Objects of the Association
The Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians was established with the following objects:
- to put the knowledge and experience of its members at the service of parliamentary democracy in Ontario and elsewhere;
- to serve the public interest by providing non-partisan support for the parliamentary system of government in Ontario;
- to foster a spirit of community among former parliamentarians;
- to foster good relations between members of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario and former parliamentarians; and
- to protect and promote the interests of former parliamentarians.
Please read The Official Hansard Record of Proceedings that initiated the establishment of our association below:
Wednesday 12 April 2000
Association of former parliamentarians
Mr John Parker
Rev Derwyn Shea
Mr Gilles Morin
Mr Terence Young
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GENERAL GOVERNMENT
Chair / Président
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Présidente
Mrs Julia Munro (York North / -Nord PC)
Mr Toby Barrett (Norfolk PC)
Mrs Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain L)
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton PC)
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North / -Nord PC)
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Mr Dave Levac (Brant L)
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina ND)
Mrs Julia Munro (York North / -Nord PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Ms Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt ND)
Clerk / Greffier
Mr Viktor Kaczkowski
Mr Jerry Richmond, research officer, Research and Information Services
The committee met at 1536 in committee room 1.
ASSOCIATION OF FORMER PARLIAMENTARIANS
The Chair (Mr Steve Gilchrist): I call the committee to order in this history-making session. I welcome not only the sitting members but our august and esteemed colleagues from the last Parliament who have joined us here today.
The first order of business will be to formally receive a motion. Mr Barrett, you were planning on making that motion?
Mr Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): Yes, I could do that, Mr Chairman. By way of explanation, this motion was put forward previously by MPP Ted Arnott, who was subbing in at that meeting, so I will be pleased to make the motion.
I move that pursuant to standing order 124 and the order of the House dated April 6, 2000, the committee consider the establishment of an Association of Former Parliamentarians.
The Chair: We'll have debate on that motion now. To that end, I'm in the committee's hands. I guess we could do one of two things: We could either invite comments by the members of the committee, or we have had an offer made to us by the working group representing all three parties that has been working on this issue behind the scenes. I would invite a response.
Mr Ted Chudleigh (Halton): I would suggest that we hear from those who have been working on it for a while and get a sense of what they're thinking and how they feel before we go to the trouble of expanding our own thoughts on it, not having had the experience they have.
The Chair: The clerk has just advised me of something. At this stage, we have to speak to and vote on the actual motion to consider. So we're not creating anything at this stage, but apparently, pursuant to standing order 124, we're here in order to invite the debate. My apologies for that.
Mr Dave Levac (Brant): I have just a question of clarification regarding the name, the Association of Former Parliamentarians. Would it be provincial parliamentarians, or does that necessarily have to be done? It's just a question of clarification to anyone who has that information.
The Chair: At this stage, if we accept this motion, then everything including the title would be up.
Mr Levac: Has to be discussed.
The Chair: Yes. The next order of business should be the adoption, once we've looked at that. Is there any further discussion on the motion itself? All those in favour? Contrary, if any? The motion carries.
The Chair: Immediately after the most recent meeting of the committee, we convened a subcommittee. I believe, Mr Chudleigh, you have a copy of that report.
Mr Chudleigh: Yes.
The Chair: Would you like to read it into the record?
Mr Chudleigh: Report of the subcommittee:
Your subcommittee met on Monday, April 10, 2000, to consider the future business of the committee, and has agreed to recommend:
1. That, at its meeting of Wednesday, April 12, 2000, the committee consider the order of the House dated April 6, 2000, which states "that, for the purposes of standing order 124, the standing committee on general government be authorized to consider the matter of the creation of an `Association of Former Parliamentarians.'"
2. That, should the committee adopt the proposal to study the above-noted matter, the committee be tentatively scheduled to meet on Monday, April 17, and Wednesday April 19, 2000, for this purpose.
3. That, upon completion of the above-noted matter, the committee commence its consideration of Bill 28, An Act to proclaim German Pioneers Day, at its next regularly scheduled meeting.
4. That the deadline for the receipt by the clerk of the committee of any proposed amendments to Bill 28 be 5 pm, Wednesday, April 19, 2000.
That completes the report, and I'd be pleased to move it.
The Chair: Any discussion on the subcommittee report?
All those in favour of its adoption? Contrary? The report is adopted.
Now, with that business out of the way, I invite comments from either of the two parties if you are at odds with Mr Chudleigh's earlier comments about inviting the group first.
The Chair: Well, Mr Parker or whoever is the designated-
Mr John Parker: We'll go with Derwyn.
The Chair: We'll go with the august Reverend Shea. Welcome. Reverend Derwyn Shea, Mr Gilles Morin, Mr Terence Young and Mr John Parker, for the record, are joining us for the purpose of discussing this proposal. The floor is yours, Reverend.
Rev Derwyn Shea: I welcome the opportunity to address the committee today, and I note the appropriateness of the committee implementing one of the rule changes that allows it to assume legislative initiative on behalf of the House. How appropriate that this should be the bill that is addressed through the rule change, for we hope it will result in all-party support for the establishment of the Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians.
For those who might be under the impression that what we are requesting today is without precedent or is being proposed only for the advantage of former parliamentarians, let me set the record straight. Such associations exist and have operated for some years in other Canadian provinces, and approximately six years ago, by an act of the federal Parliament, the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians was established. Nor is what we are requesting uniquely Canadian. An Association of Former Members of Congress exists in the United States, and there are a number of state associations. A number of parliamentary democracies have established or support associations of one sort or another that are dedicated to the non-partisan and continued association of former members, to the benefit of both Parliament and their broader constituency.
There is ample precedent for the establishment of the association and for enabling legislation to be approved by this Parliament. There's no question but that the association could be established through the usual course of commercial incorporation. But we believe the association should be the creature of our provincial Parliament and that its purpose and protocols should be approved, not only by those currently qualified for membership, but should receive public consideration from the men and women who one day will themselves be qualified to join.
With regard to our goals and objectives, may I offer the following. First, the association must be non-partisan. Membership will consist of men and women who served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, who carried party colours, loyalties and ideology throughout their active political life but upon ending their legislative service are now able to bring their individual and collective experience and wisdom to the service and benefit of this Parliament and the office of the Speaker rather than party caucus. The association must have no place in the day-to-day legislative process, nor should it ever be aligned with any caucus to the exclusion of any other.
We contemplate a role for the association that involves education initiatives to foster and advance the knowledge of Ontarians about our Parliament, its history, traditions and procedures, subject to and in concert with the office of the Speaker;
To host visiting delegations of former parliamentarians from other provinces and states; develop a non-partisan speakers' bureau; fundraise for scholarships in political science, public administration or programs that might be developed for former pages of the House; fundraise for legislative precinct projects where requested and approved by the Speaker and the Board of Internal Economy;
To institute and provide for an annual memorial service to acknowledge the death of former members and to remember their contribution to Ontario and parliamentary democracy;
To offer advice and support to members who exit the Legislature and to provide a coordinating service on behalf of all caucuses in monitoring the whereabouts and well-being of all former members; to communicate on a regular basis with the association membership and serving members and to establish effective liaison with each caucus office and the office of the Speaker.
Mr Chairman, I began this enterprise four years ago or more, as my colleague Mr Morin reminds me, after viewing a program that was broadcast on CBC-TV Man Alive, titled The Invisible Tattoo. The spectre of Hans Daigeler was daunting, as were the experiences of so many former federal and provincial members of Parliament who were attempting to reinsert themselves into their careers, often with great difficulty. At the very least, some modest program of assistance seemed in order.
As I discussed this with serving and former members, a proactive, positive and enhanced model began to emerge. Everyone who serves in this place, regardless of political persuasion, has the best interests of Ontario and its people at heart. Every member has stepped forward voluntarily to serve, in most cases believing truly that they appreciate what is expected of them and the price they are expected to pay in terms of their personal and professional life. But I also discovered that what too often is overlooked, discounted out of hand, ignored or remains unspoken is the cost that is never paid until one leaves office and, in many cases, it is a cost that is borne by family as well as members. It is a cost that is often unknown, ignored or deliberately minimized by candidates when they first seek election, or by their enthusiastic supporters. Perhaps that's inevitable or perhaps that's the only way our parliamentary system can continue to attract aspiring members.
What has become clear to me is that when men and women leave this place, they carry extraordinary experience and insight with them. When they leave this place, they leave the immediate circle of decision-making, and under no circumstance should they attempt or even contemplate circumventing it or intervening in it. But at the same time, their experience and talent ought not to be lost. Freed from traditional constraints, they have much to offer the institution of Parliament and parliamentary democracy. Freed from partisan restraint, there are any number of initiatives former members might be engaged in, in co-operative fashion to the benefit of Parliament.
I'm joined today by several former colleagues who, along with me, have served in this House. We represent all three parties.
Tony Silipo, former member of the NDP caucus, is presently out of the country and sends his regret at missing today's meeting but supports this initiative completely. Gilles Morin, former member of the Liberal caucus and distinguished Deputy Speaker of the House, joins us today to offer his supporting intervention, and I am joined by two former members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, Mr John Parker and Mr Terence Young. Our collaboration and presence attest to the commitment we share and the non-partisan nature of the proposed association.
Finally, Mr Chairman, I wish to advise the committee that we have surveyed every former member of this provincial Parliament whom we were able to identify and locate. Not all caucuses have kept accurate lists, but most former members were contacted. We received replies from more than 60%, and all but one strongly and enthusiastically supported this initiative. Several declined any leadership role in the association because of ill health or advanced years, but even in those instances support for the founding of the Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians was unqualified and without reservation.
I wish to make very clear, as I conclude my remarks, that the association membership will be subject to annual dues, and it is from that source that most of the association's costs will be drawn. All we will request is modest space and furnishings within the precinct so that we may be available to the Speaker and caucus offices, and accessible to former members. In this regard, we hope to adopt many of the operating procedures that have been developed by the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. With these introductory comments on the record, I now ask you to recognize Mr Gilles Morin, who will add further to our submission.
The Chair: Welcome back, Mr Morin.
Mr Gilles Morin: I want to tell you how happy I am to be here today. I spent 14 years here, so I became very attached. It would be difficult to say that I did not keep good memories. They were all excellent memories. But I have one particular sad memory that I want to recount to you, and hence the reason we're here before you.
It was in November 1995, a Friday afternoon, and I was at home. I received a call from Dalton McGuinty telling me that my seatmate, my colleague Hans Daigeler, had died. Hans was only about 52 years of age, I believe. My first reaction was, "Was it a heart attack?" Of course when it was explained to me what a tragic death Hans went through, it was a real blow. I felt guilty. He was my seatmate. How come I didn't see that? You know yourself that when you sit beside a companion for a long time, you become friends. It's like a neighbour at home. You know their concerns, you understand their worries, you understand their happiness, you talk about your families.
Hans was really a great loss-a doctor of theology. Why would he go through that? How come I didn't see that? Of course, he had been away from politics for two or three months. The first thing we think is: "What about his wife? What about his children? What have they got? Have they got protection of some sort?" We found out that the insurance coverage was gone. She was left with nothing-nothing at all. Nobody to talk to. That can happen to any of us.
So we made some inquiries. How could we form an association so that at least someone who is affected by that type of tragedy has someone to talk to? I spoke to Derwyn. Of course, Derwyn's background lent itself to this so well. I made some inquiries, and I must say that it's thanks to the tenacity of Derwyn that we're before you today. Derwyn, thank you very much from all of us. It was great.
When I left politics, I wasn't defeated. I left it because I'd had enough-14 years. But I have met some who have lost, and they took it personally. You should never take a defeat personally. You've been asked to serve your province, like a soldier, to serve well, to give your time. Not many people understand politicians as well as politicians. There aren't that many people who understand the sacrifice you have to make, the time you have to spend, the discussions you have to participate in and the frustration you constantly have to face on things. I know that fundamentally we're all the same. We work for one goal: to help our constituents, whoever they are. Helping transcends politics, and that is what we should all be about.
That is what this association is all about. It's to help each other, because some day you will face a problem. Where do you go? Who can you share your grief with? Who can you share your happiness with? How can you help that individual find a job, perhaps? Once you've been in politics, you are stigmatized. You're stigmatized for the rest of your life, want it or not. You serve your community well, but people forget that. You're in today, and people know you. Three or four days afterwards, you're forgotten. I know it too well. But at least you have the satisfaction of having been chosen, in a democracy which is the envy of the world, to serve your country, to serve your community. Then an election comes, and you may be nicest person in the world but you're kicked out. But never take it personally. In my 14 years, I haven't met any members from any party who intentionally wanted to do harm to this province; I never did meet anyone. I met many people making mistakes. We all make mistakes, terrible mistakes-but as long as we admit that we make mistakes, and I think we all do.
The association transcends politics. It's to help each other, to be able to communicate and to have someone you can go to and say: "Derwyn, I need your help. Gilles, I need your help. Can you advise me?" I was in the army for 14 years. I have army friends from the 1950s. They'll be my buddies for the rest of my life. In politics it's the same, because we're a team together. Even though we don't share the same philosophy in politics, we share the same responsibility. That is the purpose of the association. It transcends politics. It has nothing to do with politics. It's a question of helping each other because we understand each other.
Derwyn, thank you. Really, I'm surprised, because we were discouraged two or three months ago: Where would it go? We had some negative reaction but there was no enthusiasm. So I hope that you have enthusiasm to introduce that bill as soon as possible in the House, because you're working for you, you're working for us and you're working also to make a better society. Also, it's going to be more and more difficult to go and get candidates to go into politics. Why is that? Because of the problems you have to go through, the criticism you go through. Not everyone is willing to accept those criticisms. You make a good decision, you displease others.
So we must preach-and the word is right, to preach-that it is the responsibility of every Canadian to give part of their life, part of their time to their community, to go and serve as a member of Parliament. There is, in my opinion, no greater honour than to represent your constituents.
On that, I leave you, and please make sure that it passes quickly because it's for the benefit of us all.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Morin. Do either of our other colleagues wish to add anything?
Mr Terence Young: I will try not to repeat what was said by my colleagues. If you see fit to present this bill to the House, I think it would be a very marvellous and fitting way to show respect and to honour former members who, in most cases, have made a lot of sacrifice, their families have made a lot of sacrifice, and offer them a status which is not a political status but an honorary status and say to them: "You're still needed. You can still play a role. It may be a ceremonial role, it may be an educational role, but you're still valued in this place." It would mean a lot to the former members, and I think it would do a lot for this institution as well.
Mr Parker: Batting cleanup, as it were, maybe it falls to me to summarize somewhat and maybe presume to recommend a few steps forward from here.
Before I do that, however, let me take this occasion to thank you, the members of this committee, for first agreeing to proceed with the matter and, in particular, for moving so promptly to advance discussion of this issue. We are very pleased with the co-operation we've already received from all of the sitting members of the House in moving this concept forward. I should in that context also express the appreciation of the working group for the co-operation we have received from the House leaders of all three parties.
We met with all three House leaders and I can tell you that we were very impressed, very pleased with the sincere expressions of support that we received from the House leaders and the words of encouragement that we received. That is all borne out by the fact that the matter was brought before the Legislature in the first week of reconvening this month after the interval from last fall. It was brought immediately to this committee. As I say, we're very pleased with the speed with which this committee has chosen to act on the matter.
I should also, and I will, thank the members of the working group for the work they have done: Derwyn Shea, Terence Young, Gilles Morin and Tony Silipo, representing all three parties. I'm proud to have been part of that working group myself. I should express particular gratitude to Derwyn. We tended to meet over lunch or breakfast most of the time and it was Derwyn who always picked up the tab. For most of our meetings, it was Derwyn who was the only one among us who was employed. We probably would've stiffed him for the bill anyway. Derwyn has helped this cause in more ways than might appear on the surface.
Let me also express the gratitude of the working group to Barry Turner and Elizabeth Matte of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians based in Ottawa. As Derwyn mentioned in his leading remarks, the proposal that is before you today is not without precedent. There is precedent federally in this country and in at least one other province. British Columbia has such a group as the one we are contemplating, as well as other jurisdictions elsewhere in the world.
Our research didn't take us to all of those jurisdictions, but it did take us to Ottawa. We were hosted most graciously by Barry Turner, who is currently the chairman of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, and Elizabeth Matte, who serves most effectively in a staff position with that body. We learned a lot during our visit with them.
The fruits of that visit are reflected in the documents before you this afternoon. I distributed two items to each of you: a draft bill that I'm about to urge to your consideration, and also a one-page brochure. The one-page brochure is a straight Xerox copy of the brochure that the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians has produced as a bit of a synopsis, a bit of a description of who they are and what they are about. That provides the look and feel, if you will, of the type of association that the working group contemplates and brings before you for consideration this afternoon.
The draft bill you are looking at is modelled after the federal bill forming the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. We've adapted it to pertain to the Ontario context, but the general structure and format of the bill and the nature of the organization reflected in that bill are taken quite directly from the existing federal legislation.
You have already heard as to the motives behind the proposed association and some of the elements we hope will characterize the association. Maybe I might summarize some of those comments.
First, let me be clear as to what is not proposed before you this afternoon. Nothing in the recommendations before you this afternoon calls upon the Legislature to authorize the spending of public money. That is not what this proposal is about.
Similarly, nothing in our proposal this afternoon calls on the Legislature to provide an avenue by which former members would presume to influence the work of the Legislature or of the government, nor would membership in the proposed association be automatic or mandatory. What is proposed is a voluntary association comprised primarily of former members of the Ontario Legislature, the operation of which would be funded by the members of the association themselves, mostly through the mechanism of annual membership dues.
The association is to be strictly non-partisan. The association is to train its activities on matters of fellowship and on matters relating to the institution of the Ontario Legislature and the parliamentary system, rather than matters relating to current partisan debate.
Just to flesh out that comment somewhat, certainly a large component of the motive behind the presentation this afternoon is to promote fellowship and concern for the well-being of former members, to give them a vehicle to maintain contact with one another and to provide a body which will be there for former members to turn to for guidance, for advice, perhaps, if necessary, for comfort when they cease to be members in this place. That certainly is part of the motive behind the recommendation this afternoon. It's by no means the only motive and it's by no means the only purpose that we see for the association.
As has already been noted, we believe that each member in this Legislature brings to the Legislature the wisdom and commitment to serve their community and their province. That commitment does not cease when the member ceases to serve as a member in this Legislature. But the experience the member receives while serving as a member in this Legislature can serve the interests of the Legislature in many ways. It is our hope that the association we contemplate can provide an avenue by which that experience and that commitment can be put to a useful, productive result. That too is an important component of the motive behind the association and it is our hope that will be an important part of the work of the association and of the members of the association.
To be honest, and although it is not part of the proposal before you that we are asking you to vote on, I would be less than candid with you if I failed to note that it is our hope that as a body, presumably to be created by the Legislature, the association would be permitted to have a home in the Legislative precinct. That is a question that would be brought before another body at another time under the appropriate circumstances. But I want to be candid with you this afternoon and tell you that that certainly is our hope for the association. Apart from that, however, we are not calling upon the resources of the public to be put at the disposal of this association in any way.
It is an object of the proposed association that it would put the knowledge and experience of its members at the service of parliamentary democracy in Ontario and elsewhere, and I want to emphasize that part.
To take all this discussion from the abstract and bring it to more concrete form, I draw your attention to the documents that have been provided this afternoon. I think each of you has a copy of a proposed draft bill for your consideration. As I've mentioned, it is drawn largely from the precedent currently established in Ottawa, and I put it before you as an indication of the result that we would certainly welcome from the processes of this committee.
Those are my remarks this afternoon. Thank you for considering this matter and thank you for hearing us this afternoon.
The Chair: Thank you very much to all you gentlemen. We'll have discussion and I'm sure there'll be a few questions.
Mr Levac: I want to start by congratulating you and expressing to the working group my heartfelt thank you for bringing this to our attention, and your words will not go unheard. I want to compliment you on a couple of issues. Of the objectives you've established, the two that struck a very strong chord with me were to protect and to promote the interests of former parliamentarians. The protection end of it really struck me as an important aspect of your findings. I'm sure M. Morin made reference to a situation that was dealt with a while ago. To speak to that issue is what really prompted me to say that-to foster a spirit of community among former parliamentarians. I think far too often it's: "You're used up. Thank you very much. Now you're gone." I compliment you on that.
I also comment that if there is a way in which we can do this, if we can incorporate the request for ongoing records to continue or at least get established-the implication was that it was a very difficult matter for the working group to get those records. They may very well exist, but it doesn't seem that it was very easy for this group to do that. To assist them and to have this for the future, if we can incorporate somehow our ability to start taking those records as a legislative matter, it would be at the fingertips very quickly. I would say that could be found somewhere in this legislation.
The subcommittee, in their meeting immediately after the first part, had the discussion on the establishment of the framework, and I think all the members of the three parties agreed to that very well: "Let's get the bones and allow the working committee to put the flesh and the blood and the living spirit around them." The idea was that we say yes to this immediately, that we say yes, we support this. Your good work will be able to be built right around that, and we can get things moving so that the association is the creator of what it is they want, as opposed to our trying to frame it in any other way than what the association members would like to have happen.
I support, and I suggest to you that I don't know if anyone would not, a way in which we can find a home for the association, and I would encourage very much that it be in no other place than in this good place. It would speak volumes to what it is that you're speaking to about keeping the spirit of us and you together. What better way to do that than have a home here?
My congratulations on four years of good, hard work and the spirit in which this was done. It speaks volumes for what you are speaking to.
My final comment, respectfully, is whether something can be done to incorporate comment on the families of the former parliamentarians. It speaks to the original point I made. It might not necessarily need to be mentioned, because there are other preambles I've read in the material that imply that would be part of it, but this speaks to the importance in which I hold, and I know all members would hold, the families. With the sacrifice the members gave, we know that the sacrifice our families have given in order for us to be here and do the things we've done is equal, or maybe even more. That would be my only kind of question, that if there's something we can do about incorporating that and maybe giving that as a piece of advice for the working group to incorporate it, I would appreciate that very much.
I don't have any questions, simply because I'm so impressed with what has happened and transpired that you have my undying support and commitment to see that that happens. I know, contrary to what some people say, that someday I will be a former parliamentarian. I like the idea that I would have the fellowship of someone to be able to count on. I appreciate all of the work that's been done. Unfortunately, I have to indicate that I have to leave for a bill signing. I will return if the meeting is still on.
Ms Shelley Martel (Nickel Belt): I won't ask any questions. I'll make two comments. First, there is a former parliamentarian whom I am well connected with who didn't tell me he had received a survey from you with respect to this particular association, so I will have to talk to him more about it, because I have not been lobbied by him. He continues to maintain a very strong interest in provincial politics and in this place, as you can well imagine, and I think that if there were some ways and means for his expertise and the expertise of many others, especially long-standing members, to be shared with other Ontarians, that would be a very good thing to do.
Second, I very briefly want to thank all of you, particularly you, Derwyn, for pursuing this for the last four years. What happened with Hans Daigeler was a tragedy that could have happened to any of us, there but for the grace of God go all of us too, at some point. I want to commend you for continuing to pursue it. If nothing else, that kind of emotional support is probably sadly lacking when people leave this place. Other people's memories of them being here last about two minutes.
I've seen that happen first-hand, and it can be a very difficult thing for a family to live with. In our case, the ex-MPP for Sudbury East left of his own accord. Having said that, even when he did, he felt at a loss for a long time, and this may be one mechanism to get away from that particular sense of loss for others, whether they're defeated or whether they leave on their own. I wish all of you well. I can't see that there will be any problem of support from our party, I want to indicate that now, but I thank you for continuing to pursue it.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms Martel. We'll have to make sure that wasn't one of the names missed as a result of-
Rev Shea: Elie's is a name I know.
Mrs Marie Bountrogianni (Hamilton Mountain): Just very briefly, my professional background is in psychology. I'm a psychologist and I worked with suicidal kids and kids of families that had suicide in them. I just commend you and give both my political and professional support to this. That's all I have to say, Mr Chairman. Congratulations.
The Chair: Any further comments?
Mrs Julia Munro (York North): Yes. First of all I would just offer my thanks to this group, which has worked obviously very hard in providing this. I know there had been quite a bit of discussion about how in principle it was a good idea. I guess all of us are victims to the old story of, "Oh well, it's a great idea, but who's actually going to sit down and make it happen?" My congratulations to you on having made it happen.
My question is to the Chair. I want to know what are the procedural steps for this committee in terms of where we go from here, if you could clarify that for us.
The Chair: It's my understanding, and I'm sure the clerk will contradict me if I stray from the facts here, that at this stage it would be quite appropriate for us to receive any proposed amendments or additions to the draft bill that you see before you now. I don't mean to editorialize too much but it would appear, just having had a chance to review this, that they have covered all of the bases, spoken to in their comments here today, with very specific wording. We also have attached from the research branch the copies of British Columbia's, the federal and the Quebec acts, and again a very quick comparison reveals many similarities, particularly with the Canadian act.
I just indicated to Ms Martel, who has left to attend a bill signing, that we would certainly not cut off this discussion until she and Mr Levac can return. What I would like to throw out to the members still present right now is whether or not the draft paper that has gone through legislative counsel-and I see they have made a number of their normal improvements to more appropriately reflect traditional language used in bills-whether this bill as it's written now passes muster. Mr Levac offered two suggestions. I'm looking to our colleagues on the working committee. Perhaps, if I might suggest in the explanatory note (e), you could consider adding a clause "and act as a resource for former parliamentarians and their families," or words to that effect; and similarly, I believe Mr Levac's suggestion was that one of your objectives could be to maintain a database of addresses and other particulars related to former parliamentarians.
It may have been implicit, but making it explicit adds to the comfort level and reflects the input from Mr Levac.
Rev Shea: Assuming there's appropriate legislative support to make that happen for the information flow, but that's clearly what this association has to do.
The Chair: The feedback we have received from legislative counsel is that they could by next Monday have a bill in a format they would be comfortable with and which would invite formal clause-by-clause discussion. So I am in the hands of the committee.
I certainly don't wish this whole process to appear as being unduly accelerated. However, given that the input has been derived from a working committee representing all three parties, and given that you have maintained a liaison with the House leaders, and that legislative counsel will have put their, say, stamp of approval just in terms of the language itself, I would turn to the two caucuses represented here today and ask whether inviting that any proposed amendments be submitted by next Monday is inappropriate or whether you could, through your House leaders, invite any appropriate comments.
Mr Chudleigh: I think that would be entirely appropriate, with the concurrence of the former members who are carrying this bill through. If you believe that any amendments that might be brought forward could be done by next Monday, we would be in your hands for this.
While I'm here, I again would like to add my voice to the congratulations of the former members in bringing this bill forward. It's a rare case when a member doesn't become a former member. My grandfather served in this House for 40 years and never became a former member because he died in office at the ripe old age of 82. He was determined not to become a former member, I suppose, and in those days that was possible.
The only other point I would make-I don't know if it requires an amendment or not-we should do what we can to make sure the office they have isn't on the fifth floor.
Mr Chudleigh: Anyway, congratulations. It's marvellous.
Mr Parker: Chair, I wonder if I might speak to this point. Ironically, the NDP representative is absent from the room just at this moment, but you will note that the working group has been strictly non-partisan with representation by all three parties. It was our intention to have all three parties represented before you this afternoon in the form of the working group. Tony Silipo, the NDP member of the group, is out of the country at present, and his caucus was unable to find someone to sub for him in time to meet this afternoon's meeting schedule. I wonder if I could prevail upon the committee, however, to leave the door open for Tony Silipo to make a presentation to this committee perhaps next week before the process advances too far down the line, just in case Tony does have a further comment he'd like to get on the record before you as part of the proceeding.
Rev Shea: Chair, if I can just pick up on that. Not to have a quarrelsome moment-
Mr Parker: We're from the same caucus.
Rev Shea: I'll wait for the Chairman.
Chair, while I appreciate the comments by my colleague, Mr Silipo was fully aware that we may be proceeding. He's not in the country. I would think that Mr Silipo is, as I mentioned in my opening comments, fully supportive of what's before you now. If this matter is brought back before you next Monday and if he's in the country, I think that's a perfect time for him if he wants to make a presentation at that point.
Where I have a concern with my colleague's comments, if he's not back until a few days after that, then it continues to drag on and it gets caught up in all the other legislative process. I think that is not something Mr Silipo himself would wish. So I would ask, subject to him being available, when you consider this, that you might ask him to make other comments. I suspect what you'll hear is an echo of what you've heard today, but nevertheless I would ask you to proceed on this as expeditiously as possible. This is extremely important. We still have a number of things to do to get organized, but we would like to be up and running certainly by the summertime so we can begin to do the database and so forth.
The Chair: Thank you, Reverend Shea. I think it's possible to accommodate both those points of view. The clerk advises me that there is no need to set a formal deadline for amendments. If Mr Silipo were inclined to attend and speak at the outset of our meeting on Monday, should he share any other observations that warrant an amendment to the draft bill, we can procedurally accept amendments from the floor. So I ask you to extend to Mr Silipo the invitation to attend next Monday, if he so chooses, and to speak at the outset.
Mr Chudleigh: Just a question to the former parliamentarians: I wonder if you have had any contact with Peter North, who sat as an independent, and his perception of where he might fit in this association.
Rev Shea: I am embarrassed, because I didn't bring my file with all the responses and can't tell you whether Mr North replied. I believe he did, but I can't be held to that. I'm not sure.
Mr Chudleigh: I think he might bring another perspective, not having been a member of a party. If he were to review the legislation, he might see-
Rev Shea: One or two other former members who were independents at one point or another did reply. None of them was the one who said he didn't want to have an association.
The Chair: Thank you both. Just to bring Ms Martel and Mr Levac up to speed, we were discussing the timing for our next steps. There was a consensus-but I certainly want to invite your comments as well-that we are at a stage with the draft bill and with building on the work done by the committee that it would appear appropriate that we set a fairly short timeline for any further input and proposed amendments. To that end, we discussed the opportunity to reconvene next Monday and invite any amendments, including amendments from the floor.
We are going to extend an invitation to Mr Silipo to speak at the outset of the meeting next week, should he wish to add his comments, just to make it very clear that this is an all-party initiative. If Mr Silipo raises issues that require further amendments, the clerk has advised that it's totally acceptable to receive amendments from the floor, and the other members of the committee said they would be quite receptive to that.
If that timing is acceptable to all three caucuses, then I would like to propose that that be our next order of business and, that being the case, to invite any final comments anyone might wish to make this afternoon.
Mr Barrett: Just a final comment: I certainly appreciate the presentations at the witness table by our former members. They have enabled me to understand a little better where we are heading with this. I assume you have a bit of a mechanism to communicate some of these ideas to sitting members who haven't had the privilege of sitting in on this meeting-your goal of promoting the betterment of former members. I think that's going to occur, in a lot of ways, just through fellowship and collegial interaction. I've been a member of a fraternal organization for a number of years and it's natural to involve family members, and I support that being inculcated into the legislation if that is required.
Certainly no one argues against the experience and wisdom that lie among former members. That's going to benefit parliamentary democracy in Ontario, as described in the explanatory note. So I really appreciate the presentations today.
The Chair: Just one last point, if I may, Mr Levac and Ms Martel. I suggested that the two comments you made might very well be embodied, the first in the objects, the explanatory note, under (e), perhaps add a clause "and act as a resource for former parliamentarians and their families," to raise that issue, and under objects, under (3) "attempt to maintain a database of addresses and other particulars related to former parliamentarians," which hopefully will address your other concern.
Mr Levac: I appreciate that very much, Mr Chair. Just further to what you asked before, I have no problems whatsoever with looking at Monday. But I do want to note that I hope it doesn't bump Bill 28 to Easter. We have to watch for that-just my own personal observation.
The Chair: We will certainly guarantee that the timing of the next order of business, Bill 28, meets with the approval of all three caucuses.
With that, if there's no further business, on behalf of the committee, I thank the four witnesses. You're certainly welcome back next Monday. The committee stands adjourned until 3:30 next Monday.