March 4, 1993                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLI  No. 1

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Admit Their Lordships, The Justices of the Supreme Court.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Mr. Speaker, His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor has arrived.

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

Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair.

His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor takes the Chair.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Ladies and gentlemen, it is the wish of His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor that all be seated.

Thank you.

HIS HONOUR, THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR (Honourable Frederick W. Russell):

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

It is My privilege and My pleasure to welcome you to this Fifth Session of the Forty-First General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland.

As it is unlikely that there will be another Session of the Forty-First General Assembly, I would like to take this opportunity to commend all Honourable Members of this House for the commitment and personal sacrifices made as elected officials in the pursuit of the people's business. All of you can clearly attest to the onerous and demanding requirements of membership in this Honourable House, and all of you can take pride in the manner in which you have collectively discharged your responsibilities in this venerable institution.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

On April 20th of 1989, the people of this Province gave My Government a mandate for change. In the fulfilment of this mandate, My Ministers have, over the past four years, placed before this Honourable House bold new strategies and initiatives for revitalization of our society, our economy, and the way in which Government itself operates.

Since taking office in May of 1989, it has fallen to the lot of My Government to administer the affairs of Newfoundland and Labrador during the most difficult and challenging period in our history as a Canadian province. No previous government since 1949 has had to face the kind of economic and social problems that have beset the current Administration, such as the northern cod fishery closure, the uncertainty over Hibernia, reduced federal transfers, the international recession, and the major deficit and debt problems facing the Province. My Government did not shirk its responsibility to the people and it met the challenges with courage and competence. Newfoundland and Labrador has fared far better, proportionately, than many of our sister provinces because of My Government's fiscal and social policies, even though many tough decisions had to be taken.

Priority has been given to economic reform, to renewal of the education system, and to changes in the health care system to make it more efficient. These three critically important areas of public responsibility constitute the building blocks to a physically, socially and economically healthy future for the whole of our society as we enter the twenty-first century.

In the area of economic reform, substantial and significant measures have been introduced and implemented.

Early in its mandate, My Government established an Economic Recovery Commission to stimulate and foster enterprise and economic development in all regions of the Province. Through the Economic Recovery Commission, all small business support programs offered by My Government were restructured and consolidated into a single new Crown Corporation named Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, whose services and decision-making responsibilities were decentralized through a system of regional offices located throughout the Province.

Subsequent to My Address to you on March 5th of last year, My Ministers released a Strategic Economic Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador - entitled "Change and Challenge" - following nearly two years of research, analysis and public consultation. The level of effort exercised and, in particular, the extent of public consultation engaged in the formulation of such a Plan was unprecedented in this Province. The Plan now offers a solid framework for focusing and directing My Government's economic development efforts and provides a strong basis for joint federal-provincial action aimed at economic diversification and renewal throughout all regions of the Province. My Ministers stress, however, that the Plan does not promise overnight solutions or "quick fixes", as these are simply not credible or realistic approaches to our structural problems. Instead, it establishes the basis for future economic recovery through sound, effective and action oriented long-term planning.

The economic vision embodied in the Strategic Economic Plan is that of an enterprising, educated distinctive and prosperous people working together to create a competitive economy based on innovation, creativity, productivity and quality.

The Plan is founded on a set of eight guiding principles. Foremost among them is that the private sector must be the engine of growth and the vehicle through which lasting economic wealth is generated. The primary role of government will be to create a positive economic and social climate so that the private sector can respond to opportunities in the global marketplace. In this regard, the level and quality of education and training available to the youth of this Province will be critical. A focus on strategic industries and on international competitiveness must be emphasized as well, including the importance of adapting to new technologies and industrial innovations on a continuous basis. There must, in addition, be a commitment on the part of all segments of our society - governments, business, labour, academia and others - to work together in building a competitive economy. This will require, as well, that government policies and actions have a clear developmental focus where the client comes first, but where the principle of sustainable development is also maintained such that our natural resources and the environment generally are not sacrificed for short-term gain.

The Strategic Economic Plan is an action plan to guide economic recovery over the long-term. Through a public consultation process it received the benefit both of public input and approbation. This is what gives it its best chance of success in charting the course for economic recovery and future prosperity. Its implementation has already commenced, most notably through the creation of the new Departments of Industry, Trade and Technology and Tourism and Culture. The Department of Industry, Trade and Technology will concentrate on stimulating the growth of manufacturing and technical industries in domestic and export markets, improving the competitiveness of local firms, and actively targeting outside firms to locate in the Province in strategic new growth areas. The establishment of the Department of Tourism and Culture is a recognition by My Government of the important role to be served by the artistic and cultural community in the economic future of the Province, as well as the largely untapped opportunities to promote the Province as a world-class tourism destination based on our magnificent natural heritage and outstanding scenic beauty.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Of particular importance to the future economic well-being of the Province is our education system. This was one of the central points made in the Strategic Economic Plan and was one of the priority areas for fundamental reform identified by My Government at the outset of its mandate. Simply put, education is the key to economic development. Repeated studies have shown conclusively that skills, qualifications, innovation and the adaptability of individuals are critical determinants of economic performance and the success of business enterprises. My Government is committed to realizing this objective and intends to achieve it by spending more efficiently the resources we currently devote to education.

To this end, My Ministers have already implemented structural changes to the post-secondary education system affecting Memorial University and the community colleges, and intend to take further steps over time to transform the post-secondary system into a more relevant and dynamic environment that is capable of meeting the changing requirements of the workplace and the economy. My Ministers also look forward to extending the reach of Memorial University as the economy improves and additional financial resources become available, with priority to be given to the central and western regions of the Province.

The Report of the Royal Commission on the Delivery of Programs and Services in Primary, Elementary and Secondary Education provides the foundation for the necessary reforms in this particular domain. My Ministers intend to work cooperatively with the stakeholders involved in the education system to ensure that the major findings of the Royal Commission can be acted upon in a timely fashion, but in a manner which also takes into account the interests and concerns of the church groups who have contributed so much to the development of the present system. Combined with the fundamental changes already made to the way in which schools are funded in the Province, including the abolition of the regressive and inequitable school tax regime, My Government is confident that the appropriate building blocks can shortly be put in place to guide the basic educational system into the twenty-first century.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Although it is of prime importance to establish a strong economic base to provide employment and essential financial resources, we cannot allow social issues to be neglected in the process. A Strategic Economic Plan is one-half of the equation; the other half is a Strategic Social Plan. My Government will develop and put in place such a Strategic Social Plan for the Province. A working committee of Deputy Ministers from the particular departments concerned, as well as other senior officials, has recently been established and work will soon commence on the development of a comprehensive document. A public consultative process will also be initiated in association with this effort to ensure that the Plan ultimately produced will meet the full social needs of our people for the next decade and beyond. Particular attention will be given to the need for income security reform in the Province and the Plan will benefit from the substantial work already done by the Economic Recovery Commission in this area. The Plan will also build upon the successful reforms already adopted by My Government in the educational and health care fields, and in other important social policy domains.

In this regard, My Ministers wish to highlight the significant reorganization that has already taken place in the health care system, with the aim of providing a more efficient and cost-effective service to our people. My Ministers have also been working diligently in putting in place a Regional Community Health Care Board system throughout the Province. This decentralized structure will mean that responsibility for the delivery and co-ordination of community-based services will soon rest with community Boards. The process of appointing these Boards should begin shortly.

My Ministers have also been assessing the existing arrangements of hospital boards to ensure that the administrative process structures in place are the most effective. A consultative process with all stakeholders concerned is continuing.

My Government is anxious to work with all groups in the health care sector to identify ways of enhancing the quality of medical care to our citizens generally. In this regard, My Ministers are currently working with the Newfoundland Medical Association to finalize an agreement which will provide for a joint management process to deal with the utilization of medical care funds in the Province.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

From the outset of My Government's mandate, great importance has been attached to the introduction of measures aimed at preserving and strengthening parliamentary democracy in the Province and ensuring that Government is held duly accountable for the proper discharge of its responsibilities. My Government made a number of specific commitments in this domain when it came to office in 1989, and all of them have been fulfilled. A new Elections Act reforming the overall process of election of Members to the House of Assembly, and the financing of elections generally, was approved during the last Session. These reforms are intended to ensure not only that the election process is fair and open to all citizens who wish to seek public office, but that political parties are required to operate within acceptable limits and be accountable for the monies they raise and the manner in which they spend them. A new Act respecting the Office of the Auditor General was also passed by this Honourable House to confirm the independence of that Office and to ensure that public monies expended by My Government are fully accounted for to this House. Provision for the establishment of Legislative Committees to allow direct public input into the legislative process was also approved by this House. My Ministers have also committed to the establishment of an Electoral Boundaries Commission to achieve a permanent reduction in the number of members sitting in this House. My Government's agenda for major reform in this domain will be largely completed this Session when Honourable Members will be asked to finalize new conflict of interest legislation that will be applicable to elected officials.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

While most of the priorities My Ministers undertook at the outset of their mandate have been addressed, there remain great challenges facing the people of this Province and My Government.

The past year, in particular, has been a difficult one. The deep economic recession that has affected virtually the entire western world has been especially hard on resource-based export oriented economies such as ours. The added uncertainty over Hibernia and the resource crisis in the fishery exacerbated this situation significantly. Nevertheless, there is every reason to have confidence in the future.

There are strong indications that the global economy is starting to recover, which should assist all of our export industries, including the forestry and mining sectors.

Hibernia is now secure, and will provide the necessary industrial base and technological capability to assist in maximizing economic and employment benefits from future offshore developments. Indeed, the Hibernia Project marks the true emergence of a new industry for the Province, with the promise and opportunity for diversifying the provincial economy, enhancing regional oil security, and strengthening the Province's economic base. My Ministers look forward to the development of the Terra Nova, White Rose and Hebron offshore oil fields by building on the strong foundations established by the Hibernia Project. Preliminary discussions have already been held with some interest holders and My Ministers are confident that development of these other fields will follow the development of Hibernia in an orderly and timely fashion.

As well, the Strategic Economic Plan provides the necessary foundation from which both orders of government can marshal and channel their resources toward the creation of meaningful and sustainable long-term employment opportunities in the Province. During a November meeting My First Minister discussed with the Prime Minister ways of developing and strengthening the economy of the Province in a manner consistent with the Strategic Economic Plan and the federal government's Prosperity Initiative. In an exchange of letters following that meeting, a process was agreed upon and put in place that will provide the means for the two orders of governments to jointly work towards the achievement of that objective. A committee of federal and provincial ministers will be aided by a committee of very senior federal and provincial officials and these two committees are presently in the organizational stage.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

One of the major challenges faced by My Government in the immediate future will be to continue to manage its finances in a responsible manner such that the financial integrity and credit worthiness of the Province are maintained. This is essential in order to protect our ability to provide health, education and other public services in the future and to support economic growth in the Province.

During the past three years, My Ministers have had to temper their desire to expand and improve public services in a multitude of areas because of the financial realities related to the recession and other economic factors that have led to a precipitous decline in revenue from traditional provincial tax sources and federal transfers.

Notwithstanding increased levels of expenditure on federal-provincial shared cost programs, and increasing program costs generally as a result of inflationary and other pressures, actual equalization payments from the federal government are significantly less today than they were three years ago. In the 1986-87 fiscal year, federal transfers accounted for nearly 49 per cent of our current account revenues. In this fiscal year, federal transfers will contribute only 43 per cent of our total revenues, which amounts to more than $150 million less this year than it would have been if we were still receiving 49 per cent of our revenues from the federal government. My Ministers have not criticized and do not criticize the federal government for this situation, as the financial health of the nation as a whole must be protected by reducing the unacceptably high level of federal debt that has been allowed to accumulate over time. The reality is, however, that part of the federal financial burden has effectively been transferred to My Ministers to manage.

In addition to the problem of declining revenue from federal transfers, My Ministers have had to cope with a significant erosion in total revenues available from traditional sources of provincial taxation. In fact, if My Government had not taken the difficult decisions to increase various taxes over the past several years, total projected revenues would be $145 million less in the upcoming fiscal year than they were in the 1988-89 fiscal year. Moreover, the efforts of My Ministers to keep tax increases to the minimum absolutely necessary have necessitated substantial reductions in operating expenditures throughout all of Government. There is very little flexibility remaining, however, to achieve a meaningful level of deficit reduction through further cuts to existing governmental programs without jeopardizing essential public services.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government's current account expenditure budget is presently projects to total $3.2 billion in the 1993-94 fiscal year. Of this amount, approximately $800 million is accounted for by fixed costs, comprised of annual payments on outstanding debt, social assistance payments, and other similar outlays over which My Ministers have virtually no control in terms of possible expenditure reductions, at least in the short-term. Of the remaining discretionary categories of expenditure, approximately 18 per cent goes toward the basic operating costs of government departments, schools, hospitals, nursing homes and the like. An additional 13 per cent is related to the delivery of various governmental programs such as municipal grants, child welfare, business support initiatives, employment programs and payments for police services provided by the R.C.M.P. By far the largest component of the discretionary expenditure category, however, is wages and benefits of those who draw their income from the public sector, at approximately $1.6 billion or 69 per cent of the total discretionary expenditures.

The adjustments made last December by My Minister of Finance in reducing "operating" and "program" expenditures across all departments, and in implementing a series of taxation and other new revenue generating measures, have enabled My Government to deal with about one-half of the then projected current account deficit of $300 million for the 1993-1994 fiscal year. My Ministers wish to emphasize, as well, that those budgetary adjustments were made without any impact whatsoever on wage or benefit rates in the public sector. As noted earlier, public sector wages and benefits use 69 per cent of all discretionary funds available. While further modest results can undoubtedly be achieved in reducing some operating and program expenditures next year, the inescapable fact is that substantial restraint on overall public sector compensation levels is unavoidable if the provincial deficit is to be kept within manageable and acceptable levels - which it must be. Notwithstanding many suggestions to the contrary, it has always been and still is the intention of My Ministers to seek to achieve this, not by roll back of wage rates or salary levels, but rather by restraint of ancillary compensation costs and possible time-off without pay.

It is also clear to My Ministers that the amount which can responsibly be borrowed to address the substantial current account deficit, in addition to the borrowings necessary to implement a modest capital account program for the coming year, is extremely limited. This view is reinforced by the opinions recently expressed at a national workshop organized by the highly regarded C.D. Howe Institute on the overall fiscal difficulties and challenges confronting all of the governments in the nation. In a report released on February 17th by the Institute, it was noted, and I quote:

"Many participants in the workshop argued that Canada is fast approaching a crisis point, where continued heavy borrowing may not be possible... One message, however, emerged clearly from the workshop. The damage to Canadians' living standards of a fiscal retrenchment forced by an abrupt end to investors' willingness to buy Canadian debt would be far greater than that of a timely, controlled budget-balancing process. It has never been more urgent for Canadian governments to act vigorously in addressing this serious - and seriously neglected - problem", unquote.

My Ministers are determined to take the strong action that is necessary to enable us to avert a more serious fiscal problem in the future. My Ministers are sensitive, however, to the impact some actions may have on those who receive their income from the public treasury and on members of their families, and are determined to be fair to all concerned. In this regard, My Ministers are anxious to control the deficit through cost containment measures that will have the least possible adverse impact on the take-home pay and on the employment opportunity of those who have given loyal service to the public of this Province over the years. My Ministers are making every possible effort to achieve this through the collective bargaining process. They are hopeful that the leadership of the public sector unions will demonstrate the same sensitivity towards the burden that their demands would impose on taxpayers as they are asking My Government to show their membership on restraint in compensation costs.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Another major challenge that My Government will be called upon to address in the weeks and months ahead is determining the nature of the "fishery of the future".

The dramatic reduction in fish quotas over the past several years has generated unprecedented instability in the fishery sector and economic uncertainty throughout the economy at large, especially in the rural areas of our Province. These most unfortunate resource declines, which culminated in the northern cod moratorium announcement of July of 1992, will have major implications for our people and society over the foreseeable future. The virtual collapse of the groundfish sector of the fishing industry has resulted in a massive loss of employment opportunities in all areas of the Province and has placed the very future of many of our communities, including those with an historic presence in the offshore fishery, at considerable risk. Clearly, stock rebuilding presents the only meaningful solution to this most serious problem, and appropriate employment adjustment measures will have to be implemented over the immediate future in addition to those already initiated.

Total fish landings in our Province have declined sharply over the past several years from 558,000 tonnes in 1988 to only 225,000 tonnes in 1992. This has resulted in the annual value of fish production decreasing from approximately $800 million in 1988 to approximately $350 million in 1992. Equally significant has been the sharp reduction of approximately 5,100 person years of employment in the processing sector, involving upwards of 12,000 workers, many of whom are now receiving compensation under the Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery Program. These numbers do not include the many thousands of fishermen who have also been affected by the two year Northern cod moratorium. Landings of Northern cod within the Province have declined dramatically from approximately 210,000 tonnes in 1988 to approximately 20,000 tonnes in 1992. The economic and community impact of this reduction in our single largest groundfish stock, and other important groundfish stocks, represents one of the most serious public policy challenges in the history of our Province. The collaborative efforts of both the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada will be required to minimize the impact of employment displacement and economic losses.

My Ministers are in the process of finalizing a comprehensive public and industry consultation document on the "fishery of the future". It is abundantly clear that the very nature and character of the "fishery of the future" will be fundamentally different from the "fishery of the past". This will demand that difficult decisions be taken by My Ministers, but take them we must - there is simply no alternative if the "fishery of the future" is to be viable over the long-term. A viable fishery in this context will be one which is stable and competitive in the absence of continuous government subsidies, where a smaller fisheries workforce can earn an adequate income without excessive dependence on income support, and where the workforce can be professionalized to obtain high productivity levels. My Government's specific policy and program initiatives for the fisheries sector will be guided by the public's response to this consultation document.

The serious problems which have arisen in the fishery clearly reinforce the need for the people of this Province, through their Government, to have a meaningful role in all fisheries management decisions. This is a most reasonable position for My Ministers to adopt given the critical role which the fishing industry plays in shaping the social and economic fabric of our entire Province. It is no longer acceptable that the fishery be managed from Ottawa, Moncton or Halifax, and that My Government be almost completely removed from key public policy decisions affecting the fishery. It would be equally unacceptable for the Province to have legislative jurisdiction and management control of the fishery that we share with other provinces and nations. However, the record of management from Ottawa and the magnitude of the current problem demands a collaborative federal-provincial approach. My Ministers are convinced that their proposal for a joint fisheries management regime, similar to that which is in place for the offshore oil and gas sector, is the only effective framework in which to address major fishery issues in the future. Accordingly, My Ministers, led by My First Minister, intend to continue to pursue joint management of this important sector of our economy with the Government of Canada and if necessary directly with the people of Canada until that objective has been achieved.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government has committed, to the aboriginal peoples of this Province, its willingness to initiate discussions on aboriginal self-government in those areas within provincial jurisdiction. It is My Ministers' view that these negotiations can proceed in the context of land claims negotiations or may proceed on a separate basis if this is deemed appropriate.

My Government remains committed to the fair and just negotiated settlement of aboriginal land claims in Labrador. The Province has already agreed that it will be responsible for those aspects of any land claims settlement that are within its constitutional competence to provide. However, a major impediment to the land claims process is the federal government's recent withdrawal from negotiations because of its insistence that the Province accept a fixed percentage of the financial costs of a settlement. My Government will continue to negotiate with the federal government in an effort to resolve this impasse. In the interim, My Ministers have offered to negotiate bilaterally with the Innu and Inuit on those matters within provincial jurisdiction. This offer was accepted by the Inuit, who will be presenting a comprehensive land claims proposal within the next few days. My Government is committed to responding promptly to this proposal.

Similar negotiations are available to the Innu. However, My Government cannot negotiate with the Innu Nation as long as it continues to advocate and participate in illegal pressure tactics such as the removal of hydro meters. Furthermore, these negotiations will have no prospect of success if the Innu continue to base their negotiating position on an assertion of sovereignty.

My Government has been aware of the problems of Davis Inlet for some time and is acting on the principle and belief that the solutions to the problems of Davis Inlet must come from within the community itself and not be imposed from outside. My Ministers have met on several occasions with the Band Council, and a number of community proposals, notably training in fields of health and education, are now being implemented.

Notwithstanding these positive efforts and initiatives, the problems confronted by the people of Davis Inlet are indeed severe. They are also exacerbated by the isolation and physical location of the community. In recognition of this, My Government cooperated with the Band Council and the Government of Canada in a study of the problems associated with the current community site. My Ministers accept the principle that relocation is a necessary element to renewal of the community, and will continue to work with the Band Council and the Government of Canada to determine which course will best serve the needs and aspirations of all the residents of Davis Inlet.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Most of the legislative and policy objectives My Ministers undertook to pursue with vigour at the beginning of this Administration have now been realized. The foundations for economic reform have been put in place through the Economic Recovery Commission, through Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, and more recently through the development of a Strategic Economic Plan for the Province. The building blocks for a revitalized educational system have also been put in place, and our health care system has been restructured to make it more cost-effective and efficient in serving the needs of our people. Significant reforms to preserve and strengthen parliamentary democracy in the Province, and to ensure that Government is held duly accountable in this Honourable House for the proper discharge of its responsibilities, have been implemented. My Government has also discharged its responsibilities for managing the financial affairs of the Province in a prudent and disciplined but fair manner, without inordinately mortgaging the future of our children through the further accumulation of unacceptably high levels of public debt. Arising out of these significant reforms, and the other new directions charted by My Ministers over the last four years, is a future which all citizens of this Province will be able to look forward to with enthusiasm.

It remains in this Session to complete new conflict of interest legislation and some necessary environmental legislation. As well, legislative changes clarifying the relationship between the Auditor General and Memorial University will be tabled before the House for consideration.

During the course of this Session, you will also be asked to grant supply to Her Majesty.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

I invoke God's blessing upon you as you commence your labours in this Fifth Session of the Forty-first General Assembly. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Act," Bill No. 1.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Act," carried. (Bill No. 1)

On motion, Bill No. 1 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: His Honour has been pleased to make a speech to the members met in General Assembly and, for greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy. We will have copies distributed to all hon. members, for which we will take just a couple of minutes.

The hon. the Member for Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker and members of the hon. House of Assembly, I am honoured on this occasion to rise and propose that a committee of this hon. House be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Gracious Speech delivered by His Honour.

I extend best wishes to His Honour on the second address to this Forty-first Assembly on behalf of the people of the great district of Fortune -Hermitage. Let me, at the outset, say that I am honoured, proud and humble to represent people that I consider to be the salt of the earth.

As a young lad growing up in the community of Seal Cove, Fortune Bay, I envisaged a time when I would represent the people along the South Coast. Over the years, I saw representation that was made in the district and I personally felt that, if given the opportunity, I could do better. I was given that opportunity, Mr. Speaker, and the vast majority of the people of that district today will tell you that this is the best time this district has been represented since 1949.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: And they will tell the Premier and his colleagues during the next election when they give me and his government another opportunity to continue to put this part of the Province on the map of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that over the last decade the global community has seen a revolution that has paled the industrial revolution of more than 300 years earlier that changed the western world at that time from a domesticated to a factory-oriented industry, that brought in the inventions of the wheel, the steam-engine, the spinning jenny, etcetera, and that improved the quality of life for the people. We have faced another revolution today, Mr. Speaker, the technological revolution. We can hardly fathom or keep abreast of what major inventions have been made in electronics, in the computer and the space age in these last few years, and we have seen an explosion of knowledge and technology never before seen by man.

This new technology has literally replaced millions of people in industry and that has helped, along with other factors, to trigger a world-wide recession more severe than any since the 1930s. The workforce has not been able to keep abreast of the tele-electronics, the fibre optics, the telemarketing technology that has seen the mode outdated even before implementation. It is just incredible! During this time, we have seen the collapse of the formidable Soviet Union and all of the Eastern European countries, not by design but by lack of education and technology to keep abreast of the technological change in the world. Their people did not think for themselves and the system did them in. We have been floundering as developed countries of the western world to come to grips with the astronomical problem that has beset us, and we as Canadians and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, have not been spared.

This severe recession has created unforeseen problems and this government, and others across the country, as a result of this, has had to meet the unexpected challenge head on. And I want to say, Mr. Speaker, they have done that exceptionally well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: You see, with the problems created by this recession, all governments have been faced and are continuing to face severe problems in coping with their debt. While revenues have dropped expenses have continued to escalate in the delivering of social programs which have changed government's strategies. The pressures put on public services of health, education, social programs, roads, infra-structure, recreation facilities, et cetera, has not lessened but increased. I would reiterate to you again and again, Mr. Speaker, that this has been one of the most difficult four years that the federal government, or any provincial government, has faced since the 1930s.

This government, Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of Premier Clyde Wells and his ministers, has faced difficult years, but under the leadership of the Premier and his government, the Province has been managed well. Under tremendous duress they have led the way in tackling these fiscal and monetary problems head on, and in doing so have given a hope for future generations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: The Premier and his government have been honest with the people of this Province. He has, without question, over these last four years been fair to the people of the Province. To quote the Member for Eagle River, `the people of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador have been treated the same regardless of the demographics, regardless of where they live and regardless of their political representation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: This is a hallmark quality that is welcomed by all people all the time, regardless of whether these people agree or disagree with government policy.

The government has had to initiate legislation that should have been adhered to years ago to protect the social fabric of our society. For example, one of the sixty-seven pieces of legislation brought before the House last spring, and one of the major pieces, is the Workers' Compensation. We have seen in this particular program where the unfunded liability ballooned to more than $160 million, and if the particular legislation had not been implemented to correct that, within a few years no Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, regardless of any injury, would have any protection under Workers' Compensation.

There was other legislation introduced by the government: The new Elections Act; The Shops Closing Act; The Occupational Health and Safety Act; The Labour Standards Act; and also the Health Act to empower the Minister of Health to create regional community health boards. There are others but all of these have demonstrated government's commitment to the people of the Province. There is no denying that government has been fiscally responsible, yet in spite of fiscal restraint, this Province has been able to maintain standards in health, education, recreation, roads and infrastructure, without sacrificing our future generations.

Government has managed well. There is no doubt about that, and there is light at the end of the tunnel for economic opportunity in this Province because of the fiscal prudence of this government. Everything is not doom and gloom.

There is still a tremendous future in the fishery, but there has to be some fundamental change of policy on behalf of the present federal government or future federal governments if we are to derive the maximum of job opportunity in the fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: I want to reiterate, that we must have joint management of the fishery, we must have a say in how our fishery is managed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: We have seen the decimation of an industry that was not caused by natural disaster. It was man-made, Mr. Speaker. Over the last few months we have seen people throw accolades toward the Hon. John Crosbie for his support for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and I applaud him for that. What else could he have done though? He could not have done anything else. The federal government, and successive federal governments, has allowed us to get into the mess in which we find ourselves. They created it and they have to pay up.

Today, as we speak, the Harbour Breton fish plant, the Belleoram fish plant, the Fortune fish plant, Trepassey fish plant, Arnold's Cove and others sit idle while 25,000 tons of one species, the red fish, has been allocated to plants operating in Nova Scotia.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: That is our fish for our people. We do not want to tell Nova Scotia who can catch fish in their jurisdiction, nor should we. But how can they catch fish in our jurisdiction and have the people of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Quebec decide who catches ours?

Politics, regardless of parties, are played at the expense of our people. It is not right. It has to stop, and we must stop it.

The Premier last week addressed the Empire Club in Toronto to garner public support across the nation for Newfoundland and Labrador's position, and there can be no letup until we find a resolve to the problem.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is where Mr. Crosbie can be the true native Newfoundland son. He and his government can agree to joint management of the fisheries on behalf of Canada and Newfoundland and give this Province a real chance for prosperity in the fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: While we stand here today, the Portuguese and Spaniards fish tomcods on the Nose and the Tail of the Grand Banks - a criminal act, an act of piracy - and the federal government is unwilling to take the ultimate decision to do anything about it, and that, Mr. Speaker, is a human tragedy, a terrible human tragedy.

The hon. Member for Port de Grave has said in this House time and time again, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are too passive when it comes to the fishing industry. He said we should be up in arms about the situation; and it might have to come to that to get the attention of those who are in control and make decisions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: We have never fully evaluated what the total fishery of all species can do for us if managed properly, but the time has come to do that and we have no alternative, Mr. Speaker, but to do that now.

The Hibernia project, as outlined in the Throne Speech, I believe, will bring many millions of new dollars to this Province. It will certainly enhance our fiscal position over the short term, but much more over the long-term period. The technology derived from this massive project will give our people the skills necessary to compete in the Twenty-First Century.

I am excited about that, and I know that government is as well, about what this project means and will continue to mean in the future; not only this project, but others that can and will be developed because of the cutting edge of technology that has and will be developed that will put us ahead in the race for new cutting edge technology.

The reason for optimism for the people of the Province, Mr. Speaker - and we must persevere to implement government's strategic plan to bring this to fruition. It will not be easy, but we will succeed and we must develop an entrepreneurial spirit among our people, especially the young. That can be developed, I believe, through the school curriculum. The Strategic Economic Plan sets that agenda, and we must be vigilant to carry that through.

Mr. Speaker, it would be remiss of me if I did not thank the government for its support to the people of my district. The twenty-three communities along both sides of Fortune Bay have seen improvements, in roads, water and sewer and recreation facilities, unprecedented in any one government term.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: We still have a way to go to further the road improvements, to more water and sewer, for the communities in the district, and it is due in some measure because of the neglect of the former administration which would not put the necessary funds there.

We desperately need a new health facility to be built on the Connaigre peninsula in Harbour Breton to serve the whole Connaigre area. The present structure which was built in 1935 cannot serve the needs of the people adequately. There is no doubt that government must and will over the next few years address that problem for the residents along the coast.

I'm excited about the tourism for the area. I'm also excited about a new industry, the dimensional stone project for the Connaigre area, that if developed properly could be a real shot in the arm.

The main concern is for the fishery in my area, for the plants at Harbour Breton, Gaultois, Belleoram and Hermitage. I believe these facilities will continue to bring employment to the Connaigre area if the fishery is managed properly. The fishery is the main source of income for the residents of my district, from Seal Cove in the west to St. Bernard's in the north. Its demise would be a major concern for the residents. There cannot be any industry to replace the fishery for the residents of my district. There are some exciting happenings in under-utilized species in the area, as well as for fish farming, that will hopefully continue to add to the prosperity of its residents.

There is one particular event that has made me extremely proud, Mr. Speaker, of the people in my district, particularly the residents of Harbour Breton. February 21, 1993, will always be a red letter day for the people of my district, particularly those on the Connaigre peninsula, with the opening up of the new recreation facility.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: The people had been waiting so long for the facility. The question I want to pose is: What is such good news about this project? Let me reiterate to you. It's about the commitment of the local people. Their group came to see the Premier in June of 1990 under the leadership of (inaudible) Rogers. They said to the Premier: we want a recreation facility for the Connaigre peninsula. Basically he said, if I can almost quote verbatim: how much money do you have? Sir, they said, we don't have any. He said: well, a facility of this nature needs a tremendous amount of local participation. I want you to go back to your people, to the people in the area. I want to see if their commitment is there for this facility. That was June of 1990. Under the leadership of Mr. Rogers and others in the community, through payroll deductions from the plant and clerks in the store and what have you, in a little over two years these people have raised more than $250,000.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: It's good news. Because what it will do for the people in this area - and I have likened it to this, Mr. Speaker - is, in a short while there'll be no mortgage on that building. It's like a person coming to St. John's or any other community and getting a house. You have a $2,000 mortgage, and you have to pay all the added expenses beside. If you can move into a house and there is no mortgage then it takes a lot less to keep it operational. I believe that this is a hallmark from this government, and I believe that the people from my area have responded. I am very happy to say that now it's history.

The hon. Member for Exploits, the hon. Mr. Grimes, when he cut the ribbon on that facility a few weeks ago, more than 2,000 people stood in that facility. The report from these people was: we can't believe that it is ours. Remember what I said: we can't believe that it's ours. They played a very integral part in making that happen. That, I believe, is where we have to go.

I think about the quotation from the former president of the United States when he said, "Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." I believe that we as a group of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have to have an entrepreneurial spirit and we have to take the lead ourselves to create opportunities for businesses, along with government, to bring to this Province the prosperity that is due and that our people so much deserve.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I believe that I have demonstrated government's commitment to clean up the duplication in the system in education, in government services and programs, which shows its commitment to economic development and its fairness and balance. I pledge my support to the Premier and his government to see their plan of action come to fruition, and I pledge my continued dedication, hard work and unwavering support for the people of Fortune - Hermitage.

Mr. Speaker, I shall conclude by thanking His Honour for his attendance here today at the opening of the Fifth Session of the Forty-first General Assembly and I move that an Address in Reply to the Gracious Speech from the Throne be drafted by a committee of this hon. House of Assembly.

Thank you, very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with a great deal of pleasure that I second the motion put by my colleague, the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, and that is, that a committee of this House be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Gracious Speech delivered by His Honour today.

I want to commend my colleague on the passion and care that he portrays when speaking on behalf of the people he represents. Mr. Speaker, I don't know if I can display the same vigour and enthusiasm as that shown by my colleague, however, that can be attributed to our different upbringing, he having been raised and educated under the umbrella of that great organization, the Salvation Army, while I have taken on a more laid-back sedate temperament, having been born a Methodist.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OLDFORD: However, I am sure that while we differ in style, we share the same concerns and aspirations for our people. I am also certain that members on both sides of this Legislature share the same burning desire, a desire to find a solution to the financial and social problems plaguing this Province.

Mr. Speaker, the economic problems this government have been coping with are not unique to Newfoundland and Labrador and we can take cold comfort in the fact that recessionary forces have been plaguing every region of Canada and even the world. Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, Louisiana, Australia, New Zealand, the news is the same, expenditures by governments are far outstripping the taxpayers' ability to pay, and we have reached a point in our economic development where expectations are running far ahead of the rate of economic growth and the growth in government revenues. Taxpayers are demanding an end to big-spending governments. For too long, governments have been robbing Peter to pay Paul, and we all know that at the time of elections, if we rob Peter to pay Paul, we can sure count on the support of Paul.

We have reached a point in our history where the challenge for government is to meet the basic essential needs of our people and we live in a time where to be able to balance the Budget without borrowing would be considered a godsend, and to have the ability to reduce previously accumulated debt would be seen as a miracle.

This Province needs a continuation of capable, forthright and compassionate leadership, and there is no doubt that government can take the lead role in guiding our people through these difficult times. However, government, alone, cannot and should not be expected to solve all the social and economic woes of Newfoundland and Labrador. We need responsible leadership from every sector of society, business, labour, labour unions, churches, and others, others with a desire to improve the quality of life of our people. We must work together with government to find long-term solutions for the long-term good of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, one week ago, I celebrated the second anniversary of my having been sworn in as a member of this Legislature representing the people of the historic district of Trinity North. I want to take this opportunity to again publicly thank the people of the district for their continued support. It has been two years of good news, bad news for the residents of my district. Of course, modesty dictates that I classify my election on February 19, 1991, as one of the good news items.

Mr. Speaker, the fishery, has been the backbone, the very lifeline of the economy of the Bonavista Peninsula. From the days of John Cabot to modern times, fishing was the mainstay of economic activity. It was the catalyst that allowed residents to build a way of life - a way of life that would be an envy of most. Contrary to common belief, the fish plant in Port Union, with its 1,000 or so employees, provided year-round, permanent employment. It was not your 10-42 operation, it was a not a stamp factory. It was a significant contributor to the economic well-being of the area and, indeed, to the economic well-being of this Province.

The people of the area from Bonaventures to Catalina in my district face an uncertain future. The devastation of our fishery and our inability to predict the future has placed those who have depended on the fishery for so long in a state of economic limbo. The compensation package put in place by the Federal Government provides some temporary relief. Career fisherpersons and plant workers have described the so-called package as a temporary stay of execution. The question is being asked and doubt is being expressed: What if the fish don't come back in 1994? What if? What then?

Mr. Speaker, in spite of the doom and gloom that prevails in the region, there have been some positive happenings. It has been said that we Newfoundlanders find strength in adversity. I see evidence of this inner strength among the people of my district. Community groups are seeking out innovative ways and means to diversify the economy of the Bonavista Peninsula. The local town councils of Catalina - Port Union, Little Catalina and Melrose, have banded together to look at economic development on a regional basis. The councils are working with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and various government departments to seek out potential economic development outside the fishery, and they are seeking out developers who would be willing to invest in diversified fishery and marine-related activities. The spirit of co-operation being shown by interest groups on the Peninsula since the Northern cod moratorium was announced is nothing short of tremendous.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to again mention the fact that 1997 is fast approaching. The 500th Anniversary celebration of John Cabot's sighting of land at Cape Bonavista will be the biggest celebration this Province has witnessed since the great Come Home Year celebrations. The economic benefits by way of tourism development will mean a tremendous economic boost to my district and, indeed, to the Province. Groups and committees in Trinity North and the district of Bonavista South are already gearing up to take advantage of the economic potential this celebration will offer. It is anticipated that the long-term impact of these celebrations will lessen our dependency on the fishery. While the celebrations will be Province-wide, we feel that the focus of the celebrations will be on Cape Bonavista.

Mr. Speaker, the upper region of my district, the region from Deep Bight to Random Island, is not as dependent on the fishery as is the Catalina - Port Union region, but this part of Trinity North has seen phenomenal growth. The towns of Shoal Harbour and Clarenville have witnessed a 33 per cent growth in population in the last eight years. This growth can be attributed for the most part to the reactivation of the Come By Chance refinery and the start up of the Bull Arm Hibernia development. In addition to this, Clarenville - Shoal Harbour has developed over time as a distribution centre. The retail sector in the towns has seen significant growth over the last two years. The White Hills Ski resort and the golf course at Terra Nova National Park, along with other tourism-related developments, have allowed for expanded hotel and bed and breakfast establishments. The expansion of winter and summer recreational activities has provided not only a new lifestyle, but significant employment opportunities have been created for the whole region.

There are other developments in Trinity North that are worthy of note. We now have the only operating slate mine and slate tile production centre in this Province at Burgoynes Cove. There are plans in place to redevelop and restore a number of historic sites in the Town of Trinity. Prominent among these is the restoration of the old Garland property. This restoration work will be a joint venture undertaken by the Trinity Historic Trust here in Newfoundland and an interested group of historians and architects from Bristol in England.

Also, while doom and gloom pervaded the fishery in 1991-1992, smaller fish plants in my district, at Hickman's Harbour, Trouty and Clarenville had reasonably good production seasons, and there is no doubt that these small plants will continue to operate in the future and continue to make a significant contribution to the economy of the region.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that this government, true to its election promise of 1989, has decentralized a number of government operations, and my district has been the beneficiary of the movement of government agencies outside the overpass and into rural Newfoundland and Labrador. This government's policy of decentralization of government operations will not only improve the quality of government service to rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, it will provide an economic boost to the outlying regions of the Province.

I would like to say to my colleagues on both sides of the Legislature, the people of this Province are demanding accountability from its elected representatives. Our people expect us to seek long-term solutions to our financial problems. They will not tolerate political grandstanding. They demand nothing more and they deserve nothing less.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, it is with a great deal of pride that I second the motion of my hon. colleague that a committee be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few formalities, first, that I would like to pass through. This is a traditional day, not a day for partisan debate to any large extent, although there may be a small amount from time to time, so I want to respect that tradition and practice as much as I can, and I hope that if I deviate from it, Your Honour will draw my attention to that problem. I would like to express gratitude to His Honour, on his second Throne Speech, very well delivered - I cannot say very well written, I say, very well delivered. I want to welcome the Supreme Court Judges who have since left, as well as the visitors from Church and State on the floor of the Legislature, and other distinguished guests and parliamentarians, both Members of Parliament and Mayors whom I quickly have noticed - welcome all of them, other distinguished guests who might be either on the floor or in the gallery and I may have missed them, visitors to the gallery and the members of the general public. I don't know how many that leaves, but I am sure there are some here.

MR. HARRIS: The press.

MR. SIMMS: And, yes, as always, we welcome the press. I thank the Member for St. John's East.

I want to begin by extending my congratulations to the Member for Fortune - Hermitage on his very eloquent speech. I have to admit, with tongue-in-cheek, I suppose, that I wasn't a bit surprised, actually, to hear him pat himself on the back and pat the government on the back. Because these days, Lord knows, the government could use all the support they can get, and I suspect that was one of the reasons why he did it, to pat themselves on the back.

He talked about what a great member he has been. I think he said he has been the best one since Confederation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: The best one since Confederation. I dare say some of the Members of Parliament in the gallery might even pass it on to Roger Simmons, who is a former member, and a few other people who have served that district in the past.

I also heard him deliver his Pledge of Allegiance to the Premier and to the government. The only thing I would caution the Premier on is that I have heard him do that once before. I say that in jest and with the deepest respect to the hon. member. It is a joke. Don't take it too seriously.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: A bit sensitive.

MR. SIMMS: Very sensitive, yes.

MR. MATTHEWS: You can call him Mr. Pledge now.

MR. SIMMS: In talking about the fishery, he said that Newfoundlanders should be up-in-arms. I would suggest to him, if he wants to see Newfoundlanders up-in-arms, that he go outside Confederation Building today at about 4:15 and he will find a group of Newfoundlanders up-in-arms over an issue that this government, his government, is responsible for. So let's see what happens with respect to that.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Throne Speech, itself -

MR. MATTHEWS: There is the Member for Trinity North.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, yes. The Member for Trinity North, of course, is a very eloquent speaker. He describes himself as being a laid-back individual, and that may very well be. I don't know him all that well, but he certainly appears, to me, to be a very sincere individual and I commend him.

The thing I liked about his few comments was that he showed he had a sense of humour and was able to tell a few jokes. I would suggest the Premier might want to invite him into the Cabinet. He could certainly use a bit of that around the Cabinet table, no doubt, these days.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, at a time when the people of this Province need to hear something that would give them some hope for the future, when they need to have their pride and their spirit revitalized, I was expecting something from this government today, in their Throne Speech, that might give people some reason to look forward to the future; but I have to confess, in my own view, it was probably the most depressing, dismal, uninspiring Throne Speech that I have heard in this Legislature for a number of years, and I say that with all seriousness, Mr. Speaker.

It was filled with a lot of the same old empty rhetoric that we have heard over the last three or four years, and I am going to touch on some of them just to refresh the memories of the members opposite, the Premier, in particular. The message throughout was consistent though, a fair bit of blaming others for all of the problems that the government face, no responsibility for their own lack of action - very consistent: blame, blame, blame.

I especially noted, with some interest, the bottom of Page 6 in the Throne Speech where the Lieutenant-Governor had this to say: "My Ministers have not criticized and do not criticize the federal government for this situation". I wonder when that began? I would have to ask the question: I wonder when that began? It must have begun last night when the Premier went on Province-wide television, I suppose.

Mr. Speaker, to be honest with you, the speech sounded more like a prorogation speech, because most of it, three-quarters of it, really was history. It was a summary of things that the government have done over the last three or four years, this initiative or that initiative, or whatever they have done, the small bits and pieces of legislation that they have put in place. Most of it sounded very familiar. There wasn't much there to offer hope to people. There were a few promises, I have to confess. There were a few promises, most of them very familiar.

I made a note of the education promise, for example, on Page 3, where they said: "My Ministers look forward to extending the reach of Memorial University as the economy improves, with priority to be given to the central and western regions of the Province."

Now, doesn't that sound familiar, Mr. Speaker? Doesn't that sound familiar? Even to Your Honour it must sound very, very familiar.

They did talk about a social plan - a Strategic Social Plan. That may be a good idea. I don't know why they would have waited four years for this, but it may very well be a good idea.

Then there were some other good news announcements in the Throne Speech, on the top of Page 6. There was another really good announcement there, where the government announced that a committee of federal and provincial ministers are going to be aided by a committee of very senior federal and provincial officials, and these two committees are presently in an organizational stage. That was a pretty big announcement, pretty significant for the Throne Speech, and I'm sure the people of the Province are going to pretty excited about hearing those kinds of things that were in this Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with all of this - the document itself contains some very fine words; there is evidence of some good public relations assistance, a bit of slickness, splattered throughout the document itself, lots of smoke and mirrors, but absolutely nothing in this document that's going to get the people of this Province excited or interested about a future.

The biggest part of the document, of course, dealt with the same thing the Premier went on Province-wide television about last night. He got free air time last night to speak to everybody in the Province, then it is contained here in the document again. The Minister of Finance had a press conference a week or so ago, fairly good Province-wide coverage and, of course, the Minister of Finance will deliver his Budget, I suppose, sometime in the next few days, with a very similar message. I wonder if that means anything. I wonder if there is anything behind all of that, other than just to get the message out. Because if that's what the Premier is trying to do, he is doing a good job of getting the message out. If he wants to do something to build confidence in the people and build consumer confidence, he sure isn't doing a very good job of that. Because that is one of the major fallouts from what he has been saying and talking about over the last few weeks.

We did hear some promises in this Throne Speech. I want to remind the Members of the House of Assembly of some of the promises made by this government through previous Throne Speeches. Because we are just about in the fifth year of this government, beginning the fifth year - on April 20, the government was elected. So we will soon be going to the people again, when a new government will be elected or chosen. So maybe it is a good time to reflect on some of the Throne Speech promises made in previous Throne Speeches by this government and read by previous Lieutenant-Governors and the present one - just to refresh memories, Mr. Speaker.

One, back in 1989, said this: This economic problem has been studied exhaustively over recent years, but until now, no direct steps have been taken to address the situation and implement solutions. My Government is, at this moment, in the process of establishing an economic recovery plan, the details of which will be announced shortly.

Mr. Speaker, that plan was announced shortly, alright, some thirty-seven months later in June of 1992, a plan that the Premier, himself, said it would take twenty to twenty-five years to fully implement. It consisted, to a large extent, of rewording from the House Royal Commission report, which, by Dr. House's own public admission, the previous government had begun to implement with encouraging results.

Here is another promise from the Throne Speech: 'A facility similar to Grenfell will be established in Central Newfoundland.' Another one: 'The curriculum of Sir Wilfred Grenfell in Corner Brook will be expanded to include the third-and fourth-year courses as quickly as they can reasonably be added.' Now, Mr. Speaker, action on that particular commitment gives a new meaning to the word 'quickly', I would suggest.

'The health care system in Newfoundland has been under considerable pressure. Hospital beds remain closed. Doctors and nurses and support staff perform their duties under difficult conditions. Some equipment and services are strained to their capacity. It is My Government's belief that work must be started immediately to alleviate this situation.' And work they did. More hospital beds have been closed. Waiting lists have become longer. Nurses are under more stress today than ever they were before, and before this government came to office, and because of significant layoffs - 600 or 700 in the health care system - of course, many of them are being injured more.

Here is one for the history books, Mr. Speaker, from the 1989 Throne Speech: "In recent years, economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador has been impeded by an unsettled labour climate. My Government is determined to achieve a more productive and amicable labour relations environment and to deal directly with the issues that are contributing to this situation." Now who would dare suggest that the government hasn't kept its promise on that particular one? Promises on Labrador! So the Throne Speech of 1989 was filled with all kinds of promises.

Just a couple from 1990: "My Ministers also wish to reaffirm their confidence in and commitment to the collective bargaining process in the public sector." That was in 1990 Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, a couple of months, I suppose, before they strutted in here and brought in Bill 16 and the following year when they brought in Bill 17, or whatever it was.

"My Government will be adopting new policy directions to improve and provide for fairness in the administration of municipal government." New meanings to the words "improve" and "fairness".

In the 1991 Throne Speech: "In pursuing our economic development and diversification objectives My Ministers will strive to ensure that the tax system contributes to a positive business climate in this Province.," and then they brought in the payroll tax. They also said in 1991 - here is the labour stuff again - "My Ministers intend to continue to work closely with the labour movement and with employer representatives to develop laws and practices to maintain harmonious labour relations. Now that certainly hasn't been one that has been fulfilled, I wouldn't say.

Here is one of the ones I like, last year alone: "When My Government was elected by the people of this Province in 1989 it endeavoured to chart new directions for a physically, socially and economically healthy future for the whole of our society. Much progress has been made on all fronts." Now, that is what they said last year in the Throne Speech.

Finally, just one I want to touch on is this one from the 1992 Throne Speech: "I am very proud of My Government's concern for and commitment to preserving the environment of our beautiful Province. The initiatives I have outlined are indicative of the strength of this concern and signal a new era of environmental awareness in this Province," - not to mention their interest in Long Harbour and the Long Harbour incineration proposal.

Mr. Speaker, I guess the point I am trying to make here: Lest anybody believes that what is said in the Throne Speech is the Gospel and will be delivered on by the government, and a full commitment is being made by the government, they had better think twice. The only thing that I am certain of in this year's Throne Speech that this government will deliver on is the economic message contained therein. That is the only thing you can be certain of, the wage roll backs, cutbacks, or whatever you want to call them. We will get into that, I am sure, on another day. We will have another day once the Budget comes down, and another opportunity, many opportunities, to debate the fiscal argument. I don't think today is the time for that, although it is contained in the Throne Speech.

I simply want to say to the Premier and to his government: whatever time you have left, whether it's a week, a month or a year, for heaven's sakes, roll up your sleeves. When you're doing your planning for the future of this Province, and for the people of this Province, please listen to what people have to say to you and please put people first before you make your decisions; because you aren't doing it.


AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I am not surprised to hear members laugh, because they wouldn't know what that means. They wouldn't know what it means, Mr. Speaker, to put people first. That is their biggest problem.

Mr. Speaker, I am saying to the Premier in all sincerity, that I understand where he is coming from and the approach that he is taking. I happen to think it's the wrong approach. I don't think it is the right or correct approach for the people of this Province. I really believe that the Premier may be losing touch - I don't know - but I don't believe he understands truly the amount of suffering and pain that people out around this Province are experiencing. I can assure him it is devastation out there. I have heard it from hundreds and hundreds of sources. So Throne Speeches notwithstanding, the proof is there.

I think I have given enough evidence to show that what is said in the Throne Speech is not what is really important. What is important is what the government decides it is going to do in the days and weeks ahead, and the action that it takes. You can't continue to carry on dealing with the problems of this Province by simply relying on one approach - cut expenditures! cut expenditures! - and do absolutely nothing on the economic front.

That is where the problem is, Mr. Speaker. There has been no action from the government over the last four years to create economic growth, to get people back to work, to get jobs created, to create even the climate for businesses to create the jobs. That, I think, Mr. Speaker, is really what is missing, and that is what is needed. People need a pro-active, aggressive approach to dealing with those economic problems, and that is what has been missing.

I hope the Premier will consider those kinds of suggestions and take those remarks for what they are meant to be. They are meant to be sincere suggestions. I disagree with the approach but I think that is what has been missing. I do not know how much time you might have to do it. You may have four or five years after the next election. I do not know, but we will see in due course. The people will decide that. But whoever is going to be there in the next four or five years had better steer in the direction and head towards job creation, economic growth for the people of this Province. Otherwise I fear for our whole future, to be quite frank with you, because things are not going well now and they have not been going well for a number of years.

I am hopeful that the Premier will consider those kinds of thoughts. If he does not then all we can do is offer the alternative to the people, and we will be doing that. We will make it clear, Mr. Speaker, how we intend to do it when the time comes, and that will be, as I said, in a few weeks.

One thing I want to conclude with is this: - for the benefit of the people of the Province, not the parliamentarians or the members in the House of Assembly because they should understand this clearly anyway - the role of the Opposition is to point out flaws in government policy, in government directions, in government legislation, in Budgets, or whatever. That is the role of the Opposition. It is not to criticize for the sake of criticizing. We are not criticizing for the sake of criticizing, we are criticizing because we think there is something wrong, and we will continue to do that because that is our obligation. Members opposite should know that. That is our obligation and we will continue to do that, and we will continue to do it aggressively, in the hope that some of the things that may be said may have some validity, and in the hope that government might listen and make some changes so that you will get improved legislation and improved policy. That is the whole purpose of it.

The other ultimate obligation of the Opposition, of course, is to offer itself to the people, to give the people of the Province a clear choice when the time comes for the electorate to speak. We will continue to do that.

I also want to assure Your Honour that the upcoming session of the House of Assembly will probably be one of the most memorial ones for Your Honour. It certainly will be one of the most memorial ones for members opposite, I can assure them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I want at the outset, to join in the welcome extended by the Leader of the Opposition to the visitors, both those who are on the floor of the House and those who are in the gallery today. The opening of the House of Assembly probably does not have the same significance that it had thirty years ago. It is more taken for granted and people have their attention focused on other things, so perhaps there is not quite the same level of interest or concern about the opening.

I remember the first session I sat in. We all arrived in long tails and pinstriped trousers, some even with top hats. More attention was given to the pomp and ceremony of the opening of the House. Well, that has diminished somewhat and perhaps it is a good thing. Maybe we should get more directly to business. But I am delighted to see that we have retained the tradition of inviting leaders of church and state to come to the House on this particular occasion, and I sincerely welcome them all.

I want, Mr. Speaker, also to join in the congratulations to both the Member for Fortune - Hermitage and the Member for Trinity North who moved and seconded the speech. I share in the comments of the Leader of the Opposition. I think they did a good job.

I assure the Member for Fortune - Hermitage that I accept, without question, his pledge of loyalty.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would remind all hon. members, lest they have forgotten, that most new members to this House are like puppies - like newborn puppies - after a little while they open their eyes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: And maybe that is what happened.

Mr. Speaker, before I deal with the primary issues that I want to deal with, I want to deal with one specific comment that the Leader of the Opposition made. He referred, I believe, to Page 6 in the speech just read by His Honour. He thought there was something misleading there, or a statement that just happened last week, he said, where he quoted the speech as saying that the government did not criticize and has not criticized the federal government for reductions in transfers. This was his comment. Well that is what I understood him to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is correct.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, that this government does not criticize the federal government for these kinds of reductions. He thought that this was a new discovery, just occurred in the last week. I want to assure him, lest he has forgotten, that that is a position I have taken every year, on a consistent basis, for the last three years.

I will also select for him, from Hansard, the speeches where I have said it in this House, and refer him to numerous speeches where I have said it throughout. When he has seen all that, I will accept his apology.

Mr. Speaker, I say it for a very simple reason. There is a little bit of jest here with the Leader, but I maintain the position for a very simple reason. The problem that this Province has is not peculiar to Newfoundland in its financial situation. It is a national problem. Even if we dealt absolutely perfectly with our problem in this Province, if the federal government and a significant portion of the other provinces do not come to grips with the problem, then we will suffer the reaction of the international investment community in any event, no matter how well we perform. Because to them these are Canadian government investments, and we will be tarred with the overall Canadian brush. So I am anxious, on that account, to see the Canadian government take steps to deal with the deficit.

I am also anxious as a Canadian citizen. I am a taxpayer. I am one of those taxpayers, along with every other citizen who lives in this Province, who owes his or her equal share of the total Canadian debt. So as a taxpayer I want to see the Canadian government deal responsibly with this issue. But even if you ignore those two concerns, just from a purely selfish point of view, this Province last year, of its total expenditure, 43 per cent - it used to be about 50, but last year 43 per cent - came by way of transfers of one form or another from the federal government.

Now if we think that we have problems now, God help us if the federal government gets in financial trouble and cannot maintain that level of support to this Province. If we think that we have to cut expenditures now, what will we do if they cannot maintain that level of support? Will we be like New Zealand, that was referred to in a recent W-5 program?

Those are the kinds of concerns that motivate the government of this Province to take that position and state, year after year, part of the cause of our problem - part of it - is reduction of federal transfers. I must state that, but I do not blame the federal government for doing it. It must done if they are to be responsible to Canadian citizens.

Mr. Speaker, the speech just read by His Honour focuses on the major issues facing this Province. If you break it down and look at it carefully, you will see what they are. The economy, a major issue; and here we have to distinguish between the economy and the financial situation of the government. The economy has a much brighter position at this moment in the Province, as well as the nation, as well as North America. It appears much brighter now, than does the financial situation of the collective governments in Canada, as well as the Government of the United States.

I do not want to see us jeopardize the chance of improving our economic future and gaining growth because we are, today, bad financial managers, and there is a serious risk of doing that. If we do not manage government's financial situations properly and soundly, we can destroy the promise of a brighter economy that at the moment appears to be on the horizon. There is some significant sign of improvement in the North American economy in general and the Canadian economy and as well, in the Newfoundland economy. There is some significant sign of improvement. But, Mr. Speaker, that does not alter the financial situation of the Government of Canada, the governments of most of the provinces and the government of this Province in particular. We must deal sensibly with our financial situation or we will destroy any prospect of economic improvement for the country and for the Province.

In terms of the economy, I listened to the Leader of the Opposition today, and I listened intently to him last night when he commented. Now I realize he had no idea - well, he should have had an idea but he did not know the specifics of what I was going to say. Well, I am sure he taped it beforehand anyway, but within that time frame he could not possibly respond very effectively without any notice. So I understand that, but he has had today to do it.

I listened to him last night and I listened to him again today and his emphasis is: deal with the economic situation. I listened to him say how much he loved the economy of this Province, and we have to do something to protect it, but I looked for the specifics and I listened for the specifics. It was sort of a motherhood speech. He loved his mother but there was no prescription to deal with her ailments, not one, nothing. In particular, Mr. Speaker, there was no prescription to deal with the financial situation, none at all.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I heard the Leader of the Opposition talk about stimulating the economy, spending money, taking steps to stimulate the economy, and I agree with him. That needs to be done. What he does not say or did not indicate was the steps that were taken, starting of course with the Strategic Economic Plan, of which I know he is a great supporter because he stood in this House on opening day last year and said that if we brought in a plan, if we brought forward a plan that was supported by the people of this Province and was reasonable, it would have his strong endorsement. Now I think that that plan is demonstrably supported by the people of this Province. I do not think there is any doubt about that. So I assume that it is also supported by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, last fall, last year when we brought the plan in, when we brought the Strategic Economic Plan in, I wrote the Prime Minister -


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would just like a little quiet so I could make the points. I didn't bother the Leader of the Opposition, and I would prefer that his members just give me a little bit of quiet, because it is better if I do not have to shout and they are not shouting.

When we brought in the Strategic Economic Plan, the first thing I did was, write the Prime Minister and send him a copy of it, told him our position. I had quite a nice letter back from him acknowledging it, and wished success in implementing it and would be pleased, should there be an opportunity, to discuss it with me. Well naturally I wrote him within six days and said: there will be an opportunity. I will make sure that we do that.

Now the Prime Minister, myself and others were somewhat busy over the course of the summer and fall, but we agreed that as soon as the constitutional issues were out of the way, we would meet to discuss this issue. And we did - we met in late November. I wrote him again on November 5 and set up the meeting, told him exactly what I intended to discuss, and put forward a proposal to help deal with the economic problems of this Province. I am going to quote from the Prime Minister's letter. Here is his undertaking, delivered to me on January 4 of this year: 'I would be prepared to fully engage the Federal Government at the most senior decision-making level in responding to the economic needs of Newfoundland and Labrador.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, I took that seriously. I took that seriously. He went on to recommend that we name a committee of ministers, as we had discussed, and he told me whom his ministers would be. He went on to suggest that we name a committee of officials. Well, I took it to Cabinet immediately, the first meeting after, and replied to the Prime Minister on January 15. I told him that his 'intention of engaging the Federal Government at the most senior decision-making level in this initiative is most welcome and I believe that this commitment, in itself, constitutes an assurance of success.' I then named the ministers to the committee to work with him. I named the officials to the committee. This was on January 15.

But then, I also did something else. I gave the Prime Minister the credit I felt he deserved for this, and I wrote this to him: 'I am not aware of any Prime Minister, in the forty-three years that Newfoundland has been a province of Canada, who has given a stronger commitment than to fully engage the Federal Government at the most senior decision-making level in responding to the economic needs of Newfoundland and Labrador. For that, I express to you my personal appreciation and the gratitude of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, I was hoping for significant things, and I still am.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is why he resigned.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, the hon. member makes a quip that that is why the Prime Minister resigned. That could be. I can't answer for why the Prime Minister resigned. But I regret that he did before we had this more effectively off the ground. However, I have since been speaking with Mr. Crosbie - and Mr. Crosbie was the minister named to lead this. I have since been speaking with Mr. Crosbie and I have no doubt that we will move expeditiously to do it.

Now, these are the kinds of steps that we have been taking to rebuild and give stimulus to the economy. Because this little Province can't do it alone. The Leader of the Opposition's closing remarks were about the moves that are necessary to generate employment and stimulate economic activity. If we had no debt when the recession started, we could have borrowed money and spent a lot of money stimulating, as governments frequently do, but with the accumulated deficit and debt situation of this Province and this nation, that hasn't been possible.

Mr. Speaker, one of the skills of government is recognizing that you have to manage decline differently from the way you manage growth. Everybody wants growth, wants to have growth in employment opportunities, in economic performance and in revenues to government. So you always are thinking in terms of growth. When a government gets hit with an economic recession and decline sets in, it is the unwise government that continues to manage as though we were in a state of growth. The wise government recognizes the reality and responds with the kind of response that is necessary to deal with that reality. And managing decline is quite different from managing growth.

One of the aspects of managing decline is to try to diminish the adverse consequences or impact of decline while, at the same time, preparing the basis or the springboard from which to go forward when economic circumstances that are totally beyond your control change and growth starts. Now, that is exactly what we have been doing for the last two to three years since the recession set in. And it is the sound and sensible approach, instead of putting your head in the sand and saying: There is no decline; we are managing growth, we will pretend there is no decline. A responsible government can't do that. That is why the government has been managing the affairs of this Province in the way in which it has over the last two to three years.

Mr. Speaker, not only did we put in place this proposal with the Prime Minister, last fall - on December 4, the Minister of Finance brought in proposals. I heard the Leader of the Opposition last night talk about tax stimulation and tax incentives to cause growth. We did, Mr. Speaker, on December 4th - the Minister of Finance announced in this House, a reduction from 17 per cent to 16 per cent for general corporate tax rate, a reduction from 17 per cent to 7.5 per cent for the manufacturing and processing sector, a reduction from 10 per cent to 5 per cent for the small business rate, giving Newfoundland and Labrador the lowest small business and the lowest manufacturing rates in the country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I understand the Leader of the Opposition's desire to see stimulus in the economy, and he recommends that government take it. What he has overlooked is the fact that we were months ahead of him. It has been done. That is not to say that more need not be done - and more will be done.

Mr. Speaker, there are other measures. Don't forget, as all the world knows, we propose to spend some $175 million on capital account this year that will stimulate economic and construction activity, in particular, in the Province, and this will have a beneficial value.

In these difficult times, that is the kind of thing that could be deferred totally, except that it would have a very substantial adverse economic effect. Instead, we have moderated the level of it. Over the last ten years, it has averaged $220 million a year, but we have brought it down because of these difficult financial times, and we propose it be $175 million this year.

Mr. Speaker, there are other efforts being made jointly with the Federal Government - some by the Federal Government alone, and others will continue through ACOA, through the ERC, and through others.

Mr. Speaker, rebuilding the economy takes more than just having a Strategic Economic Plan. It takes the individual components of that plan, and perhaps, more than anything else, it takes a good education system. The Strategic Economic Plan recognizes that, and that is why the government has set about trying to deal with the cumulative ills of the education system of this Province that have accumulated over a number of years.

We made a number of significant changes to start with - the community college restructuring and reorganization. We proposed to put a campus of Memorial University in Central Newfoundland and to expand Grenfell. That is still the objective of this government, and will remain the objective of this government, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: We had the good sense to refrain from trying to rush at it in these difficult financial times. We had the good sense to manage the decline with which we were faced, but it is still, and remains, the commitment of the Government of this Province.

We put in place a Royal Commission to deal with primary, elementary and secondary education and the ills of that system. I doubt that there is a person walking in this Province today who will not admit readily that there are ills in that system that need to be corrected, so we put in place a Royal Commission to make recommendations. I think, of the total number of recommendations, some 125 of them are in the process of being implemented.

There are some major recommendations that impact on the denominational education system in the Province, so we took a special approach. We asked the heads of all the churches to form a committee, called a committee of the principles involved, and work with the Planning and Priorities Committee and the leaders of all of those churches, and that would be a committee of principles, to try to work out a consensual arrangement as to how to modify our education system. A committee of officials are working, too - governmental officials and officials of the denominational education committees.

Mr. Speaker, I fear it may have gotten off the rails a little bit because it just seems that some members of some, if not all, churches are operating on the assumption that the government is out to abolish totally the denominational education system, and the words that some use is have 'a Godless system'. Well, I don't know how many times the Minister of Education has to say it or how many times I have to say it, but let me say it again: It is not the intention of the government of this Province to create a totally non-denominational education system, to create a Godless education system.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: It is not the objective of the Government of this Province to seek changes in the constitutional provisions related to this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: It is the objective of this government to meet with the leadership of the churches and those who are involved directly in education to seek a consensus as to how we can improve a fairly weak system, as to how we can improve it and make the education of our children the priority and ensure that we can get the best value in that regard within the limits of the financial resources we have.

We want to achieve that by consensus amongst the people involved and if a consensus is developed that requires change, then let us change whatever is required to change in order to achieve that, but let us not try to do an end run around the process and get anybody committed one way or the other to make changes or to not make any changes at all. Let us sit down like intelligent, fair-minded people and discuss it fully and thoroughly and come to a consensual arrangement to do what is in the best interest of a vast portion of the population of this Province, none of whom are in this Chamber today because they are all children yet to be educated. Those are the people for whom we have to work.

The Speech also, Mr. Speaker, indicates that in other respects we are sensitive to the need to now develop a Strategic Social Plan, and work is under way on that. As His Honour said, a Strategic Economic Plan is one-half of the equation, the other is the Strategic Social Plan. We have put in place the same kind of committee that will work in a similar fashion to the committee that did the Strategic Economic Plan, and the same person who chaired the committee on the Strategic Economic Plan is chairing this committee, as well. It has the same priority and they will report to the Planning and Priorities Committee of Cabinet, as did the one on the economy. So, Mr. Speaker, having put in place a Strategic Economic Plan, we are now turning our attention to a Strategic Social Plan, to build a good quality of life for the people of this Province.

Our ability to do any of those things depends entirely on two things, a reasonably sound and vibrant economy that can produce an adequate level of income and employment opportunity for our people and adequate revenue for government to perform its responsibilities, and secondly, a government that has the good sense to maintain a sound and stable financial situation in the Province. That, too, is essential. If you focus exclusively on one or the other, you will surely fail; you must have both in sight if you are to succeed.

Last night, Mr. Speaker, I made clear, I think, to the people of this Province how we propose to deal with a very difficult situation, and I will not spend much time on it today, but let me just point out that the problem we were dealing with was not $99 million, as I heard a radio commentator say this morning, it was $300 million. We took steps on December 4 that will have an impact totalling $140 million this year, none of which was specifically directed at compensation in the public sector. They were directed at tax increases which yielded some $63 million, or will yield in the coming year, some $63 million, so there is already a major tax increase for the coming year, which we put in place on December 4, because we could see this problem coming. There were substantial cuts and reductions in the public sector and we took steps to repeal Bill 17. The expected or possible up to 3 per cent increase, we eliminated the restraint in that regard. I think everybody realized that there was no prospect of any increase in public sector wage rates or salary scales.

Mr. Speaker, we've already, by these other means, dealt with $140 million of it. We now propose that we will borrow approximately $50 million on current account. That, I believe, is stretching the reasonable limit of what can be done prudently and responsibly in this Province. So we have got to deal with the remaining $99 million.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the total expenditures in this Province, 51 per cent is wage and salary related in the public sector, of everything. Now when you take out of it the interest payments which we can't touch, we must make, and social assistance payments, which technically we have the discretion to do - but how can we, if we are a caring people, reduce the minimum payments that are going to recipients of social assistance in this Province? So we treat that as sort of unchangeable too. As though it's an obligation that we can't alter.

When you look at those things, of what is left, wages and benefits account for 68.5 per cent of the total. Having already had substantial reductions last fall, proposing further reductions in that 32 per cent, logic makes it very clear that there is not much alternative but to have some reduction in that big chunk that is wage and related compensation factors. It's clear that it has to be done. I don't know of any other way to deal with it.

I would just like to comment for a moment on some comments I have heard about being unfair to those who draw their salary from the public purse. If you look at the education field alone, for example - just take that one because it's easy to identify, you can pick it out very clearly. When you look at the figures, Mr. Speaker, you will see that in the ten years between 1982 and 1992 the increase in expenditure on education - on all other matters other than salaries for teachers - was 65 per cent. From the amount spent in 1982, which was $74.6 million, up to $123.2 million, it is a 65 per cent increase in that ten-year period. On teachers' salaries on the other hand, it was a 76 per cent increase in the same ten-year period.

Now I haven't got the details for all of the remainder of the public sector but I don't think teachers are markedly different. I think it's substantially similar. So governments - this government and its predecessor - were not unfair to those who draw their income from the public sector. I think the record will show very clearly that they have not been unfairly treated. The conclusion to be drawn can't be challenged. It's not unfair treatment. I don't want to single out teachers. I think the same factor would apply to the remainder of the public sector as well.

Mr. Speaker, you might note one other thing. At the same time enrollment dropped from 142,000 to 121,000. In the meantime they picked up all of Grade XII which was added in that period too.

So there has been no increase in the burden. There has been a diminution in the burden, but a much greater level of increase in the portion of the public expenditure on salaries than on textbooks, transportation, school board grants, or any of these other components. As a matter of fact, textbooks increased by 3.8 per cent in the same period.

We must ask all of us - and I say "us" advisedly, because that includes everybody sitting in this Chamber, at least at the desks in this Chamber - we must ask all of us, to have enough concern for the taxpayers of this Province not to ask them to provide guaranteed security for us for all of the components of our compensation, when all of the rest of the people of this Province are subject to the vagaries of the economic time. That is an unfair burden, and, Mr. Speaker, that is what motivates the government's action and its policy in this regard. The government's objective is to seek fair and balanced treatment for all of our citizens.

Mr. Speaker, of all of the sections of the Speech from the Throne, of all of the components of it, and of all of the major challenges that face government, the one that has the greatest level of importance and the greatest impact, more important than the financial situation, more important than the general economic situation, is where we go from here in the fishery of the future. That is the one that is key, because do not forget the 400 communities along the coast of this Island and Labrador which are solely, solely, dependent on the fishery for their economic sustenance and livelihood. With what has happened in the fishery, their future is not, at this moment, terribly bright.

So the biggest challenge facing government is how to plan for and manage the fishery of the future, how to cope with the circumstances that will exist a little more than twelve months from now when, supposedly, the cod moratorium ends. Does anybody in this Chamber believe for one moment that we are going to go back to a 200,000 ton TAC? We will be lucky if we get 40,000 or 50,000 tons a year from now. It may not even open a year from now. What do we do then? That is the major challenge facing this government.

Beyond that, then, let us assume the fishery will recover; and I believe it will. It may take somewhat longer than people expect at this moment, but let us assume it will recover. How do we manage it for the future? I say to you, Mr. Speaker, as surely as we are sitting here, if we manage it in the future in the same way and on the same basis as we have managed it in the past, ten years from now our successors will be here making the same speech that I am making.

Here, Mr. Speaker, it is worthwhile taking just a few minutes - and I will not keep people much longer - to look at the historical reality. Prior to 1949, when the Northern Cod was the source of fish for the inshore fishery, there were no big trawlers out there scooping tons of it out of the sea in one haul. It was the inshore fishery, it sustained life in all of the Northeast coast of the Island part of the Province from St. Anthony right on around to Cape St. Mary's. It sustained life on the Coast of Labrador for all of those years, for perhaps 300 years prior to 1949 when we became a Province of Canada. There may have been years when they did not come into this bay or that bay, but the next year they were back again. There was no devastation of the fishery prior to that, but after 1949 fisheries was transferred to the federal government. A level of insensitivity naturally exists when you are in far away distant Ottawa and you do not know anything about fog and dories.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that problem, the European communities developed the big efficient trawling facility and capability, and started to take tens and hundreds of thousands of tons of the Northern Cod, not in the bays and coves of Newfoundland, but offshore in the waters where they existed for much of the year. There were years when they took 800,000 tons out of that. Well you do not have to be a biological genius to realize that even the great North Atlantic cannot sustain that kind of predation, and we destroyed it. We are in the process of destroying it, and the inshore fishery that produced 200,000 to 250,000 tons prior to Confederation, by 1973-74-75, was down to 35,000 tons because the fishery was virtually destroyed.

The efforts of the Law of the Sea were just coming in at that time and they came into effect in Canada and extended her limit for fishery purposes to 200 miles in 1975, and a measure of control was regained. In that year, the total allowable catch was 67,000 tons.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am going to give great credit to the former government of this Province. Consistently throughout that period, the governments of Mr. Smallwood, Mr. Moores, Mr. Peckford, all of them consistently, time after time, told the federal government: don't overdo it! Remember how fragile nature is, do not abuse nature, do not increase the TAC too much. They pleaded with the federal government - and I know, I have seen the letters from the former Ministers of Fisheries in Mr. Peckford's administration over a ten-year period - they pleaded with the federal government not to do it. They argued and fought and became most upset, to the point where Mr. Peckford even wanted constitutional change to transfer jurisdiction to the Province. But the federal government increased it immediately after, I think it was 1977. Don't forget, by that time, 98 per cent of the Northern cod that was being taken came to Newfoundland, 98 per cent of the Northern cod that was being taken by Canadian fishermen - the Europeans and others were fishing - was coming to Newfoundland.

They pleaded with the federal government not to increase the TAC or to increase it very cautiously. They alerted them to the problem, the connection between cod and caplin: Don't take any chances. Err on the side of caution. Remember the hundreds of communities in Newfoundland that are dependent on it. The federal government pressed and increased and increased and increased, all against the wishes of the Government of Newfoundland of the day. I give the former governments, some of whose ministers are now members of this House sitting on the Opposite side - I acknowledge the contribution they made and give them full credit for trying to do it. They did it consistent with what was done with previous governments in Newfoundland.

The federal government did not listen. They increased it until they got it up to 255,000 tons in 1987 and they were still increasing it. In the meantime, fishermen, inshore fishermen in particular, were telling everybody: our fishery is dropping off. Stop increasing the offshore catch, stop increasing the TAC, you are going to destroy the fishery. And Ottawa says: no, no, Newfoundland should not be involved in the management of the fishery, they do not know what they are talking about. That was their position and they went on.

Then they proposed in 1988 to increase it to 295,000 tons, the great scientists of Ottawa. Mr. Peckford's administration argued violently against it and said: you don't know what you are doing. That so-called science you are relying on is not reliable. That was 1988.

Well they succumbed a bit, they did not increase it to 295,000 tons, they only increased it to 266,000 tons, 1988. Four years later, July 1992, the federal Minister of Fisheries closes the Northern cod fishery because there is virtually no fish left in the sea.

Now I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and every member of this House and every resident of this Province and every fair-thinking Canadian, who do you trust to manage the fishery of this Province, the government at Ottawa or the government of this Province, whatever its political stripe? There can be only one answer, if there is any objectivity or fairness or honesty in those considering it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we are not asking the federal government to turn over total management to us. We are not doing as our predecessors did in asking for a constitutional change to give us jurisdiction. There are good reasons for that and I have spelled them out before. What we are asking, Mr. Speaker, is eminently sensible. We are recognizing the circumstances, we are asking for joint management.

I spoke to the Prime Minister at that meeting in November, and obviously Mr. Crosbie had prepared him for me. By that I mean he prepared his defences against my request. So as soon as I mentioned it, the Prime Minister said to me: yes, Clyde, I can see your point. I know the argument that you are making but there is one problem, how are we going to deal with the New Brunswick - Nova Scotia situation. What would we do with them? If Newfoundland has a joint management board what about Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and PEI and Quebec?' I said: 'Of course, they should have one, too.' He said: 'But if you have five different boards going around managing fish stocks, that are interconnecting with one another, you are going to have a mess.' And he would be quite right, if there were five different boards. He asked: 'What is your answer to that?' I said: 'It is very simple, Prime Minister. The same three or four or five people who are the federal representatives on the Newfoundland board should be the federal representatives on each of the other provincial boards. You will get a consistent management.'

But Newfoundland Government officials are not telling Nova Scotians what lobsters they can catch or where. Neither should Nova Scotian and New Brunswick Government officials be telling us what Northern cod we can catch, or who else can have access to the Northern cod in the waters around Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: So what the Throne Speech says, Mr. Speaker, is that if we can't make progress with the representative of Newfoundland in the Government of Canada, and the Government of Canada, generally, we are going to embark on a national campaign to take this proposal to the people of Canada, in whom I have a great deal of trust.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Because, Mr. Speaker, we can spend days and days in this House talking about Strategic Economic Plans, Strategic Social Plans, the financial state of the Province, and all of those other major issues that face the Province, but if we don't pay proper attention and make the right decision for the management of our fisheries, there will be 300 or 400 communities in this Province that won't exist another few years from now. It is that important that we get control of the fisheries.

Mr. Speaker, I pledge the efforts of this government to make sure that we achieve joint management of the fisheries in the future. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that a committee be set up to draft an Address in Reply, with the members of that Committee being: the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, the Member for Trinity North, and the Member for Ferryland, carried.

The hon. the Acting Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, and that the House do now adjourn.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, a point of privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank, on a point of privilege.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I did not want to interrupt the Premier's speech, but at the first occasion, which is now, I would like to raise a point of privilege.

It has come to my attention, Mr. Speaker - I was suspicious for the two hours that most of the media were on the floor here, that there was something a bit unusual going on. It has been confirmed since that for two hours - by the way, Your Honour, I brought it to your attention privately, and Your Honour called the Leader of the Opposition last night to ask for permission to have the media come on the floor of the Legislature to tape and to film the Throne Speech, to which we very readily gave our approval - which we always do. I think all Oppositions do that.

It has been brought to my attention that amongst the media people who were on the floor of the House, it has been confirmed that there was a person with a camera for two hours who is under contract to the Liberal Party. I think that is most inappropriate.


MR. MATTHEWS: I don't know who gave them permission to be on the floor. Someone directed the person to be here. He came in when the rest of the media were here. It is most inappropriate. If it can go unnoticed once, or undetected once, God knows when it will stop and when it will happen again. I sincerely believe that it was most inappropriate. If it wasn't a breach of privilege, it is certainly an abuse of privilege that I think should be stopped.

I am reluctant to rise today to do this, but I really was compelled to, because it has bothered me for the last couple of hours. I knew something was going on with this cameraman that was sort of out of the ordinary. The person, himself, confirmed it to one of our caucus, that he was, indeed, on this floor under contract from the Liberal Party. So I want to bring that to the attention of Your Honour and submit it for you to check out to come back to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would endorse totally the point of privilege raised by the hon. member, if that is, in fact, true, and I don't know whether it is or not. But, if that is, in fact, true, his comment is perfectly well taken and I would be the first to support the position he has taken. I will have it checked, Mr. Speaker, and he need not be concerned about it. If there was such a person here who did this, I can assure him that nothing the Liberal Party will do in any forthcoming campaign will have any part of that.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: I take the Premier's word for that but, again, I just want to go on record as saying that I think the Premier was the subject of the photography. Whether he is aware of it or not, I take his word for that. It is obvious that the Premier was the subject of the photography.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will investigate the matter and report back to the House.

The hon. the Government House Leader made a motion that this House do adjourn.

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