Mr. Speaker: I ask all members of the Legislative Assembly to join with me in recognizing and welcoming a delegation of six elected members of the National Assembly of France who are in the Speaker's gallery. They are visiting the Ontario Legislature during their stay in Canada. Our visitors met with several of our members during lunch today. Please welcome our guests.
Mr. Speaker: I also beg to inform the House that I have today laid upon the table the annual report of the Ombudsman of Ontario for 1984-85. For the information of all members, their copies are in their postal boxes.
Hon. Mr. Eakins: I rise today under unfortunate circumstances. We are saddened by the event that happened last night at Ontario Place. During the performance at the Forum by the Toronto Symphony of the 1812 Overture, a cannon, located in a cordoned-off area, fired prematurely and severely injured a member of the Toronto Historical Board's Fort York Guard.
The accident occurred when the young man, Michael Fuhrmann, was loading the cannon in preparation for a round of cannon effects that are a part of the overture. Mr. Fuhrmann lost a hand and was badly burned. He is at the Wellesley Hospital in serious condition.
Proper steps are being taken to establish the cause of this dreadful accident. Investigations are being conducted by the Metropolitan Toronto Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Toronto Historical Board, which operates the Fort York Guard. We can be assured that their investigations will be comprehensive.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I trust my colleagues have copies of the first statement at least. I apologize. Copies of the second will be coming as quickly as possible. There have been some fairly late developments.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: My first statement is with regard to Firestone Canada Inc. I wish to advise the House that on Tuesday, July 2, I was advised that Firestone Canada plans to lay off indefinitely up to 400 employees at its Hamilton plant, effective November 1, 1985.
This is a matter that causes me great concern and regret. My concerns will be shared, of course, by the employees affected by the cutback, as well as by the Hamilton community; indeed, it has ramifications for the province as a whole.
While I am hopeful that the layoffs will be short in duration, I cannot give any assurance in this regard until I have had an opportunity to explore the company's current situation in Hamilton as well as its long-term plans for that facility and its other plants in Ontario.
Consequently, I have made arrangements to meet with the senior officials of the company, including the chairman of the board, on Monday next. I have also invited to the meeting officials of the United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum and Plastic Workers of America, which represents the employees affected by the layoffs, as well as the members of this House from the Hamilton area.
At this meeting, we will be able to explore with the company the reasons for the layoffs, the prospects for recall and the adjustment measures that can be implemented for affected workers. Next week, I will report to the House the conclusions reached at this meeting.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: My second statement had been intended as an answer to a question asked by the member for Windsor-Riverside. Because of some developments I thought it would be appropriate to make a little more lengthy statement. On June 11 and again on July 1, the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke) raised questions concerning occupational health and safety issues at Valenite-Modco Inc. in Windsor. On July 2, I indicated I would be responding more fully today. Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like to do so now.
The health and safety conditions in this company have been the subject of considerable attention, both in the Legislature and in the media, over the past number of months. The essential concern has to do with exposure of workers to cobalt dust, as a result of the manufacturing of tungsten carbide products.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: With the indulgence of the former Minister of Labour, I indicated there have been some developments. As of two o'clock, we were just finishing running off copies. I will have them to members almost immediately at the conclusion, if that is agreeable to my colleagues.
As members know from previous exchanges, the company's plants in Windsor have been inspected by ministry officials since 1974. In the period between August 1974 and December 1984, a total of 26 orders was issued to the company during the course of some 28 visits. More recently, as a result of inspections in the early part of 1985, the ministry issued a very comprehensive order under section 20 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, requiring that the company take a number of specific initiatives to ensure that cobalt dust levels are reduced to acceptable levels.
I wish to advise the House that while the company is in substantial compliance with the order, as of noon today, certain segments of a new ventilation system in plant 3 are not fully installed. The ministry inspector is now in the plant to pursue this aspect of the matter. If it is found that the incomplete installation constitutes a violation of clause 5 of the section 20 order, the affected portions of the operation will be closed down immediately and not be permitted to operate until the installation is complete.
When he raised the matter on July 2, the member for Windsor-Riverside asked if the ministry intended to lay charges in connection with any aspect of this matter. As I indicated in my preliminary response, this issue has been under active review.
The legal issues involved are both important and complex, and, therefore, I have decided the matter should be referred to the Ministry of the Attorney General to ensure that all the relevant issues, legal as well as factual, are fully assessed in order that an informed decision can be made. I can assure all members that the matter will be considered fairly and objectively.
Further, in answer to the member's general question about the stance of this government with respect to vital issues of health and safety, I can assure him, without reservation or qualification, that I regard compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act as a first priority, perhaps the most important area of public administration for which I am responsible. I think it is essential that employers and workers throughout the province understand my commitment and determination in this regard.
Having said that, members will appreciate that it would be improper for me to comment further on the possibility of prosecution at this stage. As I have said, the matter is with the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) and I know he is aware of its importance. I will, of course, advise my friend when a decision has been made.
Today, I intend to outline to this Legislative Assembly how this government will proceed on this question. In particular, I want to remind all honourable members of the reasons committing us to the policy of full funding for the Roman Catholic secondary school system, and why we see a duty to proceed with this policy at this time.
As we all know, the proposal to extend public funds to enable the completion of the Roman Catholic secondary system beyond grade 10 has generated very considerable public debate. It is now time to emphasize the common ground we share.
I remind all members of the rare unanimity of the parties represented in this assembly which converted this historic initiative into today's reality. In proposing the extension of funding as it did, the government of William Davis made it possible for this province to move forward with this reform in relative harmony and without political division. For all of us, the words of that promise were clear. As the former Premier said in this place over one year ago, on June 12, 1984, "While men and women of courage and conviction have been divided on this issue, up to now no Ontario government has felt it was able to discharge its duty" to provide "public funds to a complete Roman Catholic secondary school system." Mr. Davis went on, "I now believe this can be responsibly undertaken and, therefore, it is our obligation to resolve this issue."
Twelve months ago, the implementation of this policy was first begun with the establishment of the Commission for Planning and Implementing Change in the Governance and Administration of Secondary Education in Ontario. The work of this commission is well advanced.
I would like to take just a moment to congratulate William T. Newnham and others on that commission for the very excellent work they have performed on our behalf. As a result of that effort, 38 implementation plans have been recommended by the commission for approval for the 1985-86 school year.
In considering how to proceed with this decision, our government is aware of the equally pressing necessity to accommodate legitimate requests for meaningful and open discussion of the issues and concerns.
I know, as I know all members know, how deeply the concerns in this connection are felt and how deeply felt they have been for a long time. We all understand and want to react responsibly to those concerns.
There are two obligations the government must consider equally. First, there is the need to ensure full discussion, without an arbitrary deadline; second, there is the need to proceed with the extension of funding immediately because there are approximately 6,300 student transfers already registered in grades 9, 10 and 11 for the fall of 1985 and there are almost 300 teachers who are affected by this policy and by the related student transfers.
Since coming to office eight days ago, we have structured a legislative proposal which permits the logical completion of high school education for Roman Catholic students. It is a comprehensive framework for the further evolution of the dual system of publicly funded education in Ontario.
Reform is not always easy, but change has its own dynamic, and as we have seen over the past year, the Ontario education system can adjust to positive reform. In pursuing excellence in education, the separate and public school systems each has a distinct mission. Together, they must respond to public expectations about programs, access, standards and quality. Individually, they must nurture a particular set of constitutionally protected rights. Together, they provide Ontarians with a comprehensive educational system guaranteeing equality of opportunity for all our children.
The first principle is the need to protect the viability of the public secondary school system. Several provisions of the bill address this principle. Of particular importance are the expanded role and responsibilities of the planning and implementation commission. Not only will this body continue to examine carefully, year by year, the developing plans of separate school boards and their impact on the public system, but the commission will also be empowered to bring about resolution of disputes with respect to those plans.
Second, the spirit and the letter of the constitutional guarantees must be made explicit in our provincial legislation for education. Since there are those who believe the constitutional guarantees for Roman Catholic secondary education in this province are ambiguous, this bill will clarify the matter once and for all.
Third, in implementing this policy, the interests of students in all our schools must be first and foremost in our minds. A major provision of the bill deals with student access. The Roman Catholic community has already agreed that a positive position on this matter of access is both necessary and possible.
With this legislation, a student may choose to have access to either the public or the Roman Catholic secondary schools, subject only to the limitation of space being available. There are situations in which it will be necessary for a non-Roman Catholic student to attend a Roman Catholic secondary school because of availability of program, distance or mental or physical handicap. Under these conditions, an exemption from religious education must be granted by the board if requested. The details for these conditions will be defined during the consultation period ahead.
The fourth principle in this legislation is that there is to be no unemployment as a direct result of the policy regarding full funding. No teacher or other employee will lose his job as a result of this policy of full funding.
There are several provisions in this legislation covering different aspects of this issue that the government wishes to bring forward for consideration. These should now be scrutinized carefully by all concerned. These provisions will make up the guarantee of employment that the government will provide over the next 10 years. In this context, the role of the planning and implementation commission will continue to be central.
The fifth principle is that the distinctive mission of the Roman Catholic separate school system must be maintained. The application of this principle has already been discussed with respect to accessibility. The government sees the completion of funding as a major contribution to preserving the unique mission of the Roman Catholic secondary schools.
Finally, adequate provision must be made to ensure an orderly and cost-effective transition. On this point, I wish to reaffirm that effective use of available facilities is essential. As warranted, the public boards will be provided with additional provincial grants to offset specific costs related to the transfer of students.
Major changes in public policy are never achieved without discussion and accommodation, and rarely without controversy. Despite our best efforts, I recognize that not all people may agree to this proposed initiative. Nevertheless, our duty to proceed is clear. Therefore, this government is prepared to make procedural commitments leading to the resolution of all matters related to the implementation of full funding. It is the intention of the government to proceed immediately on each of these commitments.
Second, the bill will be referred immediately to the Ontario Court of Appeal, pursuant to the Constitutional Questions Act, so a ruling can be made as to the constitutional validity of the bill prior to its enactment and proclamation. While we believe this legislation is constitutional and appropriate, we acknowledge that some others do not share this opinion.
In addition, and to honour the commitments made in this House more than 380 days ago, I am announcing today that this government will proceed by way of amending the general legislative grant regulation to extend funds to eligible Roman Catholic school boards ready to proceed this fall. I want to make it very clear, however, that this is an interim measure to ensure that the education of approximately 6,300 students is not jeopardized while the legislative process moves forward.
Our concern here must be to protect students and teachers who have acted in good faith on the basis of a three-party commitment made in this House more than 380 days ago. As members of this assembly, we too must proceed in good faith. As we debate the issues addressed by this bill, I would not wish to impose any deadline. This funding arrangement, which I reiterate is an interim arrangement to deal only with the special circumstances of the situation we face for September 1985, allows public debate to proceed without penalizing thousands of young people.
I am advised by my colleague the Attorney General (Mr. Scott) that a decision on the constitutionality of the bill may be available later this year. It is unfortunate that some reference to the court could not have been made sooner.
Given the three-party commitment this House has made to Roman Catholic students, parents, trustees and boards, I trust the people of Ontario will see the necessity of this approach. It will enable the government to fulfil its commitment to make information public; to fulfil its commitment to an open and complete debate of the legislation in this House, in committee and across this province; to determine, before final passage, that the proposed legislation is constitutionally valid, and to keep the promise made more than 380 days ago to thousands of young people who are now standing by, ready to proceed with their education in Roman Catholic secondary schools this fall.
These, then, are our objectives. I want to make it clear that our resolve to meet them is firm. Reasonable and effective arrangements already have been made in communities all across this province. I am persuaded once again that the citizens of Ontario are an exemplary and generous people. They are now looking to us to resolve these outstanding and historic questions in an exemplary and responsible fashion.
I do not profess to know a great deal about the history of a lot of public policy, but this is an issue about which I do have some keen and personal appreciation. I am reminded, in this very brief aside for my friend the member for Bellwoods (Mr. McClellan), of all the history that has brought us to this very important day in the life of this Legislature.
At this moment in our history, therefore, it seems appropriate to recall the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who said, "So long as I have a seat in this House, so long as I occupy the position I do now, whenever it shall become my duty to take a stand on any question whatever, that stand I will take, not from the point of view of Roman Catholicism, not from the point of view of Protestantism, but from the point of view which can appeal to the consciences of all people irrespective of their particular faith...by all people who love justice, freedom and toleration."
This statement is made with considerable emotion. You will perhaps be interested to know, Mr. Speaker, that my great-grandfather introduced the Education Act of 1864, upon which the rights of Roman Catholics in this province to separate education have ever since depended. For me, it is an emotional and moving moment to be able to participate in this.
My statement follows upon that of my colleague the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), who has announced today the government's intention to introduce an amendment to the Education Act to provide for the full funding of separate secondary schools.
Members will recall that on Tuesday, the Premier (Mr. Peterson) said the government will follow three principles in implementing full funding of separate secondary schools: (1) full and open public hearings; (2) a reference to the courts to confirm the legislation's constitutionality, and (3) proceeding with funding this September to meet former Premier Davis's commitment to the children, parents and school boards that have already made plans respecting schooling this fall.
To meet our second commitment and to affirm this government's belief that the draft legislation is constitutional and meets the standards of the charter, I am pleased to announce that we have referred directly to the Ontario Court of Appeal the following question: Is Bill 30, An Act to amend the Education Act, inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of Canada, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and if so, in what particular or particulars and in what respect?
This reference will thus put before the Court of Appeal both the constitutional question and the proposed legislation which will be under consideration by this Legislature. We believe this process will meet the often-expressed concern of the courts about deciding complex constitutional questions without the benefit of the detailed framework which is provided by the bill.
We are also mindful of the fact that some citizens and groups have expressed their desire to debate the constitutionality of this legislation before the courts. A court application initiated by private parties would necessarily commence in a trial court and, in the ordinary course, would reach the Court of Appeal only after lengthy and potentially protracted proceedings. Consequently, there would be a lengthy period of uncertainty pending a final and authoritative ruling on the constitutional aspects of the legislation.
As a result of this reference, all those parties who hold a contrary view about the constitutionality of the legislation will have, in accordance with the rules of court, the opportunity to make a full and exhaustive presentation to the court.
It is not the government's present intention to call the bill for third reading until the Court of Appeal has made its decision. It is anticipated that the Court of Appeal will hear this case before the end of September. This is the earliest possible time for a full and complete hearing, taking into consideration the court's schedule and the need to give interested individuals and groups time to prepare their full written and oral submissions to the court.
For all of these reasons, we thought it desirable and prudent to facilitate the earliest possible resolution of any constitutional issues raised by the draft legislation, and to do so on the basis of the proposed enactment.
Hon. Mr. Conway: It is the intention of this government and its legislation to provide for parallel access for both kinds of students -- if I may use that phrase -- to both systems. The only limitation is that such access is to be provided where space is available.
Mr. F. S. Miller: That is a very important qualification. I point out that one system requires access for every student who applies, regardless of availability of space. I thus will have to extend my question; I need clarification on that.
Hon. Mr. Conway: The legislation that will be before the House in a very few moments says there is an entitlement for a non-Catholic to attend a Catholic secondary school, the only limitation being the availability of space. If a non-Catholic is in a Catholic secondary school for purposes of program, distance or some kind of exceptionality, there must be granted, upon application, an exemption from the religious or confessional portions of education. Where a non-Catholic student generally chooses to be in a Roman Catholic secondary school, that person can apply for an exemption and the board may wish to give it.
Mr. Rae: My supplementary has to do with a statement the minister made today with respect to some of the basic objectives of the government's policy. I believe the first one had to do with maintaining the viability of the public school system.
On reflection, does the minister not think it would have been wise for the government to have taken very particular steps, in real money terms, to assure the public school system that the government is determined to maintain viability by increasing the share of grants to education that come from the provincial government as opposed to local government? The minister will know that under previous regimes these grants have fallen well below the 50 per cent mark and are causing some real financial problems in a great many assessment-poor parts of this province.
In view of the government's commitment, does the minister not think it would help the atmosphere of this debate significantly if there were a far clearer indication of the government's willingness to enrich, protect and maintain the financial and scholastic viability of the public school system?
Hon. Mr. Conway: As the member for Renfrew North, I want to assure the leader of the New Democratic Party that I know well whereof he speaks in regard to the difficulties of many of our boards in this connection. It will be the intention of this government to provide special funding to public boards of education to help buffer the costs associated with the completion of funding in the separate secondary system. The exact extent of that funding will have to await developments over the coming years.
Mr. Timbrell: Relating to the question of access, the minister quoted Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and a very fine quote it was. He might well have cited Sir John A. Macdonald when he said, "Never do things by halves that can be done by quarters." When I look at the opening paragraph of the minister's press release and compare that to what he is saying here today about access, there are very real problems.
Will the minister assure us that no student will be denied access if he or she chooses to attend a Roman Catholic secondary school in this province for any reason whatsoever, be it space or desire not to take religious instruction or the sacraments?
Hon. Mr. Conway: It is this government's view that there must be a liberal and generous accessibility posture on the part of both boards of education. We have chosen to move in the direction of limiting on the basis of available space. That is the decision we have made. I must say as well, it is important to take into account that in some situations today that is already happening.
Mr. F. S. Miller: I have a question for the Premier. In view of the importance of the automobile industry to Ontario and the rather sad agreement entered into yesterday, increasing Japanese imports into Canada this year by about 28,000 vehicles, will the Premier do what he said he would during the election campaign? Will he protect workers' jobs in this province? What has he done to date?
It was revealed yesterday that Mr. Stevens, the federal minister, has arranged a new quota agreement that would allow 17,000 to 20,000 new Japanese vehicles into Canada this year. In our judgement, that would remove, or prevent from being created, at least 1,300 jobs, essentially in Ontario.
I immediately moved with dispatch. Discussions have already gone on. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (Mr. O'Neil) will be meeting with Mr. Stevens in the near future to express our great concern about this matter. I cannot give the specific time and place of that meeting.
What concerns me about this agreement more than anything is there was no linkage or understanding with respect to Canadian content and/or investment in Canada. I am sure the honourable leader will be aware that the United States has been far more effective than Canada in obtaining offsetting investments in that country from Japanese manufacturers. We have not been doing that very successfully.
I know he had some strong meetings with the Prime Minister, and presumably with Mr. Stevens, putting forward his point of view, and presumably the results of those discussions were put into this agreement today. I think the Prime Minister is very much aware of my feelings on this matter. It is my intention to meet the Prime Minister in the near future to put forward again the strong voice of Ontario on this matter.
Three of our ministers went to Ottawa and, with the United Auto Workers, the parts manufacturers and the manufacturers of automobiles, fought for jobs and investments in Ontario. Does the Premier support the UAW/automobile-industry task force that required 80 per cent content?
Mr. D. S. Cooke: Since we now seem to have all three parties on side on this issue, will the Premier consider, in co-operation with the two opposition parties, drafting an all-party resolution demanding content legislation at the federal level in line with the task force? Since it is absolutely essential, can we do that before the House adjourns for the summer recess?
This is also a matter that could be dealt with in some depth by the committee of this House that will be struck on economic affairs. These industries are critical to the economic and industrial health of this province. Now that we are all resolved to fight together for them, let us find common ground and work together to protect our jobs and industry.
Mr. Bennett: When our party had the opportunity, three ministers went with the UAW to Ottawa to present the case on behalf of Ontario. For three years we got some extreme advantages for this province in the reduction of imports to Ontario and Canada from Japan.
Is the Premier prepared to bring the four principal automobile manufacturers in this province, along with the UAW, to Ottawa, to discuss not the percentage of imports to this country but a positive number? Indeed, if we do not get to that position, if we allow ourselves to be traded off with the Japanese, then when our market goes up, they want the percentage -- automobile manufacturers in this province, along with the UAW, to Ottawa, to discuss not the percentage of imports to this country but a positive number'? Indeed, if we do not get to that position, if we allow ourselves to be traded off with the Japanese, then when our market goes up, they want the percentage --
Mr. Bennett: -- and when it goes down, they want to retain the number of units they had imported last year. If the Premier is about to call together the four automobile manufacturers and the UAW and present a strong case on behalf of Ontario, I ask him to lock in a particular number of Japanese imports and not do it by percentage.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The honourable member raises a very valid point. As he knows, the previous agreement was 170,000 cars or 18 per cent. It came down to about 16 per cent because it hit the quota figure of 170,000 vehicles. He does point out in his question the difficulties of the arrangements that were made in the past.
I find it somewhat ironic that this deposed government is extolling the virtues of the former Liberal government in Ottawa, which dealt so forcefully with these issues. But I am glad to see it join issue with me against that government in Ottawa, to put forward in a very forceful way the concerns of Ontario. We will do that together. I thank my friends for their valuable assistance.
The Premier will know the share of funding for public education from the province is now well below 50 per cent. He will know it has now fallen to 46 per cent. He will also know, and we all know from the debate we have all experienced across the province in the last year, that one of the real concerns of people who support the public school system and whose children go to the public school system is not that they are opposed in any way to what is happening with the separate schools, but with the viability of maintaining a financially secure and healthy public school system.
Does the Premier think it would be wise, in terms of the debate we are now going to have in a very active way this summer in a committee, for the government, parallel to the work that is going on in the committee, to outline very clearly its plans regarding a timetable to see that we get the share of moneys going to the public school system from the province up towards that 60 per cent target which he himself has embraced on other occasions and which, it seems to me, is a good target to be set? It was acceptable to George Drew --
Hon. Mr. Peterson: The concerns the honourable leader has expressed are concerns I have expressed on many occasions myself and I agree with those concerns. One of the reasons we have had so much, shall we say, dissension or controversy about the entire separate school issue was that there was a sense there was some diminution of our commitment to public education. Indeed, that is not the case and that message must go forward from this House very strongly.
With respect to his specific suggestion, he is aware, I am sure, that Ian Macdonald is heading another commission investigating the entire financing matter of our educational system. Unfortunately, as much as I would like to proceed with those kinds of discussions now, it would be premature in the absence of his report. My suggestion to the honourable leader would be to wait until we have the Macdonald report and then proceed with those discussions which are central to quality education of both systems.
Mr. Rae: I hope the Premier realizes he is now in a position actually to do many of the things he promised he would do during the election campaign. He set out two targets which were set out by many other people. I would just stress to the Premier that it is not going to be good enough for a great many parents to say there was some commission set up by Bill Davis over a year ago which is somehow going to resolve the problem. What is clear, it seems to me, is there has to be a commitment from the government of Ontario that it is going to increase its share. Regardless of what Mr. Macdonald says, the government must be prepared to increase its share.
My question can be answered by a yes or a no. Is the Premier prepared to commit Ontario to increasing its share in order to ensure that we do indeed have a really good, first-class public education system in Ontario?
As my colleague pointed out some time ago, there will be special buffering grants going forward on the basis of need. I am very mindful we are now in a position of responsibility and I take it very seriously. I am mindful he is not in a position of responsibility; I know he takes that seriously as well. We will be sensitive to all of these matters. I believe it is premature to move on these things at this time. However, as the minister said, he will be moving, and I think the members will be satisfied that a firm commitment to quality public education will be constantly there from this government.
Miss Stephenson: I have a supplementary question for the Premier, if I may. I would not only ask the Premier to accept the commitment made by the former government to increase the amount of money presented to the public school boards, notwithstanding buffering financing, which has been a part of the school financing program now for many years in this province, but to increase the commitment of funds made available to the public school boards by the government before the Macdonald commission reported. That was a significant portion of the former government's speech from the throne.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: This former minister keeps asking me to honour her deathbed repentance, all of the things she has come out with in the last little while. It is hard for me to stand in front of this House and say I will automatically support her golf clubs and that kind of thing.
I am prepared to take a sympathetic view of every constructive and good idea this minister has had in her entire political life, and those of any of her colleagues as well in that regard. However, I think the approach the present minister has taken in this matter is a sensitive one. We in this party fought for quality education and will continue to do so.
The Premier now has a chance to do more than simply buffer. He has a chance to give a very real, practical commitment to the public school system. If the Premier wants to look at a very effective way to make sure the debate that takes place in this province is one of generosity, a word that was used many times by the Minister of Education in his statement today, there are practical ways for the government of Ontario to be effectively generous at this time as well, to show that, as opposed to the parsimonious policies of the Tory party which have reduced the level of funding to 46 per cent, it is now possible to increase it.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I would remind the honourable leader of the third party we have now been ensconced on this side of the House for eight days. He has seen tough, courageous decisions made in that time. We have not been running away from issues. We have been facing them directly.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: I am very proud of the leadership that has been provided by my colleagues, particularly here today. The members opposite hang shamefaced without the guts to deal with this issue. After walking away, they have lost their credibility to criticize, let alone to make judgements on it.
That being said, I am not in a position to give the honourable leader a precise timetable to match his request today, but it is certainly something we are sensitive about and we will be proceeding in the not-too-distant future.
Mr. Reville: My question is of the Minister of Revenue. The minister will be aware of a recent ruling by the Ontario Municipal Board which concludes that provincial tax assessors have unfairly reassessed properties in Toronto by confusing improvements and repairs and by using reassessment to bring in market-value assessment by the back door. Will the minister give us his assurance that the government will not appeal the decision of the OMB and that he will advise his field offices that assessors should abide by the decision?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: I had the decision of the Ontario Municipal Board placed in my hand this morning. The judgement was written by Mr. R. D. M. Owen and concurred in by Mr. Morley A. Rosenberg. In many respects, it is a watershed decision and something of tremendous importance.
I can recall, as a critic of the assessment processes in this province, particularly since they were centralized at the provincial level, bringing to my predecessor's attention that improvements in a property should not be assessed at a level at which they would discourage home owners from improving their homes. I feel that way at present.
It seems to me this decision is going to have widespread ramifications for assessment, not only in the Metro area but across the province. I am going to have to consult the experts in the ministry who placed this in my hand this morning -- I read it in the Toronto Star yesterday and the Globe and Mail this morning -- and also my colleagues. I can assure members that we on this side have promised and will undertake a thorough review of the whole assessment process.
One of the matters pertaining to metropolitan assessment that has been raised previously and is closely associated with this is the study for the Metro area of the impact of provincial policies. While it is not directly in response to the question, I want to inform the member that those studies are now considered public documents and are available to anybody who wants to look at them. I am also informed that my ministry has until July 11 to make a decision to appeal in this connection. When the decision is made, I will be very proud to announce it to this House.
Mr. Reville: Sometimes one does know where one's friends are, but I am not too pleased that the minister is not yet ready to call a ceasefire in the war that is being waged against property taxpayers in the city. I wonder whether he will give the House his assurance that he will at least write to all home owners who have been reassessed, explaining that their taxes may be too high because of flaws in the reassessment method and that their taxes could be reduced if they appeal.
Mr. Lupusella: Can the minister please give us an assurance that the assessments made since 1981 will be rolled back and covered retroactively by the new approach based on the decision of the Ontario Municipal Board?
Hon. Mr. Nixon: It is plain that if the ruling of the municipal board stands very far-reaching adjustments will be required. Part of the undertaking I have already given the honourable member's colleague is to consider our position having to do with appeal.
Mr. Timbrell: I have a question of the Minister of Education. I have not had very long to peruse the material laid before us today, but I find in it rather extensive sections dealing with the resolution of disputes between boards of education with respect to teachers. I have not been able to find anything that deals with the resolution of disputes that affect the students and/or their parents.
Could the minister tell me what plans he has to ensure that, as in the case of Mr. Pervin and his daughter in Windsor, there will be an effective means for the resolution of that kind of dispute and others affecting parents and students.
The bill contemplates a number of things in this connection. First, in regard to the decision about space availability, I know there will be some concern regarding access to Roman Catholic secondary schools, but that decision is appealable from the chief executive officer of the involved separate school board to the Commission for Planning and Implementing Change in the Governance and Administration of Secondary Education in Ontario.
Let us look at the Windsor case, because it is perhaps a useful one. It seems quite clear to me that if a non-Catholic is in a Roman Catholic secondary school for purposes of program, as the situation in Windsor involved, under the provisions of this bill there is an exemption guaranteed upon application.
Mr. Timbrell: I would like to return to the question of space availability. Do I take it from the minister's answer there is nothing in the legislation that would allow a parent to appeal to some higher authority in those instances where the local Roman Catholic school or the local school board says there is no space? If so, will the minister reconsider and withdraw that position so there will be, as his press release says, free access to Roman Catholic schools for all students in the province?
Hon. Mr. Conway: I want to make myself very clear: there is access, with the limitation of space availability; and that determination is appealable from the receiving separate board to the planning and implementation commission. Thus, as a non-Catholic, one is not going to be subject only to the adjudication of the receiving separate school board.
One of the considerations in the bill is the understanding that the Roman Catholic system must be expanded in a way that does not, in the final analysis, undermine the constitutional guarantees that created it in the first place.
Mr. Allen: The operable question is that of availability of space in separate systems. One must bear in mind that last fall the Metropolitan Separate School Board had to rule out access due to lack of space and the fact it had 16,000 students in portables. Given this, what does the minister propose to do to remedy those fundamental space problems in the system which will impede access and therefore make access difficult for students?
Hon. Mr. Conway: The policy of the government is certainly going to be to bring the two sides together. We hope to do this first in the case of Metropolitan Toronto upon the settlement of the court case.
The member knows we have a difficulty in Metropolitan Toronto outside the city of Toronto where public boards are not in any official dialogue with separate school boards of education. It is going to be the policy of this government to emphasize to the greatest degree possible the use of existing space. This year there will be, of course, the requirement to fund additional portables. That we will be doing.
I can only say to the honourable member that we will not fully know the space requirements until we see the plans the separate school boards will be submitting later this year. I want to make it very clear that the policy of this government in regard to space -- and to be fair, it was the policy of the previous government -- is that we must to the greatest extent possible utilize existing facilities. We will try to do that by all reasonable means .
Mr. Martel: I have a new question of the Minister of Labour. Is the Minister of Labour aware of a practice by Falconbridge Ltd. that when a worker who has been rated a disability pension, of let us say 10 or 12 per cent, is given a return-to-work slip by his or her doctor, the company now takes the position that because the worker has a disability pension he is not to be taken back to his or her regular duty, thus forcing the worker out on the street? Will the minister investigate this practice and, if it is factual, will he introduce legislation to prevent companies from dismissing people in this fashion?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I must admit to the honourable member that I was not aware of the practice he alleges. I would undertake to investigate this allegation immediately and would like to get back to the member on the issue.
Mr. Laughren: While the Minister of Labour is investigating the problem to which my colleague the member for Sudbury East refers, would he also investigate another problem with the same company? Falconbridge has a policy whereby if a worker is seriously injured and is off work for 52 weeks or more because of that job-related injury, the company then dismisses that employee. It is clearly a case of double jeopardy. Will the minister either change the legislation or issue an order to Falconbridge to cease and desist this discriminatory policy?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am always pleased to look into the problems raised by the member for Nickel Belt. I would remind him, since he and I shared a legislative committee on workers' compensation matters and on reforms for some extensive period of time, that the amendments that were brought forward last winter in Bill 101 did move matters forward in terms of possible violations of the Human Rights Code. I would suggest to both of my honourable friends that the Human Rights Code may catch one or both of these matters.
I would say also to the member for Nickel Belt, and I am sure he will remember well, that the issue of the limited or unlimited right of injured workers to return to employment was addressed by the standing committee on resources development and endorsed by all three parties. That matter did not come forward in the legislative amendments contained in Bill 101 because at that time it was felt they were intrinsically tied to a new form of permanent disability, changing from the clinical rating system. That is not a view I share; however, I think we should take a look at that within the phase 2 inquiry, which is now ongoing.
Mr. Elgie: Mr. Speaker, as you know, the whole issue of reform of the Workers' Compensation Act was broken into two phases. One of the very vital issues from my point of view is the right of a worker to return to employment following an injury or following some disability. I had given an undertaking, which I expect the Minister of Labour would share with me, to proceed in an expeditious way with phase 2 of reform. Will the minister give that commitment today?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I only say to my friend that when we were in the standing committee on resources development we did not understand that the government of the day had decided to do the reform in two phases. That is what this minister faces.
I do not believe it was necessary to delay the implementation of legislation giving workers a right to return to work; however, that is where the matter stands. It is part of an overall phase 2 review that is now ongoing, particularly with the major matters. I can indicate to the honourable member that I have already instructed my officials to get on with the job. I expect to meet with Professor Paul Weiler later this month.
Hon. Mr. Fulton: The members will recall that the member for Essex North (Mr. Hayes) asked me a question the other day about driver training related to the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act. I am able to respond to that question today.
Dangerous goods training was inserted into the dangerous goods regulations at the request of industry. Therefore, it is required that everyone who handles, offers for transport or transports dangerous goods must be trained to the satisfaction of his employer in compliance with section 9.2 of the federal regulations.
Specifically, driver training for dangerous goods has been ongoing for the past several months and courses are available through the Ontario Trucking Association. More than 100 workshops have been held throughout the province at many community colleges, including Humber and Lambton, private sector driver training schools and at least four private sector consulting firms in the province.
Many companies are sending representatives to these courses, who, in turn, come back to train the rest of the company drivers. Further, everyone who is involved with dangerous goods must be issued a certificate of training by his employer or work under the supervision of a trained person in compliance with section 9.4.
Drivers, since they generally work alone, must carry their own certificates. Our own highway enforcement staff, as part of routine inspection procedures, will be asking for this certificate from drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods. These compliance officers are located throughout the province in our driver and vehicle districts, truck inspection stations and/or mobile patrols. To my knowledge, this aspect of the package of the new dangerous goods legislation regulations is being well received by industry. Early indications show the compliance rate is quite high.
Responsibility for fire and police departments in this province rests with my colleague the Solicitor General (Mr. Keyes). Questions about the specifics of the training received at the local level or at provincial colleges can be addressed to my colleague.
I understand that for many years local fire and police departments have had a two-pronged approach to training for jobs including chemical emergencies. First, the training is conducted by the local departments in each municipality. Second, local departments also utilize provincial fire and police colleges in Metropolitan Toronto, the Ontario Fire College in Gravenhurst, the Ontario Police College in Aylmer and the Ontario Provincial Police Academy in Brampton.
Mr. Speaker: I appreciate the member's comment. I was listening very carefully and I remember on a previous occasion advising a minister that, if it was a lengthy and quite detailed answer to a question, he should make a statement. I would ask the minister to complete it and then I will add time to question period.
There has been considerable interaction between my staff and the fire and police training officials regarding dangerous goods. I remind the member that the placarding, labelling and documentation required in the dangerous goods regulations were designed to allow emergency response personnel to find out more quickly what commodities are involved in an emergency. This in turn allows them to respond more appropriately to the emergency. Furthermore, I understand the fire and police communities, as well as industry, had considerable input into the development of these regulations. Thus, the dangerous goods legislation and regulations can appropriately be said to have been designed to improve public safety.
Mr. Hayes: One of the main concerns dealing with the transportation of dangerous goods is that there are a lot of dangerous goods that are transported not only through our province, but also through a lot of our communities and other provinces.
Mr. Hayes: Is the minister going to tighten the laws or put in some specific rules on labelling hazardous material that is being transported so everyone, including the driver, will know exactly what that driver is hauling?
Hon. Mr. Fulton: I think the safety of the community and the driver is paramount. On behalf of this ministry, I can assure the member opposite that we will be working very closely with the Solicitor General, who has responsibility for emergency measures, to ensure that every precaution is taken.
In the statement made today, the indication was given by the Minister of Education that should, which would seem likely, the legislation that he will introduce today not have been proclaimed by the start of the next academic school year, then the government will pass financial regulations to transfer funds to the affected Roman Catholic school boards before this decision.
Can the minister explain to me, given that he proposes to transfer funds to boards that do not exist and which are created by this legislation, and given that there are no other means available, how he will protect the rights of the students, the teachers and the parents in the absence of this legislation?
Hon. Mr. Conway: The honourable member will be happy to know that, in almost all of these particulars, those implementation plans that have been approved meet these conditions. In other words, no plan has been approved by the Commission for Planning and Implementing Change in the Governance and Administration of Secondary Education in Ontario for September 1, 1985, that does not meet the rigorous standards that have been set out in this legislation.
Mr. Timbrell: Will the minister commit today that he and the executive council will resolve all disputes that arise in the period while the financial regulations are in place and before the legislation is enacted in order to render people harmless from any discriminatory practices of any kind?
Hon. Mr. Conway: Of course, cabinet does have responsibility, which is clearly set out in the bill. I want to say to the member, whose sensitivity to these matters I appreciate, that the people of this province have an understanding of how these matters can and will be resolved.
Hon. Mr. Conway: I expect the planning and implementation commission, which has a mandate and has had a mandate since almost a year ago, will supervise, in the necessary ways, these and related questions, accepting, as I do, that the people of Ontario who are charged with the responsibility of managing these school systems are going to behave as they generally, if not always, do -- with sensitivity and generosity.
Mr. Mackenzie: I have a question of the Minister of Labour with regard to a statement concerning the Firestone Canada layoffs. I am sure the minister will be aware that the 400 jobs lost are going to be largely those of young workers starting families and buying houses, who have up to five to six years' seniority. He will also be aware that corporate rationalization at Firestone was aided by $15.2 million of taxpayers' money.
Given these considerations, is the minister prepared to insist that there is assistance for early retirement for older workers in that plant so we can endeavour to save the jobs of some of these younger workers who will otherwise be out of work as of November 1?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am aware that the president of the union involved has indicated that in his opinion 180 jobs could be saved among that younger group if the early-retirement provisions were to take hold. All I can tell the member is that, as of this afternoon, we are intensively reviewing that matter. I expect it will be a major part of the discussions we will have next Monday morning.
Mr. Mackenzie: The minister will be well aware that this party has been raising the question of provision for early retirement in a layoff fund that would assist us in the rash of plant closures we have had across Ontario. Given this situation, is the minister prepared to take a look at some government action that would give us the mechanism necessary to provide for bridging and early retirement for older workers in plant layoffs or closures so we can open up jobs for younger workers?
Hon. Mr. Wrye: I am aware of the position the member and his party have taken over some time. On this side we have been concerned for a long time about the issue of plant closures. Using this most recent closure as an example, the Ministry of Labour was informed just a few minutes before the partial closure was actually announced that some 400 workers would be laid off. It seems to us that ought to be a matter of great concern. I am sure the member shares the concern and distress we all have at the fact that these announcements are made with so little time to react.
Mr. Stevenson: I have a question for the Minister of Agriculture and Food. As I am sure the minister is aware, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture was one of the groups that met yesterday with his cabinet colleague the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley). They expressed their concerns about the absolute liability position of farmers bringing home their chemicals from the agricultural supplier if they were involved in an accident through no fault of their own.
Hon. Mr. Riddell: Very briefly, in response to the member's question, I want to advise him that I have been discussing the matter with the Minister of the Environment and he is pursuing the concerns that have been expressed by the OFA.
Mr. Stevenson: I am interested in knowing whether the minister supports the OFA's position. They expressed their concerns about the absolute-liability position of farmers involved in an accident while hauling manure down a public roadway.
Is the minister planning government assistance to cover the massive premiums that are going to be required for the insurance, for example, to clean up and restore a stream and a number of ponds in the midst of a posh rural estate development, or is he going to force the farmers to get the cost of those premiums from the marketplace?
I just want to tell the member I share his concerns. As a matter of interest, I will be meeting with the chairman of the OFA. I believe we have a meeting tomorrow. I also want to assure the member that the Minister of the Environment will be making a statement on this matter tomorrow.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I have a question for the Attorney General. I believe he met today with some representatives from the midwifery coalition regarding the coroner's inquest into the death of Daniel McLaughlin-Harris.
I wonder if the minister agrees with the parents and a great number of people who are involved that the coroner's inquest should focus on the cause of death and recommendations in that area and that the whole question of alternatives for families in the birthing process should be dealt with by a public inquiry.
Hon. Mr. Scott: Officials of my ministry met with representatives of the parents and the midwife and heard their complaints about the way the coroner's inquest had been proceeding. It was our view that if they feel strongly about it, the appropriate thing is to apply to the courts to have the coroner's inquest reviewed, as they are entitled to do under the Judicial Review Procedure Act. We made that suggestion to the people with whom I met.
Mr. D. S. Cooke: I will ask the question again. Is the minister willing to consider a public inquiry into this matter, which is very important to a large number of people in Toronto and elsewhere throughout Ontario? Further, does the minister not understand that a large number of people are concerned that this coroner's inquest, rather than dealing with the narrow matter that should be before the inquest, is broadening in scope? In fact, when one considers the issues in front of a coroner's inquest and the coroner being a doctor --
Hon. Mr. Scott: I am aware of and share some of the concerns of the honourable member. However, I think the appropriate course is to allow the inquest to hear the balance of the evidence, to conclude and to have the jury reach its decision. Thereafter, if there are concerns about midwifery generally, no doubt they can be expressed to the Minister of Health (Mr. Elston), who can consider the matter in a general way.
Mr. Pope: Will the Attorney General and this government continue the health-professions review process that was instituted a year and a half ago as the mechanism to expedite and resolve these matters?
Mr. Pollock: I have a question for the Minister of Natural Resources. Is he aware that there is a heavy infestation of gypsy moths in eastern Ontario and in particular in Hastings county? What is he going to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: It is indeed more difficult to answer questions than to ask them, but yes, I am very much aware of it. The member for Frontenac-Addington (Mr. South) has brought the matter to my attention. They had a meeting and it was well attended. We certainly have a dilemma about pesticides. The problem is much broader than one might think.
In eastern Canada, we have already seen a great involvement regarding whom the onus of proof was on as to the danger of the pesticides used. It seems they never quite resolved the problem. Were the people who were using those pesticides and who had some concerns about the impact on the environment really going to be able to use them without having to prove there was a danger? Or would it be those people who were making an appeal who would have to prove the danger existed?
What we are up against is the proliferation of the gypsy moth and the budworm. My ministry is at a very great disadvantage in the matter of using the sprays because we are limited to bacillus thuringiensis. I am sure we are going to bring those people in the area together and see how we can resolve the problem mutually. That is the kind of government we are going to have and that is what we are going to ask. Those people who have the problem will be brought together and we should resolve it together.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: That is the very chemical that has been brought into question. The fact is that we have to investigate the impact of Sevin on the environment. I will be discussing that with the Minister of the Environment (Mr. Bradley). When we can do something that is going to clarify the matter, I shall be pleased to bring it back to the House and notify the member.
It is his government's stated intention to review many of the decisions and appointments made by the previous government since the May 2 election. In view of that, will the minister review the 47 cutting licences and four forest management agreements that were signed by the then Minister of Natural Resources?
As well, will he consider looking into the possibility of revoking those agreements temporarily while environmental assessments are held, particularly regarding those forest management agreements? Environmental assessment was one policy raised during the campaign that the Liberal Party said it would engage in.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Certainly that matter has been brought to our attention. The member for Nickel Belt has shown his interest in the management of the forests of Ontario by going across the province and providing a report to the former government. I have perused this report and am certainly going to take it into account.
On the same basis as my last answer, I would ask all members to participate in the resolution of how we are going to deal with forest management in northern Ontario. Of course, the subject raised by the honourable member would be an important part of that question. I cannot make any commitments as to what we will do, but I assure the member we certainly will look into those matters that have been agreed to on the short term and share the answer with him.
Mr. Laughren: I am almost overwhelmed. Two of those forest management agreements were signed with Great Lakes Forest Products, and we all know the history of Great Lakes Forest Products and the pollution of the English-Wabigoon river system. Would the minister revoke at least those two forest management agreements until two things have happened: (1) an environmental assessment is held on the impact of that agreement and (2) financial compensation has been made with the Whitedog and Grassy Narrows Indian bands?
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: I cannot suggest at this time that I would revoke anything until I have had a reasonable time to study it. I know there has been a great deal of objection to forest management arrangements and I know the reason for it, that we have to get into the whole process of reforestation. I am not sure I am familiar enough with the forest management arrangements to take into account whether they have met the criteria.
I know forest management arrangements are supposed to have as much planting as cutting by the year 2020. I think we have reached something like 82 per cent of the goal this year. We fell short because of some problem with funding.
The question the member has raised will certainly be looked into. At this point, I cannot say to him that I will cancel any of those arrangements until we have probed the validity of the arrangements. I will get back to him about that part of his question.
Hon. Mr. Kerrio: Obviously, I have already pointed them out to the members. The shortcomings are that we have met only 82 per cent of our goal this year. If we are to reach full reforestation of the cuttings, which we intend to proceed with, then we have fallen short.
I am not placing any criticism in any particular direction, but I am certainly not going to be satisfied, and I do not think anyone in this House will be satisfied, until we have reached the goal of planting as much as we cut. I do not think anybody should be satisfied with less. That has not happened, but it is going to happen.
Hon. Mr. Wrye: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order: Briefly, I want to update the members further, particularly the member for Windsor-Riverside (Mr. D. S. Cooke), on the fact that the inspector who visited Valenite-Modco --
"Whereas the proposed extension of funding to separate secondary education will significantly change the character and delivery of secondary education throughout Ontario, reducing the density of students and the variety of educational program offering; and" --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am sorry to interrupt the member, but there are quite a number of private conversations. They may be necessary, but they are very noisy. Please show respect to the member for Northumberland.
Mr. Sheppard: "Whereas the decision to extend public funding to Roman Catholic separate secondary schools was made without the benefit of public input, legislative debate or in-depth study of the potential impact of such a change in policy; and
"Whereas the necessary changes in legislation and regulations will be found to be more responsible and subject to greater consideration and evaluation than is possible before the commencement of the 1985-86 school year; and
"Whereas any legislation that is inconsistent with the Constitution is to the extent of the inconsistency of no force or effect, we petition the Ontario Legislature to delay implementation of the proposed separate secondary school funding until appropriate, constitutionally acceptable legislation is in place."
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that the following standing committees be established for this session, with power to examine and inquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House, with power to send for persons, papers and things, as provided in section 35 of the Legislative Assembly Act:
1. Standing committee on members' services: to examine the services to members from time to time and, without interfering with the statutory responsibility of the Board of Internal Economy in such matters, be empowered to recommend to the consideration of the House matters it wishes to draw to the special attention of the board, and be empowered to act as an advisory committee to Mr. Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy in the administration of the House and the provision of services and facilities to members, and to draw the special attention of the House to such matters as the committee believes requires it; and
Standing committee on social development: Mr. Allen, Mr. D. S. Cooke, Mr. Davis, Mr. Epp as substitute for Mr. Henderson for Bill 30, Mr. Henderson, Mr. Jackson, Mr. R. F. Johnston, Mr. Offer, Mr. Pope, Mr. Reycraft, Mr. D. W. Smith and Mr. Timbrell.
Hon. Mr. Nixon moved that, unless otherwise ordered, substitution be permitted on all standing committees provided that written notice of substitution is given to the chairman of the committee before the committee meets or in the first 30 minutes after the committee meeting is called to order.
Hon. Mr. Conway: Before I make a brief statement, I want personally to thank the staff of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of the Attorney General who have worked very long and hard over these past number of days to bring about this bill.
This bill, of course, is the bill that will allow this Legislature to complete the Roman Catholic separate school system to the end of the secondary panel and that will allow this Legislature to complete a journey begun over 140 years ago in a predecessor parliament in this province.
It deals with, among other things, the election by a separate school board to perform the duties of a secondary school board, the entitlement of a Roman Catholic school board to share in legislative grants, powers and duties in respect of secondary school grades, and the phasing-in of those secondary school grades within the Roman Catholic secondary system. It concerns, among other things, the election of separate school electors and all the other questions that are attached to bringing about the completion of the public funding of the Roman Catholic separate school system in Ontario.
That, due to the interruption of the consideration of private-bill legislation as a result of the dissolution of the 32nd Parliament, the applications for private legislation relating to Bill Pr10, An Act respecting the City of Niagara Falls, and Bill Pr41, An Act respecting the City of Hamilton, be considered during the present session without payment of further application fees, without publishing further notices of application and without lodging further declarations proving publication; and, that the application for private legislation relating to Bill Pr46, An Act respecting the Brockville Rowing Club Inc., be considered during the present session following publication of further notice of the application and lodging further declarations proving publications, but without payment of a further application fee.
Hon. Mr. Peterson: Mr. Speaker, if I may address you briefly on the subject, we have had much discussion in the last few days about the government's ambitious agenda, our plans and our vision for the future of this great province. I need not remind you that a couple of weeks ago the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario invited me to form a government. I was very honoured and felt deeply humble when the invitation was extended.
It is impossible for my colleagues and I to form a government without the support of this House. That is why we wanted to come into this Legislature at the earliest available opportunity to seek the confidence of our colleagues in this House so we could carry forward our ambitious legislative program.
You had the benefit of that two days ago, Mr. Speaker. You have already seen some tough and bold decisions made by our ministers. I can assure you that, in my best judgement, we are ready, willing and capable of providing leadership for this province to build a better future for everyone.
It is important that we come to this House and ask for its confidence, without which no government could survive, as my friends across the way would be the first to attest. It could not be done on Tuesday last because of the pressing necessity of having a supply motion passed. It is no secret that the time frame under which we are all operating is unique and new to all of us. It has skewed some of the conventional approaches to parliamentary practice, but I believe we have done the best we can in the circumstances in responding to the challenges of leadership.
Mr. Ashe: I appreciate the opportunity to join in the very brief debate that will be available to us this afternoon on government notice of motion number 2, "That the government enjoys the confidence of the House."
Needless to say, I see no reason whatsoever that the government we have seen over the past eight days, that has been operating here over the last three, should enjoy the confidence of hardly anyone, especially the honourable members contained in this chamber.
All we have to do is look back to certain events that took place on May 2, 1985. It is true the people of Ontario were telling us maybe it was time to look around, maybe it was time for the government of the day to be aware of some concerns they had. However, lo and behold, on last count, and I do not think it has changed, on May 2 the people of Ontario voted 52 seats for the Progressive Conservative Party, 48 seats for the Liberal Party of Ontario and 25 seats under the name of the New Democratic Party. Under our democratic system that means the government should have and should still be led by the Progressive Conservative Party.
Why should that be? Why should that mandate have been carried on? Why was it not? We have heard many references to the so-called unholy alliance. That is exactly what it is. Even if we had had an official consolidation, coordination -- whatever you want to call it -- coalition of the first party as it is now and the third party, the New Democratic Party, that would have been fair ball. That is recognized within the democratic process of this great country of ours.
That is not what happened. We had literally a behind-the-scenes, behind-closed-doors agreement that has ended up putting the party with the second-lowest number of seats leading the government of this province. To me, that is an unholy alliance. Hence, I do not see how anybody with conscience can vote to support it, or suggest this government that is being led by one party and puppeteered by another should enjoy the confidence of this House.
In actual fact, what has happened before? If one looks back on the last number of years, led by the party of which I have the honour and the privilege of being a member, Ontario has indeed been the strength in all of Canada. It has had the highest job creation record of any province in this jurisdiction, the lowest unemployment rate, the lowest debt per capita, the lowest number of public servants per constituent served.
I am really concerned about the mandate this government is asking of this Legislature and the people of Ontario. The policies that have been enunciated by this leader and through spokesmen on behalf of the government in the last few days are going to jeopardize that enviable record. They will jeopardize the confidence of the business community not only in Ontario but possibly all of Canada.
What is going to happen when that comes to pass? The first thing we can probably all agree on is that not too far down the road we will lose the highly coveted, well-earned respect of the investment community and the triple-A credit rating that has been bestowed upon very few in Canada. The Ontario government, of course, was one; the province of Ontario. We will lose that and it will add millions of dollars to the cost of servicing the debt of this province.
What will happen when the business community becomes very concerned with the policies that have so far been enunciated by the party in power at the moment? This will, in my view, undermine the confidence of that community and further investment in this great province of ours. We must have the confidence not only of the business community that now resides in this province but of the business community worldwide.
In the past we have spoken as a government and said Canada and Ontario welcome new investment. There have also been initiatives from the new government in Ottawa. I am very concerned now that the welcome mat we have put out has been tarnished. It has been tarnished by the pronouncements made to date by the socialist-led party across the way. It has been tarnished by the impending very real concerns we have about fiscal responsibility. I appreciate and acknowledge that it is going to be very hard to follow the high standards of fiscal responsibility that were set by the previous government.
This is another excellent reason that it is very difficult for the government to ask this Legislature to vote it confidence, although I appreciate it has the authority and right to do so. How can it possibly come before this august body and ask us to vote it confidence when in such a very few days we have seen some of the inconsistencies, as opposed to what government members were saying not too many months ago? We have already seen the cracking in the veneer of the so-called alliance. These things are causing great concerns not only to the members of this assembly but also to the populace of the province.
We are talking about many items that make our province great. There was an indication two days ago by the Premier (Mr. Peterson) of some of the initiatives his government will be bringing forward. For example, to bring in one aspect I would like to touch on for a moment, I have great concerns about the implications of the extension of rent control to all dwelling units in Ontario. I appreciate this is, to use a word that is not taken out of context, a rather sexy subject.
We all know there are many more tenants than there are landlords. It is very easy to appeal to the masses in that regard, but a government not only has to have appeal, it has to be responsible. When it brings forth changes in policy, it has to look upon not only the short-term but also the medium- and long-term implications to the economy or to the province as a whole.
I am very concerned that the proposed extension will not only make it much more difficult to attract capital to this province in the building industry, but it will also completely drive away any opportunity we still have of the private sector continuing to invest in rental accommodations. Yet it is through the private sector it should be done.
It has been extremely difficult as it is, with the rent review legislation that has been in effect, but at least we have not moved away from the mandate suggested a number of years ago. We said: "Yes, all the previous buildings. We know the cost implications. There shall be rent control, rent review, etc." We are now breaking a commitment we made to that very vital industry in Ontario when we suggest: "Do not worry about what we told you in the past. It does not matter whether you have a new or old building. Forget all that. Everything applies."
There is nothing more important in this province than having a reasonable and responsible development industry that is prepared to invest its time, energies and talents to provide the rental accommodation so badly needed by the citizens of this great province of ours.
I could go on for another hour and three quarters with the reasons this government has no right to receive the confidence of this House, but I will leave many points to others. In very short terms and very few words, I would like to summarize why this House should not and will not give, or this party at least will not, support and confidence to the government.
We have a province second to none, but we have uncertainty that has come into this province in very recent times. We have an unholy alliance that has made it possible. We have a government that is in power not because the democratic process has put it there, not because the electorate of Ontario has put it there, but because of other means. As long as that situation exists, I will not today, as my colleagues will not, vote confidence in the government.
Mr. Martel: This is the first opportunity I have had to speak and I want to wish the new Speaker well in his endeavours. He knows full well he can count on my assistance at any time. I might on occasion become distracted or a little obstreperous --
Mr. Martel: Or provoked on occasion. I have been provoked already by the phrase of the member who just wound up, who said, "unholy alliance." It is as though, by divine right of kings, the Tories have been able to rule. If anyone were to consider someone else should rule, then it is an "unholy alliance" or a number of other terms used by this member or the former Premier (Mr. F. S. Miller). It is as though there will be barricades out on the street. My God, it is as though they were ordained by God himself.
I want to tell them it is not quite that way. That lesson was learned in England a number of years ago -- quite a few years ago. Obviously the Tory party in Ontario has not learned it. They think if anyone else gets to run the place for a little while, we are going to have barricades on the street. They think it is an "unholy alliance."
I wonder what my friend called it several years ago when we in the New Democratic Party helped the government of the day to stay in power. There was a sort of blackmail the Tories used every time they wanted a bill in a certain way. I know, I was House leader then. Every time we suggested we might move an amendment, the government would say, "That means no confidence and if you move that amendment we are going to call an election." That was repeated over and over again. What happens traditionally in our democratic process is that governments go down on fiscal policy.
Do members remember the 1977 election? I recall it well when Darcy himself, the Duke of Kent, decided we would have an election on a two per cent amendment. It was the phoniest issue -- the phoniest reason for calling an election. The polls must have looked good and the government decided: To heck with the people, to heck with what was going on out there, there would be an election because it looked good for the government to get a majority. That was the type of democratic process that operated previously. I suggest to members it did not make for very good government.
It made for brinkmanship every day. If the opposition parties even deigned to suggest they might introduce an amendment, we would get the same thing: "We consider this to be no confidence." It did not matter what it was, either -- monetary or nonmonetary. If we sent somebody to the washroom it might have been considered a no-confidence motion if it was not at the appropriate time. That is the way the Tory government operated under Bill Davis for four years during the second minority government, 1977 to 1981.
I will just give a few examples. I have already heard the apologist to my right on the spills bill. In fact, I think it was the Conservative Agriculture and Food critic and the former Minister of the Environment who this week were presenting reasons why we could not proceed with the spills bill, which has been waiting for proclamation since 1979. Do they mean to tell me that in almost six full years we could not work out the problems in the spills bill and bring it forward? That is an indication.
I am just going to go through a litany of these things. I heard the former Premier, the member for Muskoka, when he talked about this agreement we had. I am wondering if the Tories can recall when they rewrote the rules simply by their numbers in the Legislature. Do members remember Bill 179? I hope the former Premier will listen to this. We rewrote the rules. We put a new procedure of time allocation in the House. We did not do it by rules such as my friend the former Premier talked about. The Tories simply rewrote the rule book because they had 72 members and they could just ram it through.
We introduced a new procedure called time allocation, which to this day is not in the rules of the Legislature. However, the former government of Ontario used it on at least two or three occasions to get legislation through. Because it did not want to use the existing rule on closure, it rewrote the rules.
When I hear government members talk about 700 years of the democratic process being wiped out by some form of agreement, I say to them, "How have you emasculated the rules simply by using your numbers in this Legislature to introduce new rules?" They introduced new rules without going through procedural affairs or even any type of discussion. They have a lot of chutzpah.
In 1976, a select committee recommended televising the proceedings of this Legislature. For eight or nine years the former government would not move on it. They sat around on their haunches and ignored the select committee report.
I could go on. Today, that party is so willing to have staff. Is it not wonderful? The Tory back-benchers want staff. I recall fighting that battle alone for years at the Board of Internal Economy. Last week, people were breaking their necks to move motions when, for the five previous years, one could not even get a seconder to a motion at a meeting of the Board of Internal Economy to acquire the required staff to do the job we as opposition members have to do. I do not know what the rude awakening was, why they suddenly became so enlightened, unless it was enlightened self-interest we were talking about.
They could hire staff. They could pay contract workers, or parliamentary assistants would get people to help them in the ministry. It did not matter then, did it? It was unimportant that people have representation, that people here have sufficient staff in order to carry out their responsibilities to look after their constituents. It is funny how quickly it became important after the government of that day went down the tubes and the members realized they were going to be faced with having inadequate staff.
I want to deal with a couple of much bigger issues. I want to deal with my own area for a moment and to indicate why we as a party have decided we should give somebody else an opportunity to run the province.
My friend and colleague the member for Nickel Belt (Mr. Laughren) and I prepared a document called A Challenge to Sudbury. The members will be interested to know that we used a variety of government studies to put that document together, things recommended by both federal and provincial civil servants who had studied the issues. With massive unemployment and with 15,000 people leaving the area, despite sending that document to every cabinet minister and despite having three debates on the plight of Sudbury, to the day this government went down the tubes we had not received a response to any of the matters in A Challenge to Sudbury.
There is the potential for development based on studies by the Ministry of Natural Resources, the federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, and so on. In that document, we talked about such things as refining all our resources in Canada or Ontario rather than, for example, allowing Falconbridge to continue to send all its nickel to Norway to be refined. Faconbridge has yet to refine a pound of nickel in Canada, let alone Ontario. In fact, Falconbridge has just committed $43 million more to expand its operation in Norway. That means it will take unrefined nickel from the Sudbury basin, take it off to Norway and process it there along with nickel matte it is going to pick up from Botswana.
For years we tried to get this government to understand. As far back as 1969, when the Mining Act was changed and amendments were brought in, we said to the Tory government, "You have to ensure that resources mined in Ontario are refined in Ontario." Over the years, despite putting the clause in the bill, the government has continuously given one exemption after another. At the present time, there is a total of about 26 exemptions allowing them to refine resources in another country.
One wonders why we have unemployment in a country that is filthy rich with resources. Part of it is that we have sent them out either semiprocessed or not processed at all. We do not have the courage in this country to stop those shenanigans.
My friend the member for Nickel Belt and I talked about the fact that, in addition, we would have to build a refinery at Sudbury to refine precious metals. We do not refine the platinum group anywhere in Canada. Whether it be platinum, or any of that field extracted from the ground in Sudbury, it is all sent to England. Inco sends part of its unrefined resource to England.
We also suggested, and again we took it from people who had the time to study the problem, the necessity of producing mining equipment in the Sudbury area, the heartland of mining in Canada. In Canada we have an annual deficit of close to $750 million for the importation of mining equipment. If one looks around Ontario, we do not produce much except for one or two small corporations, but we import a lot.
We talk about import replacement and starting the capacity to produce mining equipment in the Sudbury area to supply the gold mines at Timmins, the uranium mines at Elliot Lake and all the various types of resources we have in the north. I first got that written into a select committee report in 1974. I am going to come back to that select committee in a few moments because I think it held many of the solutions to the problems facing people in Ontario.
Despite getting it included in 1974, I think we have one small outfit that is going to produce what they call a continuous mucking machine. Inco is going to produce it, but that is certainly not enough to meet the devastation in a city in an area that has provided a great deal of Ontario's wealth, and which has an unemployment rate of 16 per cent at the present time and has lost 15,000 people in the past five years.
The government did not respond. My colleague the member for Nickel Belt and I had three emergency debates in this House. Do members think we could get the government to talk about anything? There was no way. We suggested, for example, that the phosphates in Cargill township, about 200 miles from Sudbury at the most, could be combined with the sulphur dioxide emissions, which is converted to sulphuric acid with the phosphates, to make fertilizer and substantially reduce Inco's emission problems.
The former Minister of Natural Resources, the member for Cochrane South (Mr. Pope), got up in this House and answered in a very childish manner when asked about it by the former member for Cochrane North. Between the two of them, they had a little game going. The former member for Cochrane North got up and said to the minister, and I recall it well: "Those two greedy members from the Sudbury district, Martel and Laughren, want to take the phosphates from Cargill and take them down to Sudbury and make fertilizer. You would never let that happen." The then minister got up in his place and said: "That is right. As a government, we have a policy regarding resource extraction which says we will process at source." Can members imagine that, coming from a government which had 36 exemptions? It was up that high at one time.
The phosphate is still sitting there in the ground, no closer to being mined today than it was two years ago. The company which owns the mining rights wants to take it from that area to the United States. Do members know what reasons they give for not taking that phosphate out and turning it into fertilizer? Members will never guess. It is because, as I said, it takes sulphuric acid to be combined with it, and they say an inadequate supply of sulphuric acid is the reason we cannot produce fertilizer in this part of the world. Inco is emitting daily and is the single largest contributor to pollution on this continent. There is a way of reducing that problem and providing jobs for people in Cochrane and in Sudbury by combining those two raw resources to make a finished product in Ontario.
We could not even get a response, save the little exchange between the former member for Cochrane North and the member for Cochrane South in question period. That was all we got from this very responsive government which -- the former speaker said we have to be worried about business, interest, trade and what not. We have the resources to do many things; we have not had the capacity or desire to do them.
Do members know what the Tories never mention? It is that our success in Ontario has been despite them. It has been because of location, in the heartland of the industrial United States. Just look around. Within 100 miles of our borders, there are 100 million Americans. Our success has been because we have been geographically fortunate; it has not been because of any sound economic planning. The former government does not know about that. They think if one throws a little money at someone, one will get --
Mr. Martel: I sat on a select committee, let me say to my friend, that did 21 reports called "economic nationalism." Bill Davis instituted that committee. It sat from 1971 to 1975. It issued 21 reports on the type of economic development that should go on in Ontario.
I can think of one or two minor recommendations that were adopted by the government. I believe one was that 50 per cent of the shareholders had to be Canadian or Ontario citizens, which is a bit of a laugh. I think they did a little work, so little that I have difficulty remembering, but we covered every possible topic. We spent four years and millions of dollars, we travelled and we had the best research going, but the government of the day would not look at any of our solutions. I suggest to my friends on my right that they should go back and read all 21 of those reports.
We talked about land ownership, about education, post-secondary education and funding, about economic development, about mining and forestry, right down the list. That went on for four years. The committee, by the way, was made up of seven Tories, two Liberals and two New Democrats.
Let me give a nice example. I was pushing very hard to suggest that resources should be refined or extracted by the province. That part scares the Tories and it scares some Liberals, especially the new Minister of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Riddell). It was interesting that by the time we were done, the committee voted that 50 per cent of resource extraction should be done by the province. Yet there were seven Tories, two Liberals and two New Democrats on the committee.
My friend the late member for Nipissing, Dick Smith, asked Ian Deans, my colleague who was on the committee with us, and me, if he could join us in calling for 100 per cent of resource extraction to be done by the province, because we had been so inept in what we had done with our resources. Considering that Inco had 85 per cent of the world's nickel, but we do not have a secondary industry in Ontario related to nickel, that is really irresponsible.
In question period today, my colleague the member for Nickel Belt raised the whole matter of reforestation. We know the government and industry have both made an abysmal mess of reforestation in this province. In fact, the very man who now heads up that part of the ministry, Ken Armson, indicated in his report four or five years ago that we would be short of the type of wood we need in the next 10 years.
After 42 years of Tory domination when they looked after our resources, we are going to be short of wood. That says a lot about the confidence of the Tory party, I say to the Tory member who spoke ahead of me. I raise a very simple question: Why is it that we are in such a terrible situation that we could have a shortage of wood when the Conservatives have not been disturbed in power for 42 years? What has been that party's stewardship of the resources of this province? It has been awful, to put it mildly.
In 1977, when we were discussing these issues, the government created a new ministry called the Ministry of Northern Affairs. I was the critic at that time. I know there is a new minister in that portfolio now, and I suggest he might want to go back to those debates and read the six or seven amendments I moved when we created the Ministry of Northern Affairs.
The first amendment I moved was that we should establish a tomorrow fund. I called it a tomorrow fund because in northern Ontario we have a terrible problem in that when an ore body runs out, a community dies. I moved an amendment that would have seen the province take a percentage of the return on the tax from resources. This would have been put into a fund so that when a community lost the base for its economy -- where a mine went dry -- we would have the moneys necessary to establish a different type of business. Otherwise, the infrastructure that was already in place for a town -- schools, hospitals, sewers -- was all going to pot. I tried to get an amendment through this House to establish such a fund, but the only party that voted for it was my party.
If we had started 10 years ago to take a small percentage of those funds from resource extraction, we would have had some money to establish a new business when a community dies. It is cheaper to start a new business, I suggest, than it is to see every worker in a community lose his home and Ontario lose all the money that has been put into the infrastructure. I could not get the amendment through.
I also suggested the Ministry of Northern Affairs should have some planning powers, and I wish the new minister would look at that idea. I do not want a Ministry of Northern Affairs that is merely a pork barrel; that is what the Tories did to us. We should not have the minister running around northern Ontario with his chequebook, handing out a cheque here and a cheque there.
When a town faced economic disaster, the former government ran in with a little cheque. In Sudbury when we had the big closures, they ran in with a little cheque, created 2001 and funded it for three years. The then Minister of Northern Affairs, the member for Kenora (Mr. Bernier), promised funding for three years -- $150,000 this year, $100,000 next year and $50,000 the year after -- until they became self-sufficient. Three weeks ago he wiped it out. Now they have 2001 in financial commitments but they do not have any funds because the member for Kenora said there are no more funds.
By the way, the member for Kenora is the only member living in a widespread northern riding who did not have one cent of long-distance telephone calls, according to the expenses that were tabled here several weeks ago. I do not know how he communicated with these people. The whole thing is perverse.
I go back to planning by the ministry. The new minister needs planners in his ministry. If that ministry is going to do what it should be doing, it should be able to help us find diversification so our young people will stay in the north. Those of us who come from northern Ontario know full well that the chances of our kids remaining there are remote.
We have to have planning power in that ministry. It should not be running around with a chequebook, giving out dumb patronage -- a piece of road here and a piece there -- because it might result in five votes. One never knew whether the road was required because of the traffic volume or what -- only that it made good political sense. That is what that crazy ministry was all about.
Similarly, if one wanted to talk to officials in another ministry, such as the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, one found they felt that intrusion by the Ministry of Northern Affairs was totally unacceptable. Then that government wondered why we did not support it.
When there was massive unemployment in many communities in northern Ontario, what did that government do? It ran in with a chequebook and gave a few bucks to do a little study. One only has to look at Atikokan, which faced tremendous hardship when two mines closed. The government ran in there and put in a little hydro unit. It did not get serious about studying the problem and doing what it could, so the people moved out. I do not think the unit is even going to be used, is it? I think it has been shut down because there is no necessity for it. But there were some construction jobs while the unit was being built.
Cynicism about the north is unacceptable; it is just god-awful. I get so angry as a northerner when I know that we have the resources up there and that our kids -- I have two of them in university now -- will not come back. There will be no opportunity for them to come back, unless they want to work in a mine. Even then, Sudbury has dropped from 19,000 miners at Inco alone to 7,100 hourly rated employees over 13 years. None of the kids is coming back.
We have the capacity, we have the material and we have the resources. What we have never had is the willingness to have government become the catalyst to bring in industry as other countries do. For example, West Germany plans with business and labour, and government infuses a little capital to get some secondary industry going where it is wanted. Sprinkling a little money here and there is not going to do it. It has to be planned, and I hope this government will do that. The former government did not plan. It ignored the north or used it as a place to draw off resources, and to heck with the people there.
I know this government will be more sensitive in many ways because of our agreement with it regarding, for instance, the transportation of people who are ill. That has been on the books for two and a half years at the urging of the member for Port Arthur (Mr. Foulds). It was supported and passed but the Tory government would not introduce it. During the election campaign, funnily enough, they found they could pay for the first trip.
A family in my constituency has a 10-month-old son. The man earns $630 every two weeks and his bills to bring that child to the Hospital for Sick Children totalled $1,900, which is three pays. We could not get the old government to budge. It was intransigent. In fact, it was dead but did not realize it was time to fall over. We have given it that little push and it is over now. We are going to help families to bring their children here for the care they need.
For that reason, we in this party laugh at this silly amendment. Only two days ago they voted aye for supply for the government of Ontario to have money until the end of October, and two days later they are voting no confidence. That is why that party had to go and why our party will support this government as long as it adheres to the agreement we have with it.
Mr. Callahan: I was going to start off by saying, "To be or not to be," because I feel rather like Hamlet in his soliloquy when I look around this chamber. I want to address the significant issues and say why I support this government and why I am confident a Liberal government will be the government.
The Conservatives keep talking about an unholy alliance. What they do not recognize is that after 42 years in power there were so many blatant things that both parties were able to pick them up very quickly. Now we are trying to deal with them very quickly rather than delay them another four or five months.
It is absolutely ridiculous, when the government comes forth with very sensitive efforts to deal with the sins of 42 years, that the approach is taken not to support it. If members read through the statement by my leader, they will find contained therein a concern for people who have been left without any assistance or help over the past 42 years.
As I looked at the legislation coming out of Queen's Park, the question was what Martin Goldfarb wanted -- or was it Decima? It was not a question of new ideas; it was a question of old, rehashed ideas. The government never seemed to address in advance; it seemed to address in the past. The only time any legislation of significant value came out of here was when it was taken from one of the opposition parties.
I suggest to the members opposite that if they go through this statement, they will see a new type of government, a government of the people, by the people, not that of some pollster or special group. They will see the opening of a new door that had to be opened and was begging to be opened.
In some respects, the door was a bit easier to open in view of the massive majority the Conservatives in Ottawa got with their great promises that there would be government for the people, by the people. Of course, that was if one was not a senior citizen. We all saw what happened. We saw the people of this country rise up and say, "You cannot do that." That is exactly what happened on May 2. The people of this province rose up and said as one, "I have never known any other government except Conservative government if I am under the age of 42, but I do not like what is going on."
I suggest to the members that if they read through this document carefully, they cannot seriously say they do not support the present government. It is a breath of fresh air; every item is a breath of fresh air.
I come from a community where to be a Liberal was like being a Christian during the days of the Romans. Patronage was passed around to the privileged, to the friends. I am glad to see my leader has suggested that is over. We all know Mr. Mulroney suggested it as well. However, if the members compare that with the other sensitive items in here, they will recognize we are saying to the people of Ontario, we are going to select the best possible people in this province. It is not based on whether they happen to be carrying a Conservative membership card.
I remember one professional, whose exact title I will not give, who carried three cards: a Liberal card, a Conservative card and a New Democratic Party card. He never knew where it was going to come from and he was covering all the bases. I suggest it is a significant feature that we are no longer going to see this done on the basis of which party one belongs to; it is going to be done on the basis of one's talents. That will be to the benefit of the people of this province, and the dollars that will be paid to the people who get those positions will be money well spent.
Let me give the members a few examples of what I see as the stagnant approach of the previous government. A person in my riding has a grandson who, unfortunately, was born so ugly he would probably make the Elephant Man look like Clark Gable. He is two years old and has an excellent mind. That young child could be helped very significantly by having operations. If the doctor chose to perform one operation today, one tomorrow, one the next day and one the next day, the Ontario health insurance plan would pay for all four operations. If the doctor in his wisdom chose to have all the operations at once, they would pay for only one operation. It is ludicrous that a young child should be treated in that fashion; it does not smack of any degree of sensitivity.
I will give another example. We had a $40-million expansion at our hospital in Brampton. On one floor we have the most excellent cardiac acute care centre anyone has ever seen; it has eight beds. The only thing that occupies it is a plastic dummy because we do not have the funds to open that $40-million expansion.
We have other instances throughout Ontario. It is rampant. There was a 2.7 per cent increase for operating funds by the former government, with the great credit rating it told us about. We settle with our nurses for five and we are immediately in the red. Yet they take money from lotteries and use it for little things such as pleasing the people in a particular riding where the seat perhaps is not safe. They look at it as being money they themselves can use as they wish.
The statement by the Premier suggests we are going to improve things such as health care and education. We are going to look at the question of lottery funds and look after the essential items of the community, of the people. If there is some money left over, that is fine. One can use that for the fun things.
Mr. Callahan: Well, I am reading it into the document. I may be chastised afterwards if that is not the case, but I am reading that approach into this document. Let me refer the member for Mississauga East (Mr. Gregory) to chapter and verse.
On page 17 of the document it states: "The taxpayers trust us to put their money to the best possible use. We will not let them down. Any policy or program that is outside a framework of fiscal responsibility is nothing less than a boomerang that will turn around and smash social progress." If that does not contain what I have said, then I am misreading it.
I refer members to page 18 as well, where it states, "As one measure of this government's firm commitment to sound financial management, I am announcing today a government-wide review of all existing and planned advertising expenditures, effective immediately." That is certainly a turnaround from what went on over the years. I used to watch television, and every ad seemed to have "Ontari-ari-ari-o" in it. It seemed to have something about the Conservatives. It might be "conserve energy," "conserve this, conserve that." There was always that sort of subliminal advertising.
There seemed to be lots of money around to do that but not for proper funding of hospitals and education. The policy of this party, as stated in the Premier's statement, is: "Our top priority is protecting the interests of the people of this province. Every policy we pursue, every piece of legislation we introduce will be based on that principle." This statement rings a lot truer than the ones I heard during the campaign about "let us keep the promise."
It says the most important test for legislation or programs will be, is it fair to the people of Ontario? That certainly has the sound of something very new and open. It is the reason that people in my riding come up to me and say, "I voted for you, Bob." I knew they were Tories. They saw what was going on. They were fed up with it. They wanted fresh air in this House. They wanted this to become a people place again. That is exactly what is going on. It is dealing with the taxpayer's money on the basis of what is good for the taxpayer.
If one reflects on what happened between May 2 and June 26, it looked like scurrying for nuts because winter was coming. There was $191 million -- am I off base? Was it $191,000 that was placed for supporters and friends? It was $181 million. Think what could have been done with that money. The approach of our government is to roll that back as well, or at least look at doing that, in order to meet the commitment to look after the taxpayer's dollar. We are not going to look after it for ourselves. We are not going to look at it for what we can do for ourselves. We are looking after it for the people of this province whom we represent.
Any time a party or politicians get to the point where they do not know who put them there, they deserve to be defeated. I throw that out in response to the question put to me by the New Democratic Party.
I offer this statement as probably one of the most significant, far-reaching, largest breaths of fresh air; an entire change of government approach. No longer are we looking at it from the standpoint of what the professional pollster will tell us is good for Ontario. We are looking at it with a very definite yardstick. No longer will we be necessarily looking to our friends in the United States for what is good there and bringing it here. It will all be weighed against the question of whether it is good for the people of Ontario.
In the past the Conservative government has looked at procedures in the United States, such as the regional government arrangement and even education, and brought them to Ontario without testing them in advance. We have seen problems in both those areas.
From this point on, from reading the statement of my leader the Premier, the approach will be what is fair and good for the people of Ontario. If the people in the Conservative Party cannot support that, then they will not support anything. We could put out anything that might appeal to them and they would still vote against it. That is not the way parliaments are supposed to work. Unfortunately, they do, I suppose. Parliament should work on the question of what is in the best interest, what is the best compromise for the people of this province.
One day we will get television -- that is another feature. I am surprised there has never been television in this House. Television in the House is probably the best protector to ensure the democratic rights of people are upheld, to make certain the politicians representing the people are earning their bucks, that they are not wandering all over the House, that they are here and saying relevant things. I am really surprised it took a new government to bring in television. It should have been brought in a long time ago. It has certainly been around long enough.
I can recall being on council in my own city for something like 16 years when television was brought in. Some of my colleagues on council said, "We want to get rid of it." I said: "Why do you want to get rid of it? Do you not want the people back home or the people out there who voted for you to see what you are doing? That could be the only reason you would not want television in this chamber."
I urge members to consider the factors in this report. There are many more that ring of a sensitivity to people, a new approach to people and a new approach to government. I would hope there would be some Conservative members who would reflect on that, look at it and perhaps find, despite the discipline of parties, that they might vote according to their conscience as opposed to what in unified fashion they are told to do.
There is a great book by Gordon Aiken. He talks about the clapping seals or trained seals. When it comes to an issue where there are good points to be presented by either party, I think they should be recognized and not simply criticized for the benefit of criticism. Perhaps that is the way we will get some compromise and some good legislation as opposed to always standing up and being negative.
Mr. Callahan: If the member for Mississauga East looks through the report, he will find that this government, as indicated by the Premier, is one that is going to involve everybody. It is not a question that because one party simply happens to be the government it can do as it likes. It is a question of involving the best talents of everybody in this House. That is, again, a credential of a very intelligent approach to government. It is certainly going to result in better government for the people.
I have no difficulty in accepting the statements made by the Premier. I have no difficulty in supporting them. In fact, I do not think any person who really is sensitive and concerned about the voters of Ontario could possibly do anything other than support this document.
We have been asked to pass a motion of confidence in the present government. I have some difficulty in expressing confidence in any government that was not directly elected by the people of this great province, above all things a government brought about by the overpowering greed of two political parties thirsting for power at all and any cost. I realize what the opposition parties must have gone through over the past 42 years, many times being so close they could taste power but never quite accomplishing it.
Today is a perfect example of what I am talking about. There was the introduction of an education act for the extension of separate school funding, a bill that obviously will not be ready in time for the September school date. Instead, the present government intends to bypass the House to fund the schools in time for September.
It is obvious the present government will not guarantee free access for all students. I ask the government how it expects to have the confidence of this House after eight short days in government and the introduction of a bill that will be funded by the public, yet with no guarantee of space for all students of this province regardless of their religious beliefs.
This is the greatest province in our country. That did not happen by mistake. That was not the result of some sort of fluke or luck of the draw, so to speak. That was a result of years of careful, good government; good management and Progressive Conservative ideas.
I noted with interest the Premier's ministerial statement of July 2. The points it contained were not the bold, new initiatives the Premier speaks of. Some of these ideas have been stolen, robbed or pillaged from the Conservative platform in the last election.
As a representative of a riding made up of people from many walks in life -- farming, urban and industry -- I am concerned that the people of this province also do not share the confidence of the present government. I ask how we as a party could vote confidence in the present government today. Because of the present nondemocratic process under which this government exists it will not receive the confidence of this party.
The member for Sudbury East (Mr. Martel) spoke of absolute rule by divine right by the Tories. That is not the case. We are not crying sour apples. We are simply saying the only way to power by the opposition has been a deal inside the House when the election results showed a larger number of seats were won by our party, not by either opposition party. A deal had to be struck to gain power.
It is easy to criticize the past 42 years of government, but the people of this province cannot afford the socialist programs being proposed by the opposition party to my far left. I warn the government that the power to tax is the power to destroy. The people in business and industry who are so important and vital to this province eventually will stand up and say, "Enough is enough." We have seen it in British Columbia and other parts of the free world. The only road to recovery is sound economic planning by sound-thinking people who have the ability to govern wisely.
Sometimes I wonder whether the opposition party to my left really understands how the economic world works in Ontario. Unlike that opposition party, we do not make gains by capitalizing on disenchantment and stroking the fires of discontent. We offer progressive, forward, positive ideas to the people of this province and that is why this province is as rich and successful as it is today.
Mr. Breaugh: The motion before the House is a rather unusual one for us to see at this time in a session because it is a confidence motion put by a government. One would have thought when we had a money motion before us a couple of days ago and all three parties supported that motion, that traditionally would be considered by all parliamentarians as the ultimate confidence test. When one spends money, that is an indication of whether the House really has confidence in the government. All three parties at that time said, "Yes, we do." It appears one of the parties has had a change of heart in the last few days and has now decided it does not.
This is going to be an unusual parliament. It came about in an election that did something which has become rather common; it dealt us a minority government. After all, it is the electorate that decides how many members there will be from each of the parties and specifically who will be members of this Legislature.
There seems to be confusion in some members' minds about what a parliament is. Some members do not seem to want to understand or to care much about parliamentary history or tradition, but that is what the people do when we have an election. They elect members to a parliament; in this case, to this one.
From that comes a smaller group of people referred to as the government. It appears some are having great difficulty coming to terms with that. Some in this Legislature do not seem to want to realize that the electorate did not give them a majority. I seem to recall a fellow by the name of Joe Clark who came up with a minority in the federal Parliament. Joe decided, "Never mind what the electors had to say, I have a majority."
Somehow a weird notion seems to be creeping into the process that members of a Legislature, duly elected, cannot go about organizing themselves to form a government. It seems to me we have done this with great regularity in the past little while, for a decade or so, by entering into agreements, verbal and otherwise, with those who want to form a government as to what legislation would proceed, when it would proceed, how we would change the rules of the House and a great many things.
All those agreements were struck. I did not hear anyone yelling that in some wonderful way it was not proper for members to sort out the business. Given the results of the last election, I do not know how this Legislature would proceed without some form of agreement.
There are those who seem somewhat taken aback that this time somebody had the audacity actually to write down an agreement and to suggest the agreement ought to be more concrete and specific than previous agreements had been. I was here in 1975 and 1977 when agreements were made on a daily basis with the then government formed around the Progressive Conservative Party.
I did not hear a Tory in the place cry, "Foul." I heard them say: "That is the way minority governments work. We want stability for the minority government." I heard them say in the period from 1977 to 1981 that a minority government could last for four years with those agreements.
If that party came to agreements with opposition parties to make the government survive for a four-year period, I would have thought there surely would have been no difficulty with an agreement for a two-year period. There seems to be a lot of disappointment, which is natural, that they were not the ones who managed to come to some agreement.
As one who was negotiating for my party, I want to put on the record again that if there was some great principle, some great religious conviction, some great parliamentary tradition, some great democratic process at work that stopped the Conservative Party of Ontario from coming to an agreement this time, it sure as hell was not operative in the negotiations themselves.
If great principles evolved, they evolved in the corridors and in front of the television lights. They were not present at the bargaining table. At the bargaining table all parties entered into agreements and discussions in exactly the same way. When we met with those who represented the Tories in Ontario during those negotiations, I have to say that we had to keep apace.
The offers came hot and heavy. There was no mention of Standard and Poor's and fiscal responsibility and no worry about the deficit. We had to write like mad to keep up with the offers. They had offers on the table we had not heard about before. They were not just dumb socialist ideas; they were real dumb socialist ideas that were flowing out.
Since all this has transpired and we now have a government in Ontario, the second one in a very short period, it does seem to me, unusual though it might be, that some formality such as this no confidence motion this afternoon is appropriate.
I think it is reasonable for me, as an opposition member, to say we have entered into a lot of discussions about this. I wish I could say that all of this is going to unfold exactly the way I would like it to happen. I do not think that is very likely, but I do know this much: as someone who has worked in this Legislature during several minority periods, I do know this is a better process than the one we used before.
At least I have some yardstick whereby I can measure our own accomplishments as a political party. I can measure what the government either has done, or has tried to do, or forgot to do entirely. A couple of years from now we will be able to make that judgement call about whether that was a good way to proceed or not.
It is unusual, I will admit, that in the history of parliaments no one has ever quite gone about it in this way. But then again, I seem to recall that in the early parliaments there were no parties, none at all, no recognized political entity. Therefore this kind of thing had to happen in a slightly different way. We do not do that --
It is an unusual way to proceed but it is, I believe, a better way to proceed than what we did in the two previous minorities. I think I should try to cover a couple of other points here. Somebody made mention earlier this afternoon, I forget who, but it is probably relatively unimportant so I will not search out his name, that this was an "unholy alliance" struck in secret. As one who was a participant in that process, I have to say there were lots of folks who were ready to make that unholy alliance in exactly the same way. His political party was there right at the trough just as quick as could be.
The negotiations were conducted in private, that is true, but there were as many daily briefings to the press about what was happening as we could make available -- where the meetings were and all of that. I do not think anybody in his right mind would suggest for a moment that one could have that kind of negotiating process in front of television cameras. I do not know of any negotiating process that ever happens in that way. There are some formalities around the edge that are very public.
But the public of Ontario knows they elected a Legislature that involved a minority government. The public knows that all three political parties attempted to set forward an agenda for reform, so to speak; an accord or an agreement or whatever one wants to call it. At any rate, the parties decided they would try to put down on paper what we would do for the next little while. We came to an agreement with one political party and not with another.
But that is not to say that one was willing and the other was unwilling. I was there and I can state that both were very willing participants in the process. Frankly, so were we. We believed it would be quite possible. I have a little difficulty with this when I go back home because there are people who think we never have to vote yes or no on an issue. There were some people who told me, "Do not strike an agreement with either of them; do not vote with either party."
But there comes a time when somebody calls a bill for second reading and we do have to stand up or sit down. There will come a time this afternoon when we will have to say yes or no. It is the way a parliament functions: from time to time we have to vote with a group of folks we might not normally want to side with. That is why we are here.
We are not here to take a walk every day when the votes are called. We are not here to have a little vacation during the legislative period. It is our job, however unpleasant it might be from time to time, to be legislators, to be here when the votes are called and to make up our minds one way or the other. That is precisely what happened. The no-confidence motion that is before us this afternoon gives us perhaps our second opportunity -- the first one was when we voted on the supply motion -- to express whether we are in or out of this agreement to do things.
I reread again this afternoon the speech made by the Premier. It is not everything I wanted it to be, but I cannot remember a time in my political career when I really wrote the complete ticket and the world unfolded exactly as I thought it should. Politics for me is always about opportunities to help other people, to do the best I can, and that is all I ever promise anybody. In his statement there are a lot of things for which I have worked a long time. Let me just run down a couple and then I will leave members alone for a while.
In this House there has been a lot of debate about televising the proceedings because many of our members are aware folks back home are not too sure there is a Legislature here. They think there is a government in Ontario but they are not too sure about the process. They want to know, quite rightly, why it is they cannot see the Legislature of Ontario on television. They can watch their city council and federal parliament, but why cannot they watch the proceedings of the Ontario Legislature?
That is a good question, and it goes back to why it was possible to strike an agreement with one group and not another. This group of people, me in particular, expressed an interest over the years in televising the proceedings here. We have gone through committees as to how that might be done. We have had debates in the Legislature. We have voted on it, but it still has not happened, because the previous government, frankly, just did not want it.
I feel reasonably confident that within a short period of time the proceedings of this Legislature will be as available to my constituents as the Oshawa city council meeting. That pleases me. It offers me the opportunity to say that is one good idea I think is worthy of a vote of confidence this afternoon.
A range of changes have been proposed around the standing orders of the Legislature, how committees function and openness in government. I will probably not be happy with the final result of all that work, but I will be immensely happy that I now feel we have the opportunity to actually do all those things that, frankly, four or five years ago I thought we had agreed upon.
All of that stood in place until the reality of March 19, 1981, hit this joint, and the government of Ontario became a Tory majority again. Then I found out, much to my dismay, all bets were off, all agreements were broken, everything the three parties had agreed to was out the window because one party had a majority and did not want to do anything more.
For me, the sad reality was March 19, 1981. I did not like that. I suppose I sulked around the building for a while; however, that was political reality. The people of Ontario said: "This is what we want," and that is what they got. On May 2, 1985, another political reality hit. Some people have not accepted that yet. I understand that.
Dare I say I have friends who sat in the cabinet who are still wistfully waiting for the chauffeur at the east door? He is never going to arrive. I know some folks who had the opportunity to just about get into the cabinet for a short period of time. They did not even get the cars warmed up, or a chance to redecorate the executive suites. They were just there for a brief moment in history, and now they are gone.
Mr. Breaugh: The member for Leeds is interjecting here. I want to put on the record, and I would not do it if he had not interjected, that if this group here had wanted to be in cabinet, have $12 million deposited in a Swiss bank account and every kind of limousine we wanted, there was an opportunity, for a little while one afternoon in a room of this building, to get it all. We chose not to.
Mr. Breaugh: I want to conclude by saying I do not anticipate this session of the Legislature is going to be very easy for many people. We have set out an agenda which is ambitious and difficult. We have a government which is a little bit new, and it shows around the edges. It will be a bit awkward. We have had slick for 42 years, so if we have something which is not quite as slick for a little while, it will please me no end. There is an opportunity for individual members to develop a role which is meaningful to them and their constituents.
So this motion this afternoon provides me with just a basic opportunity to say: "Yes, I want an opportunity to see if we can make this minority government work. We have laid out the goals we are trying to accomplish. We have pointed out a rough time frame in which we would like to get started, and we will do that." It is a minority. It is a difficult situation. We think we have arrived at a way to organize the legislative program for the next little while that makes sense to at least two of the parties here. If there is a third party that is unhappy, that is what one would call the realities of May 2. One party did not get the electoral results it wanted so badly and has had for such a long time; but then, again, I want to conclude by saying neither did we.
It would have been much nicer for us if we had been able to put together a government in Ontario, as we have done in three other provinces, but it did not happen. It is our job, as members of this parliament, to deal with the political reality and to try to structure it in such a way that it is positive in nature.
That leads me to the last little thing I want to say. There is a confidence motion with an amendment. It is one that we should deal with seriously. It is one that I think will provide us with the opportunity to say: "Let us proceed," as we had previously decided to proceed.
I, for one, hope we do not see a lot of games being played around this kind of stuff for the next little while around here. I have lived through minority governments where it was almost kamikaze time, where almost every legislative day had some great minefield exposed to the members. It was fun, it was a thrill a minute, but I am not convinced it gave the people of Ontario very much in the way of solid government. I know that it very often produced good legislation, but I also know, and have learned since those previous minorities, that legislation is part of the process, but that a government must then carry that out, whether it is a rent registry, a spills bill or regulations on occupational health and safety, all of those things have to happen.
I want to conclude by saying we will support this motion of confidence in the government this afternoon. It is not something we are all that comfortable with, but we have embarked on an endeavour that we think is positive. We think it will work and we are going to work very hard to make sure it does.
Mr. D. W. Smith: It is my pleasure today to speak as a member of the Legislative Assembly for the people of the Lambton riding. I feel very proud to stand in this House and be able to thank the constituents of Lambton for having given me this opportunity to represent them.
I want to congratulate each and every member who has been elected or re-elected to this Legislative Assembly, but especially I want to congratulate our leader, the member for London Centre (Mr. Peterson), who ran an excellent campaign for himself as well as helping the rest of the Liberal members to win their ridings. I believe he deserves to be the Premier of this province.
As members know, or at least a great number of members will know, Lorne Henderson represented my riding for approximately 22 years. It is only fitting that I should congratulate and commend him on those many years of service to the people of Lambton. I always believed Lorne was very liberal to the residents of Lambton, and I certainly --
Mr. D. W. Smith: l want to tell the members that the Lambton riding has Lake Huron as its north boundary, Middlesex on the east boundary line, Kent county on the south boundary and the St. Clair River and Sarnia township on the west boundary. Within this jurisdiction we have two Indian reserves, namely the Kettle and Stony Point Band and the Walpole Island Band. I might add that both of these reserves are doing an excellent job of governing themselves at the local level.
I want to make a few comments on the agricultural industry and say to the members here that it is in a very unstable position. The $500,000 capital gains exemption that can be used once in a lifetime may be a great help to the farmers who are of retirement age, but if our young people are unable to purchase these farms then it is meaningless to them. Some very large corporations are going to control more agriculture than they already do, and I do not believe this is good for the future of the food industry, or the world for that matter.
As long as the family farm is allowed, and if necessary helped, to survive, then our small communities and small businesses will be able to survive. This would keep a balance in our society that would be acceptable to our people and would also make our province strong again. Basic economics dictates that in order to have all sectors of society working well together and in balance with one another we first must have the primary producers, which are agriculture, forestry and fishing, in a strong position.
I believe that when the people voted on May 2 they were voting for a change. We did get 38 per cent of the popular vote and I feel that was enough to tell the people in this House that we are ready for a change. I think the Liberal Party can do a job under the guidance of our Premier. It has been a pleasure to say a few words here today and to speak favourably to the motion.
Mr. F. S. Miller: I rise today to speak against the motion of confidence in the government and to suggest there is every reason for us to do so. Our party awaited with great anticipation the statement the Premier introduced in this House this week. Like many other Ontarians, we were sadly disappointed.
It was a statement memorable more for its omissions than for its commissions. It was devoid of innovation, except for that which it found in our throne speech a month ago. It was also devoid of many of the commitments the Liberals themselves had made during the election campaign and since.
Mr. F. S. Miller: I have also heard of preordained decision-making, which seems to be the case over there. Neither we, the NDP nor the people of Ontario have reason to have confidence in this government's intentions or its ability to keep its promises and commitments.
I suggest a government that on day one of its presence in this House seriously alters some of its basic promises is not worthy of our confidence or our trust. We certainly did not agree with some of the Liberal policies during the campaign or afterwards, but we do agree, and we hope the NDP does, that a deal is a deal, a commitment is a commitment. When the Liberals leave the NDP at the altar, that party should stop and think.
In very simple terms we believe that a person or a political party or a government is only as good as its word. We ask how good this new government is. How much can we trust it in the weeks ahead? How can others trust it? Surely it is the height of hypocrisy for the Premier to stand here before us and say he and his party have suddenly realized that equal pay for work of equal value --
Mr. Martel: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The former Premier might not agree, but over the last number of years the Speaker has ruled that the word "hypocrisy" cannot be used in this House with respect to other members. You might ask the former Premier to withdraw it.
Mr. F. S. Miller: I will withdraw the words "height of hypocrisy" and simply say it is height of incredibility to discuss equal pay for work of equal value, to make a deal on that basis, and suddenly to determine it cannot be legislated in the private sector. Suddenly -- overnight, in fact -- the Liberals have realized, as we had, that the concept needs study; it does warrant consultation with the private sector.
We happen to agree that there will be problems over the implementation of the equal pay concept and that caution as well as commitment is warranted. That is why we have stated so since the beginning. During the election campaign we did not state otherwise, and we did not promise the New Democratic Party one thing only to stand up in this House and suddenly take another position. We in this party ask how could we possibly vote confidence in a party that could do an about-face so quickly on an issue that was a cornerstone of its election platform and of its accord with the NDP?
What of the other promises it made? What about child care? We on our side of the House committed ourselves to 7,500 places and $22 million on March 20. Now the government led by the member for London Centre, after affirmations of great commitment to child care during the election campaign and in the NDP accord, reduces the subject to seven words in its statement of this week. What about the 10,000 places that were promised? Has the government changed its mind on that? Is it possible it has had a change of heart?
Agriculture and acid rain get similar short shrift from a government whose leader went right across this province promising the moon and who apparently now is willing to deliver only a limp reference to those subjects in his statement.
We have a very real and special concern for agriculture. The agriculture and food industry of Ontario continues to make an outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of our province, and over the years successive Ontario Progressive Conservative governments have recognized and encouraged this. We have cause to be alarmed about what the new government intends for this vital industry.
We look at the Liberal cabinet, for example, and we see one member who makes his living from farming. What kind of representation for farming is that? How strong and effective is this one voice at the cabinet table for this tremendous sector of our economy? We do not have confidence in this government in this regard and we believe we speak for the agricultural community when we say this.
On the new government's very first day in office we said we were more than willing to be helpful, even patient. But it is difficult to be either when the member for London Centre states over and over again how much his government has accomplished in such a short time. It must be accomplishing it because only three ministers were in the House today, and certainly not the Premier.
We have to ask them what those accomplishments are. The Liberal Party goes to great lengths to stress that it has been waiting for 42 years to bring in innovative measures. Obviously that was not long enough, because the Liberals' first attempt this week was, to put it mildly, woefully disappointing and sadly lacking in any reflection of the great amount of thought that must have been given to the document the Premier introduced. After 42 years we got 43 initiatives, the majority of which were copied right from our speech from the throne.
We are quite willing to be charitable for a while. We are quite willing to work in that spirit. In that spirit we wonder if the new government is just suffering from amnesia at this state of its own development. Perhaps in the statement of intent the Liberal government forgot some of its commitments to the people of Ontario; commitments such as denticare, right-to-know legislation related to toxic substances, election campaign financing reform, French-language services, official bilingualism, post-secondary school financing, contract preference and other forms of affirmative action. That is just a small part of the list. I could go on and on.
On Tuesday we waited, as the people of Ontario did, to hear at least a reference to the Liberals' promise of a $100-million fund for new rental construction. We ourselves had committed considerably more, but we were willing to be patient with the new government until it found its way in this vital area. But there was not one word, not a hint. What has happened to that one? Has that commitment not survived the transition to power, the move from the first floor to the second floor? Has it been altered? Has it been scrapped altogether?
What about the promised elimination of Ontario health insurance plan premiums? We sat waiting breathlessly. How does the Treasurer (Mr. Nixon) feel about that? How does he feel about $1.6 billion? It did not matter when he sat over here; not at all. He would find it somewhere -- from general taxation. Now he has discovered it is three points, and perhaps four, of sales tax. We waited for a long time, but there was not a word, not a hint whether that promise would be kept now or at any time in the future.
There is no green paper, no discussion paper, no consultation paper. Does the idea live? Does it live in his heart? Has it died? What has happened to it? I heard it for so many years when I sat over there as Treasurer: "Just do away with them."
Mr. F. S. Miller: Overnight it could have been done; that fast. Now they need a study or something. They did not even talk about putting all the cards on the table. Maybe a few were under it; I do not know. Maybe they are not even in the game any more.
Mr. F. S. Miller: They will never be able to use "Time for a change" again. However, the time for the change for the Liberal Party will be much shorter than the time for the change of the Conservative Party.
I do not want to embarrass the government by reiterating all the accomplishments of our government during the seven weeks, but I recall to memory our significant initiatives in the areas of the environment and family law, for instance.
A sudden thought occurred to me today on family law. If a divorce occurs between this party and that party, does this party get half the seats? Do we divide them evenly down the middle, 12 New Democratic Party seats for the Liberals and 24 Liberal seats for the NDP? It sounds good, does it not? Can I work that deal out for those fellows? Will they vote no confidence today if I can get a commitment from the Liberals?
Family law reform will require equal division of assets. Certainly we would have brought that one in. Let us go on, not only with all the promises but also with the actions we took in the concrete form of legislation: a new ministry for youth employment and training; tourism promotion; housing; occupational health and safety; mine safety; social services; hospital funding -- part of the funding they are going to review is the assistance we gave the hospitals in the last week or so -- and agriculture. There were all kinds of areas of great concern.
Given that the Liberal Party announced its accord with the NDP on May 24, we in our party believe the new government had more than ample time during that month to prepare a document of intent that would not be such a poor comparison to our own speech from the throne, which was prepared in approximately the same time.
We have already sensed the new government's strategy and we know what it is trying to do. It is trying to blame the previous administration. They are trying to say we were indecisive. The truth is they were indecisive. They are indecisive now and they are inexperienced in power.
We suggest it will not wash. It just will not cover the indecision and inexperience of this administration. It certainly will not wash with us, and we believe the public will not buy it either. We are perfectly willing to admit we made mistakes. We are, after all, only human. But to suggest we did not leave behind a heritage of sound management and responsible and responsive policies is just plain wrong.
This new government inherits a constituency whose financial statement is sound. This new government will be ill advised to try to state otherwise because it simply would not be true. This new government inherits a deficit which again, this year, has been reduced and is down from both the 1983-84 level and the original budget estimate for this year. The level of our deficit is now the lowest per capita of any province in Canada.
This province is poised for a third continuous year of growth. Our unemployment rate is the lowest in Canada. Our job creation is the highest, exceeding the numbers of all the other provinces combined. The rate of growth is higher than any jurisdiction in the United States.
The Liberals should not try to tell us they cannot keep their commitments because of what they inherited from us. This new government and this new Premier know full well it is because of the sound management we have practised for so many years that it will be possible for progress and reform to continue in Ontario. They do not have to blame us for their shortcomings; rather, they have to thank us for their ability to bring in the kind of continuing progress that Ontarians expect from their government.
We in our party were surprised at suggestions this week that our government had somehow acted improperly in carrying out the responsibilities of government between May 2 and June 18. We remind members that the people elected us to govern; we were not chosen to do so by the New Democratic Party.
Surely the members opposite have learned already that the business of governing cannot come to a halt. Every day there are dozens of issues that need immediate attention. There are commitments to individuals and groups in our society that have to be kept. I say that with great respect because the members over there are discovering that now.
The members opposite are discovering how great the work load is, how onerous the decision-making process is when one is in government. I hope they appreciate that we worked very hard at it. We appreciate that they too are working hard. We simply want to make the point that one cannot bring society to a halt because one government may be overthrown. We carried on business as usual while we worked out who was going to sit on which side of the House.
I have gone through the funding commitments we made in the light of the Premier's suggestion that we have tied his hands as far as his own priorities are concerned. If the Premier believes any of our commitments were frivolous, we would like to know which ones.
We would like to know which commitments this government intends to alter or reduce or even cancel. Would it be the $60 million for health care, $43 million of which is for hospitals? Or would it be the $11 million for municipal affairs, $3.5 million of which is for assistance to the victims of the Barrie-area disaster; or the close to $4 million for services for the Ontario Provincial Police; or the more than $4 million for agricultural programs? Or perhaps it would be the $25 million for community and social services including $13 million for child-care initiatives.
We care about jobs. We believe we could have created 200,000 new jobs in this province this year. We already had created 120,000 at the end of the fifth month. What are the new government's targets? Do they share our belief that it is in the private sector that meaningful, lasting jobs will be created and maintained? A government without walls or barriers sounds very good; it looks good in the headlines, but it does not mean a whole lot to somebody who is out of work.
We are very anxious to hear how the NDP members can support this motion today, knowing totally that they have been betrayed and knowing full well that the agenda of this government falls far short in so many areas, job creation being just one of the most obvious.
The NDP vowed to oppose our speech from the throne before its members even saw it. They then vowed to support the new government's proposal before they even saw it. Taking those two steps certainly constitutes a rather bizarre approach to responsible opposition, in our opinion.
Today the NDP will presumably support the government even after having seen the document. I suggest such a move not only will endorse the proposals of the Liberal government but also will amount to an approval and endorsement of the betrayals and omissions of that document. We cannot do that. To do so would be a breach of trust with the people who voted for us.
"The government has evidenced its inability or unwillingness to honour its commitments to the people of Ontario in a number of areas including agriculture, rental housing and equal pay for work of equal value, and therefore the government does not have the confidence of the House."
Mr. Rae: I had fully intended simply to listen to the debate today, but I was sufficiently moved by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to want to say a few words in this debate before it closes.
What can one say about an opposition party that states, as it does on page 7 of the prepared text of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, "I reiterate our party's sincere intention to give the new government a chance." He expresses that thought in the middle of the speech, and at the end of the speech he says, "Now we are going to move no confidence in the government."
They should make up their minds. Either the opposition members want to have a government that has the confidence of the House or they do not; either they are going to give it a chance or they are not. The Tories say they want to be a responsible opposition. We have not seen such arrogance since Jack Pickersgill told Lester Pearson to stand up in 1957 and tell John Diefenbaker he did not have the right to govern because he was not a born Liberal.
No party has a God-given right to govern. The Conservative Party does not have a God-given right to govern, and neither does the Liberal Party. It is something that has to be earned by the nature of the democratic process. It is absurd, after eight days of a government, that the Leader of the Opposition himself recommended to the Lieutenant Governor --
Mr. Speaker: Order. I hope members will allow the member for York South to continue so he can be picked up by Hansard. In case Hansard has not picked it up, perhaps he would like to repeat it. I am quite sure members will give him an opportunity to continue.
Members now in the opposition recognized the reality. Two days ago their party voted supply. They voted what all of us realize, that in the traditions of the House, one needs to have supply in order to govern. Now, two days later, they say: "We want to be a responsible opposition and we want to give the government a chance. That is why we are moving a motion of no confidence."
These guys have learned nothing. Nothing has changed. They still cannot believe they are not the government. They cannot believe that after 42 years something has changed. They still think nobody else has the right to have a chance or the right to try to govern. They think nobody can do it but the Tories because they are divinely guided.
Let me make it very clear: minority parliaments have to be made to work and everybody in that parliament has an obligation to make it work. The Tory party may decide it is going to run around with a grenade in its mouth and the leader is going to say, "Watch me, I am going to pull the pin and we are going to blow up the whole thing." But that is not the way in which responsible government operates.
If a responsible government is going to operate in a minority parliament, everybody has an obligation to show that degree of responsibility. We do not have the luxury any more of playing the kinds of games the official opposition is playing, saying halfway through the speech that it wants to be responsible, charitable and give the government a chance, and then turning around at the end of the motion and saying: "Anyway, because this is what opposition does, we are going to move a motion of no confidence. We are going to say that things have not been done."
Lots of things have not been done. The government recognizes that and we recognize that, but the fight begins on the floor of this Legislature to see that those things get done. The fight begins in a minority parliament. The bargaining, the influence, the mobilization of public opinion, all those things happen.
Let me also say to the Tories that they are not the only party in this province which has a right to govern. Other people ought to be given a fair chance too. The Tories clearly do not believe in fairness or fair play. They have demonstrated that today in a way I would not have believed if I had not seen it with my own eyes.
Hon. Mr. Nixon: In the six minutes remaining, I am very glad to express my support for the motion and to urge the Leader of the Opposition to reconsider what he has put before the House this afternoon.
I ask him to ponder the events of the last eight days. I ask him to think of the sun shining down on that platform in the front of this building during the swearing-in ceremonies, when His Honour the Lieutenant Governor, accompanied by the Premier-designate, came up the walks leading to the Legislature.
The flags were flying and the bands were playing. People from all over the province had come to Toronto -- from northern Ontario, the farming areas, the urban areas of Metropolitan Toronto and the French-speaking communities of this land. They were proud to see that, after 42 years, an alternative had come forward that they could support and have confidence in.
I had that feeling when the present Premier came up the walk with his lovely wife and family, came up the steps and took the oaths of office and we as members of the administration were sworn in in his support. Since that time this place has seen more constructive, positive activity than at any time in the last decade. There has not been a sitting of the Legislature since we took office in which there have not been important statements made to this House.
One of the most important statements made in the last 50 years was made today by my honourable colleague the Minister of Education (Mr. Conway), supported by the Attorney General (Mr. Scott), which is going to implement fairness in education funding, something that has been needed in this jurisdiction for many years indeed.
All of us in this House should be proud that the democratic process, working as it has, has brought to the fore a new Premier with new ideas and capabilities that have been needed in this province for many years. Those of us who have sat in the chamber in the past have known that under the previous administration -- not just the previous Premier's administration -- this House has not had an opportunity to come to grips with the real problems of Ontario. Any sort of reform activity has been stultified, has been drugged and has been left asleep in the government benches --
Hon. Mr. Nixon: -- with one or two vocal defenders at the fore defending, as best she might, the moribund, old administration that had long outlived its usefulness. I would say the principal defender of the old government is probably one of the principal defenders of, let us say, the new Leader of the Opposition, whose position is anything but firm.
It is typical, I suppose, that the seat beside him is vacant even now, although we were glad to read that the leadership contenders had been brought together by the member for Eglinton (Mr. McFadden) and horse-whipped, or something, into agreeing that they would not bother him for a full year. Actually, the full year is not bad, but we in this House are now looking to two years of stability --
I simply want to close my remarks by saying again to the former Premier and his supporters that here is an opportunity for them to show some class. We have a new Premier and a new government. The former Premier has indicated, as properly he should, that as the new Leader of the Opposition he is going to give the government a chance.
We have had eight days filled with decision and leadership, but there are many more such days to come. We are confident that the motion is going to be sustained, but it really would be significant indeed if the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues would reconsider what has been put before the House this afternoon.
Let us all join together. We have an agenda for reform. There is not a person in this House who does not feel it should go forward. The speech from the throne, which was authored by the present Leader of the Opposition, responds almost point by point to that agenda for reform that is the agreement reached by the Liberals and the New Democratic Party. Here is a chance for them to support such an agenda. I earnestly ask all members in the House now and at voting time to support the motion calling for confidence and reject the amendment out of hand.
Andrewes, Ashe, Baetz, Barlow, Bennett, Brandt, Cousens, Davis, Dean, Elgie, Eves, Fish, Gillies, Gregory, Grossman, Guindon, Harris, Hennessy, Jackson, Johnson, J. M., Lane, Leluk, Marland, McCaffrey, McCague, McFadden, McLean, Miller, F. S., Mitchell;
Allen, Bossy, Bradley, Breaugh, Bryden, Callahan, Caplan, Charlton, Conway, Cooke, D. R., Cooke, D. S., Cordiano, Elston, Epp, Fontaine, Foulds, Fulton, Gigantes, Grande, Grier, Haggerty, Hayes, Henderson, Johnston, R. F., Kerrio, Keyes, Knight, Kwinter, Laughren, Lupusella;
Mackenzie, Mancini, Martel, McClellan, McGuigan, McKessock, Miller, G. I., Morin, Morin-Strom, Munro, Newman, Nixon, O'Neil, Offer, Peterson, Philip, Poirier, Polsinelli, Pouliot, Rae, Ramsay, Reville, Reycraft, Riddell, Ruprecht, Sargent, Smith, D. W., Smith, E. J., Sorbara, South, Swart, Sweeney, Van Horne, Ward, Warner, Wildman, Wrye.
Debate on the government motion respecting redistribution will be held tomorrow morning. We expect the debate will not be completed tomorrow but adjourned. The notice of motion that will appear in Orders and Notices tomorrow is as follows:
That the House consider motions 1 to 36 standing in Orders and Notices and further notices filed with the Clerk of the assembly relating to the provisions of the Report upon the Redistribution of Ontario into Electoral Districts, such notices to be published in Orders and Notices on a day prior to the conclusion of the debate on this resolution, and notwithstanding its previous terms of reference, the commission is hereby authorized to give consideration to all motions so filed and to all submissions reported in Hansard during the discussion of this resolution.
On Monday afternoon, July 8, we will have second reading and committee of the whole House on a government bill to be introduced tomorrow respecting the Workers' Compensation Board, and on Tuesday, July 9, in the afternoon and evening, second reading of Bill 30. On Wednesday, July 10, the House will sit in the afternoon at two o'clock with routine proceedings, including question period, followed by second reading of Bill 30. On Thursday, July 11, in the afternoon and evening, we will have second reading of Bill 30, if the time is required; if time permits, other business will be arranged.