December 10, 1993          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLII  No. 33

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am hoping today that the Deputy Premier has had a good night's rest and is, perhaps, going to be more receptive to answering some questions I have on the issue I raised with him yesterday. I will try not to make them questions that require details on their plan because I know he will want to try to avoid that by simply saying, `You will know soon.'

Let me ask him a question related to federal transfers to individuals under programs like U.I. and so on - the program they are talking about, presumably, proposals to replace those transfers with their new Income Security Plan. I am sure he would agree with me that federal transfers bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the Newfoundland economy. One-third, I guess, or more, of the personal income spent in this Province every year comes from transfer payments from Ottawa, and transfers to individuals are obviously a very large part of Newfoundland's economy.

Now if, for example, there were to be - and he indicated yesterday some people may get less - a 10 per cent reduction in the overall transfer payments to individuals, that would reduce disposable income by $150 million to $200 million a year in this Province. So, since the government have already approved their plan in principle, can I ask him if he has done the arithmetic that would be required, and ask him specifically, is it possible that federal transfers to individuals will decrease as a result of the government's new plan? As Finance Minister, how does he expect that might impact on the provincial economy? Can I ask him if they have, in fact, done an economic impact study and, if so, would he table it in the House?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, certainly, a very significant amount of money comes into this Province in terms of transfers to persons, moreso than even transfers to government. The federal government are currently - obviously, they have to review the amounts they spend, and are trying to find areas, obviously, to save money.

I have no idea, at this point in time, what the federal government plans to do in terms of transfers to provinces. I suspect we will know about that sometime in January, but certainly, at the latest, by the middle of February. It is difficult to answer a question when we don't even know, at this time, what the federal government plan to do, if anything, about transfers to individuals and transfers to provinces in the years ahead. All I can tell them is that on Tuesday, all the details will be released of what we envision to be an income security program and that program is not devised to save money. The concept is based on what is best for the people of the Province and how to handle the tremendous problems we now face in very difficult times, so the objective, from our point of view, is certainly not to save money. I don't know what the federal government are going to decide in terms of transfers to individuals, therefore, I find it very difficult to answer his question.

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

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I will try to make it a little less difficult for the Deputy Premier to understand. I understand his argument about what the federal government will do in transfers - they have put together a plan that has been worked on for several years. Dr. House has worked on it for quite a while. The Cabinet here, provincially, has approved the plan in principle and it has been submitted to the Prime Minister. What I am asking him is: Will their plan, their proposal, provincially, have any effect on the reduction in federal transfers to individuals? Is that the concept of the plan? Because yesterday I asked him some questions and he indicated that was the concept, to replace some of these other programs. I am assuming, Mr. Speaker, that government has done some arithmetic, and done some economic impact studies associated with this particular plan.

The point I am trying to make to the minister, as Minister of Finance, is that if there is a reductions in the federal transfer payments as a result of this proposal, for example - not what they are going to do on their own, but as a result of the government's proposal - a 10 per cent reduction in the amount of personal income coming into this Province in the form of transfers to individuals could reduce the province's own source revenues by anywhere from $40 to $50 million, and surely, he would have some concerns about that. Has he done any studies that would tell him what the impact of the government's proposal, your proposal, would have on the provincial revenues? Has he done any studies along those lines, and if he has, would he table them in the House so we could have a look at them?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it wasn't that the leader's question wasn't simple enough. He doesn't have to struggle very hard to ask simple questions. The problem was that his question was too simplistic, and there is a difference between a simple question and a simplistic question.

Mr. Speaker, to talk about effects on transfers to persons, as I said, I don't know what the federal government are going to do in terms of transfers to persons; therefore, I can't determine what effect it will have on this Province in terms of the federal government and the decisions they make.

In terms of his question, specifically, about our proposals, I have already answered it, and I would suggest to the hon. member that he not go out and use his scare tactics. He is now talking about a 10 per cent reduction in transfers to individuals. I suppose he will go around the Province over the weekend and say, `Government plans to reduce transfers to individuals by 10 per cent.'

I say to the people of the Province, and members opposite, wait until the details of the program are provided on Tuesday, and then everybody will know. I refuse to deal with this very serious problem in such a simplistic way, and in such a piecemeal way, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

I am not going to respond to the personal attacks of the Deputy Premier - it is not my style.

Mr. Speaker, I have tried to frame the questions in such a way that the Province's Minister of Finance could be able to answer, because they relate to the Province's finances. So I am trying to make them as simple as I can, for that purpose, I say to the minister.

I am not saying there is going to be a 10 per cent reduction. I didn't say that. I said there could be, because you said yesterday there could be a reduction in the transfers. You said yesterday, `Some people will get less.' So we are trying to ask you a general question.

Let me try another one. Yesterday, the minister agreed that the government's plan is going to guarantee a minimum income. He did agree yesterday, that is the concept of the plan, did he not? Also, people then would be expected to supplement that income through other employment. Now, that is the concept of the government's Income Security Plan. I am surprised the Member for St. John's South is not aware of that. In other words, the key to the success of the program will be the availability of these other jobs that people can then attach to after they get this minimum income - understand?

Now, we all know the job creation performance of this government is pretty dismal, so I want to ask the Deputy Premier: Have they taken into account the problem that we have with unemployment in this Province, and is there some way the Deputy Premier can guarantee the people of this Province that those other jobs are going to be available for them so that they can make a living for themselves and their families, can he guarantee that?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in his preamble, the Opposition Leader pointed out the danger of getting involved in those discussions when there are various objectives that the Opposition has in mind. He has stated that I had already said that there was going to be a reduction, now, Mr. Speaker, that is entirely false, entirely false. In answer to a question I said, some people could lose, some people could gain and as an example I said: somebody who makes $100,000 a year does not need any support, so that is a very simple example.

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Employment and labour Relations deals with this issue on Tuesday, I believe it is Tuesday, it will be obvious to everybody what this government is proposing to the federal government and it will be, I am absolutely certain, in the best interest of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians when the details are released. Again I will say to him, I am not going to deal with this issue piecemeal; this has to be handled properly and it will be handled properly by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations at the proper time next week.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have some questions for the Minister of Finance.

The Minister will recall that about a year ago, almost a year to the day, December 17 actually of last year, we passed two amendments, one to the Tobacco Tax Act and one to the Gasoline Tax Act, done here very quickly; actually it was done on the 18th because on the 17th the House sat all night and it was the next morning in fact that the bill was passed.

MR. ROBERTS: Parliamentary 17th (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Parliamentary 17th, that is right, but by the clock and calendar, on the 18th, because we sat all night. Those bills, Mr. Speaker, were distributed during the course of the early morning and were debated about an hour later and we made mention at the time that we had very little time to study those bills and consult with the industries -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: - that were affected, and so, Mr. Speaker, we now find that those bills, in effect, the government are now producing regulations in accordance with those bills to change the system of collection of taxes on tobacco and gasoline, so that -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having trouble hearing the hon. member.

MR. WINDSOR: - wholesalers will be required to establish trust accounts to deposit the taxes immediately, long before it is even sold by the retailers, the minute that it leaves the wholesaler. Would the minister like to tell us what is he actually proposing to do, are we talking about daily deposits, are we talking about weekly deposits, what impact is this going to have on that particular sector?

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

MR. BAKER: The Member for Mount Pearl, Mr. Speaker, is correct in part of his analysis. Last fall there was a bill passed - there were two bills passed - one having to do with both the Gasoline Tax Act and the Tobacco Tax Act that made allowance for trust accounts for deposit of tax. Very briefly - if, Your Honour, would indulge me - when wholesalers sell tobacco or gasoline to the retailers, at that point in time, they collect the gasoline tax and the tobacco tax. Large amounts of money are involved because there are only very few of these wholesalers; gasoline and tobacco tax wholesalers. So large amounts of money are obtained and are involved here. For instance, I suppose an average tobacco tax wholesaler would probably collect $500,000 worth of tax in a month. So we are talking about large amounts of money. These amounts of money, up till now, even now, become part of the cash flow of these companies. So, in any given month, for any given company, there is perhaps $500,000 of taxpayers money that is being used in cash flow and the use of that money is anywhere from fifty odd days to a few days depending on when it is received.

In the case of bankruptcy of some of these large companies, provincial government falls behind other creditors in terms of the ability to collect the tax money. So in the last year we lost a considerable amount of money just through a couple of unfortunate occurrences, a couple of bankruptcies. What we intend to do is to take the tax -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having trouble hearing both the question and the answer when members are talking across the House.

MR. BAKER: What we intend to do is require that these particular wholesalers, when they collect these large amounts of tax money, peoples money, that they put them in trust accounts so that they could become available daily.

The point is, Mr. Speaker, that those bills allowed for regulations and those bills have not yet been proclaimed because the regulations, specific regulations, have not been finalized. We have had a lot of discussions with the tobacco people and the gasoline people. I have heard their submissions, they have explained to me the types of problems it would create for them, and we are now currently trying to put together regulations that will soften the impact on them but certainly not eliminate the impact on them, soften the impact on them and at the same time guarantee that the people of the Province get their tax money.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister was given quite a bit of leeway in his answer. I hope in my next question I can get the same. Because I want to say to the minister that what it amounts to is that private enterprise is financing government and that they have to use their line of credit or borrowing or whatever to pay that to government, put it into a trust fund, long before it is collected at the retail level. So they have to come up with that money. They are paying it in advance. Taxes are not due until the sale. The minister is now deeming that the sale takes place at the wholesale level.

MR. BAKER: That was done before. That part was done before. Wholesalers have been paying the tax all along.

MR. WINDSOR: Wholesalers have been paying the tax, but he had until the 20th day of the next month. In other words, he had what normal business has, what government takes, thirty to fifty days to pay their debts. The minister is now saying tobacco and gasoline wholesalers will not get the normal thirty to fifty days' time to pay their debts that other people have.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister make an amendment to the act so that the taxes are actually payable when collected by the retailer? It shouldn't be too difficult to make the regulations so that the taxes are due then. Let me also ask him this, there are cases, as there have been in the past, where product has been lost, stolen, damaged, and eventually never sold, will the minister put into his regulations a provision so that wholesalers can get a rebate on taxes that they've been forced to pay up front, or at least the minister is proposing to make them pay up front, but that they never actually collect. At the moment there is no provision for them to get a rebate.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will explain again. These monies we are talking about are not monies that are normal debts of companies. These are not bills owed by the company. The hon. member has it wrong. These are monies belonging to the people of the Province that are due to the people of the Province and we are saying they must immediately be turned over to the people of the Province. It is as simple as that. I believe I do not have the right to take millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers money and in effect provide interest free loans for a month and a half, or whatever it happens to be. I don't feel I have that right. So when the taxes are due, which is at the point where the wholesaler sells to the retailer, that is the point at which it becomes due, then we would like to avoid the loss of tax money. We would like that taxpayers money to be placed in the consolidated revenue fund where it belongs so that we can provide better services in this Province. Mr. Speaker, if we lose a million dollars of taxes that is a million dollars somehow that has to come out of our health care system or our education system, and is not fair.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, if wholesalers are forced to pay their taxes up front, that is a cost that has to come out of the pockets of the consumers of the Province, eventually. It is going to be passed along. I say to the minister, the cost of the product that is provided to the retailer by a wholesaler is also money that is due and owed to the wholesaler. Does government think that they have a special right to have preference over other debtors of anybody who may run into difficulty here? He wants his taxes up front, Mr. Speaker, before they are due. Taxes are due when products are sold in the marketplace, not at the wholesale level.

Will the Minister of Finance consider this, since he seems so determined to do this. Would he consider accepting a bond in place of cash up front, so that people don't have to finance this $500,000 or $1 million a month to pay the taxes up front? Would the minister accept a bond in lieu of that, as is done in the Province of Québec, so that this burden is not placed on wholesalers and ultimately consumers of the Province?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. This being Human Rights Day, I think it is important to ask questions about the protection of senior citizens under our Human Rights Code. Our Human Rights Code doesn't provide for protection against discrimination on the basis of age, in accommodations, in public services, in harassment, in discriminatory publications. I would like to ask the minister why our Human Rights Code does not protect senior citizens or does not provide for a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of age?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I apologize for the quality of my voice this morning. I have some kind of a sore throat but in any event the issues that are raised by the hon. member's questions have been matters that have been discussed in meetings between myself and officials of our department and representatives of the Human Rights Commission, and those that are speaking on behalf of, and representing, senior's groups in the Province. The matters are currently being studied in terms of how they are viewed and dealt with, not only across the country but in other jurisdictions around the world. We have committed to that group that when we have those kind of studies complete and the information available we will have a look at whether or not there should be any changes in the legislation relating to protections in the Human Rights Code in Newfoundland and Labrador, further protections with respect to the matter of age.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association and others have asked for changes to be made to the code and other provinces protect against discrimination against senior citizens. Can the minister on this Human Rights day commit to the House of Assembly that he will in the next session of the House bring in amendments to the Human Rights Code to protect against discrimination on the basis of age?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, while I cannot give that commitment today, as I indicated in the previous answer, in meetings we have had with representatives of people who are in the seniors category and are very concerned about additional protections that they think are warranted and necessary on the basis of age in Human Rights protections, we have indicated that the matters are under study and if there are - as a matter of fact the question I asked again is, if these protections are warranted why is it that they have not been there in the past because that is an obvious starting point? The answers to those questions will be forthcoming at a point in time and then the government will make a decision as to whether or not there are real needs to put further protections in the Human Rights legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to address a question to the Minister of Education. Over two years ago the Department of Education commissioned a study entitled A Long-term Capital Plan. This study was designed to compare schools and facilities in this Province with national standards, to analyze the life expectancy of schools and to recommend consistent approaches to school maintenance problems in the Province. The minister received results of this study some months ago and will the minister today comment on the findings of this study, and will he table the study in the House?

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

MR. DECKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to comment on it today or to table it today, but all in due course it will be made available to the public. Today is not the appropriate time.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, this study cost the taxpayers of this Province over $250,000. The study also included a comparative analysis of all learning resources, equipment in each school as well as equipment and learning resources in all twenty-seven school board offices in the Province. Each school board was assured that the data for each specific board would be analyzed and when the study was completed the data for each board would be communicated and available as a resource for the planning division of that board. To date not one single school board has heard one iota about the studies results. Where is the study and why is the minister so reluctant to share it with the taxpayers who paid for it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I say to the hon. member, have a little bit of patience. I cannot comment on whether or not it cost $250,000. I will have to have that verified, however, it was a very extensive study, Mr. Speaker. It is a tool which government is going to use to try to address some of the ills which the previous administration allowed to build up in this Province over a seventeen year period. It is being analyzed, it is being studied and all in due course it will be made public. The way hon. members talk, you know, you have to go and do a report and before you get a chance to receive it or look at it they want us to go and send it out on the front page of the Evening Telegram. They want to make political points out of everything, Mr. Speaker, and I understand that. That is, I suppose, part of the political process when it is abused, but hon. members should learn that when the group here who came in in 1989 were the Opposition, when we were over there we had patience. We used to ask very sensible, reasonable questions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: As a matter of fact, I would be quite willing to make available for the hon. Member for Waterford Kenmount, a seminar - I would ask my colleague from Port de Grave to conduct a seminar - to teach hon. members how they should behave as Opposition members. I think it is long past due, Mr. Speaker, and I am prepared to do it whenever he wants it done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his Grade III lecture. I want to also note that the minister's refusal to share the information with duly elected school boards will not help to solve the capital needs of our schools in this Province.

It is common knowledge that our schools are in very poor shape, and that the schools are not treated equally in terms of equipment and learning resources available to students.

I say to the minister: $250,000 for this study which is on the shelf, and not being used, or not being available to the people who made it possible for the document to be prepared, that $250,000 - if we are not going to use it - could have put 2,500 families with $100 each at Christmas this year, or it could have put 10,000 new books in the school library.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HODDER: Why will the minister not stand and apologize to the taxpayers for not using the information readily? It has been available since December of 1992. He has had a year to do the study.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, you talk about penny wise and pound foolish. The hon. member gets up and brings the roof down about $250,000 which is not put on the shelf - which is indeed being evaluated - and he screams about what that could do for the system.

Did the hon. member ever stop to think what $24 million lost in Sprung could do for the school system of this Province, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question this morning is for our friend, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CAREEN: The Evening Telegram reported on Thursday that government intends to have a private contractor renovate the Prince Phillip office building at their own cost. The government would then rent the building from the contractor under a ten to fifteen year lease. Why would government rent a building it already owns? Why not do the renovations yourself?

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

MR. EFFORD: We do not have the money, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Any sensible contractor would borrow the money needed to renovate Prince Phillip Place, and amortize the loan over ten to fifteen years. Government will end up paying the principal and interest on the loan, the cost of maintenance over the lease period, plus a reasonable profit for the contractor.

How is it possible that such a scheme will save taxpayers money?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, I say that you `could borrow'. You could borrow, sir. It would not cost less for government to renovate the building. You would at least save hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of dollars in profit over the ten to fifteen year lease period.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I understand the hon. member now realizes there is a by-election coming up, but I can assure him, Phillip Place will mean nothing in the District of Placentia.

Seriously, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is trying to make the point that going for public proposals and using public sector money to renovate Phillip Place will cost the taxpayers more money. I say to the hon. member, if government was to go out to borrow $6 million, and pay interest on it for the next ten, fifteen, or twenty-five years, it would cost the taxpayers a lot more money.

So we are making the decision in the best interest of the taxpayers, and we are making sure that the taxpayers of this Province are protected, something that the former administration did not do, and if they had done it over the last seventeen years we would not have the problem of borrowing money to renovate Phillip Place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister's answer rings somewhat hollow. Now it could be after last night.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Oh, I hear the Member for Eagle River again. He is about as sharp as a bowling ball. He is never any sharper (inaudible) today.

Anyway, I am sorry, Sir, your answers ring hollow. All you are doing is having a private contractor borrow money for government and it will end up costing taxpayers much more than if the government themselves borrowed money, because they get better rates. Isn't this really some tricky bookkeeping that will cost taxpayers dearly just to make it look like you are reducing borrowing? Being a decent man yourself, I am throwing it at you, have another look, Sir.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, we saw a lot of tricky bookkeeping over the last seventeen years when hon. members opposite were in government. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, it takes the people of this administration to try to figure out all the tricky things that went on for seventeen years, to try to straighten out the mess that the former administration left. If they had been one-quarter as wise as this administration, we would not be in the debt of $6 billion to $7 billion. The decisions we make are in the best interest, not only of the people today, but the people of the future, and that is our greatest concern.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the public galleries, forty-five culture and heritage students from Eugene Vaters Collegiate, accompanied by their teachers, Wayne Vincent and Rick Canning, and as well, I would like to acknowledge in the gallery the presence of Mr. Tom Curran, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit Association.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Notices of Motion

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act, No. 2." (Bill No. 60)

By word of explanation, Mr. Speaker, this is the bill that will make changes to the border taxes in Labrador - both Southern and Western Labrador.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, in my absence yesterday, I understand, questions were asked on the Fisheries Loan Board by the Member for Grand Bank; I don't have a copy of Hansard but I believe I know roughly what the questions were. The hon. gentleman suggested that the Fisheries Loan Board is harassing its borrowers for payments and seizing houses and other assets.

The response, Mr. Speaker, is that the Fisheries Loan Board conducts an individual assessment of its borrowers who are behind in their payments and if it is determined that they have the ability to pay, they are expected to pay in accordance with their ability. Borrowers who have the ability to pay their loan obligations and refuse to do so are submitted to the executive boards for legal action authorization. Borrowers who are approved for legal action are advised of the board's intention to take legal action and are given sufficient time to offer an acceptable repayment arrangement before the loans are submitted to the Department of Justice for the initiation of legal action. I should point out, Mr. Speaker, that it is not, I repeat, not the policy of the Department of Fisheries to seize personal residences. I think that might have been inferred in the hon. gentleman's question.

The 1992-'93 interest forgiveness program for direct loan program borrowers, was approved subject to the interest forgiveness being provided to the extent that 20 per cent of the gross fishing income is insufficient to cover the interest charges. Accordingly, interest forgiveness is reduced by 20 per cent of the gross fishing income, however, if the fisherman does not have fishing income, the total interest charges are forgiven. So, Mr. Speaker, what that is saying, in effect, is that in cases where the assignment of catch, the 20 per cent reduced from the fisherman's earnings and applied to the interest of his direct loan, is not adequate to cover the full amount, then the government will write off the balance.

Regarding the direct loan program borrowing, 1992 interest relief of $600,000 has already been provided to borrowers and the 1993 interest relief will be processed in the New Year when the board obtains fishermen's 1993 gross fishing income. Regarding the Loan Guarantee Program, which is a program guaranteed by the banks, the 1992 interest forgiveness for 192 borrowers totalling approximately $2.6 million have already been processed and forwarded to the chartered banks for allocation to fishermen's loans. The board is presently processing additional 1992 interest forgiveness cheques totalling $352,000, recently approved by government, for the remaining sixty borrowers.

MS. VERGE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: My point of order is that, given the noise level in the House this morning, the Minister of Education, who took notice the other day of my question requesting him to table the Saunders Report of Public Libraries, may not have heard the Speaker call Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given. I would like to give the minister another chance now, to table the Saunders Report on Public Libraries, which the government has had for five months and which not even library board members have seen.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.


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

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

I rise this morning to present a petition from a constituent school and I will read the prayer of the petition that I have been asked to present.

It is to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland, the Legislative Assembly. The petition of the undersigned students of Eugene Vaters Pentecostal Collegiate states: `We are opposed to the proposed government model to restructure education in this Province, since we believe it will lead to a dismantling of our denominational school system as presently protected by Canada's Constitution, Section 93, Term 17. Furthermore, we disagree with the premise of this model that our present school system is responsible for the educational woes of this Province. The petitioners respectfully request that the hon. House vote to reject the proposed model and return to negotiations with church leaders.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: On behalf of the 258 students at Eugene Vaters, who have signed this petition, I table it in the House today.

I want to take a minute or two, Mr. Speaker, to speak to the students' petition that we have just read. I, too, want to welcome the students from Eugene Vaters who sit in the galleries today. I understand they are coming for an extended period. They are going to spend three hours with us and that will give them ample opportunity to see the whole gamut of how this august body operates and the fine work that it does. I hope that their stay is enjoyable and educational.

I have had a fair degree of contact with the school that originated this petition, inasmuch as, I guess, I started my political career there as a school committee member thirty-odd years ago, as I mentioned in the House the other day. But beyond that I want to say a few words regarding the institution, itself. I believe that if we examine the high schools in the Province from which this petition originated, you would find, as a result of the examination, that Vaters is probably indicative of and represents most of what is good about education today and most of the positive elements that we could accrue to the present system and form of governance that we have in education. It is a school that is denominationally run, of course, as are all of our schools, but it is also very much a community and neighbourhood school, having catered, over the past twenty-five-plus years, to the needs of the children who live in that area of the city, and it has done an excellent job.

I should commend them also for their significant interest in and leadership in the advancement of the co-op education program in the Province. I might say this also about them, that they are the first school in Newfoundland, as of this year, that have developed a co-op education program in co-operation with Memorial University. They are piloting a project in co-opting with the University and with business that I am sure will be the forerunner of many others that will exist throughout the Province in the years ahead. So I commend them for that initiative and for being the first in that regard.

I should say also that the students who originated the petition I have just presented, are really doing what the government, the Premier, has asked the people of the Province to do as a result of the dialogue that is now going on with respect to the restructuring of education, and that is to become involved in being heard, having their voices heard, in the whole discussion of what is happening. So, I congratulate them for taking the initiative, the interest in education and for developing the petition that I have presented. I want also to say that these students have, certainly, an interest in what they have done for two or three reasons: First of all, they are the clients of the present system. They are the children who are studying today so that they will be adequately prepared for the labour market and for the business world of tomorrow. Secondly, of course, they are undoubtedly going to be the future parents of children who will be available to the system for educational purposes in the future. Whatever model we develop, whatever comes out of the discussions at the end of the day, the children, might I say, of these young students will be the ones who we will be benefitting or otherwise hurting.

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


MR. L. MATTHEWS: By leave? Thank you. I want to say that the contents and the prayer of this petition, Mr. Speaker, are basically all summed up in the last sentence. The prayer of the petition basically is that we respect the rights of the classes of people we have now, and that at the end of the day it is important that we develop a model that will continue to respect and enhance those rights, and that will also improve the quality of education that we provide to the student, and that will also improve the quality of the student that we produce at the end of the day.

The spirit and the prayer of this petition is that we get back together, that we start talking together, that we continue to negotiate together. I am very pleased to support the petition and to have the opportunity to present it in the House on their behalf this morning. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the students on their initiative in speaking out on the issues that affect the basic structure of the school system as it currently exists in this Province. I want to note for the record and for the students' information that when this matter was debated in principle on Wednesday, December 1, on a private member's resolution, the caucus on this side of the House voted against the principles outlined in the government's model.

The policy of the Progressive Conservative Party has been stated very clearly. We recognize the desire for reforms, we recognize that there have to be greater efficiencies in the education system. We fully support all efforts to promote efficiency and the sharing of services. We encourage the initiatives which are already under way in this Province. However, the Progressive Conservative Party will not support non-consensual changes to the constitutional rights of churches.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, we believe a consensual agreement between the churches and the provincial government on the restructuring of the school system can be achieved if all stakeholders become active participants and if all concerned are willing to focus their collective efforts on the need for compromise.

We must show, Mr. Speaker, a willingness to find the common ground. It is crucial that we accent our tradition of negotiation and compromise. There are obviously divergent and strong viewpoints and profound philosophical differences between the two models for restructuring, but there are also many areas where there can be mutual and satisfactory agreements. Today, I ask both sides of the House and both sides of the issue to show respect for the validity and for the sincerity of the different approaches to the restructuring of the educational system.

This is not a time for inflexibility, not a time to play posturing games, not a time for the minister to limit his compromising attitude to crossing a few `t's and dotting a few `i's, not the time to wait for the other side to yield, but a time in which to show genuine Christian charity and respect. Each side in this restructuring process should be able to identify those areas of flexibility, as well as those areas where it is deemed necessary to hold on to matters of principle. I believe that if the minister is willing to offer an olive branch, he will find his counterparts more than willing to engage in meaningful dialogue.

Mr. Speaker, we must not only do the right thing we must be perceived as doing what is right for our children and our grandchildren.

It would be easy and simplistic to blame all the troubles in our education system on its denominational structure. As I said last week in this House, we cannot blame the persistent underachievement in student performance identified in the government's model, directly or indirectly, solely on the denominational structure. That would be unfair; it would be unjust, and I have not seen any substantive, empirical data to draw such a conclusion.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen many changes to the education system in the past thirty years. These have been achieved through dialogue, through compromise, respect for the validity of the other person's opinion. Our education system is better today than it was thirty years ago.

I asked the minister this morning, in this House, to be a facilitator of change, to reflect on the rigidity of his approach, to identify the areas of commonality, and to show aggressive leadership in making the restructuring process a positive and futuristic exercise that respects the constitutional rights of our citizens, but which also addresses the government's need for efficiency and for a higher scholastic student achievement.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I stand today and proudly support this petition which was presented. I have not heard any other members support this petition.

This petition, Mr. Speaker, asks government and church to continue to negotiate. Actually, the petition is asking us to do what we are already doing - negotiations are continuing. There will continue to be reasonable give and take on both sides, because we are bent on reforming the education system of this Province for the benefit of all of our children.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: The students from Vaters: I can certainly accept the advice that they are passing along, because Vaters, for all intents and purposes, is the school of the future.

The Seventh-Day Adventist is the school of the future. I will tell you why. You go into Vaters today and you will find that half the students are not Pentecostal - there are Anglicans; there are Roman Catholics; there are United Church people; there are non-christians; there are other people in that school. Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we are talking about. We are talking about an interdenominational school system, like Vaters.

Some days ago, we heard a teacher in the Seventh-Day Adventist school describe her class. There are 300 students in Seventh-Day Adventist schools in this Province - only 100 of them belong to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Two hundred are from Roman Catholic, United Church, Anglican, and all the other churches. That is what we are talking about, and their teacher, in a very lovely speech that she gave on the radio, spoke about how they understand each other. Seventh-Day Adventist students talk about the Roman Catholic religion, and the Roman Catholics talk about the United Church religion, and she gave an air of understanding - a school that I would like for my children to attend, Mr. Speaker, and that is exactly what we are talking about.

We are talking about an interdenominational system where people of all faiths and all religions, christian and non-christian, Protestant and Catholic, Moslem and Jew, can sit down together and understand each other. That is the kind of system we are talking about, and the people of Vaters, when they say negotiate - the hon. member who did such a magnificent job of presenting this petition today, go back to them and tell them your government is indeed, as always, willing to discuss this issue - to negotiate - and there will be reasonable give and take.

I almost detect a premise throughout the Province today that somehow government is blaming all of the problems of the education system on the denominational education system. That is not the case. Just read the model. It says quite clearly that our effort to restructure is simply one step of many. There are 211 recommendations in the Royal Commission. We are only talking about twenty-odd here. We are trying to restructure the system, along with other things.

The denominational education system is not totally to blame. Duplication, which, in some cases, is encouraged by the system, is to blame; spending money two and three times over when we could spend it once and do the same job - these are the things. One of the causes among many others is that of denominational education. The hon. member on the other side of the House tells us not to stop - to negotiate, not to be concerned about our own pride and all this sort of this thing. I agree with him. We have to negotiate and find the best possible system for our children, and we are going to do that, Mr. Speaker.

To hon. members opposite, I also say, don't stand up and wet your finger and hold it up to see which way the political wind is blowing. Don't try to make cheap politics on this one. This administration believes that what we are about will succeed in the end, not because it is political or expedient, not because somehow it might get us re-elected. We believe that in the end we will achieve the reforms. Do you know why? Because it is the right thing to do. When something is the right thing to do, all the powers of hell cannot stop us from doing it. We are going to reform education with the co-operation of the people and the churches of this Province, because in the interests of our children of today and the future, children yet unborn, it is the right and proper thing to do, and we are going to do it, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further petitions?

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of my district, Menihek, with 1,447 signatures to this petition. The prayer of the petition is:

`To the hon. House of Assembly in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the District of Menihek. Whereas the health care service, which is a provincial government responsibility, is below the provincial standard in Labrador as compared to health care services provided on the Island; and whereas Labrador residents are transported by air at considerable expense to health care facilities in St. Anthony and St. John's for most surgery and specialist care and treatment; whereas Labrador residents have only approximately 250 of the approximately 800 positions under Grenfell Regional Health Services, and obviously are not receiving their full share of health care tax dollars from government; wherefore the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador begin immediate development of a regional health care centre for Labrador residents to be located in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, and government appoint a health care board from amongst Labrador residents separate completely from the GRHS board.'

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition and sign it in support of the prayer and intent of the petition. Health care is a very important service that should be delivered by the provincial government in all parts of this Province, and we all, at one time or another in our lives, are going to be needing it.

The 1,450 people who signed this petition are concerned about the quality of health care if the government proceeds with what some people perceive to be the intent the government has with re-organizing health care in Labrador, specifically under the regionalization plans they are going ahead with. The regionalization plan that a lot of people see occurring would be that the GRHS would deliver all the health care services and administration of health care facilities in Western Labrador, and indeed, all of Labrador and parts of the Northern Peninsula.

The residents of Western Labrador, specifically, see this as a giant step backwards. They have recognized the contribution that the Grenfell Health Services has made to the delivery of medical care to Labrador residents, but they also recognize that the needs today and in the future of Labrador cannot be served best by the administration of health care facilities and delivery in Labrador through the GRHS. They recognize that a local board in Labrador, administered in Labrador, centred in Labrador, and facilities centred in Labrador, not on the Island portion of the Province, is what should be done in Labrador.

The idea of having regionalization, a regional governing, if you will, of hospitals, is a good one. It is a sound idea. It puts the actual administration of a facilty, a group, or a number of facilities under a regional board, Mr. Speaker. We agree with that. The concept of having the hospital in Labrador City administered from St. Anthony would, geographically, create a similar type of problem as having a hospital in St. John's administered from Charlottetown - just to put in perspective the size of the land we are talking about, Mr. Speaker, because that is what we did in the other regionalizations. We considered land mass, size, not just population. There are only 30,000 people living in all of Labrador and 75 per cent of that 30,000 people live in the communities of Labrador City - Wabush, Churchill Falls, North West River, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mud Lake. That would comprise about 75 per cent of the population of all Labrador. So it makes sense that regionalization in Labrador would have the facilities, the administration and the hospital, a regional hospital itself, located centrally in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This makes sense, Mr. Speaker, because times have changed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. A. SNOW: By leave, if I could just clue up, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, at one time, transportation was mainly by boat and, of course, St. Anthony was a logical place for boats to be going in and out of, because most people who worked and lived in Labrador lived on the Coast of Labrador and they could flow down to St. Anthony in boat, but now that we have air transportation and the transportation of specialist service coming into Labrador and patients going out, we feel we would be better served by having the facility located in Happy Valley - Goose Bay.

Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support the petition by the Member for Menihek. Today, with increasing costs and demand for maintaining service in health care, I think it is very important that government take a very serious look at the most efficient method of delivering health care services. Regardless of where you live in this Province, I think it is important that people have an equal access to our health care services, and that the people in Labrador have an equal right to the same level of service as people here on the Island portion of this Province. That hasn't been happening and government has not necessarily been spending its money in a most efficient manner. We are at the stage in the Province now where there is a regionalization, a drawing of community health boards and hospital boards across the Province, and this government proceeds to review and establish boards without any solid financial or economic foundation behind it. There has been no cost analysis done of the most efficient way to deliver this service, how we can get more service for the same dollar. We are going on a gut feeling - the minister indicates it is just basically a gut feeling, that by consolidating certain areas, he is going to save dollars. That may very well happen in an urban area where there are many major institutions providing health care service, but in Labrador where 30,000 live - this petition is asking that Labrador be set aside as a separate region and that health services provided in Labrador be regionalized and they be given a level of service that is on par with other areas in the Province. It is very expensive, air ambulance services with specialists and so on going into the Labrador areas, moving people out to the hospitals in St. John's and St. Anthony and wherever else the surgery could be performed. Why has the department not moved to do a very comprehensive, cost analysis of how dollars are being spent in health care in this Province so that people in all areas of the Province can have the same opportunity to avail of the same level of services. We have happening in this Province right now a rationing of health care services; there are clinics only open for certain times of the year, they are telling people when you are supposed to get sick, when you are going to be hospitalized, we have rationing.

In Labrador, in Forteau for example, a clinic opened - well a year ago it was built, it has not opened yet, they are now advertising for some positions, it may open in January of '94 and with $100,000 to operate it when they needed $250 so they could not open. Building clinics and building hospitals across this Province, and it has happened in the last few years, we have four now, that are sitting there with $25 million of public funds and they cannot open because of no operational money.

This government is building facilities a year or two in advance of when they can operate them, and we are talking about efficiencies and borrowing and capital cost and the finances of carrying $25 million. I think it is important that government take a very serious look at health care. There is an increasing demand on health care services, we have an aging population occurring, people are living to be much older, close to eighty years of age now as opposed to forties, fifties and sixties; we are going to have an increased cost of providing health care to the elderly people, and I think it is more important that we get health care more into a community base and into smaller community health boards rather than institutionalizing and increasing health care boards in the Province.

People are well equipped to be able to take care of their own health and have input into it but they need an avenue, they need a government that is co-operative that is going to listen and to look at ways that are going to be able to cater to the long-term health care cost of people in this Province. We are going down a road that is getting narrower and narrower because this government has not done any comprehensive, long-term planning for health care. They established and proposed seven boards in the Province without even doing a cost analysis of the total cost savings. They do not know how many jobs, they do not know how many dollars are going to be saved, they do not know if there is going to be any improvement, it is just a gut feeling.

Well if you are going to restructure a business or an organization or a company, there have to be some benefits identified by doing that and this government has not established in any way how there is going to be financial savings, how there is going to be improved services, it just has not been done. We have hospitals sitting there in Port Saunders that cannot open -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: - it has been ready since June -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave?


MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: the member was so far off the point, he hardly mentioned the petition which is basically to have a separate health care board for Labrador. He is basically ranting and roaring over there in his usual style, consequently we were unable to grant him leave to continue with that nonsense.

Mr. Speaker, I too, was listening very carefully to what people are saying in Labrador and I want to correct a couple of points that the hon. Member for Menihek made. He indicated that health care services in Labrador West were below the provincial average. That is not so. Labrador West is well-served by comparison to other parts of the Province including areas in the Member for Ferryland's district. Trepassey for instance, which is just outside your district, there is no hospital there and it is far away from the nearest hospital yet Labrador West, Wabush has a hospital so, we should push it for the right reasons.

There are certain other points you have to keep in mind as well. One is that, this is not an easy problem to resolve given the shortage of funds; we could build a regional hospital in Goose Bay to take the place of the Grenfell Hospital I suppose in St. Anthony, but right now there is a tremendous facility in St. Anthony, a wonderful facility, one of the finest hospitals in the Province and, do we sort of half-close that one and build a brand new one in Goose Bay? I am not saying we can't or won't, I am just saying that these are some of the things that have to be solved.

Basically, what we are talking about here is a governance issue. Should Labrador have its own regional health care board, and as I mentioned earlier, we will be holding discussions with people in the northern region which includes Labrador, to see what the appropriate move is in that direction, so I am looking forward very much to receiving further petitions on this issue and also to carrying out discussions later on with the people. Our plan, as I mentioned, was first - we have a regular procedure for establishing these regional boards and we will in due time consider this one. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we begin with the third readings which are Orders 2 through 23 inclusive. When they are dealt with - and I understand there is agreement between both sides of the House to deal with them - we will then go on with Order 25, which is the Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal Act and that will be second reading debate, Sir.

On motion, the following bills read a third time, ordered passed and their titles be as on the Order Paper.

A bill, "An Act Respecting A Smoke-Free Environment In The Workplace And In Public Places In The Province". (Bill No. 1) reprinted.

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Control Of The Sale Of Tobacco To Minors". (Bill No. 7) reprinted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgment Interest Act". (Bill No. 43)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Statutes Act". (Bill No. 31)

A bill, "An Act To Repeal The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act". (Bill No. 29)

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Forestry Act". (Bill No. 27)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City of St. John's (Loan) Act, 1978". (Bill No. 51)

A bill, "An Act To Repeal The Youth Advisory Council Act". (Bill No. 38)

A bill, "An Act To Repeal Certain Obsolete And Spent Statutes". (Bill No. 40)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Department Of Social Services Act". (Bill No. 35)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Chiropractors Act". (Bill No. 41)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Nursing Assistants Act". (Bill No. 44)

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Colleges Act, 1991". (Bill No. 55)

MR. ROBERTS: Order 25, a speaker who stands in the name of my friend from Gander.

MR. SPEAKER: Second reading of Order 25.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal". (Bill No. 42)

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have introduced a fair number of bills into this House in the last five years but I don't think any of them has given me as much pleasure as to introduce this particular piece of legislation. It is simply titled, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal". As members know this medal has been struck and has been distributed for a number of years. However, Mr. Speaker, there were a number of significant omissions when this medal was first struck. I would like members to recognize the fact that at the beginning of the Second World War the Newfoundland Government called for volunteers to fill many roles. As a matter of fact great numbers of Newfoundlanders came forward and volunteered to serve in that war. One of the first roles to be filled was the Forestry Unit, where individuals volunteered to join, went overseas, and served in the Forestry Unit. This is even before they were able to sign up in other branches of the forces and to serve in other ways.

We all know of the risks taken by people who were in the regular forces and the valuable role that they played, and it is well recognized. We all recognize, for instance, the valuable role played by those in the Merchant Marine, who were on convoys through very dangerous waters carrying very dangerous cargo. When to go overboard meant fairly certain death.

The original war service medal, Volunteer Service Medal, did not include the Merchant Marine, did not include the Forestry Unit. The person who is responsible for having this bill in the House now to make changes that perhaps should have been made quite some time ago is a member of the Forestry Unit, Tom Curran, who happens to be sitting in the gallery today. Tom wrote a book, entitled They Also Serve. About four years ago, in a meeting with Mr. Curran and some other people, I was given a copy of that book. I recommend it to all hon. members who are interested in Newfoundland history in general, and who are interested in the history of the war effort in particular.

One thing that you realize when you read that book - and everything is very well-documented in Mr. Curran's book - is that in terms of contribution to the war effort the Foresters were second to none. That they performed a very vital function, and in fact, as members of the Forestry Unit in Scotland were leaving and going to join the British forces, they were pleaded with to stay where they were because they were providing a tremendously valuable service to the war effort. Their function and their presence was absolutely essential.

Mr. Speaker, it is light of that, in light of the persistence of Mr. Curran and some of his fellow workers and members of the Forestry Unit, that this bill was developed. It has taken time. It has taken about three and half years unfortunately, but a number of things had to happen. We first of all had to be very sure of our data. We had to be very sure that we knew exactly what we were doing and were doing it for the right reasons. So there had to be a considerable amount of research done. Also we had to talk to other groups who were affected by this change in legislation and we had to make sure that they understood the changes that we were proposing, that they understood the reason behind it, and that they approved of making these changes.

It has taken some time, unfortunately too long, but I'm very pleased to finally introduce this bill into the House of Assembly. It provides for the awarding of a medal to every person, as it says in section 3(a), "who volunteered and served in units or organizations raised or maintained as the contribution of the Dominion of Newfoundland to the allied war effort, namely, the British Imperial Forces, the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit, the Merchant Navy and the Newfoundland Regiment, or, a unit or organization prescribed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council...." So it is pretty well all-encompassing.

At the same time, in terms of volunteer service medals you don't give two, so we eliminate anybody who has received a volunteer service medal from another country.

An awful lot of Newfoundlanders, Mr. Speaker, joined the Canadian Armed Forces, and served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the war, and got the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. We are not going to duplicate that by also giving the Newfoundland Volunteer Service Medal.

There will be established a board, known as The Volunteer War Service Medal Advisory Board, to handle any unusual occurrences, any disputes that might arise as to eligibility and so on, and that will be set up. These will be the experts, both from the Forestry Units, from the Canadian Legion, from the Merchant Marine, and other experts who will make final decisions on eligibility and that kind of thing; but I do not think there is going to be a lot of dispute. I do not think there is going to be very much dispute in terms of eligibility, because a lot of very extensive research has already been done.

The description of the medal is on the final page of the bill, and of note is the bottom part of that. "The medal is fitted with a bar." That bar, Mr. Speaker, will denote the unit that the individual served with, whether it be the Merchant Marine, whether it be the British Imperial Forces, whether it be the Forestry Unit, that bar will designate the section of the armed forces that the person served in during the war.

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to say a great deal more about it. It is a very important piece of legislation, and will give the volunteer service medal to a lot of people who, for so many years, have wanted to receive the volunteer service medal but have been barred from doing so by the nature of the previous legislation.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to move second reading of this bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to have a few words to say on this bill.

All too often, I guess, the impression is left with people that the Opposition merely exists to attack, criticize, and oppose the government. While that is a major role of an Opposition, at least to pick out flaws in government policies and so on in the hope that they may be improved, there are many occasions when the Opposition have supported initiatives and legislation of the government never heard tell of, but there are lots of times - legislation yesterday went through this House which we supported and agreed upon.

There is certainly no hesitation on our part in supporting this legislation. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I want to go even further and commend the government for taking this initiative. I am a little bit familiar with the issue, because it has been around for a long, long time. It was around when we were the government. I remember, when I was Minister of Forestry, receiving many representations from those who served overseas, the overseas foresters in particular, as one group, as well as the others who were interested, but that particular group made several representations.

My recollection of the problem we had at that time was that the Royal Canadian Legion, Provincial Command was not totally supportive at the time. Of course, what we wanted to try to do was make sure there was agreement and support by the Provincial Command of the Royal Canadian Legion. It appears now that after many years, I guess, of talking about this matter, that the Royal Canadian Legion, Provincial Command, are prepared to support it, and that was the real hang-up.

So I commend the government on taking this initiative. I congratulate them for finally pulling it off, and I commend the minister because I know that he has been involved in this thing, because anybody who has made representations to me have always said, as well, that they have also been talking to the Member for Gander and hopefully, through co-operation and involvement and support from us and so on, this might become a reality.

I spoke to the Premier about it quite some time ago, and he assured me that it was under way and that plans were under way. So I simply want to take this opportunity to say that we support this legislation. Also at the same time to congratulate the government, commend the government, on pulling this off, because it is a very important thing for a lot of people in this Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too want to join in supporting this legislation. It is going to give a lot of quiet satisfaction to a large number of people who so far have been unrecognized in the form of a medal.

In speaking to this bill, it has been a long time coming, from the end of the Second World War till now, and no doubt many people who would qualify for a medal in fact have passed on. It is unfortunate that it takes such a long time to recognize the contribution of people, and a very important contribution during war service. I say it is very unfortunate that previous governments allowed the fact that one group wasn't supportive to prevent them from taking action and insisting that recognition be given to those who also served during the war.

I want to mention the Forestry - the minister has mentioned the Foresters. I think that they deserve a lot of recognition for their assistance during the war effort, in particular, as the minister pointed out, recognized by the forces themselves and saying: don't come to the regular forces, stay and do the important work you are doing in Great Britain as part of the Forestry Unit.

I also want to speak about the Merchant Navy. I think it is commonplace amongst those who have been involved in the Merchant Navy to know that the fatality rate for those in the Merchant Navy was far greater than in the regular navy. Merchant Navy seamen often wanted to sign up for the regular navy because it was safer. It was safer to be on a warship and a battleship in uniform than it was to be in the Merchant Navy. Your chances of getting killed or drowned were far greater in the Merchant Navy than they were in the regular uniformed service. I think that is a - as I say, it is a commonplace amongst those who are familiar with the Merchant Navy and members of the Merchant Navy, but it is a fact not well known by the general public. So this is a recognition that is very deserved for the Merchant Navy as well as the Foresters, and long overdue.

I also know that people who served in the regiment locally also offered their service. It wasn't as complacent as some people might think. Even in operating ferry services in this Province it wasn't, as we know, a safe occupation in those days. The dangerous waters around this Province have been established many times over now in connection with applications for pensions under the federal veterans act. It has been established that there were dangerous waters in Notre Dame Bay and Conception Bay, as we know. The sinking of ore boats on Bell Island, the loss of the Caribou in the Cabot Strait, indicate that Newfoundland was very much a part of the dangerous activity, or site of dangerous activity, during the Second World War. Local volunteers who were involved in the militia, the home defence force, also faced a possibility of dangerous activity, and made a contribution that was significant and ought to be recognized as well.

I join with the Leader of the Opposition in saying that this is a government measure which all sides of the House can support. I would urge speedy passage and congratulate the government on bringing this in, as I say, late, but better late than never.

Perhaps in his closing remarks, Mr. Speaker, the minister might want to outline what the qualifications are under the Merchant Navy definition that is contained in the act. There is a reference here to a number of command papers for the conditions of award of the 1939-45 Star. It might be helpful for the minister to explain to the House for the purposes of the public to know what and who might be included in that definition of Merchant Navy and who might be left out. Does it leave out the people who served in Newfoundland coastal waters or does it only include those who were on overseas trips and the definition of overseas, does that include Canada or just overseas across the Atlantic to Europe?

I don't know if the minister is able to answer those questions right now but if he would tell us what are the conditions of the 1939-45 star which includes the Merchant Navy. Does it include the coastal waters of Newfoundland or does it only include trips between Newfoundland and overseas including Canada or does it require you to have an overseas duty on the Merchant Navy from here to Great Britain or across the Atlantic? Does the minister know that? If he does perhaps it would help the members of the public who might wish to know whether they could qualify as a member of the Merchant Navy. With that one point or one question, Mr. Speaker, I would say that the New Democratic Party fully supports this legislation and welcomes it being brought before the House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will only delay for a second. Like the other people ahead of me, it is a worthwhile bill, a great bill and everybody in their lives wish to be recognized. While there were stumbling blocks over the years, I congratulate the Member for Gander for the initiative and the other people he had to gather around him over the years to get it through.

We all know about people in all walks of life who fall through cracks and this is one kind of a crack that is going to be filled. I just want to make note here, just in case he is not familiar with it - there was a triangle run out of Great Britain past Norway to Russian through Murmansk and the Russians only gave out a few medals a few years ago and not all the Newfoundlanders - I don't know if the minister is familiar with it - there were a number of people that were not recognized. We should cover all bases and if anyone has information, feed it to the right source so that nobody is left out. I know of an individual who was in the Merchant Navy, had been captured by the Japanese and imprisoned and he was not eligible for anything. He went through a hard time for the rest of his days. So probably in some cases where we know of Newfoundlanders who went through hard times, who were never accommodated, probably a letter from the government to the people would be nice as well with the medal. Thank you, Sir, and congratulations.

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

If the hon. the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would very briefly like to thank the opposition for offering their full support for this piece of legislation. I think it is very important to the individuals involved that we have that kind of support and we would like to thank them.

There will be, obviously in response to the Member for St. John's East, there will be some instances of dispute as to who is covered and who is not. We thought that we had better word the bill as broadly as we did and then allow the advisory committee of experts to make final decisions on the limits - as to the limits that he talks about and he mentioned some examples. So rather than government make those decisions we decided to leave it to that committee that will probably have seven members on it - it is described in some detail there - and they will make that type of decision. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, it gives me tremendous pleasure to move, at this point, second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 42)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Sir. Order 26, Bill No. 46, An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act, my friend the minister again.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act". (Bill No. 46)

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it does not give me quite as much pleasure to introduce this bill. As a matter of fact, it does not give me any pleasure at all but, Mr. Speaker, this has got to be. In this Province right now we are experiencing smuggling at levels, I guess, that we have never experienced before. In terms of this particular act, I suppose we are probably losing upwards of $20 million a year in terms of smuggling of tobacco and tobacco products. So, Mr. Speaker, whereas it does not give me pleasure to introduce this bill, it is a bill that is extremely necessary and signals an all out war on smuggling activity in this Province. This is the beginning, the first step, or the second step. We've already increased surveillance, Mr. Speaker, and we've already made sure that in the very near future some new equipment will be in place to make apprehension of smugglers easier. This is a legislative step to declare war on this smuggling activity.

This activity robs everybody. It affects all of the basic services that we must provide to the people of this Province, that government on behalf of the people of the Province must provide. It affects every single service. It affects our hospital system, it affects our educational system, it affects the money available to provide basic social services and basic necessities. It affects the money available to provide proper justice in this Province. The activity of smuggling, and to go a step beyond that, the activity of actually purchasing and using smuggled products, the consumption of smuggled products, is a crime. It is a crime against every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

The federal Minister of Finance in a recent speech indicated that hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens in this country have signalled the withdrawal of their consent to be governed by this type of tax evasion. Unfortunately these same people who will avoid paying the taxes haven't withdrawn their demand for services. That becomes the problem. They haven't withdrawn their demand for services. It is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to try to control and limit as much as possible, and if possible stop, this activity that is a crime against every single person in the Province.

This particular bill, I will just very briefly go through some of the key clauses and then we can have our discussion. I'm sure that members opposite can't argue with the principle of the bill. They may argue with some of the clauses but they can't argue with the basic principle of the bill.

Clause 3 of the bill for instance would amend the act to require that persons bringing tobacco into the Province in certain regulated amounts have a permit to do so. That persons who transport tobacco in the Province carry certain documentation respecting the tobacco that is being transported. That a person not sell or give unmarked tobacco or packages of fifteen or fewer cigarettes to another person. That is not a smuggling issue but a different issue. That tobacco be marked and stamped in accordance with the act and that the marking and stamping of tobacco be carried out by persons with the necessary permits to do so.

Clause 6 of the bill, I am just skipping over some of them, would allow the minister to directly authorize a person who is not an inspector under the act to carry out the duties of such an inspector. Clause 7 of the bill would amend the act to harmonize the search and seizure provisions that require a warrant with the search and seizure provisions of the act that do not require a warrant.

Clause 8 would amend the act to allow for search and seizure of contraband tobacco without a warrant in certain circumstances. That will also provide for the means of disposing of contraband or other seized goods of persons dealing in contraband and provides the means for an innocent person to regain possession of his or her seized property if in fact that happens.

Clause 10 of the bill would amend the act to make it an offence for a person to deal in contraband tobacco and would provide specific penalties for that offence, including fines and imprisonment. It might be worth a couple of minutes just to go over some of the details in section 10. Section 10 says:

"The Act is amended by adding immediately after section 68 the following:

`68.1(1) A person who purchases, possesses, acquires, transports, stores or sells contraband is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction:

(a) for a 1st offence, to

(i) a fine not less than $200 nor more than $10,000, or

(ii) imprisonment for a period of not more than 2 years, or

(iii) both a fine and imprisonment....'"

The second offence the amounts go up. Not less than $500, not more than $50,000, and with the same conditions attached. For a third or subsequent offence, a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $100,000.

In addition to these penalties, Mr. Speaker, subsection(2) says that, "... a court shall order the person found guilty of an offence under this section to pay an additional fine equal to 5 times the amount of the tax payable...." That is in addition to the previous fines. Subsection (3): "In addition to the fines imposed under subsections (1) and (2), a court shall order a person who defaults in the payment of those fines be imprisoned...." So, Mr. Speaker, that is -

MS. VERGE: What about whipping?

MR. BAKER: Maybe if the hon, member opposite was doing up the bill, she would include that. We did not.

Mr. Speaker, clause 10 of the bill outlines the penalties. I would like to mention that in addition to these penalties there are quite broad powers in terms of seizure. The seizure of anything to do with the contraband tobacco can simply be seized by the Crown and held for a while and then disposed of, and the money put into the general revenue account of government, the consolidated revenue fund. So there are some major changes and a major piece of legislation to try to control the smuggling.

It goes on. Subclause 12(1) of the bill would amend the Gasoline Tax Act to permit the minister to cancel the retailer license issued under that act where the holder is convicted of an offence under this act. So we will then be able to cancel licenses issued under the Gasoline Tax Act if a person is convicted under this act.

Clause 14 would amend the Liquor Control Act to permit the minister to cancel that license where a person is convicted under this tobacco tax act. Clause 15 would amend the Retail Sales Tax Act to permit the minister to cancel the registration certificate for RST of a person or company that is involved in the smuggling activity in terms of this particular act.

So any licenses, these licenses issued by government, will be cancelled for people convicted of an offence under this act. We feel that it is vitally important to do this, and we feel that this will have an impact on what is happening in this Province in terms of the smuggling of tobacco and tobacco products. We feel that it is necessary because, as I indicated earlier, it affects every person in this Province, every man, woman and child in this Province, by taking money that rightfully belongs to them and leaving us short in many areas of endeavour that we badly need to have extra funds.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, it doesn't give me great pleasure to do this. I wish we didn't have to do it. I wish this activity wasn't happening to the extent it is. Unfortunately it is, so we must introduce this type of legislation to try to control that activity.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak briefly to this piece of legislation. As the minister says, it is difficult not to agree with the basic principles of the bill. The minister talked about tax evasion. That is really what we are talking about here when we are talking smuggling. Talking about bringing product into this Province and avoiding taxation. In the case of alcohol and tobacco, of course, we are talking huge percentage of taxes on that product. What, probably 50 per cent, and probably more, of what you pay is taxes.

MR. BAKER: Forty-five per cent.

MR. WINDSOR: Fort-five per cent on tobacco, and on alcohol how much is it?

MR. BAKER: I'm not sure.

MR. WINDSOR: A little more than 50 on alcohol, that is right, so we are talking a very, very considerable difference in the price of the product at the wholesale level before taxes and after taxation. It goes a little further than smugglings, it is a whole attitude, as the minister touched on briefly, of people who don't think that they are breaking a law, as the minister said, people who would never ever break a law but yet will be involved in consuming even products such as this where taxes have not been paid, and perhaps knowing they are breaking a law but because it is government, because we are getting away from paying a bit of taxes, it is okay. That whole attitude goes throughout society as it relates to government or getting anything from government, they think they are getting it for nothing, they seem to forget that you are getting it from the taxpayers, it is coming out of their own pockets because they have to pay it eventually, government only redistributes the public purse and if you are defrauding government in any way -

MS. VERGE: Like even some Members of Parliament.

MR. WINDSOR: Even some Members of Parliament. They would not do that, I would not suggest that for a moment. But, Mr. Speaker, if you are avoiding taxes you are breaking the law and in the end analysis you are hurting, as the minister quite correctly said, all of us, everyone who pays taxes. We would not need laws if everybody were law-abiding citizens we would not need laws because everybody would voluntarily pay their taxes. Unfortunately, laws tend to restrict those of us who are honest, law-abiding citizens more than those who seem to have an endless supply of ways to get around paying taxes and to avoid some laws.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to argue with the measure, the minister is trying to cut down on the tremendous loss of revenue, legitimate revenue, we may not like the level of taxation that we are forced to bear on tobacco and cigarettes. Perhaps if we did not lose this $20 or $30 or $40 million dollars a year, then for the legitimate consumers of these products we could lower the tax rate a little bit, maybe prices will go down. I hope I live long enough, Mr. Speaker, to see taxes reduced so that prices to consumers on alcohol and tobacco go down; tobacco I really couldn't care less about, but alcohol I must confess I do partake of from time to time.

Now, Mr. Speaker, having said that there are some concerns here. This legislation, although we must agree with the principle I think, perhaps it is a little severe I say to the minister. Some of the penalties imposed here are incredibly harsh and I realize that if you break a law, you break a law, but one has to look at the severity of the penalties that are here, and compared with other penalties that are imposed by society on people who break laws today, and we see every day, persons who are involved in, even in some violent crimes, in crimes against women and the penalties that are imposed on those people when convicted, in many cases are less severe than the penalties here, so I would have to wonder in my own mind, it is a matter of degree. I do not have a quarrel with providing penalties for persons who break the law here, but I do have a slight problem with the degree of severity of the penalties that are being imposed.

People could lose their houses, their cars, airplanes, boats and in the case of what the minister just mentioned, somebody who is selling, he is not involved in smuggling but who receives and sells contraband could lose their liquor licence, their retail sales tax licence, their gasoline tax licence, in other words, they could be literally put out of business.

MR. ROBERTS: That is the idea.

MR. WINDSOR: That is the idea.

MR. ROBERTS: If you knowingly sell contraband, you are out of business.

MR. WINDSOR: If they knowingly do it, I can accept the fact that penalties are required and they should be reasonably severe, but as this reads: on a first offence, a person who makes a livelihood selling gasoline and sells tobacco as a sideline, could lose his livelihood, could lose his business for one small offence. It may be a small amount and I see no flexibility here in this, perhaps it will be in the regulations, perhaps the courts will use their judgement in applying the laws. I wish I had as much confidence as I would like to have, that our courts supply good judgement in applying laws, and this is one thing that perhaps we, as legislators, as people who make laws tend to forget from time to time. We assume that the courts are going to use good common sense in applying the laws and apply them in accordance with the sense that we, as legislators had, the intent, but as we heard yesterday, the courts do not necessarily concern themselves with what we intended. They will read the words in that law and apply it quite literally, unfortunately. The effect of that is that many times the law is applied in a manner that is quite contradictory to what we as legislators had intended. We could give some examples of that, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the severity of some of these penalties, that a person could be fined $10,000, put in jail for two years, whatever, for a simple use or possession of contraband product. Obviously it would have to be proven that that individual knew and willingly participated in that activity. I would hope that there is some flexibility here, that for a first offence it would be a certain amount, and a second and a third offence. So that those who are habitually breaking the laws obviously should be dealt with much more severely.

I'm a little concerned about bringing product into the Province. Maybe the minister can clarify. Perhaps by regulation this will be dealt with. What is the situation of a person bringing a carton of cigarettes with them back to the Province if they go out, of tourists coming in. Tourists may be coming in for two or three weeks and may stock up three or four cartons of tobacco in their motor home or their travel trailer or their car, or whatever, when they are coming in. How do we deal with that and what are the limitations on that? What problems might that possibly present for us? Are there any guidelines laid down? Does the government have any or is that something that will be prescribed by regulation? Because I would hate to think that we couldn't bring back with us a carton of cigarettes when we come back from vacation or whatever.

I don't think that is the intent. Perhaps we need to know. Maybe there needs to be laid down some stipulation as to how much one can legally bring in. As there is today with our customs laws. If you are coming back into Canada bringing tobacco products or alcohol products, that there are strict limitations on how much you can bring back without paying duty and taxes on them. Maybe that is something that needs to be looked at.

I'm a little concerned about clause 8 where one can search and seize without a warrant. Perhaps there is a requirement. Maybe it is necessary that there be a tremendous amount of flexibility here, but it sort of goes against the normal powers extended to officers who are enforcing these laws, that they can search and seize without a warrant. I can appreciate there are times when it is just not physically possible to get on a timely basis, but it is the sort of law, sort of provision, that is open to abuse by law enforcers who are less scrupulous, let me say, than we would hope they would be. Or over exuberant in the carrying out of their duties. That is an area that one would need to be concerned about.

I think that is about all that I want to say about it. Again, it is not the principle as much, it is just some of these - the fines, the prison penalties, the taking away of licenses, meaning the termination of one's livelihood. We do have families that are dependent on that. I think these penalties are a little severe for the crime. Even though I appreciate that severe penalties may well be necessary in order to curtail the tremendous loss of revenue that we are seeing now, and to eliminate this contraband product coming into the Province. It would appear to be quite severe, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I see the Minister of Finance telling me to sit down. He doesn't want to, I guess, hear what I have to say to him this morning, because I guess why I want to have a few words on this bill, and I don't think there is any doubt that this legislation will affect more of my constituents than any other member in the House. I think. I say to the minister now. The minister now is getting ready to impose a fine upon me, now, because I'm the member representing a number of people that he is trying to deal with here.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, he is down on the Burin Peninsula, I can tell the minister. I'm not really sure what he is up to today. I doubt if it is anything to do with tobacco, or anything like that.

The minister again, you know, Mr. Speaker - this is a vicious attack, I say to the minister, upon the culture and tradition of the Burin Peninsula. Culture and tradition of the Burin Peninsula. Vicious attack by the minister. Hobnailed boot attack again from this Minister of Finance. He is trying to come down hard now on a few people who flick over to St. Pierre and Miquelon to get a drop of Christmas cheer and to get a few cigarettes. Now, that is what the minister is doing, and the fines he is going to put on those people are absolutely staggering I say to the minister, absolutely staggering.

MR. FUREY: Do you have my case of wine?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology wonders if I have his case of wine. One of my friends brought it in from St. Pierre for the minister and put it through customs in Fortune. I paid the duty on it and then the minister paid me. The name of the wine was what struck me kind of funny. The minister asked me to get him a case of wine so I said what kind of wine would you like? He said the name of the wine is Fleury. I said Furey. He said, no, Fleury. It was the only wine that came close to his name. He says it is great wine and others who have had some of it say it is great.

MR. FUREY: I gave you a bottle of it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, you did not give me a bottle I say to the minister. You did not give me a bottle of Fleury. You see there was a go-between me and the minister and I have a feeling that the bottle of wine I was suppose to get ended up somewhere else.

MR. FUREY: I gave it to Tobin to give you.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, my God, if you gave it to the Member for Burin - Placentia West to give me make no wonder I have not seen the bottle of wine.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say this. People realize, of course, how this thing started out. I guess it was back years ago when people really did it for their own personal consumption. They would go to St. Pierre and bring back a drop and a few cigarettes because they could not afford to get it any other way. The people living in the area of the Burin Peninsula could not afford to get their supplies any other way and they did it on a very small scale then. That is basically how it started out. Then governments increased taxes on alcohol and tobacco and before too long, with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Burin Peninsula, as the member for Humber East so rightly points out, people saw a great opportunity here to make a good buck, and that is what has happened to it all, the enterprise culture of the Burin Peninsula. The only growing industry, I say to the Minister of Finance, the only growing industry in the Province he is now about to put the boots to, to cut it out altogether. I have to say in all sincerity to the minister, because we dealt with a similar piece of legislation in the spring and early summer, increasing fines for those caught smuggling booze. I follow very closely the news down there and some of the fines have been very, very large recently. I know one in particular was $22,500.

AN HON. MEMBER: Small potatoes compared to -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I know where the minister is coming from but I guess what I am saying to the minister is, and my own feel for it is, that the increase in fines is certainly going to have the desired effect that the minister wants, I think, seeing what is happening here now, because a very big part of the trade is tobacco. It is very obvious for people who do not know, but for people who live there and know what is going on it is because it is light, easy to handle, easy to transport, and all that stuff. It is easier to deal with.

It is a very interesting situation when you look at it all because at one time the alcohol would be brought across in glass bottles but now it is all plastic. It is interesting to hear some of these people tell the tales of it all because there is no rattling now. They can throw it around and all this stuff. Surveillance has increased substantially, as the minister knows, and has become far more effective and sophisticated. It is interesting to hear how those who participate in this illegal activity are able to get around it all. It was last Christmas, actually, at the Liberal Christmas party that the Premier told me he was going to cut out smuggling on the Burin Peninsula. Of course I said to him, that is a big statement.

MR. ROBERTS: I told him he would have to be here for fifty years as Premier.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I say to the Minister of Justice that could pretty well be. At that time I said to him: you really do not know what you are taking about, you really do not understand the situation. He said: oh, yes I do, Bill, and I am going to cut it out. I said: Well how are you going to cut it out? He said: Well, we will do certain things. I said: Like what? He said: We will put up a big radar. I said: A big radar; what will the radar do? He said: Oh, it will pick up the vessels. We will put other vessels out - enforcement surveillance vessels. I said to him: It is a pretty big, sophisticated business these days, and if you had surveillance vessels half a mile apart, I would say, if you had any number of them all along the South Coast, half a mile apart -

AN HON. MEMBER: It would not work.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, it will not work. Those boats that they use today will come through there, and they will not see them coming.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many people have been drowned this year (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: This year, you know, I say to the minister that I should knock on wood, because I do not think there is anyone this year, but almost every year, and around the Christmas time - and, of course, that is because of bad weather -

MR. ROBERTS: Almost (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Exactly, Sir. Small boats go out and put too much on board, and take chances in a little bit too rough weather. Of course they get into trouble when they come back with the load and try to get to land.

MR. ROBERTS: Of course they are moving at night.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh yes.

The minister is right. There has been a significant loss of life over the years involved in this, and every year about this time there is usually an occurrence of one, two, or three people who drown, involved in this activity.

Having said that, it has not deterred it. You know the risk involved always, and particularly to life, but it has become far more sophisticated. The boats are better. The motors, the engines that they purchase - it is unbelievable.

I live in the district and I drive the district. I drive from Fortune to St. Lawrence, and I see the boats pulled up, and on occasion I see some of the boats performing, and I will guarantee you... I saw one a few months ago, when I was going down to St. Lawrence, and on the top of the hill in Lawn, overlooking Lawn harbour, and there was one coming into Lawn harbour. I do not know what speed it was going, but it was frightening, and these are the kind of vessels they are using, boats and power.

Of course, they are just as determined that it is not going to be cut out as the government is to cut it out, and I guess that is what gets a little bit frightening to me, as a resident from down there, and as a member. Of course, the thing is, I know most of them because I have grown up down there all my life. I know them personally. I rub shoulders with them every weekend. If I go to a function they are there. If I go out to a bar they are there, and they are just as determined to keep up this activity as government is to stop it, but I guess what frightens me about it is the type of machines they are now using - the power - and it has gotten so large scale. We know what happens to anything when it gets so big. Any illegal activity that gets so big, we know what happens. There is so much money on the line, so much at risk.


We had an occurrence a few weeks ago in St. Lawrence where officers were physically assaulted, beaten up, when they confronted a family - three or four brothers - with some contraband liquor. I guess my worst fear is that it is going to get more serious, and perhaps more serious soon, because when you stop people - it is like last week, I think, they found $86,000 worth of booze, I believe, in the graveyard up in English Harbour West. The Member for Fortune - Hermitage and I were talking about it a couple of days ago, and just inside of Fortune, I think it was last Sunday night, they confronted a driver in a truck. It had $50,000 plus in the truck, and this guy drove the vehicle off the road - intentionally drove it off the road - and he jumped out and took off. They arrested him, but these are the kind of things that are starting to happen, and I guess my worst fear, one of these days, is that we are going to have a police officer, or police officers, or customs officer or officers, going to end up being hurt pretty badly or even killed over it, because the amounts of money now on the line are so large. As we know, it has gotten enormous - millions and millions of dollars.

That is the worst fear I have about it now; I just hope something doesn't happen that is very serious and we see loss of life one way or another, but particularly with someone who is carrying out his duties as an enforcement officer.

Now, I want to say to the minister on the fines aspect of it, that based upon the offense, the first, second or third offence, I would say a lot of them would choose prison, they will end up in prison. Of course, the downside of it to the Province, to the Crown, is the cost associated with that, of keeping them confined and in prison and so on, so that is another aspect of it all.

Another point that came to mind - only last week, actually, I was having a chat with a customs officer from down in the area. All of this - and I don't know if members understand this, but all of this contraband booze and tobacco that is being brought into the Province is going out through the Province. It is Canadian distillers who are supplying this to St. Pierre et Miquelon. It is the very same stuff that you and I could go down on Elizabeth Avenue now and buy off the shelf - the very same stuff.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not in all cases.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Not in all cases. What do you mean, not in all cases?

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, isn't there rum coming into St. Pierre that is against (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I don't think so. The same suppliers (inaudible) NLC, which is mainly Schenley and these people, are the people who sent it into St. Pierre et Miquelon. I think it cost something like - they pay about $2.50 to $3.00 a bottle for it, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, about three dollars maximum. Of course, what happens then, is the people go out from the Burin Peninsula and buy it for nine or ten dollars a bottle and come back and sell it for eighteen or twenty dollars a bottle. It is the very same liquor that you go down to the liquor store and take off the shelf that we pay thirty-one or thirty-two dollars a bottle for. The same people who supply the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation send the booze into to St. Pierre et Miquelon and a lot of it goes through the customs terminal at Fortune - $2.50 and $3.00 a bottle, the very same stuff.

So, I guess, the point I was going to make to the Minister of Finance is the staggering amount of taxes on this stuff. Again, you have to question why would we allow it to go out there at three dollars a bottle so that then our people - I know it is illegal to go out and buy it back for nine or ten dollars a bottle and come in and sell it for eighteen or twenty. So that is just so members understand what is happening - the very same stuff. I asked him to try to get me the detailed figures on it - which he said he would -because I would be quite interested in seeing the specifics on this. Sorry?

MR. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: To the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, a good question. As a matter of fact, the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, last year, told Schenley that if they didn't cut back on the supply to St. Pierre et Miquelon that they would probably consider not dealing with them. So really, what they did was put St. Pierre et Miquelon on a quota.

MR. ROBERTS: You know what happened then, don't you?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know what happened - that is what I am going to tell. I mean, what happened was that the suppliers in St. Pierre immediately got on to American suppliers, contacts, and before long you saw those different types of bottles coming around and different brand names. I forget what some of them were, Jenkins - I forget the other couple of names but it came in from the States. So you know, either way, they are going to get the supply, anyway. So that is what happened. The most popular brands, of course, are the kinds that we can buy off our liquor store shelves here, quite naturally, because that is what our people buy. But on the Burin Peninsula, of course, not too many buy rum or whisky off the liquor shelves, in all sincerity.

They did a story on the Grand Bank liquor store a few years ago, they showed the clerk in there and they referred to him - he said he was as lonely as the Maytag repairman. That is another concern, because there are three or four people employed there and, of course, they are always very, very worried about their job prospects.

Those are the few remarks I wanted to make on the bill. As I said, coming from the area of the people who are going to be most affected, I just thought I would have a word on this and try to skate through it as best I can, trying to express some sympathy for the hundreds of constituents involved in illegal activity but yet, coming down on the side of enforcement and not condoning illegalities, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will be very brief and I won't be nearly as interesting as the Member for Grand Bank.

Yesterday, when we were discussing the bill to control the sale of tobacco products to minors, two questions arose which weren't covered by that legislation, one, banning the sale, within our Province, of kiddie packs - cigarettes or tobacco products in small quantities. The Minister of Finance pointed out that that session is dealt with in the legislation that is currently being debated.

The other question is vending machines. The Social Services Committee recommended that Bill 7, the bill we were doing yesterday, be amended to restrict tobacco vending machines, cigarette vending machines, to licensed premises where minors are not permitted access.

Mr. Speaker, indeed, Bill 46 does deal with the first question. Clause 6(4) says: `A person shall not sell, give, possess, mark, or stamp a package of cigarettes that contains fifteen or less cigarettes.'

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me it would be preferable to amend that to outlaw packages containing nineteen or fewer. I believe the minister said yesterday that packages come in fifteens, tens and fives, so there is no point in specifying nineteen or fewer, but the evidence before the Social Services Committee is that there are very few places where packages of nineteen or fewer are permitted anymore, and that in our context, Quebec tobacco manufacturers are making packages of fifteen, ten and five, specifically for the Newfoundland market.

These small packages are now outlawed in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI, so if manufacturers are packaging fifteens and tens for the Newfoundland market, should this bill pass, what is to stop them from coming up with packages with sixteen or eighteen? So, to plug a potential loophole, I would suggest that we change this to outlaw packages of cigarettes with nineteen or fewer.

The second question is vending machines. I would suggest, as the Social Services Committee unanimously recommended, that this bill be changed to restrict cigarette vending machines, or tobacco vending machines, to licensed premises where minors aren't permitted access.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to speak briefly on this bill. It obviously has two aspects to it - one having to do with an attempt to control contraband tobacco for revenue reasons, and secondly, to try to make accessibility to tobacco in certain forms unavailable in the Province. I am referring here, of course, to the prohibition in selling cigarettes in packages smaller than sixteen cigarettes.

I think if we are going to seriously control the use of tobacco by minors, then we can't have a situation where official legal retailers of tobacco products are in a prohibition situation with respect to minors and yet, for other reasons, tobacco products are readily available to minors through the same black market that makes tobacco products available to adults.

Here in this city it is very easy to buy boxes of tobacco. This is uncut tobacco, or unrolled tobacco, rather, that can be bought in packages unstamped, as it were. Contraband tobacco can be bought quite readily, quite easily, in this city. Anybody who wants to get their hands on it can certainly do so. There are contacts in virtually every bar. If you wanted to find out how to get it, it would be very easy to do so.

If we are going to be serious about controlling the contraband tobacco and the illegal trade, we do have to take measures to make it more difficult for these tobacco products to be so widespread as to be accessible to children as well as to adults. So I welcome the change in clause 6, subsection (4) of the act, as amended, I guess contained in clause 3 of this bill. I think that is a good provision. We had been promised throughout the hearings on the Tobacco Control Act that this measure would be taken in a revenue act; we see it here, and I am pleased to see that that is the case. I also acknowledge the minister's statement that if, indeed, tobacco and cigarettes become available in packages of sixteen, seventeen, eighteen or nineteen, that he will amend the act to prohibit them, as well.

Selling cigarettes in packages of twenty, in fact, is unusual in this country. I think it is perhaps only in Newfoundland that they are popular at all; in most provinces, packets of twenty-five are the norm for cigarette sales and only a few packets of twenty are sold here in this Province. Probably, for reasons having to do with the economy, packets of twenty became the norm and are more popular here than other size packages, but I have seen examples of packs of less than twenty, the so-called kiddie packs, in packages of five, being made available, but there is also, still, Mr. Speaker, a very consistent practice of selling loose cigarettes. I saw it myself only the other day in a store here in St. John's.

MR. ROBERTS: Isn't that unlawful under the Child Welfare Act?

MR. HARRIS: Well, actually, the sale of cigarette papers is unlawful under the Child Welfare Act, but we just changed it yesterday to make it presumably lawful under the Child Welfare Act because it is not outlawed under the new Tobacco Control Act. But selling cigarettes in less than twenty to anyone - selling loose cigarettes in a store I believe is already unlawful but it is done on a regular basis, and we have examples of that daily. I think if you walk into any store, particularly the small corner store, you will see people able to buy a loose cigarette; I think they charge twenty-five cents apiece for them, now, maybe fifty cents, I don't know.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture has had the same experience as I had; while you are waiting to be served you will see somebody come in and put down - give me two cigarettes, give me three cigarettes, and the person behind the counter has three or four different brands available: `Which kind do you want? Okay, a couple of those, a couple of those.' That is illegal, but it goes on, and I don't know to what extent the government is going to take measures to prevent that. Because that is the form in which cigarettes are made available to minors quite often and, of course, as long as there is contraband tobacco and contraband cigarettes available, they are also going to be made available to minors.

I am sorry to see that there are not greater controls on the other types of tobacco products being made available to minors, Mr. Speaker, because what we were told and what I have been told by young people, themselves, is that rolling your own is also very common amongst young people, because it is sometimes easier to get access to tobacco from parents or from homes and that sort of goes around amongst the kids, but they still need papers and other paraphernalia to be able to smoke. So, once again, it is not being done out of any heavily moralistic view, Mr. Speaker. This is not a morals issue, really, although some people think it is; really, this is an attempt to prevent young people from getting hooked, because once they do when they are thirteen or fourteen or fifteen - and I see the Member for St. John's South nodding; I think he and I probably both were hooked by the time we were fifteen. You know, you start smoking when you are ten or twelve or fourteen and you do it every day or once a day because that is the habit you get into, and by the time you are fifteen or sixteen it becomes a regular habit and it is very difficult to stop. Some members in this House are still having difficulty trying to stop, so it is not out of morality although, obviously, we are concerned about the health of young people.

MR. MURPHY: It causes other problems.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, it causes other problems. We are concerned about the health of young people. They do not have the wise decision making that adults may have even though they know of the dangers, so anything that can be done, Mr. Speaker, to help in making it less accessible to young people to smoke I am in favour of, and certainly, I think, as the Member for Grand Bank has said, we have a raging underground illegal economy going, particularly in the South Coast, with tentacles all over the Province. As the member says you can buy contraband tobacco in St. John's any day of the week and if I had a mind to, it is 11:20 now, I would say by 5:00 o'clock this afternoon if I wanted to buy contraband tobacco - and I know of no particular source right now, but I bet I could come back here with half a dozen boxes of tobacco from probably two or three different sources by 5:00 o'clock this afternoon because that is the nature of the trade. It is causing problems because other people are suffering.

The Minister of Justice says that government does not have enough money to look after victims of crime, and yet if we had the legitimate revenue from tobacco sales perhaps it would not be necessary to do away with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act. We see that these things all have consequences, Mr. Speaker. It is not designed to give the people on the Burin Peninsula a hard time, but it is designed to have fairness and legitimacy in business practices and in revenue collections. I support these amendments, Mr. Speaker, with the same kind of sympathy for the people who are desperate enough to get involved in those measures, as the Member for Grand Bank expressed, but nevertheless my sympathy lies stronger for people who are suffering as a result of the lack of government help. My sympathies are stronger for them and the government revenues necessary in order to be able to make those measures possible.

With those remarks I conclude my speech, and thank you for your time.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I just have a few brief comments on this bill. Overall certainly the thrust of the bill and the principle of the bill are important steps in combating the illegal sale of tobacco in this Province. I feel that if someone is guilty of the illegal sale of tobacco the action taken against them should be restrictive and not carried across other specific areas. If you increase the fine so be it. If they are guilty a second time, then take away their right to sell tobacco. That should be there. If they have a license or a family business to sell gasoline that will be taken away, or whether it is the sale of alcohol or a regular retail sales license. It is my understanding that if you violate driving regulations you could lose your driver's license but you would not lose a retail sales license in this Province or the right to sell alcohol or any other thing. I do not disagree with these fines and the range and severity. I think something has to be done and I agree with that. If you are guilty of a specific offence for doing something illegal every step should be taken to correct it and to have a disincentive to do that again, but to apply it to other areas and to put a family unemployed who are depending on the sale of groceries in that business, or various other things -

AN HON. MEMBER: Somebody else will come along and sell the same thing.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, they certainly can. They possibly can. If you are guilty of driving let us confine it, take away your license and fines. If you are guilty of selling liquor take away your liquor license and have fines related to it. If you are guilty of selling tobacco do it with tobacco. If you are guilty of doing it in other areas that are under restrictions do so, but do not take away every license issued by the Province in those areas. I think the fine itself is a deterrent, whether it is $50,000 or $20,000, or whether it is imprisonment, that will take care of that individual and it will serve as a deterrent for anybody else and it would not unduly punish the family on a financial basis where they would not be able to survive. I am saying if you are guilty of a specific offence - if the minister understands where I am coming from, deal to the full extent of the law with it. I am not condoning it at all, in fact very much to the contrary. I think something has to be done and I said in the House last week there is a tremendous underground economy going on and the minister was flabbergasted that we knew anything about it. Of course, we all know there is a tremendous underground economy going on all over the place. A lot of it has to do with that tax regime. It is contributing to it, but nevertheless in tough times these measures may not certainly get the revenues government is going to want, either through taxes, or in fines and forfeitures. It is not going to do it, because it is going to end up in imprisonment.

I would say: Apply the law to the area of guilt, and do not carry it across in numerous other areas which are unaffected and law-abiding. If you abide by nine areas of the law and violate it in one, exercise that right within that one and do not take action against the other nine areas in which you are behaving and following the law.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if nobody else wishes to speak - indeed I think almost everybody in the Chamber at present has spoken - there are one or two points which perhaps I could address on behalf of the government, and on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Finance, whose bill this is.

First of all, let me deal with one of the points raised by my friend from Humber East - fifteen or nineteen. She may have noticed one of the law clerks came over and spoke to me during the course of the discussion, and I am authorized to say, on behalf of the law clerks, that what happened simply is that the instructions for nineteen were not correctly put in the bill, and none of those who proofread the bill - including the ministers who reviewed it - noticed the omission, so we will correct that in committee.

There is no pack that we know of between fifteen and nineteen, but it is not impossible that some cigarette manufacturer could decide to produce one. We are not going to allow the legal sale, in this Province, of packets of less than twenty cigarettes, and that is that, so that will be amended in committee.

I am not trying to slough the blame on anybody. It is our bill and we take the responsibility, but that is what happened. I had forgotten, to be honest, but one of the law clerks, as it were, twigged my gown.

Mr. Speaker, there were two or three other points. My friend from Grand Bank, who is now on his way back to Grand Bank, made an eloquent speech which steered between Scylla and Charybdis, so I will simply compliment him on that and leave him between the Scylla of, on one hand, acknowledging the duty of us all to uphold the law and, on the other hand, the Charybdis of his - I think I am quoting correctly - a number of his constituents he felt may, perhaps, from time to time, have stepped over the line and perhaps even touched, or maybe even smoked an unlawful cigarette in the sense of one on which tax and duty had not been paid.

The siren call of trying to do the popular thing, as opposed to doing the right thing, is one that all of us in this House would be well advised to heed. My experience over the years has been that the right thing is always the right thing to do, even if it is not the immediately popular thing, and I would leave my friend from Grand Bank with that thought.

My friend from Mount Pearl made two or three points that I would like to address. The first was a concern - and I think my friend from St. John's East, another reformed smoker, raised, and that is the question of a person who lawfully purchases cigarette or tobacco products outside the Province and brings them into the Province. The act gives us - or the bill will give us - the power to make regulations that permit that person lawfully to keep a specified amount of tobacco, and that power is found in section 2 and section 3 of the bill.

Section 2 authorizes a person, as a consumer, to bring in tobacco, or to receive delivery, in the Province, of tobacco, as prescribed by regulation. Now the section is cast in the negative because that is the way statutes are often drafted, but it allows a positive privilege to an individual to have tobacco in his or her possession.

We have not adopted the regulations, obviously, but my understanding, from my friend, the Minister of Finance, is that we will authorize a reasonable amount to be brought into the Province. We are not going to allow that to be a loophole through which the market could be flooded, but if my friend from St. John's East buys a carton of cigarettes the next time he is wherever, the duty free shop, or outside the country or, for that matter, in another province, I do not think he will be breaching the law if he brings that carton of cigarettes back here into the Province. If he starts selling it to minors he may have trouble, but that is a different issue altogether.

The gentleman from Mount Pearl raised a concern about warrants. Section 7 of the bill, which will add some sections to the act, gives a - seven and eight - gives a very strong power to search. We have spent a lot of time on this, we being my lawyers and myself, and it is our view that these sections are valid and proper within the Charter of Rights. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us all the right to be protected against arbitrary detention or unreasonable search. In our judgement, in my judgement as the Crown's chief lawyer, Mr. Speaker, these sections are proper within the Charter.

I have no doubt that if somebody believes they are improper, or infringe improperly or unnecessarily under a Charter right, bearing in mind the section 1 justification, I have no doubt that person will go to the court, challenge them, and we will get a ruling from the court. Of course, under the regime which came into effect with the Charter the courts have the power to overturn statutes if they are contrary to the rights and privileges guaranteed to us all by the Charter. I think I could say to the House that the sections are valid in our view but should they not be, or should anybody want to contest them he or she or it - because corporations have standing under the Charter - may go before the courts and challenge them and we will get the matter settled that way. We think they are proper, we think they are necessary, we put them in.

The other point I would make with respect to the gentleman for Mount Pearl, and other members made this as well, the gentleman for Ferryland did, is the fact that the penalties imposed by this bill are very, very heavy. We make no apology for that. Indeed, as my friend the Finance Minister pointed out, we think that is one of the strengths of this bill. This is a serious activity. People somehow get the idea that: oh well, drinking a bottle of liquor that has not been brought through the tax system, or smoking a cigarette, or buying a packet of cigarettes that has not been brought through the tax system, is somehow a nothing event. Nobody is hurt by it, and so on. It is true that the taxes at both levels of government on these are extremely heavy.

Our estimate - what is the figure we used, Winston? Twenty million dollars? We estimate that the foregone tax revenue on tobacco is of the order of $20 million a year. When one remembers the fiscal position of this Province, and when one thinks what $20 million a year could do in educational services or health services or victim support services or wherever across the spectrum, one would have to acknowledge that $20 million - and removing this from the treasury - because smoking an untaxed cigarette or drinking an unlawfully purchased bottle of liquor, or part of the bottle, is stealing from the people of the Province. It is stealing what properly belongs to us.

Whether we like the taxes or not, they are there. I don't like taxes either. I pay my share of them, but I don't say I do it with any glee. Nobody does, but it is the price we pay for living in society. So we make no apologies for these very heavy penalties. In fact, we have gone and we are asking the House for two unusual things.

The first is allowing us to override the rights of lienholders. If somebody has a vehicle and is using that vehicle for an improper purpose, moving contraband, we are going to seize that vehicle, or the police will seize it, and sell it. If the chap owes something to the bank and the bank has a mortgage on the vehicle the mortgage is invalid. Now, the debt is not invalid. The individual still owes the money to the bank. The bank could still go against him or his other property or his other assets. But that vehicle is forfeit. We are not fooling around. That would apply equally. If I lend my vehicle to my friend and my friend uses the vehicle to move twenty cases of cigarettes up from the Burin Peninsula on a weekend, my tough luck. I have a quarrel with my friend, but the vehicle is gone. Now that is in this bill. There are protections built in. One can go to court and seek remedies, but that is in this bill.

Secondly, there is a matter that a number of members have spoken about, and that is the fact that if you break the law and you are holding other licenses from the Province you are going to lose them all. Again, far from making apology for that, we believe this is a very wise and proper power and authority to take. A person who is convicted - now you don't get convicted unless you've gone through the judicial system. You have the chance to make answer, to defend yourself. All the rights and protections afforded by law to a person charged are there. They are available to a person charged with an offence under this.

If one is convicted of an offence then all the licenses that we issue go, the gasoline tax license, the retail sales tax and the other licenses. Now, is that overly harsh? No, Mr. Speaker. Why? Because the person selling those cigarettes knows full well what he is doing. There is nobody can say with a straight face or with any hope of being believed that: I didn't know the cigarettes were stolen. I am not talking about the clerk selling them. I am talking about the company, the directing mind of the company. If somebody comes in and says: do you want to buy a carton of cigarettes?' What is a carton of cigarettes now? From somebody who smokes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fifty-eight dollars.

MR. ROBERTS: Fifty-eight dollars - if somebody said: do you want to buy a carton of cigarettes for twenty bucks, twenty-five or thirty? There is nobody with a straight face could maintain that the person purchasing that carton for that price believed they were buying them lawfully. Who are we trying to kid? Or somebody comes around to the back door of the bar and says: I can get you a case of whisky - now I know a little bit more about the price of a bottle of whisky - for say, fifteen dollars a bottle. The bar owner could hardly with a straight face say: I did not know it was stolen. That is like going into a bus station and a guy says: Would you like to buy a watch? You say: well I don't know. So he pulls up his sleeve and there are twenty-seven watches on his arm and he says: take your pick. Who are you trying to kid? If that is not fencing stolen goods then I will walk from here to Port aux Basques in the next two hours. My friend from St. Barbe asks where is my entrepreneurial spirit. My entrepreneurial spirit is off with him visiting his shady deals, as the Premier said earlier.

Yes, my friend from St. John's South reminds me, if contraband liquor is sold in bars, we are going to put that bar owner out of business. Not vindictively but because we believe the way to stop this smuggling is to stop the people who purchase it. That is why - let it be recorded, if somebody is found with a packet of cigarettes that is unlawful he or she is subject to a very heavy fine. The woman playing bingo who has untaxed cigarettes, if she is properly charged with it, will pay a very heavy fine. The way to stop these offenses is to stop people buying them. So, Mr. Speaker, far from making apology for the (inaudible) in this bill, we believe they are very sound and we commend them to the House.

There is one other point that I could make and then I will cease. If we have time before 12:00 p.m. we will accept this amendment that my friend from Humber East wants to move and we will perhaps get the Police Services Bill through the committee stage.

My friend from Grand Bank, I think it was, was talking about the traffic in St. Pierre, the difficulty and why can't we get the Canadian manufacturers not to sell liquor to St. Pierre. Mr. Speaker, this traffic is legal in St. Pierre. Now we work closely with the police in St. Pierre - the people out there who are engaging in smuggling would be naive if they don't think that there is liaison between the police forces. But the St. Pierre position which is in accord with their law, french law, their law, is that it is legal to export liquor. Now the fact that in the first three months of this year, the 6,500 people in St. Pierre purchased and consumed - at least that went into that jurisdiction - 26,000 cases of liquor. The equivalent of 26,000 cases of twelve one litre bottles each may indicate that not all of it is consumed in St. Pierre. I don't believe that every man, woman and child in St. Pierre drank forty-eight litres of alcohol during the first three months of this year. The figure we have is 26,000 cases of twelve's -

MS. VERGE: What volume per person?

MR. ROBERTS: Well there are 6,500 men, women and children - I am speaking round numbers. So this is a very major problem but from the St. Pierrais point of view, the export of liquor is lawful. In fact it is a very lucrative industry here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is tobacco?

MR. ROBERTS: The numbers on tobacco are not as clear but most of the tobacco being smuggled into the Province comes from St. Pierre as well. We don't have the problem that they have in Southern Ontario and Quebec. The manufacturers take the position that they are selling lawfully to St. Pierre and if we pressure - as we have - the Canadian manufacturers all that happens is the American manufacturers sell them. So that is not the answer to the problem. The answer to the problem is one would hope that our people would say: we will observe the law.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I don't have the numbers in cigarettes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well this is true but Rothmans are made in many places - and I don't want to single out the brand Rothmans - all these brands are made in many places. In fact, most of the cigarettes being smuggled into Canada, I understand, are first exported lawfully by Canadian's to the States and then come back across the border. Actually the smuggling I am told here is mainly tub tobacco as opposed to cartons. I am a reformed smoker, it has only been thirty years since I gave up smoking, I still have memories of it. Not pangs, but still have memories.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, I commend the bill to the House. I think the provisions, while they are strong, are wise, and that is why we ask the House to support it. One other comment that I forgot. The issue of the vending machines that the lady for Humber East raises is one that we want to have a look at. We are not, in our own mind, convinced of the best way to address that problem. I can tell her we've not heard the last of it in the House. I'm not sure how we should solve it, but I acknowledge there is a problem and we are trying to address it.

With that said, Sir, I will conclude what I have to say and let my friend ring down the curtain on this debate.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to take a moment or so to stress the point that we intend to be very hard on tobacco smugglers, we intend to be very hard on the people who sell contraband, we intend to be very hard on the people who buy contraband. That is the intent of this piece of legislation. Members opposite were suggesting, or some of them, that we perhaps go a little easy in terms of not removing other licenses and so on. I will say to the hon. gentlemen that, as the Minister of Justice said, we believe that is one of the strengths of this bill, that we use whatever means we have at our disposal to put out of business anybody who is dealing in contraband. That is our intent. That is why we insist on having these clauses in this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 46)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the House will adjourn at noon, in accordance with our understanding, but I wonder if we could go into Committee? I've consulted with my colleagues. We are prepared to accept the amendment which I understand my friend for Humber East will move, supported by her soul mate for St. John's East. I would ask that Your Honour leave the Chair and we resolve ourselves into Committee, please.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (L. Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, would you be good enough please to call An Act To Amend The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992, Bill No. 47, Order No. 24, which is at Committee stage.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Clause 1?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, with respect to this I would, assuming we are prepared to adopt clause 1, suggest that we go on to clause 2. I'm prepared to ask that an amendment be made. So let's deal with 1 first, if that is in order. There are only two clauses in the bill.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Clause 2.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, from our side we are prepared to increase the number from nine to twelve, and if my friend for Humber East would like to make that motion we on this side would support it.

We are not prepared to drop the requirement that the adjudicators be lawyers. If we have to have a difference on that we will have to have a difference. I have several times explained in the House and outside, in the committee and outside, why we believe they should be lawyers. We are prepared to accept removing the figure "9" and putting in the figure "12". While I can't move that, because it is my bill, either I will ask one of my colleagues to do it, or if the hon. lady would like to move it I would be quite prepared to give way.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. I'm very pleased to hear the Minister of Justice say that he has taken the advice of the Social Legislation Review Committee and is prepared to agree to giving the Cabinet the discretion to have a larger panel of adjudicators for the Police Complaints Commission.

I move that clause 2 of the bill be amended to read: a panel appointed under subsection 1, shall consist of a minimum of twelve persons -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) use the phrase, not more than; if we could.

MS. VERGE: Well actually, Chairperson, what I am intending to do in my amendment is to give the Cabinet discretion to appoint a minimum of twelve but to allow the Cabinet in its wisdom to appoint more than twelve. I will explain: The size of the pool of adjudicators doesn't affect the cost and actually, considering the fact that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary polices in three areas of the Province, Labrador West, Corner Brook and the Northeast Avalon, cost may be lower for the government if there are members of the panel from all three areas. Presently, there is no member of the panel from Labrador West; there are five male lawyers who reside in St. John's and one who lives in Corner Brook. Inevitably, over time, there will be a requirement for adjudication in Labrador West as well as Corner Brook and St. John's.

Unless the panel is enlarged sufficiently to have people from all three regions, at public expense, an adjudicator will have to be flown from the Island to Labrador West to conduct a hearing. Now what I am proposing, is to give the Cabinet discretion to appoint a larger panel of a minimum of twelve, so, Chairperson, I move that clause 2 be eliminated and the following substituted: A panel appointed under subsection 1 shall consist of - now I am open to the advice of the Legislative Counsel here; I have a minimum of twelve, but some words to allow the Cabinet to appoint twelve or fifteen or twenty persons and one of them shall be appointed as the chief adjudicator.

Now, Chairperson, that is my motion. I have said before that I don't agree with requiring the adjudicators to be lawyers; the Minister of Justice takes a different position, he has explained and he and his members have the majority, but I want to move the amendment I just did and the minister or one of his colleagues may want to defeat it and change it to require that adjudicators be lawyers.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I will ask my colleagues to vote against the hon. lady's amendment for the reasons which I have given and I would hope we don't need a lot of debate. The matter has been thoroughly rehearsed. We will then be prepared to accept an amendment, or to move it ourselves, to change nine to twelve in clause 2 as it stands. That is where we stand on this.

MS. VERGE: Thank you.

Would the minister be willing to empower the Cabinet to appoint twelve or more so that if the Cabinet sees qualified, suitable people, women and men, in Labrador West and in Corner Brook, and in the Northeast Avalon, the Cabinet may have a pool numbering twelve or may have a pool of adjudicators numbering fifteen or sixteen?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Chairman, I think for the moment, twelve will do it. We were looking at three and we have identified three candidates whom we are prepared to appoint should the House authorize us to do so. That will give us a pool of three, as it were, unappointed, if the amendment becomes nine to twelve, as we will agree. So, I would prefer to go at this slowly and if that doesn't work, I say to my hon. friend, we expect to be here for two or three years on this side, with the responsibility of government, and we will be back asking for an amendment. There is nothing fixed about this. We are in a new procedure. There have only been three complaints, so far, even referred to the commissioner. Now, I don't know whether any of those will go to a hearing or not, so we have no way to judge.

MS. VERGE: As I have explained before, my purpose in wanting the Cabinet to have the authority to appoint a larger panel is to ensure that the Cabinet exercises its discretion by appointing at least half women to the panel, and also so that Cabinet selects people from each area of the Province policed by the RNC. I am pleased that the minister has agreed with enlarging the panel. I would like to hear him, before we finish clause-by-clause examination of the bill, indicate a willingness to recommend to his Cabinet colleagues that six women be added to the panel. The panel already has six men; I would like to hear the minister pledge a recommendation to appoint six women. There are many qualified and interested women for these positions. The minister is intent on restricting eligibility to lawyers, and I assure him, there are dozens, and dozens of talented, able women lawyers.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Good. Thank you, Chairperson.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Chairperson.

I would like to support the amendment put forth, and I support it because it has been debated thoroughly and it comes out of the Social Legislation Review Committee, where it was debated. First of all, acknowledging that the Minister of Justice is prepared to increase the size of the panel, I say that without that increase, it would be impossible for the Cabinet to meet its objectives and its own policy directive, which is to appoint half women and men to all discretionary boards. So I say I am pleased to see that they did that, but obviously, they must do that, they have to do that, in order to meet their own policy objectives or their own guidelines set forth by the Premier with respect to equality of appointments of men and women on government boards.

So I support the amendment we have here, because I also believe you could appoint more than twelve - there is no reason to restrict it to twelve, particularly where we have three areas in the Province served by the RNC, and who is to say that tomorrow or the next day we may not have four or five.

The second issue that is contained in this amendment is to change the word `lawyers' to `persons'. I believe, based on my study of the legislation and my knowledge of, in particular, labour law and labour arbitrators, it is not necessary to be a lawyer to deal with the kinds of issues that are going to be placed before these adjudicators, so I support the amendment and will be supporting it when it comes to a vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: `Jack', (inaudible).



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

Order, please! Order, please!

We are now voting on the amendment put forward by the hon. the Member for Humber East. The amendment states: Delete clause 2 and substitute the following: Subsection 2, a panel appointed under subsection 1, shall consist of a minimum of twelve persons and one of them shall be appointed as the chief adjudicator.

On motion, amendment defeated.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you.

We are prepared to accept an amendment; I think my friend from St. John's - I can't move the amendment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, if the hon. gentleman wants to move it, I am -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Okay, carry on.

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

MR. HARRIS: I would like to move, Chairperson, that we delete from clause 2, the figure 9 and replace it with the figure 12.

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

MR. ROBERTS: We are prepared to accept that.

I would make two other comments - not to prolong the debate, but it is my practice, and I believe it is a proper constitutional and political practice, not to say what I will recommend to Cabinet. My hon. friend made that point. I think she is shaking her head. She is nodding in acquiescence. I think she understands the reason why no minister should ever say what she or he is going to recommend to Cabinet. We will be judged by our decisions and we will answer for our decisions here and elsewhere, of course.

Secondly, the overriding consideration will still continue to be competence. I take your point there are competent women. I believe I know some very competent women lawyers. In fact, my deputy minister, who was appointed by this administration, and half of the women who work in the sections of the department that are here in this building, the Legislative Counsel's office, the executive of the department and the civil division, happen to be women. None of them are there because they are women, they are there because they are very competent lawyers.

With that said, I will ask my friends on this side to accept the amendment, Sir.

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are voting on the amendment put forward by the hon. the Member for St. John's East, in clause 2, to delete the number 9 and replace it with the number 12.

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, Clause 2 as amended carried.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bill 47, with amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted. Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

On motion, amendment to Bill No. 47 read a first and second time, ordered read a third time now, by leave.

On motion a bill, "An Act To Amend The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 47)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before moving the adjournment perhaps members would want me to take a minute and discuss our plans for next week. It may mean we are a moment or two beyond noon but I hope that the House will agree.

Unless I've lost track, which is certainly not an impossibility, we have the following bills before us to deal with. Bill No. 49, which is An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act. I understand the Committee is meeting this afternoon to consider further on that bill. Bill No. 50, which is the Attorney General's bill, and is replacing commas and stops and what have you. Bill No. 48 has not yet been distributed. That is An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act, which incorporates the principles that we presented to the boundaries commission about a month ago. I made a presentation on behalf of the Ministry. I hope that will be here in the House on Monday. It is being printed.

Bill No. 52, An Act To Amend The Elections Act, 1991, is not yet in the House. I understand it is being printed but I haven't seen it. It is being printed, I'm told by the clerks. Then there are Bills Nos. 58 and 59, which are, respectively, An Act To Amend The Automobile Insurance Act - to do away with judgement recovery - and An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act, to deal with a situation caused by a decision by the Labour Relations Board.

Our proposal, Mr. Speaker, will be to ask the House to take these bills to second reading stage and then refer them out to the committee under Standing Order 54.2, is it? Anyway, the one that we used before with respect to the smoking bills. In other words, the House approves the principle, then the bills go to committee and are fine-tuned by committees as the two smoking bills were that we dealt with yesterday.

AN HON. MEMBER: All these bills?

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry? No, just those two, the automobile insurance and the occupational health. The others are matters that have been rehearsed at some length. Then there is the tobacco number two amendment which is a matter of - of which notice was given today - allowing adjustments downwards of the tax levels in two portions of Labrador.

Those are the ones that I understand we are going to ask the House to deal with next week. I will advise House leaders on the other side on Monday morning, and I would ask them if they haven't heard from me by midmorning please to call me, which one we will call first I need to consult with one or two of my colleagues. With that done, Your Honour, perhaps I could say that we will ask the House to adjourn next week as soon as we have dealt with these bills. I would anticipate that will be not later than Friday, and who knows it may even be before, given the degree of co-operation from all hon. members.

With that done, Sir, I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Monday at 2:00 o'clock.

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