June 13, 2006

The House met at 10 a.m.


Introduction of Guests

 Mr. Speaker: Prior to Orders of the Day, I would like to draw the attention of honourable members to the Speaker's Gallery where we have with us today members of the Gordon Ellwood Johnston family, Alice, Doug and Brad Johnston.

      On behalf of all honourable members, I welcome you here today.

      As previously agreed, we will do condolences, and then after that we will do private members' bills for one hour.

Motions of Condolence

Warner H. Jorgenson

Hon. Gary Doer (Premier): I move, seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party, the Member for Arthur-Virden (Mr. Maguire),

THAT this House convey to the family of the late Warner H. Jorgenson who served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba its sincere sympathy in their bereavement and its appreciation of his devotion to duty and the useful life of active community and public service, and then, Mr. Speaker, we request that you forward a copy of this resolution to the family.

Motion presented.

Mr. Doer: Certainly for those of us who did not serve with Mr. Jorgenson and who came to the Legislature at a later time, we all knew of Warner Jorgenson before we were elected. He was a person with a presence, with a passion for his policies and his belief, with his absolute great talent to articulate issues. You just knew when you met him that he was a leader. He was a leader who stood out in any political or public forum and he gave great voice to the issues he believed in. Certainly I know that he was a person whom we all respected when he was in this Legislature and whom we respected in his public life.

On a personal note, I certainly want to pay tribute to his great charisma as a political leader in Manitoba. He had the charisma that allowed him to lead Manitobans and to fulfill his duties in a very effective way. Certainly Mr. Jorgenson has been described by many as colourful and popular. He had a combination of 19 years in Parliament and as a member of this Legislative Assembly. 

      Born in Saskatchewan in 1918, his family moved to Ste. Elizabeth a year after his birth, and later in life he served as part of the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in the Mediterranean and Western fronts during the Second World War. In England, he met and married his wife, the former Corrine Ansell, and following the war they returned to Canada and began farming near Morris.

      In 1951, Mr. Jorgenson became active in farm organization work and was elected the district director of the Manitoba Farmers Union. He was elected to the House of Commons in June of 1957 as a Progressive Conservative candidate for the federal constituency of Provencher as an opposition MP under the Tory leader John Diefenbaker. Of course, he was elected to Provencher in 1958, again in '62, '63 and '65. Of course, '58 constituted the Conservative landslide of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. He served 11 years as MP as the parliamentary secretary to the former Minister of Agriculture Alvin Hamilton, and he was a delegate to the food and agricultural organizations of the United Nations, a delegation that was successful in the world food program that was adopted.

      We certainly know that the Diefenbaker government, Minister Hamilton and Warner Jorgenson were all part of a formidable marketing team for Canada, for agricultural products. The products of western Canada received great priority from the Diefenbaker government and many successful sales were made around the world, that still remain as customers for Canadian wheat producers and Manitoba wheat producers from that success.

      Mr. Jorgenson went on to be elected in the Manitoba Legislature in a by-election on February 20, 1969, for the Morris constituency. He was re-elected in 1969 in the general election where the NDP was elected under Ed Schreyer. His popularity allowed him to continue to be re-elected with ease in his popular vote in June of 1973 and in 1977. He was a member of the Sterling Lyon government from 1977 to 1981, and he served in Cabinet as the Government House Leader and minister without portfolio. He later became Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. He was Minister responsible for the Superintendent of Insurance. He was Minister responsible for the Rent Stabilization Board. In 1981, he was the Minister of Government Services and Public Insurance Corporation Minister until the change in government in '81. Although, in 1981, Mr. Jorgenson did not run for candidacy and, therefore, he was able to retire from politics having won terms here in the Manitoba Legislature on four occasions.

      He was certainly, as I said in my earlier comments, a very, very assertive debater. He took no quarter in any debate. I know from talking to people in the former New Democratic government, Mr. Jorgenson was a respected adversary on the Legislative floor. He liked to debate. He was a very effective speaker. One thing, I note, that he was able to recite from heart Robert Service's The Shooting of Dan McGrew. I cannot do that poem. I try to do The Cremation of Sam McGee. That is the poem that I have chosen of Service to be able to repeat but, certainly, any work of Robert Service is a work I respect.

      He was active in his legion in Morris, a charter member of the Morris Lions Club. He held executive positions in the Riverview Golf & Country Club and the Valley Agricultural Society. After his retirement from politics, he turned to woodworking where he made miniature Red River carts that were given as gifts to visiting dignitaries.

      Warner and his brother Ed built an exact replica of a Red River oxcart on the grounds of the Morris Museum without the use of a nail. That is a feat that is truly to be envied.

* (10:10)

      Warner is survived by his children: Linda and her husband, Roger Miller of B.C.; Patti and Chris of Morris; brothers Ben, Larry, Bob and Leonard; sister Vera Saunders, as well as a number of other nieces and nephews. Warner was predeceased by his wife, Pat, in 1992.

      Mr. Speaker, certainly Warner Jorgenson was a person whose life was dedicated to public service, was dedicated to Manitoba, to Canada, and his constituents in Morris. On behalf of our caucus and on behalf of the people of Manitoba, I would like to thank his family for the hours of sacrifice that I know they put in to allow Warner Jorgenson to serve on behalf of us all.

      As I say today, there are sales and customers all around the world that were led by the Diefenbaker government of which Warner Jorgenson was a part, and those sales remain as cash receipts for producers here in western Canada and are a lasting legacy to the life and times of Warner Jorgenson.

Mr. Hugh McFadyen (Leader of the Official Opposition): I thank the Premier (Mr. Doer) for those very fitting comments about Mr. Warner Jorgenson. I would like to put some comments on the record on behalf of my colleagues from this side of the House.

      I must say, on a personal note, that I did not have the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Jorgenson on a personal level, although I know many people who have. Many of my colleagues had the privilege of serving with him in this Legislature, and many of them have passed along to me their comments and reflections. I expect that there may be one or two who will want to put their own comments on the record in the way of some personal reflections.

      I would note, though, that based on the information that has been conveyed to me about Mr. Jorgenson and his life, his commitment to his community, his commitment to his province and country and his commitment to his family, that he is a person who is admired by members of our party, as I think he is admired by members of all political parties and by Manitobans from many walks of life.

      Mr. Jorgenson's career was marked by public service first and foremost. The Premier has indicated some points from his history and biography, his service to Canada as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces during the Second World War where he served overseas defending our country and defending the values that our country stands for.

      He was part of what Tom Brokaw described as the greatest generation. I think that there is much to be said for that description of North Americans who served abroad defending values, put their lives on the line in a way that most of us have never either been required to do or had the opportunity to do for many, many years. Remarkable sacrifices were made, time away from family, risk of health and life in the name of service of higher values and of values that have endured in this country, values of democracy and freedom, the ability of all of us in our generation and succeeding generations to live a good life here in Manitoba and in Canada.

      The Premier (Mr. Doer) has made reference to and I want to just speak briefly about the fact that on his return from overseas and after his retirement from service in our armed forces, Mr. Jorgenson continued to lead a life of commitment to our community and commitment to public values, first in the Parliament of Canada, first elected in 1957, the first year of Diefenbaker, a minority government in 1957. In those years, he served as a powerful voice for those who produce food and put food on the tables for Canadians and for people around the world.

      He served in several different capacities during that time, most notably as parliamentary secretary to the then-federal Minister of Agriculture. He, because of his obvious great qualities as a public servant, was re-elected several times to the federal parliament, in 1962, then again in 1963 and 1965. These were transformative years in Canada and Mr. Jorgenson played a significant role in the transformation of Canada that took place in those years. He was part of the major debates on agriculture and food production and the globalization of those things which was rapidly developing during those years. He was part of the greater debates going on in Canada with respect to the sort of country we would have, the voice that western Canada would have within this great country.

      As western Canada was coming into its own, he was part of a group along with the then-Prime Minister, Mr. Diefenbaker, who made sure that western Canadian interests and values were loudly heard and effectively advanced within Ottawa after a long period that many would say was marked by a lack of interest in issues impacting on western Canada and impacting on, in particular, western Canadian producers. So he has been a great servant at the federal level and was a great servant for all of us at the federal level. His legacy continues to this day as a voice for the West, as a voice for agriculture and as a voice for decency and democracy in our country.

      Following his service in the Parliament of Canada, Mr. Jorgenson came back and became engaged in the politics of Manitoba. He was first elected in 1969 to this House. He was elected at the time of the Schreyer government of 1969 where he served in opposition. Those who were present at the time do recall those attributes that the Premier has referred to of charisma, of being a tough debater, aggressive, take-no-prisoners style, that I think marked his time in this Legislature.

      Many of my colleagues and those who formerly served on this side of the House have conveyed anecdotes to me about his colourful style, his way with words and his unwillingness to back down in the face of adversity. Those were all great qualities in a legislator and qualities that I think served his constituents in Morris extremely well during that period of time that he served Manitobans and the people of Morris as their representative in this Chamber.

      After some years in opposition, Mr. Speaker, he moved to the government side of things in 1977. Then-Premier Lyon appointed him to Cabinet in 1977 as Government House Leader and minister without portfolio. His appointment as Government House Leader was a reflection of the confidence that the Premier had in him as a master of the rules of this Chamber, as a master of the traditions and the procedures that mark civilized debate in this Chamber. He was a passionate believer in debate, was a passionate believer in civilized debate and the sorts of traditions and rules that govern this Chamber. For that reason, Premier Lyon recognized all of that great wisdom and that great passion for this Chamber that marked his style and his substance as a legislator in Manitoba.

      In 1978 he was promoted by Premier Lyon to Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs, had responsibility for the rent stabilization board and the office of superintendent for insurance. In 1981 he was named Minister of Government Services with responsibility for Manitoba Public Insurance. This was an era when many of these institutions and bodies were going through evolution and change. He was part of that. He brought great wisdom, seeking to balance the requirements of the broader public exercised through regulation and the establishment of public bodies against rights of individuals, people who would pay taxes to government and pay rates to government in order to support these institutions.

      I think he always approached his responsibilities with a view toward finding the right balance between the rights of individuals and those who were paying for services and the rights of those who were on the receiving end of those benefits. These were significant points for debate during that era as they continue to be today, and he was always passionate, well-informed and absolutely committed to the broader good of Manitobans as he exercised those responsibilities on behalf of our province.

      Mr. Speaker, the Premier has talked about some of those attributes and, again, charisma is a word that was used and has been used by many, many people that I have spoken to who have commented on Mr. Jorgenson and his style and his personality. The word "colourful" certainly came up more than once. "Popular" is another word that has come up in describing Mr. Jorgenson and these, it seems to me, are all wonderful attributes and, I think, fitting words to be put on the record as we convey the condolence of this House to members of his family.

* (10:20)

      I, as I said, was not privileged to know him on a personal level. I certainly have been privileged to serve though with many who did and who have very fond recollections and very strong and warm feelings about Mr. Jorgenson, both as a person and as a legislator.

      Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge members of the Jorgenson family who are here with us today. I know that there is, I am sure, a mix of emotions that are felt in hearing words spoken about somebody who is as important to members of the family as Warner Jorgenson. As important as he was to my colleagues and to people in this Legislature and others who served with him, I know that first and foremost, he was a man who was committed to his family, and that the emotions that they must feel, I know, are something that goes beyond anything that any one of us can properly express.

      So, I want to just take this opportunity to pay tribute on behalf of my colleagues, on behalf of former colleagues of mine who have indicated to me their respect for Warner Jorgenson and on behalf of members of this side of the House who share a party label and share the fact of being part of the same political family as Mr. Jorgenson, who goes down in history as a great contributor to our party, to this Legislature, to this province and to our country. So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I convey the condolences to Mr. Jorgenson's family, indicate my personal respect for him for all that he has done for my generation and for me, even though I did not get to know him on a personal basis, and I, again, pay tribute and offer condolences on behalf of all of my colleagues. Thank you.

Mrs. Mavis Taillieu (Morris): I, too, would like to speak today of Warner Jorgenson, the former MLA for Morris. Before doing that, I just want to say that this is a tradition in the Chamber when respected members of our Legislature–and there are not that many people that do serve in this Legislature–when they pass on, it is tradition that we recognize the contributions they have made to our province and to our way of life here. I want to acknowledge the family members. Patti Jorgenson, who is Warner's daughter, is with us today, as is his brother Ben and Ben's wife Bernie and nieces Judy Peters, Bonnie Clement, Gladys Cadieux and Laurie Jorgenson.  

      I do want to also say that it is very unfortunate that we did not have the opportunity to do these condolences last fall when we first spoke about it, when Patti and I first spoke about it because since then there has been another tragedy in the family. Chris, Patti's brother and Warner's son, also passed away very suddenly last year. So, I want to express my condolences to Patti and the family on that as well.

      When the family came in today, I said to them, have you been down to the Legislature? Well, of course, they have been down to the Legislature. Patti said, as a child, I ran around the hallways here and I was in the caucus room. So, they are certainly no strangers to this Legislature.

      I, of course, did not have the opportunity to know Warner. It was a few years before my time, but I do want to say that as a young child growing up in my family, the name Warner Jorgenson was a name that was mentioned often in our household. Warner Jorgenson and Walter Weir, those two names stand out in my mind, along with John Diefenbaker. Those were names that really popped out at me as a child growing up in my household. So these were names that were talked about in my family, although, I guess at the time, I did not recognize the conversation as being political or who my parents and their friends were speaking about.

      It was, I guess, later when I decided to seek the nomination for Morris, of course, recognizing then that Warner Jorgenson had been the MLA for Morris. I find that quite interesting because it is a little bit of a sense of destiny or fate, I guess, not knowing him but having known of him, and now today standing here as the MLA for Morris, speaking about Warner Jorgenson. Perhaps it is because I had a teacher in grade school by the name of Miss Jorgenson that maybe is a relation to the family, too; I do not know.

      I think it is a tribute to the family, too, the number of people that were present at Warner's funeral last summer. Certainly all of the members of the Morris 111 Legion and former members from Morris, Clayton Manness, Frank Pitura, and myself were all there. In fact, it was said at the funeral there are more politicians in this room than you could imagine here today. And certainly a large number of people attended the luncheon afterward along with Sterling Lyon, who was there and had quite a few things to say about Warner and his time in the Legislature serving under him.

      As we have heard from the Premier (Mr. Doer) and from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. McFadyen), Warner was a person who dedicated his life to service, serving overseas in the army from 1940 to 1946 and then returning to live just outside of Morris in the little town of Ste. Elizabeth, and I understand that Wayne Jorgenson still farms in the area of Ste. Elizabeth.

      Certainly he spent a number of years in public service, both in the Parliament of Canada and in the Legislature in Manitoba. First elected to the House of Commons in 1957, he became parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture in 1960, was re-elected in 1962, '63, and '65, and in 1968 was defeated and shifted to provincial politics where he easily won the Morris riding in a 1969 by-election. I think that, having looked at the politics of the Morris constituency over the last many, many years, it has certainly been a very strong Conservative area.

      I do also want to note of interest for the family and for the members of the Legislature that the Member for Morris before Warner was Harry Shewman, and his daughter married my mom's cousin, so there is another connection there. Also Frank Pitura, who went to school and got his Agriculture degree at the same time as my mother's cousin, Ted Poyser, as well. So there are many connections to Morris. In fact, my mother's maiden name is Morris, so there are a lot of connections and things that you consider to be destiny, I think, involved.

      I am very honoured to be the Member for Morris standing here today and paying tribute to a former Member for Morris, Warner Jorgenson, who dedicated so much of his life and his time, not only to serving in the war for our country, in the Government of Canada, and provincial politics, but dedicating much of his time as well to his family, and I know that it is very important for family to be aware of the respect shown by members here today.

* (10:30)

      When Warner entered provincial politics in 1969 and then was re-elected in '73 and '77 and when the Tories then won the election and Sterling Lyon became the Premier, Warner was called into Cabinet and was the Government House Leader at that time. In 1978 he held the responsibilities of Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs with responsibility for the Rent Stabilization Board and the office of Superintendent for Insurance. Later, he served as Minister of Government Services and with responsibility for the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.

      It is interesting how things change over the years, how different portfolios change and different responsibilities change, and governments change, but I think anyone who decides to commit themselves to public service and is willing to put their name on a ballot, as many times it has been said by the Premier (Mr. Doer) here, deserves the respect of all the people in the Legislature regardless of political stripe, and all of the respect of their constituents and, indeed, all of the people in the province. Public service is not an easy role to play sometimes, and many times the families are the ones left on the short end. Certainly, in days former I think many times, especially if people are serving in the Canadian government and they are away from home a lot from their families and, indeed, for the rural members who spend a lot of time in session away from their families, it is a sacrifice to the families and one that strong families are there for support for each other. I know that that is the case with the Jorgenson family. It is a very big family, and I know that you are very close.

      I should also say that Linda and Roger Miller, of course, from B.C. were not able to be with us today, and I know that it would be fitting also to mention Warner's wife, Pat, who predeceased him many years ago in 1992.

      I know that Warner also was a very active person in the community. I know that from being at the Morris Stampede or the Manitoba Stampede and seeing the huge displays that always are displayed there, particularly on the 40th anniversary a few years ago. Many pictures of Warner and family involved there. I know that he was a member of the Riverview Golf Course and certainly the Valley Ag Society who would be the ones behind the Manitoba Stampede and the organization there. Certainly, with his involvement in the legion, and I did say earlier that that was very evident because of the number of men and women of the Morris Legion who were in attendance at Warner's funeral.

      I know that his latter years may have been difficult. Alzheimer's is a difficult disease to deal with, and I think that anybody who has had experience with family members will know that. But living a full life until the age of 87 is certainly a significant accomplishment, I guess if you will, because 87 years old, that is a long way to go, I hope. And I know that any family would be very pleased to have a loved one for 87 years.

      As I said, people do not step into public office without a desire to see things done in a way that they think befits their values and how they want to see and shape the world around them, and I know that Warner did that in many ways, wanting to step into public office to provide a better way for his family and for future generations. Sometimes we have a difference in the beliefs and the values that we hold, but whether we have differences in the beliefs we have a common goal, in that we really do believe that we can make and we want to make things better for the future.

      I think that I want to express my thanks to the family for coming here today and certainly my condolences on the passing of Warner last year and of Chris last year as well. It is important that we recognize the service that people provide for the public and for the people of Manitoba, and I want to say I did not know Warner. I feel like I should have. I only had the opportunity to meet Patti recently, but I feel like I know her very well. I did have the opportunity to meet Chris last year.

      With saying that, I want to express my sincere condolences, and I want you to know that Warner was a very respected member of this Legislature. Thank you.

Mr. Jack Penner (Emerson): Mr. Speaker, I rise today, also, to offer my condolences to the extended families of Warner Jorgenson. Warner Jorgenson is somebody that I learned to know by personal experience. I did work very briefly on a couple of Warner's campaigns, and he came out to campaign in our riding on a number of occasions, the Emerson riding as well as the Rhineland riding.

      I guess one of the most important events that I remember, he came to Altona to speak at a function at the legion and packed the Legion Hall. After he finished speaking, many of us were commenting that he had truly learned from the master of public speaking, and that was John Diefenbaker, because when Warner spoke and he really got into it, even his jowls shook as John Diefenbaker's jowls would shake. Many of us said at that time, if they ever make a movie of John Diefenbaker, Warner Jorgenson could stand in as the actor who would portray John Diefenbaker.

      That is the kind of commitment that Warner had. Warner truly believed in agriculture. Warner truly believed in his community and Warner truly believed in family. I will never forget on one trip we made, there was a group of people in a coffee shop and he said to them this. He said, mark my word, if we want to maintain democracy, we are all going to have to work together at this because just us sitting in Parliament passing laws will not maintain the democracy that Canada needs. He was a true believer in freedom and maintaining Canada as a free nation. I will never forget those words that he spoke that day. As a young person who was not really intending to get involved in politics, I think he inspired in me what it truly meant to serve his community and his province and his country, because he, when he spoke, spoke from the heart.

      He also had agriculture as one of the foremost important issues that he thought would bring Canada to where it should be economically in the world. I think he was proven right in future years when trade agreements were reached and how important the agriculture industry became when the NAFTA agreement and the FTA agreements were finally negotiated and how important the whole agriculture industry became on an international basis. Warner always believed that. Warner was truly dedicated to the agriculture community. His involvement with getting the stampede into Morris and developing that whole fairgrounds as a monument toward agriculture, I think was truly, again, part of his true personality and how dedicated he was to the rural communities and many people in rural Manitoba.

* (10:40)

      I want to say that when Warner Jorgenson passed away, we truly lost a Canadian, a Canadian that was a true Canadian and always will be remembered as such.

      I offer today to your family, the Jorgenson family, our condolences and our huge appreciation for somebody that served this province and this country as a member of Parliament, as a member of this Legislature. As a member of the Legislature, he not only demonstrated that he could be a true Canadian as well as a true Manitoban, and the portfolios that he was in charge of were served well by good leadership and a person that had, at heart, the best for the people of Manitoba and of Canada.

      So my condolences, my family's condolences, to you the Jorgenson family. He will always be remembered.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise as the Leader of the Liberal Party to pay a tribute to Warner Jorgenson and the contributions that he has made to his community as a member of Parliament and as a member of this Legislature. I offer, on behalf of the Liberal Party, the condolences to members of the family and to friends.

      Clearly, Warner Jorgenson had quite an impact both in Ottawa and here. Perhaps his most noted contributions were in agriculture, working as the district director with the Manitoba Farmers Union early on, his work, of course, with the Valley Agricultural Society. But perhaps he is most remembered for when he was a member of Parliament and his work as a parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Agriculture, not only in the sales that he was involved with over a number of years and certainly promoting the importance of western Canadian agriculture, but also as a delegate to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, helping to get attention to agriculture and to a global food program that Canada and he were promoting at that point.

      I think it is important that today we recognize Warner Jorgenson's contributions, pay tribute to his work as a parliamentarian, as a member of the Legislature and thank those of his family who helped along the way and who contributed by handling things, I am sure from time to time, when he was busy with other aspects.

      So thank you for being here today and my condolences to you. Certainly Warner Jorgenson will be remembered for his significant contributions for quite some time into the future.

Mr. Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt this motion? [Agreed]

      Would honourable members please rise and remain standing to indicate their support for the motion.

A moment of silence was observed.

Gordon Ellwood Johnston

Hon. Gary Doer (Premier): I move, seconded by the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), that the House convey to the family of the late Gordon Ellwood Johnston, who served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, its sincere sympathy in their bereavement and its appreciation of his devotion to duty in a useful life of active community and public service and that Mr. Speaker be requested to forward a copy of this resolution to the family.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Doer: Mr. Speaker, certainly it is an honour to rise today to speak of the life and accomplishments of Gordon Johnston. When you think of Mr. Johnston, you think of his public service, you think automatically of Portage la Prairie, and you also know that he was a person who was respected in his community and in his province as a man of dignity, honesty and integrity. Certainly those attributes allowed him to not only win elections for the Manitoba Legislature but to maintain his seat in Portage la Prairie against some of the prevailing political winds that were taking place in the times, particularly in the 1970s when the Liberal Party was on the decline and the contests were very active between, at that time, the Conservatives and the NDP in the seventies.

      Mr. Speaker, certainly Portage was always associated with Mr. Johnston. He was born in Portage. He was raised and attended the Portage Collegiate Institute, and from there, he served as a sergeant pilot of the 77th Royal Air Force Squadron, serving in the United Kingdom. From 1943 to 1945, he was a prisoner of war in Stalag 344 in Germany, and because of the dignity and respect he was held by his fellow capturees, he became the British Man of Confidence, in other words, the camp representative for 300 of his fellow prisoners of war.

      After the war, he returned to civilian life where he worked as an insurance underwriter for Manufacturers Life Insurance before joining the Portage la Prairie Post Office staff, and then he worked as a private entrepreneur and operated a local grocery store named Johnston's Solo Store. He certainly again demonstrated his leadership capabilities by being elected an alderman of the City of Portage la Prairie from 1959 to 1962, and there he ran in the election in 1962.

      He was elected a member of the Legislature for Portage la Prairie in 1962. He retained that seat until 1977 when he retired. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, you can see that his personal popularity was able to allow him to continue to represent the people of Portage la Prairie in the Legislature. He not only won in 1962 and 1966, but he was re-elected when only five Liberals were elected at the time in 1969. He was able to be re-elected again in 1973 before he retired from that office in 1977 from this Legislature. So, 15 years of service in this Legislature were preceded by his years representing Portage la Prairie and representing his fellow prisoners of war during the Second World War.

      After his political career, he was appointed as a Citizenship Court judge and served two three-year terms before retiring in 1984. He was also a marriage commissioner for the province of Manitoba.

      He was a lifelong Liberal. In fact, he served, while he was an MLA, as executive director of the Liberal Party from 1966-1968. As a lifelong member of the Liberal Party, he was very, very active, I know, in Liberal conventions because we heard of his positions on various resolutions that were put before the Liberal membership over the years.

      He was a member of the Elks Club, the Portage Rotary Club, the Portage Golf Club, the Portage flying club, The Royal Canadian Legion 65. But I also understand he loved to do what many of us like to do and that is spend time with his family at his cottage at Delta Beach and had a keen interest in sailing.

* (10:50)

      Mr. Johnston certainly, as I said before, was a person who dedicated his life to his fellow human beings, whether it was in the pursuit of democracy by fighting in the Second World War, by putting his life at risk in that combat and later as a prisoner of war, coming back to his community and representing Portage la Prairie in its town council, city council, and then later serving in the Manitoba Legislature.

      If you look through the debates from 1969 to '73 and then to '77, you can see that Gordon Johnston was often, in the polarized environment that apparently existed then, a voice of reason on many of these items. I think that has been lost to this Legislature, that voice of reason, but I digress, in a partisan way for a moment.

      Mr. Johnston provided an interesting balance. He would vote for the government's resolutions; for example, in terms of Unicity, he voted against some resolutions that he thought, or laws that were not, he thought, in the public interest.

      So I know that the former government, the Schreyer government, paid a lot of attention to his views. He informed a lot of the debate, he informed a lot of the decision making. When the Schreyer government was first elected, it did not have a majority at that time, and he was very, very important in those debates, along with other members of his party in those, as I say, polarized conditions of the past. So, Mr. Johnston provided a valuable public service during that part in our Manitoba history.  

      Mr. Speaker, certainly I want to pay tribute to the dignity and honesty. He was always perceived and known as a person of honesty and integrity. I have gotten to know some of the members of the Hyde family because my daughter played on a volleyball team with the granddaughter of the former member Mr. Hyde and then played against her this year, and you still get to speak to each other and talk about politics and Gordon Johnston was a person respected by every person in Portage la Prairie. I know the current Member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Faurschou) has a great deal of respect for the life and times, as well, of Gordon Johnston.

      So I just want to thank the family on behalf of the people of Manitoba for a great life lived. Gordon Johnston is survived by his wife Maria Johnston, his sister Gwen Johnston, his brother Doug, his children Carol Lee Heighington, Lynda Fielder, Norma Johnston, Joan Farncombe, Brad Johnston, Reed Johnston, Joemar Johnston, Maria Johnston, Gordon Johnston, Jr., as well as 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

      You know the old folk song, We Rise Again in the Faces of our Children; I think that would be the true legacy of Gordon Johnston, and I want to thank his family for their sacrifice, to allow him to serve Manitoba, Canada and Portage la Prairie so admirably, and I want to pay tribute to his life and his contributions to our community and our province. Thank you.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Gordon Johnston and to offer condolences to family and friends. I would like to first recognize the presence in the gallery of Gordon's brother Doug and his wife Alice and to his children, Brad Johnston, Joan Farncombe and Norma Johnston.

      Clearly all family members who are here were involved at one point or another in some of the politicking that went on, and interestingly Joan worked for awhile with Gordon Johnston in the Legislature at the time that there were not quite the conflict-of-interest rules that we have at the moment, at the time when her dad was the House Leader, when, I think, Izzy Asper was leader and before he was actually elected.

      So that was quite an experience, but I think it speaks to the family's involvement in democracy and politics and their respect for Gordon and the work that he did in this Chamber and in the community.

      I would like to make a couple of comments about Gordon Johnston's time serving in the Second World War. It has been mentioned that he spent three years in a prisoner of war camp and that he was elected the camp representative there for a time. What has not been mentioned is the fact that he tried, I think, seven or eight times to escape, and finally succeeded on the eighth occasion and managed, toward the end of the war, to  get over to the Allied lines and to get away. I think that says something about his persistence and his guts in always trying to find a way out of a situation, which he did not appreciate being a prisoner of war.

      After the war, he worked for a while in bridge building as a labourer. But I think it is particularly interesting that he worked for a while as a letter carrier, and that was an important learning process for him, then, becoming a politician. Because, after being a letter carrier, whenever he met somebody, he knew exactly where they lived because he had been delivering mail to them in Portage la Prairie. So it was certainly a way of getting to know people and where they lived. I think it was quite helpful when he, then, later on, went on to become elected, first of all as an alderman or a councillor in the city of Portage la Prairie, and then, later on, as a member of the Legislature.

      He, of course, ran his grocery store, the Johnston Solo Store, and was known there, as later on, for his honesty and integrity in operating the store.

      As a parliamentarian, Gordon Johnston served under leaders Gildas Molgat, Robert Bend and Israel Asper, and under Charlie Huband, four Liberal leaders during a time that was not always easy in terms of the Liberal Party in Manitoba. He certainly stood out as an MLA who was able to stay in very close touch with the people of his constituency and continued to get elected. His margins were pretty small; he was known, sometimes, as "one-vote Johnston" because of his small margins, but he continued to get elected and continued to have the respect of people in Portage la Prairie.

      One of the issues that he was involved with when he first ran was the development of the Portage Diversion. There were concerns about how this was going to work and the land that was going to be used and a variety of other things. He was concerned then, and later, about things around the Portage Diversion, the impact on Lake Manitoba. Of course, he had spent a lot of time at Delta Beach and sailing, as well as the many contributions that he made in so many ways to the community.

      But, I think, in summing things up, the Premier (Mr. Doer) has mentioned that Gordon Johnston was a voice of reason, as a tribute to his integrity and honesty and regard with which he was held here. I think Liberals are still a voice of reason. It is just that the Premier is taking a different tack in the last little while and we have to try and keep the Premier to account, as Liberals, that there are better ways to do things, but we will leave that to another time and a little later on.

* (11:00)

For the moment, we are here to pay tribute to the life of Gordon Johnston, to extend condolences to the family and to recognize the contributions that Gordon and the family, together, have made, and to say thank you, Gordon, and thank you to the family.

Mr. Hugh McFadyen (Leader of the Official Opposition): It is an honour for me today to rise to add to the voices that have already spoken to extend condolences to the family of Gordon Johnston and to say some words of respect to an individual who certainly is deserving of the respect of all members of this House regardless of party.

      Again, Mr. Johnston is somebody that I did not have the pleasure of getting to know on a personal basis but is somebody who, by reputation, is a man who served his province very well, who was an active participant in the debates that took place in this Legislature and who has left a legacy to my generation and to generations that succeeded him of a better province.

      I am struck by elements of his life story that bear parallels to the life story of somebody else who is very important to me, my grandfather, who flew in the Second World War, served in the U.K., spent time in Germany, not as a prisoner of war but spent some time in Germany in the immediate post-war period. Like Mr. Johnston, my grandfather left a small Manitoba community to go and serve his country abroad, and I am mindful of the various stories of that era that have been conveyed to me by him of both the adventure and the terror that came with serving Canada during that era.

      Air Force people have a certain kind of personality. My grandfather had it and has it, a sense of adventure, a sense of being prepared to take on risk and danger and face down adversaries in a way that I think is something that we find admirable.

      I would also note that Mr. Johnston, through his experience in war and as a prisoner of war, as has been noted by the Premier (Mr. Doer) and by the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), returned from abroad with that sense of public commitment emblazoned on his soul I think in a way that can only happen when you sacrifice personally in the way that he did for our country. I think that in a very personal way you come to appreciate the horrors of tyranny and the horrors of oppression and the sorts of things that man can do when he is at his darkest, which he experienced very personally in his time in Germany as a prisoner of war.

       I think that in returning from an experience like that, he led a life that was exemplary and a source of example for all of us who come from generations that succeed his. I made a comment earlier about Tom Brokaw's comment about the greatest generation, and I think, again, we have a man here who was part of that generation of commitment and sacrifice that is I think the high water mark for public service and commitment in this century of people who went out of their way to put their lives on the line in order to provide a legacy for others. This is something that Mr. Johnston did for us, and it is something that we will always be grateful for.

      The Member for River Heights and the Premier have both commented on elements of his career that I think are worth noting, his return to private life, after coming back to Canada, in Portage la Prairie, his public spiritedness as a member of that community. The Member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Faurschou) I know is going to add some comments after I am done that will amplify some of these points about the legacy that Mr. Johnston left for the people of Portage la Prairie.

      I know he served as an alderman and local politics, as everybody knows, is pretty short on glamour and pretty high on just hard work and real commitment to addressing the very practical needs of people in a community, the things that impact on people's day-to-day lives, their water, their roads, their services that impact on their quality of life. He was a passionate advocate for providing good service for the people of Portage la Prairie, for embarking on the public works that would provide a good quality of life for people in that community and for the people of Manitoba.

      I want to just say that anybody who enters public life as he did, first as an alderman, then as a member of this Legislature, is deserving of our respect. I note the comments that have been made, the non-partisan comments made by the Premier (Mr. Doer) and the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), about his role in this Chamber as a member of the Liberal Party during a time when the Liberal Party was not in government and was serving the role, some might say, as honest broker during a period of increasing partisanship in this House, an era that, thankfully, seems to be over as we all work co-operatively, regardless of party, toward addressing the challenges and the problems of the people of Manitoba.

      Mr. Johnston in many ways played that role as an honest broker, had the freedom to exercise his own conscience and not quite so constrained by party discipline, as members of other parties may have felt, and was able to vote in different ways in support of different parties on different issues, solely on the basis of what he personally believed to be in the broader interest of Manitobans, and the interest of his community of Portage la Prairie. It is an admirable position to be in and he exercised that position with extreme levels of integrity.

      The words that come to mind from those I have spoken to who knew Mr. Johnston are as a man who was respected by all who knew him, a man of integrity and a man of extreme tenacity. He was somebody who did not back away from a challenge. He always put forward the view that he thought was right, and he did so in a way that was thoughtful and articulate and motivated by all of the right things.

      It has been noted that he served at a time when our party, the Conservative Party, and the New Democrats were on the ascendancy in Manitoba politics. He served as a Liberal. He offered to serve as Speaker of the Legislature to allow Ed Schreyer's NDP to form a minority government in 1969. Whatever your partisan perspective may be, there are none of us that doubt that that was something that was done in a spirit of what he believed to be in the best interests of providing a stable and effective government here in Manitoba.

      So, Mr. Speaker, I want to add to the comments already made, express the appreciation of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and our caucus for the great contribution that Gordon Johnston has made in this Chamber and to Manitoba broadly.

      The current Member for Portage la Prairie is going to add some words about his contribution to that great community and I want to acknowledge members of the Johnston family, who I know have made sacrifices in order to support him. You know the one difference, I was commenting on the parallels between his time of service in the Armed Forces and his life subsequently to my own grandfather's experience. My own grandfather did not get into elected life after serving the Air Force. His own father had been a member of the Legislature and, I think, on the basis of his own father's experience, decided that public life was not for him.

      Mr. Johnston, thankfully, made a different decision and decided to get into public life, with all the sacrifices that come with that, both personally and in terms of what a family has to deal with when a member of their family has to spend time away, particularly those members from outside the city of Winnipeg. Their families, I think, feel most acutely the time away from family that members must spend in the execution of their public duties in this House.

      So we are indebted to Gordon Johnston. We are indebted to his family. We thank them. We extend our condolences and our appreciation. Thank you.

* (11:10)

Mr. David Faurschou (Portage la Prairie): Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour to have the privilege to rise today to speak about Mr. Johnston, the MLA for Portage la Prairie from 1962 through 1977.

      Through those formidable years, I was a student in Portage Collegiate and Yellowquill School, Prince Charles and before that at Fort La Reine where, I might add, there was another family member of the Johnston clan that had an influence on me: Ms. Johnston, the first woman principal of any school in Portage to that time. But since then many other women have had the privilege as principal of major schools in the Portage la Prairie School Division, but it was Ms. Gwen Johnston who was the first, and the sister of Mr. Gordon Johnston, our MLA.

      Mr. Johnston was a gentleman in all facets of that term. He truly was to be admired by everyone in Portage la Prairie. I know, growing up in Portage la Prairie and in a very politically oriented family, I know that there was one thing that was never spoken, and that was ill of Mr. Johnston. Even though my father and grandfather, to their chagrin, represented Portage la Prairie under the Liberal banner, and I know they campaigned long and hard on occasion to change that, but without a doubt they had a great deal of admiration and respect for Mr. Johnston and his representation of Portage la Prairie through the years.

      I will make note that those were very formidable years in Portage la Prairie. Many changes took place under the tenure of Mr. Johnston. We saw the twinning of the Trans-Canada Highway and the interchanges that were developed at either side of Portage la Prairie, along with the bypass; the dam structures on the Assiniboine River and the construction of the Assiniboine Diversion to Lake Manitoba; the overpass over the very historic railway yards in Portage la Prairie were some of the notable undertakings in construction during Mr. Johnston's tenure.

      I know that, as well, the school system in Portage la Prairie changed dramatically with construction of three brand new junior high schools at the east, west, and north sides of Portage la Prairie; all, I am certain, with Mr. Johnston's contribution and considered thought through the deliberations and those decisions.

      I know that I had contacted a former candidate of the Conservative Party, Mr. Harvey Carmichael, who challenged Mr. Johnston in the 1969 election. Sitting in the living room, Mr. Carmichael along with my father and others, planned out a campaign that was going to unseat Mr. Johnston without a doubt. And they implemented that plan, but to their disappointment fell six votes short. Mr. Carmichael wanted to say today to the family of Mr. Johnston that, although he gave Mr. Johnston a scare, it was to Mr. Johnston's testament and dedication to Portage la Prairie that he prevailed and continued to serve Portage la Prairie for many years thereafter.

      It is with a great deal of pride I stand here as one MLA from Portage la Prairie, one of 17, I might add, that has had the privilege since Manitoba entered Confederation, and Mr. Johnston is one of those 17. So very few persons have had the privilege of representing Portage la Prairie, and I know that all have undertaken that responsibility with dignity and respect of the position, to make certain that Portage la Prairie is represented in the best possible fashion and to make certain that whatever government of the day is in power, that Portage la Prairie's voice is heard.

      I know that Mr. Johnston certainly contributed to the debate in the Chamber and made certain that Portage la Prairie's concerns and wishes were voiced and acted upon. With the aforementioned number of projects, I will say that it was undoubtedly that Mr. Johnston made certain that Portage la Prairie was very, very well represented.

      On a more personal note, growing up with Reed Johnston and the Johnstons just down a few cottage doors at Delta, we had an opportunity to undertake some water sports and competition and again with Reed on the track and field team. But I had the greatest of respect and still do to this day of the Johnston family and commitment to community and dedication to family. I will say that it is truly a privilege to serve in the same capacity that Mr. Johnston served a few years before me, but I want to express to the family a sincere thank-you on behalf of all Portage la Prairie. 

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Inkster): Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to put a few words on the record in regard to Mr. Gordon Johnston. First and foremost, to start off by offering my personal condolences to the family and appreciate the fact that they have come here this morning.

      It is interesting listening to the Member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Faurschou) as he talks about the Conservative candidates that tried to beat Mr. Johnston. I would like to think that it was actually Mr. Johnston, his personality and his ability that ultimately allowed the Liberal Party to win in Portage la Prairie. I would ultimately argue at times the Liberal Party has had some difficulty in getting seats inside the Manitoba Legislature, but over the years we have seen some very strong personalities that have wonderful capabilities that have ensured that the party does have a presence inside this Legislature.

      I listened to the Leader of the Liberal Party when he made reference to Gordon's daughter working or assisting Gordon, and I can share with this House the greatest volunteers we have, in many cases, today are in fact our spouses and our children and so forth. We rely on them very heavily, and I only had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to meet Mr. Johnston as I always have enjoyed meeting some of those personalities, whether it is Mr. Johnston, Izzy Asper, Archie Trapp [phonetic], Gildas Molgat, individuals that have in essence made sure that the Liberal Party has a presence in Manitoba. At times I can be fairly biased in terms of the things that I say here, Mr. Speaker. I do believe that there is a need for a Liberal Party in the province of Manitoba, and Mr. Johnston carried that banner well. I know to a certain extent the members of the family, extended family, are still involved and that involvement is very much appreciated as passed through the family.

      I have an immense amount of respect for Mr. Johnston. Even though I did not know him personally, I can appreciate what it would have taken, Mr. Speaker, for him to have gotten elected and re-elected and re-elected again and again. Whether it was by a few hundred votes or by a few votes, a win is a win. This is an individual that obviously won not because of the Liberal Party but because of who he was as an individual. The Member for Portage la Prairie (Mr. Faurschou) talks about some of the things which he would have contributed to, and I suspect that Portage la Prairie would be a lot different today if it was not for Mr. Johnston. I think that he has brought a lot to the community of Portage la Prairie and, indeed, a lot to our fine province.

      Just again, I would like to emphasize my condolences and best wishes to the members of the Johnston family. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt this motion? [Agreed]

      Would honourable members please rise and remain standing to indicate their support for the motion.

A moment of silence was observed.

Introduction of Guests

Mr. Speaker: As previously agreed, we will move on to Private Members' Business for one hour. But, before I call the bill, I would like to draw attention of the honourable members to the public gallery where we have with us from Pacific Junction School 50 Grade 4 students under the direction of Mr. Ryan Neufeld and Mr. Glen Reimer. This school is located in the constituency of the honourable Member for Tuxedo (Mrs. Stefanson).

      On behalf of all honourable members, I welcome you here today.

* (11:20)



Concurrence and Third Readings–Private Bills

Bill 300–The Association of

Former Manitoba MLAs Act

Mr. Doug Martindale (Burrows): I move, seconded by the Member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen), that Bill 300, The Association of Former Manitoba MLAs Act; Loi sur l'Association des ex-députés de l'Assemblée législative du Manitoba, reported from the Standing Committee on Social and Economic Development, be concurred in and now read for a third time and passed.

Motion presented.

Mr. Martindale: Mr. Speaker, I would like to use this bill, The Association of Former MLAs Act, as an opportunity to reflect on a number of topics related to parliamentary democracy.

      First of all, I believe it is a privilege and an honour to serve here, and I am sure that all members would agree. As we know, the population of Manitoba is over one million people, but only 57 Manitobans get to serve here in any four-year time frame, so we are privileged and honoured to be among those few.

      Therefore, I think we should all appreciate this opportunity, and we should acknowledge that we serve at the pleasure of our constituents. Sometimes in our caucus we hear the expression "living the dream," and for those of us who are political junkies, I would have to say, yes, this is living the dream.

      Many of us got interested in politics at a very early age. For example, in the condolences debate this morning we heard former Prime Minister Diefenbaker's name mentioned. When I was beginning, when I was 10 years old, I had a Globe and Mail paper route, and so I began reading about current events. And in the 1958 election I met John Diefenbaker and got his autograph, and had I been able to vote in the 1950s, I would have voted for Diefenbaker. Since then, I have had two conversions until I ended up in the New Democratic Party. But I am one of those people who has been interested in politics and following politics for many, many decades. So it is living the dream to be able to be a full-time member of the Legislature and to get paid to do what in the past was a hobby and an interest.

      Secondly, in Canadian politics candidates are elected by the public who are voting for a party and their platform, and we should all remember that, rather than voting for us as individual candidates. No one of us should think that we are elected on our personal popularity. I am a good example of this. For example, in 1988 I was a candidate in Burrows constituency and my party was going down to defeat, and so, I, as a candidate, went down to defeat. I remember people telling me, Doug, you are going to win, you are in one of the safest NDP seats in Manitoba. But that did not happen. I lost by 109 votes to Bill Chornopyski from the Liberal Party. And it was a brutal election. I remember going door to door and people refusing to shake my hand, and people would not take my literature, and people screamed at me, people slammed the door. It was a very interesting initiation as a political candidate. But in 1999, I was elected again, not because of my personal popularity, but because my party was going up and those people who had parked their votes in the Liberal Party of 1988 came back to the NDP in 1990, and I got elected. And my party went up, and, in fact, in the class of 1990 there were 14 newly elected people, and I think there are 11 of us who are still here today.

      Since our time is limited, I am going to conclude by saying that I am looking forward some day to joining the association of former MLAs and taking part in their activities, and I look forward to sharing ideas about parliamentary democracy and taking part in their activities and also sharing political anecdotes.

      I would like to just share one now from the 1990 election. When I lost in 1988 and then I won the nomination in March 1990, I started door knocking immediately. As it turned out, the election was in September, and not having a campaign manager and not knowing that you are supposed to start with the A polls and then the B polls and then the C polls.

      I started off in the worst poll from 1988, which was at Inkster and McPhillips. The first door that I went to, there was a retired couple and they just tore a strip off me. They just went down one side and up the other. They were criticizing politicians: All they do is have their hands in your pockets. This went on and on and on. I just waited very patiently. I thought, what am I going to say? What am I going to say? When they finally finished after about 10 minutes, I said, well, was Stanley Knowles like that? They said, oh, no, he was a good man. I said, well, do you know what he did before he got elected in 1942? They said, no. I said, well, he was a United Church minister. I said, do you know what I do for a living? They said, no. Well, I am a United Church minister too. I said, do you know where Stanley Knowles worked? They said, no. Well, he worked at McLean Mission on Alexander Avenue. So, I said, do you know where I work? They said, no. Well, I work at North End Community Ministry, formerly Stella Mission. They said, oh, Stella Mission, we went there when we were kids. We played basketball there. We went to CGIT. We had a great time at Stella Mission. So, I said, would you like to sign my nomination papers, and they said, yes. I do not know if they voted for me or not, but that was my initiation in the 1990 election.

      Probably other people have had that experience where voters are antagonistic or hostile. We try and turn them around with one technique or another to see if we can persuade them to vote for our party or at least stay home and not vote for the other guy's party. So those are the kinds of anecdotes and stories, maybe some tall tales that I look forward to exchanging with the Association of Former MLAs' members sometime in the future.

      In conclusion, I would like to thank all members of the Legislature for the all-party support for this bill. I know that the Association of Former Manitoba MLAs appreciates that as well. I look forward to it passing third reading today and receiving Royal Assent this afternoon. Then the Association of Former Manitoba MLAs will have an official act of the Legislature, which is something that is very important to them. They have really wanted this badly. They have lobbied us incessantly for this. Hopefully, today, they are going to get it. They are already a bona fide organization, I would say, but this will make them even more bona fide. I think it will give them a certain status having an act of the Legislature. They will be on a more equal footing with other provincial associations, and I believe there is a federal association as well.

      So thanks to all members for their support for this bill. I look forward to hearing some more brief speeches today.

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach): Just to say that members of the Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party support this legislation. We will wait with our anecdotes and stories until we are actually official members of the association. Thank you.

Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): It is a pleasure to put a few words on the record. First of all, I want to congratulate the Member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale) and the Member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen) for bringing forward this legislation. It has had, as members know, a rocky past in getting to this stage that it is in now, but we congratulate them for their perseverance, Mr. Speaker.

      This, of course, is the last day of the session and the last day that we will have a chance to debate or participate in private members' hour, Mr. Speaker. I think it is fair to make the comment that we certainly lost a great deal of time in Private Members' Business over the session due to the antics of the opposition, the bell ringing for weeks and weeks and weeks on end. Probably about 12- or 14-hours worth of Private Members' Business was lost, after the government decided to double the amount of time allocated towards Private Members' Business, Mr. Speaker. As was stated before, often Private Members' Business is a chance for opposition members, especially opposition members, to raise important issues for debate, whether through bills or through resolutions.

      I note on the Order Paper that this is, of course, day No. 89 of our current session, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux) a few years ago, brought forward a bill, I believe, where the bill required the Legislature to sit for 80 days. We obviously exceeded that, and it is because of positions taken by the members opposite, members of the opposition, that put pressure on the government in some way. It benefits, I think, all members of this Chamber by allowing more time to debate Private Members' Business. Regrettably, as I said, we lost a significant amount of time in this session due to the antics of the opposition.

* (11:30)

      As stated by the Member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale), it is a rare privilege and an honour for us as MLAs to serve in this Chamber. We just, in the past hour, dealt with the condolence motion. We spoke about former members who have since passed away and talked about their commitment to their constituency and to this institution. I think it is important that we reflect upon that. Those of us who are here realize how fragile democracy is. All of us get together in this Chamber, and we abide by the rules laid down by all parties. The Speaker presides over that and we all agree.

      Mr. Speaker, I remember a time when the opposition members in this Chamber were shut out of debate with the Speaker which I thought was a terrible time and, again, important for us to reflect upon that.

      Talking about past influences, the Member for Burrows mentioned John Diefenbaker. I remember a time when he came to Selkirk and it was one of those events where the whole community came out. My grandfather was the mayor of Selkirk at that time and, of course, Diefenbaker was one of his heroes. We were all there to greet Dief as he came off the boat onto the Selkirk dock. It was an event that all of us remember well. My grandfather ran in the 1962 election for the Conservatives against the former Liberal member at that time for Selkirk, Tommy Hillhouse. Hillhouse prevailed at that particular time, but I remember looking back at the newspaper clippings that my family has of that time, and we remember that as one of the first times that one of our family members entered into partisan politics like that.

      So, Mr. Speaker, again, I think, as has been stated before, that this association will provide a bank of knowledge of our parliamentary system for Manitobans, whether it is for students or general members of the public. They will be there to provide that service, which I think is necessary for a democracy to remain healthy. I always, whenever I speak at post-election parties and even during debates during elections, comment about the importance that election workers play in our democracy, regardless of party, because without them our democracy would not be as healthy as it is.

      Some of the opposition, of course, are predicting the demise of our political party, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to maintaining government here, but I will remind members that that is exactly what you said in 2003 and our political party came back with even a healthier mandate.

      But, once again, I want to thank the Member for Burrows (Mr. Martindale) and the Member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen) for bringing forward this bill, and I hope that the association will continue on providing that important service to the public in Manitoba. Thank you.

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I rise to indicate that this bill has the support of the Liberal Party of Manitoba. I want to indicate that we strongly support the efforts of the former members of this Legislature to get together in this organization to promote a better understanding and better democracy in our province. Thank you.

Ms. Bonnie Korzeniowski (St. James): I know I have already spoken on this bill once but I had not quite finished. It just occurred to me when I was sitting here this morning listening to the condolences that there was so much time spent paying respect to the men who had served their country and the government, and I thought, gee, they obviously are such important people and have done such tremendous service that they deserve this kind of recognition. It just does not make sense that if that service is so valuable that it should not be extended while they are alive.

      Obviously, they still have a lot to contribute to the democratic process, and I am very happy that this act is going to be able to give the dignity that it deserves to these people who have and continue to provide a valuable service in the community. As the previous speaker said, democracy is an incredibly important thing to preserve.

      I just want to reiterate the reasons for the parliamentary democracy and that is that parliamentarianism has attractive features for nations that are ethnically, racially or ideologically diverse. In a unipersonal presidential system, all executive power is concentrated in the president. In a parliamentary system, with a collegial executive, power is more widely distributed. There is also a body of scholarship that claims that parliamentary democracies are less prone to authoritarian collapse. Scholars point out that since World War II, two thirds of third-world countries establishing parliamentary governments successfully transitioned to democracy. By contrast, no third-world presidential system successfully transitioned to democracy without experiencing coups and other constitutional breakdowns.

      Three conditions guarantee an authentic democracy: a constitution to establish legitimate representation, freedom of the elected assembly to regulate its own internal operations and sufficient powers for the assembly to carry out its main responsibilities to legislate, to hold governments to account and to foster free unfettered debate. The world needs politics. It needs debate. It needs maturation of thought and deep reflection. The marketplace should not determine the direction the world takes. The rehabilitation of parliament is more of vital necessity, if we wish decisions necessary to the harmonious evolution of society to be effectively explained and debated in serenity, clarity and objectivity, just like we see every day in this House.

      Parliamentary democracy serves as a powerful reflection of the views of society. It allows for a fair representation of public policy through elected legislators who speak for the people. Parliamentary democracy differs from a direct democracy in which the people participate directly in the making of laws and policies. As opposed to direct democracy, parliamentary democracy imposes a good deal of order. We know that. We hear order, order, order many times in the House. [interjection] Too many, our Speaker makes sure of that.

      It is also capable of effectively dealing with a large population. Guarding against absolutism by a continuous process of checks presented through the different parties, parliamentary democracy is a healthy, adaptable form of government.

      I just want to add one more time, the valuable service that I think our former MLAs are going to do to contribute toward this preservation of democracy, and I heartily, heartily endorse this bill and, like my colleague, I, too, look forward to some day being a part of this group of people and with that I will pass the–[interjection]–pass the torch. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker: Is the House ready for the question?

An Honourable Member: Question.

Mr. Speaker: The question before the House is concurrence and third reading of Bill 300, The Association of Former Manitoba MLAs Act.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?  [Agreed]

Hon. Gord Mackintosh (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, under the rules it is the practice of the House to relieve charitable, religious or benevolent associations of the cost of their fees which, I think, start at 250, depending on the words.

* (11:40)

      I would, by leave, move, seconded by the Minister of Energy (Mr. Chomiak), that fees paid with respect to Bill 300, The Association of Former MLAs Act, be refunded less the cost of printing.

Motion agreed to.

Second Readings–Public Bills

Bill 214–The Environment Amendment Act (Methamphetamine)

Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the MLA for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux), that Bill 214, The Environment Amendment Act (Methamphetamine); Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'environnement (méthamphétamine), be now read a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.

Motion presented.

Mr. Gerrard: Mr. Speaker, the objective of this bill is twofold: first of all, to provide a tool in the manner of this bill to decrease production and the use of crystal meth. Our goal here is to recognize that crystal meth is not only a dangerous substance in terms of people becoming addicted to it, but we want to make sure that people recognize that in the production of crystal meth, there is a considerable variety of toxic and hazardous by-products produced. The dangers of crystal meth apply not only to those who are using it, but certainly in the environment where crystal meth is being produced.

      It is in this context that we have another bill which talks about children who are in homes where there may be crystal meth production which my colleague has introduced. If we have time, we may get to that too.

      I think it is important not only to recognize that these toxic and hazardous chemicals are produced, and for people in Manitoba to understand that the toxic and hazardous nature of chemicals produced in the production of crystal meth, but I believe it is also important to recognize that there are significant costs to the clean-up of a crystal meth production site. Indeed, it has been shown that such costs may be as high as $150,000 to clean up a crystal meth production site. Clearly, as taxpayers, we want to make sure that the environment is well looked after and we want to provide mechanisms to make sure that the costs of clean-up are not borne by taxpayers and are the responsibility of those who produced this dangerous substance in the first place.

Mr. Conrad Santos, Deputy Speaker, in the Chair

      I would suggest that it is important to consider the environment, whether we are dealing with ordinary commerce or, as in this case, what we might call underground commerce. The bill recognized that in all cases, we must be concerned about environmental impacts and that we should not, just because production of crystal meth is not appropriate and produces a substance which should not be used, be concerned about the environment. We should be concerned about the environment and about toxic and hazardous wastes which may be produced.

      I would suggest that in the production of crystal meth, it is possible that there may even be some specific by-products which can be evaluated and detected a bit like a fingerprint and used as a presence of the production of crystal meth. Indeed, with very sensitive mass spectrometry and other drug detection equipment, it is quite possible that you could have people walking up and down the streets with sensitive detection looking for certain of these toxic chemicals as markers of where there may be toxic production sites.

      Alternatively, we know we have mass spectrometers which talk about the chemicals that are present on the moon or on distant stars. You never know, but you may even at one point be able to have satellites or planes flying over and be able to find out where there is a crystal meth production site because of  specific chemicals which are detected like a fingerprint.

      Our efforts here are concern for children who are becoming addicted with crystal meth, the dangers of addiction, of course, in not only children but adults. We in the Liberal Party want to do what we can to decrease the likelihood of people using and becoming addicted to crystal meth.

      We believe this is one of a suite of activities which are important in terms of decreasing crystal meth production, that we need on the one hand to be using appropriate methods to detect and to shut down crystal meth production sites. We also see that there is an important role to prevent people becoming addicted to crystal meth and to pay attention to decreasing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and other conditions where there may be a higher likelihood of people becoming addicted because of the nature of the impact of, in that case, alcohol exposure very early on in fetal life. There may be other conditions, smoking, second-hand smoke, which predispose to people using crystal meth.

      Certainly what is needed are approaches which will decrease the likelihood of people becoming addicted or using crystal meth or wanting to use crystal meth, even where it is produced. So part of what we need to do is shut down production, but part of what we need to do is to change things in terms of recognizing who and where are more susceptible and to decreasing the likelihood of people becoming addicted and using crystal meth.

      In this context we suggest that it is very important that much more be done in terms of providing opportunities and activities for young people so that they will not have to resort to the use of crystal meth to be stimulated and have exciting options, that there are some wonderful exciting options in Winnipeg and Manitoba. We need to make sure that those options, those activities, are available to young people, so that they have productive, whether it be sports or music or arts, travel or what have you; that there are camps, there are activities that young people can be very engaged in and occupied with so that they will be less likely to seek the risk taking and the potential stimulant effect of crystal meth, because they have exciting and fulfilling lives and opportunities.

      So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is one piece of a larger number of activities which we see as very important in terms of addressing the addiction and the use of crystal meth and we would hope that members of this Legislature would be supportive and help this bill to pass, even though it is on the last day of the session.

Mr. Andrew Swan (Minto): Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak about Bill 214, The Environment Amendment Act, which has been advanced by the Member for River Heights. This bill would amend The Environment Act to make it an offence to pollute the environment while producing methamphetamine.

      Certainly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in this House I have been often sharply critical of the independent members in this House, the Member for River Heights, the Member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux), when they put things forward. I think this time they have put forward a bill which has some legitimate purpose to it, even though it is in the entirely wrong act and would not actually do what I believe the Member for River Heights wants it to do, but I will be somewhat gentle on the independent members.

* (11:50)

      I appreciate that if there is an election called this summer, this could be the last day these independent members get to sit in this Legislature. So I will be somewhat more gentle in my comments.

      Now we know that the manufacture of crystal meth is indeed an environmental concern, using household materials, using caustic materials, using chemicals. People can cook up meth in an abandoned farmhouse, in a home, in an apartment, even in hotel and motel rooms. We know that for every kilogram of crystal meth that is created, there are, most people say, five to six kilograms of harmful by-products. I think we can all agree that if somebody is reckless enough to be cooking up meth, it is very unlikely that they are taking those products to a safe disposal site. We know they are getting flushed down the bathtub or left in the backyard.

      So, certainly the issue of the by-products of methamphetamine is serious and something that needs to be dealt with. I do want to speak about, first of all, the government's response and secondly, the particular problem with trying to do what the Member for River Heights wishes to do and talk a little bit more about the overall strategy of dealing with this potentially harmful drug.

      Now our government recognizes the multiple hazards associated with illegal drug production facilities; not just crystal meth, but also other products: crack cocaine, ecstasy, other drugs which now can be manufactured. Our government has established a multi-agency working group called the Manitoba Meth Task Force which, of course, deals specifically with the relatively new problem of crystal meth. A task force, if examining issues regarding the contamination and the remediation of clandestine lab drop facilities and disposal sites, involves looking at the emerging science, looking at what we are being told and the collection of information including legislative responses and other best practices from other North American jurisdictions.

      Indeed, the problem of crystal meth is not something which is coming first to Manitoba. Unfortunately, it has spread through the western states into British Columbia and through the western provinces. Manitoba, thankfully, has not had the kind of problems that other jurisdictions have had. It is nothing really to celebrate though. Certainly it means that we want to be ready and we are becoming ready for the onset of this drug in Manitoba. We want to ensure that those criminals who create hazardous waste through drug production are accountable and responsible for paying the costs of remediation. So again, for the Member for River Heights, we accept the general principle that he is trying to cover by Bill 214. Unfortunately, I do have to say that the proposed legislative method for achieving this goal is misplaced.

      Now, The Environment Act is not the place, it is not the statute for an amendment of this nature, because although The Environment Act deals with pollutants, the focus of the rest of that piece of legislation is on the licensing regulation of legitimate economic activities and their pollutants. If I was highly cynical, of course, I would suggest that the Liberal Party only very recently discovered that crystal meth was not a legitimate activity. That would be unfair, but there has been some frustration, certainly in dealing with the federal government on this issue and unfortunately, with the past Liberal government, it took a long time for western premiers, for western MPs from various political parties to make the Liberal government in Ottawa aware that there was a substantial problem.

      Now again, although there are not many reasons to celebrate the change in government in Ottawa if you are a New Democrat, certainly on this file, I believe we now do have a government perhaps because of its increased western representation that is more inclined to listen. Manitoba has been a leader with the other western provinces in calling for tougher measures to deal with crystal meth; one of the major ones being the bulk importation of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine which, frankly, the former Liberal federal government allowed to fester. However, I will not pin that on the Member for River Heights nor the Member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux).

      In truth, The Environment Act is not the place to go. Indeed, The Dangerous Goods Handling and Transportation Act would seem to be the place to look for matters dealing with crystal meth and that act already includes offence provisions for illegally handling, which would include manufacturing or disposing of hazardous waste.

      The other question I certainly have is that Bill 214, which seeks to amend The Environment Act, only deals with methamphetamine and I am not sure why we would limit such a move simply to meth. Clandestine drug labs may produce a wider range of illegal drugs, certainly crack cocaine, and unfortunately, is something which has been in the inner city of Winnipeg for more than a decade. Ecstasy, PCP, other drugs can also be manufactured. They also have equally hazardous ingredients and/or waste products.

      So, I would certainly prefer looking under the correct act, The Dangerous Goods Handling and Transportation Act, that it be broad enough to cover all drugs being manufactured as well as those drugs which may be around the corner, whether it is next month or next year. I think simply putting our eggs in this basket would not be the best use of our Legislature's time. We have and will continue to improve legislation which truly deals with all kinds of drugs being manufactured.

      The Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard) did speak about this being part of a larger plan, and indeed Manitoba does have a larger plan. The Manitoba Meth Strategy is a comprehensive plan to restrict the supply and also reduce the demand for crystal meth. I would like to highlight some of the features of the Manitoba Meth Strategy. It includes joining the Province of Saskatchewan in restricting the sale of 17 single-source pseudoephedrine products, which are the preferred ingredient in manufacturing meth, to make them available for sale only behind the counter in pharmacies and limiting quantities to 3,600 mg. per purchase.

      As well, we are continuing strong partnerships with jurisdictions across Canada, our other provincial partners and, as I said, the federal government, to develop an appropriate phased-in approach to restricting the sale both of single-source and also multi-source pseudoephedrine products.

      We are also increasing investments in mental health and addictions program. Indeed, there was an historic increase in resources for addictions and mental health to provide enhanced training to front-line workers dealing with crystal meth, other addictions and mental health issues.

      We have also established the Manitoba Meth Task Force, which comprises government, law enforcement and addictions agencies, which is led by the Department of Healthy Living and the Department of Justice.

      We have formalized and we have enhanced a unified take-down protocol for meth labs for the City of Winnipeg police, for the RCMP and for municipal police forces to make sure that when the call comes in for a meth lab, everybody is ready and can deal with it safely and appropriately.

      I was very pleased in February of this year that the various Crimestoppers organizations across the province for the first time got together, and they created an initiative to double cash rewards for tips on meth-related crimes.

      Mr. Deputy Speaker, you have probably seen the $280,000 crystal meth public awareness campaign which includes print, radio, transit and television ads, brochures, Web site, indeed community forums for people to get more information on this drug.

      We now require any theft of anhydrous ammonia, a common agricultural product, to be reported.

      We have provided funding for over 600 first responders, including police and firefighters, to access an Internet-based training course in crystal meth.

      Indeed, we have developed a protocol for child welfare agencies to identify and provide assistance to children endangered by the production of drugs by their caregivers.

So, certainly, I could go on longer, Mr. Deputy Speaker, with the Manitoba Meth Strategy.

Again, for the Member for River Heights, I think he has good intentions in mind. This is not the act in which to do it. The things which he is talking about we are already doing in other legislation and by our strategy, but we certainly look forward to hearing anything that other members may have to say on this act. Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Kelvin Goertzen (Steinbach): I appreciate the opportunity to put just a few comments on the record regarding this particular piece of legislation. I do commend the Member for River Heights for bringing it forward. I think that any ideas that we can advance here in this Chamber or elsewhere regarding illegal drug activity in the province of Manitoba are worthy for discussion and for the debate. So, on that premise, I certainly commend my friend from River Heights.

      I do think that the government would be wise to listen to this particular piece of legislation, and I know that the Member for Minto as he and his colleagues often do raise some different reasons why the legislation cannot be proceeded upon. But this is the last day of session, or we suspect it will be the last day of session, and funny things can happen on the last day of session. Sometimes there is more of a willingness among government members to move or to be creative in how they deal with particular pieces of legislation from the opposition, and this may in fact be a good opportunity for members of the government to be creative in terms of how we find a way to make this particular piece of legislation become law in one form or the other.

* (12:00)

      I would certainly hope it would not be the intention of the government to try to stall this piece of legislation for political purposes and then re-introduce it perhaps under their own name at a different time. I think, perhaps, that there is a better way to deal with this and to work out a deal perhaps. If it needs amendment, I suspect that the members of the independent party may be reasonable in this accord to make amendments and come forward and to see it then go forward in a form that would be acceptable to those officials in the department who might have concerns.

      I do take some exception to the comments from the Member for Minto (Mr. Swan) on the proactiveness of the government on the issue of methamphetamine. In fact, I think the record speaks something different. I do not often tell this story, but I will tell it here in the Legislature about how there was a conference in 1999 in the province of Manitoba, a conference that was sponsored by Manitoba Justice. It brought officials from around North America into Canada, into Winnipeg in fact, to speak about different issues related to drugs and to other justice issues. At that conference, there was a speaker there in particular, who talked about methamphetamine. I have it from good information from somebody who was a high-level official in the Department of Justice at that time in 1999 that the department said, well, we need to take some initiative; we need to take some direction on this, on the issue of methamphetamine before it becomes a problem.

      As we know, history tells us that in 1999, a few months later, the government changed, and we never heard a peep about methamphetamine from this government for another six years. For six years after the initial warning came from representatives from other states who were visiting here and giving presentations, six years after that warning nothing was done by this government. They only truly became interested when it became an issue of popular discussion. In fact, when others started to raise the issue and the concern about methamphetamine throughout the province of Manitoba, then this government took an interest in it because they saw political expediency as some political game by talking about the issue. I think that is unfortunate.

Mr. Speaker in the Chair

      Some of the initiatives that have been brought forward by the government, I think are positive. I certainly have called for more information to the extent that there has been more information regarding crystal methamphetamine. I think that that is a positive step forward, but how it is that we had to push the government and others had to push the government into getting to that point, I think, speaks ill of this government and how they take these issues not as seriously as they should, Mr. Speaker.

      So, there are, in fact, a number of concerns that I have in regard to how the government is responding to issues of illegal drug use in the province of Manitoba, and they are not doing it in a proactive way. We know that the sooner you get involved in these problems in emerging drugs and emerging issues in justice, the better chance you have of keeping it from gaining a foothold in our province and in other jurisdictions. So I commend the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard) for bringing forward this particular idea. I think that there is always room for negotiation even at a late hour, Mr. Speaker, and I would hope that this might be part of those negotiations, not for any sort of political purposes because we believe it is in the better interest of Manitobans. Thank you very much.

Mr. Daryl Reid (Transcona): Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence and to members of the House for allowing me the opportunity to speak to Bill 214, the bill that has been brought forward by the Member for River Heights. I do know–I have had the opportunity in past discussions dealing with the issue of crystal meth. I have had the opportunity to put some comments on the record, and I would like to take that opportunity again today.

       This is an issue that obviously is important to all of our communities. I do not think, Mr. Speaker, looking at the media reports and discussions with police around the province that there is any particular community of our province or any other jurisdiction in Canada, or North America for that matter, that is immune to the issue of crystal meth.

      I do want to start off by congratulating our Minister of Justice, our Attorney General (Mr. Mackintosh) for the work that he has done with respect to this issue of crystal meth, the scourge, as we have often referred to it, and the havoc that it wreaks upon our communities. I do know that our Minister of Justice has, over a number of years–I know because I have had discussions with the minister–he would take his own personal time, and he would travel to other jurisdictions and meet with folks from those jurisdictions to talk to them about the best practice in dealing with drugs and, in particular, with crystal meth, and then to learn from those jurisdictions on how they would deal with this issue, bring back those best practices to the province of Manitoba and then look at ways that we can deal with the prevention of crystal meth in our society and, of course, Mr. Speaker, for those that continue to break the law, how we would deal with those offenders and, of course, the unsafe conditions that would exist.

      I listened to the comments by the Member for Minto (Mr. Swan) and the Member for Steinbach (Mr. Goertzen) with respect to crystal meth, as well as the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), and I do acknowledge their expertise in dealing with this. They have been involved in this issue for perhaps a lot longer than some members of the House, myself included, Mr. Speaker, but I do note that in discussions that we have had with respect to Bill 214, that while this issue is perhaps well founded and the interest is well founded in dealing with crystal meth, that perhaps bringing forward an amendment or legislation under The Environment Act is misplaced and would perhaps be more appropriately dealt with under The Dangerous Goods Handling and Transportation Act in the province of Manitoba. That would seem to be the more appropriate place for this type of initiative and legislation.

      I listened to my colleague, the Member for Minto (Mr. Swan), in talking about the volume, the quantities of hazardous products that are produced through crystal meth labs, and I do know that there is no community that is immune to the sale of crystal meth. My own communities and others around the province have to deal with this, unfortunately, on an ongoing basis. We have to be ever vigilant even in our own communities to make sure that those who break the law are held accountable for their actions. But it is difficult to say that under The Environment Act when police and firefighters–and I do know, I have had the opportunity to talk to them about this issue for some time–how do you prevent a crystal meth lab and the people who are breaking the law from flushing these products down the sewer in the family home, for example, or in a small warehouse or a factory wherever these products are produced? So there are issues dealing with that and the disposal. But The Dangerous Goods Handling and Trans­portation Act, from my understanding, is the way to deal with this issue.

      Also, in looking at Bill 214, it is my view that this particular bill is too narrowly focussed, and while it focusses in on crystal meth and the labs associated with producing this illegal substance and product, this bill is too limited in its scope and would only allow for crystal meth to be considered, and that there are many other drug labs, no doubt, that occur around our country and North America and perhaps even in our own jurisdiction where there are other illegal products and drugs that are produced whether it be ecstasy, PCP or cocaine. Those products are also quite detrimental to society and those who are consuming them and, of course, are equally hazardous in their ingredients and their waste products. So if I understand this bill correctly it only focusses narrowly on crystal meth production and the labs associated and does not deal with the broader range of issues associated with these other types of labs.

      I do know, Mr. Speaker, that there is a cost associated with cleaning up, and that is one that is obviously borne through this process by the various jurisdictions, and we have to do whatever we can to prevent these labs from establishing in the first place. I do know that our greater society at large would be quite helpful to the police organizations in our province to help prevent these labs from establishing. I do know that in our own province here through our Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act we have taken steps by providing additional tools to target problem properties where crystal meth and other drugs are produced and are believed to be taking place in their production, and my understanding is that we have closed down some 150 drug dens in this province, and that is a strong step in the right direction and will go a long way towards making the communities safer in which these illegal products were produced.

      Our Minister of Justice (Mr. Mackintosh) and our government, Mr. Speaker, have taken steps, successfully I might add, to lobby the federal government to increase penalties for trafficking and production of crystal meth with a maximum sentence of 10 years to life, being in line now with other drugs like heroin and cocaine. I know that our Minister of Justice worked hard on this to bring about this change, and of course that will bring the production of crystal meth and any trafficking involved in this substance in line with those other hard-line drugs, and that will hopefully send a strong message, a deterrent message, to those who are involved in this illegal activity.

* (12:10)

      We have also joined with other jurisdictions, Mr. Speaker, in restricting the sale, in particular the Province of Saskatchewan, of some 17 single-source pseudoephedrine products which is the preferred ingredient in making crystal meth. We have now taken that product and required it to be behind the counter of pharmacies. We have also limited the quantities that an individual can purchase at any one time to some 3,600 milligrams per purchase. I think most folks know that it requires a large volume of pseudoephedrine to produce crystal meth, and those who were involved in this illegal activity were scouting, going pharmacy to pharmacy and looking for sources of large quantities. To take that product and now move it behind the counter makes it less accessible to those who are involved in illegal activities but still makes it available to the general public for its intended purpose.

      Mr. Speaker, I know I have had the opportunity to talk with firefighters, some in my own community, and with police officers with respect to the production of crystal meth. They are supportive of the initiatives of our government to restrict the sale of the product and for the efforts that we have made with respect to the changes to the Criminal Code for those that are trafficking and producing crystal meth.

      But they are also aware that our government is keenly interested in working to provide opportunities that will allow for the training of first responders. Just two weeks ago our jurisdiction, the first in Canada, we had  province-wide funding for a program for first responders, including police and firefighters, training in dealing with crystal meth.

      We also have protocols in place and are developing protocols for child welfare agencies that are identified, and other first responder agencies, in dealing with the production of crystal meth where there may be children involved, Mr. Speaker. We have also hired new police officers to assist in that regard. Our progress and our work continue in dealing with crystal meth and the production labs that occasionally occur in our province. We take a strong stand to try to deal with this scourge on our society.

      But I must say, Mr. Speaker, that this Bill 214 is perhaps a misplaced initiative on the part of the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard) with respect to his intent to deal with the production of crystal meth and that it would perhaps be better applied if we were to deal with this under The Dangerous Goods Handling and Transportation Act of the Province of Manitoba.

      So I will conclude my remarks, Mr. Speaker, and give other members the opportunity to add their comments with respect to this bill as well. Thank you.

Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Radisson (Mr. Jha), that debate be now adjourned.

Motion agreed to.

Bill 215–The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Drug-Endangered Children)

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Inkster): I move, seconded by the Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), that Bill 215, The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Drug-Endangered Children), be now read a second time and be referred to a committee of this House.

Motion presented.

Mr. Lamoureux: Mr. Speaker, I do believe this is one of three bills that I have introduced now that actually deals with protecting our children. One is this bill which enables Child and Family Services to better protect individuals that use our children in essence as a cover in order to produce crystal meth.

      I think it is a bill which all members should support. I would welcome the opportunity to see this bill actually pass where it could go to a committee intersessionally, much like other private members' bills. I think that would be for the betterment of Manitobans. Other bills, as I indicated, the milk bill which sets the price of milk for our children, FASD, which protects our children in the future, if I can put it that way. These are all good bills that the government should allow to go to committee so there can be, at least, some intersessional discussion, I would ultimately argue, because it is for the betterment of all Manitobans.

      I am going to keep it at that, Mr. Speaker, only because I hope to hear the government comment on the bill. Thank you.

Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): I move, seconded by the Member for Minto (Mr. Swan), that debate be now adjourned.

Motion agreed to.



Bill 203–The Health Services Amendment and Health Services Insurance Amendment Act

Mr. Speaker: Resume debate on Bill 203, The Health Services Amendment and Health Services Insurance Amendment Act, standing in the name of the honourable Member for Selkirk (Mr. Dewar).

      What is the will of the House? Is it the will of the House for the bill to remain standing in the name of the honourable Member for Selkirk? [Agreed]

      It will remain standing in the name of the honourable Member for Selkirk. 

Bill 202–The Good Samaritan Act

Mr. Speaker: Bill 202, The Good Samaritan Act, standing in the name of the honourable Member for Rossmere (Mr. Schellenberg).

      What is the will of the House? Is it the will of the House for the bill to remain standing in the name of the honourable Member for Rossmere? [Agreed]

Bill 201–The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Grandparent Access)

Mr. Speaker: Bill 201, The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Grandparent Access), standing in the name of the honourable Member for Rossmere (Mr. Schellenberg).

      What is the will of the House? Is it the will of the House for the bill to remain standing in the name of the honourable Member for Rossmere? [Agreed]

      It is also standing in the name of the honourable Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), who has eight minutes remaining.

      What is the will of the House? Is it the will of the House for the bill to remain standing in the name of the honourable Member for River Heights? [Agreed]

Bill 204–The Good Samaritan Protection Act

Mr. Speaker: Bill 204, The Good Samaritan Protection Act, standing in the name of the honourable Member for Inkster (Mr. Lamoureux).

      What is the will of the House?

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Inkster): Mr. Speaker, I am going to take this opportunity to speak on this particular bill because I do believe that the Good Samaritan bill is a very positive bill. In fact, I would suggest to you that Bill 202 or Bill 204 are bills that, in fact, should be passing.

      I am surprised how the government, after seeing that the Liberal Party brought in Good Samaritan legislation, the NDP have noted the good idea. They bring in their own private member's bill to try to deal with it, Mr. Speaker, but in the true form of not wanting to compromise, this government is prepared to take no action on good ideas. There is a government legislative agenda. We recognize that. We appreciate that. There are also opposition legislative agendas.

      I would suggest to you that, if you take a look at the number of bills that are in private members' hour, the government is doing a disservice by constantly ignoring the value of contributions that those bills could be making for our province. By doing so, I truly believe that they are doing a disservice. The Good Samaritan legislation, in principle, is a bill I believe in which everyone could get onside and support, Mr. Speaker. We support it. The Member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard) and the Liberal Party have brought in this legislation prior to this particular bill because we recognize that it has value. The government recognizes that it has value.

      Mr. Speaker, if you look at Hansard in regard to Bill 202, you will see many speakers on the Liberal bill. Many of them are coming from the Conservative Party in which, they too, support Good Samaritan legislation.

      I would ultimately argue every member or at least every entity inside this Chamber, political entity has, in fact, indicated support for Good Samaritan legislation. One has to ask the question: Why then are we not seeing Good Samaritan legislation pass? The answer to that question is because if the government does not get the sole credit for an idea inside this Legislature, they want nothing to do with it and it will not pass. That is what they have been very clear in indicating. I think that is sad. They are doing a disservice to Manitobans by not acting on good ideas. It is their idea or the highway. I find it is unfortunate and it is not a way to govern this province.

* (12:20)

Mr. Speaker: Order. When this matter is again before the House, the honourable Member for Inkster will have seven minutes remaining.

      The hour being past twelve o'clock, we will recess and reconvene at 1:30 p.m.