November 26, 1993         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLII  No. 23

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Near the end of 1991, a handful of men from southern Ontario decided they had a responsibility for urging men to speak out about violence against women. They decided a white ribbon - worn the first week of December leading up to the anniversary of the massacre of fourteen women at the Université de Montreal engineering school - would be a symbol of men's opposition to men's violence against women.

The White Ribbon was chosen as a symbol of opposition to men's violence against women because of its visibility and availability. The colour white universally represents images of peace, and most people, without even knowing it, have white ribbon available somewhere in their homes.

After this initial success in raising awareness, the group decided it wanted to carry out in-depth educational work to reach boys and men everywhere in the country. The goals of the White Ribbon Campaign are to help stimulate reflection, discussion and analysis leading to personal and collective action among men to take responsibility for working alongside women and contributing to ending men's violence. To accomplish this goal, the group has:

1. Embarked upon conducting the White Ribbon Campaign to increase public awareness of the issues of men's violence, and it is also

2. Supporting the work done by women and women's organizations on the issue of men's violence against women.

The recent release of a report on violence against women by Statistics Canada re-emphasizes the importance of these goals.

This year, between November 27 and December 3, the White Ribbon Campaign will once again attempt to get as many men and boys as possible to wear white ribbons during that week. The group is encouraging men to get out and talk to men in schools, workplaces and places of worship about the problems of violence. This campaign of men is aimed at men. At the same time, women are encouraged to wear ribbons as a show of support and to offer feedback on the group's actions. On December 6 itself, the organizers of the White Ribbon Campaign are asking men to step back and listen to the voices of women on this day of grief, anger and remembrance.

Today I urge all members of this House of Assembly to endorse the activities of the White Ribbon Campaign, and also to participate by wearing a white ribbon during the week of November 27 to December 3.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We join with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations today in endorsing the White Ribbon Campaign. We also urge all members of the House of Assembly to become more involved in educating themselves on the issue of violence against women, and once again we encourage all members of the House of Assembly to become more involved in the White Ribbon Campaign itself.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member for St. John's East, have leave of the House?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier some questions dealing with the proposed sale of Newfoundland Hydro. A quick check with the records of the Toronto Stock Exchange looking at how Fortis has performed over the past number of months, in fact back to July, shows that average daily trading was about 2,500 shares per day on the average, obviously it varies each day, then all of a sudden, starting around October, we had some considerable trading taking place, as much as 10,000 shares trading on October 18 and similar amounts on the 4 and 12 of November, some increased activity, and you know this is probably natural in view of the speculations surrounding the proposed sale.

We also note, however, that the value of the shares have increased by more than three dollars per share, that is over 11 per cent increase in the last four months; that is a pretty handsome return on investment. Obviously those who have shares in Fortis have benefitted greatly. Would the Premier like to tell us what action he has taken to ensure that those who are involved in this proposal, namely, obviously, officials of government and officials of Fortis who are the only people who know the intricate details of what is being proposed and what the ramifications might be down the road, will he tell us what action he has taken to ensure that none of those people use that information to benefit themselves or associates by getting involved in trading in shares of Fortis?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I have taken all the action I could take. When the question first arose within the Hydro Board of Directors and they made a recommendation to the Planning and Priorities Committee, I instructed P & P immediately: everybody here consider yourself an insider; do not buy or sell, either one, Fortis shares because they are traded on the public stock exchange. You would be an insider and it would be inappropriate for you to be trading at this point in time without disclosing all of the information you know as being the basis for your trading.

When it was brought to Cabinet and the proposal was brought to Cabinet, I made exactly the same statement to Cabinet: if anybody here has any Fortis shares, as of now, you ought not to trade, buy or sell, Fortis shares. Then when I asked the five individuals who I asked to give me advice to consider these recommendations, I said to each one of them: I remind you gentlemen, that as of now, you have inside information and any trading would leave you subject to charges in respect of insider trading. It would be inappropriate for you to trade, buy or sell, Fortis shares.

Everybody who came into any kind of information prior to the public statement being made, on every occasion that I was responsible for giving information to anybody, I cautioned anybody that if they had any shares, or had any interest in Fortis shares, not to be involved in any trading of Fortis because it could leave them susceptible. I have no idea what, if anything, people directly with Fortis did. The stock exchange would monitor their actions and they would be responsible for anything they did in connection with Fortis shares.

I was concerned in terms of the initial statement that was being made and I wanted to make sure that it was made in a cautious way and that it did not create any idea that Fortis was going to get any great benefit from this, because they are not. This is going to be a totally fair proposition, if in fact a merger does take place, and it may not take place. There is no agreement to get beyond stage one yet with Fortis, I have to tell members of the House, so a merger may not take place. It may be a stand-alone privatization, depending on whether or not agreement is reached, but I was concerned that people not give the impression that Fortis is going to somehow be a great company to invest in and cause people to invest, and then when they realize there is no windfall for Fortis and shares go back down again, cause people to lose. I am concerned about anybody making outrageous statements that would cause people to invest in Fortis when there is no point in doing it, except for the smart people on the stock exchange who might invest for a moment, get out right away, and leave innocent people holding the bag and taking the loss. I was concerned that that not occur and I tried to make sure that everybody act cautiously.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, I accept what the Premier said, that he did not want to make any inflammatory statements, but nevertheless the facts support themselves, that there has been an 11 per cent increase in the value of those shares over the past four months. If that were to continue that would be 33 per cent in one year, a very handsome increase in value, in addition, I assume, to any dividends that would have been payable, which average around 13 per cent I understand on those particular stocks. So it is fair to say that anybody who has had shares and who has disposed of them in the last number of weeks obviously has benefitted very greatly. The Premier said he had directed P & P. What direction has he given the rest of the ministers of Cabinet? What direction has he given the rest of his caucus? What action has he taken to discuss with Fortis the same possibilities and what have they taken? Would the Premier table any directives that he has issued or that he may be aware the senior people of Fortis have issued to their staff?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Every group that I met with, Cabinet, caucus, the individuals I asked to give the government advice on the matter, I alerted each one in time. And most of them knew, didn't need my telling them that, but I felt I had a responsibility to do it anyway. I sort of felt guilty telling fellows like Gordon MacDonald or Vic Young, but I told them anyway because I felt it was appropriate to do so. My recollection is we advised caucus before a public statement was made and I advised caucus of the same thing. As to a formal position with respect to Fortis or anybody outside of government, the only parties to whose attention I have drawn that matter are governmental public servants and political people in government. I mean, I can't issue a directive to people at Fortis. I can issue, and I don't need to do it - I can make the statement to the senior people at Hydro, but I have no basis for doing it to people at Fortis or anybody else. They have to answer to the stock exchange regulation, that is, the company that is listed on the stock exchange, and they, in particular, would be scrutinized for any insider trading if they were involved.

Now, as for the value of shares - and I apologize to the member, I had sort of forgotten about that part of his question when I answered his first question. As to the value of Fortis shares, since July what has been the general increase in the stock exchange, 20 per cent?

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, 20 per cent - utilities -

PREMIER WELLS: Thirteen per cent, more than the general increase in the stock exchange.

MR. ROBERTS: Fortis is yielding - not as well as other utilities is the answer.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't - pardon me?

MR. ROBERTS: It has not done as well as other utilities.

PREMIER WELLS: Fortis hasn't done as well as other utilities. So there has been, as the hon. member is aware, since July, quite a significant increase in the stock exchange average of the share prices and I suspect the overall has probably been as much as or more than Fortis. I don't know, I would have to look at it, but it doesn't appear to be inordinate. Now, if there might be a bump in any one day of, say allotted shares, 10,000 instead of say 2,500 which might be the daily average, I suppose you could go back numerous times last year and find a similar occasional bump like that when somebody may have been buying or selling a larger block of shares.

I don't think there has been any inordinate trading - I have seen no indication that there has been, and I suspect the increase in Fortis shares - I must have it checked, as a matter of interest - but my guess is that it probably hasn't been significantly out of whack with the normal.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, there have been a couple of bumps. In fact, there have been three or four bumps in the last month, and they certainly are very significant when you look at what has happened over the past four or five months. I only went back, I admit, to June, but the average was around 2,500; the maximum would be around 4,500 shares. All of a sudden you get three or four days of over 10,000 shares being traded. The question needed to be asked; let me put it that way.

Can the Premier tell us then - he has made these statements - are there any procedures in place to monitor what might be taking place? I accept what he is saying, that the stock exchange monitors private corporations, but I think it behooves Fortis to monitor their own staff as well, and it certainly is the responsibility of the Premier to monitor what may be taking place within his own caucus. Are there any procedures in place to monitor what might be done?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: As to the public announcement, of course, everybody had the information, but anybody who is involved, anybody who is in P & P or in Cabinet, should not be trading in any share listed on the public stock exchange that could be affected - not only in this transaction - by any transaction. That is improper inside trading and most people know it.

Now, I don't go and check the private bank accounts and the private stock accounts of people every day, but remember, we have a Conflict of Interest Act and everybody has to report to the conflicts commissioner their shareholdings, every year, and the conflicts commissioner will be very much aware of who owns what shares, who acquired them and when, because that is part of the reporting, so that if any of that occurs, the conflicts commissioner will ultimately be aware of it, and it is the conflicts commissioner, not I, who does the monitoring.

There is a requirement for individuals to report if they acquire new assets; or if they dispose of assets that they have, there is a requirement to report to the conflicts commissioner, and failure to do that brings the penalties of the act; and if it happens to be somebody sitting in this House, it could probably mean the loss of the seat in this House, if it contravened the act. So the system is there. It is inappropriate for me to be thinking about monitoring that on a personal basis. The conflict commissioner does that. He is the one who should do it.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to return to the Minister of Justice and his conflict of interest declaration, an issue that I pursued yesterday. According to the minister's statement he is a director and equal shareholder, I think with his two brothers, in a company that has controlling interest in Elizabeth Drugs, which in turn is the sole owner of Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited. I want to ask the minister, have these interests been placed in a blind trust, or is he still active and continuing to participate in the direction of those companies?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. gentleman for giving me a chance again to deal with these matters. My brothers and I, being the only children of our parents, twenty-five years ago set up a company called Pond Head Limited, which is a Newfoundland company. That company bought the controlling interest from my father - and for an appropriate price, given that it was a non-arm's length transaction - twenty-five years ago bought controlling interest in a company called Elizabeth Drugs Limited, which then owned and operated a number of retail drug stores around St. John's.

Elizabeth Drugs Limited subsequently went into the wholesale drug business through a subsidiary called Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited. I had an active part in the management of that until I accepted the Premier's invitation to join his Cabinet. I resigned as a director of Elizabeth Drugs. I still hold shares in Elizabeth Drugs. I am still a director of Pond Head Limited, which is simply a holding company, and I take no active part. Elizabeth Drugs and Pharmaceutical are run by professional management, as they have been for years, a gentleman named Mr. Ed LeDrew who is an extraordinarily capable business person and has done a very good job.

That was one question. The second is, the shares are not in a blind trust. There's no requirement they be in a blind trust, they are not in a blind trust. I can say to my hon. friend, if he thinks about it for a moment, there's no point in putting them in a blind trust because there's no way to dispose of those shares. This is a private company in which, as I say, my brothers and I hold a controlling interest.

There's no secret in that again. If he goes back to my previous stint in the House, back in the '70s, or the '60s, he will find that one of his predecessors, a man named Mr. William Marshall, who is now a judge in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, raised the matter in the House one night. I dealt with it then, as long ago as sixty - sorry, not sixty years ago; it seems that long - twenty-five years ago, and we dealt with it. I was then the Minister of Health.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess as the minister is aware, each year government purchases approximately $9 million by public tender, or standing order - most of it by far by standing order - about $9 million value or worth of pharmaceutical supplies. About $6.3 million of that $9 million over the last number of years has been purchased from Pharmaceutical Supplies. Most of it by standing order.

I want to ask, and say to the minister, that's an unusually high volume of business that's going every year to a company that's owned outright by the minister and his family, in which he himself is a principal shareholder and active director, as he really basically just told us.

How is it possible for the minister to participate in policy decisions on virtually any aspect of our health care system when he himself is such a substantial beneficiary of government decisions about the health care system?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is possible because it is: a) proper, and b) lawful. That's the full answer but let me go on to try to remove the cloud of innuendo that slithers across the floor of the House again today.


MR. ROBERTS: Resign? I will resign only if I have done something wrong. If the hon. gentleman had had the courage to resign when he was part of a government that refused to meet the House and yet consistently kept pledging the credit of the Province but never dared bring it before the Legislature, as one of his colleagues at the time had courage to resign - Mr. Power - then he could speak.

Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the situation. I have no idea whether Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited buys one dollar or $1,000 or $100,000 or $1 million, I have no idea - I'm sorry, supplies, one dollar or whatever to the government of this Province. Any business that is done by Pharmaceutical Supplies with the - there's none done with the Department of Justice, I can tell him that. There is none done with the Department of Justice, or any agency for which I report or answer to this House.

Any other business that may be done between Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited and the government of this Province is done in accordance with the Public Tender Act and the proper and appropriate and lawful procedures.

I have no idea where the hon. gentleman gets these numbers. They may or may not be correct.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They are.

MR. ROBERTS: I don't doubt it. I don't know. The truth of the matter is, I do not know.

AN HON. MEMBER: Check it out.

MR. ROBERTS: Why would I check it out? I am not running Pharmaceutical Supplies. Is the hon. gentleman running the fish plants? I do not know if he is or not, and I do not care. What I do know -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Of course I own it.

Mr. Speaker, it turns out that the real offence, of course, that I have committed, is having the effrontery to have, over the years, been part of one or two business enterprises founded by my father forty years ago - forty-five years ago. Now what a terrible, shameful thing that is, I say, Mr. Speaker, to the House, and to the people of this Province - a terrible, shameful thing.

My father managed to start a little business with the then partner, Mr. Elwood MacDonald, who has since been deceased, and it has become quite a successful company.

I was looking the other day at a magazine called Atlantic Business, I think it was called, and Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited had become the fifty-first largest company in Atlantic Canada, ranked by sales. Now that is a terrible crime and a scandal. It is a terrible shame, to hear the hon. gentleman opposite speak.

Mr. Speaker, Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited does business with the government - does business lawfully, properly, openly, and in accordance with the Public Tender Act adopted, I may add, by a previous administration, a Progressive Conservative administration, and reinforced and applied properly by this administration.

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

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

No, Mr. Speaker, it is not a shame that the minister's father started a business that was successful. What is a shame is that this minister sits at the Cabinet table making decisions about the health care system of this Province, by which he is going to benefit directly, I say to him. That is what is the shame, and that is what is wrong with this whole situation.

Now the minister did not say, as he said yesterday, about Fortis and NEWTEL, that he excuses himself from discussions about those other matters, so I take for granted that the minister does participate, and sits at the Cabinet table, talking about health care decisions that he benefits directly from himself because of the amount of business his company is doing with government, of which he is a minister.

I want to question the Premier, Mr. Speaker. I am sure the Premier is very familiar with Section 21 of the House of Assembly Act, the conflict of interest legislation, where it says: A member shall not make, or participate in making, a decision in his or her capacity as a member where the member knows, or ought reasonably to know, that in the making of the decision there is an opportunity to further, directly or indirectly, a private interest of the member or the member's family.

Now that is the section of the act that should come into effect here, where the Minister of Justice is sitting, being involved in discussions about the health care system is benefitting himself, as I have just shown; $6.3 million of $9 million goes to the minister's company, and consequently the minister gets a share of that.

Surely, I say to the Premier, he can see the fact of the conflict in this situation - not the potential conflict, but the fact -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I will get to the question, I say to the Premier. Just relax a bit, now.

I want to ask him, Mr. Speaker: In light of the revelations put forward yesterday about Fortis, the minister's interest in Fortis and NewTel, and the situation portrayed to the Premier today, about the minister's involvement in Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited, will he now take the appropriate action, enforce his own conflict of interest regulations, which he defended and was so proud of just a few short months ago, because I say to the Premier: This is a test of your integrity, Mr. Premier, and will you demand the minister's resignation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The simple answer is, `no', but I have to correct the terrible wrong statements made by the hon. member. Now that they failed to make an intellectual argument on merit against privatization, they have turned to character assassination, and this is what this is - nothing any more than that.

The conflict of interest regulations are enforced to the full, which was not done when the member sat in the former government - when they were not done - when the Minister of Finance sat and had an interest in companies renting directly from his (inaudible). They were not done. They are enforced to the full.

No minister sits at the Cabinet table and makes any decision, or participates in any decision, that benefits him or her. If they do, their resignation is required immediately.

Now, the mere fact that the hon. member says it was such a decision does not make it so. That is where the falsity is. His position is quite simply wrong, and it is terribly wrong for them to now seek to try and head off privatization by character assassination. Have they no sense of integrity at all? Do they not realize the responsibility they have not only to individual members about whom they are speaking, to the House as a whole and to the Province as a whole, to act and speak responsibly when they stand on their feet and make statements in this House? I mean, the mere fact that it is protected against attack by libel and slander laws, that we have the freedom to speak, places on each of us an even greater onus to make sure that what we say, we can justify, and it is quite improper for any member of this House to seek to assassinate; it is quite improper for any member of this House to seek to assassinate the character of any other member for the purpose of furthering their political objective.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Mr. Abery.

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I expressed with respect to Mr. Abery, my lack of confidence in his judgement. I reaffirm my lack of confidence in Mr. Abery's judgement. I did not have any great level of confidence in him when he reported and I met with him, I have a similar level of lack of confidence now, that I had then. I say nothing about Mr. Abery's character, it is a question of my confidence in his judgement and it is not at a high level, I can assure hon. members, and I have every right and responsibility to express that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, I would say about 85 per cent of the people of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to know if any minister sits at the Cabinet table and makes the decision in respect of any matter that confers a benefit, because I want that minister's resignation immediately. It is only the hon. member's false statement that the member -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, it is not a false statement (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: It is a false statement and it is irresponsible for the hon. member to do it.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

My question is to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

Does he plan to hold public hearings on the act, "An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act," throughout the Province, and if so, when does he plan the hearings and how long will the process take place?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly appreciate the question from the hon. member.

The direct amendments that are on the Order Paper have now been referred to the Legislative Review Committee, and that review committee is chaired by the hon. Member for Trinity North, I believe?


MR. GRIMES: I understand from the chair that the committee has met and they are planning to publicize and seek the wishes of the people as to who would like to come and make a submission about those specific changes. Then there is the further issue to be dealt with in the next week or so I understand, and then there is the issue of what further review of the legislation the Province overall - that will be conducted later on and maybe the hon. member might like to ask about that as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I say to the minister, I am fully aware of the committee's meeting yesterday and the decision made to hold public hearings. I guess the real point of this discussion is that this legislation will have significant, significant impact into the economic relationships of employers, employees, both with government and in the private sector; it will have significant impact into the social and economic relationships between rank and file union members, whether it be from large public sector unions or small construction unions and I say to the minister: is it his plan and his government's plan to bring this legislation in this House before this sitting is over, to have it passed, or is he committed to having a full scale review which would allow the maximum public input in this very important issue?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The immediate issue which addresses the idea of ballots relating to certification, decertification and strikes, it is clearly the intention of the government that after the review committee finishes its work with it that we expect that it is going to be possible for the committee to bring its report back to the House before we leave for the Christmas break, and that we will have an opportunity to debate the merits of the case, the pros and cons in the Legislature before Christmas, and that we expect further that it is in all likelihood that the bill as it is now worded or amended in some fashion, it is our expectation that it should pass this Legislature before Christmas.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: I submit to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations that I have discussed this particular issue with both employers and employees and they are unaware and are not fully aware of the impact that this legislation will have on the relationships governing the employer and employee relationship. So I ask the minister, I implore the minister, will he say today that he will hold public hearings across the Province? Will he hold them in January, February and March, and at the next sitting of the House bring this legislation back so that the public can have a fuller impact into this very controversial and very important legislation? Will he commit to the House and to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador today to do that?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member mentions relationships, there is nothing in the proposed amendments that has anything to do with relationships. The proposed amendments deal specifically with procedures. As a matter of fact in our opinion it is pretty well impossible for the government to legislate relationships. They are built on trust, understanding and dialogue. We can only put in place the legally required procedures that are to be followed. The relationships that flow out of people going through those procedures are usually of their own making and I think there may very well be a discussion some time in the future as to the relationships that exist and the need to further revise some of the labour legislation in the Province to try and make sure that people feel that they are being treated fairly by law and there will be an opportunity for that discussion but we certainly feel in these specific procedural amendments that will come before the House in a week or so, that this is not of such significance as the hon. member points out or is trying to point out this time, that this is not the major type of thing that some members have been saying, some members of the public, some members of the unions and so on, have been suggesting that maybe this is one of the most critical pieces of legislation ever to affect labour relations in the Province. We don't share that assessment and I am sure that as the debate goes on, in terms of these procedural changes that we are bringing forward, that we will all get an opportunity to fully explore that kind of issue in the debate.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The federal government through ACOA has completed a study of how the assets at the Argentia base can be put to use to stimulate new investment and job opportunities in the area. The former federal government had agreed to begin implementation of the reuse plan almost immediately. Has the Province agreed to participate in this plan and how much is the Province prepared to contribute?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I have to confess that my attention was diverted when the hon. member stood up first and I did not get the full impact of his question but I understand it to be: Has the present government agreed to implement a reuse plan that had been developed some years ago in respect to the Argentia naval base when it is closed out?

MR. CAREEN: (Inaudible) a reuse study. Some people from the Province, the federal government and some local people in the district.

PREMIER WELLS: The matter of Argentia is under - I was going to say active consideration but that is not so - it is under active handling and the government is extensively involved in several aspects of it right at this moment. One of which involves proper compensation for the employees that will be terminated. Another involves clean up of the environment and for many adverse environmental usage that occurred during the period of the time the Americans were there and making sure that there will remain future responsibility for that clean up.

A third aspect of it is title to the property and getting it in such a manner that we can use it for effective economic activity in the future and that takes us into the reuse plan that has been developed and discussed. We have put proposals to the federal government. We put it to the former government, we have since made a similar proposal to the present government, I discussed it with Mr. Tobin and Mr. Massé when I met with them about two weeks ago about the possibility of developing a foreign trade zone at Argentia. We think it would be an ideal site to develop a foreign trade zone because of the harbour, the airfield facilities, because of the other buildings around, and it would be an ideal time to do that. We are endeavouring to get the use of the property to an extent that will enable us to develop such a foreign trade zone if we can get the approval of the national government to do it. We were not able to get the approval of the former Conservative Government and I don't know whether there will be a change in national policy now.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. OLDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to present the report of the Government Services Committee. The committee met on November 25 and we approved the following bills for passage through the remaining stages of debate here in the House of Assembly:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act." (Bill No. 25)

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

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

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill No. 39)

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act." (Bill No. 33)

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

Thank you, Sir.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, could we proceed with the Address in Reply, please?

MR. SPEAKER: The Address in Reply. The hon. the Member for Humber Valley, I believe, was the last speaker.

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to make a few short comments on the Throne Speech, 1993. When one of my colleagues got up yesterday he said, `What in the heck am I going to speak on for half-an-hour? I won't mention his name. He was writing notes for two days and then he got up, never looked at a note, and spoke - I think the Speaker let him go over his time by five or six minutes - he spoke for thirty-five minutes. That is one of the things you gain when you come in here. I remember coming in in 1985, and if you got up to speak for a couple of minutes you were red-faced, sweating, and got the heck down out of it as fast as anything, but now it seems like you come in with no wind and you go out like a windbag!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: What do you call those - Gordon Sinclair used to use them -


MR. WOODFORD: - that musical instrument.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, on a more serious note, most members in the House at some time during their debate on a money bill, the Throne Speech, or whichever, like to take a significant amount of time talking about their districts, and rightly so. I think the Member for Port au Port has given two or three speeches since he came into the House in the spring of the year, and I have to say that I was really impressed. They were very constructive, and he came up with some good ideas. If he can only get some of his colleagues on the other side of the House, especially the people up front, to go along with him, I am sure we will all be the better for it, and not only his constituents but other people around the Province, as well.

I think, what we all get caught up in, in this House, is politics. The ultimate aim of all, I suppose, is power, and that I say to members opposite as well as members here. I said before and I will say again, that there is never anything done in the House of Assembly, the work is in your district. I am convinced that the people of the Province - if this Assembly were ever televised, I would say we all would have run for the last time, because if the people of the Province ever saw what was going on in this Chamber, as far as I am concerned, we would never get elected again; and not only us, but anybody who ever ran, because I don't think people would vote. It is one thing to criticize, it's another to criticize constructively, and the sad thing about it all is that when you do criticize constructively and come up with some good ideas, just because you're in Opposition, or because you're in the back benches or outside, nobody listens.

I don't think it's all really - because I can speak from both sides of it; I was in government, and I have been in Opposition much longer - I don't think it's all intentional. I think it's simply because of the fact that ministers get caught up in the everyday affairs of government and don't have time to deal with the idea brought forward by the Member for Port au Port or the Member for Humber Valley, and so on. And it is sad, because the whole Province suffers.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I go back to the 1989 campaign manual of the Administration today. A lot of promises were made, very few of them kept. Then I talk about another so-called red book of just a few weeks ago, a month ago yesterday. I looked at a red book for about three weeks all during the federal campaign and I said to myself - it was no good to say it publicly, it was useless. Because elections, as far as I'm concerned, and issues, become emotional things and you can't fight emotion with logic.

I say to members opposite today, as well as members on this side of the House, and everybody else, especially in this Province, just take the red book and in a couple of short years - I won't even say four, I say two or less - that not 5 per cent of those promises will be kept. Hon. members opposite and members here, too, can note the day and the time that I am making these statements.

MR. DUMARESQUE: You will see.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, I will see, I say to the Member for Eagle River. I was talking to a good friend of his this morning from Eagle River, a good businessman down there, quite aware of what is going on in the district. I say to the member opposite, yes, we will see, on the federal part of it, but I have seen on the provincial part - five years now, sitting down and waiting for the great, for instance, decentralization that is going to be done by this government. Where is it? What has taken place with regard to decentralization in this Province pertaining to government departments? Tell me.

One thing was done, and that really wasn't decentralization, because that was there. Through Enterprise Newfoundland and the minister opposite under development and trade - the rural development authorities around this Province were out there anyway. The difference is that everything was put in to Enterprise Newfoundland. I said when the bill came in, and I say today, that I agree with it, it was the right thing, one-stop shop. The sad thing about it all, and I suppose a part of it has to be due to the times and circumstances, is that not a heck of a lot of people today out there - and it can't all be blamed on Enterprise Newfoundland, but a good portion of it can.

I was interested the other day in the Premier's statement pertaining to the banks, or the Atlantic Premiers in Gander. Rightly so, it is about time. All of us should, as members, take on the banks, insurance companies, and those big monopolies out there that put me in mind of Newfoundland Light and Power and NEWTEL and so on. They have no social conscience, none. You go into the bank for $100,000 and you want four times that to get it. Big deal! They are looking at physical assets. They never look at the intellectual asset of an individual when he walks into that lending institution. Neither do government departments. The ministers don't see an application coming in from anybody in rural Newfoundland and Labrador or any urban centre in this Province. The bureaucrats see it. They come in with an application. Big deal! A sawmill licence, and a new sawmill company going up in Roddickton or Cormack, or Terra Nova - how is he going to make it on that?

I remember back in 1971, I walked into an office in the Department of Agriculture in this Province and asked for a $10,000 loan on 100 acres of Crown land. Now, you want to see the look on the face of the individual on the other side of the desk! He asked, "Where are you from?" I said, "I am from Buchans." He didn't laugh, and it is a darned good thing he didn't, I tell you that - but that is all he didn't do; he did everything else. I knew - it clicked. All of a sudden it clicked and triggered and everything was turned off - like that. I got no further, simply because as soon as he found out I was from Buchans - and the hon. the minister responsible for forestry and agriculture knows exactly what I am talking about because he is from the community. He is a former Buchaneer - not a buccaneer in the real sense, now - I am not talking about pirates, or anything like that.

And that attitude! I started a business back in 1971, in spite of government. I succeeded, in spite of government, and the same attitude is there today. An hon. member, I think, the Member for Port au Port, brought it up here the other day about attitude. That is still there, if you get an individual who is in there - a lot of individuals have the mind-set and have the idea for business, but they can't put it down on paper. They can't do up the business plan, but they can certainly run the business and they certainly have the ideas, and they get turned off before ever they get a few feet into the office and, Mr. Speaker, that is still the way it is today.

The Member for Port au Port mentioned a good point yesterday about oil exploration. Now, I understand - and the hon. member is in a better position to check it out than I, or get the proper answers - that the Department of Mines and Energy in this Province doesn't have a royalty scheme in place yet for the oil companies. Now, that is one of the reasons, and I got that from a fairly good source, that they are not doing what they should be doing today, and the one that they are recommending is not acceptable to the oil companies.

There are three tracks of leases in the Province ready to go, companies ready to go. Hunt Oil is out in the Port au Port Peninsula - Stephenville area. They are ready to go. We have two other tracks, one on the back of Deer Lake and one in the Parson's Pond area - three leases that are ready to be exercised today, and there is no scheme in place.

I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy, and other ministers opposite, they should get off their butts and put something in place so that those companies can get started. Now, I am talking about the royalty scheme for oil companies in the Province, on land, drilling. I understand that is not in place yet. There have been some recommendations back and forth from oil companies and so on, and the department, but they are not satisfied with the recommendations coming from the Department of Energy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) dairy business.

MR. WOODFORD: The dairy business is good, hon. member, and I say now, `Great - good question'. I was just waiting for it. Because I say that within a few months, this administration will be doing something to make sure that it goes the other way. They are famous for it. If it is not broke, fix it. Go back since 1989 and name some of the things in this Province there was no point whatsoever in touching. If it is working, fool with it. Do everything in your power to fool it up, because it is creating jobs.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not in the dairy industry.

MR. WOODFORD: No, not now. I don't know what the minister will do over the next little while, but I tell you this -

AN HON. MEMBER: Everything (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: That is right, simply because the people in it - government, including every Cabinet minister over there, can't get over their time. They can't get over their time, I tell you that. They know what they are talking about - everybody in the industry knows what they are talking about, and the minister knows what they are talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Sure, good people, and the minister would be the first to take them. One fellow, in particular, the minister would be the first to take, and I know that he would, someone who has been very, very closely associated over the past few years. Any man who is associated with success, the minister will latch on to.

I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, now while we are on the subject, the Member for Terra Nova brought up, yesterday, about the great leaps and bounds taken in agriculture with this great Administration. Well, let me remind the member - the Member for St. George's can certainly get up and back what I am going to say next with regard to the task force on agriculture. What did they do with the hog industry just a short while ago? One of the things that I am talking about - not broke, fix it, and make sure of that. One of the great technological advantages that we had in this country, one of the few pertaining to agriculture, one of the few in the technological end of it, one of the few advantages we had in the agricultural industry in this Province was, we could have had an export. Granted, there were high subsidies paid with regard to the pork producers in the Province, no question, but with regard to the technological part of it, we had great success, and it would have been a success, but that is gone. The minister, in just last year's estimates, when I asked a question about extending the loan board maximums from $75,000 up to $200,000 or $250,000, he told me at that time that by September it would be done. We are now into almost the end of November and I haven't seen any changes to the maximums in the Farm Loan Board. Now, maybe it is pretty close and maybe not, but that would be a great catalyst - that would act as a great catalyst for the department here in the Province.

We are talking about creating jobs. This is one of the areas in agriculture - the Member for St. George's knows it, the Member for Port au Port knows it - there are other members around - the Member for Exploits knows it; that is one of the great areas that we are -the Member for Terra Nova said yesterday and the Member for Port au Port said, as well, where we could expand. In 1949 - the Member for St. George's had it in his report - we were self-sufficient in everything. Just think of it today. And it is alright for people to say, `Oh, yes, but we could produce it more cheaply on the mainland.' Sure, we can produce it - you can take that analogy and go to the mainland and say, `Well, we can produce it more cheaply in the States. We can go to the States -

MR. HARRIS: Resettle the whole Province.

MR. WOODFORD: - and then we could say, `We can produce it more cheaply in Nicaragua.' We can back that right on up, to where? Look around the world today and look at the basic need, food. We can't turn on television, we can't pick up the paper, we can't listen to the radio - all we are hearing is that someone is starving to death. Isn't it a shame when we have a Province and a country with an abundance of food and an abundance of energy? and all we hear when we go and try to do something is, `Well, we can do that somewhere else.' Sooner or later when there is nothing done here, and a prime example of it is in agriculture because, as I said, we were self-sufficient in everything in 1949 and in very few things today. One example comes to mind, and that is in the root crop industry. In potatoes alone, I think we imported last year something like eighty-two million pounds of potatoes. Eighty-two million pounds of potatoes! We don't have to go to anything else.

AN HON. MEMBER: Any grade one potatoes?

MR. WOODFORD: Any what?

AN HON. MEMBER: Any grade one potatoes?

MR. WOODFORD: So, I mean, just stop there and look at the possibilities without going into anything else at all. The possibilities are unreal. You talk about creating jobs! Now, granted, no question, in agriculture you are going to work. Anybody who goes into the agricultural industry and figures that he is going to work eight hours a day and then go home and take it easy, put his feet up, he can forget it. You have to put in before you take out. You have to pay your dues in that industry as well as any other industry.

I have a great agricultural industry in the District of Humber Valley, one of the best in the Province, and we are blessed with great soil and a great climate for agriculture. The further north you go and the more root crop you grow and the best root crop you grow, the better tasting it is - and so it goes. We have great potential. You can go further west -

AN HON. MEMBER: You should have the Sprung greenhouse there. It might have worked there.

MR. WOODFORD: The Sprung greenhouse - I never backed away from the Sprung greenhouse. I took on the Sprung greenhouse in 1989 and I never backed away from it. I met it head-on and I said then as I say today, that only one thing killed the Sprung greenhouse and that was where it went. Any industry today, when it is starting off, whether it is small or large, if you put it under the microscope - I won't say anymore - 95 per cent of the time it is going to fail, but if you leave it alone and let it grow, like putting seed in the ground, let it germinate, and every day go back and cultivate, you cultivate it, nobody sees it, then all of a sudden you look and it is growing. It might get set back every now and again. You might look and say, well, we have had damp weather for a week and the growth is not there, but the next week it comes twice.

MR. FLIGHT: They did that, (inaudible) dollars a year for twenty years.


MR. FLIGHT: They did that. They let it sit there and kept pouring money into it.

MR. WOODFORD: Well, what was done, I am not talking about that. What I am saying is that could have worked.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Sprung greenhouse?

MR. WOODFORD: That is right, and you have no evidence to show that it couldn't except for a couple of horticulturists here in the Province who put their ideas in before, and it was the first time ever they stepped out under the overpass.

MR. SULLIVAN: Lots of these operations are working elsewhere.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, elsewhere. I was there and I saw it work. I saw it work in a lot of small and big operations. What is the thing to do today when people are asking for food? They want it with no sprays, they want it with no insecticides, no herbicides, no nothing. They don't want to have it touched at all with that, and rightly so. Where is the food going to come from? certainly not from the soils of this Province or anywhere else in this country. It is going to come from a greenhouse and that is what is coming. That is the way of the future and whether we like it or not it is coming. One thing we have is a disease-free Province with respect to a greenhouse. What do they say when you talk to anybody in the greenhouse industry in Ontario? You have a greenhouse here, you have a greenhouse in the next province, and as soon as you come across the border, one is infecting the other. That is one of the worst problems they have and Quebec is famous for it. BC is famous for it. They have all kinds of problems. That is one of the advantages we had in this Province. It was here - that is something else I brought up before, and I say again to the minister, another thing something should be done about is the CN ferry that goes across the Gulf. We get there as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and you wouldn't know but we were coming from the planet Mars. We are hosed down. The only thing they don't do is take us in and change our clothes, and I would say if Agriculture Canada had their way, that is not far away; that the humans in the car will have to go through the carwash or shower. Now, when you are coming across the Gulf, coming this way, you can do what you want to and bring in what you want. I mean, isn't it hypocritical and isn't it demeaning? Every time I go there I get into a row, simply because, human nature being what it is, I have to try to unload what is on my chest on the poor individual who is washing the car and I can't help it. But, I mean, it is wrong. It is another example of this Province being put down and there is no need of it. We can show anybody across the Gulf, anybody in another part of Canada, or anybody in the U.S. today how to do it. We can do it, but one of the big things we have to do is change the attitude - that is one of the big things. It is not only the attitude of individuals out there today but the attitude of government ministers and the people who make the decisions, and that is very important. My district, as I said before, is blessed with that. My district is also blessed with a great forestry industry, albeit, it is getting weaker by the day because of the downturn in the forestry industry.

I talked about agriculture and some of the things the minister is responsible for pertaining to the maximums, and I am sure he is going to do that anyway; before he goes out of office, he is going to raise the limits to the Farm Loan Board, I know that.

Regarding forestry, I have to say to the minister opposite, that he is one of those who recognizes the potential of government getting involved with paper companies in the Province, especially with respect to putting in some access roads to help out the jobber, the person working with Kruger or with Abitibi or the person working in the sawmill business. He recognizes that, and he didn't care where it was around the Province, he did it, and I have to give him 100 per cent - no question, I can't fault him at all on his moves in the last four or five years to try to enhance the sawmill industry and the forestry industry in my district and in other areas around the Province. Because there is no question, it is happening in Roddickton, it is happening I think, in the Member for Terra Nova's district, and I am sure she is cognizant of what I am talking about when I talk about forestry, because she has some great sawmillers in her district, successful people, I can tell you that. And the roads and the work done by the Department of Forestry and Agriculture in the last few years - and I always said, if I see something good being done, then you will get the pat on the back, if I see something bad, I will say otherwise, but I will do it constructively, and I must say, especially of the Chouse Brook one now, in Hampden, the community of Hampden today would be dead only for the continuation of Chouse Brook.

Granted, I will go back and say that it was an idea that we had started in 1988-1989, but the minister put the first dollars in there for the access road to start and he kept them coming. And everybody there today in the sawmill industry (inaudible) agreement between Kruger and government, was on a 60/40 basis that anything that is good for pulpwood will go to pulpwood and anything for a saw log will go for a saw log, which is the way it should be done. We have too much land and property tied up in this Province. I don't think, and I would say that the paper companies in this Province should not have jurisdiction and should not have first call on the wood, anyway.

We talk about giving away our resources, they have it. If I want 10,000 feet of lumber or any hon. member in the House or any constituent wants to cut, he has to get a permit from Forestry and Agriculture to cut 10,000 feet or five; nine chances out of ten, today you will not get it because of the demand on the industry in the Province. But the paper companies - you can't build a cabin, you can't go down by the lake and put in a wharf, you can't build a house in a lot of communities. I have two communities in my district, that's it! They are finished now unless they can get land from Kruger or Abitibi-Price to build.

I have people who have no title to their property, absolutely none, and Kruger tells them that they can't get it because it is all tied up for collateral. Now, that is terrible, as far as I am concerned. So that is one of the things that when I say that we have a deal with the paper companies, 60/40, so they should, because the jobs today in forestry in this Province are in the sawmill industry. The Member for the Straits knows what I am talking about as well; he has a sawmill just started recently in Roddickton; well, not started, they took over the Canada Bay Lumber. A company came in and took over the Canada Bay Lumber in the Roddickton area and I understand now, they are doing fairly well with it, they are doing some exports; and it is an export, that is the thing. I mean, the new jobs, every paper company in the Province today, is only going to use X number of cords of wood a year, period; whether there is 200,000 or 300,000 cubic metres, that is all they are using. Once it is cut, wherever it comes from, that is it, but in the sawmill industry, we have great potential. We are not touching it; 80-odd per cent import of lumber into this Province - we have great potential. And this 60/40 deal with - I know the one we have with Kruger in the Chouse Brook and in the White River Roads area in the Cormac area is very significant with regard to jobs.

I have a community in Cormac where the unemployment rate is very, very, very low. You go out and just about everybody has a job, some time during the year they work. Now granted, in the forestry industry it may be that some of it might be seasonal, not because they will not work in the wintertime, they do work in the wintertime, but because the paper companies now, only take on a quota basis, so that cuts them back. So there is some great potential there in the agriculture industry and in the sawmill industry. In the mining industry in my particular area now, Tiara Marble at Goose Arm, I think they are in the process of doing an environmental assessment. That looks very positive. We have people exploring in the Glover Island area of Grand Lake. It looks really good, gold deposits there. In fact, they have found a couple of really good deposits and now they're going to keep on drilling until after Christmas to see if they can find a mother-lode on the island itself. If not, they just might have to go back to the mainland part of the Deer Lake area. There are some great prospects.

In the area, I must say that the whole District of Humber Valley is very blessed. A lot of communities in the Province are one-industry towns. Once there is a downturn in that particular industry they can't go any further and they have to start looking around to try to diversify. We are diversified. We have agriculture, we have forestry, we have the service sector, we have the transportation sector with the airport in Deer Lake, crossroads to the Northern Peninsula and everything going east and west. We have the agricultural industry, like I said, forestry, we have mining. Every industry that you can mention, we have it. Tourism, no nicer - you have to pass through Deer Lake in order to get down to the Viking Trail. It is a great - one business closes down in Deer Lake, and in a few days another has started up. That is a great asset.

I suppose we would all like to have it. Every district would like to have it. Granted, it is not throughout the whole district. The White Bay South part - namely, the Jackson's Arm - Sop's Arm - Pollards Point area, the Jackson's Arm area especially, is dealing primarily with the fishery.

The Member for Port au Port mentioned yesterday that he has had a successful fishing season this year in the Port au Port area, and we did, as well, in the Jackson's Arm (inaudible). There is a real irony in it, because they were on the package, so to speak. Every plant had to have a 10 per cent throughput. When they came to find out that the plant in Jackson's Arm didn't have a 10 per cent throughput of northern cod, they were taken off the package. And it was one of the most successful summers they had in that area, mainly dealing with pelagics and so on. They put a lot of crab through there, they put a lot of caplin through there, mackerel. They are the only plant in the Province that has an offshore quota of squid for winter, 1,000 tons of squid. Whether they are going to be able to take advantage of it this winter or not, I don't know.

There are a lot of things happening there. I am hoping that they will continue. With a bit of, I suppose, inspiration and help from members opposite, and from the government departments opposite especially, those industries will have a chance to grow and provide jobs and security for the people, not only in my area, because there is always a trickle effect, there is always a spin-off, and it helps everybody.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I listened with great interest to the speech of my - I won't call him my seat mate, because he is a little bit of a distance from me, but my colleague for Humber Valley. We may not agree on philosophical points but I always listen with great interest to the speeches of my colleague for Humber Valley. Because he is a very practical man and he always speaks sense about matters involving his district, in particular, matters involving agriculture, which he is very familiar with. He and I have had a number of discussions about these matters.

I think the hon. member has every reason to be proud of his success in the field of agriculture and in the field of management of the public interest, which he took on as a minister of the Crown for a short period of time prior to 1989. I know that what he says about his approach to the Sprung greenhouse, which was a government fiasco of the day - his approach was quite forthright and quite honest, quite open and he acted in the public interest in dealing with that issue when he was faced with it.

I rise to speak in the Throne Speech Debate to bring to members' attention a number of very serious turns that I think this government is taking in several areas. I see a trend developing, and I will mention those areas and some of the decisions that have been made in the past several months that have to do with matters of government policy.

We see a decision on the Outer Ring Road to proceed with that, despite the fact that there are very widespread and strong reasons, and strong opposition, not to proceed with that. Done at the behest, at the last minute, after an enquiry that was headed by a Grand Falls engineer, Mr. Goodyear, called for submissions. Many submissions were made. After the deadline was up we had a submission by a group of businessmen. I say "businessmen," Mr. Speaker, because I don't think there are any women amongst them.

These were individuals, most of whom had a direct, personal or company, pecuniary interest in the road going through. The Dobbins, Ches Penny, a few others who are involved in the road building industry, some involved in land development, others whose personal interests are affected by this. They submitted a brief saying it was absolutely vital, a necessity of our community, the business interests of the St. John's area, to have this road built. The government decided to build the road. That's item number one.

Item number two is the continuing saga of the fish plant in Curling, and Bill Barry and his attempts to prevent successful unionization of his workers. That gave rise to a decision of this government to bring in a piece of legislation through the Minister of Labour under the guise of democracy, to bring in this new labour legislation which is supposed to be dealing with the provision for votes in certifications to make things easier. Supposedly to provide for the secret ballot so that all workers have a say.

It's really designed to support the employers and their labour consultants who wish to have an opportunity to manipulate workers. It's almost a licence to fire people for union organizing. I will get to that in detail in a moment, but I want to pursue the theme first. So the Employers Council and Mr. Barry - Mr. Barry himself defying the law, breaking the law through unfair labour practices. Already he has been found guilty of that and having to pay out $60,000 to fired workers. Breaking the law again and now before the courts for contempt of court by failing to follow orders of the Labour Relations Board filed in the courts.

He and the Employers Council want to see it tougher on unions. They want to see it tougher on unions, and they, under the guise of democracy, are providing a law which would allow employers to go ahead and continue their unfair labour practices and be more effective at it because they're guaranteed another kick at the can by the workers.

The third issue that we see the government responding to employers in the business community is one which I haven't heard a peep out of anyone about since it was made. A decision by the Minister of Environment and the government to cave in to the lobby of the soft drink containers, to cave in to Browning Harvey and say: no, we can't have a law in Newfoundland which is going to protect the environment by insisting that there be returnable soft drink bottles.


MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could protect me from the bleacher creature over there who seems to want to bellow out from the bleachers every chance he gets.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the soft drink manufacturing industry has managed to tell the government what to do. No, we won't have returnable soft drink deposits here. We won't have a deposit system. We won't put up with it. We are issuing instructions to the government, we are lobbying the government, we are deciding what our decision is going to be. We will have an anti-litter campaign. We will say to people in this Province: don't throw these soft drink bottles in the woods, don't throw them in the garbage, bring them in your car or bring them in your truck and bring them out to Nova Recycling and you will get, I don't know, a cent a pound - I am not sure how many bottles it takes.

My wife and I brought a whole truck load of stuff to the Nova Recycling last Saturday, a truck load. It was in the wind, we had to put the tarpaulins on the truck and fill up the back of the pick-up - borrow a truck a do it. We had cardboard boxes, we had soft drink bottles, we had any kind of thing you could recycle that you could take, we brought it in, a whole truck load and do you know what we got? One dollar and forty cents. We said to the people who run Nova: put that on the account of Victoria Park recycling. I was not going to put it in our pocket -put it on the account of Victoria Park recycling in the Member for St. John's South district because at least that organization is out there encouraging the recycling on their own because they believe that it has to be done. They are doing it on their own because they believe that there has to be a recycling program. What is this government doing to help? They might help out an organization like that, and I have no doubt that they will, but that is not going to solve the problem. I will get back to that in a minute because I want to continue on my theme.

Number one, the businessmen of St. John's want to have an Outer Ring Road despite the environmental arguments against it, the government goes along with it. Browning Harvey and the soft drink manufactures say they don't want to have a deposit system. The government goes along with it and destroys any hope of us having a proper deposit system for return of bottles. The employers of the Province do not like the fact that their workers might want to bargain collectively, we want to make it tougher, let's have a new labour bill, and the government responds. Apparently some businessmen in this Province, associated with Fortis Inc., came to the government three or four times, they came to the well three or four times all with the intention - we want to get at the assets of Newfoundland Hydro, how about this part, how about that part, how about something else? The government says no, no, no we will give you all the assets. We won't just give you the rural part, the rural diesel parts, we won't just give you this. We will give you it all. We will throw it all out to you. We will turn around and say: you guys in the business community, we are here, we are going to divest ourselves of this, divest ourselves of responsibility and pass over all of Newfoundland Hydro, forget the public interest, we will let that go to the private interest.

What else do we have? We have the garbage industry, the international garbage industry. Waste management I think they call it, it sounds nicer than garbage and they want access to Newfoundland as a dump. Let's not call it anything else. They might have fancy names for it, hi-tech names for it. They will call it a certain kind of landfill site, they don't even like that anymore because people know what a landfill site is. They have fancy names for it but they want a dump and they think Newfoundland would be a great dump for all of these nauseous chemicals that they cannot seem to get rid of in the United States. They don't seem to be able to get rid of them. So they want a site for this.

Baie Verte is a good possibility, up in Labrador nobody is going to see that - nobody will even smell that up there so they cannot complain about it. The people down in St. John's don't even have to hold their noses. We can dump all of the garbage we like up in Labrador West, a big pit, fill it all up. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations can sit in St. John's and does not even have to hold his nose but the business interests want that. They have all kinds of proposals and they have more backed up. There are probably ten, fifteen or twenty of them backed up just waiting for the first one to get through. The first proposal to bring in garbage, to bring in chemicals, to bring in waste in this Province, just waiting for it to get through, and what is the government doing? They are responding to a call that says: no importation of garbage, let us just change our environmental act. No, no, no, no, they are not. The Premier says: we have a law, we do not have any choice, we have to allow them to present their proposals, we have no choice, it is the law. Well, who makes the law, who makes the law?

The law is made by this very government, who in response to the needs and to the demands of the business community, not the public interest, is saying: we will not change that law and we will force SNAGG, we will force public interest groups, we will force local communities, make them do all the effort, make them play the public watchdog role, force them to go out and try and do combat, hand to hand, with the hired guns of these importers of garbage, these people who desire to dump North America's garbage and industrial waste on our shores, we force them to fight it out.

It is a simple matter to solve, Mr. Speaker. The government just merely passes an amendment to the Environmental Assessment Act, to make it clear that proposals which involve the importation of garbage into Newfoundland and Labrador will not be considered. It is very simple. So there is a theme here, wherein this government, every time it is presented with an opportunity to choose between the public interest and some private interest, some special interest group chooses that private interest, not the public interest.

In Wednesday's Globe and Mail, there was a very interesting article about Hydro-Quebec, and it says about Hydro-Quebec, describes it as: for the last thirty years the driving force of the Quebec economy and the government's key industrial development tool. Hydroelectric power has been used to create jobs for Quebecers in tough times and fosters a legion of home-grown manufacturers and engineers. That was the role that Hydro-Quebec plays in their economy.

Why does this government have no similar vision for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? Why are we prepared to divest ourselves from a public role in hydroelectric generation distribution and all that goes with it, as a large organization capable of generating profits, capable of acting in the public interest, capable of being the engine of our economy, why is that? Because of the concrete mind-set of the Premier, a concrete mind-set that he developed over the years, solidified I am certain when he became Chairman of Newfoundland and Labrador Light and Power several years ago. A solid, rock, concrete mind-set that electrical power should be in private hands not in public hands, and he has taken the agenda of Newfoundland Light and Power with him to this government and wearing his hat as Premier of this Province, is taking that agenda to its logical conclusion and turning over our principal revenue producing asset to the private sector, for no discernible benefit and to give up control of our destiny for the future.

It is no accident, Mr. Speaker, that when the people of Quebec, through what they call their `quiet revolution', when they talked about being `maître chez nous', or `masters in our own house', when the people of Quebec decided they wanted to control their destiny, the first thing they did, and it was done by René Lévesque when he was a Liberal, as a matter of fact, the first thing that they did when they wanted to be masters in their own house was nationalize the hydroelectric resources of the Province of Quebec, and they built Hydro-Quebec. They built Hydro-Quebec to be the engine of their economy, to allow them to take control of their economy. That is what they did.

What do we need more in Newfoundland and Labrador today than some control over our economy, some control over our destiny? What is this government doing? Saying no, we have seen the example of Quebec. We have seen how they have become powerful. We have seen them take control of their own affairs. We do not want any of that. We want to turn it over to the private sector. The Quebec and Ontario bond holders and shareholders don't own enough of this Province yet, says the Premier. The fact that they control Fortis is not enough. We want to turn over to them the control of all of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who owns the Hydro bonds?

MR. HARRIS: Now the bleacher creature over there from St. John's South bellows out about who owns the Hydro bonds. Well it does not really matter who owns the Hydro bonds, because the Hydro bonds are being paid for by the people who pay for electricity, and they pay for the electricity which is produced by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro at the lowest possible cost consistent with reliable service. That is what it says. The mission statement of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is to produce electricity cheaply, not to make money for bond holders; not to make money for stockholders, but to produce electricity cheaply.

As any organization - it is a lot cheaper to feed bond holders than it is to feed stockholders, I tell you that. It is a lot cheaper to feed them, and the people of Newfoundland, I am afraid, might find out exactly how expensive it is to feed stockholders. Look at the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice has stocks and bonds - very, very demanding to make sure that he keeps them. He has to make sure that every day he gets a good return on his investment or he will not keep them; he will sell them and buy some others. That is the way it works.

So what we have, Mr. Speaker, is a government here who, with one thing after another, when given the choice between the public interest, to act in the public interest on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, acts instead in the private interests of special groups - the wealthy few in Newfoundland and Labrador - but mostly, 95 per cent, 96 per cent, 97 per cent - I do not know exactly how much. Fortis has not told us what their holdings are, exactly. We know that Montreal Engineering is a substantial shareholder and actor behind the scenes in Newfoundland Light - always has been. The head office used to be in Montreal, at one time, I understand. I am not so sure about that, but I have been told that.

These decisions that government is making are designed and have the effect of serving interests other than the public interests. The private interest of Browning Harvey versus the public interest for a clean environment. I say to the Minister of the Environment: You have sold out. You have sold out the public interest by refusing to establish a proper deposit system so that if you want to contribute to recycling it is worth your while.

I remember when I was in the Province of Alberta, Mr. Speaker, back in 1976, and we had in Alberta at the time - I was going to law school, I was there for three years - the Government of Alberta, not known for its socialist tendencies even then, but they had a deposit system that was subsidized, organized, and insisted upon by the government. So that every Saturday morning - I don't know whether it was more than half the people, but a goodly number of the people - went to the bottle deposit. They brought back wine bottles, beer bottles, they brought back every kind of bottle, and every kind of soft drink and container were brought back to the depository. It was worthwhile to do it.

If the Minister of Environment had the courage to tack ten cents on to every soft drink in this Province, somebody might say she's taking candy from babies. They might say that. Maybe the children would have less Coke for a day or two or a week. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. It might save some dental bills. That ten cents would be the value of the return of that piece of plastic. That ten cents would recycle back and forth.

If every liquor bottle that the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation sold in this Province - and I notice they're now begging people to buy legal with their advertizing - but if every bottle that the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation sold had twenty cents tacked onto it, the consumers of alcohol might jump up and down for a week or two, but they will go and pay the extra twenty cents. Every time you go to the liquor store and you see a ten or twenty or a thirty cent increase on a bottle of liquor, I think people pay it and they continue to consume it. That twenty cents that you pay at he liquor store could be used and given back to the people who want to take them back at the other end and find some use for them. That would support the system. That would allow these goods to circulate. It would keep these containers out of the environment, and it would provide employment.

Someone said, do we want to lay off people? No, we don't want to lay off people. What we want to do is make sure this stuff stays out of the environment. By making it worthwhile for this to be returned it will keep it out of the environment. That's the incentive system. I thought the people over here on the other side of the House believed in the incentive system. I thought they wanted to build incentives to allow people to behave in a good and an environmentally pure and sensitive way. Why are they not doing it? Because Browning Harvey and the soft drink manufacturers have been successful in this Province. Nowhere else in the country. They have found the weakest link in the chain and they have finally found a government across this country which is prepared to kowtow to them, to bow down and do what they ask. New Brunswick can have a sensible system. PEI can keep them out altogether. Alberta has a deposit system that is the envy of the country, but not this government. No. Browning Harvey says: we'll close down our plant, we'll leave the Province, just like Coke did. They won't leave the Province if - they're not going to take empty containers over to Nova Scotia, fill them up, and bring them back, I will tell you that.

There are ways, if the government wants to do it, to ensure that either a bottle deposit system could work or refillable bottle. Every Saturday morning there are thousands of people across this Province who bring beer bottles back, or they go collect them for the Boy Scouts or the Girl Guides or the 4-H Clubs or whatever other organizations there are. They bring them all back and they bring them back because they get ten cents a bottle for them. They can make money on them. It's worthwhile for them to do it.

But no, not this government. Can't do that because we've been lobbied, just as they were lobbied on the Outer Ring Road, just as they've been lobbied by Fortis, just as they were lobbied by the employers on the labour Bill. They respond to the special interests, the private interests, the special interest. That is who is governing this Province, not the people sitting over there.

I'm surprised at the men and women sitting over there on the back benches allowing that to happen. Allowing that to happen, Mr. Speaker.

I only have a minute or two left so perhaps I shouldn't start on the labour Bill because it will take too much time to explain how it is -


MR. HARRIS: I will believe that when I see it. It's not close enough to Christmas yet.

Mr. Speaker, I won't start on the labour Bill because the people over there have been given some simplistic gobbledegook from the Minister of Labour Relations, who should know full well that what he is doing is giving a licence to the Bill Barrys of the future to fire people at will. As soon as they get wind of a certification, start firing people. Pick out a few people, fire them. Fire this one, a union organizer, fire that one, fire somebody else. Then we will have a vote, then we will have a secret ballot. That is what Bill Barry wanted.

MR. GRIMES: You're not standing up there saying that to try to be serious, are you?

MR. HARRIS: That is what Bill Barry wanted and if I had another half an hour I would explain to the hon. member how this works.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!



MR. HARRIS: If I had another half an hour, Mr. Speaker, I would explain how this works. Since my time is up I will have to speak again when the Bill is out. We will have a number of opportunities in this House to speak on that Bill. If the hon. member was serious about -

AN HON. MEMBER: They won't let you respond to statements though, will they?

MR. HARRIS: No, they're frightened.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's right. They're frightened of your 2 per cent.

MR. HARRIS: They're down almost as low as we are, and they're afraid that in the race for - I said, you know in the last federal election I talked to the former Member for St. John's East. I said, you know -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What about the former former member?

MR. HARRIS: The former former member. I was talking to the former member. I said: you know, Ross, your Party and my Party are going to come fourth and fifth in this election. He said: oh no, don't say that. I didn't realize that the order would be us fourth and them fifth. I thought it was going to be the other way around.

In the race for the bottom the sixteen over here are really worried that we might jump ahead of them. On the way back up we will go ahead of them. So they're really worried. I'm not surprised that the Opposition House Leader is afraid to have me speak, even on something like violence against women. Even on violence against women he is afraid to hear me speak.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: The sixteen man -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker? By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

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


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for St. George's.

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's quite fitting I think that I should share this debate this morning with my good friend and colleague the Member for Humber Valley, who had some very good points that he raised in his speech concerning the agricultural industry of this Province. That's always of interest to me, as most of you know. I also share a comment with the hon. Member for St. John's East who indicated that the Member for Humber Valley is a very practical man. He is a practical thinker, and I have to agree with that. After all, he is a farmer and that is where it all started for all of us at some time.

The hon. Member for Humber Valley was indeed correct when he said that his District is a major agricultural District as well, although I will gently remind the House that prior to 1949 agriculture basically didn't exist in that District. That says something for the people in that District for what they have done since 1949. He also made reference to attitudes towards agriculture. I'm going to touch on that in my delivery this morning.

It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to once again take part in this Budget debate. The Throne Speech clearly emphasized the need for economic development and employment generation in this Province. I submit to this hon. House that such is especially true in rural Newfoundland and especially true in the district that I am proud to represent, the District of St. George's. Having said that I also suspect that it will not be of any surprise to you or my hon. colleagues on both sides of this Chamber that I should develop a thesis this morning, that I should develop a sound argument where the agri-food industry can indeed contribute to the economic development and employment generation in this Province. That is especially true of the District of St. George's because that district traditionally and historically has been and is a major, and at one time was the major food producing district in the Province. Before going into the main delivery this morning I want to take this House on a brief tour through the District of St. George's, and in that tour you will see some of the problems that we have and I will offer some solutions.

The most easterly part of the district begins about twenty miles south of Corner Brook at a place called Gallants. Now, Gallants over the years was a major pulpwood industry town, but unfortunately most of the trees in that area have now been harvested and the industry no longer exists. There is no other major industry that has taken its place although it does have tremendous potential in tourism.

We go down further south to Black Duck Siding and Stephenville Crossing and both this village and town had its beginning as a railway site. Of course you know what has happened to the railway. Stephenville Crossing sprang up largely because of, in more recent years, the American base at Stephenville and we know that no longer exists, adding further to the problems in the area.

Next is Barachois Brook and Mattis Point, traditionally fishing communities and, of course, like elsewhere in this Province the downturn is there as well as far as the fishery is concerned. In fact the fishery this year, including the lobster fishery, was almost a complete failure.

St. George's is the next major town in the district going south from Corner Brook and it is the shire town, the shire town of the district where over the years the Holy See was located until more recent times and where the courthouse was located, and so on. It is also a main railway town and this has had a detrimental effect on it as a result of the closure of the railway.

The central region of the district hon. members is made up of nine communities going from Heatherton to the Highlands. This is a major agricultural producing area of the district over the years and still remains as such. Prior to 1949, as my hon. colleague for the Humber Valley has referred, this Province basically fed itself as far as agricultural products are concerned and a major portion of that produce came from the central region of St. George's district and further south into the Codroy Valley. Since 1949, however, there has been a major disappearance of agricultural production in the district, especially vegetable production. The reason behind that is because when we became part of Confederation the tariffs were removed. As a result of that, farmers in the area were presented with an onslaught of cheaper vegetables coming in from the mainland, a lower quality product but cheaper product, and that is why I asked the hon. Member for Humber Valley, earlier, how many grade number one potatoes do you find in this Province coming in from the mainland. We receive grade number two and grade number three but we pay for grade number one.


DR. HULAN: Indeed. Along with Confederation came the social programs, the nice social programs, unemployment insurance, better social assistance and so on. This had its effect on agriculture because it was easier to get the money to live on than going into the fields from six in the morning to eleven at night. In addition to all of that, was the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway. You may ask how that had a detrimental effect on agriculture in Newfoundland. Well the construction of the Trans-Canada Highway started in 1951 and continued almost as a make work project until near 1967. Farmers who were feeling the insult of the cheaper produce from the mainland, found that they could get a ready paycheque by going to work on the Trans-Canada Highway so they left their farms and went to work for six months on the Trans-Canada Highway and then they qualified for unemployment insurance in the winter time.

The boy on the farm, the son on the farm who was five years of age in 1951, became of working age before the highway was finished and he too, when he was sixteen years of age, went to work on the Trans-Canada Highway and as a result of that we lost two generations of agricultural experts, people who knew what they were doing with the soil in this Province and its climate and how to work with it. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, agriculture and the related food industries of this Province have been indeed ignored by the business community, the public, the media and even governments over the last couple of decades, and as a consequence many opportunities for employment generation and industrial activity promotion have been impeded or probably lost altogether, and some of the reasons why agriculture has not been taken seriously are understandable, and why it has declined I have just referenced.

One thing is the industry has never been able to throw off or shake off the shackles of being a subsistent activity, subsistent to the fishing industry. Whereas that is true, there has been some fairly major happenings and steps taken by the present government which will help indeed the agri-food industry develop in the Province in the years to come. The School Milk Program, will certainly add to an expansion to our already important and well-developed dairy industry. I have said on the floor of this House in the past, Mr. Speaker, that what the dairy industry has done in this Province in the last ten to twelve years is a tremendously important success story and one of which we should all take note. They have managed to increase their portion of the market share of fluid milk to 100 per cent. We do have one problem, however. Our consumption of fresh milk in this Province is only 55 per cent of the national average and therefore we have a long way to go and grow in the dairy industry, and that will be done with the introduction of the School Milk Program as the children educate their parents into drinking fresh milk and that is going to happen and is happening.

The provincial meat inspection program, which was recommended by the Task Force on agri-foods and about ready to go into place in this Province, I understand will greatly assist the development of the beef industry. The dairy cattle industry: right now dairy cows have to be taken to the mainland to be processed, basically. They have to be taken to Nova Scotia to be killed. The provincial meat inspection system will overcome that for the most part.

I see with the provincial meat inspection, Mr. Speaker, a Province-wide industry. Different than the hog industry of the past, but a Province-wide hog industry, marketed in a different manner, with slaughtering occurring right across this Province, inspected for provincial consumption, for sale in the supermarkets. The provincial meat inspection system will also provide the opportunity for a viable turkey industry, a viable heavy chicken or roaster industry, which we don't have today.

In the past I have made reference in this House to the fact that a revolution is occurring in agriculture around the world, and Newfoundland is no different. Newfoundlanders included today are looking for low-fat foods, they're looking for no-fat foods in many cases. They are looking for certainly low-cholesterol foods. The whole world, the whole Western world at least, is looking for foods with fewer chemicals, fewer insecticides, fewer pesticides. I say to this House, Newfoundland has a golden opportunity to capitalize on its own advantages, its uniqueness of having probably the cleanest air, water and soil, in all of North America - some may argue with that, but indications are that we have - and therefore probably the entire world. We have that. When I speak of agriculture and the agri-food industry I am not only speaking of self-sufficiency in this Province, but I'm thinking of the international market. I want to go into that.

We have an opportunity to raise chemical-free beef and lamb on this Island. Having said that, I want to give you a little story that I think this House will be interested in. Everybody has taken their shots at the Sprung Greenhouse. After Sprung moved out Cabot Produce took over that greenhouse, They were producing cucumbers, of course. They produced other things, but cucumbers as well. I was in Ottawa on December 13, 1989, when a tandem truckload of cucumbers from Cabot Produce in St. John's Newfoundland arrived at the Byword Market. They were put in the large bins and the price tag on them was $2.99. The next bin to the Cabot Produce cucumber was a bin of American cucumbers from California for $0.99, or $0.89. As fast as the bin of cucumbers from Cabot produce at $2.99 was filled up it was emptied, while the $0.89 cent cucumber sat there. Now I will tell you why. On each cucumber they had rightly stamped: Cabot Produce, St. John's, Newfoundland, grown without chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. They were capitalizing on what they could do.

I will also submit to you that we have the opportunity in this Province to raise and put to the market on the world stage chemical-free, pesticide-free, beef and lamb. We indeed can be, I am convinced, the lamb capital of Canada. Why can we be? I challenge this hon. House that if we were to put lamb that is from the Southern Shore of the beautiful Avalon Peninsula where they are now growing lambs, in on the barrens of that beautiful area of this Province, without chemicals at all, being reared on the natural reindeer and other grasses that are there, and you put that leg of lamb in New York City with a tag on it saying that it was grown with the sea breezes of Newfoundland blowing over it as it grew, without chemicals or herbicides or what have you, a natural product, indeed, $18 a kilogram is not out of the way.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

DR. HULAN: Eighteen dollars a kilogram.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nine bucks a pound, approximately.


Now, we have that opportunity. I would like to tell you this other story. Right now, as we stand here, the farmers on the Southern Shore of the Avalon Peninsula have their sheep herds, after they lamb in the spring, they drive them in on the barrens. They do not see these animals any more until they go in in September and harvest the lamb crop. They will take from those ewes, two lambs, ranging around forty to forty-two pounds, that are better than the Canadian average for lamb production on the mainland.

These farmers are not involved with the growing of this animal. It just grows wild. It eats the wild grasses. They have no input in fencing or anything. They have a natural product that has a market on the international stage, I say to you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: No predators, Bud?

DR. HULAN: Right now, very few predators. I could get into that one later on with regard to the possibility, in the future, unfortunately, of the coyote in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) coyote.

DR. HULAN: Right.

I want to also say that there has been a considerable amount of money spent on the sheep industry in this Province in the seventies and the eighties. A considerable amount of money was spent. Lambs and rams were brought in from Finland and Russia and Australia and New Zealand, and we completely ignored our native sheep that have been here for 350 years - our native animal that has acclimated over 300 years. Most of us will acclimate in our lifetime, but these animals have 300 years to acclimate, to be able to eat and survive and thrive on the natural grasses that grow on the barrens of this land. We have ignored that animal, and I say we should not have.

There are a number of major constraints, Mr. Speaker, that agriculture and the agri-food industry in this Province is faced with, and one of them is the mind-set and the perception that it is an expensive luxury that this Province cannot afford, and that is so completely incorrect; but where does that come from?

Number one reason, we always look at the losses at Newfoundland Farm Products annually, and that bounces back on the producer, the agricultural producer. We also consider the Sprung issue and, be that as it may, the problem there comes right back to the agricultural industry itself, and sceptics will then say: we cannot afford agriculture in this Province. I am sorry to say that is so far from the truth. We have the potential of a tremendous industry to create employment out in rural Newfoundland where unemployment is the highest, and what better opportunity than through the production of food? After all, it was basically alluded to already in this Chamber this morning, and I will ask you the question: What is the largest industry in the world, including here in Newfoundland? It is the food industry. Yet, I will also tell you, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians consume almost a billion dollars worth of food and beverage annually, and yet we produce a very, very small amount of what we consume.

As far as vegetables, reference was made to vegetables this morning. As far as vegetables are concerned, we produce about 5 per cent of what we consume. Prior to 1949 we produced 100 per cent. These are some of the problems. The other constraint we have, as I already referred to, is the mind-set at every level of this Province that we are not an agriculturally producing Province because we do not have the soil. That is wrong. We do not have the climate. That is wrong. We have already proven it. We only have to go back through history and look at the fact that prior to 1949 farmers on the West Coast of this island took the prizes for grains, such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye at the Atlantic Winter Fair. We took the prizes for these products and yet we have the mind-set, and we have encouraged the media to educate our children that we live on a rock. When I returned to this Province in 1989 I was so upset when I first heard the radio station that announced itself the 'Rock of the Rock.' If we start putting into the children's minds from the cradle that you live on a rock, well, tell me, hon colleagues, what can you grow on a rock?

The other major constraint that we have for the agri-food industry in this Province is the lack of organized marketing. That is a major constraint. The vegetable industry in this Province right now is in the same state of disarray as far as marketing is concerned as the vegetable industry was in the beautiful Annapolis Valley fifteen years ago.

I will tell you a story that Lewisporte Wholesalers in Lewisporte shared with me when I chaired the Task Force on Agri-Foods. This gentleman went out into his field this morning and cut five tons of cabbage. He had no order for the cabbage so he just put them in his truck and went to Lewisporte Wholesalers. He got to the unloading dock and the chap at the dock called upstairs and said: so and so from Brown's Arm is here with five ton of cabbage. We did not order them so what should we do? The office said, take as many as you can from the poor fellow. We cannot take them all but take whatever you can. Lewisporte Wholesalers were able to take three ton and he still had two tons left. What did that gentleman do? He went out in his truck and went to all the retail outlets in the surrounding area and he loaded every retail outlet with cabbage. He still had three quarters of a ton left so he went to the centre of the town, set up his truck, and sold to the consumers right off the truck. Now, he had taken care of the wholesaler, the retailer, and the consumer, and that is the disorganization I am taking about and it is very simply rectified. It has been outlined in detail how to rectify it. It can be rectified and it will be, hopefully, in the future.

I have not touched on another major area of the food industry that is just begging to be developed in this Province and that is the further processing industry of agri-food products. Today we further produce very little of the agri-food products we consume.

I want to give you another little story. Newfoundland has the highest quality blueberry in Eastern North America. We are the only area in Eastern North America, hon. colleagues, that is blueberry maggot free, the only area. There is a tremendous world market for fresh blueberries. Nova Scotia, PEI, New Brunswick, Maine. Vermont, and so on will never get into the fresh blueberry market because they have blueberry maggot and their blueberries break down too quickly. Newfoundland has a maggot-free blueberry. Well, do you know what we do with the $2 or $3 million worth of wild blueberries we produce each year in this Province? We collect them very nicely, put them in very nice containers, and take them over to Nova Scotia where they are mixed with the maggotted blueberries and they are made into tarts, jams, jellies, pies, and sent back to Newfoundland for consumption. That is what we do. Now, maggots are a fairly good source of protein, I can tell you. I am a nutritional biochemist and I can tell you that they are an excellent source of protein. Some people like maggots, some people don't. I submit to you that that has to change, Mr. Speaker and hon. colleagues, that has to change. The blueberry story is just one of the many stories that I can allude to concerning the agricultural industry, the agri-food industry of this Province where there is tremendous potential for development in the future.

I will conclude, Mr. Speaker, by simply saying that the agri-food industry, including the primary industries which are its most significant element, is underdeveloped in this Province. In fact, some will say that it is not developed. I firmly believe that the agri-food sector holds a great potential for contributing to the future economic development of this Province. Tremendous opportunities exist in the sector for economic development and employment generation, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador where unemployment is the highest. We have not even scratched the surface, Mr. Speaker, we have not even scratched the surface with regard to the development of the agri-food industry of this Province.

I will give you an example as far as employment generation goes, in the District of St. George's I have at least one farming enterprise that employs fifty people, part-time and full-time year round. You try to find a business in St. John's that employ as many. I would suggest that you will find them but do you know where you will find them? You will find them in the food industry. In the Clover Produces, the Blue Buoy Foods and the Purity Factories of this Province. Mr. Speaker, we have a tremendous opportunity but we will never develop it as long as we tell ourselves that we can't. As long as we always, as I have said before, Mr. Speaker, look at the glass as half empty rather than half full.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEWLETT: I was rather interested in the remarks of the gentleman for St. George's. There would appear, according to his calculations, to be a tremendous economic potential in the agri-foods industry in this particular Province. However, I would submit that the hon. Member for St. George's will be in these benches for quite some time and I am preaching the same message because this particular government has an absolutely shameful record of economic development.

My district, Mr. Speaker, Green Bay, is going through some difficult times but not as difficult as you might expect because unknown to many people outside the borders of that district, we have two fish plants that have been going full tilt at Little Bay Islands and Triton for the last year - probably more work associated with those plants then there has been in the past number of years.

The forestry industry in the Green Bay area, the industry that gave the district its name, is in decline. We are running out of trees and what cutting we do have by small operators, Mr. Speaker, it is very distressing to find that the product that they cut, they find very difficult to sell. This particular government of course, in spite of all its promises with regard to economic development, is allowing the paper mill at Stephenville to import wood from the maritime provinces. The vegetables that the Member for St. George's mentioned, that come into this Province from the maritime's, is also being matched with wood products. We have cases in my particular district, Mr. Speaker, where there are people who have the wood cut and piled but the paper company, with the blessing of this particular administration, imports wood from the mainland under the pretext that it needs fresh spruce. Well we have fresh spruce in Green Bay, Mr. Speaker, that is lying by the side of the road going stale as the docks in Stephenville unload wood directly from mainland Canada.

One gets no particular answer as to why the paper company must import wood from the mainland unless it is purely on the basis of economics, maybe this wood is grown on private woodlots and can be delivered to Stephenville cheaper than a similar product from our own district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Port de Grave is trying to get me going and heaven knows I would not want to get into the Hydro scandal. This morning is an instance of the type of economic development that this particular government is into. We must recall that this was the party and the administration that when first elected in 1989 indicated to the people of the Province that there was going to be such an economic boom in this Province that there would be a reasonable prospect of every mother's son coming home. Since then, Mr. Speaker, the biggest problem I found in my district with regard to mothers' sons and daughters, is that the nearest place that they can find any sort of employment is British Columbia. If they are coming home, it is because they would rather live on welfare at home than welfare on the mainland of Canada.

As I indicated, the only place that is hiring for most Newfoundlanders, certainly with the level of skills that most people from my district have, the nearest place they can get work is either in the mining industry in the far north, or in British Columbia, which is one of the few bright spots in the Canadian economy. Now this government, like all governments in this country, is charged with the responsibility of economic development. At the moment we have an economy in a shambles for the third year running. According to statistics published, the economy of this Province has shrunk, so we have a government that promised tremendous economic development and growth when it first came to office but so far it is a government that seems to be content to preside over decline.

There are no major economic developments ongoing under the tutelage of this government with the possible exception of Hibernia, which of course, is the child of the previous PC administration. This government has embarked on several large and controversial programs of its own making but those do not create any jobs except maybe among politicians or lawyers. I can recall that the Wells government upset municipal government in this Province some years ago with a massive amalgamation scheme. It spent the better part of its first term in office dealing with such job creating issues as the Canadian Constitution, where again, only people in public policy or law could find any source of employment whatsoever.

We now have this government, its major economic initiative - well I suppose it has two that we are going to deal with in this particular sitting of the House of Assembly. One has to do with a major rewrite of labour law in the Province, which by all estimation is going to be controversial and probably lead to increasing tensions between labour and management in the Province and the other of course, is the government's dogged determination, Mr. Speaker, to privatize Newfoundland Hydro.

This particular privatization that the government is about has no basis in public support, has no basis in electoral support from the point of view of a mandate from the people. This government has made in the past, a very general statement with regard to getting rid of certain Crown corporations that are of commercial interest or serve no public policy purpose, but I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro still holds the public policy purpose and I would like to get into that for a few moments if I may.

When we last had a major economic development regarding hydro in the Labrador portion of our Province, it was done by a private corporation, BRINCO. The outcome of that particular initiative on the part of the then Liberal government, was a cheap product called electricity being shipped west to Quebec for a period of sixty-five years, with no possibility of reopening the sale price based on changing economic times. The water rights went to the company BRINCO and when the Moores administration followed the Smallwood administration in the '70s, one of the first things that the Moores administration felt inclined to do, felt the need to do, was to buy back the water rights already given away by the Smallwood administration.

So $30 million in 1970-odd dollars were spent to buy back something that we had originally owned when we joined Confederation, but we had to buy it back because the government of the day, in doing the Churchill River development, gave away our water rights in addition to our rights to a sound, economic rent from this particular development.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have Hydro having developed most of the sites of any economic significance on the Island part of the Province. The next frontier, in terms of hydroelectric development in our Province, would have to be the development of the Lower Churchill River system. We have a Crown corporation, that by all estimates, is one of the better run public utilities in the country. It is on sound footing financially, and in terms of its management and expertise, yet we appear to be ready - or at least the government of Premier Wells appears to be ready - to give away, for nothing short of a song, the potential of that particular corporation to be involved in further development of hydroelectric resources on the Lower Churchill River system.

When we want to proceed with such a development, Mr. Speaker, what are we going to do as a government, as a society, in order to facilitate such a development, to ensure that the maximum interests of the Province are protected and enhanced? We will not, if the government goes through with its privatization of the Hydro Corporation, have a vehicle whereby the government of the day can direct public policy, can direct economic development, in tandem with a development of the Lower Churchill River system. We will have essentially passed off to the private sector the expertise and technology required to do that development, and we will be in the same position as was the government of the sixties in developing the Upper Churchill River.

We will not have a vehicle that is publicly owned, that is publicly driven by the interests of the Province, to develop the Lower Churchill River system. We will be at the mercy of Fortis, expanded or whatever the name of the new corporation will be. It will be the only vehicle inside this Province to carry out an economic development in Labrador, and the last time that we had an economic development in Labrador carried out by a private company, there was an immense sell-out of our provincial resources, and we will not have a chance to reopen that contract or to redress our grievances until the year 2041 - a year, I would assume, that most of us will not be around to comment on, and one wonders if a further development of the Lower Churchill River will be done in a similar manner because the Province will have abdicated its role in public policy as regards to hydroelectric development, passed that role off to a private company -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not the case. The Lower Churchill (inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: The Lower Churchill River system, as I understand it, yes, Mr. Speaker, does stay with the Province, but what about the vehicle for development? We are about to get rid of the corporation best designed and best able to develop the Lower Churchill River system. It will be turned over in a share offering to the general public. It will become a publicly traded company on the stock exchange. It will no longer be the property of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will no longer own an instrument with which to effect development of the Lower Churchill River system.

One has to ask, Mr. Speaker, why the all-fired rush on the part of this particular administration to go ahead with this particular divesting of a public interest. The public, as I see it, will not be well served either in terms of future economic development along hydro lines. It will get one small, quick shot in the arm of economic development in the terms of really just cash to apply against our yearly current account deficit, or put a very small dent, indeed, in the long-term debt of the Province.

The government has had much to-do about the fact that in relatively short order the debt of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be retired, but from the point of view of the international financial community, the debt of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is self-financing. It is not regarded as a drag on this particular Province. Indeed, if anything, in terms of economic development levers, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is seen to be one of the feathers in the cap of this particular Province.

The general public then, Mr. Speaker, will not only lose the water rights, dams and transmission lines that they have on the island part of the Province but they will also face, as a result of this sale, considerable power rate increases. The Premier acknowledges that rates will increase. I think he has publicly understated the amount that rates will increase. Over the past five years, since I have been elected, I had a term of two or three years as energy critic and had the opportunity to attend hearings of the Public Utilities Board and due to policies on the part of the Wells government in reducing subsidies to Newfoundland Hydro, phasing out the power distribution district, et cetera - the imposition of a loan guarantee fee on the Hydro Corporation - we have seen the electrical rates to the people of the Province increased considerably and steadily ever since this particular administration came to office.

This particular move of divesting itself of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will require money on the part of the corporation that intends to absorb Hydro. It will require a greater rate of return on its equity investment and it will require the changing of a good bit of Hydro debt into equity. The bottom line on all of it is that these are costs to the new corporation, Mr. Speaker, and in the case of a public utility, it is always the case that any cost incurred by the corporation, be it a new corporation or an existing corporation, any new costs are brought before the Public Utilities Board and eventually passed on to the people of the Province through higher electrical rates.

We will also, Mr. Speaker, lose jobs. In absolute terms we are certain that we will lose 200, 300 or 400 jobs and with them a certain expertise at the beck and call of the government of the Province. These jobs as well, Mr. Speaker, compared to many jobs in our Province, are high skilled, high paying jobs and will not be easily replaced in our economy. These are people who pay significant income taxes to the Crown, Mr. Speaker, and that revenue will be lost to the Crown as well as the revenue that the Crown currently gets from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro on an ongoing basis. We are doing a quick deal for a fast buck in the short term and the people of the Province, the taxpayers of the Province will pay the price for this in the long term, Mr. Speaker.

Also, with regard to the new private corporation that will come out of the merger of Hydro and Fortis, we will see share dividends to people who invest in this particular new company. The economic realities of this Province are such that there are very few people in the Province who have the capability to invest in any significant way in the stock market. One would surmise probably that many of these same people are the ones who financed the Premier's way to power in this Province, that financed the Liberal Party, and these people are few and far between in this particular Province, Mr. Speaker. The vast majority of such people earning on the shares of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will be outside the Province. So our water power will be generating wealth elsewhere in Canada and even in the world.

What do we gain, Mr. Speaker? For one year, maybe two, we get to put a dent in our current account deficit or put even a much smaller dent in the overall long-term debt of the Province. In return for that, the shares will generate revenue for mainland and international concerns, the water rights on the island of the Province will be gone forever, they will no longer be a public trust. Our ability to generate wealth and hydroelectric power from the water rights on the Lower Churchill river system will be greatly impeded. We will have to be at the mercy of private sector corporations or the corporation that will replace Hydro on the island part of the Province, in future economic development in Labrador. One has to ask, Mr. Speaker, why? Having said all of these things, why is this government so determined, so bent on privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? In all of the public statements that the hon. the Premier has made he really has not answered the question why?

I saw him on a debate last night on CBC television with the Leader of the Opposition and the most that the Premier could say in that particular debate, was that it was Liberal Party policy, it was government policy to privatize. The question still has not been answered, why? Why, Mr. Speaker, why must we privatize?... and there is no answer.

It would appear now that this government, either for cavalier reasons or for sinister reasons, and the Lord above knows which is the case, has really gone out on a limb on this particular policy issue. Right now the credibility of the hon. the Premier is on the line, the credibility of the Minister of Justice is on the line, and the government, having backed itself in a corner on this particular issue, is now faced with either having to back down in a very large and public fashion, or go ahead, and in so doing ensure themselves of the wrath of the general public. There is no public support for this particular move. There has been no logical reason given why we should be about this particular move, and the electoral process did not give the Premier or his ministers any definitive mandate to undertake such a large project as privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. So one has to wonder why, Mr. Speaker, and so far, in this entire debate, there has been no reason given of any substance as to why. It is one thing to say it is a Liberal Party policy or a Liberal government policy that we are going to divest ourselves of Hydro, but so far there has been no real good reason given as to why.

When pressed and with his back to the wall, the hon. the Premier generally lashes out at those who criticize him, those who take issue with his point of view. People do not have the good sense to make a decent statement from the point of view of the Premier; anybody who disagrees with him, has a concrete mind-set and does not know what they are talking about, et cetera, et cetera. The Premier had a number of occasions both in Question Period in this House and before the public media of the Province to give Newfoundlanders and Labradorians a good, sound, valid reason why we are about this lunacy, but so far, Mr. Speaker, nothing has been forthcoming whatsoever, except that it is policy and you elected us so you are stuck with our policy whether you like it or not.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: That's it, Mr. Speaker, whenever someone hits the nail on the head, they have to attack the person, attack the person's circumstance, but the question is still why, Mr. Speaker. There has been no valid reason as to why and if there is a reason why, I think this government owes it to the people of the Province to say why we are about this. Surely we cannot be embarking on such a major undertaking just to save face on the part of the Premier and the Minister of Justice, to save face for this government, having backed itself into a corner on this public policy blunder they now see no choice but to go full steam ahead, roll over the opposition, roll over the people of the Province, tell them: well we are doing this for your own good and do not ask why.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the question still stands and the answer has not been forthcoming. Why, Mr. Speaker, why?

Thank you.

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

MR. TULK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me say first of all that I am not sure whether I should say this is my second maiden speech, or just what should be said in this particular case. Let me say this. It is the first time that I have spoken in this Legislature, it is the first time I have made a speech I should say, it is not the first time I spoke in the Legislature, as the hon. gentleman will know and he seems to be -

I have to say to the hon. gentleman, that he gets rather touchy when I open my face, I do not know why that is -

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about the phone.

MR. TULK: We will get to that. But in any case, Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. gentleman that it is a pleasure to be back in this Legislature, among what is a special group of people, and, Mr. Speaker, I have to say, in my own partisan way, I have to say that there are two special groups, there are three special groups I guess - no, I cannot call that a group - but there are certainly fifty-two people here, Mr. Speaker, who represent the Province and they are engaged in a profession that is, while it is often maligned those days, I feel that it is perhaps the most honourable profession that one can get into.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, I wish he was in his seat -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's alright; we will let him know.

MR. TULK: Well, you will let him know. Yesterday, he gave me a note and perhaps I should start those few words that I am going to say, when he said to me: if the hon. gentleman is not careful on the other side again, he will have another forced vacation.

I'm not sure whether it was the Member for Grand Bank or the Member for Burin - Placentia West. I can assure him that it was a forced vacation that I took from this Legislature. It wasn't one that I enjoyed. It came about as a result of, I guess, the people of Fogo saying: We have to give this guy a slap on the fingers.

It's a great place as I said, Mr. Speaker, to be. It's a place where you can experience a great deal of joy, and you can also experience a great deal of humility. I feel that in the ten years that I spent in this Legislature before 1989 that I went through many of those things, along with some of the people who are now here.

It's also a place where there are some very great ironies that occur. I can remember, I think it was June 8, 1988, standing in the place of the Member for Grand Bank, as the Opposition House Leader. I think the Leader of the Opposition was then the Government House Leader. I believe he was. I'm pretty well certain that he was.

Of course, as happens when you close the Legislature the Opposition House Leader and the Government House Leader make certain comments. I can remember standing up with great fanfare and making my predictions about what would happen. I made the prediction that the House would not reconvene, that there would be an election before that time, and I was right. There was an election before that time. I was right on that issue. I can remember pointing to the Member for Menihek and the Member for St. John's East, and saying they wouldn't be back in the Legislature. I was right on that. They weren't back. I can remember saying that the people on this side then would not be in government, they would be in Opposition. I was right on that. I can remember saying that all of the people who were then in Opposition in the Liberals would be back -

AN HON. MEMBER: You were right on that.

MR. TULK: No, I wasn't. I didn't come back. I was the only person who didn't come back.

AN HON. MEMBER: How could he forget?

MR. TULK: How could you forget? So, Mr. Speaker -


MR. TULK: Yes, you could very well be right. As I said to you, it's a place of great irony and it's a place of humility. I would remind my friend for Grand Bank that he may at some point go through the same experience.

Having said all that, Mr. Speaker, let me express my gratitude to the people of Fogo for once again re-electing me on May 3 of this year, and to try to assure them that I do not believe that after the next four years they will have any cause at all to slap the fingers of this hon. gentleman again. I think I learned my lesson well. I hope I did.

It's common in the Throne Speech to outline some of the needs of your district, and I think I would be remiss if I didn't give some of the history of Fogo District and some of the needs that District has. What are the needs of Fogo District? How does Fogo District compare to most other districts in this Province in terms of public services, in terms of water and sewer, in terms of problems with transportation, and, this is very important, in terms of what has been done to encourage the establishment of private enterprise?

It's no secret that that District of Fogo spent twenty-one years in Opposition, from 1972 to 1993. I think seven or eight of those years the member at the time was Captain Earl Winsor. I was the member for ten, and the PCs got four years out of Sam Winsor. It's not a very well-kept secret in this Province that under the Administration of one Frank Moores and one Brian Peckford, if you didn't vote for them you got nothing. They took away stuff. Took everything that they could from the district that would vote against them.

In 1987, under the leadership of the present Premier, the Liberal Party set out to change that. I can say to you that from 1989 to 1993 I think Fogo district received pretty well its fair share, even though it was in opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: They had a good member.

MR. TULK: I won't argue about whether the member was good or not, but I will tell the hon. gentleman from Ferryland that the philosophy of government in this Province changed dramatically in 1989. You see, if he were here as the Member for Ferryland, in opposition, under the Peckford regime, he would know that very well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Yes, the hon. gentleman is familiar with that, and so am I, and he was probably right in that particular instance, but I can tell him now that today there has been a change in this Province where the ministers in this Province are required to administer their departments on the basis of need rather than on the basis of political stripe.

Mr. Speaker, there were seventeen years - I want to come back to that - when the Tories said to the people of Fogo district: No way. If you don't vote Tory, you will get nothing - when decisions in that district were made on the basis of politics rather than on the basis of need. So that district suffered immensely, and I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that the needs of that district are greater today than practically any district in the Province. Now there are some exceptions; there are a few exceptions to that.

This is an argument that I will have, I guess, with some of the ministers in Cabinet, and perhaps some of the people in caucus, when I hear people saying that you have to treat districts with fairness and balance, it is a philosophy of this party with which I agree. I agree, but I say to you that if the balance is this way, then you have to put a little bit more weight on this side in order to level it out first, to put everybody on an equal footing, and I would hope that the people in Cabinet, the people who make decisions - I will certainly keep reminding them - will make their decisions in that regard.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say something else to the people on this side, too. There have been many changes that have taken place in this Legislature and in this Province and in government since 1989.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) Simms nervous.

MR. TULK: He should be.

MR. ROBERTS: He must have seen the poll results.

MR. TULK: Yes, he saw the poll - the Minister of Justice - have they got a copy of this yet?


MR. TULK: They haven't?

AN HON. MEMBER: Read it to them. Read that paragraph.

MR. ROBERTS: No, don't read it. Just let them live in happy, blissful ignorance over there.

MR. FLIGHT: No, no, read out that paragraph, Beaton.

MR. TULK: Which part?

MR. ROBERTS: Read it all.

AN HON. MEMBER: I will get it for you.

MR. TULK: I have it here. I got the summary yesterday.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, read it.

MR. TULK: The Leader of the Opposition should be nervous. He is out around the Province now trying to stir up a bit of support.

MR. ROBERTS: The headline says, `Simms nervous'.

MR. TULK: Simms nervous; he should be.

Mr. Speaker, a survey done by a well-known survey firm in this Province, done from November 6-11 -

AN HON. MEMBER: What firm?

MR. TULK: What firm? It says CRA. I will give you the initials - CRA.

Just listen, Mr. Speaker, the Liberals, 85 per cent electoral support. Just imagine, up seventeen points since August, the highest level on record.

Now let's look at what is happening to my friends opposite. The PC's, 10 per cent -

AN HON. MEMBER: The same size as their shoes.

MR. TULK: Down 16 per cent from 26 per cent.

NDP - he is gone - 3 per cent, down 1 per cent from 4 per cent.

There is only one consolation for the Member for St. John's East, and that is that the demise of the PC party is occurring at a faster rate than is his, but then I guess if you are nothing you cannot go much below nothing.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about the leader.

MR. TULK: Oh, we will get to that in a minute. While sitting here yesterday I heard somebody on the other side say: call an election, about the Hydro deal. Now, Mr. Speaker, I would predict if you called an election in this Province today you would have the same occurrence that you had in Ottawa, you would have equality representation in the PC Party. You would probably elect two, maybe the Member for Humber East which would give you 50 per cent of the female gender, and you can take a pick among the other ones, one more. Tweedledum or Tweedledee. Probably the Member for Humber Valley as he is the only person over there that I know off who knows everything.

Mr. Speaker, let me finish this little dissertation. I have to get back to Fogo. Party leaders - the Premier is getting threatened in this House, he is being told he is gone, that he is dead, well, some dead. In terms of popularity 69 per cent of the people thought he was doing a good job. Terrible isn't it. Up from 54 per cent in August. Can you imagine, up 15 per cent? I look at the man in awe when he walks in, and say what is this man, a 15 per cent gain in his popularity since August?

MR. ROBERTS: Simm's nervous.

MR. TULK: Let us get to that headline, the Conservative leader's popularity, 6 per cent. As a matter of fact the hon. Member for Twillingate said not even his shoe size, down 12 per cent since August. Four points above inflation says the minister. You can add up the figures but we will not comment on the popularity of the NDP leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was after the Hydro speech.

MR. TULK: Yes, it was after the Hydro speech.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me get back to my few words.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Is it true that the Leader of the NDP is running behind his party?

MR. TULK: The Member for Eagle River is the nastiest person that I know on this side of the House. I wouldn't say that. I might think that but I wouldn't say it. It's probably true. He is running behind his Party. He is not here, so let's not talk about him.

Now, Mr. Speaker -

MR. ROBERTS: The Leader of the Opposition is running in front of his Party.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many seats (inaudible)?

MR. TULK: How many seats? I told you that. Two. We know that the Member for Humber East is likely to get elected.

MR. ROBERTS: No, no, no.

MR. TULK: Yes, she is likely to get elected. I will tell you, among all the rest of them over there, it is a toss up whether any of them would or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Harvey Hodder.

MR. TULK: Oh, Harvey, I mean the Member for Waterford - Kenmount. The Member for Waterford - Kenmount has been observed, Mr. Speaker, slithering over around here lately. Over here talking to some of his buddies. I have to tell him that there is probably going to be an initiation fee.

Mr. Speaker, in the Province in the last four years we've seen the start up of the Hibernia project. I want to pay tribute in particular to my friend for Gander for the tremendous job that he - I spent four years with him, from 1985 to 1989, sitting in a little small box. From 1989 to 1993 I think it can be safely said that the Member for Gander, the President of Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance, has put this Province once again on a fairly even keel when it comes to fiscal and monetary management. He has done an excellent job, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Ed, you're too cute, you've been here too long. Let me also say, Mr. Speaker, that we've seen the elimination of school tax in this Province, something that we harped at the - that crowd over there now, they're over there - for years they failed to do anything about it, which I believe is a good move.

In my own District, and in other districts around the Province, we've seen the implementation of a good Liberal policy that was there for ten years. Ferry rates in this Province now are based on the distance that you have to travel, in the same manner as if you had to travel that distance by road. I think, most importantly we've seen a sound economic strategy, economic plan, put in place in the Province.

I have to comment on just what has happened. When I came back into this Legislature I started to read the Strategic Economic Plan, and I said to myself that surely this is the blueprint, that all of those things haven't been put in action yet, that probably they have put in one or two here, one or two there, or one or two somewhere else.

The first experience I had was that I went into the resource policy committee, I think it was on tourism, and I took the recommendations, and the listing of the recommendations under that department, and I asked the Minister of Tourism, "Have you implemented this?" "Yes, we have that under way." I went down through the list, and I think he only had two or three left. Well, I said, that minister must be doing an excellent job.

The next place I went was to the Department of Forestry and Agriculture. I said: Now, I have a few pet peeves with that department. I said to myself: I wonder what has been happening here? I asked the question. "Yes, yes," - couldn't get a `no' out of them. And the Opposition are sitting there, not even putting any good questions. Well, we will get to the good questions later, because the Member for Port de Grave could make a fortune - the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation could make a fortune if he charged the Opposition $50 a shot to write their questions for Question Period. They need him as a tutor.

In any case, Mr. Speaker, what has happened, if you go through all the departments, you will find not only has this government put together a plan of action for economic development, it has also started to implement a great many of them.

Mr. Speaker, there is, in this Province, a change that has taken place that is anything but positive. And I couldn't help but be quite frank with you again, after being in the Legislature for three or four days in the spring, hearing the Member for Grand Bank very passionately going after the government, and encouraging the government, really, to see that foreign overfishing was stopped on the Tail and Nose of the Grand Banks and on the Flemish Cap. He reminded me so much of what we used to be saying from 1982 until 1989, when at least I left here; and, Mr. Speaker, the government of the day believe the same thing.

Mr. Speaker, we can't say that the change that has occurred, that the depletion of our cod stocks and our groundfish stocks in general, was not foreseen. We can't say that it was not foreseen. We cannot say it was a change that occurred and we didn't know it was happening. The fishermen of this Province told us, at least from 1985 onward, that we were going to witness what we are now witnessing in the inshore and the offshore fishery.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Remember the fisheries task force you had and the Opposition (inaudible).

MR. TULK: The Member for Eagle River reminds me of something that I remember quite well. I think it was the Member for Stephenville, the Member for Bonavista North, the Member for Twillingate who is now the Minister of Fisheries, the Member for Port de Grave, the Member for Fortune - Hermitage and myself that took a task force around this Province, that we paid for out of our own pockets. We had twenty-two meetings around the Province in 1985, in which fishermen told us - oh yes, and the person at that point who was doing our recording for us was Rex Murphy.

We went around the Province, and we were told that the stocks were in danger, that we were overfishing, that we were tearing the grounds to pieces, that we were overfishing the spawning grounds and so on. We were told that by fishermen.

We came back and put together a report and offered it to this Legislature in order to beat it. As a matter of fact, the Premier of the day, to his discredit, although he stood four square for stopping foreign overfishing, I have to agree with that, but he would not accept the report. His partisan politics got into it. But the fishermen of this Province told us what was going to happen and I have to say that both sides of this House, not only wanted to stop the foreign overfishing, but they also wanted, and I think we still do, more say in the management of our fish stocks. The people on that side at that point in time called it - I believe it was - was it joint management you called it?

MR. DUMARESQUE: No, constitutional jurisdiction - shared jurisdiction.

MR. TULK: Shared jurisdiction, that was the phrase, shared jurisdiction. Now, Mr. Speaker, we can go on and blame but that will serve no purpose. The fact is, that today we are in a situation where outport Newfoundland - and my friend from Eagle River has made the point quite well, that there are many positive things happening in the fishery. Fogo Island Co-op, for example, this year will have one of its most profitable years on record because of the crab fishery and I know that along his coast and with Torngat Co-op - I have a very good friend who manages that - I know that in terms of product, at least, that is being caught, they are having a very good year. The truth of the matter is that if you look at the figures, there is still - I think the Minister of Fisheries revealed in October that there were still approximately $250 million to $260 million worth of landings but it is down significantly. The truth of the matter is that unless - and my time is running out, Mr. Speaker - unless we take control of those stocks, and let me say that in the few minutes that I have left that I do not believe for a minute that if we do the job right we are going to find ourselves facing gunboats from other nations. I don't believe that and I don't believe the Member for Grand Bank believes it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) sixty days left.

MR. TULK: Never mind the sixty days left.


MR. TULK: I will get to that. I believe that if we do, Mr. Speaker, our proper public relations internationally, and at some point in time that we are forced then to go out and escort somebody off those Banks, then I don't believe - can you imagine, Mr. Speaker? Can you imagine if we do our job right, and we are out there trying to protect those stocks for all of mankind, we escort people off, we take them out of it, can you imagine, if our boats go out and do that, the kind of outcry there would be from the world if the United States or Portugal or Spain or France or Britain said: `Oh no, we're going to fire on those fellows'?

Remember, Mr. Speaker, we are not talking, necessarily, about fish as such. We are talking about an environmental disaster that can -I suppose it is equalled by what is happening to the Brazilian rain forest. Can you imagine the international outcry there would be? I believe that it has been a point for other governments - the Mulroney Government, or whoever - to hide behind, that if we go out there and do that, then we're going to be, somehow, attacked. I don't believe that is the case at all.

Mr. Speaker, I think I have two or three minutes left. I move the adjournment of the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: I take it the debate has been adjourned then, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. I'm sorry, I should have put a motion.

All those in favour of adjourning the debate, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, `nay', motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I move the adjournment for the day, let me inform the House, Sir, that the business we propose to call next week will be legislation. I have sent a message to the House Leaders for the other two parties and told them to let me -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for St. John's East is House Leader for the other party, he is their intellectual driving force, he is their Whip, he is their leader, he is what they got. The good news for the Tory Party is they got more than they got over there. That is their one hope for survival.

Mr. Speaker, the bills which we will deal with, and I propose to deal with them in this order, are 25, 26, 34, 33, 32, 36, 37, and 27. They are all relatively straightforward pieces of legislation so we will go on with these on Monday and Tuesday, and, of course, Wednesday will be Private Members' Day, and we will see where we go on from there.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I wish all hon. members a restful weekend. It will be a pleasure not to be in the barrel for a day or two. I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at 2:00 p.m., and that the House do now adjourn.

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


In the Hansard report for Thursday, November 25, on page 761, the following comment will be found:

MR. ROBERTS: English is the official language in this House.

This is incorrect and should read as follows:

MR. ROBERTS: French is an official language in this House.

Hansard apologizes for this error.