Continuation of debate on the motion for second reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping / Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jours fériés dans le commerce de détail en ce qui concerne l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche.
Mr George Mammoliti (Yorkview): I wasn't going to stand up and make any comments, but after the member for Markham said a couple of things, I felt somewhat compelled to stand up. I have great respect for the member for Markham. I even look to him, in a sense, for some leadership at times. He's very experienced and of course brings some intelligence to the Legislature, and individuals like myself actually look to him for that and for some assistance at times as well. As he knows, I've approached him in hallways and asked for his opinion on certain issues, and there's a reason for that.
That's why it bothers me so much to hear comments like "liar" and comments of that nature in this place. Then the member for Markham does not have even the guts to apologize for comments he made. I sat here and heard those comments, and they were very loud and clear. To me, that's disturbing, because I have great respect for the member for Markham. I really want him to hear this, because it's important to me.
When he talks about the Premier and how he feels that a referendum should have been called on this issue two years ago or a year and a half ago, he neglects to mention that there's a free vote in this place. For the Premier to have called a free vote on this issue showed some guts. I'm wondering why the member did not mention this free vote in his speech. He spoke for a half-hour. He spoke very well at times, and he neglected to mention the free vote.
Then there are two other roles, the role of the official opposition and the role of the third party, and that's essentially to simply undermine everything that is done and to criticize, to criticize quite legitimately. We all recognize that is a function and a role.
The member for Markham did that remarkably well by simply reciting a litany of woes and a litany of changes in direction and that kind of thing and speaking very little about what his own party would do on this particular vote.
We're all going to have to vote and we're all going to have to stand up in our places. I suspect that the Conservative Party will be very divided on this particular issue, but that's something we will see, and that will go down in the record. I suspect that the Liberal caucus to some degree will be very divided as well in terms of its own determination on this particular issue.
But to answer his question very directly, the question was posed to the electorate in the city of North York in the last municipal election, in 1991, and an overwhelming majority of the voters voted yes to Sunday shopping, but as a North Yorker, I'll have you know that I'm going to be voting in favour of no Sunday shopping. I'm going to buck the public trend in North York.
First let me comment about the statement made by the member for Markham. I thought it was well researched. It was to the point. He had canvassed his constituents and he had come in with a very reasoned, thoughtful argument -- I don't think there's any debate about that -- and he's clear about where he stands. The interesting thing is that this member has principle enough that he was taking the same direction and the same position when he was campaigning for this job during the election back in 1990. That's something that you, Mr Speaker, would know about: When campaigning for these jobs, you enunciate your policies and positions.
Why you have difficulty understanding that is that we as a party were freed up to say to our constituents what we thought about Sunday shopping. I was in favour. I recall vividly the members for Etobicoke-Rexdale and Etobicoke-Lakeshore talking in very boisterous terms about how they were opposed, that they were in favour of a common pause day. The principles of the party across the floor were for a common pause day. That's what you campaigned on.
You see, that's the difference, that's the rub: That makes you a four-flusher; that's how we square it with our constituents. We campaigned for the position we are going to take in the not-too-distant future when we vote on this issue.
As far as the "liar" and so on and so forth, and apologies etc, may I suggest to the member for Yorkview that your Premier started this whole campaign about accusing people of being liars, about saying they break their promises, and I've not heard him utter one apology to date to those people he slandered so terribly during that election campaign. That's when that kind of language started, so look unto yourselves before you start casting stones.
Mr W. Donald Cousens (Markham): First of all, I want to thank the member for Etobicoke West for his comments and support. I think he touches on one of the very fundamental flaws of this place. The government and the government members do everything they can to disrupt this House and to keep opposition members from making their points. There isn't any doubt that the way they talk and the way they interrupt and the lack of action in the role of the Speaker to cause them to control their tongues --
Mr Cousens: -- is in fact a serious, serious problem. So I challenge the Speaker: If you hear the cacophony of sounds there now, it is just typical of the kinds of interruptions they make. I say it is causing problems in this House and it has to --
Mr Cousens: You can just hear the background, the member for Durham West and other members. I'm saying is a serious problem and a breakdown in the democratic process, that opposition members are being restricted from saying what they want to say, however they want to say it.
Therefore, I want to make the next point, and that has to do with the integrity of government; that is the point the member for Etobicoke West was really touching upon. There is nothing more important than that: That is the basis for our being elected here, that we will have something to go back to the people. The problem with the New Democrats is that they have lost a lot of points, over the last few years especially, in the way they've dealt with issues like this, when in fact they say one thing and then say quite another afterwards.
Mr Cousens: The member for Yorkview says it is a free vote. I wonder if the cabinet has a free vote on it as well. I ask that question. It is not a free vote unless there is a full, free vote in this Legislature, and for him to say that there is a free vote when in fact there isn't causes questions.
Mr Mammoliti: I'm glad that the member has given his opinion on the issue, and that's the member for Markham. After some 10 or 15 people on this side asked him how he's going to vote, he finally said he's going to vote in favour of this. That's too bad, because I was hoping that the member for Markham would vote opposed to it, as I am taking the position of No. I'm disappointed that the member for Markham is going to vote in favour of this. As opposed to getting into criticizing the Premier and the government in his debate, perhaps he should have spoken a little more on how and why he's going to vote in favour of this and perhaps the reasons, but instead he chose to criticize and not be constructive in his debate.
I want to go back into the past for a little while, for the first little while anyway, and talk about what got us here. How did we get to this point? As one of the members has mentioned earlier, June 1992, I believe, was the date that this bill first got introduced and it's taken this long to get here. I'm somewhat disappointed in that as well because I was looking forward to debating this a lot sooner.
Nevertheless we're here, and we're here, in my opinion, not because there have been some truths around this issue; I think we're here because of public opinion, and I would agree that the public opinion back then seemed to sway towards opening up on Sundays. I think it's how that public opinion had been reached that we need to debate. I think the messages that were getting out by different people and different organizations and different businesses perhaps were misleading, and for that reason there were individuals who sat at home and watched TV or perhaps read the newspaper and believed a lot of the rhetoric that was coming out of the debate.
For instance, big businesses had massive lobbying campaigns going on and consistent polls that would give people the wrong impression. They would, for instance, go to the public and ask the question, "Do you want to shop on Sundays?" That might seem to you to be somewhat innocent in terms of a question, but if you ask anybody whether they want to shop on Sunday, the answer from most people is going to be yes, and that's what's been reflected not only in those surveys that big business has done but in the polls as well.
I have been arguing for a few years that the question should not be, "Do you want to shop on Sundays?" but, "Do you want to work on Sundays?" I'm a firm believer that if that question was posed to the public even today, you would find just a complete reversal in terms of people's opinion on this. You know as well as I do that if public opinion is heavy and is going towards a particular issue, governments in a lot of cases have no choice but to change legislation and accommodate public opinion.
I remember, two years ago and a year and a half ago, even in our caucus, my standing up and talking about asking the appropriate questions, putting out the polls in the community that would ask the appropriate questions and not the misleading questions. If those questions were asked, I'm convinced that you'd see a different trend, that even now people would say no to Sunday shopping. They don't want to work on Sunday.
Now, having said that, I think it's also important to talk about after the year. The year's gone by, the stores have been open. How do people feel after a long year's gone by? So I think to a degree, this has actually been good in terms of waiting for this debate and waiting for this year to find out exactly what's happened.
I can almost guarantee you that individuals like myself who are going to vote opposed to this for the right reasons are right in our arguments. If there's anybody in this place who can stand up and show me a report or statistics that would prove that this issue had helped, and helped alone, the cross-border stuff, for instance, I'd be willing to listen to that. But I haven't seen any reports. I haven't seen any positive reports that said that because of Sunday shopping, cross-border shopping has improved in terms of people not going to the United States. Until I see those reports, I'm not going to change my mind.
I'd like to find out -- and I know for a fact, because I've spoken to individuals in my riding who have been forced to work on Sundays. This is an argument that is quite repetitive on my part, but I remember talking about this a year ago, and I knew that people would be forced to work on Sundays. The employers may not come out and say, "You have to work on Sunday," or "I'm demanding that you work on Sunday," but what the employers are doing is leaving them with no choice. They're perhaps sending the message through another employee that if that employee doesn't work on the Sunday, then repercussions are inevitable. I believe that this is happening and happening consistently, and I believe that because I've been talking to individuals in my riding whom it's happened to.
Small businesses in my riding are forced to open to be competitive. They're forced to open because big business has the edge. So on Sundays, places like Galati Bros in my riding, which is a grocery store and which has never really been in favour of Sunday shopping, are forced to open now to be competitive with stores like Miracle Mart or the Price Club or one of the others that might exist around my community. Valencia Foods, for instance, is another one, another small business that was forced to open because of the pressure, because of that competitiveness. Of course, the De Cicco Brothers and a few others didn't want to open, and now I notice the doors open on Sundays, not because they want to but because they've been forced to.
I want to touch a little bit on a referendum that was held, and my colleague from Downsview had mentioned this in a response. In North York a referendum did take place, and it took place in the last municipal election. I've got to tell you that the majority of the people wanted to shop on Sundays, because that was the question. Again, it wasn't, "Do you want to work on Sundays?" It was, "Do you want to shop on Sundays?" The majority of the people in North York clearly said -- the people who responded, anyway -- that they wanted to shop on Sundays.
But in my community and even in the member for Downsview's community, it was pretty much split right down the middle, and I'm convinced that it was split down the middle not only because of the question but because of the way it was asked.
In my community, a lot of individuals quite frankly can't read for a number of reasons. A lot of them are perhaps from different countries and can't read the English language, so they couldn't read the question in the referendum. For that reason, I believe that the no vote had been hurt because the people who couldn't read it, and the people who seemed to relate to the whole issue of family values and Sunday being a day of family, would have voted no if they'd understood the question.
I'm concerned about that. I don't think that referendum was accurate. I don't think it was conducted fairly as other polls -- and this is repetitive as well -- in Ontario have clearly shown as well. I disagree with any government which looks at these polls and looks at these referendums and looks at that public opinion that is caused because of these polls, these inaccurate polls and inaccurate referendums and the questions, and I disagree on making the decisions based on that.
This decision I'm convinced was based on those misconceptions out there, and for that reason I'm voting No. I firmly believe that the average person out there still doesn't want to work on Sundays. Until they actually realize what this means to them and their families, they're probably going to continue shopping on Sundays.
I can tell you that individuals in my riding who have been accustomed to meeting on Sundays for a picnic or for a family lunch or to go to church will end up suffering because those meetings will no longer take place if one or two or three of them are forced to work on Sundays. Eventually, Sundays will be wide open. It will no longer just be convenience stores and the small grocery stores. Eventually you will see Sunday being just another day for individuals to wake up at 7 o'clock, 8 o'clock in the morning, go crazy with their families, get their pyjamas off, get their clothes on and get out there and go to work.
We won't have those picnics any more. We won't have those family reunions any more. Even though I haven't been home that much over the last three years, I know that Sunday is the day I want to spend at home. Even in this position, as a parliamentarian, I'm not home as much as I'd like to be, even on Sundays. I do value Sundays, I want to cherish them and I want to be there. Even after my life in this place, I want to be there.
I don't want to risk meeting up with some employer some day who says, "George Mammoliti, you've got to work on Sundays whether you like it or not." I don't want to do that, and I don't want to do that because of my principles. I believe in Sundays. I believe in Sundays being a family day. I quite frankly am very upset at even some of my colleagues in this place who are voting in favour of this, because I have always thought that principles did mean a lot to a lot of people in this place.
For this reason, I'm somewhat concerned and upset at some individuals in this place, understanding as well -- and I do understand when they go to their home ridings perhaps and listen to public opinion, the public opinion being they want Sundays open. But they've got to realize that the questions that were asked a year and a half ago were not the appropriate questions.
Go into your ridings. Do it before we have this vote and ask whether they want to work on Sundays. That's the question that needs to be asked. Then come back here and vote appropriately. I'm convinced that if you do that, you will come back and vote No in this free vote.
Going on to the free vote, I've got to tell you that I'm proud of the Premier in the sense that he has had enough guts to call a free vote on this issue. He knows the importance out there, he knows that a lot of us really feel strongly about the issue and he's wanted to open it up for debate and he's wanted to give people the opportunity in this place to vote with their hearts. I can tell you for that reason I'm proud of the Premier for doing that, a lot more proud than I would be perhaps for other leaders in this place and other issues that have come up, and the fact that they've neglected them and not called a free vote in this place.
Cross-border shopping: I raised that issue up once already. I dare somebody to bring some sort of report to my office, or mail me -- anybody at home that's watching this tonight -- fax me a copy of any reports that you might have that clearly indicate that open Sundays have stopped the flow of traffic at the border, have stopped people from actually shopping at the border. I'm willing to argue the fact that it hasn't, and for that reason I'm throwing out this challenge.
A dollar spent over six days will not stretch any further over seven days, and for anybody to think that the dollar they pull out of their pocket they can spend and stretch over a seven-day period is wrong. For anybody to think that the economy is going to benefit over Sunday shopping is wrong, and I'm going to throw this challenge out again to anybody out there who's willing to send me any report or any statistics or any documents that will prove that the economy has gotten better because of Sunday shopping. I'm going to argue that it hasn't, and I'm going to argue that it hasn't based on the economy and the statistics themselves.
For that reason I'm going to say that because of this year that has elapsed since the first introduction of the bill, we have realized that the economy, in my opinion, hasn't gotten any better because of Sunday shopping. Anybody out there, give me the statistics if you've got them, because I want to hear from you. I want to know what proof we have that the economy has gotten better because of Sunday shopping. It hasn't.
Mr Mammoliti: My colleague Mr Kormos is agreeing with me. It hasn't gotten any better, and I want people when they stand up in favour or opposed to this to remember that. Why are you standing up in favour of it if the economy hasn't gotten any better? Why are you standing up in favour of it if it hasn't helped the situation at the border? Why are you --
Mr Mammoliti: The member for Durham Centre has said it has, it's gone down. I'd be willing to bet that it's gone down because of the implementation perhaps of the provincial tax, that new thing that we did here that would grab that extra little bit of tax from people.
Mr Mammoliti: The Canadian dollar is down as well. So for that reason, it's gone down, yes, not because of Sunday shopping. Ask Niagara Falls or Cornwall whether or not their businesses -- business in terms of their small business -- have jumped up over this last year, and the answer is going to be no, they haven't.
Why would people stand up in this place and vote in favour of this? I don't know. I don't know why. I wish that you could answer that question for me, Mr Speaker, because nobody else in this place can. I'm not sure if you're even in the position to be able to do that, Mr Speaker. I would bet that you're not.
The environment: Once this thing gets going, once Sundays are open, once people are going to be coming downtown like crazy with their cars and with their motorcycles and everything else, the smog on Sundays, the pollution on Sundays, the traffic on Sundays, the noise on Sundays will be absolutely --
I'm going to wind up by saying that even though I have a number of other issues I wish to talk about, I know that the member for Downsview has already raised these, and he and I have been working together on this because this means quite a bit to our community. We don't want to work on Sundays. We don't want to shop on Sundays. We don't want to work on Sundays.
Ms Christel Haeck (St Catharines-Brock): I won't take the full two minutes, but I wanted to thank the member for Yorkview for, in his usual passionate style, making it clear to all of us not only why he objects to it, but I know many other people object to it for similar reasons.
I represent an area which abuts the US, and there was a range of reports that came out at one time, just for the members' information, that did suggest that cross-border shopping could somehow be cured by bringing about some form of Sunday shopping legislation. The reality is that Sunday shopping has been cured by the fall of the Canadian dollar so that people really realize that it is much cheaper to shop at home.
In my trips through the peninsula on the weekend doing my events, I notice that the businesses in many areas are not open. There are some grocery stores that open, but over and above all, people in the Niagara Peninsula prefer to enjoy the family time, to do a bit of gardening, to go to the beach or to basically spend some time with their families. So I, like the member for Yorkview, will be voting against this particular bill.
Mr White: I'd like to commend my friend for his persistence on these issues, for maintaining those kinds of values, those concerns about family life, about family values, about a common pause day where the workers, the families in his riding, can be together.
It has been more than a year since this bill was introduced and a lot of people may say: "Why bother? It's been so long, why bother? It's a fait accompli. A common pause day in this province is gone for ever." But we have members like George Mammoliti who stand up with honour and with dignity, defending the families in his riding and defending the kinds of values that brought us all here. Mr Mammoliti is a good reminder to us all of what it is to be a member in this Legislature, to bring forth those values and to continually represent his constituency, the families in his riding, in the best way possible.
Otherwise, we could all be lost in the market square and forget about the family circle. We could be lost, having given away to commercialism those common family values that our families, generation after generation, have held inviolate, that now have gone by the wayside. I want to commend George again for bringing those things to us and reminding us all that it is not lost, it is not forgotten, and that this battle can still be won for the families of this province.
Mr Perruzza: I know I've responded, so I'm going to be very brief, but I'd like to add my appreciation for the strong stance that's been taken by the member for Yorkview on this particular issue, for essentially standing in his place and defending those working people who live in the riding of Downsview, because like the riding of Downsview, there are many other members, on the government side, may I add, who fully intend to vote in opposition to this bill while many of our public believe that this is no longer an issue.
Many of us in government, for administrative reasons, believe that it is a very important issue and an issue which will be with us for quite some time to come, and I suspect that on this one it will come full circle. So I'd like to commend the member for Yorkview for his opposition to this. I likewise will also be voting against Sunday shopping and in favour of a common pause day for working families in Ontario.
I'd also like to take this very brief moment to expand on a point that was made by the member for Yorkview, the point being that there aren't magically new dollars that are all of a sudden available on Sundays. I note that some of our Conservative colleagues are just walking back into the chamber and I'd like to say to them very clearly that from them we've been getting a very mixed message, a very confused message on this particular issue.
They, quite frankly, don't know how to sit on this. Some of them will be voting in favour and some of them will be voting against. I know that some Liberals will be voting in favour of Sunday shopping, some Liberals will be voting against Sunday shopping, and the message from them is very confused. I wish they would come clean and clear on what it is that they support and don't support.
Mr Mammoliti: I want to thank Drummond White from Durham Centre for the comments -- I'm lost for words; thank you very much for the comments, I do appreciate them -- and of course, the member from St Catharines and my next-door neighbour, the member for Downsview. I know they're going to do the right thing; I know that they're going to vote opposed to this.
I know that even the Conservatives, for the most part, are going to vote opposed to this. As much as some of those big businesses out there are pushing for Sunday shopping because they want to scrape that last nickel from small business, from that corner store, and make sure that they get rid of another family and get them out of the market, I'm sure they'll vote opposed to this anyway. I'm sure they're going to ignore all the big business that is hitting their offices, perhaps, and asking them to vote in favour of this. I know you're going to do the right thing. I know you're going to vote opposed to this thing. That's the Conservatives.
The Liberals, on the other hand, I don't know what they're going to do either. They've been a bunch of Humpty Dumptys on this issue: They sit on the fence; they sit on the wall; one day their shell will crack and it'll be over for them as well.
I'd like to know how Mr Cordiano -- I notice that my friend from Downsview has got a smile on his face -- we know how Mr Cordiano perhaps is going to vote. I'm looking forward to seeing exactly how the member for Lawrence is going to vote on this, because I know what his community is thinking.
Ms Dianne Poole (Eglinton): I am very pleased to enter into this debate on Bill 38. I found quite amusing the comments of the member for Yorkview, who just said the Liberals are like Humpty Dumpty. The Liberals have been the only ones in this place who have been consistent over many years as to whether we support Sunday shopping.
Ms Poole: I'm going to tell you, because there were accusations flying on the other side of the House that Liberals won't tell you where they stand, that I support Sunday shopping. I supported it in 1987; I supported it in 1990; I supported it in 1993. I've supported it consistently throughout, and I'm going to tell you why.
Mr Stockwell: You supported local option, Dianne. Don't tell us you supported Sunday shopping. You supported local option. That wasn't Sunday shopping. I was on Metro council. Don't tell people you supported Sunday shopping.
To go back to the issue of Sunday shopping, the member for Etobicoke West seems to think that because I voted for local option, that means I voted against Sunday shopping. That is totally erroneous. In fact, the polling in Metro was very clear that the majority of people in Metro felt we should have Sunday shopping. I supported that viewpoint and I have for many years.
But I am going to support this bill. As much as it pains me to support anything the NDP introduces, I will support this legislation. I will not support the position of the NDP, which has waffled, gone back and forth, consistently, but I will support and I will vote for Bill 38.
Some members of this Legislature seem to think that Sunday shopping is a new issue. In fact, regulation of Sunday activity is not a new problem; it's been with us for well over a century. Controlling Sunday activity, telling people what they can do on Sunday, when they can do it and how they can do it, has been the subject of public discussion since the 1800s.
Our attitudes have changed and evolved since then; in fact, when we look at some of the arguments used in the 1800s, we find cause for surprise if not outright amusement. For instance, look at transportation in the late 1800s. Sunday excursions by rail and steamboats were actually banned. Large numbers of working class families had no means of leaving their immediate neighbourhoods either to pursue leisure time or to go to church. Those are activities -- being able to take the transportation routes -- that today we take for granted, but in the 1800s those were not a reality and people said no to transportation on Sunday. Incredibly, in 1886, which is just a little over 100 years ago, one man was arrested in Toronto for using his horse and buggy as a taxi to transport people to and from church. It wasn't until after some 20 years of debate that the residents of this city finally had access to streetcar services on Sunday.
I'd like to move a little closer to 1993. Some 20 or 30 years ago, I think some members in this Legislature will remember times when the swings in the playgrounds were locked up and closed on Sundays. Children were not allowed to use them. It used to be illegal to operate wading pools. There are cases of police actually raiding playgrounds to confiscate bats and balls of children because games and amusements were prohibited on Sunday. It wasn't that long ago that if you walked down Queen Street on a Sunday they actually had curtains drawn across so you couldn't even window-shop.
That's only 25 to 30 years ago, but we have changed since then. Even if you look at 1950, the issue of professional sports, the big issue of the day in the early 1950s, when there was a Conservative government under Premier Leslie Frost, was whether municipalities should be given the option -- I hope the Conservatives note that particular word -- of allowing professional sports to be played between 1:30 and 6 pm. Opponents of the Frost government's bill predicted dire consequences if the bill were passed: The fabric of our society would be ripped asunder, our children would be corrupted and there would be more people in mental hospitals. This is 1950, sports fans. Today, Sunday sports are an integral part of our lives. I will ask the honourable members of this House, does anybody here think I'm corrupting my son or my daughter by taking them to a Blue Jays game on Sunday? Surely not. I think that shows how much we have evolved.
If you move forward to 1961, Ontario municipalities were given the option of allowing Sunday movies and concerts. One prominent opponent at the time, if you can believe it, said that this would "hasten the spread of communism." Was he right in his claim when he said that if Sunday movies were allowed, "You soon wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Toronto and Moscow"?
Changes continued to come. In 1967, alcohol was allowed with meals, heaven forbid. In 1968, there came Sunday afternoon horse racing, Sunday trade shows, Sunday exhibitions, Sunday fairs. Again, each of these changes brought controversy, but at the same time each reflected the growing diversity of our province, and today there are few who would argue with being able to be involved in these activities.
While controversy about Sunday shopping isn't new, our province has evolved significantly from those days. I don't think the arguments of the opponents of Sunday shopping are particularly original. They want to return to an Ontario which I believe simply does not exist any more: We're no longer a predominantly Anglo-Saxon society; most of us live in urban areas; most women work outside the home. Society has changed enormously.
One reason I have always been a strong supporter of Sunday shopping, notwithstanding the erroneous information given by the member for Etobicoke West, is that I believe that Sunday shopping is a feminist issue. I know some members may find that somewhat surprising, but in February this year I found an article in the newspaper which espoused the same view. It was by Eve Drobot, an article in the Globe and Mail in February. I'll just take some excerpts from it.
"Let's face it: 30 years of the feminist movement and women still do most of the shopping." I don't know if that's true for all the members of this House, but I'm sure it would be true of a substantial number. "The politicians babble about closing stores on Sundays to preserve the family, but they don't seem to realize that for most women having only one sanctioned full day to run errands puts more pressure on the family. Trying to work, spend time with kids and not run out of toilet paper has most women constantly frazzled."
Believe me, in our family I constantly face that particular dilemma. I buy toilet paper in vast quantities. I have it stacked along the stairs to my basement, because it is so frazzling when you're trying to not miss a vote, speak in the House, run to a community meeting and then get home and your kids tell you, "Mom, there's no toilet paper."
Ms Poole: I'll ignore that unkind intervention and continue with a quote from this article called Sunday Shopping: A Feminist Issue. "Sure, many stores are open on Thursday evenings, but anybody with a job and a family will tell you that after working all day, dashing to pick the kids up from day care and throwing something edible on the dinner table, you're less than inclined to saunter over to the local mall, even if you're clean out of underwear. 'The ability to shop on a Sunday would add some choice to my week,' said one woman. 'It would give me a degree of control in my life, which is always on the edge of being out of control.'"
Yes, I believe Sunday shopping is a feminist issue. If you look at the number of women in the workforce, the statistics very clearly show that there are far more women in the workforce than ever before. In 1991, 60.5% of all women over 15 were in the labour force. If you look at the statistics of women with children, 63% of mothers with children less than age 16 were employed in 1991 versus 50% in 1981.
The family has changed. Many more women are now working outside the home and find it terribly difficult and inconvenient to try to cram all our errands into that one day of the week. Because we as women quite often are the ones who end up with juggling work and family responsibilities, it is sometimes a godsend to have that extra day when we can do some of the errands we have to do.
One of the arguments against Sunday shopping has been the harm to family life. I was really quite fascinated to hear Mr Cousens, the member for Markham, talk about how he was supporting this bill, because I happen to have saved some of my old clippings from June 1988, the last time we debated Sunday shopping, and I was quite surprised to see that Mr Cousens had a completely different viewpoint at that time.
"I am as convinced now as I ever was that this government" -- a Liberal government, of course -- "is absolutely wrong to be bringing in these changes which will affect the future of Ontario by opening up Sundays wide open for shopping and work and will change the fabric and the family life of this province in a way I strongly oppose. It is undermining the family; it is undermining the home; it is undermining the values that make this province strong."
"I want to keep a pause day. I want to bring my family around me on those days and so do many other people. I don't want to be forced into not being together with my family and my loved ones because some of them are out working and some of them are now distracted with other things. I think it is good if you can shut the door to some of those opportunities."
"We are talking about a piece of legislation" -- that was the local option brought forward by the Liberals -- "that touches upon the very dynamics of what our communities are all about. It touches upon what we really want for our province and for our people -- a chance to get together with their families in their homes and with their people; a chance to take time off, a chance to rest, a time to grow, a time to read, a time to swim, a time to recreate themselves. By just keeping the old clock moving as far as work is concerned, many people aren't going to have that opportunity."
Mr Cousens's view in the Conservative caucus was shared by many others. I don't know where they stand now, but I can tell you where Mrs Marland, the member for Mississauga South, stood at that time. She said:
"The quality of life for families will be impaired. People are more than simply economic entities and their needs are complex. Increased economic activity will wreak more havoc and do more harm than good in this sense."
"Comment is appropriate in respect to the legislation on Sunday shopping, and that is that supporters, when we take a look at the bigger social picture, have as their goal to reshape what we in this province are into something we are not. They repudiate virtually all of the values out of which this country has emerged. They debunk our religion and undermine our families. I am proud to be part of a party that is opposing that legislation."
"I'm certainly pleased on behalf of the opposition parties in the House to debate a bill that will go down in history in this province as a bill that we think will change the way of life and the quality of life for families in Ontario in a way that has never happened before. It is one that will impact on families and on the way we live in this province in a way that we will not be proud of. Considering that for hundreds of years Sunday has been a family day or a day of rest and relaxation, the Progressive Conservative Party supports this committee against open Sunday shopping and the principle of a continued pause day for the good of families and maintenance of the quality of life in Ontario."
I'm sorry, but I think that's all a bunch of nonsense. We have now had open Sunday shopping in this province for a year. Families have not been destroyed. Families have not disintegrated. People have not stopped going to church. People have not stopped spending time together. In fact, I submit to you that it's precisely the opposite.
I really enjoy having an opportunity to go out shopping for clothes with my daughter on a Sunday afternoon. Quite frankly, it's the only time I usually get, because I'm busy with community activities on Saturday. I think Sunday shopping can be a family activity as much as anything else one does on Sunday, whether it be going to the Blue Jays, whether it be going to church, whatever Sunday activity you wish to engage in.
I'd like to turn your attention back to almost five years ago to the day, June 8, 1988, when I spoke in this Legislature on Sunday shopping. I was particularly concerned with a number of the comments made by members of the Conservative Party and the NDP about what the impact was going to be on family life. This is what I had to say at that time, and I'll repeat just a very small portion of it. It was referring to comments at this stage by the member for Welland-Thorold, who I think was in the House a bit earlier:
"As he raises the spectre of family life disappearing in this province because of this legislation, I just say to him it is nonsense. Families who wish to worship on Sunday will continue to do so. Families who wish to spend time together will continue to do so. I just say the family is a very resilient institution. Its fate will never hinge on a single act of this Parliament. I think it is presumptuous for us as legislators to think that we have the power to make or break the family. The family has existed through the centuries. It has weathered war and famine, dramatic changes in values and traditions, upheavals and criticism. It has survived intact. It will not suddenly vanish because a store is open on Sunday. I firmly believe that, and that is why I am supporting this legislation. It does not impugn the integrity of the family. As the Premier said in this House not too long ago, family life simply cannot be legislated."
So, contrary to what the member for Etobicoke West has said, the record very clearly shows that I have been a supporter of Sunday shopping in this province. I have been a supporter of the local option, because I think the local option gave municipalities an opportunity to decide for themselves what was best for their community. And why does that mean I was opposed to Sunday shopping? It's nonsense, utter nonsense.
I'd like to share a few quotes on local option. If you'd entered into the debate in this Legislature back in 1988, you would have thought that all the Conservatives and all the NDP were totally opposed to Sunday shopping. You would also have thought they were totally opposed to local option because the local option was going to end up with a domino effect and municipalities would fall like dominoes. They would all have Sunday shopping once one did.
Yet there was major support for the local option. The Toronto Sunday Sun, which isn't always known for its support of the Liberals, whether in government or opposition, said: "The local-option approach recognizes that the same lifestyle does not apply uniformly across this province."
"As a society, we want retail shops to be open at more convenient times, and the Sunday closing law interferes with that impulse. Many people enjoy the chance to be with their family on Sunday, but they also enjoy shopping with their family on Sunday, shopping in today's society having become a popular form of family recreation.
"They might also enjoy the variety that Sunday shopping would offer, changing the common pattern for so many families, in which Saturday is a rush day from store to store and Sunday a pause day. It would give us more control over our lives."
"'Current store hours regulation should be loosened to meet local wishes,' says Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry MPP Noble Villeneuve. 'We should have the choice to shop if we desire, and designated stores should have no privilege over another.'"
Mr Speaker, I agreed with you then, even though at that time you weren't Mr Speaker, and I agree with you now, and I'm really happy to see that there is at least one Conservative who at the time was consistent, stood up and said he supported the option of shopping on Sunday.
There are more issues from the London Free Press, the Oshawa Times, the Toronto Star, the Grimsby Independent. They go on and on. There were many, many papers and individuals and groups that supported Sunday shopping.
But it all got overridden by a very, very -- I'm trying to think of a polite word for it, other than "obstreperous," but it was an obstreperous opposition who said the Liberals' local option wouldn't work. I think it was very clear it would have worked, and I find it kind of ironic that the Conservatives were so opposed to local option, because in 1950, when they were opening up the rules for sports, as I previously referred to, this is the comment of Premier Leslie Frost which he made in the Legislature:
"The matter is placed in the hands of the people themselves and under absolute control of their elected municipal councils. There is nothing wide open about this act. It does nothing to induce a community to change its pattern of life."
It has made life more convenient. It has helped out a bit with youth unemployment, which is certainly fortunate, given the terrible state of our youth unemployment these days. It has provided a partial answer to cross-border shopping. The irony is, when I look around my community of Eglinton, half the stores are open and half are not. Store owners have exercised their local option, their choice to be open, and their choice to be open was dictated by the demands of the marketplace, by the owners' personal beliefs, by other factors, but that choice was there and still a substantial number of stores in my area are open on Sunday.
There's no doubt that there are impacts and that some of those impacts are negative. I am particularly sympathetic to the plight of the corner store owners. I think they have been harmed by Sunday shopping in that now, with the big grocery stores open, people are less likely to whip up to the corner store to serve their needs. But I think there's an answer for that. I believe this government should open up the whole issue of beer and wine in corner stores. I think that's an issue that I supported at the time it was introduced by the Liberal government and was voted down by the Conservatives and NDP. I supported it then; I support it now.
There has been no information to show that jurisdictions which have it have had widespread abuse. Enforcement can be taken care of through rules and regulations. As my friend from Prescott and Russell said to me one day, "When talking about beer and wine in corner stores, people constantly confuse the issues of consumption, availability and abuse -- three very different issues," and he's absolutely right. That would be something this government could do as initiative to help those small corner stores and help them survive these very perilous times.
I would like to point out that in my riding of Eglinton Sunday shopping, after it has been put into effect, is widely supported. I did a survey a year ago and I asked my constituents two questions relating to Sunday shopping. I asked them others, but I'll refer specifically to the Sunday shopping ones.
My summer student, Bart Nickerson, did some really neat little graphs for my householder on it, and we asked the question, "Do you feel stores should be able to open every Sunday if they want to?" and 72 % of the Eglinton residents who responded said yes in response to this question: 1,220 respondents said yes; 429 said no; and 52 said they were undecided. That is a significant majority in my riding that wanted Sunday shopping, and I feel that I have reflected their views both when I was in government and now that I am in opposition.
But one thing that really concerns me about where we are today is the waffling of the NDP and the process it has gone through. When they were in opposition they were totally opposed to Sunday shopping; common pause day was the theme. "Family life would disintegrate with Sunday shopping," they said. "We have to protect the rights of the workers. We have to strengthen the family and community life. We have to protect the rights of business and the workers." That was their theme.
In fact, in November 1990 in the speech from the throne they reiterated that theme. Then in June 1991 the NDP government introduced Bill 115, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act. What this did was amend the Liberal legislation to prohibit Sunday shopping for most retail businesses. It seems that every June the NDP gets a bug about Sunday shopping. In June 1991 they introduced Bill 115 which said we don't want Sunday shopping. Then in June 1992 they introduced Bill 38 which permitted retail stores to open for business on Sunday. But in the meantime there was mass chaos. In fact, what they've done is put this province on hold for a full year. That is unconscionable.
People don't know if what this government has mandated for the last year, which is that you can shop on Sunday -- it's wide-open shopping on Sunday, even though there's no law in place to enforce it -- people don't know whether this legislation is actually going to pass now, and here we are a year later, another June, three Junes in a row -- like I say, June seems to bring out the Sunday shopping bug in the NDP -- and we don't know whether the legislation is going to pass. They have badly mismanaged this issue.
The legislation they introduced in June 1991 was complex, it was bureaucratic and it discriminated by being based on a set of tourism criteria which discriminated against retailers on the basis of size, geographic location and type of clientele. Not only that; in their legislation in June 1991 they established a very unwieldy application process which would result in the establishment of a costly local bureaucracy and endless appeals to the OMB at a time when the OMB was badly backlogged and we could least afford it.
I can understand why the NDP backed down, but surely it's time that the people of this province had a right to expect some consistency from their government. This government, this NDP government has time and time again reneged on its promises, changed its mind, backed down, gone to retroactive legislation. Again that's the case with the new legislation they introduced in June 1992, a full year ago. It's retroactive, so they said people can go out and shop. Because it's retroactive, therefore it doesn't matter whether the members of this Legislature have passed it. It doesn't matter if it's the law of the land. Welcome to chaos management, and this is something the NDP excels in.
This is a government in chaos, and this is illustrated by how it has handled Sunday shopping. First, they say they're opposed to it in opposition, then they say they're opposed to it in government, then they bring in a bureaucratic, complex piece of legislation that everybody objected to. Then, in the middle of dealing with this legislation, in the middle of public hearings, they cancel the public hearings without saying why. Then, many months later, again they reverse their decision and say, "Well, we're going to have it wide open."
But they didn't have the guts to bring that legislation forward so we could debate it in this House. In fact they still don't have the guts to follow through, and we don't know as of this moment in time whether this legislation is going to pass. They have perpetrated a giant hoax, and if this legislation fails, I put it back on the heads of the NDP that has badly bungled this issue as it has every other one that it has faced.
I am going to support this legislation even though the government that introduced it is irresponsible, even though I believe that the process which it has used is totally indefensible and even though this is a government in chaos, because I believe that Sunday shopping opens up options and choices for people.
We have put in place measures to ensure that workers are protected, which was an important consideration. We have seen in the last year that there has been no dramatic impact. If they would help out the corner stores, then that would be the one step they could take to make sure that the impact of Sunday shopping was all positive across the way.
They wrote a very interesting piece of legislation when they dealt with Sunday shopping. That piece of legislation allowed two things to happen: It allowed those who are in favour of Sunday shopping, such as the member for Eglinton, to stand before her constituents and say categorically without debate, "I am in favour of Sunday shopping and I support it in the Legislature." But the member who was opposed to Sunday shopping took that same piece of legislation, went back to his constituents or her constituents and stood before them and said, "I'm opposed to Sunday shopping and I supported this piece of legislation because I'm opposed to Sunday shopping."
In true Liberal form, they were both right. Why were they both right? Because in true Liberal form -- I've grown accustomed to it over the years -- "Which way is the wind blowing? We just lick the finger and test." Which way is the wind blowing? Well, they measured it this way. They said, "We're so in favour, we're so committed, we're so behind Sunday shopping," and allowed Dianne Poole from Eglinton to stand up and defend it, "that we will say this without debate: Someone else should decide."
That's what the Liberals did. They said, "Let the municipalities decide. We'll let Peel decide and Durham decide and Metro decide." Their decision would be whether or not to allow their stores to open on Sunday. We called that the domino legislation, because if Peel opened, Metro opened, Durham opened, York opened, and these poor souls sitting in opposition today never had to accept responsibility for anything, in true unbiased Liberal fashion.
So I'm sick and tired of hearing members opposite me on this side of the House tell me how informed, how fairminded and how solid they were behind Sunday shopping. You were behind nothing. You were only behind letting someone else do the dirty work, make your decisions, and you sold out, mucked out and gave up.
Mr Perruzza: I'd be remiss to let this opportunity go by as well because, I have to tell you that I was on municipal council when the Liberals decided, not to decide whether they were going to open or close stores on Sundays, but rather that somebody else, somewhere else, should make the decision. I can't help but, I guess, reiterate a lot of the things that my good friend from Etobicoke West said with respect to the support for the local option, as many Liberals will call it.
I guess it will be really interesting to see, when we come down to a vote, how Liberals will actually vote on the legislation that's before us. I suspect that at some point, some of them will have to walk into this chamber and vote. I don't expect all of them to be here, because some of them will still want to duck the issue in the same way they essentially ducked it the first time they had a go-around on this, but some of them will walk into this place, and some of them will support the bill and some of them will vote against the bill. For the first time, we will know, their parishes will know, their shoppers will know, their small convenience stores will know, their big malls will know in their ridings how they actually sit with this legislation, with Sunday shopping, and the member for Eglinton will get to vote.
But the decision they took in their mandate, the Peterson government, the local option in saying, "Well, Metro's going to have a rule, but Vaughan is going to have another rule" -- so the little mom-and-pop shop south of Steeles had one advantage, the little mom-and-pop shop across the street, but 15 or 20 yards away they were operating under different rules. If that's the Liberal answer and if that was the Liberal solution, I can understand why they're in opposition today.
M. Jean Poirier (Prescott et Russell) : Premièrement, je me lève pour féliciter ma collègue d'Eglinton pour sa présentation. Mais je voulais dire aussi à mon collègue d'Etobicoke-Ouest et à mon collègue de Downsview que c'était quand même assez intéressant de voir ou d'essayer de comprendre leur position. Ni l'un ni l'autre était là présentement, mais pour mon collègue de Downsview, je voulais lui rappeler, quoiqu'il soit bien certain, que je serai ici pour voter et que je vais voter en faveur du projet de loi 38. Donc, il y en a un au moins qui ne se cachera pas pour aller voter pour cette loi-là. En ce qui a trait aux autres, ils prendront bien leur responsabilité.
Mais ma collègue d'Eglinton a très bien présenté la chose, et au moment où les Libéraux avaient présenté leur loi, je crois que ça représentait fidèlement l'opinion que l'on pouvait trouver à l'échelle de la province, c'est-à-dire la grande variété d'opinions, soit des régions rurales, qui étaient fortement contre le magasinage le dimanche, soit des régions très urbaines comme celle représentée par la circonscription d'Eglinton, où les gens étaient très fortement en faveur du magasinage le dimanche.
Donc, à ce moment-là, la loi libérale représentait fidèlement le point de vue de l'Ontario qui, comme vous le savez très bien, peut être très varié d'un coin à l'autre de la province. Trouver une loi consistante pour dire que tous les Ontariens et les Ontariennes vont embarquer à 100 % derrière telle ou telle loi, j'attends toujours la journée où nous pourrons voir ça en Ontario. Que l'on parle du magasinage le dimanche, de l'agriculture, de l'environnement ou de l'éducation, peu importe.
Tout ça pour dire que j'ai trouvé la présentation de ma collègue d'Eglinton très intéressante ; je la félicite. Ses notes historiques ont été très fidèles à ce qui s'est passé dans le temps. Je me rappelle les Conservateurs qui avaient un projet de loi qui avait autant de trous dedans qu'un fromage suisse, un fromage emmenthal. On l'a corrigé. Et maintenant, justement, les NPD, qui changent d'opinion comme ils changent de sous-vêtements, finalement on a une position du NPD.
Mr Allan K. McLean (Simcoe East): I'm pleased to make a few comments with regard to the presentation made by the member for Eglinton. I've been following Sunday shopping for some 20 years or better. There has been a lot of discussion. There are really a lot of people who are opposed to Sunday shopping. There are a lot of people in favour of it.
But I wanted to expand a little on the remarks made by the member with regard to beer and wine in the corner stores, because I remember an election in about 1985 where the Premier at that time had indicated that this is what we should have, beer and wine in the corner stores. It certainly raised the issue. There were a lot of people who supported the government at that time with regard to that very issue. It comes along after that issue is over and they bring in the local option, which really no municipality wanted. Nor did the municipalities support it.
I spoke in this Legislature back on June 3 with regard to Sunday shopping. I raised the issues that pertain to my riding with the people and what they were expressing to me. I read letters with regard to people who were in favour and I read letters with regard to the people who were opposed to it.
It was interesting. I talked about the people from Gingersnap Junction, who had talked to me with regard to Sunday shopping. Some people don't know where Gingersnap Junction is, but I'm going to tell you. It's in the riding of Simcoe East. There's a little village called Elmvale and it is about eight kilometres west of Elmvale on Highway 92, just before you get to Wasaga Beach. It is now known as Langman Corners. Those people have raised the issue. There are a lot of people opposed to Sunday shopping in rural Ontario.
I found it equally entertaining to listen to the histrionics of the member for Etobicoke West. In fact, I always find him quite entertaining, and quite comical at times. But I found it actually quite humorous that he, who was a municipal councillor who was constantly saying to the province, "Let us decide things locally," wanted to toss this hot potato back. He was saying that in true Liberal form we said, "Let somebody else decide."
Who we said should decide are the communities themselves, so if the people from Gingersnap Junction chose not to have Sunday shopping, that was their right. But if the people of north Toronto and the people of Toronto want Sunday shopping, surely that should be our right as well. The member for Etobicoke West talked about the rolling domino theory. That's been proven to be nonsense. It really is quite amusing when you hear some of the Conservatives, with due respect and excepting you of course, Mr Speaker, try to switch sides or adjust their thinking and blame it all on the Liberals.
The member for Downsview -- I'm sorry he has left; he was here until just a moment ago -- said the Liberals are trying to duck the issue. Look at our speaking list on Sunday shopping. You will find that the Liberals are certainly the last ones to want to duck this issue. We want to talk about it. We want to vote on it. Our leader has said we will have a free vote and every member of this caucus will have an opportunity to stand up and be counted. I would be proud to support this legislation.
Mr Ted Arnott (Wellington): I am very pleased tonight to rise and speak with respect to Bill 38, an Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping, which received first reading in this House about a year ago.
Because of the amendments set out in section 1 of the bill, section 4.4 of the act which relates to Sunday openings in December is unnecessary. Accordingly, it is repealed. It's a very simple bill, just literally one page, and it's very clear what this bill does: It allows wide-open Sunday shopping in Ontario.
Our leader, Mike Harris, has consistently taken the position that wide-open Sunday shopping should be allowed. I've had a different position, and I respect the fact that our leader has consistently said to us in this Progressive Conservative caucus that we are free to represent the views of the people who sent us here. I respect that very, very much from our leader.
"During the 1987 election campaign, David Peterson denied that he intended to change the provincial Sunday closing law. Soon after his landslide victory, however, his government introduced legislation to give municipalities the responsibility for regulating Sunday shopping." In other words, the local option.
"Many groups opposed this change, including municipal, church, labour and small business organizations. The Ontario PC caucus at the time predicted that the new law would eventually lead to wide-open Sunday shopping.
At that time, in August 1990 in Ontario, there was no law prohibiting stores from opening Sundays, so as the Conservative caucus of the time stated, the local option law eventually led to wide-open Sunday shopping.
There has been a lot of confusion with respect to this issue. There's been a lot of flip-flopping among various parties, and the government has had a difficult time with it. The Liberal government between 1987 and 1990 had a very difficult time with this issue.
This issue is filled with emotion with many people because it's relating to values. People feel very strongly one way or the other whether or not stores should be allowed to be open on Sunday and whether or not stores need to be open on Sunday.
One of the things that concerns me most about this particular bill is its retroactivity. It was designated to come into effect the date of first reading. In other words, the government ceased and stopped issuing any citations against stores that opened Sundays; it stopped enforcing the law. This bill has not passed into law, yet for the past year, stores have been open. It indicates, I believe, the government's contempt for the Legislature when it continues to bring in these retroactive bills. They're saying that they don't care about the debate in this House; they don't care about the views of the members. In other words, they have contempt for the people who sent us here. This has happened repeatedly over the past three years and it concerns me greatly. It distresses me greatly.
"Canadians should stop paying attention to self-serving newspaper polls on Sunday shopping. Ask questions, such as, 'Would you like to work on Sundays while others go to the beach or the cottage?' and the results would be spectacularly against open Sundays.
"The polls, and those who support them, are appealing to the worst aspects of consumerism. Instead of being guided by a comprehensive view of the needs of the worker as a human being, including his spiritual and mental needs, consumerism appeals to the baser instincts and self-interests of the general consumer to help override permanently his rights and needs in order to satisfy a few short-term benefits.
"Sunday shopping will destroy much and accomplish little. It will not halt cross-border shopping, which has to be settled, if it is to be settled at all, by other means, such as a lower Canadian dollar, border taxes and fees for shopping via the mail. It will not put the balance sheets of Sears Canada and the Bay in the black despite their outrageous claims that it will. Their own financial statements show 40 years of annual profits without Sunday trade. Finally, it will not bring greater prosperity. A dollar spent over seven days won't stretch any further than one spent over six.
"What Sunday shopping will do, however, is bring higher prices. Salaries, heat, electricity and insurance will have to be covered. When Alberta adopted it, under pressure from the Ghermezian brothers of the West Edmonton Mall in 1983, prices rose by 15%. Today, the world's biggest mall is one-fifth empty and the Ghermezians are busy elsewhere.
"It will also mean clogged roads seven days a week instead of six. Delivery trucks, moving vans, milk and gasoline tankers and service vehicles of all types will be on the road, as on any other day, together with the workers. Its environmental effect on large cities will be more smog and more pollution, this time without a break of even one day a week.
"Instead of bringing prosperity, the effect of Sunday shopping will be increased misery, especially for families. Small businessmen without replacement staff will be forced to remain open seven days a week. Employees of the large chains will be compelled to work on penalty of being fired. Legislation cannot protect them because an employer or supervisor has many ways of making life miserable for an unwilling employee.
"Children will need more day care; many families will not have sufficient time together; single parents will be under even greater stress than before. And many full-time employees will be replaced by part-time workers for whom the employer will not have to pay social benefits and who can be fired or hired at will.
"It took 120 years, from the 1830s till the 1950s, before the western world as a whole allowed fair wages, Sundays off and a shorter work week. Often the battle took place against bitter opposition. We must not now allow greed to triumph again and take away those hard-gained freedoms, alienating people from society and one another through false and superficial gratifications."
I've read that entire editorial because I think it's a very, very important part of this debate. I know it was sent to all members of this House in June 1992. All of the predictions in this editorial have not come true, I will grant. However, some of them have and, without question, there are many families right now who, because of wide-open Sunday shopping, do not have a common pause day, and I think that families across this province have lost as a whole because of that change.
I've consulted widely with my constituents on this issue. I continue to hear from them on this issue, although it's not quite as topical an issue right now as it was in 1990. I've taken the opportunity to send out a questionnaire to my constituents. It's a fairly extensive, eight-page questionnaire and one of the questions is on Sunday shopping. I'm starting to get the responses back in, but I've unfortunately not had time to tabulate them all and they're still coming in, but I hope that that will give me an up-to-date impression of what the opinion is of people of my riding, or the majority who filled that out, on Sunday shopping.
But I spoke to Mayor Jim Gibbons of the town of Fergus, and Jim is also remarkable in that he owns the Canadian Tire store in Fergus. I asked his advice on this bill and he said to me: "If I'm open on Sundays, I need staff. I need staff." It's a very, very simple statement, but of course he needs staff. He needs staff to service his customers, and for the government to indicate, 'Oh, no, don't worry. People won't have to work. We'll give them protection and they won't have to work,' frankly, there's no protection that is going to be adequate to ensure that people do not have to work on Sundays.
I've said enough on this bill. I don't want to take the full half-hour, but as I say, I still feel that families in this province have lost something because of wide-open Sunday shopping and I continue to believe that. The world has not come to an end; the sun still comes up in the morning, but nevertheless families have lost something because of wide-open Sunday shopping.
Mr Kormos: Very briefly, because that's the short period of time allowed, I want to thank the most recent speaker for his comments. I think what's interesting is that we see what people from the real Ontario have to say about these sorts of issues as compared to -- no, I understand that Yonge and Bloor is part of Ontario, but too often what happens here at this Legislature is that Yonge and Bloor, in the minds of so many members of this assembly, becomes all of Ontario.
We've just listened to a representative from a part of Ontario which represents the hardworking people in small communities. He speaks about family values, and I say to you why I am confident that he is far more representative of most Ontarians than those who would want to secularize Sundays, those who would want to turn it into yet another day of the week, those who would want to attack Sunday as a special day for church and family and community and yes, for workers.
I will be pleased, later this evening, to join in this debate and in fact speak as best I can, in the short period that's allowed, on behalf of the folks in Welland and Thorold about the sorts of things that are important to them, because they too, unlike the folks and the good people who live at Yonge and Bloor, they are far, I tell you, far more representative of the real Ontario than what we see when we look out the windows of this Legislative Assembly.
You know, one of the problems of working here is that when you look out the windows, I don't care whether you're looking east, west, north or south; you don't see any farmers' fields, you don't see any small communities, you don't see any working people at their tasks. Why, you don't even see the unemployed, because it's somehow unseemly for them to be permitted to gather around Queen's Park.
Mr McLean: I want to compliment the member for Wellington on his remarks tonight with regard to Bill 38. This member for Wellington is following in the footsteps of his predecessor, as a gentleman and a man who always gives. His remarks are positive.
I know the problem that he's having with regard to Sunday shopping, because I am from rural Ontario too. I have small-town Ontario and the city, and there is a division of thought within that community. I've had letters from people who are 85 years old who believe that Sunday shopping is the right thing. They want to have open Sunday shopping. I've had letters from young people who want Sunday shopping not to happen.
There is a great concern across this province with regard to this very issue and it's not an easy issue to deal with, as we have heard from the member for Wellington. I think he said it very clearly and very plainly with regard to the concerns that are in his constituency.
I had the opportunity to travel part of the province when we were dealing with this in committee. I remember being in Windsor, and we had mostly trade unions that came before the committee. Most of those people were definitely opposed to Sunday shopping. They wanted a common pause day and they did not want the legislation to be effected.
I was there and I heard the remarks that were brought forward. I remember the Premier of this province saying that Sunday shopping was not an issue in this election; he wanted stores closed. Since he's been Premier, he has totally changed his tune.
Mr Mammoliti: Being very specific to one point that the member for Wellington brought up, which was of course the protection of workers, I agree with him wholeheartedly. I don't believe that the mechanism is in the piece of legislation that we're all looking forward to seeing, even though some of us didn't want to see a piece of legislation come forward.
Where is the protection for not only the part-time workers that might work on a Sunday, those kids that you're talking about, but for the full-time workers? I'd like to ask the member for Wellington whether or not he's heard in his community, as I have in mine, that employers have literally laid full-time employees off and have replaced them with part-time workers so that they can take advantage of the hours on Sundays. I think that we need to look at this issue as well. I know that's been happening, and I know that's been happening frequently in some of the big-time franchises in Metro. I can't speak for the member's riding, but I know it's been happening here. So that's a question I'd like to ask the member. Has that been happening in your riding? I know it has in mine.
I don't see any protection for those full-time workers either in this piece of legislation. I think that the full-time workers have suffered over the last year and that, as I've said, the part-time workers on Sundays have suffered as well, because they're being forced to work. So on one hand, you've got full-time employees during the week even being laid off, being replaced with part-time workers; part-time workers not being properly addressed in terms of protection in the legislation. Where is this? We need to address it.
Ms Sharon Murdock (Sudbury): My riding, before this legislation was put forward, made it quite clear to me that they did not want Sunday shopping in the riding. I personally also felt the same way, so it was really easy to be the representative of that. Then, when we put everything on hold, I have since been struck by the silence in my riding. I only have had basically one of the major retailers come to me and ask me to support it.
I guess my own feeling and sense is that I still am opposed to people having to work on Sundays. I agree with the member for Wellington on that whole issue, that something has been taken away from the family. However, I would ask the member how he would respond to the fact that if this legislation does not pass in this House, then we are left again with the situation that we had before, which everyone in this House has agreed is totally unacceptable. We would then go back to the law that existed prior. I would ask the member to address that issue. I'd be interested in hearing his comments.
Mr Arnott: I would like to thank the member for Welland-Thorold for his kind comments in response to my speech. I must say that the respect I have for him has grown in the last two years. Despite the fact that I disagree with many of the views that he brings to this Legislature, he continues to take stands based on principle, and that is inspiring, I think, to all members of this Legislature.
The member for Simcoe East was extremely kind, and I appreciate his kind comments as well, and I'd like to return them. He had a number of years of municipal experience in his résumé prior to coming to Queen's Park, and since 1981 he has represented his constituents very, very well. I know he endeavours as best he can to represent the views of his constituents, and I think that's very, very important as well.
The member for Yorkview has asked a question, I believe, if I heard him correctly: Am I aware of situations in the riding of Wellington where employers have laid off full-time staff to replace with part-time staff that would be working on Sundays? My answer to him would be no, I'm not aware of any situations in Wellington, although I'm not 100% sure that hasn't happened, although I assume that he has indicated that has happened in his riding.
The member for Sudbury's question, which was that she inquired what I thought the government should do instead of bringing forward this bill and did I think that the former law was unacceptable: As a matter of fact, I thought the former law was good. It allowed for local tourist exemptions. I think that was a good law, and this is what I have always stated. I think that was probably the best way to handle the issue, not allowing wide-open Sunday shopping, but in certain areas that were entirely dependent on the needs of the tourism industry to be allowed to open Sundays.
Mr Hope: -- "Farmers' Right to Decide." Oh, that's a different piece of legislation. That's dealing with the unionization of farmers, so I'll leave that one for a little later, which I'd like to get into.
The other one which I'd like to talk about is a little different here. It's about Sunday shopping. I remember when the Liberals tried doing what they were doing and the effects it had on the workers and workplaces where they were given the municipal option and the debates that took place around that issue, the chaos that was created. I was president of the labour council at the time. I travelled to all the municipalities, made deputations, because in rural Ontario you're not just dealing with one municipality like you are in one big centre.
Before I start off, I'm going to lay out my personal views. I believe that there ought to be an opportunity for family values during Sundays. I firmly supported that before I was even elected. When I worked in a workplace and negotiated collective agreements, we had a slogan that was called "Ask Me, Don't Tell Me."
People wanted the right to choose whether to work Saturdays or Sundays. They wanted that option available to them because they wanted the availability. If they had an extra bill that came into the family, they were able to work and able to have the extra money to pay for the bill, whether it be car insurance or other insurance as it came due for the house, or whether it be just to buy a new pair of skates for the boy who was going to play hockey, or the girl who was going to play hockey. It was very important for the option to be there for the individual to work for the extra money that might be there.
In the town of Wallaceburg, the municipality held a vote on it. The people there who voted were in favour of Sunday shopping. It's a boater community in the summertime. A lot of people from the States come across and come over to the community. A lot of the businesses and a lot of the people who work there -- because not only businesses vote in municipal elections, but people, residents of that community -- thought it was important for the prosperity of that community.
This has now been in place for a while. I still have the opportunity to travel, as I'm travelling between events on Sunday, as some of us do still have to work on Sunday. When I travel to events, I still notice that a lot of people are shopping. It's their option and their choice. I have not heard major confrontation from workers about this issue.
As I started to make sure that I could reflect the views as a member of this Legislature on behalf of my constituents, I have had to set my personal feelings aside and reflect those of my community. If I look at the town of Wallaceburg, Wallaceburg says they are in favour through a municipal election process. If I look in the city of Chatham, during the summertime, again we have American boaters who travel up the river to visit our area. Also we have a number of tours that go on because we are the black central community in our area with the underground railroad, and a lot of Americans do come over. But that community in the city of Chatham where they stay overnight is not a tourist area, but Dresden, which is about 15 to 20 minutes away from the city of Chatham, has that tourist attraction.
What I'm starting to understand in talking to a number of employers that are in my community and also a number of unionized workers, as I had the opportunity -- and I commend the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union for their contributions that they make not only to representing the workers but also to the broader community in the fight against leukaemia, in the search and research that is there for leukaemia. But I had an opportunity during that walkathon, as we were walking the street together, to talk about this issue. They were saying that their collective agreements do provide that.
One of the messages that they've been sending out to those other employers who do not have collective agreements by unionized workers is, "You have to be careful, because under Bill 40, if you upset the majority of the apple cart, the majority of the workers, they will have the availability to organize through a collective process which will allow them, under their collective agreement, to have that freedom of choice."
There are provisions, and I think the provisions that are in the Employment Standards Act are there, but the general public do not understand what they are. I think it's important on behalf of the government to make sure that we send that message out and inform people about their actual rights in the Employment Standards Act, because it's not only dealing with Sunday but all issues under the Employment Standards Act. I believe a lot of workers don't understand what their rights are as employees in the province of Ontario. I think it's our responsibility as a government to make sure.
I've heard the confrontation from my police services board. The police services board's saying: "How do we enforce it? There's no enforcement mechanism." I find it very ironic that the Tories are somewhat opposed to it, yet they stand strongly in support of bicycle helmets, and at the same time it's a very difficult situation to enforce. Yet they use the enforcement. There are a number of questions that are facing municipalities.
In listening and watching what's been going on in my own community, outside all the other issues that people have been dealing with, I find it hasn't detracted from the family quality. I continue to refuse to shop on Sundays. So does my wife, my children. We all make sure that we don't shop on Sunday. That's our time and it's our choice to make sure that availability is there.
I believe that if we make sure that workers are protected through trade unions or through the law that is simply here and an enforcement mechanism that is appropriate, I'm sure that we can put the enforcement mechanism around family quality.
Some people are faced with choosing family quality or actually making ends meet, and some families need the opportunity for additional revenues in order to help pay for the bills, help provide for the families, because kids do grow, and if you have a million-dollar family, a daughter and a son, you'll know what the expensive costs are, because I'm faced with that myself.
As I've been through this, and listening to the people in my community, let me tell you, it has not been a major issue. This has not been a major issue that has exploded and kept exploding all during this period of time. The people in the township of Dover, which is represented by a good government there, don't have a problem there. The stores close. Family value is also alive in the small business community. In the town of Dresden, it's not a big issue with them. It's been very quiet. Workers haven't complained; store owners haven't complained, because the family value aspect in rural Ontario is still maintained. They may be businessmen, but they still carry family values.
As I look in the town of Bothwell, which is also a part of my constituency, if I listen to the people and the concerns that are there, made up of family value and quality of life, they have no problem with what's going on today. I believe if we open up another can of worms and turn up the public one more time, they're really going to ask the serious question about government in general, not of any political party, but of government as one identity in itself and what it's trying to do and accomplish.
People always ask for the right to choose, and I firmly support that opportunity for the right of choice. I supported the right of choice for individuals around abortion issues. I fought for the issue of the "Ask me, Don't Tell Me" clause during the workplace fights that I took on on 40-hour work weeks and voluntary overtime, and I continue to pursue that right of the volunteer aspect, of both the small business community and the larger businessmen who are dealing in the larger malls. There is protection. I heard from our downtown mall merchants that they were being forced by the owner of the mall to open on Sunday. There is an avenue there that allows them the opportunity not to open, and the choice is there for those chain stores that are family-owned to make sure that they cherish what they need.
But I also know that they're business people. They also do pay attention to the marketplace. They also do pay attention to the needs of the workers in the smaller settings. The larger settings, which we were talking about, are represented mostly by the UFCW, which is a good trade union which I believe will represent its members to the best of its ability.
I'm saying, on behalf of my constituents, whom I've heard very loud and clear both for and against, I believe it is only my right to reflect their views in the vote that will be conducted on this piece of legislation. That vote will be to support my community in supporting this legislation, because I've listened very closely to their concerns. I have my vote, which I cast, which was a no, but I'm going to carry the vote of my constituents in this piece of legislation, which says yes.
I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity. Hopefully, I've respected the rural life of rural Ontario, I've respected the views of my community and I will respect them come the vote of this Legislature.
M. Poirier : Aujourd'hui, le 15 juin 1993, nous voilà en train de débattre en deuxième lecture le projet de loi 38, de son beau nom, la Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jour fériés dans le commerce de détail en ce qui concerne l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche. Deuxième lecture, 15 juin 1993, en train de la préparer. Première lecture, 3 juin 1992 -- pas 1993, mais 1992, il y a déjà plus d'une année. À ce rythme-là, on n'est pas près de passer grand nombre de lois. Quelle perte de temps, quelle perte d'énergie quand on pense que pendant cinq ans, lorsque j'étais au gouvernement, on a entendu les plaintes du NPD.
En juin 1991, ils nous amènent le projet de loi 115, en juin 1992, ils nous amènent le projet de loi 38, et en juin 1993, on n'a pas encore complété le débat sur le projet de loi 38. Mais finalement, le train NPD arrive en gare -- pas trop vite mais il arrive en gare. Quel cheminement, quelle soi-disant gestion de dossier, mais, surtout, quelle frustration et quelle patience. Quel carrousel de politique NPD à ce sujet.
Quand j'ai été élu pour la première fois à l'Assemblée législative en 1984, le gouvernement conservateur était toujours au pouvoir, dans sa 4e année. La loi à ce moment-là, vous vous rappellerez, était aussi trouée qu'un bon fromage emmenthal. Et vous, qui êtes gastronome, Monsieur le Président, vous savez bien que ce ne sont pas les trous dans le fromage qui donnent le bon goût au fromage emmenthal. Il y a autant de trous dans cette loi-là que dans un bon fromage.
Tout le monde se définissait «touristique». Tout le monde avait changé la définition du dictionnaire Robert, du Larousse, du Harrap's, de tous les dictionnaires à l'échelle de la planète, mais surtout en Ontario, pour se dire «touristique». Moi, qui aidais à lancer une association touristique, je trouvais que ce jeu de mots était absolument hilarant.
Lorsque les libéraux sont arrivés au pouvoir en 1985, on s'est engagé à boucher les trous, à fermer les échappatoires, à corriger les lacunes et à rendre plus raisonnable cette loi-là que tout le monde s'amusait à ne pas respecter. Nous avons écouté la population de l'Ontario et nous avons présenté un projet de loi qui, je crois, à ce moment-là, reflétait bien la polarisation des opinions qu'on pouvait trouver et qu'on peut toujours trouver en Ontario.
Mais, pendant les cinq ans que j'ai passé dans le banc du gouvernement libéral, de 1985 à 1990, je n'oublierai jamais les attaques en règle de l'opposition NPD qui nous disait qu'on n'avait pas de moralité, qu'on n'avait pas de coeur, que nous étions antifamille, que nous étions antitravailleur et antitravailleuse, qu'on ne comprenait rien etc.
Mais lorsqu'ils sont arrivés au pouvoir, on aurait pensé que tout de suite ça a pressé de corriger ces épouvantables lois et conservatrices et libérales. Mais, bien non. On s'est préparé à avoir de grands changements. Le NPD arrive et dit : «Il faut consulter la population. Il faut faire des audiences publiques.» Et en privé, ils nous disaient, «On ne sait pas trop exactement quoi faire, donc on va gagner du temps en attendant que les grands prêtres dans le bureau du premier ministre puissent pondre un document et nous dire qu'est-ce qui va arriver avec un projet de loi sur l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche.»
Je n'oublierai jamais mon temps au sein du comité législatif sur l'administration de la justice, qui avait reçu le mandat de tenir ces audiences publiques-là pour connaître l'opinion encore une fois du grand public de l'Ontario. Je n'oublierai jamais avoir fait 25 villes en 25 jours, avoir écouté des douzaines, sinon des centaines de présentations ou voir monsieur le président ou madame la présidente de la chambre de commerce locale venir nous dire, «Messieurs et mesdames du comité de l'administration de la justice, le mémoire que nous allons vous lire aujourd'hui, c'est exactement le même mémoire que nous avons lu au gouvernement conservateur à telle date, au gouvernement libéral à telle date, et maintenant à vous, le gouvernement NPD aujourd'hui, le même document, excepté que, par respect, nous avons changé la page couverture pour refléter la date d'aujourd'hui en 1991.»
Je me rappellerai également tous ces syndicalistes, des gens qui sont venus appuyer le principe de la fermeture des commerces le dimanche. Je ne partageais pas leur opinion nécessairement, mais à travers les semaines et les mois que nous avons parcouru l'Ontario, j'ai appris à respecter et à beaucoup apprécier la sincérité, les inquiétudes que ces gens-là dans les différents syndicats avaient à l'égard d'une loi à venir du gouvernement NPD. À ce jour, je les respecte et je veux leur dire ceci.
Mais, par contre, mon sixième sens me disait qu'il y avait peut-être matière à s'inquiéter parce que, comme dirait Plume Latraverse, ça brosse à gauche, ça brosse à droite. On n'avait pas moyen vraiment de savoir si le Jello NPD était pour prendre d'une façon ou d'une autre, face à l'ouverture des commerces le dimanche.
Mais je savais des indices que c'était dans le bureau du premier ministre que ça se déciderait. Mais lorsque la loi NPD est arrivée en juin 1991, le célèbre projet de loi 115, je n'aurais jamais pu imaginer que cette loi NPD serait encore plus libérale que la loi libérale que mes collègues, mes bons amis NPD, ont pris cinq ans, lors du gouvernement libéral, à faire tomber, à planter, à critiquer, à nous accuser de tous les noms d'oiseaux. Très intéressant.
Donc, le projet de loi 115, le premier jeu de ping-pong politique de philosophie NPD, est adopté en décembre 1991. Mais, imaginez-vous la surprise de tous leurs appuyeurs traditionnels, mes bons amis syndicalistes, auxquels j'ai fait référence tantôt. Imaginez leur surprise quand il n'y avait aucune journée de pause commune dans le projet de loi. Imaginez-vous la surprise lorsque ceux et celles qui voulaient ouvrir leur commerce lors des jours fériés devaient se faire accepter au plan local et se faire définir comme «zone touristique». Quel cauchemar de retour, de déjà vu, de recul vers l'ancienne loi conservatrice que nous avions corrigée en 1989.
Je vois encore toutes ces définitions de «zone touristique». Quelle fertile imagination que j'ai entendue lors de ces mois-là. Puis maintenant, en juin 1992, première lecture du projet de loi 38 que le gouvernement NPD nous propose. Mais cette fois-ci, les commerçants peuvent ouvrir les dimanches. Ceux et celles qui auraient réussi à convaincre leur municipalité qu'ils étaient dans une zone soi-disant touristique auraient gagné la loterie et pourraient ouvrir les jours fériés s'ils avaient rencontré les soi-disant normes locales des Disney touristiques.
Un point heureux toutefois : ceux et celles qui ont un commerce dans un centre commercial, peu importe ce que dit le bail actuel, pourront rester fermés les dimanches et les jours fériés en dépit de ce que dirait le bail commercial en vigueur. Merci, mon Dieu.
L'autre aspect, et mon collège de Wellington y a fait référence, et d'autres également : la rétroactivité de la loi au 3 juin 1992. Au moment où on se parle et depuis le 3 juin 1992, toutes sortes de commerces ont été ouverts, sans même que la loi ait été passée. Moi, la tête me tourne en pensant à toute la frustration des policiers et des policières à essayer, juste à l'arrivée de cette première lecture du projet de loi 38, à faire respecter l'ancienne loi : les visites des commerces, le temps perdu, l'argent perdu, les amendes, les appels, les jours en cour, la frustration des propriétaires tels que M. Magder à Toronto même ici, et tout le travail du comité d'administration de la justice qu'on aurait, ou presque, aussi bien de ne pas faire, puisque le gouvernement NPD n'a vraiment pas écouté la population.
Mais ce qui m'inquiète c'est que maintenant, si la loi passe, qu'est-ce qui arrive aux propriétaires des dépanneurs, des magasins des dépanneurs ? Il y en a certains qui m'ont contacté, et à force de consulter mes collègues, je m'aperçois qu'il y a plusieurs dépanneurs qui souffrent de l'arrivée de ce projet de loi 38, parce que, avec l'ouverture des grands commerces les dimanches, c'est évident que les petits commerces des dépanneurs semblent être particulièrement affectés.
Lots of the small corner grocery stores are being hit very hard by this proposed Bill 38. I think we know what the solution would be, sir. I come from an area in which culturally we live right next door to Quebec and we see a lot of the corner stores being able to sell beer and wine on Sundays, in the evenings and on holidays, and as far as I'm concerned, we never saw anywhere that there were statistics to prove that if you make it more available, you will get more consumption and more abuse. As much as I share MADD's and SADD's programs and others' programs to hit hard upon those who abuse consumption, let us not confuse availability, consumption and abuse.
This is why I would invite my colleagues in government, if they care about the small corner store, to be able to let them have the sale of beer and wine in the corner stores. Come next door to Quebec, it's quite okay. I would hope that you would do it, but I doubt that you will do it because that would make too much common sense to give an edge to the small corner store owners to help them fight off the openings of the larger grocery stores in the same neighbourhood. But I invite you to think about it.
Mr Poirier: He's now in the House of Commons, of course. He left and I took over. A minute of silence for Prescott-Russell, I presume. But he brought that forward and it got promptly defeated, and I pushed the government between 1985 and 1987 to do it, and it got defeated with the help of the now NDP government party and the Tories then.
Mr Poirier: On the local option? At that point I supported it, but now I will support Bill 38 because I believe in free enterprise and I believe that the owners of businesses should get the opportunity to open on Sundays. But what I want you to do, and I will support you in this also, is to make sure that you have provisions to protect those workers on Sundays and holidays to make sure that the employers respect their right not to work on Sundays and on holidays. I will support you on that because there should not be abuse of that aspect.
Ontario is sufficiently diversified and has advanced very much in the last two years in its philosophy towards Sunday shopping, and I can only encourage you to make sure that this protection of the workers happens because, like I said earlier in French, when I sat on the administration of justice committee to study this dossier, I got to know very well, to respect very well and understand very well the concerns that the workers had about Sunday shopping and opening on holidays. I could relate to what they were saying, I respected what they were saying and I can understand their concerns. I got to know some of them very well and I salute them today. I want to thank them for having come forward and having said in such a clear, consistent and respectful way that they did not want any Sunday working or Sunday shopping, and I respect that.
But I think if you're going to do what you're doing with Bill 38, you've understood that Ontario's come a long way or else you would not have changed your minds. I'll support that. I will be voting in favour of Bill 38, but I remind you that I will be watching to make sure that your government really protects the workers. No owner should abuse this law on the backs of the workers, but since you're doing this, you should also respect the right for business people to be able to determine themselves whether they want to or not, should or should not, can or cannot, must or must not open on Sundays and, if they're so-called touristic, on holidays.
But I wish you luck also with this tourism designation aspect, because if you look at the dictionary definition, like in the Tory days, with all due respect, when they had a so-called "tourism" designation, you're going to end up having the same ridiculous problems because everybody's going to make their own blanket and call themselves "touristic zone." I remember, when I sat on the administration of justice committee, all the weird, wacky and Monty Python definitions of what a tourism section was. You will have to deal with that and I wish you luck.
The past solicitors general and the current Solicitor General are very honourable people. I guess you will have to explain to your own supporters why and how you got to change your minds on this, but then that's your problem, not mine, and I wish you luck. From what I've seen of their reactions, they're waiting for you around the corner. I won't be there; you will be there, but I'll be generous enough to support you with Bill 38.
So in 25 words or less, this is what I want to tell you, but I really wish we could have decided something like this a heck of a long time ago. When I see from year to year the delays in bringing this forward, I'm sure, Mr Solicitor General, it's not your point. You weren't responsible for delaying it like this. I'm sure you wish you could have been named Solicitor General back in the fall of 1990, and of course it would have been your own decision. You would have brought it forward so quickly that we wouldn't have had a chance to bat an eyelid. But I support Bill 38. Please consider help for the small corner convenience store owners. They're taking a heck of a kicking, and don't ever forget the workers.
Mr Perruzza: I'd like to commend the member for being clear in his position, a position which I can quite readily and fundamentally accept and respect. But I have to tell my honourable colleague from the Liberal Party that I haven't found his position to be consistent with the position of many of his caucus and many of his colleagues.
I have to tell you that when I was on municipal council and during its mandate, it opted to deal with this issue based on the principle of a local option. What that essentially meant was that they didn't have to make a decision; they didn't want to make a decision; they just simply passed the decision-making on to another jurisdiction, on to municipal jurisdiction. You know the kind of hodgepodge and the kind of ridiculousness associated with that particular position, because you're pitting one municipality against another municipality in terms of their rules with respect to Sunday openings, with respect to Sunday shopping.
So when he says "protect the small convenience store," what that particular position would have done is in fact pitted one small convenience store against another convenience store, and those two stores could have been metres apart, just on the other side of the street, as long as they were in different municipalities which essentially had different rules. I find that kind of position, that kind of inconsistency, completely unacceptable and I respect the member for standing in his place and saying he's going to support this now. I'm not, but he will.
Mr Leo Jordan (Lanark-Renfrew): I just want to take a short time to express my views on this debate, because really it seems to me to be a complete waste of time. This bill has been debated and debated a year ago. It was out to committee. The people had a chance to come in and express their views to committee and I thought the public turned out very well.
I don't see this bill as a Sunday shopping bill. I see it as nothing more than whether I have the right to open my store on Sunday. If you give me the right to open my store on Sunday, that doesn't mean I have to open. That doesn't mean if I do open it, you have to leave your home or your family and come and shop. That doesn't mean that you have to stay away from church because my store is open.
I don't understand why we're spending so much time trying to regulate people's habits. They really are quite capable, in my experience, of regulating their own family lives. If they want to take time on Sunday to take their family and stroll through a shopping centre that's open, that doesn't say they're even going to shop. They're probably using it as an outing, a time together, and the only place they may use is the dining facilities or something like that.
As far as being concerned about the people who are going to have to work on Sunday, I have to question "have to work on Sunday," because the workforce out there is such that their working on Sunday would be of choice.
Hon Mr Wildman: I'm intrigued by the comments of my friend from Lanark in response to my colleague from Prescott-Russell's comments. I find myself largely in support and agreement with my friend from Lanark except for the last remark he made with regard to the workers and the need for protection for workers.
I want to congratulate my friend from Prescott-Russell for his remarks. I note that he says that he will be supporting the legislation and that he has wondered how the members of this party who might support the legislation will explain this to supporters. I would say that the same goes for just about everybody in this House who might support the legislation, considering the positions that have been taken by previous governments, whether they be Liberal or Conservative, with regard to this legislation and how we deal with regulation of Sunday shopping. It has been a conundrum for all governments and it has been difficult for us to deal with the need to protect workers, the need to provide choice and the particularly difficult issue of tourism and tourism designations.
The Liberal Party, when they were in power, tried to have local autonomy, to leave it to the local municipalities to make a decision. Prior to that the Conservatives, when they were in power, attempted to have a tourism designation, and this government also attempted to have a similar approach. All three we found to be really unworkable and problematic when it came to the courts.
Frankly, it's time we left it to the populace, I believe, to make these decisions, and I support my friend from Prescott and Russell and I agree that we must indeed look at how we can protect workers who want to have a choice, just as shoppers and store owners will have a choice under the legislation.
Mr Mammoliti: In response to the member for Prescott and Russell, I'm going to disagree with you and I'm going to disagree with you on the basis of what you've said and you said more in particular at the end of your speech.
You talked about the government paying particular attention to workers and making sure that this legislation protects the workers. I want you to point out to me where in this piece of legislation we are guaranteed protection for the workers, because even though there is a small clause in the legislation that would help workers, I know for a fact that workers are being forced to work on Sundays.
I don't understand how you, on one hand, can say, "I'm going to support Bill 38; I'm going to vote for it," and on the other hand say, "but please make sure that the workers are protected." I need to know from you where you think the workers are protected if you feel comfortable with the legislation.
That's one of the reasons I don't feel comfortable with the legislation, because I think we could be doing a little more to protect workers on Sundays and this, to me, is very important. So if you can just spend a few seconds in explaining where you feel comfortable with that, I'd appreciate it.
At this point since it's a free vote, I will not claim to represent my colleagues in the House, no matter which side of the House, and I do not claim to represent a past or current government. I spoke freely from the heart on my own personal position --
The previous Liberal government decided that it wanted to have a local option, and I could live with that as a compromise for the incredible variety of opinions that we saw in Ontario. There's no way I could have supported closing down Niagara Falls, the same way that I could not have supported opening up completely Lanark-Renfrew or Wellington or -- Mr McLean from Simcoe East, what was the name -- Gingersnap Junction.
Mr Poirier: It's not pitting against. You see today in 1993 some businesses are open, some businesses are closed, and the end of the world did not happen, the world continues to revolve. Some convenience stores are open 24 hours around the clock; others are open 8 am to 11 pm. This is the change, the variety that you will see in Ontario.
As for my friend from Yorkview, I can only hope that this bill will offer protection. If not, you will have to look at the Employment Standards Act to make it more airtight, to make sure that if the workers do not feel protected by this bill -- surely they will tell you if they don't tell me -- but if they don't feel adequately protected then you will have a mandate to make sure that, one way or another, you find means to protect them.
Mr Dennis Drainville (Victoria-Haliburton): I ask your forbearance, Mr Speaker. As you know, I have been a little under the weather lately, but I'm very glad to get up here tonight and to be able to speak about an issue which is one of the outstanding issues that I've had with this government since I was elected in 1990.
At times I must say that the debate in this House gets a little bit rowdy when people are saying things to and fro. I remember sitting on the other side of the House in the government when members here in the opposition would wave a document and that document was the Agenda for People.
I want to say something about that document tonight. I believed in the Agenda for People. I believed in those policies that we set forth in the 1990 election. I went door to door talking to people and I went through the villages and the hamlets through my riding of Victoria-Haliburton and I was speaking to people with pride about those things that I believed in. And those policies that we enunciated, I believed then and I believe now, are policies which would be policies that would help to build a better society in Ontario and give the kind of leadership that is needed in this province at this time and the kind of leadership that we need in this nation.
So when the opposition members in those days brandished the Agenda for People, at the beginning I was angry with that because I believed in that document, but over a period of time, as we began to change policy after policy, I began to feel very uncomfortable about those beliefs that I had put in those policies. And so it is I stand today on this side of the House as an independent member, not happily so, but I am here, despite the honourable member's comments to the contrary, because I believe in those progressive policies that he obviously has forgotten about, that he doesn't attend to any more. One of those policies is the very policy that we speak about tonight, and that is Sunday shopping.
Let me be clear about that particular policy. It seems to me that if there is one thing that was said by the New Democratic Party that was very strongly said through many years, it was the necessity of establishing a common pause day. I've got to say, in terms of Bill 38, that we have a bill that will take away a common pause day. And it's not a matter of taking any high, moral, religious view on this issue, because I'm not arguing from the standpoint of being a Christian, though I am a Christian, but I am speaking as someone who cares deeply about the social fabric of this province.
My concern is that in the midst of this recession we have situations piled upon situations where people are being hurt by unemployment, by problems in the family because of the recession, so many problems in fact that we have people in our respective ridings who know not where to turn because they can't find jobs. People are losing their homes; they're losing their farms in this province. People are hurting.
To add to this very dismal picture, we choose to introduce a policy which will in effect take away from people the opportunity to spend time with their own family. It seems to me that this policy is a policy which is going to hurt people and a policy which is going to put more and more emphasis on establishing a materialistic society where the basic common denominator is pursuit of wealth.
It's interesting, as I go back in my own mind and I think of the history of J.S. Woodsworth and Tommy Douglas and Stanley Knowles and M.J. Coldwell and I think about the things that they spoke about in the years when they were leaders of the New Democratic Party and the CCF. Central to that was an understanding that it was the role of government to establish quality of life and the kind of leadership that would help people, leadership that would affirm them in their work, affirm them in their lives as human beings, giving them opportunities to serve others, giving them opportunities to fulfil themselves.
Here we have a piece of legislation which essentially says that materialism is truly the basic fundamental reality of our society and that it is more important to allow for commerce to take place, for money to change hands, for people to spend all their time and their livelihood at work, rather than give them the opportunity of having a time of quiet and rest, a time to be with family. And so it is I am against this bill because this bill will do nothing to ennoble a citizen; it will do nothing to ensure that people and families have more rights and more opportunities.
This is not only a bad bill in that it tears the social fabric, but it is a poor bill because it does nothing truly to help small business. In fact, it will cause more and more problems for those small businesses that cannot easily compete with the chain stores. It is easy for a chain store to set up a situation in which it is open on Sunday. It is not at all easy for small operations, either single people or couples or families, to be open seven days a week, often long hours during each day. So we have a bill, again, which not only tears the social fabric but it also begins to eat away at the fundamentals of small business in our community.
Again, I always believe that when we set forth policy in the New Democratic Party that we did so taking into consideration the needs and the aspirations of small business. Well, we don't see that in this bill, and that is a great concern to me.
As I look across this province of Ontario, I want to tell you, Mr Speaker, two days ago was another plant closure in my riding, another 130 jobs, John Deyell Co. I've been talking to the workers from that company, and I've been asking them what their needs are. They feel betrayed. They feel betrayed by the system that allows for our economic situation to go on unabated. They feel victimized by the capitalist system, which has not in any way helped them. They feel that they have nowhere to turn, that there are no hopes for the future. It is to those people that we need to begin to respond.
One of the ways of responding would be to assure them that we affirm quality of life; that we affirm that families need time together; that we affirm that people need opportunities to be able to spend time, time that will refresh them, time that will give them opportunities to be prepared for the other tasks that they have to contend with in a very dismal and difficult society.
So it is that I will be voting against this bill. It is my hope that this bill will fail. I must say it is one of my many hopes that many bills that are being put forward recently, including Bill 8, the casino legislation, will fail. I have great concern about the continuation of establishing policies which are detrimental to our society, and that kind of leadership we don't need. God knows we've had enough of that in the years past, and we expected more from the government. Indeed, maybe in the future the government might be able to give us more if it changes its direction and if it begins to think seriously about the needs and aspirations of all people.
Mr Donald Abel (Wentworth North): I appreciate the opportunity to rise this evening and speak on this bill. I realize that in response to changing social patterns in Ontario and in neighbouring jurisdictions, Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act, was introduced in the Legislature. I also realize that this was an extremely difficult decision for this government to make. I, however, share the myriad of concerns of others that believe Sunday shopping will, over a period of time, have a detrimental effect on many people's lives. Proponents of Sunday shopping have argued that they deserve the freedom of choice.
The Deputy Speaker: Order, please. I asked for questions and comments, and I did not see you. That's the reason why I did not recognize you; as simple as that. You are raising a good point. Often members are standing all over the place, and it's very difficult for the Speaker to recognize if a person is standing up for a point of order or for questions or comments. So if I made a mistake, I apologize, and we will continue the debate.
As I was saying, proponents of Sunday shopping have argued that they deserve their freedom of choice. However, prior to the introduction of Bill 38, Sunday shopping was not a matter of choice but a matter of law. The Retail Business Holidays Act, like any other act, is law, and we do not and should not have the choice to choose whether we obey certain aspects of the law.
Laws are amended and even deleted from time to time when deemed necessary and appropriate. The proposed amendments to the Retail Business Holidays Act, in my opinion, are neither necessary nor appropriate. Yes, I've been contacted by some constituents who support Sunday shopping. Their reason for support was primarily because it was a matter of personal convenience. I have to admit that, yes, for some it will be a matter of convenience, but at enormous expense to many others.
For many years, variety stores were allowed to open on Sunday because of the very nature of their business and the service that they provide. Sunday sales are vital to the weekly sales of thousands of variety stores in this province. Competition from the major retailers due to Sunday openings has already had a detrimental effect on many of the corner stores.
The province's 340,000 people employed by the major retailers could be and already have been forced, of course through subtle means, to work on Sunday, and no labour laws can ever prevent that. Employees who exercise their legal right to refuse Sunday work could be marked by their bosses as uncooperative and could possibly be subtly punished.
There's absolutely no justifiable evidence that wide-open Sunday shopping will have any significant impact on the economy or reduce cross-border shopping. The reality of the situation is that people will not spend any more money in seven days than they will in six. Sunday shopping will have very little impact on cross-border shopping. British Columbia is a fine example of that. Vancouver area consumers still line up at the US border to cross over to the neighbouring state of Washington. The real point about Sunday shopping is that even if legalized, it will not play a significant role in solving Ontario's economic woes.
As a final point, Sunday has always been a day much different than those of the rest of the week. It is one day in seven set aside for rest, a day to get away from work and routine, and a time to spend with families. Sunday shopping will, over time, make Sunday just another day of the week and significantly change the lives of many people. For those reasons, I will not be supporting Bill 38.
Mr Steven W. Mahoney (Mississauga West): Thank you very much. They're just trying to be nice because I'm the whip back there. This is the latest member -- the newest member or the latest member? -- of the Legislature.
This is an issue that's been debated for, let me think, four or five years out of the six years I've been in the Legislature. When are we finally going to finish with this nonsense? When are we going to finally say to the people of Ontario that the interventionist attitude of this government and, frankly, other governments in telling people whether or not they can go out and buy some groceries on a Sunday in 1993 is going to stop?
The attitude becomes one of protecting the workers. I've sat here and I've thought, who works on a Sunday? Most of us do. People don't believe that, but let's face it: We're out roaming around, giving out plaques, kissing babies, shaking hands, doing what we do, working on Sunday.
The police department: How many police departments take Sunday off so they can be with their families? Of course they don't. They have to work; they have to work a full shift; they have to work just as hard as if it's Monday or Thursday or any other day of the week. Wouldn't it be nice if we could give all our fire departments a common pause day, tell them that we're not going to have any fires, it's Sunday, take the rest of the day off, everything's fine, spend it with your family?
Hospitals: We can't get sick on Sunday. The emergency department is closed at the Mississauga and the Credit Valley Hospital, because all the nurses and all the doctors are at home with their families having a common pause day. Nursing homes: All of our parents and our grandparents and our loved ones who are in nursing homes, some kind of health care facility -- sorry, you just lay in bed there and don't move; it's Sunday. The staff have taken the rest of the day off. There will be no activity. That's it; we're shutting everything down. It's a common pause day. This mentality --
Mr Mahoney: All right, sports games, the domed stadium; the list goes on and on. In 1993 in Toronto the Good, in Ontario the Magnificent, in Canada the Wonderful, we work on Sundays. People need time off, no question. There should be arrangements and people should be able to negotiate in fairness with their workers. I mean, this is not a day and age of slave labour.
Talk to me about some of the people whom the NDP would purport to be their great supporters. Not any more, after all the damage you've done in the labour relations field, in the labour union field. They're not your supporters any more, but does General Motors shut down on Sunday? Does Ford shut down on Sunday? Does Stelco shut down? Does Algoma shut down? Do the chemical companies? Do the pulp and paper mills? Do all of the major industries in this province shut down because the NDP government either decrees it or somebody else decrees it? This is absolute nonsense and it's time that we put this issue to bed.
You might find it hard to believe, as I find it distasteful generally to vote for a bill put forward by this government, that I'm going to support Bill 38, and the reason is that I want to get it out of here. I happen to believe there are a lot of other issues of greater significance to everybody -- to workers, to shoppers, to municipalities, to the economic development and growth of all of our communities -- than having this government or any government, at a time when the province is in the deepest recession in all of our living memories, almost as deep as the depression in the 1920s and the 1930s -- it is catastrophic, economically, and we're sitting here at 9 o'clock at night debating Sunday shopping.
I really, sincerely hope we're going to bring this to a head; we're going to have the vote on it. If it loses, fine, take it away. If it wins, fine, take it away. I'm fed up with it and I believe most of my constituents would say to me: "Get on with the things that matter in this province. Get on with creating jobs. Get on with economic growth and development."
In fact, Sunday shopping creates jobs. I've got two boys in university and another one in high school at home. They need work during the year. They need to have part-time jobs to earn some spending money. Equally as important, you talk about keeping a family together; what's better for a young person than to have a part-time job so that their minds are active and their bodies are busy and they're not hanging around the malls getting into trouble or going out creating problems and running into the police or doing whatever? Better off that they have a job working at the local mall, working in a retail store, earning a few bucks, learning what it's like to have to fight out in that world.
I have respect, I must say, for some of the members opposite who get up on religious grounds. I have some respect for the fact that a couple of our members in this place are ministers of the cloth and that they believe -- even though they work Sundays, which is somewhat ironic. I mean, that's their big day of work. I assume they work all other days too, but Sunday's a pretty big day for anybody in the clergy. So it's okay for them to work, but don't anybody else work.
But I have some sympathy and some respect for them having their views based on moral grounds. They've really, I guess, been educated along the lines that Sunday is the Sabbath, even though -- think about this -- today you look around this place and you see the multicultural mix, the multiracial, the multireligious mix in this place.
Go to a school and speak to some young kids. I was in a school the other day with a combined group of grades 7 and 8 kids talking about politics and the different things that go on in different levels of government. When you look at the mix in there, there are kids from Hong Kong, there are kids from Pakistan, there are kids from Africa, there are kids from all over the world, and they have different religions. Some of them share Saturday as a pause day, a religious day. Are we going to shut down on Saturdays because somebody ordains that that should happen? Some of them celebrate our traditional Christmas at different times of the year, be they Ukrainians or whatever. There is a huge, broad mix in this great province. That's one of the greatest things about this province, frankly, that we have such a terrific mix of people from all over the world and we are a compassionate society that provides opportunities for people from all over the world.
Sure, we have our problems. We have our problems, and you hear some people say that if we just eliminated all the refugees and the immigrants, we'd eliminate all the problems in our society. I'll tell you, my folks and their folks were immigrants. My wife was an immigrant. We're all immigrants eventually, not too far back in our past, many of us first-generation immigrants to this great province and this part of the world.
So we bring this great mix, this great balance, this great wealth of humanity from all over the world into this province and we tell them: "Okay, folks. You're here in Ontario. There'll be no shopping on Sundays. I want you in bed at 10 o'clock at night. Turn the television off by 11. Up at 7 o'clock in the morning. Out and cut the grass. Get that crop going on the farm. You're going to do it our way."
I mean, that's probably next in the NDP government. We're going to have rules and regulations down as to when people have to go to bed. But I'm not being partisan when I say this -- at least not too much. I don't know where we get off trying to impose these phoney social values. They're not phoney from a religious perspective if that's what driving your concerns, but from a political perspective they're absolute nonsense.
Let me tell you, I've got three sons. The best thing that my boys can do is when they go to the Erin Mills Twin Arena at 1 o'clock or 2 o'clock in the afternoon to supervise the public skating and make a few bucks or to sweep up in the rink or to work at the community centre or to do whatever it is they have to do. My oldest boy worked at a great tradition. I don't know where Kimble Sutherland is, but he would know this place. You would know the Ceeps in London. My oldest boy worked at the Ceeps -- terrific place -- slugging a few beers, serving a few sandwiches. He gets the odd shift on a Sunday; nice restaurant. I mean, he needs the money. He needs the money at the Ceeps.
My 20-year-old worked for the Brantford Smoke. I don't know where Mr Ward is. He goes to McMaster, worked for the hockey club. They play games on Sundays, let me tell you. Matthew goes down and he has a job, security or serving some beer or doing whatever, at the Brantford Arena. Those boys need that money, they need that opportunity, they need that work experience, they need that discipline, they need that time to grow up and to learn what it's like to have to get up in the morning and go to work, to learn what it's like to have to push a broom around, which I'm quite sure we all did when we were kids.
So any suggestion that we should close down Sundays in this province really has to go back so far into the Toronto the Good days when they wouldn't allow sports to be played and all of that kind of thing. You couldn't do anything. You would just go to church and get home and start working on the Sunday meal. Times have changed. And you know what? Families can stay together with that kind of atmosphere. That's not a problem. As a matter of fact, I believe it'll help families stay together because there will be less pressure on the young people to bug mum and dad for extra money and less pressure on the young people who might get into trouble because they don't have busy hands and active minds working at a job on a Sunday.
Let me just address it from another perspective. I think it can be a positive thing for a family, and I don't think we should try to pretend that having Sunday shopping is going to destroy the quality of life of our families in the province. But from another perspective, the experience of the small business community, it's really quite catastrophic what they've gone through, particularly in retail.
We experienced in our own family where we lost a business in the past year due to the recession and due to the problems, and this hits your family in a devastating way. Not only does it cost money -- money you can replace -- but it costs you a lot of heartache, a lot of difficulties, a lot of time, a lot of tears, a lot of late nights, a lot of anguish trying to figure out how we're going to resolve this problem. Businesses are failing all over this province. It's not due to people's laziness or incompetence. As a matter of fact, Ontarians and Canadians are some of the most resourceful, hardest-working people in the world, in my view. These things happen.
If Sunday shopping could help a retail establishment stay open to earn a few extra bucks, then why would we, as government, say they can't? Because we're concerned about their family? Give me a break. It's a lot harder on their family putting them out of business than it is having them all go and work the store together or do whatever it is they have to do to keep the business alive. It's not just retail; it's every aspect. If you talk to anybody who's involved in a manufacturing business, in a small distribution company, they'll tell you that they go in very often with their spouse on a Sunday and do the books and do the planning for the following week or weeks to come and make phone calls to people who are also in their plants working hard, trying to figure out how they're going to survive this recession.
So the economic development and the benefits of, first of all, government getting out of the business of regulating these store hours, if there's one thing -- and I saw the Treasurer; there he is over there -- if there's one thing, I say to the Treasurer and to all members in this place, we've got to start figuring out what it is government should be sticking its nose into and what it is government should be butting out of. We've got to start saying: "We're just simply not going to do that any more. We're not going to regulate it. We're not going to bother you with that any more."
We have some confidence that the private sector in this great province is mature enough to understand whether it's economically viable for them to open their darned store or their business on a Sunday. We have some confidence, being the patriarchal bureaucracy that we are here at Queen's Park, that a business person can make a decision whether they need to open their establishment on a Sunday to try to survive, and that workers -- sure, workers should be protected, but how about if we give these workers, senior citizens who might want to do a little part-time work, students who want to do a little part-time work, an opportunity instead of trying to pretend that we can shut the province down?
So I say to the members who are thinking in terms of voting against this that your ideology is of a day gone by. Your ideology is such, and I say it with respect, I say to you I know it's just my opinion and I respect you having yours, but I believe strongly that your ideology and your philosophy on this particular issue is of a day 30, 40, 50 years ago, not 1993, George. Not 1993 when we should all be big enough and grown up enough to let the private sector make their own darned decisions on such a silly matter, and government should be getting out of that particular business.
Every time a Liberal stands up to speak about this, we hear all the catcalls from over here and from over there that we tried to foist a local option upon the municipalities and how unfair it was and everything else. Let me tell you one thing. Perhaps the methodology was wrong. I will admit to that. In fact, many members of my caucus in the former government know that I feel that way. Perhaps it was wrong because we didn't go there first and say: "We want to do a local option. Work with us on it." Instead, we announced it in the House and sprang it on the municipalities. They don't like to be surprised. This government should know that better than anyone because the municipalities are now being surprised --
Mr Mahoney: -- by all of the problems of the deficit brought in by this Treasurer. Don't worry, Mr Speaker; I can handle him. All the problems of the deficits by this Treasurer are being downloaded down to the municipal level.
I was a municipal councillor for 10 years and I didn't like the surprises, let me tell you, that my friends to our left geographically, to my right philosophically, used to spring on us all the time. They used to come down from on high with these great diatribes, and they'd pass on all these new pieces of legislation and regulation. You'd open the envelope and you'd go, "Here's something from Queen's Park," regulations, legislation. Funnily enough, there was never a cheque in there. We used to look in there all the time and there was no money. There was all this stuff they wanted us to do -- you know that, Anthony -- all this stuff that these guys wanted us to do. They never sent the cheque. Strange stuff. They started that. The Conservative Party started that.
You guys are showing that you almost learned sitting at their knee how to put it on down, and you, Mr Minister of Municipal Affairs, should be ashamed of yourself for allowing this government to perpetrate the fraud that they're perpetrating on the municipalities. You should be ashamed of yourself. The Minister of Municipal Affairs should have the courage to stand up and fight for those people at the municipal sector and tell your Premier to stop passing on all his problems to their particular level.
In the spirit of non-partisanship, let me get back to the issue of the local option. Before the Liberal legislation came in, I was on municipal government and regional government, region of Peel, city of Mississauga, with Hazel McCallion. I have to say that because she might be watching. By the way, my mother-in-law is watching, so I'll just say hello to Edna. I'll get that out of the way too.
But before that legislation came in, the rules basically said, "No one in the province of Ontario shall shop on a Sunday unless they have an exemption," and then they said how you get an exemption. You go to your regional municipality or, in the case of an area where there isn't a region, you go to your local municipality, and you say, "I would like to be designated as a tourist attraction." It could be a community; it could be a business improvement area; it could be one store; it could be a shopping mall. You would say to your local representatives, "I want to open on Sunday. Designate me as a tourist attraction," and you would do it.
So that's all you did. Let me give you some examples. In Mississauga, the Malton fruit market came before regional council. We designated them a tourist attraction. Now, people who work at the Malton fruit market and own that would tell you that people come from as far away as Buffalo, New York, to shop at the Malton fruit market. The fruit's a little hard by the time they get home, but in any event, it's a stop on a sort of tour that these people make, and they convinced our council that they were indeed worthy of being declared a tourist attraction. Therefore, they were allowed to open on a Sunday.
The Port Credit business improvement area: It is a tourist attraction as a result of the Toronto Star Great Salmon Hunt. It should be the Mississauga News great salmon hunt, but in any event, it is an event, a fishing derby that's worth millions of dollars not only to Port Credit but to all of Mississauga and to Oakville and even Burlington and I guess right around Lake Ontario into the east end; a lot of money. So there's some argument that says that when the fisherpeople come on a Sunday --
Mr Mahoney: Anglers. I knew there was a neutral term there. Thank you. A neutral gender term: anglers. When the anglers come on a Sunday and they drop their boats in the harbour at Port Credit, they've got to buy some gear. They've got to buy some hooks. They don't use worms to catch these great big salmon, but they've got to buy some equipment. Maybe they've got to buy some pop or some groceries to take out on the ship -- on the boat; it's not quite a ship. Ships ahoy. But they've got to do some shopping. Some of them are ships, believe me. One boat goes out into Lake Ontario and, let me tell you, they would easily, in the Port Credit community, drop $100 to $200 in shopping. Imagine if it was closed. I mean, what's the point? The businesses in Port Credit would lose all that revenue, so we in our wisdom at council decided it was a reasonable request for the business improvement area in Port Credit to be open on Sunday.
The coup de grâce in Mississauga, July 18, 1986, was my birthday, thank you very much. It was also the day we officially opened the new civic centre in Mississauga. We opened it on the weekend and we had Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah Ferguson. Are they still together? I'm not sure. We had them attend and officially open on a Sunday. We declared, we, the city of Mississauga council, requested the region, which we were part of, to allow the city of Mississauga on that day to be wide open for Sunday shopping because we had thousands of people coming to our community to see Andrew and Fergie. We had thousands of people who lived in Mississauga and came from environs outside of Mississauga to help the citizens of Mississauga celebrate opening their new, beautiful civic centre.
Those are three examples where we gave exemptions which were totally in power, totally legal, totally just fine under the legislation called local option. We had an option locally, we decided to exercise it on those three occasions and we had wide-open Sunday shopping on July 18, 1986, and we had wide-open Sunday shopping for the Malton fruit market and the Port Credit business improvement area.
Where is it ever written that any of you, in your communities, should have a right to tell us we can't do that? Where should you ever get the power, if you are on council in Sault Ste Marie, to say that Sudbury must stay closed or must open on a Sunday, or if you're in Sudbury, why should you have the right to tell the good citizens of Sault Ste Marie, who happened to vote in a referendum in the Sault in favour of Sunday shopping, that they can't do it? It's ridiculous.
So our legislation put into place the mechanism that would give the local municipalities the option of deciding, as they've already had it. Now, work with me on this. Before the legislation, no one can shop on Sunday in the province of Ontario unless you get an exemption. How do you get an exemption? You go to council. After the legislation, no one can shop on Sunday in the province of Ontario unless you get an exemption. How do you get an exemption? You go to your council. I ask you, what was the difference? What was the fuss about? What were you people on this side of the House, when we were over there, going so crazy about? "We're going to destroy the family." What was the difference?
I'll tell you what the difference was. Under the old legislation we simply had to say that it's a tourist attraction. Under the new legislation we didn't have to say any such thing. We didn't have to justify our reasons as it being a tourist attraction, although under the old legislation there was no mechanism for appeal. Now you're going to allow a mechanism for appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. My goodness. John Sewell must be saying: "Why did you guys give me $3 million -- other than to give me a job -- to examine the Planning Act in the province of Ontario, when you're going to start piling these kinds of appeals and decisions on to the Ontario Municipal Board and waste their time?" In reality, and you know as well as I do, that there will be appeal after appeal to the OMB by the people in the religious community or other communities who feel they have a particular right to question everyone else's judgement in this province as to whether they should be able to (a) shop on Sunday or (b) work on Sunday.
You're going to create a nightmare, and that is the part of this legislation that I find terribly offensive and unfortunate, but I'm prepared, in the hope that we can finally put this issue to bed, in the hope that we can finally get on to trying to find a way to come up with some solutions to the mess that has been created through the social contract, in the hope that we can get on to many of the issues -- I see the Minister of Labour here. He knows as well as I do how many issues of serious concern, whether it's the agricultural workers -- and, by the way, Minister, I'm working on that; I hope to be back to you soon -- or whether it's Bill 80 or whatever the bill is, there are a lot of issues that I know he wants to see debated in this place in relationship to the workplace and in relationship to helping workers in this province. I want to share in that debate with him and with other members. We want to get on.
We saw a list today. We debated earlier for two hours the motion about night sittings. There was a list of 25 pieces of legislation that this government wants to put into force and effect in this sitting. I'd like to get to some of those. There are issues of serious, serious concern and impact to the people of this province that we've got to get on with and start debating and start looking at some of the amendments that we'll be putting forward as members of Her Majesty's loyal opposition and hopefully adopting some of those amendments and recognizing the role that we as opposition members have to play.
Finally, one of the things that is so frustrating to people like myself and, I know, my colleagues is when we debate this issue and we see other issues just being ignored. I see the Minister of Housing here. I asked her in the House the other day if she would take a look at delaying implementation of the regulations amending the building code, regulations that require that insulation in a new home be installed from floor to ceiling in the basement, when in the past we all know that it was only required to be installed to the frost line. The increased cost of that single issue alone to every new home that's built, depending on its size, is somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 per home, Minister.
Mr Mahoney: It's on this bill; it's economic development. If they won't do something about economic development -- it's a bit of a stretch, but it is. If they won't do something on economic development for the housing industry, then at least let's get on with this and do something for economic development for retail and for the workers who need the jobs.
This minister stands up and flippantly, in an arrogant fashion, says, "It's only 10 bucks a month." Maybe that's not a lot of money to you, Minister, but it's a lot of money to the people who are trying to buy their first homes. It's a lot of money to the builders who have to tell those people they have to increase the prices of their houses. And this kind of attitude is exactly why we continue to debate Bill 38, which you knew I would get back to. It is exactly the same kind of attitude.
There is a complete refusal and a reluctance of this government to understand that the way you get the economy going is by freeing up the private sector. You turn them loose. You tell them they can open their darned stores on Sunday; it's not a problem. You don't send the police around. You don't issue tickets and fine them and take them to court. Think of the amount of money, never mind the fines, that Magder had to pay -- or he got off. I don't know what finally you did with that, Mr former Solicitor General. You did something with it. But the cost to the taxpayer alone just to issue those tickets, to have the police go out there on Sunday to take him to court, is absolutely a travesty.
If this government had even the slightest idea, if those members opposite had even the slightest idea of what it means to get economic development going in this province, to turn the private sector loose and say, "We support small business. We believe in hard work. We believe in democratic free enterprise," then maybe we'd get this province's economy going again.
Mr Perruzza: I've just got to scratch my head in wonder at the sanctimonious garbage that we just had to sit and listen to. I can't believe that he would sit there in his place and with a serious look on his face talk about how this legislation is going to affect workers.
He gave us his boy as an example, going down to the local restaurant, the dining room, how he could work for a few bucks and bring a few bucks home, and how this was better for his livelihood and the rest of it. Well, I say to you that not every boy from every working family in Ontario can afford to be taken down to Florida for two weeks a year to spend together with his family. Not every boy can be taken out to the cottage and spend the weekends at the cottage with his family to develop the family unity.
Despite all of that, despite that, despite those kinds of arguments which undermine some of the fundamental values and some of the fundamental things that hold working families together, I'd like to ask the member a very direct question. He says this isn't important and we should be moving on to the finer stuff. Where was he when his government for five years took provincial expenditures, the budget, from $27 billion to $42 billion or $43 billion? Where was he then? Where were the good-time Charlies when things were booming in this province and they said, "Jeez, what if we get into bad times?"
Where's the training infrastructure that's going to be able to get people back to work and going to be able to get things moving again? Where was he when the government in those boom years needed to make some very direct investments in our infrastructure? I'll tell you where he was. In May 1990, just before they had to go to election, they made a grandiose announcement. I say to you, Mr Speaker, that the sanctimoniousness to stop.
Mr White: I'd like to commend my friend, but I'd also like to clarify a couple of things. This bill is about Sunday shopping, about opening things up for retail shopping and workers, workers who will now be working on Sundays, who previously did not have to. Now, there is a difference.
My friend opposite mentions the importance of working and productivity. He asks, "What about the steel mills and General Motors and Ford?" I can tell you, I've worked at General Motors as a policeman at that plant, as a security officer, and on Sundays I've gone through those plants. The lights are off. We are talking about miles and miles of plants that are storeys high. On a Sunday, in the middle of the day, they're pitch dark, because no one works at General Motors on a Sunday usually. It's only with productivity that Sunday work is necessary in plants, and productivity is important if one is producing new cars, steel, whatever. We're talking about real work and real economic investment.
But in terms of retail sales, I'm not sure that we need seven days a week in which to purchase shirts. I'm not sure that people have more shirts if they have the opportunity of purchasing them seven days a week. I'm not sure that any real productivity is gained through Sunday shopping, and so I'm not sure that analogy holds, that jobs are created in a substantive way or that any real economic growth derives from Sunday shopping.
Mr Marchese: There was a great deal of puffery coming out from the member for Mississauga West in a number of different areas. He says governments should not be regulating in these matters or overregulating. I say, if the government doesn't regulate in these matters, who should? Presumably, he's saying deregulate in these matters, as the Conservative and Liberal parties have done in so many other matters. He's saying, "Give the little guy a chance to make it." Well, we know from a lot of little guys and little people out there, men and women, that they're not making it. They are not making it. They're falling apart. But he's saying: "Oh, no, that's not true. Give the little person who wants to make it a chance."
He speaks, in reference to another member from this side or presumably many here, that we're talking about some outdated ideology. I don't know what that is, but presumably he's got a better sense of what ideology he supports. I don't know what that ideology is. I could never fathom, in fact, what a Liberal ideology is. Perhaps in his rebuttal he can speak to the ideology that he represents, because I don't understand it.
Furthermore, he makes additional points. He talks about economic development. He makes reference very tangentially or superficially about that. There are no facts to support that at all. Sunday shopping does not contribute to economic development. There's no evidence for it. It does not create new wealth, it does not create new jobs, and if it doesn't do that, what does it do except to provide --
Mr Marchese: I'm not supporting it -- except to provide the convenience by the many who have to work for the few who want to shop on Sunday. I oppose that. If the argument is simply convenience because of some modern ideology that people should shop if they want, I say no. I say government should regulate differently. I'll be opposing this bill and I think he's absolutely wrong on this.
Mr Murphy: Sometimes it's difficult to tell on what side of the House we're sitting after I hear the comments from that side. It's quite strange to hear all this opposition from the other side of the House to a government initiative, and I've got to say to the member for Fort York, it's confusing me. I'm more than happy to come over and help you out, if you provide some room, and some of my friends and my leader. We'd be prepared to do that.
I wanted to rise in defence and support of the member for Mississauga West, who -- I know the member for Fort York, and we share some common boundaries in ridings. I think of some of the businesses in that community, and I think some of them are doing very well and I think some of them would survive and thrive in the context of Sunday shopping. I know, when I walk down the streets of downtown Toronto and I see those stores open on Sunday, they are thriving happily, it seems to me, providing employment to all sorts of people in the community, in my community and I'm sure in the community of the member for Fort York.
So as I've said before, I support this bill and I think Mr Mahoney, my friend from Mississauga West, has been most articulate in his defence of this legislation. I appreciate the opportunity to intervene on his behalf.
Let me just tell you that I think they make my point, the members opposite, because they say, "What is the ideology of the Liberal Party or this member?" Let me tell you something: You don't make a decision on issues like this based on ideology. That's why you guys go around filling up your local councils wherever you can with NDPers and you decide on whether to fill a pothole in a city street based on ideology and philosophy. That's exactly where your mentality is. You think the party is all that matters. I think the people are all that matters. You just don't get it. So that's our ideology, if you want to put it that way.
The question was also asked of me by the member for Fort York, who should regulate? Again, you don't get it. Nobody. We don't need regulations in this modern society about whether or not somebody opens their store on a Sunday. We don't need an appeal process to take up time at the Ontario Municipal Board because somebody decides they don't like a certain store opening on Sunday. You're going to fill up the courtrooms at the OMB. You're going to waste the time of those people who are highly paid to deal with matters of concern of a planning nature in their local community.
Finally, to the first member, Mr Perruzza -- I forget the riding -- I hate to see grown men cry, but I understand your frustration in not being able to get your government to move on any kind of a sound economic platform, and I know it's tough. You've got to go home and face the music every weekend.
Mr Sterling: I wanted to talk about this bill, Bill 38, dealing with the Retail Business Holidays Act because I'm very, very much concerned with the process that we've gone through with regard to allowing Sunday shopping. I want to make this point very strongly and I would hope, Mr Speaker, that you might help me in terms of what remedy I, as a legislator in this province, might have with regard to a government which undertakes a legislative endeavour as in Sunday shopping.
I was trying to look through Hansard to find out when the minister said to the public of Ontario that they were no longer going to prosecute people who opened on Sunday, but I believe it was in either November or December of 1991, a year and a half ago, when I believe it was the Solicitor General of the time stood up and said, "We will not prosecute people under the present law of Ontario."
Well, we have Bill 38 in front of us. It's a bill which includes five sections. It is a very, very short bill because basically it's repealing a previous piece of legislation which this government put forward.
In between the announcement in December and June 3, 1992, when they tabled this bill for first reading, the passage of time was five or six months. Now, during that period of time there was a situation in this province where thousands and thousands of stores were illegally open because this law has not been passed. Last Sunday there were the same thousands and thousands of stores which were legally open.
Now, I think there's an obligation on government, when they undertake an announcement like this, to act in the most expeditious way to bring that legislation to this Legislature, present it to this Legislature, and that should be the first item on their agenda. It should have been dealt with, in my view, in either March or April of 1992. It should have been put in front of this Legislature; it should have been passed at that time.
I'm not even certain about the propriety of someone standing up and saying, "We are no longer going to enforce a law of this land." Whether you agree with the law or you disagree with the law, we had this government unilaterally stand up and say: "We are going to change the law of the land today. It's done. We've changed the law of the land: We're not going to prosecute people who open on Sunday."
This was introduced June 3, 1992. The first debate, the first time of this House that was taken up debating Bill 38 was on, I believe, May 18, 1993, almost a year after the bill was actually introduced.
I don't know what power I have as a member of the Legislature, but I believe in the institutions of Parliament, I believe in our justice system, and I believe our justice system should be protected. I believe that we have to stand up and fight for those institutions even when we disagree with the laws which they are enforcing or putting forward.
We have had a government by fiat. What prevents another minister from getting up tomorrow and saying: "I'm going to change the law on whatever it is, drinking and driving. We're no longer going to suspend licences for people who have been driving while being impaired"? What prevents this government from doing that even though I and the members of the Legislature vehemently disagree with that?
We've got another problem with this government with regard to this piece of legislation. The Premier has made it quite clear that he's going to allow his caucus a free vote. He's got a majority government. It's quite within the realm of possibility that Bill 38 will fall. If Bill 38 falls, and we had a government stand up and say, "We're not pressing charges. We're telling the police not to press charges. We're telling the crown attorney not to bring people in front of the court," I believe that is anarchy. That is basically reaching to the point of a cabinet minister acting outside his authority. If in fact the government can't go to its own caucus and say, "We have to have this vote because a year and a half ago we said this law was no longer in place," I think that there's a very, very difficult problem here with regard to how we rein in any future government as to what they might want to do vis-à-vis a whole variety of different kinds of laws which we have in this province.
I find a great deal of difficulty with what has happened here with regard to the speed with which this government has brought this bill to the Legislature. They introduced it on June 3, 1992, after announcing it some five months earlier. They appeared to have no concern about the dispatch with which they brought it to second reading. The government is basically fiddling with the justice system. They're basically saying there's a law on the books, but there's not a law, and it hasn't passed in this Legislature. Yet the Attorney General, in my view, or the Attorney General of the day, had no business telling his people not to prosecute, and the Solicitor General of the day had no business telling the police not to lay charges.
I have a great deal of concern with the process herein. I guess the bottom line of all this is, if this bill should fall, does this go to the confidence of the government? Does this bill go to the confidence of the government? Because we have gone a year and a half without laying charges under this law. I know it's not a money bill. I know it's not a bill which is normally considered confidence in a lot of parliamentary circles, but the argument I'm putting forward and that I want you to rule on, Mr Speaker, is whether or not this bill goes to a matter of confidence.
The Speaker: The member for Carleton asks an interesting question. It's not one which the Chair can provide an answer to, and indeed the question he asks is one that probably is more appropriately placed during question period. He has been given the floor and he has still 20 minutes and 30 seconds with which to make his remarks.
Mr Sterling: I would beg to differ, because what I'm talking about here is that you, Mr Speaker, are here to protect the Legislature, the rights of this Legislature and each member of this Legislature. My whole argument is that we have seen a year and a half of time when charges have not been laid. The laws of Ontario, as they are on the books, have not been followed. They have not been followed because the Premier, the Solicitor General and the Attorney General have said, "We're not going to follow the law." Then with no dispatch, no, they did not come to this Legislature at the first opportunity and say to the Legislature, "We did this because it was necessary for expediency's sake" -- and perhaps in past times we have from time to time had a Solicitor General or an Attorney General say, "This law is impractical" or, for whatever reasons, "We're going to change the law."
We now have a situation where I'm caught as a member of the Legislature, I'm here a year and a half later, and I don't know whether to vote for this bill on the basis of the principles or what my constituency wants or if I vote for this bill on the basis of upholding the justice system, because what we have done is, we have said this law is gone. We've said to the people out in Ontario: "This law is done. It's dead; Sunday shopping is legal." That's what the people of Ontario believe.
If I vote against this bill, and this bill doesn't pass, I will shake the confidence of the people of Ontario, in this place and in the Legislative Assembly. Consequently, as a matter of the duplicity of the actions of the Solicitor General, the Attorney General and this government as represented by the government House leader, I have no longer a free choice as to whether or not I should vote for this bill because I'm caught in another conundrum altogether, which has nothing to do with the issue of Sunday shopping.
I'm asking you, Mr Speaker, is there no kind of obligation on the government to ever bring legislation when they want to change the law? This has gone on for a year and a half and there hasn't been any kind of push by this government to get the issue on and over with, and I guess the bottom line is, what happens if this bill goes down the tubes?
I would say to you, Mr Speaker, is it not a matter of confidence of this government? Did the ministers not stand up to the public of Ontario and say, "The law has changed"? And therefore the confidence of the people, the confidence of this Legislature has to be such that it's no longer there in the government. They don't deliver on what in fact they said.
Mr Sterling: Professor Graham White, yes, that's right. I expressed my concerns over this bill and the length of time that had gone on from the time that this government said, "This is no longer a law" and what they had done to put their words into law and bring it in front of this Legislature and get it passed into law, and he was very much concerned about it because Professor White said to me that it basically gives the government of the day, particularly perhaps in a minority situation, the right to dictate law, to never come in front of the Legislature to have that law passed.
I don't know what to do, Mr Speaker. Do we impeach the government if in fact this law goes down? In fact, what tools do I have as a member of the Legislature to stop this kind of outrageous action without responsibility? Do I have or does a member of the public have any rights to call these people to account or can in fact the Solicitor General, the Attorney General or Premier Bob Rae say, "The law is this, and that's it," and that's the way it ends?
Mr Speaker, I'm greatly troubled by this in terms of the actions of this government. I am troubled by the fact that now the Premier is saying it's a free vote within his own caucus, because I think that that again weakens the resolve of the government to say, "A year and a half ago we said there isn't a law, but now we're saying I'm freeing all my back bench up to vote whichever way they want," which is what I would like to have seen them say a month after they made the announcement, when in fact all the damage hadn't been done and the public had the idea that there was a law which said that there was wide-open Sunday shopping in this province.
So anyway, I'm starting to repeat my ground and go over it again, but I do think that there should be some remedy for a member of this Legislature to call the government to tune and say, "Listen, if you're going to stand up and say the law is thus, then there's some obligation on you to bring that matter to this Legislature and get the law passed as thus."
Mrs Ellen MacKinnon (Lambton): I'm not even going to pretend to make any comment on the most recent speaker. He is obviously dealing with something that's legal. I'm not of a legal mind, so the expressions I'm going to put out at this time are my own feelings, my own comments.
In my opinion, Sunday shopping is not a case of for or against. You can be for it; you can be against it. It all comes down to one thing, and that is the matter of choice. People should be able to choose if they wish to shop or not shop on Sunday or Saturday or any other day. Employees should be able to say they will or they won't work on Sunday, and if they can't, then let's put the protection in so that's there for them. People should be able to choose for themselves how they wish to spend their Sunday, be it a ball game, be it a movie, be it the beach, be it the church; the list is endless.
Mrs MacKinnon: Certainly. They can go shopping or not go shopping. But it is clear that people prefer to choose not to be regulated, not to be legislated. People want the opportunity to make their own choice, and the people in this province are intelligent enough that they can make their own choice. Those who are working on Sunday will do it by choice, not by orders, rules or regulations. If it's by rules and regulations, then for goodness' sake let's protect the workers. But as far as it goes for shopping, let it be by choice. Let the merchants choose whether they wish to be open or closed.
Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): I must rise, on this singular occasion, to agree with the member for Carleton, because I think he's made a very good point. When the head of a municipal council, a municipality, in this province is elected, he or she takes an oath of office. One of the charges in the Municipal Act is to obey and enforce the laws of the municipality. Isn't it a shame that ministers of the crown, of the Legislative Assembly, aren't charged with the same requirement? You must do that. No matter how much you disagree with the law, no matter how much you were opposed to a certain law when it was passed, you must enforce it. It's required by the law. If you disagree with it, you set about to change it, and you set about to do that as soon as possible.
I must agree completely that the government chose not to ignore the law but to state that it would not enforce the law. I think it's a very sad day, as it was a very sad day when the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the previous minister, decided to ignore the Boundaries Act in the London-Middlesex bill, an act that had been negotiated by the representatives of over 800 municipalities in this province with the then government, the then Minister of Municipal Affairs, with some amendments. That is the law.
Hon Mr Wildman: Just a very short comment. I think it's important to respond to the comments just made and the main remarks of my friend from Carleton. I understand what both of them are saying with regard to legislation being passed in a timely fashion, particularly on an issue like this, and the difficulties that it presents all of us as members of the Legislature when such time has passed and people have gotten used to a situation in terms of the shopping being open, and the position that puts us all of us in, as legislators, in making our decision.
Having said that, it is a little bit far to extrapolate that to suggest that members of the government or any members of the assembly believe themselves to be above the law. The fact is that we were faced with a difficult practical situation with regard to enforcement of a law that the courts had basically indicated was unenforceable. The question was, how do we respond to that situation? The decision was to proceed with new legislation. The decision was also made that it would be a free vote and it would be up to the individual member of the assembly to determine how she or he would vote on the legislation. Of course, in making that decision, it is obvious that it is not seen by the government as a matter of confidence in the government.
Having said that, there is no intention to suggest that we are above the law, any one of us, whether in government or just as members of the assembly, but rather to respond to a very difficult practical situation which has been a dilemma not just for this government but for two previous governments in dealing with the question of Sunday shopping and legislation which in all three cases has been shown, frankly, not to be enforceable.
Mr Sterling: I want to say that the Minister of Environment, the member for Algoma, has stood up and said the law was unenforceable. I invite the Minister of Environment to tell that to Paul Magder, who had thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars levied against him as a result of this law that we are repealing today. I want to say, how do you think Paul Magder feels about the government's actions? All of a sudden one day he wakes up and the fight that he has been undertaking, where the government has been on his tail consistently over the last two or three years, even though two or three doors down from Paul Magder there was a huge grocery store open which was selling everything from groceries to furniture to clothing to hardware to everything else, and Paul Magder, because he's not part of the Chinese community which he lives right beside, all of a sudden is nailed Sunday after Sunday for selling furs on Sunday -- Mr Magder, I think, had a very, very good social or political argument.
I think the member for Brant-Haldimand is dead on in saying that this government, by its slow actions of announcing this in December 1991, by waiting to introduce a five-section bill on June 3, 1992, by waiting a full year, from June 3, 1992, to May 18, 1993, to first introduce it for second reading, has in fact acted above the law, and I believe that its actions are unconscionable.
Mr Kormos: First, let me comment on the nature of the debate, because I think this debate has been somewhat distinguishable from the usual course of debate. I think most MPPs, if not all of them, received a letter yesterday or today from a Toronto resident, Shirley Farlinger. Ms Farlinger wrote:
"You've been nominated and elected by the people of this province and you're there as their representatives. Speeches should concentrate on amending and moving forward the business at hand." There has been all sorts of conduct, she writes, that she finds entirely inappropriate. Indeed, she speaks of or bemoans the lack of obedience to the Speaker of the House. She writes to members of the Legislature: "You are paid a fair salary. You should give the taxpayers a fair deal."
I hope Ms Farlinger has been watching this particular debate, because I think this debate, other than the occasional bit of backsliding by a couple of members, has been one of the most non-partisan debates that's taken place here in a considerable period of time. Why? Because clearly in the instance of the government caucus, caucus members have been freed to vote according to their interpretation of the needs and wishes of their constituents. What that's meant is far fewer canned fluff speeches and far more addressing of the real issue at hand, which is the one of the need for a common pause day.
It's clear that people in this Legislature aren't in agreement on the issue. It's clear that people in respective caucuses aren't in agreement. I understand that and I respect that, but I find in the instance of the government, which is, of course, the sponsor of the bill -- because the purpose of the bill is to end once and for all any prospect of a common pause day for retail workers here in the province of Ontario. Indeed, the effect of Bill 38 -- and I know there are people who advocate this -- is to create wide-open Sunday shopping.
It's not remarkable that there are people who advocate that, because there have been people who have advocated that across the province and right here in this Legislature for a number of years. What's remarkable is that it's this government, a New Democratic Party government, which would present a bill creating wide-open Sunday shopping, closing the door on any prospect for a common pause day here in the province of Ontario. It's remarkable that it's this government that presents this particular piece of legislation.
Let me put this into something of a perspective. I know that not everybody in the province of Ontario agreed with the proposition that we ought to have, in the interest of fairness for drivers and justice for victims, a public auto insurance system. I know that not everybody in the province of Ontario agreed with that proposition. But the people who did agree with that proposition voted for New Democrats in the last election. You see, there were contrary views. There were people who rejected public auto insurance. There were other parties for them to vote for, and indeed they elected candidates other than New Democratic Party candidates, because I'm hard-pressed to think of a single New Democratic Party candidate during the course of the election in 1990 who did not, as a part of their campaign commitments, promise support for a public auto insurance system.
Similarly, the issue of justice for innocent accident victims: I understand that not everybody in the province of Ontario advocates justice for innocent accident victims the way New Democrats did, and those who didn't agree with New Democrats voted for other than New Democrats. But those who believed that this Legislature had a responsibility to create justice for innocent accident victims voted for New Democrats, because New Democrats -- and I can't think of one in the province who didn't promise their voters, their constituents, that they would promote, that they would fight for justice for innocent accident victims.
Not everybody in the province of Ontario has high regard for free collective bargaining, and those who don't have high regard for free collective bargaining and who don't have respect for the rights of women and men in our labour force who form unions and bargain collectively -- why, there are any number of people whom they could vote for, but those who had regard for free collective bargaining and who wanted to see the integrity of free collective bargaining maintained, I have no doubt that they were inclined to vote for New Democrats because New Democrats inherently were committed to the maintenance of the integrity of free collective bargaining.
Once again, common pause day: Not everybody agrees with the proposition of a common pause day. I know that. I understand that. But in the course of the by-election in Welland-Thorold in 1988 and once again in the general election of 1990, a very clear and specific part of my commitment as a New Democrat and as a candidate in those two elections was to support and advocate and fight for a common pause day for retail workers, and I tell you I can't think of a single New Democratic Party candidate, elected or unelected in 1990, who didn't share that same commitment.
Not everybody voted for New Democratic Party candidates. We know that. That's obvious. Those people who weren't advocates of common pause day had people advocating wide-open Sunday shopping whom they could freely vote for, but those for whom common pause day was important as often as not chose New Democrats to represent them here in this Legislature, because New Democrats promised that they would create a common pause day here in the province of Ontario.
This wasn't a new promise. This wasn't something conjured up during the course of preparing campaign leaflets. It was a commitment that had been stated over and over again by New Democrats from the opposition benches, not just for months but literally for years.
My introduction to this Legislative Assembly was in the midst of the debate created by the prior government's, the Liberal government's, attack on the Retail Business Holidays Act. Indeed, I recall being tutored, mentored by the now Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ed Philip, when I sat on the committee as the very newest member of the Legislature, being mentored by Ed Philip in opposition, in opposition to the proposition of expanding retail business openings. I was joined by Mike Farnan, the member from Cambridge, who was as vociferous and articulate and as adamant a proponent of common pause day as this Legislature has ever seen, short perhaps of Mel Swart.
Here we are in this Alice in Wonderland with this kaleidoscope, where the many pieces are never in the same position twice and they float around in that viscous fluid and this looking glass distorts things so remarkably, because we have a government presenting legislation that will end once and for all any prospect of a common pause day for retail workers here in the province of Ontario.
I tell you this, I have no intention of breaching my commitment to the people of Welland-Thorold. And I tell you this: As a result of that commitment, I have no choice. There's no choice but to vote against this legislation which is contrary to everything that every New Democrat in opposition ever stood for and contrary to everything that the New Democrats in this province ever stood for and, quite frankly, contrary to policy democratically developed during the course of New Democratic Party process at provincial council and conventions.
I consider that to be one of the very important qualities of the New Democratic Party and that is that its policy doesn't come from smoke-filled back rooms or the corporate boardrooms of Bay Street, but it comes from the convention floor as a result of democratic and open debate, just like the convention provincial council this coming weekend in Gananoque, I'm confident, will involve open and democratic debate, and I look forward to that.
So you see, common pause day was important not only to New Democrats but it was important to the people who prevailed upon New Democrats to elect them, working women and men, hardworking women and men, members of families, members of communities across this province.
We made a commitment to the church communities like the church community in Welland and Thorold. I agree with the proposition that Sunday shopping isn't going to end the role of the churches in our communities, but I tell you it's but one more hurdle for their continued positive role of leadership.
We made a commitment to the church communities that we would protect Sunday as a common pause day and as a day for people to participate in the religious ceremonies in communities, Welland and Thorold and others like them and, beyond mere church hours, to participate in the celebration that attends that ritual, be it dinners at St John the Baptist Hungarian Catholic Church on a Sunday evening, because, you see, if those women have to work on Sundays at the Zellers or at the Woolco or what have you, as they are being required to do now, they can't participate in that community event, which is very important to the role of their church in their lives, in their family lives and in the life of the community. You see, I made a promise to the church community in Welland-Thorold, and that is that I would fight to preserve, to create and preserve, a common pause day, and I'm doing my best to keep that promise.
Family: You see, I come from a community, Welland and Thorold, where families are still very important, where people's lives are as complex as they've ever been, where people are working as hard as they've ever worked, when indeed they can work, when jobs are available to them. I tell you, a common pause day is very important to those people so they can spend time with their spouses, with their children, with their parents or grandparents, so they can spend time in fellowship with their neighbours and friends. I tell you, Bill 38, this legislation, attacks that fellowship, that sense of community, that sense of family that so many people are working so hard to sustain under very difficult circumstances.
I have no doubt that the family will survive wide-open Sunday shopping, but, I tell you, the family is under sufficient attack now that yet more hurdles, more burdens, for that institution to have to overcome are less than welcome and nowhere near desirable.
Workers: The sad reality is that the prospect of any legislation that will prevent retail workers from being called upon to work on Sunday is minuscule. You know it. You're darned right you know it, and every thinking person in this community and in this province knows it. You only have to have a little bit of experience with the oh, so many ways to skin a cat that oh, so many employers can utilize.
I agree there are retail workers out there who are represented by effective and significant trade union organizations like the Retail Wholesale Union and like UFCW, two movements, two representatives of significant numbers of working women and men, who look to this government to keep its promise to create and preserve a common pause day, mind you. They believed us. They believed us when we told them that we would fight for a common pause day. They believed us. Now this government introduces legislation, now this bill introduces Bill 38, which is a complete contradiction of everything the New Democrats have ever said inside and outside this Legislature.
Far more important are those unorganized retail workers, the ones who don't belong to collective bargaining units, the ones who are all that much more vulnerable, who don't have business agents and who don't have shop stewards and chief stewards and who don't have contracts. That's the vast majority of retail workers, and, I tell you, the vast majority of those are women. They don't have the protection of a union, you understand. They don't have the protection of a union. They look to this government to protect them, and this government has failed those unorganized retail workers as much as it's failed -- more so than it's failed -- the organized retail workers.
I tell you, the introduction of Bill 38 is not a proud day for New Democrats as a government here in the province of Ontario because, you see, those unorganized retail workers are, as often as not, women who work in the supermarkets and in the retail stores and in the big chain stores. They don't have the same power as the bosses; we know that. They needed government to come to their help, to come to their aid, to shelter them from the power and, as often as not -- because you're talking about sometimes big retail chains that are just corporate entities that don't have real personalities, that aren't really people.
They're corporate bodies that don't care. They don't care about families, they don't care about community, they don't care about the church, they care about profits. Those retail workers looked to us for shelter, for assistance, for protection, and we've denied those people that shelter, that assistance and that protection. We have forsaken them.
Small business: Let's talk about small business for a minute, because I heard a whole lot said here about choice. Choice when, by God, during the committee hearings there were those big, big shopping plaza developers, the ones who wanted wide-open Sunday shopping, the ones who really don't give a tinker's dam about a common pause day or about families or about church or about community, who care about profits, where they came to the committee and talked about people's right to shop.
They said, "How dare New Democrats interfere with people's right to shop?" These same big plaza developers told the committee how shopping can be a family affair, how it can be quality time with your children. Of course they want you to take your kids with you to the supermarket or to the department store. Just keep that wallet open. These people have no interest, the big plaza developers, in church, in family, in community. They're interested in the bottom line, the dollars and cents.
Small business: Let's talk about small business, because I tell you this legislation is an attack on small business, real small business which we know and were told so many times by so many people, and it's true: Small business, the new employer in this province and in this country, is as often as not -- oh, I don't mean small businesses the way the Canadian Federation of Independent Business means, 200 non-union workers making minimum wage in a sweatshop. I'm talking about the vast majority of small businesses that are family-run service shops or retail shops.
I tell you, even today people down in Welland stop me and talk to me about the small business my grandparents ran over on Crowland Avenue during the 1940s, a small grocery store, or the small, family-run business that my parents ran and that their kids worked in throughout the course of the 1960s and into the 1970s.
You see, these are the small businesses that are already working six days a week, and if they're compelled to maintain their market share to remain competitive against the big chains that have no hesitation in hiring people at minimum wage, unskilled people as often as not, untrained people, when family business is forced to remain open seven days a week to compete, as it is in this current climate, I tell you those small businesses simply don't have the physical and emotional energy to sustain their enterprises.
I've talked to the small, family-run businesses in the cities of Welland and Thorold that resisted for as long as they could until this government in the fall, early winter of last year said, "No, we'll abandon the law, we'll ignore the law and we'll create wide-open Sunday shopping," even though it hadn't been debated yet in this Legislature.
I've talked to the small businesses that resisted as much as they could, that wanted their families to have Sunday as a day off because they're already working six days a week, that wanted their employees, as often as not just a few, just a handful, to have Sunday off because they're already working six days a week.
But no, to retain their market share in those small communities, so typical of communities here in the province of Ontario, they've now been forced to open Sundays too, so those families have no time with each other. Those small business people, those entrepreneurs who do so much for our communities, our province and indeed our country have no day of rest. That's what wide-open Sunday shopping does to small business, let me tell you.
Go talk to them. Go talk to them yourself. Go talk to Elio DiFelice in downtown Thorold. You know, the cowboy boot shop. Talk to Elio and his children who work so hard six days a week and who are deathly afraid that continued wide-open Sunday shopping could well mean the end of a very prosperous small enterprise, because there's just no way that family can put in any more hours. You see, they're already putting in six days a week. There's just no way that Elio and his wife and his sons can put in any more time because they're not like a Woolco or a Zellers. It's not big enough to hire more, yet it's more than large enough to support that family and their children.
Talk to Pat and Gail Noonan down at George's Home Hardware, down at the south end of King Street, already working six days a week with their daughter, with a couple of employees. I tell you, there simply isn't any more time in their lives to work seven days a week. These people are deathly afraid of the impact of wide-open Sunday shopping because that could mean one more small business shut down here in the province of Ontario.
These folks deserve better than that, especially from this government, because these folks had high expectations of the government. Oh, not bold expectations that were somehow plucked out of air, but expectations that were based on the promises that we made.
They expect government to engage in puffery, of course. They expect politicians to indulge themselves in the more than occasional hyperbole. Why, there are people all over this Legislature who engage in bouts of hyperbole. But outright dishonesty is something that no voter should ever have to expect. Outright betrayal is something that no member of the electorate should ever be subjected to, and it's been going on for too long here in the province of Ontario, and I tell you, people are tired of it. People have had it. They don't want any more of saying one thing then and another thing now. They want people to do what they said they were going to do. They want people to keep their promises that they made during the course of election campaigns.
I tell you, the Liberal government suffered mightily at the hands of the electorate as a result of its cavalier and uncaring attitude towards working people, retail workers and small business people and its having caved in, as it undoubtedly did, to the big plaza developers and the big corporate chains for whom Sunday shopping means diddly.
I'll tell you what, Speaker, this government wants to amend this legislation to make sure that the corporate offices that own those chain stores have to stay open Sunday too and that the presidents and vice-presidents of those companies have to work Sunday too, instead of being on their yachts up in Muskoka, out on some dock sipping whatever it is that high-priced executives from those corporate bodies sip on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon in Muskoka. Why then the folks down in Welland might have a little bit of a different perspective on this. But you know, those high-priced executives aren't going to be working Sundays; the hardworking retail workers of the community are.
You know, I'm surprised to hear people in this Legislature talk about the kind of messages they've received over the course of the last several months or indeed even year, because the messages I'm getting as recently as the Victoria Day parade -- just a little one, just a little parade in downtown Welland, from up around Page Drive over to the baseball park, a whole bunch of little kids on their tricycles and bicycles, with their parents accompanying them. You know, it was remarkable that more than a few of those people were retail workers who in the course of that brief walk with their little kids on those tricycles and bicycles were telling me about what was happening in the large chains in Welland when it came to retail workers, protection for workers, the right not to work on Sunday. What a crock. It simply doesn't exist.
Like I said, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Every employee has learned that, every employer has learned it as well. The only protection for retail workers is going to be to defeat Bill 38 and return to a system of regulation which ensures that, yes, there is some fairness, because it really is about fairness, isn't it, Speaker? Huh? Fairness. You know that.
It's about fairness for workers, it's about fairness for small business people and it's about fairness for the electorate, because how can this government call itself fair when it introduces legislation which contradicts the commitment that this government and its candidates in the last election made to voting people here in the province of Ontario?
I understand that maybe in downtown Toronto there were people for whom wide-open Sunday shopping means diddly-squat. I understand that. But I tell you, downtown Toronto is not the province of Ontario, not by a long shot, and I tell you, the hardworking, churchgoing, family people of Welland-Thorold are far more representative that any condo dweller in Harbourfront. I tell you that right now, Speaker: far more representative of the real Ontario.
Once again, like I said earlier, one of the sad things is when you look out the windows of this building, you don't see any of those workplaces. You don't see any factories. You don't see any farmers' fields. You don't see any unemployed. You don't even see the homeless. They are hidden away over on Yonge Street in the alleyways, hidden by the huge steel, glass and chrome towers of Bay Street.
The real Ontario, sadly, is hidden from the view of legislators working in this building, and I tell you, it's important that people reflect about why they're here, who they're representing and the sort of commitments they made.
But you know what's remarkable, Speaker? You know exactly what I'm going to say. I know you do. What's remarkable is that within a few short days and indeed well into weeks, this new government had the support, according to the polls, of over 60% of the electorate here in the province of Ontario. What that meant is that a whole lot of people, even though they didn't vote for New Democrats, even though they may not have necessarily agreed with all of the policies of the New Democratic Party, thought that maybe, just maybe, by God hopefully, because Lord knows there have been too many years, decades of aloof, arrogant, disinterested government, why, over 60% of the people in this province, notwithstanding that a big chunk of them hadn't voted for New Democrats, thought highly of this government and I believe had a new hope for a new future and a new style of government and of policymaking here in the province of Ontario.
This hasn't been a bad government. It's been as good as any of the governments prior to it. The problem is, that's not good enough for the people of Ontario, because they expected and continue to expect far more, and I say that this government and its members have an opportunity right now to indicate that yes, it means what it says and individual members mean what they say when they're knocking on that door come election time.
The problem is, what do these same people say next time around, 1995, when they go knocking on doors? How do they distinguish themselves from the other candidates? Good looks alone won't do it; Lord knows I've tried. When they knock on that door, how do they distinguish themselves? Do they tell people that, "Well, here's a politician you can trust"? Do they encounter Diogenes with his lamp and indeed have Diogenes stop and say, "Behold, an honest person"? Or do they simply become homogenized and become one like the other so that we create a level of cynicism, as there is cynicism now, a level of frustration, and there is frustration now, a level of despair, and there is despair now, because people throw their hands up and say, "It's no use voting for any of 'em, because you can't trust any of 'em to mean what they say or keep their word once they've said it."
Well, I say I'm voting against Bill 38, because Bill 38 isn't what I ever stood for in the course of an election campaign. It isn't what I stood for when I sat and stood and spoke out as a member of the opposition. It isn't what Mel Swart stood for, and it isn't what virtually every New Democratic Party candidate stood for in the course of the last election, and I say it's important for people to say what they mean, mean what they say and by God keep their word.
Mr McLean: I appreciate the remarks from the member for Welland-Thorold tonight. I appreciated when he started off with the letter that he received from Mrs Farlinger. I replied to that letter today, and I thought she made some very good points in that letter and I encouraged her and other people that they should do the same thing, because here we should be debating issues and what's going on in this Legislature. As the member has said, I hope that she's listening tonight.
When this government ran, it ran on a common pause day. The member very eloquently made the issues around that, in that election. What happened? Bill 38 attacks community and family, as he had mentioned. What's going on with regard to the people of this province and what input do they have with regard to Bill 38?
I sat on the committees in this province and I listened to the workers across this province when they were appearing before the committee with regard to this legislation a few years ago. They were strictly opposed to it. The member tonight raised that issue. When I go to Connor Tire Service in the Esso station in Orillia on most Friday mornings and talk to the people at Connor Tire, we have a discussion about what's going on with regard to Ontario.
Those people in the small communities can pretty well tell you what most of the communities feel and what was stated here earlier this evening with regard to this bill that was brought in on June 3, 1992, I believe. It's now over a year. There was legislation on the books. They were not upheld, the laws of this province. This bill has not had second or third reading. It has not had royal assent. Therefore, it is not law. Yet this government continually says to the people, "You can go out and you can break the law." Is that right?
I think the comments that the member made tonight with regard to the input that he's getting from his constituents -- as other members have made the same comments: the member for Carleton, the member for Wellington, and I enjoyed the comments from the member for Brant-Haldimand, I believe, with regard to the comments that he had made with regard to the law.
Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): I enjoyed the member from Welland-Thorold's comments made this evening. I want to commiserate with him with respect to the matter of a broken campaign promise, and that has repercussions, I'm sure you will understand, for all of us. When a politician breaks his or her promise, when a promise is broken in a political context, we all pay the price ultimately. Our public does not distinguish between parties. Frequently, when it comes to broken promises, we're all tarred with the same brush; it casts aspersions on all of our integrities.
So in that respect I commiserate and sympathize with the member, but I want to disagree with respect to his contention that somehow it is the function of government, through Sunday shopping legislation, to hold our province's families together. I disagree. I think it is a very sad commentary, in fact, if we, in order to keep the families together in this province, are relying on the government to produce legislation which somehow deals with the way they're going to spend their time on Sundays. I would suggest, although time does not permit, that there are many other ways in which our government can lend some value to families and to make contributions in other ways to the traditions of the family and the manner in which time is spent together.
In particular, the member has raised a number of issues with which I can sympathize but, to repeat, the function of government, surely, is not through a legislation controlling Sunday shopping as to bring families together, and I simply cannot agree with that premise.
Mr Sterling: I'd like to comment as well on the member for Welland-Thorold's speech. One of the things that I admire of this particular member is that he's been able to dance along that fine line whereby he's been able to express his own personal opinion and hold to some of his own personal values and live within a government which, as far as I'm concerned, has just about bastardized everything that they stood for before they were in government.
Tonight, when you return home or turn on your radios and listen to the election results that are coming in from Alberta now, which is returning a majority Progressive Conservative government, you'll find that what you in the New Democratic Party in Ontario have done to the New Democratic Party movement across all of Canada is hurting, because you're wiped off the map in Alberta. That's what they're predicting right now. It's unfortunate.
I think the member for Ottawa South puts forward a good point; that is, when so many promises, so many policies which this party stood for, the governing party, have been so badly broken -- you haven't just strayed away from them but have gone completely contrary to everything you stood for before -- you really do make it hard on all politicians in this province to stand up in the next election and say anything with any credibility. It is really a sorry state that your party has put forward in its whole reversal on the Sunday shopping issue.
Mr Kormos: I appreciate the commentary. Look, I indicated at the very beginning of my comments that I knew not everybody agreed with me, but I tell you, I'm speaking clearly on behalf of a significant number of people in Welland-Thorold who feel strongly about the need for a common pause day; not as the sole nurturer of family, but by God, families have received enough kicks in the butt lately that they don't need yet another obstacle; not as the sole nurturer of the church community, as the churches are quite strong and vital, but by God, they don't need any more hurdles. Again, clearly, retail workers in the context we spoke of do need that very specific protection; so do small business people.
Let me say this, though: I give these comments today as a backbencher, perhaps as pure a backbencher as could come from the government caucus. Why, I believe I'm the purest backbencher here: I'm the only one of 72 members who doesn't receive any stipend above my base salary. That puts me in a very unique position, not only of receiving the lowest income of all my caucus, but puts me in a position where the people to whom I'm beholden are the people of Welland-Thorold.
Like I told you before, I know the Premier can put people in or out of cabinet, but the people of Welland-Thorold put me in or out of this Legislature. I know the Premier's office can put people in or out of nice-paid positions, but I tell you once again, the people of Welland-Thorold put me in or out of this Legislative Assembly.
I tell you, I'm proud to be able to speak on their behalf, and I am indeed pleased with the nature of the debate around Bill 38. It is because we do not have that traditional, rigid caucus discipline that this is as non-partisan and free and candid and frank a debate as it is, and I suspect that people watching are very pleased about that.
Mr Ramsay: I'm pleased to follow the member for Welland-Thorold, because I also am extremely pleased that we have a debate, one of the first debates I can remember in a long time, that has really been non-partisan. We have experienced speeches now from all three political parties represented in the House with varying opinions from each of those parties. I think that's how you're going to see the vote, when it happens, be expressed also, as I believe all three party leaders have allowed their caucuses a free vote. I'm a big believer in free votes and I wish that would occur more often.
I must say that I will be supporting this bill. I respect very much the views of the previous speaker on this particular bill and issue. I don't agree with him at all on it, but I certainly respect his views, that he is speaking for his constituency. That's very important. I think if the parliamentary tradition is to thrive and to flourish, we need more debates such as this. The hour is late, but I think it is worth it.
I find it hard personally to become as passionate as the previous speaker on this particular issue, because for me it's a non-issue. It's really non-consequential, as far as I'm concerned, in the real scheme of things. I believe that my job here as a legislator at Queen's Park should be, especially now with the type of economy we have, dealing with issues of much more consequence, issues that I think are much more important to my constituents.
My constituents are having trouble finding work to keep their families together. The issue is not that they have an opportunity to go shopping. Many of the families I represent don't even have enough money to go shopping, the luxury to do that on Sunday. That's really not an issue for them. But I think the principle behind the issue is important. It's worth reflecting upon and speaking about, even though the hour is late.
When I hear some of the speakers tonight speaking on this subject, it sounds to me like they are harking back to days that maybe would reflect more 1893 rather than 1993. I guess those were good old days because they were very simple. First of all, most of us who lived in this place at that time were Christian, so we went to a place of worship, and most of us did that on Sundays in 1893. Whether you think that's a good or bad thing, that's not what the majority does today. We can have a debate on that, whether that's good or not. We're a very different society than we were in 1893, and I guess it made sense to preserve those days and for civil law to uphold what we considered to be God's law at that time, that Sunday should be, as it says in the Bible, the day of rest.
I guess it is safe to say that we have moved on from that. Whether for good or bad, that's what society is. Even this government, which campaigned against Sunday shopping, found, when it got into office, that really the majority of the people in Ontario felt otherwise. I must say I applaud the government for changing its mind, for going with the will of the people, because what is the use of putting forward a law that is unenforceable? Histories of governments have found that it is impossible to bring forward laws that are unenforceable, and the Prohibition era is one example of that. In government, we find that basically our populations are usually much more ahead of us than we are as legislators. I think the Sunday shopping issue is that.
Many of my rural colleagues from all parties are actually wondering why I'm going to vote for this bill. They think that somebody coming from a rural part of the province should be voting against this bill. I must say, when I drive by Timiskaming Square in New Liskeard I find the parking lot is very near full; obviously, there are some people in my riding who care for shopping on Sunday.
Quite frankly, I resent people standing up in their place and saying this bill is an attack on the family. It's not an attack on the family. All it is is permissive legislation. What it does is allow people the freedom to choose, as some of the speakers have very eloquently articulated before me, whether they want to go to shop or not.
It allows, because we are not changing the Labour Relations Act, people to work on Sunday or not, if they choose to. We know many people who want to work on Sundays and many who don't. In the type of economy we have today, with the number of people who are employable and want to seek work, there's lots of opportunity to either, if it's your choice, refuse to work on Sunday or work if you want to or have the necessity to work on Sunday. That opportunity is there.
It's not really an attack on families at all. In fact, I haven't seen, in the year that we've had wide-open Sunday shopping, that the world has changed. Ontario really hasn't changed. Families who go to church are still going to church, and if they maybe went to lunch afterwards they are still doing that. They're still going to church or family picnics in the afternoon. Those who wish to go shopping are doing that or going to a movie. Life really hasn't changed very much in Ontario.
It has maybe changed for some people and I do have some of those concerns. I'm very sympathetic to those people who have invested very heavily in corner store operations, the convenience stores that, by law before, were the only stores that were open. They invested much in their infrastructure to provide the convenience for those of us who wish to procure items on a 24-hour basis, seven days a week. Those people are hurting and I would encourage the government to go a step further. I think the Quebec government solved this problem in balancing the rights and the privileges of small entrepreneurs and the big stores in Quebec by allowing the small corner stores to sell beer and wine. When I look at the society across our border, the province of Quebec, I don't see that that society has changed in any great degree. It's not that much different from Ontario, only that it is a more liberal society and a freer society. The government there tends to treat its population more like adults. Rather, we in Ontario have treated our population like children in the past.
The history of the Ontario government has been one of paternalism. I think now is a chance to start to show that we should be able to treat our constituents as adults, as equals, and stop coming to this place thinking we know what's best for our constituents. It's time that we be more permissive to the people we represent. I think it's time we start making a stand on that and speaking up for that and stop being afraid of particular groups in society that feel everybody should be adhering to their particular scheme of things, the way they see the world.
We've got to open up Ontario to the world, as we have in our immigration policy. We've told the people of the world basically, "You're all welcome; come to Ontario," that we've got a pluralistic, cosmopolitan society, but yet we have in some regards very old-fashioned, puritanical rules that really represent another era, another day of Ontario life, maybe the day, as I said, of 1893 and not of 1993.
I think it's time we sort of opened up the light into Ontario rule books and the law books and the legislation that we have passed over the years here. Let's open it up and allow people to be free. I would say to the government that we should allow people to be more free than even what we're doing here today in Bill 38. That is just a small opening of freedom for people in this society. We should be moving beyond that, and I would encourage the government to do that.
There have been many comments and some people in the House today have wanted to make this a partisan debate and, yes, in the Liberal government we did have great difficulties with this bill. It was a very tough issue, and I'd like to talk a little bit about that and why we came in at that time with the municipal option.
I'd like to also say to the members why today I can stand in my place and say I am willing to support the government in moving beyond the position of municipal option that I had supported previously. I'm not criticizing the government for changing its mind today; I think the politicians have to be free to be evolving in their thought processes and changing their minds.
I think what we were trying to do, about six years ago now, with the municipal option was to move from being paternalistic as a central Ontario government and start to empower municipalities, rather than holding all the power in the central government. That's what we were trying to do. We said that Ontario is a very vast and different and diverse province. There are very different demands and needs in the various communities across Ontario, so what was maybe good for Fort Frances in northwestern Ontario or Kirkland Lake in my municipality was maybe very different for a downtown riding of Fort York in Toronto or Niagara Falls or the city of Windsor.
I think that, for the time of day, was probably the right thing to do, that the municipalities, while maybe not all liking that responsibility, understood what we were trying to do, that Ontario was a very different place, that it wasn't the homogenous society that we were in 1893 and that this was the best we could do at that time.
I think today what the government is trying to do, and what I'm supporting and proposed earlier in our Liberal leadership race of a few years ago, is that now it is time to start to empower people as individuals, that we should empower people to be able to make their own choice, not even allow their municipal leaders to make that choice for them but basically empower people to make the decisions whether they want to shop or not on a Sunday, whether they want to open their stores or not on a Sunday or whether they wanted to work or not on a Sunday.
I know that on the cross-border shopping issue, the devaluation of the Canadian dollar in comparison to where it stood a couple of years ago is maybe a big factor of why there's not as much cross-border shopping as there once was. The fact that there's that greater sense of freedom in Ontario, that now in Ontario we can shop at our own stores, I think is part of that. I think it's part of why there's been some reduction in cross-border shopping, that people now have the freedom to go shopping in Ontario on Sundays.
What's very interesting about that is that when we do go shopping, as we know -- and my dear mother will know in Oakville if she's watching tonight -- shopping's a bit of a recreational activity for many of us. Many times we go shopping and we don't actually make purchases, but we go as a time to be with friends and be with family, to go and look at what's new in the stores and to inform ourselves, as consumers, of what's new.
Many times we don't actually buy, make purchases, but we enjoy the activity, we enjoy the outing. It's nice to get out of our homes, especially in our long winters, especially in northern Ontario, and go to our enclosed malls, and it's become kind of a social activity. It's not just sort of straight commercialism but kind of a social gathering for people. The shopping centres today are kind of our town squares of the day of before and they're sort of gathering places, especially in our climatic conditions.
We sort of enjoy that activity and do some of that on Sundays, and I think just having that freedom in the last year, I really haven't noticed that the province of Ontario has changed all that much. I think, if anything, in one very small incremental way, the people of Ontario have had a greater sense of freedom in their lives.
Before I close, I'd like to certainly encourage the government to maybe go further if it can to give greater freedom to individuals. This may clash with some of that basic philosophy of a left-wing government, the collective versus individual liberty, but I think this is an issue of individual liberty and I applaud the government for embracing that. I know many in the government party have difficulty with that, as many in our caucus will have difficulty with that, I find, who will vote against the government, and I suppose that to be the same with the third party.
It's going to be an open debate, as it is tonight, and it's going to be an open vote. What's going to be very interesting about that is we don't know where the vote's going to go. Usually we can predict when caucuses are whipped, and our whip right here from Mississauga West is beside us.
We certainly know, with a majority government, where the votes will go. I guess in this one we don't know. I'm just telling you that I will vote with the government on this bill when it comes up. I support this, but it will be interesting to see what does happen, and whether it's a vote of confidence or not, I don't know.
I guess the previous speaker was asked that question by the member for Carleton this evening, and I guess an interesting question it is. It may not be viewed as a vote of confidence, but it's not for me to judge. One of the table officers is calling now, either for pizza or for that opinion I'm not sure, but he's certainly calling out for some sort of assistance. I don't know. I like the Hawaiian myself and I hope that's what's coming in, but it is late of the hour and we can even shop by phone, and I think that's a good thing.
I think it's been a very good debate. I'm pleased that all the members who are participating have done that, really, one of the first times I can remember, in a non-partisan way. I think that's excellent. We're going to have people from all sides voting in different ways on this issue.
Mr Ramsay: It's kind of scary, the Treasurer says, but I wish we sort of had more of that because that's what is, I guess, the essence of a true democracy, and maybe this could be the start of better things to come.
Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): This is an issue that we've dealt with for some time at the municipal level as well as having dealt with it here at the provincial level, because of course the decisions that are made here affect very directly the many communities in Ontario. That's where a lot of the complaints come up and a lot of the problems are identified, so we certainly hear about it.
I must say that the situation is very different for different communities. I know that there are people in all caucuses here today who will be supporting this bill and people who will be opposing it, and a lot of that, I think, reflects the different nature of the communities we represent.
In Metropolitan Toronto, for example, in the area I represent, the makeup of the community has changed considerably over the last number of years. There are people from many different countries who have chosen the Metropolitan Toronto area, the riding of Don Mills, to make their home, and with people coming from many different countries, many different cultures, there's obviously a difference of opinion and different expectations with regard to an issue like this.
There is one school, for example, in East York that had children from over 90 different backgrounds, over 90 different countries, and you can well imagine that in a United Nations type of environment such as that, there would be many cultures and many different approaches to life.
It's been interesting that through the debates we've had in the past when people were talking about this issue, one of the points that has come up -- and I must say up front that I will be supporting that this bill carry along, so I'll be supporting the second reading of the bill. There may be a few amendments that I'll take a close look at. I assume the bill's going to committee and there could well be amendments at the committee. There may be a few of those that I'll have a close look at, but I'll be supporting it at this point.
Throughout the discussions, I suppose the kinds of reasons that have come up in terms of looking at the bill and supporting the bill -- we talk about a pause day. The member for Welland-Thorold has raised this as a central part of his discussion, that there should be a pause day and that a pause day is important. I suppose I wouldn't take too much issue with him: To many people the concept of a pause day is a very important one.
During the discussions we've had, it's been raised time and time again that there are so many people in our society, in our communities, who work on this pause day already that perhaps this isn't as significant an issue as it was a number of years ago: the nurses, the doctors, the police, the fire, the ambulance; people involved in the transportation system, bus drivers and people working on trains and in the airport, gas stations. There are just so many different sectors: the entertainment sector, sports, people at the SkyDome, theatres, out at the zoo, the Canadian National Exhibition, and on and on it goes.
Mr David Johnson: Fifty percent of industry, I'm told. That's not necessarily from a totally reliable source, but I assume the honourable member has given me the straight information. That's one situation that has certainly come up and been brought to my attention.
In the original instance, if you were to go back many, many years ago, I think two centuries, the control of shopping on Sunday basically emanated from religious observance. But in 1975, it switched as an act to regulate holiday closings for retail business. In that particular act it switched to a pause day, but perhaps now, in this day and age, again we're looking at another change, and we're looking at the real possibility in our society today that we shouldn't have that kind of control and people should have choice and businesses should be allowed to be open.
One of the key factors that has always come up during this debate as well concerns economic issues. When you look at the economics of the issue, first and foremost, in this area and I suspect in Welland and Thorold as well -- look at the tourist trade in Metropolitan Toronto. I can tell you that over the years the Metro Toronto Convention and Visitors Association has strongly supported the concept of Sunday shopping because the association recognizes that conventions coming in, delegates coming in, add a great deal to the economy of Metropolitan Toronto. They spend money on many different activities: shopping, dining, transportation and many different activities. We need to be in a competitive position to attract conventions and visitors. They create jobs, they create wealth, they're important to the economic wellbeing of our society.
I must admit that some of my statistics may be a little out of date, but in 1989 there were 17 million visitors to Metropolitan Toronto through conventions and visitors coming into Metropolitan Toronto; 17 million people, which is about seven or eight times the population of Metropolitan Toronto. These people coming to Metropolitan Toronto spent $2.5 billion in the economy: $2.5 billion on accommodation, shopping, dining, all of those kinds of activities. The economic impact on Metropolitan Toronto, counting the ripple effect, was about $3.5 billion.
When we debate the budget that the Treasurer has brought in, we're concerned about the economic impact, we're concerned about the loss of jobs and we're concerned about the impact of higher taxation on the business community. Here is an activity -- people coming in, conventions and visitors coming to Metropolitan Toronto -- that is working the other way around: creating wealth, creating jobs and getting the economy going. The question is, what do we do to support this kind of activity?
Frankly, one of the answers is Sunday shopping. What I'm told is that many of the conventions that come in, conventions such as the Shriners or Kiwanis or many other groups, start on Sunday. Sunday is the first day, and they carry from Sunday through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. That is a common kind of convention within Metropolitan Toronto. Sunday is the first day they come, they have time on their hands and they are ready to buy, they are ready to shop, they are ready to patronize the stores that are nearby. If the stores are closed, that is a lost opportunity, but if the stores are open, there's an opportunity to buy and there's an opportunity to spend money. That money creates jobs and opportunities within our community.
I might say that shopping accounts for about 20% of visitor spending, which in the case of Metropolitan Toronto is over half a billion dollars a year in the retail stores. A great deal of this shopping would be done on a Sunday if the stores are permitted to be open.
There have been a number of studies done. One was accomplished by Goldfarb Consultants. They interviewed people in Boston, Detroit, London, Ontario; they interviewed people in 14 other cities in the United States and Ontario. They asked what the important things were in terms of visiting, what sorts of things would be important to you if you were to visit. The number one activity that came out was shopping. So if we're going to expect to attract visitors to Metropolitan Toronto and our other communities, then we're going to need to promote things like Sunday shopping.
Mr David Johnson: Well, since I'm being heckled from the other side, I'm going to speak to some of the pieces of legislation that have been brought in in the past. Let me comment on the legislation that came in under the Liberals, to start with. This was a suggestion that would have delegated the authority on Sunday shopping to the municipalities. The municipalities would have been given the responsibility. This was a piece of art, this was. It would have allowed, for example, the region of York or the region of Peel to have Sunday shopping but not necessarily Metropolitan Toronto.
It sounded very democratic, but it was the old domino effect, and it would have been a complete disaster had it been implemented. What would have happened was that one municipality would have implemented it and then the merchants located in the next municipality would have been put in a dreadful disadvantage with regard to competition, and there would have been no choice but to implement it in the next municipality. So it would have swept across this province, but it would have done so in a way that would have been very harmful to the business community and it would have created a great deal of conflict.
Thank heavens that isn't the kind of piece of legislation that we have at present. However, the first effort by the NDP, I must say, wasn't much better. The first effort by the NDP, the government in power today, was an act that again essentially would have left the responsibility to the municipalities, but under a number of conditions.
First of all, you would have to define a geographic area and within a geographic area you could have Sunday shopping. But there's a set of five criteria that would have had to have been met to define a geographic area as eligible for Sunday shopping. The area would have to have historical or natural attractions, or it would have to have cultural or ethnic attractions, or it would have to have a concentration of hospitality services, or it would have to have access to hiking, boating and camping, or it would have to have fairs, festivals and other special attractions, and somebody would have to sort through all that and the geographic area would have to satisfy two of those conditions.
For larger stores of over 7,500 square feet, that wasn't the end of the story. They would further have to satisfy another set of criteria before those stores could be open on Sunday. One of the provisions was that they could provide goods or services necessary to tourist activities in an area served by the establishment. Again, there was a definition of tourism. Tourism involved people who would come to that particular area from over 40 kilometres.
So this was a tremendously complicated piece of legislation and it baffled the municipalities as to how anyone could sort through this and determine what was a geographic area that would be eligible for Sunday shopping and, secondly, what sort of businesses within that geographic area would be eligible to be open on Sunday. Thank heavens that didn't go ahead.
Now in Metropolitan Toronto we decided that, in the event that it did go ahead, we had to have some mechanism in place, but no municipal bureaucracy could sort through this, so the approach that we were essentially forced to use was to hire consultants to consider all the applications, to consider what would be a geographic area, to consider what businesses would be eligible, at a considerable cost. We had to look at a fee of perhaps $1,500 to $2,000 for each application to sort through this mess. It collapsed. It was just unmanageable.
That then brings us up to the present situation, I guess, in the sense that the government's first approach was just a complete disaster. It couldn't be implemented; it couldn't be managed; it involved public deputations; it was just a complete disaster. At least, thank heavens, the government took a step back and it said, "We can't go ahead with this," and announced in June 1992 that it would be bringing forward legislation to permit Sunday shopping.
I think the approach is one that frankly had to be taken because no matter what side of this issue you're on, the approaches up to this point have been unmanageable. The Liberal approach wouldn't have worked and the previous NDP legislation was unmanageable. I think we're down to a situation now where we either support Sunday shopping or we oppose Sunday shopping. There's nothing in between.
I must say that the vast majority of the people of southern Ontario support the concept of Sunday shopping. Any poll that's taken, including a poll in the Niagara region, will show that three quarters of the people are in support of Sunday shopping. It'll show that large proportions of people in fact have shopped on Sunday and it'll show that large proportions of people, by far the vast majority, perhaps 80%, do not consider Sunday shopping to be detrimental to family life, for example, or detrimental to their communities. I think the time has come that we should carry through and look at this Sunday shopping bill, perhaps clean it up a little bit, but go ahead with it.
I might say that another reason that has been cited in the past concerns cross-border shopping, and this is an issue. For example, in the Niagara region, this is a major concern that many people were shopping on Sunday and still are shopping on Sunday but they're going across to the United States, and that money is being lost. In the border communities in Ontario, according to a study in 1991, the border communities were losing about $350 million in sales to cross-border shopping.
We can talk about corner stores. I have a lot of sympathy for corner stores and I think we should listen to what the people in the corner stores are saying. I understand from a speech before that many of these proprietors are losing money because Sunday shopping isn't being enforced at this point.
At the same time, I think we have to recognize that a great number of people are going to shop on a Sunday, and if they don't have the opportunity to shop here in Ontario, then they're going to go south to the United States. This money is going to go out of Ontario and out of Canada, and we're losing the benefits of that.
The same study estimates that in the whole province of Ontario, there has been about a billion dollars a year lost to cross-border shopping, in the border communities themselves about $350 million. But if you count the whole province of Ontario about a billion dollars a year is lost through cross-border shopping and about $50 million in taxes that the Treasurer may be interested in. This is quite a loss to our community and this is something that I think should weigh in terms of the decision on this matter.
For these reasons, I'm going to be supporting the bill, but I think it's a real shame that this bill was introduced almost one year ago today and it hasn't been pursued. This bill should have been in place years ago, at best. At least, since this bill has been introduced a year ago, I think it is wrong that the situation has taken us this long to deal with. It's wrong that businesses are put in a situation that, in effect, the law is such that they're not supposed to be open on Sunday, although they've been told that the law isn't going to be enforced. That's a temporary measure that I think we can understand in some cases, but to have the situation carry on for over a year now and with the likelihood of it carrying on for several more months, I think is simply unacceptable.
Frankly, it's a blotch on the record of this government that that has happened, but at any rate, the matter is before us now and needs to be dealt with. I'm going to support it. Those conclude my comments for this evening.
Mr McLean: I welcome the opportunity to comment briefly on the remarks made by the member for Don Mills. I want to say that what we have seen here in this Legislature with regard to the controversy that's gone on with this bill is that from the large metropolitan areas, they agree with the legislation, and from a lot of the small ridings, they don't agree with the legislation.
I want to bring to your attention, Mr Speaker, that the previous speaker from the NDP -- I got a phone call while I was in my office just a few minutes ago that indicated the speaker he was speaking into had been muffed. His speech did not come through very well and they figure somebody was tampering with his speaker. Well, I can understand that because they brought in new rules for this Legislature so that the very same member would have only a half an hour to speak. I can understand why they have muffed his speaker, in order that he could only speak for half an hour. I would hope that you would check that, Mr Speaker.
I want to say that southern Ontario wants Sunday shopping, as the member has just said. Probably around the Golden Horseshoe there's about six million people who want Sunday shopping and the majority would say that. But perhaps in the rest of the province of Ontario, the majority may say they don't want it. What do you do in that case?
In this Legislature, we have had a great debate with regard to Sunday shopping, but there was a budget brought in not very long ago, and do you know something? There has been no debate allowed on that budget. I cannot believe, with the amount of years I've been here and the amount of days we used to spend dealing with the budget, that it has been cancelled. I cannot understand that.
I cannot understand why the Solicitor General of this province is allowing this bill to sit as long as it has without debate, without input from the public, in order to let the people go on and break the law until this new one has been completed.
Mr Kormos: That was certainly news to me that somehow the microphone wasn't working properly. Perhaps, Speaker, you could inquire into that and perhaps tomorrow afternoon, if indeed the sound transmission was ineffective, I could have my 30 minutes over again. I would be pleased to repeat what I said earlier this evening.
Interesting comments by the new member for Don Mills, because he has, with all due respect, tended to confuse some of the issues here. We're talking about the Retail Business Holidays Act. We're not talking about upsetting what has traditionally been accessible to tourists, for instance, under the pre-existing Retail Business Holidays Act. We're not talking, of course, about police officers and hospital workers. The fact is that it's very difficult to determine when a traumatic injury is going to happen. It's not so difficult to determine when you're going to go buy your fridge or your chesterfield. Indeed, it happens seven days a week that the police are called upon for assistance, but it isn't seven days a week that you have to go down to the hardware store to purchase some machine bolts. So there's a real distinction to be made there.
The fact is that even under the old Retail Business Holidays Act, before all this horrible mucking around happened with the last government with the legislation, there was wide access in tourist areas to the very sorts of retail and quasi-retail stores that tourists tended to purchase items in.
I don't know about Don Mills, but down in Welland, tourists don't buy fridges. Okay? Tourists don't tend to buy suits, and if they are inclined, they can wait till Monday, just like everybody else. Indeed, what a wonderful reason for them to stay overnight in one of the many fine hotels in the Welland-Thorold area.
Mr David Johnson: I guess, speaking as I've been directed by the member for Welland-Thorold, I certainly appreciate his comments. I actually was in his riding, as he may know, a couple of weeks ago, speaking to some of the faithful in his riding, and I know that he's very well respected in that area. But I must say that in terms of talking to the people I talked to in the Welland-Thorold area, I'm hearing a slightly different story from them than I'm hearing from the member tonight.
I mentioned that polls were taken in southern Ontario in a number of regions and I can say that in the Niagara region, 75% of the people were in support of Sunday shopping in the poll that was taken. That still leaves 25% that were opposed, but my recollection is that the member received more than that in the last election, I think; I imagine he did. But 75% of the people are in support, so I think he might be aware of that fact.
Mr David Johnson: -- or tourists, maybe that's possible, but tourists do shop for many other things, and they do shop for shirts and souvenir shirts and all sorts of things on Sunday. Many of the people who are shopping are going south into the United States. I think the member would find that if Sunday shopping continues, there's going to be a healthy impetus, some money into the economy of Welland-Thorold for the good of his community.
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I've been awaiting the day when I could discuss in this House the issue of Sunday shopping -- its the Retail Business Holidays Act, but Sunday shopping essentially -- for some period of time, because it's an issue about which I've felt very strongly for a number of years.
I have sat in this House for some 16 years. I have seen some significant changes in the shopping patterns in the province of Ontario, and I've seen three different political parties endeavour to wrestle with the very difficult problem of when people should be permitted to shop and when they should not be.
I was, earlier this evening, at the retirement of Mr Gord Smith, who was a physical education teacher of mine a number of years ago and a very good friend of mine, but I wanted to make sure I came back tonight, because the House is sitting tonight to debate this particular piece of legislation.
I want to indicate at the beginning of my remarks that I intend to vote against the legislation. It has always been my position. I understand that when people are in cabinet, they must adopt a certain position, that they must support a decision that is held by a government, and that means whether one agrees or disagrees, at the end of the day when there is a discussion in cabinet, if it's not an overwhelming issue that would compel a resignation, then one tends to acquiesce in the decision of the majority of cabinet, along with the Premier's views on this matter.
I have read with interest and heard with interest over the years the position which was advocated by the Premier of the province of Ontario, Mr Bob Rae, when he was in opposition. When he was at the conventions of the New Democratic Party, he spoke with some passion against a wide-open Sunday and against compelling people -- because that's essentially what happens -- to work on various holidays that many people take for granted in this province.
It's partially because of the strong views that were expressed by the Premier, a man for whom I have a good deal of respect, for the intellectual arguments he advanced and the emotion which he included in those arguments over the years. I could quote at some length the Premier of this province. I'm not going to spend a lot of time in this particular speech doing so, but needless to say, the Premier has asked pointed questions to both Conservatives and Liberals who were in power, and I was very much moved by the arguments the Premier has made over the years against a wide-open Sunday.
It's quite obvious to me that what has happened is that the government has read the polls. Anybody who thinks, by the way, in this time of restraint that the Premier and his cabinet are not polling at taxpayers' expense is dreaming in Technicolor. Of course they are, and that is something else that the Premier was adamantly opposed to in opposition.
He had an ethical and moral position against using taxpayers' dollars to poll and then not share the results of those polls with other members of the Legislature. If the New Democratic Party wishes to do it with their funds, that is certainly acceptable, but to use government funds is not acceptable, according to Mr Rae in his time in opposition. Of course he has changed his mind now.
But I suspect what has happened is that the government has done some polling, as the member for York East has suggested. The polls will say that if you ask the question the right way, in other words if you get the big grocery stores to have the pollster ask the question the right way, then you will get an answer that says people want to have the opportunity to shop on Sunday. If you say, however, "Would you like to work on Sunday?" then the results of that polling will be considerably different.
I happen to believe that we should not be governing by polls. They're interesting. One must take into consideration what the general feelings of the public are on any particular issue, but I think this is an issue where governments can show some leadership. In this case, the Premier has simply acquiesced to the polls and acquiesced because he doesn't feel it's worthwhile fighting this battle. I can understand that. I have seen other premiers who have had similar thoughts, that it simply isn't worth the battle that one has to go through.
I happen to like the fact that we in Ontario have had a common pause day. There are a lot of things I admire about the United States. The United States is a great country. It is an economic giant. It is an entrepreneurial country. It has a lot of assets that one can admire.
One of the things I have not admired about the United States is the overcommercialism which I see in that country. One of the things I have not admired over the years is the fact that one day of the week is the same as the rest of the days, that they haven't essentially had that common pause day, which I think is beneficial, particularly to family units but also to people right across the province. It is something that is different. It is something that is nice to have. It adds to the quality of life and our province to have that common pause day.
We have to look at who has to work if this bill goes through. Essentially, it's women, because women have many of the part-time jobs in the retail sector. It's a fact of life, if you look at the facts and figures, that it is often women, who are a second income, and often people who are working part-time, or at least not the full 40 hours a week, who are compelled to work.
The Minister of Labour can make an argument if he wants to that somehow there is legislation that is going to protect these people from having to work. We all know in this house that the company has a way of persuading people, of coercing people to work on holidays if the company wishes to do so, and if a person wishes to retain a job or gain a job with a commercial outlet, then that person is going to be compelled to work on holidays, including Sundays.
The second group of people who are very concerned, I think, are people who own family businesses. I have discussed this with many of them. They don't really employ too many people outside of the family. They would rather be open six days a week than seven days a week and have at least one day off. If this legislation goes through, there's going to be great pressure for them to keep their stores open.
I understand in the bill there's a provision which says that in large malls people will not be compelled to stay open if the other stores are open. I'll believe that when I see it. Again, there's a lot of pressure which is exerted, indirect pressure, which means that retail outlets that don't want to stay open are essentially going to be compelled to stay open in order to compete with others, in order to comply with the wishes of those who happen to run that particular mall.
But I want to go back to the people who work. Often part-time workers who are women do not have unions to protect them, and even those who have unions to protect them from unfair work practices -- often the union may not be strong enough or may not be able to exert the kind of strength because of the complexity of the issues that face those companies and these people are, in effect, compelled to work on Sunday.
It's nice for people to be able to sit down around the table and look at each other once during the week. It has been said that there is a lack of communication in families. Whether that can be substantiated or not, I don't know. But I would suggest that the passage of this bill, that the continuation in effect, because it's in effect, of wide-open Sundays and wide-open Sunday shopping is diminishing that opportunity, not eliminating but diminishing that opportunity for the family to get together, for friends to get together in an atmosphere other than the usual hustle and bustle that takes place the other six days of the week.
It is argued from time to time that in fact it is an economic benefit. I'm going to tell you something: I have only so much money to spend. I'm going to spend it in either seven days or six days. The amount of the money does not increase, the amount of the money out there is the same, but there are other increased costs in terms of overhead as we have a wide-open Sunday or a wide-open seven days a week or wide-open holidays.
There is an additional cost and that cost can be reflected in one of two things; that is, an increase in the prices of the products that people purchase or a decrease in the quality of the products and services that are provided. You have to save the money somehow.
A couple of people wrote good columns on this. Unfortunately, the material that I have here perhaps refers to 1991. The position seems to change yearly, and that, I must say, is not characteristic of this government alone; other governments have made those changes. But I thought Robert Sheppard wrote a good column on October 24, 1991. It is entitled as follows, "...And They Said Never on Sunday." I'm going to read some excerpts from it because I think it's relevant to this particular debate. He starts off by saying:
"To say that the NDP in Ontario was against Sunday shopping would be to revel in understatement. For years, while in opposition, it had badgered the former Liberal and Conservative governments to end the practice, with a vehemence bordering on the sanctimonious. When the party came to power last year, the desire to enact a 'common pause day' -- to 'strengthen family and community life' -- was one of the more prominent aspects of the NDP agenda." That, again, is the Agenda for People that we all used to think really meant something when it was put forward during the last election campaign.
"For Mr Rae, a ban on wide-open Sunday shopping seemed more than just a partisan or ideological act. It was a cornerstone of the 'new ethics' he was hoping to bring to the province, an attempt to turn Ontario into the kind of place that Jimmy Stewart would be proud to live in.
"I don't say this to make fun of Mr Rae, because I think the evidence is there that a common day of rest was part of a very real vision he had for the province. It was a vision of a hardworking yet fair community, withdrawing from mindless consumerism and waste into something from which a host of common values might eventually emerge.
"But even considering Sunday shopping to this extent, for the best of political and practical reasons, Mr Rae has bent one of his cardinal rules. And once you bend a principle, it can never be shiny and new again."
"None the less, this issue has had tremendous symbolic and personal importance for Mr Rae and his views on it are worthy of respect. And though he is only choosing one month out of 12 for the stores to stay open" -- that was back when it was only one month -- "all the time, it is the month when the vast majority of sales are made for many products, the month that contains the holiest of Christian holidays. So the new law may end up standing for a long time as a symbol of convenience."
Another interesting individual who I think is worthy of quoting on this issue is Michael Valpy. Now, Michael Valpy could never be accused of being anti-NDP. I've read many of his articles. He has certainly reflected favourably upon the New Democratic Party, and in some cases justifiably. I happen to agree with Michael Valpy, for instance, on the articles that he has written in favour of the Niagara Escarpment Commission -- a commission, by the way, which is now under assault by a pro-development lobby and seems to be not getting the kind of backing that I would have hoped from the government as a whole. No doubt the Minister of Environment and Energy is strongly working to save the Niagara Escarpment, but there must be others in that government who are eager to acquiesce to project X and to allow the escarpment to be eaten away piece by piece.
"The beginning point with Sunday shopping is to ask whether it is in the public interest to have curbs of some sort on commercial activity and whether one of those curbs should be a legislated common pause day. The answer is yes.
"There is value in the whole machine -- or as much of it as practicable -- being shut down for a day, freeing our minds for gratifications of other sorts. Family life, exercise, the spiritual balm of loafing and smelling the flowers.
"Ontario's New Democratic Party government, in its legislation introduced this week, could have chosen Monday or Wednesday as the common pause day. It chose Sunday, not because of Christian pulpit pressure but because of its convenience. There is a secular as well as religious traditional bias in Canada toward Sunday; services such as public transit, for example, are geared to a Sunday slowdown.
"Sunday-shopping restrictions are said to encourage cross-border shopping. Canadians shop in the United States because they have decided that goods are cheaper, particularly children's clothing, electronics and dairy products.
"British Columbia has had restrictionless commercial Sundays since 1987, and cross-border shopping since then has increased by 400%, says Clifford Evans, Canadian director of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
"Sunday-shopping restrictions are said to be an unwarranted burden on merchants in tough economic times. For that argument to hold water, one would have to examine whether Sunday shopping actually puts a whole lot of new consumer dollars into the system or merely shifts them from some other day.
"The more likely argument is that there is a finite number of consumer dollars. The needed items of consumption are going to be bought regardless of when the stores are open. What is important in this debate is where -- that is, from whom -- the goods are going to be bought.
"But the chains have the economic power to stretch overhead costs across seven days and the small shops do not. And the chains have the sales volume to enable them to charge slightly lower prices and, hence, claw back market share.
"Many of the proprietors of small shops -- often women, often working 60- to 70-hour weeks, either alone or with one or two assistants -- would be exceptionally hard put to absorb the personal, family and financial strain of staying open for a seventh day, especially with little prospect of much increase in sales.
"As for the food retailing industry, it is difficult to see the major supermarkets' arguments for open shopping as anything more than a campaign to elbow out the neighbourhood delis and convenience stores.
"All that being said, the Ontario government's bill seems to have dissatisfied most interested parties, which does not necessarily suggest that it is the perfect compromise legislation," and he goes on to describe the bill.
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which has certainly incurred the wrath of some members of the government and has received the support of other members of the government who sit in the government benches, including the member for Perth, who has resigned as a result of her argument with the government and resigned from the cabinet as a result of her lack of agreement with the government on the social contract legislation, put out a piece of paper, a group of arguments which I think are rather compelling about this issue. They asked some questions about Sunday shopping and they say the following:
"One could argue that opening a store seven days a week results in higher overhead with no increase in total sales. This higher overhead is passed on to the consumer as higher prices, thereby adding to cost-push inflationary pressures. Inflation reduces real purchasing power.
"Until these policies are reversed, there is little the government of Ontario can do to solve this particular problem," according to OPSEU. "In provinces with wide-open Sunday shopping, cross-border shopping has actually increased.
"There are also social costs associated with wide-open Sunday shopping. Police forces will have to be increased to handle the increase of shoplifting and other related crimes. Public transportation will have to be increased to handle the flow of Sunday traffic. Day care facilities will have to operate an extra day.
"For most young families, both parents, including mothers of young children, are expected to work for pay. Both parents are equally responsible for the economic support of their children. Most important, both parents are responsible for providing for an emotionally secure support system for their children. A key element in this support system is when the family shares a common day of leisure.
"Governments must likewise focus policy on making it as easy as possible for workers and families to enjoy leisure time together. In a civilized society, governments promote and foster more voluntary leisure time.
"Governments and service industry employers should make it a policy goal to provide the individual with the greatest possible degree of freedom to allocate his or her own time among different uses, be it work or leisure.
"By having freely determined options, rather than being forced by employer pressures, workers will have the power to choose how time is allocated. This empowering process goes a long way towards reducing work stress and improving the quality of life.
"OPSEU agrees with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union when they conclude that Bill 115, 'while representing a move in the right direction, would fail to ensure that this goal is met and would serve to open the door to a further erosion of the common pause day.'
This is a submission by OPSEU. I'll be interested to see, when this bill passes, what they're going to say in Local 199 CAW News. I haven't seen this issue canvassed as it might be, and I know my good friends who are responsible for writing the columns will want to comment on this piece of legislation and how it relates to the long-standing commitment of the New Democratic Party government in Ontario to workers in this province, these being the most vulnerable of workers.
Those of us who are elected to public office are not here to protect the rich and the privileged. The rich and the privileged can protect themselves. They have lots of money; they have lots of resources. The privileged have access to those in power, whether it be in the elected offices or the civil service. They are often able to look after their own interests.
The people we are elected to represent are the people who cannot easily represent themselves. At least that's why I came to this Legislature, not to represent Conrad Black, who has a lot of money and a lot of influence and has made, in many ways, some positive contributions to this province and to this country. Conrad Black does not need me in this Legislature.
As I say, it's often the woman who is forced to work part-time or, in the case of some men, the men who are forced to work part-time in this province because somebody thinks we should have a wide-open Sunday and wide-open holidays. Those are the people we are elected to represent and to protect. That is why I'm in this Legislature and that is one of the reasons I'm voting strongly against this bill.
I have made this argument with my colleagues in the Liberal caucus. They will vote whatever way they see fit -- it is a free vote -- just as everybody outside of the cabinet, on the other side, will be voting the way they see fit. I understand why the cabinet votes as a bloc, and I'm not being critical of the government or the Premier for that particular reason.
But I do appeal to members of this House to give this very serious consideration. I know one of the arguments is that we already have wide-open Sunday shopping, that in fact Bob Rae and his government, the members of the cabinet, have decided to just let things go and, eventually, when you have it six months or nine months, people will accept it and then you'll be intruding upon them to take away that privilege or at least that opportunity to shop till they drop on Sunday or other retail holidays.
But we are elected as well to give some leadership. It has fallen upon probably two particular groups to indicate opposition: One is composed of members of the churches, who have strongly petitioned against this and who continue to be, by and large, opposed to wide-open Sundays. They're not talking about corner convenience stores, they're not talking about the exemptions that are there for the purposes of tourism; they're talking about a wide-open Sunday where you have people dragged into grocery stores and dragged into large stores and forced to work. I use that word "forced" knowing full well that the well-meaning legislation of the Minister of Labour to protect them is simply not going to protect them.
I look at the New Democratic Party as a party which has been a party of principles in years gone by. I haven't always agreed with some of the positions that members have come forward with as a result of their provincial council. The provincial council meets or the party as a whole meets and debates resolutions. I always used to think that when the NDP at an annual convention put forward a policy, in fact the party was obligated to implement it, unlike the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party where it is a guide but it is not mandatory for either the Conservatives or the Liberals, when in power, to implement those policies. That's one way I thought the NDP was different. It was something I think a lot of people admired about the NDP, how it was going to be different in this particular area. If they were to reflect the provincial council, if they were to reflect the policies which have come forward at various conventions, then the NDP government would probably be, as a whole, voting against this legislation.
In the Niagara Peninsula -- I can't speak for my colleagues -- I think four of the six members at least have indicated their opposition to this particular bill. I respect the point of view that is put forward by those who don't agree with me. The four of us, by the way, were chastised in a local letter to the editor by a well-known New Democrat the other day, who perhaps has forgotten what the NDP policy was on this or perhaps disagreed with it before, but I hadn't seen in the paper before that he had disagreed with it.
There are going to be people who are going to disagree with this. I'm sure there are many of my constituents who would not necessarily be giving me a standing ovation over taking this principled position. But I do think when you enter politics you are supposed to have certain principles that you adhere to. People elect you knowing what you stand for and I think they expect that you are going to try to put those principles and those policies into practice. It isn't always possible. I know that. I know the realities of government dictate that governments can't always fulfil all of the promises they want to fulfil, promises they didn't simply make to get elected but really wanted to implement in the best of all worlds.
But this is one piece of legislation where it seems to me that doesn't apply. If the government truly believes that, the Premier of this province, who in his years in opposition was a most principled individual, who articulated the opposition to retail wide-open Sundays and wide-open holidays extremely well in years gone by, should stand in this House and say: "I'm going to agree with the policy that I stood for all these years. I'm going to withdraw this particular bill and I'm going to attempt to put forward a proposal that would not make Ontario wide open on Sundays and wide open on other holidays."
To those in the churches who have made a compelling case, to those in the trade union movement who have made a compelling case, to those who simply want to preserve some vestige of family life and some vestige of the difference between Ontario and Canada and the United States, I implore those individuals to vote against this legislation as I will.
Mr McLean: I just want to comment briefly for two minutes on the comments the member for St Catharines made. It shows us the controversy in this province with regard to this very piece of legislation. The question I want to ask the government, and we see that there are many members here who oppose this legislation, is, what if this legislation doesn't pass? What are you going to do then? Are you going to immediately go out and charge all the people who have been opening the businesses they operate?
I have presented many petitions in this Legislature opposing Sunday shopping. I presented them from the churches in Orillia, from the churches in Elmvale and Penetanguishene. I have spoken in this Legislature with regard to those petitions I have presented. I tell you, there is a great concern raised by many people with regard to this legislation. I'm going to be interested in listening to what the minister has to say, whether he is going to refer this bill to committee so that there can be further input with regard to the legislation.
We have had a debate here for two or three days on this legislation and we have not had one day on the very important budget that was presented not long ago. This is probably the last chance I'm going to have to say anything about Bill 38, the act to amend Sunday shopping in the province of Ontario. The concern that has been raised by the members who have spoken here this evening is the concern that is raised in the province of Ontario by many people in my community and right across the province. It's an issue that I'll be pleased to vote on the day they bring it here for the final vote. I will stand up and be counted.
Mr Eddy: I rise to advise that I will be voting against the bill and for many reasons. We talk about the economics of the situation. Figures tell different stories. I've been advised by people who have commercial establishments that they're being forced to be open on Sunday because others are, but it will cost them money to be open on Sundays through the amount of sales that they're going to have.
I want to comment on the other matter of the Exhibition, the SkyDome, shift workers and all that sort of thing. Many people do have to work on some Sundays, but they do not have to work them all. I just wanted to add that I think the most ridiculous thing that I experienced was on Boxing Day, the day invented for shopping. What happened? The police were out looking to see who was open, who was contravening a legal holiday. You can't shop on Boxing Day. Sundays: Let's keep the sanity and sanctity of the Lord's Day.
Mr Perruzza: I'd just like to take two seconds to respond very briefly to my colleague. I admire his opposition to this particular bill, but just simply say that what we've seen here tonight with the debate and the open vote, it just reinforces my belief in this parliamentary institution of ours. That should be applauded because we've seen fine speeches on all sides of the House.
I've listened with great interest to the views expressed by members during this debate. It's clear that there will never be unanimity, either in the public or in this House. However, it's equally clear that the majority of people in Ontario want Sunday shopping and are increasingly impatient of rules and regulations preventing them from doing so.
The majority of people in Ontario want the right to shop on Sunday. The majority of retail businesses want the right to choose whether or not they wish to open for business on Sunday. These are the critical factors that have led us to the kind of legislation we have in front of us today.
Secondly, this decision is assisting Ontario's economic renewal. Certainly the government recognizes that by itself Sunday shopping is not a solution to economic problems. However, this government's decision is helping to stimulate business for local retailers.
As you know, this government has always maintained its commitment to protect the rights of retail employees who work on Sunday. Two years ago we improved the Employment Standards Act to give retail workers the absolute right to refuse work on Sundays and holidays and to 36 hours of weekly rest. The Minister of Labour has programs in effect to enforce these provisions.
We are confident that this amendment to the Retail Business Holidays Act meets the needs of consumers, the needs of business and, together with the Employment Standards Act, meets the needs of retail workers in Ontario.
A government that listens to the people, a government that is mature and responsive is a government that recognizes that times change and we must change with them. Bill 38 reflects the wishes of the majority of residents in this province of Ontario.
The Deputy Speaker: Mr Christopherson has moved the second reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
"Pursuant to standing order 28(g), I request that the vote on second reading of Bill 38, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act in respect of Sunday Shopping, moved by the Honourable David Christopherson, be deferred until immediately following routine proceedings, Wednesday, June 16, 1993."
Hon Shelley Martel (Minister of Northern Development and Mines): Mr Speaker, if I might advise the House of the business schedule for tomorrow, Wednesday, June 16: We will be dealing with committee of the whole for the OTAB bill, Bill 96; we will have second reading of employment equity, Bill 79, and second reading of the capital investment plan, Bill 17.