December 2, 1992            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 76

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before calling Oral Questions, on behalf of hon. members there are a couple of groups that we would like to welcome to the galleries today. First, there are forty-five Level II students from St. Clare's Regional High School in Carbonear; and secondly we have a group of students from Memorial - students representing the Council of the Student's Union; students representing the Canadian Federation of Students Executive; MUN student senators, and students at large.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up with the Premier on some questions raised yesterday in the House about his government's decision to give a tax break to one Newfoundland company, Fortis Trust, a subsidiary of Fortis Corporation.

I understand in the comments yesterday to the press made by his Minister of Finance, the minister said - this is the company, of course, that also owns Newfoundland Light and Power - the company had come to government looking for this tax break.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to the Premier that dozens of other Newfoundland companies in this Province have come to the government to ask for a break from the burden of payroll taxes and other business taxes implemented and imposed by his government. I want to ask the Premier: Why did he not give these other companies a break? Will there be any break in his upcoming mini-Budget for these other businesses?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have been aware that this matter has been under discussion generally for some time. I have not been directly involved in it myself. The minister tells me, and the former Minister of Finance used to tell me - he is not in the House; he is not here right at the moment - the former Minister of Finance, I believe, was dealing with it.

The proposition, as I understand it, and I am not too familiar with it - the Minister of Finance can more readily answer the questions than -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: The Minister of Finance can more readily answer the questions than -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: The Minister of Finance can more readily answer the questions than I can, but my understanding is that this trust company had a high level of capital investment in order to attract security for its investors and that this placed an inordinate burden on them in terms of the capital tax by comparison with competitive companies that did not have that level of protection for the investors doing the same level of business and I believe this is the basis that the minister explained yesterday. This was not a tax break for one company, this is to deal with what appeared to be an unfair and inequitable situation. That has been done in a variety of circumstances in the past by this government and by former governments in the Province. I do not see anything particularly wrong with it. We would like to give business tax breaks to as many companies as we can and in next year's Budget we will see.

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

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I say to the Premier, he can call it whatever he wants to call it, it has been referred to as a tax break and I think clearly it is a tax break. My question was: are you going to give some tax breaks to others, other than Fortis?

Now, Mr. Speaker, the supplementary. I do not have to remind the Premier that there are thousands of Newfoundlanders in this Province who have not had a wage increase over the last two years, are finding it very difficult to put food on their tables and they also would like to have a break from the burden of personal income taxes imposed by this government, and in thirty days time, January 1st, this government will have increased personal income tax by 6 percentage points to 66 per cent of the federal tax.

I would like to ask the Premier this question: if he thinks that the tax paid by Fortis Trust is unfair and he is going to change it and reduce it, will he also be changing and reducing the personal income tax that he and his government have imposed upon the people of this Province, the wage earners and the pensioners, who have not had a chance to make ends meet for the last two years? Why have we not had a response to that kind of a request as well?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to abolish taxes and make them illegal, but who is going to pay the Leader of the Opposition's salary and his travel and other expenses, if we abolish that? Who is going to pay for that? Who is going to pay the expenses of running hospitals, who is going to pay for schools, who is going to pay for all the cost of government, if you abolish taxes? Nobody likes taxes. The difference is with the personal income tax, it applies the same to everybody.

Now I have just been provided with a note that apparently explains this tax. The financial corporation capital tax imposes a tax on the paid-up capital of banks, trust and loan companies operating in the Province at a rate of 3 per cent. For companies operating in more than one province, a portion of the companies paid-up capital is allocated to Newfoundland based on the portion of the companies business done in Newfoundland.

Prior to the amendments in this Bill, each taxpayer was allowed to reduce their total paid-up capital by $500,000 before allocating to Newfoundland and calculating their tax payable. When Fortis Trust commenced operation the company made representation to Government that the existing tax was prejudicial to them. To qualify for deposit insurance coverage Fortis was required to have a minimum of $5 million in paid up capital even though, based on their business activity, $500,000 was sufficient by industry standards. The act required Fortis to pay capital tax on the full $5 million which gave the company a tax liability in relative terms far in excess of its creditors. Now, it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that is not an irrational explanation of it and that is the basis for the adjustment. It is not as though the income tax paid by one individual applied differently than others or affected them on a different basis. If you do that and tax statutes result in that there has been provision for accommodation before. Frankly I do not see that this is any different.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest when the Premier said: who is going to pay the Leader of the Opposition's salary? Well, there are certain former Leaders of the Opposition who found ways to have their salary paid.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: His answer is really what I was trying to get out of him. I mean who is going to pay for this? Who is going to pay for that? The question is who is paying for Fortis? It is the government of the Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is also well known that the Premier is a former Chairman of Newfoundland Light and Power, a company which is owned by Fortis Corporation. I want to ask him a simple, straightforward question: Did he participate in any formal or informal discussions with Fortis officials, Newfoundland Power officials or board members at any time regarding this 3 per cent tax?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I did not. I did not wait until I became Premier to disassociate myself totally from Newfoundland Light and Power at the time. When I announced that I was seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party I also announced my resignation immediately because I thought it was inappropriate and I sold all my shares. I had a few shares. I did not have very many, but I sold everything. I immediately disassociated myself with Newfoundland Light and Power and I have had nothing to do with them since. They are another company doing business in this Province. A very reputable company, by the way, doing business on a very good basis in this Province. For the Leader of the Opposition to now make that kind of inference, pretty small, pretty small.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I am not concerned about whether the Premier thinks the question is small or not, it is a question that has to be asked, and that is the point.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: It is the answer that the people are interested in receiving. Let me ask him this: Can he tell us then - confirm, I therefore suspect - that he participated in the Cabinet decision to bring forth this legislative amendment, this change, to give this tax break to the Fortis Corporation. Can he confirm that he was there for that - participated?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I cannot confirm it, Mr. Speaker, I don't even recall it going through at the time. I recall it being discussed but I don't recall if I was even present when the decision was made. I will try to find out; I will take a look at the Cabinet record and let him know. As far as I know - I don't even know if I was or I wasn't.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that and I look forward to the answer. I would like to ask the Premier this: Did his right-hand man, the Minister of Justice, who also had a connection with the same company as a director of Fortis Corporation, participate in any formal or informal discussions about this tax before or after he became a minister in the Cabinet and did he participate in the Cabinet decision, as well?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there are two parts to the question so I will let the Minister of Justice speak for himself on the part about which he would have knowledge and I would not. My right-hand man, to the extent that one exists ever since I have been Premier, is the Minister of Finance. He still acts for me in that capacity. Recently, the Minister of Justice was added to the Cabinet, so I will let him answer the rest of the question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is all in the way in which you look at it Sir, from where I sit - I who sitteth on the left hand and my hon. friend from Gander who sitteth on the right hand - but when you look at it from the other side, it is on the right hand. They do tend to get things 'bassackwards' over there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me deal with this, because I rather resent the insinuation. I was a director of Fortis Trust Inc. My family, my father, primarily, had had interest in this company for twenty or thirty years and I, if you wish, inherited the directorship. In fact, at one stage, my family and I - my brothers, my father and I - owned a very large proportion of the shares of a company called Newfoundland Building, Savings and Investment Limited which eventually was sold to Fortis Trust Inc. and I assumed the directorship. Within a fortnight of my acceptance of the Premier's invitation to join his Cabinet, several months before I joined the Cabinet, I resigned as a director of Fortis Trust Inc. and since then have had no dealings formally or informally with Fortis Trust Inc., with Fortis Inc., or any other - with one exception. I must tell Your Honour this: A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were asked to take dinner with some friends of ours at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club. I must, in all honesty, tell Your Honour and the House that at the table at dinner, Angus and Jean Bruneau were there, too. Indeed, I sat next to Mrs. Bruneau - for the whole meal. We spoke with each other, we broke bread together, and I will confess, as well, we had a glass of wine together.

Now, those are the only dealings I have had with Fortis Inc. or Fortis Trust. I also had a word or two of social conversation with Angus Bruneau, whom I have known for many years, whom I am proud to count as a friend, and who, I think, is one of the finest and most honourable men in this Province.

Let me say one other thing so it is on the record. Firstly, when this proposal came forward through Treasury Board - and the record will bear this out - I declared an interest and withdrew from Treasury Board. Secondly, when it came forward to Cabinet, I declared an interest and withdrew from Cabinet, and the record will show that. Thirdly, when it came forward in this House, I declared an interest and withdrew from it.

I am not going to stand for the cheap shots of the ilk of that from the other side, Mr. Speaker. The record is clear and speaks for itself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Justice, that is just too bad if he won't take it from this side of the House. Now, he did say, in answer to the question, that several months before he joined the Cabinet, he resigned. Now, we all know that several months before he joined the Cabinet, the Premier announced he was going in the Cabinet. Will he tell us when he resigned?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't recall the date, I will look it up. There was a letter of resignation. What I said was, within a week or two after accepting the Premier's invitation, I resigned. I did not attend another director's meeting. I had no dealings with the company. But I confess I did draw a proportion of the annual fee paid to directors. I believe there was a retainer paid and they paid so much a meeting, not an unusual arrangement. I drew part of the year's retainer and the payment for the two or three meetings, whatever it was, that I had attended up to the point - it was in November, whenever the Premier's announcement was made. Within a fortnight I had attended to all these things and I had resigned as director of Fortis Trust Inc., and have had nothing - I may have some funds on deposit down there, and I confess, I once bought a spousal RRSP for my wife and invested the money there. It was a good rate of return, and it is still there. It is a good, safe place to invest your money, Sir.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Who else is involved, I wonder?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. gentleman from Kilbride wants to snipe, let him stand and say manfully in this House -

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

I recognize the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary to the Premier.

Yesterday the Minister of Finance, I think, suggested that this tax break was to help economic recovery. The Premier alluded to it in his answer earlier. He talked about helping businesses in order to help economic recovery. Can the Premier tell us now how much new investment and how many new jobs are going to be created by this $150,000 a year break to former friends and colleagues of him and his chief lieutenant there, the Minister of Justice. Can he tell us that?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, the first part of the leader's question: I was supposed to have said that this is being done to stimulate economic activity. That is a totally incorrect statement, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition has a knack of twisting and misinterpreting and so on, and getting his own interpretations of the statements that are just the opposite of what was said. Mr. Speaker, the purpose of this amendment -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Well, the hon. Leader of the Opposition can go back and check transcripts and everything else and he will never, ever find that that was said, and I hope that he will apologize in the House when he does go and check the transcripts.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the amendment was to correct an inequity whereby the $500,000 deduction for paid-up capital, the exemption that was available to all other companies, was also available to small trust companies that were setting up. But because of the requirements for security, even though the paid-up capital necessary would only be $500,000 they could not take the normal deduction that other larger companies could take. So it was to make the situation equitable for smaller trust companies as compared to larger trust companies, so that it would be possible for smaller trust companies to set up in this Province without an undue level of taxation, up to 30 per cent of paid-up capital that was required, up to 30 per cent as opposed to the 3 per cent that was being charged the larger ones. So it was a way of straightening up an inequity, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Education. In October the minister received a petition from 3,700 students, a quarter of the student body at Memorial, requesting a freeze on tuition to help students make it through the Winter semester. Isn't it true that he dismissed the petition with the comment: well, three out of four can still return? Does the minister want a university where only the children of the rich and the powerful can get an education?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, hon. members will know, as I said before, this government treats the University as operating at arm's length from government. We give the University $120 million a year to run its affairs. It would be unnecessary intervention to tell them that they could freeze their tuition. Already Memorial has the lowest tuitions in Canada. At the end of the day it would do more harm than good to interfere with the University at that level, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: In a meeting with the student representatives on November 24, actually, the minister questioned whether the provincial grant and the deferred bursary program was working. Anything that comes out of the mouths of any of the ministers over there causes alarm. I wonder, what does the minister have in mind? Does he intend to axe the bursary program, and perhaps the entire provincial grant program? Taking the lead from the NDP government in Ontario.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, some time ago I did meet with a group of students from Memorial. It was a good meeting, actually, in which we discussed various problems that they are encountering. I asked them about the problems with the deferred bursary. It's a system which the hon. member would be quite familiar with. His administration -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: His administration brought it in. The deferred bursary, Mr. Speaker, is a system whereby a student grant is approved and the student only receives a portion of it, but then after the student graduates the other portion is applied against his loan payments. Now that was brought in by the previous administration.

So I asked the students if in their opinion this was a good system or not. Strangely enough, some of the students said yes, it is not a good system and they'd like to see it changed. Yet in that very same meeting another student said: no, it's a good system and maybe we should keep it in place. So like everything that government does there are different opinions and different points of view. Both of them have the same strength. The students who were against the deferred bursary opposed it just as strongly as the particular students who said that it is a good program.

All was involved is the same intent which has been involved ever since I became a minister of this administration. We want to try to do the best that we can for people, whether they be students or whether they be teaching, or whatever they do. We want to do the best that we can within the fiscal limitations of this Province, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, if I were a student I'd be pretty concerned after just listening to what the minister has said. The minister is well aware that students are having a real problem having their appeals heard. Now that 250 students have been told that: your appeals will be dealt with shortly, can the minister explain why they've also been told: you'll have to wait until December 16, the last day of regular classes, before they receive their funding? Does the minister know what's going on? Does he care? Do the students have to drop out in droves in order to get any attention at all from this minister and this government?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I know very well what's going on and I do care very much. The reality is an attempt here again to get up and make cheap political points without stating the full facts. The reality is there are not 250 student appeals to be heard. The reality is there are less than 100 appeals to be heard as of 9:00 this morning. Now if the hon. member is talking about last week, there was an announcement last week that there were 250 appeals to be heard, but as of 9:00 this morning there are less than 100.

Mr. Speaker, earlier in the week the announcement was that there was 1,000 students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm giving the facts. Whether or not people disagree with these facts, I can't take responsibility for that. I had a meeting this morning with Mr. Snelgrove, the director in charge of Student Loans, as I do quite frequently, because I am concerned with what's happening in Student Loans. I have been assured that as of 9:00 this morning there were less than 100 student appeals.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in fairness I don't want to get up and try to claim that the Student Loans commission is the best thing since sliced bread, but there are some facts the public should know.

The deadline for applications for student loans is October 31. Now that was subsequently extended to November 13, and subsequently extended until November 25. So all the applications that arrived before November 20 have been dealt with. The appeals have been dealt with, Mr. Speaker; but, in a spirit of trying to help students, Student Loans is breaking its own rules and extending the deadline for applications and for appeals. There is not one application which has not been dealt with, that arrived before the deadline.

Honourable members will know that as much as we are concerned, and rightly so, for students in the system, students are going to have to recognize that they have some responsibility too, and they cannot wait until after the deadline to get their applications in and then expect to get their loan approved before the students who were there in due time.

So this is a two-way street, Mr. Speaker. Students are going to have to take a bit of responsibility as well, and that is said in the spirit that I am responsible for them; but we all have to play the rules right.

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

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

I suggest to the minister that he met with Mr. Snelgrove because he knew the students were going to be in the gallery today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEARN: Secondly, I ask the minister if he will answer the part of the question that he so carefully evaded: When students usually receive their funding a couple of days after their appeal, why have they been told that they have to wait until December 16 this year before they will get it? And perhaps he can tell us: Why are there so many appeals in the beginning? What is wrong with the program?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure hon. members that the fact that there might or might not be students in the gallery had nothing to do with my meeting with Mr. Snelgrove; but I can certainly assure members that this question is only posed - it is the first time that hon. member has ever asked me a question in his life.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: It is simply political posturing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: As I pointed out, Mr. Speaker, every single application and every single appeal that has arrived at the Student Loans office, up to and including November 23, has been dealt with. In all cases students have not received extra money. I am sorry about that. There are rules which must be played by, but the appeals have been dealt with up until November 23.

At this moment the Student Loans Division is dealing with applications that came in November 24 and November 25. They have accepted appeals right up until November 25. The Director of Student Loans advised me that he has kept people on, working overtime, flat out, and hopefully over the next few days they will have it all cleared up; but it is humanly impossible to receive an appeal at the eleventh hour and expect to have that appeal dealt with in the tenth hour. This is a two-way street and people have to play the rules properly.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Education.

On Monday I asked the President of Treasury Board if it was true that school boards had not received their funding, their budgetary allocations, their final ones for 1992-93, and we are now months into the fiscal year. He said the boards had been advised of the allocations. Yesterday, a memorandum was sent to all school boards, signed by the Deputy Minister of Education, which says: We are not in a position, at this point, to confirm the final budgetary allocations for the 1992-93 school year.

Does this government know what is going on? Was the minister misleading this House? Or is it another example of the government's fumbling and incompetence?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, prior to this year operational grants were given to school boards based on the number of students enrolled in each school board. It was based on a formula - was it $300 and some odd per student? If you were in Nain with 1,000 students in your district, you receive $350 x 1,000. If you were in St. John's, - whatever.

This year the Department of Education, and government, changed the grants system so that when school boards now receive grants we take into consideration the cost of heat and electricity. We take into consideration the cost of -


MR. DECKER: My hon. friend tells me we take need; but the intent is to make certain that when a student arrives in the classroom, whether it is in Nain or St. John's or in Gander, whatever, the amount of money that is spent on the educational program is pretty well the same per student wherever you live. Now this is a new system that we brought in. It has taken some time to bring that new system in place, we had to check to see if it was legal. We had to check with the non-discriminatory use of funds, we had to see if it was legal and all this, but, Mr. Speaker, every single school board in this Province has been given in-term financing equal to, or more than, they received in previous years.

So, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member, if he has found some special cases there, where there is a problem, then tell me about it. The one which he quoted in the House last week is certainly no problem because I have the facts on that one which shows, Mr. Speaker, that they have indeed received just as much money up to today as they did last year this time, and we are hoping that as a result of abolishing that curse, which the previous administration perpetrated for so long, namely the school tax, that we will be able to get more money for all the school boards in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday's memorandum stated that full implementation of the full grant system may be postponed indefinitely pending an improvement in government's financial position. Simply put, boards do not have the money they were promised in March and they are not going to get it. Was not this the government's intention all along? Was not March's Budget a scam to get boards to go along with the elimination of school tax?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, is the hon. member quoting from a National Enquirer, or from what is he quoting?

Mr. Speaker, we have a new grant system put in place as I explained to hon. members. The majority of hon. members on the other side were satisfied to sit in their place for seventeen or eighteen years and allow a system of education in this Province to work where, people living in Conche received one-third the amount of money that the people living in St. John's received for education. That is a disgrace and a shame, Mr. Speaker. It is discrimination of the very worse. This administration is putting in place a program whereby equal opportunity is made available to the people in Conche and Croque and Corner Brook and Nain and Goose Bay, Mr. Speaker, where we believe in treating people equally; we are not going to perpetrate this nonsense whereby we have, two, three and four different classes of people, as hon. members sat down and did for seventeen years in this House. Now hon. members are trying their best -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: - to jeopardise our intent to put this system in place; there are a few bugs which have to be ironed out and they will be ironed out, and the hon. member can shout all he likes -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

MR. DECKER: - but we are not bringing back the school tax.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member I think, is engaged in making a speech, and although the Chair cannot tell the hon. member what to say, the Chair gathered he was probably making a speech.

Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. CRANE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a report of the Social Legislation Review Committee in respect of Bill 55, "An Act To Amend The Law Society Act". Our Committee met last evening and heard explanations from the Minister of Justice, and we heard from the Law Society and Mr. Chesley Crosbie, a barrister. And it appeared to the Committee that more time was needed to ensure that the adequate consultation take place between government and the persons affected by the proposed legislation. The Committee unanimously agreed that it would ask the House to delay the passing of this bill until the spring sitting.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: I would like to thank the Committee members. Last evening, we had three substitute members, the Member for Humber West, the Member for Port de Grave - and the Member for Kilbride is partially a substitute.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRANE: Also there were our regular members, the Vice-Chair from Humber East and the Member for St. George's.

Mr. Speaker, one other comment. The Member for St. John's East is also a member of that Committee, and because of my arrogance, he said, when he had to attend another appointment, I would not change the meeting for him, so he did not get to the meeting last evening.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on 30 November, Monday of this week, the hon. gentleman from Kilbride asked me some questions and I may have some answers for him. I took them as notice. Your Honour may recall, but if you don't, let me remind you that he asked me about some ten desks and ten chairs delivered to the Provincial Courts in Atlantic Place at a reported cost of $60,000, and he also wanted to know, if these were not in use, could he go to view them. I have some information here. Here is the story, Sir: Eleven desks have been purchased, one for each of the eleven judges who sit in Atlantic Place. The desks, I am told -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. gentleman can contain his impatience, all things will be unfolded to him in the fullness of time. Eleven desks have been purchased, one for each of the eleven judges who sit in the Provincial Court at Atlantic Place. We also bought one chair; one assumes the other ten judges already had them. The one chair is the result of the fact that Judge Hyslop was recently relocated from Gander into St. John's. My friend, the Minister of Finance, thinks they sat on the Bench, I will let the hon. lady from Humber East explain what sitting on the Bench means to my friend. They can do that outside. The total, including the RST, was $36,777.44. The expenditure was part of a four-year plan approved by one of my predecessors, on the advice of his then deputy minister and by the Treasury Board. The judges who sit outside St. John's got theirs over the last -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Just hold on now.

MR. PARSONS: Would the hon. member entertain a question?

MR. ROBERTS: No, Mr. Speaker, I am answering a question. If the hon. gentleman would just resume his seat we will get on with this.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

MR. PARSONS: I am not sure, but I want to ask the Minister of Justice: Isn't it true that the chairs to correspond to those tables came only two months ago?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I said, the expenditure was part of a four-year plan. The judges outside of St. John's got their desks on the 13th, and lest anybody thinks we have ignored the part of Newfoundland and Labrador outside the overpass, they got their desks and chairs over the last three years. The purchase implements the last stage of a four-year plan to replace desks for judges. Now, there are ten surplus desks because until Judge Hyslop was moved here earlier in the fall there were only ten judges sitting here. There are now eleven, so we had to buy eleven, I say to my friend from St. John's East Extern - baby talk, in the words used often in this House before. All ten desks have been reassigned. One has gone to Daphne Bartlett, secretary to the Chief Judge, one to Bernice Laughee, a court orderly, one to Eric Penney, a court orderly, one to Susan Roberts, Director of Traffic Court Services, and let me, in fairness to the lady, say she is no relation of mine. One has gone to Susie Fewer, a court reporter, one to Darleen Sellars, a court reporter, one to Bernice Keeping, a financial consultant, one to Basil Tracey an accounting clerk, one to Michael Baker, a management analyst, and one has gone for a student. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am told the old chairs are still in use, as well. They were put in the judge's library and replaced broken chairs in three courtrooms. Staff chairs are replaced as needed and are not in poor condition. The desks previously used by these ten will be disposed of in the usual way by the appropriate department. If hon. members really want, Mr. Speaker, I have here a list of the condition of all ten of the previous ones. I will not read it but let me tell you - for example, Susan Roberts. I know Susie Fewer was using an old-style school desk, 'very old, and requires proper secretarial desk so a typing wing can be attached. There is not adequate space for her computer unit.'

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that the answers here should be brief. I realize the question was a long one. The question was asking about a number of chairs and where they were put. Maybe it is a question that should have been on the Order Paper. I ask the minister to please get to the essence of the question as soon as possible.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. I have given part of it and I will very briefly give the rest. I have already distributed it to those who need it. The purchase was made by the Government Purchasing Agency on public tender at the direction of Chief Judge Luther of the Provincial Court, using funds approved as part of the estimates. Chief Judge Luther tells me that by his estimate, the purchase program has been completed at a cost of between 40 and 45 per cent less than the estimates. Finally, Mr. Speaker, let me say that I am told that the purchases were within the scale of entitlement guidelines that govern the purchase and distribution of office furniture throughout the public service. These guidelines were promulgated by the executive director of the purchasing agency on 16 May 1988, a year before this administration took office, and they have not been changed since then.


AN HON. MEMBER: My hon. friend wants (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The answer is yes, if they are not being used by either the judge or the person to whom they are assigned.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There are two members standing and there can only be one. The Chair doesn't know who is up or who is down, but saw two members standing.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, what we have here today is an admission from the Minister of Justice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

What is the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West doing?

A point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, what we have here is an admission from the Minister of Justice that in a time when people in this Province are starving and don't have doors to put to their homes, he is spending $40-odd thousand dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. Hon. members can't abuse the House to make points, and the hon. gentleman knows it is not a point of order.

o o o

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

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a point of order with respect to questions for which notice has been given. I wonder if the Minister of Social Services intends to answer the question which he took under advisement on Friday related to the work of his department in Bellevue district. He was able to come in on twenty-four hour notice and mislead the House, on November 5, Mr. Speaker, but it has taken four or five days now to try to correct the error. I wonder when the minister is going to be able to tell us whether or not he misled the House on November 5?

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

MR. ROBERTS: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I suspect the hon. gentleman from St. John's East knows it is not a point of order. I think he is simply trying to take a cheap shot here. The Minister of Social Services will answer the question as quickly as can be done. He will answer it fully and completely, notwithstanding attempts by hon. members opposite to prevent us from answering questions fully and completely, as we have just seen.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer to my question, but it was on only half the question I asked. I also asked the Premier what happened to the furniture that was replaced in his office and is it possible to go view that wherever it was stored?

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

I ask the hon. member to take his place, please.

There is no point of order. There are periods for doing this. If he wants to ask the question there is a proper place for it, not raising it on a point of order.


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition to present - rather unusual in many respects, but it is a petition that was put together by members of the NTA while attending the Canadian Teachers Federation's National Conference held here in St. John's, and hosted by the Newfoundland branch, just in the last week or so.

First, I shall tell you that there are 228 names affixed to the petition, 228 signatories. The prayer of the petition goes as follows:

To the hon. House of Assembly in Newfoundland, in legislative session convened. The petition of the undersigned delegates attending the Canadian Teachers Federation 12th National Conference on Women and Education Towards E Equals Equality.

Mr. Speaker, I should also say that more than half of these signatories are from Newfoundland.

The prayer says: We, the delegates, were absolutely appalled by a comment made by the hon. Chris Decker, Minister of Education, during the opening session at the CTF conference regarding the drain on the provincial budget for the cost of substitute teachers. We felt that the comment demonstrated a lack of commitment to achieving equality for females in education in Newfoundland. Your comment was embarrassing, degrading and insulting, not only to us, but to our affiliates from all across Canada. Beyond all of this, your actions portrayed a narrow-mindedness unbecoming a minister of the Crown. We demand a retraction of this statement because it undermines the professionalism of the teachers of this Province. Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take such action as quickly as possible, and as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is a highly unusual petition in many respects. I am sure Your Honour would recognize that just by the mere prayer of the petition. It is rather unusual to use such strong language, I suppose, in a petition. I can't say that I was at the meeting or the conference. So I only speak from information given to me by some of those who were there and who were in attendance.

Now, without getting into the details of it, I expect and hope the minister will respond to the petition and explain in some way what transpired. I waited. I wouldn't present the petition on Monday because he wasn't here, and I wasn't here yesterday, and I wanted to make sure he was going to be in attendance. Because it is kind of an alarming message, I think, that is contained in this petition. I know from talking to some people who were there and know of it that they were highly insulted by the comment that the minister made. There were also news stories. Your Honour, perhaps, would have seen the one in last Saturday's Evening Telegram that refers to the situation that occurred at that particular meeting.

Some people thought the minister was attempting to be humourous, but they certainly didn't see it as being humourous comments that he made. They were so riled up that they took up a petition at the meeting, itself, and they sent the petition over to us, hand-delivered it, to ask if we would present it in the House.

I can't get into the details of what occurred because I was not in attendance. I would only be speaking secondhand. But I can say to him, to the Premier, to the government and to the House, that I assure you, these - who were in attendance at this conference were highly insulted by the comments that the minister made. I am sure those in the Legislature who are teachers, certainly the women who sit in this House, would be highly offended, too. Because there was an obvious slur in the view of these people who presented this petition.

Mr. Speaker, I present the petition on behalf of those delegates at the convention and say to the minister that in the future, for sure, I would hope that he would be a bit more cautious in what he has to say, particularly at a national conference, where people from all across Canada come to a convention hosted by a local branch - in this case of the NTA - and would like to be able to be proud to stand and say: 'There is our Minister of Education. We are very proud of him, very proud of the work he is doing' - as they often used to say about the former minister, the Member for St. John's North, and they did, Mr. Speaker. And I say that in this House publicly in front of him. But unfortunately, this minister is not setting that kind of an example. I hope that in the future he will choose his words much more carefully, and I hope that the Premier will have a word with the minister and chastise him properly for it, and apologize to the people from across Canada.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support the petition of 228 teachers - teachers from Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as from other provinces of Canada. Mr. Speaker, I join with them in calling on the Minister of Education to retract his offensive comments at the national conference last Thursday morning. I go further and call upon the minister to apologize to the women of the Province and the teachers of the nation.

Mr. Speaker, in front of that national audience, the minister insinuated that the Provincial Government wasted taxpayers' funds to pay for substitute teachers to allow the Newfoundland and Labrador delegates to attend that conference towards equality for women in education. More than that, Mr. Speaker, the minister demeaned the women of the Province by telling the national conference that in Newfoundland we have grandmothers on the Northern Peninsula making swizzle sticks. Mr. Speaker, this reveals the sexist thinking, the narrow-mindedness of the Minister of Education of this Province.

I join with my leader in saying that the minister's predecessor, the present Member for St. John's North, while he didn't deliver the kind of improvements that some of us would have hoped for, at least tried and at least understands the equality faced by women generally and women in the teaching profession in particular.

So, Mr. Speaker, I support this petition. I join with the petitioners in asking the minister to retract his insulting comments and to go further and offer an apology.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the remarks were made in jest. I certainly didn't intend to offend anyone and, if I did, I certainly do apologize, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: I suppose, Mr. Speaker, it is one of these cases where people in public life put their foot in their mouth, and I did.

I had a prepared statement which I thought was a bit patronizing. I was dealing with adults, so I said, I am not going to patronize you and say, `We will put a committee in place here with five women on it,' or `We will put a company here with two women on it.' I feel that is patronizing and degrading to the whole spirit of the women's movement, Mr. Speaker.

The President of the NTA, when he introduced me, made reference to the fact that there were 140 teachers there today. Mr. Speaker, we are going through a budgetary process and, yes, it (inaudible) these 140 substitute teachers at twenty-five dollars a day for three days, about $75,000. Now, Mr. Speaker, this is the same group who, the day before, got up and said that the Premier of the Province was wasting money because he flew executive class at a cost of fifty dollars more than an ordinary ticket. Mr. Speaker, I thought it was in order to make a joke. Well, obviously, I put my foot in my mouth and offended some people. I am sorry for that, Mr. Speaker. It won't happen again. But I certainly didn't mean to offend anyone.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Just on a point of order. I may have misled the minister on the contents of the petition. There were 140 teachers at the conference. However, only one-third of them, about thirty-five, were from the classroom that required substitutes, not 140.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. member used the opportunity for a point of clarification.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, this is Private Members' Day, so the motion stands in the name of the hon. gentleman from Port de Grave - it is number 8, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On most occasions when you stand in this hon. House of Assembly to speak, it is usually done with great pleasure. You put forth the ideas and the concerns of constituents across the Province, and especially in your district, and you take great pleasure in doing it.

It is not with great pleasure that I speak on this particular motion I have on the Order Paper today, it is with great necessity, because I believe what is taking place in our Province of Newfoundland and Labrador today, is going to have a great effect, and what has been happening in the past is going to have a tremendous effect on the future of this Province.

I speak specifically about the moratorium - the so-called moratorium where we are supposed to be doing something about the revitalization, in a commercial viable way, of the fish stocks.

Now when I speak today about this motion, I am not talking only about codfish. I am talking about all species of fish in and around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, on the Grand Banks, inside and outside the 200-mile limit. My motion, Mr. Speaker, reads as follows:

WHEREAS the huge seal population is having a devastating effect on the fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador.

That is the big part of the question. That is the issue. That is the point, the problem, of what I am talking about. In order to talk about this, and in order for all hon. members of this House of Assembly, and all members of Newfoundland and Labrador who have any interest in the fishery whatsoever, and the future of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, we must first accept the fact that we have a very serious problem at hand. Unless you accept that there is a problem, you will not be able to come up with a solution. You must first accept the problem.

To date I do not think most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are dealing with the problem of the seal population as we should. I think there are reasons why it is happening in that manner. I think that the animal rights activist groups have frightened us; have made us become complacent; have scared us back in a shell, and have done a lot of things that we should have faced up to possibly in 1984.

When I am finished today giving you some facts and figures about the seal population; about the effect it is having on the fish stocks around our coast; about the effect it has had on the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the past and the present, and the effect it will have especially in the future of the Province, I think we all will take a different attitude to the things that we should do in order to solve this devastating problem.

There are a number of areas about which I want to speak today, and I hope I will have enough time to briefly touch on them, and the other speakers will also touch on them. It is not enough to call for a seal hunt. What we are asking for is a continuation - an increased seal hunt - not the way it was carried out in the past; not the way fishermen used to go out and kill young seals, or hunt whitecoats. We are asking for an increased, mature, seal hunt. That is what we want to do; but not just to go out and kill seals for the sake of killing. That would be the absolute last resort.

There are millions of people starving in the world. I have been told over and over and over and over that the seal meat is a very, very high protein food. Picture people starving, with no food, picture 8 million seals in the ocean with a valuable high protein meat. Does it make any sense to have these 8 million seals destroying the fish stocks, and visualize 8 million starving people in the world who could survive off that vast quantity of seal meat?

Now that is the context in which we have to address the problem. We have to look at what is happening around the world - the world politics that is being played by a group of people.

I found it very interesting just two nights ago to sit down and watch the evening news on CBC television, where they actually showed, over in Australia, they are now killing off 5 million kangaroos. One truck was completely filled, racked up, kangaroo after kangaroo after kangaroo, and no animal activists there. The question is, why? If there are 5 million too many kangaroos in Australia, and we have several million too many seals in the ocean around the coast of Newfoundland, why is it that the animal activist groups are focusing on the seal hunt here in Newfoundland? It is very simple. It is greed on their own personal parts to raise money, and they are raising multimillions of dollars at the cost of the survival of the life of every individual in Newfoundland and Labrador as we have known it for the last 500 years.

They will not go over there and take a picture of a kangaroo and try to get the emotions of the Hollywood multimillionaires stirred up because they know they cannot do it, no more could they do it for the animals that are killed in the plants of Ontario to provide us with meat; no more are they doing it for animals or birds or anything else killed anywhere else in the world. They are using the emotions of the seal pup, the tear in the eye, telling lies to its fullest extreme, creating human hate, hatred towards Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and we are laid back as individuals taking it on the chin and saying: we had better not upset the animal rights groups, they may continue to do this more and more. They may embargo all fish imports into Europe.

Well I will ask you a very serious question?

AN HON. MEMBER: What fish?

MR. EFFORD: What fish indeed, if the seals continue devastating the fish stocks out there; the northern cod, the caplin, the squid and the herring and the mackerel and the shrimp, what will we have left to sell? Now the big study that is taking place in this Province is supposed to answer the question: Do seals eat fish? Now that is the question that they are asking; that is the question our government in Ottawa is asking, they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars doing research - do seals eat fish? We have to realize first of all that seals do eat fish.

I made a joke about it, speaking a few weeks ago. A friend of mine, who I met recently, Mr. Young, owns Kentucky Fried Chicken: I wonder if that is where he made his money, selling Kentucky Fried Chicken to seals, because it is just as silly as asking: do seals eat fish?

I want to quote you some numbers. We have 8 million seals in the water. Just think about the jobs, we have probably 20 to 25 per cent unemployment in the Province today - I want to give you an example before I quote some real statistics. Let us say there are 8 million seals in the water, use the minimum number; let us say they only eat one pound of fish a day, some species, whether it is cod, herring, mackerel or whatever, that is 8 million pounds of fish a day; multiply that times 365 days a year, you have 2.9 billion pounds of fish. Think about what I just said, allowing them to eat only one pound of fish a day, 8 million seals would eat almost 3 billion pounds of fish a year, and we wonder where the fish have gone?

We have the so called moratorium, and the only people who are not allowed to fish are the Newfoundlanders. It is like having a box of matches in the front of a kitchen table and you have four children and the mother wants to go out and hang out the clothes, so she takes away one child and leaves the box of matches and the three children because that day she does not want the house to burn down. The same thing is taking place in Newfoundland today and we all agree with it. The only people who are not fishing today and destroying the stocks are the Newfoundlanders. The foreign fleets are out there, the Canadian fleets are still dragging other species of fish; the Nova Scotians are still fishing out there and the seals are still there and we are still studying to see if the seals eat fish. Can you imagine for a second, just take a quick thought, how many jobs would be created if the seals were not devastating the stocks the way they are - 3 billion pounds a year.

Now we know it is not all cod and that is where we get confused. Every time we talk fish in Newfoundland, people think it is cod. Shrimp is a very valuable fish stock; flounder, turbot, caplin, squid, herring; the last time I saw any squid in Conception Bay was 1980. There has not been enough squid in Conception Bay since 1980 to bait a trawl and that is because of two factors. Number one, the seal population, number two, the foreign fleets. Last year Canada gave Japan alone a quota of 132 million pounds of squid to be caught on the Georgian Banks and what the Japanese did not catch, the seals ate and we do not have any squid in Newfoundland. It used to be a way of life in the Fall, for the fishermen and their wives and their sons and daughters to earn money, for the sons and daughters to go to school, to go to university or whatever, catching squid in the fall of the year. It was a way of life for hundreds of years. It exists no more in the Province.

We are afraid to face up to why and what the real cause of the problem is. We are afraid to deal with it because we're afraid of the activist groups in Ontario or in some other part of the world, because they might get upset and they might put on a hate campaign, or they might put on a publicity campaign that will hurt the fish stocks. Hurt what fish stocks?

We have nine fish plants in the district of Port de Grave. Today there is not one fish plant open. That represents at least 1,500 to 1,700 people. The spin-off factor would be another 3,000 people. In other words, what I'm saying is if we used our brains and we realised about the affect it was having on the stock then we'd have done something about this five or ten years ago. I could have an extra 3,000 to 4,000 people working in my district. Multiply that times all the coastal communities around Newfoundland and Labrador. We would not have an unemployment rate.

Nevertheless we allowed it to happen over the years. We're all at fault. Not only Newfoundlanders, but all people in the world caused this problem. The belief in what was happening. The falsehoods spread by the animal rights groups. Now the issue comes down that the seal population has increased to such a magnitude, Mr. Speaker, the question is: what do we do?

Some will say - and sometimes I get angry and emotional enough to say it - let's go out and kill them. I realise that's the last resort. There are many things we have to do. My first question would be to the federal government. We have a possible industry swimming around our shores and we cannot even get support from the federal government of this country to go out and to promote and to develop a product - a very valuable meat food product - and we could have a plant here in this island canning that meat and saving millions of starving people in the world. Our own Marine Institute up here. How many people realise that our own Marine Institute have developed the seal meat into an additive food product, in white powder form? Because you have to realise that many people in the world cannot digest seal meat the same as Newfoundlanders and Atlantic Canadians and people from Russia.

Take the people dying over in the Third World countries, in Somalia, for example. If they can't digest the seal meat, and we've already developed this additive product that can be added to the food that they can digest, just think about the millions of lives it would save. The protein additive product. That's developed. That's not: maybe it is going to be done, that's not: maybe it will be done ten or fifteen years down the road. The fact is, it's done. But the political will is not there to do it.

I live in a fishing community. I enjoy the ocean. I was out this week in Conception Bay. I was amazed at the number of seals that are in Conception Bay this time of the year. I never saw it before in my lifetime. Conception Bay now is full of seals. They are on the Grand Banks, no matter where you go on the Grand Banks. I was talking to a fishing captain this week who was out on the Grand Banks, inside the 200-mile limit and out around, he said he never saw in his lifetime, the last year and this year, the number of seals that are out there. Talk to the foreign captains. They haul up their nets, and hundreds of seals are mixed up in with the fish in their nets. Never known before. The fact is the seals are an over-populated species. We have not had a hunt for the last eight years. If you don't have a hunt, the population is going to increase.

Now I just gave you some numbers which I used as an example. I'm going to quote you some numbers out of the Seals and Sealing in Canada: Report of the Royal Commission. Done in 1986. Just listen. I'm going to read you a short paragraph: seals consume large quantities of commercial fish in Canadian waters and consequently cause a reduction in the catches of fishermen. On the Atlantic coast roughly - just listen - roughly 5 million tons of a wide variety of fish are consumed.

Five million tons. That's a year. That was done in 1986 with the seal population then. Can you imagine how many million tons, with the increased population, the seals eat six years later - six years later? Nobody in this country is willing to deal with the seriousness of the problem. Everybody is saying: Oh, Efford, you do not know what you are talking about, the seals do not eat fish. Oh, Efford, the people are saying, you are going to create a disturbance and the animal rights groups are going to come on with a big publicity campaign. Go back in your shell and lie down. No, Mr. Speaker, I will not. I will not crawl under a rock, I will not do anything other than stand up for what I believe in. And the fact is, they can come out with all the scientific research they like, the fact is, Mr. Speaker, that we have a very serious problem.

I spoke yesterday to a Captain from Marystown who left yesterday afternoon and went out to the Grand Banks and prior to going out we had a conversation on the phone about a letter I had received, Mr. Speaker, about a letter I had received from a concerned person about the seals and the affect they were having on the stocks and listen to this: Dear Mr. Efford, I would like to help you in your efforts to show the affect that seals are having on cod fish, not only northern cod but the Grand Banks cod as well. Now I understand what he was saying, he said: Last winter while we were fishing on the Grand Bank's we filmed seals chasing the nets, as the nets came out of the water. And that is a common occurrence on the Grand Bank's but at the end of it was the thing that really surprised me, he did not sign his name. I do not know who he is. He wrote me a letter and he did not sign his name and this is what I am talking about, people are afraid.

AN HON. MEMBER: Of what?

MR. EFFORD: This gentleman is afraid, he is an employee of a fishing company and he is afraid of losing his job. Politicians are afraid of losing votes if they get the animal rights activists groups up against them. Somebody else is afraid of losing, we are all afraid and that tells exactly what is happening here, Mr. Speaker, that is telling us exactly. I talked to the head of FPI just two days ago. I asked him for the film that he has in his office on seals actually eating fish. He said no, John, I cannot give it to you. As much as I would like to give it to you, I cannot give it to you. He said everything you are saying is right but last year I made one comment in the public press about seals eating fish and two weeks later he told me he had in excess of 80,000 letters from across the world in his office. Devastating effect, 80,000 letters, that is what he said, that is what he told me. My question to him was: Sir, I understand you are afraid that you will not sell your fish products?.....if the seal population continues to devastate the stocks the way they are you will not have any fish products left to sell. He said: you are absolutely right, but I have to answer to my shareholders.

This is the problem that we are facing. This is exactly what is happening. We all admit that there are too many seals out there and yet Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who want to go out and kill a seal to eat, are not allowed. You are not able to get a licence to hunt a seal just to eat unless you held a seal licence for the last number of years. I have one, I always had one and I always will have one, and let me say this on record in the House of Assembly, licence or no licence, I would shoot them. I believe in this strong enough, I would shoot them. I do not think it is right for a Newfoundlander and Labradorian not to be able to kill a seal. There is something wrong, when they are destroying our very existence, and you want to go out and hunt a seal to eat, that you are not allowed to.

I had a letter from a person today who asked me to help them get a seal licence, I cannot help them, it is a federal law. We do not make the decisions here in the Province, the great people up in Ottawa, the bureaucrats decide that. You live in the community of Port de Grave or Summerford or Twillingate or some other small coastal community around Newfoundland where your father, your grandfather and your great-grandfather was allowed to go out and hunt a seal in the Fall of the year or in the Winter, because you wanted a nice flipper dinner, now it is not allowed.

So there are many, many problems, Mr. Speaker, with what is facing us but the thing is - now I want to speak to you today in my first twenty minutes, Mr. Speaker, to get the point across that we must first admit there is a real problem out there. One, we understand the seriousness of the problem the effect that the seal population is having on the fish stocks in our coastal communities, the fact that it will not allow the fish stocks to return as a renewable commercial resource, that is one of the major factors. When we admit that problem then hopefully we will just not be paying lip service to it, it will not be falling on deaf ears like it has for seven or eight years, then we will all take up the fight. When we all believe it is a major problem, when we all believe it is having a major affect on our fish stocks, then we will all get our energies together and we will strengthen the fight and do something about it in a proper, humane way. Not barbaric like the animal rights groups portray. Newfoundlanders were never like that. That was a total lie, that picture the other day, that was wrong.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. EFFORD: That is right. They are the people who were in the pictures. That was not a Newfoundlander in that picture. That person never, ever existed. Imagine a Newfoundlander going out back in the 1500 or 1600s with a baseball bat.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I suppose it is not a very pleasurable moment for me either. Being a Newfoundlander at heart and knowing what went on out there years ago and knowing the lies that were spread in the past eight or nine years, the only way you can describe it is despicable, so I rise today in support of the hon. Member for Port de Grave. The hon. Member for Port de Grave brought this resolution to the floor of this hon. House and rightly so. He comes from an area that I know quite well. In fact I knew a great number of people down there. They were good fishermen who years ago came out to Flat Rock, Pouch Cove, Torbay, and those places with the first long-liner that I had ever seen. I am talking specifically about the Pettens. They were from Hibbs Hole and at one time Uncle Abe built me a boat, a thirty foot trap skiff and it was a credit to him. Those were good fishermen and they plied their trade well. If the fish were not in Port de Grave they were not about to sit idly by home and let that be a part of their life. They went farther afield in search of the resource that was rightly theirs.

In many instances, too, Mr. Speaker, we talk about the fishery and what is going to happen to the fishery. People come every day and ask me what is the new fishery going to be? What are they talking about, a whole new fishery? Mr. Speaker, I would be less than truthful if I did not say: I do not know. I do not know really if the stocks can rejuvenate enough in the next couple of years to have any type of a fishery. I do not know. But I have to say to the hon. Member for Port de Grave that we, too, where I came from were deeply involved in the seal fishery. My father supplied a lot of the bats, the stabber poles and flag poles that went aboard the Bowring ships, even to the baskets that some of the hon. members here would not know anything about. They used baskets on those ships years ago to move the rocks from the hold. The ships were all loaded with rocks going out and when they killed the seals the rocks came out and the fat went back in the holds. They used those baskets. The reeds that you see on the sides of the river were taken and woven into baskets. People made a buck out of it even then so there are parts of that resource that today seem hidden.

If the seal hunt went on the same as it was years ago there would be many people employed, even in supplying the boats, if we had to retain the old seal fishery. Mr. Speaker, you might say, what do you know about it? Well, I spent three Springs to the ice as an ordinary sealer. I will not turn around, I will face up to reality and say I killed thousands. For the Brigitte Bardots and the Hot Lips Houlihans, those who are supplying the money to Green Peace and those other activists, it makes me sick. I am going to explain to the hon. House what a farce this is.

I went to the ice, and there is no way to kill a seal unless it is out. Can you take a knife that can take the hair from your arm or your hand, and have that knife in your hand, and that seal going mad on the ice? You would not be left with a finger. We used the gaffs, and I will tell you what the gaffs were made of. They either had to be dogwood or spruce. The gaffs were about six feet in length, with a gaff on the end. Everyone that ever saw any fishermen or any fishermen's boats have seen this gaff. It has a spear on the end, and the spear helped the sealers get over the ice. The round part of the spear used to help them travelling on the ice. Lots of time you had to haul pans toward you, or haul a seal out of the water or whatever. Those little seals was hit with that gaff. There was no way there was life in the seal. There might be life in the muscles of the body, but the seal itself was dead, and there is no other way you could skin the seal. You were not skinning one seal a day. You were doing, perhaps if you were good at it - and I suppose I was not bad - you could skin 125 a day. These were the amounts that we would do per day.

So as far as the inhumane -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Well perhaps the Minister of ITT would not know what I am talking about, and he should know, as the Minister of ITT. He should be responsive to whatever I am saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: I want to say to the hon. House, I do not want to be strayed away, because it is very important to me - very, very important to me - and very important to a great number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker that hunt, at that particular time, was in no way inhumane. Now I know that no matter how much I talk up here today, we are never going to see a whitecoat hunt again. I do not think we will - not in the foreseeable future. Not that there should not be, but we will not be allowed; and I have to agree with the hon. Member for Port de Grave saying that it is not because of the seal hunt; it is because of politics. The hunt was never inhumane. It was just the same as working at anything else.

I remember being down off Battle Harbour and we went into seals, hundreds of thousands of them. Yes, we killed the whitecoats; and someone asked me one day if I ever saw anything in the stomach of the whitecoat. No, because all the whitecoat ate or drank was milk from the mother seal, and lived then on the land.

What people do not understand is that when the whitecoats are born they are very, very small, and we often waited - we would go up to the seals and you would hear them all night long. A couple of people would go out and take in a seal and weight it, and the seal perhaps would be eighteen or twenty-two pounds or whatever. The skipper would say: No, they are too small. We will have to wait.

We often what they called 'burnt down'. We just stayed there and waited and the seals would grow - especially if you had a shower of rain or wet snow - the seals would grow unbelievably over a few hours. Then it was everyone out to try to get what seals they could; but I never did see anything inhumane on the ice floes. I never did, and I have to be truthful.

When we think about those people making money, we just do not seem to be able to get our message out. We do not seem to be able to explain to the people of the world. We do not have the money, it seems. We do not have the facilities at our hands to be able to get out and say: They are lying. They are telling lies.

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave said it right. Can you imagine a sealer from Newfoundland going out with those boots on? Or that suit on that he had? And with a baseball bat? It is erroneous. It is unbelievable. But there are people who have millions of dollars, don't know what they're going to do with their money, will look at the little seal that cries and say: this is where I'm going to put my money to protect that little seal. Why don't they protect the little calf? Why don't they go down to the abattoir and protect all the animals? Why don't they, like the hon. member said, go over some place and protect the other animals that are being killed?

They can't do it. Because you don't have the psychological affect the little seal has when he turns over on his back and starts to cry. When Noah and his ark, if we believe in the past, if we believe in what they said in the Bible, when Noah's ark left there were animals on board. Animals of all description for the welfare of the people. Here we are in Newfoundland - because I suppose we're so small in numbers - not being able to go out and kill the mammals that were put there for man's use and benefit. It happens nowhere else.

To see people unemployed now - not saying that the seal fishery would give full employment, no. It wouldn't. But it would subsidize, it would help the people who don't make that much money in the summers, or whatever, to be able to go out and go to the ice and apply themselves to this type of work. There's nothing wrong with it. Clean, good, hard work. Newfoundlanders were prone to that type of activity.

I was speaking to a fisherman today. Again, the hon. Member for Port de Grave brings up a good question. What do the seals eat? Seals eat fish. What else are they going to find in the water? I know that you find weeds and kelp and all this but I have never spoken to a fisherman - especially the fishermen who went after the old seal - who ever found any kelp or any weeds or anything in their stomachs. What they found was fish.

The other thing about it, is not alone do they find mid-water fish. I spoke to a gentleman today from Bauline. He told me last Spring over in Conception Bay that they brought ashore some seals. One seal had twenty herring in it. The other seal that they opened had five flounder. Now flounder is a bed of the ocean fish. Deep down. You see flounder just a few inches above the ocean floor. So that will tell you -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Yes. That will tell you that, Mr. Speaker, not alone do the seals eat the mid-water fish like the caplin, but they eat also the groundfish. The fish that we have, the bottom fish. Today even for the fishing boats to go after flounder they have to go farther and farther. That fishery is almost a thing of the past as well. So he also told me that, he said, there were numerous small fish in it. Tom cods. In one of the insides, when they opened the insides. Also caplin. He said: old caplin. Old rotten caplin were found in the intestines.

So what we're looking at is an overall way. We're looking at it with an overall picture in mind. I'm not sure - and like I say, I didn't see it when we were at the whitecoat hunt - but what I am saying, if all those seasoned, old, adult seals are out there, I'm positive, I'm sure, that if there was an investigation into what their eating habits are, certainly it would turn up that a great number of them eat a great amount of cod. There's no doubt at all about it.

I was also speaking to a gentleman who was out on the Virgin Rocks. He told me last year when he used to have the right to put down a few nets to catch tuna, they were also allowed to catch a few fish for bait. Mr. Speaker, he said there was nothing to it to catch 150 seals at a time; it was hard to get the nets down, there was such an abundance of seals. He said he never saw anything like it, they were just as thick as the codfish were a number of years ago out there. So, Mr. Speaker, what brings the seals to the Virgin Rocks? There is only one thing for which the Virgin Rocks were known and that was cod - fish, not turnips, not cabbage, it was fish. That is what the Virgin Rocks were known for and that is why those seals are there at the Virgin Rocks. It is because of what the seals prey on, and that is our fish.

Mr. Speaker, I brought in a resolution that never came before this hon. House. I brought in a resolution pertaining to seals and the way that I thought the industry could progress because I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, that we can ever go back again to the old seal fishery. Because those influential people do have the money to put up, to stop whatever they want to, that they think is discriminative, or whatever. Those are the people who have the money, and I am not sure if we can ever beat them, and go back to the old-time fishery.

But there is a fishery out there, a fishery of the older seals, that we can partake in, and it is viable. Mr. Speaker, what are we talking about? We are talking about the whitecoat; that is the only one they are against, the only one they can apply themselves to, the only one they can expound on, the only one they can put their money on; they are not worrying about the old seals. So, Mr. Speaker, why can't we have a seal fishery? Why can't we have a seal fishery?

Mr. Speaker, once the whitecoats go to the water - and I might add, for the hon. gentlemen across the way, for people who don't know, that when you were out there sealing for whitecoats, after the whitecoats grew, then you didn't want to see rain, you wanted a few fine days, because as soon as the whitecoats were wet, they went to the water, but as long as they remained dry, then they stayed where they were and were easy prey. So after they go to the water, you have beaters out there, you have bedlamers, you have the mature old harp and the mature hood, and I suppose the young hood would be the same as whitecoats, but the mature hood and, Mr. Speaker, if we don't eliminate some of them - there are eight million out there now, and if they are eating millions of pounds of fish and we don't do something about it, what is going to happen down the road? Everything we have is gone. I mean, our fishery is gone. They say there is nothing in the Gulf now, down on the Northeast Coast there is nothing. If the seals only contribute to 20 per cent of that decline, then that is enough for us to have a seal hunt; regulate it, Mr. Speaker. We are not taking about the whitecoats.

The other thing I am disappointed with - and I think the hon. the Member for Port de Grave will agree with me - I saw that advertisement in the Globe and Mail, we all saw it, a false thing right from the start. It didn't portray anything. There was no talk about a new seal hunt, as such. It was just a money-maker. Well, I am surprised and disappointed that the Premier of this Province, who gained some credence across this great country, when he was up there speaking about unity and Meech Lake and whatever, did not spend the $15,000 in buying a couple of pages in the Globe and Mail and just telling the Canadian people and the American people, to send their donations to a worthy cause.

We have all types of worthy causes out there. We have children starving to death; we have the AIDS problem; we have the cancer problem; we have the kidney problem, we have problems everywhere, so why couldn't the Premier do it? I think it would have served a great purpose. I think, having seen the Premier's signature at the bottom of those pages, people would start realising: This is not an issue. We are not going to send our money to those fanatics; we are not going to send our money to those liars. We are going to put our money - alright, if we want to donate for Christmas, we will send our money to a charitable organization that can help the people, that can help the children of the world.

I am at a loss as to why the Premier didn't do it. But then the Premier is the Premier and I guess, perhaps, he has his own feelings about it. I want to say to the hon. the Member for Port de Grave and to the rest of the House, as well, that in speaking to that fisherman from Conception Bay I was told they spent two nights out looking for herring this week. All they found was two-to-three-inch herring, perhaps four-inch, at the most - small herring that were no good to anyone.

It is funny. When the same fisherman opened the seal last spring down in Bauline he found twenty full-sized herring in the seal, but when he went out with all the technology that they have today - and he has a good boat; there were two of them out, in fact - and with all the technology they have they couldn't find one herring that wouldn't get caught in the seine, that would mash in the seine.

So, Mr. Speaker, there isn't much -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. PARSONS: Just to finish up?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: What did he say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I think, any Newfoundlander and Labradorian who has a feeling for this, and a feeling for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in general, could go on for hours and talk about this situation. I say to the hon. gentleman from Port de Grave, it is a good resolution. We can blame the feds and we can do what we like. I think that perhaps all of us, in some way, are to blame. I think we let it get out of hand in the first place. We were subdued, we were trodden on by the elite of this world, who have money and who can be convinced by sinister people that there is wrongdoing being perpetrated by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I say to the hon. House, with all sincerity, that it is a lie. There was nothing wrong with the seal fishery and it is too bad that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have to suffer because they are not able to participate in it.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMALL: Mr. Speaker, I guess it is very fitting today for me to rise and speak to this motion, being a sealer, I guess, for each and every year from 1972 up until 1991. I guess, I gained a bit of knowledge over those years in the sealing industry. The sealing issue has been a very emotional one since the early 1970s, at which time a great debate went on over the harvest of our whitecoat seals.

Delegations went all around the world. It started down in the U.S. first, because that was one of our largest markets for beater seal fur. A beater seal is a seal that is about eight weeks old. That resulted in the American Government bringing in a law against the import of all seal products into the U.S. Then it moved from there over to Great Britain and Europe. Now, some of the things that were said about our seal hunt, I have to agree with the animal rights group, were true. But a lot of the things that were said were very false.

Anyway, it ended up in the demise of our seal fur markets. They completely dried up. That continued until the early 1980s. Then, there was a battle going on between our inshore sealers and our offshore sealers. The allowable catch in those years, the early 1980s, was 160,000 seals. I think we had about six offshore vessels going out, and we had a very large number of inshore sealers going out in long-liners; but the allocation was divided up. There was 100,000 for the offshore ships, and there was 60,000 for all the landsman sealers, and in a very short time the landsman amount of quota was taken.

Then a battle developed between the inshore and the offshore, and I was one of the people who started to set up our Sealers Association. I was President of our Baie Verte Development Association,at that time, and it took us a year to put that conference in place; but during that year we lost our markets, and it developed into setting up our Canadian Sealers Association to try to save our seal hunt - to try to save what we had. We worked at that for years and years and continued to have a seal hunt. And we continue to have a seal hunt today, but it is a small-scale seal hunt, carried on only with the help of government funds.

We have about 60,000 sealskins now, in Ontario made into leather, and I, personally, have gone to all parts of the world with this seal leather. I have been in Hong Kong, I have been in Morocco, I have been in Germany.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have been everywhere.

MR. SMALL: I have been everywhere.

We took some sealskins over to Germany to have them made into fur, because the people over there were among those people who had the greatest experience with the development of seal fur. We had them tanned in Germany, and we didn't sell one sealskin in Germany. We had to bring them back to Baie Verte again, and the sealskins are now in storage in Baie Verte, and you just can't give them away.

We have been working with the Department of Fisheries, both levels of government - the Federal Government and the Newfoundland Government - and the Marine Institute, and we have done everything with seal meat that you could possibly think about doing. Last year we thought we had a market for seal meat over in Taiwan, and we bought a large quantity of seal meat, with government funds, and that seal meat sits today in Hong Kong and is not allowed to go into Taiwan, because when we went over there last year trying to develop a market, Greenpeace was there the next day and the papers were full of: Canada is starting up a large-scale seal hunt. And that seal meat sits today in Hong Kong, in storage, and is not allowed to go into Taiwan. So there is the problem. The markets are just not out there.

Now, whether there has been enough done, or enough funds have been committed to it, or the right people were involved in it - but we have a sealing company out in Dildo - a Norwegian company, Carino -and they were, I guess, one of the biggest markets for seals in the world. And it has come to the point today where they cannot even give away sealskins. With all the knowledge they have about the markets, and where to look for seal markets, they cannot give away the seal fur - the skins.

What I would like to say is, before we start up a large-scale seal hunt, we must develop our markets. Now, whether there has been enough done, that can be debated, but we must develop our markets. We must make seal meat into something that is not called seal meat, maybe. The Marine Institute and the University have made it into a powder, like John said, and maybe that can be used as an additive to the diet in Africa for the starving people.

What I am saying here today is that we have a problem with seals. I have seen them increase over the number of years that I have been sealing, and I have been out in boat where, when you got up in the spar, as far as the eye could see, there were seals everywhere on the ice. A number of years ago, you didn't see seals turning up until January, but they have increased in such large numbers that now they are arriving in October. You can go down to White Bay in the month of November now and there are herds upon herds of them.

So, they have increased, and then they multiply, and it goes on, and if we don't develop a market, we have a very serious problem. Something must be done to curb the imbalance in the system. Sealing needs to be promoted.

Now, you talk about seals eating fish - during my years, I have seen a lot of fish in seals, different kinds of fish. I remember killing a seal one morning in April and I took 108 caplin out of one seal, besides the ones that were partially digested. I have that on video up at the Marine Institute. The figures that 'John' was talking may be a bit high, in my view, but I think there are around 6 million seals now. Now, there is a period in the year when seals do not eat any food. From March up until the end of May the seals mostly spend their time on the ice molting. They starve themselves down and there is not enough blubber left on the seals to keep them afloat when you shoot them. So, there is a period when they eat very little food, but for the rest of the year they must eat food in order to stay alive, and it is fish. I have seen them come up in the middle of the winter in White Bay, flicking a live turbot in their mouth.

We have been gillnetting in Labrador in the month of August when the hood seals have been around. Now, a hood seal goes in much deeper water than the harp seal and they feed mostly on turbot, and we have taken turbot out of the seals in August. So, they are eating a lot of fish.

At this time of year, when our seal herds move up from the North, there is a small fish that moves up with them called Arctic cod and, to my knowledge, I don't think that fish ever grows any more than that. You can go down to Wild Cove, now, where I live, and see that stuff in schools around the wharves. Now, whether the seals feed on that all summer-long when they move up North, I don't know, but I know, when the seals move up, that little fish comes, too. So, I think that is one of their diets. Maybe that is enough talk about what seals eat.

What bothers me most is what I saw in our Newfoundland newspapers last week, two full pages leading people to believe that we were going to kill 500,000 seals this year. There were never 500,000 seals killed since I have been old enough to remember. There won't be 100,000 whitecoats killed this year and there won't be 1,000 whitecoat seals killed, because it is illegal today to kill whitecoat seals. Still, for all that, some people can use our Newfoundland papers, that our school children read, to say that this year there may be 500,000 baby seals taken in Newfoundland. Now, there must be some laws in our land that can stop that kind of thing from going on. I mean, there must be some laws. If I were to go out tomorrow and say that 'Rick Woodford' over there, was going to kill 500,000 seals this year, 'Rick' could take me to court the next day, because that would be wrong. So, what I am saying to the world - it is a very emotional subject - but I think we can tell the people of Canada and the world, the truth, just tell them the truth, that there will not be any whitecoat seals taken this year, it is illegal. I think we can tell the truth to the world, and don't let Newfoundlanders be portrayed as barbarians. That's one thing we can do. But the other thing, I think both levels of government, if they're going to do it, they have to commit a large amount of money in order to develop our seal fishery. When you say it, you have to be prepared to do it. We can't have a seal harvest now unless there's a large subsidy. Because it's very costly to go out and kill seals, it's very time-consuming, and you need a lot of money to do it. So if we're going to develop our seal fishery first we have to develop our markets. Then we have to be prepared to put some dollars there to harvest the seals.

So I'm going to finish up now and agree with John that we have a very serious problem and we must tell the world that these are lies that those people are telling. Just tell them the truth. We don't want to go on any big campaign getting them all worked up, because we saw it in the 'seventies when we fought it all over the world. It didn't work. We lost. We lost our markets down in the US, we lost them over in Europe, we lost them in Britain. Because it was an emotional thing.

We just have to tell them the truth. The truth prevails at all times. So I'm going to say to our governments, both levels of government: make up your mind. If we want to continue our seal hunt we have to make up our minds to do it, and put some dollars where our mouth is. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains and the hon. the Opposition House Leader rose at the same time. I presume the hon. the Opposition House Leader is going to speak?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: What's that? No, it's just that we have so many who want to speak on this. If the member has a commitment outside the building and if he really wanted to speak I would have given leave to him to go. He can have five minutes of my twenty.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate my hon. colleague for Grand Bank giving me five minutes. I hope I will not be any more than five minutes.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. WARREN: I want to say, Mr. Speaker, and I don't want to be interrupted by the young man from Eagle River, because this is too important an issue to be interrupted. I want to give credit to the Member for Port de Grave for bringing this resolution forward. I want to also say that I'm surprised that the Minister of Fisheries, who sat in the opposition a number of years ago, who demanded the government do something about our seal fishery, and as soon as the minister got in government he hasn't done one thing.


MR. WARREN: The Minister of Fisheries. The present Minister of Fisheries hasn't done one thing to address this seal problem that we have in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you talking about?

MR. WARREN: Hasn't done one thing, Mr. Speaker. I say to my hon. colleague for Port de Grave, it's high time - it's time in fact, we as the elected members in this Legislature, should be much more vocal than we are. There are only just two or three saying anything. We should be much more vocal than we are. The Member for Exploits hasn't said one thing yet in the last four years. He hasn't said one thing about the seal fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WARREN: Exactly, Mr. Speaker. There's a minister in the Cabinet who's not going to say anything about it. He's not going to say anything about it.

I want to say something else. We're talking about how serious the seal population is. Up in my district now, up in my district this past summer, the seals were as far as a mile up in the rivers. The seals were up in the rivers after the salmon and char. Not only is it destroying our codfishery and other species, but now one of the lucrative fisheries on the Labrador coast is being destroyed because the seals are so plentiful.

We can do more than just have a small cull. I think the time has come for us to tackle this head on, tackle those advisory groups who are out there preaching propaganda. For some reason the media gets all sucked in with it, they get all taken in with it and at the same time all kind of money is being spent by these groups to promote this particular undertaking by Greenpeace and by animal rights groups. I just want to go on record, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people on the Labrador Coast. They want to see this seal problem attacked head-on I say to my hon. colleague for Port de Grave. I fully support what he is doing today. It is unfortunate and maybe time will not allow us today to get ministers of Cabinet to stand up and speak. I think the Minister of Fisheries should have been here, and if not some one else from Cabinet should get up and really put some teeth to what the member is asking for. We should join forces because this is going to affect not only fishermen and fish plant workers but everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador. Everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador is going to be hurt and it has been continuing now for the last nine or ten years.

I believe my hon. colleague can remember back probably seven or eight years ago when there was a big picture. K-tel Products came out with a stuffed seal for a Christmas toy. I think we can all remember that. In fact at the same time I got a front page headline with a picture of a seal there, where I was condemning the action taken by K-tel for having a stuffed seal for Christmas and showing the barbaric nature of what was happening. I want to say to my friend for Grand Bank who has some wise remarks to make, as he always does, that we ought to get together on this issue. I just listened to my hon. colleague for Baie Verte and my friend for St. John's East Extern who I am sure know more about the seal fishery than all of us here combined. I say to my hon. colleagues that the gentleman has been off sealing. He has been involved with it since he was sixteen years old and I say we can all learn a lesson from a gentleman with such calibre as the Member for St. John's East Extern.

I support the motion. I congratulate the member for bringing it forward and hopefully this government will act in a wise and prudent manner.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

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

I am pleased to rise and speak as well to the resolution brought forward by the Member for Port de Grave. Similar resolutions have been brought to the floor of the Legislature before and I guess vigorously debated. I just want to make reference before I start to the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay who had a resolution as well before on the seal fishery, that was inadvertently left off the Order Paper. The clerk is now taking care of that but I want to recognize the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay for having put forward a motion back in March, I guess, that was left off. I guess it was much along the same lines as the one from the Member for Port de Grave.

There is a fair bit of concern amongst members in the Legislature about the impact that the seal population is having on our fish resources, I guess, which is better than saying our cod stocks. It is quite interesting to see the kerfuffle that developed within the last two weeks by the International Fund for Animal Welfare with the advertising campaign that they took up. They thought there were some high profile people in the Province that were promoting a seal hunt. They indeed singled out the Member for Port de Grave for doing that. They put the blame on him and said that was the reason they had undertaken the advertising campaign. I do not tend to agree with them on that. Yes, the Member for Port de Grave has made some statements about it but other people in the Province have made some statements about it. It is a concern for all of us who have any concern for the Newfoundland fishing industry, who have any concern for the people employed, or were employed in the Newfoundland fishing industry. We are all concerned about various factors that have caused a decline in our fish resources.

It's been very popular you know, Mr. Speaker, to blame the foreigners. No doubt the foreigners have a lot of blame to share and to take. But it has not all been foreigners. Our own domestic fleets, both offshore and inshore, have caused some of the problems with our fish resources. It's so popular in times of crisis and in times when your own people are doing bad to attack someone from outside your Province or outside the country, and we're talking foreigners.

So I say, I know. I come from an area where we have a mixed fishery. We have relied on the deep-sea fishery for years. We are the part of the Province that pioneered it. A technology that has been called into question by many people, the impact of trawler fishing. But a lot of damage as well has been done by some of the gear and the technology used by inshore. So we're all part of the blame as to why we're today in 1992 so concerned about our Province's most traditional and historic industry, the industry that has the biggest impact upon the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. So I think we all have to take part of the blame as to where we are today.

Then we've got to look at solutions to remedy the problem, to hopefully regenerate our fish stocks. There is no doubt in my mind that seals have impacted negatively upon our fish resources. Seals, as other members have said, and I listened very closely to all three members, particularly the Members for St. John's East Extern and Baie Verte - White Bay, who have been active sealers. They have been involved in the industry. Like anything else, you learn most about it through experience, by being involved in it.

It's fine for me to have my opinions about something that I haven't been involved in. I can read about it, I can listen to others. You learn most from being involved in something directly yourself. That's why I listened so closely to both gentlemen. I enjoyed what they had to say because it's first-hand experience.

As I was saying, there's no doubt in my mind that seals are certainly a significant contributing factor to the decline in our fish resources. Why I use the word fish resources, is because as the Member for Port de Grave said, there's a big debate, and there's money being spent now, looking upon, researching about the diet of seals. What do they eat. There are those who say they eat a lot of cod, there are those who say they don't eat very much cod. There are those who say they eat caplin, there are those who say they eat turbot, there are those who say they eat shrimp, and on it goes. But there's one thing that if you look at everything that's been researched or written or said about it is that seals eat fish of some species.

They either eat cod - whether it's a scattered bite here or there - they eat caplin, they eat shrimp, they eat (inaudible) I believe it is. There's a number of species of fish that seals eat which are part of the food chain which members have alluded to. If you take pieces out of the food chain it's like taking a link out of the chain on a bike. It comes apart, and the bike doesn't go. You can't ride the bike without the chain. It hooks on the sprocket and it all works. So if you take pieces out of the food chain it has to impact somewhere negatively. I think that's really what's happening. That's one of the things that's happening with the seal population.

They are either eating cod, which I believe - we all know they're consuming some cod. How much is debatable. But they are consuming other species that cod feed on, so that is like an undernourished child. It doesn't grow and mature to the stage where it can reproduce or spawn so it's having the same affect upon our cod stocks. So yes, I believe sincerely that seals are eating fish resources. They are impacting very negatively upon our fishing industry.

The big question is: what do we do about it? It's a big debate. I think there has to be some way found to diminish, to decrease, the seal population. There has to be some way, sensible way found, as the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay has said. You can't go out there and wholesale slaughter and get everything all out of whack. There are days and then there are moments when I say to myself, when perhaps my better judgement evades me, when I say; why don't the federal and provincial governments hire a couple of boats on the quiet or get the armed forces, or why don't they go out and unknowingly to anybody - hopefully unknowingly to anybody - make away with some of those seals? But then I come back to reality, I come back to what the implications of what would be left of our fishing industry would be if such a thing happened, if people found out about it and it went worldwide. I think it is important that we keep whatever is left of our fishing industry today.

There are those who are promoting shutting down the entire Newfoundland fishery. I concur with shutting down, say, the Gulf or the southwest coast fishery. I concur with shutting down some areas, yes. But to eliminate the total fishery, I think - looking at what is happening in this Province right now with the anticipated mini-Budget within a few days, can you imagine what a crisis, financial and economic, we would be in in this Province if our fishery was shut down in its entirety. We would have to leave. We would have to pack up and leave this Province, because there is nobody going to bring in enough aid packages to keep us all going. It is important that what is left of our fishery, that is not further damaging stocks or that stocks can sustain, that we keep it going. I guess one of the few small motors left in the Newfoundland economy is the bit of the fishery that is left.

We have to find a way, I say, Mr. Speaker, to get back to a state where our fishery can recover, where thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can be employed in the harvesting of fish and in the processing of fish. There is no question, something has to be done with the seal population.

Mr. Speaker, looking at the member for Port de Grave's resolution where he says, "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly condemns the falsehoods" - this is very important, I think and it is something that I raised a week or two weeks ago - "that this House of Assembly condemns the falsehoods being spread by the animal rights extremists and supports the resumption of an environmentally sustainable seal harvest off the coast of this Province." Now that, to me, seems very reasonable and that is why I asked the Minister of Fisheries last week - I think it was last week - if the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador was going to in any way develop a campaign to counter the falsehoods that the member for Port de Grave raises, the falsehoods being spread by the IFAW, because that is what it was. It wasn't true, they were falsehoods.

Now, again you have an argument. Does the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador read these ads, know they are false and say: Well, I really didn't see that. I know it is false, but I really didn't see it and we are better off keeping our mouths shut, or do we undertake, initiate, an advertising campaign to counter some of it? I thought the member for Baie Verte - White Bay made a very good point. I think he said, both governments should tell the truth and stick to the truth, give the facts. Give the facts is what the member said, and I think that is important.

I was disappointed last week when the Minister of Fisheries - and I went to the Premier afterwards - I was disappointed that they didn't even seem to seriously consider undertaking a campaign to counter some of these falsehoods that are being spread by the animal rights activists. Because, as I said then, if you can't count on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the government most responsible and closest to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to take action to counter falsehoods that are being spread by this group, that are impacting so negatively upon our most important industry, and consequently -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: What is wrong? There is a disturbance on the other side. I have a job to recognize it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, someone needs to counter it. I say to the member for Port de Grave that I think the House of Assembly should condemn the falsehoods. We, as elected members of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, should certainly condemn it. As well, I can support, without any reservation, the resumption of an environmentally sustainable seal harvest.

MR. ROBERTS: That is the key word, sustainable.

MR. MATTHEWS: Certainly it is the key word, and that is why it is worded the way it is. I have no doubt why the member worded his resolution the way he did, "Environmentally sustainable seal harvest off the coast." Going back to what the member for Baie Verte - White Bay said: He said that he had some problems with some of the things that happened in the past that were relayed to the world that he himself had concerns about. Here is a man who was involved in it himself. So I respect that, moreso than I would for most members, I respect what he had to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: He gave a great speech.

MR. MATTHEWS: He did. It was an excellent speech.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Well I was here listening to him and watching him. He made a good speech.

Having said that, those are the concerns that I have about it. I commend the Member for Port de Grave for bringing it forward. I commend the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay for having put a similar motion forward before. We are delighted to have the chance to debate it.

You see, what happens to most Private Members' Resolutions is that they come here and they are debated, and the people who take part in them, for the most part, are very sincere about it. They are concerned about it. The Member for Port de Grave is concerned about it. The Member for St. John's East Extern; the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay; I am concerned about it. There are others who are concerned about it who maybe will not get a chance to speak, but once we finish today, that is where it stops. That is where it stops, and all I am saying is that I hope - because the Member for Port de Grave calls upon the House of Assembly - all fifty-two members of us here - to condemn the falsehoods that are being spread.

I want to join with him in calling upon the House of Assembly to do that. I think we should. Someone should send out a message after this, by the way, from this House of Assembly - we should not let it stop here - and say that we do not agree with the advertising undertaken by the IFAW. It does not seem like anyone else is going to take up the cause. So as a House who really controls its own destiny and that, I think really we should send out a message from this Legislature that we do not take too kindly to that kind of falsehoods being spread about Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and about the way we behave and so on. I think we should take it up. I commend the member for bringing it forward, and I tell him that I strongly, strongly, strongly support his resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I rise as well to support the resolution so ably presented by my colleague from Port de Grave. I think it is a very timely resolution, especially in light of some of the activities we have seen in recent days from the animal rights people - advertising campaigns that in most cases, as the Premier has pointed out, are fraudulent, and obviously geared with a view to raising money for their own use rather than protecting the seal population.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt whatever about it, in the minds of most reasonable people, that the exploding seal population is having a very detrimental effect on the cod stocks and other species in our waters.

The harp seal diet, we are told, consists of twenty-seven species of fish. Caplin is the main food source, accounting for about 35 per cent of their intake. Based on the current population statistics it is estimated that the seal herds consume 1.9 million tons, or 3.8 billion pounds, of harvestable seafood a year. I repeat, Mr. Speaker, based on the best statistics available, and this has been supported by certain scientific research, for example done in Iceland, where in my view at least, their research capabilities far exceed those of Canada, and they have estimated that the five seal species around the world, in the North, Northwest, Atlantic, consume approximately 1.9 million tons of harvestable fish per year. Mr. Speaker, we all know, as a Province, what we could do with that kind of volume.

It is known, Mr. Speaker, as well that the harp seals normally spend four to five months a year in the NAFO areas, 2J+3KL and 3 No of course which are waters adjacent to the Labrador Coast and to the coast of Newfoundland. They spend three or four months of the year congregating in that area, and given the estimates of reduced caplin stocks in the 2J+3K area, it is apparent that the seal herd prey upon cod and other species even more significantly now than what they did in past years.

I am amused when I hear Canadian scientists report their findings on studies they have undertaken into the diet of seals when they say - in fact I was in Fredericton, New Brunswick, last week to a ministers' meeting and it came to light there that they cannot seem to find very much cod in the stomachs of seals. Well of course the reason is obvious. We cannot find cod either. Our fish plants are closing because there is no cod, so the fact that there is not to much cod maybe in their stomach's speaks for itself, the cod just are not there even for the seal's to catch.

It is becoming obvious too, Mr. Speaker, that the seals presence in our waters are now taking on longer periods and it is increasing rapidly. Mr. Speaker, in order to gradually accelerate the growth of the annual seal hunt efforts are being undertaken through product development, market research initiatives by our department and by the University, by the Marine Institute and the federal government, this will eventually result in necessary expansion of the hunt - efforts to satisfy market demands. A lot of effort is being put into finding, seeking out new ways of better utilizing the animal and to that I might add, Mr. Speaker, that it is the belief of our department and people who are engaged in the seal industry that Canada must find a market for the entire animal. Then and only then will we be able to properly prosecute the fishery without interference from the animal rights and other such organizations.

Our work, Mr. Speaker, in recent years and months have included efforts in marketing seal meat in Taiwan, Japan and mainland China and other Asian centres. Ongoing research into seal meat oil and blubber constituents continues as well as efforts toward the preparation of animal feed products from lower grade materials and by-products. The scientific research which has been accomplished has been extremely positive and technical efforts are being used as promotional aides in marketing initiatives in the Far East.

Ongoing efforts for example, Mr. Speaker, in leather research and marketing coordinated through Northern Research Development Corporation, especially in the Asian marketplace appears to have great potential. I know for a fact that a number of companies with strong Newfoundland connections are now in the process of identifying markets for example in Japan for seals where they have undertaken certain market studies and there appears to be at least signs of a good market development for seal oil which, from what I am told, contains certain very valuable medicinal properties, I think it is called 3M or Omega oil. Which is supposed to be a good preventive for cholesterol and other such heart problems.

I am told as well, Mr. Speaker, that the University through the efforts of the research department there, have identified areas where maybe meat products can be developed that would more than likely find their way into the third world countries and other Asian countries. So, Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that given a chance the seal industry in Newfoundland can, I believe, become a very lucrative industry. It is going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of cooperation on the part of all sectors of the industry and both governments but I believe once we do that then we will be on our way to realizing the true potential of the seal.

Let me for a moment, Mr. Speaker, outline some of the initiatives taken by my departments over the past year or two. Since 1988 for example approximately $4.2 million have been spent by the government to promote the sealing industry. Seventeen products were initiated during 1992, a total commitment from the Province in that regard was $910,000 almost $1 million and I think the federal government contributed a like amount so altogether last year -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. CARTER: Pardon? Last year as you may recall, even though there is a TAC of 186,000 seals, last year the landsmen hunt in northern Newfoundland accounted for a harvest amounting to roughly 60,000 seals. Unfortunately, we have not had as much success with the leather as we had hoped but again that is no fault of ours and no fault of the sealers but it appears that the market for seal leather right now is not very good, consequently a lot of the pelts that resulted from the harvest last year are still in storage waiting for a market, but hopefully, Mr. Speaker, before too long a market will be found. It might be of interest, Mr. Speaker, to point out by the way, that the chairs on which we sit in this House, the leather is that of seal skin, and I do not think anybody can doubt or question the high quality of seal leather once you have witnessed what it has done for the chairs in this Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, emphasis on project work was complete utilization of the animal including by-products such as organs, oil et cetera, and that is something else we have to find ways and means of ensuring, that all parts of the seal are utilized. For example: Greenpeace or some other animal rights group might find it easy to boycott or picket a plant that is manufacturing seal fur for maybe clothing for wealthy debutantes in other parts of the world, but if a factory were established developing meat for the starving of the world, then I am afraid that their efforts in that regard would not be too successful and I think that is what we have to do. I doubt very much if Canada and Newfoundland could ever successfully launch a cull as such, or promote maybe a wholesale slaughter without some end benefit to be derived from such a slaughter, and that is why I think it is necessary that every effort be made by both governments and by the industry to identify means of utilizing the animal and finding ways that it can be properly utilized.

Last Friday, I met with the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Fredericton. My Atlantic Provinces counterparts and I met with the minister, and I might tell you that a considerable discussion ensued on the seal problem and it was agreed at the previous evening when we met - just the ministers without the presence of the federal minister - it was agreed that the Atlantic Provinces would launch an all out campaign with the federal government to encourage more research, greater effort in terms of developing markets and other such things to encourage an increased seal harvest, given the fact as I said a moment ago, large quantities of seals are now existing out there eating substantial quantities of sea food of one sort or another.

We met with the minister on Friday and my colleague from New Brunswick led the charge as it were, and he suggested to the federal minister that something would have to be done, that the Atlantic Provinces were literally being eaten out of house and home by this exploding seal population, and of course, all of the other ministers agreed. It was agreed then that there would be a committee struck, made up of our senior officials and deputies and that they would pursue the matter and just see to what extent the federal government can increase, maybe put on a faster track, fast track some research into marketing and product utilization and so on. So, Mr. Speaker, while we are not moving ahead as fast as any of us would like to have us move ahead, I think we are slowly but surely getting there, but it is going to take a long, long time and given the fact that my friend for Fogo shakes his head and I know what he is thinking: the seal population is increasing by about 500,000 animals per year and a harvest of 60,000 animals is not even making a dent in the exploding population, so something has to be done. But I think our job is to find ways and means of doing it in a way that will be at least acceptable to the rest of the world.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: I beg your pardon?

MR. WINSOR: How come you market every other specie of fish in the water and you cannot market seals?

MR. CARTER: I do not know. I personally like seal meat and I like flippers and I think a lot of other people do likewise. Mr. Speaker, I had, maybe the misfortune or the good fortune, however you want to look at it, of being engaged in a campaign back in the 70s when the government of the day launched an all-out attack on the environmentalists who were trying to kill the very lucrative Newfoundland seal fishery. We had two teams in fact and I led the team that visited Canadian and American cities, and another minister led the team that visited cities in Europe. I must say in retrospect I believe now that we probably did more harm to the seal fishery, and gave more comfort to those who set out to destroy the fishing industry than anything else we could have done.

Let me tell you what would happen, Mr. Speaker, if I could have the member's attention. It is difficult to speak when you are not being listened to. We would go to a city like Boston, having sent an advanced team along we would have prepared very well organized press conferences where the people were invited to come and listen to what I had to say and what others had to say. I remember Morrissey Johnson, a well know Newfoundland sealing captain, was part of that escapade. We had another gentleman with us, Joe Gillies, who is a world known oceanographer and who has achieved certain acclaim in recent years. We had a gentleman there from a university in central Canada, Tom Hughes, who is I believe President of the Canadian SPCA or the national SPCA body. We would arrive in Boston and proceed to make our pitch and it would go very well. We would have national news people there from all over.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)

MR. CARTER: I was. We were well attended. People came from all sectors. We had press there from all over that city, whatever city we were in. It was well publicized and we had a lot of advance notice. I would get up and start getting very emotional talking about my father who spent the best part of his life prosecuting the seal fishery, what a gentle man he was and how he would not kill a fly, therefore I would have to take it that in killing a seal he did it in the most humane way possible. We would make a strong pitch based on the importance of the seal fishery to the Newfoundland economy and, of course, the need to keep the seals at a certain level, and we would be pretty well convinced that we were getting somewhere.

The scribes were there making notes and the newsmen were there pushing microphones in our face. They were very sympathetic, nodding their heads, giving us the occasional wink, and patting us on the back as if we were conquering heroes, but lo and behold before the meeting would end, before we would get a chance to get out of that hall and for the press to get back to their respective news rooms and report on what was said, some little old lady in the back with probably a leather coat on, pigskin gloves, kid leather shoes, an allegator handbag, and who probably had liver for lunch would stand up and would say: you are nothing but a bunch of barbarians. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Then, of course, the cameras would focus off us, we would be lost, and they would focus on her. That would then encourage somebody else to get up and the end result was we would get a very small, maybe two or three lines, and the people who knew how to get the headlines, who knew what to say to generate the kind of response they wanted from the press, that would be the headline. 'Lady accuses Newfoundlanders of being barbarians,' or something like that.

I recall very well when we went to the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, Morrissey Johnson and I, and we had what we thought was a good meeting. We had the press there and a large number of the do-gooders turned up, little old ladies with their umbrellas and walking sticks, and I can tell you that both Captain Johnson and I were lucky to come out of that with our heads still on our shoulders because they came after us. I will never forget the sight of my dear old friend Morrissey running through the lobby of the Royal York Hotel trying to protect himself against an army of women chasing him with walking sticks and umbrellas. So it makes you wonder sometimes just how effective can a campaign be, or can a countercampaign be.

I notice the -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: I am sorry. I did not hear.

MR. TOBIN: Newfoundlanders have to start (inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Well, you know, maybe; but I have often thought maybe we should identify the most ardent seal lovers in the United States and Canada, and those that have swimming pools in the back garden, and we should get a live seal and some night just go up and give them a pet. If they think so highly of seals, let them show it. Maybe an old harp or an old hood in a swimming pool might be food for thought. It might be food for thought.

Mr. Speaker, quite seriously, the cries from the opposition and my good friend, the House Leader on the other side, the day that the Globe and Mail carried the two full page ads, when he asked me what steps we were going to take to counteract that bad publicity. I said to him then that I am not sure that it would work, and I repeat that because the experience that we have had -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: I do not think we can afford to do it, quite frankly.

AN HON. MEMBER: We cannot afford not to do it.

MR. CARTER: Well the experience of the past proves that maybe we cannot afford - not only because it is going to cost a lot of money - but I am not sure it is going to have the right effect. In fact, it might very well have the opposite effect.

I know that almost every city that we visited in those years, when we left I think that we probably had done more harm to the seal fishery than what we did before we arrived, because the headlines carried the stories that came from the protesters and not from those of us who were there trying to set the record straight. So it was a very interesting experience, and one that I do not think I would want to see repeated, quite frankly.

Now maybe there is an answer. Maybe there is a way we can do it that would maybe eliminate some of the protests that you would normally get, and maybe get more focus on the real issue.

So, Mr. Speaker, while I support the petition I do believe that we have to take whatever steps are necessary to increase the seal harvest. I think we have to do it in a way that will attract as little attention as possible from the international community.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to join with other hon. members in the support of this resolution. We have, I suppose, what is at this stage of the game almost a motherhood resolution in this Province. It has been supported by all three parties in this Province for some years and I guess I probably have more respect for the resolution put forth by the hon. Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, which was inadvertently left out of the motions in the Order Paper in the preceding weeks.

I want to congratulate the Member for Baie Verte for his most thoughtful and excellent speech given in the House on the issue of the seal fishery, and outlining the real problems that we have today in the seal fishery - not so much as our inability to catch the seal, but out inability to do something with it once we have caught it, because we all know that the real problem here is: What are we going to do with the seals once they are killed? The hon. member spoke of them sitting in warehouses, of bringing back sealskins from Germany after not having sold one.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it clear that the New Democratic Party, both provincially and nationally, supports the seal fishery and supports efforts by government to ensure that the seal fishery is viable and effective.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I will read from a resolution passed at the NDP convention in Montreal in 1987 which says: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the NDP - and this is in response to the Malouf Commission Report - supports the principles established by the commission, in particular the compensation program, and a sealing fishery development fund; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED - and this is important, Mr. Speaker, in the context of what the hon. member for Baie Verte - White Bay was saying - that all other necessary steps be taken to ensure that all further appropriate resources and support from government be made to establish a viable seal fishery on a sound economic basis. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is what we need. We need some details as to how we are going to do that, not the kind of emotional claptrap that we hear from time to time on the sealing industry.

The Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, talked sincerely about the problems about his involvement with the fishery and what is needed to be done and his motion deals with that very thing. What we have to do, is develop the industry through a program aimed at full utilization of the resource and also to use all scientific technology to find better uses for that support and also, Mr. Speaker, find more uses for seal products and also to join with the Province and the federal government to try and develop and implement a comprehensive program to expand the market opportunities.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what more could you want than a decent motion that would provide some real answers and real solutions, and the Minister of Fisheries spoke to them as well. It is not good enough just to say that we have to have a seal fishery, we all agree with that, that is motherhood in this Province and I am really surprised at the Member for Port de Grave, who would think that he could actually raise some political heat for himself on a motherhood issue in the Province of Newfoundland.

I would much rather be debating here today, the resolution from the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, because it provides some direction; some sensible approach and not just the kind of stuff that the Member for Port de Grave is getting on with, luring the IFAW into putting these million dollar ad campaigns out, trying to provoke more hatred for the people of this Province instead of doing something constructive, like the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay has, in presenting an opportunity to actually develop the industry, to find markets to sell this product, to convince people that there are good things to come from the seal fishery, such as the chairs which we are sitting on in here, the leather that is produced, to find ways of marketing this product. That is what we need, Mr. Speaker. We need to have honest programs, we need to have sensible programs, we need to put money into developing this resource, not just into the kind of emotionalism that the Member for Port de Grave is getting on with.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I support the resolution and I think it is a good resolution; we all should support it but it is a motherhood resolution -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave on a point of order.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

When the Speaker rises, the members are supposed to sit.

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I attempted previously on a point of order, a minute or so ago, to try to bring attention to the hon. Speaker, that the hon. member's time was up because I have twenty minutes left in order to clue up my remarks, and that was my point of order.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you. I just wondered if the hon. members Opposite would give me leave to continue my speech?


MR. SPEAKER: On the same point of order or a different -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, well I just ruled on that point of order. I do not think the hon. Member for St. John's East has leave of the House.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: It is a new point of order. I am just wondering, since the Member for St. John's East is in full flight, it is one of the few times we have seen him that way in this Legislature, I am wondering if members opposite, particularly the Member for Port de Grave, would grant the member a few minutes leave to conclude his remarks?

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, it is such a rare sight to see the Member for St. John's East in full flight; we are overwhelmed, we simply could not possible agree to it. We have to recover from the shock of seeing him actually say something.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order, it being 4:41, I recognize the hon. Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I had not intended to be distracted from the actual motion that I have presented this afternoon and I am not going to allow my temper to distract me, but I have to make a remark about the hon. Member for St. John's East. His term in office in Ottawa, federal representative of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's East, on not one occasion - and I have all copies here of his speaking in the House, his questions on fishery, on not one occasion, during his term in Ottawa did he ever once mention the seal population or what to do about it in Newfoundland, and that, Mr. Speaker, brings me to my closing remarks, why we have a problem in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, why we have an increasing seal population, why we have no fish stocks and why we're headed for a devastating future in the commercial fishing industry, the pure example of that is what's sitting down there in the corner representing Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for St. John's East.

I was listening to all the speakers here this afternoon, all the speakers. I was saying to myself as one of the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern and the hon. Member for Grand Bank spoke about, that this is not the first time a resolution has been presented to the hon. House of Assembly on the seal population and the problems with the seals. I looked around and if there were three people listening to the speaker, the Minister of Fisheries or whoever spoke, the Member for Baie Verte, there was 10,000. And there's your problem.

Although we have one of the most major problems that ever affected the people of Newfoundland and Labrador we are still ourselves the main cause of the problem not being solved. We sit in the House of Assembly and we put a motion on the floor, and all we're doing is paying lip service. Where will it go after this hon. House closes at 5:00 this afternoon? It will be a piece of paper with a few strokes of the ink pen and that's where it stays. It's not the first time and it's not going to be the last time.

I'm sure the hon. Member for Baie Verte will at some time in the future, the near future, get the opportunity to put his on. We'll go through the same motions, the useless motions, as we are going through here today. What are we going to do about it? We have 100,000 people unemployed in this Province. We have a government of the day that's trying to come up with solutions and bring in new industry and new technology from some part of the world to create jobs. We are facing one of the worst financial positions that this Province has ever faced in the past and probably will ever face again in the future - unless something is done.

Here we are, sitting down in this House of Assembly, debating the fact - we have 8 million seals, we have 6 million seals. When are we going to develop food markets? When are we going to look into it? Are we going to have more studies? Are we going to believe what the scientists say - they don't eat fish? Whether we're going to employ more people in research? Then we heard it from the lips of the Member for St. John's East: let's have another study.

While we are studying whether the numbers are exactly what I quoted, or the Member for Baie Verte quoted, whether we develop food markets or whether we don't, the fact is the seals are there and the fish are disappearing. The fish are disappearing at such an alarming rate it's unimaginable to understand it. Look around this hon. House of Assembly and there is the reason. We can talk about it, we can joke about it, we can sing about it, and we can dance about it, but we cannot do anything to create some initiative to go out and kill the seals. Probably the answer is kill the seals and let them sink. You may have to come down to a choice, if you have any political guts or any interest in the future. What's more important, protecting the seal population, developing world markets, or protecting the fish stocks of the future?

The question will come down to that. Probably the answer is go out and shoot the seals. I'm going to tell you here this afternoon, one answer is, not to hide away from the animal rights groups. Not to go back in a shell. They have won the battle but not won the war. That's what you have to look at. Sure the emotions were high at the time; sure, the people came out with walking sticks; sure, they created emotions. I wonder now today if we took on the campaign would they win it so victoriously? I wonder if you put the picture of a starving child with its belly swollen out and the tears and the bones showing through its cheeks, against a seal pup, and asked the people of the world today: what would you rather see, this child healthy, or this seal swimming in the ocean? Probably we attacked it wrong. Probably we were more defensive and we should have been more on the offensive. Probably we learned a lesson from what happened in the past.

I hear talk about closing the Gulf codfishery up there. Putting tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians out of work. Look at this picture taken in 1975 in the Gulf. Every black mark dot on that is a seal. In 1975. What is the population like today in 1992 when there hasn't been a hunt since 1984? We wonder if we should have a seal hunt? We wonder if we should be afraid of environmentalists or the animal rights groups? We wonder what we should do - hide in a shell. We wonder why 100,000 Newfoundlanders are out there today not working. We wonder why people don't have any food on their plates. A couple of weeks ago I had a call from a constituent of mine who said his son was going to high school and the only thing he had to give him to eat was Kraft dinner. He didn't have a dollar to his name and he couldn't get money from Social Services because the money he had earned three or four weeks before that had put him over the limit. Mr. Speaker, it is time to wake up, time to realize that sometimes emotions pay off. It is time to realize that this Province depends on the fishery and the survival of this Province depends on the fishery. We can make fun, we can run away, we can hide, or we can get upset because Efford is being emotional, or we can get upset because Efford is quoting the wrong numbers, but it is not the point. The point is, there is a real problem out there.

Have we become complacent? Have we become laid-back? Have we become set in our ways where our social safety net took the fight out of us? And we always have something to keep us down, that little unemployment check, that little compensation package. Our leaders, and we, ourselves are just as guilty. I was guilty in 1984 because I was running my business out in Port de Grave and I wasn't interested in what was taking place on the waterfront in St. John's. I admit guilt. But it is at the stage now where all of us have to realize that it is not a simple problem anymore.

Now, what do we do about it? Are we going to lie around after today, and tomorrow talk about something else and forget the real problem? Are we going to say, well, we can't do anything about it? Are we going to give in to the people who are trying to scare us? Are we going to say, well, they won again? They put on a great campaign and they won. It is like what was said right here, back in 1975 - assets of the IFAW surpass $500,000. That was back in 1975. That is because they were raising money off the emotions of the people in Hollywood. Seventeen years later, last year, they raised $180 million. Think about it. While we are down here perishing, as a Province, while our fishery is disappearing from under our noses, these parasites went out and raised $180 million off the backs of us people. What do we do? Well, don't say anything, you might upset them. They might come down here and do something about it. Now, that is what I am talking about, $180 million.

I mentioned earlier in my remarks, a few mights ago they showed on CBC the killing of five million kangaroos. I have to say it again, five million kangaroos in Australia. They showed a picture on CBC the night before last where a pickup truck was loaded with kangaroos, every one with the head shot off, and this individual hunter had his quota for the day - and not a word. Why? Why is there not a word about that? Where are all the animal rights groups? Why isn't the hon. the Member for St. John's East not squaking about that if he is so in favour of the IFAW? Because it is a seal, a kangaroo, a chicken or a lamb does it make any difference? No. They are frauds. Every single one of them are frauds because of what they are doing. They are using that to raise money to build their castles, their holiday resorts, and buy their fantastic yachts. And who is suffering because of it? Every single person in this Province is suffering from it and we are going to continue to suffer.

MR. DUMARESQUE: They should be tried.

MR. EFFORD: And we will not do anything about it, we will allow it. Mr. Speaker, as I said a few minutes ago, they won the battle but they have not won the war unless we allow them to win it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: To expose them? Yes, they have to be exposed for the fraudulent hate campaign they put on a couple of weeks ago. It was nothing only a hate campaign. I telephoned the Editor-in-Chief at The Evening Telegram and I told him I was sick to my stomach that I knew such a person in this Province, that he would allow, just for the sake of getting a few dollars revenue, for that to be printed in his paper when his is a paper here is in the Province surviving on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. He should not have allowed it. He should not have allowed that to be printed. It is bad enough for the Globe and Mail, a Canadian Paper, but worse when our own local paper here in Newfoundland carries the ad because they make a few dollars, Mr. Speaker, off this group. They should have just chased them away and told them to take it and do you know what with it.

I wonder if anybody were to challenge it in courts - and this is where our legal mind down in the corner comes in, the hon. the Member for St. John's East. Why did he not put his legal mind to work then to see if they were actually allowed to print that sort of hate literature. It was never questioned in the House of Commons. But I phoned the Editor-in-Chief of the Evening Telegram, Mr. Speaker. We are at a point, Mr. Speaker, where we, as Newfoundlanders, are not together. We are not fighting the issue with the proper attitude. We are not doing what is reasonable and responsible for the future. We all have our own little nest eggs to protect.

The one thing, Mr. Speaker, that we have all forgotten this afternoon - and I haven't heard it mentioned - is why we are here talking about our future and the resource. What about the natives of Labrador, the natives of Newfoundland and Labrador? For hundreds of years before we ever came to this land, they were here - for thousands of years, they were surviving by that meat product and that right to earn, to get their furs and so on and to export a trade as the world grew. Today, a group is destroying and taking away from them - and no, Mr. Speaker, none of us are doing enough. Certainly, none of us are doing enough. Let me read this: 'Given the current animal rights movements there are pitfalls to an industry like this, but as long as humans like fur garments, there will be a market for the fur garments' - the former Leader of the NDP stating here in an article that there will always be a market for fur garments, there will always be a demand for seal products and it could be one of the biggest industries in this Province. The former member, the hon. Peter Fenwick at the time, just two years ago put this article in the paper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Two years too late.

MR. EFFORD: Two years too late - but they should read this. Probably you should get some ideas of what needs to be done. But an industry? - yes, we could have an industry.

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

MR. HARRIS: The hon. member was reading from the document. I am wondering if he is going to table it so that all hon. members could have the benefit of the former leader of the NDP's wisdom on this matter.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, not only will I table it, if he wishes, I will come over and read it to him if he can't read it.

Mr. Speaker, I have read and gathered a lot of information in the last three or four days - information that I didn't even know was around, a lot of facts and figures. It has nothing to do with it -if I am right or they are right, if there is a bit of exaggeration, it is a fact of life. What now? That is the question. What now? What happens to the future of the Province? That is the question; not so much what happens to the seals; not so much what happens to the animal rights groups; not so much what happens to the individuals who are here in this House of Assembly. It has nothing to do with it. What about the future of the Province? That is the reason why I am asking for and demanding an increased seal hunt, because it depends on whether the future of this Province survives.

MS. VERGE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East, on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I think it is incumbent upon the Member for Port de Grave, who is talking about such a vital issue for the future of the Province, to quote the position of his leader and the Premier on this issue, and to explain why the Premier is not in his place for the conclusion of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Let me tell the hon. the Member for Humber East, this is Private Members' Day. This member is presenting a private member's motion. I will speak on this motion as I believe and not as somebody else believes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: In just the couple of minutes remaining, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you about the falsehoods and the lies - I want to have this on record. This is a copy of a small fish brochure from the marine aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts, brought to me just a month ago. In Boston, Massachusetts, in the aquarium, they are up there - the animal rights groups - promoting that the harp seal are an endangered species. Just imagine! There is nothing out there to go contrary to it, but the harp seal is an endangered species. That is what is being promoted throughout the United States.

Now, we are talking about a picture here that was taken back in 1975. Every dot on this page - there has not been a seal hunt since 1984, and the promotion that they are putting on in Boston and all over the United States is that the harp seal is an endangered species. That is what we have to contend with, and there is absolutely nothing being done about it. The only way to deal with it is that we have to look at, first of all, can something be done? We don't have much time left to do it, and we may have to come down, as I said, to the bottom line - and I will probably be the first one who will call for it. Probably we should have a seal hunt anyhow. That's the extremist way of talking. But if it comes down to a choice of the future of the fish stocks, which means the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, our very livelihood in the future, or otherwise become a total welfare state, without any backbone in our economy, the fishery depends on the future of the Province, and if it comes down to that choice, if all other avenues are exhausted and there's no other recourse, then that's probably what we'll have to do.

In conclusion, all I hope is that this does not die here today. That the issue is taken further. It goes beyond just on the Order Paper of the House of Assembly, beyond just lip service, and that some action is taken. I for one will make a guarantee to this hon. House of Assembly that I will not be letting it drop, and I hope every other member believes this as strongly as I do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the Government House Leader...?

MR. ROBERTS: Do we put the matter to the vote, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Well, Mr. Speaker, do you want to put the matter to the vote or do we just assume it's - ?

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, no. I didn't know if you wanted to say anything to the -

MR. ROBERTS: No, no. We're nearly out of time.

MR. SPEAKER: - business tomorrow or whatever.

MR. ROBERTS: I will make an adjournment motion -

MR. SPEAKER: This House stands adjourned until -

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, hold on now!


MR. ROBERTS: I thought you were going to call a vote, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, sorry!

The Chair has suffered -

MR. ROBERTS: A bad day, I know.

MR. SPEAKER: - a little.... Is the House ready for the question?

All those in favour, 'aye'?


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'?

In my opinion the 'ayes' have it.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before Your Honour adjourns pursuant to Standing Order, let me tell the House where we are. First, may I just place on the record of the House some information I didn't have earlier. I resigned as a director of Fortis Trust Inc. on November 15, 1991, by a letter to the chairman of the board, Mr. Angus Bruneau, OC. The last board meeting was held on October 30. My colleague, the former Minister of Justice, resigned on November 4 or November 5. The Premier's announcement was on November 12.

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

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

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what the hon. gentleman is tabling here or anything else, but I'm wondering under what rules of the House he is doing it?

MR. SPEAKER: I just thought the hon. member was asking leave to do the -

MR. ROBERTS: I understood I had the common courtesy. I'm not tabling anything. I'm simply giving them some information that they didn't have the common decency to check before. But I've said what I needed to say.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in dealing with the adjournment of the House let me tell my hon. friends that we have decided on this side not to proceed with the Law Society Bill. We accede to the request of the Committee.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: This government as always are willing to consult and be persuaded. We await with interest the further representations we receive. We shall instead tomorrow proceed with the adjourned debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: If my hon. friend would be quiet he might learn, Mr. Speaker. I realise this would be a new experience for him, but I commend it to him. Order 30, which is Bill 57 - I'm referring to today's order paper -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)!

MR. ROBERTS: The gentleman from Burin - Placentia West, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)!

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

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't care. If the hon. gentlemen opposite do not know what we propose to call I won't tell them. But I must say they then can't be heard to whine that we didn't tell them. Now they can either be tits or tats, they can't be both. Now my friend for Grand Bank I think is about to make a note. Let me carry on. Order 30, Bill 57; Order 26, Bill 54; Order 24, Bill 50. All of those stand in my name.

Then we'll go into some in the name of my friend, the Minister of Finance. Order 23 -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady is yapping. What did she yap? If she would possess her soul in patience, we'll come to her as well. Order 23, Bill 51; Order 20, Bill 45.... We're coming down in the world. We're doing it the opposite - we're going backwards now. Order 19, Bill 43; Order 18, Bill 44; Order 25, Bill 53. Is the hon. lady waiting? Order 17, Bill 25.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. ROBERTS: Let it never be said, Mr. Speaker, that I would not go a long, long way to oblige the hon. lady from Humber East.

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

Let me just remind the hon. Member for Burin- Placentia West, and anyone else who starts singing out to the speaker and pointing, that this is normal time. This is not counted. It's done by leave. The hon. the Government House Leader is telling the Opposition what it is they're dealing with. This is not normally considered in the time.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had finished. When we deal with that - that'll take us probably through tomorrow, would be my guess. Then we'll have some other legislation. Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. TOBIN: Point of order, Mr. Speaker!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I always thought under the Standing Orders that at 5:00 on a Wednesday evening the House automatically adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it does. But when the Government House Leader -with the consent of the.... if the House doesn't want to hear what the Government House Leader is saying, say so, and the Chair will adjourn.

MR. TOBIN: We don't want (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Then don't whine if you don't know.

MR. SPEAKER: This House stands adjourned until tomorrow -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) do what you like either

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Government....

This House stands adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.