December 23, 1992            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLI  No. 90

The House met at 10:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Point of order, Mr. Speaker. For the last week or ten days we have been having a real set-to here in the House about legislation coming in late and so on. I arrive in my place this morning and find a new Bill tabled here, Bill 666, An Act To Restrain Christmas in the Public Sector of the Province, I say to hon. members. So, I wanted to rise on a point of order to get this into the record this morning and it goes on and on. I am not going to read the contents of the Bill but I want to tell the Government House Leader that after the great progress that we made last evening, where we really got in the Christmas spirit, to come back and find this Bill here this morning. The Bill is in the name of hon. Ebenezer, president of Treasury Board and for hon. members information it was printed by Bob Cratchit, the Queen's Printer. I was wondering if the Government House Leader could defend this piece of legislation?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there is a well known tradition that if you are a good boy you get gifts at Christmas and I would say to my friend from Grand Bank that because he has been a good boy he is now getting gifts at Christmas.

PREMIER WELLS: While you are on your feet move closure on the Bill.

MR. ROBERTS: I have the notice here but what I really want to say-

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: - what I really want to say is that Santa Claus is not Santa Clause by Clause. We will take the matter under advisement and in due course, my friend the Minister of Municipal Affairs will give one of his patented answers on this question.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is blaming you for it.

MR. ROBERTS: It is all your fault Bill. And in the spirit of the season, that it is more blessed to give than to receive, we shall continue in the House as we carried on before. I thank my hon. friend and tell him that we look forward to exchanging more Christmas greetings when we finish this Bill today. My friend from Twillingate makes the point that under the constitution, as it was not revised last Fall, this is a federal responsibility. So we shall refer the matter to Mr. Crosbie and he can deal with it on our behalf. There is a place here for all of us because the enacting Clause begins - be it enacted by Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past, Present and Future, in legislative session convened as follows - and as my hon. friend said it was printed by Bob Cratchit, Queen's Printer, Scrooge's Printer, the guy probably wanted the whole day off at Christmas but we have been able to arrange that here.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I was convinced that it must have been a ministerial statement because I was not provided with an advanced copy of it. I did have one document, Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Christmas that all hon. members will be pleased to know. I think there have been some jokes passed around about it these last few days, but I did in fact receive a very important Christmas greeting from the Efford family-

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - complete with a picture of the Member for Port de Grave and his family and I have been asked to table it as proof.

I would be quite willing to do that but I want to thank the hon. Member for Port de Grave for sending this Christmas greeting. It lets us know that despite the differences we have in this hon. House we do have the spirit of Christmas and that continues despite whatever political differences we may have. I want to wish the Member for Port de Grave and his family and all hon. members a Merry Christmas.

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

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the Member for St. John's East that there is a card missing off my desk and my assistant is now on the unemployment line.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Health today. In the 1992 Budget tabled nine or ten months ago, back in March, the government announced that it was 'exploring ways to reduce substantially the number of hospital boards from twenty-five to five,' and that a facilitator was going to be appointed to explore all the options. I would like to ask the minister if this facilitator completed this examination? Are there now firm proposals on the table with respect to the number and jurisdictions and functions of these boards, and when can we expect an announcement?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The facilitator has not finished her report yet. We had a preliminary document delivered yesterday which I have not had the opportunity to read totally. It contains no recommendations but it does discuss certain issues. We are expecting that the final document will be available late January or early February. I have asked her to do it as quickly as she can because we want to proceed with whatever it is we are going to do.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for the answer and I want to ask him a further supplementary question. I have talked to a number of people involved in heath care, particularly people who serve as volunteers, as he knows, on these hospital boards around the Province and on the board in my own area for example. The question they keep asking, I do not know if the minister can provide the answer to the House, but surely somebody should be able to provide it, what amount of money, some ball park figure at least, what amount of money specifically has been estimated by the minister and his department officials as a savings by reducing the number of hospital boards from twenty to five or twenty to ten, what amount of money specifically has been estimated as a savings in connection with that one specific recommendation or decision that the government said it was going to take?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there has been no precise amount estimated, but in order to enhance health care in the Province we must spend in order to bring in the reforms that are necessary, new measures that are necessary in health to accommodate the future rather than the past. We have to make changes in the health care system for the better, that would improve it, and the one way of doing it will be to have people think more broadly than they do at present because right now we have ever so many hospital boards and nursing home boards operating independently and not always in regional - as I mentioned yesterday, we had these problems about things being located in the wrong places and so on.

We have problems within the City of St. John's, we have problems throughout the Province and while the reduction in the number of boards may save a very small amount of money in respect to meetings and that, the overall concept though, the concept of thinking broadly and trying to deliver the best possible health care within a region, would probably result in a much improved health care system by releasing dollars from areas or modes of expenditure that are current to modes of expenditure that the future demands. I could go into that in more detail, Mr. Speaker, if you wish, but perhaps that is sufficient for now.

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

MR. SIMMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is sufficient for now I guess at the moment, and I think the minister finally has publicly said something that at least members on hospital boards have not been fully aware of. I think the perception was, the reason for the reduction was meant as a cost saving measure more than anything else, that was their perception or at least the ones that I have spoken to on boards. Now the minister has made it clear it is not necessarily a cost saving measure, even though there might be some small saving, the measure is being implemented because the government feels it would be more effective and more efficient and so on, so I thank the minister for making that public, I think, for really the first time in the minds of those people.

Now let me ask him another question in relation to these decisions that the government is intending to make. Can the minister tell this House whether or not the Province is looking at ways of getting out of funding ambulance services that are now provided through community groups, and instead, is looking for private operators to take over that service? Can the minster tell the House whether or not that is a fact, and can he tell us if that specifically is being considered for the South Coast of the Province - down the Harbour Breton way and so on?

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

DR. KITCHEN: A couple of points, Mr. Speaker. I want to correct the hon. member when he said there wouldn't be savings. The actual savings with respect to the boards, themselves may be small, but the overall savings by broad, global thinking could be quite substantial and would release funds that we could spend more appropriately on other matters. So there is a heavy savings component in this initiative, not so much in the fact that we might have one board where we now have five or six or seven or eight, the actual meetings of the boards are not that expensive, it is the global thinking that might - the regional thinking that would bring about savings and the rationalization of services.

The other point I wanted to make, too, is that the volunteers who are working on these hospital boards have done a tremendous service in the past and we hope they will continue to do so in the future.

With respect to the ambulance services that he mentioned, from time to time, we look at the ambulance services in particular areas, and wonder if there are easier and more cost-saving measures to do so. Certain initiatives are under way, but not in any global fashion. It is done in more or less a piecemeal fashion, because again a lot of the ambulance services are provided by volunteer groups and we are very, very glad that they are there helping us provide this service.

I cannot answer your question with respect to the Harbour Breton area, off the top, but I can look it up and let you know privately, if the House is not open. That is about all I can do with it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, if the minister is suggesting we keep the House open, we are quite prepared to do that. He is fully aware of that, I guess, by now. If he wants to do that, we are prepared to wait.

Let me ask him a supplementary question, Mr. Speaker, another that is specifically district-oriented and also dealing with the Harbour Breton area.

I have spoken with people on the hospital board from that particular area, and they have told me that the previous minister, his predecessor, has indicated or promised those people for quite some time that the area would get a new facility or an improved facility. That is what they have told me. The cottage hospital down there is fifty years old, I think, and badly in need of repair.

I want to ask the minister: Is he aware of that commitment? Does the government, in fact, intend to do anything in terms of either constructing a new facility down there or improving on the one that is there? If so, when can the people expect the work to begin?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the only commitment I could find in all the - I met with the people from Harbour Breton. I visited the hospital and had a meeting with the board there, the members of the board who could be free for the time we were there. I also met with the overall board in Grand Falls that looks after the area. While in Harbour Breton, I was very much impressed with the quality of that facility and the way the people were operating that facility, and I complimented them.


DR. KITCHEN: In Harbour Breton. I complimented them. But they took that to mean they were never going to get a new facility, because I complimented them on how well the present one was being run. So they are bit nervous about that compliment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: No. You should pay tribute where tribute is due, and I have always tried to do that. I was very much impressed with the way the people were operating that hospital. I made no commitment to them, because I don't like making commitments unless we have the finances to follow through on it. But I did note that they thought the previous minister had made a commitment. So I looked it up and the commitment, if I remember it, was just that it would be in the long-range plan or something to that effect.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I can say that the hospital does need to be replaced. The building, itself, is old and should be replaced in time. But it is not amongst the top priority items in the department to be done in the next year or two. It is in the works and we will be able, hopefully, to address that as time and circumstances dictate.

Thank you.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I thank the minister for being forthcoming and explaining clearly to the people there. I raised the question for precisely the same reason the minister did. I, too, met with the full board, including the representatives from that area, and that is where the question arose. They brought it to my attention.

I can understand, Mr. Speaker, why the members of the board and those people would be nervous, as the minister said, about a commitment made by him or his government, because there have been too many experiences by other groups in the Province. Many of them have become nervous as well.

May I ask one final question, Mr. Speaker? This government came to office in 1989, promising among other things, to keep hospital beds open as long as the demand existed, but according to the hospital and nursing home association, beds have closed since 1989, and I want to ask the minister: does he have any idea exactly the number of acute care beds in this Province that have been closed since the government came to office in 1989. Does he have any idea at all of the number of acute care beds that have been closed and can he tell us if those closures result from a lack of demand or a huge drop in demand for acute care beds? Is that the reason?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have not the figures on the number of acute care beds but I can assure the hon. member that the health care services in the Province have never been better, that the changes that have been made were good ones, in the sense that any beds that were closed were not used and not used where vacancies were quite heavy, utilization was low and things of that nature, and no doubt there could very well be where that situation occurs in the future, if we see for instance a ward with twenty beds and only three or four operating, three or four people in it over a long period of time, it is only right and proper that some adjustments should be made in that situation so that we do not waste money, when we need money so desperately in health care for other matters. The number of things that we have to do in health care is so great and the budget is so restrained that we cannot afford to waste money. We have to be very careful with what we do. I agree with the thought expressed; I cannot answer the questions as to how many were closed but if you like, I can dig it out again.

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

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

I have a question this morning for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

On October 27th, the Minister of Finance and the President of Treasury Board, announced that the government would be selecting consultants to do design work for fourteen capital works projects, it was announced a couple of months ago. Have these consultants been selected for this work and what process did the minister use to select the consultants?

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that with respect to these projects, all the consultants have been selected for those projects. The process used to select these consultants was basically determined by the time constraints under which we were operating. As all hon. members will recall, when the statement was made with respect to these projects, the objective was to put these teams in place so that the design work could be done as quickly as possible, to provide for an early start for construction in the '93 construction year, based upon the availability of capital funds which would be assessed at that time. Given the fact that expediency was required, recommendations for consultants were developed by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and selection for consultants were made by Cabinet.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, would the minister tell this House if he is aware of how many of these contracts Structural Consultants Limited, received?

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

MR. GOVER: Off hand, Mr. Speaker, I cannot say. My guess of the consultants appointed, my guess would be none, but I would have to get the list and check that.

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

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

I do not know who they are by the way, I do not know the names, but my information is that they had seven of the contracts. Mr. Speaker, several engineering companies made proposals prior to this October announcement on other announcements that the government made and they had their proposals in place when the new announcements came out, which was only a re-announcement of most of them, they were not very new.

Mr. Speaker, the ones who had proposals in, in the first instance, were they selected for the projects that they had proposals in or, were people and engineering companies selected for some of these projects who did not have proposals in, in either instance.

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

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member is confusing two things here, the prime consultant for the project was selected by Cabinet. The team that each prime consultant had was at the discretion of the prime consultant. There was no selection of the structural engineering firms or the sub-trades or the sub-engineering firms by the government. Once the prime consultant was selected, the prime consultant put together their own team. Now, it may very well be that this particular firm, which to my understanding is not a prime consultant, may be carried by several of the prime consultants that were selected. But there was a conscience decision made by the department that we would not get into the sub-trades and the sub-engineering required because these teams have to work together. They have to work together in a spirit of co-operation. The prime consultants know who they can work with. An expedition was of the essence and that would be defeated by forcing groups together. So, while the selection of the prime consultant was made by Cabinet, the team put together was at the discretion of the prime consultant.

There was one other point in the members question that I wanted to address but I must confess I have forgotten what it was but that was the reason, what the member says may be in fact correct, that on these sub-grades and these components of the team that were selected by the prime consultant, one firm may have gotten a significant amount of work.

The other point I wanted to make was, he asked about where proposal calls had been made with respect to the projects, where proposals were called for some of these projects, Mr. Speaker, the proposals were taken into consideration in making the selection of the prime consultants and my understanding is that where proposals were called the consultant selected had submitted a proposal on that particular project.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It might be an appropriate time, the last question period, to remind hon. members again about the necessity for brevity of questions and brevity of answers as well and I have noticed in the last couple of days that maybe the answers have become drawn out, hon. members know the rules and I ask them to follow them.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary. Will the minister before the day is out, table in this House of Assembly a list of the prime consulting firms which were selected, Mr. Speaker, and would he table that today? I think he said in the last of his answer, all the prime consultants that were selected, did they have proposals on the projects that they were selected for?

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

MR. GOVER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, with respect to these projects, some of the projects had had proposal calls, some did not. On those where there were proposal calls it is my understanding that the consultants that were selected for those projects had submitted a proposal.

MS. VERGE: Maybe not for the same project.

MR. GOVER: Now, Mr. Speaker, that is my understanding and I have no hesitation, Mr. Speaker, in tabling a list of the projects and the prime consultants selected.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker, when the minister is tabling the list, will he include on his list whether that prime consultant had a proposal on that project before they were selected?

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

MR. GOVER: I have no hesitation in tabling a list of the projects, the consultants and if proposals were called and if those proposals were valid, did the consultant selected have a proposal in?...No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. This morning, Mr. Speaker, an individual who has been spending the last four or five years trying to establish a Christmas tree operation, was complaining about the

Department of Forestry and Agriculture. It forced him to conclude, as a result of the runaround that he was getting, that the Department of Forestry and Agriculture did not know the difference between a tree and a turnip.

While I am tempted to ask the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture whether he does, I would prefer to ask a serious question and ask the minister whether or not the Department of Forestry and Agriculture has figured out how to deal with proposals for setting up Christmas tree operations? Is there, in fact, a dispute within his department between the forestry people and the agriculture people as to how this could be done? Why does it take five years for an individual to try and get some Crown land to be able to operate a Christmas tree farm or a Christmas tree operation?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, the previous administration -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FLIGHT: No, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: Seriously.

MR. FLIGHT: Seriously. I am very well aware of the individual, I think, to whom the hon. member is referring, and I can tell this House that I personally met with that gentleman some time ago. Other ministers have met with that gentleman some time ago. The Department of Forestry and Agriculture has made available at least four or five different sites - have offered at least four or five different sites. We have indeed approved land for him to rear Christmas trees.

This particular individual is set on a certain site in a certain very confined area that was silviculturally treated. There are good, justifiable reasons for not permitting the Christmas tree farm to be established on that particular land. So, recognizing that, we have offered that particular individual at least four different sites, and various concessions, and we cannot seem to satisfy him. I am sorry the way it is. The department has made the decision that it is not in anyone's better interest to allocate that particular piece of land. We have bent over backwards to accommodate that gentleman and we will continue to, as long as he is prepared to be reasonable.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister did not answer the question as to whether or not there was a dispute within his department between the forestry people and the agriculture people as to who is in charge of this problem. I will ask him to do that, and also to tell us, while we are still suffering from, or affected by, a serious problem of importation of Christmas trees in this Province - we still have Nova Scotia trees coming here - have we, in fact, over the last number of years, developed a local Christmas tree growing industry that is involved in export itself? Can the minister tell us about that?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, there are private companies, individuals, in this Province, looking at the possibility of exporting Christmas trees, and doing research. There are dozens of Christmas tree operations in the Province.

I can tell the hon. member that there are thousands and thousands of Christmas trees cut in Newfoundland, on the Avalon Peninsula for instance, that will go to the dump - that will not be utilized for Christmas trees.

We cannot dictate to the consumer whether they buy a Nova Scotian tree or a Newfoundland tree. We have offered advice that people should patronize locally produced Christmas tree lots, but the fact is that what is causing us great concern, and should cause the hon. member great concern, is that under permit from this government, under permit from the Department of Forestry and Agriculture, that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Christmas trees cut and wasted - lost to the resource - where people just go out, indiscriminately cut, and they go to the dump. We have many concerns about the Christmas tree industry in this Province.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

In the Ministerial Financial Statement of December 4th, the Minister of Finance said: A fiscal measure involving increasing vehicle and driver registration fees to raise an additional $1 million.

Could the minister advise the House today how much the driver fees and the vehicle fees will increase, and when will it become effective?

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

MR. GOVER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I believe the measure required to generate the million dollars outlined in the Financial Statement was an across the board $15 increase on renewals, and that would be effective on the next batch of renewals.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. I note that in the statements made by Mr. Crosbie just a few days ago, he talked about professionalization and certification of fishermen and in the notes I read he said in future qualifying as a bona fide fisherman will require a process of professionalization and certification by the Province in which the individual lives. Obviously the Province has been involved and consulted and has a plan for this. Could the minister inform the House what the process will be for professionalization and certification of fishermen?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, yes, the Province will be involved in it but the process has not been worked out yet, not the details of it, but it is now being worked on and I expect sometime shortly after New Years we will be able to make a definitive statement as to exactly what will take place.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: A supplementary to the minister. Does the minister have a target date whereby the Province will implement professionalization and certification? Do they have a date set whereby this mechanism will kick in? Could he inform the House of that? When will this become effective, where a fisherman will have to be professionalized and certified?

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

MR. CARTER: There is no target date as such, Mr. Speaker, except to say that it will be done as rapidly as possible.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: I was wondering, Mr. Speaker, if the minister could tell the House really - I have heard some reports during the last couple of days that there will be some grandfathering provisions. I am wondering if there will be a cut-off, if you will have to be in the fishery for a specific period of time? Say someone getting into the fishery in the past two years or eighteen months, who is duly licensed and has a boat, will there be provision for these people to be professionalized and certified or will we indeed see people eliminated in that category?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, there will have to be a grandfathering in process in the professionalization of fishermen. It certainly would not be fair to take a fisherman who has been at the business now for the past twenty or thirty years or five or six or eight years and to suddenly require him to take the same kind of training for example and go through the same procedure as a person just entering the fishery but yes there will be a grandfathering in for the process.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the minister could inform the House, is it the objective of professionalization and certification to reduce the number of fisherman, the number of persons fishing in the Province? Would that be the objective and if so would the minister be able to inform us, how many people does he imagine that will come out of the fishery? What will be the numbers that will be reduced and eliminated from the fishery because of this process of professionalization and certification?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I should remind the hon. gentleman that the matter of licensing a fisherman is a responsibility of course, of the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Professionalization will undoubtedly, Mr. Speaker, have that effect of reducing the number of people in the fishing industry but it will also have the effect of ensuring, Mr. Speaker, that those that are engaged in the fishery are properly trained and are able to take their place in what is a very important industry in Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East, time for a short question.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The minister said last month he would resign if he did not have the Municipal Capital Works Budget ready by Christmas, it does not seem to be ready, will the minister resign?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HOGAN: No, Mr. -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: Thank you for your protection, Mr. Speaker. I said I would resign if I did not have it ready, I have it ready but I have not shown it to anybody yet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HOGAN: I cannot table it because I do not carry it around with me. Mr. Speaker, in all sincerity I am not going to test -

MR. FLIGHT: That is a good answer. That is the best answer this week.

MS. VERGE: Santa knows who is telling the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HOGAN: Thank you, for your protection, Mr. Speaker. In all sincerity the necessary work has been done on these capital projects and in light of the fiscal restraint or whatever concerns that have arisen in the last couple of weeks and in particular the three weeks or so that we had to spend on facing the restraint measures within the various departments, that the list has been developed, it is not finalized and it has to be given the final considerations for submission to Cabinet, hopefully by the next Cabinet meeting, if not sometime early in the new year. I want to assure all municipalities and all contractors and engineering firms that have show an interest in an early announcement on this, that the announcements will be made well early enough for them to prepare adequately to start the work early in the Spring.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: Answers to questions?

MS. VERGE: Answers to questions. I asked questions through the order paper more than a week ago, questions to the Minister of Tourism and Culture about government funding for arts and culture centres and I have not received the answers. The order paper requested the minister to lay the information asked for, on the table of the House. I would like the minister to tell us when he is going to provide the answers?

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

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, allow me to begin by apologizing first and foremost for not having the material ready to present at this point in time, we are drafting it. The question was somewhat detailed in the sense that the amount of information you looked for, also projected into the future and I wanted to make sure that I had it complete. As a matter of fact, I said to the member before I even knew it was on the order paper that I was going to prepare the information because I understand that she had inquired about it. I was then advised, well it is on the order paper, you have to bring it anyway. But I make a commitment that if not by the next sitting of the House, I will provide it to the hon. member very quickly in the New Year, certainly before the 10th of January, I make that commitment to her.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: Being that we are under restricted orders, according to the resolution made yesterday for debating the Bill related to the municipalities utility tax and that there was somebody debating that when we adjourned.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I will not spend very much time on this but there are some important points that have to be brought out. One of the major concerns we have with this Bill is, how government is imposing its weight upon other tax levying agencies in the Province, especially municipalities, telling them what to charge, how to charge it, etc. It could be extremely dangerous taking away the powers that locally elected bodies should have. The aim of the Bill, or I presume what government is hoping to achieve, that there be a more standardized tax rate in the Province, I must say I am not against. For quite some time I have had some major concerns with the fact that certain municipalities were gouging, I think would be the word use, the utility companies to the point where other municipalities who were just meeting their local requirements, in some cases were not able to do so. Those local municipalities then in turn decided well, if one can do it, we can do it also. We are seeing more and more jacking up their rates to the utility companies and I certainly think that that is unfair and there is a standard level of taxation which will be right and proper to charge but I think that should be settled between the municipality and the utilities and not imposed by government.

There were certainly councils in the Province who were taking advantage of the situation of having municipalities, having equipment and so on, placed in their area and they were charging rates which were exorbitant. The Premier, when he was speaking on this, I believe when questions were asked stated that utilities are really now going to pay more than they paid under the old system. I find that a little bit hard to believe because I believe most municipalities certainly charged the minimum of 2 per cent and many of them more, some of them substantially more. The Premier however, could be correct in what he says about the total amount that they will now pay out, will be greater than they paid out before but I wonder if, when he is speaking or when the minister speaks, if he will give us a breakdown because we see different mechanisms for paying right now. We see utilities or utility companies will now have to pay taxes for areas which are not incorporated, which they never had to do before. So, consequently the government now is going to be the beneficiary of some of the tax money that flows from the various utility companies. Up to now the companies paid the local taxes to the council or the municipality involved but now we find that government is going to collect on areas of the Province which are not incorporated. Now, I would think that there are not a tremendous amount of areas not incorporated but still when you look at Newfoundland Light and Power, telephone companies, cable companies, the amount would be significant and certainly would add to the debt load of the companies.

Along with that, we find that the bite is now put on cable companies, some of whom at least up to now, have evaded paying taxes to the various municipalities. So that money is also factored in, so if we add that along with the money paid on the unincorporated areas, then it could be that there could be more money flowing to the agencies, whether it be the local municipalities or government now, than the total before. It might be interesting to see if Newfoundland Light and Power for instance, as an individual taxpayer will be paying more now than it did before and I am not sure whether it will or not as a unit.

Speaking of Newfoundland Light and Power, Mr. Speaker, when we see government getting involved in regulating the amount of money that these major companies have to pay out, especially to local governments, it is a bit of a concern because we have heard so much about the deals made to try to help Newfoundland Hydro and Newfoundland Light and Power, that it makes one a little bit suspicious. One of the major concerns, I think a lot of people have when they heard the floater from St. John's South talking about privatizing Newfoundland Hydro. We wonder where the ideas are really coming from because when you hear members from the back bench, and we have seen it on a number of occasions when the government wants to bring in new policies or introduce new ideas, especially if they are of a major concern, we usually see the ideas floated out first by somebody in the backbench. The Member for Eagle River was famous for it, the Member for Pleasantville, the Member for St. John's South, and usually they are the pre-runners, the John the Baptists of the government. Going out, tossing around ideas so that government gets the feel of what the people think.

Of course government does not get any flack up front because it is only a private member kicking around ideas. Pretty interesting to see however, that quite often when these backbenchers float around ideas, and everyone who knows them certainly would recognize the fact that it is not their own idea because they would not think of it, that it is really coming from government that they are asked to float the idea around, then we have some concerns with what is happening.

When we realize the connection between Newfoundland Hydro and government, and Newfoundland Light and Power and government, then we are always suspicious when we see anything happening that gives these major companies a break, or when we talk about privatization we wonder who the principals are who would really benefit from such a deal. So there are concerns about the Bill particularly, as I said, government interfering directly with the amount of money that local agencies can charge.

A second major concern is Clause 7, where a council now may by resolution impose upon the consumer who resides within that city or municipality served by the council, a municipal utility tax calculated as a percentage of the cost of service to be paid or payable by that consumer to a utility. Of course, it would be collected at the time of the sale, so the utility companies would collect the tax for the council, which basically puts forth to each council a very lucrative offer to start charging an extra tax - a consumer tax - to make up for the downfall or the shortfall that they now find themselves having on account of the government interfering in how they can collect their tax.

What this is doing is what we see government doing generally, not only in utility taxation right now, but in everything else - in school board funding, in general municipal funding, in health care costs - down loading on the local consumer; down loading on the local area. It is going to put such a level of taxation on consumers, especially in areas where the standard of living - I will not say the standard of living - the annual income is low. People can manage in rural Newfoundland on a very low income, but when they are hit with high taxation then that certainly cuts into their ability to be able to exist in such areas. It is almost another way of forcing centralization.

Everything this government seems to do is to place a burden on the taxpayer in areas where the taxpayer is receiving very little for the amount of taxes that he is now forced to pay. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that one of the philosophies of this government is to equalize taxation.

If the Premier had his wish, as we have often heard him say, he believes that everybody should pay an equal amount of taxation. There is nothing wrong with that provided it is a level playing field, but certainly when we look at the amount of income in areas of our Province compared to others, and in particular - income may not be the sole justifying point for taxation, because if a person who makes $20,000 a year is receiving the same benefits as somebody paying $60,000 well maybe he should pay the same amount, but the point is, where you do not receive the same benefits.

If you are living in a large incorporated area where you have your water and sewer and garbage collection and street lighting and adequate fire protection - we could go on and on and on - then undoubtedly you are expected to pay for that. But when you are living in a rural area where you probably do not have water or sewer, where you may not have street lighting, where probably garbage collection is the only benefit you have, where your roads are not paved, in many cases the local roads - and now, even if they are, government has cut away the local roads component of their municipal grant so that they cannot maintain the roads.

I notice the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs nodding his head because he knows, representing areas where there are a lot of local roads, that many of these councils who depended heavily on the local road component are going to have tremendous trouble maintaining the roads. When the Spring comes and the drains are blocked, and the shoulders of the local roads wash away, and the pavement - if they have pavement - all crumbles up and disappears, how are these local councils going to fix up and maintain the road? How are they going to pay the $1,000 a kilometre that they have to pay the Department of Highways to clear the roads? Or if they have to hire local contractors, if they have a bad winter with a lot of snow, how are they going to afford to pay to have the roads cleared?

It is an extremely touchy situation where we see areas that have practically no services, that are hit with very, very, heavy local costs due to the extent of the number of local roads and so on that they have, and the general costs in servicing areas.

Nobody knows better than most members. Because we all get hit I'm sure with requests from areas for water lines and sewer lines and so on. Trying to service Newfoundland is not a cheap proposition. Many of the areas consequently do not have the services. Because government can't afford to give them to them, and even if they did they can't afford to maintain them. So if they haven't got the services then they should not be expected to pay for services that they haven't got.

This is really what we're seeing happening. Gradually this government is shifting the tax burden from - raising the money themselves and distributing it on a fair and equitable basis, shifting the burden down to the people at the local area, and trying to do it in a way so that everybody shares equally in that tax burden. That is extremely unfair.

The same philosophy is followed by the Premier and government when they talk about cutting back the number of seats in the Province. Because where the burden is really going to be - especially if the Premier gets his way - in relation to the representation, where you have an equal number of people represented by each member. That might work if all of us, once again, were on a level playing field. But if you're serving the south coast or you're serving St. Mary's Bay or you're serving Placentia Bay, you know the amount of work load that you have and the number of agencies with which you have to deal, and the amount of personal problems. Because every problem is a member's problem.

When you compare that to the work load of people who represent the larger areas then just geographically speaking it is extremely unfair. What it's doing, it's downloading again the burden on the backs of people, especially in the rural areas, and there's no way that members serving larger constituencies than they have at present will be able to do justice to their people.

So I think government's whole philosophy is incorrect in all of this. In particular, when we look at the regulations in Clause 9, where basically the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, meaning Cabinet, can do practically anything at all. They can prescribe the rates, the changes, whatever. So what we see here is a direct infringement by government on the duties and responsibilities of the local councils.

If this is only step one, then I think what we're going to see is many councils saying: if government wants to run the show let them run the show. Let them collect the taxes, let them provide the services out here, and we'll just sit back and let them run it all from Confederation Building, because it seems that's what they want to do anyway. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Section 122 of the Municipalities Act gives municipalities the right to tax a business and utility companies. Basically what's happening here is a part of an overall agenda. I'd like to focus first of all on the global aspect of this utilities tax.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: As a province that's depending upon equalization payments to the tune of $900 million, it's recognised within the Canadian federation that parts of this country that do not have the same basic opportunities to generate revenues, there's a sharing to an extent of these revenues across the country. Those have provinces contribute in good times to provinces that are have not, through the federal channel.

Here in this Province the same analogy should be made to this move by government to amalgamate or urbanize the entire Province. While it's not there in concept it's there in the financial aspect. So basically what's happening here in this Province is that there's been a cutback in funding to municipalities. The utilities tax enables municipalities to charge 2.5 per cent. Many municipalities are put in very dire straits because of legislation that's now limiting their ability to tax under Section 122 of the Municipalities Act.

So overall what is really happening, a lot of municipalities dependent upon their MOG's to be able to operate their communities and especially in rural areas where the cost of servicing is much larger per capita then in urban areas of the Province. So, basically what has happened now is that by virtue of limiting their ability to raise revenues, they have crippled these communities in their operation. Communities now have to depend upon the tax base in rural areas that are substantially less than in urban areas. So why we agree with transfer payments and equalization and we complain we have $49 million less, the rural areas of this Province are using the same argument now that this government is doing the same thing by not enabling rural areas to have an opportunity to be able to operate their communities on a fair basis.

I would like to look a little closer at that, for instance rural areas had a transportation component or a roads component in the MOG's. This roads component constituted in some communities, and I have letters, 25 per cent of the revenues for that basic community, this has disappeared. Furthermore, what this government has done now, they have really contravened what they have set out also in certain areas in taxation. In number 38 in your strategic economic plan, they recommended a standard common assessment base for a municipal business taxes with particular emphasis on the tax burden on capital and equipment. What this government has done, they have contravened number 38 in the strategic economic plan, where they are now saying they are not going to standardize the assessment base with emphasis on capital and equipment. They have exempted equipment in municipalities now for the taxation purposes.

Basically business in urban areas, shopping malls and all other businesses are utilized by rural areas. The size of their business and the taxes that they generate, based on their business tax or property assessments, depends upon their business. A lot of business in the urban areas here in St. John's and other centres comes from rural areas of the Province. So as more rural people utilize facilities that are in urban areas, the urban business expands in line but all of the revenue from these urban businesses are going back into their urban areas, even though they are contributed by people in rural areas. I think we have an obligation as a Province to see that inequities are eliminated. We do it and attempt to do it on a federal level through $900 million almost this year, basically in equalization, that is not happening. The squeeze is coming on even, to an extremist extent, in municipalities here in this Province.

I will use one example, the utilities tax in one community alone will take $145,000 out of one community in our district and some may say that they overcharged. Well, basically yes, that is correct. If one did overcharge to a certain extent, that is 30 some per cent of their entire budget, $145,000 in a community of 1,000 people, it equates to an increase in property tax of $500 per household to recover this money, $500 per household in order to recover what they are losing in utilities tax alone. That is not counting their $23,000 in MOG's, that is another $50. Almost $600 per household it is going to cost this year because of the change in the utilities tax along with the impact from the MOG's.

Overall, what has happened here too, this government has indicated that it is their intent to harmonize taxes, GST and RST. So what in effect they are doing by harmonizing taxes, right now on light bills there is no RST, by harmonizing taxes we are going to have RST paid on utility bills. So, in other words there is an extra grab by this Province, an extra grab and an extra attack upon the consumer in the community because that consumer now is going to be hit in the near future with harmonization, not only a GST on an electric bill, they are going to be hit with an RST from the harmonization aspect and then to go back and ask these municipalities to put a consumption tax on top of that again for people in that specific community. I think there is a gross inequity here, in the sense that people in rural areas that have a higher cost per capita, to be able to meet the needs of the community now, are not having the opportunity to tax a business that operates across this Province. All other companies and people doing business, the municipality had the right to tax them at a level that would be able to sustain a certain level of service in that community. Technically what'll happen in this Province, we'll end up with about three or four or five urban areas in this Province, because the rural areas can't have an opportunity to be able to meet their needs, to service the needs of that community.

There are communities that because of this hardships are going to eliminate lights in the community. There's one community in my district that just cut $10,000 from the budget by taking out street lights. Every second street light in the community that was there went. They just can't meet the needs.

The minister indicated that they would give assistance to ones that had difficulty. He stated at a meeting of all municipalities back in June and he came back, and not one case was looked at. The utilities tax is going to produce - they were looked at on the surface. They didn't look at payables, they just looked at the amount of money they had in the bank. If you look at the amount of money they have in the bank right now it'd be a completely different assessment.

One municipality just wrote recently and got a response that they're not going to get any assistance at all. In fact, not one municipality has received or will receive assistance because of this in my district. I don't know of any in the Province, to my knowledge. I think it's important that where a 2.5 per cent limitation is placed upon municipalities - I know there's a provision to ease that burden. One-third of that extra amount in January of 1993, a one-third reduction, and back to... two-thirds of that will be back in 1994. But in 1995 the full impact is still going to be there.

In an area where we have increasing urbanization in this Province - and across the country, up to 60 per cent now live in urban areas - there is a bigger shift in the urban areas and a lower population in rural areas to be able to sustain those particular costs. So the squeeze is going to become greater in the future than it is right now.

So I certainly ask the minister to look at that specific area. The impact that harmonization that the government has indicated they will proceed with is going to have upon municipalities because an extra added taxation is going to go on these municipalities now.

There's also a bit of a tax grab here too. Because all nonincorporated areas now are going to have to pay to the Crown. They're going - consolidated revenue fund is going to go into the revenues of this Province now in nonincorporated areas. Basically, in corporated areas now, they have frustrated municipal governments, especially in rural areas. To the point that they are saying that they are not going to continue to serve on councils. They'll let councils dissolve when they see local service districts have better roads, they have an opportunity for better services than municipalities that have high tax burdens. Households paying several hundred dollars. They're asking: why do it? Is it worth the effort?

Basically overall I think we have a very severe problem here because of this utilities tax. I think there are a lot of shortfalls in this that could be addressed by having special funds, or the funds that are collected in nonincorporated areas, to cushion the impact on small communities. That's not happening. It's just being gobbled up in the revenues of this Province here, and I think they have a responsibility to ease that particular burden.

Mr. Speaker, those are just a few of the points I wanted to make,. I hope the minister has taken note of these. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

If the hon. minister speaks now he closes the debate.

MR. HOGAN: Just to respond to a couple of the items that were raised by hon. members. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes brought up about the extra amounts that would be paid out by the company. My recollection is that to the incorporated areas in the Province the company, Newfoundland Light, would pay out an extra $2.4 million. The telephone company again by recollection would pay out about a quarter of a million dollars extra in the corporated areas.

Now they're based on 1991 knowledge, I guess, statistics, 1991 taxes, 1991 revenues and expenditures by the various companies. In the nonincorporated areas I think the calculation that was made and brought to my attention was around $2.5 million to $3 million. This might be what could be received based again on 1991 figures and information that was ascertained from the various companies and property owners in the Province and that again is speculation but it is good guestimated figures based on our experience and knowledge in the department and those of us that were discussing the ramifications of that particular time. The other point, I say to my hon. friend for Ferryland, he was raising the fact that we were telling the municipalities how to set their taxes. Municipalities back, Mr. Speaker, since 1966 have been asking us to do that exact same thing, this particular tax and this tax only, in order to bring some sanity and uniformity to the whole utility tax regime. I would also point out that I think the section that he is reading in the strategic plan for the Province, he is looking at it in reverse, that you probably see changes that will assist and encourage businesses to remove equipment and that from Section 122 that he is talking about that is in fact the section it is in. With these few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, " An Act Respecting The Taxation Of Utilities and Cable Television Companies," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House now, by leave. (Bill No. 73).

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: On motion, clauses 1 through 6, carried.

Shall Clause 7 carry?

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

MR. HEARN: Just very briefly on Clause 7, just to reiterate a concern I raised earlier that the councils are being encouraged to charge a tax on the services provided which undoubtedly many of them will and we are just downloading again so I just want to flag that concern. Mainly I just wanted to say, Mr. Chairman, that this may well be, provided we have an election before the next session of the House, it may well be my last day in the House and I just wanted to wish hon. members a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year, more prosperous for this side than for the other side of course. But I just want to say in the event that I do not get the chance to say it again that the last ten-and-a-half years I have enjoyed this, I am going to miss it tremendously, all the smiling faces on the other side and I just hope that all of you continue to work with the dedication that you've shown over the years for a better Province. Hopefully because of our stay in the House Newfoundland and Labrador will be a little bit better than it was previously. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I shall be very brief. I know that my colleagues on this side would want me to say a word or two to mark the occasion that the hon. gentleman for St. Mary's - The Capes may be in his last day in the House. I can't go beyond that.

I would say to him three things. Number one, there is life after elected politics in the House of Assembly, as I know better than most. Number two, that -

MS. VERGE: It couldn't have been as good, though.

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

MS. VERGE: It couldn't have been as good or you wouldn't have come back.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, there are those who wonder why I have come back. My bank manager, my psychiatrist, my mother, my wife. But I say to him, there is life after elected politics. My second point is that when he leaves, as he is of his own volition, as I left. It's an honourable way out of politics. Simply when an election comes not to seek re-election. It's equally honourable to go out at the request of the electorate. We come in at their request and if we go out at their request, so be it.

I would say to him as it was said to me, that while the light holds out to burn the vilest sinners may return, in the words of that grand old Methodist hymn. He may yet - who knows what the future may hold? He may yet be back in the House. If so, whoever sits here at this time will welcome him.

Thirdly, I want to say that both personally - because he and I were in the House together during my Mark 1 political experiences. On behalf of all of my colleagues here who worked with him, one or the other, that it's not only a pleasure to work with him, he has left this House, this Province and his constituency a better place for having been there. That's all that any of us can ever hope to achieve. That's all that any of us should ever achieve. Because we are but ships that pass in the night. In the sense that the House has been here for 160 years, near enough, with a brief interruption in the mid-thirties and through the 'forties, but members come and members go.

Those of us who are here, from time to time if we can feel when we've come to lay down the burdens of office, which can be heavy, if we can feel that at the end of that we have made a contribution, left the place better than we found it, than that I think is a considerable achievement. I know I speak for all members on this side, and I'm sure I speak for all members on all sides of the House, when I say that the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes can say that he has done that.

It's been a pleasure to know him and we hope we'll see him again. Not necessarily across the House, but wherever fate may bring us together we look forward to it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, while we're still on this Bill and we -

MR. FUREY: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology on a point of order.

MR. FUREY: While we're still dealing with the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, I wonder would the hon. member yield for a second? The former Minister of Education, the Member for St. John's North, wanted to say a word publicly about his imminent demise.

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

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the hon. member for giving me the opportunity to add just a word to what the House Leader has said. I had an odd feeling when I just realised that this may be the member's last day in the House. In fact, my hair stood on end.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

DR. WARREN: No, it was an interesting feeling. Because I want to pay tribute to the hon. member.

I remember the first day in the House that I arrived as the Minister of Education. The critic got up to ask me a question. I was nervous. I've said that on two or three occasions. I was a bit nervous. Two things put me at ease. One was the way in which the member asked the question. I shall always remember that. The respect and the tone with which he asked the question. I remember, of course, the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains, before I had a chance to respond to the question, said: come clean, tell the truth! All my worries and fears disappeared, dissipated.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was your cousin.

DR. WARREN: That was my cousin. I do want to pay tribute to the hon. member. Not only for the way in which he handled his role as critic but as a leader in education. There are two things that distinguish leaders in government or in education. The first thing is that a leader gets things done.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or in Opposition.

DR. WARREN: Or in Opposition. The first thing, a leader gets things done. This is oversimplifying leadership. It gets things done. Secondly, he respects people in the process of getting things done. He treats people as "human beings." The hon. member did that as a Minister of Education and as a member. He did that. So he was a leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: I could list the major achievements that were done, or the things that were achieved, when he was the minister, but I won't do that, and when he served in other capacities in government. I want to refer specifically to his work in education. He got things done and in the process he certainly treated people with respect and worked as part of a team.

Of course, he will always be recognised for the appointment that he made to a very famous task force. He was the one who searched the whole country to get the best person qualified in the area of school finance. Everybody you talked to across the country said: you have him right back in the Province. He came back and he pleaded with me, he begged me, he bribed me. I finally accepted the appointment. But he'll be distinguished.

More seriously, though, I think what he will be remembered for in this House, if this is his last day indeed, is what he thought about - the importance that he assigned to education. He believed that education was the most important investment a society can make. I'm delighted to share that belief with him. He believed in education as the key to our future. I want to pay tribute to him, and I want to wish him and his family best wishes in the future. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd be remiss if I didn't add a few comments, I guess, on this... what some people expect might be an auspicious occasion. On the other hand, I dare say if the House opens again in February or March we'll have to do it all over it again. There's that potential. That's fine, there's no problem with that.

Following on this clause, dealing with this particular matter, this most important matter, since it has been raised, I too want to say publicly to members of the House that the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes has not only shown outstanding leadership in any responsibility that he's undertaken as a member of a government, Cabinet, or whatever, but he has shown outstanding leadership to the people and the constituents whom he's represented for ten years. That's been evident by the tremendous support that he receives from the voters of St. Mary's - The Capes. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, just about every election that he's run - and there have been three, 1982, 1985 and 1989, I believe it is - he gets 70 per cent or 80 per cent of the vote all the time. I think that's probably the best indication that the member is doing a tremendous job.

Certainly from the time that I've been associated with him, either as a colleague in Cabinet or as Opposition House Leader, and for the last year or so as Leader of the Opposition, he's always been a source of support and has helped me in any way that he could and any role I had to perform. So I too want to thank him for that.

I still have to say I don't think we've seen the last of him yet. I don't think we've seen the last of him in this House, in my own view. It might be contrary to everybody else's view but I think we will be back. Even if we aren't, and if this is the last sitting before the next election, I still don't think for some strange reason that we've seen the last of the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes in politics. Now I have that funny gut feeling but it's only a gut feeling. You never know.

Now I also would be remiss if I didn't make similar comments now to a couple of other colleagues on this side of the House who have also publicly stated that they will not be running in the next election, in all fairness and with the greatest respect to my colleague from St. Mary's - The Capes. I refer to the Member for Port au Port, who has publicly indicated he will not be running again. We might as well make some comments with respect to the Member for Port au Port who is on Her Majesty's Service somewhere today.

The Member for Port au Port has served both parties in this Legislature, and served them well I would submit. He, too, has had a very, very successful track record as a candidate in elections, and has been elected successfully for both parties five times, I suspect, '75, '79, '82, '85, '89 - five elections, for both parties. I think that says a lot about the individual's ability to represent people. He has been very successful and he certainly has made a good contribution, having served in the Cabinet, albeit for a brief period of time, but he was a member of the Cabinet, and he served as Opposition House Leader when he was with the other party. He has also been a very strong source of information and help to us, as a party. So we wish him well if the House does not sit again.

Thirdly, the Member for St. John's North made reference to his hair standing on its ends whenever the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes stood up. Well there is another individual in this House who has announced he will not be running. I cannot say his hair stands on its ends all that frequently, but the Member for Kilbride has publicly indicated, of course, that he will not be seeking re-election, and the member for Kilbride has given outstanding service - he and I actually were elected the same year, was it, seventy-nine? Along with the Member for Humber East and the Member for Torngat Mountains. I think there were four of us here elected in seventy-nine.

MS. VERGE: The class of seventy-nine.

MR. SIMMS: We are the class of seventy-nine.

The Member for Kilbride often gets under the government's skin, while he has been in opposition, with some of his penetrating questions, but I think deep down that members opposite know that the Member for Kilbride would not harm a fly. He would not hurt a fly; but he is not as shy about asking questions as an opposition member, and he has proven that time and time again.

He, too, has served in a -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, that is true.

He, too, has served in a Cabinet. He has served as Deputy Speaker of the House, I know, when I was there as Speaker - no, after I was Speaker -


MR. SIMMS: Yes. He served as Deputy Speaker of the House - followed a long line of successive Deputy Speakers.

He, too, has been elected on four occasions and I am sure could be re-elected easily in the district of Kilbride if he had decided to run again, but has decided, I think, to look beyond provincial politics into farming, I think, is his real love.

MR. MATTHEWS: Farther afield.

MR. SIMMS: Strawberry fields. He is looking farther afield, as they say, in the strawberry business.

In any event, all jokes aside, all three members - the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes; the Member for Port au Port; the Member for Kilbride - I think have served the Province and the public very well, particularly their own constituents. They certainly have been strong supporters of our party and have worked hard for our party, and I commend all three.

The only other individual that I know of whose future is a bit precarious at this stage - it may apply to all of us, for that matter - is the Member for St. George's. I am not sure what his political future might be, but he will not be the Liberal candidate in St. George's, and I suppose -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: And he will not be the Tory candidate in St. George's. I can assure you of that. Now he may be a Liberal independent candidate in St. George's, that is possible, or independent period; but nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that he has lost his nomination and that indicates that his future is a little bit precarious to say the least. He is not here today, but I think just in case he decides not to run any more, it would be appropriate to offer our best wishes to the Member for St. George's as well.

There are lots of us whose seats may be precarious, and those of us who have the greatest ego figure that we are as safe as a church, but I can tell hon. members opposite that I have heard that said by bigger people than any of us here today and in the end it has often happened that they have not been as safe as a church. So I would suggest to hon. members just to keep working if you want to keep getting re-elected.

The only person who is in this House who has not had a great deal of success at winning seats in recent elections has been the Premier himself. In Humber East he lost and, of course, in Bay of Islands nobody ran against him. As well his record on general elections has been fairly good so far, one out of one.

MR. MATTHEWS: 100 per cent on general elections.

MS. VERGE: He won one when he was running on the Premier's coat tails and he lost the second one.


MS. VERGE: The Premier, he lost in 1991 and 1966.

MR. SIMMS: He lost in 1966? Yes, but not as Premier.

Anyway I am not sure how much flexibility the Chairman is allowing on this clause but I suspect a considerable amount. So I wanted to add my few comments to it. We will have more to say before this Bill is finalized.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, Clause 7 is certainly bringing out the best in us and I would like to see if I can add a word or two. I cannot claim a long acquaintanceship with my friend the Member for St. George's. He was active in Liberal party affairs some years ago when I was active and I came to know him, not well but came to know him then, but I have come to know him much better since I came back into active elected politics and then subsequently into the House of Assembly, and I think the hon. gentleman for Grand Falls, the Opposition Leader spoke for us all, I predict that my hon. friend for St. George's will be in public life in one capacity or another for some time to come. He has made contributions and he has much more -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the hon. gentleman for Grand Falls has been an executive assistant, as was I. I am not even sure if it is a life let alone a public life and he would agree with that. As I said, both the hon. gentleman for Grand Falls and I have been executive assistants. I was the first one the government of the Province ever employed, it has all been downhill since there, I say to my friend. But, Mr. Chairman, the gentleman for St. George's has made a contribution. He has run into some difficulties with the electorate or with his constituent association, that is one of the hazards of politics. If you are going to be in elected life, you take the ups and the downs and I have had my share of both, I can assure you. When I speak you have grey hair and scars, I am speaking metaphorically, at least in the case of scars, but I can assure you metaphorically, I got my share of them, not all of them inflicted by gentlemen and ladies opposite, I tell you too. Not from members now behind. I say to my friend for Grand Falls, he to is a survivor and he knows whereof I speak.

My friend for Kilbride is sui generis and in case he thinks I am getting off one of my fancy ones that is a kind phrase, I say to him. He is sui generis and I say to my friend that is not a new form of Chinese food that he can order in this evening. But he has added a great deal to the House in his years here and has served the people of this Province well in a number of capacities, whatever opportunities have been given, have been well taken. Other than occasionally going a little astray on doorknobs, in an excess of zeal and enthusiasm, what he has never lost is his sense of humour and his sense of proportion. The longer I am in the House and the older I get and the more rows I get into over the years, and hon. members may have noticed I occasionally enjoy a row, I can sometimes be persuaded into one and occasionally enjoy them, but the hon. gentleman for Kilbride has set an example that we should all emulate, in that he has never lost his sense of humour or his ability to laugh at himself and he has never lost his sense of proportion and both of those are terrifically important.

Where we get into trouble in this House is when we begin to think we are important. We have got about as much importance now as a stone dropped into the middle of a pond. It makes a momentary ripple and a little later than that - well my friend for St. John's North and my friend for Waterford - Kenmount thinks that perhaps we are a rock instead of a stone. I would say we should never in this House get carried away with our own sense of importance.

Finally, let me say a word about my friend from Port au Port, he was one of my proteges in 1975, that was a vintage year in this House. The gentleman for Windsor - Buchans made his first entry on to the elected political scene in 1975 and has gone on to ever increasing accomplishments since then. He left in 1982 but came back in. The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture knows the vagaries of politics better than most and he has shown what courage and determination and skill and talent can do and that is why his constituents, having had one taste of a Tory, re-elected him the first chance they got and have been doing it ever since.

Another vintage year was the year when Tom Rideout made his first appearance in the House of Assembly. The Speaker came into the House of Assembly in 1975, was a protege of mine, I was at that time leading the Liberal party, he sought nomination and came in. My friend for Placentia should have come in had it not been for - he was one of those who suffered from the two Liberal parties, that was the election where if we had only had one Liberal and one Tory Party, the result would likely -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, he ran as a Liberal in Placentia district.

MR. FLIGHT: Born a Liberal, die a Liberal.

MR. ROBERTS: Then there is the gentleman for Port au Port who came in as a Liberal and was re-elected in 1979 as a Liberal and then lost the faith. But the gentleman for Port au Port has many estimable qualities and the fact that he took a wrong turning politicly does not in my view show anything, except we all have a right to be wrong and in this case in my view politicly, he is. But he is a gentleman, he served his constituency well and I think we should note that he is part of a tradition. His father served before him in the House, Walter Hodder, whom I gather is now not well. The Member for Port au Port tells me that his father is beginning to suffer the infirmities of age. Walter Hodder came into the House, if memory serves me, in 1962 representing the old LaPoile district, which then took in from Burgeo right up to Port aux Basques. There were only two seats on the southwest coast in those days, it became three in the subsequent redistributions. He then was re-elected in 1966 and did not get re-elected, he lost in 1971 and 1972 in LaPoile district. Allan Evans was elected for the P.C.'s in those years in that district but the Member for Port au Port has added grace and eloquence to the House. I think it is quite nice.

I thank the hon. gentleman for St. Mary's - The Capes for starting this Clause 7. I would not have anticipated that Clause 7 would have led to this discussion but I think it is a fitting and a happy moment for the House when we pause to remember the contribution made by those who may not be with us. They should not assume there will be another session as they will find out when we move the adjournment motion. I am going to ask the House to adjourn at the call of the Chair and who knows what the Chair may need to call us on. But be that as it may, it may also be the last session before there is an election.

Members will note the Premier is not in his seat. I can tell hon. members that the staff of the House at my request have checked to make sure His Honour is in town and is available, now for what he is available remains to be seen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the hon. leader may well ask him but I would say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that he no longer has the right officially to have relations with the Lieutenant-Governor.

MR. SIMMS: Not officially.

MR. ROBERTS: Not officially. Well in that case the hon. Leader no doubt gets a good dinner and better company. But I say the Premier is not in his seat and the Lieutenant-Governor is on tap. Now, hon. members may read what they wish into that.

In any event, I am getting a little away from Clause 7, with the strict relevance the Chair insisted on on occasions, I do want to say on behalf of all of us here that the hon. members whom we have identified have served this Province well and I predict and hope they will all serve this Province in other capacities from time to time in whatever opportunities may be available to them but I suspect that we have not heard the last of each of them, nor should we.

Thank you, Sir.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I was hoping to be out of here before all this bullsession started, Mr. Chairman, but I do want to thank hon. members for their words. Mr. Chairman, I may have been a bit nasty at times and that is generally against my beliefs and my character -

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, it seems that the Member for Kilbride is going back to strictly speaking to Clause 7 and I wonder if perhaps the hon. member would give me leave to make some comments on the tributes that have been made to various hon. members before he goes back to the business of the House?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: I am not speaking on Clause 7, Mr. Chairman, I am just making a brief comment. I may have been nasty on occasion while I was here and it is against my nature to be so, but, Mr. Chairman, I must admit that I enjoyed ever single minute of it, of being in the House of Assembly and being elected as the Member for Kilbride and being nasty sometimes. But, Mr. Chairman, I just want to say to the people who elected me in the District of Kilbride, I believe that I represented the best district in our Province, I guess we all do that, but I know that I represented the best people in the Province. They are all fairly down to earth, solid hard working people who are just trying to survive in their times and contribute as much as they can to the benefit of our Province. I have been proud to represent the District of Kilbride.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, the Leader of the Opposition told me that I did not have to speak, it is not really necessary for me to speak but I wanted to speak, Mr. Chairman, for a few minutes to join with the other hon. members - even though we may well be back here again for another session or perhaps two sessions or more before we have an election. It may well be that we will not be back again and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes has indicated that he will not be here again, as well the Member for Kilbride. The Member for St. George's may be here representing another district. We do not know that yet, Mr. Chairman, so rather than assume that the Member for St. George's will not be back I will leave my remarks for the Member for Kilbride and St. Mary's - The Capes and Port au Port. I have not been in this House for a long time but I have had occasion during my time here to be able to assess some of the qualities of the members who have indicated that they will be leaving politics.

I have a lot of respect for the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes as an hon. gentleman in the true senses of the word, Mr. Chairman, both honourable and a total gentleman in every way. I have also been impressed with his decency and great interest in his district and all people of the Province and impressed by his skills as an orator. I think the Irish tradition of great oratory has been well represented by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes and I think he will be missed for that. He also had a tremendous way with words and a turn of phrase that seems to come so naturally to the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. It is a pleasure to listen to him speak in the House and that will be missed.

The Member for Kilbride, the unassuming Member for Kilbride, has added greatly to the House. He has a great sense of humour and unlike many people, the Member for Kilbride has a great ability to also direct some of that humour at himself. I think that makes it much easier to take some of his nastiness, Mr. Chairman, when we know that he does not take himself as seriously as some of the rest of us are inclined to do. I have also noticed that he has an incredible ability to carry on the fearless attack in the face of adversity, sometimes in the face of common sense, but he certainly has the ability to continue a fearless attack and to make his points, make them well and with a great sense of the political moment. He is also a person who has done a great deal and cares very much for the people he represents in Kilbride and gets obviously a great deal of pleasure from having been elected and being asked by the people of Kilbride to serve them in this way. So I wish him and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes well in their future.

The Member for Port au Port I have also noticed to be a sincere and caring individual, dogged in his pursuit of the interest in his critic area in social services. A good questioner in the House and also one who I have noticed in the recent session, when we had so many debates about the traditions of the House and the rights of speakers to speak and the importance of maintaining the traditions of the House in terms of respect for hon. members and their right to speak. A man who has obviously, through his own experience as an hon. member and because of his relationship of course with his father and his knowledge of parliamentary procedure and parliamentary traditions, a great deal of respect and indeed concern that the traditions of parliamentary order and parliamentary honour be observed and I have a great deal of respect for him for insisting on the maintenance of those traditions because it is important to all of us here but also to all the people of this Province that the House of Assembly continue in this parliamentary tradition. It is not necessarily the best way and at times this is tedious to have to go through some of the antics that we do but it is the method of democracy that we have chosen and the Member for Port au Port has great respect for that and I respect him for caring about that and for bringing it to the attention of hon. members which he has done in the past.

So, I would like to join in the tribute to the Member for Port au Port and the Member for Kilbride and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes in their announced intentions not to return after the next election and I wish them well in their futures, individually and in other areas of service to the Province.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Chairman, I would like to have leave of the House for a moment, I just received some good news concerning our involvement in the fire and if I may just have leave to report very quickly to the House on that.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?


MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Chairman, I was asked some questions by the Member for St. John's East and I believe one other member as well, after the fire a couple of nights ago, and I want to report that I just heard from my deputy. We have had staff over trying to get access to a very large vault, as probably some of you know, containing some 50,000 files involved with adoption and child welfare and so on, very important files, we have gained access to the vault and all of the files are in perfect condition. No harm at all by fire or smoke. We now will be working with Works, Services and Transportation to move those files to a new location and the archives will help us with that as well, making sure they are moved and kept in good condition.

The other question I was asked was concerning the people affected by the fire nearby, people in immediate houses and nearby. We have helped so far, some fifty families in various kinds of assistance that have come to us at the Avalon Community College nearby. We have staff faced-off against this particular responsibility. They will stay in that responsibility until we are satisfied that all families that need help have been looked after. We understand some 200 - 300 families are disbursed throughout the city and until they come to us, because it is hard to know where they have gone, it will be difficult to know the kind of help they need, but I want to make it clear that our centre office at Anderson Avenue and the staff that we have assigned and two individuals we have put in Avalon Community College to stay there to be available, they will all be available to assist families as the need arises. Hopefully, if they have needs they will come forward and seek our assistance.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: On Motion, clauses 7 through 9, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, there is an amendment to Clause 10, copies of which have been provided to my hon. friends opposite and perhaps I can move it because of course a minister cannot amend his own Bill. It is quite complicated, I will not go into it in detail but let me tell the committee, Sir, that it would add a two and a three, the present ten would be renumbered as one and then a new two and a new three would be added. The present one which will be the new one, the present draft which is a new one provides for a phase in. The new two and the new three provide for, in the case of the new two for a phase in, in a case where a council is levying a tax upon a utility on the basis of the real property value as opposed to the gross revenue. The present provision, which will be the new Sub (1), Mr. Chair, if the amendment carries, deals only with a tax imposed on the basis of gross revenue. The new two will deal with the situation where a tax is levied by a council on the basis of a real property value assessment. It is phased down over a two year period or phased in. The new three will deal with the situation of a tax being levied on a utility and defined in Sub-paragraph 2H(1) and that is a cable company, if you go back to it. So, Mr. Chairman, I move these amendments.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall the amendment carry?


MR. CHAIRMAN: Carried. Shall Clause 10 as amended carry?


MR. CHAIRMAN: Carried. Shall Clause 11 carry?

On motion, Clauses 10 through to 13 carried.

CLERK (E. MURPHY): The Lieutenant-Governor and House of Assembly and legislative session convened as follows:

A Bill "An Act Respecting The Taxation Of Utilities and Cable Television Companies". (Bill No. 73)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendments, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report all the progress it is likely to achieve in 1992 and I suppose just for the record ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please! The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered the matter to it referred and has directed me to report Bill 73 carried with amendments and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, amendments to Bill No. 73 read a first and second time.

Bill ordered read a third time presently by leave.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Taxation Of Utilities and Cable Television Companies," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 73).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, His Honour I understand, is on the way to the chamber. We may need ten or fifteen minutes, at least fifteen minutes, so what I am going to suggest in a moment is that perhaps Your Honour might simply leave the Chair for a few minutes, before I do if it is in order, let me move the adjournment motion. It is my understanding once His Honour gives assent, we can do business but it is not our custom to do business, but let me give notice of the adjournment motion. It is in the form that has been used from time to time. It is the short form not the long form, the short form is that 'The House at its rising do adjourn until tomorrow at the call of the Chair and that the House do now adjourn.' Tomorrow being the parliamentary tomorrow, it is not tomorrow Monday or tomorrow Saturday.

AN HON. MEMBER: I know that.

MR. ROBERTS: I want my hon. friend to know that I know it, I know that he knows it, I want him to know that I know it. So, I will move that motion and then perhaps after His Honour has come and assuming he gives assent, we will have to deal with the motion. Before we adjourn though, let me make two points, the first is to thank all hon. members for the contribution they have made. This has been a learning process. I have over the years served in this House in almost every capacity there is, except two, the Premier's job, which for some reason I never quite managed to get my hands on and have now given up any thoughts of it, my hon. friends will be glad to hear. Secondly, I have never before had an opportunity to serve as Government House Leader. I have been Opposition Leader, Opposition House Leader, Public Accounts Committee, Chair, I was Deputy House Leader at one stage back in the Smallwood administration, learned under Les Curtis, who I will tell you brought an art to it, he made a science into an art and an art into a science. But it is a learning experience and I want to thank all those who have helped me to learn.

Secondly, I want to thank our staff, Mr. Speaker, your staff I suppose to be precise about it, the Clerk's at the table, the Law Clerk's, the Hansard staff, the Pages, our friend and colleague up there who switches us on and switches us off. Unfortunately he switches us on more often than off but that is a matter of taste not judgement. But all of those who work very hard, often unsung, often unnoticed, sometimes we can be testy in the House and they have to put up with that but we are in my judgement, Mr. Speaker, very well served by the women and the men who work with us in this House as staff under the direction of Your Honour. I suspect I can tempt my friend from Grand Bank or the Leader of the Opposition to say a word or two as well and perhaps the gentleman for St. John's East may succeed in getting leave on this occasion as well.

My friend for St. Barbe reminds me to thank the press, we know they are up there, hiding in the back, we think, with their earphones glued on. The media are the medium between us and the world and they have an enviable task and a great responsibility and the fact that they do it so well is a tribute to them and not to us, I say to my friend for St. Barbe. That said, let me simply say, Mr. Speaker, Merry Christmas to all and on behalf of my friend the Minister of Finance, we will see what we can do to make it a very prosperous and Happy New Year for everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GOVER: In answer to the question, I have the information, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table the information.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader and Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thanks very much, Mr. Speaker. Just to respond to what the Government House Leader has already said, I just want to echo his remarks and I hope the list that the minister just tabled is a Christmas list. I hope it the Christmas list and if our information is correct it certainly is a Christmas list for somebody but we will have a look at that now in a minute. I want to join with the Government House Leader in extending best wishes for the Christmas Season to all members. There were times over the last couple of weeks I wondered if we were going to really have Christmas and enjoy it but it looks like we are. You have to have faith. Faith, hope and charity but I want to wish everyone a Merry, Merry Christmas, the staff, you Your Honour and the Pages who stayed with us, yes, Commissionaires who have been out and about here and the press of course, depending on what the press carries, it may make our Christmas a little merrier but I want to wish everyone all the best for the season. I thought I was going to have a very Merry Christmas until the Leader of the Opposition just informed me that he has been given credit now for rushing in here last Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. and rescuing us from the mess that we were into and that last night he came back in a matter of twenty or twenty-five minutes and cleaned the Order Paper.

MR. SIMMS: I was on the cellular phone to him directly all the time constantly.

MR. MATTHEWS: Somehow I thought that I had some part to play in that so I am not as merry now as I was in the last five minutes, but said in jest. But without going on too long I just want to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and prosperous and successful 1993 and I look forward to seeing you all back here, as I said to the Premier before he left, I said now Premier I look forward to seeing you back here in the New Year and he said: Oh, I will not be here. I said I mean here in the New Year in the Legislature. So, he knew what I was talking about so I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join in the remarks of the Government House Leader and Opposition House Leader with respect to the thanks to the staff in particular for their help in making our session a more pleasant one. The Sergeant at Arms has looked after us and made sure we do not rush out the wrong doors and misbehave and the constable has been here. The constable was here all through the night, we had to make sure he did not sleep at his post because he is subject to the rigors of military justice in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary so we had to make sure he did not sleep at his post. I think all staff of the House, the Pages, the Clerk's at the table have been very helpful and I want to thank all hon. members for their co-operation with me as a single member in the House, it is very difficult at times. So I appreciate the co-operation from all hon. members in perhaps giving a little bit more prominence to some things that might not otherwise have gotten prominence. Even the hon. Member for Port de Grave has contributed to that effort

and I thank him for it. I do appreciate the advice that I have been given by hon. members on all sides of the House from time to time. Some of it is welcomed and some of it is 'aimed advice' but I appreciate that because it is difficult when you do not have anyone to consult with to always know what is going on and what the traditions of the House might be on particular matters. So, I appreciate that from all hon. members and from the Speaker. I join with the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader in wishing all hon. members and their families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to come.

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

MR. RAMSAY: I just want to tell my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, if I could that there will be no Caucus meeting tomorrow. Merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you all the next time around, those who return.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes this is a typical day for the Premier.

MR. SIMMS: Through you to the Government House Leader. I think you made this suggestion earlier, I understand the Governor is probably going to be around fifteen or twenty minutes. Can we recess?

MR. ROBERTS: My understanding is that the Speaker will leave the Chair whenever he deems it right and we will just wait for the gongs when the governor arrives.

MR. SIMMS: Can I make a further suggestion that we don't debate the adjournment motion and we will consider what we just did as the debate -

MR. ROBERTS: That is why I moved it in the hope that the Speaker will have to put it but will put it then when the governor has left.

MR. SPEAKER: So, we will recess briefly. When His Honour arrives the Chair will sound the bells, so in a couple of minutes after that we will be ready.


MR. SPEAKER: Admit His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.

It is my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, her faithful commons in Newfoundland, to present to Your Honour bills for appropriation of supplementary supply granted in the present session.

Bill No. 26 " An Act Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Additional Expenses In The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31st, 1992 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service."

HIS HONOUR, THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR (Frederick W. Russell, C.M., LL.D.): In Her Majesty's name I thank Her loyal subjects, I accept their benevolence and I assent to this Bill.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please your honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, at its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request your honours assent.

CLERK: A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No.3)". (Bill No. 59)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 60)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act." (Bill No. 13)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Farm Products Corporation Act." (Bill No. 10)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act." (Bill No. 19)

A bill, "An Act Respecting An Avian Emblem Of The Province." (Bill No. 21)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act." (Bill No. 48)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act." (Bill No. 20)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act." (Bill No. 30)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Welfare Institutions Act." (Bill No. 33)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Department of Health Act." (Bill No. 38)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Medical Act." (Bill No. 40)

A bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary." (Bill No. 56)

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Licensing And Inspection Of Health And Social Agencies." (Bill No. 46)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Shops Closing Act." (Bill No. 22)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Co-Operative Societies Act." (Bill No. 47)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act." (Bill No. 49)

A bill, "An Act To Abolish Certain Fees." (Bill No. 51)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act." (Bill No. 57)

A bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statue Law." (Bill No. 54)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Residential Tenancies Act." (Bill No. 50)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act." (Bill No. 58)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act." (Bill No. 53)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Buildings Accessibility Act." (Bill No. 63)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, The Horse Racing Regulation and Tax Act, The Liquor Control Act and The Retail Sales Tax Act." (Bill No. 45)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991." (Bill No. 43)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Uniform Services Pensions Act, 1991." (Bill No. 44)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act (No.2)." (Bill No. 69)

A bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies and Errors in the Statute Law (No. 2)." (Bill No. 66)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 42)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 41)

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)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Election Act, The Jury Act, 1991 And The Elections Act, 1991." (Bill No. 74)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Sector Restraint Act, 1992." (Bill No. 64)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act (No. 3)." (Bill No. 71)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No. 4)." (Bill No. 72)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act." (Bill No. 62)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Child Welfare Act." (Bill No. 68)

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Taxation Of Utilities and Cable Television Companies." (Bill No. 73)

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: In Her Majesty's name, I assent to these Bills.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to wish all members of the hon. House a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 1993.

Thank you very much.

PREMIER WELLS: Your Honour, I am sure I speak for all members present when I reciprocate Your Honours kind wishes and I hope that Your Honour and Mrs. Russell will enjoy a pleasant Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year and while I am at it may I also, on behalf of all members of the House, thank your Honour for your many courtesies during the past year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: If I may, Your Honour, just in a non-partisan way assure the Premier that he does in fact speak for all members of the House on this side, in particular, as well. I would like to extend similar greetings to you and your family, but most importantly I would like to wish you good health because I think that is what is most important and uppermost in most people's minds. Again, we wish you very well.

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: Thank you, very much.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with the Premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition in reciprocating to Your Honour and your wife and family the best compliments of the season and a happy and healthy new year, as the Leader of the Opposition has said.

LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR: Thank you, very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before putting the motion, on behalf of the staff I want to thank hon. members for their expression of good wishes and to simply say that our staff is available to all members at all times. We are not some kind of a clandestine operation where members are not allowed to come in. Members from both sides of the House come there and that is what we are there for. Somebody mentioned earlier in a negative sense that there was a flurry of activity at the Speaker's office. I hope there is a flurry of activity at the Speaker's office every day with members coming in and seeking advice. We would have a better House. That is what should happen. Members should be there, coming in and seeking advice of the staff, certainly with respect to procedural matters and things they plan to do. If members did more of that I think we would find the House operating much more smoothly. I want to thank you for your wishes and wish all hon. members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I move that the House at its rising do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until the call of the Chair.