December 15, 1992            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLI  No. 85

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the hon. members of the House of Assembly, that my department in conjunction with my colleague the hon. Charles Furey, Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, have entered into an agreement with Helitactics Limited valued at $640,000.00, to purchase fire suppression equipment. Helitactics Limited is a Newfoundland company, which will manufacture this equipment at its plant in Bishop's Falls.

This contract, Mr. Speaker, is for the purchase of a "State of the Art" helicopter deployable fire suppression system. This system is expected to play a vital role in forest fire suppression situations in Newfoundland and Labrador. The technology is also suited for fighting fires in municipal or urban areas, which could indeed, be a substantial future market. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this technology may well have worldwide application.

This high tech equipment, has been developed by Helitactics Limited, a Newfoundland owned company. By purchasing this system, both levels of government are assisting in the establishment of this company in the North American marketplace. In addition, it will provide an opportunity for employment for an estimated fifteen Newfoundlanders at the start-up-stage of the project.

Mr. Speaker, Helitactics staff have drawn on the advice and technical assistance of fire suppression experts in my department over the past year or more in the development of this product. This initiative has paid off very well, Mr. Speaker, with the development of a unique new fire fighting technology and a new business for this Province.

As I previously stated, this initiative has been a joint effort by my department, the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and, Mr. Speaker, I might add was supported and co-ordinated by the Economic Recovery Commission, with funds being provided under the Strategic Investment and Industrial Development Co-operation Agreement.

I am confident, Mr. Speaker, that this agreement between government and Helitactics Limited of Bishop's Falls, will be beneficial not only to my department and the forest sector of this Province, but it will also introduce a new industry and new opportunities to all Newfoundlanders.

Thank you.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. We on this side can only say that we are pleased that a new technology has come about for the suppression of forest fires and that it is being developed and hopefully marketed on a world scale by a local company. That being the case, Mr. Speaker, there is not much else I can say. The statement indicates in several places that this is a new "State of the Art Technology" with export potential, etc., but there is very little information given as to the exact nature of this fire suppression equipment or the methodology used by the company concerned. Given the season of the year we are in, Mr. Speaker, it is probably not appropriate for me to be overly controversial on this particular matter so all I can say is I am pleased with the announcement of this system and obviously the details are not to be opened until Christmas.

Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I seek leave to respond to the Ministerial Statement made by the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

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


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to stand in the House of Assembly today to officially announce the completion of another initiative in the area of buildings accessibility. A short time ago the buildings accessibility regulations were completely revised and gazetted.

Based on recommendations from industry and the disabled community, we were able to provide these amendments in a manner which gives detailed guidance to private, small building contractors and individuals, as well as professional builders and developers.

During the development of these amendments one of our objectives was to take into account the need to express the requirements in simple, easy to understand language. Our commitment to effectively assist those who will use this legislation was utmost in the minds of departmental officials. The initiative I refer to, not only includes the writing of this document in clear language, but presents the information in a new 8 1/2" X 11" looseleaf format - encompassing the act, regulations, technical requirements and twenty-nine illustrations. I will table a copy for members perusal and encourage all members to do so.

Mr. Speaker, the document in its new format is effective in that related buildings accessibility information may be inserted as needed to make a more complete guide to accessibility. It is also the intent to update this document in the form of bulletins, where in the opinion of industry and government alike, an area is found to require further information and/or explanation.

Mr. Speaker, many times since I became Minister of the Department of Employment and Labour Relations, I have referenced our commitment to educating and making people aware of regulations and responsibilities relating to accessibility. As I have repeated many times, education and awareness in this area, as well as occupational health and safety, is a tool of preference, keeping in mind that the department, at times, is forced to use other means.

As an example of this and reinforcing this philosophy, early in the new year officials of the department will be conducting seminars across the Province to provide information to municipalities and other interested groups on the availability of the amended act and regulations and how it can benefit in the planning and construction of new and renovated facilities. In addition, the department has purchased a number of these bound documents which I present here today and will be distributing a certain quantity throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to different organizations in an effort to raise initial awareness of the document.

Mr. Speaker, the release of this document is an important event for the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador with physical disabilities. They should be aware that their right of access to public facilities is well recognized by government and the amendments we have made in this area will enhance buildings accessibility in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I ask the hon. members to join with officials of the department in informing the public of the availability of the document and raising awareness of public building accessibility in the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that the minister announces the release of a document informing contractors in the Province what kind of buildings they have to complete to be accessible for the handicapped when this government itself has a court house in Flowers Cove where we saw, last week on television, an individual having to get out of a wheelchair and propel himself up over the steps using his hands because it was not accessible, Mr. Speaker, all this does is announces that it is a document. Mr. Speaker, it is time for the government to put some action to it and to make all of its own buildings accessible, do not publish a document, make the buildings accessible, Mr. Speaker.

We saw last week the minister announce that this Province only could give $6,000 to the Consumer Association for the Disabled and the lowest other province was something in the range of $50,000. That is the kind of commitment we want for the disabled, Mr. Speaker. At the same time we welcome this, Mr. Speaker, and in fact last year the minister announced something somewhat similar where I think he was going to go throughout the Province making certain restaurants wheelchair accessible, Mr. Speaker, and I am pleased to note. I suggested to him, as a matter of fact, that they should put signs along the roadside indicating which restaurants are wheelchair accessible. I noticed this past month that, for the first time, a number of them are clearly visible. It was a good initiative that we, the Opposition, suggested to him and I am pleased that the minister took our advice and placed these signs.

That document doesn't do very much, Mr. Speaker, if we, the government, the largest user of public buildings in this Province, do not make our buildings accessible. It is no good to have regulations that affect the general population if the government do not accede to the same regulations that they have put in place.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: I ask leave to address the statement of the hon. minister.

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


AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does not have leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to Oral Questions, on behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public galleries today, nine students from John Christian Erharot School in Makkovik, Labrador, accompanied by their teacher, Debbie Sellars.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, some reports here lately, especially as of yesterday, suggest yet another example of rural Newfoundlanders being penalized. It appears that certain insurance companies in the Province have cancelled insurance or refused to renew insurance on the homes in Port au Choix, Port Saunders and Hawkes Bay, on the Great Northern Peninsula.

I would ask the Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs - I take it, the Minister of Justice - is he aware of the situation and is he looking into it? Does he intend to take any action to help the people of those communities maintain insurance coverage on their homes?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes, yes, and yes, within the limits of the powers available to us under the law; but the hon. gentleman will realize that insurance in this Province is still a matter of free enterprise and no, there is no way one can make a company sell a policy if it does not want to do so.

The answer is yes, yes, and yes with that caveat.

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Can the minister inform the House, since he has taken action on my first question, whether home owners in those particular communities - those three communities - will be able to renew their mortgages, or do they risk having existing mortgages cancelled? Has he checked into that?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, a small correction - the hon. gentleman did not ask me whether I had taken action, he asked me whether I would take action, and I answered yes to that. I became aware of this, as did the hon. gentleman, in yesterday's Telegram. That is the source of his information and that is what I know about it, too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I will say, nothing else has come to me. If the hon. gentleman has any information beyond what was in yesterday's Telegram I invite him to let me have it, because it may help to move the matter forward. But I am telling him what I know. I don't want to mislead him.

He asked about mortgages. Again, mortgage documents, in my understanding, generally contain covenants that the borrower - mortgagor or mortgagee, I never could keep it straight - anyway, the one who borrows and has to pay it back, the home owner.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

MS. VERGE: Poor mortgagor.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady knows more about mortgages than I do. Obviously, that is the kind of law she was in when she was at the Bar. It contains those covenants. If the covenants are not honoured then it is a matter for the lender to address. What I would say to him, Mr. Speaker, is if the government become aware that there is a problem and become aware that the law of the Province is inadequate, then we shall be back here asking the House to change the law. Or if there's something we can do by the exercise of our administrative powers, we will do that. The problem the hon. gentleman is raising is a very real one, and we shall address it on that basis.

To be very candid, what I know about this is what I have read in the newspapers. Two of my colleagues, the gentleman from St. Barbe and the gentleman from the Strait of Belle Isle, who represent these areas, have told me they have had several phone calls or messages in the last few days.

AN HON. MEMBER: They didn't return the calls.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is awfully hard to answer when people are being rude as well as unintelligible and unintelligent, but let me carry on. There has obviously been some -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Now we get more rudeness and even less intelligence.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Both of them are being very (inaudible) in returning their calls.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind hon. members their colleagues have asked a question. They have thirty minutes in which to get up on supplementaries and shouldn't be asking questions from their seats, to the extent that it interferes with the person who is doing the answering.

The hon. the Minister of Justice, continue, please.

MR. ROBERTS: What I will say is that we will look into it and we will take whatever action is appropriate. I would be delighted to discuss it with the hon. gentleman. Let me add that we have, in the last few years, continued the program of providing additional fire fighting equipment in some of these communities - that may help to address the problem but it may not address the issue. The problem is one of: How do you make an insurance company sell a policy in a situation where it does not want to assume the risk?

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Has the minister or anybody in his department asked for a full report from the Fire Commissioner's Office as to whether or not fire protection is adequate in those communities?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister has not. I have no idea whether anybody in my department has. If he or she has, I have not been told about it. I will take the hon. gentleman's question as being, in part, a suggestion and see what we can do about it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for Humber Valley, a supplementary.

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

Has the minister had any discussions with the insurance companies involved in this particular situation, or the brokers involved? Is he aware of any other situations in other communities in the Province where this action might be taken?

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

MR. ROBERTS: No and no, to the two questions. I am prepared, as soon as we can get out of the House and I have some time other than attending to my duties as a member of the House, to do exactly as the hon. gentleman suggests. There is obviously some kind of problem that requires some attention by the government. I can assure the hon. gentleman that I shall do what I can, and I know my colleagues will work with me on this, to do whatever is right, proper, fair and balanced in the situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, the member for Grand Bank.

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

Early in the government's mandate, Mr. Speaker, the former Government House Leader introduced an important reform in the Legislature when he set up three Legislation Review Committees to provide an opportunity for legislation to be examined prior to discussion in the House.

I want to ask the Premier: - things were going pretty well then - has he been persuaded by the current Government House Leader, the Minister of Justice, to abandon that reform and try to rush legislation into the House just before Christmas?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I haven't. But I should elaborate and explain. All of the sudden there is this great concern about how nothing can be done without going to committees, and for forty-odd years since Confederation we never had a committee. It was this government that put these committees in place. For the seventeen years that they were there they didn't think committees were worthwhile. They rushed in and legislation was discussed and debated. Now, in fairness, this is the place where debate takes place, in the House of Assembly. So that is fair. What we did was put these committees in place so that, wherever possible, wherever convenience, and wherever necessary, there could be a discussion. But, Mr. Speaker, the purpose of these committees is not to frustrate the will of the majority of the Legislature to deal with issues that need to be dealt with.

They are talking about the Police Commission and that going to a committee, for example. That has been discussed publicly for some two years. It doesn't come as a sudden shock or surprise. So, Mr. Speaker, the issue is before the House and it has been before the public. The proposal has been put. I understand there were discussions last night.

The House will, no doubt, continue to debate the issue and will express its will on it in due course. But no, Mr. Speaker, there has been no change in policy. The same policy applies. The committees are in place and they will consider such matters as the House specifically asks them to consider or such matters as they, of their own volition, choose to consider. But they can't frustrate the processes of the Legislature or the ability of government to govern.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That was never anyone's intention, Mr. Speaker, but there should be more than just appointing, standing in the House, as the former minister did on June 30, 1989 - I have Hansard here - where he said, in introducing this reform, that we should never get into the situation where all of a sudden, because of time constraints or something else, major pieces of legislation get rushed through the House without adequate discussion both in the House and in the general public.

Now, I want to ask the Premier: Isn't this exactly what we are doing here now? Hasn't the government held back major pieces of legislation until now, just days before Christmas, so that they could hopefully ram it through the House without the public knowing what is contained in the legislation? Isn't that what the Premier and the Government House Leader are up to?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, that is not the objective - I can confirm it for hon. members. That this is coming forward with, perhaps, less notice than it ought to have had, I can't argue against. I would have liked to have had it out a month or two months ago, perhaps even six months ago. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, we are not flawless, we do have some defects. I am prepared to acknowledge that. Occasionally we do not get everything done in as good a time as we should get it done. I am quite prepared to admit that. But I don't think, Mr. Speaker, that there is anything in this bill that necessitates a delay of it.

If there turns out to be anything terribly incorrect we can, in short order, correct it. But let's give the process a chance to work, and if there is something ineffective about it or if, in February or March or April, somebody comes up with the idea that there is something defective about it, we can always take steps to correct it, Mr. Speaker. It is not a catastrophic situation. It is not going to be the end of the world.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The world according to whom, I guess, is the question.

Mr. Speaker, there are three pieces of legislation now that have been tabled within the past few days, legislation, by the way, that the Premier promised more than three years ago, the Police Complaints Commission, The Child Welfare Act, which I believe was tabled yesterday, and The Conflict of Interest Legislation, three significant, substantial pieces of legislation that we have only received within the last couple of days. We are going to be expected now, by the government, to ram this through this Legislature before the Christmas break.

Now, I want to ask the Premier: Does he believe these bills merit careful scrutiny by the public and by members of the House or does he concur with the Member for Carbonear when he said in committee last night that he didn't care how bad the piece of legislation was, he didn't care how bad the bill was, that it could be fixed up sometime in the future? Is that the attitude of the government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the records of this House are replete with hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of examples where a piece of legislation that was passed was very quickly changed because it was discovered to have something that doesn't work as well as something else would in it, and changes were made.

I don't suggest that is going to be necessary. I disagree with some of the criticisms coming from the other side. I don't think there is any merit in it at all, and I haven't heard any significant - there are two or three things that I think the minister has already agreed should be changed, and those proposals can be taken into account and the changes made in Committee. I believe there was already some suggestion to do that. But the basic approach is, I believe, a sound one, bearing in mind the size of this Province compared to the size of other provinces, the size of the police force to be managed or to be the subject of complaints or to have their complaints heard, compared with other police forces, the numbers of police forces. All of those things dictate that we can't possibly finance the cost of putting the trappings of an elephant on the back of a mouse, which this Province is economically.

So it is irrational to be talking about these airy-fairy ideas of a full-time commission consisting of three people to do all this. Where are you going to get this? Now, look at what has been in place so far. The Police Chief has handled all of the complaints. I do not see anything terribly wrong with the initial complaint going to the Police Chief. If somebody has a complaint that a constable or a sergeant or a lieutenant or somebody else did something incorrectly or failed to do something that he or she ought to have done, the logical place to go is to the Chief of Police and say this was not done and, presumably, the Chief of Police, if he is any good or if he is competent, will deal with it effectively but the safety valve is, if the Chief does not, there is protection for the citizens, and that is what is there, that is the way the bill is intended to operate. Hon. members opposite are talking as though we have a police force rife with incompetence and inability and doing everything wrong. I mean, it is ludicrous to suggest that this bill is being rushed through for that reason, it is utter nonsense, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Yesterday, in the House, the minister confirmed that municipalities will be allowed to charge utility companies more than the 2.5 per cent uniform utility taxes previously announced. However, any amount over the 2.5 per cent will be charged back to the users in the given community, a new tax, a consumption tax. The Minister of Finance has announced that he would be asking Hydro not to increase its rates and the same request would be made to Newfoundland Light and Power. Isn't this surtax or surcharge another way of allowing utility companies to increase their rates so as to maintain their high profits?

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister, Isn't this new surcharge that is being imposed by the legislation going to allow utility companies to increase their rates and maintain their already high profits?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I have not heard anything much more irrational than that proposition. It is so irrational that it is difficult to even describe it as such. I mean, it just doesn't make any sense. There is no surcharge. There is no surcharge. The simple fact is this, Mr. Speaker: Some municipalities, not all, have been imposing this tax at exorbitant rates and effectively taxing residents in other municipalities, because they have been forcing the utility to itself pay it and collect the money to do so from residents of other municipalities. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is as unfair as could be. Some municipalities - Botwood, Bishop's Falls, Grand Falls, Windsor - are limited to collecting 1 per cent. Marystown was charging 35 per cent and who was paying it? - the residents of Bishop's Falls, Windsor, Botwood and so on, whose councils could not charge above 1 per cent. Mr. Speaker, that irrational, unfair taxation had to be stopped.

Now, Mr. Speaker, all we have done is this: We said, any municipality that wants to, can charge this tax but the utility only has to pay it out of its general revenues and so charge all of the rate-payers in the Province up to a maximum of 2.5 per cent. If any municipality wants, as Marystown did, to charge 35 per cent, then the citizens of Marystown, the town that imposed that additional tax, would pay it, not the rest of the Province. I cannot imagine any greater example of fairness and balance than that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The Supreme Court has already, in the case, I think, of Burin and CBS, ruled that utility companies were not allowed to levy the surcharge back to the consumers, in fact they had to pay it back, Mr. Speaker. Why is this proposed legislation going to protect the corporate giants, Mr. Speaker, including Newfoundland Tel and Fortis, while at the same time, imposing hardships on the ordinary Newfoundlander?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it doesn't protect the utilities. What it is doing is protecting the people of Port au Port, against the ravages of the council in Marystown, that is what it is doing. The utilities get no protection; they can only recover under our law the cost that they incur. Members opposite, I am sure, the Member for Humber East, I am sure, the Member for St. John's East, will confirm that under our public utilities legislation, utilities can only recover the cost that they incur plus a fair return on the capital that they have invested and if that is not so then let them amend the law to make sure that it is so. That is the way the system works. It is the same throughout Canada and, to the best of my knowledge, it is the same throughout every jurisdiction in North America. That is the simple, straightforward way to operate.

Now, what is happening here is, the Supreme Court has ruled that under existing legislation municipalities could not charge that. They found it offensive to charge to their other customers. So they tried to do it in this way. What the court said is: You have no authority to do that. If a municipality wants to levy 100 per cent they can collect it and you have to take it out of your rates; it is into your cost, you have to take it out of your rates, so you have to up your rates to other municipalities in order to pay it to the select handful of municipalities that are charging these excessively high rates.

Mr. Speaker, this government has a concern for all of its taxpayers in every nook and cranny of the Province. Our fundamental promise when we ran for election was to provide for fair and balanced treatment of all of our citizens and taxpayers, and that is exactly what we are doing.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the spokesman for Newfoundland Light and Power for that answer.


MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs: With the continuous lowering of municipal operating grants, and now, the uniform tax on utilities, is this not a further downloading of taxation to municipalities which are already taxed to the limit? How does he plan to help municipalities adjust? For example, in my district, the town of Musgrave Harbour will lose $54,000 in 1993 as a result of the utility tax decrease and MOGs. Mr. Speaker, how do you expect municipalities to be able to cope?


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

MR. HOGAN: I don't know if the Speaker recognised me or not.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I have recognized the hon. minister.

MR. HOGAN: Thank you. My apologies - I couldn't hear you, Mr. Speaker, with the noise coming from over there.

I would just say to hon. members that the Premier is much more generous than I am. I wouldn't dignify their stupid questions with an explanation or an answer as he did.


MR. HOGAN: No, we are not downloading on the municipalities, as is suggested by the hon. member. What we are doing is permitting the municipalities, as they requested, the ability to apply taxation, but they will have to apply it in their own communities rather than spread it Province-wide throughout all the consumers.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Premier. On November 9, the Premier, in a Ministerial Statement said, and I quote: "The people of Sheshatshiu must pay for electricity, just as does any other resident of Newfoundland and Labrador. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has installed a bulk metering system to record the amount of electricity consumed by users..."

That was on November 9. I understand, Mr. Premier, that electricity bills have gone out to all consumers in the Province, in fact, over two weeks ago. I would like to ask the Premier: Have government, through Hydro, collected any monies from the residents of Sheshatshiu?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, government hasn't collected any money through Hydro. Hydro has collected money from residents of Sheshatshiu, yes.

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

MR. WARREN: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Could the Premier advise how much money Hydro has collected, and by what means through this bulk system was it collected?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, I was speaking with Hydro officials just yesterday about the issue. They have advised me the manner in which they have dealt with the problem at the moment. They have acceded to our request to handle this matter with sensitivity so as not to risk injury or threat to life of any person inside or outside the community of Sheshatshiu. They have done that. They haven't responded to provocation with force or with jurisdiction or with power. They have been quite sensitive and I am impressed with the way in which Hydro has handled the matter. In terms of the billing, they have used the discretion that is open to them to submit estimated bills in unusual circumstances. Hydro has the power to submit bills on the basis of estimated amounts based on their judgement as to what would have been used. They have historical records for all of the meters. Some but not all of the people in Sheshatshiu have continued to pay their bills; it is difficult to judge whether anybody whose meters have been removed have or have not paid because the bills have gone out very recently I believe, so there would be no way of judging it at this point in time.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A final supplementary.

In the last few minutes the Premier has talked about his government's fairness and balance. In our Province, we have I think, I stand to be corrected, but I think there are five different electricity rates, with the people on coastal Labrador, the people on Fogo and southcoast who are supplied by diesel generation, paying the most for electricity rates.

The Premier has advocated fairness and balance. Would the Premier not think now would be an appropriate time to show his fairness and balance by having a uniform electricity rate in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the total truth, the whole truth - but what the member put forward is not an accurate statement. The whole truth is that everybody pays a uniform rate up to a maximum of 700 kilowatts per month, which is estimated to be sort of the normal or average amount that an average household would use in a month, so that is uniform. It does not matter whether it is a diesel area or wherever; if you use 700 or less you pay the same rate anywhere in this Province, so there is uniformity. Beyond the 700 there is a differential rate because in the diesel areas where the cost of using it, of producing the electricity is so much higher, the use for example of electric heat puts a tremendous demand on higher cost electricity.

Our objective, Mr. Speaker, is to get to the point ultimately where we can have uniform rates. We think that the bridge was crossed a long time ago, twenty odd years ago when Corner Brook, which had very low rates, St. John's which had very low rates had their rates increased, and others were brought down to have uniform rates in all of the interconnected areas of the Province, and there were opinions to the contrary at the time and still some of them exist and that has been changed.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we are committed to the idea of uniform rates, but fairness and balance require an umbrella. It is an umbrella that covers everything, and it does not mean necessarily absolute equality; it means just what it says, fairness and balance.

Is it fair that the people of Labrador connected to the Hydro system in Labrador, where the cost of generating power is so much less than it is on the Island part of the Province, where they have so many other higher cost in terms of transportation and so on, is it fairness and balance that they should pay absolutely the same rates as in the Island part of the Province?

Perhaps not, Mr. Speaker, perhaps not. Fairness and balance is an umbrella that encompasses all aspects of it and does not mean absolute equality, so we have to take a look at the whole situation, Mr. Speaker, and that is essentially what we are doing.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, a related question to the Minister of Finance.

In the minister's Budget, the minister showed under provincial sources other than taxes, under an item just known as Other Revenue, an $8 million increase and we are told that that is due primarily from Newfoundland Hydro, that it comes from water rights or water revenues, water rent that CF(L)Co pays to Newfoundland Hydro. If that now has to be paid by Hydro to the Province, would the minister like to tell us how Hydro is going to pay their bonds and does this not mean an increase in rates for Newfoundland Hydro?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker.

On what the hon. gentleman is saying there is no problem in paying the bonds. I will get a detailed answer for him and get back to him in the next day or so -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Yes. - but there is no problem in terms of paying the bonds; there is $7.9 million that can now be, at this point in time, turned over to the Province.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not know how Hydro can all of a sudden come up with $8 million and it not affect their budget somewhere in the overall financial credibility of the corporation. I will wait for the minister to give me some more detailed information. I would appreciate it. Would the minister also like to tell us, Mr. Speaker, how the $1.5 million increase shown this year for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation comes about in view of the fact that the minister tells the corporation each year how much money they are to raise, and now all of a sudden we are showing $1.5 million more. That could only indicate, Mr. Speaker, that either the sales were up and the corporation had budgeted incorrectly and has brought in increases earlier this year in excess of what they were going to need to raise the amount the minister had asked for, or the corporation has been directed to increase fees now. Is that the case, and if so, will that $1.5 additional relate to $4.5 million next year?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the $1.5 million was really three separate sources. About $500,000, my understanding is, results from some efficiencies that were brought into the system in terms of not filling positions and this kind of thing. Some of it were actually cuts that will in fact carry over into next year. The projection was this year in terms of sales that the sales in the Province, and this is the basis on which the projections were done in the Budget, would be down a couple of per cent. In actual fact the sales are not down a couple of per cent. They are probably down less than half a per cent from the previous year and therefore, again, about $500,000 is extra money they feel they have coming in. So, $500,000 in terms of cuts, $500,000 in terms of savings, and the other $500,000 my understanding is, is some retained earnings they had previously.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway you cut it, if the minister told the corporation to raise $35.5 million last year for this year and they are now raising $37 million that is an increase of $1.5 million to consumers. If sales are up then prices should have been dropped instead of increased after the minister's March Budget, Mr. Speaker. Let me ask the minister this, Mr. Speaker: There is an item in the Budget, again under an item, Other Provincial Taxes, of a $10 million increase and the Minister of Health, the former Minister of Finance whose information is not very reliable, tells us that comes from school tax arrears. Now in March he budgeted for the takeover of the School Tax Authorities in which case all the arrears including this so-called $10 million arrears would have been included. Is this double entry now into the minister's Budget? Are we counting this twice or is the minister serious in that he is going to collect that $10 million arrears, much of which is very, very old and probably uncollectible. Or is the minister cooking the books here?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we were very prudent in our estimates and we took certain measures in terms of charging a full year tax and saying if the tax is paid within a certain length of time that the half year credit will be given and so on. There are certain measures taken to ensure there would be a good collection rate in terms of the arrears, and we are very prudent in our estimates. In actual fact there was more collected to that amount in arrears than we had planned. I am not sure about the exact amount to the tenth of a million but it was an amount of money that was collected in addition to what we had expected would be collected.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

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

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, during Question Period in response to a question from the Member for Fogo the Premier accused the Marystown town council of charging 35 per cent to utility companies. I had reason, at that time, as a result of that, to contact the Marystown office and I was told by the town manager that their total in terms of property and the assessed value was 6.3 per cent.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: All I need to say is that is no more a point of order than most of the ones the hon. gentleman raises. It is simply a matter of debate. We will deal with him and with it at the appropriate time when the municipal utility tax bill comes on for debate.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Just let the Speaker rule on the first point of order first. There is no point of order. The member has taken the opportunity to clarify or elucidate upon a certain point.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My point of order is that the government still has not printed or distributed the utility tax Bill that has been the subject of recent discussions. This illustrates the points made by the Opposition House Leader during Question Period that the government has -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair cannot tolerate points of order on whether the government has gotten out certain Bills - that kind of thing. The House moves along and it is appropriate for a member to ask a question when we can expect it, but the Chair cannot allow a debate and can only simply say that there is no point of order.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. SIMMS: This is just a point of order on Notices of Motion, Mr. Speaker.

Ordinarily on Monday we would get notice of Private Members' Resolutions. We did not get it yesterday and we do not have it again today. I am wondering if the Government House Leader would give notice.

I know that there has been a desire to forego Private Members' Day tomorrow to do government business but from what has happened in the last few days I am not sure that is going to transpire. So I am wondering - just in case we do not get leave tomorrow to forego Private Members' Day - if the Government House Leader would notify us of what resolution we may be debating.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. gentleman.

My understanding is that all groups within the House, having been consulted, are of one mind to take tomorrow and make it a government day; but my hon. friend raises a point. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, if it were proper you could ask at some time today - whatever time you might consider appropriate - whether members are prepared to forego Private Members' Day, which will take unanimous consent.

Should that not be the case, two things will happen. We will debate the motion that stands in the name of my friend from Pleasantville, because that is the one; and secondly we will be back here next week because there is no way that we can possibly get through the amount of substantial, progressive, legislation that is before the House short of that.

I am in the hands of the House, as always, if we want to be here next week. The only promise I made is that we will get at least half a day Christmas.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader, in advising the House there was agreement from all groups, is incorrect. I was consulted by the Government House Leader and advised him that I would have to take his request under advisement. I have not yet advised the Government House Leader what my position is on it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In responding to a question raised yesterday, a matter raised by the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, in which both myself and my colleague, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs undertook to check into the matter of fire departments, volunteer fire brigades and workers compensation.

The question, where fire fighters are protected under the act while fighting fires or participating in fire drills or fire drill tournaments and the like, but have been notified that when they are doing other duties such as fixing up trucks and so on, and enhancing their fire halls, that they have been told they are not covered; could we check into it and give a clear answer?

In checking into it and having the regulation under the act checked with the acting chief executive officer at Workers' Compensation, it is clear that the volunteer fire fighters are covered from the time they leave their home or place of employment until the time they return, in any duties responding to a fire call and any related duties with respect to equipment and/or trucks that have to be repaired as a result of that call are also covered under that definition; but for other activities such as building the fire halls themselves on a volunteer capacity, fund-raising or those types of things, they are clearly not covered, the same as the same types of people are not covered when they volunteer to help build churches, community halls, service clubs and so on. When they are engaged in an activity related to the fighting of a fire, and then the reinstatement and repair of the vehicle and/or equipment as a result of that, they are covered. At other times they are not covered.

If the member or anyone else would like further clarification, Mr. Speaker, they can speak with us directly at the office or I would refer them to the chief executive officer of the Workers' Compensation Commission.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we please begin with Motions 3, 4 and 5, and then I'll ask Your Honour to call order 32, which is Bill 42, the Waste Material Disposal Act (No. 2).

Motion, the hon. the Ministers of Finance and Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce respectively bills, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No. 4)," "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act (No. 3)", and "An Act Respecting The Taxation Of Utilities," carried. (Bill Nos. 72, 71 and 73).

On motion, Bill Nos. 72, 71, and 73 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 32, Bill 42 please, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 32, Bill 42. Is this the first time that it's been called? Is it an adjourned debate?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act (No. 2)". (Bill No. 42).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I'm standing today in the place and stead of the Minister of Environment and Lands. I should advise the House, partly I suppose because there were some enquiries from the other side yesterday, as to where the minister was. She hadn't been available for Question Period for some time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, she's sick. The minister has had two very severe illnesses in the last year or so. The first one as everybody knows was a thyroid condition that causes both physical and emotional consequences that are quite severe, and the minister still has the affects of that thyroid problem. On top of that she's been advised in the last couple of days that she now has diabetes that she has to cope with.

So this is where she's been for the last few days. I'm disclosing this with her permission today because members were enquiring as to why she wasn't available to speak in the House. I'm not sure that it would have been sufficient or it would have been accepted just to simply say she was sick. The minister has been quite ill for some time. I would ask the understanding of hon. members on both sides of the House in terms of the minister's discharge of her public responsibilities both as a minister and as a member of this House.

Mr. Speaker, quite apart from the fact that the minister is ill and unable to do so herself, I would have been quite happy to move this Bill anyway, because it is a matter that has caused me a great deal of concern for some time. One of the commitments that this government had that I frankly admit I feel we've not dealt with adequately is to bring in legislation to better protect our environment. I am prepared to stand in the House and say that I don't believe we've moved as expeditiously as we could have, because there are a number of significant areas in terms of environmental protection that need to be addressed.

We are very fortunate in this Province. Relatively speaking we have a pristine and magnificent physical and biological environment. It's our objective to do everything within our power to keep it that way. In saying that I've said publicly, and I should probably say in the House - I said publicly on other occasions - that the pride with which we stand and proclaim our relatively pristine physical and biological environment is a little misplaced if we are, at the same time, conveying the implication that it is pristine because we have been such good, personal caretakers of that environment. Just the opposite is true, in many instances. In fact, it is probably relatively pristine not because of the great care and attention we, as 575,000 residents have given it, but because it is so immense relative to our population, even the bad and distasteful habits of a great many of the 575,000 of us could not destroy it in the time that we have been assaulting it.

So, Mr. Speaker, step number one for all of us is to recognize that our pristine environment is not due to our good habits and our good management - to recognize why it is that we have a relatively pristine environment, and commit ourselves anew to giving the environment the priority it deserves, starting by recognizing that we are not the owners of the land that I hold title to in my house. I am not really the owner of it. I am only the owner of it while I am physically occupying it. It is a means of giving me a right to possess it and operate it. I am a temporary caretaker for generations yet to come.

That does not matter whether I live on a relatively crowded street in the Capital City of St. John's or I live in a nice, attractive area in Cormack, in the Humber Valley. It does not matter where it is - or on the Burin Peninsula, or on the Great Northern Peninsula or anywhere else in this Province. Mr. Speaker, we are only temporary custodians - trustees, stewards - of the physical environment that we occupy.

So all of us must recognize that and dedicate ourselves anew to taking steps to control our own ways, our own methods of operation, so as not to cause any offence to that environment that is at all, by any standard of judgement, avoidable.

Mr. Speaker, government has a major role to play here, not only in regulating but in educating.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: One of the things that the former Minister of Education did - and it was he who sounded out, 'hear, hear!' because he personally is so committed to that - one of the things that he did was start to develop a curriculum that will apply from Kindergarten to Grade XII, so that in every year of primary, elementary and secondary education - in every single year of it - there will be an element of the curriculum that deals with the environment and the proper way of handling the environment.

The education process is what will help future generations deal with the environment, and we are committed to putting that in place. It is well on the way and I hope, over the next year or two, it will be pretty fully in place and developed for all school children.

Mr. Speaker, that will sort of take care of those of us who are presently, say ten years of age and younger; but what about the rest of us clods who have been fouling the environment for much of our lives without an adequate sensitivity? Well I believe we have to carry on an education program thereto, through means of newspaper, through means of public discussion, a variety of fora in which there can be public discussion and lectures dealing with the issue, through television and radio, creating a greater awareness of the sensitivity of the environment.

I just wish we had the money to hire small planes to fly every resident of this Province over some of our wetlands and look at what we have done with all terrain vehicles in destroying wetlands that scientists tell us will take 500 years to repair themselves. Look at what we are doing. It will not come back in 500 years. I just wish we could show that to our people and realize what we are doing as we drive helter-skelter, having great fun driving these all terrain vehicles over the surface and destroying it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can walk and see it.

PREMIER WELLS: You can walk and see it, as the hon. Member for Fogo says. It is a shocking, despicable offence to the environment, and we must take steps to address it without delay. It is going to be a difficulty, I know, in this Province, because a great number of our people having used these all terrain vehicles, a great number of them use them for gathering fire wood and for other useful purposes-

AN HON. MEMBER: We have the highest per capita usage in North America.

PREMIER WELLS: The highest per capita usage in North America and we are doing incredible damage to the environment and, a high level of damage to young people in terms of injury to their bodies and to the point of death in many cases, so, Mr. Speaker, we have to take steps to address the question of ATVs, and I am happy to tell the House or take advantage of this opportunity to tell the House that in the next, we will not get it done now before Christmas, but in the next sitting after Christmas, we will be introducing legislation to deal with that as well.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible), before the elections?

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, I dare say. The hon. member should not be thinking about an election in the next number of weeks or months. We will not have been in office four years until the 5th of May and the House first sat I think, on the 26th or 27th of May and we have five years from that date, and it will only be four years in late May, so do not get excited about an election yet. It is too unbalanced at the moment, it is just too unbalanced. I am concerned about maintaining the democratic process, so I would be very concerned about going right now, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let's let hon. members deal with this very serious subject. A little levity is good but if the hon. Member for Humber East can restrain herself, I would like to deal with a very serious subject without this kind of banter back and forth across the House.

Mr. Speaker, quite apart from our responsibility to manage the physical, the biophysical environment in such a manner that we can pass it on to succeeding generations to come relatively intact, with no damage or abuse caused by us, quite apart from that responsibility and we have that, I believe as an absolute responsibility on all mankind and we who are privileged to have the custody of this Island and the Labrador Peninsula have as great a responsibility as do any other people anywhere else in the world.

Quite apart from that absolute responsibility, Mr. Speaker, we have other immediate responsibilities for our own concerns. We should also protect the environment for the personal enjoyment of all of us who are alive and living here and using it today. There is nothing that is personally more offensive than to climb the Blomidon Mountains on the south side of The Bay of Islands or to climb Gros Morne in the park or to climb the Trout River Table Lands and see a discarded soft drink bottle or a discarded candy package or discarded beer container, just thrown into the environment, and you feel good about being out in this kind of an atmosphere and enjoying its pristineness, its cleanness and the wholesomeness of it and you feel personally violated when you see this kind of trash just discarded in the environment. So quite apart from our responsibility to generations to come, we also have a responsibility to ourselves and to our fellow citizens to be reasonably disciplined and protect the environment for the enjoyment of our fellow citizens even if we do not have enough sense to care about it for our own use and occupation of it. So, Mr. Speaker, we have a responsibility from that point of view as well.

We also have a responsibility from another point of view, Mr. Speaker. That same pristine environment, the same opportunity to climb Gros Morne or to climb the Long Range Mountains on the Great Northern Peninsula or to hike around the base of Cabot Tower and enjoy the beauty of that scene or to be in Trinity Bay and sail or hike around and watch the eagles and enjoy the beauty of nature in that way. Mr. Speaker, there is a tremendous economic value to it as well as the personal enjoyment we can get and the economic value is, we can sell that tremendous commodity to tens and hundreds of millions of people in other parts of the world but we can't do it if we foul it with garbage, if we foul it with car wrecks, and foul it with a variety of other things. We can't market it, Mr. Speaker. And it doesn't matter whether it is put there by us or it is caused by somebody importing it from the United States, or caused by somebody burning it and causing offence to the environment. If it is to be done, if we are to use the environment at all, we must use it in an acceptable way, and if what we are doing is offensive to the environment it should be stopped, it should be prohibited. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the policy and approach of the government, and that is what caused us to seek to address these concerns that have lain dormant for so long. We have concerns not only with beverage containers. People automatically think of pop cans and beer cans. That is not the only thing. Look at all the candy bar wrappers and the gum wrappers. What are these metalized containers called? Juices come in them.

AN HON. MEMBER: The drink box.

PREMIER WELLS: I know it is a drink box but there is a name for them - I forget what it is now. They last for generations and generations. They don't deteriorate - plastics and so on that we are dumping in the environment. We have to be concerned even about storing the vast quantities of it that we are doing in places like Robin Hood Bay, that we are doing in places like Wild Cove out by Corner Brook, and see what we are doing to the beautiful pristine environment that we have.

Go out and look at Wild Cove in a beautiful section of the Bay of Islands. In the inner bay, up between the mountains, there is this massive dump with smoke billowing up. It is like it was put there in place for you to get up on the road so you can look down and have a panoramic view of this dump. We are inviting tourists to come and expect them to enjoy our pristine environment. We have a lot of mending of our ways to do, Mr. Speaker. None of the things we can do to the environment is more visually offensive than the abandonment of automobile wrecks, helter-skelter, thrown over the side of the road, dropped over an embankment down on a seashore.

Drive in by Kitchuses, or sail in by Kitchuses in Conception Bay, going into Conception Harbour and look at the car wrecks dumped over the hill in Kitchuses, hanging on the side of the rocks by the seashore. And we are going to invite tourists to come and enjoy our pristine environment and expect them to pay good dollars to do it?

Mr. Speaker, we have to take immediate action to mend our unacceptable ways of the past and one of the first things we can do is bring in strict legislation to stop now, and forever after, the abandonment of automobile wrecks into the environment. That is what this piece of legislation does, Mr. Speaker.

The legislation proposed will give us the maximum possible means of identifying the last registered owner, and because we don't know, necessarily, to whom an individual may have sold it, if the car was not subsequently licensed - we will not necessarily know it - the last registered owner is left with the responsibility, for a couple of reasons, one of which is, it is a reasonable presumption that was the person who abandoned it somewhere. If it wasn't right where it was found, they abandoned it somewhere, because it was not re-registered for use by anybody else. Secondly, there is a requirement that every registered owner of an automobile, who sells an automobile, is required to report it to the registry. So if a registered owner does not report it when he sells it and it is subsequently found abandoned in the environment then, Mr. Speaker, it is a reasonable presumption that responsibility should rest with that person because that person also had the responsibility to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles that it was sold to somebody else.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about sold for scrap?

PREMIER WELLS: If it is sold for scrap you can do that, too. Every owner of a registered motor vehicle has an obligation to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles of the disposal of a vehicle. That is the way of controlling it. Mr. Speaker, there will be a responsibility on all of us who ask and claim the right to drive an automobile in the environment. It is not a burdensome responsibility to place on anybody, to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles of how you have disposed of it.

Any owner, Mr. Speaker, who has difficulty or does not know where to dispose of a vehicle, may contact the Department of Environment and Lands or the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and all the help within our power will be given to help in disposing of it. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell hon. members that the Minister of Environment is at this moment carrying on discussions with a company that proposes to set up a plant for the purpose of, I am just trying to find the phrase they used to describe it, I think it is shredding, crushing and shredding of automobiles into scrap metal for sale into the scrap metal market. It is an interesting observation, Mr. Speaker, that much of the growth in the steel industry - not growth, but replacement of old, outdated steel fabrication facilities or steel manufacturing facilities is the secondary processing of scrap metal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, a great deal of the new technology is focused on that rather than manufacturing from pellets. So, it is causing an impact on IOC in Wabush, they cannot sell as many pellets because the new mills -

AN HON. MEMBER: Mini-mills.

PREMIER WELLS: - mini-mills they are called, right. The minister has it right, they are called mini-mills and that is what they do, they process steel out of wrecks and rejects.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to say that the minister is now working with a company that proposes to recycle this kind of metal and put a facility in this Province to do just that. So, there will be a means whereby municipalities throughout the Province can cause car wrecks to be collected together in one place and ultimately crushed, picked up and brought to this kind of facility for ultimate disposal. So, there should be no excuse for ever abandoning again, in the environment, an automobile wreck in this Province. Mr. Speaker, the penalties proposed are quite substantial and serious. They are intended to be substantial and serious because the bill is intended to be effective. It is intended to prevent this from ever happening again.

Mr. Speaker, the bill also enables government to go back as far as ten years, from the date of proclamation of this bill when a car wreck is found somewhere in the environment, if somebody was responsible for not removing it, because there is a burden on anybody who has abandoned a vehicle in the past, the burden to remove it is now there. But, Mr. Speaker, we are not making this a retroactive offense. The offence is continuing to leave it in the environment. We are not making it an offense for having abandoning it two years ago. If you now take steps, anytime within six months after implementation of the bill to remove it from the environment, no action will be taken. Six months - I think that is a reasonable period of time to remove it from the environment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the summer, for six months.

PREMIER WELLS: But it can be for a period of ten years, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, abandoned ten years ago. So anything that is there now, must also be removed. Anybody in this Province who knows that in the recent past he has abandoned an automobile in the environment, has a responsibility to remove it but, Mr. Speaker, the bill will provide a period of grace to allow it to be done. It doesn't become an offense immediately. It is intended, Mr. Speaker, to be successful, to achieve the objective of allowing us to recover the pristine nature of the magnificent environment that this Province really has. It will allow us, Mr. Speaker, not only to enjoy it ourselves, and to market it to others, millions, hopefully, who will pay tens-of-millions of dollars to enjoy that environment, but also to enable each and every one of us, as temporary custodians of that environment, to pass it on to the rest of the world as unimpaired as possible.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure, and I must say except for the fact that the minister had to be out of the House, really, in order for me to do this personally - I kind of wish she were out of the House for another reason - but I am not at all disappointed that she is out of the House when this bill had to be presented, because I am happy to make the kinds of comments that I did and have the opportunity to speak so strongly in favour of this bill myself. I ask hon. members to give it appropriate consideration and approval. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to have a few words to say on this bill, as well. It is a very good piece of legislation, I have to say to the Premier. I find it very difficult to disagree with anything that he said on this particular bill. At the same time, let me also wish the minister a speedy recovery and let's hope she is back in the House very soon.

The bill is long overdue. It should have been brought in years ago. Years and years ago this bill should have been here before the House. I do want to commend the minister and the government for having brought in this piece of legislation. It is very good. Mr. Speakers, as I said, I find it difficult to disagree with anything the Premier has said on it. I don't believe there is any greater scourge on the landscape than a car wreck.

I remember when I was Minister of Municipal Affairs, representatives of a community came to me one day and asked for funding to clean up car wrecks in the community. Of course, we didn't have a program within the department to respond to that particular need, but through the deputy minister and a few more people within the department, I convinced them to make about $5,000 available to clean up this community of car wrecks. Lo and behold, I went back to that community one Sunday afternoon about three months ago, and walking around the community I did a visual check of the community now, three years later. I found ninety-six car wrecks in the community again.

So the Premier is quite right. We need an education campaign. We need to get into the schools and tell the children about what is going on, what a wonderful environment we have here in Newfoundland, and what a wonderful Province we have. I think I have waged my own campaign over the last fifteen or twenty years with respect to car wrecks. I don't believe there is possibly any member here in the House of Assembly who has had more contact with, or who is better known by the people in the Department of Environment than I am. I think I have made several hundred calls to the Department of Environment over the last fifteen or twenty years, reporting people - I have absolutely no reservation in saying it - reporting people who throw car wrecks around communities.

You would be surprised how they respond in the Department of Environment. This legislation will give them the power they need to respond - before, they didn't have that power. Now they will have the power to respond and be able to go out into these communities and make councils aware and make people aware of what it is that is here before the House of Assembly today. I sincerely hope that the press is listening and that the press will cover what is happening in the House of Assembly today. Because if the people don't know what is going on, and if they don't know about this bill and the fines that are going to be imposed on people who abandon car wrecks, then that makes the job of the environment people so much harder to do.

I have a couple of concerns about the bill that I want to make the Premier aware of. One, it covers abandoned vehicles but it doesn't specifically say anything about a vehicle on private property. Now, some people are of the opinion that if they abandon a vehicle on their own property: 'That is my property, I have a right to do that,' they think. They don't realize that they are ruining their own property and ruining mine, as well. So, I would like to get the Premier's opinion as to whether or not private property is covered under this bill. It says it covers the abandonment of a vehicle but it doesn't specifically spell out anything about private property or if an individual has a right to abandon a vehicle on his own private property. I would like to know if that is covered in the bill. I have read the bill. It is a short bill, only two pages, and I don't see anything that would cover that.

The fine to be imposed, a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $5,000: I am just wondering if the fine applies to - say an individual has fifteen or twenty vehicles on a piece of property. Would that fine apply to each individual vehicle, or would it apply, say, to the whole pile of 100 vehicles that are on the property? Because if the fine of $1,000 is applied to an individual who has, say, 100 vehicles on his property, then from that point of view, I guess, the fine could be low. But if it were applied to each individual vehicle, then the fine could be quite adequate, indeed. So if the Premier or someone could address that particular point, I think that would be worth addressing.

Again, I support the bill. I can't really add anything to what the Premier has said. He has said it quite eloquently and everything that he has said, I agree with one hundred per cent, especially as it applies to the ATVs, as well. As a matter of fact, I had one, and when I saw the kind of damage these vehicles are capable of doing to the environment, I got rid of it, specifically for that reason. Because we have to be responsible in our use of them.

It is much better to get into the country and walk. That is where we really see environmental problems occurring. Because you can go - and I have walked ten to fifteen miles back in the country and you see Coke cans and all kinds of litter back there. Mr. Speaker, it is a very sensitive environment that we have out there and I think we have to learn to look after it.

I know, Mr. Speaker, we have a number - two or three people on this side of the House - who probably want to say a few words about this bill. Again, I say, there is very little I can add. It is a good piece of legislation. If somebody could address those two points I would appreciate it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I can only echo the words of the Premier in his support for the environment. I think it is a matter on which the Premier speaks both eloquently and passionately, I must say. I know he is accused from time to time of not having a certain amount of passion, but he certainly expressed a passion for the wilderness and for the outdoors of this Province and it is one that I share.

So I have to speak generally in favour of the legislation because it attacks at least one problem that I think is an overwhelming one. It has been an effort by a large number of people, by successive governments, to try to resolve, and it has been unsuccessful to date. So I support the legislation.

May I suggest that perhaps something in addition to this can be done? Because when I see this bill - and I think of this from a point of view of law enforcement and the efforts that will have to be made to enforce this legislation - I see in my mind's eye a large number of people being paid to go out and find these car wrecks, to enforce the legislation, to hire lawyers to prosecute, to perhaps prosecute people who are the least able to respond to a fine. Yes, there will be a deterrent, but those who do offend and will be fined this minimum fine of $1,000, perhaps will not have the money and may end up in our jails, and we will be paying for their keep. I appreciate the purpose of deterrence in legislation such as this, and all legislation, but I think there comes a point when, depending on who you are dealing with, the deterrence of a fine or even the suspension of a licence may not have any effect whatsoever.

What I want to suggest, is what I suggested, Mr. Speaker, when an announcement was made by way of Ministerial Statement last year by the Minister of Environment about this legislation and her intention to deal with the problem of car wrecks. That in addition to the stick that there be provided a carrot of some sort. This would involve a scheme, Mr. Speaker, where when each time a new vehicle is purchased that there be added a deposit of perhaps the cost of an option. People go buy cars and I brought one recently myself back in May and there is a whole string of options attached to it, costing a couple of hundred dollars for this and $200 or $300 dollars for that and these options are very expensive. They can add thousands of dollars to the cost of a car.

I do not think it is unreasonable for the Province of Newfoundland to say that there will be a deposit of $250.00, $200.00, I do not know someone else could work out what would be appropriate. That could be sort of a revolving fund, Mr. Speaker, because I am told there are some 230,000 vehicles in this Province, maybe more, it seems like an astounding number but I am told it is true. I do not know how long they last on the average but as each year goes by there will be another additional number of new cars sold and this fund will be created and from that fund, Mr. Speaker, could be used an opportunity to reimburse or to pay people who may go out and collect these cars.

So that a person who might be tempted by economic circumstances or ignorance or whatever, to throw a car over a cliff or to abandon it or dispose of it in some unlawful and environmentally unsound way, would have a bit of a carrot available to return this car or provide this car to some location such as a car shredding factory or some place like that. All cars obviously are not going to be abandoned or returned at one time because people will be using them for five, or six, or ten, or hopefully longer years. So that fund would be revolving, and in fact not only would it provide an incentive to people who might be otherwise tempted to abandon a vehicle, it could also provide a very good incentive to individuals who may otherwise be unemployed and we have plenty of them around this Province unfortunately, to actually go out and find some of these cars in the woods and bring them out. If there is a deposit of a couple of hundred dollars available maybe they will be encouraged to use their ingenuity and find ways of hauling these vehicles out of abandoned places, out of our wilderness, even perhaps up over the cliffs if they can make a few hundred dollars per vehicle by returning them.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is something that I would suggest to the government and to the Premier and the minister involved, as a way of adding a further opportunity to clean up the environment and to provide a disincentive to the removal of wrecks, because who are we talking about here, we are not talking about people who have a car for two or three years, trade it in or sell it to somebody else in the newspaper, we are talking about the people at the end of the line. The people who may be dealing in car parts themselves because that is the only kind of vehicles that they can afford. These individuals could very well benefit from an incentive developed like this. You could have some little small business at the end of the line of the car wreck business that helps to make it economical to be more careful of the environment and also to recycle some of these products to the kind of vehicle shredding or scrap vehicle manufacturing or whatever, it may help make that economical at the last legs of a car business.

So, I support the legislation but I fear that if we only use the stick, it may end us costing the enforcement dollars, it may end us costing the dollars at the other end, the prosecution dollars and it may end us costing the dollars to keep people in jail who cannot afford to pay the fines, Mr. Speaker, because they may not have the money to do so. So I appreciate the concern that the Premier has expressed about the environment and I commend the government on bringing forth legislation that tries to address the problem but I suggest that there may well be a better way to not only make it more enforceable but it would also make it more palatable and also I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, more workable.

I do have a small concern about the definition of abandoned vehicle. I suppose I can relate a recent experience of an individual who called me for some assistance. Because this individual had a bus without an engine that was on his own land being used as a camper of sorts. It was all done up, it was all clean, painted up, and looked after. Inside had all the amenities that one might have in a travel trailer. Not a wreck but an actual camper trailer of some sort. It wasn't mobile because it didn't have an engine.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)?

MR. HARRIS: Probably didn't have licence plates on it, Mr. Speaker, but it was used the same way as a person might use a trailer. It was mobile but not self-motorized. Parked on his own land and used only as a weekend retreat. The Member for Burin - Placentia West is wondering where the sewer line is. I suppose they use a chemical toilet like people do with campers.

Nonetheless, it might be considered to be an abandoned vehicle here, while in fact it has a use. It's not clear here whether it would or whether it wouldn't. I wouldn't want to see that kind of thing get caught in the abandoned vehicle situation when in fact it's not abandoned at all. It's being used as a different form of vehicle.

I checked the Highway Traffic Act to see how clear the requirements were to let the motor registration division know of your transfer of vehicle, it is important. I can relate an experience of my own. I had a car that was several years old which I drove out to Edmonton to go to law school. At the end of law school, and I was ready to come back to Newfoundland, I feared that my vehicle would not be able to come back with me, because it had reached the end of the road. I had the fortune to encounter a vacuum cleaner salesman several days before I left Edmonton to come back to Newfoundland. He couldn't sell me a vacuum cleaner but I sold him my car for approximately the same price as a vacuum cleaner would have cost. He gave me the money and I gave him the bill of sale.

I came back to Newfoundland only to find out - several weeks later I had a letter from the Alberta motor registration division which had been forwarded to me from my Edmonton address saying that my vehicle had been found abandoned by the side of a river in Edmonton. I had to send them off copies of my bill of sale to assure them that I didn't own this vehicle. So I was lucky. It very well was on its last legs. It only lasted about three weeks after I sold the vehicle. It does emphasize the importance of notifying the motor registration division of your sale so you don't get caught in a situation where you're being required to come up with the penalties that are provided for here.

It's a severe penalty. I think it has to be treated as a severe incident. It seems that no end of education is really working here. I acknowledge the efforts of the Member for Harbour Main in his work on this issue over the years. I remember Ken Meeker of CBC running a campaign for a number of years encouraging high schools to undertake projects to remove car wrecks from the wilderness and the vicinities around their communities. A very successful project but one, as the Member for Harbour Main's indicated, doesn't solve the problem on an ongoing basis.

So I do support the legislation. I would ask only that we be a little bit more forward-looking and provide perhaps a carrot as well. Provide a system of incentives for people to in fact make some money at the end of the line of a car's life by also being able to return that car to an appropriate place and get back a deposit that might be collected from new vehicle owners along the way.

Those are my comments, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

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

MR. MURPHY: Certainly it is not my intent to disagree with the Chair in any way, shape or form. I just want to refer Your Honour to our House Leader the other day. In some discussion in debate that was raised by the Member for Mount Pearl he talked about the tradition of moving from one side of the House to the other. After the Premier introduced the bill, the hon. Member for Harbour Main spoke to it and then, of course, the hon. Member for St. John's East. I know I was on my feet before the hon. Member for St. John's East sat down.

I just make that comment, Your Honour, not in disagreeing with the Chair but just to say a few words to address it.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair can only say that it did not see the hon. Member for St. John's South. I expect it was because I was not looking in that direction. Quite obviously if the hon. member was standing then I would have seen him standing, but I obviously was not looking and I can only recognize the people that I see standing. A moment ago I saw four or five standing. I recognized the Member for Port au Port -

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to tell the Member for St. John's South -

MR. SPEAKER: - and I shall attempt to look both ways next time.

MR. HODDER: I should tell the member that I will be very short. I wanted to speak now because I have to leave for a short while afterwards and I did want to say something about this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I have watched people become more environmentally aware over the years. I remember, as a member of this House, having to, over the years, in one case to actually invite the CBC out to my own district to film when people were throwing garbage on one of the nicest beaches in the whole area. You pay political penalties for that sort of thing, but I think that more and more we are seeing an environmental awareness.

I should start off, Mr. Speaker, by congratulating the government on this piece of legislation. I believe that education is important and I believe that this is a good way to go. I personally support stiff fines for this.

I do have a warning for the government on this particular matter. I do not think that the government will be able to get away without spending some money in this particular case.

I just want to talk from my experience. At this present moment if you were to visit the community of Fox Island River, which I did with another person and an environmental officer last summer, we counted, in that community - and this is not the first time this community has tried to clean itself up - but many of the rural communities, particularly in my district, it is ribbon development and you have houses stretched along the road. I think in that community we counted something like fifty car wrecks. That was last summer.

Now some people, on their own, and they had not had local government previous to this, after that I held a meeting and we got a local service district there, which was all that the people would accept at that particular time. At least that was a first step. Since that time some movement has been made in that community to do things, but the big problem is the fact that the only possible place to place the cars, or any other garbage in that particular community - waste in that community - is near one of the most beautiful rivers in the Province.

The experience that I have had throughout the Port au Port Peninsula is that every single effort that we have made to clear up car wrecks has ended up in car graveyards. That is what I call them - just places which have normally, usually been eyesores and are still there - where people or councils have moved the cars, but we have not been able to get the people who collect car wrecks around the Province to come to the - I think they were out there once, but I can tell hon. members that this is a problem in rural areas. Apparently it is just not cost-efficient to do it.

My point is that I believe that the government is going to have to make some accommodation in those areas. If you are going to fine the people and you are going to require them to pick up their car wrecks, then there has to be a place to put them. In many areas there are no suitable places. It's very difficult to find. With our present types of regional waste disposal places in some cases basically all you're doing is taking them from one place where they're an eyesore and putting them somewhere else.

So government must keep in mind that these cars have to go somewhere. If they're depending on private enterprise to do it, private enterprise hasn't done that yet. I can speak about that and so can all the councils. It's not always possible to get the person who's collecting the car wrecks - even though we're told they'll be there next year. I've dealt with the Department of Environment about this and they know from what I say. So that government is certainly not going to be able to just say: fine the people and force them to do this. As well, they're going to have to make accommodations so that those car wrecks - if they are not picked up by private enterprise - are going to be dealt with and dealt with in a satisfactory manner.

I should say as well that I do agree with some of the comments that were made by the Member for St. John's East when he said that there should be a carrot as well as a stick. Perhaps there should be something in this as an incentive for people to do it. Most of all, regardless if there are incentives, regardless of the heavy fines - which I agree with - there are times when I've seen beautiful areas in my district, I've felt like hanging the people rather than fining them and incarcerating them.

Regardless of that there must be somewhere - you've got to figure out what's going to happen to the end product. I don't think that government can depend on private enterprise wholly and solely for this. I think there must be some accommodation made for those wrecks once they're collected or once people start to turn them in.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to say a few words also about this particular piece of legislation. Because I think that the Member for Kilbride would concur that a part of my district - the Shea Heights area; not only the Shea Heights area but the Member for Kilbride's district, which goes down through Blackhead and what have you - there is a tremendous amount of tourists who go out there every year, thousands and thousands. I don't know why, but for whatever reason Shea Heights was an area that people from all around St. John's and what have you have dumped cars historically for years.

Now this year through the NIA committee up on Shea Heights we removed somewhere in the vicinity of 475 car wrecks. Some of them had plates on them from 1952. Nineteen fifty-two. Just to give you an idea how long these wrecks had been lying around. It was an horrendous eyesore. Again like I said, because it's a beautiful area, going out through Blackhead and going up through Shea Heights and what have you, you get all the panorama of the city and what have you. It just seems that residents, for whatever reason - not only car wrecks, we took chesterfield suites, we took you name it. Fridges, stoves, whatever humans can dispose of was up on Shea Heights. Of course, through the great hard work and perseverance by this hon. member we've got most of it gone. Now we continue.

I wanted to say a few words about the hon. Member for St. John's East's remarks because I don't know how they make any sense at all. We had the Member for Harbour Main who got to his feet and made sense. Then the Member for St. John's East gets up and he complains about the amount of the fine. Then he talks about the education. He says: nothing is working. The only thing that's working is the Member for St. John's East. So he's contradictory. I would suggest to him, and I would agree with the Member for Port au Port, that if we do not have a sufficient deterrent we will never educate the people. When they get hit and they get hit hard for disposing of old car wrecks, then I would suggest then and only then will we see that kind of practice end.

The hon. Member for Port au Port should know that there are some people now in the garbage disposal business of car wrecks and other white metals who need some support. One of them happens to live in my district and has a permit now to go to Robin Hood Bay and bring in a piece of equipment at a cost of somewhere in the vicinity of $600,000 or $700,000. I think the hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands has just given that individual approval. It can take a whole car chassis and shred it to the size of about a dime or a quarter. It is a grinding machine, and not only will it dispose of cars but it will dispose of stoves, fridges, any metal product unless it is over, I think, three quarters of an inch, an inch, whatever the case might be. It does not have that capability, but it will actually shred all of these metals. Anyway, it is a step in the right direction.

I just want to make some other comments about the all-terrain vehicles. In the Avalon wilderness area this past Summer for a two week period there were a group of people who were supported not only by the federal and provincial government but supported by the Development Corporation. Now, when you think about the Avalon wilderness area we are talking about an area that is really protected and they took out 740 bags of garbage. There were 740 bags of garbage that came out of the Avalon wilderness. Thanks to Mike Nolan this is where there are now thousands of caribou wandering up there and those caribou are very, very dependent on the wetlands.

The Member for Burin - Placentia West is very familiar with that particular area. He spent a lot of time up in that country and he understands and knows too well that caribou depend on the wetlands for their Winter food. Now, I think what we need to do here, and I just make a suggestion to government, is the time has come where these all-terrain vehicles - I saw an article not long ago, Mr. Speaker, where they are forced to put an inverted piece of metal on their tires and as they go over the wetlands it leaves a number, even with the water over it, and any wildlife officer can look, pick off the number like a license plate number and now we know, because they are registered we know who owns that all-terrain vehicle and we can take corrective action.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. MURPHY: Yes, it is true. Again, we have to be careful here because there are a lot of Newfoundlanders who use the all-terrain vehicles to bring firewood and sawlogs, and what have you, out over. In the Wintertime it is not a problem because they do not hurt the wetlands when they are frozen up, as do skidoos, but when the thaw comes then it is a serious problem. That is when a lot of wood is pulled out of the country. It is cut in the Winter and taken out in the Spring. I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture if we had designated routes we would only have a small narrow strip down through a wetland. When I am up in the country a lot I see a lot of young people running around the bogs and what have you and destroying the wetlands. The Premier said five years but it is probably more like 5000 years.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier said 500 years.

MR. MURPHY: Well, 500 years the Premier said, but I am saying 5000 because they just will not come back. Especially here in the wilderness area here on the Avalon we have the largest most southern herd of caribou in the world. If we are going to bring tourists here these are the kind of things we have to be telling people. If we are going to change our resource we are going to have to make sure that the country is clean and there is no plastic. I was in the country not long ago and found an Old Milwaukee beer can and that has been there since the beer strike. The member for Grand Bank is right, you will not find many of those cans down on the Burin Peninsula. There are not many of those beer cans down on the Burin Peninsula but I am sure there are other plastic containers down there, Javex and so forth, from the hard working people on the Burin Peninsula, but they were not much for drinking Old Milwaukee.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. MURPHY: No, I am not saying that. I said they would get out and they use them for mooring buoys and what have you, and they get loose and so forth and so on. The member knows what I am talking about.

Mr. Speaker, I support the Bill but I would suggest that every member in this House, irregardless of their partisan stripe, should ensure that we do not only have an act, Bill 42, to dispose of old car wrecks. Old car wrecks are fine and maybe we will go back, as the Member for St. John's East said, to a system that was put in place by the other Liberal government some years ago where we collected a small fee from everybody, and the Member for St. John's East Extern remembers. He was a much matured adult even in those days. He had to pay his $2 and he knew what it was for.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: The hon. member is right. The reason it did not go anywhere, it went into general revenue. That is what happened to it, but it should be a fund that is laid aside to make sure that we look after our environment. We cannot do enough. It is an area that will give the Newfoundland people an opportunity to grow in, and I think we all understand that.

All hon. members should support this Bill and continue to support other bills associated with the removal - not the removal - to discuss bills that would associate themselves to ensure that Newfoundlanders and foreigners and tourists do not litter this beautiful Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to have a few words on the Bill.

It is not often I agree with every word the Premier says but today I have to say that I agreed with just about every word that the Premier had to say today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words on this Bill because the intent of this Bill is quite good.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you cross the floor?

MR. WINSOR: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not getting ready to cross.

I want to say to the Premier that a Bill of this type is what is badly needed, but to go with it the Premier talked about shredding machines and small mills and so on. What we need in this Province, and we started to do one - we had one in my district last year, called a metallic waste site.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The Member for St. John's South should listen.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am sorry.

MR. WINSOR: What we need to do in this Province, to accompany this piece of legislation, is to have somewhere to dispose of these things to get them away.

In the community where I live there is an area that is being designated as a site for placing car wrecks, and it has become a complete eyesore because of the location of the place. Until we designate acceptable sites that are not going to be out in the public view, so your shredders can come in, or whatever they are called - in fact, in driving back and forth the last month, I do not know if it is just they are highly efficient, but there has been a tractor trailer left on the Roaches Line intersection - that clearing there - for at least the past three weeks -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not the same one?

MR. WINSOR: It is not the same one. It is a different one every week, is it? Every Sunday there seems to be another load of car wrecks in exactly the same spot day after day after day. Whether it is the same one, I was starting to wonder if it was being used as a waste disposal site.

We have to have a number of sites in this Province that are designated as metallic waste sites, and these have to be looked after. We cannot just take car wrecks and throw them off by the side of the road somewhere and say: Okay, this is a waste site and we are going to let this stay here for six months or ten months or a year until the crushers come in and load them on a tractor trailer and take them away, because what we are doing is taking the eyesore from a community and making a bigger one somewhere else. So until we get some acceptable sites in this Province, a Bill like this, while fine in intent, will not accomplish the purpose.

Mr. Speaker, another area - and this legislation does not address it - the Member for St. John's East referred to it, is the idea that many Newfoundlanders have had, for a number of years, of taking - school buses seem to be a particular favourite target - and turning them into campers. They drive them up into the woods of the Province on the forestry access roads, set them up on blocks, and use them as a camper for a number of people. (Inaudible) when this legislation is proclaimed, will these vehicles that are turned into campers now be declared a car wreck? What happens to them? There are a number of them there and this legislation doesn't clearly indicate whether or not these vehicles that are abandoned, if they would be classed as car wrecks.

The other thing the Premier mentioned, and I'm curious about how he's going to enforce it, is that sites that were previously acceptable. Because in a number of communities there were sites where you were allowed to take car wrecks. They used them in the community for a number of years, and all of a sudden it's not acceptable to do so any more. Are these people liable now for the wreck that they put there five years ago when it was acceptable and is not now acceptable? Who's going to clean up the mess that is already there? It needs to be addressed. We have a number of concerns out there, communities which have sites that they want to clean up but don't have the money to do so.

With these few remarks I say that it's a good piece of legislation but we've got to clean up the sites that are presently there. Until we do that this legislation is no good, Mr. Speaker. It will not serve any purpose if we don't clean up the sites that we already have out there in the Province, because we won't (Inaudible) clean up the environment unless we clean up the sites that we've had for ten, twelve, fifteen or twenty years.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly agree with this legislation wholeheartedly. I want to point out to the Premier there's a couple of areas that I'd like for him to perhaps address.

Number one, I'm not like my colleague for Harbour Main. I do have an all-terrain vehicle. I've seen what destruction they can cause. I want to say to the Premier, there's quite a number of Newfoundlanders, including my sons who use those all-terrain vehicles for hauling wood and logs and whatever, and they utilize it even in cutting Christmas trees. I see it as a disgrace what's happening to the bog lands. But when the Premier thinks about it, there are old woods roads out there that were used by our forefathers. There's no problem on those at all. The restrictions have to be placed on the wetlands. There's no doubt about it, we'd better do it and do it soon.

The other thing I wanted to say to the Premier is that as far as the wrecks are concerned, yes, I had nightmares because of when I was mayor down in that small town we did everything. I went door to door at one time and asked people if they'd allow us on their property to remove them.

I ask the Premier, how would you resolve this? We had one man who even put an ad in the paper saying that he'd take wrecks. There were hundreds on his property and he wouldn't allow us to go near them. We went to the courts and had a court order and had the police come with us, open the gate, put in a piece of machinery and two dump trucks, and we hauled all them out of there. We put them in a dump site that we said some time or other we'd have a shredder. There was no shredder available. Anyway, we put them up in this old pit. The next week he was up before court. He had no money. They couldn't do anything with him. He was on welfare. Ten days after that that place was strewn with old cars again. What do you do with that type of person?

Like I say, when the Pope was coming down there I wanted to see that town as clean as possible. I actually went to doors. I couldn't understand for the life of me a person with a $65,000, $70,000 or $100,000 home, and around that home would be three or four old car wrecks. The rationale behind it is just inconceivable.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did the Pope see it?

MR. PARSONS: We did clean it up, but it was costly to the little community. Small town. Mr. Speaker, yes, I for one look - I think it's unbelievable. When you see old wrecks - not alone old wrecks, garbage thrown all over the place, with such a beautiful place to live. It's so disrespectful.

I remember one time I was in with a young fellow, himself and his father and I were back in the country trouting. I'm telling you I've fished in a good many areas in this Province. I always remember that boy, that young man. He was about fifteen. We cooked up a tin of beans or whatever around the stove, three or four tins, and before we left he went to the fireplace and he picked up everything that was there and he put it in a bag and he brought it out of the country and that young man taught me - it sticks in my memory. You know there are people out there environmentally conscious and the only thing with it, all of us are not and that is where the problem lies.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I heard the Premier say today and I listened with intent when he even mentioned about the old garbage disposal areas that we have now and he mentioned Robin Hood Bay and I would like for the Premier to address it. For many, many years septic waste was thrown in Robin Hood Bay, now I did not see at the time, I was influenced too with the propaganda but I do not see today what that septic waste really did to Robin Hood Bay. But, Mr. Speaker, what we did, we eliminated Robin Hood Bay. Now the people were having their septic tanks cleaned out, and there are a lot of them on the northeast Avalon, at a cost of about $125.00. This is what it would cost to have your tank pumped out. Mr. Speaker, what happens now is the people are forced, because Robin Hood Bay will not accept it, we have no other area, they are forced now to bring it to this plant. The escalation is 400 per cent, from $125.00 to nearly $500.00. There are people out there who do not have the $500.00. They have not got it. It is an expense that they just cannot afford.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the Premier that I had a call and I went and visited an area where a man - he had no resources to pay the $500.00 and he told me the only thing that he was going to do was he was going to dig a hole and bucket it out of his tank, which he did, he dug the hole. I am saying to the Premier, that this time of year, there are still those problems existing. What they are doing now, to add injury to the environment, is dumping it indiscreetly on the sides of the roads or whatever. Now, there is no way you can dig a hole after November in the Province, I do not know what the solution is. I suggested very strongly not being on the political vein either that some kind of subsidization should be used for poor people who cannot afford it. But what I am saying to you, Mr. Speaker and to the Premier, is there has to be a solution for this type of waste. It is going to be thrown all over the countryside and we talk about wrecks, we talk about old beer bottles, but I do not think that there is anything worse. I say to the Premier I hope that he will address it. Perhaps there is a means, perhaps there is some kind of subsidization that we could use only to the people that cannot afford to have their tanks cleaned out. With that, Mr. Speaker, I say it is a real good Bill and I hope that the Premier can perhaps implement a couple of the suggestions and I thank you very much.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am only going to take a very brief moment to address something that has not been addressed by either one of the speakers this afternoon. Every point most of the speakers made, except for the Member for St. John's East, have been very valid points. Mr. Speaker, you can have all the legislation that you have, and it can be all the absolute correct legislation if there is nobody to enforce it, and this is what we have to address, the legislation is ideal, it is correct in every form and every person in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador knows full well how many car wrecks are being left on properties, adjacent, clear to the visible eye along highways but the question is who enforces it?

The RCMP driving along the highway will see a car wreck, will they go in and charge the person, will the town councils in the area charge the person, will the local service district? So what is the point of legislation unless there is somebody to enforce it, somebody wearing the badge as the hon. minister just said, that is correct and if it is left up to just maybe environmental officers, does environment have enough staff to go out and legislate? And if you drive out in my district, driving down through Roaches Line is a prime example of what is happening.

There are three major areas on Roaches Line. One person has scrapped cars right on the side of the road and it is a mess clear and visible to the eye and it really looks disgraceful. About a quarter-of-a-mile up the road, there is a guy who just does not care about anything and he has car wrecks strewn all over the place. That has been there for quite awhile.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who cleans it up?

MR. EFFORD: Who cleans it up, or who tells the guy he has to clean it up? Mr. Speaker, that is something that is not addressed in this piece of legislation, and that is something that must be done. I just bring it to the attention of the House that it has to be dealt with and this legislation needs to be deal with immediately. It is not listed here so I mention it, Mr. Speaker, for the record just to make that a clear point.

Thank you.

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

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

I will not be very long. It seems people are anxious to get out of here and get on with the legislation, but they should be anxious to do their job in this House of Assembly, to debate legislation, particularly legislation that affects our environment. I consider this to be probably the most important legislation we can be doing in this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I was only going to take a couple of minutes but first of all, I want to congratulate the Member for Port de Grave, because that is the basic issue of this legislation. If you cannot enforce it, you can bring in all the rules and regulations you have now; we have lots of rules and regulations on the book, both in our Environmental Act and Highway Traffic act, that, dissuade or do not allow people to abandon car wrecks in this Province.

The legislation is there today, the problem is enforcement. We are not enforcing it. This legislation here, does nothing for enforcement, nothing for extra people on staff with the Department of Environment and Lands. I will try not to be negative, I will make a suggestion, that all of the inspectors or the superintendents or all of the highway workers should be given the proper training and then be allowed to enforce some of these regulations. We have people going around this Province daily who are involved with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation or even the wildlife officers, or even the Department of Finance people, anyone who is an inspector or enforcer of some regulations in this Province.

We have the bodies but we have to give them the training and we have to give them the authority to go and do something about it, even if it is just the authority, if one of those inspectors, whoever it is, working for any department of government, see someone throw a wreck anywhere, they can at least take out a ticket, the same as a policeman would if I had parked in the wrong place, it could be a $50,000 ticket, but a ticket and write out a summary conviction or a ticket right there on the spot.

Now we have people in the system who can do it but they have not authority to do it. I can drive by some of the inspectors for the Department of Highways tomorrow with a wreck on the back of my car and he will look at me and turn his head the other way, and I can go wherever I like with that wreck and discard it. But the thing that really astonishes me, the people who throw these wrecks in the hardest possible places in the world to bring them, where it would be easier to bring them to a dump. They have to get them in a car, they have to get them on the back of a truck somehow, and once you get this thing on the back of a truck or on something that is movable if it is a car wreck, why bring it up five miles up an old woods road and throw it off the truck, why not take it two miles to the dump? I do not understand what the problem is.

At one time the problem was that dumps would not accept it, so that might be another change we have to make, where all community dumps or whatever you call them now, waste disposal areas I think, but all the community dumps have to accept them; that is another regulation. When you have that at the back of your truck, the old car wreck that comes out of your yard, and you have it on the back of your truck, it is easier to go to a waste disposal area with it if they will accept it than it is to go up some woods road and try to push it off the back of your truck into the woods.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a problem in that area where people who wish to dispose of them properly do not know what to do with them or do not know where to bring them. There is a problem in not having enough enforcement officers who see people illegally disposing of car wrecks, not being able to enforce it themselves and I think that we should allow some of our people who work in the departments now, any inspectors, any enforcement officers we have working for all our departments now, to be allowed to go and issue some type of a summons or ticket or warrant for their arrest. I do not know how you would do it but that is what has to be done.

The fact that we have a good piece of legislation on the books in this Legislature is nothing. It can be the best legislation in the world but it will not be worth the paper it is written on unless we decide to enforce it. Mr. Speaker, if we do not enforce it then it is just as well to forget it. Car wrecks are a big problem and a nuisance. The Member for Port de Grave mentioned two sites out in his area, well one site in my area and one in the area of the Member for St. John's South, look untidy when you pass by. They seem to be in the middle of the view because they grew there when they started, but at least it is all in the one place. I will say that for it, the two salvage operations that are in this northeast Avalon area, or my area at least, one in Kilbride and one in Shea Heights, at least they get the cars in one area and every now and then they are taken away, these crush operations come in to do it.

The operator on Shea Heights has been trying desperately to get some assistance from one or the other of the assisting agencies to set up a shredding company but he cannot get anywhere with it. I do not know what his problem is. I have not had a chance to talk to him. I would imagine the Member for St. John's South has been talking to him. He wants to set up a shredding operation. That is what we need. We need one in this area and we need several around. He cannot get off the ground with it. The City of St. John's gave him some trouble with it for awhile but that is all straightened away now. He has the experience, but again like many businesses in Newfoundland he does not have the working capital to get this business in operation. That should be a part of our legislation, to be able to help people set up the proper disposal facilities which would be crushers to be stationed around the Province, or it would be a shredding company. You need one shredding operation in the Province and you need probably a dozen crushing operations in the Province. You can crush them and bring them to that shredder and they will dispose of them.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the former Minister of Education on his job in the classroom on the environment. It is very important. It is also very important that we continue to educate everyone about environmental issues, particularly car wrecks. They are hollow words, Mr. Speaker. When you hear what the Premier said today they ring awful hollow in my ears when I see a company which wants to bring garbage from the United States into this Province and we do not have a policy, our government in this Province does not have a policy to dissuade immediately any acceptance of garbage from outside the Province. This legislation might be good and what the Premier said about it might be the best thing in the world but it rings hollow in my ears when we have, not one, but two different companies looking to dump garbage in our Province. There should be a policy that we will not accept the garbage, period. What odds about what regulations are in the books or who you allow to make proposals. Make a policy. Any government can have a policy that we will not accept garbage from outside areas. Our environmental regulations can still stand on the books. If our policy is we will not take garbage from outside our Province, car wrecks or anything else, that is our policy and we will not have people coming here trying to take advantage of our desperate need for employment, our desperate need for work for people in this Province, so that they can dump their garbage in our Province.

Mr. Speaker, as good as this piece of legislation is I am surprised that the Premier introduced it because he is the one who has total control as to whether or not garbage comes into this Province from the Eastern Seaboard States. This legislation, as good as it might be, is useless unless we can enforce it.

Thank you.

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

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be very, very brief. I want to ensure the House that I enthusiastically support this Bill. I very enthusiastically support what the Premier said about the preservation and enhancement of our environment, particularly what he said about environmental education. I assure members opposite that most of us on this side of the House believe this is just the first of many initiatives in this area, some before the election and many thers after the next election, that we will bring in.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to use a quotation here, and I would commend this to members of the House and perhaps recommend that all citizens of this Province consider a quotation that I read some years ago. I hope I have it right, and I am going to conclude my speech with this. Mr. Speaker, the quotation reads as follows: We don't inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Mr. Speaker, that says a great deal about the importance of this Bill and others of similar nature. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about this piece of legislation, because I believe it is flawed. I do believe there are things that need to be done with this piece of legislation on three fronts: On the fact, Mr. Speaker, that the disposal sites are not identified, and we need to clear up the ambiguity that is there right now. I know in our small communities along the coast of Labrador, we have had some sites that have been turned down to receive some particular types of garbage. Certainly, car wrecks have, in the past, been refused entry to some of the disposal sites by Environment, Mr. Speaker. I think that that issue has to be dealt with, and it has to be dealt with to the satisfaction of the small municipalities out there.

Apart from the specifications of the site, Mr. Speaker, I think that the financial incentive must be looked at to ensure that these small communities have the ability to put these sites in place. I would like to concur with the hon. member for St. John's East on that particular issue, Mr. Speaker, because I believe it is incumbent upon the government, not only to wave the big stick and tell the small communities out there that: You have to do this. I think it is incumbent upon the government to provide some kind of assistance to see that these sites are developed. Because it is just recently that the Labrador Agreement was able to put some sites in place. We haven't been able to do them all on the coast of Labrador and, certainly, all of them are not necessary for cars, because in some parts of the riding over half of it, of course, is not even serviced by a road. But in the areas in the Labrador Straits we need to get this particular issue dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, the other aspect of it, as the member for Port de Grave has also very eloquently enunciated, is the enforcement. I agree totally with the member for Port de Grave and concur with the member for Kilbride, that this legislation is useless unless it can be enforced. If we can't see the people out there actually moving and getting this thing cleared up - how many times are we going to come back here and amend legislation, have it on the books and say that it is abhorrent, but at the end of the day we know that we are not going to be able to see those eyesores removed. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, everybody recoils at the sights by our roadsides. I notice, certainly in my area, we have had some tremendous difficulty in municipalities, in particular, having real problems trying to get this issue enforced, as they have the jurisdiction to do so.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a final comment on the issue of the importation of garbage into Labrador. I haven't had a chance, up to this point, to express my views on it, but I want to categorically state here today that I am opposed to any garbage being brought into Labrador by Hollinger or any other company in this Province or this country, Mr. Speaker. We will not stand for it. We have, in Labrador, an environment that up to this point is untouched. We have to do something about the site in the Torngat area, to see that site cleaned up that has been left for so long, and some of the others that have been down there that we still haven't put our proper attention to, to see that they are cleared up and to see that environment is protected, especially as we move to getting national parks in Labrador.

We have to be more aggressive at seeing that these sites that are contaminating our environment and our rivers - and also the importation of garbage is something that I have always adamantly been opposed to, and I would certainly like to make people in Labrador aware of the fact that I am here today to say to them that we support them in their total objection to it. I would hope that certainly any time that a proposal comes to this hon. House that all members will see fit to reject it forthright.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to use this opportunity to indicate the things that I see wrong with this piece of legislation, while at the same time welcoming again the initiative and the general thrust of the Bill. I believe that it certainly needs some fine tuning and I would hope that the debate this evening has inspired the respective minister to have a look at the legislation again and hopefully before it goes through the House we can see some appropriate amendments.

Thank you very much.

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

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

I assure the Premier that I will be very short and brief; however, I want to support this particular piece of legislation and I am quite pleased that pretty well every member who has spoken today has shown support in this kind of initiative.

Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Eagle River mentioned about the problem that we have in Labrador as it pertains to our environment. One of our biggest problems in Labrador is our vastness. We have helicopter pilots, small aircraft pilots - in particular from May month until September month when it is prime time for fishing - going all over Labrador, all over our country up there, and there is garbage left behind. It is unfortunate. I believe that it should be mandatory for the operators of the aircraft, of the helicopters, and also of small boats that they should clean up the mess that they were responsible for having there in the first place.

I visited a little place called Okak, north of Nain, about two years ago, and between Okak and Hebron I had the opportunity, when I was flying over, I saw all of those oil drums down on the beach. I would say there were probably about 50 or 60 old, rusty oil drums down on the beach. So I stopped and tried to find out who owned the oil drums, to see if I could find any particular name on them. I could not find it, so I started checking around, came back and went to the Department of Mines and Energy. They did not know anything about it. I went to National Defence. They did not know anything about it. Up until today those 50, 60 or 70 oil drums are still on the beach north of Okak. These drums were brought in there years ago by an agency of government. Whether it was the federal government or the provincial government at the time, it was brought in there by departments of government and when they were emptied by the users of the aircraft, the drums were left there because it was too expensive to carry them out. This is the problem. This is one of the biggest problems we have in Labrador - government employees - government employees who are working in remote areas.

If we want to bring this Bill in, the first lesson that we should give is to our own employees who are working in the remote areas of Labrador and, Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Eagle River, I think, has said it very well, that we need an education process. An education process begins here with us, but it also has to go through the civil service, particularly, those people we engaged to work on the Coast of Labrador.

MS. VERGE: We should have waste paper baskets, you know.

MR. WARREN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, talking about the cleaning up of our environment, how many times have we mentioned having in the House of Assembly waste paper baskets that we can throw our own paper in, but we don't even have that yet, or recycling, and we have been asking for these since the House opened. So, we are not practising what we are preaching.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to bringing garbage into Labrador, from the U.S. or from anywhere else, my hon. colleague from Menihek is on record as saying he is completely against it and my hon. colleague from Eagle River has said he is completely against it. I read in the paper that my hon. friend from Naskaupi may be against it or maybe not because, naturally, as a member of Cabinet, he has to wait and see what is going to transpire with the review. However, I want to be categorically loud and clear, Mr. Speaker, that as surely as I was a strong opponent against the incinerator at Long Harbour, which I still am, I am just as strong an opponent or stronger of outside garbage being brought into Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say to the Premier, I welcome this bill, but let's practice what we preach and let's start with ourselves.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

If he speaks now he will close the debate.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I want to address some of the concerns that have been raised. Some of them appear to have some merit, many of them do not. I don't understand this concern about enforcement - of course, it is going to be enforced. We enforce all the laws of the Province. Why should somebody assume that it won't be enforced? It is completely and totally illogical. I don't see any logic in it. But just let me raise the points more or less as they arose.

The hon. the Member for Harbour Main expressed concern about the question of being abandoned on private property and whether or not they would be included, because many people think if you abandon your wreck on your private property it is okay. The key word, if you look at the offence is 'abandon'. Now, if it is abandoned on your property, or abandoned on the side of the road or abandoned anywhere, as a motor vehicle, it is abandoned. '...shall not abandon that motor vehicle in the Province' - no longer functioning, it is a rusting hulk, anywhere, it is an abandoned motor vehicle. It doesn't matter that it is on your own property, it is still an abandoned motor vehicle, I would think. If it needs something to make it clearer, in the ordinary course this may be able to be done. Much of - in areas where there are municipal corporations, of course, then municipalities can regulate the appearance of property so that that problem is largely dealt with there, but the key is 'abandons'. Not 'where' - there are no exceptions - if you abandon it as a motor vehicle, it is abandoned, period, I would suggest to you.

The other question the hon. member raised was: Does the fine apply to each vehicle? The answer is clearly, yes. Look again at section 24(1): "a person who is the owner of a motor vehicle, in the province and any other person shall not abandon that motor vehicle". So, it is each one specifically and each one would constitute, in my judgement, a separate offense. So I don't think there is any problem there.

The member for St. John's East made a point of suggesting 'a carrot as well as a stick', and frankly I don't think hon. members took his point seriously enough. We did, in fact, consider that proposal of imposing an additional burden on - at the time that the automobile is purchased of requiring a deposit fund to be made of say, $200 and put into a deposit account and when the car was ultimately, properly disposed of, in a disposal field, whoever did it got that $200 back. So, there is the carrot. We are looking at the possibility of putting that regime in place, as well as the penalty, because we think it is a good idea. The particular value that we saw to it, is as you look at the chain, frequently the person who purchases a new automobile has greater means, has the ability to pay the $200 that it may take to dispose of it; whereas, as the automobile gets older and it goes down the chain, the person who buys the older automobile is usually the person of lesser means and has lesser ability to properly dispose of it.

So we are particularly attracted to using the carrot, because we think it may be beneficial from that point of view. But that is under consideration at this time, and it may well be that we will think about putting this in place. Right at this time, in our present economic circumstances, it would be an additional burden that I am not sure would be right to put in place.

The hon. the Member for Fogo thinks we ought to clean up the sites that are already there. I agree. I talked to him about Robin Hood Bay and Wild Cove, but those are just examples. There are all sorts of other dump sites all over the Province.

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible) car wrecks.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, I agree. There are all sorts of sites all over the Province where car wrecks are abandoned all over the place.

The Member for St. John's East Extern raised a question. I am having difficulty picking out my notes here now. He had a bit of a problem with the night soil being deposited in Robin Hood Bay. Well, in this legislation we are not attempting to solve all the world's problems and make it perfect. I realize that there are a variety of other environmental problems that still need to be addressed and the government will continue to address those.

The Member for Port de Grave, the Member for Kilbride and the Member for Eagle River thought there were defects. I disagree with them. I think they are wrong on their suggestion that there are defects in the legislation. I don't see why anybody should assume that steps will not be taken to enforce the legislation. We intend to see that the legislation is enforced, that is why we are putting it into place, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for Eagle River talked about unavailability of sites to deposit wrecks. It is difficult to enforce such legislation if you cannot say to an individual who wants to dispose of an automobile, we cannot tell that person where they can dispose of it. So, clearly, we have to take steps to do that.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good piece of legislation. I am happy to see that it received such widespread support, and I thank hon. members for their comments. In particular, I draw hon. members' attention again to the very brief but most effective speech of the Member for St. John's North. Don't forget his statement: 'We didn't inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrowed it from our children.'

That is a very telling and very effective statement, and if all of us would think in those terms -

AN HON. MEMBER: Whom did he quote?

PREMIER WELLS: He can't remember whom he quoted. He says he remembers hearing it from somewhere else. He is not a plagiarist -he doesn't claim it for himself.

DR. WARREN: I think, Sir, it was a native Canadian who said it; logically it could have been a native Canadian.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't know who it was, but he acknowledges that credit is due elsewhere. I give him credit for reminding us and for recognizing that all it was necessary to say in this debate was to say just that: We didn't inherit the land from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our children - and let's treat it accordingly.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act (No. 2)," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 42).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House not rise at 5:00 p.m. and may I, at the same time, Sir, ask whether hon. members on all sides are prepared to consent to having tomorrow to be a -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, it is not.

I ask whether members on all sides are prepared to consent to tomorrow being a government day as opposed to a Private Members' Day, and the proposal would be that we would rise not later than 6:00 p.m. tomorrow because I understand His Honour has asked us all to a glass of cranberry juice at the rising of the House tomorrow.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I became the Leader of the Liberal - the New Democratic -

AN HON. MEMBER: You only wish! You only wish!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: I became the Leader of the New Democratic Party on 14 November of this year. Prior to that time, I had no difficulty speaking in the House on Ministerial Statements when the occasion arose to do so. Since then, I have been denied that leave by government backbenchers. If the position of the government members is that I am a private member of the House, then it would be very unconscionable for me to give up Private Members' Day. That seems to be the day they want to reserve for private members and I would not be willing to give unanimous consent to that at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

You have heard the motion that the House not rise at five.

All those in favour of the motion, `Aye'; contrary, `Nay'. Carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I suggest that you call Motion No. 2, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 2, the hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This won't take very long. I just want to speak briefly to the issue.

As all hon. members will recall, when the former Chief Electoral Officer resigned, we were in the process of bringing in new legislation. We have since brought in that new legislation and, although it has not yet been proclaimed, there is a bill now before the House to make a minor amendment that will allow for appropriate proclamation of portions of it, at least, to allow us to phase it in in an orderly way.

The government felt, Mr. Speaker, even though the Chief Electoral Officer had resigned and the government had the right to appoint a new Chief Electoral Officer under the existing legislation, that it would be inappropriate for us to make that appointment at this stage knowing that we are going to bring in this new legislation and that we would only make an appointment of a new Chief Electoral Officer in a manner that would meet with the approval of the House. So, even though we are not required to bring this motion before the House in order to make the appointment, I am bringing the motion, Mr. Speaker, in order to obtain the expression of the opinion of the whole House on the matter.

At the time that the government made the particular appointment of Mr. Wayne Mitchell to be the Chief Electoral Officer, I consulted the Leader of the Opposition before making the appointment to ask his view on it. He immediately, without hesitation, indicated that such an appointment would meet with his approval and he felt confident that it would meet with the approval of the entire Opposition caucus.

I attempted to contact the hon. the Member for St. John's East but he was busily engaged in another rather personal activity at the time. I think he was away on his honeymoon and so was unable to be reached. I did, in his absence, talk to Mr. Newhook, and had an expression of opinion from him that it would meet with the approval of the New Democratic Party. So, Mr. Speaker, we felt confident in making the appointment, as the government, and that it would be an acceptable appointment having had those discussions. Now, however, I think it is appropriate to seek the formal approbation of the House.

Mr. Speaker, the new Elections Act was a commitment that we made during the last election campaign, and it is one of the commitments that we are very proud of. I think that anybody who is prepared to look at the new Elections Act objectively, as hon. members did at the time it was passed - and they expressed their views on it then - will realize and acknowledge that it is an act that not only corrects the anomalies in the detailed day-to-day conduct of an election to correct any procedural defects and to make the conduct of an election more efficient and more effective. The key thing that it does is provide for a reasonably effective way of managing political activity in the Province. Mr. Speaker, we think that was important. We think that was the key reform. The purpose and objective of the legislation was to achieve the regulation of the political side of the electoral process as well as the procedural side, to ensure that we could in the future conduct political activity in the Province in a fair and honest way and that merely because you are in government and you had the forces of government arrayed at your disposal you did not have the means of creating a preferential position for your party during the conduct of an election.

It also provides, Mr. Speaker, for a reasonably fair means of financing and controlling the financing of the political process. Everybody realizes that it is rather more easy perhaps for governing parties to raise funds to support political activity than it is for opposition parties. We experienced it and I have heard hon. members opposite recently talk about the state of their financial affairs, and I have some considerable understanding for the difficulties they are experiencing at this time. We understand their difficulty being in debt as a party and so on and we want to make sure that nothing is done to impair their ability to compete fairly in the next provincial election. That is one of the objectives of this. We do not want to make it a cakewalk for them. We are going to give them a good fight, I can assure them of that, but the good fight will be conducted under fair rules and fair procedures. That is the purpose of this, Mr. Speaker. Lest anybody think that we are being entirely altruistic I have to confess that I can see that sometime during the next century we are likely to be in opposition again and we want to be -

AN HON. MEMBER: The next century?

PREMIER WELLS: Sometime during the next century. Perhaps it will be well into the first quarter or the middle of it. I do not know how long it might be but sometime well into the next century we may even find ourselves in opposition again.

AN HON. MEMBER: You will be in opposition in Ottawa before that.

PREMIER WELLS: You never know what might happen. Mr. Speaker, I want to confess that this is not entirely an altruistic motive. We think it is fair. We are providing for fairness and making sure that the opposition parties will have a chance to participate fairly in the conduct of the next election and that everybody engaged in it conducts the operation in a fair and honest way. It controls the financing, Mr. Speaker, and ensures that we will have a good and fair political process. Now, the ability to do this, the ability to achieve that kind of fair political organization and fair management of the political process in this Province is entirely dependent upon - well, it is dependent in part on the will of the government to bring the legislation forward, but once that has been done it will be largely dependent upon the competence, fairness, honesty, and integrity of the Chief Electoral Officer, so that appointment was key.

Now, I must confess that I had a number of representations from people with political backgrounds in the opposition side, on the government side, on the third party side who wanted this position, who made representations to me about their desire to be appointed to this position.

AN HON. MEMBER: What position?

PREMIER WELLS: The position of Chief Electoral Officer. I did not say a member sitting over there. I said persons with a background associated with members sitting in the official opposition, a person with a background associated with the member sitting as the third party, and I said exactly the same thing to each and every one that made representation. Having brought forward this legislation with a commitment to ensure that we would provide for fair, objective and honest management of the political process and the electoral process in the Province, the government would defeat the entire purpose of it if we appointed to that position somebody with a direct political background, so we sought out a person who would supervise this transition, would not only have the ability to supervise the transition period, which will be difficult, but who would have all the other characteristics essential to ensure that we can put this into effect and have it work properly. That, Mr. Speaker, requires unquestioned competence. It will be a major task to put in place new regulations and new procedures and new processes that will enable all aspects of this Bill to be fully implemented. It will require unquestioned integrity; unquestioned integrity and political independence.

It will require the dedication of an individual who is prepared to be politically incorruptible and not be influenced by the government in power, by the Opposition, will not, Mr. Speaker, make a decision because it appears to be advantageous to the government or to the governing power, but, Mr. Speaker, equally important, will not make a decision that would be contrary to the interest of the party in power, merely to be seen to be fair to the other side, because as much unfairness and damage can be done in that way as done in direct favouritism. So, Mr. Speaker, we wanted somebody with a track record that would demonstrate that kind of competence, that kind of political integrity, that kind of fairness and objectivity and that kind of honesty, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TOBIN: How about me?

PREMIER WELLS: - somebody who would be politically incorruptible, so I obviously have excluded the hon. member for Burin -Placentia West

AN HON. MEMBER: Ruled out the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

PREMIER WELLS: - ruled out the Member for Burin - Placentia.

Mr. Speaker, we think we found the person who can fill that bill, who can oversee the transition from the process that presently exists to the new process that the Bill provides for, and we think we have found it in the person of Mr. Wayne Mitchell.

Now, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Mitchell's background and competence are reasonably well known. He holds a bachelors degree and a masters degree from Memorial University in economics and political science, so he has a good understanding of the basic political process as well as the running of an economy of the Province. He came first to public life as a federal public servant for a couple of years I believe, then he came to the government in this Province as a public finance economist. He subsequently was an intergovernmental negotiator and assistant secretary to Cabinet for social policy within the Executive Council until 1987. In 1987, he was appointed a deputy minister in the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and later in the Department of Public Works and Services.

When government changed, Mr. Speaker, that was the role that he held, as deputy minister in the Department of Public Works and Services, and although it has not been widely known, I have to say that during the course of transition of government, he provided a great deal of information and advice, he with certain other senior public servants that provided for the orderly transition. We then, Mr. Speaker, asked him to undertake a special task, to become the chief executive officer of the Workers' Compensation Commission and work to try and correct some of the massive problems that existed in that organization.

He has done an excellent job during his tenure of office there. He is an individual who has demonstrated a willingness and a determination to abide fairly by the rules and not to be unduly swayed one way or the other, and we think that that is a characteristic that is particularly suited to this new position. I am absolutely delighted, Mr. Speaker, and it speaks volumes for the character of the individual that when I proposed his name to both the Leader of the Opposition and to the then Leader of the New Democratic Party, there was an immediate positive response, so I think, Mr. Speaker, that that speaks very highly for the level of confidence that the members of this House have in the individual.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is not often that such an individual can sit in the gallery of this House and hear such comments made about the person. I am happy to point out that Mr. Mitchell is sitting in the galleries and he is hearing these comments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: I am delighted that he is here to hear it, not only because he can go away with a high level of confidence that all members of this House support his nomination, but also, Mr. Speaker, so that he can hear what is expected of him, not alone from the things I have said, but I have no doubt from things that other members of this House will say, the kind of independence and objectivity and fair management and competent handling of the political as well as the electoral process of this Province. Because while this is an Elections Act and a revised Elections Act, it might also be described as a political process management act, because that is essentially what it will be doing, providing for the fair and proper management of the political process of this Province. For the first time in our history as a Province, there has been a reasonable level of regulation of the political process.

I think, Mr. Speaker, it has been overdue, but I think also, Mr. Speaker, that when it goes into effect and when the rules and procedures are put into effect, hon. members will be able to speak with great pride that this House generated and put into place legislation that takes second place to no other such legislation in this country in terms of the fair and objective management of the political process.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pride that I ask hon. members to support this resolution and give formal approval, although not technically legally required, but to give the formal approbation of this House of Assembly to the appointment of Mr. Wayne Mitchell as the Chief Electoral Officer for the Province.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In supporting this resolution, I have nothing very much to add to the remarks already made by the Leader of the official Opposition in commenting on the suitability of Wayne Mitchell to be the Chief Electoral Officer of the Province.

The Premier was correct in consulting the party leaders, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the Leader of the official Opposition, and the Leader of the New Democratic Party. Because if the Province's Chief Electoral Officer is to perform his duties properly he must have the full confidence of all parties and all candidates.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier spoke about the need for the Chief Electoral Officer to be impartial. I would certainly underline the importance of the Chief Electoral Officer treating all parties and all candidates evenly and fairly. When I hear the Premier use the words, fairness and balance, I am somewhat sceptical because his application of those adjectives to other actions of the government have corrupted those words. Fairness and balance no longer mean to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador what they used to mean.

In this particular instance, Mr. Speaker, we in the official Opposition are supporting the resolution for the appointment of Wayne Mitchell as the Province's Chief Electoral Officer. Some of us who were members of the previous administration worked with Mr. Mitchell when he was a member of the staff of the Executive Council. He served for a few years as assistant secretary of the Cabinet in charge of social policy. In that role he provided analysis and commentary to the Cabinet on education, health, social services and justice initiatives. Some of us also worked with him when he was briefly deputy minister of Municipal Affairs and deputy minister of Public Works. Over the past three years, many members on both sides of the House have had reason to communicate with Mr. Mitchell in his role as CEO of the Workers' Compensation Commission.

The job of Chief Electoral Officer is a difficult and demanding one. The role has been made more complex because of the requirements of the adjustment to the new legislation. We understand that with the Bill printed and distributed yesterday the government will be phasing in the new legislation, staging the coming into force of the new Act. The Chief Electoral Officer will have to preside over the administration of the new requirements in the Act. That will be a tricky job, a difficult job.

We in the official Opposition wish Mr. Mitchell well in the exercise of his duties and responsibilities as Chief Electoral Officer. We have confidence in his impartiality. We hope that the adjustment to the new legislation over the next year or so will go smoothly. It will be interesting to see how all of this works in the next election. The next election, of course, may come at any time. The Premier tantalized us earlier today. We may not sit as a Legislature beyond Christmas. Another election may intervene and when we come back many roles will be reversed. Members now sitting to the right of the Speaker will be sitting to the left of the Speaker. So the Premier was quite correct in saying that the government has a vested interest in ensuring that the Chief Electoral Officer is impartial. Because the people who are members of the government today in a few short months may find that they're defeated, or a few of them may be re-elected as members of the opposition.

In conclusion, we in the official Opposition support this resolution. Our Leader, the Leader of the official Opposition, publicly expressed his appreciation of Mr. Mitchell's qualifications and his suitability for the position when the appointment was first announced by the Premier. I should point out that the Leader of the Opposition regrets that he can't be here this afternoon to participate in this debate. The Leader of the Opposition is home trying to recoup from a particularly nasty bout of the flu. Have no fear though, he will be back.

We support this resolution calling for the appointment of Mr. Mitchell as Chief Electoral Officer, and we wish Mr. Mitchell well in his carrying out of the challenging responsibilities of that office. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, this will probably be a once in a lifetime agreement between me and the Premier. I agree wholeheartedly with the appointment of Wayne Mitchell. I've known him for quite some time. It's a good appointment, and I congratulate the Premier for appointing him.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of the motion by the Premier to put in place Mr. Wayne Mitchell as the Chief Electoral Officer under the new Elections Act. Actually, under the old Elections Act for now. But in doing so I want to refer to Section 5 of the Act which sets out the duties - this is of the Bill, I suppose, I guess it's the Act now, but it's not been made into force yet. Section 5 of the Act says: it is the duty of the Chief Electoral Officer to exercise direction and supervision over the conduct of elections and to enforce on the part of election officers fairness, impartiality and compliance with this Act.

I think I have to say two things about the appointment of Wayne Mitchell to the post. Number one is that it's my belief - shared clearly by the Premier and by the official Opposition - that Mr. Wayne Mitchell is certainly qualified by his character and his experience to be able to conduct his office with the degree of fairness and impartiality that is required. I have known Mr. Mitchell for some time in my professional capacity as a lawyer in appearing, in fact, before him amongst others in a tribunal and also having some knowledge of him through mutual friends and colleagues in the legal profession. He is known to be a man of fairness, of great competence and knowledge of government and government affairs.

I think it is important to note that all sides of the House were consulted on this and when I heard from the Leader of the New Democratic Party, Mr. Cle Newhook, that Mr. Mitchell was the proposed appointee, it immediately met with my concurrence and approval and I think it is a good start to the introduction of what is quite a revolutionary change in the control of elections and the operations of the Chief Electoral Office.

I say, Mr. Speaker, also that the new Act sees to it that the budget for the Chief Electoral Office and for the elections office in general is controlled through the Internal Economy Commission of this House - through the office of the Speaker. All parties participating in the Internal Economy Commission have a role to play in the budget of the estimates and the sums that are required to be provided by this Legislature for the payment of salaries, allowances and expenses of the office of the Chief Electoral Officer under this Act.

I think that is a positive thing which is a remarkable change from the past when it was solely the government involved in preparing and approving the estimates for a particular department. That is a departure which I think is welcome for an office that is supposed to have the means to carry out the impartial conduct of elections.

It is a very important office, Mr. Speaker, so the first thing that I say about Mr. Mitchell is that he is ideally suited by reasons of the confidence that people have in him to conduct this role fairly and impartially. Secondly, by his experience in government and administration he is also suited because of the complexities and the importance of the duties that are involved.

This is a quite complex piece of legislation. The application of this legislation to individual circumstances and facts is going to require a great deal of judgement, of discretion, of consideration, of differing circumstances, and yet to try to apply the same measure of impartiality and fairness to each and every one of them in the various circumstances that are going to come about, in the various types of districts that we have - rural and urban - and on the very many occasions when there is going to be a great deal of conflict and disagreement over how a rule might be applied or interpreted during an election campaign, even on the very day of an election.

It is a big job and I think we have chosen a big man to fill the job. I wish him well in the position and I want him to be assured that he has the confidence of this Party as well as the Liberal Party and the official opposition, the Conservative Party, in the conduct of his duties.

I, in conclusion, say that I support the motion put forth by the government and I ask all hon. members to do so as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the motion please say 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, 'nay'.


MR. SPEAKER: In my opinion the 'ayes' have it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, Order 31, Bill No. 41. That is the companion to the wrecks bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 41.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act (No. 2)". (Bill No. 41).

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, two of the amendments in this particular Bill relate to the Bill that was previously debated here in the House today. Clause 1 of the Bill makes it an offense for a person to remove the serial number from a motor vehicle and Clause 3 of the Bill provides for the penalty for that particular offense. The reason why it is necessary to create that offence of course is in order to determine who the last registered owner of a vehicle is there must be some identification on the vehicle and the most appropriate identification is the serial number. Currently it is not an offense, I understand, to remove the serial number and therefore the creation of this offense is necessary to support the enforcement of the provisions which were recently debated in the House.

Clause 2 of the Bill is designed to clarify an ambiguity in that particular section of the Highway Traffic Act which requires a report where injury or death to a person results or the damage is greater than $1000.00. Right now the Highway Traffic Act requires a report but it does not specify a written report although it has been the long standing understanding of the law enforcement agencies in the Province that the report required under the Highway Traffic Act was a written report. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have requested this amendment to standardize the procedure for the reporting of motor vehicle accidents. What is done here is to specify that the report that is required must be a written report.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GOVER: No for accidents greater than $1000.00. Apparently in September 25th, 1992 a matter related to this section, went to trial in the Provincial Court and the person there was charged with failing to make a report and the person's defence was that he in fact had made the report by calling the detachment and that defence was upheld. So, the purpose of this amendment is to specify that the report must be in writing as opposed to being an oral communication and that is the reason for Clause 2 of the Bill. So, Mr. Speaker, in summary Clause 1 and Clause 3 relate to the previous Bill that was under discussion and Clause 2 was to make it expressed that the report required would be a written report. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, as it pertains to the identification number, serial number on a motor vehicle, I think that is overdue because we are having a great number of vehicles now that have been and are stolen and the serial number is erased one way or the other. We are also, Mr. Speaker, not alone within the Province but I believe that it is common knowledge that vehicles have come in from outside the Province, where people are using those vehicles which were stolen vehicles from other provinces and have been sent in here, sold, in this Province. Again the serial numbers are not there but the buyer of those vehicles - I mean it is his responsibility now. If he has a vehicle now, with no serial number than he is submitted to this piece of legislation. That was not there before and I think it is a good thing and I think that again it is overdue because I think we are getting more of that and it is time to put a halt to it.

Mr. Speaker, that is Clause 1 and Clause 3. The other one, Mr. Speaker, I do not have any problem with it but the only thing with it, say a verbal report, there are no time limitations in it, when does this report have to be in? A person has an accident of $1000.00 or over and I think the minister said which entails personal injury, okay, well how much time does the participant have before he must report the accident because I think the minister will agree on many occasions, if there is an injury involved that person could be hospitalized or something like this.

The other side of the coin is, on many occasions when the person has to write a report he writes the report at home and perhaps sends or delivers it to the detachment. On many occasions, Mr. Speaker, the person who is reporting the accident gets some professional help from the police officer who is interviewing him. In many cases when people have accidents, the lead-up to the accident sometimes is obscured and it takes someone with a professional touch to say to the participant: Look, is this what happened?... and it leads them on to telling the whole story. I don't know if that would be interfered with now or not, with this written report. Those are just two things that I thought should be questioned, and perhaps the minister can address them when he gets to his feet.

Again, I think in some instances the submission of a written report might be a hardship to some individuals. With that said, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to make a few comments on this legislation. I have no difficulty with Clause 1 creating a new offence for defacing, altering or removing the manufacturer's vehicle identification number. I am not sure if I understood the member for St. John's East Extern correctly when I believe he said it was already an offence to possess a vehicle. Was he or is he of the opinion that this will allow a new offence? There is already an offence that says that you are guilty of an offence if you deface or alter a vehicle licence or identification plate or marker required to be affixed for a vehicle. To that one is added the vehicle identification number.

The next section says it is an offence to use or permit the use of a vehicle bearing an identification plate or marker required in respect of that vehicle which is mutilated, defaced or altered. I don't know why the minister didn't go further and make an amendment to Section 42 (c) as well, Mr. Speaker, because that is the one that I think the member for St. John's East Extern was referring to which doesn't say anything about the manufacturer's vehicle identification number. It still would be possible to purchase a vehicle that was stolen and didn't have the manufacturer's identification number attached to it. That would not be an offence although it would be an offence to actually deface the number if it were attached.

So perhaps the minister can offer an explanation as to why there wasn't an addition to paragraph (c) as well, although it wouldn't relate to the disposal of vehicles, which is what the minister has talked about. It certainly would relate to the issue of having vehicles around without vehicle identification numbers attached to them. So I would ask the minister if he would address that.

The second issue I have some concern with, Mr. Speaker, is Clause 2 of the Bill. The current regulation requires an individual to report an accident. The purpose of that, Mr. Speaker, is not to require someone to spill their guts about how the accident happened or what they were doing or this type of thing. The purpose, Mr. Speaker, is to identify an accident where there is a personal injury or a serious accident involving more than $1,000 of apparent damage to a vehicle, for the purpose of allowing an investigation to take place by the police force for the purposes of financial responsibility for an accident, Mr. Speaker, and insurance purposes, and also, of course, for the possibility of their being offences which may have occurred, whether they be breaches of The Highway Traffic Act or the Criminal Code in the occurrence of the personal injury that is involved.

I object, Mr. Speaker, to the change in the act here. It is not a question of whether or not a person has made a verbal or a written report of the accident or a telephone call. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, the situation was right that someone should be acquitted of failing to report an accident when in fact that person did report the accident, the report of the existence of the accident. What I'm concerned about here is that by changing the provision to require a written report of an accident that individuals may be induced to believe that they have to answer all questions that a police officer may ask them and include that on written report, or a report to be signed by that person, at the end of a report being taken.

If the legislation were to just advise the police of the names of the passengers, of any witnesses that he was aware of, of the owner of the vehicle, of any insurance particulars, and those sorts of things - which may have to be supplied in writing, or maybe the person might be illiterate. If there's an illiterate person involved in an accident how can that person make a written report?

There's no real necessity of there being a written report in order to comply with the requirements of having the police informed of the information that's necessary to conduct their investigation. If an individual exercising their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to not make incriminating statements decides that they do not want to make any statements about how an accident might have happened until they've consulted with a lawyer, then they have the right to do that. They have the right to do that.

So why does the minister want to take away that right by forcing a written report on the individual? If the minister wants to see the legislation, the Highway Traffic Act, I have it here for him. Because I consulted with that on the - perhaps one of the Pages would like to bring the volume to the minister so he can address it when he gets up to look at his final remarks. There are two sections that I would invite the minister to review. They are: Section 41, paragraph (b), and also the provisions of Section 170 which he's seeking to amend.

Perhaps the minister could clarify it but it seems to me that as a defence lawyer, which I've acted from time to time in my professional career, there have often been individuals in circumstances having been involved in an accident which they didn't understand what their rights were. They were told that they were required to make a report under Section 170 of the Act, and had very great difficulty reconciling that with their right to remain silent, their right to not have to make incriminating statements.

There are certain pieces of information which may well be vital to the conduct of an investigation, a proper investigation, of the appropriate police force, such as the driver of the vehicle, the owner of the vehicle, the names of any passengers, any persons who might be hurt, the question of insurance. These matters which are vital to the operation of a proper highway traffic code. There may well be other information that is pertinent to possible charges against an individual that a person may not wish to disclose.

So I have a concern first of all that individuals who may not be literate are all of a sudden compelled to provide written reports, and secondly that they may be induced into thinking that their legal rights against self-incrimination are being overridden by a statute of this nature. So I would ask the minister if he could address those points when he gets up to close the debate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to take a couple of minutes to speak on this particular Bill and to bring together a comment that was made by the Premier in closing the previous Bill that was presented to the House on the waste disposal as far as car wrecks. The two are one and the same. Because this Bill is in conjunction with the previous Bill and it has to do with the cleaning up of car wrecks. I was intending to stand on a point of order but I wasn't in my seat at the time, so I said I'd let it go now to speak, to have the opportunity to express my concern.

First of all I want it to go on record that I am a member of this House of Assembly and I have the right to give an opinion when I see there is something that is suggestive. It was not done in a critical manner and in no way, Mr. Speaker, did I say the bill was in any way defective. I did not say that at all, in fact, I praised the bill. I said it was a good piece of legislation. I explained that I had a concern - as I have, with a couple of sections of this bill. For years and years we have had a law on the books of Newfoundland and Labrador that there is to be no throwing garbage out the windows of vehicles on the highways but, to this day, you drive over the Trans-Canada and see that garbage is thrown out the windows of vehicles on the highway. I think there used to be a fine of up to $2000.

My concern, legitimately - it may be idiotic to some people - but legitimately, my concern, and I want it to go on record, in my district as everywhere in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, is that car wrecks are being dumped. There is specifically nobody designated to provide enforcement; I think it is a legitimate concern, just as there is nobody in particular to enforce the law for people throwing garbage. It is up to the citizen who sees somebody throwing garbage on the highway to report it.

My question was, if an RCMP officer drives along the highway, will he or she report it, or will they put in an offence charge if someone drops a wreck on the highway? That is the point I was making, Mr. Speaker, and I want it to be on record, because this piece of legislation will go through the House of Assembly, it will get unanimous support in the House of Assembly. It definitely will, because it is one of the best pieces of legislation we have had, as far as the environment is concerned in this Province. Everybody agrees with that. But I still have to emphasize my question on this issue, Who will do the actual enforcement? I asked the question. I did not say the bill was defective. I did not, in any way, say there was anything wrong with the legislation. I very clearly said I agreed with this piece of legislation, I gave it total support, and I had a question. That was my question, Mr. Speaker, and I want it to go on record. I want the minister responsible, who would be the Minister of Environment and Lands - but, in this particular case, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can probably comment in his closing remarks, on my question: Will the designated people in the department - and I understand there are people in Works, Services and Transportation -will it be left up to environment enforcers or to the town councils, or whatever? That was the question I previously asked, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, just to address the few points that have been raised in relation to this. The Member for St. John's East Extern asked was there any time limit on when the report had to be made. In Section 170, the requirement is that when there is death, injury, or damage greater than $1000, the report must be made immediately, so it is not an extended period of time. As soon as you can, you must make this report, and when you are capable of making the report, failure to do so immediately, is the offense.

Secondly, the hon. member asked would ability to write interfere with the assistance that police officers in some sense provide when people go in to make these reports. In my experience when people go to the RNC or RCMP to make these reports the officers involved in the taking of these statements are very helpful to the public and, in most cases, the statement takes a question and answer format whereby the officer asks the questions and the person supplies the information. The officer writes the information supplied on the paper and then refers the completed report back to the person for his signature. I don't think that procedure will change. In fact, I believe the RCMP have standardized forms on which they take this accident information. I don't foresee that changing, and I am sure the members of the RNC and the RCMP who are confronted with this situation will continue to provide whatever assistance they can to the people making these reports.

With respect to the comments from the Member for St. John's East, Mr. Speaker - he asked: Why wasn't section 42(b) sufficient? - the problem with section 42(b) is, it creates an offense to deface or alter a vehicle license, the license plate or an identification plate or marker, so really, what we are talking about there is, registration plates, the license plates that are on the vehicle or the stickers that are on the vehicle. So, right now, there is no offense to actually remove the serial number from the vehicle itself and, as everybody is aware, it is much easier to remove a license plate or a sticker than it is to actually deface the serial number on a car. The serial number on a car is the most long-lasting piece of identification that the vehicle has; therefore, an order to enforce effectively the bill that we just debated in the House, it would be necessary to create the offense of removing the serial number, which is not presently provided for under section 42(b), and that is the reason that the new offense is being created.

With respect to section 170, Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman raises some questions as to the incrimination of people who make these statements to the police, and I just point out that section 173 of The Highway Traffic Act, provides that a written report made under section 170, is not open to public inspection, and is not admissible for any purpose in a trial arising out of an accident, except to prove that the person did not make the report, or that there was a falsity in the report, itself. So, those are the only two reasons why the report under section 170 could be admissible into evidence.

It is a privileged communication. In the ordinary course of events it cannot be used in criminal or civil proceedings, except to prove that the report was not made, or that, in a prosecution for falsity, there were false statements contained in the report, and these are certainly reasonable exceptions to the general privilege of this particular communication which is required by the statute. With that, Mr. Speaker, I shall end my remarks and resume my seat.

Thank you.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act (No.2)," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.(Bill No. 41).

MR. ROBERTS: Order 38, Bill 68, please, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Child Welfare Act" (Bill No. 68).

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

MR. GULLAGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is an amendment to The Child Welfare Act as it presently exists and it is revising the provision that requires a person who has information that a child may be suffering from desertion, abandonment, physical, sexual or emotional ill-treatment or otherwise be in need of protection, to report that information to the Director of Child Welfare, a social worker or a peace officer.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the existing act, or this amendment, I should say, is very similar to the existing act. The difference is that we are tightening up the wording and the requirement to report and making the section more enforceable than it is at the present time. We have been advised that the current section makes it very difficult from an enforcement point of view and, of course, that is what the major concern is - being able to enforce the legislation when reporting has taken place.

Mr. Speaker, of course, it is not just the Director of Child Welfare who is included in this section. Also included in the present bill and the revised section are the social worker and the police. The inclusion of the police is important because in many areas of the Province, the police are often more readily available, certainly, than the Director of Child Welfare would be. Including the police in this section as a person to whom a report can be made is very important. The same is true of social workers throughout the Province.

Certainly, the police and social workers are included in the bill for reporting reasons and, indeed, anybody who has an incident to report, is required to do so immediately. Now, that is a change in wording from the present section, and we have added the word that all reporting of child abuse or neglect be made 'immediately'.

In the past, we have had situations where individuals have claimed they were going to report, and consequently, could not be successfully charged. The use of the term 'immediately' clearly indicates the report is to be made when the information becomes available.

We have also clarified that a report is to be made on the information: 'has been' or 'may be' in danger of desertion, abandonment, neglect, physical, sexual or emotional ill-treatment; so it applies even in a case where a person has advice that a child 'may be' in danger, as well as 'has been' in danger. The report should contain any and all information that the individual has available to him. This applies, regardless of the professional status of the individual who is reporting, so it is all-encompassing and with no exclusions.

It has been mentioned to me that we are, in fact, not having exclusions for the clergy, and that is a fact. The Hughes Report was adamant in stating in the recommendations that anybody with information concerning child physical or sexual abuse should report it. This would be true for members of the clergy, as well.

Now we realize, of course, that this may be difficult to enforce, but we would hope that it will be complied with in the sense that the penalties still apply and that members of the clergy would realize that they have a responsibility under the law to report any incidents they know of.

Mr. Speaker, in a case where a member of a profession - any profession - does not report, the professional organization, under the laws of the Province, which has authority to regulate that person's activity, would be requested to investigate the matter. We would see situations where, well, certainly a lawyer, a doctor, perhaps, in some cases, and certainly a member of the clergy, wherever a professional organization is involved and it is discovered that they have not reported, one of the first steps that would be taken is to have the professional organization involved to report the incidents where reporting did not take place - which, of course, takes place now in other areas of professional activity where organizations and professional societies become involved in terms of regulating and controlling the activities of their members.

We have also strengthened the penalties, now having penalties up to $20,000 and/or up to six months imprisonment. The time frame for the reporting is now three years for the prosecution of offenses.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think we are addressing the concerns of Hughes and the recommendations that he very strongly made that we tighten up the present act and that we make sure that the act is, indeed, enforceable, when a situation is discovered where reporting has not taken place. Indeed, if I were to quote from - maybe I should quote from the Hughes report, on page 411: "Within the Child Welfare Act, 1972, there is a clear legal responsibility for every person who has reasonable grounds to believe that a child is being abused or is otherwise in need of protection, to report this to the Director of Child Welfare. This reporting requirement gives precedence over any previous commitment to confidentiality and it is an offense for failure to report such incidents. Such reports may be made to the local office of the Department of Social Services." Of course, there are no exclusions there, and reports can also be made, as I have stated, to the police.

So it is either the Director of Child Welfare, a social worker or a peace officer. And, as stated in the previous act, there are no exclusions. It is just a matter of it being, with this amendment, that all people who have knowledge of child physical or sexual abuse, or any other mistreatment of a child, under the act would be required to report. We are making the act more enforceable than it is now in legal terms, where we were advised that we would have difficulty enforcing many of the provisions of this act, and also putting in force much stiffer penalties for not reporting. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, firstly, I do not have any great problem with this piece of legislation. I believe that anyone who has information with regard to child sexual abuse, or any type of abuse, for that matter, should have a responsibility to notify 'immediately'. I concur with that word.

All I would say to the minister - I am certainly not going to cause him any great delays or anything like that - but from watching the newscast yesterday evening, I believe they interviewed the clergy, and they said they would want to see the bill before they make any statement regarding it. I believe the medical association made a similar comment, that they would like to see the bill before making any comment. I don't know if the legal people have commented or not.

Once again, it points out quite clearly, Mr. Speaker, the necessity of having this type of legislation prepared and submitted to the House earlier on, rather than in the dying days of a session. There is no reason why this piece of legislation could not have been done sooner - not in this session, it could have been done sessions back. But there is no reason at all why, since it wasn't done, at the beginning of this session, this piece of legislation could not have been given to the Legislation Review Committee. Then, all of these people who would have liked to have input would have had the opportunity to do so.

So here we are, eight days, I believe, before Christmas Day, on a piece of legislation concerning which you have people out in the community such as the clergy - the churches, the medical association and others saying they want to see the bill before they can have input. Now it is eight days before Christmas and we begin to debate a piece of legislation.

I say to the minister, it is regrettable that that type of a time limit be put on legislation such as this. There is no reason why we didn't have this five weeks ago. It could have spent a week going around; they could have had a week to have a meeting here, let the clergy, the medical association and the legal profession, or whoever wanted to, come in and make a presentation, and the bill could have gone through. Now, eight days before Christmas Day, this piece of legislation comes up, and obviously the opportunity is not going to be there for these groups to make a type of presentation but to me it clearly, while I have no problem with the Bill and I say that up front, to me it clearly demonstrates the arrogant manner in which this government has chosen to deal with legislation and bills. I mean the minister, the former House Leader and I think for the record, Mr. Speaker, the former House Leader said when he announced the legislative review committees that: these committees will sit at a time convenient to them, whether the House is sitting or not sitting, and will review legislation in the three areas of social matters, resource matters and government services. These legislative review committees are an attempt by government to make the legislative process more meaningful, first of all to members of the House but more importantly to the general public. There are many pieces of legislation that go through this hon. House that are of major importance to the various groups in this Province. This will provide an opportunity for legislation to be examined prior to discussions in the House so that we will never get into a situation where all of a sudden because of time constraints or something else, major pieces of legislation gets rushed through the House, as has happened in the past, without adequate discussions both in the House and in the general public.

Now, that is what the former Government House Leader said as it relates to these legislative review committees. I would say to the Minister of Social Services that the groups that the minister was talking about there when he brought this in, would be groups such as the church, groups such as the medical association, groups such as the law society and individuals. Obviously that time limit is not there to do it, while I support the piece of legislation I think it is regrettable that the minister brought it in at a time where adequate input from these groups of people is not going to be permitted.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A major overhaul of the Provinces Child Welfare Act is long overdue. A considerable amount of work was done during the 1980's to revise the whole piece of legislation. When the Member for Port de Grave took over the office of Minister of Social Services in the Spring of 1989, in the House estimates committee, looking at the budget estimates for his department, I asked him about his plans to reform Child Welfare Law and he said he planned or he was aiming to bring before the House of Assembly, a Bill to revise the whole Child Welfare Act that Fall, the Fall of 1989, three years ago, more than three years ago. Now, Mr. Speaker, for at least that length of time the government has known or ought to have known that the reporting requirement provisions of the Child Welfare Act were deficient, they have been tested and commented upon. The Hughes Report called for this specific amendment and the Hughes Commission gave its final report to keg ministers of this administration a year-and-a-half-ago, at the end of May 1991.

Mr. Speaker, there is no excuse for this government printing this Bill and distributing it yesterday and expecting us to pass it here today, shutting out the public once again. It shows that this administration is totally incapable of managing the affairs of the government and completely uncaring about the welfare of children in the Province. Mr. Speaker, this is absolutely reprehensible. The problem is that the Premier has no administrative ability, he has no social conscience, he and the other minister over there with some clout, learned the political ropes in the 1960's and here we are in the 1990's, occasionally they pay lip service to progressive measures, progressive notions but when they are really put to the test the old habits formed in the 1960's show through. That is what we are seeing here once again. Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of reform minded members of that administration. I believe the former Government House Leader may be one of them. The former Government House Leader had good intentions when he instituted the legislation review committees, three and a half years ago. My friend the Member for Burin - Placentia West quoted from his remarks to this Assembly when he was announcing the establishment of the committees. The committees worked fairly well for a year or two, I have been vice-chair of the social committee. Now having said that, I must point out, however, that the Wells' administration has produced very little social legislation. For the first two years or so of the existence of the review committee, however, what little social legislation the government generated, the committee did examine, did get public comment on, and in some cases succeeded in having improved from the original draft.

Mr. Speaker, the Social Legislation Review Committee has met three times this year. Last Spring it met once to deal with one bill, the act to deal with social worker registration. Then, within the past two weeks when the Minister of Justice had been embarrassed by outside groups who wanted to be heard by the review committee, he reluctantly instructed the chairperson of a committee to have a meeting.

The Law Society asked to be heard about the Law Society Act amendments. They got their way. The committee met. It was a good meeting. The committee unanimously recommended that government delay proceeding with the amendments until the Spring, to allow the Law Society and other groups to have a chance to analyze the provisions of the bill - do some research and take a position.

Last Friday when the Constabulary Association heard the minister on CBC radio saying that nobody had asked for a public hearing - of course, knowing that they themselves had asked for a public hearing - they called the deputy minister and asked for a hearing. They got results. We in the opposition did not get results. The Human Rights Association, which had asked for a public hearing, did not get results, but the Constabulary Association got results. So the committee met last night. The committee meeting was planned Friday afternoon, a couple of hours after the call from the Constabulary Association.

Last night at the meeting there were five or six presenters. Some of them were here on literally hours notice. They all faulted the government for failing to give the public adequate notice of the contents of the legislation establishing a Constabulary Public Complaints Commission. Even though they had very little time to prepare submissions, they gave useful analysis indicating that they have major objections to the design of the police complaints process. Every single presenter, without exception, asked for more time.

The Police Association and the Human Rights Association, which are looking at the issue from different perspectives, were of one mind in wanting more time; in wanting a fully independent police public complaints commissioner; in wanting a process in which the public have confidence; in wanting an extension in the time limit within which citizens may make complaints. What happened? What happened after every single presenter pleaded for more time? The committee voted along party lines.

The Member for Carbonear said he did not care how bad the police complaints commission is. The government could always fix it later.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: What does that have to do with this bill?... the Member for Exploits asks.

What it has to do with this bill is that it is another example of a whole pattern of government mismanagement of its legislative agenda.

Mr. Speaker, the need for reform of the Province's Child Welfare Law has been known for many years. The Hughes Report, which the government has had since May 1991, called for particular changes. This is only one and yet the government delayed, procrastinated, waited all this time. The government knowingly allowed people suspected of failing to report instances where there were reasonable grounds to believe that there had been child abuse, or there might be child abuse, did nothing to correct the legislative deficiency for more than a year and a half.

Mr. Speaker, the final report of the Hughes Commission was given to the Minister of Social Services, and the Minister of Justice, and the President of Treasury Board a year and a half ago. Those ministers knew long before that there were flaws in the reporting requirement in the act and they did nothing about it. Last Spring in this House of Assembly, last Fall in this House of Assembly, we in the official Opposition called on the minister opposite to bring in the simple amendments needed to clear up the reporting deficiency. We pledged our co-operation so that the amendments could be passed quickly. We asked for an amendment to deal with the deficiency in the reporting requirement and we also called for a quick, simple amendment to deal with the gap in the provision of services for young people between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. Under the present legislation people who are older than sixteen are considered too old to be treated as children and given the protection provided children. If they are younger than eighteen they are too young to be afforded the services which are given adults. There is that one year gap. Now, this government has known about that one year gap for two or three years and they still have not done anything about that. Where is the revision of the whole act that the Member for Port de Grave was working on three and a half years ago?

MR. EFFORD: It was completed.

MS. VERGE: He says it was completed. Does the present Minister of Social Services know anything about that? I can say that the administration of which I was a minister had done a considerable amount of work on the overhaul of the whole Child Welfare Act. Where is that? The members opposite have been in office now going on four years. They brought down four and a half Budgets and what have they done in the way of social reform legislation? Little or nothing. Worse than that they inherited a considerable amount of the revision of the Child Welfare Act. They received the final report of the Hughes Commission a year and a half ago. Before that they listened to testimony before the commissioner pointing out the deficiencies in the Province's Child Welfare Act. How uncaring are they? This is hard to believe, Mr. Speaker. What is the excuse for waiting until eleven days before Christmas before even printing this bill? They succeed in fooling some of the people some of the time. In a very sneaky way on the first day of this Fall sitting the Minister of Justice made a statement reporting on government's response to the Hughes Report and he said the government was going to bring in legislation to fix the problem with the reporting requirement in the Child Welfare Act. People expected that within a couple of days. What did they do instead? Wait until yesterday to print the bill.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is important legislation. There is no excuse for government waiting all this time, delaying three years, a year and a half since the Hughes Report, waiting until the eve of Christmas l992 to even print the bill, preventing interested people outside this House of Assembly from even knowing about it let alone having any chance to comment on it, but worst of all, Mr. Speaker, risking the safety of children who may have been abused in the last three years because there was not an effective reporting requirement when the government knew the reporting requirement was flawed. They knew, their own officials knew, their own lawyers knew, their social workers knew; the Hughes Royal Commission told them there was a flaw. Talk about incompetence -

AN HON. MEMBER: Talk about double standards.

MS. VERGE: - incompetence and lack of social conscience. There is no excuse for it. What did we learn from Mount Cashel, what did we really learn from Mount Cashel? What did we learn? How have we improved public protection of children as a result of what was revealed about the failures of the system in the mid-1970s? Are children any safer today, in 1992?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: She set up the Hughes Commission, you do not even know what you are talking about.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs does not even know about municipal operating grants or what is going on in his own department. I would suggest that he go back to his own seat because he has absolutely nothing to contribute to this debate.

Mr. Speaker, what really angers me is that, looking across the House of Assembly, none of those ministers or members opposite even cares about this. They figure, after the Hughes Inquiry and after the report was received people would forget about it, people were sick of hearing about it, so they do not really need to do anything, all they need to do is make a show of it. The Hughes Commission was appointed before they took office so they continued the commission, allowed it to do its work, grudgingly. They limited its scope, grudgingly allowed it to carry out its work, took the final report and kept it under wraps for a year, from May of 1991 to May of 1992, and I suppose with the advice of their PR advisors, their public relations consultants, they now think that the heat is off, that people had an overdose of stories and reports of child sexual abuse. They probably think that they can get away with token measures.

The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that there is no concern. It is an attitude problem, it is a problem of values. There is nobody over there who really cares. The Minister of Social Services sits there with a wooden face, it does not trouble him that this reform has been delayed for three years or more, it does not bother him that the Hughes recommendation has sat on a shelf for a year-and-a-half. It does not trouble him that the alarming caseload of reported abused children are not getting a proper response from his officials, from social workers. It does not bother him that we do not have a proper victim service in the Department of Justice. It does not trouble him that the crown attorneys and the courts are not processing child sexual abuse cases as swiftly as they should be processed. It does not bother him, he will not have any trouble sleeping tonight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, what is the excuse for the delay? Is there any excuse? Why is this bill not more comprehensive? Why does it not deal with the gap in the entitlement to services for young people between the ages of sixteen and eighteen? Why was that left out? Did it ever cross the minister's mind?

I asked him a little while ago in Question Period to give his rationale for the government's classification of maintenance and child support as non-allowable income and his reply was very revealing. He said he does not have a rationale for anything. I accept that. I think he told the truth. He does not have any rationale for anything. He does not particularly care about any of these social services issues. He did not want to be Minister of Social Services. The Premier put him in the position. The Premier has no interest in social services. That is outside the Premier's field of interest entirely. The Premier is not interested in social policy. The Premier is not concerned about social services law reform. That is why we have seen little or no social reform legislation.

When the social legislation reform committee was working, in the first two years or so, we had very little legislation of any substance to consider and, as we know in the last year or so, the committee basically has been defunct.

Now, at the tail end of the 1992 session, in the two weeks leading up to Christmas, the bit of legislation of any substance that this government is advancing is suddenly appearing. Bills being printed and distributed just days before Christmas - no thought of committees or public hearings; no consideration for members of this House, let alone outsiders who have concerns and interests - just shove it through. It is probably the PR advisors again who are saying: in the two weeks before Christmas none of the public are following what happens in this Legislature. They are all preoccupied getting ready for Christmas, so we can get away with anything in the two weeks before Christmas.

We will keep the House sitting extra hours in the night. We know the reporters cannot be here all the time, so we really can fool some of the people some of the time. But let me tell them, Mr. Speaker, they are not going to fool all of the people all of the time, and they are not going to fool the people into thinking they are doing anything meaningful about child welfare law reform.

They have knowingly allowed two or three years to go by, risking child abuse - risking the occurrence of child abuse - because there was not an effective reporting requirement. That is shameful. There is no excuse. Look at the bill - two pages and four sentences - and it has taken them well into their fourth year in office. It has taken them a year-and-a-half after they got the final report of the Hughes Commission. That is scandalous.

They will be going into an election with the promise of the Member for Port de Grave unfulfilled. He says he had ready, back in 1989, a revision of the whole Child Welfare Act. Maybe he did. I do not know. I have no reason to say that he is not telling the truth. Where is it? Why is that not in the hands of the Social Legislation Review Committee?

What about the new daycare act that was promised? The Premier promised that one when he was campaigning in Humber East in 1989. We still do not have public regulation of child care of children under two years of age in this Province.

Then we have the Trudy Parsons situation. Trudy Parsons is the young woman from Conception Bay North who's HIV-positive who was fired from her job with a private daycare firm earlier this year. That was possible because of a flaw in the day-care and homemaker licensing act. Where's the bill to correct that problem?

What about the schools act? When I was Minister of Education many, many years ago work was started to revise the schools act. When this government took office they inherited a considerable amount of work on the new schools act. The Member for St. John's North got as far as printing and distributing to education agencies outside this House of Assembly his proposal for a new schools act. Now where is that? On some shelf in the office of the present minister. Where is that, I ask the Minister of Education?

Now, Mr. Speaker, this government early in their term of office set up a Royal Commission on education. That report came out last Spring. Where is that report now? There were many recommendations in that report. Some of them require legislation. Why don't we have any education bills before a committee or before the House of Assembly? What a pathetic legislative record this administration has had. Shameful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: I guess we're going to be here late, Mr. Speaker. Two pages and four lines and it's taken them almost four years. Shameful. Absolutely ridiculous. Here they are just before Christmas, during the supper hour when no reporters are listening, sneaking it through. They're foxy. Of course they have a whole battery of PR experts. They're pretty cute. But people are figuring them out. The Government House Leader learned the ropes back in the 'sixties but people are better educated today. People are smarter in 1992 than they were in 1966. People aren't going to put up with much more of this.

Mr. Speaker, this Bill to amend the Child Welfare Act is long, long overdue. As I've said before I think it is shameful that the government delayed bringing in this measure as they have. The government should have had this passed and in force two or three years ago. Certainly during the Spring of 1991 when they got the final report of the Hughes Commission. Actually they needn't have waited that late, because their own staff, their own lawyers and social workers, told them before that that the reporting requirements of the Child Welfare Act were unenforceable.

Their own staff and others outside the government also told them about the need to change, amend, reform and improve other provisions of the Child Welfare Act. One in particular people have urged the government to bring in is a measure to close that gap in entitlement to services for young people between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. I repeat what I said a year ago, I or one of my associates here, I say again what I said last June or May in this House of Assembly. If the government will bring in a simple bill to close that gap, that gap in the entitlement of child welfare and social assistance and social services for young people between sixteen and eighteen, then we will cooperate in having it passed quickly.

I can't end without repeating that this government's neglect of social law reform, so obvious and so critically needed as a correction in the reporting requirement of the Child Welfare Act, is shameful. It amounts to an all-time low. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now he'll close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker -

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to this (inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: No, you weren't in your place.


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

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Minister of Social Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Humber East -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, the member for St. John's East was on his feet as the minister rose. Mr. Speaker, this amendment to The Child Welfare Act is vitally important, and it is most unfair to deny any Opposition member an opportunity to speak on this bill. Obviously, the member wants to be heard, obviously it is a vitally important matter, and obviously it is a matter that should transcend partisan politics. I call on Your Honour to recognize the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Humber East is correct, I was on my feet to get a copy of The Child Welfare Act which is being amended. When she ended her remarks, I rushed back to my place to be recognized. Now, the Chair has recognized the Minister of Social Services and has said that if he speaks now, he will close debate. Customarily, Mr. Speaker, that is the time when, if there is another member then standing, the Chair will recognize that other member.

Now, I understand that the Chair has recognized the hon. minister. You said if the minister speaks, he will close debate. Perhaps if the minister would defer speaking and allow the normal operation of the House, where when this notice is made Your Honour says, `If the minister speaks now, he will close debate,' as a signal to other hon. members, Mr. Speaker, that if they wish to speak they had better be on their feet. Because, otherwise, debate is going to be closed by the speech of the hon. member.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I understand that that is the procedure and the practice of this House, and I would ask that it be followed in this instance.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may briefly, to the point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: I will hear one more submission, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: First of all, it is neither permissible nor possible to challenge a ruling of this Chair behind points of order. The hon. lady should really know better and, if she doesn't, she ought to go back to school somewhere.

What I say to my friend from St. John's East is, he set the rules earlier today when he denied the wish of every other member of this House. Fifty-one other members were prepared to use tomorrow but he insisted. Now, I say to him that I am prepared to move a motion that would gain him the Chair without challenging the Speaker's ruling, and I would ask my friends on this side to support it. But I will put it to him boldly, if he is going to hold up fifty-one members of the House, then I am not prepared to ask my colleagues on this side to support a motion. There is a motion which will allow him to be heard without overruling the Chair. If the hon. gentleman wants to play fair, we will play fair, but he was not in his seat and the rule says: Every member desiring to speak is to rise in his or her place. That is the rule.

Now, the hon. lady sat down precipitously, perhaps - That is not for me to say. If they cannot co-ordinate their efforts better than that, I am not going to say that.

I say to the hon. gentleman that I am prepared to move a motion now that will give him the right to the floor and he will be heard for the half-an-hour the rules allow him, but he set the tone for this earlier today by deliberately - within his rights - frustrating the rules of the House. I will leave it to him.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order, the rules in second reading distinctly say that the Chair will call - the minister stood in his place. The Chair said that if the hon. minister speaks now he closes debate. At that particular time, this particular person, as he sits in the Chair, looks around the House. There was no other member standing. The hon. the Member for St. John's East was at the Clerk's table, and the rules distinctly say that the member has to be in his place to be recognized. So unless there is some other agreement by the House, the Chair has no other choice but to enforce the rules.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Member for St. John's East to withdraw that remark. The rules of the House are clear. The Chair has already ruled on the point of order and I don't think the remark was called for in terms of saying that the rules of the House are not being followed.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I stated to this House, on the point of order raised by the Member for Humber East, that the tradition of this House was that the Speaker, when the minister rises, warns other members by saying: If the hon. member speaks now he will close debate.


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

The Chair explained the position. The hon. the Member for St. John's East was at the Clerk's table when I looked around the House. There was no other member standing other than the Minister of Social Services. I said: If the minister speaks now he closes the debate. The minister was recognized. There is a procedure if hon. members wish to question the ruling of the Chair. I remind the Member for St. John's East that there are rules that have to be followed if you want to question the ruling of the Chair.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: May I speak to the bill, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No, no.

MR. MATTHEWS: I can't?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the minister has been recognised.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Just relax now, okay?

AN HON. MEMBER: I am relaxed.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, but I mean, I just -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).


MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, you probably should have stayed asleep, I don't know about that. I am just wondering if I could have an opportunity to speak to the bill. That is the question. If you want to get bullish, well, we will all get like a bully. If you want to get like that we'll all be bullies.

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

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

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


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have been around this House now for almost eleven years - not as long as some people, but I have been around here longer than most in this House - and I have seen a fair bit of legislation done in these eleven years. And I have never in the eleven years seen a member to whom a minister would not yield if he wanted to have a few words on a piece of legislation. I have seen in this session several times where a minister got up, and the Speaker said: If the hon. the minister speaks now he closes debate, and when the member stands, the minister will sit down and let him speak. I have seen it without exception in the past eleven years that I have sat in this Legislature. I think, on a piece of legislation, particularly on a piece of social reform like this, to see our NDP friend not being allowed to speak -


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I won't sit down. I am dealing with the Speaker on the member not being allowed to speak.

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

MR. TOBIN: To see the Member for St. John's East not being allowed to speak on such a piece of social legislation is unbecoming of the conduct of the members opposite.

MR. MATTHEWS: Exactly.

MR. TOBIN: I call upon the Government House Leader, Mr. Speaker, by all that is decent, to do what we have done in this Legislature time and time again, and that is, not to try to choke debate, to prevent a member from speaking on a piece of legislation.

Now, the Government House Leader, as Government House Leader, has responsibility in this House for his caucus, as our House Leader has responsibility in this House for our caucus. The opportunity is now his to either stifle the Member for St. John's East -


MR. TOBIN: - not allow him to participate in this debate -

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

MR. TOBIN: - or to tell his caucus to let the member speak.

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

I remind hon. members to my left that the Chair will decide when it is time to call order.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West will please clue up his remarks.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker. In conclusion let me ask the hon. the Government House Leader: Why is he denying, when it has never taken place before, why has he now chosen to deny the Member for St. John's East the opportunity to participate in this debate?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is engaging in debate. I have not yet heard a submission on what his point of order is. The Chair has already ruled. The Chair is here to enforce the rules, the Chair does not make the rules. The Minister of Social Services has been recognized. Unless it is by agreement of the House the Chair has no other choice but to enforce the rules.

MR. ROBERTS: On this point of order, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: On a different point of order?

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I want to say, if I may, just to make two or three brief points. First of all, neither I nor anybody else has denied the hon. gentleman from St. John's East the right or the opportunity to speak. The rules of this House lay it down and if the hon. gentleman does not know the rules or does not follow them, that is fine, the speaker's job is to enforce the rules until and unless we change them.

Secondly, I have already said I am prepared to ask my friends on this side to do what, in my view is necessary. I would say to my friend for Burin - Placentia West, that I have been in the House for a year or two beyond eleven years. I have never before seen the sort of obstinate, stubborn, selfish behaviour that the hon. gentleman for St. John's East showed today when the clear will of the House - and what I say to the hon. gentleman is very simple, in the words of the bible: as ye sow, so shall ye reap. He has sown, now he is reaping, Mr. Speaker.

MS. VERGE: Quoting scriptures for the devil's purposes?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind hon. members that when they rise in their place it is also a rule of the Chair that they have to be identified before they speak.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker the point of order that I have raised has to do with the proceedings of the House and the minister has been called upon, recognized in his seat, as the Speaker has done, now it is up to the minister whether he speaks or not. Quite often the Speaker has made rulings recognizing the minister; I recognize the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Social Services and then says: if the minister speaks now he will close debate. Now, the minister has not spoken yet but the minister invariably, Mr. Speaker, looks around as well and if anybody else wants to speak, the minister yields. So I know the Government House Leader has offered some blackmail resolution to allow me to get my right to speak, in the traditions of the House, by the minister agreeing to let a member speak on a Bill. Particularly on a Bill, Mr. Speaker, which I have been calling for the minister to introduce in this House, I would expect, Mr. Speaker, that the minister instead of speaking would in fact yield and allow me to make my speech.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We have been discussing this point of order for awhile. I will entertain one more submission.

MR. MATTHEWS: Wasn't this a new one? I am sorry I understood, Mr. Speaker, that this was a new point of order that the member (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I will recognize the Opposition House Leader he may have something to lend to the debate.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, I want to speak to what I thought was a point of order by the Member for St. John's East and I want to support the member in what he said. No one disputes, Mr. Speaker, that you did recognize the minister and your specific words were: if he speaks now he will close the debate. The minister did not speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't?

MR. MATTHEWS: The minister did not speak. He rose in his place, he did not speak, consequently, the minister is not in the process of closing the debate since he did not speak. Now, as the Member for Burin - Placentia West said a number of times before, on any number of occasions in the last week in this House, Mr. Speaker, ministers have stood in their places, Speakers, not only yourself, have said the identical thing: if the minister speaks now, he or she closes debate. Then the minister looks around, someone else has stood in his place and the Speaker has recognized the other member.

Now that is consistent procedure and behaviour here, very consistent. Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that is what has happened here, time in and time out, but what we have here obviously, is some kind of a vendetta against the Member for St. John's East by members opposite for some reason, for some reason, so really, the onus is upon the Minister of Social Services. The onus is upon the Minister of Social Services, if he speaks, it is over, if he does not speak, I submit to Your Honour, if the minister does not speak, that you then can recognize the Member for St. John's East.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Humber West made a comment that we have done nothing with the Hughes Report -


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


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

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Ah sit down boy.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think after listening to the debate, I am wondering if the Minister of Social Services would at least yield and grant an opportunity for the Member of St. John's East to have at least five minutes?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair was just taking over. I did not know that the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West was on a point of order -

MR. TOBIN: I will repeat it for you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: - and if the hon. member would like to repeat his point of order.


Four times, four times.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Your Honour, before you took the Chair, the previous Speaker stated: if the minister speaks now he closes debate. Unfortunately, he did not recognize my colleague for St. John's East.

MR. SULLIVAN: He indicated while he was standing that he wished to speak.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair was listening to this and heard the Deputy's ruling on that, that there was no point of order and he recognized the Minister of Social Services.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

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

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I wish to rise on a point of privilege having to do with the recent incidence in the last few minutes. Mr. Speaker, the principles of, quoting from Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, sixth edition, Mr. Speaker, paragraph number one, page three: The principles of Canadian parliamentary law are: To protect a minority and restrain the improvidence and tyranny of a majority, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, when this debate was going on the Member for Humber East was speaking and I went to the table to get a copy of the legislation that was being amended, an amendment that I had been calling for in this House. I returned to my chair to speak to the bill when the member sat down. Now, the Speaker sitting in the House recognized the hon. Minister of Social Services and said as follows: The hon. Minister of Social Services - first of all recognizing him - and then said: if the minister speaks now he will close debate. And at that time, Mr. Speaker, I was rushing back to my seat and said: I wish to speak. Now, I am not objecting to the rule of the Chair, but my breach of parliamentary privilege is that the Minister of Social Services ought to have followed the tradition of every minister of this House when a member wishes to speak on a piece of legislation that he will, or she, will defer to that member and allow that member an opportunity to speak.

Now, this is a very exceptional action on the part of a minister, to continue to speak in a circumstance such we had here this afternoon. There was one speaker on the bill, one speaker on the legislation, only one speaker. Now, if the tyranny of the majority on this side of the House wants to ram through this bill then my privileges as a member are being breached by the failure of the minister to follow the traditions of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member making his point of privilege is quarrelling that he did not get the opportunity to speak. Now, it has been brought up by members a couple of times about speaking. First of all the Speaker recognizes who stands and he cannot anticipate that somebody may stand. It arose yesterday the same when we were giving Ministerial Statements and people in the Opposition, the various critics, the various spokespeople - but if they do not stand in their chair then the Chair cannot recognize them. If a minister stands then that is who the Chair at the time recognized, and if the Chair did not yield there is not much anybody can do about that. The minister insisted on speaking and I say that the Member for St. John's East has not established a prima facie case, and the member said that himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member said that himself, that he was not blaming the Chair. All the Chair could do was recognize the minister who was standing. The fact that the member was not in his seat and the Chair did not yield, that is all we can do about it. The Chair goes back to its original position, there is no point of order, no point of privilege, and the Chair recognizes the Minister of Social Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Humber East in her comments was talking about the recommendations of the Hughes Commission.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the Minister of Social Services and hon members have to do the courtesy to the House that a member can speak without being interfered with. If hon. members want to bring the House down to that level that is all we can do. The Chair is duty bound to enforce the rules, and the Chair will enforce the rules, but hon. members have to follow the rules as well.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying over one third of the recommendations of the Hughes Commission have been acted upon and indeed were acted upon as the Hughes Commission was ongoing. The Member for Humber East was implying that nothing had been done. Well, in fact we had acted quickly and were acting throughout the Hughes Commission in bringing forward recommendations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. GULLAGE: I indeed reported upon those recommendations in I think it was May. May 7 of this year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)

MR. GULLAGE: Subsequent to that, the Minister of Justice reported on additional recommendations of the Hughes Commission acted upon -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

The Chair can't permit this to go on. The Chair is going to recess the House briefly.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair recessed the House because it thought it had reached a level of noise and disorder that couldn't continue. We'll resume from where we finished. I ask the Minister for Social Services to wrap up his remarks, please.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, the recommendations of the Hughes Commission are being carried out and we have acted upon the vast majority - well, not the vast majority, but certainly a lot of them. The remainder are going to be dealt with in the new Child Welfare Act that will be forthcoming.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, this amendment deals with the problem of enforceability of the existing provisions in the Act and makes sure that reporting takes place immediately. If it doesn't take place immediately penalties are prescribed that are being tightened up as far as the Act is concerned, relative to the previous section.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Member for Humber East that all of these changes could have been made during her term of office as Attorney General and Justice Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GULLAGE: I would suggest that - she made a point in her delivery to the House that she asked me my personal opinion on a matter and my answer back was: As a minister, I do not have a personal opinion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, let me clarify for the hon. member who used to be a minister, in case she acted differently at the time, that no minister on this side of the House has a personal opinion. You give that up when you become a minister. So to ask such a ludicrous question is just totally, completely ridiculous.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment to the Act is necessary to make sure that the enforceability of the Act is provided for, that reporting takes place immediately, and that a period of three years is available for reporting of an incident.

This is one amendment of many other amendments that are forthcoming. The remainder of the recommendations of the Hughes Commission will be dealt with and are being dealt with -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GULLAGE: - and those amendments that we want to deal with more quickly, because of necessity such as this one, we will bring them forward. Other recommendations will be contained in the provisions of the new Child Welfare Act which is forthcoming.

Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Child Welfare Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 68).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I had planned to ask the House to deal with two more bills but I think that given the temper of us all perhaps that is not a wise idea.

I wonder if, however, we could deal with Order 39, which is Bill No. 70. That is the one that stands in my name. It is a relatively straightforward bill, I would say, simply to -

MR. R. AYLWARD: There is nothing straightforward in this House when you have denied people the right to speak. There will be nothing straightforward anymore.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is a relatively straightforward bill. If Your Honour would please call it then I shall address it.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Summary Proceedings Act, The Liquor Control Act And The Motorized Snow Vehicles And All-Terrain Vehicles Act." (Bill No. 70).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I shall be quite brief because this is a very straightforward piece of legislation and the House either will agree with it or not agree with it, but it does not take a long time to describe what it does.

Mr. Speaker, we have in this Province today, a substantial number of provincial statutes which create offenses upon their breach. There are two means by which breaches of statutes lead to prosecutions. The House will understand that I am not talking of criminal matters. These are entirely under the procedure laid down by the Parliament of Canada.

A very significant part of the charges laid under provincial statutes fall within a fairly small number of offenses. There are about 12,000 provincial offenses a year dealt with by the provincial courts, and the Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is where offenses of this nature almost inevitably are dealt with. There are appeals through to the Supreme Court for most, if not all of these charges.

Somewhere in the order of 75 per cent of those charges come from breaches of four or five separate sections of two or three acts, and those are the acts that are dealt with in this bill.

Your Honour will no doubt have noted, we are speaking of a few sections in The Liquor Control Act, Section 27, Section 77, and Section 80, and The Motorized Snow Vehicles And All-Terrain Vehicles Act, Section 10.

So that is the reason the particular offenses in this bill have been isolated out and dealt with. Together they generate a very substantial proportion of the provincial offenses that lead to prosecutions being undertaken in the provincial courts.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are two methods in use by which a prosecution is laid and carried forth. One is the system that has been used for a number of years. In fact, I think it was probably introduced during the time that either Mr. Peckford or Mr. Moores was Premier. I am not sure when, but it certainly was after the Smallwood Administration vacated office at the request of the electorate back in the late fall of 1971 and the early winter of 1972. I remember it well, like it was only yesterday.

The Highway Traffic Act system, most of us, I suspect, are familiar with. We have probably had experience with it. I recently got a twenty dollar ticket for parking while attending a meeting at a church, and the ticket was issued under The Highway Traffic Act. What happens is, you are given a ticket that specifies the offenses on the front and on the back it specifies the fines for these offenses. The ticket allows one to make a choice. If one wishes to plead guilty, all that is necessary is to fill in the form and send a cheque or money order - the amount is indicated on the back - in the mail. End of problem. If one wishes to plead not guilty in pursuit of the Charter right to a fair trial and all those things, then one simply appears at the time and place set out on the ticket for appearances, and the matter goes on. That is the way offenses under The Highway Traffic Act are now dealt with.

Offenses under other Statutes are dealt with by means of an information, and a very much more complicated process. Now, I can go into it at whatever length hon. members would like. But let me see if we can just do an overview on it. Some hon. members may have had experience, some may not. An information is sworn out. It is then served upon the person to be charged and the person to be charged must appear in court and enter either a guilty or not guilty plea as the person wishes. A guilty plea deals with it, but with a not guilty plea, then we get into matters being set down for trial.

This bill asks the authority of the House, and if granted will replace the information and charge system with the Provincial Highway Act Ticket system in respect of the offenses laid out in the bill. That is what it will do, that is all it will do. It will enable the courts to move much more efficiently. That will generate considerable savings. I have spoken with the Chief Judge of the court, Judge Luther, who sits in Corner Brook now. He sits in a number of places, but based in Corner Brook. He tells me he and his colleagues on the bench will welcome this. I have spoken with the police authorities, both the RCM Police and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and they would welcome it. It will not, in any way, I assure the House, prejudice the right of an accused to plead not guilty and have a trial in accordance with all of the rights laid down in law and guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

So that is all the bill will do. It repeals the section of The Summary Proceedings Act that deals with traffic offenses, part two, and replaces it with a new one. That is laid out in Section 1 of the bill. Then in Section 2 it amends a number of sections of the Liquor Control Act, and these are the ones, Mr. Speaker, that generate the vast bulk of the offenses. In Section 3 of the bill it will amend The Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act and offence section in that. That is all it does, Mr. Speaker. I think it is a step forward. It is not a matter that requires a great deal of explanation, so I won't say anything more, except to move the bill be now read a second time.

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

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

I want to have a few words this evening on this bill, Bill 70, The Liquor Control Act And The Motorized Snow Vehicles Act And All-Terrain Vehicles Act, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say that the bill is still warm. I saw it today for the first time. It verifies what we have been saying for the last number of days and for the last week. We were not provided with a copy of this bill until today and we should certainly not have dealt with it until some time late this week or next week. I mean, here we go again, the same old story, Mr. Speaker. It was printed today and here we are tonight expected, as members, to scrutinize this piece of legislation and what the implications are for the people of this Province, the people who should know what this government is trying to ram and shove through this Legislature. Ram it through, shove it through, as fast as you can now. It is Christmastime, people are shopping, they won't care about it anyway.

Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of the Legislation Review Committees: Have we ever seen it verified today what it was all about - not referring legislation to those committees? - when we saw what happened with the Member for St. John's East not even being permitted a few minutes to speak on the Child Welfare Act bill, the amendments to that. I have never seen the like in my life here. I have never seen it.

Here we are again with Bill 70, where we are talking about fines and jurisdictions and so on. For members now to be expected to stand in their place tonight and debate a piece of legislation - I mean, seriously. In all fairness to members, I don't know if members opposite care what is in the bills, if they care about reading or understanding what is in the bills, or letting the people of the Province know what legislation their government is ramming through this Legislature late in the fall sitting.

But I tell you, Mr. Speaker, as I said publicly today, we are going to take whatever time is necessary to scrutinise and debate Bill 70, and Bill 68, and Bill 74, and all the other bills that are on that Order Paper.

MS. VERGE: Too smart by half.

MR. MATTHEWS: We are going to scrutinise and debate them and take whatever time it takes, I say to members opposite. It is not going to work. It will not work, what you've tried to do this last week in this House. It will not work, Mr. Speaker. I want to go on record now so members opposite know - so you know, and who you can blame with this stuff. We have co-operated as best we could. We were willing to sit until 7:00 p.m., and so on, each night, and to not unnecessarily delay things. But when you get bullied and walked on, we are not going to tolerate it, I say to members opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the agreement was that we will go to 7:00 p.m. It is now 7:00 p.m., so I am quite prepared to take my place and we will revisit this, Bill 70, I guess it will be on Thursday. It seems that Private Members' Day is tomorrow.


MS. VERGE: Because private members are entitled to have a day a week!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, it being 7:00 p.m., I will take my place and we will deal with it on Thursday.

MR. TOBIN: Move the adjournment of the debate.

MR. MATTHEWS: I adjourn the debate, I guess, Mr. Speaker, is what I'm saying.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member has adjourned the debate and the Chair -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry - adjourned the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: That is a motion?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we can put the motion to the House.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, to that, there was no agreement to sit until 7:00 p.m. I am not going to be tricked by the hon. gentlemen opposite who believe in the tyranny of the minority -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - the tyranny of the minority, which is even worse than a tyranny of the majority.

I move, Mr. Speaker, that the House at its rising do now adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m. when we shall deal with Private Member's Day, unless members otherwise agree, and we shall carry on - and I move that the House do now adjourn.

I will say to hon. gentlemen opposite, we are not going to be bullied by them either, This government are here with a majority and they have a right to bring in a legislative program and a right to ask the House to deal with it, and we are going to do that. We are going to do it in accordance with the rules, Mr. Speaker, and are not going to be bullied by the tyranny of a minority any more than I would -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman from Kilbride -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - somehow believes that being rude and ignorant is a substitute for either intelligence or politeness. Neither will get him anywhere. I have seen better bullies than him, Mr. Speaker, and I have seen less intelligent people than him, believe it or not, in this House. What I say is this government will not be bullied by the tyranny of a minority. We will deal with the rules of this House.

I move the House do now adjourn.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker.

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

There is a motion to adjourn, so the -

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is no provision for (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we have always done this.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no provision for debate unless the hon. member is asking about tomorrow. There is no provision to debate. The motion is to the floor.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify for members on both sides - whether I am recorded or not doesn't matter, members can hear me anyway - that we had an agreement that we will sit until 7:00 p.m.

MR. ROBERTS: No, Sir, we didn't.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I thought that members wanted to leave at 7:00 p.m. Our members do and I am sure members opposite do as well. I was just being co-operative again, but, Mr. Speaker, I have learned the lesson. I say to the Government House Leader, never expect any more co-operation, however long we are here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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