November 28, 1991            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLI  No. 80

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before proceeding with the routine business, I would like, on behalf of hon. members, to welcome to the galleries today twenty boy scouts from Vanier Elementary School here in St. John's, accompanied by their leaders, David Fogwell, Keith Bowden, Shawn Gosse, Gary Boland, and Mark Brown.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Fisheries called on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to take a stand against the Federal Government's proposal for an Atlantic fisheries management agency, and in support of Canada/Newfoundland joint management agreement.

I want to say first of all to the Premier, as a preamble, and I want to make it clear, that we on this side of the House vehemently oppose that proposal, as well, and I have today notified the Minister of Fisheries of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I also want to remind the House, of course, that this has been our position and policy for eleven years, and I will provide -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we are all eager to support a Canada/Newfoundland Agreement because, as I said, we have advocated one for a long, long time, as well. The question I want to ask the Premier is this: What is it the Newfoundland Government wants this House to support? No one has seen it other than the Prime Minister, I guess, and Mr. Crosbie, as we were told the other day. Where is the Government's proposal for joint management, and how can anyone be expected to support it if we have not even seen it? Will we see it soon?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Crosbie knows what it is. We have talked to Mr. Crosbie about it. We have been pleading with Mr. Crosbie for months to sit down and talk to us about it. My last meetings with Mr. Crosbie were, 'Don't proceed with what you are doing now until you sit down and talk to us about joint management.' I met with the Prime Minister the latter part of September and said, 'Please, sit down and talk to us about joint management. I know Mr. Crosbie is proposing a change. Before any change is proposed in a public way, would you please meet with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to discuss joint management.' Now, there is not much more I can do other than get on my knees, and I do not propose to do that for anybody.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we would have preferred to have had a discussion with the Prime Minister and Mr. Crosbie before presenting it in a public way because we did not want them to be offended or affronted by our trying to sell it on a public basis before we even discussed it with them. It was as a courtesy to them that we have not presented it in a public way. Now, in the meantime, we even went so far as to meet on two occasions with the Premier of Nova Scotia - three, I am sorry -

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Cashin (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Cashin. I know what Mr. Cashin is doing. Mr. Cashin is protecting his own personal interest.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: He has placed himself in a position where he can't criticize his masters in Ottawa, so he has to focus criticism on the Government that doesn't have the control here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: It's about time!

PREMIER WELLS: It's about time somebody said that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in addition to meeting the Prime Minister and Mr. Crosbie, I have met three times in the last few months with the Premier of Nova Scotia, recognizing that it is important to try to persuade him to this point of view, too. We met last summer; he came here to visit me. And I met with the Premier of Nova Scotia to help persuade him to this point of view because it would be easier to get Ottawa to accept the proposal. I went to Nova Scotia, and I met with the Premier of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Not regional at all; and I insisted that it be provincial, not regional, and he knows that. I met with the Premier of Nova Scotia again just last week in Halifax, and he was proposing regional, Mr. Crosbie's proposal, and I said no, we can never agree to that because it would be devastating for Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: It is obvious to me that Mr. Crosbie is co-operating with the Premier of Nova Scotia to put this in place, and that is not acceptable, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I don't care what the Premier has said to the Prime Minister, or what the Premier has said to the Minister of Fisheries in Ottawa. That wasn't my question. My question is: When is he going to say something to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? When is he going to say something to the elected representatives of the people, who sit in this Legislature? That was my question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Let me ask the Premier to relax; take it easy; just relax. I am just reminding him that he didn't answer the question. I asked him when he was going to give the people of the Legislature a chance to have a look at his proposal.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask him this. All we have heard the Premier say, and the Minister of Fisheries allude to, in some vague way, is some kind of board, similar to an offshore petroleum board, I think, is what somebody said over there on that side of the House. I ask the Premier, will he give a commitment to this Legislature that we will have an opportunity to see this so-called White Paper? Will we have an opportunity to debate this particular White Paper and the policies contained in it, in this Legislature, before the House adjourns this fall? May I ask him to answer that question?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the full report and the full proposal has been made available to Mr. Crosbie, so he knows exactly -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I will answer the question in my own way. The Leader of the Opposition can determine the questions but he can't determine the answers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The full details have been made available to Mr. Crosbie. Now that Mr. Crosbie and the Prime Minister have spurned our courtesy to them by our not making it public before we had an opportunity to discuss it with them, the minister tells me he is going to make it available to the House on Monday. So it will be made available here on Monday.

AN HON. MEMBER: Can we debate?

PREMIER WELLS: You can debate what you like.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Richard Cashin.

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.

MR. TOBIN: All the Premier did was attack Richard Cashin.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, he attacked Richard Cashin, that's all he did. Big deal!

MR. MATTHEWS: I don't know why some of them are so touchy today. I think Mr. Cashin may have struck a nerve, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Right on, that is exactly what happened.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: For the past five or six months, Mr. Speaker, the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has been talking very openly about reform within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Indeed, on October 3, in a speech to the Fisheries Council of Canada, the federal minister described the process of licensing and allocations as too complex, too political and simply archaic, and he said at that time that a new agency should be set up to make individual decisions regarding licensing and allocations.

I ask the minister, since that was announced on October 3, did he make any representations to the federal minister pertaining to this new agency and did he make any specific recommendations as to the course the federal minister should follow?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has answered that question, I think, and answered it very well, in that we have been talking now to Mr. Crosbie and to his predecessor, Mr. Valcourt, and I believe, going back to the days of Mr. Siddon, about the need for some kind of a joint management regime. Now, Mr. Crosbie was well aware of what the Province was thinking. It has been said to him on many occasions both by the Premier and myself. The Premier, in fact, has already, I understand, briefed the Prime Minister on the type of a joint management regime that we want put in place. So Mr. Crosbie was well aware of the position that the Province had taken. We presented him with a copy of our discussion paper last week, notwithstanding, Mr. Speaker -


MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentlemen do not want to support the Province, would prefer to support Mr. Crosbie and the maritime provinces' fishermen, then that is fine. But if they are going to support Newfoundland's position, which is the right one, then they cannot have it both ways. Right now they are trying to find a way to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CARTER: They're desperate, they've become desperate! They know they cannot support Mr. Crosbie and yet they are afraid to support the Province. Mr. Speaker, if they have any regard whatever for this Province -


MR. CARTER: - and for the fishermen of this Province then they will do the right thing and support the Province's position.

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

I am asking hon. members please to refrain from interference on both sides. It does not assist in the flow of Question Period.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Let me say to the Minister that I strongly oppose what Mr. Crosbie has proposed -


MR. MATTHEWS: - I strongly oppose it. But I cannot support something when I don't know what it's about! I say to the Minister, I cannot support something when I do not know what you are proposing. How can I support that, any more than the people of the Province can?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: And I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister was so concerned about this on Tuesday that I asked him the question and he gave me an answer about part time fishermen. So he should not get up here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Ah! He can give it but he cannot take it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Now let me ask Dr. Doolittle, Mr. Speaker, this question. Now that he has had time to study the proposals -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Decker.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, that is Dr. Death. Dr. Doolittle. Now that he has had time to study the Federal document, the proposal document, I'm -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Don't answer it, the Premier said, look.

MR. MATTHEWS: I would hope that the Minister is allowed to stand up and answer a question, Mr. Speaker, and not to be dictated to by the dictator.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member to -

MR. MATTHEWS: Now that he has had time to look at the document, the proposal document, I want to ask the Minister. I have my own impressions of the negative implications that it will have for the fishing industry in this Province. I am wondering what concerns does the Minister have about it?

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

MR. CARTER: When the hon. gentleman has the courtesy to address me properly I will consider answering his question.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to remind hon. members on both sides of the House that there is a protocol on order and decorum and members do have to be addressed in the proper fashion. I ask the hon. Opposition House Leader to continue his question.

MR. MATTHEWS: I respect that, Mr. Speaker, but it is also a well know fact in this Legislature that if you can give it you should also be able to take it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Because this matter is so important to the fishing industry of Newfoundland and Labrador I want to ask the minister if he would immediately seek, and if he has to, demand a meeting with Mr. Crosbie, and again demand that he scrap his plans for this Atlantic Regional Agency as it will only further compromise those involved in the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador? If he has not already done so will he do that? Will he scrap his proposals for an Atlantic Regional Agency to deal with licensing and allocations? Will he immediately seek a meeting with the minister, get in touch with him, and demand that he scrap his proposal for this regional agency?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is way behind. In fact the Premier has already written the Prime Minister of our country and has asked the Prime Minister to instruct his Minister, Mr. Crosbie, to meet with the provincial minister to discuss the joint management proposal.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)

MR. CARTER: Certainly we will be meeting with Mr. Crosbie to discuss the matter. I should point out that it is rather interesting that members opposite complain that we were late in getting our report into the hands of Mr. Crosbie, but what they are not saying is that Mr. Crosbie had our report about five days before he extended the courtesy-

MS. VERGE: Five days? (inaudible) two and one half years.

MR. CARTER: No, one second. Mr. Speaker if they can contain themselves! We gave Mr. Crosbie our report many days before he extended the courtesy to us of giving us a copy of his report. In fact we received his report, I believe it was Wednesday evening, I believe it was sometime yesterday.


MR. CARTER: Mr. Crosbie's five or six page report on restructuring.

AN HON. MEMBER: On Tuesday.

MR. CARTER: Or on Tuesday. He had our report before we gave him -

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Mines and Energy. I am sure he is familiar with the Bloomberg Financial Markets Commodities News, a U.S. publication specializing in reporting on the petroleum industry. Reports in a recent newsletter suggested that the Newfoundland Government gave Newfoundland Processing Limited $20 million in cash to keep the Come By Chance Refinery open. Is there any basis to this story? Has the Government made a $20 million cash payment to the refinery?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to have an opportunity, actually, to clarify this mess. We have not given the Come By Chance Refinery one cent, not one penny. So, I do not know where this story comes from, it is totally incorrect.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WARREN: Don't laugh too loud, fellows.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe the hon. the Member for Menihek has the floor to ask a question.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Bloomburg Commodities News claims it was told of the cash contribution by a Newfoundland Government official. That is what they claim. Has the Government provided any financial assistance to the Come By Chance Refinery through loan guarantees, purchase of crude, transfer of assets, temporary assistance with cash flow, or any other form of financial assistance?

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

DR. GIBBONS: The answer again, Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, is no, but I do know that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has bought some crude from Come By Chance. They normally tender for their crude. They have bought some. I am not aware of any other crude that has been bought from Come By Chance. And the answer is, no, to the other parts of the question.

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

MR. A. SNOW: The minister is undoubtedly aware that there were reports last summer and last fall about Newfoundland Processing being in financial trouble. Did the company request any financial assistance from the Government or from any other agency of Government, and can he confirm that the refinery is in arrears with electrical charges to Newfoundland Hydro to the tune of about $7 or $8 million?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the refinery has never come to me looking for any money, and we have never offered any to it. No, the refinery is not in arrears to the tune of $7 to $8 million to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I am not attempting to spread rumours, I am attempting, Mr. Speaker, to clarify the rumours and to place facts on the table rather than to accept the rumours that are out and about in the communities in this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have recognized the hon. Member for Menihek, and I know that there are many questions coming in addition to his, but members should take advantage of Question Period to ask those questions, and allow the Member for Menihek to carry on without any interference from members to the left as well.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: A supplementary question to the minister, Mr. Speaker. I will ask him if they are in arrears to Newfoundland Hydro, and how much?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am not going to get into the details of what Newfoundland Processing may owe Hydro. Everybody who buys electricity from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro receives a bill, and has time in which to pay that bill, and Newfoundland Processing does the same as anybody else.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is also to the minister responsible for Mines and Energy. Mr. Speaker, back on April the 27th, 1990, the minister announced in a Ministerial Statement that Newfoundland Hydro was taking a new direction in policy concerning the development of mini hydro sites in the Province. That would mean that on any appropriate hydro project of ten megawatts, or 10,000 kilowatts, that Hydro would relinquish its water franchise to private developers, and purchase the resulting energy. Could the minister tell the House now if Hydro is still following this policy?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, Hydro is still following this policy to date. I do not have a recent count in the last few days, but I know that we have gone past, I think it is twenty-five sites that have been nominated by the private sector, and some indication we may be getting close to thirty sites that have been nominated. They are in the category that he is talking about. Of these, about a half dozen have been registered with the Department of Environment, and are either through or going through the environmental review process.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Is the minister aware then that Newfoundland Hydro has indicated to those same people you just mentioned that they will only accept fifty megawatts of power - the application for fifty megawatts or more - because of the fact that they are building a new 150 megawatt generating plant in Holyrood, and they will not accept any independent power until after the new generator is commissioned.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be some confusion about the matter. Because of the fact that we have a policy of encouraging mini hydro, and encouraging co-generation, and other types of electrical generation to provide some power in the medium to short term, Hydro has deferred a decision on whether or not it will be building another unit at Holyrood for at least one more year. The indication was that there would be a decision made this fall, and made before now this fall, to go into the capital planning for next year on whether Hydro would be doing Holyrood number four or some other development starting next year with Holyrood number four getting very serious consideration, but recently they decided to defer that decision by twelve months giving other opportunities and options.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware then that Newfoundland Hydro now has told those same private companies, that have received viable small hydro sites from Hydro that they are now calling for request for proposals? After doing all the work on those projects they are now calling for requests for proposals. Could the minister confirm that?

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

DR. GIBBONS: I have not been informed that that is happening, Mr. Speaker. If it is, I will have to check it out for him.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder could the minister explain then why Newfoundland Hydro, who has just gone for a 3.9 per cent increase to the PUB, would even consider building a 150 megawatt generator in Holyrood when, like he said, we have about twenty or twenty-five proposals now before the board through the private sector, willing to put their own money into it, not costing one cent of Government money, and I have documentation saying that those private individuals have been told otherwise.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if they have been told otherwise, and I will check that out. They certainly should not have been told otherwise. They should not have been told otherwise, and the reason for the deferral of a decision on Holyrood number four, or any future development by Hydro, is to give these options a chance to be developed. I will be checking into that further.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance, but in his absence I will ask the Premier. Is he aware of the Federal Government's, particularly the Minister of Finance's, announced intention of having a wide ranging series of pre-budget meetings leading up to the preparation of the federal budget as part of a new federal policy? Is he further aware that although originally plans had been made to have consultations in the Atlantic Provinces, either in St. John's or in Halifax, these have now been cancelled, and the closest that the minister will be coming, in terms of having pre-budget consultations on this matter, is the City of Montreal?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the hon. member is getting at. It may be that the closest the federal organized consultations will be may be the City of Montreal; I do not know the detail of that. The Minister of Finance would know it. But I can assure the member that the Ministers of Finance of the four Atlantic Provinces are in the process of meeting now. This is why the minister is not here. He is on his way to participate in a meeting of Atlantic Provinces Finance Ministers, so Montreal is not the closest that we will come to dealing with pre-budget matters. I am not quite sure the extent to which those discussions may involve any aspect of federal budgeting. They certainly will involve aspects of provincial budgeting, and federal transfers to provinces.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The pre-budget consultations to which I referred are public consultations which are planned for groups outside of Government, involving economic councils, citizens groups, people who have a say in the economy and are interested in the effect of the federal budget on the economy, that have been planned for all over the country, one and two day sessions that have been cancelled. Perhaps the Premier is not aware. Will he advise the House of whether his Government is prepared to make representations to the federal minister to ensure that full consultation and participation is made possible by the Federal Government because of the serious effects of the federal budget on the people of this Province, and indeed the Government of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, to be honest, I do not know the detail about these proposals. I suspect that they are, in the main, opportunities for private, and in a sense public - by that I mean of private individuals in a public way - but that governmental process will continue in the ordinary course. I do not know if there are going to be additional federal hearings in the Atlantic region, or meetings or gatherings in the Atlantic region, in Newfoundland or in Nova Scotia, to provide for this, but as soon as I speak with the Minister of Finance again I will ask him what discussions he has had. I will ask him to report to the House. I do not know whether he will be back for tomorrow morning or not. I doubt it.


PREMIER WELLS: He will not be, so it will probably be Monday before we will be able to answer the question.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

Two days ago, I believe, he met with some representatives from the Canadian Paperworkers Union representing the loggers with the Kruger operation in the Province. They made a request of the minister to make representations to Kruger, on their behalf, to delay the implementation of some new technology which Kruger plans to bring into the forest operations in our Province. Could the minister tell this House if he plans to make representations to Kruger to delay the new technology that is to be brought into this Province?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, since the subject is so important to so many people, I should really put in perspective exactly what has happened.

As the hon. member said, last Tuesday I met with the Minister of Employment and Labour, and with the union representatives of CPU. They outlined to us what they understood Kruger to be doing in their forest and woodlands operations. I listened. We had a very productive meeting. I listened for an hour and a half to their concerns and they suggested various alternatives, options that Kruger might look at as opposed to what indeed Kruger was saying, and I committed myself to the CPU to now sit with management in Corner Brook or St. John's and listen officially to what Kruger did indeed intend to do with regard to their woodlands operation. We also made a commitment to the CPU to ask Kruger whether or not there were problems, or what the problems might be with any alternatives being suggested by the CPU, and I might tell the hon. member in answer to his direct question that I have already been in contact with the management in Corner Brook and right now a meeting is being organized for as early as possible next week to discuss the whole issue.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I understand that the minister made the commitment that he would ask Kruger to delay implementation of these three harvesters. Maybe the Canadian Paper Workers Union misunderstood what the minister said too. But, Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Paper Workers Union also asked the minister if he would consider the possibility of this new technology coming into the forest operations on the West Coast, as requiring an environmental impact study. I am not sure that it requires an environmental impact study, however, has the minister ordered, because he is Minister of Environment and Lands as well as Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, an environmental review of this project because of the new technology to be brought into the forests of this Province?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, long before, certainly a week maybe more, before I met with the representatives of CPU, as Acting Minister of Environment and Lands, I had received a letter, which I discussed with the CPU, pointing out that the union feels that these new harvesters are not environmentally - there are problems as far as they were concerned with those machines, and what I have done of course, having received the letter and having received the concerns, I have asked the Department of Environment and Lands to deal with the letters and to advise me as to whether or not there is any basis for the concerns as expressed by the CPU, and, Mr. Speaker, when my officials have had a chance to analyze that letter and to look at whether or not there is any basis for the concerns expressed by the CPU, then we will deal with that issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table in the House the report of the Public Tender Act exceptions for October of this year.

PREMIER WELLS: Are you going to mention that there are some (Inaudible)?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) exceptions this time, Mr. Speaker. Members will notice when they get their copies that there are some instances where there were lease extensions that were not done during -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Oh. You want me to start again?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tabling of reports.

MR. BAKER: I was tabling the report, the Public Tender exceptions, October, and I was pointing out to Members that Members will notice if they look, in three pages that have to do with lease extensions, that there are several items that are not for October but were from previous dates and inadvertently were overlooked, and that we are currently -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Inadvertently, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) maybe.

MR. BAKER: Maybe. We are currently looking into the reasons why they were overlooked. One of them dates back quite some time, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to point that out so hon. Members can have a close look at it.

Notices of Motion

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

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act."


MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) police commission.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


The hon. the Opposition House Leader, the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Not on Petitions, Mr. Speaker. You are -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) point of order.

PREMIER WELLS: If I might revert. The hon. Member for Humber East asked about the police commission. I can (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Could we revert?

PREMIER WELLS: Could we revert to Answers to Questions?


MR. SPEAKER: Revert to Answer to Questions?

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I spoke to the Deputy Minister of Justice and asked her where it was. She told me that the matter was in progress, the Bill has been drafted, it was going through for final approvals of people with different interests in it. It should be ready to proceed to Cabinet fairly shortly, within days I would think.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sixth draft.

PREMIER WELLS: This is the sixth draft? It has gone through its sixth draft now and it will come for final approval to Cabinet shortly.

MS. VERGE: Will it come before the House before Christmas?

PREMIER WELLS: It may be but I cannot say. It depends. If the House is closing on Monday, no, if it closes Friday, probably not, if it stays open 'til next week, maybe.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a point of order, I believe.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible), Mr. Speaker. I rise today on a provision of Standing Order 23, to ask leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing -

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. Member would permit, I do not think we had gone past Petitions. If you would let me get past Petitions we would come back to... let me come back to Petitions and we -

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, we were, and we went back into Orders -

MR. SPEAKER: Well, okay, we will just make for (Inaudible).

Orders of the Day

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Before Orders of the Day.


MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thought that you had called Petitions and then we reverted back for the Premier to make his statement, so I apologize for that.

But I rise today on a provision of Standing Order 23, to ask leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance. I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that what we, on this side - and I see the Premier is taking it very lightly, but we do not - that what we have seen come down over the last couple of days pertaining to the federal minister's proposal to establish a regional agency to deal with licensing and allocations in the Atlantic fishery, more particularly in the Newfoundland fishery, we consider that to be of extreme importance to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and, in particular, those fishermen and fish plant workers who are out and about struggling, as it is, to make a living in this Province.

We think it is of vital importance, important enough, Mr. Speaker, for this Legislature to have a debate on the issue. We feel that a strong message has to be sent to the federal minister and to the Federal Government on the issue. We think, Mr. Speaker, this matter is urgent and important enough to the future of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, particularly, in our most traditional, historic industry, the fishery, that as a united force, this Legislature should debate the issue and then jointly resolve to go forward in representation, and we ask for Your Honour's consideration.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear! A good point.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have been through a number of occasions in this House in the last seven years when motions have been made to adjourn the House for debate on a matter of urgent public importance. Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind Your Honour that nothing is happening right now that requires an action within the next few hours, number one. Number two, Mr. Speaker, the matter was already raised during Question Period today. It has been indicated to members opposite that the Government's position paper will be available to the House on Monday, at which point in time, we would be quite willing to have discussion for a day or two on that particular document which covers the issue at hand.

This clause is generally reserved for items which there is no other opportunity to debate, and I would suggest there are many opportunities to debate this issue on the Order Paper. Members, for instance, last Wednesday had an opportunity to bring forth a private member's motion on this topic. There are many money bills still left on the Order Paper, and I have indicated that after the documentation has been prepared and ready for release to the House involving Government's position on this issue, I would be quite willing to have a one-or-two-day debate on this issue. Mr. Speaker, I submit this is not a matter to which this particular clause would apply.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I support the motion by the hon. the Opposition House Leader. In debating what is known as an emergency resolution, I guess the word 'urgency' is the one that has be interpreted by the Chair. It is not necessarily the fact that there may be other opportunities to bring the matter up. The Question Period is not a time for debate. Question Period is to ask questions of the Government. Private members' resolutions are not an appropriate way of dealing with matters of such great import, and particularly, ones that are requiring an urgency of response, and I think that is the key, Mr. Speaker. Given the seriousness of the proposal and the consequences for this Province, the urgency of a response, a detailed response, an opportunity have public discussion about it in this House, is an important enough reason to require an emergency debate in this House. The other opportunities that may arise do not give the same impact to it. I recall, several years ago, a decision by the Government of Canada to intervene in a constitutional case before the Supreme Court of Canada was sufficient cause for the Government of the day to have an emergency reaction, in fact, I believe, called a special day, a moratorium of some kind to protest, by this Government, the actions of the Government of Canada. So, I think there is precedent, Mr. Speaker, for recognizing these types of events as matters of an urgent nature.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the point raised by my colleague the Opposition House Leader. I think this is, indeed, a very important urgency situation, probably one of the most urgent economic situations we have had facing us in this Province for a number of years.

Yesterday in the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, we heard the Premier say how important this was and how Newfoundlanders should get behind him and rally behind the Minister of Fisheries and the Government to protest this decision. Today, when we raise it, Mr. Speaker, as a point of great importance to the people of Newfoundland and ask for an urgent discussion on it, the Premier and the Minister of Fisheries get up and walk out of the Legislature. Now, they cannot have it both ways, Mr. Speaker. If it was urgent yesterday, it is urgent today, and it is shameful that neither of them has stayed to see what Your Honour is going to rule on this. This is an urgent situation, Mr. Speaker. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are now being affected by it.

We have heard Mr. Cashin, Mr. Speaker, from the Fishermens' Union, in the past twenty-four and forty-eight hours speak of the urgency of this, and the callous attitude of this administration towards it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind the hon. member that, at this point, he is not to enter into debate. The hon. the member is only to express the case for urgency and make it very quickly. I have already heard a number of cases, and I am just extending a courtesy to the member. It is not normal to allow members to carry on debate when we are asking that the matter be debated. So, I would ask the hon. member to clue up pretty quickly.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I submit, as my colleague did and as the Member for St. John's East did, that we, on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, particularly the people involved in the fisheries, see this matter as extremely urgent. We ask you, Your Honour, to rule in favour of the resolution and let us debate this, and let the people of Newfoundland and Labrador see if their elected representatives support the urgency of the mess the fisheries is in.

MR. SPEAKER: As hon. members know, when the Chair is deciding upon this matter, the urgency of debate, we are not at all discussing the urgency of the matter. We all know that the matter is very urgent. Anything to do with the fisheries is a very urgent matter. As a matter of fact, one Speaker in Saskatchewan, when dealing with this, because the Chair is put in a discretionary position, always ruled that whenever anything was raised on farming for emergency debate, he let it go, because farming was always so important to Saskatchewan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: In deciding whether or not the Chair allows the debate to continue on this particular matter, as I have said before, what the Chair has to decide is whether or not there is an urgency of debate and whether or not the debate today will do anything towards a resolution of the matter. Particularly today, when we do not know what the position of the Government is, the Chair would rather, I think, like to see what the position of the Government is, to wait until they present their position and, if the matter arose at that particular time, I think maybe the Chair would be more inclined to allow an emergency debate. I think it would be much more advantageous to wait for the presentation of the Government, and then we could debate something intelligently.

So, right now, the Chair would rule that there is no urgency of debate, and thus not allow the debate to go ahead.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 14, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 14, a continuation of the Second Reading of Bill 50.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support the motion made by my colleague, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, to give this bill, Bill 50, the six-month hoist. In other words, to delay debate of the bill until time is allowed for a proper study and analysis of the financial implications of the bill, as well as the meaning of this legislation for our established democratic processes for governing the Province.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an extraordinary measure that caps an extraordinarily confused process of reforming municipal government in the Province. After this 'real change' Wells Administration took office, without allowing time for proper examination of municipal government, in a rash fashion, the minister announced that the Government was going to amalgamate a long list of municipalities. He made that announcement without any prior consultation with the municipalities affected, or the people of the Province, just two months after taking office in July 1989.

In making the decree, he indicated that all these amalgamations would take effect by that fall, in time for the November municipal elections, and furthermore, any municipalities which protested would be forced into mergers, nonetheless. There was an instant uproar and after a few days the Premier calmed people's fears by saying that the Government would not force any amalgamation against the wishes of an affected municipality.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that was perhaps the most blatant example of the Premier's penchant for using language in a very particular, detailed and misleading way. The Premier, similar to a magician, has a fashion of allowing himself many doors from which to exit. Any reasonable person hearing the Premier speak in the summer of 1989, saying the Government would not force amalgamation against the wishes of a municipality, took him at his word. Later the Premier chose to interpret his words as meaning that the Cabinet would not force amalgamations, saying in difficult cases - a nice euphemism - the House of Assembly would decide. Of course, the Premier and his party control the House of Assembly. Basically, anything the Premier wants, goes. The members opposite blindly follow their leader.

After the summer of 1989, the Government has successively retreated from the initial decree. There has been one delay after another. Reluctantly and incompletely, the Government followed the provisions of The Municipalities Act requiring feasibility studies. They did not honour the spirit of that legislation by appointing independent people to conduct the studies. In each case, the Government named a member of the executive of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - an official beholden to the Premier for his job - as well as naming a second commissioner nominated by the municipalities affected.

The commissioners appointed carried out feasibility studies by holding public hearings and writing reports. But, Mr. Speaker, in a number of instances, the Government has ignored the reports, has disregarded the advice, and, in the case of the Northeast Avalon, not only has the Government ignored the advice, the Government has proceeded to draw up a completely different scenario bearing no resemblance to the original proposition decreed by the minister back in July of 1989.

Apparently, the whole initiative was driven by the Premier's notion of what should happen in Grand Falls - Windsor, where amalgamation had been discussed for many years and where there was some local support for it, coupled with the desire of the minister, being a former councillor of the City of St. John's, to create a supercity in the Northeast Avalon. Those two individuals extrapolated their view of what should happen in two cases across the whole Province.

Now, as I have said on many other occasions, I and the PC Party support the concept of amalgamation. Amalgamation, in appropriate cases, approached in a co-operative, democratic fashion, can be useful, can lead to improvements.

In the district that I represent, in the mid 1980s, two municipalities, Southbrook and Pasadena, amalgamated. The amalgamation was preceded by proper consultation, by a feasibility study conducted by an independent commissioner, a lawyer in private practice completely outside the Provincial Government. After the hearings, and after considerable discussion at the local level when it was clear that there was a considerable body of opinion in favour of the merger, it was also clear that several people, especially residents of the smaller municipality, Southbrook, had reservations.

The community of Southbrook then conducted a plebescite. The result of that vote was a majority indicating approval for amalgamation. Thereafter, the individuals opposing amalgamation or having reservations at least had the satisfaction of knowing that it was the majority wish of Southbrook and of the local area that the merger take place.

Mr. Speaker, that amalgamation became effective in 1985 in time for the ensuing municipal election. There were transitional arrangements for an enlarged council for one term, there was a commitment from the Provincial Government for extra capital works funding to upgrade Southbrook, and while that funding took longer than expected to materialize, nevertheless, the services of Southbrook are being upgraded, and people in that area, generally, are satisfied with the results of amalgamation.

Also, in the district I represent, the City of Corner Brook was formed as a product of the amalgamation of four communities in 1956. I wasn't old enough at the time to know what went on in the way of prior consultation, discussion or feasibility study, but Corner Brook was incorporated as the City of Corner Brook, being the product of the amalgamation of four towns in 1956.

As part of the present minister's grand amalgamation design released in the summer of 1989, Corner Brook was called upon to be enlarged with the annexation of the municipalities of Massey Drive and Mount Moriah. Now, Mr. Speaker, while holding a positive attitude towards amalgamation in the abstract, I have steadfastly opposed the merger of Corner Brook, Massey Drive, and Mount Moriah, as proposed by the Liberal 'real change' administration. I believe it would have the result of adding to the overall total cost of delivering municipal services in that area because, instead of there being resulting economies of scale there would be diseconomies of scale. Amalgamation is desirable when it has the result of lowering the overall unit cost of delivering municipal services, when it has the effect of creating economies of scale, where it has the effect of eliminating duplication of effort.

In the case of the proposal to combine Massey Drive and Mount Moriah with Corner Brook, the unit cost would actually increase, and the reason is that the City of Corner Brook, with a population of 23,000, is so much larger than the other two municipalities. Corner Brook has a relatively large well paid unionized bureaucracy. It has a fully paid and unionized fire department. Massey Drive with a population of not quite 500 people, Mount Moriah with a population of about 800 people have many of the characteristics of rural communities. Those communities operate with a tremendous amount of volunteer service. For a start the councils are entirely voluntary, there is no cost to the tax payers for the operation of the town councils. Furthermore, in both cases the fire departments are entirely voluntary and in the case of Massey Drive which, as I say has a population of fewer than 500 people, twenty-five men make up the fire department. These men donate several hours each week to training and participating in fire department activities.

They are extremely well qualified. The Massey Drive fire chief was one of the first twelve fire fighters in the Province to receive certification from the University of Oaklahoma, a formal program sponsored by the provincial fire commissioner's office. Among the other eleven similarly certificated, were fully paid fire fighters serving with fire departments of Corner Brook or St. John's. The point is, the volunteers serving on fire departments such as that of Massey Drive are every bit as well trained and qualified as members of fully paid departments such as those of Corner Brook and St. John's.

In Massey Drive, the tax rate is lower than in Corner Brook. Of course the tax rate in every municipality in the Province is lower than Corner Brook. Corner Brook has the highest tax rate and has had for several years. Corner Brook is an extremely expensive municipality to service because, being made up of four communities which were merged in 1956, it spans a very large territory. I have not checked recently but a few years ago Corner Brook had the distinction of having the most miles, now kilometres of local roads, per capita of any municipality in all of Canada.

On top of that, Corner Brook is built on hills. We have a long winter with a tremendous amount of snow so the cost of running and servicing the municipality of Corner Brook is extremely high per capita and that accounts for the high taxes, so Corner Brook taxes are higher than those in Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, but, in the case of Massey Drive, with which I am very familiar, if you combine the taxes being paid by residents with the value of the volunteer effort, with the money's worth of the free effort that goes into staffing and operating the fire department, operating a recreation program and then add to that the money raised through volunteer fund raising activities such as suppers, dances and bingos to help run the fire department and the recreation program, you will see that per capita, people in Massey Drive are contributing every bit as much as tax payers in Corner Brook.

One of the differences however, Mr. Speaker, is that the people in Massey Drive, in contributing to the operation of their community are pulling together, are interacting socially. People in Massey Drive who serve on the fire department, who help with the fire department auxiliary, who make up the recreation committee, who are in the seniors club, who are on the town council are contributing, not because they have to but because they want to. They have a better quality of life because of the characteristics of their municipality. They keep their taxes lower than in Corner Brook because they are contributing so much to volunteer service and are raising so much money through their volunteer fund raising activities.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MS. VERGE: How much, the Minister of Social Services asks? Their mil rate is 7.5 - how do you put a price tag on a twenty-five member fire department which for the ten years of its operation has had a flawless record? How do you put a price tag on that?

We can contrast the cost of the City of Corner Brook Fire Department which has fifty odd members with an average salary and benefit package which is quite substantial. We can make that comparison, but that does not tell the whole story. The Massey Drive Fire Department, as well qualified and as effective as it is, adds to the quality of life in Massey Drive. It contributes to the tremendous, positive feeling that the residents have.

At this time of economic crisis, at this time when it is so necessary to restrain public spending to try to keep taxes to the minimum, why would a provincial government want to displace volunteer fire departments that are working well?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who wants to?

MS. VERGE: Who wants to? The Premier wants to. All of you opposite supporting the Premier want to.

In the case of Bill 50, the measure presently being debated, there are provisions to create a City of St. John's Fire Department covering a much larger area than the boundaries of the City of St. John's, including Paradise, including the Goulds, possibly including Conception Bay South or parts of it, possibly including Flatrock, Outer Cove, Middle Cove, Portugal Cove and St. Phillips. This bill creates a City of St. John's Fire Department operating in areas now well serviced by volunteer fire departments. In these areas, such as Paradise and the Goulds, the taxes are going to have to go up, because those additional areas will be billed-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind hon. members again the appropriate way for asking questions to a member who is addressing the House. The appropriate way is to rise and ask the member if the member would permit a question. If the member does not permit a question, then the hon. member must sit back and relax. This singing out and shouting out while the member is speaking does nothing to add to the decorum of the House.

The hon. the member may continue.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The point I was making is that the Government, at a time when more than ever we need to be restraining pubic spending, and at a time more than ever when we should be cherishing the work of volunteer fire departments, the Government is riding roughshod over volunteer fire departments and displacing them. That would result from the Government's proposal to annex Massey Drive and Mount Moriah with Corner Brook. That has yet to be decided upon. It has been outstanding for twenty-eight months. We do not know how much longer people are going to be kept waiting.

We have before us, an actual bill dealing with amalgamation and regional services in the area of the Northeast Avalon. One of the features of the bill is the creation of a City of St. John's Fire Department with a mandate to service areas presently quite adequately covered by volunteer fire departments. That is going to have the effect of driving up the cost of delivering municipal services in the area by eliminating the reason for being of the volunteer fire departments, and driving up the taxes of people living in those areas. I think this is extremely unwise financially. It seems as though the Government failed to consider the additional costs being created through this measure, and one reason I support the motion for the six months delay is to allow sufficient time for the Government to get its act together and for people in the area affected to grasp the cost implications for them. Perhaps when judging accurately the additional costs resulting from this bill, the Government will reconsider, and revise the bill, and bring in a measure which is more in keeping with the wishes of the people, the needs of the people, and with the fiscal capacity of the Provincial Government.

Mr. Speaker, there are other provisions of this bill which set an extremely dangerous precedent. As my colleague for Mount Pearl has pointed out the word 'notwithstanding' appears in this bill about five times. Essentially what the bill says: is not withstanding democracy, notwithstanding the existing law, notwithstanding the interest of municipalities and individuals affected, the Cabinet should have the power to decide in secret, without reference to the people, without reference to the House of Assembly, without an open debate, without a feasibility study, to decree basic changes in the existence of municipalities, changes in the lines of municipal boundaries, various combinations and permutations of municipalities.

These measures apply to the Northeast Avalon, which I would object to in and of themselves, but they also create a precedent. If the Government can, with their majority in the House of Assembly, remove checks and balances and democratic protections for the Northeast Avalon then presumably they can do exactly the same for the rest of the Province. The Premier has corrupted the phrase 'fairness and balance'. I can easily imagine the Premier saying that if these measures are imposed on the Northeast Avalon then it is only fair and balanced to do the same thing for other areas of the Province. Mr. Speaker, through this mess of municipal amalgamation we have seen many examples of the ineptness of the Wells administration in governing, managing, and decision making. We have seen many examples of their hypocrisy. On the one hand early in the going the Premier indicated a democratic approach leading people to believe that the wishes of people in affected municipalities would be honoured. Later on he, in certain heated meetings, flirted with the idea of a plebescite, again a ploy designed to calm angry citizens, but what is he actually doing after procrastinating for twenty-eight months, after delaying for twenty-eight months? In the case of the Northeast Avalon he is changing the law to try to sanction an anti-democratic process. He is trying to impose changes which have never been the subject of a feasibility study. He is trying to force alterations without any real understanding, certainly on the part of the municipalities and the citizens affected of the cost implications, and he is refusing absolutely to have a plebescite.

Now, when questioned about a plebescite in the past he has occasionally said that he would not have a plebescite in individual municipalities, it would have to be in a total area targeted for combination but he is not even willing to do that now for the Northeast Avalon region. He is saying in the case of Corner Brook, Massey Drive, and Mount Moriah that maybe he will allow a plebiscite in the total area, although one of his most telling and revealing comments he made last Friday in answer to a question I raised in Question Period. I referred to his statement of the previous day that he would honour the wishes of the people in Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah. I was not able to get a straight answer from him about how he was going to divine the wishes of people in that area, so on Friday morning I asked him point blank how and when, and in particular, are you going to have a plebiscite. Mr. Speaker, astoundingly this is what the Premier answered. It will just take me a minute to find it here in Hansard. This is last Friday, November 22. He said, "Mr. Speaker, you only really need to conduct a plebiscite if you are not satisfied that the preponderance of support is one way or the other. My perception of the position to date is that prior to now the City Council of Corner Brook and the people of Corner Brook, the overwhelming majority, have wanted amalgamation." The Premier somehow divined the preponderance of opinion in Corner Brook.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in the winter of 1990 there was a public hearing at the Legion Hall in Corner Brook about the Government's proposal to merge Massey Drive and Mount Moriah with Corner Brook. There was a large turnout. The City of Corner Brook made a presentation. There was not one presenter who favoured amalgamation. In the case of the Northeast Avalon there are some people who want the combination. The City of St. John's has been pushing for a supercity. As an aside I would question if they really studied the proposition before so enthusiastically seeking territorial expansion.

But in the case of Corner Brook, nobody was looking for it. The City of Corner Brook privately has done a study of the cost implications of Massey Drive and Mount Moriah being annexed to Corner Brook. The conclusion is that the overall cost would go up by $600,000 a year. Now the Premier in his answers in the House last week grudgingly admitted that there would be extra cost to Corner Brook. He said quite defiantly that the Government is not willing to compensate Corner Brook for the extra costs associated with amalgamation. Well, if there is extra cost, which is so apparent, why is the Government even talking about it? Why will the Government not leave well enough alone and allow the municipality of Massey Drive to carry on functioning successfully with a high degree of volunteer service?

A couple of weeks ago I attended the 10th anniversary dinner and dance of the Massey Drive Fire Department. That is a vibrant group which just had the distinction of having its chief certificated as one of the first dozen in the Province as a professional fire fighter. He has that professional qualification yet he is donating his time and service to his community. But the fire fighters there that night were asking: do you suppose we are going to be allowed to continue? Will we be here next year? How can we reach out and recruit new members when we have no certainty about our mandate? Now, in this time of economic hardship, how can it be that a government is discouraging volunteer service? How can it be that a government is even giving a second thought to the notion of displacing a volunteer fire department with a fully paid department?

In conclusion, let me state my very strong support for the motion for the six month hoist, for a six month delay for the Government to finally get its act in order on amalgamation. To discover that some of their proposals for municipal mergers make no sense whatsoever, are going to drive up the overall cost of running municipalities, and should be scrapped. When I have a chance to speak to the bill, to the main motion, I will elaborate on the reasons for my objections to the specific contents of this bill, and generally to the Government's whole approach to municipal government.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Being the critic I spoke for an hour on the resolution the other day when the minister introduced it, but I am speaking now, for hon. members' information, on the six month hoist. So I will make a few more comments. I do not expect to take the half hour but I will make a few comments pertaining to this particular bill.

Now it has been said by many speakers in the House in the last few days pertaining to this debate, that the minister and his colleagues on the other side, have taken some very severe actions, very drastic steps, to, what I call, crucify municipalities in this Province and, more specifically, the municipalities on the Northeast Avalon that are encompassed under Bill 50. We will have opportunity when this bill goes through Committee stage to speak clause by clause on the bill. That will come after we put it through second reading.

Mr. Speaker, I also mentioned in some of my opening statements about the Federation of Municipalities, what kind of a role those people are supposed to be playing and will play in the future of municipalities in this Province. At that time, the Federation of Municipalities in the Province didn't even have a copy of Bill 50, didn't know but it was fit to eat, didn't know what it contained. How can a body that is representing all municipalities in this Province, Mr. Speaker, be left out? That alone says something for this whole process. If the governing body or the body that is representing municipalities in the Province, has not even had a copy of the bill, what does that say for the municipalities that are involved in Bill 50? They, Mr. Speaker, were not consulted.

The people of St. Phillips, who contacted me and tried to get me to introduce, on their behalf, petitions in the House, petitions that were picked up, signed and taken by their member here to the House to be presented, those people had two meetings pertaining to the amalgamation process. They were promised a third to try to finalize some of the principles that they were talking about and, to this day, Mr. Speaker, they have not gotten that meeting. They are not the only ones, they are not the only municipalities right here in the Northeast Avalon area that had that problem.

One of the clauses that I referred to, and some of my colleagues referred to when debating this particular bill, is Part VII, Clause (3). I will not go through Clause (3) of it, but I will go through (a), (b) and (c). '(a) amalgamate a town with a town or city and annex areas to a city or town,' that means that this particular administration can do anything, not only in the so-called Northeast Avalon area itself, but extending to CBS and other parts of this particular area involved. They can annex, they can establish, or they can disestablish a town.

Mr. Speaker, if anybody watches the news, reads the newspapers or are up on current and world affairs even a wee bit, they can see any day of the week that we have countries in this world today that have just gotten their freedom, just gotten the chance, Mr. Speaker, to have democracy, just gotten the chance to have elections and just gotten the chance to have a say in their own affairs. We, on the other hand, have had that chance for some time. Our fathers and our forefathers paid a heavy price for that over the years, and to this day we are supposed to be practising it. But when I see a premier and a minister going around this Province or going around this country preaching what should be right for our Province: For our Province, we should not be dictated to by the Federal Government, we should have a senate going to give us equal representation in all the provinces and all regions of this country.

When I stay at home and when I pick up a bill such as this and see what is happening right on our own doorstep, Mr. Speaker, I wonder. No consultation, no communication and, if there was, whatever little bit there was, they took what everyone said anyway and did exactly what they wanted to do. This bill is evident.

Mr. Speaker, just yesterday I questioned the Premier in the House on the new operating grants for 1991. I saw the Minister of Finance lean over his desk and whisper something in the Premier's ear and after Question Period was over he stood and said to me, giving me an answer to the questions I asked: It was identical and exactly the same as what was announced last year.

Mr. Speaker, I have what was announced last year. Every municipality in this Province has a copy of what was announced last year. Some of the questions that were not answered then, are not answered today by municipalities in the Province, so where did they come up with the figures that they have? I questioned four municipalities in this Province in the last twenty-four hours, mayors and councillors, who are very credible and have been involved for some time in councils in this Province and they cannot answer it either. It is funny.

Is it not funny, Mr. Speaker, and does it not beg the question that, people who have been involved in municipal life for years, all of a sudden do not know what they are talking about? Is it not funny, Mr. Speaker, that councillors and mayors in this Province, who know the Municipalities Act from the front to the back and can quote sections of it, without hesitation, all of a sudden do not know what they are talking about? And is it not funny that when you talk to officials in the department, if you happen to talk to three or four, the third and the fourth fellow have something different to say from what the first fellow told you.

Now, if you mind to stay on the phone you can get five or six different scenarios altogether, but I have yet to find any consistency in the municipal operating grant that was changed last year coming from the minister, the Premier and coming from officials in the department. I have yet to see consistency. They can try and bamboozle and try to talk to municipalities around this Province, all volunteers, who in their own right are doing an excellent job, working all day long and all night long, serving their municipalities well, giving their free time on weekends to try to look after the municipalities in question and try to give their time without any costs and they are supposed to be given information to sit down at a desk and try to make up a budget. How can they do it, Mr. Speaker?

Anybody who has been involved in business around this Province, anybody who has been involved in business personally knows that before the end of the week is up - you do not wait until the end of the year - a good businessperson just does not wait until the end of the year to do up his books. If he is really afraid and really I suppose worried about his business and really wanted to make a success of his business, he can do it almost daily. He has to keep on top of it daily, and municipalities in this Province today are no different. It is harder really because you are dealing with the public. You do not have shares issued, you do not have anything on the stock market, but you are dealing with the public and you are answerable to the public whether you are a volunteer or not.

We have members opposite, Mr. Speaker, and I suggest that since yesterday, I would venture to bet that a good many of them are getting calls from their municipalities worried, not only worried but very worried, about what they are going to do about their budgets this year. Where are they going to go, how are they going to raise their funding and to whom do they go? I talked to one municipality today before I came into the House and their answer to it all is this: We are going to do up our budget and we are going to submit our budget regardless of the bottom line. We are not going to raise taxes. We cannot raise taxes anymore, our people have been burdened enough. And this particular council said: enough is enough.

I cannot stand and I cannot sit in this Legislature and have some hon. member tell me that so and so, out in Jackson's Arm and Hampton have the opportunity to raise the same funding that someone in St. John's, Gander or Grand Falls, or anywhere else where there is a good, viable industry, one or two industry towns that have the highest average income in this Province, and not only that, compared with other parts of Canada, I might say. Well up there with other parts of Canada, let alone with other communities in this Province.

How can we sit down and treat other - every municipality in this Province - we are unique! No question. Quebec looking for a distinct society. They are no more distinct than anybody else in this country. We are distinct. We are going to be extinct if we keep up what we are doing. No question. Municipalities in the Province are going to be gone, nothing surer than that.

I can understand Members who have been involved in councils over there knowing exactly what is involved in this new municipal grants structure. I mean, you call municipalities in the Province today and ask them about the equalization grants. Now how can a department justify - okay, I will pick my own community.

The community of Cormack. A community that has a very high concentration of agriculture. Totally exempt - or anything that has anything to do with agriculture in your land base, there is a high percentage of that exempt from property tax. Your home and a half an acre or an acre of land is not exempt. You pay property tax on it. The buildings are exempt. How can a municipality sit down and do up a budget just on the equalization grant alone?

Now let me tell hon. Members that that is only one component. We have the equalization component, we have the local incentive component, we have the household component -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: - and we have the roads component. Now -

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

The hon. the President of Treasury Board on a point of order.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) about the Northeast Avalon amalgamation. We are debating the general principle of that amalgamation. I am wondering if the hon. member could explain the relevance of the debate at this point in time. We are supposed to be debating that particular principle and I wonder if he could explain how the Cormack Town Council fits into that particular scenario of amalgamation on the Northeast Avalon?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on the point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, to that point of order, it is not very much trouble for anyone to understand what my colleague for Humber Valley is saying as it relates to the debate for the Northeast Avalon. He is talking about taxation, how taxation is being down-loaded, that is what my colleague is talking about. The taxpayers throughout the Northeast Avalon, as well as the taxpayers of Newfoundland. The problem is that the Government House Leader and the Minister of Development are over there reading the paper, talking and laughing all day, sneering and sniggering at what the Member is saying, showing contempt as they have always done for the people of the Northeast Avalon. That is the problem. What my colleague is doing is very relevant to the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order, the Bill itself allows for some wide-ranging debate as it relates to amalgamation in the Province, and there is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you for the protection, Mr. Speaker. It is obvious that I have hit a nerve. But for the sake of relevance I will get off the Cormack one and I will include the Goulds! One of the communities that is involved in the Northeast Avalon amalgamation.

Now the City of St. John's has been told that no way - the Premier told me just last week - will it cost them anything. The Minister got up and told me - I questioned him on the elections - that the first election in any amalgamation process that the Government pays for it. No problem. I can go on in others but I want to get - I only have a short time left - in to the real ones that will bring me back to the relevance of the bill.

It is the same thing, I suppose, as in the community of Cormack, but I will just use the Goulds so I will not have to be interrupted by another point of order. Mr. Speaker, St. John's is just about to take in the Goulds. Now under the equalization component - just the first one - any tax exempt property in a municipality is tax exempt at the discretion of the minister. The minister gives that permission, but under the equalization component what happens for a municipality to get any money under it? What happens? Can any member opposite tell me? I venture not. I challenge any member to get up and tell me exactly how they arrive at the equalization component. I will sit down and let them tell me.

What they do, Mr. Speaker, is they take the total value of property in that particular municipality, then they take the number of households in that municipality and they divide it. That is okay, but how do they arrive at that total property value? They take everything. They take the residences, they take all the properties, in this case all the agricultural properties in the Goulds, and they divide it by the house - well they include that in the number - and because of the fact it has a high property value, that inflates the total of property in that area.

Now, when you come down further they take a provincial average. The department arrives at an average for the whole province. That average is roughly around $48,000, something around that figure, it might be a few dollars one way or the other. What they do then is take the average that you came from in the municipality itself, that is what they call a deficiency.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: What do they do then? They take the total value of the property tax collected in that municipality and multiply it by the percentage of the deficiency. If it is 16 per cent, they will multiply it by the provincial average, then they determine what that municipality will get. But because - the point I am getting at - but because this property is not taxable - the community cannot tax it, the minister exempted it - yet it is included in the grant. Now how can you justify that. How can any government or any department - and I am sure that the Minister responsible for Treasury Board knew this, he has been involved in municipal politics long enough.


MR. WOODFORD: The Member for Gander. He has been involved long enough to know the difference, I will guarantee you that, and he knows what I am talking about. The reason why I am using this analogy is St. John's figure that - now in the bill, it says in the bill, I forget what section it is, that it exempts the Goulds, like St. John's cannot go in the Goulds tomorrow and charge property tax the same as they can in St. John's. So that means the same thing will be applicable to St. John's once they take over the Goulds tomorrow as is applicable, we will say, out in Cormack. I just used those communities.

Out in the hon. Member for St. George's district you have it again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I got an example today from the member's district, the Member for Stephenville Crossing. What they have done in his district is worse still. I am half afraid of that. I will tell the hon. member what they have done in his community of Stephenville Crossing, they got the new senior citizens home in Stephenville Crossing included in the total residences. That senior citizens home alone is worth $2 million, and that inflates, that drives up the value in Stephenville Crossing. That is not fair.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Will you adjust it? I mean when I talked to officials - you see the trick with this -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I would say the member probably understands what is going on, the Member for (inaudible) like I said, but officials in the Department of Municipal Affairs, getting through to them is like getting through to the Kremlin a few years ago, and if you did get through to the Kremlin, get someone in the Kremlin to tell you where so and so is.

MR. TOBIN: Where is the minister? That is the question. Where is the minister?


MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I do not have to tell him either. He was involved along with other members on the Federation for years and knows how hard it was to try to get there. When we were in Government I said the same thing. They have their little kingdoms. They have there little kingdoms all over this - they had them when we were there, and they have them now. As an example of that today, the Member for St. Barbe knows exactly what I am talking about today, a prime example of it, of their little kingdoms here in this Province, of Crown corporations setting up their own little kingdoms and doing absolutely what they like without direction from Government. I brought up a prime example of that here today. Now, I am only talking about one component. I do not have time to get into the two middle components. But the last one, the road component, I may have time to touch on. I think it is unfair to cut them $58 and some odd cents last year on the road components and then this year to come in - now granted they said on a proportionate basis, but how do you know what the proportionate basis is when you have a pool of funds there. The community does not know what it is, I suppose Government knows what it is, they must, but you have a pool of funds there to draw from, and how does a municipality know when they sit down - how to do up their budget? What do they mean by proportionate?

Now, one would think that after doing up last year's budgets that it would be along the same lines as last year. I think it was $1900 and some odd dollars that was paid last year, $1941.65 on the road component. They lost approximately $58.00 and this year, right out of the blue as of yesterday and the day before, municipalities are suppose to have their budgets done up. I am after having all kinds of calls today. The reason why I am talking about that particular one is because of the senior citizens and how it just comes back to the inequity of the system. How can they go from $1941? They are going to lose $10,000. Your community is going to lose $10,000 next year on the road component alone. For your information they are going to lose $17,000 some odd under the equalization component. Stephenville Crossing is going to lose $17,260 under the equalization component.

That is what was sent out from the department. They only have 3 per cent to chose from. They gained on the local revenue incentive component by $12,000 but when you look at the total figure in Stephenville Crossing they are going to lose $31,000 this year, $31,000 again next year. The other problem with this, Mr. Speaker, is that last year, granted the communities appreciated it, they took their monies, like Stephenville Crossing, Deer Lake, and Gander, they took their monies like you would once the thing was announced not knowing this. If they had known it, but they did not have the figures. I have documented evidence that as of November 6 this year from municipalities in this Province - that the department did not know. I have documented evidence of that. I do not want to give the bureaucrats named involved. That is not right, but they did not know. I was told by a community today that they would not have accepted the capital funding, and it is the same thing with St. John's, St. Phillips and those other communities. We had a call the other day from Paradise about the total cost of their fire protection, it has gone up. I had a call from another area in the Province that took money last year because on the rating sheet they came out good last year, they got $500,000. This year, because of the environmental and health part of the rating sheets and the debt they incurred last year they cannot now take it, they are off the list, wiped right off the list. How can a municipality present and prepare a budget for the end of December not knowing what their grant is going to be? There is another example again, Stephenville Crossing. How can they do it? They are out there now with their heads spinning. For Stephenville Crossing, based on the figures I got, I worked it out just before I came into the House, they would want to increase their mil rate by 2.5 mils just to meet the bill that they got in the mail yesterday. That is not counting anything for inflation. That is not counting any repayment on capital debt last year, and not counting any repayment on capital debt from this year on. That is not a cent. Now I can understand where the administration is coming from. I can understand where the minister is coming from, and I can surely understand where the Premier is coming from.

AN HON. MEMBER: What mil rate (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Seven. Seven mils - 7.5 - that is on property.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Oh yes, I know. That is what I am getting to. That is what I am getting to now. The Premier said at a meeting in Deer Lake, where I was present, not too long ago, and the minister said it, that the average mil rate in Newfoundland is 9 mils. The Member for Fortune - Hermitage knows exactly what I am talking about. He has been around for a long time on councils and on the federation, and I would say that his communities are going to be hit as well. He said that the average mil rate in rural Newfoundland is 9 mils. How can any member opposite justify 9 mils in a community - I am not saying that they should not pay their way - but in a community that is paying its way, and has not got a debt?

If I am living on $1,000 a month, and this gentleman is living on $1,000 a month, and he cannot make it, but I am doing okay, why should I be penalized? Tell me why I should be penalized because he is blowing his and I am doing alright with it? I have all kinds of examples of that, and members opposite are soon going to have to wake up and look at their municipalities and tell, in no uncertain terms, the crucifixion that they are getting. If a municipality has debt, yes, I would say pay for your debt, but give them time. You do not come in at the eleventh hour and tell them, boys, I am sorry; next year, or next week you put it in your budget that you have to go up 3 mils. You cannot do it. Your constituents cannot stand it. Not only the smaller areas, but the Stephenvilles of the world, the Corner Brooks of the world, they cannot stand it. They are taxed to death. Not only you people.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) St. John's.

MR. WOODFORD: Never mind St. John's.

MR. NOEL: You never mind it. (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: You never mind St. John's. You come out in the rest of the areas of this Province, and you give them some of the Confederation Buildings and some of the other complexes you have here, and they will darn well be able to pay their taxes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: I am sick and tired of listening to that kind of analogy. You cannot tell the member for St. Barbe to go down and tell his councils that he wants to charge 10 mils. He cannot do it. He has a mine that just closed down. He has forestry being closed down. Where are they going to get-

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: If the hon. member wants to speak, when I sit down he can certainly get up and speak, Mr. Speaker.

You come out and rationalize with municipalities out there today, and drop something on them overnight when they are not even working.

MR. TOBIN: That is right. He knows what he is talking about. (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: They cannot work. I know the municipalities in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: I can speak for the municipalities on the West Coast of the Province. I know what I am talking about, and if anybody wants to get up and debate any component in this particular thing, I will debate it with them, figure by figure, clause by clause, and community by community.

MR. TOBIN: Now, put up or shut up!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: Now get up and debate, or else be quiet.

I got four calls; one community $200,000 two years, another community $100,000 in two years; a small community of 768 people, $75,000 in three years; and another one today was just told, after running a deficit, as of the end of August -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: If I could have a minute. As of the end of August this past year - the fiscal year is not up until the end of December - they were running a deficit of $38,000. They get a bill yesterday for an overpayment of $16,000; a cut in the roads component of $6,000; a cut in the local incentive grant of $2,700; where are they going to get it? Would hon. members opposite please tell me where they are going to get it. The municipalities do not know. I say, and I ask hon. members opposite, and there are a lot of responsible people over there - despite what is said sometimes, there are a lot of responsible people on the other side - to sit down with their colleagues, and for the sake of communities in this Province and their own constituents, to go over this particular system and see and look where the inequities are. They are there, we need not hide our heads in the sand, it is not politics, I am not up here today talking about politics, I am up here talking about facts.

Not once did I mention politics today, I am talking about facts and the fact that you and I were elected to represent our people. We were elected to do the best job we can for our people and we have to answer to the same people that those mayors and councillors have to answer to, we should help them. They have no one else to turn to. They are not getting paid, we are getting paid. What do they tell the people who walk into the council's office? I was there, Mr. Speaker, for ten years. I was there telling them when they walked through the door: I cannot help it. I am here now as an MHA, today: I cannot help it.

If I were on that side of the House I might not be able to fix everything, but surely, God, from my experience in municipal life and my experience with my constituents, I would certainly take a second look and all I ask members opposite is to do just that. Take a second look. Go through the components little by little, bit by bit and try to put some fairness into some of those - wherever the minister is getting it, it is going to help those municipalities.

Tell me where, tell me the numbers when you have a municipality gone from 97 per cent on the equalization's component down to 3 per cent, 3 per cent overnight, the same community I am talking about, the hon. Member for Stephenville Crossing, 97 per cent last year down to 3 per cent now under the equalization, that is not fair. That is not fair, 97 per cent down to 3 per cent, that is genocide!

You talk about fairness and balance - no way, Mr. Speaker. I ask hon. members opposite to please talk to the minister and talk to the Premier and see, just see for one last time if they can put a little bit of sanity back into the new municipal operating grant. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I hesitated, I am amazed that somebody on the other side did not take the time to get up and talk about some of the points raised by the Member for Humber Valley. He made some extremely valuable points, ones which members, especially those representing rural areas should heed and undoubtedly discuss with their colleagues. I am just wondering, in light of the facts and figures that have been raised in this debate, if the Government House Leader is not perhaps considering taking the bill off the Order Paper. We certainly could use time to go back over the bill to make sure that it is a little more in tune with the needs of the Province today.

One of the problems we are facing, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the efforts by the Government, who amalgamate or centralize, have placed a very heavy financial burden on the residents of many communities throughout the Province. While I was waiting here, I was looking at some information that I had on my desk for some time, that was a summary of the Economic Review for the first half of 1991 in comparison to the first half of 1990, which as we know was no great shakes either.

But the first half of this year alone, CPI in the St. John's area 7.4 per cent compared to a national rate of 6.3. Wages and salaries - now this is provincially - declined 5 per cent the first half of this year; UI benefits increased, up by 3.4 per cent. More and more people are living on fixed income: Retail trade, down by 2.5 per cent. Transportation, passenger traffic, fewer people coming into the Province: CN Roadcruisers down by just about 10 per cent; Commercial vehicles on Marine Atlantic, down by 11.5 per cent; Container traffic down by 15.5 per cent. Freight - Do you know why freight is down? Because people don't have the money to purchase. Purchasing power has been eroded considerably.

The average monthly employment increased 13 per cent, due mainly in the construction area, but - and this was mainly in the non-residential sector, due to Hibernia, undoubtedly - but housing starts, down by 18.8 per cent, 19 per cent. Value of shipments in manufacturing, manufactured goods being shipped out, down by 6.3 per cent, and we can go on, Fish landings, down by 37.8 per cent -something that affects most of Newfoundland, and it does affect St. John's, despite what the Member for Pleasantville might think. Fish landings have a tremendous effect on St. John's - the value of fish landed, down by 40 per cent over the first half of last year.

There are more and more figures like this. What does it point out? Forget about who is in power and all of that. It points out that people, generally speaking, whether they are in St. John's or St. Mary's, in Port aux Basques or Port au Port or St. Anthony, or wherever, have fewer dollars this year than they had last year. We, as people who are supposed to be decision-makers, should be trying to make rules and regulations which would accommodate the people who send us here. But, instead, we see a bill like this one, Bill 50, that is really making sure, along with the other rules and regulations being made in the Department concerned, that the people continue to pay more and more.

For what? You might say, for better services. Question mark, question mark, question mark. Are we paying more for better services? I have heard so much this past year about all the money that is being put around so that we would have a better way of life that it almost sickens me. Federally and provincially, all we can hear is: 'Oh, yes, we are putting all these new programs in place, so that the people will be better off.' We see programs like Community Futures and ACOA being set up, and we hear about the millions of dollars that are being spent. Who is getting the dollars? Certainly not the people who should be getting them, the people down at the community level, for whom the money is destined, or is supposed to be destined. It is being ripped off somewhere through the system.

Then we talk about amalgamation. We gave you a better way, a better standard, of life. It has not improved our standard of life. What it has done is it has taken away the few dollars we had so that it makes our life at the local level worse than ever before.

Some of the things that the Department of Municipal Affairs is trying to do are certainly not the types of things that the consumer, the voter, out there wants.

Let's look at sharing. Let me say right from the very beginning that I am not against amalgamation, I am not against sharing. We always promoted sharing and coming together as long as it made sense and as long as it improved the life or the lot of the people involved. Sharing has taken place. We hear and see examples of communities which have for years gotten together and shared. We hear the minister, when he stands up to speak, knowing very little about the infrastructure in the Province, talking about all these communities out there - we have too many - and about the duplication and triplication of costs.

Let me ask the minister: if he is going to talk about bringing communities together, does he think that is going to eliminate all the cost of servicing the community? If you have three or four communities, four or five or even two or three miles apart, and instead of having four councils you are going to have one, where is the real saving coming in? Are you going to be able to say now, 'We are only going to put in one sewer system in one community and they can all go to that community to use the facilities?' It doesn't make much sense.

The Minister of Social Services represents an area that, I suppose, if you are looking at an area that can be amalgamated, is probably a prime example of what can be done. It is basically all the one town, from Dunville through to Freshwater, Jerseyside, Placentia, Point Verde, all in the one lump, all practically connected to each other, an ideal area. But if they amalgamate and they have one council, you still have to worry about putting water and sewer through all the communities, you still have street paving, you still have streetlighting, and you still have garbage collections.

Many of these communities now - I am not talking about the ones in the Placentia area necessarily - that are in such close proximity end up getting together to call for one tender in garbage collection. Many of them have one fire fighting facility. In my own area, St. Mary's, the heart of St. Mary's Bay, there is one major fire fighting facility in Riverhead and it covers St. Mary's, Gaskiers, and Mall Bay on the other end, a regional fire training center in the middle that covers the whole bay. But there are certain services you cannot get rid of. You still have to put the infrastructure in place. So, where is all the great saving?

Then, when we get too big what do we lose? Perhaps at the local level you lose some local control. Where you have four or five communities amalgamating with one council, quite often you end up getting a fair amount of bickering in the event that a small amount of money is approved. Where does it go? Well, we are only talking about one community, so it goes into the community. But still you have the individual loyalties.

We see it even in Conception Bay South to this very day, a big racket we had this spring when they tried to play games with the money Government gave them. Government tried to play games, I guess, with the money that was allocated to the town, is a better way of saying it.

Amalgamation does not always solve our problems. Sharing, yes, certainly does. Cutting out duplication where duplication can be avoided, certainly saves money and leads to a much more efficient service. Fire halls, dumps - most areas out around will show you where we have one waste disposal facility for several communities. You do not see dumps in every community, you have area waste disposal facilities.

We have recreation centers. Most areas, when it comes to stadiums - for instance, the Southern Shore, the whole area is served by one stadium, St. Mary's Bay is served by one stadium, Placentia area is served by one stadium, and you can go on and on and on. That is sensible. You cannot afford such facilities in every little community. So they come together and they form the regional boards and they share. Absolutely nothing wrong with it! But, on top of that, they have their own little community groups taking care of things within the community, and it works well. And these people are all volunteers, so there is no extra cost.

Then we come to the larger areas, and we can use St. John's and Mount Pearl as an example, two cities rubbing shoulders together. Is there a difference between Mount Pearl and St. John's? I would say, yes, there is a major difference. Sometimes you can get -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I hate to interrupt the hon. member, but it is time to announce the question for the Late Show and early motion for adjournment. We have one question this afternoon, and the question is: 'I am not satisfied with the answer by the Minister of Fisheries to my question regarding the federal Minister of Fisheries proposals for licensing and allocation systems within the Altantic Fisheries.' That is from the hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Sometimes it depends on the writing of the educator.

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

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

We were comparing St. John's and Mount Pearl. Sometimes we can get too big, sometimes we lose sight even of what is within our own domain. Sometimes when we get that way we lose that friendly family touch, we lose the feeling of belonging, being part of.

I have had the opportunity over the last x number of years to be involved in a fair amount of activities, both in St. John's and Mount Pearl. There is a difference. The difference is that in Mount Pearl, because it is a new community that has grown together over the last twenty to twenty-five years, you find that people feel that this is our community, our facilities are our facilities. We built them, we run them, we share them, and there is the feeling of belonging and caring and efficiency. I am not sure whether the Summer Games Park, whether the play fields and so on, will be able to be handled the same if they are being handled from City Hall as they are being handled by the local City Hall in Mount Pearl, if the cities ever amalgamate. I think we lose a tremendous amount when we become too big. It is disgusting to see that it is the intention of this Government to snuff out a centre like Mount Pearl.

We have other examples of communities spread throughout the Province where amalgamation is being encouraged from within, a reverse of what we see here in the Northeast Avalon. There are communities that feel, yes we can get together, we should get together, it makes sense to come together. There is nothing wrong with that. If communities can come together, can amalgamate, generally under one governing body, well, then - Grand Falls and Windsor, typical examples of where it makes sense, where it did make sense, and where it has been productive for both those towns to come together. Because they wanted it, it was not forced upon them. Here, this is a bill which forces amalgamation on parts of the Northeast Avalon where they certainly do not want to be amalgamated.

What it also does is burden several of these people with a lot of extra taxes. The area perhaps that is going to be affected most financially is the area of the Goulds. Maybe the Member for Pleasantville should drive into the Goulds every now and then and talk to some of the people in there. Anybody who is familiar with the Goulds, back just a few years ago, ten, fifteen years ago, the Goulds was basically a spread out farming community. Before the housing projects started in around the back line, those areas, I personally knew nearly everybody in the Goulds, even though I did not live in the area. I spent a lot of time there.

You had your houses spread out over large tracts of land and most people had their own farms. A lot of these people today - despite the fact that farming is not as important I guess, generally speaking, as it was to most of them, and despite the fact that a lot of the land now has been covered with houses and new developments - a lot of the older people still have fairly large tracts of land. A lot of these people are now on fixed income, pensioners, they are not rich people. They scraped a living from the land. They are now retired, living in their comfortable old farmhouse, or old house. But they always had a fair amount of land.

Now, their big concern is, How much are we going to have to pay in taxes? The land is valuable if they sell it, but who wants to sell land? People who are used to living in rural Newfoundland - and the Goulds was rural Newfoundland up until a short while ago - are used to having a fair amount of room. And don't they deserve it? But now they must pay through the teeth for it. Is the Goulds going to be serviced the same way as downtown St. John's?

AN HON. MEMBER: In twenty years time, probably.

MR. HEARN: Twenty years time, but yet they are going to be expected pay today for the services that they don't have.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: The Member for Pleasantville, again, when he was speaking, talked about how everyone should pay the same. Everyone should pay the same provided, number one, they get the same services, and provided they are in the same financial position where they can afford to pay the same. That is not to say that there are not poor people in St. John's. Yes, there are a lot of them. There are a lot of people in St. John's who can't afford to pay the taxes they have to pay, but the services are there whether they can afford them or not.

A lot of people in rural Newfoundland can't even afford to pay the taxes they have to pay, despite the fact that they are much less, but they have very few services for which to pay - very, very, few services - and, consequently, as services improve, undoubtedly they will have to pay a bit more. But the thing we are losing sight of is that in many small communities, and in many large communities, people can have the services that they require, and have them at a lot less rate than is presently being paid in other areas because of efficiency, because of the way they went about getting the services, because of the way they handled the services, because of their employment in the area, perhaps, their collections and everything else, and the lesser amount they pay on bureaucracy.

Some smaller communities throughout the Province are hit with high water rates. Along with their poll tax or the property tax they now pay, some of them are hit with substantial water rates. Other communities have water supplies and don't pay a cent because over the years they used federal funding, different programs, and they put in their complete water system without having to borrow one cent from the Government. It didn't cost the people in the community one copper to have their complete water system installed. In many areas it did not cost them a cent to have their fire hall put in place - the building, itself. In many areas it didn't cost them a cent to put their play facilities in place, because, through good organization locally, and by proper use of the grant funding that was available from both governments through recreation provincially, for example, and the different make-work programs federally, many small communities put their complete infrastructure in place without having to borrow a copper. And you ask them why is it they are only paying $100 a year for taxes. Because the only services they probably have are the street lighting and the garbage collection. Everything else that was put in place was put there through some kind of program whereby it was no cost at all to the municipality, there is no debt on the municipality books, and they can collect enough each year to pay their ongoing bills, their current account costs, and that is all that matters. We think there is something wrong with that. People should be made pay, you know, people across the Province should pay for their services. They are paying for the services, but some of them are a lot smarter than others, and they put their services in place without any great cost to them. So should they be punished because somebody else is inefficient, or they do not know how to take proper advantage of what is offered them by Government, or because they are top-heavy with bureaucracies that, in themselves, are costly? Should smaller communities be forced to pay because of that? I say no. You pay for the services you can get, and if your managers are good managers, your elected people are efficient, then your cost will be cut down. So why should we say let's bring us all into the one fold now, and we will all pay the same because we should? Why should somebody else pay because somebody on the other hand is not. Now I know people can say the reverse is true, that the people of St. John's are paying through the years because of the inefficiencies in rural Newfoundland - 'Government is paying for everything out there, and we have to pay for everything in here.' Not so. Not so at all. People in St. John's undoubtedly pay for the services they get, and they get a fair amount of help from Government, too, in their road paving, and in their municipal infrastructure in relation to recreation, and what have you, and the major facilities that they have. What about the Aquarena? What about the Canada Games Park? Who put them there and who paid for them? It wasn't the residents of St. John's. And that might be right, because they are supposed to serve the whole area. Unfortunately, now, they are going to be an albatross around the necks of the people of St. John's and the area.

But what we have to remember here in the capital city is that a lot of the dollars that come in here, come from outside the city. If people outside get some extra Government assistance, then, on the other hand, a lot of the tax dollars that are spent, are spent here in the city by people from all around the area, as they are spent in other growth centres in the Province, by people in the outlying areas who come in here to spend their money. That generates business. Not only do we have the malls and the major restaurants and everything else in St. John's, we have all the government buildings around. All of these generate revenues for the City Council. Not many of these dollars are going to the Ship Harbours or the Ship Coves of this Province, they are coming to St. John's.

So don't look upon the people in the outports as if they are getting the better part of this deal. They are paying for what they are getting, and they are contributing. They are also contributing to the economy of the major centres in the Province. So, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about amalgamation there are many angles we have to look at, and certainly, it appears that the Government has not listened at all to the people.

I was very interested today, in the Premier's remarks, when he was addressing the problems with the fishery. He complained about the Feds releasing their decision, and he said, 'We wanted to talk to them before they made any decision, they should have listened to us.' I ask, to whom did the Premier or Government listen before they made decisions, including the decision on amalgamation? The answer is, they didn't listen to anybody. They didn't even listen to their own experts who went out and did the studies and brought in reports. They said, Forget it, we will do whatever we want to do ourselves. That is not the way it is supposed to work, and it is not the way to have a successful resolution to our problems.

So we are faced with a major problem. We are faced with a bill that will have a disastrous effect on the fire fighting facility in Mount Pearl. The question we might ask is, Why shouldn't Mount Pearl have its own fire fighting facility? Wouldn't it be just as efficient as the way it is going to be now? Undoubtedly, the answer would be yes, perhaps more efficient. But it is not supposed to be that way. It doesn't matter what way it is supposed to be, which is the best way? - or, I guess, in the case of where we are talking about two, in case somebody wants to check my grammar - which is the better way? I don't know whether anybody over there can answer that truthfully, unless they look at it a lot more closely than they have looked at it all.

The main reason we have concern with this bill, and we ask Government at least to look at not doing anything with it for a minimum of six months, to get a chance to really look at it in an in-depth manner, is because of one of the last clauses, 10 (3), where the present Government is going to look at taking away from all municipalities every bit of power they ever had. People might say, Don't be so foolish! It is like talking about the University Act taking away the Marine Institute, which it does.

Clause 10 (3) says: "In addition to establishing and altering the boundaries of the cities and towns under subsection (2), the Lieutenant-Governor in Council" - in other words, Cabinet - "may, in the order referred to in that subsection" - the Government now, if this bill is passed, may, in 10 (3) (a), "amalgamate a town with a town or city and annex areas to a city or town."

In other words, the Southlands grab can be done over and over. They can do whatever they want to do. If they want to amalgamate St. Bride's and Branch, they can go ahead and do it, and boy, I wish you luck. In fact, I challenge you to try. If they want to amalgamate Ferryland, Calvert, and Cape Broyle, they can do it. They can do whatever they want to do. They can amalgamate a town with a town or city, and annex areas to a city or town. They can establish an area as a town. They can go out and say, 'You are going to be a town.' And they can disestablish a town. They can go to Wedgewood Park and say, 'So long' - no more Wedgewood Park. They can go to Mount Pearl and they can say, 'So long' - no more Mount Pearl. They can go to Gander, I guess, and say 'So long' - no more Gander. They have the power to do whatever they want to do. That is a tremendous amount of power to place in the hands of fifteen or sixteen people, many of whom have no idea at all about the internal workings of the communities or towns involved. That is an extremely dangerous position in which to put anybody, where they can just go out on a whim and wipe out or create towns or cities or communities. No government should have that power in its own hands. No government should have that power.

Mr. Speaker, there is no way that this bill should pass, and looking at the faces of some of the hon. members over there who are from areas that will be eventually affected by this, and all members will be affected, if not in a municipal sense, certainly in a political sense, the sensible thing to do would be to take the bill off the Order Paper altogether. The reasonable thing to do now, in the interim, would be to go along with the six-month hoist, just forget about pushing through the bill, and let us see if we can come up with a bill that will take care of the amalgamation process, that will encourage amalgamation, that will even promote amalgamation where it should be encouraged and promoted, and where the people involved in the different areas are interested in amalgamating.

Unfortunately, we have a one-track mind in a one-track Premier who runs a one-track Government, because they are afraid - as we saw the Minister of Fisheries today: the Premier said, Don't answer it. The minister got up, turned red, and refused to answer a question. If you are going to let yourselves be dragged around by the nose, we will never do what is right for the people, and that is why we were sent here.

Did you say my time is up, Mr. Speaker? It seems as if my time is up. But hopefully, some of the remarks made today, and in the past, will encourage members to think twice, and when we vote on the amendment, we will vote to put this aside for six months so that we can bring in some sane and proper legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

AN HON. MEMBER: Question.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. HEARN: Try it next month.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I know it is confusing.

MR. SPEAKER: I apologize. I didn't know if the hon. member was (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I understand why there was some confusion, with a little bit of negotiation and discussion going on, Mr. Speaker, between myself and the Government House Leader, trying to sort out where we are, where we are going, and when.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cutting a deal, I suppose.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, we don't cut any deals; we just talk, no deals. You have to be careful with the deals, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, to rise today to speak in this very important debate, and to speak particularly to the amendment put forward by my colleague from Burin - Placentia West, calling for a six-month hoist on this very controversial Bill 50, dealing with the amalgamation process or procedure in the Northeast Avalon.

I want to begin, Mr. Speaker, by saying that if ever there has been something that has been very poorly managed, and very poorly handled from day one, it has been this whole issue of amalgamation throughout the Province. Now, it has really come to the boiling point in the Northeast Avalon, but there were a number of other potential boiling points back when the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs first talked about amalgamation and first indicated which other community groups throughout the Province might be amalgamated, and we saw different things happen throughout the Province.

We saw communities come together as they have never come before to oppose the amalgamation plans put forward by the minister. Of course, here in the Northeast Avalon region, it has been a very contentious, very controversial issue that still continues today, and for very good reason I say, Mr. Speaker. There is no doubt that this bill has created much controversy amongst the people of the Northeast Avalon and, indeed, it doesn't stop there, because when I go to functions in my own district of Grand Bank - The weekend before last I attended a fireman's ball in Fortune, and a number of people there approached me on this amalgamation issue, this Bill 50.

They were wondering and were concerned about what was happening to the Goulds, Wedgewood Park, Mount Pearl and other towns. And the reason, I guess, in Fortune it was topical is because Fortune, as well, initially, was targeted to be amalgamated with the Town of Grand Bank, so, I suppose, in their minds it is still relevant, it is still a concern. Because the Town of Fortune, itself, they were trying to convince them of all the great benefits there would be, if they were amalgamated with the Town of Grand Bank, which, of course, none of them bought, none of them believed, and which they very adamantly opposed.

There are other groupings around the Province where we have seen similar situations, as well.

But I guess, Mr. Speaker, my greatest concern with Bill 50, is what it is really doing to democracy and to the right of people to choose, and that has been said, I suppose, a hundred times already on this issue in the Legislature, but I think it is worth repeating. I mean, people no longer have the right to choose. They no longer have the right to choose in the Goulds, Wedgewood Park particularly, which was 90-odd per cent against amalgamation with the City of St. John's, Mount Pearl, very strongly opposed, and Paradise, I understand, has some very real concerns.

But when it really struck home to me - I mean, we have been following this thing for months - but when it really struck home to me was when I read last Saturday's "Evening Telegram", "The Weekend", and in that paper there were five or six stories, all related to Bill 50, every one of them. There was a headline that two communities' taxes were going to double, Wedgewood Park and the Goulds. There was an article there by the Mayor of Paradise, who had some very grave concerns about the fire fighting costs and other costs that would be thrown upon her taxpayers in her town. There was another article from the Deputy Mayor of St. John's, where he was sort of questioning what it is really now going to cost the taxpayers of the City of St. John's. There were five or six stories, all on the one issue, that of Bill 50.

There seems, Mr. Speaker, to be so much uncertainty and so many unanswered questions by the people who are going to be affected, that that is why I think my colleague's amendment, calling for a six-month hoist is so reasonable. I really think it is reasonable. I mean, if you can provide someone with the answers to his questions and his fears are alleviated, then you win his support if you do that, but if you try to keep him in the dark and tell him, 'What we are suggesting and putting on you is best for you,' then you know what happens, you get a backlash. I mean, the only group of people in the Province, Mr. Speaker, that I know, who do not backlash when being told something or being dictated to, is the group opposite. That is the only group I know in the Province where you cannot get a backlash if you order them around, tell them to sit down, don't think for yourselves, do what I tell you, stand up but don't say anything. The only group in the Province that that happens to and we don't get a whimper or a whisper is the group opposite.

Anytime you do that with anybody else, organizations, associations, municipalities, there is bound to be a backlash. 'I know what is best for you' - and that is what we are seeing happening here. 'I know what is best for you. It is best for you because I think it is best for you.' That is what we are seeing happening here in Bill 50, and, of course, any time we do that, especially with people who have been so used to democracy, so use to being able to choose for themselves, then you are asking for trouble. I say to members opposite, particularly the ministers who are responsible for this piece of legislation, that we were all sent here by way of a democratic process. The people in our areas of the Province went to the ballot boxes, marked x's wherever they felt like, and sent us all here. We are here because of democracy, and I think what we are doing here with this Bill 50 - more over there than it is over here I say, and I know that the Minister of Forestry waited - how many years did he wait to be so delighted?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I would say he waited a long time. But it is like they say, I say to the minister, what goes around, comes around.

AN HON. MEMBER: He deserved it.

MR. MATTHEWS: What goes around, comes around. He deserves to be in Government. I am glad that he is finally in Government. I am glad that he is finally a minister. I was fearful, Mr. Speaker, for the longest time that he would never get there. He deserves to be there. He has paid his price.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I hate to interrupt the hon. Member, but according to our Standing Order 31(h), at this time normally we call a motion for adjournment called the Late Show, but it is the Chair's understanding that there is an agreement between both House Leaders that the motion for adjournment will be called at 4:50.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I lost my train of thought there. I was saying how pleased I am that the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: You were talking about the death of democracy.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, I was.

MR. FLIGHT: I paid the price.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, the Member for Windsor - Buchans, the Minister of Forestry, you did pay the price. And I was worried he was never going to sit in the Government benches. If there is ever a man -

AN HON. MEMBER: You were surprised I was listening weren't you.

MR. MATTHEWS: I am surprised you can hear two conversations at once because that is why I got thrown off because I was trying to listen to the Speaker, and someone behind me. But then, of course, once he got there we were all worried. Once he made it to Government we were worried for the Minister of Forestry because the Premier lost his seat, and he said: oh no, it is not going to happen again. He could not ask him twice. Of course, he did not, and we are delighted to see him over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was the conflict of interest thing you almost got (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, that is right. So we are delighted.

AN HON. MEMBER: He offered though.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, he offered. I know he offered, but I am delighted that he is there. And why I say that, Mr. Speaker, is the real taste of democracy, I think, is not only being sent here by the electorate of your districts of the Province, but that you get a chance to serve on both sides. You get a chance to serve on both sides because I believe that if I ever get back in Government again that I am going to be a better Government member for it. I really believe that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No. Having said that - no, I cannot accept that from the Minister of Health. That is not what has made him so good. No, no, no. Mr. Speaker, the thing was with the Minister of Health that he could not handle it when he got in Government. He could not handle it, and he still cannot handle it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, not that long, I say to the Member for St. John's East. You do not have to be over here that long before you get to look at the global picture. You will appreciate, you will -

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I would say to the Member for St. John's East now that I am about ready to move back again. Just about ready now. I would say anther few months and I could be a better Government member because I would be able to look at things from - and I say that quite sincerely, by the way.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, well the Minister of Health - we are into amalgamation, I suppose, and somewhat of an amalgamation here, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Health and I have a deal, you see. When they won the Government, he went over to my apartment, and I moved down, so now when we take over he is going to move down and I am going to move up. So we will be at this, I told him earlier today, for at least three or four more terms we are going to move back and forth, and then I am sure we will both be ready to retire.

MR. TOBIN: What is in the apartment that makes you change?

MR. MATTHEWS: Oh, it is just that he has the minister's apartment, you see.

MR. TOBIN: I thought there was some other reason.

MR. MATTHEWS: There is a notice right on the door. Right on the door is 'Ministers Apartment'. As a matter of fact, with the indulgence of members, there was a lady out collecting earlier this week for some charity or other, and she rang the minister's doorbell. He answered the door and gave the donation, and she went to make out the receipt and said: who do I put on the receipt - and he said 'Chris Decker'. He was really taken aback that she did not recognize him, so, of course, she came over and rang my doorbell, and she said: goodnight, Mr. Matthews, how come you moved out of that other apartment?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: I thought you were still up in that other apartment, Mr. Matthews. I said, no, Mr. Decker is up there now.


MR. DECKER: I gave her $20.00.

MR. MATTHEWS: I know what you gave. I saw the receipt. I made sure I gave her $10.00. I said, well, how much did he give? We are always trying to outdo them, even to the point of bankruptcy. Getting back to the very serious bill, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. MATTHEWS: No, she got $5.00, not $20.00. See how quickly the Minister of Social Services inflates things. He got a $5.00 donation up to $20.00.

MR. TOBIN: No, he said he gave her $20.00. Bill Hogan said she must have been a saint to get $20.00 of him.

MR. MATTHEWS: Is it right that you gave her $20.00? No, you gave her $5.00.

MR. TOBIN: He gave her $1.00, that's what he did.

MR. MATTHEWS: We want to get back to this very serious legislation because what we see here is the erosion of democracy throughout the Province but specifically in the Northeast Avalon region. I think it would be very reasonable really. I do not think we are asking too much in the amendment moved by the Member for Burin - Placentia West to ask Government to put on hold this piece of legislation for six months as supported by the Federation of Mayors and Municipalities. They have very real concerns about this piece of legislation. I think there are a number of members and a number of ministers opposite who have some very, very real concerns about this piece of legislation. Really what the Government is doing here - and whether they have thought this thing through enough, what the ramifications are going to be for the taxpayers of the City of St. John's, what it is going to do to Wedgewood Park, to the Goulds, to Paradise. Of course we have tried to get answers to that.

If we were given the answers to the questions we asked, given answers to the questions the people are asking, then we would all feel more comfortable with this. When you do not get an answer how can you feel comfortable with anything? That is the problem we have with this piece of legislation. The people of St. John's do not know what is going to happen to their tax rates. I think it is fair to say that their tax rates will increase significantly. In the other municipalities there is no question. The only question is how much will they increase? We have seen statements from two municipalities that say their tax rates will double. We have seen real concerns expressed by the Mayor of Paradise about the fire fighting effort and the cost. If she is anywhere close to accurate on what they are saying about that particular cost - the member shakes his head, no.

MR. TOBIN: How would he know?

MR. MATTHEWS: Perhaps he knows.

MR. R. AYLWARD: She is a bit low on it.

MR. MATTHEWS: Obviously, there is going to be a significant increase in the cost.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is concern.

MR. MATTHEWS: Exactly, and the member agrees with that. The Mayor is quite right in expressing her concerns publicly on that. We know Mount Pearl's concerns with the Southlands particularly and with their fire department issue. To see again what is happening in Bill 50 where you are taking away the right of a city. Every other city has the right to have a fire department and in this act you are taking that away. I think that is very regressive. I really think it is very regressive but where is it going to stop. It will not stop with Mount Pearl, Mr. Speaker. It will not stop with Mount Pearl and that is another thing we have to remember here. It will not stop there. When you go to Part 7 of the bill on Page 22 where they talk about the resolution and where they talk about: in addition to establishing and altering the boundaries of the cities and towns under Subsection (2) the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may, in the order referred to in that subsection, amalgamate a town with a town or city and annex areas to a city or town; establish an area as a town. And the most alarming one of all, Mr. Speaker, as I see it is (c) which is 'disestablish a town, and the boundaries of those cities and towns shall be delimited in the order.' Now, to me that is giving yourself a little too much power. It is one thing to try and do on the Northeast Avalon what the Government wants to do, but when you write this in this Bill 50 that is going to be there with the Cabinet, to give themselves that power, then I think that is just going a little bit too far. I mean it is one thing to feel as strongly as the Government feels about what should be in Mount Pearl, one thing for the Government to feel as strongly as they feel about what should be in Wedgewood Park or the Goulds or Paradise or wherever else, but to take it to this limit, Mr. Speaker, I mean I think it is very extreme. It is very, very extreme. But then, I am not surprised, when I look at what other things this Government has done since it came to office in this Province. It is very, very disturbing and the other thing that is disturbing, Mr. Speaker, and I think word is eventually seeping out, that there are a lot of other municipalities in this Province that today do not realize what is incorporated in this Bill 50.

More and more of them, on a daily basis, are becoming aware and as they become aware, they are becoming more and more concerned, and once they all know and realize the implications of Bill 50, then I think we are going to see a tremendous backlash and I expect we are going to see an uprising amongst the municipalities out and about the Province, because tomorrow it may be them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Incite them (inaudible) incite a riot.

MR. MATTHEWS: No I am not going to incite a riot, I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. I am not going to ask all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to rally behind me in opposing this, when a lot of them do not know what they will be rallying behind me to oppose, like the Minister of Fisheries. Rally behind me opposing this, but what are they opposing? They do not know. I am not going to do that -

MR. TOBIN: How can people pay taxes in small rural communities in the Northeast Avalon where the fisheries (inaudible) and all that kind of stuff as well (inaudible) fisheries?

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, there have been some interesting things said here. I have listened before on this debate on amalgamation, when we did the resolution, before, about taxation and tax levels and I refer specifically to the Member for Pleasantville, who had a lot to say about this, and about which he had some very strong feelings. He has not spoken yet, I believe on this -

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, he did.

MR. MATTHEWS: Did he? I missed him.

MR. R. AYLWARD: On the hoist, he did.

MR. MATTHEWS: On the hoist? I missed him, I must read what he said.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Sorry? What is devastating?

MR. R. AYLWARD: He is against all of this he says.

MR. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, Mr. Speaker, talks about the poll - all I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture is, I am glad, Mr. Speaker, that in the last two and a half years he has found something in which to find comfort. He has found something in which to find a bit of comfort.

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, Jack takes more comfort in it, because let me say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, that the Member for St. John's East, certainly finds more comfort in it because he has gone up and the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture and his group have gone down fifty points in about fourteen months.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Fifty points, from eighty-two to thirty-three, Mr. Speaker. We all remember the post-Meech - Wells at 82. Wells, today, he was thirty-three a couple of days ago and after I say, the scathing attack by the President of the fishermen's union, he has dipped below thirty, I would say. He has gone below thirty and I would say that is what made the Premier so feisty today. If ever someone struck a nerve with the Premier it must have been Richard Cashin, because, have you ever seen him as he was today? All that happened here was someone mentioned the word today, Mr. Speaker, in Question Period, someone said Richard, you could hardly hear it, and the Premier just about stuck on the ceiling.

AN HON. MEMBER: The "R" word.

MR. MATTHEWS: The "R" word. There are two: there is recession and there is Richard, but he almost stuck on the ceiling. And I can say, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you right now standing here, that before it is over, within another twelve months, he will be stuck on the ceiling because I am sure, Mr. Cashin is not finished with him yet. I feel most assured -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member - I do not think we are debating the bill now and I realize the hon. member was detracted and I would advise all hon. members, please, to refrain from trivializing this rather important debate on Bill 50.

The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I take great honour in being the first one called to order in this debate. I take great honour in that. I think I have at least accomplished something. No other member has been called to order in the week that we have been debating this - oh was the Member for Humber Valley?



MR. TOBIN: He was rudely interrupted.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, I was. With all those interruptions, Mr. Speaker, it is hard.

MR. TOBIN: The Canada Games Park and all the liabilities -

MR. MATTHEWS: The Canada Games Park. There is one thing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) more.

MR. MATTHEWS: More what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) I would not doubt that. There is one thing that has taken a long time to seep out of this bill and this debate and that is, it is very, very difficult to get the people of St. John's really, really concerned about what impact this bill will have on them.

MR. TOBIN: Downloading.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, they are downloading from Government onto the City of St. John's, but it is slowly happening, I say to members opposite. It is slowly happening, the additional cost that is going to have to be taken up by the taxpayers of St. John's.

MR. TOBIN: It is spelled out there, all the liabilities.

MR. MATTHEWS: The Canada Games Park Commission Act, title to all the property and assets of the Canada Games Park; St. John's obligations and liabilities and so on of the commission. St. John's is going to take in all of that.

MR. TOBIN: St. John's will assume all the liabilities of the Canada Games Park.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, and more than that. There is going to be more than that, because those areas that are going to be amalgamated with the City of St. John's are going to want their infrastructure brought up to the level of the rest. Recreation, streets, water and sewer - whatever there is in infrastructure - they are going to want the same level of service, I say to the Member for Pleasantville.

MR. TOBIN: Why shouldn't they, if they are part of it?

MR. MATTHEWS: Exactly, but I say to the Member for Pleasantville that I do not think that is going to be able to be accomplished without a great cost to the current taxpayers of St. John's. I think that is the real crunch.

MR. TOBIN: He agrees. He agrees with that.

MR. MATTHEWS: And I do not think the people of St. John's realize that yet because, with all due respect, the City of St. John's initially thought this was a great thing - the council - the council thought that this was a great thing. Give us all of this wonderful stuff and we are going to be much better off. Initially, I guess, perhaps most of us would think the same, but once they start to look into the bill, once they start to do a financial analysis as best they can without any answers from Government - sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: It is worse as of yesterday. But once they look at that then I detect, like with the Deputy Mayor's statements last weekend, they are getting more and more concerned about Bill 50. They are getting more and more concerned about this Government's plan, the downloading, and I would say, give us another few weeks and I would not be surprised at all if the City of St. John's - you are going to see a complete reversal on the part of the City Council - that they are not going to want this.

They did not see the bill, Mr. Speaker, until my colleague from Kilbride took it down to them the Monday before last, I believe, at a Council meeting, and gave it to them and said: have you had a look at the bill yet? The Minister of Municipal Affairs did not even have the courtesy to provide the City of St. John's with a copy of the bill so they could look at it.

MR. TOBIN: The Federation of Municipalities did not get a copy. (Inaudible) out to them last weekend.

MR. MATTHEWS: The Federation of Municipalities did not see it. So how can you expect people to support-

AN HON. MEMBER: St. John's had it before (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, maybe they did, but all I am saying is that the Member for Kilbride took it to the City Chambers the Monday before last, and that is the first time they saw the bill. Yet they were talking basically positive, based upon what they were told was going to be incorporated in the bill. But once they get the bill now and they start to look through it, and when they hear the Government being so vague, whether they are going to provide any kind of financial assistance, transition grants or whatever, to take care of this additional cost they are going to incur, then they are starting to get cold feet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Cold feet. Exactly. That's right, until you see it. You have to see it first before you can - you just cannot take this Government's word on anything, Mr. Speaker. You cannot take their word on what will happen once we bring Mount Pearl, Wedgewood Park and the Goulds in with you, St. John's. The City Council did that and now they have been burnt.

All I say, to the Government House Leader particularly, who is directing this piece of legislation in the absence of the minister, that being the reasonable person he is, I would not be surprised over the next few hours if the minister did not inform the House that the Government is willing to put this piece of legislation on hold for six months. I would not be surprised at all. I am sure the minister has thought about that. I am sure he has thought very seriously about going along with the six month hoist, trying to consult, trying to negotiate, to try and bring things together. Let the Federation of Municipalities have input. Get some answers.

The big thing is get some answers for the people who are asking them. Provide them with the answers. You are expecting too many people to take on additional responsibilities, to incur additional tax burden. That is what you are asking here. We have heard about the call for the plebiscite and the referendum. My belief is that if there was one held I do not think that the majority would be in favour of Bill 50. I really do not think that. I think if the Government wanted to be clean on this, I think they should withdraw the Bill, delay the Bill, and put it to a plebiscite or referendum. Then whatever the results of that would be, as one person in this Legislature I would have no difficulty in living with it. Because we are talking democracy. That is why I am here, it is because of democracy. There are more people out in my district wanted me here then they did the other person. If there are more people in that region that wanted Bill 50 than want the present arrangement in the Northeast Avalon, then I would have no choice but accept that.

I think that is being very reasonable, I say to the Government House Leader and to Members opposite. We still have time to reconsider that, we still have time for the Government to do that. Because if not I think we are walking into something here that it is obvious no one knows what the total implications or ramifications are going to be. No one can tell us. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs cannot tell us. No one in the municipalities can tell us because they cannot get the answers. So how can you expect someone to support or accept something they do not know the answers to? That is the real problem here.

Mr. Speaker, we agreed at 4:50 p.m., so I adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the hon. Member.

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

MR. SPEAKER: We are now into the motion for adjournment, better known as the Late Show. There was one question, I understand. The Member for Grand Bank is stating his dissatisfaction with an answer given to a question posed to the Minister of Fisheries.

The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I don't know who wrote that for me but it is terrible writing.

My question to the Minister of Fisheries on Tuesday and on subsequent days has been with respect to the recently announced and publicized proposal document by the federal Minister of Fisheries pertaining to the establishment of an Atlantic Regional Agency to deal with licensing and allocations. I was dissatisfied with the answer given by the minister because, firstly, when I asked the question, the minister was not aware of what I was asking, and, on subsequent questions, Mr. Speaker, he had some difficulty following what I was asking. So that is why I was dissatisfied with it. I raised the issue on Tuesday out of concern I had after having a first look at the document. I had some very serious concerns about it. I had very, very, serious concerns about licensing and allocations, two very important issues for Newfoundland and Labrador, allocation, divvying up of the resource, and licensing, two parts of the fishery that, if we are going to pursue joint management, would certainly be front and centre.

In looking at that document, I had grave concerns, and that is why I wanted to pursue, with the minister, his feelings and impressions on it. There is no question, Mr. Speaker, that I think, as I said publicly yesterday, it is a step backward for this Province.

We, as a party, for eleven or twelve years advocated joint management, more say over our resources, particularly the fishery and offshore oil and gas. I think this is a real backward thrust. I am afraid that those involved in the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry will be further compromised and the situation will worsen. The resource over the next number of years is going to be scarcer. And if you have more players sitting around the table, even though if you look at it on a regional basis, and if you say there should be reason of balance in the agency, that there are three or four other provinces besides Newfoundland and Labrador, and even though, as a Province we may have more representatives on that particular agency than any other province, the real worry I have is that if there is some kind of collaboration between the other three or four, even though we may have more numbers as a Province, we can be very easily outweighed and done in on the issue. That is my real concern, and that is why I pursued the issue with the Minister of Fisheries.

I am still very, very concerned about it. I am not sure yet that the provincial minister really understands what is being proposed, Mr. Speaker. I am not really sure if he is sure of the ramifications for the fishing industry in this Province. It is unfortunate that he is not here. I had hoped he would be, to respond to the question.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, as a group and as a Legislature, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we really have to stand up and be counted on the issue, because if we don't, I think we are -

Our industry is in crisis at the moment, Mr. Speaker, and I think if the federal minister is successful in getting those proposals accepted, we are going to be in even a worse state in a few years. That is my real concern, and it is the reason why I asked the Minister of Fisheries that question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not want anybody to believe that we, on this side, don't understand what this management proposal is all about. I would like to deal with it by dealing, first of all, with two particular Tories, I call them. The first, obviously, is the Minister of Fisheries. Now, Mr. Speaker, we understand what he is doing with this management plan, he is selling out the fishermen of the Province. Let there be no doubt about that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: He is selling out the fishermen of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. BAKER: And, Mr. Speaker, he is doing it over the protests of this Government month after month after month. He has been fully apprised of our position and what we want, and he refuses to talk to us. He has sold out this Province, Mr. Speaker.

The second Tory, I would like to deal with him, Richard Cashin.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I put it to any member of this House: his good buddy, Brian Mulroney, back from St. Xavier and Dalhousie days, now and then pays him his $800 a day to sit on some commission, Mr. Speaker. Who would you listen to?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: The person who pays the piper calls the tune, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: So what do you expect Richard Cashin to say? 'My good friend, Brian Mulroney, and my good friend, John Crosbie, what they are doing is okay. It is alright to sell out the fishermen of this Province. It is alright to sell out the people of this Province. It is alright to sell out the birthright in this Province.' Mr. Speaker, what would you expect him to say? That is exactly what he thinks. He is agreeing with the rest of his Tory buddies, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: So, let there be no doubt about our understanding of this management plan. Our understanding is that it is a sell-out by two key individuals, Richard Cashin and John Crosbie.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.