November 22, 1991         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 76

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before preceding with the routine business, on behalf of hon. Members I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly today sixty-five Levels I and II students from Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts, accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Corbett Newman and Mr. Claude Taylor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. On several occasions in several months the Minister and the Premier have spoken in sort of general terms of the need for a Federal/Provincial joint management agreement with respect to the fisheries. I am wondering if the Minister could inform the Legislature what management role does Government want for the Province under such an agreement?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, yes, the Province of course feels strongly that there must be at least the opportunity for a far greater input on the part of the Province into the Federal decision making as it relates to the fishery. We have prepared a document outlining the Province's thoughts in that regard. That document will be made public at the appropriate time. I had occasion yesterday to discuss the matter briefly with my Federal counterpart. On the agenda of the Ministers' meeting, which I attended yesterday, there was an item having to do with the restructuring of his Department. While there has been nothing firmed up yet, I can only report to the House that it is obvious that the Minister does have some plans to maybe restructure the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Maybe not going as far as the Province would like to go, but certainly I have been assured by him that the representations made by the Newfoundland Government will be taken into consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I sort of did not get anywhere close to an answer about joint management, which was the question to the Minister. Does the Minister intend to present detailed proposals to the House for debate on this very important issue? Will Members have the opportunity to have some input and discuss and see really what way the Province is going? If the Minister intends to table these proposals for debate, when can we expect to see that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I should point out that the Province is talking about joint management, not total jurisdiction. It would be ludicrous to even discuss the prospects of the Province assuming full jurisdiction for the fishery given the implications of that kind of an undertaking. But certainly the Province is interested in joint management, maybe along the lines of the Offshore Petroleum Board. That has been suggested to be maybe a model that can be used and we have given a lot of thought to it, the people in my department and in the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, and it seems that there is an area there where we can maybe come up with a joint management board along the same lines. It would work very effectively. As to the possibility of debating it in the House, I would certainly have no objection to such a debate.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Minister for the answer. I was trying to get a reply from the Minister as to whether or not members would have an opportunity, between now and Christmas perhaps, to have a look and have a debate on this very, very important issue for the Province, as we all agree.

I would like to ask the Minister a further supplementary: Has the Minister discussed joint management of the fishery with governments of the other Maritime Provinces; and has there been any discussions or proposals at the ministerial level for a joint management agreement for the Atlantic region; and is the Minister prepared to conduct a Federal/Atlantic region agreement rather than a Federal/Newfoundland agreement? I have received some indication that it is very possible that we may see an Atlantic/Ottawa agreement as opposed to a Newfoundland agreement. Can the Minister give us any indication whether or not there may be something coming down the pipe on that?

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

MR. CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There have been considerable discussions with other people. The Premier and I met with Premier Cameron in Nova Scotia a few weeks ago. The night before last I met with the Deputy Minister of Fisheries for Nova Scotia. The Premier tells me that he met with Premier Cameron again the day before yesterday. He and I are meeting today to discuss the outcome of that discussion. From Newfoundland's point of view, I do not think it would be in our best interest to become part of an Atlantic Provinces Federal board as such. There is nothing to stop the other provinces from doing exactly what Newfoundland wants to do. We have made that known to the other provinces, particularly to Nova Scotia, and of course to the Federal minister as well.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I am having difficulty following what the Minister is saying, because it is conceivable that you could have five Provincial/Ottawa agreements with the four Atlantic Provinces and Quebec individually going into agreements with the Federal Government on joint management for the fisheries.

Could the Minister explain for the Legislature why these discussions are ongoing, or what is the purpose of discussions with Premier Cameron and the Minister of Fisheries with Nova Scotia? I mean if Newfoundland is sincere about a Newfoundland/Ottawa joint management agreement, where does Nova Scotia fit in the issue? That is what I cannot understand. We are certainly not going to enter into an agreement with them. So what is the purpose of the discussions with Nova Scotia? Could the Minister inform the House of that?

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

MR. CARTER: I was getting a little worried there for a moment, Mr. Speaker. I sort of got the impression that the hon. gentleman was promoting the cause of Nova Scotia on this issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, my responsibility as Minister of Fisheries and the responsibility of this Government is to the people of this Province and to the fishermen of Newfoundland. Of course therein must lie our main concern, and that is why we are talking about a Canada/Newfoundland management board. Now he asks why are we talking to the other provinces. Well, certainly we do not want to appear to be going behind the backs of any other province or of being greedy maybe. Newfoundland is quite willing, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, if they want an answer I will give it to them, if not I will take my seat. Newfoundland is quite willing to recognize the historic rights of other countries or other provinces, whatever the case might be, but certainly we recognize the need for a special board for Newfoundland. Newfoundland is depending on the fishery more than any other province of Canada, and that is why we believe that Newfoundland has a special case for such a management board.

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

MR. WINSOR: My question is to the same Minister. Since the Minister just said that he is primarily responsible for the fishermen of this Province, he is obviously aware of the hardship that fishermen experienced this summer. Most of them were not able to make their payments through the 20 - 25 per cent catch assignment to the Fisheries Loan Board. Many of them are in arrears. Letters and calls are coming daily from the collections people asking for this years payments. Has the Minister recommended to Cabinet a programme that will consist of not only deferment of payment for a year, but have the Government do something to alleviate the interest costs that are going on the loans, adding to an already fairly large debt that these fishermen are carrying? Would the Minister give that some thought and consideration?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I have indicated on several occasions both inside and outside the House just what the Province is willing to do in terms of accommodating fishermen who, through no fault of their own this year will maybe find it difficult to meet their commitments to the Fisheries Loan Board.

I have said publicly and I will say again, that in cases where, a fisherperson, a fisherman or a fisherwoman, can demonstrate to the Department of Fisheries and to the Fisheries Loan Board their inability to meet their payments, through no fault of their own, then the Fisheries Loan Board will be quite willing to consider a deferral of principal and interest to accommodate that situation, and that appears, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


- that appears to be satisfying most of the fishermen who have contacted us. I have said before, we are not in the business of repossessing fishing boats or driving fishermen into bankruptcy so we will do all we can to accommodate them this year.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister should talk to his officials at the Fisheries Loan Board because that is only deferring principal; interest is being added to the existing debt that they already have. Mr. Speaker, you are not deferring interest, you are adding the interest to debt for the next year.

Take this a bit further: besides the Fisheries Loan Board, there is the Bank Loan Guarantee Program for fishermen who have debt of more than $50,000. Mr. Speaker, some of these people have debt up to $500,000 and $600,000. This year, they were obviously unable to make payments. The program allows for the deferment of payment for one year with the interest being added to the principal. Mr. Speaker, some people have already have this interest applied on one occasion and now will have it for the second time. What does the minister intend to do for these people who are adding to their debt, just on interest payments, in some cases, $30,000 or $40,000 a year? What is the minister going to do for these people? Is there any plan going to Cabinet, so he can give some measure of assistance to these people?

MR. WARREN: Yes. Burn your boats.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the fisheries loans are now dealt with on a two-phase arrangement. One, of course, the Fisheries Loan Board makes direct loans to fishermen under $50,000 and I have already indicated to the House that in cases where these loans are going in arrears through no fault of the fisherman and when that fisherman asks that there be a deferral, then we would accommodate them.

Now, we have another program, where loans over $50,000 are arranged through a chartered bank and, of course, the Province guarantees the loans. We have indicated, Mr. Speaker, publicly and in other ways, that if a fisherman in that category, who has a $50,000 or more bank loan, who, through no fault of his own, cannot make this year's payments, then an arrangement would be worked out. Now, I don't know what more the Fisheries Loan Board can do. We will work with the fishermen to ensure that no hardship comes to that person and that some arrangement will be worked out with the chartered bank to accommodate them in this time of crisis.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo on a supplementary.

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

The Federal Government announced new licensing plans about a year ago and one of the provisions calls for the elimination of all part-time fishermen except for new entries into the fishery. Are the Provincial Government and the minister supportive of this policy of elimination of all part-time fishermen? Furthermore, what kind of representation, if any, did he make to the Federal Licensing Division on the elimination of part-time fishermen?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, officials of my department are constantly in discussion with their federal counterparts, talking about pretty well all aspects of the fishing industry. Within a few weeks, we will be tabling in this House our White Paper and, in that White Paper, Mr. Speaker, we will be addressing the question of harvesting licenses, part-time fishermen, the Province's position with respect to who should get a license, and maybe who should not. I am afraid he will have to wait until that White Paper is tabled, which shouldn't be too long now, maybe another two weeks.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo, on a further supplementary.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a case of shutting the barn door when the animal is out because the federal Fisheries have already decided that this is the last year for part-time fishermen. At the end of this season it is finished. I asked the minister, Is he is supportive of this plan for the elimination of part-time fishermen? It is simple. Is he supportive of this plan?

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

MR. CARTER: I think it is obvious now to most Newfoundlanders that we are going to have to take a hard look at what is happening in the fishery in terms of part-time fishermen. We have as many registered part-time fishermen as we have full-time fishermen, so there is going to have to be some arrangement whereby that number will be decreased. The Province is, as I said, having discussions with the Federal Government. We have addressed it extensively in our White Paper and the hon. gentleman will know soon where we stand on the issue.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Premier. Yesterday when I asked the Premier about Government's proposal to amalgamate Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, the Premier indicated that Government will honour the wishes of the majority of people of the three municipalities, Corner Brook, Massey Drive, and Mount Moriah.

My question now is: How and when will the Premier determine the will of the citizens of the three municipalities? Will the Government conduct a plebiscite and, if so, how and when?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, you only really need to conduct a plebiscite if you are not satisfied that the preponderance of support is one way or the other. My perception of the position to date is that prior to now the City Council of Corner Brook and the people of Corner Brook, the overwhelming majority, have wanted amalgamation.

The hon. member can shake her head if she likes, that is clearly the perception that most people I have talked to in Corner Brook have. She is as out of touch with that as she is with how people feel about the mill in Corner Brook. In any event, Mr. Speaker, you would only go to or use a plebiscite if you were not satisfied one way or the other.

Now, the City Council in Corner Brook has recently been saying that they are concerned about it placing an additional burden on Corner Brook, and if it is going to place an additional burden on Corner Brook which the Province is not going to compensate them for, they may want to think again about what their preferences are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, if they do, that is okay. That doesn't bother me, if that is what they want. But I can tell them the Government is not going to pay Corner Brook or pay the area to amalgamate Massey Drive, Mount Moriah and Corner Brook. We will not pay the citizens to amalgamate. If the majority want to amalgamate, we will help them facilitate the amalgamation, but we will not purchase the amalgamation.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, what I hear the Premier saying now is basically he is not paying any attention to the wishes of the citizens, the individual people, in Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah. He is being guided solely by his back room discussions with the Council of Corner Brook, and more precisely the Mayor of Corner Brook. This has been dragging on for twenty-eight months. When is the Premier finally going to resolve the matter and allow the councils and the individual citizens in the area to get on with their lives, to allow the councils to plan their budgets for the next fiscal year which starts in six weeks?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the Government is not dragging it on. When the councils and the people of Massey Drive, Mount Moriah and Corner Brook want amalgamation, they can have it. When they do not want to want it, they do not have to have it. It is really for them to decide. The Government is not going to force it on Massey Drive, Corner Brook and Mount Moriah. It is for them to decide, not us, and the council knows that. They have been told that. The councils of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah have all been told that. I don't know if the member is totally out of touch or what, but the councils know it and it is really up to them to make the decision.

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Health. Maybe the minister can give us a little bit of additional information here. There were discussions back some time ago with regard to St. Clare's and the Grace. Does it remain the intent of Government to eliminate one or both and merge the two into a single hospital service with one administration and possibly, subsequently, one single facility?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have to sort of correct the hon. Member's assumptions. It never was the Government's intention to eliminate any hospital. We come at the problem from this angle. We have to decide how many adult acute care beds we need in the City of St. John's, and we need somewhere in the vicinity of 900 to 1,000. Now, how are we going to deliver these beds? At the moment they are being delivered by three adult acute care hospitals. One of these hospitals, which happens to be the Grace, is in a poor state of repair, and we are going to either have to go with a new structure or we are going to have to make accommodations at the other two facilities.

At this moment, the St. John's Hospital Council is looking at whether there can be any cost saving to Government; whether we can deliver the high level of care that we want to deliver in the Province; whether we can do that by what is referred to in the media as option 10, with beds added to the General Hospital and to Clare's. They are also reworking option 7, which would have had a building erected on the north side of LeMarchant Road, to accommodate a separate Grace Hospital and a separate St. Clare's Hospital with an in-between building for operating rooms and various equipment.

So, at this moment, the St. John's Hospital Council is evaluating the two options to see which would be the most cost-effective for Government and see which could deliver the top, high level of care that this Province and this Government are so anxious to deliver to our people, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Following on that, could the minister also tell us what the plans are to merge the two schools of nursing? Well, actually, there are three, but what are the plans to merge the Grace and St. Clare's and maybe the General school of nursing, and by what date does the minister see that type of plan being implemented?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, when we took over government - in the nick of time -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: - we found in the Province's health care system an awful lot of duplications which were, in the long run, costing the people of this Province extra money. So we attempted to take out the duplications wherever we could without having a detrimental impact on the services that were offered.

In the case of the schools of nursing - and the hon. member is quite correct, there are three schools of nursing associated with the hospitals, and there is also a school of nursing at the university which gives a university degree - we are actively pursuing the concept of putting one school of nursing in the City of St. John's, Mr. Speaker.

At the moment, Government has a committee in place which is looking at the role of nursing in the Province in the future. That committee, in close association with the Association of Registered Nurses and with the three hospitals that are offering the nursing programs, is actively pursuing whether or not we can bring these three nursing schools under the one administration, hopefully in the one place. Mr. Speaker, the day that I can stand up in this House and say that is a fait accompli, I am sure there will be shouting and screaming in the streets. People will be delighted to know that one more duplication has been taken out, and a better service will be offered, Mr. Speaker, so that our nurses can continue to be second to none anywhere in this great country of ours.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that this issue has been on the go for quite some time. I guess it has been studied now almost two years. Since the issue has been on the go for quite some time, does the minister have information from studies to tell them how much money, if any, will be saved by merging these facilities, the hospitals he is talking about and the three schools of nursing, to create one separate facility? Are there any study documents that can be tabled, or made available to the House, that deals with these issues?

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

MR. DECKER: No, Mr. Speaker, we don't have the documents yet.

Now, Mr. Speaker, on the whole issue of merging the hospitals or merging the schools of nursing, looking at it as a layman, your first reaction would be that there should be some savings by amalgamating either hospitals or schools of nursing. That is a logical assumption that a person would make; however, this Government is not prepared to make decisions based on assumptions, gut feelings or public reaction. We want to have absolute facts, Mr. Speaker, when we make a decision. We want to make a right decision, not whether or not it is politically expedient or whether some people want it done. We want to make the right decision. Before we can make the right decision we have to collect our facts. In the case of the hospitals, we are collecting our facts, and hopefully, by the end of this calendar year or early in the new year, we should have the facts whereby we can say this is right. I would think, by early spring, we should have the facts on whether or not there is a saving in amalgamating all three schools, but, more importantly, Mr. Speaker, can we still deliver the same level of care we want to deliver, and maybe a better level of care, and a better level of education to our nursing students? That is the important thing, but we are doing it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, farmers throughout the Island, particularly on the West Coast of the Island, have been complaining about the proliferation of coyote in the Province. They have been in the Province for a few years, and have been sighted throughout the Province from the Northern Peninsula, even on the Southern Shore of the Province, and on the Avalon Peninsula. Mr. Speaker, they are known to prey on sheep, lambs, small game, and even beef calves. Indeed, there is documented proof that they have attacked and slaughtered lambs in the Cormack area recently. I was wondering if the minister was aware of this menace and this problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The answer is yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware that coyotes are, indeed, in the Province. If the hon. member has documented proof that there were killings in the Cormack area by coyotes, then I would appreciate his providing that to my officials because, although we have heard of sightings and kills all around the Province, it has never been conclusively determined that it was coyotes as opposed to foxes or dogs. So there is no -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) sheep (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Port au Port should get together with his seatmate, because the Member for Port au Port specifically said 'sheep'.


MR. FLIGHT: Lambs. So, Mr. Speaker, there have been lamb kills in the Province, but it has not been conclusively proven whether it is roaming dogs, fox, or other predators. So, Mr. Speaker, we do not have conclusive evidence that coyotes have actually made kills in the Province, and there have been very few documented cases of coyotes having been spotted or identified in the Province.

MR. HODDER: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port on a supplementary.

MR. HODDER: The minister should contact the farmers in Cormack and on the Cormack pasture. Mr. Speaker, whether there is conclusive evidence of kills or not, the minister has admitted that there are coyotes in the Province. They were found in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, about fifteen years ago. Is the minister aware that Shane Mahoney, a noted wildlife biologist in his department I think, has said that the coyotes could impact on the caribou in this Province, particularly on the calving grounds in spring, and that he believes they can bring down a full-grown caribou? Is he aware of the threat to the Province's caribou?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of a lot of observations that Mr. Mahoney has made about various aspects of wildlife. As a matter of fact, it is a wildlife issue at this time to try to determine the extent of the coyote population in Newfoundland and Labrador. We will do whatever can be done to control and to eradicate the population if and when we are aware of the population levels that (inaudible). At this point in time, unless the hon. member can stand up now and suggest to me, as Acting Minister of Wildlife, what I should do, and how I should attack the problem - all we have at this point is sightings, we do not have evidence of coyotes being taken in the Province, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port, on a supplementary.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am amazed at the lack of information of the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, has he spoken to his counterparts in PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where this same problem happened fifteen years ago? They have only been in the Province for two or three years, but the same problems arise here. They are in the Province. The minister has admitted it. Since the animal is a prolific breeder, and in view of the fact that the population in Nova Scotia exploded over a fifteen year period - in Nova Scotia now, if the member knew what was going on, you can't keep a cat or dog outside in some areas of the Province. They have been taken away by coyotes.

What I am asking -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member, please, to pose the question.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, will the minister take steps now to curb this population explosion while it is in a stage where it can be controlled - before it explodes? Will the minister take steps, and will he do it now, before it is too late?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I will check with my officials after this Question Period. If I heard the member right, he suggested that you could not put a cat or a dog outside your house now without it being attacked by coyotes.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is watching too much 'Bugs bunny'.

MR. FLIGHT: Again, one is tempted, Mr. Speaker - I spent the best part of twelve years in this hon. House as a member of the Opposition. Up until the end of that twelve years, the government then was blaming everything on the previous administration. Mr. Speaker, we have been here for two years. I would like to throw it around and ask if the population levels of the coyote he talks about have happened the past two years? I do not ever recall a question being asked in this House, or the problem of coyotes in Newfoundland being addressed, so I suppose it must be a phenomenon that happened this past year or so. I will ask my officials whether or not it is true, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would like to resolve this coyote situation. There seems to be a lot of noise around so I ask the Minister to please clue it up very quickly.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I will ask my officials to determine whether there is such a population explosion as the Member refers to and whether indeed it is dangerous and risky to put your pets outside your door in St. John's, Corner Brook, Stephenville, or on the Port au Port Peninsula. I will definitely, Mr. Speaker, instruct my officials to increase their efforts, as they are now putting a lot of effort into determining the level of the coyote population in Newfoundland and looking at ways to eradicate the coyotes before they do get started.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Before carrying on again with our routine business, on behalf of hon. members, I would like to extend a warm and cordial welcome to several groups of students who have come in since the Question Period began. First, we would like to welcome to the House, ten students from the School for the Deaf, accompanied by Mr. John Reade, the National Director of the Association of Canadian Education for the Hearing Impaired, and their teacher, Des McCarthy, Commanding Officer, Cadet Corp. for the students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, thirty Grade IX students from St. Peter's Elementary School, Mount Pearl, accompanied by their teacher, Mary Sullivan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 14, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 14, the continuation of the adjourned debate on Bill (50).

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, when I adjourned the debate yesterday, I was talking about the regional services that would be provided in the Northeast Avalon region, and as the bill outlines and identifies most of the major regional services that could be delivered on a regional basis, a water supply, sewage disposal systems, storm drainage, solid waste disposal, public transportation, recreation facilities, fire protection and other facilities or services of a regional nature that are designated by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

Mr. Speaker, we have this legislation in place for the Northeast Avalon or we are debating this legislation, but we also have regional services and regional government legislation for that matter in the municipalities and cities acts to be used in areas where it is deemed necessary and advisable. Questions have been asked of me in this House on prior occasions as to why we have not enacted and used regional services legislation. I would like to remind some Members of the House that in fact, we have used the legislation.

Presently we have six areas of the Province where agreements are underway or are being drawn up right now to facilitate the management and administration of regional recreation facilities, so the same legislation that we put in place for regional government or regional authorities to deliver all the services I have identified in this act, that same legislation of course is there for recreation as well, and those six areas of the Province where arenas or swimming pools are going to be constructed or rehabilitated will have agreements in place between the municipalities in the area, between each other, and of course the regional recreation administration committee or a corporation or whatever is set up to run the particular facility.

The responsibility of course, ultimately will fall on the municipalities to be responsible for the operations of these facilities, because it will be unlikely that any of them will operate without some deficit, because, to date of course, our experience with recreation facilities throughout the Province is very difficult with our scattered and remote population in most areas, except for the larger urban areas, it is very difficult to have these facilities break even.

So, Mr. Speaker, the legislation is being used and will be used more in the future, and I have given examples of how we can use it for water supplies. The Grand Falls area is an example, Grand Falls - Windsor - Bishop's Falls, where hopefully very soon the Federal Government will finally say that they have approved the project, although they told us before they did, and for some reason or other there was a snag there, some problem there. But assuming it passes through Treasury Board okay, we will have the facility in Grand Falls - Windsor - Bishop's Falls, we have the Corner Brook rehabilitation area to do there, and we will have the Placentia area. Mr. Speaker, the two areas, Grand Falls - Windsor and Placentia, will require agreements, and we will use our legislation on regional authorities for that purpose.

Mr. Speaker, questions have been asked in this House over the last few days concerning Corner Brook, and I might just throw in Stephenville and Deer Lake, if I may, because those are three major areas that we have to make decisions on very soon. Mr. Speaker, I have committed that by the end of this calender year we will have a decision on the remaining areas proposed for amalgamation. We have some fourteen areas left comprising approximately thirty communities that we have to make decisions on. Mr. Speaker, we understand the urgency of a decision, but I might remind this House that two years ago or so I was accused of going too quickly with amalgamation. This Government and myself, as Minister, slowed it down considerably, and for good reason: To give dialogue; to give opportunity for discussion; to have public hearings; to meet with the people; to meet with the councils; and to make sure at the end of the day we made the right decision, Mr. Speaker, in each one of these groupings. I think that was a good exercise. I think the fact that we have -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair wants to carry on with the point it has been making in the last couple of days. Maybe some members were absent when the Chair was making it. The Chair wants to make the point that the Chair has been discouraging people from turning their back to the Chair. I am sure a lot of hon. members were not present, so I just want to make that point clear, that the Chair has been pushing that point in the last couple of days, that members not turn their backs to the Chair, either literally or otherwise.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GULLAGE: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, I think having slowed down the process considerably has helped tremendously.

Mr. Speaker, not only have we taken the time to carry out proper dialogue with the communities, but when a decision has been taken, we have put in place transition teams where representatives of the communities being amalgamated have the opportunity to nominate two members of their council or a council member and their town clerk, or some member from their administration, to sit with and to work with my officials so that the transition period from two or three communities to one larger community is facilitated properly.

Mr. Speaker, that has been working very, very well. We have had co-operation from the communities involved. It has been a lot of work because we have had to make staff available from my Department, sometimes on a moment's notice, to meet with these committees and to discuss whatever happens to be the problem at the time. In one case it might be a need for advice on planning, and in another case it might be a need for advice on merging the staffs of the various towns. Another situation may require advice on capital works and planning for capital works for the new town. We have made that staff available, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the amalgamation proceeds properly and smoothly.

Mr. Speaker, that is not required in the Act. The Municipalities Act is totally silent on whether or not that sort of procedure should take place. Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact the Act, if you were to follow it strictly, would see amalgamations take place very, very quickly as happened in the past. No government has ever taken the time that this Government has with amalgamation, with the groupings. I think that is fair to say. I do not think that can be argued, Mr. Speaker. I do not think a previous government has ever taken the time we have in discussion, even in the feasibility process. We have even lengthened that process. No government has ever taken the time in the feasibility process and after, before arriving at a decision, before making a final decision to ensure that the decision is the right one. As I mentioned, we have some fourteen groupings left.

Involved in those groupings of course is the one mentioned today, Corner Brook. Corner Brook is a situation where we have, much like St. John's, a larger area, a city, comprised of some 23,000 or 24,000 people, surrounded by communities - Mount Moriah, Massey Drive, being two of them, but there are many others of course in the area but these are the two in close proximity. To a large extent we are seeing people going to these communities rather than live in Corner Brook. Corner Brook of course has a higher tax rate, has to provide for all of the services in the area, the main services are provided by the core area, as happens in the St. John's area, and they have to bear the brunt of the cost.

There is a fear of course on the part of the council of Corner Brook that their costs will go up, that their taxes will go up, if they are amalgamated with Mount Moriah and Massey Drive. We have had considerable discussions, ongoing discussions. I have been meeting with the council of Corner Brook consistently, talking about their upcoming budget, about 1992, and that is not unusual. Because I would be doing that anyway, as I do it with other municipalities throughout the Province. Making sure that they can prepare their budgets properly and address their need for taxation, their need for revenue to meet their expenditures.

So it is not unusual to see that Corner Brook would have a concern that if they are amalgamated with their neighbours, Mount Moriah and Massey Drive, that they are able to handle that situation, that they are able to absorb those two areas, and see them merge together properly. So we have been taking the time to have those discussions with the three communities, not just with Corner Brook.

But Corner Brook is the main player. They do have the greater population, they have a very difficult, unique problem in this Province. Corner Brook is a city that has very difficult topography, very difficult and expensive to provide services, in comparison to most other urban areas of the Province. St. John's has a difficulty too, of course, because of its terrain and topography, but Corner Brook has a very difficult circumstance that they have - particularly in latter years - been trying to deal with. A very high mil rate, the highest mil rate in the Province, I would suggest, given their tax base. In comparison I would think to most of the urban areas, and the opportunities for revenue, Corner Brook has a very difficult situation in delivering services and keeping their taxation levels reasonable for their people.

So we are taking the time to make sure that when a decision is finally made on Corner Brook that it is the right decision. I think that time and discussion are worthwhile. I do agree that we have to make a decision, and we will have one if at all possible by the end of this calendar year. That would be true as well of Stephenville and Deer Lake, the other two larger areas, if you like, left for decision making. That would leave only nine more groupings in the Province and I would think that with - I think I can say that most likely we would have all groupings with decisions made by the end of this calendar year.

Getting back to the Northeast Avalon again, I want to mention as far as the St. John's Fire Department is concerned, that this fire department has always been a regional fire department. Now granted it is called the St. John's Fire Department. That is unfortunate. Because it probably should always have been called the St. John's Regional Fire Department, which is really what it is. It covers the entire region and has jurisdiction over the entire region. That jurisdiction for the region was recognized two and a half years ago when we took Government, and that is the important and salient point when we discuss fire fighting in the Northeast Avalon. The point has been made recently that the Government is not allowing Mount Pearl to have a fire fighting service, the implication has been made, as if a fire fighting service did not exist. Mr. Speaker, that is misleading and wrong because the St. John's Fire Department, which is truly a regional fire department, has always covered off Mount Pearl. Mount Pearl has been part of that fire department for a long time and the people of Mount Pearl have been provided with fire protection by the St. John's Fire Department, so the implication that we are taking away a fire service, or denying a fire station, is totally wrong. We are saying, and properly so, that the regionalization of fire fighting is important and should continue in the Northeast Avalon region, and continuing in that fire fighting in the region, continuing as a partner, Mount Pearl should be there. They are paying their share now of the fire fighting services as all other partners are and are a partner to the agreement to do that presently with the Province and should be part of an agreement to do that, Mr. Speaker, when the St. John's regional service is operative shortly.

Mr. Speaker, we have said from the beginning, and I want to quote my own comments. I am going back to September 14, 1990 when I wrote to the council of Mount Pearl, 'I would like to feel confident that whatever approach is taken, either individually by communities or corporately, that the approach will be the one making the most economic sense and delivering the very best service to the area. Accordingly, I would appreciate the co-operation of the city of Mount Pearl in not proceeding any further in relation to this development, including the postponement of the hiring of staff until we have had a chance to determine what is the best policy for the region and how the individual units within it are going to tie into that policy.' Mr. Speaker, you could not be any clearer than that in my letter to the city of Mount Pearl and to the council of Mount Pearl asking them not to proceed to man the fire station, to await the deliberations of the feasibility process, to await a decision. We said from the beginning, as I have already said, that the regionalization of fire-fighting and other services in the Northeast Avalon was important and should continue. It is not as if we were starting something that was not in place. It was in place anyway. We were delivering a fire fighting service, water supply, waste disposal, transportation, the bus system. These are all regional in nature now, and we are not regionalizing these services for the first time. We are simply confirming that regionalization, the approach of sharing costs, and sharing services is an important one and should continue. If we were to fragment that and have everybody in the Northeast Avalon region providing their own service, whatever it happened to be, we would be doing so not in the best interest of the people and at enormous cost, Mr. Speaker. We would be turning back the clock and going back to the 20s or 30s when we had divided units, when services were very haphazard and we would not be acting in the best interest of the people overall in the Northeast Avalon. Regionalization of these services and providing them on a basis where cost efficiency and rationalization and economies of scale are achieved is very, very important, and this Government has recognized that. There is no question that administratively we will see savings, we will see all of these services delivered by the largest community in the Province, by the city of St. John's which has the administrative capability to do it. They will be adding staff, of course, from some of the amalgamated units. Some of the staff of the St. John's Metro Board, particularly the engineering staff, and other staff as well, will be joining the city of St. John's and will be part of the delivery of these regional services that they were providing before to some extent as members of Metro Board, because Metro Board had a large responsibility, particularly for the water supply in the Northeast Avalon; so, Mr. Speaker, regionalization of services is something that has been ongoing in this region; we are simply confirming now that it should continue and continue under the management of the city of St. John's, with of course, the mayors of the adjoining communities being part of the decision making process, sitting with the city council of St. John's when these regional services are being discussed and when rates are being fixed, so they will be part of the process.

The alternative would be to set up another level of bureaucracy; a regional services board or a regional government in fact, which is provided for in the Act, but we did not have any support for that in the hearings and the feasibility process. We had some expressions of interest after we made our decisions, where, some of the communities were not happy, particularly Mount Pearl. The city of Mount Pearl's council said we would like to have a regional board, but prior to that, back in the hearings process, they wanted no part of a board; nobody wanted regional services on a basis of a regional services authority or regional government and we adhered to that wish, Mr. Speaker and we of course concluded, on the recommendations of the commissions and our own deliberations that the right way to go would be not to create that extra level of bureaucracy, not that it is not going to be necessary in some areas of the Province, and for other reasons, and I gave examples earlier of recreation, where certainly we would need to have an authority set up in these areas, but, Mr. Speaker, in this area, in the St. John's, in the Northeast Avalon area, that level of bureaucracy is not necessary, particularly when we have an administrative structure already in place in the city of St. John's which is quite capable of handling it and I am sure we will have the co-operation of all the communities involved in decision making as far as services that should be delivered regionally, and communities I would think would want to access some of these services regionally from time to time and will come forward and say they want to be part of a regional service if it is to benefit their community and they are not part of that service particularly now.

So I think we will see co-operation, Mr. Speaker. I think that the communities involved in the Northeast Avalon amalgamation - some of them are not being amalgamated of course; a lot of them, particularly the rural ones, are being left substantially as they are. The communities from Middle Cove, Outer Cove, Logy Bay, right around the coast, right to St. Phillips, Portugal Cove, all those communities are being left as they are; CBS is not being amalgamated with its neighbours; Petty Harbour, Maddox Cove are being left as they are, so we are not doing a total amalgamation in Northeast Avalon, Mr. Speaker, we are doing amalgamation as far as St. Phillips/Portugal Cove is concerned and we are bringing together Paradise, St. Thomas' and the metro area of Topsail Pond and Three Island Pond, along with of course, the amalgamation in the St. John's area where the Goulds and Wedgewood Park are being joined to St. John's.

Mr. Speaker, we have also accomplished a great deal. We seem to focus entirely in our deliberations on the amalgamation of communities, but there is a lot more than that being achieved in the Northeast Avalon. If we are to look at the fact that we will no longer have a Metropolitan Area Board, where half of the Board was appointed representatives from member councils and the other half appointed by the Province, well that Board and its administrative structure now will disappear.

We will, in place of it, having joined the lands of Metro Board and having joined the communities that are part of Metro Board to one of the amalgamated groupings, we will see, these people for the first time having directly elected representation on the councils that they are going to be represented by and in the communities that they are going to be part of for the first time; so, Mr. Speaker, that is a major accomplishment because that Board has sat there for a long time, has provided a valuable service in management of lands that are in between municipalities mainly, and the management of services of course for example the water supply, the major service for which they were responsible.

So merging the metropolitan area lands and the administration and the service delivery; the Bay Bulls water supply, merging all of that, Mr. Speaker, with the various communities is a major accomplishment because we have eliminated that duplication, and we have provided for direct representation by elected people for these areas and for these people. So, Mr. Speaker, we have not just been doing amalgamation or consolidation of communities, we have also facilitated and made changes in a lot of other areas as well, the Metropolitan Area Board being one of them. We transferred the Aquarena facility, the Canada Games Park, the Aquarena and its lands to the St. John's Council where it properly should be, Mr. Speaker. We discovered by looking at the users of that facility that some 90-odd per cent of the users are from St. John's. That being the case, Mr. Speaker, it is unfair for the tax payers - and the city of St. John's does not disagree - of the Province collectively to pay for a facility like the Aquarena which is being used predominantly, almost entirely by the city of St. John's. So we are transferring that facility over to St. John's to administer and to operate.

Mr. Speaker, of course, as I have mentioned as well, we are transferring the St. John's Fire Department, which will be changed in name to the St. John's Regional Fire Department as it more appropriately should have been named all along, because that is what it is, a St. John's Regional Fire Department. So we are transferring that over to the city of St. John's, Mr. Speaker, to administer for the Northeast Avalon Region and for all of the partners who are involved in that fire service.

Mr. Speaker, they will have to rearrange the uses of the various stations. They will have to make sure that the six stations that are in place properly serve the Northeast Avalon. They have an expanded mandate because Paradise is being expanded to take in Topsail Pond and Three Island Pond. We have to make sure that the fire fighting service in the six stations can properly service now these expanded areas where all the metro lands, some 5,000 or 6,000 people are being added to the various groupings, whether it be Paradise, St. Thomas's, or whether it be St. Philip's, Portugal, or whether it be St. John's, Wedgewood Park and the Goulds. Either one of those three groupings, Mr. Speaker, they are all involved in some way or another to a larger or lesser extent in the St. John's Fire Department.

So the St. John's Fire Department, under the management of the St. John's Council and the mayors of the communities that are involved in this particular service will have to ensure - I know they will -that the six stations in place are properly given the responsibility in an appropriate way to cover the proximity to the stations to be sure that adequate back-up is provided, to make sure that the equipment is properly placed so that certainly the equipment necessary to provide a first response is in each station, and then proper back-up if a second response is necessary in the event of a more serious fire, proper back-up is provided from other stations. So the rearrangement of equipment and staff, and the responsibility for fire fighting will have to be looked at and I know is being looked at right now because the process is not going to start tomorrow, it is already started. They are looking at that right now, Mr. Speaker, and the importance of fire fighting, one of the most important responsibilities that a municipality can have is providing fire prevention and fire protection in its jurisdiction. So that is being looked at right now, and the allocation - as I mentioned - of resources and staff will be properly dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, the Aquarena and the fire department are the two major transfers that the Government is facilitating. Both of them, of course, are properly municipal responsibilities. The fire department in St. John's is the only fire department in the Province that we have any responsibility for, and in fact, of course we charge back. The municipalities themselves on the Northeast Avalon pay their share of the cost of the St. John's Fire Department now. The difference now, of course, is that they have a responsibility to pay their share without it having to come through Government hands. Government will continue to pay its fair share for the protection of government buildings. We have considerable government buildings in the Northeast Avalon area and we also have some in Corner Brook. In both those locations, as it is right now, we will pay, it is currently 15 per cent of the overall costs, and we will continue to pay either 15 per cent or whatever is appropriate and fair. It might be 14 per cent, it might be 12 per cent, or it might be 16 or 17 per cent, but whatever is appropriate and fair. Through discussions with the responsible communities involved, the Government will continue to contribute because of the presence of government buildings in those two locations, the St. John's/Northeast Avalon area, and Corner Brook. That will continue to be the case. Other than that, Mr. Speaker, the total responsibility will be transferred over to municipal jurisdiction where it should properly be.

Mr. Speaker, the bill, of course, deals with all of these matters that I have mentioned. Indeed, we are bringing about the amalgamation, the consolidation, of some seventeen communities down to seven, and we are leaving, without any amalgamation taking place, some six or seven communities which are going to be left as they are.

Mr. Speaker, this is a major consolidation of administration. It is going to see a great savings, a great rationalization of services, a better delivery of the taxpayers' money, a better spending of the taxpayers' money, an ability on behalf of the councils to promote and develop their towns and their cities on behalf of their people, being able to attract development, attract business and enterprise with a larger entity, and avoid a duplication of competition. Presently, as I said yesterday, we have an intense competition where almost every community on the Northeast Avalon wants to have an industrial park, would like to have expanded residential development, would like to have a shopping center, would like to have more commercial, and the list goes on, Mr. Speaker. That duplication, in this day and age, Mr. Speaker - I do not need to remind this House of these difficult times where, whether you are an individual or a corporation or government or a municipality, revenue is hard to come by, expenses are high, and it is very, very difficult, I know, from day-to-day contact with our 700 or 800 municipalities throughout this Province, being a mayor or councillor in these difficult times. It is not easy being a town manager, trying to manage a municipality in the most difficult times, I suppose, we have seen for a long, long time.

Mr. Speaker, we just cannot afford, whether it be in the Northeast Avalon, as this bill deals with, or anywhere else in the Province where we are dealing with amalgamation, to have the duplication of services that we have at present. Mr. Speaker, we have to create units that are larger. We have to have municipalities that are a minimum of 1,000 or 1,200 people. We know that that is the minimum level to provide even a reasonable service to your people. Below those numbers, and even with the amalgamation, if we carry them all out, Mr. Speaker, all the ones that are remaining and all the ones that have been done, we still will have in this Province some 600 entities of various kinds, community councils, local service districts, towns and cities, that will be less than 1,000 people in population, that we have to deal with, Mr. Speaker, that still have to manage their communities in difficult times.

Mr. Speaker, in most cases they are so remote from one another, so distant from one another, that amalgamation cannot reasonably be considered. That is, of course, the case in Newfoundland as we know. We are the most difficult province to govern, whether it be the Island of Newfoundland or in Labrador. We have the most scattered, isolated population in Canada by far. We certainly have more municipalities by far. There is nobody even close to us. Per capita we are three or four times our nearest province. That makes it very difficult, Mr. Speaker, but where we can bring communities together, we have done so. Where we can finish the remainders on the list, we will do so. The remainder on the list, of course, as I mentioned, there are some fourteen groupings left to deal with. I hope to have decisions, and recommendations, firstly, of course, for Government, on all those fourteen groupings by the end of this calendar year.

It has been a major undertaking, whether it be the Northeast Avalon or elsewhere, but it is an undertaking that I personally am very proud of. I think it was long overdue. It took this Government to take a decision to do it. It has been controversial and difficult, and at the end of the day we will not please everyone. But, with those groupings that have come together, Grand Falls - Windsor being the first, right through to the remainder that have been done, some fourteen groupings to date, some fourteen more left to do, and some we will not be doing, I can tell you from my experience to date that amalgamation is working extremely well.

I will never regret the day when we started this process. I am sure, at the end of the day it will be said that amalgamation was a good thing for this Province and that the communities involved benefited greatly by it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the minister opened his address yesterday concerning Bill 50, "An Act To Facilitate The Amalgamation Of Certain Municipal Authorities And Municipal Services In Relation To The Northeast Avalon Region," one of the first statements he made was that he took great pleasure in standing to introduce this particular bill to amalgamate communities in the Northeast Avalon region of the Province.

Now, I do not believe that. I believe, I suppose, the statement that the minister feels great about amalgamating certain communities in this Province. There are a lot of people on both sides of the House who probably would not disagree with that. But to take pleasure in forcing municipalities in this Province to amalgamate, I can't see it, not from that particular minister.

Now, let me go back some twenty-seven or twenty-eight months ago, when the administration opposite said that they were going to bring in amalgamation in the Province for - I believe, it is one hundred and forty-odd municipalities that would be amalgamated. At that time, I believe the minister came to - what was it? - Mount Moriah, or a small community in the Bay of Islands; it was at a Humber joint council meeting, anyway, in the Corner Brook area, when he announced and served notice that the Government was about to undertake to amalgamate those particular communities. At that time, there was an outcry. There was no trouble to see - as things progressed you could see it a lot better and things became a lot clearer - that there was no plan, no direction. Everything was just ad hoc, certainly was not thought out. Finally, it came, in the process over the last two-and-a-half years, to forced amalgamation.

First, everything seemed to be alright. The first step was to amalgamate those communities. When people and municipalities in this Province got up in arms, all of a sudden things changed, and then we saw the minister bring in the Regional Services Board Act. This was a next step. Amalgamation was not going to work with the first plan. The second one was the Regional Services Board Act which would then circumvent everything else and -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I wonder would the hon. member would just permit a brief interruption. I am going to leave the Chair momentarily. I will stop him on his second point and he can take right over again. I would just like, on behalf of hon. members, to welcome to the galleries today the Mayor of Grand Falls - Windsor, Mayor Blackmore.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, the first step was to amalgamate those communities, and they more or less figured that there wasn't going to be any problem.

The second step was the institution of the Regional Services Board Act. In that act there were a lot of dictatorial clauses that would sort of circumvent anything in the Municipalities Act, anything in the City of Mount Pearl Act, the City of St. John's Act, and bring in regional government to a lot of communities in this Province.

There were only a few things wrong with the Regional Services Board Act. At a meeting in Jackson's Arm the minister was told, on that particular Saturday morning, that there were only a few clauses in it that would be wrong, and that if he took them out and made amendments, then possibly 95 per cent of municipalities, especially in rural areas of the Province, would be satisfied with it. That was not done.

The third step was the forced amalgamation, itself - the fact of bringing it to the legislature. Now, the Premier has stated time and time again, 'We are not going to force municipalities to amalgamate. We will bring it to the floor of the House of Assembly and have it debated.' Mr. Speaker, when any bill is brought to the floor of the House today and the administration, who has a majority, wants it, there is no such things as a free vote. It is not here. As far as I am concerned, personally, it should be; but it is not. When we hear the leader of the administration saying, categorically, we want certain areas of this Province amalgamated, and that particular bill comes before the House of Assembly, then you know what is going to happen. It is going to pass. So, if someone can, tell me where freedom of speech and democracy prevail in that. Free vote on the resolution, Mr. Speaker - there was no such thing as a free vote on the resolution. We knew before it ever came to the floor, back on May 24, 1990, what was going to happen with that particular resolution. There were municipalities, especially in the Northeast Avalon area of the Province - now the minister has stated, and the Premier has stated, that other municipalities in the Province would not be forced to amalgamate. On the Northeast Avalon, we have communities such as St. Phillips, Hogan's Pond, parts of the Metro Board, sections of Mount Pearl, and then they come in and say that the City of St. John's is in favour of amalgamating with them!

I hear consistently from members opposite, through this whole process, the headline I saw a couple of years ago about 'supercity'. It is coming out in just about every word. Even the minister, yesterday, referred to it - the great City of St. John's will have a population of 108,000. This morning he referred to it again, another 5,000 or 6,000 added to certain areas. Does great mean better?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right. Exactly.

MR. WOODFORD: Does great big, mean best?

MR. HODDER: No. He is nodding his head. He says, yes - bigger is better.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, the City of St. John's never agreed. I have not seen anything on record, I have not seen anything in the press saying that the City of St. John's agreed with it. They were told, in no uncertain terms, this is the way it is going to be. Paradise was told, St. Phillips and Portugal Cove were told. Not one community that I know of was asked, and said categorically, Yes, we want it, give us this. They never went clamouring for it. I cannot understand it. The point I am getting to, Mr. Speaker, is this: where was the freedom? I was never against amalgamation. The concept is a good one. It is the approach taken in this particular process that I was against, and am still against. That approach is wrong.

The minister said again today, that he had the power under the old Municipalities Act to bring in regional government. Regional government was introduced in this Province years ago and has worked well in other municipalities. And the only voice the citizens of those municipalities have had, Mr. Speaker, the only way their voice can be heard, especially when something comes to the floor of this legislature, is through their member. We have people in the House today who do not speak on behalf of their constituents, and that to me, Mr. Speaker, is wrong.

Municipalities in this Province find it very hard to operate as it is, and from now on they are going to find it a lot harder, because you can't bite the hand that feeds you. Municipalities in this Province know where their funding is coming from. Municipalities in this Province know quite well that their own tax base is not great enough to sustain the services they need, but why should one third of the Province get a particular slice of that budget and the rest of the municipalities in the Province suffer? What is going to guarantee the town of St. Philips, the town of Portugal Cove, the town of Paradise, and those other municipalities that they are going to be any better off? Where is the guarantee going to come from? Are they going to get any extra funding? The Premier said this morning he is not going to buy amalgamation. He is not going to compensate any municipality for amalgamating. Where is the difference going to come from and what is going to be different in those municipalities tomorrow? Some of those municipalities have a very large debt, Mr. Speaker. I know of one to the tune of $5 million and the other three municipalities that are going with it are debt-free, yet they are told to amalgamate. Now, if someone can show me the logic behind a municipality - give them a choice. Go to the municipalities and give them a choice. Say, This is it, you had a chance, you did not do it, and now you are on your own. At least, give them a choice. Give them an option. There is no such thing as an opting out clause in any part of this bill, nothing that says they can stay out, or whatever. Their representation is going to be very minimal from here on in, especially when they are tied in with a very large municipality, or city, like the City of St. John's.

The City of St. John's has some great concerns with this particular bill. It seems that everything is rosy with the City of St. John's and they have no problems with taking over those other municipalities.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Maybe so, but what are they going to do - I will give you a few examples, Mr. Speaker, about the City of St. John's. In answer to a question from me earlier this week, the Premier said amalgamation was not going to cost any more for the taxpayers of St. John's. The Leader of the Opposition questioned him yesterday and he was not sure and it could quite possibly mean more taxes. Some of the concerns the City of St. John's and the citizens of St. John's have, are tax-related. It all comes down to money. One of the first things they have to do is hold elections. Who is going to pay for it? The department has made no commitment. It is going cost anywhere between $60,000 and $90,000 to hold an election. The so-called transition team committees that the minister had talking to these municipalities have not mentioned anything about an election. They have not mentioned anything about what it is going to cost the City of St. John's. At least that is what has been told me by councillors on the council down there.

Other services: roads. Who is going to clear the roads? Is Transportation going to take up that particular problem or is it going to become a problem for the city of St. John's. Automatically it is in the regulations of the city of St. John's Act that once the amalgamation takes place that, for instance, the Goulds will have to pay the same rate as the city of St. John's. That has to be done. That rate in this particular case this year will be based on the assessment up to this year because the city of St. John's is now ready for a new assessment. So if this particular bill goes through, for instance, in this particular case the people of the Goulds and Wedgewood Park will be paying the same mil rate as the people of St. John's today, but right away in the new year a new assessment has to be done, thereby the taxes will be raised for all municipalities again so there will be a double tax within a few months. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is not going to get the blame for it, the city of St. John's will get the blame for raising taxes, but they have no choice. It is not a matter of raising taxes, it just comes automatically with the assessment, and there is a good possibility that that assessment will be high this year. I doubt if it will be down. But automatically the Goulds and Wedgewood Park, in my understanding from the regulations under the city of St. John's Act, automatically overnight they will have to pay the same mil rate as the citizens of St. John's.

Now I do not want to get off the Regional Services Board Act because the Minister stated this morning already that he thought that would be okay. It would have been okay even if the city of Mount Pearl more or less was going to go along - in fact they did go along with it after. There were only a couple of clauses in it, and that was the fact that the Minister had the power to pick a chairman, and once the councillors were designated he had the power then to put them in place, and so on. But this is a particular Act that I think would have worked, and he is right in saying that regional government is working in the Province. It is nothing new though. I have to disagree with him there, there is nothing new with regards to the recreational part of it because that has been there for years under the previous administration under the eighty - twenty deal. Now much of that might not be put in place, but that was a good programme and the one he has today is a good programme, and it is the way that a lot of municipalities in this Province have gone and I would say, Mr. Speaker, will go if they were given the opportunity. And I will be the first to say because of this amalgamation process you are going to see a lot of municipalities in the Province go the regional route. But, Mr. Speaker, once you are told that you have to amalgamate then it is a different thing. Newfoundlanders do not like to be just told what to do, hammered into the ground, they want to have a choice. In this case in my particular area of the Province, we do not have regional government as such. Under the old Municipalities Act it was there and is still there. It is still there pertaining to other areas of the Province and other sections of the Province, but it is working well with regards to incinerators, it is working well with regards to fire brigades, and it is working well with regards to water services. Recreation facilities under the old eighty - twenty agreement with the Department of Municipal Affairs where municipalities in the area - I think it is three or more municipalities, I do not know if that has changed or not - but three or more municipalities had to sign an agreement saying that they would pick up the 20 per cent over a five year period, and the Government would fund it for the other 80 per cent. That was an excellent programme and I think, if I am not mistaken, is still there today even including the engineering process for any infrastructure in any community in the Province. That is there, it is working, so why the rush? Why the haste? The Minister states that there are three other areas: Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, Deer Lake, Spillway, and Nicholsville, and the other is Kippens and Stephenville, and they are going to be done before Christmas.

Municipalities in this Province have a deadline to meet with regards to budgets, and that deadline, Mr. Speaker, is the end of December. Last year, just after Boxing Day, the Minister came out with a new grant system and here municipalities in the Province had their budgets done up, most of them sent in - I would say probably all of them were sent in - and then he comes out between Christmas and the New Year with a new grant system. What were municipalities supposed to do?

Three years of restructuring, a system that took three years to get their house in order with regards to a new grant system; no notice at all, Mr. Speaker! Again it shows a lack of planning, a lack of direction and this leaves municipalities just not knowing what to do. They are volunteers, 95 per cent of the municipalities of this Province today are operating with volunteers; people, who after work in the evening and on weekends, go to their council chambers and go to other municipalities on behalf of theirs, to try to gain information and to try to speak for the people whom they represent, all on a volunteer basis. They are not getting paid and the majority of municipalities in the Province today operate on that system.

The bigger municipalities, yes, they are getting paid, so they are expected to do certain things like us here in the Chamber; you are expected to be there and you are expected to speak, you are expected to do what is necessary for your constituents. But they are out there operating and what do they get? We have members in this Chamber who sat on councils; the Member for Carbonear, not only did he sit on a council as a mayor, but he was a member of the Federation of Municipalities in this Province. We have the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, who was a councillor and a former member of the Federation of Municipalities; we have the Member for Menihek, a former Mayor of Goose Bay -

AN HON. MEMBER: Naskaupi.

MR. WOODFORD: - Naskaupi - no, Mayor of Goose Bay and Member for Naskaupi; a former mayor and a former President?


MR. WOODFORD: He is a former member of the Federation of Municipalities. We have the Member for Placentia, a former mayor and a former President of the Federation of Municipalities. I could go on. We have the Minister himself, a former member of the council of the city of St. John's -

AN HON. MEMBER: He still is a member of St. John's (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - and still is; and Walter Carter. I mean we have all kinds of people opposite who served on municipalities in this Province. It is not something -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - on this side of the House, but on that side of the House, it is not like they did not know, that the Minister did not have anybody to ask or consult with; he had good people, those particular people whom I mentioned served their communities and served the Federation of Municipalities well, because I served with some of them, I served with the Member for Carbonear and I would be the first to say he did an excellent job -

MR. HODDER: What has happened to him lately?

MR. WOODFORD: Those people should have been consulted, but were they? No, they were not consulted -

MR. R. AYLWARD: Clyde Wells got to him. Do not open your mouth (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - they were not consulted because if they did, they could have told the Minister about rural Newfoundland, they could have told him what was going to happen; they could have told him some of the problems he was going to incur along the road to amalgamation. They could have told him, Mr. Speaker, that it was going to be a very, very bumpy road and that he was going to have to take a lot of detours, I can assure you, but they did not, and that process in the last two and a half years has taken its toll on the municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador. They do not know where to go; they are here now.

I just mentioned three particular groupings that the Minister said he would have a decision made on before the end of the year. I will not name them again, but those particular municipalities, how can they do up a budget and send it in, knowing possibly next week it is all going to be changed? They cannot do it. Some of those municipalities this year, because of the grant system which was instituted last December, are in financial trouble, despite what the Minister said yesterday, they are in financial difficulty, running very high deficits and do not know how they are going to meet it. What is going to happen, to those who are volunteers, in the two-thirds of the fiscal year running very high deficits? What is going to happen when the cheques start bouncing? When the cheques start bouncing from municipalities? - when the councillors - no doubt will walk out. Who is going to look after it?

MR. R. AYLWARD: If they're Liberals they'll get money, if they're not they won't.

MR. WOODFORD: Or is this what it is all about? Is this an inadvertent way or a roundabout way or whatever way you want to put it, Mr. Speaker, of taking complete control? Because the Municipalities Act is no more good to them. How much have we heard over the last number of years, especially since the Province of Quebec instituted and used the notwithstanding clause with regards to their bill on languages and sign language in Quebec? How much have we heard from other provinces about this particular clause and how it should never have been put in the Constitution? Every province in this country has the right to use the notwithstanding clause. Quebec used it.

Throughout this particular Bill, it is funny, 'notwithstanding' this and 'notwithstanding' that, and 'notwithstanding' in the last part The City of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act, The Municipalities Act, notwithstanding. This particular Administration has used the notwithstanding clause to their own liking.

MR. R. AYLWARD: To bulldoze their bill.

MR. WOODFORD: To bulldoze their bill, that is a good way of putting it. Predators. We talked about coyotes this morning, (Inaudible) the predator. The biggest predator on municipalities in the Province today is this Administration. They are predators on the educational system. They have become predators on the municipalities. Predators on the hospitals in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Increased by $100 million. Mr. Speaker. Increased by $100 million and it is getting worse every day. If the hon. Member had his salary - if his salary of a few years ago was the same as it is today he would be in dire trouble, I can assure you. You talk about - I do not want to leave this notwithstanding clause. Because as far as I am concerned this Administration deviously right throughout this Act has used it, and has used it in other acts as well in this House. The Constitution: we cannot go around this country and this Province preaching about fairness and balance, how the Federal Government should not do this and they should not do that. Give us a chance, talk to us, meet with us, don't do anything behind closed doors. Put it in the Constitution. Give us a Triple E Senate so we can have fairness and balance, regional balance and a say in a regional government. Give us this, give us that. And right here on our own doorstep we strip the municipalities in this Province of the only constitution that they have, and that is the Municipalities Act.

Every clause, comma, period, section, and part that is in The City Of St. John's Act, The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The Municipalities Act, The City Of Corner Brook Act - it is their constitution. They live, work, rule and tax by it. That is their constitution. And yet we can come to the Chamber of the House with absolutely no say, no input, and take it away. That is to me the biggest case of hypocrisy that I have ever seen in this House. Stripping them, giving them absolutely no say. Doing that, as far as I am concerned, still using the so-called notwithstanding clause right here in this Chamber and in particular pertaining to this particular Bill. I am sure it will be used further.

The Federation of Municipalities in this Province, they represent pretty well every municipality in this Province. To my understanding I do not think, as of this morning, that the president of the Federation of Municipalities of this Province has even got a copy of this Act. I contacted two or three municipalities last night and they never saw a copy. They have not seen a copy of this Act. As far as I am concerned the Federation of Municipalities in this Province, over the past two and a half years, have been treated with contempt. They are only tools for the Minister and this Administration. It is not acceptable and I will say, and I stand by it, that the Federation of Municipalities and the municipalities it represents are going to become nothing more than a collection agency for this particular Administration. That is what will happen. We are talking about the Federal Government. The Federal Government did this, the Federal Government did that. They are taking away this and they are taking away that. What is this particular Government doing to the municipalities in this Province? We have three levels of Government in this country. We have the Federal Government, we have the Provincial Government, and we have the Municipal Government. Every level of Government deserves respect, every level of Government deserves some notice, and every level of Government always, and this particular route in particular, are always talking about the Federal Government doing this and the Federal Government doing that. How about shifting the game close to home and saying, what about the third level of Government in this Province and that is the municipalities?

Everywhere we look they are down-loading on the municipalities in this Province and expecting volunteers in this Province to do the job of paid politicians and paid bureaucrats in this Province, and that is what is going to happen. I do not have to tell the Member for Carbonear how hard it was to try to run a community. It was not easy at the best of times and it is getting worse. It is getting worse, and worse, and worse. They should be recognized and they should be at least given the decency of a so-called hearing. They should be told and treated with respect when it comes to anything that this particular Administration is going to do especially when it comes to forcing amalgamation.

You can laugh about it, you can joke about it, and you can do whatever else you like about it, but the fundamental problem is communication. There is absolutely no co-operation or communication between this Provincial Administration and the municipalities in this Province. Ask the municipalities. Ask the President of the Federation of Municipalities. Ask the Members of the Federation of Municipalities what kind of co-operation they are getting. I talked to them just a little while ago. I keep in contact. There was a piece in the paper the other day about how they were going to meet with the Premier and from what I have been told some people were upset as to the route they had to go in order to get a meeting with the Minister. Now, that to me is wrong, it is not right, and it is treating the municipalities in this Province, especially the Federation of Municipalities who are representing those communities, with contempt. That, Mr. Speaker, to me is sending a message. If we are going to get dictatorial when it comes to cuts in hospital beds, in education, and everything else in this Province, we are going to be dictatorial when it comes to telling you what to do. You do it. We are going to give you the money and we will tell you how to spend it. Rating sheets out in Jackson's Arm, rating sheets up in Hampden. How are they going to accept any capital funding? I do not know if any Members opposite even saw a rating sheet. I have my doubts if they saw any of the rating sheets. How municipalities in this Province are going to keep to any of this and expect to get funding. How are they going to do it? They have to meet need and safety, fifty-five points for cost shared paving and road reconstruction projects. Servicing factors, twenty-five points. This Administration is famous for the point system. Point system for drivers, point system for municipalities. The only place they do not have a point system for is their own.

Financial, twenty points. Now, this is just the headings when it comes to cost share paving in every municipality. If we look at what is under it - poor, fair, good - retaining walls, bridges, road classification. Mr. Speaker, we have, I would say, 80 per cent of the municipalities in this Province, as I said before, looked after and governed by people who are committed and dedicated. People who work all day long out on construction, in the fields, in the fishing boats, and at Government jobs around this Province, trying to come home in the evening and sit down and try to draw up a budget for a municipality probably with 60 per cent or 70 per cent unemployment.

Now they should be heroes, they should be given a medal. Because if you had some of them in around here we would have a lot better Province in which to live, I can assure you. Because anybody who can draw up a budget in some of those municipalities today and keep the municipality going, and make it survive, I guarantee you, they need a pat on the back, I can assure you. They need one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Herb Kitchen should hire (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, maybe the Minister of Finance should go out and get some of them, I will tell you that. But the sad thing about all this is that when they do up the budget - they are not allowed by the way, under the Municipalities Act, to send in a deficit budget. That has to be balanced. Don't send a budget in to me that is not balanced because we will not accept it. We will give you permission to borrow, based on the amount of local revenue, but do not ask for anything more. You have a deficit, that is it, do it up on that. Period.

One municipality in my particular area, Jackson's Arm, has 92 per cent unemployment. Fish plant gone in Jackson's Arm, fish plant gone in Sop's Arm. How in the name of God can they do up - no infrastructure. I heard Members talk this morning about the great - you know, we are going to have infrastructure, every municipality looking for an industrial park. Looking for this, looking for that.

I say to the Minister, what is going to change tomorrow morning when this particular Bill goes through that is going to make that any different? Not a bit! You think the Town of St. Phillips' is not going to be looking for the same things it looked for yesterday? You think the Town of Paradise is not going to be looking for the same things it is looking for today? Do they think the Town of Goulds is going to give up anything?

AN HON. MEMBER: They want more and they want it faster.

MR. WOODFORD: They want more and they want it faster is right. Those problems are still going to be there. The only thing that is going to be missing, Mr. Speaker, is that the Minister is going to have seven or eight municipalities that are not going to be looking for meetings. That he will not have to send correspondence to. That he will not have to bring in on an individual basis and say: boy, we will give you $30,000 for this or $30,000 for that. They will give it through Paradise, they will give it through the city of St. John's, and they will give it through the Towns of Portugal Cove and St. Phillip's. That is the only difference. The rest of it remains the same. Not a thing different at all, not a thing. Those municipalities are not going to be taken and put on a tractor trailer and moved away. They are not going to be towed somewhere else, although I would say, if they had the chance they would.

But they are not moving. The people are not all moving into St. John's or Paradise. The people of the Goulds are not moving out into St. John's. Everything stays the same. The only difference is, you have less to deal with, they are all paying taxes to the one particular council, and that particular council then is expected to provide the services for those municipalities, the same as they do, for instance, in St. John's. Right away the city of St. John's has to bring the rural areas up to urban standards. They have to! Now, when the citizens of St. John's see all the improvements in the Goulds or in Wedgewood Park, or I guess a better one to use would be in Portugal Cove, St. Philip's, Hogan's Pond area, and so on. When they see all this they are going to say what are we paying taxes for? We need this and we need that. Because of the fact that the Government is not putting any money up front - they are putting absolutely nothing up front. If there was some kind of a transition grant in place, and I can remember, if I am not mistaken on this, that when Shea Heights and Airport Heights were put with the city of St. John's -

AN HON. MEMBER: Kilbride.

MR. WOODFORD: Kilbride, that there was a transition grant, a plan put in place that over a period of eight or ten years the city would be reimbursed for bringing those particular areas up to urban standards. I think it was a grant paid over an eight or ten year period, and that is the way it should be. If they went into municipalities and said, 'look, we will help you.' I have a municipality over there: Deer Lake, Nicholsville, Spillway. It is going to cost $10 million to bring Spillway, Nicholsville and the infrastructure in Deer Lake up to the point where it can be the same, where they can provide services to Nicholsville and Spillway. If they are amalgamated tomorrow morning, how is the town of Deer Lake going to pay for those services to Nicholsville and Spillway? They cannot. They can, but there is only one way to do it, and that is to push the mil rate sky high. Now some hon. members will say yes, but Nicholsville and Spillway will be paying the same mil rate as Deer Lake. They will, but I do not have to tell hon. members what that is going to do.

The infrastructure, the water lines and everything that is in Deer Lake, is satisfactory to Deer Lake, but when they have to go up to the main dam and put in larger pipes - a sixteen inch pipe - in order to service not only Deer Lake but the other outlying areas, that costs money. That costs money. The sewer lines cannot handle it. The first thing you need is a sewage treatment plant which is $6 million or $7 million. They cannot afford it, and that is the type of thing I am talking about, Mr. Speaker. There has to be more planning, there has to be more consultation, and there has to be more co-operation with those municipalities. You cannot just go in and say do this and do that, and we are going to do this and do that. We cannot do it. Now the consistency shown opposite is just not there. Out here now under this Bill there are going to be a bunch of municipalities amalgamated. All kinds of problems. We have people in the gallery today who are graphic evidence of one of the problems. A municipality, as I said before, that is paying its way - I just named two or three this morning that I knew about out here. That is another one. The city of Mount Pearl paying its own way, not costing anybody a cent, in fact, paying more than they should be paying. Good tax payers. No burden on society, no burden on this Administration. But I am sorry boys, ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry. We are not only going to amalgamate the other areas, but we are going to make sure - we will not put Mount Pearl in with St. John's because the Premier said out to a Chamber of Commons meeting, I believe, that because of the public outcry, and the large percentage of the public in Mount Pearl who were against it, we will not do it, but we will make darn sure that you are not going to grow any further. You have what you have. You have your 23,000 or 24,000, and that is all you are getting because we are going to take Southlands out, and we are going to strip everything from around you. You cannot move. You can have your so called city of Mount Pearl, but that is where you stay.

AN HON. MEMBER: And after the next election, if he wins you are gone.

MR. WOODFORD: And after the next election - that is what I was getting to - because after the next election if the 25 per cent of the citizens of Mount Pearl who are in the Minister's district thinks that is going to stay as it is, you have another think coming because after the next election I would say the next bill - it could be Bill 51 if they are going to keep the numbers in line - that will be the one saying to Mount Pearl: 'I am sorry boys, you are gone.'

AN HON. MEMBER: He has to win first.

MR. WOODFORD: But he has to win first, remember that and keep that in mind. There are thirty-one firemen if I am not mistaken, or twenty-six. They should remember that for the next election, and every one of them start knocking on doors. That will be a good campaign thing.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister stated yesterday in questioning from me about municipalities in the Province when I asked him about the rating sheets; I asked him if he was going to stick to it and he said yes, he was going to stick to it. I asked him if he was going to give municipalities in the Province any consideration, those who are having real problems with their deficit because of the new grant system, if he was going to do anything with it, if he was going to extend the three year deadline, if he was going to abolish it altogether and give the municipalities a better chance to try to recoup and to try to bring in line -

These are hard times, Mr. Speaker; it is no secret. The municipalities in this Province are no different than this Government and no different than the Federal Government; we are all in the same boat and Mr. Speaker, we are taxing the same people. The Feds tax us, the Province taxes us, the municipalities tax us, we are all taxing the same people, the only difference is the distribution of taxes; the fairness and balance in the distribution of taxes in this Province has to change, no question; no question. But Mr. Speaker, there is a better way in doing - I said it at the outset that I am not against amalgamation, I am not against the concept; I am against the approach taken and the way this was handled.

If the city of Mount Pearl was given a chance of coming under a regional services board, why not leave them alone? Why not leave them alone, what is the difference? They have operated before and never caused anybody any harm, they can operate today, tomorrow not causing anybody any harm and I just do not understand the rationale behind it. I do not know how much time I have left, Mr. Speaker, because to cover everything when it comes to municipalities in this Province you could speak for a month. One of the things I would like to touch on - there are a couple of things I would like to touch on directly in the Bill - is pertaining to the new structure for the regional fire service. It is a regional fire service anyway; and the new structure under this particular act for fire fighters within the municipalities, says - I have forgotten what section it is now - the fire fighters of St. John's are unionized.

We are taking in Wedgewood Park and the Goulds. The Goulds has a volunteer fire brigade and a good one; that is the only way that municipalities around this Province can operate, especially in the smaller areas of the Province; there is no other way for them to operate. But the Goulds in this particular case, and I would say this is probably why it is in the act - something that the fire fighters in St. John's should keep in mind and I would say the fire fighters in Mount Pearl - because if this act goes through, it is automatic that those people would lose their jobs and probably have to go through the fire department in St. John's in order to get a job.

The fire department in St. John's as I understand it have six people gone; six people dropped over the last few months or so and it is only automatic then that if this goes through that this is dead, those fellows who trained, women who trained hard for a job with their own tax money, under their own council, will be told to hit the road. So where do they go then if they want a job with their so called regional fire service to which their tax dollars are going - their tax dollars are going right into the City of St. John's; they have to come back then and try for a job there.

Now what is going to happen?

In Section 353 (2) of the Act, it says: The council shall establish, operate and maintain the fire department which shall be composed of paid employees or partly of paid employees, and partly of volunteers and acquire or provide fire halls, fire alarm systems and so on and so on.

There are three statements here, composed of paid employees, or partly of paid employees and partly of volunteers. Now, Mr. Speaker how is that going to work? You have a paid fire fighters association in St. John's, and we have a volunteer one, for instance, in the Goulds.

If the people from Mount Pearl do get hired through the other system, they will come under the union. Now, how is it going to work with regard to the Goulds?

AN HON. MEMBER: It cannot be done.

MR. WOODFORD: Is the Government saying to those people, probably by attrition - the City of St. John's Fire Department has six gone now - are they saying that over a period of time your numbers are going to get lower and lower and lower, or are they saying the opposite that, listen, we will operate with both. We will operate with a paid fire department in the City of St. John's covering the regional area, but we will have our volunteer fire brigade in the Goulds. We have other areas outside that now, but that is one in particular under that particular region. What is the answer? That is not answered, and I am sure that the Minister opposite is not going to get up and categorically state that we are doing this or that, because it is very vague. It is in there for that reason. Now it is up to those people to ask the questions. I would say that the answers they are going to get, Mr. Speaker, will be just as vague as the particular statement and clause in this particular act.

The last part of Bill 50, Part VII, under 'Resolution,' Section 3, Mr. Speaker: "In addition to establishing and altering the boundaries of the cities and towns under subsection (2), the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may, in the order referred to in that subjection, (a) amalgamate a town with a town or city and annex areas to a city or town." What does that say? I talked to a couple of my colleagues this morning, and they say that possibly it just pertains to this particular area. Is it possible that they can go outside, anywhere in the Province? I do not know. The Minister can probably answer that when he does get up. Section 3 (b): "establish an area as a town; and (c) disestablish a town." They are strong statements.

AN HON. MEMBER: They can do what they like when they like.

MR. WOODFORD: What it says is 'notwithstanding'. That is powerful stuff. If that is so, we do not have to come back to the House any more. We do not have to come back to the House any more. This legislation is dictatorial. Those three particular sections, (a), (b) and (c) say it all. They say it all, and using the notwithstanding clause is worse than the situation in Quebec. It is worse, because there it only took away the English sign system - put up French signs or else. At least they could still operate and go around. To hell with the signs; everybody knew where you lived. Everybody knew where to go. But in this particular situation you are stripping, taking away the democratic right of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians today to have a say over their own affairs.

If this Administration wants to do away with municipalities, then do away with them. Take them over. But take the onus and the responsibility off the backs and shoulders of the people in those areas who are trying to run a local government during very, very hard times, and against very, very difficult odds. As far as I am concerned, this is discriminatory. I do not know, but if this particular section of this act was challenged under the Charter of Rights, I would say that this particular part of this act would be struck down. That is strong stuff - establish an area as a town, and disestablish an area as a town. It is just as well to take the Municipalities Act, and the City of St. John's Act, and the City of Mount Pearl Act, the City of Corner Brook Act, and throw them in the garbage. As far as I am concerned they are nonexistent, and what is the point? I said earlier, Mr. Speaker, that municipalities in the Province use the Municipalities Act as their bible. They use it as their constitution. They have nothing else to go by. What do they go by now? It is very ad hoc; there is no consistency.

I remember when we were there in the federation; we used to have amendments now and again coming out of resolutions from the main body of the Federation of Municipalities. We would get some of them passed. More would be lingering, and left there, and left there, and left there, and we would be crying 'change it'. At least though, we could look at this and say - and do what we wanted to do. We could take this and go by it for our own protection, if none other, and for the protection of the people whom we represented. We cannot do that today. We cannot take this Act today and we cannot take all the amendments of that Act today and store them in there in our own computers and say that we can go by it. They cannot, because they do not know what is coming next.

How can a body like the Federation of Municipalities, which is representing every municipality in this Province, speak on behalf of their municipalities, expect their municipalities to pay dues, and then come in here and be treated with contempt? They cannot. To my knowledge, as of this morning, the president of the Federation of Municipalities did not see a copy of this Act. Now that to me is criminal. That takes me back to the sub-judice question brought up by our House Leader yesterday.

What is any more criminal than stripping sections from the Municipalities Act without any consultations with the rest of the municipalities in this Province? What, may I ask? And if it is looked at in that light, I mean, you talk about predators, and you talk about criminals. There is nothing more criminal you can do. As far as I am concerned that is the basic right of every Newfoundlander and Labradorian. That is democracy. Democracy I always thought was a matter of choice. But it is not being practised. They are not being consulted. There is no cooperation. Until we do have cooperation we are going to have nothing good said about the Department of Municipal Affairs. We are getting it every day, and the Minister knows quite well that the Federation of Municipalities is fed up. He may not get up here in the House and say it but they are. They have all kinds of problems with the Department, with the way things are handled.

In September, I suppose every municipality gets a copy of this, the municipal news, go through that - executive director's report - and talk about problems. Little progress has been made on any of them - talking about issues that came up the previous year. There are other issues of significance which also remain on the LMFM's agenda, namely amalgamation. Slow and simmering discontent with the process and the results as they are now emerging. That the merits of individual cases, the basic level of trust among the participants, and trust that the process is indeed a fair and reasonable one. These are not statements from me, these are not statements coming from a politician. Those are statements made by the Federation of Municipalities representing every municipality in this Province.

What about the regional services boards? This legislation has been adopted without change from the initial proposal. However, it has not yet been proclaimed and may not be for some time. I asked the question yesterday: why isn't that proclaimed? Because the Minister could do the same thing under the Regional Services Board Act with a couple of changes and satisfy a lot more municipalities in this Province than he did through forced amalgamation. You could do all those things under the Regional Services Board Act and I would say that municipalities in this Province would probably go along with it.

I mean all this brings obvious financial implications to municipalities in the Province. How are they going to survive? They go on. Municipal general assistance grant, have real problems with it; taxation, real problems; the Municipalities Act review, you might as well throw that out. What is the point of reviewing the Municipalities Act? What is the good? It is just as well to forget it and throw it out the door, it is absolutely no good. Because as far as I am concerned, when you see bills like this come into the House, there is no point in having an act. Because it is no good for municipalities to say that they are going to follow it. They can't! It is changing every other day and there is no way in the world for them to follow it.

The Minister and his bureaucrats came like thieves in the night and took away from the municipalities in this Province the basic, fundamental, democratic right that they had to govern their own affairs. They have not, despite what the Minister says, as of today got complete autonomy over their own affairs. You talk to mayors and councillors in this Province today and they have not. If they have it, they certainly do not feel like they have it. I think that is wrong.

I always used to attend the Humber joint council meetings. Over the years the Federation of Municipalities meetings. I will tell you the situation that municipalities are in today. You can cut and cut until you get to the bone. The question I asked then, is what do you do with the bone?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: When we get there everybody knows what happens then. Listen to the hon. Member for LaPoile. If the hon. Member has something to talk about, (Inaudible), you should get up and stand up for the municipalities in your area. Stand up for the taxpayers whom you represent, who in the new year I would say are going to be hit with a full mil rate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Frequent. Get up and speak with authority for your municipalities and tell them where you stand. Don't get on the fence because one of those days you are going to fall off and both legs are going to go both ways, and I do not have to tell you what is going to happen.

MR. HODDER: His constituents don't even talk to him so he wouldn't know what is going on!

MR. WOODFORD: Stand up for the municipalities you represent. You are taxing the same -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, it puts me in mind of an old fellow one time. An old fellow one time came into the field and he asked about a tree they had there. He asked me about a plant, and he said: I am wondering how does that grow? He said: I wonder what it is like? And he went over until I caught him, and he was about to haul it up. Well I stopped him and I said: what were you doing? He said: I was going to haul it up to see what kind of roots were on it, see how it was growing. Now that's something.

Same thing applies to the gentlemen opposite. They went and uprooted and took the guts out of the municipalities in this Province and now they are taking a good look at it. Because they are holding it high. They are taking a good look at the root system because it is going in every municipality around this Province. But I will tell you one thing, that municipalities in this Province will remember some of the objections coming from this side; they will remember that some Members opposite did not speak on their behalf; and they will remember. Because you know why? It is going to hit the pocket book. When it hits the pocket book come January or February in this Province, it also hits the stomach and the heart. That is when it starts to hurt.

My time is up, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, trying to stifle debate. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs gets up to try to clue up this Bill, trying to stifle -

MR. GULLAGE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs on a point of order.

MR. GULLAGE: I wonder if by leave I could answer a question raised by the hon. Member for Humber Valley.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member has leave.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: It won't take a second. Mr. Speaker, the question was raised - and I think it is important that I answer it before debate goes on - as to who pays for the elections in the amalgamated areas. Whether it be the northeast I guess or anywhere else in the Province. In fact, the first election for a new council caused by amalgamation, a new council being formed, a new municipality being formed, in that first election, all expenses are covered by the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) what a plum though, eh? Put you in debt the rest of your life but pay for the first election.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words to say in this debate as well, as it relates to the slaughter that is being implemented by this Government on the municipalities throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I do not think that any of us, Mr. Speaker, can get much enjoyment today from debating this issue. I do not think we can do it with much pride. I do not think it is a day when any of us, who take this situation in the Province seriously, can get much enjoyment from debating a piece of legislation that is equivalent to Bill 101 that was introduced in the Quebec Legislature some years ago. That is the sad reflection, Mr. Speaker, of what this bill is all about.

The notwithstanding clause that was used in the Legislature of Quebec, denying people the basic -

MR. GRIMES: What a pile of foolishness! Don't be so silly,' getting on with that nonsense.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the notwithstanding clause in Quebec is no different from the notwithstanding clause here. It denies the people their basic rights. They have done it in Quebec, and he has done it here, when he sits in a Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, and votes for a bill that clearly states, 'Notwithstanding The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act, The St. John's Metropolitan Act, and The Municipalities Act.' That is what is there, Mr. Speaker, 'Notwithstanding what is in them, we will do what we like.' That's what is in this piece of legislation before the House today, 'We will do what we like.' Tear up The Municipalities Act, Mr. Speaker, tear up The City Of St. John's Act, and tear up The Mount Pearl Act, tear up The Metropolitan Board Act, tear them all up and throw them away, Mr. Speaker. 'Notwithstanding that, what this Government feels is right, we will do. What everybody else thinks is wrong, is not important.' That's what is in this piece of legislation.

What purpose will be served, Mr. Speaker, by the Federation of Municipalities in this Province anymore?

MR. EFFORD: Isn't it the same way Conception Bay South was done?

MR. TOBIN: The Member for Port de Grave, Mr. Speaker, would be well-advised to worry about his fishing license.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: That's what is in this act - 'Notwithstanding any of that, that's what is going to happen.' We have seen amalgamation, Mr. Speaker, being put in place in this Province through a program of consultation, particularly in Grand Falls and Windsor, where it probably took ten years to negotiate it. But when it was done, it was done acceptably to the people of Grand Falls and Windsor. Why the hurry? Why the hobnailed boots approach, Mr. Speaker, by this Government and this minister, in terms of forcing amalgamation upon the people? Why deny them their democratic rights? Are we not elected to a legislature, Mr. Speaker, where we debate issues, where we listen to the people, where we act upon the requests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, including the Northeast Avalon, or is it what this Government wants to do? Is it what this Government wants to do, Mr. Speaker, that has to be inflicted upon the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

What we are involved in today is not strictly a debate on the Northeast Avalon, Mr. Speaker. What we are involved in today as a legislature, in opposing this bill, is fighting for democracy because it is dead, it is slaughtered, it was thrown to the wolves in this bill. That's what is happening, Mr. Speaker. The notwithstanding clause in this Act, against the wishes of the people living in the Northeast Avalon -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) democracy.

MR. TOBIN: We've seen how you stood up for democracy when they put the boots to the people in terms of a health care system in your district. We've seen that, Mr. Speaker, and we will see what will happen to you come the next election. We will see all of that.

Mr. Speaker, this is far too important for the yaps from the Member for LaPoile. We are involved here in fighting for the rights of democracy.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is that?

MR. TOBIN: Where is that? The notwithstanding clause, Mr. Speaker, is on page 23 of the Act, the top of the page.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, no one in this Province supports that type of a bulldozer approach. If you do not agree with it, then take it and put up with it, that is the approach that has been taken here.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, can you ask the Member for Port de Grave to keep quiet and let me speak in this debate. I ask for the protection of the Chair, Mr. Speaker, and I don't think that is asking for too much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has requested silence.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have communities in my own district the communities of Lewin's Cove, Burin, and Port au Bras, and Mortier, Fox Cove that have been suggested for amalgamation, and I don't know what is going to happen. I really don't know what is going to happen, nor do they, Mr. Speaker. This Government is saying, in letters signed by the Premier, that if you do not want to amalgamate you will not have to. That is one letter. In the next letter, Mr. Speaker, he is saying, whatever the House decides. Well it will soon be time to make up his mind, because what has happened, Mr. Speaker, is that there is total confusion in all of these towns that are being forced. I have seen the recommendations of the commissioners, where they recommended that there would be an amalgamation take place with Burin, Lewin's Cove and Port au Bras in the first phase, and Fox Cove, Mortier in the second phase, after some consideration being given to the financial plight. How does the minister expect, in 1991, to have amalgamation take place when this year, under the capital funding for water systems, the best he could offer the people of Port au Bras, because of the desperate situation they are in, was a well and a draw bucket? A well and a draw bucket is what they got this year, Mr. Speaker, in terms of capital works.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, can you ask the Member for Port de Grave to take it easy. If he wants to go yell and shout there may be another forum for him to do it in, but this is not the place.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is the rights of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WARREN: Throw him out! Throw him out!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, again I ask for your protection. Again I ask the right to be heard in silence, and if the Speaker does not wish that, then no one will be heard in silence.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: What I want to debate here today is an Act that I personally have problems with. I personally disagree with this Act, Mr. Speaker, as do most of the people that I represent. I am not so sure, to be perfectly honest with you, that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs totally agrees with what he is bringing to this House today. I believe that this Act is the act of one man, Mr. Speaker, and that is the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. I honestly believe that is who is bringing this Act before the Legislature today. The Premier has stated time and time again, for example, he believed that Mount Pearl never had the right to exist, never should have been born, should not have been a creation, as part of the Northeast Avalon.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. TOBIN: The Premier said it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not.

MR. TOBIN: Oh, he didn't say it? Why don't you talk to some of the members for Mount Pearl? They can tell you what the Premier said.

Apart from the Northeast Avalon issue, there are issues facing this Province, Mr. Speaker, in terms of forced amalgamation -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just heard the hon. the Minister of Social Services utter an unparliamentary word, and I ask him to withdraw it, please.

MR. HOGAN: Whatever unparliamentary word you heard me utter, Your Honour, I withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will accept the member's apology. I didn't care if he apologized or not. Far too often though, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Social Services has had to apologize to me in this House for the way he gets on, and to Your Honour and to the House.

Mr. Speaker, let me get on with this debate. I am debating, Mr. Speaker, an Act that the minister should know all about as a former president of the Federation of Municipalities, and I am surprised if he supports this Act. I am surprised if he supports forced amalgamation. He has been involved in the amalgamation issue in his own district, Mr. Speaker, that has, by the way, been on the go for several years. The minister has played a tremendous part in trying to successfully - successfully, Mr. Speaker - conclude an agreement whereby people agree to become one town rather than being forced to become one town, and that is the difference. That is the difference, Mr. Speaker, in this Act, agreeing to become one town rather than being forced to become part of one town, and that is not happening under this Act. It is 'my way or no way', Mr. Speaker. What is taking place here is 'my way or no way'. There is only one person, and that is the Premier of this Province who is forcing that sort of shenanigan upon the people. The notwithstanding clause: How often do we hear people condemning the Province of Quebec on Bill 101 for the notwithstanding clause that they brought in? By forcing people.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill 178.

MR. TOBIN: Bill 178? I am sorry. I made a mistake on that. But how often, Mr. Speaker, have we heard people being critical?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if he wants to apologize again or not, but we will leave him alone for this time.

How often, Mr. Speaker, have we heard the Premier of this Province in the Meech Lake Debate talking about the terrible crime that was committed by the Government of Quebec by enforcing the notwithstanding clause? Granted, it is there for every province, but how often do we hear the Premier being critical of that notwithstanding clause and how it was used in the Province of Quebec? Well, then, why is it good for this Province, for the Federation of Municipalities and other towns and councils throughout this region? How could he enforce and inflict that upon the councils in Newfoundland and Labrador when he condemns another jurisdiction for using it?

MR. HOGAN: What is wrong (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: It is forced amalgamation that is killing democracy. It is completely throwing the democratic rights of councils.

MR. HOGAN: That is too general.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker - 'notwithstanding', I don't know if the Minister of Social Services knows what it means, but it means everything that this Government wants to do overrides the authority of the City of St. John's and the City of Mount Pearl, the Metropolitan Board Act, and the Federation of Municipalities, that goes far beyond the boundaries of the Northeast Avalon. That's what is wrong with this piece of legislation. It is nothing, Mr. Speaker - they have been breaking down iron walls in Europe to let democratic principles knock out the communist regimes in the European countries, and now we have a Government that is prepared to put it in place in this Province. That's what is wrong with this piece of legislation. Whom did they consult? Did they consult with the Federation of Municipalities on this piece of legislation before they made it public?


MR. TOBIN: Did they give this bill to the Federation of Municipalities?


MR. TOBIN: Did they give it to the City of Mount Pearl?


MR. TOBIN: They gave this bill to the City of Mount Pearl before it came to the House? No, Mr. Speaker, it did not go to the City of Mount Pearl before it came to this House. Now that will tell you what the ministers of this Government know. And that tells you what consultation was involved in this debate. When two ministers of the Crown said the City of Mount Pearl had this piece of legislation, and I know, before it came to the Legislature, that it did not happen. Now who was not consulted? Not only, Mr. Speaker, was the Federation of Municipalities not consulted, the remaining members of Cabinet were not consulted, according to the answers we just got.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this is a serious debate.


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, when democracy is threatened, we have a right and a responsibility as elective representatives, regardless of what side of the Legislature we sit on. There is only one place that does not happen, and that is in a dictatorship. There is only one place where people are afraid to speak, where ministers, back benchers, and elected officials are afraid to open their mouths. Mr. Speaker, that takes place only in a dictatorship. We will have an admission, Mr. Speaker, in the days to come when we vote on this piece of legislation, whether or not people elected to this assembly believe in democracy or believe in a dictatorship, because that is what this is all about, and don't kid yourselves.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: The Speaker decides whether what I am saying is relative to the debate on the bill, not the Minister of Social Services. He should have been in the House all morning.

I see the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Windsor - Buchans, who, together with the Leader of the Opposition, represents two towns that have just become one, I guess, in the amalgamation issue. That did not happen, Mr. Speaker, because it was forced on the people. That happened when the people of Windsor and the people of Grand Falls agreed. They agreed that amalgamation was in the best interests of their town. It didn't happen over two or three days, or two or three months. It didn't happen, Mr. Speaker, over two or three years. It probably took eight, ten, or twelve years for that to take place. Then, all of a sudden, this grandiose concept of amalgamation was brought in, being forced upon the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not just in the Northeast Avalon but throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has been forced upon the people all over the Province. We heard questions today from the Member for Humber East to the Premier regarding the West Coast of this Province. We have heard my colleague, the critic for Municipal Affairs, outline several cases in this Province where the democratic rights of councillors have been thrown out the door. They have been thrown out, Mr. Speaker, right through the door. Whether you agree or disagree with amalgamation is not the issue, it is whether the people in the communities affected - for example, if they are going to force Port au Bras, Lewin's Cove, and Burin together, then the people of Port au Bras, Lewin's Cove and Burin should have a say. And the Premier should not be the judge. And, if one of the communities does not feel they should be part of the amalgamation process, if the council that was elected by one of the communities decides they should not be part of the amalgamation process, they must have some rights, Mr. Speaker. They must have some resort to go back to the people. The councillors of every municipality in the Province are there because they were elected to be there. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the Leader and the Opposition House Leader on this side both believe in democracy, but that is not what is happening in this Legislature. Democracy is not taking the front row.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the biggest concern that every member in this House should have - I would suspect, I would venture to bet that most members in this Legislature have not read the bill. I would venture to bet that most members in this Legislature over there have not read Bill 50. There are not very many members over there who realize what the notwithstanding clause is going to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you read it?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, we did, Mr. Speaker, in detail, and we were briefed in detail as to what this is going to mean to democracy in this Province when you have the Cabinet -

MR. WALSH: Oh, listen to the old -

MR. TOBIN: Oh, listen to the old petition presenter. The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island should interrupt when he lacks the courage to present petitions on behalf of councils he was elected to represent. When I turn my back on my constituents, Mr. Speaker, I will turn my back on the Legislature, unlike the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, who turned his back on his constituents but still (inaudible) into the legislature. That is the problem with the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. He would be better off not interjecting, and if he continues doing it he should go back to his own seat. He does not even know the rules of the House let alone know how to present a petition.

Now, the notwithstanding clause - I will say it again and I will repeat it every time I get the opportunity - notwithstanding the Municipalities Act. This Government will do what it wants to do; we will force amalgamation against the wishes of the people; we will not give the councils any rights; we will not give the elected representatives any rights in what they say and in what they do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: The Speaker is letting it go, so there is not much we can do about it. We will do -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

AN HON. MEMBER: How much time do you have left, this is a good speech.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, how did the amalgamation of Grand Falls - Windsor come about? A lot of it was done by the elected councils and the present Leader of the Opposition, who played a major role in doing something right in this Province and let me say a little bit more on that. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and I am sure the Member for Windsor, played a role in having that dealt with in a very satisfactory -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I really believe that; I think both the members and the councils, and the Minister played a role, but there was a lot of groundwork laid in Grand Falls - Windsor before this crowd took over the power of the Province; there was a lot of ground work done in Grand Falls - Windsor before that, as there was a lot of groundwork done in the Placentia area, nobody was more involved in it than the present member who was involved, as a mayor, and I will give him full marks for it. But there is nobody involved in this mess except the Premier of the Province; he is the only one involved in this mess as it relates to forced amalgamation.

Resettlement: Do not tell me anything about resettlement in this Province because I represent a large portion of the Province that was resettled. I represent people from areas of this Province who were booted from their homes; they were driven from their homes, driven from their lands which they worked so hard to harvest. The wharves and the stages they had built throughout Placentia Bay, they had all of that one day and the next day they had nothing because of the policies of the Liberal Administration in the 60s, of which this Premier was part of and to which this Premier is bringing the Province back. It was the policies of the former Liberal Administration with people like the present Premier and the future Justice Minister. It was their policies that drove people from the islands and outports of this Province and now what do we have? We have the same thing coming upon us again.

There are some of them in your district, you should talk to the people from Placentia Bay. I have spent a lot of time there; go down to Petit Forte where they tried to deny them a road; this crowd tried to deny them a road, when they fought the policies of the Smallwood era, the Smallwood, Wells, Roberts era; when they fought the policies of those three men and more, they stayed in Placentia Bay; they refused to move and they are proud citizens today living in their own community. Thanks to the Progressive Conservative regimes in this Province and in Ottawa they will have a road going through their territory.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Grand Bank, that Bill 50 be not now read a second time, but that it be read a second time this day six months hence. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is ruled in order and hopefully, hopefully, Mr. Speaker this motion, if it is accepted by the House will do what it has not done before. It will give the councils on the Northeast Avalon the opportunity to discuss this Bill; it will give the Federation of Municipalities the opportunity to discuss the Bill in great detail. That is a major concern that these groups and these organizations be not scoffed at as this Government did, not be given the royal boot, and not be ignored, but at least now the Federation of Municipalities and the councils throughout the province, at least the ones affected by the notwithstanding clause - the City of Mount Pearl Act, the City of St. John's Act, the St. John's Metropolitan Area Act, and the Municipalities Act - that I would ask, Mr. Speaker, with all sincerity, with whatever amount of sincerity that I can muster I would plead to the members opposite to vote for that resolution. Then the people who are involved, the groups who represent the councils throughout this Province, the men and women elected to councils throughout this Province, the men and women on the Federation of Municipalities, headed, by the way, by a very capable woman, Mr. Speaker, from the district of Burin - Placentia West, and a good friend I might add, but let them have the opportunity to have their public hearings, to go around and meet with the councils and get input. Let the Federation of Municipalities have input from their councils on this piece of legislation before it is rammed down their throats. Let them, Mr. Speaker, have the opportunity to listen. Is that asking too much of members in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker? Is that asking very much for the men and women in this Legislature, to let democracy work - to let it work, Mr. Speaker - and in so doing, have hearings throughout the Province?

I can tell you, do not let anyone here let their head swell to the extent that they know everything. Do not let your head swell to the extent that you feel you are better and have more knowledge than the Federation of Municipalities. Do not let that happen, Mr. Speaker. Vote for this resolution. Give the people the opportunity to have six months to debate this issue, Mr. Speaker, to go around the Province, to have input from the councils from one end of the Province to the other, including Labrador and the Labrador Coast.

Mr. Speaker, that is what is important here, and I will repeat it once more. I have probably said it ten times. The notwithstanding clause, Mr. Speaker, overrides the rights of all of these Acts for this Government to do the deed that most people would never dream of; for this Government to inflict their views, their views, upon the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and not the views of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Six months is not a long time, Mr. Speaker, but six months will give the Federation of Municipalities the opportunity to travel throughout this Province to let the Federation convene meetings in various sectors of this Province to see if the councils agree with the notwithstanding clause. I would suspect they do not agree, Mr. Speaker, with the elimination of the democracy that has been bestowed upon the people with this Act. I would suspect they do not. If we do not do it, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that people will regret the day in this Legislature, the people in this Legislature who deny, and I hope they do not, but if there is anyone in this Legislature who denies the right for the councils in their districts to have the right to be heard, to have the right to express their views and opinions on this piece of legislation, then I believe the electorate will deal with you in the next election.

Democracy is a wonderful thing. Do not be part of a team that denies it, because that is what is happening. I can say to my colleagues opposite, Mr. Speaker, who have been involved in the Federation of Municipalities, and I was around councils myself for a few years - I spent a few years on council, and served as a councillor and deputy mayor and other things in this Province, as my colleague from Carbonear, my colleague from Placentia, my friend and colleague from Humber Valley, and other places throughout the Province - we were involved, Mr. Speaker, and many others were involved in elected councils throughout this Province. There is nothing more discouraging, when you are a volunteer serving on these councils, than to have Government ram something down your throat, and we all know that from time to time it happens, but I have never in my adult life seen anything introduced in the legislation of this Province that overruled every bit of authority that we have. I have never seen anything that overrules the Municipalities Act like this does. Now, Mr. Speaker, how can somebody vote for a notwithstanding clause when we look at what has happened in Quebec? How can they wrap their minds around voting for a notwithstanding clause in this Province? That is what I would like to know. If I could get the Minister's attention for a minute. When the Minister gets up to speak I ask him to address a couple of issues. Why does he think it is fair to bring this piece of legislation to the House of Assembly and not provide it to the Federation of Municipalities, not have given the opportunity to the City of Mount Pearl, the City of St. John's, the Metropolitan Board, and indeed everyone else in this Province that would have an interest in this piece of legislation? How can he justify bringing this piece of legislation to the House overruling all the acts these people worked with and dealt with, and have for the past number of years? I am asking the Minister a question. How can he justify it? I am sure he will have an answer when he gets up. I say to the Minister of Social Services that I am very sincere about this Bill. I am very serious about it. I think it is a bad piece of legislation. I think it is the worst piece of legislation that has been introduced here in this Legislature for some time. We have seen how this Government has brought in legislation in the past that has not been approved. We have seen how they have abused the rights of this Legislature to do things that were contrary to the wishes and the well-being of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but we have never seen a Government before abolish the Municipalities Act, abolish the City of Mount Pearl Act, abolish the City of St. John's Act, and abolish the Metropolitan Board Act. I think that is serious, Mr. Speaker. There are a lot of other questions that I want answered, like the cost to the taxpayers of the City of St. John's who will now operate the Aquarena and places like that. The Bill clearly states, Mr. Speaker, title to all property and assets of the Canada Games Park Commission is vested in the St. John's Municipal Council of the City of St. John's and that all of the obligation and liabilities of the Canada Park go with it. Now, Mr. Speaker, where are the Members for St. John's on this piece of legislation? Are they going to the Premier and Minister and saying, Mr. Minister and Mr. Premier, are you going to cause an additional tax burden upon the people we represent?

No, Mr. Speaker, they are not. Because the people of St. John's will pay and pay fairly dearly for that type of a service that has been imposed upon them. I challenge any Member for the City of St. John's to deny that it will cost the citizens any money to accept the Canada Games Parks Commission. I will challenge any Member opposite to stand up and say that as a result of all of this down-loading it will not cost the taxpayers of St. John's additional funding. That is the question that has to be answered. And I wonder -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, well, Mr. Speaker, yes, the Minister of Finance, does he care? No!

MR. SIMMS: Does he know? No.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, he does not care and he does not know. The Minister of Education could not care less because he knows he is so desperate out in his district he will never be back in the Legislature again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Go back to University!

MR. TOBIN: Well, that is what he is hoping for. He is hoping, Mr. Speaker, that some -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: And what about the Member for Pleasantville? Is he concerned? I think he probably is. If there is any Member opposite concerned about the down-loading of these facilities upon the citizens -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Then it is only the citizens, I say to the Member. According to this, it is only the citizens of St. John's. Is he concerned about the down-loading? I would say he is. I want to be fair, Mr. Speaker, to the Member for Pleasantville. I honestly believe if there is a Member opposite who is concerned about this down-loading, about this thrashing that the Government is going to give to the citizens of St. John's, it is the Member for Pleasantville.

I really believe that. But I can say that the other Members for St. John's who are in the House today - I notice some of them are not here and I would suspect for good reason, Mr. Speaker - but I can say in all honesty, with this piece of legislation, the Members opposite do not really realize what this piece of legislation means. Most of them think that this piece of legislation deals with Mount Pearl and St. John's. That is what they feel, a Mount Pearl and St. John's issue.

Well I can say to the Members opposite that this piece of legislation only touches the surface as it relates to St. John's and Mount Pearl. It goes far beyond St. John's and Mount Pearl. It goes to the basic principle of democracy for every man, woman and child in this Province. That is where this piece of legislation is heading. To the detriment of every man, woman and child in this Province who believe and support democracy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will table it a lot quicker than the Minister or the Premier tabled the report recommending the low bidder. A lot quicker than the acting Minister of Works, Services and Transportation tabled the report giving $19 million to your political buddy. I will tell you I will table it a lot quicker than that. The scandal that has been inflicted upon this Province, and now you are going to try to wipe out democracy in the same day. That is what is taking place.

AN HON. MEMBER: Scandal, scandal, scandal.

MR. TOBIN: Scandal after scandal this Government has inflicted and been involved in. Scandal after scandal, there is no doubt about it, Mr. Speaker. Scandal after scandal, $19 million to your buddies, and now -

AN HON. MEMBER: More than nineteen million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and he says be careful. I would suspect that it is too bad you are not in Cabinet or we would have more to talk about. Now, Mr. Speaker, scandal and corruption has been the name of the day for this Government, corruption and scandal in the past week like we have never witnessed. That is what has taken place in this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, today they are asking us to take away the democratic rights of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

MR. SIMMS: Shame, shame.

MR. TOBIN: But there is a motion on the floor for a six month hoist.

MR. SIMMS: Sixties politics is what it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier - I do not know if my colleague was here or not, but I talked about the resettlement, and I said the days of the Smallwood, Wells, Roberts era is over in the Province in terms of resettlement and forced amalgamation. That day is over.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What was that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Now that is what you are paying him a $100,000 for, brilliant contributions like that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is not worthy of a response.

MR. SIMMS: I expect more from that Minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: No you should not.

AN HON. MEMBER: You want to use him as a tourist attraction.

MR. MATTHEWS: Let them settle down. Take your time and let them settle down.

MR. TOBIN: I have all day. What is it the Premier says?

AN HON. MEMBER: Let me start again.

MR. TOBIN: I got all day. Mr. Speaker, let me start again.

MR. SIMMS: As the Premier would say, let me start again.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think this piece of legislation that we are debating here today is far too important for any of us to laugh and make jokes, far too important because everyone here in this - I would suspect, Mr. Speaker, that there are a lot of members opposite who have councils, towns, and communities throughout this Province that are involved in the amalgamation issue. We may not all believe and feel the same as the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, we may not share his views. He obviously does not share ours. He believes in forced amalgamation as he told his councils, and that is up to him, Mr. Speaker. I disagree with it, with forced amalgamation.

The Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Cabinet in other words, may, in the order referred to in that subsection: amalgamate a town with a town or a city and annex areas to a city or town; establish an area as a town; and disestablish a town. That is the type of powers. Those are the full powers that they have, Mr. Speaker.

Disestablish a town.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No feasibility studies, no anything. Disestablish a town. Does the Member for Carbonear want Government to go out and disestablish Carbonear? Does the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir want Burgeo disestablished? Does the Member for Lewisporte want Lewisporte disestablished? Does the new Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker -

MR. MATTHEWS: He don't even know, look.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker. Does the new Minister of Justice want Bonavista disestablished? And the Member for LaPoile would not know if they disestablished his district! According to the comments he has been making today.

But this is the power, and I say to you as I wind down this debate for today - it will start again Monday - but before that I will say to you, that this is the day that the decision will be made, as we start debate on this piece of legislation, as to whether or not we give fourteen men and women of this Province - regardless of the Government, regardless of the political stripe - whether we invest in the powers of fourteen men and women in this Province the right to destroy the way of life that we have known in this Province for decades, for hundreds of years.

But that is what we are being asked. We are being asked as legislators of this Province to invest powers into fourteen men and women to destroy the democratic rights that we have known. Do you believe for one minute that fourteen men and women have the right to decide whether or not Marystown, Burin, Lewin's Cove, Carbonear Placentia, Grand Bank or Harbour Breton should be disestablished? Do you believe that, Mr. Speaker? That people here believe in that? Well they don't.

Well, that is what you have been asked to do under this piece of legislation. I would suggest very strongly that you not vote for this piece of legislation. That you agree with the resolution that has asked for a six month hoist and proceed to do what needs to be done, and that is let the Federation of Municipalities, the councils and other groups that are affected, have a say in this piece of legislation.

I adjourn the debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my intention to continue tomorrow with the same Bill.

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