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Legislative Assembly of Ontario
June 6, 2006
Mr. Garfield Dunlop (Simcoe North): My comments today relate to two events that occurred in the House yesterday.
To begin with, I'd like to thank the Liberal caucus for their support of John Tory's opposition day motion. I am pleased that you agree to recommend to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that a commission be appointed to inquire into and report on how the absence of communication and a lack of leadership by Premier McGuinty and his Liberal government allowed the Caledonia situation to escalate to a full-blown standoff and a public security crisis.
Secondly, I'd like to provide clarification to two non-answers I received from the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services yesterday. In the question, I did not ask about Lewis MacKenzie and Norman Inkster; I asked what additional resources the McGuinty government had provided to police services to fight counterterrorism since their election. The minister did not answer. I'm sure I know the answer: No additional resources have been made available to police services to fight counterterrorism.
In my supplementary, I asked the minister if he would commit to the House that he would not cut the previously planned $1.76 million from the CISO budget next May. He refused to answer that question as well, instead turning to insults toward me. So to the people of Ontario and to the good folks at CISO, the McGuinty government is planning to cut $1.76 million from CISO next May. That is money to fight counterterrorism. How much softer on crime could a government possibly be?
Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): Yesterday, this Ontario Legislature approved a motion calling for an inquiry into the mismanagement of the Caledonia-Six Nations land dispute. I do commend all three parties in this Legislative Assembly for allowing this motion to pass, allowing for an inquiry, rather than waiting 10 years. Given the dearth of communication about the dispute identified in yesterday's motion, people want to know what's going on. They want to learn about events in Caledonia and Six Nations. People don't want another armchair inquiry years after the fact. We must constantly monitor; we must constantly evaluate.
In business, you have to know at the end of each day how much you've made or lost. As red flags pop up, you deal with them and you prevent them, as articulated in the motion: to wit, a commission directed to "preventing similar chaotic confrontations" and to "improve dispute resolution."
To the McGuinty government: As we go forward with this inquiry, be cautious when you call this inquiry. Don't jeopardize the negotiations and any progress that may have been made. Don't interfere with Superior Court Justice David Marshall's work.
I do commend all three parties for supporting this motion passed in this Legislature on June 5. I look forward to helping with this inquiry.
Mr. Norm Miller (Parry Sound-Muskoka): The McGuinty government has not only failed miserably in preventing or resolving the occupation of land in Caledonia, but it has set a troubling precedent for shirking provincial responsibilities.
I was shocked at the abdication of responsibility voiced by the Premier's minister responsible for aboriginal affairs yesterday as we debated this government's mishandling of the situation in Caledonia. The minister alleged that, "Ontario has probably exhausted all the tools that we have available," and "It is only the federal government that has the tools to resolve an outstanding land claim...."
How can you say that the issue is about an outstanding land claim and try to pass the buck? Your own website that lists current land claims and related negotiations does not include the Six Nations or the property in Caledonia, and you personally acknowledged yesterday that, "The dispute really is an accounting claim, by and large."
With respect to the occupied site, the federal government does not have jurisdiction over the title. In addition, regulations around land use, construction and development are under provincial jurisdiction. The issue of public safety in this situation is also a provincial responsibility.
Premier McGuinty should have known and acted on the local concerns since they were first voiced by Six Nations in August 2005, yet he did not.
Isn't it a fact that the provincial government is responsible for the most immediate issues in Caledonia, all of which you have failed to address: title on the land in question, land use and development policies, public safety and highways?
Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): My question is for the Premier. Premier, yesterday, this House endorsed our leader John Tory's motion for your government to call a full public inquiry into the handling of the Caledonia situation and the resulting violence there. In a Legislature where your party has a 2-to-1 majority, it was recognized that your procrastination and failure to show leadership when it was most needed allowed the situation to escalate into a public safety crisis. Premier, will you respect the democratic will of the Legislature and call a full public inquiry?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): No, I will not join with my Conservative colleagues in playing politics with a very important, complicated and sensitive issue. The members opposite seem to think that the issue of Caledonia is a laughing matter; we see it differently on this side of the House. We are going to approach this on a continuing basis in the same manner with which we've approached it to date. We will be patient. We will bring respect. We will bring goodwill. We will persevere. We will work as long and as hard as is necessary to resolve this in a peaceful manner.
Mr. Runciman: Premier, while you've been racking up your travel points traipsing all over the country, you and your colleagues have been missing in action on a serious and escalating situation in Caledonia. Surely you can't be satisfied with your government's handling of this situation. If you will not call for an inquiry, then how can you learn from your mistakes? How do you intend to assure Ontarians that they will not be subjected to the mistakes your government has made, mistakes this House has told your government it has made, from occurring again? Will you respect the democratic will of the House and proceed with an inquiry?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: I think it's really important for the benefit of the people of Ontario that we remove that which is under the table and put it on top of the table. We have a decidedly different approach in these matters. The party opposite would prefer that we direct a police action. Let's be honest about where they're coming from in this regard. That is their preference.
We bring a different approach. It is thoughtful; it's based on our recent understanding of some painful lessons in the history of this province. We will proceed in the same manner that we have to date. We will work closely with the federal government, we will be cautious, we will be thorough, we will be thoughtful, we will do everything we can to bring all the parties to the table so that we can resolve this in a peaceful manner.
Mr. Runciman: That's a familiar and totally offensive allegation. The Premier should be made aware of the sub judice convention when he goes down that road.
Premier, so much for your promises of democratic renewal: Reject and ignore the will of the Legislature. From day one, due to your lack of leadership and that of your cabinet, your government has procrastinated, pointed fingers and mishandled the situation in Caledonia until it's become a full-blown public crisis.
Yesterday, members of this House spoke loud and clear. They said there has to be a public inquiry into your mismanagement of the Caledonia standoff. During the election campaign, you promised to promote democratic renewal, but once again you've failed to follow through. Premier, when you have a chance, why do you choose to break another promise, why do you choose to ignore the will of this assembly and why do you refuse to call a public inquiry into your mishandling of the Caledonia standoff?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: I prefer to be direct with Ontarians. Again, the Conservatives prefer that we direct the police and that we send them out on some kind of police action. We see things differently. They have not drawn the appropriate lessons from what happened some four years ago. We have.
Just a little over four weeks ago, in fact, MPP Toby Barrett said, in reference to the OPP, "They're getting, obviously, no sense of direction or leadership from the government. There's got to be some kind of direction for the OPP."
At least Mr. Barrett is straightforward and direct with respect to the perspective he brings in this. But I suggest to my friend opposite that he really should own up to the fact that the objection he has, in terms of the approach we have taken, is that we have refused to direct the Ontario Provincial Police. We will not apologize for doing that. We will not apologize for working as hard as we can to obtain a --
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you. New question.
Mr. Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): Premier, I remind you that today is day 99 of the crisis in Caledonia. Yesterday this House endorsed John Tory's motion for your government to call a full public inquiry into your mishandling of the crisis in Caledonia.
Premier, are you a man of your word? During the election campaign, you said you would make this place work better. You promised to respect free votes and, above all else, the will of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Are you a man of your word? Will you call the inquiry voted on in the House last night?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: I draw from that that the principal objection being raised by the member opposite is that this has gone 99 days largely without incident, without injury and without war. I suggest that the member opposite tell us, then, on what particular day -- if he's not satisfied with the police not having rushed in on the 99th day -- would he have directed the Ontario Provincial Police to enter?
Mr. Hudak: With all due respect, I cannot believe the Premier just said "without incident." Where has the Premier been? When were you going to get out from behind your desk, Premier?
In the last 98 days we have seen a major highway torn up by a backhoe; we have seen blockades restricting the right to free travel; we may very well have seen a major energy transmission site sabotaged, working into a major blackout; and we saw sad, violent and unforgettable images of local residents engaged in a massive brawl to the point of riot. And what have we seen from this Premier? Barely a peep from beneath his desk.
Premier, when are you going to show some leadership? When are you going to stand up and call a full public inquiry into the crisis in Caledonia?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: It's not about the inquiry. It's never been about the inquiry. What the member opposite is asking us to do is to direct the Ontario Provincial Police in the conduct of a police action. We will not do that. We will not apologize for making every effort possible to work with the federal government, to work with the First Nations community, to work with the community of Caledonia, to work with all those who have a sincere desire to bring about a resolution that is ultimately peaceful. That is our objective. We remain firm in seeking out that objective.
Mr. Hudak: I say to the Premier that I know you wish you could tap your heels three times and make all of this go away, but there are times, Premier, particularly at times like these, when you need to stand up and show some leadership and do the right thing. A community that has been healthy and vibrant and strong is being torn apart at the seams. This crisis, now in 99 days, has become the poster child for your lack of leadership.
As you know, the motion yesterday, passed by the assembly, said in part, "To recognize that the Premier's procrastination and failure to show leadership when it was most needed allowed this situation to escalate into a public safety crisis." Premier, the people of Halton, the people of Six Nations, the people of Norfolk, the people of Hamilton, the people of Ontario want to know, when are you going to get out from underneath your desk, call a full inquiry and investigate the lack of leadership you have shown in this matter?
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: The Conservatives remain stuck in some era long gone by. The approach they advocate, I say with every conviction, is completely out of keeping with the values of the people of Ontario at the beginning of the 21st century. They understand that this is a complicated matter. It is steeped in over a century of history. It is really important that the parties do everything they possibly can to cultivate some foundation of respect and goodwill. That's what we've been working very hard to do, together with our federal partners, together with the First Nations community, together with the local community. We will not abandon our responsibility to bring real leadership to this issue. Again, we will continue to work as hard as we can to foster the kind of climate that will ultimately lead to a peaceful resolution.
Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): My question is to the Premier. Your Minister of Health Promotion has identified physical activity and sports participation as key activities to directly contribute to healthy Ontarians and stronger communities. Premier, as you know, last week I appealed to this Legislative Assembly and I've appealed to elite athletes in Caledonia and Six Nations, to coaches and parents and to community leaders to take the lead in promoting healthy competition among young people in Six Nations and Caledonia.
Premier, given my appeal in this House last week, what has your Minister of Health Promotion now done to promote this goal, to take a lead with respect to the sports teams in Caledonia and Six Nations?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): I'm going to refer this to the minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.
Hon. David Ramsay (Minister of Natural Resources, minister responsible for aboriginal affairs): I'm very pleased to see the constructive attitude that the member is bringing to this, because all the way through the Caledonia conflict, we've been working with both communities to try to bring them together. Ideas like these in health promotion and sports activity -- and as the member well knows, lacrosse is a common sport, and the two communities share hockey as a passion, as all Canadians do. These sorts of constructive ideas are very helpful for us in working out this particular conflict. I salute the question.
Mr. Barrett: Minister and Premier, there is a reason for your Ministry of Health Promotion beyond cutting ribbons and self-promotion at media events. There is a crisis with respect to culture and recreation. There is a concern about local anger impacting access to sports facilities. I warned this House last week that opposing teams are unwilling to show up for baseball games. This flies in the face of the objectives of stronger communities through that particular ministry.
Premier or Minister, athletes are suffering. Their games are either cancelled outright or they're rescheduled into the future. What are you doing, where are you, where's your minister to keep these games on track both in Caledonia and in Six Nations? People aren't showing up; they want you to show up.
Hon. Mr. Ramsay: I would ask the member, being the local member who has all the connections in the community, if maybe he could help us in doing that, in bringing the two communities together. I think that's a very helpful suggestion, and we could certainly use his help there. As you know, we have been working with the liaison group from the Caledonia community, which is made up of municipal officials, business officials and other community reps. On the cultural-recreational side, this is a very important interface the two communities have there, both Six Nations and the residents of Caledonia. So these suggestions are helpful. I'd ask the member to work with us, with the various people from the government of all ministries. They're on the ground in his riding trying to resolve this situation.
Mr. Howard Hampton (Kenora-Rainy River): My question is for the Premier. Many of us have felt for some months that your government has procrastinated, mismanaged and failed to show leadership with respect to the events that have unfortunately unfolded at Caledonia. Yesterday we saw some more of that failure of leadership: A motion was presented here in the Legislature, and members of your government somehow couldn't decide if they were in favour or if they were opposed, or what the McGuinty government's position was on the resolution. As a result, it was passed unanimously.
So my question is this, Premier: Are you going to call an inquiry into the situation at Caledonia so First Nations can get the full details on how the McGuinty government has dropped the ball, or is it your position that you merely dropped the ball again yesterday?
Hon. Dalton McGuinty (Premier, Minister of Research and Innovation): Frankly, I'm surprised that the leader of the NDP, who generally expresses a sincere desire to address aboriginal issues, would also engage in this political mischief-making. I'm sure that the member opposite, the leader of the NDP, understands that this is an issue of some sensitivity, of a great deal of complexity, that he understands it is very important that we approach this with respect and goodwill, with patience and with perseverance, all of which we will continue to bring to the challenge before us.
Mr. Hampton: Premier, what I understand is that this issue didn't come out of nowhere suddenly. The issues at Caledonia have been serious issues for over a year, and your government did nothing but procrastinate. Then, when the issues became serious and there was a picket, a protest, your government claims to be negotiating, but lo and behold, then in go the Ontario Provincial Police and First Nations are left asking, "Were we negotiating or were we being forcibly removed?"
Then yesterday, when I would have hoped someone on the government side was paying attention to the debate and the discussion, your own members couldn't decide whether to stand up and vote for or vote against, and ended up passing the resolution unanimously. I say, again, Premier, my question is this: Are you going to hold the public inquiry so that First Nations can begin to understand what your government is doing, or are you simply going to write off --
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Thank you. The question has been asked.
Hon. Mr. McGuinty: If there is a single element in that diatribe which somehow might serve as a positive, constructive suggestion to help us better address the situation before us, then I guess I missed it.
What we will continue to do is, we will work with the federal government. We will work with the local community. We will work with the First Nations communities. We will do everything we can, bring everything possible to bear, to ensure that this results in a peaceful resolution.
Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): Une autre bonne question, this time for the Minister of Community Safety. Yesterday, CHCH-TV reported that this past Sunday evening in Caledonia, two OPP officers were taken into custody by native protesters and charged with trespassing by Six Nations police after they drove onto occupied land. Apparently, during the confrontation, the police cruiser's window was smashed.
Minister, can you confirm that this incident occurred, and if it did, can you advise the House if the action taken by First Nations police was appropriate, and if the charges laid against the OPP officers will be pursued?
Hon. Monte Kwinter (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services): I can confirm that that event happened. But the situation is that the two OPP officers who had been assigned to the Caledonia area, who were not familiar with it, made a wrong turn. That was the extent of what happened. As a result of that, there was a reaction. That is something that is now being investigated, and I'm not in a position to comment on it, but I can tell you this: There was nothing untoward about it. It was a mistake they had made. They made a wrong turn and, because of the sensitivity and the tension in that area, it got out of hand within that very, very limited situation. That is now being investigated. That's a police matter and they will deal with it.
Mr. Runciman: Yes, it certainly is interesting that the Minister of Community Safety is talking about the police making a wrong turn.
After the arrest of the OPP officers, a spokesperson for the occupiers, a Ms. Jamieson, told the media that the action was taken against the OPP after they entered a "no-go zone." Those are her words, not mine. Minister, can you tell the Legislative Assembly if there is such a thing as a no-go zone for Ontario police in the province of Ontario, and if so, why it should exist?
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: I'm sure everybody in this House understands the situation in Caledonia. They understand that there is a very fragile relationship going on because of the negotiations that are happening. This was a situation that wasn't intentional. Two officers made a wrong turn. You may think that these people should be infallible and they shouldn't make a wrong turn, but they did. That is being investigated by the police and it will be dealt with in a proper way. To try to escalate this into something that isn't there is just irresponsible.
Mr. Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant): To the Minister of Community Safety: Your government's Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the tax hikes have created close to 300 smoke shops on Six Nations and the New Credit reserve. The Tekka newspaper reports that smugglers and organized crime benefit from this. Just as you've left the OPP on the barricades in an untenable position, you've left the Six Nations police out on a limb. They could use some of that $9 billion that your government and other governments collect in tobacco taxes across Canada.
Minister, I'm not asking you to stick your nose into operational matters. It's not your responsibility to direct police matters. However, given the current crisis in Caledonia, I would like to know what you have done since I raised these concerns with you a year ago.
Hon. Monte Kwinter (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services): I don't quite understand the purpose of the question, when you said right in it that I don't have any responsibility for that, and you're not asking me to stick my nose into it, and in the meantime you're asking me to stick my nose into it. If you would just clarify exactly what you want me to do, I'll be happy to respond.
Mr. Barrett: I'd be glad to clarify. We have reports of the presence of organized crime on Six Nations. It's in my hometown in Port Dover, Brantford and it's in this city. I'm afraid that Six Nations is being taken advantage of by various groups. This is reported by the Six Nations police. I quote the Tekka newspaper: "There is specific evidence of the presence of major motorcycle gang operations, Italian mafia, Russian mafia, Sri Lankan and Asian mafias, as well as Jamaican drug gang operatives working within the relative safety of native communities"; reports of Hells Angels.
Minister, you do not understand the scope of these issues that I raised a year ago. If you did understand, then please tell us what you've done to support the Six Nations. You accrue tax revenue. I requested this a year ago. I'm not asking you to direct the police. I'm offering you a chance to provide some support to the Six Nations community.
Hon. Mr. Kwinter: The support that we provide is with policing. We provide that so that they in fact deal with guns and gangs, they deal with illegal smuggling, they deal with all of the things that happen. That is what they're doing. You're asking me to do something about directing those police services to do something, and in the next sentence you say you're not asking me to do that. I'm suggesting to you that this is covered by normal police operations. They're certainly aware of that issue. This is something they deal with. Again, it is not my role to tell the police how to deal with that particular situation.
Mr. Tim Hudak (Erie-Lincoln): A question to the Chair of Management Board: Could the Chair inform the House of the cost to the OPP and municipalities of the ongoing policing costs in Caledonia?
Hon. Greg Sorbara (Minister of Finance, Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet): I cannot tell the member what the costs are, but I will take his question as a matter under advisement and get back to him at the earliest possible moment, perhaps even when we meet again in estimates a little later on this afternoon. But I should say to my friend that right throughout the government, in every ministry, my job as Chair of Management Board, along with my cabinet colleagues, is to make sure that we are using every single taxpayer dollar in the most efficient and effective way possible. And so my friend, the minister responsible for the police force, the Minister of Community Safety, has to present a budget every year that shows us on this side that the taxpayers' dollars that we are receiving are being used very wisely. That applies to all of us over here. So I will get to him the answer that he wants -- oh, my goodness; we were almost there, weren't we?
Mr. Hudak: I appreciate the minister's response to my question. I understand he's going to endeavour to report back on the ongoing cost to both the OPP and to municipalities for the policing costs in Caledonia.
The Chair of Management Board will know that in the motion passed by the assembly last night calling for the full public inquiry, the Legislature did call for the government to recognize and compensate the Ontario Provincial Police for their unforeseen costs incurred while policing Caledonia. The minister knows full well that municipalities also pay part of those costs. It would help municipalities if they will be compensated. So I'll ask the Chair of Management Board if he will follow through on that aspect of the motion to ensure that the OPP and municipalities are fully compensated for the police costs.
Hon. Mr. Sorbara: Among the things that I will take under advisement is his supplementary, and will get back to him, perhaps even by way of a written response, or perhaps as we spend the next few hours over the next couple of weeks in estimates. I appreciate his interest and will endeavour to satisfy his inquiry.
Mr. Robert W. Runciman (Leeds-Grenville): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I'd like to refer you to section 23(g) of the standing orders. I believe that earlier today the Premier may have violated the sub judice convention and may have, inadvertently or otherwise, prejudiced the proceedings of the Ipperwash inquiry.
If you read the references in our standing order 23(g), it says, with respect to referring to "any matter that is the subject of a proceeding
"(i) that is pending in a court or before a judge for judicial determination, or
"(ii) that is before any quasi-judicial body constituted by the House or by or under the authority of an act of the Legislature,
"where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Speaker that further reference would create a real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceeding."
There are also references in Marleau to the sub judice convention. I would refer you to page 535: "any undue influence prejudicing a judicial decision or a report of a tribunal of inquiry."
Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully ask you to review Hansard dealing with today's question period: the comments made by the Premier with respect to the previous government and learning our lessons, and references to ordering police to enter into a confrontation with occupiers. In my view, that clearly is going to colour any judgments reached by the Ipperwash inquiry, and the Premier should be sanctioned for making those comments.
The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): On the same point of order, the member for Niagara Centre.
Mr. Peter Kormos (Niagara Centre): Very briefly, New Democrats join with the House leader for the official opposition in this point of order. It's a matter of some great concern, and appreciating that the sub judice rule, the common-law rule, does not specifically apply to royal commissions because royal commissions are investigative bodies, not adjudicative bodies -- in fact, Montpetit and Marleau refer to that very specifically in their section on sub judice, specifically page 536.
They go further, though, because they note that in the federal Parliament while the sub judice common-law rule, the unwritten rule, does not apply to royal commissions, "the Chair has cautioned against making reference to the proceedings, evidence, or findings of a royal commission before it has made its report." So on the basis of the sub judice rule alone, the common-law rule, the point of order, I think and I submit to you, is appropriate.
But then we go to the standing orders, and the standing orders are broader than the sub judice rule because the standing orders specifically state not just judicial proceedings, to which the sub judice rule applies, but also a proceeding "that is before any quasi-judicial body constituted by the House or by or under the authority of an act of the Legislature."
That, I put to you, is a royal commission, and I say to you that while there is the necessity "where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Speaker that further reference would create a real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceeding," that can be implicit in the words.
We concur with the Conservative House leader that when the Premier refers to conclusively ordering the police to do X, Y or Z, which is one of the subject matters of the consideration of the royal commission, that prima facie, in and of itself, suggests that there is a predetermination by the Premier of the results and the appearance -- whether it occurs or not is not the point; the appearance -- of a direction by the Premier to what should be an independent tribunal, to whit that royal commission.
I submit to you that the Premier, in this instance, at least warrants the caution that the Chair made as referenced on page 536 of Montpetit and Marleau. Further, there should be consideration of the application of standing order 23(g)(ii).
The Speaker: On the same point of order, the Attorney General.
Hon. Michael Bryant (Attorney General): Firstly, I'd remind the Speaker that there was a question put. The question was with respect to a matter and to a fact situation that involves ongoing prosecutions before the courts. The question involved a matter involving an injunction order that is being supervised by Mr. Justice David Marshall. The question involved matters involving ongoing prosecutions on related matters. The question, in that sense, that was asked by the member who's bringing the standing order arguably is entirely out of order because it is with respect to matters that are before the courts, an express reading of the standing orders. It appears to have been --
Hon. Mr. Bryant: Speaker, I didn't heckle their point of order submissions. I'd rather have the opportunity to speak to it, but I'm in your hands.
Mr. John Yakabuski (Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke): I think the Speaker can rule. He doesn't need your --
Hon. Christopher Bentley (Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities): Get in your seat.
The Speaker: I would remind the member for Renfrew -- he's not in his seat, and heckling, of course, is always out of order. The Attorney General.
Hon. Mr. Bryant: I can assure the members opposite that, with a little bit of patience, I'll get to their point.
The point being that it apparently has been the practice of the Speaker for some time that, in fact, the nature of the questions, although they may in the case of the questioner in particular, who has discussed matters before the courts not only today in his question but on frequent occasions, and evidence of this I'll be happy to forward to the Speaker -- we obviously didn't get notice of this point of order. I'd be happy to forward to the Speaker the numerous times in which the member who has brought the point of order has been a serial violator of the sub judice rule.
In any event, besides the violation of the sub judice rule in his question, the issue before the Speaker is whether or not in question period it is out of order to raise matters that are before the courts. If that's the case, then the question itself ought to have been ruled out of order. The Speaker did not rule it so. The member asked the question in the way that he did, and whether he asked it in a way that violated the sub judice rule or not is something that, I take it, has been the practice and convention of the Speaker to be left to the member, to ask that question in that fashion or not.
Then we get to the question of whether or not the sub judice rule was violated with respect to the answer itself. Speaker, there is no question that any cursory look at the Hansard will show that a very careful consideration of the way in which members refer to matters with respect to a commission or a potential commission is very important. The question involved very specific fact situations by the member who not only made the question but made the point of order, and clearly he identified matters that are directly before the courts. If his argument would be correct, he would be in violation of the very rule he has raised.
Conversely, it is very clear from the answer the Premier made, if you look at the Hansard, that in fact there was absolutely no reference to any matter that is before the commissioner, as we speak, because of course there is a public inquiry into matters related to the death of Dudley George. The purpose of the sub judice rule, as the Speaker knows very well, is to ensure that this Legislature is not interfering with matters that ought to be the subject of independent judgment, that ought not be subject to political pressure. So it is in the name of decorum and it is in the name of the independence of the judiciary that there is not only that standing order but, as the House leader for the third party referred to, there is also a common-law rule of sub judice that applies.
Lastly, pursuant to the Members' Integrity Act, members are held to the same principles and standards to not violate the sub judice rule. That was not violated by the answer, I say to you, Mr. Speaker; that was violated by the question. If you can bring to this House, as a result of the member opposite's point of order, some clarity that would stop the serial violation of the sub judice rule by the official opposition -- not by the third party, but by the official opposition -- I think that would create a huge contribution not only to decorum but to the observation and in fact the pursuance of the standing order itself.
Speaker, I think there's no question that a close look at the Hansard revealed that the questions asked by the member that he's raising violate the particular standing order and that the answer did not.
The Speaker: Are there further submissions?
I wish to thank the member for Leeds-Grenville, the member for Niagara Centre and the Attorney General for their submissions on this matter. I will reserve my judgment.