Thursday 22 February 2001
Mr George Taylor
Mr Bruce Miller
Mr Bob Betts
Ms Melinda Rogers
Ms Jan Dymond
STANDING COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
Chair / Président
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines L)
Vice-Chair / Vice-Président
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex L)
Mr James J. Bradley (St Catharines L)
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex L)
Mrs Leona Dombrowsky (Hastings-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington L)
Mr Bert Johnson (Perth-Middlesex PC)
Mr Morley Kells (Etobicoke-Lakeshore PC)
Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie ND)
Mr Joseph Spina (Brampton Centre / -Centre PC)
Mr Bob Wood (London West / -Ouest PC)
Substitutions / Membres remplaçants
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North / -Nord PC)
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East / -Est PC)
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina ND)
Mr Gerry Martiniuk (Cambridge PC)
Clerk / Greffière
Ms Donna Bryce
Staff / Personnel
Mr Larry Johnston, research officer, Research and Information Services
The committee met at 1008 in committee room 1.
The Chair (Mr James J. Bradley): I'll bring the meeting to order this morning for the purposes of Hansard. Good morning to members of the government agencies committee.
Our first item is to deal with the reports of the subcommittee on committee business dated Thursday, February 1, 2001; Thursday, February 8, 2001; and Thursday, February 15, 2001.
Mr Bob Wood (London West): Chair, I move the adoption of all three.
The Chair: The adoption of all three reports has been moved by Mr Wood. Any discussion?
Mr Rosario Marchese (Trinity-Spadina): Probably not.
The Chair: All in favour? Opposed? Motion carried.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: George Taylor, intended appointee as member, Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal.
The Chair: Under the appointments review, we have four that are scheduled for this morning and one for this afternoon. The first individual is an intended appointee to the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal, George W. Taylor. Mr Taylor, you may come forward, if you will. As you are likely aware, you have the opportunity to make an initial statement. I say this only because you're the intended appointee today. All the time that you use up today is subtracted from the government members.
Mr Marchese: You can use it up anyway because they have no questions.
The Chair: Being a neutral Chair, I assure you that I can't come to that conclusion until I look to Mr Wood for my instructions.
Welcome to the committee, Mr Taylor.
Mr George Taylor: Thank you, Mr Bradley, and members. I can be very brief on the opening statement. I conclude from the material sent out by the clerk, Ms Bryce, that you are familiar with my background and have some of the material in my resumé.
Very briefly, I started my career in the city of Hamilton, where I was born, and took my education in Hamilton schools, both elementary and secondary, and continued on to McMaster University and then on to Osgoode Hall, where I obtained a degree in law. I practised law in Toronto for three years and did my articling in Toronto-it was primarily criminal law-with the late Joseph Sedgwick, where I did trial work, appeal work and any number of areas which would primarily be described as litigation.
I then moved to a firm called Magwood, Frith and Casey, where I got a general learning. The people in that firm were Senator Frith and John Magwood, who started it. We put together the legal aid plan in the early career of that firm, where Mr Magwood was the first area director in the county of York.
I then moved to Barrie where I joined the law firm of Boyes, Seagram, Rowe and eventually become a partner there, with the name of Boyes, Seagram, Rowe and Taylor. Subsequently, I was appointed Queen's Counsel. I got elected to the Legislature in 1977 and re-elected in 1981, I was appointed parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General then, Roy McMurtry, and then subsequently the Solicitor General for the province from 1983 to 1985.
I then returned to the city of Barrie, having left the field of politics, and opened a law practice. I've practised as a sole practitioner in the city of Barrie since 1985, doing primarily duty counsel work, criminal work, real estate, estates, wills and commercial work.
I'll move into some of the other areas for my community work, if that's of interest. You'll notice under my community service a great deal of material. I have done both charitable and non-charitable work and material that is beneficial to the community.
One of the greater endeavours since I left politics was as chairman of the Ontario Winter Games for Barrie and Collingwood in 1991. We had a sizable budget of some $2 million, with 2,500 athletes returning to Barrie. It was a hands-on operation, where I did the chairmanship for approximately two years in a volunteer capacity.
I was on the advisory committee to the Ontario Provincial Auditor for about three or four years since I left politics, as well as being a director and secretary of the Barrie Rotary Club, where I gained notoriety in being the sponsor of the first female members in the Barrie Rotary Club, which was novel. As you can see, I've received community service medals.
I was amused when I was rereading some of my resumé to send in. I had been on a committee which I had forgotten I'd served on, which was a Canadian Bar Association committee. There was a brief to the provincial government at the time. The only other government member on that was Eric Cunningham, who was a Liberal member; the rest of them were professors etc. That was to set up a committee such as this to review appointments of all natures.
I was just going to read one little note from it in our introduction. It was done in 1988 and I was solicited to come on that committee, along with Professor Barr, who I am sure is familiar to the Chair, coming from the Niagara area. But the quote I'd like to make from that introduction is, "Political partisanship should neither be allowed to override the essential qualities, nor disqualify those who possess these qualities," such as expertise, skill, knowledge and integrity in an appointment. I leave that with you. We had created this committee for you to review these things.
There's one other thing, since I'm going for a landlord and tenant tribunal. You'll notice that I did make numerous personal submissions to government before I became a member. One was the landlord and tenant reform which brought out the residential tenancies, the Landlord and Tenant Act. Primarily it was a tenants' position paper to gain benefits for tenants at that particular time, which was 1968. So I have a background of making efforts and making changes well before I got into the field of politics.
That's my opening statement. If you have any questions on that, I feel I can bring something to the tribunal. I have had many years-in excess of 20, I suspect-as a Small Claims Court judge in and around the county of Simcoe, and there, before the tribunal was created, many matters were in the field of landlord and tenant, so I bring that experience to this, which is an extension of that background.
The Chair: I assume Hansard is picking up the microphone all right? Fine. So we're OK there. I just wanted to make sure that you-
Mr Taylor: My words were not lost, sir.
The Chair: That's right, because they would be left only to the memories of the members of the committee, and sometimes they are failing from time to time.
I will begin with the government members in this particular case.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Chair: The government members have waived their time, so I will go to the official opposition.
Mr Bruce Crozier (Essex): I appreciate the words you gave us when it comes to non-partisanship and appointments and qualifications. I agree with that entirely. For some reason or other, some individuals who are called before this committee think they're being called on the carpet or some such thing, whereas in many instances what I want to know is just how that individual will approach their committee work, if they have some new and innovative ideas with which to approach that particular agency, board or commission. I don't see in most of these that we call before the committee that it's really a question of partisanship.
In any event, I'd like to ask, during your adult life, have you ever been a tenant?
Mr Taylor: Yes, I have. When I was in the city of Toronto, as well as in Hamilton, I was a tenant in what I would call large complexes, as well as townhouse complexes.
Mr Crozier: Residential?
Mr Taylor: Residential, yes.
Mr Crozier: How was that experience?
Mr Taylor: It was satisfactory. I think the major thing that happened in the earlier part of my life, which would have been up until the late 1960s and the early part of the 1970s, was primarily that being a tenant then, the landlords were doing what were called security deposits and you weren't always sure you would get back your security deposit, to give an example, because there always seemed to be something wrong with the apartment. We now have legislation that you're not allowed that security deposit as such for damages.
Mr Crozier: I'm not sure you would have this information prior to the committee meeting, but we've been given some research where the Parkdale Community Legal Services did a study and as part of that study it was found that between September 30, 1998, and December 31, 1999, the backlog at the tribunal for tenant applications alleging illegal charges by landlords increased by 140%. The lockout and harassment applications, for example, increased by 101% and repair applications increased by 105%. In contrast, according to this study, over the same time period, the backlog at the tribunal for arrears eviction applications by landlords decreased by 4%, even though the number of eviction applications had increased. That would lead someone perhaps to conclude that landlords receive preferential and more expeditious treatment than do tenants. If you found that to be the case, what would you do under those circumstances?
Mr Taylor: The first feature is that as an adjudicator, I'm not making policy; I'm making decisions on the material that is brought before me, which is applying the facts and the law together to make a decision. I don't think, as a part-time member, I would be into decision-making or policy-making on this.
I did receive the material from David Pond, I believe his name is, which was sent by the clerk. I was trying to take from the Parkdale Community Legal Services material how I could measure it or comment on it. For some of them I would have to see the numbers, having looked at the backlog and using the percentages. That was one comment that came to my mind, how I would test this study to apply it to what I might be doing.
Some of the material on the earlier part, called lockout and harassment applications, the backlog would increase because they would undoubtedly be far more difficult matters, and both sides and all parties would need preparation time, whereas one explanation for the backlog for eviction being decreased might be that the features of a straight eviction singularly in regard to rent would be much quicker and would not require the preparation that the others would. Therefore that backlog could increase whereas the eviction one wouldn't. If you owe the rent, that's more matter of fact.
In reviewing the material that was sent to me, after I had taken the material from the tribunal, which is about five inches of paper, and a one-hour interview and an hour test with them, the material that I received would indicate that it's quite matter of fact and precise on an eviction which is just for rent. Either the rent is owed or it isn't owed. So that may be the reason for that backlog showing differently. But as a board member, I'm not into the policy-making; I'm just hearing the matters that are brought before the tribunal.
Mr Crozier: I appreciate that you wouldn't be into the policy-making, but this isn't policy-making. It would appear to be the process of applications. It's simply numbers.
Let's move to another part of that research, where the tenant application for repair and maintenance takes 45% longer to be processed and reach a hearing than an eviction application. After the hearing, tenants wait 84% longer than landlords for the tribunal to issue its order. Again I would ask, if you found that to be the case, what would you try and do as a member of the tribunal to address that?
Mr Taylor: Again, without being defensive on that, it would not be part of the territory I would be involved in. Somebody else brings the matters to you. You are an adjudicator. Using the two differences, it would be quite understandable, or I could speculate, that in the one for repair and maintenance etc, there is going to be a dispute, so a dispute is going to require preparation, witnesses and background on both sides and then a decision made on that material. Using it and comparing it to evictions, to say that evictions are always happening and much faster, that would be quite so because where you get just a straight eviction, that is just that you have or have not paid the rent. So all those, by themselves, would be faster in arriving at a decision.
Mr Crozier: Let me use some words, and if I'm putting words in your mouth, please correct me. I get the impression that rather than being proactive on this tribunal in the case of backups, backlogs and particularly backlogs in one area as opposed to another, you would say, "Somebody else does that work. I just do the work that's brought before me, so the backlog is not my responsibility." Is that what you're saying?
Mr Taylor: The backlog would not be a responsibility of my task as an adjudicator, because that's all that I foresee in my responsibilities. If we were to have a session where all adjudicators got together with the chairman or the director of the board, that may be a time to raise it, that these are taking longer, but as to the matters that come before us, that is determined by the administration of the tribunal. The matters come before you as an adjudicator and you decide on them. Prior to that time there is mediation, so the mediation may take some time up as well from the time the application is in there. But again, I foresee my job as being an adjudicator and not an administrator of the process. I can make a comment on it, if I just say, "By the way, this seems to take a length of time," as they have done in the Parkdale legal study. But I would be challenging the study with numbers and reasons, as compared to just throwing them out as percentages.
Mr Marchese: Mr Taylor, I agree as well with that quote that you read out initially about party affiliation not excluding anybody from participating or from being a good member, whatever. I have no problem with that. The only problem I have is that most of the appointments, 99.999%, are Tories. If they mixed it up a little bit, it would seem to me at least that it would be a little fairer, and then you could say, "Yes, some New Democrats might be competent as well, and possibly some Liberals."
Mr Taylor: I could comment that I have been around long enough and watched things long enough. I left in 1985, and I suspect on most of the agencies and boards I could, by recollection in my mind, know some of their affiliations on a lot of these boards. When it changed to the Liberals, I noticed the complexion changed with the names, and then-
Mr Marchese: And the NDP as well, and there's the problem.
Mr Taylor: The same with the NDP: there was a change.
Mr Marchese: Mr Taylor, yes, this is problem.
Mr Taylor: So we've come back full circle.
Mr Marchese: You're quite right. Let me finish that comment, because a journalist commented on that as well. He said the New Democrats did the same. I said, "Isn't that odd, because we were trying to convince Bob Rae to do the same as everybody else." Our members were saying, "Finally, we're in power; get our members in," and Bob Rae wanted to be different because, you see, he had a background in the civil service, where his father was a civil servant. I respected that in terms of trying to be neutral, trying to be fair and trying to open up the process to everybody. But we were going to-
Mr Steve Gilchrist (Scarborough East): Mr Chair, I wish Mr Marchese would table a list of known Conservatives that he put forward in his five years as a member of the government.
Mr Marchese: You're eating up my time.
The Chair: Order.
Mr Marchese: Thanks, Steve, for your intervention.
You understand the problem I'm having?
Mr Taylor: Look, it's there. I don't think you can remove it, without pontificating too much on it. The media are the ones that usually comment on it, but with more criticism than members from each party moving along-
Mr Marchese: Mr Taylor, all I'm saying is if we get into power, boy, am I ever going to be in trouble. I'm going to say to our leader, "We're only putting in New Democrats here," and I'm going to read that quote that you just read out.
Mr Taylor, I've got a couple of questions.
Mr Marchese: Relax, guys. What are you guys doing here, anyway?
Mr Taylor, comments and questions: in the debate over the Tenant Protection Act, the proponents, the supporters, M. Leach-mon bon ami at the time, who has now left for better things-used to argue, and many other supporters, that there's very little new rental construction in Ontario. Vacancy decontrol would change that. People would have the incentive and they would build. Lo and behold, we have less construction now than ever before. The supporters of that bill said, "Rents will not skyrocket under the new act." Lo and behold, rents are skyrocketing, not just in Toronto but throughout. The existing housing stock is run down, with estimates of needed repairs running as high as $10 billion. Lo and behold, in the last couple of years, there's been an incredible increase in terms of repair applications to the tribunal. I know you will be an adjudicator, but you did say you might have an opinion on some of these things. Do you have an opinion on that?
Mr Taylor: I suspect that is a tenant protection that has taken place, where the repair applications-I don't know whose side has made the application, but either a tenant or a landlord could make a repair application. So that may be the reason for the increase: to bring the landlord to do the repairs that are required, either by the municipal standards bylaw or some other bylaw. I haven't got any facts as to-
Mr Marchese: And on the other things that I raised?
Mr Taylor: On the other ones I have no knowledge, other than what appears in this material prepared by David Pond.
Mr Marchese: I understand.
Mr Taylor: I haven't studied it to the extent of whether it is or is not-
Mr Marchese: I was just wondering whether you had an opinion. Do you have any opinions, feelings, about landlords?
Mr Taylor: Like do I dislike them or like them?
Mr Marchese: Yes, what do you think?
Mr Taylor: I know some. Having sat, as I told you, for a number of years in the Small Claims Court, where these matters used to be, there are some landlords that would annoy me just by their atmosphere and what they did in regard to their buildings. There are other landlords that pleased me in what they were bringing forward. Similarly, on the tenant side-
Mr Marchese: I was about to ask you-
Mr Taylor: -you would find some tenants certainly had rights to bring and problems that were not being corrected in applying the law and the facts. In my court those were applied judiciously and in accordance with the law, but fairly. Sometimes the landlords were not the winners and sometimes the tenants were not the winners. What you usually find is that where a landlord tries to go for rent, the tenant says, "Here's why I'm not paying rent." Usually you'd see a very dilapidated or less-than-perfect building.
Mr Marchese: I get the impression you would be fair as an individual and as a lawyer in practice, obviously. You can look at both sides.
Mr Taylor: I hope so. I don't have a bias one way or the other. When the material comes before me, I look at the individuals and make a decision at that particular time.
Mr Marchese: CERA, the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation, did a study which was referred to by the Liberal member. It's one of the points that we have been talking about that is of serious concern to us. Of the 411 households they have studied, they've found that of the tenants interviewed, 29% said they had never received copies of the eviction application and 32% of the tenants contacted did not realize that they had to respond to the notice in writing within five days.
New Democrats are thinking that this is a serious concern and that if people either have no knowledge of an application or, where they do see it, they don't understand they've got to respond in five days, it ought to be a serious concern to people in general. Do you have an opinion on that?
Mr Taylor: I saw that and I would agree with you. Supposedly, if the process is working properly, first of all, there has to be some notice by the landlord to the tenant or vice versa. That's to say, by the way, "If you don't do this, then there will be an application made." The application notice is then sent. In the material that I would receive from the tribunal, I have to receive an affidavit that the person has served those documents. That means supposedly, in the process of serving, those documents should be in the hands of the tenant or the landlord. Then you move to, do they understand them? The forms seem to be simple enough and explanatory enough. Whether they comprehend, having read the words, the consequences of not doing anything, would be something for the tribunal to do. I know, sitting as a Small Claims Court judge, there are many similar forms that go out. To me it is always startling how, as that progress goes along, again, the statements are made that people do not receive these documents. Sometimes they do not get them, for any number of reasons, because they're allowed to be mailed.
Mr Marchese: For a variety of reasons. We're not all lawyers or professors or teachers or professionals who understand things, even though they might appear simple to those of us who have an academic background.
CERA recommends two things which to me seem to be reasonable. "The length of time within which tenants must respond to an eviction notice should be extended from five to 14 days," which was the case before, and "the Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal should communicate directly with tenants who are facing an eviction to ensure that the tenant is aware of the proceedings against them." Doesn't that sound eminently reasonable?
Mr Taylor: I have no difficult with changing those dates, but you legislators would have to do it. Frequently, time frames in all of our court proceedings are short, which does give grief to some parties; I can't deny that. You get them and you have to make decisions.
The only thing I can say in defence of the shorter time frame is that prior to anything happening by way of the application, they should have received some other notice from the landlord or tenant, in reverse-
Mr Marchese: But we just argued, for a variety of reasons, at least in terms of this research and from a lot of things we hear, many of them don't get it. In order to prevent that, we're trying to suggest to them-and you as a former politician, would presumably have some sympathy for this-that we need a mechanism to make sure they get it. Hand deliver it.
Mr Taylor: Hand delivery is one of them. I know they've put them under the door, they've mailed them. There are any number of opportunities to do it. I don't know what the most precise one is.
I have seen problems in our court system the same way. The one that I chuckle with the most is that nobody ever seems to receive it in the Small Claims Court until the sheriff comes to the door and says, "You must pay this or we're taking you to jail." That's the first notice that they seem to get, which is amusing to me, but I sometimes look cynically at whether they did receive it or whether the person who said they gave it to them or mailed it to them did do that. But I have no way of contradicting them.
Mr Marchese: But the suggestion you find reasonable?
Mr Taylor: No, I have no difficulty. If somebody wants to extend those time frames, it would be a matter of, are they worthy to be extended, having studied them?
Mr Marchese: But "somebody" is them, right? Your colleagues. They're not listening to us. What do we do? Help us out, Mr Taylor.
Mr Taylor: I don't know whether I can help you out on that. I'm sure, having looked at CERA and the other ones, they could come to a conclusion that time frames should be changed. I'm sure the director could produce statistics from the tribunal, the overall statistics to say, "Can we match this centre for equality study's accommodation information, or are they the authority?"
Mr Marchese: Thank you, Mr Taylor. Good luck.
The Chair: That completes the questioning of Mr Taylor. Thank you for appearing before the committee.
Mr Taylor: Thank you, Mr Bradley and members, for the opportunity. Hopefully, I will, if I receive the appointment, do the job with your satisfaction and approval and not do anything contrary to law.
The Chair: Thank you kindly, sir.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Bruce Miller, intended appointee as member, Ontario Police Arbitration Commission.
The Chair: The next individual to appear before the committee and that the committee will consider is the intended appointee as member of the Ontario Police Arbitration Commission, Bruce Miller. I'll ask Mr Miller to come forward, please.
Good morning, Mr Miller. As you have probably heard, you have an opportunity to make an initial address to the committee, should you see fit, or to share with us any information you think would be appropriate and useful for the committee.
Mr Bruce Miller: Good morning. Just a couple of brief remarks. First of all, the Ontario Police Arbitration Commission is comprised of a chair, two representatives recommended for appointment by the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards and two representatives recommended for appointment by the Police Association of Ontario.
The Police Association of Ontario has put my name forward as one of their two representatives on the commission. I have attended the last two meetings of the commission as an observer, pending my appointment. I understand that you all have a copy of my resumé, but I would like to go over some of my qualifications for this position.
I was a police constable with the London Police Service for 22 years. I served in a number of front-line areas and take pride in the fact that I received the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery, the Canadian Police Association Award of Excellence and the Police Exemplary Service Medal. I was hired as the administrator of the Police Association of Ontario in December of last year. Historically, our administrator has always sat on the commission. I served on the board of directors of the Police Association of Ontario as director, as chair and president from 1995 to last year. I also served on the executive of the London police association from 1992 to 1998.
I am a graduate of McGill University and have the benefit of an extensive number of courses, conferences and workshops in the labour relations field. I also have a wide range of practical experience in the field and believe that my qualifications leave me well-suited for the position on the Ontario Police Arbitration Commission.
Those are my comments. I would be pleased to try and answer any questions that you may have.
The Chair: We'll begin this time with the official opposition.
Mr Crozier: Good morning, Mr Miller. Welcome to the committee. You were in the room when the first appointee was brought in, so I just emphasize that oftentimes individuals are requested to come to the committee so that we can get a feeling about how they feel about the job they're about to be appointed to. For that reason, among others, it's nice to have you with us this morning.
You just mentioned that you were a police constable for 22 years. Does that mean you've retired or, because of your position now, you no longer are a police constable in London?
Mr Miller: I'm currently on a leave of absence from the London police force.
Mr Crozier: OK. I just wanted to clarify that. So you're still a police constable.
My understanding is that the arbitration commission doesn't get directly involved in arbitration. In other words, you don't sit at the table. You administer, you see that arbitrators are appointed, and you see that the process works. Is my understanding of that correct?
Mr Miller: That's correct, sir.
Mr Crozier: So you don't actually get involved in the arbitration.
Mr Miller: We don't have any influence over any decisions.
Mr Crozier: What was your particular interest for wanting to be appointed to this commission?
Mr Miller: In the first instance, legislatively the police association puts forward the two representatives as per the Police Services Act, and my name was put forward. The administrator has always served on the commission because it's a venue where we can see how things are going. It allows us to liaise with police service boards and their representatives to pass on the information to our members and to ensure that the process continues to run smoothly.
Mr Crozier: Does the police arbitration commission get involved both with the OPP and what I call community police services, those that are independent?
In my area, as you probably well know, the OPP carries out policing services in Kingsville, Tecumseh and Lakeshore, whereas LaSalle, Amherstburg and Essex have their own local police services. Does the arbitration commission get involved from both the OPP side and the Ontario Police Association?
Mr Miller: It's almost entirely municipal police matters, but there are some limited areas that apply to the Ontario Provincial Police.
Mr Crozier: I'm more familiar with a local police service, ie, one of the communities like Essex or Amherstburg that I've mentioned, than I am with those where policing services are provided by the OPP.
You are in fact a decision-maker and an opinion leader, as far as your experience to this date. Now you'll be appointed to the arbitration commission. Do you have any opinion on the recent debate that's been going on about the police associations being involved in political activities? Do you have any opinions in those areas?
Mr Miller: Certainly that we have a right to be politically active. Our people are on the front lines and closest to a lot of the law-and-order issues and we, like anybody else, have a right to express our opinions.
Mr Crozier: So you, for example, didn't have any problem when the Toronto Police Services had their sticker campaign where you were visibly known to be a supporter of the police by having a sticker in the windshield? That's OK?
Mr Miller: The Toronto Police Association's members are not members of the Police Association of Ontario.
Mr Crozier: I'm aware of that. Does that mean you don't have an opinion, then, about what they do?
Mr Miller: We respect their right to do what they do. They're a professional organization. They're closer to some of those issues because they're not in our organization presently.
Mr Crozier: Why aren't they?
Mr Miller: I suppose, sir, with all due respect, that would be a question that would be best directed at the Toronto Police Association.
Mr Crozier: Are you interested in having them back in the Ontario police association?
Mr Miller: Just to correct, it's the Police Association of Ontario.
Mr Crozier: The Police Association of Ontario.
Mr Miller: We do see a benefit in a united membership.
Mr Crozier: I would hope so.
I can't think of much else that I have to ask you about. You are listed on the Police Association of Ontario Web site as the administrator of the London Police Association, so you'll still retain that position, will you?
Mr Miller: I don't believe I'm listed as the administrator of the London Police Association; that person is Bob Wilson. I'm the administrator of the Police Association of Ontario.
Mr Crozier: OK. I'll ask David Pond to recheck the Web site, because that's some of the information we have.
Help me. What would happen in the case of an arbitration issue with the London Police Association and the police services board of London? Would you have any kind of conflict there? I just don't know, so I'm asking you how you feel in a case like that.
Mr Miller: The Ontario arbitration commission is at arm's length from local matters. I can tell you I think London is reflective of a good working environment that we have with management and with police service boards. In London, we never went to interest arbitration in the 22 years that I was there. We were always able to negotiate collective agreements.
Mr Crozier: That's great. I found it the same when I was on the police services board myself. I was supportive of the local police and appreciated working with them. I tell anyone who comes before us who has police experience that when I was mayor I asked if I could go out in a patrol car for a night. I have to tell you, if all our citizens could do that-certainly if all our elected officials could do that-they'd have a better opinion of some of the problems that our police services face on a day-to-day basis. That experience is one I'll not forget.
Thanks for coming before the committee. I wish you well in your appointment. Perhaps we'll see you again some time.
The Chair: To the third party, Mr Marchese.
Mr Marchese: Mr Miller, I only have a few questions.
I look at the role of the arbitration commission and it says: maintains a register of arbitrators; assists arbitrators by managing the administration of the arbitration process; fixes the fees of arbitrators; sponsors the publication and distribution of information about collective agreements, arbitrations, and awards; sponsors research on the subject of agreements, arbitrations and awards; and maintains a file of agreements.
Is there anything you would change in all of that in terms of what you think ought to change, or do you think what is there is reasonable and doesn't really need much changing? Have you thought about it?
Mr Miller: I think the legislation as it stands has served both communities and our members well.
Mr Marchese: I have another question. By the way, I have tremendous respect for the police and the work they do. I wouldn't do it. There are a few jobs that I just don't think I'd be capable of doing. But it's a hard job and it's something that-
Mr Marchese: What's so funny? It's a difficult job. They put their lives on the line often.
Interjection: What's the question?
Mr Marchese: The question: given that, do you think they should get more or less than other workers at city hall, given the fiscal conditions they find themselves in, that this government has generously passed on to the city? What do you think about that question? Do you think police are entitled to more or less or the same? What do we do?
Mr Miller: I'm somewhat confused. Are you talking about a base salary or percentage increases? There are different comparators. We've always put forward the role that police officers do, and civilian police members. It's becoming increasingly difficult and challenging. But I'm somewhat confused by the "more or less," or who you're comparing us to.
Mr Marchese: I wasn't comparing-oh, to the other workers that the city of Toronto administers, as an example. Mel Lastman said the other day, "We've got a problem. We've got to freeze wages." Otherwise we've got to fire, presumably, policemen and policewomen and firefighters. I don't know how we're going to do that. He was talking about freezing wages and that if they didn't like it, he thought we might have to fire people. That would be a problem.
I raised this question in that context and in the greater context of the fiscal problems the city is having, and I was asking you, how do we deal with that?
Mr Miller: I think those decisions are basically passed on from the community to their elected leaders.
We commissioned an Angus Reid poll in 1996 which showed that the majority of Ontarians would approve of increased taxes for policing because they were concerned with community safety and they saw it as a priority over other municipal services. I think that's the way Ontarians feel, and they are concerned about their own safety.
Mr Marchese: So, Mr Miller, what do we do? The public says, "We need them. Safety is a big issue. Policemen and policewomen should be better paid." The city, Mel Lastman, says, "We've got a problem, a fiscal fiasco." They blame the Tories, and rightfully so, of course, but they've got a problem in terms of the money. We don't have it. You're saying the public supports higher fees, but it means tax increases of a great proportion to be able to meet their deficit, let alone any other increases. So what do we do?
Mr Miller: That survey did show that over 50% of Ontario's homeowners would pay increased taxes to ensure community safety. We appeared at the pre-budget hearings yesterday in regard to policing, and certainly we have seen a number of very positive steps taken in the last several years in terms of putting more police officers on the street, in terms of strengthening our laws, and we certainly appreciate that.
Mr Marchese: I'm sure you do, and by the way, I support the idea of having more police on the beat. I met Julian Fantino the other day because I was doing a program and he was doing a program, and he was the one who pointed out to me something we pointed out in the Legislature: that when New Democrats were in power, we had 1,000 more police on the streets than we do now. He said there were 400 more police on the streets in Toronto than now. He said that before I even commented on the issue. So I was happy; I agreed with him. I said, "You're right. Nobody's listening to us; maybe they'll listen to you. Maybe you should say it more publicly."
I agree with the idea of having more police on the streets, but you're saying, "The public agrees. However the mayor and the city deal with this issue is not my problem. We should have more police, and people will pay for it, and however they deal with this is not really my problem." You have no opinion on that, more or less?
Mr Miller: No opinion? I'm saying I think the elected leaders react to their communities and I don't see any decisions being made in this area. Are you talking provincially, sir, or just about Toronto?
Mr Marchese: Yes, I was talking about Toronto. I'm saying they have a deficit and they're trying to cut $300 million. They have a fiscal problem.
Mr Gilchrist: You said there were 1,000 fewer police province-wide.
The Chair: Order.
Mr Marchese: Province-wide, and in Toronto there are 400 fewer.
Mr Gilchrist: Answer his question, then.
Mr Marchese: I was saying in Toronto they have a fiscal problem and it's hard for them to address those issues. I was saying, "How do we deal with that?" and was asking how we deal with the fiscal problem. But I think I've got enough from your answer, so I thank you.
Mr Miller: Thank you, sir.
Mr Marchese: Good luck.
The Chair: To the government members.
Mr Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): You say most of the arbitration work will involve municipal police forces.
Mr Miller: That's correct, sir.
Mr Dunlop: Places like the city of Barrie would be included in that as well?
Mr Miller: That's correct, sir.
Mr Dunlop: I know there was a long debate over whether they would go to the OPP or keep their municipal police force, but it's interesting listening to the deficits Mr Marchese predicted-
Mr Marchese: Sorry?
Mr Dunlop: The deficits you predicted-
Mr Marchese: What was my name?
Mr Dunlop: I can't pronounce it right-Marchese? Sorry.
Anyhow, he predicted a $200-million deficit for the city. A fast-growing city like the city of Barrie, which I believe is the fastest-growing city in the province today, had a $5-million surplus last year with all the downloading that you seem to talk about all the time. I just thought I'd make that point in the Hansard as a comment when we're talking about surpluses and deficits etc around this table today.
The Chair: Do any other members of the Conservative caucus wish to participate?
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Chair: You're waiving the remainder of the time? Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr Miller, for appearing before the committee.
Mr Marchese: Mr Chair, just as a reminder, my name is Marchese, in case in the last couple of years people haven't picked it up.
The Chair: Thank you for that clarification, Mr Marchese.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Robert J. Betts, intended appointee as member, Ontario Energy Board.
The Chair: The next individual to appear before the committee is an intended appointee to the Ontario Energy Board, Mr Robert J. Betts. Mr Betts, you may come forward, please. As you are likely aware, you have an opportunity to make an initial statement to the committee should you see fit. Then there will be questioning by the three parties if they see fit.
Mr Bob Betts: Thank you, Mr Chair and committee members. I'm honoured to be here today and appreciate the opportunity to cover some of the items that I believe you should know about myself.
I am a happily married man, a father of two, grandfather of one, with one on the way. I was born and raised in Toronto and attended the University of Waterloo; I studied mechanical engineering at that university. I began my working career with Shell Canada just three blocks south of here at 505 University Avenue. They trained me well in all aspects of corporate marketing, planning, financial management and strategic planning, and allowed me to experience business challenges that most young people are not given at that early stage of their careers.
In our early 30s, with my wife's support, we acquired a mechanical contracting business and began a new phase of our lives in Gravenhurst in Muskoka. That business has made me familiar with field-level work associated with, among other things, natural gas, propane and electricity handling and transmission systems. In addition to that, I learned that controlling costs is the single most important component of business survival and success. I learned that a business is measured by its reputation for honesty, consistency, dependability and concern for its customers. I managed our corporate and financial resources and maintained control by doing my own accounting and bookkeeping, and in fact preparation of our own financial statements.
Twelve years ago I entered municipal politics and have since sat on both the town and regional levels of municipal government. For the last six years I've enjoyed and been proud to be the mayor of the town of Gravenhurst.
As mayor and commissioner, I took an unusually strong interest in our local utility. I led it through an expansion under Bill 185, and we were one of only 20 municipal utilities to seize that opportunity. We acquired additional customers from Ontario Hydro and effectively doubled our size. I was asked to be spokesperson for 14 of those expanding municipal utilities in policy discussions with energy ministry staff, and transfer agreement negotiations with Ontario Hydro senior executive.
I led our town's investigation into whether to merge, amalgamate, sell or keep our utility, and finally, after deciding to keep and operate it, I assumed a role as a founding director and assisted our utility to restructure under Bill 35 as a new local distribution company.
Last summer I decided to end my career in municipal politics. At the same time, my son indicated his interest in taking over our family business. These decisions, together with my interest in the electricity sector, and sparked by a friend's casual comment that there were two openings on the OEB, led me to send a resumé to Minister Wilson. I sent that resumé roughly November 5, which in turn led to an interview with the minister, with Chair Floyd Laughren and a representative of Management Board, and that was on December 20. I felt that the interview went well, and I was pleased to hear on January 17 that there had been an order in council and that now I must await concurrence of this standing committee.
If I may, I would like to set the record straight about a newspaper report that suggested that the government had strategically planned my appointment for some hidden political purpose. Mr Chair and committee members, there has never been any political force pushing me into this position on the OEB. The idea was mine, the motivation was mine, and the effort has been all mine. It was not until several weeks after I had prepared my letter of application that I even informed my member, Mr Eves, of my intentions. At that time, he indicated that he felt I would be a good addition to the OEB and that he would support my application, should he be given the opportunity to do so.
I would just like to close by saying that I have lived in a large urban centre, I've lived in a rural home and a small-town setting and I can understand the consumer issues of all of those areas. I offer knowledge and experience gained from large multinational corporate exposure, small business management and by involvement in government and legislative systems.
Mr Laughren has expressed to me his pleasure at the prospects of having me join his team and I hope you, the committee members, will concur. Thank you, Mr Chair and committee members.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Betts. We'll commence the questioning with the third party.
Mr Marchese: There's a New Democrat, Mr Floyd Laughren.
Mr Dunlop: You're right.
Mr Marchese: If we appoint one or two, then we can say, "Ha."
Mr Gilchrist: We took all the good ones though.
Mr Marchese: Mr Betts, I have some concerns about the deregulation scheme of this government on electricity. In my view, electricity is something that we depend on for almost everything, public and private, and our economy really depends on that as well, I argue. So I'm concerned about deregulation.
I like the old system, the public power system, which involves one single system of generation, publicly owned, with one pool of power. It seemed reliable. We were getting good rates, at least cheaper than the US. I'm afraid this is going to change. As I looked at the California experience, I thought, it's making me nervous. I wondered, when you saw what's happening there in California, what you felt and what your thoughts were about that and how, presumably, this could never happen in Ontario.
Mr Betts: Certainly it's reasonable as a consumer to be nervous, and I share that nervousness. But in looking at the situation in California versus what we have here in Ontario, I think there are some significant differences that might suggest the course would be different here in Ontario.
First of all, the degree of regulation in California effectively established a price to the consumer or the retailer in most parts of that, but it allowed the generator a great deal more flexibility in terms of their pricing. You add to that some other things that were happening in the marketplace in California, the fact that there was an increased demand in this particular period, not only an economic boom in California, but an unusually cold period of time that really pushed the generators in terms of their energy supply requirements.
Those kinds of factors contributed to an unusual situation that caused the cost of generation to go up and unfortunately did not allow in most cases the pass-through of those costs. In some cases it did, but in every case it's caused some serious problems.
In Ontario, on the other hand, we are rich in generation at this point in time, and we certainly have substantially more than even what our peak loading is expected to be. That's a positive thing. It is controlled at this point by OPG and it truly does give everybody comfort to know that, but we also know that over time, to deregulate, we'll be expecting them to reduce their share of that market.
We are unlikely in Ontario to be faced with the shortage of generation to the extent that California has been. They have the Pacific on one side; they have the Rockies on the other side. There are a limited number of people that can supply them. In Ontario, we can be supplied happily from Quebec, New York, Minnesota and Manitoba, and there are some others that are being extended now.
Mr Marchese: So you don't see any problem vis-à-vis what happened there possibly happening here? You're giving reasons why it might not happen or ought not to happen, and presumably we would have whatever means in place to make sure that we prevent it, more or less?
Mr Betts: I would say that the things that caused this to happen in California are unlikely to cause that here in Ontario.
Mr Marchese: What about the other concern? The Canadian Energy Research Institute, sponsored in part by the Ontario Ministry of Energy, revealed the following: they found that privatization in the UK pushed prices up higher than they otherwise would have been and that investors earned stunning rates of return at the expense of the consumer.
I'm afraid of that. Does that worry you? Forget about the investment rate of return. That's what they're there for, right? To make money. But what about increases in prices?
Mr Betts: I think increases in prices will be driven by the marketplace, when we can ever reach an unregulated market. We are not in that position at this point. Regardless of what we think, it is a regulated market and it will be for some time.
If we can introduce competition-and I believe this is the objective of the minister-I believe that the forces within a competitive market will cause those prices to be as good as they can be. That doesn't mean that the participants in the market won't attempt to maximize their profits. That's what drives our economy. But I do believe that competition is one of the few safe ways of controlling that.
Mr Marchese: So you support deregulation?
Mr Betts: Yes, I do.
Mr Marchese: Do you think the Ontario Power Generation ought to be required to make energy conservation one of its priorities?
Mr Betts: I believe all participants in the energy sector should have that as one of their priorities, to maximize energy conservation. It's in all of our interests, going right back to the environment and our natural resources, to maximize those.
Mr Marchese: Is that one of your priorities?
Mr Betts: Certainly, personally it is. I would say that to the extent that I'll have the opportunity to judge those issues as an adjudicator, I would hold that to be high.
Mr Marchese: And you would advance such a view with other board members, including mon ami M. Floyd Laughren?
Mr Betts: Whenever I had the opportunity to express that, I would do so. I believe that energy conservation, as well as efficiency within the participants' own area of expertise, will help to reduce the costs and therefore keep the price to the consumer down. I think that is, on the bottom line, what all of us want.
Mr Dunlop: Mr Betts, thanks very much for coming today. I just wanted to ask you a question about your role in the utility in Gravenhurst for the number of years you sat on the commission there, and I know you went through an expansion. Did you have any of your own power generation there or did everything come from Ontario Hydro? I know with all the streams, lakes and rivers around that area-I just couldn't remember.
Mr Betts: No, all of the generation for the Gravenhurst utility is provided through Hydro One now, or Ontario Hydro. The communities to the north and south of us enjoy some generation themselves, and that would be Orillia, as well as Bracebridge.
Mr Dunlop: I just wanted to compliment you. I spend a fair amount of time in Gravenhurst. I go to the Seguin at least once a year and it's always nice to visit your community. I know there's been a lot of work that's taken place in that community over the last few years, and I congratulate you for that work.
Mr Betts: We're proud of the community. Thank you.
Mr Wood: We'll waive the balance of our time.
The Chair: Thank you kindly. Mr Crozier, of the official opposition.
Mr Crozier: Good morning, Mr Betts. How are you today?
Mr Betts: I'm very well, thank you. Yourself?
Mr Crozier: I'm fine, thanks.
Mr Betts: Especially being a new grandfather, you should be.
The Chair: There's good research.
Mr Crozier: Is the note on the Web already?
Mr Crozier: I'm particularly proud of that. It was difficult on me.
Former mayor of Gravenhurst. You said last summer you decided to move out of the political arena. Why would you give up one of the best jobs in the world, being mayor of a town like Gravenhurst?
Mr Betts: Several reasons, and it wasn't an easy decision. I'd have to tell you that I actually announced prior to that my intention to run for mayor, and then I announced that I was not running. I had been at it for 12 years and I came to the conclusion that, particularly in the next race, I was really now running because it was a race, it was another competition. You've been there yourself. You almost look forward to the event, rather than the conclusion. I began to wonder, if I won-and there was a very good chance that I was going to-would I then be happy in winning? That was certainly in the back of my mind, and I wasn't certain that I would be.
I felt that I had achieved personally the objectives that I had set myself in governance. From day one, I started off, I seem to recall, with about three platforms and worked hard on them from start to finish. I felt that we had moved our community out of a terrible depression, almost, because of some changes that occurred in our economy some eight years ago and moved it to something that I looked at as a bright future. So I felt it was time for a change, perhaps, and a time for a change for me as well.
Mr Crozier: You made reference to a newspaper article and wanted to correct the record on that. I have one here from the Bracebridge Examiner on February 1, where it says, "Betts has often been cited as a possible successor to Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Ernie Eves in the case of the latter's rumoured impending retirement." Is that correct?
Mr Betts: It's correct it was a rumour. I think the fact that I retired when I did would probably have caused someone to think that that was even a more supportable rumour.
Mr Crozier: Certainly when I look at your resumé, I see that not only might they be kind of taking a good competitor away from Mr Grimmett, but you would have probably made a fine candidate for that too. Anyway, I share some of your background as being a mayor of a small community, and that's why I originally asked the first question.
You were on the public utilities and you said you were quite active and interested. Were you chair of the public utilities at that time?
Mr Betts: No, as the mayor, I sat as a member. Although the opportunity arose, I didn't feel it was appropriate for the mayor to be actually chairing that committee. We always sought someone who could put a little more effort in and certainly bring a sense of independence to it.
Mr Crozier: You said as well in answer to some questions that you are a proponent of deregulation and the direction in which we're moving in the province. We talked a bit about California. Alberta is another one where things do not seem to be going well, and the example of England. Can you give me an example of a jurisdiction in which there has been deregulation and competition introduced that's been good for the public?
Mr Marchese: That's a good question.
Mr Betts: I haven't researched that thoroughly. Hopefully, I'll learn more about this as I get into it. But I understand that Australia has had a relatively successful movement toward deregulation. Despite what was said, I've heard that the United Kingdom's experience has not been that bad. I'm afraid I couldn't give you too much detail, but I've heard that there are positives from that that suggest the future should be even better for them in energy than they saw in the first case.
Mr Crozier: The reason I mention that is, I appreciate that you may not-none of us-know of all the jurisdictions perhaps that have tried this, but it just seems to me that the rhetoric surrounding this deregulation issue is, "Things will get better; I can't give you an example of where they've gotten better, but we're all looking to the future," and yet all we hear are horror stories. I want to see us do what's best for the consumers in Ontario, no doubt, and I think we all share that objective. But notwithstanding the fact that you've said you would be a proponent of this, I have yet to be convinced that it's the right way to go. In light of what I've just asked and what we've just discussed, what makes you a proponent of privatization and deregulation and competition?
Mr Betts; It's probably more fundamentally theoretical than anything else. This is a very complicated market, you're absolutely right, and no matter what happens, it really can't be unregulated. There are components in it that must be shared and will have to be managed in a sense that all the participants who are acting competitively get a fair shot at all of that at a fair price.
I just believe fundamentally that, generally speaking, with few exceptions-and none come to mind right now-the free enterprise system and profit-motivated businesses, as long as consumers have choice, will create a better, more effective system than government, and I say that with all due respect, coming from government as well. I believe the opportunities for better service, better performance and lower prices exist only as we can get closer to a competitive environment.
Mr Crozier: Notwithstanding the fact that you can't give an example of it; that's interesting.
You say "provided there's choice." That's an interesting comment that's added. We read in the paper this morning that the Premier is even more enthusiastic about a two-tier health care system, provided there's choice, notwithstanding the fact that the United States, which is our closest example, has a system that is considerably more expensive than ours. I don't mind change and I want to move in the right direction, but when nobody, it appears, can give us examples of how it can be successful, I really have a concern.
You've said it's one of those things that needs to be regulated. Why does it need to be regulated? Why can't we get the best of everything, move to full competition in energy production in Ontario, totally deregulated, and let the best survive, those who can give us the best service at the best price? Why regulate it at all?
Mr Betts: Right now the energy has to get from the generator to the consumer through wires. It's impractical, it's impossible to think that every competitor could have their own set of wires going to a consumer so they could provide their energy whenever the consumer decided to switch. Perhaps some day, if some bright scientist can figure out a way of transmitting that energy through the air by some energy source directly to a consumer, I think at that point you would have true and unregulated competition. Unfortunately, there are major components within the system that must be shared, by definition, and they require someone to look out for the consumer, someone to think like a consumer, someone to ask consumer-like questions of those people to ensure that we're getting the best price.
Mr Crozier: Natural gas prices are another one that's at the top of the list these days. The Ontario Energy Board, which you'll be appointed to, I don't doubt, regulates price on distribution. The general public, I feel, is not well enough informed as to what really affects natural gas prices, ie, the cost of the gas itself, and the regulated side, which is the cost of distribution. Do you see the Ontario Energy Board playing a role in the education of the public when it comes to the cost of energy, be it natural gas and/or electricity?
Mr Betts: I think within the mandate of the Ontario Energy Board there is certainly a component that says there is a responsibility to assist the whole market, including the consumer, to move to a more efficient arrangement, to use the energy more efficiently. I think that is one of the ways the board could help. It does relate to pricing but clearly there are few motivations any stronger than rising prices to move the consumer and all participants toward an energy-efficient environment. I think if we looked at trying to promote that energy efficiency, we would probably find that we would accomplish what you're looking for.
Mr Crozier: It will be interesting to see, if and when this market opens up-I see there's a newspaper report this morning that says, "The target date in a plan submitted yesterday by the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity Market Operator is...." They're looking at November again.
I think the public is confused. The public is getting messages from California and Alberta and other places which aren't the best direction we could go. We continue to delay the introduction of it. I just hope, perhaps along with you, that we might get an example, just a glimmer of hope that this might be the right direction. I hope we're not making a terrible mistake. So do the best you can to prevent us from doing that from the Ontario Energy Board's point of view, please.
Mr Betts: I will do that, given the opportunity.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Betts.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Melinda Rogers, intended appointee as member, Ontario Media Development Corp.
The Chair: Our next intended appointee is an intended appointee as member of the Ontario Media Development Corp, Melinda M. Rogers. Ms Rogers, would you like to come forward to the chairs provided. As you are likely aware, you are welcome to make an initial statement to the members of the committee. Subsequent to that, each of the three parties will have an opportunity to offer questions to you. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Melinda Rogers: Thank you for the opportunity of appearing this morning. I'm very pleased to be considered for the appointment to the board of the OMDC. If you'll permit me, I'd like to take a few minutes to review with you my background.
As you may already know from my resumé, I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate education at the University of Western Ontario and later received my master of business administration from the University of Toronto.
I am currently the vice-president in charge of venture investments for Rogers Communications. In my present capacity I'm directly responsible for sourcing, developing and managing the venture investment side within Rogers Communications. As part of this role, I work with the operating companies of Rogers and the companies in which Rogers has an investment, to identify and structure mutually beneficial relationships. I also function as the company's liaison with other venture capital funds with which the company has either an investment or a business relationship. Many of these are in the States as well as Canada.
I believe my background and experience will support the efforts of the OMDC in reaching out to the converging media sectors within its expanded mandate. Having worked in a family company that spans all of the converging communications sectors, I have been fortunate to work in publishing, radio, production, television and digital media. Additionally, my work experience in Silicon Valley with Excite@Home in sales and marketing, product development and business development has provided me with great exposure to the emerging technology in interactive media space.
With that in mind, I believe my experience could assist the OMDC in fulfilling its mandate over the next few years. I look forward to the opportunity to dedicate my time and knowledge to working with the OMDC. Thank you.
The Chair: We'll commence our questions with the government.
Mr Wood: We'll waive our time.
The Chair: The government has waived its time, so we will move to the official opposition.
Mr Crozier: This appointment is to the Ontario Media Development Corp, which is a relatively new structure, only recently announced, and it will focus on, we are told, encouraging strategic partnerships among the converging cultural media industries, including film and television production, book and magazine publishing, sound recording and interactive digital media. That's very interesting. What, in your view, does that mean?
Ms Rogers: I have yet to participate within the board, but what I've seen in my experience has been that a lot of the different media are beginning to overlap. It's very difficult for a content play, for example, on the Internet to be successful on a viable business model on its own, whereas if you take content and span it over multiple platforms-so you'll take a cartoon series and port it over television, the on-line space, and then you could also develop the rest of it in a magazine or comic book-that is the way for one type of content to span multiple media. You can see the same with it being carried on a wireless platform. To do this, though, you have to get the different sectors to begin to talk together and work together. In Ontario I think, as in many other places, it's difficult to get this to occur naturally.
Mr Crozier: Do you see this responsibility of the corporation as one of being proactive on the part of Ontario, to go out into other jurisdictions, other countries, and promote Ontario as a place to come and develop their media enterprise? Would that be part of your job?
Ms Rogers: I don't know if it's defined as something to be putting us on to planes and doing, but by no means will we discourage anybody, any foreign group or corporation, from spending their money in Ontario and promoting Ontario. So to that extent, yes.
Mr Crozier: Do you think, as an individual, as part of this corporation, that you will be actively involved in working outside the Toronto area in proactively attracting business here?
Ms Rogers: To the extent that I could encourage business to come to Ontario?
Mr Crozier: Yes.
Ms Rogers: I try to encourage it every day whether I'm working for the OMDC or just as a Canadian. My answer is, I will do that. It doesn't change, whether I'm part of the OMDC or not.
Mr Crozier: Did you seek this position?
Ms Rogers: No, I did not.
Mr Crozier: Someone came to you. Who?
Ms Rogers: A woman by the name of Justine Deluce. I believe she works for the former minister.
Mr Crozier: And outlined what it is that this corporation is about and-
Ms Rogers: And asked if I would be interested in having my name put forward.
Mr Crozier: When it comes to media-I'm not suggesting anything about qualification; I think you're well-qualified for it-do you think that perhaps they looked to you to join this corporation because of your experience?
Ms Rogers: I think there are very few people with qualification in the digital media today, and my experience in Silicon Valley and my ongoing experience with different individuals within the United States has provided me a lot of insight that I've been very fortunate to have. I think that is in part why Justine Deluce contacted me and asked me if I would consider working with the OMDC.
Mr Crozier: How long is the appointment, for what term, or is there a term attached to it?
Ms Rogers: I believe it's a maximum term of three years.
Mr Crozier: Ms Rogers, according to the information we've been given, and I think you probably have it, the film and television production in Ontario is big business, over $1 billion. As I say, you are probably aware of that without the information that you were given.
I hope you take from what I was asking you that I'm encouraging, that is, I trust this Ontario Media Development Corp will be a proactive organization in attracting this type of business to Ontario and wish you well in your appointment.
Ms Rogers: Thank you.
The Chair: Mr Marchese.
Mr Marchese: Welcome, Ms Rogers. I'm curious. You are the daughter of Ted Rogers, are you not?
Ms Rogers: As far as I know, yes.
Mr Marchese: Except I didn't know. You would know better than I would.
Obviously Ontario is doing as much as it possibly can to attract film production, because it is big business, and why wouldn't it? The problem is there has been a drop in production. Do you have a sense of why that is?
Ms Rogers: I haven't studied the matter, frankly, to be able to tell you why there has been a drop in production. As has been explained to me recently, one of the greater drops has been in domestic production. I'm not sure if foreign production in Ontario has also dropped. I am not aware of what the cause for that is at this time.
Mr Marchese: I don't know if they passed this research on to you-I don't think they did in the past, but they probably do now-but it's research that allows us to be somewhat intelligent when we ask questions. They say:
"Adam Ostry, the CEO of Ontario Media Development Corp, has argued that one solution to the problem of Ontario's declining share of production activity is the construction in Toronto of a state-of-the-art sound stage complex. This facility is needed to attract the big-budget, special-effects film productions which generate significant levels of economic activity. It appears that in recent years, the superior sound stage facilities in Vancouver and Montreal are an important reason why those cities are now attracting big-budget film productions."
He's recommending that's what we do, that we create a better state-of-the-art sound stage complex as a way of solving some of the drop. I'm assuming he's probably right. Do you have any thoughts about that?
Ms Rogers: I have also read what you have read. I have not heard Adam explain in detail why he believes building a state-of-the-art sound production system would increase production in Ontario. Given the facts I read, though, as I read them, they state that was one of the driving reasons to increase production in both Montreal and Vancouver. If what I've read is accurate, then that should boost production here in Ontario.
Mr Marchese: Right, except we have to create it before that happens, right? We have to actually build it.
Ms Rogers: Again, I cannot speak for Adam, but I would not assume he means that the government should build it.
Mr Marchese: Right, and that somehow we should find the money for it. I don't know where we're going to find the money for it.
Ms Rogers: My interpretation was, he was in the belief that it's a private sector initiative.
Mr Marchese: It usually is. With this government everything is private sector initiative and/or at least making sure government and the private sector get involved in doing things, so I'm assuming that's the way we're going to find the money. God bless, and hopefully that will happen in this case.
Can I ask you about tax credits in the field? There's the Ontario production services tax credit, Ontario computer animation and special effects tax credit, Ontario interactive digital media tax credit, Ontario book publishers tax credit. You're familiar with all those programs and the tax credits we provide for them?
Ms Rogers: I have read them over recently. Again, I haven't actually joined the board yet.
Mr Marchese: I just wondered if you had an opinion about whether a tax credit is effective, not effective, whether we need to do more or less, what else we should be doing. Any thoughts on that?
Ms Rogers: I hesitate to give an opinion when I don't have all the information before me, one of the reasons being it might be a very ill-informed opinion.
Mr Marchese: Ms Rogers, I wish you luck.
Ms Rogers: Thank you.
The Chair: That is the end of your questioning then?
Mr Marchese: That's it.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Rogers, and you may step down.
Mr Wood: Mr Chair, I wonder if the committee might be interested in dealing with the concurrences from this morning right now.
The Chair: Is there any thought on that? Does anyone wish to object to dealing with the concurrences?
Mr Marchese: Dealing with what, Bob?
Mr Wood: Dealing with concurrences right now for this morning.
Mr Marchese: Of course.
Mr Wood: In that case, I will move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Taylor.
Mr Marchese: Can I recommend we move concurrence with all of them so that we can dispense with the-
Mr Wood: Yes, I'd be pleased to.
The Chair: Actually, I would prefer if we did them individually, if we can, because that would be perhaps a bit frivolous. I'll ask Mr Taylor-
Mr Marchese: Oh, no, no, it wasn't frivolous.
The Chair: I realize that, but for the committee it might be. I know what you're saying-
Mr Wood: If Mr Crozier agrees with it, I'll do it.
Mr Crozier: Pardon me?
Mr Wood: Do you want to deal with-
Mr Crozier: Sure, let's deal with them individually.
Mr Marchese: If there's no disagreement, I would prefer that we deal with it all at once.
The Chair: I'm not going to accept that particular suggestion. I'm ruling that we're going to do it individually, because I can't make any presumptions as to how they will go. That's fine. It will only take a moment.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in Mr Taylor.
The Chair: Any discussion on Mr Taylor's appointment? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in Mr Miller.
The Chair: Any discussion on Mr Miller's appointment? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in Mr Betts.
The Chair: Any discussion? All in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence in Ms Rogers.
The Chair: Any discussion? All in favour? Opposed? Carried. We are adjourned till 2 pm this afternoon.
Mr Wood: There's one other matter of concurrence we could deal with, if desired, and that's item 3. I move concurrence in the intended appointment of Mr Johnston.
The Chair: For Mr Marchese, who was not the designated member for the New Democratic Party at that time, Mr Johnston appeared before the committee. There were questions directed to Mr Johnston at the request of Mr Wood. It was delayed until a future time, and that concurrence is now coming before the committee. Do you wish to move that now?
Mr Wood: So moved.
The Chair: Any discussion? All in favour? Opposed? Motion carried.
This afternoon we will return at 2 pm for the intended appointee as member, McMichael Canadian Art Collection board of trustees, Jan Dymond. The meeting is adjourned for this morning till 2 pm.
The committee recessed from 1137 to 1406.
The Chair: I'm going to call the meeting to order. Ordinarily we might look at different circumstances, but we're going to begin.
Review of intended appointment, selected by official opposition party: Jan Dymond, intended appointee as member, McMichael Canadian Art Collection board of trustees.
The Chair: Our intended appointee this afternoon is an intended appointee as member, McMichael Canadian Art Collection board of trustees. I'll ask Janice Dymond to come forward-although I've never known her as Janice Dymond; it is Jan Dymond who is before us.
Ms Dymond, you know that you have the opportunity to make a statement at the beginning-we dutifully subtract the time from the government side when we do this-but that should never intimidate you, because I'm sure we will enjoy your initial remarks. Then each of the parties that is here and wishes to direct questions to you will do so for 10 minutes apiece maximum. Welcome to the committee.
Ms Jan Dymond: Thank you very much. I do have a brief opening statement. I will try not to take up too much of the government members' time with it.
Good afternoon, Mr Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Jan Dymond, and I would like to thank the committee for providing me with this opportunity to meet with you today to share with you my qualifications for what is actually a reappointment to the board of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. You may know that I have served as a trustee of the McMichael since October 1999. As a board appointee, my position ceased to exist with the proclamation of Bill 112. I am pleased that the government has invited me to continue my service with this board.
I would like to take a couple of minutes to give you a sense of my professional experience as well as my background in the cultural field.
In my professional life, I am the principal in a strategic communications consulting firm, Janus Strategy Group. I formed Janus just over a year ago, after working in partnership in a more broadly focused public relations company for over 12 years. I work primarily with clients who are instituting significant organizational change and who need support to communicate this change to their various stakeholders.
From 1981 to 1985, I worked here at Queen's Park as communications assistant to, first, the parliamentary assistant to and then the Minister of Citizenship and Culture. For about 10 years prior to that, I worked in documentary, public affairs and educational film and television production as a researcher, writer, director and producer.
But none of this tells you why I want to serve as a trustee of the McMichael. For that, I think I have to go back many more years. I was born in Ottawa but was raised in Toronto from the age of three. I consider myself fortunate to have been raised in a family where the arts were part of my day-to-day life. My parents, through their active involvement in community and charitable organizations, also instilled in me a responsibility to make a contribution other than through work and family. One of the ways I have chosen to do that is through involvement with cultural institutions.
My first involvement was as a member of the development committee and the marketing committee at the Art Gallery of Ontario. These were board committees charged with raising funds through both special events and tradition fundraising activities. In 1993, I was honoured with an appointment to the board of the National Gallery of Canada. At the National Gallery I served on several committees including the governance committee, acquisitions committee, marketing and program committee, and the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, which I chaired.
I was approached to become a councillor to the McMichael in 1998. At the time, I was recruited specifically to participate as a member of the retail and marketing committee, an area that fitted well with my professional background as a communications consultant and with my then client groups. As a councillor I had the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the gallery, its challenges and its opportunities.
In 1999, I accepted an appointment to the board as a trustee. There is no question that I chose to join the board at a time of some considerable changes, and I did so because I believe strongly that the McMichael, with its particular focus, has a valuable role to play in telling the story of Canadian art.
The best boards, in my view, are those that have people who collectively can bring a wide range of expertise and experience to their deliberations. I hope I can bring my experience in marketing, change communications and public sector governance to the benefit of the collection and to its stewardship on behalf of the people of Ontario.
I thank you for your attention and look forward to answering your questions.
The Chair: We will commence the questioning with the official opposition.
Mr Crozier: Good afternoon, Ms Dymond. Welcome to the committee hearing. I appreciate that you started your comments by saying you appreciated the opportunity to come here and tell us why you wanted to be reappointed to this board. So often when folks come before the committee, they believe there is some sort of ulterior motive as to why we have you here, and that couldn't be further from the truth.
Recently a constituent called me on an issue and, as part of the conversation, said, "What do you do?" So as a public relations and public affairs consulting person, what do you do?
Ms Dymond: That's a good question. What I do varies a little from client to client, but principally I work with clients who are going through some kind of major organizational change. Change is often difficult for people; it's difficult for organizations. Because large organizations have quite a wide range of stakeholders, they need assistance in figuring out the best way to let their employees, their shareholders, their suppliers and their customers understand why they're making the changes and how those changes will ultimately be of benefit to the organization and, hopefully, to all the stakeholders as individuals as well.
Mr Crozier: I'll look at Hansard again, when I'm asked what public relations consultants do, and I'll use that as a reference.
Ms Dymond: I should be clear that I have in the past practised public relations; I really don't do very much of that any more. My practice is currently focused on what is usually referred to as strategic communications planning. We work quite often with the business change unit within a larger firm, providing communication support to the other kinds of business transformation activities that are going on. I really don't do public relations any more, which is more involved with direct running of media campaigns, media conferences and those kinds of things. I have really stepped back from that and have focused my practice much more.
Mr Crozier: Would the same definition apply to work you've done for the government?
Ms Dymond: To some extent, yes.
Mr Crozier: You've been on the McMichael Canadian Art Collection board of trustees as a board appointee since-
Ms Dymond: October 1999.
Mr Crozier: When Bill 112, An Act to amend the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Act, was proposed in June 2000 and its subsequent process, I don't doubt you were quite aware of what was transpiring in that discussion.
Ms Dymond: Yes.
Mr Crozier: I'd like to ask a couple of questions in relation to that. There is, at least in the view of some, a legal obligation on behalf of the board of trustees to divest the gallery of perhaps as many as thousands of works of art. But again, in the view of some, there isn't any clear statutory criterion to guide you in that divestiture. Could you comment on that?
Ms Dymond: Yes. The act, as I read it, is enabling. I don't think there is a requirement to divest. I think that one of the responsibilities of the board, and it may well be something that initiates with the governance committee or the acquisitions committee, will be to develop those kinds of guidelines.
Mr Crozier: So you're able to develop, then, the policy under which these works of art would be dealt with?
Ms Dymond: I think it would be a responsibility of the board to do that in the absence of any direction in the legislation, yes.
Mr Crozier: The legislation does outline the nature of the collection: that the board should ensure the collection reflects the cultural heritage of Canada etc. You may even be aware of the section; it's section 8 of the act. It lists a number of artists and then goes on to say, "Other artists who have been designated by the art advisory committee" under another clause. Would it be in those two areas that you feel the board has the flexibility to determine what pieces of art will be sold and what will be-
Ms Dymond: I believe one of the other sections of the act-I'm sorry, I can't cite the section number-indicates that the art acquisitions committee would be in the position to make recommendations about the disposition, de-accession of certain works. If the art acquisitions committee were to make a recommendation and the board were to accept that recommendation, then clearly there would need to be some kind of policy in place for how that de-accession would happen.
Mr Crozier: I have an interest in this, because I'm a citizen of Ontario. I may not be a constituent who has a keen interest in it, but you're acting on my behalf nevertheless. If you can define it, how will you personally approach this responsibility of keeping this collection one that reflects the cultural heritage of Canada? What would be some of the processes of decision you will go through to make sure that happens?
Ms Dymond: The act clearly states that the art acquisitions committee has the primary responsibility for that. As a board member, I think I would want to look at not just the recommendation but the reasons behind it. Art and the ability to determine who has made a contribution to the development of Canadian art is obviously something that can be subject to personal interpretation. I may well have a different view than you or someone else on the art acquisitions committee. But I think the only approach one can take is to look at it on the artistic and academic merits.
Part of the role of staff at a gallery like the McMichael or the National Gallery, where I was also involved, is to do a lot of research work that would help the board members make those kinds of determinations. I would not necessarily base it on my personal preferences but rather on the academic and curatorial merits of whether something actually fits within the designation.
Mr Crozier: Is it the responsibility of the board to operate in-I was going to use the words "a financially responsibility way." I don't want to put it quite that way, because I think we all should. Is it the responsibility of the board to see that this art collection meets the objectives as put out in here, and to what extent should the board do this, considering making a profit or running at a deficit, if you know what I mean? How do you balance the financial and the cultural?
Ms Dymond: In terms of the actual collection itself, clearly the board is required to ensure that the collection reflects the mandate. That's a given, and I don't think there are necessarily financial issues around that, unless of course you get into questions about spending more than you've got on acquisitions, and I don't think that is what you're referring to. I think the financial issues flow more around the expenses of the gallery, the ability to put together exhibitions that will attract people to attend the gallery, that will attract corporate sponsors. But those are more around the kinds of works you exhibit rather than the kinds of works you collect.
Mr Crozier: How am I doing, Chair?
The Chair: You have one more question.
Mr Crozier: When it comes to disposing of some of the art-some of it has been given to the gallery for a variety of reasons: some in memory, some maybe simply for tax purposes-how do you feel about that, that perhaps you are going to be divesting the gallery of some of these pieces of art that were given in good faith with a view that these pieces would be there forever?
Ms Dymond: If I can go back to my earlier comments, I think that's why it's very important that the gallery-and it would be the board of the gallery, I think, that would have the responsibility to do this-put in place a very responsible policy to address possible disposition or de-accession of art. Obviously, there can be tax implications for donors, and there can be legal implications for the gallery and the board. I don't think anyone would want to de-accession pieces in a way that would impact negatively on the gallery or, for that matter, on the Ontario and Canadian artists whose works not may be considered suitable for the McMichael but are still very suitable and terrific examples of Canadian art of their genre.
The Chair: That completes your questions. We now move to the government members.
Mr Wood: We'll waive the balance of our time.
The Chair: The government members have waived their time.
Seeing no more questions being requested, thank you very much, Ms Dymond, for appearing before the committee.
We will now proceed with concurring in the intended appointment.
Mr Wood: I move concurrence re Ms Dymond.
The Chair: Mr Wood has moved concurrence. All in favour? Opposed? The motion is carried.
Mr Wood: I wonder if I might raise one other matter of business before we adjourn.
During the intersession, when we have only five appointments to review on a day, I wonder if we might schedule the fifth at noon rather than at 2.
The Chair: Yes, we would normally do so. In this case, our intended appointee in the afternoon was unavailable in the morning. Otherwise, we would have done so. That's an excellent suggestion. Our clerk always tries to ensure, where it is possible, that we do everyone in a morning session when we would only have one or two in the afternoon. Thank you for the suggestion. We certainly would have done that in this case if that were possible.
Mr Wood: Thank you.
The Chair: Any further business for the committee? If not, I'll entertain a motion to adjourn.
Mr Wood: So moved.
The Chair: Mr Wood moves that we adjourn. All in favour? Opposed? Motion carried.
The committee adjourned at 1424.