February 28, 1994           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 1

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Admit Their Lordships, The Justices of the Supreme Court.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Mr. Speaker, His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor has arrived.

MR. SPEAKER: Admit His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor.

Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair.

His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor takes the Chair.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Ladies and gentlemen, it is the wish of His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor that all present be seated.

Thank you.


Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

I take great pride and pleasure in welcoming you to the Second Session of the Forty-Second General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland.

The emphasis of My Government in this Session of the House of Assembly will be to commence the process of truly transforming this Province into one of the most attractive locations in North American for business investment and to initiate aggressive new measures to market and promote the Province's strengths in this regard on a national and international basis.

The goal of attracting business investment as a means to create employment opportunities has been a major challenge facing every government in this Province in this century. However, the devastating Province-wide impact on our economy resulting from the collapse of the groundfish fishery during the last five years is such that it has made new business investment directed at economic diversification not only an objective but an imperative.

As well, the liberalization of world trade continues to accelerate and is expected to constitute the primary catalyst for global economic growth well into the next century. This liberalization brings both increased competition and opportunity for economic activity, and is the driving force behind the growing emphasis on international competitiveness and the fundamental economic restructuring that is now occurring in many countries. In this changing global economy, Newfoundland and Labrador must look beyond its small domestic market to achieve the level of wealth creation that will provide the citizens of this Province with higher incomes, more employment opportunities, and improved public services. This will, out of necessity, require My Government to be increasingly outward looking in its approach to economic development and to create an appropriate investment climate that supports international competitiveness.

In this context, My Government began early during its first mandate to develop a comprehensive and action oriented Strategic Economic Plan for the Province to guide economic development over the long term. With the benefit of a wide-ranging public consultation process that reached all corners of the Province, and with the support and advice provided by the Advisory Council on the Economy, My Government released its Strategic Economic Plan in June of 1992. The goal of the Plan is to bring all elements of society together - governments, business, labour, academia and others - to make the provincial economy more vibrant, productive and globally competitive. Substantial progress in implementing the Strategic Economic Plan has been made in virtually all sectors since that time and a formal status report on the Plan was recently released to the people of this Province by My First Minister.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

A key element of My Government's strategy for economic development as enunciated in the Strategic Economic Plan is that the private sector must be the engine of economic growth. The role of government is to create the economic climate in which private sector investment can occur and be successful. My Government remains committed to this important principle and will be proposing specific new measures over the coming months to significantly improve the attractiveness of the Province as a place to do business and to invest.

The clear statement in the Strategic Economic Plan that My Government will privatize appropriate public services where they can be provided by the private sector in an acceptable manner reflects this philosophy. Such an approach furthers two major objectives. First, it serves to promote and develop a stronger and more broadly based private sector in the Province. Second, it enables the use of the limited capital funds available to My Government to provide essential public services instead of investing them in commercial areas where the private sector is prepared to operate. Furthermore, there is potential through various privatization initiatives to recover some of the capital investment made by the people of this Province over time in selected government services, and thereby reduce future borrowings that would otherwise be required to sustain ongoing government operations and support new capital initiatives.

The major focus of My Government's privatization program for the past year has been with respect to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation and Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services Limited. The first order of business in this new Session will be consideration of My Government's proposal for restructuring the Newfoundland and Labrador electrical industry, including privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation. My Government is also continuing discussions with NewTel Enterprises Limited and its alliance partners, Anderson Consulting Limited, and Bell Sygma Incorporated, for the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services. My Government intends, as well, to issue a public call for proposals in the very near future for the privatization of Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation. Further privatization initiatives in appropriate areas will be announced by My Ministers during this Session.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

As a further tangible expression of My Government's determination to accelerate its efforts in promoting and developing a stronger and more effective private sector in this Province, an unprecedented and comprehensive legislative proposal will be introduced in this Session entitled "A Bill to Promote Business Investment in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador." The purpose of this Bill will be to significantly improve the business investment climate of the Province.

The first area to be addressed in this legislation will be the restructuring and refocusing of departmental activity directed at enhancing economic development in the Province. Changes will be made to all economic development departments and agencies that will focus added attention on the importance of a client centred approach to business development. The objective will be to ensure that when firms and investors express interest in pursuing specific business development opportunities in this Province, government officials are available to support and navigate them through the regulatory and development approval process such that their interest is maintained, timely decisions are made, and a positive attitude toward and image of the Province as a good place to invest is fostered and continuously reinforced.

The second area My Government intends to address will be the relatively high burden of taxation that is presently faced by the private sector and which impedes new investment and the creation of new employment opportunities in this Province. While a number of significant changes to the existing business tax structure have already been adopted by My Government, the entire taxation regime requires further attention if it is to be used as a means of promoting Newfoundland and Labrador as a highly competitive location in which to do business. Substantive changes to the existing tax structure affecting the private sector at the provincial and municipal levels will be made to provide tax holidays for new or expanding business enterprises in the Province. This will be accomplished in such a manner that existing business enterprises in the Province will not be placed at a competitive disadvantage relative to those companies and investors who are able to take advantage of the new tax regime.

The third area to be addressed in the Bill will be the labour market training domain. While My Government has already taken decisive steps to restructure and improve our basic and post-secondary educational system, additional measures will be proposed to provide enhanced labour market training incentives to new and expanding business enterprises as well as to existing businesses that need to refocus their corporate operations and upgrade their existing workforce to remain competitive. This will assist in the training and retraining of the provincial workforce to meet the demands of the changing global marketplace and to take advantage of new employment opportunities that will be created through new investment made directly by the private sector.

The fourth area in which My Government intends to introduce reform is in respect of the provincial environmental assessment process. My Ministers remain fully committed to protecting the environment and have recently adopted new measures to address particular problems related to abandoned automobile wrecks and the indiscriminate use of all-terrain vehicles. Further positive initiatives to address various other environmental challenges facing the Province are planned by My Government in the coming months. At the same time, however, My Government is concerned that the provincial environmental assessment process, as currently administered, has in some circumstances become unnecessarily burdensome to economic development in the Province, especially in terms of the length of time necessary to make decisions on individual project proposals. Consultations with all major stakeholders on the environmental assessment process have recently been concluded and appropriate reforms to streamline the overall process, without compromising the fundamental integrity of the existing Environmental Assessment Act, will be proposed in the new Bill.

The final element of this comprehensive Bill will provide for a more positive labour relations climate in the Province that will serve to attract new investment and stimulate new business enterprises. My Government recognizes its responsibility to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and that adequate safeguards to protect their interests remain in place. However, it is in the broader public interest to achieve these objectives in a balanced manner that also assures those who wish to conduct and carry on business and provide economic opportunity in this Province have a reasonable prospect of receiving an acceptable level of return on their investment without undue risk from uncertain labour relations conditions. A new approach to labour-management relations, reflective of the realities of conducting business in the ever increasing and competitive global economy, is in the common interest of all citizens of this Province.

The overall intent of the "Bill to Promote Business Investment in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador" will be to ensure that when the Province is objectively measured on the basis of its business climate, taxation levels, regulatory regime, workforce and labour relations climate, it will be judged to be among the best places, not only in Canada but in all of North America, for a business to invest and prosper.

In addition to the measures provided for in the Business Investment Bill, My Government intends to establish an independent Commission to oversee a review of all of My Government's existing regulations, with a view to substantially reducing the onerous regulatory burden that is presently imposed on those who wish to pursue or carry on economic activity in this Province. The goal will be to retain only those regulations which are absolutely essential for the orderly management of the public affairs of the Province and the protection of the general public interest in terms of appropriate health, safety and environmental standards. Each and every regulation of My Government will be evaluated in respect of its effect on the competitiveness of the private sector in national and international markets, as well as the extent to which existing regulations discourage innovation and efficiency in business operations. All unnecessarily burdensome regulations will be eliminated and steps will be taken to streamline and make the burden that remains far easier for business to bear. To ensure this objective is successfully achieved, this Honourable House will be asked to give its consent to legislation that will identify a specific sunset period beyond which all existing regulations will become null and void unless they are expressly re-confirmed by the Commission and by My Ministers through this review process.

Complementary to this overall regulatory review process, a plan will be outlined in this Honourable House for the more effective administration of My Government's land acquisition, land development and building permitting, licensing and inspection functions, including the consolidation of these functions, to the maximum extent practical, in a single agency with offices throughout the Province. This will eliminate the existing inefficiencies and duplication of service provided by a multitude of government departments and agencies in this area, and will thereby provide a more streamlined, timely and accessible "one-stop" approval process for the public, including the business community.

Now that the global economic recession has largely dissipated, it is the opportune time to act on these measures and, in parallel, to launch an aggressive and focused business prospecting initiative on a national and international basis to promote the Province and attract new investment that is essential to the economic future of Newfoundland and Labrador. The recent visits that were led by My First Minister to the United States and the Far East marked the commencement of this new business prospecting initiative. These efforts will continue in other parts of the world where promising business and economic opportunities are reasonably present.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Contrary to popular perception among some circles, the fishery of the Province remains a positive and substantial contributor to total provincial economic output. In 1993, the value of fish products sold in the marketplace reached almost $500 million and peak employment, although primarily part-time, approximated 31,000 people. As well, the fishery is still the basic source of revenue for a large number of small communities in this Province and certain areas of the fishery are performing exceptionally well and offer opportunity for expansion.

Notwithstanding this situation, the ongoing crisis in the groundfish fishery remains a major concern for My Government since it is now clearly evident that this crisis will continue to have unprecedented implications for our economy and our people over the foreseeable future. My Government remains firm in its conviction that this problem requires attention on four inter-related fronts, all of which necessitate strong action and leadership both at the federal and provincial levels with full consultation and co-operation of all components of the industry and affected communities.

First, the magnitude of the current crisis and its impact will necessitate the continuation of a fair and equitable compensation and income adjustment program for those fisherpersons and industry workers impacted by the closure of various groundfish fisheries. The collapse of these fisheries, in the main but not exclusively, has its roots in the failure of federal fisheries management decisions. These decisions have largely led to the present situation and hence there is an obligation on the part of the Government of Canada to accept responsibility for the economic circumstances of those who have been affected by the closure of these fisheries.

Second, in recognition of the fact that the very nature and character of the fishery of the future will be fundamentally different from the fishery of the past, there is a need for the federal and provincial governments to jointly develop and implement a fisheries industry restructuring program in order to build a stronger and more viable industry in the future. This can best be achieved through a joint federal-provincial fisheries renewal board which would provide for an effective voice for the Province in important fisheries management decisions and facilitate the more effective coordination of all aspects of federal and provincial fisheries policies. My Government's specific approach to the restructuring of the fishery will be released during this Session in a "White Paper on the Fishery of the Future", which will reflect and take into account the results of the public review of an earlier discussion document released on this subject entitled "Changing Tides".

Third, the long-term impacts of the loss of a major part of the Province's fishing industry can only be mitigated through a joint federal-provincial economic restructuring agreement which provides sufficient funding to rebuild and diversify the Province's economic base. The federal Task Force on Incomes and Adjustment in the Atlantic Fishery, in its recently released report, highlighted the need for such a concerted response. My Government will be seeking the Government of Canada's full support for an initiative of this nature as a critical element of a long-term comprehensive response to the fisheries crisis.

Fourth, there is an over-riding need for the Government of Canada to adopt decisive fisheries management conservation measures to address the unprecedented decline in the groundfish resource generally, including effective measures to eliminate foreign overfishing of straddling and other groundfish stocks on and adjacent to the "Nose" and "Tail" of the Grand Banks. My Government is encouraged by the publicly stated commitment of the new federal government to address the problem of foreign overfishing in a timely manner, and welcomes the recent landmark decision by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization to place a one year moratorium on the cod fishery of the southern Grand Banks. My Government will press the Government of Canada to ensure that these new international measures are strictly complied with by all member states of NAFO and that other appropriate measures are taken to address fisheries conservation needs over the longer term and in respect of other economically important species of interest to the Province in the waters outside the 200 mile limit.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government recognizes that the key to long-term economic and social development of the Province will be a well educated population. The people of the Province have clearly called for improvements in the performance of our education system. To this end, My Government has embarked on a major program of educational reform and has endeavoured to involve all key stakeholders in this process on a constructive basis. It is My Government's hope that the necessary changes which must be made to the education system will be able to be implemented with the support and cooperation of all concerned.

The first stage of reform will be a restructuring of the way in which education is governed. Legislation will be introduced to reform the structure of school boards, the provincial governing structure and the organization of schools, the principles of which have been substantially outlined in a public document entitled "Adjusting the Course". At the same time, My Government intends to move forward on a number of other initiatives stemming from the Report of the Royal Commission on the Delivery of Programs and Services in Primary, Elementary and Secondary Education which were outlined in a recently released report entitled "Adjusting the Course - Part II - Improving the Condition for Learning". Certain of these initiatives, particularly those having to do with the school year and school day, teacher certification, standards-setting, school accreditation and school councils, will also require the legislative consent of this Honourable House. All of this will require a comprehensive legislative package, incorporating changes to The Department of Education Act, The School Act, The Teacher Training Act, and other relevant legislation.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

While the urgency of present circumstances dictates that priority must be given to the economic challenges facing the Province, My Government remains firmly committed to addressing existing and emerging social issues through the development and implementation of a Strategic Social Plan. This initiative was announced in My Address to this Honourable House on March 4, 1993, and work commenced immediately thereafter on the essential task of updating and examining existing data, reviewing the programs of all government departments and agencies involved in the delivery of social services, and researching emerging trends and the demand for new social initiatives. The team of senior officials who have been working on this phase of the social planning process will be reporting to Cabinet shortly, and My Government will subsequently prepare a consultation document for public examination and discussion. As in the case of the Strategic Economic Plan, public meetings will be held in every region of the Province so that all concerned organizations and individuals will have every opportunity to contribute to the final stages of the planning process. Once the public consultation step is completed in the Fall of 1994, a formal Strategic Social Plan will be compiled and confirmed as My Government's policy, with implementation to begin in the 1995-96 fiscal year. It is the intention of My Government that increasing pressures and challenges arising as a consequence of the acceleration of economic and social change at home and abroad will be anticipated and addressed effectively through a planned approach in concerted and cooperative community action.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Our Province will mark two important anniversaries during 1994.

On June 14th of this year, we will be celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the historic first trans-Atlantic flight by Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Brown of the Royal Air Force. On June 14th, 1919 at 12:58 p.m. Newfoundland time, Alcock and Brown took off in their Vickers Vimy Bomber from Lester's Field in St. John's. Sixteen hours and twelve minutes later they landed in a bog in Clifden, Ireland, to complete the first non-stop Atlantic crossing by air. This was the start of what today has become a tidal wave of thousands of aircraft passing over Newfoundland and Labrador yearly as they traverse the Atlantic Ocean.

June 6th of this year will mark the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion when allied troops stormed the windswept beaches of Normandy launching the deciding battle of World War II in Europe. Of course, D-Day commemorations symbolize the final victory, as this battle was but a part of the whole. Nearly 20,000 men and women from Newfoundland and Labrador served in the army, navy and air force during the Second World War. They fought in the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, in North Africa, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and elsewhere, so that we and generations yet to come could live as free men and women. During two world wars, 900,000 Canadians went to Britain and fought alongside them in the great battles of the two wars - 100,000 of them died. Up to now, no monument or memorial existed in Britain to commemorate Canada's role in these wars. On June 3rd of this year, Her Majesty the Queen will unveil the Canada Memorial at Green Park, London, to finally recognize this magnificent contribution. On June 6th, the 50th Anniversary of the actual D-Day Invasion in 1944, a Canadian Remembrance Ceremony will be held in Beny Reviers Canadian Cemetery in Normandy. His Excellency the Governor General and the Prime Minister will be at both the ceremony in London and the one in Normandy. Although on a private visit to Europe, I am privileged to say that my wife and I will also be present at both ceremonies. My Government will honour both these important anniversaries.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

During this Session My Government plans to place a number of important legislative proposals before you in addition to the legislative measures to which I have already referred. During the course of this Session, you will also be asked to grant supply to Her Majesty.

A full listing of My Government's legislative agenda for this Session of the House of Assembly will be tabled at the earliest opportunity so that all Members can properly prepare for the upcoming proceedings.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

I invoke God's blessing upon you as you commence your labours in this Second Session of the Forty-second General Assembly. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.


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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there is a very ancient tradition in this House and in the British Parliament that before we do the Queen's business, we do our own. Accordingly, I ask leave on behalf of the Premier to introduce a bill entitled, a bill, "An Act To Regulate The Electrical Power Resources Of Newfoundland And Labrador", and if we get leave to introduce it I shall ask that it be read a first time, this day.


Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Regulate The Electrical Power Resources Of Newfoundland And Labrador", carried.

On motion, bill read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to make a speech to the members met in General Assembly and for greater accuracy I have obtained a copy.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, perhaps we could dispense; we were all here and heard His Honour deliver the speech in fine fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Are there any further motions?

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAM ANDERSEN III: Mr. Speaker, hon. members, honoured guests, it is with great pleasure that I rise on this occasion as the Member for Torngat Mountains district, to propose that a committee of this hon. House be appointed to draft An Address in Reply to the gracious speech delivered by His Honour.

I would like to, Mr. Speaker, at this point, say a few words once again to my electorate: Itsivautak, Kujalingmagikkenga aulitjaigiamut suliatsaginiolektavat ukausiunniunga kangitougianganat Amma itsivautak, inoktigijakkanik Torngat kakkasuanginni tatsumani jarimi sulijojumik kiggatugasunniat-tunga yukisijantsiagumavunga.

Mr. Speaker, in the upcoming session, there are a few issues that are very important not only to the Aboriginal people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but to the District of Torngat Mountains in general, and I would like to say, I am very proud to be a member of a government which has taken positive steps and tough decisions to work toward economic growth, realignment of education, dealing with the next to impossible issue of a collapsing fishery and on top of all that, looking at economic development like we have never before.

The need for realignment of the educational system, Mr. Speaker, is something I fully support. I will speak very shortly of the experiences that I went through as a student, and as well, I believe of the experiences that students today are going through.

Back in the 50s and 60s, when I went to school, Mr. Speaker, it was banned for me to use my own language, Inuktitut, in the educational system. It was a punishable act. Today, Mr. Speaker, governments have taken positive steps in reintroducing the use of the Inuktitut and the Innuin language in Labrador. That was a very positive step, but it does not quite go far enough.

You look at my district, which thankfully the commission has not touched, even though I have the smallest number of voters of any district in the Province - approximately 3,000. We have three school boards - the Integrated School Board, the Roman Catholic School Board, and the Pentecostal School Board - delivering education to a small number of students, some of whom are Inuit, some of whom are Innu, and some of whom are regular unilingual English speaking people, and those three school boards cost this Province and the federal government millions of dollars to operate. It still would cost millions of dollars to operate under one system, but at least we could economize and do away with the thing that happens most to people, and that is looking at one another as though we are either a first-class or second-class citizen because we belong to a different religion.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that each individual has the right to have their choice of religion, and I fully support that, but in this day and age of economic restraint we must realize that we have to deliver the best possible education to each and every student in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the best way possible, and I believe the proposed realignment is the way possible.

Mr. Speaker, it is also with great pleasure that I accept a decision made by the hon. Minister of Health a week-and-a-half ago to appoint a committee to look into the administration of Grenfell Regional Health Services, which services not only my district but a large portion of Labrador as well as the Great Northern Peninsula.

It took a lot of guts and nerve, I think, to come out and appoint a committee to look at the administration of a health system that has been in place for a long, long time, but I believe it is time positive steps were taken to ensure that the health care delivery is being delivered to the residents of all the districts, not only of Torngat Mountains but in Labrador generally, and that the health care system is up to standard and people are happy with it.

Mr. Speaker, in relation to the fishery, I do not know that there is a lot I can say about the fishery other than it is still possible for the fishery to survive, especially in the District of Torngat Mountains; but before going to that, I would like to spend a few moments once again hopefully helping to make my colleagues and members of the Opposition, and the hon. member for the NDP, that I believe there has been an injustice to the Torngat Mountains district and its cod fishermen.

In the fifties, sixties and seventies, 90 per cent of the people I now represent were cod fishermen. Into the mid-seventies, early eighties, that dropped off because the inshore fishery was dying out - overfished by not only the fishermen from my district, but Maritime fishermen from the Island of Newfoundland, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. Today, with the cod moratorium on, about 5 per cent of those fishermen have benefitted from NCARP. The other 95 per cent received nothing, and I believe that is an injustice to long-term residents of this great Province of ours, and in part to residents in Northern Labrador who were here 5,000 years ago, 4,000 years before Europeans ever came.

In 1985 the federal Government of Canada, when the seal fishery died, which was a $2.5 million a year economic activity for the District of Torngat Mountains, compensated the sealers of the District of Torngat Mountains. That compensation package, Mr. Speaker, was worth $50,000, or it translated into approximately $100 per sealer for a loss of an economic activity that was carried out for 200 years.

That was an injustice, and I would like to have the support of my colleagues in this hon. House in recreating that justice. I believe our hon. Leader is moving in the right direction in trying to recreate the sealing industry, which I support not only for the District of Torngat Mountains but for the whole Province. I fully support the right of Island sealers just as well as the aboriginal sealers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of aboriginal rights, that is a very interesting one for me in that I think we approach this from two different views. Me standing here as a single aboriginal person perhaps views the issue of aboriginal rights a little differently. To the majority of Canadians, to the majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, aboriginal rights is a special rights issue. As an aboriginal person the rights as I exercise them in my own culture are not special to me. They are just regular activities that I exercise in the way my culture has over the thousands of years. Therefore, even though aboriginal rights issues may be seen as special, they still have to be dealt with. I think this government, of which I'm very proud to be a member, has taken positive steps toward answering the problem of settling aboriginal rights, be they hunting, fishing, or gathering rights, or cultural, language, or self-government rights, for that matter.

However, Mr. Speaker, I am also very proud of the stand that our hon. Premier has taken with respect to Davis Inlet. I believe that Davis Inlet has a right to move if they want to. I don't believe that the Canadian taxpayers, the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador, should spend $84 million to move a community without proper plans in place to deal with the social problems that the community of Davis Inlet today faces. Not once have I heard or seen any plans of action to deal with the social breakdown that is happening in Davis Inlet. That social breakdown and problem exists in every community, not only aboriginal communities. Perhaps more vividly in aboriginal communities in that aboriginal people are minority groups. Therefore, even though I am an aboriginal rights advocate, I cannot for whatever reasons see the justification of spending $84 million on 400 people just to relocate the problem, not to solve it.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of privatization is also an issue I personally very much support, and I am very proud to be part of a government which is taking the bold steps to do that. It takes tough decisions to make tough moves and I think the privatization plans of the government, of which I am very proud to be a member, are the right moves toward proper economic management, as well as governing the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. If we are not privatizing we have to either raise taxes in order to run the Crown corporations or borrow money, which I very well understand by now. This country, let alone Newfoundland and Labrador, can ill afford that at the present time.

Mr. Speaker, I would like, at this point, to formally move that a committee be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Gracious Speech from the Throne.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am pleased to have the privilege to second the motion as just put by my colleague, the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains. I am pleased, Mr. Speaker, and hon. colleagues, to have the opportunity to speak today in this very challenging and invigorating legislative agenda that has just been placed before this hon. House.

Mr. Speaker, we have just heard a program for legislative consideration that represents an attitude of pride in, and hope for, the future of this Province. I represent the district of St. John's North and it is a district that includes many of the common elements that we will all find throughout our districts and throughout our Province. Included in my district is the most modern educational facility in the Province as represented by the Medical School at the Health Sciences Complex. Also included is probably one of the smallest educational institutions in the Province as represented by the Rabbittown Community Centre. The district includes some of the largest corporate head offices in the Province and it includes some of the smallest entrepreneurial efforts in the Province as well. It includes modest housing, it includes a full one-third of all of the public housing units in St. John's, 847 units of publicly-assisted housing that is giving great care to those who are not completely able to, in and of their own volition and means, provide that level of accommodation.

Mr. Speaker, the district I represent also really represents the common single most important aspiration of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Mr. Speaker, and hon. colleagues, that basic and common desire is to be able, without the assistance of others on a subsidized basis, to provide a level of income and a decent living for themselves and for their families. Newfoundlanders have a desire to provide for themselves with dignity and with honour. We are not a people who wish to thrive on hand-outs or support from outside sources. The future of this Province and the well-being of our people will be directly related to the opportunities they will have to participate in a vigorous and a challenging economy in which they can pursue employment opportunities for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, our youth and our people have not lost faith in this Province. Of course, we have endured some difficult and economic times; however, Mr. Speaker, this government is resolute in its commitment to a strong private sector, which is our best hope for the future of ourselves and generations to follow. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that Newfoundlanders are up to the challenge of participating in a revitalized private sector economy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: About three weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, a young person from my district walked into my office to talk about what programs might be available to assist small business enterprises. He told me this - he said, `I was unemployed and drawing unemployment, but in December of last year, 1993, I decided to voluntarily withdraw myself from the Unemployment Insurance rolls of the Province. I decided, with the help of my father, to invest $2,500 in a small take-out restaurant. I asked: `Why did you do that?' He said, `Because I believe that I can support myself and make a living out there as one amongst equals with the best.'

About four or five days ago, not more than a week ago, Mr. Speaker, I had a visit or a chat with a young person from my district, a young twenty-three year old recent Memorial University graduate, who is working in the private sector at the moment, and he said, `I want to ask you a question, Sir.' I asked, `What is it?' He said, `I want to know how quickly and how soon I can buy some shares in Hydro.' It was a surprising question, I thought. I said to him: `Why do you ask?' Let me paraphrase and tell you his answer, as best I can put it. He said, `Sir, because I believe it is going to be an excellent opportunity for me to invest. It is going to be a great opportunity for me to be part of a new and revitalized economy in this Province, in which I intend to participate for a long time to come.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker and hon. members of this House, I must confess, I liked the question. I trust that before very long I will be able to give him a satisfactory answer to his question. People of this Province, Mr. Speaker, are ready and willing to be part of a vibrant economy and we intend to give them that opportunity to so participate if they choose.

I placed before this House, Mr. Speaker, during the last sitting, a private member's motion that spoke to the interest and the concerns of small business in the Province. Some of the resolutions in that motion are reflected quite closely in some of the language in the Speech from the Throne that we have heard today. The small business sector employs fully 40 per cent of all the jobs that are out there at the moment. The small business sector is presently generating 85 per cent of all of the jobs that are now coming on stream and that sector, Mr. Speaker, and hon. members, deserves our support, our encouragement, our consideration and the assistance that we can give it to ensure that it is successful as they provide opportunities for our youth in which to work.

Mr. Speaker, the role of this government or any government, is not to be all things to all people. We are not to be the employer of first resort but rather we are to be the people who will set the parameters, lay out the ground rules and make life simple so that they can participate. We are to facilitate in adjusting, as it were, of attitudes amongst our people consistent with the new economic realities that are out there today.

Mr. Speaker and hon. members, I am frankly excited about the agenda for the private sector that has been outlined in the Throne Speech today. I am pleased about the commitment to de-regularize and streamline the processes and agencies of government, the regulatory bodies that sometimes get in the way of private enterprise being able to do its job and to provide the work that our people so desperately need.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders have always been renowned for their work ethic, and we have always been up to the challenge of adjusting our talents and being retrained to meet the new job requirements that are out there. And I believe that if we reflect on the experience of our people at the Hibernia site, it is probably the most recent testimony to the fact of the ingenuity, the ability and the willingness of our people to solve, adjust and find new employment and do it effectively, efficiently - do it well.

Mr. Speaker, modern training, adequate education are tools that we must place in the hands of our young people and some of our older people, so that they can enjoy prosperity. This government will see to it that we project the labour climate that is fair, and that is competitive.

Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech today, represents the attitude and the determination of a `can do' government. We can do, Mr. Speaker, and we will do because we must. We do not have a choice and I will tell you why. Just nine short months ago, the people of this Province were asked to pass judgement on a set of economic strategies for development that were laid before them in a general election, and I am happy to remind all of you that that agenda was received and soundly endorsed to the betterment of all Newfoundlanders and for the good of the Province in general.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the land is strong, but the land must be made stronger. Mr. Speaker, the leadership of this government is strong; it is visionary, it is committed and dedicated to ensuring that not only this generation but generations to follow will have an opportunity for employment and prosperity, and it will be because this House cared and took the necessary steps to ensure that this will occur. Mr. Speaker, the Legislative agenda of the House will challenge our energies, it will challenge our vision, it will challenge our resolve; however, we must be positive, we must be productive while, at the same time, of course, being compassionate and caring.

Mr. Speaker, and hon. members, I believe, and it is my personal view only, that legislators who shun the hard decisions do not have the moral right to make the easy ones.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased about what I have heard in the Throne Speech today.

Mr. Speaker, and hon. members, one of the true measures of any government is its caring for those in our society who cannot, for circumstantial reasons, provide for their own well-being or take care of their own material or physical needs. This Throne Speech today makes reference to a government that is committed to ensure that social programs are delivered in the most expedient, the most compassionate, the most effective way, and in the way that they will have the greatest impact for good upon our citizens for whom we must take that type of care and to whom we must pay that type of attention.

We are committed, as a government, to the protection and the preservation of the assistance of all of our people. We must never allow, as was outlined in the Speech, Mr. Speaker, the passage of time to dull our memories to the achievements of the past or to be able to reflect once in a while upon the sacrifices that were made by those of the past to ensure that we enjoy the economic prosperity that we do have today and that we enjoy the democratic processes of government that we have and that we participate in. So, Mr. Speaker, we remember and we pause to reflect with gratitude upon those who have given so that we can yet have.

Mr. Speaker and hon. members, the United Nations has declared 1994 to be the International Year of the Family, and of all institutions that are important, and that are part of the absolutely necessary strong building blocks of our nation, it is the institution, the oldest institution known to man, the institution of the family. So I trust that this year will be a year when we will reflect upon whatever we think it will take to make our families stronger, whatever it will take to make our families a prouder people.

The role of government, Mr. Speaker, is to protect the rights of our families and our people while, at the same time, ensuring that we encourage and facilitate their aspirations, their desires and their wishes for a better future.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that as the small business and business in general is the economic engine of growth, if you like, for our economy, so the family is the binding fibre that will hold us together and stand us in good stead in times of challenge and in times of difficulty.

Mr. Speaker, as a people, we must never forget to try to live within our means. If we live within our means, life will be more meaningful for all of us. If we do not attempt to do that, life will be less meaningful for those who will come behind us.

I would commend, Mr. Speaker and hon. members, the legislative agenda that has been placed before us today. I would commend it to our attention and, for those who may not see as much good in it as some of us have already seen, I would encourage you to look at the positive, look at the good, look at the noble that is in the Throne Speech that has been presented today. Some of us might want to dwell on a glass that may be half full, but I believe we have to talk about a glass that is more than half full; it is a glass that is going to be filled to the top with economic blessing and prosperity if we are prepared to do our bit and if we are prepared to heed the good, common sense that is in the Speech, and follow the strong leadership that this government is blessed with, and that you secretly in your heart desire and appreciate.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to second the motion of my colleague from Torngat Mountains today. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for recognizing me. May I begin by congratulating the Member for Torngat Mountains on a superb speech, and likewise, the Member for St. John's North on a superb sermon. He is beginning to sound a lot like the Premier these days in lecturing the House and the people of the Province, but I am afraid, traditionally, on this day, we don't normally get into debate to any great length, and therefore, there are a lot of statements that both of them made in their speeches that we will address on another day, not today.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to extend a welcome to those visitors who are with us today, and those who have departed recently, including the visitors in the gallery, the leaders of various organizations, the church leaders, representatives of other countries, mayors of cities, councillors of cities, other distinguished leaders of various organizations and groups. I trust they haven't been too bored, sitting back for the last hour or so. It does tend to drag on sometimes on Throne Speech day.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin also by extending a very warm, heartfelt and cordial invitation to an individual - who hasn't even been mentioned by members opposite, which surprises me somewhat; on the other hand, it doesn't surprise me all that much - a former member of this House of Assembly who recently found his way back into the House of Assembly, the newest member of the House now, the Member for Placentia, Nick Careen, in the gallery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I remember very well when he left back in mid-January, whenever it was, late January, he said: `I shall return,' and return he has. We can look forward to seeing Nick in the House and his being able to speak in the House in the next week or so after the twelve days have passed. He has to wait twelve days before he can actually speak and take his seat.

Mr. Speaker, I have had a chance to look through the Throne Speech for a few moments at least before the House opened. This is Throne Speech number six from this particular government - and they are about to begin their sixth year in office - a speech that I believe can only be described as long on promises, ivory tower promises, short on specifics, short on solutions, and certainly short on hope for the people of this Province. There is nothing contained in that speech that will create one job for the people of this Province, not one example.

As a matter of fact, you will find lots of examples where there will be job losses. The privatization of Hydro, the reorganization of the educational system, all of these initiatives will create job losses. Mr. Speaker, what the people of this Province need most going into the year 1994 is what is most seriously lacking in this particular Throne Speech, and that is, a specific plan for action and initiatives to help those thousands of people around this Province today who are unemployed. They need help now, not more words, as we saw in the Throne Speech - there were lots of words, there was no question of that - they need something that will give them some reason for optimism.

Mr. Speaker, I'm afraid this Throne Speech is really another of the very typical Throne Speeches we've heard from this government for the last five years - a government that has broken promise after promise to the people of this Province. They have been getting great mileage out of their infamous slogan: Don't blame us, don't blame me, blame everybody else for all of our problems. With that slogan they hope to dismiss every failure of five years of Liberalism and toss it out the window. That is not to mention the failures that we are going to have in the years coming up, the next few years in particular.

We have all heard it before. What can we do? Throwing their hands up in the air. We have no money. Blame the recession, blame the churches, blame the unions, blame the media, blame everybody else. Blame the Federal Government. Blame the previous Tories. Blame, blame, blame. That approach, I tell the Premier and the government today, is wearing very thin. Because this government has consistently failed to live up to its ultimate responsibility, and that is to look after the well-being of the people of this Province. That is where they have failed. Everywhere you go around this Province you will see suffering. Everybody over there has seen it, I'm certain. There is increased suffering, there is increased pain, there is more anguish and anxiety than I have seen in my fifteen years in politics around this Province today, everywhere you go. People out around Newfoundland and Labrador are crying out for some help and some assistance. They are looking for some leadership, and the responsibility for the lack of action that we have seen rests on the shoulders of those people over there, that government over there, led by the Premier. They are responsible for the lack of action.

They were elected on a promise five years ago, to help our people. They were elected on a promise of economic recovery. We all remember it. They were elected on a promise to keep hospital beds open, they were elected on the promise not to have the hospitals understaffed. Those were their promises over there, Mr. Speaker.

They were elected on a promise to create jobs - remember, `bringing home every mother's son'. We all remember the promises, Mr. Speaker, and so do the people of this Province. This government has consistently refused to fulfil those promises and there are many others, like the promises made last March to the church leaders, just before an election was called last April, Mr. Speaker. This government also paints itself, quite frequently in fact, all to often, as the victims of economic misfortune. Well, Mr. Speaker, they are not the victims. The real victims are real people, people who can't pay their mortgages and have lost their homes, the thousands of public servants who have been fired from their jobs by this government over the last few years, the thousands of workers out there in the various sectors of our economy who have been laid off, fishermen and plant workers, who spend all kinds of idle hours wondering what the future holds for them and their families, young people whose hopes and ambitions have been crushed, Mr. Speaker, because they can't afford to get into university; they can't get into university because of severe restrictions that have been placed on them, and there are no jobs for them as an alternative. They, Mr. Speaker, are the real victims in our society today. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is not to mention the many entrepreneurs in this Province today who have spent their life savings trying to build up a business and have seen it go under. They are the victims of economic misfortune, not the Liberal Party nor the Liberal Government.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if you travel around this Province as I have over the last ten months, on quite an active bit of travelling, I guess you could say, I have had a chance to be in just about every part of the Province from time to time, from being up in Port Kirwan watching and helping in what little way I could, hauling caplin. I have been down in Bonavista hanging on the back of a fire truck for two hours with my friend from Bonavista during Bonavista Day. I have been over in Humber Valley to participate in a reunion, in Howley, I have been up in Rocky Harbour, in the minister's district - he isn't here today. Mr. Speaker, everywhere I travel around the Province, people are telling me a different story from the one I hear from the Member for St. John's North here today; we are not hearing that story very often. So I don't know if he is hearing it very frequently either, Mr. Speaker. But everywhere I have gone, people remember the electoral campaign promises of 1989. Remember, `Real Change' was emblazoned on every poster, on every brochure, on every window sign, on every lawn sign - `Real Change'. Well, Mr. Speaker, I tell you, the real change is in what this party promised and what they have delivered since they got in power. The best example of their response to real change was seen in Placentia district just a week or so ago, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, regrettably it is the people of our Province today who are sadly paying the price for this Liberal so-called real change. It is the people of the Province who are paying the heavy price for that, Mr. Speaker. Many people in this Province, I can tell you, feel like Father Ed Brophy felt when he wrote his letter to The Evening Telegram a few weeks ago. Not everybody agreed with what he said on television, I certainly didn't, but I agree with what he said in his letter to The Evening Telegram when he talked about the spirit and the pride of Newfoundlanders dying, when he talked about his grief over the death of a way of life, something great in Newfoundland being taken away, describing rural Newfoundland, outport Newfoundland as looking like a wake in a retirement village. Then I heard on television the other night about Parscival Copes getting recognized from some university out in British Columbia for his tremendous thinking - resettle the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and they are going to give him some kind of an award or presentation.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier will get that in ten years.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, perhaps Simon Fraser University might present the same kind of award to the Premier in ten years time, something that he could look forward to. But if you think, for one minute, that Father Ed Brophy is one in a million and that he is not expressing the views of many Newfoundlanders, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you that as Leader of the Opposition I get calls almost on a daily basis in my office, and I bump into people everywhere I go, and they express the same kinds of concerns. As a matter of fact, the Member for St. John's North referred to a constituent conversation - what a great idea that constituent had, and more power to him, or her, if they can do something with it! But I have a letter here that was written some time ago, as a matter of fact, a copy sent to me, and it came from a group of people who were seeking, in their words, a living off this rock that we call Newfoundland. They talked about how their fathers and their forefathers struggled to survive in the midst of the harshness of the climate, and fate, and they talked about the dealings they had with the fishing merchants and `the almighty admirals of the harbour', in their words. They described the bleak situation that they, as well as all other Newfoundlanders who are unemployed, still face. They complained about being force-fed Dr. House's and the Premier's income support proposal. They talked about their fear growing out of the lack of consultation and understanding and opportunities for input by the people. The Premier knows what I am talking about, because it is a copy of a letter that was sent to him back in mid-January. Here is the quote I want to use here today. They said to him: `We hope that our fear will help highlight the anxiety that you, our elected leader, and government, have caused to erupt.' This was signed, Mr. Speaker, by nineteen people, now, only a small example. Father Brophy's comments and these comments are only a couple of examples of what I am trying to tell the Premier and members of the government today, of the feeling that does exist out there around Newfoundland and Labrador. I am really afraid that a lot of people don't appreciate it, don't understand it, and perhaps don't even believe it, but I can assure you, it is there.

Then, when I hear comments from people like Michael Walker, a Newfoundland, speaking on behalf of the Fraser Institute, and when I hear him say, and read what he had to say: Unlike other Canadians, Newfoundlanders are apparently incapable of independent thought, or unable to take responsibility for their own lives. They require a task force, or a Royal Commission, or a human resources planner, to decide for them what they should do with their lives, Mr. Speaker - when I hear those kinds of statements, rage burns inside me. If I were the Premier, I would be lambasting those kinds of comments. I don't hear a sound from our Premier lambasting those kinds of comments. They shouldn't be able to make them. It is like The Toronto Globe and Mail - the editors up there on those mainland newspapers, all they ever talk about is: Newfoundlanders don't know what they are talking about and can't handle their own affairs.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe he agrees with them.

MR. SIMMS: No, I don't believe the Premier does agree with them. I don't believe for a minute that he agrees with them, but I wish to heavens that he would use some of the fire he had in him during the Meech Lake Debate and let those people know what he thinks. That is what I would like to see.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say, in case there is any doubt, that there is a strong feeling of anger existing around this Province today. Everywhere you go and everybody you talk to, that feeling of anger is emphasized time and time again because they see what is happening to our unemployment problem. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations says it is somewhere in the area of 40 per cent, in his view. Stats Canada says 21 per cent. Youth unemployment is up over 35 per cent. Tuition fees have increased by over 40 per cent. This is only in the last four or five years. They remember all of that. Bankruptcies have gone through the roof. Social assistance rolls, the minister would know, are bursting at the seams, an increase of just about 50 per cent over the last five years. There are not enough social workers to handle the problems. There are lots of welfare police lurking in the shadows to deal with the poor people. Power rates have soared out of control and they will soar out of control even higher when the government pursues their privatization legislation. Personal income tax has been jacked up by this government by 15 per cent. For every single one of you who is lucky enough to hold a job, you are paying 15 per cent more in income tax in only the last five years - unheard of in any jurisdiction the size of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. Millions have been spent on economic recovery and people are going around asking: What economic recovery? Where is the economic recovery? Payroll taxes have been implemented, costing jobs on businesses; pension plans tampered with; legal, binding, collective agreements broken by this government by the use of the Legislature.

So, Mr. Speaker, people are angry, and they have every right to be angry, and they were hoping they would hear today, in the Throne Speech, some message of hope, some reason to be optimistic, that in the next little while, in the fairly near future, this government will take some action to try to help the thousands of people who are in difficulty instead of just throwing up their arms and saying they can't do anything. Mr. Speaker, that isn't acceptable.

Now we have the Budget approaching - just a matter of weeks away. Beware the ides of March, I say to the people of the Province, Mr. Speaker, because we hear the minister on the airwaves every day talking about the drastic budget cuts that are coming around the corner. We have heard it every year for the last four years at least, but I suspect it will be similar to the previous three Budgets. It is going to be very tough and difficult for the minister, I know, but he has the fear of God placed in a lot of people in this Province, including our public servants. Maybe that is part of their strategy. I noticed the newscast on Saturday night. The debate was over who is causing the hysteria. Is it the Newfoundland Teachers' Association or is it the government? Imagine now, that is what the debate was all about - who is causing the hysteria?

So I say to the Premier and to the government, you cannot impose your will on the people of this Province simply because you think you know better, simply because you think you are somehow superior, or you are more intelligent than the people of the Province. That is wrong, to simply force your will upon the people.

So I urge the government to change its approach, to change its thinking, to allow some input and opportunities for the public on major issues like the privatization of Hydro. This is not the day to debate it, but I assure you, a debate is coming, and it will be a difficult debate. It will be a difficult issue for the government. I am sure they are aware of that, because our position is quite clear on it.

Mr. Speaker, they were hoping to see some message in the Throne Speech. They haven't seen it. It isn't there. It makes me often wonder about the value of the Throne Speech itself, and this day, the ceremony and all the rest of that stuff. With all due respect, it is a privilege and honour to have visitors on the floor of the House and in the gallery to listen to what the government's plans are, but the government's plans were all known beforehand. What we need is not more Throne Speeches; we need more action by the government, and I hope we will see that.

Mr. Speaker, let me conclude by giving a commitment to the people of the Province that we, in Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, will be firm during this session of the House, will be persistent, will be aggressive, will be confrontational if we have to be, and I expect we will probably have to be from what I heard outlined in terms of legislation, because we have questions to ask on behalf of the people of the Province. They deserve to have answers - questions to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations about his Income Supplementation Program, about how he sees labour relations in the Province today, why it has been thrown into such a tizzy; questions to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs about the way he is dealing with municipalities, and the sham that now has been created with the federal municipal infrastructure program; questions to the Minister of Environment and Lands about ATV regulations, about Come By Chance, about contracts - public relation contracts - being awarded; questions to the Minister of Education about the approach he is taking in his educational reform, and I want to hear the Member for St. John's North tell us what he thinks of government's plan to legislate those changes now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I want to hear the Member for Port au Port tell us what he thinks of it, too. It's time for you to speak out - and the Member for Lewisporte, and members on that side of the House.

We will be asking the Minister of Health why he won't undertake a public inquiry into the Grenfell operations up on the Northern Peninsula.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: And we will be asking the Minister of Mines and Energy about Hydro privatization, not that I think he knows what is going on but he is the minister and we will be asking him those questions; and we will be asking the Minister of Fisheries some hard-hitting questions like: What is it you do, exactly? The Minister of Fisheries, what role do you play? We will have questions of the Minister of Finance about the Province's fiscal position, about his dealings with the public servants and the public service of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we will be asking the Premier about his trip to Asia and we want to hear more than he told the media, which was nothing; we will be asking some questions about his $75,000 or $100,000 trip to Asia. We will be asking questions about his pre-Christmas trip to New York just prior to that; we will be asking him questions about the recent resignation of the Minister of Culture and Tourism. We will be asking him questions like, who is he going to put in his place, who is he going to put in the Cabinet?

Now, if ever you needed an example of members vying for Cabinet, Mr. Speaker, all you had to do was listen to the speech from the Member for Torngat Mountains, then the speech from the Member for St. John's North, let me tell you, that was a Cabinet entrance speech if ever I heard one and then you hear about the Member for St. George's phoning agriculture marketing boards around the Province and suggesting they should phone the Premier's office to put a word in for him because the Member for Terra Nova is trying to outbid him and trying to get in to the agriculture portfolio.

Then, Mr. Speaker, you look over here on the left, the second row, the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde has even changed his hair style to look like the Premier's, and next to him you have the Member for Bellevue, who wore a beard for about 25,000 years, now all of a sudden, his beard is gone. And of course behind the Premier is his parliamentary assistant, who today is carrying throat lozenges for the Premier because I see both of them sucking on these throat lozenges. But I say to the Premier, with all due to respect to the talents of these fine young individuals - well, some are young some are not so young - please, seven years have gone by since the Member for Stephenville stood up to the Premier, refused to give him his seat in the by-election in '87, surely, you have forgiven the Member for Stephenville by now, and I hope that when you look at the replacement in the Cabinet, that you look very seriously at the Member for Stephenville.

I know the Premier will shrug it off and say it is silly and stupid and everything like that, and that is fine, we expect that.

Mr. Speaker, I will just conclude by saying to the Premier and to the government, we intend to be aggressive, we will be persistent, in short, the gloves will be coming off.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with others in extending welcomes to people who are present in the House today, two Senators from Newfoundland, Senators Petten and Lewis, I welcome them and appreciate their continuing interest in what happens in this House; to the Member of Parliament for St. John's East who is also in the House and I welcome her today. I welcome in particular the visitors from church and state, who have been faithful attenders at the opening session of the House of Assembly ever since I remember ever having anything to do with it, and it goes back beyond 1966 when I first sat as a member, it goes back to years before that when I used to attend the House as a visitor, and I saw the members of church and state attend as a means of expressing the interest of the people whom they represent in what goes on in the House, and we do appreciate that expression of concern and interest and appreciate your being present.

The honourary consuls, the core of honourary consuls in this city have always played a fine role and I want to express appreciation to them for that. I know each of them will forgive me today if I extend an especially warm welcome to His Excellency, Mr. Berggren, the Ambassador to Canada from Sweden -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - and Madame Berggren, who is with him as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: His Excellency, I am told, is about to bring to a close his time in Canada and he is calling to pay a visit just before he leaves.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Somebody told me that. I'm delighted to hear that it isn't happening.

The real thing that I wanted to say to you is please express to all of your countrymen the sincere congratulations of this House of Assembly and the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador - and I've no doubt today I will speak for the people of Canada - on a very fine hockey game very fiercely fought.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: It was hardly an easily won game in all of the circumstances, and I say to you, I'm sure the people of Canada greatly respect the superb quality of the hockey players of Sweden and say the honour was well-deserved. Please take back our congratulations, Your Excellency.

May I also offer congratulations to the Member for Torngat Mountains. I'm sure if every one of us who sit in this House were being completely frank and honest we would express our envy at the eloquent simplicity with which he made every point that he sought to make. It is a great credit to his way and his approach to things, and I give him personal credit and extend sincere congratulations to him.

I also offer sincere congratulations to the Member for St. John's North who always thinks the issues very thoroughly through, comes to a judgement and a conclusion on it, and expresses his opinion in very clear terms. He did so again today and I express appreciation to him for that.

I was a little disturbed by the comment by the Leader of the Opposition that there was no welcome extended to the Member for Placentia. I'm sorry he's sitting where he is instead of over there because last Thursday I spoke with the Leader of the Opposition and suggested to him that if he had no objection I would ask the people on this side of the House to consent to his taking his seat now without waiting the twelve days. Not only did we want to extend congratulations to him, we wanted to make sure that he would be present in the House. I say to him that that offer still remains and he doesn't have to wait the twelve days.

Mr. Speaker, now let me deal with the Speech from the Throne and what it reflects and how it explains the government's policy and approach. As you can tell, the major focus, the overwhelming portion of the Speech, dealt with building a good business climate, a good climate for business investment in this Province. That is the objective of government, so as to promote economic development and to achieve economic development. Because we say again, no matter how many times people say the government hasn't created any jobs, governments do not create jobs that produce original dollars that build wealth for a society. They only create jobs that take away from the wealth that others create or depend upon the wealth that others create. What government must do is to build jobs that produce original dollars by the effort, and so enhance the wealth of society. That is the role of government, to create the climate that will induce the private sector investment that will create that job.

That was the objective of the government when we first took office and we started four years ago on a course to work to achieve that. We were in fact diverted in order to deal with a number of crises that have arisen in the meantime. The crisis in the fisheries. It is a major factor in this Province, a major factor in the economy of the Province, a major factor in the society of the Province, in the ability of the government to generate revenue to cope with normal needs, let alone the abnormal needs that are caused by such a circumstance.

We had to deal with the consequences of a worldwide recession that has impacted very severely on all parts of this nation - in fact, on some parts more severely than it has impacted directly on Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have had to deal with the financial situation that the whole world has had to deal with. It is not unusual for us. I can't just blame the former government of this Province. Most governments in most provinces of the nation, and the national government, over fifteen years or so previously, had been borrowing ourselves silly and created an inordinate level of debt beyond our capability of dealing with it.

The crunch has come in these last few years and we've had to deal effectively with that financial situation that constrains severely the ability to generate economic activity in times of contraction, in times of recession. It is hard to persuade businesses to invest and expand their activity when in fact they are in the process of contracting that activity.

It was a greatly increased challenge, Mr. Speaker, but the government persevered and, over time, as well as dealing with the consequences of these additional crises that we had to face, we set about building a strategic economic plan. We did it in a sensible way that had not only government input. We had input from all around the Province. It was adopted and the principles included in it were approved. If anybody had any doubt, they were clearly strongly endorsed last May of 1993.

So we are going forward with the principles involved in that Strategic Economic Plan. Up till now we've made reasonably good progress implementing the specific actions identified in that plan. Just so that it doesn't get misrepresented again, go back and read the introduction, the preface to the Plan. You will see that it states very clearly, government does not propose that this Plan itself create jobs. That is the role of the private sector, not the government. We don't suggest it is going to solve the problem in two or three or five or ten years. It is going to take a longer time to do it right because we've taken a long time to destroy the economy of the Province. I will deal with that a little more extensively in a few moments.

The objective is to make sure that government, in the management of the public affairs of this Province, creates a climate that promotes economic activity and promotes the creation of jobs by the private sector where they do some good for the economy. We intend to continue with that effort to improve the business climate and to promote investment. It is essential if we are to have real jobs that produce original dollars. It is essential if government is to bring back up again its level of revenues that were present before in order to ensure that we can manage our financial affairs and at the same time provide the kind of public services that our people need and ought to be able to reasonably expect. The future of the Province depends upon our putting that kind of a plan in place and building on a sound foundation, just the same as the future of this country depends upon the federal government having the political courage to take the tough but necessary decisions for the management of the national economy.

Many people have said to me: Why aren't you critical of the federal government because they've cut the unemployment insurance so much? Why aren't you critical? My answer is fairly simple. If I'm faced with a choice of that kind of more moderate reduction and controlled reduction on the one hand, or the risk of complete destruction of the ability of the federal government to cope with the financial affairs of this Province and our ability in the future, then I will most certainly take the moderate reduction. I think that is eminently sensible.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) federal election.

PREMIER WELLS: I said that when Mr. Mulroney was there, and pleaded with him, and endorsed what the federal government promised to do in terms of deficit reduction, and encouraged him to do it. I stood in this House and said it. Hon. members can read the speeches and see them there. Endorsed what they did and their statements in their budgets year after year to control the deficit, and stated very clearly, we couldn't be critical of the federal government because it was essential, if we are to protect the future of this Province so heavily dependent upon support from the federal government, that we maintain the financial integrity of that federal government.

A similar course is essential here, Mr. Speaker, if we are to protect the economic future of this Province.

It is important that we change the course we have been on for the last fifteen to twenty years. We have systematically virtually destroyed, or greatly reduced, the strength of the economy of this Province, and seeing the unemployment rate grow steadily from the 1960's when we were in single digit unemployment rates. Don't ever forget that. In the late 1960's the unemployment rate in this Province was in the single digits - two or three percentage points on average over the last five years of the sixties, two or three percentage points on average higher than the national. That is where we were, less than 10 per cent. Now what happened?

I asked the people in the Department of Finance to get me some statistics that show very clearly what happened. Of our spending on the resource sector in 1960, 16 per cent of our total budget was spent in support of the resource sector; 66 per cent on social; 7 per cent on debt servicing; 11 per cent on general governing. That's 16 per cent in the 1960s. By 1975 it was 11 per cent. By 1985 it was 8 per cent. By 1990 it was 5 per cent, and the unemployment rate went up in exactly the same proportion as that went down. Now there is the explanation. You don't need to be any more of an economic genius than to look at the record and see it. That's what happened. Government failed to address the economic issues, and let itself be pressured by pressure groups not to spend on the economic side. We've got to recognize that, and change that approach, and change that attitude. That is what we did. I don't think we did it intentionally - I don't suggest that for a moment - but the effect is just as bad as if we did. The consequences are just as severe.

If our politicians of the day had been a little more willing to say no to pressure groups who wanted this, that, or the other thing that we couldn't afford at the time, and had been prepared to increase expenditure on the resource side to promote economic activity, we would have been able to afford all of those things that we want because we would have built an economy that generated the revenue that enabled us to provide it.

Now it's time, Mr. Speaker, for us to recognize our failures of the past, not seek to blame anybody or cast any aspersions at anybody, but just face the reality and be prepared to make the changes that are necessary to restore and rebuild the economy for the future.

That's not done to promote the benefit of big business or big corporations, as you may hear some people say. That's done to restore the vibrancy and life of our economy so that there will be jobs for people who want them, so that government will have an adequate level of revenue to provide the kinds of public services we need. That's the motivation behind it.

We live in a free enterprise economy, and we depend on that free enterprise economy to generate the wealth we need, and if we don't create a climate where they can prosper and generate that wealth, we will doom our society forever to a second-rate level of living, and I don't want responsibility for that.

The purpose is to benefit all, not just to benefit business, or big business. It may appear on the surface that when we cut the corporation income tax, as we did last year, when we reduce the small business tax, as we did last year, when we cut the corporation manufacturing tax, as we did last year, when we do those things we want people to understand that we are not doing it to make big shareholders happy. We are doing it to rebuild the economy of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, it takes a change of attitude for people. It is requiring a change of attitude to look at the reality and be prepared to recognize it, to set aside partisan differences or partisan posturing on any side of the House and look at what the people of this Province need to secure their future. That is what we need. We need a change of attitude, a change of attitude that instead of being envious, jealous, and critical of success and high profit levels, commend them. Businesses cannot make enough profit in this Province to cause me one moment's concern, provided they obey our basic laws of occupational health and safety, provided they treat our workers fairly, and obey our basic laws. The more profit they make the better and I want everybody to know it. They will never hear a critical comment from me or any expression of envy on what they do.

There are several good reasons for that. They cannot make that level of profit without generating substantial economic activity in the process, and enhancing the economy of the Province. They cannot do it without generating large numbers of jobs for our people and creating employment opportunities, and if they make that kind of profit they will be induced to invest still further in this place where they can make great profits, and in the end all of the rest of the people of the Province, through the action of the government, will get a modest little piece of the profit anyway in the form of taxes, to share the wealth around, but if the profit is not there in the first place we do not have the jobs, we do not have the vibrant economy, and we do not get the taxes, so what do we gain by a niggardly attitude that is jealous of people when they make profit or when they have success?

Our people have got to change their attitude and I ask members of the House to start and change their own attitude on this. We have to reverse the trend and we have to be prepared to reverse the trend in government spending, of a reduced spending on the resource sector to provide for greatly increased spending on the social side. We have to be prepared to moderate that somewhat in order to promote and expand economic development in the Province, and all of us in this House, regardless of what side we sit on, have to be prepared to put the interest of the people of the Province ahead of our partisan political interest, and instead of trying to score political points be prepared to say: there is an economic reality we must face.

I believe that members opposite also are interested in the welfare of the people of this Province and in the economic future of the people of this Province and would like to see them succeed. I just say to them, if you do not mind co-operating with us - I should note that is the one word I did not hear from the Leader of the Opposition - I heard firm and confrontational but I did not hear co-operation. I am just asking him now for a little bit of co-operation. If you do not mind co-operating with us we are not going to gloat over this being a government success. Let us work together to make this a success for the people of this Province and restore and rebuild the economy of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Let us stop this comedic or semi-comedic parliamentary activity that we heard today. Let us put the interest of the people of this Province ahead of all the others and seek jointly to rebuild the economy of this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: We have to make sure that we create a business and investment climate that will allow people in this Province to compete with, not only any other part of Canada, but in fact any other part of the world, because do not forget, we are the Province of Canada that has consistently sold the least of its productivity to other sister provinces. Every year less of our total production is sold to other provinces of Canada, but every year a greater percentage of our total production has been sold to foreign countries than any other Province of Canada, except once in a while B.C. jumps ahead of us and then the next year we are back ahead of B.C. I suspect they are ahead of us now because of the collapse of our fishery but don't forget we have to be prepared to compete in the international markets because that's where our products have traditionally been sold.

So we have to build the business and investment climate here that is attractive to international investors, not just Canadian or North American investors. We have to make sure that once we build that climate and government implements all of the action items in the Strategic Economic Plan to improve the regulatory economy that we have in place, or the regulation of the economy that we have in place, that we then put in place the best incentives that any province in this country offers to business to invest and that's what's in this Throne Speech. That is what's in the bill to promote business development in the Province. Those are all of the components that are there. We have to not only continue to build the most attractive investment climate, through a better tax structure, through a more stable and less burdensome tax structure, through a greatly reduced regulatory regime, through a better environmental assessment process and a less burdensome one, through a better labour relations climate in the private sector, we now have to offer incentives.

We have to make sure that the whole world gets the message that the best place for business in this country or in North America is Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to make sure that we strengthen our private sector. The example I use in the need for strengthening our private sector, is the total corporation business tax, the total corporate business tax, small, medium and large manufacturing and everything combined, has traditionally, in recent years at least, been less then we get from cigarettes, less than we get from alcohol alone, or cigarettes alone. What is even worse, it's now significantly less than we get from lotteries and gambling. What kind of an economy is that, where we get more revenue from gambling than we do from productive activity of business? What have we done to our business climate to reduce them to that?

Now, I ask the Members of the House of Assembly to look at that reality and avoid narrow partisan approaches and look at what's in the best interest of the Province. We must strengthen our very weak private sector. That is one, but only one, of the reasons for privatization, not just Hydro, Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services, all of the other private sector type activities that government carries on that can be equally well carried on in the private sector should be done in the private sector, to strengthen it and to put in place a unit that hopefully can expand and increase private sector activity and add to investment and reinvestment instead of having it done on the public service side.

Privatization will, I believe, be an important part of the rebuilding of the economy of this Province but we must also put in place incentives for new investors, for existing businesses who want to build and expand and that is what the Throne Speech talks about, a bill that will provide for that, that will make sure that businesses who want to develop here will no longer have to go through the maze that has been developed for them in the past, that it will all be removed. Not only that it will all be removed, or virtually all of it be removed, but they will be provided with direct help to navigate through it so that it won't be a burden to them. We don't want government any longer to be a burden to investment in this Province and we have to be prepared to provide the tax holiday for a sufficient period of time to attract investors. I believe that this is a major factor in investment decision, the ultimate bottom line, and that is very much affected by the tax burden. We have to be prepared to send the message to investors who are looking at expanding and developing in this country that Newfoundland and Labrador offers them the best opportunity to produce the best bottom line.

If we don't do that they won't be here, so we will have lost the tax revenue anyway. It is no loss to us to provide for that kind of benefit. We will have lost also the job opportunities that they create and we will have lost also the opportunity to greatly increase the competence and size of our private sector economy, which is essential if we are to rebuild this Province.

We have to be prepared to make these kinds of decisions, and we have to be prepared to make sure that there exists a labour relations climate that doesn't cause fear in investors, that if they invest they might lose it through uncontrolled labour relations difficulties. We do this not to restrict the rights of labour. We do this to give union members jobs that they don't have today. If anybody is fair and objective about it, and looks through it, I think that that is what they will see there.

What I'm pleading with, with all members of this House, is forget the narrow partisanship that too often characterizes the debates and positions in this House, and let's go forward to rebuild the economy of this Province. To deal with all of these issues that are necessary to deal with if we are to make this the most attractive place in North America for investors to invest.

In the meantime we have to make sure that we deal with the other problems, and to make sure we deal with the consequences of the massive reduction in our groundfish fishery. That takes three specific responses. The need for income security for those affected; the need to rebuild and restructure our fishery of the future; the need to deal with the economic impacts on the Province as a whole and all of the individual communities that have been affected by the closure of the fisheries. We must deal with each of those three. As I told some federal ministers last week, and the Prime Minister earlier this week, the two governments can't sit down and do it in isolation. They must do it in full consultation with those in the industry that are affected. Not just the investors. The union side and the communities that are affected.

Earlier this week I met with Mr. Cashin and I met with Mr. McCurdy. The Minister of Fisheries, the Deputy and others were there. Mr. Young from Fishery Products was there. There is general consensus in this Province on that approach. I've persuaded the federal government that that ought to be an essential component of our approach, that it has to be done in concert with - and that doesn't mean developing a proposal and then showing the provincial government or the unions or the industry: Here is what it is, and that is a consultation. That is not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is real involvement in expressing views and participation in designing the best way to deal with these three major components of our problem.

We must as well deal with the critical issue of conservation and foreign overfishing. In the meantime, as the Speech from the Throne indicates, we do not propose to ignore the social needs of the Province, and the need to refocus and restructure many of our social programs so that they deliver the best possible services for our people within the limit of the financial resources of the total people of the Province.

We intend to do that. I hope by fall, or perhaps summer, to be able to start a consultation process on the issues involved so that out of that consultation and the work that has already been done by the committee, we can develop a strategic social plan.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that this session, because of some of the key issues that we will be dealing with, is perhaps one of the most significant sessions of this Legislature, at least since we became a Province. I am only familiar from the history books with what occurred before we became a Province, but I believe that the major issues that we are dealing with, the major policy decisions this House or policies that this House will endorse and support for the next ten to twenty or thirty years of this Province's life, means that we will have perhaps the most significant session that this House has held in recent years.

I again plead with members not to prejudge what government is going to bring before the House. Wait until you see the proposal on the electrical power control act, which has nothing to do with privatization except that it is necessary if privatisation is to occur, but it is a major restructuring of the control of the electrical power resources of the Province. Look at the privatization act itself when it is brought before the House and judge it on its true merits and if you think it is wrong don't hesitate to say so, but don't prejudge it until you look at the reality of it, and perhaps for the first time in recent years, let all of us make sure that we put the best interest of this Province and its people for the next decades first and foremost in every single thing we say and do.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by the Member for Torngat Mountains and seconded by the Member for St. John's North, that an address of thanks be presented to His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor, in reply to the gracious speech with which he has been pleased to open the present session of the Legislature and that a select committee be appointed to draft the Address in Reply.

All those in favour of the motion, aye.


MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, nay. Motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: I assume Your Honour will call Notices of Motion?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. I was wondering if you want to move now to appoint a select committee or if you prefer to go directly to Notices of Motion?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thought it was the Chair who announced them, but the difficulty is, I do not have the name of the member who is to represent the opposition side.

AN HON. MEMBER: Baie Verte -White Bay.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman from Baie Verte - White Bay? I would ask Your Honour to appoint the hon. gentleman from Torngat Mountains, the hon. gentleman from St. John's North and the hon. gentleman from Baie Verte - White Bay to be the Select Committee, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the Members for Torngat Mountains, St. John's North and Baie Verte - White Bay be, and they are hereby appointed the Select Committee of the House.

All those in favour of the motion, aye.


MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, nay.

Motion, carried.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on tomorrow, I shall ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro-electric Corporation".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow, ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the Federal Budget will have major negative impact on personal incomes and provincial government revenues; and

WHEREAS the loss of income from unemployment insurance and fisheries compensation will reduce business activity and employment everywhere in the Province, and further weaken the already frail provincial economy; and

WHEREAS the federal government has unfairly singled out Newfoundland to bear a disproportionate share of federal-spending cuts;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this hon. House condemn the changes to unemployment insurance and reduced funding for fisheries compensation that unfairly penalize the people and economy of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there being no further Notices of Motion, I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday at two o'clock and that the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Before putting the motion, I would like to invite all guests on behalf of hon. members to attend a reception in the lobby.

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