December 8, 1992             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLI  No. 80

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

On Sunday afternoon, December 6th., five miles from Nain, a Mr. David Dicker, his daughter Sherry, age 13, his daughter Stacy-Lee, age 8, and his son David Junior, age 5, and a friend, Shelly Dicker, age 11, were out on a skidoo - actually two skidoos - and they went through the ice. All four ended up in the water and Sherry, age 13, was riding the second skidoo when it went through the ice. She immediately jumped off the sinking skidoo, jumped to safer ice, and by doing so took hold to her friend who was on the same skidoo as her, and dragged her to safety. At the same time then her father, sister, and brother were still left in the water.

So with quick thinking on her part she took off her coat and crawled back toward the edge of the ice, and with her coat was fortunate enough to haul her brother and sister to safety. She got her brother and sister back on safe ice. At this time her father was still trying to keep himself afloat in the icy water. Subsequently she was fortunate enough to save her father and also her friend who was on the other skidoo.

Mr. Speaker, not very often do we hear anything positive coming out of the north coast of Labrador. We hear there are 120 cases going before the court tomorrow and these kind of things. Today I am proud that a constituent of mine had put her life in front of other people to save her father, brother and sister, and friend.

I would ask this House to extend congratulations to this young thirteen year old Sherry Dicker who took it upon herself, on a very cold Sunday afternoon, with the lives of four others at stake, and ventured out into the dangerous areas of this cold north Atlantic. Subsequently, the people of Nain are extremely pleased that they have an outstanding citizen who deserves credit and recognition for heroic deeds.

I ask you, Sir, on behalf of all members of this House, to extend congratulations to Ms. Dicker on this great deed that she did. I want to advise the House that tomorrow I will be in Nain, celebrating with the Nain people in recognizing Ms. Dicker for her heroic deeds.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Like other members of the House, I had not heard of this act of heroism until the hon. gentleman raised it. He mentioned to me just before the House opened he intended to make the statement and I told him that I for one would welcome his doing so. Now that he has heard what I have to say I would endorse what he has to say. I am not sure I would agree that nothing but bad news comes out of the north coast of Labrador but lets put that kind of comment aside. The act of this young lady, Sherry Dicker, is surly worthy of commendation. She showed, from what the hon. gentleman said, extraordinary presence of mind and extraordinary heroism and I think that we in the House, Mr. Speaker, should recognize that.

I would suggest that perhaps we might ask the Clerk to send a letter of commendation to the young woman. I suggest also, Sir, you might wish to instruct the Clerk to refer the papers to the Bravery Committee, there is a bravery award provided by the Province, instituted several years ago by the previous administration and a good thing it is. Your Honour might, I suggest, wish to ask the Clerk to refer the incident to the committee. I believe Mr. David Dempster is the secretary of that committee, he is in the executive council office. But anyway whoever it is refer it through to the committee and ask that they too take appropriate action but certainly, I know I speak for all my colleagues here and I suspect I speak for all of the House when I say that we suggest, Your Honour, respectfully that you might cause a letter to be sent to Miss Dicker to commend her on behalf of the men and women who sit here representing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for her extraordinary presence of mind and her extraordinary heroism on this occasion.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to join with the Member for Torngat Mountains and the Government House Leader in commending the act of bravery of this young Labradorian in acting to save the lives of her family. It is truly an act that is deserving of commendation and I would concur with the Government House Leader that this ought to be passed on to those who might be able to make a more formal assessment of her act and make the appropriate action. I would like that letter to be sent by the House, declared to be unanimous of all members of the House, we are all parties in the House joining in the commendation to this young lady.

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to rise on a point of order today. It is a concern that I and my colleagues have pertaining to the functioning or workings, or lack thereof, of the Legislative Review Committees. When these Legislative Review Committees were promised, and indeed implemented, most people, especially us here in the House, looked upon it as a fresh approach to dealing with legislation and making new laws and rules for the people of the Province, but the committees, I think it is fair to say, have not functioned very readily or very properly. Looking at I think the Social Legislation Review Committee, it has only I believe met twice in 1992. I do not think any of the other committees have met as much as that, perhaps once, twice at the maximum, so I am rising to express concerns about the functionings of the Legislative Review Committees. They are not working and if they are not going to work, Mr. Speaker, one wonders why you would even go around saying that we have Legislative Review Committees.

I guess the only time that either Legislative Review Committee really worked was on Bill 53, the Lands Bill, that went about the Province and of course the people of the Province became educated and as well were allowed to express strong opinions and we saw quite an uproar and a furore because of the hearings associated with Bill 53. Since that time, the Legislative Review Committees have not functioned very well and I want to rise in my place today to bring this to the attention of the Government House Leader and others, because we feel that the Legislative Review Committees should meet fairly regularly; they should have a chance to review the legislation, they should have a chance to educate the public, they should have a chance to hear public opinion on legislation that is proposed before this House and especially now.

I guess what really prompted this, is today we are ready to deal with Bill 56: An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, or The Police Commission Act as it is more commonly referred, and my understanding is that the respective Legislative Review Committee has not dealt with it and that is a pretty significant piece of legislation and we all know the background and what has brought this about. But here we have a Legislative Review Committee that is supposed to be functioning and working and this very important pieces of legislation has not even been put to committee, and they have not had a chance to go out and about and educate the public or hear public opinion, so I want to rise -

MS. VERGE: Have the public educate us.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, that is what I mean or to receive public opinion or expression about what is proposed in the legislation or to recommend changes, so I want to rise in my place today because I consider it to be a very serious situation, Mr. Speaker, and I wanted to bring it to the attention of the Government House Leader, recognizing the flaws and so on of the committees to date. I am hoping that it can be corrected so that it functions in a more working way and a more satisfying way than it has in the past.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, if I may respond, I think the hon. gentleman would acknowledge, and this is the tenor of the latter part of his remarks, that it is not so much a point of order, it is really a raising a matter and having it aired and perhaps I could respond to it in that manner.

I can make two or three comments, Sir. I accept what he says. I have no reason to question, and everything I know confirms what he said. I will deal with the Police Act when it is called for debate. But let it be said, nobody has come to me as one individual, as the minister in whose name the bill stands, and said that he or she would like to be heard by a committee. That did happen with the Law Society Act. I spoke with the Chair, my hon. friend for Harbour Grace, who very quickly arranged a hearing and the matter slowed.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the committees are masters of their own procedures, but that raises an anomaly. My understanding is the rules of the House were not changed when these committees were introduced. They are sort of out there in a semi-limbo. The rules were not changed. The last time the rules were changed in this House was when the Tories were ramming through restrictions on debate a long time ago.

Perhaps we should revisit some of the rules, Mr. Speaker.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I'm thinking of 'Witch-hunt Willie's' rules. The hon. gentleman has forgotten 'Witch-hunt Willie.'

Mr. Speaker, let me come back to say that the rules -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) the rules.


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

MR. ROBERTS: - the rules were not changed when these committees -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman from Kilbride has to learn that rudeness and ignorance - if he were simply a child he would only be rude, but as an adult he is both rude and ignorant.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: And rudeness and ignorance have nothing to do with debate in this House, Sir. Now, if I may continue, Mr. Speaker.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) change the rules. You have got to be rude and ignorant to change them.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may continue, Mr. Speaker, without the hon. gentleman from Kilbride being both rude and ignorant. Now the point I am making is, the rules -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

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

Every member is entitled to be able to carry on the business of the House without being interfered with. So I ask hon. members to govern themselves accordingly.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I was saying is, the rules were not changed -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have asked the hon. member, not in a direct way, but in an indirect way, to please afford the Government House Leader the courtesy that is to be afforded every member, and ask the Government House Leader to clue up his remarks on the point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I was just saying, the rules have not been changed. Perhaps we should deal with them on that basis. My suggestion to the hon. gentleman from Grand Bank, the House Leader, who I know is putting forward the matter in good faith, is that we should add this to a list of two or three matters which I think require the attention of members of the House. We have already addressed the issue of petitions. We should, perhaps, add these legislation review committees to it.

Perhaps, when the House rises and we all have a little more time to attend to these things, he and I and the House Leader from the independent group in the House might tend on Your Honour and see if we can find some consensus with a view to coming back and seeing if we can find a way to address it. Because if the system isn't working effectively, perhaps we should change it. I don't want to go beyond that until I know the arguments, pro and con, but my understanding, Mr. Speaker, is that -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) before the legislation can work effectively - it has in the past.

MR. WALSH: Boy, can you give it up or not?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WALSH: If you can't give it up, get out!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. the Member for Kilbride that there is a correct way for making a comment and it should not be by way of an interference. I ask the hon. member to clue up his remarks, please.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I was simply drawing to an end and saying that speaking for those on this side, Sir, we would gladly be prepared to participate in that process, and if the rules need to be changed to make the procedures more effective, then we are prepared to do our part, Sir.

Thank you.

MR. R. AYLWARD: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: I would like to make just one comment on what the Minister of Justice, the $10,000-a-month man said, Mr. Speaker. The rules - whether they need to be changed I am not sure; but the committees, when they were established in the beginning, were working quite effectively, I believe. I served on a committee with the Member for St. John's South on some labour legislation which was very important to this Province, and the committees did work very effectively.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: It was on the Lands Act - and that committee, chaired by the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, now the new minister, worked very effectively. Since this Government House Leader has come into this House, he will not refer the legislation to the committees so they can do their work. That is the problem, Mr. Speaker, not the rules.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, to that point of order. I share the concerns of the Opposition House Leader as to the operation of the committee and I refer members of the House to Standing Orders 84 (e) which says, "Standing Committees shall be severally empowered to examine and enquire into all such matters as may be referred to them by the House..."

Now, the Government House Leader made reference to himself referring a certain matter to the Chairman of the Social Services Committee and it seems there is a procedure here whereby the House itself must refer these matters. And, perhaps, in our discussions between the House Leaders, we may develop a procedure whereby as legislation comes on - and obviously not every piece of legislation needs to be reviewed. For example, we have before us now the Leasehold In St. John's Act, which is merely postponing a particular event for two years. That need not, perhaps, go to a Social Legislation Review Committee, but perhaps there ought to be a specific procedure in place when legislation is tabled in the House, for it to be designated 'yea' or 'nay' as to one that members feel ought to go to committee. I do concur that there seems to be a breakdown in what was promised by the government in terms of the review of legislation and I think that it needs to be resolved, despite what the Member for St. John's South says.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am the Vice-Chairperson of the Social Legislation Review Committee and I have served in that capacity since these Legislation Review Committees were established by the Wells Administration. This was a legislative reform that we, in the official Opposition welcomed and praised. We gave credit to the Wells Administration for bringing in the improvement.

As my colleague from Kilbride said, the committees worked quite well for a short time. It has only been in the last year or so that the Social Committee has virtually ground to a halt. We have the experience of the first couple of years, to which we should now revert. It is not good enough to do as the Justice Minister, the Government House Leader, just suggested, and wait until some unspecified time in the New Year, leading up to an election, to revise the rules.

We have before us now a substantial piece of legislative reform, namely, the Police Act, purporting to establish the police complaints commission. Without any more excuses or delays, this bill, Bill 56, should be referred to the Social Legislation Review Committee so that we can allow groups and individuals, the minister knows are concerned about the bill, to contribute their thoughts, so that collectively we can improve upon this draft legislation.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association is definitely interested in submitting comments and a critique. I would think the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, which has a vested interest in the legislation, would want to share their thoughts. As well, there are individuals in the Province who have had occasion to complain about the way they were treated by the police and who have had no choice but to go public. These individuals probably would want the chance to appear before the committee at a public hearing and let us know what they think of the proposal.

So, Mr. Speaker, I submit that we have the committee structure and we have the benefit of the positive experience of the first two years of the committee. The Member for St. John's South chaired the Social Committee and now the Member for Harbour Grace is chairing it, and both of those members can back me up in saying that the Social Committee has worked well when given a chance. Mr. Speaker, all we are asking now is that the positive experience be resumed and that this Bill 56, The Act Revising The Constabulary Act and purporting to create a police complaints commission go the Social Legislation Review Committee without any more delay.

MR. SPEAKER: As hon. members know, there is no point of order. The Chair was very flexible in allowing the points of order to be raised because matters of committee ought not to be raised in the House; but maybe it boils down to the fact, as we have said, that something is lacking in our rules and it is a matter that we should resolve.

Before calling Ministerial Statements, on behalf of hon. members I would like to extend a warm welcome to a group of Level II and Level III students from Long Island Academy in the Green Bay district. They are accompanied by their teachers and sponsors, Marina Hewlett, Janice Winsor and Debbie Williams.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Forestry Act passed by this honourable House in 1990 requires the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture to undertake a timber resource analysis and a forest management strategy every five years. This analysis is to outline the state of the Province's forest resources and timber supply. It would specify measures to ensure that our forests are being managed in conformity with the principles of sustainable development.

Mr. Speaker, this analysis has now been completed and today I wish to make available for general distribution copies of my department's '20 Year Forestry Development Plan'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: This document contains the results of the timber resource analysis and outlines this government's plans for timber management in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, our analysis indicated that as of 1990, Newfoundland's forests contained about 200 million cubic meters of merchantable timber and were capable of supporting an annual allowable harvest of 2.4 million cubic meters on the Island and 600,000 cubic meters in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: These commercial volumes are contained on a land base which is only 25 per cent of the total area of the Island, and even less in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, our analysis also shows that the annual demand for timber within the Province is about 2.8 million cubic meters. This demand is almost equally shared among Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited, Abitibi-Price Inc., and Crown land operators. On Crown lands, over 50 per cent of the total demand for timber is in the form of fuelwood. To put this into perspective, Mr. Speaker, the annual volume of softwood harvested for fuelwood in this Province is greater than the annual volume used by the mill at Grand Falls or at Stephenville - a staggering statistic, Mr. Speaker. The demand for wood on the Island part of the Province exceeds the supply, although our Labrador resource is not being fully utilized.

Mr. Speaker, the forests of this Province are a priceless heritage. Although they are being managed better now than ever before, the analysis clearly shows that on the Island we are presently harvesting more timber than we should. To alleviate the problems caused by this overcut and to ensure future supplies, my department, with financial assistance provided under the Canada-Newfoundland Co-operation Forestry Agreements, has been carrying out major silvicultural programs for the past fifteen years or so - mostly this past three or four years, Mr. Speaker. In fact, under the most recent federal-provincial agreement signed in 1991, fully 70 per cent of the total agreement value of $65 million has been allocated to silviculture. In addition to our silvicultural efforts, plans are now well under way to reduce timber harvesting on Crown lands to annual allowable cut levels. This is being done over a five-year period to minimize adverse impacts on those who make their living in the woods. We especially seek the co-operation of domestic fuelwood users to ensure that fuelwood supplies are obtained from non-commercial stands.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud of my department's 20 Year Forestry Development Plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: And intend to be around to see it into action.

MR. FLIGHT: It is hoped that by releasing it for general distribution, it will become the focal point of discussions that will lead to continued improvements in forest management practices and forest policy in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would also like to thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. This statement comes on the heels of - a few days ago I had an opportunity to question the minister with regard to a paper mill on the West Coast, and the fact that they were importing wood from Prince Edward Island. That particular turn of events appeared to be somewhat of a surprise to the minister and I asked him at the time why or how this came about. Obviously, the company did not altogether consult with him.

I can appreciate the fact that we are harvesting more than we need. I also appreciate the fact that the silviculture programs that are in use now were developed by the former, former administration. Prior to that, since Confederation, my district of Green Bay, heavily dependent on forestry, had not seen an iota of forest management worth talking about.

Mr. Speaker, we have a real problem here. I think in the way he delivered the statement, the minister is tending to gloss over the fact that we will have a really serious wood shortfall. The PEI example, I think, is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of where the wood for our paper mills is coming from. I think that if we are going to have stricter enforcement with regard to domestic cutting limits, etc., we should also have in concert with it a major public education program, so that people are told what wood they should cut in order to maintain a sustainable yield of pulpwood for the three mills in our Province.

So enforcement is fine, Mr. Speaker, but education is also paramount. Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: May I have leave to speak to the Ministerial Statement, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave of the House?


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member doesn't have leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask a question of the Minister of Education. Yesterday, the President of Memorial University said that the University's budget had been cut by $1.6 million for the balance - presumably, the last four months - of this fiscal year. I believe the minister confirmed it himself yesterday in some news reports. That would be the equivalent, annualized, of a cut of about $4 million to $5 million over the full year. So it is a pretty significant cut.

I want to ask the minister: Has he discussed the impact of these cuts with the President of the University in the last couple of weeks in particular, and specifically, as it might affect the winter semester which begins in January? Does he have any concerns about the negative effects that these cuts may have on student education, post-secondary education at the University?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I really can't understand where the Opposition is coming from. Last week they were screaming at this Opposition: No wage rollbacks. Last week they were screaming: No more borrowing, no more tax hikes, no more cuts. Now, the government is left with a $153 million problem in our fiscal management of this Province. The Opposition want to abolish every single way that we can deal with that problem. The reality is we had to take $17 million out of education. We did not specifically say to the University -

AN HON. MEMBER: That wasn't what you said yesterday! You said you hadn't touched it!

MR. DECKER: We did not say specifically to the University how they should deal with that problem, Mr. Speaker. We told them that we wanted a refund of $1.6 million from their budget. Now, I discussed this with the President of the University, maybe a month or more ago, in general terms that there was a possibility we could be asking for some refund.

We are anxious that programs not be affected. We are anxious that enrollment not be capped. There are certain general parameters that the administration is concerned about. However, the hon. member will know that in the final analysis, the decision as to how to deal with that $1.6 million problem is a University problem. Just as each hospital board, each school board, and so on, have to deal with their problems. We are not going to go in and tell the University exactly what it must do. But, of course, we will be expecting them to advise us before they make any moves as to what they intend to do.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I notice that the minister deflected any question that I asked about whether or not he had any concerns about the negative effects this might have on students' education. He didn't address that question at all.

Let me ask him this, being a bit more specific: Since 1990, Memorial's operating grants have been basically and essentially frozen, tuition fees at the university have jumped by about 25 per cent, enrolment has increased by about 2,000 people and they already have over there, in many faculties, a shortage of course offerings; I want to ask him, Does he think that these cuts - because they are significant, and he has admitted that himself - does he think that these cuts might mean that the university will have to accept fewer applicants? - I am talking about for the winter semester in particular. Does he think that it might mean further cuts in course offerings where there is already a significant shortage and does he think that these cuts might mean another increase in tuition fees?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I do not want in any way to underestimate just how serious a problem this is. At no time are we trying to say that this is not a severe problem. It is a severe problem. The university has a budget it receives from government, of about $120 million. We are asking for $1.6 million of that back. As the hon. member said, in a certain respect, their budget was frozen. They did get grants for some extra - in certain areas, where they are specified, Mr. Speaker but as to whether or not I am concerned, yes I am concerned. I am also concerned about the $153 million problem that the Province has, Mr. Speaker. There is a greater concern which overrides everything and that is the financial integrity of this Province, and we have to deal with that through all the various sectors where the government spends money. We cannot say to the university you are going to be exempt and say to a hospital you have to bear part of the burden. We have to treat this fairly, Mr. Speaker, without discrimination and the university has to deal with the problem of $1.6 million. I would certainly hope that they will deal with this with the same wisdom with which they dealt with other problems they have had over the past number of years.

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

MR. SIMMS: On a supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Given that the Premier and the Minister of Finance have both said publicly that the cuts outlined in the mini-Budget are really only the beginning, because the more and deeper cuts are likely to come in the spring in the new Budget, if this government brings in a new Budget before the next election, I want to ask the minister does he think that the thousands of young people who see higher education as their only hope for the future, are now likely to have to bear much more of the cost themselves or, if not, have to leave university, drop out altogether? Is it likely to be university degrees for the rich and welfare for the poor? Is that what he thinks is likely to occur?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, 'I would not have you ignorant, brethren,' I believe is the way to put it - I would not have you ignorant, brethren, we are living in a very difficult time. Had we not done what we did with this mini-Budget, as it has been called, we would have had a problem of around $200 million in the next year. So, Mr. Speaker, we are living in an age when we are having very difficult fiscal problems. As to whether or not this is going to mean that education becomes something simply for the rich, I would certainly hope that is not so. When you consider that the Province is already putting $120 million into that Budget, it is difficult to reach the conclusion that we are only doing that for the rich. Mr. Speaker, we are living in a tough age. I can tell you what would be worse for the young people of this Province, it would be worse for the young people of this Province if we were to throw our hands up in the air and let the Province go into bankruptcy, Mr. Speaker; that would have a lot worse impact on the young people of this Province than saying to the university, you have to find savings of $1.6 million.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, there are many in this Province who think this government have thrown their hands up in the air and given up all administration.

I want to ask him a final question about his government's own Strategic Economic Plan. This is the document that members of the government continuously espouse as the only hope for our future. In that document, as he would know, throughout, there are references about improving the level and quality of education for our young people - that is sprinkled throughout that document everywhere. I want to ask the minister now, In light of what he has just told us, are these merely words? Have they, in fact, abandoned their strategic plan where they have emphasised the importance of education as being the real opportunity for the future? I mean, what are these, just more words that are used in documents and that you do not really mean it? Because obviously you don't mean it if you are not going to put the financial resources into it.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, this administration is totally committed to our Strategic Economic Plan. This is the first time in the history of this Province that there has been in place a strategic economic plan so that we can tell the people of this Province where we plan to go. And I admit, Mr. Speaker, that there is, indeed, a major role for education to play in our Strategic Economic Plan. However, if we were to get up and discriminate against any sector and say we are not going to touch education, we are not going to touch health, we are not going to touch transportation or we are not going to touch some other sector, then the hon. the Leader of the Opposition would be up criticizing government because we had allowed one sector to go without bearing any part of the burden.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that in that 1 per cent and 3 per cent refund that we are asking for, we told the various institutions, including the university, to look first to their operation or look first to - in the Department of Education, for example, right on our own floor, we are saving $1 million this year. We are cutting out some travel, we are cutting out some non-essential travel, some non-essentials which are there, and we are asking all the institutions to look, look to the way they spend their money. Maybe there is not a single solitary cent wasted, well, if there is not, that would be different, but if they can see somewhere they can make a saving without directly impacting on the education of the student, Mr. Speaker, we expect them to do that first before they have to dig deeper. I believe that the co-operation is there and I believe it will work out for the best.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question also to the Minister of Education.

The minister stated in the House yesterday that budgets for community colleges would be cut, he said probably in the $2 million to $3 million range. Now, that twenty-four hours have elapsed, could he now tell the House what that exact figure is?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows, we are dealing with a total of $17 million, which was read out when the hon. the Minister of Finance delivered his Budget. I don't think I can be expected to carry every single $1 million, $1.5 million, $2 million here and $100,000 there, around in my head. It would be extemely difficult; I don't have that ability. I am not sure if the figure I mentioned yesterday about the College (inaudible) - let me explain what is happening in the community colleges.

All the community colleges had some surpluses, or most of them had some surpluses, on their budgets, Mr. Speaker, significant surpluses. These surpluses arrive - as hon. members would understand, the colleges quite often enter into contracts with the Federal Government to deliver educational programs. This is where manpower comes in and buys so many seats or where there is a special initiative of Employment and Immigration to buy a particular course. As a result of that, all the colleges had in their budgets, in total, a surplus in the vicinity of $4 million. It was money that was not given by the Province, it was provincial institutions which raised this money, provincial employees, and that money was sitting in there in their budgets.

Last summer, I wrote the colleges - because at that time we anticipated that there would be some budget problems coming up in this year - I wrote the colleges and asked them not to spend this surplus money in the event that we should need it for a rainy day, in the event that we had a budgetary problem. During this budgetary process, we have gone back to the colleges now and said: that surplus you have, we will deduct an equivalent amount of your grant from you. So, I suppose, in a sense, we are taking $4 million from them, but remember, Mr. Speaker, it is $4 million which they had built up in surplus.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So we have a clawback going, too, with the community colleges. That is $4 million that was budgeted in this fiscal year and that is now taken back from them. I am sure the minister is aware of the headline in The Evening Telegram that says: Colleges swamped -applications triple the number of spots. With reduced funding for these colleges, will there now be fewer spots and programs available?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, if we had not had this fiscal problem, I would suggest that same headline would have appeared. The reality is that over the past number of years - I suppose it is because of the economy - more and more students are applying for seats in the colleges, so there are some lineups, there are some people waiting. Now, the headline in the paper doesn't tell the complete story, because if there are 1,000 people on a waiting list to get into a college, you will probably find, Mr. Speaker, that they are on the waiting list at all five colleges. So if you have 200 on each college waiting list, it could be repeated and you could have the same people. So the actual number of bodies who are waiting will not necessarily relate to the number of people on the waiting list. It has been found in the past that normally it takes three applications to get one person. If you have three people on the waiting list, when the times comes that usually translates, Mr. Speaker, into one person getting in. Now I believe in the last year or so you might find that that has changed a bit and probably it is two to one.

The other problem with the waiting list, Mr. Speaker: A lot of students are applying to become nursing assistants, for example. There is a considerable waiting list for nursing assistants. Well, it is a conscious decision by government, in co-operation with the nursing assistants association, only to allow so many nursing assistants through the system. It is no good to train a thousand nursing assistants if there are only fifty jobs out there. It is no good to train a thousand welders if there are only ten jobs out there. So some of the waiting lists have developed with the students who are applying for occupations in which we know there will be no jobs waiting for them. So that adds to it.

So it is not a simple matter of 5,000 students out there saying we must get into university or we must get into the colleges. The waiting list would have to be examined a little more closely and you will find, Mr. Speaker, it is not good, it is not desirable, it is not what we want, but you have to get the full facts before you can pass judgement on it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for Ferryland

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the minister had statistics to show us the actual number of people that would refute the accuracy of this telegram headline, maybe he should have stated to the House what the actual figure is. Actually, the centerpiece of this government's Strategic Economic Plan is higher education and training. Will the minister tell the House how he hopes to achieve this if there is a reduced opportunity for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to get skills training in those community colleges? Has he already forgotten the Strategic Economic Plan that this government produced?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the second part of the hon. member's question I already answered when his leader asked basically the same question. The first part about the applicants and this sort of thing: Cabot College, 761; Eastern College - they are all here, Mr. Speaker. I will table it as the hon. member asked.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister responsible for our wildlife resources. It is the first time since I have been elected, Mr. Speaker, that I have had a particularly large number of enquiries from the King's Point/Rattling Brook area of my district with regard to the annual moose kill, specifically from the point of view that a lot of people who are ordinarily successful in their hunt have not been this year and the season is closed in that particular area. They pointed out to me that it was a warm September, and nobody likes to hunt in warm weather because it is poisoning the meat, etc, and on the last weekend for the kill this year there was a blizzard, so people couldn't get out.

So I ask the minister: Has he had representations about the number of unsuccessful moose hunters, in my area in particular, or in general, and whether or not there is a possible lengthening of the season to accommodate this?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In direct reference to the member's question, yes, we have had some representations from parts of the Province about hunters who have been unsuccessful. Yes, we have had some comments from hunters who were questioning the warm part of the season and also questioning, because of some snowstorms or bad weather, if the season could be extended. We have had those requests.

We really have no control over the weather and there is not much we can do about that. The season that we have in place is one that has evolved over a good number of years, in a lot of cases in consultation with rod and gun clubs and lots of other people who are involved in the sport of hunting. Mr. Speaker, that is the most that we can do at this point in time. We will certainly be more than willing to review our position in light of what happened this year so that we can try to address next year's concerns. But at this point in time there is very little we can do with respect to that subject.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the minister: There has been in past years a situation where additional moose licenses have been given out after you have a quick analysis of what happened in a particular fall. It seems to me that given the number of calls I have had from my area that it is a particular circumstance that might be dealt with by a particular response on the part of the minister and I am wondering if he feels that way as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The problem is not as much with the fact that additional moose licenses were granted. That was done because we felt that the population of moose was there to meet that need. Part of the problem we are facing in terms of moose hunting in the Province is the actual habit of some of the hunters themselves. We find, and our officials tell me, that far too many wish to hunt close to the road, and in a lot of cases the early kills that take place in various zones take place close to the secondary roads. I do not mean the highways themselves, so that in itself causes a problem, where not enough people are actually getting back into the country. Now in your particular area that may not be the case but we have found that there are enough moose there to meet the needs. I cannot say that every hunter out there in any given year is guaranteed success but I can say to you that the moose are there and there is no reason why hunters, if they have the time and the abilities, can reach out and get their moose. In your particular area I am not sure what may have caused those problems but I would be willing to ask my officials to up date me on what may have happened in your given area and we can take that from there.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a final supplementary to the minister. He mentioned that people like to kill animals that were close to the road. In the Green Bay - White Bay area where I hail from there are roads all over the place. It is a forestry area and the entire countryside is crisscrossed by roads that hunters can use. Even given that a large number have been unsuccessful this year so I ask the minister to keep this in mind when he looks into the matter.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I say that we have absolutely no problem in looking into the matter to see what may have caused that anomaly in your area this year. I cannot answer right offhand. I can say to you that we have been told that in central Newfoundland one of the biggest problems we are having is that most of the hunters are staying close to the roads and are not taking the advantage to get back into the country where we still find there are a lot of game, a lot of good game, that could be killed by those who are moose hunting. With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, I have no problem in asking our officials to investigate to see what may have happened in the Green Bay area.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Over two years ago now, Mr. Speaker, the former minister responsible for municipal affairs came in with the idea of amalgamation and amalgamating a number of municipalities in the Province. One of the groupings at that particular time were some in my area, namely the town of Deer Lake, the LSD districts of Spillway, St. Jude's and Nicholsville. I wonder if the minister could inform the House this evening the status of the particular grouping in my area as of today?

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

MR. HOGAN: As of today, Mr. Speaker, the particular grouping to which the hon. member refers have been written approximately a week ago and asked if they had any final comments following a review of their objections or otherwise with the local regional manager. We are looking for additional comments from them before the final decision is made or recommendations made to Cabinet. I am not sure whether I have received a reply on that or not. I do not recall receiving all the replies but some of them have come in.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Will the minister give his assurances here in the House today that if those particular communities do not want amalgamation that he will go along with their requests and recommend to Cabinet that they not be amalgamated?

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

MR. HOGAN: I will take the proposals from his communities under advisement and I guarantee him I will certainly discuss it with him before a final recommendation or decision is made.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, could the minister probably explain to me, and explain to the House as a whole, why the Department of Municipal Affairs are paying municipalities in the Province under the MOG system, namely the road component, approximately $459 now and can justify, and maybe confirm, maybe I am wrong, justify why they pay the Department of Transportation $1000 a kilometre and pay municipalities in the Province approximately $450? Could the minister confirm that, and if it is confirmed tell me if there's any justification for it?

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

MR. HOGAN: The figure that the hon. member mentions, Mr. Speaker, as a road component of the MOG is approximately right. The other figure I'm not quite sure of, that the municipalities pay to the hon. minister's department for road clearing. The stories and reports that I've gotten from various councils is that it varies throughout the Province, and I'm not sure if that's correct either.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, last question to the Minister responsible for Transportation. Could the Minister responsible for Transportation then confirm to the House that his department is charging back to municipalities through the MOG system approximately $1,000 per kilometre, where they're getting paid approximately $450 (Inaudible) Department of Municipal Affairs?

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My understanding of the policy with respect to winter operations in communities is as follows. That basically municipalities are responsible for their own snow clearing. Where snow clearing services cannot be obtained on a reasonable basis, then the department would provide that snow clearing service at cost, whatever that cost happens to be. For community councils I believe the figure is $1,000 per kilometre. That's the figure that's charged to the council. Exactly how that's collected - whether it's collected through the MOG or not - I'm not entirely sure. But the cost is $1,000 a kilometre. With respect to local service districts and communities which have no form of local government, my understanding is that the service is provided free of charge to those particular communities.

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Health. Medical experts in Quebec have informed the Quebec government that type C meningococcal bacteria will peak this winter in its six-year cycle. Could the minister tell us if his own medical experts have indicated to him what's going to happen in Newfoundland this winter? Will that disease be peaking here as well this winter?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the whole question of meningococcal disease has been foremost over the past number of years. Our department is looking very carefully at it and we are following the approved procedures that are generally recognised as being approved in Canada. But we're always open to any new thoughts that come along, and we keep in total touch with the national and international scene.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Quebec Minister of Health, Mr. Côté, has indicated that all residents between six months and twenty years of age are going to be vaccinated. Which will be approximately 1.6 million people. Now since we share a border with Quebec, is there any cause for concern, I ask the minister, here in this Province? Has the minister given any thought to a similar inoculation program for Newfoundland? Why will he, for instance, not inoculate?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, we have discussed this question and we have no plans to emulate the Province of Quebec. Their problems may be somewhat different from ours.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. In the mini-Budget statement by the Minister of Finance last Friday a mention was made of the government's plan to repeal the restraints on collective bargaining contained in Bill 17. I wonder if the Minister of Employment could assure the House that these constraints and these restraints on collective bargaining in the public sector will not be replaced by other restraints on free collective bargaining?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the question, although I don't know exactly what's intended by it. Because the statement is clear for itself. I guess people are still used to trying to read some things into what is said other than what is there.

The fact of the matter is there will be a bill passed, legislation brought before the House before Christmas to repeal the reference to the third year in Bill 17, and there will be an invitation issued from the President of Treasury Board, since Treasury Board does the negotiations with all of the public sector unions on behalf of government, regardless of what departments they work in, to invite them to come back to the bargaining table and help us together to try and resolve the difficulties that we still face in the future year.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At the risk of trying to read something into it, I am more interested in reading something out of the government's plans. Can the minister assure the House that despite the aims of the government to achieve a reduction in compensation, that they have no intention - nor will they - do that by legislative restraints on collective bargaining?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again I do not understand what the hon. member is actually referring to, or trying to suggest might be in the future. All I can tell him is that before we close this Legislature at this particular sitting, we have given a commitment that the reference that the unions, the public service unions, found to not be to their liking, and they were complaining about with respect to limitations imposed upon collective bargaining in a future year - the next fiscal year - by Bill 17, that we have given a commitment which we will honour to remove that reference from the legislation.

We will then entertain, at the bargaining table and through free and open collective bargaining, all types of presentations and representations; and as I indicated in my comments on the Financial Statement yesterday in the Legislature, I am looking forward to the fact that the public service unions will demonstrate ingenuity, all kinds of creative, ingenious ways to protect the benefits and interests of their members while also helping the government protect the most important part, which is the financial integrity and the ability of the Province to meet those needs that they will express on behalf of their members.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I say to the Government House Leader, it is in response to yesterday where we agreed that we would give notice today, and today I give notice in the name of the Member for Mount Pearl who is unavoidably absent, attending a funeral. The resolution is as follows:

WHEREAS the provincial economy is shrinking and unemployment is increasing; and

WHEREAS the tax burden imposed on individuals and businesses by this administration has harmed the economy; and

WHEREAS the administration has failed to execute effective policies to stimulate the economy and decrease unemployment;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that in an attempt to stimulate the economy and thereby create jobs, the provincial government immediately take steps to reduce the level of taxation in the Province.

That is the Private Members' resolution that we shall put forward tomorrow.

Seconded by the Member for Humber East.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday in the House the hon. Member for Mount Pearl asked some questions and I agreed to find out the answers for him.

There are two series of questions. One had to do with the annualization of the tax measures that we had brought in. He had thought that the personal income tax would bring in next year an additional $36 million. I have since been informed that we are projecting not $36 million but $21.8 million; and that the gasoline tax which he had thought would bring in $15.7 million, we are estimating to be $13.3 million next year; and the tobacco tax which he had thought would bring in something like $11 million, I believe, will actually bring in something like $21.1 million extra next year.

In addition, we are expecting vehicle licences to bring in $4 million next year, but that the corporate income tax which we have reduced will result in $10 million less next year, so that the net increase of $10 million in taxes this year will mean an additional $40 million next year - in the next fiscal year.

Another series of questions that he asked had to do with the 'other' definitions in statement 2 in the Ministerial Statement made by the Minister of Finance. He asked for the breakdown of the 'other'.

The original Budget had $8,250,000 for 'other' and now there is $18 million. Without going into all the details of that, which I will table, I will indicate however, that the extra $10 million in 'other' is school tax arrears which we expect to collect.

There is another 'other' under 'other provincial sources', which is increased from $11 million in the original Budget now to the revised Budget of almost $20 million - about a little over $8 million extra - and most of that is money that we are going to be paid directly from Churchill Falls, CF(L)Co. Normally they pay through hydro, and hydro uses it to pay off its bonds, but we are going to slow down the repayment of the bonds and let that money flow directly into government coffers.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much and I will table these answers.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we do Motion No. 4 before we get into the debate on the bill, please?

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 4.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Buildings Accessibility Act," carried. (Bill No. 63).

On motion, Bill No. 63 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Or tonight, maybe.

MR. SPEAKER: Tonight.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 28, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 28, the second reading, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary", (Bill No. 56).

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I rise with both pride and with confidence to move second reading of Bill No. 56, which is entitled, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary".

I do so with pride, Mr. Speaker, because I suggest, and I will lay out my case in the hour that is available to me under the rules of the House - (technical malfunction)

Was it I Lord, I say to my friend, the Leader of the Opposition. I do so with pride, Sir, because in my view this is a very good Bill, one which deserves the support of the House. I get an impression from the hon. lady and her colleagues opposite, that we may not get the support, sobeit.

Secondly, I do it with confidence because this is a good Bill, Mr. Speaker, and I shall demonstrate that in the few remarks I am about to make.

AN HON. MEMBER: Rubbish.

MR. ROBERTS: The Bill, Mr. Speaker, sets out the means by which the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary - Mr. Speaker, let me just say a word or two now. My hon. friends Opposite, are determined to be rude and ignorant. Now I take this Bill as being important, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Chair to afford me the protection to which I am entitled as a member, if the hon. member for Burin - Placentia West -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well whoever said it - if it was not him, I apologize to him, but whoever yells out rubbish that -


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it may very well be their view this Bill is rubbish, in which case when the time comes let them stand and say so, but I would ask a degree of courtesy and decency from hon. gentlemen opposite. This is an important Bill. It addresses an important issue and I would ask that they hear what I have to say, whether I change their minds or not is not for me to say and with all respect I do not particularly worry because I will deal with it on the merits and I expect them to do the same and they can come to whatever conclusion they feel best. I say to my friend for St. John's East Extern, that I make the same request of him.

I am prepared to answer questions now or at Committee, quite prepared, indeed anxious, but I would ask, Mr. Speaker, that hon. members on both sides allow speakers on both sides to be heard in the normal parliamentary fashion and that does not include, whoever it may be, yelling out rubbish - that is just childish. I mean that does not advance the House, it does not dignify the House, it simply demeans all of us. It demeans the House, it demeans the members and it demeans the process by which we are here, and of course, if one side starts it the other side can do it and nobody wins. Now that is not to say that if they could, for once in their lives get off an intelligent heckle, it might not be a good thing. I would be happy to deal with that. I would be happy to deal with that, if hon. gentleman opposite or even the hon. lady opposite can rise to that level, and in turn I have been known to try one or two, sometimes it is a success sometimes not, I am first to acknowledge.

MR. TOBIN: By the way, John Carter (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. gentleman. Mr. John Carter was one of the more intelligent members of this House, and indeed so outshone the Tory party in general that it was like the sun at midday against the moon in an eclipse, to compare John Carter to the hon. gentleman and the lady opposite now, is comparing a mountain to a veritable mole hill. The hon. gentleman for St. John's East Extern, I said this before, should not come to a battle of wits half-armed as he does.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me get on with the Bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the Bill would review and revise and replace the legislation which governs the organization and the operation of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the only police force maintained by the government of this Province. There are only, Mr. Speaker, two police forces in this Province today.One is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which exists under a statute now found as part of the revised statutes of Newfoundland, 1990; the other of which is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which performs in part under a contract with the Ministry of the Province and in part performs duties as a federal police force.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I've been observing, and I think it's time to comment again, and the Chair has done this on several occasion, since there are a small number of people in the House maybe I should wait. There are far too many conversations going on. I find it difficult to listen and I'm trying to listen. I don't know if hon. members speaking or if hon. members who are listening are finding it as difficult to listen as I am.

Hon. members must realise that even though we allow people to talk to each other that when it gets to the extent that people can't be heard then we can't tolerate it. I ask hon. members please to particularly reserve their conversations for outside, behind the Chair, or particularly outside. There were at least five meetings going on at the time that I arose to ask for order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm grateful for Your Honour's protection because I need all the help I can get, I've been told on occasion.

Now as I was saying, there are two police forces in this Province. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

MR. TOBIN: Three! Davis Inlet.

MR. ROBERTS: Davis Inlet is not a police force, I say to my friend for Burin - Placentia West. The two young Jacobish brothers are not peace officers, which is the precise term. There are a number of so-called town police forces around the Province who are essentially municipal by-law enforcement officers. For example, the town of Gander, I believe, the so-called town police force has the ability to issue tickets under the Highway Traffic Act. Indeed, as do some of the enforcement officers here in the City of St. John's. I recently had the pleasure of paying a ticket. I went to a meeting at Gower Street Church on a Tuesday evening, came back out and found my car was a little more than when I left it. It had a ticket on it. Cost me twenty bucks, and I have a cancelled cheque to prove it.

Mr. Speaker, there are only two police forces in that sense. There are some other forces authorised to be peace officers under the Criminal Code. The Harbour police, some of the wildlife officers have certain peace officer powers. As a general rule there are only two police forces in this Province.

The Royal Newfoundland -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Somebody said University. They are authorised to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: They're not peace officers at the University, Mr. Speaker. They are authorised to give police tickets.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Maybe they want to be. So do the two young men in Davis Inlet. But they aren't at present. There are any number of people authorised to give parking tickets, as we'll all find out. One of the joys of being Minister of Justice is I get to do important things. I get to sign change of name applications and I get to sign authorizations that empower people to issue parking tickets at hospitals, in the University, and what have you. It's a very important and busy job I have up there. Keeps me busy.

Now, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TOBIN: Are you aware there are members in the House who were former police officers?

MR. ROBERTS: I know my friend, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, is a former police officer. Who's the second? The gentleman from St. John's East Extern?

MR. TOBIN: They were in cahoots together.

MR. ROBERTS: I see. I know that the gentleman from Placentia has been a success. What happened to the other gentleman, is what I would ask.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Ed, Ed! The Member for Placentia got kicked out first!

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, let me carry on. I don't know why whenever I stand I draw this.... somebody said to me the other day: Roberts, you can't even announce the Orders of the Day without getting in trouble. I don't understand it. It's been like this for twenty years. I just don't understand it. Back in the University of Toronto model parliament, where Stephen Lewis and Gerry Kaplin were playing games for the NDP, these great, sainted names from the past who were classmates of mine. Bob Rae was just a young beginner at that stage.

Anyway. Mr. Speaker, the Bill sets out a sound progressive and responsible scheme - in addition to organizing the Constabulary, which I'll deal with in a minute - to provide a public complaints procedure that will be fair to all concerned and that will be effective. It's fair to both sides of the complaint process - those who complain and those who are complained against. It is effective in that it will provide a means whereby a concern that a police officer has acted improperly in the course of his or her duties can be investigated and adjudicated by an independent knowledgeable and powerful commission.

Now, Mr. Speaker, Parts 1, 2, and 4 - there are four parts in this act, in fact there are five, Parts, 1, 2, and 4 are essentially an reenactment of the present Constabulary Act. There is little of anything that is new. There are some revised wordings but I cannot offhand recollect any specific section or any principle that is new. I am not holding that out as the ultimate word. There may be some in here. I have a concordance so if any member would like to know which section refers back to the previous act, or so forth, I would be happy to try to deal with that at the appropriate time. Part 5 as Your Honour has no doubt noticed is called Miscellaneous and Regulations. It is the punt being towed by the schooner. The part I want to talk about, Mr. Speaker, because it is the new part, is Part 3, the one headed Public Complaints. This is new. This if adopted will put into place a procedure -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry. Did my hon. friend for Kilbride say something?

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will treat that with the contempt the hon. gentleman generally deserves.

Part 3 brings in an entirely new procedure and an entirely new principle to the law of this Province. It is one which we in the government think is long overdue and we think it is a right and proper principle. It will bring into place a means by which a member of the public may initiate a procedure that will hold a police office to account for his or her conduct. It is that simple, it is that straightforward, and it is that clear.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Does the hon. Member for Menihek have a question?

Mr. Speaker, before I get into the provisions of the part in detail let me make two or three general comments. I welcome any comments from any hon. members, and I anticipate and suspect I will get them. I look forward with particular interest to the contribution of the lady from Humber East who speaks for justice on the other side and has a lot of experience in this portfolio. We will see what she has to say about it. I read with great interest the comments of my friend, and no doubt again colleague Peter Boswell, in Saturday's Telegram. I do not agree with everything he said but I think it should be said.


MR. ROBERTS: Unlike the hon. gentleman for Kilbride Mr. Boswell did his own research and had read the Bill. I am not sure he understood it but he certainly read it. I also want to state very clearly and for the record that I am told by my friend for Harbour Grace who chairs, I think it is called the Social Legislation Review Committee - I may have the name wrong, that there has been no request made of him by any group who wished to be heard with respect to this Bill, or individual. I will say clearly that I have heard from no group or no individual who wishes to have this Bill dealt with by anything other than the normal process. Let me also go on to say, lest there be any doubt, that I have made no changes in the procedure. I have no right to issue instructions to the Chairs of these committees. I have not, but even if I had, they would reject them out of hand. I want that to be on the record in the House.

Let me say also in response to my friend for St. John's East that he has once again misread the rules of the House. Standing Order 84 which he referred to earlier today on the Point of Order does not refer to the Review Committees, it refers only to the Standing Committees of the House.

All I will say, Mr. Speaker, is that whatever procedure may be in place - and I have asked that I be given some information on it, will be available, but it is not for me to initiate or not. These committees are masters of their own fate. I will say, though, the government's legislative program, the progress of the House, is not determined by committees. Committees are part of the House. They function as part of the House, but they are not the House. The House itself is master of its rules.

I heard my hon. friend from Humber East say earlier today, and this is a quotation, that: Only in the last year or so has the social committee ground to a halt.

I have no knowledge of that. I have only been in the House on this trip around for three, four, five, six, or seven months - whatever it has been. I will say to the hon. lady simply, if it ground to a halt a year ago I would assume that she, as vice-chair of it, would have done something to address the issue. I am told by my friend, the Chair, that she has not. Res ipsa loquitor - the matter speaks for itself. She now comes in, and I have no doubt we will hear her in due course, whine and complain that this has not gone to a committee. All I say is that she has done nothing about it.

MR. TOBIN: Rubbish.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West is once again rising from his normal place to compare himself to rubbish. Let him go back into the hole in which he normally lives.

I have asked already that hon. gentlemen, if they are not prepared to follow the decent thing, at least follow the rules. It does not take any brains to shout 'rubbish' or to shout some other equally inane comment. All it does is demean the hon. gentleman opposite. All it does is destroy the whole proceedings of the House of Assembly. That may be what they want to do. They are not succeeding in convincing the public. All they have accomplished by being here a month-and-a-half is to convince anybody who has followed the House that the hon. gentlemen opposite have not been there long enough to know what they are doing. Not only are they going to get another term, but they deserve another term in opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West should kindly restrain his soul in patience. I do not care to whom he was speaking. There is only one person to whom one may speak in this House, I say to my friend, and that is the Speaker. Unless the hon. gentleman is recognized, and some of us know him for what he truly is - a lovable, huggy-duggy doll of a man - really a teddy bear, a great big pussycat, that is all he really is, but he has to come in here and try to pretend he is a hairy-chested macho tough guy, but he is really a great big pussycat, a teddy bear. That is all he is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, my hon. friend from St. John's East does not get very much, but I say that is the hon. gentleman's problem. I can only sympathize with him. There may be those who could give him professional help, but I cannot.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to say that the Bill before the House now is the product of a great deal of study and work. By my count this is about the thirty-eighth draft of this Bill, but I acknowledge readily that the Bill is capable of improvement and as always we are prepared to deal with those who want to suggest improvements. We are prepared to take advice, and if we are persuaded of the desirability of change, we shall propose the change at the appropriate time.

We welcome suggestions, constructive or otherwise. They do not have to be constructive. We will welcome any suggestions. Even my friend from Burin - Placentia West could make a suggestion and I would welcome it. That is how open-minded I am.

In all likelihood, I would anticipate we will move some amendments at the committee stage. I had a discussion this morning which I think led me to suggest we should have an amendment to the reporting process by the Commissioner.

Mr. Speaker, part three - the one I am speaking about in detail, the new part - is headed 'Public Complaints'. The principle, the purpose, of the part is summed up in the first section found in it, which is Section 18(1). "The Lieutenant-Governor in Council shall appoint a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Public Complaints Commission consisting of a Commissioner."

It is a public complaints commission dealing only with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Now let me first of all say why it deals only with the RNC.

The RNC is the only police force in this Province - and I told Your Honour we only have two - over which this House and the Ministry which answers to this House - and which holds office because it has the confidence of this House - over which the Ministry has any operational control. The Minister of Justice has no operational control over the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Chief Superintendent, who is the senior RCMP officer in this Province, answers to the RCMP chain of command. There is operational liaison day by day.

The RCMP perform provincial police functions, and indeed we pay 70 per cent of the cost, approximately $70,000, for each officer. We pay 70 per cent of $100,000, $70,000 in respect of each of the - I think there are 458 Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in Newfoundland and Labrador today who are performing provincial functions. There are more than that who are doing other work. Customs and Excise, whatever other functions the RCMP -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Whatever there are. But subject to correction, I think there are 458 'p.y.'s,' they call them, person years, for which we pay. We don't have operational control over them. They do the work that we request but they answer to their own authorities. My liaison is to the Chief Superintendent or to the Commissioner, the people in Ottawa.

So we restricted this to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary because it's the only force this Province's legislation governs. The RCMP has its own public complaints procedure as outlined in this little pamphlet. If any hon. members would like to see a copy I'd be happy to have some sent down here and have them passed around. It describes every member of the RCMP as under a public complaints procedure, which indeed is quite similar to the one that is outlined in this Bill. Obviously there are some differences but basically they're much the same.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, this is a complaints commission only. I want to be very clear. Because there has been some criticism. This is not a commission to run the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary will continue to operate as it has for the 120 years of its proud history. It will answer to the Chief of Police who will answer to the civil authorities - the Minister of Justice and to the Cabinet, and in turn the Minister of Justice and the Cabinet answer to the House of Assembly. It will not answer to an anonymous, unelected, unrepresentative, unresponsive commission. It will continue to answer to the proper and appropriate chain of authority.

Indeed, members may already have noted that we've, in what I think is a very significant move, not only put in here a requirement that the Chief of Police shall carry out duties assigned to him by the minister - which was in the previous Act, found in Section 6(2) of the present Act. "The chief shall report to the minister and shall obey the minister's orders and directions." A proper principle in my view. But there's a new thing. The orders must be in writing. If I as minister am not prepared to reduce an order to writing then it's not a proper order and does not have to be followed by the Chief of Police. The advantage of that? It means that responsibility clearly lies where it should, with he or she who issues the order.

So this is a complaints commission. It doesn't run the police force. This recommendation is entirely consistent with the tenets of responsible government, as I've said. We are the Ministry, we answer to the House of Assembly, we answer to the people of this Province.

Secondly, it is entirely consistent - and I want to stress this - with the recommendations of Mr. Justice Hughes in his report. There's a great deal of misunderstanding, a great deal of misinformation. But if one looks at pages 462 through 464 of the report - and this is the recommendations section. It's Chapter 11. It's the first volume of Judge Hughes' report. Chapter 11, headed: "Furthering the Administration of Justice." Page 462 going through to 464 with respect to Recommendation 25.

I'll read just a part of it. It's not terribly long, let me read it all. "Witnesses before the Commission on several occasions expressed the need for a process by which an independent body could review public complaints, particularly complaints against the police.

The office of Ombudsman - or Parliamentary Commissioner as officially described - was not constituted to deal with complaints, but in practice fulfilled public need in that quarter". The ombudsman is no longer here, whether we like it or not, that is the decision of the government and in due course of the House. "It is now abolished, the office of the ombudsman and there have been ministerial statements indicating that the matter of providing for public complaints against the police was under advisement", so they were. My predecessor, the gentleman from Humber West made those statements and I do not know if my friend from Bonavista South did but certainly we are on record clearly as saying we are going to make provision and here it is.

Judge Hughes continued: "The position of this commission is that such a provision should be made, although with some reservations about a guarantee of independence of all political control. There is no principle of democracy, as expressed in our parliamentary system, to justify complete removal from government of responsibility for the supervision of a body to which government is itself responsible as from time to time elected by the people of the province. Over the years there has been a tendency for parliaments and legislatures to shed responsibility for various matters by creating boards and commissions to discharge duties previously undertaken by parliamentary committees. This has culminated in a state of mind" - and I council the critics of the fact that this commission answers through a minister or answers to the House but is created by the ministry under a legislation if this legislation be adopted. Here is what Judge Hughes said: "This has culminated in a state of mind which suggests that anything political is somehow reprehensible, even though politics", I say to my friend from St. John's South, "even though politics must, upon reflection, be recognized as a guarantee of freedom, sought and fought for over many generations". Now, that is what Judge Hughes had to say. He went on -

MS. VERGE: Read on.

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry? I shall gladly read on. "It would be open to a solicitor general" but we have no such a gentleman and we are not going to, we are reducing the size of the Cabinet. "It would be open to a solicitor general" - I am sorry?

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We will deal with that at the appropriate time. This is not the appropriate time, I say to the lady.

"It would be open to a solicitor general to create a police commission with a public complaints bureau as an emanation or as a separate body". It would be open he says, "It may be too late to suggest that an all-party committee of the House of Assembly could discharge the same function for less money and be in closer touch with complainants".

MS. VERGE: Is it too late?

MR. ROBERTS: To suggest an all party committee? Mr. Speaker, given the conduct of the opposition, yes. "If a police commission is decided upon it should, in my respectful view", said Judge Hughes, "consist of no more than three commissioners one of whom might be a provincial court judge, seconded for the position of chairman, and should be empowered to hear appeals from a decision of the chief of police in matters of discipline within the Constabulary, to make recommendations to government as to pay and allowances for this force and, if deemed preferable to other solutions, to entertain and dispose of complaints about the police from members of the public. This solution would limit the responsibilities of the solicitor general with respect to such a commission to reporting in the House of Assembly upon its transactions and making provisions for its continued existence. After consideration of the various alternatives, and bearing in mind the situation of the R.C.M.P. Public Complaints Commission at Ottawa, it is recommended:

Recommendation 25:

That a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Complaints Commission be established, reporting to the Solicitor General of Newfoundland and including for administrative purposes within his or her Department, consisting of not more than three commissioners, one of whom should be a Judge of the Provincial Court seconded for the purpose to act as chairman and chief executive officer".

That is the end of the discussion on that point as the hon. lady rightly will confirm. So, Mr. Speaker, we have, I said, put forward a scheme which is entirely consistent with that. We are not prepared to have a solicitor general, fifteen ministers is enough, the other crowd were up to twenty-three, that would have made it twenty-four, the Premier has many times said we are determined to run this Province with a smaller Cabinet. Therefore all we would do if we had a solicitor general is have some individual - all we would have with a solicitor general - is have some minister with an extra portfolio. There is no purpose to be gained by that, the last thing in the world this Province needs is another department of government. We could do, in my judgement with fewer than we have now. Now, Mr. Speaker, let me go on to point out to the House that the powers of this commission do not extend to internal discipline within the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, we considered that and we rejected it. We considered it and we rejected it.

In our view, Mr. Speaker, it would have involved excessive and unacceptable rewriting of the collective agreement with the police brotherhood. We are not prepared to do this. I saw at one stage a draft, one of the -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of the minister that there are sisters in the constabulary nowadays. The PC administration of Premier Peckford many years ago opened the doors of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to women. We have not done a very good job of recruiting and appointing women but nevertheless there are women in the constabulary in 1992 and the current name of the Constabulary Association is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association. Many years ago it was known as the brotherhood and perhaps that was the name by which it went when the hon. Minister was last in the Assembly but we did make considerable progress in his absence in the 1980s and early 1990s.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. lady for her helpfulness. I would say the first part of her comment was the first intelligent thing she said in this House since I have been back in it, and that is one thing more intelligent than she said in the years I was here before when she was here. If I have inadvertently got the name wrong, then I, of course, acknowledge that. Only the hon. lady claims to be perfect, not that she quite makes it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: The point of what I was saying is we were not prepared to come to the House and ask it to rewrite the collective agreement with the union association representing the police, the men and women of the force. I saw a draft at one stage, one of a number of drafts that would have done that, but it was rejected. The ministry's position today is clearly laid out in this Bill. Complaints by the police against the police: internal disciplinary matters will be dealt with as heretofore. There is quite an extensive procedure in place I am told that will continue. This Bill deals only with complaints against the police by a member of the public and that is in Section 22. Now, Mr. Speaker, we talk about the way in which it will work.

Section 22 of the Bill says that a person other than a police officer may file a complaint concerning the conduct of a police officer in writing at a constabulary office or with the commissioner. That is the basic starting point for everything, a member of the public. The complaint will be investigated in the first instance by the chief or his designate. Now, why this model? It has drawn some criticism. It is fair criticism so let me try to respond to it. Obviously, a complaint has to be investigated by somebody. There were three possible choices, Mr. Speaker. The first is by another police force such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We could do that if we wished. We could ask the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to be the investigating body. Another would be to create yet another police force, an investigating body, the office of the commissioner. We could hire a number of former police officers, RCMP, RNC, or somebody else, create an entirely new police force or we could adopt this model. We have chosen this one. It is the one used by the RCMP and it worked well with them. In the first instance the chief will designate - there is an internal review section, if I have the name correctly - will designate individuals, an officer and men and women, two constables to make the investigation.

Now, as I have said the RCMP investigate themselves and that works. That is relatively standard, I am told, throughout Canada. The suggestion we make here is more or less usual, there are other models. In a Province that has a number of police forces they sometimes have a police commission but usually they use police forces to investigate. We cannot ignore cost considerations, Mr. Speaker. We get hammered by the Opposition every day, that we are not spending enough on this or that. If we were to create another police force it would cost more money. And, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that in respect of discipline imposed by the chief we have provided, or this legislation has provided, an automatic right of appeal to the independent commissioner.

Let me say as well, Mr. Speaker, this Bill will allow the chief, should he or she wish, to call in another police force to help with the investigation, but that does not solve the problem. People say: oh it is the police investigating themselves. Let me tell you that in itself does not meet the need. You will remember, Your Honour, that there was an unfortunate incident at the Brittany Inns, here in St. John's a year or two ago, when a man died in some kind of incident. I am going to pick very neutral terms.

There was some suggestion that the police had acted improperly. There was no question the police were summoned to the scene and responded to the call and there was some suggestion they had acted improperly. Eventually, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary requested officers of the Ontario Provincial Police to come and investigate that. They did, they made their investigation, they made their report, there was still a cry of cover-up at the end of the day. Those who say that the police are investigating themselves are not only demeaning every police officer, assuming everyone of them is corrupt, crooked and incompetent and will not do a job properly, and I reject that on the basis of the uncontroverted evidence to the contrary, but also, Mr. Speaker, what they are really saying is that unless you agree with what we are saying, it is not a fair investigation and a fair result, so we are suggesting the system here.

But, Mr. Speaker, one will note that the commissioner must be told of every complaint. An individual can file a complaint either with the constabulary, with the office of the chief or deputy chief, or with the commissioner's office which will not be in the constabulary building; it will be some government building. My friend for Bonavista South will find a suitable place and that is where he or she and a small staff will be. But the commissioner must be told of every complaint, so if a citizen goes directly to the police, a copy of that complaint goes over to the commissioner and what that means is that there are no secret complaints. Every complaint goes in the system, the commissioner knows about it and obviously, has the ability as well as the authority to follow-up on it.

Mr. Speaker, the chief makes, I will speak 'his' because the present chief is a male, is a man, another one may be a female, that remains to be seen but the present chief is the present chief. The chief makes his investigation and he has the power in section (25), to impose discipline, to dismiss the complaint as being unfounded or, with the agreement of all parties, to settle the matter. If all parties agree, that is obviously the end of it. If on the other hand, he imposes discipline, which is unacceptable to the police officer or to the complainant, or if he dismisses the complaint and the complainant finds that unacceptable, either may appeal to the commissioner, as a right, no leave, no nothing, as a right and further, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the complainant and the police officer are aware of the situation, there is an obligation on the chief, it is in 25(2): to inform in writing of the outcome, the dismissal or the discipline and the reasons for that discipline or dismissal. That is the same obligation that is imposed on judges; to file a decision, they can do it orally but usually it is in writing and to give reasons, so a complainant will know, and the officer will know what has been done and why. They will then be able to exercise their decision in an informed manner.

There is no hidden or back door proceeding. This will be an open public accountability process. As I said, either the complainant or the police officer may appeal. If an appeal is lodged the commissioner shall investigate. Section 2(1) and he may try to settle it by agreement. Obviously, if both sides agree, that is a fair resolution. What could be an example? The chief might impose a discipline of ten days for an offence. That is a power the chief has, the complainant may say that is not enough and may appeal. Maybe they will agree on twelve days or the police officer may say that is too much, may appeal and they might agree on seven days, but if all hands agree, that settles the problem, life goes on, we get on with it.

If the commissioner is not able to settle it, he makes an investigation or he may investigate and then try to settle. No cost to the complainant or to the officer. No need to retain a lawyer. Those who raise this criticism, it's unfounded. At this stage. I'll deal with it later. No cost to anybody. The commissioner, through an investigator, makes the investigation, comes to his or her own decision, and then goes ahead and makes a resolution of it.

There are ample powers in Section 27 to the commissioner. They are more than comparable to those given to the ombudsman in the parliamentary commissioner act. More than comparable. They are all that could be allowed by law, given the (Inaudible) decision, enter with search warrants, enter - police officers without search warrant, properly so. But others, they need search warrants. I don't want some investigator coming to my house or to anybody else's house demanding papers or access without a search warrant. That's a basic civil liberty protection.

The commissioner if he cannot settle, Mr. Speaker, either confirms the chief's decision and dismisses the appeal or refers the matter to an adjudicator. In other words the commissioner is an investigator, he's a gateway through which the process goes.

MS. VERGE: Or doesn't go.

MR. ROBERTS: Or doesn't go, yes. Either way. There are two choices: dismisses or goes forward. If the commissioner dismisses there is an automatic appeal to the court. Section 39, I say to my hon. friend for Humber East, needs refinement. I'm not sure I like the way it reads now. But there will be an automatic right of appeal to a court. So a court can review the matter then.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend for St. John's East, we're going to change the bit that says fact or fact and law. It says could be a right of an appeal. The draft is not adequate and the first - there are other changes too, but that's one. There will be a right of appeal. There is also of course the administrative law right, certiorari and judicial review, but we don't need to spell those out. The courts will provide those anyway. There is an automatic right of appeal. Section 39 will be changed in due course.

Now before I go on with what happens if it goes forward to an adjudicator, and I confess I'm going to run out of time very shortly, so I may have to try to foreshorten this, the commissioner in my submission, Mr. Speaker, is both a powerful and an independent person. He or she will hold office - Section 18(3)(a) - "for 5 years during good behaviour." In other words, he or she can be removed only for cause. Obviously appointed by the Cabinet. Who else can appoint somebody?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: House of Assembly? That's equivalent to the Cabinet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it's equivalent to the Cabinet. It is equivalent to the Cabinet if the Ministry brings in a recommendation and the gentleman opposite - the hon. lady is quite right. It's not equivalent to the Cabinet in that sense. She's quite right. I misspoke. But in the sense that the government of the day obviously have command of the House, control of the House - perhaps we should make it subject to approval by the House. I'm not terribly hung up one way or the other on that. I'm already going to suggest - I can't amend my own Bill - that we change the reporting function to make it comparable to the Auditor General. Maybe we should.

Anyway, at the end of the day the appointment will have to have the support of the Ministry or it will not go forward. Maybe the hon. lady and gentlemen opposite have a point. Given some of their appointments over the years maybe they should come to the House. This crowd opposite can hardly talk of the quality of public appointments. I'm not going to get into names, but they speak for themselves. Some of the appointments they dragged into public life were... anyway. We'll think about that.

The commissioner answers only to the courts in the performance of her or his duties. There's a right of appeal for anyone aggrieved by the commissioner's decision, particularly against the dismissal of the complaint. That's Section 36. I say to my friend, I said Section 39 earlier. I should have said, Section 36. We're going to change 39 as well. Thirty-six I think needs some further work done on it. But there is a right of appeal. We will make clear that it is a full right of appeal.

I've already said we're prepared to consider changing the reporting mechanism. It's now to the minister and to the House. That's the way the Auditor General used to report. I think we've changed that in the new Auditor General's Act. So perhaps the commissioner should make his or her annual report to the House and have a right to make a special report as the Auditor General does. Again, I'm not wound up on that one way or the other. If people can suggest constructive changes we would be more than prepared to put them forward. We have to change section 36 for a couple of reasons. One of them is that it is possible that a police officer could be sentenced to discipline under this section without ever having been heard. Now, that may sound strange but the procedure is such, and that has to be changed. There will be a right of appeal to a judge of the Trial Division who will be able to deal with the matter de novo, and in the unlikely event that everything else went wrong, the judge would be able to deal with it.

Now, to come back to the commission. As the hon. lady quite rightly said, he or she can make one of two responses to an appeal, assuming there is no settlement; if there is a settlement, fine, but if there is no settlement, one of two responses: Dismissed, in which case, anyone affected - Section 36 says the complainant or the police officer may make an appeal, so either side could make an appeal to the court, or the commissioner may refer the matter to an adjudicator. There will be six adjudicators who will hold office for a term of three years on good behaviour. That is modeled on the Human Rights Commission practice. I am not sure which administration brought it in but it seems to be working very well. I hear this at home, I might add, as well as elsewhere. There is a panel of adjudicators and the commissioners will simply refer it to one, I assume, more or less in rotation. There may be conflicts, there may be scheduling problems but the commissioner will refer it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, the Human Rights Commission has a very competent Chair I am the first to acknowledge. My wife might not agree with the hon. gentleman, but I would say it has a very competent Chair. The commissioner makes a reference. It is not a minister, not the Cabinet - 28 (1).

Now, an important point, Mr. Speaker, and one which those who criticize the bill, including Mr. Boswell, appear to have overlooked. Section 30 Sub (1) makes it clear that the commissioner has carriage of the matter before an adjudicator. Now, what that means, if I get out of the legal jargon, is the commissioner has the burden of hiring the lawyer, instructing the lawyer and taking the matter forward. The commissioner, if you wish, becomes the prosecutor, or the plaintiff, or the complainant, or call it what you want; the commissioner has carriage of the matter, the same way as in a criminal matter. And this is not a criminal matter, because in a criminal matter the Crown has carriage of the matter. The complainant comes to the police, an investigation is made, the police officer lays the charges, Crown prosecutors take over and have carriage of the matter. Now, that I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is important and it is part of an answer to those who say this system is too expensive. It is put in there quite deliberately, the commissioner will have the carriage of the matter, as does the Human Rights Commission.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that both the complainant and the police officer have the right to be present and to be heard. Again it is in Section 30, very important, no behind doors deals, no secret dispositions. The complainant has the right to be present and to be heard and so does the police officer whose conduct is at issue. The hearings are public, Section 32. The adjudicator has the power to close for cause comparable to that given the courts, comparable to that given the Law Society in that bill, but the hearings are public. I was asked in a meeting earlier today whether there would be a public announcement of the hearings. I cannot answer that because that would be up to the commissioner but I am quite sure it will become public that hearings are to be held, or a hearing is to be held.

The House will note that the civil standard, the balance of probability standard is the one that will determine whether the complaint is sustained or not - to be precise, whether the decision be confirmed or whether it be changed in some way. This is not a criminal proceeding, it is a civil proceeding. 'The adjudicator shall report his or her order at the end of the day,' section 33 (4), 'to all parties and in writing with reasons' - again, the same safeguard, in writing and with reasons, so the complainant will know exactly what has been done and the police office will know exactly what has been done.

Section thirty-three (7), again drawing some criticism but it is worth thinking about now, this section. 'An adjudicator has the power to order costs.' That is a power every judge in a civil proceeding has but we have limited it here. 'Following a hearing under this part, where an adjudicator concludes,' - where an adjudicator concludes - 'that the actions of a complainant in making a complaint were unfounded, the adjudicator may order' - so it has to be unfounded, and even if it is unfounded the adjudicator 'may' - not shall - 'may order that the complainant pay the reasonable costs incurred by the commission in conducting an investigation, a hearing, or both.'

I suggest that is a reasonable power to give to an adjudicator. Whether it will ever be used is another issue. I hope it will not be. I would hope one would not have unfounded complaints going forward to hearings, but it is a safeguard to the adjudicator and my friend from Harbour Main is quite - it is a safeguard. It is not a burden, it is a safeguard. Of course, those are tax costs under The Judicature Act, a term that lawyers are familiar with. A taxing officer of the court sets them. They are not the full costs.

The order of the adjudicator is enforceable as a judgement of the Trial Division.

We come to Section 39. There is to be an annual report, it now says, to the minister who will table it in the House. I am prepared, Mr. Speaker, at second reading, to ask one of my colleagues to move that we amend that so that the report comes directly to Your Honour, as does the Auditor General's Report, and with a special report power as well.

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure how much longer I have.

MR. SPEAKER: Approximately eight minutes, I believe.

MR. ROBERTS: Eight minutes - well, let me try to bring this to a conclusion, because I have gone through Part 4 in ten minutes, I think.

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

MS. VERGE: We, the official Opposition, would be glad to give the minister however much time he needs to complete his remarks. He has ten minutes remaining in his hour but if, at the end of the hour, the minister would like more time, we will give leave for a reasonable amount of additional time.

MR. ROBERTS: I thank the hon. lady and I shall make use of that if I need to, but I will try to be brief. Let me say in return that we will extend to her, of course, the same courtesy, and are only too happy to do it.

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: I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the Government House Leader not rely on the expectation of leave. I would not intend to grant leave to the minister to continue beyond his allotted time. I understand that the courtesy of the House is not being extended to me, and I would not be willing to do it for the minister.

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

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) any member, and as with any of us, he does what he thinks best and takes whatever consequences flow. That is fine with me. I have no problem.

Now, I want to make a comment or two about the Hughes Report. I have gone through Part 4 in fair detail. If I have left something out it is inadvertent, but I am quite prepared to deal with it either during Committee or at some other time.

With respect to the Hughes Report, I want to make a couple of points. There are those who say - and I know they say it in good faith, but I am afraid I must advance the view that they are entirely wrong - that somehow an Ombudsman would have solved all of these problems. All I want to say is that there was an Ombudsman in place throughout the entire Hughes period. I forget when Mr. Peddle was appointed Ombudsman - sometime after he was defeated in the 1972 federal election by Bill Rompkey, 1973 or 1974. He was in office throughout the whole period.

My friend from Kilbride says, 'if he had the power'- I don't argue with that but I will simply say that for seventeen years he and his colleagues were the Ministry and made no amendment that I know of to the Parliamentary Commissioner Act. In fact, they were the Ministry during the entire Hughes Period. I am not blaming my hon. friend or anybody else. But what I want to say - and I think perhaps my friend and I for once are singing from the same hymn book, which means we both would be worrying about it. But the Ombudsman is not an answer to the problems that the Hughes Commission addressed. It is night and day. The Ombudsman was aimed at an entirely different thing. The argument that if there had been an Ombudsman we would not need this bill is just hogwash, with all respect.

There may or may not be need for an Ombudsman - we can debate that at another time. We have, in fact, but this bill addresses a very different situation.

MR. R. AYLWARD: An Ombudsman could do this job plus whatever other jobs (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to debate today whether we should have an Ombudsman or not. What I will say to my hon. friend is that the Ombudsman, as the office was constituted, and including the seventeen years that the lady and gentlemen opposite formed the Ministry, his powers were (inaudible). That act was put through in the last years of the Smallwood administration. It was essentially unchanged during the entire tenure of Mr. Peckford, Mr. Moores and Mr. Rideout.

If the powers were not adequate, I cannot answer for that. What I can say is that those who say that we would not need a Police Complaints Commission if we still had the Ombudsman are just full of hogwash.

Secondly, and I have dealt with this, the need for a police commission - that is not what Judge Hughes recommended. I have already read the relevant portions of his report on pages 463-464.

Let me say a word now about what did happen with the events that Judge Hughes examined and reported upon. There are really only a couple sections of the report that one needs to refer to. If you look at page 129, a sub-section headed succinctly but very effectively, 'No Charges'. What happened was an investigation was stopped by the police authorities. No charges were laid even though there were grounds to lay charges, and I want to make a statement here that I have made before, but let me make it here as well, that there is no police officer in this Province today, no peace officer - which is broader than police officers - who needs permission from anybody before laying a charge as long as she or he is prepared to take an information which is simply an affidavit under oath, in a special form, that he or she has reasonable and probable grounds, to believe that an offence has been committed. That is all that is needed. Any peace officer may go and lay a charge under any applicable statute at any time as long as he or she is prepared to take the information.

And I will go further, Mr. Speaker, if anybody ever instructs a police officer not to lay an information when he or she is prepared to do so, then the person making that instruction has committed a criminal offence and the person to whom the instruction is given is under a duty to report that either to his or her immediate superior or, to someone up the line. This bill does not address that situation. This is a public complaints proceeding, although a member of the public would be able to say: 'I reported a criminal complaint, nothing happened,' and thus bring it into the system, but it would not address the situation in Hughes, where it would appear, the Chief of Police or the late John Norman - it would appear on the evidence or the findings of Judge Hughes - gave an order that an investigation be stopped.

I do not know of any way to stop that situation, except men believing and women believing in the probity of the system - and I will say, I knew John Norman well, I knew him very well - that John Norman, as Judge Hughes found, was functioning in a system where the police believed that this was the way things worked. Judge Hughes makes that specific finding, that the police were accustomed to taking directions from the Department of Justice. Well, that was the 1970s; I don't know what went on in the 1980s, but I tell you, in the 1990s they don't take directions from the Department of Justice. We don't offer it and they don't take it. But I will say again, no police officer needs leave of anybody to lay a charge under any relevant or applicable statute.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I do not know what - I mean, Judge Hughes found in the 1970s that the police routinely came in and sought, not just on sexual abuse at Mount Cashel, but 'routinely', I think, is his word.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: He could have laid the charge. Yes, he certainly could have. I am reading now from Judge Hughes, page 129: 'Both Robert Hillier and Ralph Pitcher,' Sergeants, I think in the RNC at the time, investigating, 'testified that they felt charges could and should have been laid and yet it is uncontested that fifteen years ago and even more recently' - now, the judge did not put a time on it, he just said, 'even more recently, the accepted practice was to submit reports to the Department of Justice in all but routine proceedings for direction as to whether charges should be brought.'

Now, that is what was going on. I do not know how long it was going on, I do not know when it ended. I know it is ended now. It may well have ended before Judge Hughes made his Report, I mean, I am not putting any time on it, I am simply saying it is ended now. The hon. lady can speak for her time as Minister of Justice, she would know what went on, I would not.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have only three minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. ROBERTS: No, the hon. gentleman from St. John's East has said he is not going to give me leave, which is fine, tit for tat. He is the tit, I am the tat.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to say one more thing about the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman had the power to make a special report. The Ombudsman made one special report, to my recollection, in the fifteen or sixteen years that that office was filled.

AN HON. MEMBER: But that was after he was (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It was a case - no. The late, not the late life, but the late minister, Jim Morgan, a gentleman who graced this House for many years in a memorable style - the Ombudsman came in and made a statement, a special report that Mr. Morgan had appointed somebody to an office, notwithstanding the Public Service Commission recommendations. That report came in, it lay on the Table of the House and stank for a couple days, the Ministry of the day ignored it and went on. So much for the ombudsman's powers. Now, Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by making one other point. I have here some statistics on the numbers of citizens complaints against the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for the last five complete years and for this year. I will table copies of this if members want them. In 1987, there were a total of thirty complaints, in 1988 a total of sixty-nine, in 1989 a total of sixty-eight, in 1990 a total of sixty-one, in 1991 eighty-six and in 1992 to date, here we are into December, seventy-six. So it has been fairly consistent, those are the numbers, this comes from a report prepared by Sergeant Brown of the Constabulary but those are the numbers we are dealing with.

So, if the House thinks there are hundreds or thousands of complaints they should take cognizance of this and some of these are serious and some are not. There are far more internal complaints, but you know, some of these complaints are very serious some are perhaps less serious. There was a complaint recently, a man complained or a woman - a person complained that - this is complaint 92 (12): Police officer raised voice while making arrest. You can imagine a person going in and laying a complaint, the police officer who arrested me raised his or her voice while making the arrest. Now there were others: improper conduct, harassment, false arrest, unlawful detention. These are all matters that have to be addressed: sexual assault, improper conduct, assault, false arrest, but one person actually had the nerve to complain: A police officer raised his voice.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by saying I look forward to the debate on the Bill. I do not know yet whether we are sitting this evening. I will consult with my colleagues and see whether we will ask the House to sit tonight. I noticed the enthusiasm on the Opposition side, maybe they would want to. I read Dr. Boswell's - he is a friend of mine, he was, he is and I hope will be for a long time, he and I differ on this. I would say to my hon. friend that he may very well want to quote Dr. Boswell, I hope he does some research on his own - well he shakes his head, res ipsa loquitor, again.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, in closing that I - as I began, that I commend this Bill to the House. I think it is a good step forward. I do not put it out as perfection, I put it out as a reasonable responsible piece of legislation that strikes a fair balance between the rights of a police officer accused of improper conduct and the rights of a complainant, a citizen who feels that he, she or it, because a company can make a complaint, he, she or it has been subjected to improper conduct by a police officer. It is effective, it is fair and will work well, in my judgment. We put it forward, we are willing to look at amendments, we put it forward believing it to be a significant step forward and on that basis, Mr. Speaker, it is with very great pride indeed that I ask this House to give this Bill second reading and move it forward.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, as the minister said when he began his speech on second reading about the Bill revising the law on the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, most of the Bill simply restates and consolidates the present legislation governing the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. The new provisions are in part three, the part purporting to create a public police complaints commission, that part is found on pages 12-24 of the Bill and comprises clauses 18-43. I am going to concentrate my remarks on those new provisions. I will focus on the governments proposal to establish a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Police Complaints Commission. I will first talk about the process being followed by the government. I severely fault the government and the minister for their process, number one for their delay in bringing forward the legislation. We have had a two year hiatus in this Province, we have had a two year gap from the time the government eliminated the ombudsman office until the advancement of this proposal for a Constabulary Complaints Commission.

The ombudsman was specifically empowered to deal with public complaints about the Royal Newfoundland constabulary. That was provided through an amendment to the Ombudsman's Act roughly ten to twelve years ago. The ombudsman was set up under legislation passed at the very end of the Smallwood era but it wasn't actually proclaimed in force and activated until the mid-1970s, in the PC administration of Premier Frank Moores.

The legislative design ensured that the ombudsman would function independently or at arm's length from the Cabinet, from ministers, from the partisan, political arm of the government. The design included the ombudsman's being appointed by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the full House of Assembly. There was provision for all-party input into the selection.

Secondly, the ombudsman was paid through a process outside of the Cabinet process. The ombudsman's remuneration was set independently of the Cabinet.

Thirdly, the legislation provided for the ombudsman serving for a ten year term. So built into the design of the ombudsman was a guarantee of independence from the Cabinet.

The ombudsman was given the mandate to investigate complaints against all departments and branches of the provincial government. As I say, through an explicit amendment a few years after the office was first established the ombudsman was mandated to deal with complaints about the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. The ombudsman had special powers of investigation, including the ability to require the production of government documents and to insist upon the production of police reports, reports which were for most purposes confidential. The ombudsman was given a budget and a staff with which to carry out his work, and the ombudsman was required to report yearly, or more often, when warranted, to the House of Assembly.

The ombudsman's model was one that I think was a good one, a model which could have been and should have been emulated in establishing a Constabulary Police Complaints Commission. The ombudsman in practice did not have the profile and did not trigger the results that some people would have wished. In my view, that was not because of any flaw in the constitution of the office. It wasn't because of any structural deficiency in the relationship between the office and other branches of the government. If there was any shortcoming with the way the office functioned, then there were ways to deal with those shortcomings.

Disappointingly the Wells administration abolished the institution. Now there were many people who believed that some individuals in the administration resented the fact that the holder of the office some years previous had been a Progressive Conservative politician. As soon as the Wells administration came to office those individuals pressed to have removed from their office all people with a former PC Party connection, regardless of how scrupulously and honourably those people fulfilled their public duties.

The incumbent, Mr. Ambrose Peddle, was appointed initially in 1975. There was some controversy about his original appointment. Liberals in the House of Assembly at the time complained about the choice. However, at the end of his first ten year term when the government of the day proposed to the House of Assembly that Mr. Peddle be reappointed, Liberals then in the House praised his record of service. The present Speaker, then sitting as a Liberal opposition member, was one of the members who spoke in the House, and his remarks are on the record, expressing a glowing tribute of Mr. Peddle's performance as ombudsman from 1975 to 1985. The present Minister of Fisheries was another Liberal opposition member in 1985 who endorsed with enthusiasm the reappointment of Mr. Peddle.

All members of the House of Assembly - government PC members and opposition Liberal members in 1975 - agreed that Mr. Peddle should be reappointed for a second ten year term.

AN HON. MEMBER: 'Eighty-five, not 1975.

MS. VERGE: 'Eighty-five, the minister accurately corrects me. His initial appointment was made in 1975 and the reappointment on the unanimous recommendation of the House of Assembly was made in 1985.

Mr. Speaker, when the government changed in 1989 and the Wells administration took office, as the government was projecting a current account surplus of $20 million, the government - so I'm told - because of a few individuals who were so partisan and so petty that they wanted to get rid of any public office holders with any prior PC connection, pressured for Mr. Peddle's removal. The Premier and the President of Treasury Board were squeamish about singling out Mr. Peddle and getting rid of him because they felt they couldn't uphold that principle. As we all know, the Premier likes to hold himself out as a man of principle, integrity and conscience. So instead of firing Mr. Peddle they got rid of the whole institution.

That was reprehensible. That has given Newfoundland and Labrador the dubious distinction of becoming the first jurisdiction in the whole world to disband an ombudsman's office. The government allowed two whole years to go by before beginning to move to fill the void by creating a Constabulary Complaints Commission. Ironically, in the course of those two years the Hughes Royal Commission was doing its work. It was just at that point that people - myself included - became acutely aware of the vital necessity of having an independent body to deal with complaints against the Constabulary; and more than that, to deal with complaints from Constabulary members. The kind of complaints that the officers investigating the original 1975 Mount Cashel complaints might have made when their investigations were thwarted by their superior officers.

We've had a two year void. The Hughes Commission reported more than a year and a half ago in May 1991. The minister read the relevant provisions of the Hughes report. At my prompting he progressed from reading the first paragraph to the second paragraph. He's trying to convince us that the legislation he's presented to us conforms with what Judge Hughes recommended. In fact, it does nothing of the sort.

Yes, Mr. Justice Hughes says that politicians, cabinets and ministers should continue to have responsibility for police. Yes, there should be civilian control of police and that control ultimately should rest with elected and accountable politicians. Mr. Justice Hughes, however, recommended that there be two separate Cabinet ministers for the investigative and prosecutorial functions within the criminal justice system. His report calls for the establishment of a solicitor general in addition to a Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

The Minister of Justice says the government rejected that because the government wants to keep the size of the Cabinet small and keep down cost. How, though, is the government going to address and respond to the concern raised by Mr. Justice Hughes that there be some separation of the investigative and prosecutorial criminal justice functions?

The report continues to say that it would be open to a solicitor general to create a police commission with a public complaints bureau. Judge Hughes talks about both a police commission and a complaints body, and there is a distinction between the two.

All the government has put before us in this Bill is an attempt at a complaints body and, as I will explain later, in my view, an attempt with serious shortcomings.

Judge Hughes does parenthetically mention the possibility of an all-party committee of the House of Assembly discharging the function of a police commission, and comments that that could take place for less money than a separate commission, and suggests that it might be in closer touch with complainants. That is an idea which has not been explored. The minister made a snide dismissal of it, but he did not apparently give serious consideration to it.

Judge Hughes continues to say that a police commission - and note here he is talking about commission rather than a complaints body - should have no more than three members, but he stresses that it should have a Chair who is a provincial court judge. He outlines three powers for a commission:

(1) Hearing appeals of decisions of the chief of police in disciplinary matters that emanate within the constabulary;

(2) Making recommendations to government as to pay and allowances of the force as well as, he says, other solutions;

(3) To entertain and dispose of complaints about the police from members of the public.

He does express a concern for having an appropriate relationship between the commission and the responsible minister. As I have said before, of course, earlier in the report he recommended that there be two ministers - a Minister of Justice and Attorney General responsible for the prosecutorial function, and a new minister, a solicitor general, responsible for police and the investigative part of the criminal justice process.

He is expressing concern about an appropriate relationship between the solicitor general and the police commission. He says, the responsibilities of the responsible minister, the Solicitor General, would be limited to reporting to the House of Assembly upon the commission's transactions and to making provisions for the continued existence of the commission. Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Justice and the Wells Administration have put before us in this bill is markedly different from what Mr. Justice Hughes recommended in his Royal Commission Report. So, in commenting on the process, Mr. Speaker, I say, first of all, that the government has allowed a two-year void to occur with no Ombudsman and with no independent agency empowered to deal with complaints against the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. That two-year period overlapped with the work and publication of the report of the Hughes Commission. The government, in delaying the way they have, have ignored growing public concerns and have ignored the advice of the Hughes Royal Commission Report, so we have had an inexcusable two-year delay.

Mr. Speaker, this bill was printed and distributed in this House of Assembly two weeks ago. We have had the bill for two weeks but the mini-Budget intervened. This is a significant piece of legislation, even the minister said that, yet the government is not giving the members of this House, or the public, a chance to properly consider it and react to it. The minister has failed to refer this important legislation to the Social Legislation Review Committee. Now, the minister and one of the chorus over there, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, are saying that nobody asked for it. Now, perhaps the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, in his time on the back bench, did not serve on a Legislation Review Committee, but some of his colleagues have chaired those committees and have served as members of them. The Member for Harbour Grace -

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, on a point of order.

MR. HOGAN: If the hon. member was attempting that as a slur, I did serve on a committee, the Public Accounts Committee, whose members did not serve on Legislation Review Committees. Withdraw the slur, Mr. Speaker, please.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, there was certainly no slur intended. The point I made was just confirmed by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. I suspected that he had not served on a Legislation Review Committee or else he would not have made the comments he did. His colleagues who have served on the committees and his colleagues who chaired the committees know that for the first year or two of their existence they worked well. A process grew up of ministers sponsoring bills and referring the draft legislation to the committees for the committees to examine. In the case of simple routine housekeeping measures, the committees usually decided that hearings were not necessary, although usually we advertised the fact that the committees were dealing with the bills to give people a chance to respond. But, in the case of significant legislative reform, the committees not only advertised but individual members of the committee made personal contact with groups we knew had an interest in the measures. We held public hearings. Where the demand warranted, the committees travelled and held hearings outside St. John's.

Now, in the case of the Social Legislation Review Committee, the government legislation has been rather disappointing. While the government had promised significant social legislation reform such as a new Child Welfare Act, such as a new Day Care Act, such as a new Schools Act, and such as legislation creating a police commission, the first three legislative reform measures have not yet materialized. The legislation purporting to establish a police complaints commission was printed and distributed here exactly two weeks ago.

Now, the Chairperson of the Social Committee, the Member for Harbour Grace, has been an effective Chair. He did an excellent job of holding a hearing on another bill, the bill amending the Law Society Act, a week or two ago, but he and the committee have not been given the police bill, the bill we are now considering. Mr. Speaker, the minister knows, or ought to know, other members of the House realize, and I am certainly aware of the fact that there are people outside this Chamber who are very much interested in this legislation. I know the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association has a keen interest in the subject of the establishment of a police commission and a police complaints commission for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. That organization has been doing research about police commissions for several months now.

Back as early as the summer, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association began making plans to have a special forum on the subject of police commissions for International Human Rights Day which is December 10. That is two days from now. On Thursday of this week, in St. John's, for International Human Rights Day, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association is holding a public forum called Police Complaints Commission: Who Is Protecting Whom? I am holding a flyer which I received in the mail the other day notifying me of the forum. With Your Permission, Your Honour, I will quote from the flyer and I would be glad to share it with other members.

The flyer says: "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms includes a number of legal rights which are crucial to the maintenance of a free and democratic society. At the same time we must have an efficient police to protect individuals and society.

"In those situations where there is a conflict, society requires a means of dealing with complaints and ensuring public scrutiny of police actions while fostering a professional law enforcement system.

"To contribute to the public debate on the implementation of a police complaints commission, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association is organizing an International Human Rights Day Public Forum on:

"Police Complaints Commission: Who Is Protecting Whom?

"The guest speaker will be T. Sher Singh, lawyer, a member of the Ontario Police Commission, co-chair of the Canadian Council of Community and Race Relations, member of the Ontario Task Force on Policing and Race Relations (1988-1989), chair of the Council of Race Relations and Policing (1987-1988), member of the Advisory Council to the Premier of Ontario on Police Bravery (1986 - 1989), author specializing on issues of Law and Policing, and regular panellist on legal matters on TV Ontario.

"The Public Forum Will Be Held: Hotel Newfoundland: Garrison and Signal Rooms, at 8:00 p.m, Thursday, December 10, 1992."

Now, Mr. Speaker, if the Social Legislation Review Committee were seized of this bill, I am sure the committee would make an effort to meet with this man, Sher Singh, this guest of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association who is a member of the Ontario Police Commission and who has so much experience in studying issues of relations between police and the public.

The Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association, Gerry Vink, on television a week or so ago, when this police bill was first printed and distributed, expressed his disappointment in the contents of the bill. He said, `It represents the worst model in all of Canada.' If I am not mistaken, in the tv news story he talked about the need to have this bill referred to a committee for public hearings.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice was not a member of the House when the Legislation Review Committees were established. As I have said before, this was an initiative of the Wells Administration. It is one of the few positive moves of the Wells Administration. I acknowledged that at the time. During the two years or so that the committees were working, any chance I had I did give credit to the government for bringing in that legislation review process.

Mr. Speaker, the committees are not now functioning. There was an instance a couple of years ago when the minister's predecessor was bringing in a couple of amendments to the Human Rights Code, and in that instance, the minister referred the bill to the Social Legislation Review Committee. The committee advertised and invited submissions from the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association and the commission. Now, I am sure the association would love to have the chance to come before a committee of this House and give us their comments on this Police Bill but they would hardly volunteer to come, when in the past the committee advertised and invited response. So, it is hardly fair for the minister to say that there is no interest in having a public hearing on the bill. He must realize that the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association is vitally interested and would make a very informed and constructive submission to a Legislation Review Committee of this House.

So, that is one group I am positive would respond in a very useful way, to a call from a Legislation Review Committee. Another group I would guess, which would hasten to appear before a Legislation Review Committee, would be the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, and the Member for Municipal and Provincial Affairs should realize their stake in this. After all, this legislation creates a process for the investigation of and adjudication of complaints against them. So, should they not have a chance to speak up about this? What opportunity have they had? They are part of a hierarchical organization. What chance has the ordinary constable or corporal had to even find out what is in this bill, let alone give input to the legislators who are being asked to debate and vote on it.

So, I have suggested two groups who would almost certainly appear before the Legislation Review Committee if given a chance. Now, Mr. Speaker, during the two-year void after the government abolished the Ombudsman's office and while we have been waiting for some kind of new legislation, not only did the Hughes Commission complete its hearings and submit to the government its report, but several people in the Province, because of different incidents involving the constabulary spoke out publicly complaining about the police. The minister referred to one such incident when he mentioned the Brittany Inns death. Now, Mr. Speaker, that was an incident where the government made an ad hoc response to bring in the Ontario Provincial Police, the move was somewhat clumsy and somewhat late but it was a well-intentioned effort to have an impartial review of the response of the police.

There was the incident which I raised in this House of Assembly involving a complaint against a former member of this House of Assembly. Now, Mr. Speaker, I should not have had to do that, but with the government having abolished the Ombudsman's office, where else was that complainant to go? Where else was that complainant to go? The Premier has said publicly that the substitute for the Ombudsman was MHAs or Open Line radio hosts.

Mr. Speaker, that whole incident was never resolved satisfactorily and that wasn't fair to anyone involved, it wasn't fair to the individual complained against, it wasn't fair to the complainant and it wasn't fair to the police.

Just last week on the CBC television Here and Now News, there was a story about a woman in Corner Brook who was very upset about the way the constabulary entered her house and dragged her out of her bed. Now, where could that woman go? She could have and did go to CBC television. She could have come to the Member for Humber West or she could have come to me. That is not fair to the individual though. There should be a proper complaints commission in effect.

Mr. Speaker, many people in the Province - organizations such as the two I have named, individuals such as those involved in the incidents I have cited - should have the chance to find out about the contents of this Bill and contribute their thoughts on it to a committee of this House.

The minister even has admitted that there are problems with the draft. He has stated his intention to move amendments. This is an ill-conceived, ill-researched piece of legislation which the minister is introducing very late in the going so that before the next election the government will be able to point to and claim that they have established a police commission. In fact, they have not established a police commission. All they are doing in Part 3 of the Bill is setting in place an appeals process from decisions of the chief of police on only certain, limited matters which may be initiated in limited ways, and an appeals process which lacks, for the most part, even the degree of independence of labour arbitrations. That gets me to the content of the Bill.

I have faulted the process, the delay, the late notice, the failure to refer the Bill to a committee, the absence of an opportunity for members of the public to find out about the Bill and contribute their ideas. As for the content, this is a big disappointment. This falls far short of what Mr. Justice Hughes had in mind in his report. It falls far short of what the Premier led people to expect when he commented about the circumstances of the Brittany Inns incident. It does not amount to a police commission. It purports to create a complaints process and unfortunately it does not make the mark of the progressive, fair, process claimed by the minister. It is not progressive and it is not fair.

For a start, Mr. Speaker, the police commission - the police complaints commission proposed - is part and parcel of the justice system. It is not at arms length from the Minister of Justice.

The Bill provides for certain complaints made by the public about the conduct of a police officer, so the type of complaints which may be referred for a review are limited. There is no provision for complaints against procedures or patterns of behaviour.

Not in every case will a third party complaint be accepted. We know of organizations such as status of women councils, rape crisis centres, transition houses, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association, which work on human rights and police issues routinely and which have concerns about procedures and patterns. They may be able to cite particular instances of mistreatment or inappropriate police conduct, but may not be as interested in faulting a particular police officer because of a particular incident. Rather, they might have a much more important and greater concern in raising for appropriate independent review a whole set of procedures or a whole pattern of response or lack of response. That is not adequately provided for in this Bill.

For the limited type of matters which are within the scope of the Bill, the initial investigation has to be done by the chief of police. So once again we have the police investigating themselves. There is no time limit put on the chief's investigation. If the complainant is not satisfied with the disposition of the complaint by the chief, then it is up to the complainant to go to the commissioner.

Now the Bill makes provision for the appointment of one commissioner, and that appointment is to be made by the Cabinet. There is no provision for non-partisan input into the selection. There was provision for all-party House of Assembly input into the appointment of the ombudsman. There is provision for non-partisan input into the appointment of provincial court judges. There is the Provincial Judicial Council created by legislation, comprising judges, superior court judges as well as provincial court judges, and members of the public appointed by the Cabinet.

This Bill simply says that the Cabinet appoints a commissioner - a single person. There is no provision for the commissioner existing outside the justice system. The Minister of Justice is responsible for the police. The Minister of Justice is responsible for the commissioner.

After a complainant has cleared the hurdle of the chief's initial investigation and goes to the commissioner - the single, Cabinet appointed commissioner - the commissioner has to use staff provided by the Minister of Justice. The commissioner gets paid rates set by the Cabinet. How can the commissioner be truly independent if the commissioner has to go with cap in hand to the minister and the Cabinet for his or her pay?

Mr. Speaker, back in 1975 when the Minister of Justice was in the House of Assembly, as I understand it, he may recall, the PC administration of Premier Moores set about enacting the ombudsman's legislation which had been passed at the tail end of the Smallwood regime. Now there was quite a bit of controversy about the activation of the legislation and the appointment and one of the points of contention I am told, was the method of remuneration of the ombudsman, possibly, the Liberal opposition spoke out about the need for the ombudsman's remuneration to be set independently of the Cabinet. In any case, that was looked after and the ombudsman was paid separate from Premier Moores and the Cabinet of the day.

But, Mr. Speaker, the Liberals now in power, have regressed back before the 80s, back before the 70s, they are back in the 60s. Of course, there are only two people in this government who have any say and they are the Premier and the Minister of Justice and they both got their start in 1966. They both benefitted from the affirmative action of the late departed Premier Smallwood, who had an affirmative action program for young men. Now, they recoil at the mention of affirmative action for women nowadays, but they were both proteges of Premier Smallwood, brought into his office, brought into his Cabinet. At any rate, what we have in this Bill are remnants of the 1960s, nothing progressive as the minister claims, very regressive, a missed opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, the sole commissioner, is not at arms length from the minister, not at arms length from the Department of Justice, this commissioner is to be part of the Department of Justice, working on complaints with staff provided by the minister, paid at rates set by the Cabinet, so there is nothing independent about the commissioner. The commissioner, may investigate, and there is nothing in here about how the commissioner has to carry out his or her investigation and the commissioner may have the final word. If the commissioner says the chief was right or there is no foundation to this complaint, that is where it ends. The commissioner has the power to cut it off right then and there.


MS. VERGE: No, says the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. What is the complainant left to do? - go to the court. And who is to pay for the cost of going to court? I ask the minister - not the Legal Aid Commission. They cannot cover the current demand on their services. So who is going to pay for a complainant who is not satisfied with the decision of the Chief of Police and who is not satisfied with the conclusion of the commissioner, that there is no foundation to the complaint? Who is to pay for that complainant going to court?

If the commissioner should decide that there is some merit to the complaint and that is has not been properly disposed of by the Chief, then the commissioner does have the power to refer the matter to adjudication, to turn it over to one of a panel of six lawyers appointed by the Minister of Justice. Mr. Speaker, the adjudicators again are selected by the Cabinet and the Minister of Justice. Which adjudicator gets the matter from the commissioner is not specified. Who chooses the adjudicator is not specified.

The minister claims that this was modeled after the Human Rights Code of procedure. Now, the Human Rights Code is not perfect, I say that, number one; and number two, the Human Rights Code structure was overhauled after the equality rights provisions in section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force in April 1985.

In the case of the Human Rights Commission, I say to the minister, there is separation of the investigative and the adjudicative functions. The commission, chaired by the woman the minister keeps referring to, is responsible for the educative and investigative functions. The commission is responsible for carrying out public information and education campaigns to try to elicit compliance with the code. The commission is responsible for responding to allegations that there have been violations to having those complaints investigated and to attempting through mediation, settlement. But, Mr. Speaker, when the commission decides that there is a prima facie case for violation of the code and attempts at settlement are unsuccessful, then the commission turns the matter over to the Chairperson of the adjudicative panel and that Chair, separate from the minister's wife, assigns the matter to one of the panel of adjudicators for a hearing.

So, we do not have the degree of separation of the investigative and the adjudicative functions here in this bill for a police complaints commission that we had seven years ago in the case of the Human Rights Commission.

Mr. Speaker, as I said before, the bill is flawed because it does not make provision for complaints other than complaints about conduct of a police officer. There should be a much broader ambit given the commission. The complaints review process needs to be substantially changed, but putting that to one side, the types of matters which should be the subject of review, should be broadened. Not only complaints about the conduct of a police officer should be subject to a review but complaints about patterns of behaviour, patterns of response, about procedures, should be the subject of a review. There should not be the limitations that there are on third party complaints. It should be possible for advocacy groups to make complaints on behalf of particular individuals to require the review of procedures. Advocacy groups which might - Mr. Speaker, the minister has a question.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Despite what she may speak as evidence, to the contrary, I am listening. Could she point me to the section that does, in her view, restrict advocacy groups? The legislation specifically provides that third parties may be granted standing at adjudication hearings where the adjudicator deems it appropriate but if there is some section that has the effect she presages, I would like to have a look at it, because it would concern me.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, clause 22(5), page 14 of the bill says: 'Where a complaint is made by a person other than the person who is alleged to have been subjected to the misconduct, the commissioner may refuse to act on the complaint unless the person alleged to have been subjected to the misconduct consents.' Now, Mr. Speaker, in faulting this, I am extending my criticism of clause 22(1), which says: 'A person other than a police officer may file a complaint concerning the conduct of a police officer.'

I am saying that is not broad enough. People should be allowed to complain not only about the conduct of a particular police officer on a particular occasion, they should be allowed to complain about procedures or patterns of police response, or typical failure of police responses.

Advocacy groups such as Status of Women Councils, Transition Houses for battered women and children, rape crisis centres, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association, should have the power to complain about police response.

An example, the Member for St. John's South asked for - there have been serious concerns about the inadequacy of police response to complaints of wife battering, and these complaints go back at least ten years. It is the women's movement that has been making most of the complaints and working with police to try to improve their policies and procedures.

I do give credit to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP in this Province for some of the improvements they have brought about; nevertheless, there are still problems.

Mr. Speaker, it is almost 5:00 p.m. I have several more points I would like to make on the bill, and I would like to adjourn the debate now with the intention of carrying on at the next opportunity.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I assure the hon. lady that when the debate is called again she will have the opportunity to carry on and we look forward to that.

Mr. Speaker, the House will not be sitting tonight. I have spoken to my colleagues. There seems to be much enthusiasm for this prospect. I must say that, in the interest of getting at least a half-day at Christmas, we shall probably ask the House to move into night sittings, say, on Thursday, but I will let Your Honour and the House know in due course. I shall talk with my masters and my mistress in the caucus and we shall see.

After we finish this bill, my suggestion would be that we carry on with the justice bills which, as I have them, are Orders 30, 26, and 24. So the hon. lady and I can carry on this fruitful dialogue for a little bit.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m. when we will deal with the Private Member's motion of the gentleman from Mount Pearl. I move that the House do now adjourn.

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