November 26, 1991           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLI  No. 78

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before proceeding to the routine business, on behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the Speaker's gallery today, the Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, His Excellency Anton Mac Unfraidh.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: For the benefit of hon. members, they might be interested in knowing that prior to His Excellency's appointment to Canada, he was the Ambassador to Iraq and concurrently to Cyprus, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon.

I say to His Excellency: Céad míle fáilte ag Talamh an Éisc a Shoilse.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: For the benefit of hon. members, and in case His Excellency did not understand, either, it is: Welcome to Newfoundland.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we welcome the Ambassador. I look forward to seeing him a little later on. This must be a real pleasure for him to have a posting in a country like Canada, I guess, after being all around the world.

In the absence of the Premier, I would like to ask a question of the Minister of Forestry. Last week, last Thursday, to be precise, the Dominion Bond Rating Service Limited placed the ratings of Abitibi-Price and two other eastern Canadian forest products companies on rating alert. Is he aware of this, and can he tell us what potential repercussions there might be for Newfoundland as a result?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member will know, that rating applied to Abitibi-Price, the corporate body, that has mills operating all over Canada. He will also know, representing Grand Falls, that the Abitibi-Price mill in Grand Falls, itself, as a result of the restructuring and negotiations with their unions, and other things they have done, has been making money these past few months.

So one of the concerns is the effect that the Abitibi-Price, the corporate body's position will, as he referred to, have on the operation at Grand Falls. But the mill, itself, in Grand Falls and the operation in Newfoundland is doing quite well, thanks to a commitment by the work force and by the company, and hopefully, any difficulties Abitibi-Price, itself, is having will be overcome. Hopefully, it is due purely to the downturn in the newsprint industry, as opposed to any other problems.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, officials in my office spoke to the analyst from the bond rating agency. They indicated that they issued the alert because they expect major plant closures - not temporary shutdowns, but major plant closures. I ask the minister, is he aware of whether or not the Premier, or has he, himself, spoken to the chief executive officers of Abitibi-Price, for example, and does he have any concerns in that area at all?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I personally spoke with the chief executive officer of Abitibi-Price about two weeks ago. I don't know the date, specifically, but it was about two weeks ago. I might say that present, also, was the resident manager and other officials of the Grand Falls unit and, no, there was no indication. Of course, they have made a public announcement, Abitibi has said publicly, that there will be no downtime the rest of this year, and, of course, we are getting close to the rest of this year, 1991. At that point in time, they were not anticipating downtime in 1992, although it is always possible, as the hon. member would know. If there is any further deterioration in the international markets, that might well be.

I can tell the hon. member that one of Abitibi's biggest problems today, and I would think that this applies to all of the Abitibi mills, is the high Canadian dollar, and the problems that is causing for them. I am sure, with his connections with the Federal Government, he will make that concern known, and ask them for a policy that would bring about a reduction in the value of the Canadian dollar.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, my greatest fears now have been reached, because what the minister has just said obviously makes me aware that he doesn't know what he is talking about, or what is going on. Unfortunately, the bond rating agency, itself, doesn't think that the problems are short-term, nor do they think they can be solved either by a recovery in the newsprint prices or, in fact, by a drop in the value of the Canadian dollar. The industry experts, themselves, are saying that, Mr. Speaker. The industry experts say the real problem is the fact that there is an overcapacity of about 1 million to 1.5 million tons - 1 million to 1.5 million tons in Eastern Canada, Mr. Speaker, and also, that you have too many plants that would require a lot of capital investment, particularly to meet environmental requirements.

Now, I want to ask the minister, what process exactly does he have in place to monitor this particular situation? Can he give the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and particularly those working, some assurance and some comfort that there is nothing to fear with respect to that? Because of all of this over-capacity, it is an important question. Secondly, has the Government, for example, offered to assist companies with any of their environmental expenditures? Has the Government offered that?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, the only assurance that I can give the people of Newfoundland is that in our conversations - and they are ongoing because of the situation in the world market, and because of our concerns with the effect it will have on Abitibi-Price, Grand Falls or Abitibi-Price, Stephenville - the executive officers of the company have indicated to us that they are not anticipating any downtime in the mill.

They are fully aware of the situation in the world market, aware of the over supply, and aware of the solutions. They know that Abitibi-Price closed the mill already in Canada and that the other Abitibi-Price mills are taking downtime but, with that knowledge, they are telling me and Government, at this time, that they are not anticipating any downtime in the short-term. If the situation continues to deteriorate, there may well be, but they are not prepared to speculate as to what will happen in the next six, seven, eight or nine months.

Mr. Speaker, in answer to the second part of his question: Has the Government offered any help or any assistance? - every time the companies, Abitibi-Price and Kruger, come to Government with requests for specific assistance, we entertain their proposals, we look at their requests and we consider what we can do. To this point in time, Abitibi-Price, other than having ordinary talks they would have with the Province with regard to silviculture, or things for which the Province is responsible, have made no specific requests. As a matter of fact, Abitibi-Price is happy with their performance in Grand Falls and in Stephenville. Their only concern, of course, is what is happening in the world market, over which they do not have a lot of control.

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

MR. SIMMS: Just one final supplementary to the minister. The minister referred earlier to the fact that Abitibi made money in Grand Falls, but we all know Kruger made money, too, up until a month or so ago, and they are facing some difficulties, so I am not sure you can take any comfort in that fact. Let me ask him this: The minister mentions - and I am trying to get at it because of the fact that it can be kind of cloudy at times - he mentions 'in the short-term'; I am talking about the next year, within the next twelve months. Can he give the same assurance in the next twelve months that we have nothing to fear, or is he just talking about the next month, the end of this year?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, 'in the short-term' were my words. What I am saying to the hon. House, Mr. Speaker, is, Abitibi-Price management have not given us any reasons to believe that they will be experiencing downtime or any particular problems in the next year, I guess, they are talking; but they do not say year, and I suspect, Mr. Speaker, that, if one is reading what is happening in the newsprint industry today, across Canada, there are very few chief executive officers who would be prepared to predict what will happen to their operation, to their mill or to the industry, in the next year or two or three. But, to the extent that we can be assured, Grand Falls is not anticipating any downtime relative to their markets or relative to their ability to produce and compete. No, we are not aware that Abitibi-Price, at this point in time, is concerned about downtime or any other negative effects in the mill in the short-term, and the short-term I take to be in the next months or even the next year.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Education. Recent newspaper reports state there are major reductions in student enrolments at the Bonavista and Clarenville campuses of the Eastern Community College. Bonavista, I believe, has only fifty full-time students and Clarenville is down 25 per cent his year. Does the Government intend to close the Bonavista campus, and will it close Clarenville unless enrolment improvements?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that in many parts of the Province the numbers are up dramatically. New programs are being offered, but in certain other areas the numbers may be down. Mr. Speaker, last year during the budgetary process Government decided to explore and examine the mandate of what were called the under utilized campuses but that did not include Clarenville. Clarenville has had a broad program for many years, but we are looking at the future role of certain campuses in the Province. Certainly, our intention is to emphasize the importance of education to the Province and to rural Newfoundland. At this point in time we do not intend to close any campuses, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: The Minister says that at this time they do not plan to close any campuses. Will the Minister tell us which other campuses are being looked upon, because they have declining enrolments, and in the rationalization process he always talks about which campuses do have their heads on the chopping block?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to elaborate a little on what I said about the importance of education to this Province. In the past few days the economic planning group has been travelling the Province and people have been saying that our future lies in developing our human as well as our material resources. This Government believes that education is vital to the future so we do not plan to close any campuses. The former Government considered closing a number of them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

DR. WARREN: I will not name them. The hon. member laughs, but he knows better than I do the campuses they considered closing. We do not plan to close any campuses. We are looking forward with optimism to the future of our educational institutions, Mr. Speaker. We are examining the future roles of a number of them. We have asked Mr. Bill Shallow, a former president of a college, to travel the Province and talk with people in the various regions, and to propose a long-term plan so that our educational institutions can serve the future needs of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEARN: How hypocritical. The minister talks about the great interest in education. The major agencies today are meeting to discuss the lack of funding in the education of this Province. I ask the minister, based upon comments from his own officials when they say that the community colleges have reduced capacity and are full-time offerings which is part of Government's program to reduce offerings across the college system. What is the Government up to? Are they going to use the old CN philosophy, and that is down grade services until they force people out or reduplicate or duplicate the old centralization philosophy of the former Liberal government, cut off services to the rural areas so that people give up, go away, and then say we will have to close the colleges now. Is this the minister's intention?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many times I have to say it to the hon. member. We are not following in their footsteps, Mr. Speaker. We decided we are not following in their footsteps. We are going to expand the programs that are offered in the educational institutions in this Province. The reason some of the campuses have had some difficult times is because they were never sure year after year before we came into power what money they were going to get, what services or programs they were going to have offered. They were never certain. We are trying to put in place a long-term plan for the colleges in this Province. We want to assure the people of this Province that we are going to prepare our human population to meet the challenges of the next century, and we are going to do it in all parts of this Province, rural as well as urban.

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. With the announcement today to the Fishermen's Union by the Minister of Fisheries, and with the release of his fisheries management discussion paper, I am wondering if the Minister of Fisheries could inform the House whether or not the Province had any specific direct recommendations to the federal minister pertaining to reforming licensing and allocation systems for the Atlantic Fishery. Can the minister inform the House whether or not he had anything in front of the federal minister for consideration before the minister released his document today.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, there had been a lot of discussion in recent weeks and months, I guess, about the matter of licensing and it is interesting to note that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans continue to issue part-time registrations. In fact in 1991, I am told, there are something like 7,300 registered part-time fishermen as opposed to, I believe, about 11,000 in 1990. I think most people, Mr. Speaker, recognize the fact that we have to put some order into the fishery. In fairness to the full-time fishermen who have invested, in some cases, substantial amounts of money into the fishing industry, we have to afford them some protection.

The White Paper that we are going to be introducing in the House within weeks now will outline in some detail precisely what the Province's thoughts are on part-time fishermen and how to deal with the matter without inflicting too much hardship on those who derive at least a part of their income from the part-time fishery.

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

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

I am pleased that the Minister is concerned about the part-time fishermen, but what I was asking him was: Did the Province make any submissions to the federal minister about reforming licensing and allocations systems? The Minister announced to the fishermens' union this morning that he is looking at an agency to look into the licensing and allocation aspects for the Atlantic fishery, two agencies, one for the East Coast and one for the West Coast. I ask the Minister: Did the Province have any proposals, direct, specific submissions, made to the federal minister pertaining to licensing and allocation reform?

The other thing I wanted to ask the Minister, thinking that the answer was going to be yes, is: Does he support the reform that is being proposed by the federal minister?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I apologize if I misunderstood the question. Two days in a row now the hon. gentleman for Fogo raised some questions about part-time registrations, and I assumed the hon. gentleman was referring to the same matter.

Yes, we have made representation to the federal minister. In fact, when I met with him last Thursday that was one of the items on the agenda, the minister's proposal to restructure his department. I believe it was on Wednesday of last week we presented the minister with the Province's position paper on joint management.

The Premier has already, of course, written the Prime Minister and sent him a copy of the submission. In his letter to the Prime Minister, the Premier suggested that maybe his Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and I should sit down together and discuss the whole matter of joint management, and exactly to what extent, maybe, the minister's proposal to involve some kind of restructuring of his department, how we can marry it to the Province's position. I am expecting that that meeting will be held with the federal minister hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

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

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

I am wondering if the Minister could be a little more direct in his answer. I am wondering, since the federal minister is proposing an Atlantic provinces agency to deal with licensing and allocations in the fishery, that if the Government, or the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, will be involved in the agency? The second part of the question is: if this agency is established, which it looks very much like it will be, what affect will that have on the issue of joint management?

Because the last number of weeks we have heard a lot of talk from the minister and the Premier about a joint management arrangement with the Federal Government. I am wondering now, with this Atlantic fisheries agency that is going to look at licensing and allocations, what affect that may have on the Province's position of going forward for a joint management agreement with Ottawa.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, hopefully the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and his counterparts will pay heed to what the Province of Newfoundland has had to say with respect to the need for some kind of a joint management regime. Surely the Federal Government must recognize the fact that Newfoundland, more than any other Atlantic province, has a larger stake in the fishery than any other part of Canada. Consequently, it is certainly of little comfort to us that most of the decisions made in terms of fisheries management are made in Ottawa. But while we welcome the minister's announcement that maybe he will be doing some restructuring, we would certainly expect him to pay heed to what the Province has had to say, and to join the Province in coming up with some kind of a regime that would be fairer and certainly would better suit the problems in Newfoundland as it applies to the fishery.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A question for the Minister of Social Services. One of the recommendations in the report on workplace stress in the Department of Social Services calls for the establishment of a joint management/employee task force to find ways to improve working conditions and the quality of client services. Has the Government agreed to this recommendation? Have they made a decision to go forward with this? If so, when will the task force be appointed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. HOGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No, the Government has not agreed to the appointment of any task force and is not likely to do so.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I hope this task force study which the minister said was so important, that all the recommendations are not going to be forgotten like that, or any of the report. The report is a serious indictment of the working conditions in the Department of Social Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, certainly low morale and stress will affect the quality of service. What actions will the minister take immediately to reduce the negative effect as this report points out on client services?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, the department has already undertaken discussions with the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees, through Mr. March, and the mechanism that would be put in place to address the concerns outlined in the report. He seemed quite happy with the representation that we have made to him. We might not necessarily call it a task force; it might be done through labour-management committee meetings. A number of vehicles have been discussed and when the employees agree on what they want the department and Government will do it.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, it seems like the minister is putting the responsibility on NAPE. The minister is running the Department of Social Services. The problems of job stress and low morale are particularly severe in the Child Protection branch, as pointed out in the report. Has the minister targeted this branch for special attention to improve the work conditions and client services?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. HOGAN: No particular part of the Department of Social Services has been targeted for any special attention, Mr. Speaker. We are dealing with all sections of the department equally, as the concerns arise in each department. I might also point out to the hon. member that this study was first undertaken and initiated five years ago, which means it started in 1986 when NAPE undertook to look at this particular problem. It was not until three years ago that it was determined that the study should go ahead.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, well good for whoever did it five years ago, but it is the minister now who has got to make the decision as to whether he follows the implementation of that report.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, 75 per cent of the employees in the Department of Social Services said that more staff and reduced caseloads would help to relieve job stress. How many additional staff does the Department need to reduce caseloads to manageable numbers, and does the minister have the support of Cabinet to hire the additional staff required?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, probably we are reading two different reports because I did not read that in the report. The employees that I spoke to did not read it in the report, and I am sure that the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees did not read it in the report. I would also let the hon. member know that I know that NAPE is not running my Department. They never did and they never will, not while I am there.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Fisheries. Unlike the other areas he spoke about earlier this is a matter within his jurisdiction. It has to do with lobster prices in this Province and the attempts to stabilize these prices by having changes made to the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act. I wonder if the minister could advise the House whether or not the joint request of the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Limited and the Fishermen's Union made in the fall of 1989 for changes in the act are about to be implemented?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I understand that matter is now before the Legislation Review Committee and I expect when they report on it there will be some action taken.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the minister ought to know that in May of 1990 the Premier, in a letter, said: it was my intention to have the amendments introduced in the present session, that is in the spring of 1990, but says he is not able to confidently assure they will receive royal assent during the spring and will be dealt with in the fall of 1990. Mr. Speaker, it is now the fall of 1991 and I wonder if the Minister of Fisheries, or perhaps the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations could assure the House on behalf of the Government that this legislation will be dealt with this fall, will be brought forward for debate this fall in this session of the House of Assembly?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The legislation that was discussed with representatives of the Fishermen's Union and the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador as well has been drafted and prepared. It is currently in the hands of the Chair of the Legislation Review Committee. He has assured me there will be an opportunity for public input into that as the committee normally does its work through this fall. Whether or not it will get completed in time for it to be done on this agenda I cannot commit to the House at this time.

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

MR. HARRIS: My final question is a quite simple one. Two lobster seasons have passed since this was first proposed to the Government. Can the minister assure the House with confidence that there will not be another lobster season pass before this legislation is before the House and dealt with by this House, i.e. in the fall or spring session? Can you assure us of that?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

Only from the point of view that we will endeavour to do whatever is possible to make sure that the changes that are currently drafted, if there are no further changes that are deemed to be necessary upon the review of this committee and brought forward to the House then we can probably have a fairly speedy passage of that new legislation. But, I would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, so that members of the House are not left with the impression that pricing for lobsters is in total disarray, under the current provisions of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act they have managed to settle on the issue of lobster prices every year without the amendments that are now being proposed, so I am sure that the industry will be able to deal with it one way or the other, but we are confident that the changes proposed will probably help the situation and we will do everything possible in the course of events to see that it is through without undue delay.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

My question is to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture and the Minister responsible for Wildlife. Could the minister advise the House if his department has arrived at a decision with respect to a proposal by a caribou game farm near Peter's River on the Avalon River?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, we have not come to any conclusion. As the hon. member is aware there is a proposal before Government to establish a caribou game farm in the Peter's River area. We are analyzing the proposal. It is a very complicated situation. There are a lot of people for it and there are a lot of people who feel that it might not be the way we should go. We are getting advice from all over Canada from people who have game farms, province's and experts. No, Mr. Speaker, we have not come to any conclusion. Of course, I might tell the hon. member that when we do, it will probably be important enough for me to make a statement in the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

Is the minister aware that game farming has been tried in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario? And is the minister also aware that in Alberta alone over 1,000 animals have been detected as having a disease, in particular tuberculosis, and that this particular disease has been passed along to cattle, pigs and even to humans?

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

MR. FLIGHT: I am aware of all the conditions that the hon. member raises, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure I am aware of them to the extent he raised them. Mr. Speaker, I am tempted to answer the question by asking one, because I am trying to determine whether or not the hon. member is supportive or non-supportive of game farming in Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary: Would the minister take the advice of two of his staff who, in a memo in February, 1991, advised that the department is concerned about the risk of accidental escapes and outbreak of disease with game farming? The employees are concerned that this could happen in our Province and has advised the minister to tread very carefully with regard to this particular issue?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what advice the member is referring to, whether it was advice I received from officials of the Department of Environment and Lands or advice I received from my officials in the Department of Forestry and Agriculture. But I will point out to the hon. member that with regard to most of the concerns he has raised as a result of game farming using non-indigenous species, imported deer or whatever, there are very few, if any, game farms in Canada that use indigenous species.

Of course, what we are talking about here is caribou game farming, indigenous to the Province, and there is no evidence, or at least, Mr. Speaker, there is no concrete evidence, that the concerns that other provinces have had will indeed be a factor here in Newfoundland, because of the fact that caribou are natural to Newfoundland, and if one happened to break out, then it would go back into the wild from whence it came.

So, Mr. Speaker, a lot of the concerns the hon. member is raising might not necessarily be relative to Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

On behalf of hon. members, before we proceed with the routine business of the day, I would like to welcome to the galleries today a delegation from the Council of Buchans, from the District of Windsor - Buchans, in the persons of Mayor Harris Walsh and Councillors Darrell Lambert and Donna Lambert.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, I would like to welcome to the galleries, twenty-five Grades X, XI and XII students with their chaperons and teachers, Mr. Lorne Roach and Mr. Wade Colbourne from Long Island Academy, Beaumont.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

I have to ask where we are now. I went on to Petitions. Is the hon. member standing on a Petition? I had not moved past Petitions so the hon. member on a Petition.

MR. KELLAND: Thank you. I rose as soon as you called Petitions, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps you did not see me as I have not been here last week and I am almost like a new face, but this is an important petition, Mr. Speaker, and it came to me in two batches and I should mention that by way of explanation.

The first batch bears 3,000 names from Happy Valley - Goose Bay and the second batch, which in effect is really the same petition, the same wording and so on, bears 1,017 names and comes from a variety of communities, some in Labrador, coastal Labrador, north and south, also from parts of the Island such as the Central Newfoundland area, Western Newfoundland, St. Georges, Stephenville and around like that. However, this input from other parts of the Province were collected by the group responsible for the original petition in Goose Bay so I am presenting them as one petition bearing therefore 4,017 names. First, I would like to read the prayer of the petition and ask that the Chair find it in order:

We, the undersigned, are concerned about the number of impaired driving accidents in our Province. We feel that the present penalties for impaired driving are not strong enough to deter people from driving while under the influence of alcohol. The lives of innocent people continue to be devastated needlessly by the impaired driver. We call on our Government to enact legislation which will help to keep drunk drivers off the road. I have signed the front page of that petition, as well, to indicate my support, Mr. Speaker.

The group that presented me with this petition is called Friends Against Drunk Drivers, and they got together and initially formed as the result of a very tragic, fatal traffic accident in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, last August, in which impaired driving causing death charges and related charges were laid. The group, FADD, have been pretty active in their pursuit to encourage and convince legislators that stronger forms of legislation and greater deterrence should be put in place to guard against drunk driving and the terrible statistics that Canada is subject to when it comes to fatalities and injuries. They make it clear to me that they are not an anti-alcohol coalition. Their concern is against the drunk driver and drunk driving.

So, they formed their group and have met with the Premier, as I understand it. Their indication from the Premier was that he was very supportive of their efforts and, in fact, there was indication that a study had been initiated into current legislation as to how it could be up graded and so on. In discussion with some of the members of the FADD group, it came to my attention that they believe that groups such as theirs, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students against Drunk Driving, and so on, should be given, if they have not been already, the opportunity to have direct input into the studies and deliberations undertaken, to see what can be done about better and stronger legislation, stronger deterrence, with respect to wiping out drunk driving in our Province and in Canada.

It is hard to describe the devastation that a small community such as Happy Valley - Goose Bay experiences when a well-known person needlessly loses his or her life as a result of someone operating a vehicle while impaired. It has a far-reaching effect of devastation to the community, a special devastation to the family of the victim, but also, I believe, there is a devastation to the family and relatives of the perpetrator, as well. It has a broad-based and far-reaching effect, particularly on small communities where everybody knows everybody else.

I applaud and support the efforts of FADD to bring to the attention of legislators everywhere that more controls have to be put in place, and greater deterrence.

In support of the petition, I was also provided with a copy of a publication which reveals some frightening statistics for Canada. I have not had a chance to confirm these through Stats Canada or anything, but they do show in this particular publication - I would be happy to table it with the petition - that weekly, forty Canadians lose their lives as a result of someone operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, and another 1,250 a week, are injured.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. KELLAND: By leave, for just a minute, please?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. KELLAND: Thank you.

That, to me, is frightening. One life is bad enough, but when you talk about forty fatalities a week as a result of people not being properly in control of their vehicles, I think that is frightening, and it is time that we do take a pretty concerted effort.

I would mention, some of these names come from districts represented by other members, but because it came through the committee in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, I am presenting it here.

I call on every member of this House to lend their strong support to having the studies completed, the proper input allowed, and legislation brought about that would provide a greater deterrent, so that, once and for all, we can eradicate drunk driving and stop this senseless waste of human life.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support the petition presented so ably by the Member for Naskaupi, and say to him that we, on this side of the House, I am sure, as do all members in the House, support the prayer of the petition. As well, we have all received a communication from this group; the Friends Against Drunk Drivers they are called. In fact, I hope to meet them when I am in Goose Bay, in a couple of weeks time, to discuss the issue a little further with them.

The letter is impressive and, I think, outlines quite clearly their goals and objectives. I want to mention, for fear there are those who may not be so willing to listen to what they have to say - for some strange reason - that they should be aware this group are not an anti-alcohol group. They make that very clear in their letter. They are, of course, solely opposed to drunk driving, and who would not be? Who would not be?

Mr. Speaker, we all know, of course, that this group developed their petition as a result of a local incident that occurred in their area, but they point out, as well, in their communication to all of us as members of the House of Assembly that this is a problem that exists everywhere, not solely in the local area.

They also indicate that they want to work towards stricter enforcement, or stiffer fines, or changes in legislation that might bring about some deterrent, I guess, to people drinking and driving, and some encouragement for the judiciary to make sure that the penalties they impose upon those found guilty of this practice will act as a deterrent. In other words, they should be stricter. In the communication that the member talked about, it is noted that there are forty deaths per week as a result of it. They point out, as well, of course, that the problem seems to be socially acceptable, as says the article that he talked about.

When you consider that this group have, in their catchment area, about 8,000 people in terms of population, and from their own area the petition has about 3,000 names, that is quite a sizeable response from the people in that local community - nearly half the people - well, I guess probably it is half the people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Three thousand adult signatures out of 8,000 people, so that is probably more than half the adults in the area. It is a laudable effort on their part, and we want to commend them for it, as will people from other parts of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to make this point. The penalties, of course, are put in place through federal legislation, through the Criminal Code of Canada, where the minimums and the maximums are put in place. If it is an increase or a change in that legislation that is required, then some other action has to occur elsewhere. It cannot occur here.

But we can, here in this Legislature, appeal to our own Provincial Government and ask them to provide perhaps a bit more funding to ADDC in an attempt to help them better promote the prevention of drunk driving, because that is the agency that is supposed to be doing it on behalf of the Province and on behalf of the people of this Province. That is one thing they could do, provide a bit more funding to the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission.

Another thing we could do, and I recommend it here, Mr. Speaker, if the member is prepared, to draft a short resolution - I can speak on behalf of our party, at least, I cannot speak on behalf of the NDP, but I am sure they would support it, as well - a short resolution which we could send to the Federal Parliament of Canada as some kind of an initiative from our Legislature here in Newfoundland and Labrador. If the member would be willing to initiate such a resolution, I would be prepared to co-sponsor it. We could agree without debate to pass it and have the message passed along. Maybe that is an initiative the member would like to pursue. We would certainly support it, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, am pleased to rise in support of the petition so ably presented by my colleague from Labrador. Mr. Speaker, nothing is more devastating, I guess, than for a person's life to be extinguished by a drunk driver.

All of the Labrador community has felt the effects of the recent incident, and, indeed, many of my constituents have provided their support to this petition.

I, also, want to pay my tribute to the Friends Against Drunk Drivers. The group in Happy Valley/Goose Bay has done an admirable job in making the public more aware of the devastation that can occur as a result of drunk driving. Certainly, I believe they are doing a great service to that community, and, indeed, to the whole Province, to see that we are more sensitive to the issue. They are advocating some significant and specific recommendations to see that such incidents are reduced, and the subject will be an added feature, I am sure, of many more future discussions.

As to further action, I have already spoken to the Member for Naskaupi, and certainly, the idea of putting a resolution to this House is one with which we would concur. I think it is one thing this hon. House can do, it can send a message that this is totally unacceptable and something more must be done. As the hon. the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the statistics on the number of fatalities and the number injured in this way are very disturbing, particularly with respect to our young people, since a greater percentage of our young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty are victims of drunk driving.

So, I am very pleased to support the actions of Friends Against Drunk Drivers and I am pleased to see that the whole House, today, is sensitive to this issue. I hope that whatever actions we initiate here will have effect, and that some meaningful change will come about to stop this horrendous loss of life. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to commend all hon. members who just participated in this petition. I think it is the right time to remind hon. members again about the requirements for a petition, because sometimes they engage in debate, particularly acrimonious debate. I just want to read the appropriate quotation, particularly after it was done properly, in the Chair's view, so that hon. members will remember in the future. It is No. 92 of our own Standing Orders, which says: "Every member offering a petition to the House shall confine himself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it and the material allegations it contains." I believe that all members speaking to it fulfilled these requirements.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 14, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 14, the continuation of Bill 50, on which debate was adjourned yesterday. I don't know if the hon. member who adjourned the debate had time left.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he was speaking by leave of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Speaking by leave?

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, it is a pleasure for me to be able to speak to this amendment. The amendment calls for a six-month delay in bringing Bill 50 to fruition. I don't think it is an extraordinary request; it would, rather, simply allow for assessment of the needs of the people involved, and there are a great number of people involved, especially on the Northeast Avalon, where the future of the residents is addressed by Bill 50.

The six-month hoist would give people time to go along with what the Premier said yesterday with respect to to other areas in the Province, and perhaps, in this area, hold a plebiscite to see what the people really want. Mr. Speaker, I know it will not be in my time, and I don't know if it will ever become a reality - but I find partisan politics in this Legislature distressing, and we are all victims of it. People get up and say things because they are pro or anti, whichever side they are on, and I think that is wrong.

Again, I don't know if there will ever come a day when we will see in the House of Assembly, men and women get to their feet and speak the truth, speak what they feel, what is in their minds, and be elected on the stance they are taking, be elected for what they feel, rather than be toed into or pushed into what they really do not believe in their hearts and souls is the right way to go.

The other night, I watched the House of Commons on television and I heard this lady, who, I must say, was not a member of my political persuasion. But, certainly, I listened intently to what she had to say, and she sort of assured me that my line of thinking wasn't all that wrong, that there were other people out there with the same feelings I had, that sometimes the House of Assembly defeats its purpose.

The House of Assembly is about to pass a piece of legislation just because it was sponsored by the Government in power. In many instances, Mr. Speaker, a piece of legislation is brought to the minister by bureaucrats, who sometimes feel they are aloof from the elected representatives, and sometimes feel that they have all the answers - and perhaps, in a diplomatic way, they might. But in many decisions made by legislators, including our own, what the legislation is all about is sometimes forgotten, and that legislation, in all cases has to do with people.

Today, in 1991, Mr. Speaker, amalgamation, Bill 50, may not mean a great deal to a great many people and people will sort of shove it under the counter and say 'forgotten', it had to come about anyway, but that is not necessarily true, because this has to do with people, their lives, their environment, their families, generally, all aspects of their way of life, and I think that each and every member should be allowed to stand and speak freely of his feelings or his aspirations when it comes to an important piece of legislation that deals directly with the lives of a great number of people.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that somewhere, sometime, the philosophy with respect to legislators and legislative assemblies will change. We have sometimes, now, a free vote, but in most instances, Mr. Speaker, we toe the line. I am not saying that when I was a member of the government, I did not do just that, as well - I did; but I am not saying it was right, because I often had misgivings about toeing a line when I didn't think it was the right thing to do, and I also, in my time as part of government, was always sure to make it quite clear that I found some things that weren't really doing anything for me, and I didn't think were doing anything for the Province in general.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 50, "An Act To Facilitate The Amalgamation Of Certain Municipal Services In Relation To The Northeast Avalon Region." The Northeast Avalon, Mr. Speaker, is made up of, perhaps, a third of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador and, therefore, is very important to this Province. It's the way this is being brought in, Mr. Speaker. I have no problem with amalgamation, none whatsoever. If it was explained to the people, over the long haul, I think people might accept it. But, Mr. Speaker, with the way the Northeast Avalon is being amalgamated, surely goodness, Mr. Speaker, there is not a handful of people out there who feel they know what is really in store for them.

Mr. Speaker, this is a big step. When Kilbride was annexed, when other areas were amalgamated, people agreed with that amalgamation or annexation, because, Mr. Speaker, Government Members, officials and whatever went among the people and explained what the benefits were and, in explaining what the benefits were, brought home to the people a reality that, 'Look, this amalgamation is better for you, better for your community, better for your children, and better for the Province in general.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, that was never done. I attended several meetings that were held before this amalgamation came to a resolution in this House and, Mr. Speaker, there was nothing explained. It was just a matter of organizations, town councils, and individuals who had some feelings as it pertained to amalgamation coming to a meeting and expressing their feelings. What amalgamation was all about was never really defined, and people who had no feeling for amalgamation, had no experience in amalgamation, were just there listening to those briefs. Those briefs were presented mainly by people who had something to gain from what they were saying in their briefs.

Town councils, certainly, spoke about loss of identity and, you know, we are going to be overtaxed, and in many cases it was right, it was true. But the point remains, we were never versed, we were never told, 'Look, amalgamation is not as bad as you think it is, perhaps there is a way out. Perhaps this is the best way to go.' I do not know, because no one ever told me, and 95 per cent of the people on the Northeast Avalon do not know, because this was sort of a secretive thing. There were some hearings held, but there was nothing told to the people with regard to: this is what you are going to gain, this is what you are going to lose, so draw your own conclusions.

The Premier said in the House yesterday that he felt sure the majority of people in the Northeast Avalon agreed with amalgamation. For the life of me, I cannot see where the Premier took his statistics from. I mean, I am positive, I am sure, that 90 per cent of the Goulds do not want amalgamation - 99 per cent of Wedgewood Park does not want amalgamation.

The Minister of Finance smiles, but it is going to come home to rest on the minister and all the other ministers and all the other members for the St. John's area, because now St. John's is wondering about the same thing as I am, what benefits will be derived by St. John's with this amalgamation. This is one of the biggest problems.

I can hear the member for Bellevue talking about the latest poll. You know what polls are used for. Up until some of the statistical -

MR. SIMMS: Wait until he sees the latest polls.

MR. PARSONS: Yes, wait until he sees the latest polls. He just saw a number of figures -

MR. SIMMS: The ones he saw yesterday.

MR. PARSONS: Yes. I am surprised at the Member for Bellevue, who is an educator, why he did not do the calculations himself. I am sure he has the capabilities but why he did not do them I do not know. I am not going to stray from my train of thought and would rather get back to the amalgamation bit. I hope that we are all here in the House and that I can stand in my place when amalgamation is over, and after the people realize how they have been sold down the river by this Government, then let us do a poll. Let us do a poll then.

MR. NOEL: The city did a poll on amalgamation.

MR. SIMMS: They did a poll on St. John's members.

MR. NOEL: On the St. John's population (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: The St. John's members.

MR. NOEL: No, they did it on the St. John's citizens.

MR. PARSONS: The hon. Member for Pleasantville is interjecting again but I do not mind a bit. He is continuously doing that but very seldom does he rise in his place. He might rise in his place today. According to the Open Line show this morning he is going to rise in his place today. The hon. member is going to stand up and be counted, not alone be counted, but he is going to tell the truth. I am not inferring that all members on the other side have told lies but they stretched the truth a little in saying that we are sure the people on the Northeast Avalon recognize the fact that amalgamation is the best thing. It is the best thing since sliced bread. Mr. Speaker, I differ, because, as I said, why the people in St. John's were in favour of the proposed amalgamation was because they did not understand the ramifications of amalgamation. They did not understand what it was going to cost the City of St. John's. It was never told to them by the Minister of Finance. My good friend the Minister of Education is doing his best as far as educating the people of this Province is concerned and I sometimes have to give him a slap on the back and tell him he is doing a fair job. But I say to the Minister of Education, as a minister representing an area in St. John's, he should also educate the people of St. John's about what is going to happen. Tell the people: look, your taxes are going to be raised to offset the cost of the Aquarena, to offset the cost of the Canada Games Park. That is what he should be doing. The Minister of Education should be educating the people of St. John's for the minuses, not the pluses, but the minuses associated with the amalgamation of Wedgewood Park and the Goulds.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) we saved Mount Pearl.

MR. PARSONS: Oh, you saved Mount Pearl by pressuring the Government. Numbers came out. It was just a number's game. The Minister of Finance is always over there yakking away to himself, saying very little of any consequence, but yakking away to himself. The Minister of Finance should have been out on the streets going around to the people before this resolution was passed last spring, saying to the people: look, this might or might not be the best thing for you. Let us have a few meetings where we will get both sides to come and explain to us what this deal is all about.

I am not saying there is a big deal in this cost efficiency as it pertains to the Goulds and Wedgewood Park. Wedgewood Park had all the services that were necessary, that the people needed. They were prepared to pay up front more money to the City of St. John's if it was required. They were prepared to pay more money for fire fighting if it was required. They had all the services as far as recreation is concerned, as far as maintenance of streets and whatever was concerned. They had everything going for them at 6.5 mils.

MR. NOEL: Everything except justice.

MR. PARSONS: The hon. Member for Pleasantville again talking about justice. Well, let us talk about justice. Justice can only be gained in a democratic society. That is what we are all told, but where is the democratic society?

MR. SIMMS: It is not here.

MR. PARSONS: Is it the one that we live in where the Premier can go out in Corner Brook and Mount Moriah and tell them that they can have a plebiscite to decide for themselves if they are going to amalgamate or not, and tell the people of Wedgewood Park and the Goulds: you will do as I say? It was a foregone conclusion when he brought the resolution in the House.

I have to admit to one thing, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Pleasantville did have the guts to stand on his feet.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is unparliamentary.

MR. PARSONS: I doubt if it is unparliamentary. Everyone is born with them. Without them you are not a human being.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, he did stand on his feet, and he did say that he did not agree with the resolution. I have to give him a pat on the back for that. I mean as far as the other people on that side of the House - I mean we have one particular member, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island who was presented with a petition from a great number of - I believe there was - I do not know what percentage of the people signed in St. Phillips, but it was a vast majority.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

MR. PARSONS: The hon. Member for Stephenville says he brought it in. He might have brought it in, but he never presented it.

MR. SIMMS: He would not even sign it.

MR. PARSONS: He would not even sign the petition. You cannot present a petition without signing it, and the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island would not even sign it.


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Yes, he was a wimp. He was afraid of the Premier so he would not get up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, Hansard will show there is no question that when I made the original presentation the petition was not signed. I asked the permission of the House to allow me to sign the petition. I asked permission of the House to allow me to sign the petition so that my comments would remain. The hon. Opposition House Leader at the time, who is now Leader of the Opposition, refused to grant me the permission to sign it at that point in time. Hansard will show that I was more than willing to sign.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is ready to rule on that point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The problem with the member is what he was doing was asking the Legislature to break its own rules, and being Chairman of the Rules Committee for the Legislature, it seemed somewhat ironic to me to have the Chairman of the Rules Committee standing up in this Legislature asking for permission to break the rules that he is supposed to help establish, so there is obviously no point of order, Mr. Speaker, whatsoever.

MR. SIMMS: As usual.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. Member wish to speak to the point of order?


MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order raised by the hon. Member. He is just using that to explain the situation that occurred here in the House earlier, but there is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: I will have to remind the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island that the people responsible for that petition also asked this side of the House if they would present it on their behalf -

MR. SIMMS: And he would not let us.

MR. PARSONS: - and he would not let us. He would not let us present it. He took away the freedoms and the rights of Newfoundlanders. He took it away from them in his own district. A betrayal of his people who elected him.

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman did not agree with what was said in the petition, he should be man enough to stand in his place and say: look, I am presenting the petition, but I do not completely agree with the contents of it. It might be precedent setting, but at least it would be in the record that he presented the petition. When he came into the legislature he was a lame duck. He came in and said: well I have the petition, but certainly someone is going to see that I did not sign it, then it will be thrown out that I am not allowed to present it, then I will not allow anyone else to present it so there is no way I can lose. That is what the member did, but I want to say to the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, that he erred. That was a mistake. Because some of the statistics that the Premier used yesterday might have been taken from the fact that that hon. Member told the Premier all the people down in St. Phillip's, Portugal Cove and all that area, are all prepared to go along with this amalgamation bit. That in itself was wrong.

AN HON. MEMBER: All except Myrle Vokey, his campaign manager.

MR. PARSONS: That in itself was wrong, Mr. Speaker. Let's go back to the burdens on St. John's, and what will be taken away from those two respective towns.

The argument ever since I came into the House as it pertains to Wedgewood Park was: here on one side of the street you have a town that is paying 11.5 mils, and on the other side of the street, perhaps one number right across the street, you have another community which is paying 6.5 mils. But no one ever did an assessment on why that was happening. Why was it happening? Why could neighbouring communities - as we were told, as the argument went; one on one side of the street and another on the other side of the street - supply the services at more of a reasonable rate than 11.5 mils?

We all know, and I can readily see, that the St. John's infrastructure was much larger than the infrastructure in the Goulds or in Wedgewood Park. But the point remains: should they be penalized for being good citizens in administration? By being smaller than the larger town? Why would they be penalized for it? If Wedgewood Park ran a good shop, if the Goulds was efficient, why change it? There was nothing broken in there. I mean all they come across with is: Wedgewood Park is scandalous, Wedgewood Park should be paying their fair share. What is their fair share?

What do we do as Newfoundlanders? Live up to expectations? And if a fellow is painting his house across the way the first thing they don't say: go over and give him a slap on the back and say, boy you're doing a great job. They say: where in the name of God did you get the money to buy the paint? And that is what went on in the Goulds and Wedgewood Park. They were saying: how can they do it for 6.5 mils when St. John's has to charge 11?

I am saying to you, Mr. Speaker, that the people were never told. The people of Wedgewood Park, 99 per cent of them, want it to stay as it is - have its own identity, and rightly so. In 1977 St. John's was asked to take Wedgewood Park and refused because it would be a burden on them. But seeing that a group of people in there got together and formed a council, and that they did such a fine job of governing that small community, that now everyone seems to have a hand out there saying: welcome to the Met. Boy, we certainly would love to have you. Because now the tax base and facilities are there for anyone at all to step in and take over. There is no doubt in my mind that the acquisition of Wedgewood Park, the amalgamation of Wedgewood Park to the City of St. John's, is a plus.

But to the southwest we have the Goulds. All the pluses that were gained by the amalgamation of Wedgewood Park are certainly taken away by the minuses of the Goulds. Let me tell the hon. minister. He should stick to the financial aspect of it, and he is not doing a very good job even at that. But let me tell him about it. The number one thing: when amalgamation comes through, which supposedly is the first of the year, the City of St. John's will be responsible for the highway out as far as Bay Bulls Long Pond. They will be responsible for snow clearing, for sanding and salting, and the cost alone is going to be astronomical. So no matter what is gained from the annexation or amalgamation of Wedgewood Park it will be certainly lost over the long run by what is going to be lost in the cost for the Goulds.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Mount Pearl too.

MR. PARSONS: Well, let me say this to the hon. member, if the need was there, and if it was viable, and if it could be proven to me that this could be a supercity, or should be a supercity, as it was once said, then I certainly would not throw that out the window. I could certainly sit down and listen, and I think that all the people within this area - I am not sure but that is the right way to go. I am not sure but that is the right way to go.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Mount Pearl.

MR. PARSONS: I am not sure, but perhaps it is the right way to go, to amalgamate Mount Pearl. I do not know, and no one else knows, because no one was ever told. There was no information forthcoming from Government to tell the people which is the best for them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, let me say this to the hon. minister. I had the privilege and the pleasure to be part of the group that brought the council to the small town of Flatrock. To show how democratic that was, compared to what we see happening here in the House today, we went around with a petition supporting incorporation in Flatrock, and another group went around with a petition saying that to incorporate the town was wrong. Both petitions were presented to Government. The powers to be, the Minister of Municipal Affairs at the time, came back and said: well we cannot incorporate the area, because the people have spoken and there are 52 per cent who said no to incorporation. Mr. Speaker, it was gone; but we kept plugging at it. We kept talking to the people and saying that this is what you will gain from having your own town. Finally, because we went out and did our work as a group, as a committee, we had seminars within the small community and explained to the people, everyone had a time limitation to address those hearings, and then we had another plebiscite. This time we won by 70-odd per cent. We had 70-odd per cent of the people behind us, to go ahead and incorporate the town.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is justice. That is freedom. That is living in a democratic society, from my point of view. Where is it, in this legislation? Where is it? The Premier stood in his place yesterday, and I am not saying that the Premier lied, but I do not know where he got his facts and figures. He said that the majority of the people on the Northeast Avalon were in favour of what is happening in this Bill 50, and that is wrong. That is wrong. I challenge anyone, including the Premier, to come along and show me where any survey was done - only the one that was done in Wedgewood Park, where 99 per cent said no; only the one that was done in Mount Pearl, where 99 per cent said no.

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

MR. PARSONS: By leave? Just to finish up.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, who are the other people? The St. John's people never knew what they were going to lose. I said before, and I asked questions here in the House about the Aquarena. I was told by the minister that it will be covered out, that they have no fears, the Aquarena is going to make money. The Aquarena, the last year that we were in Government, cost the taxpayers of this Province $400,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) management.

MR. PARSONS: And there is no way; there is good management, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: $900,000.

MR. PARSONS: $900,000. Perhaps one of the finest men who ever managed, and finest manager in this Province is in charge of the Aquarena. I do not have to mention the man's name. There is certainly nothing that can be taken away from him - a fine man. If there is anyone who can make that place viable it is him, and he has not done it, and he does not see it in the future any more than I do.

Mr. Speaker, there is no subsidization as far as the Premier is concerned - no subsidization for a changeover. There is no subsidization as it pertains to the Aquarena or the Canada Games Park or anything else. There is no subsidization for the Goulds for snow clearing and de-icing of the roads, so what do we have?

We have a piece of legislation here which if it was explained to the people they might accept it. Well, it was never explained. The people do not know what it is all about and now the realization is coming, they are saying, what it is about? Perhaps it is not a good piece of legislation, perhaps it is not good for St. John's anymore than it was good for Wedgewood Park or the Goulds.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I thank you very much for the time and I will certainly be supporting the hoist - and I ask all my colleagues on both sides of the House, to just give the people another six months, you can bring it in then and pass it through the House if the people do not speak out. Give them some sort of a plebiscite. Let us count the numbers. Let us say to the people: look, this is democracy and why our forefathers came to this Island. The greatest bastion of democracy is on this Island, do not let it be said to our future generations: you were hoodwinked because you did something when you did not know what it was all about.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Watch out, Mount Pearl.

MR. NOEL: Listen here, you are going to give the member a false impression.

I would like to know what the Member for St. John's East Extern and the proposer of this amendment thinks would be accomplished by a six month hoist .

AN HON. MEMBER: A referendum is (inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Pardon me? A referendum. I know that Members of the Opposition have been talking about the need for a plebiscite or referendum but I wonder would they agree to abide by it? I wonder if the Member for Mount Pearl would agree to abide by the result of a referendum amongst all the municipalities, amongst all the people in the Northeast Avalon?

MR. WINDSOR: If the question was a fair question.

MR. NOEL: If the question was a fair question. Would you consider it a fair question: should the entire Northeast Avalon be amalgamated?


AN HON. MEMBER: Just one question, you have to give the Opposition (inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Would you consider it fair?

AN HON. MEMBER: As compared to what (inaudible).

MR. NOEL: So we have to have a plebiscite -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. NOEL: - that asks a question -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. NOEL: -that suits the member but also has a number of different options.

MR. WINDSOR: One that is fair to everyone.

MR. NOEL: Fair to everyone. The Member for St. John's East Extern said that a survey was done in Wedgewood Park and in some other communities, but a survey was done in St. John's, May 12th and 13th of last year and people were asked the clear question whether they agreed with amalgamation of St. John's with other municipalities and only 19 per cent disagreed.

MR. WINDSOR: Would the member agree with the plebiscite and would he stand by it?

MR. NOEL: Yes.

MR. WINDSOR: You would. You would agree with the plebiscite?

MR. NOEL: I would be quite happy to have a plebiscite if the entire Northeast Avalon area participated, particularly the area including St. John's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Wedgewood Park, The Goulds - and abide by the result of that. I mean the members on the other side say it is undemocratic to amalgamate these different groups. Undemocratic, the Member for St. John's East Extern says, to amalgamate Wedgewood Park with St. John's against their will. Would you consider it democratic if the people of Pleasantville said they wanted to have a vote on whether they could separate from St. John's? Would you allow them to separate from St. John's? If the people from say, St. John's North said we do not want to pay the expenses of running this great metropolis, we do not want to pay the expenses of servicing the Confederation Building and all of these government buildings and all of the hospitals and schools. People in St. John's North do not want to pay it, people in St. John's Centre do not want to pay it. Would that be democratic? Is that what you would agree to?

MR. WINDSOR: It depends on the question.

MR. NOEL: But if that was the question, if the people of Pleasantville said: we want to have a plebiscite on whether we have to stay in St. John's or whether we would be allowed to leave it. Would you agree with that? Would you consider that democracy?

MR. WINDSOR: If there was a feasibility study it would show it was in their best interest.

MR. NOEL: But my question to you was, would you agree that the people of Pleasantville should be allowed to have this vote on whether they want to stay in St. John's or not? The same for North, the same for Centre, the same for Waterford - Kenmount, so we end up with nobody with responsibility for the cost of running the capital city of the Province, according to your reasoning. Now, what kind of reasoning is that? You are trying to make that out to be some sort of advocacy of democracy.

MR. WINDSOR: Would you give me thirty seconds to make a statement? Could I interrupt you for thirty seconds?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: I thank the hon. gentleman and I will not take more than thirty seconds. Let me quote to him an article that comes from the parliamentary update that arrived on my desk today. This comes from meetings held in Zimbabwe by the heads of Governments including Prime Minister Mulroney. At that meeting just a couple of weeks ago it confirms 'the inalienable right to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in framing the society in which he or she lives.' The right to self determination confirmed by the heads of Governments of all the Commonwealth parliaments, Mr. Speaker. This is confirming a decision or statement made in Singapore in 1971. That is what we are talking about here, Mr. Speaker, the right of self determination, and if the example the hon. gentleman refers to of the people of an area of St. John's, say the Pleasantville area, if they could show it was feasible, that it was not injurious to others, and that they could have a separate municipality, I would be happy to give them the right to chose the society under which they live.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Why did you not let Newtown stay on it's own?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Pleasantville.

MR. NOEL: I say to the member that nobody can enjoy real legitimate self determination unless they are prepared to pay for it. Obviously, any group that is given the option of having a situation in which they will pay less taxes while other people pay for the cost of servicing them are going to say, yes, I will opt to pay less taxes, so Pleasantville will leave St. John's, St. John's North will leave, St. John's Centre will leave, and we will have a great city here with nobody paying the expenses for it.

MR. WINDSOR: There is nobody suggesting that.

MR. NOEL: Well, you are suggesting it if you are saying that Wedgewood Park should not be brought into St. John's if it does not want to, and we know the main reason it does not want to is because it is now presently paying half the taxes it is going to pay in a couple of months time. It is the same thing with Mount Pearl. The residents of Mount Pearl are paying 8.7 mils on their domestic properties compared to 11 mils the residents of St. John's pay. The businesses of Mount Pearl pay 8.7 mils as a business tax compared to 16.5 mils in St. John's.

MR. WINDSOR: Tell me why?

MR. NOEL: Because they are not paying their share of the cost of running this entire region.

MR. WINDSOR: They are.

MR. NOEL: No, they are not. Are you telling me that the City of St. John's is that inefficient?

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, I am, and it has been documented.

MR. NOEL: The only difference is that inefficiency. Perhaps we could agree to amalgamate the whole region and allow people from these other districts, from these other towns, to run the City of St. John's and perhaps to even elect the councillors. If we can be convinced that the reason is efficiency in the operation of their municipality perhaps we would agree to let all the councillors be elected from outside the present St. John's. Anybody who is being reasonable will concede that that does not account for all the excess costs in St. John's. Even your own members have conceded that. The Member for Fogo yesterday suggested that the rest of the Province should be paying more toward the cost of operating St. John's and I agree.

MR. WINDSOR: I suggested a provincial Capital committee.

MR. NOEL: But why would you suggest that if you think the only problem with St. John's is inefficiency in municipal government? Why would you try and burden the residents of the rest of the Province with the cost of running St. John's if inefficiency is the only problem in St. John's?

MR. WINDSOR: It was a major one.

MR. NOEL: Well that is the point I am making to you. It may be one, and I agree, we can achieve a lot more efficiencies in St. John's. Whether the Member for Kilbride was correct yesterday in saying that it takes nine members of the St. John's Municipal Council to change a stop sign, I doubt that it is that extreme.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's the same thing in Mount Pearl.

MR. NOEL: Same thing in Mount Pearl, my friend who is a resident of Mount Pearl tells me. But we can achieve efficiencies in St.John's, and that is one thing I think we might achieve by expanding the City even more than we have done. I think we might have a more effective municipal administration in St. John's if we were do that. We would bring in the councillors and the staff, and the very competent staff that we have in some of these other municipalities, in Mount Pearl and Wedgewood Park. We would amalgamate them with the City staff and perhaps we would have a more efficient operation.

AN HON. MEMBER: It cannot get any worse.

MR. NOEL: Cannot get any worse. Well that would be one way to do it. Another way to do it might be if we were to say that there are benefits in competition. If we were to say that one big city in this whole area was too much, and if we were to say that there should be more than one city in the Northeast Avalon, and Mount Pearl was going to be a second city, then perhaps we could do that. But add to Mount Pearl, rather than confining it in the way we have done.

MR. WINDSOR: Which is what your commissioners recommended.

MR. NOEL: Add the proposed Town of Paradise to Mount Pearl. Add some extra cost to Mount Pearl. Presently Mount Pearl is contributing $2 million per year less in municipal taxes to the cost of running this whole region than they would be contributing if they were taxed at the same rate as St. John's. Two million dollars a year tax. Businesses in Mount Pearl are paying half the tax rates that businesses in St. John's are paying. We are going to destroy St. John's if we do not do something to change this situation, and that is going to hurt us all. Because as the Member for Fogo and some other Members have said, the Province is going to have to start putting more money into St. John's if we do not deal with this issue properly.

AN HON. MEMBER: They should put it in anyway.

MR. NOEL: They should put it in anyway. The Province -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible) Government buildings. Not St. John's, not St. John's alone, all (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Well, I agree with that. Presently the Province I think contributes about $400,000 a year to the City of St. John's, plus $1.2 million for the cost of fire services, whereas the Federal Government contributes $3 million, I think it is, this year, or last year, I believe. So I believe that the Province does not contribute enough.

But the less we get in legitimate and equitable tax rates from the people in this region the more we are going to have to get from the municipalities outside the Northeast Avalon. That is why all of the members of this House should be concerned about what happens in St. John's. Because St. John's is in poor financial shape, in my view, and I think that is going to become evident in the next few weeks. I think that if nothing different is done, or if the Government under this new legislation does not give the City of St. John's the right to charge for a sufficient amount of services, then St. John's could find itself in worse shape after this piece of legislation is passed then it is today.

When you look at the cost of servicing the Goulds, the cost of taking on the burden of the Aquarena, all of these extra costs that St. John's is taking on, we are not taking on enough of an increase in tax base to put us in a better financial position. I think the budget for the City of St. John's is going to go over $100 million this year. City taxpayers cannot afford to pay any more taxes. One of the things we hear often in this Province is how the municipal tax effort is so much below the National municipal tax effort. Well that is not the case in St. John's. The municipal tax effort in St. John's is equivalent to the Canadian average for an equivalent amount of services delivered. Where we do not have proper contribution to municipal revenues in this Province is in the rural areas largely, maybe some of the two other two cities and the larger towns, but we are not getting a proper municipal tax contribution in these areas. If they do not pay it in municipal taxes, they are going to have to pay it in another way because this city has to keep functioning. But we have seen in recent years a tremendous increase in the commercial tax rate in St. John's. We are going to see an increase for the next years budget in the amount of taxes paid on household properties in this city, and the people of St. John's cannot afford to pay what they are paying now much less than pay more. They just cannot afford it. Right now, or a few years ago, and I presume that these statistics have not changed, the residents of St. John's were paying twice as much as the residents of Mount Pearl and the residents of Wedgewood Park in percentage of household income.

MR. WINDSOR: That is not true.

MR. NOEL: That is what the statistics are, my friend. I can show you and I can give you a copy of them I have here.

MR. WINDSOR: I have them here.

MR. NOEL: Well then you have to admit that it is true. Almost twice as much. It was 2.33 per cent for St. John's, 1.39 for Mount Pearl, and 1.18 for Wedgewood Park as I recall. So St. John's residents are paying twice as much as a percentage of the household income in municipal taxes as most other Newfoundlanders, I would say 80 or 90 per cent of Newfoundlanders. So we cannot expect St. John's residents to pay any more municipal taxes.

MR. WINDSOR: Compare that to the level of service though.

MR. NOEL: For a level of services even. For a level of service.

MR. WINDSOR: The numbers do not reflect it.

MR. NOEL: For a level of service.

MR. WINDSOR: You are not comparing apples now.

MR. NOEL: No, they are paying more for a level of service. The point you make is right, that they are paying a higher percentage of income than other areas, but getting more services. But they are not getting twice as many services.

MR. WINDSOR: Oh, I am not sure.

MR. NOEL: Oh you are not sure, but that is the case, that they are not getting twice as many services -

MR. WINDSOR: They are getting far more.

MR. NOEL: - and some of these other areas that are not paying as high a percentage of their income in taxes are getting more financial assistance, a higher percentage of financial assistance from the provincial government, such as practically all the communities in the Province.

MR. WINDSOR: Mount Pearl for example?

MR. NOEL: No. Mount Pearl gets slightly more than St. John's, I think, one or two percentage points.

MR. WINDSOR: It is slightly less.

MR. NOEL: Well slightly less is a great deal for Mount Pearl when they are paying half the commercial mil rate of St. John's businesses.

MR. WINDSOR: $143 (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Half the commercial mil rate of St. John's businesses, and a good deal less than the mil rate of St. John's householders.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: What?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: And how can Mount Pearl expect that to continue? How can the residents of Mount Pearl talk about democracy? If they think they can live in the same region - a person gets up in Mount Pearl in the morning and comes out to work at the Confederation Building and goes back home to Mount Pearl, he is paying for the cost of running the services that he gets out of Mount Pearl, but he is not paying his proper share of a contribution to the cost of running the place, the city, and the location where he works, but the constituents in my district are doing that.

MR. WINDSOR: Some of them work in Mount Pearl.

MR. NOEL: Very few. Seventy -

MR. WINDSOR: Come out to Donovans and see how many work in Donovans.

MR. NOEL: Seventy-seven per cent of the people employed in Mount Pearl work in St. John's. Seventy-seven per cent. Ninety-nine per cent of the people in Wedgewood Park.

AN HON. MEMBER: Seventy-seven per cent of St. John's men do not work in Mount Pearl.

MR. NOEL: No, a very small percentage of St. John's people work in Mount Pearl. Eight-four per cent, I think it is, of this whole region, people who work in this whole region work in St. John's and do not pay their fair share to contribute to the cost of operating this city. That is why you people have to realize -

MR. WINDSOR: They work with Government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: They do not only work with Government.

MR. WINDSOR: Most of them do.

MR. NOEL: Yes, okay. They work with Government, but they are still not paying the cost of operating the place where they work.

AN HON. MEMBER: St. John's should be lucky to have (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: They also support your commercial establishments, the university, (Inaudible)

AN HON. MEMBER: We would like to have that on the West Coast.

MR. NOEL: Do you think the people of the West Coast would be willing to pay the same inequitable share of municipal taxes just to have that? A lot of people come to work in St. John's every day from as far as 100 miles away, from fifty miles away.

AN HON. MEMBER: Carbonear.

MR. NOEL: Carbonear, where they are paying much less taxes even than Mount Pearl, I suppose; much less taxes than Wedgewood Park. People are coming-

AN HON. MEMBER: They pay gasoline tax.

MR. NOEL: They pay the gasoline tax. Well a lot of people burn up as much fuel coming from the west end of St. John's to the Confederation Building as people do from Conception Bay South somewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. NOEL: No? What services do they not have?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) have very few services. They do not want (inaudible).

MR. NOEL: What do they not have in Carbonear?

AN HON. MEMBER: They certainly do not have a city hall like they have down here.

MR. NOEL: They do not have a city hall like they have here, but they have a city hall. They have their services. So what is the point of having a six months hoist, which is what this amendment is about? Nothing has changed over the past six months.

MR. WINDSOR: It is called having public input.

MR. NOEL: We have had all kinds of public input, and whose opinion has changed?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. NOEL: There is not one different thing being said across the other side of the House after the two years we have spent debating this.

If we were to have a feasibility study, the feasibility study would say that the people outside St. John's should be paying a higher percentage of municipal taxes in the whole region. It would say that.

If we were to have a plebiscite, the majority in the plebiscite would say that we should amalgamate Mount Pearl, Paradise, St. John's, Wedgewood Park, probably the whole area; so what would be achieved by this six months hoist that the other side are proposing? Mr. Speaker, I suggest that nothing would be achieved by that, so what would be the purpose in doing it? All that we are doing is dragging out the debate, preventing us from doing what needs to be done in order to get the finances in this whole Province in reasonable shape.

People do not seem to appreciate the dire straits that this Province is in financially, this whole Province. The only way we are going to improve our financial situation is if everybody makes a reasonable contribution to the cost of operating the Province. We have to do that in personal tax, business tax, through sales tax, and through municipal taxes. So we cannot have communities, we cannot have privileged groups like the people of Wedgewood Park, or the people of Mount Pearl, we cannot have people like that not paying a fair share of the cost of running this Province. If we allow that to continue, everybody in this Province, every member in this House of Assembly, is going to let his constituents down in the long run.

We are trying to run a cadillac system of municipal services in this Province, and we cannot afford it any more. People cannot expect to have whatever level of municipal services they want. They cannot expect to have an urban level of municipal services wherever they want to live in this Province. We have to agree to that. If people choose to have a rural lifestyle, they have to put up with the level of services that goes with it, or else they have to pay for the cost of providing the level of services they want. We cannot be telling people throughout the Province that they can have a level of services wherever they want them for a much cheaper tax rate than is being paid by those in urban areas. This Province has to deal with it, and this Government is trying to deal with it.

I do not think that we have gone far enough in the amalgamation that we are doing in the Northeast Avalon. I think, as I said, that we could consider enlarging Mount Pearl and having two fairly equitable cities in the whole area, or making one large city, including Paradise and Mount Pearl, or most of Paradise, the urban part of Paradise. We should do one of that if we are going to bring sense to municipal government in this area.

MR. WINDSOR: Does the Member agree with the commissioners' report (Inaudible) after a feasibility study and public hearings?

MR. NOEL: Which commissioner? There were a lot of commissioners' reports.

MR. WINDSOR: The latest one the Assistant Deputy Minister?

MR. NOEL: Well, an Assistant Deputy Minister was part of the report that recommended allowing Wedgewood Park to remain independent, and anybody who would recommend that has very little credibility in giving municipal advice, in my view.

MR. WINDSOR: I am talking about this report that had been done in accordance with the Act!

MR. NOEL: Well, I am not going to tell you whether I agree with that report. It is too complicated. We can have a separate debate about that report. But what I am telling you is that nothing will be accomplished by putting off dealing with this matter for the next six months. So I intend to vote against this six months hoist.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the amendment to this Bill. I am also pleased to see that the Minister of Development is excited about what I am about to say and sitting on the edge of his seat, thumping his desk in anticipation that it is going to be very profound and well reasoned.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wabush and Labrador (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: As it always is, as it always is.

MR. A. SNOW: Wabush and Labrador City may be involved in some of the remarks that I will make, I am sure. Because what we are talking about here in this Bill are the roles and responsibilities of municipal governments. Now, I have had the opportunity of participating in municipal government in Labrador City for a number of years - eighteen years to be exact - and at that same time while I was a member of the town council of Labrador City, I had the opportunity of sharing services with our sister town in Wabush.

That was done by mutual agreement of both communities. We learned to share the facilities in these towns. We did it because we felt that it would be a wiser use of the taxpayers' dollars. There was not another level of government telling us that we had to do it or else. There was some discussion in the beginning of course that maybe the Provincial government should play a greater role in the responsibility of paying some of the cost of this facility that they wanted us to institute to service our area. Mainly an incinerator.

But I guess by the fact that because the Town of Labrador City, I believe, is probably - not probably, it is - the most efficient and well run community in this Province. By far it is the most efficient in this Province, and probably in Eastern Canada. It is well run, and the success of it is not just due to its council's direction or the amount of taxes that the people pay, but it is the awareness that the taxpayers' dollars have to be spent wisely and for the benefit of all the taxpayers.

The hon. Member for Pleasantville went on a few minutes ago and made some remarks. He said that: we cannot have communities not paying their fair share of operating this Province. Now that is the remark, I believe it is verbatim, of what he did say. But what he fails to see is that what we are talking about here is a level of government delivering a service to taxpayers. The municipal level of government, not the Provincial government. He has the two confused. He recognizes in a previous remark leading up to that statement that the Government -

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now the hon. Member for Pleasantville had the opportunity of speaking for half an hour and he could have made all the points that he would like to make now, I am sure, but he did not make them all then, so I would appreciate it if he would stop interrupting and allow me to continue and then he can get up probably at a later date and continue the debate. In the meantime I certainly hope that he would listen and take some notes and keep quiet.

And, Mr. Speaker, he said that St. John's is in poor financial shape and we all have a responsibility, and we certainly do. Each one of us sitting in this House has a responsibility to ensure that the capital city is on a sure financial footing if you will, and the Member for Pleasantville listed off the fact of the high cost of servicing the Goulds. He listed off the acquisition or the operation of the Aquarena, the Canada Games Park.

Now who foisted these responsibilities over on the City of St. John's ? Was it the Town of Fogo that passed this over? This particular Government did, Mr. Speaker. They created the problem and now they say we are going to save you by increasing the number of people who are going to have to pay for it. What the hon. Member for Fogo suggested in a speech yesterday, was that the responsibility on the Provincial Government should be that they should be paying property taxes the same or grant in lieu of property taxes, the same as the Federal Government does with their property, that is what he said, not just to the City of St. John's, but to the City of Mount Pearl, to the City of Corner Brook, the Town of Labrador City, Wabush, Grand Falls, Gander and Grand Bank, wherever they own property. The Federal Government does it but for some reason this Government feels that they do not have the responsibility to pay their fair share of taxes and that is fundamentally unfair.

The hon. Member for Pleasantville talked about 77 per cent of the people of Mount Pearl who live in Mount Pearl work in the City of St. John's and thus they should be paying for the cost of the street maintenance and the snow clearing and the water they consume in here in the buildings. But, Mr. Speaker, I live in Labrador City and I commute to St. John's practically every week and come to work representing my district. Surely to goodness, you would not expect that the people of Labrador City should be incurring a greater tax on them because I come out here and go to work in the City of St. John's? No, Mr. Speaker, that is not fair. What should happen, what should occur is that the Provincial Government should recognize their responsibility and pay to every municipality their fair share, similar to what the Federal Government does for property taxes, give a grant in lieu on property taxes on properties that they own and operate.

MR. NOEL: Why should the residents of Labrador City pay for the cost of operating the Aquarena?

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. NOEL: Yes but not very many (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: It is a Provincial Training Centre.

MR. NOEL: So you think that the people of Labrador City should (inaudible) -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) on behalf of all people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, what we are really talking about here is the abdication of the Provincial Government's responsibility in participating in their share of the municipal costs, that is what we are really talking about. This Government created the tax burden or the financial burden of the operation of the Aquarena in the Canada Games Park onto the city of St. John's, and now they are saying we are going to ask everybody else to pay for it, and, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about one government attempting to oppress another. That is not fair, but if you stop and think - yesterday I believe there was a meeting in the City of Mount Pearl, the Town Council and one of the quotes in today's newspaper was from Councillor Simms who said: where do we go from here? He who turns and walks away lives to fight another day. It is time to retreat. The battle has been lost.

MR. NOEL: The battle for public relations.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is said in the spirit of one government to another, with a conciliatory approach, saying let us sit down and talk this over; it is said, I believe, in terms of a person who feels that he has been declared war upon. Another level of Government has declared war on a lower level, or the municipal level of Government, Mr. Speaker. In this council's mind, they feel that they have been attacked by this Provincial Government. The hon. the Member for Gander, the President of Treasury Board, is nodding his head in affirmation of that remark. He agrees with me that this Government has attacked the City of Mount Pearl. He continues to nod in affirmation, that he agrees they have attacked the City of Mount Pearl in passing over the responsibility of operating new facilities in the City of St. John's. He recognizes that, similar to Gander - he knows how much the Federal Government gives to the town of Gander in a grant in lieu of taxes, he recognizes the tremendous amount of wealth that the Federal Government pays to Gander and, indeed, if the Province accepted the same responsibility, the financial burdens, the tax burden, or the financial incapacity to pay the bills of the City of St. John's would be removed by the Province accepting the same responsibility that the Federal Government does when they look at their property bills at the end of the year. The hon. the Member for Gander recognizes that, and that is why he agrees with me.

MR. WINSOR: He was Chairman of a finance committee in Gander at one time and he knows what the Federal Government contributes.

MR. A. SNOW: We have often, when we are up speaking - the Member for Pleasantville has, and people on this side have - talked about being fair with the people being affected by this process. We have one standard for the West Coast. The Premier says, 'If the people in my district don't want amalgamation they won't have it, but if the people in St. John's, Mount Pearl, or Paradise don't want it, it doesn't matter, I think it is right that they should have it.' That's what he is saying.

MR. NOEL: The people within that whole region and the people in this region want it. The Member for St. John's East Extern was talking about integrity and speaking frankly, a little while ago.

MR. A. SNOW: Now, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the people of this House are going to support the six-month hoist on this because they are beginning to realize that this proposal needs more study. We need to lay out the fact to the people of this area, the area being affected. Some communities are thinking that they may have to pay taxes of $200 to $300, or that the cost of fire fighting may go up 200 or 300 per cent in Paradise. I think the City of Mount Pearl suggested to me that it may cost an extra $600,000 or probably more like $1 million by the time the dust settles.

MR. NOEL: Who do they expect to keep paying it for them, Labrador City?

MR. A. SNOW: The reason why we should do a study is so that we can ascertain exactly how much this is going to save the taxpayers being affected. Lay out the facts and have a plebiscite. If the people want to amalgamate, I would be in favour, Mr. Speaker, if they said, 'We should do it.' They can all vote on the question of whether or not they should jointly share in the cost of municipal services being delivered here in the capital region of this Province.

MR. NOEL: Why don't you tell us what question you would be content to have in the plebiscite?

MR. TOBIN: Why don't you resign?

MR. NOEL: Why don't you stop interrupting the speaker?

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't want to draw up the question today, but I will, with the leave of the House, table the question tomorrow. I am sure, with the amount of intelligence that is in this House - a lot of people would question my statement there, I guess - but I am sure we would be able to devise a question, after a study was done on how this city, this region, could benefit, and how this Province could benefit, from sharing the costs of municipal services in the capital region of the Province.

I think the important thing is that we have to know what the costs are going to be. We don't know now. The Premier suggests that all is well out there, that everybody is in favour of it. Well, we know that everybody is not in favour of it. We read the newspapers. One councillor, a well-known Liberal, figures that the war is over, they have been run over by the tanks from Confederation Building. It is time to fly up the white flag. 'It's all over, boys, I give up, I quit!'

But I am sure that a more reasoned approach would be to study the cost of delivery of municipal services to the capital region, and then pose the question to the people affected. That would be the fair way of doing it, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Labrador City and Wabush, I don't have a problem with that, either. We, in Western Labrador, have shared our municipal services for years. Yes, and even the Member for Eagle River recognizes it. He recognizes it, Mr. Speaker. There is some sharing in recreational facilities, sharing of the cost of operation of the incinerator in Western Labrador. It is operated, by the way, by the smaller municipality. The larger, more populous municipality pays the per capita grant in the operation of the incinerator. There is a joint board that meets from councils -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: - by agreement. There is a joint board that manages, makes decisions, they meet fairly regularly on the operation, albeit the day-to-day operation of that facility is done by the Town of Wabush, and they do a very good job of it. The people pay the complete cost of that operation, by mutual agreement, Mr. Speaker, and that's what is important for this House to remember. They provide an excellent example of co-operation and sharing between municipalities. It is probably the most efficient operation of any municipality in Eastern Canada.

Now, it is very simple what the people want in this case, Mr. Speaker. They want a chance to decide how this municipal service delivery is going to be paid for, how they are going to have to pay for it, how much they are going to have to pay. It is not whether or not the City of St. John's is efficient or inefficient in delivery of municipal services. Taxpayers will decide that in no matter what forum, I believe, that they run, or in what boundaries they run their next election. They will decide whether or not the council operates an efficient service for the people of the area affected.

But when you talk about bringing in new areas with tremendous tax burdens, and including them, I believe they should have the right to decide. Can you imagine how a person in the Goulds feels when last year he was told that his taxes were going to be tremendously increased because of the high cost of servicing his area and the area was going to be gobbled up by the great big City of St. John's? - and this year, they are saying, 'The reason why we have to pass on more cost to other people is because we are going to have to pay for services where we gobbled up some land last year. Now, isn't that ridiculous? I mean, what an argument! You talk about setting up a house of cards, Mr. Speaker!

The minister, when he introduced this bill, said it was important to have the bill pass because of the high percentage of the Province's population involved. But even though it is 30 per cent to 35 per cent of the Province's population, we must respect the democratic rights of all the people in the region. I think that is very important and we should remember it. We talked about the large number of communities in the region, serviced by the councillors' administrative staff. The Member for Pleasantville talked about how this was going to be - what we could do is bring all these staffs in and put them in one big building, in Pleasantville, somewhere, I guess he would like to see them, and this would be tremendously efficient.

I don't know how he figures that is going to be efficient, Mr. Speaker. The efficiency that worked in some of the smaller towns is done by volunteer effort, as we have seen through volunteer fire departments, like in the Goulds or Paradise. I don't know how he proposes to do away with them. He is trying to run over the fire departments in other towns, trying to bulldoze them, the big tank from Confederation Building comes down and runs right over them.

But I believe that it is not necessarily going to be more efficient, and we must consider that. That is why we should - and I am sure that members in the House are going to support the hon. the Member for Burin - Who proposed the -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: You did.

- the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, who proposed that we study this for six months.

MR. TOBIN: The Federation wants it.

MR. A. SNOW: And the Federation, I mean, here is a group which represents all the municipalities of this Province. They are suggesting the same thing, that we should do an economic analysis of what is being proposed. Mr. Speaker, what is wrong with doing an analysis rather than just flying by the seat of our pants, the way the Member for Pleasantville has suggested? This Province is in enough trouble as it is, by people attempting to fly by the seat of their pants, or by gut reactions to the shortfalls in budget positions. That's what has got this Province in the mess that I believe it is in. We are not a poor province, we are a poorly-run province. And we have to straighten that out by analyzing the problems, whether they be with regard to economic development, industrial development, or in delivery of municipal services.

I don't know why the people on the other side are apprehensive, afraid, scared, to study it. Why are they? What is wrong with studying the cost of the implication of what this means? What is wrong with studying the fact that it may be, indeed, that the ultimate result will be it will cost more to gobble up the Goulds?

I don't see anything wrong with it, and most people out there in the city of St. John's, now, are starting to question whether or not this process should go. Because they are recognizing that really what is occurring here is that this Government is down-loading its responsibilities on municipal government and they are attempting to get out from under their responsibility by proposing this amalgamation. So, really, it is a smoke screen, if you will, to try to suggest to the people of this Province that this will ease - if we have an amalgamation process, they don't have any responsibility, they can just pass it on to this new supercity or whatever it is going to be.

The loss of democracy - the Member for Pleasantville suggested that nobody can really enjoy the right of self-determination without the responsibility of who pays, of recognizing that they have to pay for it. I agree with him. I have to agree with him that we all have a responsibility for paying. All I am suggesting - I accept the responsibility, I own a little bit of property here in the city area. I accept the responsibility of paying for the cost of delivery of municipal services. But what we are talking about here is the efficient use - and not just efficiency, Mr. Speaker, but the democratic way in which we can change how people are going to be paying the cost of municipal services delivery here in the Northeast Avalon.

I am sure that if this Government paid its fair share for the services that they are getting in the St. John's region, you would not have the uncertain economic future of the City where it is today. The fact that the Province does not pay a grant in lieu similar to what the Federal Government pays - and, of course, we all recognize the number of Provincial Government buildings that are here in the city of St. John's. Really, this is the industry of the capital region, and they should pay. They should pay. There should be a responsibility accepted, not just be me, who happens to own one house here in St. John's, but the Government, who owns several buildings, should be paying their fair share of taxes, or grants in lieu, Mr. Speaker. They should be paying their fair share. If the Federal Government accepts their responsibility, and individuals accept their responsibility, businesses accept their responsibility, the only entity not paying their fair share is the Provincial Government. The Provincial Government don't pay their fair share for the delivery of municipal services in St. John's, and neither do they pay for it in any other region of this Province where they have property. They don't pay it in Labrador City, in Wabush, in Grand Falls, or even Gander. They don't pay it anywhere. They are not living up to their responsibility when they accept the services from the municipal governments in the areas where they have their so-called places of business, their factories, their shops. They are not paying, and that is not fair.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: And now, even the Minister of Finance is agreeing with me. He is now agreeing with me, and I am glad to see that he is agreeing with me, Mr. Speaker. He agrees. Finally, I have convinced him. Well, it has made it all worthwhile. I have been up here talking for twenty-five, or twenty-eight, or thirty minutes, and I have finally convinced the Minister of Finance of his Government's responsibility in paying for their fair share of delivery of municipal services. That is really what we

are talking about here in this bill, Mr. Speaker. We are talking about who is going to pay for the delivery of municipal services, and how we are going to be able to treat the taxpayers fairly in this capital region.

I think it is important to remember all of our responsibilities, not just somebody outside that we can attack, like the poor people in the Goulds, or in Paradise.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on! Right on!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, they must remember their responsibility when they go into Cabinet up there on the Eighth Floor, the ivory tower, where they may have to be saved some day when the building catches on fire, when they will recognize the importance of having a good regional fire department here. And they should be paying for it, Mr. Speaker. Everybody else pays for the right, of having a good area fire department here in the City of St. John's region, in the capital region of this Province, so why should the people on the Eighth Floor not pay for the fire department? They should. They even get to drink St. John's water - or does it come from Kilbride?

AN HON. MEMBER: Bay Bulls.

MR. A. SNOW: Bay Bulls, Mr. Speaker. They should pay for that. They should pay for it. It is their responsibility to pay for it. Why should they just be attacking the poor little farmer out in the Goulds, or the poor little bake shop out in Paradise, let them pay for it, let them triple their cost? How about the person who has a little shop down on Casey Street somewhere, or somebody operating a little shoe store down on Water Street? Why should they be overtaxed? They should not be. If this Government accepted its responsibility, they would not be overtaxed. They would be able to pay a fair share just like everybody else if this Government accepted its responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, we have been burnt too often by this Government. The people of this Province have been burnt too often by this Government. It is not fair, it is definitely not fair, for this Government to continue in its dictatorial ways passing on financial burdens to the ordinary taxpayer in the street.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now the Minister of Finance I believe just - should -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: But, Mr. Speaker, I believe that everybody in this House elected to represent his or her district went through a process in democratic elections. Now, what is wrong with allowing the democratic process to continue again? What is wrong with allowing a six month study to do a proper economic analysis of what the affects are going to be on the ordinary taxpayers? Then giving them the opportunity of participating in a democratic process called a referendum or a plebiscite, but allowing them to then participate and see how they feel about how their municipal services should be delivered and who should be paying how much.

Because that is all part of the question. It is a fundamental part of the question. But how can we sit here in this House and force this down people's throats without doing any economic analysis? It is not fair for the ordinary taxpayer, it is not fair for a person operating a small business inside the City of St. John's, who is already being protected by the Member for Pleasantville, suggesting that they are paying too much - and they are. Because they have to accept the burden that the Province has foisted upon them.

The Province is not paying their fair share, so the small business person, the ordinary taxpayer in the cities of St. John's and Mount Pearl and the towns of Paradise, the Goulds and Wedgewood Park, they are all being affected and asked to bear the burden of the responsibility that this Province has, this Government has, to pay on their shops, plants, factories, houses.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask everybody in this House to consider voting in support of the six months hoist on this Bill. Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave, by leave!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is my honour to speak in this debate on the six month hoist amendment. I want to say at the outset that I support this amendment, unlike the Member for Pleasantville. Some of his views I agree with, and we had an opportunity earlier in the year to collaborate on a motion to amend the resolution, one which I had indicated that I would second on his behalf, but at the last moment he found another seconder, someone on the other side of the House who was willing to second the motion.

So I agree with some of his views about amalgamation, in particular the overall views as to what is necessary in an amalgamation. But I do not agree with him on the inevitability of all this. I do not agree with the City Councillor Randy Simms from Mount Pearl that the battle is lost. Because I think there are a lot of things that have to be considered here that obviously have not been to date.

Members recall that the Premier was asked yesterday was he satisfied with the level of consultation. He said that he had no reason to suspect that there was not an adequate level of consultation with the municipalities. But obviously the Premier has not been listening to what the town and city councillors have been saying in this municipality. He has not been reading the papers, or he has not been listening to - or his backbenchers have not been telling him what has been going on.

When the Town of Paradise, for one, which along with all the other towns was called in here in May month and given the word from the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs as to what was going to go on. They did not know what was going to happen, they were told. They came out of that meeting, a week before the House went into session, and said: Oh, there were winners and there were losers. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure right now whether there are any winners, because we have a state of confusion amongst all the municipalities as to what the costs of this amalgamation is going to be.

Over the course of the summer, Mr. Speaker, all members, particularly the members in the St. John's area, were sent a questionnaire by the Town of Wedgewood Park asking to advise of their understanding of the costs and benefits of amalgamation. It was impossible to answer that questionnaire, Mr. Speaker, because the costs and benefits had not really been adequately determined. In fact, the costs are not now known. The cost to the Town of Paradise, in terms of the cost of fire fighting and regional services is not known. They have an idea that it may well be in excess of $600,000 for fire fighting.

I see the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island perk up his ears. Maybe he is going to get up and speak and tell us how it is satisfactory to the residents of his district who reside in the new Town of Paradise, proposed Town of Paradise. Maybe he will tell us how it is that the increased costs associated with the regional fire services will be adopted by the Town of Paradise, how they will absorb this cost of perhaps $500,000 or $600,000. I say perhaps $500,000 or $600,000, perhaps $300,000 or perhaps more. People do not know, and the town itself does not know, and they are unable therefore to make their budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: Perhaps $50,000.

MR. HARRIS: He says, 'Perhaps $50,000.' That is what it cost them for the fire services prior to the amalgamation decisions. They are now looking at costs of maybe ten or fifteen times more their current costs for fire protection. That is not acceptable, Mr. Speaker. It is not acceptable that six months after this resolution is passed in this House town councils are unable to make up their budgets which they are required to do by law by December 15.

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is gone to Bristol trying to see what efforts can be made to help celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Cabot's voyage, and the House is left to pass this legislation, or are being asked to pass this legislation, with the Minister away, with the town councils' budgetary decisions in disarray, with the City of St. John's not knowing what the costs are going to be and members refusing to consider the delay of the passage of this Bill for six months.

Now, there is a lot in this Bill, Mr. Speaker, that I do not think has been adequately thought out. I do not think that the implications for the municipalities of this Province have been adequately considered either by this Government or by the backbenchers over there, whose own municipalities in their districts are under threat from a change in policy by this Government as to what powers this Government is taking away from the House and giving to the Cabinet.

There are a lot of concerns, Mr. Speaker, about what the Government has done in Part VII of the Act. Part VII of the Act gives power to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to specifically, by Order-in-Council, make decisions that can result in the establishment of a new town, to disestablish a town, or to force an amalgamation on a town or a city.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I disagree with some of the hyperbole we have heard on this side. It does not specifically allow them to do that, willy-nilly, all over the Province. What it does, Mr. Speaker, is prepare the way for more power concentrated in the hands of the Cabinet which is dictated to, we understand, not by a consensus approach, not by any votes in Cabinet, but by the will of one man. I was going to say one person, but we are talking about a particular person, and the will of one man prevails and his decisions are the decisions of the Cabinet and apparently the decisions of everybody in the back benches, who do not have the courage to vote against him.

AN HON. MEMBER: A bunch of trained seals.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, what we have here, we have in Newfoundland a unique sort of situation. We do not have a 100 or 200 year history of municipal government which some provinces enjoy; we do not have that level of local democracy in the experience and the concern about local control and a history of that. We have a very fragile level of democracy at the municipal level and we have seen examples throughout the last ten years of councils resigning en masse because they do not have the support of the Provincial Government that they think they should have. Councils having perhaps a little weakness in developing a tax base or collecting taxes when they know that they are putting taxes on their neighbours and certain people in communities who cannot afford to pay them.

We know we have not a very long tradition of municipalities in this Province so we need to give strength and to nurture that system and not have it being able to be taken away and changed at the whim of a Government, at the whim of a Cabinet. It has to be something that can sustain on its own and not be changed without a process that involves consultation with the people, plebiscites if necessary, feasibility studies, the kinds of things that are required in the Municipalities Act.

But what we have seen, Mr. Speaker, in dealing with the issue of amalgamation and the resolution that was before this House, we did not see the Government come out with proposals saying: here is what we propose to do, we have considered all the options, here is what we have proposed to do and now we will have a feasibility study on this. They considered all sorts of options and then decided what they were going to do and six months later, the people who are to be affected by it and the municipalities who are going to be forced to have to implement it, still do not know what the consequences are in terms of their own imminent budgets.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have two problems right at the outset. Number one, the Government has arrogated to itself too much power and is sending a bad message and a bad signal to the municipalities of this Province and there must be time for adequate public debate and consideration of where this Government is going with that policy. Where the Government is going with the power of taking over from the municipalities and arrogating to itself the power to disestablish towns, to wipe them off the map at the stroke of a pen at a Cabinet meeting.

That has to be seriously challenged and has to be looked at by the public of this Province, by the Federation of Municipalities by all municipalities, who are expected to volunteer their time in most cases, to take on responsibilities in local areas for the provision of services, for the collection of taxes, for the organization of the services in those towns and to do that under threat, Mr. Speaker, of being wiped off the map by this Cabinet at the stroke of a pen, is not democratic. It is democracy hanging by a thread and that is not good enough for the municipalities of this Province.

I see, Mr. Speaker, a sense of haste in putting together this legislation. A sense of haste in putting together, taking bits and pieces from other Acts without really fully considering what the consequences of what the Government is doing are. We have taken the St. John's Fire Department Act, a rather lengthy Act containing some forty-nine sections, not counting amendments. This has been in operation for quite some time, a 1972 Act, it only had several amendments, Mr. Speaker, and some of those were of a minor inconsequential nature, and they have tried to plug some portions of that legislation, some twenty-four sections of that legislation, plugged that into the middle of the City of St. John's Act and they have left out a lot of things that are going to start causing some problems for the City of St. John's, they are going to start causing problems for the operation of the now regional fire department, they are going to start causing serious problems for the representatives of the fire fighters, the St. John's Association of Fire Fighters which is a local of the international, they are going to cause labour relations problems of a serious nature, and while throwing out some of the good things they have retained some of the bad things about that legislation.

It has been done with haste, and I will give you an example of some of the haste with which it has been done. On Section 353.19 of the Act, found on Page 17 of the Bill, 353.19 subsection (14) 'The costs payable by the city negotiator under subsection (11) shall be paid by the city.' Mr. Speaker, if you look at the existing St. John's Fire Department Act, the equivalent section also refers to a subsection (11) but, lo and behold, in the St. John's Fire Department Act the subsection (11) they refer to actually talks about remuneration being paid. Whoever drafted this legislation refers to the wrong subsection. They should be referring to subsection (12). It is a clear error.

I know that these drafting errors can occur, nobody is perfect, and this is going to have to be amended at the committee stage, or at some other stage of the proceedings. But it is an indication of the haste with which this legislation was drawn, and it is an indication as well that not very much thought was gone into the implications of taking the St. John's Fire Department Act, which came under the aegis of the Department of Justice, all of the regulations that could be made would be made by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council and given the exact same powers as the Cabinet had over the fire department to the City of St. John's. Now, Mr. Speaker, if you look at the regulations, if you look at the powers being given to the Cabinet under the St. John's Fire Department Act you will see that they are quite broad and some of these powers are appropriate to a Cabinet level or to a provincial level of Government to have. They create offenses, Mr. Speaker, offenses which are triable under the Summary Convictions Act. They are provincial offenses for which people can be fined, lose all their seniority, all of those things can be done by order of the breach of regulations now able to be passed by the Cabinet. What the legislation has done is given all those powers to the City of St. John's. The City of St. John's can now make regulations which will result in the creation of offenses which are to be prescribed by the regulations. Now this is quite interesting, let us look at what it says here under section 353.5, subsection (1) 'The council may make regulations' under (b) 'regulating the residence, classification, rank, service, instruction and distribution of the fire department.' Now, this means that the Council of the City of St. John's can tell fire fighters where to live. Now, I do not know what they are going to do, but do we want to give them the power to say that all fire fighters who are members of the fire department must reside in the City of St. John's? I know fire fighters who are with the St. John's Fire Department now who live in Foxtrap, live on the Southern Shore, live in Renews, live in Brigus, Bay Bulls. Is the City of St. John's now, because some three or four councillors get together and decide they want to have only people living in St. John's work for the fire department, going to pass these regulations? I know of some towns who have these rules. Some towns in this Province, Mr. Speaker, say that you cannot work for the town unless you reside in the town or are a taxpayer. That I understand was a rule in the City of Corner Brook.

Are we going to have fire fighters potentially losing their jobs because they do not reside in the municipality of St. John's? I am not saying they are going to do that, but is it right to give the City of St. John's the power to do that? I do not think so, Mr. Speaker. I do not think it is. The council may also make regulations providing for the orderly, disciplined, sober, honest, impartial, loyal, efficient, speedy, conscientious, obedient, secure, courteous, and just performance of duties by members. Now what does that mean?

We have loyalty oaths. If a fire fighter says something nasty about Councillor Andy Wells, is that a disloyalty? Are we going to have him charged under the St. John's Fire Department Act for that? Is this disloyal? Is this the kind of power that this Government wants to give to municipalities?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not to Andy Wells.

MR. HARRIS: Well that is who they are giving it to. You are giving it to all the councillors to make regulations providing for all of these things, and providing for fines and summary convictions, summary trial. Just listen to this: providing for the summary trial by a disciplinary tribunal of members charged with offenses against the regulations, and providing for the compulsory attendance of the accused and of witnesses, and for administering oaths or affirmations, et cetera. And those tribunals would have the power to impose fines, not exceeding $100, but impose fines, suspend without pay, reduce in rank, loss of seniority, reprimand or dismissal. Now these are not minor affairs.

AN HON. MEMBER: Can that be done now under (inaudible)?

MR. HARRIS: They cannot do that now, no. They cannot do that now. They cannot establish tribunals, and they cannot provide for summary conviction. They cannot provide for summary trials and summary conviction offenses under the Summary Jurisdiction Act. No, they cannot; not for matters such as disloyalty, or discourtesy.

The Member for Placentia and the Minister of Social Services may be aware that the fire department as it exists right now, along with the prison wardens, along with the police, they are all set up as they call them, sort of quasi-military, paramilitary, organizations. They are paramilitary. They have non-commissioned officers. They call them that in legislation. The Lieutenant-Governor in Council makes appointments to officers, and it is set up as a paramilitary structure, and some of these provisions are appropriate to that. You cannot have a fire fighting force where people are expected to risk their lives in the performance of their duties without some form of extraordinary discipline, let us call it that. It is not quite military discipline, although if you read through it, it sounds an awful lot like military discipline. You do not usually see 'mutiny' in collective agreements. For example, the regulations shall provide that a member shall not conduct himself or herself by word or act in a mutinous or insubordinate manner, or conduct himself or herself by word or act in a traitorous or disloyal manner. Mr. Speaker, these are pretty fierce words. This is found on page 9 of the Bill, Subsection 4 (c) talks about regulations providing that members shall not conduct himself or herself by word or act in a traitorous or disloyal manner. Subsection 4 (e) talks about conducting himself or herself by word or act in a mutinous or insubordinate manner. These have all the trappings of a military form of discipline.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: They are already there in the existing legislation, but that legislation is now going to be applicable to the City of St. John's, and instead of having the Justice Department carry out these matters, where the responsible minister is the Minister of Justice; where the Minister of Justice has a legal staff of lawyers who are trained as prosecutors, who understand these issues, who are prepared to deal with it that way, now we have the City Council of the City of St. John's. With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the City Council of the City of St. John's has the legislative ability, or the staff, or the resources, to deal with these things in an appropriate manner.

There are things here which I know that the Association of Fire Fighters have always had problems with. One of the regulations that exists right now is that the regulation shall provide that a member shall not divulge a matter or thing that it is his or her duty to keep secret. Well, that is okay, there is nothing wrong with that.

What about the next one, "make an anonymous complaint to the officer in charge of the fire department, or the mayor or a city councillor or other unauthorized person or group?" Well, the other one, "divulge a matter or thing that it is his or her duty to keep secret." Well, Mr. Speaker, you may or may not be aware that on occasion the then President of the St. John's Fire Fighters Association was threatened with charges under the legislation for making public comments as part of his duty as a President of the Association, by bringing to the attention of the public and to his own members what he considered to be the inadequacy of the manning requirements of the fire fighting force in St. John's. He was threatened to be charged under the Act for this, for doing his job as President of the Association.

So, Mr. Speaker, these rules and regulations that are there were already in need of overhaul, but that has not been done. What the Government is doing now is, instead of overhauling them, instead of looking at them very carefully and saying: Hey, maybe we have gone too far here, maybe we should revise these things and reform them and take away some of these draconian powers that we have retained here. Instead of doing that, what they have done is given all of these powers to the City of St. John's. So now the City of St. John's can decide who is mutinous, insubordinate, traitorous, disloyal, or are making anonymous complaints.

So, if a fire fighter happens to know, by virtue of an inspection carried out or by virtue of something going on, that what he has found out in the course of his duty he has reported to senior officers and they have done nothing about it, if that happens and if unsafe conditions are left the way they were and nobody is doing anything about it, if that member were to make an anonymous call to the Mayor and say: Madam Mayor, do you know that an unsafe building is not being attended to or that it is being ignored? That is an offence under the Act. Or to make that complaint to his Association President and have it divulged publicly, that is an offence.

MR. WINDSOR: You can go to Mount Pearl and do that, or to the Mayor of St. John's.

MR. HARRIS: If they report it to the Mayor of Mount Pearl. If a member of the new St. John's Regional Fire Department were to report to the Mayor of Mount Pearl -

MR. WINDSOR: It would be different.

MR. HARRIS: No, no. - the Mayor or a city councillor or other unauthorized person or group. Any anonymous complaint made by a member is subject to discipline.

MR. WINDSOR: The fire department could report it to the Mayor of St. John's, not the mayor of Mount Pearl.

MR. HARRIS: Well, it does not say that. In fact, not only that, but they have taken away the power of the Fire Chief. Under the old act it was quite clear who was in charge. We are not sure who is in charge now. They may have a rotating Chair of a Committee of Council in charge of the fire department. Under the old fire department legislation - and I am not being critical of the existing City Council of St. John's, but what I am saying is, it is up to them, they can do it whatever way they want under the existing legislation, Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear who is in charge.

It is quite clear that under the old legislation Section 7 of the St. John's Fire Department Act, says that: the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may appoint a commanding officer to the department, to be known as the Fire Chief and such other officers as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council deems fit and may prescribe their titles and duties. And then it says in Section 8: subject to Section 20, the Fire Chief has, under the direction of the minister, the control and management of the department and all matters connected therewith. So the Fire Chief is in charge, he has a para-military organization and he has the means of enforcing discipline and fighting fires and protecting the life safety of people within the jurisdiction.

Now, Mr. Speaker, under the new legislation, what do we have? We have: the councils shall appoint those officers, fire fighters and other employees who are necessary for the proper functioning of the department. Then it says: the persons appointed under sub-section 1, shall be responsible for the organization, training and operation of the Fire Department. That is all, organization, training and operation. There is no Fire Chief, they do not even have to have a Fire Chief. They do not have to have a Fire Chief at all, so I do not know why they are doing all this, why they have not had a serious look at setting up the new regional fire department with a proper set of legislation, recognizing that the city council ought not to have the same powers as the Lieutenant-Governor in Council had under the St. John's Fire Department Act. It is not appropriate, Mr. Speaker, to pass all that power over to the city. If the Government wants to have a para-military force like they have right now, they should spell out in their own Government Regulations, how that force should work.

Mr. Speaker, I see that my time on this particular amendment is coming to a close, and I will look forward to the opportunity of speaking again on the main motion or on any other amendments that might be brought forward because I think the Government is going too fast on this. They have not consulted properly, there ought to be time for a review of this legislation, not only by the municipalities involved - the municipalities ought to know the cost; the other municipalities ought to know what other powers the Government is taking to itself, and, Mr. Speaker, the Government should have a really serious review of what it is doing to the legislation that controls the St. John's Fire Department and now the new regional force before these things are implemented and six months might be enough time to do that.

Mr. Speaker, those are my comments on the amendment. I will be voting in favour of the amendment to delay this matter for six months.

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a few words to say on this particular amendment and this bill. The Opposition would like to have this bill delayed for six months to study the whole amalgamation of the Northeast Avalon. I have been a resident of the metropolitan area for the last eighteen years and I wonder, sometimes, how much money has been spent on studying amalgamation and regional government in this area. Sometimes it burns me to know that we have wasted so many of the taxpayers dollars studying. It seems to be great for bureaucracies to study, to study, to study. I think, for those of us who are elected, the time has come to lead, not to be led. When I look at the amount of monies that have been spent on studies in this particular area about amalgamation and what is better, the super city, the Whelan Report, I would say that hundreds of thousands, probably millions of dollars have been spent. When I travel around my district of Bellevue and see people bringing water in buckets -

MR. R. AYLWARD: The same as they do in St. John's.

MR. BARRETT: The same as in some areas as St. John's, they are bringing water in buckets, and here we are debating an amendment to delay this for another six months to hire another bunch of consultants to waste more money. I disagree with that totally.

About seventeen years ago, I decided to live in a community that, at that particular time, was slated to be called the satellite city. As a matter of fact, I went to briefing sessions at Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and everybody was excited about the satellite city. The satellite city was to become Newtown. As a matter of fact, they even, at one time, considered having a competition, and they were going to call it the Cabot city. What it encompassed was a residential area, and the industrial base was Donovans Industrial Park.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that true?

MR. BARRETT: The hon. member had his opportunity to speak. I am telling the truth.

AN HON. MEMBER: Show me a (inaudible) and I will bring you out the actual plan.

MR. BARRETT: I was in the line-up for building lots. What happened at that particular time was that Newfoundland and Labrador Housing developed the land and the Donovans Industrial Park - we were not a part of the town of Mount Pearl, we were a part of Newtown, a part of the St. John's Metropolitan Board.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl, at that time, was not in the Cabinet. As a matter of fact, he was on one side of the fence and I was on the other side. We had two committees, one wanted to join Mount Pearl and the other side wanted to either stay with the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board or join the City of St. John's.

We had two plebiscites. In both plebiscites, over 90 per cent of the people in Newtown did not want to join Mount Pearl, and in one clean sweep, our taxes were doubled.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) chose to join.

MR. BARRETT: We did not choose. We never did choose to join Mount Pearl. There was never a plebiscite that said we would. We decided -


MR. BARRETT: There never was.

AN HON. MEMBER: Never a plebiscite?

MR. BARRETT: Never a plebiscite. I remember working on a committee in Newtown at the time -


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

MR. BARRETT: There were five or six of us on the committee. I remember, the other side had the slick brochures. They had access to some money that our committee did not have. We sent ours out on the - it was not so bad as in the days - first when I was teaching we used to put hectograph in the pie pans. But the brochures that we sent out were just as bad as that. I remember doing them on the old stencils. As a matter of fact, I went down to Dicks and Company and they donated the stencils for me and I ran them off on an old spirit duplicator.

The former Leader of the Opposition talked about the hobnailed boots. Well, we were taken, kicking and screaming, into the City of Mount Pearl. And I have to say, I am really pleased that the government of the day took the leadership, because it was the right thing to do. Right? The people in Newtown didn't want to do it, but, in retrospect, it was the right thing to do. I am proud to be - and have been - a resident of Mount Pearl. I have made my contribution to the city of Mount Pearl in terms of involvement in organizations, and I am pleased to contribute, very pleased. Every time I drive down Park Avenue, all the streets, down Spruce Avenue, all those areas, I am very pleased that my tax dollars were able to bring these streets up to standard.

The Newtown Industrial Park part of Mount Pearl made Mount Pearl viable. Before that it was not viable. And it was a good decision, a great decision. It created a great community. I think, what we are talking about here is, it is the same thing that is happening to the City of St. John's, in that, all around, the area is built up. Those of us who wanted to get away from the heavy taxation, even though we paid a bundle for our building lot -we paid a fortune for our building lots. I bought one only six months ago; I paid $48,000 to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, $48,000 for a building lot, which includes the curb and gutter, the water and sewer.

I have paid for my part of Mount Pearl, don't you forget. Mount Pearl hasn't done anything for me. I pay $1,200 a year in taxes, but other than street cleaning, snow clearing, street lights, garbage collection, I paid for every inch of the 50 x 100 that I have, and paid through the nose. Then, on top of that, I gave the Federal Government 7 per cent GST. So, I can hold my head and say that I have contributed to the city of Mount Pearl. But the people in the older sections of Mount Pearl did not pay their fair share, and we subsidized them. The young people in Mount Pearl, those of us, the upper, middle-class socialities, the 'yuppies', we paid through the nose. All of the area on Topsail Road, and all of the older section of Mount Pearl, we subsidized that crowd. We subsidized them. I am proud of it. A lot of them are friends of mine, good friends of mine, actually. I am really glad that I did it to help them out. It is called sharing, sharing, sharing, and we shared the resources of Newtown and Donovans with the rest of Mount Pearl, and we have built a great city, but do you know what is happening now? Some of the sections of Mount Pearl are starting to deteriorate, and the taxes are going to have to be raised, the same as St. John's.

I majored in geography when I went to university, and I know something about planning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Port Elizabeth.

MR. BARRETT: Port Elizabeth and Red Harbour - Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn the debate, because they just riled me up and I need at least another fifteen or twenty minutes.

Mr. Speaker, I adjourn the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until 2;00 p.m. tomorrow, and that the House do now adjourn.

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