December 14, 1993           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 35

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to the life of Tommy Sexton, who died on Monday. Tommy was a well-known and well-loved member of the arts community, both here in Newfoundland and, indeed, all across Canada.

Tommy started his acting career at an early age, and had been involved in groups such as `Cod on a Stick', the `Wonderful Grand Band', and more recently and nationally, `Codco'.

Tommy Sexton was best known for his ability to make the characters he played seem like someone we knew, be it Nanny Hynes, Mr. Budgell, or any of the various characters and people that he portrayed.

He stated in a recent story on his life that he wished people would have a good laugh to relieve the problems and stress we all face. This ability, to make us all laugh, will be sadly and sorely missed.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of all Members of the House of Assembly, I ask that you, through your offices, send a letter of condolences to the Sexton family.

Thank you.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members of the Official Opposition very much want to be associated with the minister's remarks, and join with the minister in asking Your Honour to write a letter of sympathy to the Sexton family. We propose that it be a letter expressing our appreciation for Tommy Sexton's life, as well as our regret at his death.

Tommy Sexton died at a very young age. He was only thirty-six yesterday when he died, but he achieved the distinction of being one of the most accomplished and best-known and best-loved comic actors and writers in all of Canada.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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


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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, as Leader of the New Democratic Party, I want to be associated with the remarks of the minister and the Member for Humber East on the occasion of the death of Tommy Sexton.

He was a very talented Newfoundlander. His brand of irreverent humour sometimes caught people off guard, but he did make us laugh at some very difficult things, and sometimes that is all we can do.

I think we all join in celebrating his life and regretting his early death.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today I wish to inform this hon. House that Marathon Petroleum Canada Limited has submitted a preliminary proposal to drill an exploration well to a planned total depth of 5,550 feet on the Port au Port Peninsula in Western Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: Marathon proposes to commence this well in the spring of 1994, around April 1, and drilling is expected to take about forty days. The well would be directionally drilled from an onshore location near the community of De Grau to evaluate geologically an offshore structure underneath Bay St. George.

As drilling activity would occur in two jurisdictions, the offshore and onshore areas, authorization will be required from the Province and from the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNOPB). A formal application, together with a detailed description of the planned activity, is expected early in the new year and will be processed co-operatively by my department and the CNOPB.

Marathon intends to use a slim hole drilling technique that has historically been used in mining exploration, but has recently been successfully adapted to petroleum exploration in the United States and South America. In assessing the Marathon proposal government officials will ensure adherence to all safety regulations and environmental standards. A public briefing session will be held in the area of the Port au Port Peninsula sometime in the winter, prior to any drilling activity.

A positive result from this well could lead to further drilling by Marathon in the area, either onshore or offshore.

Thank you.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that it is encouraging and positive to hear this kind of news, particularly about the continuing interest that there is in oil exploration on the West Coast. I recollect, in 1992, the minister made other announcements about some exploration activity and similar proposals, I guess, for exploration, and I believe - the minister isn't listening - I believe, in June of this year, he gave us a little bit of an update on what had happened. I say to the minister, if I might have an extra second or two, that I believe it was in 1992 that you announced similar proposals for exploration in other parts of the Province and on the West Coast, and indeed, I think, it was in June of this year, just past, he did give an update to the House on some of the activities that have been occurring as a result of some of the permits that his department has provided for.

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

MR. SIMMS: I am wondering if, before the House closes, the minister might give us a further update, perhaps, before Friday, to give us an idea of what is happening in some of those other areas he talked about in June, 1992, which he announced?

In any case, Mr. Speaker, we certainly share the minister's optimism and hope that there will be some positive results from this site being test drilled by Marathon, and we look forward to the results.

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


MR. SPEAKER: No. leave.

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the galleries thirty Level I students from Musgravetown High School, accompanied their teachers, Suzette Greening and Gary Oldford.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier, at a press conference this morning, announced a new income supplementation program. We have only had a few hours, of course, to look through the document that was released, and may I say just in passing, I trust that the government will provide all members of the House with copies; certainly, our members would like to have a copy as soon as possible. Now, from a brief look at this, it seems to be a fairly complex proposal that obviously is going to require careful study in order to be able to determine the impact it will have on the incomes of individuals and, indeed, on total personal income for the Province - that is something that needs to be looked at closely. But one thing is clear, if it is adopted, this proposal will bring about some pretty major changes in the present income security system. So, over the next period of time, we will be trying to explore more thoroughly the details contained in it, and we will have lots of questions.

May I ask the Premier, initially, a question about existing programs that will be replaced under this new proposal, existing programs that might be replaced or otherwise affected by the new proposal. Now, we understand that it will replace U.I. or social assistance for many people, not for everybody but for many people. What I would like to ask him is, will it replace other income support programs such as the federal child tax credit, family allowances, workers' compensation, for example, a provincial one, the federal GST rebate to low-income families, housing subsidies to low-income families, student loans and grants, income from the Canada Pension Plan, will any of these be replaced by the new proposal or will the income from any of these sources be included in the calculation of entitlement of benefits under the governments proposal?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question is long and involved and I don't want to consume the bulk of Question Period with a detailed answer, but let me say that in general - and there are some variations because the application of this plan depends in part upon the usage of the tax structure and the tax administration system in order to ensure that once a persons income gets to the level where there should be a reduction of the contribution, it is taken back through the tax system, but it would not affect the old age security, it would not affect the Canada Pension Plan basically, it would not affect the Guaranteed Income Supplement; it would not affect anything anybody was entitled to over sixty-five years of age, so the Guaranteed Income Supplement, the basic Canada Pension Plan would not be in any manner affected.

I don't know if there would be any impact, I don't think there would be any impact but I would have to check it to get the details on somebody, for example, that had a Canada Pension Plan, disability pension by reason of being disabled from work within receipt of a Canada Pension Plan pension. I would have to get the answer and find out, but generally speaking it would not affect old age security, Canada Pension, Guaranteed Income Supplement. The refundable tax credits: only to the extent that the income went up so high that it caused a deduction. It would not affect spouse's allowance, it would not affect veterans disability, war allowances, workers' compensation or family allowance, it would not affect those basic benefits.

I have arranged to have copies of this information paper delivered to members today and if you look on page 48 when you get it, you will see the areas that would be basically affected and it is primarily the unemployment insurance benefits, social assistance, child tax benefits, provincial and federal job creation and federal and provincial training. Those are areas that would be brought together and when you look on page 48, you will see that roughly speaking it redistributes the $1.5 billion that is presently distributed in those particular areas.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, just to pursue that, may I ask the Premier, because obviously detailed information along the lines of the questions that I just asked about current sources of income that might be absorbed or affected in any way or changed by the plan, is pretty essential and basic information for people to have in order for them to be able to determine the full impact of this proposal on the individual or on the family incomes, so just as a follow up to the first question, would the Premier table, maybe over the next couple of days or as soon as he can put it together, a list in fact, a clear, separate list of transfer payments to individuals, tax credits and rebates, pensions, anything he mentioned; perhaps disability associated with the Old Age Pension Plan, social assistance supplements, grants or anything else that might be replaced or modified by the new plan. Could he table that basic information for us over the next few days?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, I will have Dr. House prepare a copy of all of those elements that under this proposal might be affected. Now let me hasten to add for hon. members, this is a proposal for consideration. It has gone first to the federal government because it can't, of course, be implemented without the full participation of the federal government. Once we have an indication of the federal government's direct response to it, assuming their response is positive and they would propose to participate with the Province in it, we would propose some means of a public consultation process. Perhaps through one of the House committees, through a legislative committee of the House, may be one means of doing it. Another means of doing it might be like we did with the Strategic Economic Plan, through the Advisory Council on the Economy, although I wouldn't foresee going that route. I would think that a House committee might be a more appropriate way to go. That is something that we would have to consider at the time.

Let me just make a correction - I mentioned child tax credit, because it appears on the list on page 48. What I had overlooked is that the amount that would be proposed to be spent on the child tax credit remains the same, so there is no direct impact on child tax credit. It would only affect really those where you see the changes there. The unemployment insurance benefits, a portion of the social assistance payments. There would still be social assistance for people with special needs and for special needs of people who would be in receipt of the income supplementation payments. There would be an impact on some of the present federal and provincial job creation expenditures, and the training of course would be increased. This is one of the values of it. It proposes increases in educational training payments.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We look forward to the Premier tabling the information. Now it is noted when you read through it, and I heard Dr. House today on CBC radio, pointing out that in fact the new plan focuses on family rather than individual incomes. I heard Dr. House myself today say that families on low income, that is those earning $20,000 a year or less, would be the only ones who may get any significant benefits from the new plan. That is what he said today on CBC radio.

The authors of the report, on page 31 I think it is, estimate that as a result of the UI loss, the loss of UI, about 75,000 people would likely experience some decrease in their incomes. In other words, 75,000 people will be worse off, shall we say; but I assume that the government has done some impact studies on this particular proposal, so could the Premier tell the House how much income, in total, will those 75,000 people lose.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: We should put that number 75,000 in perspective. I am just trying to find out where it -

AN HON. MEMBER: Page 30.

PREMIER WELLS: Page 30, is it? Okay. Let's put that in perspective.

Here are the real numbers, Mr. Speaker. Here is what the summary says: It is possible to get some idea of likely redistributive effects. On the whole, assuming no behavioral effects, and ignoring the education supplement - if you just set aside the part of it that is additional education, because that could go up or down, depending on the way individuals respond - research for this project indicates that most people, about 345,000 people in the Province, would see no change in their income. About 155,000 would experience some increase in the income, and about 75,000 would experience some decrease in the income. So it is about 13 per cent of the population. That is men, women and children - everybody in the families involved - would experience, under this proposal, as it is present structured, some decrease in the income.

Now what has not been done yet is any discussion with the federal government about how to accommodate that adjustment. It may be a bit difficult to have it occur abruptly. If this were, say, to come into effect on April 1 or January 1, 1995, or something like that, what would have to be looked at is some means of phasing in the downward adjustment. So the real numbers are about 13 per cent of the population would experience some decrease.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I knew that. I understood that, and the quotes that he made. I would refer to that in my supplementary. My question was: How much income, in total, will those 75,000 people lose? That was the question. Perhaps he can ponder it while I ask him my next supplementary.

PREMIER WELLS: The Economic Recovery Commission has all of the details from which these numbers are derived. I do not have it, off the top of my head, but I can undertake to get it.

Now I do not know how much they might lose, but anything that redistributes the total amount available, and provides more for the more needy, is going to have some loss for those who are getting a larger amount now. That is inevitable. What the precise dollars are, I do not know.

I could say this, mathematically: It would be precisely the same amount as those who have greater need would be getting. Whatever one goes down the other would go up, because these projections are done in such a way as to be able to finance it within the existing amounts paid out. So those earning more would lose; those earning less would gain.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to getting the information from the Premier.

As he said, and as the report states, 155,000 people may experience some increase in the income. Now the basic minimum income under the plan, say for a family of four, would be about $9,000 a year - $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per child. That, I suppose, is well below the poverty line, and probably no better than people do now on social assistance and other income supplements. So the only way they are really going to be able to experience increase in their incomes, under this program, is if they can find some additional employment, and there is an incentive there for them to do that, as I understood the Premier's media statements, at least.

So the question is: How does the government propose to create the jobs, enough jobs, so that those 155,000 people who are supposed to do better on this program will be able to eke out some kind of a subsistence living under the new plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me remind the Leader of the Opposition that if I said it once, without exaggeration, I have probably said it at least 100 times in this House in the last few years. The government does not create jobs. What the government does is create an economic climate.

The former government never created jobs they created the illusion of jobs but governments responsibility is to create an economic climate that induces private investment to cause job opportunities to be created by the private sector investment. This is one part of the overall, other parts of it are tax reductions, we talked about that, another part of it is improving the regulatory climates so as to diminish the regulatory burden, to speed up the environmental assessment process and to improve the labour relations climate. This is one more part of it, to improve the income security system so as to delete from that the disincentives for working and put in place instead incentives for working and out of this, we hope, jobs will be created. It is a restructuring of the economy. Now this is far better than it has ever been done before in this Province. Far better for the first time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: For the first time we are coming to grips with some of the fundamental structural problems of our economy. The decade that ended in 1989 saw the only jobs created were jobs in government financed fishery sector and jobs in government itself. There was no improvement in ten years in the economy. We want to change that. We want to restore and increase a vibrant economy in this Province and this is one factor in it. This alone will not generate employment nor is it intended to. It is intended to cause to be created the circumstance that it is not a disincentive to seeking employment but is rather an incentive to furthering education and seeking employment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, one of the truest statements I ever heard the Premier make a moment ago was when he said, this government does not create jobs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I will tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, they sure know how to eliminate jobs. The Premier very carefully forgets his campaign fuss of 1989, job creation and bringing home every mothers son and all of those other kinds of quotes that were on the go.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter -

PREMIER WELLS: Is there another question?

MR. SIMMS: Yes there is another question, I know he smarts when he gets questions about job creation because their record is so lousy. I will ask him again - I heard him on the radio and I heard Dr. House on the radio say: the people will be offered an incentive and the incentive will be to go out and find work and get work. The claims that have been made depend on some of those people being able to keep their jobs, there aren't enough jobs to go around. Does the Premier intend to table any kind of job plan associated with this plan at all so that those thousands of people he now says must go out and try to find work to supplement their income, will have an opportunity to do so? Where is the job plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me correct some of the misstatements the hon. member made. At the outset, I did not say this government does not create jobs. I said no government creates jobs. I pointed out the difference between this government and the former government - the difference is we did not lie about it. We told the people the truth. You just fabricated the illusion of jobs - that is the difference.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: You sprung from one mess to the other and created nothing but financial irresponsibility.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


PREMIER WELLS: I got there attention?

Now let me answer the question directly again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I woke them up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: The Member for Labrador West is really awake.

Mr. Speaker, I emphasize again, this is not intended to be a job creation or job generation program. It is one part of the overall proposal set forth in the Strategic Economic Plan. It happens to derive from action items 18 - 19 and was a specific focus. There wasn't much point putting effort into reducing our tax burden, re-arranging our regulatory structure so as to diminish that burden, in revising our environmental assessment process, in trying to improve the labour relations process, doing everything we could to try and attract investment and job creating opportunities in this Province, if we maintained in place an income security proposal that acted as a disincentive. So this is one part only!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: For the first time in fifteen years at least, a government is doing something in a sensible, planned, orderly way to revitalize the economy of this Province. The hon. members opposite just can't understand it. They never could.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Final supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: One final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I noted with interest - I would have to get Hansard to hear what he said - but I believe he said: we didn't lie about that. I think that is what he said. I wonder what about garbage, denominational education, Hydro, the public service collective agreement, and all those (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Anyway, we will let the public be the judge of all that in due course.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SIMMS: They judged six or seven months ago. They will have another opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Let me ask the Premier this final supplementary today on this topic. Can he confirm that in fact people will now have to work for twenty weeks before they can qualify for unemployment insurance?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me again clarify. Indeed, the public of this Province have spoken, not will speak. They have spoken. They've expressed their views quite clearly, you can see it, obviously, on this side of the House. They've approved of the approach. Just in the last month they've expressed that approval again. They stated their view of the position of the hon. members opposite, and they are four whole points above the inflation rate, which is 2 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


PREMIER WELLS: I've forgotten the question. What was the question?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) well below the unemployment rate (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, well below the unemployment rate. Way, way below the unemployment rate.

MR. SIMMS: So are you!

PREMIER WELLS: He could only wish.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: He could only wish.


PREMIER WELLS: Yes, eighty-five.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I don't believe it but that is what is said. Now, I don't believe it. I really don't believe it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


PREMIER WELLS: No, I say to the hon. members opposite, I don't believe it. I don't think the numbers could be that high. I think this is the one time in twenty when the thing is out of whack. Because I don't believe it could be that high. I think the next time it comes out it will show perhaps something more reasonable like about 65 per cent or 60 per cent or 70 per cent. Something along those lines, Mr. Speaker.

I believe there was a question in the midst of all those comments he was making. The question was: will it require twenty weeks to qualify? The unemployment insurance system will basically remain in effect as the fundamental unemployment insurance system. As an insurance scheme, not a social security scheme, which it has developed into as a result of not having an adequate alternative in place. So that in the ordinary course any person who lost his or her job due to a closure or a failure of a business, or a reduction in a business, would still be entitled to unemployment insurance and not the income supplementation as such.

The minimum qualifying time the Province doesn't determine. We would expect that it would be something like the norm in most other parts of the country and it would well be twenty weeks. So I would expect it would be. That would be for the federal government to decide because we don't control the unemployment insurance system. I have to say my expectation is it would be pretty similar to what it is in other parts of the country, and that is probably twenty weeks or whatever.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Premier as well on the income supplement plan. I want to ask the Premier whether or not the figures given out on page 47 of the report are correct that there will be approximately 60,000 people taken from the present U.I. program and an elimination of $688 million or approximately, on the average, $11,000 per recipient taken from the system, taking away from U.I. recipients. Is that a correct figure as part of the government's plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, that is a misstatement of the reality. The hon. member, I believe, has not stated it accurately. What it says is, the same people who are affected would probably get much of the same $688 million, but through a different means, so it wouldn't be taken away from those 60,000 people. Many of them would be getting such payments under the income supplementation instead of in the form of Unemployment Insurance payments. It changes the form of it, and what it does, is really it redistributes the amount of income security that is paid out so that those at the lower end of the scale get more, and some of those at the higher end of the scale, at least, would get less.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is going to be interesting to see how low you have to go to get more, but from the same page, it shows that two plant workers who now earn a combination of work and U.I., $22,000, about half the average income, will go down to $16,000 total family income or a drop of $6,400 annual income under the Premier's plan. Now, I ask the Premier, why are you attacking these people and reducing them from an income now which is already $6,000 below the Stats Canada poverty line going down to $12,000 below the poverty line? Why are you attacking this group of people?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: If you look then at the next one, the bottom one on the same schedule, it shows where one fisherperson, working ten weeks at the moment, ends up with $16,000 as the total family income. This shows the ones that would be affected.

MR. HARRIS: Down by $800.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, it shows it down by $800. It shows where one plant worker who works for twenty-six weeks and at the moment only gets $15,468 would go up to $23,000. So it provides for an incentive, an increase. Now, the individual who is affected - it doesn't displace totally the social security system. If there were a basis for a housing allowance, a basis for support on the basis of heating allowance or housing allowance, all of that could be paid extra, so persons would still be qualified. The incentive here is to try to cause people to focus on earning income as much as they can, wherever there is an opportunity; if there isn't any, there will still be a similar level of support, but if there is, to earn it and not only to earn it, not to be penalized by going out and earning it. So there is an incentive to try to earn it, and not be penalized, but to get an additional bonus for going out and earning it and this is what the system is intended to do.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the Premier and his government were so interested in providing incentives, why did he not, since 1989, allow incentives for social assistance recipients, letting them earn income over and above their social assistance for a period of time and collect taxes on that, as well? Why did he not do that, all except for a $100 a month or something minuscule like that? Why did he not put an incentive system in there in the last five years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: This is part of our development. The steps to develop this were put in place more than two years ago. The instruction to start this work was given, the approach was affirmed in the Strategic Economic Plan; we couldn't do everything at once. Now, I would remind hon. members, we are making a lot of significant improvements in the society and economy of this Province. Look at what is under way. Look at what we are doing in terms of improving the education system; look at what we are doing in terms of improving health care administration in the Province; look at what we are doing in terms of improving economic performance in the Province, look at everything; look at what we are doing in terms of privatization to give the private sector a boost. Look at all of the things that we are doing for the benefit of this Province. It is time a government had the courage to show some leadership!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, I was thinking that the members opposite were trying to drown me out.

MR. DUMARESQUE: It won't be long now!

MR. CAREEN: Oh, I hear the Member for Eagle River! The Premier was with him when he ordered a large pizza and the waitress asked if he wanted it cut it four or eight pieces. The Member for Eagle River said he wanted it cut in four because he couldn't eat eight pieces. That's him!

The Premier mentioned earlier, 1989, and I am going back to 1989 with this question. On the eve of the election that year, at the Laval rally, a Liberal rally, he mentioned that what was happening in Long Harbour was going to be a priority with a government that he formed, and that he would be thinking about setting up a commission which would give priority to Long Harbour. Sir, I say to the Premier, a promise made is a debt unpaid, and what is his government planning to do about Long Harbour, that is still caught on a hook after four-and-a-half years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the commission about which I spoke is the Economic Recovery Commission, and they focused on improving the economic life in dealing with the structural economic problems created by the former government over seventeen years of gross mismanagement. They focused on trying to develop fundamental approaches to deal with these problems and this is what we have done. What the Economic Recovery Commission has done here is a classic example of the tremendous effort they have made and one of these years, Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province will recognize their debt of gratitude to the Economic Recovery Commission and the tremendous performance they have shown.

Mr. Speaker, specifically with respect to Long Harbour - the government has done everything within its power to try to cause economic activity to replace that which was closed at Long Harbour. There haven't been many alternatives. One that was proposed, the members opposite don't even want to consider. They want us to change the laws to prohibit anybody from even mentioning it - the waste disposal. They want to change that. That was for Long Harbour. The members opposite said, the devil with Long Harbour, don't ever even allow anybody to propose consideration of it. Change the laws to prevent anybody from even considering it, no matter what the circumstances are. That is not our approach. Our approach is to leave the existing laws in place. The laws are quite adequate to protect our environment and not cause us any harm.

Mr. Speaker, government is doing everything it can for Long Harbour, the same as it is doing everything it can for Buchans, for Bonavista, for Baie Verte, and any place else that is affected by economic slow-down, but we can't give Long Harbour priority over Argentia, or Baie Verte, or Bonavista, or anywhere else. They are all part of this Province and they are all equal taxpayers in the Province, and we are trying to change the fundamental economic structure so as to cause a greater level of economic activity to take place, and Long Harbour will benefit, as well as others.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

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

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

MS. VERGE: Members are unusually boisterous here this afternoon, and I am thinking that the Minister of Education didn't hear Your Honour a moment ago. He may have been intending to rise and present the Saunders Report on Public Libraries.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.


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

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

Today, I rise to present a petition on behalf of 256 people from the communities of Baie Verte, Burlington, and Nippers Harbour. The prayer of the petition reads:

`WHEREAS the importation of garbage for final disposal in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is an indignity to our people and should not be seen as future growth industry for this Province; and

WHEREAS the final disposal of garbage in any quantity or form is destructive and hazardous to our biophysical environment and, with the exception of our established regional obligation, should not be undertaken on behalf of any jurisdiction other than our own; and

WHEREAS the garbage import industry is considered to be detrimental to all other forms of industrial and economic development, including and especially our tourism industry; and

WHEREAS the adoption of waste trade industry would signal the destruction of all that we hold dear about our Province; and

WHEREAS the overwhelming majority of people of Newfoundland and Labrador are opposed, in principle, to such industrial initiatives, your petitioners respectfully request that the hon. House take such action as may be necessary to enact or amend legislation to say no to industrial schemes which have, as their objective, the importation of waste for final disposal in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.'

Mr. Speaker, I made a visit to Baie Verte a few weeks ago to obtain firsthand knowledge with respect to the situation there. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, it is an environmental disaster in that area. The mine site, 900 acres, is a total mess. There is garbage strewn all over the place out there, equipment rusting - falling apart, tires, wheels all over the place, large holes in the ground filling up with water and dust from the large piles of tailings, blowing in with the wind, over Baie Verte. Mr. Speaker, it is a total mess and it has to be dealt with.

While in the area, I had meetings with the town council. The town council said the jobs created by bringing this new industry into Baie Verte was secondary, and they had a genuine concern with respect to the clean-up of that area, and I believe those people.

The town of Baie Verte is very beautiful, with a lot of infrastructure. When I left Baie Verte I actually was wondering how I could clear my own conscience to recommend that that project go ahead, because I really felt bad for the area - the need for jobs in Baie Verte - but my conscience wouldn't allow me to do it, and I cannot support that project.

At Baie Verte we held a public meeting of approximately sixty people. At that meeting, they presented me with this petition. I was given, with the petition, some 268 letters to be handed over to the Premier, the Minister of Environment and Lands, the Minister of Mines and Energy, the MHA for the area, and the Leader of the Opposition, and I passed them to the Clerk a moment ago.

Back to the situation at Baie Verte: there is a river flowing through that site, with asbestos flowing into the harbour, and I believe this area has to be cleaned up, even though the project which was proposed to help clean up that situation hopefully will be rejected.

I believe that maybe with the co-operation of the provincial government we might have access to some federal dollars with respect to the Green Plan that is being proposed by the new federal government. I would like for members of this House to keep the Baie Verte situation in the limelight, and to do our very best to help the Town of Baie Verte clean up that site out there.

I am wondering when a decision will be made on that project, and I am wondering also: Is government planning a new industry within the Province to create jobs with respect to the importation of garbage?

I ask that question for a specific reason, because I refer to a statement the Premier made on Tuesday, November 30, 1993, in this House, and I refer to Hansard: "The big problem with trying to get the U.S. economy going is they can't get California going, and California has always led the recovery in the U.S. economy. They can't get California going because the California Legislature, acting in response to groups like SNAGG and others, so locked up and tied down California that you can't do virtually anything there." I am wondering, is this is a part of the new Strategic Economic Plan that we are going to have an industry bringing garbage into the Province.

The Premier went on further to say: "... you can't get California going economically because they have so brought in prejudicial regulations and laws that really prevent being able to get an economic impetus moving in California ..."

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering now, is that at the back of the minds of the government opposite, that they are planning to create an industry, and is that why they won't bring in legislation to deal with places like Long Harbour and Labrador, Schefferville, and Baie Verte.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. J. BYRNE: Just in conclusion -


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: In conclusion, I wish to support the petition and encourage the minister and the government opposite to bring in legislation to ban the importation of garbage into Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to speak in support of the petition presented by the Member for St. John's East Extern. It is another in a series of petitions that show, I think, the overwhelming concern of the people of this Province about having our environment, our industrial sites, our people being made victims of an attempt by certain multinational or transnational interests in general in turning this into a place for what the Premier likes to call environmental industries. I think he was down in New York, Boston and Washington last week and he was talking about Newfoundland as a wonderful place for environmental industries.

Now, Mr. Speaker, politicians often talk in codes. I notice there are a lot of students up in the gallery here today and they might be very interested in knowing some of the codes that politicians sometimes use when they say one thing but they are really talking about something else. I want to say that, to me, the term - now, the Minister of Environment and Lands is very interested in this - that environmental industries, in the context of this particular issue, means garbage disposal, industrial waste management, taking garbage or industrial garbage from one place and bringing it to another. So a company that does that, they have all the buzzwords, they try to come up with words to describe their activities that sound good.

So, a garbage disposal company - first of all they were into garbage disposal, then they came into waste management, and now they have taken to calling themselves environmental industries. So `environmental industries' is just a code name for: What are we going to do with all this waste? What are we going to do with these industrial products that we can't get rid of? Where are we going to find a place that will take them because we don't want them ourselves?

Now, I hope the Minister of Environment and Lands is going to respond to this because we are talking about Baie Verte, which they suggested, once again, putting it into context, saying: `Well, we are only going to be bringing asbestos to Newfoundland and putting it back in the ground from whence other asbestos came.' When you find out what the project really is all about, the guidelines that they are talking about say, `a minimum of 1 per cent asbestos, and the other 99 per cent, well, we don't know what that is.' It is like the socks they used to sell at one time; you could buy a pair of socks, 100 per cent wool, and you could buy a cheaper one that said it was 99 per cent unknown fibre. That is what is being proposed for Baie Verte - we are going to have a garbage dump of 99 per cent unknowns and 1 per cent asbestos.

I think we have to put our collective foot down, Mr. Speaker, and say in this Province that we are not going to be a repository for the industrialized world's garbage, whether it be in the form of asbestos, whether it be in the form of unknown products, toxic substances, or whatever. Because once you let the door open there will be an awful lot of people pushing their way in to continue to use this Province as a haven for garbage that no one else will take.

I think we have to put a stop to it and we have to put a stop to it now. It requires some simple change in the legislation that will send a clear message that, yes, while this Province may well be open for business, we are not opening our doors to these so-called environmental industries to come here and to spoil our natural environment, and take advantage of the weak economic position some of our single-industry towns find themselves in. Because that is where these people prey - p-r-e-y, not p-r-a-y, as some of our church leaders encourage us to do - where they prey on weak economies and prey on communities, particularly, that have lost a single industry, such as the Baie Verte mine. I want to say I fully support the petition and encourage all hon. members to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further petitions?

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the rule for the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay is that speakers must be from each side of the House. You can't have three members speak from the same side of the House, except by leave, but there is no speaker on the government side.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. ROBERTS: We have no problem with allowing the hon. gentleman to speak; it affects his district. I would hope he will not go more than the five minutes allowed by the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, fine.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thought it would be proper that I get up at this time. I guess I was a little bit slow off the mark with the hon. the Member for St. John's East - but I would like to make a couple of comments on this, especially since it is my district. Over the last three to four months I have gone through a pretty gruelling process of listening to people in my district - a process of what I call consultation. During the summer months, I had the chance to go around and have constituency offices in most of the communities. A lot of people came in to speak to me, one on one, about some of their concerns with this project. Also, we had a task force which went out and held a public meeting in the community of Baie Verte for anybody on the peninsula to come and have their say and let us hear their views and concerns. I also had a collect number that they could call and share their views with me. Lastly, the most recent thing, I had a questionnaire distributed to all 2,600 homes in the district. Now those questionnaires are still coming in, although quite a number have come in already. After listening to all the views and all the concerns, I had to come out and oppose this project, as I have done recently in the media.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Now, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you this, it took a long time for me to come to that decision, because I had to listen to people who are closest to the project, the people who worked at that particular mine site and people in the area who are going to be most affected by it. I know it is the thing for the Province - some people talked about precedent-setting, but I was talking about the district, itself, and the people closest to it.

One of the major concerns, the most common concern that I received through telephone calls, through letters and so on, was the monitoring process. I have to say to this House today that that particular issue was the one that most concerned me from the very beginning. As a matter of fact, it has been stated in some of the local media, in the very early stages of this issue, that I was concerned - that was my own personal view, that I was concerned with the monitoring process, not so much as to how, the monitoring process was taking place, but by whom? Right now, in the proposal - if anybody has read the proposal, I am sure the minister has - there are three people, supposedly, on this monitoring system, one being from the company. Now, from watching the mine site in Baie Verte for the last few years, I can honestly say - and I am sure a lot of people will agree in the Baie Verte area - the monitoring that we do put in place does not serve a very good purpose. Now, I tell you that when the task force visited Baie Verte and went through the mine site, I think, to say the least, they were astounded by the mess that was left there by the former companies.

I would like to invite - while I am standing today - I know the minister has been out but I will now extend an invitation to the Premier of this Province and any of the Cabinet ministers - as a matter of fact, to all the Cabinet ministers, to come and visit the site. We hear about it in the media, we see pictures, but you cannot get an appreciation for the disaster at that Baie Verte mine site unless you visit it. I think the minister will agree with me, after seeing firsthand, there are no letters or words to describe what is out there. We are talking about a river of asbestos that is flowing there right as we speak. When you go down by the dockside, as the minister has seen, you can see asbestos actually flowing into the bay, in handfuls. When you go around the site, itself, there are mounds of garbage, I mean, Robin Hood Bay looks small next to it. We are talking about garbage that has been left there for twenty-odd years, piled up, with no care for where they were throwing the garbage. That is there, as the minister knows. There are also two large pits which are steadily filling with water from precipitation - snow, rainfall and what have you, and turning into lakes of asbestos. Now, without being an expert in science or biology, we can tell that in due time those pits will overflow and as the environmental cycle goes, the water will have to flow into the bay. Now, it is a very serious situation there in Baie Verte, and what I want to say today especially, is, I want the minister and the government to remember that although I oppose this project on the basis of the monitoring, I can tell you that the book is not closed on this particular issue.

The truth is, that the truth of the Baie Verte mine and the environmental disaster that is out there, is now coming to the forefront, and I plead, urge, whatever word I can use, to this government, to make sure that the Baie Verte mine site is not left alone and, `out of sight out of mind' as it has been for so many years; because I am sure that there is not a bigger environmental disaster on this Island, as there is now as it sits in Baie Verte. So, if this project - whatever happens in this decision in Cabinet soon -

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

MR. SHELLEY: I will just conclude by saying to you: don't forget that we do have an environmental disaster on the Baie Verte Peninsula. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in my place today to present a petition on behalf of 189 students from the Deer Lake Pentecostal School. They say, Mr. Speaker, in the prayer of their petition, that they feel it is wrong for government to decide to wipe out their denominational school system. This particular problem and fear of the Pentecostal people in Deer Lake, especially, and not only in Deer Lake, I would say, but around the Province by a lot of other groups, as well, have been expressed more so, Mr. Speaker, especially in the past couple of weeks, ever since the minister presented their plan for `Adjusting the Course' to the church leaders in the Province.

I have had quite a few calls concerning this particular problem. Just last week, I went out on Thursday and met with the student assembly at the Deer Lake Pentecostal School and let them ask questions of me. I wasn't there to tell them anything new, to tell them what government was going to do or what I was going to do, I let them ask questions of me. They were very, very constructive questions, very much responsible, from all grades in that particular assembly, and showed in a very responsible and constructive way how young people today can ask questions and look after their own concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I also told them that my position today is the same as it was before last spring's election and that was, that I was not going to stand for the taking away of a constitutional right for any group in the Province, whether it be a religious denomination or any other person or persons or organization in this Province that has that right. I gave it in writing last spring before the election when they asked me, and I say it today after the election. As far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, government is trying to do through the back door what they cannot, and don't have the guts to do through the front door.

If they are going to do away with the denominational system, be up front, bring in legislation and let's do it; if not, if the minister and the administration want to make some really hard core decisions pertaining to education in the Province and eliminate the church groups in doing so, then go another route. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, the people in my area, the Pentecostal people in my area, have shown through consensus how they would share services, and they do not mind sharing services. They paid for their own school in Deer Lake, they paid over $800,000 of their own money into their own school; they made an agreement last fall with the Integrated system to come in and share their new school that the department and the school board had recommended for the Sops Arm - Pollards Point area. They were going to close the school in Jackson's Arm, close out the one in Pollards Point, and the Pentecostal people came to an agreement to close out the one in Sops Arm and bring it all into one school in the Sops Arm - Pollards Point area. They were going to do it by agreement and consensus, and out of necessity. They recognized it and they were willing to participate and make some changes, so that says a lot for that particular organization.

I have another example in Deer Lake, that of the Xavier school, the R.C. people, and the integrated system coming together and sharing services and integrating both schools. The R.C. school, Xavier, takes students from Grades VII to IX, I think, now, and the other integrated school takes all the other students. And, out of necessity and out of the intent to share services, the whole district now, including outlying areas like Pasadena, have come together and done exactly what government is asking them to do in this particular report.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that all the ills and woes, and concerns, of under-achievement in the education field in this Province should be blamed on the denominational system. If, for instance, the whole package were put on the table, instead of just government putting on the table, Adjusting the Course, if, for instance, any plan changes to curriculum were put on the table, if, for instance, any other changes in the school system were put on the table in the same type of package, I think the people of this Province would have an easier time making up their minds.

I say to the minister today it is not the time for intransigence, it is not the time to bully -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WOODFORD: May I have a couple of seconds, Mr. Speaker?

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


MR. WOODFORD: I say it is not the time for strong-arm tactics, it is not the time to bully, and it is certainly not the time for government to straighten its back and be inflexible, but to be flexible and try to come to a consensual agreement with the leaders of the church groups in the Province today. If and when they meet on January 4th, the minister, through his efforts and the efforts of the people who work in his department, and the church leaders, I think they can come to a consensual agreement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in support of my colleague for Humber Valley, who introduced the petition on behalf of those school children. I believe in and support the system that I went through, and I don't like to see back-door methods put in place to take that away. I was reading, and I have here Term 17 of the Terms of Union, which should stay in place to support the text of the prayer that the children have put forward.

We have taken the position that government should not act unilaterally to change any of the constitutional rights that certain religions have in relation to the denominational schools. We have been consistent in what we have said. We said that we would respect all existing constitutional rights and would not try to change them without the consent of the people who hold those rights.

I support people and their rights. We have a respect for constitutional rights and the right of choice, but that does not mean there are no options for administrative and cost improvements to our systems. We are all interested in improvements. The Royal Commission, itself, made excellent proposals which could be implemented without taking away existing constitutional rights. In addition, there are opportunities for denominational schools to work out sharing and co-operative arrangements within constitutionally-protected jurisdictions. That is what I am for and I am for the text that was put in the prayer earlier for those children, because it is always the children - they are the ones who have to be protected, and what they want, and I don't want to see a system where one kid to another, one parent to another, one teacher to another, couldn't at least say `Merry Christmas' without denoting a religious connotation, because we know the system has gone so far in the United States where a minority can challenge and get their way, contrary to what the majority say. I would not want to see our little Island, or our Province, beleaguered with more problems than we already have.

I do not want to insult the man, but I just have to say it because it is the thing that was put on his plate and the thing that he had to do himself and deliver, but it is our present Minister of Education. He is not believed across the Province because of what happened in health. Sir, I am not saying that to deliberately insult you. I am just saying to you: That is the way it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, I am not doing anything deliberate, or undercutting anybody.

What I am saying, Sir, is that there are people who do not have the confidence that you are standing in their corner. Now if you would come out and show them you are standing in their corner, probably you would, but right at this moment, Sir, I want to be on record as supporting my friend from Humber Valley, and the others, who are caught on a hook in this Province by constitutional rights that were theirs long before there was a Department of Education in this Province. Long before they were put in schools, into the system, for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to learn and further themselves.

I support the prayer, and I support the classes of people, and I support their rights.

I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to get up today and speak to this petition which was so ably presented by the Member for Humber Valley. I have not seen the petition, so I only have to take it as hearsay for the time being, but I will see it in due course.

The member says that the students in the Deer Lake Pentecostal High School are asking government not to write off the denominational education system. The hon. member can go back to the people in Deer Lake and tell them that government accepts that recommendation, and that government has no intention of writing off the denominational education system.

Mr. Speaker, members opposite, for whatever reason I do not know, it is beyond me to understand it, or some members - I should not say all members - some members opposite are trying to pretend that government is talking about a public system of education. Nothing could be further from the truth. The document is quite clear. What we are talking about is an interdenominational system of education.

When I say `some' members opposite feel that way, I say that because I am not sure where the Opposition stands on this issue. I am not sure what their position is. I do know that at a public meeting last night, in this city, the Leader of the Opposition got up and said publicly, to a group of 500 or 600 people, that his party supports the status quo. His party does not want any reforms, does not want any changes.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. DECKER: However, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, on the other hand -

MR. SIMMS: Point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. minister knows he cannot mislead the House. He cannot tell lies; he cannot tell untruths, but he has just uttered a massive untruth. There was no suggestion last night that we did not support reforms to the system. That is untrue, and I ask the hon. minister to withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member and say that what the hon. Member for Grand Falls is saying is not entirely correct. He did, in effect, denounce his own Opposition critic in saying that he was the only one over there who did not.

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

MR. SIMMS: To the point of order, surely those kinds of comments cannot be accepted in the Parliament. They are not accurate. They are untrue, and it is a totally different comment from what the Minister of Education made. The Minister of Education said that I got up at a public meeting last night and said that we did not support reforms in education, and that is not true. In fact, I said that we did support reforms in education. So the minister should be aware of it, and he should not say it.

I can tell him this: That we do not support taking away the constitutional rights of the denominations in this Province. We do not support that. But the minister supports that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is an abuse by the Leader of the Opposition of the whole point of order matter. At best this is an example of a dispute between members as to what may or may not have occurred outside the House. The hon. Minister of Education is making a statement as to what he believes happened. The Leader of the Opposition apparently has a different recollection. I say to the Leader of the Opposition -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) he was there!

MR. ROBERTS: - that he has - he may have been there, Mr. Speaker, I wasn't, but the fact remains that his standing in this House and saying he did not say something last night does not prove he did not say that thing last night at all.

MR. TOBIN: This is not a court of law.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, no, this is not a court of law, this is a court of Parliament, the highest court in the land. Let me say to hon. members opposite that what they say in the House and what they say outside have got to be consistent. I would invite the Leader of the Opposition to say in the House what he did say outside, but not on a point of order, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I've probably heard enough at this point. The difficulty for the Chair is that what is being proposed as a point of order is what the hon. Leader of the Opposition said -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) came from that side you can't listen to, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I've heard from both sides. I have not ruled on the point of order.

Points of order relate only to matters that arise in the House. The House cannot say what the member said or didn't say outside the House -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

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

The Chair can't rule on what a minister or member said outside the House and whether or not it is consistent with what he said inside the House. I'm not in a position to judge whether or not what the Minister of Education said is correct or incorrect, and it may well be that the Leader of the Opposition is equally firm in his view and may indeed be correct. It is beyond my purview and is not a point of order because it is not something that occurred within the House or the committees of the House that are subject to record here.

I allow the Minister of Education to continue for what time remains.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The point I'm making is the Opposition is trying to make political hay out of this. We are concerned with reforming education in this Province within. We are trying to reform education so that our children can have a better crack at learning. Hon. members should know that the wealth of the future is not what lies in the iron ore mines up in Labrador City, the wealth is not the fish in the sea. The wealth of the future, Mr. Speaker, is what is between the ears of our children and we have to reform the education system to make sure that they get the best advantage.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for the answer to the petition has expired.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we were going to call the electoral boundaries act first but I gather members would prefer to address the -

MR. SIMMS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Sorry. If the Leader of the Opposition could contain his ill temper....

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm having trouble hearing the hon. the Government House Leader as to what the Orders of the Day will be.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I was going to say, what I was trying to say, is that we had originally planned to call the electoral boundaries bill. We will now ask instead that you call Order No. 8. May I say we will not ask the House to sit after 5:00 p.m., but I will say that members ought not to make any plans for the supper hour on Thursday.


MR. ROBERTS: That is not a threat, that is just simply a statement. Those of us who want to attend to the public business will be here on Thursday to deal with the public business. If hon. gentlemen opposite do not want to be here that is their concern, not ours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you would first call Bill No. 52, which is Order No. 8.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 8.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Election Act and The Elections Act, 1991". (Bill No. 52)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This bill is a relatively straightforward piece of legislation that seeks to amend both the old and the new elections act, if I may say so.

MR. TOBIN: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my friend for Burin - Placentia West. I find his comments so interesting that I want to hear them, which is why when he speaks -

MR. TOBIN: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I understand what the hon. gentleman was doing. I must say that I find his comments so interesting. What is it....

`The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.'

The hon. gentleman's comments are much like that.

Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the bill. The bill addresses, in respect of the two acts, one problem that arises, or can arise and has arisen in fact, in two separate contexts, and that is the question, Sir, of the award of costs in respect of legal proceedings arising from elections and election act matters.

Traditionally, Mr. Speaker, the parties who sought costs, and were awarded them, were awarded costs only against the adversaries in the scheme, which would normally be - in fact, which are always - the defeated candidates or those who seek, under the Elections Act, to set aside the outcome of an election.

I find the comments from my friends on this side every bit as interesting, and more important, than those of gentlemen opposite, so I have to stop and listen to them as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are more irritating.

MR. ROBERTS: No, they are not more irritating. They are far more entertaining, I would say. Now, let me carry on.

There are two separate -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman from Menihek has some trouble. Perhaps he needs to see a doctor. If so, I could recommend one to him.

Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the point. There are two separate situations where costs can be awarded. These are two types of proceedings that come up. The first is a recount.

In the case of the Torngat recount, the presiding judge, Mr. Justice Halley of the Supreme Court, after hearing argument from counsel, decided to award party and party and solicitor\client costs against the Chief Electoral Officer.

It is not for me to quarrel with Judge Halley's decision. He heard counsel. He made his decision and, in my opinion, his decision was certainly within the parameters of the power given to him, or any judge doing a recount, by the legislation. Therefore we made no appeal against it, but we do feel that a judge ought not to have that power, so one of the amendments to this act -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry? Let me finish the sentence and then I will... One of the amendments to this act would prevent, or take away, the power now vested in the judge conducting a recount to award costs.

The reason is very simple. The recount is done for the benefit of the parties and, in fact, it is so much for the benefit of the parties that the new act - the act adopted by the House a couple of years ago, which is partially in effect, which will be totally in effect as soon as we can put the administrative machinery into place - provides for an automatic recount if the margin of victory is ten votes or less. So if the Torngat situation had come forward this time, if the result in Torngat had been under the new act, there would have been an automatic recount. That is one reason.

The second is that the amounts are very substantial. The government has paid tax costs in the amount of $24,427.81 for the Torngat recount. That was to the lawyers who represented my friend from Torngat, and the two unsuccessful candidates, the lady who represented the NDP, and the lady who represented the PC party.

The lawyers, I would suggest, got a windfall out of this. I have done these recounts several times, acting for candidates - sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessful candidates. No lawyer doing this, I venture to say, expects to be paid. It is something one does for one's party.

I would venture to say that the lawyer for the NDP, in fact, in my recollection, said either to one of the other lawyers or to the court, that he or she - and I forget who it was; it does not matter - did not expect to be paid; was overwhelmed when the result of the judge's decision was that he or she was paid whatever the taxed costs were. I do not know what they were, but whatever they were they either were or will be paid shortly. In fact, the lady representing the NDP at the recount, I believe, has been on the phone to my officials looking for her money, and we will certainly get her a cheque - a former partner of my friend from St. John's East, I believe.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to him `rightly so' and I agree. Anybody who is a partner of the hon. gentleman from St. John's East needs all the help that he or she can get.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the first thing this bill would do is take away the power of a judge to make an award of costs in respect of a recount.

The second point this bill would make is to change the power with respect to the award of costs in a controverted election proceeding. Now my friend from Placentia has learned a great deal I suspect about the controverted election proceeding process. He may or may not have a happy outcome. I have no doubt there will be a by-election, his leader is going before as did John the Baptist in laying the ground by saying there will be no appeal but that is not for me to say. The judges, Mr. Justice Orsborn and Mr. Justice Green of the trial division, wrote a very learned and a very comprehensive decision that made absolute mince meat of the arguments put out by the counsel representing my friend from Placentia, who found in fact that the election ought to be set aside, a position that was supported by the counsel for the NDP candidate as well as the counsel for the Liberal candidate and so, subject to the judge's decision there will be another election.

Now my friend from Placentia has a number of days within which he can ask his counsel to appear before the court and the court will then deal with whatever comes forward so we will wait and see; but, Mr. Speaker, both or all three parties in that one, I am not sure, have, I am told, asked that the court order that the Chief Electoral Officer or the returning officer pay tax costs.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from St. John's East, says the point is reserved. I understand simply that the judges have said in their decision which I read yesterday, that parties may speak to costs but I understand parties have said they will seek costs; now I don't know, I am not there and I am not instructing counsel. The information that comes to me comes through the Chief Electoral Officer. My hon. friend was there, I hope he was there in his capacity as a lawyer but, if so, no doubt he was seeking costs as well, the widow's pence, as it were, the widow's mite.

This bill will restrict the power of the judges to make an award against either the Chief Electoral Officer or against the returning officer to very special situations; and I will give a paraphrase; they are found in section 2 and section 4 set them out in legal form: It will be possible henceforth to make an award of costs against electoral officials only if they have failed to comply with the Election Act in a manner that is unreasonable, or that indicates a lack of good faith on their part or an intention to affect the result of an election.

In other words, costs will not be awarded against officials where they have merely made an innocent mistake, something which will inevitably happen from time to time, and I suggest and I think my friend from Placentia would concur, that the mistake which it appears, which it appears, based on what we now know, which it appears was made in the election held on the 3rd of May, in the District of Placentia, was an innocent one. The deputy returning officers in those two booths - was it number eight and number nine?.... well, there were two booths where people were allowed to vote, it appears without having been sworn in - did not attempt to break the Election Act, in fact, my guess is they would be horrified or are horrified to realize that they did in fact break the Election Act if they allowed a person to vote who is neither sworn nor affirmed, nor on the list.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I say to my hon. friend from Grand Bank: sure, we know Bill Matthews and Ed Roberts, they live down here on Point Verde or wherever it is; we know they haven't voted, they are not on the list, the list is kind of old we will let them vote anyway, but the judges found that that is a violation of the act, and so, what flows will flow, but my friend from Grand Bank and I, I think are saying the same thing, we are of one mind in that this was an innocent mistake. Now the Elections Act is an extraordinarily technical document; the procedures are very complicated, the judges gave quite a good description of why we have these kinds of procedures in this Province and elsewhere throughout the country, but in any event, the point remains these are innocent mistakes and we are not, in our view, we are not of a mind or our position is, that the courts ought not to be able to make an award against the Chief Electoral Officer or against the returning officers in those situations. Now if the returning officer does something wrong in the sense of deliberately trying to affect the outcome of the election, that is a different matter, he or she will stand the penalty.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are also some very technical provisions which are found in section 5 of the bill. I have dealt with sections 1, 2, 3, and 4. Section 5 is the outgrowth of the fact that we have had to proclaim the Election Act, the new Election Act, in pieces, and these amendments are necessary to enable us to do as has been done to bring in the election financing provisions, which was done with the support of all three parties, all three of the registered parties in this Province, the NDP, the PC and the Liberal, and also to enable us to make sure that if there is a by-election in Placentia - there may or may not be. I am not attempting to pre-judge the result of the court proceeding, but at this stage one should assume there is a possibility. If there is a by-election in Placentia it could be carried out under the new act and with the appropriate financing provision in place. The House should note, Mr. Speaker, that section 5 of the bill is deemed to have come into effect on September 30, 1993. The other provisions of the bill, relating to costs, will be deemed to come into effect if and when they get Royal Assent.

MR. CAREEN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No. If there is a by-election in Placentia the government will pay - yes, I say to my friend, the government will pay the proper costs of the by-election, namely the returning officers, the enumeration and whatever else.

MR. SHELLEY: Posters?

MR. ROBERTS: Posters - my hon. friend from Baie Verte - White Bay should go back to his petitions. He was doing better there than he is doing in this debate.

We will pay the amounts that are properly to be paid under the new act which do include a reimbursement of expenses for a successful candidate or for one who gets 15 per cent of the total vote cast, that candidate qualifies for reimbursement. The limits will also be in effect -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I think if a candidate gets 15 per cent of the vote cast he or she will be able to claim reimbursement of 50 per cent of his or her expenses, up to the limits. If you spend less than the limit you only get 50 per cent of what you spend. The by-election in Placentia, Mr. Speaker, will be the first election in this Province to be fought under the new reformed rules. Contributions will be public, receiptable for tax credit, and expenditures will be disclosed and limited. So the new regime will be in effect and these amendments, I am told by the officials, are necessary to do that. You will note we are amending the new act to incorporate the definitions of the old act and that enables us to use the new act and apply it to an election which will still be conducted under the old act.

Now let me say one other word about that in case I haven't confused people sufficiently. Two parts of the old act are still in force; part one, which is the general group of sections that deal with elections and part two which is the controverted election section or series of provisions. As my friend from Placentia has learned perhaps to his joy, perhaps to his cost, these are still very much in effect. They have simply been reproduced in the new act anyway. The other part will stay in effect until two things happen, the administrative machinery is up and running for the new act. Hon. gentlemen opposite know as much as I do about that because the CEO is running all these things through the advisory committee that has been set up under the act. I understand that is working very well, the parties are pleased, the CEO is pleased and things seem to be moving along quite nicely.

Secondly, we have a policy issue that has not been discussed and certainly not been decided. A couple of years ago a special committee, headed by my friend for Eagle River - I am sorry not special, the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, dealt with this question of how we provide a means to vote so those people who cannot take advantage of either the advanced poll or the regular polls on voting day - the act provides for proxy ballots, I think, and the special committee suggested a mail in, a special ballot. In fact the Chief Electoral Officer, if memory serves me, is to be in Ottawa this week to speak with the Canada Elections officials. They used a mail in ballot in the last federal election and we want to take advantage of their experience to see what they can tell us. In due course, he will be back to the House, I assume, with some recommendations. The government has never made a substantive response to the committee led by the hon. gentleman from Eagle River.

MR. A. SNOW: It does not work, you should change it.

MR. ROBERTS: The gentleman from Menihek says that it does not work, he may be right. All I am saying is that we have not come to a judgement as yet. We have this problem on this side, we want to get all the evidence before we come to a judgement but the Chief Electoral Officer is looking into this, I know that he has discussed it with the advisory committee, there are no members of the House on the advisory committee by law -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That's good.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, it is good, I say to my friend from Grand Bank. Either he or I should be worried, Mr. Speaker, we are agreeing on several issues in here. There is something wrong somewhere.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, the bill will incorporate into the new act which is in effect, that part which is in effect, certain of the definitions of the old act so the by-election in Placentia will be carried out in accordance with the financing provisions of part three.

Mr. Speaker, with that said I move second reading of the bill.

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

MR. CAREEN: Mr. minister there are parts in this I have no sweat with but there are other parts I do just in case anybody gets caught on a hook like I do, this side or the other side. It does not make any difference to me as long as someone is getting caught on a hook not of their making. He mentioned Placentia and I am glad that he mentioned the two returning officers.


MR. CAREEN: The DROs are good people. They are honest, I would bet my life on it. But they were caught in a situation - and I ask the Minister of Justice because there is little that can be done about it now, you never cry over spilt milk but sometimes you cry over the jug. In Placentia, like any other district in this Province, a Reader's Direst version was done of the Election Act and put in every kit but someone overstepped their bounds and in that kit they put a piece about identification, which was ambiguous. I do not have a copy of it here today but during the arguments of the Supreme Court - my friend for St. John's East was there, my counsel and the other candidate's counsel, it was not admissible, that piece about identification, because the Election Act itself was being debated. Identification, where it said people could be vouched for, and these two very experienced ladies in running federal, provincial, and municipal elections, literally took what was before them, because there were eighty-four people who were not on the list and had to be added. Between the two of them they swore in twenty-nine and fifty-five they believed did not have to be sworn in. That is the hook and that happened to me and it could happen to somebody else some time or other. I believe it is only babes who cry.

AN HON. MEMBER: It happened to all three candidates.

MR. CAREEN: What they are saying is that there are fifty-five. Courts cannot ask people how they vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. CAREEN: I know, but it happened. I am just trying to make it clear that whoever is on the hook, that is where I come from, whoever is on the hook. This bill should reflect in the future that a special nod should be given to someone who is on the hook and that payments they are asking for, court bills, should be borne by the body responsible and we have to answer to the House of Assembly. It is no good throwing your body on the mercy of the court if they are restricted in what they do.

I believe in the judicial system and I believe in certain cases, in lots of cases, they should be left alone to their own good judgement because if we do not believe in that tenet of our system we are letting all other things out as well. The minister said it was a straightforward bill and parts of it are straightforward and others are just straightforward if you are independently wealthy, but for us poor Joes who have trouble, and we are in the majority, that could not afford it would not be able to bring it forward. I ask that those be protected under the laws of this Province and the Election Act and the amendments that are being talked about here today. Without any further ado I just confine my remarks to what I said earlier, that our system in protecting the other guy, that anybody caught on a hook should always be able to get the chance to prove it, to show it, and those costs should be borne by our society.

While it is not right to do here, like in a boxing ring the person defeated by the champ always get a chance to go back at the champ, and I would like no other choice but to have a go at the same candidate I had on May 3. God bless and thank you.

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm rising to speak on parts of this bill. I have to say that before I open my mouth because I want to let hon. members know that a review of section 21 of An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Act, that legislation prevents, and says that: "A member shall not make or participate in making a decision in his or her capacity as a member where the member knows or ought reasonably to know that in the making of the decision there is the opportunity to further, directly or indirectly, a private interest of the member or the member's family."

The reason I quote that is because I believe that participating in making a decision is also speaking to a piece of legislation one way or the other, not just not voting, so I won't refer in my remarks to any part of the bill that is under clause 4 -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) section 5, Jack.

MR. HARRIS: No, section 4, I believe. Clause 4 of the bill, which deals with costs of an application under the controverted elections. That I won't speak to, because there is an ongoing case before the courts right now still having to do with the Placentia by-election, in which I participated as legal counsel for the NDP candidate, Lena Hickey. I made arguments in court, the same arguments, or to similar effect, as that made by counsel for the defeated candidate, Bill Hogan, which arguments resulted in the decision to set aside the election unless evidence can be shown that these fifty-five people whose oaths were not included in the ballot box were in fact sworn in, or sufficient numbers of them were sworn in, to meet the twenty-one difference between the winner and the second-place candidate.

So I won't speak to that because in the ongoing case there may be opportunities for applications to be made with respect to cost, and those applications may be with respect to costs against the Chief Electoral Officer or indirectly the Crown. So I won't speak to that because that may have an indirect or direct benefit to me personally.

I will talk about the previous section. It has to do with another application, the Torngat Mountains application, which was taken as part of a recount. I would say that what the Minister of Justice has said is correct. I took part in that decision as well, although I didn't argue the matter in court. The matter is past and over with and this legislation has no effect on it, although for some curious reason it is stated to come into force on September 30, 1993.

MR. ROBERTS: No, no, it is only section 5 (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Only section 5? Okay. I stand corrected by the minister on that.

I think that the amendment is proper. I think most lawyers who get asked to do this kind of work in a recount in particular do so without the expectation of being paid, or at least they find themselves surprised if they are paid. That is probably true in this case as well on behalf of all counsel who were there. The opportunity arose for counsel to make application and the judge, in this unusual case - and it was an unusual case, because the reason that the - there may have been a recount anyway - but the reason in this case that the recount was called was because the Chief Electoral Officer in fact declared the person elected who has -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) the returning officer (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The returning officer. But I think there was a press release issued by the Chief Electoral Officer as well stating that the person who had received -

MR. ROBERTS: A press release is not a declaration (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The press release stated that the person elected was the person who in fact received fewer votes prior to the recount. So in those unusual circumstances, and I think it is not something that is going to happen very often, if ever again, the court awarded costs against the Chief Electoral Officer.

I think it is probably fair to say and suggest that the recount situation, which is essentially recounting the ballots, and not a lot of legal arguments, although clever lawyers can always argue something about whether a particular mark is or is not one thing or another, and sometimes these can -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) pretty well overcome all that (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: They can go on for a lengthy period of time. I think it is fair that each party or each individual represented at a recount should bear their own costs. I can't comment on the other aspect of it. I would ask the minister if he could in his closing remarks advise as to what he thinks the legal effect is of changing a repealed act. Section 1 of the act here repeals a section of a repealed act and substitutes another section for it.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes. I refer the minister to the new act, and that is the elections act, 1991. In that act, by virtue of the particular section which I will quote to him now in a second.... Section 338 repeals the 1990 act. Now, it may be that that part is not in force.

MR. ROBERTS: That section has been proclaimed because there are still parts of the 1990 act, which I would call the old act, (inaudible), there are still parts (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That being the case then there is not a current problem with it. I do say, though, to anybody who has attempted to try to figure out what the elections act is during the last two and half years has had great difficulty. The Chief Electoral Officer very kindly during the election did a compilation of the various bits and pieces and did a consolidation that was available and useful during the election period. I guess he is going to have to do another one and issue updates from time to time as various bits and pieces come into force. That question occurred to me in reviewing the legislation here.

While I am speaking about the Elections Act I will say that I was concerned, and expressed my concern publicly, ultimately, about the failure to bring the Chief Electoral Officer under the aegis of this House, which I understood was to have been done last March prior to the election. It in fact was put off by the government with no real explanation ever having been given. I don't know if any real explanation has ever been given other than: we decided to wait. Perhaps the minister in speaking to this can deal with that.

Because it did give rise to some certain perceived conflicts of interest. They may be regarded as hypothetical conflicts of interest but I know that, for a long period of time, the Chief Electoral Officer was reporting on a day to day basis to the Minister of Justice; at the same time, under the act, was supposed to be responsible to this House, was also the commissioner of members' interest and was passing judgement on the activities of Cabinet ministers, including that of the Minister of Justice, was making exemptions under the act, or making determinations under the act, that relate to his activity.

Now I have, and I have said this on a number of occasions but I want to, while I'm saying it again, I want to add that I have absolutely no lack of confidence in the individual, Mr. Wayne Mitchell, who acts as Chief Electoral Officer and commissioner of members' interest. It is because of that that I was concerned about him being put in a situation where he could be perceived to be in a conflict of interest by the fact that a particular section of the act, section 3 I believe it is, had not been proclaimed by the Government.

I have not really received a proper explanation for that, and perhaps the minister, in concluding remarks on the bill, would provide us with an explanation as to why it took so long to proclaim that particular part of the legislation. The House had agreed, and all parties in the House had agreed, to Mr. Mitchell as having been appointed to the position of Chief Electoral Officer. He was, under the act, to report to the House, and it took some ten months or more - perhaps eleven months - for that to take place. So perhaps the minister can explain that in his concluding remarks on this bill at second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the minister speaks now he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, I thank members opposite for their contribution, and I will make just a couple of comments in response. Let me first of all deal with the point raised by my friend from St. John's East - my hon. and learned friend, to be precise.

As of January 1, the Chief Electoral Officer will report administratively to the Internal Economy Commission and, through it to the House of Assembly. The Premier made a statement about that a week or two ago - whenever.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, to the House of Assembly the Speaker is the embodiment of the House of Assembly, but at the end of the day the Speaker - as chair after chair have said - only voices the wishes, has no voice other than the House.

MR. HARRIS: Answers to the House through the Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: The House, through the Speaker, alright, but the Internal Economy Commission is the body that will exercise the control.

Mr. Speaker, there was no more mysterious course of events than the one I am about to relate. When we prepared the estimates, printed estimates were brought into the House last March, whenever, before the general election, the Chief Electoral Officer's vote will be found in the House of Assembly Head, but about the middle of March, when it became obvious that we would be having a general election in the very near future - now if the hon. gentleman does not want the answer, I will not bother.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry. One of the hon. gentleman's colleagues was speaking to him. I did not know the hon. gentleman was not listening.

About the middle of March it became obvious that there was going to be a general election sooner rather than later, so in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer the Cabinet adopted an order that changed things back so that administratively the control remained with my officials and with me. Now the CEO was quite happy with that. I accepted responsibility. The Cabinet passed the necessary order, and that was that. There was no more mystery to it than that.

The Chief Electoral Officer had a great deal on his plate and I think it should be said here, and I suspect I speak for every member of the House, and indeed every candidate in the election, that Mr. Mitchell and his crew - the men and women who work with him, his associates - did an absolutely magnificent job in running an election in late winter, or early spring - it was late winter in the north when I was campaigning - and using a very old and very inadequate voters' list. They did an absolutely superb job, and I think the people of Newfoundland and Labrador owe them a vote of confidence and a vote of gratitude.

That is the explanation. It is no more mysterious than that. My hon. friend can make political hay over perceptions if he wishes. I can only say that I disagree with him, but the fact remains we have solved the problem by implementing the policy which we had adopted in the first instance.

The only point I need to make in response to my friend from Placentia is that I have no knowledge of what was in any kit distributed by an election official or by the CEO himself. If I know the CEO - and I think I know the gentleman fairly well; we worked closely together for a year and a bit now - he made every effort to ensure that any literature he distributed was complete and accurate and easy to comprehend. I cannot say anything more than that. In any event, literature does not supersede the act, and experienced election officials, I would assume, will realize that the only way one can vote in this Province is either to be on the list or to be sworn or affirmed. There is no other way that one is eligible to vote, and that is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. My friend from St. John's East says that everybody else got it right. I accept the mistake was innocent. There were no police investigations. There were no charges laid - just an innocent mistake, difficult to understand, but nonetheless an innocent mistake and we accept it as such; but let it be recorded - and the judges in the controverted election petition, Judge Green and Judge Orsborn, did a magnificent dissertation on why it is appropriate and necessary - and I think anybody who has read the decision will concur - that in addition to being qualified to vote, one must be entitled to vote, and the only way one can be entitled to vote is either to be on the list or to take an oath or affirmation in accordance with the act. Now, I can assure the House that assuming there is to be a by-election in Placentia, there will be a new enumeration. I have been in touch with the CEO and -

AN HON. MEMBER: There will be an enumeration?

MR. ROBERTS: There will be an enumeration. We would have done it last year for the general election except that it just was not possible within the time frame, and the act has been amended to allow us to do an enumeration in simply one district, so there will be an enumeration in the District of Placentia on the assumption there will be a by-election and I think it is a safe assumption from what I gather from press comments that there will be a by-election.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well my friend from Grand Falls is having trouble being misinterpreted. All I will say is what will count will be when a certificate reaches the Speaker. If there is no certificate, there will be no by-election, but there will be an enumeration; I think we will do that, the only question will be the timing; we may wait until the certificate has actually reached the Speaker or not.

I think that disposes of the points -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The enumeration takes, I think, thirty days. In fact I had a note here from the CEO that he anticipates that it will take thirty days; I may be wrong on that but I think that is what he said. Anyway, it will be done fairly quickly. The new members should remember too, in case they have forgotten, the new by-election will be the first instance of the fact this government has given up a power that governments had traditionally taken and used for partisan purposes namely, the timing of the by-election; the by-election will be held within ninety days of the certificate reaching the Chair. It will be called within sixty days, it will be held within thirty days of the call.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: Sixty days of the certificate reaching the Chair.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, no, no, called within sixty days and the voting must be within thirty days of the call, so it must be held within ninety days in total, but the call must be made in sixty days.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) ninety days or the call (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The Clerk I think confirms that I have in fact got it right. So anyway, this is the first instance of the - the fact this government don't want to play games with by-elections. The Premier had an experience in Windsor - Buchans, which I think soured him, yes, a very happy electoral experience but the government of the day deliberately tried to prevent the people from Windsor - Buchans from voicing their views as to who was to speak for them in the House, at any rate, there is no harm done. If the gentleman from Placentia does not succeed in discharging the burden imposed upon him by the court, then there will be a by-election that will be called within the prescribed time period.

I thank the members for their attention and move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Election Act And The Elections Act, 1991." (Bill No. 52), read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough please to call Bill No. 48, which is Order No. 7, which is the Electoral Boundaries bill.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act." (Bill No. 48).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, hon. members Opposite are kind enough to call this the Ed Roberts act; I don't know whether they mean that as praise although I somehow doubt it, but I will say that together with a number of other members of the Cabinet, I have spent a great deal of time on this matter because we believe it is of utmost importance and that is why we are here in the House today.

Mr. Speaker, the present Electoral Boundaries Act was adopted originally in 1973. I suspect I am the only member of the House - am I the only one left who was here in '73?


MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman was in kindergarten and so was I, the difference was, I graduated.

Mr. Speaker, I was going to say my friend from Kilbride is the only one on the other side who may someday be able to stand and say: am I the only one who was here in '93, but it is interesting that out of the fifty-two members of the House, fifty-one have come and gone since 1973. I am not sure what it means but it is certainly interesting.

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible) to '75.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from Windsor - Buchans came into the House in '75, the gentleman from Mount Pearl came to the House in '75, my friend from Terra Nova came into the House in '75 and the three on this side have had interrupted service, the gentleman from Mount Pearl has had continuous service, and I have to tell you, and he would be the first to agree, he shows the signs of it. It just goes to show how time passes when one is having fun, Mr. Speaker.

In any event, the act was initially adopted in 1973. There have been two redistributions conducted under it: the one under which the 1975 election was held, and the one under which the 1985 and 1989 and subsequent elections were held. The third redistribution process began last May or June when Your Honour named the members of the Commission. It was conducted under the original act with some amendments that were adopted by the House in December of 1992. I will come back to those amendments in a moment or two.

The House will recall that the Commission is made up of five members. Mr. Justice Mahoney, himself a former member of the House, sitting for the then dual District of Harbour Main, is the Chair, and he is appointed by the Chief Justice of Newfoundland, Chief Justice Goodridge. So Judge Mahoney chairs the Commission. Interestingly enough, he was originally asked to chair the federal commission, but since he has taken on this one Mr. Justice Marshall of the Court of Appeal, no stranger to this House, no stranger to many of us, has been appointed to chair that commission.

The other members are Ray Baird, Dorothy Inglis, John Nolan and Beatrice Watts. Two of them have sat in the House. Mr Baird sat for the Humber West District from 1979, 1982 and 1985, and resigned in 1989 when the present Member for Humber West was fist elected. Mr. Nolan sat in 1966 and came close on a couple of occasions after that. He was re-elected in 1975 and sat in the House as the first Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) district (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, he represented St. John's South. It was a very different district than my friend represents. It included Petty Harbour, the Goulds and Kilbride in those days. The House was only forty-two back in 1966. I remember it well. Because that is when I came into the House. So did the hon. member's father.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Commission produced its draft report in August. I think it was August 27, from memory. Let me say a word or two about the draft report. The process set out in the act does not envisage the draft report but all three of the commissions - the one by Mr. Justice Higgins in the first instance, the one by Mr. Justice Bartlett in the mid-eighties, and the one now by Mr. Justice Mahoney - have adopted this process in my view very wisely.

What the Commission does is produce a draft report, puts it in the newspapers, sends it out around the Province, and then holds a series of hearings. Any who wish to be heard come forward and are heard. The Commission then produces its final report, which is the only one referred to in the act. That report then comes forward to the House of Assembly and is tabled. The matter rests there until and unless legislation is brought forward.

When my colleagues and I saw the report and had a chance to look at it and assess it and discuss it, we came to two conclusions. The first is, and I want this to be heard very clearly and without any question of doubt, the first is the Commission chaired by Judge Mahoney have done their job superbly, squarely and fairly. The report that they prepared was in accordance with the legislative directions. That was the first conclusion that we came to. The Commission have done their job superbly and they have done it fairly and squarely within the directions of this Legislature. Secondly, we came to the conclusion that the legislative directions were wrong and were imprecise. That is what brings us back here today.

The Premier and I spoke for the government in the debate on second reading of the bill in December 1992. Other members spoke, but I don't think any other member of the Ministry spoke. The two of us spoke. I won't go through our speeches. I will say to hon. members that having re-read them recently the principles that are in this new bill were set out very clearly and with precision in those speeches. The principal position - that is, p-r-i-n-c-i-p-a-l, the principal principle is one person, one vote. Both the Premier and I said then and I say again now that the principle upon which redistribution should be carried out is that the vote of any Labradorian or any Newfoundlander should be worth no more and no less than the vote of any other Newfoundlander or any other Labradorian. There are some exceptions to that which I will deal with but, as a principle, that is it, and if one lives in Corner Brook, or Burgeo, or Gander, or St. John's, or Happy Valley-Goose Bay, or Western Labrador, a vote is a vote, is a vote. We speak here in this House for women and for men, for people, for electors, not for acres, and not for miles, or kilometres.

The act, as I said, did not set that out clearly; therefore, we brought in this bill. Now, Mr. Speaker, there are two changes, one growing out of the changes made last December and the other growing out of a section which has not been amended since 1973. Last December, we asked the House, and the House agreed, to provide that the report could recommend between forty and forty-six seats in the House. We did not foresee, and for this we acknowledge the responsibility and accept whatever censure may follow, that the commission would start at forty and work up if necessary. They did not work up. They started at forty and they ended at forty.

The new bill, in section 1, which will amend section 13 - in fact, it will replace section 13 of the act in its entirety, directs the commission very clearly to begin at forty-six, to divide the House into forty-six one-member districts. It will then take off one, representing the Northern Labrador seat, which I will call Torngat for the sake of convenience, and arrive at a quotient; members will be interested to know that the quotient will be 12,548. That is simply a matter of subtracting Torngat and dividing forty-five into the resulting number, subtracting Torngat from the population of the Province in the last census. That provision, Mr. Speaker, reflects the principle, and this House determines the number of seats. We will determine, as a House, when the time comes, whether the commission's report should be adopted, but it is this House that sets the number of seats, not a commission. We have, however, in subsection (3) of section 13, given the commission a power, should they deem it necessary - to more easily apply the rules contained in section 15, we give them the power to recommend a smaller House of forty-four, forty-two, or forty. We want them to start at forty-six, we direct them to start at forty-six, but if they say we can't do it within the rules, or to put it more easily, to use the verb we use, more easily within the rules, we can go down to forty-four, forty-two, or even forty.

Mr. Speaker, the other change in this bill is a complete revision of section 15. I won't attempt to compare it to the old one, except to tell members that the old one has been set aside and a new one put in place in its entirety. I will go through this briefly to outline the principles in it, because these are the principles which govern the exercise by the commission of their discretion in dividing the Province into the proposed number of seats. First, and very clearly: they shall give primacy to the principle that the vote of every elector shall have a weight equal to that of every other elector, one person, one vote. There it is, as clearly as the drafters could put it in. Then we go on, acknowledging that this is not a mathematical exercise, we give them the right to go plus or minus 10 per cent. Now, using the quotient that I used that would allow seats which would range from a low of 11,293 people to 13,803 people - that is the 10 per cent plus or minus figure, using a quotient of 12,548.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman's seat would have to be 13,803 - that is the maximum, with the exceptions I will come to. Now, Mr. Speaker, we looked long and hard at what number we should have; 25 per cent was the one in the original legislation but it produced - the commission had every right to do it - it produced seats in the suggested redistribution which ranged very widely, too far a range. Hon. members may or may not agree, but in our judgement, the range was far too large. You have to take a number somewhere.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman for Burin - Placentia West - I haven't done the numbers for his area, but there is one exception which may also address a concern he has raised.

In any event, we looked at 10 per cent. Most provinces have 25 per cent but Manitoba has now gone to 10 per cent and Saskatchewan has gone to 5 per cent. The new bill in Saskatchewan, which is now law, is 5 per cent, except for two northern seats which are in the far northern part of Saskatchewan. Then we go on to say, Mr. Speaker, that notwithstanding the `one person, one vote' and the plus or minus 10 per cent tolerance rules, there are two situations where the commission, if they conclude that the departure is warranted by special geographic considerations, may go to the 25 per cent rule and that allows quite a wide range of seats - again, using the same quotient figure, ranges from 9,411 to 15,685 - quite a wide range of seats, a wide range of population.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. And the two factors are, number one, the community of interest in two specific areas of the Province; communities along the Coast of Labrador, where there are no roads and communities along the Southwest Coast of the Island, where there are no roads.

MR. TOBIN: South or Southwest?

MR. ROBERTS: I say Southwest Coast where there are no roads. There are no communities left on the South Coast without roads, are there? Not on the Burin Peninsula?



MR. TOBIN: South East Bight.

MR. ROBERTS: South East Bight. How big is the community?

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Forty-five, fifty-five - well, it will be caught by the second exception which is the accessibility of a region or its size or shape. So that is a factor which the commission - accessibility is something they can take into account and that is designed to address the single community that is isolated, i.e. no roads. Harbour Deep, for example, on the Northern Peninsula, South East Bight, that my hon. friend speaks of. There may be others around the Province, although none spring to mine.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well - no, we would say Southwest Coast but we allow accessibility, as well, although we don't define - up in Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir there are a number of communities that have no roads and will not have one in the foreseeable future. Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir and the Southwest Coast - now, I have always understood - I don't know if it is a matter of judicial interpretation or legal ruling, Cape la Hune is the dividing point between the South Coast and the Southwest Coast. I don't know if my friend would agree, but that is what I have always taken.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Jack Cheeseman taught me that first.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I don't think so, but if the hon. gentleman wants to -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) Fortune - Hermitage (inaudible) district would stay basically the same, which would give both of us somewhere in excess of 14,000.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the commission - given the accessibility of a region, or its size or shape, can go to the 25 per cent factor. Now, I would say, the other kind of situation we had in mind of using accessibility, is precisely the problem the commission ran into with the proposed Fortune - Hermitage district where they had Grand Le Pierre and English Harbour East, these two communities were part of the new Fortune - Hermitage district that they proposed, even though to get there one had to go by road up to Bishop's - I agree with my hon. friend, it made no sense at all. So we are allowing them to go into the 25 per cent rule on an accessibility. Now, that is the provision.

The other exception, Mr. Speaker, is the one that the House earlier accepted, which we again would put forward and support, and that is the area that we call Torngat but is Northern Labrador, we described it, that lies generally north of Lake Melville - and that is fitting and due recognition of the fact that in those areas a majority of the people are aboriginal. There are about 75 per cent or 80 per cent - I don't see my friend from Torngat in the House at the moment - but about 75 per cent or 80 per cent of the people there are aboriginal, and we think that is an exception that we would commend to the House.

The other point in section 15, Mr. Speaker, is - members may wonder why these are in here; strange things happen - in section 15(1) we spoke of electors, but there is no record of a number of electors. The voters list is hardly an accurate record of the number of electors. We all know how inaccurate even a new voters list can be. The only specific data that we have is census. So subsection (5) says simply that: For the purpose of section 15, for preparing the report, "the commission shall assume that the proportion of electors to the general population is constant throughout the province."

I am told by the economic geographers that, in fact, it is not constant, that in some areas there is a much higher proportion of older people than in other areas. But the commission - there is no other way to go at it realistically, except to say that Fogo district and Kilbride district will be taken to have the same proportion of electors to population. The commission, in giving primacy to the `one person, one vote' principle, one elector, one vote, will obviously look only at census figures, and I suggest there is no other way to do that. So that is what we have brought forward.

Mr. Speaker, two other minor changes, which are minor: the first is a change in the reporting date. It is now the end of this year. The commission has asked us - I have had a letter from Judge Mahoney, asking to be extended to the end of June. We have done that. They must now report not later than July 1, 1994. I cannot give members an assurance there will be no general election before then, but I think one can accept that there is unlikely to be, and -

MR. SHELLEY: There should be.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Baie Verte - White Bay says there should be, but there won't be, because we enjoy having him in the House, and he won't be here after the election.

Secondly, I say, Mr, Speaker, I heard the same comments a year ago from the gentleman from (inaudible), and other people. The same comment exactly. The only difference was, my friend for Menihek than sat exactly where my friend for Baie Verte - White Bay sat, but now my friend for Menihek has come up in the world. My friend for Menihek has moved forward and been lowered, not elevated, because the front bench in this House is lower than the back bench, and my colleagues on the back bench would agree with that enthusiastically.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that leaves, finally, section 4 of the new bill. This was put in at the request of the commission. It simply makes less onerous the requirements of the publication - I don't have the present ones here, but these, I'm told, by commission counsel are reasonable, as opposed to the present ones which have proven to be onerous, difficult and expensive.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the bill is a clear statement of principles which we believe makes proper allocations for the necessary deviations from the principle. I put it forward then with confidence and would ask that the House endorse it. I move second reading.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are two members there who will be in the House after the next election, I say to the House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: The number two is a familiar one with my hon. friend's party these days.

MR. SIMMS: Number two - oh, you mean the federal party. We are a separate party from the federal party.

MR. ROBERTS: What used to be my hon. friend's friends, but aren't anymore.

MR. SIMMS: Oh no, they are still friends. We have seen through the cycle of politics that things can change fairly rapidly.

MR. ROBERTS: When I came to the House there were three Opposition members over there -

MR. SIMMS: Exactly.

MR. ROBERTS: - and in the next election there were somewhere (inaudible) twenty to twenty-one.

MR. SIMMS: Yes. That is when you came to the House the first time.


MR. SIMMS: Right on. Anyway, I don't want the House Leader to be interrupting me and throwing me off and changing my train of thought. I want to talk about this issue.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) and I will say nothing, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Well, that would be an improvement. Actually, it is fairly similar to what he says most of the time. I say that in jest, of course.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments about this piece of legislation, because you know, it is really, really interesting what has transpired here over the last few months. This is really, really interesting.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good point.

MR. SIMMS: Members opposite - wait until I make the point first!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: I think he is going to make some good points.

MR. ROBERTS: He has a mind of his own. He agrees with (inaudible) the hon. gentleman.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has read the script.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, members opposite know to what I am referring, of course, when I say there is something rotten in the state of Denmark here when we talk about this particular change, when you consider that what has really occurred here is an attempt by the Ministry to respond to the revolt in the caucus of the Liberal Party and the government members opposite. That is what has transpired here in all of this, as Your Honour well knows but cannot say, of course. Everything I am saying, he agrees with.

I can see the Member for Eagle River up pounding on the Premier's door, down pounding on the Minister of Justice's door, the Minister of Finance's door. Any door that he can get to, the Member for Eagle River would have been up pounding on the door saying: `My heavens, what have you got done here? What is going on? We have to change all of this.' Now that is only the Member for Eagle River. Let me also suggest there are other members over there who have been knocking on the Premier's door and the minister's door.

I would say, just off the top of my head, maybe a couple of St. John's members might have been expressing some concern about what might be happening with this new electoral boundaries change that the commission was recommending. The Member for Terra Nova, I suspect, has been knocking on the Premier's door.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: If she is not gone now, she will be gone in the next election, I say to the Member for Fogo. The Member for Terra Nova will have a lot of concerns.

The Member for Windsor - Buchans didn't have to go far to knock on the Premier's door because, of course, he is `bum to bum and cheek to cheek' with the Premier on just about every issue in this Province, and the Premier consults the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture regularly on all of these major, major issues. So the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture was within earshot of the Premier when he heard what was being recommended by this new commission, and he rushed up to the Premier and said: `Premier, Premier, we can't win this new seat in Grand Falls - Windsor. We can't win that. There is no way we can win that new seat in Grand Falls - Windsor unless, Premier, we put Buchans and Badger in with that whole seat of Grand Falls - Windsor. Then we might have a chance, especially if Simms runs there, in Grand Falls - Windsor.' So that is the kind of thing that has been happening.

Now, of course, the minister couldn't go to the commission and make that point so, lo and behold, when I went there to make my representation, who was standing behind me, waiting to be next, but the minister's executive assistant. The minister's executive assistant came in and made a presentation to the commission, and he made the point to the commission that really what we should do here is take Badger and Buchans and everything, and move it into that new Grand Falls - Windsor seat because we think that makes a lot more sense geographically and all the rest of it, even though the numbers would go up to about 20,000 and would be contrary to the act and the law recommended and brought in by his own government.

Now, there is another minister over there who took a similar approach in making representations to the commission. He wouldn't make the representation himself because we were led to believe, the House, that ministers wouldn't make representations to the commission it had appointed, but I suppose what we do is get somebody to go in and make the representations for us.

I noticed early on in the game, in fact, I expressed some surprise at it publicly. I am sure the minister saw the text of my remarks, or what the quote was, when I heard that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation sent his executive assistant to the commission to express concerns that he had.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what you have to do is just put your mind around all of this and realize how this is all coming around. The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture didn't go. His executive assistant made representations. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation didn't go, but his executive assistant went. We hear the Member for Eagle River blah-blahing every day about how this is unfair and all of that stuff, to the people of Labrador and to his people, in particular, in Eagle River, `because they are going to eliminate my seat'. You hear the Member for Terra Nova. How many others over there, I wonder, did I hear? I am not sure what the Member for St. John's South said. Did he have any - what?

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I say to the Member for St. John's South, I have an hour. When I am finished my hour, the hon. member can get up and speak. How is that? Unless he wants to be friendly and just tell me, did he say anything publicly?

MR. MURPHY: Yes, I did. I went down and (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes he did. Very good.

Now I know another member over on that side who has expressed major, major concerns and reservations about this and that is the Member for Lewisporte. Now, Mr. Speaker, why would the Member for Lewisporte express any reservations about this?


MR. SIMMS: Why? Because his seat is going to be eliminated, that is why, Mr. Speaker, and his seat will be taken over by the powerful Deputy Premier of the Province, the powerful Minister of Finance, and of course, the Member for Lewisporte is not too happy about that. Now, then we move back down to the Bay, Conception Bay, I forgot to mention, concerns expressed publicly by the Member for Harbour Grace and the Member for Carbonear, the minister, the minister.

Now the first comment I heard from the Member for Harbour Grace I think was carried in the press almost the same day when this came out, was: I support the idea of reducing the number of seats, it is a great idea, a wonderful thing this government is doing; and about two days later he says: Oh, I am not so sure this is such a good idea now, I am going to lose my seat here, what am I saying? So, Mr. Speaker, what you see occurring, what has occurred over the last several months since this commission was appointed in August, is a big swarm of people running up to the Premier's office, pleading with the Premier, down on their knees: Premier, we have to find a way out of this because we are in deep trouble, we are going to lose out seats; we are going to lose our seats. This is some stupid thing we are after doing here, Premier, and so, Mr. Speaker, what did they do?

Well, they appointed the commission, the commission holds a press conference in August, they allow the commission to have three months of public hearings going around the Province, I think, at a cost of $200,000 I believe I heard the commission chairman say, $200,000 to hold forty public hearings all over the Province, everywhere, and that is August, September, October, hundreds of thousands, hundreds and hundreds of thousands, so in August, September, October, three months go by, November, almost four months later, three-and-a-half months later, following a statement in the House by the Minister of Justice in Hansard, March 30, page 569, when he said: I welcome the Member for Menihek making remarks in the House and comments - The Minister of Justice said: I welcome interjections from the Member for Menihek, I welcome him making those comments. He should also make representations to the commission, said the Minister of Justice to the Member for Menihek, because I cannot do so as a minister of the Crown, that is what the Minister of Justice said on March 30th. He says I welcome him, referring to the Member for Menihek, who was commenting when he was speaking in the debate on March 30th on the original act.

The Minister of Justice says I welcome him making them - that is comments across the House - he should also make representations to the commission. I cannot do so as a minister of the Crown, page 569, the minister knows full well, I am sure the minister remembers what he said.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: That is true, that is why I know he would remember. So, Mr. Speaker, you can imagine our surprise when, after three months or nearly four months, August, September, October, November, this commission, travelling all over the Province, forty public hearings, $200,000 or whatever the cost was or is, we don't know that for certain, that is only what we understand to be the budget, and after realizing the minister said he could not make representation to the commission, you can imagine the surprise when I heard that the Minister of Justice drove all the way out beyond the overpass to Clarenville to make a presentation to the Electoral Boundaries Commission, and that was on the 8th of November.

Now, remember what I said, the background to it is, all these members from Lewisporte and Eagle River and Terra Nova and Harbour Grace and Carbonear and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, all these people making representations to the Premier about: we have to find a way out of this. Well, Mr. Speaker, guess how they got their way out of it? They said: oh, the Minister of Justice says in Clarenville, on November 8th: Oops, oops we made a tiny mistake, we don't think the people who drafted the law really understood what we were trying to say back in March. So what we would like the commission to do is get away from this idea of reducing the number of seats to forty. Get away from that idea. Bring it up a bit to forty-four. Bring it up to forty-six, something like that, because that will help us save the hide of a number of our Liberal backbenchers and Liberal members. That is what he said, in essence.

Now I understand the minister over there would be bored with this. I can understand why, because he would just as soon we would go away and not say anything about this. That is what he would hope, but I have to say to the minister, that is not going to happen because this has to be exposed. This has to be exposed for what it is, the political fraud that it is, because that is what has occurred here - a political fraud - nothing less than a political fraud, and members opposite put such pressure on the Minister of Justice that he had to go to Clarenville and say: Let's bring the number of seats up - that will help us a bit - and then we will reduce this leverage that they have and add 10 per cent, and all this kind of old nonsensical stuff, and that will give us the chance to save a few of our Liberal seats. Gerrymandering by another name, before the act, I suppose.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: But what do you want them back for? Why do you go through all this effort for, to try to get them back in there? Why?

AN HON. MEMBER: All Liberal seats.

MR. SIMMS: Because they are all Liberal seats. Well the Minister of Finance just confirmed what I have been trying to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, we know what is going on here, I say to the minister.

I know the Minister of Justice will jump up now, in closing the debate on this bill, and say: Oh, gerrymandering; now I remember. I will remind him, in case he was not going to make mention of it. He will say: `Oh, I remember gerrymandering back in the seventies, back in mid-1975 when I lost my chance to become Premier because Joey... That is what he is going to talk about. He is going to accuse -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, he will accuse Premier Moores of gerrymandering and all that stuff. He will bring you back. He will give you another bit of history.

I say to my friends here who were not even born when the Minister of Justice entered the House in 1966 to sit still, stand by, because you are going to get a nice little political history lesson. Joeymandering and gerrymandering - there is a difference.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to make that point because I think it is an important point to make, and I will make the point in press releases. I will make the point in talks with the press afterwards, to make sure that the public of this Province understands the little tricks being employed by the Liberal Party, by saying on the one hand that ministers cannot attend the commission and then the minister who brought in the law came in and says that we have to change the law because too many of our members are giving us heat because they might lose their seat.

Not only that, can you imagine the Member for Eagle River daring to take on the Minister of Education up in that new seat for the nomination? Who would win there? Can you imagine the Member for Harbour Grace taking on the most powerful minister in his own mind, the Member for Carbonear? Who would win that nomination?

AN HON. MEMBER: Which one?

MR. SIMMS: The one between the Member for Harbour Grace and the Member for Carbonear, who would win that one?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh no, no. The Member for Port de Grave - never mind, we will not get into the Member for Port de Grave's debate down in his district. We will not ask him about his meeting last night or anything. We have gotten a number of reports.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is another reason for all the concern. Not only are they afraid they will lost some Liberal seats; they are also afraid they will have to take on one another and have an internal battle.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, exactly.

You see, we are not manipulating this. You are. That is the point, I say to the Member for St. John's South.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is the point that needs to be hammered home again, again, and again. The Member for Eagle River is over there now and he loves to see me up talking about him. Do you know what he wants me to talk about next? He wants me to bring up the potential for the commission's recommendations to leave Eagle River out of the map so that it will not be a separate seat and he will move away from the new seat of the Strait of Belle Isle. He will move away from that and do you know where he is going to go? He is going to go to Naskaupi and take on the Minister of Justice who dared bring in these recommendations in the first place to that commission. That is where he is gong to go, and I would say to the Minister of Justice, instead of him saying to the Member for Baie Verte he will not be here after the next election, I would predict here now, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Justice will not be here after the next election. I noticed the enthusiasm shown by members opposite while the Minister of Justice is out behind the curtain, but you can trust me to remind the Minister of Justice of what I just said and what you just did. I will do that because I know you would not want me to.

Mr. Speaker, on a serious note, and that was serious. That was a serious point and I just did it in a different way so as to try to get some attention from members opposite. I say to the Minister of Development, or ITT, whatever it is, that the jig is up. We have exposed what has gone on here and hopefully the press will be swarming around afterwards to ask us to elaborate on the allegations we have made on this. I have a note here, Mr. Simms, can we see you to elaborate on your allegation that the government is playing political games?


MR. SIMMS: Here is another one, please call news room, please call home. I say to the minister I am responding to the bill so I have an hour and then presumably I will get leave from members on both sides.

AN HON. MEMBER: You could start over again.

MR. SIMMS: I could, yes, but I want to get to another point. The first point I want to make is the political interference and the gamesmanship of the members opposite, the government opposite, that has now been exposed.

I will tell you another major issue, Mr. Speaker, that we must expose as well. They have done all of this after this commission has spent $200,000 of taxpayer's money, being sent around this Province on this foolish mission knowing, by a government that knew that it was going to have to do something to rein them in because they did not like the initial recommendations that were coming out. Now, $200,000 of taxpayer's money on a commission that was given original instructions which did not end up being suitable to the Liberals so they changed them three and a half months later. Now, I say to the Minister of Finance, when he comes to this House next February or March and tells us about his projection of $50 million in debt, deficit, or whatever, $100 million, or whatever it might be, we will remind him of the major mistake his government made in August of this year, 1993, by appointing this commission, giving them the wrong instructions in the first place, so they say, and spending tens of thousands of dollars - well their budget is $200,000 but I do not know how much they spent. They are certainly going to spend that and more because now their commission has been extended, the life of the commission to July, and they are going to have to go around the Province again.

MR. TOBIN: Because the legislation they dealt with is going to change.

MR. SIMMS: That is what I am saying. That is the point I am trying to make.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tobin, you get up and speak, boy.

MR. SIMMS: He will. He is next and my friend for Burin - Placentia West is sort of emphasizing what I am trying to say to you, that now this new commission -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is just telling you what to say.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, he is helping me with notes. They are going to have to get additional funding, number one, more money from the taxpayers. They are going to have to go around the Province and hold another bunch of hearings whether it is four, six, ten, twenty or whatever it is, Mr. Speaker, and then -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's democracy.

MR. SIMMS: Democracy, that is not democracy it is games. It is political games by the members opposite and the Minister of Finance knows it, Mr. Speaker.

Oh yes, you wanted me to tell them what happened. I say to the Minister of Justice, I mentioned that - the Member for Eagle River, every time I talk about him over there he is always waving and wants me to say more. I told him that under the commissions proposal - one of the big concerns he had of course was that he was going to lose his seat. So the big question for him was whether or not - well you may have found a way around that now I suspect. Anyway, his big concern initially was that he might have to take on the Minister of Education in a nomination in that new seat. So the understanding I have from sources very close to the Member for Eagle River, very, very close, is that he has sort of decided if that comes about, what is going to happen he is going to vamoose from that seat that he now holds and he is going to run in Naskaupi against the Minister of Justice but I said to him not to worry because the Minister of Justice is not going to be running the next time anyway in Naskaupi, so he may get a free ride. But either way - and this is the point that I wanted to tell the minister while he was out behind the curtains - I said either way, to the Member for Eagle River, the Minister of Justice was not going to be here after the next election. Do you know, I say to the minister, where the biggest round of applause came from while he was outside of that curtain?

MR. ROBERTS: From my own members.

MR. SIMMS: Absolutely. So I wanted to tell the minister because I told them I would tell him when he came in because I know he would want to know.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Is that right?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, no doubt about that. You certainly done it once -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: You know what it is? It is about these allegations that I am making about political interference, guaranteed.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) set them straight.

AN HON. MEMBER: Corruption.

MR. SIMMS: If only somebody would listen to the Minister of Justice, I say that might be a worthwhile thing for him to do.

So it is the political involvement of the party opposite, the games, the corruption, the politics, the waste of money that has been spent on the commission, the embarrassment - I would like to ask the Minister of Justice how the commission feels about this latest series of events? I would like to know what the commission themselves think. My feeling is that they do not feel very good about this. I have a feeling they feel a little bit used and I would not blame them if they did, Mr. Speaker.

Now my friend from Burin - Placentia West wants to have a few words. The Member for Mount Pearl was next - somebody opposite may speak -

AN HON. MEMBER: Close debate.

MR. SIMMS: No, we are just starting the debate on this one. I just wanted to make the point about the political interference, the gamesmanship that has been played and the waste of money. That is the two points I made. Now the Member for Mount Pearl and the Member for Burin - Placentia West will have much, much more to say, I can assure the Minister of Finance, so he should tie up his belt, sit back and relax because there is more coming. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: Now, Mr. Speaker, I may well have to attribute and credit the fact that I am in the House of Assembly to the gerrymandering that the Leader of the Opposition just mentioned. Because in 1975, Mr. Speaker, with a view to making sure that the Tories would win the next election in 1975 - and there was some grave doubt that they might - Mr. Moores decided to move the seats from forty-two to fifty-two. Now, Mr. Speaker, in 1975 the District of Windsor - Buchans was created and I chose to seek the nomination. I might say, in 1975, 800 people had to turn out in the Town of Windsor - Buchans to assure me the seat.

What I am wondering, Mr. Speaker, how many people turned out in Grand Falls at the nomination when Frank Moores parachuted John Lundrigan in? I am wondering where the hon. leader, with all his political aspirations was.

I am wondering what the Leader of the Opposition did for the next four years, having conceded his seat to Mr. Lundrigan, and Mr. Lundrigan represented the district for four years, and the hon. member was his executive assistant. Then Mr. Lundrigan chose to resign and the present Leader of the Opposition decided to run.

Mr. Speaker, let me deal with anyone's concern about running against the Leader of the Opposition in the new district of Grand Falls. I recall an incident in 1985 - I personally would not be too concerned, because I remember when the good (inaudible) of Grand Falls defeated the hon. member. The hon. member went to bed, having lost his seat to the NDP, and the university students, 100 and something that he had, in one way or the other, manipulated. Mr. Speaker, the next morning the hon. member was the Member for Grand Falls again. He conceded the election, went to bed, the NDP made their victory speech and Len Simms was gone politically.

Let me tell you something else that happened as a result of that fright. Here was the hon. Member for Grand Falls, the Speaker, in that very prestigious position, finding himself one year into the mandate, two years into the mandate, going door-to-door on every street in Grand Falls. He got such a fright that he decided he should go door-to-door.

Let me tell you about the influence this hon. member has in the Windsor part of that new riding. In 1982 I lost an election by eighty-four votes, and in the next provincial election, 1985, the Member for Grand Falls decided that he was going to come out to Windsor and help the candidate who had defeated me in 1982, to reelection. That candidate lost, with this hon. member campaigning on a daily basis, lost by 1,000 votes, Mr. Speaker. They rejected Mr. McLennan and they rejected the hon. member by 1,000 votes.

Mr. Speaker, I heard some people speculate that maybe what the commission should have done, I made no representation to the commission, Mr. Speaker, my executive - Maybe what they should have done, was, draw a line down through Grand Falls, right down through the centre and put half with Exploits, half with Windsor - Buchans and say to the hon. member: take your choice, take your choice, Mr. (inaudible) and they would not have to worry about a leadership convention, Mr. Speaker, they wouldn't need to worry about a leadership convention.

Now, Mr. Speaker, he talks about being concerned and Liberal members losing their seats. Here is a man, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition who wants some credibility, talking about Liberal members on this side losing an election when we have just seen an unbiased poll showing this party commanding 85 per cent, and the leader, commanding 85 per cent of approval in this Province and the hon. member commanding 6, three points above inflation, not as big as his shoe size, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you something else that just happened; let me tell you something that gives me some consolation, gives me some sense. You see, Mr. Speaker, I have been in this House since 1975; I have the option of sitting back and saying: well, do I want to do it again, or how long will I devote to public life and that kind of thing, so in the next election I had to think about it. Well, Mr. Speaker, something happened in Grand Falls in the last federal election that would make me wonder and say: well, maybe it won't be such a big fight. Every poll with this man campaigning for his previous leader, in Grand Falls, Mr. Rideout, Grand Falls elected George Baker in every poll.

He knocked on every door in Grand Falls for Mr. Rideout, and never won a poll. Now, is there a message in that? Is there a message in that for anyone, Mr. Speaker? Now, Mr. Speaker, I walk around my district and I want to tell you, I have great respect for the people of Grand Falls, and, Mr. Speaker, they are very proud people, they want to be associated with a winner, and admittedly, they have elected the member since 1979 I guess, but they want a winner, Mr. Speaker, they do not like being associated with a loser, and the polls come out -

AN HON. MEMBER: Graham, he supported Kim Campbell.

MR. FLIGHT: Well, that speaks for itself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: The people of Grand Falls are going around saying: But who did Len support for the federal leadership, I wonder? Who did he come out and support?

In any event, Mr. Speaker, the member should know, and he well knows his constituency, I give him credit for that, and he knows they like to be associated -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FLIGHT: You know your constituents. I give you credit for it, and you well know that they like to be associated with a winner. They do not like to be associated with a loser.

Yes, they have elected him in the general election, but they are starting to say: But 6 per cent in the polls, our member. He won the leadership by twenty-seven or twenty-eight votes, might go on now and become the Premier, and then he runs up against one Mr. Clyde Kirby Wells, Leader of the Liberal Party, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I have some sense of concern for what the member is heading into, but if he keeps leading with his chin, the way he did today, against the leader of the government, Mr. Wells, he can only go below 6 - 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - down! Down to the bottom, and the people of Grand Falls go around whispering. They do not want to talk about the Leader of the Opposition. They do not even want to talk about their member any more. They acknowledge he is there, but they know he is going nowhere, and the betting now, and the wondering now, in Grand Falls, how long will it last? How long will the honeymoon last? How long before we get a Kim Campbell replay, Mr. Speaker?

When the press conference is called by the Leader of the Opposition:

In the better interest of the party, in the ability to attract candidates, having spent the best part of twenty years - fifteen years as leader - it is time to go to retire; not being pushed - no. The Member for Mount Pearl is not suggesting that I leave. The Member for Grand Bank is not suggesting that I leave. They all want me to stay, but I think it is in the better interest of the party.

The people of Grand Falls are guessing that will take place about 1995, just a couple of years before the election. In 1995 they figure the hon. leader, after he has been used, after he has been manipulated by the party, after he serves the purpose, out the door.

AN HON. MEMBER: Dougie Moores wants his job.

MR. FLIGHT: Dougie Moores is only one.

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned, and the people of Central Newfoundland are concerned, that he may not be around to worry about the gerrymandering. He may not be offering himself, because his party will have taken care of him. I would suggest to the hon. member that he recognize the real concerns about the redistribution process in this Province, that there were concerns with the recommendations made and in the better interest of the process the hon. House Leader did what he did. I would not be so unkind as the hon. Leader of the Opposition has been because he may not, and a lot of the members sitting there behind him now may not be around to reap the rewards that come from the effect of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Grand Bank had better pray because he got a fright. The hon. Member for Grand Bank managed to squeak in by a measly 600 votes. The sitting members in the Opposition need not worry about this because if the trend continues as it has this past seven months there will not be any worries about how many people will survive, redistribution or no redistribution. Having added those great, deep thoughts, Mr. Speaker, I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: There is one thing I will say to the member who just sat down, that I do not speak with the same degree of authority that he does on winning and losing elections. I have only won them. Unlike the Member for Windsor - Buchans I have never yet been given the boot by the electorate. The Member for Windsor - Buchans got up and talked about winning and losing and all that. Why did the member not tell this House why he was rejected by the people of Windsor - Buchans in 1982? Why did he not tell the people in this House why the people of Windsor - Buchans said: goodbye, Graham, we do not need you to represent us. We need to teach you a lesson. Why did that happen, Mr. Speaker, if he were such a great member? Why did he get the boot? Why was he out knocking on doors trying to get a job for three or four years if he was such a great representative in this Province? That is the question the member should answer. The other thing the hon. member just did was probably make his last speech in this Legislature. Mr. Speaker. The Member for Windsor - Buchans probably just made his last speech in this Legislature.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: As a minister, for sure.

MR. TOBIN: I would venture to bet he has made his - no, in this Legislature. I would venture to bet that he had made his last speech as a minister. Because come the next few days, if the Premier lives up to his commitment of a Cabinet shuffle, Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture just made his last speech as a minister, for sure, and probably his last speech as a member of the Legislature. Because I understand that he and the Minister of Health have decided that they are not going to continue as members if they are dropped from the Cabinet.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Fisheries, too.

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Fisheries, too?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Fisheries, same thing.

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Fisheries the same thing? So there will be an abundance of by-elections, Mr. Speaker, in due course.

What we have before this House today is a piece of legislation that is brought in to protect the interests of the St. John's members. Make no mistake about that. This is a piece of legislation brought in to protect St. John's members.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Liberal members.

MR. TOBIN: Liberal. The other thing I would say, Mr. Speaker, is that the Minister of Justice in this House gave a mandate to a committee to go around this Province and have public hearings and bring back recommendations. They've gone around the Province, they have heard public input, and today we are tearing up the piece of legislation that they were commissioned to travel this Province with. In doing so, the work of that committee is now null and void.

MR. EFFORD: Carried!

MR. TOBIN: I would say the Member for Port de Grave got carried last night, Mr. Speaker.

What is happening is that we have given the group of people the authority by this Legislature - this legislature, I say to the Member for St. John's South, gave a commission the authority through legislation last year to hold public inquiries, and today we are saying to them: your work is no longer useful because the act is changed. They cannot go around the Province and hear submissions, bring in recommendations, and change the act, I say to members opposite.


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Exploits, the fellow going around Gander to the Liberal convention who introduced himself as the next premier, wants me to sit down.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, he will be the next premier. I say to the Member for Exploits that he can go over and talk to him because that is the only hope he has. Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Environment and Lands just wanted to say something?


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I know that I have lots of time left to deal with this, to expose what is happening here, particularly as it relates to some districts in this Province, particularly the districts that have recommendations of over 14,000.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Member for St. John's South that he will be long gone out of this Assembly before I will and if it hadn't been for the NDP this time he wouldn't be back here. With that, I will adjourn the debate.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt the House enthusiastically endorses the hon. gentleman's motion to adjourn. I move that we adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and we will deal with the resolution standing in the name of my friend for LaPoile. On Thursday, we will be back and we will carry on with this debate. One would hope my friend from Burin - Placentia West will be in good voice and good humour then as he was today. It is always a pleasure to hear from him. It is like Dr. Johnson talking about a dog on its hind legs and I invite your hon. friend to go look that up. It is under `J' for Johnson in the dictionary.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I again remind members that on Thursday we will ask the House to sit through the supper hour so they can make their plans accordingly. With that said, I move that the House do now adjourn.

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