortly have this casino up and running, and that will tell us a lot of the things we need to know.
Mr Peter Kormos (Welland-Thorold): I have a question for the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations. I've listened carefully to everything she's had to say today, and I'm confident she told us everything that she can tell us about casino gambling in the province of Ontario during the course of her press conference.
However, as a New Democrat and as a person who's been active for 25 years in that party, I, along with other New Democrats, have persisted in explaining to our friends, co-workers and neighbours that our party is different, that our policy comes from the convention floor, from the grass roots, from the women and men who make up the body of that party, not from some clandestine backroom, not from some corporate boardroom.
My question is this: In view of the fact that there's been a provincial convention and several provincial council meetings since the budget speech, and in view of the fact that there's been absolutely no consultation or discussion within any of those bodies about this radical change in policy, when is the minister going to ensure that the party -- those women and men who worked so hard for so many years to see an NDP government in this province -- has an opportunity to discuss this very radical departure from long-held views by New Democrats and CCFers before them?
Hon Ms Churley: I understand that tomorrow the member for Welland-Thorold is turning 40, so I'll forgive him for being just a little bit edgy today. I want him to know, because I've already turned that corner, that there is life and there is fun after 40. There really is.
On the issue of consultation, casino gambling is not new. It is new to Ontario, but it is not new. It already exists in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and the Yukon. Other jurisdictions are looking at it. We have been --
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): Order. Would the minister take her seat.
The Speaker: Minister.
Hon Ms Churley: We have been and we will continue to consult with the stakeholders who have some stake in this and particularly we will be talking to people in Windsor because that is the community that will be first impacted and we will continue to do that. In regard to the party, it's my understanding there is no particular party policy on this; however, of course we talk to our friends and neighbours in the party.
Mr Kormos: I thank the minister for those, I presume, somewhat backhanded congratulations. Yes, I am turning 40 tomorrow and in those 40 years I've learned that you don't do things behind closed doors, you don't do things in secrecy. If you're going to develop policy that's going to impact on 10 million people in this province, you do it openly and publicly. If you believe in a party that is a democratic party that generates policy at the grass roots, you go to that party before you start changing policy.
My question to the minister is this. In view of the fact there is clearly a wide range of strongly held views about casino gambling, its impact not just on the city of Windsor but on the whole province, its impact on poor people and other persons who might be lured to spend time at the slots among other things, in view of that, in view of the fact that this was not a party policy at the time of the last election and was not part of the New Democratic Party campaign -- and I appreciate that John Chalmers, one of this minister's senior bureaucratic staff, was cavorting down at the Las Vegas Hilton two weeks ago --
The Speaker: Would the member place his supplementary, please.
Mr Kormos: -- at an international gaming conference, but that doesn't constitute consultation. Will this minister today commit herself to a process of open, public consultation so that all of the views that are held, so that all of the opinions and valid submissions that could be made about the impact of casino gambling, its impact on tourism, if any, and the types of models that we ought to pursue, so that all of those views can be discussed, debated, exchanged --
The Speaker: Would the member complete his supplementary?
Mr Kormos: -- and presented clearly and openly to the people of this province?
Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): Point of order.
The Speaker: Point of order?
Mr Cordiano: I have sat patiently today and waited for the Speaker to allocate time appropriately for each member to have his or her say and I think today the question period has been going off on all kinds of directions. Most members around this place wait for their opportunity to ask questions --
Mr Cordiano: Just let me say what I have to say, please.
I think that it's incumbent upon us to allow members from all sides of the House to have their say and I appreciate the member previous putting his question, but I think you allowed far too much time today for each of the members to ask questions and quite frankly we never got very many questions in this question period. I think it's an atrocious question period and I think you should review what happened today.
The Speaker: To the member for Lawrence, I agree with him that as long as members are not prepared to exercise restraint, then indeed it will be very difficult to get the appropriate number of questions on the floor of the House. All I can do is continue to urge members to exercise some restraint so that we can get the maximum number of questions possible.
The time for oral questions has expired.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): We want an answer. Come on. There's got to be an answer.
The Speaker: To the House leader of the opposition, he will know that every point of order should be raised immediately, dealt with immediately. The clock continues and we've reached the end of the time period. At this point, the only way that we could allow a response from the minister is if the House agrees.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): Mr Speaker, it has long been held that as long as the question can be started before the clock expires, the minister is allowed to respond to it. It seems to me, Mr Speaker, that you're not remembering quite the way it is, because I can tell you that as soon as a question is begun, even if there's four seconds, the answer is given by the minister.
The Speaker: I stand corrected and I appreciate the advice of the House leader of the opposition. I stand corrected and indeed that is the practice of our House and the minister is permitted a response.
Hon Ms Churley: I appreciate the concerns the member raised. I just want to say that the reason why I announced today that we're starting with a pilot project very clearly deals with our concern, my concern, about some of these questions and that is why we're moving slowly and carefully.
We are not by any means operating behind closed doors in the dark. This was announced way back in April. We have made other announcements. We have talked to the press. We have, in fact, consulted widely on this, so it's a ridiculous allegation. This has been a very open process. The people out there, believe me, know what is going on. I just want to assure the member that those consultations with the party, without party, for all of the people of Ontario, will continue.
The Speaker: Now the time for oral questions has expired.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I want to give you notice pursuant to subsection 34(a) of our standing orders that I'm not satisfied with the response given earlier to my question by the Minister of Energy and I'm asking for a late show.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): To the member, I trust he will file the necessary document within the prescribed time at the table.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): My petition reads as follows:
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the NDP government is considering legalizing casinos and video lottery terminals in the province of Ontario; and
"Whereas there is great public concern about the negative impact that will result from the above-mentioned implementations,
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the government stop looking to casinos and video lottery terminals as a 'quick-fix' solution to its fiscal problems and concentrate instead on eliminating wasteful government spending."
This is signed by approximately 200 people from Fergus, Elora, Arthur, Flesherton and Dresden, among other places.
Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the New Democratic Party government has traditionally had a commitment to family life and quality of life for the citizens of Ontario; and
"Whereas the families are made more emotionally and economically vulnerable by the operation of various gaming and gambling ventures; and
"Whereas the New Democratic Party government has had a historical concern for the poor in society, who are particularly at risk each time the practice of gambling is expanded; and
"Whereas the New Democratic Party has in the past vociferously opposed the raising of moneys for the state through gambling; and
"Whereas the citizens of Ontario have not been consulted regarding the introduction of legalized gambling casinos despite the fact that such a decision is a significant change of government policy and was never part of the mandate given to the government by the people of Ontario,
"Therefore, we, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"That the government immediately cease all moves to establish gambling casinos by regulation and that appropriate legislation be introduced into the Assembly, along with a process which includes significant opportunities for public consultation and full public hearings as a means of allowing the citizens of Ontario to express themselves on this new and questionable initiative."
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I have a petition to the Legislature:
"That the Legislature of Ontario reject the arbitrator's report of the greater London area in its entirety, condemn the arbitration process to resolve municipal boundary issues as being patently an undemocratic process and reject the recommendation of a massive annexation of land by the city of London."
It's signed by 18 citizens of Middlesex county, and I affix my signature.
Mr Gary Carr (Oakville South): I am pleased to table a petition signed by concerned citizens who live within my riding, in Oakville and Burlington and the surrounding area, which reads as follows:
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the proposed changes to labour legislation will increase potential job losses; and
"Whereas they will cause a decline in investment in Ontario; and
"Whereas they will seriously undermine the recovery of a sound economic environment; and
"Whereas a recent public opinion poll showed that 83% of Ontario citizens support the withdrawal of these proposed changes;
"We, the undersigned, respectfully petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to declare a moratorium on any proposed changes to the existing labour legislation."
Mrs Irene Mathyssen (Middlesex): I have a petition signed by 29 residents of the county of Middlesex, including people from Strathroy, London, Lambeth and Mount Brydges. They petition the Legislature as follows:
"That the arbitrator's report for the city of London and the county of Middlesex be set aside because it does not reflect the express wishes of the majority who participated in arbitration hearings. It awards far too extensive an annexation area to the city of London, and it will jeopardize the vitality of the county of Middlesex and our rural way of life."
I have signed my name to this petition.
Mr John Sola (Mississauga East): I'd like to read into the record a petition in the form of about 600 letters I have received expressing concern with the proposed changes to the Ontario Public Hospitals Act. It goes as follows:
"Archbishop Aloysius Ambrozic has made his concerns known about the proposed changes to the Ontario Public Hospitals Act made by the Minister of Health, Ms Frances Lankin. The proposed changes include replacing volunteer boards of directors by appointed or elected boards. These changes would include Catholic and other hospitals presently administered by different religious communities. These changes would fundamentally change the direction, values, philosophy, tradition and mission of Catholic hospitals, which have been a bright light in the health care field for over 150 years in the province of Ontario.
"I would like to add my voice of concern to those of thousands of concerned citizens that are members of St Maximilian Kolbe parish community. We strongly oppose the changes proposed by the Minister of Health and believe that the quality of health care and the values and philosophy that are now part of Catholic hospitals would be jeopardized or even destroyed by the proposed changes.
"I am forwarding to your offices hundreds of letters written by our parishioners regarding this matter. For the most part, they are constituents of Mississauga East and West. Please present them to the Minister of Health and voice our concerns during the upcoming debate in the provincial Parliament.
"On behalf of myself and the parish community of St Maximilian Kolbe, I thank you for your attention and concern, and offer you my best wishes and prayers."
It's signed by Reverend Nowak.
I'd like to point out that for the most part these are individual letters, some of which are written in Polish with English translations. This shows the depth of feeling on this matter by constituents in Mississauga.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): I have well over a thousand signatures from people in York region with regard to the proposed landfill sites in York region.
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas the government of Ontario has promised to uphold legislation to protect environmentally sensitive areas from landfill sites;
"Whereas the government has promised each person in Ontario the right to a full environmental assessment, including the right to a review of all options as it pertains to waste disposal in Ontario;
"Whereas we absolutely reject the notion of the establishment of garbage dumps for the Metro Toronto waste in York region;
"We, the undersigned, protest and petition the NDP government in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to protect environmentally sensitive areas and look at all viable options for waste disposal. York region protests the location of landfill sites on the environmentally sensitive Rouge Valley and Oak Ridge systems.
"We therefore call upon the government to repeal Bill 143 in its entirety, consider all alternatives to site selection in York region and directly consult with all of the residents of Georgina and York region with regard to their wishes, possibly by referendum, and immediately cease the process of site selection in York region."
Humbly presented and affixed with my signature, Mr Speaker.
RETAIL STORE HOURS
Mr Kimble Sutherland (Oxford): I have a petition here with approximately 50 names from people from the Bright, Plattsville, New Hamburg and New Dundee area, and the petition reads:
"I, the undersigned, hereby register my opposition to wide-open Sunday business.
"I believe in the need of keeping Sunday as a holiday for family time, quality of life and religious freedom. The elimination of such a day will be detrimental to the fabric of society in Ontario and cause increased hardship on retailers, retail employees and their families. The proposed amendment of the Retail Business Holidays Act of Bill 38, dated June 3, 1992, to delete all Sundays except Easter (51 per year) from the definition of 'legal holiday' and reclassify them as working days should be defeated."
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I have a petition. It reads as follows:
"To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas there is a great deal of unacceptable pornography and violence on television, movies, videos, in books, magazines etc; and
"Whereas this prevalence has a negative impact on our society in general and on children in particular; and
"Whereas there appears to be very little restriction on the availability of these materials;
"We, the undersigned, beg leave to petition the Legislature as follows:
"We believe the government of Ontario should institute more strict controls on violent and pornographic movies, television, videos, etc."
It's signed by about 50 of my constituents.
REAL ESTATE GAINS
Ms Anne Swarbrick (Scarborough West): I have a petition signed by approximately 60 people, saying:
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to urge the Honourable Floyd Laughren, Treasurer of Ontario, not to proceed with an additional tax on real estate gains."
STANDING ORDERS REFORM
Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): "To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
"Whereas on June 11, 1992, the honourable member for Victoria-Haliburton, Mr Drainville, moved a resolution, 'That in the opinion of this House, the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly should be authorized to review and report to the House on recommended changes to the standing orders to allow independent members of the assembly the right to more fully participate in the work of the assembly'; and
"Whereas the Legislative Assembly on that date, June 11, 1992, did unanimously vote in favour of that resolution;
"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
"We request that the government allow the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to study and debate the said resolution."
I have signed this.
REPORTS BY COMMITTEES
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Mr Cooper from the standing committee on administration of justice presented the following report and moved its adoption:
Your committee begs to report the following bills as amended:
Bill 74, An Act respecting the Provision of Advocacy Services to Vulnerable Persons / Loi concernant la prestation de services d'intervenants en faveur des personnes vulnérables, the French title of which is amended to read "Loi concernant la prestation de services d'intervention en faveur des personnes vulnérables"
Bill 108, An Act to provide for the making of Decisions on behalf of Adults concerning the Management of their Property and concerning their Personal Care / Loi prévoyant la prise de décisions au nom d'adultes en ce qui concerne la gestion de leurs biens et le soin de leur personne
Bill 109, An Act respecting Consent to Treatment / Loi concernant le consentement au traitement
Bill 110, An Act to amend certain Statutes of Ontario consequent upon the enactment of the Consent to Treatment Act, 1992 and the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 / Loi modifiant certaines lois de l'Ontario par suite de l'adoption de la Loi de 1992 sur le consentement au traitement et de la Loi de 1992 sur la prise de décisions au nom d'autrui, the title of which is amended to read "An Act to amend certain statutes of Ontario consequent upon the enactment of the Advocacy Act, 1992, the Consent to Treatment Act, 1992 and the Substitute Decisions Act, 1992 / Loi modifiant certaines lois de l'Ontario par suite de l'adoption de la Loi de 1992 sur l'intervention, de la Loi de 1992 sur le consentement au traitement et de la Loi de 1992 sur la prise de décisions au nom d'autrui"
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Shall the report be received and adopted? Agreed? Agreed.
Pursuant to the order of the House dated May 28, 1992, these bills stand referred to the committee of the whole House.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon Shelley Martel (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): With respect to the debate this afternoon, there's been agreement among the three parties to divide the time equally. I expect a vote at about 5:50 this afternoon.
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Is there agreement? Everybody agrees? Agreed.
WANT OF CONFIDENCE MOTION
Mr Harris moved, pursuant to standing order 42(a), want of confidence motion number 2:
That this House, noting that since this government has taken office it has pursued policies which have discouraged investors and consumers and punished taxpayers and which have compounded rather than ameliorated the economic problems facing the province by imposing multibillion-dollar tax grabs, by adding billions to the provincial debt, by pursuing an anti-business agenda as expressed through its biased and unbalanced labour law reforms, by creating an environment hostile to the private sector and by showing itself to be hostage to the special interest groups as opposed to an advocate for the public interest, and further noting since this government took office two years ago:
(a) that more than 290,000 additional Ontario workers have been forced on to unemployment,
(b) that the unemployment rate has increased by more than five percentage points,
(c) that 86,000 jobs in manufacturing, 60,000 jobs in the construction industry and 24,000 jobs in the trade sector have vanished,
(d) that the welfare case load has increased to the point where today more than one million Ontarians depend on welfare,
finds that this government is incapable of managing the economy of the province in a manner which will create new jobs, new opportunities and lower taxes and therefore this government lacks the confidence of this House.
Mr Michael D. Harris (Nipissing): Nobody regrets more than I the necessity for bringing this non-confidence motion forward today. Behind all of the 290,000 Ontario workers who have been forced on to unemployment lies a family, lies lost hope, lie crushed dreams, lies lack of opportunity and hope for children in this province.
Behind each and every one of the 86,000 jobs that were lost in manufacturing, there is a family story, not a happy one.
Behind each one of the 60,000 jobs in the construction industry, there is a family, there are children. It's not a happy story.
Behind each one of the 24,000 jobs in the trade sector that have vanished, there are families, there are hardships, there are lost dreams, there are crushed hopes.
It is for that reason that I truly regret the necessity of this motion at this particular time.
At no time in our history that I can recall over the last 50 or so years have we seen such absolute incompetence in managing change and in managing the situation that Ontarians are faced with. I was looking back to George Drew and the 22-point plan for organized economic and social growth. It's not the first time that Ontario has faced the downturn. It's not the first time that there has been a restructuring going on.
I've heard the government say things like "when this recession is over." We're not in a recession. If you think recovery is just going to come about and then the good times will roll, you're very sadly mistaken. We've had recessions before -- we had one in 1981-82 -- and we've had restructurings before. What we're in today is another restructuring. We're in a period where there is global restructuring, where there is North American restructuring, and yet we have a government sitting back and saying: "When the recession is over, here's what we'll do. We'll spend $10 billion. We'll borrow it and then we'll pay it back somehow when the recession is over." There is no recession; there is a massive restructuring taking place.
When you review, and if you view the situation and understand that it is a restructuring, then you see opportunities. You see hope and you deal with it and you manage those changes. That's why this province prospered and led this country for so many decades, because we had governments that weren't stuck to any ideology, that weren't stuck to any notions of the past but were constantly adapting to the changes of the future, the changes that were happening around it.
I was reading back on Drew, who really started a lot of the economic prosperity, the modern prosperity that Ontario enjoyed. He drew up a 22-point plan for organized economic and social growth. At that time it was based upon the renewal and expansion of Ontario Hydro, tax cuts and reforms in support of a modern economic and social policy, not the social policies of the decade previous but new, innovative, progressive social policies to adapt to the restructuring that was going on at that time. Premier Drew said, and I quote, "In every field of employment, individual initiative will be encouraged and hard work rewarded by reducing taxes and removing bureaucratic restrictions."
Ontario started on a path of investing in and building our infrastructure. Think today of the differences. They planned 5, 10, 15 or 20 years in the future with Hydro needs and a Hydro grid across this province, not the disastrous Hydro policies of this government we've seen today.
Think of the roads, where roads were build in advance of development, where the infrastructure was developed, where there was an education system adapting to the time, ready for the challenge of educating our youth for the jobs that were coming about with the restructuring at that time. Ontario prospered. We were envied across Canada. We were envied around the world. They came here to Ontario from far and wide to seek a better life, and through the decades a succession of Premiers -- Frost, Robarts, Davis -- actively managed the change of their decades by building a future instead of being victimized by it.
Had Davis and Robarts sat back as the change was coming upon them in the late 1960s and 1970s instead of thinking ahead to the future, building and creating the whole community college system to be able to reflect the changing skills that were required for a workforce then, looking ahead, planning ahead, planning and managing that change that was taking place -- that's why Ontario was so envied, why we prospered, why we had the jobs that were appropriate for those days. Instead of being whipsawed by change, they chose to act reasonably, responsibly and above all competently with a plan to respond to change in a changing society. That essentially was Ontario's formula for success for more than 40 years.
For the last decade or so, perhaps seven years, if I can put a precise time frame on it, we've been drifting. We've been drifting directionless from pollster to Premier to headline to hardship. We've had government policies that said, "How do we get elected?" We had a Premier by the name of Peterson, "How do we trick 'em into voting for us?" Then we had a Premier by the name of Rae, "How do we do the same and how do we get elected?" not, "How do we do the responsible thing? How do we manage the change that's taking place?"
As Ontario has moved towards this huge, new bureaucracy of 12,000 and massive spending increases in the past seven years, more than doubling the government's role in our lives in taxation, we've seen loss of opportunity. We've seen other provinces, not perfectly, but managing the change better than Ontario. So where Ontario was envied across Canada -- all of us have relatives and friends in western Canada who said: "You get all the investment. You get all the good jobs, Ontario. It's not fair." Now they're giggling and laughing at us.
We look at a Liberal government in New Brunswick, leading with structural changes to how they operate, getting their education system efficient, ready for the skills required for the next 10 years in New Brunswick. Is it any wonder that Premier McKenna is able to advertise in the Globe and Mail every week with success? He's not after those from Newfoundland, you know, to take their dollars and invest in New Brunswick. He is after and he is getting the investment and the jobs and the dollars from those potential investors who were coming to Ontario for over four or five decades when we managed the change well.
It is for these reasons that we have an absolute and unequivocal lack of confidence in this government. It is why we believe it is important, when we look at the economic agenda, when we look at the legislative agenda, and we see a government so out of step with what is required for Ontario, lagging behind in education, lagging behind in the skills, lagging behind in those important infrastructures our businesses and industries of the future need, falling farther and farther behind other provinces, farther and farther behind other governments. The only job creation program today announced was casino gambling, if you can believe that they are that far out of touch with what's happening in this province.
I was intrigued with Cliff McIntosh, the Quetico Centre, quite a progressive thinker and individual, in my view. Not everybody will agree. He cites a true story involving a news conference held recently by 30 Chinese businessmen at Thunder Bay's Confederation College. They're from Red China, as we know it, Communist China. On an exchange program, they were studying in Thunder Bay. The spokesman for these 30 businessmen said Canada's an unattractive place to do business because there's too much government regulation. Who would have thought that we would have heard from someone from Communist China, the last of the large centrally planned economies, saying that, from their perspective, in Ontario, Canada, what they have seen right here in this province is that in fact Canada is an unattractive place to do business because there's too much government regulation?
We have strayed so far from the marketplace. We have tried to have a command economy when they have failed all over the world. We spend billions and billions more of government money, and as every billion is spent, another 500 jobs are lost every day in this province of Ontario, going to Alberta, going to British Columbia, going to Manitoba, going to Saskatchewan, going to New Brunswick.
We have a Treasurer in this province of Ontario who went to Ottawa and asked for a bailout, asked for an equalization payment, at a time when we're looking at this Constitution and studying Confederation. I've heard Ontarians express a viewpoint that, "You know, Ontario is always asked to give, give and give." I've said: "It's changed, you know. The Treasurer of Ontario went to the government of Canada last fall and asked the taxpayers of Newfoundland, asked the taxpayers of the Maritimes, asked the taxpayers of the Prairies to bail Ontario out, to help us through this recession."
This is a province that led Canada out of recessions, and this province that could, and very easily should, with a different direction, with a new direction, with a government that understood the balance between the private sector and the public sector, with a government that put people first, ironically enough with a government that had an agenda for the people, not an agenda for the NDP, not an agenda for the Bob Whites, not an agenda for the big unions, but an agenda for the people.
If we had that kind of agenda, as we had from Drew, as we had from Frost, as we had from Robarts, as we had from Davis, as my caucus sent over to the Premier, an agenda, an economic blueprint, an agenda for economic renewal and prosperity in Ontario -- we sent it over to him last year. It still stands as the only political document prepared by any political party in Ontario that has a vision, that looks forward, that talks about how we can prosper again, how we can create jobs, we could have hope, we could have opportunity. And we get the tired old rhetoric from this government.
It is obvious to every one of the 500 who were laid off today and lost their jobs today, and the 500 who have lost their jobs every day this government has been in power, it is obvious to them and their spouses and their families and their children that this government is incompetent, that this government is not capable of managing the restructuring that is going on now across this globe, across North America, and it is for those reasons that this House has put forward a motion today that we have no confidence in the government.
I ask all members of this Legislature to reflect, to put partisanship aside, to think about your children, to think about your neighbours who are losing their jobs who have lost hope. That's what you were elected to do. You weren't elected to listen to Bob White. You were elected to represent your people in your riding, in your neighbourhoods, who are damn scared, who are losing their jobs, and their children, who are losing hope.
I ask you to think about that when you vote at 6 o'clock today. Do you have confidence in this economic agenda that is destroying 500 jobs a day, or do you want to stand up for what you were elected to do, to make sure that you have more fairness and hope and opportunity in your communities and in your ridings? You will not get it by continuing to support this agenda of Bob White, this agenda of Bob Rae, that is destroying all hope in this province.
Hon Bud Wildman (Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs): I listened with interest to the leader of the opposition party, the third party, as he made his remarks in support of his motion of want of confidence in this government, and I must say, while I listened with care, I disagree emphatically with the premises on which his arguments are made.
I guess the only thing I agree with in his remarks is that we are not only going through the worst recession this government and this province have faced since the 1930s, but indeed we are facing a major restructuring, and it's because of the government's commitment to respond to the serious need for restructuring our economy that I oppose this resolution.
One should look really at what this government has done in the last two years in face of this major restructuring, in face of the fact that we as a government, for the first time since the 1940s, have experienced a drop in revenue two years running. We have still been able to respond to the needs of workers and of communities across the province.
I think particularly about northern Ontario, where we have faced major problems, largely because of the new trade realities related to free trade and to the historically high interest rates until recently.
We saw situations where in Sault Ste Marie, the third-largest steel producer in this country faced possible closure, possible bankruptcy and shutdown, and this government didn't stand back. This government cooperated with the Steelworkers and with the management of that company, and with the banks, yes, the financial institutions, and with the community, to save that corporation and to make it possible for us to have a new future in Sault Ste Marie and Algoma district.
I think of my colleague the member for Cochrane North when he had to deal with the very serious problems facing Kapuskasing and the Spruce Falls Power and Paper Co, and this government didn't stand back. This government responded to the work of the community. That community, a community of about 12,000 people, raised $15 million in pledges for that company to ensure that company could continue to operate and that the workers could continue to operate that. This government responded to the bush workers and to the mill workers, and yes, to the small business community in Kapuskasing. If that's not responding to the restructuring, I don't know what is.
One could also look to the area of the North Shore and to Elliot Lake, where, because of the changes in the uranium market, the changes in demands from Ontario Hydro, the contracts that were negotiated by Ontario Hydro at the time the Conservatives were in power, this government responded to the needs of Elliot Lake, Blind River and the North Shore and invested, through Ontario Hydro and through the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, more dollars in the restructuring of that economy than any community in this province has seen. That's the kind of response this government has had to the restructuring of the economy.
It isn't just in northern Ontario and it isn't just the government that is responding to the restructuring of this economy. This motion --
Mr David Turnbull (York Mills): Then you bail them out with taxpayers' dollars.
Hon Floyd Laughren (Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister of Economics): Take your anti-union diatribe somewhere else.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for York Mills, please. Minister.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for York Mills, the member for Oakville South, you don't have the floor. Minister.
Hon Mr Wildman: Mr Speaker, they're taking time from me. I guess they don't want to hear it.
In their motion, they say that this government has damaged the confidence of investors. It's interesting that the member for Oakville South would intervene at this point. When one looks at the commitment that the Ford Motor Co has made to investment in his community and in this province, in the neighbourhood of $2 billion in investment in this province, and the other auto companies, Chrysler and its commitment to Ontario --
The Deputy Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Wildman: I'm amazed that the local member would say that he considers the commitment of the Ford Motor Co to his community to be a bailout. That's amazing. It really is amazing to say, as a local member, that he won't stand up for his community and welcome the commitment of the Ford Motor Co to this province and to his community.
It's not just Ford. It's the auto industry in general.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, order, the member for Oakville South.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Oakville South, if you want to be patient, I will give you the opportunity shortly to voice your opinion. In the meantime, please remain quiet. Minister.
Hon Mr Wildman: I will accept the fact that the gentleman probably has never heard the view that you should not look a gift horse in the mouth.
One should also look at the rest of the auto industry: Chrysler and its commitment to Bramalea and to Windsor, GM and its commitment to this province. We've got more investment in the auto industry in this province at a time of major restructuring in auto across North America, including Ontario, than any other part of the North American continent.
This opposition party has said that we have punished taxpayers. If anyone has imposed a punishment on the people of this province, it is that party and its commitment and determination to build the Darlington nuclear plant when everybody else was telling it it shouldn't go that route, it shouldn't go to megaprojects, because it was going to cost us far more than it predicted, and it was going to bankrupt Ontario Hydro. We're having to deal with that. We're having to deal with those problems because of the poor planning and lack of foresight of the Tory party. And that was committed to, of course, by the Liberals when they were in power as well.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, order, order. The Chair will not accept a shouting match, please. The member for York Mills, I just want you to please remain quiet. If you want to have the opportunity to debate afterwards, do so. Do you have a point of order?
Mr Turnbull: Yes, Mr Speaker. If I heard any truth in what is being said from across the floor, you wouldn't have the interruptions --
The Deputy Speaker: Order, order, order. I will not accept this language. I will ask you to withdraw please.
Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, I will withdraw the words, but the intent is still there. We know what --
The Deputy Speaker: I won't accept that. I won't accept that. I will not accept that. The member for York Mills, I want you to withdraw.
Mr Turnbull: Mr Speaker, there's obviously a divergence of opinion. Indeed, this is a government that is destroying this province and that is why I am so shocked at the nonsense that is being spoken.
The Deputy Speaker: It's not a point of order. Take your seat. You will have the opportunity to debate. In the meantime, I would ask you to remain quiet.
Hon Mr Wildman: If I was shouting, I suppose it was because of the noise from the other side.
I was elected to this House first in 1975. I've seen a number of governments serve in this province. I would say to you that the calibre of debate and the class with which people have withdrawn, when asked to do so when they have said things that perhaps they shouldn't have said, has certainly gone downhill in that time.
I'll try to conclude my remarks by saying a couple of things. This government has made a major commitment to job creation in the time of a serious --
Mr Turnbull: That's what you say over there.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): I liked you better in opposition, Bud.
Hon Mr Wildman: The members don't want to hear about even our short-term efforts. One looks at the Jobs Ontario fund, which is creating 90,000 jobs alone in this province this year; the anti-recession package that went before that, which created 18,000 jobs; the 1991 budget initiatives that could save 70,000 jobs; the Jobs Ontario Youth program that created 8,800 jobs over the summer; the Futures program that will provide 27,000 jobs in 1992-93; the efforts to get people off social assistance by having the social service employment program create 5,500 jobs in this province, and the Environmental Youth Corps that will employ 36 youth in conservation projects across the province. This government has made a major commitment with the Jobs Ontario Capital funding that will create 10,000 jobs this year so far.
This government is responding to restructuring. This government is responding to the major problems we face in the economy. This government recognizes the need for action to create jobs. It is for those reasons, and because of the barracking across the floor, that I will be voting against this motion.
NOTICE OF DISSATISFACTION
The Deputy Speaker (Mr Gilles E. Morin): Pursuant to standing order 33(a), the member for Ottawa South has given notice of dissatisfaction with the answer to his question given by the Minister of Energy concerning the dismissal of Al Holt from Ontario Hydro. This matter will be debated today at 6 pm.
WANT OF CONFIDENCE MOTION
Mr Gerry Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt): I am pleased to join the debate and to let you know, Mr Speaker, that we will be supporting the motion of the leader of the third party.
I say to the government members that I think it is truly supportable that the government is incapable of managing the economy of the province. I would say that the very first budget you brought in, Treasurer, was a mistake. As we look back on it now, it set the government on a course that you frankly have never been able to recover from, setting the deficit at $10 billion. In that budget, as you'll recall, I think you said you chose to fight the recession instead of the deficit. I think people who look back on that budget now would say that you should have begun the fight the deficit then.
Hon Mr Laughren: Don't forget we inherited most of it.
Mr Phillips: There we go. I'm going to get at that deficit right now, because the Premier used a number the other day that I do not believe. He said that you inherited an $8-billion deficit.
The facts of the matter are, the independent Provincial Auditor analysed the books. I choose to believe the Provincial Auditor. I will hold this report up every time the Premier uses that $8-billion number, and I will say I believe the Provincial Auditor.
Here's what the Provincial Auditor said. He said Ontario has had only one surplus in the last 20 years; it was the year ending March 31, 1990. For those people out there watching, that was the last time that Treasurer Nixon had control of the books. What the auditor said was Ontario has had only one surplus in the last 20 years, the year ending March 31, 1990. He then goes on to explain how there was a $3-billion deficit in the first year of the NDP government. He spells it out very clearly. There was no doubt you did not inherit an $8-billion deficit. If the Premier uses that number again, I will challenge him in this Legislature to come to committee and explain how he got that number, because the Provincial Auditor makes it extremely clear: one surplus in 20 years, the final year of the Liberal government. I will not stand for the Premier trying to do what I'll call revisionist history.
So I will say in all sincerity, even the Treasurer might acknowledge, had he to do it over again, the first budget of his might have had at least the word "restraint" somewhere in it.
Hon Mr Laughren: You wanted us to spend more.
Mr Phillips: The Treasurer said that we wanted him to spend more. That is not true. If you review all of the hearings, you will find that through the summer months when we reviewed the budget we were saying you should have begun the restraint exercise. You didn't.
Furthermore, in your first budget, Mr Treasurer, you said, "To reduce the deficit we could have increased personal income tax; we could have done that but we believe such moves would have worsened the recession." I would just remind the House that is what you said in your first budget. What happened to the people of Ontario the 1st of July, just three months ago, to every single person in this province? Provincial personal income tax went up by 5%. Yet in the first budget, as you will recall, Treasurer, you said that were you to increase personal income taxes, it would have worsened the recession.
We see the recession continuing to be far worse than the Treasurer certainly had predicted in his budget. We see the recession apparently, rather than getting better as we had been told it would by now in the budget, actually continuing to slide. So I say in terms of managing the economy that the very first budget of this government was a mistake. You may not accept that now. I think most objective observers would say it was a mistake and that was the beginning of it.
Now we see the results of that and we're asking the government to get on with a plan for economic recovery. There are, I guess, four or five elements in the government's plan for economic recovery. These were the elements that were announced perhaps a year ago when the Treasurer and others in the government said: "Here is how we're going to get the economy rolling. We are going to have training as a cornerstone of our economic recovery." In fact, it was a year ago that the Premier said, "We will have the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board." It was in your speech from the throne that you said you would have legislation introduced months ago to establish -- the Treasurer has a quizzical expression on his face, but we still do not see legislation on the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board. For members of the government, this was going to be the cornerstone of your economic renewal plan. I don't know where the backbenchers on the government are on this, but I would be demanding to know where the legislation is on this. I believe that this legislation is not even slated to be passed by this House at least until the spring.
So in regard to economic recovery and looking to the government to get the economy going, the whole area of skills development, apprenticeship, the whole area of workplace adjustment and worker adjustment, we don't even have the legislation yet. We haven't even begun to debate the legislation and this was going to be Premier Rae's cornerstone of economic recovery.
The second piece of the economic recovery plan was to develop better partnerships in the workplace. You can recall the Premier saying often that this is going to be the way we get the economy rolling, partnerships in the workplace. I say to the government that I don't think you could ever find a piece of legislation that has so divided the working community and the employer community in this province as the Ontario Labour Relations Act amendments. Regardless of the merits of the argument on both sides, there is no question, if you've listened to the debate, that both sides are totally polarized on this, yet the Premier talks about developing new partnerships.
Nothing could have been more divisive to the development of those partnerships than the whole way Bill 40 has been handled. You can ram the bill through, and you've certainly rammed the rules through so that you will get the bill through by the end of October, but it has been at an enormous price. I listened to the labour leadership in this province. They have no confidence in the business community, and the business community is equally concerned about the divisive nature of this.
So you've got two camps that you rely on to pull us out of this recession, to develop the plans to get us out of this recession, and without doubt the bill has divided those two camps like never before. So the second element of the economic renewal plan, this whole issue of partnerships, has gone by the board, and I think it's going to be virtually impossible to get those two sides working cooperatively in the near term.
The third element of the economic renewal plan was something called the Ontario investment fund. In Quebec there are examples where pension funds have been used effectively to help develop jobs and help develop the economy. But the way the Ontario investment fund has been handled to date has, I'm afraid, polluted the water. There is an enormous suspicion among the managers of the public sector pensions about how these funds will be used, to the extent that the Ontario Teachers' Federation has sent the government a letter saying it has no interest in participating in the Ontario investment fund. OMERS, the major pension manager of our Ontario municipal employees, has similarly sent a letter. So here we are, the third leg of the economic renewal plan tremendously undermined, and I'm afraid it may have been rendered useless because of the way it has been handled to date.
The fourth area of the economic renewal plan is Jobs Ontario. Again, I have responded often in the House because I think it's time for the government to come clean on Jobs Ontario. The backbenchers have to appreciate there's no new money in Jobs Ontario. What happened was -- and you can see it clearly; just get your budget out. Turn towards the back of the budget and you'll see where the $500 million comes from for the Jobs Ontario Capital. Every single ministry was trimmed back from last year. All of their capital spending was trimmed back -- surprise, surprise -- by $500 million, and the Jobs Ontario Capital was created.
I'm not saying to spend more money. I'm just saying, be honest with the people of Ontario. This is not going to create new jobs; it is a public relations exercise. I mentioned earlier in the House that the only new job that's being created by Jobs Ontario Capital is hiring an advertising agency. We saw a big ad: "Please, we want a full-service advertising agency to advertise how we are going to, not spend new money, but redistribute $500 million."
I've never said to spend more money on the Jobs Ontario Capital. I've said, just come clean with the people of Ontario. As you look at the budget, Mr Speaker, you will find the Jobs Ontario Capital fund and the Jobs Ontario Homes fund, and the base capital spending is actually lower this fiscal year than it was last fiscal year. The Treasurer will know that we, with his assistance, got one of your own government members to send out a correction acknowledging it's not 90,000 new jobs; you're maintaining the same 90,000 jobs you had last year. I appreciate that, but you just can't let the people of Ontario believe there's going to be 90,000 new jobs created. There may be 90,000 jobs --
Hon Mr Laughren: I didn't say that.
Mr Phillips: The Treasurer is nodding, no, no, that's not the case, but one of your own members earlier today --
Hon Mr Laughren: Correct it then.
Mr Phillips: Hansard will show that the member for Sault Ste Marie --
Mr Phillips: The member for Algoma said, "We are creating 90,000 new jobs." That's what he said, Treasurer, and that's why I get so angry. You are maintaining 90,000 jobs from last year and that's fine, but it's not new jobs. None of us should be going out and telling the unemployed construction workers in our constituencies that there's a brand-new, huge sum of money. The capital money is the same as it was last year.
That is the fourth element I wanted to talk about on the government's economic renewal plan: the Jobs Ontario Capital fund. It is a public relations exercise and there are a few people in the advertising business who have been employed to help sell it, but those are all the new jobs.
The fifth area, I would say, is the much-ballyhooed worker ownership plan. This is one the Premier still talks about, but the problem with the worker ownership plan is this: What it is, for those who aren't familiar, is the establishment of a venture capital fund subsidized by tax credits to individuals who invest in it. The only people who can run the venture capital fund, designed to invest in businesses in Ontario, are the unions.
Mr Chris Stockwell (Etobicoke West): What a shock.
Mr Phillips: Which is fine.
Hon Mr Laughren: That's not true.
Mr Phillips: Yes, it's true. The Treasurer says it's not true, but Treasurer, you don't know the bill.
Hon Mr Laughren: I do.
Mr Phillips: No, you don't, Treasurer. By law, the only people who can run the venture capital are unions. The problem is that --
Mr Phillips: Now the Treasurer acknowledges that I was right. They are the ones who can run the venture capital fund. What happened? The Ontario Federation of Labour, the big organization in Ontario, has said it doesn't want to do it. The OFL said it doesn't want to be involved in it. I said, "Are you saying you won't be involved in it?" "Yes, we will not be involved in it." So the Premier still goes around saying, "We've introduced this new plan, a venture capital fund for new businesses," and the big organization that can run it says it won't participate in it.
Hon Mr Laughren: So?
Mr Phillips: The Treasurer says, "So?" So it won't do any good.
Hon Mr Laughren: What's your point?
Mr Phillips: The Treasurer is not acknowledging that this bill was designed to create funds to help small business, to capitalize small businesses, and the only group that can run it says it won't get involved in it. The Ontario Federation of Labour won't get involved in it.
The second part of the bill allows employees to purchase a significant portion of their business: a good idea. But what happens? The government designs it in such a way that the Steelworkers -- the Steelworkers in this province are the ones, with all due respect, who know the most about it. They know the most about investing in businesses. They've done it in Algoma.
The Steelworkers came to the committee and they said, "We beg you, don't proceed with this bill like this." They took this to their lawyers in the the US because many of the companies they would look to invest in are multinational branches, and the expression they used there was, "We had to peel our lawyers off the ceiling once we explained to them the plan for this worker ownership."
The reason I go through all this is that, firstly, the government made a huge mistake in its first budget. I acknowledge you couldn't have balanced the budget, but the word "restraint" never appears in your budget. That got things off on the wrong foot.
Then there was the second budget you brought out where you said, and the Treasurer in question period today said: "Our budget had three priorities. We are going to take immediate steps to create jobs." I say to you, Treasurer, that you are taking steps to maintain jobs, not to create jobs. "We are controlling the deficit" --
Mr Stockwell: That's a laugh.
Mr Phillips: Well, the problem is -- one of the members said, "That's a laugh" -- that the deficit -- the Treasurer knows we have some concerns even about the $9.9 billion this year, that you will not be hitting that number.
I will just summarize why we are supporting the motion before us. We believe the government has mismanaged the economy. The finances -- and I have a lot of personal respect for the Treasurer -- of the province are in a mess.
The economic renewal plan the Premier talks about: I've gone through each of the elements of it and each of them is on the rocks. OTAB: We're at least eight months away from legislation. The OLRA amendments: The Ontario Labour Relations Act amendments designed to develop partnership is perhaps the most divisive piece of legislation we've ever seen. The Ontario investment fund: We found that two of the major groups you're looking to for funds have said they won't participate in it. The worker ownership: The major players don't want to participate in it. Jobs Ontario is not creating new jobs; it is maintaining jobs.
For all those reasons we have come to the conclusion we will support the motion before the House. We will be supporting the non-confidence motion.
Mr Jim Wilson (Simcoe West): I want to rise for just a few moments and express my support for the non-confidence motion that's been put forward by the leader of the Ontario PC party, Mike Harris.
The number one issue in Ontario today is clearly jobs and it's clearly the ability of the government to manage this change, the change in the structuring of our economy and the change in the economic levers of Ontario. The motion here expresses non-confidence in that ability.
The number one question on the streets in my riding is, "How do we get rid of the NDP government?" Let's review for a minute, because I don't think the government understands where my party, today joined by the Liberals, is coming from on the issue of the economy and the issue of job creation.
The Minister of Natural Resources, the member for Algoma, very eloquent and very determined, expressed to this House just a few minutes ago his government's record on job creation. The problem is that the government just doesn't get it. The government in fact, when it comes to job creation and management of the economy, has discovered perpetual motion. You pillage the taxpayers of Ontario and you continue to tax, tax, tax, so that we're the highest-taxed jurisdiction in North America. People, as a result, lose their jobs and then the government, in a humanitarian gesture, says, "Well, we're going to send some of your taxes back to you so that 1.1 million of you can live on welfare and sit at home and do nothing and have no hope or opportunity for employment."
The greatest dignity you can give an individual is the opportunity for a job, the opportunity to be a productive member of our society. The economic mismanagement, mistakes, bailouts, inappropriate spending and the direction this government is going in is leading to what Statistics Canada told us just two weeks ago: 500 jobs a day are being lost across all sectors of the economy.
Let's review: The number one issue is jobs. The number one question is, "How do we get rid of the NDP government?" The government is always looking for solutions from the opposition. Today's non-confidence motion is the best solution I can think of, and that's to get rid of Bob Rae and the lousy and phoney economics of the NDP government.
In the last election, and they continue until today, the NDP felt it had a corner on compassion. When I went to the doors, people said, "Bob Rae is the only one who understands that I need a job and Bob Rae will be the only one who will be able to protect our jobs." Well, what's the record? The record is that 500 jobs are being lost and the government's only response is false job creation: 1.1 million Ontarians on welfare.
The member for Algoma, the Minister of Natural Resources, cites bailouts. Bailouts are part of the problem, and that's what we're trying to get the government to understand. You can't siphon off all the money in people's pockets -- those who are working -- put it back in the form of welfare and bailouts and say that's your economic policy; that just won't do. You don't understand that it's the private sector in the small business community in this province that creates meaningful, long-term, well-paying jobs.
Because you have a socialist, ideological disposition which guides all your decision-making, you think that everyone should be poor. So we should all be on welfare. Congratulations; 1.1 million Ontarians are, and you're well on the way to putting the rest of us on welfare.
You want to tax the heck out of the people of Ontario, and you've been doing that with unprecedented tax increases in the last budget and more to come. A list was leaked a couple of weeks ago indicating 62 or 64 new ways to siphon money out of the pockets of the people of Ontario. That's disgusting. It does nothing to give confidence to the investment community and the small business community in Ontario that create the jobs.
Labour law reform: Number one on the hit parade when the government comes back after the summer recess is labour law reform. Overwhelming evidence from all sectors of the economy clearly indicates that the labour law reform as proposed by the government will kill even more jobs. It's already had an effect on investments in Ontario.
I want to quote from just a couple of my constituents in terms of how strongly they feel about these labour law reforms and the effect they will have on the economy. Eugene Peycha, who owns Stuart Ellis Pharmacy in Collingwood, wrote to Bob Rae on September 4:
"I have just finished reading your government's proposed changes to the Ontario Labour Relations Act giving unions unprecedented powers in Ontario. You advertise your government as a social democracy, and yet with these proposals you take away the rights of workers to make an informed choice and the right to change their minds.
"For my part, I intend to wind up my business affairs in the province of Ontario. I was born in Ontario, educated in Ontario, raised my family in Ontario and ran a business in Ontario for the past 20 years. My business employs approximately 20 people, and when I wind up my affairs, these people will be looking for jobs."
He goes on in the letter to state that the reason they'll be looking for jobs is there already are a couple of pharmacies in the Collingwood area and they'll simply absorb the business that his pharmacy was doing; a very good business and a very good citizen of this province, who is being forced to close his business as a direct result of the economic climate and the mismanagement of the NDP government.
Murray Kerr, vice-president of Arnott Construction in Collingwood, wrote to me three weeks ago:
"Our province is experiencing severe economic problems, problems which demand rational, practical and immediate solutions. In our opinion, the proposed amendments will do nothing to facilitate economic recovery. On the contrary, these reforms will undoubtedly serve to drive investment out of this province and into more profit-generating regions of North America.
"Ontario presently possesses the most comprehensive labour legislation in North America, and while not perfect, these laws do promote industrial harmony and facilitate access to collective bargaining. It is simply inconceivable that the introduction of legislative amendments which discourage potential investors, lead to unemployment and hamper our competitive edge, it is inconceivable that these reforms will create a partnership between business and the labour community."
Charlie Tatham of Tatham and Associates of Collingwood, a highly respected engineering consulting firm in the area, wrote to the NDP member for Simcoe Centre pleading:
"From what I have been able to determine, the proposed legislation is and will be detrimental to private enterprise and in turn to job creation. Surely, in these times your government should be stimulating business and consumer confidence rather than destroying it through such regressive proposals. I would certainly be delighted if it were decided to scrap these changes."
Dave Arnill, president of Seeley and Arnill Aggregates of Collingwood, wrote to me saying:
"We implore the government to listen to the people of Ontario when they say that this legislation will jeopardize the economic viability of this province. We urge the leader of this province to recognize that these concerns stem not from a desire to undermine the NDP government or the trade union movement in general but from a desire to maintain Ontario's competitiveness and improve the economic wellbeing of all Ontarians."
Ontario used to be "Yours to Discover." Now you drive down the road and you see bumper stickers that say, "Ontario, Yours to Recover." If you really want to represent the people of Ontario, if you really want to answer their number one question, which is, "How do we get rid of this government?" you'll support this motion today. The Liberals have joined us in supporting this motion.
I say to the members of the NDP: If you're really good parliamentarians and if you're really doing what the people of Ontario want, then you won't be afraid to call an election on this issue. You won't be afraid to go back to the people and say: "Do you agree with our labour law reforms? Do you agree with the direction we're going in?"
You must be that confident, because you're just driving ahead. You're driving ahead with your labour law reforms, you're driving ahead with your policies that are putting 500 people a day out of work, so I expect you have confidence in those policies. If you have such confidence in those policies, support this non-confidence motion and call an election today. That's what the people of Ontario want. That's what they deserve. They deserve a government that listens to them and a government that's prepared to create an economic climate so that the private sector can create jobs in this province.
Mr Kimble Sutherland (Oxford): I'm very pleased to participate in this debate. The member who just spoke talked about creating jobs and talked about what we need to do that. The non-confidence motion deals with the issue of management and accuses this government of mismanaging.
I want to say to you, Mr Speaker, that I think we need to look at the record of management of previous governments because the reality of the situation is that previous governments haven't managed issues -- for example, if we look in the area of health care and the Minister of Health and her efforts to really provide management to our health care system. How do you provide that management? You provide that by forming partnerships -- not partnerships with only a few of the stakeholders in the system; partnerships with all the stakeholders in the system. We are seeing that occur with many of our partners, our transfer agencies, those important groups that deliver services and help to provide those essential services.
I want to talk about a few other things that this government is doing to create prosperity again in the province. Mr Speaker, you will remember that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology released a discussion paper on industrial strategy. I don't know if the members in the opposition have read that, but I have and I think it's a very good policy. I believe it's a very good policy document. It's very future-oriented. It looks to the new industries and how to provide a very positive framework for helping economic renewal in this province.
It's not only that ministry. We heard comments about training and apprenticeship. This government is the government that has been working on setting up a formal training system: the Ontario Training and Adjustment Board.
The 42 years of Tory rule in here that were referred to: They didn't make any adjustments to the economy. They just wanted to sit back and let it go on its merry way. If you go back and look at the Premier's Council's report on skills development, which countries do they look for as models for developing a training system? It's not the United States with 12 years of Republican government where you just sit back and let it go on its merry way. The training systems they look to are Japan, Sweden and Germany: successful, modern economies that work on the basis of partnership between business, labour and government to provide the appropriate framework to go forward. Those countries have been going forward. We haven't had that degree of partnership. We haven't had that management from the previous government or from the Conservative government as well.
Reference was made to apprenticeship programs. The Minister of Colleges and Universities announced yesterday how we're going to get the apprenticeship programs back on track because the other governments have let them slip by.
Those are just a few of the initiatives the government is working on and just a few of the issues the government has been working on. If you're going to have successful economic recovery, you need those partnerships and you need true management of the different issues: government finances and how we're going to go forward on a positive program.
As I read this motion, I was surprised that the leader of the third party would dare put forward a motion, mention all these these terrible job losses and the severe impact they have had on families across this province, and not make one reference to federal government policies, free trade and the dollar, because if you go back and look where the decline started, we know it started with changes in federal government policies.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. Order. The member for Oxford.
Mr Sutherland: Thank you. We also heard references to what 42 years of Tory rule had done, how we had developed a good community college system. Quite right; no doubt about it. It's certainly necessary and has served us well. But we also need to go forward. We have to keep responding to changes.
What I want to say to you, Mr Speaker, and to this House today in terms of dealing with this motion is that there's only one way to do that, and that is through those partnerships. The government has to provide the leadership. This government has been providing the leadership, and what we have been trying to do is to maintain services through very difficult economic times.
I would want to match this government's record on job creation with our neighbours to the south. Let's face it: 12 years of free enterprise government to our south, and what is their economic record? What is their unemployment rate? What is their economic growth record? Let's look at those records. They're not doing any better than us. So what the Treasurer is trying to do in terms of the budget is to maintain services, create jobs, help out the construction industry.
It says here under (c), the loss of jobs, "60,000 jobs in the construction industry." What do you think that figure would be if we hadn't made the commitment to capital in the budget in terms of housing and the other services that are going to be built, that are going to keep people working and make jobs for other people?
This government has been proactive in dealing with the worst recession since the 1930s. It has provided leadership and management. We have also been future-looking in terms of the industrial strategy, in terms of setting up a formal training and adjustment board, in terms of apprenticeship programs, and in terms of many other initiatives that this government is taking to change the economy, to make it stronger, to help us up build the partnerships that work together so we can go forward.
As this recession draws to an end and as we get economic recovery, this province is going to be in better shape because of the things this government has done in terms of creating partnerships for future economic renewal.
Mrs Dianne Cunningham (London North): It's with pleasure that I speak for a couple of minutes to this motion this afternoon.
First of all, directing my comments to the member for Algoma, when we're talking about private enterprise and start using specifics in the House, everyone would agree that private enterprise needs a lot of lead time to get established. So I take objection to the example he used of Ford Motor Co, which I think worked with the Liberal government before your time. Now, they have decided to stay, and that's a good thing; I hope they do stay. But I don't think you should take all the credit for that for your government. I just point that out.
The minister's own words on job creation were "short-term efforts" -- I believe I'm being fair -- when he talked about the summer jobs for youth in social services, some 5,500, and the Jobs Ontario capital, some 10,000 new jobs. I'm using his numbers. We haven't seen the statistics on whether these jobs became reality this summer, and I'm looking forward to seeing that.
But I will say in the meantime that I noted with interest that he used the words "short-term efforts," and that's not a long-term solution for Ontario. We do need summer jobs, but we also need them provided by the private sector, and they were down considerably this summer due to the economic circumstances in our province.
I'd also like to point to the comments from the member for Scarborough-Agincourt as he bragged about the Liberals increasing -- I think he said it was the only government in the last 20 years which had a billion-dollar surplus. Well, the statistics are simply this: When the Liberals were in government, the debt to the future of this province, to the young people of this province, increased by almost $10 billion. That debt, in their short term of office, went from $32.9 billion to $42.3 billion. In just two years of this NDP government, the debt in Ontario, in two budgets, has gone from $42.3 billion to $62.75 billion.
I got myself elected because I wanted to be the guardian of the public purse in this province. I thought that was my responsibility. I sit here now watching this thing climb by $10 billion a year. For any one of us to stand and brag about a billion-dollar surplus, I'm sure even the member for Algoma would think that was irresponsible, given the track record of the last decade. We have to do better.
In closing, I'd like to speak to the member for Oxford. He talked about the government being proactive. It is any government's responsibility to create a climate for government, business and labour to work together to provide jobs in this province. The number one concern of the people watching us this afternoon is that they don't have jobs and that their children don't have jobs. They really do want to work.
To stand here and moan about what happened in the past is not helpful. We're all here together to make things better. We put this motion on the floor today because we really think this government does not have a plan to solve the economic problems of this province. We are watching this government take us and plan to take us into debt by more than $10 billion a year each year.
I can't see why the government shouldn't recognize what we in opposition are trying to do, and that's to say, "Put your plan for prosperity on the table so the private sector will work in a climate that supports you." They can start by withdrawing at least one of the principles behind Bill 40: They should never say that any company would not be able to replace workers who are on strike so it can keep its business going. It's a principle the public and private sectors need to hear in these times. They should seriously consider and then remove that certain portion of Bill 40, because that is the one that is giving people most trouble, and that's the one that doesn't encourage business to move into this province.
I'm going to stop now by saying just one thing. I do think this government is irresponsible, that it doesn't have a plan and doesn't know where it's going. It is totally out of control. I will be voting in favour of this motion this afternoon.
Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): I'm honoured to be able to speak to this motion today, but not particularly happy with the motion, Mr Harris's want of confidence motion number 2. I'm going to say at the onset of my delivery that I will not be supporting it.
I want to speak for a few minutes about some of the history of the political parties in Ontario. Mr Harris alluded to the history that the premiers of the past have done such a remarkable and great job for this province. I can't say I agree entirely. I would say it's been a cumulative incompetence over a number of years that has brought us to the situation we find ourselves in today. It hasn't happened overnight. It's been a cumulative thing, and past governments have not been as great as Mr Harris would like us to believe.
Some of the rhetoric we've heard from Mr Harris, the leader of the third party, and some of the other opposition members is the sort of thing that, in my opinion, is fearmongering. The thing that really concerns me is the fact that I think some of the rhetoric we've heard today may very well be the sort of thing the opposition members really believe. That's what's frightening.
The Acting Speaker (Mr Dennis Drainville): Order.
Mr Johnson: The leader of the third party spoke about the loss of jobs. He said that 500 jobs a day are being lost in the province of Ontario. I would pose a question to him. Of course, he's not here now, unfortunately, but I would pose the question to him: Why is that? Some of the rhetoric and fearmongering I was referring to is the fact that the members of the third party and the members of the official opposition have said that it is because of the New Democratic Party being in government in the province of Ontario that these jobs are leaving or that we're losing these jobs, to the tune of 500 daily.
There are many reasons why there are jobs being lost in this province, and the fact that the New Democratic Party is now the government of Ontario is not one of those reasons. There are many reasons. Some of those reasons have to do with the federal government. Free trade, for example, has really undermined the manufacturing base in the province of Ontario. Indeed, in my town of Napanee, just in the month of August, Emerson Electric changed its status from a manufacturing plant to a warehousing plant. Unfortunately, what that means is that in Napanee, my community of 4,800 people, there is a loss of 140 jobs.
Let me be fair. That's not just because of free trade. It has a lot to do with the economy and the fact that this plant was producing more electric motors than could be sold during this very difficult time. However, because of the free trade agreement, the head office or the main plant in the United States said: "We'll close down that plant in Canada, because we have a plant in the United States that can manufacture those motors. We'll make it a warehouse and we can service Canada from Napanee." Unfortunately, that's been to the detriment of that community, which is in my constituency of Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings.
There are some other factors we have to take into consideration that influence what happens here in the province of Ontario, and these are factors that are governed by the federal government. Two of those factors that directly affect us are interest rates and the value of the dollar.
Mr Speaker, I'm sure you would agree that just this past week we saw interest rates go up 2%, and don't think I wasn't surprised, because I was planning to look into reamortizing my mortgage. Unfortunately, I may just wait a little longer now in hopes that these rates come down.
Certainly, jobs are something that we want to see created. This government, through Jobs Ontario, for example, has encouraged the private sector to invest in training, to invest in jobs through Jobs Ontario. It's a difficult time. The economy is particularly bad. It's the worst time the economy has experienced in nearly 60 years. I think we have to clearly understand that where we would encourage the private sector to invest in these jobs, it's having second thoughts. Without a doubt they're having second thoughts, but it has to do with the economy, it has to do with the reality of the situation of their investing and it has to do with the fact that in some areas there aren't a lot of opportunities for creating jobs. Even with this opportunity of taking advantage of the Jobs Ontario Capital fund, there's still some doubt out there within the economic community.
I must say very frankly that I did hear one of the speakers from the official opposition say that jobs were being maintained. I suggest that's not so bad. I mean, better to see jobs maintained than jobs lost altogether, and investments by this government in this province are certainly maintaining jobs in the province of Ontario.
I want to speak about another aspect of governments in days gone by and things they did years and years ago that are affecting us now today. Specifically, I'm talking about Ontario Hydro. We know that people today who are on fixed incomes and people who are on low incomes are very concerned about the cost this government and Ontario Hydro have to pay. Let me say that they're concerned. It isn't because of this government. It isn't because of something this government did. It's something that this government inherited. It inherited, as I said in the very beginning, the cumulative incompetence of past governments, and we have to deal with that today. Unfortunately, it's very difficult, because of the economy, because of the world situation that's affecting this province.
I just want to conclude by saying that I do not have a want of confidence in this government in the province of Ontario. I have every confidence in this government in the province of Ontario, and I do not support this motion.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate, the member for Lawrence.
Hon Mr Wildman: Oh, the Liberals are back.
Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): A brief interlude. I just wanted to give the government an opportunity to have more of a say than it normally would be accustomed to right after the Conservatives had their say. We provided them that opportunity in advance, so that's our gift to you, but let me get on to the subject at hand.
Confidence: That's really what we're talking about. I see the Treasurer is here today. Confidence is really the major issue of the day, not just for today but for the entire economy, for the people of this province. It's precisely for this reason that we're having this debate but precisely the reason we're having such difficulty overcoming our economic problems: the lack of confidence. It's a confidence motion we're dealing with, but the lack of confidence that exists out there in the economy is incredible.
Hon Mr Laughren: Where are you taking this?
Mr Cordiano: I say to the Treasurer, we have never seen such a lack of confidence before in this province. People are looking for a direction, a sense of where this jurisdiction is heading, a sense of purposefulness with respect to the economy. They're looking for answers. They're not getting those answers.
I say the government has a direction, a direction which it intends to go to. At times it's often difficult to define what that direction is, because the government seems to be somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand, they're opposed to Sunday shopping when they're in opposition, and then they turn around and say, "We're going to have a free vote in the House, because that reflects today's reality."
Hon Mr Wildman: Flexibility.
Mr Cordiano: "Flexibility," the member opposite says. Well, that's fine. That's good. But why not have that flexibility with respect to a number of other issues, such as Bill 40, which a lot of thoughtful people have said requires flexibility in order to make it work? In order to support this legislation, a variety of people have said: "Let's have some flexibility built into the legislation. Let's allow for some middle ground." You see this repeatedly with this government, that there is very little flexibility once it makes up its mind. In fact, in a variety of areas we have yet to see a consultation process which works, which is much more extensive with regard to a variety of areas.
Hon Mr Wildman: This is the most extensive consultation process any government has ever had.
Mr Cordiano: Well, you're brought through it kicking and screaming. To get people's views takes an enormous amount of effort on this side to allow for people to have their say. I know on casino gambling, which has just been introduced, a reversal once again of this party's true purpose, a reversal of fundamental beliefs that were held --
Hon Mr Laughren: No.
Mr Cordiano: Don't say no, Mr Treasurer, because I know that this is a discussion your leader had when he was in opposition with respect to the position he took at that time. It's diametrically opposed with respect to casino gambling -- everything that it stands for.
Hon Mr Laughren: I don't remember that.
Mr Cordiano: Oh, in a variety of speeches. I was looking through Hansard to try and bring out some of those things at the last minute here.
Hon Mr Laughren: You couldn't find them, could you?
Hon Mr Wildman: Give one date.
Hon Mr Laughren: Name names.
Hon Mr Wildman: Take a chance.
Mr Cordiano: I'm going to bring that out in another opportunity when we'll have the opportunity to discuss casino gambling at another time when your minister introduces the casino act, which I'm sure is going to be brought forward in this House not too much in the distant future.
Mr Mahoney: You guys would have been apoplectic if we'd introduced casinos. I can just hear you.
The Acting Speaker: Order.
Mr Cordiano: But I think it's important to say that the government really doesn't have a sense of where it's going. It's flip-flopping all over the place with respect to its character. It doesn't have a character. It doesn't have a sense of principle.
Hon Mr Laughren: That hurts, coming from a Liberal.
Mr Cordiano: Well, for those people who were in opposition prior to the last election, who claimed they had principles that they long held, beliefs and values which were long held -- I recall the auto insurance debate which was conducted over two elections. I remember the positions taken at the time by the Treasurer who sits here today and by his colleague, the critic at the time, who's no longer in the cabinet but is still a critic of this government.
I say to the Treasurer that these are irreconcilable positions. They can bring forward legislation that says, "We're going to have Sunday shopping." They're going to bring legislation -- they allowed for auto insurance to remain intact although there are changes and reforms in Bill 164 and we'll discuss those, I believe, tomorrow or the next day.
I say to the members opposite, to the government, that you've lost your sense of purpose. What's worse is that the economy doesn't have a sense of direction. There is nothing leading or pointing to the creation of more jobs. There is nothing to instil confidence, nothing that you've done with your game plan in your last budget with respect to the announcements that have been made by a variety of ministers. There's nothing to point to a new sense of direction in the future for this province. That is of fundamental importance.
We should be having a great deal of debate on this. In fact, I would ask the Treasurer today to perhaps appoint a committee that would look at the economy, at areas -- and make it an all-party committee, not just a committee --
Hon Mr Wildman: We have one.
Mr Cordiano: Yes, that's in the Legislature, but have a committee go across the province at this time and point out some directions that might be useful for us to take. Then listen to what's being said out there because you have failed to do that; you haven't really done that. You haven't heard people say that this labour legislation is going to be a problem; that the tax measures you've introduced are definitely a problem, that they are inhibiting business out there; that job creation is not occurring because of enormous barriers that have been placed. Perhaps you might say they were there before. Fine. Let's look at working through those barriers. Let's look at working around them. Let's look at putting together a plan that may work, that may entice business to this province and entice people to invest their money here. It's not happening.
In spite of the minister's brave words -- the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology stands up on occasion to announce that there have been X number of jobs created. Five hundred jobs a day are being lost in this province and the number of bankruptcies continues to go on unabated. Those are serious figures. Quite frankly, there is no confidence in this House. The confidence isn't in this House and it isn't out there in the province. The people of this province have very little confidence.
It's up to the government, it's up to those people on that side of the House to start working towards creating a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, a sense of optimism. That's what we call on you to do. You've failed to do that to this point and for that reason I support the motion of non-confidence.
The Acting Speaker: Further debate?
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): First of all I want to compliment the leader of our party, Mr Michael Harris, for bringing forward this motion and giving us an opportunity to speak on one of the most important subjects that confronts Ontario today.
There isn't any doubt that in spite of the fact that we've got a constitutional debate raging and garbage dumps bothering people in Markham, the single largest issue that concerns everybody in this province right now is jobs and the economy, not only for themselves but their children and their families. There isn't a person in this province who doesn't know someone else who is facing severe hardship because of the lack of jobs and the lack of opportunity.
By having this motion today, I know Mr Harris has done us all a favour to focus our attention on this important subject, because when we came back to the Legislature the New Democrats didn't have any new, fresh statement to make on the economy or providing jobs. The best they've done is provide a few casino jobs for the gamblers down in Windsor. But as far as coming down with a concrete set of proposals that will lead this province into the future with confidence is concerned, a sense of going somewhere and with balance, this government has shown ultimate failure in everything it's done.
There are four elements to Mr Harris's motion which I think are really valid. The first is that investors are discouraged and so are consumers. This government has caused investors to move their money elsewhere, outside of the province of Ontario, and rather than bring their money here, they are looking elsewhere. I know of examples out west and down east, because that's what's happened. Therefore, bring back that confidence for the investor community.
The next point is that they have punished taxpayers. Taxpayers were punished quite a bit by the Liberals beforehand, but the punitive methods of taxation that the NDP has brought in, hurting all levels, are just another example where the taxpayers are having to pay out again and again and again. We are the most heavily taxed jurisdiction, and we shouldn't be. What's happening now is that we're just turning off people. They're saying: "Why live in Ontario? I think I'll move somewhere else." That's tragic. They've built their lives, they've built their homes, they've established their families and their businesses in this province, and this government is driving them out. Mr Harris has touched on that one.
He's also added in this motion the business about the provincial debt. How terrible to live beyond our means the way this government is doing it. The honourable Treasurer really isn't showing the kind of leadership with government spending by allowing spending to continue to increase and allowing the deficit to continue to increase. He doesn't even know how to put together a budget that honestly reflects the needs of the province because we're spending beyond our means, and that is indeed one of the main issues behind this non-confidence vote.
Then what we have is this fourth point in Mr Harris's motion, "creating an environment hostile to the private sector." There isn't a business person in this province who doesn't feel absolutely put down by the New Democrats, by their labour legislation, by the way in which they're coming out with policies and plans. It shows an utter disregard for a balanced economy, for people out there trying to start up a business.
There isn't any doubt that every one of us in this House has an opportunity to show leadership. I would hope that today the New Democrats will look at themselves and realize that this is an opportunity for them to start coming clean with the province. If you don't vote for this motion, maybe you can begin to start changing your policies so that we have a happier and brighter future for the province of Ontario.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): I thank the honourable member for Markham for his contribution to the debate and recognize the member for Mississauga West.
Mr Mahoney: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I'm pleased to join in this debate and to tell you right off the bat that I'll be supporting the motion. Actually, it's the first time I've seen a Tory non-confidence motion that didn't somehow, in a backhanded way, bash the former Liberal government, so we're able to stand up and say, for once, they're making sense and for once they're being just a little moderate in putting forward the real concern, which is how this government is reacting or not reacting to the current economic crisis that we face.
What I find most interesting is that this becomes a case of accusations and defence on the part of the government. To hear the Minister of Natural Resources actually stand up and start shouting about investments in this province in the automotive industry, which he knows full well occurred before this government took power, and in fact the infrastructure was put in place by the former Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.
Hon Mr Laughren: No.
Hon Mr Wildman: No.
Mr Mahoney: You can try to take the credit if you want. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool us, folks. We know for a fact that those commitments were already on the books.
To stand up and try to pretend there's nothing wrong is just mind-boggling; it really is. It's mind-boggling. Talk to the people. Go back to your constituencies, and I realize that many of your offices aren't open full-time, and talk to the people who have been laid off. Talk to the people who are out of work. They don't understand how a government minister or representative can stand up and pretend everything is all right.
We know there are over 500 people a day losing their jobs in this province, yet what does this government do as far as an economic strategy is concerned? They appoint the guy who ran the last campaign to head the civil service. David Agnew gets a nice, big plum of a job. We all know that he's an NDP party hack, albeit with some talent, but a purely political instrument within this government gets moved to the head of the civil service. Do you think that is sending any kind of message of confidence?
Mr Mahoney: You can applaud if you want. Is it sending any kind of message of confidence to the community at large, to the people in Ontario? They look at it and go, "Wasn't it Bob Rae who used to stand over here and shout from this side of the House at the Tories and the Liberals about" -- what did he call it? -- "pork-barrelling?" Treasurer, there's no room left in the barrel. You guys have invented a whole new system to put all your pals in positions. You know the problem? We're going to get stuck with having to pay the severance tab to get rid of these guys.
Mr Stockwell: Don't worry about it.
Mr Mahoney: No, listen, I'm rooting for your guy to be Leader of the Opposition. I think he should move up one notch into second place. That would be fine. We'll put these people into third where they truly belong and we'll bring some common sense back.
So they put David Agnew in charge of the civil service. That's scary. That sends a message out there. The Premier was quoted as having said, "We want him there so that we can fulfil the agenda of this government." Replace the word "government" with "party."
We even had one or two rebels today asking questions in this House. It was interesting to hear the member for Welland-Thorold ask the minister of casinos if she had checked with the party. Imagine that: "Did you check with the rank and file in the party about this casino?" Not, "Did you check with the people of Ontario?" They don't understand that once you're elected you're required to deal with all of the people. In my riding I represent the New Democrats and the Conservatives and the apolitical people who live there.
Hon Mr Wildman: No, you don't.
Mr Mahoney: I sure do. I represent all of the people. That's what this government is supposed to do.
It was the Premier, when he came in all gushy and pink-faced, who said that finally it was a government that would represent all the people and yet we have a member of the back bench asking a cabinet minister if she checked with the rank and file of the party. You see, fundamentally that's the problem. The people of Ontario believe that you people are governing for the members of your party, the élite in the NDP. They think you're governing for the labour leaders in this province and they think that you're having your chain pulled by special interest groups.
They think that; we didn't have to tell them that, Bud. It was they who came and said: "Look, why are they doing this? Why are they introducing Bill 40 at a time of economic disaster? They stand up and talk about all this investment that's going on." Talk about the people over 50 who have lost their jobs. Talk about the people who can't make their mortgage payments. Talk about the people in this province who can't feed their kids. They were going to eliminate food banks. What have they done? They've institutionalized food banks. They've done absolutely everything opposite to what they had said.
We live in an atmosphere of crisis; they bring in Bill 40. Bill 80 is a bill that hasn't yet had much attention. It's very interesting how the Minister of Labour is trying to attack and take over some of the autonomy within the labour movement. Members within the labour movement are coming to us, saying, "We're upset about some aspects of Bill 40, but we're damn mad about Bill 80," and that's an issue that's going to come.
What we need to have from this government is some indication that it understands the severity of the economic crisis that we live in and some indication that it has just a modicum of ability to try to deal with it.
The Speaker: I don't believe there is any more time remaining for the third party. The final speaker in this debate is the Treasurer.
Hon Mr Laughren: I always enjoy non-confidence motions. I sometimes think I enjoyed them more when I was placing them when I was in opposition. Nevertheless, I enjoy them because they do allow all members a chance to express their feelings about government. It's not very often that they put their thoughts into words about the good jobs we're doing. Surely, we can't be all bad. There are some things we've done that have been very good indeed.
I do think what needs to be put in perspective, however, is the state of the Ontario economy. Let's stop pretending, on all sides, that the problem of the recession is restricted to the province of Ontario. We all know that there are serious problems in Europe, there are serious problems in Japan, there are serious problems in the United States. So the exaggerated rhetoric, particularly of the third party, doesn't convince anybody of anything. Sure there are serious problems in this province, as there are in other jurisdictions. But we're going to work our way through it.
We know that there's uncertainty, partly because of what's gone on in Europe with the Maastricht treaty, the uncertainty around that. There's an election in the United States. Japan has had its problems. We've got a referendum coming up in the province of Ontario. So of course there's some uncertainty and of course we are in a recession that's the worst since the 1930s, but I haven't heard any fairminded person, any objective person, suggest that a recession that started in 1989 and 1990 was caused by a government that was elected in the latter part of 1990. I haven't heard any fairminded person say that.
Also, the leader of the third party who put this non-confidence motion forgot -- I'm sure he forgot. It had to be inadvertent that he didn't mention at all any federal policies that just might have had some bearing on the state of the Ontario economy. He forgot it entirely. No mention of the free trade agreement, no mention of the GST, no mention of the value of the dollar or interest rates in the last couple of years. He forgot. I think he needs a new speechwriter and he's got to get somebody besides Moe Mantha writing his speeches. I offer that advice to him.
There's no question that other jurisdictions comparable to Ontario have also had serious problems, whether it's the jurisdictions in the United States -- Michigan, New York, Massachusetts -- those places have had difficulty as well in proportion to their size to the problems that Ontario has had. So let's stop pretending that all the problems have found a home here in Ontario. It's not unique to this province.
We have indeed put in place some policies that will make us well placed as we come out of this recession and take part in the recovery in which Canada and Ontario are going to lead the industrialized world. Those are not my views. Those are the views of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. So we are going to be well placed and we are thinking ahead. We have put in place tax changes that will make sure that happens. Nobody mentioned the tax changes in the last budget which will encourage investment, research and development and innovation. Very clearly we made a very serious effort at that. We are putting a lot of money in training, almost $1 billion in training. That's a significant amount, a 24% increase over last year.
The motion put by the leader of the third party talks about policies that have discouraged investors and consumers. The members opposite can say that some of these decisions were made before. Of course, they were made before now but those decisions could have been reversed too, but were they? No. Ford Motor, $1 billion in Windsor, $500 million in Oakville; Sandoz, $14 million for expansion. It goes on and on and on. There is major investment being made in this province despite the exaggerated rhetoric of the opposition.
So let's put it all in perspective. This is still the best place anywhere to live, work and, dare I say it, play.
The leader of the third party says that we punish taxpayers by imposing multibillion-dollar tax grabs. I don't know of any other government that in a time of recession would have put the investment into the preservation of essential services in health care, education and social services that this government has. No other government would have done that.
At the same time the opposition says that we've spent too much and taxed too much, but they keep demanding more themselves. And then, to top it all off, the leader of the third party today stood in his place in his opening remarks and said we have a $1.2-billion stabilization claim owing to us under the fiscal arrangements with the federal government. The leader of the third party says, "Don't ask for it." Don't ask for that which you are entitled, despite the cutbacks.
Mr Harris: It's not what I said.
Hon Mr Laughren: That is absolutely what the member said. He's making fun of us for making demands for what we are entitled to.
When I think of what the federal government has done to transfer payments to the province of Ontario, with its cap on CAP and its restrictions on established programs funding, for the leader of the third party to defend the Mulroney Tories in Ottawa by saying we are not entitled to that claim is simply outrageous. He owes the taxpayers of this province an apology for that comment. Absolutely.
The leader of the third party says that we're anti-business. What a ludicrous charge to say that we are anti-business. We have put in place more pro-business programs than he would ever, ever be aware of. I understand that. But the leader of the third party says we're being hostage to special interest groups. Do you know who the leader of the third party thinks we're being held hostage by, these special interest groups? I assume he means women, minorities, working people and the business community.
I have never in my 20 years here heard such anti-worker diatribes as I've heard from the third party in the last year. The leader of the third party disguises his anti-worker diatribe by pretending it's against unions. Unions represent ordinary working people out there. Stop pretending that these are not attacks on ordinary working women in this province of Ontario, because that's exactly what they are. That message will not be lost on ordinary folks out there across this province either. They know who you're really attacking.
I wish I had more time, but I can tell you that this government has struggled, along with a lot of people in the province of Ontario. I can tell you that we have confidence in the province of Ontario and the ability of the business community and the people in this province to return all of us to a prosperous and equitable tomorrow.
I encourage all members, especially the members of the official opposition, to reconsider their position on this non-confidence motion and realize that what we've done in this province by making a firm commitment to job creation and to preserving essential services is the best that can be expected of any government in difficult times.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): It's my understanding that the mover of the motion usually has some time to wrap up. Is it not now time for the leader of the third party to counter some of those --
The Speaker: For another day, on another occasion. You were right on the rules earlier, but not on this one.
The division bells rang from 1755 to 1800.
The Speaker: Would all members please take their seats.
Mr Elston: Mr Speaker, could you read the motion, please, because I --
The Speaker: You want the motion read?
Mr Elston: Yes, please, Mr Speaker.
The Speaker: The motion before the House is want of confidence motion number 2. It's standing in the name of Mr Harris:
"That this House, noting that since this government has taken office it has pursued policies which have discouraged investors and consumers and punished taxpayers and which have compounded rather than ameliorated the economic problems facing the province by imposing multibillion-dollar tax grabs, by adding billions to the provincial debt, by pursuing an anti-business agenda as expressed through its biased and unbalanced labour law reforms, by creating an environment hostile to the private sector and by showing itself to be hostage to the special interest groups as opposed to an advocate for the public interest, and further noting since this government took office two years ago:
(a) that more than 290,000 additional Ontario workers have been forced on to unemployment,
(b) that the unemployment rate has increased by more than five percentage points,
(c) that 86,000 jobs in manufacturing, 60,000 jobs in the construction industry and 24,000 jobs in the trade sector have vanished,
(d) that the welfare case load has increased to the point where today more than one million Ontarians depend on welfare,
finds that this government is incapable of managing the economy of the province in a manner which will create new jobs, new opportunities and lower taxes and therefore this government lacks the confidence of this House."
Will those members who are in support of the motion please rise one by one.
Ayes -- 31
Arnott, Callahan, Carr, Cordiano, Cousens, Cunningham, Curling, Eddy, Elston, Eves, Grandmaître, Harris, Henderson, Jackson, Mahoney, Mancini, Marland, McGuinty, McLean, Miclash, Morin, Murdoch (Grey), O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau), Phillips (Scarborough-Agincourt), Poirier, Ramsay, Runciman, Sterling, Stockwell, Turnbull, Wilson (Simcoe West).
The Speaker: Those opposed to Mr Harris's motion will please rise one by one.
The Speaker: Order. Will the member for Rainy River please take his seat.
Mr Elston: Mr Speaker, I noted that the Attorney General was on his feet when you called for those in support of the motion. He must be counted as having been in support of the motion.
The Speaker: No. The member was not in his seat.
The Speaker: Order. Would the member take his seat, please. As always, as is my custom, I look to both sides of the House to see if any member is supporting "yes" or "no." I did look to this side. The member in question, while standing, was out of his seat and therefore is not entitled to a vote. He has now properly resumed his seat and I am asking for those who are opposed to the motion. We'll continue with the vote.
Nays -- 67
Abel, Akande, Allen, Bisson, Boyd, Buchanan, Carter, Charlton, Christopherson, Churley, Cooke, Cooper, Coppen, Drainville, Duignan, Farnan, Ferguson, Fletcher, Frankford, Gigantes, Grier, Haeck, Hampton, Hansen, Harrington, Haslam, Hayes, Hope, Huget, Johnson, Klopp, Kormos, Lankin, Laughren, Lessard, MacKinnon, Malkowski;
Mammoliti, Marchese, Martel, Martin, Mathyssen, Mills, Morrow, North, O'Connor, Owens, Perruzza, Pilkey, Pouliot, Rizzo, Silipo, Sutherland, Swarbrick, Ward (Brantford), Ward (Don Mills), Wark-Martyn, Waters, Wessenger, White, Wildman, Wilson (Frontenac-Addington), Wilson (Kingston and The Islands), Winninger, Wiseman, Wood, Ziemba.
The Speaker: Pursuant to standing order 33, the question that this House do now adjourn is deemed to have been made.
The member for Lawrence served notice that he was dissatisfied with the answer to his question which he posed to the Minister of Energy.
The Speaker: I'm sorry; it's the member for Ottawa South. The member might wish to wait just a few seconds until the calm has taken over. Then he has up to five minutes for his presentation, and the Minister of Energy has up to five minutes for his response.
The Speaker: Order.
Mr Elston: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I realize that members do not want to listen to this late show, that there's been almost a total lack of interest in the real story going on around here, but to have people assembling around the table, it seems to me, when they should get out of here if they don't want to listen, is a little bit too difficult. It's a five-minute speech that's coming on, and a five-minute defence. Let's listen to it.
The Speaker: To the member for Bruce, he will note that I allowed a little bit of time before so that the member isn't penalized. Indeed his request, I think, has been met. The member now has five minutes.
ONTARIO HYDRO PRESIDENT
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I want to take this opportunity to raise a number of issues of concern to me, to my colleagues and I'm sure to the people of this province. This is a very serious matter, and I want to allow, as well, the minister an opportunity to try to explain some of the incongruities which have become so apparent to us over the last few days as a result of questions and responses in this House, as a result of articles appearing in the newspapers.
If I could list the sequence of important facts in this case again, first of all, some time prior to the minister writing a letter on September 16, he had a discussion with the chairman of Ontario Hydro, Marc Eliesen. We have not yet been made privy to what took place in that discussion, but in any event, something prompted this letter and the letter was sent. With respect to the letter dated September 16, 1992, signed by the minister, it's directed to Marc Eliesen and it indicates that it was written in order to follow up on a discussion. It speaks specifically about selecting a new president and chief operating officer.
It is simply impossible to talk about selecting a new president and not, by logical inference, be talking about getting rid of the old president. The logical inference is that Holt was going. Also, the minister indicated in his letter that this was to be raised in a timely way, so there was obviously some sense of urgency to this matter. Then there was the board meeting of Friday, September 25. All the directors attended that meeting, save for Mr Holt, who was away in Spain.
The minister may not be aware of this, but there were two resolutions put forward at that meeting. One was that Mr Holt be suspended immediately and that the board enter into negotiations for his termination; secondly, that Mr Eliesen be given authority to appoint an acting president. There was a heated debate that followed. Many of the members felt that Mr Holt should be given an opportunity to respond to the discussion that was ongoing, but he was away in Spain and it was impossible for him to do that. He was unaware of what was going on.
The letter was used for two purposes: first of all, to reveal to the board members how it was that the minister felt, that Mr Holt had to go; secondly, for the purpose of influencing the directors into firing Mr Holt. The letter met with success in that regard. In fact, at the end of the day when a vote was taken, the result was seven to five in favour of firing Mr Holt. Of course, the deputy minister who was there as a result of this government's changes to the Power Corporation Act through Bill 118 was present and oversaw all of this, and of course it was his solemn duty to report to the minister on what it was he saw there at the time.
Then, on September 30 in this Legislature, the minister tells us that he had no input into the actions of the board when they fired the president on September 25. It's only reasonable to assume that the deputy minister had reported to the minister by that time. Surely the deputy minister would have reported that the president and chief operating officer had been fired prior to this point. If the deputy minister didn't report this, then he, himself, should be dismissed.
Also on September 30, an article in the Toronto Sun reveals to us that the minister did not know -- he says he did not know -- that the he had suddenly departed from Ontario Hydro, to use the wording that's found in this article. Secondly, he maintained that Mr Holt was retiring and was not fired.
There are some matters here which are difficult to reconcile, and I'll put these to the minister.
First of all, he did not have any input to the board. How does he reconcile that with the fact that he had earlier sent a letter to the board which was in fact used to fire the president? That letter spoke of a new president, and by implication that meant the existing president had to go.
Secondly, he subsequently said that he was unaware of Holt's departure, but his deputy minister had been present at the board meeting some four days earlier.
Thirdly, he contends that Holt was not fired, but there had been a resolution introduced. There was a vote. Holt was in Spain at the time. The man was fired. The deputy minister was there and he either told the minister that he was there or he did not.
The Speaker (Hon David Warner): The member's time has expired.
Mr McGuinty: In either case, the minister has a problem. How do we reconcile those?
The Speaker: The Minister of Energy has up to five minutes for a response.
Hon Brian A. Charlton (Minister of Energy): There has been a fair bit of discussion here in the House today about integrity. The member for Ottawa South stood in this House this afternoon and talked about how, "I want to lay down the facts for all to know." The Leader of the Opposition stood in her place in this House and made accusations which are not factual. The member for Lanark-Renfrew stood in his place in this House and made accusations which are not factual.
Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): And he got tossed out.
Hon Mr Charlton: And the member for Ottawa South is in fact doing the same thing here this evening.
Mr Bill Murdoch (Grey): They tossed the wrong person out.
The Speaker: Order.
Hon Mr Charlton: I'd like to lay out a sequence of events which are factual and to address the question of the letter to which the member refers and others have referred here in the House, and to address that letter as clearly as I can.
Firstly, prior to September 16, in a discussion with the chair of Ontario Hydro, I was informed about a number of matters that would be going to the board, including a range of succession issues, management issues and operational issues, which included the question of the presidency of Ontario Hydro. Those were issues that the management at Hydro, the chair at Hydro, already intended to deal with at the board at Hydro.
Having had that discussion, as I said here this afternoon both in the House and outside to the media, because of a circumstance we had a year and a half ago that members will recall was raised here in the House as well, I thought it was in the best interests of the people of this province and the crown corporation known as Ontario Hydro that the new chair, if and when he or she is appointed, has some ability to have discussion with the board of Ontario Hydro about the president.
It's been suggested that I wrote this letter to direct the board. The members are all fully aware that in Bill 118 this government clearly sets out the process by which the minister, the government, directs Ontario Hydro by order in council. This minister wrote this letter and very purposely included in the letter the last paragraph on the first page, which clearly sets out the board's authority, and only the board's authority, to deal with the question of the president.
If I was intending to force a decision on the board by this letter, why would I bother to take the time to point out to the board that it was its authority and its alone to deal with the question of the president? The reality is that the people of Ontario are interested in real facts, not accusations that aren't correct about firings that never occurred.
On September 28, after the board meeting, my deputy and the chair of Hydro both informed me that they had been given authorization by the board to begin discussions with the president about retirement. That's the only authority I'm aware of that was granted at that board meeting. In spite of what the member for Ottawa South, the Leader of the Opposition and the member for Lanark-Renfrew say, Mr Holt has not been fired by the board of Ontario Hydro by any motion or any vote.
Mr Murdoch: How big a hole are you going to dig? You don't need to dig that big a hole.
Mr Murray J. Elston (Bruce): Has anybody got a bigger shovel?
Mr Murdoch: He doesn't need a bigger shovel.
The Speaker: Order, member for Grey.
Hon Mr Charlton: The role of this minister and the role of this government is responsibility for Ontario Hydro. We have difficult circumstances to face at Ontario Hydro as we move into the future, circumstances around rates, circumstances around a huge list of capital issues that have to be resolved in terms of expenditures and the impact of those on rates, and it is our responsibility to attempt to ensure that the management team of Ontario Hydro is capable of working together in the most effective way possible to deal with those issues. My letter to the board was about the process, not the board's decision to deal with the question of the president.
The Speaker: There being no further matter to be debated, I deem the motion to adjourn to have been carried. This House stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 1819.