Ms. Soo Wong: I have a petition from Scarborough–Agincourt addressed to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario:
“Whereas creating a safe and positive learning environment is an essential part of helping students succeed in school;
“Whereas bullying, homophobia and gender-based violence are unacceptable;
“Whereas we need to do more than just tell bullied kids it gets better—we need to work together to make it better now;
“Whereas the Accepting Schools Act would, if passed, help to end bullying in our schools;
“We, the undersigned, petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:
“That the elected members of all parties help make our schools safer and more inclusive by supporting the Accepting Schools Act.”
I certainly support this petition. I will affix my signature and send it through page Brady.
ACCEPTING SCHOOLS ACT, 2012 /
LOI DE 2012 POUR
DES ÉCOLES TOLÉRANTES
Resuming the debate adjourned on April 26, 2012, on the motion for second reading of the following bill:
Bill 13, An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters / Projet de loi 13, Loi modifiant la Loi sur l’éducation en ce qui a trait à l’intimidation et à d’autres questions.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Questions and comments?
Mr. John O’Toole: The member from Oshawa, in his last remarks on Bill 13, was committed, passionate and very, very exceptional in terms of his putting two or three points on the table that I think were quite new to the debate. In fact, he pointed out, as I recall, a section that exists in the Education Act today that would have permitted the Minister of Education—you’ll see I’m not false, to demonstrate that I actually listen when people speak; the section, I believe, was 306 in the bill, that would have allowed the Minister of Education today to deal with bullying.
Now, from the evidence I have from both my daughter-in-law, who is a teacher, as well as my wife, who was a teacher and now a school trustee, the issue of bullying today in schools is a problem. We all agree with that. The intent of Bill 14 of the former member from Kitchener–Waterloo—now the chair of the WSIB—was clearly not to prioritize bullying but to deal with all forms of bullying, because all of us agree it’s completely inappropriate.
Now, I think Lisa MacLeod, our critic, has tried relentlessly to get some kind of consensus developed so that we could put Bill 13 and Bill 14 into committee. Let’s not polarize these things. Let’s try and move forward and try to find consensus; consensus, I think, would put less emphasis on certain aspects of Bill 13.
I would only say this: the member from Oshawa—I believe that if you review his remarks, and I expect out of respect that people on the other side would comment on that—was trying to make the argument in the case very clearly that under the Education Act today, there is a provision under section 306 that would allow the minister to do that.
Let’s get on with it. Let’s move forward together under the leadership of Tim Hudak and make Ontario a better place for all of our students.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comments and questions?
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Speaker, as you are well aware, and as I imagine many are well aware, we have been very frustrated watching this process between the government and the opposition on anti-bullying. We believe that our children deserve far better. We want action on bullying. We need co-operation between these two parties to actually make things go forward. Whatever happens in this House still has to be sorted out in committee. If we don’t forge co-operation, the frustration we’ve had in debates here will be reflected in frustration in committee.
To the Conservatives, I say: Elizabeth Witmer has gone; her bill has died. One of you—I assume Lisa MacLeod—should bring forward that bill post-haste.
To the Liberals, I say: Bill 14 and Bill 13 should both be adopted on second reading and go to committee so that we can hear both of them, so the public can come and depute, and we can resolve this.
Speaker, both parties have gone around in circles on this. We are prepared to work with both parties to get the bills into committee, to talk and to come up with a solution: no games, no use of a hammer on the Legislature; simply a movement into committee.
The Liberals have been saying that the bells are related to the anti-bullying, but even in the press conference given by Laurel Broten, she brought in a wide range of other issues. I would say that it is a question of a fight over Ornge. I say to the Conservatives: It’s time to bring back your bill, it’s time to put both bills into committee, time to hear from the people of Ontario and move forward on this.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): The Minister of the Environment.
Hon. James J. Bradley: I have a lot of time for the member for Oshawa, who I think is very thoughtful in the remarks that he brings to the Legislature and the kind of approach that he brings—I hope he doesn’t put this in his next election pamphlet—but I do have a good deal of respect for him, and I thought his speech was particularly compelling on this issue.
I know I’m disappointed, as he may be privately—I can’t say he is publicly—that instead of seeing the kind of debate that is helpful in a bill of this kind, we’ve seen bell ringing taking place.
For the public who is not aware of what bell ringing is, that is, of course, when the members of the opposition want to disrupt the House—in this case, it’s the official opposition, not the New Democratic Party—or put a stick in the spokes of the bicycle; what they do is ring bells. They end up moving adjournment of the debate, and the bell rings for 30 minutes. Then they end up moving adjournment of the House, and what do we have happening then? We have, of course, another 30-minute bell.
I encourage debate with members of the House. Even when I disagree with what they’re saying on the other side, I like to hear that debate. We know that the children in our classrooms are counting on having this legislation in place for their return to classrooms in September. We stand by our commitment to incorporate over half of Liz Witmer’s bill, which was withdrawn on her resignation, in the Accepting Schools Act, because I thought she made a good effort in this. I congratulate her on her appointment as the head of the workers’ safety board. I hope that we can resolve this matter without further bell ringing.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Further comment?
Mr. John Yakabuski: I’m pleased to comment. I’ll take my cue from the Minister of the Environment, who took substantial licence in his editorializing in here and did not really speak to the statement that my colleague had done the last time the bill was debated.
He has his own version on what’s going on in this House, and I think I’d like to clarify that. This is about the ringing of the bells. The minister says that they want to debate. Speaker, the last time that a Liberal member rose in this House to debate Bill 13 was April 4—so, it’s almost a month since a Liberal has stood in this House and debated the bill. We have been debating the bill. We have never shied way from debating the bill. We believe that every member in this Legislature should be able to exercise their right to debate this bill, and we’re going to do that.
But let me make one thing crystal clear: The reason the bells are ringing in this House is because this government broke its own promise to this Legislature. The Minister of Health stood in her place repeatedly and said, “I will abide by the will of this Legislature.” When, in a resolution, this Legislature voted to establish a select committee to look into the scandal at Ornge that has been perpetrated by this government, they broke their promise. This Legislature voted for it. The minister promised she would abide by the will of the Legislature, and broke that promise.
That is why this opposition party—it has nothing to do with Bill 13 or Bill 50 or Bill 16 or 2 or 19 or any other bill. It is about the absolute disrespect for the will of the Legislature displayed by this party on the other side. As long as they want to stand in their place and break promises and brag about it, this party will stand up for the rights of this Legislature to debate any bill and to cause the bells to ring when this party will continue to lie and break its word.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): I ask the member to withdraw.
Mr. John Yakabuski: Withdraw, Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you.
The member from Oshawa has two minutes to respond.
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I appreciate the members from Durham, Toronto–Danforth, St. Catharines and Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke speaking in regard to my comments.
A couple of things—and I would mention to the member from St. Catharines: The minister has been around for a number of years, as have a significant number of others. He brought it to my attention that, in years gone by—and I checked Hansard, and guess what?—the bells rang for a week at one particular time. You can’t believe that. He may have been privy to it at that time, or part of the entire aspect; I’m not sure. But let’s talk about another member, because that’s where a lot of it—
Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Is this about Bill 13?
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: I will get to that, if given the chance. I’m trying to answer the comments that came formerly.
The members of the current government actually spoke in committee for two years to delay that. You want to talk about these things? I’ll be happy to bring up the stuff from Hansard that we talked about. Let’s talk about the occupation of the Legislature—
Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Is this about Bill 13?
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: —but back to Bill 13. There were specific aspects in there that I wanted to emphasize and that was where, in legislation—and this was brought forward by a well-known Canadian, Pierre Elliott Trudeau—where, quite frankly, Madam Speaker, it is stated that any time a single entity is mentioned in the legislation, there is a perception given of a higher order of rights. Essentially, by mentioning any specific entity and excluding others in legislation, there is a perception that there is a hierarchy, or a hierarchy of rights, that is established when these things come forward.
We want to make sure that—
Ms. Tracy MacCharles: Is this about Bill 13?
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: Absolutely, and if the member was listening or heard the debate, she would know exactly what it was about.
But establishing that is at the cost of others, and that’s the concern of other entities that are not listed as well.
My colleague from Durham mentioned section 306, where it specifically stated that bullying was the ability of the principals, whether it was on school or off school, in any way, shape or form to address that issue.
Tuesday last, a week ago today, I had one of the parents come to me and specifically say, “We’re concerned. We realize this is taking place and the only thing that’s happening in the school board right now is they’re moving our child from school to school to school.” They’re now looking at private school in order to eliminate it.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you. The member for Ottawa–Orléans.
Mr. Phil McNeely: I just want to correct the record from yesterday’s debate. I said “cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour.” It should have been “per year,” as I had in my notes. I may have stated wrongly. It’s just about 1510 in the record.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Thank you very much. Further debate?
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’m pleased to rise today to speak to Bill 13, An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters. I’m happy to have the opportunity to participate in this debate.
Bullying is a serious issue that is affecting our children, their ability to learn and in some cases impacting every part of their lives. Madam Speaker, we have too much bullying in schools and too many young people starting each day dreading what the bullies will do to them.
I’ve heard from many constituents who are concerned about bullying—from Norwich township, parents in Tillsonburg and parents in Ingersoll. In some cases, the situation is so intolerable that the parents felt that their only option was to remove their children from the school and do home-schooling.
I’ve written to the school board and we’ve tried to work with parents and schools, but clearly we need to do more. We need to give schools and school boards the tools they need to deal effectively with bullying and give children the support they need to feel safe in schools. I think that’s something that all three parties would agree on.
This session, two bills were introduced that addressed this problem: Bill 13, which we are debating today, and Bill 14, which was introduced by my colleague the former member from Kitchener–Waterloo. I want to commend her for all her work on this important issue.
Bill 14 was the culmination of two years of work with educators, stakeholders and parents. The bill was intended to raise awareness and prevent bullying to make our schools a safer place for our children to learn. Although Elizabeth Witmer is no longer a member of this Legislature, we can still learn from her work on bullying and we can still look to the bill she introduced for ideas on how to improve Bill 13. This isn’t about partisan politics; it’s about making sure that we have the best possible legislation to help students who are being bullied.
Madam Speaker, shortly after I was elected, I had a very sad situation in my riding. A young girl was being bullied at school. She was attacked by four bullies who forced her to the ground and burned her hand with a cigarette. The bullies were charged by the law, but they were allowed to go free and to continue to attend the same school. The victim was expected to go back and sit in the same classroom with them, but she was unable to do that.
We worked with the school board to try to find a solution. After much work, we were able to separate them, but it was the victim who had to be moved to another school and it was the victim’s parents who then had to drive her each morning to a location where she could catch a bus to go to the other school. We need to ensure that when bullying occurs, it is the bully rather than the victim who is punished.
But more than that, we need to address the cause of bullying to prevent situations like the tragedy where young people feel they can no longer face another day at school. That’s why we need to compare the strengths and weaknesses of Bill 13 and former Bill 14 to ensure that we provide the best possible solution for our young people.
Bill 14 was a comprehensive anti-bullying bill that focused on prevention, accountability and awareness. It would have provided students, parents and educators with a strategy to raise awareness and prevent bullying as well as a process to resolve it, collect data and report to the ministry. Unfortunately, Bill 13 does not include these things and therefore does not address the root causes of bullying.
We believe in tackling bullying head on. Unlike the government bill, the bill introduced by the member from Kitchener–Waterloo did so in four critical areas: (1) reporting and investigating bullying, (2) accountability of school officials and boards to the ministry, (3) education and public awareness to prevent bullying, and (4) remedial education for bullies to teach them that bullying is unacceptable.
Bill 14 required anti-bullying lessons to be incorporated into the provincial curriculum from JK to grade 12—again, something that is missing in Bill 13.
Bill 13 limits the focus to a few groups, but that would eliminate many of the young people who need our help. In contrast, the definition in Bill 14 was more thorough and focuses on what constitutes bullying and how it affects the victim.
Just a few months ago, Amanda, a staff member in this building, had a devastating experience when her young cousin took her own life because she was bullied at school. Amanda wants what happened to her cousin to help others. This weekend, she is participating in a walk to support Kids Help Phone, and she is sharing her cousin’s story to raise awareness. I want to read what Amanda wrote:
“Chalyce was an incredibly bright, talented, witty and beautiful individual—inside and out. She was in the international baccalaureate program, a community volunteer, a talented singer and photographer, and had the best sense of humour.
“Of all the admirable qualities Chalyce possessed, it was her kindness and sincere concern for others that were her strongest. Chalyce had the ability to make anyone she came in contact feel special and valued.
“On January 13, 2012, Chalyce took her life; she was 17.
“During her visitation and funeral services, our family learned that while Chalyce’s own struggle with depression and bullying had turned out to be insurmountable, she had touched the lives of many other youth who were dealing with similar issues.
“More than one person shared with Chalyce’s family that Chalyce had ‘saved’ them from a similar fate.”
Madam Speaker, I want to express my sympathies to the family and thank them for sharing that story.
We need to find ways to help young people like Chalyce, but unfortunately, the government’s bill would have excluded her. I hope that as we move forward, we can work together to create the strongest, most effective anti-bullying legislation possible.
Again, I want to say how pleased I was to participate in this debate today. I think it is important that we are open to amendments or looking at ways to once again put Bill 14 forward as an option.
I hope that the government really is willing to work with us on this important issue. I’d like to believe that they are. But we have to look at their record. The Minister of Health told us repeatedly in this Legislature that she would support a select committee to investigate Ornge if it was the will of the Legislature. In democracy, the government should listen to the will of the Legislature, and yet they refuse to do so. The majority of members of this Legislature voted to create a select committee of all parties to investigate Ornge, but the government still refuses to move forward with the committee. It is for that reason that I move adjournment of the debate, Madam Speaker.
The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Julia Munro): Mr. Hardeman has moved adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry?
All those in favour, say “aye.”
All those opposed, say “nay.”
In my opinion, the nays have it.
Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1613 to 1643.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Members take your seats, please.
Mr. Hardeman has moved adjournment of the debate. All those in favour will please stand and be counted by the clerks.
All those opposed, please stand.
The Deputy Clerk (Mr. Todd Decker): The ayes are 21; the nays are 35.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I declare the motion lost.
Further debate? Mr. Hardeman.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’m pleased to rise again to speak to Bill 13, An Act to amend the Education Act with respect to bullying and other matters.
During this debate, many of the members in this Legislature have shared sad stories of students who were being bullied, and for them, we have a responsibility to get this legislation right. I encourage the government to look at the work that Elizabeth Witmer did and ensure that the bill—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It’s kind of loud in here, and we’re trying to listen to Mr. Hardeman—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): I can do without the clapping, thank you.
Please take your seats, and less sidebars, please.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: We’d hoped that the bill would encourage the government to look at the work that Elizabeth Witmer did to ensure that the bill this Legislature passes includes the requirement for a prevention plan, puts bullying prevention in the curriculum, broadens the definition of bullying to include all people who are being victimized and includes accountability.
I also encourage them to look at the section on cyberbullying, which is largely absent from the government’s bill. Bullying doesn’t always stop when the bell rings and the kids leave the playground. We need to ensure that the legislation recognizes that. Bill 14 would have been my preferred option. I hope that, working together and building on the work done by Elizabeth Witmer, we can create a bill that would truly protect our kids.
I think it’s also very important that people can be held accountable for what they say. The Minister of Health said she would obey the will of the House, that if the House voted to have a select committee on Ornge to get to the bottom of the disaster that we have there, she would support that, Mr. Speaker.
With that, I will ask for adjournment of the House until she appoints that committee.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Mr. Hardeman has moved adjournment of the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard a no.
All those in favour will say “aye.”
I believe the nays have it.
Call in the members. This will be a 30-minute bell.
The division bells rang from 1646 to 1716.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Members, take your seats.
Mr. Hardeman has moved adjournment of the House. All those in favour, please stand and be counted by the clerks’ table.
Those opposed, please stand.
The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 12; the nays are 41.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The motion fails.
Questions and comments?
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: I regularly hear—as I heard, quite frankly, the member from Willowdale mentioning—about ringing the bells. That’s been a certain aspect about the debate that was, as I debated before my colleague, some of the key things—it’s important that the government members realize, as we’re dealing with Bill 13, that this isn’t something new; that as colleagues in this Legislature we have certain opportunities to deal with aspects of legislation or the process by which this place operates, which we follow the guidelines for, as did the government members that are there now. A significant number of them that are here now would certainly recall a time during their time in opposition when they rang the bells for an entire solid week—every single day, all day long. How does that differ from what’s taking place now? We’d go about that—
Mr. Jerry J. Ouellette: The deputy leader specifically says, “Oh, it’s about legislation.” Well, quite frankly, it’s about process and the way things operate in this Legislature.
As opposition members, we have certain aspects that deal with these things, and we will continue to use those to our best ability. Quite frankly, if you look at Hansard, you’ll see where another member of the current government at their time spoke for an entire month.
Certainly when we’re dealing with Bill 13 and trying to move other aspects forward, we have these aspects that we’re talking about, and I recall, quite frankly, one of the members from Windsor who’s no longer with us, Ms. Pupatello, who spoke in committee for two years in order to stop one single piece of legislation that came forward at that particular time. Of course, there’s the famous occupation of the Legislature. This isn’t something new, Mr. Speaker.
I want to remind these individuals here that what takes place is a process by which is established—and so long as you comply with the process and deal with what is presented before you in the fashion that you’re allowed to do it, it is all part of the parliamentary process of which we will continue to do.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?
Hon. James J. Bradley: There’s a significant difference, of course, Mr. Speaker, as you would realize being an observer of this House, and that is that what we have now is a minority Parliament; that is, the government does not have the votes in the Legislature to win, and the government is at a disadvantage in committee.
This is a different circumstance. I can understand the opposition, and this opposition and other oppositions have utilized the ringing of bells in other circumstances. That was a majority government. They had no chance of winning any votes, and we weren’t in the very challenging circumstances we are in the province now. On a daily basis, members of the opposition get up and say that the world is coming to an end economically in the province of Ontario. Indeed, we’re seeing some major challenges around the world.
In the context of the very serious circumstances we face, in the context of the fact that the opposition has the majority of votes in the House, it seems to me the utilization of the ringing of bells is not an appropriate utilization on this particular bill, for instance.
I recognize that there are opponents of this bill on the other side of the House, and I think they are entitled to debate as they have determined. Members of the government have contributed previously to the debate. Our government members are satisfied, those who have spoken, with the bill and are prepared to see it go to committee. Members of the opposition may not be and may wish to continue to debate it. That is the right of the opposition, and that is the way this Legislature should work.
What we see is a totally irresponsible opposition, in my opinion. I know you don’t agree over there, and I don’t expect you’re going to—but totally irresponsible. You’re bringing the business of government to a total standstill at the present time, and you can wear it. With all the bills that are waiting at the present time to be processed by this Legislature, you can weigh that before you make your final decisions.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions, comments?
Mr. John Yakabuski: I am so pleased that I was able to get a two-minute lecture from the Minister of the Environment on how this place works and doesn’t work. He’s certainly got his opinion. He’s been here longer than anybody here, so he’s had time to formulate those opinions.
But his view on whether or not the Parliament, based on a minority or majority, should determine how it conducts itself: You would think, given that this is a minority Parliament and the Minister of Health would have known that full well—I do believe she’s aware of the composition of the Parliament—that she would not have stood in her place repeatedly—repeatedly, I say, Mr. Speaker—and said to this Legislature, “I will abide by your will on the issue of a select committee to study the scandal that our government has brought on”—she didn’t actually say that, but I’m just throwing that part in there because it is brought on by her government. But she repeatedly said it and she followed that up with also stating it out in scrums in the hall, that she would abide by the will of the Legislature.
So when the Minister of the Environment chastises us and scolds us on this side, the one thing you have in government—in Parliament, the government still holds all the cards. They are the government. The Premier sits on that side. All the ministers of the crown sit on that side. We have very few tools with which to hold this government to account, and one of them is that we can express our views in this Legislature by calling for adjournment of the debate or adjournment of the House.
It is not because we are opposed to any particular bill or piece of legislation. In fact, we have continued to debate. If this government wants, they can bring forth a closure motion on this bill any time they want. It’s up to the government.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Questions and comments?
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: It’s a pleasure to join the debate, and I certainly wish this isn’t the debate we’re having.
I think it’s the nature of the issue that is most concerning here. For people who are watching on TV, what is happening here right now is, you’ve got this side of the House trying to debate a motion that is going to bring anti-bullying legislation to schools in the province of Ontario.
As we speak, right now we’ve got kids who are committing suicide in schools because they’re being bullied. We’ve got kids with mental health issues who are being bullied. We’ve got kids who are being bullied because of race issues and culture issues, gender identity issues.
What’s happening in this House is our ability to move that forward, to do something about that as a Legislature, is being stymied because the opposition has a different opinion on an entirely different bill.
I’m suggesting that we had some great input from the member who has just left us, from Liz Witmer. I think she brought some excellent ideas. We were prepared to incorporate those ideas in this legislation that’s going into the schools. Instead, games continue to be played by that side of the House. I could understand it on another bill; on this bill, you’d think we would have the fortitude to come together as a House and to get this through.
The public out there needs to be very, very clear about what’s happening. We’re trying to get legislation into our schools that will end the bullying that has been taking place, that has resulted in the tragedies that have cost kids their lives, and on the other side of the House, we’re seeing this legislation being blocked—
Hon. James J. Bradley: Hijacked.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: —hijacked in a way that simply doesn’t pay tribute to the importance of the issue.
It’s an issue that, if we got beyond the partisan stuff, got beyond the party stuff, I think we’d all agree on.
We’ve had 17 hours of debate on this. It’s time to move forward. I’m asking the opposition to allow this bill to go forward. Bring your ideas forward to committee. Let’s move. The kids want us to do this.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The member from Oxford has two minutes to reply.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the members from Oshawa, St. Catharines, Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke and Oakville for their comments. I was somewhat sorry to hear that there were no comments about my presentation on Bill 13 or part of my presentation on Bill 14, because they were all talking about something else.
I just want to point out, first of all, that my presentation was about putting the two together, but I think the government is somewhat disingenuous when they say that they are trying to do that too. We remember that Bill 14 was before committee, and subcommittee refused to meet so we could actually start the process to review that bill—until this happened. I don’t know whether they knew that this would be the final outcome. We tried three times, and once we had them all together—and they said they were not comfortable to hold the meeting.
The other thing I was really taken by was the comments from the Minister of the Environment when he says that there’s somehow a difference between ringing the bells if you’re in a minority or a majority government. There is absolutely nothing in—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Minister of Education.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: —which way or the other.
I would just point out that the minority government was predicated on that the voice of the whole Legislature should count for something. When the whole Legislature voted in favour of having a select committee to get to the bottom of the mess at Ornge, the House voted in favour of that, the minister said she would adhere to that, but when the time came, Mr. Speaker, she did not adhere to that. She decided to just leave it sit there, that it was not important what the majority of the House said—and that’s where the difference is between majority and minority. The majority of the House said we should have a select committee, and the government refused to have a select committee.
This has nothing to do with the bills we are debating. The bell-ringing is to get a select committee on Ornge to get to the bottom of the mess that’s there. If the government would just have that select committee, we could move forward and get these bills passed, and we could get these things into legislation to help the children and prevent—
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Thank you. Further debate?
Mr. Steve Clark: I’m very pleased to join in the debate today to speak about Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, 2012. I want to say to some of my colleagues here in the opposition benches how impressed I am with some of the debate that I’ve seen from them so far.
As a parent, I’ve been touched by some incredibly moving and deeply personal stories and truly heartfelt comments that we’ve heard, not just from some of our members but members from all sides. I think it’s clear that bullying is an issue that we all agree needs to be addressed in our schools and, I think it’s important to stress, in society as well.
I, too, have heard from many of my constituents, one even this afternoon, on this issue, and I’m looking for a common theme from their emails, their letters and their phone calls. I think one theme stands out: What my constituents are telling me is that we need a comprehensive approach to the problem of bullying. They know—and I think, deep down, we all do—that there’s no magic bullet. We’re not going to pass Bill 13 and be able to say “Mission accomplished; problem solved,” because I think we all know it’s a complex issue. I think we all agree, at least we do here, that we need a comprehensive solution. Certainly, that’s the approach that the PC caucus have taken right from the start of this issue. That’s why I want to acknowledge the tremendous work of the former member from Kitchener–Waterloo and also the terrific advocacy our education critic, the member for Nepean–Carleton, has done on the subject.
I had the opportunity to take a look at the very passionate comments that the member for Nepean–Carleton made with her leadoff remarks on March 26. I actually want to quote from some of her comments that day, because I think her comments speak to the very heart of why our caucus is simply unable to support Bill 13. I’ll quote from the member of Nepean–Carleton right now, Speaker, with your indulgence:
“I think we can do better. We must remember why we are here: to make Ontario a better place for all Ontarians—not just some, but all; not just the strong, but also the weak; not just the straight, but also the gay; not just the thin, but also the smart; not just the weak in learning abilities, but also those people who are working hard; not just for the overweight; not just for the learning-disabled. We have to protect all Ontarians, regardless of why they’re being bullied. That is our job. That is why we were sent here. We cannot continue to have any more of these problems in our schools. That is the issue.”
Recently, in the town of Gananoque in my riding, Trustee John McAllister of the Upper Canada District School Board hosted a forum on bullying. More than 60 parents were in attendance, and I want to publicly commend Trustee McAllister for organizing this opportunity for people to come and express their views on the subject.
One of his messages that night to parents was to stress that school boards and schools are addressing the issue, and certainly I want to say that I believe that it’s now taken more seriously than it ever was, certainly if you look back on how it was treated when I was a student many, many years ago.
I think some of the ideas that our Ontario PC caucus have put forward on bullying would be a giant step forward in helping school boards do an even better job. I think it’s appropriate, Speaker, for me to talk about some of the flaws that I, and some of my colleagues, see in Bill 13.
Our definition—I’m using our definition in referencing the former bill from the member from Kitchener–Waterloo—of bullying would be more thorough, because we focus on what constitutes bullying and how it affects the victim. The Liberal bill, Bill 13, is a bit preoccupied with the reason for bullying, whether it’s gender, religion or race, and doesn’t place enough emphasis on the form or outcome of bullying. Bill 13’s definition, the Liberal definition, focuses on the perceived power imbalance based on the aforementioned individual factors. Our definition doesn’t require specifically stating what the individual factors are, since it is designed and written to include all conceivable reasons one may be bullied.
The PC definition includes the impact that bullying has on the school environment, the education process and the victim’s emotional well-being. Our definition is longer, it’s more detailed and it’s more comprehensive.
As a number of my colleagues have stated in debate today and on other days, we include a section entirely devoted to the issue of cyberbullying. I know it’s an issue in my riding. I can speak to the Brockville Police Service that spent a great deal of time in the past couple of years trying to educate parents on the issue of cyberbullying, because we know that with today’s technology bullying doesn’t stop when the final bell rings at the end of the school day. The inclusion of cyberbullying is critical due to the increasing prevalence of Internet-based bullying. I think we all know, Speaker, that the Internet allows perpetrators to relentlessly bully and harass their victims 24 hours a day, often anonymously.
Again, I know that there have been a number of heckles that we’ve seen from the other side on some of the reasons why we rang the bells. Again, I want to differentiate, Speaker, if I might, why we’re raising issues in this Legislature. As I said in my lead question today in question period, we have a real issue with the way this government handled and is continuing to handle the scandal behind Ornge. For that reason, and that reason alone, Speaker, I move adjournment of the debate.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? I heard some noes.
All those in favour will say “aye.”
And all opposed, “nay.”
The nays have it—it’ll be a 30-minute bell. Call in the members.
The division bells rang from 1736 to 1806.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): Members, take your seats.
Mr. Clark has moved adjournment of the debate.
All in favour will please stand and be counted by the Clerk.
The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 49; the nays are 0.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): The motion carries.
Second reading debate adjourned.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Paul Miller): It being after 6 o’clock, this House stands adjourned until 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.