April 29, 1991                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 38

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Development.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, this is my first report since Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation was officially opened on January 1, of this year.

This initial report covers the two-month period of January and February, 59 days; however, I intend to, in the future to report on the activities of Enterprise Corporation to the House on a monthly basis, and when the House is not in sessions, through the media and to the people of the Province.

Through our five regional offices and seventeen field offices, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador has provided a one-stop centre for business information, assistance and support to all segments of the economic development community of our Province.

The business support services which the corporation brings to the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador include: a business resource library, specialists in various fields, marketing and engineering assistance, as well as financial assistance in the form of loans.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, this Government signed the ACOA/Enterprise Network Agreement with the Government of Canada, which will utilize the most up-to-date computer telecommunications facilities to link all of these offices.

This Electronic Highway, called the ACOA/Enterprise Network, will enable users to hook into databases and retrieve information on business opportunities or to quickly get information on any type of business through the Corporation's business resource centre. These databases will now be available to all of rural and isolated communities throughout our Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have begun the job of economic renewal; we are assisting the start up of new businesses, we are assisting in the stabilization and expansion of existing businesses and we are providing business capital to lever private sector investments; we are doing this, Mr. Speaker, despite the recessionary environment in which we find ourselves.

The volume of inquiries coming in to the Enterprise Corporation, is an indication that our initiatives are stimulating great interest in the private sector. From January 1 to February 28, of this year, the Enterprise Corporation responded to 2,128 inquiries pertaining to business development right across the Province.

In this short time, the fifty-nine days that we have been in existence, the Avalon Regional Office has received 457 inquiries from businesses; The Eastern Office, 244 inquiries; The Central Regional Office, 363 inquiries; The Western Office, 656 inquiries and the Labrador Office, 480 inquiries. You can see, Mr. Speaker, that decentralizing our business services was the right course to follow.

Term loans, equity and interim financing and venture capital from the Corporation have leveraged ACOA grants, bank loans and private investment. During this fifty-nine day period, a total of $4.5 million has been approved to assist sixty-five companies right across the Province.

With the disbursement of these loans over the next two to three months, we will have helped to create 155 new jobs and maintain 338 jobs which would have been at risk without our assistance. Mr. Speaker, this assistance is being provided throughout the Province and the nearly 500 jobs involved with these loan approvals are located in all regions of the Province.

In the Avalon Region $497,693 has been approved to assist eleven companies and will create eight new jobs and maintain another seventy eight. In the Eastern Region $74,300 was approved to assist three companies, it will create twelve new jobs. In the Central Region $246,277 was approved and will assist seventeen companies, and will create twenty-seven new jobs and maintain another twenty-nine. In the Western Region $832,664 has been approved to assist twenty companies, will create fifty new jobs and maintain an additional seventy-one. In the Labrador Region $168,000 has been approved, will assist five companies, creating nine jobs and maintaining a further sixteen. Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporate Office has also approved $2.6 million in loans to nine companies which will create forty-nine new jobs and maintain 144 others.

Mr. Speaker, these companies are involved in almost every sector right across the Newfoundland economy. Individual projects have ranged from engineering and consulting services to improving the production and quality of fish products from computerized geophysical plotting services for mineral exploration to the establishment of a quality manufacturing and sewing shop in Gander. From the provision of capital for a restaurant in Labrador City to a big game hunting camp for Dashwood's Lake; from construction of a fiberglas boat building and shop equipment centre in Hatchet Cove to an adventure tourism package in Gros Morne National Park.

Mr. Speaker, these business ventures that we have assisted are just a few of the many that I could list. The positive results of the services provided by Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador are laying a strong foundation for creating new enterprises, more jobs and a greater confidence and pride in Newfoundland and Labrador in every region of our Province.

The success of the first two months confirms the wisdom of our decision to consolidate our many business services and to establish these regional offices throughout the Province. The entire Province now benefits from these services, Mr. Speaker, and I am confident that Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador will play a key role in our Province's economic revitalization in the months and years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, we have done very well. I am happy to table this first of the two month reports. I will table the March report in the next week or so and I will continue to table updates on what is happening at Enterprise in the House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all let me say to the Minister, thank you, very much for a copy of your statement outlining the funding that has been spent today in the name of economic renewal. Let me also say to the Minister that while we have been critical of the efforts of the Economic Recovery Commission so far, and I believe justifiably so critical of the Economic Recovery Commission and its efforts to date to stimulate the economy, let me say to the Minister that if the Economic Recovery Commission fulfils its mandate, or even creates one job that would not have otherwise been created by the various funding agencies within Government, then the Minister can rest assured, and the Government can rest assured, that they will get appropriate credit for having done so. Now, the Minister says that Government has begun the process of economic renewal. Well, let me say to the Minister, the Premier, and to this Government, that we see very little evidence to date to indicate that the Government has begun the process of economic renewal.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is just the opposite.

MR. DOYLE: Yes, it is just the opposite as a matter of fact, when one considers that when this Government took office back two years ago the unemployment rate in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador was 17.5 per cent and now to date it is up to 23.5 per cent with an Economic Recovery Commission that has been in place, in existence, for a little bit over two years. We see very little evidence to date, Mr. Speaker, that could indicate that the Economic Recovery Commission has done anything to stimulate the economy in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We see as well the Minister stating today that $4.5 million has been disbursed between January and February and they have assisted sixty-five companies and helped - that is a very interesting word which was always absent from previous statements - they have helped to create 155 jobs. I am glad that the Minister has said 'helped' because we are hearing that the Federal Government and ACOA are a little bit ticked off with the Minister and the Government in that they have conveniently failed to mention the other funding agencies that have assisted the Economic Recovery Commission in creating some of these jobs. I do not mean to intentionally minimize any efforts of the Economic Recovery Commission but again let me say that there is absolutely no evidence in this statement either that would indicate that the Economic Recovery Commission is in any way starting to fulfil its mandate or that they have created jobs that would not have otherwise been created by the Newfoundland and Labrador Development Corporation, the development section of Rural, Agricultural and Northern Development or, for that matter, the Department of Fisheries or other funding agencies of Government. We see absolutely no evidence to indicate that these jobs would not have been created by these funding agencies if the Economic Recovery Commission were not there. The Minister will have to forgive me for being a little bit sceptical, but the Premier stated a few weeks ago that the Economic Recovery Commission had created 1,565 new jobs that would not have been created by any other agency of Government and, when we examine the facts, Mr. Speaker, we find that ACOA had, indeed, been one of the major funding agencies involved with the Economic Recovery Commission.

MS. COWAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: That is not what you said. You said you did it all.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier had told us that the Economic Recovery Commission was totally, completely responsible for the creation of these jobs.

MR. SIMMS: Exactly, that is what you said.

MR. DOYLE: When we examined the figures, Mr. Speaker, we find that the Economic Recovery Commission, while they had some involvement, were trying to take full claim and full credit for the jobs that have been created.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

Are there further Statements by Ministers?

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have a statement today. My apologies to my critic, who I do not believe got a copy ahead of time, or if he did, it was rather late. My apologies for that.

I would like to comment today on the unfortunate comments regarding the circumstances surrounding my attendance yesterday at a wreath laying ceremony on the day of observance for workers killed, injured or disabled on the job. I hope it did not take away, at all, from the importance of this occasion. However, my invitation clearly read 2:30, and it is very disturbing that some individuals would choose, Mr. Speaker, to play politics on such a sad and important occasion.

I will be tabling, with my Statement today, the letter to the Premier, received by his office, asking him or his designate to attend at 2:30 on Sunday.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight for this hon. House that yesterday, April 28th, I attended and laid a wreath, on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, at the Ocean Ranger Memorial, honouring a Day of Observance for workers who have died, been injured or disabled on the job. As well, an Assistant Deputy Minister of my Department laid a wreath on behalf of the Occupational Health and Safety Branch.

The Canadian Labour Congress has observed April 28th for the past several years as a day to draw attention to the sacrifice which many of our workers have had to pay in order to earn a living for themselves and their families.

As Minister with responsibility for occupational health and safety, I am very conscious that effective occupational health and safety standards, as well as enforcement, is essential in ensuring that every worker is afforded an opportunity to work in a safe, hazard free environment. It is very important to understand that the pain and suffering is not only limited to the employee, rather, it is also extended to their families, co-workers and friends.

My Department is committed to taking proactive approaches with respect to occupational health and safety prevention in the workplace. We are committed, in this proactive approach, to deal with the prevention of accidents in the workplace rather than being involved after the deed is done. In order to ensure our success, it means that my Department has to and will work along with those employees and employers in the workforce. Only when this approach is adopted and accepted by all three involved will we be able to greatly reduce accidents in the workplace.

We are looking forward, Mr. Speaker, to a very successful year in collectively dealing with these issues.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did not get a copy of the Minister's Statement until just now, so it is difficult to respond in any detail to what the Minister had to say. I am very pleased that the Minister laid a wreath on behalf of the Government over the weekend to mark this very, very sad event which happened many years ago and, of course, I understand that my colleague the Member for St. John's East Extern laid one on behalf of the Opposition.

Let me say to the Minister that I agree that Health and Safety Week generally draws attention to the importance of health and safety in the Province and in the workplace. I do not believe there is any section in the Minister's Department that is more important than the health and safety sector of her Department. However, I am a little bit disturbed, I have to say to the Minister, quite frankly, by some of the comments I have seen in the paper over the weekend by one Martin Saunders, a staff representative of the Canadian Labour Congress who makes the point that essentially the Provincial safety inspectors fear getting fired if they say too many negative things about companies or what have you. And I think that is a very, very frightening statement for anyone to make, and I would hope that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations will take it upon herself to investigate that particular complaint that the Canadian Labour Congress has made. I understand these statements were made at a hearing of the Workers' Compensation Commission.

I would also say to the Minister that she has within her Department some of the best, if not the best legislation in all of Canada, in the health and safety area. She has the best legislation in all of Canada. But I believe the Canadian Labour Congress are making the point that the legislation is no good if it is not enforced or if the Minister's Department does not get on the ball and give some teeth to her health and safety inspectors, because if that statement is true: that there is a problem within the Department of the safety inspectors in not being able to do their job properly because they fear the Government, then the Minister has a very, very serious situation on her hands. I believe the point was made as well at that conference, at that hearing, that it might be a good idea for the Minister to put in place a yearly conference to be held each year to discuss matters related to health and safety. Mr. Speaker, as I said, I have not had a chance to look over the Minister's statement but will probably be responding in more detail later.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: I wonder if I could have the unanimous consent of the House to respond briefly to the statement?



Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Mines and Energy. I want to say to the Minister that just recently he was quoted in the Evening Telegram as having said to the Telegram editorial board, I believe it was, that in order to see power from the Lower Churchill by the end of the decade, and this is the Minister's quote: that we need to start construction around 1994 or 1995 and that can be done if we reach agreement in principle in 1991. Now, I want to first of all ask the Minister whether or not that is a correct statement and whether or not that statement is still accurate today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have not been talking to the editorial board of the Evening Telegram. I have read the editorial that was in the weekend edition as well and it did show some confusion and lack of understanding and knowledge of the situation. In order to have first power by the year 2000 we need about a five to six year construction period on the Gull Island Project which would be the one that would go first and get first power, so you would need to start construction about 1995 to get that first power by the year 2000. Muskrat Falls is the second part of that project and it would be phased to conclude about three years later. There are some other smaller components that could be added on later so you are looking at a total construction period of about eight years, maybe ten years, depending on the smaller components to come later. With construction required by 1995 you will get first power

sometime in the year 2000.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition on a supplementary.

MR. RIDEOUT: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister has been, I think, forthcoming in his answer and has confirmed, that, in order to have first power by the year 2000, construction must get underway in 1994/1995, but the other part of the question was this: The Telegram is alleging that the Minister said to the Telegram, either to the editorial board or in an interview, I do not know, the Minister can comment on that, but the Minister is alleged to have said that, for that to happen, construction must begin in 1994/1995, but, in order for that to happen, we must have an agreement in principle in 1991, is that still the case?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is true, because we would need about a three-year period, three to four-year period, but particularly a three-year period to complete the environmental assessment process that is required for this project; it would have to be done Federally and Provincially and probably jointly, as was done in the past and also the detailed engineering work that would have to be done.

As I would see it now, if we could be fortunate enough, and I can never be sure that we would be, to get an agreement in principle this year, and for everything else to fall in place, then, we could start the detailed engineering work and the detailed environmental work and have it completed in time for first contracts to be called by the end of 1994 for first construction in 1995, but that is what is required in the period between now and then.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, on a supplementary.

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Minister. The Minister has confirmed now that in order to have construction started in 1994 and 1995, there would have to be an agreement in principle in 1991. Now, let me ask the Minister this, Mr. Speaker:

The Minister is aware, no doubt, having read the article to which I am referring, that the Investment Dealers Association of Canada, is quoting Quebec Hydro as saying that they have no interest in allowing or participating in any start up construction on the Lower Churchill until after the completion of the Great Whale Project in Quebec, which is not scheduled to be completed until 1998. Now therefore, the question obviously to the Minister is, how does the Minister square that statement from Quebec Hydro with the statement that he has now confirmed to this House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member, Mr. Speaker, is not quite straight on the facts of what is in that article. Really, they are not saying first construction of the Churchill, they are saying power from the Churchill would come after power from the Great Whale.

The Great Whale would have to be under construction now with first power by 1998 and, the Lower Churchill would have to be under construction by about 1995 to have first power by around the year 2000 and, the third major project that was talked about was the NBR Project in James Bay, which would have first power, I believe by 2005 or thereabouts.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the hon. Minister of Mines and Energy could bring the House up to date, very briefly, on the status of the negotiations with Quebec.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Negotiations are continuing; there have been twenty meetings to date and there is another one scheduled for the near future and every time there is a meeting, meetings get tacked on to the end, and I cannot suppose what might happen in the next one, but there is another meeting scheduled that has not yet been held.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the Minister would indicate if the meetings recently or the ones to come, are at the Ministerial or First Ministerial level?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the meetings are between the negotiating teams and are not at the political level. It is the negotiating team for Newfoundland and a negotiating team for Quebec.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, on a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: Is the Minister concerned, that given the fall out from the Constitutional crisis in this nation, and the role played by the First Minister of this Province, that there might not be real negotiations underway, that there is a pall over these negotiations, once it is necessary to get to the political level?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: From day one, Mr. Speaker, these discussions have been based on a commercial basis for the power and will continue to be based on a commercial basis for the power.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEWLETT: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, in the hydro registration document under The Environment Act it is stated that Federal funding is required for this particular project. Could the Minister indicate if a proposal has been made to the Federal Government in this regard, and what sort of response he has gotten from the Feds?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to go into the details of the financing aspect in our consultation with the Federal Government at this time. I do not think it is appropriate to discuss that at this time. But I will keep the House informed as we do proceed on the matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister a further supplementary on the same subject. The Minister just left I think the impression with the House, as a result of my questions, that it was first power that he was talking about. But let me quote from Hydro Quebec for the Minister: Hydro Quebec had scheduled a project - that is the Lower Churchill project - to commence after the completion of the Great Whale Development, which is 1998. Now how does the Minister square that with what appears to be the official position of the Province - it says commence after?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of those particular words, but I think right there you have to read the word 'commence' in terms of when power would be available, not when construction would start. And it would be phased based on when the power would be needed.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I also have a question for the Minister of Mines and Energy. Can the Minister tell this House what plans he has to ensure that the Province's needs for electricity are to be met, in particular if the Lower Churchill is delayed for another four years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, for the near term Hydro is presently assessing the decision it will have to make for what we need for this Province between now and the year 2000. At this time our options are quite limited. We have three small sites in the Bay d'Espoir watershed, two of which have gone partly through the environmental process and nearing completion, and one which has not yet gone through the process. We have a number of other sites around the Province for relatively small hydro but there are no major hydro sites left on the Island of Newfoundland. The other option on the Island at this time that Hydro is considering is Unit No. 4 at Holyrood.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, can the Minister confirm that without access to Labrador power, electricity rates in this Province will exceed the Canadian average by 35 per cent to 40 per cent by the year 2000?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: I cannot confirm those numbers, Mr. Speaker. I am not really familiar with those numbers. But if we do not have access to a significant source of power beyond the year 2000 I do not really know at this time what our options are going to be, because the small hydro that is left and the other options for us are more thermo generation like Holyrood, and to consider other possibilities. But I do not really know at this time what the rate options may be.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to note to the Minister that those numbers are quoted in a registration for environmental assessment by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. So those numbers are what Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro are giving out.

Mr. Speaker, when will there have to be a commitment made to put another oil generator at Holyrood in order to keep up with the needs, if we do not access power to Churchill?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, based on our present usage and our present load growth in electricity for the Island, we are okay until about 1995-96. Hydro must make a decision this year, 1991, to have extra power available at that time, 1995-96. So sometime this year it will decide whether that is going to be Holyrood No. 4 or some of the small hydros that I mentioned. The assessment is being done now. These particular items would keep us going maybe to the year 2000, and by that time our load growth would have caught up with us again and we would have to be, within the next four years, looking at other options by 1995 - 1996, certainly seriously looking at other options for beyond the year 2000.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, a final supplementary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wonder would the Minister confirm or would he let this House know and the people of the Province know if he has given recent consideration to nuclear generation over the last while, in case Churchill Falls is not on stream in time?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is no. I have given no consideration at all to nuclear generation and personally would hope that I would never, ever have to.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MS. VERGE: Humber East, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Humber East, I am sorry.

MS. VERGE: Thank you.

I have a question for the Premier. Does the Premier approve of the comment of his Treasury Board President, quoted in The Sunday Express, to the effect that if the public service union's legal challenge to Bill 16, the Government's rollback legislation, is successful and the legislation is struck down, the Government absolutely will lay off a massive number of public employees?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know precisely what the President of Treasury Board said on that occasion. I saw what was attributed to him in the media. I can only say that if that were to occur - and frankly, I cannot foresee it occurring because I do not think there is any legal basis for the challenge - but they are perfectly at liberty, of course, to pursue it if they wish, and I am not concerned about it because I do not expect it to occur, but it is remotely possible. Should that eventuality occur, we would have to consider bringing in a mini-budget, and that budget would decide what course we would follow in terms of providing for the financing of the Province. If there were something wrong, legally, with anything we did and we had to correct it, we would have to find the means of doing it; and the means of doing it would be one, or two or three possibilities; raising more taxes, trying to borrow more money if we could, laying off more people if we had to, or find some other course that might be available. I do not know; that is a decision the Government would have to take at the time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I suggest that the Premier check on the accuracy of The Sunday Express story and when he finds that The Sunday Express quoted the President of Treasury Board accurately, to the effect that should the court strike down Bill 16, the Government absolutely will lay off a massive number of public employees, that the Premier instruct his President of Treasury Board to retract those statements.

I would like to ask the Premier whether, in his opinion, as a lawyer, such threats by a senior Government Minister constitute improper interference in legal proceedings?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Your Honour will forgive me if I do not answer all the questions, I have forgotten some of them. To try to reconstruct the comments the hon. Member made, I can only say to you, Mr. Speaker, that if we were faced with the problem at the time we were preparing the last Budget, or right now, knowing what we know now in terms of the financial markets, the economic situation in the country, not alone in the Province, and the Province's overall situation, if we were faced with it right now, frankly, I do not believe we would have any alternative but to lay off more people. I believe that is the only practical alternative that would be available to us. That is the best judgement I can give the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am hesitant to even give this credibility, because I say to the House, I do not think there is a snowball's chance in you know what, that it could happen. I do not believe that it can be upset legally, because the approach has been taken by other governments in a variety of other places. So I am hesitant to be discussing this for fear of giving the proposition credibility when it really has none and should not have any. However, whatever occurs, if anything occurs at any time, we will have to deal with it in the light of the circumstances, including the financial circumstances that are prevailing at the time it occurs, if, as and when it might occur, if it does occur.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is not the Premier and is not the President of Treasury Board showing contempt for the law and the Constitution by making statements such as the Premier just made and such as the President of Treasury Board made to The Sunday Express?

MR. DOYLE: Yes, of course he is.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know where the Member is coming from, `showing contempt for the Constitution'. I say to the member and to the House, no, I have no contempt for the Constitution. I have nothing but high regard and respect for the Constitution, as I believe most people in this Province and this country would readily agree. However, the member either has a particular interpretation of the Constitution, to which she is entitled, I am certainly entitled to hold a contrary view, and if what she is putting forward is her interpretation, I think she is dead wrong. There is a remote possiblity she may be right, but I think it is so remote that it is not worth considering - but she is entitled to that. Now, the mere fact that I hold a different view as to how the Constitution would be interpreted by the courts surely heavens does not mean contempt for the Constitution. Does the hon. Member really know what she is saying?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to go to the President of Treasury Board who is at the centre of this latest controversy, this latest scandal. The weekend press does quote him, as he knows, as saying: Government is absolutely prepared to begin large scale lay offs of another 3500 public servants if the court action challenging Bill 16 is successful. Now, that is what is being quoted in the press. Now, the Premier has just said he hesitates to comment on it even, because of giving it some credibility. Can I ask the President of Treasury Board this question: why then did the Minister comment or make such a statement, and what purpose is served by making such a provocative statement? Is it not the truth that once again the Government is trying to intimidate? Is that not the reason?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I did not go out and make a statement. I did an interview with a reporter from the Sunday Express who was asking me some questions on some other issues and finally at the end he asked the question concerning the number of layoffs, the court challenge, and so on, and the effect of - if we had to now reverse ourselves. If we were now forced to reverse ourselves and my answer was quite simple - we cannot manufacture money. We did not do this because it was a choice. We did this because we felt we had to do it, that we cannot manufacture money, and that we cannot go out and borrow more money at this point in time in the market, so the answer is obvious. The way we have been explaining it in terms of the pay equity, the $24 million there, and in the case of the other amounts in terms of the pay freeze we have been talking in terms of $30 million, meaning 1000 job on the average in the public service, and for every $30 million we are forced to spend then that in essence means 1000 jobs because that is how we spend our money in providing service to the people. If we were forced today to come up with another $30 million that would mean lay off of 1000 people. It is as simple as that. That is the only way I can equate it. That was the discussion and I do not apologize for any such discussion. I do not know what the economic circumstance is going to be like two years down the road. If two years down the road there was a resolution of a court case then who knows what the situation will be, but right now, today, if we had to come up with that extra money it would mean a cutback in services in this Province certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: This is precisely the reason for the questioning because the impression he gave is that clearly - and maybe he can address this - the impression that was given by that press story and now being repeated not only in this chamber but in other places this morning, for example, was that there would be massive lay offs if the court ruled against Bill 16. Well, everybody knows that this kind of a court procedure would probably take two to three years so it is rather silly to suggest that two or three years from now he would be laying off 3500 employees. That is what is being perceived and that is why we are asking the question. Will he once again tell the House now that he should not have opened his mouth on it, all he did was cause more trouble and more confusion, and would he retract it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I will not retract what I said. Obviously, if the question had been, three or four years down the road what would you do if something happened, my answer would have been different. There is no doubt about that. But the reality of the situation right now is that we cannot manufacture money, we do not have this big supply of money that we can draw on, and we have to do what we have done in order to protect the integrity, the fiscal and financial integrity of this Province and we make no apologies for doing what we have done and what we had to do.

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a final supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, there may be something behind this after all. The Government House Leader would remember that Members on this side of the House made some sensible suggestions during the course of debate that this Bill be referred to the courts before implementation, and they refused to do that. Is the Government now, I wonder, somehow worried that maybe Bill 16 will not stand up to the test of court scrutiny? Is that perhaps one of the reasons? Is it not a fact that the real reason and the real purpose of his statements this weekend was really to try and frighten, intimidate and bully public employees in this Province in an effort to try to get them to convince their union leaders to back off on their court action? Is that not what is really happening?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are a number of questions there. The first one: no, we have no doubts about the validity and the legality of Bill 16. The second question: no, I did not go to the press and make a statement designed to do anything - I was simply honestly and truthfully answering a question asked to me by the press. And the third comment, Mr. Speaker, the question had to do with the tremendous wonderful, marvellous suggestions that Members opposite have been making about the courses of action and the only suggestion and the one he mentions is that we put the whole thing off. We go to the courts. We take a year or two or whatever to go to the courts to sit on our hands for a year and let this Province go bankrupt. No - you might have done that. We are not going to do it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) Union bashing.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier. It has taken the Government forty-five days to produce the Budget estimates which report the salary details for the various civil servants and the salary details are always, as the Premier knows, released with the Budget, but they were held back this year because the Government said that they did not have time to compile the list. Now let me ask the Premier: is it not true that the salary details were excluded from the Budget document because the salary details revealed wage increases for political staff and senior executives which could not be defended in the Budget that laid off 3,500 public servants and rolled back wages of another 35,000?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: A good question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there are no increases provided for in the Budget for any senior public servants.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: The increases took place last year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sure they did.

PREMIER WELLS: That is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: As they did for everybody.

PREMIER WELLS: As they did for everybody and we had to provide for the increased amount in this coming fiscal year. Now that is where the increase was. But the increase came about subsequent, and the adjustments came about subsequent to last year's Estimates. Now the hon. Members opposite want to try and concoct something, because they cannot find anything of merit. Mr. Speaker, the reason why the details were not tabled at the time the Estimates as a whole were tabled is because of the substantial changeover in the public service, due to that we needed time to figure out what the numbers would be in each of the individual Departments and Divisions.

Now so far as I know that it is the explanation. I did not do these estimates myself. I did not know what they were going to contain in any kind of detail. But the President of Treasury Board assures me that is the explanation. I can assure this House, Mr. Speaker, that I accept without question his explanation of it and reject totally the concoction put forward by the opposite side.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Let me say to the Premier his response is quite predictable. In other words, he looked after his political staff and his political buddies before the Estimates were released.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. Member is on a supplementary.

MR. DOYLE: Let me ask the Premier what does he think the response to his Budget would have been had the unions and the public employees known about these increases in salaries for the political and executive staff? He knew full well that there would be little tolerance for his restraint program. Was not his decision to withhold the documents, a damage control decision, to avoid any immediate outrage from public employees and the public generally?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that there is no increase. There is no increase, there is no increase, there is no increase in this coming year from what they were paid in the last year. The last increase took place at the end of the year and it came into effect on 1 January, a 2 per cent increase for the senior executive level of the public service, a 2 per cent increase on January 1. All of the other increases occurred last year. And some parts of it were adjustment because of reclassification and so on. Now that is it, Mr. Speaker.

Now the Members opposite can go so far as to get down on their knees and pray.- it will not change the character of it. It is what it is and I have nothing to be concerned about. The increase is exactly what -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - took place last year.

Now the second part of the hon. Member's question, Mr. Speaker, was as for payment in providing for increases for political staff. It is not an increase for political staff, and I have to tell the House again, Mr. Speaker, that the amount paid to run the Premier's Office has gone down each year since the Government -


PREMIER WELLS: It has gone down. Not only down in -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have to remind hon. Members that Question Period is not the time for debate. I ask hon. Members to please afford the courtesy that ought to be afforded in Question Period. It is not a period of debate and we are not suppose to have interruptions.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I will give them the precise figures. The amount budgeted in 1989-90 was $1,388,900 and the amount budgeted in the estimates 1990-91 was $1,169,800, and the amount budgeted in the current estimates is $1,145,700, now that is $300,000 or $400,000 less.

MR. SIMMS: What was budgeted last year?

PREMIER WELLS: In this current Budget?

MR. SIMMS: No, in the 1990 one.

PREMIER WELLS: The amount budgeted in 1990-91 was $1,169,800.

MR. SIMMS: What was the revised?

PREMIER WELLS: I will get the revised.

The amount budgeted in each year has been less. Mr. Speaker, I will also dig out the amount budgeted in the year 1988-89 and provide that as well. Mr. Speaker, I intend now to dig out and make known to the House the full details of the operations of the Premier's office prior to our coming to office, and demonstrate for the people of this Province the terrific financial managers that we are.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and it concerns the disposal of the septic waste from areas around St. John's and the Robin Hood Bay dump. The Minister knows that this dump will be refusing to accept, according to the City of St. John's, septic wastes by June 30. Would the Minister consider trying to negotiate a delay of that deadline of June 30 in order to find time to undertake what might be a unique demonstration project to allow private industry to develop an alternative more environmentally sound disposal of the septic waste rather than develop another landfill site and further destroy the environment?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I explained in the House last week, in an answer to a similar question, the Minister of Environment and Lands is presently looking at the problem with septic waste disposal and he is probably better able to answer this particular question. I can say from the municipalities' standpoint that we will co-operate as much as we can in an attempt to get the municipalities who have this particular problem, and really most of them in the Northeast Avalon do, to work with the Environment Department and work with the City of St. John's to see if we cannot in fact, extend the deadline, if that is necessary, to beyond June 30. I am sure the Minister of Environment and Lands would also explain that we are looking at whatever alternate methods are available as well as using landfill.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, for the information of all members, I would like to table the 1990 report of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As Minister responsible for the Office of the Legislative Council, pursuant to Section 18 of The Statutes And Subordinate Legislation Act, I am required to lay before the House of Assembly, a copy of the subordinate legislation filed under that Act. Accordingly, I table the editions of The Newfoundland Gazette, published between April 20, 1990 and April 19, 1991.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Co-operative Societies Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly oppose the Provincial Government policy of reducing funding for municipalities and shifting costly responsibility to municipalities, thereby squeezing municipalities at both ends and forcing them to increase municipal taxes and reduce public service.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition signed by sixty-one residents of Jackson's Cove in my District of Green Bay.

The prayer of the petition is simply: The undersigned petition the House of Assembly to finish paving the road to the Harry's Harbour-Jackson's Cove area.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that I have raised this particular matter in the House. For three springs in a row, this particular road has gone without being finished.

When the Wells Administration took office, the road to the Harry's Harbour-Jackson's Cove area was completely rebuilt and about two-thirds paved. In the intervening two or three years, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, most of the top grade on that particular road has now ended up in the ditch insofar as traffic has put it there, and the road, if and when pavement ever does come again to that particular area of the world, will need substantial upgrading on the surface of the road.

There are many roads, Mr. Speaker, in Green Bay, not paved. When I first raised the issue of this particular road three springs ago, the hon. Minister responsible for Transportation got up and basically laughed at me and said that all roads in Green Bay were paved, so why would I ask him for pavement?

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the District of Green Bay had the son of a former Premier as a member for a good many years, and all he had to do was put his name on a ballot paper and he automatically got elected. As a result, Green Bay did not enter the twentieth century, really, in a lot of respects of public services until such time as Brian Peckford was elected in 1972. From the Smallwood Administration, two small strips of pavement were laid in Green Bay, one around the community of King's Point during the desperation times in 1971-1972 and one in the mid-sixties from the Trans-Canada Highway into the largest community, Springdale.

This road to Harry's Harbour-Jackson's Cove has been shamefully neglected three years in a row, Mr. Speaker. The people sent in a petition. Last year, they decided, upon the advice of the Liberal District President at the time, to take the petition quietly to the hon. the Minister of Transportation so as, I guess, to not give air to their grievance in this particular forum, where the press or public are present, and that brought about absolutely no results except embarrassment for the President of the local Liberal Association.

This year, Mr. Speaker, some residents have seen fit to send a petition to me, their Member, and asked that I present it on the floor of the House, so that their grievance of three springs in a row can be brought forward. Since this administration has come to power, Mr. Speaker, one bridge has been replaced in Green Bay and that is it in terms of transportation infrastructure and, as I indicated in petitions earlier last week, the ferry services in the district are due to be downgraded and we are awaiting the Minister's decision on that.

Mr. Speaker, I support the prayer of the petition of these people from the Harry's Harbour-Jackson's Cove area, and I ask that the Minister believe that there are many gravel roads in Green Bay and this one, in particular - it is really a shame - was newly constructed as a gravel highway, partly paved, and now, if and when pavement does come, considerable reconstruction will have to take place, as well. That is not a wise expenditure of public funds, and this year, Mr. Speaker, we saw 95 per cent of the road work in the Province going to Liberal districts, totally counter to the Premier's fairness and balance proposals that he put before the people. The people of the community of Jackson's Cove, in particular, I guess, took the Premier at his word, because, by a slim majority, they did vote Liberal. The hon. the Minister of Social Services indicates that this Government would not discriminate against Liberals but, in this particular case, with regard to this particular community, for three years in a row, not even the Liberals in Green Bay have seen the meaning of fairness and balance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise in my place today to support the petition so ably presented by my colleague the Member for Green Bay, and as the Member pointed out, through negligence, or I guess through political negligence at least, by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and certainly by the Minister in Government whom we have today, it will now cost more - if ever - to get the road in the Harry's Harbour - Jackson's Arm area up to the reasonable standard which people might expect in the 1990s going into the year 2000. It does not seem to be unreasonable for people to expect that if a road was upgraded to a standard that was ready for pavement, that within the next year or so before all of that road completely deteriorated, it would make sense for a Government to complete the job that was started some years ago.

Now, Mr. Speaker, by ignoring the wishes of the people from this area, what the Government has now done - I mean the road will eventually have to be upgraded again now and the road will, undoubtedly, eventually be paved if our Province is to progress in any way at all - but what the Government has done now, is decided to waste a considerable amount of money that had been spent on the road in the past to upgrade it, and what will happen now, it will cost them more in the future to complete a job that could have been done for a reasonable price last year or this year or even a couple of years ago.

I believe it is obvious to see why it has not been done, I mean the road happens to fall in a Progressive Conservative district and even though we had $25.5 million expended on provincial roads this year, I believe, we have sixty-eight projects and of that sixty-eight, I believe all, except five or six I believe it was, went to Liberal districts, so it is not unusual to see that the people in the Harry's Harbour - Jackson's Arm area would be petitioning this House of Assembly, as I would imagine they have done in the past year or two since they have the new Member, and I guess we will see it in the next year or so before they will get a chance to see their dreams fulfilled in getting a reasonably upgraded standard of road in their area.

Mr. Speaker, the old excuse that the Minister is using, that the reason all of the projects this year went to Liberal districts is because they were ignored for so long in the past, does not hold water, when you see that forty-nine out of the sixty-eight projects are done in districts that were formerly Conservative districts and are now newly held Liberal districts, so, forty-nine out of the sixty-eight, some time over the past seventeen years were included.

Now I wonder did the Bonavista South area get any money this year? That area, I am sure, over the past seventeen years had its fair share, because I know they had a very vocal Member at one time, they had a Member at one time who happened to be Minister of Transportation, and I am sure that area has had everything possible that it needed over that time and they have no need this year for any money, but just looking at the hon. Member and looking at the guilty look on his face, I am sure that they have received money this year, so, Mr. Speaker, the excuse that the Minister uses that these districts which received money this year, part of the $25.5 million provincial money, were neglected over the past seventeen years, just does not hold water.

It does not hold water and obviously it points out that forty-nine of the sixty-eight projects which we have here, and if we take out the five or six which are now still Progressive Conservative districts, you will have quite a percentage of those districts, probably almost fifty out of sixty, five- sixth of the whole Budget was spent in districts that were at least one time over the past seventeen years, represented by a Government Member and obviously if the Liberal philosophy holds true that Government Member did wonders in his district and he got a lot of work there by completely ignoring the Liberal districts, but Mr. Speaker, obviously we find that is not so.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The gentleman for Green Bay has raised the concerns of the people of Jackson's Cove and the fact that they have not had their road paved for some three years now, but I would point out that they waited some seventeen years while the previous Government were in. I will point out again that we on this side of the House do not pave according to political stripe we pay for it according to the need and the priority basis. I guess when we look and realize that there are 2600 kilometres of gravel road in this Province yet that still have not been paved, you can see when we had the Budget conditions we had this year, we had to look at the needs on a priority basis. The gentleman for Green Bay said the Liberal Association sent in a petition last year asking to have it done. Yes, that is right, but when it was looked at the people in my Department came up and said it was not a priority, and it was not one at that time. You see the previous Government did some strange things in their paving and stuff like that. One of the things that comes to mind when I think about Green Bay, and why I suppose I mentioned to the gentleman for Green Bay that I did not know there was anything left there to pave is: I can remember a causeway that was constructed to Sunday Cove Island and for some reason or other a couple of years ago that causeway was taken out and a bridge put in. Now, there were rumours going around at the time that the Premier's buddies had Summer cabins out there and they wanted to bring their boats out through. Now, that is the sort of stuff that I see, and I suppose that is why when Members get up over there, when I hear the Member for Kilbride and hear the gentleman for Green Bay get up, they must make those statements even though there is no truth to them at all. The thing is there is a new regime in and we are paving, not according to the way you vote, but according to needs. Now, when I announced the Roads Program the gentleman for Kilbride got up and said there were four projects in Tory districts, and honestly, Mr. Speaker, I did not know because we do it on a needs and priority basis. I did not know how many Liberal districts got funding, or how many Tory districts, because I said to the officials in my Department, look, we have this much money so make up a list as the need should be. So, when I went through it I found out that out of the total districts there were twenty-four Liberal districts that received projects. There were twenty-three really because the Member for Grand Falls announced the one for Exploits. Even though they vote in Exploits the Member for Grand Falls thinks they are in his district. It was because of the fact that the town council for Grand Falls - Windsor was in and asked to have this road done. Just to outline the Tory districts who got funding: Fogo, Green Bay, Harbour Main, Humber East, Humber Valley, Menihek, Port au Port, Terra Nova, so, Mr. Speaker, there were twelve Tory districts out of a total of eighteen who got money, and there were twenty-four Liberal districts out of a total of thirty-two or thirty-three. Now, I went back and found out some of the Tory districts who did not get it. Grand Bank did not get it because there are no gravel roads in the district, except for two very short local roads. Grand Falls has none, except for the Trans-Canada. We even counted Grand Falls but in actual fact we did some paving, The gentleman for Grand Falls announced it, even though in was in the district of my colleague for Exploits. I heard the Member for Port au Port present a petition from some people in his district saying the roads were washed out and he was claiming it was because of the fact that it was an Opposition district.

Lo and behold I read the paper over the weekend, and my colleague for Exploits was saying that the roads in his District were in the worse shape they were ever in. So just to show you how fair and balanced we are, Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Port au Port is going to be upset I must have one Member on our side upset. So there it is. I cannot be any more fairer than that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Minister's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have the honour of presenting a petition from fifty-five constituents from St. John's, not only my District, but other Districts whose prayer reads as fellows: The petition of the undersigned, representing the students and the workers of the Avalon Consolidated School Board, St. John's. We are concerned about the cutbacks in the educational system, our children need a good quality education in order to help them to become strong and productive leaders of our future society.

Wherefore your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to reinstate sufficient funding to maintain the level of staffing required to maintain the facilities of the school board in a clean safe condition and to eliminate the necessity of lay offs of maintenance staff. A further reduction in the level of education will only serve to reduce our children's hope of becoming strong and productive adults.

Mr. Speaker, I met with a couple of individuals representing these individuals on Friday. Principally they are the members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 2172, which represents some 132 staff, I think, Mr. Speaker, of the Avalon Consolidated School Board. Mr. Speaker, this Board has a budget coming up next week for approval, and they are predicting a deficit. They are cut already to the bone, Mr. Speaker, and these individuals recognize that there is no fat to trim. However, the current situation is that the school board is proposing a layoff of some seventy maintenance staff for six weeks during the summer in order to attempt to save $100,000. Mr. Speaker, their operating increase cost for this year is $63,000, and the Department of Education and the Minister of Finance in his Budget are giving them some $200,000 less than they did last year.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is some seventy maintenance workers whose job it is to keep these schools clean and in tiptop shape. And over the summer months, Mr. Speaker, was a time when a major cleaning job was done in these schools so that when the children went back to school in September the schools were spic and span and a major overhaul was done which could not be done during the school year.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the plan apparently is to take all the maintenance staff and the caretakers and lay them off for six weeks in the summer. This is a staff, Mr. Speaker, whose average years of service with the school board is fifteen years, some of them are there longer. But these are long term, full-time, year round staff who have done these jobs and performed these jobs for an average of fifteen years. Mr. Speaker, this is essentially turning them into items on the Budget, as it were, in the school board if this plan goes through.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the individuals admit that there is no fat in that school board system, that they have cut back everywhere they can. And so the answer has to be, Mr. Speaker, from this Government. This Government ought to re-examine its allocation to the Avalon Consolidated School Board. If the Board literally cannot afford to clean the schools and maintain the schools then, Mr. Speaker, this Government ought to find money to assist them in that regard.

I know the Member for St. John's West, the Minister of Mines and Energy, as a former Chairman of the Avalon Consolidated School Board, is well aware of the problems that Board faces in terms of its funding needs and I know he was also to speak to the individuals involved, the representatives of Local 2172. And I understand that these individuals have also spoken to several other members, including the Member for St. John's South and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, concerning this issue. I believe members have been urged to write to the board to encourage them not to lay off these individuals as a method of cost-saving, and I would urge the members of the Government opposite and the Government back benches to urge the Minister of Education to do something to prevent this serious situation of the Avalon Consolidated School Board to find some money to help them avoid these layoffs of maintenance staff, to make sure the schools are cleaned properly, and that long-term workers with, as I said, an average of fifteen years, are not treated as seasonal workers by depriving them of the summer's work. They want to work, Mr. Speaker. They are prepared to do the work. The work needs to be done. What is needed is that this Government ensure that the school board has adequate funds to allow the work to be done and to keep the schools properly maintained. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was trying to give the Minister a chance to reply. I presume he will, afterwards, so that nothing will come back on him, as he skates around answering the questions raised by the petition.

I stand in support of the petition presented by the Member for St. John's East, on the topic we have raised in the House in Question Periods over the last few weeks. There are a number of concerns being expressed by all boards. The one here today is just a typical example of concerns expressed by others except, of course, the St. John's boards are much larger than the others and will, consequently, have more people affected.

When the Budget was brought down, Mr. Speaker, we made it quite clear that the cut in funding to school boards would have a detrimental effect on employees. School boards today have very little flexibility with the few dollars they have in order to maintain the plants. When they get their funding from Government this year, they find it is reduced considerably, reduced because there are fewer students and then, of course, on top of that, they have the inflation rate which is not accounted for at all. Consequently, they are operating with anywhere from 8 per cent to 10 per cent fewer dollars than they did last year. That is significant. The only way they can adjust is to lay off people. That is having the effect of taking people, as the member mentioned, who have been in the work force for several years, some from fifteen-to-twenty-year employees, and tell them that they have to take a reduction in the amount of work they get this year. Most people who work in these areas need every bit of work they can get and it is going to have a detrimental effect on the lives and the income of the people involved.

The Minister, when he spoke a few days ago, and as he will undoubtedly today if he speaks, will say that the boards will have just as much money because school taxes have gone up. That is an extremely hypocritical reply, because the Minister should not have the gall to mention school taxes at all, when his own members, the President of Treasury of Board, the Minister of Transportation, the Premier, indirectly, and several others, were going around during the election campaign promising, `If we get elected, we will abolish school taxes.'

Many of the members who were here, before the last election, in the House, were saying: If we get elected, we will abolish the school tax system. They got elected. Now, what are they doing? They are looking to the school tax system to find excuses for their lack of funding for the educational system. And it is uncertain, despite the fact that the Minister had to put down his head and approve large increases for school tax authorities to offset his own inability to provide funds for them, despite the fact he did that, they may not get the money, because many people are saying, `We are not going to pay our school taxes. The Premier is on every day saying he is going to get rid of them or change them significantly. We are not going to pay our taxes', And school tax authorities are having all kinds of problems collecting the money.

So, it is about time the Minister of Education faced up to the realities of funding education, faced up to the commitments made by the Premier, in particular, all around the Province, when education was the big issue leading up to the election. There were many promises made about education. Live up to the requests made by the Minister of Labour, who went around always talking about education not getting its fair share. Now that they are getting less than before, and all the initiatives that were taken are being scrapped, there is not a word. Where is all the concern now, for education? Some day, Mr. Speaker, hopefully the Government will wake up, hopefully they will provide needed funding, and hopefully people who have jobs in the Education system can hold onto them.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, just a few brief comments in response to my hon. friends across the floor. These are difficult times, Mr. Speaker, and this Government, the Federal Government, and all the provinces of Canada have had to do the same thing as school boards are doing. I am delighted, Mr. Speaker, that school boards are facing up to the critical problems they have by looking at ways of utilizing their dollars more efficiently. They are working with us all the time in finding the best use they can for the monies that are available. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is right when he says that school boards will have at least the same amount of money, if not more next year. Now, they got a little less for school operation and maintenance because we froze the student grant and the number of students is going down, so they do have a little less cash, but, Mr. Speaker, they are also going to get more from the school taxes. We are pleased that people are paying their school taxes.

MR. SIMMS: We thought you were going to abolish it.

DR. WARREN: The Opposition House Leader is getting very excited about this. I wonder what he is getting excited about. Is he afraid we are going to abolish it or afraid we are going to reform it? What would he do? We are going to do what we promised in the election, either abolish or reform. I am pleased to say that this year school boards are dealing with the financial crisis they have, they are looking at all possible savings, they are looking at school reorganization, they are looking at co-ordinating school operations, and they are doing a lot of things to make the system more efficient, and we are pleased that they are working with us in those difficult times. In the future education is a priority for this Government, Mr. Speaker. We have just begun to build for the twenty-first century. Education is a priority.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, there is another petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further petitions? I said Orders of the Day and nobody stood. Will we revert back to Petitions?

The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition from 223 residents of Pilley's Island. The prayer of the petition is that this House reconsider the grant structure as it applies to the municipality of Pilley's Island. Mr. Speaker, Pilley's Island, for the information of Members of this House, was a mining community of several thousand people in the late 1800s but today there is no mine. It is a small rural community with a very limited tax base depending for the most part on a rural seasonal economy with the only full time jobs in town being the postmaster, a teacher or two, or whatever civil servant may be left in that area who was not laid off.

Mr. Speaker, the little community of Pilley's Island is completely serviced with water and sewer. It received its services a number of years ago under a system where it had to set aside 20 per cent of its fixed revenues to service the debt on the water and sewer pipes in the ground. As it happens, Mr. Speaker, not only was Pilley's Island a mining town but it is pretty much a bald rock in many areas and as a result the installation of that particular water and sewer system was relatively expensive for the number of people involved. Now, what we find is that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs in coming up with this new financing scheme has changed the rules in the middle of the game. The citizens of Pilley's Island cannot dig up the water and sewer pipes and give them back to the contracting companies and say, we are finished with it. They have a functional water and sewer system and they need machinery and maintenance personnel to maintain it but unfortunately all of a sudden their mortgage payment on the pipes in the ground, their debt repayment on the system already in place has jumped tremendously, and Government's assistance to the community over the next three years is dropping each year as well. So, what we have is a rural community that is fully serviced in the matter of water and sewer, but unfortunately, under the new grant system brought down by this Government, it is completely unable to run a municipality, and maintain, look after, and uphold the system they already have.

The fiscal capacity of this particular town is very limited as to raising new revenues, Mr. Speaker. They have looked at selling their municipal equipment, their dump truck, their loader, laying off their municipal employee, but what will that mean, deterioration of the system in the ground itself and that will lead to no good whatsoever, so what we need, Mr. Speaker, is more sensitivity on the part of this Government to small rural communities, which are looking for water and sewer and especially in the case of a municipality that is already fully serviced and now the rules have been changed in the middle of the game, and their mortgage payments on the pipes that are in the ground, have risen tremendously and under the current financing system, there is no way this municipality can function.

So far, from the Gander Regional Office, they have had three separate estimates of exactly what kind of assistance would be forthcoming from the Crown, each estimate being somewhat better, the louder the community complains, so, Mr. Speaker, the community decided to send a petition to their Member to be presented in this particular Assembly and hopefully, another estimate would come out from the Gander Regional Office, which would be more favourable and allow the municipality to bring down a balanced budget, keep its municipal machinery, its front-end loader, backhoe, its dump truck and its municipal maintenance man, so that the system in place can be kept in place and the municipality as a functioning corporate entity can continue into the future as it has in the past.

In the 1890s, Pilley's Island contributed tremendous amounts of money to the economy of this Province with the large copper mine, Mr. Speaker; that mine is played out and now it is time for the Province to pay back Pilley's Island for what it gave the Dominion of Newfoundland nearly 100 years ago, and the current grant structure and the financing system brought down by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, makes it virtually impossible for Pilley's Island and others like it to continue on under current circumstances. I therefore support their prayer to this Assembly and to this Government, that they be given special consideration and that the grant structure as currently brought down by the Minister be changed to accommodate their needs. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words in support of the petition so ably presented by my colleague, the Member for Green Bay, who never ceases to amaze me with his dogged efforts, his dogged determination on behalf of the constituents whom he represents in the Green Bay district, and I hear and run into his constituents time and time again, time and time again; in fact I ran into some over the weekend, who sang his praises because he is dogged and determined; he raises their concerns in the Legislature day after day after day; of course they also recognize and acknowledge the fact that they get no response from Members opposite or Ministers opposite and that is unfortunate.

But I rise in support of the petition for another reason too, Mr. Speaker, because my own roots are from the community of Pilley's Island out in Notre Dame Bay, Pilley's Island and Triton; my mother is from Pilley's Island, my father is from Triton, so I am quite familiar with the area and the territory, having spent many, many weekends and weeks at a time when I was a young lad, a young boy out in Notre Dame Bay, picking mussels and boiling up a little -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, not from Pilley's Island though.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Springdale is - pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Long Island. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, even my own colleagues will not leave me alone. There are at least five delegates from that area too possibly, he says, for the Leadership.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, Mr. Speaker, it has nothing to do with that. It is because of my own roots, my family's roots from that area. I have also visited and been in the area of course quite regularly, fairly regularly over the last twelve or thirteen years or so since I have been in politics, and I know what wonderful progress that community of Pilley's Island made over the last decade or so, particularly with their previous Member I suppose, or Members, to give credit to all Members who represented the area, they have made a tremendous amount of progress in the small community of Pilley's Island.

But here, today, we have a petition with two hundred and twenty odd names, I think it is, two hundred and twenty odd signatures, crying out, crying out in desperation to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who is not here, not even here in the House, crying out to the Minister, asking the Minister to give consideration to this small, tiny community which has a relatively small tax base, very little tax base, to help in their efforts to provide good services and reasonable services to their people. To avoid resettlement, once again, to avoid resettlement is what they are saying, -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) brand new water and sewer system.

MR. SIMMS: - in a round about way, save us from resettlement. Now, Mr. Speaker, Your Honour is fully aware of the importance of municipal funding to small communities because Your Honour represents a number of small communities, and many people in those small communities I have no doubt, I would not want to put words in Your Honour's mouth, but I have no doubt there are many people in the small communities that he represents who are beginning to feel the same way as the people from Pilley's Island are beginning to feel. And it is ironic, you know, if you read the newspapers the weekend, how often you see these stories coming forth, Tom Cahill a well known author and a well known and respected Newfoundlander talked about it in the Weekend Edition of The Evening Telegram, I think a very good article about resettlement. And that what we are seing by this Government these days with everything that they are doing, Mun Extension eliminated, cut back in municipal grants, cutbacks in health care, and everything being focused on regional services, large urban centres only, I mean it is pretty evident, Mr. Speaker, what is happening in this Province today.

And there was another article in the weekend paper as well, I thought I had a copy of with me here today, but it must be up in my office, but there was another article on the Minister of Education who is a fan of resettlement. I remember talking to some friends of his who were around in the days of the early 1970s, the late 1960s when the Minister of Finance, I believe, sought the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, if I am not - he did not, did he? Yes, he did, sought the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party back in the 1968-69 era somewhere around there when Frank Moores I think was elected leader, if I am not mistaken. So back in those days the Minister of Finance, as I recollect, was not a fan of resettlement in those days.

DR. KITCHEN: I am not now either.

MR. SIMMS: I am not now either, he says. Well then, Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Finance I do not think he is speaking clearly enough -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, by leave, Mr. Speaker. I do not think he is speaking clearly enough, certainly the people of Pilley's Island -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - would never understand or believe what he is having to say today.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Motion 4, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Bill No. 15.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased again to have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 15, which is an Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act in this Province, an Act, Mr. Chairman, on which most of the people on this side of the House have spoken, whereas very few people on the other side of the House have debated this bill or the merits of it. While most of the people in discussing this bill have talked about the change of taxation going from ad valorem to a fixed rate in taxation, Mr. Chairman and I have dealt with it, I am more specifically concerned with the amendment that I have proposed which is to basically recognize Western Labrador as this Government recognizes Southern Labrador.

Mr. Chairman, my amendment proposes that the Minister be given authority to amend the taxes collected in Newfoundland in a portion of Newfoundland adjacent to the Quebec Border in Western Labrador as he now has the authority and the request in this Act to adjust the tax rate in Southern Labrador. That is all I am asking, Mr. Chairman. I am asking that this Government, that this House recognize the similarities between Western Labrador and Southern Labrador that these are the only areas where we have people living adjacent to the border of another province, Mr. Speaker, and while this Government recognizes that they can and will adjust taxes in Southern Labrador, they will not recognize that they can or will adjust taxes in Western Labrador. I find this tremendously unfair. I know that the people in Western Labrador find it unfair and, Mr. Speaker, I believe that the people of this Province will find it tremendously unfair.

The difference in tax structure, I believe, has given the people selling gasoline in the Province of Quebec a tremendous advantage over those selling gasoline in Western Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, a lot of figures have been thrown back and forth on the selling price of gasoline in Fermont, Quebec and in Western Labrador, Labrador City and Wabush. Several people have made phone calls on that side of the House, suggesting that my figures are wrong. I have confirmed my figures and now, Mr. Speaker, I want to elaborate a bit more on these figures.

AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of gas do you buy? - regular unleaded, right?

MR. A. SNOW: Yes. Now, just for uniformity, that is what we - I was going to suggest that I would use regular unleaded gasoline. Now, Mr. Speaker, in the Province of Quebec, in Fermont, they remit a sales tax - the adjusted tax on gasoline, by the way, in Fermont, is not 10 cents, it is 5.5 cents.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much is the gas?

MR. A. SNOW: Now, the gasoline in Fermont, Mr. Speaker, regular gas, is 62.3 cents.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker. We are going to compare apples and apples. Now, I know the Minister of Finance is going to want to try to compare apples and oranges, but I want to compare apples and apples. Now, the apples up in Fermont, Mr. Speaker, the regular apples in Fermont, 62.3 cents.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in Labrador City, the apples at the Esso station, the regular apples now, are 66.5 cents; at Shell, the regular apples are 66.5 cents; at Ultramar, $66.2, that is all the regular apples.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Shell, regular, 66.5 cents.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker. Well, I have checked it three times, so far, and those are the prices. I am told that the Minister of Finance has also checked and he has the same figures I have, when we compare the regular apples with the regular apples in both provinces and different stations.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is an approximate difference of 4.2 - 4.3 cents. Now, where the difference, before, came in, was we were talking of the super unleaded, the high range, high octane gasoline being sold in Quebec at one station and the high octane being sold at Labrador City stations. Some people might argue that we are comparing apples and oranges, there, but that is where they came from, Mr. Speaker.

We have establish now, and there is an agreement, that there is a difference. The hon. the Minister responsible for Treasury Board has suggested that he agrees there is a 4.2 cent difference per litre, Mr. Speaker, in the price of gasoline in Western Labrador and the Province of Quebec. Now, while he agrees with that he suggested my figures are accurate and he suggested also that the suggested adjustment in taxes in Southern Labrador is going to be done to make them compatible. What I am suggesting this Government should do, this House should do, Mr. Chairman, is they should support my amendment so that this Government would be able to adjust the tax structure so that the people in Western Labrador would have a similar tax rate, if you will, as the people in Fermont. That then, Mr. Chairman, would allow the vendors of the gasoline to be on a level playing field, because the taxes are greater in the Province of Newfoundland than they are in the province of Quebec. You must remember now that they have the adjusted tax rate and that is what I am suggesting we should do in Western Labrador, because I still firmly believe that people will be going from Western Labrador up to Fermont to purchase their gasoline and we are going to lose actual tax dollars because the volume is going to slip in Western Labrador. They will probably end up purchasing alcholic beverages because they are at a lower tax rate over there. I am not suggesting that you lower the taxes on that, not yet, but we have a history of accepting a differential in taxes in this Province. There is no doubt that we all recognize that we have a difference in tax structures throughout the Province. There is a difference in sales tax being charged in hotel accommodations in Southern Labrador. I do not for the world understand why this Government does not want to treat the people of Western Labrador equal with the people of Southern Labrador. I cannot understand why we have to be treated differently. The hon. Minister of Finance says we in Western Labrador are going to be treated exactly the same as people in St. John's Centre. Well, in that case, Mr. Chairman, he is going to have to give us back our motor registration office, our additional health care money, and all those things they have taken away from us. When we were in Labrador he took it away but now that the taxes are there he does not mind treating us equal with taxation but not with services. I ask this Government to reconsider what they are suggesting in this bill because it is definitely not fair. We should be treating our citizens equally. We should treat the people that live in Western Labrador as well as we treat the people in Southern Labrador. That is all I request, Mr. Chairman, and that is all I want, to treat the people in Western Labrador exactly the way we treat the people in Southern Labrador. Mr. Chairman, there is nothing complicated about it. If you look at the length of this bill, my goodness, it is only one page, there is absolutely nothing to it in a sense, but do you realize how much discrimination is in it. How much discrimination is in it when you say that the people in Western Labrador are not going to be treated like the people in Southern Labrador. While it is only one page I am sure that the amount of discrimination that is there will cause books to be written about it, Mr. Chairman, thousands of pages will be written about it. There is only one reason that I can understand why they are discriminating, Mr. Chairman, the only difference that I know of is that one district is Liberal and the other district is Tory. That is the only difference that I know of, the fact that Western Labrador is a Tory district and Southern Labrador is a Liberal district. Mr. Chairman, why would they want to do that? Why would they want to punish the people of Western Labrador? Is it because they just want more money? Is that the only reason? I have said here a thousand times, if I have said it once, that we as an electoral district in Western Labrador contribute more for an electoral district than any other district in the Province, and we are proud of that, Mr. Chairman. We are proud that we are able to contribute more, but I tell you what we do not want, we do not want to be discriminated against in that sense. We are proud that we do contribute the most because we also probably earn the most, Mr. Chairman, but in the terms of gasoline tax, what we should be doing is, giving the same benefit as the other border residents in this Province, because you cannot be treating people differently just because of how they vote, Mr. Chairman, that is not fair, that is not fairness and balance.

MS. VERGE: I think that violates the Charter of Rights (inaudible) another Charter challenge.

MR. A. SNOW: Another charter challenge. Well, I guess they are going to have to change the Charter again. Now, Mr. Chairman, this could be easily adjusted, all that is necessary is for the hon. Minister of Finance to stand and suggest: yes, the hon. Member for Menihek is right, he is right again -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. My colleague for Menihek has demonstrated that this bill is flawed because it discriminates between residents of Labrador bordering Quebec, who are, on the one hand on the Strait's Coast with a Liberal representative and on the other hand, are in the Western interior mining area of Menihek, represented by a PC.

Now, Chairperson, the Constitution of Canada, for the last few years, has included a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and, Chairperson, just a few days ago, on April 20, we marked the anniversary of a coming into force of perhaps the most important part of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 15, which guarantees equality rights without discrimination.

Now, Chairperson, I heard the Premier make an eloquent speech on that anniversary, on Law Day at a Canadian Bar Association Luncheon at Hotel Newfoundland, and the Premier held himself out as respecting the Constitution of Canada, yet he is leading his Government in a series of legislative measures which flagrantly violate the Charter, at least in my opinion.

The legislation with which we have been dealing in this sitting of the House, the notorious roll back legislation, Bill 16, and now this gasoline tax amendment, involve discrimination. In the first case, in the case of the roll back legislation, blatant discrimination against women in the public service, and in this case, blatant discrimination against residents in two parts of Labrador bordering Quebec, one group represented by a Liberal, the other group represented by a PC.

Now, Chairperson, I have not heard any Member of the Government attempt to justify the discrimination involved in this Gasoline Tax Act Amendment. The Member for Carbonear just suggested that he did not think the Members of the Government were bright enough to discriminate on the basis of politics; well, that certainly is not reflected in their recent actions in awarding contracts and approving various construction projects. But, Chairperson, obviously the residents of the Strait of Belle Isle district, the people who live in Southern Labrador in the Eagle River district on the Strait of Belle Isle bordering Quebec, are being given a concession, to entice them to buy gasoline in our own Province whereas, the residents of Labrador City in Wabush in Western Labrador, bordering Quebec, are being charged the higher tax rate or would be charged the higher tax rate, the same as residents of other parts of the Province, providing for them, a disincentive to buy their gas within our own Province and enticing them to cross the border and get their gas in Fermont.

If they continue to buy their gas at home, they are going to have to pay a premium for it, they are going to have to pay more than their fellow-Labradorians who live in Red Bay or who live in L'Anse- au- Clair or Forteau, and how can the Government rationalize that discrimination; there is no justification for it.

The Member for Carbonear was being facetious, he allowed that he supports patronage, that he supports discriminating among citizens based on the political stripe of their District. But surely that is not good enough Chairperson, surely when it comes to taxation there has to be fairness. There is a justification for treating residents of the Province bordering Quebec differently from others for purposes of gasoline tax. But there is no defence for discriminating between citizens along the Quebec Border in different parts of Labrador. Why are people in Red Bay being given a gasoline tax break when that is being withheld from residents of Labrador City and Wabush? I say to the President of Treasury Board he should get up and explain this.

Now perhaps there is some excuse that I am just not seeing. Would the President of Treasury Board or the Minister of Finance who is sponsoring the bill do us the courtesy of explaining this discrimination. Chairperson, I wonder if the Minister of Finance would turn around and face me. I am trying to find out if there is any excuse for discriminating in the levying of gasoline tax between residents of Southern Labrador and residents of Western Labrador who are bordering Quebec? Why is the Government proposing to charge less gasoline tax to the people in Red Bay, for example, than people in Labrador City? Why is that? And Chairperson would the Minister of Finance tell the House whether he has a legal opinion from the Department of Justice on the constitutional validity of this aspect of the bill? Has the Minister sought and obtained a legal opinion on whether this discrimination violates Section 15, Charter, Equality rights guarantee without discrimination?

Chairperson, I am going to take my seat now and wait for the Minister of Finance to answer those probing questions.

MR. SIMMS: Is the Minister going to respond or comment?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) close the debate.

MR. SIMMS: Well I would like to hear what the Minister has to say first. I did have a few comments to make, but if he has something that will clear it up I will not even bother.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the noble gesture by the Member for Grand Falls, the Opposition House Leader. Well there are a couple of points that I would like to make concerning the differential. The figures that were being quoted last week by the Member dealt with premium gas. And I want to deal with premium gas for a minute, then I will come back to the unleaded, the regular unleaded.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: No, I want to deal with them in consecutive order.

On Friday we were talking about a price differential of seven cents, over seven cents between the price of gas in Fermont and Labrador City, being the price of premium and unleaded gas. And that is true. The price differential according to our figures is about 7.3 cents in favour of Fermont. But it was not caused by the difference in the Province's sales tax because in Quebec people were paying $10.41 tax that included $5.58 for their gasoline tax. They have a special gasoline tax in remote areas, and for some reason or other they call Fermont a remote area, as they do for the Straits area as well. So they charge a gasoline tax of $5.58. But unlike Newfoundland, Quebec charges retail sales tax as well. So when you add the retail sales tax on top of the gasoline tax in Quebec the price for a litre of premium unleaded gas, the Provincial tax in Quebec was $10.41 as opposed to our fixed tax of $13.70, the difference there is 3.29 cents. Now the difference in the regular is 3.52 cents, in other words with premium gas the differential is less than for regular gas.

The big reason for the difference between Fermont and Labrador City on premium gas is partly due to the 3.29 cents difference between the provincial taxes, but the bulk of it, the seventy-nine cents GST difference that the Federal Government charges and the 3.22 which was there before any of the taxes went on, this was the wholesale price, the mark up, the Federal excise taxes, that sort of thing, had nothing whatsoever to do with this Province. Our share of that 7.3 differential was 3.29 and the rest was somebody elses, either mark up or something else, and that should be addressed in that fashion. Now, let us come back to the Member's point about the difference on the regular unleaded which, I think, is the proper one to compare.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

DR. KITCHEN: The 3.29 on premium unleaded, that is the difference in taxes. The difference in price at the pump is 7.3. Now, when you come to the regular unleaded the difference in pump price is about 4.7. I am taking a 61.8 Fermont and a 66.5 Lab City. Those are the figures that were supplied by officials for regular unleaded gas. Both these things are unleaded because that is all that is legal now, unleaded. The taxes on the regular unleaded in Newfoundland, or in Labrador, of course, the gasoline tax is 13.7 and in Fermont the gasoline tax is 5.58 but again they pay retail sales tax and that comes to be 4.6 cents, or a total of 10.18 in Quebec taxes, the retail sales tax at 8 per cent now, plus gasoline tax of 5.58 cents, so the total taxes that a Quebecer would pay in Fermont, or anyone would pay in Fermont would be 10.18 cents, that is provincial sales and gasoline tax. In Labrador City we have no retail sales tax on gasoline but our gasoline tax is 13.7 cents so the difference is 3.52 cents. So, of the 4.7 cents difference in price at the pump our taxes are 3.52 higher, so most of the difference is caused by our tax. There is a GST of sixty-one cents and a differential in price of fifty-seven cents that would be caused by differences in mark up, whatever, or the excise tax at the wholesale level. Basically there is a small difference.

Now, in L'Anse-au-Clair which is just a couple of miles from Blanc Sablon, there is an encouragement to drive from one town to the other to save a few bucks to fill up your tank at Blanc Sablon, and why not do it? It is only a couple of miles.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Red Bay?

DR. KITCHEN: I will come to Red Bay in a minute. In Fermont the round trip is about fifty-five kilometres. Now nobody is going to drive fifty-five kilometres and burn up nine or ten litres of gasoline to save four cents a litre. It will cost you more in gas to make the trip than you would save, so there is nobody foolish enough, unless it is the Member opposite, who would make that trip to save gas, so there is really no point. Similarly, I suppose it is possible for a person living in St. Barbe to get on the ferry and go across to Blanc Sablon and pick up his gas over there. But he would be foolish to get on a ferry to go to Blanc Sablon and come back with a tank load unless he had a big tank, a very large tank, so the same case he makes for Fermont we could also make for St. Barbe, and if you were from St. Barbe I suppose you would have to make it for all the communities along the Northern Peninsula, St. Anthony, and perhaps, even down as far as Corner Brook; and maybe you would have to make it for Port aux Basques, because a fellow could put his car on the ferry and go over to North Sydney and take advantage of the lower Nova Scotia prices and then, bring it back, and save that way.

So, the whole thing, Mr. Chairman, is foolishness. There is nobody going to drive from Labrador City to Fermont, any more than they are going to go from St. Barbe to Blanc Sablon or from St. John's to North Sydney, to save the difference in price on a drop of gas.

Now, there is a different case in L'Anse-au-Clair, because it is so close, it is to people's advantage to avoid tax by driving over, and that is why we have brought it in, and we have lowered it by a- cent-and-a-half.

Now, the problem comes up with respect to Red Bay. You know, there are seven or eight communities all in a line, and where do you make the cut-off? If you cut off at L'Anse-au-Clair, what about the persons living almost between L'Anse-au-Clair and L'Anse-au-Loup? Are you going to cut him out? That is where the problem lies, and similarly, right along that small stretch of road that goes from L'Anse-au-Clair to Red Bay. I do not know how you would handle it, unless you eliminate the subsidy completely for L'Anse-au-Clair residents. Basically, it is put in for the people in L'Anse-au-Clair and vicinity, and Red Bay is in it. Perhaps Red Bay should not be in it, but I cannot see how you can cut them out. It is difficult to cut them out.

AN HON. MEMBER: How far is Red Bay from (inaudible)?

DR. KITCHEN: Red Bay is about eighty or ninety kilometers, is it not? So that is even further.

Now, I agree with the problem, but it is the fact of the almost contiguous settlement that is causing the problems there and, for that reason, Mr. Chairman, I do not want to do it.

The member says: let us have the same taxation as Quebec. Now, we do not have the same taxation as Quebec, because Quebec has higher income taxes. Does he want the same income tax in Labrador City as they have in Quebec? If so, you will have to pay a lot higher income taxes than you do now. Are you going to pay the same payroll tax as in Quebec? If you do, you are going to have to pay more payroll tax, and therefore, your price of gasoline will go up there, too.

So, the point is, do we make all taxes equal? And I have said before giving the House this undertaking, that in our review of taxation this spring and summer - hopefully, we will be finishing up this fall - we will take a look at all those border taxes, including residential accommodation, and if there is need for further adjustments, we will make them; but, Mr. Chairman, I have no intention of recommending to members on this side of the House that they support the member's amendment. Thank you.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, I am disappointed that the Minister of Finance has not seen fit to treat the people of Western Labrador as equals of the people of Southern Labrador. I am disappointed, but not necessarily surprised, when I see the type of arrogance with which he treats all people in Labrador, anyway. That was the same Minister, Mr. Chairman, who disagreed with the Federal Government's tax exemption on Northern benefits; and he was upset that he could not gouge more revenue from the people living in the North, Mr. Chairmnan. Who, by the way, treat the people in Southern Labrador similarly to the way they treat the people in Western Labrador.

Now, Mr. Chairman, he mentions that the reason he did not cut off Red Bay from the tax exemption was the fact that it was a contiguous community development all the way along from L'Anse-au-Clair to Red Bay. I do not know what has happened to Red Bay. There must have been a tremendous amount of growth in Southern Labrador over the last couple of months, Mr. Chairman, but it is not a contiguous community, that I am aware of. But, Mr. Chairman, yes, I will readily admit that it is twenty kilometers between Western Labrador and Fermont.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is more than that.

MR. A. SNOW: Twenty-three kilometers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, it is twenty-three from Labrador City, at least, that is my understanding. So, it is twenty-three kilometers from the boundary in Labrador City over to Fermont.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the reason I suggested that the Minister be permitted to allow the people of Western Labrador to have a level playing field, as the people of Southern Labrador have, is that I know there are people driving to Fermont and they are purchasing gasoline, tobaccos and alcoholic beverages, and they are probably doing other shopping up there, also.

So, Mr. Chairman, that will go right back to when I originally raised this or stood in discussion on this bill, Mr. Chairman, I said how we are going to lose revenues. Mr. Chairman, I believe we will lose revenues because the volume in gasoline sales will go down - the sales of volume will drop in Western Labrador now, Mr. Chairman, because of this. But the Minister could have corrected that if he had permitted my amendment to stand. Mr. Chairman, I still believe it is unfair to treat people unequally, to make a difference between the people of Western Labrador and Southern Labrador, when we know that the only difference is how they voted in the last election. That is the only difference, Mr. Chairman. It is tremendously unfair that the Minister of Finance is not going to correct the inequity or the uphill battle that the business community has to fight against the taxation structure in Quebec.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I am not suggesting that we have the same income tax structure as the Province of Quebec, but I am suggesting that what we are discussing when we get to this bill, Mr. Chairman, we are talking about gasoline tax. I firmly believe that there should be a graduated gasoline tax in this Province. I really believe in that. I also think that you are going to have to reconsider your sales tax on hotel rooms, that type of thing, when you are reforming your tax structure in this Province. But, Mr. Chairman, I am disappointed that the Minister of Finance has continued his attack on the people of Western Labrador, continued to gouge the people of Western Labrador for more dollars to pay for his mistakes, Mr. Chairman. I am disappointed, but I am not surprised. I am not surprised with what he is doing because that has been his history of gouging the people of Western Labrador, of not defending the people of Western Labrador when it came time and we had to argue and fight with the Government in Ottawa to get our northern tax benefit package approved so that we would not have to pay taxes on benefits to the North that makes us equal with Southern residents, Mr. Chairman. That same Minister would not agree with us in Labrador then and we know why, because all he wants to do is slip his greasy little fingers in our pockets, take the money back to St. John's, spend it out here, do not spend any back there, Mr. Chairman. That is what he is up to.

I am sure that the $2 million, his estimated payroll tax that is coming out of Western Labrador, is a heck of a lot more than is being contributed by any other electoral district, Mr. Chairman.


MR. A. SNOW: Now, Mr. Chairman, he stood and suggested that he could do it if he wanted to do it. He knows that he could change this tax structure so that it would make it more equal for the people of Western Labrador. But, Mr. Chairman, he decided not to. Now I do not know why he has decided to treat us in this arrogant manner, Mr. Chairman. But it is discrimination. A lot of people are going to suggest that it is because of the political way we voted and I think that probably has something to do with it. It is also because, I suppose, the lack of understanding of the Minister of any financial matters. He does not understand anything. I mean anybody who would bring in a Budget last year and suggest that we were going to have a $10 million surplus and we come in with a $120 million deficit, I mean that type of economic forecasting, Mr. Chairman, gives astrology credibility. That type of economic forecasting, Mr. Chairman, is absolutely bizarre. But it is the lack of his understanding of economics and the economy of this Province that is also dictated -

MR. SIMMS: It took four days of pressure from the Member for Menihek to bring out all of these important issues. And before the Minister came back to the House he finally agreed there is a difference, 4.7 cents.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: If the Member keeps it up long enough, he might change it.

MR. SIMMS: He has gotten up publicly now and said he is not going to -

MR. A. SNOW: Well, I do not know why he will not change it, he has suggested that the only reason why he will not change it is because they have a different tax structure in Quebec, Mr. Chairman. They have a better tax structure in the province of Quebec with regard to gasoline tax.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Chairman, they do, and they do have a different tax structure in other areas of the province of Quebec; it is not just in Fermont, we heard about his saying: can you imagine, he said, and he said it sarcastically, about Fermont being remote? Can you imagine somebody from St. John's Centre, questioning whether or not Fermont is remote, can you imagine that? The arrogance of it, the arrogance of somebody from St. John's Centre suggesting that Fermont is remote; well, my goodness. I wonder if he was ever there, do you think he has ever visited the North, do you think he has ever been in Western Labrador?

MR. SIMMS: Yes, when he ran for the Leadership of the Tory Party he was up there campaigning for delegates.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He was never in Labrador in his life.

MR. A. SNOW: All he does, Mr. Chairman, all he does in Western Labrador is, slip his hands in and take the money out and run, that is all he does and that is all he knows about it, but at least the province of Quebec recognizes that rural and northern areas should have a different tax structure, should have a different tax structure, Mr. Chairman, with regard to the taxes on gasoline and income tax structures. To the best of my knowledge, they did not fight against the Northern Tax Benefit package, they did not go after their friends in Ottawa and suggest not to do it because it may affect some loss of revenues.

Mr. Chairman, I am hoping that other people on the other side of the House, his colleagues, will stand and speak because of how sensible my amendment is; how it helps. Yes, it may help the residents of Western Labrador pay a lower price for gasoline, but more importantly than that, it recognizes that Labradorians should be treated equally; they should be treated equally.

I recognize that there is a four and a half cents difference, it cannot be totally corrected by this tax, maybe it should not, but we could still put it down to three cents or three and a half cents, and I still firmly believe that if we were to lower the taxes, the amount of revenue would go up because I think the volume of sales will increase.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the people of Western Labrador are disgusted with the amount of taxes which have been taken out of them by this Government since they have been elected. Now, Mr. Chairman, this is going to compound it, so, I would hope that he would see the folly of his ways. My hon. colleague for Grand Falls has suggested that I have been speaking for four days about this particular bill and, I just want to suggest again that I am not against charging the taxes in Red Bay or giving the people of Red Bay a tax rebate. I can understand why they should have -

MR. SIMMS: Are we (inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

MR. A. SNOW: - I could understand why they should have, but I would just hope that this Government would recognize that the people of Western Labrador also deserve a tax break with regard to gasoline taxes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. SPEAKER: Shall the amendment carry?

MR. SPEAKER: We have a division on the amendment.


MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the amendment please stand.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Simms, Ms Verge, Mr. Doyle, Mr. R. Aylward, Mr. Hearn, Mr. N. Windsor, Mr. A. Snow, Mr. Hewlett, Mr. Parsons, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Harris.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the amendment please rise.

The hon. the President of the Council, the hon. the Minister of Health, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries, the hon. the Minister of Social Services, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, Mr. L. Snow, Mr. Grimes, the hon. the Minister of Justice, the hon. the Minister of Finance, the hon. the Minister of Education, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Mr. Hogan, Mr. Reid, Mr. Ramsay, Mr Crane, Mr. K. Aylward, Mr. Gover, Mr. Noel, Mr. Penney, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Dumaresque, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Short, Mr. Langdon, Mr. Oldford.

CLERK (Miss Duff): Mr. Chairman, 'Ayes' twelve, 'Nays' twenty-seven.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I declare the amendment defeated.

A Bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, 1978."

On motion Clauses 2 through 5 carried.

MR. BAKER: I move that the Committee rise and report progress.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report that it has adopted a certain resolution and recommends that a bill be introduced to give effect to the same.


That it is expedient to bring in a measure to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, 1978.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time.

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, 1978", read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Order 11, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, second reading of a Bill, entitled "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Law Reform Commission Act, 1971," (Bill No. 13).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Bill 13, is a fairly straightforward piece of legislation; it amends the Newfoundland Law Reform Commission Act, to allow that body to receive funds from any source other than Government, it essentially give it corporate authority; it also allows it to enter into contracts with individuals who are not employees of the Commission for the purpose of conducting research.

I think it is fairly clear and straightforward, Mr. Speaker and I have nothing to add by way of explanation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I will see if I can provide a little more information on the legislation than the Minister. I am a bit surprised that he did not elaborate, it is a significant piece of legislation from him, I am not sure if he brought it in - I have to apologise for the use of my glasses, the handles of my glasses are broken off. Anyway -

AN HON. MEMBER: It would not be in your pocket -

AN HON. MEMBER: Ever since you gave up smoking.

MR. SIMMS: Ever since I gave up smoking, yes, I have been ripping them off, ripping them off. Anyway, as I understand it from consulting with our Justice critic, who, unfortunately is unable to be here at this point in time in the afternoon, she briefed me thoroughly on the bill and she asked me to mention two or three matters if the Minister ignored them, and I understand he did, so I will put them to him in the form of a question, so that when he rises to close the debate, he might be able to attack me, chastise me, tell me I am wrong or, perhaps say yes, they are very good points my colleague and friend from Grand Falls has raised and I can confirm that it is a fact, what he has said.

For example, the amendments of course are housekeeping in nature as he rightly pointed out; I am not sure if he used the word housekeeping but I think that is what it is really, housekeeping.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: You were not that original. It permits the Commission and, by the way, I should say at the outset, that the Members on this side of the House have the utmost respect for the Law Reform Commission, certainly our Justice critic does as do many of us. I knew some Members of the Commission in the past and I know they performed some very good work. In fact, I am not sure who are on the Commission any more these days; I suspect the Minister has probably changed them from whom they were in 1989, although, I am sure that was not a reflection of their work, but more an opportunity to be given to other people around the Province, who might want to participate. I doubt very much if they have any particular political ties or tags, the members of the Law Reform Commission.

But anyway, this will permit the Law Reform Commission, as I understand it, to receive from sources other than the Government some funding, money; it will permit them to receive money from other sources other than Government and I understand that, that includes the Law Foundation. And they will collect money from Trusts held by lawyers and so on, so they could receive funding from that source, and I want to ask the Minister, when he closes the debate, what has happened up until now. Do we understand then, that the Commission has not been able to accept funding, is that what has happened?

It has not been able to accept funding, so this will allow them the right - well, it is surprising that the previous administration did not have the foresight to amend this back two, three years ago, being the astute Government that it was. It was one of those minor items, I guess, that we happened to overlook and I deeply apologise on behalf of the previous administration for not having done it at that time, so that, answers that particular question.

I know that the Law Reform Commission has in fact, done some good work and published some high quality reports in a couple of areas, and I think they included reports on Limitations of Actions, Mechanics Lien and things like that, I know they have done in the past, and I believe the Commission, as I knew it in the past, consulted very widely on these two items in particular that I have mentioned.

And now as I understand it, the report was given to this Government, the new Liberal Government. I think the Minister might be able to confirm that the reports were given to the Government a couple of years ago on those two items: Limitations of Actions and Mechanics Liens, and they recommended by the way, I say to the Member for Placentia, they recommended that legislation be brought in, in those two reports, but this Government has not acted on it; they failed to act on the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, as I understand it.

Now I could be incorrect, and I am sure the Minister will tell me if I am and If I am, that is fine, I can take the heat and I can take criticism, but if in fact, it is accurate, I would expect him to get up and say yes, that is right, we did receive the reports, we have not brought in legislation but I am working on it now and I intend to do so in the near future, so I look forward to his response in that area. The other amendment, as I understand it, will allow them to bring in, or to contract out, is that the idea I say to the Minister, to contract out to help them with their work if they need to do so, and at the moment they are not allowed to do it, I guess, and that is the reason for the amendment. So, all in all, Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, really these amendments are of a housekeeping nature. The Minister introduced them very briefly but unfortunately, I think, he could have elaborated on them a little bit, but now, of course, there is no need for any further elaboration because I have done it, as the acting Justice critic on this side of the House. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the Minister and the Government House Leader, and Members opposite, that we have no intention of procrastinating on this piece of legislation. We intend to support it. I suspect the Member for St. John's East, who is a learned individual, might want to have a word. I do not know, perhaps he might find himself in conflict of interest. He might want to consider before he speaks in this debate, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that we will not be participating to any great extent in debate on this legislation. We will be supporting it and we commend the Minister highly for moving in this regard.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, want to rise in support of this legislation, but I had also hoped that the Minister of Justice would have taken advantage of the opportunity to advise the House of some of the work of the Law Reform Commission and tell us what relationship it has to the Law Foundation and other activities of law reform in this Province. Perhaps he could tell us who is on the Commission. I do not think they removed all the lawyers and replaced them with political appointees. I am sure they did not do that. Maybe he can tell us a little bit about the Law Reform Commission and what it does. The Law Reform Commission is very important in this Province in particular where we do not have our own law school and each provincial jurisdiction, of course, has its own major constitutional responsibilities under the Constitution Act. In order for this Province to keep up to date with legislation that is occurring elsewhere and with legislation that is to be brought in this Province, the Law Reform Commission is very necessary, as is the Law Foundation. It has always been a great advantage in one way, Mr. Speaker, to Newfoundland in not having a law school because our lawyers therefore have experience in attending law schools in different provinces of Canada, from the law schools in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, where each province has its own set of laws, and in fact indeed different legal systems for land titles and that sort of thing, so we do have an advantage in that way, Mr. Speaker, in having a variety of legal experience amongst our legal profession. In my own law firm we have graduates from Dalhousie University, from the University of Windsor, the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of the UNB, the University of New Brunswick, and the University of Toronto, so you get quite a variety of background with different provincial laws across the country and that is one of the strengths of our legal profession, but one of the weaknesses of legal affairs in this Province is we do not have a place where academic lawyers can spend the time pursuing legal issues and legal reform for the benefit of this Province, so in that regard, Mr. Speaker, a Law Reform Commission such as we have is a very valuable entity and to have the power, and hopefully the funds as well, to conduct research and to enter into contracts with lawyers, whether of this Province or other provinces, to conduct research and to produce papers on aspects of legal reform and legislation would be a very valuable thing. I so support it and I would hope that the Minister, in his closing remarks, will advise the House of some of the current projects that the Law Reform Commission is undertaking, and perhaps he could tell us, as he must be aware of some source of funds they are expecting to get and how much is expected to be granted to the Law Reform Commission from these other sources, whether it be the Law Foundation or otherwise. Perhaps there are other sources of funds as well which the Law Reform Commission would wish to pursue. Perhaps he could advise us of those as well.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I rise, as I say, to offer my support to the legislation on behalf of the New Democratic Party, but also to see if the Minister could advise us as to what plans the Law Reform Commission has, and indeed what plans the Government have to take advantage of some of the reports that have recently been granted and action is being waited for.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. Minister I would like to on behalf of the Members welcome a delegation from the Council of Badger's Quay, Valleyfield, Pool's Island, including the Mayor, Mr. Sid Blundon and Town Manager, Harry Winter.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice, if he speaks now he will close debate.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I first of all want to compliment the Opposition House Leader on the fine job he did as acting justice critic. I would recommend to the official Leader of the Opposition that he might consider making the acting position permanent in the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: At the outset of his remarks he indicated that he invited me to either attack, chastise or recognize his good points. As he knows I never attack in this House, I rarely chastise, and I always recognize good points made by the hon. Opposition House Leader, and I certainly choose to answer some of the points and questions that he raised here.

First of all there were some changes, I believe, in the membership of the Commission within the last six months or so and essentially the position Cabinet adopted was to leave half the members in place for continuity and re-appoint approximately half. So I forget the composition, but of the eight or nine who were there before approximately four or five were left, and a new four or five were added, and we see some benefit to continuity.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Will the Minister table the names.

MR. DICKS: Sure. Yes, they were published. A press release was issued on it, Mr. Speaker, and I have no problem with doing that.

On the particular points as to the Law Foundation, or I think he indicated that the reason he understood for the amendment was to enable the Law Reform Commission to receive funding from the Law Foundation which is set up, as he says, and collects interest from lawyers trust accounts. And that is the primary purpose because the Law Foundation is an organization that is established in the Province to fund general legal research and things of benefit, not to the law profession itself, but to the general public. Unfortunately, and it is perhaps an oversight, and I am sure as he indicated the previous Government would have done it sooner had it recognized that the Law Reform Commission is unable to receive funding other than Government and certainly in this day and age we do not want to preclude any avenue of additional funding.

The reports given to Government, The Limitation Of Action Act, The Mechanics Liens Act - there is a draft Limitations of Actions Act that largely contains the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission. I was to have reviewed it this week, and in fact, I believe an appointment was set for this morning, I was not able to do it. But we should be in a position to introduce that bill in the Legislature this year and to act on a lot of the recommendations, as well the Government will be adding some of its own.

The Mechanics Lien Act is not quite at that stage yet of a draft piece of legislation. The Government has given to the Legislative Counsel's Office a tremendous amount of work to do since taking power on May 5, 1989, and some of the reforms suggested by the Law Reform Commission have had to take second place for more pressing legislation. But it is certainly our intent to move forward with that as the opportunity presents itself.

Contracting out is essentially, as the Member for St. John's East indicated: the Law Reform Commission wishes to have the ability to engage specialists in certain areas of the law, mostly university professors to report to it in an expeditious manner on topics that present themselves to the Law Reform Commission and can better be done by experts at more favourable terms as regards to cost and doing it in-house. That is the purpose of that amendment.

The Member for St. John's East raised some issues as well, I think one is to whether or not I should inform the House more of the work of the Commission. I thought of doing so, but I thought in doing so I might deprive the Leader of the Opposition and the Member for St. John's East of their opportunity to do so, and so having given them that pleasure I will save my comments just to fill in where they themselves may have left some vacancies.

The Law Reform Commission does in this Province perform some of the functions of a law school, in that it chooses to undertaken certain technical work in the area of the law. It costs us about $250,000 a year as opposed to the $18 million to run a medical school, and if we make the analogy then certainly the Law Reform Commission has proven itself to be of good value. What I have done in dealing with the Commission is that I have suggested to it that rather than continue solely with the pursuit of technical legal advice and reform of current laws such as The Mechanics Lien Act and The Limitation Of Actions Act, Living Wills and some of the others that they have come up with, that it undertake work in certain policy areas, particularly areas of medical legal legislation which are of course of pressing and crucial social importance. The new Commission has indicated to me that it intends to do so and, in fact, has established a subcommittee to deal with some of the issues that arise right across the country. That is one area I think where very beneficial advice may come to Government, and I think perhaps some independent social thinking giving us as a Government, to our successors some objective basis on which to assess how we might implement these crucial areas of consent in medical legal issues.

Now that is about all I guess I can say, Mr. Speaker. I think I have addressed most of the concerns raised by the hon. Members and I would therefore move second reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House that the said bill be now read a second time? All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

On motion, A Bill, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Law Reform Commission Act, 1971", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 13).

MR. BAKER: Order 15.

Motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Law Society Act, 1977," (Bill No. 5).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Law Society Act is the Act which governs the members of the Bar of Newfoundland, who practice law in the Province.

The first amendment here is to strike out a phrase which appears in Section 8 of the Act, dealing with the appointment of Honourary Benchers. Through some anomaly or oversight, the present Act allows any person who has held the office of Minister of Justice, for whatever period of time, to be an Honourary Bencher. However, it places on the office of Attorney General of Newfoundland a limitation, that a person, to become an Honourary Bencher, must hold it for a period of twelve months. Now, that also applies federally, to the office of Solicitor General, in other words, that if one holds the office of Attorney General for a minute or a day, or a Solicitor General in the Federal Parliament of Canada, one is an Honourary Bencher automatically. However, the previous Government, I believe, in 1977, placed on the office of Provincial Attorney General, or Solicitor General which we do not have, the requirement that a person serve in excess of twelve months. That appears to the Department to have no particular merit and we are moving to delete it. I would suggest that, having no vested interest, having served in the position of Attorney General more than twelve months, it is perhaps a little insulting to anyone who holds the office, to suggest that having served the Dominion of Canada, the Federal Government, that one is deserving of the honour, but in serving the Province for some period of time, you must establish twelve months. If the truth be known, a person is probably better able to serve as an Honourary Bencher, having held the position of Provincial Attorney General or Solicitor General than the comparable federal position. So, to that extent, I would commend to the House that we remove that anomaly, as there seems to be no basis in law, or reason that it exists.

The next amendments are to Section 33 of the Act, and allow and clarify the provisions that deal with residency and citizenship requirements. There has been a whole body of law arising out of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, dealing with mobility and a person's right to practice his or her profession across the country. Essentially, what has happened, Mr. Speaker, is that the provincial barriers erected in the professions to prevent people from outside the Province coming in to practice a profession on a sporadic or interim basis are being struck down. This is one, I should add, that is supported by The Law Society, contrary to their own pecuniary interests, and one which we suggest is in keeping with the law as it has developed across the country. What it will do, essentially, Mr. Speaker, is permit the Bar of Newfoundland to admit to it, persons who are not residents of the Province and to allow both people to practice law here in the Province on whatever terms are appropriate. This will also have some bearing on the growth of interprovincial firms, which are phenomenons that have developed over the last little while and which, whatever one's views may be, but are not going to be rolled back to a less generous time in our history.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a few brief remarks about Honourary Benchers.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your favourite subject.

MR. SIMMS: It is one of my favourite subjects. I spoke to the Minister privately and indicated to him privately that I had a great deal of interest in this amendment dealing with Honourary Benchers in the Province, for a number of reasons which I will not bother to go into now.

I have studied the two amendments thoroughly and, really, I cannot find any big problem with them. The role of the Opposition is to try to find, and scrutinize and criticize, but I really have a problem finding what is wrong with an Honourary Bencher being a member of the Society, that is, The Law Society, in good standing, who has held office for any period of time, becoming an Honourary Bencher, that is the office of Attorney General or Solicitor General. I mean, I really cannot find anything to criticize about that.

Now, I could make the observation, I do not suppose it could be construed, at all, that the Minister is in any kind of a conflict here, because he is not, because he has served more than twelve months, so he is not, really; but there could be some devious people who might try to, somehow, twist this, turn this, to suggest that the Minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Salary Estimates.

MR. SIMMS: No, no. It could be someone might try to twist it to suggest that the Minister should not even be voting on this because of a potential conflict, trying to benefit himself. I do not know. I mean, it is far-reaching, I admit. And I am not saying it. I do not want him to take a note, because I am not saying it. However, I know that my friend from St. John's East has a couple of comments to make, and he might be devious enough to say it, I do not know. Mischievous might be the appropriate word. I do not think he is devious but he might be mischievous or, in fact, he might be sincere, because he is a lawyer, you see, and he understands much better than I, what the implications might be.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, he has a very good point to make, and I urge members opposite to keep an open mind -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - on what my friend from St. John's East is going to say, because he makes a very good point - on the second amendment, I think, is where he wants to make his point, 2(4). And the Minister might prepare himself in advance of what the Member for St. John's East might say.

So, we have no real problem, although I doubt very much, Mr. Speaker, if this amendment is going to make the people dance in the streets tonight, once the word gets out that the amendment has been passed.

MR. RIDEOUT: Even the Honourary Benchers.

MR. SIMMS: I doubt very much if even the Honourary Benchers are going to dance in the street tonight, because it does not even do much for most of them, except for the poor Attorney General. Well, we do not have a Solicitor General, and I do not think we have ever had one, have we? But the poor Attorneys General of the Province who have not held office for twelve months will be dancing in the streets, but they are the only ones that I know of. Now, perhaps the Minister can tell me, not being a learned individual in that sense, but as the acting Justice critic, why does he not bring in an amendment to allow Justice critics, for example, to be Honourary Benchers? I am only joking about that. Could he tell me what Honourary Benchers do? Have Honourary Benchers ever in the last year, the last decade, the last century, have Honourary Benchers ever met together in a decision making role, in a decision making meeting, and if they have could he give us some idea of the kinds of decisions they would be asked to deal with, the kind of questions they might be asked to make a decision on? I would like to seriously know that. What is the purpose of an Honourary Bencher in other words? I believe the Liberal Government in Ontario under Mr. Peterson threw out QCs, if I recollect, threw out the QC designation. Now, if Ontario threw out the QC designation it seems to me even us lay persons heard about QC. We know that if a lawyer has QC behind his or her name, then that means something, generally speaking. It means something. Most of us lay people do not know what it means but we have heard of it. But how many of you, I say to Members opposite, how many of you have heard of Honourary Benchers?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: There you go, Mr. Speaker, I rest my case on that particular point. Maybe the Minister can tell us: what do Honourary Benchers do? Just in case the Minister cannot hear me would he tell me when the last meeting was held of the Honourary Benchers of the Province? For the interest of Members I assume by the way that the Minister should know, because I am saying to Members of this House today that the Minister is an Honourary Bencher. He is an Honourary Bencher, so these questions are very appropriate and pertinent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: My friend the Justice critic is a Honourary Bencher as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: Has she told you what she does?

MR. SIMMS: I did not ask her. I am acting in my role as the acting critic and I have asked the Minister. That is the role of the Legislature. I am sorry I did not get a chance to ask her because she had to rush away.

The second amendment is not a major problem for us. I have no real comment to make on that because I know my friend for St. John's East is. Now, I do not know if my friend for St. John's East might be an Honourary Bencher. He is not a former Treasurer of the Society is he? I know he is not a retired judge.

I know he has never served as Attorney General, and probably never will. I know he has not served as an Attorney General or a Solicitor General of Canada, and probably never will. So the only possibility was former treasurer, and he is not a former treasurer. But I draw eveybody's attention now to the second amendment, clause 4, and I will sit down because I know the Member for St. John's East is going to put some penetrating questions to the Minister. He might not even have a chance to answer them today, but if not he will answer them tomorrow I am sure.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is always nice to hear -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - what great esteem the legal profession is held by other Members of the House. I suppose going from the profession of lawyer to the profession of politician one wonders whether the same esteem is held for politicians as it is for lawyers.

MR. SIMMS: It is about the same.

MR. HARRIS: It is about the same I would imagine, yes.

I did want to say one or two words about this bill, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that, of course, we are conforming our laws to the consequences of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and this is in consequence of a decision that is gone to the Supreme Court of Canada concerning residency requirements.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: I am pleased to see that we are amending our legislation to conform to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There was a case before the Supreme Court of Canada where an individual was denied access to the Law Society of British Columbia on the basis of residency and that was considered to be contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It was overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada. I have no comment on the Honourary Benchers. Obviously its consistency is important and I know that our present Attorney General has already passed the twelve month rule so there is no conflict in him participating in that.

But I just want to say something about subsection 2, clause 4, if I have a moment. I guess the idea here really is to say that a person who is a Member of a House, whether the House of Assembly or the House of Parliament that that person is not non-practicing even though he or she may not be practicing. I suppose the only concern I have here, perhaps the Minister of Justice and I ought not to vote on this bill because both of us are members of the Law Society and we would potentially be a beneficiary of this particular piece of legislation. It seems to me to be a sensible thing -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: That is shocking.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is terrible (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - to - thank you, Mr. Speaker, for keeping the crowd quiet, but it seems to me to be a sensible piece of legislation and conforming our lot to the Charter and I have no objections to reform, but as I say, perhaps the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to speak in this House, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, it is, very difficult.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: I mean the Yahoos over here seem to start speaking when I start speaking and when I stop they stop; I do not know what kind of animals you have over there; they do not seem to be interested in hearing debate in the House, if they want to go and have a chat, go outside somewhere, go somewhere else.

So, Mr. Speaker, the legislation as it is, I have no objection to it, I would be interested in the Minister of Justice' comments, if he has any, on the propriety of members of the profession voting on such legislation, who are sitting in the House, because it may be something that would be inappropriate for members of the profession to vote on it, who are sitting in this House and I would ask him to comment on that in his closing remarks. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I commend the Member for St. John's East on his finely honed sensibilities on the question of conflict, but personally speaking, I have no conflict in whether or not we admit other Members of the Law Society; there are members admitted all the time, whether from Newfoundland, or outside or resident or not, I think it does not really affect my personal income, so, I have no real concern as to whether or not there is any conflict, I personally do not share the Member's view.

Other than that, I think that was the only serious issue raised by the hon. Member. I think that as a Member of the Law Society, I do not see that there is any particular concern about conflict, but if it is an issue that concerns him, then certainly he and I can pursue it in private and if there is any merit to it, I will certainly take it into consideration.

I commend the hon. Opposition House Leader on the fine display of legal sensibility shown here today and the profound insights offered on this momentous piece of legislation we have before us.

First of all, I am delighted that he has finally acknowledged that the role of Opposition is to find problems and not manufacture them. In this case, as regards conflict, I am very concerned with his allegation of conflict or possible conflict and then to immediately turn around and propose that we include him as an honourary bencher, I take it that, that was not offered and will not be offered as an amendment to the bill in due course, but as regards to any conflict, I do see any conflict in this particular bill although I cannot help but note that a former Minister at one point amended a QC Act to allow the Minister of Justice of the day to immediately become a QC, and if that is a meaningless title, as the hon. Member suggests, then that Member certainly moved on to what is often considered a much better known title, although it has money attached to it, it probably has less honour than that of QC. While people will not dance in the streets I note that, and I would like to perhaps end on this comment with respect to Honourary Benchers, the Opposition House Leader posed the question as to what do honourary benchers do and when do they meet. Well, Mr. Speaker, what can I say? One may as well ask: what does the sun do? What is the purpose of puppy dogs and pussy cats? Why is the grass green and the sea blue? Or, God forbid, in this House we should ask what do Opposition House Leaders do? Some questions are so evident by their very nature that they become rhetorical so I need offer nothing else in reply to that. Therefore I move second reading.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Law Society Act, 1977," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 5)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, we will call it 5:00 o'clock.

I just want to point out a couple of things. My intention beyond those two second readings we did today is to move to the tax on tobacco, the imposition of tax on tobacco. I do not have any interest at this point in time, Mr. Speaker, and I am not in conflict because it does not apply to me. And after the tobacco tax I intend to move to second readings of the two pension bills, numbers six and seven, as well as the other three justice bills, numbers two, three, and four; these are generally what my intentions are over the next week.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) pension bills.

MR. BAKER: The two pension bills, six and seven, and then the three justice bills, two, three and four. The loan bill will be left there for awhile.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I believe that an Estimates Committee schedule has been circulated, or there are copies available at the table. Tomorrow, Tuesday, in the a.m. at 9:30 in the House there is a meeting of the Legislative Review Committee, and at night in the House the Estimates of the Department of Employment and Labour Relations, and in the Colonial Building the Department of Mines and Energy will be examined. On Wednesday the intention is that at night p.m. in the House the Department of Social Services, and on Thursday there is a Legislative Review Committee meeting in the House in the morning and at the same time the Department of Development will be examined in the Colonial Building, and in the evening at 7:00 p.m. in the House, the Department of Education and in the Colonial Building, Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

That is the intended schedule for the rest of this week and the intended schedule for the two weeks is at Members disposal. I should point out to Members that quite often changes occur, extra meetings get put in, and so on, so I will keep Members updated as much as possible from day to day.

On motion the House at its rising do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I just received this a little while ago so I have not had a chance to go through it. I do note that on a couple of occasions in the evening there are two Departments being done, and I know we have always tried to avoid in the past having two Departments, mostly for the benefit of the press, as I recall. Remember we tried to accommodate the press by not having two meetings going on at the same time. For example, next Wednesday there is nothing on at night and there are some occasions where there are two meetings on. I do not know if there is any chance of having a further look at it but I will leave it at that for now.

The other point I want to make is the intent tomorrow to call the bills on pensions.

MR. SIMMS: My understanding is that - Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: The tobacco tax.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, well, the tobacco tax, I would not anticipate - I cannot speak totally on behalf of the caucus yet, because we have not really discussed it thoroughly, but I have a funny feeling, a sneaky feeling, that there will not be a big debate on that from this side, at least, and I am absolutely certain there will be no debate on it from the other side; so we may get through that one fairly quickly. Then, I think he said he intended to call Pensions after that.

Now, my understanding is that the Committee is still hearing briefs.

MR. BAKER: Tomorrow morning - this is not material.

MR. SIMMS: No, but it is material. The point I am trying to make - Can I make the point before you say it is not material? What I am saying is that there are three groups coming in tomorrow. There are three groups coming in tomorrow, as I understand it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Two, tomorrow morning.

MR. SIMMS: Two? Okay, I heard three.

Are there any other groups coming in after that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: How do you know? I mean, what if somebody says they would like to hear?

MR. BAKER: It is immaterial.

MR. SIMMS: It is not. My point is that we should not be debating the legislation in the House if the Committee is still taking views and opinions from people outside. Well a point of privilege, the member says. I just want to let him know now that we are not happy with that, not that it makes any difference to him, I know, but, in terms of fairness and balance, I do not think it is appropriate. In terms of fairness and balance, it does not fit in, in my view.

I also want to advise the House, Mr. Speaker, as we always do, that the motion we will be debating on Wednesday is the notice given today by the Member for Harbour Main, about Municipal Affairs cutbacks. Anybody who did not hear it can read Hansard tomorrow, I guess. That is it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my understanding in terms of the Pension legislation, is that all the hearings are finished on Bill No. 6, Order 5. The hearings have been completed on that for quite some time, and it is only a matter of the Committee getting together and deciding on their final report, which, hopefully, will be done within a couple of weeks. So, the hearings have been held on that.

MR. DOYLE: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: I am surprised, I am really shocked, that the Member for Harbour Main, who has been in this House a long time, and, who, as a Cabinet Minister, should have some understanding of the legislative process, has no understanding and is exhibiting no understanding of that process. The amendments that come up through the Committee process will be handled during the Committee stage, and that is only sensible. That is where it was always intended to be. There was never, ever, ever, since I have been in this House, any discussion in terms of the legislative committees that indicated the House could not proceed with second reading while the hearings were being held. Whether we have second reading or not, has no bearing on what is going on in the committees.

Now, if we were to proceed to the Committee stage and go through the stage where amendments could be made, without taking into account the committee deliberations, then members opposite would have a point to raise and would be able to chastise the Government House Leader and the Government for doing that, and, from time to time, we have had to do it. However, I do not see where there is the urgency to have all of the committee hearings over with and the report in, before the second reading stage. I do not understand the necessity for that.

So, Mr. Speaker, my intention was to do any changes during the Committee stage, in the House.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m.