May 11, 1992                    HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 34

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Having been a number of years in this hon. House, it is incumbent upon me to stand wearing the white rose of death commemorating the mining disaster in Nova Scotia, one of the victims being a young family man from Triton in my own constituency. I ask that Your Honour pass on a message of condolence to the Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislature, and a general message of condolence to the families concerned.

Thank you.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, it is a sad day, I agree with the hon. member. We, in the government, as well, would like to encourage Your Honour, on behalf of all of us, to send those condolences.

We recognize that when these disasters occur it heightens awareness for all of us as to the increased need for occupational health and safety in the workplace. Unfortunately, in times like these, it is after the fact and regrettable for all of us. We, as the government, and all members encourage you to send condolences, as indicated by the hon. member.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to make it clear that the motion urged upon Your Honour by the Member for Green Bay be unanimous for this House; that all members share the concern about the death of this young man and others, and also the important issue of occupational health and safety.

MR. SPEAKER: Before moving on to our routine proceedings, on behalf of hon. members, I welcome to the galleries today, fifty-five students from St. Peter's School in Upper Island Cove, in the district of Harbour Grace, accompanied by their teachers, Ms. Judy Adams, Mr. Norman Mugford, Mr. Winston Lynch, and Student Assistant, Ms. Judy Earle.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I stand today on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Development responsible for Tourism. The hon. Chuck Furey is in Toronto today at a tourism convention, promoting Newfoundland and Labrador in the Ontario sector.

This being National Tourism Awareness Week, I stand on his behalf to bring to the attention of the House the fact that May 11 - May 17, 1992 has been declared National Tourism Awareness Week across Canada, recognizing the importance that the tourism industry plays in our economy and in our everyday lives.

The national theme during tourism week is 'Canada Grows With Tourism'. This is an appropriate theme because it is the world's fastest growing industry. What's more, the United Nations has estimated that by the year 2000, tourism will have become the world's largest industry. In Canada, as an example, tourism is a $25 billion industry accounting for 622,000 jobs, ranking second only to the automobile industry in export earnings.

Mr. Furey has often said that tourism is an invisible industry, one which, however, permeates most aspects of all economic development. It is our job through National Tourism Awareness Week and, indeed, throughout the year, to raise the profile of the tourism sector to be more visible and to be recognized as the dynamic, economic stimulant that it truly is. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there are approximately 3,500 businesses scattered all over the Province which derive all or part of their income from servicing the travelling public.

These businesses employ approximately 10,000 residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, that means that on average, each business employs only three or four people, which gives the industry a very low profile; however, one of its major advantages is that it has a very high proportion of entrepreneurs compared to other industries.

Because of the industry's apparent lack of visibility, the minister wants to take this opportunity to encourage all members to keep the tourism industry in mind when formulating or debating policies in this House. Sometimes we have the tendency to forget about tourism when discussing such topics as resource management, education or transportation policy. However, all these issues and many others impact directly upon our ability to compete successfully and effectively in the highly competitive international tourism marketplace.

In this dynamic environment, we must continue to foster the growth of this industry, not at the expense of other sectors but mindful of tourism's growing importance. We continue to see that more people want to visit here because we have something that is truly attractive to them, a pristine environment, a way of life which has retained its traditional values, dramatic scenery and many other attributes. We all have a tendency to take these attributes for granted and sometimes, even to abuse them. We should all remember that those very things that attract our visitors can be easily eroded and lost forever if growth is not managed properly.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the tourism industry is not only here to stay, but that it has the potential to become one of the most important economic engines in this Province. Colleagues will recall that recently, Mr. Furey announced the formation of the John Cabot 1997 500th Anniversary Corporation. This anniversary of world significance provides a major opportunity to highlight, build and promote this Province's heritage, culture and environment. As we gear up for this event, the true potential of our tourism industry will become visible to everyone. We cannot permit otherwise.

As such, tourism will continue to play an increasing role in the debates of this House and in the lives of the general public, as well. That is why Mr. Furey, as Minister responsible for Tourism, is pleased to announce this week, May 11 to May 17, as National Tourism Week in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to respond to the statement by the minister. We are certainly pleased to participate in National Tourism Awareness Week. It is a good initiative, a national initiative designed to focus attention on tourism. In the minister's statement he says, 'Tourism is the invisible industry.' I would prefer to say it has been the forgotten industry. Too many people look upon tourism as a recreational pursuit, not as an industry, and, indeed, it is an industry, as I have said in this House many times before. It is an industry where you do not take your product to the market, you bring the market to the product.

Tourism in this Province has more potential to grow than any other industry. It is, indeed, a resource-based industry, one of which this government would be well advised to put a lot of emphasis on, because there is no other industry in this Province that has the potential of tourism to grow. We must do everything we can in bringing awareness to tourism, making people aware that tourism is a significant industry. In fact, I believe it is the third largest industry in this Province today in terms of employment. It is third largest second only to the fishing industry and the forest industry I believe. So, Mr. Speaker, it is, indeed, a very significant industry.

Anything we can do - I am not sure what these flowers that we are wearing today have to do with tourism. except I understand the government has distributed these to bring awareness to tourism week. I understand that was the purpose of them. If that has any significance then that is worthwhile, I suppose, as well. I think it is a good initiative. We welcome it and we certainly support it.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I forgot - I wasn't aware that I might be required to say it, but the white carnations are distributed today by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.

Oral Questions

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Social Services, but I notice that half the Cabinet is absent from the House. They all seem to be following the line of the Premier who has only been here for two days so far this session.

I don't know if the Government House Leader could tell me to whom I could direct my question, as to the Acting Minister of Social Services. Who would be the Acting Minister of Social Services?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I guess he does not know who the acting Minister of Social Services is.

Yesterday a very serious matter took place in this Province regarding the youth correction division of the Department of Social Services at Pleasantville, one of the worst we have ever seen. There is no doubt that happened because of the lack of security at the facility, and I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, the lack of security at the facility is as a result of the cutbacks this government has implemented. Can I ask, whoever the minister is, why there was such a lack of security yesterday at that facility to let these four youths do what was done?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of ministers absent today, as the hon. member mentioned in his preamble. The Women's Lobby is meeting in Gander and basically the Social Policy Committee with another minister is in Gander with the Premier at the Women's Lobby, as I suppose is the Leader of the Opposition, who is also not here today. I just wanted to explain these absences, Mr. Speaker.

In answer to the member's question, which I believe was why was there such a lack of security at the Pleasantville centre, the answer very simply is that this instance was not caused by lack of security therefore the question has no meaning.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there is a clear indication that there was a lot of security for that to happen - who is the minister trying to fool? Let me ask the minister why the Department of Social Services and in particular the Youth Services Division has been cut drastically? For example the Budget for 1988 had the youth corrections budget at $8,742.200 and this year it is $6,794,000. Why has government cut back that division's budget, Mr. Speaker? Why has that division's budget been cut by $2 million? If the minister is concerned let me ask him that.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there has not been a cut of $2 million. There might have been some re-arranging of money but there is no cut of $2 million.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable. Total youth corrections was $8,742.200 and in 1992 the total for youth corrections was $6,794.000. Mr. Speaker, this government has cut the Department of Social Service's budget and as a result the youth of this Province are being neglected. Let me then ask the minister another question. The administrator's position in that group home has been vacant since last Fall and I ask the minister when was the position filled, and if so, who filled it?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again I will say to the hon. member that there was no $2 million cut in the ongoing operations of that division. There may have been some rearranging. So I just want to assure him that what he is saying is not true, and that I will provide him with the exact details as soon as I can get it put together. As to his other question, I'm not sure that I am clear about the position he is talking about.

MR. TOBIN: Administrator, administrator.

MR. BAKER: Yes, but administrator where?

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Okay. Then I will check into that matter, Mr. Speaker, and get back to the hon. gentleman.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)!

MR. BAKER: The answer is, Mr. Speaker, I will look into that matter and get back to the hon. gentleman.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker. A question for the Minister of Finance. Last fall the minister postponed his proposed implementation of tax reform. Would the minister tell us what his revised schedule is? When does he propose to come forward with some tax reforms?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have already carried out some tax reform. I refer specifically to the elimination of the school tax and certain other measures. What we have done, we studied tax reform generally last year and we have focused in now specifically on the question of harmonization with the Goods and Service Tax. We have recently written, I won't say all, but a great many businesses and organizations in the Province, asking for their views on the impact on their businesses of harmonization with the Goods and Service Tax.

When we have these responses back our officials will then have discussions with various businesses to identify problems. We will be moving a little bit around the Province, so that we can get the precise impact of how our harmonization with the Goods and Service Tax would impact various businesses. When that process is completed, hopefully later this fall, we will then put out a proposal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Government may well have eliminated the school tax, but they have doubled the payroll tax and taken millions of dollars more out of the pockets of industry in this Province. That is what they have done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: The minister says that he is now consulting with certain businesses around the Province. Will the minister consult with everybody in the Province? There is more in the Province than businesses. As much as I like to defend the interests of business, there are many groups and organizations and concerned people around this Province who would also like to have input. Will the minister conduct public hearings around this Province before he moves ahead with any tax harmonization?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member was part of a government that lasted seventeen years and the only tax reform they made was to increase the sales tax. That is all they did. And when they did consult the public, they were thrown out of office.

We will be having wide consultations in the Province, Mr. Speaker, as wide as possible.

I might, just for the record, correct the hon. member when he said that we increased taxes. Actually, as a result of the recent Budget, business taxes decreased by $2 million.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker. That is why we have a record number of bankruptcies in this Province. What foolishness!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: The minister should take his head out of the sand and have a look at what he is doing to business in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

Let me ask the minister this, Mr. Speaker: Many governments in Canada have, in fact, decreased business taxes in an effort to try to stimulate the economy of those provinces, while this minister is imposing new taxes, particularly payroll taxes, increasing corporate taxes and others. Will the minister decrease taxes in order to try to move the economy of this Province?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, our tax increases in the last Budget were marginal. We decreased business taxes by $2 million. We increased overall taxes by $6 million, which meant that the personal sector was hit by $8 million, largely as a result of the increases in the tobacco tax, which came to exactly $8 million.

We are unable to reduce taxes in the foreseeable future, as I see it, because, first of all, we cannot increase our deficit. We don't want to increase our deficit because we have this very fragile credit rating and we have to be very careful of that. Secondly, we have so many demands - the hon. members opposite have been asking us to increase our spending. Every day they get up and tell us how they can spend another $100 million or so. So we are caught between keeping spending down - not being able to increase our deficit - and there is no way that we can decrease taxes in the foreseeable future, as I see it, as much as we would love to do it.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have never asked the minister to increase spending, we have asked him to spend wisely and stop wasting taxpayers' money.

That is what we have asked him to do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister would have us believe that taxes actually decreased by this past Budget. The fact of the matter is, if you read the fine print, that taxes have increased this year and he has also increased them for next year. The fact that taxes will increases more next year is doing more to harm the economy than what the minister actually did this year. It is the same old trick. Will the minister roll back those tax increases so that business can look forward to a better year next year?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member is a majority of one who is dissatisfied with the provincial Budget.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Last Friday the Stats Canada results came out showing that the labour force in this Province from March to April has shrunk by some 7,000 people in actual numbers. Can the minister give an explanation as to what happened to these 7,000 people who are no longer actively seeking work?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the hon. member for his question. From time to time there are fluctuations in the size of the labour force in the Province, just as there is in the unemployment rate, and any other indicators that might be used to determine the status of the economy - employment rates, number of people looking for jobs, number of people not looking for jobs. It is clear that one of the statistics that is kept is that from time to time as well, depending on the likelihood of accessing work at any one time, people decide for their own reasons to stop looking. Therefore they get lost from the statistical base from which unemployment insurance figures are calculated and the unemployment insurance rates change.

So there are 7,000 people out there and all that anybody knows about them for sure is that they have stopped actively looking for work. Now what they are doing in the meantime, there is no way to ascertain, unless we did research on an individualized basis. But there are 7,000 less people actively seeking employment through the last statistical record. That can go up or down in a month, and it will probably go up and down twelve different times in the next year and twelve times in the year after, it is a common occurrence.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister should also indicate where these 7,000 people have gone - as the Department of Social Services has been the recipient of most of them.

The minister is obviously aware of the crisis that we have in this Province. We have an unemployment rate nearly twice the national average, yet the minister has just brought down a budget that does absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy of this Province. Can the minister indicate to this House when he is going to address the problem of the unemployed in this Province and come forward with a program to do something about this abysmal UI rate we have in this Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a couple of things to point out in relation to the question that was asked. I note that in the media on the weekend the hon. member was trying to make a direct connection between 7,000 more people not in the labour force and 7,000 extra people gone to Social Services.

That is not the case. The caseloads in Social Services do not correspond directly or in any definable proportion to the number of people who are actively seeking work in the labour force or not actively seeking work. There are discouraged workers, but that does not equate to the fact that there are people who are then social services recipients. If you would like to draw that direct line I would like to see the evidence for it produced.

The other aspect of it, it has been pointed out many times before, and the hon. member as the critic rightfully continues to refer to the unemployment rates and so on, I would also like to point out though that five years ago, in 1987, in a comparable month, the unemployment rates were about the same as they are now, and we were into an economic boom. So I wonder what the previous administration was doing at that point in time in 1987 with a prospering fishery, and with no real difficulty economically in the country, and with an unemployment rate exactly the same as it is now.

So when we talk about the numbers, the unemployment rate is only one of several useful statistical indicators to reflect what is going on with the work force at the time. We ourselves are dedicated and committed again to trying to have an economic climate doing as much as we can, along with the rest of the provinces and the federal government, throughout the country, that promotes the opportunity for private investment, so that people can seek work other than to have to rely on the government to give them short-term work out of taxpayers' dollars.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible), all the mother's sons, are they alright?

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair is recognising the hon. Member for Fogo for the next question.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister still has not satisfactorily explained what happened to the 7,000. Let me ask the minister: Is the reason that they have not shown up on the roles of social services the fact that many of them are single, under the age of twenty-five, who are not eligible to receive social assistance? Is that the reason that they do not show up as statistics, because these people have actually nothing to live on, because there is nothing in this Province for them to do? Social services cannot care for them. The minister has failed to take care of them, and they have resorted to a life of despair. Is that not the real reason?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member can make that speech all he likes, and try to convince himself or anybody else that that is the reality, which is not the case. There is, in fact, a category recognized every month of what are legitimately recognized in the system as discouraged workers. Those people, for their own reasons, ascertain what the possibility of there obtaining work is, and then they decide whether or not they are going to actively pursue that or have themselves, of their own volition and because of their own reasons, removed from seeking work for a period of time. Next month, depending on their own individual assessment of their likelihood to ascertain work, they may be back in the work force again, and they may show up as part of the statistic. Any month we could be standing up, asking the same question, and giving the same answer, but it does not mean that the rhetoric that the hon. member opposite uses has any substance.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Approximately a month ago the minister announced a capital program in the House of approximately $60 million. One of the intents of that program was to try to stimulate the economy and provide approximately 3,000 or 4,000 jobs to some needy Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Could the minister inform the House, or tell the House today how many municipalities have already turned down the request for capital funding that had been approved?

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, probably three or four that I know of, but we have not really scrutinized the returns on this yet. We are giving the municipalities probably another week to ten days to get their responses in. There was an April 30 response time, and hopefully municipalities will be able to make up their minds by the middle of May, which is getting close now. If I have some figures at that time I will be delighted to pass them on to the hon. member.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Could the minister tell the House the total dollar value so far of municipalities that have turned it down and have also notified the department by telephone that they are going to turn it down - the total dollar value of the capital projects?

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

MR. HOGAN: I will have to check that out, Mr. Speaker. I do not have that figure readily available.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

The minister knows full well the reasons for those municipalities turning down the funding, and that is because of the new formula for the repayment of capital debt. Could the minister now tell the House if he is going to consider asking his Cabinet colleagues to change that particular formula so that municipalities in the Province can take advantage of the capital funding for 1992?

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

MR. HOGAN: I must say, they are all very good questions that the member has put forward on this subject today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HOGAN: Anybody as stunned as you would have problems with any answer.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise all hon. members that the department has undertaken, in consultation with the Federation of Municipalities and the Administrators' Association, to put together a committee to review the experiences of the Debt Retirement Plan and of the Municipal Operating Grant Plan. They hope to, over a period of time, come back to the department with their observations on the experiences of, I guess the year to date, and what the actual specific experiences have been in some municipalities. Arising out of that I would imagine there will be submissions made to my colleagues and others regarding that particular subject.

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

MR. WOODFORD: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would say it is going to be too late when the committee does report, if it does report, the minister would still have to change the formula for the repayment of capital debts. So I would ask the minister today that if that is not changed in the near future would he consider reallocating the amount of funding that has been turned down by municipalities so that the same amount of jobs can be taken advantage of in the Province for the construction season of 1992?

AN HON. MEMBER: Now answer that question.

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

MR. HOGAN: Again, a very good question, Mr. Speaker. The instant reaction would be to say no to the hon. member, but that also would have to be given some consideration under the review process that we have initiated as we do with all the new programs that we introduce.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that in Lewisporte there is a senior citizen's home, I believe, called North Haven Manor. Could the minister tell this House how many beds are in North Haven Manor, how many of them are private and government sponsored, what the ratio would be, and how much money the government has to spend each year on North Haven Manor? Does the government have those figures available?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I would have to take that question under advisement. I don't carry that kind of information around in my head.

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

MR. TOBIN: What head?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. There are seventy beds out there. Sixty-five of them are government sponsored to the tune of about $3.1 million.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: who appoints the board of a facility similar to North Haven Manor?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Chairman, the board of North Haven Manor is made up of appointees by the churches. It is an interfaith board, and government doesn't make the appointments. But I would say they are a very fine group of volunteers, Mr. Speaker.

As a matter of fact I had a complaint not too long ago about North Haven Manor suggesting that the board took government money and brought the chairman of that board from Florida to Lewisporte for a board meeting. I checked it out only to find it is a malicious lie, a rumour, an insult to the volunteers of this Province, Mr. Speaker. I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that is exactly the question my hon. friend was going to raise today.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I was interested more in how much money the government spent. But, Mr. Speaker, I do have a letter directed to me from Lewisporte, April 22, 1992, which also states that the North Haven Manor paid transportation for a Clyde Mullet to return from Florida to home for a meeting in January. Mr. Speaker, does the minister have any kind of a written report on this from the administrator of the hospital and would he table it in this House, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I want my donuts.

This shows, Mr. Speaker, what happens when people get down and crawl in the mud. This hon. member has been known for that over the past number of months in this House. Mr. Clyde Mullet is a volunteer who gives freely of his time. Last week was volunteer week when in this House we acknowledged the contributions such people make. But always there are people who will try to discredit anyone who does something voluntarily. I suspected that the hon. member would get down deep enough in the gutter to come forward with that question. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that he owes an apology not only to Mr. Mullet, but to all the interfaith homes in this Province and to all the volunteers in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: The hon. member comes in this House to try and dig out the truth, but that does not give him the licence to discredit volunteers in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. member should be ashamed of himself, and he should stand up and apologize to Mr. Mullet who is a tremendous volunteer, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is an attitude like the minister has that lead to the whole Hughes Report Commission in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, this issue was raised with me by letter from a person from Lewisporte, and it is my duty to raise it here.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Does he have a written report on this from the administrator of North Haven Manor and will he table it in this House? The minister did not answer that question.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, this matter was checked out in detail two or three weeks ago. I am totally satisfied. Mr. Mullet, who spends two or three months of the year in Florida, had to come back to Lewisporte to deal with some business matters, including the selling of a boat which he had. Months before he went to Florida he knew he would be coming back at that time. He advised the board that he would be coming back at that time and they arranged a board meeting to coincide with his visit to Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker. He is a very responsible, dedicated volunteer whom the hon. member wants to discredit. Mr. Speaker, it is a part of a smear campaign of which I have seen too much from that hon. member over the past six months in this House. I think it is utterly, totally despicable and disgraceful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. minister can yell and scream as much as he likes. I think he is protesting a bit too much. I asked a very simple question, Mr. Speaker. He is acting similar to the way he acted when he got caught jumping the line in St. Clare's, Mr. Speaker, when he didn't want to answer that question, but eventually he had to answer it.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the hon. minister: Does he have a written report on this incident and will he table it in this House of Assembly? A simple question.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, if I am acting similar it is because the sleazy question is similar. It brings out the same emotion in me, Mr. Speaker. I have told the hon. member that I have done an investigation, I am totally satisfied with the answer that I have received, and I have said that in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I will also tell the hon. member that the information I have is not signed 'Anonymous'.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The House has finished with that line of questioning. I am assuming we are going to a new line of questions, or at least, a new member.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is also for the Minister of Health. Mr. Speaker, I, along with a number of other members of the House, attended a memorial service last night for the victims of AIDS and also those suffering from HIV Virus Syndrome. I want to ask the minister: Knowing that he has met with the AIDS Support Committee on Friday of last week and knowing, from the statements made last night, of the very valuable and important service provided by the Newfoundland and Labrador AIDS Committee, whether the minister can tell the House now what his government is prepared to do to assist the committee in its current financial difficulties?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I hear that the Member for St. John's East was the only member who got political at that very touching candlelight service last night.

We are dealing with a very serious issue here and I certainly don't intend to try to score any political points on it. The hon. member's statement, that I meet with the AIDS Committee is not quite accurate, but officials from my department did meet with the AIDS Committee. I was unavoidably absent at the time, Mr. Speaker. However, we did tell the members of the AIDS Committee at that meeting, or my officials told them with my approval, that we will be looking at putting some kind of bridge financing in place to help them through the next few months. We have not agreed on an amount, Mr. Speaker. The AIDS Committee is actually a very responsible committee and I don't think it is their intent that we would be trying to make cheap political points on what has become quite a disaster, actually.

My officials have met with them and, on my instructions, have told the AIDS Committee that we will be putting in place some bridge financing. As hon. members will know, they are also expecting some money from the federal government.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My supplementary is to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations in his capacity as the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Code.

Would the minister be prepared to acknowledge, as the Minister of Health appears not to be, that there is a political dimension to this particular disease, in that one of the most high risk groups that has been identified with this has been gay men. Can the minister agree that if there had not been the discrimination against gays and lesbians permitted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Code, that this disease would be dealt with a little bit more quickly, more openly and more up front? And can the minister tell the House that his government is prepared to reconsider its previous position with respect to sexual orientation in the Human Rights Code and advise the House that it is prepared to amend the Human Rights Code to prevent and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is now permitted by the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Code?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am a little puzzled at the presentation by the hon. member because with his law background, I would expect him to approach it a little bit differently.

The fact that the Human Rights Code at the present time does not have a prohibition and does not state that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is against the law of the land, does not mean that it permits it. There is no permission for discrimination of any kind in the law in Newfoundland, so the twisted logic that would lead someone to make that statement, that the Human Rights Code permits discrimination in the Province, is an improper representation of what is, in fact, occurring.

The current position of the government in the Province, Mr. Speaker, is well understood, I think, by everyone who has addressed this issue before, and that is, that it is presently still under review and basically, that we are in a position waiting to see what changes will occur in the federal Human Rights Code, and have indicated that if such changes are forthcoming on the national scene, that the government in the Province would be probably disposed to look at in a little more urgent light and might fast track a little bit more, but in the meantime, I have been in receipt of correspondence, since responsibility for the Human Rights Code has moved to the Department of Employment and Labour Relations, and it is currently under review again within the department. There will be presentations made to myself, as minister, and to the Cabinet, in the near future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Before proceeding with the other routine business, on behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the public gallery a delegation from the town of Point Leamington in the Exploits district. The town is represented by the following persons, Mayor Wilfred Mercer, along with councillors Haggett, Warford and Thompson.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Notices of Motion

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Canada Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act." (Bill No. 24)

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Provincial Parks Act," great reforming legislation.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the resource-based industries of our Province have been seriously crippled, and are, in some cases, about to crumble; and

WHEREAS the downturn in our resource-based industries has caused a downturn in the construction industry; and

WHEREAS the combination of both have put thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians either on UI or social assistance with no hope for employment this year;

BE IT RESOLVED that the provincial government take immediate action to help the thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are finding themselves caught in the worst financial and social crisis to hit them in recent memory.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to table the answer to the question related to ministerial travel which is on the Order Paper.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 10, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The continuation of the debate on Bill No. 17.

The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have spoken on the amendment to this bill, but not to the main motion, itself, so I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the reality of what we are doing here. The title of this bill has to do with restraint of compensation; however, I think it might be more appropriately named something to the effect of the disbanding of public trust in the Province, not compensation in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, we all know we are in difficult economic times, and these are times of restraint, but the most difficult of times, I think, is when people, organizations, etc., either show their best or their worst, and given the current economic circumstances and government's reaction to its treatment of public sector employees in this Province, I can only say that this particular time of crisis economically in our Province has shown this government to be at its worst. Not only do we have a crisis economically and socially in this Province, Mr. Speaker, we have a crisis in trust. We have a government which, right up until the last minute, was negotiating in good faith contracts with public sector unions, only to, right out of the blue, come down with this heavy-handed draconian measure, restraint of compensation. Every economist in the Western world, for the previous year, was talking about an upcoming recession. All the talk shows, Canada A.M., the Journal, all the usual political pundits, were talking for the better part of a year about a coming recession. There was no surprise that this recession occurred. I think, anyone with two clues, in the civilized world knew it was coming, yet this particular administration went to work and continued to do business as usual with its unions, to negotiate contracts as per usual, right up to the very last moment, and then, having brought down the axe, they stripped, tore up, destroyed the contracts that just literally days previous, they had signed in what people thought was good trust.

Mr. Speaker, we went through a major economic crisis or recession in the early 80s. The government of the day was a Progressive Conservative Government. We had to restrain wages as a restraint measure, which was a very difficult thing to do, and no doubt, we pay the political price for it. But, Mr. Speaker, we did not break probably what is the most sacred rule of thumb in the minds of the labour movement and that is the stripping or the tearing up of duly signed contracts. We indicated that collective bargaining would be temporarily suspended for two years when your existing contract ran out, but existing contracts, themselves, were honoured; therefore, people went into their two-year restraint period at various times, depending on when the contract they were under, expired.

This government, Mr. Speaker, is not a government that can be trusted; that is what this entire bill is about, and what my entire remarks are about. It has to do with trust and an act to disband trust in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, before coming to office, during the election campaign, the government promised to bring home every mother's son to create an economic climate that would lead to job creation. The economic climate, Mr. Speaker, is only surpassed by our natural one, which at times causes us tremendous grief. I think, of late, the economic climate under the Wells Administration has even surpassed the natural climate.

I am really surprised, the weather forecasting being under federal jurisdiction, that the Premier, himself, hasn't been blaming the weather on the feds. But the economic climate, I think, while it is going to be bad throughout the Western world, because it is a global recession, in this particular Province, because of the actions of this particular government, we have a Made in Newfoundland Depression. And a lot of that came about because of a large layoff of public sector workers that took people's spending power out of the economy and made existing public servants extremely cautious with their money.

You have commercial radio stations and businesses and a handout here in this hon. House a couple of weeks ago, with some literature and lapel buttons to the effect of 'Buy something' and you hear various community and business leaders endorsing on the radio, this 'Buy something' campaign. Well, Mr. Speaker, I have a new button that I think a lot of Newfoundlanders would like to be able to wear. The unions had a button a little while ago as to the Premier's trustworthiness, a button that was deemed to be unparliamentary to wear in this House. the button entitled 'Clyde Lied', but there is another button, Mr. Speaker. It relates to this thing we hear on the radio these times, and it should read as follows: 'Clyde, try something.' 'Clyde, try something,' because this government is a do-nothing government. It has done nothing except tear down. Everything it has touched has turned to ashes. I remember the hon. Minister of Health, at one time indicating in an answer to a question, since I have been a member of this Legislature, that because of the budgetary measures of this administration, the government and the economy and the people of Newfoundland would 'rise like a phoenix from the ashes', I do believe, were his exact words. Well, Mr. Speaker, as I indicated on the television panel that particular week to the now Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, there is certainly considerable ashes from which this phoenix has to rise and I have my doubts, Mr. Speaker, given the stewardship of this particular administration, if there is any rising from the ashes forthcoming in the short to medium term.

Trust, Mr. Speaker, is the hallmark on which this government, I think, will fall. It had a report on the sexual abuse of children, the Hughes report; it sat on that for a dog's age. It has an education Royal Commission report it still has not released. They claim they eliminated the school tax. They say: 'This is one instance where we have kept faith with our trust.' But they really haven't eliminated the school tax. They played some economic trickery. They increased personal income tax. Senior citizens who were exempt from school tax but now have incomes above a certain level are paying school tax for the first time ever. So the promise to eliminate school tax and the action taken to eliminate school tax is a violation of trust, again, an example of how this administration says one thing and does another.

The leader of this administration, Mr. Speaker, before becoming elected to politics, in recent times was a courtroom lawyer, and no doubt has a way with words and is very smooth with words. The former member for St. John's East, now the Mayor of St. John's, accused the hon. the Premier of sophistry, where you basically say something and give a certain impression but, in actual fact, you mean something just the opposite, which would indicate to me that this government is not to be trusted.

On the matter of Meech Lake, that we had on the go some time ago, the Premier of the day basically said to the people of Newfoundland: 'Trust me, I know what is good for you.' The people did trust him in great numbers. I can remember, many constituents to whom I talked at the time on that particular matter, when you asked them about the details of the constitutional package, said: 'I really don't understand it, but I trust the Premier. He is a lawyer, he is a smooth talker, so it is a matter of my trusting his legal and professional judgement as to whether or not Meech Lake is a good package for the country.'

Here we are now a couple of years later, our country on the verge of either saving itself or falling apart. Should it fall apart because the Meech Lake agreement failed, I think our Premier will have violated his trust in governing this Province. He took an oath when he took office to look out for the interests of this Province. I think in retrospect now, any constitutional package forthcoming will make Meech Lake look like chicken feed compared to what will have to be signed. Therefore, the trust that was given the Premier was badly placed. The nation is in jeopardy because of him. This Premier and this administration are not to be trusted.

The Premier, I have no doubt, believes in himself and means well, but, Mr. Speaker, his background is corporate law; he has developed unto himself and on the mainland of Canada, an image, I would think, a false one, but nonetheless, an image that has developed as a constitutional lawyer. Really, he was a corporate lawyer. We saw the real man when the Bowater company pulled out of Corner Brook. The hon. gentleman at that time himself pulled up his stakes from Corner Brook and moved his law practice to St. John's, where the pickings were better. That shows the type of person we are talking about here, a person who follows the buck, the dollar.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. HEWLETT: You can talk about my severance pay till the cows come home. I am sick and tired of hearing about my severance pay. The fact of the matter is, I received severance pay according to the rank of a deputy minister, which I was at the time. And very shortly thereafter, when this administration took office, this administration fired a number of deputy ministers under severance packages far more generous than the one that was given me. So this administration has no need whatsoever to talk about severance pay, Mr. Speaker, because they have severed thousands. They have spent millions and millions in severance pay since they have come into office. Everything they have touched has turned to ashes.

They are not to be trusted: that is the message I have for the people of this Province with regard to this government, Mr. Speaker. Our Premier is not the type of Premier who wants to wade in and get involved in solving the economic problems of the Province. It is all the federal government's fault. The economic revival of the Province is being left to a commission of appointees.

Of all things we have a sociologist in charge of economic development in this Province, which makes absolutely no sense. If one were to go with some sort of commission to revitalize the economy of the Province, one would think that one would go for Lee Iacocca type or something or another. But to use the university sociologist who studied the problem to implement economic policy, Mr. Speaker, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But, again, there is the proof positive that the Premier is abusing the trust put in him by the people when he was elected to office.

This Premier that we have, Mr. Speaker, is a Premier that this Province can ill afford to have. We need a Premier who is not afraid to get his hands dirty, take off his jacket, roll up his sleeves and get down to work. We need a Premier who should be over in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore right now, not depending on the oil companies, not depending on the federal government to make sure the billion dollar hole in Hibernia is fixed. We need a Premier who is willing to intervene, who is willing to work like a former Premier did when the current Premier pulled out of Corner Brook and moved to St. John's where the pickings were better, the Premier of the day took his team of best bureaucrats, had them scour the world and found a replacement for the Bowater Company in Corner Brook.

We need a Premier who is willing to work, because being Premier of Newfoundland is not an easy job. Probably Boris Yeltsin is the only guy on the face of the earth who has a harder job to do than be Premier of Newfoundland. What do we have, Mr. Speaker? We have a fancy speech maker. We have a smooth talker. We have a smooth talker and a fancy speech maker. The mainlanders love him. They put up billboards to him. Well, I say, Mr. Speaker, they are welcome to him. I wish they would take him, because this Province needs a practical Premier, a Premier who is willing to work hard at carrying out the duties entrusted to him by the people.

I know I am being heckled from the other side, Mr. Speaker, but I think that is an indication that I am touching probably a sore point or two. There might be a little salt falling into a few wounds, and the reaction from the other side is, of course, predictable. Unfortunately, I have a sore throat. Normally, I have no problem whatsoever shouting down the entire works of them on the other side and I don't need a microphone, but today I have a sore throat so I have a problem shouting them down, Mr. Speaker. But I think I am a match for any or all of them over there when it comes to making my points in this Assembly. They can bellow at me all they want, Mr. Speaker, but they are not going to shut me up.


MR. HEWLETT: Trust, Mr. Speaker, trust! 'Amalgamation, trust us on amalgamation.' They got elected never mentioning amalgamation to the people in the general election and then ramming it down the throats of dozens and dozens of municipalities in this Province, driving up the taxes of many communities in this Province. That shows that this government can't be trusted. It got in office, then started implementing a whole bunch of policies that have absolutely nothing to do with Liberalism, absolutely nothing to do with their party platform. A lot of policies are exactly opposite to their party platform. They are not to be trusted.

The Americans put on their money, I do believe, Mr. Speaker, 'In God we trust.' In this Province, I wonder can we put on our bills that we pass through this Legislature, 'In the Premier we trust'? I doubt it very much, Mr. Speaker. I think that is the reason we have the saying that we have under our Coat of Arms which translates: 'Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God'. Because in the year 15-something or other, 500 years ago when that Coat of Arms was granted to the Province of Newfoundland, the heraldic designer of that particular Coat of Arms must have foreseen the day that the current Premier was going to come to office because 'In God We Trust' is about all. 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God' is the motto under our Coat of Arms. I guess it is to heaven we have to look, because if we look for the Premier we can only look for him trotting around the globe and making fancy speeches, impressing the mainlanders with his smooth talk, and discouraging Newfoundland workers into not registering. Seven thousand more have given up on even the thought of earning a living.

As I indicated, he is trusting in himself. He is trusting the wrong people. He is trusting the feds and the companies to save Hibernia. I hope Hibernia is saved, but if Hibernia is saved it will not because of this particular Premier. It will be in spite of this particular Premier, because this particular Premier is not getting actively involved. This is not a pro-active Premier. This is a laissez-faire Premier. This is a sit-back-and-let-the-big-companies-run-the-show Premier. This is the Premier who was Chairman of the Board of the power company and took the vocal consumer advocate off the Public Utilities Board to look after his corporate buddies. This Premier has proven that he cannot be trusted.

This is the Premier who brought in the Crown Lands Act that prevents a Newfoundlander now from trouting around a pond. You can get a licence to build a boathouse and if your boathouse is more than ten metres long, access to the beach is blocked. You put a boathouse on each corner of your property and you have effectively created a private beach for anyone who wants to approach that beach unless they approach it by boat or by parachute. The Newfoundlanders' 500-year-old right of circumnavigating a pond and casting out his line looking for a trout has died under this administration - another breach of trust with the people.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask 'Danny' who was the guest speaker at Red Bay for the graduation - his district.

MR. HEWLETT: I am told I should ask the hon. Member for Eagle River who was the guest speaker in Red Bay for the graduation. I presume, by asking him that, he must not be. Maybe that will quiet him down for a moment.

Mr. Speaker, let me give you another example of trust on the part of this administration. During the latter years of the Peckford Administration, they started a provincial park at Crescent Lake in my district, a lake which has tremendous tourism potential. Here today, it is rather ironic that it is Tourism Awareness Week. We had a ministerial statement talking about tourism awareness. We started a park at Crescent Lake, a park around the lake that is reputed to have a lake monster similar to the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, which no doubt has brought millions and millions and millions of pounds into the British and Scottish economy; but what did they do? They have a tremendous tourism potential. The mainlanders and Europeans are suckers for lake monsters. They will come to spend money and get their snap taken by the side of the lake with the lake monster. But what did they do? After the Peckford Administration started work on this park, the new administration stopped work on the park and then, in the dark of night, they sent out a crew with chain saws and they sawed down those signs which we all see along the side of the Trans-Canada, 'Provincial Park. No Cutting'. Can you imagine? In the dark of night, they sent crews out with chain saws to cut down the signs 'Provincial Park. No Cutting'. Now, you talk about sleaze. The hon. the Minister of Health was talking about sleaze earlier. How much sleazier can you get than that? Where is the trust there, that they would do such a thing?

During National Tourism Week, I have the opportunity to point out that they killed a tourism project which would have worked wonders for the south shore of Green Bay and for the economy of the Province as a whole, but they had the temerity to sneak around in the night with their chain saws and saw down the signs that said 'Provincial Park. No Cutting'. They didn't have the guts or the gall to go out there in the daylight and face the citizens of Roberts Arm and saw down the signs in front of them! They had to do it behind their backs after dark.

Trust - an Act Respecting the Restraint of Compensation. We need `An Act Respecting Trust', because this government cannot be trusted, Mr. Speaker. I wouldn't buy a used car from this government. No wonder they give themselves a car allowance. I mean, after two or three years, the way it used to be was that ministerial cars could be traded in. But who would buy a used car from this government. No wonder they gave ministerial allowances to buy cars, because no one would buy a car driven by a minister of this Crown.

I remember, on a couple of occasions when we had Premiers' conferences and Royal visits, we had to purchase, as a Crown, a number of luxury limousines for VIPs, that the garages leased out to us for a short while during the dignitary's visit. They were advertised on the radio, `Come to such and such a car dealership and buy a car that was used to drive the Premier of Alberta or the Premier of Quebec' or `Come and buy one of a fleet of cars that were involved in the Royal visit of so-and-so and so-and-so.' It was a great drawing card and the car companies concerned very quickly sold those particular cars. But I will bet you one thing, Mr. Speaker, if the ministerial cars policy had continued and this particular administration had traded in some of those cars, there wouldn't be a car dealership in this city or this Province that would put an advertisement on the radio saying, `Come and buy a Cabinet Minister's car.' Mr. Speaker, who would buy a used car from this crowd? No one, Mr. Speaker.

So, Mr. Speaker, 'An Act Respecting Restraint of Compensation' should be `An Act Respecting Dismantling of Trust,' `An Act Respecting The Stripping of Contracts,' `An Act Of Mistrust', Mr. Speaker. This particular administration has proven, many times over, that it cannot be trusted. It has taken away rights of Newfoundlanders that we have had for centuries. It has broken its election promises, willy-nilly. They even claimed to have kept their school tax promise, but that was another piece of sophistry on their part, another little trick. `What the right hand gives, the left hand taketh away.' `It is Clyde's way or the doorway.' That is the basic line of this administration, Mr. Speaker.

I do not trust this administration, Mr. Speaker. This administration cannot be trusted. It has proven it over and over. The mainlanders trust this Premier, Mr. Speaker, and, by heavens, they are welcome to him. I wish they would take him tomorrow, because we need a good, practical Premier down here, one who is willing to get down in the dirt, roll up his sleeves and work hard on behalf of the people of this Province, not a fine, fancy speechmaker. He would be better off at the United Nations or in the House of Commons or some place, but we need a hard-working, practical Premier, not a smooth talking Townie lawyer. That is what you have there. He left the City of Corner Brook when it couldn't give him a decent living and then he moved to the City of St. John's. The man lives off cities and their law practices.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: A man cannot live by bread alone.

MR. HEWLETT: No, that man didn't live by bread alone. When he quit his law practice even, he had to receive a supplement from his party until he could obtain the office of the Premiership. Then when we did his estimates here in the House of Assembly, we got out of him there last year on his estimates that when he disbanded the private dining room, which was supposed to be a great saving to the people of the Province, the private dining room that the hon. members opposite were so critical of, he admitted that the $20,000 home entertainment allowance he was using was to do his lawns and gardens. Your average Newfoundlander out there was supposed to be shocked to understand that it took $8,000 to keep his lawns and gardens green at his own personal mansion. This was money he was taking onto himself, he said, to entertain ambassadors.

I asked the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy in his estimates the other day, because his entertainment budget was a little over what was set aside, whether the Premier had snuck in for some particular conference. Because I gather what the Premier does when he has dignitaries and delegations in from overseas and doing legitimate entertaining - I am not saying that the First Minister shouldn't be legitimately entertaining - but what he does is he keeps the $20,000 home entertainment allowance, wines and dines them at a local hotel and then sends the bill to the minister of the department concerned.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEWLETT: You talk about trust, Mr. Speaker! You talk about sleaze! The hon. Minister of Health talked about sleaze earlier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEWLETT: They are yelling at me again, Mr. Speaker. I must be getting on their nerves. That is all I can say. It is just too bad I have a sore throat and I cannot shout them down because I can shout down the entire lot of them over there. I am afraid of nothing or no one over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HEWLETT: That is all you can come up with. You even throw up Sprung but do you know what?... in Sprung we tried. We failed but at least we tried. That crowd over there, Mr. Speaker, have tried nothing and that is the reason I say we all need to be sporting a button saying: Clyde, try something before we all starve to death.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

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


MR. A. SNOW: We have had monsters in Tanya Lake before. The hon. Minister of Provincial and Municipal Affairs is quite familiar with swimming in Tanya Lake and when he jumped in, the water left, and he went over to Dumbell Lake and, of course, we all know now why the name was changed to Dumbell Lake.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity of speaking on this Bill 17, An Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation To The Public Sector Of This Province. This infamous piece of legislation has done a lot to undermine the creditability of this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. minister does not stop berating me I will throw snowballs at him and he knows I am very adept at throwing snowballs.

This Bill 17 has upset a lot of public employees and it has also raised the concern of a lot of the unionists in this Province in the private sector because it has taken away the right of collective bargaining from the public employees of this Province. Collective bargaining is the right for employees to have representatives go to their employer, sit down at a table and negotiate nose to nose, eye to eye, with their employer, the government. This government did that, they said you can do this. They said to their employees, you have the right. Now, these employees, some of whom had to go on an illegal work stoppage, a strike, in the early 70s to get the right to have collective bargaining and now they are seeing a piece of legislation presented to the House to remove that right of collective bargaining, the teachers of this Province.

They are concerned because they believe, as do the unionists involved in the private sector, they believe this is the tip of the iceberg of an attempt by a right wing regime to remove rights of workers so as to establish that employers and businesses, including government, will attempt to balance their books, increase profits on the backs of employees by removing contract stripping, removing wages, removing benefits which, Mr. Speaker, is very unfair. The right of collective bargaining is the very basic tenet of unionism. It is that right that unions have fought for for a hundred years, I guess, Mr. Speaker. They have fought for the right to have people represent them at a table and collectively bargain for their wages and benefits.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is a right that we have often taken for granted. I suppose the fact that we have taken it for granted is why we have seen this government table this legislation and take it away, and we have not seen the people hit the streets. Some people have suggested that the reason why people have not hit the streets is because they are in favour of it. I have not met a person yet who is in favour of removing the right of collective bargaining.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Until I sat in this House and listened to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations for this Province, that speaker stood and spoke of how he was in favour of removing the right of collective bargaining. Mr. Speaker, a former leader in the labour movement, to stand with his back to the people who put him in this House.

Now, somebody just muttered from the other side that I do not believe in unions. Well, I certainly do believe in unions, and the people in western Labrador know that I believe in unions. The steelworkers in Labrador City know that I support them, and know that I have supported them. The private sector unions are concerned about the fact that this government, this regime, has seen fit to go and strip the right of collective bargaining in the public sector -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Eagle River is suggesting that I supported the local labour movement in western Labrador by donating premises and equipment to the union movement, so that they could subsidize the purchase of groceries -

AN HON. MEMBER: During an election!

MR. A. SNOW: And it was not even during an election, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: The bar, yes, did open at 7:00 a.m. that day, and closed around 2:00 a.m. But, Mr. Speaker, thousands of miners that night had steak for supper, because it was subsidized by the union, and space donated by myself and my companies, to help them, to provide food for the families of union workers that were on strike.

But that type of cooperation you would never see from this group of individuals. These people do not stand with their union members. These people stand against, opposed to, the union membership and that is tremendously unfair.

Now the violation of trust that this regime has seen fit to instill into this Province is going to have a tremendous impact, I believe, on what is going to occur down the road if this government continues with this right-wing movement that they are onto. They have violated the trust that public employees and the electorate have put into them, and people are very apprehensive about it. People have talked to me about it in my district. I probably live in the most heavily unionized district in this Province. It also happens to probably be the wealthiest district of this Province. Whether you measure per capita earnings, or if you measure the wealth of the gross provincial product from that particular district or from the industry, or if you measure the amount of discretionary income that people have, it is probably the wealthiest district in this Province.

It is not just because of the wealth that is in the ground which the people remove with equipment. It is because of the energy and commitment that the work force has that work these pieces of machinery, Mr. Speaker. That is what creates the wealth in my district, and they are paid handsomely for what they do. They are paid very, very well for what they do, and they work hard for the money they receive, the remuneration they receive from their employer, Mr. Speaker. Last year we saw the employer award them an unprecedented wage increase that I believe was accepted with a 90-odd per cent acceptance by the membership. Mr. Speaker, because they are paid well for the work they do, they work harder than most other miners in this country. They work harder than most other people in this Province and produce more.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is also a basic trust between the employee and the employer. We have seen that works to the benefit of the production of wealth by this particular mining company. What do we see in this Province, Mr. Speaker, by a major employer in this Province? A breakdown of that trust between an employer and an employee. They don't trust this government, Mr. Speaker. Employees don't trust this government. If you are a nurse in a hospital, you can't trust them or if you are a patient expecting good service, Mr. Speaker, for all the tax dollars that you have submitted to this government to deliver services, you can't trust them. If you are a policeman or a fire-fighter protecting the safety of the public, you can't trust this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: For a good reason too, Art.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, if you are a wildlife officer or somebody working in the line departments such as Social Services, you can't trust this government because they know that they will sign an agreement on one day and tear it up two days later, and they probably would have done it the day following if they had not taken a little space out to increase the taxation, Mr. Speaker, because what they have done really, it is not just a wage restraint, they have rolled back the wages through tax increases. They will tell you that they had no choice but to do it. It was done with their eye on a so called big picture, the idea being that the previous administration had total responsibility for creating the mess that this group has found itself in.

Mr. Speaker, when they took over the reins of the management of this Province, when they brought in the first budget, they had a surplus, a $10 million surplus. Through their mismanagement we have seen increased deficit financing ever since they have been elected. That is not coincidental, Mr. Speaker. I think that it is because of how they approached it. They have approached the manner of administering this Province with a simple bookkeeping mentality, and that can't be done. They have to be more creative. They have to be more imaginative than just increasing taxes or cutting services, or as they suggest the third option being to borrow more money.

We never said you could just go out and borrow more money, Mr. Speaker. We have not said that. Some people may have suggested it, but, Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons why I have strong disagreements with the party I used to belong with, the New Democratic Party, is because some of their philosophy is to borrow, borrow and borrow, some people in that particular party. Although we are seeing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: But, Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that we can borrow our way to prosperity, and neither does my leader. Mr. Speaker, I do believe that there is a time when the Crown should be participating in the economy. There is a time when we should have the Crown participating, and there are things that the government could be doing to stimulate the economy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), tell us where you are getting the money.

MR. A. SNOW: You see, Mr. Speaker, that is the mentality, we just have to have more money, we have to have more money, we are going to increase taxes. You do not necessarily increase the amount of revenue to a government by increasing the taxes, there is a point of diminishing returns. One of the things that this government has seen fit not to do, is to create that infrastructure to stimulate more investment. They do not create that atmosphere, to stimulate more investment from the private sector, Mr. Speaker.

The responsibility of government, Mr. Speaker, is to provide a framework for people to go to work, for people with a private sector mode or motive or psyche, they want to invest their savings to be able to invest in this Province and to opportunities in this Province and create more wealth, more employment, that is what the role of government is, so that they will be able to receive more money and deliver services to the people. That is what a government's responsibility is, Mr. Speaker. It is not just to increase taxes, it is to create more wealth. So they have to create the opportunity of attracting more wealth, that is what you have to do, not like the minister responsible for Mines and Energy, does. We have a Crown Corporation whose prime purpose, Newfoundland Hydro's prime purpose in western Labrador, is to come in and take more money out, not to create more wealth.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have seen people suggest on the other side, that they are doing it for the benefit of the Province, that is why the people in Labrador City and Wabush are going to have to pay, suggested by the public relations people from Newfoundland Hydro, 300 per cent more for their electrical energy, 300 per cent, Mr. Speaker, and they say that the public policy purpose of that Crown Corporation for this government, this regime, is to just come in and create more taxes, take more money out of western Labrador, that is all they are doing, Mr. Speaker, and that is not very creative, it is not very imaginative, it is not progressive, it is not liberal, Mr. Speaker, this is regressive. They are stifling the economy of this Province by stifling the economy in western Labrador. They should be creating more opportunities.

But, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister of Forestry and Lands says yes, it is true and he agrees with me and says that he is sorry, that the Premier has forced him to do it and he wants to stay in Cabinet and that is why he agrees with it, but it is unfortunate that he does not have the backbone to stand up to the other people in the Cabinet and suggest that they should be doing things differently. But the fact that this government has broken the trust that was given to them by the electorate in '89, and, by the way, by people in this Province for the last forty or fifty years. The people of this Province believed that they had the right of collective bargaining until this group was elected and removed that right, the right of collective bargaining, a basic right of unions anywhere in the free world, we are seeing removed here in this Province, the only province I know of that has seen fit to do that type of thing.

The private sector unions have cause to be nervous, to be apprehensive, to be afraid of what this government is going to do to them because they start with their own employees first. You cut them first, you roll back their benefits, take away their rights first and the next people you will be attacking will be the people in the private sector, whereas today, the private sector is protected by the courts, the same courts that were supposed to protect the public employees, but this piece of legislation has ripped away that protection and is going to allow this regime to take away benefits and compensation, and the rights of workers in this Province that we have never seen removed by any other Legislative body in this country, and done by a government headed by an individual, Premier Wells, who always espouses the equality of individuals. We see today that when he gets the opportunity of treating people equally, of giving employees the same opportunity as employers, he sees fit to come down on the side of the employer through legislation, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the people of my district have talked to me about this piece of legislation. They recognize the financial dilemma that this government has found itself in, because of their mismanagement of the economy. They have said that they are against this piece of legislation. They are against what this regime has seen fit to do. They don't believe that they had no choice, they believe that they should have done other things. No other legislative body in this country saw fit to do this to the employees, Mr. Speaker, except this government. It is the only government that does it. It will reflect, I believe, Mr. Speaker, on the House itself, it will reflect on politicians and, also, Mr. Speaker, it will reflect in the polling booths in the next election. The hon. members opposite fully realize that. They say the reason why they have to do it is for the sake of the Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we all know they had another choice. They could have created the opportunity of providing an infrastructure to people to invest more money and create more opportunities for employment. That would have taken imagination and a little bit of daring, which this party lacks, Mr. Speaker. Because of that lack of daring, lack of responsibility to govern in an imaginative and creative manner, to provide the people of this Province with an economic plan of diversification, an economic plan for growth and opportunity in the future, Mr. Speaker, I won't be supporting this piece of legislation, because of its hallmark of mistrust, because of what it does against collective bargaining, because of this unwarranted use of power by this regime, because it is completely unnecessary, because it is an attack on ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and because it will do nothing to help the economy, those are the reasons I won't be supporting this, Mr. Speaker. I hope the people on the other side of the House will listen, and on this side of the House, I am sure, they too will not support it.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board. If he speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few brief comments about Bill 17. I know that members opposite have tried to make their points in opposition to Bill 17. The unions in the Province have tried to make their points with regard to Bill 17. A common phrase that you hear is: An agreement is an agreement is an agreement, and you cannot break an agreement. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have had to break the agreements. It is as simple as that.

Mr. Speaker, if we had barrels of money, if we had all kinds of sources of money, if we had a good credit rating, if we had all those things, we could probably avoid Bill 17. If we had a leadership in the public service unions that was willing to discuss things with us, we could have avoided Bill 17. There is no doubt in my mind at all, we could have avoided legislating a wage freeze. But, Mr. Speaker, when the revenues go, when there is a limit to your borrowing, when you get into the public service of this Province and you cut and you cut and you cut, and you cut tens of millions of dollars out of operating expenses and everything else, when you do all that and you still come up short, you have a very simple choice, because the amount of money you can spend on providing services to people is now fixed. No more borrowing. We have reached the limit of that. No more borrowing. Very simple. You have to live within these maximum limits. In order to live within the maximum limits, it is either lay off more people or freeze the wages.

Now it is as simple as that. No matter how the public service unions try to twist and squirm, and no matter how the Opposition tries to twist and squirm, you come back to that very simple fact. Money going out has to equal money coming in. Money going out cannot be more than money coming in. It is a very simple fact.

So, Mr. Speaker, an agreement is an agreement. As I explained a few days ago, collective bargaining and agreements in the private sector are a little different from collective agreements and bargaining in the public sector.

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: It is a tremendous difference, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible)!

MR. BAKER: In the private sector - if the Member for Fogo would listen now he would learn something.

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: That's right. A contract is a contract. Except when you are in a position where - if you are a private company, and you sign an agreement with your workers, you honour that agreement, but at the same time you still have a certain amount of money that you can put into wages. If that amount is going to bankrupt the company what you do is you lay off people. So you always fit your revenue, your expenses always fit your revenue. I am just talking about private sector now, not us, the private sector. If in fact the revenue of the private company drops so that the collective agreement cannot be paid, in other words the company goes bankrupt, then they simply close down and go somewhere else, or close down and get into a new business.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is what happens in the private sector. Therefore, in the collective bargaining process, both sides realise that possibility. On the one hand the unions have the right to strike; on the other hand, they know if they push too far the jobs are gone. These are important safeguards in the process. In the public sector bargaining the right to strike is there but the safeguard that the company can go bankrupt is not there. That safeguard is not there. That is why collective bargaining in the public sector is totally different from collective bargaining in the private sector.

So you come to the point where you have choices to make. You cannot close down the hospitals and move them somewhere else. What would be the point of moving the hospitals somewhere else? You cannot close down the schools and try to get into another business. You cannot close down your social services system and try to get into a new business. Government cannot do that. The only reason for the existence of government is to provide the services. So that option of simply closing down, packing her in and getting into some other line of work, does not exist. So government then has to, as a last resort, after all the cutting and after all of the trimming and cutting expenses and so on, and after the revenue options have been exhausted, the choice is this - you go to the leaders of the public sector unions and you say to them, quite openly: look, here are our books, here is the amount of money we have coming in, here are all the cuts that we have made, here is the whole situation. Now, you can see that we do not have the money.

In meeting after meeting you ask for advice on how to handle this situation. In meeting after meeting it is all give on the government's part, and the private sector union leaders sitting there with a smirk on their face. It is all 'give' on the government's part, so meeting after meeting we give. We give information, and we give them more and more information and say: Look, this is the situation that we are faced with and we are going to have to deal with, because we cannot close down the hospitals; we cannot close the schools; we have to keep our welfare system operating, and we have to do this, that and something else for the people of this Province. We cannot close her all down like they did in Commission of Government. When they brought in Commission of Government to take over the Province, 'close her all down and let somebody else come in from outside who has some sense of fiscal responsibility and let them run the Province'. We did not have that option. So we get no input from the public sector unions. As a matter of fact, they took all the information, and they eventually made some suggestions to us, some of which make sense in the long-term, but nothing to solve the immediate budgetary problem that we had now, nothing except 'Go out and spend another $100 million and that will generate $200 million worth of revenue' - the silly economics, funny economics, funny money.

So we, at that point in time, made the choice, the only choice we could make. We did not want to lay off 3,000 or 4,000 public servants. We did not want to lay off 500 teachers. We did not want to lay off 250 nurses. We did not want to do that, because at this point in time, it would have too great an effect on the system. That left us with the one option, and that happened to be the wage freeze.

Mr. Speaker, this bill goes a step further. It says to the union leadership, don't count on there being tons of money next year. It looks as if the recovery is slower than everybody expected, so next year - you have to have another year of zero - the year after that, 3 per cent is the maximum we believe we can pay. So we had to tell them that. We have to say that to them in all honesty, because that is what the indications are at this point in time. It might be better, and it might be worse, but certainly there is no magic solution in the next six or eight months. It does not exist.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this time, in Bill 17 we gave the union, though, more options. We did not say, your wage scales are frozen. We did not say that next year your wage scale will get an increase of 3 per cent. We did not say that. We left it wide open and talked in terms of total compensation for that unit, total compensation, which means that if the unions - if, in fact, their major priority is take-home pay for their membership, then they have a mechanism of getting the take-home pay for their membership. As a matter of fact, some of their own members are suggesting lowering union fees so they have a bit more take-home pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Contract stripping that is called.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite says, contract stripping. I suppose a readjustment - we are not saying to the unions, we are going to take this away from you; therefore, you can have a 5 per cent increase in take-home pay. That is not it. That is contract stripping. We are simply saying, 'This is the money we have. You decide how you want that money spent.' We are passing the responsibility on to the union leadership, and let me tell you what is going to happen. I am going to predict something now, what is going to happen. The union leadership is not going to be able to carry out that responsibility. They are going to refuse to carry out the responsibility because they do not want to. They do not want the responsibility. All they want to do is rant and rave and shout about the government who is trying to nail them. That is all they want to do. They are not going to take that responsibility, and I suspect that what will happen is this year there will be zero and next year there will be 3 per cent added on to the wage scales. They will not look at it and see how they can adjust expenditures to come up with more of a take-home pay for their membership. They will not do that, because that is too great a responsibility for them to have.

Mr. Speaker, we have to take the responsibility, and that is why Bill 17 exists. That is why Bill 17 is the right thing for the Province at this point in time. As much as we regret having to legislate, we are the only ones who are willing to take the responsibility for the financial and the fiscal integrity of this Province, the only ones willing to even consider that, and we are quite proud of the fact.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 17.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is it the pleasure of the House that the said bill be now read a

second time?

All those in favour.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against.


MR. SPEAKER: Is the bill carried?

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.


MR. SPEAKER: Call in the members.

The Chair is just waiting for direction from the hon. members. We called for division and we have to wait ten minutes unless the hon. members indicate they are ready for the question.

Is the House ready for the question?

All those in favour of second reading of the bill, please rise.

The hon. the President of the Council, the hon. the Minister of Health, the hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr. Barrett, Mr. K. Aylward, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Finance, Mr. Reid, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Crane, Mr. Penney, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Dumaresque, Mr. Langdon, Mr. Oldford, Mr. Small.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the motion, please rise.

Mr. Matthews, Mr. Tobin, Mr. R. Aylward, Mr. Doyle, Mr. Woodford, Mr. N. Windsor, Mr. S. Winsor, Mr. A. Snow, Mr. Harris.

CLERK (Mr. J. Noel): Mr. Speaker, nineteen for the motion and nine against.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

MR. BAKER: Order 2, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Just one second, we are not ready yet.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Extend Restraint of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 17).

MR. BAKER: Order 2, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased today to rise and speak on this very historic piece of legislation, another example of the reform of this government, another example of the kind of commitment that this government has, to reform.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, after fighting the last election campaign, and as we know today, what we have seen from this government is a government that is committed to making strides in a number of different areas. One of the main planks of our last platform, Mr. Speaker, was to finally bring in reform to the elections act, to finally put into place accountability and, certainly, the kind of structure that the people deserve in having their elections run and, indeed, having the operations of the political parties perform under.

So I am very happy today to see this great election, great Liberal promise brought to the floor of the House of Assembly for second reading. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that there will be hardly any debate on this because there is such a consensus in the Province that what we have here is a piece of excellent -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair just wants to clarify a matter. I have been informed by the Table that the hon. member has already spoken on this in second reading.

MR. DUMARESQUE: No, Mr. Speaker, I stood and submitted the report on last Tuesday, but that was by no means the debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: No, Mr. Speaker, I never spoke on second reading. This is the first time it has been called for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair just wants to take a minute to check.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he didn't speak.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes he did. Sit down.

AN HON. MEMBER: He introduced the bill.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I tabled the report, as I should.

AN HON. MEMBER: Give him leave.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I don't need leave, Mr. Speaker, either I am abiding by the rules or I am not.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. member?

Well the hon. member can continue by leave, is that it, until the Chair has checked this matter out?

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have the situation straightened out because, I mean-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DUMARESQUE: - if you are going to listen to the advice of hon. members on this, I know they are wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has just been instructed that the Chair is checking out the matter and he can continue to debate, okay?

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no doubt, we need lots of reform in the election process and certainly we need to have some briefing sessions for people in this House, if they do not know the rules. I mean that is -

MR. MATTHEWS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: You could lose leave if you are not careful.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, just a point of clarification, I think the hon. member is confused. I mean, it was obviously the table that notified, Your Honour, that the member had spoken before, it was not us objecting to the hon. member speaking. It is the table that advises, His Honour, so we have no problem with the member speaking, he chaired the committee and we were interested in hearing what he had to say, so you know, the problem is not us.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't not get snarky.


MR. MURPHY: Jack, what are you doing in that chair?

MR. DUMARESQUE: Jack get over there boy, you will never be the Leader of the Opposition, for sure, get over in your right place there.

MR. SPEAKER: According to the March 20th, Hansard, the hon. member has already spoken in this debate on page 328 of Hansard. The hon. member says: I am very pleased to rise and debate "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections and Election Financing.", so the hon. member has already spoken on this matter.

MR. DUMARESQUE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River, on a point of order.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Now, Mr. Speaker, I never caught that. You said when I spoke in second reading on this particular -

MR. SPEAKER: On March 20th.

MR. DUMARESQUE: On March 20th?

MR. SPEAKER: According to Hansard, the hon. member has already spoken on March 18th, the hon. member rose in his place and was recognized by the Speaker, and -

MR. DUMARESQUE: Second reading?

MR. SPEAKER: - on page 328, the hon. member for Eagle River was recognized by the Speaker, and he rose and he spoke in the debate on "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections and Election Financing."

MR. DUMARESQUE: Well, certainly, Mr. Speaker, if that is what the record shows, then I have no quarrel with it.

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

MR. BAKER: Would you notify the House, Mr. Speaker, that if I speak, I will close the debate?

MR. TOBIN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, obviously the hon. member is not aware of what took place in the House when we were there at the -

MR. BAKER: He cannot speak.

MR. TOBIN: - no, Mr. Speaker, I just want to point out that the member got up and the table suggested to the Speaker, that the hon. member had already spoken in the debate, and as an opposition party we agreed, when the Speaker said he had to check it out, that we would grant the hon. member leave, if he wanted to continue to speak, even if he had spoken before we were prepared to give him leave, so, when you stood that time, when the Government House Leader stood, Mr. Speaker, we thought he was going to speak to the fact that we had granted leave to his colleague to continue debate if he wanted to, not to close debate on it, not to speak to close the debate.

We, as this party, despite the fact that he had spoken before, we had granted him leave to debate it again if he wanted to.

MR. SPEAKER: So, the hon. member has leave to continue the debate?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the members opposite for allowing me this opportunity because I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the reform of this particular bill, Mr. Speaker -


MR. DUMARESQUE: - but, Mr. Speaker, I know that hon. members opposite would certainly not welcome the kind of reform that this government is putting forward in this area but I want to take a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, to talk about the amendments we have recommended as a standing committee.

Hon. members will note that some time ago, about four months ago the House asked the Committee on Elections and Privileges to review the act and to seek public consultation on the act itself. Albeit, where it has been recognized as an excellent piece of legislation and a hallmark of reform for this government we still went out, Mr. Speaker, and tried to seek public input on this important piece of legislation to make sure that any blemish at all to the proposed legislation, anything at all that deviated from our overall thrust of accountability and our overall meaning to get the controverted elections, and elections financing in this Province under a proper structure.

We wanted to make sure that we did whatever we could to make sure that the bill was fine tuned and met with public approval. We undertook that task and I wish to take this opportunity to thank the members of the committee, the Member for Port au Port, the Vice-Chair, the Member for Kilbride, the Member for Carbonear and the Member for Pleasantville, Mr. Speaker. All members worked very hard and we had fourteen public meetings in which we entertained representations from a wide variety of groups and also a number of individuals representing, I would say, thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians including the Federation of Labour, the Newfoundland Federation of Students, the executive director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

We listened to people from the President of the Student's Union at the university. A vide variety of people came forward to make very, very good recommendations. I must also use this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous contribution that these groups and individuals made to this process. We got some very comprehensive proposals that obviously reflected the kind of thought and consideration that these groups and individuals put into this piece of legislation.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that I can speak on behalf of the committee in saying we gave very serious consideration to all of the committees that came forward and all of the presentations that were made. As the House well knows we recommended some thirty-one possible amendments to this piece of legislation because we wanted to make sure that once it was enacted it was done so with the proper public scrutiny and certainly we wanted to make sure that it reflected the principles that were outlined in the first part of this legislation.

One of the things I wanted to talk about was the representations that were made to us respecting the special ballots. A lot of the individuals and groups who came to the committee said that the legislation as proposed would see the elimination of all special ballots throughout the Province, that that should be reviewed because it would give the whole process a very cumbersome job and certainly would have made the chief electoral office that much more, I guess, cumbersome to operate because it would definitely carry a large financial price tag as well as a number of other basic administrative challenges to that office in order to be able to see the elections carried out as they have been in the past.

Apart from that administrative nightmare, as I think the former chief electoral officer put it to the committee, apart from that there was a lot of consideration made, or a lot of attention paid to the fact that the proxy vote would have prohibited people from voting in the sense that it called for a lot of documentation to be received in order for a person to be able to vote by proxy. Certainly it would also take away the confidentiality of voters in the sense that they would have to give the right to cast their ballot to somebody else.

So, Mr. Speaker, this Committee diligently received and pursued the recommendations that were put to us, and also we were fortunate in a way that midway through our public hearings and discussions, the Royal Commission on electoral reform that has been struck for the last couple of years at the national level reported, I guess right in the middle of our deliberations. That committee made I would think also a great number of very comprehensive and very well meaning recommendations.

One of these recommendations was to the effect that the proxy vote be abolished as it presently stands in the federal elections act. So, with that in mind, we as a committee recommended that the proxy vote also be abolished from this legislation, that it not be entertained as an option to replace special polls. But instead we recommended that a procedure, as denoted in the Royal Commission report, something to the effect of having a special write in ballot, that that be looked at as a real option to replace the special ballots. We believe that if this recommendation is accepted by the government that it will go a long way to satisfying the kinds of concerns that were raised in our public hearings. Particularly, it will give every voter the satisfaction that their confidentiality will not be hindered. That indeed every voter who wants to vote will have the ability to do so, by going to any polling station and be able to obtain a special ballot.

That special ballot would be, I guess, set up in such a way that the individual voter would have the option of voting for the person who is running in their home riding, or voting for the individual who is running in the area where they may reside. How this would operate is that the student, for instance, who is here in St. John's, would go to special poll, or the advance poll, that is ordinarily set up - say at the Cabot Institute - and they would be able to ask for a special ballot from the deputy returning officer. When they receive that ballot it would be a blank ballot, and they would then have the ability to write in the candidate of their choice. Then that ballot would be put back into an envelope on which on the outside of the envelope would appear the name of the district in which that person executed their vote for. In turn, that envelope then would be put back into a special ballot box that would be at that polling station, and therefore it would then receive all of the special ballots that would be cast in that particular location.

Then, at the end of the day, that special ballot box would be delivered to the Chief Electoral Office, at which time and place it would be opened on election night. Certainly the Chief Electoral Officer would then be responsible for seeing that each ballot that was cast, as they will be I am sure - a lot of ballots cast for the district of Eagle River and other places in this Province - they would then be apportioned to the appropriate slot. I certainly hope, as one hon. member says, that there will be ample supply of Liberal votes coming into that special ballot box from the special poll or the advance poll here in St. John's.

That is the way I think that it can and will work. It will cut down on the administration and certainly the cost of delivering that accessibility to each individual voter. It will certainly please the students to know that they will be able to exercise that option, of voting in the riding in which they reside, or indeed casting a ballot for the candidate of their choice in their home riding. Certainly the overall effect and accountability of this legislation will be improved if this particular recommendation is accepted by the government.

Another series of recommendations that I guess could be highlighted under a general topic would be the intention of the Committee to make sure that the elections of this Province were accessible to the disabled community. This is another area, of course, where there has been no, in our view certainly in the provincial legislation up to this point, there is not a lot of sensitivity given to the ability of the disabled people to vote, in the sense that certainly there have been no measures taken, even to the effect that there are no definitions provided of a disabled voter and certainly nothing that would give the chief electoral office some point on which they could reference and be able to then allow for special considerations to be given.

What we endeavoured to do is to try and put in place in the Elections Act, once and for all, measures that would be able to allow the disabled community to access the polling stations. Also, once they access the polling stations, that they would also be able to deliver their vote. In particular to the blind community we suggested that braille templates be used; that they must be used as a part of the process in which ballots are done up. Ballot boxes would also be accompanied by appropriate templates, and this would give a nice few members in the disabled community an opportunity to be able to exercise their right to vote and be able to give them, as much as possible, the same kind of confidentiality, the same kind of accessibility, the same measure of confidence in the system as any other voter has.

I was very pleased to see that members of the committee were happy to support the recommendations along those lines; to see that in the enumeration for instance - I am not sure how the disabled community may feel about it, but one of the recommendations that we thought might be good is that in the initial enumeration of voters that there be some way provided in which members of the disabled community could be identified to the district returning officer so that when he or she is preparing for election day they would know if there are ten people in that community who are from a disabled community who would need to be accommodated and therefore they would take the appropriate action. This would be a way, I guess, of making people more aware of the people in the community who would need these services, and I believe that it would make for greater efficiency.

Another aspect of making this bill, I think, more sensitive to the disabled community was a direct recommendation to the chief electoral office that it put a training program in place - a training program that would bring together all fifty-two district returning officers. Certainly a prominent part of that training program must include the ability to make the necessary preparations for the disabled community.

I think I can say with confidence that this committee not only heard the representations made to us by members of the Civic No. 4 group and the Canadian Paraplegic Association and others who touched upon this topic, we can say with very great confidence that we have made some strides, I believe. We have made some recommendations that if adopted will see for greater accessibility, greater sensitivity to the needs of the disabled community, and indeed a greater effective piece of legislation for these people.

Another third recommendation we made was that the committee should be given the mandate to further research the aspect of bringing leadership and party nominations under the Elections Act. As members might know, I believe except for one jurisdiction, there is no other jurisdiction in Canada that has either party leadership conventions or party nominations under their Elections Act. I think there is just one, but we thought that it would be a good example of reform for Newfoundland and Labrador to take some of the first steps in seeing that a party leadership process and a party nomination process be given a similar kind of structure and accountability. I guess particularly we are talking more along the lines of financing, and that there should be some kind of financial parameters set around the party leadership campaigns as well as the party nomination process, as we see now being proposed for the actual election of the candidates at the district level, and certainly, for the provincial party organizations, there is a cap on what they can spend at that level.

So, Mr. Speaker, I thought we were responsible and we were looking to trying to make that extra effort in Newfoundland and Labrador to be sensitive to some of the concerns that have been raised in the public in the past, as we have seen, where party leadership conventions, especially the way of selecting delegates and things of that nature can get out of hand. You can see it interfered with directly by vested interest groups or certainly, whatever is needed, in many cases, to see that their particular delegates are selected.

So we thought it was another good example of reform in the elections process that this government could consider, and, Mr. Speaker, I would hope that they certainly will. I would hope that we would get the support of the government for the recommendations that we have made. We believe quite sincerely that the committee's work has been time well spent in terms of acknowledging the contributions that were made by the presenters, Mr. Speaker.

I would urge all hon. members, I guess, on a concluding note, this evening, to please carefully review the Elections Act, because, as you leave this House of Assembly to go into the next campaign, under this piece of legislation you should know what you are operating under. You must know what you are operating under, because it is going to be a big change. There are going to be a lot of changes in store in terms of - I will just give a couple of things, Mr. Speaker. You are going to have to first and foremost, right away, get your district associations at your district level, have them authorized and enshrined as a legal entity. Because, if you do not, then your district association, if it is not in place, they cannot propose a chief financial officer. If there is no chief financial officer, of course, you can have no election spending in your particular area.

There are a number of technical things, Mr. Speaker, that you have to be wary of, and you certainly have to have all of that groundwork done. There will be complete auditing requested and called for. You will have to have each of your district associations audited on an annual basis. When you run a campaign, each of your statements will have to be audited, Mr. Speaker, and there will be penalties. We have also acknowledged in our recommendations that some of these penalties are probably not strict enough. We would like to see that reviewed, too, but certainly, as the legislation is structured, there are penalties there that will see that people who flagrantly go out and try to avoid some of the spending guidelines, try to take on services or resources that are not duly accounted for, will be appropriately penalized.

We would hope, Mr. Speaker, that this part of the legislation will be reviewed so that the penalties that are there will certainly be a very strong signal to anybody who would think about thwarting this process, that they will think twice about doing so.

Mr. Speaker, I would say on a concluding note, please carefully review the legislation. Certainly, we would appreciate any other comments that hon. members would have, but I would urge all hon. members to give this piece of legislation your support. It is long overdue. I can safely say that we have a very comprehensive elections act to come forward, and one that I think Newfoundland and Labrador can hold up with pride across the country.

I would like to thank the members, Mr. Speaker, for their work, and I look forward to the ensuing debate. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I wonder if the hon. members could take their places. The Chair has to clear up the matter that is now before the House. The hon. the Member for Eagle River, of course, who just spoke, spoke by leave of the House. On Tuesday, March 24, the hon. the President of Treasury Board had adjourned the debate, so he is the rightful member to be speaking in this debate at this time.

The hon. member rose on March 24. The hon. the President of Treasury Board, if he speaks now, closes the debate. The hon. member did not move the motion but he adjourned the debate shortly afterwards.

So, unless there is leave of the House, the hon. the President of Treasury adjourned the debate.

MR. R. AYLWARD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a point of order.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, you might want to clarify that a bit more. From what I understand your ruling is, during the last debate, second reading debate was finished, except that the President of Treasury Board hadn't finished his debate.


MR. R. AYLWARD: Since that time, we have tabled our report and now we are going into Committee, I guess, at the next opportunity. Is that what I understand it to be? I am confused now because I don't know what is going on. I understood I was speaking next, but I don't know.

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

MR. BAKER: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. My understanding is that His Honour has said the debate was already at the point of being closed, that I was closing debate. There is some confusion today, that I assumed that I had not got up to close debate, but in actual fact, I was in the process of closing off this particular second reading debate. I can remember now exactly, Your Honour, that is exactly what happened. So, is the member clear now that all the debate had finished in second reading, and that I was in the process of closing off the second reading debate when the debate was last adjourned?

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker, or actually, a clarification. I don't have the minutes in front of me, and Hansard, but did the minister do what he did here today, say: If I speak now I will close debate, but the minister never commenced his speech? If the minister never commenced his speech, then debate would not have ceased, that would be my understanding, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The procedure is that when the minister introducing the bill rises for a second time,he is recognised by the Chair. The Chair indicates that if the hon. minister speaks, then he closes the debate. That took place on Tuesday, March 24. The hon. the President of Treasury Board did not conclude his debate at the time, he didn't move second reading, he adjourned the debate. So when the matter was called again today, the hon. the President of Treasury Board would have been the appropriate member to stand and conclude the debate.

MR. HARRIS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is, when this proceeding takes place in the House, as it has in the past, oftentimes the minister rises to speak, and it is indicated that if the minister speaks then he would close debate. But it is my understanding from what Your Honour has just said that the minister did not even commence to speak, let alone conclude his remarks. Therefore, the debate is not concluded.

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker. My understanding is that I spoke for at least ten minutes about this great Liberal initiative. I believe that was the context, if Your Honour will read, about the fact that this was solely and totally a Liberal initiative until it got to the Committee. So I was in the midst of my remarks when the debate was adjourned. I can remember that now, but I didn't earlier.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that is correct. The hon. minister rose in his place on March 24, he was recognised by the Speaker. It says: "The hon. the President of Treasury Board. If he speaks now, he closes the debate." The hon. member spoke for some time, and at that point he said: "Mr. Speaker, I adjourn debate. I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow and that this House do now adjourn."

The hon. the President of Treasury Board was the last member to speak, and he was closing the debate at the time. So when the adjourned debate resumed today, the hon. the President of Treasury Board was the member who should have risen in his place to speak on this matter. But the hon. the Member for Eagle River rose, the Chair recognised him, and he got leave of the House to continue the debate, even though he had already spoken.

So we are back now to the adjourned debate by the hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. TOBIN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, as the debate got underway today, I think, we got involved in this in the first instance, when the Member for Eagle River stood and spoke. We realise the importance and significance of this piece of legislation that is before the House. In realising that, and giving democracy the opportunity to work, we, on this side of the House, decided that it would be appropriate for us to give leave to the hon. the Member for Eagle River to make his address. We thought it was extremely important that he have the opportunity to do that. We are dealing with a piece of legislation that, once it comes into law, will not likely be here for a six-month term or so, it is going to be here for a long time. It is also a new piece of legislation in terms of its dealing with the Elections Act.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure that all hon. members in the House realize the significance of this piece of legislation, so we were prepared to give leave to the Member for Eagle River to speak to the important piece of legislation. I think it is only fair that the government members afford us the same opportunity, to have leave to speak on that piece of legislation for at least this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board, to the point of order.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is, I suppose, the proper thing to do. I believe the Member for Kilbride wanted to speak to the second reading. We are in the middle of closing the debate. I guess I wouldn't mind giving leave to one more speaker to speak in this second reading debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave of the House to speak in this debate?


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before the hon. member speaks, the Chair would just like to clear up this matter. We have been following the procedure correctly up to this point in time. Now, hon. members are speaking by leave, and when the hon. member adjourns the debate or concludes his debate, the Chair has no alternative but to recognize the hon. the President of Treasury Board if he stands in this debate, because he adjourned the debate on March 24.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride, by leave.

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

I want to thank the hon. members opposite and the Member for St. John's East for giving me leave. I remember now what did happen in the last debate. We were not continuing the debate. We were waiting to get this legislation into Committee so we could make some recommendations if our report had not been tabled. In the meantime, the report had been tabled, so I just had a few words on that report. I appreciate your allowing me to have a few words today.

My concern, and the reason why I would like to speak today - and I didn't know how I was going to present this, because I hadn't realized that when the minister spoke - well, I knew when the minister spoke he would close the debate. But what I was going to suggest today in my remarks was that some other minister would stand and speak on this debate and this bill, and indicate what the government might do with the recommendations that our Committee put forward. We have an indication from the President of Treasury Board, the Government House Leader, that they would look favourably on the recommendations, most, if not all of them. I was hoping that before the debate was concluded, some member of the Cabinet would have spoken and indicated which of the recommendations were acceptable or not. But that is not possible now. The minister has the right to stand, when he wants to take that privilege, and close the debate. I hope, when he does stand, so that we might be prepared somewhat for the Committee stage of this bill, that he will give some indication as to which of the recommendations that were made by our committee, he or the government would be willing to support.

I think it certainly is important, and it probably would have been even better in second reading, although it is too late for that now. Because, if some of these recommendations are not going to be supported, I would be more inclined to try to debate more fully in the second reading to try to convince you of how important these amendments are.

Mr. Speaker, first when our Committee started, we started with the knowledge that this is good legislation. We did not start out with any confrontation between our Committees. We think this is good reform. The legislation, Bill 55, as it was called before on the copy I have, we feel to be good legislation. It is time for reform in our Elections Act, all of our Committee members thought.

As presentations were being made before our Committee, some questions came up as to some sections of the act. I remember the Federation of Labour, in particular, who felt slighted that they were being eliminated from participating, as they thought, in elections.

Now, as we went through our hearings and got more information from the legal department, the Department of Justice, and more information put before us, we found that the restrictions that are put on any group were never designed to zero out a specific group, to eliminate them from participating. The Elections Act was not written with the intention of eliminating people from participating. So, Mr. Speaker, we had some comfort in that.

We had probably a bit of disagreement at the beginning of our Committee hearings on the proxy vote and the special polls that used to exists before. But with some co-operation on both sides, no doubt, and with a fairly good recommendation from the Member for Pleasantville, I believe, initially - he talked about a mail-in vote. A special ballot, I believe, is how it is referred to in the Elections Act. If this special ballot can be put in place, I think it would be convenient, especially for people who are not at home on election day. It would be very convenient for them. It would be very convenient for people who are not able to get out to the polls. They can have this special ballot to themselves, in privacy, and vote with the privacy that all the rest of us have who are able to get out and vote.

One of the other things that became very important and was highlighted to us during the Committee hearings were the presentations that were made to us by several of the disabled groups. They pointed out - I guess we all have different perceptions of disabled groups. If we want to find out something about the disabled, we might go to a group and ask them some questions. What was pointed out to me, or what came across to me fairly well, is that it is no good for me to go to the Canadian Institute of the Blind - which would be considered a group representing certain disabled groups, or blind groups - and ask questions on how we could alleviate problems for deaf people. That was pointed out to us.

If we want to help out, or if we want to make things as level as possible for all groups in society to be able to vote, we have to contact the individual groups that represent the different people who have certain handicaps. Things like a Braille template were brought up, and we thought it might not be overly expensive to try to bring in these Braille templates. It would not be unique to Newfoundland, it has been done in other places.

There are several other means of communication besides Braille that people would like to have. One of them, I forget what it was called now - but one woman had kind of a - it was not a laptop computer but it reminded me of a computer. It was a different template, and the template was not needed because the person was blind, it was the way they communicated with people.

So all of these things, I think, were very important. The Committee showed that we can work together on this type of legislation, as long as we all believe it is good legislation. We all got together, and the Member for Carbonear, I guess, was on the Committee with us. The Member for Eagle River was Chairperson. The Members for Pleasantville and Port au Port was on the committee with us also. After quite a bit of discussion and quite a few meetings we did come up with some recommendations that I hope the government will have a very serious look at. These recommendations were not made to obstruct or to complicate. They were made to make The Elections Act more workable in our society, in the society that we have. There was consideration given to the expense of implementing some of our recommendations, and I do not think that any of them will be overly expensive to implement. They were given the financial consideration as well as the practicality of trying to do them. I think they are all very practical types of recommendations.

There is one thing that the Premier did indicate. After this report was tabled the Premier did indicate publicly that he did not think that the nomination meetings and leadership conventions should be brought under this act. Our recommendation in our committee was that we should look at this. We are not recommending that this should be done in the immediate act. Our recommendation is that it should be looked at, and I think very seriously that it should be looked at.

I guess one of the purposes of this act is to try to make a level playing field; that someone who has a lot of money, extra finances, should not have an unfair advantage over someone else. That is what we hope this Elections Act will do. We might be able to achieve that with the Elections Act, but what we could be doing is pushing that step back one more. We could be allowing, as happens on occasion now, in leadership conventions we will say, that the person who can pay for the most delegates to get to a leadership convention is the one who will get elected. This does not always work, but it certainly has an effect on different leadership conventions. It also could happen in nomination meetings. It could happen in my nomination meeting that maybe I have more money; maybe I can buy more cards for people who want to come to vote in my nomination, even though we do not have cards in there now, but it could be put in place. If I bought 5,000 and gave them out for free, and someone else could only buy 2,000 and we can get them all there, well I am going to win.

These kind of things should not necessarily come into the format of nominations or leaderships. That is why our committee recommended to government to have a look at these leadership conventions and nomination meetings, and maybe some time in the future to establish in this act, or maybe some other act, regulations concerning leaderships and nominations. I know, in the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland, during our most recent leadership convention, there were very stringent rules brought in to try to regulate that leadership convention. We had a very good set of rules. They were worked on for quite some time. I cannot remember what the maximums were. I think it is in one of the reports that were presented to us. But we did have maximums on spending, on collecting and accountability - which is the big thing. That is what I like to see more than anything else, accountability. If someone wants to give you $5,000 or $10,000 it certainly is important how much they are giving you, but it is more important to make it public how much they are giving you. That was one of the big reforms that happened in our last leadership convention.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, I do not have to worry much. In the twelve years I have been involved I have never had anything come close to that. But this kind of thing is important, and hopefully by bringing in this act we will not be putting this a step backwards, and having it more so involved in our nomination meetings and our leadership conventions.

Hopefully we will be able to have a good look at this in the next year or so. I am sure if the Government House Leader wished our Committee to do it, the Committee that sat and reviewed this act here would be more than happy to come up with a few recommendations on leadership conventions and nomination meetings, if the government was willing to give it back to us. Now I am not sure if the Member for Eagle River has enough time, because he seems to be chairing an awful lot of committees lately. But I am sure he would make time, Mr. Speaker.

One other comment that I did really want to make is to show my appreciation for the people who took the time to come before our Committee. It is not easy for people to come before parliamentary committees. I do not think the average person feels comfortable in coming before parliamentary committees and making presentations. Sometimes people find it very hard. Mostly you have the same organizations coming before you all the time.

But we had very good presentations from all the people who came before us. We had a lot of recommendations. People did spend some considerable time in reviewing this act before they came to us, and they were not always only coming and giving us suggestions from their own narrow perspective. They gave us recommendations generally on all of the act. We had many groups come before us during the hearings, groups such as the Canadian Paraplegic Association, which gave us a good insight of what the Paraplegic Association would like to see in some of this act. They gave us a good insight of some of the problems that people have.

We all take for granted that on election day we will come out and we will go and vote and go home, a lot of us do not think much more about it than that, except the fact that we have to vote and we are willing to vote, but there are many people in our society for whom it is not so simple for them to vote. There are people who need to be assisted into the polling station, people who need to have assistance when they get into these polling stations and sometimes we do not think about this and sometimes it becomes so frustrating and so difficult, that people who need this extra assistance do not always want to make that extra effort, it is too hard for them and sometimes it is completely impossible for them.

Transportation alone I would imagine, for people who need to be driven in specially equipped vehicles, it would be extremely difficult on election day especially in St. John's, because there is only a limited amount and they are being used every day for regular service so to have extra pressure put on them for one day for an election, I imagine it would be very difficult to try to manage.

Mr. Speaker, the three political parties did make presentations to our committee and it is good to see that they did. Two made presentations in person and one of the parties made a written presentation and I think, at least the executives or the presidents of the parties see the importance of this new act and this act not only puts a lot of onus on district associations, it certainly puts a lot of onus on the provincial parties to see that the act is adhered to during the election.

I said this in a matter of jest to a fellow one time, it was the President of the Liberal Party, the other day - I think on Friday when I saw him, and he will be my opponent next time around most likely, I said all you will have to do with the new act is make sure you appoint someone your financial agent, someone whom you do not like very much, because that is the person who is going to take the heat and it is his responsibility to see that most of this act is put in place, so your financial agent is going to be a very important person for each candidate the next time around and it might be difficult to find people to do it. It might be almost impossible for some of them to take it on, but, Mr. Speaker, the thinking in the committee was that if we are going to have taxpayers paying some of the expenses for these elections we certainly have to have a good accountability of where the money is going and make sure that the money is being spent properly. There is no way to have the taxpayers of this Province paying a certain amount of the expenses of an election and not having the proper accounting procedures put in place so that monies are well accounted for and the rules and regulations are enforced and somebody, one person in the group will be responsible for it. By having that one person in the group responsible for the expenditures under the act that person certainly has a very good incentive to see that the act is adhered to. It is going to be difficult. This new act, if passed today in this House of Assembly and there was an election called tomorrow, I say there would be quite a bit of panic around amongst candidates on either side of the House because it is going to take some time for people who wish to seek election in the next election, for their district associations and for everyone else to have a good look at this. I recommend to all of the district associations to have a very good look at it as quickly as possible. The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture says there will be no opposition. I know if they called one now he would like that because of headaches every now and then but there always will be an Opposition in Newfoundland.


MR. R. AYLWARD: I have to make a comment on that. I listened to that and I really found it ironic.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you know why it is ironic? The person who said it used to pass notes in to Leo Barry.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The person who said it, when he was here writing the questions for the hon. member, the rexograms we used to call them, when he wrote the rexograms for hon. members asking questions in the House of Assembly when he was here, the members could not read the questions he used to put. Talk about having an easy time, we had it pretty good there, but the frightening thing about it was of all those people who could not read the questions that this member brought, most of them are Cabinet ministers now, and I find that really frightening.

AN HON. MEMBER: He was like a rat He used to peep in around the door like a shrew.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I hope when the President of Treasury Board does get up to speak to close debate on this he will indicate to us just how many of these recommendations that we worked hard to come up with and were given to us in good faith by a lot of people who came before our committee, how many of these recommendations the government is willing to recommend to this House. Because if the government is not willing to make the necessary amendments, I certainly would be willing. I don't know if I would get support from our committee. Maybe with six or seven votes from that side we might be able to get some of these things approved, Mr. Speaker.

There is one other thing that I know the government is going to include in this act that is not in it now, and I am sure the minister will be making mention of another amendment that the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: What one was that, Robert?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well I am sure the minister will say what that is. I don't know if he told me in confidence or not, so I am not going to say it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Alright.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I do want to say once again that the committee members, I found them very, very good to work with. Once we got a few of our differences out of the way it was a good committee, and a serious committee, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MATTHEWS: If you had had a Chairman you would have done something.

MR. R. AYLWARD: And we went at this to do the proper job. I guess history will tell, or after the next election we will know if we did a proper job or not.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to adjourn this debate until tomorrow.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The committees tomorrow are the estimates committees. In the House in the morning, the Department of Social Services will be appearing, and in the evening at 7:00 in the House, the Department of Environment and Lands, and in the Colonial Building in the evening, the Department of Forestry and Agriculture. Mr. Speaker, these are the three committee meetings scheduled for tomorrow. I remind all hon. members that these are happening.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest to the House that I would like tomorrow to finish up the second reading on this particular act. This will only take ten or fifteen minutes because I believe he has five minutes left, or something, then I will finish it off in five, and then we can get on to the Committee stage of Bill 17.

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