December 16, 1993             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS        Vol. XLII  No. 37

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

I wanted to rule today on the matter raised by the Member for Mount Pearl but I notice that he is not present.

MR. SIMMS: Was that the Public Accounts Committee -

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, the question of privilege. I would prefer to rule when he is here - if it would be in order, I perhaps will make the ruling, in any event.

As I indicated, at this time I would like to rule on a point of privilege raised on Tuesday, December 7, 1993 by the Member for Mount Pearl while tabling the report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

I believe the matter raised by the member is a serious one and I have taken some time to carefully study the issues in this case. At the outset, I should say that this matter has given the Chair a great deal of concern.

It has been said many times by Speakers but, I believe, it is worth reiterating that "a genuine question of privilege is a most serious matter and should be taken seriously by the House."

In deciding on this matter, I have been assisted by the able arguments of the hon. members who participated in the debate on the point of privilege and I thank them for their participation.

The hon. member's contention is that his privileges, as a member of this hon. House, were breached when a majority of the Public Accounts Committee, on October 12, 1993, voted not to hold hearings scheduled for October 13 relating to the award of public proposals for the construction of three health care clinics. The committee acted on a verbal request from the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who had indicated that there were two civil lawsuits pending before the Supreme Court of the Province. I have since been advised by the Minister of Justice in a letter dated December 9, 1993, that on October 13, 1993, there were two actions brought against the Crown relating to those tenders; one by Health Care Developers Inc issued out of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland on October 29, 1992, and defended by the Crown on November 17, 1992; the other by N. D. Dobbin Ltd which was issued out of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland on October 30, 1992, and defended on November 17, of that year. Some limited discovery of documents had occurred but no witnesses had been discovered, nor had the matter proceeded to trial.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl contends that the Public Accounts Committee deprived him of his parliamentary right to freedom of speech by incorrectly applying the Sub Judice Convention which should only be recognized - if at all - in criminal matters and to a much lesser extent in serious civil matters which have proceeded to trial.

The privileges of the Canadian Houses of Parliament and this Assembly are similar to those in the United Kingdom. Privilege has been defined by Erskine May on page 67 of the 19th edition of a Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament as follows: Parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each House collectively as constituent part of the High Court of Parliament and by members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge their functions, and which exceed those possessed by other bodies or individuals. Thus, privilege, though part of the law of the land, is, to certain extent, an exemption from the ordinary law.

Perhaps a more relevant definition for our purposes in considering this point of privilege is that of Redlick who stated as follows at page 46 of The Procedure of the House of Commons, Volume 1: The particular privileges of the Commons have been defined as: - "The sum of the fundamental rights of the House and of its individual members as against the prerogatives of the Crown, the authority of the ordinary courts of law, and the special rights of the House of Lords."

The rational for the existence of these privileges is that a Legislature cannot carry on unless it has them. They are ancillary to the purposes of a Legislature - means to accomplish parliamentary ends, and not ends in themselves. I substantially agree with the Member for Mount Pearl's understanding to the Sub Judice Convention and the fundamental nature of a member's right to freedom of speech in this House and its committees. In my view, that convention should rarely, if ever, be applied to restrict the freedom of speech except in the most extraordinary cases.

In recent memory, questions were asked in this hon. House concerning criminal and civil matters pending before the courts relating to events at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John's. No objection was taken by the government to the asking of the questions and it was left to the ministers concerned to determine what, if any, information could be publicly disclosed without jeopardizing the integrity of either the civil or criminal cases. This is a recent illustration in our House of the freedom of members to raise questions of public importance notwithstanding the fact that criminal and civil matters are pending before the courts.

Based on my understanding of the rights and privileges of hon. members in this House and its committees, I do not see that the Sub Judice Convention could have been applied by a majority of the Public Accounts Committee to postpone the hearing scheduled to take place on October 13, 1993. The fact that two civil lawsuits had been filed against the Crown did not under our rules, by law or convention, require the committee to postpone its hearings on the awarding of the contracts.

However, we must also bear in mind that committees of this House are masters of their own proceedings. Perhaps the most independent and wide-ranging of our committees is the Public Accounts Committee, which has the authority to investigate anything in the Auditor General's Report at its own discretion and in its own time. In other words, it has the right to set its own schedule independent of direction by either the government or the Speaker, in order that its investigations may be freely undertaken and reported.

On October 12th, the committee by a majority vote decided to postpone the hearing scheduled for the next day. While I have expressed a grave concern that the reason given for the postponement appears to be a misapplication of the Sub Judice Convention, the committee has the sole authority to determine its own schedule. Even if the committee, in my view, could have proceeded, there is no authority in the Speaker to order it to do so. As was said by Beauchesne in the 6th edition of Parliamentary Rules and Forms on page 222, subparagraph (3) of paragraph 760, and I quote: "The Speaker has ruled on many occasions that it is not competent for the Speaker to exercise procedural control over the committees. Committees are and must remain masters of their own procedure", and that is taken from the Journals, December 4, 1973, pages 709-10.

As to the point of privilege, the member has not, as such, made out a prima facie case of breach that would justify submitting that to the House for consideration. The committee has a right to postpone that hearing or any others for such reasons as it sees fit. Other than expressing my view that it seems to have misapplied the Sub Judice Convention, there is no authority to direct the Public Accounts Committee to proceed and the decision of the committee to postpone a hearing for that reason does not, per se constitute a prima facie case of breach of parliamentary privilege.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, back to the Premier's BIS Program, I guess, the Basic Income Supplement Program. As you read through the program, the more you read, the more startling it becomes. The program indicates, of course, that it is going to take $630 million out of the pockets of people who depend now on Unemployment Insurance for a substantial amount of their income, and redistribute it primarily, to people on social assistance and people who have no income. In other words, he is going to be taking money from the poor to help the desperately poor. Now, in the end - a point made by the Member for St. John's East - in the end, these desperately poor may be a little less desperate but unfortunately, the level of poverty will increase for those who are now at the margin of poverty, Mr. Speaker, and the rest of us, of course, will blissfully be left alone.

The Premier refers to this approach now then as fairness and balance. I want to ask him: Is this the new liberal program for social reform, to have the poor take care of the poor? Why is the Premier so tenacious and so determined to increase by thousands, the number of families in this Province who will be forced to live in desperate poverty if this plan is approved?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take full credit for the ingenuity that this report contains, but I can't. The work was done by Dr. House and put forward. The government accepted the approach in principle as being sound. So for whatever reason the Leader of the Opposition wants to give me full credit for it in saying it is my report, but I want to honestly report to the House what the situation is and if he wishes to continue on that line, as least I will have discharged my responsibility to make the true facts known. He can continue to say it as he pleases.

Mr. Speaker, this is a proposal that would see us in this Province address a major problem. It is a major problem not alone in this Province but it is also a major problem in this nation. The nation can't go on and continue to finance the social security system of the nation structured as it is with the burdens that it has, with the impediments that it has. We cannot build and rebuild the economy of this nation and continue to finance it in that way. If that could be done then we could sit back and perhaps not worry too much about it. But the government must be concerned about the overall protection of the economy and the people generally, and rebuilding and restoring economic competence in the Province.

This is part of the overall plan. I keep emphasizing, this is not in itself the sole solution to all the problems. Remember, it is part of the Strategic Economic Plan, and all of the other aspects of it I have mentioned in the House on numerous occasions. I don't want to take the time of Question Period to re-state them all again. I just want to draw members' attention to the fact that this is part of an overall plan.

It is not a scheme to do, as the Leader of the Opposition says, quoting the Member for St. John's East, to take from the poor and give to the desperately poor. That is kind of a trite, silly statement that seems to want to catch headlines. If you want to deal intellectually, honestly, with the overall problem, let's admit the nature and extent of the problem and have the political courage to face up to what is necessary to deal with it. This is what we are doing in this proposal.

We asked the ERC to develop an approach that would do that. They've developed and put one forward that we think can work. We've put the proposal to the federal government and asked them to be prepared to participate in it, and I certainly hope that they will.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier can squirm out from under the responsibility for this all he wants. His bureaucrats put it together, sure, and they do for all the government programs. But he is the one after his Cabinet approved it who took it to the Prime Minister. Now you can be sure, Mr. Speaker, any time the Premier tends to dismiss any criticisms by using words like `tripe' or `silly', and `stupid' and all those kinds of thing, you can be absolutely certain that we are getting closer and closer to the truth every time we ask the questions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: The Premier has referred to this as an incentive program. The only incentive that we can find in this is to force people to go to work by first driving them into poverty. That is what is going to happen under his program. The program proposes, as well, to eliminate federal and provincial job creation programs, so obviously the opportunities for employment are not going to be there.

I want to ask the Premier the question, once again: What does he expect people to do? How does he expect people to supplement the meagre incomes they now get? Where is the opportunity going to be to find jobs? Where will the jobs be? Where will the work be? Does he expect thousands of people to pick up rocks, paint pictures of cod fish on them and sell them to tourists? Is that the way he expects them to earn their money?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is too bad the Leader of the Opposition has such a narrow focus. He can only see one thing at one time. It is regrettable.

I emphasize again, this is not a proposal to generate employment opportunities. This is one part of an overall Strategic Economic Plan. Now it is too bad that the breadth of their thinking is so narrow that they cannot conceive of something that is all-encompassing. It is too bad that they can only see it in this one, narrow focus.

I emphasize again, for the Leader of the Opposition, this is one part of a broader program. This is not intended to provide the job opportunities. We intend to adjust our taxes, as we talked about, on business. We intend to correct the excessive regulatory burden. We intend to provide for a better economic climate, a better labour relations climate, a better environmental assessment climate. This is all part of what is being done. A better education climate - it is all part of what is being done. A better private sector climate by privatization - it is all part of what is being done, and we rely on the whole to generate the employment opportunities, not that one, narrow bit. We do not put it forward as that. We put it forward as one essential part of the better whole, and I would hope that the Leader of the Opposition would see beyond that one, narrow thing, and I ask him to think about it again before he asks the next question.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First it was Triton. Now he says we have a narrow focus. I suppose the next answer will contain the term `You have a concrete mind-set'. That is about to come for sure.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, what this plan does and what the government intends to do with this plan is drive virtually every rural community in this Province into abject poverty. That is what the plan does.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: The fishing industry, the fishing economy is destroyed, mechanical harvesters have eliminated jobs in the forest industry and there will be no more government funded job creation programs, we are told. Thousands of families in this Province will be forced to live off this BIS supplement program which will give them $9,000 a year. Rural communities cannot and will not be able to survive this attack. This is another resettlement program, that is what the Premier has here. Does the Premier realize that the real effect will, in fact, be to kill off rural communities in this Province, to force people to resettle to other places where they might have a chance to scrape up a few dollars or in fact to force them to leave the Province altogether, does he realize that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I could never accuse the hon. member of having a concrete mind. I have never seen him put forward anything concrete yet. He is so wishy-washy he could never produce a concrete mind.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Nothing concrete has ever come from anything he ever said. Now, Mr. Speaker, let me make the point again. Let me make the point once again. Partly as a result of the approach that the former government took - but they are not totally responsible for it, I cannot give them the whole blame for it, they are not totally responsible, Mulroney contributed his fair share - partly as a result of the economic irresponsibility of corporations, governments, governments of all political stripes over the last number of years, we have mismanaged the economy of this Province. We have created a circumstance where neither the nation nor the provincial government can continue to provide the social security system that we have in place without putting the entire future of the country in jeopardy and anybody with any degree of responsibility or concern for the future would not be so narrow in their focus as to think of only the immediate political reaction, that is the way the other side governed. We are prepared to demonstrate the courage of real leadership. Lead and put forward real solutions to the problems.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, in the interest of the people of this Province we are not prepared to sit back and see the Government of Canada, as it must, put in place a solution that is insensitive to the reality of Newfoundland. To put in place a solution that is more suited to Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto than it is to Newfoundland. That is why we developed and put forward a proposal that is better suited to Newfoundland. The Leader of the Opposition misleads this House and misleads the people of the Province when he says it is going to affect adversely rural Newfoundland. It will improve things. To begin with, the figures show that 60 per cent of the population will not be affected. The figures also show that another 27 per cent will have some improvement in their income. It shows that only 13 per cent will have some reduction in their income.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not true.

PREMIER WELLS: Now they scream, `not true.' Now maybe they are right but the proper word is inaccurate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Listen to the whole and you won't have cause to applaud. Listen to it all and you won't have cause to applaud.

It may be that the figures will not pan out that way but I believe they will. I believe that on the basis of the advice I have gotten from Dr. House and the officials who do it, and let me tell the members of the House that I have infinitely more confidence in Dr. House's judgement on this matter than I do in the judgement of the Leader of the Opposition or any of the characters that advise him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, probably the Premier should also get the advice of Professor Locke and some of the other economists at the University who have been discussing his plan over the past few days.

My question is for the Minister of Mines and Energy, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister of Mines and Energy if he can tell me if Norwegian Contractors have been brought into Bull Arm and if so for what purposes.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, Norwegian Contractors as a company has not been brought into Bull Arm, but a number of senior experienced people with Norwegian Contractors are being brought in as part of the management team. They are brought into the team there.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, why would Norwegian management at this point in time be sending people in as part of a team? If they are coming in as part of a team, who are they replacing? Will the changes in this management strategy that the minister now confirms, will that have any effect on Newfoundland?

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

DR. GIBBONS: No, Mr. Speaker, is has no effect on Newfoundland. It is up to the company what people they want to hire to help them manage the project. I have no problem with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister says that they are being brought in. If there are no changes being made why bring them in? I ask the minister to come clean with this House. Tell us why Norwegian Contractors are being brought in, who are they replacing, and why are they being replaced. Let me also ask the minister to answer this question: Can the minister tell this House, Mr. Speaker, if the Hibernia project is on schedule and on budget?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, it is up to the Hibernia management company who they want to hire as part of their management team, and as I said a minute ago they are hiring some people who work with Norwegian Contractors and they are going to be part of the management team. Very experienced people with gravity-placed construction. That is just normal. Right now I am told by the company that they are expecting to meet their milestones, to have the first oil in 1997, which is all of our aim.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are they on budget?

DR. GIBBONS: On budget? As far as I know they are on budget. I've seen no indication that they are not on budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: On schedule.

DR. GIBBONS: In any major construction project you are going to be up and down, but the key thing is that you meet your milestones. I am told by the company that they will meet their milestones that will allow them to have first oil by 1997. That is all that we can expect and that is all that we can desire.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to direct a question to the Minister of Education. On November 30 the minister tabled the government's model for restructuring the school system. In his comments and comments of members opposite it said that the pre-eminent goal of the government's proposal was, to quote: to transform this society from one of persistent underachievement to one whose achievement ranks with the best in the nation. To achieve this goal the model articulates substantive changes to the denominational structure as is currently existing in the Province.

Will the minister explain to the House why his government chose to change the denominational structure as its primary focus at this time, and more specifically how the change in denominational structures will change this society from one of persistent underachievement to one whose achievement ranks with the best in Canada?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is right when he says it is the intention of this government to change the educational system from one which is underachieving till it achieves with the best in the nation. If anyone has any doubts about where we are I would suggest that they would look at the results of this test which will be made public today which shows, Mr. Speaker, that 37 per cent of our thirteen-year-olds who are in Grade VIII are achieving at a Grade III level. Thirty-five per cent of our Grade VIIIs are achieving at a Grade VI level. So this is underachieving.

The hon. member talks about why we are focusing on governance. We are not focusing on governance. There are 211 recommendations in the report. One of twenty, twenty-five or so recommendations deal with governance. That is the issue which receives all the public attention. It is a big thing in the media. But the Royal Commission has been divided into twelve sections. Every single section is being worked on. That includes dealing with time on task, the lengthening of the school year. That deals with the way teachers are being trained. That deals with the ways that parents should have more input into what is going on. So the hon. member's premise is not quite correct when he suggests that all we are doing is dealing with the denominational issue.

I cannot blame him for reaching that conclusion, because that has received such publicity over the past number of weeks that it is only natural, I suppose, that he would arrive at that position, but the reality is that the Royal Commission is being implemented and he should come over to the Department of Education some time to see just how actively the department is pursuing the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

I can excuse him for thinking it is only a governance issue, but it is anything but only a governance issue.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, in the Williams Royal Commission there is reference to a wide variety of studies on many aspects of the educational system; however, can the minister share with this House, and the people of this Province, those research studies which draw a profound correlation between our denominational structure and what the Province alleges to be persistent underachievement?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, no one is blaming the denominational system per se for causing underachievement. It is duplication which causes underachievement. As a result of the denominational system, in the Town of Roddickton, in which I grew up and raised my family, there are two schools about 1,000 feet apart. They are not there because the people want separate schools, per se. They are there because of the denominational system. In one school there are 178 students from K-XII. In the other school there are 192 students from K-XII.

My children went through the system without getting chemistry or physics or advanced math. The Pentecostal people across the street went through their system without the advantage of chemistry or physics or advanced math. Now, does the denominational system cause that? I do not know.


MR. DECKER: It is the way the denominational system is being implemented that causes that.

Our model says that we can still keep the denominational system, but cases of duplication like that, where the children's ability to achieve is being interfered with, then our model would see an interdenominational system in Roddickton and some other places - many other places around the Province - and this would certainly help our children to achieve better.

It is not the denominational system per se. It is the way that it is implemented in a good many places throughout this Province.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised the minister would rise and say that he does not know, because we have the Williams Royal Commission, we have the whole list of recommendations that are contained in the summary documents, all the research, and yet we do not know exactly what is the cause of the underachievement, as the minister just said.

Research indicates that many other factors affect the achievement of students in school - the urban, rural nature of the community, social and economic factors, parental expectations, the level of funding, the level of teacher training, the quality and quantity of instructional time. In fact, Mr. Speaker, research shows that structure -

MR. SPEAKER: The question, please.

MR. HODDER: Structure ranks as sixth, seventh, or eighth in the list of items -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. member has a question, I think he should now ask it.

MR. HODDER: Structure ranks as sixth, seventh, or eighth in the list of items that might affect the performance of students, and I ask the minister: Why will he not now delay his implementation target beyond September of 1994 to allow for further dialogue and participation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, remember flip and flop.

Two weeks to the day, in this House, that hon. member got up and criticized this government for dragging our feet with educational reforms.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, that was flip. Flop, Mr. Speaker, is the Leader of the Opposition, when at a public meeting of Roman Catholics, got up and said: oh, we are going to keep the status quo, we are not going to interfere with anything in the system. That is Flop.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is time for hon. members on the other side of the House to get their act together. They can't run with the foxes and hunt with the hounds and that is exactly what they are trying to do. So Flip and Flop are going to have to get their act together and then maybe the level of questions which they put forward in this House might be of the calibre that the people of this Province deserve.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Education.

Is the minister aware that there are over sixty students from the area of the Battery, Quidi Vidi, Forest Road areas of St. John's, who don't have access to school busing and have to walk for an hour-and-a-half each way, to and from school at Gonzaga High School? As the minister knows, school busing would be available to these students if they lived outside St. John's in any other part of the Province. Will the minister not agree that his government's policy on school busing discriminates against students in the St. John's area?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, in fairness to the hon. member, I have to say, yes I am aware of it, because if I were talking to his constituents I would have to tell them that he keeps bringing this to my attention and is doing a magnificent job of bringing it to my attention and I have to commend him for that.

Busing of school children is a problem in this Province. We are spending close to $30 million in busing children around, Mr. Speaker, and you will find that there are an awful lot of inconsistencies in our busing program. The hon. member is quite right when he says that people who live in St. John's, in many cases are not being bused because we do not bus in urban areas. Yet having said that, I can tell the hon. member that there are school bus contracts in this city which are busing people around.

Now, there is a need for a lot of work to be done in the busing area. My latest appointed assistant deputy minister is paying a lot of attention to this and trying to somehow come to grips with the problem. Now it is not as simple as saying we are going to solve it and bus those sixty children. The St. John's Transportation Commission has to be involved in busing in the city and all this sort of thing.

The hon. member will know that some time ago he brought a group to me from Quidi Vidi actually who had a problem. We sat down and were able to solve it and I would suggest to the hon. member that maybe he should bring this particular situation to my attention as I know he has been doing at the official level, but he and I should sit down. I cannot assure him that we will solve it but I can assure him that we will look at it and do the best we can within the rules.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As members will know, the St. John's Transportation busing which the parents must pay for themselves directly is another part of the problem. In this case, these students, some of whom are here in the gallery, are required to take three bus changes and still cannot get to school on time. They are missing school now and it is going to get worse as the winter weather goes further, and so I thank the minister for agreeing with me, but will he talk to some of the students afterwards and explain how the process works and perhaps we can get together to try and solve this problem too. Will the minister do that?

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

MR. DECKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I certainly would be glad to do that. As I pointed out, it is not a simple problem, it is one we have to deal with and I would be only too well-pleased to meet with his constituents after Question Period.

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

I am wondering how much interaction the minster and his political staff, officials, would have with Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to funding applications directly to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and funding applications to other government agencies, departments such as the Employment Services Division of Employment and Labour Relations. Does the minister or his staff have much interaction with officials of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador in seeing funding approved or considered?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Very little, Mr. Speaker. We have a board of directors that we have put in place to basically monitor all applications. Now, from time to time members will come to me and ask me to intercede it they feel that one of their constituents has been treated unfairly, and I can think of two cases which the Opposition just recently brought to my attention that we solved, but other than that, Mr. Speaker, it is at arm's length and we try to let them deal with it in a responsible manner.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm wondering if the minister could explain - and perhaps it will be difficult under those circumstances - but I have here a copy of a memo dated September 30, 1993, to Mr. Jim Janes from a Rod Regier, an acting vice-president. Where he said he was approached by the Grand Meadows Golf Association, which wants to build a golf course at Frenchman's Cove Park.

He goes on to indicate - Mr. Regier to Mr. Janes - that the people in that area happened to elect an MHA of our party stripe, a PC, and they face an uphill battle. As a result, Mr. Janes had contact with an executive assistant in the minister's office on the matter, and he proposed to send a copy of the package to the minister, C. Furey.

Is this a regular occurrence? Why would an official, an acting vice-president of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, be in touch with the minister's executive assistant with an indication of a memo there? For years we've been saying that Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador is a patronage trough. To me this is clear evidence that it is. I would like for the minister to try to defend (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, it is difficult for me to respond to that, not having a copy of the correspondence. I thought I heard you say Rod somebody. He would be the acting vice-president for the Eastern region. I would like to take a look at it.

I can tell you that we treat everybody with what has become the theme and hallmark of this government, fairness and balance, Mr. Speaker. If you would like to have proof of it, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay came to me the other day seeking some financial help. I brought the cheque with me today so that he can take it himself and deliver it to the group in Baie Verte. That is fairness and balance, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we have some terrific people working at Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. Some of the hon. members have come to me and told me how good they are. I have instructed, and this government has instructed, that there be no political interference whatsoever. Hon. members can laugh because they don't understand that. We've asked every application to be treated fairly and honourably. Now I would ask the hon. member to provide me with a copy of the letter. I will look into it and I will report back to the House as soon as it is physically possible.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the public galleries, Mr. Ted Blanchard, the former Minister of Labour and Member for Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I welcome, as well, fifteen students from Gonzaga High School, St. John's, accompanied by their Principal, Father Paul Crouch.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to lay on the Table of the House a copy of the Annual Report of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for the year 1992. Copies are available for the press and for members in the usual way.

Let me say, Mr. Speaker, that - the report is to me; the cover letter to me is dated May 3, 1993, but I only received it recently. I will have a word with the Chief as to what happened, but obviously, the transmission between Constabulary headquarters in Fort Townshend and the offices here at Confederation Building leaves something to be desired. In any event, I lay it on the Table of the House. It is interesting reading for members.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will, on tomorrow, ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

`WHEREAS school bus transportation is provided by the provincial government, through the Department of Education, to students who live a long distance from their school, at no direct cost to students or their parents; and

WHEREAS in the City of St. John's, where the St. John's Transportation Commission provides a bus service, school buses paid for by the Department of Education may not operate and students, or their parents, must pay directly the total cost of school bus transportation; and

WHEREAS this situation creates economic hardship to many families and results in lost school time, lack of safety, and other problems for students whose parents cannot afford to pay bus fares; and

WHEREAS this situation is unfair and results in an inequality of treatment, and discriminates against St. John's students and their families;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this House of Assembly go on record as supporting equality of treatment of all school students and their families regarding school bus transportation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the government be directed to provide school bus transportation to students within the City of St. John's on the same basis as is provided throughout the rest of Newfoundland and Labrador.'

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In answer to four questions from the Member for St. John's East relating to the brochure, or information kit, entitled Low-Level Flying in Labrador, I would like to table the four answers.

MS. VERGE: What about the Public Libraries Report?

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, be quiet, will you? Be quiet.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, a couple of days ago when I made a statement about West Coast exploration, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition asked if I could take an opportunity sometime to give an update on petroleum exploration in Western Newfoundland.

I asked my staff to put together a few notes on that, so I am prepared to table a document. I would like to draw attention, in particular, to pages 6 and 7 of the document, and a couple of charts there.

Relative to 1993, we have seen some very interesting activity. For example, in the Parson's Pond area, Labrador Mining and Exploration has acquired ninety-four kilometres of seismic data. On the Port au Port Peninsula, in the Bay St. George area, Hunt Oil and Marathon Oil have acquired 3,300 kilometres of aeromagnetic data.

Right now, as we speak, Hunt Oil is collecting eighty-seven kilometres of seismic data on the Port au Port Peninsula on land. They haven't yet completed it. They started this in September and, as I said a couple of days ago, Marathon Oil has now given us preliminary notice that they will be drilling a well starting about April.

I am pleased to table this document for the information of members. If they would give me another moment or two, I would be glad to say a few words about what is happening with mineral exploration this year, because that is improving, that is turning around a little bit.

For example, last year, 1992, there were 5,118 claims staked. This year, to date, we have gone over 6,000. Last year, in drilling, 21,873 metres of drill core were collected. This year, to date, we have reached 45,000. We have more than doubled the drilling in mineral exploration, and we have a number of very interesting projects going on, particularly in the last three, four or five months.

There are six projects for gold around the Province. There are a number of projects for base metals. There is one for antimony, and there are a couple of drilling projects on dimension stone, so I am very pleased with the outlook for mineral exploration.

PREMIER WELLS: Mining tax (inaudible).

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, I attribute a lot of this to some of the things we have done in the last year or two relative to mining taxation, etcetera.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to present a petition on behalf of approximately 400 students from F.G. Bursey Memorial Collegiate in the District of Grand Falls, but the town of Grand Falls - Windsor. These students, in fact, I heard on the news today, yesterday, had a public rally at their school and outside their school in support of preserving their school and their rights. The prayer of the petition is short and to the point. It says: `The government is planning on removing our Pentecostal denominational school system. We, the students of Bursey Memorial Collegiate, disagree with the government's proposal, and we show our disagreement by signing this petition.' They further added a letter, and I just want to quote briefly from it, a couple of paragraphs. `We, the students of Bursey Memorial Collegiate, would like to tell you that we want to keep our Pentecostal school system because it influences our lives in a very positive way. We understand that it may cost a little more money, however, we must get our priorities straight. Our future and Christianity is far more important than any amount of money' - in their point of view. They also say, `Our generation will be running this Province soon and we think our education now will influence the way we do this. A Christian background will help us and our future greatly. Please understand how we feel. We ask you to present this in the House on our behalf,' etc., etc.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is a petition generated by a group of students. Yesterday, I presented in this House a petition containing some 1,116 names of parents in the Exploits Valley region from all three of the Central Newfoundland constituencies, the District of Exploits, the District of Windsor - Buchans, and the District of Grand Falls. These students, too, are from that same region and from that same area and they have a lot of concerns with what government is proposing, as do a lot of other people around this Province. In fact, today, I had a meeting for about an hour or so with a group from the Port de Grave area, a Pentecostal pastor and some members of the school committee in that area. They wanted to impress upon me some of the reasons why they want to see their system stay as it is. They were in the gallery a little earlier but I am not sure if they are there now. We spent an hour with them, the Member for Mount Pearl and myself, listening to their explanations, and their explanations made all kinds of sense. We thought perhaps there may even be some misunderstanding of what is going on, because when they said - they quoted the minister's quotes from last March, where the minister, himself said, `We are not in the business of destroying a denominational educational system and replacing it with a public system.' The minister said that. The Premier, himself said, `But let's not try to provoke difficulty' - that was on March 12th - `Let's do this by means of developing a consensus. But let's never put ourselves in a position where either a government or anybody else will use the majority that they have in this House to take away important and fundamental rights of a minority group.' I said to them, one of the problems we have is that the government doesn't understand why the denominations feel that the government intends to break up the denominational system.

MR. BAKER: How could you say that?

MR. SIMMS: Because they told me today, I say to the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: How could you say that the government (inaudible)?

MR. SIMMS: Well, if the minister will let me explain, I say to him, they were quoting the minister's comments of last March, and I said yesterday, the minister said in response to a petition yesterday: we still hold to those words. I asked them: Why do you not understand? The minister says, I don't know why the churches don't understand what it is we are trying to say. We don't intend to take away denominational rights. But the denominations clearly think they intend to, with this proposal that government has tabled. That is the point, I say to the Minister of Finance. There obviously is a problem somewhere in communication if that is the case because, clearly, that is what the denominations feel. It was expressed again to me today by this group that I met from Port de Grave.

Now, Mr. Speaker, our party's position, despite the accusations - I mean, if you talk about `flip and flop' all you have to do is read those quotes again by the Premier and the Minister of Education, last March, but that is not the issue here anymore.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I support the petition and I hope that somebody on the other side will respond to it.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise in support of the petition presented by the Leader of our Party. In doing so, I want to draw the attention of the House to a statement made by the hon. the Premier on March 12th of this year. I am quoting from the Premier's statement - he said: `in response to the church leaders' concerns that implementing certain recommendations of The Royal Commission Report would jeopardize their traditional rights, government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally-protected rights of classes of people specifically provided for.' Further on it reads as follows, `government re-emphasised its desire to see major reforms in education and is confident that these reforms can be achieved within a denominationally based education system.'

Mr. Speaker, obviously, there is a difference between what was said and what was heard, what was written in the government's proposal and what is being communicated. Now, Mr. Speaker, we can't have it two ways, either we have to say that the representatives of the churches are not able to understand the communications that have been emanating from the government offices, or they can't understand the text of the proposal that is put forward, or else the proposal, indeed, as put forward, intends to do exactly what it says it is intended to do, and that is, it is going to substantially change the ways in which education is delivered in this Province, and part of that change is a fundamental restructuring of the denominational system. The people who are involved in education in this Province are demanding of the Premier that he stand by his March 12th statement and that he not do anything directly or indirectly to remove from the classes of people those constitutional rights which they brought into Confederation and that he recognize the role of the churches in education that began with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, when they built their first school in Newfoundland in 1723.

Mr. Speaker, the churches have been involved in education for a long, long time. The government should recognize that role, they should stand by their word, don't say one thing in March and by their actions, say something different in November and December. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MS. YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of 1,278 residents of the District of Terra Nova. The prayer of the petition reads as follows:

`To the hon. House of Assembly in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the District of Terra Nova humbly showth,

Whereas the name of the District of Terra Nova offers a reminder of our historic past and bright future; and

Whereas the communities in the District of Terra Nova share a common economy based in the forestry, agriculture and tourism industries; and

Whereas the tourism industry offers special opportunities associated with Terra Nova National Park, Terra Nova Lodge and other opportunities capitalizing on the Terra Nova identity; and

Whereas the current boundaries provide our MHA with the best possible combination of communities, population and distance to provide constituents with needed service; and notwithstanding a recognition of the need to reduce the number of seats in the House of Assembly and our acceptance of an expanded District of Terra Nova;

Wherefore the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon you to reconsider the proposals of the Electoral Boundaries Commission, with regard to maintaining the integrity of the District of Terra Nova, and as duty-bound, your petitioners will ever pray.'

As well, the residents of the community of Brooklyn presented a petition when the Electoral Boundaries Commission met in Clarenville. That petition had an identical prayer to the one presented today. I would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that I will be advising the Electoral Boundaries Commission of this petition. Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition on behalf of a total of 695 residents of St. John's, some students and some parents, from the areas of Forest Road, Cuckhold's Cove Road, Quidi Vidi Village, the Battery and Signal Hill in St. John's.

The petition of the undersigned citizens of the electoral district of St. John's East states that the students of Gonzaga High School from Forest Road, Cuckhold's Cove Road, Quidi Vidi Village, the Battery and Signal Hill in the City of St. John's request a school bus to pick them up in their neighbourhood, to take them to and from school, as it takes one-and-a-half hours to walk to school, and to take the Metrobus requires three bus transfers in order to get to school. The cost of the bus is too expensive for most families in the area. The petitioners respectfully request that the House take such action as may be deemed appropriate.

This petition, Mr. Speaker, was referred earlier in Question Period, and of the sixty students who are affected by this, some fifteen of them are here in the gallery today. The school bus situation for these students is very serious. These students - I have met with them - have to walk a great distance in all kinds of weather. Some of them are able to get, I guess it is a lift, really, on an existing bus that is not really supposed to take them, and some of them manage to get to school within the first twenty minutes after school has started. They are late for school, they are disrupting classes. It is causing problems for themselves, with their school work, and for other students. Many students have to walk to school for an hour-and-a-half and the weather that we have been having leaves them arriving in school soaking wet. Some of them have to turn around and go home because they are too wet to attend school.

This problem is only going to get worse as the winter weather progresses. We are going to have students dropping out of school. That is a concern expressed by these students. If these students lived in Mount Pearl, as the Member for Mount Pearl knows, or if they lived in the Goulds, or if they lived in Torbay, or any other part of this Province, in Grand Falls or Corner Brook, they would get school busing provided by the Department of Education. It is not available to students as a right in St. John's. They are required to use the St. John's transportation system. In this particular case, the bus routes are not effective. They don't provide an adequate service. The students can't get to school on time with the buses, even taking three buses, and getting the first bus at 6:45 a.m., and this is right here in the city of St. John's. It calls out for a solution from government. It is a situation that has been allowed to operate for the last number of years. Students in St. John's are expected to pay directly - they or their parents pay directly for the cost of buses. It is quite expensive. A school bus pass costs $25 per month, and it is a burden on parents, particularly if they have more than one student in school. And, in this case here, the St. John's transportation system is inadequate to meet the need.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there are, as the minister has said in his remarks in Question Period, school bus contracts in St. John's. Students from Brophy Place are bused to Gonzaga High School. Students from Virginia Park, along Newfoundland Drive, are bused to St. Paul's and other schools. So there are some school bus contracts in St. John's for various reasons, various agreements that have been made, various special arrangements. What we are looking for here, Mr. Speaker, what this petition is looking for, is some arrangement that will look after the needs of these sixty students.

We are looking at, I guess, one school bus or one school bus contract to take students from Quidi Vidi, from the Battery, from the Signal Hill Road area, that neighbourhood, I guess it is around St. Joseph's Church, around St. Joseph's parish. Hon. members will know of this area. It is a very scenic area but it is also a very windswept area particularly in the winter, coming up out of Quidi Vidi and Maxwell Place along Forest Road, the wind sweeps down over the Quidi Vidi Lake and in a bitter cold winter many students have turned back, went back to their homes because they were unable to walk to school when the winter weather gets worse, so it is a problem, Mr. Speaker, a very serious and a very real problem, suffered by real individuals, some of whom are in the gallery suffer every day when they have to walk to school. It is not right that these individuals be treated one way whereas students everywhere else in the Province are treated in another way, so I ask hon. members for their support for this petition.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in support of my friend, the NDP Leader, from St. John's East. There is an old saying that `kids is kids', and we all know what some people in this Island and around, not only in St. John's, lived in the shadows of schools or what they had to go to. Now in my own history, I used to live in the shadow of the school and I was an idler, I used to try to get wet so I would be sent home, but that was my fault. I do not like the idea of youngsters who trudge off to school to be soaking wet and to go through the discomfort of having wet clothes or to be late and interrupt classes or try to catch up themselves.

Youngsters are youngsters and they should be treated as such and I was glad about what the Member for St. John's East said about one bus driver who was not supposed to pick up some children, who did. Well, to him, a Merry Christmas, but I hope the minister puts Scrooge aside and does something for those children from St. Joseph's and area, and accommodates these kids as well.

Thank you.

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

MR. PENNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition from approximately 170 students from the Ralph Laite Pentecostal Academy in Lewisporte. Mr. Speaker, this is not of the approved form; I have shown it to the two House Leaders and I have shown it to Your Honour and I will ask leave of the House to continue?


MR. PENNEY: The petition basically just says: Please sign our petition if you are in favour of keeping our denominational school system as it is, but attached to that, is a letter addressed to me, and it says:

Dear Mr. Penney: You visited our Grade VI class a while ago. We asked some questions concerning the government's proposal to do away with our denominational school system as it is today. Your reply was, that you would be against such a move. I know you are only one member to speak on our behalf in the House of Assembly, but please voice our concerns on this topic especially.

It seems to be the biggest concern on teachers, students and parents minds. Everyone I have talked to so far had not wanted the present system to go. We are very concerned. I know I am only in Grade VI, but we all have a right to be heard; after all, our forefathers fought for freedom of our land and I think that making our own choices was included in what they fought for. Three of my friends and I are circulating a petition on behalf of the elementary students who are in favour of keeping our schools the way they are. We are counting on you to make our petition known to the government and to the House.

Thank you very much for your help in this matter; and it is signed: Sincerely Yours, Leslie Pinksen and friends. Now, I have looked at the names, Mr. Speaker, and of the 170 signatures that are on the petition, I would conclude that probably twenty of them would be teachers, the others would be students.

I did in fact visit that Grade VI class a few weeks ago, probably five, six weeks ago and I found those students to be very impressive young men and young women. It is one thing to call them children or call them students, but they are tomorrow's leaders and based on what I saw from them that day, and the quality of the questions they asked and the dedicated manner in which they showed their concern, I have no doubt that our future is in good hands.

Mr. Speaker, I believe quite sincerely that our students today must receive a well-rounded education. It is not sufficient to educate them in the academics, we must instill in them moral values and a social conscience. It is not in the best interest of our society if we create well educated individuals who know their mathematics, their history and their geography. What we will have created would be well educated ignoramuses and I don't think that is to the benefit of our society.

The young man who wrote this letter says, and I quote, `I know I am only in Grade 6 but we all have a right to be heard.' Yes, Mr. Speaker, these young people are only in Grade 6 and they do have a right to be heard. They have just as much of a right to be heard as anybody who sits in this hon. House and, Mr. Speaker, they are being heard. When those individuals contact me their views are listened to, when they contact any of the members of this House of Assembly they are being heard, they are being listened to and their views are being presented here in this House on a daily basis. This petition, even though it is from a Grade 6 class, is no less important than any petition signed by any individual who lives in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we cannot have any form of an educational system in Newfoundland that somebody can point a finger at and say: that is a Godless secular system of education. We must not permit that to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don you support the petition?

MR. PENNEY: The hon. member asked: do I support the petition? Yes, Mr. Speaker, I do support the petition and I will be adding my signature to it. I believe what we have seen here, in the last few weeks, is we are now in a process of negotiation between the government and the churches - and I believe we can and we will arrive at a conclusion or a point that is acceptable to all parties, we will have formed -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. PENNEY: - an educational system here that will be the envy of the rest of this continent.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to lend my voice in support as well to the petition that has been presented by my colleague from the District of Lewisporte on behalf of the students there. I concur with some of the things that he has said with respect (a) to the need for change within the system, (b) for need to contain that change so as the integrity of the rights of the minorities and the majorities, both the constitutional and the historical rights are preserved and are kept so that the people who now enjoy them will still have the opportunity to enjoy them if they so desire.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it is incumbent upon the members of this House to do some work between now and the time that we come back in the spring. I think the message that we need to get out there is that there is, ongoing within the Province, a discussion that should be understood in the context of a willingness to negotiate or there should be a willingness to negotiate and to be conciliatory on both sides of this very important issue. There is a lot of misinformation out there, Mr. Speaker, and I think it is important that we get the truth out as it exists today.

I want to highlight that suggestion by referring to an incident that I had this week when I spoke in one of the schools of the city regarding the models that are under consideration. The understanding, Mr. Speaker, believe it or not of the teacher in that class, Canadian Issues class, the understanding of what was happening today in the Province is that we were discussing legislation that was before the House to be voted upon. Now, when the teachers in the classrooms of our Province do not know exactly where the debate is at the moment then it is sometimes difficult to have an informed, intelligent and reasonable debate about the issues. So in supporting the continuation of dialogue on this serious issue and in the spirit of encouraging all parties to be willing to come to the table and to be open minded, fair minded and conciliatory, I would ask that we, over the holiday season and over the time that expires between now and when the House meets again, take every opportunity that we get to first of all let the people know exactly where the discussion is at the moment, let them know exactly where we are in the stream of time and secondly to let them know that at the end of the day we will arrive at a position on this matter, a model that will be universally accepted within the Province, if we come without any prejudices, without any ill will, without any perception of what we think is going to happen. Let's come with an open mind and with a willing spirit to negotiate a model that will be acceptable to all.

If I thought we were not still talking I would not be standing today and speaking as I am, but I believe that we are in the spirit of wanting to reach a position that will make everybody happy, but more so even important than making everybody happy, we want to arrive at a point in education where the product that we turn out of the classrooms will be better because of the programs that we offer and because of the way in which we offer those programs and the people that deliver the programs to them.

Mr. Speaker, I again say that I support the spirit of the petition. I would ask that we all be responsible in being positive towards the dialogue in the few months ahead. We do not need people who are trying to set up strong and entrenched positions that give the indication that there is no room for movement. There is room for movement. There is room for a model that will be acceptable and that will get the job done. It will be, as I said when I spoke on this originally, done in a spirit of negotiation, not in a spirit of litigation or in a spirit of confrontation. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support the petition sent by Leslie Pinksen and friends, students at Ralph Laite Pentecostal Academy in Lewisporte. I find it interesting how the members are approaching this on the other side. They must find themselves in some kind of a difficult situation and position. Because clearly the impression out there by groups like this is that the government does intend in fact to tamper with the denominational education system. There is no denying that that is what is perceived.

If one reads Altering the Course or whatever that document is called one can easily see why they would draw that conclusion, because there are threats in that document to the denominational educational system regardless of what the minister does try to say. That is why Leslie Pinksen and friends and others are putting together these petitions. That is the reason why they are doing it.

I had the privilege as well of attending a session at Ralph Laite Pentecostal Academy some time last year, I guess it was, in the spring of the year before the election. At that time colleagues may remember this issue was just as hot then as it is now. It was on the heels of the Williams Royal Commission. At that time there was a lot of concern expressed about certain recommendations in that Williams Royal Commission. The recommendations that everybody was concerned about, or most people seemed to be concerned about, were the very recommendations that we now find filtered into this document, Adjusting the Course. So the concerns are there now as they were last year.

Why those concerns haven't been alleviated, if it is the government's intention not to tamper with the denominational education system, as the Minister of Education said yesterday in this House, why then didn't they use the period of time over the last year to correct the perception about this whole problem? Why is it there again? Why is it up again, I ask the Member for Lewisporte, and the Member for St. John's North? He is asking for more consultation, more dialogue. We should have that, I agree with him. Why hasn't that dialogue and so on occurred over the last year or so since this original recommendation to tamper with the denominational system first appeared in the Williams Royal Commission?

The fact of the matter is that the government very neatly, a week before the election last March, gave the impression that they were prepared to reach an agreement by consensus, that they were prepared not to tamper with the denominational education system. Having said all of that, Mr. Speaker, six months later, after the election is over, they come back into the House with their document and they do precisely what was recommended in the Williams Royal Commission of the year before, which everybody opposed back six or seven months ago.

So I say to the Member for Lewisporte, and to the Member for St. John's North, who just spoke in support of this petition from Leslie Pinksen, be more adamant within your caucus, be more outspoken outside your caucus, on this issue. If people like you do that, on the government side, then we can assure all the denominations who have concerns that the educational system can be restructured, can be reformed, but it can be done within the constitutional jurisdiction that now is in existence, and all of us, as members of the House, if we do not do anything else, surely we should stand up and defend the constitutional rights that people of this Province have, whether it is denominational education or whatever else.

I support the petition.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition, not on the educational subject for a change. It is a matter that I brought before this House, I guess, every year since I was elected in 1989. It reads as follows:

We, the undersigned residents of Jackson's Cove, Langdon's Cove, Silverdale and Nickey's Nose Cove, hereby petition the hon. House of Assembly to pave the remaining thirteen kilometres of road on the Jackson's Cove, Harry's Harbour Road. We are shocked and concerned at the continued neglect and poor maintenance of our road by the government.

Mr. Speaker, this was a road that was essentially a path that was rebuilt in the eighties. In the late eighties pavement was started on this road, and as soon as the Liberal government came to power, pavement stopped on this road. In spite of protestations by myself, in spite of students in the gallery from the area, in spite of other petitions, nothing has been done on that road. As a matter of fact, the current Minister of Works, Services and Transportation wrote me back awhile ago and said that basically a gravel road is good enough for those people and they should not expect any more.

Well that is not good enough and I stand again, for the fifth or sixth year running, and ask that this government do the right and proper thing and finish paving the road to Harry's Harbour and Jackson's Cove.

Thank you.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As transportation critic, I rise in support of my colleague, the Member for Green Bay. On similar occasions since I took my seat here, back in June I rose to support the Member for Fogo, opposite, in his petition to get road work done in his district. In the past two weeks I rose here to support a member from the other side, from Eagle River, to get road work done in Lodge Bay.

I am supporting a petition from a man from Green Bay, some road work to be done over a thirteen kilometre area, and I am standing here to support the Member for Green Bay to get that thirteen kilometre area done. It has been six years, the man said. Six years is too long. I ask the members opposite, when budget time comes up, to take a serious look and to accommodate that area that has been so long in want.

Once again, I thank the member for bringing it forward, and I thank you for the opportunity of hearing my support.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, before we get into the debate, may I move that the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m. please?

Motion carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Menihek that I made the motion because I hope we will get home for Christmas, but that is with him and his colleagues.

Mr. Speaker, could we please begin by calling Order No. 8 which is Bill No. 48, the adjourned debate on the Electoral Boundaries Act, and when that is done we will go on to An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act, and when that is done we will go on to An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act, and whenever that happens we will go home.

AN HON. MEMBER: Second reading.

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend for Grand Bank, `open covenants openly arrived at', in Woodrow Wilson's phrase. He and I agreed last night that when the three bills receive second reading we will adjourn the House and come back tomorrow morning and deal with the rest of the Order Paper.

Thank you, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West was last speaking when we adjourned debate on Tuesday.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I suggest to the Government House Leader that when himself and my colleague for Grand Bank decide to talk about when the House closes as it relates to the discussion on bills they should not exclude the Member for St. John's East because he may have a lot to say as to when the House adjourns. I understand he probably will.


MR. TOBIN: The leadership candidate, Mr. Speaker.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Is that who it is, the leadership candidate?

MR. TOBIN: The $6 million leadership fund that he just spent and never gave the Member for Pleasantville a penny.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Member for St. John's North that I would think he is probably one of the reasons why we are standing in this Legislature today to discuss this bill, because together with him and a lot of others the District of St. John's North, Mr. Speaker, was no longer going to be the District of St. John's North, but as a result of the fuss kicked up by the Member for St. John's North on this issue and by other members from the St. John's area the Government House Leader who only a few weeks ago got up in this Legislature and said: I cannot make representation to the commission. He finally got in his car and got outside the overpass, believe it or not, he really did, he went to Clarenville and made the submission, away from the media and the attention that was going to be passed. What did he say? He asked the commission on behalf of the Cabinet to throw away everything they have done and the $250,000 they spent, throw it away because it is no longer any good. The act which we passed in this House that became the law of the Province -

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible)

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Member for Exploits that I would rather stay away from the Mall than get his reputation. In any case I understand the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, like myself, does not enjoy doing a lot of shopping.

MR. SULLIVAN: His exploits are well documented.

MR. TOBIN: I cannot say that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. TOBIN: I am not saying that either.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not saying what?

MR. TOBIN: What they want me to say.

I want to get into discussion on this bill, and I would appreciate it if the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations would stop trying to distract me from getting into what is going on here in exposing the government for what is taking place. What is happening here, Mr. Speaker, is that the government asked the commission to be established, gave them $250,000 to go around the Province and have public hearings, and at the end of the day, through this piece of legislation, the work they had done through the law of the land that they had abided by will be thrown out the window and $250,000 wasted. What is now happening is the Minister of Justice and this government are asking the taxpayers of this Province to forget the condition of the economy, but to ensure that there is 12,000 people in every district in the City of St. John's. Mr. Speaker, 12,000 people in the district of St. John's. Under the proposal that was submitted by the commission a little while ago you would have seen an average of 17,000 in every riding in St. John's. Any member worth his salt in the City of St. John's should be able to represent 17,000 people. They should not be in asking the government to reduce it to 12,000.

MR. BAKER: You have to be fair to St. John's.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Gander would know a lot about it, representing the little town of Gander. One town and another one. Ask the Member for St. Barbe what it is like to represent a district in rural Newfoundland. Ask the Member for Fortune - Hermitage what is it like to represent districts in Newfoundland. I can say that it is a lot easier to represent 27,000 in St. John's than it is to represent the District of Fortune - Hermitage. That is what I would say to members opposite. A lot easier.


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I know the people of St. John's don't know it either, because most of them don't even have representation according to the calls we get, particularly from St. John's North.


MR. TOBIN: Anyway, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is now trying to throw me off. Because I'm exposing the government for coming in here and playing politics. The Premier gets up in this House, or the Minister of Finance, whoever it was, and announced in the Budget that because of the economic conditions in this Province the House of Assembly had to be reduced. We on this side endorsed that.

Then, next thing we know, the Minister of Justice is telling the people that: I cannot get involved. Before we know it he slips out to Clarenville, says: pop it up to forty-six members at least. Look after the boys and girls in St. John's, Mr. Speaker.

MR. BAKER: I believe he went in an unmarked car, too.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, unless it was like the one the Minister of Employment and Labour Relation used to go playing golf in.

In the District of Burin - Placentia West, for example, for the last number of years I've represented it. Under the existing distribution there are 14,388 people. I believe I can say that I've done a half-decent job in representing those 14,388 people in the District of Burin - Placentia West. They have elected me and sent me here four times. Why is it that I can represent a district that spreads probably 100 miles, isolated communities in this Province, only way to get there is by air or by water, and yet the Minister of Justice comes in here and asks the House to approve a plan that will give 12,000 constituents to the members of St. John's? In every district this is what they will end up with - around 12,000 for the ridings in St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many are in your district now?

MR. TOBIN: In my district, under the proposal?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, under it now.

MR. TOBIN: Now, 14,388. Under the proposal it would be basically the same. Actually, it is an interesting point. The only district that the commission has reduced in the Province when they brought it down to forty was mine. They took it from 14,388 to 14,189. I've asked them to increase it. That is what I said to the commission, Mr. Speaker, I say to members opposite.

That the only district in this Province as I know that the commission recommended a decrease in constituents was in the District of Burin - Placentia West. Do you know what I did? I went to the commission and said: don't reduce the number of constituents in my district, increase it, put it back up where it was. Because I believe that we should be representing in this Province at least 14,000 people, I would say to members opposite. If I can represent 14,000 people in isolated communities -


MR. TOBIN: I can say to the Minister of Health that the constituents that I've been elected to represent have always re-elected me, unlike what they did to him, Mr. Speaker, when they gave him the boot, when they kicked him out because of his lack of representation. I would say that. To judge whether you are doing the job or not, Mr. Speaker, is whether you have been re-elected. In my case I have always been - in the case of the Minister of Health, he knows what it is like to be defeated, that is the difference.

What I have done, Mr. Speaker, is go to the commission and say: don't reduce the number of constituents in Burin - Placentia West, put it back up to where it was. Mr. Speaker, while I am doing that and accepting part of the responsibility in looking after the taxpayers dollars in this Province, the Minister of Justice is introducing a new piece of legislation to make sure that the City of St. John's has members and their constituents will be in the area of 12,000 people. I think that is wrong, Mr. Speaker. There are other members here; the Member for Fogo, the Member for the Strait of Belle Isle, sitting in his chair, St. Barbe, the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, Bellevue, Mr. Speaker, a lot of districts in this House wouldn't mind having 12,000. When you walk out through your door, Mr. Speaker, 6:00 a.m. or 7:00 a.m. you can say I visited the district. We don't have that luxury, most of us representing rural Newfoundland, nor do we want it. We like out living with the people we represent, we like out mingling with our constituents but I say to the Minister of Health, when he is closing hospital beds in this Province, Mr. Speaker, how can he in all conscience turn around and get the Minister of Justice to ask that he represent only 12,000 people? That is what I say to the Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, this is another sham, that is what it is. The Premier comes in one day and the Minister of Finance says one thing and the next day they are changing it all. Something like prior to October 25, all we heard from the Liberals in this Province is that the NCARP package will stay.

MR. GRIMES: What has that got to do with this?

MR. TOBIN: I am exposing the lies, Mr. Speaker. The NCARP package will not continue, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and he is one of the authors of it`s death. I would like to say other things about the Minister of Finance coming in and promising one thing and changing it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you know what you are talking about?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I do. I know the Minister of Finance doesn't know how to tell the truth and that is knowing what I am talking about. Does the Minister of Finance support his brother and the crowd in Ottawa increasing the UI by $800 million today, does he support that? At the same time as he is asking the people of the Province, Mr. Speaker, and the rest of Canada to increase their UI premiums by $800 million.

MR. ROBERTS: The sad thing is, he is the best speaker they had over there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: At least we have one good speaker. You don't have either one and you are the worse.

MR. TULK: Sign that and get your book.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm signing for a book whatever that means. I hope it is not another one, Mr. Speaker, written by Doug House and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, I say to the people of this Province. I can say as we talk about the electoral boundaries and how they are going to change - I say what is in the electoral boundaries, Mr. Speaker, won't matter a whole lot. When this book here gets into action, what is going to happen to fish plant workers and the fishermen in Harbour Breton, I say to members opposite, what is it going to matter to them about the electoral boundaries?

MR. GRIMES: Have you read that?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I have read it. What is it going to matter to them, Mr. Speaker, when they realize that the government has wiped out - the people of Harbour Breton this year are going to get work, thank God, Mr. Speaker, and there is no one happier than I am for the people of Harbour Breton. What is happening is that they will not get UI because there is no UI left for fishermen if the plant does not operate for twenty weeks and if it happens to operate for twenty weeks, they will only get twenty weeks UI. What is in the Electoral Boundaries Act for the people of Port au Port, the fishermen and fisherwomen in Port au Port when the UI program is wiped out? What is in the Electoral Boundaries Act in this parcel here, Mr. Speaker, for the fishermen in the Straits of Bell Island or for the people from Labrador? What is in this for the people of Bonavista South, in the Electoral Boundaries Act for Bonavista North? Nothing, Mr. Speaker, nothing.

MR. TULK: Don't forget Fogo.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, I won't forget Fogo. The people of Fogo will never forget you either when this is implemented. Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the new leadership candidate, Premier Grimes as he likes to be referred to -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It has a nice ring about it.

MR. TOBIN: - Premier Grimes, there will be one ring about it I tell you that, if the future Premier Grimes happens to end up in the ring, I will say to the Minister of Justice, if Mr. Grimes, in the battle for the Premiership of this Province ends up in the ring with the Minister of Justice, there will be a great ring about Premier Grimes, it will ring loud and clear.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is time for someone to set him straight because he has done some disservice to the name, but in any case -

MR. ROBERTS: Well, if you have a point, make it.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I have a point and I would love to make it. The point that has to be made is that this minister, the Minister of Justice, has gone back to the days when he was groomed in politics, where nothing was important, back to the days when there was no such thing as local preferences, back to the days when there was no such thing as lowest bid, back to the days when there was no Tendering Act, back to the days when you looked after your buddies, that is where this Minister of Justice has taken this Province as it relates to the Electoral Boundaries Commission; who does he think he is, to come in this House and say: bring up the City of St. John's to 12,000 constituents per district? Who does he think he is, Mr. Speaker? His training -

AN HON. MEMBER: Heave it out of you, brother, heave it out.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, in most cases, I do heave it. Unlike the Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, he usually takes it in. The Minister of Justice usually takes it in.


MR. ROBERTS: I have dealt with better than the hon. member, but carry on.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I have dealt with better people too than the Minister of Justice. As a matter of fact, the Minister of Justice might not realize it but this Province continued and this House operated during his absence. He might not believe that, that is why -

MR. ROBERTS: Is that true, Winston?

Is what he said true?

AN HON. MEMBER: What did he say?

MR. TOBIN: I would say, unlike the Minister of Justice, what I say is true and what I say, Mr. Speaker, like the Member for Grand Bank in this House, we will say it outside and we will never be intimidated if someone challenges us to say it outside; never, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, I am not attacking, no I am not; but I am like the Member for Grand Bank, I will say what has to be said and I will not be intimidated by someone who threatens me to say it outside, I would say to the Minister of Justice.

Why, why did the Minister of Justice foul up last year then, Mr. Speaker, why did he bring in an act last year and ask us to approve it, which we did and this year bring it in and change it? Why did he ask?

MR. SULLIVAN: There was an election coming up.

MR. TOBIN: Sure it was done for election purposes; why did the Minister of Justice tear up the act and waste $250,000 of taxpayers' money? This piece of legislation will do just that, waste $250,000 because now the commission -


MR. TOBIN: Yes it is, yes it is, Mr. Speaker, it is a big shame when you consider the hospitals in this Province that are closing; when you consider that someone in Grand Bank died a few months ago because there was not a nurse available to go in the ambulance, because of the cutbacks. When you consider that, Mr. Speaker, and realize that we have wasted $250,000 on an election campaign, on an election issue, saying forty seats and then turning around after the election - I agree with the Minister of Finance, it is a bloody shame. With debts in this Province because of cutbacks, yet we can spend -

MR. GRIMES: Your time is up.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, he might want to be the Premier, but I didn't know he wanted to be the Speaker. The Speaker will decide when my time is up, not the aspiring Premier.

MR. ROBERTS: That put you in your place, `Roger'.

MR. TOBIN: Every time I refer to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations as being an aspiring Premier, or future Premier, the Minister of Justice become irritated. Why, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: I would say to the Minister of Justice that his shot at becoming Premier of this Province is long in the past.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Who shot him, `Glenn'? Tell us the story about who shot him down.

MR. ROBERTS: In that, I have something in common with the gentleman for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker, he hasn't. I never ran for the leadership.

MR. ROBERTS: I know `Len' is looking over his shoulder all the time.

MR. TOBIN: I have never run for the leadership of a political party, I say to the Minister of Justice, but you should have looked over your shoulder a little bit closer when you were cuddling up to Bill Rowe and Steve Neary and a few of them, I say to the minister. You should have looked over your shoulder a little bit closer then. You got the fate you deserve, and there is no one more proud than I am.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Justice: What is wrong with the recommendations that were made?

MR. ROBERTS: Which recommendations?

MR. TOBIN: The forty-seat recommendation they proposed, went around this Province and had hearings on, that saw 17,000 people assigned to their ridings in St. John's?

MR. SULLIVAN: Unanimous approval here in the House.

MR. TOBIN: Unanimously approved in the House, I say to the Minister of Justice.

What is wrong with having 17,000 people in a riding in St. John's? What is wrong with it, I ask the minister?

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman is against one person, one vote; is that it?

MR. TOBIN: No, I am not against one person, one vote. I am for democracy, and that is not what you are for, when you tore up the Terms of Reference. I have my doubts about you having the right to vote, the conflict you are after being in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I have four minutes left, and I would suspect there is a good chance the Minister of Justice may recommend I have leave.

MR. ROBERTS: I would gladly grant the hon. gentleman leave (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I want to ask the Minister of Justice to explain clearly, when he gets up, and I say this sincerely, why he wants to change back to forty-six seats from the forty that are recommended. Why does he want to set the population of a district at 12,000? What happens to the South Coast, to the Burin Peninsula, for example, where if you take the Burin Peninsula side of Fortune Bay - the Fortune Bay Side of the Burin Peninsula -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, I say to the Minister of Finance, once you take away the Fortune Bay part of the Burin Peninsula -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I also say to the Minister of Justice, when you look at the Burin Peninsula - just take that for an example - take away my colleague's Fortune Bay part of Fortune - Hermitage, the Burin Peninsula side, and put it in Burin - Placentia West or Grand Bank, or you divide it by two down the middle, you are still not going to fall within the guidelines of 12,000 people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, if you say 10,000 - if you take the 10 per cent factor there - you will not fit in with the guidelines either, either in Burin - Placentia or Grand Bank district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there is only one way you can do that, and that is if you revert to the old system which, I think, is probably there, and say that in certain circumstances you can look at a 25 per cent ratio.

Now what is happening here is, I would say to members opposite, that 25 per cent ratio will apply only in rural Newfoundland. The districts like Burin - Placentia West, Fortune - Hermitage, or Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, or the Straits or St. Barbe, or Grand Bank, Mr. Speaker, or Bonavista South, they are the districts that that 25 per cent will apply to. Within the city limits, within the big urban centres of St. John's, Corner Brook and Mount Pearl, and all of these places, I will venture to bet that you will see less than 13,000 people per district. I think that is wrong. I think it is unfair.


MR. GRIMES: That is right.

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Employment says that is right. Well, I don't think it is.

MR. GRIMES: Nothing wrong with it.

MR. TOBIN: Nothing wrong with it. Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is right, I say to members opposite. And I say to the Minister of Justice, it is very important that these changes he is now making should not be made strictly to satisfy his colleagues in the city of St. John's. They should not be made.

I ask that someone with a bit of common sense, a bit of decency and a bit of honour - if there is anyone over there like that, if there is anyone over there who fits into that category - to sit down some day and take a serious look at what is happening here. Because I don't think for a minute that the Member for St. John's North should have 12,000 in his seat, in the City of St. John's, when just say, for example, the Member for Bonavista North would have 14,000 or 15,000 in his.

MR. GRIMES: Sit down now before you make a fool of yourself. You don't want to make a fool of yourself, sit down.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, that is why the hon. member is sitting, he has already made a fool of himself.

MR. ROBERTS: In conclusion.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, in conclusion, I say to the Minister of Justice: What does he propose - why does he say, prior to an election, that forty seats is enough in this Province, and after the election why does he goes to Clarenville and ask for forty-six?

MR. GRIMES: He didn't say it.

MR. TOBIN: That is the question. Why the hypocrisy, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SULLIVAN: He saw the report.

MR. TOBIN: Why the hypocrisy?

MR. GRIMES: Ask him.

MR. TOBIN: I am asking the Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker. By the way, the Minister of Justice doesn't have to take direction from you yet. I am asking the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, I don't know. My friend over there (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: He is no friend of yours, according to what I'm hearing, Mr. Speaker.

In conclusion, my time is up -


MR. TOBIN: I know I'm speaking by leave. (Inaudible).

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I ask the Minister of Justice to respond to these questions when he gets up.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, could I have leave from the House to respond to a question that came up in Question Period today?


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

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is asking leave to address the House on a matter that was raised during Question Period, I understand. Does the hon. minister have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, this -

MR. ROBERTS: Now, remember, we are supporting this bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible). We are not in committee.

MR. FUREY: Even when I try to speak. Mr. Speaker -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) second reading now you are on.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have thirty minutes.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: On Bill No. 48.

MR. FUREY: That is alright. We have all day.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have to keep it narrow.

MR. FUREY: That is right. I would like to narrow it, in fact, Mr. Speaker, and talk about the seat of Grand Bank and what impact this particular bill has on the seat of Grand Bank.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: In fact, Mr. Speaker, we sent him a foot, we should have sent him a boot, really, instead of a foot the last time.

In fact, the member from time to time raises some interesting points about his district. I want to make sure that his district is intact so that he can survive, so that anybody who worries about voting Tory down there will know they will never be penalized or - this is not a punitive government. That it will treat everybody with a sense of fairness and balance. Now, how can I use an example? Where could I find an example? Let's take Question Period today. There was an interesting question. My hon. friend tabled a document, and the document was a letter to the President of Enterprise Newfoundland, from the acting vice-president in Clarenville.

In it, in fact, he proposes to send these documents to the minister to review. I want to tell my hon. friend that he never did send those documents. In effect, I spoke with him just a little while ago. He regrets having said what he said in this memo, but let me tell you what was the true meaning of the memo.

They elected PC's in their riding and face an uphill battle. He has spent considerable time working with the Grand Meadows Golf Association himself. He has worked very hard to try to pull this project off. It was shortly after the election when a number of applications were made, indeed, to ENL, as well, and some people in the hon. member's district felt that because they voted Tory -


MR. FUREY: This is true - because they voted Tory, they were going to be somehow hurt by this government. In fact, the very project that my colleague, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, refers to, they approved it for $25,000 for seven jobs - the very project that he was worried about.

Let me make a second point. That is called fairness and balance, Mr. Speaker, and that is one of the higher amounts of those emergency projects.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why is he unhappy?

MR. FUREY: He thinks there is some kind of political interference when the fellow that he named in the House has been very dedicated to this project - very, very dedicated.

Now, let me make a second point. Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, the very outfit you charged for political patronage today because it is a Tory district, had approved $100,000 for this very project, in the hon. member's district. They approved it in 1992. The association couldn't use the funds because they couldn't get money from ACOA, run by your colleagues in Ottawa at that time, and other agencies.

Now let me tell him something else. They have re-applied to Enterprise Newfoundland, and I can't prejudge the board, but I would suspect that they will reinstitute that $100,000 and I would also suspect that ACOA will be in with its share, as well.

So when you see things in writing sometimes, it can be awfully misleading. When he says: `I propose to send it to the minister,' it never arrived at the minister's desk - number one. Number two -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, he spoke to her briefly on the telephone. She recalls speaking about the project -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Why did he speak to her?

MR. FUREY: To let her know that this was coming. It never did come. Now let's be fair about this. Let's be fair and honourable about it.

So when he goes on to say: `They elected PCs in their riding and face an uphill battle', that is what he was talking about. He says that some people were worried because it was shortly after the election -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is a good `out'.

MR. FUREY: I am being honest with you. I am being honest with people. If they don't want it, they don't want it, but the proof is in the pudding, Mr. Speaker. Twenty-five thousand from the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, $100,000 from the minister responsible for ENL; that is pretty good.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, but my point is that it was done in 1992. I don't know if my friend for Grand Falls is getting a little old and cannot hear, but I said -


MR. FUREY: I don't know if he didn't hear me earlier -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think that is a slight on all of us in this Province with hearing disabilities to refer to a member, because he cannot hear, as getting old. I think the minister should apologize and withdraw that comment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: There are a lot of young people in this Province with hearing disabilities, and I am sure the minister didn't mean that they are all old. All he has to do is look at myself and the Minister of Finance.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, if I have offended anybody with that comment, I withdraw it and I apologize.

At any rate, Mr. Speaker, I think that should clarify for my hon. friend. If he has another question on the issue, I would be most happy to respond to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: The explanation to the question was honest. Honesty is something that is pretty foreign to a lot of members on the other side.

AN HON. MEMBER: What clause is it?

MR. FUREY: Santa Claus.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Mr. Speaker, to speak to the bill and to narrow it down to the hon. member's seat, I should also say that my hon. friend for Burin - Placentia West had some interesting comments to make earlier, too, about income security. He was making some statements that somehow the income security program is bad and nobody is treating his district correctly, and there was a whole wide range of attack that I heard.

MR. BAKER: Against it all, he is against the whole thing.

MR. FUREY: Against everything. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, my concluding remarks are to say that if this were on the Order Paper, time to respond to questions, which it isn't, that would be my response.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

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

I, as well, would like to rise to speak to Bill No. 48, "An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act".

I thank the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology for speaking to the bill, for being so relevant to certain clauses in the bill. I will attempt to be the same. Because he is very worried about the District of Grand Bank, and I thank the minister for that. We have witnessed that the last four or five years, how worried he has been about the district, I say to him, quite sincerely.

I have to give the minister credit, you know. How you can twist things! How you can try to twist a memo from the acting vice-president to the president, when quite clearly it said: We have been approached by the Grand Meadows Golf Association to assist in their emergency employment funding application to Employment and Labour Relations. They elected PCs. Not: they said they elected PCs, not they insinuated because they elected PCs. Old Rod said: they elected PCs in their riding and face an uphill battle.

MR. SIMMS: Who, Rod?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is what he said.

MR. SIMMS: He is a Tory now (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Now, you can't twist that - oh yes, now he is a Tory. Perhaps he is. Perhaps they were.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible). You should be angry with him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I'm not - angry with this gentleman? Is he gone? He is gone. If he is not, within the next three years he will be unemployed, I say to the Minister of Finance. If he is not gone now he will be gone - both of them.

MR. SIMMS: They were only doing what they were told.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Both of them will be gone. If they are not gone now, I would say I would start making arrangements of some kind, whether, Mr. Speaker, it is to run in a district, one of the districts that will fall under the new electoral boundaries act, I don't know, that they might run in to secure their future. But they had better.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is leaving, look.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He can't take it, he walks away, just like he was in the Stephenville Festival, when he went to drama school - stood there and acted and he walked off the stage, never to be heard tell of again until the next Stephenville Festival.

MR. SULLIVAN: McCurdy will take care of him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, oh, who? Who?

MR. SULLIVAN: `Danny'.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I can't talk about that man without wondering where he is, and where he would have been, of course, if it weren't for the change in this bill, Mr. Speaker, where he would have been if there hadn't been an amendment, if the Minister of Justice hadn't scuttled the Commission. They would really be saying: where is `Danny Dumaresque' now?

AN HON. MEMBER: `Daniel'.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Where would he be?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I wonder if the hon. member could take his seat until I inform the House of the Late Show questions?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: May I have a comment on that?


MR. W. MATTHEWS: I meant to speak to the Government House Leader about that. We have three questions in for the Late Show, and I was going to suggest to the Government House Leader that we forego that. Since we are making so much progress on government business, I was going to propose that we continue. I don't know if there is anyone over there who could - is it agreed?


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Is there anyone with any authority since the Premier is gone, the Minister of Justice is gone? Is that okay?


MR. SPEAKER: So we have an agreement then to forego the Late Show.



MR. W. MATTHEWS: Alright. Thank you. I just want to conclude by saying that I just question - I knew the minister wasn't aware of this today. I mean, I wouldn't expect - unless his e.a. went in and told him: we can expect a package up from `Jim' and `Rod'.

MR. DUMARESQUE: You were just being mischievous.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No I wasn't, really, I say to the Member for Eagle River. I asked the question first for a good reason. How much communication is there with the minister's office and his political staff from Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador? That is a legitimate question. Because when you read this you would certainly think that the minister and his staff - because it was an executive assistant that they contacted - was involved in approval or recommending approval for applications, I say to the member. It makes you quite suspicious, you know, especially when an acting vice-president makes reference to the way they voted in the area. It was that acting vice-president who made that reference, no one else. Why shouldn't I bring it up here? Because I hope it stops.

MR. BAKER: They had no business to make that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Precisely. I'm sure if he hasn't already been told that today he will be told by tomorrow, by the time - perhaps he will have a long weekend I say to the Minister of Finance.

MR. TOBIN: He was suppose to think it but not to write it.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is right. The big thing is, why did you put it in writing, Rod? You could have said what you like to Bruce, or to Jim, but you did not have to put it in the memo that was going to end up in Matthews' mailbox. That is the problem. I cannot help it when all those envelopes come into the office. I have about 200 up there that I have not even raised.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right under the books.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: They are not under the books that fell on your head I say to the minister. You are the one who told us about how the books fell on your head. Remember you told us that story and said you have not been the same since, which we all agree with, by the way.

Actually, I received this I say to the Member for Eagle River on October 27. I think that was when this showed up in my office with a little note attached to it. I do not know where it came from or who brought it.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Now, I say to the Member for Eagle River, if there is one in this House who should not give lectures on behaviour, how to handle matters, when to bring it to someone's attention, and when to break it to the press, it is the hon. member because he is just now starting to get his lumps, I say to him. He is finally being exposed for what he really is, a rabble rouser, a maverick, a loose cannon, a wimp, immature, on and on it goes, but having said that and it being the Christmas Season, I say sincerely to the Member for Eagle River that I hope he soon occupies a seat in the front benches. Even with all those adjectives to describe him he will be far better than some who are there now.

That is all I wanted to say, Mr. Speaker. I know I have strayed from the topic and I apologize for that but I just wanted to react to what the minister said. What I did today was no reflection on the minister and the minister knows that full well. If there are bureaucrats and officials out in Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, or anywhere else, who behave in such a manner, then they should be exposed and should be dealt with accordingly. At least that is the way I feel and that is why I did what I did today.

Thank you for your time.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and make a few comments relative to the bill under consideration.

AN HON. MEMBER: Julie got the Southlands back.

MR. HODDER: Good for Mayor Bettney. I laid the groundwork there and she is following through and doing a wonderful job. Congratulations to her. Mount Pearl is left in good hands. Now, if the member opposite had run his campaign better a few years ago in 1985 he would have gotten elected the first time when he ran in Mount Pearl. He was defeated when he ran in Mount Pearl in the municipal election. He came number seven or eight, something like that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was that?

MR. HODDER: The hon Member for Bellevue could not rank better than seventh or eighth when he ran in his first election in Mount Pearl. Mayor Bettney ran that time and she beat him soundly.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to make a couple of comments about the legislation. First of all I support the proposal to reduce the number of seats in this House, however, I do have some difficulties when we go out before an election and talk about reducing the seats from fifty-two down to forty, and then after we have gone to the people we come back and start procedures to put that up a little bit. This is not the first time, and members may not know, it is not the first time that a Liberal government decided they would reduce the number of seats. In fact in 1928 the Liberals of that day decided they would reduce the number of seats as well, from forty down to twenty-eight. In 1932 when the Liberals went to an election they found that people were not too pleased with them. In fact they didn`t get anyone elected other than in Green Bay, and I think it was Humber, and they were reduced to a party of two.

Mr. Speaker, we should know that the comments often made in this House are that the federal Conservative Party was the only party that ever, ever was reduced to a party of two. In fact, that is not true. In the 1932 election in Newfoundland, the government went from a Liberal majority under Sir Richard Squires, with twenty-four Liberals and twelve Conservatives, down to a total of twenty-eight with two Liberals elected in 1932. Of course they were, if people know Newfoundland history, Gordon Bradley who got elected in Humber on the slogan, `who put the hum on the Humber,' and we had Roland Starkes elected in Green Bay. So these were the only two Liberals elected. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, the omen is very much out and that is that the next House here will see a similar thing happen to my colleagues opposite. In fact, maybe putting more seats in St. John's will backfire. It backfired in 1932 and it might backfire in 1997.

Mr. Speaker, I agree with some of the principles that have been put forward. For example, the fact that rural municipalities should have a lower quotient, I think is quite agreeable. I have no difficulty at all with rural municipalities having a lower number of constituents than urban municipalities, particularly the urban municipalities in and around St. John's. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of logic to that. Each day when I leave here I can visit my constituency. It is accessible, it does not have the same kind of problems that many rural municipalities have and the workload is different. I do believe that we should recognize that particular fact.

Mr. Speaker, as well, I wanted to say that this variation of 10 per cent - I would even say to this House that the maximum variation should be even higher than that. We should allow for maybe 15 per cent. Dropping from 25 per cent as a lower limit is probably - it might be a little bit too high of a variation but certainly dropping it down to 10 per cent is probably again, a little too drastic. Maybe if we, in trying to recognize the principle of representation by population, we should consider all the factors that go into an MHAs workload, how it varies from urban to rural, how it varies from whether the communities are one or two communities and in my particular instance, as the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, I have two city councils. These city councils handle many of the constituent problems that would fill the day of many of my colleagues who represent rural municipalities. So therefore we handle different kinds of problems.

The other fact that I wanted to note going through, is the fact we must recognize as well that in certain parts of St. John's and Mount Pearl there is very much, a growing population. For example, the stats will show that since June of 1991, in Waterford - Kenmount alone the number of houses and the new residents moving into the St. John's part of that district number approximately 1200 to 1250. In the Mount Pearl part of that district the number of new residents since June of 1991, the last date of the census, is about 800 to 900. So if you look at the data that is already there, using 1991 data, by 1993, only two years into the ten year review, we would find that already the population of Waterford - Kenmount has increased by approximately 2,000.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know the difficulty in trying to select a base year, you have to select the data, the census year and we understand that. However, in looking at representation by population and looking at the 10 per cent variation, we also think that the House in its final deliberations should look at some of the growth that has occurred since the last census and also to look at the projection for growth that will occur over the next few years.

Mr. Speaker, there is one other point I wanted to make and that is the fact that, if we are doing the reduction in members in order to economize on I guess the taxpayers dollars, if we are doing it for that reason, then we must be aware of the fact that we do not want to get into a situation where members have a workload that will cause them to have the need for assistance and that kind of thing. In other words, you cannot save it in the House of Assembly and then have to spend it when we come to get support staff.

I want to just say again, that as far as I can see with this particular change up to forty-six, it is suspect, people are saying that this is to accommodate members on the government side, we certainly have heard that and the Minister of Justice, will, I am certain, respond to that; he has made notes of that particular matter and with these comments, I thank you for the time.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome the opportunity today to speak on, Bill 48, An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act.

The question that I have is, what is the purpose of bringing in the act?... and I have come up with three possible reasons. One is financial, one is efficiency and the other is public perception. I believe that the financial savings in reducing the number of members in the House of Assembly from fifty-two to forty-six will be minimal in regards to the loss of the type of representation that people have been used to. I am concerned about the numbers being based on population only, and it is in that regard that I speak today on behalf of St. Mary's - The Capes.

My district encompasses thirty-one separate communities, twenty-odd councils, four development associations, twelve fire departments, recreation committees and the list goes on. It takes me approximately three hours to drive from one end of my district to the other and many times it is hard to get around and meet the people as much as I would like to, due to the fact that my district is 100 per cent rural.

Geography should, as far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, be taken into consideration in re-aligning the districts and not just population only. I run into many problems in my office, Mr. Speaker, that have to do with council matters, different department matters that I am sure if it were an urban area, these matters would be brought to the council's desk and not to mine. The indication is that people had been used to calling on their MHA to help them out whenever possible, and I guess that has been a tradition and people have been used to it and that is why they continue to do so, but the fact that in the urban parts of Newfoundland such as St. John's and Mount Pearl, many of the problems that I deal with, I believe are deal with at a council level. Not diminishing the workload of members from St. John's and Mount Pearl, but just to highlight that I receive approximately thirty-five to forty calls each day concerning everything from garbage collection to unemployment, to housing and everything else that comes with it.

Will less MHAs save the public purse a large number of dollars? I have to question that because, if they have x running as is and if the people come back with forty-six MHAs, or forty-four or forty-two, whatever the case may be, there is a possibility that there may be some more support staff needed and in that sense, Mr. Speaker, in the overall look at things then, will money be saved or will it just be passed on from one to the other? Basically I'm concerned about the financial implications for the Province in having fifty-two MHAs, and the financial savings to the Province by reducing to forty-four or forty-six or whatever the case may be.

The efficiency may not be brought about by reducing the members in the House for the simple reason that larger geographical areas such as my own, and the possibility of enlarging them to bring in more smaller communities, than the plight that these communities are facing these days, especially with the closedown of the fishery, et cetera, the efficiency that will be brought forward by the new recommendations may not be the answer to the problems that they are facing at the time.

I believe that it is important that we try as much as we can to keep the personal touch with our constituents as much as possible. I have been trying to do that since I was elected in May. Many times it is very difficult to do that because of the geography of my district, but it is important that we try to do that. I believe that if the proposed amendments come as they are there may be some problems in being able to deliver the same type of representation that the people have been used to.

If the seats are reduced to forty-four, forty-six, more support staff will be put in place. Really, will there be any savings to the public purse? I guess that is the bottom line. Will there be money saved by the realignment of the districts. Or is this just a public perception, that hopefully people will believe that the government is on the right track and trying to improve the state of our financial situation by lowering the number of members in the House.

I presented a brief to the commission back in -


MR. MANNING: At least I talked to the commission, come to think of it. You didn't. You sent your buddy along. I went myself.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you reading this?

MR. MANNING: No, I'm not reading now, I'm just getting a few notes. Just to get it straight now. If I'm here as long as you I will be able to get up and jump and shout like you, right?

At least I had the guts to go and speak to the commission. Some members opposite didn't do that. Nobody had to bring my message. I'm the messenger. I will bring along the message myself.

It is important that we not try to just put this across as a public relations game by the government to bring forward that we are trying to make changes to the House, and that by making these changes we will save a lot of dollars, because I don't believe, Mr. Speaker, that the money will be saved. Now with the possibility of bringing forward the income supplementation program and other programs such as this, the people of the Province, the people of rural Newfoundland, will need more representation than ever in the House, as far as I'm concerned. They will need more opportunity to get across their ideas and get across their concerns. Really, will this problem be solved by reducing seats in the House?

I think there is room for improvement, that is for sure. There is a possibility that there are too many seats. But I think they should have looked at the geography more and the commission's hands shouldn't have been tied as much as they were in regards to the legislation. They went out into the Province, spent a quarter of a million dollars, under the legislation that they had. They had no choice but to do what they had. If they had a choice I'm sure that they would have come back with a whole different electoral map than what they did come back with.

They didn't have a choice. They had no choice in the matter whatsoever because of the legislation that was brought forward to them and the legislation that they had to work under. Because of this they came back with a proposal for forty seats. Now the question is asked, and the question is still unanswered, as to why government has come back now with Bill No. 48? Is it because they believe they did wrong in the first place, or is it because we have some people upset in the House in regard to what the possible seats and the loss of seats may be if the forty seats that were recommended came back. So this is where we come up with Bill 48 to increase the seats, to keep some other people happy.

The bottom line is: Is this a public relations game with the public, or is this a chance to save dollars for the Province? I believe it is a public relations game. I believe that the commission should have had a free hand, should have been allowed to go out into this Province and do what they thought was best, and make recommendations to the House to be discussed on what they had found and the information that they received from the general public, but they did not have that opportunity because of the legislation that was put forward to them.

The new part of the legislation comes in now to give a minus 10 per cent, or a plus 10 per cent of the population. The Province-wide quotient would be 12,548 persons now. With minus 10 per cent, it would bring it down to 11,293. Plus 10 per cent would bring you up to 13,803. That means that every district in the Province would have the average of 12,548 unless places warrant more or less.

An urban district would have the same population base as a rural district, and this is what concerns me the most, because it is not fair that an urban district and a rural district be put on the same level of representation, due to the geography of the area.

Mr. Speaker, the people have a right to have fair and honest representation, and I believe that they receive that now, and in order to do that we have to have at least numbers that we can work with - numbers that are reasonable and numbers that are fair to people, wherever they live in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I believe that the main thrust of the act should be that at least the people of rural Newfoundland have the same fair representation that the people of the urban part of Newfoundland and Labrador have.

With that I close off, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to be able to rise here to speak briefly on these boundary changes.

Like so many of you people over the last weeks, I was talking to the committee, but since that time there have been changes. There are proposed changes under Bill 48 and, as the man ahead of me has said, the text originally confined the committee as to what they should give to the people of this Province. Now there are changes, and changes to protect.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: What, the man from Eagle River is interrupting once more? Well let me tell you, there have been a whole bunch of figures thrown at me since I took my seat on the last of May, but I have done one survey myself, and I have found out that when the Member for Eagle River leaves this Assembly, the average IQ rises, and wherever he goes after he leaves here, the average IQ lowers.

Anyway, the Member for Eagle River talked about changes to his boundary as well, and so he should, but my talk of changes is the perception of saving money when there is no money to be saved, because in areas that they propose, in certain cases, it is going to be next to impossible for MHAs to fulfil what the people have elected them to do.

In this time of crisis people need their MHA to be able to get hold of, and return their calls to them. Increases in geography, increases in the workload, especially on rural members, is going to make it extremely difficult for these people to get back to the people they represent.

The perception of saving money, when in certain districts over the next years, you will find constituency offices because they have no other choice but to put them in, and they will be staffed, which will cause more money to be spent. Further periods of time will see more districts get more constituency offices, and in the final outcome, places like St. John's - members in here - will also have constituency offices, so the perception of saving money, that is all it is; it is only a perception of saving money.

So ladies and gentlemen -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: My friend from Upper Island Cove - well anyway, Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

MR. CAREEN: I have to get on with this perception of money savings. It happens and happens all to often because you give the people what they want to hear in terms of their own bitter struggles with their own finances and their own circumstances. People acknowledged that they wanted changes before the election and the mandate that was given to the committee has been seriously changed to accommodate some people within the boundaries of the House of Assembly. It is not fair but the only thing, in speaking of not being fair, is that the only people who should be treated fairly are the electorate that are out there with all their wants and needs. Ladies and gentlemen I thank you for your time and thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly disagree with the process that has occurred with reference to changing the electoral boundaries in this Province. Back in this House in March, this House unanimously agreed with changing the number of seats down to a forty to forty-six range. There were no dissenters at all when that was proposed. It is not unreasonable to think that a Province of our size should only have around forty seats. The Electoral Boundaries Commission was set up and given a mandate to go around this Province and break the geography of this Province down into a minimum of forty districts or a maximum of forty-six.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now we are being accurate.

MR. SULLIVAN: No we are not being accurate at all. A minimum of forty is entirely accurate, I say to the minister, entirely accurate.

AN HON. MEMBER: And a maximum of forty-six.

MR. SULLIVAN: And a maximum of forty-six. I supported that and agreed with it, that fifty-two is too many districts for this Province. The government put forth the thrust of tough economic times, to have to lead the way and to bring this in as a savings financially on this Province and I don't intend to question that aspect at all. That is not the part I have a problem with at all.

Now this committee, with a budget, I think, of $250,000 was asked to come back to this House with a proposal or report back and it would be dealt with in Cabinet - and on the thirty-second meeting of that committee in Clarenville, the Minister of Justice made a presentation on behalf of Cabinet to that Electoral Boundaries Commission and the minister said that forty-four to forty-six would be a more reasonable level. On the thirty-second meeting of travelling around this Province and listening to people and their concerns - had they had second thoughts on it after the election or at any time during the summer or fall they should have given a directive to this commission again or maybe a presentation in writing - at any time it could have been entertained - before the committee spent taxpayers dollars in thirty-two meetings travelling around this Province and considerable time. I understand they had a very, very difficult time.

MR. GRIMES: He can't give directions (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: When I am finished you will get an opportunity. The minister whose Cabinet originated - the ministers department gave a direction to this House and carried it - with support from the Opposition to, from forty to forty-six - without coming back to this House again, they put forth the Cabinets position, which is really the governments position, with the majority to carry - a very improper thing to do. I disagree entirely with the process in which it was done. It was highly inappropriate. This commission I understand went to great lengths here in the City of St. John's to try to structure those riding's to keep them from going over the maximum of 17,000 - I believe roughly 700 - I will get that in a minute. If I can finish what I am doing I will certainly address that then.

They went through great lengths, they had to draw boundaries through streets in the City of St. John's and stop on parts of streets - it was very difficult, I understand, for the commission to try to get it within that ceiling in the City of St. John's especially, not even considering the rural areas of the Province.

Now, I consider it inappropriate, I tell the Minister of Justice now, I consider it inappropriate that the minister on behalf of Cabinet, went out to Clarenville and made a presentation that gave a different directive to the commission than was set down by this House of Assembly, from forty to forty-six seats, because this government and the Cabinet can change that, and they have done it right now by sending out that signal. They followed up with legislation as testimony to the fact that they intended to change what they originally set down and give this intention back last winter.

Had they followed up with no bill and made no other presentation, they might be putting forward a Cabinet perspective but they followed up with changes from the original mandate, therefore that shows that they did give a changing mandate to that committee. The committee would not be so naive as to think that we would go ahead with our own recommendations and come back to this House and that the government is going to accept them, because the government is going to accept what they feel they want to accept and that is their right and their prerogative, having a majority here in this House, but not to interfere in the workings of that committee partway through the mandate that they were given by the House of Assembly, and that is wrong.

I also find some other things that are not so appropriate and take away flexibility now in this new legislation. Under the old legislation we could have, or under the previous, I know there are certain special circumstances that could permit up to 25 per cent, that is still there but, if you -

MR. ROBERTS: You could change them, reduce them significantly.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know, but you made two exceptions in which you can change it and they are stated there in section 15 -

MR. ROBERTS: Accessibility and (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Accessibility on region and shape and where there is no road system and so on in the other one there, so there still can be changes in geography regardless of whether there is no road there or if you have to reach it by air or water, but the problem that arises now, there was flexibility with 25 per cent to go as high as approximately 17,765 or as low as 10,785 so what has happened now, under this new proposal, we now have a limit to only deviate 10 per cent from the quotient except in these extenuating cases there, that the commission feels they should change.

Now we can only go from a range of about 11,300 up to 13,800, and if the commission sees that there are instances where the geography of certain parts of this Province is now not conducive to serving the interests of that constituency in a normal manner, they may deviate and go 25 per cent, which means the other constituencies now are going to have to be increased proportionately to make up for the one or two or four or five constituencies that are altered and there is less room. There is only a 10 per cent movement now to be able to reach that level to make up for those geographical considerations that may be considered by the commission.

And what does that mean? That means that more rural areas in this Province now are going to move upwards, the shift, for every exception made by the commission, it is going to move up appropriately and has a very small ceiling in which to move.

MR. ROBERTS: Even without the exceptions it would (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, they will move up anyway but there is less room to move now. There was flexibility before in certain areas to move up and make exceptions like Connaigre - Bay d'Espoir, for example with 10,900 proposed, we still could get down to 10,900 without appreciably changing a lot of rural areas. That flexibility is not there now because we have only a 10 per cent movement. I think it is going to severely handicap and do a disservice to constituencies in many areas of this Province now that are very difficult to serve.

I personally, do not care if they go to thirty seats in this Province, based on the number of people in the Province. I am not concerned whether my riding moves into St. John's or moves in the other direction, it is not a concern at all. We have a certain principle here, integrity at stake here, in that this House gave a mandate to a commission to set down a number of seats; that mandate was changed without going through this House of Assembly, and it has, in doing so, taken away from the flexibility of that commission to be able to make decisions of a geographical nature, to give lower numbers where there is no room to move up in the ceiling in other areas, which means, if you drop five areas in this Province now geographically down close to 25 per cent you have a large number of people to push a lot of other ridings up.

There is not going to be enough room just to push up urban ridings to that level. You are going to have to extend out into rural areas to get your numbers if there are five or more exceptions made because of a geographical basis. That is not proper and has limited the commission more so now in its ability to make certain extenuating circumstances in districts that have a very broad geographical base. The commission has its hands tied more so by these stipulations, and even more so by Cabinet's indication to them part-way through their mandate. I think it is improper and it should not have been done. We have legislation now that is not as progressive or as accommodating for regions of this Province as the previous legislation was and it should not be supported. I think this House should reject that on this basis and the points I have just put forward.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Does the hon. Member for St. John's East want to speak in the debate?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not wish to make a lengthy speech in this debate but I do want to put on record a few comments concerning the changes now being proposed to the legislation. It is a rather curious business. We have heard the litany of reasons for the political motivation of government in doing this, but it is quite clear that government desired to have a commission that was suppose to be at arm's length and make decisions and desire to make the impression on the public that they wanted to lower the number of seats by ten to make it look like they wanted to save money and pander to some cynical notion in the public about the cost of government, yet when it turned out that they were taken literally by the commission, when the commission went around and held hearings, made their proposal, and took them literally and said: we are going to have forty seats, when they found out that this was going to cause problems for some of their individual members they decided to issue instructions.

They sent out the Minister of Justice to issue instructions to the commission out in Clarenville. The Minister of Justice made a representation to the commission and they must have discerned that it fell on deaf ears. They must have figured out that this commission had a bit more independence than they had expected, so now instead of just having a brief to the commission by the Cabinet in the form of the Minister of Justice we now have the brief embodied into law.

Now, unlike ordinary citizens, like myself, or perhaps the Member for Humber East, or ordinary people out there, who go and make their representations to commissions, make their briefs and do all their work, they have to rely on the commission to be persuaded by their oratory, by their examples, by the rightness of their cause, but not the Minister of Justice, because he can come into this House when he realizes that they are not listening, and if they do not like what he is saying, and they are not sure they want to be told by the minister what to do, and legislate his brief into existence which is what he is doing. I think that people ought to see that for what it is.

The government wanted to make some political impression before the election, something that was not going to cause any problems before the election. No problems on May 3 with this, we have the public out there knowing that the Premier and the government is committed to reducing the number of seats by as much as ten. Is this not wonderful? Then after the election, of course, the brief of the Minister of Justice to the commission at Clarenville is now brought into law to put them back in their place and tell them exactly what the government wants and make sure they deliver what the government wants by changing legislation. There has been talk of gerrymandering and that sort of thing. I guess it is an attempt by changing the mandate to change the results. It is quite clearly that. The results are not acceptable. Why are they not acceptable? Did they make an error last December?

MR. GRIMES: Did you say it was gerrymandering?

MR. HARRIS: Did they not have right principles of reducing the number of seats? Was there something wrong?... we want it reduced, but not too much. Did they do something wrong last December, or are they really realizing that the results of the principles that they espoused last December cut a bit too close to the bone for some hon. members opposite - cut a bit too close to the bone for certain hon. members opposite - and in some cases their Liberal constituents.

So we have the results of a commission that appears, although dominated by partisans of one sort or another, to have come up with something that was consistent with what the commission was given a mandate to do by this government. The government is not satisfied with that and wants to change it.

Now in saying that, I am not so sure that I disagree with some of the parts of the bill. Some of the things that the Minister of Justice had to say out in Clarenville I agree with, but the question is: Why were they not in the bill last December? If they really wanted to have this 25 per cent spread, or not have this 25 per cent spread, why did they not say that last December? Was this hastily brought in before Christmas because they thought they might have had an election in January, before the House reopened? Is that why? Because when we did get this there was only an opportunity for one speech on each side, and we all agreed there was going to be more debate, and it was around December 12 or 15 of last year that it was brought in. Even then they had to amend it because the Member for Eagle River did not like it, and he wanted to vote against it and, in fact, made speeches against it.

So they went ahead and set up the commission, let them go through the expense of holding hearings all over the Province, and then of bringing this back and rehearsing it, and tell Judge Mahoney to tell the others that we are not satisfied with what you have come up with. That is basically what they are saying. We have appointed this independent commission, and we are not satisfied with what you came up with so we are going to change your mandate.

Maybe the minister can tell us what reaction he has gotten from Judge Mahoney and the commission so far to the proposals that the government is going to change the legislation.

I am not so sure, as I say, that I disagree with some of the changes, because I was not all that happy with what the commission has said, and I made my points to them. I said that we could have a situation, under the proposal that the commission came up with, where some party could form a government by electing the larger number of MHAs and, at the same time, be 15,000; 20,000; 25,000 or 30,000 votes, in the popular vote, behind the second party.

MS. VERGE: It happened (inaudible) in 1989.

MR. HARRIS: It happened at a minor level in 1989, about 1,000 votes, or something like that, and even that was considered by some to be undemocratic. I know it was certainly considered by the Progressive Conservatives to be somewhat undemocratic.

If they had won the popular vote by 25,000 or 30,000 and yet had fewer seats than the party forming the government, not only would the losing party think it was undemocratic; I would suspect that all, or the majority, of citizens would feel that was an undemocratic result.

I think, in principle, having a narrower spread between districts in terms of a spread between the average and the high and the low, is desirable. It is desirable because it does recognize the principle of a person's vote being as valuable as the next, subject to certain amounts of modification, a small amount of arbitrariness, as the minister said in his opening remarks, that they are basing it on population statistics, not on numbers of electors.

So, if we are dealing with a population which is very high in the number of children under the voting age of eighteen, if there is a higher proportion of children in a particular district, then they might have a bigger population and a smaller number of voters as opposed to an area which is composed of fewer young families and therefore, more adults of voting age - the same number of individuals living in a district, but obviously, a larger number of voters per person than there would be in a district that had a large number of young families. So you are going to see some variation, and I don't think anybody expects this principle of equal value of a vote to be rigidly adhered to.

Demographic changes, changes that will occur over the ten-year period that a system would be in force, would be appropriate, and it would obviously deviate from the exact equality of the value of the vote, but I think that is expected and understood to be part of the fluctuations within which democracy and democratic principles are satisfied.

There are, indeed, special circumstances that require a deviation from the absolute equality of a vote. One of them is for the guarantee of representation from the aboriginal community. And it is because of our constitutional history, Mr. Speaker, not because they are of a different race, not because they have a different culture, solely, but because of our constitutional history. The fact that they, those aboriginal peoples, were the inheritors of the land, the inheritors of the country before the European settlement and have maintained to this day a separate culture, separate language, original rights that have not been taken away and cannot be taken away - and the special place of aboriginal people in our society has not been fully recognized, has not been accepted and is, to this day, vastly misunderstood by people, including members of this House. It is for this reason that separate representation for aboriginal peoples is necessary and desirable. I don't agree with the approach taken by government in this bill, this amendment and the previous bill.

In my view, Mr. Speaker, there ought to be a separate seat for aboriginal people, but one which all members of the aboriginal community may vote for, not just those who live in the geographical area north of Lake Melville, Labrador, as defined in the legislation. What about the aboriginal people who live in Conne River, Mr. Speaker? What about the aboriginal people who live in Labrador West, in Menihek district? What about the aboriginal people who live in St. John's, or in Conne River, Naskaupi or in the District of Gander, around the District of Gander, Exploits or in Port au Port? There are aboriginal communities and aboriginal peoples throughout this Province, Mr. Speaker, who should have an equal right, if they choose, to vote for an aboriginal person in a separate seat that would be Province-wide geographically, but would be a voter qualification for aboriginal peoples, to be developed in consultation with the aboriginal leaders and leadership and organizations.

That is, Mr. Speaker, I believe, the best way to ensure representation of aboriginal groups in this Province. What the government has chosen to do is create a geographical seat in which some of the aboriginal groups represent the majority, which allows for an aboriginal representative but does not make that person a representative of aboriginal peoples.

The alternative of having an individual whose electorate, or whose constituents, are aboriginals from all over the Province would allow an aboriginal representative in the House of Assembly to consider herself or himself the representative of aboriginal peoples in this House. That would be the type of aboriginal representation that I and my party would desire to see in this House, and that is what I would support. It is contrary to the principles contained in the bill, and for that reason, I will not support the bill at second reading.

Some of the other parts of the bill are appropriate, and if there had been a full opportunity for debate on this in the House on prior occasions, perhaps some of these principles would have been able to be enunciated and there would have been hope, perhaps, to even change the bill before the money was wasted that has so far surely been wasted by the Commission going through the exercise of coming up with a plan and having hearings.

Perhaps the minister can tell us, when he closes debate, whether the expectation is that given the new mandate, virtually a new Terms of Reference, the Commission would now be required to once again produce a series of proposed constituencies and take them around the Province for another series of hearings, to hear what people think of that new proposal. If they don't, Mr. Speaker, then the public will not have an opportunity to have input into what is going to come to the House of Assembly.

We would expect there to be only some adjustments to a proposal after the first round, but now, with a brand new mandate and a whole new set of rules, consistent with the Minister of Justice's brief, there now has to be a full and proper consideration of a new set of proposals.

I ask the minister to tell us whether that is how he envisages the process going on, or is the Commission expected to rely on the comments that were made about the first set of proposals in determining what their comments might have been about the second set of proposals. Either we are not going to have proper consultation, Mr. Speaker, or we are going to have a tremendous amount of wasted money. Perhaps the minister can tell us, when he speaks, how much money the Commission has spent to conduct these hearings and travel around the Province and how much will have to be spent again to accommodate the new rules which the minister has included in this legislation. So I ask the minister, in his final remarks, to deal with these issues. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks at second reading.


December 16, 1993           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS       Vol. XLII  No. 37A

[Continuation of sitting]

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader. If he now speaks he will close debate.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I think, Mr. Speaker, we have just about beaten this subject to death. By my count, the first speaker of the Opposition said little and the last -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am not; I am just telling the truth. The last five speakers said even less but I would like to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman may speak but not in this debate I guess. I will sit down, if the hon. gentleman wants to address the House on it. I can tell you he is bound to be better than his colleagues.

Mr. Speaker, there were one or two points that I would like to touch upon. I made a note about the speech from the gentleman from Burin - Placentia West but in the spirit of Christmas, I won't say what I wrote down but hon. members opposite could take it as said.

The Member for St. John's East was too cynical even for a member of the NDP to be, and that is a lot. In my experience -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the hon. gentleman from St. John's East is not superlatively silly, it is the lady from Humber East who is superlatively silly. But I find that the cynicism of the gentleman from St. John's East on this matter or with respect to this matter, was really unwarranted and the gentleman from Ferryland made much the same point so let me try to deal with that.

The House, a year ago, roughly in December, debated a bill to amend the Electoral Boundaries Act and particularly to amend the sections of the act that give the commission the parameters within which they shall work. The major thrust of the amendments was to say to the commission: reduce the House from the fifty-two members who now sit in it to somewhere between forty and forty-six; and the commission then went off and began to discharge its mandate.

As I said when I introduced the bill, the commission has acted squarely and fairly and thoroughly within the terms of it's mandate. One can find no fault at all with the way in which Mr. Justice Mahoney and his fellow commissioners went about their work. In fact I think they have done an exemplary job, as I said earlier and as I am glad to repeat.

When the report was made public, we began to appreciate, all of us, not simply the government, we had not sat down - I should say we had not sat down before the commission did its work and done our own map; members may have done that in the past, individual members may have done it this time but we did not at any point and to my knowledge nobody did; but, when we saw the commission's report, their proposed report, their draft suggestions at the end of August, we I think, came to two realizations. The first was, that a House of forty was too small. We had said to the commission: propose a House of between forty and forty-six; they did what they were entitled to do and said a House of forty, and when we saw that, we said simply: that is too small.

It is too small for two reasons, and I dealt with those in my remarks in Clarenville. We said, secondly, when we saw it, something we had not focused upon last December; perhaps we should have, if so, mea culpa, mea magna culpa.

MR. WALSH: Mea maxima culpa.

MR. ROBERTS: Mea maxima culpa. My Latin is probably better than my knowledge of Catholic rituals, I say to my friend from Mount Scio -Bell Island, but we realized that the 25 per cent tolerance was far too broad. I know it has been within the Act since 1973 and that the redistribution which followed that in 1975 was based upon that principle, as was the redistribution which followed the 1983 boundary commission.

Both the Premier and I had said very clearly in the House that the principle on which the government were operating was one person, one vote. Hon. members opposite have been quoting extracts from debates - they have not referred to that but the Premier and I both said it very clearly speaking for the government. In fact, when we got their proposal we did some analysis and given the 25 per cent rule here is what the proposed map showed - leaving aside the proposed Torngat seat - we had thirty-nine seats. One of them was between 20 and 25 per cent below the average, six were between 10 and 20 per cent below the average, three were between 5 and 10 per cent below average, five were between 5 and 10 per cent above average, two were between 10 and 20 per cent above average and six were between 20 and 25 per cent above average. All in all, sixteen were smaller than the quotient and twenty-three were above and we said it is wrong. It offends the principle that we believe is the appropriate and proper one of, one person one vote, and that it offends the principle to have a redistribution that broad.

Eight of the seats were more than 10 per cent above the average and seven were more than 10 per cent below the average. Fifteen in all were more than 10 per cent away from the proposed average, we said that is wrong. Now, Mr. Speaker, what should we do? We can do one of two things; the cynical course would be to let the commission carry on within their mandate and bring in a report which we had made up our minds in advance was not acceptable. Now bring in their report - I don't know what would have been in their final report but if they had taken their proposed report and then not made any significant change in it they would have produced a report that we would have rejected because too many of the seats were far too far away from the one person, one vote principle. Now some people would believe that we came to that conclusion because members on this side came running to the Premier or to me or spoke in caucus or in cabinet or wherever, to say: save our seats, SOS, save our seats.

I can say categorically that not a member of the House on this side - and I emphasis the words, `on this side' - spoke to me to protest the seats or to my knowledge spoke to the Premier or to any of my colleagues. I won't speak about members on the other side because conversations I may have had with them were private and will remain private but I will say that nobody on this side came to me and said: save our seats, or anything else. A number of members said they had concerns and my answer to each and every one of them was go and make your representations to the commission, that is the procedure and many did it but nonetheless Cabinet had come to the decision that we were not prepared to bring into the House a bill - we have no right to direct the commission what to say, but we have every right, and the responsibility, to bring a bill into the House to change the seats. We had made up our mind that we were not prepared to sponsor, in this House, as a government, a bill that had so many seats so far away from the one person, one vote principle.

We make no apology for that. In fact, it is a matter of pride. We believe in this principle. We believe that one person should have one vote, equal to every other person's vote. Otherwise what you are doing is giving some citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador one vote and others one-and-a-half votes, and we reject that.

To those who say, as members opposite did, and as my colleagues here have, that some members have a heavier district load than others, my answer, the government's answer, is we acknowledge that. I represented a rural district for nineteen years, was elected six times.

MR. DECKER: The best member they ever had, too.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, my friend from the Strait of Belle Isle tells me he is frequently told by his mother and other constituents that I was the best member they ever had, excepting him - a mother's love.

Mr. Speaker, the answer to that is not to distort the principle of one person, one vote. The answer is to provide members with the assistance they need, and if that is what is to be done, that will be done. If we need to provide more assistance to some rural members than suburban members, we will deal with that. We have no problem with that at all, but we are not going to back off from the one person, one vote principle.

So when we came to that decision, what should we have done? Should we have simply let the commission carry on, knowing that their report would not be translated into legislation, or should we have addressed it? We chose to address it, and that is why I was asked, or Cabinet agreed, that I would go to Clarenville and make the presentation.

The reason we chose Clarenville was that happened to be the first time the full commission was together at any time after we came to our decision in the Cabinet.

Now, Mr. Speaker, once that was done, and my friend from St. John's East said: Well what was the commission's reaction? They made none. I did not expect them to. I made my presentation. I was heard, courteously and at length, and we had a discussion and that was it. Then we came back and said: Now it is not up to the commission; the House has to set the bounds, so we will set the bounds, and that is why we bring the bill back. Mr. Speaker, that is why we are here.

A couple of members said: What about wasted hearings? Let me say that my conversations with the Chair of the commission, Judge Mahoney, indicate that the work they have done will be put to good use. It will not have to be repeated.

They propose, I understand - I do not know what they will do, I suppose they have not addressed it until the bill is adopted and becomes law, but the obviously sensible thing to do would be for the commission to prepare a new map incorporating the directions given to them by the House, send it out, hold a small number of hearings, because the experience of the forty hearings was that thirty-five of them did not need to be held. People wanted to be heard only in the larger areas, including people from the smaller areas, and my understanding from the judge is that the commission had already decided another time whether this exercise, or a recommendation for another decennial exercise, that they would simply hold hearings in the larger centres rather than try to hold one in each constituency, which is what they had originally scheduled.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from St. John's East, I have no idea how much has been spent. I just do not have the number. The commission, I know, are living within their budget. Much of what they are spending is going for staff, including the lawyer from my department who has been seconded, and the commission is paying us that lawyer's salary, and that is an appropriate and proper thing to do.

Mr. Speaker - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Who, David Jones?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, well, Mrs Cook. The commission requested Mrs. Cook to be appointed, and we were glad to do it. I cannot think of anybody better suited to do that job than Mrs Cook.

MR. DECKER: Dorothy Inglis is also on it, is she not?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me make one or two other remarks. I want to make a comment about an editorial in the Evening Telegram today which proves that I read it. I do not quarrel with their opinion but I do want to place on the record of the House, in case anybody ever bothers to look it up, that there are five separate errors of fact in this editorial. The original mandate given by the all party commission chaired by Mr. Justice Mahoney of the Newfoundland Supreme Court of Appeal called for the reduction of seats in the Legislature from fifty-two to forty - not correct. It was forty to forty-six, not fifty-two to forty. It went on to say: the commission recommended a forty-two seat Legislature - not so. The commission's report, the draft report, was a forty seat House. Number three, when Roberts went to Clarenville he said the number should be kept somewhere between fifty-two and forty-four - not correct. The brief clearly said forty-six or forty-four. Number four: now he has formally introduced - he, that is me, your humble servant, he has formally introduced a motion in the House to tell the commission it must look at forty six seats rather than the forty-two the commission favours. That is wrong. The bill clearly says the commission shall begin at forty-six but may go to forty-four, forty-two, or even forty if they consider it necessary.

Finally, the point is, it is not government's directive but a matter of simply amending the act to set out clear directions. Now, I dealt with the point made by my friend for St. John's East about the so-called cynicism and I want to be very clear. The process I have set out and the one we have followed is what brought us to this point today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: What is the hon. gentleman's question?

My note about the hon. gentleman, now that he is here, was I doubt if even he believes what he said, and he certainly said nothing that needs an answer. Now, if he wants to raise a question I will gladly deal with the question.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are guilty.

MR. ROBERTS: I am guilty of what? Mr. Speaker, the hon. temporary Member for Baie Verte - White Bay must learn that he can speak only from his seat, to begin with, and then people may listen to him.

I want to deal with one or two other points if I may.

MR. TOBIN: He said (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: And it shows on both of us. The hon. gentleman is living proof of the error in the statement that out off the mouths of babes come words of wisdom. Chew on that one for a bit.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make one or two other comments. The Leader of the Opposition made -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: - well, for him it was a great speech, I agree. As he began I began to make some notes for a response but as he continued I came to realize that all I needed to do was to make a couple of brief points and then to refer to a passage from one of Mr. Shakespeare's plays. The Opposition Leader spoke of a statement I made in March, that a minister of the Crown could not make a presentation to the commission. I took the trouble, Mr. Speaker, to look up the Hansard and what I said was: no minister could make a presentation, but I did not say that the government could not make a presentation and in fact, no minister has made a presentation to the commission, the government has, through a minister. I just want to place that on the record so it is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The people in Burin - Placentia West are also wishing that John Carter was here. He added something that the hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West hasn't, intelligence, wit, good nature, good humour and a knowledge of the affairs of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I must say I enjoyed jousting with John Carter. I enjoyed it immensely; many people would -

AN HON. MEMBER: He used to send you bags of savory for Christmas.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh he still sends me a bag of savory every Christmas, Savory John; but he and I would be at each other in the House, sometimes for the entertainment of hon. members, sometimes not, and we would go outside and have a grand laugh; in fact we have been to each other's homes, we have been friends for many, many years. We do not agree on political things and perhaps there are things we don't talk about but he is a great man, a great man.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) said, he did not whisper.

MR. ROBERTS: The idea of John Carter whispering is like an oxymoron; what a great man. Those were days when the Tory party had men and women of stature to speak for them in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, John Carter was known as Savory John and I will tell you, the education department never saw anything the likes of John Carter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, no, I don't think, it is not late enough at night, no.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to make two other comments. The first is, I want to reject as emphatically as I can, the thought that this bill came into the House because of pressure from members on this side. There may well be many of them who wished to do that, I have no idea; I can only repeat very emphatically that is not what brought it in. Secondly, I want to read, for the benefit of gentlemen opposite, a passage from Mr. Shakespeare's play about Macbeth, because when I heard the Opposition - and I am sure the Leader of the Opposition is not here but he is off, no doubt raising the bloody red flag of rebellion somewhere in the Province. The Leader of the Opposition is now adopting an opposition theory that I am only too familiar with because I saw it fail for many years. Wherever there is a voice raised in discontent, there is the Opposition trying to fan it, and it does not work.


MR. ROBERTS: It does not work.

AN HON. MEMBER: You know?

MR. ROBERTS: I tell my friend opposite I know. I fought against it for many years but one of the reasons the Liberals spent a long time in opposition, we nearly won the '75 election, we didn't, for whatever reason, but from '75 until '89, we had no chance to win an election and one of the reasons why, was, we adopted the theory of opposition that hon. gentlemen opposite are now espousing, which is, wherever there is somebody who has a quarrel with the government, and there are many and there will be many more, that there -

AN HON. MEMBER: You agree with them all.

MR. ROBERTS: - you agree with them all, consistency, principle, analysis, thought, concern - out the window, don't even come in the window, so as I heard the Opposition Leader roaring and bawling and shouting - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I fought against it while I was in Opposition.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me read just a couple of lines from Macbeth, it has some familiar phrases in it. It is amazing how many phrases, that are part of the common language, come from Shakespeare.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

We must have the Leader of the Opposition's rantings in mind as we hear this now,

Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.

Hon. gentlemen opposite will underline that for the Leader of the Opposition,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Mr. Speaker, I move the bill be read a second time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 48)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, moving right along - and we can't leave before 6:00 p.m. I say to hon. members because the chicken for this side will not be here until 6:00. Would you call Order No. 9, please?

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry? The hon. gentleman said something?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I did.

MR. ROBERTS: I didn't hear it, I am sorry.

MR. TOBIN: I said the chicken won't arrive until after 6:00 (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I see, that is on a par with most of the hon. gentleman's comments. Order No. 9 -

AN HON. MEMBER: I would sooner be called a chicken then a turkey.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 9.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 60)

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, in introducing this bill I would simply point out that what it does is reduce the tax on tobacco, cigarettes in Western and Southern Labrador, specifically in the Town of Labrador City, the Town of Wabush and the coastal area of Southern Labrador extending from the border with the Province of Quebec to and including the community of Red Bay. Mr. Speaker, it lowers the tax on cigarettes to make it more closely match the cost of cigarettes in Quebec. The only point that I would like to make for my hon. friend from Menihek and I hope he is listening -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: My friend from Menihek is not listening. One comment I would like to make to him and this also applies to my friend from Naskaupi is that we are going to be keeping a very close watch on tobacco sales in relation to Labrador City and Happy Valley - Goose Bay because there is now a road that is continuously open through that area and we hope that we don't see a movement of cigarettes from Labrador City into Happy Valley - Goose Bay. If in fact we do, we will then have to cancel this particular change. So, Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the Minister of Finance has introduced this bill. It is something that I raised in this House, I guess, about three years ago. Town councils, unions, chambers of commerce, and business people in Western Labrador have had meetings with several Cabinet ministers and other representatives in the Liberal Party, in the Liberal government, to urge them to lower the tobacco taxes in Western Labrador to create a level playing field with regard to taxes, and use our tax regime to create a level playing field to allow the business operator in Western Labrador to compete on a level playing field with those in the Province of Quebec.

While he has reacted favourably, slowly albeit, he has reacted favourably on lowering the tobacco tax, not to the amount that was requested by the businesses, but a sizeable amount that will allow the businesses in Western Labrador to compete with those in Fermont, Quebec, but they also requested that a similar type of graduated tax, if you want to call it that, would be done on the border situation in Labrador West and Quebec on gasoline tax and fuel tax, because there is a sizeable amount of revenue accruing to the other province because of that structure in our tax regime, too.

The other issue that was raised by several people that is also tied in conjunction with what this government espouses they want to do but do not do it, they talk about the private sector being the engine of recovery for our economy, and yet it takes three years for them to react to a simple little tax change such as this. Three years ago I raised this, what was going to occur.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three years ago you were wrong.

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker, I was right three years ago; I am right today, and the minister would have been correct three years ago on the gasoline tax and the diesel fuel tax if he had responded. They also need to change other regulations.

The beer sales should be permitted on Sundays from convenience stores because again what happens - what happens with the tobacco tax is not just a tobacco tax that the Province loses in revenue. What happens in a border situation, in cross-border shopping, people go across the border to specifically buy this cheaper item, and while they are over there they buy other items. They buy their groceries. They buy their hardware. They buy lumber. They buy a whole ream of things, and that is really what occurs in cross-border shopping, and that is what we are talking about here.

So, Mr. Speaker, what happens in Quebec on Sundays is that people from Western Labrador are going up and purchasing their beer up there. They can do it legally in Quebec, you cannot buy it in our Province by the case. You can buy it in individual bottles at a bar, or a lounge, or a restaurant, but you cannot go to a convenience store and purchase a case of beer, whereas you can in Quebec. What happens is that people are going up there and purchasing and then they are buying their cigarettes and other things. That is something that has to be addressed. You can't do this thing in just one item, just on tobacco.

I appreciate the minister responding finally to the request that they do lower tobacco tax. It is going to help the businesses in Western Labrador to be able to compete on a level playing field, Mr. Speaker, but they must do other things at the same time as they are doing this. They should think of other things that they should be doing. The sales tax that is charged in the border situation on hotel rooms. They do not have that high tax - it is only a 4 per cent tax on a hotel room cost in Fermont.

These are the types of things they have to compete with, and we have to compete with a 12 per cent tax puts an additional cost on sales people coming in the area, so they stay in the Province of Quebec rather than staying in our Province. That means that they don't need to hire as many people to operate that particular hotel to service these people who are coming in.

While I commend the government and the minister for his reaction, I must remind them that other things have to be done. Because while $3 million or $4 million in tobacco sales is an important aspect in influencing their decision - they feel in Western Labrador that there is a loss of $3 million to $4 million annually in tobacco sales because of the higher taxes and the border situation - the biggest loss is - and when people go across the border and border shopping - is that they purchase other items over there. Really what happens, it is the employment that decreases over a period of time, because of the additional business that this brings over their border.

AN HON. MEMBER: Toll on the road.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe - the hon. member for Yellowknife has suggested that there be a toll on the road. I'm sure he is not being serious, he is saying it in jest. To put a toll on the road. He doesn't want to have that type of barrier placed on borders in this Province, I'm sure of that.

I would urge the Minister of Finance to continue with this type of adjustment to his tax regime because that is what is necessary to truly make this Province more, I would say, conducive to doing business. That is what they say they are attempting to do. They really haven't shown that much of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does that have to do with this bill?

MR. A. SNOW: It has a lot to do with this bill because this is part of the things that you have to be doing to influence more businesses to do more business in this Province, Mr. Speaker. That is what we have to be doing in this Province. Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the time, and I will support this bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief, because my friend the Minister of Finance has -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) thank heavens.

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my hon. friend for Grand Falls, well, he says, thank heavens. On our side we are on our knees praying when he gets up to speak.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) Shakespeare.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I shall be very brief, notwithstanding the temptation to stray put before me by the gentleman for Grand Falls. No, Shakespeare wrote a play called The Tempest as well.

I rather thought of Midsummer-Night's Dream and some of them over there could be Bottom; it is a character in A Midsummer-Night's Dream if I recall, called Bottom.


MR. ROBERTS: Bottom. Now, Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the tobacco tax act.

MR. BAKER: I am just wondering how many Brutuses are over there?

MR. ROBERTS: If there are seventeen members, there are sixteen Bruti over there. Now, Mr. Speaker, hon. members keep trying to tempt me from the straight and narrow and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I read the editorial today; and I read the Evening Telegram's editorials frequently and on occasion agree with them and that is the time they are really worried. I pointed out the five factual errors in it, my friend was out of the House again, but now, Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the bill, if I may. Mr. Speaker, I keep trying; I know I am very trying on occasion but I keep trying.

The point I want to make is this. I want to reinforce the policy statement made by my friend, the Minister of Finance, for the government. There is a concern that has been expressed that this bill will be perverted; the purpose achieved by this bill will be perverted by people who buy cigarettes at the low tax rate and then sell them in competition with people who pay the normal tax rate which is higher than the one set by this bill and that could happen in two areas. It could happen in Western Labrador, it could happen in Southern Labrador where we have a road across the border into Quebec just as we have one in Western Labrador, and so, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from Burin - Placentia West, that what is going on in the South Coast is simply criminal activity. They could joke about it as they wish but it is criminal activity and people who are apprehended will be charged. That is a very different thing, a very different thing from what we are seeing in Western Labrador where we have a legitimate business purpose, work. I accept what my hon. friend says but I will say that what we see in Western Labrador is a very different situation.

Mr. Speaker, the point I want to make and be very clear about, is that, should the situation develop, the persons who are using this preferential tax rate which the House is going to confer I hope, with the request of my friend the Minister of Finance and the government, then we will take the appropriate measures. I am not sure that I should say what they are; they could include asking the House to cancel the preferential tax rate, it could include other measures but let nobody be under any misapprehensions, that if we discover, that if we are provided with evidence that this special preferential rate is being abused by selling cigarettes in areas other than the area of Western Labrador or the Southern Labrador area by which I mean the Straits, then we will take whatever further action is appropriate.

All we are doing by this is restoring a preference that has been in, as my friend said when introducing the bill, for many years we have had a given differential between the tax paid in Western Labrador and the tax paid in Quebec. Last year we had to raise the tax paid in Newfoundland and Labrador and that raised the tax paid in Western Labrador; by lowering it here all we are doing is restoring the differential to the same level. That being so, I do not anticipate any problem but I will say to any who think they can take advantage of it, you do so at your peril because we shall be watching and we will take the appropriate action.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the Minister of Finance now speaks, he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 60)

MR. SPEAKER: When shall the said bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole?

MR. ROBERTS: If members will agree to do it now, Mr. Speaker, we shall. The next bill is to be called in my name -

MR. SPEAKER: I have asked when the bill shall be referred to the Committee of the Whole. Now or tomorrow?

MR. ROBERTS: I will ask we do it now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: If not, I'm going to have to adjourn the House for five minutes until we can find the Minister of Labour, Mr. Speaker. But if members will agree, let's go into Committee and dispose of this tax bill in Committee. If not -


MR. ROBERTS: Okay, alright.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Leader of the Opposition wanted to speak so (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Alright. Let's go into Committee if we could please, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If members are in agreement. Does the hon. minister have leave to move to Committee of the Whole on this bill?

MR. ROBERTS: On just the tobacco tax bill. They have gone to find Roger. He has not gone far but he has gone somewhere.

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

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

A bill, An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No. 2). (Bill No. 60)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report that it has passed Bill 60 without amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Order No. 6, Bill No. 49?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act". (Bill No. 49)

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will just make a few comments by way of introducing the bill for second reading. Understanding, and having had an opportunity as well to read through the presentations made by the various groups that did take the time and expressed an interest in appearing before the Legislation Review Committee. I would like to commend the Committee on its efforts on behalf of everybody here in the House of Assembly in accepting those representations and preparing as well for us at least one amendment that we certainly have no objection to and would certainly entertain passage of at the Committee stage.

This bill has been discussed publicly for some time and I have had the opportunity to address some components of it, by way of question in the Legislature in previous Question Periods, as well as to address the principles contained in this bill and the amendments that are contained here with representatives of the Federation of Labour in the Province at their annual general meeting, and also with the Employers' Council, the Board of Trade, and other interested parties.

The explanatory note I think is already in the public domain, in the sense that the issues being addressed here have been public for some time and there has been considerable debate in the Province relating to the issue. But just for the record and for Hansard, Mr. Speaker, I propose to take a couple of minutes to go through the essential aspects of the bill again.

Clause 1 would amend the Labour Relations Act to provide that an application for certification, when supported by at least 40 per cent of the employees in any bargaining unit to which the application relates, the board shall then conduct a compulsory secret ballot to determine the wishes of the members of that bargaining unit as to whether or not they would like to have a union represent them.

This issue has been discussed quite widely for a period of time now. The fundamental change, Mr. Speaker, contained in this part of the bill and also in the clause that provides for a mandatory vote when there is an application for ratification of certification in clause 3 - at the present point in time, when an application surfaces at the Labour Relations Board, the board conducts whatever inquiry or investigation it feels is warranted and then makes a decision on the application, sometimes requiring a vote if it feels a vote is needed to clarify the matter.

We have decided, upon inspection and study over the last couple of years, that one fundamental change should occur, in that any application by representatives of a group of employees to determine whether or not a union should be certified to represent them in collective bargaining - or by any group that are already in a union that would like to express a different view and see that the union would be decertified or that another union might take its place - that the application, rather than trigger a hearing, an investigation and a possible vote, should trigger an automatic vote.

The vote would be the primary indicator of the wishes of those workers, and then, unless there are some questions as to the conduct of the vote itself and any tactics that were employed by either the employee representatives or the employer representatives relating to that particular vote, the vote itself, the outcome of the vote, would determine the decision of the board; the board would have no discretion.

The only discretion that would be exercised, Mr. Speaker, would be if there were some complaint about the procedures followed and the tactics employed by either side in the process. Then the board would revert to something very similar to what it does under current issues, which would be to cast aside the vote, if they are convinced that there was some problem along the way, and to determine, based upon the cards that were signed, the indication of support that was given prior to the vote and any other matters that might be led as evidence before the board as to whether or not there should be a certification.

The other amendment in this bill, Mr. Speaker, aside from certification, decertification and moving the procedure with that fundamental change - instead of an application triggering an investigation and then a possible hearing by the board, the application would trigger a vote, and only if the vote is called into question will there need to be any further investigating or any further hearing by the board.

The other issue dealt with, is one of which all of the unions, I think, and everyone that presented to the Legislation Review Committee have indicated that they don't have a major objection. They are saying that it is in their constitutions anyway and the law will reflect what is common practice in the Province, and that is, that in any organized situation where a group of employees are going to withdraw their services by way of exercising their right to strike, that that action can only be taken with the consent given by the workers through a secret ballot.

I think, all of the unions that presented to the Legislation Review Committee, indicated that is current practice. They don't think it is necessary because it is already done, but they don't deny the fact that the amended legislation will only, in fact, put into law what is practised in the Province. And since it had come to our attention, and has been in the public media over the last four years, certainly, in our first term of office, there were several representations made publicly whereby disaffected workers in bargaining groups have claimed in the public - have also claimed through our office - but in the public, through Open Line shows, or Letters to the Editor and so on - that, in fact, their bargaining unit was on strike and a secret ballot had not been conducted, even though the unions have indicated almost unanimously that that is what is in their constitution and it is the practice that they follow.

So we are saying, rather than have any instance where any worker who is being asked to withdraw their services could be, in any way, coerced by the peer pressure in terms of a union hall meeting, that they will not only be able to point to the constitution of their union to say that if they are being asked to strike they have to have a secret ballot, but they will also have the added protection of the law, which will guarantee that the strike can only occur if, in fact, they have had an opportunity to cast a secret ballot respecting that decision.

The parties that have presented to me, personally, and to the Legislation Review Committee, those representing employers, those representing employees, come at this from very widely differing perspectives, and I think that may have been captured most poignantly by the Member for Harbour Grace in the article that was in the paper a few days ago, where he suggested they are still very far apart in their view as to how this should happen.

In much of the labour legislation, not only in this Province, but across the country, it is often the role where, if you have, at the end of the day, got both parties equally dissatisfied, you have probably done a good job in terms of the balance that is required in the legislation.

There are still dissatisfactions with this amendment from the labour side. There is some dissatisfaction with these amendments from the employer side, and most of that dissatisfaction hinges around the length of time that would be required for the vote. The employers very strongly take the view, almost unanimously, that they should be able to address and speak to their employees before they vote, much like we do in an election, and that they should be given a substantial period of time to do that. They propose thirty days, forty-five days, sixty days, to conduct a campaign.

The employee representatives, on the other hand, have suggested that is only opening up a period whereby the employees can be pressured or intimidated and threatened with their jobs by the employers and that it would, in fact, cause some concern to be raised over the validity of that secret ballot as to whether the workers were expressing their true feelings or not, or whether they were pressured or intimidated to vote a certain way.

So there is a very wide difference of opinion on that issue and I believe the committee, in dealing with it, came down on balance and said that the ten days proposed is probably too long, that they buy into the fact that there can, in fact, be some pressure brought to bear during that period of time, the shorter the period the better, and that five days might be a reasonable compromise.

Other amendments that are needed to tie these proposals in the bill into the existing legislation have been circulated with respect to a review taken by the department, the Labour Relations Board, for tidying up to make sure this can function properly. They have been circulated to the Opposition critic, and also to the hon. the Member for St. John's East as the Leader of the New Democratic Party. And I think they understand or at least they have been told, I think, that we are prepared to entertain these amendments certainly at the committee stage, and I am sure there might be others that are proposed. At this point in time I am not sure that the government is in a position to agree with further amendments, but certainly we would entertain and listen to the thoughts that are expressed in the debate that will occur in the next little while.

I will stop there, if I may, Mr. Speaker, and use those introductory comments, and would certainly listen intently to the representations made by other members with respect to this bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

With respect to Bill 49, the minister has acknowledged that many groups made submissions, that the intent and spirit of the bill had been out into the public mind for some time, and if there is any disappointment I could convey to the minister and to the government it is that there was not enough time to debate this amongst the public. Having sat in on some of the submissions made to the Government Services Committee, it was clear from the presenters that time consideration, the length of time dealing with the proposed changes, certainly was not giving ample opportunity for adequate public discussion. I have had calls at my office asking what the spirit and intent of the bill was, asking if they could make presentations, and what was the time frame in which they had to make presentations? In terms of having this piece of legislation out into the public mind, early December, when most people knew of the proposed legislation, did not give enough lead time to employer and employee organizations, to present briefs or put together briefs. So, if there is any negativity or any comment I would make to the minister, it is that there was not enough time associated with adequate public discussion. As he did with Bill 58, "An Act Respecting The Occupational Health And Safety Act," he referred it to the next sitting of the Legislature and that would give interested parties and groups a more adequate sort of time frame to publicly discuss and make representations to him personally.

It is my understanding that this piece of legislation is truly modelled after the legislation regarding the Labour Relations Act in Nova Scotia. In every other province in Canada outside Nova Scotia, the way in which votes are taken, or certification is determined, is not quite like what is being proposed in this Legislature, in this bill.

The legislation mirrors almost exactly, with some notable exceptions which I can get into in a few moments, but almost exactly, what the Labour Relations Act has put into law in the Nova Scotia experience. In Nova Scotia once application for certification has been made, in five days a vote must be taken, which now, the minister - and amendments made in committee, as suggested, will be debated here tomorrow.

I congratulate the minister on reducing the time to five days and acknowledging that a ten-day period was, in fact, too long and that pressure could be brought to bear for intimidation and coercion.

The minister has indicated that application for certification would automatically trigger a secret ballot vote and that the only way a secret ballot vote would not be looked upon to reflect the true wishes of employees in the outcome, is if overt intimidation and coercion were placed upon the process by either the employee representative or the employer representative. I ask the minister, in this legislation, where does it clearly outline what happens? He says in his legislation here that the board is bound by the outcome of the vote taken under this section except where the board determines that the procedure under this section has been influenced by intimidation, threat of dismissal, or other kind of threat of coercion. The minister has indicated, if the board determines that, in their discretion, that an investigation would be launched and that they would not be bound by the outcome of the vote. But what, really, does the board revert to? What power does the board have then? Does it have the power to certify or decertify immediately? It is unclear in this section. It is unclear in the bill.

In the Nova Scotia experience, which I am led to believe this bill is modeled after, clearly there is a section that says: `Where, in the opinion of the board, an employer or employer's organization has contravened this act, or regulations made pursuant to this act, in so significant a way that the representation vote does not reflect the true wishes of the employees in the bargaining unit, determined to be appropriate for collective bargaining, and in the opinion of the board, the applicant trade union at the date of filing the application for certification had, as members in good standing, not less than 40 per cent of the employees in the unit, the board may, in its discretion' - and this is very important, this section of the act dealing with the Nova Scotia Labour Relations Act - `the board may, in its discretion, certify the trade union as bargaining agents of the employees in that unit.'

It is not as clear in this piece of legislation, Bill 49. It is more vague, and I say to the minister that possibly, tomorrow, there may be an amendment coming to this piece of legislation, unless he can give assurances to this House that the board does, indeed, have the discretion to determine that if a secret ballot vote will not determine the true wishes of employees in a bargaining unit, that the board has the discretion to certify or decertify a trade union of bargaining agent.

I have to raise another point. It seems that every other piece of legislation that we have debated in this sitting of the House has come about for specific reasons. Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Act were brought about by a situation that occurred at the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, in somebody's opinion - through somebody exercising his right to refuse unsafe work. The Tobacco Tax Act was brought about specifically, or triggered specifically, by another action that government wished to correct. But I am not so sure, and I am not convinced - I shouldn't say I am not so sure, and I am not convinced - I am unsure as to why this piece of legislation is coming before the House at this time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you against it?

MR. E. BYRNE: I will get to that in a second.

I have talked to the minister and officials, and he has indicated that there is a larger review taking place of the Labour Relations Act, and it seems beyond me why this piece of legislation would not be included in such a review.

I would like to return for a moment, if I may, to the whole issue of intimidation and coercion, because herein lies whether one supports or does not support this piece of legislation.

We have a specific case ruled on by the Labour Relations Board in this Province, dealing specifically with Barry's Limited. The Labour Relations Board - there are instances in society, in collective bargaining, where a free vote, a secret ballot, would not determine, I submit to you, the true wishes of an employee or employees in a particular situation. And specifically, the Labour Relations Board was established as a tripartite board, as an independent board of government that is not open to political interference, that has an employee representative, an employer representative and an independent chairperson chosen by government.

Now in the Barry situation, for example, the Labour Relations Board dealt with a 1992, specifically said, and I quote -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: - specifically indicated, and I use this as an example to demonstrate that a secret ballot, in some cases, does not work and cannot work because of overt intimidation, coercion on behalf of an employer. It says: `Rather than deal openly with the union, the employer has chosen to deal directly with union members. In so doing, the employer has exhibited a callous disregard for the wishes of those employees who indicate in a lawful manner that they wish to join a union. The employer has continued to ignore the certification order and its obligations in law' - its obligations in law - `preferring instead to manipulate employees for their own purposes. The result has been the creation of a climate in which it would be impossible' - it would be impossible - `to hold a fair vote.' Clearly, the independent Labour Relations Board ruled that, in that situation, a secret ballot or fair vote was not possible. And, with respect to Barry's Limited, I only offer that as an example. I am not going to get into the situation dealing with Barry's Limited because I am not even going to suggest that this piece of legislation is a knee-jerk reaction to what happened there because I do not believe that; because in law, Barry's Limited and Mr. Barry have answered to the law because of his actions.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you for it or against, now?

MR. E. BYRNE: I also want to point out, if I may - if the hon. member will give me some time, he will find out where I stand, don't you worry - that in a further decision, after the industrial inquiry launched by the minister in 1993, the Labour Relations Board said again, that it would be impossible to hold a fair vote at this time; any such balloting would be nothing more than a charade.

Now, the only reason I have for raising this is simple. I want all hon. members to understand and to conclude that there are situations and times when coercion and intimidation can take place - when somebody threatens you with your job, and you have a family to feed - there are situations where a fair ballot, a secret ballot, could not take place, and it would be, I think, unlawful for us and not right, and unjust, for us to take away the discretion of the Labour Relations Board to make a ruling in that favour.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) works on both sides.

MR. E. BYRNE: On both sides. I am dealing with certification now. It would be unjust for us to take away the discretion of the Labour Relations Board which has been established as an independent tripartite board that has worked well for the labour relations climate, to date, in this Province, I would submit to you.

With respect to decertification, I spoke to the Labour Relations Board. There has not been one instance, they indicated to me, where a group of employees has applied for decertification, that a secret ballot was not held, and that, clearly, the majority was in favour of leaving a union or not being represented by a union, that it did not happen. But, as the minister pointed out quite correctly in his statements, this particular piece of legislation is to put into law an existing practice.

Some members have asked: Do you support this bill or do you not support it? Members opposite have asked - my hon. friend for Gander - do you support it or do you not? want to know right now. You want me to stand up and say I support the bill, or I do not support the bill, and sit down. Well, I am not going to afford the hon. member the opportunity to relinquish my rights as the critic of Employment and Labour to go on for some time.


MR. E. BYRNE: I'm not sure which. I'm eliminated from any -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?


MR. E. BYRNE: The hon. member will finish in due course.

I would like to talk about some of the presentations that were made to the Government Services Committee.

Not one of the presenters - notably employer organizations - was against the secret ballot - not one. They indicated clearly that their own organizations operate on the principle. They could not argue against the principle of the secret ballot. What they did say that they had concerns about, and strong concerns, was that there was no clear indication in this act that provided the Board with a clear direction that if it determined there was intimidation or coercion that would have influenced the vote to such an extent that the true wishes of employees could not be determined, then the Labour Relations Board should have the discretion to move on and certify automatically.

Now, our party, in terms of `do we support this bill or do we not?' - I would like first of all to visit the whole notion of a secret ballot. We, as a party, support a secret ballot process. It is a fundamental principle that democracy in this country and in this society is founded upon and that we, as legislators, I say to the hon. the Minister of Social Services, live and die by - the secret ballot process.

MR. ROBERTS: At least politically.

MR. E. BYRNE: At least politically. I thank the Minister of Justice for correcting me there. At least politically, we live and die by it. But we don't support a secret ballot at all costs. We don't support a secret ballot if there has been intimidation, whereby employees are afraid for themselves, their families. If they have been intimidated to the point where they have been dismissed because they wish to join a union, we do not, in that case, support a secret ballot. We do not support a secret ballot process or the principle of the secret ballot if it does not provide a level playing field, if you will, for both the employer and the employee.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) ballot.

MR. E. BYRNE: I didn't hear the hon. Member for St. John's South.

MR. MURPHY: We wouldn't be here without a secret ballot.

MR. E. BYRNE: I just said that. If you had been in your seat you probably would have heard that we live and die by this politically, I understand that. We support a secret ballot principle as long as the independent Labour Relations Board still has the discretion to make a ruling by - where intimidation has been to the point where a secret ballot could not determine the true wishes of the employees. I hope that is as succinct for the hon. Member for Gander as possible.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well not necessarily because I am not sure that the bill goes as far as I would like to see it go.

MR. MURPHY: They never do.

MR. E. BYRNE: The bill would say that the board is bound by the outcome of a vote taken under this section, except where the board determines that the procedure under this section has been influenced by intimidation, threat of dismissal or other kinds of threats or coercion. Minister, if the Labour Relations Board determines that there is threat or coercion what will be the outcome of the secret ballot vote if they reject it? Where is their power then? Do they have the power to decertify or certify immediately? Those are the questions that we have to answer here.

AN HON. MEMBER: No I made a note (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I think that is for me and for our party, if there was any hangup, I don't know if you could call it a hangup but if there is a definite area of concern, that is the area of concern.

Back to the public debate process; I don't know if the minister has indicated that over the past four years he has had many submissions made to him - I wonder what the submission is dealing with the whole notion of changing the entire Labour Relations Act? Why isn't this bill included in that whole review? It seems to me that there is really no reason for this piece of legislation to be coming forward to this House at this time.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that we will have a chance to debate clause by clause this piece of legislation tomorrow in Committee of the Whole, and that principally we as the Opposition support this bill. We support the notion of a secret ballot but we wish to ensure clearly that if there is any threat of coercion or dismissal that the Labour Relations Board still have the power and the discretion to certify a trade union as the official collective bargaining agent of a group of employees who have demonstrated that they wish to be represented by a trade union in this Province.

With that I conclude.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: If the Minister of Justice wishes to speak I will certainly yield to him.


MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my remarks on this bill first of all by questioning the source and motivation for the bringing forth of this legislation to the House at this time. This legislation is not necessary. There is no evil to be rooted out. There is no mischief to be corrected, and no wrong to be righted. Under the existing legislation the Labour Relations Board has the power to deal with applications for certification on the basis under which labour relations boards across this country have done, starting about the mid-40s. The system developed in Canada, as opposed to the United States, to our credit - and I will get into that later, is a system which relies on the majority of a group of employees seeking to be represented by a trade union in either one of two ways. By either being members in good standing of a trade union or secondly, as a result of a vote indicating their intention or desire to be represented by a particular trade union for collective bargaining purposes.

Now, it is very simple really, Mr. Speaker. Labour relations is about an employee having the right to bargain with an employer along with fellow employees. The common law states that each individual has an individual contract of employment with an employer. It used to be called master and servant, I say to the Minister of Justice. In fact it was only last year that in the legal profession the term "master" was taken out of the relationship between a professional lawyer and an article clerk. The article clerk's boss was called "master". It is now called "principal".

The relationship between employers and employees is governed by the law of so-called master and servant. If two employees got together and went to the master and said: we want you to raise our wages, you are not paying us enough, they would be guilty of the common law tort of conspiracy. In fact, would be put in jail.

MR. ROBERTS: Taff Vale (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It has nothing to do with Taff Vale. Long before Taff Vale. When two employees sought to raise their wages they were involved in what the courts were happy to call a conspiracy in restraint of trade. We hear an awful lot about free trade these days, but that is what it was called.

MR. ROBERTS: That is what Taff Vale was about (inaudible) result.

MR. HARRIS: So that was the conspiracy of trying to raise your wages. In England, of course, the legislature had to ameliorate the effects of the common law, change the rules, so that these torts, in some cases crimes, that were developed by the courts, were made legal. In North America, and particularly - and I'm going to talk about Canada for the most part - we developed a system of collective bargaining based on certification and bargaining units. So if a majority of employees in a particular enterprise were members in good standing of a union they then had the right to bargain collectively.

The employer is required to bargain in good faith. Not required to agree. Not required to do anything other than sit down, listen to the proposals, listen to them in good faith, and respond to them. That is the only right that the employees get as a result of certification.

In our legislation we have gone a little further. The Labour Relations Board under certain circumstances can impose a first collective agreement on an employer where you can't make proper collective bargaining within a reasonable period of time. Where the employer refuses. The simple act of being allowed to negotiate collectively, that is all you get if you get certified. Nothing else. It is not a two- or three- or four-step procedure. You get the right for your bargaining agent to attempt to negotiate a collective agreement.

That is what this is all about. That is what this unionization is all about. Are you stuck on your own, able to be fired by the employer at will, or can you have the protection of a collective agreement? That is what it is all about. It is not about: if you have a union the wages will increase by 25 per cent. Because that is not necessarily the case.

MR. EFFORD: Why would anybody fire an employee if he did not have just cause? That is silly.

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, not in his place, says: why would an employer ever fire an employee if he did not have just cause?

MR. EFFORD: That is right.

MR. HARRIS: Well -

MR. EFFORD: I was an employer for nineteen years, I did not fire one individual.

MR. HARRIS: Well I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is ignorant if he thinks that no employer has ever fired an employee without just cause. I mean all he had to do is read the reports of the Labour Relations Board; read the court reports and all the wrongful dismissal cases that have been taken to court and proven. Read the Labour Standards Board report which shows the reinstatement of people who have been fired unjustly by employers, so if he wants to pursue this ignorance and assume that the rest of the world thinks that no employers ever fire anybody without just cause, not only does he believe in the tooth fairy, Mr. Speaker, it is no wonder that his government listens to what employers have to say and don't listen to what employees have to say or their representatives. It is no wonder if a member of the ministry believes that nobody every fired anyone without just cause, it is no wonder that he not only believes in the tooth fairy but he believes everything employers ever tell him, and that is probably why we have this legislation.

MR. EFFORD: Are you in favour of (inaudible) thousand employees (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: This legislation is before this House, Mr. Speaker, simply because the employer, in the case of Bill Barry, could not get his way. He was able to convince others that if they did not have the rules changed, they would not be able to get their way in the future because as one person present in the committee told us, Bill Barry had a problem. He managed back in 1989, after a certification drive, during which he fired six people who were involved in the organizing drive, and shortly after the application for certification was put in, unfair labour practices were filed, and eventually they were withdrawn and everybody agreed to a vote. A secret ballot vote was conducted in the spring and early summer of 1989 after six employees had been fired, and when the vote was held the union side, the people who wanted to form a union, lost the vote, and they lost the vote because Mr. Barry had shown the employees that he could win by firing people. He fired six people, refused to hire them back because they were involved in signing up cards - one of them was not even involved at all, he was just the father of a fellow who signed up cards. So what was the outcome of that?

MR. EFFORD: Would you keep them there?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: These employees who had been fired by the employer during the certification drive, applied to the Labour Relations Board saying that they had been fired because they had been involved in a union activity. The Labour Relations Board agreed with them after a hearing which took ten days or more, stretched out over two years, after which the Labour Relations Board found that Bill Barry's company had fired four of these people - only four of them went to the tribunal - ordered them to be reinstated, ordered them to be paid money that they lost and Bill Barry's company was forced to pay out $60,000 to these four employees. Now that was because, Mr. Speaker, Bill Barry's company had been found guilty of unfair labour practices.

Now, Mr. Speaker, after that happened there was another organizing drive within a matter of a couple of months. They signed up again the majority of employees - I don't know 58 per cent, 60 per cent or 65 per cent were signed up the second time around. They signed up by far the majority of employees. They went to the Labour Relations Board with the application and the Labour Relations Board said: yes, we are satisfied you have a majority of the employees in good standing in your union. Were certified, and the certification stood. There was no vote, Mr. Speaker, and after that there were a series of applications to the court, other applications to the board, co-applications to the court of appeal, all sorts of applications trying to overthrow what the board had done or to get a vote and why to get a vote?... because, Mr. Speaker, in the meantime there had been suggestions that the plant was going to close down. We were told at the committee hearings that Mr. Barry told his employees that they did not have a vote and if 85 per cent of them did not vote against the union then the plant was not going to re-open.

Now in those circumstances, Mr. Speaker, can you have a fair vote? Can you hear of a fair vote with a gun to your head? Can the vote express the true wishes of employees? The answer to that is no. So why do we have this legislation? It is not going to help Bill Barry this time around or his plant in Curling. It might help him somewhere else. It might help some other employer who doesn't want to accept that his employees or her employees want to be able to bargain collectively, who don't feel they can stand up as individuals to an employer such as we have sometimes in this Province without having the support of fellow workers because ring-leaders get picked off. I say, Mr. Speaker, to the Member for Port de Grave, in an organizing drive ring-leaders get picked off. The ones who are out signing up the cards, the ones who show their hands, the ones who are seen to be leading, they can get picked off.

The employers of this Province - and they were represented here to our Committee - they want to have this because they want to have a kick at the can with their employees. They would really like to have the union members in the plant go to the boss some day and say: Boss, we would like to have a union in this plant and we are going to go out and organize now, and so we want to make sure you know this before we even start so that you can have an equal time to tell the employees why you don't want to have a union here and what you are going to do if there is one. That is what they told us.

Mr. Speaker, the decision as to whether or not there should be a union in a plant, or whether people want collective bargaining should be the employees' alone. The employees alone are the ones who should make that decision. In situations and in circumstances where you have a mandatory strike vote, or a mandatory ballot for representation vote, such as in the United States, what you have happening is employers find out - because they get told - that the easiest way to fight off a union drive is to fire people. That is what we are going to have in this Province if this legislation is adopted as presented.

In the United States of America the system that they have there is like the system that is being proposed. A mandatory vote in every circumstance. Under that system - it took some little while, it took a little while - but after a few years the employers and the labour consultants, they call themselves, and we have a few of them around this Province - in fact, I think one of them was appointed by the minister to a commission on Barry - but we have a few labour consultants around here too. The labour consultants in the United States started to tell employers how to fight unions by breaking the law. What you do, simply, is when you hear of an organizing drive you pick off the ringleaders and fire them.

It becomes really cheap. In fact, a recent book about labour law in the United States says that breaking the law by firing people is absurdly cheap, like jaywalking. The best deal in America in cold business terms. Actually he says you don't have to break the law that much. He says: My brother who worked in personnel saw a union try to organize his plant which had about forty or so workers. He said stopping the union was easy. Our boss just picked out the two ringleaders and fired them. That ended it. In any group of forty people, he said, there are only one or two who make the drive happen, the heroes, so just fire them. That is what the consultants tell you. That is what happens in the United States.

There was a study done of American labour organizing in the United States. It was done by a very famous Canadian, Professor Paul Wyler of Harvard Law School. He is a Canadian who was chair of the Workers' Compensation Board of B.C., a well-known arbitrator and conciliator who knows both sides of the labour relations industry very well. He published a study in 1984 in the Harvard Law Review talking about unionization in the United States and he estimated then that about one in every twenty union supporters would be fired in a typical organizing drive in the US. He reached that number by taking for one year in the United States the total number of cases in which the national labour relations board had made some award to a worker for an illegal firing in connection with an organizing drive. It was about 10,000 and he divided that number by the total number of pro-union votes cast in all representation elections held that year, which were about 200,000. The ratio that came out fifty years after the Wagner Act in the Unites States that supposedly guaranteed the right to organize was one in twenty and that was suggested to be a very conservative estimate, Mr. Speaker.

So, if government is going to put in this legislation here which mirrors the automatic certification, the automatic vote, the US style restrictions on organizing we are inviting a situation in our Province which is going to be the death-knell of union organizing, the firing line for many, many workers, and a situation which will lead to a tremendous amount of labour unrest and not to create the kind of industrial relations's climate that the Premier talks about trying to sell in the US, or the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations talks about from time to time.

If we adopt the Nova Scotia style of organizing drive which has a five day period for representation votes, we are not going to have swift and quick decision making. In fact it is considered to be a lawyer's paradise in Nova Scotia, these automatic votes, automatic representation votes. It takes seven, eight or nine months to get these votes even counted. These votes are sitting in the ballot box waiting for all the arcane arguments, all the kind of minutia that any lawyer can devise to challenge the size of the bargaining unit, to challenge the actions of the union in the pre-vote stage, to argue about the number of different ways the bargaining unit could be defined and disagree with all of them.

Everybody votes in Nova Scotia. The boss votes, the owner votes, the owner's daughter votes, everybody votes, and they all vote on the premises of the employer. The practice I understand is to place the boss at the head, somebody else in the middle, the boss' daughter in the middle, the foreman somewhere else. Now, their votes are not going to be counted, but that is just more argument for later on when the hearing comes.

This is not a simple process, and we will be importing that process into this Province and make it more difficult - essentially to delay and make it more difficult for employees who want to bargain collectively to have that right. That is what this is all about. It was very clear from the employers association that came here that they don't think it is going to delay it enough. They want more process, they want more opportunities to have a crack at employees after they have decided they want to form a union. The employers want to be able to, as the lawyer who represented the employers association who made the presentation to our Committee said: You know, there needs to be a chance. Most employees don't know that their employers can't really afford to have a union. So we want to have a chance to tell them.

Mr. Speaker, that is code for the employers wanting to have a crack at the employees for a period of time, to tell them the consequences to them in the employer's view of having a union. That is what they want. They want an opportunity to scare them, they want an opportunity to frighten them, they want an opportunity to tell them that their jobs may be gone if they bargain collectively. That is what they want to do. They want to have a crack at them. Ten days is not enough. They want thirty days. They want to be notified if anybody is even thinking about signing up people so that they can campaign from the beginning.

As was suggested by the Member for Harbour Grace to one of the presenters, anybody who owns a business has had from the day they opened the business, the day of the certification application, to convince employees that they don't need to have the advantages of bargaining collectively because they are being so well looked after by the employer. So they don't need to be participating in this campaign. This is an employees decision, not the employer's decision. It is none of the employer's business. It is the employees who must decide whether they wish to bargain collectively or not. Our laws should reflect that.

The legislation that we have before us is going to open up the door for unfair labour practices. It is cloaked in the guise of democracy. We are going to impose democracy on some undemocratic system, supposedly, but there has never been any evidence presented that the system that we have is undemocratic. Section 28 of the Labour Relations Act provides for a complaint to be made to the Labour Relations Board when any union or individual threatens or intimidates or coerces or uses illegal means to persuade someone to sign a union card or join a union. It prohibits that kind of interference.

Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? There has not been one union or employee ever been found guilty of a breach of Section 28 of the Labour Relations Act. Not one. Not a single one in all the time that the Labour Relations Act has been operating in this Province. So what are we doing? Are we having some evil out there of lack of the true wishes of the employees being known, that we have to remedy? No, Mr. Speaker. What the government wants to do is allow the employers an opportunity to get at the workers; that is what this legislation is doing.

There ought to be a fair system and a system of cards, the system of discretion by the Labour Relations Board to have a vote where a vote is felt necessary or where it is clear to the board in a situation where there have been unfair labour practices, where it is clear that a vote would not represent the true wishes of the employees, then the vote would not be held. So, Mr. Speaker, the system that we have right now is working and is working well and that is why this amendment is unnecessary and wrong; and that is why, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move a motion, seconded by the Member for Kilbride, that all the words after the word 'that', be deleted and the following substituted therefore: That this House decline to give second reading to Bill 49, "An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act", in order to affirm the principle that the Labour Relations Board continue to exercise its discretion with respect to the holding of representation and revocation votes, to ascertain the true wishes of employees in appropriate circumstances and recognize that the existing constitutions, policies and procedures of trade unions, satisfy the desire to have strike votes prior to a legal strike.

My motion, Mr. Speaker, and perhaps you would wish to rule on the motion, is a reasoned amendment at second reading and I would like to speak to that amendment and perhaps -

Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to speak to it while the members are looking at it or perhaps I will just pause while the deputy Government House Leader reviews the motion.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I was running out of time so I had to move the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I should say the hon. member's time had expired but I know you have introduced an amendment and we are hearing argument on the amendment at this point, and I will recognize the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it has been awhile since I looked through Beauchesne but it seems to me that what this effectively does is say that this House decline to give second reading to the bill. That is the operative part of it and, Mr. Speaker, that is simply a vote against the bill. I am not so sure that is a proper amendment, simply to decline to give second reading to a bill. My understanding is that that is not a proper amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes okay, I am sorry, I didn't hear the last part of the Minister of Finance's comments.

MR. BAKER: It was simply that this is not amending the bill. It is simply a vote against the bill and the operative part of it is that this House declines to give second reading to the bill. The rest of it is simply reasons and so on but the operative part is that the House decline to give second reading to the bill. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that that is not a proper amendment.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to refer hon. members to Beauchesne -

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry I can't hear the hon. Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: I may refer the hon. members to Beauchesne, paragraph 670, on page 200: reasoned amendments are stated to be competent at second reading. The amendment leaves out all the words in the main question after the word "That" to add other words. It mentions the categories of reasoned amendment and category 1 says:

(1) It must be declaratory of some principle adverse to, or differing from, the principles, policy or provisions of the bill -which this is. It follows the form, Mr. Speaker, set out in the precedence - down in appendix 1 of Beauchesne at page 314, precedent number 57, which reads as follows; That all the words after the word "That" be deleted and the following substituted therefor:

"this House declines to give second reading to Bill ..., An Act ...., (here state reasons)."

So I followed the form set forth in Beauchesne and in the paragraph 670. I would refer, Your Honour, to a ruling made in this House on April 5, 1991 on page 818 and 819 of Hansard in a similar circumstance where a reasoned amendment was moved by the then Member for Kilbride, Mr. Aylward, and ruled in order. So I believe, Mr. Speaker, and submit that this reasoned amendment is in order and qualifies as a reasoned amendment at second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: We will recess for a few minutes while we consider the amendment.


MR. SPEAKER: Are the Parties ready to recommence?

The Chair has considered the amendment as proposed by the Member for St. John's East, there are two rulings; the first is that it is substantially in order. It does in fact satisfy the requirements as a reasoned amendment in that it does declare a principle adverse, to some extent, to the bill that it seeks to amend. However, the member who seconded, the Member for Kilbride, has already spoken in the debate and it cannot be accepted since there is no proper seconder. So unless the member can find another seconder the amendment is out of order.

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Bonavista South.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, the Member for Bonavista South I take it has not spoken yet in debate.

The Chair will then recognize the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Member for Bonavista South for seconding the amendment - and the Member for Kilbride for offering to second it and the Member for Grand Bank for also offering to second the amendment.

Mr. Speaker, the amendment basically suggests that the law as it exists today gives the Labour Relations Board the proper power to hold a representation vote when it is necessary to determine the true wishes of employees and that is exercised, Mr. Speaker, in a number of circumstances. When the number of cards produced are so close as to be uncertain, if it is less than 55 per cent of employees demonstrated as members in good standing of a trade union, if it is less that 55 per cent, automatically you vote, Mr. Speaker, automatically you vote. If you had more than that and some of those individuals who had signed a card, signed a petition saying we changed our minds, then there would be a vote, Mr. Speaker, a representation vote to determine the true wishes of employees.

Also, Mr. Speaker, if cards were presented to the Labour Relations Board as evidence of membership and if the board were to find out that even one single card, if there were a bargaining unit of 500 people and they came up with 450 cards and one of those cards was shown to be tainted, they did not pay their two-dollar fee, they were obtained improperly, they were not properly witnessed, they were not properly signed, the Labour Relations Board has gone on record as saying it would throw out the whole application. That is the kind of power the Labour Relations Board has now and that is the kind of power that it exercises, to make sure that the rights of employees to join the union of their choice and to be represented for collective bargaining are guaranteed.

Also I say, that there are circumstances for a revocation of certification, where the employees who are represented by a union and who are represented in the collective bargaining, and where some employees decided they do not want to be represented by a union any more and they sign an application and send it in to the Labour Relations Board, and if it is shown that this application for revocation is brought by the employer for the sake of trying to get rid of the union, if it is found that that is the reason that this is brought, the Labour Relations Board can throw it out and refuse to hold a vote.

Why would they do that, Mr. Speaker? They would do that because the board is convinced and can be convinced that the true wishes of the employees cannot be obtained by a representation vote; and that is what the board decided time and again, when given the opportunity in the applications by employees of Bill Barry out in Curling, and these applications were shown to be influenced and dominated by the employer. All you have to do is read the decisions of the Labour Relations Board, time and again, that a vote by these employees will not demonstrate their true wishes.

The minister appointed a commission, Mr. Speaker, and the commission went out and interviewed every single employee. They asked them all: Would a vote represent your true wishes? and they all said: No.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a point of order.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and others opposite, to keep down the shouting. It is fine for the Member for St. John's East, because he has the floor, but they are waking up the Minister of Education and we don't want that to happen. We know they wouldn't want that to happen over there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I didn't think they were that loud, otherwise I would held them to order earlier.

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

MR. HARRIS: I can advise the Minister of Education that I wouldn't have to speak so loud and disturb him if his colleagues over there weren't making so much noise that I had to speak over them. If I didn't have to speak over the voices and the noise from the bleacher creatures over there -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - I wouldn't be disturbing the Minister of Education in his rest.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is totally unnecessary. It is designed to cosy up to one group of people in society. This government keeps talking about fairness and balance, but every time an employers group or a group of business people come knocking on the door: `Yes, sir,' `Yes, ma'am,' `Right away, sir,' `Right away, ma'am.'

What did the Minister of Environment and Lands do when the soft drink bottling industry came knocking on her door? She said: No problem. We won't bother with a soft drink refillable, returnable, recyclable container system. We won't bother with that. We will let the industry have an anti-litter campaign. Litter Busters. Let them do that, and we will continue to throw all this junk into the environment. We won't have a returnable, refillable bottle system. We won't support that. Because they responded to the lobbying of a certain segment of society.

A plethora of St. John's business people came and said: We want to have the Outer Ring Road so we can get some contracts, some work for our contractors - the sixteen or eighteen people who after the fact slipped in their little brief to the minister. And they said: We want the Outer Ring Road because our land needs to be developed, our private land needs to be developed, our companies need a few contracts for roads. We want this to be built. Let the public spend all this money on an unnecessary road. And the government and the minister bent over, leaned over, exposed themselves to the lobbying efforts of the individual business people, and did, contrary to the public interest, what these people wanted.

Now, we have several other examples. The Fortis bill we had last year and now the grand-daddy of them all, the big Hydro privatization. It might not be one step now, it might not be one step straight into Fortis, it might be two steps. Once into the privatization, and then the second step will be into the arms of Fortis and their shareholders. Now we can't do the one-step, so we are going to do the two-step. Once again, the businessmen came calling and said: This is what we want to see happen. We want to see privatization, we want to see the public lose control over this, and the government fell for it once again.

Whenever they are given an opportunity of choosing between the public interest and the interest of the lobbyist - the business lobbyist, the employer's lobbyist - they give in.

This is a perfect example, Mr. Speaker, when Bill Barry goes on a rampage on the TV cameras, a rampage out in Corner Brook, a rampage in the media and there is nobody, Mr. Speaker, right-wing enough to support him, not the Employers Association, not the Premier, nobody; not even the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can satisfy him with his attitudes - even his attitudes are not strong enough to suit the taste of Bill Barry. So what do we do, Mr. Speaker? We bring in this piece of legislation.

Of course, there was sort of a little intervening event - back in May, I believe it was, or was it April, during the election? Do I recollect rightly that during the election there was something that went on out in Bay of Islands? Wasn't there a number of individuals who, out in Bay of Islands, decided they would sit in the Premier's office on the orders and direction of Bill Barry and his men, or his men, to sit in and say we are going to embarrass the Premier. I think, coming out of that there was some sort of commitment made, that if we can't look after you, Bill Barry, this time around, we will at least look after the law.

So once again, Mr. Speaker, they are bringing in legislation, not to suit the needs of ordinary people, not to solve problems that really exist, but to suit the desires of the worst elements of society, Mr. Speaker, the ones who want to interfere with the rights of employees to organize and bargain collectively - those are the ones who are going to be hurt by this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why did Bill Barry fire the employees?

MR. HARRIS: Why did Bill Barry fire the employees? Well, the Labour Relations Board found that they fired them because they were involved in an organizing drive. Now, that is what the Labour Relations Board found, Mr. Speaker, that the employees of Barry's Limited were fired on the basis of unfair labour practices committed by the employer - fired people. Imagine, one of these people has worked for the Barrys for thirty-two years, thirty-two years, and that individual, Mr. Speaker, was fired, humiliated, disgraced and worse. So, Mr. Speaker, what is happening is that the worst elements of society are being appeased in this legislation.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is no need for this legislation. It is all clothed in democracy - the need for democracy - `We are going to democratize those unions.' But let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, all those people who have said that, have never ever given one example, not one example, where democracy has been lacking in any of the situations that are covered by this legislation; not one example has been forthcoming. There were allegations made in the Barrys case that the unions had gone and strong-armed people, etcetera, etcetera, but when given an opportunity before the Labour Relations Board, they didn't call one single piece of evidence of anybody having been coerced into signing a union card by anybody associated with the union. When given an opportunity, they had no evidence, and not one person over there can produce the evidence. And the Labour Relations Board has not had one successful application under section 28 of the act, which deals with that.

Now, let us go from certification to the revocation side, the revocation of bargaining rights. We are given an opportunity for an automatic vote in taking away collective bargaining rights if you get forty people to sign some kind of an application or petition or card. Well that might not be hard to get, Mr. Speaker; just go around your plant, have your foreman go around the plant with a document, show them the signatures, go around and get - `These people have signed. Are you going to sign, too?' The employer knows who is going to sign, and if you don't think that is the case, the Labour Relations Board gets applications that come from the employers.

They are printed up on the employers' typewriters and photocopied on the employers' machines; they are mailed by the employers' lawyers in to the Labour Relations Board, applications for revocation of certification. They get them all the time, not every day, but it is a very common experience for the Labour Relations Board to receive an application for revocation that comes from the employer, the employer's law firm or the employer's accounting firm or something like that, all in the guise of helping the employees to get rid of this union; but, Mr. Speaker, this bill would give those employers an opportunity to have an automatic, required, decertification vote, and why, Mr. Speaker? so that they could have another crack at attacking the workers, and the Member for Harbour Grace knows that is not right.

He knows it is not right, he spoke out against it in the committee, and I commend him for it. It is not right to provide a situation that allows employers to dominate the process.

The minister has talked about the need for democracy. Well, Mr. Speaker, the Labour Relations Board now has the right, now has the discretionary right and power to refuse to consider an application where they have determined that it has been dominated by an employer and that it comes from the employer and has decided on a number of occasions that if a revocation application is the product of employer influence, that they won't have a vote and they will reject the application, and rightly so. Can they do that under this act? No, they must hold a vote, the employer will get his way, the Bill Barrys of the future will get their way under this act. And that is what this act is for; not for the fair-minded employer, not for the employer who is prepared to play by the rules. This act is designed to help the people who want to break the rules, and that is what it will do, Mr. Speaker, in the way it has been presented to the House.

Let us talk about the third aspect of this bill, strike votes. Now, why is it here in this bill to require employees to have a secret ballot strike vote before they go on strike?

AN HON. MEMBER: I think it is okay.

MR. HARRIS: I think it is okay, too, but why is it here? Is it necessary? No, it is not necessary. Why is it here? It is here as window dressing. It is here to somehow convince the public that there is a need for democratization of the union process, as though we are going to force this on them, but it is not necessary, Mr. Speaker. As the Member for Harbour Grace knows, every single witness who came to the committee said that their own constitution, their own policies, their own members, their own procedures demanded that there be a secret ballot strike vote; they don't know of any union in the Province that never had one. I say to hon. members that it is not necessary, and the only reason it is here is to somehow enable the minister to convince the public that it is necessary to impose democracy. I say to the Minister of Employment and Labrador Relations and members opposite that the union movement and the collective bargaining process is what is bringing democracy to the workplace. I say to the Member for St. John's South that one of the presenters at the committees talked about democracy. He said, an employment situation is not democratic, it is a dictatorship of the employer.


MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the fact that members opposite repeat lies does not make them true.

There is no necessity whatsoever to impose that strike legislation in this situation because it is the unions that bring democracy to the workplace by allowing employees to have a say in their working conditions. Without that, Mr. Speaker, they are at the whim of an employer, good or bad, and if it is a good employer like this hon. member, then they might not have any problem, but if it is a bad employer like some hon. members opposite might be, then they might have a lot of problems, because the workplace without a union is a dictatorship and it requires collective bargaining to try to strike a balance and make it more fair. Mr. Speaker, the only conditions under which a mandatory vote can be acceptable is if there is a very, very strong quid pro quo. I am using Latin for the Minister of Justice's edification here. There must be a quid pro quo. You can't have a mandatory representation vote unless you have the most powerful remedy provisions for unfair labour practices so that you make sure that the employer doesn't have the right to get in there and influence what is going on. Because when they do, Mr. Speaker, when they do - that is what they want. They want the right to go in there and intimidate, Mr. Speaker, they want the right to go in there and interfere with the process, interfere with the rights of employees to make their own decisions, that is what they want to do. So what you should do, Mr. Speaker - if there is any possibility of this piece of legislation going through - is require mandatory representation vote. There must be an automatic certification in the face of any unfair labour practices by the employer. If the employer attempts to interfere with the process, then there should be no vote, automatic certification and give the right to the union to attempt to negotiate a collective agreement because that is the only right they get.


MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, could I ask for the protection of the Chair? Hon. members opposite are trying to intimidate me. They are trying to bully me, Mr. Speaker, just as they are giving the right to employers to bully their employees. That is what they want to do with this legislation. They are trying to bully me here, Mr. Speaker, and they want to let employers bully employees. A bunch of bully boys, and girls, is what they are, and they are bringing forth legislation for the bullies of this Province, Mr. Speaker, for the bullies, that is what they are doing. They want to allow employers to bully their employees into voting against the union, that is what they want. Now, Mr. Speaker, this legislation is wrong, is unnecessary, is disastrous, and there is going to be disaster in this Province if this happens. We are going to have a firing line of people who are going to be encouraged by labour consultants to break the law, and they are going to be encouraged to break the law because they are going to be told that it works. They are going to be told, Mr. Speaker, that if you fire enough people at the right time and the right place, you can defeat a union organizing drive and you will save money because you will only have to pay a few people a bit of back wages but you will get rid of the union. That is what this legislation will allow, Mr. Speaker, and that is why I am opposed to it. That is why every jurisdiction in Canada except Nova Scotia and Alberta won't have anything to do with it, Mr. Speaker, and we ought not to follow it, because it is a trend which is leading towards this Province becoming the unhappy Province. It is going to encourage the kind of American-style labour relations to fire people in order to intimidate them. Bully boys all over the Province, that is what they are going to encourage by this legislation. I am against it, Mr. Speaker, I can't stand here and support it. I don't care how many bullies on the other side are trying to bully me into it. I can't stand for it, I am not going to support it, I am going to vote against it and this motion, Mr. Speaker, this reasoned amendment, trying to impose some reason on the other side of the House, respects the work and the knowledge and the understanding of that process that the Labour Relations Board has built up over the last forty years in this Province.


MR. HARRIS: This Board, Mr. Speaker, is composed -

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): Order, please! Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - of representatives of employers and employees. Employers have representatives on it. Employers are there, employees are there, and the chair is neutral, appointed by this government. That Board, Mr. Speaker, makes decisions as to when it is necessary to have a vote. They know when.

I will tell hon. members, that in the case of Mr. Barry's operation in Curling, it was all three members of the Board - the employer, the employee representative, and the neutral chairman - all three of them unanimously decided that a vote out at Barry's would not represent the true wishes of employees and they refused to hold one. It was not just the employee side, but the employer - unanimous decisions, every one of them. That is because they know what goes on and they can make the decisions. They have the experience, they have the knowledge, they have the common sense, they have the judgement to make decisions about these matters, and we should continue to let them exercise this discretion in a fair and reasonable way. And if you don't like it you can go to court. Mr. Barry went to court and they said: No, the Labour Relations Board was right. He went to the Court of Appeal and they said: No, the Labour Relations Board was right.

MR. MURPHY: How about the workers?


MR. HARRIS: The Member for St. John's South asks: How about the workers? The workers all told the commission appointed by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations -


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

MR. HARRIS: - that a vote would not represent their true wishes. They told them that. So the workers were right, too.

Mr. Speaker, if you are going to allow -

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

I ask the hon. the Member for St. John's East to take his seat.

The level of noise in this House is unbearable. I ask hon. members to refrain from shouting across the House. If hon. members want to hold meetings, I suggest there are lots of boardrooms in this building where they can have meetings.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is simply an amendment which recognizes the skill and judgement and ability of the Labour Relations Board to determine when a vote would not represent the true wishes of -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Would the Member for St. John's East take his seat?

I remind hon. members, when the Chair makes a ruling on the level of noise and the shouting from across the House, the Chair doesn't stand just for the sake of standing, it stands to maintain order in this House. I remind hon. members, if they persist, the Chair will take whatever steps are necessary to maintain order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I know there are a number of hon. members here who don't want to hear the remarks that I'm making.

AN HON. MEMBER: You got that right!

MR. HARRIS: So, Mr. Speaker, I am going to persist in making them anyway because they must be made. The Labour Relations Board and the Labour Relations Act, a body composed of employer representatives, employee representatives and a neutral chair, have a considerable body of knowledge and experience in labour relations matters, and they don't take decisions lightly. If they did take decisions lightly, they can be appealed and they can be appealed again. When they make decisions about these matters, they do so knowing what goes on. They don't have blinkers over their eyes. They don't operate in some kind of ideological vacuum, they operate in the practical day-to-day realities of what goes on in the plants and the fish plants and the factories and the workplaces of this Province. They know what employers do and can do. They have the ability to exercise their wise judgement in these matters, and I think that the government, in imposing this legislation, is taking away that judgement, taking away that ability, and instead, insisting that there be an opportunity for employers to bully their employees one way or the other - have a campaign. In Nova Scotia, you know, they put up big banners in the offices: Vote against the union. In the offices they put up the big banners. They are going to have a campaign here. They want to have electioneering. They do that in Nova Scotia.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) they won't do it in Newfoundland. They won't do it here.

MR. HARRIS: The Member for St. John's South says they do that in Nova Scotia. Why do they do it in Nova Scotia? Because they have an act which allows them to do it, and your government is trying to take bits and pieces of that act and impose them on us. They are going to try and take bits and pieces and impose them here. They have big campaigns. The employer puts banners in the offices: Vote against the union.

AN HON. MEMBER: The union puts them up in (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: They don't put them up in the employer's premises, I will tell you that. The employer has a captive audience, Mr. Speaker. They can have meetings whenever they like. Any time during working hours they can have meetings and talk to the employees and have a chance to go at them. That is what they want. That is what they want here. They don't want the employees to be making a free choice. The employer is not exactly objective in all this matter, and a decision whether or not to have a union is the employee's choice, not the employer's.

Mr. Speaker, I believe my time is shortly up. I might have one or two minutes. I will have some amendments to this bill if it ever passes second reading. This amendment, of course, would express the principles that are right and proper, that the Board should continue to exercise its discretion, that the constitutions and the procedures of unions for strike votes are adequate. But, Mr. Speaker, if the government persists in passing it I will have some amendments tomorrow, if we get to Committee stage, if it passes second reading. There may be some ways to improve it. There may be. I have my doubts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.



On motion, amendment defeated.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) on the main motion.

MR. SPEAKER: On the main motion.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to respond to Bill No. 49. It was certainly a learning experience for me to sit on a committee that had so much wisdom about unions and management, certainly very enlightening when I saw people come forward and give some briefs. I have had a background on both sides, in union and in management as well. I think I could appreciate where both people were coming from, as well as the Member for Harbour Grace who spoke a few times, coming from the same place.

What surprised me most of all was when the presenters came forward; I believe we all thought, as a committee, that the secret vote would be a big thing. I must say very seriously that I had to wrestle with my own thoughts because we - as legislators here, I don't see how we could not believe in a secret vote and, as the Member for St. John's East stated earlier, I don't know if there was one presenter who did not believe in the secret vote that came forward. I believe, as well, that in the constitution of most unions, the secret vote has been carried out very well and without problems in the past. I know, in the case of the IBEW union, of which I am a part, the secret vote has always been part of that union philosophy. Every time there has been a strike vote or a vote for certification it always went out by mail, you voted, it came in, it was counted and it was always done by secret ballot.

The matter that most of the presenters addressed was the time frame for certification which was ten days in the original bill that the minister had brought forward. I think it was just one - I think it was just the employers, and I stand to be corrected, when they came forward, wanted thirty days. They thought thirty days was a reasonable period of time. Most of the other people there representing some of the unions - and the Member for Harbour Grace is nodding his head, so I assume that I am telling the right story, wanted - well, they mentioned five days because that was the way the legislation read in Nova Scotia and they thought that was a reasonable period of time. Some other presenters wanted no days, they thought that as soon as the certification vote was taken or as soon as the cards were signed that they should be certified. As a committee, I think we took the middle of the road and we agreed unanimously that it should be five days. That was passed in committee and passed back - I beg your pardon, Mr. Baker?

MR. BAKER: What was the opinion about a strike vote (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Strike vote, the same thing, private vote, secret ballot.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) for a strike vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, not thirty days.

MR. FITZGERALD: Not thirty days. But anyway, Mr. Speaker, it was voted on in committee and it was brought back and presented to the minister. I was very happy to see where he brought the legislation back and showed five days. I think that is a reasonable period of time and I fully support that. I am not sure why anybody would want any longer than five days anyway, Mr. Speaker, because I think the employer should know when there is unrest and I think he should know when there is a need for a vote or a need for a union, and it doesn't happen overnight. I made the comparison to somebody having a terminal disease and going to the doctor - the disease starts much earlier than the day that it is diagnosed.

The Member for Port de Grave talked about how good an employer he was and how he made a lot of money in business, but I am sure there are lots of other people out there who are a little bit different from that hon. member. I am sure he must have had a good group of employees and it reflected well on his business, but I can assure you that not all employers are of the same mentality as that hon. member. I think if you also talk to many employers that they will tell you - especially the bigger employers - they would welcome union activity. It is a way of their having an organization to look after their own affairs and I think that is important. If it is done through a union and if you have the right people there, Mr. Speaker, it can work very well, and that is like everything. It is no different from the people on the other side of the House. If you have good people there making the right decisions, they are going to be right for the people in rural Newfoundland and St. John's and everybody will be treated alike, and unions are no different.

Mr. Speaker, most of the presenters had a problem with the intimidation and coercion clause. I don't know if it is spelled out now exactly the way it should be, because what do you call intimidation? If you are going to form a union and somebody comes and tells you that if you take part in this process you are going to lose your job, or the company is going to fold up - and that could very easily happen. It has happened in the past and I'm sure it will happen in the future. Some companies can't afford to pay union rates. Other companies might be very selfish, be able to pay a better rate to their employees, but rather take a trip down to Florida each year and let their people suffer for lower wages and no benefits.

The whole process, as I understood it, was how quickly this bill was being put through, the big rush on getting it through the Legislature. I think we advertised in one paper for two or three days, I think it was probably the weekend edition, and we were going to have hearings within ten days. It was only done here in St. John's. There must have been lots of people from rural Newfoundland or from, probably, Labrador who would have certainly had a lot of input into this legislation, and who, I'm sure, would have given a lot of enlightening information. Those people were deprived of that opportunity because of the rush of this bill going through the House.

My last comment is that when we propose legislation such as this that will affect so many people, I think it should be done in a process that would give us much more time. If it means putting it off until the Legislature opens again, then let's do that. Let's not take the process of rushing everything through the House because maybe it is to our benefit. With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a few comments on Bill No. 49, An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) employers.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister responsible for Tourism mentioned that I may speak on behalf of the employers. Well, I am an employer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) unionized shop?

MR. A. SNOW: No, the employees aren't unionized. Sometimes when the employers - it isn't necessary to unionize against certain employers. It isn't necessary to have a union in all work places, Mr. Speaker, but unions are a necessary tool in our society. They are very, very necessary.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, (inaudible). Mr. Speaker, they are necessary because of unscrupulous employers, overbearing governments. Unions represent the ordinary workers in the workplace and protect their rights.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: As a member of the House of Assembly it isn't necessary to have a union, I wouldn't suspect. Although maybe if this government continues on with its right-wing philosophy, it may be necessary. But, Mr. Speaker, I have a close association with unions. I represent probably the most unionized district in this Province, in the mining sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: They elected a Tory.

MR. A. SNOW: A very social-minded Tory, one with a social conscience, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Socializing-minded.

MR. A. SNOW: That, too, Mr. Speaker.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is very important that we look at this legislation and put it in the context of that of an ordinary worker in this Province. This government prides itself on creating an atmosphere - they talked about creating an economic climate that is going to allow a private sector to flourish and prosper, because that is going to be the engine of recovery for the total provincial economy.

Well, that may be fine, but you also have to be very cognizant of the rights of workers - the rights of workers to unionize and to have unions represent them, the rights of a union to bargain collectively, to go to their employer and bargain with their employer on behalf of the employees. And we must not just think of legislation as that of sending out signals to the private sector that says: `We will give you whatever you wish,' because we always have to be aware that we must also represent the ordinary employee, not just the employer.

MR. TOBIN: Are your employees unionized?

MR. A. SNOW: Now, Mr. Speaker, I have talked to some of the union leaders in my district and listened to them as they voiced their concerns about certain aspects of this bill. They don't understand why this is being hastened, pushed through, rushed through, rammed down their throats, whichever way you want to look at it. They can't understand the urgency of pushing this through the House of Assembly in the wee hours of the morning, such as it is now or late hours of the evening. It is going to be the wee hours of the morning, I am sure, by the time we finish the debate on this, Mr. Speaker, but certainly the late hours of the evening. They say it is a typical, Liberal Christmas - you have some important legislation, you ram it through at Christmas when we are supposed to be out shopping and celebrating with our friends and family. What do we have to do? We have to have our members in the Legislature debating all night such as we did last year and the year before, and again this year. It is not necessary for the people of the Province now to look at a calendar to find out when it is Christmas, you merely listen to the news and when it comes to all night debates that is when it is Christmas in this Province. Because they figure they can then sneak legislation like this through the House, sneak it past like they did last year.

MR. TOBIN: A bunch of sneaks.

MR. A. SNOW: That is what they are doing, Mr. Speaker. We saw the same thing happen last year when they pushed through legislation. We saw that they had to come back and change it, because they rushed it through and it finally dawned on them that the things the members of the Opposition were saying were wrong - they said, `Well, my goodness, don't tell anybody, but we did make a mistake,' and we made some changes. And they still should be making changes, whether it is in the Police Commission Act or the Workers' Compensation Act. Those acts should be changed.

Mr. Speaker, the unions in my area are concerned that this is being pushed through now without a proper public debate.

MR. BAKER: That is not true.

MR. A. SNOW: The hon. the Minister of Finance says that is not true. I am sure he is on a record over there. Every time somebody gets up and speaks, whether it is on his side or the other side, he just utters, `It is not true.' But this is true, Mr. Speaker. The labour leaders in Western Labrador were concerned about the lack of public debate or their opportunity to have ample time to adequately prepare so that they could make submissions.

AN HON. MEMBER: They only listen to townies.

MR. A. SNOW: You only want to stay here inside the overpass and let the people here -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, there are other people in this Province who have concerns about the workplace. There are other people in this Province outside the overpass who have concerns about the rights of individuals in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are there any in Labrador?

MR. A. SNOW: There are thousands of them in Labrador and they all voted for me in Labrador West. Those who had the concern for what this government did all voted for me. The union leaders that I spoke with, and met with, cannot understand the urgency of ramming this through now, at this particular time. They just can't understand it, Mr. Speaker. They understand from the minister that he is planning to propose other changes to labour legislation in this Province in 1994 - major changes, he has said, himself, I believe. They can't understand why you can't include these particular changes, Mr. Speaker. They can't understand why it can't be all part and parcel of the changes being proposed in 1994. Let's not go cherry-picking, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: We should look at the total picture. That is what we have to do. Mr. Speaker, these union leaders and the members of these unions are concerned about the lack of consultation, as this government does with everything, but more especially as they have done with this particular piece of legislation.

It has been touted as secret ballot legislation. That is how some people have been referring to it. There is no great concern out there in the union movement about the use of the secret ballot. It has been a practice to use the secret ballot. It has always been used, so it is hardly necessary to put it in legislation. But, the lack of consultation with the union movement, the lack of time - they can't understand, they can't fathom, they don't know why, and they want to know why it has to be rammed through now. They do not understand why it has to be pushed through now. What is so urgent about it? Are we going to have plants shut down because of it? Are we going to have more unemployment because of it? What is going to happen? Will the sky fall in because this won't get passed?

Let's allow some more time to look at it. Let's allow the people in Labrador to have the opportunity to appear in front of a Legislation Review Committee and allow them to voice their opinions. Why is it only permissible to have people from St. John's, or is it that you don't want the people from Labrador to voice their opinions? Is that the reason? Surely to goodness, you would like to listen to people from around the Province, not just to people within the capital city and that's it. Don't the people in Western Labrador have a right of input into legislation? Shouldn't the Committee have gone to Labrador, one of the most unionized districts in this Province?

This government saw fit to not allow them to have input. Oh sure, the minister will get up and say: They could have easily come down here, they could have easily spent $1,000 in air fare and flown down. The steelworkers could have spent the money to come down here, they could have, but you also have to realize they just negotiated a contract and are negotiating another one for the largest industry left operating in this Province, Mr. Speaker.


MR. A. SNOW: People on the Liberal side of the House are suggesting that the international union should fly them down here, have to bear that expense. That is typical, Mr. Speaker, of the attitude of St. John's members, or at least, some of them.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. the Member for St. John's South doesn't stop interrupting, I will have to tell the story about the rental.

MR. SHELLEY: Not another word out of him!

MR. A. SNOW: But, Mr. Speaker, the unionized membership in Western Labrador don't understand the urgency. The unionized membership throughout this Province don't understand the urgency. Why is it so important to ram this through today? How many employers aren't going to invest because this isn't passed tonight or tomorrow morning? Now, Mr. Speaker, we know that there are probably hundreds - I don't know how many, but more than one for sure, would have had input into this legislation if the Legislation Review Committee had gone to Labrador. We know that for sure. Oh, they could have come down. They could have flown down, the hon. Member for St. John's South said, it is only $1,000 fly them down; but, Mr. Speaker, what about a member of a union? I am not saying disregard, don't listen to them, but just stop and think that if an ordinary member wanted to appear in front of a Legislation Review Committee, the hon. the Member for St. John's South suggests that they should have to fly in from Labrador to talk to them - $1,000 for an ordinary member. Now, that is okay, Mr. Speaker, for an individual who represents an international union.

So, Mr. Speaker, I can't support rushing through this legislation. I cannot support that and I don't see how the minister can expect people to vote so quickly when we don't have the proper input from the public, and that is important, Mr. Speaker. I don't know why the changes were so necessary. What makes it so necessary to have these changes now, Mr. Speaker? I want the minister to explain that to me, to the House, to the unions and to the members. That is what the members want to hear, local union members, whether they belong to the steelworkers, the ironworkers, the IBEW or whomever, Mr. Speaker. They want to know why. Why the urgency now, Mr. Speaker? Why is it necessary to do it at this particular time? Why not wait six months to allow them to have some input?

I specifically mentioned the steelworkers' concerns, Mr. Speaker, because I know the one steelworkers' representative that I spoke with has been very busy working with the local unions and the minister is very aware of it. Mr. Speaker, the minister is very much aware of the fact of the involvement of the steelworkers in negotiations. They would like to have more time, Mr. Speaker, so that they could review it and see the total consequences of accepting and passing - or having to work and to live under this type of legislation, Mr. Speaker, so I don't see where I can actually support the passing of it. I don't have a great exception with the - but, Mr. Speaker, I don't see how the minister can honestly -

MR. MURPHY: In conclusion, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Move the amendment now, so that he gets another half-hour.

AN HON. MEMBER: And then `Jack' gets another half-hour.

MR. TOBIN: Good, `Jack' should have another half-hour.

MR. A. SNOW: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, those were just a very few.... It doesn't seem apparent that the ministers over there are paying much attention. They are not paying much attention. Having just wanted to say a few remarks concerning this bill, thank you very much.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a lot of notes made on this bill, I want to speak on Bill No. 49. I was a member of the Government Services Legislation Committee that had the hearings and listened to all the presentations and that. I have a bit of a flu here now but I'm going to make probably the best speech in the House today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: That is because it is going to be the shortest. The best one because it is the shortest one. The Minister of Justice I believe sometimes believes that he is probably the best speaker in the House because he is up pontificating all the time and is quoting Shakespeare and whatever the case and whatever (inaudible). I would like to let him know there are speakers in this House who are much more apt to speaking and getting their point across than the hon. minister opposite.

We heard a lot of debate here tonight on Bill No. 49. I heard the hon. members for Kilbride, Bonavista South, Menihek and wherever. The member that most closely resembles what I was going to say and the notes that I had to make was the Member for Kilbride. That may have something to do with the name.

I have a lot of concerns with respect to this bill, the process, number one. I think the committee system is a system that could work if it was given the opportunity to work properly. In this situation it certainly did not have that opportunity. The Committee broke down with respect to the scheduling, for one. There wasn't enough time given to hear the presentations, not at all. There was not enough time given to review the presentations. There were seven or eight presentations given. We had a meeting the other evening at 5:00. The Committee wanted to get out of there in a hurry for some reason unknown to me. I did have my assumptions as to why. So we were out of there in no time flat.

There was not enough notification at all for the hearings themselves. We had the meeting advertised in the paper once, I believe. Rushed in, scheduling done, scheduling fooled up, and people coming in to make the presentations had to be sent home again to come back the next day. That will give you an idea of what happened.

I still don't understand why this bill has to be rushed through the House at this point in time, this fall. It certainly could have been delayed until after Christmas.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take Jack Harris the next time in committee.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, well maybe so. There should have been - and this is most important in my mind - there should have been more time given to the presenters to prepare their presentations. I would like to say in the meantime that the presentations that were given were put together very well, very clear, very precise and concise. It amazed me -

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: - well I was not around then, I say to the Member for St. John's South. I wasn't around, maybe it is a new day of breeding.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: - that is what it sounds like. You must be taking lessons from the Minister of Justice pontificating all the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Don't even bother to yell across the House to me. There were questions put forward - and these questions came up in the committee meetings - why is the bill going through at this point in time? There should be more comprehensive hearings with respect to the labour relations - within the Province anyway in the Labour Relations Act - before this bill was going through. Why rush it now? Apparently, that is planned in the new year anyway.

As I said earlier, I have a bunch of notes made here on this bill. It has all been said before and there is no need to say it again type of thing. There is no one listening anyway -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Bill 49, during the committee meetings, there was no problem at all with the secret ballot proposal. The union stated that there were already secret ballots anyway before they had a strike at any time. The unions seem to have some major problems with the ten day period for the vote. Their major concern was that it was giving the employer too much of an opportunity to intimidate, coerced or whatever the case may be, the employees of the particular company involved. (Inaudible).

The government services committee meetings that we had - there was a resolution put forward that we go from ten days back to five days. Some of the unions want it to be dropped altogether of course. The hon. Member for - where are you from?


MR. J. BYRNE: Cupids or wherever - I lost my train of thought on that one. The employees - the ten days - they want it to be extended to twenty to thirty days or longer if possible. Now that did not seem to be to reasonable to me although, I must say, I am an employer and have been for the past ten years. I have been on both sides of the fence. I have been in unions, I have been an employer and I have been - actually been an employee. So I have the three perspectives to come from on this. So I think ten days was quite ample - five days - well, it certainly seems to satisfy the unions. They would rather have none but whatever the case they have, hopefully, at least the five days to look forward to.

Now there was a comment made during the committee hearings that the unions and the employers could - if you brought in legislation for vote, you would not satisfy them. Now I made a statement during the committee meetings that they are on both ends of the spectrum -from one end to the other. We have to get some common ground in here somewhere and maybe the legislation that is going through now may -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) sit down, the Member for Harbour Grace.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, the Member for Harbour Grace. - may help to bring the groups together.

There is a list of concerns during the committee meeting hearing. Section 47 (1) stated that it should specify that it should be a secret ballot vote. It is not specified in that section, 47 (1). (Inaudible) resort to the ten-day period, when would it begin, when would it end? Decertification, 51 - 1 subsection (1). There were feelings that this is not required and should be at the discretion of the Labour Relations Board for decertification. Section 101 - 1 subsection 1. It was stated in this section that the Labour Relations Board should actually administer the vote. These are the types of things that were being brought up at the meetings; there were also reference and arguments made for and against a double-envelope system; I am sure every member opposite and on this side is quite familiar with the double-envelope system.

AN HON. MEMBER: Double-envelope?

MR. J. BYRNE: Double-envelope.

I am sure all the members opposite -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: What is a double-envelope?

MR. J. BYRNE: A double-envelope system is a system where, you vote and put it in an envelope, unmarked, and take that unmarked envelope and put it in another envelope, a marked enveloped for keeping track of whoever voted, okay, so you just pull them out, throw them in a hat (inaudible).

There were also some statements made with respect that there is more serious weaknesses in the existing legislation. For example re privatization. If you privatize for example Hydro; there is nothing in the legislation apparently for the protection of the worker for job loss. There is some concern with respect to no penalties for interference or intimidation. Basically, you will end up with a five or six months delay; the board would rule and that again was the end result, no penalties. I am telling you some of the things that were brought up just for general information. There were questions regarding the majority of those voting over the majority of the bargaining unit and that was mentioned here earlier tonight. There needs to be something on it to clarify that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I did not plan to go on as long as I did actually but, I did. I had to say that basically, I would support the legislation with some of the amendments that may be forthcoming tomorrow, that I have seen-


MR. J. BYRNE: Yes. Now, there is one point I would like to make and that is, during the committee meetings we brought forth a couple of amendments, one was accepted one was not, and I think since the committees, somewhere along the way, we may see some changes other that what we had presented in committee, in committee and that would be - actually, if you want to get down to it, one of the resolutions that I wanted to put forward at the committee meetings but was rejected at the committee, was basically contained now in the new amendments put forward.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is exactly right. Now I have a little note here that was presented to me. St. John's East Extern, Extern (inaudible) here, where is he?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) over the amendments, whatever you do.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, that is what I was planning to here now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Only a joke boys, (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: On that note I will sit down.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, if he speaks now he will close the debate. The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think we should have had that captured on film or in pictures because we could have had a example of panic setting in in a hurry. There was no doubt about it.

Not to be unparliamentary at all, but I do regret that the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern, who I hold in the utmost respect, did I guess - I was going to say mislead, but he outright lied about the shortest speech, you know, the fact that he was -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: About the fact that he was going to give the shortest speech of the day. He did apologize, because he recognized that he went on a bit longer than he said so.

I do recognize, Mr. Speaker, that indeed some of the concerns that the Opposition in fact did intend to raise in the Committee had been already picked up in terms of review by the Labour Relations Board staff and some staff of the Department of Employment and Labour Relations, and will be taken care of in Committee tomorrow.

Just a couple of comments, again for the written record. Because we have had a practice before where some members in the House - I certainly don't ascribe to the practice - but there are certain members who tend to take excerpts from certain debates and send them around the Province and stick them up in fish plants and post offices and stuff like that, to prove what somebody said or didn't say. Just in case that happens I figure I better make a couple of comments about some of the representations that were made, and certainly appreciate the input in the debate.

Each of the members presented a view, but there seemed to be one particular theme, that there was inadequate time for discussion and those types of things. That concern was raised repeatedly. Even when I addressed that issue with representatives of both the labour movement and the employers - because both indicated they really would like to have some more time to talk about this. We have been trying to put across the view that by all means we would like to discuss lots of issues, but in the labour relations area we have been saying we would discuss it sort of almost till the cows come home if we thought at the end of the day there was some hope that there would be a consensus. That both of the parties would come to us and agree together to make the change.

Very early in this procedure, even from a couple of years ago in the initial conference in Gander, it was clear that if this change were to be made, which this government believes is the right change to make, there would never be consensus from the major players, the main players being official representatives of employers and official representatives of employees. So we could send this around the Province for another ten years and we would be back doing exactly what we are doing today, which is to have the vote with some people agreeing with it, and some disagreeing with it.

Right now at this point in time, we believe it is the right thing to do. To answer my good friend, the hon. Member for Menihek, he talked about, what about input from the public. I always take the public to be the people without a vested interest. Not the union organizers or the union representatives, not the people who are on executives of labour organizations, but the public generally. When we did get input from the public generally about this issue the only consistent response that we got was that they were surprised that we were bringing it in because they thought this is how it worked anyway. They couldn't believe that actually getting a union to represent you and being in a union, or deciding to leave, was decided any other way than by a secret ballot.

On that basis, if the public - if we use that definition of the public in Newfoundland - were asked their further input in this they would still express that amazement again, you mean to say it has not always happened like that? I thought it was always like that. That is the only response we ever got, but those people who are in the vested interest position in terms of promoting the organization of people in unions and promoting the better interest of the business community through business organizations, they have fundamental disagreements as to how this should be done which will never come to a consensus that we can envisage. In our review of it over the last couple of years we have become convinced that the amendments that are proposed in this bill are the right amendments for this Province and in fact we agree with the public in that we think they always should have been here and that we will change this procedure. We will look at some amendments tomorrow. We will look at some amendments in committee. I know there will be further discussion and we will have a continuing debate about some of these amendments tomorrow.

I would like to conclude, just before I move second reading, by again thanking all of those groups that did come forward in the admittedly short period of time they did have to prepare themselves and present, and to thank the members of the committee because they did put an extraordinary effort in this in a very shore compacted time frame. I think we will go through the committee stage tomorrow and see which amendments will be approved and then go on about our business. I just alert members of the House, by the way, that you might not have totally caught the significance of the last amendment that is proposed for tomorrow which is to have the bill enacted at a date to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, that Cabinet will allow a period of time and the government will allow a period of time, even though the bill will be passed by this Legislature, we certainly hope and expect tomorrow, that there will be a period of time after Christmas for representatives of the unions and representatives of the employers to meet with the Labour Relations Board, their staff, the board itself, to then discuss any problems they have with respect to the administration of this new method for conducting compulsory vote. We understand they still have a few concerns about the ballot itself, a few of the technical points about its administration. When they have had an opportunity for five or six weeks, or a couple of months after Christmas to get some comfort with what the new mechanism will be, then we will enact the bill and any applications after that point in time will lead to an automatic ballot as outlined in the bill.

With those remarks, Mr. Speaker, I thank everyone for participation in the debate and move second reading of the bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 49)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank hon. members for their enthusiastic participation -

AN HON. MEMBER: Just keep her going.

MR. ROBERTS: - and not withstanding the cries from at least this side to keep her going...... before I move the adjournment let me say that tomorrow we shall deal with the matters that are at Committee stage, which will be, on today's Order paper, Orders 4,5,6 and 8. That will -


MR. ROBERTS: Yes. The Act To Amend The Residential Tenancies Act will not be brought forward for debate at this session, and Orders 3 and 2 have been referred to standing committees of the House under Standing Order 54.2, I guess.

In any event, we will deal with those four bills at Committee stage tomorrow. There are some amendments from this side, there may be some from the other side. We will then do third readings. I understand His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, will attend at the latter part of the morning, or early part of the - or whatever may be the case. He will be here upon reasonable notice being given to him, and one anticipates that he will give assent to the bills which will be presented to him, but it is not for us to presume upon His Honour's prerogative. In any event, that is the order for tomorrow and we will go on from there.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m., and that the House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.