Mr Fenson: Of the 727 regulations made for 1989, 13 have been reported. It is a smaller percentage than has been usual in the past. The violations have been against three of the nine guidelines, the three which come up in most reports. They are cases of regulations not being made in precise, non-ambiguous language, of regulations having retrospective effect without the retrospectivity being authorized by the statute or of regulations not being made in strict accord with the statute conferring power.
In the past it has been the custom of the committee to look at the report, ask questions, give instructions as to changes and then, when it is satisfied, table it. I have usually not had very much to explain in the past, but I will be glad to answer any questions you may have now or at a future meeting. I have also, as I usually do, provided the clerk with copies of the entire correspondence involved in the making of this report. Any regulation that is mentioned here was the subject of a letter that I wrote to the legal department of the ministry concerned, and in all cases but one I got written responses about the regulations I made inquiries about. All the letters to and from the ministries are available to you. The clerk will be happy to give you sets if you would like to look at those. They will also give you an idea of the kinds of explanations that seem to clear away problems I thought there may have been with some regulations. Regulations do sometimes get looked at by the courts and I think we are increasingly going to see regulations or parts of regulations attacked on constitutional grounds.
So far -- at least in the past few years -- no regulations have been cited in the report on constitutional grounds, though in the correspondence you will find at least one where I raised constitutional questions that may interest the committee. But in the end I am recommending only 13 for reporting. When the committee has had a chance to look at the report, I will return and answer any questions you may have.
Mr Fenson: I did not choose them because they were important points of law. I chose them because they violated, sometimes in some technical way and sometimes in some substantive way, the guidelines. They are not always stirring issues. One regulation which I did not report but which I queried on constitutional grounds had to do with rules concerning behaviour of people visiting provincial parks. There is a regulation which said they may not behave in any way which would attract crowds, may not assemble and may not make political statements. I raised that as a possible violation of certain freedoms guaranteed in the charter. As it happens, I do not think there are any real stirring issues in any of the regulations reported.
Mr J. Wilson: If, for instance, you had a very strong belief that there was a regulation passed that was unconstitutional or could be deemed unconstitutional, albeit the intention was good, what recourse would you have?
Mr Fenson: I would make an inquiry of the ministry. If I were satisfied that there was an outstanding issue, I would recommend that the committee report it as not being in strict accord with the statute conferring power. But I should say that the standing orders empowering this committee to report regulations says that the opinions of the committee are not supposed to deal with the merits of the policy or the objectives to be affected by the regulation but simply with whether they violate the nine listed guidelines in standing order 104. In the course of reading the year's regulations, I am struck by many interesting issues which simply do not come under the jurisdiction of the committee.
Mr Fenson: Before they are made, regulations go through the cabinet committee on regulations. I imagine those issues are dealt with either at the stage where the ministry itself is initially making the regulation or at the cabinet committee. Those matters are dealt with and resolved before the regulation is made. This committee has no jurisdiction over regulations until the regulations are actually made and in effect.
I look only at regulations that have already been published in the Ontario Gazette and have been through ministries' legal departments, the cabinet regulations committee and, furthermore, the scrutiny of the registrar of regulations, which is part of the office of legislative counsel and which also checks the regulations, I presume, against the guidelines that govern this committee. In effect, what this committee is doing is a second check of legislative counsel's work.
Legislative counsel has always been quite cordial and co-operative, considering there has not been a year when the committee has not reported regulations. The policy issues are really not under the purview of the committee and the regulation is already engraved in stone by the time the committee is looking at it. What the committee can do is simply report its view to the House that the regulation violates one of the guidelines.
Mr Fenson: This committee used to hire outside counsel. The counsel work for the committee with regard to the regulations was recently given to the legislative research office. We are just picking it up and catching up. I expect to give the committee a draft report on the 1990 regulations later in the fall, and by spring I expect to have brought us up to the end of 1991.
The Chair: The Clerk has received a letter from the city of Toronto requesting that Bill Pr1, An Act respecting the City of Toronto, be withdrawn. Is it the pleasure of the committee that I report to the House the committee's recommendation that the bill not be reported, it having been withdrawn by the applicant?
Clerk of the Committee: Bill Pr1 had to do with leghold traps. Apparently some changes were made in government regulation that have satisfied the city of Toronto that it no longer requires specific authority to regulate the use of leghold traps.
Clerk of the Committee: The letter requesting that the bill be withdrawn was received after the House went into the summer adjournment. This is the first opportunity to bring the city's request forward to the committee. If you require it, the committee could request that witnesses from the city come before the committee at a subsequent meeting to explain the request. I did not ask them to come because I assumed the committee would have no problem with withdrawing the bill.
Mr Ruprecht: No, that is not necessary. I was not sure that Bill Pr1 was concerned with leghold traps. I thought Pr1 was giving the city extra power to eliminate weeds from boulevards next to highways. That is what made me think about this. Do we have this before us right now or is this just a request that came to you verbally?
Clerk of the Committee: The bill was introduced and referred to the committee. I am not sure of the exact date it was introduced. It received first reading and was referred to the committee but has never been dealt with since its introduction. I believe the city does have another application regarding weeds on boulevards, but it is not Pr1.
Clerk of the Committee: At this point there are not enough bills ready to proceed before the committee to justify meeting next week. If it meets with the committee's satisfaction, I will try to schedule a number of bills for two weeks from today.