November 23, 1993              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS      Vol. XLII  No. 20

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the visitor's gallery from the town of Bonavista, the Mayor, Boyd Abbott, the Deputy Mayor, Barry Randell, councillors, Harry Cuff and Don Tremblett, and the town clerk, Dave Hiscock.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I wish to provide hon. members with an update on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's fiscal position for the 1993-94 fiscal year.

Last year, at this time, we were facing a large mid-year correction in our financial projections, brought on mainly by lower income tax and federal transfer revenues and higher social and employment program expenditures. In order to avoid a $125 million increase in our projected current account deficit for that year, we introduced tax increases and expenditure reduction measures which, together, reduced the projected deficit by approximately $75 million.

This year, I am happy to report that no similar mid-year adjustments will be necessary.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: While our economy, which is suffering from the lingering effects of the national recession and additional fishery closures, is expected to grow by 0.3 per cent instead of the 1.2 per cent projected at Budget time, our overall budgetary performance for the 1993-94 fiscal year remains on track.

The 1993 Budget projected a total budgetary requirement, that is, the total of the current and capital account deficits, for this fiscal year of $223.3 million. While there have been some increases and decreases in individual revenues and expenditures, we expect that the overall budgetary deficit will be on target.

On the revenue side, we expect that retail sales tax and tobacco tax revenues will be lower by $15 million and $10 million each respectively.

Also, our equalization entitlements are now expected to be $11 million below Budget because of weak revenue growth in other provinces. These shortfalls will be largely offset by positive adjustments to certain other revenues, and by an expected $17 million payment from the Government of Canada under the Fiscal Stabilization Program. This claim, which pertains to the 1991-92 fiscal year, is this Province's first under the program, which provides a cushion against year-over-year declines in revenues. Most provinces have made fiscal stabilization claims for 1991-92, or for previous years.

As a result of careful management of expenditures, I can report that half-way through the fiscal year government is basically on target with its overall expenditure budget. Increased requirements for social assistance of $7.9 million (net) and an emergency employment response initiative of $6 million have been offset by savings on the capital account budget of $16.2 million to date.

In order to ensure that our budgetary expenditures are not exceeded, I will be meeting personally with all department and agency heads to impress upon them the need to remain vigilant, and to prudently manage spending for the remainder of the fiscal year. I am hopeful that further savings can be achieved, so that net expenditures come in under budget for the 1993-94 fiscal year.

Treasury Board and Finance officials are currently working on the economic and financial outlook for fiscal 1994-95. When these projections are finalized, I will be meeting with the public sector union leadership to advise them of our financial position going into collective bargaining negotiations.

I am confident that our continued approach to properly managing the Province's finances will allow us to continue to reduce our total budgetary requirement. We believe that this approach will enable us to preserve our credit rating, and will thus ensure our ability to provide the essential public services for our people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, we thank the minister for his statement. I thank him for sending over a copy even though I just got here myself and I just had a few seconds to review it but I do appreciate his courtesy in sending a copy to us. What he has told us, Mr. Speaker, is that what we told him during the Budget Debate has now come to pass, that he was overly optimistic in his projections of revenue at a time when unemployment, we knew, was at a terribly high, incredibly high, unacceptably high rate, at a time when the economy of the Province was so bad that government was still predicting increases in revenues. The Premier may find it funny, but I can tell him, the people of this Province don't find the unemployment rate in this Province or the taxation rate that this government has imposed on them, very funny at all, Mr. Speaker. Neither do we find it very funny that he wants to give away one of the major resources that we have in this Province, Mr. Speaker. We will see how funny he sees that is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: We have now seen, as a result of this government's economic policies, basically zero growth in the economy of this Province this year. I don't know who the Premier is going to blame it on now. He used to blame it on our buddies in Ottawa but I don't hear him lately blaming it on his buddies in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker. We will see a new tune there now.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister tells us that they have lost $36 million, as we told him he would; we said your deficit is going to be close to $100 million and that is in reality. What is happening, he is telling us there are going to be some offsets and he is offsetting it with capital, Mr. Speaker. Offsetting it with capital, that is why we have such a high unemployment rate in this Province. This government is refusing to spend its normal allocation of money on capital expenditures, putting in badly needed water and sewer systems and roads in this Province. The only roads they are building, Mr. Speaker, are roads that are financed under the Roads for Rails Agreement, that this party, when they were in opposition, decried when we made that deal with the Government of Canada, but they are very happy now to get out and announce millions of dollars going into the Trans-Canada Highway and secondary highways. The Minister has just, once again, Mr. Speaker, admitted that he is incompetent to manage the economy of the Province.

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

MR. REID: As the Members of the House of Assembly are probably aware, there is an extremely serious fire in progress in the Town of Ramea.

First of all, let me apologize, Mr. Speaker, to my hon. critic. As he saw, this was just passed to me a few minutes ago; we are trying to keep an ongoing account of what is going on there and this is the latest I have been passed, so I apologize to my colleague on the other side.

I am advised by the Fire Commissioner that the fire started around 10:00 a.m. this morning, and since that time, a large school - the only one on the island, to be exact - has been destroyed, along with two homes, and a number of other buildings and homes in the area are threatened. I understand the winds are high and that they are impeding the fire operations.

MR. SIMMS: Where is this?

MR. REID: Ramea.

The Fire Commissioner in en route and he will be available to provide any assistance that may be required. The latest information I have is that there are about twelve to fourteen homes that are at present being threatened and a number of other buildings, including the Lions Club Community Centre and the Orange Lodge; and to make things even worse in that area, between those two buildings, there is a huge fuel storage tank.

The Fire Commissioner has advised me that he has been in touch with the fire department at Burgeo, and that a truck and eight men have been dispatched by the ferry, Gallipoli, to the scene of the fire. Just before coming to the House, I had been advised that this truck and the men have now arrived. The Fire Commissioner also informs me that the RCMP, representatives of Newfoundland Telephone as well as the Canadian Coast Guard are also en route or on standby and will provide whatever assistance may be available.

Mr. Speaker, we have dispatched a water bomber from Gander leaving approximately a half-an-hour ago, to assist if possible and await directions from the ground crew when landed.

I understand that most of the ponds in the Ramea area are frozen, and unless they can access some water in the area it will not provide any significant assistance.

It's also my understanding that the town has declared, as of 11:00 a.m., a state of emergency. The Emergency Measures Division of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is also on stand-by and will provide whatever assistance is required. We will assist in every possible manner to bring the fire under control. Emergency Measures Division is coordinating communications through the Forestry personnel who are now on site.

Mr. Speaker, I've asked my department to give me up to date briefings all afternoon. So if anyone is interested in what's happening down there on a personal basis - I've spoken already to the member from Ramea. I should have, as the afternoon goes on, further information to relay to anyone in the House. Thank you.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There's not much that can be said about the minister's statement except for the fact that for the sake of all the people in the community as a whole in Ramea we hope there will be no further tragedy. I understand from the minister's statement that there's no loss of life or anything involved so far. Hopefully with the help of other parties that the minister has involved in this, and other departments, especially the Department of Forestry and Agriculture with regards to a water bomber, any further damage and tragedy can be averted in the Town of Ramea.

It also means though that for all municipalities in the Province, that his department be more cognizant of the importance of fire brigades and volunteer fire brigades and what have you in the communities in this Province. Now granted, they may have the best in the Province, but in this case it may not be any good anyway. Apart from that, you can sometimes have all the equipment you want, the best people involved you want, but Mother Nature makes sure that it can't be handled.

The minister is cognizant of what's going on and hopefully with the assistance of other departments any further damage can be averted.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Questions.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, before we get to Oral Questions.


The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: On the matter I spoke to Your Honour about earlier. I'd like to take this occasion to pay tribute to an exceptionally dedicated man who worked, lived and was part of the lifeblood of the Grand Falls - Windsor area for the better part of this century. He happened to have passed away when the House was not in session, so it's really my first opportunity.

The gentleman I refer to is Mr. Jack Cater, who died October 5. He was ninety-four years of age. He was involved in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. He joined it in fact in late 1916. He fought in the First World War and came back then to Grand Falls where he left a lasting legacy over the next seventy-five years at least.

He was a Past President of the Great War Veterans Association from 1921 until 1950, a fairly lengthy term of office, and then that became the Royal Canadian Legion, Mr. Speaker. He was an active member and honourary President of Grand Falls Branch XII of the Royal Canadian Legion, and Mr. Cater was the last surviving First World War veteran of that local branch.

He worked with Abitibi-Price for over half a century, fifty-two years involved with the senior citizen's club, Past Master of Lodge Northcliffe of the Masonic Order, Past Chairman of the school board, and at the funeral service the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which was the same force that Mr. Cater had served with during the war, gave him a twenty-one gun salute.

I would like Your Honour to send a letter of condolences. He is survived by some twelve children, forty-nine grandchildren, and fifty-two great-grandchildren. He deserves some tribute and I pay that to him here today in the House.

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

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, for this side I would like to add our voice and support to the comments made by the hon. Leader of the Opposition. Although I probably did not know Mr. Cater as well as the hon. Leader of the Opposition, I had met him on several occasions. I am aware of his contribution to the community. I am aware, and everyone in Central Newfoundland is aware, of his commitment and his years of services in the Armed Forces and later on his invaluable contribution to the Canadian Legion in Grand Falls and his invaluable contribution to the community itself, Grand Falls - Windsor.

I want to join with the hon. member in endorsing the request that this House would offer its condolences to the family, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, today I want to follow up on some questioning I had yesterday, or made yesterday, in the House for the Premier, but today I want to follow up on some of the answers he gave yesterday in the House, and specifically I want to probe into the mysteries of the five man task force of outside experts that the Minister of Mines and Energy told us about yesterday that was hand-picked some time in June - he was not quite sure when - and then apparently made some kind of report to the government in July or August - again no specific time - recommending that Hydro be privatized.

Now, Mr. Speaker, a task force is a very powerful and very public body, much like a commission, a Royal Commission. This particular task force, however, is cloaked in mystery, surrounded by mystery. When I asked the Premier yesterday to table their report he said he couldn't because, and I quote, their "report was verbal."

Mr. Speaker, that is mighty strange for a task force. There is no public record of their recommendations, no evidence, no rationale on the public record to back up their advice. So I want to ask the Premier today, is there any such record - perhaps a Minute in Council, Order in Council - that approved the appointment and the terms of reference of this so-called task force? If there is, will he table it in the House, and table their terms of reference?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would have to agree with the hon. member if a task force had been appointed. I heard the phrase "task force" for the first time when I heard the hon. member mention it a minute ago. There never was a task force appointed. Let me remind hon. members again what I said in the House. Go back and read my statement of yesterday.

When the report came in from the Hydro Board and their advisors, after discussion with other members of P and P, I asked these five people individually to consider the reports, the advice. I gave them copies of the reports and said: Please look at this. You have a lot of background and knowledge and experience. Please look at these recommendations. And would you agree to give us, on a personal basis, some advice? We are not hiring you, we are not going to pay you. You're not a task force, you don't have to prepare any report. I never suggested "task force" - "task force" is the Leader of the Opposition's phrase for it, or somebody else's, if somebody else used it. It's not mine - I didn't use it.

They were five individuals who were asked to do this. I asked them if they would agree to look at it, then get together and meet with myself and the minister and give us their personal advice on it. They did that. I then asked them to do one more thing: I asked them if, as individuals, they would come back to Cabinet and give their advice to the whole Cabinet. They did that, too. There never was a task force. They were never expected to formalize any report, never requested to, and frankly, never offered.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, this gets more unbelievable as the days go on. It wasn't I who used the term "task force," it was his own Minister of Mines and Energy yesterday. If you read Hansard today, Dr. Gibbons says, on page 1 -


MR. SIMMS: - he says: "It was in June that we appointed a task force of outside experts...." Then he went on in the next paragraph - he didn't just use it once, he used it just down the next paragraph: "I'm not sure of the exact day but it was in June that we appointed a task force...." So it's not the Leader of the Opposition who is using the term "task force," it's his own minister. So they should get their act together and give this House the correct information.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, whatever it was called, I want to ask the Premier this: Did this so-called committee, or group of people that he refers to - I'll wait till the minister gives him some advice, because I want to make sure he hears the question.

MS. VERGE: Getting their act together now.

MR. SIMMS: Getting their act together finally, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Premier: Did this group of people, these individuals, whom the Premier put so much trust and faith in and, in fact, accepted their recommendation to privatize, did they meet with the government's financial advisors, ScotiaMcLeod and RBC Dominion Securities, who prepared a larger and greater study of the Hydro issue? Did they consult with any other experts in the field? Did they meet and consult with the employees of Hydro or Newfoundland Power? Did they, or did they have any plans to, meet and consult with the people of this Province? Can he answer those questions?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, no, no, no, no. They weren't expected to. They were five individuals from whom I sought personal advice. They gave me their personal advice. I then asked them to give it to the total Cabinet. They gave it to the total Cabinet. Now, maybe the members opposite have such a fixation on something, or they are trying to fabricate something, that they cannot see a normal circumstance and they somehow have to try to fabricate this as being abnormal. It is a perfectly normal, logical, simple, straightforward proposition. To the best of my knowledge, but I will have to ask each one of them, not one of them spoke to anybody else - they weren't requested to, they were not being paid to - they were not being paid at all. They were not a task force. They were individuals giving their individual advice. Now, if that is too complex a concept for the members opposite to understand, well I feel sorry for them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, Mr. Speaker, it is not the opposition that is fabricating anything here. I suggest that it is the Premier and the government of this Province that are fabricating something here, that's what is happening.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: And they are getting caught up - every single time they answer a question they are getting caught up in their own web, that's what is happening here, Mr. Speaker. Now it appears we do not have a task force even though the Minister of Mines and Energy told us yesterday that there was a task force. Now we are told there is no task force so it appears we have a task force or a group of people that wasn't even appointed, never met with anybody in particular, never wrote a report and may not even have read the financial reports of the fiscal advisers to the Province, for all we know. That wasn't a task force, it wasn't a group of people, it was a tea party! The Premier invited a group of people over for a cup of tea. Now, that's what happened.

The saddest and most regrettable thing about all of this, Mr. Speaker, is that the Premier yesterday admitted in this House that he acted on the verbal, personal advice of three or four men - the majority, he said, not everybody, three or four men who are involved in that group of people. So I want to ask him if he will tell the people of this Province, tell the House clearly, as clearly as he possibly can, why did he accept the advice of this group of people over the extensive written financial reports and recommendations of the Province's financial advisers, ScotiaMcLeod and RBC Dominion Securities, who, the Premier told us yesterday, did not give him a full recommendation to privatize? He admitted that here in this House yesterday. Isn't it just because he, the Premier, was determined to privatize Hydro? That is what we have going on here - but since the financial advisers did not give him the recommendation that he wanted to get, Mr. Speaker, he had to create the pretence that a task force or a group of experts had somehow done a study of all of this and recommended privatization. Isn't that what is going on here?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. members opposite would like to be able to find something wrong. They are not interested in the benefit of the Province. They are not interested in the benefit of the people of the Province, they are trying to throw a monkey wrench into the government; and they keep struggling but they are fighting and beating their heads against a stone wall because they have no monkey wrench to throw into any spokes of the government.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I heard the hon. the Leader of the Opposition on television yesterday, saying that I reported to the Board of Trade, that, in fact, the Hydro Board and the group of advisers - and I said on the bottom of page 3 of my speech, he said, that I told them that they recommended against it. Well they did not. That is what he said on television. That is what was there on television. That was clearly what he proposed on television, that there had been a contrary recommendation. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the financial advisers and the committee of the board of Hydro clearly indicated to government - they studied all four proposition, they said they didn't recommend one. They recommended against selling or accepting Fortis' proposal but they were quite prepared to establish that the status quo was viable. They said it wasn't essential to privatize. The status quo was viable. Now, it may well be that if I pursued this and said, well, do you think we should privatize? maybe they might have recommended that we do. I can go and ask them again and see if that is what they - but I took a different course, the government took a different course. They said okay - but it is very simple why we took a different course because that was a committee of the board of Hydro and the advisers that they had put in place. And I didn't know if their judgement might be coloured on whether or not Hydro should be privatized, so I went outside and said, here is the information - now, this is exactly what I said in the House yesterday, or what I said to the media, I don't remember where it was - here is the full information that we got from Hydro's board committee and their financial advisers; you take a look at it and, in particular, tell us whether or not you think we should privatize, and if we do privatize, on what basis we should go. They gave us good and sound advice, the government accepted their advice and we are in the process of pursuing it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier can try to explain his way out of it all he wants. The words are clear in his speech and we all know what was said in the speech, Mr. Speaker. I am not going to get into a debate with him over that because it is as clear as a bell and anybody who wants to read it can read it. But I am reminded, as I ask questions and hear the answers, of the old saying, 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,' because I think that's what is happening.

Mr. Speaker, the reality here is that, unfortunately, these five gentlemen have now become the scapegoats the Premier wants to use to provide the political cover he needs to try to privatize Hydro against what was really a recommendation of his financial advisers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier told us yesterday in the House that the five men he invited to advise him at this meeting, or tea party, whatever it was, were all independent, to use his words. I want to ask him, how does he know that when yesterday he couldn't give us the answers to the other questions we asked? He told us yesterday he didn't know if any or all of them were Fortis shareholders and it never occurred to him to ask, yet he acted solely and almost immediately on their individual and personal advice. I want to ask him today, does it matter, even now, to the Premier that the three or four men who gave him the advice that he wanted to privatize Hydro could, in fact, be in a position to benefit directly or indirectly from the sale of Hydro? Is that acceptable to him? Does that even matter to him?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I should, at the outset, comment on the earlier comments the member made before he asked the question, and say I don't question his knowledge of weaving tangled webs for purposes of deception. I expect he is quite knowledgeable in that field. I don't question his knowledge about weaving tangled webs. He has already demonstrated his capability.

Mr. Speaker, those five people were chosen because they are the five most knowledgeable people that I could think of in the Province, the five most knowledgeable people, and I challenge the hon. member to name others more knowledgeable or having better judgement.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cyril Abery.

PREMIER WELLS: I have already dealt with the concern about Mr. Abery. He has a concrete mind-set on this matter. Very simple and straightforward, he has a concrete mind-set and an equally concrete objective, so you don't expect sound judgement from that. I am quite familiar with Mr. Abery's judgement on the matter and I had no reason to have any great level of confidence in it, so I asked for advice from people I knew to be competent and I knew had good judgement, and I can't think of any other person in the Province who could bring better judgement to bear on that issue. I never even thought about ownership of Fortis shares or any such thing. I looked at their background and I expected and I feel I got from them good sound judgement in the best interest of the taxpayers of this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we have heard the expert on concrete mind-sets just speak in the House, talk about everybody else.

Remember now, there was a group of five, a committee of five, a task force of five, or whatever you want to call it. There was a group of five, he says, and he said only the majority of them advised him to privatize Hydro, not all of them, so I assume there were three or maybe four. So, the three or four people we assume said, and I am quoting from Hansard, that the sale "was in the best interests of the people of this Province. They urged us to act in the best interests of the people of this Province." That is what the Premier said yesterday in describing the three or maybe four, the majority, of that group.

Now I want to ask him today: What special right or authority did these five men have to speak for the people of this Province, all 600,000 of us? Why did the Premier consult them and not consult the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, which he should have done?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The hon. member is, as usual, putting the cart before the horse. What we asked those people for, and what they gave us, was their good, sound judgement on whether or not the government should proceed along these lines to develop the possibility of a privatization. We accepted their judgement, and I think their judgement is sound; and they have as much right to express an opinion as to what, in their judgement, is in the best interest of the Province as the hon. member does. They are citizens of the Province. They have as much right as anybody, but it is the fifty-two people who sit in this House who will decide. They have the responsibility to decide, but that comes afterwards. The hon. member is putting the cart before the horse.

MR. SIMMS: You have no mandate.

PREMIER WELLS: The Legislature in Nova Scotia had no mandate to do it either; they have done it. The former government had no mandate to take over Churchill Falls either. They had no mandate to develop Sprung. They had no mandate to take over Churchill Falls, but they did all that.

MR. SIMMS: Will you accept the mistakes of the past and go on from there?


MR. SIMMS: You don't?

PREMIER WELLS: I recognize that this House has a responsibility to manage the public's affairs, and that is precisely what the government is doing, and it is the government's responsibility to lead and develop the proposals and bring them to the House for consideration, and that is precisely what is happening, and it is too bad the hon. members opposite cannot find something really wrong with it. I understand what they want to try and do for their own political motive, and they keep trying and they keep trying, and no doubt they will keep trying but they will not succeed, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow on in the same issue, but a little different line.

I would like to ask the Premier if the negotiations that are taking place, if included in that negotiation might be some retention of partial ownership of the proposed new corporation, whatever it might be? In other words, does government intend to sell out all of the Province's rights, all of the people's rights, to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, or does the Province propose to keep some of it?

The second part of that question, and I might as well ask two parts, if I may, to the Premier: Newfoundland Hydro is three or four times as large as Fortis Inc. Why does the Premier think that this smaller corporation is better able to manage the affairs of the Hydro Corporation than the large Hydro Corporation? Would he tell us that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Those are the two most intelligent questions of the last two days, Mr. Speaker, and I commend the hon. member for it.

As soon as I said that, I have forgotten what the first one was. Oh, I know it; I remember now what it is. The first question was: Does the government propose to retain any portion of it, or would we be selling the whole of it? No, Mr. Speaker, the government's proposition is to sell all of the shares and not retain any portion of it. We are thinking in terms of total privatization and not having a governmental involvement at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: Except Churchill.

PREMIER WELLS: Well the Churchill - CF(L)Co and Lower Churchill would not be included in it at all. That would be set aside; but of the merged operation that would not include Churchill, we would not be retaining any shares on a continuing basis.

The second question that the hon. member asked was why government would think that a smaller corporation like Fortis, which is only about one-third of the size of Hydro, give or take, his proposition was that Hydro was three or four times the size of Fortis. The round numbers that we are looking at, for purposes of general judgement, is 70/30. It may be 69/31; it may be 72/28. Give or take, for purposes of judgement, we are looking in the vicinity of 70 per cent attributable to Hydro and 30 per cent attributable to Fortis, so the hon. member is roughly correct. It is at least 2 1/2 or 2 2/3 times the size of Fortis. Remember, it is not Fortis that will be continuing the operation, it is a merged company that will be genuinely the result of the merger of the Hydro operation with the Newfoundland Power operation, so it is not the much smaller corporation, Fortis, that is going to be continuing on. If, as some people in the Province have been trying to portray it was the sale of Hydro to Fortis, the hon. member would be quite correct, but it is not; this is genuinely a merged corporation. We are not turning over the management of all of the Hydro assets of the Province to the executive management team of Fortis.

MR. WINDSOR: Sure, you are.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, the hon. member can keep saying that if he wants to, but we are not. It is genuinely a merged corporation in terms of personnel, assets, with a totally new corporate structure, totally limited and restrained by the provisions of a privatizing act, assuming that this all goes forward. If it does not go forward on a merged basis, then we will be looking at going forward on a stand alone basis, but the best advice we had, is, going on a merged basis is best, so I emphasize again, it is not the smaller corporation doing it, it is the new, big merged corporation.

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

MR. SIMMS: Giving it away, in other words.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Premier must have looked at the books, the annual reports of Newfoundland Power and Fortis. I am sure he must have looked at how the companies work and as the Premier knows, the easiest business in the world to run is a utility which has its profit margin set by the Public Utilities Board. It is the only case where you start out knowing here is your profit and after your profit you add all of your expenses to find out what your rate is going to be, compared to a normal business where you do business, you take in your expenditures and your revenues, whatever is left over is profit. If you are under you have a loss, but in this case your profit is guaranteed.

You start up in the case of Newfoundland Power with a 13 per cent profit margin and you work backwards from there and, Mr. Speaker, if the Premier looked at the books, the annual reports of Newfoundland Power and Fortis, last year's annual reports which I have here, it gives the performance of both corporations over the past ten years and you will find that Newfoundland Hydro, of course, is a very profitable company since its rates are set by Newfoundland Public Utilities Board. They are fully owned of course, by Fortis, but if you look at each of the years since Fortis has been in existence, which is only the last five years that Fortis has been in existence, each year -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: 1988, they are actually shown here since 1983. If you compare these two reports carefully, you will see that from 1983 to 1987, the profits of Newfoundland Hydro and Fortis are dollar for dollar, in other words, all of the profits to Fortis is what was made by Newfoundland Power. From 1988 to 1992, you will see, in every year without fail that the profit of Newfoundland Power is greater than the profit of Fortis. In other words, Newfoundland Power being a wholly owned subsidiary of Fortis, has contributed more to Fortis than they have made; in other words, Fortis has lost money in each of the last five years, the sum, Mr. Speaker, of $5.3 million over those five years.

Now if you also want to take for the first three quarters, the reports of both corporations for this year, 1993, you will see that Fortis has lost another million dollars in the first nine months of 1993. In other words, $6.5 million Fortis has lost, which is a commercial operating company, it is not protected by having its rates and profits set by the Public Utilities Board. In other words, Fortis has lost $6.5 million of profits made by Newfoundland Power. Would the Premier like to tell us: Does he still think that Fortis is a good company to take over Newfoundland Hydro and how much does he think of Hydro's profits Fortis is going to lose?


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

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I thought I had explained it but obviously it did not sink in so let me explain it again.

I was not aware of the figures that he just -


PREMIER WELLS: I was not aware of the Fortis' figures that he just told me.

MR. WINDSOR: The Premier is not aware that Fortis has lost money every year?

PREMIER WELLS: I was not aware of the figures that he just told me but I accept his statement, he had the statements there. I do not quarrel with his proposition and I conclude from that, that must be their loss on the other operations they've acquired an interest -

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) shopping malls and other foolishness they're into, and they don't know how to operate them.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, well, that may be or may not be. That's got nothing to do with the hydro operations, with their hydro-electric operation. Let me say again. Fortis is not taking over Hydro. Fortis is not taking over Hydro. Hydro is not being sold to Fortis. Please understand this proposition. If you don't understand it, go back and read it and examine it again. But if you're trying to make these statements for the purpose of misleading the people of the Province, then for heaven's sake stop doing it. Fortis is not taking over Hydro. We're talking about merging. The real and the substantial control of it will remain, and will be provided for, under the privatization act that will -

MR. WINDSOR: Nothing to do with the question. Answer the question.

PREMIER WELLS: This is the question.

MR. WINDSOR: No it's not.

PREMIER WELLS: Then I misunderstand his question.

MR. WINDSOR: The point of it is, is the management capable? They're losing money every year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: It's not Fortis management that will be managing the new company! It's a merged operation. Now I know the hon. members opposite don't want that to be the case, because it spoils and destroys the only argument they have. I understand that it cuts the legs right out from under them and it spoils every argument they've tried to put forward, and they don't want it to be the case. But let me say again, the reality is this proposal is for a merger of the two hydro-electric operations. Those other business assets of Fortis would not be part of the overall merged hydro operation. They would be out to the one side. Whether they were kept or sold, or whether they continued to operate or make money or not, wouldn't affect how the public utility and the hydro-electric aspect of it was managed in any respect whatsoever.

The same people who are involved in the management of Hydro now and people who are involved in the management of Newfoundland Power now I would expect would continue to be involved in the management of the new hydro-electric company, subject to such changes as the new board of directors would want to put in place in order to ensure that we had first-quality management, and that's what I would expect we would have.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, yes, we know who the board of directors will put in place. We can be sure Angus Bruneau will still be there and still will be managing Fortis, which is shown to be a failure. Anybody can run Newfoundland Power and make money when the profits are fixed by the Public Utilities Board. But when you have to compete out there in the real world, that's when things start to get tough, when you don't have a monopoly and you're not protected.

Mr. Speaker, will the Premier tell us that whatever money is paid to the Newfoundland government by Fortis, obviously has to be raised. It's equity that has to be invested, even if they simply replaced the equity that the Province has in it. We know that Fortis, for example, in their present share have 43 per cent equity in their company, whereas in Hydro we have less than 20 per cent equity. Fortis will have to have approximately that share of equity to debt ratio in order to be successful and be competitive in the bond market, therefore they're going to have to put in another $300 or $400 million on top of it. That's $700 or $800 million in total that will have to be invested by Fortis into the new corporation, which is taxable, and which will give them returns of approximately 13 per cent, the average over the last number of years. They have been awarded a 13 per cent return on their investment, down this year to 12.4 per cent. But it's been 13, 13.9, even as high as 15 per cent seven or eight years ago, versus the 5 or 6 per cent that's awarded by the Public Utilities Board to Hydro. Don't forget, in order to earn 13 per cent that corporation has to pay corporate taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the member has a question, question period has expired. The member hasn't yet asked one. I'll give leniency in this case, but if there's a question I'd like it to be asked.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm just about to the question. The point is this, if the corporation has to pay income tax, therefore in order to return 13 per cent they have to earn 25 per cent. That will be reflected in the rates. You're talking about $150 million a year profit that will flow to shareholders primarily in Ontario. Where is that $150 million coming from if it's not going to come from rate increases?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There are two or three things that need to be addressed.

Fortis is not going to pay the Newfoundland Government a dollar - not going to pay the Newfoundland Government anything.

Let me emphasize again: This is a merger; and of the corporate structure that will remain, the existing Fortis shareholders will have roughly 30 per cent of the shares and the Newfoundland Government will have roughly 70 per cent of the shares.

The Newfoundland Government proposes to sell its entire 70 per cent of the shares to whoever will buy them, provided no one person or group of persons or corporations can own more than 15 per cent of the shares.

MR. WINDSOR: Do you know who owns Fortis now?

PREMIER WELLS: No, widely held.

MR. WINDSOR: Do you know who the largest shareholder is?

PREMIER WELLS: The largest shareholder, I believe, is the Ontario Municipal Employees Pension Fund.

MR. WINDSOR: They own 16 per cent.

PREMIER WELLS: Okay. Well, they will have to drop to 15 per cent if the merger takes place, because the proposal is that nobody could hold more than 15 per cent; or if they happen to hold more than 15 per cent they couldn't vote more than 15 per cent, which is the same effect.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, the 15 per cent - it may be 15 per cent, but of the bigger company they would be within the limit. They would be down to 5 per cent or 6 per cent.

MR. TOBIN: That is not the (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: The hon. member asked, I am answering it. The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West can ask his own question when he wants to, but he can't answer the ones that I am asked.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just want to correct that again. The situation is that Fortis will not be paying the Newfoundland Government anything.

Now, it is true that this kind of privatization will result in a greater level of equity and a lower level of debt, and that has certain other financial consequences, one of which is income tax. So the new merged company would, like the existing Fortis or Newfoundland Light and Power, have to pay income tax, but the taxes paid from the new merged company would, like the taxes presently paid by Newfoundland Light and Power or Fortis, come back, or largely they would come back, to the Government of Newfoundland under the Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act, under PUITTA, so it would be returned.

Now the government has to make a decision as to how it handles that. Do we take that in as tax revenue, or do we let what is there now - do we sort of maintain the status quo, keep the same level of tax revenue as we have now? Do we not let the privatization alter the tax revenue at all? And if we can, we can do as Nova Scotia did. They provided for a rebate to the utility company of the entire increase they got from taxation because of the operation of PUITTA, and by doing that they kept the rates down.

Now, these are one of the factors that government has to take into account in its decision of privatization, and when we have a formal proposal to bring forward to the House, we will do so, and at that time, everybody will understand where it stands.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At this time, I would like to present the report of the Social Legislation Review Committee on Bill 1, "An Act Respecting A Smoke-Free Environment In The Workplace And In Public Places In The Province", and also Bill 7, "An Act Respecting The Control Of The Sale Of Tobacco To Minors."

MR. SPEAKER: Further reports, the hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to section 55, paragraph 3, of the Financial Administration Act, I wish to table the following guaranteed loan pay-out by the Province since my last report to the House.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House, the Leader of the Opposition asked this question: Now I want to ask the Premier if he can tell us how much these financial advisers - that is, I assume, ScotiaMcLeod and RBC Dominion Securities - how much these financial advisers will make if there is a successful merger and the public sale of the shares following the merger? Then he asked me to confirm, `the figure we are hearing, that the financial advisers stand to make somewhere in the neighbourhood of $35 million to $40 million.' No, Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, his information along those lines are incorrect. But let me explain - I can't tell him because nobody knows at this moment precisely how much it is, but let me explain the basis on which it would be determined, the sort of general approach, a formula, because I can't give precise numbers but let me tell you I can give an estimate of what the formula might produce.

AN HON. MEMBER: For a transaction with the government?

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, but I want members to understand that it is not a precise number. For example, those two advisers would be paid a fixed monthly fee for the service they are providing because this is a massive piece of work. We need their expertise and they are providing that. They are being paid a fixed monthly fee and if the transaction doesn't go ahead then, of course, that is the end of it. They get paid their fixed monthly fee for their services and no more. If the transaction goes ahead, they would get a fee for a successful base that would reflect the level of success they would achieve in getting a return for the government. So the higher the level of return they could get for the government, the sort of greater the level of fee they would get. The lower the level of return they would get for the government, the lower the level of fee that they would get and any amount that they were paid on a monthly basis would come off the fee totally. So it would be eliminated. There wouldn't be a duplication. It is not the basic fee plus this incentive.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Oh yes, there could be, but I just -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I am just saying what is proposed at this stage is this - what has been proposed is that fixed monthly fee and that they would have an incentive to achieve a higher return for the Province. We would expect that it would be somewhere in the vicinity of $2.5 million, that would be the cost. If they were extremely successful it could be $2.7 million or $2.8 million. If they weren't so successful it might be $2.4 million, but roughly, give or take, about $2.5 million. Now, that is the fee that they could expect to get. But, I have to emphasize, that is what they would get as fees from Hydro for providing these services. What the hon. member asked - because I want to make this quite clear - is how much the financial advisers can expect to make? Now, I have told you that basis. In addition to doing that kind of work, they may well be - they may or may not be but it is probable that they would be involved with a consortium of financial institutions throughout the country.

In the case of Nova Scotia Power there were fifteen or twenty different financial institutions that were the syndicate that bought up and sold into the investment community. In other words, the Government of Nova Scotia was assured of its return. The Government of Nova Scotia could have taken its shares and just put them on the ordinary market and sold them themselves, in which case, they would pay the ordinary market fees of 2 per cent or 2.5 per cent, whatever the normal fee is.

MR. SIMMS: Nova Scotia (inaudible) it was going to merge.

PREMIER WELLS: Nova Scotia did their merger twenty years earlier when they nationalized, so they had merged a different way twenty years earlier. It was the same kind of thing, just a matter of selling shares into the market. Now, when you sell shares into the market you can create the shares, have them listed, and let the normal market forces do a buy and take, or you can find a group of investment dealers who are prepared to guarantee you that they will be sold by guaranteeing you the money for them. Now, that is what Nova Scotia did, and with sales of this magnitude, that would be the normal thing to do and I expect we would propose that the same thing be done here.

The level of return varies, depending upon the kind of sale that takes place. If it is an instalment sale to residents within the Province, as some of them were in Nova Scotia - I think I indicated yesterday that the Nova Scotia proposal provided for residents of Nova Scotia to be able to buy shares without having to put the cash up front and they could pay for it on twelve equal instalments over the next twelve months, and in the meantime they got the benefit of getting the dividends so, in effect, there was a sort of discount for Nova Scotia residents buying the shares. There is a strong recommendation that the same should be done here and that is an incentive for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to invest in the shares of the merged corporation.

Now, there is apparently one level of commission if the brokers sell on that basis and there is another level of commission if the brokers sell on the more conventional basis of selling to the general investment community. They tell me that it worked out in Nova Scotia at roughly 4.5 per cent. Now, even knowing the 4.5 per cent I cannot tell you how much that might amount to.

AN HON. MEMBER: At $750 million it doesn't take long to figure out.

PREMIER WELLS: That is if $750 million is the number, but you do not know that is the number. It might be $500 million, $650 million, $700 million, or it might be $750 million. The hon. member sits in the chair and throws out that number as though he is completely confident and he know what he is talking about, but I can tell you he probably doesn't. The number is probably wrong. I can tell you that is probably a wrong number. Nobody knows precisely what the dollar will be because you do not know what the total share value will be. That will depend on how much of a premium to book value we are able to get for the shares, and the kind of market at the time at which it goes to market. There are a whole lot of factors.

MR. SIMMS: Remember my question now, how much -

PREMIER WELLS: How much these financial advisers will make if there is a successful merger and public sale of shares follow? I have told hon. members what the fee would be for those financial advisers. Now, remember, all of that additional, they may or may not be involved. It is probable that they would be but there would be fifteen or twenty others involved, too, so it is not those financial advisers, it is the financial investment community generally.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I committed yesterday to give a date as to when that committee of special people was put in place. I think I inadvertently called it the task force for some reason yesterday but it is five individuals.


DR. GIBBONS: Yes, I know I repeated that phrase twice, but in the spring, I called it a committee.

MR. SIMMS: In October you called it a task force.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. GIBBONS: In October I called it a committee. On October 8th, I called it a committee and I call it a committee now - but it is five individuals and the date was June 4.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to present a petition on behalf of the parishioners of St. Agnes '& St. Michael's Parish in Pouch Cove and Flatrock. The prayer of the petition is: We, the undersigned, are committed to the highest quality education for the children of our Province. We support Roman Catholic schools and want to keep them. In the same way, we support the rights of others to have the schools they desire. We also support co-operation between the churches and education, especially shared service schools where they are needed. We do not want our rights and the rights of other people in our Province taken away, and we ask you, as our representative, not to tamper with the rights we now have under the Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, I signed the petition, supporting it. Newfoundland and Labrador had a denominational system long before Confederation and it was confirmed in the Terms of Union with Canada in 1949. I agree that we should have co-operation between churches when it comes to education. I agree with shared services where it is demonstrated that shared services are needed, where shared services are wanted and where shared services are feasible and make sense.

If the education system is to be changed or has to be changed for an improved system, benefits have to be first to the students. Our first consideration has to be to the calibre of education that our students receive. The churches must have a say in a major way with respect to any changes in our educational system. They have to be listened to, and they have that right under the Terms of Union of Confederation in 1949. Mr. Speaker, I also believe that the parents should be consulted before any changes are made with our education system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to reflect on the petition. I am very pleased with the fact that the parents of the two parishes have written that they are committed to the highest quality education for the children of our Province, and certainly, the Royal Commission Report is entitled: Our Children - Our Future.

Mr. Speaker, in the past months, I have been talking to many parents, to many of the stakeholders in education in this Province, and every single person I have talked to, is committed to the highest quality of education for their children. The position of our party is that we would not want to see the constitutional rights of any group changed, and we therefore support all of the efforts that can be made to promote efficiency.

We believe that structural efficiency can be achieved. However, I do believe that the primary focus of the structural changes has to be moved to the child, and in that regard I want to say, as I said publicly in the last little while, that parents, elected school board officials, Home and School Associations, parishes, teachers, all of the stakeholders, Mr. Speaker, involved in the educational system, should be active participants. We have to stop the secrecy that is evident in the current discussions; we have to stop meeting behind closed doors; we have to keep in touch with the people of this Province, and I call upon the government to begin immediately an open dialogue with all the people so that we can have all of the participants share their views, and through that, we will achieve, I do believe, the best quality education for our children. We will return the focus to the child; we will promote structural efficiency that will benefit all of us and we will have the plan put in place that will make the road for the future in education in this Province a lot more beneficial than it has been in the past, and I see new possibilities that might be opened up for the dialogue.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to compliment the people of St. Michael's Parish who signed this petition. I would like to compliment them for the way in which the petition begins, where, it talks about making sure that the best possible education that we can deliver is made available to the children of this Province. As government and church sit down and discuss this, and as the Opposition tries to make political points on it, it is so easy to forget the most important person in this Province when it comes to educational reforms.

Mr. Speaker, we are about to see some major educational reforms, thanks to the efforts which this government has put into it over the years - education which will benefit the children. I am going to give a message to the hon. member to take back to the people of St. Michael's Parish. He can go back to the people and tell them that this Administration is also committed to protecting core denominational interests. From time to time, we all get letters. There is a lot of concern on the part of our people. People are afraid of a Godless, secular system of education. I, personally, am afraid of a Godless, secular system. This Administration does not want a Godless, secular education. All we want is the best education we can have for our children.

So the hon. member can tell the people of St. Micheal's Parish that whatever we finish up with at the end of the day, the people of St. Michael's Parish will have a right, as they have now, for example, for their children to have pre-communion classes. That is a right which is cherished by many Roman Catholic people in this Province, Mr. Speaker. Government will see that at the end of the day they will maintain that right. We will go further. If perchance a Roman Catholic student is attending a Protestant school, in that Protestant school, provision will be made for the Roman Catholics to have their pre-communion classes. That is the kind of system we are going to bring forth.

One of the rights that the churches have is the right of the clergymen for any faith to go into the school and make available to the children teaching according to their beliefs. Whatever the reforms will bring forward, that right will be maintained. I ask the hon. member to go back to the people of St. Michael's Parish and tell them that he found a willing ear, he found good listeners in this government, because we are going to maintain core denominational interests. Take that back to them. We are glad to send that message back to the people.

Above all, it will be a child-centred educational system. If something that this government is doing interferes with the right of a child in this Province to receive the best possible education, then the government will very quickly step out of the way. We will not stand in the way of providing a good education to our children.

Having said all that, I can also tell the people of St. Michael's parish, the people of this Province, that this government is bent on making major educational reforms so that the dollar we spend will provide the best possible education to our children - so that we can proudly say at the end of the day that here in Newfoundland and Labrador we have the best educational system in all of Canada, and possibly, in all the world. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thought the Premier might be in the House, and since I was the first to speak, I thought it might give me an advantage, in starting off on a Throne Speech rather than finishing in the afternoon and having to cut oneself short on time. Anyway, he is not here, so I will carry on where I left off yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't mean to interrupt the hon. member. I thought the hon. member was presenting a petition. We didn't yet call Orders of the Day. We are still on petitions. The previous petition had just finished. So I ask the hon. member to resume his place and I will ask the Government House Leader to call the Orders of the Day.

MR. FITZGERALD: I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: No, it's fine.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I heard you call Petitions and I assumed the hon. gentleman was presenting one. May I ask if the House could deal first with the first readings, Sir, which are motions 1 through 24. I am in Your Honour's hands whether it is necessary to call each one individually or whether we can do them some other way.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce the following bills, carried:

"An Act Respecting The Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal" (Bill No. 42);

"An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act" (Bill No. 46);

"An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act" (Bill No. 39);

"An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act" (Bill No. 25); and

"An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act" (Bill No. 26).

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce the following bills, carried:

"An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act" (Bill No. 34);

"An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act" (Bill No. 33); and

"An Act To Amend The Fire Prevention Act, 1991" (Bill No. 32)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Health to introduce the following bills, carried:

"An Act To Amend The Chiropractors Act" (Bill No. 41);

"An Act To Amend Nursing Assistants Act" (Bill No. 44); and

"An Act To Repeal The Alcohol And Drug Dependency Commission Act" (Bill No. 45)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Education to introduce a bill, "An Act To Repeal The Youth Advisory Council Act," carried. (Bill No. 38)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to introduce the following bills, carried:

"An Act To Revise The Law In The Province Respecting Rail Service" (Bill No. 36);

"An Act To Repeal Certain Obsolete And Spent Statutes" (Bill No. 40); and

"An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act" (Bill No. 37)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act," carried. (Bill No. 49)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Forestry Act," carried. (Bill No. 27)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Social Services to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Department Of Social Services Act," carried. (Bill No. 35)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce the following bills, carried:

"An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law" (Bill No. 50);

"An Act To Amend The Judgement Interest Act" (Bill No. 43);

"An Act To Amend The Statutes Act" (Bill No. 31);

"An Act To Amend The Residential Tenancies Act" (Bill No. 30);

"An Act To Repeal The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act" (Bill No. 29); and

"An Act To Amend The Judicature Act" (Bill No. 28)

On motion, Bill Nos. 42, 46, 39, 25, 26, 34, 33, 32, 41, 44, 45, 38, 36, 40, 37, 49, 27, 35, 50, 43, 31, 30, 29, and 28 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow:

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

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, if you would be good enough to call the Address in Reply we could let the hon. gentleman from Bonavista South resume his speech.

MR. SPEAKER: The Address in Reply; the hon. Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Being a rookie, I guess I will learn one of these days what the Orders of the House are and when it is right and proper for me to get up or stay sat down.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you very much. You will learn as well, probably.

Mr. Speaker, the incident that I was referring to yesterday was the employee, the watchman of historic sites, employed at the two historic centres in Bonavista, the Mockbeggar property and the Bonavista Lighthouse.

I called over to the Department of Tourism and Culture and asked for the gentleman's job description. The job description was provided to me, and it is pretty well a job description that you would see for any watchman who would be employed at any historic site, but the person's duties, I might advise the House, are completely different from what the job description dictates.

It seems like this one individual - and it is not a personal attack. I can assure you that I am delivering this to the House because of the concerns that have been delivered to me by telephone calls by numerous individuals from the community. It seems like this individual can take days off at his own prerogative. Whenever he decides he wants a day off, whenever he decides he wants to go to work, then he can set his own schedule.

His activities include going out and publicly advertising for people to come to certain points in the town to pick up applications to apply for jobs, the latest of which was done during the last provincial election, I might add, from the Liberal headquarters.

This individual meets tour buses when they come into the town. He meets the tour buses, joins in with the tour, and directs them to the historic sites. There is nothing wrong with that - nothing wrong with that whatsoever - but he takes it one step further.

I am led to believe that prior to this year there were two restaurants in Bonavista that were capable of catering to a tour bus crowd to come and visit the area, capable of supplying meals in one particular area. Mr. Speaker, the owner of one particular restaurant had a few words with the watchman, or as he calls himself, `the tour guide supervisor', and this past year there were forty-three bus tours that visited the Town of Bonavista, and that one restaurant owner did not receive one bus tour.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I have no idea what his political affiliations are. He did not campaign for me; I can assure you of that, but he - the restaurant owner - should not be denied the right of having a viable business by somebody who is employed by government, Mr. Speaker. To award this individual for his efforts in the town in this time of fiscal restraint, in this time of government cutbacks, the gentleman has now been awarded with a company vehicle, a government vehicle at taxpayer's expense, used on weekends, Mr. Speaker, used for his own private tours around town. It is shameful, shameful. How many watchmen do you know, I ask the Member for Grand Bank, who can go out and do all those things and has his own vehicle to drive around?

AN HON. MEMBER: You used to know a great many.

MR. FITZGERALD: I do not know of any, so I call on the minister to do an investigation into those complaints and ask that he do it now and report back to the House, because it is shameful that those conditions are allowed to exist today. It is political patronage and I think it is time it stopped.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like at this time to say a few words in the Throne Speech debate and talk a bit about the District of Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. It is a district, as everybody is aware, situated on the South Coast of the Province. In every distribution of seats the District of Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir seems to change for some reason or other. The last time was in 1973 when it went from Burgeo - LaPoile to the District of Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir. As I understand right now with the Boundaries Commission we have just appointed the district will once again disappear as a district and be changed around. There are going to be some changes in it. I do not intend to talk about that too much today. I will be making a presentation to the Boundaries Commission concerning this, but the District of Burgeo Bay d'Espoir as now constituted is rather an interesting district. You go from the extreme east where we have the only native community on the Island part of the Province, recognized native community, Conne River, and that in itself makes the district a little different than a normal Newfoundland Island district. Then we have the areas from Morrisville to St. Albans where their concerns are not normal in Newfoundland. There is no fishing involved, no great reliance on the fishery in this area, and then, of course, we have the coastal communities that still have very serious transportation problems, which you know about.

On the extreme west we have the communities of Burgeo and Ramea and I suppose I should start off and talk about Ramea, an island, nine miles off the coast of Newfoundland. There are records of it in British history as being there for over 500 years and being involved in the fishery. Now, this community today is involved in a tragedy, not through any loss of life, but their school has been totally destroyed. There is at least one house that is destroyed and there are five or six more at the present time that are evacuated. Now, this points out something very important. I have been in this House since 1985 and the thing I tried to point out to government, since 1985, is the fact that communities like Ramea have to be pretty well self-sustaining because if there is a fire, as we are finding out today, it is not the same as a fire in the community of Conception Bay South, because if there is a fire in the community of Conception Bay South that gets out of control there is all kinds of equipment within fifteen to twenty minutes away that you can get for backup, but in a community like Ramea there is no backup, so it is very important, I say to this House, that when the Department of Municipal Affairs are looking at requests for funding to improve the infrastructure in rural areas that it be biased in favour of places like Ramea.

I can remember back in '86 when the previous government started a programme of putting in compressors in the various fire departments around the Province, and I pointed out the fact that Ramea had a unique situation, they did not have any backup and the only place they could go to recharge their tanks in those days was Corner Brook, and Corner Brook at that time, was a long ways away because the road was not paved and there were times when there was just no way of getting there. But yet that government in its wisdom decided to put compressors in Springdale, where the most they were would have been an hour's drive from Grand Falls, where they could have had their tanks recharged, but the most interesting one was, they needed it in one of the towns in the Bay of Islands, which was represented by Mr. Blanchard at the time; they needed the compressor and that was ten minutes or fifteen minutes from Corner Brook and yet Ramea was left out, so because of my continued harassment of the then government, in 1988 they did put a compressor in Ramea.

Ramea now is trying to get a new fire truck and I would imagine that this need will be looked at because the fire truck certainly needs to be replaced. But again, in all areas of rural Newfoundland, and I say this to the government, they should look very seriously at the needs of the areas in the more distant places and the places that do not have the support that we have when we are on the main line.

Now I understand from the minister that this is the current update, the fire is now under control and only the school and one house were destroyed. There is smoke and water damage to seven or eight houses and there were five or six that were evacuated, so all in all, right now, we are happy to say that this crisis is now under control in Ramea. The unfortunate part about it is, the house that was destroyed and the person who owns that house did not have any insurance and I am trying to get the details on it right now but there is no insurance as I understand at this particular time.

Now as I say, that was one crisis that was averted in Ramea today, but the serious thing in Ramea is the fact that we have records in history going back 500 years to show that it was related to the fishery. John Penney and Sons operated a fish plant there for over 100 years and yet the previous federal government, when they announced a Northern Cod Package, even though it was demonstrated by the Province, by Fishery Products International and the fishermen's union, that the plant in Ramea did have the qualifications to be included under the Northern Cod Package, but for some reason the then Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. Crosbie, decided that, no, Ramea did not qualify by virtue of the fact that the fish that was taken from Ramea to keep the plant in Trepassey and the plant in Grand Bank and Fortune open, the fish was taken and Ramea did not get the credit in the last year, so they used statistics to deny the people in Ramea the right to be recognized under the Northern Cod Programme.

Currently, the situation in Ramea is that last year FPI made a presentation to Mr. Crosbie and they said that if the federal and provincial governments decided to pick up the loss FPI would incur by operating Ramea last winter, then FPI would operate the plant in Ramea and process, frozen at sea, fish. A magnanimous offer, but I would also say that any other fish company in Newfoundland would have operated the plant in Ramea if someone else was going to pick up the loss, so all that this did, as far as I am concerned, was get a gentleman by the name of John Crosbie off the hook, because there was enough pressure on him at that time and he should have put the Ramea plant under the Northern Cod Programme.

Right now in Ramea we are left with a programme that was introduced in the dying days of the previous government, they closed everything on the South Coast and the Ramea plant is now trying to figure out where it goes. What I am saying to you is that all that is, is a bundle of confusion for everybody involved in the South Coast fishery because nobody knows for sure what is going to work and how this programme is going to be put in place. I understand that there is an AIS Committee now set up to study the situation in Ramea but I say to this House right here that the disaster today is a disaster but it is one that we can look at and we can see what is going to happen in the future. Unfortunately, I feel that the Ramea people were done an injustice by the previous government by not being included in the Northern Cod Package. I am now asking the current federal government if there is going to be a programme extended from the Northern Cod Package see that Ramea be included in the new programme and treated the same as everybody else.

Nine miles across from Ramea we have the community of Burgeo which - due to again, the juggling of the figures - was included in the Northern Cod Package and that is very good. The only thing is, by putting the Northern Cod Package in place at Burgeo all it did was get a fellow by the name of John Crosbie off the hook because he had given away the plant in Burgeo to Bill Barry and his friends in Nova Scotia. The Burgeo plant was in actual fact sacrificed so that the plant in Canso could be opened. At the time when this deal was made the fishermen's union and the provincial government were united against this and said that it was not a good deal. It has since been proven to be a terrible deal and the ones who are suffering, are again, the people in Burgeo. Now they are on the Northern Cod Package, they are there, the immediate suffering was cut down but they are on the package and will have to pay the price like everybody else. The unfortunate part about it is, since that time Mr. Barry has broken every one of the rules in the agreement but all Mr. Crosbie did was slap him on the wrist and say: it is too bad that you did it but we are not going to do anything with you. We will just say that you did the wrong thing. I have since written the new minister and asked him to review the whole deal. To look at it with the idea of overturning the whole deal and going back to square one with that deal as far as the Burgeo plant is concerned.

I was just informed this morning by the Burgeo Town Council that Mr. Barry has now made application to get contractors to take the fuel out of the Burgeo trawlers there and he then intends to scuttle them. So this is some of the stuff that is going on in Burgeo. I do not think that Mr. Barry ever has any intention of opening the Burgeo plant again. So, the problem we have is that those two communities have down through the years, in history, been dependent on the fishery and right now are abandoned due to the fact that the owners have backed off and said we are not going to open the plant.

In the case of the Burgeo plant, it was a deal that was engineered by the federal government. It is one which I think governments have to look at, to have a serious concern about and to realize that they were involved in the making of this deal. If Burgeo was handled the same as any other plant - with the downgrading, the northern cod and the shortage - at least it would be on an equal footing to start up again. What has happened because of the decision that was made by the federal government, to barter Burgeo away for Canso, there is no provision right now and Burgeo is in a desperate situation. So I am asking the new government to look at both Burgeo and Ramea as special cases and as communities that have been, since the history of Newfoundland, involved in the fishery. The only reason that we are there is because of the fishery - because I can assure you if you have not been to Burgeo or Ramea go down and have a look. When you have a look you will realize that their ancestors and our ancestors that settled there, did not settle to go farming. It was a fishing community and that is completely what it was. There was no other reason for the communities of Burgeo and Ramea to exist.

Now when we go into the coastal part of that district, as I like to call it, Grey River, François and McCallum -, those communities were basically there because of the inshore fishery. Where fellows could fish in a twenty-foot boat and fish by themselves and go out and catch fish all year long. Right off the coast. They didn't have to go a mile or two outside of the harbour. They made a living all their lives.

In the ten years since I've been the member down there those fishermen have been saying to me: Look, there's a problem. We're not catching as much fish as we were last year. We're using more gear, we're using more effort, and we're not getting any fish. This has gone on for ten years. Every year I've stood here in the House of Assembly. I've talked about the shortage of fish, I've talked about the problems of the inshore fishermen on the South Coast, and nobody has listened.

Last year, or two years ago, when the Northern Cod Package was announced for the people on the Northeast Coast of this Province, I pointed out to the federal government: Look, this is a political move. Those people who are fishing on the Northeast Coast, they are there, but there's 15,000 of them compared to the 2,000 who are on the South Coast. The South Coast of this Province is in as big a disaster area and there's just as much a shortage of fish on the South Coast as there is on the Northeast Coast. The only difference was that the normal Northeast Coast fishery that most of us know about was the Northeast Coast fishery that went on, at the most, maybe three to four months. That was the extent of the Northeast Coast fishery. Where the fishery on the South Coast was a twelve-month fishery. It was never recognized to be the only source of income on that coast.

The Northeast Coast fishery was one where people had traps out there. They did their trap fishery. Back thirty years ago they dried the fish and sold them, and then they went on to do something else for the other eight months of the year. The South Coast, they had nowhere else to go. They didn't have any farms. They didn't have anything else. They had fished ten to twelve months of the year.

These people have been saying that for the ten years that I have represented them. They were left out of the Northern Cod Package. Yet again this year, when the federal government announced the programme in September, closing down the fishery on the South Coast, recognizing that there was a problem there, again it was one that did nothing at all for the inshore fishermen along the South Coast. As I said before, it was a bundle of confusion and frustration for the people who were there.

Just imagine. If you're a fisherman in François and you had your ten stamps when the fishery was closed, you could get $300 a week up until your unemployment kicked in in November. However, if you only had seven stamps, and you needed three more stamps, you had to wait until November - no income coming in - till the government put together a make-work package so you could go out and get three stamps to get your unemployment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: That's the problem. That this programme was again mishandled and ill thought out by a federal government that controls the fishery. Again it makes a point for the joint management of the fishery as the Premier is saying. It's another reason why we should have some say in the fishery in Newfoundland instead of having some bureaucrat in Ottawa making a decision that's going to affect the lives of those hard-working fishermen along the South Coast of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: That's right. In the District of Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir there's that distinction right now. They're there. There's these many communities that are totally dependent on the fishery. Then we go into a part of the District where there's nothing relating one side of the District to the other. It's farther for me to go from Milltown to Burgeo than it is to drive between Toronto and Montreal. It's over 650 kilometres to service both sides of that district. When I said when I started off that the boundary was going to be assessed again I'm saying yes, possibly it has to be. I agree.

Because once we go into the other side of that District we have nothing at all in common with the coastal part of it - McCallum, François, Grey River, Burgeo, Ramea. We're now into the St. Alban's, Morrisville area of that District that traditionally depended on sawmills and lumbering. I've talked to people down there. Leonard Long is a gentleman who is about eighty-five years old. They tell me he used to have a coaster. For years he made his living taking loads of lumber and spars and stuff like that out of the Bay d'Espoir area and taking it to Grand Bank and St. Pierre and Placentia Bay. Thats where they built the bankers and the boats with lumber and materials from Bay d'Espoir.

He also told me that prior to Confederation he used to take boat loads of produce out of there in the fall of the year, potatoes, turnips and cabbage, the stuff we used to grow in Newfoundland and sell it on the coast. But he also told me that ten years after Confederation he was bringing it in from PEI, so you know there is potential there that I think we are missing in some areas, when you take into consideration that this was an area where there was an agricultural industry prior to Confederation and it has disappeared. Our saw mills have disappeared and gone the way of the grey goose.

The federal government did have a good program a few years ago, the Forest Economic Stimulus Program and that disappeared when the previous government came in in '84. We had a new agreement, it was signed, the Leader of the Opposition went up in 1984 I think - I was here in the House in '85 - and he came back and said he had a lovely time and he had a cup of tea with Mr. Merrithew and they had a good agreement.

Now some of us who were here at that time did not think it was a good agreement, I did not think it was, however, this agreement is about over and I am sure that we will be negotiating another forestry agreement which will possibly do something to keep the forestry industry going in Bay d'Espoir, because it is one of the things that has to operate in Bay d'Espoir to fit in to the economic scheme of things. We cannot forget the forestry, it is there.

Now, one of the interesting things, last week, with all this talk about Hydro and the privatization of Hydro, the only place in Newfoundland that I suppose is solely dependent on Hydro would be Bay d'Espoir. It is one of the major things. As the saw mills and the export wood went down, the thing that went in in the 60s was Hydro. The Liberal government built it with the expectation that there would be need; they were criticized at the time they built it and now we realize how important that decision was.

I was in Bay d'Espoir last week and I expected when I went down because I had heard - you know I had the meetings here and I knew what was intended - well I had heard the media, I had heard the hype, I had heard the Opposition and I was expecting that they would have been waiting to lynch me when I went to Bay d'Espoir last week. I was expecting they were going to be there with the ropes and that I was going to be in trouble, so I had the Premier's speech and I went down and went to the meetings - I had arranged meetings with all the town councils there and one of them had started to pass a motion saying they were against the privatization of Hydro.

It had not been passed but when I had the meeting with them and I gave them the Premier's speech and said: now, look at this, I respect where you are coming from - and the main concern that I found in Bay d'Espoir last week, a place that is dependent on Hydro, the ones who were most concerned were the employees, who did not know what was going to happen - were they going to lose their jobs? Now this is something that I can understand, anyone in this House can understand that if you are in a position where there is going to be something happening and you are possibly going to lose your job, you are going to be concerned. Everybody is going to be concerned and as I pointed out to the Mayor of Milltown, who is an employee of Hydro and certainly would have serious concerns, I said: look, I agree with you. If I were in a situation where my job was contingent on the privatization of this thing, I would be concerned. But after they looked at what the Premier said, they said they were certainly going to study it and would be taking into consideration that this was a situation that maybe was not all bad. This was something they had to look at.

I then went to St. Albans and had a meeting with the town council in St. Albans and the Mayor of St. Albans tells me I can quote him on this - he is a temporary employee with Hydro and he said: you know, I think that Hydro could be managed a lot better than it has been. He said: when I was working with Hydro, if I were on the West Coast and was coming back in the evenings, and if I got to the Burnt Berry Motel at five o'clock, I was told to stop, because they did not want to pay overtime for the next four hours if I had to drive home, but stop, and stay overnight at Burnt Berry, which meant that they paid for my meal, they paid for my room overnight, my breakfast the next day and instead of my being back to go to work the next morning at eight o'clock, I was not back until one o'clock. That was the attitude that Hydro had and I think there is a better way of managing it. He said: I really feel that there is a problem.

I've also, if you want to go back to the record, I told a story like that once here when I was in Opposition during the Committee stages about the two truck drivers down in Bay d'Espoir who were telling a story about having to stay overnight. So this not an uncommon thing, but it's a thing that - here's a former employee who can make statements like that. Generally what I found in Bay d'Espoir was the majority of people who I talked to in Bay d'Espoir felt that there was a much better way to manage Hydro than the way that it's done right now.

When I hear Mr. Abery say that he's for keeping Hydro as it is, I suppose he is. I can remember five years fighting this battle here in the House of Assembly about moving the control centre from Bay d'Espoir to St. John's. I had Mr. Abery admit here in this House one time in a committee meeting that: yes, you could operate the control centre from Halifax or even from the moon. But it was used, that was the reason that was used, to build that building here in St. John's.

Now I tell you, if anyone wants to see an example of waste in Newfoundland, just come and drive out over Columbus Drive. The most expensive building in Newfoundland, the most expensive office building in the world, is right there on Columbus Drive, right there, and it's put there on the backs of the Newfoundlanders and on the backs of the employees in Bay d'Espoir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GILBERT: So when I hear people say that they don't want to be involved in the merger of Hydro and Fortis, I'm telling you right now, there's enough - you can look around - there are ways that the Newfoundland taxpayer is going to save a lot of money. I will say to you, ask Mr. Abery now. The next time you go out you look at that building. The top floor of that building, that building -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Now, my friend, just a minute, I'll talk to you. I'll get to that. Just let me talk about your friend Mr. Abery first. Don't interrupt this, this is too good, I've been waiting for years to say this.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GILBERT: You look at the top floor of that Hydro building there. You'll see there are all little square glasses in the middle of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Just like the Taj Mahal.

MR. GILBERT: When that was built, that building was originally built to be a totally air-conditioned building, with no access for windows on the outside. Mr. Abery went in there, and you ask Mr. Abery the next time he gets up and says he doesn't want to privatize Hydro, ask him about how he went up to the building and had a look at it. He went into his office. What, no window? By God, there'd better be. You ask him what it cost to put in the windows all around that building. Somewhere around a million dollars of taxpayers' money that Mr. Abery spent after one visit to his building when it was built.

AN HON. MEMBER: One fell swoop.

MR. GILBERT: One fell swoop, as my friend says, yes. So don't tell me about Mr. Abery being the salvation of Newfoundland Hydro when that goes on. So let me tell you right now that if there is room, I am prepared. As to my friend in Bay d'Espoir, one of the best supporters I had, I might say, I had to say to him: Listen, in the world we're living in right now today, if jobs are inefficient, as much as we'd like to keep them, we can't keep them. This is it. If there's a better way to do it, by God let's find it and spend the money somewhere else. That's the way it has to be done.

I think I'm finished with Hydro now. I'll talk some more later on. Before I finish off I have a concern I have to raise. I'm sorry that my friend the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is not here. Because it's one concerning the community of Conne River.

As I said when I started off, Conne River is an anomaly in the Province. It's an Indian community and it's handled under the Indian Act. It deals directly with the Province for its health and welfare. The Province doesn't contribute to that. It's handled by federal money.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Yes, the supplement, yes, okay, I'll agree with that but by and large, it's federally funded.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, they get assistance. For example, we provide police there but they get extra....

MR. GILBERT: They get extra. You provide police, but I mean normally I would say that Conne River is self-sufficient, more than the community of Milltown, shall we say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Alright. That is right; it does. Maybe that is why Conne River has grown by 22 per cent. Since 1985 the population in Conne River has increased 22 per cent.

Now, my concern is the fact that the three miles that the community of Conne River is situated on is governed by the band council and pretty well self-sufficient, but I have a concern. There is a road, a trail, going to that boundary. It was an old logging road that was put in in the seventies, and every year there has been an effort to try and get this road improved. The people of Conne River have been in negotiation with the federal government and the Province to do something about it. I say, in this House, that road is a provincial road, to the boundary of Conne River, and all I am asking right now is that it be considered as such and that it be upgraded - if it is not paved this year, at least be brought up to normal upgrading. There are more than 680 people living in Conne River right now and I would say, without contradiction, without being contradicted here in this House, that the road going to Conne River is possibly the worst road to any community in the Province right now, and I am asking that the government have a serious look at upgrading the road to Conne River.

With that, Mr. Speaker, thank you, and I will sit down and let someone else carry on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I might add, to my hon. friend from Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, that Hydro may have the most expensive building at taxpayers' expense, but we on this side of the House know where the most expensive doorknobs are, at taxpayers' expense.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if we in this Province are going to have any hope of prosperity, any hope of being an industrious people, then we must begin today to pursue a sound policy of resource management and human resource management - something that this government is not doing, in my opinion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: We must seize the assets that we now have, seize the assets of our people, the assets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and we must have further control over the development of those resources in many areas - forestry and agriculture, mining and energy, fisheries management, and indeed hydroelectric power.

Now I would like to address some of my remarks initially to the Member for Bonavista South who provided an eloquent historical lesson and history lesson yesterday on the Upper Churchill and how, at that time in history, it was the best thing since sliced bread, I believe he said yesterday, but let me assure the member - and before I go on, he also said that he was working there while some of us on this side of the House were playing marbles, or something like that, he said. Let me assure the Member for Bonavista South -

AN HON. MEMBER: St. John's South.

MR. E. BYRNE: St. John's South, I am sorry - that to him and the generation that he represents, Upper Churchill may have been a great project, but to the generation that I represent it is a project of failure and a project of mistakes, and the only people benefitting from that project today are Hydro Quebec and the people living in Quebec, and that is something that we must not make again, a mistake that we must not make again.

Now on the fundamental principle -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Murphy, on the fundamental - my hon. friend, Tom Murphy from St. John's South -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. Member that he is to refer to hon. members of this House by the district that they represent.

MR. E. BYRNE: I apologize.

To my hon. friend from St. John's South, yesterday he got into a discussion about Hydro and the whole need for privatization of government services that the private sector can better deliver, and fundamentally I agree with the man, and generally speaking I agree that government, where government is providing services to people of this Province, that they should not interfere with the private sector; however, in the Hydro case we are talking about a resource that belongs now to the people of this Province, to the people of his district, to the people of the Province in general, and I fundamentally disagree that any merger or sale of the assets of Hydro to the private sector will benefit, in the long run, the people of this Province and the consumers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The Premier indicated in an interview in a scrum yesterday how despicable the members of the Opposition were because we were charging that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, in a merger that we fundamentally disagree with, how despicable we were in putting forward our own motives. Selfish motives he said, and my answer to that is how despicable a member of this House is to assume, because I or our party disagree with him on fundamental principles, that he has the right to call me despicable as a member of this House of Assembly. That is what is despicable and not me, not the members of this House, who fundamentally agree on a point of principle, that the sale of Hydro, the merger of Hydro is wrong.

There will be no increase of jobs. In fact there will be a net loss of jobs. There is no technological transfer in terms of this sale or merger of Hydro. It will bring no new industry and no new investment to the people of this Province. What we will see in the final analysis is an increase in taxes for the average consumer. That is what we will see. The Premier has admitted that. The Premier said that over a period of five years there would be a minimal increase of 1 per cent per year. How can the Premier or any member of this House dictate what a private company in the private sector, what rate increases they will provide to the average consumer in this Province? I ask the Member for Pleasantville and the Member for St. George's if their constituents will collectively benefit from this sale? I say they will not benefit from this sale and that in the final analysis we will lose control of a major resource and we will lose in-house expertise that has been developed over twenty years in terms of the engineers of Newfoundland Hydro. It will not in the final analysis be a good sale and a good deal for the people of this Province.

In terms of forestry and agriculture as a renewable resource, supposedly, we are not seeing any proper planning or any foresight demonstrated on the part of this government or on the part of the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. In the May Budget we saw the hog industry's legs cut out from under it. Swine breeding stations and subsidies to hog producers were eliminated but yet in late August or September, I say to my hon. friend for St. John's South, in Cabinet, a decision was made to sell the swine breeding station in Portugal Cove to private interests without offering to those involved in the industry, who had been adversely affected by government decision making, a chance to buy that station. There was no public tender whatsoever on the swine breeding station and a decision was made in Cabinet to sell it to private interests. I do not believe the people of the Province were best served by that.

What is happening in our forestry industry today? There is a rape and a pillage happening in the forestry industry of this Province that can be compared to what has taken place in the fishery over the last ten years. My hon. friend for Baie Verte - White Bay asked the minister in the last sitting how many harvesters are operating in the forest industries in this Province today and he could not provide one answer. He could not say there was one, ten, twenty or one hundred. He did not know.

MS. VERGE: There was no environmental assessment.

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly. There was no environmental assessment, no assessment of the impact these harvesters are having on the entire forestry industry, and in the long run what the impact will be on the jobs in the industry as a whole. He could not provide an answer and more than that, did not want to, and will not provide an answer. With respect to the oil and gas industry and the resource that we supposedly own and control. This summer we saw a large contract go to interests outside this Province, a contract that would have provided hundreds of jobs, but more than that the biggest stake and the biggest thing we lost in the loss of that contract was the transfer of technology, the opportunity for people in this Province and for this Province to become a centre in terms of oil and gas development, but we lost. What was the response from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Minister of Mines and Energy? At the end of the day our pencils were not sharp enough. Frankly I think that was an excuse and something that we, as people in this Province, should not stand for.

In terms of our most valuable and renewable resource, the fisheries, where is the plan being articulated by this government? The plan for the future. What will the inshore fishery look like in the future? Who will be involved in prosecuting that fishery? What skills do they have to have to prosecute that fishery? Will there be an offshore effort? Will there be a concentrated offshore effort as we have seen in the last ten years? Those are answers that are not forthcoming from this government but are answers that should be forthcoming. Has the Province seized control over what is happening with retraining in terms of the fishery and those affected by the fishery? Again I put forward that there was no plan, there was no human resource plan by this Province that will see the benefits of a sustainable fishery in the future coming back to us.

In terms of human resource development, the Premier and his ministers so eloquently stood up and said: we have a strategic economic plan for the development of the Province. A strategic economic plan that twenty years from now will put this Province on the course to recovery. Well I would suggest that there are major holes in the strategic economic plan, especially dealing in those areas of development of our people and human resource development. A good example of planning that did not take place is the present Emergency Employment Programme. The $6 million announced, I think everybody was in agreement, including the minister, that it was not enough because of scarce resources.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is true, it was not even $6 million. It was actually $2 million but the perception was given that it was $6 million.

In the St. John's region for example, his Emergency Employment Program actually drove the number of weeks from eleven weeks up to twelve weeks, putting the plan itself out of business in this region. By the St. John's region I mean as far as Seal Cove, all of Mount Scio - Bell Island region, the region of the Province that CEIC deals with. In the St. John's area there was a little over $600,000 or almost $600,000 allotted. The total number of insurable weeks was 1559 insurable weeks. If everybody needed eleven weeks that would have meant that there would have been 149 jobs in that region but the reality is that eleven weeks will do four, three, two, five people possibly who are short of UI. Now here is what has happened, confirmed by officials at CEIC and confirmed by Statistics Canada. In September, prior to this plan being announced, there were 12,000 people unemployed in the St. John's region while there were 83,000 people who were in the labour force between October 7th and November 7th, when the number of insurable weeks in the St. John's region was up from eleven to twelve.

There remained 83,000 people in the labour force but there was a drop of 1,000 people in those unemployed. It dropped from 14.4 per cent to 13.5 per cent and that drop of 1,000 people caused the number of weeks required to qualify for UI to rise from eleven to twelve weeks.

Now we have the question, what was the impact of the Emergency Employment Program on that? Statistics Canada and CEIC confirm that any provincial programme and people employed under the provincial programme would show up in their statistics and be counted towards those who would be unemployed, or the converse being, to those who would be employed. But the real factor and the real figure is this, according to Statistics Canada it would only have taken a .6 per cent drop, which actually is 400-500 people employed in the region, to cause that eleven weeks to rise to twelve weeks.

Now, in the St. John's region, I would put forward that there are probably between 300 and 500 people who got assistance from the Emergency Employment Programme. Thus that programme contributed in a major way to the number of weeks rising from eleven to twelve. There was no prior discussion with the minister and CEIC, absolutely no discussion, about the impact that this programme would have on the insurable weeks in this region. None whatsoever.

Not only those people who were affected and who were employed on the Emergency Employment Program, not only do they now not qualify for UI, which was what the Emergency Program was supposed to do, but all of those other areas, indirectly, in other sectors of our economy, who live in that St. John's region, were adversely affected, and are adversely affected, because of a provincial government program which was designed to assist on the one hand, but which has put itself out of business on the other hand.

My colleague for Waterford - Kenmount spoke to me this morning and said one project in Barachois Street, for example, needs an extra eleven weeks because of the change from eleven to twelve. The Goulds recreation commission needs an extra -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: Needs an extra eleven weeks because of the change (inaudible)?

MR. E. BYRNE: In Barachois, yes it does. The Goulds recreation commission, it had employable weeks for nine persons, or eight persons. They now need an extra twelve weeks. The Goulds agricultural society needs an extra fifteen weeks to accommodate those so they can get on UI. These are only three examples. I would suggest to my friend, the hon. Member for St. John's South, that he should check with those people receiving funding in his area, if he hasn't already, to see if -

MR. MURPHY: No boy, I'm sitting on my hands.


MR. MURPHY: Go up on Shea Heights and have a look.

MR. E. BYRNE: This is the effect the Emergency Employment Programme had on this region.

Mr. Speaker, the adverse effects of government policy, or lack thereof of this government, have been felt in my district since 1989. This year the City of St. John's in putting forward its criteria or its list of those areas that they wish to see increased city services in water and sewer, in pavement, put forward that to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. What happened? One of the designated areas that the city put forward was increased monies. They actually earmarked an amount of money for the District of Kilbride. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs did not accept that should be a District that gets any money. What happened instead? He insisted that Elizabeth Avenue should be repaved and that the people on Petty Harbour Road not receive water and sewer, and that the raw sewage that's running in the ditches up there not be corrected. That's the type of effects that's been felt by this government.

The downloading itself of amalgamation, the downloading of responsibilities onto the municipalities. Over 60 per cent to 70 per cent of my District, the District that I represent and that people have put me here to represent them, their taxes have increased three-fold. In some cases four-fold.

AN HON. MEMBER: So they should.

MR. E. BYRNE: So they should? Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is not true, sir. They were paying something before. They were paying their fair share, is what they were paying before. What are they getting now? They are not getting one extra service for four times the taxes, while the people in around the area enjoy much greater taxes, much greater services, and they are receiving nothing because of amalgamation!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Before they were a municipality that could have survived quite capably on their own, given half the chance and the opportunity. They were not given that chance and they were not provided with that opportunity. That's what amalgamation has done to the people of my District.


AN HON. MEMBER: Tell the truth!

MR. E. BYRNE: I am telling the truth. Amalgamation. We don't call it amalgamation now, I think the minister has called it regionalization. Regionalization of services. It has had no great impact, only adverse impact, to the District of Kilbride.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: Five years down the road (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I sincerely doubt it, sir.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, amalgamation and municipal services are of great, great concern to the people in Kilbride, to over 70 per cent of the District of Kilbride.

Since 1989 there has been little or no money put into that district - little money put into that district - for the upgrading of roads. Go in the main Bay Bulls road right now, which is a district that serves 15,000 people, mind you - not 2,000; not 1,000; not 400; 15,000 people it serves - a major area and a growth centre for the region here. Only a cow path, that is what I would call the main Bay Bulls road. It is a cow path. From 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. it is bumper to bumper. From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. it is bumper to bumper.

MR. MURPHY: Well I say to the hon. member the previous administration were responsible for the road.

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me tell you about the previous administration, my friend from St. John's South. On average the Goulds municipality received $750,000 to $1 million a year from the previous administration. It certainly hasn't seen that from this administration. I can guarantee you that, Sir. I can guarantee you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MURPHY: What did they spend it on?

MR. E. BYRNE: They spent it on water and sewer, and upgrading the town's facilities - something we have not seen from this government - I can tell you that - and that we won't see from this government.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me tell you, Sir, the mil rate now is the same as the residents of St. John's, and we have not seen any extra services - no extra services whatsoever, because Municipal Affairs here is earmarking funds for its own districts, not for districts that are in more of a need. That is what is happening here.

I say to my hon. friends across -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: I did not quite hear the hon. Member for St. John's South about the projects for my district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, I am sorry, Sir.

I say to the hon. members of the House of Assembly here that I would like to return to Hydro for one minute and to investigate The Evening Telegram and `The Liberal Rag' is what it is. That is all I could call it. It is a Liberal Rag. Bill Callahan - I am sure that the Premier's Press Secretary writes all of Callahan's articles in `The Way We Are'. `According To The Book Of Clyde'. That is what it should be called.

Last week in an article in `The Way We Are' by Mr. Callahan, he indicated that there were thousands of people in the Province enjoying good pensions; thousands were represented by powerful, powerful public sector unions, with lots of money, and that the people of Newfoundland would rush to buy shares in a new merged company. Now I ask you, in all honesty and sincerity, my friend from St. John's South, are the people in his district, from Shea Heights, from Patrick Street, are these people going to rush to buy shares? What about the people in Codroy Valley? Will they rush to buy shares? Will the people in Terra Nova, or the people in Kilbride? They are fighting every day to put food on the table. Loss of jobs, loss of hope, that is what this government has delivered, and nothing else.

Now what has the government provided in terms of another human resource - young people, education? What have we seen at the university since 1989? We have seen increased tuition with no increase in student aid. We have seen budgetary cuts to Memorial, which services all of our districts, and to young people coming in there. We have seen increased youth unemployment and cutbacks in youth student employment programmes and youth employment programmes. That is what we have seen. We have seen the student/teacher ratio rise, not decline. That is what we have seen, and if that is the way that this government attempts to mask its own ability in terms of 'we are doing what we can for the young people', they are doing nothing for young people.

What is needed in this Province today, and I call for it here today, is a commission on youth unemployment, a commission on youth opportunities, that would travel the Province to investigate what has happened in the last five to seven years. That has not happened but this government must make it happen.

I am going to clue up by saying this, one of these days somebody may come forward and ask all of us here to come together on specific issues, youth unemployment, specifically, and I think we must put away our political swords and respond to such a situation and deal with what is, not what is politically right or wrong, or what it is politically correct to do. That is what we must do. We must work towards, and work together, in solving that problem because there is no government programme providing opportunities to the youth of this Province. It is certainly not happening in my district. There are no opportunities for them. Ernest Hemingway once said: For whom the bell tolls.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly. That is a lesson you people could learn over there, the government members, the members of the House of Assembly who represent the government, because they have been asking for whom the bell tolls. I guarantee you this, the bell does not toll for me, Sir, I can guarantee you that, but the bell tolls for the people of this Province, and how people are adversely affected in Marystown affects me, how people are adversely affected on the Northern Peninsula affects me, and I think that is a lesson that the members of government should take, should heed, and the next election we will not be asking for whom the bell tolls because it will not be for the Member for Kilbride, Sir, it will be for the Member for Gander because we have a boy for you.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Stephenville.

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was a pleasure to listen to the member opposite. I welcome the new Member for Kilbride to the House of Assembly. He was a good President of the Student Union and I wish him a good future in political life in Newfoundland and Labrador. I remember him in university days. I think the Member for Eagle River, he and I, probably shared a scattered political debate and I expect we are going to share another one in the next three or four years. A warm welcome to you, Sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was he a Liberal then?

MR. AYLWARD: I am not sure. No, he was not a Liberal then. We all go astray sometime in life but he speaks with conviction and it is good to hear an opposition member speak with conviction.

Mr. Speaker, the topic today is our red book, the Throne Speech. I was listening intently to the member on the other side and in many ways he is very right. I like to give credit to people who speak with conviction and speak about how we address the concerns in this Province. When he was talking about what we are going to do for young people, and how we are going to address the future, he is right when he says we are going to leave a legacy, but right now we have a real darn legacy to deal with that has been left this government here. We have been left with a legacy of a tremendous amount of debt which we could if we wanted to get political blame the other side for because most of it came while they were in government. I can remember being in opposition for four years, in my younger years, and I would get up and ask the government of the day, which is the other side now, questions and they would blame Churchill Falls for everything again, that was twenty-five years ago. All I say is, let us be realistic about what we have to deal with today, what the future holds, and let us plan for the future. I look forward to the ongoing debate that we are going to see on these issues because a lot has to be done and we all have to work collectively to make it happen, because if we do not, Mr. Speaker, what might happen is that the people may decide we are no longer able to govern, and should not govern, something like they just did up in Ottawa.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. AYLWARD: Now, Mr. Speaker, I am sad, I have to tell you, I am saddened somewhat to see the Tory Party of Canada - now I know my colleagues here may not agree with me, some of them, but to see that national party down to two seats in the House of Commons -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. AYLWARD: - I am saddened, I have to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes I know. I feel pretty bad too.

MR. AYLWARD: Okay, so it took twenty minutes for me to get off the ceiling on election night but that is beside the point. The thing is they deserved to be beaten to the ground but twenty-five, thirty or forty seats would have sufficed for a defeat. Twenty-five or thirty would have sufficed.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are very generous aren't you?

MR. AYLWARD: I am generous, I am by nature. I thought that that would have been a proper number but it tells you one thing, when a government goes in a direction where it does not care or does not show it cares about the people, that is what can happen. The Progressive Conservatives, are going to have a major, major uphill battle from here on in, Mr. Speaker, to get back on track again where they were in the past. I would say good luck to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. AYLWARD: Good luck to them but I don't expect, Sir, that they are going to see a lot of successes in their future but that is what can happen. If you are not going to deal with the issues of the day, the issues of the people and plan in a way that does not leave a sad legacy for your people, which is what they have done -they have left us unfortunately a sad legacy. It is most unfortunate and it is not that the members of the former parliament or of former governments have not wanted to do the right things but it is a matter now of being able to do what you can do with the restrictions that are placed on you.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is restricted somewhat in what it can do because of the large public debt. We are attempting to do many things but the large public debt that we got left with - and a lot of it from your own side over there. Some of the members were in the Cabinet of the former government. They tried but the debt situation was not watched and we are now living with the grief over here of trying to figure out how to get the economy going with the fishery almost shot, and who is to blame for that? If I want to get into who to blame - the federal tories who are now departed could take a lot of it but what good is that? We have to deal with what is left. So that is what I am saying to you. I am saying to you that we have to deal with what is left. We have a large public debt problem to deal with, we have a large unemployment problem to deal with, we have a large problem with the fisheries crisis on our hands and I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am absolutely delighted that Brian Tobin is the federal Minister of Fisheries, I am delighted.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. AYLWARD: I think that he is going to be an excellent Minister of Fisheries. He is committed to the fisheries, he is committed to this Province, he is a brilliant federal politician and he is going to do what he can to make sure we try to get back on track and I am right delighted that he is there. He has a compassion for the Province and I think that it is going to show in his job as we work together, both provincially and federally, to try to create an economy out of what we have been left with in the crisis in the fishery.

We have a crisis in forestry. The Member for Kilbride alluded to it earlier, there is a crisis in the forestry. We have problems there. We have major, major problems with the unemployed forestry loggers in this Province who are trying to deal with technology. We have problems with the companies themselves who are in a market situation which is really almost unbearable for the companies. They are in a situation where the market price for their product has dropped 40 per cent in the last three years. It has dropped 40 per cent and the only way that they can deal with the market conditions is to lower their costs. I have been in detailed discussions with Abitibi-Price in Stephenville over the last two years on trying to find ways that governments can help those companies survive in a marketplace that they are in.

So it is an ongoing crisis management situation that we and this economy are dealing with right now and it requires, Mr. Speaker, a plan. It requires dealing with, not just the crisis', but planning for the future and that is what this government is trying to do. Nobody is infallible. We are going to make mistakes just like previous governments did and we won't get into who made them and how they made them but we will make not as many, we hope. We are hoping not as many because we are trying to be careful but yet you have to take some risks. You have to make decisions. It is no good to be in government and say: well, we are going to wait for another six months. You have to make decisions and this government is going to make them with the best information possible.

When you look at the Hydro issue, Mr. Speaker, for one second, I am not going to spend very long on it. $900 million worth of debt is with Hydro right now, but I have not heard anybody from the Opposition talking about that yet. Who owns that? It is more than that but I know it was well over a billion, wasn't it? I would like to know who owns that, where is that debt right now, does anybody know? I will tell you. It is with foreign investors, Japan, everywhere, it is all over the place. Now somebody, one of these days is going to have to think about paying it off, and right now it is on the government's debt of the Province. Every taxpayer in Newfoundland is responsible for the debt of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

We are looking at it. Nobody has made any decisions yet, by the way. The Minister of Energy and the Cabinet and the Premier are trying to figure out whether or not this proposal is going to be the right one, but they are looking at it and I think they darn well should look at it. As a matter of fact, we do not have much of a choice but to look at it. If there is a more effective way to deliver the electrical service in this Province, and looking at, when you evaluate it, any potential job losses that might happen, we have to evaluate all that, we have to evaluate the impact on the consumer but if there is a better way to do it, should we throw up our hands and say no, we are not going to bother looking? No, you have to look and see. In this economy, you have no choice.

A caller to the Open Line this morning, said to the Member for Burin - Placentia West who was on the Open Line: the reason that you have to look at it is because Wall Street, all the lenders to this Province are saying to us, we have to find ways to be more effective with the money that we have, with the resources that we have. So let us be a bit more realistic if we are going to talk about the whole situation, and talk about all the facts to the people. There is nothing wrong with talking about all the facts; there may not be parts that I will agree with or everybody else will agree with but all of the facts should be on the table, that is a serious situation. The debt load is very high, so when people say that Hydro makes money, it does make money but has to pay off its debts also and if anybody did public or private finance, you would understand that you still have a serious situation because we have a large amount of debt there, and this Province is carrying a large amount of debt and this is one of the reasons we are having a look at it, but having a look at it, it is like being attacked for having a look at it.

Here we are, in a situation where we have to look at everything in this Province to try to find a way - and you know, there could be opportunities coming out of a situation like this that we do not even realize, but no, no, don't look at it, don't look at it, don't sell off our birthright. Who is doing that? Nobody! Legislation is in place to govern electrical generation, it is going to be there forever and a day and the PUB is set up to monitor the price. Nobody is saying anything about that. No, no, but that is a fact and that is the way it is going to be, even if we were to privatize it. So let us look at the facts if we are going to get into this.

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to trying to get the economy going. The other side has supported the former federal government so strongly half the time, that it is a good thing the provincial election was held when it was. We got our election in early, it is too bad we did not have it in the fall because there might have been two seats left on the other side too. I think the same thing would have happened.

Their pipeline to Ottawa now is all shut down as a matter of fact. I can remember when Question Period used to be like the House of Commons Question Period. We are looking, Mr. Speaker, at changes and reforming the education system. Now that is a major challenge in this Province and we are looking at it seriously; we are having consultations with everybody, we are trying to make changes. The Minister of Education and the Cabinet are trying to bring in changes or bring changes to this House of Assembly for us all to look at, and we are trying to reform the system to get better value for the taxpayers dollar in the education system and make it more effective, and that is a challenge.

That is a major challenge for any government and we are undertaking to do that and I am optimistic, very optimistic, that we are going to see some very positive changes coming forward for our school system. I have two young children, Mr. Speaker, and I am looking forward to seeing them go into this school system in this Province and I would like to see some changes; I want to see some changes and I am looking forward to seeing them come forward so we can all discuss them and then figure out what is the best thing to do and that is a major challenge. So for young people in the Province, this government is thinking ahead, Mr. Minister of Education, we are thinking ahead. We are trying to change the system now, so that young kids as they go in the system will have a more effective, better education system that our children will be able to take advantage of now and in the future.

We have more computers in the school system right now than the previous government put in in ten years, Mr. Minister.

I tell you. The Member for Kilbride. I challenge you anywhere, my friend. I'd get together with you anywhere - let's do it in the House, though - to talk about the contributions and changes we've made in the last four or five years to education in this Province. More money gone to school boards, in the history of school boards in this Province, in the last three or four years. They've got more money than they've ever had to deal with. Even though we've still got lots of problems out there, but we're trying to deal with technology that even chairmen of companies in this Province can't keep up with, and they will tell you that. Technology is changing so fast they can't even keep up with it. So our school system is trying to do the same thing. There are a number of examples.

The Member for Port au Port has one in his riding, a lighthouse project, which I'm hoping he's going to describe soon. He probably has already earlier. There are a number of projects in the Province where education reform and educational changes have been made, improvements have been made, but no, nobody talks about that half the time. We're all on the negative, let's get on the negative. I don't mind - the Opposition can criticize, but I wish that you'd get up and say a few good things once in a while. Because half of it is psychology, Mr. Speaker.

If we're going to get out of this economic mire that we're in, or the problems that we're dealing with, we've all got to start talking positively. We have to start giving out some hope and showing some future. We've got to show that there's a plan in place. The Minister of Education and the Cabinet and the government over here are going to change the education system because it needs to be changed, it has to be changed. We have no choice. We have to make sure that our students are prepared for the future.

One of the major things that is being done with the school system now and being changed is entrepreneurship is being promoted in the school system. I think it is number one. Junior achievement is being promoted. This government deserves credit for that. Junior achievement and entrepreneurship, they should be a foundation of our school system. They should be throughout it, as early as we can get it in, that we all have to do something for ourselves and create something for ourselves. I am delighted with the efforts so far of the people in the Department of Education, the people in Industry, Trade and Technology, and all of the other government departments, and federally, the monies are being committed to entrepreneurship and to promote it in this Province.

In a time where we've all got to look at what we're facing, which is really a very difficult economic time, there are a number of major positive things happening out there. Half the time, unfortunately, sometimes you turn on the t.v. and it's negative this and negative that. I say to the media that they have a role in helping turn around the economy and helping tell some of the good things that are out there.

News is not all bad, I say to members of the media and everybody else. There is such a thing as good news. It's time we had people talking about the good things that are going on instead of the negative. The only way this economy is going to get out of it, we're going to get out of it, is to talk about the good. There's a lot of it going on. There's a lot of money being spent on education, there's a lot of money being spent on new companies and their technologies in this Province, which half the time doesn't get reported - if a company has a press conference in this Province to announce a good thing they're doing, hardly anybody shows up. More of that's got to start happening. The media has to start going to the good things of what governments and the people are about and what they're trying to do.

I have to say, though, I am delighted that the people of Stephenville decided to bring me back for another term.

MR. CRANE: (Inaudible).

MR. AYLWARD: They couldn't do without me, that's what I say to the Member for Harbour Grace. The thing is we in Stephenville - twenty-five years ago the armed forces of the U.S. decided they were going to leave. The whole reason for Stephenville being created was gone, it was wiped out. Within a two to five year period it was gone. The people there could have decided: I'm going to give up, get up, leave town, go somewhere else, and do something else.

They didn't do that. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and I, and the Members for Port au Port and St. George's, attended an annual co-op meeting in Stephenville only about a month and a half ago, where the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology gave a tremendous speech. I have to say he gave a tremendous speech to my colleagues, a speech about hope, which a lot of people there appreciated. There wasn't one media person in the audience, unfortunately. He gave a tremendous speech. Let me just say this to you, because I'm getting off the topic on my praise to him.

You know what it was? One of the highlights of their meetings was that one of the biggest success stories in this Province is the co-op situation in Stephenville, and it was built in 1966, '67, '68, at a time when a lot of people would have given up. These people did not give up in Stephenville. They did not give up. They rebuilt and started again, and the Indian Head Co-op in Stephenville is one of the most successful examples of co-ops in Atlantic Canada, and it is one that we should keep promoting.

It is one of the success stories that we should keep promoting, for the people of Stephenville have never given up, despite the linerboard hit that they took. Abitibi-Price came in, with the help of governments of the day and everybody else, and they have survived, and that town out there right now is starting to move ahead. We have a lot of things going on. We have an industrial park that is started next to the airport. We have industrial road infrastructure that is rebuilding the town. We have a new regional aquatic centre going up. The people in our area do not know what is happening, as a matter of fact, and one of the reasons it is happening, I believe, is because of attitude. It is all because of attitude. We have to get, in this Province, a better attitude. We have to get an entrepreneurial attitude, but overall we have to get a positive attitude about what we are going to do, and face the challenges.

It does not matter what stripe you are politically. You look at what Bob Rae in Ontario has to face today, with all of the Federation of Labour giving up on him. They are all walking out, saying: We don't want anything to do with you anymore. Well, the fact of the matter is, he is in a difficult situation. That is the reality of the day, what he is dealing with, but the very simple fact is that we have to take a positive attitude. We have to get our people educated. We have to work with all of our people, no matter what they work at and what their ideas are, and we have to transform our economy. Not only do we have to help the resource-based economy; we have to help the fishery.

The Member for Eagle River, I could listen to him all day talk about the fishery because he knows about the fishery. He talks about the fishery with a passion, I have to say, and he talks about the opportunities in the fishery. Now that is positive. He can create opportunities in the fishery. He has done it in his district and made it happen in the last term of government. That is why he got re-elected, as a matter of fact, and he is going to be there forever and a day. I have no doubt that he will be there for as long as he wants to be there, so there are opportunities out there but we have to start talking about them. We have to start putting the programs in place and the enthusiasm in place to ensure that the people of the Province help and make the economy start to go again, but we will only do that if we start talking positive, if we start being positive, and also highlighting the good things that are happening. There are a lot of good things happening. It is time that we all got on with that task and started to really concentrate on getting people's psychology to go in the positive, Mr. Speaker, instead of beating it down.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hope Train.

MR. AYLWARD: Yes, the Member for St. John's South, as he says, the Hope Train. We have to get back on the rail and get on the line of hope.

AN HON. MEMBER: We have a good man in Ottawa now.

MR. AYLWARD: Absolutely, and with a new federal government and with a new mandate which, even despite the debt situation that they now face of over $40 billion on their current account this year, they are going to concentrate on the economy, which is what we are going to concentrate on, despite the debt situation. We are concentrating on creating opportunities in this Province, and we are going to continue to do so because the lifeblood of rural Newfoundland and our rural economy is now being challenged also with the fishery and its problems, and the forestry and its problems, and the mining and its problems, so we have no choice but to face that reality, challenge it head on, look at every dollar we are spending, and find a better use for it. If it is doing the right thing, fine, but we have to evaluate everything we are doing now. We have to make sure that our people are ready, trained, and able to create opportunities for ourselves.

I remember - the Member for St. George's has talked about it quite often - we used to produce almost all of our own food up until 1949. Right now we hardly produce a thing in this Province, and it is time we got back at those things, and I say to the Member for St. George's, he should keep at the advocacy for that, and make our government listen and let's get on with it. We have to get back to basics in the Province. We can create opportunities, but if we are going to be so negative, and we are always going to be talking about what we can't do, and `Don't do this', because that is a negative, and `Boy, there might be a problem with that', if you are going to talk negative all of the time, then nothing is going to happen, Mr. Speaker. So there are many opportunities.

Right now we have a lot of monies coming from the federal government that we need to use in a better way. We need to use them in a better way to transform our economy in this Province. We are 600,000 people, or a little less, and we can be a beacon in this world. We can be a place where there is a lot of ingenuity, a lot of entrepreneurship, a lot of ideas created, and we can create things for ourselves. We have already done so. We have been very successful in creating a wonderful place to live, one of the best places in the world, a safe place to live, and I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that we are on the road to being a better place. I ask for the support of everybody in the Province for this government so that we can get on with the job, Mr. Speaker, and to the Opposition I say, do your homework, come in here with some good criticisms for this government, and we will take your criticisms and hopefully help create a better economy, better opportunities for our people, and better opportunities for our children, so that we can all come in here with our heads held high and ensure that the government of the day and the people of this Province are getting the best out of the resources we have. That is our goal, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you very much for the time of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all I would like to welcome back all my hon. colleagues over the five month stint. I must say it was a little bit too long as far as I am concerned. We could have been back here a couple of weeks ago with so many issues on the front. I must say that during the summer I did keep in contact with some of the ministers and some of the MHAs. While the Minister of Transportation is here I will make a comment. I did expect to see the minister in the district as he told me he was coming out. As he knows, probably as far as districts are concerned, we have more unpaved roads than any district in the Province. I was hoping he would leave Port de Grave once in awhile, just for a scattered weekend, and come out and have a look at the unpaved roads in my district and the deplorable conditions that are there.

I will say that a lot of the ministers did get back to me and we did work together. As for the Member for Stephenville, I must say that I agree with you on the attitude change and the working together. We are all elected officials and for me to stand up here again today, after just six months in politics, and still considered a rookie, I certainly appreciate the privilege of being able to stand in the House and talk on behalf of my constituents. It gives that great privilege and appreciation of speaking for the people who put you here. It is a great privilege and I honour it.

It also gives you a chance to bring up some things concerning your district that you do not always have a chance to bring up. I was going to start off talking about the Hydro situation but I might go into it later on in the next session. Now, I will bring up a situation that I dealt with the summer that was very emotional and very disturbing to me. It got into the media a little bit and I thought I should bring it up here. I am certainly going to bring it up again to the Premier. As some of you might have heard over the summer the community of Harbour Deep went through a very trying experience. I was called by the media and hit by rumours on the street so I would like to tell you just how it unfolded. That word that nobody wants to mention, the resettlement question came up. I am going to try and explain it to you because the Premier would not listen to me. I hope he reads the Hansard.

In the first couple of weeks leading up to this situation I had phone calls, as I usually do, from my constituents. By the way, I do statistics on it right now to make sure I do, but I get back to 90 per cent of my constituents. When they call me I call them back and try to keep in touch. That is part of what I believe in, getting back to your constituents. During those couple of weeks I had some calls from Harbour Deep on different things, as you do, on welfare, social assistance, on unemployment, you name it, we get calls on it, and as these calls kept coming in from Harbour Deep I started to hear the rumour of resettlement. Well MHA what do you think of resettlement? Remember my age now, as I do not look too old, resettlement is what I read about and what I heard about. I do not really remember resettlement. It was a dirty word then as it is a dirty word now. I never, ever agreed with forced resettlement and I never will, but I kept hearing the rumours come up. I got about ten or fifteen calls on rumours of resettlement so then I went to see my leader, Mr. Simms, to ask him about resettlement. He said, what are you hearing? He said, people are just bringing it up in conversation, so I let it rest.

I did not say a lot about it, and then about three weeks later I had a call from VOCM saying we are getting calls from your constituents in Harbour Deep talking about resettlement. So then it was in the media, unbeknownst to me, so I said I have to deal with this. The very first thing I did was call the Premier's office. I called it several times and I did not get an answer back. The rumours were getting thicker by the day so I decided I would go to Harbour Deep. I would do the only decent thing possible and that was to go to Harbour Deep. Instead of listening to rumours, hearsay and media I said I was going to sit down and listen to exactly what they were saying. So I went to Harbour Deep but I did not go alone. I also took Jeff Gilhooly of CBC radio. I sat down in a very crowded room on a warm night in Harbour Deep and, to be honest with you, I was scared to death of what was going to come up because I don't really know too much about the resettlement issue. I can tell you without going into detail, the emotions in that room that night was something I have never experienced before.

When you talk about resettlement, you are talking about people who are thinking about moving their homes and I want to make one point clear, that these people in Harbour Deep love Harbour Deep. We all think about it as a little isolated community with nothing but let me tell you, from being there and the pictures that I took back and also the CBC people there with me, they could not believe the beauty of a place such as Harbour Deep. Most people here, you have to remember, worked and earned a living. They put bread and butter on the table for their families for years and made a living. There were very few on social assistance, as the minister will tell you, in Harbour Deep. They usually worked, a very proud people. They do not want to leave Harbour Deep but they have been struck with the fishery situation which I guess is related to that. A community that was solely dependent on the fishery - they had to look at alternatives.

Now my whole problem is I called the Premier because I went to talk to these people. I brought CBC with me and they did a story which all of you have seen and heard on CBC radio's On The Go and also on TV. They interviewed people from Harbour Deep. Then I come back to talk to the Premier and say: I would like to let you know first hand what I experienced in Harbour Deep. The Premier would not speak to me, he put me on to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and he put me on to the deputy minister. So I finally got a meeting with the deputy minister to explain that.

MR. SIMMS: He called you something.

MR. SHELLEY: I am getting to that.

So I finally got a meeting with the deputy minister and explained why the people in Harbour Deep brought up such a soul heart-wrenching choice of resettlement. I was scared to death of it. So I asked him to meet with me. He would not speak to me, the minister would not speak to me but I finally got to the deputy minister. I said I just want to tell you what I heard, that is all I want to do. So then lo and behold the Premier of this Province, a few days later, I seen him on CBC television saying that Mr. Shelley fabricated this whole thing. Mr. Shelley is the only person who made this up.

MR. SIMMS: Shame, shame, shame.

MR. SHELLEY: Imagine, thirty-four years old and I do not know what resettlement is except for what I read in books and hear from my grandmother and grandfather. I didn't even know what resettlement was, and I made it up? Why would I make up resettlement? Why would I fabricate a story on resettlement? It just boggled my mind. I just though the best thing to do - and by the way, this is where the meeting with the Premier came from. I have the Minutes of meetings to show the Premier when he ever gives me the time of day to talk to me about it. I have the Minutes of a meeting with those people packed into that room with the CBC there. They had two recommendations to me as their elected MHA.

One was for you to meet the Premier of this Province, and nobody else, because there is no department for resettlement, thank God, there is no minister for resettlement. They asked: Will you meet the Premier of this Province and explain what happened in this room tonight, why such an emotional thing happened? And I tell you, I am not going into the emotions. But we have had breakdowns, brothers against brothers, and sisters against fathers, and all this thing happening.

I asked the Premier to meet me. He would not meet with me. He said I fabricated the whole thing. The two recommendations that were made at that meeting were: `for you, as the elected MHA, to meet with the Premier to give him first-hand why we have even thought about resettlement. Secondly, we want a contingent of three or four people - not a crowd - from Harbour Deep, who are isolated, as you know, to come in and sit down with the Premier to discuss why such an issue came up.

Now, my whole point is not the resettlement thing. My whole point was the process by which all of this happened. For one thing, I didn't bring it up at all, the media brought it up. I did the decent thing. I went and talked to the people first-hand, instead of listening to the radio and watching television and the Premier coming on saying I'm making up the whole idea. So before this session is over - I wish the Premier were sitting here today - but he will have to answer to me, and to the people of Great Harbour Deep, why he said we fabricated. I know we can't use the word I want to say. He said I fabricated, and the people of Harbour Deep said I fabricated. So, if that's a lie, well that's what it should be.

I want to tell all you members that I had a - this is a special situation there in my district. A situation that as a new politician for sure - maybe some of the more experienced politicians could have faced it a little bit more comfortably - but I didn't know what I was going into. It was a very uncomfortable situation. I looked to the Premier of this Province to help me out and give me some advice on a situation that I'm sure doesn't arise very often. He did not give me that opportunity, and it is something he will have to answer for sooner or later in this House and to the constituents who live in Harbour Deep. I hope he will be here to answer that some day during Question Period.

I will go into a couple of things, although the time is getting very short, but I'm sure I will be back again. While we have the Minister of Mines and Energy here I would like to bring up a couple of points. As you know, in my district, the potential for mining development is great. I must say, I have spoken to the minister several times on it and we have had some good discussions on the potential for mining there. We both agree. All I want now is, as the hon. the Member for Stephenville said, we need a new attitude. We are here for three-and-a-half years; I told Mr. Tobin that, not very long ago, just after he won in the election. I congratulated him. I think, as a minister, he has a big job to fill, but I told him as I tell you people, I am here for the next three-and-a-half years and I plan to work with any minister and any member, and I am sure if I can help him in any way, I will do the same thing. When politics come to politics and the rhetoric that comes along with it, well, sobeit. Meanwhile, I have people to represent, you have people to represent and I expect ministers of this government to work with me when it comes to dealing with people and the constituents.

That is all I have to say about that, and in tune with Mr. Tobin, I have said the same thing to him; he is now the minister of the nation; he also has seven districts in his riding, so I have an even more important job now to report to him on a district that is small to him now, but still important to the people who live there. I can assure you that I will be keeping in touch with the minister, who is also our member in the district that I represent.

As far as mining goes, I hope the minister will keep in mind that there is a great potential for mining on the Baie Verte Peninsula. It is one of the districts in the Province that has a good outlook in mining and, as I have been reading lately, all we need now is a little bit of help, a little bit of incentive from the government to get one mine started, something that will be a catalyst to push on the rest of these possible operations on the Peninsula. It could mean a lot of jobs, it could mean a great turn-around, not only on the Peninsula, but across the Province. So I will be continuing discussions, as we go, on that.

On Friday coming, the Minister of Health and I will be travelling to my district to open up a chronic care facility in Baie Verte. While I will be travelling down there with the minister to open up that facility - I congratulate him on that. I am glad that the chronic care unit is finally getting the recognition of the elderly and the aging population in my district and that is great stuff. I fully applaud the minister for that, but I want to tell you in no uncertain terms that, our hospital in Baie Verte, if we can still call it a hospital, has gone down, down, down. I will never agree with what happened on that Peninsula.

I mean, in 1993 - I have said it again until these four years are up. I was born there in 1959, I come from a very large family and they were all born there. I now have two children of my own and I had to sit in that hospital in Grand Falls when my two children were being born, it just does not make sense to me in 1993 and there is no one over on that side who can tell me it makes sense. I am living in a population of about 12,000 people, and if my little girl, four years old, needs a tonsillectomy, I have to go and sit in a hotel in Corner Brook or in Grand Falls - in 1993. If that isn't a cut back, if that isn't going back in time, I don't know what is. It is something that has really driven me into politics, it is one of the things that urged me on in the beginning, to sit back there, and after all these years -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was their version of resettlement.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, maybe that resettlement issue may come up again, because it looks like it is forced now - it is coming on us forced; but I am sitting in there in that population and it is a great development. We have had mining there in the past. We have a modern town there. We have twenty-two outlying communities, 12,000 people, and we can't have a baby born. We have a birthing room - somebody explain this to me - a birthing room in the hospital. The former MHA said, in a release when he was running against me, that the birthing room - and he admitted it himself - he said that the birthing room was just for political purposes - for political purposes, a birthing room. Maybe only politicians can go have them in there.

Why is there a brand new birthing room in the Baie Verte Peninsula Hospital but it is not to be used? Can somebody explain that to me? I can't understand that; and in 1993, when we are looking at sending people to Mars, let alone the moon, we can't have a child born on the Baie Verte Peninsula. We are not that backward. I don't expect someone to be born over in Harbour Deep, with 250 people. I don't expect that to happen, but you have to remember, and I will remind the minister of the geography of my district, as so many districts are spread out.

A woman in La Scie, just a little while ago, in labour, had to travel over a bad road an hour up to Baie Verte just to get to Baie Verte Junction. Then she had to drive another hour-and-a-half to get to Corner Brook to have a child. You tell me, in this day and age, that a two-and-a-half hour drive for a pregnant woman is sensible, is reasonable? It is something that is sickening to me and I will never understand it, and nobody, I think, will ever understand it.

So, as far as the minister is concerned, I would just like to say to you that I hope it is still consideration at least to have a baby on the Baie Verte Peninsula in the near future. I know there are cutbacks, but I don't care where the cutbacks come from - health has to be number one. If one person dies because of a cutback, then it wasn't worth it. It was not worth it and it will never be worth it. When you are talking about health of children, and the future of our Province, it has to come as number one, I don't think any hon. members would disagree with that. It is something that we have to put on the top of our priority list and we have to follow through on it. It has to be.

So I would like for the minister to take note of that, that this health centre, although on Friday we are going to acknowledge the chronic care opening, and I encourage and applaud that move, and I am glad for the elderly people in the district, but we have to look at the youth and the newborns who are coming out of that Peninsula who cannot come there anymore. It is a serious, serious situation.

We won't bring up the resettlement question anymore until the House opens again for another debate, but on job creation - I hate to bring it up now because there aren't that many minutes left on that clock and we could go for a little while on this. But on these job projects that came out, we all know it, and the hon. the Member for Placentia said it, in my district, $55,000 for municipal job projects, plus the forestry and plus the - I will concur with that.

But the $55,000 for municipal projects - I'll make a point on that now. This previous Administration and this previous government and this Churchill Falls stuff. I agree with the Stephenville member who said we have to start changing an attitude. I am so sick of hearing on this side of the House - I've only been here for a short time - but the previous Administration. My hon. colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes. When you talk about seventeen years ago, remember, he was eleven years old. I was twelve. I don't really want to hear about seventeen years ago. I think Churchill Falls was a mistake. I think Sprung Greenhouse was a mistake, and I think the Hydro deal is a mistake. But we should learn from our mistakes.

I think if you would really search your souls over there, instead of listening to the brainwash that's going on there, if you really dig down deep and listen to yourself, that this Hydro deal - we are going to be sitting in this House five years from now saying: it was another Sprung, it was another Churchill Falls, it was another mistake that should never have been made.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: I would like to go on for another little while but the time is ticking on. I would like to adjourn debate and get a chance to speak again tomorrow. I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I understand my friend for Baie Verte - White Bay has moved the adjournment of the debate. We will be resuming that later on.

Tomorrow is Private Members' Day, and the motion that stands in the name of the gentleman for Burin - Placentia West will be called. We are under our new rules. The understanding is that there will be twenty minutes a speaker, and the hon. gentleman who moves the motion will have the right to close it. The debate will end tomorrow afternoon at 5:00 p.m., a one-day debate, in my understanding, unless the House - that's fine.

AN HON. MEMBER: The ordinary rules.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend, the Leader opposite, says the ordinary rules. Well, the problem is they are not the written rules. We will have to address that at some point during this session.

Mr. Speaker, I understand there has been a request made, through you, of the House, to bring cameras in tomorrow afternoon for the purpose of televising the debate. We, on this side, are prepared to do that, provided that the media will undertake and this will be no surprise to my hon. friends opposite; I have met behind the Chair with my friend from Grand Bank. Provided the media will undertake to run the entire debate, either tomorrow afternoon if that is their wish or at some other time of the media's choosing. It is not for us to say when they should run or even what they should run, but it is for us to say whether we are prepared to change the rules of the House. I speak only for the members on this side, Mr. Speaker, that will be our position with respect to that request, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition -

MR. SIMMS: You do not want to tell him -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

Just to speak briefly to what the Government House Leader has alluded to. We unconditionally support the request of the media to come in to the Legislature tomorrow as we do for the Budget and as we do for the Throne Speech. We as well, would like to see the thing carried live tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, to be very honest but, realizing that there may be some limitations on the media to do that, we welcome them into the Legislature tomorrow to use television cameras, to record, to take pictures and whatever way they want, they are going to carry out of it what they want, Mr. Speaker, and we think that the people of the Province deserve the coverage on this very vital and important issue and I guess, Mr. Speaker, this further emphasizes just how much cover up there is going on with this very issue, that the government of the day, Mr. Speaker, is using tactics to not allow the media into this Chamber tomorrow. That is basically what they are doing, they are putting restrictions on the media from coming in here. They know they cannot meet the government's demands -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - so we want to go on record as saying that, Mr. Speaker, that we fully support the request from the press gallery, the parliamentary press gallery to come in here and take whatever they want from the speeches tomorrow because we think the more exposure to the issue, the better for the people of the Province, and what we are talking here, Mr. Speaker, is the sale of a very important asset that is owned by the people of this Province, so we think we should afford them every opportunity to hear it.

AN. HON. MEMBER: If they can do it, that is fine but do not make it (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You are giving it away. No it is not a sale, it is a give away, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time is now five o'clock, are we agreed to stop the clock?

AN HON. MEMBER: Stop the clock.

MR. SPEAKER: I will recognize the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The issue of television and media in general in the House, is one that the NDP has been always very interested in and we stand behind the principle that all debates in the House of Assembly ought to be broadcast and available to the public, not just as private member's debate but every private member's debate, every Question Period, anything that is important enough to be brought up in the Legislature, is important enough to be broadcast on the media, we would favour that. We do not really like the idea of the media picking and choosing the times they would like to come, but this issue is one of prime importance to the people of this Province and it is an issue that the government has chosen to negotiate behind closed doors, despite the Premier's position on Meech Lake and other issues on a national level, so it is all the more reason why this debate which is going to take place tomorrow ought to be taking place in front of the media and I, as the Leader of the New Democratic Party, would support the position taken by the Official Opposition of the unconditional support of the media being present here in the House tomorrow afternoon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, now that we have had the ritual posturing from gentlemen opposite, let me simply, before I move the adjournment of the House, note once again that this government are committed to a proper process whereby the television cameras are allowed in this House. That has been dealt with by a committee in the last House, and we are prepared to move forward on the terms and understanding set out at that time with respect to that matter.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with that said -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman from Grand Falls once again proves - no, let me in a spirit of charity not say that.

Let me move, Mr. Speaker, that the House do now adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I entertain the motion -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before I entertain the motion to adjourn, that is not the way I understand the comments in the House. I understand that the government has said it is prepared to allow the media to televise, provided it agrees to do it either live tomorrow or agree that at some point it will.

I understand that the members to my right have agreed with that, although you would want to give them full access. So is there a common denominator -

MR. SIMMS: We want them to come in, as per their request.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, but is there a common denominator -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have to deal with the issue, so if members will give me a little time to understand what the position is. As I hear both sides of the House, it appears to me that if the media will agree to televise the proceedings in their entirety at some point, then they are welcome to come in tomorrow. Is that agreeable to the opposition?

MR. SIMMS: That is not our position. Our position is to respond (inaudible) to their request, which was to have the cameras in here tomorrow. We support and we agree with that - period.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, go ahead.

MR. SIMMS: It is unconditional.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) that the media drop in and out and cherry pick what they want.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I did my friend from Grand Falls the courtesy -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - of listening to him in silence. Would he do me the same courtesy?

Mr. Speaker, the government are prepared, upon the appropriate terms as we have set two or three years ago, to allow the television media into the House. We are not going to allow them to drop in and out at their convenience. We exist for the convenience of all of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, not simply the media, which is one of the means through which we reach them. We are prepared, as Your Honour has said, to allow them to come in tomorrow if they will undertake to broadcast the entire debate on the motion, from start to finish, either tomorrow live or at some other time of the media's choosing, Sir.


Is that position agreeable to the Opposition or not, I guess, is my concern.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I want to reiterate once again that we are in favour of the media coming in to -

MR. SIMMS: Whether or not (inaudible) -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Whether or not they're going to show it in its entirety, if they're not going to show any, or they want to take clips.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Now, Mr. Speaker -


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, what are the government members paranoid about?

MR. SIMMS: They're hypocritical.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We allow it for the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker. We have no control over what's carried on the day of the Throne Speech. The Lieutenant-Governor comes in and delivers the Speech. The media carry what they want. There are no controls on it, there are no limitations on it. On the Budget. Is the Government House Leader saying that in future if media is not going to carry all of it in its entirety on Budget Day and Throne Speech they won't be in here? Is that what you're saying?

I guess we want to say, Mr. Speaker, in concluding, that if the Government House Leader and the Premier and the government are going to play those games, I think - once again, it's not going to be in the best interest of the people who we're here to serve, and that's the public, who want to know what's going on here and what's being said here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, our position is that we are willing to accept the request of the media to come on the floor of the Legislature tomorrow, without any restrictions or limitations on them whatsoever.

MR. SPEAKER: The government is placing a condition on it. Is the Opposition now saying that if the government continues to place a condition on it you're not prepared to agree to have it broadcast (inaudible)?

MR. SIMMS: Conditional or no condition (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Just so I know, because I do have to reply to the letter, obviously.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I want to say this. It is my belief that the government knows, and knew before today, that the request, particularly to the two television networks, could not be met. That they could not come here and carry this in its entirety. They're playing a damned game today, Mr. Speaker, a damned game.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: All I'm saying is, there were contacts made with the media, Mr. Speaker, from the Premier's office. They know that what they're requesting cannot happen. So we're saying, let the media in and carry whatever they want out of tomorrow. That's our position.


The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea what the Opposition may know or may not know. I know what I know, and I will say - and I am the minister charged with the responsibility of speaking for the government in the House on this type of matter - the first I heard of this was about quarter of two this afternoon. I don't know when requests were made or anything else. 'Tis not for people to request of me. I will simply say what I know about it.

I have set out the governments position. Anytime the hon. gentlemen opposite want to sit down and discuss the best way to provide the television media have access to this House, on terms acceptable to the House, we are more than prepared to do it. We happen to believe that the truth shall make ye free. That is what we say in the House, it is what we say outside and that is why we were returned in the last general election. Now I have stated our position. Unless this is going to get into a debate, perhaps I should sit down and Your Honour can sum up, assuming you have an understanding of where we stand, then we can go on with, I guess, the adjournment. It is the order of business right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Well I need some clarification because the governments position is the narrower of the three I have heard. So if I go to the media and the media does accept the obligation to broadcast it in full at some point -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I would support that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: You would support that. Yes, I just want to be clear. So I can go to the media and say yes, you can broadcast providing you give an undertaking to do it in its entirety at some point and I presume from that they will be allowed to excerpt parts of the debate for news coverage. Correct?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We are certainly not opposed to that. If the media can carry it in its entirety, than by all means we totally support it but what we are saying is that our support for the request -

MR. SPEAKER: - would be fuller and broader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - is not contingent upon the media being able to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: True, I understand.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We are saying, allow them on the floor of the legislature tomorrow to do whatever they want to do, to carry whatever they want to carry, to quote whoever they want to quote, to take pictures of whoever they want to take pictures of without that restriction but if they are willing to come in and carry it in its entirety, we certainly agree with that. We would not be opposed to that if we agree with them coming in and doing whatever they want.

MR. SPEAKER: Fine, thank you. I have one further question for the Government House Leader: I take it as well that if they meet your condition they will also be allowed to excerpt part of this for news coverage and so on? Because that is part of their request as well. I think they want to excerpt part of the debate for news coverage.

MR. ROBERTS: The problem really is that we are dealing with a proposal that is apparently in written form that I have not seen.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, perhaps I could read the letter.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have had a phone call and I have had a conversation with my hon. friend.

MR. SPEAKER: If I could read the letter. It is from Mr. Letto who is President of the Press Gallery. It is directed to me and says: I am making a request on behalf of the Press Gallery Association to allow television cameras and still photographers in the Chamber for tomorrow's private members' debate on the Hydro/Fortis merger talks. This request does not entail live coverage but rather employs taping for normal news and current affairs use. As you are aware this is the first legislative debate on a contentious public policy issue and we feel the people of the Province will be well served to see and hear their elected representatives debate this issue. We realize this is short notice to get consent from the various caucuses but it was not possible to act earlier as notice was only given yesterday - the letter is dated today, of course - we look forward to your reply.

Let us understand that they are looking to excerpt part of the coverage and the government is concerned that it be broadcast in its entirety. I think I would have to answer whether or not, if they meet the condition for coverage in its entirety, that they also be permitted to make excerpts for news coverage and so forth. I do not know what the government's position is on it.

MR. ROBERTS: As I heard the request read the media were asking to come in and to excerpt, I forget the word that was used by the President of the gallery, and our position is that they must undertake to broadcast it in its entirety.

MR. SPEAKER: Does that preclude excerpts?

MR. ROBERTS: If hon. gentleman opposite will let me finish instead of playing these childish little games they get the urge to play from time to time. Obviously, if it is taped, or filmed, whatever the method is, in its entirety, people are at liberty to take portions of that and do whatever they wish with them. We have no copyright on it or anything foolish like that, but we would say that we would expect and only accept an undertaking that it be broadcast in full. Now, supposing we said 4:00 o'clock in the morning - but the media do not play the childish games that I heard hon. members opposite play.

MR. SPEAKER: So I will advise the media that the House is prepared to agree to allow the media to come in and use still photographs and also to televise it, or record it I should say, provided they give an undertaking to broadcast it in its entirety at some point and they will also be free to excerpt what portions they wish for news and current affairs usage.

Is that the position of the House?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that's the condition of the government. If the media meets the condition they can come in and record it by television.

MR. SULLIVAN: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: That is dictating the agenda of the media and limitations on freedom of the press on what they should carry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SULLIVAN: They're trying to set the agenda for what the media can carry out of what they record. That's improper. They tape and record proceedings here in this House and they decide what airs.


MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Yes. Just a query to the Government House Leader's position, Mr. Speaker, as to whether or not this requires The Evening Telegram, for example, to publish the debate in its entirety as well, under his condition.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we're talking here about a change in the rules of the House. Let's not get carried away. We're talking about a change in the rules of the House. I could give hon. gentlemen and ladies if they wish a disquisition on the history of reporting in parliament but I don't think anybody's the least bit interested in that at this stage, so I don't propose to.

I don't mind the cheap shots from my friend for St. John's East, I'm used to those. That's why he's alone down there, and may well be alone for a long, long time to come. I don't mind the ritual posturing by gentlemen opposite, because when they have nothing of substance to talk about all they can get up is ritually - and including the rude Vicar of Bray. The Vicar of Bray. I must look up the poem. The Vicar of Bray, who hasn't even got the courtesy, forget the good sense, to allow a member who has been recognized by the Chair to make the remarks without being interrupted. The Vicar of Bray brays again.

Now, Your Honour, we've been asked for a change in the rules of the House. We have said we're more than prepared to do it. We've said the conditions. If the House is minded to change the situation so that instead of the media having access through the print media and through the audio media only, and we want to arrange to have cameras in here on a permanent basis, the government have dealt with this some years ago. We stand by that position. We're prepared to move ahead with it on the same understandings that we set down at that time.

There's really nothing more to be said in my understanding, Mr. Speaker, so with that said I shall sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's East asked a very legitimate question, as far as I'm concerned, to the Government House Leader. He failed to respond to it. That simply is, tomorrow, under this private member's resolution that I introduced to the House, the request for the electronic media, or the cameras, to come in here and to carry it, to carry a portion of it, or parts of it, whatever the case may be.

Now why is the government against CBC and NTV television networks coming in here and doing what VOCM, The Evening Telegram, KIXX, and all of the other news media outlets have the right to do what they want to do, how they choose to do it, yet we have a request from the television media to come in and do exactly the same. The request is for the television media to do exactly the same as what the print media and what the audio media have been doing in this Legislature.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not think -

AN HON. MEMBER: Give it up, boy. Sit down.

MR. TOBIN: I say to the minister, I will not sit down. What you have to hide, and what the Minister of Justice has to hide is not an issue here. That will be an issue for another day, I say to the member, but there is a request here by the media to come in and to televise this House, and the men and women opposite are saying `no' to that request at the same time they are saying `yes' to the print media and the audio media.

Now, Mr. Speaker, they cannot have it for one and not for the other, and if this government has nothing to hide on this Private Members' Resolution then allow them in, and if they have something to hide, deny them the right to come to this Assembly.

So I would say, `smarten up', Mr. Speaker; let the people of Newfoundland and Labrador see what is going on as it relates to this cooked-up deal between two or three over there and Fortis shareholders. Let's get on with it and never mind the lackey from the Premier coming down here, dictating to the Government House Leader what takes place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

I have heard the positions of both sides. I do not think I need to hear anything further, except from the House Leaders. I will advise the media accordingly. I did not take the government's position to be that live coverage or broadcasting would include full reproduction in The Evening Telegram.

The motion before the House is to adjourn.

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