December 2, 1991            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 82

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might take the time of the House before we get to Orders of the Day or to routine business, to pay tribute to a close friend and former colleague, a former Member of the House of Assembly. I refer to the late Jim Reid of Heart's Delight, who passed away yesterday I believe it was, with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Jim Reid was first elected to the House of Assembly in 1972 as the MHA for Trinity-Bay de Verde and, under then Premier Frank Moores, he became the first ever Minister of Rural Development, alone in this Province, an achievement of which he was very proud and an accomplishment of which he was very proud. He left politics in 1975, but was pressured to re-enter political life in 1979, following which, I think he retired finally in 1989 - he didn't run in the last election - having been elected four times by the people he served.

Mr. Speaker, those of us who knew him, would know that one of his proudest possessions was the Miss Heart's Desire, which was a boat that many in this House, I think, have spent a night or two aboard while on a fishing trip with Jim, who, was happiest I think when he was on the water, that is fair to say.

He was a statuesque, strong-willed individual who raised a family of five - three boys and two girls, one of whom worked in our offices, as a matter of fact, for a number of years. He was a firm believer of the work ethic - that one has to work to survive - and he carried it out, Mr. Speaker, more than most others, working from dawn until dusk every day.

Jim Reid was a kind man who truly cared about people and the district that he represented. He could have lived in a mansion, Mr. Speaker, but he chose not to. He chose to live as a common man, never losing the common touch. He was a very special individual who provided exemplary service to those who put their faith in him. His passing is a loss that will be felt by all of us who knew him and throughout the Province by the many friends he made over the years, and, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask you, on behalf of the Members of the Legislature, to extend our deepest sympathies to the Reid family.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I did not know Mr. Reid personally, very well. I had met him but did not have a great deal to do with him. I had always read newspaper reports of his activities and his contribution to the Province, his contribution as a member of this House, and whether I share the political views or not, I respect the effort that members make when they seek election to this House, the commitment that they make to the people of the Province, and the additional burden that it places on them in order to meet that commitment. So I am pleased to join with the Leader of the Opposition in acknowledging the contribution that Mr. Reid made to this Province, both in his role as a member of the House and in his role as a member of the Cabinet of the day. I am pleased to join with the Leader of the Opposition in requesting your Honour to convey our condolences to the family.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On behalf of the New Democratic Party in this House, I would like to add my remarks to those of the hon. the Opposition House Leader and the Premier in recognizing Mr. Reid's contribution to public life and to this House, and to join in the request that you offer, on behalf of this House, our condolences to his wife and family on his death.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, joint management of fisheries is a major goal of this administration. Today, I am pleased to table before the House the Government's detailed proposal on joint management. This paper outlines the goals and structure of such a system, and is meant to form the basis for substantive negotiations with the Federal Government.

Copies of this proposal have already been forwarded to the Prime Minister, to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and we have initiated consultations with industry and labour through the Fisheries Advisory Council.

The fundamental characteristic of joint management is the integration of federal and provincial responsibility over the harvesting and processing sectors in the fishing industry. Integration would occur through a new federal-provincial board with powers granted to it by both levels of government. Integration will lead to a more efficiently regulated industry. It will eliminate conflict and contradictions between federal and provincial policies, enhance the conservation of fisheries resources, and improve the competitiveness of fisheries enterprises.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has consistently advocated the creation of a joint fisheries management system for two-and-a-half years. In fact, this issue was first raised with federal ministers in a meeting in May, 1989, just weeks after the Government took office. Since that time, we have made numerous interventions with federal representatives on this issue.

Federal-provincial consultations are an essential first step to implementing this regime, and will serve to clarify and firmly establish the principles and approach to be enshrined in the new system. I am also seeking the support of all hon. members for this proposal.

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

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

I would like to thank the minister for a copy of his statement prior to the House opening today and would like to say we think it is about time, since we have been waiting about three years for the Government position paper, that we finally have it today.

I really expected a proposal from Government that would give the Province greater flexibility and authority to manage the economic resources of the fishery and to promote the social and economic development of the Province. I am a little bit concerned, when I take a first look at, not only the minister's statement, but the document. Really, it seems that Government is sort of getting out of governing again. They are trying to give these governing responsibilities over to sort of another board, Mr. Speaker, such as we have seen them do with the economy and so on.

These are the first concerns I have when I look at what the minister has to say, and, of course, we will be looking into the document in greater detail. As well, I would like to say to the Minister and Government that I think 80 per cent or more of the communities around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador depend on the fishery for their existence, that all government policies in those communities interrelate with fisheries policies, and if Government, in any way, does anything to weaken this interrelationship then, I think, we are going to see a further downturn in the economics of our rural communities, particularly fishery-dependent communities. I think, as well, Government would lose the ability to plan and co-ordinate economic policy with other policy areas. So think, Mr. Speaker, that we have to be very careful here that Government doesn't become less relevant to those coastal communities and to the people who live in them.

I thank the minister for his statement. We will be having much more to say over the next few hours.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for Housing, I am pleased to announce that an innovative housing complex for senior citizens will be built in Stephenville Crossing. It will be Newfoundland's first Congregate Housing Complex. Congregate Housing is a cost-effective method of delivering services to seniors while, at the same time, providing them with comfortable and affordable housing. When completed the one-storey building will consists of twenty individual living units as well as common facilities designed to enable residents to avail of certain community support services - the aim being to provide residents with the level of care required so that they can maintain independent lifestyles. One of the two-bedroom units has been specially designed to accommodate the needs of disabled tenants.

This unique project is being funded by NLHC and its Federal partner, CMHC. The Bay St. George Senior Citizen's Home is sponsoring the development and will oversee day-to-day operations once it is completed.

The complex is expected to cost slightly more than $1 million, and is being cost-shared under the Federal/Provincial Private Non-Profit Housing Program. To offset operating costs, the Federal and Provincial housing agencies will also cost-share an annual operating subsidy. The subsidy is to ensure that rental rates are kept in line with the residents' income. Specifically, the ongoing financial assistance will mean that rental rates for residents who choose to live at the congregate complex will not exceed 25 per cent of their monthly income.

A permanent full-time coordinator for the Congregate Complex will be provided and this position will be funded by the Department of Health. Personal care programs will be tailored for each resident, thereby ensuring that they are able to live full and active lives. Without this type of arrangement, those who choose to live at the congregate complex might otherwise be faced with the prospect of residing in various chronic care facilities to receive the level of care they require. Institutional care is far more costly to provide and, more importantly, not the best solution for seniors who only require a minimal amount of care.

This innovative approach to seniors' housing is the first of its kind in this Province and I am sure it will prove to be a worthwhile venture. Senior citizens whose needs cannot be met in other types of government assisted housing projects will now have a new option available to them.

NLHC is dedicated to supporting such joint initiatives that are designed to address specific needs. Another unique Federal/Provincial housing project is currently nearing completion in Corner Brook. This twenty unit complex has been designed specifically for physically challenged residents and seniors. It is the only such project in Canada involving a joint effort by the Provincial and Federal housing agencies and the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

The Congregate Housing Complex in Stephenville Crossing and the development being sponsored by the Canadian Paraplegic Association in Corner Brook are excellent examples of how cooperation and commitment by the housing agencies and community organizations can result in affordable and comfortable housing for those in need.

A call for tenders to construct the Congregate Housing Complex in Stephenville Crossing will be advertised over the coming weeks

and I expect the project to be completed and ready for occupancy by late 1992.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On behalf of the Opposition we welcome this announcement. This is a very innovative concept, I think, one that has been used in other parts of Canada. I recall visiting a similar sort of system in British Columbia, actually, in Vancouver a number of years ago when I was Minister of Housing, and it was a concept that we have been looking at every since. But it is certainly a welcome announcement.

I think this concept will be extremely good for senior citizens because it not only provides them with housing, it provides them with a certain measure of care as well. In other words, we are talking about people who are probably no longer able to maintain an individual home. The alternative would be to move into some sort of a senior citizen's home where there is a measure of care. So this is sort of a half way step between an independent home and living in an institution.

I am sure that there are many people in this Province, Mr. Speaker, who can benefit from this particular one, and, of course, we welcomed earlier the announcement of the twenty units in Corner Brook for those who are physically challenged. That is also an excellent concept, Mr. Speaker. These are two concepts of where the housing corporations jointly are now designing housing units for the needs of their clients, and this is long overdue. We have been moving in that area for some time, and this is certainly a good step forward, and there are others.

I would encourage the minister and the Housing Corporation to look as well at the needs for single parents. I think probably the largest individual need that we have are for single parent families in housing units. Many times we have requests, as MHAs, to try and help to get people into these types of units. They do not qualify because the units are too large or the units are too small. I think it is high time that we had some units specifically designed for those people who, through no fault of their own, require some housing assistance from the Government. So we support this initiative, Mr. Speaker, and we welcome this announcement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier related to his press statement this morning because we did not have a chance to go through the document that was tabled today, but with respect to the joint management board that the Government is seeking. I would ask the Premier if he can tell us how broadly did the Government consult in developing this particular proposal, which I presume has taken the last two and a half years. For example, did he consult with the Fishermen's Union, and has he received the formal endorsement of the fishermen's union and others, for example, to these proposals?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I did not personally consult with the Fishermens' Union, although I have on a number of occasions discussed with members of the Fishermens' Union the general principle of joint management. In detail, I did not personally consult with representatives of the Fishermens' Union.

The Province has available to it the advice of the Minister's Advisory Council on the fishery, and that, of course, includes a significant number of members from the Fishermens' Union as well as people involved in all aspects of the fishery. I know that there have been discussions between the Minister and senior executive people in the Department of Fisheries with that Council from time to time, but I would have to ask the Minister to comment in any detail on that.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, can the Premier tell us, then, if the Fishing Industry Advisory Board has formally supported these proposals?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I can only say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I met with the Fishing Industry Advisory Board on Friday past and I have met with the Fishing Industry Advisory Board on at least two other occasions, when we have discussed general fisheries matters including joint management, and I have always gotten strong endorsement on the principle of joint management from the Fishing Industry Advisory Board. Now, exactly what the level of involvement of the Fishing Industry Advisory Board has been in the specifics of this proposal, I would again have to defer to the minister.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister could answer the question. Has the Fishing Industry Advisory Board formally endorsed and supported these proposals?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Fishing Industry Advisory Board is made up of all sectors of the Newfoundland fishing industry, the inshore, offshore, both unions, large boat operators and small boat operators. There has been ongoing consultation with that group now for quite some time.

On Friday, the Premier and I met with the Advisory Board and the Premier outlined what was entailed in the management plan that we were going to present, and there appeared, then, to be a general consensus around the table that the proposal would be acceptable. Last night my Deputy Minister met with certain other people within the Advisory Council and a similar consensus was arrived at.

So, I don't know what more we can do in terms of consultation. We consulted with the Union and members of the Advisory Council, we are having ongoing meetings with Mr. Bruce Chapman and members of FANL, and that is the way the process will work, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: This is nothing short of another scandal, Mr. Speaker. Do you mean to tell me, the minister tells the House that he waited until Friday to put these proposals to the Fishing Industry Advisory Board - Friday past?

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what he said.

MR. SIMMS: I asked him if there was endorsement for it. This is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker. Unbelievable! Similar to what they did with the Local Preference Policy, at the last minute they called in a bunch of people.

Let me ask the Premier a supplementary, Mr. Speaker. In his statement this morning, the Premier said the Government proposes that this joint management board they are talking about would now be given responsibility for developing policies for the processing sector, the Fisheries Loan Board, and for granting processing licenses. I would like to ask the Premier: If that is so, what role would then remain for the provincial Department of Fisheries? Would there be a need for one?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, a quite extensive role, in fact, if we are to protect and promote the fisheries. One of the things we have to do is develop new markets and new uses of the fishery. This is a major role. The management of education and training for the fisheries is a major role. If the Leader of the Opposition would care to look at the statement in detail he would see numerous other areas listed, as well.

So there is a significant area of responsibility. But we feel, Mr. Speaker, that the Federal Government should assign to this board its responsibility in terms of management principles for the stocks and the allocation, and in terms of the principles and rules relating to harvesting, and we should assign to it the principles, rules and policy development relating to processing. Now, in that way, you can get it co-ordinated and get the management of the fishery done in a very co-ordinated and sensible way, perhaps for the first time since we have been a Province of Canada.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, wouldn't the Premier confirm that the Government's proposal, as he just described now, really passes over the management of the fishery from catching to processing to an independent unaccountable board, independent unaccountable management agency. Isn't that what this really is, and isn't this really a return to the 1930s when we turned the management of the fishery over to a Commission of Government? Isn't that what we are seeing here really? Does he believe that we have the ability to govern ourselves or does he not?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: We believe we have the ability to govern ourselves, but we also acknowledge that we have the responsibility and we have the good sense to assign to those who can carry out specific duties better than individuals or politicians or civil servants can. We do not have the arrogance to assume that only politicians know what should be done or know how to manage the fisheries. That is probably what has happened to the way the fisheries has been managed in the past in this Province, Mr. Speaker. It needed a good dose of common sense that acknowledged the proper way to manage the fishery. It has nothing whatsoever to do with surrendering.

There would be significant proposals remaining, significant powers remaining that would be administered by the Department of Fisheries and, Mr. Speaker, that board, instead of being unaccountable, would be accountable to the two Ministers of Fisheries. It would have to account to both Ministers of Fisheries, and it would be set up in that way.

Now, I know the hon. members opposite are having trouble understanding those principles of sound management, Mr. Speaker. Their performance of government in the past has demonstrated quite clearly their lack of understanding of sound principles.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Gave away what little bit we had, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Fisheries. Approximately two weeks ago, the Premier reported in Halifax that Canada should lead an international police force to police the fishery to stop European overfishing on the Grand Banks. I would like to ask the Minister of Fisheries, because I am sure there has been some pretty detailed consultation on this with the Premier: How would Canada put such a police force together, and what countries does the minister feel should participate in the proposed international police force in order for it to be able to enforce catch quotas on the Grand Banks?

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will table for the House the precise speech that I made in Halifax, and members will see that there was no reference whatsoever to an international policing patrol. Let me tell hon. members where that came from.

During a news media scrum afterwards, people were talking about how the fisheries could better be controlled on the Grand Banks, and one of them said: Could we use an international police force? And I said: Well, yes, I suppose that could be used. It may be a very effective means. Would you have to resort to an international police force? I said: Yes, it may well be a very effective means. So I acknowledge it was not my brilliant idea. It came out of a question in a news scrum, Mr. Speaker. That is where it came from.

MR. SIMMS: The question was, how would it work?

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, you were the one who said yes.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure, since that time two weeks ago, the Premier has had time to think about it a bit more, and I am wondering if he could inform the House -

What's the matter with the member over there, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is just back from London, England, boy.

MR. MATTHEWS: He is upset because they are giving away the processing end of things, as well, I guess, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: And so he should be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: I am wondering what authority would the international force have to police activities on the Grand Banks

in international waters? What authority would they have, and where would they get the authority is the big question, because we are dealing internationally here. Where would such a police force get the authority?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the context of the speech that I was giving promoted further development of the Law of the Sea, and talked about the meetings that are coming up in Brazil, where the United Nations should take a lead role, and perhaps put in place another Law of the Sea Conference to further develop a basis for such authority. Short of that, the authority could only come from the consensus of the nations of the world agreeing, by agreement, to establish this and to provide for the management of the fisheries in those areas. That is the only place the authority could come from.

No nation acting on its own has the right to legislate specifically in international waters, although some larger nations have declared principles and approaches and have had the military power and might to back them up, and this has occurred in times past. Generally speaking, Mr. Speaker, at international law, such authority can only come from a consensus amongst nations usually reflected in a treaty, or something like the Law of the Sea Conference developed out of the UN, as the last one was.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier is supposed to have said that Canada should serve notice to the rest of the world that unless action is taken to control the overfishing within the next twelve months or so, and I believe he is using the date of January 1, 1993, that Canada should take its own actions. I would like to ask the Premier: What unilateral action should or can Canada take under international law, and what action really is the Premier advocating? Is he advocating that Canada ignore international law - or what else is he suggesting?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not advocating that we ignore international law, but neither should we sit back and impotently do nothing as pirate nations rape those resources, destroy the resources for mankind -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - destroy the means of livelihood of a significant portion of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Neither should we sit back and do nothing!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, Canada is a respected nation in this world, but in terms of foreign overfishing, in terms of what has been happening, we have been acting like an international wimp, and it is time we got on our feet and did something!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it will be for the Government of Canada to decide, and when the time comes we will give them some ideas as to what they can do. There is an argument that they can act under international law as it exists at the moment. To manage properly, the coastal state can take steps towards a sound and sensible management of straddling stocks under the existing Law of the Sea. That argument is there, but there is also an argument against it, I quite readily admit.

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, this is so significant that Canada should be leading world action and opinion in this matter and stop the rape of these stocks off our shores.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. It is now obvious to everyone involved in or who is watching the commercial salmon fishery in this Province, that major changes will take place this fall in that particular fishery. I would like to ask the minister: What is the Government's position with respect to the commercial salmon fishery? And what, if any, representation has he sought or had from fishermen around the Province and the Fishermens' Union with respect to formulating a policy that it took to Ottawa?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the Federal Government is anxious to do something with respect to the conservation of our salmon stocks. There have been discussions with the Province as to the methods to be employed to achieve that objective. There has been a suggestion that maybe there be a mandatory buy-out, for example, of licences of salmon fishermen, and that they would be compensated based on the best of the number of previous years earnings.

We have met with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on this and we have also have had meetings with the Union. Our most recent meeting with the Union took place, I believe it was, on Wednesday or Thursday of last week. It came to light then that there has not been, in our view, adequate consultation between the Union and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Subsequent to that meeting, I wrote Mr. Crosbie and suggested to him that there should be a meeting convened between people in my department, his department, and, of course, the Fishermen's Union, at which time there would be a free and frank discussion as to exactly what the Federal Government intends to do, if, in fact, their mandatory buy-out will include Labrador. We have suggested to them that certainly Labrador, and maybe White Bay North, would be exempt from any such buy-out.

But, I guess, in reply to the question, Mr. Speaker, a meeting is being convened between the three parties, hopefully some time next week, and then the whole matter will be discussed.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, is the minister not aware that the federal minister has announced that changes will be made this fall? We now have only about twenty days or so before this fall is over. Furthermore, the minister just made reference to some sort of compensation. What do he and the provincial Department of Fisheries consider to be adequate compensation for those people who would lose their source of livelihood as a result of a buy-out of the commercial salmon fishery?

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

MR. CARTER: There have been no final discussions yet, or negotiations, with the Province in terms of what would be a satisfactory formula for buying out the licences. That is why we want the three parties to sit down with the Fishermen's Union and the fishermen, and let us try to work out a satisfactory arrangement, one that will satisfy the fishermen.

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

MR. WINSOR: I thank the minister for these clear answers, Mr. Speaker. The minister, in one of his rambling answers, has indicated that certainly, a large portion of the Island of Newfoundland will be included in a commercial ban of the salmon fishery, with the possible exclusion of Labrador and White Bay North and that area.

Let me ask the minister this: What is the Province's position on the recreational fishery in the same areas? Has the Province adopted a position with respect to the angler or the recreational sports fishermen in this Province?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, any moratorium or buy-out of commercial salmon licence, naturally would have to carry with it an undertaking that the angling, the sports recreation salmon fishery would be on a hook-and-release basis. Of course that is necessary because you might say: well, why not put a total ban on the recreational fishery as well? But there are problems. If that were to happen there would probably even be greater problems than we are having now in terms of policing and enforcing the regulations. If the rivers were thrown wide open without any anglers, it would be denied then the benefit of having x number of people on the rivers, at least keeping an eye on things. So, hook-and-release appears to be the most practical way to deal with the recreational fishery.

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

MR. WINSOR: Perhaps he can clarify this, Mr. Speaker. Is it the Province's position, the one that you have put forth to Ottawa now, that hook-and-release will be the position adopted by the Province for the recreational sports fisherman in this Province? Is that the Province's position?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, negotiations are still ongoing on this matter as I said at the outset. We are having meetings I hope, this week with the union and the Federal Government, at which time we will be discussing all aspects of their proposal to deal with this problem. That will be one of the suggestions put forward by us, in fact, we have already said it, that if we are going to put a ban on the commercial fishery, then it must follow that certain measures must be taken by the recreational fishery and the-hook-and release approach appears to be the best one.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Because the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has introduced the so-called rating sheets, and because the minister has already confirmed that those rating sheets will determine whether a municipality gets any capital funding for water and sewer or road paving contracts for 1992, would the minister tell the House how many points a municipality would have to get in order to even get on the so-called priority list for 1992 capital funding?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is impossible to say what minimum number of points would be required at this point, because first of all, Government has to decide the amount of dollars available for capital works for the forthcoming year, and then of course the priorities would be established as far as all the communities are concerned and the cut-off point would be fixed at that time and we will know what the minimum number of points, as the hon. member puts it, will be established when we know the amount of dollars available.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary Mr. Speaker. Under the first component, Mr. Speaker, of the municipal operating grants, namely the Equalization Component. Could the minister tell the House how the department arrived at the figure of approximately $48,000, that is the provincial average, that is the average they use to determine the percentage of the deficiency that the department would have to pay to municipalities? Could he tell us how he arrived at that, approximately $48,000 average?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would have to take that question under advisement. At the time, when the consultants were working on the grants program, the four components of equalization and local revenue incentive, the households and the roads components, those four components were dealt with by the consultants and eventually of course we brought in the new grants program, so I will have to check on how the $48,000 figure was arrived at, Mr. Speaker. I could guess at the answer, it is probably done by way of average appraisal in the Province, but I will get the answer and report to the House.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The Premier and the Minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs, time and time again, have referred to the so-called 'pool of monies' used to finance the four components under the municipal operating grant. Could the minister tell the House how much is in that so-called pool, and why they left the roads component sector of municipal grants to suffer the most in small municipalities?

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

MR. GULLAGE: A good question, Mr. Speaker. I was going to answer it actually a little later in the agenda, just before Orders of the Day I believe it would have been answered, but, Mr. Speaker, the roads component is the final component of the four, and in fact when the calculations are done, the equalization component is done first and then the local revenue incentive component, then the households and finally the roads component. Now what has actually happened as far as the 1991 allocation is concerned is some $1,850,000 on the plus side will be going out to communities now that we have done the calculations, and on the negative side there will be a recovery of some $550,000. So in fact, Mr. Speaker, we have a gain by the communities of some $1,281,000 in the overall grants program this year. The roads component itself is slightly down, but that is only because the first two components of equalization and local revenue incentive, which are the two most important ones, and the reason the grants were changed in the first place, those two components are up dramatically.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is surely aware by now that there is a very serious problem developing in health care, especially as it pertains to Labrador and the recruitment of physicians. A case in point is the Melville Hospital where there is a shortage of eight physicians as of October. Could the minister confirm if that is accurate, that there is a shortage of eight physicians at the Melville Hospital?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm whether there are eight positions empty today or not, but it does not come as any great surprise. There has been a severe problem with recruitment in Labrador and the Northern Peninsula, I suppose, every since Sir Wilfred Grenfell was in that area. It is a problem that we have been trying to deal with. We have come up with very imaginative programs within the department. We introduced a bursary program just a few months ago where we will give native Newfoundlanders and Labradorians a bursary of $12,500 on condition they go back, but I have to admit to the hon. member that there is a problem with recruiting doctors through rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and it is a problem which the whole nation has to contend with, getting physicians to serve in our rural areas.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I can confirm for the minister that there is, indeed, a shortage of eight physicians at the Melville Hospital.

Can the Minister of Health tell us what incentive his department is going to offer to physicians to relocate to Labrador specifically? I know there is a problem in rural areas of the Province generally, but to Labrador specifically where the problem seems to be horrendous in that area.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as I said in the first answer to the question, I am taking the risk of accepting the hon. member's word for it that there is a vacancy of eight, there might indeed be a vacancy of eight. But last week this is the hon. member who told the House that the Janeway had a million dollar deficit, and when I looked at it closer it was only $200,000. So I will check this out. There could well, indeed, be eight positions vacant there, Mr. Speaker. (Inaudible) earlier answer, and obviously he had his supplementary ready before and he had to come with it.

We are trying our best to recruit for rural Newfoundland. Over the last few months we announced an excellent program whereby we will give $12,500 to students of Newfoundland and Labrador who will go back to rural areas and serve. The hospital boards have recruiting programs where they go all over the world and try to recruit. Since I have become minister, we have put a major drive on with our own university where every year we have an opportunity for administrators and board chairpersons to come into St. John's and meet with students in the hospital.

We are doing all the things that other Provinces are doing, and I would say publicly today, Mr. Speaker, if we could find a suitable eight or ten doctors anywhere in the world - I have to say suitable because they have to meet certain requirements, certain licences - I can assure there will be no need to worry about getting the transportation to Labrador, we will be quite willing to do everything in Government's power to make sure that we get doctors there.

The unfortunate thing is that for some reason people do not want to go to Labrador or to the Northern peninsula where I live. I believe the people who refuse to go there are the losers. But nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, these things are facts of life that we have to deal with, and we are trying our utmost to deal with them. Hopefully, if the facts are right, and I have to take everything the hon. member tells me with a grain of salt, because he made a fool of himself with the Janeway question a couple of weeks ago.

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

MR. DOYLE: We will see, Mr. Speaker, by the end of the fiscal year who has made a fool of himself. The hon. member said it was a $200,000 deficit and the Janeway came back and said it was $500,000, so obviously the minister has made a fool of himself as well.

Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the minister. The minister said a moment ago his Government is doing exactly what every other province in Canada is doing in the way of incentives but let me tell you he is not. Quebec and Ontario, specifically, make incentives available to their physicians in the northern parts of those provinces. Since the minister has admitted that there is a very serious problem in recruiting physicians in the Labrador portion of the Province would Government be willing to offer an increase in fees over and above the current MCP billing for any physician working in Labrador?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, he is the only person in Newfoundland who is hoping that the Janeway will have a deficit, that is quite obvious, he wants to make a self-fulfilling prophecy. In Quebec doctors who serve in rural areas get 115 per cent of the Medicare fee and doctors in urban areas get 85 per cent. This is an experiment which they tried, but in the last correspondence we had with Quebec they were considering doing away with it because it is not working. That particular program would not work in Newfoundland and Labrador because the area which the hon. member is talking about, and in most rural areas of the Province, we have doctors who are on salary and not on fee-for-service, so that is a program which we looked at. I believe the best program of all is the one we have, where we take Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and find a way to get them into university. We pay their bursaries, we pay their expenses on condition that they go back and serve in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

That was an experiment which worked in other parts of the nation and in other parts of North America, and I believe it is a good one. There are a whole list of other things that are done. Some hospital boards give free housing, some hospital boards enter into a special deal with the physician where they guarantee him some time off to take study leave. There are a whole lot of imaginative schemes in place, Mr. Speaker, and Government tends to be open and receptive to any suggestion which hospital boards will make. Notwithstanding that it is a fact of life that in this nation we have an over supply of doctors in the urban areas and an under supply of doctors in the rural areas. For seventeen years the previous administration wrestled with it and could not solve the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind the hon. minister that I think he has answered the question, but secondly Question Period is over.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Mechanics Lien Act."

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill, entitled, "An Act To Amend The Assignment Of Book Debts Act, The Bills Of Sale Act, The Conditional Sales Act, and The Registration Of Deeds Act, in relation to the offshore area.

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

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

WHEREAS the Province has released its proposal for joint management which provides for the integration of federal and provincial responsibility over the harvesting and processing sectors in the fishing industry through a new federal/provincial board; and

WHEREAS integration will lead to a more efficiently regulated industry and will eliminate conflict and contradictions between federal and provincial policies, enhance the conservation of fisheries resources and improve the competitiveness of fisheries enterprises; and

WHEREAS the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has tabled a proposal for fisheries reform which does not seek to integrate federal and provincial management responsibilities, and places the decision-making power over the Newfoundland fishery in the hands of an Atlantic-wide agency where the Province's influence would be diluted;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorse and support the joint management proposal released on December 2, 1991 by the hon. the Premier and the hon. the Minister of Fisheries; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House formally oppose the federal proposal for fisheries management.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow move, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that debate or further consideration of a Second Reading of Bill 50, "An Act To Facilitate The Amalgamation Of Certain Municipal Authorities And Municipal Services In Relation To The Northeast Avalon Region," standing in the name of the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and any amendments to that motion for Second Reading of Bill No. 50 shall not be further adjourned, and that further consideration of any amendments relating to Second Reading of Bill No. 50 shall not be further postponed.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, in my absence last week the Premier was asked a question concerning the municipal operating grants and I would like to table an answer to that question.

The original figures for municipal operating grants provided to municipalities in December, 1990 for inclusion in the 1990-1991 budgets of the municipalities were based on estimated statistics prepared by the consulting firm that was engaged by the Department to help devise the new grant system. Since that time, revised figures have been prepared by the department based on and verified by audited financial statements and other financial documents.

When these new statistics were prepared in preparation of the revised grants for 1991, the end result was that an extra amount will be paid to a number of municipalities totalling approximately $1,850,000, while, at the same time, the Department will have to recover from the remainder of the municipalities a total of approximately $550,000. The net result will be additional grants in the area of $1,300,000 for the calendar year, 1991.

This type of adjustment to operating grants, incidentally, is no different from the previous method employed by the Department in adjusting the old tax incentive grants based on audited financial statements. The additional grants for $1,850,000 have already been processed by the Department and efforts will be taken soon to effect recovery of the amount of $550,000 from the other municipalities by deductions from their first quarterly grants for 1992.

In this latter case, in the event that recovery of an amount from a certain municipality would cause undue hardship for that council, the Department has funds available to provide special financial assistance to the municipality to help alleviate the hardship.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further answers to questions for which notice has been given. The hon. the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, on Friday, the hon. the Member for St. John's East asked me to table in the House some figures relative to the lobster trap bank that we have around the Province. He wanted to know the number of lobster pots still around. I have the figures here and I find that at the present time there are 6,805 lobster pots in storage. These pots cost a total of $37.43 each. They are being sold for seven dollars each, so it is not a big money-maker. In fact, it is almost as bad as Sprung. In 1978, Mr. Speaker, there were approximately 21,000 pots constructed. Some were sold - in fact, most of them were sold. (Inaudible) we have 6,805. So I table this for the hon. gentleman's information, Mr. Speaker.


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to present a petition from approximately 221 Pentecostal constituents of mine who are members of the Pentecostal congregation at Springdale. Having spent the last month as a reluctant guest of the Minister of Health at the Burn Unit of the Health Sciences I am indeed pleased to be able to keep my commitment to deliver this petition before our Christmas recess. Now the prayer of the petition is as follows.

The congregation of the Pentecostal Church in Springdale believe very strongly in the right of parents to provide for their children an education which is scripturally and morally based. This belief has been demonstrated in the past through voluntary services of congregation members and through a high level of financial support for local Pentecostal school systems. With the commission of enquiry into the delivery of education in this Province, the issue of denominational education has once again been brought to the forefront. In the debate some have suggested that the denominational system be abolished. We, however, regard the denominational system of schooling as a sacred trust which has a firm basis in history, in law, and most especially in scripture. It is because of this that we, the undersigned, wish to express our strong support of the denominational system of education as it presently exists in Newfoundland. We beg the political leaders of our Province to represent our wishes in this regard.

Mr. Speaker, when the commission of enquiry was established the Pentecostal citizens of Green Bay took this consultation process very seriously, and I was asked to attend Pentecostal home and school association meetings on the north and south shores of my district. Both the meeting in Springdale and the one in Robert's Arm were packed to the rafters. In the case of Pentecostals, their denominational system was given constitutional protection already afforded other churches only during the latter years of the Peckford PC administration. Therefore this is a newly acquired and therefore much cherished constitutional right.

While the intensity of commitment to denominational education varies from denomination to denomination, Pentecostals, it can be said, generally choose to take considerable interest in the education of their children. You can tell this when you enter a Pentecostal school. You quickly find evidence of Pentecostal theology and morals, not only in religion class but also in math class, in the corridors, in the staff room and in the gymnasium. Pentecostal schooling is more than the three Rs, it is part of a way of life.

I also happened to serve on the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Assembly. Some months ago we questioned denominational representatives under oath. Those representatives testified that in their opinion the dollar savings in the elimination of the denominational education system have been greatly exaggerated and that much interdenominational cooperation already exists.

Speaking for the Pentecostal Education Council, Pastor Earl Batstone gave evidence that Pentecostals are keenly interested in a quality academic education for their children, but only where numbers allow such quality. For instance, small schools in Point Leamington and Seal Cove - White Bay were closed due to low enrollments. Of the 12,000 Pentecostal students in this Province only 6,000 are in full-fledged Pentecostal school systems.

Pastor Batstone pointed out that in addition to their citizens tax burden Pentecostal parents make substantial extra financial contributions to their school system. Over a ten year period Pentecostals in the Springdale area contributed $1.5 million to the capital cost of their school system. The Deer Lake congregation contributed $700,000 to the first phase of their school system. The Port de Grave Pentecostals built their school system outright from their own funds. On average, I am told, Pentecostals contribute 31 per cent of the capital cost of new schools over and above the usual government grant.

The Pentecostal system also cooperates with other systems. Sop's Arm and Pacquet are co-operative ventures, as is the provision of educational psychologists and speech pathologists in Central Newfoundland, where possible, co-operative busing is in effect. In short, Mr. Speaker, the Pentecostal congregations are committed to a quality education system in their particular christian education context where and when the numbers warrant. They participate in co-operative ventures with other systems and in most cases they put their money where their hearts and their mouths are in support of their system.

Mr. Speaker, I support this petition, I have signed it and I ask that it be tabled and referred to the department to which it relates. Thank you very much.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I stand with pleasure to support the petition so ably presented by my colleague the Member for Green Bay, whom I understand let himself out of hospital early, so that he could come here to present the petition, which shows the support he has for his constituents.

The Pentecostal Assemblies throughout the Province are very high on the system of education we have in this Province, but perhaps none of them to a greater extent than the Pentecostals in the Springdale area. A few years ago they opened a new school/church complex in Springdale and I had the pleasure of officiating actually at that ceremony, and to see the hard work and dedication that the people put into the complex and to education generally in that area and in the Province actually in total, is certainly enough to make one sit up and take notice.

Over the years, the education system in the Province of Newfoundland has developed, mainly because of the influences of the different denominations, and what a lot of people forget when they get caught up in arguments about whether or not our system is the one we should have or whether we would be better off with a public system, they forget sometimes the history of the development of education in the Province and the part played by the different denominations. When there was nobody else, they went out and volunteered in many cases to go around the Province and teach, to construct schools, most of the original buildings put up in this Province were done so with the assistance and the funding of people who supported the different churches.

The level of dedication in the system is without compare anywhere else in the country, and I guess that is why in some of the provinces we see today a number of them leaning towards the system of education we have in the Province, rather than away from it, as some people in this Province seem to be headed. However, I wonder if the true facts were laid on the table concerning the financial involvement and the financial costs of the system of education we have, when people really saw how little perhaps it costs in light of the true value, then perhaps we would have different views on our system of education. I strongly support the petition as presented by my colleague and I congratulate the people who took the initiative to send the petition to this hon. House.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think all of us who know education in this Province, the Government included, acknowledge the tremendous contribution of the churches to education over the years. Most of us are aware of the history and development of this system and we know that the churches, and more recently the Pentecostal Church, made tremendous contributions to education in a variety of ways, not just funding.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say though, that there are special pressures being exerted on the system today, in the 1990s. We have demands for more and better education for more people. We have declining enrolments and an increasing number of small schools, in fact the projections are that by the year 2000, we will have 100,000 students in the schools in this Province and we had 162,000 just twenty years ago, so we have declining enrolments and that means many small schools, and the third thing that is happening, Mr. Speaker, is that we are in a period of fiscal restraint and I think there are tremendous pressures on the educational system to ensure that we get the best quality we can with the limited dollars we have. That is why this Government set up a Royal Commission. We want to ask the public of the Province what kind of restructuring of the system is necessary? The question is not whether this system should be kept or abolished. The question, as far as this Government is concerned, is how can the system be restructured to meet the new demands of the 21st century? We are looking forward to the report of the Royal Commission and I assure you we will give these recommendations every consideration.

The Member for St. John's East Extern and I agree on many things. One thing we really agree on is that the time has come to look at interdenominational sharing in all parts of this Province so that we can provide the best quality education for the students in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 22, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: This is not an adjourned debate. This is the first time it has been up for second reading.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections and Election Financing." (Bill No. 55)

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have to confess at the outset to a slight tinge of pride, sinning a little bit by perhaps having an excessive amount of pride in the action we are taking today in introducing this particular piece of legislation, pride not for myself from my personal point of view, although my commitment to it has been strong for a very long period of time, but pride that as Leader of the Liberal Party I can stand here and introduce a proposal that has its roots in liberalism and has come from the Liberal Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: On numerous occasions in the past such legislation has been promised. The former Government promised, I believe, after every election, that they were going to reform the Election Act and make it fairer, control political financing and so on but they never did so, largely because they did not want to give up the sense of additional security or preferred position that they had as the governing party, so there was no commitment to the principle that they were espousing at the time. Mr. Speaker, that is part of the reason for my sin of having a little excess pride today. The Liberal Party stated its position clearly during the election campaign and we are here today to honour that commitment. I would like just to, if I might, take a moment or two to read exactly what the commitment was. Members opposite are frequently given to standing in this House and quoting from the Liberal Party Manifesto of the last election campaign. Let me quote from it today, Mr. Speaker. The commitment was: if we are to preserve parliamentary democracy in this Province there must be reform in four major areas. First, there must be reform in the process of the election of members to the House of Assembly and in particular the financing of those elections. At the present time there are no limits on either the contributions to political parties and candidates, or on the expenditures by candidates and parties. A Liberal Government will within two years of taking office introduce legislation to place limits on expenditures by individual candidates and parties during general elections and by-elections with penalties adequate to deter breaches. Secondly, place limits on the amount that may be donated by any one source and require disclosure of donations over a specified amount. Thirdly, provide for tax credits similar to the federal tax credit for donations to political parties; fourth, provide for a minimum of thirty days notice for a general election, and require by-elections to be called and held within sixty days of a vacancy occurring.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that was the commitment that we made, and I have to confess at the same time that I express the sense of pride that technically, in terms of introducing it or laying it before the House, we short-changed the Province by just about six months. We should have had it in six months ago. In fact, it was largely ready six months ago, but we had a fairly busy session and there were so many other things, that this did not get the immediate priority. We knew we would be able to introduce it this fall, so we took the extra few months to do that, and gave priority to greater needs at the time.

But, Mr. Speaker, we intend to have the legislation through the House and ready to operate in adequate time to allow the election officials to properly prepare for the next general election which, give or take a few months one way or the other, might be about a year-and-a-half or so from now, which would be four years after the great event when we were elected in April of 1989.

MR. MATTHEWS: You won't be waiting that long.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, I would say! I would say there is a lot of posturing going on over there right now!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Any group of people that has dropped below the single member for the NDP, the whole of them together dropped below the NDP, should not be saying too much about not waiting very long. I would be hesitant to be talking that way if I were the hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

AN HON. MEMBER: We haven't dropped (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I would think that nobody has dropped fifty points, not even the hon. members opposite.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, that is not correct.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) forty-nine.

PREMIER WELLS: Not correct. It was eighty-two to sixty-one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Thirty-three.

PREMIER WELLS: Eighty-two to sixty-one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Thirty-three.

PREMIER WELLS: The eighty-two was of the decided vote. Sixty-one is the decided vote.

MR. BAKER: Eighty-two to fifty-five and back up to sixty-one.

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, I am sorry. I apologise for misleading the House. The President of Treasury Board reminds me that it was eighty-two down to fifty-five, and then back up to sixty-one after the election of the new leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: That's right. I had forgotten that. That was of the decided vote. I believe Mr. Bush was ninety per cent or something after the Gulf War, and that was unrealistic. Well, I have to confess to the House, Mr. Speaker, that eighty-two was utterly unrealistic. I mean, it was an inordinate event, an unusual thing at the time, that caused things to be distorted. So eighty-two was never ever real. Sixty-one is more realistic, I believe. Not bad. It is more appropriate, so I will not -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Now, I promised the Leader of the Opposition that I would try to clue this up in half an hour. If I keep getting diverted like this to deal with the hon. members' interjections, it may take me somewhat more than half an hour.

Mr. Speaker, I do, in all seriousness, confess to a degree of pride in being able to introduce this legislation today. Some of our rules, under the existing Elections Act, were antiquated, to say the least, and needed a considerable degree of reform. In many respects, there were no rules with respect to certain political activity that ought to have been regulated. The raising of funds by political parties, and expenditures during election campaigns ought to have been regulated in order to ensure fairness and balance - we get back to that phrase again - so that the governing party is not in a preferred position to get benefits from perhaps a greater level of contribution and so on, so that it would be fair to all parties contesting elections. That was really the commitment of the Liberal Party, to ensure for fairness, not to take advantage of the opportunity while it was in power to preserve a privileged position for itself. Instead, we put the interest of the people of this Province first and foremost as we are inclined to do all of the time, Mr. Speaker.

We made our commitment, and we have now delivered, but I want to also advise the House that this piece of legislation did not just happen. It wasn't pulled off the shelf from where the former government had it. It did not exist before, we had to create it, and I want to give proper recognition to those who contributed to the creation that is here today. Because I must also confess, while I express great pride, as Leader of the Liberal Party, to the commitment that I made to the electorate during the last election, I also have to confess that others contributed far more than I did on a personal basis to developing the detail that we are dealing with here today.

First, Mr. Speaker, we consulted with the political committee, if you will, of some members from the Liberal side of the House, and some members from the Liberal Party, to develop and hone the Liberal commitment, to define the Liberal commitment to providing for a fair and proper election process for this Province. That committee developed the principles, and identified the principles that ought to guide us in the management of political activity. Then, when those principles were identified, we put in place a committee of senior public servants. It was that committee of senior public servants, Mr. Speaker, that took the ideas and principles that were the policy of the Liberal Party, and developed them into this statute that we are dealing with today.

I want to acknowledge the contribution made by a number of people, not the least of which was the former Chief Electoral Officer, who had very significant input into this proposal and its detailed operation and was able to bring to bear information that he had gathered from a variety of other jurisdictions as to how best to achieve the objective. So he made a significant contribution, and I want to acknowledge that. There were a couple of senior officials from the Department of Justice who participated on this committee, and they, too, made a significant contribution. The Deputy Clerk of the Executive Council was personally involved, and he, also, made a very significant contribution. The Chief of Staff of my office was also personally involved, and he made a terrific contribution. So that group of senior officials took those ideas and principles that were the dedicated position of the Liberal Party, and converted them, Mr. Speaker, into the provisions that you see here today.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to just go over briefly what is involved in this statute that we see before us. It really replaces a couple of existing statutes which will be repealed when this legislation comes into force. The existing Elections Act would be repealed, and the Controverted Elections Act would be replaced; this provides for controverted elections, as well.

Just to run over briefly, Mr. Speaker, what is, if you will, the guts of this proposal, it really contains the following: It provides for the appointment of the Chief Electoral Officer by the House of Assembly, not by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, but the appointment is to be by way of resolution on the floor of this House, and the Chief Electoral Officer is to be answerable to this House, through your Honour, as Speaker of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: I have to say, also, Mr. Speaker, that while this is not yet the law, and the office of Chief Electoral Officer is now vacant, we intend to fill that by the same process. So the Government will be bringing forward a resolution to the House of Assembly to consider the nominee to be appointed by the House. Even though we don't have to do it - we could still act under the existing Elections Act and appoint the Chief Electoral Officer, we would intend not to fill that vacancy in that manner. Even though the Act may not be in force at the time that we fill the vacancy, we would intend to proceed by that manner. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, we intend to shortly bring a resolution before the House to fill the vacancy so that the discussion will take place here.

We think that is a significant change, Mr. Speaker, not alone from the fact of having the House appoint him, but from the appearance of it. It puts it beyond question, and it is not a purely political appointment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) full House or by (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, it would be a resolution to be debated in open, public debate in the full House. We intend to bring forward, very shortly, that resolution, Mr. Speaker.

As well, Mr. Speaker, the new statute would provide for the appointment of returning officers by the Chief Electoral Officer, and that they would be required to reside in the electoral district they represent.

The qualifications of electors would be being Canadian citizens eighteen years of age or over and ordinarily resident in the Province.

We are proposing that there be thirty days notice. Now, thirty is probably about the right time. Twenty-one is too short. I think everybody agrees that twenty-one is unfair and gives the governing party an unfair advantage. Because the past practice in this Province has been that you hold it very secret and you suddenly spring unexpectedly on the others an election. This is unfair. With twenty-one days to organize and get ready the governing party can be at a distinct advantage, keep the information to itself, and then suddenly spring an election. So we feel that it should be increased to be a minimum of twenty-eight to thirty days, at least. We are proposing thirty days in the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, that, then, provides a week or so to get organized and get nominations in place, and then provide for pretty well a full two to three weeks of good, solid campaigning, which we think is fairer to all concerned. It is fairer to the electorate and it is fairer to all of the political parties and the individuals who will be interested in seeking election to the House. It also provides for a permanent list of electors that will be constantly updated so that an election could be held at any time.

The legislation would require that if somebody were affiliated with a political party, that would be disclosed on the ballot paper. The party affiliation would be disclosed. And the leader of the political party would have to confirm that the person claiming to be part of that party is, indeed, the representative of that party in the election campaign. We think this makes sense, we think it is consistent with what happens, anyway, in the day-to-day conduct of an election campaign.

The new Act would also provide for voting by proxy, which is a change. It will be very strictly regulated but it will provide for voting by proxy, as well.

We are also suggesting that in any district where the difference is less than ten, there be an automatic recount, that the electoral officer require the recount so as not to cause the person for whose benefit the recount should be held to incur the cost; that it would be a recount required by the returning officer for that particular district. We think that is fair to all parties.

We are also suggesting that one Supreme Court judge is quite adequate to conduct a recount. It is an anomaly of our law, at the moment, that we have two Supreme Court judges to conduct a recount of a small district in the Province, but one district court judge used to be able to conduct a recount in a federal riding, which didn't make much sense, so we are changing that.

The identification requirements for electors for polling day registration or their voting would be prohibited. At the moment, you can just walk into a polling booth and swear: I am residing in such-and-such a district, and vote. Well, you should be required to produce more than that. Something by way of identification as to who you are and where you live and so on should be provided.

In the general provisions, we are also going to make specific, special provisions for plebiscites and referendums, so that they would be covered by the election procedures, as well. If, for example, in the constitutional debate, we decide, at the time, that it is necessary or beneficial to have a referendum - if there is not going to be a national referendum - if we decide that the level of approval within the Province is uncertain, then I would suggest that we would provide for a referendum. This legislation would make provision for the conduct of that, in accordance with election procedures and election financing.

Then, this is the major part of the legislation. It is a real departure. What I have just gone over now is sort of a refinement and an updating of our basic election rules and procedures to bring them into something approaching the 21st century, if it is not right into it, because our procedures were somewhat antiquated. But the most significant thing, I believe, in this piece of legislation, is what we have done to provide for the disposition of funds and the collection and disposition and management of funds by political parties and district associations.

The new legislation would specifically provide for the administration and enforcement of financing regulations to be the responsibility of the Chief Electoral Officer. That officer will have a role to supervise the financial management of parties and make sure that political parties and candidates do not breach these financing regulations. And the parties would be required, under the proposed Act, to report regularly to the Chief Electoral Officer once each year, Mr. Speaker.

It provides for the registration and deregistration of political parties and district associations. It also provides for the registration of non-affiliated candidates, so that a person who did not want to be associated or affiliated with a political party would not be, in any manner, prevented from participating in the electoral process. That person would still have to abide by the basic rules that applied to the candidates for the particular parties, but there would be no other limitation on the ability to run.

It also would provide, Mr. Speaker, for registration as a requirement before a party, a district association or a non-affiliated candidate could accept contributions. It would make it illegal to accept contributions for political activity without being registered as a provincial party or district association or a party candidate or a non-affiliated candidate.

It goes further, Mr. Speaker, and puts, then, limits on contributions to registered parties, district associations or non-affiliated candidates. In any calendar year, an individual may not contribute more than $2,500, or a corporation or trade union cannot contribute more that $10,000 to any political party, and, Mr. Speaker, the Chief Electoral Officer will have the means of policing and strictly enforcing those limitations. That would be the limit on the basic annual contribution, and then, in any year in which a general election were held, a similar contribution could be made for the election, itself.

So, Mr. Speaker, it provides for adequate funding. It does not really unfairly inhibit the parties or limit their ability to raise funds to carry on their normal political activity, but it puts it under strict regulation.

As well, Mr. Speaker, we want to make sure that you cannot avoid the consequences of the Act by getting individuals or corporations to contribute goods or services or anything else in lieu of it, because if you do, then the value of those goods and services would be calculated and taken into account in terms of application of the limits. Regulation of fund raising activities such as suppers, dances, garden parties and so on, will also be provided, because you do not want to be able to subvert the process by any means whatsoever.

There will also be strict accounting procedures. Political parties and their district associations and all of the individuals and campaign managers, and so on, would be required to issue receipts for all contributions in excess of $100, and all contributions in excess of $100 would be required to be by way of cheque or bank draft or something that leaves a written, independent record of the contribution. The old days of contributing the dollars in terms of cash to political parties is gone forever, Mr. Speaker, or will be gone forever when this legislation goes through. So it would require the issuing of receipts for any sum in excess of $100 and a prohibition against accepting any amount in excess of $100 in the form of cash.

It would also provide, Mr. Speaker, that advertising by registered parties and district associations and non-affiliated candidates, could only occur during the twenty-eight or thirty days before the eve of the election. There would be no public advertising during the day before the election or on election day, but the limitation would be twenty-eight or thirty days before - I think it includes the eve of the election. I would have to check the detail, I believe we take it right to the day before the election. There is no advertising on election day. It does allow for right up to the day before the election for such advertising, but it also prohibits such advertising starting before twenty-eight or thirty days before polling day, so it controls it.

It provides for the appointment of auditors and so on to audit the accounts of political parties and their district associations, to provide for the annual filing of audited statements before 1 April with the chief electoral officers. These must include statements of assets, liabilities, income and expenses from the previous year. Within six months of any election similar statements are required with respect to that election. It is going to regulate it, control it, and put it beyond question that the running of political parties in this Province is above board and honest. We also suggest, Mr. Speaker, that there be limits on election expenses of registered parties for a general election in the amount of $2.00 per registered elector and in by-elections to $3.00. I am sorry. We have done it slightly differently. We have provided for $3.00 per elector but we have provided for limits of $20,000 per district in the case of a general election and $30,000 in the case of a by-election. Everybody knows that in the case of a by-election you have to mount sort of a general campaign in addition to the specific so that the limit, while still a maximum of $3.00 per elector, it cannot exceed $30,000. The same limits apply in the same way to registered district associations and non-affiliated candidates. Mr. Speaker, we also intend to provide for adjustment of these dollar limits on the basis of the consumer price index so that once the legislation is put in place it is not necessary to go back and revisit it every three or four years to make a major adjustment due to the effects of inflation. We are providing for an adjustment to reflect inflation operating on the assumption that the figures we have put forward now are ones that are acceptable.

I hasten to add, Mr. Speaker, that we intend today to address the question of the principle of this legislation, but we intend also to refer the specifics that are contained within it to the committee on elections and privileges to conduct a fairly thorough assessment of it. It may well be that we may be convinced that the limits might be cut back to $2.90 instead of $3.00 per electorate or maybe increased to $3.10 per electorate instead of $3.00. In any event, Mr. Speaker, we think those numbers we are suggesting are reasonable numbers. We are also proposing, Mr. Speaker, bearing in mind what we are doing here, to protect the overall public interest we are limiting funds that political parties and political candidates, independent of parties, can raise. We are putting strict limits on what they can do and that we believe is in the public interest.

We believe therefore that the public should also take some responsibility to ensure that serious candidates have an adequate level of funding available to them, and for that reason we are proposing that a portion of the election expenses be provided out of public funds. So, wherever any district association candidate, or non-affiliated candidate receives at least 15 per cent of the popular vote, or they are elected by acclamation, one third of the maximum amount, if you take the number of electors and multiply by $3.00, one third of that maximum amount or the actual expenses, whichever is the lesser. If, for example, a candidate is elected by acclamation and they only spend $1000, well then the party is not going to get one third of $30,000 if that was the limit for the district. It is only going to get the $1000 actually expended, so it is the lesser of the amount actually expended or one third of the maximum. We think this is a fair price for the public generally to pay to ensure that all parties can be fairly represented.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the things of which we are somewhat proud because this ensure that opposition parties as well get a fair basic allotment of funds available to enable them to contest elections and not just governing parties which would generally speaking find it easier to raise funds.

MR. SIMMS: Who is that payable to, will that be to the associations (inaudible)?

PREMIER WELLS: No, each electoral district, the district association that runs it, is what is being proposed. Mr. Speaker, during the committee there may be better procedures, and any procedures to better control it I am sure would be welcomed by the network of officials that developed these ideas, but the idea is the district association must run the campaign. The idea also is to keep the individual political candidate out of the finances as much as it can possibly be done, because we think that is important to let the district association of the party that the candidate represents do it, or the financial agent for a non-affiliated candidate, to give them the primary responsibility and keep the individual candidate, as much as possible, out of the raising of funds or any involvement with the management of funds. We think that this is a positive as well. Mr. Speaker, we are also providing for a strict definition of offenses, and very severe penalties for breaches of those statutory provisions.

The second aspect, in terms of a measure of public responsibility, as the quid pro quo for the kinds of restrictions we will be now placing on the raising of funds by political parties, we are also suggesting that Newfoundland follow the practice under the federal statute, under the New Brunswick statute, under the Ontario and other statutes, and provide for tax credits of 75 per cent on amounts of $100 or less; seventy-five dollars plus 50 per cent of contributions between $100 and $550; and $300 plus one-third of amounts exceeding $550 but in no case can the tax credit exceed $500. So there is an absolute limit of $500 on the tax credit.

We believe, Mr. Speaker, this will also facilitate the fair funding by a broader base of contributors so that political parties are less dependent on big unions or big corporations for their funding, and that individuals will contribute to the political process, and so that political parties will feel a greater sense of commitment to individuals rather than to major financiers like major unions and major corporations and so on. We think, Mr. Speaker, that this is important and that this is a fair public price to be paid for having that kind of independence of major contributors. We think it is important to the overall political process - not just important to the Liberal party - we think it is important to the total democratic process, to put these kinds of changes in place.

The other thing we have provided, Mr. Speaker, is that there will be an advisory committee comprised of the chief electoral officer and two representatives of each registered political party that fielded candidates in twenty-six districts in the most recent general election. I see some members counting their fingers in the House to see - but I think all three parties today represented in the House fielded candidates in more than twenty-six. So in that kind of a situation, even though there was only one member in the House of Assembly from one particular party, under these rules that particular party would be entitled to also have an equal representation-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) by-election.

PREMIER WELLS: The hon. member is quite right. That was a by-election. In the previous general election is what this says. Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, we would have to give some thought to that, I suppose.

The principle is that where you are dealing with a serious political party that makes - well they fielded; it did not matter who they elected, it just says fielded; whether they elected any or not does not matter, so that party would be entitled to two representatives along with the Liberal party that fielded candidates in every district and won as many as we did, with a sense of fairness and balance we are providing for that kind of equal representation. It might be called, Mr. Speaker, the 'electoral senate' with equal representation from each of the parties. But the idea, Mr. Speaker, is that that committee would advise the House and members generally on election matters - would bring forward matters to be dealt with in the House.

The final point I want to make, Mr. Speaker, is that the objective of this legislation is really to not only ensure that there is fair treatment for the political process, without regard to whether the party is in opposition, or in Government, or sort of more or less on a fringe with only one member in the House of Assembly, that there has to be fair opportunity for all credible political parties in the Province to have access to the electoral process without any undue pressures. That is a commitment, Mr. Speaker, that the Liberal party made during the election campaign, and a commitment that we are happy today to honour when we present this legislation.

But the primary benefit is the restoration of public confidence in the electoral process. For one reason or other, some of it based on good reason, some of it based on unfair aspersions that are from time to time cast by one group on another. For one reason or another, the general public does not have a high level of confidence in the fairness of the electoral process, or I may say in the honesty of the electoral process. Well, part of the objective of this is to restore that level of confidence that has been lost in recent years -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - because we think, Mr. Speaker, that this is the proper thing to do in terms of providing for future parliamentary government in this Province.

Finally, before I sit down, I should confess also that these ideas are not solely from the Head of Liberals or the Liberal party. I have to be honest enough to confess that some of it has been copied from other jurisdictions. Much of it is copied from the federal jurisdiction because we felt that not only should we not waste time trying to reinvent the wheel, we should act with a level of confidence that what we were proposing had a good chance of being successful. So we looked around at the Federal act, at the Ontario statute, at the New Brunswick statute, and we took what we considered to be the best from it and rejected that which we felt would not work. For example, one of the things that we rejected, but in fact was considered: New Brunswick has a system whereby the provincial treasury pays an annual amount to each party in order to provide its basic core funding, and provides these kinds of restrictions and limitations. We felt, Mr. Speaker, that that was too big a jump to be going to at this stage, particularly in the circumstances in which Government finds itself in today. So we did not include that even though New Brunswick does, in fact, have that and has similar kinds of restrictions to those which we have put in here. We have put, for the most part, pretty well all the restrictions in, but we did not go so far as to provide for annual funding although we considered the proposal and it was rejected. I do not know whether it will come up during discussions in the committee stage or not, but I have to tell the House that we decided not to go with that kind of a proposal. For the most part, many of these proposals are tried and true, but there is some innovation in them.

Mr. Speaker, I am satisfied that if this bill receives the approval of the House, and the committee has the good sense to leave it substantially in the form in which it has been presented by the Cabinet - I hope they will, substantially in the same form - I think that Newfoundland will be the leader in the nation in terms of the quality of its election law.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, that is something that the entire House, all sides of the House, could take a great degree of pride in because I cannot think of any area where we can take more pride in leading the nation than in fair and balanced electoral processing.

Mr. Speaker, I implore the House to give the bill early passage, early approval in principle, and ask the committee to do their work fairly diligently and quickly so that we can bring this legislation into effect fairly soon, and have it come into effect in time to allow the election office officials to prepare for the next general election which, as I say, give or take a few months one way or the other is a year and a half or so down the road. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased that the Premier is here today to introduce this reform, and that his members listened attentively. They do not seem to do that when the Premier is not around. So for that reason

I am delighted -


MR. WINSOR: This is the way they behave, Mr. Premier, when you're not here.

MR. SIMMS: That is the way they usually are, I say to the Premier, that is the way they usually are when he is not here. I do not know why they are doing it now except perhaps to show - something. I do not know what.

Just a question. There are a lot of questions. First of all, I commend the Premier and the Government for introducing this initiative. I have to say, regrettably, that our administration, the one in which I was a part, did not get as far with our electoral reform as I would have hoped they might have.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, it was hardly an issue over which I would resign. But I can tell the hon. minister that I would have preferred that something had proceeded at that time. But it did not, and so I regret that. But that is history, that is water under the bridge, so I commend the Government for the initiative they have introduced here today. I think we all recognize, with the cynicism that exists out there in the public these days towards politicians and politics in general, any initiative, any reform such as this, would have to be more than welcome. Certainly by all of us who sit in an elected capacity in a Legislature.

Now I am not quite certain - I have a number of general comments that I want to make on the Premier's remarks, and then I have some specific points that I want to make with respect to some specific parts of the legislation.

First of all, I am not sure how the process will work, unless we do it by agreement or understanding. Because my understanding of what our House Leader tells me is that the intention is that we would have a debate today on second reading - approval in principle, the three Parties - and then, presumably it will be sent out to the Election and Privileges Committee, chaired by the Member for Eagle River, who incidentally announced - he must be grasping for press -I heard on the CBC headline news this morning from Goose Bay that the Member for Eagle River had been appointed chairman of the committee to analyze the election legislation. He had been appointed, as far I knew, a couple of years ago, to the best of my knowledge of the Committee. But anyway. I do not know who sent the release out. Anyway, that is irrelevant. It is a very minor point.

So if the committee then brings back its recommendations to the Legislature, to the House, presumably it will be in the new session of the House - February, whenever the new session of the House convenes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, I mean, the committee will not have had time to deal with the matter, let's face it. Presumably the Premier wants the committee to hear the views of the public and particularly in this particular bill. So it will not come back till next spring sometime when the House reopens for the new session. So there is a technicality?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not necessarily.

MR. SIMMS: Not necessarily. Well, I am asking now. I am trying to find out what the procedure is. Because otherwise we need some kind of an agreement.

PREMIER WELLS: What the House Leader is saying is that this present session can continue another sitting in January or February or March, and have a new session subsequent to that.

MR. SIMMS: Right. But when will the committee deal with it?

AN HON. MEMBER: In the meantime.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, over January or February or whatever.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) the next month or two (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Okay. In any event, if the House is prorogued and the new session occurs, then obviously the bill would have to be re-introduced. That is the only point I am trying to make.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) formality.

MR. SIMMS: Well, except then you open it up for second reading debate again and -

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) reasonable Members on both sides of the House that should be no problem.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I cannot speak for everybody on this side of the House. If this legislation opens up a major debate and controversy I do not know what might occur next spring. I am just making the point because we should be aware of it. Because I would not want to see us go through a second reading debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes. Now, a few other things that the Premier mentioned in his remarks. He talked about a free vote. I am sorry, he did not talk about a free vote, he talked about a resolution being introduced into the Legislature to endorse the new CEO, Chief Electoral Officer, who presumably will be a Government nominee, naturally. One would expect nothing less.

MR. MATTHEWS: You would not think so.

MR. SIMMS: The question I would like him to answer, and I do not know when he is going to answer all these questions but they will come up in due course, is, whether or not that motion will be by a free vote. Would that be a free vote? I mean if he is going to talk about a reform and everything else, and we are going to bring in a resolution to endorse a candidate for the position of say, just for argument's sake, what is his name, the fellow who ran in Mount Pearl ?

AN HON. MEMBER: Gordon Seabright.

MR. SIMMS: Say if Gordon Seabright, a former magistrate who had some credentials in this area, just for argument's sake, was brought into the Legislature and proposed by the Government as the nominee for the Chief Electoral Officer, will there be a free vote among - is that the Premier's reform, is he talking about a free vote among all Members of the House on that particular resolution?

PREMIER WELLS: I have not given it any thought.

MR. SIMMS: Okay, well I will throw it out to the Premier as a suggestion, because I think he said he intends to do it rather quickly, presumably before the House adjourns for Christmas. I had the impression distinctly that he was moving that quickly, I do not know, maybe I misread him but that is what I thought he was saying. The other thing is of course that, while I endorse that approach and have no real difficulty with it, the thought crossed my mind, if it were somebody with whom some members in the House, for example, had some harsh criticism or some tough questions to ask about the individual and so on, with the powers in this new legislation, given to the Chief Electoral Officer, the CEO, I mean there are members who might very well be concerned about future discrimination shall we say. I mean, you know, it is the thought -

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) you have to think it out.

MR. SIMMS: You have to think it out, it is a thought and I say to members opposite, there is an extremely large amount of power given to the new Chief Electoral Officer in this bill. Perhaps they have not read it, but I mean you should read the bill, so I just throw that out. There might be some concerns there and there may be another way to do it, I do not know.

He also mentioned the reform of extending the time period of a general election to thirty days, I think it is the bill says, and he said maybe twenty-eight, whatever the committee recommends. I think that is a good reform, I have no difficulty with that whatsoever but, I say to the Premier, I wonder if he had given any thought about going one step further. I wonder if he had thought about going one step further, just a thought, if it had been discussed, because this is reform and the Premier is very proud of this initiative and so he should be, but I wonder if we are going to extend it to thirty days or twenty-eight days for an election, I wonder would he go one step further and suggest, or think about perhaps for real reform, setting a date for an election, like every four and a half years or four years or five years or whatever it might be.

AN HON. MEMBER: United States (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: You would have to change the whole constitution of the Province. I guess I would be prepared to consider that in the context of the change of the structure of Government in the Province but not maintain the structure of Government and do it in the Election Act, that would be most inappropriate.

MR. SIMMS: Most inappropriate.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, but basically in overall constitutional reform, yes, I would be quite prepared to consider it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Would you do that?

MR. SIMMS: In other words, it will not be looked at, I do not suppose, but -

PREMIER WELLS: Well, it cannot work with our present constitutional structure.

MR. SIMMS: It cannot?

PREMIER WELLS: No, it cannot.

MR. SIMMS: It cannot.


MR. SIMMS: We could not say that we would have an election in this Province on the first Tuesday of September every four years, or whatever?

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) a couple of minutes, why. It is fairly simple. We maintain and operate under the British Parliamentary tradition of the responsibility of the Cabinet to the House.

MR. SIMMS: Right.

PREMIER WELLS: Now, when the Cabinet or the Government loses the confidence of the majority of the House, it must resign and an election is called, so if you schedule election for a rigid fixed time, you lose the sense of Parliamentary responsibility. No longer can a Government be defeated, so a Government that no longer enjoys the confidence of the House cannot be defeated, it can go to the fixed term, so that cannot work in our present system. Now if we want to alter the Parliamentary System and provide for fixed election, fixed term, I would be most willing to consider that. But all I am saying is you cannot mix apples and turnips, they are that different. You have to make the greater adjustment.

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

MR. SIMMS: That is true. Well, Mr. Speaker, you cannot mix apples and turnips, you cannot mix apples and oranges, but, the fact of the matter is, he has said that we could do it if we wanted to do it.

PREMIER WELLS: If you want to change the Constitution, yes.

MR. SIMMS: Yes. Okay. So I am asking him if he had considered that. That was my question.

PREMIER WELLS: Not in this context.

MR. SIMMS: Did he consider it? Give it any thought at all? Is it worthy of any consideration? Is it worthy of thought?

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, but not in the context of amending the existing Election Act. We have to continue for the provision of the parliamentary system as it is at the moment.

MR. SIMMS: So you would not want to see it changed.

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, I would not mind.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I would be quite prepared to discuss it. But I think we ought to have it consistent with the rest of the provinces of Canada. We have a reasonably consistent system.

MR. SIMMS: I think for a real reform and stepping forward and all those kinds of things, and making the major changes, you know. This is what he wants to be remembered for. That is why I am throwing it all out.

PREMIER WELLS: It may happen.

MR. SIMMS: There are probably some ideas you have not even thought about. Now, Mr. Speaker, the principle of the legislation is one that we can all support. The principle being to reform the electoral process. I think we all recognize that for some time now that has been needed in this Province, as I guess it has in other jurisdictions. In fact our Party as a Party initiated some rather innovative ideas with respect to our recent leadership process -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, despite the fact that I was the only candidate. But that was irrelevant. The rules were set down before candidates had announced. In that process for the first time for any political party in this Province, by the way - and that is something that we were proud of, something that we were very proud of - for the first time in the political process in this Province a political Party set down some stringent rules and guidelines. All the things that - or many of the things that we talk about in this legislation, where the candidate had to report the value of goods and services given to him, had to give regular reports to the electoral officer in charge of the leadership process -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: The NDP are down there saying - I do not know who is pointing to who. Talking about the leadership process that we had in our Party where we initiated -

MR. HARRIS: We had it before you guys.

MR. SIMMS: You did?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh well, congratulations. Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of their process. I do not know if anybody in the Province is. But nevertheless -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh, the Member for Gander is. Nevertheless, we did bring in some very strict guidelines. It required us during the leadership process to report to our chief electoral officer on a regular basis with written reports. It required us to show the donations, it required us to identify those who donated. It required us to identify all of our expenditures. These reports were available to the general public. Anybody who wanted to go into our chief electoral officer, or our Party's office, and pay fifty cents or something like that, a nominal fee, they were allowed to look at it.

So I am not sure if the NDP had all of that. Because I do not remember ever seeing any kind of suggestions where a lot of their donations may have come from. I do not remember ever seeing any of that. But that is available under our Party's guidelines and rules, Mr. Speaker.

My point is that we as a Party have already moved in that direction and we recognize the need for electoral reform, be it internally - with respect to a Party's leadership race - or be it with respect to a Provincial general election. As I said, I think it is badly needed because of the cynicism that does exist out there in our Province today, not only in our Province but in our jurisdiction, where people have a tremendous mistrust of politicians and politics in general. That is a sad commentary I guess on our society, in the sense that we have not been able to overcome that. All of us as elected Members have to do everything we can in our power to do just that, and this is a step in that direction. These are the kinds of things that have to be done I think in order to give the people some reason to believe once again in the process, in the system, and in their elected representatives. But I am afraid we have a long way to go yet. But this is a good move in that direction.

Now I do not intend to speak at length today because it is after all a debate on the bill in principle. There are some points that I do want to make. A number of concerns, I guess. Indeed, I would like to comment on some of the sections in the bill, asking questions perhaps, and add some comments, in the hope that the Legislative Committee will listen to them and review them thoroughly, and I am sure they will.

One of the things I want to point out right at the outset early in my remarks is that it is my intention to move, at the appropriate time, an amendment, unless the committee does so, to section 265 (1)(e): an amendment to the definition of contribution. That is the section I think that I would like to see amended so that it would include monies or salaries paid to the leader of any political party from private sources - if that is an acceptable practice. This would be money paid for a salary or whatever to induce that person to seek or become leader of a party. If that was an acceptable practice, then there should be some provision made where that is disclosed publicly.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it there already?

MR. SIMMS: Well it is not there, Mr. Speaker, because the problem is all you have is disclosure of the party itself making some contribution. I am talking about a specific contribution made to any leader of any political party to induce them to seek the leadership of their party for favours later on. That is the perception that might exist. Now the Premier should not get too touchy about it. I am not just talking about his situation or anything else, I am talking about anybody's situation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, I do not believe that it is. We have had lawyers look at it, and we are advised that it is not clear enough, so we will be proposing some -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: You are playing games (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Why are we playing games? Because we raised something that is as sensitive as that? I thought the Premier and the Government wanted to talk about reform. As soon as you mention a reform they get very sensitive and touchy about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I am not playing games. I am making a legitimate argument for an amendment to a section in the legislation that I do not think is fair enough.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well I do not think it is. If the member opposite wants to think it is, that is fine, but I do not know why he would be afraid of clarifying it even greater.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, I was not suggesting that. Well, we have some legal advice that suggests it is not there, Mr. Speaker.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of items that I would like to draw to the attention of Your Honour, and to the committee, in fact, that will be reviewing this bill. Section 269, for example, deals with the powers and duties of the Chief Electoral Officer, and that shows, if you read through that section, that a considerable amount of discretion is given to the Chief Electoral Officer. All through the section you see the use of subjective language for the most part.

Subsection (2) of 269 allows the CEO, for example, to conduct examinations, investigations of financial records of the parties, of the local district associations, of the candidates, and provides the CEO conduct audits where he or she considers it necessary. Pretty broad powers for the CEO, particularly, Mr. Speaker, if you are giving even more powers to the CEO, and you will find that in all kinds of other parts of the legislation as you go through it. I think, frankly, and I hope the committee will look at the use of the language, I understand that a lot of this was mirrored on the federal legislation and other jurisdictions, but I think the use of such subjective language, as you see all throughout the legislation, creates the potential for abuses of such wide discretion as has been given to the CEO in this particular case.

Mr. Speaker, there are other items in here, of course, that create some problems. You will note also, by the way, that I have not made reference to the first two parts of the legislation. I think the Premier went through those fairly thoroughly in his introductory remarks, and for the most part they basically cover procedural aspects of an election from preparing the voters lists to the proceedings at the polls, and the counting of the votes, and all those kinds of items, and as well election offenses and controverted elections, all those kinds of things are described. So Parts I and II, in my estimation, at least, appear to fairly consolidate the current legislation that does exist around the Province, and does not really seem to create a lot of controversy -not that I have seen thus far. You have to remember, Mr. Speaker, that this is a bill that contains 337 sections, and there are 135 pages to the bill, so the committee has a lot of work to do to be able to go through this particular piece of legislation thoroughly. But as a general comment, as I said, the first two parts are not the parts that I have concerns with. Nor do I have major concerns with Parts IV and V. The most significant change of course, as the Premier pointed out, to Bill 55, is the addition of Part III on election finances.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk a little more about the kinds of things a CEO could do - could do - and that is the reason why I would like to see some of the language changed. If you used the words 'acting reasonably' or using the word itself 'reasonably', maybe that would help to ensure that the CEO's actions in the future are not unfair, or could not be unduly onerous, or could not be discriminatory in any way, because it gives the CEO very broad powers, in my view. I am only a lay person, and I-

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) we want to make sure that he has the power, or she has the power to enforce (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I understand that, and I do not disagree with the principle of making sure that the CEO has the ability to do what is foreseen in the legislation. My concern is, Mr. Speaker, that it may go a little too far, and that it may give too much discretionary power to this individual. The CEO for example, could be required to have some sort of independent committee, or the advice of some sort of independent committee, before ordering an audit, or before exercising the other broad discretionary powers that you find in the legislation. Maybe there could be some requirement that the CEO confer with some other outside persons - something written into the legislation - because while it is most unlikely, I agree, I think the potential does exist for some abuse, not necessarily by the CEO but maybe by the political party, particularly the party that is controlling the Legislature at the time. I think there is potential there for abuse, at the time of the appointment of the CEO.

I do not think any political party would want a situation where there could be harassment. I do not think any political party would want to see that by the continuous auditing, for example, of opposition parties, if the Premier gets my drift. My drift is, if the CEO has the powers that are contained in the legislation now with the words as they are, then there may be some concern that the governing party might use some undue influence to ensure, because of the way the wording is of the powers of the CEO-

PREMIER WELLS: The CEO could just as easily harass the Government party.

MR. SIMMS: Well, it is not very likely, because the CEO is the nominee of the Government. Let us not forget it.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well it is.

PREMIER WELLS: Government can change.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, I agree with you - probably a year and a half from now, I suspect.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: No, well we will see. I say to the Premier, he is the one who should not hold his breath. Mr. Speaker, he reminds me of the former Premier. He reminds me of the former, former Premier as a matter of fact, in the dying days of that administration when members of the Government, including myself, were gloating day after day, laughing and making all kinds of fun at the Premier when he was Leader of the Opposition. I am sure the Premier remembers it better than anybody else, and it is very reminiscent of those days, what we see here in the last six or eight months.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh, I see. I see. Well, as long as the Premier keeps saying that, because that is precisely what the former Premier used to say, and it is precisely what his former ministers used to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Exactly, I just said. I just said I was one of them. The Minister of Forestry should wake up. He would have heard what I had to say.

Mr. Speaker, section 270 of the legislation also illustrates, once again, the broad powers, that I am trying to zero in on, given to the Chief Electoral Officer. Under section 271, the CEO can enter a premises to inspect books, papers, and records. All I am suggesting is that some wording should be introduced that says reasonable time should be defined - some words to define reasonable time because under subsection 2, the CEO can obtain a warrant to enter and search the premises and copy documents. Members opposite may not be aware of all of that.

PREMIER WELLS: But obtaining a warrant means going to court.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier is either ignoring, or not paying any attention to, is the fact that the CEO has been given police powers. That is what he has been given - he would agree with that - powerful police powers, there is no question about that, Mr. Speaker. As I said earlier, and what I am trying to say throughout my comments is that, given the extent of these powers, because they are so broad - and this is just another example of it in section 271 - there has to be some kind of a check on the CEO's discretion.


MR. SIMMS: And that is my point, but it isn't there now.

PREMIER WELLS: It is there in subsection 2 that requires him to obtain a warrant from a provincial court judge.

MR. SIMMS: No. You might say it is also there under the section that deals with an advisory committee, as well, but that is not strong enough. I don't think that is enough.

There are a lot of things, Mr. Speaker, that are being imposed, in this legislation, upon the local district associations. And that is where we have to realize this legislation will have the most effect, on the local district associations. While I agree we need reforms, and while I agree there has to be some control over what is occurring, let's not bring in legislation that is going to discourage people from participating at the grass roots level in the democratic process. Let's not cut off our noses to spite our faces, by bringing in these major, major powers. Because that is what you see throughout the legislation.

Section 274 (2)(c) is another issue altogether. That section purports to limit the registration of political parties, and prevents the creation of new political parties unless the parties nominate candidates in thirteen districts, I think it is, or provide a list of 1,000 persons who will vote for that party.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who are eligible to vote.

MR. SIMMS: Eligible to vote, yes. But you have to provide a list of 1,000 persons, right?

If there are smaller parties that might want to spring up in the future, and may not be able to get registered, for example, maybe the number should be cut down. That is all I am asking. Where did the number 1,000 come from?

AN HON. MEMBER: Only twenty people in a district.

MR. SIMMS: Where did the number 1,000 come from, though? Is it an arbitrary number?

PREMIER WELLS: You are talking about a political party, and if you are going to recognize it and give it standing as a political party in the Province, it has to be of some provincial substance. Frankly, I think 1,000 is relatively small. Maybe it should be more than that. I mean, dealing with giving it standing as a party of substance in the Province and giving it certain rights and entitlement, you have to have something of substance, not just something that any one individual can bang together with a group of other friends for a lark on a weekend. You have to have something of substance. I think it is a very low standard now.

MR. SIMMS: But where did the number come from? Does the Premier know where the number came from?

PREMIER WELLS: No, but I will find out.

MR. SIMMS: I just wondered where it came from. Is it an arbitrary number, or just some number that is picked out of the air?

PREMIER WELLS: We considered the issue, and felt that it was a relatively low standard.

MR. SIMMS: You know, I thought maybe 500 would be a figure, as well, that might be just as reasonable.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what they are worried about.

MR. SIMMS: Pardon? That is what I am worried about? Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not worried about that at all.

Section 281 restricts contributors to corporations, trade unions, and natural persons. Section 291 seems to allow contributions by unincorporated associations, but the association must keep records of all the sources of the contribution. Why does the Act ignore other business forms, like partnerships, or limited partnerships, and so on? Is there any particular reason for that?

PREMIER WELLS: They are persons. Partnerships are made up of persons.

MR. SIMMS: But they are also a business form. You identify business forms. So it is included in natural persons, is that what he is saying?

PREMIER WELLS: Are John Jones and Mary Smith acting and trading under the firm name partnership of John's and Mary's Boutique? It is the individuals, they are the individuals.

MR. SIMMS: So, it is under natural persons.

PREMIER WELLS: They are natural persons.

MR. SIMMS: That is the interpretation the Premier puts on it.

MR. HODDER: When you say that, normally you would say partnerships. When you see things of that nature you normally see partnerships.

MR. SIMMS: You identify corporations and trade unions. All I am asking is, why wouldn't you also identify partnerships or limited partnerships or whatever? But he has given the answer, in his view it is already covered.

MR. HODDER: He is probably correct, but normally, you wouldn't put it that way.

MR. SIMMS: The other section I want to deal with is section 283, which is the provision - I think, actually, the Premier may have touched on it and I didn't quite hear what he said. But it limits contribution by individuals -

PREMIER WELLS: Under what section?

MR. SIMMS: Section 283.

- to $2,500 a year, and corporations and trade unions to $10,000 a year. Did he say that in a general election year that contribution would, in essence, or could be, in essence, doubled?

PREMIER WELLS: Subsection 2: "In a campaign period for a general election, in addition to the contributions permitted by subsection (1), the total value of all contributions shall not exceed...," and then you see the same amounts again. So, effectively, for a year, if 1993 is going to be an election year, the basic funding for contributions to parties for that year can be made, and then a separate amount for the election, itself.

MR. SIMMS: Okay. Section 285 limits the contributions from the federal party to $1,000 for each candidate during a campaign period. I am not sure that would make much difference to our party. In fact, I don't know if we get contributions to individual candidates. I don't believe we do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) on Sunday morning.

MR. SIMMS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: The (inaudible) was made on Sunday morning.

MR. SIMMS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $500 a plate.

MR. SIMMS: Well, that would be hard, because the plate is not until Monday night. So you couldn't do it Sunday morning. I wasn't quite sure what the member was getting at. We will get contributions, there is no doubt about that. The question I am asking: Is this unfair for example, does the Premier consider that $1,000 limitation perhaps unfair to those who have to canvass districts that are much more difficult to canvass geographically than, say, members sitting in the St. John's, Grand Falls or Gander seats or something? Again, does this mirror some other legislation?

PREMIER WELLS: This is not - it is in the aggregate. It is total amount, so it is not individually. So, in effect, it is a maximum of $52,000 if the party is running candidates in all fifty-two districts. It is $52,000, regardless of where it is spent.

MR. SIMMS: Okay. So it is (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: It is in the aggregate.

MR. SIMMS: The funding would be for the party, then.


MR. SIMMS: Not for the individual candidates.

PREMIER WELLS: That is what it says. It is the total amount, whether it is assigned to an individual candidate - they could spend it all, well, up to the limit for -

MR. SIMMS: Okay.

PREMIER WELLS: They could spend it all on two candidates.

MR. SIMMS: What about Section 287 then, about the imposition of a requirement for publishers to keep separate records of political advertisements for a period of two years - twenty-four months? This is sort of an additional expense, I would foresee, for publishers.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) records for income tax purposes six years or something after the event. But the purpose of this, you will see, there are other provisions in it, preventing publishers and broadcasters from dinging political parties during an election campaign when they figure they have them on the hook, socking them with the high price and increasing the advertising rates by 40 per cent or 50 per cent, as members of this House have been known to encounter in the past. There is a prohibition in there against that, and this is a means of policing it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good stuff, I tell you.

MR. SIMMS: This is all very good stuff, Mr. Speaker.

Section 288 puts a cap of $50 on expenses for fund-raising events. Anything beyond that, I think, it is considered a contribution. The only question I ask - and it is not really a serious or important one - Is there any reason why $50 was arrived at? Is it just an arbitrary number? Could there be a provision which says that the organizers of the function might be able to argue that the actual expenses, really, per person is $90 or something like that? Is there any reason why that was - or is this a game or something?

PREMIER WELLS: My guess is, it is copied from some other jurisdiction, that it is a standard fee.

MR. SIMMS: Okay, that is what I was hoping. I wanted to raise the issue, more for the committee, because hopefully somebody might have some suggestions to make with respect to all of these items, and many others that are there. If they go through the legislation they will find there are lots of questions that can be asked.

Let me see if there is anything else here that I want to touch on today.

The CEO can subsidize the cost of an auditor to the district associations under Section 304 (9), I think it is, and the question that has been thrown out - I think the amount in the legislation is $250? - we just wondered whether or not that is a very low amount in comparison to what the actual cost might be for an auditor to do an audit. I don't know what auditors would charge, probably $1,000 or something? I don't know.

PREMIER WELLS: It should be a fairly limited audit, and we have to leave some responsibility to the political parties in their processes, too. This is in an effort to make sure that each district association, to the extent that is necessary to audit individually, that it can be done and there is a basic level of funding there to achieve it. If we just had it subsidized to any amount, you would find the audit fees for that kind of thing would just (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I was not suggesting to any amount, but I was suggesting that maybe the amount might be a bit low in comparison to what the cost is likely to be.

PREMIER WELLS: Keep the cost under control, and it may well be during debate in the committee that you will be able to justify increasing it to $255 or $300.

MR. SIMMS: Perhaps they will have a look at it, Mr. Speaker, and that is the only reason I raise all of these issues, as a matter of fact, because it is all in principle today; it is not in detail.

PREMIER WELLS: So you give your basic support for the proposition.

MR. SIMMS: Oh yes, I basically support it in principle, but there are some questions that we would like to ask.

Mr. Speaker, the biggest concern I have about the legislation is that it does impose some pretty heavy burdens on local district political party associations, some pretty onerous responsibilities there right now, and I hope, and I am sure, members opposite and members of the New Democratic Party and their local district association, provincial associations, will make some representations, because I am not so sure that mirroring legislation that exists in Canada, and, indeed, in other jurisdictions, necessarily is the best legislation for us here in our own Province. We have to look at that, and I think that is one area where probably this bill needs closer scrutiny, because I am not sure that a lot of the specifics contained in this legislation are really appropriate for Newfoundland and Labrador. I only make that comment in a general way, because it does put an onerous responsibility and a lot of burden on the local district associations. Some members, I suspect, do not even have local district associations.

AN HON. MEMBER: Never did.

MR. SIMMS: Well, perhaps not on your side, but what about the ones -

MR. HODDER: For years I didn't have a district association.

MR. SIMMS: Well, there are members who do not have them. Forget the member sitting over there. What about the seats where you do not hold - do you have a district association in every single one?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: And they are all really active in every single one of them - every single one?

AN HON. MEMBER: In Torngat Mountains, there is not.

MR. SIMMS: There is no association in Torngat Mountains of any credibility, apparently, but I am just making the point. St. Mary's - The Capes does not have a very active Liberal association, I am told.

My point is, you may have that exist. That may very well exist, and if there are going to be responsibilities like this placed on the local associations, then every member in this House had better understand thoroughly what is in this legislation because believe me it is something like we ain't seen ever before. That is the only warning I want to sound. I ask the committee to have a close look at that, because I would not want to see something brought on to discourage the grass roots people from participating in the electoral process. I really would not want to see that, and maybe there will be reasons for the committee to look at representations that suggest some of this should be changed or eased off on some sections here or there, or whatever. But, generally, we support the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the general principle associated with this bill, and I want to commend the Premier on bringing the bill forward. It brings about modernization in our legislation, and deals with some matters that had been inadequately deal with before.

I say it is something that we welcome because we have been asking for this for many years. We know that when the former government was in power, and the leader of the New Democratic Party sat in this House representing the District of Menihek - I am told, I was not here, but I am told, every few weeks he was on his feet asking these gentlemen, and lady, Where is the election financing? Where does the money come from? As the hon. the Government House Leader said in a speech the other day, which I will refer to in a moment, 'he who pays the piper calls the tune'. This is a very common phrase heard in electoral circles, when dealing with election financing.

So, Mr. Speaker, we welcome this. I know the Member for Grand Falls, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, must have fought long and hard in Cabinet with his colleagues for this legislation.


MR. HARRIS: And the other members sitting here on this side would not support him. The Member for Harbour Main would not support him, the Member for Grand Bank would not support him -

AN HON. MEMBER: I supported him, yes.

MR. HARRIS: - all the other members here. The Member for Mount Pearl, who sat in the Cabinet, would not support him when he was fighting in Cabinet to get legislation like this brought forward in the House. None of them would support him. So he must have been the lone voice crying in the wilderness of Cabinet hoping to get legislation like this passed. No doubt, if they had a majority there, they would get it passed because we were told that the former Premier, unlike the current Premier, operated a consensus-style Cabinet, and whatever the members of Cabinet wanted, that was what they got.

So I guess, Mr. Speaker, we have to take the hon. the Leader of the Opposition at his word that he fought for this. He wanted it, but somehow or other it just didn't come to pass.

MR. HODDER: He couldn't get enough support, could he?

MR. HARRIS: Well, I guess, as he said about (inaudible) the Premier said, if you wanted to do it, if you had the will, it could have been done, but they did not have the will, Mr. Speaker. They refused to bring forward legislation that would bring about a sense of transparency to the electoral process, particularly in the area of election financing.

MR. SIMMS: It is not the 'electrical' process, it is the electoral process. The member slipped up finally.

MR. HARRIS: Well, we will see what Hansard says. I thought I said electoral.

Mr. Speaker, we have now before us some changes which I support in principle, and our party supports in principle and have been, in fact, insisting upon for a number of years. I think the Tories promised it for ten years, the Liberals only promised it for two, and at least we now have it before the House.

Mr. Speaker, in looking at the legislation, I think there is lots of it that is to be commended. There are some things that I have some concerns about, and I think it is useful that we are having a committee. I hope this committee does deliberate with this legislation for some time, because I think everybody has to have a chance to look at it and go through it. Because each party and each element of the process is affected in different ways by the provisions of this bill.

It is a very important piece of legislation, and I know my words are not as important to the Liberal backbenchers as the Premier, and now that has left the House they feel free to talk and yak amongst themselves. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, it is an important piece of legislation. I think there has to be a recognition, though, that a number of the changes proposed here need careful scrutiny because they do, after all, come from a political source. The Cabinet has considered these regulations and legislation for some months now. We do not know what changes they have made to suit their particular interests. Even though they do not give wholesale support to a Government in office, that much has been changed, we do not know what elements of this legislation are designed to prevent certain things from happening that this particular Government does not want to have happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) discussing interpretation.

MR. HARRIS: Discussing interpretation. Well I do not know how one would interpret things. I think generally speaking there is a concern that we have as the New Democratic Party, and other parties may have, about third party advertising. We have been struggling with that. The last federal election shows that in the last two weeks of the campaign certain well financed individuals and organizations came through with $6, $7, or $10 million. There was $8 or $10 million, I think, spend on third party advertising in the last two weeks of the campaign, all ultimately in support of the Tory Government, and supportive of their free trade policies as opposed to the opposition. Despite 60 per cent of the people voting against free trade we were stuck with it, but I think that third party advertising campaign in the last federal election was very deleterious to the free electoral process.

MR. HODDER: It happened in New Brunswick in their last provincial election that was (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Unlimited money was thrown in.

MR. HARRIS: That is right. And those who have unlimited money are the ones who do it and they are the ones who distort the process for their particular benefit, and are usually well heeled in order to do it. I am going to wonder out loud whether Section 287 needs a little bit more consideration. This is not designed, I hope, Section 287, which talks about where a natural person, corporation, or trade union with the knowledge and consent of a registered party gets involved in advertising or printing leaflets or using outdoor advertising facilities, are supporting or promoting the political party, its policies, or the election of a candidate or opposes another party or the registration of a candidate. Those people who participate in those campaigns will be considered as giving electoral contributions to that party for the purposes of the Elections Act. Now, I do not know, Mr. Speaker, but perhaps the Government had in mind the Clyde Lied campaign as being sponsored by a particular group of individuals in this Province. Maybe they did, maybe they did not. I think we have to look at that because whether it is that campaign or some other campaign, or a pro-free trade campaign, I am told by the Member for Port au Port that in the New Brunswick election there were third party advertisers out there that were distorting the process.

AN HON. MEMBER: So for unlimited gifts for you it is okay but for somebody else it is not?

MR. HARRIS: What I say to the House and to the Speaker is that we have to have a good hard look at exactly what is contained in this bill and what it is designed to do, who it is designed to support and who it is designed to help. I have to say that, Mr. Speaker, because although we have had the Premier take issue on a matter of principle, and this is a matter of principle and it is a good one, that there should be an electoral process that is open, that is fair, that has to be, but I have a concern that there is a double standard that may be at work. We have to look closely because I sense a double standard at work. We heard in the House the other day, and I know the hon. Government House Leader is concerned about this, because he raised it in the House. He gave a comment in the House on Thursday that I find very shocking coming from a person whose Premier is trying to suggest that we ought to make politics and make political activity a more respected profession in this Province and honour people's public contributions to public life in this Province. He repeated those things today but what did he do on Thursday? The Premier, instead of responding to someone's criticism of his policies, which is what was going on, engaged in a personal attack on Richard Cashin.


An argument ad hominem, an argument against the man, his integrity, not against his policies, not against his disagreement. What happened later on in the day? Well, the Government House Leader, the 'Lieutenant', jumped in at five o'clock in the day, to suggest that because Mr. Cashin was a member of the Spicer Commission he was, therefore, beholden to Prime Minister Mulroney. That is what he suggested.

MR. BAKER: Oh, so anybody who contributes (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is what he suggested.

MR. BAKER: When it is for Richard Cashin, it does not work, is that what you are saying?

MR. HARRIS: It has nothing to do with that.

MR. BAKER: It does not work for you guys, it works for everybody else.

MR. HARRIS: We are talking here, Mr. Speaker, about matters of principle. What was suggested here was that because -


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

MR. HARRIS: I know the Government House Leader does not want to hear the rest of what I have to say. I understand that. But what we have happening, Mr. Speaker, is members on that side of the House suggesting that because a certain individual was on a federal royal commission, the Spicer Commission, that he cannot criticize the Government of Canada. Well, Mr. Speaker, I think I heard some of that speech that upset the Premier so much. I believe he said even worse things about the Prime Minister than he said about the Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: You think so?

MR. HARRIS: I think he did. Nevertheless, the Premier could not take it and had to respond by making a personal attack and suggesting, in his own speech - he did not use the figures, he left that for the Government House Leader later on in the day. He did not suggest, as the Government House Leader did at the end of the day, that because he was appointed to a commission he was going to do - 'Who would you listen to,' he says, 'when his buddy appoints him now and then and pays him $800 a day to sit on some commission?' That is what the Government House Leader said.

Now, I suppose, if that is true - he nods his head - maybe the Premier will come and tell us tomorrow or next week that he expects that Peter Boswell is going to do his bidding, because he appointed him to the Constitution Committee at $250 a day, or that Grace Sparkes is going to do his bidding because she is a lapdog of the Premier because she is being paid $250 a day for being on the committee, or that Dorothy Inglis by serving on a committee at the request of the Premier and being paid $250 is going to be a lapdog of the Premier. Is the Premier and the Government House Leader saying that because people agree to serve on public commissions in the public interest that they are lapdogs, that they cannot be independent anymore? Is that what they are suggesting?

MR. SIMMS: Sure it is.

MR. HARRIS: That is what they are suggesting? If that is the approach of the Premier, the Premier who is trying to say that we have -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) Richard Cashin (inaudible) Minister of Fisheries, by the way.

MR. HARRIS: Can't you take a joke?

MR. SIMMS: The Leader announced it.

MR. HARRIS: You were not there, and neither was the reporter who wrote the story.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, he is like Clyde, he is wrong (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, when the Premier and the Government House Leader get up and start talking about matters of principle and then are prepared to attempt to sully peoples' integrity, by virtue of these kinds of comments, I have a certain suspicion about whether or not there is a double standard at work here. I am sure the Premier would not say that, because Grace Sparkes sits on the Constitutional Committee she is going to agree with the Premier and do his bidding at all times. I do not think that is going to happen. So, Mr. Speaker, it is the same double standard that the Premier may apply and that may well be hidden in this. It may well be. So we are going to have to have a close look at these electoral expenses, particularly at how they are designed and who they are designed to protect and who they are designed to hurt.

I think the Premier, if he really wanted to have an open system - we have talked about fairness and balance, how about openness and honesty. Let him dispel the kinds of attacks that are being made in this House, during this sitting, over Government contracts, over the public tendering process. Let him say, as a hallmark of the new approach that this Government is taking, let him disclose to this House the source of the funding for his leadership before he was Premier. Let him table that information, and let's not have the Member for Kilbride suggesting that it is Tom Hickman and that Marco is (inaudible) if it is not true.

MR. SIMMS: How does this act affect Ed Roberts, for example?

MR. HARRIS: Let's see the Premier be open and honest about his own activity. It is all very well to say that the Tories did not bring it in because they wanted to get through another election by being in government, and that is true, and they paid the price.

MR. SIMMS: Their slate is wiped clean now.

MR. HARRIS: Well, it is not quite like that. It has not been wiped clean enough. We are still trying to clean it up a little bit. We are working on it, and we are doing okay so far.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: So, Mr. Speaker, when we look at this legislation we have to look and make sure that there are not double standards -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: If we look to the Premier for leadership on this, we can look to him and to the leadership of being open and revealing to all the members of the House, revealing the Liberal party's source of funds for the supplement to his income prior to him being elected as Premier.

Mr. Speaker, that is not too much to expect, particularly when we are now in this House debating a new elections act which is attempting to bring a level of fairness and openness about the electoral process that we have not had in this Province, and the Province has suffered because of it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we do not need to have the Member for Kilbride getting up in this House and suggesting that the reason that these particular health unit contracts went to a particular company was because they were the source of funds, if it is not true. There is only one group of people that are in a position to clarify that, and that is the Liberal Party and the Premier, and if they do not do that we cannot really take their principles seriously because they are not prepared to show up front what has been going on, and what went on in their own circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, there is a lot of good in this legislation, a lot of changes that are required, but a certain number of worries. I am glad that the contribution limits have been set.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are going to vote against them though aren't you?

MR. HARRIS: I am glad that the contribution limits have been set, and I am glad that there will be for the first time a requirement of disclosure of electoral contributions. The public will support that. And I am glad to see that there will be income tax rebates for individuals and companies who contribute to the electoral process, that is appropriate, but I have a difficulty with some of the provisions, and we have to have a look at them. As I said, I have not made up my mind about any particular provision yet, but I have a little bit of difficulty in having a trade union treated as if it were a corporation because anybody who knows anything about -


MR. HARRIS: I am not certain that a trade union that has 15,000 members is the same as a corporation that the Member for Port de Grave might set up, a single person corporation that he sets up, you know. He may have a single person corporation through which he can contribute $10,000 and then we can have a union of 10,000 members, and they -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - have the same limits, the same contributions. I am not sure that is right. I do not think that it is necessarily fairness and balance to say that these two organizations are equivalent, because they are not. They are not equivalent politically, they are not equivalent in a power sense, not equivalent in any influence sense, and I think we might have to have a look at that, and make sure that there are no rules which allow an individual or some of the same people who have influenced elections in the past through their corporate donations to influence them now by having myriad corporations that may not be within the definition of the Income Tax Act related to corporations, but may still be able to unduly influence elections.

So as I say, Mr. Speaker, we have to have a good look at that to see exactly what is going on because we know that there was not - that we do not know what changes have been made in the last six months to this process but we do know the political operatives of the governing party had a hand in some of these changes.

We know that because the Premier told us today that these -

AN HON. MEMBER: I know there are people (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Oh, there have been a number of people involved and there will be many more people involved before the process is over and I know that the former Chief Electoral Officer, before he resigned, talked a lot about all the reforms that he had in the draft bill -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) a lawyer.

MR. HARRIS: I would be interested in seeing the draft bill that the former Chief Electoral Officer had and see how it compares to this one, because then we might see what changes might have been made as a result of other input, let us call it other input, it may be political input, it may have been somebody who had a look at what went on in other Provinces, but we have, Mr. Speaker, some new things that are a little bit worrying and I have to echo some of the comments of the Opposition Leader, with respect to the obligations being placed on district associations.

I am not suggesting that they should not have those obligations, that we should not have audited statements, that we should not have detailed records but I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, that it may interfere with the ability of parties to respond to an election and to respond in an appropriate way. They may not have the expertise. The electoral process is dependent on people volunteering their time and showing their interest in having, in many cases the political interest to support a particular party or to support a particular candidate, but perhaps not the expertise that one might be required to have in order to do a proper job.

And I do know something about that, Mr. Speaker. I have run in two federal elections, where the electoral rules are not very different, particularly in terms of election expenses, and let me tell you that they are onerous. They are onerous. You have to be very, very careful and in fact, the federal elections are much stricter - for noncompliance you lose your seat and probably you and your official agent end up in jail. They are very, very strict, but that is not the point.

The point, Mr. Speaker, is that they are onerous provisions. To comply with them takes a lot of knowledge, takes a lot of expertise and it may take a lot of time and training, and what I am concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is that we may not have, in each of our three respective parties, in fifty-two associations around this Province, the level of expertise and knowledge that might be required to do a proper job to comply not only with the reality of legislation, but the spirit of legislation as well, so I would look forward to the committee - and I know the Member for Eagle River is listening because it is his committee, I would look forward to the committee giving some consideration to the issue of training, and what support that the Government might be able to provide for training-

to train people, whether they be agents or people in district associations, to understand the act and to understand how it operates and to be prepared to comply with the act for the greater good of the electoral process and for the greater good of fairness in elections that, I think, we all share as a goal.

MR. MURPHY: We have a good piece of legislation now, support it.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the Member for St. John's South that I always support good legislation and I have expressed my support in principle for this legislation, but I have to say, maybe he is not going to read it but I am going to read it, and I want to see it scrutinized.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I am going to make sure, Mr. Speaker, that the legislation does not put up a new set of rules that are unfair in some respects to the people of this Province who want to have fairness in elections. I say this in all honesty to members opposite, and to members on this side of the House, I think it is time that all parties had a good look at this nomination process, because I think there is a very poor training ground for the public in this Province for electoral politics, and that is the disgusting practice of busing fourteen and fifteen year olds, who are not even members of any party, for the sake of a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken to come to support somebody for nomination. That is the introduction to politics that a lot of Newfoundlanders get -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why are you attacking the caucus -

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Finance knows a lot about Kentucky Fried Chicken. What I am suggesting is that your party, I do not know about you, but your party and this party has for years destroyed people's sense of value about politics by doing that type of thing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know how long the hon. member has been in this House, but I may have to go back to the person who gave us the quote the other night about how the longer you are a sitting member the lower your IQ goes. I did not detect an attack on the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. That is like suggesting that if you are bribing someone you are attacking the Bank of Canada for making money. If you give money to somebody bribing them then you are attacking the royal mint for manufacturing dollars. The hon. member makes no sense.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Not only does he have no sense, he has no sense of humour.

I want to say in conclusion because I know my time is late, that we support this legislation in principle -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: We support the Legislative principle involved for fair elections and we will be looking forward to a vigourous debate on the particulars of it and to a very active committee looking at the individual provisions and how they affect the electoral process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to go over a couple of things in relation to what is going to be happening in the next couple of days first of all.

We have had a discussion and some agreement, Mr. Speaker, having to do with what is going to happen tomorrow. I think a lot of Members of the House would like to attend the late Jim Reid's funeral, and therefore it has been agreed to allow that to happen by changing the scheduling of tomorrow's sitting, if there is consent of the House, and instead of sitting at two o'clock, we would sit at 7:00 p.m. so I wonder if we do have consent of the House to do that for tomorrow ?


MR. BAKER: Okay, Mr. Speaker, so that means that we start at seven with a normal day's proceedings at seven o'clock. I intend, Mr. Speaker, to call the closure motion at that time, so I just want to inform hon. members what is going to happen.

On Wednesday, it is our Private Member's Day, so we will be debating the resolution submitted today by the Member for Lewisporte, so notice had to be given today. So, Mr. Speaker, if there is no objection, we could call it five o'clock and I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until, by agreement, 7:00 p.m. tomorrow and that this House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3, 1991 at 7:00 p.m.