March 20, 1992               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 10

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before recognizing the hon. the Member for Naskaupi, I wonder if he would just allow me to welcome some students here, and we will recognize them.

We have two or three groups of students here this morning. First of all, on behalf of hon. members, we would like to welcome sixty students and two of their teachers, from Ascension Collegiate, Bay Roberts. These are sixty Level II democracy students accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Corb Newman and Mr. Claude Taylor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, we have fifty Grade V students from Park Avenue Elementary School, Mount Pearl, with their teachers, Margaret Wakeham, Mrs. Lima Derouet - I hope that is the correct pronunciation - and Miss Kelly Rideout.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KELLAND: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to give notice of a point of personal privilege. This, obviously, is my first opportunity to do so. I was inadvertently absent yesterday.

It relates to incidents yesterday and the unparliamentary behaviour of the Member for Humber East in her attempt to use parliamentary immunity to pull what I call a low and dirty political trick with the possible intent of interfering with an expected by-election in my district, and may be an attempt on her part to interfere with the criminal justice system.

However, Mr. Speaker, I will need some time to review transcripts and other relevant information before raising the point, itself. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: This prompts the Chair, as well, to make a comment about the point of privilege related to this matter that was raised yesterday by the Premier. The Chair feels that it would like a little more time to study it before rendering a decision. The matter was raised late yesterday, and the Chair obviously did not get the transcripts until late. We want to contact other jurisdictions, as hon. members would be aware, to look into certain matters on this. It was a little too late for that, and too early this morning.

So the Chair is caught in an awkward position and asks for the indulgence of members if we could wait a little longer. I promise hon. members it will certainly be ready by Monday, because we do have some time this afternoon.

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I make this short statement, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Lands, who is away on government business, and in my capacity as acting minister.

Mr. Speaker, it has come to my attention that a number of hunters in Labrador who may be interested in hunting moose on the Island of Newfoundland and Labrador, have only recently received their big game application material.

The applications and the brochures, which explain the licencing procedures, have been in the mail for some time. However, there appears to have been a delay in the mail delivery to some parts of Labrador. Consequently, these hunters are unable to meet the March 20 deadline for submitting applications for consideration in the Newfoundland moose licence draw.

This matter has been reviewed by staff in the Department of Environment and Lands and I am pleased to announce that we will extend the deadline for Labrador hunters wishing to apply for a moose licence on the Island to Friday, April 3rd. Applications should be submitted to the St. John's Wildlife office before the close of business on that day.

Mr. Speaker, I trust that this action will be satisfactory to hunters in Labrador and also to the hon. members of this House. I urge people who may require additional information about the big game licensing process to contact the nearest wildlife office.

Thank you.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the acting Minister of Environment and Lands for giving me a copy of the Ministerial Statement in advance. I also want to thank him for his quick response to a request that I made on behalf of several of my constituents who had not received their applications for a moose licence and were very apprehensive about the fact that they would not be able to be eligible for the draw for the hunting season for next year. Mr. Speaker, the problem, as the minister suggested, is with the mailing of the applications. The mailing procedure is bulk mailing throughout the Province. Bulk mailing going into Labrador, specifically in my district, is done by truck and it takes approximately fifteen to twenty days for it to get in there.

I want to again congratulate the minister on his quick reaction and I hope that he will inform officials in his department that next year, to circumvent that, they should be putting specific mail into my district by airmail.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to Oral Questions, I just want to make sure students know that we welcome them. When I welcomed the students from Mount Pearl, they were not in the galleries, obviously, but in their absence, they were welcomed; now, in their presence, we will welcome them, along with their teachers, Miss Wakeham, Ms. Derouet - I hope that is the pronunciation - and Miss Kelly Rideout.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday past, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation tabled in the House, the public tender exceptions for the month of November, 1992, in particular, as he is required to do under the Act, and I would like to refer the Premier to page two of that report.

On page two, it shows that the contracts for the three health care facilities at Port Saunders, St. Lawrence and Burgeo were not awarded to the preferred bidder, which was Health Care Developers, in this case, but instead, were awarded to Trans City Holdings. I would like the Premier to confirm for the House, that the preferred bidder is chosen in accordance with the Public Tender Act, by a panel of technical experts who have one responsibility, Mr. Speaker, and that responsibility is to select the best bid, in other words, the preferred bid, on the basis of price, performance and compliance with tender specifications. Will he confirm that that is the rule?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am looking for the November copy, Mr. Speaker, I don't have it immediately available. Okay, here it is.

Mr. Speaker, the minister who was responsible at the time, I believe, has already advised the House that the contract was, in fact, awarded to the preferred bidder who could provide the preferred facility. It was not awarded to the lowest price and that is why it is listed as an exception, but the minister has explained on a number of occasions exactly why it was awarded. I don't have the detailed knowledge. I can get the minister to do it now, but that is my recollection of it, and the minister who was responsible is sitting right next to me, so he can answer the question far more effectively than I can.

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

MR. SIMMS: No, Mr. Speaker, I think this is a question that the Leader of the Government should respond to it. Again I refer him to page 2 of the report and he will see the Minister's report itself says that number 2, Health Care Developers, if you look up ahead, was the preferred bidder - not Trans City Holdings.

What I am trying to get at is that the process of having a nonpolitical panel of experts select preferred bidders was put in place so as to avoid political interference in awarding Government contracts. That was the reason for it.

I again want to ask the Premier, wasn't his decision therefore, having pointed this out, and the decision of the Cabinet in reality to ignore the preferred bidder nothing more than pure insolent political interference, political patronage - the likes of which we have never seen since the Liberals were last in power, and will the Premier -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I want to ask the Premier, will he table the Hanscomb Consultants Report that we asked for in this House six months ago? Why is he keeping that report hidden, if he is so sure?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is an issue that has been dealt with in great detail in the House and outside the House. The designation of preferred bidder does not indicate that that particular bid was the best technical bid - the best bid in terms of the service and so on. It is a term used to describe the lowest bidder in any tender. There are exceptions, and to follow the Public Tender Act you have to table and make public any contracts that are not specifically awarded to the lowest bidder, with the reasons why. This is to make sure that the whole process is open, aboveboard, totally public, and everything is revealed.

In this particular instance a tender was called that was extremely broad, and the purpose of it being extremely broad was to elicit a variety of proposals. It was indicated in the tender: the lowest or any bidder not necessarily accepted. Because what we were trying to do was trying to allow the bidders to indicate to us what they could do in terms of saving money on a type of building that was suitable. So we had a very broad tender call. All members of the House know about this. It has been discussed before - a very broad tender call. We had a variety of proposals that came in. Some of them were very cheap, but totally unacceptable in terms

of the service. So, Mr. Speaker, we looked at the broad spectrum of bids that we had in and we chose a type of building that would be substantial, that would suit our services and fit the functional plan of the Department of Health.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we did not accept other bids that were lower simply because structurally they were not as good. This is the best value for money. The Hanscomb Report that the hon. gentleman - I am getting around to his question, I am just dealing with his preamble so far. The Hanscomb Report that the hon. gentleman refers to indicates to us that this process was a very valuable process in which we gained a lot of valuable experience and saved the Government a lot of money, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I was waiting for the Minister. He said he was going to answer my question. Will he table the Hanscomb Report? If he is so confident of that will he table it? That is all we ask. Why is he keeping that hidden?

Secondly, I want to ask him this: If you wanted to change the specifications in this particular issue, why didn't you change the specifications and then re-tender the whole project? That would have been the fairer thing to do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister said we dealt with this quite a while ago. It may have been dealt with in the minds of the Government, but it certainly has not been dealt with in the minds of the people in this Province. There are still many unanswered questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cover up. Cover up.

MR. SIMMS: Will the Premier confirm - I am asking the question to the Leader of the Government who is responsible for this issue. I am asking the Premier will he confirm that in fact his own officials in the Department of Works, Services, and Transportation advised him to do precisely what I just suggested, and isn't that what he should have done in order to stay within the spirit of the law and the letter of the law.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition has no intent or no desire to get an answer to the question. He continues to ask and try to insist that the Premier answer the questions in a situation that I was responsible for, and that I know the answers for, Mr. Speaker, and the Premier does not. So, Mr. Speaker, he can direct the question where he wants, but he cannot control the answer to the question.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this process was a different process. We agreed to that in the past. This was a different process. It was a very open tender call, and perhaps in this process we allowed a little too much latitude. We admit that, and we indicated that perhaps in the future we would be a little more specific if we ever chose this route again. But, Mr. Speaker, to go to tender, to have these individuals work on the projects to come in with what they considered to be the best proposal for us, and then to cancel all and go to tender again was simply not possible at the time, and it would have been totally unfair to all the bidders, Mr. Speaker.

So everybody had a level playing field, they could use their imagination to come up with a proposal that they thought would be best suited to Government, Mr. Speaker. They could bid on any kind of structure and, in that process, indicate to us how money could be saved. Mr. Speaker, that was the process. It was an unusual process, it was a new process, but whether we ever do that again, I do not know. We may consider doing it with slight variations, because, Mr. Speaker, the process was a valuable one. We learned a lot from it and we saved a lot of money for the people of this Province.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader can try all he wants to take away the responsibility in this issue from the Leader of the Government. He can do that if he wants and the Premier can wiggle out of it if he likes, but there are many people in this Province who smell something fishy in this issue, I say to him. And it is not true that it has been dealt with and answered.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Already I have asked him three times to table the Hanscomb report and he totally avoids answering the question. Will he table the report, I ask him again?

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask specifically - I am asking the Premier but, I don't care, if the Minister wants to try to save the Premier, he can do it, but I am asking the Premier: In this report that I asked him to look at, page 2, can the Premier tell me why there is such an anomaly in this particular report on page 2 because in this one, one that I have never seen before, by the way, an anomaly, there is no listing of the contract and bid prices, although they are clearly supposed to be shown in the report. Why, when looking through all the other pages in this report and all the other reports, hundreds of them, Mr. Speaker, in all other cases you will see the contract and bid prices, but in this case it has been withheld by the Government, in this particular report?

If the Government has saved thousands or millions of dollars, as he claims, on this particular contract, why then is it hiding the contract, why then is it hiding the bid prices, as I suggested? Is this not simply an attempt to cover up something that is going on?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will do up a complete summary of the bids, of the nature of the bids, and the price as it exists now in terms of the successful bidder. I will do that. It will take a couple of days, but I will put it together.

Now, the reason it is not here under contract bid price is very simple, Mr. Speaker. Either the hon. gentleman is dense or he has a poor memory or he is trying to create a false impression here now.

The type of contract this was in actual fact did not have a contract bid price as such. It was a combined bid that involved the financing package. That financing package was never a firm financing package in terms of an absolute amount. I will remind the hon. gentleman that since this contract was signed the cost of it to Government has gone down millions of dollars. Gone down millions of dollars. Because the financing was based on a floating rate, and as the Bank of Canada rate goes down our price changes. So there is no firm price. We in the interim, since this has been done, have saved millions of dollars by taking this type of approach.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier also. Maybe he will have enough courage to get to his feet this time and answer this. This report that was tabled on Wednesday I believe to be misleading. It does not show where the Trans City Holdings price bids rank amongst the other bidders. Will the Premier confirm that Trans City Holdings was the fourth lowest bidder - not the lowest bidder - out of the seven for Burgeo and Port Saunders facilities, and was the third lowest bidder for the St. Lawrence facility?


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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I should point out again -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognised the hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: I should point out again for the sake of people who are perhaps around and not used to what is going on in the House, that what is happening here is that the Opposition Members are trying to ask questions to an individual Member of Government - it happens to be the Premier - who has no knowledge of the process that occurred. The Premier of this Province, Mr. Speaker, does not have the time to deal with the details of what happens in each Department.

Now, if that is the way Members opposite ran their government, and the premier made all the decisions, I cannot answer for them. Make no wonder they got in the mess they were in if that is the way they operated!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am answering because I am the one that knows what happened.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member to clue up his answer, please.

MR. BAKER: In answer to the question: in terms of the bids submitted for a steel structure with brick, the bid accepted was by far the lowest tender for that particular type structure. It was by far the lowest bid. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, it is in the millions and millions of dollars. It was the low bid for the type of structure that we eventually decided we would like to have. If we were talking about wooden structures, Mr. Speaker, there was another company who was lower but I forget exactly who it was. If we are talking about a Quonset hut type structure, the steel sheeting, Mr. Speaker, there is another company that would have gotten the bid, but we decided we did not want a Quonset hut type structure, steel sheeting, we decided we did not want wood. For the medical care centres we needed something, and after examination of all the bids we decided that this was the bid that gave Government the best value. It was the lowest bid of a substantial building that we had.

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

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

If this was the bid that gave the best value to the Government I wonder why the public servants who analyzed these bids did not recommend it, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: I know why, Mr. Speaker. I have another question for the Premier and maybe he will get to his feet and answer this one. Will the Premier confirm that the cost to the Province of the Trans City Holdings bid over the thirty year lease will be $90 million where if he had accepted the lowest bidder it would be $70 million?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, those figures are totally incorrect.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I have another question for the Premier. How can the Government of this Province, and the Premier through his mouthpiece there next to him, who is not even the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - we do have a minister now who, if the Premier does not answer, should be answering. How can this Government say that this bid they accepted is saving the taxpayers money when in actual fact it is sucking $20 million out of the pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

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

MR. BAKER: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to members who have forgotten that when this was in process I was the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, number one, and number two, Mr. Speaker, I cannot say what the hon. gentleman wants me to say simply because I believe in telling the truth.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: One final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier again. The facts in this situation are fairly simple, is he not stripping the taxpayers of Newfoundland of $20 million, taking the money from the pockets of the taxpayers of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in order to pay off his political buddies, Tom Hickman and Bill Case?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the question itself obviously is not worthy of an answer. If the hon. Member has any information to substantiate charges like these he should lay it before the House. I know he has none, therefore, empty rattlings is all we are hearing, Mr. Speaker. I would like to remind the House, as I have already indicated, that I will have an analysis done to be tabled in the House sometime in the next two or three sitting days. I will do that, Mr. Speaker, and then hon. Members can see that this was an excellent proposal that saved the Government many, many millions of dollars, and is continuing to save the Government millions of dollars, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Premier. In his response yesterday to the Member for Humber East the Premier said that the first time his Government knew of allegations of sexual misconduct against the former Minister of Environment was when the letter was received on March 6 from the Leader of the New Democratic Party to the Minister of Justice. My question, Mr. Speaker: was the Premier not informed that this story had been carried sometime in January 1992 by the CBC T.V. and radio news, some two months before? Perhaps if the Premier was away at the time of this news report, was he not informed of this by his ministers? Were his ministers keeping this information from him, and if so, why?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we do not keep track of or have anything whatsoever to do with prosecutions or police investigations. That is entirely for the police to do. We have no knowledge of it whatsoever, nor should we. The Minister of Justice should not, unless for some reason or other the Chief of Police or the Director of Public Prosecutions specifically draws it to the Minister's attention. There should not be any basis for any knowledge. So far as I know every Member of this House might at this moment be under investigation. I do not know, and I should not know.

Now I do not know everything that was broadcast by CBC in January, and there may be two reasons for that: one of which is I have given up listening to much of the CBC because I have lost confidence in it; and the second reason is that between, I think, about January 17 or 18 and February 2 or 3, I was away on vacation. So if it came up in that period I may or may not have heard it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, I did not. I knew about it when the Minister of Justice told me, as I told the House yesterday. Contrary to what the hon. Members implied, that I did not, I told the House in the first series of questions.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Premier knows, on March 11 the New Democratic Party Leader was sent a letter by the Minister of Justice and also a letter by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Neither of these letters, Mr. Speaker, disclose any acknowledgement that an investigation was under way.

Why, Mr. Speaker, did it take a question in this House to the Premier to get this information? Was this part of the plan of the Government of damage control of some sort? Was this going to be kept from the public until the Premier was asked this question in the House by the Member for Humber East?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there is only one thing that is worse than political cover up or political hiding, and that is political persecution. And we will not stand by and see the Opposition do that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now a former government was prepared to persecute a person and did see a person persecuted to protect their own political hide.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: This government, Mr. Speaker, is not prepared to do that, and we will not do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The only member standing and about to be recognized now is the Member for St. John's East.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary. The Premier indicated also yesterday that a delay in this investigation was due in part to a failure by the woman in question to keep appointments, and also that the police had concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with an investigation. Can the Premier explain then, Mr. Speaker, why the individual would have been told in October of 1991 in response to an inquiry of the investigating officer that the reason for the delay was that the report had been, quote, 'accidentally shelved,' unquote. Can the Premier tell us what the explanation is between what she was told - why the difference between what she was told in October of 1991 when somebody independent was present, and what the Premier told the House yesterday?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the answer is, but I will undertake to find out. The information I gave to the House yesterday came to me as a result of information the Attorney General got when the letter was written by Mr. Newhook to the Attorney General.

He immediately asked the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Chief of Police I am not sure which, to determine whether or not there was any failure on the part of the police and the police gave him a chronology and it was from that chronology - the chronology did not give any facts or any evidence or any basis for accusations, it was just a chronology of events and it was that chronology of events that I gave to the House yesterday, but I will undertake to determine whether or not the woman was told that the police report was accidentally shelved. I will find out and advise the House.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is the Premier able to confirm at this point, that perhaps there was more than one investigation going on, that in addition to the allegations of what may appear to be private misconduct, that some of the allegations had to do with the conduct of the Minister in his duties as a Minister, and, would the Premier not expect to be informed of that, at the time an investigation was going on? Can the Premier confirm that there is more to this than just the sole allegation of perhaps private misconduct?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to prejudice either the right of any individual who may or may not be charged in the future to a fair trial, or the ability of the Crown to conduct a full and proper investigation without having it set aside by reason of the actions of this House, but I am prepared to say, that since the letter was written, the chronology of events indicated that the original complaint was not of sexual misconduct. The original complaint was of another matter, that is correct and that is as far as I am prepared to go.

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Health -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will say again that it has recognized the hon. Member for Harbour Main.

The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: I have a question for the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, but in his absence I will direct it to the Premier.

Yesterday, when I asked the Minister about an individual case who needed a cancer operation, the Minister reported that he could not comment on individual cases and the Premier said in response to a similar question, that the Fraser Institute assessment of medical services in Canada showed that Newfoundland had the shortest waiting period for surgery.

Now, I want to ask the Premier some questions about that report. Why is it, if we have the best hospital services in Canada, do people in Newfoundland have to wait fifty-two weeks for coronary bypass surgery, and the average of the other provinces surveyed, is only fifteen weeks, so we have to wait fifty-two weeks for coronary bypass surgery and the provinces that were surveyed have to wait fifteen weeks, over three times that period?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The thing I quoted from the House yesterday I have here now and I will read it in a little more detail to give a fuller picture.

Here is what it says: Ranking the provinces studied according to weighted averages reported in Table 12A, and described earlier, indicates that the longest wait for surgery occurs in Manitoba and the shortest in Newfoundland. Now that is the weighted average, weighted average.

Nova Scotia has the second longest weighted average, New Brunswick and British Columbia had the shortest average waits. Overall, there was only a two week difference between the shortest and the longest weighted averages, therefore, comparing the average length of time waited for given treatments between provinces, gives a fuller picture. The difference between the shortest wait and the longest wait for a given surgery between provinces, is in most cases, less than five weeks. Table 13, presents a time frequency distribution of the operation surveyed.

In all provinces the wait for most operations is less than three months. The differences between the maritime provinces and the western provinces is the number of operations that fall into the six months or greater category. The operations in this category arise in two specialties, plastic surgery and cardiology. In Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the waiting time for plastic surgery is extensive for some operations which probably indicates a shortage of plastic surgeons in these provinces.

In all the maritime provinces studied except New Brunswick, the average wait for cardiac surgery is greater than six months. The worst example is Newfoundland where the average wait for a bypass is fifty-two weeks.

The Member has singled out cardiac surgery, and it is true. We have a problem in cardiac surgery because we do not have the cardiac surgeons available in the numbers that they do in others, but on average when you look at the total surgical picture, the shortest weighted average is in Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

On a couple of matters arising out of Question Period, I want to remind hon. Members that rulings have been made in the past, and rightly so because they are in our Standing Orders. Standing Order 31 (d) says: Oral Questions must not be prefaced by the reading of letters, telegrams, newspaper extracts or preambles of any kind.

I expect the answers ought to be the same - that we should not get into extensive reading other than for the purposes of making a point to the Opposition, in which case they have probably done the same thing.

The other matter I would like to raise is that the hon. the President of Treasury Board, in referring to an answer to the Leader of the Opposition, mentioned I think something to the extent that the Leader of the Opposition was dense.

Maybe the hon. the President of Treasury Board could comment on that. We ought not to get into that kind of thing. It is unparliamentary, referring to hon. Members as stupid and dense. Other people might refer to us as such, but not hon. Members.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I believe, in response to a question, I did offer several choices to the Members opposite, and dense was one of them. However, if it is offensive, unparliamentary, I would very happily withdraw and apologise for insulting the Leader of the Opposition. Maybe he would prefer one of the other choices.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, out of fear of putting my foot in my mouth, which I would rather have in my mouth than a forked tongue, by the way -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: I will accept the President of Treasury Board's apology and just leave it at that for now.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: A Point of Privilege, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a Point of Privilege.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning on a Point of Privilege. Wednesday the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation tabled the Report of Public Tender Act Exceptions for November of 1991. The submission of this report to the House of Assembly is required by the Public Tender Act, 1984.

The purpose of the requirement in the Act is to ensure that this House of Assembly holds the Government accountable for the proper administration of the Public Tender Act. The basic information needed for the House to perform its duties in this regard must be tabled in the Exceptions Report. If Your Honour examines the Report you will note that there are five categories under which information is provided to hon. Members so that they can fulfil the responsibilities contemplated by the legislation. One of those categories is Contract/Bid Price.

I refer you, Mr. Speaker, to page 2 of the November Exceptions Report, which reports the award of contracts for health care facilities to a company other than the preferred bidder. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that this issue caused considerable controversy at the time contracts were awarded last November. The Government's defence at that time, as now, is that it ignored the preferred bidder, which had been selected in accordance with the Public Tender Act, because the proposal of another bidder would save millions of dollars. A similar reason is given in the Exceptions Report.

Mr. Speaker, despite the claim of significant savings to justify its violation of the Public Tender Act, the Government has never told us what the bids were. That information is also absent from the Exceptions Report, even though the form in which the House receives the report requires that price information be included.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister's decision to withhold price information from the Exceptions Report interferes with the exercise of my responsibilities as a Member of this House of Assembly. I have been denied information which is necessary to the proper performance of my duty to this House and to the people of this Province. In the present situation that duty, the duty of all hon. Members, is to determine whether Government's deviation from the public tendering process was appropriate in the circumstances. Simply put, Mr. Speaker, I am prevented from doing my job as a Member of the House, because the Minister has withheld essential information from the Exceptions Report which he is by law required to submit to this House.

I therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, to rule that my privileges have been violated, and I further ask that you direct the Minister to supply forthwith the Contract/Bid Price information withheld from this Report.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know that the hon. gentleman had this all prepared ahead of time and so on. He had to get up and read it anyway, but this is not a Point of Privilege, obviously. The questions were asked in the House today. I explained that this was a different type of tender call in which there were no specific bid prices. I also told this hon. House twice during Question Period that I would put together the complete summary of all that information and table it in this House. So the matter has been adequately dealt with.

This will not only not interfere with the Member's ability to do his job but it will help him do his job better. What you are seeing here this morning is not a matter of privilege, it is

simply political posturing.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I know the Government House Leader would love for this to go away and he will try to attempt to have that occur by brushing it off and saying it is political posturing and all the rest of it, but the fact of the matter is the Point of Privilege raised by the Opposition House Leader is a very legitimate one. We have all been trying to get answers to questions with respect to this issue for - what? - five months, since last November, and we still haven't been able to obtain the answers. We have asked simple, straightforward questions: Give us the details of the bids, give us the analysis of the bids done by the employees of the Department or the public servants who were involved on the committee that makes the recommendation, give us a copy of the Hanscomb consultants' report so that we can read it for ourselves. Why does the Government continue to suppress that particular report? Why does it continue to hide from answering the question, when you are asked to provide the report?

So all of these things, Mr. Speaker, combined under the rules of privilege outlined by Beauchesne, clearly constitute a breach because members are having a difficult time performing their tasks as members, in this case Opposition members, trying to get questions answers. The Minister and the Government continue to stonewall, continue to not even address the question of the Hanscomb consultants' report - they just refuse to answer it, instead of tabling it in the House and giving everybody a chance to look at it - and they refuse to answer the other questions that we have asked for the last five months beginning last November and now again here today.

So, Mr. Speaker, for the Government House Leader to suggest that it is simply political posturing and everything, is quite an unfair accusation. On the contrary, it is a serious attempt by members of this House to fulfill their obligations to the people of the Province as an Opposition, and that is what we are attempting to do.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Your Honour knows, parliamentary privilege is a right enjoyed by each member without which the members could not discharge the functions in the House and the functions for which they are elected. I've pointed out that I will prepare for the House the complete summary of the bid prices and the situation with regard to the bid prices at this time. I explained to the House that there is no set price that we could print simply because it fluctuates day by day, because it is tied to the fluctuation and the basic interest rate. Mr. Speaker, I have pointed all these things out. I have even told the hon. members in this House in the past, if Your Honour would go back and look at Hansard, exactly what these details are. It has been totally open. I explained in detail in this House last Fall exactly what the numbers are. I would say to hon. Members that the numbers since then have changed because the interest rates have changed. So, Mr. Speaker, everything has already been given.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the added point the member makes is that now it all of a sudden becomes a matter of privilege because it is difficult for the members to do their jobs. Well, Mr. Speaker, the degree of difficulty with members doing their jobs is not a matter of privilege. Also, in terms of the analyses, I will tell the hon. gentleman what I heard in terms of analyses of these bids, but obviously Cabinet secrecy is not a matter of privilege and the hon. members cannot have access to all Cabinet documents. They cannot have that. So, Mr. Speaker, there are limits.

I say to hon. gentlemen opposite -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member to -

MR. BAKER: Okay. I say to hon. gentlemen opposite, Mr. Speaker, that the difficulty of their job is not a matter of privilege, and we are in no way interfering with the privileges of the hon. members. As a matter of fact, we are going to help them out.

MR. SPEAKER: To the Point of Privilege. We are talking about a couple of matters here. One raised by the Opposition is their great difficulty or inability to get answers from the Government, either in a specific case or in a general way. All hon. members know, of course, that the Chair cannot compel ministers to answer a question or to provide the appropriate information. Beauchesne, paragraph 31.(2) says: "The failure of a Minister to answer a question may not be raised as a question of privilege."

The second matter is relating to the Public Tendering Act and, again, on the same lines, paragraph 31.(9) says: "The failure of the Government to comply with the law is not a matter for the Speaker, but should be decided by the courts."

I say, with these quotations, there is not a prima facie case of privilege.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, as hon. members will be aware, last September I announced the appointment of a committee consisting of seven members of the House and seven members appointed at large from the Province, forming a constitutional committee to hear views around the Province on the federal government's constitutional proposals. That committee provided an interim report in early January. I was pleased to have it, because I used the report in the representations that I made during the meetings. I am now happy to be able to table a copy of the interim report.

I should also say, for members who are interested, that the government intends to ask the committee to perform a further task before writing its final report, and that the information will be made public on that shortly.

MR. SPEAKER: Before asking for other reports, the Chair would also like to comment on this particular section with respect to presenting reports, because the matter was raised some time ago, probably last week, where members were questioning whether or not members presenting reports, ministers presenting reports, or any member in that capacity - chairman of a select committee or a standing committee presenting a report - the point was made that they are not permitted to comment. At that time, I think I said that a member was permitted a brief comment. Since then, I have done research and found that one of the probably largest squabbles ever we have had in this House, related to that point, where the member who was presenting the report dragged on and on for the longest time, but the Speaker kept insisting that a brief comment was permitted.

I just want hon. members to know that in presenting a report they are permitted a brief comment. Beauchesne also supports it. Beauchesne uses the word that a minister or a member might be permitted to make a 'succinct' comment in presenting the report. I just thought I would remind hon. members of that.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As Minister responsible for the Office of the Legislative Council, pursuant to Section 18 of the Statutes and Subordinate Legislation Act, the Minister of Justice is required to lay before the House of Assembly, a copy of subordinate legislation filed under that Act. Accordingly, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I table the editions of The Newfoundland Gazette published between April 19, 1991 and March 6, 1992. They are available at the desk.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act to Amend the Highway Traffic Act, 1988".

MR. SPEAKER: Would the Page please collect the Notice of Motion from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation?

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of further supplementary supply to Her Majesty.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act to Amend the Liquor Corporation Act, 1973".

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means to consider the raising of supply to be granted to Her Majesty.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of supply to Her Majesty.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Insurance Adjusters, Agents And Brokers Act."

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Public Service Commission Act, 1973."

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation Act, 1963."

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Incorporate The Newfoundland Association Of Social Workers."

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act, 1971."

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (L. Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Yesterday, the Member for Kilbride asked a number of questions concerning Bill No. 4 and I would like to address the points that he raised.

Perhaps, by way of preamble, I should indicate the procedure that we use here.

What the bill does is it amends the schedule by adding to it the loan guarantees that the Minister of Finance has signed in the interim to enable town councils, local municipalities, to borrow money from the banks in order to finance approved municipal projects. These are the loan guarantees that I have done in the meantime.

Once the loan guarantees are in place and the municipal project is carried out, the money is expended and the interest accumulates. When the job is completed, the municipality has set up in the NMFC, the Newfoundland Municipal Finance Corporation, a long-term (technical malfunction) indicated here in the bill, and then the municipality is responsible, in conjunction with the Department of Municipal Affairs, for paying off the interest and principal on these loans. Some of that interest and principal is paid by the municipality and some by the government. The amount sometimes varies but it is expected that municipalities will raise, towards the loans that are outstanding, up to $300 per household in the community, or 25 per cent of their fixed taxation, income from taxation, whichever is greater, and that includes poll taxes, property taxes, business taxes, and things of that nature, but I understand it doesn't include maybe some snow clearing that they do for some private individual, things of that nature, it is just a fixed amount.

Then, the Department of Municipal Affairs pays the difference between the $300 or the 25 per cent and what the charges are to pay off the loan that has been established in the Newfoundland Municipal Finance Corporation. Then the Newfoundland Municipal Finance Corporation, which is a Government Crown Corporation, pretty well operated by the Department of Finance and the Department of Municipal Affairs, goes to the bond market and borrows the money that is required. We usually go a couple of times a year and borrow $20 million, $25 million, or $40 million, whatever the cash flow requires.

The member raised some questions regarding four municipalities. He saw Whitbourne there for $850,000 and he asked me how much more money Whitbourne owed. I have ascertained that outstanding for Whitbourne from NMFC is $2,642,000 in addition to the $850,000 that was there. He also asked me about the town of St. George's which was listed in the schedule in Bill 4 for two amounts, one for $200,000 and one for $40,000. In addition to that, the town of St. George's has $3,661,000 outstanding from NMFC.

He asked about Twillingate. Twillingate is listed in the schedule for $552,000 and if we want to get Twillingate's outstanding in NMFC we also have to include Durrell and Bay View because they now form part of Twillingate. The total there under NMFC now is $5,644,000 and you have to add on the $552,000 that is in the schedule. I also found out that there is another small amount which is not in the bill, because it came in a bit late, for $7,500 which will come in the next bill that we present and eventually, when the job is completed, will be financed through NMFC.

He asked me about St. John's. St. John's is listed in the bill for four amounts totalling $4,752,000, and for St. John's, now, we have to include what is in NMFC for St. John's plus Wedgewood Park and the Goulds. So the total there in NMFC, now, for St. John's is $30,796,000, and to that has to be added the $4,752,000 that is in the amount.

Mr. Chairman, I believe that is all the member wanted, but if he wants other information, I will endeavour to get it.

Thank you.

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

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

I missed the first part of the minister's answer so he might have answered this. The Loan Guarantee Commission, or whatever it is called, on these loan guarantees, I think there is a 1 per cent commission charged to everyone who gets a loan guarantee now - I believe, I don't know. If St. John's can finance its own stuff and drop that commission would their interest rate be any better by doing it that way or do they get a better interest rate because you borrow in bulk for all the municipalities?

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Chairman, I asked that question yesterday. I know that the Department of Finance does not charge a guaranteed fee to municipalities, and neither does the Department of Municipal Affairs, so there is no known guarantee fee on this. We do charge loan guarantee fees on many other loan guarantees, as in the case of industry and so on, but we don't do it to municipalities.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, that straightens that out. There is no 1 per cent commission or loan guarantee commission on municipalities, the minister says. I do know that there are loan guarantee commissions on guaranteed loans to fish plants or businesses that are operating, and things like that, so I wasn't sure if it was applied to the municipalities.

I want to mention also, as I said yesterday, there are many municipalities in this Province that pay 100 per cent of their loan guarantees. Whatever the government guarantees they pay back the whole lot of it. There are other smaller municipalities that cannot afford to do that. I understand that they can't.

I was wondering yesterday, is it better for those municipalities, including St. John's - I think Port aux Basques used to be one of those, Springdale was one, Lab City, Gander, I am not sure about Grand Falls, but I believe, Grand Falls, too - is it better for them to go their own way? Would it be better for them to go to the bank individually and get their own loan? I mean they will guarantee their own loans because they have certain monies coming in to them every year. I was just wondering if it would be better for them to get - especially those who pay back 100 per cent, anyway. Obviously, we know that in the case of those who are not paying back 100 per cent, it is not better for them to go to the bank on their own because the government is going to pay back most of it, anyway. But it would be interesting to find out if it would be better for the City of St. John's to bypass this loan guarantee system and go after their own loans, maybe at a preferred rate, because the City of St. John's is certainly financially responsible, and they do have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Not necessarily agreed by everyone but they are, I believe, fairly financially responsible. Maybe there are some management techniques that could be improved down there, but I think they manage their affairs fairly well. They don't go off in debt holus-bolus and spend like drunken politicians. It used to be sailors, but it should be politicians.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: They tax pretty high, I realize. But I was just wondering, maybe the minister could answer, if it would be better for the City or others to go and borrow on their own? Would they get a better rate? Is it better to stay with the Department of Finance, that because of the large borrowing you might get a better rate on that?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is a question that I have raised with officials. The City of St. John's normally borrows on the bond market, and it is done in co-operation with the Department of Finance. We sort of approve what they do, and mostly we approve the timing of it so that they don't go in at a time when the Province is going in. So the City of St. John's does not usually borrow through NMFC, they usually borrow directly from the bond market.

Now the question is whether other strong municipalities could do the same thing. I have asked that question from time to time because members raise it. I am assured that it is rather difficult for little-known towns to get good rates in the national bond market, and it would be better to go through a Crown Corporation such as NMFC. In fact, other provinces, but not all, have this Crown Corporation method of raising money for smaller municipalities.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report that they have adopted a certain resolution and ask that a bill be introduced to give effect to same.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.


That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957 to provide for the guarantee of the repayment of loans made to, and the advance of loans to certain local authorities.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time. Bill No. 4, "An Act To Amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957", read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

MR. BAKER: Order 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 1.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Election Financing". (Bill No. 1).

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, it gives me a very distinct pleasure to re-introduce, or introduce this bill.

The bill has been discussed in the House previously. We have had speakers from both sides of the House deal with it. Since that time, the bill has gone to Committee. We are now in the process of continuing, and soon we will have a Committee report, which will be received during the Committee stage of the bill, sometime in the near future.

I would like to go back just a short while, a few years, to explain the origins and the development of this particular bill.

The reason I feel I should do that is because one member of the Committee, the Member for Kilbride, I believe, has been getting his name in the press every now and then concerning the nature of this bill and how it was developed. So I thought I would take this opportunity to explain - in case there are any press still around somewhere in the building who can hear what I am about to say, I would like to explain for their benefit the complete and absolute origins of this bill, exactly how it was developed, where it came from, where the concept came from, and how it got to where it is today.

First of all, the bill fulfils a Liberal Party commitment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: During the campaign, we indicated that we wanted to change the situation in this Province so that we would have efficient election practices, so that there would be some kind of control on election costs, so that there would be some kind of control of party financing, Mr. Speaker, fundamental election reform that was long, long overdue. Members opposite had many opportunities to bring in such a piece of legislation and on many occasions promised they would, but simply refused to do so. So, after we were elected - I am going to go through the process very, very carefully, because the press has been wondering about how this Bill developed, and the Member for Kilbride wondered how the Bill developed, the Leader of the Opposition wondered how this Bill was developed and I want to be very open and straightforward with them as to how it was developed.

First of all, there was a committee set up and this committee first of all was made up of some of the top civil servants and the chief of staff from the Premier's office, whom, I should point out was on that committee and a very important part of that committee, the chief of staff from the Premier's office. There was some legal advice sought and so on and this committee went to work and started to prepare a new Elections Act.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, there was another committee. This was a committee that was doing the framework of the Act; in addition to that, there was another committee. That other committee was purely a party committee, a Liberal Party committee. It was made up of a number of very prominent Liberal Party members, including a former president of the Liberal Party, Norm Whelan, including Doug Cook, who has worked for the Liberal Party during good times and bad over a large number of years, including other lawyers, for instance the now Minister of Justice happened to be on that committee when he was a member in private practice, so, this was a Liberal Party committee that then also worked on this particular Bill.

This Liberal Party committee sought input from Liberal Party members and, Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, up to this point in time, we set up the drafting committee and we set up the party committee. The drafting committee worked in private, the party committee worked in a public way and got input from Liberal Party members; up to this point in time, I do not know if there was a single person who had any input into this other than Liberal Party people and a few independant public servants. I do not think there was a single Tory involved or a single NDP individual involved in the Bill up to that time. Not a single one, Mr. Speaker, and we are very proud of that and not ashamed of it, because that is the right way to go.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: So, Mr. Speaker, this is a Liberal Party Bill, make no mistake about it. It was developed by the Liberal Party for the people of this Province to fulfil an election promise, a commitment that was made during the last election that the people of this Province would have proper election legislation. It is a Liberal Party Bill, make no mistake about it. Now, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SIMMS: I wonder if the Minister will permit a slight interruption, I know he is in full flight there -

MR. BAKER: Yes. Go ahead.

MR. SIMMS: Does he intend to take the full hour, just so that we can have some idea because we have some other commitments and things and we are trying to plan, so I was just wondering, would he -

MR. BAKER: I did not envision taking the full hour, no. I simply want to explain the process -

MR. SIMMS: Are you going to go on like this for the next thirty-five minutes or so, I wonder?

MR. BAKER: No, I do not envision taking the full hour.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, up to this point in time, I was pointing out that as far as we know, there is not a single -

MR. SPEAKER: I just want to make clear for the purpose of Hansard that it was the Leader of the Opposition they were listening to with an interruption, because that is important.

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is important, I will mention that just in case. That was the Leader of the Opposition with a question.

Mr. Speaker, up to this point, as far as I know, not a single Tory, not a single NDP member had any input into this Bill and I was making the point, Mr. Speaker, that that is as it should be, because it is a Liberal Party Bill, developed by the Liberal Party with help from drafters of legislation to ensure that we have proper election funding and financing and a proper Elections Act in this Province, that we have not had at any time in the past.

Then, after these committees had some input, we had some more input. We had some more input. Cabinet sat down and had a look at the Bill. I think they were all Liberals. We brought it to caucus. We have had many discussion in the Liberal caucus about this Bill.


MR. BAKER: I do not know if there was any discussion in the Tory caucus. We certainly did not initiate it because we did not need their input and did not want it; but there was input by the Liberal caucus into this Bill, and changes were made. Again, two more steps in the process and no input - no input. So the Bill - a suggested Bill at this point - developed from this whole process.

I will say to the Member for Kilbride again, and to any press members that might be around somewhere in this building, there was no input except from the Liberal Party, period. That is the only way, and that is the proper way to develop this type of Bill.

At this point in time we have a piece of legislation - a Liberal Party piece of legislation - a piece of legislation that the Tory Party had seventeen years to develop and refused to develop; a piece of legislation that should have been in existence in this Province for many years and was not.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. BAKER: Now, we have this piece of legislation and what do we do with it? Well, we finally get to the stage where we have a little bit of Tory input.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, they got interested then.

MR. BAKER: And I believe the NDP was -


MR. BAKER: No. A little bit of Tory input.

We brought the bill to the House, and we put it before a legislation committee. The function of the legislation committee, and again I would like to point out to hon. members that the legislation committees were set up by this Government as a way of ensuring -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: As a way of ensuring that members Opposite could have some input into legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: The Liberal Party, when it became Government, set up the legislation committees. The Tory parties when they were in Government did not set up legislation committees because they did not want any input from the Opposition into legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader likes to talk about how they like to practice the truth and matters of that nature. Surely he should be brought to task for indicating that the previous administration never set up legislation review committees because they certainly did.

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

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

I will repeat again, the Liberal Party, when we formed the Government, one of the first -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member is not commenting on the point of order? Well the Chair has to rule on the point of order. I would simply say there is no point of order. The Leader of the Opposition took advantage of the opportunity to make a point of clarification.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I repeat again, when the Liberal Party formed the Government of this Province, very early in our mandate we formed Legislation Review Committees that the Tories did not have in place before. I will repeat. We formed Legislation Review Committees to take pieces of legislation, and if the need arose, to travel the Province and allow not only the Opposition to have some say in legislation, but to allow people of the Province to have some say in the legislation.

That is another great election reform; a great House of Assembly reform; a great legislative reform that this party has brought about since we have been in office.

We then put this great Liberal Bill into that system - this great Liberal Bill into the system - because now that great Liberal Bill becomes part of the House of Assembly of the Legislature of this Province. So we put it into this system, and the Legislation Review Committee reviewed the Bill. This is the very first time that there was one Tory eyeball on this document - on this Bill - the very first time. So the Legislation Review Committee took it and they examined it. They sent out copies of the Bill around the Province. Decided that maybe they should share this good information with the people of the Province. Sent out copies of the Bill around the Province to interested groups and got some feedback.

This Legislation Review Committee, set up by this Liberal Government, then had meetings on the particular piece of legislation. I understand that a report is in the process of being written right now on this great Liberal Bill. I am hoping in the very near future we will have the report from that Committee. I do not know, I have no knowledge at this point in time, of the types of changes they might be suggesting. But I am sure that they will suggest some changes. They are doing their job. We will debate these changes after second reading of this Bill during the Committee stage.

So in summary - I do not want to go on too long. The point I want to make is that this is indeed a Liberal Bill. It is Liberal reform of the election process in this Province. It is the Liberal Party indicating that it wants a better election process, that it wants to control the election spending by individuals, candidates and by parties. That it wants to have a proper Elections Act in this Province. That is what it is. It is a creature of the Liberal Party.

As I indicated a little earlier, all through the process there was full input. First of all by some civil servants. There was full input by the Liberal Party and Liberal Party people; there was full input by the Liberal Cabinet; there was full input by the Liberal caucus. Up to that point not a single - as far as I know - Tory eyeball fell on it. Until we turned it over to the Legislation Review Committee and then there were a couple of Tory eyeballs that fell on it. At that point in time.

That Committee spread the good news around the Province, had submissions from individuals, had public hearings, and the Bill was fully discussed. During that public hearing process there may have been a few more Tory eyeballs that fell on it. Not very many, because there are not very many of them left in the Province, but a few Tory eyeballs.

So, Mr. Speaker, it gives me tremendous pleasure - you don't realise how much pleasure it gives me. It is a tremendous honour to introduce into the House of Assembly, Bill No. 1, "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Election Financing." We will go through the process. There will be adequate debate on second reading. Then, during the Committee stage, we will hear from the Legislation Review Committee and debate any changes. I want to say to the people of the Province that before this spring session is over I would like to see in place finally in this Province an Election Act that not only we can be proud of, but can serve as a model to the whole country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will be a couple of minutes only and I will probably make as much sense as the Government House Leader did in thirty minutes. I just want to say that I have already spoken in second reading on this particular piece of legislation. We had second reading debate on it last session. When was that? November, December? December at least. So four months ago this was introduced, second reading. The Premier spoke and I spoke. I am not sure if the NDP spoke on it. But in any event we all know - everything the Government House Leader said, we know all about all that stuff, it's all repetitive. The important thing now is that it is being scrutinized by the Legislation Review Committee. There are groups that we know of - post-secondary students, unions, political parties - which have made representations. The disabled, I think, was another group all of whom have some input, some expressions of concern, and improvements they would like to see, so until that process is completed there is not much one can say. We know what is in the legislation because we have had it really since last December and all we did here today was change the cover, I guess, and call it a different bill because of the new session. There is not much else I am going to add to it. I said, back in December, four months ago, what I wanted to say on the Bill. I commended the Government for bringing in the legislation. I had absolutely no problem commending them for it. I did point out that in fact there was a lot of work done on election legislation. In fact the Member for Green Bay had worked on it for quite awhile when he was working in the Premier's Office in the old administration.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was seventeen years ago.

MR. SIMMS: No, not seventeen years ago. The point I am trying to make, Mr. Speaker, if the Government House Leader was honest he would have told his caucus that most of what is in this Bill was actually in that draft because we have a copy of the draft and a lot of it -

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: What is the Pleasantville warbler saying over there today?


MR. SIMMS: Oh, yes it is the Pleasantville warbler. The Bell Island warbler was parliamentary, was acceptable in the House. There is nothing wrong with it.

A lot of the material contained in the Bill is not something that the Liberal Party suddenly invented as the Liberal Party the last two or three years, or something, before they took the Government. I would not want the Government House Leader to give that kind of impression. I do not think he intends to give that kind of impression.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Did you? Oh, he did. That is not quite fair or not quite accurate, but anyway, who really cares now that it is in place, now that it is done?

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: No. Who really cares now that it is in place?

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Well, if you do, beat your chest, pound your chest, but I tell you this, if you are trying to get votes from it it will not get you one single vote. That is the reality. Mr. Speaker, we support the principle of the Bill. That is what we are debating in second reading, simply the principle of the Bill, and it is an Act To Reform Elections And Election Financing. We could argue that it could be changed, increased, improved, and all that kind of stuff, and amended, which I suspect it will be as a result of the committee's report. If we can get that committee to give its report. That is one concern that I might have, and maybe the chairman of the committee who is going to speak next will indicate whether in fact the committee's report is going to be brought in this Spring, this session of the House, before the House adjourns in May or June, because there is some speculation out there that the committee may not be ready to bring in a report. They might want to do some further investigation, and further study, which might require more time. I just hope that is not on their agenda. That might be just a silly rumour, or whatever, that is going around, but I do hope that it will be brought in this session, assuming the session is not prorogued for an election before that time.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I have already spoken on it so, as I said, there is not much else you can say. In second reading in principle we support it, but we will be, in committee, advocating some changes and some improvements to it, where it should be done, but in terms of principle of the Bill, who is going to argue with it?

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to rise and debate "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Election Financing." I am very pleased to do this for a number of reasons but to follow-up on what the President of Treasury Board was saying, Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to follow-up on it as a Liberal, as one who has participated in the Liberal Party for quite a number of years and sought to instil accountability and fairness and certainly, Mr. Speaker, standards and structures in election financing, in running general elections in this Province as one who has followed that process and advocated change to how our elections are run, and how our political parties are supposed to be accountable to the public. I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, that I am here today as a member of the Liberal Government that brought this forward because certainly the general public, and interested observers have been calling for this particular action for quite a number of years.

I remember following a number of general elections when the previous Premier used to be pronouncing his promise that there is no way we are going to be going into another election without a new Elections Act. Every time he would get towards the end of his particular campaign he would guarantee that there would be a new Elections Act forthcoming. Every Throne Speech that used to be brought up, Mr. Speaker, for about ten years they were saying: there is going to be, there has to be, there will be a new Elections Act. But, Mr. Speaker, to no avail, always tomorrow, always trying to indicate to the public that some day the sun will shine, some day there will be some reform.

Mr. Speaker, obviously the people out there said that we are not going to wait for the pie in the sky dreams of that government, Mr. Speaker, we are going to hand over the responsibility to the people in this Province that are going to effect real change, Mr. Speaker. To the party that will effect real change. A prominent part of that real change agenda was a new Elections Act, and today here is the new Elections Act, Mr. Speaker, by this Government.

I just wanted to talk about the process, Mr. Speaker, and also a couple of the underlying principles that I feel the general public would be encouraged to know. They are prominent in this piece of legislation. The process itself from the committee stage followed a public request for submissions on two or three occasions, certainly, in an advertised form through the various medium, and certainly as a member of the committee and one who wanted to make sure that the public had every knowledge of this, we made sure through regular press releases that this was happening, and I can certainly say that we were very encouraged by the response that we got.

We had ten or twelve days of public hearings at which time we received twelve to fifteen written presentations which were very, very substantive. They dealt with the old Elections Act pretty well section by section. Certainly, I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who put such a great deal of time into preparing and giving us their advice because that is what the process is all about, to be able to give the public a chance to be able to make their feelings known, and to see that their concerns are reflected in our legislation. That is the kind of process of accountability, Mr. Speaker, that the Liberal Party and this Government stands for, and we are very encouraged by the time, dedication and energy that various groups put into this piece of legislation, and certainly their concerns are going to be very seriously considered as we go about it.

I must say, Mr. Speaker, as the President of Treasury of Board certainly brought up a few minutes ago, I was a little bit surprised when one of the Tory eyeballs first saw the light of this Elections Act that he wondered why there wasn't a proper consultation process with members of his party and members of the NDP, and why that did not happen. I was a bit surprised at that, but I guess the more I thought about it, the more amusing it sounded because that hon. Member was obviously being devious, I suppose. I would not know, but maybe he might have been a little bit facetious as well, Mr. Speaker, because obviously we all know that a prominent part of the Liberal Party platform, a very substantial element of our election campaign would not be tainted, it would not be subject to, it would not be interfered with, it would certainly not in any way, shape or form reflect anything other than Liberal Party principles and Liberal Party views, so, I am sure that as a member of the previous government he would know that there would not be an opportunity, not certainly in the drafting stages or anywhere in the party structure that the other respective parties in the Province would have a role to play. That is what the people of the Province said to us when they elected us in 1989, that we want you to put a Liberal stamp on electoral reform; we want you to make sure that the principles of liberalism are reflected in this piece of legislation, and we are very pleased that, that is what has happened.

So I was a bit amused that there was a very vigorous campaign put on by the Member for Kilbride to know who drafted this Bill, who were the bogey men and bogey women who did this; who did this and why didn't we consult with the PC Party and the NDP Party, but certainly never to fail, the members of the Government committee made sure that full disclosure was made and the accountability was there for the members opposite and they were certainly made well aware of the tremendous work that was put into this by the members of the drafting committee, and again I would like to thank these people for doing such diligent work and I know there are members on this side who put tremendous work into it through the party committee, who should also receive certain thanks for their works.

Mr. Speaker, for the next number of minutes I would like to talk about the content and particularly two of the principles that are very, very real and which come out in this piece of legislation, and that is one of accountability and fairness. These are two fundamental principles of liberalism and certainly principles that we want to see put in place in this Elections Act. There are a number of very specific sections in the Elections Act which see to it that the principle of accountability is prominent and real, particularly when we look at financing elections, we look at how elections are being financed.

We will never, from now on, after this Elections Act is made law, have a situation where a candidate can use his economic clout to go out and be able to, in some way, curb public opinion because of mass advertising or any other exercise of economic power. Mr. Speaker, that will not happen again in this Province because we are putting in place specific spending limits. We are saying that there has to be accountability there so that we do not have the other vested interests going out and making sure that their particular philosophy is implanted upon the political campaign, so there is going to be spending limits on the candidates at the provincial district level to the tune of three dollars per voter to a maximum of $20,000 per election and certainly a minimum of $8,000.

These are real spending limits that will keep the financing of elections within the reach of every individual who would want to seek public office and that certainly is another reason why the spending limits were put in place, and the same thing will apply to the provincial parties and the amount of money that the parties can spend when it comes to promoting the general campaign of the party. They will be restricted on what they can spend on mass advertising and promoting of different candidates, so, there is going to be that accounting, on the limit of contributions.

We are also going to take it our of the hands of the rich and powerful. We are going to take it away from the people who want to in some way influence their economic power over the way that the candidates operate, and certainly all the advertising would be formulated. We are going to say to people that every individual will have a limit of $2,500 per year that they can contribute to the election of any candidate or to the general party coffers. So you won't be having those $25,000 contributions to particular candidates which has happened in the past and that we have all heard rumours about that may have affected policy. This is not light stuff. What we are saying is that the whole process has to be void of any significant influence by any particular group in society, and particularly the general interests of the public must be protected from the overriding influence that the economic power can exert from time to time. So we are going to have a limit on the contributions.

Apart from the spending limits and the limit on contributions, accountability will be taken even further under this legislation to the effect there will have to be public disclosure of these contributions. For the first time ever there will be legislation saying that anybody who contributes over $100 to a party or a district association will have to disclose that to the public - to tell the public who is behind the Liberal Party or the PC Party or the NDP Party. This is what this piece of legislation is going to do - to finally tell the people. These are not the promises of the past. These are the actions of today. This is what we are going to do to show to the people of this Province that we are acting in their interests, and certainly that we are going to be, I would think, receivers of their particular acknowledgement of these virtues when the time comes around. They are not going to be able to say that this Government and this Party is not going to be living up to its promises, because we certainly are.

Also, as a final element of accountability, this legislation is going to provide an annual audit of district associations, and certainly an annual audit of the provincial parties. This audit will further enhance the credibility of the process, the credibility of the institutions, and the credibility of the political process as it relates to district associations and respective political parties.

What we are going to see is full disclosure through a credible audit process showing that each district association received such and such amount of funds and that they were dispersed in such and such a way. This is the kind of thing that was unknown in elections financing and elections law in this Province, and it is time. Certainly that was the overwhelming message that we got from the public hearing process - that the people coming forward said: it is time, and thank you very much for making sure that this thing was put in place, because we all know that over the last number of years in particular, and with the actions of the Federal Government in particular, and the Prime Minister is probably one who has received the leading criticism on this - we have seen a certain degree, if not a large degree, of public cynicism towards the political process. We have seen the public show disdain for the way that our political parties operate, and certainly how our politicians are deemed to be acting on their behalf.

I believe that this piece of legislation is not only living up to a promise and a prominent part of our election campaign, but it is also in keeping with what the public want to see. They want to see their institutions become more credible and more accountable. They want to see their politicians being more fully open to the public about where they receive their funding and how that funding is being spent.

On the principle of fairness, there are other prominent elements of this piece of elections law that connotate fairness. We will see where the economically disadvantaged in our society will have a greater opportunity to participate in the political process as a result of this piece of legislation. We will know that if a candidate or a party in the political process receives greater than 15 per cent of the popular vote, either at a district level or a provincial level, they will have one-third of their appropriate eligible expenses returned to them. So we will see disadvantaged groups in society, like the youth of our Province who have great ideas and great energy, and want to get involved in the political process.

Before, there were no rules. You didn't know if you were going to be running against a total open-ended financed campaign. You didn't know that there was going to be this fairness there so that you were not being overwhelmed by the economic clout of your opponent. So now we will know that the youth of this Province who want to participate will know the limits they have to operate in. They will know what the rules are.

I noted a few days ago, for women who have traditionally not been able to garner the economic support to be able to participate more fully in election campaigns, this piece of legislation will allow that. I am sure one of the things the Commitee will consider is whether the day-care expenses can be considered as eligible election expenses for women candidates. Because, as we all know, women generally still have the primary responsibility for child rearing in our society. So I think that this would be a good reform, a good piece of legislation moving in the direction of fairness that everybody in the Province would want to see.

Another element of this legislation that moves us into the process of fairness is the access to the tax credit. As you know, right now, in the federal political parties, and under the Federal Elections Act, you can make a contribution to the federal candidate in an election, or the federal party between elections, or even during elections, for that matter, and receive a political tax credit, which, for simple purposes, I illustrate that if you were to give $100 to the Liberal Party of Canada, you would receive $75 back on your income tax as a direct tax credit on federal tax payable.

Well, what we are doing here in this Province is we are going to allow all the people in this Province who want to contribute to the Liberal Party - and I know there are vast numbers, hundreds of these people out there, who want to, have to and will contribute to the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I know that they will be happy to know that their contributions are going to be considered as provincial tax credits. So if a number of people want to make the $100 contribution to the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, then they will receive an appropriate tax credit under the provincial tax payable.

So, what we are doing here is a major reform, a major step forward to see that people who were economically disadvantaged, who could not participate in elections before - or even new political parties, we are saying to new political parties who never had the economic base or the membership base before, to be able to get that outright donation from their clients or supporters, now, they will be able to go out there and finance their parties and, indeed, their district campaigns, from the government tax credit. This is a very real change and one I think that will be very beneficial to the political process. We don't want to prohibit new parties; we don't want to prohibit candidates who don't want to be affiliated with the mainstream parties. We want to encourage diversity, openness, we want to encourage people to participate in the political process. We don't want, in any way, to see anybody out there who wants to run for public office being prohibited or not knowing what the rules are. This is a very big piece of reform, legislation that will affect the governing of elections and election financing for some time to come.

If I might make note, one of the concerns that was raised through our public hearings, and one that the Committee, I am sure, will have to seriously consider as a significant issue, was the issue of the proxy vote. A number of the people who came forward noted to us that the proxy vote was not something that they thought was workable. Also, I might say that many people thought it was fundamentally unfair, in the sense that it would not give the people that security of vote, that confidentiality of vote. The proxy vote, as everybody knows, you would have to give the right to somebody else in writing to be able to cast that vote for you.

Many people have expressed the view that the proxy vote should be reconsidered. I might also note that the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform that was tabled a couple of weeks ago in the Federal House of Commons, that particular Commission also noted that the proxy vote was not an appropriate form of voting for people who could not be at the polling booth on election day. They have also recommended that the proxy vote be abolished.

So I am sure that this Committee will consider whether we should look at a special write-in ballot as a way that might be a reasonable alternative, where that ballot would be exercised in the advance poll, part of the election process. Each polling station would have a number of special ballots on which anybody who deemed they could not be at that particular polling station on voting day - for instance, students, if students were in here in St. John's and they knew they couldn't be back home and vote on election day then they may be able to go in in the advance poll and select a special ballot upon which they could write in, 'Danny Dumaresque, I vote for him in Eagle River,' something of that nature.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Somebody at the post-secondary level may say that is what they would like to do, Mr. Speaker, and certainly, I expect many of them will be writing on these special ballots for my particular candidacy. I don't doubt also that great numbers will also accrue to other members of this side.

Mr. Speaker, this gives students the opportunity before the actual voting day to be able to indicate their preference of candidates in their home communities, and certainly, they will then be directed to the Chief Electoral Office, where they will be counted and documented. I believe this may very well be a reasonable alternative to the proxy vote, and one that may very well meet with the Committee's recommendations.

I don't know how much more we could talk about today. There are other very prominent parts of this piece of legislation that we could debate, the fact that there is going to be greater accountability in the sense of people being penalized for circumventing the Act, that there will be a process in place where the Chief Electoral Office will be a scrutinizer of the political process.

I must also point out on that note that this is another fundamental change of this legislation to what was there previously. Previously, the Chief Electoral Officer was an officer of the governing party, or the government, as such.

AN HON. MEMBER: A political hack.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Well, I don't know if it would be appropriate to say, Mr. Speaker, that the person in the past was a political hack.

AN HON. MEMBER: Very appropriate.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I do not know if that would be appropriate. But, Mr. Speaker, what we will see tomorrow when this Elections Act is in place, is that process forever displaced with true accountability. Because the Chief Electoral Officer will be an officer of the House of Assembly. That person will have to be approved by the House of Assembly, and after that time that office will then operate and only be accountable to the House of Assembly, rather than to the government or to the Minister of Justice.

So I think what I have outlined today is a number of the fundamental principles of that we are proud to see reflected in this particular Act. What we have seen in this Act is a government that is open, that is accountable, that is determined to see that fairness and balance is instituted in our election process and the governing of our political parties as we see enunciated and personified in other elements of our policy that this Government has been putting in place since our election in 1989.

So I would conclude by saying to the Leader of the Opposition that it is the Committee's intention - and I can certainly say that as the Chairman of the Committee - that it is my intention to see that the report from the Committee is brought back before this session ends. Certainly, I believe that the serious, conscientious and comprehensive presentations that were given to us by all the groups will be given very serious consideration. I would expect that there will be some amendments, but, certainly, no amendments will be forthcoming that will take away from the great Liberal principles that are prominent in this bill and that will certainly live with us forever after this piece of legislation goes through this hon. House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognise the hon. Member for St. John's East I would like to welcome to the gallery this morning, on behalf of hon. members, fifty Grade V students from St. Pat's Hall School in St. John's. Thirty of these students are from the challenging class, accompanied by their teachers, Brother Conti, Mrs. Quinlan, Mrs. Power, Mrs. O'Neil and Mrs. Kennedy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a privilege to rise and speak in this debate on the Elections Act, where we are talking about approval in principle of this bill. It is a bill that our party supports in principle. But while we are talking about principles I noted that, as usual, the Member for Eagle River, who happens to Chair this committee, cannot resist sticking his rhetorical foot in his mouth, as he usually does, talking about the great principles of liberalism.

Mr. Speaker, for this member to come to this House and talk about the great principles of liberalism in connection with election financing gives rise to a number of questions. Perhaps if the member wishes to speak again in debate, some of the questions that might be asked are: Which principles of liberalism? Is it the principles of liberalism that are followed by the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, who have a secret slush fund collected over many years that they are now even ashamed to use because they know that it has come from graft and corruption, Mr. Speaker, from monies received from liquor stores and liquor licences. That is one of the principles of liberalism in the Province of Nova Scotia which caused their leader to have to resign, Mr. Speaker. He couldn't carry on. The people didn't trust him. They thought he was tainted with one of these great principles of liberalism that the minister is espousing.

So, Mr. Speaker, the questions of the principles of liberalism, these are the questions we want to know. We want to know, for example, was it the principle of liberalism that had to do with the payments to the Premier when he was Leader of the Opposition, and before he was Premier that came from unknown sources, sources which are not to be revealed, Mr. Speaker, not by this bill or by any other bill. Mr. Speaker, those are the kinds of principles of liberalism. Are they the principles of liberalism that the Member for Eagle River was referring to when he was referring to this bill? I don't know, Mr. Speaker. I don't know. But these are two principles of liberalism that I find a very interesting question to be answered, and perhaps the member will answer them, why that is not dealt with in this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there is another principle that I think is very important, and I think hon. members yesterday or Wednesday in this House had an opportunity to address, the issue of nomination meetings, as well. This bill doesn't deal with that. Election expenses for nominations is also something that is missing from this bill. I think that is important, and it has been revealed as being important by the Royal Commission on Electoral Financing. The federal commission just recently reported has made recommendations that changes ought to be made. This is a party structure issue, but I think that once the legislature, through this bill, takes control over registered parties, then the legislature would have a right to insist on certain things in order to keep the electoral process properly operating; yet there ought to be some limits on nomination processes for registered parties because that is an impediment, Mr. Speaker. That has been recognized as being a barrier to women seeking electoral office, it is recognized by studies done for the federal Royal Commission on Elections and Election Financing, and appears in their report as part of their assessment of the barriers to the election of women in politics. Mr. Speaker, that is missing from this bill, although there are some good things here.

I am glad to see, Mr. Speaker, that there will be a transparency in relation to the funding of elections and the funding of political parties by individuals, groups, trade unions and others. That is proper and appropriate, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad to see that this has been brought to this House after being promised a number of times, not only by this government, but by the previous government for many years. So having promised it once, twice or three times we now have it, the previous government had been promising it for some time and I am glad to see it. I have to acknowledge that it was this government that brought it in. This is the government of the day. We would expect them to bring it in. It is only right that they bring it in, and I am glad that they have done so. They deserve credit for bringing it in, but it is only right and proper that they do it.

It was the former leader of the New Democratic Party, Mr. Speaker, who sat in this House, who kept for many years insisting that the Elections Act be amended, that rules and proper rules for election financing be brought before this House. Now, that has been done and I have to congratulate the government for taking this step. It is long overdue, and it is time that the legislation was brought before this House, so I am pleased to see it. As I say, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things that I find missing from this Bill and some things that disturb me slightly. These are things that will be dealt with in committee when amendments can be brought forward, but I would say certain of those things that caused me concern, Mr. Speaker, and caused concern to a number of people who appeared before the committee have to do with the notion of proxy voting and special polls. Some attention has to be paid to those provisions and certain changes ought to be made there to provide a place for special polls in substantial areas where there would be expected to be large numbers of individuals who may wish to take advantage of the special polls, particularly students, Mr. Speaker.

I do not think they need to be singled out as being somehow more special than anybody else, but it just happens that the category of people who happen to be students congregate in large numbers in certain parts of our Province, and for that reason when there is obviously a congregation of individuals who are in the one place and who may wish to vote in their home ridings then I think that would be appropriate. There are some difficulties as well, Mr. Speaker. There are some difficulties of application in the notion of who can vote and who cannot, and the residence requirements. I know the Member for Pleasantville and I were trying to wend our way through the provisions and see what they really meant. The reality of life in elections is that these debates, or these disagreements about what the Act actually means are not something that ever get decided definitively by a court of law or anybody else. They are decided in little arguments that take place between official agents, sometimes candidates, and the deputy returning officers or the returning officers on the day of the election. They are problems that cannot really be resolved in any satisfactory way on that day.

If the electoral officer has one view and the candidate, or the candidate's agent has another, we all know who loses. In that circumstance a ruling is made and while, obviously, one can go and controvert an election if there are half a dozen or a dozen votes in a similar circumstance that give rise to it, that certainly should not be the only option open, and maybe it should be clarified here. I do not particularly see any reason why the same approach that is taken under the Federal Elections Act should not be taken in our Act, that a person who happens to be resident in a particular provincial district, once he has met the residence requirements in the Province, that person should be allowed to vote in the district in which he resides on the day of the election. There should not be any particular reason why they would have to show a contention to remain, and live, and stay there in some legalist way that I now have a fixed intention to remain in St. John's East, or St. John's West. If a person moves his residence and happens to take up residence in Pleasantville three days before the election then the person should be able to vote there.


MR. HARRIS: In Pleasantville. If the person so chooses they could even vote for their sitting member. They would not have to but they could if they wanted to. They should have that right and it should not depend on somebody's interpretation of whether you have actually decided to reside there or you are only there for three weeks because you happen to have a relative who lives nearby, or you happen to be there because you are doing a six week course and you are not really going to stay there. If you happen to come to town to do a three month course at university and you intend to go back to your home in Baie Verte - White Bay, or wherever you happen to live, or if you happen to live in a boarding house owned by the Member for St. John's South if he has one, I do not know, he may have one. If you happen to move in there for a brief period of time then you are residing in the district and that should be sufficient, Mr. Speaker, to allow an individual to vote.

It ought not to be complicated. We ought not to have electors, individual citizens of this Province have to study up the Elections Act and consult a lawyer at great expense to find out whether he is allowed to vote in St. John's East, St. John's West, or whether he is forced to vote for the Member for Eagle River, if he is the only person running. We want the individual to know without having to have a law degree or a ruling from the chief electoral officer as to whether or not he can vote in a particular riding. That should be cleared up.

The issue of proxy voting raises some problems. One of the problems raised by this is that if proxy voting is the only method by which individuals can cast a ballot in their - let's call it home riding for lack of a better word - if the Member for Eagle River has one or two supporters, which he might have going to Memorial University, who might support him as opposed to the other candidates offering, then they might not want one of their other comrades or friends up in Eagle River to know how they are voting. They might not want them to know that they are actually casting their ballot for the Member for Eagle River, because a secret ballot is very important to the people of this Province and is a fundamental aspect of our democracy. Proxy voting under the scheme proposed takes away that right, and that is an unfortunate aspect of it.

If some way could be found of allowing a person to vote from a distance through a mail ballot, that could be done. I understand from the former chief electoral officer who appeared before the committee that a mail ballot has been in operation in other jurisdictions and has worked successfully. He was indicating that a mail ballot was the choice of an election that was held as a result of the disruption at Oka where there was a need for a supervised election to determine what was going to happen to the band council at the reserve. That was done by mail under the auspices of a properly supervised election to the same degree of importance and certitude required as there would be under a provincial election. It was found that this can be done properly if the political will is there and if the thing is set up in advance.

I would prefer to see a mail ballot for those who cannot be able to appear at a special poll or at a poll in their home riding where they are eligible to vote or where they want to vote. I think students should still have a choice of voting. Let them decide whether they are more inclined to vote in the place where they are residing at the time of the election. Whether an individual from White Bay happens to be in Corner Brook for a period of time taking a course or working or whatever, whether he or she wants to vote in the City of Corner Brook should be up to the individual. They happen to be residing there and that is where they are residing at the moment and they want to vote in the local election for the member, the representative for that riding, that should be their choice. If they do have an affinity to a home riding and can demonstrate that they are really still a resident of White Bay, of Sop's Arm or Jackson's Arm, and they want to vote there, then they should be entitled to do so, and a special poll should still be maintained for that purpose.

In areas where there are not congregations of people, and every member I know and every candidate for election in a period of weeks after the election gets a whole series of envelopes from the chief electoral office, most of them with nothing in them, or a report, a return from a special ballot held in each of the fifty-two ridings, most of which show that nobody voted or one person voted, and it seems to be an awful waste of bureaucratic time and money to have this procedure which seems to be relatively unused.

A simple procedure involving a mail ballot which has the proper amount of security and scrutiny attached to it would allow for a secret ballot to continue, and a proxy voter does not have to give up his or her secret ballot in order to be able to play a role in an election in his or her home riding. I think that needs some attention and needs to be changed, and I would like to see an amendment to that effect in the committee stage.

In addition, there are some problems in relation to the requirements for audits. I think there ought to be a certain amount of tolerance, if you will, of the time that it might take for people to get up to speed in terms of dealing with this. We do not want to have the political process so inundated with rules and regulations and bureaucracy that there isn't an opportunity for true political expression to take place by new political parties forming that might wish to participate in the political process. It ought to be made easy for people to participate in the political process, and there ought not to be special provisions that protect the one or two or three parties which happen to dominate at any particular time, so, Mr. Speaker, I think we are dealing here with an Act that we anticipate might be in force for a long period of time and I would like to see that the Elections Act is fair to, not just circumstances that obtain right now, but to circumstances that might obtain in a year or two or three year's time.

An example, Mr. Speaker, is the design of this House. I understand this House was designed when there was another government in power, who assumed they would probably always be in power; wrongly, wrongly they assumed they would always be in power and so they designed the House and they designed the offices for a large Cabinet and a small caucus and that did not happen. Now, they have a small caucus and the Government has a small Cabinet, so when we are making electoral laws we have to assume that the electorate is going to exercise choices and that they may exercise the choice not to support the dominant party or the dominant couple of parties and support a third party or a fourth party or a fifth party, and our Elections Act ought to be fair enough to accommodate those things.

So, Mr. Speaker, if the Reform Party for example, God forbid, I do not think it will ever make any headway here in Newfoundland, but if they wanted to participate in elections in Newfoundland, they should be able to do that without constraints in their place. So I think there would be some impediment if the auditing requirements are stringently adhered to and perhaps, Mr. Speaker, what we have done is, borrowed bits and pieces from other acts.

We have borrowed heavily I understand from the New Brunswick Legislation; they have a whole series of requirements for political parties in the Province of New Brunswick, and I think that this Act has borrowed heavily from them. I think the Member for Eagle River would probably acknowledge that this is the case; that our legislation borrows heavily from there and from other jurisdictions. But one thing we did not borrow from the Province of New Brunswick was the fact that their province gives support to political parties between elections, and the government, the electors and the taxpayers of New Brunswick provide support to political parties in the interim on the basis of the number of votes received by that party in a previous election, and that would provide a certain level of ability on behalf of parties to comply with the auditing requirements and the bureaucratic requirements that are here.

I am not saying that they are bad requirements, I think that it is important to have proper books and records kept and only one set, not two or three or four; not one set for the brown bags and one set for the public and one set for the auditors, not three or four sets, only one set of books, properly audited and that is a proper way of doing things. All parties should be able to participate in that, not go out and have to fund raise to pay an accountant to do the books. That ought not to be the role or the duty of political parties, that is a necessity of public purpose, than the public purse, Mr. Speaker, perhaps could look after that by some form of assistance to parties who comply with the auditing in other bureaucratic requirements -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is already in there.

MR. HARRIS: - no doubt the Member for Eagle River will point out those particular provisions to the House at an appropriate moment, but I think the necessity of ensuring that people are able to comply with the Act, ought to be a concern of the Government as well. We do have a concern too, Mr. Speaker, about some of the provisions respecting contributions from corporations and trade unions. I do not think that the provisions are properly conceived, I do not see the rationale for treating, if the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island happens to incorporate a company downstairs in the Registry of Companies, why he should be permitted, through his company, to donate $10,000 while he, in his own personal capacity, can only donate $2,500. I do not see why, Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Pleasantville has a company that only involves him and nobody else, that he can donate $10,000 to a political party as his maximum, and that a trade union consisting of 20,000 or 30,000 members can equally donate $10,000. That seems to me to be inequitable. That there be an equal comparison between a sole shareholder company of $10,000 and a union which might have 5,000, or 6,000 or 10,000 or 20,000 members, that seems to me to be unfair.

The notion of fairness and balance that the Members opposite seem to roll off their tongues as if it was some mantra, the mantra of the Liberal Party, merely a mantra. We do not see it in the legislation, we do not see fair treatment and equality between corporations versus unions. They are not really equal at all.

So there are a number of difficulties with this legislation and I think I have pointed out some of them here. But I will say that our Party is on record already from first reading of this Bill as being in support of the general principles of electoral reform. In fact, they are principles upon which our Party called for many years for reform to the electoral process to permit a proper accountability of election expenditures and accountability of election donations. I think that that is proper and appropriate that they be included in legislation. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that this Bill is supported in principle by the New Democratic Party.

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

MR. REID: I was getting a little nervous there for a while, Mr. Speaker. I did not think there was going to be any of my hon. colleagues on the other side to hear what I have to say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: I know, they sent a note.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) that you were about to speak so we all rushed back in.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and just make a few comments on this particular Bill because I am a Member of the House Committee that is dealing with this Bill. It is a pretty important piece of legislation and I do not know if all of us as Members have taken the time to go through it. But there are a number of areas where the old Bill has been changed, and some pretty drastic changes I guess as it relates to voting procedures as well as financial, to both district associations and the candidates.

There are a number of sections in the Bill that I want to refer to. Maybe by doing what we are doing this morning it will be a bit of an education for some of the Members, and then they will have some idea of how important this particular Bill is. I will say that the Committee made up of Members from both sides of the House have done a tremendous amount of work on this. It takes hours and hours to (Inaudible)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: And my hon. colleague for Kilbride (Inaudible) Chairman and (Inaudible) we spent I do not know how long trying to get down through this. I do not think we are actually finished yet. I think we are going to go back and spend some more time at it.

I am hoping, Mr. Speaker, that at some time before the Bill gets final reading, I think that from what I see of it and what I am hearing from Committee, I think the Bill should be able to go through the House this Spring. I am hoping that some of the problems that exist in the Bill will be addressed both in the House and by Government. I am sure -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: Well, I would not be ready to let it go right now, Mr. Speaker. I am sure with some of the comments that have been made by both Committee and other Members of the House, the Government will look at making some minor changes to be able to accommodate a large number of interest groups as well as, I guess, MHAs themselves.

I want to run down through just a couple of areas that concern me. The Member for St. John's East has already spoken on some areas that I am concerned with, as well as himself. But I just want to make a few basic comments about certain sections.

One thing about this particular Bill is that this bill will be fair to everyone. The previous method that we used in Newfoundland to fund election campaigns was certainly not a fear method, and I agree that governments in power during elections had a much broader basis of financial support from the community than Opposition parties or any party, I suppose, be it NDP, Liberal of Progressive Conservative. This particular piece of legislation closes a lot of those loopholes and will only allow a certain amount of money to be spent by a candidate in a given area of the Province. This, of course, Mr. Speaker, will make it fair for those people who are seeking election, those opponents that some of us will have, I guess, in the next election and elections to come. I agree that regardless of who you are or what financial support you are able to muster, you should be given the opportunity to have as fair a chance of getting elected in a district, be it in the Carbonear District, Naskaupi, Eagle River, or anywhere else. I think people should have the same opportunity to get elected as anybody that person is running against.

I remember back in my district, Mr. Speaker, during a leadership convention a few years ago, being told by a pretty influential person in the area that as much as $75,000 was raised in a matter of about an hour in the Conception Bay - Trinity Bay area. Mr. Speaker, I believe that maybe some of that money may even have come from a certain person in your district; and to think that $75,000 could be raised by picking up a telephone and making a call to one person in Conception Bay was just mind-boggling to me as a lowly teacher making $35,000 a year. But since being elected I know and I can see now where money like that can come.

When you think about the monies that parties spend on nomination meetings and leadership campaigns, and I guess, on elections, and you think about, I suppose, the state of the economy of Newfoundland - and not only the state of the economy of Newfoundland right now. We have not been all that well off since 1949. When you see or hear of a party spending $500,000, or a leader of a party spending $500,000, it makes one wonder how some ordinary person could even dream of ever becoming a leader of a party or the Premier of a Province. I believe that this particular bill, Mr. Speaker, will offer that opportunity to a lot of people.

I said that I wanted to make a few comments about certain sections of the bill. There is one particular section in the bill that sort of amuses me, and I am not sure. I have to remember, I guess, that I am part of the government that proposed or made a number of proposals that made up this bill. Section 70(1)(c) I hope will be re-addressed by the committee. We have talked about it several times, and the section basically reads: "a statement signed by the leader of the party to which the candidate claims affiliation verifying the affiliation of the candidate" must be acquired in order for that candidate to run and be listed as a Liberal, a Progressive Conservative, or an NDPer. I am just wondering, Mr. Speaker, if we get some maverick out there who wants to challenge somebody that the leader does not want, I was just wondering what would happen to that particular question. That is a question that is in my mind and a lot of people's minds. I am not sure of this particular section. I am certainly sure that it will probably be clarified later on.

The most important group, I think, that made presentations to us as a committee, and made some very good points, was the Association of the Disabled. They came here to the House one day and made presentations. There must have been twenty-five or thirty of them. And when we, as MHAs, or anybody, sits down and listens to the problems that these people have, in just being able to enter a building in the Province, let alone get in and be able to vote, it makes one wonder if maybe we should not go a little bit further in this particular Act than we have gone. Now, in comparison to the previous Act, this one goes a lot further than the other one but still I don't think we have gone far enough.

There is one section of the Act, 81(4), which talks about the Chief Returning Officer trying his best to make a polling station accessible by wheelchair. I think we should take that a step further and put the word 'must' in there, because regardless of where you go in this Province, I am certainly sure, Mr. Speaker, that you can find disabled people in every nook and cranny in the Province, and that particular one should be provided for. If, in the case where wheelchair accessibility is not found, the deputy returning officer has the right to change and use some other building in this particular bill, and that particular one should change.

Section 86(1) deals with students, and that particular one bothers me somewhat, as well. I guess the reason it bothers me, Mr. Speaker, is because on election night, April 20, 1989, I was declared the winner by the news media and was celebrating, only to learn the next morning at around 7:00 o'clock that the poll had not been in from the Cabot Institute, and when I got hold of the Cabot Institute, I felt that maybe my celebration was a little bit premature. When you consider what students in the Province are able to do with politicians, and do for politicians, by the way, too, because I think one of my colleagues on the other side was one of those who took advantage of students voting in St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was the leader.

MR. REID: Was it the leader? I don't know.

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of students who made representation to us, from student groups, and one of the problems that was brought to our attention with students voting and voting by proxy was the fact that they had to get some proof that they were going to the institution. There is a proper form that has to be signed but then that person has to go to the Registrar's office and get this form signed so that someone else can vote for him to prove that he is a student going to an institution. And I don't know, Mr. Speaker, what other way we can do it but there must be some way. There must be some way by special ballots at home, whereby students are able to vote without having to go through the hassle.

One comment that the president of the students' group made was that he took it, I suppose, to the nth degree and he asked, 'What would happen, I wonder, in the Registrar's Office, if all of us 18,000 students decided to go on the one day looking for our slips from the Registrar's Office?' He made a good point.

I think that students, especially students at the institutions in and around our Province, are more discouraged to vote than they are encouraged to vote. If we as MHA's, or whoever they are, or the candidates, don't go out and hassle these students and try to force them to come out to vote, in a lot of cases, the majority don't vote.

If I am not mistaken, there were over 400 students in St. John's who could have voted at Cabot during the last election, and only 125 of the four hundred and some-odd showed up. Where were the rest? Well, they were at other places. They couldn't find the time to leave classes to go to vote. They didn't have the money to get a cab to go from the University down to Cabot Institute to vote. So there has to be some way whereby students, if they are living in Corner Brook or in St. John's, or wherever they are living, should be able to vote in that particular polling area or polling station without having to travel great distances, and be able to vote for their member or for whoever they want to vote for back in their district.

Section 121 talks about moving a ballot station around in a hospital or an institution, and that particular section, I think, is a great idea. Any of us who have old age homes or hospitals, or long care home facilities for people, realize that it is pretty hard to try to get some old lady who has been bedridden for a long period of time - or for a short period of time - out to go to a polling station to vote. We did in the last Act, and we did last time, introduce polling booths to these homes, but that still hasn't settled the problem or answered the question.

What we plan to do in this particular legislation is bring the polling station from a particular room in that building to the person who is handicapped or the person who cannot get out of bed to vote, which is a good idea. I commend the government for that one.

Section 156(3) - if you have ten votes or less, automatically, now, the Chief Returning Officer immediately, within a certain period of time, calls for a recount. I don't have to go through what we had to do prior to this piece of legislation, but I think that is a good idea. It settles the question of who pays and whether or not candidates have the right, I guess, as individuals to claim for recounts. Automatically now under this particular section there would be recounts regardless. So people like my hon. friend for St. John's South the next time will not have to ask for a recount, it will be automatically done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the most important area to me personally, outside of the Committee, that has to be addressed by this Government, is the fact that this particular piece of legislation demands that every district association and every Member or every candidate for election must have a certified chartered accountant working for them.

When I think about places like Eagle River, for example, I do not know if there is a chartered accountant in Eagle River. I do not know. I know in Carbonear there are two or three. But between you and I, I would not know if I would want those two or three chartered accountants in Carbonear to be my chartered accountant. So I am going to be in a situation in Carbonear, and I guess a lot of the Members of the House of Assembly will be in the same situation. For some reason or another a number of these chartered accountants have other political affiliations other than my own. I am certainly sure that you, Mr. Chairman, for example, would find it difficult in Trinity - Bay de Verde. I am sure my hon. friend for Bellevue will find it a little difficult up there. In most of the rural areas or parts of the Province, in order for us to find a certified chartered accountant - and not general accountant, because we have asked that question; he is not going to be qualified - in order to handle our campaigns and also to look after the yearly financial operations of the local association is going to be very difficult.

I believe that Section 304(4) has to be changed. There has to be something added to it which would allow the Chief Returning Officer of course to make the decision that maybe someone other than a chartered accountant could fill these particular roles. Because if we do not we are going to have some serious problems with that.

MR. CRANE: With the money I had the last time you wouldn't need a chartered accountant.

MR. REID: My hon. friend for Harbour Grace says with the money he had the last time to run an election he would not need a chartered accountant to take care of it. No, and I guess there are a few more around like him.

Mr. Speaker, I have listened to my hon. colleague for St. John's East making his derogatory comments about my wonderful and hon. friend for Eagle River. I thought about one particular section that impressed me. That section is Section 296, and it talks about union contributions. I think that is a very good section. In fact, personally speaking, I would like to see them go even further in trying not only to stop unions from making large, large contributions to a certain political party; I would like to see them go as far as to be able to condemn that too, because as far as I am concerned, when unions in this Province or in this country have the right to deduct fees and dues from ordinary poor citizens in this Province, and in most cases that is who they are representing, and take that money to spend on political parties or to get political people - be it Liberals, Tories, or NDP's elected - as far as I am concerned, it is disgusting. It turns my stomach to think that the NDP would accept money from people living in Conception Bay North making five and six dollars an hour and getting ripped off every week or every couple of weeks for union dues that come back into St. John's and goes into the NDP coffers! Terrible! Terrible!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: It should never be allowed. As far as I am concerned it is unjust and should never be allowed. Especially to be giving money to people who run for the NDP who are supposed to have piles of money themselves - lawyers and doctors and dentists who are making ten times and a hundred times more a year than some poor labourer who is working probably in an area of the Province with a family, and only making enough to feed and keep a bit of clothes on their backs, rather than turn around and give it to the like of my hon. friend sitting across from me.

As far as I am concerned, it is a good piece of legislation. I had the privilege of sitting on the committee. I had the privilege by the way as well, of being one of the people who was asked to advise. I was honoured to make a contribution to (inaudible) this Bill. I still have some reservations about the Bill, but basically the Bill is a good one. It is revolutionary as far as I am concerned when it comes to bills in the Province, and I can assure you that a number of areas outside the Province have seen this particular Bill and the comments that we are getting from a lot of other jurisdictions in Canada is that this has to be one of the best Election Acts that we have in the country -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, today in my final comment, I am not sure what the next election will bring to the Province, but I believe that regardless of the end result, I think that the people of Newfoundland in the next election will be able to say that at least the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals ran fair and honest and financial campaigns that are no longer campaigns where people spend large amounts of money on things like liquor and the frills and that we - whoever may challenge me for example, for the Progressive Conservative nomination in Carbonear the next time, the two of us at least will be on a level playing field and I have no problems with that.

I congratulate, Mr. Chairman, the Government for bringing in this piece of legislation and I hope that by the time we finish and we are ready to close this House this Spring that this particular piece of legislation will have gone through the House and all parties will support it. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I adjourn the debate.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, when next we assemble -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the President of Treasury Board is attempting to get himself heard over the noise.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When next we assemble, I shall be calling first of all, Bill No. 6, which is a Supplementary Supply Bill.

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

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