December 10, 1992             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLI  No. 82

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker I will, at three o'clock, go to my office to receive the first telephone call from the last community in this Province to receive permanent telephone service - the community of Norman Bay, on the Coast of Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: I would just like to use this opportunity to congratulate Newfoundland Telephone for making this investment in such a hard, difficult, economic time. I congratulate the people of Norman Bay and hope that they will have their personal business looked after, as any other citizen of this Province has been able to over the years, and I congratulate all concerned.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House of Assembly to recognize a very important event in the history of human rights. Today marks the 44th. Anniversary of the Signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. In 1948, the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and for all nations, large and small.

Mr. Speaker, the Human Rights Code of this Province has its roots in this Universal Declaration, as has the human rights legislation in all Canadian jurisdictions and in other nations. The provincial Human Rights Code prohibits acts of discrimination and harassment in the workplace, in admission to public places, services and facilities, and in the rental of self-contained dwelling units because of race, religion, sex, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, political opinion, colour or ethnic, national and social origin. Discrimination on the basis of age - between the years of 19 and 65 - in relation to employment is also prohibited. The Code also prohibits sexual harassment and the maintaining of different wages between males and females employed in the same establishment and performing the same or similar work.

The Human Rights Commission has been established to administer and enforce The Human Rights Code. In so doing, complaints are investigated and attempts are made to effect settlements whenever possible.

In addition to this, the Human Rights Commission has a responsibility to promote, through education, an awareness of human rights, with the hope that increased awareness will lessen discrimination.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage all the members of the House of Assembly and the citizens of our Province to promote the observance of human rights as a shared responsibility and to reaffirm our commitment to eliminate discrimination in all its forms. I am pleased to bring to the attention of Honourable Members that today is the 44th. Anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations, and to mark the celebration of International Human Rights Day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If this minister and this government had any commitment to human rights, the minister would have risen in his place today and announced the government's intention to have this Provinces Human Rights Code comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If this government had any belief in the work of human rights, the Premier would be initiating amendments to the Province's Human Rights Code to extend protection to gays and lesbians. The Premier would be sponsoring an amendment to prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians, to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Instead the government has been ignoring court rulings, has been willfully violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has been refusing even basic reforms to our Human Rights Code. Mr. Speaker, what the minister just said was words, puffery. This does not mean anything in the face of the government's inaction, in the face of the government's refusal even to have our Provincial Human Rights Laws comply with the Canadian Constitution. I ask the Premier, the self-appointed champion of the Canadian Constitution: why is he not amending our Provinces Human Rights Code to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as pointed out by the Ontario Court of Appeal in a ruling last Summer?

Oral Questions

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I have a question this afternoon for the Premier. I want to revisit an issue that the Member for Humber East raised last week. The Minister of Justice told the Premier before he formally joined the Cabinet in February, that he would continue to hold a major financial interest in his former law firm, an interest that the minister himself confirmed last Thursday, would pay him approximately $250,000 over a two year period. I want to ask the Premier: why did he not tell his now minister then, that he must make a clean break, that he could not join the Cabinet until he had all financial interest in his former law firm relinquished?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, maybe the hon. member does not understand, but surely the Member for Humber East should know that anybody who is a partner in a law firm has a capital investment. It is just like owning shares if you want, in a corporation. It is done through a partnership interest commonly referred to as the Capital account. When the Minister of Justice -


PREMIER WELLS: - as soon as the babbling stops, Mr. Speaker, I will try and convey the information to the Member for Grand Bank.

When the Minister of Justice accepted the invitation to join the Cabinet he had to terminate his interest in the law partnership. He did so. He also tells me that under the terms of the agreement, there is a requirement that the remaining partners do not have to pay out their share of the capital immediately in cash, they have a time to do it, to repay it over a period of time and he told me that period was twenty-four months. He told me that at the time. He also tells me that - he just showed me now, he filed it with his conflict of interest statement that was filed, dated the 17 of March last, right after he became minister and it says, I will quote from it: I am a creditor of Halley, Hunt, a law firm which practices from offices in the Scotia Centre on Water Street. The debt represents the amount of my account as of the 31st of January, 1992, when I withdrew from my partnership in the firm. It is being repaid to me in twenty-four equal monthly instalments together with interest, payable monthly in arrears at the rate of one-half prime plus 1 per cent. The debt is unsecured.

Now he filed that, so the Member for Humber East did not make any great disclosure. The minister did not respond to anything that was pried out and suddenly disclosed in some clandestine way; he did what he is required to do. He first told me about it, I said: I understand, that is a normal circumstance. Then he filed it as part of his conflict of interest statement and it was made public in March, so I guess that is probably where the Member for Humber East got her information.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Now the Premier would be surprised where the Member for Humber East got her information, I say to the Premier, he would be very surprised.

That is the question that the Premier has to answer. The Minister of Justice informed the Premier of his financial interest in Halley Hunt. He filed a conflict of interest statement which the Premier has just read from. Why did the Premier appoint Mr. Roberts Minister of Justice knowing all of these things? It is a direct conflict of interest. Why did you appoint the man to your Cabinet? is the question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't know if the hon. member is speaking sincerely or if he genuinely does not understand. He doesn't have any financial interest. The firm owes him a debt and they are paying it in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Now, for any members opposite who suggest that is a conflict, I say, ask the reasonable opposition, the Member for St. John's East, and he will explain it to you. If members opposite really don't understand, ask the hon. the Member for St. John's East. He will explain to you that there is nothing inordinate about this. There is nothing clandestine about it. It was disclosed and filed in the registry. Now, they can pry as much as they want to but they cannot make a mountain out of a molehill, a molehill is a molehill is a molehill and will forever remain a molehill despite the best efforts of the members opposite.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, to the Member for St. John's East, I don't know what he thinks of it but I think it is a direct case of conflict. It is a classic case of conflict of interest, I say to the Premier. What we cannot forget here is that the law firm was awarded a lucrative government contract. Now, the Premier announced the appointment of the Minister of Justice in November and the minister joined the Cabinet abut three months later, in February. Now, does the Premier remember telling this very House, standing on his feet in this House at that time and saying that the three-month delay was to give the minister time to wind up his partnership and financial connections with Halley Hunt? The Premier stood in his place and said that. Does he remember saying that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and that is precisely what he did. He terminated his interests in the partnership before the end of January. He is no longer a partner. He does not draw any benefit from the profits or anything the firm makes. The firm owes him a debt. Now, Mr. Speaker, we are bringing in new conflict of interest regulations which will be announced very shortly. Meanwhile, we are operating under the conflict of interest regulations the former government had in place. I do not agree they are appropriate. It took us some time to get around to changing them, and I regret that, but it is in the process now. But, Mr. Speaker, those are the same members opposite who awarded a contract to a company that John Collins, the former Minister of Finance, owned 25 per cent of, a contract to rent space, and he thinks that this payment of a debt to terminate the interest is somehow a conflict of interest. Where are their standards? Where is their honesty? Where is their sense of fairness? This is a conflict of interest and that is not? What are they talking about?

The law firm owes the minister a debt. They are paying it in an orderly way in accordance with the terms of the partnership agreement that entitles the law firm to do it. What was he going to do if they said: No, we are going to pay it over the period of time as is required - could he then not become the minister? Virtually every lawyer in the Province is in exactly the same position. Does that means that no lawyer, except one who is in a solo practice, could ever become a minister?

How irrational can they be?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier could have done one of two things. He could have refrained from appointing the minister to the Cabinet or he could have cancelled the Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador contract. That is what the Premier could have done, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: He appointed a minister and he kept the contract where it was. Now, I want to ask the Premier: Does he remember that three months was the exact time he gave the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture to get rid of a properly tendered minor contract with the Newfoundland Liquor Board, and he gave the Member for Humber West, the former Minister of Justice, a short deadline to dispose of some interest in a properly tendered government contract? I want to ask the Premier directly: Why the double-standard? Why do you make chalk of some ministers and cheese of the others?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, they keep denying truth to propagate this propaganda. The contract with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador terminates as of December 31 of this year when every other arrangement -


MS. VERGE: A year later!

PREMIER WELLS: Just stop the irrational babble and I will tell you what was done. As everybody knows, I provided for three months for the minister - or whatever the time was, September 30, I think -


PREMIER WELLS: - September 30, to have it corrected. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, the government took steps to put in place a proper system for the provision of legal services.

MS. VERGE: A year later.

PREMIER WELLS: No, not a year later. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, the minister was required to terminate the relationship as at the end of September - as at the end of September. He was sworn in in February or March - I have forgotten - whatever it was.

MR. ROBERTS: I wasn't required to terminate a relationship.

PREMIER WELLS: No, the firm was required to terminate the relationship as at the end of September. Now, Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, we have corrected the problem that they sat on for seventeen years. Those purists who want to do everything right - who want to correct the Human Rights Code. The member, when she was a minister, sat for all those years. When did -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Did she suddenly discover gays and lesbians in the last three-and-a-half years?


PREMIER WELLS: Did she suddenly discover them? Where was her standard five years ago when she was the Minister of Justice? We all know where her standard was.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Three-and-a-half years. We will see.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the time was set at September 30. In the meantime, the government terminated all legal appointments in the Province and called for tenders for all of them. The alternative was to put in place a different law firm for three months, from October 1 to the end of December, or allow it to continue.

MS. VERGE: It has been a year.

PREMIER WELLS: We acted, Mr. Speaker, not stupidly, but rationally, and we are correcting the entire problem that they allowed to exist for all those years. They don't like it, and it is too bad. It has been corrected.

The people know the difference. If they think they are fooling the people, just look at the poll results that were tabled today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, it is no trouble to tell when you have him cornered, he turns to human rights issues and other issues. Yes, we know about the poll results. We know why the rollback didn't come, because you plummeted so badly, as your own polls showed, to which some of your own members admitted last night.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: Some of your own members admitted that last night, let me tell the Premier.

I want to ask the Premier: Does he remember what he said in the 1989 election campaign? I would like to refresh his memory by quoting: `I personally consider it totally incompatible for a minister or any member of his family or any company in which the minister or any member of his family has an interest, to be dealing directly with the government and have the government make decisions of awarding that minister, or the company with which he is associated, any business.' That is what the Premier said. Now that is a very clear statement.

I want to ask the Premier: Why doesn't this statement apply to the present Minister of Justice and to the company in which he continues to hold a financial interest, I say to the Premier, regardless of which way he tries to cut it. If anybody is going to get $250,000 from a firm over the next two years, there certainly is a financial interest, I say to the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I stand by every word I said, every single word. I just dispute the proposition that the hon. member makes that this is a financial interest in the firm. The debt was there, it was disclosed, it had to be eliminated within a certain period of time and orderly provision is being made for it. I know hon. members don't like that. They are not used to that kind of a standard of honesty. They didn't practice it when they were there. They didn't practice that kind of a standard when they were there. I know they are bothered that the people of this Province are judging them on the poor standard that they maintained and judging us by our standard, and they are found wanting, as of which now there is every indication.

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

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

I have heard it all. There has never been a worse case of conflict of interest in the history of this Province, I say to the Premier, than there is right now - never a worse case!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: There have been other conflict of interest cases, but none as blatant as this one.

Is the Premier so naive, or does he think the people of the Province are so naive, to believe that a minister - who himself admitted in this Legislature he is going to receive $250,000 over the next two years - does not have a financial interest in that company? Does the Premier think the people are so naive? Does he really believe that a minister in such a situation would not have an interest in preserving and promoting the financial interest of that company?

I ask the Premier finally: Why does he not admit that this is really a classic case of conflict of interest?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, it is not. Maybe the hon. member is cornered and he is trying to cover it up. Maybe he sincerely does not understand. I do not know. I do not know what it is. Maybe he is trying to fabricate something, as they generally do; but here is the statement, filed months and months ago - filed months and months ago.

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to state categorically that if I invite somebody who happens to be a member of a law firm, a doctor practising medicine with others, a member of a corporation, a shareholder in a corporation that is doing business, a chartered accountant - any one of a number of people - I will require them to divest of their interests. I will understand that the people who buy their interests require a reasonable time to pay for it, provided it is fully disclosed.

Now if that is a conflict of interest, I stand before the people of this Province and say: I am responsible. I accepted that knowingly. But I say to everybody in this Province that that is quite acceptable. What is unacceptable is sitting as a member of the Cabinet and awarding a contract to your fellow partners. It happened with Dr. John Collins. It happened with Dr. Collins in renting space. It happened with the Member for Humber East when contracts were awarded to Mr. Verge by the government of the day. It happened with everybody!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: That, Mr. Speaker, is an unacceptable conflict of interest. This is full and total disclosure and honest dealings - matters with which the hon. members opposite are clearly not very familiar.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, the Financial Statement released last week showed that municipal affairs -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The Chair has recognized the Member for Fogo.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

The Financial Statement released last week shows that the minister's department, under current account, is to have a saving of $3.2 million in this fiscal year - in the three months that is remaining. I ask the minister: Can he tell us how he is going to achieve a $3.2 million saving in just three months?

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

MR. HOGAN: I will take it under advisement, Mr. Speaker, to answer that question; but as I recall it, the greater portion of it will be achieved through added debt retirement from the municipalities through the existing program that was unexpected.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, a further supplementary to the minister.

Is it the intention of the government to maintain the cap on MOG's this year - a $41 million cap? We see in the Estimates in 1992, municipal operating grants was $44,845,000. Is it still the intention to maintain it at $41 million this year?

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

MR. HOGAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, for this fiscal year we plan to continue that cap.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary.

Will the minister not confirm then that as the number of households and the value of property increases, the amount left for the road component will be again decreased this year?

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

MR. HOGAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it will.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, a pretty short answer.

I wonder if the minister could tell us what the road component grant is going to be this year, since he only had $1.9 million last year and he has already confirmed we are going to have further reductions. Can the minister tell us what the road component is going to be for municipalities this year?

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

MR. HOGAN: At this point in time, Mr. Speaker, as I did in the previous question, I said: yes it would. That is a good guesstimate based on the experience of the last couple of years and I just say that that is going to happen again this year and I do not know how far it would be reduced.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister this. The Federation of Municipalities have asked the government to set the road component at a fixed rate of $1,000 per kilometre, will the minister confirm that the Federation asked for this and will he also confirm that as of today, councils have been notified that the road component for this year will be $81.40 per kilometre, a further reduction of $400 per kilometre over last year, it is now set at $81.40 per kilometre?

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

MR. HOGAN: There are two parts to that question, Mr. Speaker.

A committee appointed by the minister came forth with certain recommendations, and obviously the hon. member has a copy of those recommendations in which the roads component was recommended to be set at $1,000 and was not rejected by government, because I do not think it got to government yet. It was rejected outright by this minister and the department and that recommendation is in the process for government to consider. That is based on the fiscal position and the fiscal experience that we find ourselves in now, that this rejection was made.

The second part of his question on the $81.40, it is a new figure to me; I did not know that it had been reduced to that, but it does not surprise me and I will check out his figure and if it right I will confirm it.

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

MR. WINSOR: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Earlier in this session, the minister indicated that no municipalities had come to him seeking financial assistance because of the uniform utility tax across the Province. The minister indicated that if they came to him he might offer some assistance because of the number of communities that are now having trouble balancing their books and their budgets as a result of the unexpected loss of revenues. Will the government offer transition grants to allow the municipalities to cope with the unexpected loss of revenues, in the case of some communities in excess of $100,000? Will they offer transitions grants as they did in the initial phase-in of the MOGs, to allow the municipalities to adapt to the sudden revenue loss?

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

MR. HOGAN: No, Mr. Speaker. There is no offer of transitional grants in this fiscal year, what might come in the new fiscal year will be decided through the budgetary process and by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and the recommendation to government. The doors to the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs are always open to those councils who come to us with inordinate budgetary positions that through no fault of their own they find themselves in for whatever reason and that practise and policy will continue to stand.

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

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

My question is for the Minister of Justice.

In a call for proposals, a request for proposals sent out by the minister in November of this year to law firms for legal services, there is also estimated an indication of the average annual value of each service to be tendered.

For Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation, the average annual mandate cost is estimated at $15,000. Will the minister confirm that in fact, the amount of revenue to a law firm from that account is closer to $200,000, as the minister will know from his own law firm and the predecessor law firm, that in fact there is along with that mandate to do ENL's corporate work, the exclusive right to act on debenture work that the clients pay for at a price to be determined by that law firm? Would the minister confirm that please?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm it because the hon. gentleman's information is incorrect. I have no idea what Halley, Hunt bills to ENL or what anybody else bills to ENL.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady finds that hard to accept but she should accept that some people occasionally are frank. She may be used to dealing in a government, of which she was part, where truth, candour and integrity were not part of it. But let me come back to the hon. gentleman without the cynicism of the hon. lady for Humber East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Let me say to the hon. gentleman that I have no idea what Halley, Hunt bills, or what ENL pays to any law firm. The numbers, the amounts given in the request for proposals that were sent out to his former law firm, along with everybody else in the whole Province, were prepared by my officials upon my direction from the information supplied by the agencies.

My friend, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, who is the minister responsible for ENL, tells me that its average - it was $25,000 last year. It was $70,000 the year before, when a different firm was doing the work, and it was less the year - it goes up and down. The numbers in the legal technology, the request for proposals, were prepared by my officials. I put them forward on that basis. If the hon. gentleman wants more information I'll get it, but I certainly cannot confirm what he suggests, because to my knowledge what he suggests is not correct.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is in addition to the corporate account which may vary from year to year. Those are the accounts that are paid in fact by clients of ENL to the law firm for preparation of documents. To be fair in terms of, first of all, putting the proposals out, and to be fair to clients of ENL, ought not the government insist in its tender calls that these figures also be disclosed, not only by Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, so that tenderers can be fair, but also so that the public can be protected?... because the exclusive right to do legal services at the cost of the clients of ENL is also given to the legal firm which gets this tender.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is not asking a question so much as making an argument. I, when I was at Halley, Hunt, did no work for ENL. So I don't know the details of how it - I certainly know the firm had the work, long before I was approached to join the Cabinet and long before I accepted the Premier's invitation to join the Cabinet. I must say, the longer I'm in it the more I am glad I did accept the invitation, when I see the state in which the hon. lady and the hon. gentlemen opposite left the Province. So I have to give a hand to those who want to try to straighten it out.

What I would say to my hon. friend is, to my understanding -

AN HON. MEMBER: What would we have done without you?

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, I know, Mr. Speaker, what they did without me. Sprung, the country on the verge of bankruptcy, and a bunch of other things. Let me come back to the hon. gentleman for St. John's -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

I ask the hon. members to please restrain themselves.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, a perfectly straightforward answer to a perfectly straightforward question. They're all having apoplectic - even the puffy toughy over there. The toughy puffy.

Let me come back to the hon. gentleman. I don't know whether ENL requires a person borrowing from it to use a particular law firm. I just do not know that. My friend the minister may. I don't know that. What I will tell him is the amounts that were in the letter I signed, or the attachment to the letter I signed, were given to me by my officials at my request, and they went as far as I know to the agencies concerned. That's how, for example, we got the figure from Williams, Harris, Roebothan & McKay and the money they'd got over the years from the Workers' Compensation Commission. Exactly the same thing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The request for proposals clearly states that the work referred to has a $15,000 price tag, in addition to amounts paid by clients in specific transactions. Now why isn't that amount disclosed in the tender call, and why doesn't the government insist that people responding to the tender call indicate very clearly what scale or what level of fees they'll be charging to other people who have to do business with them?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it's not disclosed because I didn't have the information and I don't have it now, and I see no need to get it. Of the 200 or 300 proposals that came in Friday afternoon that are now being looked at by my officials with a view to bringing forward recommendations for awarding of the tenders for the first time ever in the history of this Province -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: - if any of the law firms wants the information

I would suggest they approach the client, in this case E & L, and get whatever information they seek but I am not going to provide information when there is no need to and I am not going to provide it when I do not have it and in this case both of those are applicable answers.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Education. The minister denied in the House on Monday that government is cutting almost $18 million from education this year and he later admitted it, just moments later outside the House. Now the minister also told the press and in Tuesday's Telegram that $11 million equalization should not have a major impact on school boards and I quote: it was money that they never had. In 1991 the government provided $10 million equalization, $10 million in 1990, $10 million in 1989, $4.5 million in 1988 and the two previous years a total of $7 million. I would ask the minister would he now stand in his place and be straightforward with the House, the press and the people of this Province, and tell us that money has been in the Budget for equalization for a number of years.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, maybe I should clarify what happened when the hon. member rose in his place to ask me about the cuts to education. Now the $17 million taken out of education was public knowledge, it was read by the hon. Minister of Finance when he read his statement in this House, no one is trying to hide that, it is $17 million and a few dollars which is coming out of education. Now, whether I understood the hon. member correctly or not, I got the clear impression that he was suggesting that the $17 million was coming from the school boards in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and that of course is not the case at all. The $17 million is coming out of the total $800 million, or a little less than $800 million, so $17 million, Mr. Speaker, out of an almost $800 million does not strike me as being an overwhelming amount.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I have explained on many occasions, this Province replaced the $35 million school taxes and in the meantime we attempted to address the inequities that were in the system. We have attempted to bring up the equalization. We had allocated $11 million to do that, $3 million of the $11 million was never ever assigned to anybody. It was held in reserve by the department to try to accelerate some of the school boards which had fallen further behind over the years. $4.5 million of the equalization had been already allocated in the tentative grants which the school boards have been told about. So, the actual amount of money in that particular pot, Mr. Speaker, is somewhere between $3 and $4 million which had not been allocated, plus as I said the $3 million which is going to be held back anyway. The other $8 or $10 million which he is talking about equalization grants, that has already been included in the school grants and it is a red herring to introduce that at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.

Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcome to the galleries today 25 Level III students from Fogo Island Central High School in the district of Fogo, and these students are accompanied by their teachers Susan Taite, Roy Dwyer, Christine Dwyer and Roxine Cull, chaperon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have two notices of motion, one in my own name and one in behalf of my colleague the Minister of Finance. In my own name may I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask lease to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law, Number 2." And in behalf of my colleague the Minister of Finance who is away from the Province on business I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Act." Unless hon. members opposite fear we are going to annihilate them by legislation instead of by the election, as we shall, let me say this is the conflict of interest bill, Mr. Speaker, and I am proud to bring it in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Canada Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act, Number 2."

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 Leader of the Opposition asked some questions about health. I am sorry he is not in his place now and that the critic for health is not here but I think I will give the answers anyway. He basically asked three question. Looking at the back of the Ministerial Financial Statement by the Minister of Finance some time ago, where the Health Budget was displayed, there was a difference of a $6.37 million decrease in expenditures predicted for this current year. The hon. member wanted to know the breakdown, how much would hospitals be affected and how was this breakdown achieved, so I would like to give some details of that now, Sir, if I may. Basically, the budgets of the hospitals and nursing homes were reduced by $3.8 million. I will just give a slight flavouring of the types of things they had to do. Some reduced vacation relief and overtime, some delayed recruitment of non-crucial vacant positions, some reduced travel and continuing education programs, some reduced office and administrative expenses, including reductions in long-distance telephone calls. There was a decreased replacement for sick leave relief, compassionate leave, and statutory holidays unless absolutely necessary. In areas heat was reduced where twenty-four activity was not taking place, and supply costs were reduced. In one case the need for a second ambulance standby was able to be reduced because they put a private ambulance service on call just in case, rather than have two from the hospital. In another case they had organization restructuring of management personnel with some reductions through resignations. Other management positions were frozen, and another hospital reduced their staff education budget somewhat. The conversion from light diesel to Bunker C in one case, suspension of catering service per meetings and others. Mr. Speaker, what I want to say here is that in no case was patient care affected and while I am Minister of Health there will be no reduction in patient care.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: That was $3.8 million. Of the other remaining dollars actually the department cut back over $11 million but we have been over budget by almost five for various reasons: For instance, our indigent drug program was up and our dental services were costing more; we were spending more on drugs for cystic fibrosis; the health and x-ray workers were reclassified and got quite a good settlement there; we brought in a cardiac surgery program, if you remember, to help clear up the backlog; we gave some money to Royal Oak Mines as a health subsidy; and various other points which increased our budget. Then we had to cut back by eleven to achieve this net of six point four. As I mentioned, three point eight came from the institutional sector. In the Department of Health itself, within the department here in Confederation Building basically, we reduced some of our computer expenditures by $147,000. We put a ban on out-of-Province travel unless it is absolutely necessary. I cancelled a conference I was going to myself and we cancelled a fair number of those which we thought to be a good measure that would not effectively effect the health care.

Mr. Speaker, not to continue on too much, because I know we want to keep these answers very short. We estimate there will be a saving in the services of residents outside the Province, that this won't be as much as it has been in previous years. We were able to get from MCP something like $3.4 million, and the School of Medicine at Memorial agreed that they could save some money as well. The ADDC was reorganized and were able to save some money there. The non-implementation of pay equity, the second stage, that helped us a bit as well. So these saving total $11 million. Our overrun was $4.8 million which resulted in the $6.4 million. That is the first question, Mr. Speaker.

The second question that the hon. member for Grand Falls, Leader of the Opposition, asked: Here is where I am having a bit of difficulty, because he suggested that this $6.3 which was the result of 1 per cent and 3 per cent, 1 per cent on wages and 3 per cent on operating expenses, for the year but which would have to be done in three months, would somehow be $25 million over the whole year. Now, this is a very strange thing for the hon. member to say. It is like: `How much would a chicken weigh standing on two legs if it weighed six-and-a-half pounds standing on one leg?'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: That is a good one, Hubert.

DR. KITCHEN: The 1 per cent on salaries and 3 per cent on operating expenses for a year, which is what we are going to have next year, is exactly the same as we are going to get in three months. So the answer to the question is $6.25 million, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the third question has to do with our capital budget. Why did we cut back $1.5 million on our capital budget? The answer is: We didn't cut back on our capital budget. This is a cash flow question, and the money will not actually be spent, although it has been committed, on certain capital construction works that will go ahead. As a matter of fact, quite recently we announced that the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation will be proceeded with and we have called tenders. But this is a saving in this year's capital budget of $1.5 million with no cutbacks in commitments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we shall carry on with the orders that we announced yesterday, beginning with Order 28, Bill 56, where the hon. lady from Humber East has the floor, and then go on, in order, to Orders 30, 26 and 24. We hope we will get there by five, if not we shall carry on in the interest of the public.

Let me place on the record: I believe I have consent from all groups in the House to waive the Late Show today. So we shall simply carry and see how we get along. At five there will either be a motion for the House to adjourn or we will be back here at seven depending on the House's desire, of course, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: We were in an adjourned debate.

The hon. the member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was well into my remarks condemning the principle of part three of the bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary," the only provisions of the bill which are new. These are the provisions purporting to establish a public complaints commission for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Not only did I express disagreement with the principle of the proposed Complaints Commission, but I also faulted the government's process in putting this forward.

To summarize: the government waited two years too long to initiate establishing a police commission, since it was two years ago that they eliminated the ombudsman's office. Now the ombudsman served many worthwhile functions in addition to fielding complaints about the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. One specific part of the ombudsman's terms of reference was to receive, investigate and comment publicly upon complaints about the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. That office was eliminated two years ago. The Wells administration in their first year in office moved to wipe out the ombudsman's office because of their narrow, partisan small-mindedness.

So there was a two year gap. This proposal has been obviously ill conceived, ill researched. It's being rushed. The Bill before us was printed and distributed only two weeks ago. Members of the House haven't had adequate time to read it, try to understand it. Members of the public have had even less opportunity to find out about these measures. Organizations with an obvious interest in the constitution of a Constabulary commission are being shut out of the process altogether. This Bill, this important draft legislation, has not been referred to a committee for public hearings.

As for content, Mr. Speaker, the proposed single commissioner is to be part of the justice system, part of the same system with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. The commissioner is to be appointed by the Cabinet without provision for non-partisan input into the selection. The commissioner is to be paid at rates set by the Cabinet, again with no outside reference. The commissioner is to do his or her work with staff provided by the Minister of Justice. So obviously the Commission is not at arm's length from the justice system. Is to have a direct connection with the minister and the Cabinet; is to be part of the same department as the police force which the commissioner is charged to investigate.

Number two, the terms of reference are much too narrow. The Commission is empowered to react - not to initiate, but to react. To react only to specific complaints concerning the conduct of a police officer. I refer to Clause 22(1). The commissioner is not to have the power to investigate complaints about procedures or patterns of behaviour of the Constabulary. That's a serious shortcoming.

There isn't sufficient provision in the draft legislation for advocacy groups or third parties making complaints. Clause 22 does give the commissioner the power to turn down a complaint made by a third party if the person alleged to have been wrongly treated doesn't consent.

Next, the system laid out poses unreasonable and unnecessary hurdles for members of the public. There are three layers. Initially, complaints have to be investigated by the Chief of Police. Again, the police investigating themselves. There's no time limit prescribed for the Chief's investigation. If the complainant after waiting for the chief's investigation - and who knows how long the wait - is not satisfied with the outcome, then the complainant may go further and have the commissioner investigate. Now the commissioner, part of that same justice system, using staff appointed by the minister, may make the final determination. If the commissioner says the complaint has no merit, that is where it ends. Finally, if the commissioner gives the go-ahead, the complaint may go on to a panel of adjudicators - a panel of six lawyers appointed by the Cabinet - one of whom is to conduct a public enquiry.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, there is an unreasonable three month time limit within which this bill says complaints have to be made. That is quite inappropriate. As members should have realized, after the revelations of sexual assault offenses of the last few years, many victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct require much more than three months within which to make the decision to disclose or report.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move the following amendment, seconded by the Member for Kilbride: That the order for second reading of this bill - Bill 56 - be discharged, the bill be withdrawn from the order paper, and the subject matter be referred to the social legislation review committee.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. ROBERTS: The amendment is clearly out of order. I submit that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

The amendment is clearly out of order. I suggest that Your Honour accordingly rule that it is out of order. I can give you citations if you wish, Sir. They are in Beauchesne. There are so straightforward that I am surprised even the hon. lady from Humber East did not know about them.

The amendment seeks to achieve by words what can be achieved by defeating the motion before the House, and that is an out-of-order amendment.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, this is just a standard six month hoist motion that has been -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No it is not.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - And I am wrong again, Mr. Speaker, so it is not.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, there are three amendments that can be moved in this situation. One is a six month hoist. I forget what the second one is. I am just trying to find it here in Beauchesne.

The amendment was taken specifically from Beauchesne, and written from the book. As I say, there are three cases where the amendment can be accepted, and this is one of them.

So I tell the Government House Leader that he is wrong. I saw your Honour nod and I am sure that you can -

Okay, here is it. It is Beauchesne, sixth edition, Mr. Speaker, Page 200, Paragraph 666, Amendments to Second Reading: There are three types of amendments that may be proposed at the second reading stage of a bill. These are:

l. the hoist (eg. three months, six months).

2. the reasoned amendment.

3. the referral of the subject matter to a committee - which my colleague has moved.

I submit to Your Honour that the amendment is in order.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I now have the citations to which I referred. We are all using the sixth edition of Beauchesne - the same hymn book but different stanzas. Citation 576 on Page 176: It is not an amendment to a motion to move that the question go to a committee.

Furthermore, 578: An amendment proposing a direct negative, though it may be covered up by verbiage, is out of order.

It goes on: An amendment which would produce the same result as if the original motion were simply negatived is out of order.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I just want one final point in submission. The Government House Leader referenced Paragraph 578, an amendment proposing a direct negative. This is not a proposed direct negative. The member is not proposing that whatsoever. It is referring this contentious, substantial, significant piece of legislation to committee. It is not a direct negative. If anything, it is a direct positive because people of the Province should be permitted the input into this piece of legislation. The committee should be given the right to go about the Province to not only educate the public about what is in this bill, but to hear from the public their opinion on this bill. It is not a negative. If anything, what the member is proposing is a direct positive.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed both citations looked at by the members and it appears, at first glance, that they are in conflict; but when you look further it is not really.

The section to which the Government House Leader referred deals with motions. Now while technically it may be a motion that the bill be read a second time, in fact the section on Page 200 is a part of what is called the 'Examination of Bills'. Under the heading of 'Second Reading of a Bill', which is what we are dealing with now; although it may be technically a motion to give second reading, that, in fact, it is the examination of a bill on that second reading and therefore, it seems that paragraph 666 would apply. And the three amendments that are available as set out on page 200 are available to this time, so it seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that the Government House Leader and the Member for Humber East are, in fact, correct and that the motion is appropriate and in order.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has heard enough submissions and we are just going to take a brief recess.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

After considerable research in the time we have had, the Chair rules, in accordance with Beauchesne, section 666, giving the three possibilities, that the referral of the subject matter of the amendment to a committee is in order.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I was confident that the motion was in order for the reasons given by the Opposition House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, under the rules, I am now entitled to speak for up to sixty minutes on this amendment.

MR. ROBERTS: Thirty minutes.

MS. VERGE: Thirty minutes, oh too bad.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my earlier remarks on the principle of this bill, part 3 of the bill, which is new, is a significant measure and it should be circulated to the public so that citizens of the Province and groups which have a demonstrated interest in the proper functioning of police have an opportunity to find out what the government is proposing and then give the House of Assembly and the government the benefit of their views on the draft legislation. As I said when I spoke on Tuesday, I know of a number of organizations which could make a valuable contribution to the House of Assembly and the government in improving on this draft. One such organization is the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association. That is a non-governmental organization based in St. John's. That organization today is sponsoring a public forum on police commissions. It is a forum planned months ago for the observance of International Human Rights Day. For the forum the Human Rights Association brought into the Province, Sher Singh, a member of the Ontario Police Commission. I heard Mr. Singh being interviewed on CBC radio this morning. Mr. Singh said that the governments proposed public complaints commission for the Constabulary, while well-intentioned, is seriously flawed. Basically, Mr. Singh said we would be better off not proceeding with this proposal and, instead, take the necessary time to revise it and benefit from the experience of other provinces. One advantage that we have in Newfoundland and Labrador, being on the edge of Canada, on the edge of the continent, having a very small population, having relatively few public resources, is that we usually are not in a position to pioneer with law reform and usually, in responding to economic and social changes, have the benefit of earlier experimentation by other jurisdictions. We often can avoid mistakes of other provinces and similarly we often can profit by the positive experiences of other jurisdictions, and that is true in the case of the establishment of a police commission in this Province.

As the minister said when he introduced the bill, we have only two police forces. The provincial Department of Justice, has contracted with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for provincial policing throughout most of the Province. Under the contract between the Province and the Federal Government, the RCMP are responsible for provincial policing throughout all of the rural parts of the Province, and we have the provincially owned and operated Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the force which is the subject of this legislation.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is the oldest force in all of Canada, and is responsible for provincial policing in three urban centres in the Province, St. John's and the Northeast Avalon, Labrador City-Wabush and the city of Corner Brook. The RCMP have a public complaints tribunal which was put in place by the Federal Government within the past ten years or so. It is a national tribunal, and the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador benefit from that federal tribunal the same as do people in other provinces.

In the case of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, we had the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman was first appointed in this Province in 1975. A few years after the Ombudsman was in place, in the early 1980s, the governing legislation was amended to specifically provide that the mandate of the Ombudsman included dealing with complaints about the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. That empowered the Ombudsman to investigate complaints, to use the powers accorded the office by the legislation, to require the production of documents including police reports, to require the testimony of witnesses and to do a full and fair investigation. The Ombudsman was under an obligation to report the results of investigations to the public through the House of Assembly.

Now the Wells Administration, in their first year in office, eliminated the Ombudsman's office and, since then, for two whole years, there has been no independent agency empowered to deal with or investigate complaints against the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. We have had a two-year void. Ironically, during the last two years, people have become more aware than ever, I have become more aware than ever, of the importance of having such an agency.

Over the past two years, the Hughes Commission, appointed to inquire into the failure of the criminal justice system and the child welfare system to respond to complaints of child abuse at Mount Cashel in the mid-1970s, completed its work. The Hughes Commission completed its work, submitted its report to the government in May of 1991 and, as members of the House opposite, as well as members of the public, learned when the government finally made the report available to the public a year later, the Hughes Commission recommended that the government establish a police complaints commission.

The Hughes report called for a separate Cabinet minister responsible for the police, a solicitor general to be responsible for the police, in addition to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, who had continued to be responsible for the prosecutorial function of the criminal justice system. Mr. Justice Hughes said that the Solicitor General should establish a police commission for the Constabulary, with a complaints bureau. The judge talked about the need to have ongoing responsibility of elected accountable politicians for police, and assigned to the Solicitor General the function of reporting to the House of Assembly and the public on the work of a police commission with a complaints bureau, and of ensuring that the police commission have sufficient resources with which to function. The commissioner, while underlining the need for accountability by ministers, the Cabinet and the political arm of the government, did stress the importance of a correct relationship between the Ministry and the police commission.

So we have the recommendations of the Hughes Commission, which are in marked contrast to the provisions of this bill. We have the efforts of the Newfoundland Labrador Human Rights Association, which has brought a member of the Ontario Police Commission to the Province, and which is sponsoring the forum tonight. The Newfoundland Labrador Human Rights Association, for some months, in addition to planning the forum for tonight, has worked on a submission on the subject of an appropriate police commission and police complaints commission for the Constabulary. From checking with the Association, I am led to believe that the submission is not quite complete, and that it is being prepared for the government. It is my understanding that if this bill is referred to the Social Legislation Review Committee, as is called for in my amendment motion, that that Association will appear before the Committee and give the Committee the benefit of their views.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I mentioned when I spoke on Tuesday that the union, now called the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, has a direct interest in the constitution of a police commission. After all, as proposed in this bill, the commission would be mandated to deal with and investigate complaints about particular police officers. The power given to the Chief under the legislation, the one-person commission under the legislation, the adjudicators under the legislation, would include disciplinary action, dismissal and other penalties.

Obviously, the police union would have an interest in this. Individual police members would probably have an interest additionally, in ensuring that if and when they see the force acting improperly, if there is ever any prospect of the thwarting of the law, the thwarting of police investigative processes that happened in the mid-1970s, should not the concerned members have an independent agency to which they can go without fear of reprisals? That isn't provided for in the bill.

Mr. Speaker, over the last two years while people have been waiting for the government to put in place a commission for the Constabulary, we have all heard of particular instances of citizens feeling that they have been improperly dealt with or treated by the Constabulary. A number of these cases have been reported by the news media. The most recent was reported on CBC television last Friday evening. It involved a woman in the Corner Brook area who says the police came into her home and dragged her out of bed using excessive force. Perhaps that woman would have gone to a police commission instead of the CBC if there had been a police commission. If we still had the Ombudsman, she could have gone to the Ombudsman.

Last winter, we heard about the allegations of a woman who went to the Constabulary twenty-one months earlier making allegations about a former member of the House of Assembly. Months and months went by without that woman hearing what the police were doing. A year later, when she went to the Constabulary, she got the runaround. She was referred from one member to another, from one office to another. Eventually, she was told that the file had been shelved and no one had done anything about it. A whole year had gone by. Mr. Speaker, that is what the woman alleged.


MS. VERGE: The member for Placentia, a former police member himself, is saying, `Lies.' If there had been a police commission, if the Ombudsman had still been in place, that woman could have gone to an independent agency with her complaints about the police, with her complaints about the delay, with her complaints about being shuffled from one office to the other, with her fears that there had been political interference, and there could have been an independent investigation and adjudication. Perhaps the woman was wrong, perhaps she was right. We will never know.

Mr. Speaker, there was another case, well-publicized, involving the death of a man at Brittany Inns in St. John's, the death that occurred after the Constabulary was summoned to the hotel. Police members went to an hotel room where a skirmish ensued and an hotel guest died. Mr. Speaker, the minister and the Premier had some difficulty responding to the call for an independent inquiry. After a delay, they brought in the Ontario provincial police. That was an ad hoc response. That was a move to investigate any possible criminal wrongdoing.

Whether or not other dimensions of that incident, which could have been and should have been reviewed by a police commission, a complaints commission - should there not be a mechanism to review, not only particular actions of police members on particular occasions, but to assess procedures, to look at the pattern of police response or consistent refusal to respond, to inquire into the quality of response?

Mr. Speaker, as has been said by others and as I mentioned when I spoke on Tuesday, this bill does not establish a police commission, it does not mandate a civilian body to advise the government and the public about police power fees, about a constabulary code of ethics, about police pre-service training, about police in-service training, about the underrepresentation of women in the police force, about priorities for policing, and about the relative amount of time spent enforcing The Highway Traffic Act versus enforcing criminal code assault provisions. There is no provision in this draft legislation for a police commission.

All the bill does in part three is purport to establish a complaints commission. Mr. Speaker, the Bill was printed and distributed two weeks ago. Obviously it was rushed. There was a two year delay from when the government abolished the ombudsman's office but it is clear that the Minister of Justice and the Premier, the only two over there with any real clout, were preoccupied with constitutional matters for most of 1992 and it was not until after the referendum on the Charlottetown Accord at the end of October and after the House opened in November that they turned their minds to the subject of the constabulary police commission. They realized they were heading into an election, they knew they had the Hughes Commission Report before them. They had kept that under raps for the first year they had it but they were finally shamed into releasing it to the public last May, so they knew people had had that for six months.

They figured that people would be calling on them to account for the implementations of the Hughes Report recommendations and they realized they could not stall any more, so what they did was slap together this Bill, hoped to slide it through the House without too much debate or attention, put in place a token police complaints commission, set it up so it really would not amount to much, it really would not make a difference. Strike it so that members of the public would be disadvantaged in approaching with it, and then go into the next election campaign claiming that they had actually done something to improve the criminal justice system - all form, no substance, all show. Mr. Speaker, people are not going to stand for that.

The Justice Minister learned the ropes in politics as a very young man under the wing of Premier Smallwood in the 1960s. The minister may not have realized it but Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have progressed considerably since those years. People nowadays are much better educated, much more demanding, much more critical, and what the minister may have gotten away with back in the 60s people will not let him away with in 1992. People want to know the contents of this Bill, people want an opportunity to have their say about it before a House of Assembly Legislation Review Committee. Particular interest groups have already done a considerable amount of research into the subject of police commissions. A member of the political science faculty at Memorial University, writing in his weekly column in the Evening Telegram, did a critique of the Bill. I would think members opposite read it. I believe I heard the Minister of Justice acknowledge it.

Dr. Peter Boswell in a column published in Saturday's Telegram slammed the government's proposed police complaints commission. The headline of the article is: 'Proposed police commission a hypocritical sham." Hypocritical sham, what an apt phrase to describe the Wells administration. So much of what they do can be called a hypocritical sham. The Premier's answers to the hard hitting questions of the Opposition House Leader on conflict of interest today reeked of hypocrisy. His move now to revise conflict of interest legislation will probably be a sham. A hypocritical sham is what Dr. Peter Boswell called this proposed police complaints commission. Let me quote from the concluding paragraph of his article. 'Bill 56 is neither an adequate response to the finding of the Hughes Commission nor does it provide an acceptable replacement for the ombudsman's powers of investigation into complaints against the RNC. It is a hypocritical sham which the Minister of Justice should have been ashamed to introduce in the House.' End quote.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, Sher Singh of the Ontario Police Commission told CBC radio this morning that this Bill is well-intentioned. Mr. Singh may well be right. Perhaps I'm a little too cynical. Perhaps the minister and the Premier had good intentions in putting forward this legislation but they certainly didn't do an adequate amount of research. They certainly didn't take proper care in formulating the commission. They certainly didn't make proper provision for the independence of the police commission. They certainly didn't give the commission wide enough scope. They certainly loaded the deck against the individual aggrieved citizen, stacked the deck.

At least they made a start. After two years, after the two year void, they've made a start. If as I'm proposing with the amendment presently before the House the Bill is referred to the Social Legislation Review Committee, I'm confident that the members of the Committee, under the capable chair of the Member for Harbour Grace, can go through the Bill, analyze it, discuss it among ourselves, the seven members of the Committee, invite and receive informed comments from the public, and then come back to the House of Assembly with a report laying out a superior model for a constabulary commission and a complaints process.

Members on the backbenches opposite who serve on the Social Legislation Review Committee have quite a bit to contribute, I say to the Minister of Justice. I call on him to use the legislation review process which this administration established three years ago to involve the capable members behind him and on this side of the House in the process of improving upon this draft legislation.

At our meeting last week about the law society amendments the Members for Harbour Grace, Port de Grave, Humber West, St. George's, Kilbride and I made several constructive comments about the minister's proposed Bill. Unfortunately we were without the Member for St. John's East, because of a long-standing prior commitment. But if the full Committee is now mandated to deal with this Bill, I'm sure the Member for Harbour Grace would agree that we could provide a very valuable service by noting the positive contents of the Bill - because there are some - and then going on to recommending improvements.

All this means is using the legislation review process started by the Wells administration, returning to the positive experience of the first two years, harnessing the talent of government backbench members as well as Opposition members. The Member for Carbonear chaired the first Social Legislation Review Committee, and I'm sure he can tell the Minister of Justice what a good job the Committee has done in the past and can do if given the opportunity in the future.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Yes, the Member for Carbonear reminds me that when he chaired the Committee the Committee did very useful work. The Member for Kilbride sat in on the meeting of the Committee a week or so ago. The Member for Kilbride has much to contribute to a debate about a police commission. The Member for Ferryland, who has made such an outstanding contribution in his few short weeks in the House of Assembly, I am sure could improve upon this draft. But more than that, more than what we as individual members can contribute through working on the committee, Mr. Speaker, the committee collectively can reach out to the public. We can involve organizations and individuals who have had experience with the police, who know the positive and negative experiences of police commissions in other provinces and in other parts of the world.

Instead of rushing through this House of Assembly, a Bill providing for a flawed Police Commission, instead of settling for a hypocritical sham, in the words of Dr. Peter Boswell, how much better would it be if we pause, accept my amendment motion, refer the Bill to the Social Legislation Review Committee, allow the committee to do its work in the early part of the new year, in January and February, and then return here in March, have the Member for Harbour Grace rise in his place and give a report commenting upon what is good in this Bill -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

MS. VERGE: - and then proceeding to lay out recommendations to improve it, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before recognizing the hon. member, the Chair would like to welcome on behalf of all hon. members to the gallery, the Mayor of Happy Valley Goose Bay, Mr. Baikie and Mrs. Baikie.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to say a very, very few remarks as it pertains to the police commission. As an ex-policeman, many years ago, I think the police commission is a good idea. I think it has to come but I have some problems, Mr. Speaker, with the structure. I believe, Mr. Speaker, if we put in the red tape whereby people will look at what they have to go through to get a hearing, I think, Mr. Speaker, that there will be a lot of people that will not seek that kind of help.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I also see in this legislation that if a person comes in and makes a complaint against the police officer than if that complaint is completely erroneous and it is almost an act of (inaudible) than the complainant has to pay for it and I see that as - well it is a step in the right direction, the right step in the right direction. I think too, Mr. Speaker, that there should be only three people on that commission. I think that three people are sufficient because no matter what that commission decides the courts are still available to that person. But, Mr. Speaker, usually in the democratic system in which we live if there is a panel, not a political panel but a panel of independent people, usually the decision that they make can be upheld. But then I do not think that it should have any adjacency to or be part of the Department of Justice. I think that it should be at arms length from the Department of Justice and I think that the commissioner's report should come to the legislature. That is where I think it should come.

The other thing I want to say to the minister is I am always fearful, when you appoint commissions, of the persons involved in that commission, in its initial stages, beginning empire building, until finally we have a great big establishment that by the time you get to where you are supposed to go in the first instance, you have to pass through about ten individuals just to get that hearing.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the minister that the commissioner and all members of this commission should be on a part-time basis. I do not think - perhaps in the first few weeks you will see people come in - it is new - and avail of it. I think that when people realize, and I realize there are not that many complaints against The Newfoundland Constabulary. They are minor, and there are not that many, so I do not see the necessity of a full-time commission, and I say that to the minister with all honesty.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister, there is one thing that I find lacking in the Bill, and that is the protection for the policemen themselves. Now the minister said the other day that a policeman can now issue a complaint. People may not understand, but from someone who was in the police force, if you have a sergeant, and you are in that department and you go over the head of that sergeant, it is treated by that department as being wrong. That is the truth of it. Now you have a right to issue a complaint against an individual, but if you go beyond the department and go to the Justice Department, then you are on your own and you will be treated as such.

If a person is in the CID, which has some prominence - to get to the CID it looks like you are in the investigative aspect of the police force. It has a bit more flamboyancy or whatever; but if that person in that investigative department goes beyond his supervisor, then he will not be long in that department - in that part of that department. He will find himself back walking the streets again.

It is so easy to say: This is the way it will happen. But in many occasions it is not like that. I say to the minister that once, a good many years ago, there were four of us who took up a petition to have the forty-eight hour work week reduced to forty-two. We did it in a manner which the chief of police did not think was right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: No it was not. The Premier is coming now, so I hope he listens.

Anyway, we took up a petition. The chief of the day was not in the office at the time but we, sort of bullies at the time, a bit younger, took up that petition and presented that position to the then Leader of the Opposition who was Malcolm Hollett, to present it in the Legislature.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Yes, the hon. Malcolm Hollett - Lord have mercy on him. We presented the petition to Malcolm Hollett, and he presented it to the then Liberal government. At any rate, let me get down to what I am talking about.

The chief then issued us - the four of us - an Admit or Deny. It was a paper where you admit what you had done, or deny what you had done. He gave us twenty-four hours to submit that, or be fired. We had no recourse; but we had a good friend at the time who, by the way, told us we were right in presenting the petition in the first place, and that was the hon. J.V. McEvoy.

We went right straight back to the hon. J.V. and said to him: What are we going to do? We showed them the letter: We are going to be fired - the four of us are going to be fired. And he wrote a letter and we hand-delivered the letter back to the Chief, and I don't know if the Chief ever deciphered it. There were words in it such that I couldn't get to the first syllable. The first syllable threw me off. Anyway, we heard nothing from it afterwards. We didn't get fired. I resigned from the police force some time later and so did all my colleagues.

But the point I am making to the minister is, the police at that time, and today, have no recourse within the police force. The police, themselves, have no one to go to on the inside. They are a group who should be able to lodge complaints themselves. It must be remembered, even in the Hughes Inquiry, the sergeant went to the Chief, and he told him: Squash it. Now, I would say, the next day that sergeant would be out of that office if he didn't do it, walking the beat. And these things do happen in the police force. Some of us think they are farfetched, but they are not. It is the truth, they do happen. And the same recourse should be available to the police, as to the public who report police injustice.

What I am saying again, Mr. Speaker, is, I hope there will be some provision made to ensure that the police have access to the commissioner from within. Because, Mr. Speaker, people outside see very little of this, but these things happen daily and I think there should be some protection for the members of the police force.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I had not originally intended to speak in this debate, but I made up my mind to speak this morning when I heard Mr. Sher Singh interviewed on CBC Radio, and I was quite impressed with what he had to say. But before I get into that and deal with the comments that he made, I think I should say something else on behalf of all of the people of this Province.

People should not interpret this move or this fairly widespread support in the Province, for the creation of a police commission as a severe criticism of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, a record that can stand favourably side by side with the record of any police force in this country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: They, together with the old Newfoundland Rangers, policed this Province quite effectively before we became a Province of Canada; and then our structure changed and the Newfoundland Rangers were taken into the RCMP, and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was confined to policing the city of St. John's.

Now, I don't know how many of you are old enough to know when the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary used to police smaller communities. I grew up, spent part of my life, in Bishop's Falls, there was a policeman there, Constable LeCour, who was the policeman for Bishop's Falls. In Millertown Junction, there was another, Saul Churchill, as I recall. They were all around, in Curling and so on. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary did a darn good job of policing most of this Province and the Rangers did the remainder.

After Confederation, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary essentially became a police force confined to the City of St. John's, but they were not a municipal police force. They did all of the policing duties and maintained law and order as peace officers in the City of St. John's and the immediate environs.

In recent years, that has been extended to include Labrador City, Corner Brook and Conception Bay South. I was in Corner Brook, or had just recently left Corner Brook, at the time that these changes were being made. I recall there were really some second thoughts about it amongst the people of Corner Brook. They had a good rapport with the RCMP and they didn't want to see that changed. They felt the RCMP had done an excellent job, and so they had.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report to this House today that the people of Corner Brook are extremely pleased with the performance of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and with good reason to be extremely pleased. They went out and took over in difficult circumstances, managed the political aspects of it very well, integrated themselves into the community extremely well, and the City of Corner Brook is today well policed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Mr. Speaker, all that, to establish that this has been a good police force. The individuals who have served in it have been superb individuals, on the whole. But in every excellent organization there is a bad apple or two, or sometimes three or four. Sometimes that bad apple might be fairly well up the line in terms of the chain of command. Don't condemn the whole of the police force and don't look upon this bill as necessary to restrain a police force run amuck.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: This is a bill that will provide for an appropriate level of supervision or investigation when cause for complaint exists. Cause for complaint has existed in the past, and I have no doubt that cause for complaint will exist in the future. So, Mr. Speaker, it is entirely appropriate that we should put in place a commission that can fairly adequately deal with complaints as and when they arise.

The system that we have where the complaints are essentially dealt with by either the senior officers up to the Chief of Police, or through the Department of Justice and the Minister of Justice, which basically has responsibility for the general direction of the operation of the police force in the Province, is not entirely satisfactory in this sense: in the sense that occasionally the Department of Justice can falter, too, and a genuine complaint can be covered up, as we saw in the Mt. Cashel case.

But, let us not condemn the entire police force because of that one bad experience. Let us instead, put in place an appropriate level of investigative commission to deal with the problem, to the extent that the problem exists or is likely to exist in the future.

Now, I said I was moved to speak because I'd listened to Mr. Sher Singh comment on it. I listened to all his comments and his criticisms of the paper and his expression of opinion that he thought it was an expression of good intention on the part of the government bringing this forward. Then he set about explaining what he saw as flaws in it, and explaining that we shouldn't be going off in a new direction on our own. Instead, they have a good example in Ontario; why didn't we follow the Ontario example? That would be a logical approach.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, that is what I heard him say on radio - that we didn't have to re-invent the wheel, that the example was already done in Ontario, it was done in Manitoba, it was done in British Columbia, and we could do well to follow the Ontario example. This bill didn't follow the Ontario example to certain extents and he mentioned those.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there's a very good reason why we're not following the Ontario example - We aren't Ontario. There is a number of substantial differences between Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, quite apart from the difference in wealth and capability of running an extensive and expensive commission, quite apart from our inability to put in place a full-scale commission at the kind of cost that Ontario would incur.

Mr. Speaker, they also have a circumstance where the entire policing of Ontario is done by police forces subject to the control and inspection of this police commission - the Ontario provincial police, and all of the municipal police forces in Ontario - I suppose, several hundred different police forces in Ontario. So you can justify a commission.

We, Mr. Speaker, have one police force. They happen to police four separate communities. Now, what in God's name are we doing trying to put the trappings of an elephant on the back of a mouse? Mr. Singh's comments were quite appropriate. I cannot argue with the theoretical comments that he made, largely - if I went back and examined it in detail, I might find some argument with some minor aspect of it, but in general, I can endorse pretty fully what he has said. However, Mr. Speaker, the thing that he overlooked is he was talking in the theoretical. If you were dealing with a circumstance where there was responsibility for a large number of police forces widely spread out to police some 10 million people, and you had the financial resources of Ontario, then it is an entirely appropriate regime.

What is being proposed here, Mr. Speaker, I suggest to you, is an entirely appropriate regime for what we have in Newfoundland. Remember, we are going from nothing. Nothing now exists other than the discipline of the Chief and the overall general supervision of the Attorney General, so we are going from nothing.

MS. VERGE: You had the Ombudsman.

PREMIER WELLS: The Ombudsman - did anybody ever read an Ombudsman's report? I wonder that he even got out of bed in the morning when I looked at the content of it. I can't see any evidence that he ever did anything. The Ombudsman - good heavens above!

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we must do, and what I believe this bill does, is to put in place a commission that is appropriate to the circumstances with which it has to deal. We are starting from nothing - nothing exists. What we need, basically, is a system or something in place where an individual who feels aggrieved by an action of the police - and I don't believe there is a great number; I really do not believe there is a great number. I am quite prepared to believe there are some, and there are some justifiable complaints but I don't think it is a significant number.

We don't need to create this massive bureaucracy that Mr. Singh is talking about. What we need is a sure and certain independent person to whom an individual may go, who feels aggrieved and has not gotten justice or fair treatment from the Chief of Police, who has primary responsibility. If he has gone to the Chief and said, Look at what Constable so-and-so did, or he failed to do, and as a result of that complaint he does not get full satisfaction, from his point of view, he can then go to the commission. And the commissioner can cause whatever investigation is necessary to take place and then, if the commissioner, on the basis of that investigation, is satisfied that there is a legitimate complaint, he can put in place an adjudicative procedure, or call it off if there is no basis for it. And, lest the hon. member be utterly shocked, occasionally, people make complaints for which there is not one iota of basis in the world, and there is no need to put in place an investigation or a royal commission. That is why we have the commissioner to make the decision as to whether or not it is necessary. What are you going to do, set up a full-blown commission every time somebody says boo, whether there is any need for it or not? Where are we going to get the money to pay for such madness? We have got a simple, straightforward, quite acceptable proposal in this bill to meet the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador - not the needs of Ontario, but we are not governing Ontario, we are governing Newfoundland and Labrador. And what is there is a very fair and straightforward system and it should be within our means.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied that we need to put in place a full structure with a three-member commission, is what I believe he suggested, full office, full office staff, investigative staff. Where are we going to get the money to pay for it? Look at what we have had to do recently to cope with our budgetary problems. What are we going to do, putting this kind of super bureaucracy in place? It is enough, Mr. Speaker, particularly in the present circumstances, if every citizen of this Province can feel absolute confidence that 'If I have a complaint that the Chief of Police does not deal with adequately, there is somebody to whom I can go and cause it to be done,' if it is a legitimate complaint.

Mr. Speaker, what I believe we have to do is make sure we appoint an individual of unquestioned competence, no relationship with the police, and no relationship with government - a totally independent individual -

AN HON. MEMBER: Appoint Lynn Verge.

PREMIER WELLS: - with competence.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, that leaves Lynn out.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Her husband (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: - a totally independent individual with competence to whom a complainant can go with confidence that he will receive redress, in the event that the complaint hasn't been properly dealt with.

Then, if, as and when those complaints arise, the individual can cause whatever investigation - under that commissioner's direction - whatever investigation is necessary to be made. If there is any substance at all to the complaint that can't be dealt with to the total satisfaction of the complainant, put in place an adjudicative procedure. Only then do you need the three-person committee to deal with it and adjudicate. Or perhaps you don't even need it then, depending on the circumstance. But leave it to the commissioner to decide that.

Mr. Speaker, that is within our means. That is suited to the need that exists. What are we going to do, putting this great organization and bureaucracy in place for the few complaints that we have, in this little place where we have basically a good, solid, sound police force?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Let's put in place the kind of a police commission that is adequate to the needs of the problems that exist. Let's not create this fabulous structure that will be beyond our financial means to provide and will have nothing to do except twiddle their thumbs.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: What is proposed will do the job quite adequately, quite within our means. Mr. Speaker, I am quite satisfied that we will find a competent, independent commissioner, capable of carrying out the task outlined here.

So to suggest that this whole thing should be delayed as a result of this motion - we are going to delay this now while we spend hours, days and weeks and perhaps months, and tens of thousands of dollars more on hearings and proposals - to come up with what? - a system that we can't afford? What utter madness! What an utter waste of time!

Mr. Speaker, the time has come now to move, to put this in place, and cause it to operate in an efficient, effective way within the limitation of the means that we have, and quite sufficient to meet the problem that does exist. I do not suggest a problem does not exist, but I suggest to you that there is not a problem with every single police officer in this Province. It would take a full-time - you wouldn't need a full-time commissioner and a staff and the kinds of numbers that Mr. Singh was talking about, unless you had a problem with every single police officer in the Province.

There is a handful of individuals in respect of whom there may be a bit of a problem. Let's put in place a system capable of dealing with that handful of problems, not a system suitable to dealing with the problems that Ontario has. Mr. Speaker, the motion is ill-conceived, and obviously motivated just to cause delay or to attempt to try to cause embarrassment for the government. But the people of this Province are much too sound and sensible to be misled by that. So, I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, you need have no doubt that I intend to vote against the motion to amend.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, let me say - and I don't think it has anything to do with the conflict of interest legislation - but let me say, as a preface, that in the past I have represented the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association. I have a lot of knowledge of the operations of the police force, and I have a lot of friends in the police force. I also have had occasion to appear before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the response of the Newfoundland criminal justice system to complaints - the Hughes Commission.

So I do have, Mr. Speaker, an interest, and lest it go unsaid, as a lawyer I think it's fair to say that I have had some experience, knowledge, that is useful and valuable, perhaps, to the House. The fact that one is a lawyer - although other people may not like lawyers, they do occasionally happen to come into contact with matters of a legal nature involving the police and involving matters that often come before a Legislature. So I hope to offer my comments about this on the basis of having had some experience in these matters.

I also say along with the Premier that we're very lucky in this Province to have a police force which is well respected by the community at large, and deservedly so. That doesn't mean that there's not a need and a desire for a police complaints commission. I think that the Premier exaggerates a great deal when he suggests that the Committee to which this Bill is being sought to be referred, chaired by the hon. Member for Harbour Grace, is going to cost tens of thousands of dollars of government money to listen to people. To hear what people have to say about this.

It's one thing for the Premier to have experience as a lawyer, as I do, as the Member for Humber East does, and as the Minister of Justice does, but it's quite another thing to be a know-it-all. I don't know it all, the Premier doesn't know it all, not even the Minister of Justice knows it all. Not even the Minister of Justice knows it all. We may have some experience being lawyers but there are other parties involved in this, and they are the general public, the Police Association, which has an interest in this, the Human Rights Commission which has a very strong interest in this, and members of the general public. All that's being suggested by this motion is that there be a little consultation.

You wouldn't know but this was an emergency that just arose in the last week or so, that this has to be rammed through the House before Christmas to meet some pressing emergency. This has been on the go since the Royal Commission of Inquiry, the Hughes Commission report, was handed to the government a year before they released it. So they've known what was being recommended there. In fact they agreed that this was a good idea, long before this Bill was presented to the House last week.

So there's no urgency here. If they were really genuinely interested in public consultation there would have been a draft of this legislation floating around for the last six or eight months. There was all kinds of time for the Social Legislation Review Committee to have an opportunity to talk about this and to have input into it. No, this was kept in-house, in the office of the Minister of Justice or somebody else, until it was laid before the House, and now we want to rush it through.

It is unconscionable, that legislation of this sort, with the kind of public interest involved, should be dealt with in the manner as being proposed. It's a shocking exaggeration to sit here and listen to the Premier talking about the wasting of tens of thousands of dollars of government money. To put an ad in the paper and have the Member - the Member for Harbour Grace doesn't make tens of thousands a week to chair committees. He's being paid a salary by this House to do his job and to do his duty. I think maybe the daily rate as chairman, it might be $125 or something -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Nothing. He tells me nothing. Nothing. He doesn't take anything to chair this Committee.

MS. VERGE: It's a frugal committee.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Development is asking for conclusions. Mr. Speaker, I've been giving conclusions to this House since I (Inaudible) up. I've concluded that this government is incompetent in the presentation of legislation, and incompetent in its mandate to consult with people on such an important issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, Mr. Speaker, hon. members are talking about polls. I have to tell hon. members, just before they run off half-cocked, that those polls were taken before I became Leader of the New Democratic Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. HARRIS: You will notice that those polling results were taken between November 5 and November 14. I didn't become Leader of this Party until the afternoon of November 14. So while I recognise that the Party has a along way to go, I intend to bring it there. I digress from the important points that I am about to make.

AN HON. MEMBER: The only place you can go is up, Jack.

MR. HARRIS: I am glad to hear the Member for St. John's South suggest that we will be going up in the polls as time goes on, and I have to agree with him. That is the direction we are heading, and consequently as we go up, he and his party will be going down, down, down.

Mr. Speaker, back to the issue at hand. The motion before the House is to refer it to a committee, a very simple motion, an important motion on a matter that is of such great importance. There is, for example, need for discussion about the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry - the Hughes Commission - which really suggested that the Minister of Justice ought not to have a hand in this kind of activity at all.

The Hughes Commission said there ought to be a separation between the operations of the police force, including a police complaints commission, and the activity of the Minister of Justice. That is an important consideration that we really ought to have a closer look at. Should this body report to the Minister of Justice at all - not because it is this Minister of Justice - although I know the Human Rights Commission cannot report to him for reasons of potential conflict or perceived conflict, and that is understandable. Equally so, perhaps the police complaints commission ought not to be reporting to the Minister of Justice when Mr. Justice Samuel Hughes said that it ought not to be so.

Perhaps the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations who is discussing this matter with the Minister of Justice now, perhaps he should also be given the responsibility for the police complaints commission as well as the Human Rights Commission. That perhaps is an appropriate situation to have brought up. This is something that could be brought up before the committee so ably headed by the Member for Harbour Grace. That is an important fundamental point that needs to be looked at.

I also heard Mr. Sher Singh today talking about the reason and the rationale for a police complaints commission in the first place, and it is a very important one. What he said at a luncheon meeting today - this is why I was late for Question Period and unable, therefore, to speak on the Ministerial Statement that was made today. I was attending the luncheon and Mr. Sher Singh spoke to the Canadian Bar Association.

At that time he talked about the great powers that we give, as a society, to police officers. We give them the power - power that is given to no other people in society - and that is to have discretion twenty-four hours a day to deny an individual person their freedom - to arrest and imprison somebody; secondly, to also use force against a citizen, and whatever force is required, and that may involve even the causing of that person's death - even in Newfoundland where police do not carry sidearms. That is a very, very, significant power. I am told - I am not an expert on military law, but Mr. Singh said that is not even a power given to military personnel in war on the front lines. They must respond to orders to shoot. They must respond to orders, but we give the discretionary power to a police officer to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Go on, Jack. Say something.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is saying something, if you would just listen.

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Justice indicated that nobody was listening, so I thought I would wait until I got the attention of hon. members.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a serious matter here, and if hon. members do not think that the liberty of each and every person -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having difficulty hearing the hon. Member for St. John's East. If hon. members want to carry on a private conversation, I suggest they go outside the Chamber.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I find it appalling when we are talking -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has already brought attention to a couple of hon. members who insist on shouting across the House. If it persists the Chair will enforce the rules of the House.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The important and fundamental rights that our society has surrendered to police officers -

MR. HOGAN: Nobody so stupid (inaudible)

MR. HARRIS: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is perhaps not as aware of fundamental human rights as he should be and perhaps if he listened for a little while he might learn something about it. If he does not want to listen, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that he remove himself from the Chamber.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: It is not surprising that the Premier can come in here and make foolish exaggerations about the cost of public consultation when the likes of that, Mr. Speaker, does not have any recognition or any respect for human rights or privileges that we have in our society, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have surrendered to police officers the right to arrest people and detain them at their discretion if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that someone has committed an offence. That is a very important discretion and we have done it for a good reason, because we want security. Public security demands it. We surrender that right in return for security but it also requires accountability. Mr. Speaker, that is something I believe the police association would agree with. I believe the chief of police would agree with it, and I believe that all hon. members, if they thought about it, would agree that is part of the arrangement that has been made.

We give up that measure of security but we demand as citizens that there must be accountability for that power. Now, Mr. Speaker, what we are now debating is the method that we are choosing to have that accountability. We could leave it as it is, Mr. Speaker, and have the Minister of Justice responsible for it, not this Minister of Justice but the Office of Minister of Justice, but that has proved, Mr. Speaker, to have failed in this Province, to have failed to be an adequate method of dealing with the accountability of police officers. Chief Justice Hughes has reported and recommended that it should be removed from the responsibility of the Minister of Justice and he recommended a separate solicitor general. Now, Mr. Speaker, that may or may not be necessary, but he suggested that the reason for that was to keep it separate from the operation of the system of justice and the laying of charges, that the control of the police ought to be separate. Now, government has decided not to do that. Perhaps the police complaints commission could report to another minister such as the Human Rights Commission does now, or is being proposed.

AN HON. MEMBER: They should report to the House.

MR. HARRIS: Or we will make them report to the House. I think that is a better system again. It should be appointed by the House and report to the House. There are a lot of questions raised here and this is why the amendment of the Member for Humber East is valuable and worth considering because a committee is a more appropriate body to deal with these questions. Now, I have not even gotten to the Bill itself. I am only dealing now with the fundamental and basic issues that are associated with this, and when the Minister of Justice says he is doing this in compliance with the recommendations of the Hughes Commission he is not correct because he is not separating out the relationship between the police and the administration of justice. So, Mr. Speaker, what we have to have is a procedure that is recognized by the public as being independent, and I am afraid that the system that has been designed in Bill 56 will not be recognized as being independent. There has to be more involvement than the appointment of a commissioner and one or two or three adjudicators.

Mr. Speaker, in order for this system to have a proper effect, not only on the response to public complaints, but also on the actions of police officers, it has to be accepted by police officers as being reasonable. It does not have to have a full time commission with five or six commissioners spending tremendous amounts of public money, it can be a commission that meets as necessary; it can be a part-time commission. I do not anticipate there is going to be hundreds of thousands or hundreds or thousands of complaints made to the police, in fact Mr. Singh has suggested that a police commission of this nature might have a lot of complaints first, but not very many of them will be sustained.

People will be complaining about something that is not worthy of complaint and as the former Minister of Education says, the system will look at the complaint, may find it not the proper basis of a complaint or, the behaviour of the police forces may in fact change and I think that is a good and proper thing, so we do not need to worry about having a full time commission meeting eight or ten months of the year and being paid big salaries. We may be able to have a commission that meets infrequently, such as arbitration boards do under the Labour Relations Act, or such as the Labour Relations Board itself does, part-time from time to time.

As the Member for St. John's South knows, the Labour Relations Board consists of people appointed by employers and employees, usually not lawyers, Mr. Speaker, although I know that the Member for St. John's South likes to see lawyers on these boards, but the Labour Relations Board is composed primarily of non-lawyers, lay people who have expertise in that area and I would submit that this commission could equally be composed of non-lawyers, and we would want non-lawyers because we need members of the public on this commission because it is public accountability that we are talking about here.

Mr. Singh suggested today that you may well need a lawyer part-time to act as a commissioner to deal with evidence and things like that, but he suggested, and I think it is a good suggestion, that perhaps one member of this commission ought to be a nominee of the police association, who would be designated and must be a non-lawyer and that we have a third person nominated by community groups who might have an interest in these issues so that we would have a three-person commission, two non-lawyers and designated as such, who also did not have previous police experience, to again be seen as being independent and that complaints ought to be made to this body, so the police association would have some input into it and the community at large would have direct input into it by nominating someone to the board and you might find room for someone with a bit of legal knowledge to be a part-time commissioner or chair of the commission, and that would give I would suspect - the members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary might have more confidence in a body that they themselves had participated in forming.

That is not a suggestion, Mr. Speaker, that comes from the police association. They may have their own suggestions about that. We will not know, I suppose, unless they are invited to participate in this discussion by having this amendment, to pass it over to the Social Services Review Committee. That is the proper place for this because despite the fact that there have been public calls for a police complaints commission for the last two years or more, the only issue is whether or not the government was going to get on with it - whether they were going to follow through on their promises or whether they were not. We were all up in the air. We have been up in the air up until this Bill has been presented as to whether or not we were going to have a police commission at all.

There has been no public discussion about the nature of the commission - about how it is going to be composed. Now it is time for that. What about a week? What about two weeks? What about from now until the middle of January? No, Mr. Speaker, the government wants to push this through. You do not want to spend tens of thousands of government dollars on the Member for Harbour Grace chairing committee hearings. The Member for Harbour Grace says that he does not take any money for being chairman of the committee, so I do not know where the tens of thousands of dollars are that the Premier talks about - a gross exaggeration.

Why is this government opposed to public consultation? Do they want to convince people that they know it all; that the Minister of Justice and the Premier know it all; that they are right?

AN HON. MEMBER: You said you did not know it all.

MR. HARRIS: I do not know it all, Mr. Speaker. I am certainly sure that the Minister of Justice does not know it all either, although he may act like it from time to time.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of problems with this legislation as it is, and I want to look at some of them that come to mind at first reading. We see that there is a lot of information up front about the establishment of the commission. What we see here is really an agency of the Minister of Justice.

Section 20 says: The officers, investigators and employees that are necessary for the proper conduct of the work of the commission shall be appointed at the direction of the minister in the manner established by law.

So the minister is running the show here, and he is the same person who is also running the police force, and that is not right. There has to be some separation between what the minister does and what the commission does, so there is a lack of independence there.

Section 22 says: A complaint made under subsection (1) shall be a complaint which, if substantiated, would lead to review and discipline under this Part.

Mr. Speaker, what does that mean? Does that mean it is not a complaint unless it is something that would definitely be the subject of a disciplinary matter? Surely people can complain about police activity, whether or not it would be subject to discipline procedure.

A police officer can be carrying out his function and duty totally in keeping with the procedures laid down in the police act and regulations and police policy but still be wrong. He could still be wrong. He may not be disciplined for it. It may well be a valid complaint, that the police procedure itself is wrong. Mr. Speaker. you cannot define those complaints out of existence, as this act does.

It is a serious flaw because there are many police procedures that are on the books, that have been there for ages - well intentioned, perhaps proper when they were brought in, but will now or may now come to be seen as being wrong - as being insensitive to women, as being an improper way to approach a particular activity.

The woman who complained about police behaviour in Churchill Park this year, it was found that the police officers were acting in accordance with existing police procedure, but there is a legitimate question as to whether - and the police officers were not going to be disciplined for it, and that makes sense. If a police officer is acting in accordance with his duties and orders and laid down rules, he should not be disciplined. He or she should not be disciplined, but that does not mean that it cannot be the subject of a valid complaint.

The commissioner, Mr. Speaker, should be able to say: we have examined the circumstances, we have examined the police procedures, we are satisfied that the police officer acted in accordance with the policy and procedures but we feel that those policy and procedures are wrong and should be changed and are not appropriate to these circumstances. By this legislation, Mr. Speaker, that would not even count as a complaint. Because a complaint here has to be a complaint, which if substantiated, would lead to review and discipline under this part, section 22(2).

That is just one flaw, Mr. Speaker, some of this stuff may be more properly raised at third reading, Mr. Speaker, but I am raising it now on the basis that the hon. Member for Humber East has said it should go to a committee where it can be studied and improved. Not torn apart, Mr. Speaker, not destroyed but improved, that is the purpose of these committees. The Member for St. John's South may have a contribution to make at the committee. He is not going to be listened to here in this House because the Premier and the Minister of Justice are trying to ram the Bill through. But in a committee, Mr. Speaker, he and his fellow backbenchers over there have a role to play. They have very little role here, Mr. Speaker, except obstruct the workings of the House when hon. members have something to say, and prevent them by abusing the rules.

But in the committee they have an opportunity to improve this legislation, to make it better for their constituents and for my constituents and for all the people of this Province, instead of being run roughshod, run roughshod over by the Premier and the Minister of Justice in this House. They can participate and have something to say, make a contribution. So Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of work that needs to be done on this Bill. I have not even begun to look at the details of it. The only time limits that we see here, Mr. Speaker, are the time limits for the laying of a complaint and the time limits for appeals. A complainant has fifteen days to appeal to the court. A complainant must make a complaint within three months but no time limits for anybody else, no time limits for the commissioner, no time limits for the chief of police, no time limits for anybody else except the complainant, who must bring the complaint within three months of the happening of the incident, Mr. Speaker.

Now, what if the complainant does not find out about the behaviour for four months? What if the complainant finds out six months later that the police have done something that was improper? What if they find out that some police officers wiretapped their home, Mr. Speaker, without a - wire tapped their home, Mr. Speaker, entered their home illegally and they do not find out for six months or four months or eight months? Too late, Mr. Speaker, too late because they did not complain within three months of the happening of the incident. So, Mr. Speaker, there are many, many flaws in this Bill. How much time does the chief of police have to investigate and why should the chief be doing it anyway? The commissioner should have the right to take over an investigation, Mr. Speaker, if he or she feels that it is the right thing to do, as soon as the complaint comes to the commissioners attention. That is another flaw, Mr. Speaker, there is no procedure here to ensure under section 25, that the investigation shall be concluded within even a reasonable period of time. Although I am sure the courts would impose that rule on them but lets give it some time periods.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can speak again on the main motion, so it is okay.

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

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before we do - I move that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m., Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

All those in favour, 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

Is the House ready for the question? All those in favour of the amendment please say 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.


MR. SPEAKER: I declare the amendment defeated.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East on the second reading.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased that the Government House Leader has chosen not to come back tonight but to continue at 5:00 p.m. because I may be finished by 8:00 p.m., Mr. Speaker, and then the Minister of the Justice and the Premier could go to the public forum on this Bill and perhaps learn something. Hon. members will have a chance to go and perhaps hear some of the ways that this Bill ought to be changed and amended since they refused -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) six-month hoist?

MR. HARRIS: A six-month hoist, that might be a good idea, Mr. Speaker, since they've refused now to have the Committee, composed of a majority of their own members, analyze this Bill and listen to members of the public, to people who have an interest in this, people who've actually thought about it, I say to the Member for Port de Grave. People who've actually thought about this might have something to say about this and may offer some guidance to the Member for Port de Grave and to other members who might be on the Committee that would consider this. Since they've refused that perhaps they should go to the public forum and hear what some of these people may have to say.

The object here is to come up with the best and most reasonable method of dealing with police complaints that provides for public accountability and not some bureaucratic nightmare for an individual complainant.

I've a major complaint here about this whole question of costs. Clause 33(7) of the legislation offers the adjudicator the following power. It says on page 21 of the Bill: "Following a hearing under this Part, where an adjudicator concludes that the actions of a complainant in making a complaint were unfounded, the adjudicator may order that the complainant pay the reasonable costs incurred by the commission in conducting an investigation, a hearing, or both."

That is a tremendous burden to be placed on an unwary complainant. The Minister of Justice said in his speech that: we would hope that the adjudicator would never use it. I have a way of ensuring that the adjudicator would never use it. Remove the clause. Why should a complainant, an ordinary citizen who comes with a complaint, and somebody down the long road decides that the complaint is not substantiated, that it's unfounded in law, or it's unfounded in the minutiae of fact and law and everything else that comes out, why should the member of the public, who may well be unsophisticated in matters of this sort, who brings his or her complaint in good faith, in good faith brings a complaint against a member of the police force, and the commissioner later finds against that person. Says that: on the bounds of probabilities this complaint is unfounded.

Why should that person have to pay the perhaps tens of thousands of dollars that the Premier talks about, that it might cost to conduct a hearing and pay all the lawyers to get involved in, pay the investigators, pay the cost of the hearings room, and all that stuff? Why should the unwary complainant who we're dealing with here - we're not necessarily dealing here with sophisticated, legally-minded, people with access to lawyers, who are making these complaints. We are dealing here with ordinary citizens, and perhaps ordinary citizens who have some very good reason to be concerned about the treatment that they might receive from an individual police officer.

This part of the legislation is grossly unjust and is going to discourage complaints. Is that what the Minister of Justice wants to do? Discourage ordinary citizens from complaining because of the danger of having a ruling against them on the basis that the complaint was unfounded, after all the lawyers and everybody else have had their say?

No, that should not be allowed. The fact that they can apply to have the cost taxed in accordance with the Judicature Act is really of no help to a complainant who's saying: will I take this complaint, or will I not? When I look here at this and say: I could have to pay the cost of the Commission, of the investigation, of a hearing. I don't know what they are. That could be - as long as they're reasonable costs, the Judicature Act is going to allow them. That could be thousands of dollars. A complainant ought not to be saddled with the potential costs that are involved.

This is a minor matter, but it may show the haste with which this is put together. Why is it that in the legislation, Clause 33, if a police officer is found guilty, he or she may be found liable to pay the cost of the commission, but the commissioned officer - there is no mention of him being required to pay the cost of the commission. However, the chief of police can be made to pay the cost. Why is that? Is there a rationale behind this, or is this just the carelessness that is involved in the haste with which this legislation is put together to try and impress this House, and try and make the people of Newfoundland think that this government is on top of things when they are really not?

Mr. Speaker, there are those kinds of problems with the act that are not amenable. I suppose that particular one could be corrected, but there are some fundamental problems with the way that the government has put this together.

There is a serious question here. I know that government does not control the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It does not control it, Mr. Speaker. It does not have the right to discipline the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but why not have complaints that are made against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police also notified to the commission so that the commissioner is aware and can keep records of the complaints that are made, both against the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police? That is a simple thing that ought to be changed, but we ought to have some way of people having access to the information and facts about the complaints themselves.

What about the penitentiary service? What about complaints that might be made by inmates of Her Majesty's Penitentiary or the correction institutions? It seems to me that this is an appropriate body that could handle complaints about that as well. That is something that needs to be looked at as well. Perhaps that should be included too.

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I am happy with the police chief being the first line of investigation for all complaints. That is an unnecessary and perhaps wrong approach to take when there may well be complaints that from the beginning are obvious that they are complaints against existing police procedures - not necessarily against an individual. Why have the police chief go ahead with an investigation on an existing procedure that is well-known to the police force? It may be something that the police chief himself has put into place. There should be a regulation or a change that would allow the commissioner himself or herself to go ahead and launch his own investigation immediately.

Mr. Speaker, Section 30 of the act deals with who the parties to a proceeding before an adjudicator are. They are said to be the commissioner, the complainant, the police officer, the chief, and a person who satisfies the adjudicator that he or she has a substantial interest in the complaint.

Mr. Speaker, I think that should be a person or a group. It could be a group who might satisfy the adjudicator that he or she has a substantial interest in the complaint. The Human Rights Association may wish to intervene in particular cases and assist, perhaps, the commission in dealing with a particular complaint before an adjudicator.

The suggestion that a person might include a body corporate would be fine, but there may well be groups that are not incorporated and do not satisfy the legal definition of person, so therefore it should say that a person or a group ought to be able to satisfy an adjudicator that they have an interest in the complaint. That ought not to be minimized, Mr. Speaker. There ought to be opportunities for interveners in this situation and to have, not a totally unrestricted access, but there ought to be a way for groups such as the Human Rights Association to participate. Or perhaps in a particular instance the Canadian Mental Health Association may have a particular interest in a complaint because of the particular characteristics of the complainant. It may be a client of their services and they may have a particular interest in a complaint involving a person who is mentally handicapped or has special needs for particular services, Mr. Speaker. There may well be circumstances where the Canadian Mental Health Association may be interested in a complaint or any other group that has a particular interest in the treatment of an individual who is a member of a group for which they have a special interest. I think that should be broadened to make sure that it is clear.

I see the Minister of Justice writing notes here so I hope he is making note of that Section 30, Subsection 1 (e). That should be a person or a group who has a substantial or perhaps special interest because it might not be a substantial interest in law, but the Canadian Mental Health Association, maybe an unincorporated body having an interest in a particular complaint because it may involve a member of a group for which they have a particular interest. They may wish to be involved and participate in a hearing involving issues related to a person who has a mental disability. That should be broadened and not be allowed to be treated narrowly.

I ask the minister to have a closer look at Section 26. Section 26 talks about parties, who the other parties are. It is not quite clear who is involved in settlement under Subsection 21 (3): following an investigation the commissioner with the consent of the parties may effect a settlement to the complaint. Are these the same parties that are spelled out in Section 30? It is not clear, Mr. Speaker, whether the chief of police has a say in all of that, the third parties, or just the commissioner, or just the complainant. Who are all these parties that may have to have all parties approving a settlement under Section 26(6)? That is something that needs to be looked at because there is a definition of parties in one section and a reference to all parties in another section, but they may not be the same parties, so they should have a look at that particular section as well, Mr. Speaker.

I have a concern as well that Section 25 requires the commissioner to dismiss the complaint if there is a settlement. Now, if you look at Section 25 the chief conducts an investigation, the chief or deputy chief shall consider the complainant and he or she may settle the matter. So the chief or the deputy chief can settle the matter and dismiss the complaint. Now, if he settles the matter he has to dismiss the complaint. Mr. Speaker, the complaint may well be founded and the complainant may be satisfied with an apology. Should that require the complaint to be dismissed because it is settled? It may well be settled but why should that involve dismissing the complaint, if the complaint is settled in an amiable manner it can still be registered as a complaint. It may not require discipline but it may well be a proper settlement and it may be a well founded complaint but it can be settled by a simple apology of the police officer involved. In many cases complainants about how they are treated by the government or by bureaucracy, or by police officers are more than satisfied to have their complaint acknowledged as legitimate and having an apology from the police officer can well satisfy an individual. Often, Mr. Speaker, these are not serious complaints, they may well be simple complaints not requiring discipline, not requiring a heavy duty investigation but ones that are founded and that do not require the complaint to be dismissed. If I complained, Mr. Speaker, about the actions of a police officer and I got a written apology from the police officer, I do not want the police commission to be going around saying that: Harris' complaint was dismissed. It was dismissed when I settled it by getting an apology from the police officer, but Section 25, requires the chief to dismiss the complaint.

If the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, being the gentleman that he is, made a complaint about a police officer and accepted an apology as an honourable settlement to the complaint, he would not want - the chief goes: oh yeah, he complained but we dismissed that complaint. I invite the minister to have a look at the Bill, Section 25 (1) says: Following an investigation under Section 24, the chief or deputy chief shall consider the complaint and he may, with the agreement of the parties settle the matter, and dismiss the complaint.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes. and dismiss the complaint; or discipline the officer. Now, the Minister of Industry, Trades and Technology, may not want the officer disciplined. He may say all I want is an apology from Constable Jones, all I want is an apology and I will settle on that, but I do not want the complaint dismissed, I do not want the chief to go and say: oh yes, we dismissed that complaint.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: So the operative words are 'with the agreement of the complainant,' yes, of course, of course.

MR. FUREY: It cannot happen without (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: So what the minister is saying is that if he is satisfied with an apology. But he does not want the complaint dismissed, he has to go to an adjudication; he has to have a hearing; he has to spent thousands of dollars of public funds to go to a hearing, so that he does not have his complaint dismissed, when he has just acknowledged that it is a valid complaint, the police officer has agreed to make an apology and yet, the complaint must be dismissed if there is an apology. In fact, Mr. Speaker, that would be an acknowledgement that there was some basis for the complaint by offering an apology.

Mr. Speaker, it is a simple change, it is very easy to change it but I ask the hon. member to speak to the Minister of Justice when he returns to his seat and tell him to have a look at it. There are quite a few difficulties with this legislation. Treating the legislation and the complaint procedure as if it were the same as a civil proceeding before the courts, Mr. Speaker, is not fair to the complainants, it is not really fair to the police officers.

If the purpose of this legislation is to provide an avenue for public complaints about the actions of people to whom we give a considerable amount of power, why should the citizen have to pay the costs, and indeed, why should the police officer have to pay the cost? Why should the police office have to pay the cost, Mr. Speaker, police officers acting in the course of his or her duties, required to exercise discretion sometimes in very dangerous situations, why should the police officer - and I ask the Minister of Justice to listen to this - why should the police officer have to pay for the operation of a public complaints procedure that is meeting the public interest? Why should the police officer have to pay, even if they may have gone over the line and have a well-founded complaint?

This is a public complaints procedure designed to meet the public interest. It ought not to be regarded as an adversarial system -


MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the protection of the Chair. It seems that the hon. members are determined to cause enough noise so that I cannot be heard.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It was getting rather noisy here and when an hon. member asks for the attention of his hon. colleagues, it is always forthcoming. I will ask the hon. member to continue.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I wanted the Minister of Justice to hear my remarks, and other hon. members were making so much noise that I am sure he would not have been able to hear my remarks even if he was paying attention.

I say once again, this whole Clause 33 really ought to be looked at with a view to turfing out those parts of it that have to do with cost. This is a public procedure intended to give rise to the ability of members of the public to make a complaint when they feel that their rights have been infringed upon, and it should be a user friendly system - not the kind of adversarial system that the Minister of Justice is used to in the practice of law, or that I may be used to as well.

This is not a civil procedure here where the loser pays the costs of the winner. This is not a high stakes game involving winners and losers. This should be a public complaints procedure. Why should the loser have to pay? Why should the police officer have to reach into his or her pocket and pay for an investigation because he or she may have stepped over the bounds of action when he may even be complying with police procedure? He may even be complying with police procedure but be found to be acting in a manner that is deserving of change, and have a founded complaint.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to give the floor to the Member for Port de Grave, but he persists in interfering and interrupting my speech. I wonder if you could ask him to be quiet?

MR. SPEAKER: Well the hon. member again has asked for order. I repeat again that when an hon. member asks for order, asks for silence, it is always given.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say seriously that in dealing with a public complaints procedure which is designed, or should be designed, to provide a level of public confidence in the administration and the actions of the police, that it should not be an adversarial type system where the loser must pay the cost of the winner, whether it be a police officer or a chief of police or a public citizen.

That would be like asking the Member for Port de Grave to pay the cost of the Public Service Commission in investigating his behaviour that he conducted in carrying out his public duties. In carrying out his public duties, his behaviour was investigated, and that was only right and just that it was. Should you then turn around and ask the Member for Port de Grave to reach into his pocket and pay the cost of the judge sitting for six months to hear all the evidence, to pay the cost of the commission? I do not think it is right, Mr. Speaker. I do not think it is right that he be asked to pay that.

Neither do I think it is right that a police officer acting in the carrying out of his duties, who may do something that is questioned by a citizen, and rightfully so, why should he or she have to reach into their pockets and pay the cost of the commission and pay the cost of investigation? This is a public body designed to protect public confidence in the administration of justice. So the whole of Section 33 that deals with this, I ask the Minister of Justice to have a look at it. I do not think it is appropriate, and I do not say that to criticize the Minister of Justice. I say that out of a public concern that this process should be able to work -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I invite all members to read the Bill. It might be a useful, novel experience for some members. I would encourage them all to read the Bill, but under Section - I know the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has a great interest in the police force, and I acknowledge that, but I encourage him to read Section 33, because Section 33, starting at Page 19 and 20, says - on the top of Page 20, Section 33.(1) (d): That the police officer who was the subject of the complaint pay the reasonable costs incurred by the constabulary in an investigation and discipline of that police officer by the chief; and (e): That the police officer who was the subject of the complaint pay the reasonable costs incurred by the commission in conducting an investigation or hearing.

Now it is not automatic. It is not every time, but the adjudicator has the right to make that order that the police officer do that. Well I do not think that is right. I say that with respect to the Minister of Justice. I do not think that is right. I think that if a police officer is acting in the course of his duty and he steps over the line and it becomes a subject of a complaint, that they go through the adjudication process, and yes, he should be properly disciplined, if need be, or the procedure should be changed if it is wrong, but why should the police officer have to reach into his or her pocket and pay the cost of a commission, pay the cost of hearing rooms, pay the cost of investigation, do all of that. It is not right, Mr. Speaker. I think hon. members should have a look at that and reconsider their unquestioned support for this legislation. We want a system that gives citizens easy access to it without endangering their bank book, Mr. Speaker. We want to have a system that is as open as possible and doesn't put the police officer on the line for having to pay the cost.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Development is right, that is the way the courts operate. And there are situations where it is wrong, and this is one of them. It is wrong for ordinary citizens bringing out a lay person's complaint to a supposedly lay commission that can hear their complaint, and hear them out, and be required to pay the cost. A case before the courts is a different matter, Mr. Speaker. If somebody has a (inaudible), if somebody is trying to fight over land and they are forcing somebody else to go to court and potentially lose their land, the court system has been developed over centuries to deal with that. This has nothing to do with the court, Mr. Speaker. This has attempted to be a user-friendly system, a citizen-friendly system.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It says 'may'. We all know what the word 'may' is - 'the adjudicator may'; they may do all of those things there. And there are no guidelines as to when the adjudicator will or when the adjudicator won't. What happens if the adjudicator says, Well, this is like a court'? - like the Minister of Justice. Maybe he doesn't know. Well, this is like a court, the loser pays - you lost and you pay.

I am saying, Mr. Speaker, that this public complaints commission is set up to protect the public interest and the public should pay, just as the public paid the cost of investigating the behaviour of the Member for Port de Grave, and so they should have.

So, Mr. Speaker, I don't see this as an adversarial system like one individual suing another in the courts. I see it as a public access initiative to allow the public, without fear of losing their shirts, Mr. Speaker, to be able to go and say: I, as a citizen, do not think that I was treated right by the police officer. That is all; and if they are told that they are wrong, well, then, they are wrong. Over the course of time, they will develop a public sense of what the boundaries are and what they are not, and we will not have these complaints; but why should we have a financial chill over it before it even starts and say: Oh, beware, beware of going to the police complaints commission because the adjudicator 'may' - and I don't know when - but the adjudicator 'may' make you pay the cost. That, Mr. Speaker, is going to be a black cloud hanging over any citizen who wants to make a complaint, and I think that the government should give very, very serious consideration to wiping out those sections of the act that allow that.

Now, if - and maybe the minister is thinking about it now, maybe he is, and if he is thinking about it, maybe he should change it and instead of saying 'may', restrict very narrowly the circumstances in which it can be done. But if somebody is flagrantly abusing the system, if somebody is flagrantly abusing the police complaint commission -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Perhaps, perhaps, but put that in the act. Don't let the citizen who is complaining in good faith be exposed to the possibility of having to pay exorbitant costs because they made a complaint.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of approach that should be taken here. There are serious, serious flaws with this legislation. I supported wholeheartedly, the amendment proposed by the Member for Humber East. It was an appropriate amendment and a very valuable one, because this bill needs a major overhaul, Mr. Speaker, before it can be considered by this House. It is an overhaul that it could have had, if the minister had made his proposal available to the public six months ago and allowed the public to have some input into it. But since he and his government have chosen to bring this in at the eleventh hour saying it has to be passed by the twelfth hour, then the only choice, Mr. Speaker, is to vote against it or to move that the matter to be considered again in six months time. Those are the only choices available to this House, Mr. Speaker, to vote against it or to ask that it be reconsidered.

If I had the proper wording of a motion for a six-month hoist, Mr. Speaker, I would make such a motion. Given the fact that government has refused to send the matter to a committee, then I think an appropriate motion here, and I move - I don't know if I have a seconder -

MS. VERGE: I second the motion.

MR. HARRIS: I see I have a seconder in the Member for Humber East.

- I move that the motion be amended by deleting all the words after 'that' and substitute the following, THEREFORE: that Bill 56, An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the amendment cannot be seconded by the hon. lady because she spoke in the debate. Somebody else may second it, of course, if they wish.

MR. SPEAKER: To that, the hon. the Government House Leader is correct. The hon. the Member for Humber East is not permitted to second this motion. With no other seconders, then the Chair has to declare that the amendment is not in order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I still have some time left.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I don't think so. The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

If the minister speaks now he closes the debate.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman wishes to speak, I will yield, of course.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I just want to have a few minutes to speak on Bill 56. The explanatory notes suggest that the purpose of the bill is to revise and consolidate the law respecting the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and to establish a public complaints commission to deal with police officer misconduct against the general public. One, reading that, would assume that it is there for the protection of ordinary people out and about the Province, ordinary citizens of the Province, against an overbearing police force.

Mr. Speaker, one could assume that, but this bill has two purposes, I believe. One is to protect the rights and privileges enjoyed by ordinary people out and about being policed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, but the other, just as important, is to protect the integrity of the police officers and the police force. We must always remember that that is what this bill is supposed to be doing, and it is very important that the integrity and the respect of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is protected. I can remember when the announcement was made several years ago that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was going to be expanded -

MR. MATTHEWS: Disbanded.

MR. A. SNOW: No, expanded.

MR. MATTHEWS: Joey was going to disband it.

MR. A. SNOW: I can't remember when Joey was going to disband it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) strike (inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, after having my memory jogged I can also remember when it was going to be disbanded. I believe it had something to do with labour problems that were being experienced at the time, and there was a suggestion that it might be disbanded.

More recently, I can remember when the expansion of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary was announced. They were going to have an attachment in Labrador and they were going to be policing the towns of Labrador City and Wabush.

I must say that at the time, after careful consideration - I was involved in the municipal government in Labrador City at the time. I was one of the few people in the beginning that openly was in support of the idea of having the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary coming into Labrador City and policing Labrador City and Wabush rather than having the RCMP there. It was not because the RCMP were doing a poor job of policing in Labrador City and Wabush. That wasn't the reason. I believed that it is the responsibility and a right of a people to be able to police themselves with their peers. When we entered Confederation, we probably didn't have available, people trained or willing to enter the police force, that could administer the duties of a police force throughout the Province.

But I think we had come of age to do it then and we can undoubtedly continue the expansion of the police force to be out in more communities than they are presently, Mr. Speaker. And yes, there were a lot of people in our communities who were opposed to it. They did not feel that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were up to the standards that we had always had in Western Labrador with regard to policing. I think today, generally speaking, in Labrador City, most people, the vast majority, would say that it has been a good move, not because the RCMP did a poor job, but, Mr. Speaker, because of the respect that the RNC has earned in Labrador City and Wabush in the delivery of policing in our area.

Mr. Speaker, the other side of that - the Premier suggested that maybe there was a criticism of the RNC. This is not a criticism of the RNC, it is for their protection, because their integrity must always be protected. A police force must always be protected, otherwise, they will lose the respect of the general public, and it is important that they have that respect which, as I have suggested, they do have in this Province and especially in my area. Nobody has ever suggested, that I am aware of, here in this House, that they don't have the respect of the general public.

Now, the other side of this, of course, is that the ordinary citizen in this Province must have access if he or she feels that there has been an injustice done to her. Now, previous to this government being elected an individual could have gone to an Ombudsman. This particular government decided to do away with the Ombudsman. Some people suggest the reason why it was done away with was that it was an attempt to get rid of an individual.

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: The former Minister of Finance, now the Minister of Health, suggests: Yes, it is time for a Tory to be thrown out, and he is verifying that this is what it was, we threw out the baby with the bath water, so to speak. And he laughs and chuckles because he got rid of another Tory, he suggests, but that is what this individual thinks about people's rights. That is what this minister thinks and considers about people's freedoms, Mr. Speaker, he forgets all about that. And that is what this bill does not address completely, and what it must be addressing is to give the ability for an ordinary citizen, not somebody as well educated as the Minister of Health, not somebody as well financed as the Minister of Health, he doesn't need the worry about - he will not be intimidated by the cost that this could incur, but an ordinary citizen could be intimidated by this but he would not, not making $120,000 a year, plus pensions, plus dividends from trust companies or wherever he has all his investments, he would not be intimidated by those costs, but an ordinary citizen would be intimidated. He would be intimidated by the process that one would have to follow, he is also intimidated by the cost and, of course, the police officer, himself, that the complaint was lodged against, he, too, has to be concerned about this particular bill, because he may have to incur the cost of an investigation.

Mr. Speaker, as the Premier suggested, we have to be always concerned about how much government is costing, how much processes cost. One of the reasons that he suggested that we could not have any public consultation was the high cost. If the government cannot afford the cost of consultation with the people, if the government cannot incur the cost of public consultation with regard to this particular - any legislation, but one that really tramples on the rights of individuals, then who should be - should we not be concerned about ordinary people? That is what this bill infringes upon, Mr. Speaker.

We should be more cognizant of how much we are going to - I believe, by passing this bill, first of all we should access more consultation with people. We have done without this for a couple of years - several years - since you have done away with the Ombudsman. Before this you had the Ombudsman, so the last two-and-a-half or three years we have done without it. It is not something that has to be rammed down everybody's throats today. We should allow more opportunity for consultation.

Is it wrong to be able to listen to what the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian has to say about this? Would that be wrong? Would it be wrong to listen to what the police association has to say about it? No, I don't think it would be wrong. I think it would be the correct thing to do. I think that if we stopped and looked at it, I would be willing to bet that there would be several changes in this bill before the next two years - several changes - because there are a lot of mistakes in it. There are a lot of mistakes in this bill.

The people opposite don't think there are any mistakes in it. That has been one of the tenets of their administration. We have never made a mistake, and blame somebody else, those are the two basic iron-clad rules of this administration - two. We never make a mistake, and it is always somebody else's fault. Those are the two rules written in stone - in marble up in the Cabinet room, I hear. It is written in marble. It cost $100,000 - I hear. Number one rule, say after me - there is only one person allowed to speak in the Cabinet, I hear.

MS. VERGE: Two, now.

MR. A. SNOW: Two. It used to be one. Now there are two voices. They have a duet now.

Mr. Speaker, the first rule, of course, is that we make no mistakes - never admit to a mistake. The second rule is blame somebody else. We are going to see, I think, in two or three years, we will be back several times discussing this in the House.

That is why I think it should go out, and seek more public consultation. I think it would certainly help to have more consultation with people, because when people understand this particular piece of legislation, they will undoubtedly be voicing their opinions about it.

When the force that this is affecting, when they finally get through this and see what it is doing to them, and being perceived what it is doing with the police force, I think they will be registering a lot of complaints.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I will not be able to support this particular bill.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I shall be very brief because when we finish this we are going to tackle three more bills and then go home. The quicker the better.

I would like to thank the hon. gentleman from Menihek for his compliments to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. They were well taken and on their behalf I acknowledge them.

I want to say that I am grateful to Dr. Boswell and Mr. Singh because without them there would have been no substance at all, intellectual or otherwise, to anything said by anybody opposite. But they did raise some points that I -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I suspect Dr. Boswell got his information in a different manner than the hon. lady. He got it from reading the Bill and the hon. lady obviously hadn't. Now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. lady may or may not have given anything to Dr. Boswell, I don't know that. I know where he got the information, which is from the Bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) press release.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I read the hon. lady's press releases it'll be more than she's done or anybody else. Now, I want to deal with some points made by Mr. Singh this morning, because I think they are of substance and should be answered.

He suggested a large commission of three persons. The Premier has answered that in our behalf. I don't need to repeat it. He suggested that adjudicative tribunals be made up of three people. We have two reasons to reject that. The first is that his suggestion was that there would be one from each side, and then a sort of neutral chair. This is not an arbitration or a conciliation. This is a matter of an adjudicative tribunal, much like a court, and with very substantial powers. That's one reason why there should only be one person. The second is, to repeat it, it only triples the cost for no gain, and we're not prepared to do that.

He made a point about timely replies by the chief when a complaint is laid. I think there's merit in that. Indeed, I asked my officials this morning to have a look at exactly what kinds of words might be needed to ensure that the chief, when a complaint is filed by a member of the public, makes a timely response to that individual.

He made a point about independence. The Premier has already addressed that, but let me be quite clear. We acknowledge that the success or failure of this new venture will be determined in large measure by the independence of the commissioner. The commissioner must be not only independent, but must be perceived to be independent, must be a person of stature. Again, the Premier addressed it. Again I don't need to repeat what he said.

The issue of limitation periods.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Gordon Seabright would be a better appointment than the gentleman who was nominated, over the opposition protests, to be the ombudsman. The hon. lady and hon. gentlemen opposite should never be heard to complain about political patronage when you look - the ombudsman came in. They're now down kissing the ground on which the ombudsman trod.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I believe even yourself would recommend - I know when I was in the House of Assembly, the reappointment of the former ombudsman who we had in this Province was passed by the House of the time unanimously. I don't know which opposition at the time objected to it but I know that Your Honour himself, the Minister of Fisheries, and the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture spoke in favour of the reappointment of that ombudsman. So I just raise that point of order to correct a misstatement that the minister made.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is not on a point of order. He's just making a speech about a certain matter.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it's a better speech than most of those he makes. Let me say that in 1975 when the Tories rammed the ombudsman through the House - and I got out the Hansards - the opposition objected. We could talk about such eminent statesmen going to semi-judicial boards as Mr. William Dickson, late of Baie Verte, another fine patronage appointment.

I could go on and on, but in mercy to them I won't go on, any more than I won't suggest that the Premier go immediately to Government House. Take the most recent poll results. Which one of the following individuals would you most prefer as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador?... None of the above - four; Len Simms - eight. Eight! Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but eight. Eight! Don't know - twenty-five. There were three "don't knows" for every one for Len. Clyde Wells - sixty-two. Eight to one.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: How about: how satisfied are you with the overall - this was taken on November 14. The hon. gentlemen should be grateful that because we're into the Yuletide season and filled as we are with the milk of human kindness we're not on our way to Government House. Because he'd be one more unemployed, and given what the Tories have done in Ottawa he won't even get his stamps!

How satisfied are you with the overall performance of the provincial government led by Premier Wells? Very satisfied - eighteen; somewhat satisfied - fifty-three. That is 71 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Now. Do not know - four; neither - four; very dissatisfied - seven; somewhat dissatisfied - sixteen. I must say that is more than the Tories got.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the NDP?

MR. ROBERTS: The NDP do not even feature.

MR. MATTHEWS: I would be surprised if he got that rating from his own caucus and you know it.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman for Grand Bank is confusing his caucus with ours. We all know that the hon. gentleman for Grand Bank, now let it be known, is calling individuals around the Province - four of them have spoken to me - saying: would you like to run for the Tories? And the individuals answered: I may be stupid but I am not that stupid. The answer is, well, we know we are not going to win the next election but you will be well positioned to take over from Len when we dump him. Now, that is what the hon. gentleman is saying. The hon. gentleman for Grand Bank is saying that to people.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I cannot let the Government House Leader get away with those inaccuracies, those falsehoods. I struck a nerve with the Government House Leader because there is a very, very serious situation going on in the back benches opposite. I am serious, the Premier would not get close to that rating from his own members, I say to the Government House Leader, quite sincerely.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order and I ask the hon. minister to please get to the Bill.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am talking about public complaints. That is what this Bill is all about, the public complaints about the Tory Party. I am sorry, I am so easily lead astray.


MR. ROBERTS: Oh, here he is. Muffy, puffy. Shall I go through it? He is muffy, he is puffy, he is stuffy, he is fluffy, he is tuffy, he is huffy, and he is ruffy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: I wonder if it is possible for Your Honour to provide an act of charity and ask the gentleman to sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Singh made a point and I think my friend for St. John's East made it, about limitation periods. Let me say to him two things. First of all we have given a lot of thought to this issue of how long one should have to lay a complaint, and we have decided that three months is a reasonable time given the circumstances. But let me also remind the hon. gentleman, and I know he will agree with this, that as a matter of law the law has now come to the point - and if we can ever get through some of these matters we will have a look at the Limitations Act and address it dead-on - but as a matter of law limitation periods now do not begin to run until the person can reasonably have had notice of the offence complained of. The most obvious ones are sexual offenses involving children.

MR. TOBIN: Rubbish.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman may think sexual offenses involving children are rubbish but I do not, I take them very seriously.


MR. ROBERTS: I do not think there is any need to spell out the law but I say to my hon. friend that I will ask the Legislative Council to take note of the point, if in fact he would be kind enough in the morning to do me the favour to call Mr. Lake and ask him. If it is necessary we will do it because I have no desire to foreclose - (inaudible) but once you have notice of the basis for a complaint three months is long enough to make up your mind and get your act in gear. That is ninety days. It took God six days to make the world. Well, ninety days is time enough to fill out a complaint.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman also referred to some other sections. Let me deal with those very briefly. He talked about Section 30.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No. Nor was the hon. gentleman. Maybe he was, because there were formless things - somebody help me with Genesis - were there not formless things in the sea and God took them, and we have the hon. gentleman for Kilbride now. Mr. Speaker, Section 30(1)(e) of the Bill. My hon. friend made a question. He said: "a person who satisfies the adjudicator that he or she has a substantial interest in the complaint." "Person" is not confined to an individual. "Person" -

MR. HARRIS: An unincorporated body?

MR. ROBERTS: I'm not sure that we can give an unincorporated body status before the courts, period. But in that case an individual comes forward. I think the wording is such that the adjudicator would have authority to hear - the CMHA I believe is an incorporated body. I was associated with them for many years. It is incorporated. I believe the wording is broad enough that it would allow an adjudicator to allow any person who has a substantial interest in the complaint. We put it in, Mr. Speaker, specifically so that some person beyond the police officer and the complainant would be able to be heard if there was a substantial interest that could be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the adjudicator.

Section 26(6), my hon. friend spoke of the commissioner and asked who are the other parties. The reference in there is the "commissioner and all parties". The other parties would be: the chief, the complainant and the police officers who are the subject of the complaint. All three would have to concur before the commissioner would be able to settle it. That's spelled out in more detail throughout Section 26.

The matter of costs seemed to have exercised hon. members. Let me deal with it again. It is one of the powers given to the adjudicator and I can suggest that it's a proper power to give to an adjudicator. The circumstances in which an adjudicator may exercise it would be a matter that would develop over time, I suggest, with case law. I have no hesitation in saying that the power given to compensate a police officer if he or she is subjected to an unreasonable complaint, or the one to make the officer pay should there be sufficient cause against, that I think they are proper ones to give to the adjudicators. Need I remind the House that the adjudicators are subject to appeal. Appeals may be taken to the courts.

I want to say a word about committees. There's been a lot of noise about that, a lot of real, if I may, nonsense. Nonsense in the true sense of that word, meaning no sense. Unlike hon. members opposite I took the trouble, thanks to the kindness of the Clerk, to look up the arrangement by which these legislative review committees were struck. Hansard, for June 30, 1989, shortly after this administration took office in our first term, set it out. It's quite clear from that there are no rules governing these committees. Now that may very well be a failing. But at that stage both my friend from Gander and my friend from Grand Falls, who was then House Leader for the Opposition, as opposed to Opposition Leader, spoke, and they made it quite clear they intended to revisit the matter. They didn't. For whatever reason, they had -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know what my hon. friend is holding up, but that's not the Standing Orders of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's the report on the Standing Committee (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, a report of a standing committee is a report of a standing committee. It is not the rules of the House. Now, let me say again that this Bill has not been rushed through this House. It has been dealt with in a normal way. If the Committee wanted to deal with it they could have at any time. They're master of their own fate. The hon. lady, I will say, never once asked for a meeting of the Committee, or even spoke to the chair of the Committee, and asked: could we have a hearing?

I will say that to this day nobody has come to me - here we are on the point of giving it, I hope, second reading - nobody has come to me and said: we'd like to be heard. Now we're not going to hold up the business of the House, the legislative program of the government in this House, because the hon. lady thinks somebody may want to come forward. We're just not going to. That's not government, that's chaos, that's anarchy. We're not going to be part of it.

Finally let me say there are at least three amendments which I shall ask to bring forward, after consultation. The hon. lady and gentlemen are assuming we've had no consultation. They're wrong. I don't want to go into the details but people have come forward to me with suggestions, to my officials with suggestions, there have been a number of meetings. There are at least three we're going to make. There may be more. One is the timely response by the chief. I think that's a matter that we should address.

Secondly, we're going to ask the House in Committee to make some changes to Section 36, which is the matter of appeals from the adjudicators to the trial division. There is a flaw in the drafting and nobody had picked it up until it had been brought to our attention. We're going to try to address it.

Thirdly, I'm quite prepared to ask one of my colleagues to move an amendment that the commissioner will report directly to the House and may make a special report. The language we will use, will either be that of the Auditor General's Act or will be modeled on it with any necessary changes to make it quite clear that the commissioner will answer to the House, will report to the House, will have access to the House. I will go further, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to say that if the commissioner makes a report to the House, the government of the day will adopt it or deal with it, I cannot say that. I will say for this administration, we shall consider it, and that is unlike the one special report the ombudsman ever made in his whole career, when he came in and slammed the living daylights out of James Morgan, then the Member for Bonavista South, then the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who had crassly ignored, deliberately, crassly ignored the recommendations of the Public Service Commission, the hon. lady was in the Cabinet at the time, she was part of it.

They appointed somebody notwithstanding all the recommendations of the Public Service Commission, the ombudsman was so driven to distraction that for the only time in his fifteen years in office or however long he was there, he was driven to make a special report to the House, he did, and nothing happened. It was like somebody broke wind in a crowded elevator, everybody knew about it and nobody did anything about it! The government of the day ignored it. I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we will not ignore it if the commissioner is minded to make a report under the power which I hope the Committee will give him.

Mr. Speaker, one further comment. The hon. lady gave us her song and dance about advocacy groups. This is not a commission to deal with advocacy groups, it is not held out to be one and it should not be one. She got into it I think, by saying you could not make a complaint without the consent of the complainer. Well that seems to me like a pretty basic common sense provision. The hon. lady may want to make a complaint about some treatment meted out to my friend for Twillingate, the Minister of Fisheries, but if he does not consent, she cannot make the complaint about him, let her go and make the complaint in her own right. But, if a group wants to come forward, they may make a complaint with the consent of the complainer, the complainant, I guess is the term we use in the Bill and, Mr. Speaker, advocacy groups, who want to raise issues like that should come to the proper place, to the government, to the minister, to the Cabinet, to the officials because we answer to this House. We should and we do.

I would answer with a lot more enthusiasm if there was some intelligent, substantial criticism of these things, but I cannot help it because Mr. Boswell only did one column and Mr. Singh did one interview. If he had done more columns and more interviews, there would have been more substantial criticism but I am really disappointed. We have put a lot of time into this Bill, at Cabinet level, at the officials level with consultations, in it comes and we get these pathetic features by the hon. lady, and I am afraid I must say by the hon. gentleman; I had expected better of him. I had not expected better of her because in my short time in the House, I have realized that she is really, illegally speaking, a great, big false alarm. A great, big false alarm.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, the hour goes, puffy, stuffy - hold on now - puffy, muffy, stuffy, fluffy, tuffy, huffy, ruffy member, the pussy cat -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will not get into Mr. Wells, that is too tempting. Mr. Speaker, let me say that it is with a great deal of pleasure and a great deal of pride that I ask my friends on this side - and I invite the hon. lady and gentlemen Opposite, to join with us in giving this Bill second reading, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary," (Bill No. 56) read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, Order 30, Bill 57. The adjourned debate on the Leaseholds In St. John's Act. My friend for St. John's South, lo and behold, he is not here, he had to go to the hospital but he asked me to say that all he was going to say is, to thank members for hearing him and he is prepared to vote for the Bill, but we will now call it if we may, Sir.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to speak on this Bill, Mr. Speaker, it is an important piece of legislation, particularly for members in my district. But I have to say at the outset that I have a real conflict in this Bill, because I happen to be an owner of a leasehold premises, subject to this Bill. So having said that, it is a matter of public interest and I want to give hon. members some of my reasons for supporting this Bill, which has nothing to do with me, because the lease of which I speak does not expire until the year 2006, Mr. Speaker, so there is no real conflict here.

This particular Bill does not affect my personal property but it is a very important piece of legislation, the Leaseholds in St. John's Act, Mr. Speaker. The history of it as given by the Government House Leader, I do not think was quite correct. The legislation was brought in in the first instance, Mr. Speaker, by virtue of the efforts of the former Member for St. John's East and I give him full credit for that, Mr. Speaker, in the year 1977. At that time the residential core of the city was greatly deteriorated. One of the reasons for that, Mr. Speaker, is that leading up to the beginning of the seventies mortgage lenders were very reluctant and in fact refused to lend money on properties in the downtown area of St. John's because the leases were about to expire.

When I say about to expire, they were about to expire within twenty years. The Leaseholds in St. John's Act, Mr. Speaker, provided for the removal of some of the confusion associated with the duration of the leases. Many of the leases were in fact lost, many of them could not be located, many people had not paid any ground rent for a number of years and the ability, and there may have been an ability as the Government House Leader says, for certain individuals to buy out these leases.

The confusion over the factual circumstances, whether these leases were in arrears or whether they were not, all of these factors mitigated against people having a real right to buy them out, Mr. Speaker, and it was necessary to legislate that right through the Leaseholds in St. John's Act, the amendments that were brought in and substantially amended in 1977 through the efforts of the former Member for St. John's East. It was a controversial Bill at the time because the Opposition at the time were fighting on behalf of the landowners and said: you are taking away their right to property. But, Mr. Speaker, it was taking away one persons right to property, that generally speaking being the absentee landlords in England and elsewhere, and giving substantial real property rights to people who were living in these houses and who were paying their rent, or could not find the person to whom they were supposed to pay their rent and were therefore in arrears. Some of these rents may have been five dollars a year or ten dollars a year or twelve-fifty a year depending on the age of the lease. Mr. Speaker, this important piece of legislation allowed for a stability in the downtown area in particular and allowed for people to make the kind of improvements to their property that have been made over the last fifteen or twenty years to be made because they could either buy out those leases and be assured to be able to do that, and thereby be able to get the mortgage financing, or borrow the money necessary to be able to fix up their properties and make them safer, better places to live in, and also more valuable.

That was a significant factor leading to the revitalization or refurbishment of the downtown properties which I recall, before I went to law school in the mid-seventies, as being a very, very deteriorated place - many houses unfit for habitation. Since the mid-seventies most of these houses have been brought up to the national building code, a very strict building code, but they have been able to do that in part by virtue of the Leaseholds In St. John's Act.

There are a number of issues that are still outstanding with this act, and still very difficult in some cases if you have an unwilling or recalcitrant landlord who owns these properties, who wants to stand in the way of getting these properties transferred over. They can cause delay and expense - considerable expense in some cases.

I understand that the minister has a report indicating ways that those hurdles in the way of individuals getting these properties into their hands set out in the report and due for consideration. I understand it will take some time. It is a complex act, and it may require it. I ask the minister to make that report public, and perhaps he can provide hon. members with copies of that report so we can all study it and we do not have eleventh hour discussions on it.

MR. ROBERTS: I do not think everybody wants it, but any member who wants it, let me know and I will get you a copy, of course.

MR. HARRIS: I would be happy to have a look at it because I have had some experience trying to extract the freehold out of lawyers representing individuals - some of them in the United States, some of them in England - who are doing their utmost to make it very, very difficult.

The Member for St. John's Centre, the Minister of Health, knows, and he has probably had complaints from some of his constituents about the difficulties.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) you would have to do if you were representing (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes, that is right. The lawyers are acting for their clients, and if the law allows delays and obfuscation, there is no doubt they could find a lawyer to carry it out. So the law itself has to be changed, Mr. Speaker.

I think there also ought to be changes made to include the people in Airport Heights, and make them a part of the law, because as it stands right now the Leaseholds In St. John's Act only applies to the boundaries of the City of St. John's as they were in 1977. There is a whole area, what is known as Penetanguishene, Mr. Speaker, in the member for St. John's East Extern's district, where the land is held under leases that were established in the 1940s, Mr. Speaker. There are only one or two companies involved, but a lot of the land out there is held under these long-term leases, Mr. Speaker, and there is a problem there that has to be addressed.

The former Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs may well be familiar with it, because there were representations made to him. I know there were representations made to me about the Penetanguishene/Airport Heights area, Mr. Speaker. Because The Leaseholds In St. John's Act only apply to the boundaries as they existed in 1977, they are not covered by this act. So I would like to see a commitment from government to help these people in Penetanguishene to be able to also buy out the freehold and have the same rights to the use of the land that they built houses on, Mr. Speaker, or paid the market value for houses on, but don't own the land on which they sit.

Now, some of these leases are due to expire this year, Mr. Speaker, by December 31, 1992, and if this legislation is not passed that would mean that a person who bought a house, Mr. Speaker, and paid $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 or $80,000 for it would not own the land underneath that house, and, in fact, the house would revert to the landowner by December 31 of this year. So it is very important that this legislation be passed and be passed immediately.

I don't want to take up the time of the House and delay this Bill, but I did want to make these important points and ask that the minister give some commitment to hon. members that this legislation will be brought in in the near future that will resolve this problem for the Airport Heights folks and others who might be affected by this, who weren't inside the city in 1977 when the legislation was brought in. Would he also commit himself to providing a simple procedure, such that, without a lot of rigamarole, the Registrar of the Supreme Court could take the sum of forty times the ground rent, give a deed, Mr. Speaker, and let the landlords or whoever the representatives are - they may only have one thirty-second interest or one sixty-fourth interest. It may be some heiress over in the British Isles or it may be some person of the 15th Generation of landlords down in the United States. Let them go to the Registrar of the Supreme Court and get their one forty-fifth or their one sixty-fourth or their sixty-two, ten sixty-six which I saw in one case of their interest.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) who had two thousand and forty-eight separate interests.

MR. HARRIS: Two thousand and forty-eight separate interests. Mr. Speaker, the poor individual or, in some cases, the widow who -

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. member would sit down, we could (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Are you speaking about the absence of the member for Humber East?


MR. HARRIS: So, Mr. Speaker, it is an important piece of legislation and I would like to see the government commit itself to an early review of the report. I would like to see it myself, because I may have some suggestions for the minister on that. Let's see if we can clear this up, certainly before 1994, Mr. Speaker, when this bill extends the date of existing leases, too. I commend the Minister of Justice for bringing this in and having it brought in a timely way to the House. I would ask all hon. members to support this at second reading. I would be even willing to give this matter third reading immediately. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words on this piece of legislation. First of all I am very suspicious of anything that comes in under the name of the hon. the Minister of Justice. I guess we all have good reason for that suspicion when you consider that he is involved in the biggest conflict of interest this House has ever known.

MR. ROBERTS: I am only going out to call my wife and tell her to hold dinner. I will be back.

MR. TOBIN: Okay. A lot of cabbage patches do that.

MR. WINSOR: There are a lot of people on this side who hope he doesn't come back.

MR. TOBIN: The hon. the Minister of Justice is gone out to make sure that his dinner is warmed over. I won't say what is in my mind.

Anyway, I support this piece of legislation, basically.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I think it is a decent piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: - that needs to be done. I think the Member for St. John's East did a good job in explaining it to the House much more clearly than the Minister of Justice did when he introduced it. My colleague from Kilbride has spoken on it, and the Member for Humber East has explained it and done a good job, as well.

Mr. Speaker, there are other areas of the Province - and I only wish the Minister of Justice were here, because I do have some similar concerns in my own constituency. I wanted to raise them and I wish the Minister of Justice had stuck around, since he appears to be the minister responsible for it.

I know he is only gone out to make sure that his dinner is prepared for him when he gets home and he can sit and put up his feet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: He has gone out to see if his cheque arrived. Mr. Speaker, which cheque is it? Is it his cheque as the Minister of Justice, is it his cheque as the MHA, or is it his $10,000 - he's back.

I say to the Minister of Justice, I wished you had stayed, because I wanted to raise some points. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs said you were gone out to see if your cheque had arrived. I was trying to determine which cheque, whether it was your minister's cheque, your MHA's cheque, or if it was your conflict of interest cheque.

MR. ROBERTS: Eat your heart out.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A package from Halley, Hunt, look - he has had a package from Halley, Hunt.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, that's right. We refer to the Crosbie package. There are 21,000 Newfoundlanders on the Crosbie package, and the Minister of Justice is now on the Halley Hunt package.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to make reference to this bill. As I said to the Minister of Justice, I support the piece of legislation. I certainly hope - because I have heard this discussed in the House of Assembly before. But I have a similar situation in my own district, and the Minister of Justice will be more familiar with this than anyone.

AN HON. MEMBER: Leaseholders (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, no, not leaseholders, I just wanted to raise it under this heading - and that is the infamous resettlement program - which the Minister of Justice would know a lot about, when they forced the people from Placentia Bay. There was one community, namely,Port Elizabeth, and they all resettled to one place - Red Harbour. It was a community that moved together, I say to the Minister of Justice, and took up residence in the place that had no livyers as such, but started their own community.

When that happened, government gave them the land. They paid the cost of moving, whatever the case may be, but the residents of Red Harbour now find themselves in a situation where they do not own the land. It is still Crown land.

AN HON. MEMBER: In the new place?

MR. TOBIN: In the new place where they went. The government gave them the land but there were no surveys done on it. There was no title to the land or anything else. So what is happening is that after they moved in and settled and now when the young people are beginning to set up residence and build homes on their fathers' land, they find they do not own the land and they cannot get permission to build homes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Red Harbour. It has developed into a very serious situation. What has happened now is that people want to build homes in Red Harbour and they don't own the land.

The older people who moved back those years ago have the land and they are saying: Well, the land was given to us. They are not in a situation right now to go out and get surveyors in and survey land that was already given to them.

I would like to ask the Minister of Justice if he would take my concerns on behalf of the people of Red Harbour more seriously than the Member for Port de Grave is taking them, and if there is something that can be done, because it is a really difficult situation.

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is here as well, and I hope he is listening. I don't know what can be done. One time we had a discussion. I met with the council, and I just met with them again recently when the matter was raised. Probably, if some sort of system could be struck, I say to the Minister of Justice and to the Minister of Education -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, the Minister of Education might know what I am thinking of, that probably the surveying class at Cabot or some place could go out, as part of their program, and do a survey of the land and give title, because the land was given legitimately, and I am sure it was meant to become the land of the people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Who did the survey?

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't know (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible). And I say to the Minister of Education, this was supposed to be done during the resettlement program, as well. It was supposed to be done but something happened that it was never done. But right now we have - no, I say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs that I am very serious about this. That there is a very difficult situation right now in Red Harbour in terms of the ownership of the properties. There is nobody down in Red Harbour that moved those houses, nobody, I do not think who has title to their property and it was given to them. So, that is the point I want to raise in supporting the piece of legislation, and I will ask the Minister of Justice, if he would address the concerns that I have raised as it relates to the resettlement of Port Elizabeth and the community of Red Harbour.

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

If he speaks now we will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: I should think everybody would welcome that, Mr. Speaker. Let me just make one or two comments in response to points made. I say to my friend from Burin - Placentia West, the ruffy, huffy, tuffy, fluffy, stuffy, muffy, puffy, pussycat, that I would be delighted to look at the Red Harbour situation. I have not heard of it before this. If he has been in touch with any member of the ministry, they did not raise it with me and I suspect from the way he is nodding his head, that he has not been in touch with any member of the ministry. Let me say to him very simply, very straightforwardly, that if there was a problem I would be delighted to address it. We shall do the right and proper thing if he will come to see me or send me some information I will find out.

MR. TOBIN: You wouldn't trust him, boy!

MR. ROBERTS: Well, if he brings it to me, I am only one of the fifteen ministers, I will find out who it is but if it involves law it probably involves the Justice Department at the end of the day. But if he would come to see me sometime at his convenience, I will buy him a cup of coffee or even tea and, you know, tell me about it and I will see what can be done. I lived through the resettlement program and this is not the place to debate it. I remember when the people of Red Harbour moved and as I recollect they were so glad, that everyone voted liberal consistently thereafter. They certainly did, well they might have fallen from the error of their ways once but they voted for my friend the late Pat Canning, time and time again. Yes, Pat was a great man, a great liberal, a great Newfoundlander and a great member of this House. A great friend of mine, too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, he did, he did. They beat him once, elected a Tory, and they fell over themselves to elect him next time, they drove the tory candidate so far, he didn't even know where Fortune was and not only did he not know where Fortune was - in St. Pierre heading for Sydney.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry, my friend from St. Mary's - The Capes?

MR. HEARN: He was so frustrated that he joined the Liberals.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, you mean the gentleman to whom Pat beat. Anyway, I say to my friend from Burin - Placentia West, I would be delighted to look into this and if there is some problem we will address it. Well, wait until the House is adjourned, the way we are going now, never but anyway, I would be delighted to see him, and he knows me well enough to know that, notwithstanding his unwarranted, vicious, personal, low, scurrilous attack on me, I will address his question on the merits. I don't mind the pussycat at me. I know he is awfully concerned about money, Mr. Speaker, awfully concerned about what people earn in this life. I know he is not paid what he is worth.


MR. ROBERTS: My friend from Burin - Placentia West is not paid what he is worth. But I would say to him, there is a minimum wage law for which he should be grateful, if he gets that much anyway.

Mr. Speaker, to come back to my friend from -

MR. TOBIN: There is no maximum one for you.

MR. ROBERTS: I hope the only maximum, Sir, is what I can earn by the sweat of my brow and the strength of my broad back.

Mr. Speaker, let me say a word -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) don't pay my salary.

MR. ROBERTS: No, and they don't pay mine either, Mr. Speaker.

Let me say a word to my friend from St. John's East. His law is wrong when he thinks that Mr. Marshall, now Mr. Justice Marshall, the Court of Appeal, first brought in the leaseholds in The St. John's Act. That act goes back to the 1920s. The periods of extending it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well the principle goes back, in law, to the 1920s, the Law of Newfoundland or Newfoundland and Labrador, as it now is. I will gladly acknowledge that Bill Marshall took a very deep interest in this and that he brought some good legislation into the House. I acknowledge that quite readily and quite happily.

I do intend, Mr. Speaker, to address the problem. We have probably got to get the election out of the way first, but that will only be a four-week delay. Given the poll results, the other side probably won't even come. They might as well stay home and be like my friend from Kilbride and my friend from St. Mary's - The Capes, simply begin to collect their pensions without any more adieu. But I will address it.

Finally, let me say that if my friend would drop me a line or give me a ring, I will have a copy of that City of St. John's Report made available to him, and I would welcome his suggestions.

That said, Mr. Speaker, I move we read the Bill a second time and get on with it.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 57)

MR. ROBERTS: Order 26, Bill 54, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law." (Bill No. 54)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in moving second reading, let me say simply that unless there are some questions from hon. gentlemen - there is no hon. lady in the House at present, but from any hon. member - all I need to say with regard to this Bill is: (A) It comes in every year; and (B) All that need be said about it is said in the title, a Bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law."

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

MR. HARRIS: The question is concerning Clause No. 17 which is an amendment to The Status of Women Advisory Council Act and refers to The Public Service Pension Act. Can the minister explain what is going on there?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice. If the minister speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if any other member -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I hope they are.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I would love to hear what (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. minister speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. I assume no other member wants to speak.

Mr. Speaker, let me say simply that the note says really what I could say about it. My understanding is this has been done with the concurrence of the Status of Women Advisory Council. It is an administrative matter or else it would have been brought in as a substantive bill. It is simply to bring them within the pension plan in the appropriate way. Apparently, for whatever reason, they choose to use the title Executive Director instead of Director of Administration. That is a matter of no substance, but if it is of importance to have it done, we will do it.

That is all I can say to my hon. friend.

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: This will be the last one, Mr. Speaker, Order 24, which is Bill No. 50, The Residential Tenancies Act Amendment.

Motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Residential Tenancies Act." (Bill No. 50)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, again this Bill is a straightforward amendment that does not require a long speech. Notwithstanding the urgings of my friends on this side, I shall not make one. I have resisted them on it.

MR. DECKER: Oh, come on! Make a speech.

MR. ROBERTS: Be careful, Chris.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Resist! Resist!

MR. ROBERTS: They tell me to go on resisting, and I shall, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DECKER: More! More!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, this Bill is intended to address a problem that has come up in the administration of the residential tenancies scheme in this Province. The scheme itself is relatively long-standing and, as far as I know, works quite well. What happens is, if one begins a proceeding in the Trial Division of the Supreme Court, the court routinely refers that to the Residential Tenancies Board for a hearing and a report and to make recommendations. That is what happens. I didn't do any of these at the Bar when I was in practice, but I am told this happens routinely and fairly frequently.

All this Bill will do is provide that it is no longer necessary to have a judge make an order to refer the matter, that the Registrar of the Supreme Court shall immediately refer the matter to the appropriate board. That is the sole effect of the amendment. It is straightforward, it doesn't effect anybody's substantive rights, it simply move the process forward. The report comes back to the court and then it will be dealt with in the usual and appropriate way.

Mr. Speaker, I am told this will shorten the process by sometimes as much as three weeks or a month. It will hurt nobody, but it will help many. So, without anything more, I simply commend the Bill to the House and move it be read a second time.

MR. DECKER: More! More!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would support the legislation. The Residential Tenancies Act had to be amended several years ago to force the courts to deal with matters that the Residential Tenancies Board had dealt with before, because it was ruled unconstitutional, Mr. Speaker, after a number of appeals. The Supreme Court of Canada eventually ruled The Residential Tenancies Act of this Province and a number of provinces unconstitutional because they were doing things that the courts had to do. So some sort of procedure was developed to put this thing through the courts to make the decisions, but the Residential Tenancies Board to actually deal with the issues.

So it has resulted in a problem, Mr. Speaker, in that individuals - usually they don't use lawyers to do this - go to the courts and make their own motions and it is very cumbersome. This just allows the Registrar to do what the courts had to do before.

So I support it, Mr. Speaker. It is a very useful amendment. It will allow individuals, landlords or tenants greater access to the Residential Tenancies Board and less delay and less confusion, Mr. Speaker. It is worthy of support from this side of the House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Residential Tenancies Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 50)

AN HON. MEMBER: Give them some more, boy.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding the clamour from this side to carry on all night -


MR. ROBERTS: My friend from the Strait of Belle Isle would be here until Christmas Eve shouting more.


MR. ROBERTS: Do a couple of more?

MR. DECKER: Yes. Come on, boy.

MR. ROBERTS: If hon. gentlemen wish, I will, but my arrangement -


MR. ROBERTS: If hon. gentlemen wish, I will do more. I am in the hands of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Stick with the arrangement.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Want to do The Human Rights Act?

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, we made an agreement. There are members who have left and gone other places who would have been here to comment on some of the legislation. So I think it only fair that we call it a day. I think we have made fair progress.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation in acknowledging that I did make an agreement and, as always, I shall stick to that. If the House wanted to do more - my hon. friend's point is a fair one.

In moving that the House adjourn until nine in the morning, Mr. Speaker, let me thank all hon. members for their co-operation. Leaving aside a little rough going on The Police Act, we got through things, I think, very well. Anybody who wants to speak should feel free to speak. But if you don't need to speak, you don't need to speak, Mr. Speaker.

Tomorrow I shall ask that we deal with Order 29 which is Bill 58, in the name of my friend, the Minister of Mines and Energy; Order 25 which is Bill 53 in the name of my friend, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations; and Order 34, Bill 63 again in the name of my friend, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. If we get through those - and I don't propose to ask the House to sit beyond noon tomorrow - Mr. Speaker, we will go on with some of the finance bills.

MR. MATTHEWS: It is just that the member for Menihek is scheduled to be home tomorrow, and one of these bills he would respond to. I am just wondering if we could juggle something to allow him to do it Monday.

MR. ROBERTS: I am prepared to go on to Orders 19, 20 and 21, which are bills standing in the name of my friend, the Minister of Finance. He is in New York at present but either myself or my friend the minister will speak for him, and we will move forward Orders 19, 20 and 21.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. Those are bills 44, 43 and 45 respectively. They are finance bills but I will take them forward. I am quite happy to accommodate the hon. gentleman.

I was going to be in Labrador West myself on Monday and he was going to go, like John the Baptist, before. I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: What (inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: Order 29, Bill 58, the Mines Bill. If my friend would let me know which bill he doesn't want me to call, it will not be called tomorrow. We are the soul of reasonableness. We are prepared to consult and be guided all the time.

Mr. Speaker, I -

AN HON. MEMBER: How about shutting up and sitting down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Those on this side are saying, `You lost that one, Roberts,' and they are right.

Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn until nine in the morning.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at nine of the clock.