Mr Kormos: The Legislature today is graced with the presence of a number of Niagara College students who came here from Welland this morning and who are sitting as close to the government as they can, hoping that the government will turn its deaf ear to them, listen to what they have to say and indeed hear, for once, what they have to say.
These students are first- and second-year social service students from Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology. Earlier today Ralph Martin, Mark Jarrett and Leanne Saxton spoke with the media and other personnel here at Queen’s Park. These people aspire to perform work in their communities which will benefit those people who need their help, those people who require the voice, the advocacy, the assistance and the counsel of people like these good people who will be graduating from social service programs.
These same people, good people, qualified and competent people like Goldie Hill, Rick Lutz, Phil Durrant and Lynn Bird, are deathly afraid, and so are their teachers, that by virtue of being community college graduates they are going to be excluded from the legislation being considered by this government; that is to say, that this government will disregard the talents and skills of community college social service graduates in favour of only those people who have BSWs or MSWs.
I say, on behalf of those people, that such an exclusion would be wrong. It would be unfair to them and, more important, it would be unfair to the thousands of people who would benefit from these social service graduates’ skills in their fields and in their communities.
Mr Jackson: Liberals are fond of bragging about their commitment to education but, on the eve of the Treasurer’s budget, it is time to set the record straight on the true state of education finance in this province. In 1985-86 the government allocated 19 cents of every dollar to school boards, colleges and universities; in 1989-90 it is still 19 cents per dollar. This puts the Liberals’ claims of exaggerated increases in perspective.
When the education community illustrates its need for more operational support, Liberals say the $320-million cut from health and post-secondary education federal transfer payments has tied their hands. Yet what they fail to mention is the fact that the federal government will lose over $450 million because of the new Ontario employer health tax. The EHT will cost school boards an estimated $85 million and universities over $24 million. It looks like our tax-grabbing Treasurer is the big winner again.
School boards received an 8.7 per cent increase. But in reality they will only get a 2.7 per cent base increase. So-called Liberal generosity cost property taxpayers $1 billion last year and is expected to cost another $800 million this year for education alone. Universities received 8 per cent. In reality, they will only get a 1.8 per cent base increase.
Mr Neumann: I would like to make all members aware of an extremely significant event which is occurring in Brantford this coming weekend. The Sweetgrass First Nations Language Council Inc is hosting the Keepers of Our Language conference at the Woodland Cultural Centre from 26 April through to 29 April.
This conference is designed to encourage greater knowledge and understanding of aboriginal languages. I was surprised to learn recently from one of the conference’s organizers that only 2.1 per cent of the native population in southern Ontario is able to speak the native languages.
Pride in native culture and traditions can be enhanced by strengthened native language programs. I am pleased that the native community branch of the Ministry of Citizenship has provided a grant of $20,000 to help Sweetgrass to organize this conference. Registrations have been received from all over Ontario and from the northern United States.
A very busy agenda is planned for the four days and participants will have the opportunity to speak in their particular native languages and to share their ideas and to help encourage more native Canadians to learn and utilize the languages used by their ancestors.
I am certainly encouraged, as the representative for Brantford, by the initiative of the Woodland Indian Cultural Centre in the many activities they sponsor at that centre for Indians across Canada. I know that all members will join me in wishing the Sweetgrass First Nations Language Council Inc every success with this conference.
Mrs Grier: Yesterday, as everyone knows, was Earth Day. Twenty years ago, when Earth Day was celebrated for the first time, not very many people in Canada acknowledged it. But yesterday hundreds of thousands of people turned out to march, to clean up parks and to plant trees. What they were saying was:
I was pleased to spend Earth Day with the Coalition on the Niagara Escarpment to speak to its annual meeting. The criticisms that I was able to make of this government’s handling of the Niagara Escarpment Commission apply far more generally to its environmental policies and the lack of commitment to environmental land use planning. Where are the food land guidelines? Remember Project X, a proposal to gut the Environmental Assessment Act? It has not gone away; it has merely gone underground.
The lack of adequate funding for the Niagara Escarpment Commission mirrors the lack of funding to the Ministry of the Environment. The refusal to rule out the possibility of garbage dumps on the escarpment is the failure of this government to deal with solid waste. The system of appointments to the commission -- do not forget the promise in the accord that there would be a committee to look at how public appointments will be made.
Yesterday people were showing how far they have come in understanding the threat to our earth and in their willingness to take tough action. People are saying to the government: “Make every day Earth Day. Don’t wait for 22 April to roll around again or to call an election before improving the environment.”
Mr Eves: Deborah and Stephen Jones of Parry Sound are the parents of a nine-year-old girl, Rebecca, who suffers from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound. In the past year, Mr Jones has been diagnosed himself with multiple sclerosis and, as a result, has found it necessary to accept alternative employment in Parry Sound. This has resulted in a decrease in his wages.
The area manager for the northeastern area of the Ministry of Community and Social Services recommended that a benefit of $24,980 be provided to Mr and Mrs Jones on behalf of their daughter, Rebecca, in order that the Joneses might purchase a wheelchair-accessible van.
I first brought this recommendation to the attention of the Minister of Community and Social Services on 30 November 1989, although I am sure that the minister was well aware of it before that time. In my letter I stated my support for this recommendation of the northeastern area office. Due to a decrease in Mr Jones’s wages, there is no possible way that he and his wife can afford this van, which is necessary to transport Rebecca to and from her various medical appointments.
I would also like to remind the members of the House that the Ministry of Health does not recognize the northern status of Parry Sound, so the Joneses do not receive any financial support from the northern health travel grant program either.
I would like to express my frustration and that of the Joneses at the fact that my letter of 30 November 1989 has not yet been responded to. I spoke to the minister in the House about this situation. He told me he would look into it, yet days later his special agreements officer wrote a letter indicating that no funding would be forthcoming --
A few weeks ago, the Lady Vee’s won the national university women’s basketball championship against the formidable Calgary Dinosaurs 74 to 65. The squad demonstrated, as it has all season, superb skill and true team effort. The captain of the Lady Vee’s is Shirlene McLean. She scored a game-leading 22 points and was named most valuable player in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union women’s basketball championships.
I feel the Lady Vee’s deserve special recognition for their accomplishments in 1989-90 and I wish to extend my congratulations to the players, coaching staff and to all who have contributed to their success.
Miss Martel: Most recently, the Sudbury Board of Education and the Sudbury District Roman Catholic Separate School Board forwarded their proposed list of capital expenditures to the Ministry of Education. Several comments must be made in this regard.
The English section of the public board has a serious need for partial roof replacements at both Larchwood and Ernie Checkeris elementary schools. Seven other schools require modifications for handicapped facilities, 16 need boiler replacements and another 19 require partial reroofing or roof replacements.
The French section of the same board has three priority capital projects requiring funding. The first is a new public elementary school in New Sudbury. The second and third include permanent elementary schools in Valley East and Rayside-Balfour. At present, both schools are portable schools with no gym facilities.
The separate school board’s main priority is a new English secondary school within city limits. The capacity required is for 1,300 students. At present, Marymount College has 18 portables on site used by 450 students daily on average. St Charles College has 12 portables on campus, and on average 350 students use them daily. From there, funding has been requested for renovations and additions to a number of other schools, in addition to the needs of boiler replacements, roof replacements etc.
Mr Jackson: As all members of the House are aware, Sunday 22 April marked the international observance of Earth Day. Yesterday’s many environmental projects and activities, which were participated in by thousands of people in Canada and around the world, brought to everyone’s attention the important role of the environment and its interdependent relationship with humanity.
Earth Day served as a sobering reminder to all that the damage we inflict on the environment is also a direct threat to human survival. Environmental lessons which we learned yesterday, however, must be put into practice by us throughout the year if we are to begin to reverse attitudes of environmental indifference and destructiveness in society.
One such lesson is that we as individuals can and should make a difference in the fight against pollution, first and foremost by altering our own personal and family lifestyle behaviour patterns with respect to what we do with the waste we produce every day.
It is in this that the Liberal government’s often merely reactive environmental programs are most seriously lacking. Whether the issue is the Hagersville tire fire, the Temagami forests or responsible environmental practices in the home, this government needs to take seriously the challenge issued to it yesterday regarding proactive environmental solutions before tragedy strikes.
Mr D. W. Smith: I want to tell the members of this House that at this moment there is test drilling taking place on a property in Plympton township to determine the quality and quantity of soil for a possible landfill site for the use of the municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.
I have met many times with a group called C-PAL, which stands for Citizens of Plympton Against Landfill, which is opposed to Metro Toronto garbage coming into Lambton county and specifically Plympton township. A letter I have read suggests that Metro Toronto is proposing to investigate a possible site for its landfill in Plympton township because of the opposition from ratepayers in other chosen locations. They should understand that they will face tremendous opposition from the people in Plympton township at this proposed site, and I want to add that I am supporting their fight.
I believe the government of Ontario has been working towards the reduction of waste that we put in landfill sites, but I think that the time has come to allow for more burning of waste so as to lessen the amount of landfill space required. I believe the technology is also available to make use of burning some waste for energy or for other purposes that have been proven acceptable, such as composting.
I think the ratepayers in my riding of Lambton are saying very forcefully that they do not want other people’s garbage and it is time to try different methods of disposing of waste in a more productive manner.
This agreement, the first of its kind in North America, is between the province of Ontario and the Teme-Augama Anishnabai. It provides for joint stewardship of about 40,000 hectares in the Temagami forest, constituting the district townships of Delhi, Acadia, Shelburne and Canton. There are 3,800 hectares of old red and white pine stands in these four townships.
The Lake Temagami area has long been recognized as one of our most beautiful natural areas. Temagami is perhaps the most intensively managed of Ontario’s forests, and our interim timber management plans reflect the environmental values of the area. The Ministry of Natural Resources will provide for no clear-cutting of old red and white pine stands.
People are aware of the various pressures and interests in the area, and the agreement we have signed today represents the kind of partnership that we are seeking with all those who have an interest in the resources of this area. The stewardship council that we are establishing for these four townships will allow us to work together to determine the best way to manage those lands. The council will include equal numbers of representatives appointed by the Teme-Augama Anishnabai and the provincial government. This agreement follows much discussion with Chief Potts and the executive council.
We have approved cutting licences today for the areas outside the four townships. No licences have been issued for Delhi, Acadia, Shelburne and Canton townships. Future decisions about the management of those four townships will be made by the council. The Teme-Augama Anishnabai will also review timber management plans for other areas of the forest.
The four townships cover 1,805 hectares of forest that were identified for harvest in the interim timber management plans. The approved licences account for 7,386 hectares identified for harvest and will provide a timber supply to nine mills. The Ontario Development Corp has issued a statement outlining the financial situation of the Fryer group of companies, including the William Milne and Sons sawmill in Temagami.
In addition, the Temagami-Timiskaming co-ordinating committee, a group consisting of representatives of several government ministries, will continue its work to address the important issue of economic development and diversification in the Temagami area.
Mr B. Rae: This is indeed an historic day. I can say to the government that it knows and I know that this proposal has been in front of it not just for a few weeks or a few days but for a matter of years. I say to the Liberal government it could have avoided an extraordinary amount of controversy, hardship and ill will if it had had the common sense to do what was crying out to be done when the proposal for a joint stewardship council was first put forward by Chief Potts and argued for by others. This must be seen as the very least the government needed to do in the circumstances.
I say to the minister who is speaking on behalf of the government today that this issue has been in front of her ministry and the government of the day for many, many years. It has taken a great deal of conflict, sacrifice and courage on the part of Chief Potts, Chief O’Sullivan and the members of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai band, and the conflict has extended far beyond the Temagami region to include vast parts of the province.
No doubt in a mood of self-congratulation the government will say, “How clever we are to have done this,” but I believe this solution was there to be achieved not just a few months ago but years ago. Those who argued at that time for this solution were vilified and dismissed by the government as being unrealistic.
The Premier said they were all engaged in some sort of a fantasy action when we knew perfectly well that a solution that involved the native people and recognized the interests of the Teme-Augama Anishnabai band had to be the foundation of a settlement in the Temagami region. It had to be there. It has taken arrests, it has taken conflict and we all know it has taken the prospect of an election to get this government to see the light of day. That is what it has taken. There is no other way to describe it.
I can tell the minister, and I am sure she is aware of it, that Chief Potts and I and members of his band have had several meetings, that even over the last four months I pulled together a group of trade unionists and community leaders as well as Chief Potts, to talk about the need for a stewardship council. I would urge the minister, when she is considering the makeup of the stewardship council in terms of the other interests in Temagami, to look to the leadership of the local community, to look to the trade union movement and to look to the great deal of interest that has been shown by the woodworkers, by the steelworkers and by others in terms of finding a solution to this particular problem.
I also want to say that this can only be seen very much as a first necessary step in pulling together the elements in the community which have to be pulled together. It is not good enough to dismiss as extremists those who see the environment and the future of the resource as important. It will not do any more to engage in that kind of rhetoric. It will not do any more to see those who want to save the resource for future generations as somehow being irresponsible when it comes to jobs. It will not do to take that kind of an approach.
It is also essential that this government stop resisting in the courts and stop fighting in the courts the claim by the Teme-Augama Anishnabai that they do indeed have aboriginal rights to land they and their people have occupied not for a few years but for thousands of years. These are the steps that we must take.
On a fait des progrès importants mais, tout de même, c’est seulement la première étape. Nous devons reconnaître tous les intérêts dans la région : les intérêts économiques des travailleurs et aussi ceux de la bande Teme-Augama Anishnabai. C’est essentiel pour le gouvernement de continuer le travail et de reconnaître enfin les droits territoriaux de la bande Teme-Augama Anishnabai.
Obviously this is a historic agreement and obviously we are happy that it has been signed. However, the whole controversy over Temagami has been raging for far too long and we feel that a lot of the concern and a lot of the effort that a very large number of people have had to make in the interests of protecting Temagami could have been saved if this government had been willing, once and for all, to have a full environmental assessment.
They chose not to, and at the time that decision was made in consideration of the amount of time that assessment would have taken. Is it not somewhat ironical that those discussions were made three and four years ago? We could have had the full environmental assessment and that would have been over with and at least there would have been some satisfaction for those groups and individuals who are still concerned today about the future of Temagami.
We are a little concerned about the fact that this agreement is rushed. It is obviously not a complete document and we do not know any of the details of the stewardship council. We do know that only last week there was a memo from the Deputy Minister of Northern Development that said the northern economy is in a mess. We do not know what that means to the Liberal government. We know what it means to northern Ontario.
We are certainly very happy about the protection of the red and white pine -- I think that goes without saying -- but we are not in a position to say that we support the agreement until we see the details and understand what the impact will be. Until we see the details, we cannot be satisfied that the agreement, which has been rushed, will address all of our concerns. We only hope and pray that the concerns of the greatest number of people will be addressed finally by this Liberal government, which has chosen for so many years to avoid addressing the issue of Temagami.
On 9 April 1990, the member for Parry Sound rose on a point of order concerning the implications on the powers of the Legislative Assembly and its committees of the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in the matter of Starr et al versus Houlden et al.
In particular, the member asked the Speaker to do the following: (1) with the assistance of the table, seek the legal opinions of three independent constitutional experts on the impact of last Thursday’s Supreme Court decision on the powers of the Legislative Assembly and of the committees of this Legislature; (2) review the scope and powers of legislative committees to call witnesses and ask questions of witnesses giving particular regard to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; (3) review the scopes and powers of the Legislature of Ontario to establish committees and refer matters to committees of the Legislature for study and review.
Members will know that matters raised in the point of order touch on section 92 of the Constitution Act, 1867, various sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, sections 36, 52, 58 and 59 of the Legislative Assembly Act and standing orders 105, 106, 107 and 123.
After considerable research and reflection, I must advise the House that I am unable to assess the procedures of the House and its committees in light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. Speakers -- and when I refer to Speakers I refer to chair occupants -- in this Parliament and other parliaments throughout the Commonwealth have consistently held the view that the Speaker will not give a decision upon a constitutional question or decide a question of law; nor will the Speaker give a decision on a hypothetical question.
While I am without jurisdiction to deal with the point of order raised by the member for Parry Sound, there is a forum where the concerns of the member may be considered. The House has authorized the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly to review the standing orders and procedures in the House and its committees. Indeed, the committee’s predecessor committees have considered a number of the matters raised by the member for Parry Sound.
In 1980 the standing committee on procedural affairs presented a Report on Witnesses Before Committees, which reviewed the status of witnesses before legislative committees. On the recommendation of the committee, the Attorney General referred the subject of witnesses before legislative committees to the Ontario Law Reform Commission. The commission’s Report on Witnesses before Legislative Committees was tabled in the House in 1981 and was considered by the standing committee on procedural affairs in 1982. On 9 December 1982 the committee presented to the House a Report on Standing Orders and Procedure (No 1), which dealt in part with witnesses before legislative committees. No action was taken by the House on the committee’s recommendations.
The standing committee on the Legislative Assembly may wish to give the matters raised by the member for Parry Sound further consideration. The committee has the power to retain expert staff, subject to the approval of the Board of Internal Economy, to assist in its undertaking any further review.
Mr Laughren: I have a question for the Treasurer. The Treasurer knows that every year prior to budget time we lay before him a series of proposals that would introduce some equity into his somewhat perverse tax system in the province of Ontario, and every year the Treasurer responds in a token way -- only in a token way -- to provide relief to low-income taxpayers in the province of Ontario.
This year it is no different. At this point in time a single person earning the minimum wage of $5 an hour will still pay $360 in provincial income taxes, and a single mother with two kids, earning $20,000 a year, will pay over $700 a year in income taxes to the province.
Does the Treasurer understand that the token items of relief he provides every year are more of an insult than they are any sense of relief, and does he not think it is time he did something substantial about that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I cannot respond in the affirmative to the honourable member’s leading question, but I can be sure that he and others are aware that our tax reduction program costs approximately, as I recall, $50 million and is directed towards the low-income groups. I also want to recall to his mind that we have quite a mature program of tax credits and rebates, which is about $900 million, which is directed towards senior citizens and low-income people as well, dealing with rebates to assist them in the cost of housing and payment of their taxes, if they own their own property, and to some extent for sales tax payments, although that is not a large one, but it does amount to quite a large sum from the Treasury.
I would not try to convince the honourable member that I am satisfied -- that is a ploy I have used on his gambit a number of times, and I do not know whether it will work any more -- but year by year we have enriched the program that he is critical of. So I do not for a moment feel that his criticism is inappropriate but I do feel that the government has responded in an effective way.
Mr Laughren: The government has responded all right. Last year the income tax reduction plan that the Treasurer talks about, which he says cost the Treasury about $50 million, as I recall it was closer to $40 million, but I will not quibble with him on that. That is true; about $40 million went to relieve the lowest-income taxpayers from paying income taxes in the province.
At the same time that the Treasurer provided $40 million of relief to our lowest-income earners in the province, he provided relief of $660 million to the wealthiest Ontario citizens because of a preferential treatment of the capital gains tax. Surely the Treasurer sees that as a truly perverse tax system in the province of Ontario. How does he justify that?
Hon R. F. Nixon: I suppose we could have a game of, let’s say, this amount is larger than that amount, because the honourable member will know also that in last year’s budget we removed OHIP premiums, which was recommended by the Social Assistance Review Committee. This was a clear saving, largely directed to low-income people, of $400 million.
As I say, in a $44-billion budget -- or $42 billion or whatever the number is as we move towards this year’s budget -- there is a wide variety of programs directed towards assisting the less fortunate segment of the earning public and particularly those who are in receipt of social assistance. The rate of growth of these programs is very large indeed, and while the honourable member would feel they were insufficient, we feel they are appropriate and commendable for the economic circumstances we presently face.
Mr Laughren: It is truly strange that the tax system this Liberal government has now in the province of Ontario, after five years under this Treasurer, is more inequitable than it was under the previous government. That is very, very strange for a Liberal government in this province.
The Treasurer talks about OHIP premiums. He knows that most OHIP premiums were already paid by employers in the province of Ontario and that there already was a premium assistance program for low-income earners anyway, so he need not think that is a great gift.
The Treasurer should know as well, since he is going to be applying his tax on top of the federal goods and services tax -- and that is going to be a windfall of about $600 million to the Ontario Treasury -- that therefore, surely to goodness, gives him room to lower the provincial sales tax from eight per cent to seven per cent without its doing much damage to the Ontario Treasury. We have laid before him alternative sources of revenue so that he can offset the damage done by the truly perverse GST at the federal level.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am concerned that the honourable member persists in stating in this House and elsewhere that the GST implemented by the federal government next 1 January will provide a windfall to the provincial Treasury.
Hon R. F. Nixon: I am saying to you, Mr Speaker, and to anyone else who has the intelligence to listen, that that is not correct. I would be very glad to table this information, and as a matter of fact there is a chance that during a statement I hope to make to the House tomorrow the matter will be dealt with. But I can assure the members that the information the honourable member has put before them today is wrong and that is the reason why, although I would like to reduce the sales tax, it is not at the top of the matters that are having last-minute consideration.
Mr B. Rae: I have a question for the Premier. Last week the Treasurer made a speech to a dinner, at which the Premier was present, in London. The Treasurer talked about the fact that the government was planning to establish a crown corporation which would assume responsibility for decisions on sewage and general development decisions on the creation of new sewage lines.
The Premier will know that last year there was a document prepared for several of his ministers, called Project X, which talked about the need for government to move more quickly, in tune with the interests of development and the need to take these development decisions away from the Ministry of the Environment. I wonder if the Premier can tell us why this new crown corporation is not going to be reporting to the Minister of the Environment.
Hon Mr Peterson: With his usual paranoia, my friend is perverting the things that my colleague said in his announcement. One of the realities of this province, as my honourable friend knows, is there is incredible pressure for the basic environmental infrastructure, particularly water and sewers. He also knows that we have a relatively sophisticated infrastructure but some of that is in urgent need of repair. We have dramatically increased the budget for that in the last few years; the Treasurer will help me out with the numbers in a moment. But we also know that the pressures from the various communities are extremely large, so the intention that the Treasurer has in mind is to dramatically increase the amount of money available for the renewal of infrastructure. It just makes sense, so I remind my honourable friend not to get paranoid.
Mr B. Rae: I wonder if the Premier would mind answering my question. My psychological state notwithstanding, I would like to ask the Premier a simple question. This crown corporation is going to have clear responsibility for decision-making affecting the future growth of municipalities, the future use of agricultural land and the speed and pace of development in southern Ontario and in northern Ontario. I have a very simple question for the Premier; I have not heard an answer. I wonder if the Premier can tell us, why is this agency not being held responsible to the Ministry of the Environment?
Hon Mr Peterson: Municipalities have the essential responsibility. Municipalities want more money in the situation. We are trying to accommodate that. The Ministry of the Environment will keep the regulatory authority; There is no question about that. Frankly, we have the dilemma now that the Ministry of the Environment is both the regulator and the standards-keeper, if I may use that word, as well as the contractor in these situations. This is going to keep very tough controls in the hands of the Ministry of the Environment and, in addition, provide a lot more money in conjunction with the municipalities. It is a win-win situation. My honourable friend is getting excited about nothing.
Mr B. Rae: Why does the Premier not just fess up and admit that what he is doing is, in fact, caving in to the same lobby which produced Project X? He is caving in to precisely those same interests which have always had such an influence over his government and he is doing precisely what it is they want. They want private development to dictate the pace, the speed, where, when and how, and, in fact, he is taking the control in terms of the ministry away from the Ministry of the Environment. Why is the Premier giving it all over to the private sector, which is exactly what it wants?
Hon Mr Peterson: That is absolutely, factually incorrect. My friend asks me to fess up. Why does my friend not fess up and say that he has such a wizened-up little soul that he does not like good news? He is not prepared to stand up and say this government is doing the right thing by assisting municipalities to rebuild their infrastructure. I think the problem is my friend opposite. He is only happy when there is bad news, and there is so much good news in this province, no wonder he is at a chronic low in terms of his miserable index.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of the Environment on the same subject. It really concerns the plan for this new agency that we understand is going to take away the minister’s authority over municipal sewage and water treatment systems, in spite of what we just heard a couple of moments ago.
We were shocked last August when Project X was leaked and, in that document, we knew that the Treasurer wanted to transfer the authority for environmental assessment approvals to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and, obviously, take it away from the Minister of the Environment. We also understood, even if the government did not, that environmental consequences would have been disastrous.
Obviously we thought we had won the battle against Project X. Now we understand we are dealing with Project X, part 2. This time the Environment ministry would lose responsibility totally. Does the minister support transferring authority for water and sewage treatment systems to an agency such as the Ministry of Municipal Affairs?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the Premier has clearly indicated, the regulatory agency is the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of the Environment is the ministry which assesses all of the projects which come forward. As the member knows, if there is a water project or a sewer project which comes forward, it must be approved.
Hon Mr Bradley: There is a complaint from the member for Lake Nipigon that it takes a long time, and I recognize it does, because we have always wanted, and will continue to want, to make sure that whatever proposals are put forward have been examined very carefully as to their environmental implications. Exactly the same thing will happen in this case.
What is being proposed is an initiative which will provide thousands upon thousands more dollars available to municipalities that wish to upgrade their systems; that wish to improve their systems; that wish, when they want to bring on, for instance, affordable housing, to ensure that they have systems which are acceptable. The Ministry of the Environment will continue, as it has in the past, to comment on all of these subdivision plans which come forward, on all of the proposals which come forward for consideration under the Planning Act. The Ministry of the Environment proposes any changes that are necessary or can turn down any of the applications and will continue to do so.
Mrs Marland: We feel that this Minister of the Environment has no credibility left. First of all, his government wanted to chip away at its responsibilities for the protection of our lands; now it wants to reduce its authority over our waters. With no action on Bill 309, we have no commitment to our air. Obviously that has gone up in smoke. One is left wondering if we even have a Minister of the Environment in Ontario.
The minister was nowhere to be seen during the Hagersville tire fire. He was nowhere to be seen with the problem of the Elmira drinking water being contaminated and when the decisions were made on the Rouge. We are still concerned.
This minister seems to have no part in any major decisions to do with the environment -- the Temagami and the greater Toronto area interim sites announcement etc. My question is: will the minister promise that the responsibilities for the water and sewage treatment systems, while remaining with his ministry, will have the same priority they had before the establishment of this alternative agency?
Hon Mr Bradley: That is exactly, of course, what the Premier has said and that is exactly what is going to happen, unlike the past. What is unfortunate is that there are so many people around here now who have a short memory of the past, who do not remember what things were like when that party was in power.
In those days, the priorities may have been far different, but I can assure members of the House that the priorities changed when the new government came into power, and exactly the factors which the member has repeated from our documents, which repeated what I have had to say -- that is, environmental and health considerations -- are paramount.
We have to put those into place or we are subject to prosecution under the various acts of the provincial government, so that is clearly where the priority has to be. Any municipality or provincial government, if it is operating a particular establishment, has to have its priority dealing with environmental and health considerations, and any other considerations come later.
In any case, if it was not clear before, it certainly is clear now that this Liberal government is in the hip pocket of the development industry. We certainly understand why it is that this agency is being established. Why else would we have this kind of relationship between the Liberal Party and the development industry? Is it just a coincidence that this announcement is this week?
We also know that the Toronto Star usually has the ear of the Liberal government, and today when the Star reported this agency, it said that it would give priority to building new sewage systems rather than the remaining existing ones in the older areas -- such as the riding of Mississauga South, I might add.
Mrs Marland: The minister knows that infrastructure renewal is as important as new capacity. That is why the beaches are closed every year: because his government has taken no action. What is the minister going to tell those municipalities that are desperately in need today of upgrades to sewage treatment plants that are polluting our waterways?
Hon Mr Bradley: I recognize very well that when the member’s party left power, it left an awful lot of problems in Ontario. People who have been around this House and people who have been observers for some period of time remember well many of the historic problems around this province that we have had to clean up and continue to clean up. As has been the case in the past, and will continue to be in the future, we will address those problems. We will assess them first of all and then address them with the necessary funding in every case.
The members of the opposition, depending on whom they are talking to -- it depends on whether they are talking to one side or the other side -- have a different story to say. They will say: “This government takes so long to assess things. The Ministry of the Environment takes too long.” We will continue to take whatever period of time it requires to ensure that all of the environmental implications of any proposals are assessed very carefully, in fact, there will continue to be the kind of strict restrictions on development that have been there before when that development is not conducive to the best interests of the environment in Ontario. For the member to make any other suggestions is certainly questionable at best.
Mr Eves: I have a question of the Minister of Health. On 12 April I asked her this question, to which I did not receive a specific answer, and last Wednesday 18 April I asked the same question of the Premier, who informed me that he would make her cognizant of the question.
As the minister is well aware, Dr Salerno did an external review of cardiac services at the Hospital for Sick Children. The hospital, as a result of his review, made a request to her ministry very specifically and directly for funding with respect to the shortage of critical care nurses at the hospital. Will the minister, now that she has had at least two weeks to prepare an answer, give us her response to that request?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member opposite should know that the Hospital for Sick Children requested Dr Salerno to come in to review its situation. He forwarded his report to the hospital on 2 April. The member should also know that I met with the board chairman and several members of the board. I want him to know that we are working very closely with the Hospital for Sick Children and other hospitals around the province to address the needs of Ontario residents.
Mr Eves: Are we going to get an answer to this specific question or not? On 12 April the minister started telling me, “The cardiovascular services available at the children’s hospital in western Ontario in London and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa with the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto, I think, will improve that situation.”
I talked to both Dr Williams, who is a cardiac surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, and Dr Salerno, who did the report, last week. They both told me the same thing. The minister does not know what she is talking about if she thinks that those two hospitals can do complex cardiovascular surgery on children. That is the issue we are talking about here, not all those other issues she likes to throw into the pot when she cannot give us a specific answer. This hospital made a very specific request, for $8 million for intensive care unit nurses at the Hospital for Sick Children. They want an answer now. What is the answer, yes or no?
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think the member opposite should know that as part of Dr Salerno’s report there was no request for money. In fact, we are working with the Hospital for Sick Children to ensure that we establish the kind of paediatric cardiac referral system which is appropriate. Half of the children referred to the Hospital for Sick Children come from outside the Metropolitan Toronto area. We know as well that the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa and the hospital in London offer very important services.
Yes, the Hospital for Sick Children offers some very unique and special services in the province. I want to assure the member that we are working very closely with them to meet the needs of the people of Ontario.
The surgeons at the hospital say that the average waiting time per child now for cardiac surgery is 15 weeks. They say that a medically acceptable period of time is six to eight weeks. They find this totally unacceptable. The Hospital for Sick Children is the only place in Canada that can do this specific type of surgery. Is the minister going to give them the specific funding they request to specifically address this specific problem? She should not give me all that general BS stuff. She should answer the question.
Hon Mrs Caplan: Perhaps a quote from Dr Salerno himself will put the member’s mind at ease. Dr Salerno said very clearly: “Co-ordination is very important. In the past there was disorganization. Now there are committees organized, working groups, experts. Cardiac surgeons in the province are getting together.” Dr Salerno has said: “We have our act together. We are putting our act together and, without co-ordination, there is disorganization.”
He went on to say -- and this is Dr Salerno -- ”And I think that what has happened in the last year or so, and I have been a part of all of this, demonstrates to me that there is a great commitment for the ministry, the hospital and cardiac surgeons to solve this problem.” We are doing that. We are working co-operatively one with the other, and I want to assure the member opposite that in fact he can have confidence that here in Ontario, people will have the services that they need when they need them.
At that time, the minister announced an $18-million, province-wide program to enhance the quality of emergency health services which was to include “the setting up of new regional trauma networks.” Since that time, we have seen nothing from this announcement and, in particular, for residents of northern Ontario. What we have heard instead are announcements from, for example, Victoria Hospital, of its decision to cease providing a medical escort team for the transport of critically ill patients by air because these activities have been unfunded by the ministry.
Can this minister tell us when we are going to see these regional trauma and emergency services networks in northern Ontario? What is the status of her program? Why has she not done anything in 10 months?
Hon Mrs Caplan: The member is wrong. In fact, we have been implementing exactly what I announced last June. I announced that there would be $9 million for additional services, for ambulances, in some 26 communities across the province and that the additional $9 million would be used to implement guidelines to help hospitals improve efficiency of their emergency wards. We designated seven new trauma networks. We established critical care hotline implementation right across this province. I can tell him that we have already got the one in Hamilton up and running. We have a model which I know the other parts of the province are emulating at this very time. We are implementing the program that was announced.
Mr Morin-Strom: Well, it is nice to hear that the minister has broadened her horizon from Toronto to Hamilton, at least. I wish this minister would look at the rest of the province for a change and look at the fact that in northern Ontario the services are not being improved. They have been cut back drastically.
She has been informed earlier this year by representatives of the hospitals in Sault Ste Marie and the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste Marie of the severe impact that is potentially there from this cutback of services that had been provided by Victoria Hospital. There is no replacement, to this point, for the Sudbury General Hospital, which was her alternative for a regional centre in the north.
When in fact are we going to see some action on this item so that emergency health care services are provided to northern communities on the same kind of basis as they are provided here in the city of Toronto?
Hon Mrs Caplan: Northern health issues present a very special challenge for the people of the province of Ontario, particularly because of geography and, often, remoteness. I can say to the member that Victoria Hospital in London is not the referral centre. I know that they accept some patients from the north, and I know as well that the hospitals in the north are looking at making sure that they have the transfer teams available.
We are always reviewing this important situation to make sure that the people of northern Ontario have access to the services they need and that we put in place the kind of network that will respond appropriately. In fact, we have designated Sudbury General Hospital, as well as Kingston General Hospital, Ottawa General Hospital, Hamilton General Hospital, McKellar General Hospital in Thunder Bay, Hotel Dieu of St Joseph Hospital in Windsor and Victoria Hospital in London as the bases for the trauma networks that will be established.
I can say to the member that it is not going to be implemented as quickly as anyone would like, including myself, but implementation is proceeding and I am quite pleased with the way it is going forward.
Mr Villeneuve: My question is to the Minister of Northern Development; it has to do with the memo that his deputy minister sent to the cabinet secretary. Does the minister agree that things in the north, economically speaking, are in very bad shape these days?
Hon Mr Fontaine: In response to the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, if there is a problem in the north today it is not due to this government. It is due to the 15 per cent and the dollar that was implemented by Mr Mulroney. The problem in the north is in the lumbering industry and the problem does not come from this province; it comes from Ottawa. That is the problem.
Mr Villeneuve: I will try again. Northern Ontario is still very much part of Ontario, as is eastern Ontario, and both those areas are having some problems. Mr Smith, in his letter to the cabinet secretary, mentioned that Dofasco has closed down a mine in Temagami and in Kirkland Lake. Virginiatown lost its major employer, a gold mine. Hearst, a town the minister knows very well, has major problems with the lumber industry -- Wawa, Sudbury, Marathon; we could go on.
Hon Mr Fontaine: First of all, I would like to remind my honourable friend that two years ago this government put in place the northern Ontario heritage fund with a commitment of over $37 million to new industry, which created close to 2,500 jobs in the last year and a half.
Second, we are working with the municipalities. We introduced a new program -- it is called the municipal incentive development program -- to help the municipalities form an economic commission or development board. Today there are 27 towns in the north where there are grants from that, $500,000 per town for over five years. Those towns are working together to try to diversify the economy.
I can go on. In the Timiskaming area, there is a whole list of initiatives that we did with the municipalities. First of all, we got them working together, which they never did before. Second, there is new industry, such as Pyrok and Mirolin and others that are interested in establishing themselves in that area.
When Dofasco left, it left a fund of $4 million that will be administered by the heritage fund board. They have their own board, but we are administering the money. On top of that, there are about four new mines that were opened in the last year and a half. People forget that it is not only the heritage board that puts --
Mr Kanter: First of all, I want to make it absolutely clear that I had no knowledge of or connection with that demonstration. However, my question to the Minister of Government Services does relate to paper, to paper that is recycled and unbleached.
I met recently with a representative of a company that sells 100 per cent recycled and unbleached paper. I understand that producing this type of product saves trees. Every tonne of 100 per cent recycled paper saves up to 17 trees compared to the production of virgin paper. It results in less air and water pollution and reduces the need for space in landfill sites. Could the minister indicate to the House whether his ministry is taking any action to introduce the use of recycled paper within government ministries?
Hon Mr Ward: I would like to respond to the member and his supporters. I do take to heart his assurances that it was only coincidental that the House was interrupted at the point of this question but, as the member knows full well, the government of Ontario is a very significant supplier of goods and services across the government, representing some $2 billion annually in purchases of both goods and services. When this is applied to the broader public sector, the total balloons to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $27 billion to $28 billion.
The member will know that we are proceeding on two fronts. First of all, last year we embarked on a major internal government recycling program. Subsequent to that we will be proceeding with some very significant changes in the way we purchase products. Although purchasing is very much decentralized across the government, we are taking steps to bring a much more co-ordinated approach to this. In the very near future my ministry will be offering to all government agencies a line of environmentally sensitive products, including recycled paper, envelopes, packaging, supplies and toner cartridges and will be expanding this further to other products over the course of time.
Mr Kanter: I am pleased to hear about initiatives with respect to the use of recycled paper. I wonder if the minister could also speak about other initiatives to ensure that the amount of paper in government offices is reduced or reused.
Hon Mr Ward: The member will know that about eight or nine months ago we introduced a recycling program in all of our Toronto-based offices. That will be fully implemented by the end of April. The response to that initiative has been overwhelming and we expect to expand it outside Toronto to other centres throughout Ontario. The impacts, we believe, will be very significant. But I want to assure the member that it does not just stop at paper products. Even in the letting of service contracts such as demolition permits, a lot of which is going on in Toronto right now as some of the older buildings are taken down, we are writing into those contracts a requirement that onsite recycling must take place. This will be a major component of any contracts that are let for those services.
In addition, the member will know that used furniture, for instance, is made available to non-profit agencies through the government warehousing facilities. This too is an effort not only to recycle but to reuse materials that are currently used by the government.
Mr Pouliot: My question is to the Minister of Health. Earlier this month I received information from physicians in northwestern Ontario and from the Thunder Bay branch of the Canadian Cancer Society that patients originating from Toronto for chemotherapy and being transported to Thunder Bay were getting their full transportation costs and other expenses -- the cost of an escort, for example -- yet when the people of northwestern Ontario, the people of Thunder Bay, come to Toronto seeking specialist medical treatment they can only be accompanied by an escort if they happen to be less than 18 years of age. Furthermore, they only get a maximum of $250. How can the minister explain and indeed justify this double standard?
Hon Mrs Caplan: As to the information the member has regarding referral, I think it is extremely important that people have the facts. When northern Ontario residents travel to have access to services, they are eligible for the northern travel assistance grant, which is extremely valuable in ensuring that people of northern Ontario have access to the services they need. During a short period of time when we were experiencing pressures in downtown Toronto, we established the co-ordinating opportunity for people who required services outside Metropolitan Toronto. We worked with the Canadian Cancer Society to make sure that no one was denied access to care because they could not afford to travel. I can tell him that that program has been very successful.
Mr Hampton: The minister talks about facts. I want to recite to her facts that came from a physician’s letter in northwestern Ontario. This is confirmed by the Thunder Bay branch of the Canadian Cancer Society. People from southern Ontario going to Thunder Bay were given the full cost of air fare for themselves, full cost of air fare for an escort, full cost of hotel accommodation for themselves and escort, and full cost of food for themselves and escort. Her ministry also tried to get the cancer society to provide escorts while they were in Thunder Bay, and she was going to pay for that.
Someone who travels from northern Ontario to southern Ontario for treatment gets a $250 travel grant. If you go from Dryden to Toronto and back by bus it costs you $240, from Fort Frances to Toronto and back $236. How does the minister justify that? People from the north take the bus and she flies people up with their escorts, everything paid. Twenty-six hours by bus --
Hon Mrs Caplan: I think it is extremely important for the member opposite to acknowledge the importance of the northern travel grant program and the benefit that has offered to people of northern Ontario to ensure that they have access to the services they need. I do not believe for one moment that he would assume that is at all comparable with somebody in a short-term situation who was referred closer to home in downtown Toronto and who found that he had to access services.
I can tell him that the challenges of meeting the needs of the north, I think, are significant and we are moving forward on that. The travel grant program is very important, but the Canadian Cancer Society has been working very closely with those people who because of the stresses in downtown Toronto require access to --
Mr Sterling: I have a question of the Minister of Community and Social Services. I have heard the minister stand on his feet in this House a number of times over the past few weeks complaining about the federal government cutting back on its funding to him. Can he tell me why his ministry is now funding toy-lending libraries across this province if in fact it is so short on money?
Hon Mr Beer: I think that this and many other initiatives speak to the fact that we are trying to use the dollars we have as effectively as we can. We recognize as part of our initiatives under child care that the toy-lending libraries are an important part of that and we continue to do it in terms of that program area. The fact remains that the limit on the Canada assistance plan for this fiscal year and for next year, cut to five per cent, will have a very direct impact on our programs overall. That does not mean we start cutting every single program we have, but that total amount of money, some $160 million, will cause an impact on our programs.
Mr Sterling: I am going to do something today that I have not done in the 13 years I have been in this Legislature. I am going to ask the minister to take away from my own riding $185,000 that he gave to some people in my riding to set up a toy-lending library. He is going to buy $8,500 worth of toys, he is going to pay for a big van and he is going to pay for people to truck these toys around a rural municipality, which quite frankly is rich and wealthy enough to buy its own toys in general.
The minister should quit complaining about what he is getting from the federal department and start putting his own house in order. What is he going to do about cutting off this kind of foolish spending of taxpayers’ dollars?
Hon Mr Beer: I think the honourable member is quite simply wrong. There are many, many initiatives that are undertaken by the Ministry of Community and Social Services -- all, frankly, that are worth while -- that are intended to help people in various parts of the province. The toy-lending library program, as part of a comprehensive approach to child care, becomes very important, especially in areas that are rural and spread out. We also respond in the way we have to the program in the member’s own area because that request came from that area and because people said this would be important to them.
I think that the honourable member needs to understand that we continue to fund our programs. We simply ask that the federal government live up its part of the bargain under the Canada assistance plan.
Mr Tatham: I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. The International Joint Commission, in part II of its fifth biennial report on Great Lakes water quality, released 11 April 1990, states that the health of our children is threatened as a result of our exposure to low levels of persistent toxic substances. One of the recommendations is to incorporate the principle of reverse onus into regulatory policies and programs. I believe it is incumbent on industry to prove that it is not polluting our environment. Let us make the off button before we make the on button. Would the minister not agree?
Hon Mr Bradley: I always agree with the member for Oxford when he puts forward questions of this kind and propositions which are eminently reasonable. I want to tell the member that is exactly the direction of our various programs and actions in the province.
The member may be aware that under our new water pollution regulation which is being developed at this time there is a requirement on all of the industries in Ontario in the program to monitor, under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment -- and monitor, by the way, at their own cost and to their own inconvenience -- with split samples being provided to the Ministry of the Environment of all of the substances, not the lumps and colours the way it used to be, but all of those potential substances that they may be putting into waterways.
In the abatement regulation, they will be compelled to drastically reduce and eventually eliminate the discharges that would be going to any of our waterways in the province. They must also utilize the best management practices, which in many cases in the past were not utilized and must be now put into effect. The onus is on them then to prevent spills and to clean up.
Mr Tatham: In the same report, in order to raise the level of knowledge among the general public about the importance of a clean environment and what individuals can do to prevent, avoid and remediate degradation of the aquasystem, the DC again recommended that parties prepare and urge the use of a comprehensive public information education program. What is Ontario doing to achieve this?
Hon Mr Bradley: As the member may be aware, we in Ontario establish remedial action plans to solve those historic problems that he is talking about that occurred in the days when we did not have the kind of environmental regulations and controls that are existing at the present time and will exist in the future. The remedial action plans are being funded by the Ministry of the Environment and they allow for the kind of public input that the member has talked about.
We also have the MISA Advisory Committee, which has on its membership a number of eminent scientists and environmentalists who in the past have been critical of government practices and are ensuring that the program that we implement in Ontario is one that is sensitive to all of the environmental issues.
I also meet on frequent occasions with members of various environment groups who provide advice and counsel which we incorporate into our programs, and of course we will continue our educational programs through the Ministry of Education, along with those in the federal jurisdiction, to ensure that people are, first of all, knowledgeable of what is happening in Ontario, and second, that the programs are being put into effect to abate and --
Mr Allen: I have a question for the Treasurer. The standing committee on social development, which heard in very moving terms the representations of the food bank people in the month of March, has tabled its report, recommending that, starting this year, the government proceed with a four-year strategy to address the tremendous burden that those agencies are carrying. They write specifically:
“The adverse impact of low income and the resulting use of food banks is now so demonstrably severe, especially for children, and so manifestly costly in health, education and correction budgets for government and society at large, that the government should implement income adequacy, both in social assistance and minimum wage legislation.”
Hon R. F. Nixon: I suppose the answer would be “in part,” but since the budget will be read tomorrow, the honourable member will make his own judgement. I have a feeling that, while I am enthusiastic about it, he probably will be less enthusiastic, because it is very difficult to achieve a level that is as satisfactory as we would hope it might be.
The inauguration of the response to the Social Assistance Review Committee last year is really just now being felt. While there was a commitment of $415 million, it was phased in over the year and is really just now fully operational and the full impact of that at the $415-million level will be really just felt this year and, to some extent, more effectively next year.
Without talking about the details in the budget, I think the honourable member is aware, as I am, that the number of clients and people requiring family benefits and general welfare assistance seems to be mounting in a way that would give us pause, to say the least, and that our requirements in this connection will mean there is a substantial, increasing outlay month by month. So in that response there will be a lot more dollars available in the community, and I have a feeling that the member will have a supplementary which will permit both of us to continue the exchange.
I have in one hand a list of persons compiled by the emergency service providers in Ottawa, who indicate that, notwithstanding the benefits that the people listed here got from the SARC, there are still many examples who run from 44 to 58 per cent below the poverty line. On the other hand, I have in my hand a chart which shows fairly graphically the relationship of wealth in various groups in this country. The Treasurer will know that roughly 20 per cent of the population in fact owns 70 per cent of the country’s wealth in real estate, stocks, bonds and bank accounts.
Given the fact that these same people are those who will benefit most from the federal goods and services tax, is it not possible that perhaps the Treasurer might find this an appropriate year to introduce a wealth tax at last in Ontario in order to gear himself up for the strategy that the committee has proposed for him?
I would also like to say that it is probably not worth spending the valuable time of the honourable member in the House in drawing this to his attention, but he is aware that the federal government has placed a five per cent ceiling on the growth of social programs that are shared 50-50 by the government of Canada. This is really the only province that has exceeded that five per cent growth rate in the past, and there would be every expectation that we might exceed it, in part at least, this year. As a matter of fact, the rate of growth last year was 19 per cent, and it may have led the federal government to realize that it did not want to continue on a 50-50 basis, but I can assure the member the withdrawal of that historic sharing of the costs of expanding and emerging social programs has had a tremendous impact on our budgetary requirements. It really means that even to keep anywhere near the rate of progress that we had envisaged, we are spending double the amount of money to achieve what the honourable member would describe as somewhat limited goals.
Mrs Marland: My question is to the Minister of Transportation. I know the minister is well aware of the Queen Elizabeth Way where it interchanges with Dixie Road. The Queen Elizabeth Way, being one of the oldest highways in Ontario, if not the oldest, also has in the interchange with Dixie Road one of the oldest-fashioned designs for an interchange. That interchange has been a dangerous design for some time because of the increased volumes of traffic. The ministry has been working to redesign that interchange for some 15 years, and I received a letter from the minister in February of this year where he said that he regrets he is still unable “to commit funds and staff resources for this project at this time.” I ask the minister how much longer the people in that community have to live with the increased volumes of traffic in an unsafe interchange.
Hon Mr Wrye: The honourable member would know that there are extremely large pressures upon us in terms of the various roads and provincial highways in Ontario. I have indicated to her in the letter, a section of which she read, that in the next very short while we are unable to support the reconstruction of that interchange as an immediate priority. That does not mean that as additional money becomes available, we will not be able to move that project forward.
The honourable member may want to know that while we spent some $325 million on our provincial highways program in the fiscal year just ended, this year our provincial spending on highways will go from that level to $425 million and next year our spending will go to $550 million. All of that kind of money is unprecedented in the history of this province.
Mrs Marland: That answer is totally unsatisfactory. Those people who live in the greater Toronto area are paying more for everything, including the privilege of driving motor vehicles and having a driver’s licence, and they are told it is because there is going to be money spent on the infrastructure and improvements to the highway system within the GTA. Those people are telling the minister today, through my question, that it is not satisfactory simply to say that there are other, higher priorities, because it seems to those people that the priorities keep getting juggled around depending on who is the loudest wheel and where the minister decides for his own purposes the priority lies.
Hon Mr Wrye: One of the things that never cease to amaze me about that party opposite is how it changes from day to day. Tomorrow I suppose it will be their “cut government spending” day. Today, of course, they have been in full flight in terms of additional government spending.
The honourable member may want to know that within the GTA we have two projects now under way. One is Highway 407, which is a $1-billion project. The other is the easterly extension to 12 lanes of Highway 401; that is a $250-million project, and it is going forward even now. So when the honourable member talks about projects not going forward within the GTA with the kind of funding that residents of this area are putting in, she is absolutely incorrect. We obviously have to take priority decisions, but I would say to her and to other members of the House that we are working very aggressively, in terms of both road transportation and public transportation, to make the GTA the very best possible place to live.
Mr M. C. Ray: I have a question for the Premier. It concerns the deficiency of Ontario government jobs in the city of Windsor. The Premier has on a number of occasions indicated that the relocation of government jobs to our city is under review by the government. The Premier is also aware of the deficiency and the unfair distribution of government jobs in this province, such that our city has disproportionately fewer than many other cities. When are we going to see some action on this matter and when are we going to see the relocation of a substantial number of government jobs to our city?
Hon Mr Peterson: I know the honourable member has taken up this cause with great vigour, and I say to my honourable friend, as he is aware, it is a policy of this government to decentralize government operations. That has to be done, as I say, in a practical context of when leases come due and other matters. We do think it is an effective policy, and the decentralization that has been undertaken, I think, is working out very well by and large. My honourable friend will be aware that it is highly disruptive for some who are part of the public service and we must be as sensitive as we can to accommodate their needs and wishes.
That being said, we are mindful of the fact that Windsor is a unique community, and one can make the case that it has fewer provincial government jobs per capita than other communities. We try to be sensitive to the needs of Windsor, as my honourable friend knows, with the Cleary Auditorium, with the riverfront environmental proposal and other things, but I am not in a position to answer my honourable friend’s question specifically today because these matters are always under review.
Mr Ward moved that, notwithstanding any previous order of the House, the order of precedence for private members’ business be amended by substituting Ms Oddie Munro’s name for Mr Pope’s name for ballot item 48 and by deleting ballot item 57; and that, notwithstanding standing order 94(h), the requirement for notice be waived with respect to ballot item 48.
Mr Polsinelli: I have a petition signed by 36 constituents of the riding of Yorkview addressed to the Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. It is asking that the Legislature repeal the French Language Services Act. In accordance with the standing orders, I have subscribed my name thereto.
“Therefore, be it resolved that social service worker program students of Niagara College and others are in favour of legislation regulating social service practitioners and believe further and more widespread consultation should continue so that legislation could be drafted which would include community college graduates as well as university graduates in the social work field.”
“We respectfully request that the Legislature consider amendment of the proposed threshold definition to recognize the potential for permanent mental disorders resulting from a traumatic event such as an auto accident. To omit mental illness from the definition is discriminatory and implies that the resulting damages are neither substantive nor acceptable.”
Mrs E. J. Smith: I wish to present a petition on behalf of David Herbert and his associates which contains roughly 824 signatures. The subject of the petition is the request that equal time should be given in presenting the underlying assumptions of both evolution, as a theory, and creationism. I have signed this petition, although I do not necessarily agree with it.
Mrs O’Neill: This opportunity that my committee had to study the very current and poignant issue of food banks gave us a platform for very meaningful discussions. We met with users, providers, religious groups and researchers. The researchers and their findings were particularly important to us because we have discovered that over 50 per cent of the people using food banks are children.
We feel that there are many ministries that should and will take note of our findings, and there should be bridges between these ministries. The Ministry of Community and Social Services, of course, comes to mind first, and the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. We are asking for changes to the Education Act so that school boards can get more involved in this critical community problem.
This then is the business of government, the food bank situation, because we see that the food banks are really only a pointer to a much more serious problem, a problem that involves income and shelter. Shelter costs certainly confine people’s choices in our communities across the province.
We have made 10 recommendations and, as I have said, they are directed at the ministries of our government. We hope the goals that will be achieved are economic independence and a continuation of the implementation of the social reforms that have been begun by our government and that the task force on food banks will be given a much higher profile and will report regularly to this Legislature.
Mr Kormos: I have got to tell you, Mr Speaker, I thought we would never get to this this afternoon. There was so much going on here today. But I am glad we finally have because time is fleeting and we have got to get down to the matter at hand. These are precious moments that we are able to spend together talking about this particularly bad motion brought by the Liberals. We have got to remember that we New Democrats would dearly love to debate Bill 68. The whole purpose of this assembly, it seems to us in the New Democratic Party, is to debate and analyse legislation before you call upon members to vote on it.
Among other things, why we would like to debate it is not just because it is such a thoroughly bad law but because there have been so many misimpressions left across the province by Liberal spokespeople who will not participate in a debate, who will not participate in an exchange and dialogue, who are afraid of the challenges that would be brought to them.
Just the other day, the Rotary Club down in Port Colborne had the member for Durham Centre come down and make a speech. Well, the Liberal member for Durham Centre went down there. He would not dare say in his home town what he told those good people down in Port Colborne. The Liberal member for Durham Centre, whose wife calls him Allan Furlong, said some just incredible things down there in Port Colborne about the government’s auto insurance scheme. Then I realized that it was not really a speech. People walked out of that meeting scratching their heads, asking, “Can we rely on what this member of the Liberal Party just told us?”
I recognized it, when I read the newspaper excerpt, as simply a rehashing of the same old line that the government has contained in its written propaganda. I am going to talk about those misimpressions, because we talked the other day about the misimpressions of the member for Mississauga West that were being created in his householder.
I am going to get back to that. I like bookstores. I enjoy bookstores. We have got some really fine bookstores down in Welland: Sue Berg, The Book Exchange, down on King Street is a great place to find reading material at great prices. Marj McPherson, similarly on King Street, with For the Love of Books, has always got the newest bestsellers. Toronto, of course -- I am so lucky to be able to represent the people of Welland-Thorold because it enables me to go to bookstores here in Toronto. Among them, one of the nicest and most interesting ones is one called This Ain’t the Rosedale Library. They stock a really good selection of interesting books.
Mr Kormos: We are getting indeed to the point in this time allocation motion discussion. But I was in there the other day and I saw a book that I picked up, as a matter of fact, at the Winnipeg Airport coming back from our federal convention at the end of last year. I picked it up and read it on the plane coming back. It was just a fascinating book. I saw it over at This Ain’t the Rosedale Library on Church Street the other day.
I reflected on it. It is called One Hundred Monkeys: The Triumph of Popular Wisdom in Canadian Politics, by Robert Mason Lee. What a delightful, fascinating bit of reading material. What was remarkable in itself is the title, One Hundred Monkeys. I immediately thought of the Liberal caucus. I appreciate their numbers are not 100; their numbers are but 94.
I then reflected on the fact that a whole bunch of Liberals are going to be looking at retirement plans because of their persistence in supporting, first, this time allocation motion and, second, Bill 68. I thought, well, 100 monkeys; really, all it needs is for 29 Liberals to stand up and be counted. All it needs is for 29 Liberals to vote against this time allocation motion and it can be defeated. All it needs is 29 Liberals to vote against Bill 68 and Bill 68 will be defeated, as it should be and as the people of Ontario want it to be defeated and, to boot, those same 29 Liberal backbenchers who have the courage to vote against it are going to get re-elected as compared to being defeated.
As I say, I already have a copy of this book, but I picked it up again when I was in This Ain’t the Rosedale Library over on Church Street because, as I say, the title reminded me of the Liberal caucus, and I reflected on the fact that people across Ontario have been paying incredible attention to this discussion about the jackboot tactics of the Liberals. They have been watching them day in and day out.
I was up in North Bay on Friday night speaking to a group of people there about this bad legislation, the auto insurance bill, and people were stopping me in McDonald’s, where I was having a hamburger on my way to the meeting, and saying, “Keep fighting that time allocation motion, because we here in North Bay, just like the people from everywhere else in Ontario, sure as heck don’t appreciate what the Liberals are doing when they are trying to guillotine, when they are trying to muzzle the opposition.”
Enough of North Bay. Once again, the book One Hundred Monkeys is an excellent bit of reading material. The fact that people across Ontario are watching what is going on and the fact that they have been calling in -- you know that, Mr Speaker. They have been phoning in every day. All day Friday they were calling in.
Mr Kormos: He called me at my number, 965-7714, right here at Queen’s Park. We will accept collect phone calls at 965-7714, area code 416. There are a whole bunch more people who were calling all day Friday and started calling again as soon as the staff got in. People have been talking about this in their living rooms and recreation rooms all weekend.
As I say, the book One Hundred Monkeys is such great reading, such a good analysis of politics in Canada in the 1980s as we embark on the 1990s. We only need 29 Liberals to vote against this crummy bill to get it defeated. People have been paying so much attention that what I am going to do is: The 29th person who calls my office at Queen’s Park this afternoon and mentions the book One Hundred Monkeys is going to get this copy of this book sent to him in the mail today.
One Hundred Monkeys reminds me of the Liberal ranks here at Queen’s Park. The 29th person who calls means that there have to be 29 Liberals who oppose this legislation. What they have to do is call me at 965-7714 and they have to name the book. The 29th person who calls this afternoon and says the title of the book One Hundred Monkeys is going to get a copy of One Hundred Monkeys: The Triumph of Popular Wisdom in Canadian Politics.
It is a great book and great reading. I wish I could give more away, but I simply cannot afford to. The 29th caller who mentions One Hundred Monkeys is going to get a free copy of One Hundred Monkeys. Call me at 965-7714.
As a matter of fact, any Liberals who want to can similarly autograph it, but all I want is the Liberals who are not going to vote for Bill 68 or are going to vote against it. I want the Liberals who are going to get re-elected to put their autograph in here, and those are the Liberals who are going to oppose Bill 68. Those are the Liberals who are going to support their ridings and their constituents, not the big insurance industries here in Canada.
The 29th phone call at 965-7714, and One Hundred Monkeys is yours. It is our way of saying thank you to people in Ontario for their close attention to this debate and their concern about the abandonment of democracy by the Liberals.
Howard Moscoe, Metropolitan Toronto councillor, sent me this note. He was at the 10th anniversary banquet of the Chinese Canadian National Council. That is a group that was formed some 10 years ago by the Chinese-Canadian community to fight for civil liberties.
Again, I am not comparing even auto insurance to the struggles that that community and that organization have engaged in, but there is something appropriate about Howard Moscoe, a Metropolitan Toronto councillor, having been there and having passed this message on to me on the back of his invitation to that dinner. He writes, “Dear Peter, all my constituents in North York-Spadina are cheering you on.”
Mr Kormos: I appreciate the guidance that you give me in this regard, because oftentimes, as you know, Mr Speaker, we are involved in a debate wherein emotions flare. We are involved in a discussion wherein the stakes are really high. For the insurance industry, we are talking about a payday of almost $1 billion in the first year alone. Those are big stakes.
Mr Kormos: For the drivers and taxpayers and the innocent injured victims from whom this billion bucks is going to be obtained they are big stakes too. Howard Moscoe, Metro councillor, writes, “Dear Peter, all my constituents in North York-Spadina are cheering you on.” I appreciate that from Howard Moscoe and from his constituents. “Keep up your fight against the Liberals and their ventriloquists, the insurance companies. Keep exposing the scoundrels and do not let them wear you down.”
That is exactly what we are not going to do. We are not going to let them wear us down, because we want to keep on fighting for the senior citizens, working people, students, young people, innocent injured victims who are going to be victimized again and again and again if Bill 68 is permitted to pass.
All we need are 29 Liberal members who want to keep their ridings in the next general election, who enjoy their jobs as members of provincial Parliament enough that they want to come back here after the next general election. For those 29 members to vote against Bill 68 would guarantee its defeat, and again, the 29th phone call will get a copy of One Hundred Monkeys.
James Chow from Thorncliffe Park Drive in Toronto calls in and supports our opposition to Bill 68. He says the Ontario government is out to lunch, it is taking away people’s rights and innocent people are going to suffer. He knows what Bill 68 is all about.
Mike Pentland from Burlington calls up and he says he does not normally agree with the New Democratic Party but he agrees with our opposition to Bill 68. So Mike Pentland from Burlington, who does not normally find himself in alignment with the New Democratic Party, says no to Bill 68, no to this time closure motion.
It is these phone calls and these messages of support that make it possible for me to carry on. I tell members, once those phone calls and messages stop, I am going to sit down. Once those phone calls, messages and notes in the mail stop coming in to my Queen’s Park office or by phone at 965-7714, I am going to stop fighting against this time allocation motion; but as long as the people of Ontario keep on saying no to no-fault, no to the Liberals’ arrogance, no to the Liberals’ jackboot policies, no to time allocation, I am going to keep on standing up here fighting for the people of Ontario and fighting for the innocent injured victims, the taxpayers and the drivers of Ontario, all of whom are going to be hammered when Bill 68 passes.
There is a suggestion being made -- because the Liberals are fighting back, no two ways about it -- that somehow it is only Conservatives or New Democrats and their supporters who would oppose Bill 68.
I tell members, there is a message being given. I think this is the fourth week I have been here -- really the fifth week, when you include my initial comments about Bill 68 during committee of the whole. So this is five weeks we have been doing this and we are not finished canvassing all the relevant information. The problem is, we wanted to debate Bill 68 but the Liberals are forcing us now to debate a time allocation motion. It is the Liberals who are guilty of filibustering, it is the Liberals who are guilty of obstructionism, it is the Liberals who are preventing us from getting down to a discussion about Bill 68, because they keep on bringing these interlocutory motions, if you will.
As I was trying to tell members -- and I have no doubt this is going to generate some real howls, some real squealing from the Liberal ranks here. Members are going to hear the squeals. Let me explain this to members. It is not just New Democrats and Conservatives out there in communities all over Ontario who are opposed to Bill 68 and opposed to this time allocation. I got a letter today and it is from a lawyer, Herman Turkstra in Hamilton. He is not just a lawyer, he is also a very prominent activist within the Liberal Party of Ontario.
Mr Turkstra writes to me: “It bothers me deeply every time the NDP becomes the conscience for my party. As a long-term member of the Liberal Party and a member of a Hamilton provincial Liberal riding association executive” --
Mr Kormos: Mr Turkstra writes: “It bothers me deeply every time the NDP becomes the conscience for my party. As a long-term member of the Liberal Party and a member of a Hamilton provincial Liberal riding association executive, I am embarrassed to see that the public voice of fairness in the debate on Bill 68 comes not from my party but from a member of the opposition. I write to commend you on the speech you are making and I send you what strength I can convey through this letter to encourage you to continue as long as possible. You are speaking for the injured and the weak of this province.
“It has been some time since I represented persons injured by careless drivers and I have absolutely no economic interest in that kind of litigation. I have to say that because, suddenly, lawyers have become, in the eyes of the government, unreliable sources of input” -- and in brackets he writes “I will put aside for the moment the number of fund-raising and volunteer-seeking letters and calls that have been made to lawyers by the Liberal Party over the years.” Mr Turkstra is not a New Democrat, he is not a Conservative --
Mr Chiarelli: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I would like to raise a point of order with respect to some principles of parliamentary procedure dealing with the length of debate that members participate in. I have a few short remarks that I would like to make, Mr Speaker, if you would permit me the opportunity to do so.
Mr Chiarelli: I am going to address a few remarks to freedom of speech and parliamentary privilege. I am going to refer to Beauchesne and other authorities which clearly state that freedom of speech is one of the most basic features of parliamentary privilege. The relevant quotation that I am going to refer to is a quotation from Alistair Fraser on Beauchesne’s Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada. The relevant quotation regarding the concern about members’ exploiting their right to speak is the following: “Freedom of speech does not mean that members have an unlimited or unrestrained right to speak on every issue. The rules of the House impose limits on the participation of members and it is the duty of the Speaker to restrain those who abuse these rules.”
I am going to refer to a precedent at Westminster in 1881, where Parliament for the first time imposed the concept or the idea of closure. At that time it was not at the instance of any member or any party in the Parliament at Westminster, it was at the instance of the Speaker himself. At that point, after a debate had gone on for some 41 hours, the Speaker basically stopped the debate and this is the quote from the Speaker of the time:
“‘The dignity, the credit and the authority of this House are seriously threatened,’ Speaker Brand declared, ‘and it is necessary that they should be vindicated.’ He declined to call upon any more members to speak and proceeded to put the question. His action was supported by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, and the following day the powers of the Speaker were formally augmented by resolution of the House to allow for such a procedure.”
Mr Speaker, precedents were meant to be made. We were not meant to be ruled from the grave. We have seen here in our Legislature a single member consume all available time for debate on the matter at hand, that is, motion 30. I am submitting to you that one member’s having consumed the amount of time that he has done to date is an abuse of the privilege of this Legislature and of all other members who choose to speak.
I am asking you, Mr Speaker, to consider whether or not this is a situation and a circumstance whereby you, with your authority and good judgement, should create a precedent and in fact permit another member of this Legislature to speak at this point.
Mr D. S. Cooke: Mr Speaker, I would think that for you to intervene at this point or, quite frankly, any other point, to interrupt a long discussion on a very important, in fact, the most important and controversial issue facing drivers in this province, is extremely controversial. It is something the government does not want to live with. The fact of the matter is that your job is to make sure that this place is running smoothly. The fact that the government does not want to have a lengthy debate and does not want to have a fair and lengthy debate on this topic, is not something for you to worry about. That is something for the government to worry about. It has consistently called this order each day, when there are other matters on the order paper that could be dealt with.
I think it would be setting an incredible precedent for you to intervene to have our member for Welland-Thorold not able to continue. There have not been consistent and ongoing complaints about repetitiveness. There are other sections of the standing orders that have not been raised by members of the government.
Mr D. S. Cooke: There are other sections of our standing orders that have not been raised by members of the Liberal Party. In fact, the few times that the standing orders have been raised on the order of repetitiveness, the Speaker in the chair at the time has consistently ruled that the member for Welland-Thorold was not being repetitive and that it was not a point of order and not a point of privilege. That is the position that was taken as late as last Thursday. There is nothing that has changed today that would force you to rule in any other way.
Mr Chiarelli: The only comment that I would make, Mr Speaker -- and thank you for the opportunity -- is to underline the point of order that I am raising, which is that in my humble opinion I believe there is an obligation on your office, on the Chair, to make a determination on the words of Beauchesne and Alistair Fraser that I quoted, that the members do not have “an unlimited or unrestrained right to speak.” It is an appropriate time for your office to make a deliberation on what the extent of those words mean.
That is an authority that I have quoted. It is an authority that is well respected and has been quoted in various parliaments from time to time. I think it is time in this House that your office, the Speaker, indicate some rules and some parameters for those words, “Freedom of speech does not mean that members have an unlimited or unrestrained right to speak on every issue.” So I do ask you, Mr Speaker, to give serious consideration to my point of order and hopefully you would see fit to render a decision with some forethought.
The Deputy Speaker: Since the references made go back quite a while, I will examine that very carefully. I will reserve judgement on that, but until I come out with my judgement we shall proceed with the normal course of events.
Mr Kormos: I was not at all surprised by that interjection because I have no doubt that the Liberal members would not want to hear what Mr Turkstra from Hamilton has to say about his own party. Mr Turkstra writes to me, dated 22 April 1990:
“It bothers me deeply every time the NDP becomes the conscience for my party. As a long-term member of the Liberal Party and a member of a Hamilton provincial Liberal riding association executive, I am embarrassed to see that the public voice of fairness in the debate on Bill 68 comes not from my party but from a member of the opposition.
“I write to commend you on the speech you are making and I send you what strength I can convey through this letter to encourage you to continue as long as possible. You are speaking for the injured and the weak of this province.
“It has been some time since I represented persons injured by careless drivers, and I have absolutely no economic interest in that kind of litigation. I have to say that because, suddenly, lawyers have become, in the eyes of the government, unreliable sources of input. I will put aside for the moment the number of fund-raising and volunteer-seeking letters and calls that have been made to lawyers by the Liberal Party over the years.
“But after years of having represented injured persons, I understand the system well and I know the role played in our society by the system of reparation for damage caused to one citizen by another. This principle,” Mr Turkstra writes, “has been part of every legal system since the dawn of recorded laws. It serves to restore balance in society. It is what society gives back when it takes away the right of revenge.
“I understand the issues. More important, I have learned that monetary damages help heal the injury. I have enclosed a small case history that you may find useful. Beyond that history, I have seen hundreds of examples where the compensation ends the anger and frustration and helps the injured person live with the pain. Damages for pain and suffering are found in our most essential humanity, and compensation for pain and suffering is the hallmark of a wise judicial system.
“In addition to having to cope with the fact that my party,” and that is the Liberal Party, “is proposing to transfer economic resources from the injured to the healthy and to their insurers” -- Mr Speaker, do you realize how important this particular comment is? – “In addition to having to cope with the fact that my party, the Liberal Party, is proposing to transfer economic resources from the injured to the healthy and to their insurers, I have to come to grips with the fact that my party should be the government that proposes to take away the right of citizens to go to an impartial judge to determine what is fair. That is anathema.
“This right, present in Canada since the founding of our country, has survived two world wars, a variety of political regimes and almost constant attack. Governments and politicians in power do not like people going to courts, do not like lawyers and for sound reasons.”
I hope that Mr Turkstra is right. I hope that Mr Turkstra is correct when he says that he believes I speak for some Liberal members of this assembly as well as for those who can only sit on the sidelines, because it is those 29 Liberals who can defeat this bill by voting against it, who can defeat this motion by permitting full debate and then defeat Bill 68 by voting against it. It is those 29 Liberals who will not have to face resignation, the prospect of resignation and looking for a new job after the next general election.
Mr Kormos: It is difficult to predict people’s political futures. But I can promise that every one of the 29 Liberals who votes against Bill 68 will get re-elected in his or her riding. And I tell you this, Mr Speaker. I would go to the ridings of each and every one of those 29 Liberals who vote against this legislation to help tell their constituents --
Mr Kormos: Mr Speaker, I should tell you that I have not got the results yet sent down from my office about who the winner is of One Hundred Monkeys, but we are looking forward to hearing the name of the 29th person who called citing the name of the book One Hundred Monkeys, and I will find out who the new owner of this book is going to be.
I should tell you that we found a few more of the “No-Fault, No Thanks” buttons that we are pleased to send out to people who call us here at Queen’s Park, 965-7714. When I was up in North Bay I stuffed both my suit pockets with them and they were certainly popular items up there. I ran out of them really fast and I apologize to those people in North Bay who did not get one because the demand was so great.
As I say, further to Mr Turkstra’s letter, I will be the first to announce to the constituents of the riding of any Liberal member who indeed has the courage and the sense of compassion, caring about innocent injured victims, caring about taxpayers, caring about drivers, that their member should be supported by virtue of what he or she did with respect to Bill 68. However strange that might seem, I would just have the utmost personal regard and respect for the Liberal member who showed that type of courage that the partisan issue would not enter into it.
Mr Turkstra writes, “I find it incongruous that a member of the New Democratic Party would become the voice of so many Liberals, those of us who cannot speak in the debate.” Mr Turkstra is a leading Liberal in Hamilton, a long-time Liberal, and I can tell you this: Mr Turkstra’s name is known in the Premier’s office. Mr Turkstra is that prominent a Liberal that he is well known in the Premier’s office, and Mr Turkstra writes that he finds it “incongruous that a member of the NDP would become the voice of so many Liberals, those of us who cannot speak in the debate. I know that there are thousands of Liberals across this province who are deeply disappointed with their own party because of this legislation and because of the approach taken to its enactment. The incongruity arises from the fact that we recognize that you may have a different long-term agenda,” and that is true.
We believe in a public, driver-owned, non-profit auto insurance system, one in which innocent injured victims are compensated for their pain and suffering and one in which those same victims have the right to use the courts to enforce what is rightly theirs.
We in the New Democratic Party have firmly supported and continue to support the right of people to obtain access to a courtroom to enforce their rights. That is the incongruity that Mr Turkstra speaks of. “The incongruity arises from the fact that we recognize that you may have a different long-term agenda. And that many of the Liberals who disagree with Bill 68 have as deep and abiding a distrust of government insurance agencies as they have of insurance companies.”
Mr Turkstra is well aware of what our long-term agenda is. New Democrats believe in the right to sue. We believe that innocent injured victims must be adequately and fully compensated for their pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. We believe that a public, driver-owned, non-profit system can deliver that type of insurance coverage more fairly and certainly more affordably.
“In the last analysis, we believe that private and public bureaucracies function in very similar ways. But notwithstanding this difference of long-term views, you are carefully and accurately articulating the heartfelt beliefs of many of us. I am sure that I am not the only Liberal in this province who is grateful to you for that.”
Mr Turkstra writes: “When I appeared before the committee dealing with the bill, it was suggested that the message I brought should be taken to Liberal riding associations. I have tried to do that. In the case of the Hamilton Centre Liberal association, Chris Ward’s staff came to that riding association meeting with a copy of the Constitution to prevent any kind of formal expression of opinion on technical grounds.”
Mr Turkstra is writing about being guillotined, about being muzzled in his own party. He indicates that he tried to take his message to Liberal riding associations and, in the case of Hamilton Centre Liberal association, the minister’s staff came to that riding association meeting with a copy of the Constitution to prevent any kind of formal expression of opinion and to prevent it on purely technical grounds -- pettifoggery, if you will. That is a most serious thing for Mr Turkstra to say and it is one that I am confident is accurate.
In the case of his own riding association, the minister’s executive refused to hold a public meeting to discuss the issue. This is a letter from Herman Turkstra, a prominent, leading Liberal activist in the Hamilton area, on the executive of his provincial riding association and a gentleman who has been so active and so involved in Liberal Party politics that, as I say, his name is well known in the Premier’s office and in a whole lot of other leading Liberals’ offices.
Mr Turkstra writes that in the case of his own riding association, the minister’s executive refused to hold a public meeting to discuss the issue. I believe that could only have happened on his explicit instructions. The attempt to close down debate in the Legislature parallels the attempt to close down debate in the riding associations, parallels the attempt to stop us from distributing literature at the annual meeting of the Liberal Party in Windsor. The Liberals of Ontario will not just muzzle the opposition; they will muzzle and strangle and choke to death dissent in their own party.
Mr Turkstra writes that there was effective intervention prohibiting Liberals from distributing literature at the annual meeting of the Liberal Party in Windsor. He goes on and parallels the attempt of the Minister of Financial Institutions to prevent the release to the public of information gathered by the government to research the bill.
You know what, Mr Speaker? In that regard too, I can tell you that Mr Turkstra is 100 per cent accurate. Because of the attention that has been brought to Bill 68 as a result of this time allocation motion and this debate right here in the Legislature, the Liberals will be mounting an expensive campaign, one paid for entirely with taxpayers’ money, that will attempt to mislead the public of this province into thinking that the bill is fair.
Once a party starts down the road of closing down real discussion, there is no easy ending. I know that as long as more than 80 per cent of the voters are not involved in injuries, it will be politically easy to focus on premiums while obscuring the transfer of economic benefits from the injured to the insurance companies and the car drivers. With a little careful tinkering, Bill 68 could be made to injure a sufficiently small number of people that the political repercussions will be small.
Mr Turkstra writes on, “But as I always thought that the Liberal Party stood for strong efforts on behalf of minorities, the poor, the disenfranchised, I find it dismaying to see money taken from the innocent injured victims of accidents so that the uninjured auto owners and insurance companies can benefit.”
That is what we have been trying to say all along, that what Bill 68 is all about is creating a $1-billion windfall for the auto insurance industry, a billion bucks in new profits by taking that money from taxpayers, by taking that money from drivers and by taking that money from innocent injured victims. We know that at least 95 per cent of all innocent injured accident victims will not receive a penny of compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life if Bill 68 passes. That billion-dollar payday for the insurance industry that this bill will create gouges drivers with higher and higher premiums.
The minister has already told the people of Ontario that people will face premium increases of up to 50 per cent once Bill 68 passes, and we have just learned recently that almost a third of one million drivers in Ontario will face premium increases of up to 80 per cent.
Mr Pouliot: On a point of order: M. le Président, with respect, I would like to draw your attention to article 5(a) of the standing orders, and I quote, sir: “The presence of at least 20 members of the House, including the Speaker, is necessary to constitute a meeting of the House for the exercise of its powers.” Therefore, with respect, I trust that the House is not duly constituted. Would you kindly check for a quorum under 5(a).
Mr Turkstra writes on that he finds it dismaying to see money taken from the innocent injured victims of accidents so that insurance companies can benefit. He writes: “I drive through the shopping centres surrounding Toronto and see the ease with which consumer goods are purchased. The governor of the Bank of Canada increases interest rates again to put a lid on buying pressure caused by excessive spending. In the midst of this land of VCRs, two- or three-car families, 36-inch TV screens, $75 tickets to The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables, 3,800-square-foot homes replacing the traditional 2,700-square-foot homes, it’s mind-boggling to think of what’s happening by virtue of Bill 68. Savings cannot morally be made at the expense of the victim.”
Mr Turkstra writes on that his party, the Liberal Party, “proposes to spend $1 billion on Toronto’s subway to encourage people not to drive cars. It subsidizes GO Transit for the same purpose. If these campaigns are successful, an increasing percentage of the victims of accidents will be pedestrians or passengers. It is quite incongruous that the economic welfare of victims, many of whom are not auto owners, will be sacrificed for the benefit of those who can afford to buy cars for values that now routinely cost more than $15,000.”
The next paragraph is most telling: “Somewhere along the way we lost sight of common sense. I think it occurred when the insurance company presidents threatened the Premier they would leave Ontario. Perhaps we lost sight of common sense when someone forgot to tell the minister that the reason for the premium increase was that companies had mismanaged the rates,” and I tell you, Mr Speaker, they have been less than candid about their real profits.
Mr Turkstra writes: “I have reached the conclusion that we have elected the wrong people to represent our party.” Mr Turkstra, a leading Liberal in the Hamilton area, a member of a provincial riding association executive, writes, “I have reached the conclusion that we have elected the wrong people to represent our party.”
Mr Kormos: Mr Turkstra writes, “As far as the Hamilton area is concerned, if Chris Ward will shut down debate on this issue, then clearly I have misperceived his fundamental beliefs and I strongly hope that the Liberals in his riding will find a more appropriate candidate for the next election. It will be a difficult and painful job, but there obviously has to be some changes made. Bill 68 has become a litmus test of the party.
“I am tempted to make one last point,” Mr Turkstra carries on. “As we debate, as well, in these days the nature of our national Constitution, the conduct of my party,” the Liberal Party, “in relation to Bill 68 has raised very fundamental issues about the role of caucus loyalty and the function of members of riding associations. When our party was in opposition. our riding association members’ brains were useful to the party. Now that the party has become the party in power, it seems that riding association members are to become mere warm bodies to put up signs and deliver brochures.
“All this discussion has brought to my mind that it is perfectly all right for a Democratic senator to disagree publicly with a Democratic president in our neighbouring country, but in Ontario everyone but the Cabinet become dolts after the election, except for fund-raising. Perhaps the result of the cabinet’s control of caucus and the party membership demonstrated in these discussions will bring all of us to realize that there is a fundamental flaw in our present system of party politics, one that warrants serious study and perhaps serious change. This is the very issue that faces the federal Conservative caucus, as two of its members vote for their personal convictions about the GST.
“In the meantime, I encourage you to continue your speech. I hope you will continue until the unfairness and immorality of this legislation is brought home to the minds of the people of Ontario and common sense prevails. Thank you for your dedication. Sincerely yours, Herman Turkstra.”
I am moved by the candour with which Mr Turkstra approaches and discusses this issue. I appreciate that for Mr Turkstra, indeed as a long-time and faithful and committed Liberal, this must have been a very painful exercise for him, an exercise that none of us envies.
I know, similarly, that for Mr Turkstra to have written this letter to me -- and I asked Mr Turkstra whether it would be appropriate from his point of view, acceptable to him that I discuss this letter publicly, and he gave me his consent, his permission to do so. Because I understand that the sensitivity of the matter and the pain which accompanies the drafting and the preparation of this letter are profound. But I am moved by the letter, by its content, by its tone. I am moved by the fact that when I have been speaking these last few weeks about time allocation, about the unfairness of restricting debate, about some of the many reasons why full debate is required, I could tell you, Mr Speaker, that I am pleased to speak not only for New Democrats in Ontario but for Liberals as well.
I tell you that for the Liberals for whom I speak, I understand that there may well be some ideological differences that would make it difficult for some of them to ever support the New Democratic Party. At the same time, I know that there are Liberals across Ontario who recognize that it is indeed the New Democrats at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa, Parliament Hill, who do speak out for the disfranchised, who do speak out for the men and women who work for livings and who work hard, and not for the insurance companies that gouge and make profits on top of profits.
I should mention that Mr Turkstra, in writing this letter, mentioned at the beginning of the letter an illustration, and not a fictitious one. The commentary is this: Approximately four years ago, JT was riding her bicycle at 6:15 in the morning on the sidewalk when she was struck by a van delivering children to an arena. She sued for her injuries, which would not meet the threshold of Bill 68. In other words, in Bill 68 in the instance of a woman who suffers a cracked rib, fractures to the facial bones that have left her with significant pain even four years after the accident, this woman’s injuries as a totally innocent victim would not pass the threshold. She is not entitled under Bill 68 to be compensated for her pain and suffering and her loss of enjoyment of life.
She sued for her injuries. As I say, she could not have sued had Bill 68 been in effect. Bill 68 denies a woman like the woman we are speaking of here the right to sue. Those injuries, which would not meet the threshold, which would not entitle her to any compensation under the system the Liberals would propose, consisted of a cracked rib that healed improperly aligned and fractures to the facial bones.
None of the injuries are obviously apparent today, but both the ribs and facial bones are significantly painful every day and most nights four years after the accident. The woman was 76 years old at the time. She is 80 now. I cannot emphasize this enough: What Bill 68 would do is take a woman who is 76 years old, who is injured with a cracked rib improperly aligned and fractures to the facial bones, and the Liberals in Ontario would deny her any compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life. They would tell her: “You can’t be compensated for that. You can’t look to the wrongdoer to be compensated for that. You can’t look to his insurance company to be compensated for the pain and suffering you’ve endured, nor to your own.”
JT was 76 at the time. Her lawyers recovered a moderate settlement for her. JT used the funds to assist her community in purchasing an extension to the public bikeways in the community. The council of the municipality subsequently cited her publicly for her contribution to the community. Payment of the damages and her resulting ability to make something positive happen as a result of her injuries made the pain easier to bear and removed the lingering anger caused by the sudden and unforeseen impact -- the trauma.
She is now approximately 80 years old, and when asked by me to comment on the legislation and the fact that persons who have been injured like her could not sue the negligent driver and would receive nothing for their pain and suffering, she replied, “That’s foolish and there will be lots more careless drivers.”
The anecdote that Mr Turkstra sends to us that he made reference to in the letter in some respects says it all. We must not forget that the threshold is not about keeping minor and modest injuries out of any compensatory scheme; it is about broken backs, broken legs, broken arms, fractured ribs, fractured skulls. Those injuries would not pass the threshold. That is what Bill 68 is all about.
The JTs of the world, the 80-year-old women who are innocent injured victims, would be denied compensation under Bill 68. It is the JTs of the world about whom we have to question the Minister of Financial Institutions. We have to do that during committee of the whole debate, and it is committee of the whole debate that this time allocation motion is all about, depriving not only us in the opposition, but it is a time allocation motion on the people of Ontario. It is a closure on the people of Ontario because it prohibits them from hearing what the minister has to say about 76-year-old women who suffer cracked ribs and fractured facial bones and suffer pain still, four years after the accident, who would not receive a penny in compensation for pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life if Bill 68 is passed.
I heard from a woman, Betty-Anne Vigh. In October 1987, Mrs Vigh was involved in an automobile accident. She received nerve damage at that time and was unable to continue her work as a social worker. You will remember, Mr Speaker, that the other day we talked about no-fault benefits and the difficulty that insured persons have getting their no-fault benefits, benefits that are rightly theirs, from their very own insurance companies. We talked about how this is not going to change under Bill 68, under the regime that the Liberals want to impose on the people of Ontario. Indeed, if anything, it may get worse. The leopard has not changed its spots. The auto insurance industry in this province is all about making profits, and profits it has made.
How do they make profits? They make profits by charging premiums as high as possible and by paying out compensation as little as possible. That is how the private, corporate, profit-making auto insurance industry operates, and that is why we believe in a public, non-profit auto insurance system where the motive will not be to charge the highest possible premiums and pay out the least amount of compensation.
Let’s take a look at, again, another real life, real person scenario when it comes time to dealing with her own insurance company. Mrs Vigh, who received nerve damage and was unable to continue her work as a social worker, was promised no-fault benefits from Halifax Insurance Co on Eglinton Avenue here in Toronto, but she never received any. Physicians urged her to have therapy. The insurance company sent her to its doctor, who was so rude and horrible to Mrs Vigh that her own family doctor told her to complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Mrs Vigh phoned this in to my office here at Queen’s Park, like all of those other hundreds and thousands of phone callers who have been phoning in all of last week and on Friday and starting at nine o’clock this morning. The insurance company sent her to its doctor, who was so rude and horrible to Mrs Vigh that she was told to complain to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
The insurance company’s doctor told her that she had a virus similar to polio which was responsible for her condition. The lady is smashed up as an innocent injured victim in a car accident, and her insurance company, which is obligated on paper to pay her no-fault benefits, has a company doctor who is mucking around talking about a polio-like virus that the woman has contracted. So the doctor for the insurance company tells her that she has a virus similar to polio which is responsible for her condition and not the damaged nerves and that -- catch this, Mr Speaker, because this is incredible -- she had contracted this virus on the day of her car accident. Right? She got the virus on the very same day as the car accident, and what that meant was that she was not eligible for no-fault benefits.
This lady has seen a number of specialists who say that she has severe whiplash injury and nerve damage. The insurance company sent her to another doctor who in his report details how he performed an examination which Mrs Vigh says just never happened. The second insurance company doctor says that he performed an examination on her that Mrs Vigh says did not happen; no way. She was again denied benefits.
She is now in dire financial straits, has lost her car and is being evicted from her apartment. Here is a lady who worked as a social worker, paid her own way, paid premiums that were probably out of this world and looks to her insurer for some modest no-fault benefits, the kind that the Liberals say is going to happen under their bill.
We have had no-faults in this province for over a decade and the insurance companies are going to be no more eager to pay them out under their friends the Liberals’ scheme than they are under the existing no-fault provisions. This sort of mucking around does not happen in public, non-profit, driver-owned systems. Betty-Anne Vigh from Thorncliffe Park Drive has the misfortune of having to deal with an insurance company in Ontario. Were she in British Columbia, there is a public, non-profit, driver-owned automobile insurance system, one that the New Democrats started and one that Social Credit there carries on because it knows that the Insurance Corp of British Columbia -- public, driver-owned, non-profit auto insurance -- can provide insurance more fairly and more affordably and that tragedies like Betty-Anne Vigh’s do not happen.
Michael Pearl from Welland Avenue here in Toronto called in to say he is not a usual supporter of the New Democratic Party, but in this case wants to give us all the support he can in our fight against Bill 68.
Audrey Campeau from Pitt Street in Cornwall called in this afternoon. She is opposed to Bill 68 and wants to see a full debate on it. She cannot understand why the Liberals are fleeing from debate, why they are afraid to debate Bill 68, why they are afraid to be confronted on how bad Bill 68 really is. She said she just does not know where the provincial and federal governments think the middle and working classes are going to get the money to pay for all the increases. We are talking about a government right here at Queen’s Park that wants to abolish the middle class. I tell members this, they have done more to erode the middle class in this province since 1987 than any other government has in such a short period of time.
R. Volpe from East York called in and congratulated the opposition. He wants to see this time allocation motion defeated. R. Volpe knows that only 29 Liberals have to vote against it, that is all, and that will demonstrate which 29 Liberals really like their jobs. Those are the people who are going to get re-elected. The 29 Liberals who vote against this time allocation motion are the ones who are telling their constituents that they represent the constituency and not the auto insurance industry here in Ontario. That is what they are telling those good people in their ridings, when those 29 Liberals vote against time allocation, closure, which is what we are debating right now, and vote against Bill 68.
Joy Moon from Macpherson Avenue in Toronto phoned in: “Keep at it. Voted Liberal almost every time for the last 30 years, but not any more.” That is the sort of thing that is happening all over this province, and every day I am convinced that there are more and more people who are listening to what the Liberals are doing to the opposition here at Queen’s Park and what they are doing to the taxpayers and drivers of Ontario and to innocent injured victims. I am convinced that there are more and more people across Ontario who are saying, “No way.”
Peter Robinson from Oshawa phoned in this afternoon. He feels strongly about how Bill 68 and the Liberals are taking away people’s rights to use the courts to resolve their differences, to seek relief when they have suffered injuries as innocent injured victims. Peter Robinson from Sedan Crescent in Oshawa phoned in. That is the first time he has ever agreed with a filibuster. I have to tell Mr Robinson this is not a filibuster; this is just a speech on a time allocation motion. We are not permitted to filibuster here in our British, Canadian, Ontario parliamentary system. What we are doing is addressing the issues as we see them, the issues that are important to be considered in the course of this time allocation motion.
Peter Robinson from Oshawa says that the legal system is important to this country and that people must be allowed to use the courts to seek protection and obtain protection from wealthy and powerful organizations and bodies like private corporate insurance companies.
Joseph and Sarah Kohn from Willowdale phoned up this afternoon, saying they always voted Liberal but not if Bill 68 is passed. These people, the Kohns, from Willowdale always voted Liberal but they are not about to vote Liberal again. I will tell members what might persuade them. It is if even 29 Liberals voted against Bill 68 and voted against this time allocation motion. All we need are 29 people from the Liberal ranks to show that they are more interested in innocent injured victims, more interested in taxpayers, more interested in insurance premiums than they are in the profits of the insurance companies. All we need are 29 in the Liberal ranks here and this time allocation motion can be defeated, and so can Bill 68.
Alan Hopkins from Hamner, up near Sudbury, calls in. Mr Hopkins says that he is opposed to the closure motion, certainly to Bill 68. He says, “The Liberal House leader must have forgotten that democracy was born out of discussion and not out of closure motions.” Mr Hopkins would put to the Liberal House leader, have the Liberals forgotten that democracy was born out of discussion and not out of closure? To avoid the embarrassment to the Liberal Party of having 29 of its members, those Liberals who want to keep their ridings, want to retain their jobs here at Queen’s Park, to avoid that embarrassment, all the Liberal House leader has to do is withdraw the time allocation motion and let us get on with the job of debating and discussing Bill 68. That is all we have ever wanted to do.
We are not obstructing anything. We are not being obstructionist. It is the Liberals who are being obstructionist with their time allocation motion. All we want to do is talk about Bill 68. We would rather not have to debate time allocation. What an unpleasant thing to have to debate the muzzling, the strangling of the opposition. What an unpleasant thing to have to debate the jackboot tactics of the Liberals here at Queen’s Park. What an unpleasant thing to have to do. We would rather be talking about auto insurance, about Bill 68. We would rather be debating the issues.
Joseph A. Bonomi runs the Kozy Korner Variety Store on Pine Street South in Thorold. The Kozy Korner Variety Store on 186 Pine Street South in Thorold is as great a place to stop in and pick up groceries or incidentals as you can ever find, and the Bonomis are as honest and caring small-business people as you would ever want to meet. Mr Bonomi writes: “I, the undersigned, a Canadian citizen, am very much against this no-fault insurance that is to be pushed down upon us without a debate. It only breeds more bad and unsafe drivers, as if we don’t have enough. It will cost the average safe driver twice as much in the long term of time.” Mr Bonomi’s opinions are opinions that we in the New Democratic Party respect. I am proud to be able to speak for Mr Bonomi here at Queen’s Park and I make no excuses for not speaking on behalf of the insurance companies. The Liberals do that well enough.
We have talked about Mr Bonomi, good man, small businessman, a Kozy Korner variety store on Pine Street South in Thorold. He is opposed to Bill 68 and he is indignant about the fact that the Liberals do not want to permit a debate on it.
Robert Botnick from Berczy Street in Barrie writes in. We just got this letter this morning. “I have been inspired by your impetuous persistence in the debate over the closure motion concerning Bill 68.” I have been persistent, and I make no excuses, no apologies for being persistent. I suppose I have been at least a little bit impetuous, and so be it. I make no apologies for that either.
Look what is being written here. Mr Botnick from Barrie hopes that the Liberals will wake up to hear what the voters are saying. He has been injured in two motor vehicle accidents, neither one being his fault. The first accident was in June 1988, the second one in February of just this year, February 1990. “Needless to say,” he writes, “my life has been nothing short of disastrous, both physically and emotionally as well as financially.”
He writes that he was a student at Sheridan College in Oakville, participating in the industrial maintenance mechanics program until his most recent accident. That was in February 1990. He was in this course retraining for a new career owing to back, neck and hand injuries received in his first car accident. He was receiving unemployment insurance training benefits through the Canadian Jobs Strategy branch of the Department of Employment and Immigration. He is the father of four young children and has many other financial obligations that he just cannot meet at this time. This is because he has lost all of his income, training benefits, day care expenses and travel allowance.
In the case of Mr Botnick, he is one who is receiving his no-fault benefits, but because, as we know, no-fault benefits are only 80 per cent of the income being replaced -- at that, only up to a maximum of $600 a week. That does not say much to the GM worker who makes $45,000 a year and works hard for every penny of it. It does not say much to the high school teacher who makes $40,000, $45,000 or $50,000 a year and works darned hard for it -- a maximum of 80 per cent or $600 a week, and at that you are lucky if you get it.
Do members know what is interesting, though, and why it is important to talk about these letters and phone calls that we get? During the course of our discussion, we have spoken about scenarios. We have talked about the 12-, 13-, 14-year-old kids smashed to the ground by the drunk driver -- smashed to the ground, a little kid walking home from school. We have talked about that scenario, the kid who is smashed down by the drunk driver, leaving a trail of blood, skin and flesh on the asphalt, that kid who receives not a penny, even after suffering a broken back, not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering, that 12-, 13-, 14-year-old kid, an innocent injured accident victim receiving not a penny in compensation and not a penny in no-faults and a case wherein the drunk driver who struck that kid down could well receive more money by way of benefits than the kid does.
So here we have a case -- because I know that we have talked about students. Members will remember the imaginary scenario we talked about, the one that took place in 1992 about the Bill Innocent family. Members remember the son Jack, who was a medical student in his final year of medical school, just one or two months before his last final exams. It was in April 1992 that the accident happened, and it was under the regime where the Liberals did not find among themselves 29 people who wanted to keep their jobs, so Bill 68 passed because it was rammed through the Legislature, because there was a time allocation motion and there was not full debate. The members will remember that Jack Innocent, struck down by the drunk driver Noel Fault, suffered a concussion, was in the hospital for two days, but was not able, because of dizziness, disorientation and memory lapse, to write his final exams. We talked about Jack Innocent, the student who was denied, and that was a scenario. It was a fictitious one, because we were talking about 1992, we were projecting into the future.
Here is a real-life one. Here is a fellow, Mr Botnick, who had only eight weeks left in his course, was an A student, but because of his injuries he has now been notified by the college that he has lost his year. He contacted the UIC and was told that he cannot receive any further benefits because he has been paid for 61 weeks. He then called social services, welfare, to find out whether he could get some help. He was told that because he was receiving his no-faults, he does not qualify for assistance.
He writes, “To put it bluntly, I am in one hell of a predicament.” He asks, “If Bill 68 does not allow people like myself in these straining situations to be able to sue for loss of enjoyment of life, then I want Bill 68 to be scrapped, along with any Liberals who would support such a miscarriage of justice.” That is exactly what we are talking about.
Really, we are talking about time allocation. We are also talking about which of these Liberals like their jobs enough to want to come back here after the next general election, and we are talking about the fact that the 29 of them who vote against time allocation and who vote against Bill 68 would be guaranteed of coming back here after the next general election.
That is what committee of the whole House discussion is all about. It is an opportunity to ask the minister about people like Robert Botnick and to say the minister should tell Robert Botnick right here and now how Bill 68 is going to make life easier for Mr Botnick. Or indeed is Bill 68 only going to make life a lot more profitable for the auto insurance industry, because that is what Bill 68 is all about, big profits for a powerful and wealthy automobile insurance industry, but at the same time condemning people like Robert Botnick to despair and to poverty as a result of taking what is rightfully Mr Botnick’s and giving it to the insurance industry as a result of the abuse that Bill 68 constitutes for the driver, who is going to face premium increases of up to 50 per cent.
We have learned that a third of a million drivers, just shy of a third of a million, are going to face premium increases of as high as 80 per cent under Bill 68, and 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims will not be allowed to collect any compensation for their pain and suffering or for their loss of enjoyment of life. That includes not just minor injuries but very serious injuries, like broken legs, broken arms, fractured ribs, fractured skulls, broken backs, that will not pass the threshold. These are people who will not be compensated for their pain and suffering, for their loss of enjoyment of life.
Barry Fitzgerald, who was a provincial candidate in the Welland-Thorold by-election in 1988, phones in, speaking of full support of actions in our work against Bill 68 and the closure motion. Barry Fitzgerald phones in as an ex-provincial candidate in the last by-election down in Welland-Thorold, with full support for what we are doing.
Ralph Thompson phones up from London. Once again, when I say how important it is for the Liberals in this House to vote against time allocation because what that will mean for them is either defeat or success at their own respective polls in their own respective ridings, here is Ralph Thompson from London saying that Bill 68 is bad, closure is bad and that he cannot vote Liberal any more. He just will not do it because of Bill 68 and because of this time allocation motion.
Doris Morrison, bless her, from James Street in Welland -- obviously, it is important to hear from people like Ms Morrison. She is proud that her member is fighting the bill that is being imposed on the people of Ontario. She is proud that her member is fighting time allocation, because she knows that those are jackboot tactics and she talks about the vigorous exposé of the injustice of a time allocation motion. So we are pleased to hear from people like Doris Morrison.
These are people who have been phoning here at Queen’s Park, phoning from Welland, from all over the province to my office at 965-7714. These people have been phoning at 965-7714 to tell me that the people of Ontario want the legislators of this assembly to think about it when they are imposing time allocation and closure.
Chris Tufford calls from Burlington. He says no to the legislation that would disentitle people from collecting compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. He says it is unthinkable that an innocent injured victim would be denied an opportunity to be compensated for the pain and suffering and the loss of enjoyment of life, as 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims under Bill 68 are going to be denied any compensation.
More so, they are not going to be permitted to use the courts to seek justice. The courtroom doors are going to be bolted and barred. There will be no courts, there will be no forums in which innocent injured victims who do not pass the threshold -- and that is going to be 95 per cent of them -- can seek some justice against an insurance industry that can be cruel, that can be inhumane and that can be so unjust and so greedy in its gouging of victims and of drivers.
We are talking about the 29 Liberals who will vote against time allocation so that there can be a debate about Bill 68, because that is what this motion is all about, avoiding and denying any debate on Bill 68. We are looking for those 29 Liberals to come back here after the next general election.
Again, I have to explain I am well aware that we cannot filibuster in a provincial sitting. That is a uniquely American phenomenon. Americans can do it; we cannot. Here it is simply a matter of addressing the issues that we want people to consider prior to their deciding how they are going to vote on a motion or on a bill.
I realize that a more talented person could well have made these arguments in a more clever way than I have. I appreciate that. I appreciate that a more skilful speaker would perhaps be more energetic, more inspiring than I have been, but I am doing my very best, trying to make sure that the drivers of Ontario, trying to make sure that the taxpayers of Ontario, trying to make suit that the innocent injured victims of Ontario are not sold out by the Liberals in favour of big, wealthy, powerful auto insurance companies.
As I say, I am overwhelmed by the challenge inherent in that, because people, people like Terry Wylds, people like Chris Tufford, people like Doris Morrison, from Willowdale and Burlington and Welland, do not have big, big bucks to make big donations come election time. Some of these people may well contribute to any number of political parties, but they do it with $5 and $10 and $15 and $20 contributions. They do not do it like the hundred grand plus that the auto insurance industry in this province contributed to Liberal candidates in the last general election. They do not do it like that. These are people who, if they do contribute to political parties or to politicians’ campaigns, do it with $5 bills and $10 bills and $20 bills, not $1,000 bills or $100,000-plus cheques.
These people, the people who have been calling for the last week and a half, may not be the most powerful people in the world. They may not be the wealthiest people in the world. Some of them have apologized in their letters for what they perceive to be perhaps bad spelling or poor penmanship. So in some respects, they do not match up to the insurance companies. The auto insurance companies have their big glassy and chrome high-rises, pretty slick stuff, and their boards of directors have got their deep plush carpets in their board rooms and all the company perks.
These people do not have deep plush carpet. They do not have expensive chrome and glass office towers. But I tell you, Mr Speaker, these folks who are phoning in trying to tell the Liberals of this province that democracy cannot be snuffed out here at Queen’s Park are the most important people in the whole world, these people who have been phoning in and sending letters. I tell you that, Mr Speaker, they are the most important people in the whole world, and I do not give a tinker’s damn about an automobile insurance industry that would gouge them, abuse them and mistreat them and that would dare to think that it owns a government that will do its bidding by way of Bill 68.
I should mention to you, Mr Speaker, because I know you would be interested, it has been problematic getting some of the messages down, because some of the later messages came down earlier and now some of the earlier messages are coming down later. There is more than one person up at 965-7714 answering the phone.
But Chuck Bougie from Terrace Bay, Ontario, will receive a copy of One Hundred Monkeys by Robert Mason Lee. I appreciate Mr Bougie’s comments. He feels that the government and the Premier are but puppets for the insurance companies and he calls upon -- what is remarkable is that there is a message that is permeating all of Ontario, big cities, small towns. He says, “Tell the Liberals to cut their puppet strings too.”
Chuck Bougie from Terrace Bay knows that all there has to be is 29 Liberal members prepared to cut those strings so that the puppeteer cannot manipulate them any more, so that they are free men and women, free to stand up for the rights of drivers, taxpayers and innocent injured victims. So Chuck Bougie will get One Hundred Monkeys. It is great reading.
One of the things it deals with in the book was that there is a lot of commentary on our good friend who represented Ottawa South until his own premature death. He is spoken of well in One Hundred Monkeys, and the commentary about Dalton McGuinty in One Hundred Monkeys alone is worth buying the book, a fascinating book, fascinating characters. If we have people like Dalton McGuinty in there, they are undoubtedly going to be fascinating characters.
Let me tell members about Vincent J. Calzonetti from London. Mr Calzonetti writes in -- we just got this letter this morning -- commending the opposition for its opposition to the time allocation motion. Folks in London know that closure motions, time allocation motions, are undemocratic, that they deny the opposition’s right to fulfil its obligations. They guillotine the opposition and they make a mockery out of democracy.
Indeed, we have mentioned before our fears about what is to happen next. We are going to show up one morning and find the doors to this assembly locked and barred. The Liberals do not want to use this assembly. this forum, as one in which we can debate issues. The Liberals do not want to use this as a forum for debate; they want to use it as a podium for their jackbootism. They do not want to debate Bill 68; they want to use this as a rubber stamp for their legislation that is going to incredibly enhance the profits of automobile insurance companies.
Mr Calzonetti writes in commending us for what we have done over the past few weeks. He writes, and again I am flattered and appreciate it and I know it is not true: “You are eloquent, well-informed (and funny on occasion). Fight on.”
Mr Speaker, I hope you have been able to share some of Mr Calzonetti’s perceptions as to some of the lighter moments. There certainly have to be times at which we can see some levity in the sadness of this whole sad scenario.
“Just a note to applaud the job you’re doing in the Legislature. We are glued to our television sets every day and appreciate the time and energy that the opposition is putting in to be rid of Bill 68 and, more importantly right now, to defeat a time allocation motion. It gives us great satisfaction to watch you put the Liberals, with their arrogance and lies, in their place. We hope you can continue as long as possible or until the Liberals realize how disgusting their proposed legislation is and be rid of it for ever. Our only disappointment is that the newspapers are not doing a good enough job of covering this. We anxiously await the outcome of this proposed legislation and we will definitely remember what the Liberals have done,” when it comes to the next general election here in the province of Ontario.
Here is a letter from Jim Milne that is of interest, I know, to all of us here when we are discussing this time allocation motion. Jim Milne of Whitby, Ontario, writes that he wants to congratulate us on our filibuster -- once again, he calls it a filibuster -- on the closure motion. It is not a filibuster. We are not filibustering. We are not trying to be obstructionist, Mr Speaker. It is the Liberals who have been obstructing the course of legislation here in the assembly. We just wanted to debate Bill 68. We wanted to debate Bill 68 as it deserves to be debated in committee of the whole House where questions can be asked of the Minister of Financial Institutions and specific issues can be raised and where the amendments, and there are over 30 of them that the Liberals tabled, plus 20 or so from the Tories -- we just wanted to be able to debate Bill 68 and the Liberals said, “No, you can’t.” What is more obstructionist than that? What is more filibusterous than that?
Mr Kormos: Ah, Mr Speaker, I checked that one before I came here today. I knew I wanted to use it at some time. “Filibusterous” is in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is not a neologism; it is a real, honest-to-goodness word with a history of usage. As I say, I checked that in my OED earlier today because I saw the Hansard lady here raise an eyebrow when I said “filibusterous.” She thought she caught me. Not today; “filibusterous” is a good one.
The Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon is creating a disturbance from a seat other than his own. I know the member will be more considerate from here on in. The member for Welland-Thorold now, after having a rest.
The letter from James Milne is most interesting. As I say, Mr Speaker, I know that you and the other members of this assembly hear what James Milne of Whitby has to say. He congratulates the opposition for its successful filibuster -- and it is not a filibuster, Mr Milne -- on the closure motion. He says he was not sure whether it was three or four nights on TV, but to be able to continue for so long and put in the time is remarkable.
The news to Mr Milne is that it has been three or four or five weeks, not just nights. I appreciate the fact that he spent three or four nights watching it himself. He notes that there has been the occasional puckish glance. At times we have had to be puckish, once again to relieve us of the misery, the tragedy, of what is happening here. The fact is that a time allocation motion is a sad, sad thing. It is a tragic commentary on the people of Ontario.
Mr Milne praises the Speaker and makes reference to the occasional use by the Speaker of double entendres. He says basically, “Nice going,” and he opposes -- people in Whitby oppose -- time allocation. They specifically oppose what the Liberals are trying to do.
What this is is an appeal to the Liberal members to respect the wishes of the electorate. That is all it is. The people out there in Ontario want to see a full debate over Bill 68. They know that it is so important to them. Why. Roseanne Leclair from Westglen Crescent in Etobicoke faxed in, “Thank you for your continued efforts. Keep up the good work. Ontario is watching.” We know that, we know Ontario is watching, because people have been phoning my office, 965-7714, with telephone messages beginning at 8:30 in the morning, carrying on. The phones are still ringing at six and 6:30 at night. My staff has got to go home at five, but people are watching.
Roseanne Leclair writes on: “Please pass my message to the assembly and the absent Liberal members. Ontarians look to their provincial government for fairness regardless of what party is in leadership. As a taxpayer, voter and motorist, I demand that Bill 68 be fully debated. Why is the Premier so fearful of a full debate on Bill 68?”
Why is the Premier so fearful of a full debate on Bill 68? Could it be -- an interesting proposition, just a query -- that although the Premier has the confidence of the insurance industry, he has concerns about what the Liberal backbenchers would do after a complete and thorough debate? Roseanne Leclair could be dead on here, that the Premier is fearful of those 29 Liberals who want to keep their ridings. The Premier knows that Liberals are going to get defeated in the next general election. The Premier knows that. They have as much as written off more than a handful of ridings that are fluke ridings, that went Liberal last election because of the landslide, no two ways about it, but were not Liberal before that and will never be Liberal again.
Do you know what, Mr Speaker? The members who come from those ridings that have been written off by the Premier know who they are. They know that they were elected on a landslide, that they were elected on a Liberal sweep, that they were flukes. They also know that they are not going to be re-elected come the next general election. If they oppose time allocation and they oppose Bill 68 they can be guaranteed their jobs. Those Liberal backbenchers who know that they have been written off by the Premier’s office, who know that they have been written off by the Liberal Party of Ontario because they were mere flukes in those ridings, can keep their jobs by simply voting against this time allocation motion and by voting against Bill 68. Their constituents will respect them for that and their constituents will re-elect them.
Do you know what, Mr Speaker? I told you this before and I tell you again: I would be the first person to tell the people from those Liberal ridings where their members voted against Bill 68 that their members did good for them here at Queen’s Park. I would be the first person to write letters to the editors of the newspapers in those members’ ridings, the members who voted against Bill 68, to tell the people in those communities that their member did good for them; that their member did not sell them out in favour of the profits of the insurance industry. They can count on that. I am on record.
Ontarians look to their provincial government for fairness, regardless of what party is in power. Ms Leclair said this: “Take heed, Liberals. Motorists vote; insurance companies don’t. Are the Liberal members aware that Bill 68 will affect each and every one of them and their families? Must they themselves become victims of negligent drivers before they realize the lack of protection under the so-called Ontario motorist protection plan? Wake up, you so-called leaders of Ontario. If protecting Ontarians is too much of a task, at least be sensible enough to protect yourself and your own family -- oppose Bill 68.” Roseanne Leclair and people like her are the real people in Ontario. They are what this government is supposed to be all about, not all about the insurance companies and their profits and not all about selling out taxpayers, drivers and innocent injured victims.
Mr Speaker, welcome back. You may have not have been able to hear that indeed Chuck Bougie from Terrace Bay, Ontario, is going to receive One Hundred Monkeys. Chuck Bougie knows that all we need is 29 Liberals to serve their constituents rather than the insurance industry and this bad legislation will be history.
Caesar Silva wrote and faxed this message: “Please, please, please, do not stop your filibuster on Bill 68. I feel the public will catch on soon. Most of them are not yet involved with the issues of no-fault insurance. I myself made the mistake of voting for” -- I will not name the member’s name because that is improper -- the member for Dovercourt “who now chooses to support the Liberal position instead of representing his constituents’ interests. I do not trust the so-called watchdog agency that will be regulating the insurance industry. In the past, the Ontario Automobile Insurance Board required individual insurance companies to charge no less than 80 per cent.” At least this was the figure he got from an insurance information pamphlet of the going rates. “So much for competitive forces and so much for the public reliance on this watchdog to protect them.”
Caesar Silva listened when the Premier promised, in September 1987, that he, the Premier of Ontario, had a very specific plan to reduce automobile insurance premiums in the province of Ontario. Caesar Silva listened very carefully when the Premier said that in September 1987. Caesar Silva voted for a Liberal, the member for Dovercourt, in part because the Premier promised that he, the Premier of the Liberals in Ontario, had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums.
What does Mr Silva get for the trust he placed in Liberals? He gets premium increases of up to 50 per cent and if he or a member of his family suffers the misfortune of being an innocent, injured motor vehicle accident victim, if they are among the 95 per cent, the vast, vast, vast majority of innocent, injured victims, they will get not a cent, not a nickel, not a dime, not a penny in compensation for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life.
Caesar Silva took it as a promise when the Premier said he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. Mr Silva feels that promise has been broken and he has been betrayed. Do you want to know something, Mr Speaker? Caesar Silva and all the other hundreds and thousands of people who have been phoning and writing are right.
Again, Mr Speaker, with all due respect to Mr McNaught, that is not a fair thing to say. The fact is that all of the opposition, all of the members of the New Democratic Party caucus, have participated in this condemnation of the Liberals’ closure motion and not just my colleagues in the New Democratic Party caucus, and I am proud to be in their ranks, but the hundreds and thousands of people across Ontario who have been phoning, at 965-7714, and writing, simply, “Peter Kormos, MPP, Queen’s Park, Toronto, M7A 1A2,” have been a very real part of this debate also, and it is a pleasure. I have not been able to make reference to all of the people who have phoned in or written; there simply has not been time.
We are trying to carry this along as speedily as possible. We are trying to deal with the issues as efficiently as we can, because I know there are other members of my caucus who want to speak on this closure motion as well and so I am being as economical with language -- Megan brings more phone calls.
Terrri Cosgrove from Forest, Ontario, phones in. Terrri Cosgrove is a card-carrying Liberal. She is going to tear up the card. She names the riding she is in. She is in the riding of Lambton. She is a card-carrying Liberal who is going to tear up the card. She says the opposition is doing a great job fighting Bill 68 and fighting closure. Terrri Cosgrove, you are dead on.
Ray and Florence Bastedo from Rexdale are dead against no-fault. The Bastedos say, “We shouldn’t be penalized for someone else’s incompetence.” Yes, they are being penalized for the Liberals’ incompetence. They are being penalized because the auto insurance industry has taken over this government. Ray and Florence Bastedo do not think it is fair to be penalized for someone else’s incompetence. We agree with them.
Bruce Smiley from Etobicoke, more specifically Etobicoke West, says it is a shame that any party would not allow another party to have their questions answered. That is what the Liberals’ time allocation motion is all about. The Liberals do not want to be asked questions about Bill 68. The Liberals do not want to participate in a debate about Bill 68. Bruce Smiley from Etobicoke West knows that is wrong. And do you know what, Mr Speaker? I do not think Bruce Smiley is going to vote for a Liberal candidate next time. I think it will be a long, long, long time before he ever even thinks of it again when he sees how they have trampled on democratic principles here in the province of Ontario.
Stan Larsh from Glencoe calls in with support for the filibuster. He says we are doing a great job for Ontario and these Liberals are trying to deprive people of their right to use the courts. He says a lot of people from Glencoe support our opposition to the allocation motion, to the closure, and to Bill 68.
We are pleased to talk to these people. We are pleased to hear from them. We are pleased to be able to represent their views here at Queen’s Park. Occasionally the Liberals will display, they will wear on their sleeves, their disdain for the voters of Ontario, and maybe that is just as well.
Wayne Picken from Kingsville called up and he asked, “Do the Liberals realize how many people will drive without insurance because they cannot afford it and how many will flee accident scenes because they do not have insurance?” Wayne Picken is 100 per cent right.
David Russell-Kimmer is a first-year political science student at York University. David Russell-Kimmer says Bill 68 scares the daylights out of him. He congratulates the opposition for its fight and David Russell-Kimmer is offended by the highhanded tactics of the Liberals.
Many people who want to watch the parliamentary network are unable to do so because of conflicting scheduling. They have to be at work; they have to take the kids here and there. I tell members what I am going to do. The sender of the first torn-up Liberal Party membership card that is mailed to my office here at Queen’s Park is going to get a videotape of today’s debate on the time allocation motion. The sender of the first torn-up Liberal Party membership card is going to get a videotape of today’s proceedings, is going to get a “No-fault, No Thanks” button and we are looking forward to that.
So the owner of the first torn-up Liberal Party membership card that is mailed in to my office here at Queen’s Park -- just addressed to “Peter Kormos, MPP, Queen’s Park, Toronto” -- is going to get a videotape of today’s debates on VHS, ready for the VCR, in colour. The sender of the first torn-up Liberal Party membership card –
Mr Kormos: Do you want to know something, Mr Speaker? I am so impressed by the calls we got this afternoon for the book, One Hundred Monkeys, that the sender of the 100th torn-up Liberal Party membership card is going to get a copy of this book. I am going to go out to This Ain’t the Rosedale Library book store and buy another copy of it for the 100th torn-up Liberal Party membership card that is mailed in to me.
Mr Speaker, you know what happened at the onset of the day. One of the Liberal members, the member for Ottawa West, a Liberal, made a motion on a point of order that, if granted, would have the effect of forcing me to end my contribution to this debate. The Speaker will do what he has to do in the context of the rules. I am concerned that the Speaker is put into that position. I am concerned that the Liberals not only do not want to debate Bill 68, but now they want to terminate the debate on their very own time allocation motion.
Mr Kormos: Once again, so that the Liberals cannot run roughshod over this Legislature, we need phone calls and we need telephone messages and letters and cards. We need postcards even, like the one from Sue Berg, who sends a postcard in from Welland and she just says, “No-fault, No Thanks.”
Bruce Martin from Thornhill phones in and says he is in full agreement with what we are trying to do to get the Liberals to listen. From Sunderland -- and you will recall, Mr Speaker, that Mr Emsley phoned in last week. Mr Emsley phoned in with a message of encouragement and a clear message to the Liberals of Ontario. He puts a note in the mail and he writes:
“I am a senior citizen and am very interested in what the Liberal government is doing to us regarding Bill 68 and to commend your excellent presentation explaining just how bad this bill is for the Canadian people. Hoping you will be able to deliver the knock-out punch the Liberals so richly deserve, I am sending a clipping of what council and mayor of Georgina think of Bill 68.”
Mr Emsley did send a newspaper clipping from Georgina. It is the Georgina Advocate and it is dated 18 April 1990, page 7A: “The council of Georgina, Ontario” -- the week prior to 18 April -- ”last week endorsed a resolution objecting to the province’s proposed no-fault insurance scheme despite an objection from councillor Bill Laird.”
Bill Laird is an insurance broker. That is where the support for Bill 68 and this insurance scheme is coming from. It is coming from the insurance industry, and the insurance industry is virtually alone in its support of Bill 68.
Mr Kormos: Thank you. Mr Speaker, the council of Georgina passed a resolution condemning Bill 68. What was said? Councillor Clare Morrison read the proposed legislation and found it seriously flawed. Council voted to support the resolution calling on the government to consider alternative methods of reform to automobile insurance and the system governing compensation to victims of accidents.
If the Liberals will not listen to the people from Thunder Bay, the people from Oshawa, the people from Whitby, the people from Welland, if the Liberals will not listen to the people from Sudbury and Windsor and Ottawa, will they please listen to the people from Georgina, who say no to Bill 68. The people of Georgina should be proud of their city council. The people of Georgina can be proud that their city council is working hard to make sure that the residents of Georgina live the way good, hardworking people ought to be able to live here in Ontario.
Now, mind you, this Bill Laird, the insurance broker, the one who did not want to see that motion presented there, was not crazy about the motion, the resolution, but he is an insurance broker, and you have to excuse him because of that. The rest of the council in Georgina did just fine.
Linda Williams phoned in from Sarnia. She is in support of scrapping Bill 68 and she says the Liberal Party better wake up and smell the coffee. So Linda Williams from Sarnia knows who she is talking about.
Ms Janice Finlay phoned in from Windsor expressing her dismay for Bill 68 and kindly giving some words of support for me. This is the fuel that gives us energy each day to carry on with this fight against time allocation.
Do not forget, Mr Speaker, the first torn-up Liberal Party membership card that is received by me at my office here gets a videotape of today’s debate and the 100th torn-up Liberal membership card gets a copy of the book One Hundred Monkeys -- great reading.
Judy Rowe calls from Toronto to say that she has no support for this Liberal so-called no-fault insurance scheme. She says there is lots of fault with no-fault, the biggest scam that has gone down in a long time.
“What are the Liberals doing? Are they trying to prove that democracy does not work?” He asks, “Where is the safety measure for common people when a majority government, and an arrogant majority government like the Liberals, are in power if they are successful in muzzling or silencing the opposition?” Then really, as I have said so many times, we might as well lock the doors. The Liberals do not want to participate in any debate on Bill 68. That is what their time allocation motion is all about.
Bev Medland from Toronto calls in to say that her husband got a reply from the Minister of Financial Institutions to a letter he wrote. She says that, unfortunately, it was empty and they would have loved to have had some content in it. It was all fluff. That is what I wanted to talk about for a few minutes, fluff.
The Liberals do not want to debate Bill 68. They love it when they have their own private forum where there is no openness. They will get people on the phone and bend their ear for what seems like hours about what a great scheme they have concocted here, what a great scheme is being cooked up.
The member for Durham was down in Port Colborne speaking to the Rotary club. Members might recall I started talking this afternoon and was going to get back to that, the member for Durham being down in Port Colborne. There is nothing wrong with him going down to Port Colborne. The people in Port Colborne are good, hard-working people. They deserve a heck of a lot better than what this government is giving them.
But the member for Durham goes down there and he gives them fluff. Once again, here is another Liberal spitting out lint. Why? They are so deep in the back pockets of the insurance companies that they are spitting out lint. Well, the member for Durham goes to Port Colborne at a Rotary club dinner --
Mr Callahan: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: that member has been told not to use that language to any member of this House and he continues to do it. It is an absolute absurdity to this entire process.
Mr Chiarelli: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: It has to do, once again, with the course of this particular member in this debate. I want to bring to the Speaker’s attention that there are some rules in our standing orders which include the fact that a member should not persist in needless repetition. I am reading from the rules. He should not make allegations against another member and a member ought not to impute false or unavowed motives to another member, which in my opinion the member has just done by referring to the member for Durham being in the back pockets of the insurance companies.
I want to say that in my humble opinion the Speaker has an obligation to insist that members refrain from using that type of language. In this particular case it has been repetitive. It has been day after day and I implore you, Mr Speaker, to put an end to it.
The Deputy Speaker: The member for Ottawa West is correct that the member for Welland-Thorold has been asked not to make these allegations and I would ask him to withdraw that, if that is the allegation he made.
Mr Kormos: The member for Durham Centre should take the Tribune to task then for identifying his riding as Durham. The problem is that some members around here do not make much of an impact in the Legislature, so it is hard to remember who they are.
Getting back to the sheep in New Zealand, I understand that I am speaking only to the time allocation motion brought forward by the government House leader, and I am just doing my part to open up the legislative process for all the citizens of the province, who for one of the first times during the course of this government’s trying to impose Bill 68 on them are having their specific concerns voiced here at Queen’s Park.
What we have to do, and I have told members this before, is that we have to convince 29 Liberal backbenchers to vote against the time allocation motion, to allow for a full debate. I talked about sheep before and the reason I mention that, Mr Speaker, is that I have to ask you, just how long are these Liberal backbenchers going to allow themselves to be led around like sheep by the insurance companies of the province?
If they insist on following like a herd of sheep they had better be careful, because down in New Zealand the sheep herds are facing hard times. They are a leading cause of methane gas. Mr Speaker, I know that you would not allow me the liberty of comparing the methane gas problem caused by New Zealand sheep to the similar aroma foisted on the public when the rare Liberal backbencher speaks out to protect the sanctity of Bill 68 -- I know you would not let me make that comparison -- or the government’s decision to ram this methane-producing time allocation motion through the House, because trust me, they are trying to ram this through the House. We are trying to stop them from ramming it through.
Quite frankly, if the environmentalists in New Zealand think they have methane problems with their sheep, I think some environmentalists here in Ontario should check out the methane problem with these Liberal backbenchers, who indeed are letting themselves be led around like sheep. The environmentalists should look at it seriously. How could any Liberal backbencher actually support this time allocation motion when people from all over Ontario, many of whom were previously lifelong Liberals and Liberal supporters, have taken the time to call me at 965-7714? Those people have gone to great lengths to call me at 965-7714.
They are people like Chuck Bougie who called from Terrace Bay and got his copy of One Hundred Monkeys, like the people who have called and the people who have mailed in. The first person who mails in a torn-up Ontario Liberal membership card is going to get a videotape of today’s debate. The 100th torn-up Liberal membership card is going to get his own copy of One Hundred Monkeys. They are calling to say they will never vote Liberal again because of this time allocation motion and because of the Liberal backbenchers’ support for Bill 68.
These same people know that there is a methane problem being caused by Liberal backbenchers, the sheep right here at Queen’s Park. It is the Liberal backbenchers who insist on following the insurance companies of this province like sheep to a salt-lick. I am used to seeing these Liberals jump to their feet. I called them jack-in-the-boxes the other day because that is what occasionally happens. You crank them up enough and they will jump to their feet. The problem is that when they start squealing and hollering I feel like the dentist who got close to a nerve, because when I hear these Liberals squeal, I know we are hitting really close to a nerve. We are touching close to the nerve here. Somebody had better get these guys some Novocain. The more these Liberal members squeal --
M. Pouliot : J’aimerais attirer votre attention et aussi celle, de façon fort sérieuse, des autres collègues, des députés de l’Assemblée législative. II me semble que sous l’article 20(b) du Règlement, surtout quand il se dit des choses intéressantes, des choses profondes, que l’atmosphère du cirque -- broadly summarized, it means the kind of circus atmosphere when profound and important things are being said. People have made it a habit to consistently, deliberately, systematically interrupt the member for Welland-Thorold in this important matter, Mr Speaker. I would ask for your guidance.
The Deputy Speaker: Order. The member for Lake Nipigon is repeating a request I have made repeatedly to the members of this House this afternoon. Interjections, no matter where they are coming from, are always out of order.
Mr Kormos: Mrs E. Budge just phoned in from Weston. She has been watching this afternoon. As a matter of fact, she has been watching since we started this debate on time allocation. She is concerned. She says that the people doing all the squealing and yapping are acting like kindergarten kids, and that is enough to cause her not to vote Liberal next time.
Well, Mrs Budge, it is exactly why the page is going to come here to get this colouring book and crayons to take over to the member for Sudbury, because indeed you are right: They are acting like kids. Perhaps that will keep them occupied a little more effectively than their attention span would let them participate in this very important issue. The crayons are non-toxic, so if he takes to chewing on them nothing really bad is going to happen. He should put them back in the box when he has finished with them so that he does not lose them.
Bob Reynolds from Bobcaygeon called in this afternoon. He does not want no-fault. He says the opposition is doing a wonderful job, that the people of Ontario need this opposition badly. That is exactly why this time allocation motion has to be defeated, because this time allocation motion is all about silencing the opposition, muzzling the opposition.
Tim Hutton calls in from the Eglinton area of Toronto. He says he is ashamed, he is ashamed of his Liberal government. He says the insurance companies are making all this money on the backs of motorists.
The one thing that people have to be careful of is that when a Liberal member has an opportunity to sit down with them or talk to them or write a letter to them -- we went all through that Liberal householder that was full, just chock-full -- remember the Liberal householder we went through the other day? We are going to finish up on that householder some time either the end of this week or some time during next week. We are going to work on the householder of the Liberal that told the most incredible things to the people in his riding about Bill 68. No wonder the people of his riding out in Mississauga are cynical about politicians, because they read what that member, the member for Mississauga West, included in his householder, printed at taxpayers’ expense, and they say, “My goodness, this is so far from the reality of Bill 68 this is like a fantasy.”
That is what happened down in Port Colborne when the Liberal got sent down there to give his fluff speech, unchallenged, untested. That is why they do not want to debate it here at Queen’s Park, because they do not want to talk about the billion dollar payday for the auto insurance. They do not want to talk about the billion dollar payday for what is a very profitable auto insurance industry.
Next time we are talking about this, we are going to take a look at the profits of Co-operators Insurance in the year 1989; 1989 was a banner year for Co-operators. They made more money than they know what to do with in 1989, and they made it on the backs of drivers with incredible premium increases. They made it by driving a pickup truck, a dump truck, a Mack truck through the loopholes that exist in the so-called consumer protection legislation of the cap or the freeze that the Liberals tell us they have imposed now. You could drive one of those big Lectra Haul trucks, the kind you can walk underneath to remove the oil plug when you are doing an oil change, you could drive one of those Lectra Hauls through the loopholes that are contained in the Liberals’ so-called consumer protection legislation.
When the Liberal member went down to Port Colborne, he did not tell the good people of Port Colborne that Bill 68 is going to mean premium increases of up to 50 per cent in the first year alone, premium increases of up to 50 per cent for drivers here in the province of Ontario. The question to be asked is, how can these Liberals permit their member to purportedly speak about auto insurance to the Rotary club of Port Colborne and conveniently not mention, not whisper one word about a 50 per cent premium increase for drivers in Ontario, up to 50 per cent for each and every driver, and for almost a third of a million of the drivers of Ontario Bill 68 will mean premium increases of up to 80 per cent. This member said absolutely nothing about that when he talked to the Rotary club.
This member said absolutely nothing about the fact that the taxpayer is being forced, by virtue of Bill 68, to subsidize the auto insurance industry in this province to the tune of about $143 million in the first year alone. When the Liberals are out giving their fluff speeches, why are they not talking about the $143-million taxpayers’ subsidy that is going to be paid to the insurance industry by this Liberal government? Why are they not telling the people in Port Colborne, when they go there to speak at the Rotary club, that the taxpayers’ pockets are going to be picked to the tune of $143 million and that money is going to be handed over to the auto insurance industry?
The members know where the figures come from, some $95 million, $96 million, $97 million, because the auto insurance industry, by virtue of Bill 68, is being relieved of its obligation to pay the three per cent premium tax and that obligation is going to be shifted on to the backs of taxpayers.
Do members know what is even more obscene? Because of what this province is doing to municipalities across Ontario, that burden is going to be shifted on to the backs of property owners in big cities, and indeed in small towns, across the province of Ontario. The Liberals would eliminate the three per cent premium tax and force that tax obligation on to the good, hard-working people, the senior citizens and the students of Ontario.
When Liberals go out and try to talk about auto insurance in their new scheme, they do not mention that. They do not talk about the taxpayer subsidy of the auto insurance industry. They do not talk about the $46 million that OHIP is going to absorb, and that means a $46-million drain in the first year alone on our health care system, already badly in need of some resuscitation itself, but another $46 million being skimmed off our health care system, relieving the auto insurance industry of its obligation to be responsible for the health care obligations and the health care costs of people injured by their drivers -- a $143-million taxpayer subsidy in the first year alone.
They do not talk about the $823 million that is being skimmed off the backs of innocent injured victims to generate an almost $1-billion windfall for the auto insurance industry in the first year alone. That is the impact of denying over 95 per cent of all innocent injured victims any right to be compensated for pain and suffering or for loss of enjoyment of life. That is going to make a windfall in itself of $823 million for the auto insurance industry in the first year alone.
The fact is, we are talking about a piece of legislation wherein a drunk driver can get more compensation than his or her victim. A car thief can get more compensation than his or her victim. We are talking about legislation that even the auto insurance industry did not dare ask for when it made its submissions to Osborne a couple of years ago. This government has given the auto insurance industries in this province more than they ever even dared ask for and it is taking it from the taxpayers, drivers and the innocent injured victims to create that windfall, that great big payday.
Let me tell you, Mr Speaker, it does not stop after year one. That $1-billion windfall, that payday, is just the beginning. That is year one. There is going to be more of the same in year two, year three, year four, year five.
The auto insurance industry is an extremely powerful and an extremely wealthy industry here in the province of Ontario, and indeed elsewhere. We have talked more than a few times about how we in the New Democratic Party do not get donations from the auto insurance industry and how we are not particularly concerned about it because we do not want to be bought or even rented by that industry. We do not want to be beholden to the auto insurance industry in this province. We are prepared to be able to fight for innocent injured victims, for the taxpayers of Ontario, for the drivers of Ontario, who deserve far better, especially when the Premier of Ontario promised that he had a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums.
He said that back three days before the general election in September 1987. He promised a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums, and what does he deliver? A plan that is going to force premiums up by as much as 50 per cent for drivers in Ontario and for a third of a million drivers by as much as 80 per cent.
That is not a very specific plan to reduce auto insurance premiums. That is a very specific plan to enhance the profitability of the auto insurance industry, an industry that is greedy and is as greedy as it ever was, an industry that will gouge and gouge as much as it ever did.
Not only does the auto insurance industry not fund us in our campaigns -- it does not fund us in the New Democratic Party -- it is not our friend, by any stretch of the word, by any sense of the imagination. They are the friends of the wealthy members of the Liberal caucus, those very same wealthy, powerful insurance companies aligned with wealthy members of the Liberal caucus, a Premier who is a millionaire, a Premier who has never had to concern himself either with making a million bucks, because Lord knows, it was not earned, it was given, but a Premier who has never had to concern himself with where that month’s rent or mortgage payment comes from. Maybe it is just a matter of the rich against us. We will keep on fighting back.