June 8, 1992                   HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLI  No. 52

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. Government has known now for about two years, since the release of the Harris Report, that we face the possibility of a complete shutdown of our northern codfishery. It seems from the news of this past couple of days that we are very close to D day. I guess we are soon going to get an official announcement on a moratorium. As a matter of fact we could have an announcement in four, five or six weeks. I am just wondering if the Minister of Fisheries could tell the House what impact such a moratorium would have on the economy of the Province? Has the provincial government studied that impact, and if such a study has been done would they consider tabling the findings of a study?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Province has supported the findings of the Harris Panel Report since it was first tabled by that committee. We have been in contact with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans suggesting to them that the recommendations in the Harris Panel Report be followed. Unfortunately the minister and his officials did not see fit to accept the recommendations of the Province and the recommendations of the Harris Panel Report so consequently we now find ourselves in the very unfortunate position of maybe having to impose a moratorium on the catch of northern cod.

When this problem started to appear back just after the Harris Panel Report was submitted the Province initiated, along with the federal government, a plan of action. The federal government at the time appointed a cabinet committee headed by the Right Honourable Joe Clark and it included several key members of the federal cabinet. The Premier and I met with that committee, Mr. Speaker, on August 12, I believe it was 1990, and outlined our plans. At that meeting we undertook to cost-share to the tune of 20 per cent what it would take to put a response program in place.

The Stein Committee was then organized and my officials worked along with the Stein Panel putting together a response program trying to identify areas where, hopefully, diversification could take place. We did offer to put up 20 per cent which would have amounted to in excess of $100 million. At the last minute the committee saw fit to walk away from the table and then to announce on its own that they were going to put together a program that, according to them, would have cost $584 million. Mr. Speaker, that was not an accurate amount because we found out later that they were including in that response program a great many other existing programs and therefore it was an inflated figure, and certainly the program itself did not, in our view, meet the requirements of the day and consequently -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: - we have not seen too much come out it. So, Mr. Speaker, we have worked with the federal government - Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Burin - Placentia West, could only stay quiet for a moment, maybe the information that the hon. gentleman wants will become available.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is to decide on questions and on answers and the Chair does not need any prompting from anybody on any side. I will indicate that the minister was getting rather lengthy, but I would want to as well, remind hon. members that sometimes questions relating to this kind of thing, of policy, can invite lengthy answers, this from Beauchesne. The Chair does not want to take too much of the Question Period to do this, but just to remind hon. members that questions may be ruled out of order.

The Chair is very lenient on that, but just to remind hon. members, questions which may be ruled out of order, and I just quote from Beauchesne, section 409(11) which says: " A question which seeks an opinion about government policy is probably out of order in that it asks for an opinion and not information"- and the reason for that is because a minister can get into a lengthy answer and we do not want that. I would now come back to the Opposition House Leader for further questioning.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

A further question for the minister. Is the minister saying that there have been no further discussions with the federal government since the Stein Task Force sort of broke off discussions and left the table as the minister has indicated? Has there not been any further discussions with the federal government on the amount and kind of assistance that should be put in place for fishermen and fish plant workers, as a result of a moratorium on the northern cod fishery, has there not been anything said back and forth between government since that time?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that. What I am telling the hon. gentleman and the House, is that the Province put considerable effort into working with the federal government and the Stein Task Force putting together an adequate response program. In the course of putting together that program, the Province undertook to put in 20 per cent, which would have come to over $100 million.

We have had many discussions, Mr. Speaker, with the federal government since that time, since they refused our offer, trying to find ways and means of alleviating the problem. But I should remind hon. gentlemen opposite, Mr. Speaker, that the problem that we are now encountering, and if and when a moratorium is found to be necessary, that problem is a direct responsibility of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans - a direct responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, while the federal government is not at all backward in pouring money into the hands of western farmers, as they have done almost every year, for example in the year 1989 in a speech from the then Minister of Agriculture, Don Mazankowski, he indicated that over $4 billion was being pumped into the agricultural industry. In 1991, Mr. Speaker, the federal government didn't have any compunction whatever in putting $1.2 billion into the farm industry. Now surely Newfoundland should be able to expect our federal government to come through with an adequate program to compensate the fishermen, and to help them over a period caused by their own mismanagement.

Mr. Speaker, if the gentlemen opposite want to do a service to the people of this Province they would use their influence on their friends in Ottawa to make sure that they live up to their responsibility, and working with the Province come up with a program to assist the fishermen.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister should also be very much aware that the western provinces were not reluctant to get involved in the farmers aid program either. It was not just a federal government program. The western provinces, Mr. Speaker, took some responsibility to help those people in trouble the same as this government should help our fishermen and fish plant workers.

I have a supplementary for the minister. Has the minister any indication of what a moratorium, what impact that would have on the flounder fishery, which Fishery Products International is now pursuing? With a by-catch of cod that the minister has provided to allow them to pursue flounder what implications would the moratorium have for the flounder fishery? Would that be allowed to continue, or would we see it all stop, is the question.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, let me say this before I get into the answer to his question. Yes, the western provinces did, in fact, offer to cost-share the program that was necessary to tide the farmers over, and the amount that they offered is an amount equal to that which the Province of Newfoundland offered. So we offered an amount in relative terms equal to the same amount offered by the Western Prairie Provinces with respect to a program that was then being put in place by the federal minister.

With respect to the question that he asked, this announcement came on Friday. I should point out that the Province was not even given an advance notice of this press release. I had to learn of the contents of the press statement through the news media. We were not even given the benefit of a copy of that statement.

I had the biologist with my department go to Halifax last week to attend a meeting of NAFO, at which time this matter was discussed. He was literally physically removed from that meeting and told that he wasn't allowed to be there.

Mr. Speaker, just think about it for a moment - the Province of Newfoundland, dependent as we are on the fishery, where an official and a representative, a scientist from my department, was not allowed to sit in on that meeting. In fact, he was told that if they allowed him in, they would then have to allow in a representative from The Animal Rights Association, who was outside waiting to get in, as well. Can you imagine treating the Province like that?

I didn't know a thing about this until the news broke around eleven o'clock on Friday.

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question.

MR. CARTER: The question with respect to flatfish? The scientists are telling the federal minister that he should stick to the FO.1, the lower limit of which would be about 50,000 metric tons and the upper limit would be 91,000 metric tons.

I would expect the minister to accept the lower figure. I can't see how he can possibly ignore that recommendation. If that is the case - let us assume that he takes the 50,000 ton recommendation, which is the low side of the FO.1; we have already harvested 25,000 metric tons, 8,000 by the offshore, the balance from the Canadian offshore; so that leaves a balance of 25,000 metric tons for all sectors.

I expect the minister will have to make a very tough decision whether he is going to close the fishery altogether, whether he is going to allow the inshore to catch the remainder of the 25,000, or whether he is going to take a major part of that 25,000 and allocate to the large companies, principally FPI, to enable them to access the flatfish.

I cannot answer that question. I am not privy to that information.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind hon. ministers and everybody that in addition to the questions being brief, the answers ought to be brief. As I said, I appreciate when we get into policy and this kind of thing that we can be lengthy, but I ask ministers to remember that their answers should be brief.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

My colleague wants me to remind the minister that he is the only one who sought a seat for the Mulroney Conservatives. He is the only one in the House, actually. No one else did it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister - there is not going to be a lot left of the Newfoundland fishery if this moratorium comes into effect - does the minister have any plan, then, to diversify what little will remain of the Newfoundland fishery? Does he, indeed, have a plan to generate employment as an alternative to the fishery? Let me ask the minister that.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman seems determined to try to pass the buck and to make the Province fully responsible for this crisis, or at least for finding a solution to this problem. Now, I don't know who he is working for. He must be under direct orders from the federal politicians. He must be, because he is certainly not acting in the best interest of Newfoundland or the people he represents.

When we talk about putting a moratorium on Northern Cod, it doesn't mean that you are going to be closing down the fishery entirely. We will still have a pelagic fishery. We will, hopefully, have a caplin fishery. FPI has told me that 30 per cent of their production is of Northern Cod. I am told that about 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the total groundfish production in the Province is Northern Cod. So there will, hopefully, still be a much reduced fishery and that is what we have to work on.

Now, mind you, that being the case, there is going to be a lot of people displaced, and there is going to have to be a lot of response programs put in place to tide the people over. To that end, I have today written the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and requested a meeting with him at the earliest date possible, so that we can sit down man to man and talk about the situation, what he intends to do, and then, hopefully, find out what their plans are. I will be happy to tell him then what the Province is willing to do.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question was to be addressed to the minister responsible for development. I guess I will address my question to the hon. the President of Treasury Board. Has the government offered any assistance to the Lundrigan group of companies to help it avoid bankruptcy?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we have obviously had discussions with Lundrigan's over some period of time with regard to their particular situation. At the present time, there is a position that we have put to Lundrigan's to provide help for segments of their operation that are not directly in competition. For instance, we wouldn't include City Motors in this or Avis Rent A Car or these others types of agencies that are direct competitors. Mr. Speaker, there is a position that, I guess, Lundrigans and the banks are considering at this particular time.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the hon. minister could tell us: With regard to the proposal that has been made by government, if this is rejected by the banks and by the Lundrigan group of companies, will financial assistance be made available to individuals who would like to purchase other segments of the particular operation? He referred to them as other segments of the Lundrigan group of companies. Will financial assistance be offered by this administration to assist these people to purchase?

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

MR. BAKER: It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that most of the units or the segments of the Lundrigan group of companies are profitable operations on their own, and we don't envision, for most of these operations, that assistance would ever be needed in terms of the divestiture. However, Mr. Speaker, if, in fact, the conditions set forth by government are not acceptable to Lundrigans and the bank and the further divestiture has to happen, anybody who would consider operating these ventures could obviously come to government to try to avail of any programs that are normally available to all businesses in the Province, but only in that regard, that the assistance is the same that is available to all other competitive businesses in the Province.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the acting Minister of Health, whoever that may be. Is the acting Minister of Health aware that the earliest possible appointment that an individual can get for a mammography test is September of 1992, three or four months from now, and that there is a waiting list at St. Clare's Hospital of 1200 women who are waiting for mammograms and a further waiting list of over 1000 women who are waiting for mammograms at The Grace?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware there is a waiting list, but I will have to take notice of that question and get back to the member with the answer. I do not have these details, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DOYLE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate that. I hope the minister will make himself and the government aware of the seriousness of that problem. They should be aware that ten out of every 100 patients who receive mammograms show early signs of cancer, and that it is very important that early detection be had, because early detection is of great importance.

Is the government aware of the mental anguish and the torment that women must experience who have to wait, who have to sit around for a three - or a four-month period, not knowing if they are among the one in ten who will be diagnosed as positive?

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

DR. WARREN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, certainly we are aware of that. But again I want to check the actual details. Certainly we are sensitive to the problems experienced, emotional and otherwise, of people who are waiting for all kinds of services in this Province, including the service to which the member asked the question about.

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

MR. DOYLE: Supplementary, for the President of Treasury Board, given the fact that he is the man who controls the money. Given the fact that the incidence of breast cancer in Newfoundland is higher than the national average - one in ten, as I said, diagnosed as positive - will the government immediately make the investment that will not only reduce that type of mental anguish that women are having to go through, but save lives and reduce the cost to the health care system as well?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we will, in consultation with the medical profession, the hospitals, the hospital administrators and with the professionals in the field, provide the best service that we possibly can under existing circumstances.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Labour. On Friday the minister received the latest Stats Canada statistics with respect to the UI rate, and shows that the Newfoundland rate has increased a full percentage to 20.1 per cent. That is bad enough. The real tragedy is that 11,000 people have left the work force since May of last year. We have had a net loss of 10,000 jobs over the past twelve months, 5,000 jobs since April of this year. We have a crisis on our hands. What, and when, is the minister going to do something?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a situation, as I have indicated in the House of Assembly all through this session, that we have been monitoring on an ongoing basis. It is clear that some of the numbers that the hon. member opposite quotes are accurate. Others are open for interpretation. It depends on what you want to compare.

But in fact we recognise that right across the country similar sets of circumstances prevail. It only does reflect in one of several statistical indicators that there is indeed still a recession in place in the whole country and in this Province. We have not yet made any definitive plans in terms of whether or not the Province will try to intervene in any way, shape or form. Because I believe the hon. member opposite, and all others, would recognise that any intervention done by this government to try to take care of a short-term problem in Newfoundland, will be kind of meaningless if it is not also accompanied by a similar effort nationally and across the country.

We have been looking at thing that we could do jointly with the federal government. They have been looking at trying to shift the emphasis from job creation in the short-term - which has been the normal government-initiated response to this type of difficulty - to training, the difficulty now being that they have expended their training dollars that are budgeted largely this year. They are looking for more. We, in concert with the federal government, are continuing to look at the situation. At a point in time, if it is considered appropriate for the government to intervene in some fashion that we believe will be meaningful and have a real impact, then we will do that.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. While I appreciate and understand that the federal government is doing something, I am asking the minister what specifically is he going to do? The minister has now been saying for weeks that he has been working on a job creation program that he is soon going to announce. We know that Cabinet ministers and senior officials within their departments have been discussing job strategies similar to the ones of last fall. When is the Minister going to announce this program because he has worked on it for a number of months? What is he waiting for? Is he waiting for the House to close to announce those programs? What is the problem with the minister's program?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly it is clear that any program that we would announce at any time - the last consideration would be whether or not the House of Assembly is open. I think the member opposite will recognize that a large number of people in Newfoundland and Labrador do not know we are in here today, so from the point of view of the people who need the assistance they certainly are not considering that anybody would actually make a decision on the basis of whether or not the House of Assembly was open. I am sure that the hon. member opposite did not mean to even suggest that would be part of the consideration. The consideration is totally motivated by the fact that we recognize there is a need. We have recognized that there is a limited role at any point in time that government itself can play by intervening by the use of taxpayer's dollars to try and put people to work for other than the provision of services that are outlined and should be ongoing on a regular basis.

We did it last year out of pure necessity and because we deemed there was an emergency at the time that could not be addressed in any other way. It was also addressed in a parallel fashion by the federal government who participated in a Fisheries Response Program and ours complemented that for all other sectors except the fishery. This year the information we are getting sofar from the federal officials and from the federal ministers is that they do not really intend to participate in job creation programs related to the fishery and therefore if we are going to have that whole sector of our economy not addressed in a meaningful way any effort we might put in for the other sectors would in fact not have any meaningful impact, and unless we can come to some agreement as to what we are going to do jointly and together then we will continue on with the discussions and hope to find a solution that will be beneficial to all Newfoundlanders in all sectors at an appropriate time.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A supplementary to the minister.

The minister has had some criticism of his Employment Generation Program, that it does not reflect the seasonality of much of the employment we could have in this Province. It does not apply to Tourism and so on. In the Estimates some time ago we suggested to the minister that if he would change the scope of the program it would allow people engaged in seasonal activities to apply and get funding. Has the minister decided if he is going to adopt the strategies similar for seasonal employment as he has for the 20/20/20?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the question being asked as it gives us an opportunity to address that issue just briefly. As was indicated in the estimates when that point was raised, it was something that we had considered briefly and we committed we would go back and review in detail as a result of the issue being raised again during the discussions of the estimates for the department. We have indeed recognized that there probably is considerable merit in a seasonal type of program that has a similar component or runs in a similar fashion to our Employment Generation Program. The difficulty with it is that it is not budgeted for.

If we are going to introduce that program, as with any other emergency employment response program, it will require additional funds and in all of our considerations where we are now looking at the final stages of debate in a Budget that is already forecasting around $30 million or so in deficit, it is a major decision for this government to make at any point in time to what degree can we increase the deficit position of the Province to introduce some version of a seasonal program or any other program that is related to the range of employment type of programs and needs that are evident in the Province. We are looking at how we can address them and to what limit we might be able to stretch the borrowing capacity of the Province to do it.

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

MR. WINSOR: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

The latest Stats Canada information shows that for youth, aged between fifteen and twenty-four, the UI rate is at about 36 per cent. The minister last week announced some 553 jobs for students in the Student Employment Program but this does not come close to addressing the situation as reflected in these stats. Would the minister review this situation and seek additional funding to increase the number of jobs in the Student Employment Program since the Challenge 92 now, which is already out, and that is not going to come close to addressing the needs. Would the Minister have a look at that program as well?

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker. We are monitoring the impact of the Student Employment Program, both the federal initiative and our own provincial initiative, it should be pointed out again for the record, to make sure that everybody understands the context in which these numbers are quoted. Even though the numbers are high again they are not as high as they were at an equivalent point in time last year; close but not as high. So it is not like it is a strange, odd or different type of circumstance.

The unemployment rate in that category was higher last year at this point in time. The impact of both the provincial Student Employment Program and the federal Student Employment Program has not yet shown up in these statistics because they were taken a while ago. The jobs that we created and the federal government created in that age bracket have not yet impacted on these statistics. It is only when that happens in another month that someone will be able to decide in a definitive fashion whether or not we have met any part of the need. We can monitor it before that. We will, and again if there is some way and something appropriate that should be done, we will certainly try and find a way to do it, but I can't stand in this House today - and it would be irresponsible for me to do so - to answer a definitive yes or no to any of the proposals that the hon. member puts forward.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Media reports have indicated that thirty or so people have been laid off at Come-By-Chance. Now the Minister of Energy will recall that the revival of this project was a very special piece of pride of our particular party. I am wondering if the minister could indicate if all is well at Come-By-Chance at this particular time.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I have been briefed on the layoffs as late as, I guess, within the last hour I received a briefing on the layoffs at Come-By-Chance, and I really don't want to go into any details on that. It is up to the company to really talk about it. Approximately thirty people have been given their notice. Half of them were temporary jobs, and the other half were in permanent jobs throughout the organization.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that the previous PC administration did revive this defunct project, which was the largest bankruptcy in Canadian history, I am wondering, can the minister assure me, assure this House, assure the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that this particular Liberal administration is doing and will do all in its power to salvage that particular operation if indeed it is in trouble?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, we want to see Come-By-Chance prosper as well as any Newfoundlander, I believe, would want to see Come-By-Chance prosper. We hope that will happen, but I can't get into any details on what may or may not be happening inside the company.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

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


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition that isn't properly addressed to the House of Assembly. It was delivered to me over the weekend when I went back home to my district, and it concerns the proposed cuts announced by Department of Education officials with regard to student assistants in Western Labrador. I would ask that I be given leave to present this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have permission?

AN HON. MEMBER: It has been agreed to.

MR. SPEAKER: It has not been agreed to, I remind hon. members.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Clerk saw it.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the Clerk looked at it but I don't know whether the Clerk gave approval.

The hon. member has leave.

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

I am pleased to support the 134 people, I believe it is, who have signed this petition and asked me to present it on their behalf and on behalf of the thousands of people in Western Labrador who have supported the concept of integration of these mentally handicapped students in our educational system in Western Labrador, Mr. Speaker, an educational system that was the envy of the whole country, an educational system that was initiated, fostered and developed by two educators in Western Labrador by the names of Emerson and Donna Coish who have been recognized nationally. They have won national awards, such as the Vanier Award. They have won national teachers' awards, Mr. Speaker. No other teachers in this Province, or, indeed, the whole country, have been recognized for their work as they have, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the idea of integrating mentally handicapped people into the classroom has swept this country. These two educators have been asked to go to other parts of this country so that other areas of Canada can copy, can imitate, can institute a method of integration into their educational systems that would be comparable to what we did have and should have in Western Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

The people of Western Labrador were proud of this system. They, led by the cautious - the people of Western Labrador funded this system themselves. That is how it was initiated. That is how this system got started in this Province, Mr. Speaker. Now, the people of Western Labrador supported it wholeheartedly. They have supported it financially and they know that they will support it again financially, because they pay more school taxes than any other residents of this Province, and they realize it, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to quote, Mr. Speaker, from a letter written to the hon. the Minister of Education. It is signed by member of my district, a resident of my district who was one of the most respected people in the community of Labrador City, a former war veteran, a legionnaire, a community leader, Mr. Speaker, who wrote this letter, and I want this recorded. It is addressed to the minister. He says:

"My six-year-old grandson is one of the differently abled children who, due to your lack of compassion and intelligence, will lose the only chance he had in our Province to obtain an education. Your stated intention to dismantle a twelve-year-old, successful integration program that has been copied by leading educators across Canada, which earned the Vanier Award for the couple who initiated it, and has been the envy of parents of differently abled people everywhere, would suggest that our legislators would benefit from enrolment in a similar program."

"Your plan to stop educating and to start warehousing children in need will rank right up there with the Newfoundland Government's response in the 1970s to the cries for help from Mount Cashel."

Mr. Speaker, that letter, addressed to the minister, was signed by Stu Williamson, one of the most respected senior citizens and community leaders in Western Labrador.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to present this petition and speak in favour of the petition, because I firmly believe that this integration of our educational system, that we have promoted in Western Labrador for the past twelve years, should continue. The government should not institute the proposed cutbacks that they have, the 75 per cent cutback in funding to the Integrated School Board and the approximately 50 per cent cutback to the proposed funding to the Roman Catholic School Board. Mr. Speaker, this is an integration system that works. We have proven that it does work.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. A. SNOW: These people deserve an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, and we should not allow it to be cut back.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 1.

It is moved and seconded that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply and that I do now leave the Chair.

All those in favour, please say -

MR. A. SNOW: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure that the hon. member is permitted to get up on a point of order while the Chair is putting a motion to the floor. He is not permitted to do that. The Chair has to carry on, I am sorry.

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

Committee of the Whole

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

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I have been asked by residents of my constituency to deliver a letter and a video of a graduation exercise that was held in Western Labrador. I was asked to deliver it to the Minister of Education.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: May I have leave of the House to present this to the Minister of Education?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Is the hon. member on a point of order?


MR. CHAIRMAN: Is the hon. member asking leave?

MR. A. SNOW: Yes.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. member have leave?


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Question.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Is the house ready for the question?

MR. WINDSOR: No, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, I was curious on Friday that the Minister of Development failed to respond to any of the questions that were put to him. I have spoken on several occasions on the issue relating to funding by Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. On Thursday, and again on Friday, I went through in some detail, some of the funds that have been distributed by the corporation to various companies across the Province, and I asked a large number of questions relating to the individual loans and equity funds that were made available to these companies.

Now, the minister, when he stood up on Friday, talked about everything but - he talked about all kinds of things that had taken place many years ago. He wanted to talk about Sprung; he talked in generalities about ACOA, but he has not answered the questions, and I have no intention of taking the time of the House today to go through all those questions again. Hansards are on the desks or the Table, if the minister doesn't remember the questions.

What I am looking for today are some answers. Is the minister going to provide the House with some answers? And to simply say that any business can come forward, is not good enough. If that is the case, let the minister say that and let it be clear, that any business and any industry is eligible for funding and that none are excluded, but let the people in Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the people in Finance and Treasury Board know that, as well; and let companies all across this Province know that they can now request assistance to buy into retail outlets, to restructure debt, to reduce the debt service ratio. Now, these are all admirable programs, Mr. Chairman, if in fact, they are in place and universally applied.

It has always been our understanding that these programs applied only to companies who were noncompetitive with other similar companies in the Province, that it applied to resource-based industries, to tourism and things of that nature; to research and development, to hi-tech, to technology transfer; something that was unique and different, a service that was required in the Province that would not otherwise be available, and sometimes some exceptions into the service sector, particularly in rural areas where commercial enterprise is not readily available and probably would not be viable on its own, therefore requiring some assistance, and there is a question as to whether or not funding for that should come from enterprise development funding, or whether or not that should be some sort of a social program, the same as the funding of the stores in Labrador run by Rural Development, a subsidy of that nature.

Very specific questions I want this minister to answer:

Is it now a fact, that retail operations are eligible for funding? Is it now a fact, that such things as Beauty Salons and Tanning Salons and Video Stores are eligible for funding? Is it a fact that fast food take outs and restaurants are eligible for funding? Is it a fact that construction companies and transport companies are eligible for funding? - very clear, concise questions. I don't need the minister to talk about ACOA and what ACOA might be doing or anybody else.

I want a clear statement of policy from this minister on behalf of government, so that everybody out there in Newfoundland and Labrador knows whether or not he or she is eligible for funding from Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador - clear and concise, Mr. Chairman. And if the answer is no, to these questions, then let the minister explain all of the grants, loans, subsidies, and equity funding that he listed, that he tabled in this House. Let him explain those ones that are not in accordance with the policy that I just enunciated, that I believe has been and is now. It would be nice if everybody could be covered, if only there were enough money available to the Province to assist every company, but that is not the case, and that is why there are guidelines.

The question now is very simple. What is the policy? Do these companies qualify? If not, why were these funds made available to these other companies? Let the minister get on his feet and answer those questions once and for all.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I cannot let the opportunity go by, I think, without drawing to the attention of the House something we saw happen here today, the complete disregard for the youth, the disadvantaged youth, perhaps, of our Province.

We look at the Budget, the amount of dollars being spent, and we hear the Premier going around using as an excuse for doing nothing - and absolutely nothing has been done to enhance this Province since the government took over - the excuse that we have no money. Yet, we look at this year's Budget, and as we compare it to last year's, and last year's to the year before, and the year before to the year before that, we see that each year there are more dollars in the Budget. So how can anybody go out around and tell people, we have no money, when there is consistently more money in the Budget? At least, the same work could be done, and in light of the cutbacks by this government, significantly more work in other areas.

One of the areas that is now being targeted, apparently, is the money that is spent on teacher aids, or student assistants. There are a number of titles - teacher assistants throughout the Province.

The minister today saw a petition presented from Labrador West, an area which has piloted the assistant program in the Province. Before the main part of the program had been instituted throughout most of the Province, Labrador was far and away ahead of everybody else in piloting a project which showed that by bringing the disadvantaged into the classroom, and by helping them have some extra assistance and assistants, that these children progressed tremendously. They not only made great improvement themselves, but the other children in the area accepted these young people for what they were, and they grew to be part of the community.

The story of Labrador is a tremendous success, a model to which we should all aspire. In fact, it was the model to which the former government started to move. It was the former government, I remind the minister, unlike what he said the other day, who arranged for the assistants to be changed from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Education. Legislation was introduced. A program was drawn up by former ministers, and approved by Cabinet, to have them brought under the Department of Education.

This minister has now put in the process the plan to download this responsibility on school boards, and in order to be able to wipe his hands, like all the other members of this Pontius Pilate government, says, 'Well, it is not my fault. The problem now lies with the school board. We are giving them the money, so it is up to them how to use that money,' knowing full well that if there is going to be equal educational opportunities, then we are equalizing towards the bottom and not towards the top.

The minister, himself, knows that full well. He knows what is happening, but he just can't get the backing. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the courage to stand up and fight his colleagues, and the Premier, who is running the show, of course, to show that they are going in the wrong direction. The complete ignoring today of a petition presented from Labrador West shows how much little attention is being paid to the plight of the parents out there who are saying that: unless we can hold the programs we have and improve upon these programs, then our disadvantaged children will not have a fair shake in this society.

The Province of Newfoundland for years has been recognised as a forerunner in the country in relation to special education. The Province of Newfoundland is the leading light, long before the present administration took office. Newfoundland was looked upon as the leading light in the field of special education. We have had to send our own people all over the country to show others how we operate; we have had people come from all over the place to look upon the operation here in Newfoundland. A credit to society, what we have done with the disadvantaged. Nobody know that better than the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, a former president of the NTA, who was well advised by his colleagues in the teaching profession of the tremendous work done by people in the field of special education.

Now apparently it is being used as an area whereby we can start whittling away at the meagre funds. The minister stands up and his excuse is: we put more money into that field last year, more dollars went into special education. He knows full well that the only dollars that went in were because the workers became unionized. They received better financial benefits. We did not receive more assistants, no more work was done. The workers themselves were unionized. Consequently, in order to get a contract with them, the government had to pay out more money.

They are telling about all this money they put into the area. They were forced into it. It took, I remind the minister, two strikes in order to get this government to come across with what they had committed on paper. It took two strikes to get them to live up to their agreements.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not true (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: That is true. It took two strikes last fall. The minister knows full well, because the President of Treasury Board was right in the middle of it. It took two strikes in order to get government to come across with what they had committed, and they did.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. HEARN: Well, you'd better talk to Fraser March and ask them why they went on strike. It was government who bent, it was government who came across, so consequently it is factual, that government would not live up to its agreement, and it took two strikes in order to get the money that the minister says: we put all this money in. You put absolutely nothing in that enhanced the program, absolutely nothing. Now, unfortunately, if the minister goes ahead with his plan to turn this responsibility over to school boards, the minister - maybe nobody else over there, not even the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, who does not care any more, he is not in the teaching profession - but maybe nobody else understands how important it is for this specific program to continue to exist, and be enhanced, not to be downgraded. The minister knows full well.

So I plead to his colleagues, in the case he does not do it, that this program cannot be downgraded. Neither can it be passed off to school boards. Because they will not have the funding to deal with the specifics. It is not a cut-and-dried program. We cannot look across and say; everybody has to be treated equally. That is okay when we are all equal. We are talking about people who in society are not equal, who are disadvantaged. Consequently, we must make special provision for them. It was done in the past and it has been done up to the present. But if it is not done in the future, then these disadvantaged people are going to be more disadvantaged than they have been in the past.

It is a real scare out there for the parents. They know full well, if these children cannot have somebody one-on-one or, depending upon the degree of severity of the handicapped, if they do not have somebody to deal with them, to handle them personally, day in and day out, somebody to assist the teacher and assist the students, if these people are not in place then the students cannot continue to function within the school, certainly not within the classroom.

The success story speaks for itself. The minister might say: we have to treat everybody alike. Certain schools, certain school boards perhaps, because of their own initiative and because of the interest of specific teachers or parent groups or whatever have enhanced their programs, this is what we should be aiming towards. If there is inequality in the system out there, then try to pick the best example of what is being done to help these children.

We are not talking about large numbers. We are not talking about a large amount of money. We are talking about helping people who cannot help themselves. It is extremely important for the minister to pick the best system that is out there, the best example that is out there, and to try to make sure that the other school boards around the Province have the same opportunity to provide the type of service to these young children that is being done in places like Labrador West and other parts of the Province.

So, Mr. Chairman, hopefully the minister will stand on his principles and demand of his colleagues that they listen to him, and that they deliver to him the amounts necessary to make sure that a good program continues and that, as I say, the programs which are out there that are not so good, instead of bringing others down to their level, he enhances the areas that need enhancement so that all our children are treated equally throughout the Province.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Chairman, I have just a couple of brief comments.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

DR. WARREN: Finally the Member for Menihek got someone to support his petition, and I would like to make two or three comments in that respect.

Mr. Chairman, over the weekend I had a chance to review the report that was done by the consultants - two independent consultants. I would like to comment very quickly and very briefly on a few of the points.

There is no doubt, as a result of that study, that we needed to rationalize the allocation and the utilization of student assistants. There is no doubt that those two consultants from the department, well known specialized persons, there is no doubt -

MR. TOBIN: Now that is not true! That is not true!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

DR. WARREN: - as a result of their study that we need to rationalize not only the allocation -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West to retract that statement.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, if I said something that is unparliamentary I will certainly retract it, but the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

I asked the hon. member to retract the statements that he made.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I withdraw the comments, but he is a disease on the (inaudible).


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

DR. WARREN: Mr. Chairman, we had two consultants from the department -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

Again the Member for Burin - Placentia West is using terms which are unparliamentary. I ask him to withdraw them without qualification.

MR. TOBIN: I withdraw, Mr. Chairman.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Chairman, I didn't want to mislead anybody, but we had two -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

DR. WARREN: - two consultants -

MR. TOBIN: Two employees in your department did the study, not consultants. Tell the truth, now.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

DR. WARREN: Two consultants from the Department of Education -

MR. TOBIN: They were two employees from your department, not consultants.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair hasn't recognized the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West. The Chair has recognized the hon. Minister of Education. I ask the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West to restrain himself.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Two consultants in the Department of Education who are specialists in the area did the provincial study of not only the allocation of student assistants, but the utilization of student assistants.

Mr. Chairman, their findings were that we had about the right number in the Province as a whole, but some school boards have too few in accordance with their criteria, and some school boards have more than the minimum standards dictate. In order to live within the budget - we could leave the present system in place and not provide help for those special need students who need it in other parts of the Province, but we felt that we must have a system based on need. Where need exists then we will provide service. We would like to have all kinds of money, but I guess we cannot; we are unable to provide for all parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, the kind of service that is in existence in Labrador.

In J.R. Smallwood Collegiate, I was told this morning, they have four teachers and fifteen student assistants for fifteen students. They have eighteen or nineteen full-time employees for fifteen students. We cannot, in this Province, provide for every student, 1.1 or 1.5 persons. Our minimum standards would suggest that they need, in J.R. Smallwood Collegiate, about eight persons to work with the fifteen students. Right now they have eighteen or nineteen student assistants - eighteen or nineteen teachers or student assistants - and some of the student assistants are working six and a half hours a day.

We would like to have the money to provide all kinds of services, but we cannot provide that level of service throughout the Province. So there may have to be some adjustments in areas such as Labrador, and we will provide then additional funding for students who live in other parts of the Province.

There are fifteen or twenty districts in the Province that either have the right number, according to our study, or they have too few student assistants. Our goal is to provide a minimum required level of service throughout the Province. The kind of service provided should not be dictated by where that student lives, or for whatever reason. There are four or five boards, and I do not know the reasons. I think I have some indication of why they have excessive numbers in accordance with our minimum level of service. I think I know. There are four or five boards that have a higher number than our minimum standards would require. I think I know why they do. This is no reflection on the level of service in Labrador or other districts. They are providing good service. The government supports mainstreaming. This government supports mainstreaming, but we cannot provide one-on-one for every special needs student in the Province.

At J.R. Smallwood Collegiate, the area that the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes talked about, they have, I gather, eighteen to nineteen full-time people for fifteen students. They have four teachers, and fourteen or fifteen or sixteen student assistants, to work with fifteen students.

We cannot, as a Province as a whole, provide that level of service. We would like to be able to do it. We did put extra money in this year, but we only have $4.8 million in the Budget, and there are student assistants in many other parts of the Province who do not have enough help. We are going to provide a rational program. We are going to distribute student assistants on the basis of need. We will support the principle of mainstreaming and integration.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I had not planned to get involved in this debate this evening (inaudible), but when I see the Minister of Education standing up in this House today, knowingly telling something that was not true -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You said that you had two independent consultants who did a study. They are employees of the Department of Education, and you said it in Hansard!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

DR. WARREN: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

DR. WARREN: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Education said we had two consultants from the Department of Education who did the survey. Two employees of the Department of Education did the survey.

MR. HEARN: To the point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Chairman, Hansard will clearly show that when the Minister of Education stood up first he said: We had two independent consultants do a study - two independent consultants. It was afterwards, after being shouted down, that he then went on to say: We had two consultants from the Department of Education.

Hansard will show that the minister said first, and continued to speak until he was corrected, that we had two independent consultants do the study. Hansard will show that, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

To that point of order, it is a difference of opinion between hon. members and really not a point of order.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it was brought to my attention - there was a meeting in Marystown on Thursday night and I happened to send out Hansard, with my questions, my colleagues questions and the minister's response, to the association which I understand presented it. Last night there was a committee of the meetings. They invited me to the meetings and asked me if I would stand up in the House and ask the Minister of Education to tell the truth. I was asked if I would ask the Minister of Education to tell the truth based on what he had said in Hansard of last week, because the Minister of Education said there were independent consultants. Again, today, he gets up about the consultants, even when he was brought to task, we had consultants and you had everyone involved in it, the union was involved in it; it is not true.

You had two of your employees from the Department of Education with a mandate from you to bring back - I would suspect, knowing you and how you play with the truth - bring back to this House, what you wanted. And you wanted to cut the guts out of the program in Labrador West and in the Burin Peninsula. That was your plot, that was your ploy, that was your commitment and that was your answer. That is what they got from that Minister of Education, a man who is committed, Mr. Chairman. The Minister of Education for this Province is committed to the destruction of teacher assistance for special needs children in this Province. He is committed and then he comes in here and talks about consultants in the - yes, Mr. Chairman, I got carried away and again I want to apologize to the Chair, for having to bring me to order three times, but when you attend the meetings and meet with the families of these special needs children and see the minister get up in this House and play with the truth, the way the Minister of Education did today, well, then, Mr. Chairman, maybe it is time to get named, to be kicked out of the House, because someone has to stand up against this vicious minister and his government on their attack on special needs children in this Province.

Yes, you can laugh all you like. I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, he can laugh all he likes, Mr. Chairman, but if you had a child that would not be in school next year because this government gutted the teacher assistance program, refused to fund it, you would not smile, you would be angry like the parents are. Now, it was brought to my attention last night by the principal of the elementary school in Marystown that in Marystown, in the elementary school, there is a student - whose mother called me, as well - that the student is not in school because they do not have a teacher assistant. Today, in Marystown, there is a child not in school because of this government; this handshaking, smiling Minister of Education has children out of school today and he should be ashamed of himself.

Not only that, Mr. Chairman -

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible) again.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, and who is more responsible for cutting the Budget than you? As a matter of fact -

DR. KITCHEN: I would cut it more if I had a chance.


MR. TOBIN: Now, Mr. Chairman, now, he will cut more if he gets the chance. Well, I can tell the Minister of Education -

MR. R. AYLWARD: There will be nobody in school next year.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, this is regrettable. When I spoke about the budget for student assistants in this Province - and I hope Hansard will pick it up - the Minister of Finance said, I will cut it more if I get the chance. Well, I can tell the Minister of Finance, that every association in this Province will receive a copy of Hansard and your comments, and they should.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: It doesn't stop there. In the Marystown Elementary School - and I learned this at the meeting last night - there are presently six students assistants, six, and they need ten. The Principal said there is a requirement in the school for ten student assistants come September. Under what this minister is now proposing, and his two employees of the department, officials don't talk about consultants or independent consultants anymore, call them my employees because that is what exactly what they are. Be truthful for a change.

In Marystown, where there is a requirement for ten, do you know how many are proposed this year? - two. And I can tell the Minister of Education, and I serve notice to this government now, that come September, if you try to put only two student assistants in the Marystown Elementary School, you will not get away with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many students are there?

MR. TOBIN: How many students in the school? There are 600 or 700 students.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I am really not sure of the number, but I attended a meeting last night and I can tell you the people of Marystown are not very happy with this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: The teachers in Marystown?

MR. TOBIN: No, it is not the teachers at Marystown, it is the parents -

MR. R. AYLWARD: You would be there if you had a child in that position, too.

MR. TOBIN: - At the Sacred Heart Elementary School in Marystown. The President of Treasury Board has some information there. What is the information he has? He has the numbers there.

AN HON. MEMBER: The principal, you said a minute ago.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, the principal told me, and he is not very excited to know that there may be children in his school system who will be deprived of an education. The principal of that school today is not very happy to know that there is a child in Marystown who is not in school because of the Minister of Education. There is nobody very happy, Mr. Chairman, about what is taking place.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why is the child not in school today?

MR. TOBIN: Because you will not provide funding for student assistants. You get up here in this House and you play with the truth.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I wonder if the hon. member would take his seat for just one minute?

There are two points I want to bring to the attention of hon. members. One is that when we refer to members of this House, we either refer to them as hon. members, or if we are talking about ministers it would be hon. ministers. We don't refer to them as 'you', 'that crowd', or any other expression other than hon. members or hon. ministers.

The second point is that whenever a member speaks in this House, it is assumed that all members are telling the truth and to suggest that an hon. member is not telling the truth, directly or by other means, is certainly unparliamentary. I bring that to all hon. members' attention. To suggest that a member is playing with the truth or not telling the truth is certainly unparliamentary and I ask all hon. members to refrain from doing that.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Chairperson, when I referred to 'you' I was referring to the government collectively. Whenever I have referred to an hon. member I have always referred to him as an hon. member.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I hope no one gets you mixed up as an hon. member, in the meantime.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Question?

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, I just want to ask the Minister of Development, Is he going to respond to my questions? Is he going to give us any answers at all? Is he going to sit there quietly and hope that this goes away, or is he going to give the answers that this House has asked for?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, I apologize to the hon. member. I was in discussion with the Minister of Finance when he was up getting on with his nonsensical diatribe. I caught the last part of it and it was the same old foolishness from Friday.

Mr. Chairman, the hon. member talked about helping companies. Let us look at some of the companies they helped: an aggregate company which lost $50,000 we had to write off under NLDC, back when he was minister; A printing company, $17,000 we wrote off.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that competitive, or what?

MR. FUREY: A fishing company on Bell Island, $300,000, we wrote off. He was minister, as I understand it. A dry cleaning company $75,000, a marble company, a mechanical outfitting company, a tape-producing company, a consulting company, a bag company - it makes bags - another fishing company.

AN HON. MEMBER: Neither restaurant there, for sure.

MR. FUREY: Here's a beaut - a million dollars written off by that government. The loan was given in 1986 and written off in 1988. Here is another fishing company they wrote off, $1.7 million.

MR. WINDSOR: What does that have to do with the questions? Why don't you answer the questions?

MR. FUREY: No, but you asked -

MR. WINDSOR: Answer the questions!

MR. FUREY: - what do we fund? He attacked us for funding retail and fishing companies and aggregate companies.

MR. WINDSOR: I didn't attack you for funding a fishing company!

MR. FUREY: A provincial blind company -

MR. WINDSOR: Come on, be honest, boy!

MR. FUREY: - a glasses company -

MR. WINDSOR: Stick to the questions!

MR. FUREY: - a tourist operation; a transport company. Now, didn't I hear him attacking us for a transport company?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, you did.


MR. WINDSOR: Answer the questions!

MR. FUREY: A transport trucking company, $40,000 -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: - a music store. Now, he attacked me for bars and restaurants - a bar and a restaurant, $56,000 written off by that minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: What a hypocrite!

MR. FUREY: I mean, you can't have it both ways. I can go on and on. But it is not my duty, Mr. Chairman, to embarrass the hon. member as the former minister. We laid the case on the table. There are 400 companies. As explained last week, you can turn into the vulture, hover down over the 400, pick up thirty, and beat them around and pound on the companies and play games with the companies. Or you can look t it and say: this is high-risk money. Everybody has the opportunity to come in here and participate in the money. There is only $24 million. It flows $2 million a month. We have decentralized decision-making, up to $100,000 and less. It is more efficient. Thirteen hundred new jobs have been created, 3,000 were protected. It triggered out a mirrored amount of $26 million from ACOA and other agencies. Not a bad track record for one year of service.

But for everything that this hon. member criticized us for, there is an example of where they put money in and lost it badly, Mr. Chairman. End of issue.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, the minister is not answering the question. He cannot get out of this by evading the question. Neither did I ever criticise him for funding fish plant companies, or any company that is manufacturing plastic bags or anything else. That is precisely what these funds should be used for. I want him to explain to this House why he is putting equity into fast-food restaurants? Why is he funding lounges? I asked him specific questions. What is the policy? Has the policy been changed?

AN HON. MEMBER: What was your policy?

MR. WINDSOR: My policy is very clear. I want to know what the minister's policy is. We are talking about this minister's Estimates, we are talking about this government's Estimates. If you want to go back and talk about what happened prior to 1971, we can ask what the policies were, too!

MR. FUREY: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: Now, Mr. Chairman, this is not a point of order. The hon. member is simply interrupting. It is not going to save him either!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Development, on a point of order.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, the hon. member can't have it both ways. He has to address and account for what he himself as minister put up.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, that's not a point of order.

MR. FUREY: Now there is a bar and a restaurant here, and the funding was equity participation -

MR. WINDSOR: This is no point of order, Mr. Chairman!

MR. FUREY: - it was $60,000, and it is now out in the Harbour. The hon. member can't have it both ways. He can't criticise this government for doing what it believes was right when he himself as minister did what he thought was right and lost all the money on bars and restaurants.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.


MR. WINDSOR: Now, Mr. Chairman, the minister can spend all day going back and looking up what happened when NLDC was a federal-provincial corporation, answered to by both ministers.

MR. FUREY: Governed by the Province.

MR. WINDSOR: We will answer for - and we have answered in this House in past years for any funding that was made available to other corporations, and which funds may have been lost. We are quite happy to answer for it.

But it is this minister's turn to answer, Mr. Chairman. Now, today, is what we are talking about, not history! What is the policy today? Answer the questions that have been asked. That is all we want from the minister, not to go back with a bunch of rhetoric about what happened ten years ago. If he wants to do that, I am prepared to do it. Let him table the information, all of it, so that we can all look at the circumstances surrounding them. I have already looked at a lot of his projects and said on the surface they may not look viable, they may not look valid, but some of them may well be. There may be circumstances surrounding them. Let him table the information. We will look at all of the circumstances surrounding them. Let him table the information.

But let him answer the questions that we are asking him today about the Estimates we are debating today, Mr. Chairman. That is what we looking for, not to avoid the question. Be honest with the people. Be honest with the House and answer the questions.

Let the record show that the minister refuses to answer the questions, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: I would like to ask the Minister of Development if they would put money into any business outlet in this Province that sells cigarettes, Coke or Pepsi, soft drinks - if Enterprise Newfoundland have funded anyone who does that type of business?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Let me ask the minister if he would confirm that there have been businesses in this Province that have received money, who sell cigarettes and soft drinks.

Mr. Chairman, if the minister is ashamed to -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: You are getting more like the Premier every day.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I sense from the minister's comments that he lacks the courage to stand in this Legislature and tell us if he has used taxpayers' money to put businesses in this Province that sell soft drinks, cigarettes, tobacco and other items, if he has caused them to go into competition with people who have no government money whatsoever. That is the question I want the minister to answer, Mr. Chairman, if he will confirm that there are businesses in this Province that have received money, that sell candy bars, cigarettes and pop, items such as that. Has the minister put taxpayers, money into that type of operation?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, for the record, every single company that the Government of Newfoundland, through its arms-length corporation called Enterprise Newfoundland -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Now I know that is foreign to the hon. the member for Green Bay, the former parliamentary assistant or special assistant, or whatever he was to Premier Peckford. I know that is foreign to him because Premier Peckford had a direct line into NLDC and that made certain ministers angry, like my friend for Mount Pearl. But that is the way the money was dished out in the past. I tell you, we have changed that philosophy and yes, sir, it is arms length.

MR. WINDSOR: You would like it to be. It is not going to go away.


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend from Burin - Placentia West asked a serious question. Now, you know, I can go through every single company, I suppose, and read it into the record for him and we can stop and debate each one, or he can have a look at the list that my hon. friend from Mount Pearl has. I am sure there are situations where small stores and shops in rural areas have been helped by way of small interest loans. Many of them are small loans. Yes, I suppose. I can't confirm that, but if I were a betting man I would say yes, there are probably some of those there. Does the hon. member have a problem with protecting a store in Eagle River where there are no other stores? Does he have a problem with that? Does he have a problem with helping the little storekeeper in Lourdes in the Member for Port au Port's District who has a little restaurant? - and I believe he does have a little bit of a grocery-type thing attached to the restaurant. I mean, I can only tell you that we asked the boards in every region to deal fairly, squarely, and honestly with people.

Four hundred companies, or a little more, received help. Thousands of companies asked, make no mistake about that, but each one has to be dealt with on its own merit. We get some pretty off-the-wall stuff coming in through our doors. We get some pretty good stuff. We get some high-risk stuff. We get some stuff that is really high-risk and you really can't take a chance, but we try our best in the pool of capital available to us in the decision-making in the regions to judge each one on their merits and to deal with them honourably and honestly. We have had a pretty good track record the first year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes. And the other thing we try to do is to have business plans and market analysis and that kind of thing in conjunction, by the way, with ACOA. We try to share and face off against each other on that to help with marketing study and share intelligence about companies and that kind of thing. ACOA aren't saints, Enterprise aren't saints. ACOA isn't perfect, we are not perfect. Previous NLDC wasn't perfect, current ENL isn't perfect. But I tell you, we are making good strides and we are delivering out there. Don't forget, 90 per cent of the people who come in through our doors are seeking advice in one form or another. But we are not perfect and I never, ever said we were.

MR. TOBIN: Didn't you give money for (inaudible) or something?

MR. FUREY: I think we have helped, in some cases, lounges around the Province, yes.

MR. TOBIN: What about the codes you mentioned?

MR. FUREY: I should tell my hon. friend - I don't know if he was in Cabinet, because he was only there for - what? - thirty or sixty days or something like that. I don't know if you were there when NLDC gave money to the bars and restaurants that I have listed here from your previous portfolio.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: But it happened, and you did it.

MR. TOBIN: What about the codes? You mentioned codes.

MR. FUREY: Codes? Well, I mean the only codes here are: How did we help them? Was it established? E-s-t-a-d means established. E-x-p means expansion. M-o-d means modernization. Buy out is a buy out. And S-t-a-b means stabilization. Those codes that go along here, what you have here is the type of loan.

The company, first of all, let's take the first one here in St. John's, Anita Best and Pamela Morgan. They came to us, and I don't know if you know these two musicians but they are pretty brilliant. They were stuck, they had a shortfall of, I think, about $6,000 listed here, to do the $30,000 compact disc. I heard their music on The Journal one night. Just that little story which was triggered from the compact disc in advertising dollars, my friend from Mount Pearl will tell you, would have cost a fortune to get.

MR. TOBIN: What about the codes.

MR. FUREY: Okay, we go along then: The type of loan, small enterprise. That means it was a loan that could have potentially been delivered to them at three points below prime, under that category. Then you go along to the amount, $6,000, the date it was approved, 91-10-07, it tells you exactly when it was approved. The amount approved is again repeated because it shows whether or not it was taken up or how much of it was taken up. In this case the $6,000 was taken up. The branch office: Well, it was head office.

Then it goes right along to talk about the - I think this is what you are referring to, these codes. One is permanent full-time, the next code is permanent seasonal because we do have seasonal jobs that reoccur. The next one is permanent part-time. In other words, the job will always be there for a certain time, but it could be any season. Then the last one is seasonal part-time.

MR. TOBIN: What about -

MR. FUREY: Those are the only codes. There is nothing magic about this.

MR. TOBIN: So what are loans and what are grants?

MR. FUREY: It is all right here. We don't give grants at Enterprise Newfoundland. The closest thing we give to a grant is by way of equity.

MR. TOBIN: Buy downs! Buy downs!

MR. FUREY: We don't give buy downs, except on a small enterprise loan of 3 points below prime.

There are four categories:

The conventional loan, which is at the current rates which, if the rates go way off the wall, we sometimes call all the loans back in and refinance them at lower rates, and we did that just about a year ago.

Then there is the small enterprise loan and that is 3 points below prime for anything under $100,000. It used to be $50,000 under the old ARDA.

Then there is the venture capital and that is mirrored money against a venture capital company for seven years interest free, matched dollar for dollar.

Then there is equity participation where the government comes in and takes a chunk of the company with a clear understanding that it will pull out incrementally and leave it to the private sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: And the conventional term loan, that is right.

So those are the codes. There is nothing magical about it or anything. Those are the programs. We stated right off the bat, when we released our information, that it is open to every Newfoundlander and Labradorian, as it should be. I think it should be anyway.

You know, the fellow who shaves hooves in Cormack, his little company wouldn't have been eligible if we had closed our eyes to the fellow. The Member from Humber Valley tells me it is one of the best things that ever happened out in that area, because before that they used to have to fly a fellow in from Antigonish. From Antigonish, I think the fellow used to come in from, to trim the cows hooves. My friend from Humber Valley told me that if that trimming wasn't done the nails would spread in the cows' feet and, therefore, it caused the milk production to go down by about 15 per cent.

MR. TOBIN: How many jobs did that create?

MR. FUREY: Well, it created one job. It cost us $4,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) cow?

MR. FUREY: I thought I was giving a serious lecture here.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) cows?

MR. FUREY: I only know about cows what my hon. friend from Humber Valley told me, and that is a lot.

So that is where we are and that is what those codes mean.

By the way, if you look over to the branch it tells you exactly which branch, it tells you where in the branch. I would challenge members on the other side - and they know what I am talking about -to stand up and talk about some of the good loans that happened in their own districts. The Member for Green Bay, who shot that verbal spear into my back, should jump up and tell us about what a wonderful job we did helping Superior Logging and the other little companies in his district.

By the way, let me ask some of the hon. members over there - let us see. What seats are left over there in the Tory camp? Burin - Placentia West ought to know that in the last three months three loans were approved down there - three; one in Boat Harbour for $12,000. He has the list. He should have a look at it. One in Marystown for $75,000 and another one in Marystown for $26,000; that is $115,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: He has the list. I do not have them here. I would have to look them up. Do you want me to look them up for you? Kevin, maybe can look them up while I am finishing my speech here.

Look at Conception Bay South. My friend from Avondale, is that his seat, Conception Bay South?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Pat Cowan.

MR. FUREY: But part of it runs into his, does it not?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Eagle River. What a load of money went up to Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Every bit of it deserved, and very appreciated.

MR. FUREY: Fogo. Where is my man from Fogo? There he is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No. They are only small loans, but the point is, they came in and got them.

Carmanville, $2,930; Clarke's Head, $5,000; Fogo itself, $5,400; Fogo again, $14,000; Man of War Cove, $13,000; Musgrave Harbour, $2,500; and on and on it goes. Grand Falls, $60,000 for three little companies; Green Bay, $231,000; Little Bay Islands, $28,000; Harbour Main, $309,000. Harbour Main got a lot of dough there. Humber East, $200,000; Humber Valley, $917,782 to help twenty-two companies.

Stand up and tell us about this good help to these companies. Criticize us, but tell us when we are doing something right, too. A lot of these companies got a lot of help.

Menihek, $620,000 for ten companies up in Labrador West, (inaudible) the best Minister of Education this Province has ever seen, I will tell you that - the best Minister of Education this Province has every seen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: I must say, his predecessor was not half bad. He tried hard; but his predecessor's predecessor was useless. Hopeless. Nobody knew who the Minister of Education was.

My friend from Mount Pearl, I will repeat for him again, $2,010,279 to help fourteen companies in Mount Pearl - good companies too, decent companies that are running into little bits of trouble and need some help. So you cannot criticize that $2 million in Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Yes I did. It does not make it right because it is in Mount Pearl.

MR. FUREY: Would you like it all taken back from those companies in Mount Pearl?

MR. WINDSOR: I want you to treat everybody equally.

MR. FUREY: We are treating them equally. So we should not put so much in Mount Pearl?

MR. WINDSOR: Do not discriminate against companies.

MR. FUREY: Take half of it back from Mount Pearl?

MR. WINDSOR: Treat them equally. Do not turn down some (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Mount Scio - Bell Island -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: By the way, the lists you have, I should tell you, are only the lists that my friend the Member for Mount Pearl asked for in estimates. I have a huge book of them that I brought the other day and I meant to table. I did not table it, and I apologize.

I will tell you what I will do -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) three projects are not in this one (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes, I know. Those are the ones that the Member for Mount Pearl specifically... I think there are about seventy companies there that he marked one night in yellow during estimates. He asked for them, so I sent them to look for those right away while they were compiling the regional background notes and stuff.

I will tell you what I will do, if you want, for the hon. House Leader, I will send the whole book of approvals to you. Rather than me get them to xerox it all, you can have it for reference for your members, okay? I will send that across to you.

Menihek did very well. Mount Scio - Bell Island was pretty good too. By the way, there were some great projects in Mount Scio - Bell Island. I repeat it again. Perhaps you can get up and talk specifically about some of those, but the mural project for example, what a brilliant project that was. The conversion of the old convent - the Sisters of Mercy Convent. Our injection of equity went in there to convert that to a bed and breakfast. That is going to draw tourists to your Island. Those tourists are going to leave money. They are going to need gas. They are going to eat.


MR. FUREY: Jobs. The bakery, through our co-operative program, we helped on Bell Island. My God, this government has done a lot of good work through Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, on Bell Island.

My friend from Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir can get up and list off projects that we have helped through Enterprise Newfoundland. My friend from Lewisporte, although he might have an argument on one or two -

MR. TOBIN: How about (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Oh, you were going to ask me about Marystown.

MR. K. AYLWARD: It is not here, there is only one there for Marystown, the other two must not be here, it must be somewhere else.

MR. FUREY: Where is it?

MR. K. AYLWARD: Right here, that is Eastern right here you see, Eastern (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Where is Marystown?

MR. K. AYLWARD: Here is the one for Marystown. There is one there, outlined, underlined.

MR. FUREY: Marystown, the one that I have here is Shea - Elizabeth, and Lane - Wanda. That is the one that my friend from Mount Pearl is attacking, that we helped, that was an established business and I -do we have the amount there?

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, $26,000.

MR. FUREY: - $26,000 and it was a conventional loan at current rates; that is Marystown.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $75,000.

MR. FUREY: No, that is on a separate list. This one is the calendar year; the one I quoted you from was the fiscal year which would carry an extra three months, do you follow what I am saying?


MR. FUREY: I gave you January 1 to December 31, here. What I was quoting from was the extra three months in the fiscal year, January 1, 1992 to March 31, and in there, there are three more loans. I will get them for you.

MR. TOBIN: Would you (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I will try, but you know, I tell the hon. member, just pick up the phone and call the - I would just mention this to the hon. member, pick up the phone and call the vice-president at Clarenville, the head office, they will give it to you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, they will. I have told them - anyway, the bottom line is that we have laid all this information on the table. I hope my good friend from Harbour Main will stand up and defend me now and talk about the $500,000 that went to eight little companies in his district to help stabilize them or buy outs or expansion.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I just have to make sure. Furey, Furey -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Who are these Fureys, anyway?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that masked man?

MR. FUREY: That is right. The Fureys were they - wasn't that Greek mythology where the fureys would have to come in as justices to fix the imbalances that were created? That is right, Greek mythology. Harbour Main, anyway, sorry I said $500,000, it is $309,000 and nine little companies helped, and I can read them out for you, who they are and stuff, would you like me to do that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes, because I am going to send the whole catalogue of companies, so I thank hon. members for their patience and if there are any further questions I would be happy to answer them.

On motion, Executive Council, total heads, carried.

MR. BAKER: We also do the Consolidated Fund Services, Public Service Commission and the Legislature.

On motion, Consolidated Fund Services, total heads, carried.

On motion, Legislature, total heads, carried.

On motion, Public Service Commission, total heads, carried.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman, I would like to move to Order 2, Committee of the Whole on a Bill, "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Election Financing." Bill No. 1.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, 2, Bill No. 1.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is the Committee stage of the new Elections Act. In the process we had the Committee on Privileges and Elections that looked at the new act and suggested a number of changes. We have already completed second reading, which is agreement in principle, and received the assent of the House in terms of agreement in principle. However, in terms of the detail, I have already given the Opposition a copy of the amendments that we are now proposing to the Elections Act in this Committee stage. If Your Honour does not have a copy I could provide him with one or provide the Table with a couple of copies of the proposed amendments to the Elections Act.

Essentially what we did was accepted the recommendations of the Committee with some notable exceptions - with one notable exception. You will find that some of the Committee's suggestions were accepted but were not included as amendments because the changes had already been made in the Bill and the Bill already reflected the will of the Committee. However, we did recommend... let's see.... Thirteen changes as recommended by the Committee, and we have added one new change which I will get to in a moment.

The key issue dealt with by the Committee is not dealt with in these amendments. That key issue has to do with the concept of proxy vote, as compared with the concept of a special ballot. As Your Honour knows the Bill itself makes allowances for a proxy vote. Where an individual, for some reason or another, cannot make it to the polls to vote - either through absence from the district or whatever other cause - that that individual can apply and receive authorization to have somebody else vote in that person's place in the poll on election day. That process is known as proxy voting and is the one that is being suggested by the Bill.

The Committee looked at this and it seems to me, for the reason that a proxy vote.... In a proxy vote the confidentiality and secrecy of the ballot is not maintained. I think this is the main problem that the Committee had with the idea of proxy voting. That the secrecy and the confidentiality is not maintained, because somebody else is voting for an individual. They tried to find a way around it. They suggested the special ballot.

Now, it is government's position that the special ballot has merit. It is not included here simply because we believe that more time is needed to examine the implications of the special ballot; to see whether it is possible to do; to see whether you should have a combination of special ballot and proxy; to see whether there are instances where special ballots do not work and you need to have a proxy vote, and so on. So we feel that there is more study needed in this issue, and we are quite willing to, for instance, say to the Committee: go back and have a more in-depth look at it, and come back in the fall with a recommendation with regards to the special ballot versus proxy - whether one or the other, or a combination of both.

So what we as government would suggest is that we would say to the Committee: go and have a more detailed look at this special ballot. I understand they are going through the process in Ottawa now, considering the special ballot. I think they have run into some difficulties with it, and there are some concerns. I think members should realise that it is not really as simple as it looks on the surface, or that's my understanding, so I prefer to see some further study done on the special ballot concept before we actually make it part of the bill.

If it is looked into in detail, then I would not be opposed to having a further amendment done in the Fall to take into account the proxy vote, the special ballot, or whatever, so that concept is not included in here. There are also a couple of other recommendations of the committee where they recommended that we look into certain issues. I agree that these are issues that we should perhaps have a further look at. One of the things had to do with handicapped access and I agree that perhaps a little further work has to be done on that. The other issue generally had to do with nomination meetings, party leaderships and so on, as to whether that should be included in the Elections Act. Mr. Chairman, it is my personal opinion that some of these things are solely party matters and should be dealt with by the party rather than the government but I am willing to listen to the counterarguments to see what if any of these things that have been identified by the committee should in fact be included in the Elections Act.

Mr. Chairman, I am sure there will be farther comment in the next while on the amendments. I would suggest that the amendments as tabled, and as the Opposition has a copy of, perhaps could be dealt with as a whole. The committee recommended these, we agree with them and they could easily be done, that they be dealt with as a whole. The one exception is Number 10, at the bottom of the page of amendments in Committee of the Whole House, Bill 1 is further amended by adding immediately after Clause 217 the following. Now, there is a full page here that deals with referenda or plebiscites on a question relating to the Constitution of Canada or relating to or arising out of possible change to the Constitution of Canada, so there is a change or an addition that we are recommending to the Elections Act to handle this concept of a plebiscite and to make it part of the Elections Act and to put the expenses under the control of the Elections Act and so on. Mr. Chairman, this is the one addition we are suggesting that was not dealt with by the committee.

That is all I have to say on it now. I am sure some members of the committee will want to deal with it in a little more detail

and I could respond at any point in time.

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

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

At the outset I do want to say that we on this side of the House, at least this side of this side of the House, agree with this Bill and we agree with most of the amendments. A lot of them are pretty well just detail or rewording so we agree with most of that. We think the legislation is needed and it is good legislation theoretically. What we found in our committee hearings, in particular on the points that the President of Treasury Board mentioned, in our committee hearings we found absolutely no support for proxy voting, absolutely no support. It just was not acceptable to anyone who came before us who mentioned it, who gave it some thought. The main reason, I guess, would be privacy. That was certainly the main concern but there were groups who came before us such as the Federation of Students, and it was suggested to them that the proxy vote might be used for students who are here at the university and wanted to vote back in their district. That was completely unacceptable to them. They did not want anything to do with that. They were quite satisfied with the special polls and I did make a commitment to them. The committee did not make the commitment but I certainly did make a commitment to them that if the special polls are not left in place that I would - at the time I suggested that I would write a minority report to our committee. But while we were meeting, and we did make every effort in our committee to come up with a unanimous report, there was no confrontation on the committee, not very much, just some political wrangling every now and then, but we did make a conscious effort to come up with a unanimous report. We worked hard at it. The difference being that some people said the proxy vote was okay and some - me in particular - did not agree with the proxy vote, especially how it affected the students. Large construction sites would be another area that a special poll could be used in.

So I did suggest that I do a minority report, but during our considerations the Member for Pleasantville I believe was probably the first to mention it. We thought about this special ballot. That in itself could have accommodated students. It could accommodate the large construction sites if necessary. Both, say, Bull Arm and Hibernia, out on the rigs, if they are pumping oil at the time of an election. I figured that this was a reasonable compromise. This would have alleviated the students' concerns somewhat. Not perfect. They seemed to be fairly satisfied with the special poll arrangement. They also had a concern about whether you could vote in the place where you lived, in that poll where you lived, or you had to vote back home. But I think that concern is no longer legitimate, because they can vote in the place where they live if they want to. If they have been going to University for four or five years and they have lived on Pleasant Street, St. John's South or Centre, or whatever that is in, they could vote there. It might be more realistic because they would be more in tune with the issues of that area of Newfoundland, sometimes, rather than their own home.

Mr. Chairman, I am still concerned about the government's intention not to put in the special ballot in our new Elections Act. I know you are suggesting that we do some more study on it. I cannot disagree with more study on anything, although it could be interpreted as a put off. 'We'll put that off for now and sometime in the future maybe,' and we will never hear tell of it again. To do that it will be my intention, as we are going through this Act, if government does not change its mind on this special ballot, to move a further amendment to the Act to bring back the special poll that might or might not be in place. I will make that motion to just leave it in place until the special ballot is put there.

I know the reasons why, and we had a brief from the former chief electoral officer, that the special polls were very inconvenient for the returning officers. Now the returning officers, as good as they are, are not the ones we are trying to accommodate in my mind in the new Elections Act. The voters are the ones who we should be accommodating. It has always been my philosophy that the easier it can be for a person to vote, that is the way we should do it. The more convenient it is to vote, that is the way it should be. There are many circumstances, apart from the average voter who can walk into a polling station between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and cast his or her ballot, and walk off. There are many other circumstances to be considered during that twelve-hour time, or before or after that, for people who do not find it that convenient.

The special polls alleviated a certain part of that. I at one time, in the 1972 election, probably, I was working in Robinsons at the time, out in the west coast area. I was very determined to vote that day. We spent twelve hours in the woods, all day, surveying some mining leases for Hooker Chemical, I think it was called. Salt mines were supposed to be developed out there sometime.

AN HON. MEMBER: They drilled for them, I believe.

MR. R. AYLWARD: They drilled for them, yes. They found salt. But it wasn't economical. Anyway, election day came and I was determined to vote. So after we got back to the boarding house after a good long day's work, I only had an hour and a half to get to the polling station. So by the time I got washed up and took off for Stephenville like a bullet and ran out of gas a mile away from the polling station and got to the polling station five minutes after it closed, I wasn't too pleased that I could not vote. But it wasn't the fault of I didn't have the opportunity. Because had I been ten minutes earlier I would have had the opportunity.

Mr. Chairman, had I not had that opportunity of going to Stephenville I don't -

MR. MATTHEWS: You wouldn't have gone out of gas.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - there would have been no - I would not have had to go looking for gas, yes. But there would not have been a legitimate opportunity for me to vote. A proxy vote is not acceptable to me. I do not agree with it, I do not think it is possible. I suppose there are lots of people back in my district who I could get to vote for me, and they could probably guess how I was going to vote. I do not think that might have been a secret at the time, but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: That was in the 1971, 1972 time. At that time, like many of the members across there probably at the time, or some of the young members - there are not many of them there my age; some of them are older and some of them are younger - I was one of the anti-(inaudible). 'It is time to replace the government' was my philosophy at the time, and there were many like us.

We wanted, at the time, to have a real change, and we did get a change eventually. In that 1971 election I was going to vote - ironically as it worked out, I would have had to vote that time for a Mr. Hugh Shea who happened to win the seat in 1971. I was almost pleased, two or three months after the election, that that polling station was closed, because I was somewhat upset with what Mr. Hugh Shea did in the meantime. I am quite delighted now with what he did, because had he not done it I would not be here, most likely. He would probably still be here, because he was quite a politician. He was a good orator. He could stir people up. He got a lot of people to vote for him in that district, and not a big lot of people in Kilbride at the time knew him, although he had a store there. He had a store at the time. I was glad that he eventually - I was not glad at the time, but right now I suppose it all worked out to the better that he did not stay where he was.

Still, the point is that I had an opportunity to go to Stephenville and vote. As expensive as that might have been on the whole system, it was an opportunity for somebody who was away from their home, and even with a proxy vote I do not think I would have - I am not sure of the details of the proxy vote now, because after we decided that we did not support it, I sort of gave up on remembering what the details of it were - but had I tried to vote by proxy, working out in Robinsons, I would have to have written the returning officer in the district and tried to get a ballot sent out to me, or tried to get somebody sworn in who would vote for me, and they take the ballot. Somebody would take the ballot. I am not... Anyway, it would have been a bit confusing. I would not have had as much of an opportunity, we will put it that way, to vote in that election as I would with a special poll.

I do not disagree with studying this further. I must say, I do not completely disagree with that. I partly do, because this thing has been studied in quite a bit of detail by The Federal Task Force on Electoral Reform. They have made their recommendations. The task force themselves, the ones who studied it the same as, I guess, close to what our committee would have done, did the study. They made the recommendations. Now it is in the political realm, or the government realm, I guess, again whether they are going to accept it or not.

This amendment that I did prepare is based pretty well word-for-word, and there are probably a few words in here that would have to come out, because it refers to the Canadian Armed Forces personnel and the like. This amendment that I would propose spells out fairly clearly what is required by the federal proposal.

I think, and I believe that if we made the amendment in our act, and put that special ballot in our act, the details then should be worked out by the chief electoral officer or whoever is going to have to administrate this.

We can go back to the committee again and work on some more study and make some more recommendations, but still the final implementation of this, and the final recommendations, or how practical this is going to be, will have to be worked out by the chief electoral officer and his staff.

If we make the amendment now, and let him go to work, we are telling that chief electoral officer that we want this. We want this special ballot -

AN HON. MEMBER: Mail in.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, this special ballot put into our act. Then he/she can work out the details.

Now if philosophically we do not want this, if we do not want a special ballot put in our Elections Act, well that is something else. If this House agrees that we do not want it at this time, or we don't want it ever, I suppose, if we decide on that, that is another thing. It would be my argument that if we agree with the special ballot and we could make an amendment which would suit that special ballot in our act now, the chief electoral officer can immediately start to work to implement this. That person or that office can work out the details, and I believe that is the way it should go rather than have us go back and do another study and we will make a report again next year in the legislature maybe by the fall if we could get the details.

One of the reasons we didn't do that is because the next phase of studying that, we considered at the time that we would have to either meet with the federal task force who have done the studies, that would cost money. Either get them down to Newfoundland or some of us would go see them. That was unnecessary because the electoral officer is going to have to do that again when we are finished. Whoever is going to implement this is still going to have to meet with some people who are operating this.

Another thing is we figured it couldn't be overly complicated because a procedure similar to this is used in Saskatchewan presently. That was what was reported to our committee, that Saskatchewan has a similar system in place now. So if it is working, someone might want to phone Saskatchewan and see if it does work suitably. They had it in their last election. Somebody might want to do that and see if this provision works or had worked in their last election. It can't be overly complicated. It can't be that hard to do if Saskatchewan is doing it.

The federal task force have studied it, and our electoral office will have to implement this so they should work on the details. That is why I would suggest that we should now - while we are doing this act so it will not be delayed any further - implement this special ballot. Put the proper amendment in our act now to have a special ballot included in our next election process. There are many changes. It is just as well to do them all in one sweep. It is going to be tough the next election for district associations and other people to try to keep track of this new act because it is new, not because it is overly complicated, but just because it is new and there are going to be a lot of volunteers involved. If we are going to do it, it is just as well to do a good job of it now.

The government, by suggesting that we should study it further for more details, seems to be convinced that this is probably a way we could go. I don't think there is any great disagreement on that. The disagreement is whether the committee should study it further and make another recommendation, or my suggestion is that we put the amendment in now and have the electoral office do the detail work which seems to me they are going to have to do it anyway, so I don't know why the committee would study it further unless there would be some thought that the committee might come back and rule against it completely. That could possibly be, but right now the federal task force who have been working and doing some detail work for the federal elections act have recommended against proxy votes, they have made that decision.

Proxy votes are not acceptable. Those are the conclusions they came to at the time. So it doesn't make sense to me that we would be bringing into our brand new act a proxy vote which we never had before, and people who were doing some studies in this general area now have already recommended against because of complications because of privacy or for whatever reasons. It doesn't seem to me that it would make sense for us to put in a proxy vote in our Elections Act now.

A proxy vote could be left in there. I am not saying that should be taken out completely. Maybe there are people who would like to vote by proxy. That is quite acceptable to me. A special ballot will take care of the proxy vote, it will take care of the student, in particular, living out of their district, it could take care of Newfoundlanders going to university or have some type of arrangements, a government exchange program in Ottawa, it could take of those people who could vote home in their districts, it could take care of large construction sites without the great expense of special polls. It could take care of a site such as Hibernia. If there happened to be a group of people working out on the Grand Banks on the day of election pumping oil or drilling for oil, whatever, they could have their special ballot look after their needs.

So I would say that because of the information that is already available on the special ballot, and because of the federal task force's conclusions that proxy ballots or proxy voting is on its way out, and this new special ballot should be on its way in, in a modern act. And because of presentations made to our Committee, and made fairly forcefully, and particularly by the Federation of Students Union, that if we cannot keep those special polls I would think, and I would like to hear - I hope the Chairperson of the Committee will be making -

MR. MATTHEWS: Not allowed up.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, I am sure he will be up. Whether he is allowed or not he will make his views known.

MR. MATTHEWS: Not allowed up, boy.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I think he would agree with what I am saying.

MR. MATTHEWS: He's muzzled!

MR. R. AYLWARD: That if the special ballot could be put in place, the special poll, I think the students would agree that special polls would be left out. That was the understanding I had. I still believe that refers to remote sites. Remote construction sites, woods camps. That can solve a lot of problems. It can give the same result as our special polls now at about half the cost, I would say. It is not nearly as costly as the special ballots.

So, Mr. Chairman, these will be comments. When we go through the Act I will be making the amendments. Either an amendment to put in the special ballot, which I have shown the member opposite already. If that cannot fly I will also be making an amendment to bring back special polling stations for areas such as large concentrations of Newfoundlanders who happen to be, on election day, living outside of their district. That would include more than just the University, but it would include - and even if details, again the electoral offices could work on details, we can give them permission to say that you have to have at least a concentration of 500 people living in - from different districts. I do not know what the numbers would be.

You do not have to have special ballots everywhere. You would not have to have that ballot in Stephenville like I used before. Not necessary. If the reason we are doing this, if the reason we are dropping special polling stations is expense, and administrative headaches, which is what I understand we are doing it for, the special polling stations were very expensive and very hard to keep the security in place. That is what the former chief electoral officer told us anyway.

So, Mr. Chairman, I think our special poll - now I have - I do not know, what way do we work this Committee? Do we get up ten and ten? Or thirty minutes and finish it up or make decisions? I do not know what....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Ten and ten?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, I know, I have gone long way past that ten. That's why I figured I had thirty minutes and that was the end of it. I do not know.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Okay. Anyway then, the next time I get up, when we get off of this, or get beyond this, I do have some comments on this referendum part of our Act, this referendum amendment that I think there are some problems that I would have. Certainly there are problems that I would have with the amendment as proposed now, and probably some of our other members will have some more discussions on that.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman, just for one minute. I just want to comment a little further on the special ballot and the proxy vote. It is not acceptable that we simply put into this Bill that we are going to have a special ballot and leave it to the returning officer to work it out. That is not acceptable. What we have to put in this Act are the details of how it works. Because if we do it that way we are liable to end up with some kind of a creature that we want to disown sometime in the future. So we have to specify exactly how it is done in the Act. So when something is worked out I envision that it will be a detailed proposal, it will be a lot of detail in terms of how it works.

The proposed amendment that the Member for Kilbride refers to is such a detailed proposal and once it is made I will discuss it further but I do not think it would suit our circumstances and I have some questions about it which I do not know the answers to. Very simply, Mr. Chairman, I agree with the concept of special ballots. I think there has to be some better way than the proxy, however, I am concerned that we have not done adequate studies to see whether if we put both of them in there, the possibility of both of them, the details of how the special ballot works have to be included and I have not seen that yet and I have not seen something that I believe is acceptable to me or I have not examined it, and that is why I was suggesting that the committee take some more time and in the fall, come back with a detailed proposal as to exactly how this would be worded in The New Elections Act.

I had a choice to make when the committee report came in; either to put off until the fall putting the Elections Act through the House, which would give the time to do the proper study, or, to pass the Elections Act now, and the reason I decided I would prefer to pass the Elections Act now, is so that we can put our returning officer in place so that returning officer will know then what the parameters are under which he or she will have to operate and can set up a system and would have a number of months so that in the fall, hopefully, sometime the system would be in place and we could proclaim the new act. In the interim we would be operating under the old act, so that is how I envisioned it happening and why I wanted it to go through now and why I feel quite confident in saying that, whereas we support the concept of a special ballot, I want to see more work done on it.

I would like to point out to the member opposite, that there is no way that this issue can be sloughed off by doing this. As the hon. member knows, when you have a committee, the chairman is the Member for Eagle River, the Member for Pleasantville is on the committee, the Member for Kilbride is on the committee, and as a committee of the House, that there is no way that is going to be sloughed under the carpet and that the committee will do its job properly and will report back to the House, as the committee should, so there is no way to slough this thing off and it is not the intention of government to kind of just hide this issue and hope it goes away.

We would prefer to see it dealt with properly and that is the reason we are taking the position we are taking. However, I would be interested when we get to the point where the hon. member moves the amendment that we could discuss this proposal in detail and perhaps, at that point in time, we could point out some unresolved problems with his proposed amendment that might need further study. So, Mr. Chairman, I did not formally move, but I would like to formally move that these amendments be made to the act and copies have already been provided to the table.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: All of them. There are fourteen?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) including ten.

MR. BAKER: Yes, including ten. We do not have to deal with them all in a group. We could deal with all of them as a group with the exception of ten and debate that, but that was the next question and I was wondering if we could deal with the ones that came from the committee as a group and do the vote on those as a group, then deal with the hon. member's amendment he intends to make, as well as number ten on this sheet.

MR. FUREY: The only problem is with ten.


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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, just for the Government House Leader, my only concern is amendment ten, that is the only one I have concerns about. From what the Government House Leader said about the amendment for the special poll, or special ballot, I mean it is hard to argue against it, except that I believe that it has been studied quite adequately by this federal task force. All we are going to do is get their information, look at it and give you a recommendation, the chief electoral officer could do the same thing.

If we say we have an amendment to say we want it in there and we want it to work, that would be enough. But anyway, if the Government House Leader has his mind made up that it is going to go back to the committee and the committee will study it, I would ask the Government House Leader, would he consider, in case, or, before the act is amended again, in case in the fall, we do not get our report or we do not get the Act amended because the House is closed or an election comes in between, for the sake of those people who came before our Committee and made presentations, particularly the Federation of Students, would he consider leaving in this new Act the special poll?

Then, when the special ballot is taken care of, and it will be an incentive for us as members, and for government itself, to get rid of the special poll, because we know we want that out, and bring in this. Give a little incentive to get this special ballot done in a hurry before the next election. But just in case there is an election before we finish up on this special ballot, could we not keep the special poll provision in our new Act that we are bringing in, with the provision that when the special ballot comes that special poll goes out? That is all I ask.

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

MR. BAKER: I think that is automatic, Mr. Chairman, simply because this Act will not be proclaimed. If there is a quick election in the fall it will be under the old conditions, old Act, rather than the new Act. So it is going to take some time for the electoral officer to get things in place for this one. So if there is an election before then, obviously it will be under the old act which has the special polls in it.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) that it might not be proclaimed is not good news, because I think this is good legislation. We should proclaim it as fast as we can. I do not say we should go through another election under the old Act. I do not advocate that. This is new and it is tough to get used to and everything else, but it is good legislation. I think we should try to get it passed as fast as we can.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, well, I would imagine it might be more costly to implement, but I am not sure that it would be any more than a regular election.

MR. MATTHEWS: If you want to do it. If you don't, say you don't want to do it!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, if you do not want it done, say so, and we will have an election. The next crowd comes in here will have a look at this Act and pass it again. We said we were going to do it for twelve years and we never did it, for some of the same reasons, by the way.

Mr. Chairman, I don't agree with putting it off and having an election under the old Act. I just want to say that. I think it would be a reasonable compromise, whether it is proclaimed or not. It would be a reasonable compromise. If we do not do the special ballot provision we leave in the special poll provision, in case this is proclaimed before the next election, and there is no provision then for any special poll for any people, for anywhere around. So I say that would act as an incentive. By putting that in there it would act as an incentive for government, Opposition, for the Committee, and everyone else, to get the work done quickly and efficiently and get on with the business. That is all I have to say, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to say a few words on this Act. In particular to indicate that I, as Chairman of the Committee - and I am sure I can also speak for other members of the Committee - we thought a fair bit about some of the amendments that could be forthcoming to this Elections Act. It is a very significant piece of legislation. The first time since 1949 that such a comprehensive overhaul of the Elections Act has been undertaken in this Province.

I do not know if all hon. members have read this Act and absorbed the kind of changes that are in this Act. I am sure the same for the other members on the Committee, but as one of the people who went through this Act, had submissions on it and got different advice on it, we are talking about a very significant change in how elections are going to be run in this Province for some time to come, when this Elections Act is made law.

We are going to see a formalized process where district associations are going to have to become legal entities. Only district associations then will have the right to nominate chief financial officers. Each district association will have to be audited annually. The provincial Liberal and Conservative parties, and any provincial parties, will have to go through an annual audit. So outside of the chief financial officer there will have to be an auditor appointed. There will have to be due acknowledgement of any funds received by the district association or the provincial party for tax credits. That would all have to be substantiated, and certainly from an elections point of view hon. members will have to know what the eligible expenses are, what the limits are.

For the first time in our history we are going to have a spending limit on the elections process, the twenty-eight days that it will take under the new Act will have to be done in every district at a level of three times the number of voters to a maximum of $20,000 and at a minimum of $9,000. It is $9,000 or $8,000. I am not sure. Certainly, Mr. Chairman, what we are going to see put in place here is a very structured, and I would say, stringent regime over how a member operates from the time that they are nominated until the election writ is called.

Certainly, Mr. Chairman, there are going to be significant penalties involved in breach of the act to the point that a member can certainly have his election overturned and have his seat unoccupied in this House if, in fact, there are going to be breaches of this law. It is not something to be taken lightly, and I would hope if there is one thing that hon members should do is to pay particular attention to some of these technicalities because they are very much going to be the order of the day. It is not a party constitution that we are talking about. We are talking about the law of the Province and one that all hon. members will be duly expected to abide by. Ignorance of the law will be no excuse.

Mr. Chairman, one of the things that I would also like to say to the hon. Member for Kilbride and to the government is that I share the hon. member's view that the proxy vote, as it is proposed, in my view will not further the democratic process in this Province. I think that the proxy vote, we have to put it in perspective compared to the federal organization. What we have federally, for instance, in this Province is seven federal ridings, so the chances of having to use the proxy vote in any kind of significant way to go through the process of having to get letters of authorization, for instance, from any of the seven federal ridings, there are not going to be that many. They didn't do it in many cases because, you know, when you are dealing with 75,000 voters, then you may have a tendency to ignore maybe twenty or thirty that might be at a camp somewhere or on a small campus, or something like that. What we are going to have in this Province now is fifty-two ridings where many ridings are decided on a few votes.

On every occasion in every district in every election, both major parties in particular, pay particular attention to the student vote. Everybody realizes that hon. members have made it or not made it on the basis of the student vote. The Leader of the Opposition is the prime example of having gone to bed on election night and woke up with the poll from the university the next morning and he happened to be a member of the House again by fifty-two votes or something.

AN HON. MEMBER: Forty-two.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Forty-two or forty-one votes. That, Mr. Chairman, is an example of the voting power and the significance that it would have for the students of the Province. Apart from the fundamental right of confidentiality, which all people in this Province and indeed in the country have claim to, everybody has the right to confidentiality. However, in extenuating circumstances I guess everybody is prepared to try and do whatever is reasonable to protect that right. But, Mr. Chairman, there are times when that, of course, cannot be accommodated and people can understand that we don't take it to the ultimate extreme. Apart from the lack of confidentiality that the proxy would carry, the administration of it, as I said, with the fifty-two districts - I will just give you an example. Say if we had the election called in a weeks time with the proxy vote as it was, and say that you have 3,500 students at memorial from outside the St. John's area, which is not an unreasonable number of students to have from outside St. John's - I would suspect there are probably even more. If you take the number 3,500 which would give you probably about the same number that would vote within the city limits for people in here. What is required then, is that the particular student would have to communicate with the friend, parent, or whoever is going to do the proxy vote for them back in their own riding. Now, that communication would have to be made to the person in the riding, the same communication would have to be made to the deputy returning officer in the riding and that deputy returning officer would then have to ask the student for an appropriate documentation of, first of all, admission. You would have to go to the registrar's office and provide your documentation that you are, indeed, a student of Memorial University or the Cabot Institute and then you would take that and provide also some documentation on where you actually live by virtue of some type of mail or provide some authenticity for your mailing address.

So, Mr. Chairman, what you are going to be possibly struck with is about 3500 students having to either make the decision that they can only vote in the area where they reside or they will not have the option, as far as they are concerned, and I can concur with where they are coming from. I have not been out of university that long myself, and I would have liked to, when I was there, vote for the person in my own riding whenever I could.

Mr. Chairman, I think it is only fair to give people that opportunity to vote. You can see the registrar's office being inundated with requests for written letters. It is not the same as a telephone call or anything like that. You are going to have to get written documentation that, yes, student number 7665110 is a student here and has been here September. He intends to come back or something to that effect, and that has to be communicated back to the deputy returning officer at the local level, who then has to take that, along with the signature of the student, to the person who is going to be actually executing the vote.

Mr. Chairman, you can see from that example that it could be very chaotic trying to get that process to work. And what we don't want to do - I mean, the committee was unanimous in this, the committee wanted to make sure that we sent a signal and provided a mechanism to allow everybody to vote, as far as was possible. In particular, I am very happy to see that government accepted a number of the recommendations related to the disabled community, the use of templates and other things, that would make it more conducive to voting.

The other aspect of it, Mr. Chairman - I think I will have to be fair with the Government House Leader, as well, and say to him that from the Committee's point of view, one of the things in which we were probably remiss was we did not detail the proposal on the special ballot. We outlined the rationale for it and why it should be there. I remember the debate in the Committee to the effect of whether we would detail the proposal or whether we would ask for a general acceptance of the principle and let somebody else work out the details. Well, obviously, the government is within their right and I think it is only fair for the Committee to recognize that the government was only presented with the request for the general inclusion of the concept rather than the breakdown of how the special ballot would work. I think it would be reasonable for us to go back and detail the full mechanism.

If I could just take a minute, Mr. Chairman, to relate my concept or my understanding, certainly, the same understanding that has come out in the Royal Commission Report. I don't know how long I have.

For all hon. members, here is what we were talking about for the special ballot. First of all, if you couldn't vote on election day, let me give you, as I see it, what could work well and give everybody, first, the confidentiality to vote. It would also give them the access to vote in their own ridings or at a special site. The ballot box could be taken out of there. Essentially, what would happen is that every district polling station would be given a certain number of special ballots, and that special ballot would be a blank ballot. You would have three envelopes. The first envelope would signify that this is a special ballot. The second, you open that envelope, take out the special ballot and there would be another envelope. The special ballot, you would write on it, for example, Danny Dumaresque, Eagle River.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: This is what would be written on a number of them, I know, but you would take that and put that inside that second envelope. On the outside of that envelope you would write on it, Eagle River district. Then you would take that envelope, put it into the third envelope, which would be a self-addressed envelope to the Chief Electoral Officer.

In each of those district returning offices there would be a ballot box, and all of these envelopes of special ballots would be put into that ballot box. Before the final ballots were counted on election night, all of these would be delivered to the Chief Electoral Office. They would then be counted, as the other ballots would be in an advance poll or any other location, by the Chief Electoral Office. He would have his fifty-two district boxes set up, the special ballots would be opened and they would be all counted on that basis.

I think that can work. There was some debate on whether you would allow the special ballot to be executed on the actual voting day. There was some concern about that because of different areas of the Province where you may not be able to get the actual ballot box back to the Chief Electoral Office in time for a full counting on election day. There was some concern about that.

I don't see that as a problem, certainly, for a great number of the ridings in the Province, but there might be a case to be made, for instance, in Labrador or some of the South Coast communities where the special ballot could only be used maybe on the advance poll day, or something along those lines.

I believe that what the Committee deliberated on, and concurred with, was responsible action and a proposal to accommodate a very real concern, which was that everybody should have the right to vote through the most confidential means possible. At the same time, we recognize that what we will have is fifty-two ridings, instead of the seven ridings we have here, in the federal situation. I think that for cost purposes, again, it would be very cost-efficient. There would be hardly any cost at all involved other than the printing of the envelopes, and that would be just a marginal cost compared to the overall cost of running a campaign, and certainly very, very much less than would be needed for the special polls which would have to be manned and staffed. As the former Chief Electoral Officer said to us, it was just a nightmare and a very costly exercise.

I just want to make those comments. I am happy that the government concurred with some fifteen of our recommendations. Six or seven of the recommendations that we made were already incorporated in the last draft of the Act. I think, of all the recommendations we made, there were only five or six that were not accepted. I think that bides well for the Committee. I would like to thank the hon. members who sat on that Committee and deliberated with me to bring in a unanimous report.

I am encouraged by the comments that the President of Treasury Board has made on behalf of the government, because I do sense and I do know that the government is certainly not abandoning the principle. As a matter of fact, I think it has come as close as it can, with the limited information that it had before them, to endorsing the principle of the special ballot. I, for one, as Chairman of the Committee, would be only too happy to undertake that extra research, and have a comprehensive and clear proposal to make to the government at the earliest possible opportunity. Hopefully, then, we could see a speedy exercise and amendment to the Act and any other concerns that people may have certainly would be clarified at that time.

So, I would encourage hon. members, in conclusion, to think through the overall act, to try and get it in perspective and to try to set some things up with respect to moving some of the legal means to establish your district associations, set up your various accounts and to acknowledge what is right and wrong as far as expenses are concerned because, believe me, there are going to be significant changes that no hon. member wants to be found ignorant of and having to answer any unusual questions after voting day, next election.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) loopholes.

MR. DUMARESQUE: There aren't many loopholes to be found as far as we can see right now. In conclusion. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for your patience and I would hope that we can see this process finalized as soon as possible.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a very few words. It is not often that I stand in the House in agreement with the Member for Eagle River, but, Mr. Chairman, I will say for those members who don't seem to be very interested in what is going on here today, I don't know how many of you have read the Act, but I would suggest that members should read the Act and read it very carefully.

I would like to say to the President of Treasury Board that I would like to see this amendment go through, I would like to see this bill go through quickly.

It seems to me that this is going to be quite a change from politics, as we know it, particularly, elections as we know them, and not only that, Mr. Chairman, but what happens between elections. There are some concerns there by members who looked at the Act about the provisions on district associations and what district associations now have to do, and the sooner, Mr. Chairman, that this Act is put in place in all its complexities - I believe it is a good bill, by the way. I congratulate the government. But I think the sooner it is put in place, then the better it is going to be for all of us, and the better it is going to be for politics in this Province and for elections in this Province.

But, you know, we all have district associations in our districts or most of us do, not everybody. We all have parties who support the elected wing here in the House of Assembly. A lot of these people are totally ignorant of what this is going to mean for them in the next election. I would have liked to have seen this bill passed already. I would like to be able to know that in all parties that are represented in this House, the people who are supporting them, the people who are going to make this Act work, that they have full knowledge of them, that there be some seminars on these so that people know exactly what is happening. I would like to say to the President of Treasury Board, though, that there is no magic in the special ballot.

The Member for Eagle River explained it quite adequately there. I mean, the Committee has thought this out. Not only did they think it out, but the federal committee has thought it out, as well. I don't think it is something that is going to throw the whole thing off the tracks. I think the sooner we can have this done, the sooner it can be passed. I don't think there is anything wrong with the provisions which my friend for Kilbride -

AN HON. MEMBER: Have you read it?

MR. HODDER: I read through the amendment there that he has. - but if the Government House Leader is worried about some sections of this, I am sure, by tomorrow, we could have some refinements done on this; I see no reason for the Committee coming back this summer and working on these proposals. I would like to see this summer, members taking this Act and going out and saying to their district associations and to whomever, starting to put the provisions of this Act - because there is a reluctance, when you don't know that the act is passed for sure, and other changes. Up until now, when we saw the amendments just recently, there is some reluctance to say: This is the way it is going to be. Once the deed is done, then the act is done.

Mr. Chairman, whichever way, I don't like the idea of proxy votes. I have seen it in action in federal elections. It is a very messy way to do things, and I think it does interfere with peoples' right to vote. I don't think under proxy that as many people get a chance to vote. I think the special ballot is a good idea and barring that, the special polls.

I don't know why special polls were cut out. I suppose it was because there were so many of them. Mr. Chairman, you know, look at the student population in this city, in this district where this House of Assembly is, from all over the Province. I mean you have to give these people the easiest method of voting possible. It is their right. It is not their fault that they have to leave their small towns and come into a larger centre to get their education, so we should give them every opportunity to do it as easily as possible. That is why I think it is most important that we put that there, because the thought that an election might happen without this I think is wrong. For both parties in this particular act, I think it is time for us to get it passed, get it through. The only thing is that I worry about the fact that the provision on proxy votes should be taken out of there and that we should either keep the special polls if we have to right now, or have a special ballot.

That is it, Mr. Chairman. I do hope hon. members will pass this bill. I do hope that everybody will understand it. I do hope that if members on the other side don't get back to this Legislature it won't be because they didn't read the act, it will be because people decided they didn't want them. But there are implications in this act which could cause members to be very embarrassed. If they don't understand what is going on it could cause great embarrassment to the parties because it is new. Not because it is so strange or anything, but because it is new, and we haven't operated that way in this Province before.

Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say. I would like to congratulate the Chairman of the committee, he did a good job, and the members of the committee, they did as well. It was a very interesting process, and I do hope that we will see the successful conclusion of this in a matter of days, not a matter of months. Thank you.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to point out that the proposal for special ballots as outlined a few moments ago by the Member for Eagle River, seems to me far superior to this method that the feds are considering, and they are two completely different methods.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Yes, alright. I really then cannot see what is wrong with simply saying to the committee: Look, have a look at it. Obviously the special ballot should be able to work. There should be a way to have it work that is easy; that makes it voter friendly, and to have the committee look at it from that point of view, the voter friendliness, the most efficient way to do it to ensure that people get a chance to vote wherever they are and whatever their circumstances.

I think it would be a mistake to simply accept the amendment that is going to be proposed by the Member for Kilbride. I know it is the same process that the feds are considering, but I think there are better ways. The Member for Eagle River outlined what I believe is a better way, and there may be other ways that are better.

I would also like to point out that maybe what we should do, if you want some kind of a guarantee that it is going to be considered quickly in the Fall, is we could say the committee reports back maybe within two weeks of the opening of the House in the Fall, or something like that, that we could put a time limit on it, and have that agreed to by the House so that the committee has a schedule, and they would report back then within a certain time limit to make sure the issue gets dealt with, because I am like members opposite, and the Member for Kilbride and the Member for Eagle River, there are problems with that proxy vote. There has to be a better way, and perhaps most likely this will be a better way once you have given us details.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I am a bit of a suspicious fellow myself, since I went on this side of the House. I have no problem with the suggestion that the Member for Eagle River made on his type of special ballot. I can read this one out, if the members would like to hear. I know there are a couple of parts in this here, going over it, that will have to be eliminated, even if I do move it; but it was written directly from the recommendations from The Canadian Task Force. That is why there are a couple of things here that should be taken out.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, we did discuss in our committee the legal implications of facsimiles for several aspects of our new Elections Act. I do not think we made recommendations. I cannot remember now. I do not think we made any recommendations on it, but especially for official nominations. If someone was stuck on the coast of Labrador and they had to get to the chief electoral officer their nomination for a certain time, a certain day, we were considering facsimiles for that. We did not know what the legalities would be.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well I do not disagree. Why is that motion not put before us, that amendment to the act not put before us, and let us vote on it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: It could be and the next time it comes back there could still be a better way. Maybe there is. Maybe I am just being more suspicious than I should be. I would agree with that. I would agree wholeheartedly with sending this back to the committee. We will report within a week after the House opens. We can have that time restriction on it if the government would agree to leave in the special poll section of our present act. That would be a safeguard in my mind to allow me to say: well, okay let us do it. Then when we get our report in and it is accepted by the government at the time then that disappears. That is a reasonable compromise.

Now, what could happen, and the hon. President of the Council did mention it when he was speaking the first time, in the very last section of this act, Section 337, this act comes into force on the day to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. That is why I would like to have a safeguard in from what I am trying to argue. The reason I am doing this is because I made a commitment to the Federation of Students that if there was not some reasonable way for them to vote, as they requested of us, that I would either do the minority report, which I decided not to do because we had this special ballot, or special polls would stay in place. Now, that is the reason I am arguing it. It is a personal commitment. The committee did not make that commitment so it was not in our report and that is why either an amendment to have the special ballot in place, whether it be my amendment or whether it be the amendment from the Member for Eagle River, or an amendment to have the special poll stay in place until we can replace them. I cannot see where that is being unreasonable. I do not see the harm in it. It is not completely contrary to any government policy that I know would be in place. It would be a safeguard and it would be a good gesture on our behalf. I mean ours as a Legislature and not mine or anyone on either side of the House. My concern and the concern that was brought to us by the Student Federation is that the more difficult it is for students to vote - students have their exams to worry about and their careers to worry about and a million other things to worry about and if we make it a little bit more complicated for them to vote, or inconvenient, not even complicated but inconvenient, then we are leaving them out of the process. It makes it a bit easier for them to stay out of the process.

What the Student Federation was concerned about, and what I am concerned about, is that I want as many young people involved in this process as possible. My time is coming in the next eight to ten years to get out of this business. We need many, many young people involved behind all of us. We do not want to make it difficult for them to vote or become involved in our process - more difficult. We want them involved.

If they perceive, I would expect The Federation of Students can have a good perception of the people that they represent, what they would like to see in this election process. They made that request of us, and I do not think it is unreasonable for us to agree with that request. I know we are going to have, some day, the special ballot. Probably that will come between our committee - the brains on our committee somehow, especially with the expert staff that we have, the expert advice that we have, we will come up with some kind of a special ballot that will be acceptable to everyone.

I do not disagree with that; but as a safeguard to a government who can proclaim or cannot proclaim this act when they want, and it might not be your government - there may be an election come in and this is still on the books not proclaimed, and there could be an NDP government or there could be some other party who would want to delay again and again the implementation of this act. I do not know why they would, but they probably would.

There are some people who do not want to be accountable. There are some people who do not want to be accountable to the voters for the money that they take in and the money that they spend. There are some people who are afraid to put out a list of who contributed to their campaigns. I do not know why there are, but there are people who do not want to make those lists public.

We have to now, by law, say how much we took in and how much we spent, I believe. That is what we give -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is all according to how much you spend.

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, how much we spent. That is all we have to do. We do not have to say if that is what we collected. We do not have to say who gave it to us, and these kinds of things are not acceptable. In the 1990's these things are not acceptable any more. People should have to be accountable to the voters in this Province.

MR. TOBIN: You tabled your list, didn't you?

MR. R. AYLWARD: I did it last time. I tabled mine. I tabled those who contributed. They did not know I was going to table it, and they were not all too happy about it, I must admit. I probably will not get contributions the next time from some of those people because they were upset. Unfortunately, when it was being collected, I understood that when it was being collected, that people were informed that it was going to be made public. Between the time that I put it in to the Department of Justice and it was made public I was informed that everyone did not know that it was to be made public.

That is unfortunate but, you know, they gave me money, they left it open, c'est la vie. If I do not get it from them the next time, I do not want it from them. If they want to give it to me in secret I do not want the money from them. So probably I will get more from other people who agree with my philosophy. Maybe they will give a little more the next time. If they can get a tax credit that will even help them better, maybe that is for sure. I will get some donation from the strawberry patch in Kilbride maybe.

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

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

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report that it has passed the following heads of expenditure: Executive Council, Consolidated Fund Services, Legislature, and the Public Service Commission. The Committee asks leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, Private Members' resolution on Wednesday will be the resolution put forward by the Member for Pleasantville. I intend tomorrow to call the same order of business that we have been on today, Committee of the Whole on the Elections Act.

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