November 29, 1993             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS       Vol. XLII  No. 24

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last Friday, the Member for Grand Bank made very serious allegations here in the House against my colleague the Minister of Justice. He accused the minister of having used his position as a member of Cabinet to benefit his private interests improperly. The Member for Grand Bank founded his charges on the statement that - and I'am quoting from Hansard - "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 worth of pharmaceutical supplies. About $6.3 million of that $9 million over the last number of years has been purchased from Pharmaceutical Supplies (Limited), most of it by standing order". He went on to say, and again I quote from Hansard, "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."

These are extremely serious charges, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Justice, in response, made two statements to the House. The first is that he had "no idea whether Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited (supplies) $1 or $1,000 or $100,000 or $1,000,000 -- to the government of this Province". The second was an assertion that any business done by that company with the government was done pursuant to the provisions of The Public Tender Act.

Mr. Speaker, I must tell the House that further information about this matter has come to my attention over the weekend, and this morning. I have caused it to be checked out. I believe it is essential that this information be made public at once because it goes to the integrity of public life in this Province.

My colleague, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation tells me that the Government of this Province have purchased almost nothing from Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited during 1992 or 1993. To be precise, the government paid $246.24 to that company during the twenty-two months that ended on October 31, 1993.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I am having difficulty hearing the figures.

PREMIER WELLS: I recall specific comments the minister made when he quoted from Section 21 of the Conflict of Interest Act about the minister sitting at the Cabinet table and making decisions affecting the health care of the Province and benefiting his company. I know what the member said. To be precise the government paid $246.24 to that company during the twenty-two months ended October 1993. And, lest there be any doubt, let me state that nothing has been paid by the government either to Armbro Pharmaceutical Limited or to Elizabeth Drugs Limited, both of which are connected to Pharmaceutical Supplies. The sole purchase from these companies was a small quantity of meningococcal vaccines bought by the Health Department in Corner Brook in April or July 1992.

In short then, there is absolutely no factual basis for the very serious allegations made by the Member for Grand Bank.

Mr. Speaker, I must go on to tell the House that my colleague the Minister of Justice, at the time of his entry into the Cabinet, issued instructions to Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited that it was neither to tender upon nor to accept any orders from government. He tells me that the management of the company assured him that these instructions have been honoured. If my memory serves me correctly a letter was sent directly to the department instructing the department not to purchase directly from the company. I believe that is correct. I remember because I issued a similar letter to the department myself when I became Premier of the Province.

Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited, I'm advised, has sold substantial quantities of drugs and like supplies to hospitals and nursing homes throughout the Province.


PREMIER WELLS: Hold on now, I know what the hon. member said, his statements are on the record. The greatest part of these purchases are made by the Newfoundland Hospital and Nursing Homes Association, in behalf of its member institutions. Never one of those decisions comes to Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, contrary to the inference of the hon. member, not one of those decisions are made in Cabinet. Some, I'm told, are made directly by the institutions concerned. All are made in accordance with the provisions of the Public Tender Act.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: None - and I repeat the word - none is made by the Government Purchasing Agency, which purchases anything bought by Government.

I am assured that all dealings between Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited on one hand, and publicly-funded agencies on the other, has been carried out in accordance with the spirit and the letter of the Public Tender Act. I remind the House that this legislation has been in effect for a number of years, and was first adopted at the request of the former Progressive Conservative administration.

Mr. Speaker, it should be pointed out too that Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited has had a long business relationship with the Government, which began many years before my administration took office. My colleague's acceptance of my invitation to join the Cabinet resulted in a prohibition against that company continuing that business with the government.

Mr. Speaker, I must tell the House that this matter cannot be allowed to rest there. I have spoken out strongly and often against the tactics of character assassination that have been adopted by the Opposition in the last two or three months. The attack upon my colleague last Friday is a glaring example of this. Were it not for the fact that he is protected by the immunity accorded to all members of this legislation, the Member for Grand Bank would be called to account for his statements by a Court of law and would no doubt have to account for it. He is aware that he can make such baseless statements here in the House without having to answer for them. His conduct is not worthy of a member of this House. He has played loosely with the truth, and can only be called to answer for it by public opinion.

The member's failings are all the greater because this is the second time that he has made such reckless charges. Members will recall that he has made allegations against my colleague the Minister of Education, arising from a dispute about payment of the insurance proceeds on a crab plant in Roddickton. The RCMP investigated these statements, at my request, and concluded that they were completely without foundation.

It is not for me to tell the Opposition how to conduct themselves. All that I will say, and I say it with considerable sadness, is that such conduct by the Member for Grand Bank can only draw the House of Assembly and all of its members into disrepute, and lower the tone of public life in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have seen far too much of this in the past. I have worked hard to try and change that state of affairs. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition shares my determination to conduct public life in this Province on a proper basis. I can do no more then to ask him to take the action he deems appropriate to deal with the reckless conduct of the Member for Grand Bank.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Let me first say to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, put your own house in order before you tell someone else how to run theirs. Put your own house in order, you can skate any way you want with your reference to $246.24 purchased from government, but what are hospitals and nursing homes in this Province, Mr. Speaker, if they are not - they are funded by the taxpayers of this Province, decisions made for budgets at the Cabinet table of which the Premier Chairs and the Minister of Justice sits next to him. Now you can skate anyway you want, it is public funds, it is taxpayers money and for the Premier to go on, on page 2. Page 2, I am talking about pharmaceutical supplies and: has sold substantial quantities of drugs and likes to hospitals and nursing homes. That is precisely the point, Mr. Premier, that is precisely the point. $6.3 million of taxpayers money have gone to hospitals and nursing homes from the taxpayers of this Province, budgeted for by the Cabinet, of which this minister has sat and made decisions. That is the point.

Now this is public information, Mr. Speaker, public information. Anyone can go down and get it. It is public information, it is public funds and the Premier can try to twist and squirm and it is as the Leader of the Opposition said a few days ago, about the tangled web; that is exactly what he is trying to do here again, and, Mr. Speaker, it is as plain as the nose on your face. Who does the Premier think I was alleging that the money went to, the Junior Red Cross clubs across the Province? Where is the health care budget of this Province spent, if it is not in hospitals and nursing homes across this Province? So, Mr. Speaker, I am glad the Premier took this opportunity today because it is like Clint Eastwood said: Go ahead and make my day, because that is what you have done, because you have verified everything that I have said on Friday, and then his reference to the minister, about the minister giving instructions to pharmaceutical supplies; this came to mind over the weekend, Mr. Speaker, since Friday. If the minister had given those instructions, I am sure with his sharp, legal mind, he would have remembered it on Friday, Mr. Speaker, I am sure he would have. As for the Leader of the Opposition taking action to deal with me appropriately with my reckless and cowardly behaviour, I say to the Premier, you can call me anything else in life, Mr. Premier, but don't ever call me a coward, because that's one thing I ain't, I tell you right now - that's one thing I ain't!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You can squirm all you like to try to get out from under the mess that you've caused in this Province with your sell-out of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but don't try to turn the tables on me. Because I'm not the one who is selling out, you are. And the whole issue is tainted because of the actions of your minister.

With regard to Roddickton, I say to him, there was no direct inference to the Minister of Education in the Roddickton scam. I will still call it a scam. There were problems up there, allegations made by the people of Roddickton, allegations that were brought to me by the people of Roddickton, I say to the Premier. They weren't my allegations. They were lacking in representation on the fish plant issue, I say to the Premier. That is why that happened.

Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by saying that really today the Premier has verified that Pharmaceutical Supplies Limited has done very, very well from the taxpayers of this Province through their sales to hospitals and nursing homes throughout the Province. I want to conclude by saying, any way you slice it, Mr. Premier, your Minister of Justice sat at the Cabinet table, made Budget decisions about expenditures to hospitals and nursing homes, and Pharmaceutical Supplies -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - got $6.3 million out of $9 million and, to me, that is still a conflict of interest.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Fisheries Research Conservation Council has just released the recommendations it is making to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans for 1994 quotas for groundfish in Atlantic Canada.

In view of their implications for Newfoundland and Labrador, I wish to inform hon. members of some of the Council's recommendations.

Overall, Mr. Speaker, the scientific assessment of stocks is that all stocks are in trouble. This presents another critical situation for the fishery and its workers, but the news is not unexpected. There has been an increase in the harvest of juvenile fish of all stocks over the past three to four years. In many cases, fleets have not been able to catch quotas, and the spawning biomasses of key stocks are at the lowest levels ever recorded.

With regard to stocks that most directly impact on this Province, the FRCC is recommending that the Gulf cod fishery be closed; that is, fishing zones 4Rs and 3Pn. It might be noted, Mr. Speaker, that the Province has been recommending the closure of that fishery for the past three years.

The Council is also recommending that the quota for the Gulf redfish stock be reduced to 30,000 metric tonnes from 60,000 tonnes. While Newfoundland is not the main harvester of this stock, this recommendation, if implemented, will have a direct impact on that area's otter trawl fleet of vessels less than sixty-five feet, and will affect offshore plants on the South Coast, and processing plants in the Port aux Basques area.

In its recommendations, the Council has echoed the Province's repeated concern for the Northern turbot stock, particularly the overexploitation of the stock by foreign vessels outside the 200-mile limit. I agree completely with the Council's view that the turbot fishery outside of 200 miles must be brought under control.

On the South Coast, where the 3Ps cod fishery will be closed until May of 1994, the Council will be making a recommendation when it has available the results of the scientific stock assessment that will be undertaken during this winter.

It comes as no surprise that the Northern cod stock is showing no sign of recovery, and therefore not unexpected that the Council has recommended a continued moratorium on this stock.

Mr. Speaker, there are other recommendations, but these are some highlights. I will be discussing them with the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on December 16 at a meeting of the Atlantic Council of Fisheries Ministers.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Really, what the minister has done today is he has given us a brief synopsis of the recommendations that are coming from the FRCC, and none of us expected very good news. We had hoped it would be better, but I guess we have to accept the facts and try to make the best of a bad situation.

I agree with the minister when he spoke about the Gulf cod fishery that should be closed, and that the Province has been recommending that. He is right, I concur. I think it really should be closed. The impact of the reduction in the redfish stocks in the Gulf to 30,000 from 60,000 tonnes, as the minister said, is going to create some difficulties for our processors, workers in our plants on the South Coast, and particularly in the Port aux Basques area, so again we get more pain, I guess, coming from today's recommendations.

Now, the minister went on to talk about the turbot, and of course, the FRCC has made a recommendation about this as well, particularly the foreign effort outside of 200. Who can disagree with that? It is something that we have been pushing for, and I mean `we', all of us in this House, any number of times in the past, have put resolutions calling for the elimination of foreign fishing outside of 200.

I guess the only thing I can say to the minister there is that thirty-four days have passed since the October 25 date. That leaves about fifty-six for the new Prime Minister and his Minister of Fisheries, and the Premier then, I guess to implement, for us Newfoundlanders, the most important election promise, and that was that by ninety days all this -

MR. SPEAKER: The member's time has expired.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - foreign activity on the Nose and Tail of the Banks was going to stop. There are fifty-six days left and counting, Mr. Speaker. We look forward to that day when the federal government, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Fisheries, will implement and get the foreigners outside of the 200-mile limit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to return to a favourite issue, a prominent issue in the minds of people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is the privatization of Hydro.

In recent days, during some discussions in debates that we've been holding on this issue - the Premier and I in particular last Thursday on public television - one of the main arguments that the Premier gave for selling Hydro has been that it would improve the credit of the Province by getting rid of the billion dollar government guaranteed debt. In addition to some interesting news on the front page of the Telegram this morning with respect to a poll, which indicates nearly 75 per cent of the people of this region oppose his idea, and only a little over 7 per cent agree to it, we also have some striking public comments from two of the government's credit rating agencies now which have publicly debunked the Premier's claim, and in fact have confirmed what we've been saying.

For you, Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote. Standard and Poors of New York told the Sunday edition of The Evening Telegram yesterday, and I quote: "...[W]e don't foresee ourselves changing the rating as a result of the divestiture." End of quote. The Dominion Bond Rating Agency said, quote: "We've always considered Newfoundland Hydro to be self-sustaining, so we've excluded its debt from our debt calculation" of the Province. Which is precisely what we've been saying.

I want to ask the Premier, isn't it time for the Premier to defend this deal with facts, if he has any facts, not with unsupported speculation and wild exaggerations? Since the credit rating agencies have now blown his argument, will he now admit that getting rid of Hydro's debt will not improve the Province's credit rating, will not lower interest rates, and will not increase the borrowing capacity of the Province, as he has been arguing?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, before answering the question -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - I would like to have the copy of the paper from which the member read.

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

MR. SIMMS: Yesterday's Evening Telegram.

PREMIER WELLS: May I have the copy that he was reading? Because I understand he left out a word.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, that should be tabled if it's read from.

PREMIER WELLS: May I have a copy of what he is reading from? Perhaps the Clerk would pass me a copy of what he is reading from.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was quoted accurately.

PREMIER WELLS: I would like a copy of what he is reading. When I have the copy I will answer the question, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I won't recognize the hon. member until I have order in the House.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I guess we see what the answer is to the question. I guess we will see if the Premier will ever respond to the question.

I quoted accurately. If the minister thinks I (inaudible) why don't you tell the Premier what the quote was?

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) we've ever seen to it!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm having difficulty hearing the question when members are speaking across the House.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier another question with respect to the debt argument that he has tried to put forward. He used the $250 million as a figure, for the purpose of argument, I guess. He said that the $250 million in cash that would come from this sale would be used to reduce borrowing for the next year or two or whatever, and that that would save up to $20 million a year in interest payments. Now on the other hand he does admit that government would lose the $10 million that it gets every year from Hydro from the debt guarantee fee which then reduces the financial benefit to $10 million. I think that was the argument that he used, according to the tape that I watched yesterday, in the debate last Thursday.

The real question is, what will be the real cost to the Province in order to attain that additional $10 million that he talks about? How many additional millions of dollars will the Province lose in income tax, in retail sales tax, in other consumer taxes and other municipal taxes, as a result of direct job losses and indirect spin-off job losses throughout our economy. Can he answer that question?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am going to now quote accurately and fully the quote that was in the newspapers, the comment from Standard and Poor's, that the hon. member quoted inaccurately. He left out a very significant word. Here is the full quote, Mr. Speaker: "Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's of New York, and Dominion Bond Rating Services, confirm that losing Hydro's debt won't improve Newfoundland's rating overnight," - a very important word. They won't improve it overnight. Nobody suggested that it would improve it overnight, but in the end it will improve it because, you see, simple logic explains the question.

Every person in this Province who owes money - every person knows that if they go to the bank to borrow some more money, the bank takes into account what they owe before they will lend it. It affects the credit rating. Every additional dollar they borrow affects the credit rating of the person. Government and government agencies, Mr. Speaker, are no different.

Now, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the greatest false impression that has been created by some of the irresponsible comments coming from the Leader of the Opposition and others is that government reaps great profits from owning Hydro, and this is going to be a significant loss. The simple truth is, Mr. Speaker, until 1989 government got not a cent of profit from Hydro. Hydro did not pay. Hydro did not pay a single cent of profit to government.

MR. SIMMS: Government owns Hydro (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: It still hasn't paid any profit, Hydro, since 1989.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: In 1989 the government instituted a principle that we would charge every commercial type agency - not municipalities, not health authorities or anybody else like that, but every commercial type agency - 1 per cent on any money we guaranteed for them. Hydro was a commercial type agency. We charged them the 1 per cent, too. Since 1989 Hydro has paid the government about $10 million per year as the guarantee fee. That is all government has gotten from Hydro. Government has not gotten any profit.

Now in the meantime, Mr. Speaker, opinions that have been expressed have suggested that government could get anywhere from $250 million to $350 million from the sale of Hydro. Nobody knows yet what it is going to be, but if you assume that it is somewhere in the vicinity of $300 million, or even $250 million - the number used by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition - even if you assume that, anywhere in that vicinity, the government -

Mr. Speaker, there are certain words that are acceptable in this House, and others that are not, and the Member for Grand Bank had better play by the rules or leave the House - one or the other.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if the government receives $250 million, or $300 million, or $350 million as a result of the sale of Hydro, and that enables us to go forward next year without borrowing another dollar, it will avoid that much borrowing; and if we avoid $300 million worth of borrowing, as a result of the sale of Hydro, that will save us anywhere from $22 million to $25 million every year hereafter. We will save that much for the taxpayers of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: At what cost?

PREMIER WELLS: And the cost will be the $10 million guarantee fee. That is all that government has gotten out of it - $10 million guarantee fee.

Now in the meantime, Mr. Speaker -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, in the meantime government will cause the efficiency of the delivery of electrical power in the Province to be greatly improved by eliminating duplication and once we get by the first five years or so, electricity rates will not increase as much thereafter as they would otherwise increase with duplication.


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, you have heard the laughter - now you know why this Province was in such a mess when they were responsible for government. They don't even know what efficiency means, they made that obvious by the mess they created.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: I don't know how much leeway you are going to give me, Mr. Speaker, but he responded to my question with ten or twelve different comments that had nothing to do with the second question that I asked him. The first question, by the way - if he is going to quote the paper, he quoted from the wrong section. His great advisor, the Minister of Finance, didn't show him the right paragraph. It is the following paragraph, a little further down the page: `Stephen Dafoe, an associate director at Standard and Poors, says it's difficult to gauge the effect Hydro's privatization would have on the rating. It would depend in part on the conditions of sale and the selling price,' he said. `But as of this time we don't foresee ourselves changing the rating as a result of the divestiture.' I quoted him accurately and the Premier tried to fool it up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: So I hope he will apologize. I hope he will apologize for playing little games.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with respect to another point that he made - he flicked out this issue of the great debate about whether or not Hydro is profitable. Nobody asked him a question about that at this point in time but it is coming. He flicks it out because again he wants to use trickery, he wants to play word games to try to get people confused about the issue. The issue of whether Hydro is profitable and whether the government receives money from Hydro are two different issues. The fact of the matter and the honest truth is that Hydro has had a profit every year for the last fifteen years - that's the truth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Whether they have given money to government is another issue, a totally separate issue, but do you see how tricky he is? He likes to try to tie it together.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know I am getting off track a little, but let me ask the Premier the question - I want to stay on the line that I have been trying to get on, which has to do with the real cost. I asked him if, in fact, the real cost of this saving of $10 billion or $20 billion will be covered off by the loss of jobs, because there are obviously going to be losses of jobs and there will be losses of tax revenue to the Province, to municipalities and so on and so forth. By the way, the elimination of jobs was a big issue with the Premier when he initially announced this decision back on October 1. He indicated avoiding duplication and efficiency - which, in fact, are two different things, too - it was a big issue and, in fact, it was going to cost a loss of jobs. Now, in our debate last Thursday, he downplayed the loss of jobs, `No, no, there are just going to be a few jobs perhaps in management.'

The Premier's recent revision of his statement, with respect to that issue, has now been contradicted again publicly by the Vice-President of Fortis, Mr. Stanley Marshall. I don't know if you have seen those comments or not, but here is what he said, and I would like to quote it for him: `The real logic behind the merger is in the savings that will result from eliminating duplicate services and manpower.' Now, if that is the real reason, I want to ask the Premier, when is he going to stop trying to fool the people into thinking that there will not be major job losses and admit, as Mr. Marshall has clearly admitted here now that, in fact, there will be major job losses as a result of this merger? Why doesn't he admit that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am going to read the complete quote from the rest of that article first, Mr. Speaker: `Stephen Dafoe, an associate director at Standard and Poors, says, it's difficult to gauge the effect Hydro's privatization would have on the rating.' But it will have an effect, Mr. Speaker, and we will see in due course.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when the advisers told us that avoiding duplication, making the delivery of hydro in the Province more efficient would be beneficial for the future electrical rates in the Province, one of the questions we asked them was, How many jobs will it affect? They said to us, `Honestly, we don't know.' `We' - that is, Hydro people - `can only tell you from our point of view at this time. That is a fact that would have to be determined if, as and when a merger takes place.' That can only really be determined with any certainty if, as and when a merger takes place.

The Leader of the Opposition and others have said it is going to cost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs.

MR. SIMMS: And it will.

PREMIER WELLS: Okay, now he has just affirmed it, it is going to cost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs and his statement now: "And it will," so we know that is his position. It is going to cost hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs, okay. Well, this is what he is putting forward.

MR. SIMMS: More than three.

PREMIER WELLS: More than three what?

AN HON. MEMBER: Hundred.

PREMIER WELLS: More than three hundred. Is that the proposition, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds?

MR. SIMMS: Two hundred to four hundred are direct jobs. Two hundred to four hundred are (inaudible) jobs.

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I have recently asked the people: Give me your best judgement as to what it could be. The best judgement, Mr. Speaker, is, they can't imagine circumstances that could result in more than 150 job losses, if that many. They can't imagine circumstances that would result in more than 150. Now, they still don't know how many the job losses will be, Mr. Speaker, but they can't imagine it would be more than 150, if it would be that many.

Now, I still don't know, and I have to tell the House, Mr. Speaker, that is an estimate based on the best judgement that can be brought to bear on the issue. So, this bogeyman that the Opposition is putting about, of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs, just reconfirmed by the Opposition, is utterly false.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker. Now, Mr. Speaker, is -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Isn't it rather interesting now as we see the days go by. On Thursday night, in the debate, it was only a few jobs, maybe a few management jobs, and in a matter of three days at least, we have them up now to 150, and he didn't say very much beyond that since that time. But now, Mr. Speaker, I remember, you know, when the Nova Scotia power thing was carried out - which he likes to use as a great example. There was an announcement by the government there that there wouldn't be any job losses, and about a month ago, we understand, there has been an elimination of 400 jobs, about six or seven months later when that occurred, so it would be interesting to see what happens.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask him, by the way - he said he asked the people for some advice as to the number of job losses; I wonder, would he table that information for us? Whom did he ask? Or was it the same group which gave the verbal report? That is what I would like to know and maybe he can answer that for us when he answers this question.

MR. BAKER: How many questions is that now you have?

MR. SIMMS: I have asked one question. I say to the Minister of Finance, don't get excited by it. Don't get touchy and excited now, I say to the Minister of Finance, just because we are getting to you. Just because we are getting to you, don't let it show; you are supposed to keep your cool. I asked him one question specifically thus far: Will he table this analysis on the job losses that he just referred to - will he table that, give that information to the people of the Province? I will ask only one question for now, Mr. Speaker; obviously, the Minister of Finance thinks I should not be asking any more than one at a time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I asked the individual whom I thought would be in the best position to bring that knowledge to me and that individual, is David Mercer, the head of Hydro. And he estimates that the number would be at most 150, if that many. Now, that is an estimate. Now, I caution people that that is an estimate. It may not reach 100, for all I know, it may be 160, it may be 170, but I rely on the advice I got from the Hydro people.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I accept that advice and I value his judgement greatly.

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

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary, just on the issue of job loss. I am not quite sure, I might have missed what he said, but did somebody say he moved up to 170?

AN HON. MEMBER: He said it might be 170.

MR. SIMMS: So it might be 170. Now, Mr. Speaker, the number I have used publicly is between 200 and 400, so he is getting pretty close to the number I am talking about now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hundreds and hundreds (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, Mr. Speaker, 200 is hundreds. Perhaps the Premier doesn't understand that. Now, I want to ask the Premier this: What is his estimate of the spin-off job losses, because any time a government announces a new project and there are going to be a couple of hundred jobs created they always use the spin-off factor. Sometimes it is two to one but we are using a conservative figure because the same thing applies. If you lose a significant number of jobs there is a spin-off in that. We are using one to one and that is why we are saying 200 to 400 in spin-off, so you are looking at 400 to 800 jobs. Will the Premier tell the House, does he not expect in addition to the 150 or 170, or whatever it is, direct job losses, does he not expect there to be any spin-off job losses? Is that what he is trying to tell us now?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am getting closer now to an explanation as to why they left this Province in such a God-awful mess, financially. They have made it very clear. Carrying his logic to the extreme all we have to do is just keep hiring people. It will solve all our problems. Just keep hiring people. Where is the money going to come from? Does he have no respect or regard for efficiency and running an efficient and effective government, running an efficient and effective Province? Does he not know how economically valuable it is to run businesses in the Province and to run government and government agencies on an efficient basis so that we can generate even more economic activity and get all sorts of spin-off jobs? No, Mr. Speaker, his logic is totally and completely wrong.

One of the first things they told us - and I think I made this clear in a speech I made to the Board of Trade, one of the first things they told us is that they would expect that the job losses incurred would be handled in an orderly way, by early retirement, by normal provision for special severance and so on, by the normal accommodation along those lines. No, Mr. Speaker, we know their approach. They have a record of seventeen years of making an economic mess of this Province. We intend to make this Province, government and all its agencies, and businesses, an effective, efficient, economic unit, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: My question is for the Minister of Environment and Lands. I would like to ask the minister how many hundreds of millions of soft drink containers per year will now end up in the environment because of her government's unwillingness to institute a deposit system in this Province, or to require the use of refillable soft drink containers?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all I am very grateful for this question because I have been most anxious to get on my feet and discuss it. The beverage container deposit refund system is not going to go ahead at this present time because we have a much broader, more far-reaching program that will deal with litter of all kinds.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. COWAN: If we put a deposit refund on just drink containers what do we do, for example, about fast food containers which are the worst source of littering in the Province? Indeed there are many beverage containers, as the hon. member indicated, but they do not make up the entire waste stream. I myself am extremely excited that we have been able to find a way to deal with all of the litter that has accumulated along our highways.

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

MR. HARRIS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

I guess I should call her the Minister for Excuses who is now becoming known as Stand Pat Cowan in this Province when it comes to dealing with the problems of the environment. The excuse this time is that there may be other garbage around. Why does the minister and her department continue to respond only to the needs of the soft drink industry and not to the needs of our people? Why does she not help to create a true system of recycling based on the deposit system as other provinces such as Alberta have done, create jobs and save the environment at the same time? Why does she not do that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker, I am just thrilled with these questions. First of all the provinces who have put in a deposit fund system are sorry now that they have because they see provinces like Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Manitoba incorporating this wider program. Why should government, Mr. Speaker, become responsible for putting in place regulations that really concern issues that are not of government's making? For example, government has not encouraged people to put litter in the ditches. The litter has been put into the ditches by people who have purchased the packaging from companies and the new model we are following is to make companies responsible for their own litter. It is the way we will be pursuing the tire business. As you know there are tires piled all over the place and are continuing to be piled all over the place. We have approached the tire industry and have asked them to become stewards for their own products and they are delighted, just as the soft drink people are, and the Grocers' Association, to become responsible for their own waste.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Premier, while the civilian employment at the Argentia naval facility is one of the bright spots in the Newfoundland economy at the present time, but with the Americans putting the phase out of Argentia forward to October 1, 1994, from its original scheduled time of June, 1995, and with the area presently crippling under some 45 per cent unemployment, and projections have been done to say that without the American base, unemployment figures in our region will jump to some 73 per cent, we want to know how much longer we will have to wait for your government to decide what to do about the situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government will do for Argentia what it has done for every other community in the Province where business or industry is closing down - everything that it possibly can - but notwithstanding the member's question, I have to tell him that the people of Argentia are no more special than the people of Long Harbour, and no more special than the people of Labrador City. We have to do everything we possibly can to try and restore economic activity, but we cannot fabricate jobs out of thin air.

We spent a lot of effort with the former conservative government in Ottawa, particularly with Mr. Crosbie, and did not make any real progress, to try and persuade them to adopt the principle of putting in place a foreign trade zone, because we thought Argentia, when the Americans pulled out, would be very suited to that. We also reminded them that the Canadian government was adding to the problem. They were closing out the Canadian Armed Forces unit there and moving them to Halifax. I have forgotten how many are there - fifty, sixty or seventy. If the opposition were describing it, it would be hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, I have no doubt, but I think it is about fifty or sixty, something in that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Eighty, is it? Eighty, the hon. member says, so I accept that.

So they are contributing to the problem as well.

Now I have already spoken to the Prime Minister, to Mr. Massé, and to Brian Tobin. I have written Mr. Ouellet and Mr. MacLaren on the issue, and asked them to now give consideration to that proposal to see if this is an effective means to help us deal with the economic consequences of the closure of the base at Argentia. I do not know what the answer will be. Up until the time that they were turfed out of office, the Tories just would not have anything to do with it.

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

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

Mr. Premier, while the Reuse Study of Argentia, that was funded by ACOA, is now complete, and the study recommends that $38.4 million be spent in Argentia over a ten year period, and your government has had the Reuse Study now for nearly two months, when can we hope to know that the Province will make a commitment to participate in the Reuse plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: You don't solve economic problems simply by spending money. That study is being assessed now.

One of the things that I recall was there was going to be an American museum, or a museum of American participation in military activities in Newfoundland. That is hardly likely to generate the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs that we are going to need in Argentia to offset the effect, so spending $34 million simply on the recommendations contained in the Reuse Study will not necessarily solve all the problems. There may be some things of value. The study is being assessed right now, and there may well be some things of value in it, and when that assessment is complete I will be in a better position to address the House on the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, may I give notice of three bills, please.

I give notice I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following bills entitled:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992";

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act"; and

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Elections Act, 1991".

MR. VERGE: What about the Police Complaints Commission?

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my hon. friend that the first notice I gave will expand, if the House so approves, the Police Complaints Commission by three members.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution.

WHEREAS the Strategic Economic Plan for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador firmly establishes the private sector as being the primary engine of economic growth within the Province;

AND WHEREAS 66 per cent of all new jobs are all generated in the area of small family business;

AND WHEREAS small family business accounts for 55 per cent of the gross national product;

AND WHEREAS various studies and reports have pointed to small-and medium-sized businesses as one of the potential growth areas of the economy of this Province;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly re-affirms its recognition of small business as a major part of the private sector economy of this Province and re-affirms its commitment to:

1. Support of organizations that promote the interest of small business;

2. Development of programs to assist small business in this Province;

3. Promote the fostering of an economic environment wherein small business development is encouraged;

4. Continuing to streamline the regulatory structures and processes of government so as to simplify and enhance the possibility of success of small business enterprises; and,

5. To encourage the development of entrepreneurship in the Province at the small business level generally.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm very pleased today to rise in support of a petition signed by 194 residents of Mary's Harbour and Lodge Bay. The prayer of the petition is as follows:

Whereas the only form of transportation from the community of Lodge Bay is via the Lodge Bay Road, and where there has been nothing done with this road since it was constructed, and whereas the condition of the road is deplorable and unsafe to travel, wherefore the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to see our concern and provide funds to crush stone and upgrade this road.

Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand and support the prayer of the petition, because the people of this community depend upon this road totally to go back and forth to work at the Mary's Harbour crab plant. Obviously it is very vital to them to be able to transport their goods and services to the community because they don't have an airstrip, unlike some of the other communities along the coast. Since this road was built we haven't seen the maintenance money or any kind of a directed maintenance budget for it from the department. I might point out that the road was built under a federal-provincial agreement, which was also unusual. I guess maybe that is one of the reasons why there wasn't a fixed maintenance budget associated with it.

At this point in time, that road is in very bad shape. Just this year, this summer, when I had the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation down with me, we saw that there was a washout in a portion of this road, and certainly that has made it that much more impassable. I would ask the minister to give this his every consideration, as I know he will, because it is absolutely vital to the people of these two communities to see that this road is upgraded, and hopefully upgraded to the maximum level possible, and be able to be there for some time to come, until we get the Trans-Labrador Highway so we can then connect to the Labrador Straits and in towards the other communities along the coast into Goose Bay. That is another project that these people want to see get the attention it deserves by this government and also, obviously, by the federal government.

I would ask the government to give it the concern that it obviously has for the people of this particular area of the Province. Because, regardless of where you live in the Province, Mr. Speaker, you must be getting a fair return from the tax dollars you are paying. At this point in time, these people in these two communities haven't seen the return to be able to deal with this type of problem that they would expect and they deserve. I thank hon. members for listening to this and I ask the minister to do what he can.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: This is another petition, Mr. Speaker; I don't know if anybody else wanted to speak to the hon. - oh, I am sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: Before receiving the next petition I will hear from the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hesitated to get up because I figured that one of the people on the Opposition side would have at least spoken -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: I will sit down and give you the opportunity.


MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the hon. the Member for Eagle River in presenting his petition on behalf of the people of Labrador, in the area of Lodge Bay. I have been quite clear about my feelings on the need for an improved road system across Labrador since the first day I was invited into Cabinet and being Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I have been listening to the comments from people across the Province, and I refer to some of the comments made by the former member representing the people of Labrador, Mr. Fenwick, and his critical way of opposing the people with the question, Why would the people of Labrador need a road system? With 30,000 people in Labrador, why would we need to spend a large amount of money on ensuring that these people would have a reasonable transportation network such as we experience here on the Island? I wondered why he would make such a statement. Just because you live in a small area of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, doesn't mean that you shouldn't at least enjoy some form of transportation equal to that of the rest of the Island. We are committed, Mr. Speaker, to improving the road conditions into Labrador, especially when it comes to the Trans-Labrador Highway. We are certainly committed to working with the federal government in the future and to making sure that we can at least make some start in negotiations for providing funding.

The Lodge Bay Road - the member is quite right, they had some difficulty this past year with a wash-out down there and the road condition is very, very deplorable. I had the opportunity, with the member, to visit not only Lodge Bay but other areas. And we are committed to providing funds, and funding may be available to us next year, ensuring that the people of Lodge Bay will get, along with every other part of the Island, a fair, equal chance of getting a reasonable road in their area. No less should they expect that than I would in my own community.

I am very aware of the situation and I am hopeful that from the funding being provided, we will do what is necessary for the people of that area in the 1994 season.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, I support the Member for Eagle River in his endeavour to improve the road conditions in Lodge Bay, an area that I am fairly familiar with myself from spending time on the Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: I will tell you afterwards - I am not going to tell you anything in public.

I was wondering just how long the Member for Eagle River has been sitting on the petition because the - but while $26 million has been cut from capital spending this year, I mean, we could have saved to balance the books, we could have done the Lodge Bay work earlier. It is very interesting that the minister got up to help his colleague for Eagle River. The yellow lines in the District of Placentia, Southeast, Point Verde, Ship Harbour and Fox Harbour have not been put down yet and there have been a couple of excuses given. We are looking to have a yellow line put on some pavement that was done out there this summer.

There is this, also, that they saved $400,000 to buy the property from the Fort Motel, which has not been properly answered yet, and there is a petition, of which I only have a copy, and I couldn't put to this House the good people of McCallum in September, put a petition to the hon. minister for them to get -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: It is up to you, Sir. The people of McCallum and Hermitage - I am supporting the people of McCallum to get a ferry service to tie in with Gaultois and Hermitage, and I would like to see the hon. minister address that. In cluing up, I do support the Member for Eagle River and I am glad that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is going to help him.

Thank you.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition here that addresses the House of Assembly. It is from 231 constituents of the community of Howley. People in the community, after hearing some of the recommendations made by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, were rather concerned and decided to initiate a petition in the community to have their concerns made known to government. However, I understand from the workings of the commission that they are probably not going to report before next spring - probably some time late in the winter or early next spring, and there is lots of time for petitions and so on; but this petition is in, and I don't intend to let is sit on my desk all winter, I want to make sure it is presented in the House.

The petition, from the people of Howley, says: `To the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, they have proposed changes to the current Electoral Boundaries Commission to reduce the number of districts from fifty-two to forty.' That has been done by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, although it says Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is not yet true. `While we do see changes necessary to reduce government spending, we strongly oppose putting Howley in the new district, the District of Baie Verte - White Bay. We feel Howley should be included with the new District of Humber - Bonne Bay, as most of our business is conducted there and all of our plans for economic growth have been and will be carried out in conjunction with the Humber Valley and Bay of Islands area. As Howley has no political, social or economic ties to Baie Verte, it would be detrimental to the town to be included in the District of Baie Verte - White Bay.'

Mr. Speaker, as I said, the petition is signed by 231 people, residents of Howley; there is also a covering letter from the council, signed by the Mayor of Howley, Calvin Samms, outlining some of the reasons why the people of Howley don't want to be put in with the District of Baie Verte - White Bay. They want to remain with the new District of Humber - Bonne Bay whether it comes to that or not; if there is not a new District of Humber - Bonne Bay, they would like to remain with the District of Humber Valley.

Some of the reasons they outline, as I stated before, are that Howley has no political, social or economic ties to Baie Verte, and therefore, it would be detrimental to the town to be included in the Baie Verte district. `Howley has nothing in common with the Baie Verte - White Bay district and we rarely travel there; we depend on Deer Lake, a half-an-hour's drive from Howley, for all our services. Schools, medical clinic, dental, shopping, garage and so on, all of the above services cannot be offered in the proposed Baie Verte district without long travel' - and that is a very key issue, long travel, because Howley is only separated by about half-an-hour's drive from Deer Lake, and yet, you have to pass White Bay South before you can even get into the District of Baie Verte - White Bay.

So I go along with the residents of Howley, Mr. Speaker, in their concerns and in outlining their concerns. Always, when it was recommended here that we should have some changes to the districts in the Province, I was one of the first who said: yes, it should be looked at. But I stand here as an MHA, making no apologies whatsoever, based on the salary I am getting now or the work I am doing in the District of Humber Valley as it is today, no apologies to anyone in the House or to any resident of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I work for everything I get out there and everybody knew what the salary was before I ever got into it. Everybody had an opportunity to run and I work as an MHA every day of the week, all hours of the day, every day of the year, and I make no apologies to anybody.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I say that I would be able to take on extra duties in a district, extra people, including the people of Howley, but under one condition, and that is, that I would have to have extra staff. I would not be able to handle it and do the same job I am doing today, with an increase of 4,000 or 5,000 people in the district. I can't do it. It is one thing to have representation and another thing to have effective representation, and if we are going to have it as MHAs - we are always apologizing. Why can't we stand up and be counted? If we are doing our jobs in our districts, what do we have to be ashamed of? Not a thing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, if I could have another few seconds to clue up? I go along with the people of Howley in their concern for leaving the community of Howley in the district and also - and I am sure there will be lots of other opportunities to do so later on - I want to make it quite clear that if there are any changes made to the District of Humber - Bonne Bay -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, and I will probably take in some of the people in the new district of the Member for St. Barbe, good people all down through Trout River, Bonne Bay, Woody Point, Norris Point, and as far west as Corner Brook. But I am sure, and I speak for all members of the House, that if that happens, if they are talking about saving money with regard to the salary of an MHA, they have to look at putting money into extra secretaries, executive assistants, or something. Let's not be hypocritical about it, if there are going to be changes it's not going to be the great amount they are talking about. There has to be something put in place so that MHAs with the new and expanded districts will be able to represent their people and represent them properly in the House of Assembly and elsewhere.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to say a few words in support of the petition from the people from my birthplace, Howley, so ably presented by my colleague, the Member for Humber Valley.

AN HON. MEMBER: A lot of good things came out of Howley.

MR. SIMMS: A lot of good things have come out of Howley, a lot of good things.

Mr. Speaker, I know the area quite well, of course, and I am familiar with the issue that they raise in their petition. I didn't catch the numbers.

MR. WOODFORD: Two hundred and thirty-one.

MR. SIMMS: That must be pretty well everyone in Howley, is it, or close to it? They can't for the life of them understand why they would be placed in the new Baie Verte - White Bay constituency, and I must be honest and say I can't for the life of me understand why either. Geographically, it certainly doesn't make much sense at all.

The Member for Baie Verte - White Bay is not here today but I happen to know that I think he has similar feelings as the people from Howley. As a matter of fact, and it is no reflection on the people from Howley, he would be proud to represent them if that is what ends up happening after we debate the boundaries distribution recommendations in the House. He would we proud to represent them if that is the way it turns out, but he agrees with the people from Howley and, I guess, the Member for Humber Valley now, when they say and when he says, it doesn't make a lot of sense. I think the commission has now, if it wants, the authority to make that kind of a change, and I am sure they will look favourably, at least I hope they will look favourably, on this argument.

Now, as for the broader issue that my colleague touched on, overall representation by MHAs, I think there is a great deal of merit in the argument that he puts forth, and some other members have put forth from what I have read, about the need to provide some extra assistance to MHAs who are going to have these larger areas to cover and the larger number of constituents. I believe there is some merit to that. I can't agree with my former colleague and friend, Mr. Kevin Parsons, who was quoted in the paper a few days ago as saying, rural members will be able to deal with the increased numbers of constituents quite easily. I don't agree with Kevin on that particular point.

I do agree with him and with the government - because after all, let's not forget, this is a government initiative. The government, the members of the Cabinet over there, had put forth the argument that the number of seats should be reduced. In fact, they have told the Commission: you must reduce them, at least to between forty and forty-six, according to the law. The Minister of Justice has publicly now adjusted that to say between forty-four and forty-six, I believe it is.

I suspect that is because there is considerable hassle from a lot of members on the other side whose seats are in some jeopardy. I suspect that is where it is coming from, including the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, although I have no doubt in my mind that he will be in this House for as long as he ever wants to be, no matter where, no matter what constituency he represents. How is that?

Mr. Speaker, I think this whole issue has a long way to go yet. I suspect when that boundaries distribution Commission's report goes to the inner circle, goes to the fifteen over there on that side who will make the decision, the Cabinet, I have a funny feeling they will look very hard at trying to protect as much turf as they can, realizing they've boxed themselves into a real corner now by ordering the Commission to at least reduce it by six. That is the very least. But being shocked when the Commission came back and said: we will reduce it by twelve, I think they were taken off-guard.

You could see them over the scampering. The Member for Windsor - Buchans, who doesn't like to see the new Grand Falls - Windsor district, he would like to see Windsor - Buchans. You see the Member for Lewisporte, who says the people from Lewisporte want nothing to do with the Minister of Finance, and I can't blame them for that. That is a reasonable position for the people of Lewisporte to take. You see them over there all over the place, scrambling. The Member for Harbour Grace, one day: it is a good idea to reduce the number of seats. The next day you see him appearing at the Commission and he is saying: oh no, you can't do it here.

The Member for Port de Grave, who is a minister, who brought in the legislation, had to be careful what he said in front of the Commission because he ordered the Commission to do it. So he sent his executive assistant to appear on his behalf, to mouth what his position was. And he says: `Oh, we can't make these changes.' It is happening all over the place. The Member for Terra Nova, I predict, I don't know if she has said anything publicly but I suspect if she does -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SIMMS: Anyway, maybe on another day we will have some more petitions to present, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I could make a couple of brief comments in response to the petition which my friend for Humber Valley presented.

First, let me say that my friend advised me in a conversation, as it were, behind the Chair, that he has presented a brief to the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission similar to the prayer of this petition. The message in the petition has been presented to the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission. My friend has done the right and proper thing, in my judgement, because of course the carriage of this matter -


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I'm not interrupting the conversations on the other side, I will continue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) listening (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I agree. The hon. gentleman, if he can't be civil, should try not to be rude. Now, Mr. Speaker, if I may. I didn't interrupt him. I had asked him not to interrupt me, Mr. Speaker.

Now, as I was saying, my friend for Humber Valley has, in my view, done the right thing, because the carriage of this matter is currently with the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission, which in due course will make a report to this House. That's the first thing that he should have done and I'm glad he has done it.

Secondly, I would remind members again that the Commission does not set boundaries. Only this House, under our current procedure which we propose not to change, may set boundaries. So in due course, after the report of the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission is received, it will be incumbent upon government to bring a bill into the House and to make in that bill provision for boundaries, and then members will debate and decide.

Thirdly, let me say that there are many on this side who have expressed views similar to those of my hon. friend for Humber Valley, that in the event the number of seats is reduced, as is this government's policy, there is a great deal to be said for increased staff to enable members properly to discharge their jobs. There are two things to remember. One is, a member functions as sort of a liaison or a link between people on one hand and the government, in the broadest sense, on the other - the bureaucracy, the political structure of government, the whole kit-and-caboodle together. But, also, we sit here in the House representing the people who send us here. That is what, of course, gives us some difficulty with the great disparities in population.

The seat of Grand Falls, I think, is now the smallest one, probably, or next, leaving aside Torngat - which is a unique situation, we all acknowledge. Grand Falls, I believe, is about the smallest seat.

There is no reason why the gentleman for Grand Falls should speak for one-half as many people, as it were, as does his friend for Waterford - Kenmount, whose seat is roughly twice as large. Now, that is partially the result of what was done in the 1970s; it is partially the result of the very large growth in population in the Waterford - Kenmount district, which I don't think has been mirrored in the Grand Falls district.

Finally, let me make two other points to my friend, in respect to points made by my friend, the Opposition Leader. First, we did not tell the commission what they should or should not do. I made a brief to them on behalf of the Ministry, as anybody was welcome to do, and as any member may do, and many have done - some of them on this side; some on the other side - as my friend from Grand Falls has.

Now, no minister has made a presentation to the commission except me, and I spoke on behalf of the entire government. We did give them our thoughts on their proposal. We think that is proper because we believe they have a right to know what we think and why, and that is what my brief said. What the commission do with it is up to them and my friend, I suspect, knows most of the members of the commission about as well as I do, he would agree that it is unlikely that the Chair or the four other members will take direction from anybody except their own consciences and their own belief as to what they should do in this situation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, the suggestions that I have put forward, in my understanding, were consistent with the legislation as it now stands.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, let me make the point that there will be a debate in this session, because we have put down on notice - I gave notice today - to amend the Electoral Boundaries Act further, so members will be able to address this matter at whatever length they wish, consistent with the rules.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

o o o

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before we call Orders of the Day, would members agree to revert to Notices of Motion? My friend for Fortune - Hermitage would like to give notice of a Private Members' Motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Do members agree to revert to Notices of Motion to accommodate the hon. the Member for Fortune - Hermitage? Agreed? Okay.

The hon. the Member for Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The resolution reads:

WHEREAS it is essential to our future that we transform the education system of Newfoundland and Labrador from one of persistent underachievement to one whose achievement levels rank with the best in the nation; and

WHEREAS it is entirely within our own capacity to make changes to achieve this goal;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House approve in principle, the reform of the elementary and secondary education system of Newfoundland and Labrador, set out in adjusting the course, restructuring the school system for educational excellence.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the procedure of correcting Hansard, and I guess normally one should not correct Hansard, which is a very, very good attempt to make a verbatim record of what is said in this House, but there is an error in Thursday's edition which is so egregious that in my view it should be corrected, so I would like, if I may, simply to note, on page 761, during the report of a speech made by my friend for Port au Port, who is not in his seat at this moment, I am quoted as saying, "English is the official language in this House." What, in fact, I did say, as the hon. gentleman acknowledges, as others will, is that "French is an official language in this House". Then it goes on to say, Mr. Smith, "I recognize that." He did, in fact, say that.

Mr. Speaker, I looked it up; it was in May, 1968, if memory serves me correctly, this House adopted a motion in terms of which both English and French may be used in our debates, and while very few members - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, very few members, other than my friend for Grand Falls, choose to speak in French, or parlez en français - and I am not going to attempt to go any further than that - it is certainly proper, and I wouldn't want the record of the House to stand in Hansard, so I would ask that the correction be made.

Let me say, as well, I have had a word with the Hansard reporters who, in fact, first brought this matter to my notice. I have to tell you, I don't go home and read Hansard in the evening, Mr. Speakers. Others may, but I don't. The young lady called, apologetically, and I said, "No need to apologize, we will set it straight." But I would say to hon. members here who wish to speak other than in English, that Hansard in this Province has no bilingual capacity, nor can we reasonably expect the staff of Hansard to have a bilingual capacity, either the reporters, the transcribers or the editors. So any member who chooses to speak in French, in my judgement, would be well-advised to have a translation available; either that, Mr. Speaker, or take your chances. The staff will do the very best they can. We are not going to produce Hansard in French; we are going to produce it only in English, so if you want to use it, either do it at your peril or be prepared with the text so the transcribers can get it straight.

Thank you, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: I think they can handle the `oui, oui' of the hon.-

MR. ROBERTS: With that said, Mr. Speaker, could we proceed in order with the bills that I spoke of the other day, Bill's No. 25 and if or when we finish that Bill No. 26, they stand as Order's No. 7 and 8?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I am sorry. Would the hon. the Government House Leader give me that order again, please?

MR. ROBERTS: Order 7, Mr. Speaker, which is, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act," Bill No. 25. When we finish that, as we will some day, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act," Bill No. 26. We will then go on to Order's 9, 10 and 11, we will see how we get along then. Thank you, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act." (Bill No. 25)

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will provide a very brief explanation of what this Act is all about. In actual fact, it is to legitimize what has been going on for a period of time. There was agreement reached between provinces as to the method of dividing gasoline tax for inter-provincial carriers. Over the years there has been quite a bit of confusion and confusing policies on this particular issue throughout the maritime provinces. So there was an agreement that we get together and come up with a formula whereby we would register inter-provincial carriers and determine the gasoline tax payable according to an agreed upon formula which is included in this piece of legislation.

In the interim, Mr. Speaker, while the legislation was being prepared in the various provinces to allow for this, the industry itself decided to go along with this new type of regulation voluntarily and by far the vast majority of inter-provincial carriers are already being dealt with according to this formula. So, Mr. Speaker, it is a matter of an agreement that brings some order to the registering and collecting of tax from inter-provincial carriers that go through this Province.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is really not a great deal that can be said about this particular piece of legislation as the minister has noted. It has actually been in place for about three years. It was an initiative that was started prior to change of government really. I think this was brought through by the minister or by his predecessor, I think during their first year of office back in 1989 or 1990. In fact it was brought about on representation from the trucking industry who were finding unfair competition from out of Province carriers. They were coming in here and really spending no money in the Province and were taking advantage of lower gasoline prices or diesel fuel prices primarily in other provinces of Canada. I guess the only question that should be raised in relation to this, Mr. Speaker, is, what is the concept of reducing taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels to make us also more competitive? We still have it here but at least now others are paying it as well. So outside of reducing the competition the real advantage I suspect - if the minister has any data on that I would be interested to know how much we have gained from carriers of other provinces as a result of this particular piece of legislation.

I do not know why it has taken so long to get this here, it is really a relatively routine matter once you decide to put it in place. Now that was done more than three years ago, why has it taken three years for this legislation to be drafted and brought before this House today? There is nothing controversial about it. I think we all agree with it, the industry has agreed with it and have been using it now for three years. So maybe the minister would like to tell us why, if he knows, that it took so long? What, if any, other benefits has the Province received by way of revenues from extra provincial carriers coming into this Province?

There were other issues as well relating to that, as to what control or what impact we might have of keeping these people in the Province and ensuring that a certain portion of their other costs are here as well. Could the minister tell us what reciprocal agreements are now in place relating to licensing of extra provincial carriers? Do we now receive a portion of license fees based on the percentage of their mileage spent here? In other words, the same sort of reciprocal agreement that is in this legislation as it relates to gasoline and diesel fuel taxes, is there a similar reciprocal agreement as it relates to registration fees and so forth which might go toward the cost of highway upgrading?... because as we now see, the transportation of goods in this Province, is very, very rapidly changing from - well rail is long gone, but even now, from the marine route from shipping, more and more is being brought in by rubber tire simply because of rapid service, delivery of fresh goods particularly, and less damage and loss through breakage and pilferage and so forth along the way, so rubber tire mode seems to be the preferred route.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that we put into the Trans-Canada Highway as a result of Roads for Rails Agreement, I would say and that is a good opportunity for me to say, has tremendously improved the Trans-Canada Highway to the point where it is almost a pleasure now to drive across this Province, there are some areas that still require upgrading, but certainly our highway is in relatively good shape compared to where it was eight or ten years ago when we made that agreement, the federal/provincial agreement. In comparing it, I might say, with other provinces in Atlantic Canada, we stand in fairly good position and I recently noted an article from some officials I believe in Nova Scotia, who wished that they had an opportunity to -

AN HON. MEMBER: New Brunswick.

MR. WINDSOR: It was New Brunswick, I accept that correction. I think it probably was New Brunswick. They would be very happy to enter into a Roads for Rails Agreement and they know how much our highway system has improved as a result of that agreement. I will resist the temptation to go into the politics of the argument back and forth at the time we did that, and how much hon. gentleman opposite delight in making announcements of these millions of dollars that are being spent in Newfoundland today; I will leave that for another time. But, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to note that there is a tremendous pressure on our highways simply from a technical point of view. You can have all the cars you want driving on that highway, they will cause no damage. One transport truck, one tractor trailer, one eighteen-wheeler does as much damage as 5,000 automobiles travelling over the highway and when you design a highway, you design it for the eighteen-wheelers not for automobiles from the point of view of the design, the structural strength of the highway system.

So, Mr. Speaker, as traffic increases as it is increasing, there are two things we need to look at, ensuring that these tractor trailers are contributing, through gasoline taxes as they are here, through registration systems, user fees or whatever sort, so that transport trucks from out of the Province, are contributing to our highway system in a comparable manner as our transport fleet drivers/operators would be contributing in other provinces of Canada and in the United States.

I think that is an important aspect to look at and the other thing, is simply a word to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to have a look at the standards we are applying in designing our highways. We realize that we have in Newfoundland the most destructive weather from the point of view of highway maintenance and so forth. We have about twenty-five or thirty freeze/thaw cycles a year, which causes more damage to highways than any other single factor, so our highway standards need to be much more severe from the point of view of structural strength than in any other parts of Canada. I always envy other areas - I know I was at a technical mission before I was in politics, visited Windsor, Ontario and looked at concrete roads being built there, and water and sewer systems being put in and literally, they are building it on sand.

They put down their concrete roads simply by grading the sand and you have a perfectly load-bearing substructure then to put your concrete on, and when they install their water and sewer systems, they simply then push the copper pipe across through the sand by injecting water through it, and actually washing their way through, so you put in your water and sewer systems after, and you do not have to cut roads and pavement as we do in Newfoundland, which gives you a roller coaster effect on most of our roads, certainly in municipal areas, so we have a lot of disadvantages there, but again, the big problem and the big difference is when you are on a structure like sand, you have a very, very consistent bearing substructure as compared to in Newfoundland, where you have so many variable conditions from rock to sand to bog to something almost totally impossible to build roads on. It is not unusual to have to excavate twenty and thirty feet of bog and replace it with solid material in order to build a highway in this Province.

Unfortunately, the surface material that is available for building the subgrades of highways in many parts of our Province, is very difficult to find, now, suitable material. In fact, we will find over the next number of years that proper granular materials for highway construction will be one of the greatest commodities in this Province, and the cost and the value for those types of materials, Mr. Speaker, will increase tremendously.

With those few questions, perhaps the minister would like to answer those few points. I may have something else to say.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in support of the legislation. Clearly, it is terribly important for us to ensure that the users of our highways - particularly those heavy users that come in the form of transport trucks and interprovincial carriers, as we are dealing with here, transport trucks bringing goods across the Province - must pay their fair share of the cost of maintaining those highways through the gasoline tax.

As the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, of course, whose responsibility it is to maintain those highways, looks to the Minister of Finance for money from time to time in order to be able to meet the costs that are being placed before him, as a cost of maintaining our highways and roads. Some of them are maintained well and some of them are not maintained very well at all. We see from time to time ruts or ridges even in our new Trans-Canada Highway which are clearly made by the impact of these very heavy vehicles travelling our roads twenty-four hours a day. Any legislation, particularly the power to make regulations to control the ability to collect the taxes needed to do that, is very important.

What occurred to me, though, and I know that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is also interested in this aspect of it, looking at this legislation it strikes me that government, when it wishes, can go to all sorts of lengths of detail to be able to have an influence on an economic activity. I know the Minister of Environment is listening here, because perhaps she could learn some lessons just by reading the legislation of the Minister of Finance here. That government when it wishes can go to any lengths in regulating the operation of an industry. Here we just see, just simply to ensure, that those who use our highways, who have a headquarters in another province, pay their fair share of taxes. The Department of Finance officials and the `legal beagles' or whatever they are called, in the Legislative Counsel, can put together a set of regulations with power to enforce them, to control them, by the issuance or non-issuance of renewal of licences, by the requirement of showing their books and keeping certain appropriate records, can take a very pro-active approach in ensuring that businesses are conducted in such a way as to satisfy the public interest in paying tax.

Similarly, the Minister of the Environment's officials, if she would only ask them, could actually have some impact on the amount of junk that goes into the environment. I'm not talking about an anti-litter campaign, one that might ensure, that might convince some people to bring - instead of throwing it in the environment to bring it to a landfill site and increase our landfill sites. I'm not talking about that. I'm not talking about an anti-litter campaign. I'm talking about some measures by regulation, by developing an incentive system as the Minister of Finance has done. People who pay their taxes will get a licence. If they don't pay their taxes they won't get their licence, or they won't get it renewed. There is an incentive for people to comply with the regulations of government, to look after the needs of our Province and our public interest.

MR. BAKER: I don't see anything in here about that.

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Finance says he sees nothing in the Bill about that. If he reads carefully he will see how the renewal of a licence, contained in Clause 11 of the Bill, for example, the person who is dissatisfied by the refusal to renew a licence can apply to the minister for a review.

The minister can say: Well, yes, we will give you back your licence if you comply with our regulations, because the paragraph goes on to say that the minister can consider such an application, can confirm or alter the decision to refuse, cancel, suspend, or attach conditions to a licence or registration and notify the applicant accordingly.

So there, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is given some control and influence over the behaviour of these interprovincial carriers not even in the Province's jurisdiction. They live somewhere else. Their headquarters is somewhere else. They are only bringing their trucks into this Province, and yet the Minister of Finance has some control and some ability to have some control over them; but now the Minister of Environment and Lands, no, Mr. Speaker. She even goes so far as to say, in the House today, that the government does not care, that the government is not interested in protecting the environment. It is going to leave it to the industry itself.

Well, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance left it to the interprovincial carriers to pay their taxes, to come and pay it, what would happen? Come and pay your taxes, you Ontario companies, or Quebec companies. When you come to Newfoundland, stop by at the Minister of Finance's office and pay your taxes.

If the Minister of Finance said that, he would be very disappointed at the amount of taxes that he got, just as the Minister of Environment and Lands, and indeed the people of this Province, will be very disappointed at the response that we can expect from some sort of anti-litter campaign.

I say, Andy Wells tried that at City Hall, Mr. Speaker, with his `litter-busters' campaign, and while it may well be good to convince young people to care for the environment, and not to litter, nothing is going to work unless some system of regulation and control and government-sponsored schemes is going to work.

As I said the other day, Mr. Speaker, after spending a couple of hours and loading up a pick-up truck with materials for recycling, and bringing them out to the recycling centre, the return to my wife and I was $1.40. The point is, it was not done for the money in my case, but if you are going to rely on people doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, because it is the right thing to do, such as paying taxes is the right thing to do, then it is not going to happen. There must be regulations; there must be control; there must be some teeth.

Even a simple thing which the minister could do is take the liquor bottles which are sold by the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, filled up with alcohol. If the minister would instruct Newfoundland Liquor Corporation to tack on twenty-five cents per bottle - they do it from time to time anyway by raising taxes or by some sort of increase that they put in there - for the liquor sold at Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, and that money was used to finance a deposit system, because you would get twenty-five cents back when you brought the bottle back, well that would be a way which the minister, if she cared, could try and regulate the use and disposal of waste in this Province, just as the Minister of Finance is regulating the way that gasoline taxes are paid by interprovincial carriers who do not even reside in this jurisdiction.

So I commend the Minister of Finance in bringing forward this legislation. As the Member for Mount Pearl said, they have been doing this in some form or other anyway in the last three years, and now the legislation is catching up with the practice and giving the minister certain more powers; but while commending the minister in putting this in place, I also suggest that it may be an example to other ministers, such as the Minister of Environment and Lands, who does not seem to know that you can actually affect the people's behaviour by imposing regulations such as are imposed here.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like a few words on this.

As we were talking about fuel taxes as regards our highways, and the truck traffic on our highways, there is an issue that I have raised in the House over a couple of years, and I raise it again because I am not sure of the current status of it, and that has to do with the weighing of wood trucks by volume rather than actual weight itself. Government in previous years have made tremendous amounts of money not only from taxes but from highway traffic fines on a number of trucking businesses in my district, and there was a great hue and cry some time ago to have government implement a system of measuring wood by volume and I would like to know from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if he cares to speak in the debate, number one, has it been fully implemented, and number two, just what have been the results? I have not had many complaints of late so I am hoping that a new and better system has been brought in and there have been far less violations. I would be pleased if the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation would raise that.

Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Roads Act, the amendment to The Gasoline Tax Act, and I say that government should not stop here. Some of the gasoline tax is stifling the economy of our Province, especially in the case of small business. Many small businesses, because of the geography of our Province, have to travel great distances in order to pick up supplies and therefore their transportation costs have skyrocketed because of the amount of tax that is presently on gas in this Province. I believe there should be an incentive for small business in order that they can (inaudible) in the Strategic Economic Plan this government talks so much about. They talk about the impact that small business will have on the growth of this Province and I think there should be an amendment made to the gasoline tax to help small business operate here in this Province.

I would also like to speak of the people on fixed incomes, the low income people. Again we get back to the geography of the Province which is all important to the people who have to travel to the doctors, the banks, or whatever the case may be. In various parts of our Province people have to travel long distances and the cost of travelling now in your own vehicle has gone up tremendously over the past couple of years. Taxi rates throughout the Province, and package rates throughout the Province, have increased and it all goes back to the amount of tax we have to pay on our gasoline.

Most important of all, as the tourism critic for our party, I would like to touch on how important some improvements to the Gasoline Tax Act would be for the tourism industry in this Province. Millions of dollars are spent every year on attracting people to Newfoundland and Labrador. We have one of the greatest tourism potentials anywhere in the world. We spend millions of dollars to bring people here and then, because of the tax structure and our gas tax structure, we destroy their holidays. Mr. Speaker, we destroy their holidays because most people in today's world are on fixed budgets. They budget a certain amount for their holiday and when they come to this Province they realize that gas prices in this Province outdo any other province in Canada, and especially outdo what it costs to travel in the United States. Therefore in order for us to make our Province the attraction it should be I believe we should make amendments to the gasoline tax and offer to tourists that visit our Province a rebate on the tax on gas. I have seen some people stop at gas stations which I have been to, drive in with larger machines to fill up with gas, and they tell me it is twenty to thirty dollars extra to fill up their tank than it is in Nova Scotia. Still we keep on spending million and millions of dollars trying to attract people here and when we get them here we stifle them.

I also mention that everybody has to pay tax on gas when we stop at the gas pumps but everybody could save money if we would make amendments to our Gas Tax Act. Let us take, for example, the Member for St. John's South, how much money he could save on all his travels if there were amendments to the gas act and the taxes were shut down. It is for us all, we could all save money if they make amendments to the Gas Tax Act. I say to the government that I applaud trying to make amendments to bring more dollars in revenue into our government, but I also say that you shouldn't stop here. There are many ways to improve the Gas Tax Act, and therefore many ways to improve the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Just a few words on Bill 25, An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, a bill to amend the Gasoline Tax Act, an attempt to get more revenue from the transport industry when they are using the highways of this Province. The intent of this Bill is to generate more revenue from the transport industry - that is, the trucking industry - which utilizes our highways, and thus they would help pay their so-called fair share of the costs of maintaining the infrastructure that they are using, i.e., roads.

In the introduction of this Bill the Minister of Finance suggested that this is done in tandem, I believe, in conjunction with, in consultation with, the Maritime Provinces. My question to the Minister of Finance would be, has there been any consultation with the Province of Quebec on a similar type of arrangement? Because there is a tremendous amount of goods that is transported into this Province through Labrador from the Province of Quebec.

What happens - I've raised it in this House several times - is that the truckers are filling up their vehicles with fuel in the Province of Quebec because the gasoline tax, the fuel tax in this Province, is a tremendous amount higher. It's a tremendous amount higher in this Province than it is in the Province of Quebec. I would urge the minister to have - I ask that they would come in with, they would institute, a system of a graduated gasoline tax in border situations. Because really that is what the Province of Quebec does. They have a system of a graduate tax to allow competition in the industry in border situations.

What we've seen here is more regulation put in, attempting to garner a few more dollars out of the industry. I'm not saying they shouldn't tax the people who are using the infrastructure, the highways. I'm just wondering how much actually this is going to cost this Province to administer, and indeed if we are going to get more revenue, and it is going to help the transportation industry. Because that is also what we have to do, that's the whole purpose of - or not the whole, but one of the attractions of building new highways, to utilize them to transport goods. Of course, now we want to get a revenue from the people who utilize them in the transporting of goods.

I would ask that they would look a little more broadly, not just look at the Island portion of the Province. That they must work in conjunction with the Province of Quebec to have that province, or work with that province, to attempt to get more revenue from the truckers who are using the system there, or at least allow them - come in with a graduated tax system in the gasoline tax and diesel fuel tax that are used in the transportation industry, so that it would promote the industries within our own Province.

Because when we come in with a graduated tax system what will indeed happen is that that will promote more purchasing of the goods within our own Province. When the industry sells more of its products - that is the industry I am talking about, which of course is the people supplying the gasoline or the diesel fuel to the trucking industry - when they supply these fuels, they need to hire people to pump this, to calculate it, and all that is necessary to go with it. It is creating the opportunity to do more business in the small business sector.

I would ask the minister to answer those questions and to be cognizant of the particular problems that exists within Western Labrador specifically. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will deal with some of the points raised by members opposite. First of all this particular Bill says essentially that an inter-jurisdictional carrier shall pay to the Crown a tax which shall be calculated by the following formula; the tax payable by the inter-jurisdictional carrier equals the number of kilometres travelled within the Province by the fleet - if it is a fleet - during the reporting period, divided by the ratio between the total kilometres travelled in all jurisdictions and the total number of litres of gasoline consumed during that period, multiplied of course by the tax rate for gasoline as set out in our regulations. This means that it applies to the border at Labrador just as well as it applies to anything else where the –

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: I am not missing that except, as Minister of Finance, I am dealing with a tax issue. There are many other associated transportation issues that are properly the jurisdiction of another department of government. All I can do is introduce the tax measures that are particularly related to revenue generation, Department of Finance. I know there are other issues as well. I suppose we could have looked at graded rates - as you get closer to the border the rates become more and more similar to what is in the other province and so on but we felt that this was the best mechanism to get us the amount of money that we are due in relation to the amount of miles travelled in this Province as compared to the amount of miles travelled in the other provinces. In other words if the trucker buys gas somewhere else then tax for the proportion of that gas that is burnt in this Province has to be paid in this Province and essentially that is what it does.

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible) promote small industry. The idea of allowing a gas station to do more business because they are buying their gas in another boundary.

MR. BAKER: Yes, I would suggest that people would tend to avoid filling up just before they leave a province so they do not have to pay tax in the other province. So in that sense it will generate more business in here in terms of at least the buying of gas because the basic cost of gas is relatively the same. The tax is where the difference is. This is intended as a measure to make sure that we collect our fair share of gasoline tax from vehicles that are actually using our highways. That was the intent of it. I guess other measures, in terms of economic development, could be brought in by other departments in government or other issues with regard to the highways in the Province that have been brought up by members opposite, could be brought in by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

The issues relevant to the taxes that were brought up - I know a couple of members got up and indicated that perhaps what we should do is reduce taxes and talked about - there are other things that should be done with taxes. I would like to make it quite clear that in the circumstances of government - I guess any government - that a Minister of Finance has to, in a sense, like taxes. He has to dislike it and like it. He has to like it in the sense that when it comes Budget time there has to be money to provide for the hospitals, the schools, social services payments and to build roads and to repair roads and do all of the things that government does. There has to be money there for that and the way you get it is through taxes. You cannot expect somebody else to give you all of this money. You cannot expect to get it all in hand-outs so we have to generate a certain amount of this here and our taxation system is the way we use - our various taxation systems will be the way that we use to generate this revenue.

It is easy to say, well let's cut taxes here because it will please this bunch of people and cut another bunch of taxes to please another bunch of people but then when you have to close down two or three hospitals that does not please anybody so that is the logical result of a lot of these measures.

With regard to the reduction of taxation, we believe where possible, that we should reduce taxation. We believe that there are certain instances where a reduction in taxation will generate a benefit that hopefully is more than the taxes that you are giving up and in those cases we do that, reduce the tax rates to try to generate revenue more than we would lose by keeping the taxes in.

If it can be shown for instance, that by reducing the gasoline tax that will generate more revenue for government, then we will reduce it tomorrow. As a matter of fact you would be tempted to eliminate it then if you could create a lot of revenue by eliminating the gasoline tax, but obviously the case has to be made, and has to be made on a sound basis and if it can then we will eliminate that particular tax. There are people who argue that the payroll tax would have that affect and if the payroll tax were eliminated then much more revenue would be generated than we are now getting from the payroll tax, and I say to members opposite, if that case is sound and if it can be shown to be sound, then I would be the first one to recommend elimination of that tomorrow, and I guess that is the crux of the argument that will go back and forth across the House, and I guess if we were ever convinced that that would happen, then we could eliminate that particular tax.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mount Pearl is right, this has been a long time coming. The Bill was printed in the last session but it was never dealt with; there was not thought to be any hurry simply because the industry was doing it anyway and there was no particular hurry. I think there were, in the year previous to that, some implications that had to be checked out with the federal government, but there was a long delay in getting this into the House but it has been -

MR. BAKER: Pardon?

MR. WINDSOR: Could you tell us how many provinces (inaudible).

MR. BAKER: As far as I know now, it is the Atlantic Provinces that are agreeing with this type of formulation.

MR. WINDSOR: So a carrier from Quebec (inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Yes, they would still have to pay this, yes according to our formula, based on the number of miles.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) as compared to what a Quebec trucker would pay in Newfoundland?

MR. BAKER: I don't know. I hope there is not double taxation you know, but if in fact there is no such formulation in Quebec then that would encourage people to come to Newfoundland to fill up, so it would then mean increased business across the border.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to move second reading of this Bill. There were a couple of other questions asked that related to highway system, which I would be glad to look into but I do not know the answer to right now.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 25.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 25).

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." (Bill No. 26)

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What this Bill does, is to amend the Payroll Tax Act, Health and Post-secondary Education Tax Act, the one that was referred to a moment ago, to give effect to what - I believe I announced it in my December statement of last year, that is when it was announced -which essentially was that there would be a tax holiday for a year for small business, in terms of new small business, there would be a tax holiday from the payroll tax for new small business. This is something that has been in effect since the announcement and it essentially defines small business, what we mean by small business. That is laid out in section 2 of the act, so it first of all, provides tax exemption for new small business during that fiscal year. The second thing it does, and that is the purpose of section 3, is to provide tax relief for small business that previously existed and is not new small business, but wants to add jobs, and it provides tax relief for the additional jobs that were added during the year, so, Mr. Speaker, it is very simply to implement that particular policy that was announced in the December 4 statement of last year.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, as the minister just said, basically all he is doing is putting into effect what was announced in the Budget. This is one of a number of bills that will come forward from that statement. I should say from his statement of December, he did not include them in the Budget but he came in with his Budget, he took great pride in screaming: there are no tax increases or rates or anything else in his new Budget, no because he had announced them all in December, to take effect on April 1, or in some cases before. He had already given us all the pain. He didn't have to do it when he came through with his Budget some time in March.

Mr. Speaker, it is a tax holiday for small businesses for one year, tax relief for small businesses that are creating new jobs. One would find it difficult to argue against that. The only question I guess we can ask again is, when is the minister going to consider eliminating payroll tax altogether. It is a disincentive. It is nice to see small business given a break for one year, but let's give them a break every year. Because this is something that puts them in a less competitive position with other parts of Canada. It is a very counter-productive piece of legislation that we have not agreed with. We didn't agree with it before they brought it in, and we've disagreed with it every year since.

I think this government is starting to realize that it is counter-productive. I say to the minister, I realize full well that there is a certain amount of money that government has to raise in order to supply the level of service being demanded by the people of the Province. We say to him again, the payroll tax is not the way to do it. The health and post-secondary education tax, that's only a name, it has nothing to do with health or post-secondary education. Every year since this tax was instituted we've had less funding for both of those services. So I mean, this is absolute nonsense. If we could see that this money was being directed toward those services one might have a little bit of sympathy. It is just a feeble attempt to try to hide a payroll tax under the name of health and post-secondary education. It fools absolutely no one.

The payroll tax puts every company in Newfoundland that pays it at a decided disadvantage with other parts of Canada. Very serious as it relates to the tourism industry, for example.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not Québec.

MR. WINDSOR: Not Québec. But we're not competing with Québec as much as we are with other Atlantic Provinces. We're really not. You talk about the tourism industry. Our competition is not with Québec. In a national sense I suppose it is. People come to Atlantic Canada. I have a real problem - I've said this many times before. I know I'm getting off track, but while I'm into it I might as well finish it. Because I've seen some reference recently about a great new initiative to promote tourism for Atlantic Canada.

Every time that we've done that in the past, Mr. Speaker, we've invested money in promoting tourism for Atlantic Canada, 95 per cent of the benefits go to the three Maritime Provinces, not to Atlantic Canada. Newfoundland gets a very small percentage of it because tourists look at the various options. They say: we've seen three Atlantic Provinces, the fourth one is much the same.

The other difficulty we have in tourism - there'll be a better time to speak - but the other difficulty we have in attracting tourism packages is simply costs here. The payroll tax is one of them, higher gasoline tax is another one, higher tobacco tax is another one, higher alcohol tax is another one. Tax on rooms and services in this Province is another one. Everything we have here has a higher tax register associated.

So if you are a tourist operator in Boston putting together a package to go to Atlantic Canada, and you put the same package together for each of the four Atlantic Provinces, you would find a very large differential in cost in Newfoundland for those factors. Then you add to that the difference of cost of transportation to this Province and we're not competitive any more, if we try to compete on a one-to-one basis with the other three Atlantic Provinces. If we're trying to offer the same product you are doing so at a much higher rate, significantly higher. That is why I say that I don't agree with this joint marketing of: Come to Atlantic Canada, or Come to Maritime Canada.

AN HON. MEMBER: We're offering a much better product (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: We're offering a much better product, indeed we are. That is what I was about to come to. That is the whole point. We are offering a much better product. We're offering a different product. I submit that there is no benefit in this Province participating in joint marketing with other provinces of Atlantic Canada. Because we're not marketing the same thing. We are, but we're not competitive in that product.

So we have to look at our history and our culture and the natural beauty, the fresh air, the hunting and the fishing, the sea, and all this sort of thing, that other provinces cannot compete with us on, but trying to market jointly with them is of no benefit to us. We are much better off putting one commercial that invites somebody to Newfoundland than in putting out ten commercials that invites somebody to Atlantic Canada, because we would be lucky to get 2 per cent of what comes to Atlantic Canada as a result of that joint marketing, that is the point I am making. But I got into that because I am saying that because we are at such a disadvantage with taxes that are imposed in this Province at a level higher than they are in other Atlantic Provinces and other parts of Canada and other jurisdictions internationally.

When you are competing in an international or a national marketplace then you have to be competitive with that marketplace, and we are not. It was fine when we were really looking at our own economy and we were doing business in Newfoundland, but we are part of a global economy today that gets into the whole kind of a debate as it relates to NAFTA and these sort of agreements. Anybody who does not think we are now into a global marketplace is sticking their head in the sand and they are going to lose badly. I suspect that is what is happening to us here in Newfoundland, and unless we realize that our people are small business people, tourism is only one example, but anybody who is producing a product here that is competing in that global marketplace is at a disadvantage and we will never build and strengthen those industries in this Province until we remove some of those disincentives and some of the natural disadvantages we have because of our geographical location and the simple cost of doing business here. This government has to take a very close look at it and start doing something about it.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly agree with the intent to exempt new businesses from this payroll tax. Of course not many new businesses would end up paying it anyway. I would be quite interested in knowing the dollar value government would save by exempting new businesses when you need $100,000 of salary payments in order to be eligible to pay that tax in the first place, and also to give relief to businesses by adding jobs. It is really an admission by the government that a tax on jobs is a very regressive tax, a tax that is putting an underground economy in place here in this Province. People are watching payrolls so they do not escalate above the $100,000 level by the end of their fiscal year. People are hiring people and paying cash so their payrolls are kept down.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am reading it in the Financial Post and I am reading it just recently in the Fraser Institute, they have referred to the underground economy, I am reading it all around. It is going on all over the place, and the minister I am quite sure, is well aware in taxation with reference to liquor and tobacco tax that there is a problem going on there and it is going on everywhere. There is more underground economies being generated now by regressive taxes all over this Province, and any specific province or country that has them is being generated by that regressive taxes. It is happening here in this Province. If the minister does not acknowledge it is happening he must be blinded to the issue. It is a real fact here. The payroll tax, a health and post-secondary education tax, it is called, a very attractive name, health and post-secondary education tax, over $60 million collected, to what, to build facilities that you cannot open. Port Saunders has twenty beds they cannot open because of no money. In Burgeo they cannot open, forty beds in Grand Bank, there are twenty-two in Burgeo. In Forteau there is a $1 million facility since the fall of 1992 with no money to open it.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am reading from a statement. I can quote the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, maybe I will talk about him.

AN HON. MEMBER: For your information (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: But there are twenty-two beds that are not being used. Is that not correct?

AN HON. MEMBER: The X-ray unit is (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: There are twenty-two beds that are not open.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Eagle River on a point of order.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the hon. member does not mean to mislead the House but I just want to inform the hon. member that the Forteau Health Care Chronic Care Centre, the positions are closing on December 3; by December 15 they will be hired, and by January 4 the facility will be opened, in accordance with the regular schedule that we thought we would have in place when we went through the process of building it.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, to speak on health and post-secondary education, I would like to inform the Member for Eagle River, too, and this is related to health, that in the fall of 1992 the facility in Forteau opened, and they were given $100,000 to operate the facility, and they needed $250,000 to operate it, and the minister said at that time, and this is quoted on May 27, in case the member does not know what is happening down there in his part of the country, he said: They will have to watch their budget up there. I guess they will be able to open it fairly late in this calendar year, and that is what we have in mind. It goes on to say, the facility was ready since the fall of 1992; they had hoped to have it opened. He goes on to quote the Chairman of the Grenfell Regional Health Services Board there, Mr. Patey, and he said they cannot open it. The money is just not there, and it is ready to be opened. - And that is a quote in The Evening Telegram of May 27 if you want to go back to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: We need to collect more taxes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Actually, the reality is -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the argument for more taxes.

MR. SULLIVAN: The argument for more taxes is that a payroll tax is a tax on jobs. The hospital here in St. John's, the General Hospital, has twenty-five less positions, less jobs, here in September - seventeen beds closed. The hospital here at St. Clare's has about a million dollar cutback - $1.2 million - the Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, Grand Falls another million dollars. All these cutbacks and jobs, and that is taken basically from your releases here and from statements by the chairpeople of these boards. We have all the quotes here, if you doubt them.

So there are less jobs being created here because the tax on jobs to get extra money for health, where is it going? It is creating less jobs in health. There are more people getting laid off in the health care field. There are more cutbacks in the health care field, and we have a post-secondary health and education tax. It is not going to post-secondary health and education.

What will we have? If we did not have a payroll tax we would probably have more jobs. We would probably have more dollars in revenue. We would have more money in taxes - income tax taken in - if we did not have a payroll tax, because we would not have an underground economy going on and there would be more dollars to generate for this Province, especially in income tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: What underground economy?

MR. SULLIVAN: Underground economy - The Financial Post refers to it. The Fraser Forum refers to it. It is all over the press. There is an underground economy going on.

The minister thinks there is one going on with cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol, and he has taken steps in his previous budget to address the alcohol problem in the underground economy, and the same with cigarettes and tobacco that is being sold in the Province, so he has taken steps. He agrees there is an underground economy going on and if not he is responding to rumours and so on, and things that are not fact.

Overall I feel it is a very regressive payroll tax. I am delighted the minister has at least gone part way and has exempted - and I would assume the additional - and for the minister, maybe he could answer, I guess - the additional taxes for a business that is currently ongoing and creates an increase in jobs, whether it is one, or five, or ten. If their payroll has increased, let's say from $200,000 to $300,000 they would be exempted on $100,000 of payroll tax. Would that be the correct assumption?

I gather that even if they increase one job - now if other salaries have increased in the meantime, would they be deducted the basic increase in current salaries from the overall total, or would it be just based on the total... Do you follow the question I am asking?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, okay.

No, the point I was making, if someone has ten people hired, for example, and had a $200,000 payroll, now they have eleven people hired and a $300,000 payroll. Would the deduction be on that extra employee or would it be on the total payroll, from $200,000 to $300,000 because current people on the payroll may have increases.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Just the salary of the extra employee would be exempted? Okay, well I certainly would hope that the minister will go a little bit further in the next budget and reduce it down to an acceptable level, in fact, which would be zero, which would actually wipe out the tax that is really a tax on jobs in the Province.

It has not worked. The underground economy has grown in response to it, and I think you should do the proper thing and you will find that the increase in income tax and so on will compensate to a great degree for the funds that will be lost by the $60 million lost in payroll tax. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance if he speaks now will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a couple of comments. First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with suggestions from members opposite that we should endeavour to completely eliminate this tax. I agree with that. I suspect that when we reach the point where we can balance our budget then this is the first thing that will be done, that this tax will be reduced or eliminated. I look forward to the day.

However, at the current time it is absolutely necessary. I don't accept the proposition that this tax is responsible for the underground economy and the smuggling and everything that is going on, simply because the experience shows that in provinces that don't have a payroll tax they have an equally serious problem. So it's not caused by this particular payroll tax.

I would like to remind members that the payroll tax was first brought in because there was a tremendous reduction in our transfers and we had to somehow compensate for that. These transfers were transfers specifically aimed at health and post-secondary education. In order to compensate for the tremendous reduction we were getting in those transfers we had to institute this tax, to replace some of the money that we lost. That was the purpose of it. That is why it was called the health and post-secondary education tax.

There was another change made since. When we eliminated the terribly regressive and horrible school tax, when we eliminated that, then we made some adjustments to the payroll tax so that businesses would pay an equal share that they had paid through the school tax system. We also at the time made changes to the personal income tax, slight changes to collect the extra money that was being gouged out of people through the school tax in a much, I guess, more palatable manner.

That is the purpose of the tax. I agree. When we get to the point where we can balance our budget then this really should be the first tax to go. I wholeheartedly support this, and I would suggest that in the near future, if we accomplish that objective, then that in fact will happen.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of Bill 26.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 26)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we now call Order 9, which is Bill No. 34.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act". (Bill No. 34)

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, this Bill is a house cleaning bill. In the City of St. John's Act there are a number of sections that state and really ties the hands of the City Council in regards to the width of roads, whether roads should be parallel to other roads, different regulations in regards to the size of roads and the type of roads and the streets in their City. Because it is in the St. John's Act they have to abide by it. It is putting unnecessary pressure on the City of St. John's in regards to development of new roads and so on.

We're asking basically to allow the City of St. John's, like the other communities around the Province, the other councils, all the other councils, to take the jurisdiction from their town plan and from their own regulations that they set and ask the minister to adopt. It basically gives them the right to do it.

The other section of it is, in the City of St. John's Act, there are restrictions in regards to setting aside lands for cemeteries. They can't, under this Act, designate a particular area of the City, or in around their planning area, to designate a section for a new cemetery. There are a couple of congregations in the City, asking for land to be designated as cemeteries and they cannot do it under this particular act, so it is basically housekeeping, Mr. Speaker, and I do not really see where there would be any problems with it. What we would be doing is giving the City of St. John's what all the other communities in the Province at present have.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the minister has already stated, really it is housekeeping and I think, if I am not mistaken, under the municipalities act and under the City of Mount Pearl and the City of Corner Brook Act, and every other act really in the Province is the same, this is the only one that is different from the two cities acts and all the other municipalities in the Province that are covered under the municipalities act.

In talking about the second part of that, Mr. Speaker, the Bill would also lead to prohibition against setting aside lands within the City for the purpose of cemeteries. There is a chance here to spend a few minutes, Mr. Speaker, because it does come really under planning, as it pertains to municipalities in the Province and to the minister's department. I think it was last year, the year before last now that the minister's department stopped all funding for amendments to municipal plans in the Province, and there is not a municipality in the Province today - and I am sure the minister is well aware of what I am going to say - that has to have their plan.

Every municipality, when they put a municipal plan in place, every five years it has to be reviewed. There are a lot of plans around the Province, a lot of municipalities that their plans are up for review. Now the procedure is that the department would appoint a consultant in conjunction with the council involved; they would have public hearings and so on, and whatever amendments had to be made to the plan in that particular community, they would come back to the department and the minister would have the final say on whether they went through or not or what have you. Now, I am finding in my area and I am sure it is happening in a lot of other municipalities around the Province, whereby municipalities are coming in asking the minister and his department for amendments, amendments to their act to try to carry on the business affairs in the community.

I notice in Deer Lake, I think we has something like ten to twelve or probably fifteen applications to make different amendments to the plan; the same thing in Cormac, in the community in which I live, the same thing, the plan is up for review and they had to ask for amendments to the municipal plan. It is something you are just carrying on, so really, it is only a stopgap measure, because sooner or later those amendments have to be incorporated into the municipal plan. But what happens I find in a lot of cases like this the department now especially, the people over there, I mean I must say with the manpower they have over there and the people who are looking after it, they are doing a commendable job, because, you know, they have to go out and look to see what is going on and make sure that the municipality - I have had to go to the minister a couple of times already and I must say that he acted expeditiously and a couple of businesses in the area now are accommodated and in fact, in one area now, in Deer Lake, you see (inaudible) Trans-Canada, that the amendments were made, the council put them through and the businesses are up and going. You can actually see the physical structure now in Deer Lake, but they could not proceed.

Another one that the minister is well aware of, and the Minister of Tourism for sure is well aware of, and that is the new museum that is going up in Deer Lake. One of the reasons why the officials from the department figured it should go in town and they said otherwise it should go outside, but it could not be accommodated under the municipal plan that was there. They had to come back to the minister and his department for amendments; the amendments were granted, no problem there, but I just wanted to make known how frustrating it was, and his colleagues should give him support on this in Cabinet, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. When the minister responsible for Municipal Affairs goes to Cabinet trying to look for some money for the planning, I mean that is one of the areas in the Province where small businesses are going to either make or break it, and municipalities cannot give anybody permission to go ahead with a business development in their area if it is not in the municipal plan. So I say to the minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation, to make sure that he gives his colleagues some support when he goes to Cabinet looking for money to help out with the municipal plans in the Province, but having said that, Mr. Speaker, the bill itself, Bill No. 34, is only a housekeeping measure and I support the amendments being made.

Thank you.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a few minutes to let the minister know that this is not quite as routine as he might think it is. Perhaps he should have another look at this. Although it might appear on the surface as being rather routine, these regulations, as all regulations, have two purposes, one is to control the development and the other is to control council. The regulations are put in place for good and valid reasons. One is to protect the council so that they can impose certain restrictions to certain regulations on developers who come in proposing to develop land. Those regulations are put in place for good technical reasons.

The minister talks about having one road parallel to another. It is not what it says, it says it must be at least 140 feet away from a parallel road. Now that is simply from the point of view of not having two intersections less than 140 feet apart. So these are for safety reasons, from a traffic control point of view, not simply some arbitrary measure that has been put in place. When you talk about the widths of streets, I would say to the minister that the minimum of fifty feet is far to much in the excess, fifty feet is unnecessary. There are many streets in the City of St. John's which are less. The City put in place regulations a number of years ago which required of developers unrealistic and unfair widths of pavement, when private developers were putting in four lane streets really, in residential sub-divisions. All very nice if you can afford them but first of all it greatly increased the cost of development, the cost of building lots for those who wanted to build homes and as the City found out later, it greatly increased their cost of maintenance, snow-clearing and everything else. So they are now finding out that they cannot afford these great air strips in some of the residential sub-divisions that they built a number of years ago.

On the other hand you do need some restriction or you will find developers coming in proposing streets that are twenty feet wide which are not safe, particularly in our environment. I have had arguments in the past from the professional point of view, with developers, with designers, architects or city planners coming in here from out of Province who said that twenty-six foot wide streets were good enough in residential sub-divisions. Well that might be fine in Florida but not if you are going to pile snow ten feet high on each side of the street. These designers tended to forget that.

So twenty-six feet that many municipalities had adopted were not sufficient in this Province but we found that twenty-eight and thirty-two feet is probably a reasonable width for most residential sub-divisions. Your major arterials or your collectors within those sub-divisions may well need to be somewhat wider but not fifty feet of pavement. You might need a fifty foot right-of-way but not fifty feet of pavement. So what is taking place here is removing altogether those regulations. That is all well and good but now you are giving the discretion to the City Council to change at will.

Now some discretion in your council is one thing but to allow them to change the rules for different developers is not fair. What does a designer, what does a developer do when he sits down and he says: I have a block of forty acres of land, I am now going to design a sub-division, what does he do? Does he spend all of that time and money designing his sub-division, submit it to city council and then have them say: no, your streets are not wide enough or your streets are too wide in this particular development. That is why you need a regulation, Mr. Speaker, so that everybody knows what the rules of the game are. Now if fifty feet is too wide, and I tend to believe it is for all except major streets like the Prince Philip Parkway or something, but if that is too wide then you need to put in place regulations to replace these that talk about the different classes of streets, the purposes for which they are being designed and the level of traffic that is expected to be carried by those streets, but to simply wipe it out and say that the city has total discretion and may put in place what they want and will change it from one development to another gives them the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: That is not true? Well the minister will explain to me when I am wrong then because as I read it, it simply says, `by deleting the requirement subject to councils discretion, that any new streets must be at least fifty feet wide.' Well the act does not tell me, and the minister has not told me, that this is replaced by a clause which says: but the city must put in place such regulations that will be applied generally throughout the municipality, and will be approved by the planning office of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The act does not say that, and the minister has not told us that, but of course there are zoning regulations.

It is important, Mr. Speaker, that you cannot have discretion on these matters. There has to be a proper procedure. Certainly if the City feels they want wider streets or narrower streets, that is something the City should be allowed to bring forward, but there has to be some protection in there that it cannot be done on a discretionary basis - that it has to go through a proper change of zoning regulations and public hearings so that the people of the City, the developers in the City, the transportation people who operate within the City, have an opportunity to have input into it, Mr. Speaker.

So I suggest to the minister that it is not quite as straightforward as he would have us believe. I would also suggest to him that if he wants to chase back out and find out what is happening here, is that the City has brought this forward because they now find themselves with a piece of property known as the Southlands, which has a municipal plan which does not fit the City of St. John's regulations because of the extreme widths of roads and extreme standards that the City wanted to apply, and that what we are talking about here is making the Southlands now fit into the City regulations, with the City's discretion. We will see how routine it is.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to speak briefly in support of the legislation. I do not agree with the previous speaker from Mount Pearl that by passing this legislation there will be absence of any control, or any discretion over developers as to what might take place in the City of St. John's. I am satisfied that there is more than this legislation that has control over what happens in the City of St. John's, and I do not think it is up to this Legislature, through the City of St. John's Act, to make decisions about the widths of streets. That is something that is a planning function that is handled by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and the City through a municipal plan, through zoning regulations, through decisions that are made to conform to those regulations, and a municipal plan that has to be approved by the minister.

So I do not see this as being a wholesale change. In fact, I suspect that there probably are, based on the previous legislation, exceptions already from these rules that there needs to be a street fifty feet wide, or these parallel streets of 140 feet. I know there certainly are streets that have an inclination greater than one foot per every eight. I doubt if there are very many new ones, but the topography of St. John's certainly required that there be many, many streets whose inclination is greater than one foot per every eight. A number in my own district, Mr. Speaker, I think the steepest one that I can think of, aside from Signal Hill, and parts of Signal Hill which are pretty steep, is Holloway Street, which is very steep indeed - in fact, so steep that traffic is not allowed to go down that street from the top - not allowed to enter from the top - because of the danger, particularly in winter, of ending up very quickly on the bottom of the street.

Nevertheless, I think this section is a bit of an anachronism. It was there at a time when the City of St. John's Act, and I suppose the City itself, needed some sort of control from the Legislature. It seems to me now that this obviously is passé, particularly when we have developed a comprehensive planning scheme that is administered by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs under the Urban and Rural Planning Act.

Certainly I also have faith in the administrations of the City of St. John's. I am not speaking of the particular councillors, but certainly the administration of the City of St. John's is in very capable planning hands and very many staff persons are employed to take a professional approach to development, particularly new development, and the considerations that the Member for Mount Pearl raises with respect to development regulations can certainly be handled by them equally as well as the officials of the minister's department.

With respect to the issue regarding cemeteries, again it seems to be a bit of an anachronism going back to the days when the City of St. John's boundaries were relatively restricted and narrow, and certainly when we see the boundaries expanding as they have in the last number of years there is plenty of land that could and should, as a result of the need arising, within the City boundaries to be designated for the purposes of cemeteries, and once again it seems to be an anachronism left over from the time when the City of St. John's Act attempted to control certain development decisions within the City when in fact it is quite possible to have cemeteries, or land set aside for cemeteries, and meet all appropriate health and other regulations which might be appropriate to the development of our cemeteries. I say these remarks in support of the legislation and housekeeping, though it is, it is important that the legislation be in keeping with the times and in keeping with the realities of planning decisions being made by both the City and by the provincial government.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs speaks now he closes the debate.

MR. REID: I can appreciate the concern of my hon. friend for Mount Pearl. Even though I said housekeeping I did not mean for housekeeping to be taken as - what is the right word, I do not know.

AN HON. MEMBER: Routine.

MR. REID: Routine, but I say this to the member, that just maybe we as a government and previous governments have not really given the opportunity to a lot of councillors to run and operate their towns. We have just elected a new city council to the City of St. John's. You have a new city council in Mount Pearl, I have one in Carbonear, and so on, and it has always been my feeling that these people are elected by people living in their communities to do the best possible job they can for that particular community, and if a community comes into me, be it St. John's, Cormack, or Mount Pearl, and makes a suggestion to me, and shows me something that is restricting them in regards to development in their community, I as a minister, and I can make this commitment to you and to the House, I as a minister will give them every possible consideration because I as a minister would rather see them operate and run their towns they represent than to have me as a minister sitting in here dictating to them what they can do or what they cannot do. I am saying to the hon. member that I believe that with the engineering staff and the capable people that we have in the City of St. John's, and have had over the years, that this particular regulation will be adopted and the people of the City will know through the city plan and the management - and I do not think you will find a case where one particular developer will be discriminated against over someone else.

MR. WINDSOR: Do you want to bet?

MR. REID: No, I am not going to bet with you. I am disappointed that the hon. member would make that comment. It might be happening in Mount Pearl. I am assuming you are saying it through experience.


MR. REID: Well, if it is not happening in Mount Pearl I cannot see it happening in St. John's.

MR. WINDSOR: I am talking about St. John's.

MR. REID: With that said, Mr. Speaker, I will finish by saying that the City basically should be in a position to set its own rules and regulations and abide by them. I can assure the member that if anything like that does happen, if someone is discriminated against, there is a due process, there is an appeal process to go through and if it comes back to me I will certainly deal with it.

Mr. Chairman, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House tomorrow. (Bill No. 34)

MR. ROBERTS: That being said could we go on to Order No. 10, the City of Corner Brook Bill, please?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act," (Bill No. 33)

MR. REID: Now, I will not dare call this housecleaning. I will not dare call this housecleaning because this refers to the City of Corner Brook and I would only be, I suppose, challenging my friend and colleague for Corner Brook to get up and question my motives on this. Basically, Mr. Speaker, the City of Corner Brook has asked, under their act, to have permission to allow the transportation system in Corner Brook to travel outside the jurisdictions of the town area and basically it is to provide public transportation to Marble Mountain and other areas outside the city boundaries. I don't need to say any more than that about it. Right now under the act they are restricted. There is a possibility that they may, with the development of Marble Mountain in years to come, provide a way of generating some revenue as well as providing a service to and from Marble Mountain and other areas around there, other towns around there, providing services back and forth to the community or to the City of Corner Brook.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the member for the district that includes the eastern part of the City of Corner Brook and Marble Mountain, as well as the lower Humber Valley all the way to Pynn's Brook, I want to have a few words to say about this bill. It seems to be a routine amendment to establish a fact that most citizens of Corner Brook probably assume to be the case all along. Most of us believe that the Corner Brook City Council had the authority to operate a bus service, not only within the city limits, but in the surrounding area. If there was any deficiency in the council's legal authority to operate a bus service for Marble Mountain or other points near Corner Brook, it is certainly desirable to have that cleared up. Mr. Speaker, Marble Mountain is quite close to the eastern boundary of the City of Corner Brook, about five miles from the city centre. As most members seem to be aware, Marble Mountain has grown tremendously over the last several years, thanks to support of the present Administration, as well as the previous Administration, of which I was a member.

The Peckford Administration established the Marble Mountain Development Corporation which, in 1988 or 1989, adopted a master plan for developing Marble Mountain as a four-season tourist resort. Considerable progress has been made in implementing the parts of the master plan relating to skiing, relating to winter tourism. I was very pleased to see just a couple of weeks ago a joint announcement of this Administration with the new federal minister for Newfoundland who represents Marble Mountain, the Member for Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte, of a $9 million base facility which will certainly enhance the attractiveness of Marble Mountain for tourists, as well as local skiers.

Mr. Speaker, it is desirable for the City of Corner Brook which operates a bus service to have the authority to have a regular bus run connecting the city centre with the ski hill. I believe the city has operated its bus service to connect the city to Marble Mountain occasionally in the past and it would be good to see a regular bus run during the ski season.

In the future, when Marble Mountain's attractions for summer tourism are developed, we will need the bus service for other parts of the year as well. So, Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation in supporting this simple amendment to establish that the Corner Brook City Council have authority to operate a bus service, not only within the city limits, but in the surrounding area.

That being said, Mr. Speaker, I would now like to comment upon the Trans-Canada Highway, that any bus service operating between Corner Brook and Marble Mountain will have to travel over. The Trans-Canada Highway along that stretch of the Humber Valley has been rebuilt over the last couple of years with 100 per cent federal funding from the Roads for Rail Agreement. Mr. Speaker, there is now a four-lane superhighway, which the current Minister of Works, Services and Transportation had extended from Massey Drive through the Riverside Drive intersection this past summer. Now, Mr. Speaker, that new super highway isn't completed yet. The Lewin Parkway interchange, I say to the Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - who is not in his own place and doesn't seem to be paying attention - Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister that the new superhighway is now quite confusing.

It is difficult for motorists driving along the Trans-Canada, coming from the west or the east, to figure out how to get off the highway and into Corner Brook. It's not well marked, and I say again, the Lewin Parkway Interchange isn't completed. It's equally confusing for people leaving Corner Brook and trying to get on the highway, whether they're wanting to head west or east, whether they want to go to Marble Mountain or whether they want to go to Stephenville, to figure out how to get on this new superhighway.

I would hope the minister might have a few words in this debate to talk about how a city of Corner Brook bus service operating between Corner Brook and Marble Mountain is going to be able to navigate on this new superhighway. How will the bus get from the centre of Corner Brook on to the highway, and when leaving Marble Mountain with happy skiers, how will the bus find its way back into Corner Brook?

It's not easy, I say to the minister, it's not well marked, and it's not fully hooked up yet, because that key Lewin Parkway Interchange hasn't been finished. I would like the minister to explain to people -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: The minister wants to come out and visit me for the weekend. Mr. Speaker, I would welcome the minister's presence in my district at any time, because I have some unhappy constituents who are waiting to hear from the minister and his officials about compensation for loss of property value because of the new highway construction.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: But you haven't replied to their letter, I say to the minister.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) no.

MS. VERGE: You said no? I'm not sure if we're talking about the same constituents. I know there were other constituents - there were constituents he met with in July who did get a settlement by the end of the summer. So the minister has responded partway to constituents who have been adversely affected by the highway construction, but there are other constituents who are still waiting to hear from the minister. And those constituents were very favourably impressed with the minister. They found the minister to be quite friendly and charming when he visited their neighbourhood and they think very well of him, and they are expecting the minister to respond favourably for their request for fair compensation; all they are looking for is fairness and balance and the minister and his colleagues got elected on a platform of promising fairness and balance. As I said, they found the minister, in particular, to be very friendly and gregarious and rather charming, and he smiled at them when he spoke to them. And they are expecting to get a fair settlement.

Now, Mr. Speaker, apart from compensation, the minister may have noticed that his new superhighway through Maple Valley, may well have been well-designed as a road. I am not qualified to comment on that; I wonder about the grade, but, Mr. Speaker, that new highway has created an eyesore.


MS. VERGE: The new highway is an eyesore, I say to the minister. If you look from the middle of Corner Brook, if you look from the old highway, what you see is a wall of rock. Mr. Speaker, business people and householders in Maple Valley, who used to enjoy beautiful maple and birch and coniferous trees, who for years were able to look out their windows to the south and see trees, now look out at a wall of rock and, Mr. Speaker, that is part of the price for progress; that comes along with a superhighway, but, Mr. Speaker, the Maple Valley residents are suggesting that the government take an innovative approach to beautifying that bank by doing more than hydroseeding, and I would suggest to the minister, that he have some of his staff with the Pippy Park Commission, who have done beautiful work here in the City of St. John's, to work with him to beautify that bank through the middle of Corner Brook. Because, Mr. Speaker, Corner Brook has a magnificent natural setting. I would think the Minister of Tourism and Culture, who is from Corner Brook would agree with me.

Corner Brook, and indeed, communities throughout Western Newfoundland have tourism potential, are already participating in a lively tourist industry, but there is potential for Corner Brook and other communities in Western Newfoundland to do much more. But, Mr. Speaker, we have to try to enhance the natural beauty and when modern developments scar the landscape, as this superhighway has scarred the landscape of Corner Brook, then it is incumbent upon the government to try to adopt landscaping techniques to try to restore some of the beauty that has been altered.

What I am suggesting to the minister is that he have some of his staff - perhaps people working with the Pippy Park here in St. John's - come out to Corner Brook, and under the minister's direction, give advice as to how that rock wall through the middle of Corner Brook, through Maple Valley, can be beautified. I say to the minister, hydroseeding won't be enough, but perhaps a combination of grass with flowering ground cover, or deciduous ground cover which changes colours, might add some beauty to that barren rock wall.

I put that out to the minister as a challenge. I'm sure the minister can rise to the challenge. He would be a very popular - he is already quite popular throughout the Province. Even people who have grave doubts about this Administration, they kind of have a soft spot in their hearts for the minister.

People in the Corner Brook area, Corner Brook, itself, not being a fishing town, haven't really gotten to know the minister personally. But if the minister takes a leadership role in beautifying that ugly rock wall through Corner Brook, through Maple Valley, then there will be a permanent monument to John Efford right in the middle of Corner Brook. It will be the `John Efford Memorial Rock Wall'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, as the Member for Humber East, I will be proud to look at Maple Valley and think: years ago there were beautiful natural trees in Maple Valley. We had to sacrifice some of that natural beauty for a superhighway, but John Efford, now there was a good politician. There was a man who responded to the popular will, and what a magnificent job he did beautifying that wall. He dressed it up, he used his horticulturists and gardeners from the Pippy Park Commission, and they did a magnificent job of beautifying that rock wall. The `John Efford Memorial Wall' right in the middle of Corner Brook. Think of it, Mr. Speaker!

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) rock wall.

MS. VERGE: What did the minister say?

MR. EFFORD: All I have to do (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Yes. It will only take a couple of days of the minister's time to come out and look at that rock wall in Maple Valley, talk to constituents who are still waiting for an answer to their letter, but they are waiting in anticipation. They are expecting the minister to be fair to them, just as the minister has been fair to other people.

AN HON. MEMBER: I suspect it will be a hollow wall.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Now, Mr. Speaker, I have talked about the amendment to the bill, about how it indeed is sensible to establish that the Corner Brook council have the authority to extend bus service beyond the city limits, the surrounding areas, and the explanatory note refers particularly to Marble Mountain.

I readily agree with having a bus service connecting Corner Brook to Marble Mountain, and as we see future developments we may look forward to a bus service bringing skiers from hotels in Corner Brook to the ski hill in winter time. We may look forward to a Corner Brook bus operation bringing golfers to Marble Mountain in the future during the summer because, Mr. Speaker, the master plan for development of Marble Mountain calls for a four season resort.

We have made major gains with winter development, thanks to the Peckford administration and the Wells administration. We are going to see another giant leap forward with the construction of the $9 million base facility that was revealed by the Premier and the new federal minister for the Province a couple of weeks ago.

Mr. Speaker, Corner Brook has tremendous tourism potential because of Marble Mountain, because of the Bay of Islands, and it would be a shame to detract from the beauty of Corner Brook for visitors by the ugly scar that was created by the new four-lane Trans-Canada Highway - a scar that goes across a formerly beautiful valley called Maple Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I have just given the minister a challenge for him to make his mark there, right in the middle of Corner Brook, so that people throughout Corner Brook, in Humber East and Humber West, will be able to look out their windows first thing in the morning, and instead of seeing a bare rock wall, which is what we look at now, they will see a bank beautified by low growing plants and flowers and shrubs, and maybe there could be a big sign in flowers, `John Efford Memorial Wall'.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Memorial? You're going to kill him?

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, it is four minutes to five and some of my colleagues are suggesting that I keep talking until 5:00 p.m. but actually I think I have exhausted my thoughts on this subject and –

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't believe it, it is not possible.

MS. VERGE: I have even repeated them twice and I think perhaps my colleague from Humber Valley might like to have a few words to say and I am certainly expecting the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to have a few words to say.

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

MR. WOODFORD: I adjourn the debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the good news is that the Member for Humber East has finished and the better news is that we will hear from the Member for Humber Valley tomorrow.

Before moving the adjournment of the House may I remind members that we shall carry on tomorrow with legislation. We are on Order 10, I am referring to today's Order Paper. We will then go to 11, 16, 18 and 20 and should we get through those later in the week we will go Order's 23 - 27 which stand in my name. With that happy prospect, Mr.Speaker - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Oh yes, okay, before I move the adjournment, on Wednesday we will be calling the motion standing in the name of my friend from Fortune - Hermitage. It is private members day and it is the day when the members who sit to Your Honour's left get to choose the subject for debate. That is on the education matter.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. That the House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, November 30 at 2:00 p.m.