March 9, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLII  No. 8

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public galleries the Grade V class of St. Joseph's Elementary School in St. John's East, together with teacher Lucille Gambin and parent assistants.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I would also like to welcome to the House twenty-nine Grade V students from Park Avenue Elementary School in Mount Pearl, together with their teacher Donna Warren and teacher-intern, Lori Pynn.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, I am sorry. Being somewhat nearsighted I failed to recognize the former Member for Menihek. We would like to welcome to the public galleries Mr. Peter Fenwick.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to advise hon. members that yesterday I attended two meetings, one in Clarenville, and the other in Whitbourne, to discuss the restructuring of health care institution boards in the Eastern Region of the Province.

I met with the Chairs and Chief Executive Officers of the Bonavista Peninsula Health Care Board, the Clarenville Area Health Care Board, and the Burin Peninsula Health Care Board to outline government's decision to appoint one board from that part of the Eastern Region to govern all health care facilities currently governed by these three boards.

After my meeting in Clarenville, I attended a meeting at Whitbourne with the Chairs and Chief Executive Officers of the Trinity-Conception Health Care Board, the Placentia Area Health Care Board, the Carbonear Interfaith Senior Citizens Board and the Memorial University Clinics Association Board to discuss health care board restructuring in that part of the Eastern Region. At that meeting I outlined government's decision to appoint a single institutional board to govern all facilities currently governed by these three boards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

DR. KITCHEN: I do not know why we have three there because it is really four, three, plus Memorial is four.

Mr. Speaker, the government's decision is essentially in line with the recommendations of Mrs. Lucy Dobbin's Report which she submitted on health care board restructuring in the Province. I would like to point out that prior to meeting with the local officials yesterday to announce government's decision, I consulted with them and others, widely. I am pleased to say that the people who have operated health care facilities in these areas were very receptive and positive about the changes we are making in general. More than ever, people see themselves as being in partnership in the provision of health services to the people of the Province. This is a very positive sign and speaks well of what we might expect in the future in terms of the delivery of health care services at the local and especially at the regional level.

I want to make it clear today that the boards we are appointing will be new boards and not simply an amalgamation of existing organizations. This is not a process of bringing smaller organizations under the wing of larger organizations. However, we will be looking at building on the strengths of the current system and having some members of existing boards as part of the new board structures.

Mr. Speaker, now that the consultations have taken place and decisions have been announced with respect to the new boards for the Eastern Region, I hope to be in a position shortly to identify the members of the Board. When that is done, I will be making a further announcement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is just a continuation of what happened some months ago when this government acted upon the Dobbin Report which did not give one reason whatsoever for the cost efficiencies or improved level of services that would be attained by restructuring in the seven boards in this Province. What has been done is that they have drawn a geographic line in seven regions of this Province to make seven larger boards without substantiating it with any aspect whatsoever, number 1, from improved patient care and number 2, from a cost efficiency basis. There is nothing in government records, reports or studies to substantiate that.

Furthermore, the minister has stated that all the people he consulted with have been in favour of this reorganized board in this Eastern Region. I understand he received several thousand names on a petition from the people on the Burin Peninsula, presented to him, who do not agree with what is happening here.

We have a health care system that is descending into chaos and all we see is a reshuffling of chairs around the boardroom table, that's what's happening. We have had hospital beds closed in this Province in the last four or five years, we have understaffed hospitals, we have waiting lists beyond two years in certain specialty areas, and all the minister can do is sit around and shuffle around a few chairs and draw lines on a map in this Province. I think it's disgusting and disgraceful.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time as expired.

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

Leave given, the hon. member.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to speak briefly to the minister's statement. The alleged purpose of doing this is to provide more efficient health care services. What we see is that they're establishing these boards and then we will see the government cranking down health care costs and putting the onus on these boards to close down services, to cut them out and blame it on them instead of taking the blame for what they are doing themselves. That's what we're concerned about, Mr. Speaker, and that's what I fear is coming next.

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of hon. members I'd like to recognize Ms. Shannie Duff the former Member for St. John's East who is present in the galleries today as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Mines and Energy.

Under section 8 of the privatization act, new Hydro is required to set up a pension plan for its employees. The Premier told the media last Friday, that $35 million to $40 million would be transferred from the Public Service Pension Plan to the new Hydro plan. I assume, that is the value of the benefits Hydro employees have accumulated in the Public Service Pension Plan; however, Mr. Speaker, the Premier also said that government would make a cash contribution to new Hydro's pension plan in the area of $30 million to $40 million from the Province's general revenues. Let me ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, is that a contribution from the taxpayers of this Province to cover part of the unfunded liability in new Hydro's pension plan?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes. The cash contribution part that is not coming out of the present plan, is reflecting the unfunded liability of the present plan and naturally, with privatization, arrangements have to be made now to recognize the unfunded liability part that government is responsible for and that is what is being done.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, now, the minister has confirmed that it is a contribution from the taxpayers of the Province. The Premier also said that new Hydro would charge out $20 million to $30 million in electrical rate payers to cover part of the past unfunded liability. Under the privatization act, new Hydro will recover this amount from the rate payers over an amortization period of fifteen years. Mr. Speaker, $20 million to $30 million amortized over fifteen years will cost the payers of electricity bills in this Province, at the very least, $100 million; in other words, the people who pay light bills in this Province, and the taxpayers will contribute in the area of $140 million to $150 million to new Hydro's pension plan - at least, Mr. Speaker, $100 million by the ratepayers and $40 million by the taxpayers.

Will the minister confirm that this amount is in addition to the millions of dollars electrical consumers will have to pay every year to maintain new Hydro's pension plan as a fully-funded plan?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the amounts that are talked about here are already recognized in the estimates that have been given for rates for the future that we have put forward, and the second amount that the hon. member refers to, reflects an underpayment by the employer and employees of Hydro over the years, again this amount will be crystallized but paid into the fund over the years.

I want to come back to the first comment of the hon. member when he talked about a cash contribution. That isn't an up front, cash contribution, it is by way of a note over many years, with a particular time frame on it. So we aren't taking out a cash contribution today and making it, it will be over several years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, and we owe it. Government owes that amount to the fund, so when this is finished the employees of new Hydro, and the retirees of Hydro - both employees and retirees of Hydro - will have a fully funded pension plan that is appropriately funded.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Energy, that's going to cost the taxpayers and the payers of electricity bills more, when you look at it being done in notes, and amortized over a period of time.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the government is forcing rate payers, electricity payers in this Province, the people who have electricity, and the taxpayers, which in most cases is one and the same, to contribute $150 million - asking the taxpayers and electricity bill payers in this Province to contribute $150 million to a private pension plan of a private company, while at the same time this government has seen fit to scuttle the pension plan for its own employees.

Last year, Mr. Speaker, the government withheld about $50 million in contributions from the public sector plan, and I guess it is plan again this year to retain another $40 million to $50 million this fiscal year. These moves have put the public sector pension plan in jeopardy, and I would like to know how the government can explain its actions.

Why is this government, I ask the minister, forcing the payers of electricity bills in this Province, and taxpayers, to contribute $150 million to a pension plan for a private company, which new Hydro will be, while you are doing everything in your power to scuttle the pension plan for public sector employees.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Far from it, Mr. Speaker. Government is standing up to its liabilities, and will do so in a very, very responsible way. The amount that is in the public service pension plan now, put there by Hydro, the corporation, and put there by the present employees and former employees, and retirees of Hydro, that will be put into their new plan.

The unfunded liability that we, as a government, are responsible for, will be put into that new plan in a responsible way by way of a note, and the other amount will be put in there properly, through the rate payers, because it wasn't put in there adequately before, over the many years that the other side was responsible for it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

With regard to silviculture, I think all hon. members would agree that silviculture must be improved and increased in this Province so that we don't run into the same problem in our forestry now that we see in our fishery. I would like to ask the minister, first of all, if he could update us on the status of the federal-provincial agreement for silviculture for this Province.

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

MR. FLIGHT: The status, Mr. Speaker, of the existing federal-provincial agreement is that there is a year-and-a-half left to run on that, and the level of funding for silviculture remains the same. We will be spending out of that agreement approximately $12 million in forest enhancement, the bulk of which will be for planting, thinning, scarification and seeding.

When that agreement is over, and that is a 70-30 agreement, then we will have great difficulty in maintaining that level of silviculture funding unless we can negotiate another cost-shared agreement with the Federal Government. I might point out, I am hopeful that the present Federal Government doesn't take the position taken by the previous Federal Government - his cousins prior to this administration now - who declared that they were going to end the cost-shared agreements and thereby end the kind of money that Newfoundland needs to do the silviculture programs that he so badly needs.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: I certainly agree with the minister. Cousins or no cousins, I didn't like what was done by them and I hope it doesn't continue with your cousins who are up there right now. Because it is not a matter of cousins, it is a matter of this Province maintaining a sustainable forest. And if silviculture is not improved, I say to the minister, then we may be standing up with a moratorium for forestry in this Province in the very near future.

Even if the Federal Government do not proceed after the year-and-a-half is up, can the minister assure this House that no matter what happens at the federal level, the Provincial Government will not only stay the same but increase their amounts to that particular program?

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, this government is totally committed to the forestry industry in this Province, committed to good forest management, committed to forest enhancement, committed to silviculture programs that will guarantee that we can maintain the level of economic activity that we presently enjoy from the forestry resources - the three paper mills, the sawmilling industry (inaudible). But, as the member well knows, it costs money. It is very expensive to provide silviculture treatments. This Province will put whatever money is possible into it, but the member well knows there is a limited amount of money. We can only spend what we have to spend and we will do that.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: I fully realize there is only a certain amount of money, but I can tell you that there is not a lot in this Province that is more important right now as the silviculture needs. It is one of the resources that is left and I have great fears of what can happen in the very near future in that particular sector.

There are reports now that NCARP recipients will have to work for compensation benefits after May 15. Will the minister assure the House that if silviculture work is a part of the new fisheries compensation package that people who usually work in the silviculture projects will not be displaced?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister for Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, if one is to read and believe the reports about the kind of money that may be available under NCARP when the time comes, then I can assure the hon. member if the right portions of that money is indeed - if, I said, if indeed made available to forestry and can be agreed between the provincial government and federal government that NCARP money should be used on the basis of job creation and one of those job creation projects would be silviculture than I can tell you there will be plenty of money around if all that happens to accommodate the people who would qualify and want to qualify under NCARP as well as the people who normally do the silviculture work in this Province.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Minister of Mines and Energy. Yesterday the minister admitted that Hydro, under orders from the top, brought in private accountants who tried to plug the leak to the public of privatization cost information. Since it's the public who have to pay through future electricity bills for privatization costs, lawyers bills, consultants bills and all the rest, why shouldn't the public know now what all this is costing and how much is going to the different firms? Why isn't the minister sharing the information with the public by tabling it in the House of Assembly now?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member first. I at no time said that Hydro had brought in private accountants to take care of this. What I did say, maybe to her but certainly to others, was that in view of the fact that there had been leaks out of Hydro's finance department, clearly some leaks out of Hydro, they had to handle this matter in a different way and they had obtained a firm in this city that is now handling that for them.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

More questions for the Minister of Mines and Energy. What is the minister trying to hide from the public, from the voters, the citizens, the taxpayers and the electricity rate payers? Why the cover-up? If they haven't brought in a firm of private accountants what is it, a security firm? Exactly what has been changed at Hydro to try to plug the leak? Who are these people at the private firm? Who are they, what are their names and how much are they getting paid, because the ratepayers are going to have to pay for them too?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing being covered up and nothing will be covered up. All this information will be made available at the appropriate time in the appropriate way, but on a day to day basis I'm not going to come into this House or go anywhere else and say, here is a bill I got from this person, this one and somebody else. When all the accounting is done and everything is audited, it will be made public and it's being handled in an appropriate way so that it's not leaked out every day to the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So the Minister of Mines and Energy is going to cover this up until it's a done deal and it's too late.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: I have a question for the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice told the House that there is a galaxy of lawyers, law firms in the Province, law firms on the mainland, financial advisors and consultants, all working on the Hydro privatization. The minister, as well as the Minister of Mines and Energy, refused to provide names and billing amounts as I've been requesting, but would the Minister of Justice say now if it's true that the lawyers are getting paid $200 - $400 an hour?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the hon. lady gets her questions but I will tell her I have never refused to provide billing amounts here in the House. I haven't been asked, unless memory is failing me in my old age, battered as I am by the winds of adversity here in the House, but she's never asked me inside or outside the House for billing rates. Mr. Speaker, I have never been asked by the hon. lady, or woman if she prefers, to provide billing rates. I will say I have no idea what the billing rates are. I have no doubt they're very high because that's what good lawyers cost these days and the lawyers who've been retained are, in my view, absolutely top-notch. Let me tell the House who they are.

AN HON. MEMBER: You picked them.

MR. ROBERTS: I did not. The government have retained Curtis, Dawe, who in turn have retained Blake, Cassels, in Toronto, to advise on Ontario and securities matters. Hydro have retained O'Reilly, Noseworthy, who have in turn retained a Tory firm in Toronto, again estimable lawyers.

The underwriters, I understand, have retained White, Ottenheimer & Baker, an estimable firm, who in turn have retained Osler, Hoskin in Toronto, another estimable firm.

What I will say to the hon. Lady is that unlike the counsel retained by her and her colleagues, to advise on the Hibernia related matters, we have insisted that Newfoundland and Labrador counsel be retained in a lead rate, that the technology transfer be here. We will not do what she did.

She and her colleagues paid $4 million to the Peter Lougheed firm, Bennett, Jones in Calgary, and no transfer of technology at all. We have taken steps which will prevent that. We have retained Newfoundland law firms. I have no idea what they are being paid, Mr. Speaker. I don't know what they are being paid. I hope they are being paid fairly and handsomely and properly, because the money they are being paid is money that is well spent. We are getting good advice, and we need it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Education.

In view of the minister's comments on the potential postponement of his restructuring processes, I am wondering if the minister could comment on his proposal to introduce the full day kindergarten when his department was so obviously unprepared; and will the minister confirm this afternoon, to the parents and to the school boards of the Province, that the full day kindergarten concept has been postponed until it has been fully studied, and matters of curriculum, space, class size and other associated problems like school bussing have been properly addressed.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, over the past couple of years government has been talking with the church leaders and various stakeholders in the educational system, and as a result of government's desire to consult with people to try to reach a consensus, we have missed some very important benchmarks, and although it was not announced as a government policy, it was stated that it is quite possible that we will not be able to achieve what we had hoped to achieve come this September - namely, put the school boards in place and go ahead with a lot of our reforms. So it is quite possible - now we haven't made a definite decision on that. We are trying to re-evaluate just where we are.

If we reach the conclusion that we cannot put the boards in place for September, then certain of the other good things that we had intended to do might have to suffer, and it is quite possible that one of the things which we will not be able to do, come September, will be the implementation of the full day kindergarten. That decision will be finally dealt with, hopefully, in the next week to ten days. As soon as we have a definite decision we will make it known to the people of the Province in the appropriate manner.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that daycare and early childhood education centres in the Province are required by law to have one adult supervisor or educator for every eight children, how does the minister plan to avoid kindergarten classes of thirty to thirty-five students? Does he plan to introduce regulations to limit the class size in kindergarten to twelve to fifteen students?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there are kindergarten classes in this Province today - not very many, but some - which have more than twelve to fifteen students. They are not breaking any laws of the land. The hon. member is referring to different things. He is referring to apples and oranges, and we are not going to do anything which would interfere with our ability to teach our children in the school system.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Justice.

I wonder, would the minister confirm that the government has before it proposals for the establishment of three gambling casinos in the Province, including one in St. John's East, in the premises of the Battery Motel?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there are no proposals before the government either at Cabinet or anywhere in the Cabinet system, to the best of my knowledge. Now, the hon. gentleman will understand, I know, that papers come to Cabinet from ministers and they are worked on by officials, but I have not seen any proposal nor am I aware of one. I am aware that a number of groups in the Province, including the one to which he refers, have sent word to the government that they would be interested in such a venture.

MR. BAKER: Five or six.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend the Minister of Finance says five or six in fact. I know of at least three and my friend says five or six. These are around but they are nowhere in the system, and I can assure my hon. friend, the Member for St. John's East, that there is nothing approaching a proposal to Cabinet being developed in my knowledge. I think we have asked officials to look at the ramifications of the situation but this is very preparatory work. Government are not contemplating this and I suspect it will be a long-time coming, but there is nothing before the government in that sense. When I say a long-time coming, if ever it came, I have no idea what decision, if any, we would reach if or when the matter comes to Cabinet. I am not even, at this stage, able to say whether the matter will ever come to Cabinet. Any minister may raise the matter with the Cabinet.

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

MR. HARRIS: A supplementary to the President of Treasury Board.

Can the minister tell the House how much in 1993 government received in gambling revenues through the various sources and whether or not he sees this as a source of revenue for the government, these proposals we are talking about.

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

MR. BAKER: I did not quite get the last half of his question because his voice fell off and I do not know what the last part of it was. The first part had to do with the amount of revenue in 1993, the total revenue from gambling which includes licensing and so on, which includes 649, the Nevada type pull-offs, plus the video lottery terminals, and so on, during 1993 was probably in the vicinity of $45 million during that year.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the final part of the question to the minister was whether or not he sees this as a potential source of revenue and is he not concerned about the problems that gambling has been causing? We even have Gamblers Anonymous here now and a lot of people are spending and wasting a lot of hard-earned money on this problem. Is he concerned about that?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned about some of the effects of gambling and obviously there are people who are addicted to that form of activity. What I am also concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is that this activity is controlled in such a way that the minimum impact is felt by the people of the Province. The hon. member will know that with the introduction of the video lottery terminals this Province took an extremely conservative view in terms of how that was going to be done and limited it to age controlled establishments and so on, to avoid the kind of disaster that occurred in many other provinces when they were allowed in the corner stores and so on, all around the Province.

We have taken a very conservative view and we are very concerned about this. We are very concerned in a way that revenues are so high from this source because it indicates, I believe personally, a misuse of money. The money could be much better spent by the people. The activity is happening and unless members opposite have some way of banning gambling totally in the Province I would love to hear about it, if they have such suggestions. In the meantime we have to simply control it as best we can.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. For some time now there has been a lot of talk about this new infrastructure program that is suppose to be great for the Province, create jobs, and provide infrastructure for municipalities in the Province - much needed infrastructure, I might add. The minister and his department has had five months now to do some assessments on different municipalities in the Province to determine which would be eligible for such programs. Could the minister tell me today how many municipalities would be eligible for this infrastructure money, and would he tell the House if he is considering only municipalities that are up to their maximums now of approximately $300 per household for funding?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I do not have the foggiest idea right now as to how many municipalities will qualify, but I hope that either by Friday of this week or the latest by mid next week the application forms and the criteria will be in the hands of every municipality in the Province. It will then be basically up to the communities themselves whether or not they think they can qualify or not. I have given a deadline of the last of March to get their applications back in and the reason why I am moving on that as fast as I can is because you have to go through, as he knows, the public tendering process and sometimes construction in Newfoundland can be pretty slow in getting started. The federal requirement this year is that we spend at least 35 per cent of our money this year and that is going to be difficult in itself, so I am hoping that I will be able to give the hon. gentleman an answer sometime maybe in the next couple of weeks when the municipalities get the applications and find out what the criteria is.

The other question is, that I would think the member probably picked it up from a misinterpretation of what I said yesterday to CBC. CBC is reported today as saying that none of the larger communities who are not up to the $328 per household would qualify. That is absolutely incorrect. Every one of those communities will qualify, every one of those larger communities, and I am certainly sure that a large percentage of those other communities who are up to the $328 will qualify as well, with one exception, and I announced that in this House, I guess almost two weeks ago and the municipalities around the Province have been notified as well.

We have a problem in some communities around the Province with their basis or their financial records and the situation, financially of communities around the Province. Some communities in this Province are in dire straits -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the minister to complete his answer.

MR. REID: I thought I was answering the question, Mr. Speaker, I apologize.

MR. SPEAKER: It was somewhat lengthy.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Would the minister confirm to the House that the criteria that will be involved in that application or be included in that application, will he confirm then that they will be asked to cost-share the programs on a one-third basis or will he be using the same formula that he applies now to the regular formula for capital programs in the Province for the year; one-third or the same formula that is applied to capital funding?

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

MR. REID: Yes, Mr. Speaker. It will be based on both, and maybe I shouldn't go any further than that and let him come back at me again.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I won't go into that one any further, I will use another time, could the minister then tell the House if his department's funding will be new funding or will it be funding that is usually used for the capital program every year?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I am not at liberty, as a new minister and certainly not the Minister of Finance, to be able to stand in this House this afternoon and tell you whether there is going to be any money in the capital works budget. The hon. member will know the monies that the Province will have to put in, and all he has to do is read a newspaper to find out. Right now, it looks like the Province will put in this year, as much as $40 million to $50 million towards the infrastructure program, which is a far cry from one-third of the program which was announced earlier at $25 million. I suggest that the hon. member wait until the Budget Speech next Thursday and in the Budget Speech I am sure there will be some indication of whether or not there will be a capital works program.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, the minister does not need a Budget to come down next Thursday to tell me if there is going to be any funding in the department for this year, that is going to be automatic I take it, supposed to be creating jobs, so there has to be funding in it. All I ask the minister is if it is going to be new funding or will it be the same funding that is used every other year for capital programs in the Province. Yes or no. A very simple question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: I guess, Mr. Speaker, that if it is the same amount of funding we will base it on 1988 figures and all we will have to spend is $25 million, so I don't think we will have too much trouble coming up with $25 million.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health. I would like to ask the Minister of Health if he would inform this House if the fact-finding team appointed by him to investigate matters pertaining to the Grenfell Regional Health Service under the direction of Dr. Peter Roberts has access to statements that I passed on to him?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, all matters, all letters and correspondence, that the hon. member has passed on to me relative to these matters have been transferred, passed on by me, to the appropriate people.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, as required by statutes I would like to table the following reports from Crown agencies and boards. They are: the Newfoundland Crop Insurance Agency for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1993, the annual report of the Livestock Owners Compensation Board, ending 1993, and the annual report of the Newfoundland and Labrador Farm Development Loan Board for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1992.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Pursuant to section 45, paragraph two of the Financial Administration Act, I wish to table the attached list of temporary loans raised under sections 44 and 45 of the act between the period May 20, 1993 and February 27, 1994. My critic opposite will recognize that this is a list of T-bill borrowings as well as overdrafts during that same period.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the Opposition filibuster tactics, the deliberate and prolonged obstructionist tactics we've seen, have caused those who sit on this side of the House to authorize me to give the following notice of motion.

I move, Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 50, that the debate on Bill No. 1, entitled, "An Act Respecting The Privatization Of The Newfoundland And Labrador Hydro-Electric Corporation," standing in the name of the hon. the Premier, and any amendments to that motion for second reading of Bill No. 1, shall not be further adjourned and that further consideration of any amendments relating to second reading of Bill No. 1 shall not be further postponed.

Let me say we shall be calling the bill for debate at the earliest moment permitted by the rules tomorrow afternoon, Sir.

Thank you.


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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to stand and submit to this House a petition on behalf of the residents of Labrador City and Wabush, in the District of Menihek.

The petition is addressed to the Newfoundland House of Assembly, and it says:

WHEREAS we the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador seek to stop the proposed sale of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; and

WHEREAS the sale of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has not been proven to be in the best interests of the citizens of the Province; and

WHEREAS the production of electricity is an essential service for the people of the Province and should be controlled by the people:

WHEREFORE the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the Newfoundland Parliament to demand that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador not privatize and sell Newfoundland Hydro, and ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro remains a Crown corporation.

Mr. Speaker, these thirty-two people who have signed this petition in the District of Menihek don't want the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro to proceed. We've seen the Minister of Justice rise today and tell us that he is going to be ramming through legislation to promote the sale of Newfoundland Hydro. He calls this legislation, in his words: The most important pieces of legislation that have ever been presented to a provincial legislature since Confederation. That is what the Minister of Justice referred to these pieces of legislation that we are debating, or will be debating, in subsequent days and nights here in the House of Assembly.

He has given notice that he is going to be restricting the people's access, the people's ability, to debate this particular piece of legislation. This government, which has shown its participation in democracy by taking the smoking regulations, the smoking carnival, if you want to call it that, on tour of the Province, it saw that as an important issue, and so it was. It allowed people to participate in that particular piece of legislation by travelling around the Province and submitting public input. It allowed people to participate in this democracy with regard to a proposed name change in this Province. Those momentous decisions and pieces of legislation allowed public input but this government didn't see, Mr. Speaker -

MR. GILBERT: Point of order, Mr. Speaker

MR. SPEAKER: Point of order, the hon. Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: The hon. gentleman referred to the fact that the committee on smoking legislation was taken on public tour of the Province. I would like to point out that no, it wasn't taken on a public tour of the Province, despite the requests by the members of his party to do that. We did have public meetings in St. John's at no expense other than an ordinary meeting. So I would just like to correct the hon. gentleman.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: There is no point of order and the member, the used-to-be minister, the worn out minister, the now member, Mr. Speaker, has confirmed that they had public discussions. There has been no public discussion, no opportunity for the public, no opportunity whatsoever. It has been done in secrecy, in the back rooms of this Province, in the Cabinet room - up there in the Cabinet divving up the pie. We see them down at Newfoundland Hydro in the public trough, and they won't allow the people to find out who's got their nose in the trough today. So, Mr. Speaker, they call in these secret auditors and now they're going to divvy up the pie. It won't be long before we'll have secret police around deciding who is for and who is against. That's what this Province will be coming to - when they won't release information about who is taking the public money for cutting these deals, Mr. Speaker, because that's what is occurring. We had the Minister responsible for Mines and Energy suggesting that there is a cover-up. He doesn't want the people of this Province to find out who is doing this, Mr. Speaker. He doesn't want to know what the amounts are, he doesn't want the people to be aware of the amounts.

The people in Labrador City and Wabush, Mr. Speaker, want this sale to stop. They do not want it to proceed because they foresee huge increases, tremendous increases in the cost of energy and we, by the nature of our geography - the Minister of Finance has nodded his head in confirmation, in agreement with the Premier who has already suggested, Mr. Speaker, that the people in Labrador City and Wabush or in Labrador will face a minimum of twenty and possibly 30 per cent increase in their hydro bills -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: - not including the added cost of privatization, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. A. SNOW: May I have one minute to conclude, Mr. Speaker, by leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave to continue?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

As we get involved in this debate on the privatization of Hydro, Mr. Speaker, what we have seen today in the Government House Leader is on a parallel with what we saw a few months ago in the Kremlin in the Soviet Union - no difference, Mr. Speaker, because that is dictatorship at its best. If you ever wanted to see - over in the Soviet Union there was a group who wanted to take it over and bring back communism and dictatorship. Well, today, Mr. Speaker, they didn't have to bring the guns and the powder jacks here but they brought the dictator.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: And how hon. members opposite - and I say this with sincerity - how hon. members opposite can stand in this House and vote for that kind of attitude, Mr. Speaker, that type of dictatorship, someone who can come in with the hobnail boots and lay it to the people of this Province, is beyond me.

I say to the backbenchers over there that you should never sell your soul or your principles for a Cabinet post. Never sell your soul or your principles for a Cabinet post. We have had three speakers on this bill, and for the last two days, the Government House Leader could have called Orders of the Day any time he wished, Mr. Speaker, but he chose not to do it and today he gave notice of closure. Today he gave notice that your constituents shall not be heard anymore. We had petitions to present from people from all districts in this Province and it is our responsibility - the Member for St. John's East joined with us, it was his responsibility to present these petitions on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We acted responsibly. There were no public hearings, there were no public meetings, so we brought the wishes of the people to the floor of this House through petitions. And now, Mr. Speaker, the old `dictator number two' decided to get up and put the boots to democracy in this Province and brought in closure.

Now I'll tell you one thing, the people of this Province are not about to stand for closure on this issue. The people of this Province, starting tonight in the district of Pleasantville, will come out loud and clear and send a very strong message to this government. Why won't the Member for St. John's North, for example, have the courage of the Member for Pleasantville - to go out and listen to his constituents and bring back their wishes instead of lining up behind `old hobnailed boots', Mr. Speaker, when he puts it to democracy in this Province? Why won't the Member for Lewisporte go out and listen to his constituents and ask them what they want to say? Why? Because you don't have any courage; because democracy is not important to you; because principle takes second place to the hopes of getting into Cabinet. That's why you're doing it.

This is a very important issue. This is an issue that involves every man, woman and child in this Province. This is an issue about the sale of our birthright, but now it has become an issue of democracy. It becomes an issue of someone with a communist mentality, like the Government House Leader, someone who believes in dictatorship, someone who practices dictatorship and wants to wipe out democracy, who could have, for the last two days, called Orders of the Day and refused to do so. Instead of that, we have had one speaker, I think, the leader and the Premier, and I think, my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no, St. John's East.

MR. TOBIN: St. John's East.

We had three speakers. Can you imagine, in this day, in 1994, when you bring a piece of legislation to the House to sell Hydro, that after three speakers, the leaders of the three political parties, the first thing we see after that is what? Notice of closure. Cut off debate. Kill democracy. Bring forth communism. That is what we are seeing in this. Attila the Hun was never as bad as what we are seeing portrayed in this Legislature today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Give him a pill!

MR. TOBIN: Don't give me your pills, I say to him, Mr. Speaker, give yourself pills - courage pills -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. TOBIN: - to have the guts and the conviction and the stamina to stand up for your constituents, I say to the Minister of Transportation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Believe in democracy. Practice it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition here on behalf of approximately sixty-five or seventy constituents of mine. I will only read the first portion of the petition, to make it obvious to you that this is a legal petition.

We, the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who wish to avail themselves of their rights, thus to present a grievance common to the House of Assembly in the certain assurance that the House would therefore provide a remedy, we submit -

Mr. Speaker, I won't go on into it any further because you only have five minutes on a petition and I want to get as much as possible said on it.

Mr. Speaker, never before, in the nine years - in another month - that I have sat in this House of Assembly, and a good many years before that I watched the proceedings of the House of Assembly in this Province, but never before have I seen such an important piece of legislation. And it is not coming from my lips, that it is an important piece of legislation, it came from the Minister of Justice the other night when he admitted that it is one of the most important pieces of legislation they have had to deal with since Confederation.

If this is so important, Mr. Speaker - and it is important - how come after just two nights, even if we had the debate for twenty-four hours a day for the last two days, after forty-eight hours, how come we've got closure invoked already, if this is so important? Furthermore, if it's such a good deal for the people of this Province, if it's such a lovely, handsome, nice, package deal for the people of this Province, why are we closing off debate on such an important issue?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: I will tell you why, Mr. Speaker. It is, as the minister admitted, because investors are interested. Why shouldn't they be interested? Why shouldn't any man, woman or child in this Province or this country be interested in something when it is going to be given away? It's a sell-out.

Mr. Speaker, I will venture to bet, not in our children's lifetime, not in our grandchildren's lifetime, but in our lifetime, that this will go down in the annals of history in this Province as the worst deal since Confederation - the worst ever.

Now, Mr. Speaker, usually human beings learn by their mistakes. We made one mistake, back in the early 1960s, and it is rather ironic that one of the people, at least one, who was around when that deal was made, is sitting with us here in the House of Assembly today, and here we are, about to make another mistake. Do people realize in this Province, do people opposite realize that once Newfoundland Hydro is gone, what we lost, the 98 per cent that we gave away in the 1960s, the other 2 per cent is gone as of next week if this particular piece of legislation goes through the Legislature. It is gone forever and a day, never again, Mr. Speaker, will we be able to get Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro or the rights of Hydro or anything else back into the people's pockets who own it now.

The people of the Province, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador own Newfoundland Hydro, they own it. Why are we so fast and why are we so swift to give it away? Why can't we have public hearings on such an important matter, Mr. Speaker? It is obvious that in the next couple of days we will be able to get up and say more on this particular subject and I, for one, am going to take this clause-by-clause and explain and go through some of the repercussions and ramifications from this particular piece of legislation and hope to God, that backbenchers opposite will listen to it and take it to heart.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand nobody from this side has spoken to this petition, so let me say a word or two in response to the personal abuse heaped upon me by hon. members opposite.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: There will be more.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I have no doubt there will be more because, when they have no arguments of substance, Mr. Speaker, their substitute is personal abuse. Well, `Shoot, if you wish, this old grey head\but spare your country's flag she said' - and the cry will be, `Bring back Baker'.

Let me just make a couple of points. There still are no deadlines for passage of this bill. What we on this side have decided - Mr. Speaker, after fourteen hours of wasted debate by hon. members opposite, we have decided to give the House the right to decide. Fourteen hours, Mr. Speaker, I remind hon. members, is equivalent to two full weeks of government business. Under the rules of this House, the government gets seven-and-a-half hours a week for government business. Under the rules of this House -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - the government gets seven-and-a-half hours, a week for government business. This is equivalent -

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It being now three o'clock, Private Members Day -

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a point of order related to the procedural matter that was introduced earlier and notice given of by the Government House Leader. The matter of introducing or giving notice of closure after only two days of debate, Mr. Speaker - it is an absolute scandal what the Government House Leader did here in this House today, an absolute scandal, and he should hang his head in shame! He should hang his head in shame, because, if ever there was evidence that this government is practising Hitlerism, Nazism and dictatorship, Mr. Speaker, this is it today from the Minister of Justice. And I put out a plea to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to come into this House of Assembly, fill the halls with members and people from around this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - take over your own House, and show the absolute arrogance of this Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have no quarrel with the hon. gentleman's resort to personal abuse. If he wants to demean himself and the people who sent him here and his party by this, I will not respond to that.

What I will say, Mr. Speaker, is that my friend, the Minister of Finance simply came over and told me that he had been subjected to this no less than, was it ten times in the last couple years. This House a right to decide. The motion that I made was in order - this House has a right to decide. What has happened, Mr. Speaker, is, the strategy developed by my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, has exploded in his own face. I hope the galleries will be filled with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador so they will hear the debate and know the truth of what is going on. There is no point of order, Sir.


MR. SIMMS: They won't hear the debate because you closed it off! You shut it off!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Under Standing Order -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible). The only way to deal with you and `Clyde Wells' is the people have to come in and clean you out of your seat!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: And that just might happen!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: If you are so sure you are doing the right thing, call an election on it and we will see how right you are!

MR. ROBERTS: We've won the election already!


MR. WINDSOR: Call an election now!


MR. WINDSOR: You're a bunch of cowards!

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

MR. SIMMS: By lying to the people, that is how you won the election.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

As members know, under Order 50, a minister of the Crown has a right to give notice of a closure motion, and in the circumstances, I see no point of order. I think the Leader of the Opposition's point went more to what he considered to be in the best interest of the people he stands to represent.

Having said that, it is Private Members' Day, and I think, in fairness to the member's motion, I would now call it. The Member for St. John's North is going to be debating the motion.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Yesterday afternoon in the House - Your Honour was not in the Chair, but my colleague, I believe, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay was speaking. The Government House Leader, Mr. Speaker, told him to sit down and shut up. I find that to be really bringing the decorum of this House to an all-time low.

At that time Your Honour was not in the Chair. The Chairman of Committees was in the Chair, and he ruled that was in order. What I would like to do, Your Honour, is ask you if you would take a serious look at that. Because I believe, if members start telling one another to sit down and shut up, and if `shut up' becomes the tone of the conversation and debate in this Legislature, it will do absolutely nothing for it. The minister would not apologize. The Chairman of Committees who was in the Chair ruled it was in order. I ask you, Your Honour, if you would look at that and bring back to the House, hopefully, a suggestion, if not a rule, that that type of language should not be tolerated any longer.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is insulting!

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker, first of all, the hon. gentleman is misquoting me. I assume he is doing it inadvertently. I made no such statement in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: You did so!


MR. ROBERTS: Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the matter was raised at the time - I forget who was in the Chair, it doesn't matter. There was a presiding officer in the Chair and the presiding officer dealt with the point then. There was no appeal taken from the ruling of the Chair at that stage, so the matter is closed. I did not suggest to the hon. gentleman from Baie Verte - White Bay that he shut up. I said, many wish he would shut up, and that is a statement of truth, Sir. I repeat the wish - there are many who wish he would, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On the point raised by the hon. member. I think the procedure is, if a member disagrees with a ruling of the Chair, it is a challenge of the person in the Chair at the time, and I appreciate it, but, of course, any member is at liberty at any time to bring up what he considers to be a point of order with respect to remarks made, and if it should happen again, the hon. member could follow that procedure, and the person in the Chair may or may not agree with the previous ruling. At this stage, I have no jurisdiction to review another person's ruling and perhaps it is best left for another day, should it occur again.

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's North - motion 5.

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

I am happy today to have the opportunity to speak to the resolution that is on the Order Paper before us with respect to the matter of small business. The Speaker and members of the hon. House will probably recall that last September, in the last House, the same motion was introduced and placed on the Order Paper for debate. Unfortunately, time ran out on us and a new sitting of the House has occurred, and so I felt it was appropriate to again place on the Order Paper for debate in private member's motion the motion that we have before us today which deals with the small business sector in our economy.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, this being my first time speaking to a private member's motion that I was party to introducing, that I appreciate the rules, if you will, of the House, or the latitude that the House has given so that at least one day a week, private members who sit it in the back benches, and those, of course, who sit on the Opposition side as well, have opportunity to bring forward matters for discussion that are matters of importance to them personally. But more significant than that, I believe, it gives us an opportunity to bring forward matters of importance to the Province and to the constituents we represent.

So I don't think we are untimely today in discussing the matter of small business or that part of the private sector economy out there that is known as small business. One might wonder, Mr. Speaker, why I have an interest in the area of small business, and I guess I could set it in the context of this background. I happen to work in the small business area out in the private sector and I was thinking yesterday about the first exposure I had to business in the Province. And it wasn't so much small business to which my first exposure was as a young person. It was almost thirty-four years ago - come July of this year, just another few months, and it will have been thirty-four years, when right out of high school, at the age of seventeen, I landed my first job to make any real money.

Prior to that, I worked four or five years packing bags for Jimmy Steinhauer at Stop and Shop, and at fifty cents an hour it became clear to me that I wouldn't get rich if I stayed in the supermarket business. After I finished school I applied to the Bank of Montreal for a job, and of all places they sent me for my first work assignment was downstairs at the Bank of Montreal, Confederation Building branch. I was down there for four years and I guess it was probably my first real exposure, as well, to politicians, in a real sense. I can tell you that back in those days, Sir, there were some hon. gentlemen who were members of the then Legislature, for whom I still have great admiration and respect. Many of them, I learned a lot from in the four years I was down there.

I guess, what really struck me yesterday, in terms of a career path, Mr. Speaker, is that it took me a whole thirty-four years to get from the basement to the first floor of this building. I began to project that and extrapolate it out into the future and tried to figure out how long it might take me to get to the eight floor, and I concluded that my chances are not great in this lifetime or in the next either. I guess the first floor is probably as far as I will get.

Mr. Speaker, after spending five years in the banking business, I then went with the noblest of federal agencies, or departments, known as the Department of National Revenue. I can tell you that in the ten years I spent there, I certainly gained a perspective on business in general and on the real world in particular from the tax collector's point of view. Notwithstanding the type of work they do down there, I would have to say it was probably the ten most interesting years of my life, certainly amongst the ten most enjoyable. There were days when I felt I had nothing to do and all day to do it, as sometimes I think some bureaucrats may feel, but in all honesty, I found the work challenging and interesting, and certainly, it gave me an opportunity to see how the private sector worked in many and various forms.

So, Mr. Speaker, the perspective, I suppose, I bring to small business after those number of years, having worked for a living, is from two points of view, from the perspective of servicing businessmen as a banker, dealing with them as a tax collector, and then for the last twenty years, anyhow, having been involved in the business world myself. You may wonder how I got from the tax department to becoming a businessman. Well, it wasn't easy. At the time, myself and my wife had five children. We had a great time during those first ten years we were married. We had five kids, I had a great job, and it was most interesting. But as I sat at my desk from day to day and reflected on really what I would be doing for the rest of my life, it became pretty apparent to me that I would not be a happy camper sitting around sharpening pencils, approving travel claims, assessing audit reports, training new auditors for tax collection purposes, enforcing the statutes as we had them before us on tax C.P.P. and U.I., and that sort of thing, so I decided I would take the few dollars I had in my pension and invest it in a small manufacturing company that I bought into, and take my chances in the real world. Some people thought I was a fool then. Some people probably still think I was a fool, but I can tell you that I don't have any regrets for having moved from that phase into the business area of life. It's been interesting to work in the small business sector.

Now what really are we talking about when we talk about the small business sector of our economy? Are we talking about something unique in business, as opposed to large business, or some other definition of business? I would suggest that small business is really just one part of the big world known out there as the business world. The small business sector is really just one segment of the total known as the private enterprise sector, and so how do we define then, really, what small business is?

There is no clear-cut definition, I suppose, of the small business sector. The income tax department has put the parameters on it as being, I think, a business or corporation that probably does less than $5 million worth of business a year. Some of the financial institutions have put their own parameters on defining small business, and one bank I spoke with last week said it was people who borrow less than $250,000. Another bank said their definition was a customer who borrowed less than half a million dollars and had less than fifteen employees.

There are any number, I suppose, of definitions or parameters or descriptions that we might want to put in place to deal with, or to describe the small business sector, but really the small business sector is that segment of the private enterprise sector out there that differs from a large corporation because it is perceived to, and in most cases I believe it is, a business sector where the enterprises are operated in a more hands-on fashion, if you will, on a more proprietorship or personal entrepreneurship basis than, say, a large corporation. Large corporations are probably more easily defined than the small business sector.

The small business sector also encompasses a multiplicity of enterprises or endeavours. It is not confined to the financial sector, as the big banks are. It is not confined to the development of Hydro, because not everybody does. There are only one or two or three in the Province, and sometimes only a few in a nation, who get involved in these things, but rather small business cuts right across the broad spectrum of almost any type of a business enterprise that you could imagine. It involves farmers. It involves fishermen. It involves people in the service industry. It involves manufacturers. It involves hi-tech industries based on a small scale, probably, and the list could go on and on.

So, Mr. Speaker, small business is actually, in its sum total, really big business. Small business is big business if you take it as a defined sector of the private sector economy out there.

It's probably not really important to get much more involved into what small business is about. I would rather probably spend the few moments that I have dealing with some of the references that are in the motion that is put before us, and I hope that at the end of the day all of those who have an opportunity to speak to this motion that we are debating today will be able to find, amongst our collective wisdoms, unanimity as to how we should vote on the motion that is put before us, because really what we are asking in the motion today to do is to give a vote of endorsement, offer a word of encouragement, give probably a few words of advice and direction to the people who consider themselves to be small business people out in the economy, and people who, because they don't have the support structures of corporate boards and shareholders to work with, sometimes find, and feel themselves to be, on their own, somewhat isolated maybe, somewhat a little unsupported by the full business community in what they're doing.

So the idea of the motion that we are debating is really to offer support, to offer encouragement and to offer assistance where we can to the people that consider themselves small businessmen. I guess small businessmen or small business is best defined by the person who is in business. He can consider or define where he thinks he fits into the private enterprise sector.

Today the motion that we have before us, Mr. Speaker, gives a few facts and figures and some of these have already been stated earlier in the House. I think I mentioned them in the Address in Reply to the Throne Speech but it's important I believe to reference them again. At the present time the small business sector of the Province, by statistics, is generating 85 per cent of all of the new jobs that are being generated in the economy. The small business sector, Mr. Speaker, accounts for a full 40 per cent of all of the business activities that are out there in terms of generating employment. So a full 40 per cent of everybody who is working in the private sector is working in that sector called small business.

Small businessmen have concerns and I was looking at an item the other night in the financial post out of Toronto and it highlighted the five or six major concerns that small businesses have. I won't go through the galaxy of what they are but let me tell you what the two major concerns are that small businessmen have. Number 1, the biggest concern that small businesses have is the tax burden that presently is placed upon them as far as having to generate tax dollars to pay the various levels of taxes that are imposed on the business sector. About 75 per cent -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I want to say to the Member for St. John's North that it's not out of disrespect for him or his resolution which we, on this side, support and had intended to debate today, and support by three of our members being ready to debate, but in light of the actions and the motion invoking closure on members of this House, the motion put forward by the Government House Leader just a few moments ago where the backbenchers of the government and the private members have been muzzled. Now the Government House Leader today because of the motion invoking closure on the Opposition - he's attempting to muzzle them - whereby, the people of the Province now do not have a voice because the government will not provide for public hearings and public input, Mr. Speaker, that we are not willing to sit in this Legislature today and tolerate this dictatorship any longer and we are leaving.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We are leaving the House, Mr. Speaker, in protest. We are leaving because what the government is doing is not in the best interest of the people of this Province. It's a giveaway, it's a cover-up, Mr. Speaker, the likes of which has never been seen since Confederation. The Premier and the Minister of Justice are involved in the biggest scandal, Mr. Speaker, ever witnessed in our Province and we are leaving this Chamber accordingly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I suppose it's probably always easier to preach to the converted than to the ignorant. In that vein I'll carry on and have reasonable assurance within my soul that at the end of the day there will be unanimity for supporting this resolution that we have before us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I would not want to presuppose, prejudge or presume upon the intelligence of any hon. member of the House but I feel a greater level of comfort now for some support than I did hitherto and so with that we'll carry on.

I was outlining some of the concerns that the small business sector has, Mr. Speaker. There were two that I was referencing. One was the level of tax and tax burdens that are presently imposed on that business sector. Secondly and not insignificantly, the second by about 65 per cent, the second-biggest problem that the small business sector identified for themselves, was the degree of government regulation with which they have to deal on an ongoing basis in terms of getting through the enterprise of being business people.

The first `be it resolved' in the motion asks us to " organizations that promote the interest of small business...." In that context let me refer to some of the organizations out there that do in fact support the business community, and that in turn need the support and the assistance of us in the Legislature, in government. I don't want to comment on them all, but we have the organizations through the boards of trade that are in existence out there. We have the chambers of commerce that represent the interest of small business. We have the Confederation of Independent Businessmen on a national level.

Then we get down to some of the other organizations that are less high-profile. The junior achievement programs that are in existence. The one that I really wanted to get to today, because it is one of the newer initiatives that is going on, and it is that enterprise in the schools called the cooperative education programs.

The larger organizations, while they need our support and our encouragement, some of them are pretty well self-driven. I think of the boards of trade and these types of things. What I've been encouraged with over the past few years in my tenure in school trusteeship is the growth of emphasis in the school systems that is being placed upon entrepreneurship and the whole concept of training people to become business people.

Twenty years ago business people were generally - or further back than that - probably historically, business people were for the most part looked sort of down upon, in the sense that they were a crowd that probably had one thing in mind - that was profit - and to some extent they probably weren't trusted, in the Newfoundland rural community in particular. There was good and historical reasons for that. Sometimes they deserved not to be trusted as business people, but I think we've come a long way from that and I think we are in a generation and an age where the worth of the business sector and the value of entrepreneurship is being more appreciated.

One of the ways -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Time is up?


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


MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, thank you.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman should take as long as he needs.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: May I have unanimity on that `by leave'?

AN HON. MEMBER: You have it.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I have it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes you do.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: May I have a second opinion, Mr. Speaker.

I will say this. That in the area of education, through the secondary school systems, the concept of training people to be entrepreneurs is rather new, but I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it is probably one of the areas where we should concentrate a significant degree of encouragement, a significant degree of -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) are you trying to tell us something?


AN HON. MEMBER: How are you Rick?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: A significant degree of support. I attended, Mr. Speaker, just a short while ago up in my district, up at Vaters, with the hon. the Minister of ITT and my colleague for Stephenville, Mr. Aylward, a rather unique program - because it was a first in the co-op education program. It was a program that meshed, or that made it, if you like. High school students, with students from Memorial University, who were matched up with individuals or enterprises in the private sector. The concept was that the kids at MUN would be tutors to the kids in the high school so that together they could work with the free enterprisers, the entrepreneurs, the businesses out there they had been mated with to get an idea, get an overview, get a broad general prospective if you like of what is really happening and what it is like to be a small businessman.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if I may go on for another moment or two.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, can I move a motion that we not rise until 10:00 tonight, if I have all that time on my hands?

MR. ROBERTS: That is the difference between down here and up there.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I truly feel like that mosquito now. I hardly know where to begin. It is such a captive and such an attentive audience, those that I know are going to stick with me to the end. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that in the nine months I have been here that is the best looking bunch I have seen over there. They are all on the wall. I hope Hansard will record that these gentlemen that heretofore occupied your chair are all a fine audience and I am sure they are going to give me no hassle.

AN HON. MEMBER: Most of them are coming off the wall.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: They are coming off the wall.

If there is one particular area, Mr. Speaker, where I believe us in government can concentrate our efforts and encouragement it is on the co-op education programs that are springing up in the schools and that are being worked out in the private sector, in the business sector, by employers who seem to have a new attitude toward their participation and, if you like, their - I would not call it commitment, but the necessity for them as business people to give something to the educational system of the Province and our children.

Many years ago it would be unheard of to suggest that free enterprise, or the businessmen in the community really owed something to our children in school in terms of giving them access to the workplace free of charge and spending some time with them to train them and give them an overview on what it is like to be an entrepreneur, but it seems now that it has become the in-thing and it is becoming accepted by large business as well as small business to give some of their time, give some of their expertise, and give some of their ability free of charge to children in our high schools so that they will have some basic understanding of what it is to become an entrepreneur.

I wanted to go on to government agencies but I think I shall resume my seat at the moment in the interest of allowing whoever was about to speak after me, from this side, to now take their place and speak, and I will resume when it is appropriate after the next speaker has his turn.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am somewhat disappointed that the Opposition is not here today. I was hoping that they would participate in the debate as to the importance of small business and to make some suggestions as to where we go in the Province, and part of the changes they would like to see happen so that we can all make the economy roll and start to get it going in this Province. I support fully the motion put forward by the Member for St. John's North, my good friend and colleague, and I think it is very timely as the government moves ahead on a whole range of matters to try to redefine and restructure the economy of the Province.

I believe it is very timely and I echo the statements he has made regarding the education of our children. On the entrepreneurship side of things, I think that is extremely important, and in the last three or four years there has been a lot of progress made in that area. If small business, or if business of any type is going to move ahead or going to be created in the Province people have to have an understanding and they also have to have an environment around them that will allow for that to happen. What we are doing as a government has never been done before. It is to build an environment that warmly welcomes and also gives, I suppose, a positive indication to, and reward to, effort, good effort, strong effort, commitment, risk taking. All these things are going to be rewarded and all of these things are going to be welcome in our society.

They have been for years but government has not been focused on trying to stimulate people to do things for themselves as far as I am concerned. We haven't been able to do that over the years and I think now we are trying to do that and refocus the government's structures, reform the regulations and reform our own attitudes which is extremely important if we are going to face the challenges which we now face and we face many challenges right now at this time in our history. We face immense challenges.

The fishermen in the Province are people who are entrepreneurs; they are people who have run small businesses and they have a problem right now; they have a big problem and we have to find a way to help them refocus while we are into this problem area, a crisis situation and make the most out of it. We have to make the most out of the other situations that we have in our resource industries. We have to find another way and we have to adopt an attitude that says well, if we cannot do it this way or this is not a market, then let us go and find another one, so those are the types of changes that we have to make and I am very pleased to see that attitude is prevailing within the government and hopefully outside in the workforces of the Province and in the educational institutions that that will start being adopted and moved ahead.

You know, we have one of the best information highways in Canada, Mr. Speaker, the ACOA enterprise network is hooked up now in about 200 to 250 centres in the Province where you can get business information of any type, market information of any type, at your disposal in any community in the Province that wants it. I mean this is the first time in Canada, anywhere, of any province in Canada that you can access that type of information on that type of system; our Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador developed this proposal in conjunction with ERC, it was accepted by the federal government and now we have centres around the Province where you can go in and if you are a business person already operating, you can use information, you can get access to information on your market, if you want to look at new markets for your business, you can get hold of this information at your fingertips; you don't have to drive to a big centre, you don't have to come to the big City of St. John's to get the information and that is important if we are going to have people thinking about entrepreneurship, thinking about expanding on what they are doing or starting new businesses.

It is extremely important for us to provide the fundamentals, for us to provide the infrastructure for people to think for themselves and to move and to decide if they want to move on something that it won't cost them a lot of money but it will cost them their time and they will be rewarded for their time and so the ACOA enterprise network, I speak highly of it. Our Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology speaks highly of it and has endorsed it fully and has Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador making sure that they are spreading the good word on it so that people in the Province, no matter if they are business people, if they are educational instructors, if they are people in any part of the workforce, that they take advantage of this type of access to information, because we are in a world now where geography matters little and we have to prepare ourselves to develop new markets for the things that we can do best, and the ACOA enterprise network, Mr. Speaker, is a way to do that.

I hope that the Members of the House of Assembly will take it upon their time to go and visit one of the telecentres in the Province that are now sponsored in different areas of the Province and take it upon themselves to see how this operates because it is excellent technology; it is available to anybody who wants it and it is the first time ever - and we are leaders in Canada in that type of information highway being provided to business people or educators or young students or entrepreneurs. It is very positive and I hope that people will take it upon themselves to find out more about it.

It is also positive, Mr. Speaker, that in the Throne Speech that the government has already announced, that the regulatory framework for businesses is being reviewed and all of the hindrances that are there within a bureaucracy are being reviewed and if they do not meet a certain criteria and are not effective and do not serve a purpose, all of these regulations and permits and all the things that get in the way and create paperwork for a business person, we are going to get rid of as much of that as we can and we are going to make it easier for a business person to go ahead and start on his own or her own initiative to make it happen. The problem has been the frustration created by paperwork and regulations which we have had in existence for so long and which we have not had a good, hard look at and we are now starting to do that.

I remember the former Minister of Finance, the Member for St. John's Centre, started to do that when he was a Minister of Finance and as a matter of fact, came in with - I think we cut out, in one Budget, I think, Minister, 115 or 111 regulations and permits or fines or something that were on the books.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) this government has had.

MR. AYLWARD: There have been more changes. Our Ministers of Finance have made more changes in the last three to four years, given now, mind you, the deficit crisis we've had in the Province, made more changes to get rid of the little things that get in the way of a person trying to start something. Those things aren't highlighted enough. We have to highlight them more. They are things that used to cost a person $50 and fill out a form and it would take you six weeks to get it back before you got the permit.

Those things, we are going to get rid of them. The ones that we need we will keep. We are going to try to get the decision making of those types of permits that are required, the minimal amount of paperwork required, get that into the areas where people can make decisions, and government doesn't get in the way, and helps instead of getting in the way.

I think that those initiatives that were announced in the Throne Speech are very positive. For anybody who is thinking about starting something or thinking about heading in that direction in this Province, then at least what it does, it gives them encouragement, and it shows that the government is going to pay attention. They are trying to provide a framework for people to go ahead and do your research, spend your time, and we are going to try to help you instead of hinder you. I think that is going to help a great deal as we go through.

The Member for St. John's North talked about the burden of taxation. That is also under review. I totally encourage the Minister of Finance and the government to take right away action to deal with taxation measures that will improve or help attract and start up new businesses here, or manufacturing industries.

The idea, Mr. Speaker, of a taxation zone or tax zone or free tax zone or enterprise tax zone, these types of things are done elsewhere. I would hope that the Minister of Finance and the government will review taxation zones, places - maybe the whole Province. Looking at a taxation zone to allow for incentives for new businesses to set up. Because we are an attractive place in Canada, and we are next to Europe and so on, but we have to become a shining star. We have to become an attractive place and we have to let people know. The way you let them know is you have to have a marketing pitch, a sales pitch. If we are going to see a business we have to be able to say things to them that are different than what other people are doing. I think the government is on the right track. We are trying to do that, and I encourage the idea of a tax holiday or a tax zone which would allow for manufacturing or assembly operations to be set up in different parts of the Province. It is long overdue. It is time we did it, and I am just very delighted to see that we are moving towards that end.

The other matter of focusing the developmental groups that are involved in helping a person start a business, such as Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, the agencies of government, like the Economic Recovery Commission, and so on. The Throne Speech talks about focusing all of the agencies that are working towards economic development on a client-centred approach. So that when the person walks in to a government office, walks through a government door, that the response that they get from all of us is one of a positive indication. It doesn't mean you say: Yes, you can have your grant or a loan or your this or your that. What it means is a client-centred approach of saying, even if we have to say no on a proposal, that we say it in a way that is professional, and we make people want to come back and want to do things. There are ways that you can say no that can turn people off.

I'm glad to see again in the Throne Speech that we are going to focus governmental activity towards getting people when they come in, to get respect first off the bat - because they are coming into a government office, which is a taxpayer's office - coming in, that they are going to get a decent response. That they will be given a decision quickly instead of having to wait or be strung out and get frustrated. We want to get over that and we want to get around that, we don't want to deal with that any more. The client-centred approach and the focusing of our public servants on that type of approach I think is going to help a great deal when somebody is looking to establish some business in this Province, from wherever part of the Province they are, or from whatever part of the world they come.

I think it is extremely important. I will be making sure myself, personally, that whoever I'm dealing with in the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, or within government or outside, that we keep pushing this idea, because again it is one of attitude. It is the whole matter of attitude and the framework that we are going to try to develop in this Province for people to take initiatives and start something on their own if they can do so and if they feel like doing so. I think it's extremely important that we help people navigate through the regulatory process that we have in trying to get people started. It is extremely important, and I think we are on the right track as we move down the line.

The other day I noticed in the Globe and Mail that the Hope Brook gold mine owner, Peggy Whitty, who is the owner of Hope Brook Gold, indicated that she thought Newfoundland was a good place to do business. She thought that she had the support of the government of the Province here, and that she found the government here easy to deal with. I think that's a pretty good endorsement from a big employer in the Province, and I think it should be put on the record, because I think it also gives an indication of where we are trying to head. If we can get more people thinking that way and talking that way, I think that we will be able to get through the difficulties that we are in now, and see some things happen.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to highlight the fact that when we're talking with small business, and family businesses, the Junior Achievement Program is one of the best programs that you could come across. It is starting to get more and more within the Province, and I endorse it fully and I would ask the Members of the House of Assembly, if they haven't yet, to take the opportunity to go to one of these classes and talk with some of the students about junior achievement and about what they are doing. It is one of the best programs that has come along in a long time, and I would like to see it more expanded within certain areas of the Province, and ask our business people to get more involved, if they can, in junior achievement, because the students are getting a great insight into what it takes, when you get out in the workforce and start doing things on your own, and they are starting to think early, and that's important.

We have to think about the long term here, not just the short term, in trying to get through the rough waters, by doing Junior Achievement Programs, and co-op education, as the Member for St. John's North said. We were at a school function a few weeks back. The co-op program is a great program, I think, that can help benefit students who are thinking about business, or whatever type of occupation they are looking to go into, or vocation. I think really what we are all doing is a vocation in one sense, that you are taking it upon yourselves to develop your interests and then decide what you want to do with your life.

By doing that, co-op education, I think we have to expand that. I believe the federal government is now looking at enhancing it further in their programs, and I would hope that provincially we try to do the same thing. I think it's very positive, and the education focus that we're now looking at in curriculum, which we are now looking at in the restructuring of education will help, I think, save money, and then pump that money into those types of programs. I would hope that the Cabinet and the government will take that direction and go with it, and try to see us make those changes that are definitely and desperately needed.

I think we are in the right direction, and I fully support the resolution put forward by the Member for St. John's North, an outstanding businessman in his own right, I might add.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. AYLWARD: A person of great wealth, I hear, of knowledge, and maybe he has a little bit of wealth besides that - I don't know - but I do know he has a great wealth of knowledge about business, and I would say we could all learn a few things from him, actually, about how to do business.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's got good specials at the store, too.

MR. AYLWARD: You've got some good specials at the store?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. AYLWARD: You buy right and sell right.

There is one other program I want to highlight before I sit down, the program that the government has out right now. It's getting some play, but the ambassador program that has been highlighted by the Economic Recovery Commission is just a one-pager that goes out and highlights good news stories in the Province. I don't know if anybody has seen it, or members have seen it, but I have to say to you, I picked it up one day. I was having a hard day, and I was sitting down somewhere and picked up the ambassador program, one-pager. I started reading all the good news stories that were happening, about business people who are starting things around the Province. I thought it was pretty good. That alone is beneficial, and the idea of ambassador... You know, we are all ambassadors for the Province. I think we should all adopt that kind of a motto, because I believe, wherever you go, we have a great tradition in this Province; we have a great history and a great culture, and we all have to start promoting it as best we can, and adopting this type of role as ambassadors wherever you go, be it within the Province or outside the Province.

I think it's a good program. The more good news - there is good news happening out there. It's not just bad news that you read in certain parts of the media. There is some very good news out there that is happening in different parts of this Province. The bad news always gets the screaming headlines. That is a sad fact, unfortunately, but there are a lot of good things happening around here.

I would just like to say we should think that way and to think positive and I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, that with the great efforts of all of our people in the Province and really we have to find a way to enliven and give hope to our people. I think the measures that the government is taking are for almost all parts going to help do that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise in support of the motion put forward by the hon. Member for St. John's North. Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and the area, I suppose the constituency which he is so familiar with which he represents well in the retail sector and also in the distribution and wholesale sector of the Province, lends well to his expertise in bringing this issue forward. As someone who has had some success and, Mr. Speaker, as most people know, people who manage to rise to the top of their profession usually can offer good advice to others on the way and manner in which the government, as an example, should approach the issue of small business in dealing with the small business sector, in dealing with the government programs and initiatives that should be offered to the small businesses of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, the private members motion as it reads speaks of course about the Strategic Economic Plan. Just the other day I had a couple of accountants visit me on behalf of a group that they represent and after we finished our discussions about accountancy in the Province, I put the question to them, because they were very keen to offer to me with respect to their issue of accountancy referring to our strategic economic Plan and also referring to government's initiatives as announced in the Throne Speech.

So I asked them, Mr. Speaker, do you people feel that we as a Province and as a government for the Province, are doing what is right and what is seen as the right thing in the business sector? They were very, very enamoured with the way that we had approached it, by planning ahead, by making sure that we've itemized the different action items in the strategic plan. Mr. Speaker, they were applauding this effort and they said really if you look at provinces around the country, you know where Newfoundland stands. The strategic plan document is there as something that will stand the test of scrutiny. It will be adjusted as adjustment is needed over the next couple of years, I would think. The government has undertaken to act upon the strategic plan and also is working in concert with the federal government to provide the necessary funding to implement the action items therein. So this, as an independent opinion of a group of people who certainly should know about business and have an independent view of the approach to business here in the Province, was very good to know.

Mr. Speaker, as well, I'd certainly like to speak a little about my own background, in working in a small retail store from the time I was about six-years-old - my parents ran a family owned business in the town of Port aux Basques and I remember stocking shelves for fifty cents an hour leading up to Christmas to earn enough money to buy Christmas presents. Mr. Speaker, it was the kind of thing that I grew up with, serving on customers and getting used to understanding the principles of ordering the goods into the store to sell. It was a successful small business that existed in Port aux Basques for some forty-six years and upon retirement of the principles of the business they did close it but, Mr. Speaker, it was very interesting to learn business from the time that I was a child.

My grandfather and my uncle, named Beauchamp as its called in here, Frederick and James Beauchamp started the business in Port aux Basques and it started as a small forge as it was known. My grandfather was a blacksmith and he received a lot of his training during World War II on the American Air Force base in Stephenville.

He learned the forge trade in Burgeo and was well known in the repair of ships and other vessels in the Burgeo area, and moved to Twillingate, because that was where the work was at one point in time, and upon the sinking of the S.S. Caribou my family returned, my grandfather and grandmother, returned from Twillingate back to the Port aux Basques area because of difficulties they were having in some of our in-laws having lost three or four of their family members on the sinking of the S.S. Caribou

Mr. Speaker, this I tell you because it is a little bit of history, I suppose, as to how a small business sometimes begins in the Province. In this case they came back to the town of Port aux Basques which was a bit of a bevy of activity, I guess, because of the use of Port aux Basques as the main port for the Newfoundland Railway and also it was used for the vessels docking from North Sydney and the exchange of goods and services there to provide the majority of goods that would be shipped across the Province by train.

Mr. Speaker, my uncle and grandfather started a small business doing some retail work. This was prior to Confederation, and when Confederation was dealt with, of course, tariffs prior to that were a very big issue for Newfoundland. Really, I suppose, you could draw the analogy to now trying to get rid of the trade barriers throughout our country and throughout the world community. At the time I remember hearing stories of many a merchant travelling on the ferries to Nova Scotia filling up briefcases with goods, putting them in the false bottoms and bringing them back to avoid the tariffs, not at all unlike these days when people bring back cigarettes and other things to avoid the tariffs.

Mr. Speaker, it was very interesting speaking to customs officers and others in Port aux Basques, who, over the years had to deal with these issues, and how the change from the existence under the old Commission of Government to the new federal customs officers put in a very different regime of dealing with the way they dealt with the public who were purported to be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. RAMSAY: They are raging in their seats over there.

From there they started this small business, and there is another piece of history I might add. They got into retail and it grew and grew to a point where it eventually encompassed about 25,000 square feet of retail space in a town of 6000 people, so it was quite a large business and something that we were always very proud of. We sold everything from a needle to an anchor. It was such that, I suppose, as the need came up in the community the need was filled. We had on the order of eighteen to twenty carpenters at one particular time who used to build houses and do repair work, and this sort of thing. We sold everything from furniture, to jewellery, to building supplies in general, to offering construction services, the sale of propane, cement, and really a variety of the department type store, the provision of furniture.

One thing in the area of electronics which would lead me into the electronics of today and how we will move into a business world that is a lot different from the business world as we have known it over the last, even ten years. The first television to be sold in Newfoundland was not sold here in the City of St. John's, it was sold in Port aux Basques. At the time Nova Scotia had a TV signal over for Sydney and the people over there made a deal that they would make some adjustments to their transmitter, they cut a hole in the side of the transmitter, Mr. Speaker, and the signal sometimes could be picked up at Port aux Basques. What you had were the first televisions sold in the Province because of the radio skip-type effective transmitters at that time. We had a group of people back when the first television was brought in, it was sitting in the widow of our store here in this little town of Port aux Basques, they turned it on and the TV signal came on, well, you could pretty well say there were tens and tens of people there at the time. The next night there were hundreds and hundreds standing around watching this television and the first t.v. signal in the Province to come in from outside of the Province.

MR. ROBERTS: Here in St. John's, we used to watch the test pattern (inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, test pattern. And the congressional hearings apparently, if you talk to the people at NTV.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) we would all be home - CJON (inaudible). I was twelve or thirteen, it was the day before yesterday. You would go and you would watch the test pattern. It was black and white, of course.

MR. RAMSAY: It was very interesting. My grandfather and uncle used to do radio repairs and as electronics came in every little thing -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) advertising up there (inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: - changed - well, we are no longer in business, so I can speak about it, I suppose, that is history. Anyway, they moved from the electronics on through. Every new electronic gizmo of course having had that history they moved into the eight-track. If you remember the onset of the eight-track -

MR. ROBERTS: I have some eight-track tapes (inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: You still have your eight-tracks, do you? But the onset of eight-track tapes. From there to sell the eight-track tapes. The way it was in smaller parts of Newfoundland, and hon. members from different areas can possibly identify with this, if one person had it, and of course money was going well in Port aux Basques in those days, everyone then had an eight-track. Then they got into the big t.v. sets inside with the stereo and everything in it as well, and they would move up to that. Then there were the eight-track fireplaces and really the whole of our coast, down the coast as far as Rose Blanche, and even some of the communities - at that time we used to service Burgeo and shipped goods down the coast to Burgeo as well. A lot of the consumer goods for Burgeo were wholesaled out from our place down to Burgeo and retailed to them in Burgeo as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) nomination meeting.

MR. RAMSAY: Anyway, our ties to Burgeo go way back, Mr. Speaker. To look at what the future holds for my district in the area of small business, as a member of the House here I often get enquiries from constituents who are so intent on wanting to start a business. They have an idea and they want to take it through to reality. These people are very genuine in approaching us, and a lot of them have little or no idea, because we haven't really developed an entrepreneurial culture in the Province. Hopefully it is catching on a bit more now. We've implemented programs in the schools. We've provided the funding to Enterprise Newfoundland and other agencies throughout the Province to assist in cultivating an entrepreneurial climate and a spirit within the - providing the information to people.

It is certainly something that we hope will bring about a change. Where people will take the - I suppose you could call it an entrepreneurial spirit in being fishermen and being people who have their own enterprise. They would take that and then utilize it in some different way. Some talk about being trained for a variety of things. A lot of people have the basic instincts there on which to succeed in the area of small business. It is that kind of thing I think that government can do best.

On the issue of trying to attract, and make it attractive for other individuals to come to Newfoundland and to set up shop here, and even to attract medium-sized and even larger industries here in the Province, we of course are going to take efforts, as noted in the Throne Speech, to change the manufacturing tax regime and other tax regimes, to make the Province possibly the best place, from a tax and regulatory standpoint, to do business in all of North America. This kind of effort being made by this government is very heart-warming to business people all over the globe, really, in looking at Newfoundland as a potential location in which to do business. Mr. Speaker, I know only too well from having dealt with a medium-sized business, I would have to call it, in a group in Port aux Basques, that has had some difficulty. The company is called Atlantic Seaboard Industries Ltd., and with a lot of effort on my part and the part of community people back over the years, we managed to establish a steel fabrication facility there which currently is working on some very exciting opportunities globally, and we hope, Mr. Speaker, very well to be able to make some very, very positive announcements for the future of this Province with respect to Atlantic Seaboard Industries Ltd. within the next week or so.

I have been working diligently with the new investors in Atlantic Seaboard Industries Ltd. and with other federal and provincial agencies to see them over the hurdles that they have experienced with a restructuring of the company, and the opportunities that we have opened up, Mr. Speaker - and I have hesitated to mention any of this publicly because it is certainly a corporate announcement that will be made with the assistance of the two levels of government, but it will certainly be, I would suggest, an extremely good day for this Province when we can finally put to rest the fears of the future of the Atlantic Seaboard facility in Port aux Basques.

The company that has come in here is very astute at the management of their affairs, and, along with efforts of the current company in seeking contracts worldwide - contracts in the Middle East, contracts in the Far East and other contracts down in the Caribbean, that, along with the facilities being provided there, we hope to be able to go to other facilities in this Province and have to request space from them in order to complete these contracts. Because the volume of work is huge and we just hope that the people of the area who have put so much time and energy into this, will, of course, be the first to benefit and the people of the Province through the tax revenue that is generated in income tax, and also in the activity level and then the increase in small businesses that have to be set up to support such an active facility.

Now, these other small businesses, it is inevitable that they do crop up. One can only look at Hibernia and the businesses and business people who have really grown to support and be suppliers to a large industry such as that. It is not inconceivable, Mr. Speaker, that there could be an amount of work that is significant even in light of the total value of the Hibernia project, available to the Port aux Basques area, and if time frames require to be provided up for bidding on a subcontractual basis to the other facilities in Newfoundland and other facilities in Atlantic Canada.

We are very, very excited about this; it is almost to a point if, in fact, the deal goes through smoothly as planned that - we would love to be able to say something about it now but issues similar to the issues dealing with the Ontario Securities Commission with respect to Newfoundland Hydro are very similar with this because the companies involved are publicly traded and based on that aspect, no announcements are allowed to be made until they are cleared through the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Mr. Speaker, to look at some other areas, the client-centered approach to doing business: this is one that is close to my heart, having assisted people and tried to help steer them through bureaucracy at a couple of different levels and also through an understanding, I guess, of the regulatory and political process. I have experienced first hand the peril that business sometimes ends up involved in, the frustration that they have in having to get some activity done quickly. It seems that sometimes officials have to go through the normal process which frustrates business to no end, because every business that comes to the doors of government, expects their issue to be dealt with as a priority, and because government does so many things and has some many issues to deal with, it is only, I suppose, an understanding they come to eventually that their issue is one of many priorities that government has to deal with.

Well, this government has undertaken an initiative, as announced in the Throne Speech, to look at that and rethink it, in a way, and reorganize somewhat, all of the departments in the Province, and agencies, that deal with economic development, in order to focus on the client-centered approach. Now, it is a nice phrase, it sounds really good, and sometimes the efforts of government go unheeded.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.


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


MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying with respect to the client-centred approach to doing business, it is such that we have businesses out there which get frustrated with their ideas. Sometimes it's because of lack of capital, sometimes it's because the ideas they have are not well enough thought out, the analysis has not been done to determine as to whether or not they can succeed in their chosen venture, and the officials, we hope, are not becoming shocked, I suppose. Some of the terminology sometimes used is that they become gun-shy, I suppose, to the people coming in with a certain idea, because the pre-conceived notion sometimes of an official is: That cannot work. And the analysis is done, and if there is any pre-conceived notion, of course, the person will fail and will not get to first base, and will not get his idea off the ground.

Mr. Speaker, it's a shame, but sometimes there is a school of thought that someone who brings forward an idea that is not well enough thought out, an idea that hasn't had the proper analysis done, that our people are there to assist someone in preventing them from losing the money that they would invest into this venture if, in fact, it is deemed that they would fail, given the analysis.

Sometimes people go off and they have success without knowledge of the reason why they have had success in business. I suppose you could look at the four different styles of business, and the result of those different styles.

You have the business person who is a conscious competent, we say. A person who is conscious of what he is doing and is competent at carrying out his business activities is probably the highest order of business person, and I would certainly think that would be the way we would identify the hon. the Member for St. John's North.

The other individual in business that we have to look at is the person who is an unconscious competent, a person who has been successful in business but is not really sure how he has done it. Such people know that the money has come in; they have paid the bills; they have made a profit, but they are not necessarily able to determine as to the reason why they have been successful, and that is unfortunate, because that is the kind of business person who often, when the chips are down and when the economy gets rough, is put out of business.

One only has to look at Olympia and York. They certainly had a lot of success. When the recession came and the real estate market went down through the basement, the Olympia and York-types were seen to be standing on a stack of cards, and there was a certain incompetence in the way that they had proceeded with those investments.

Then, Mr. Speaker, we have to look at two others. There is the conscious incompetent, which is someone who is conscious of what he should be doing but, for one reason or another, does not carry out the necessary practices in business, and because of that, is not doing very well, or ends up losing his business.

Worst of all, and the person we certainly try to steer clear of getting involved in a specific venture, would be the unconscious incompetent, who normally, without the proper information, would get into business and lose his shirt. That is unfortunate for all involved, and is the kind of thing that we, as government officials, should seek to prevent from happening, for the benefit of the individual himself, and also for the benefit of the whole Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we only have to look at what they do in some other jurisdictions. In yesterday's Globe and Mail there was an article about the National Association of Prospectors and a business person who operates in this Province, namely one, Peggy Whitty, as the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Oak Mines. Ms. Whitty was very - I suppose, `good' in her comments, is the word to use - with respect to Newfoundland. She was very upset with the British Columbia Government and we understand that British Columbia are having some problems with the windy, craggy mine out there, that property and environmental issues. We, of course, here in this Province, have our own environmental issues to deal with, but Ms. Whitty was very laudatory in offering praise to the Province of Newfoundland as a place in which to do business. She mentioned this Province - and her activities in Hope Brook have been very successful. She is, of course, seeking, I would think, new activity here in this Province and we would hope for that and welcome her to do so. She has been a strong leader and was chosen by the Venture News Magazine on television some two months ago, I think, as the CEO of the year in the area of entrepreneurial CEOs operating in the country, in taking on the delicate and difficult issue of labour strife in the North West Territories, in the Yellowknife mine situation and also in setting up a company that is debt-free to run some of these gold mines throughout North America. To have a company these days, one knows, that is debt-free is certainly a Godsend and it i the kind of thing that we would hope we can do here in this Province, to seek to have businesses that are debt-free, that can start to pay tax on profit and offer profit to government through the tax process, be it income tax or whatever. That is the kind of thing that we have to work toward, Mr. Speaker.

Now. furthermore, I certainly want to support the motion put forward by my hon. colleague. I would certainly feel, Mr. Speaker, that we, as MHAs, will work closely with our public in our districts to assist them and assist in steering them through the bureaucracy that sometimes can be a wrench around their neck in the starting of small businesses. Hon. members know only too well the frustration that sometimes people meet in trying to get their plans approved. The commitment of the government, and I repeat this for the sake of its importance, the intent of government to decrease the unnecessary regulation, the intent of government to improve the tax regime, the intent of government to improve the general business climate in the Province by getting out of the hair of business where it doesn't need to be there, that is, in and of itself, enough, I would suggest, to support and encourage business here in this Province and make Newfoundland the prime location for all of North America, in which to do business.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member notes - the last stanza of his motion is to encourage the development of entrepreneurship in the Province at the small business level generally. Well, nothing could do more for the economy of this Province, if, in fact, we are to have approximately, say, 300 small businesses in this Province, if through improvement to these small businesses we can manage to generate a part-time at each - say, a full-time job at one, and every second one you get a part-time job; then, we could, in essence, create another 400 jobs in this Province through this kind of effort, in making sure that the business climate has been improved.

This is the kind of thing that will generate untold wealth in the Province. We have a wealth of opportunity in the software and information technology field. We have strong ties to the marine area of business, in some of the new technologies that have been announced in the area of hydrographic service mapping through computers, through the information network that has been set up here in the Province, providing access for people to get information. I've been a user of this system myself and find it extremely good, Mr. Speaker, for the gathering of information, for the research necessary to assist business; getting into some of the forums where you can discuss small business activity with other small business people, with people all over the world who have tapped into the computer network system and are very aware of the electronic infrastructure that is necessary.

Mr. Speaker, without further ado, I would certainly acknowledge my colleague who wants to speak next here in the House. Do you want to clue up now? To my hon. colleague there, the Member for St. John's North, I will defer to you, for you to conclude maybe a little early.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) you are ready.

MR. RAMSAY: When I'm ready? Well, you can go right ahead. It is your motion, so I will defer to the hon. member.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My hon. colleague certainly could have gone on by leave a while longer had he wanted to. I presume it is his intention that the debate on the motion be clued up when I'm finished. Is that your intention, `Mr. Whip'? He doesn't speak to me.

MR. RAMSAY: You close the debate.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I will close the debate - okay.

There are a few things that I wanted to refer to, Mr. Speaker, in the debate on the resolution that is before us. One of the whereases - be it resolved, in the motion that we have before us, deals with a rather generic type of activity, if you like, something that it is difficult to quantify. It is this. It says: to "promote the fostering of an economic environment wherein small business... is encouraged...." I guess the question is, how in the world do you encourage and cause to be created an economic environment that encourages the pursuit of entrepreneurship, the pursuit of somebody who wants to start his business, that type of thing.

There are some things that we know we cannot legislate. If it were possible to legislate everything that we would like to legislate and that would work to our advantage in society and certainly in the House, then we would be much farther ahead as a society than we are. We can't legislate, for instance, common sense. If we could legislate common sense, the Opposition would still be with us, because we would have legislated it and they would have had to stay and use it. You can't legislate common sense.

You can't legislate an attitude. If you could legislate an attitude, on any given day we would all probably find ourselves in a better frame of mind than we are in. Because it would be something that would be legislated and mandatory for us to adhere to, a set of standards, a set of parameters which we could not go outside of.

What then do we do to encourage or promote the fostering of the development of an entrepreneurial attitude in the Province? I would suggest, in the absence of our ability to be able to legislate attitude, we have to rather concentrate on cultivating it. I believe that is something that we can do on a collective basis. I believe it is something that we have a responsibility to do on an individual basis. We have to get ourselves, and, by extension, others in the Province, to a mind-set, to a thought process that allows them to cultivate an attitude of positiveness, an attitude of `can do this', an attitude of wanting to be involved in the private sector, because they believe that there is reasonable opportunity for employment there and for a return on the investment of their labour and their financial investment as the case may be, and that, in getting involved in free enterprise, they will be able to function with the least possible impediments that are sometimes, not only perceived, but in fact, are put in their way by regulatory agencies, some of which we control as government.

If there is one thing, and it has been alluded to in the Throne Speech, it has been alluded to by my hon. colleagues who have spoken earlier today, but I say again, if there is one thing that we, as government must do - I do not think it is optional with us -it is that we must streamline and we deregularize, where it is possible, the processes of government, so that people can come to government departments, come to government agencies, come to government corporations, from whence they can access help, from whence they need to get permits and that type of thing, and find that we are user-friendly, as government. Now, I know that is a bit of a cliché, Mr. Speaker, to talk about something that is user-friendly. It is the coinage of a phrase that has become rather in vogue in the last few years and it relates to a multiplicity of disciplines out there in society, but for our purposes, user-friendly, I think, must be the hallmark of the government that we are part of today.

One of the ways that understanding and streamlining can be brought to government agencies and, indeed, government departments is, I believe, we have to bring into the process, into the employ of government, into the mainstream of government operation a sufficient number of people who not only have an understanding of business from a practical sense, who not only understand theories of how business is done because they have gotten a degree at university, or they have gone through Cabot or some other technical school, but I believe we have to bring into our employ people who know from first-hand experiences how business is run and what it is that is required to be provided to business so that they can best get the job done in the most efficient way possible.

I always refer, Mr. Speaker, in my own thinking, to one of the fifteen or twenty reports that businesses have to complete, sometimes on a monthly basis, sometimes on a yearly basis. But, on a yearly basis, I have been getting for many years as a wholesale distributor, a document from Statistics Canada. It is about an eight-page yellow document, and in that document they want to know everything that has gone on in my business for the past twelve months, almost on a daily basis. The thing is so complicated and it takes so much time that I took a position a number of years ago that I wouldn't complete the thing without being pushed to do so. So, a few years ago, I laid this particular wholesalers/retailers report on the corner of my desk and I decided I wasn't going to fill it out. And sure enough, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't too long before I got a call from Statistics Canada, from some young lady down there who wanted to know where the report was. I said, `Madam, it is here on my desk.' She said, `We will do this, Sir, by phone and it will only take a minute. If you would answer the following questions, I can complete the report for you at my office.' She asked me about six simple questions and I can tell you what they are: opening inventory for the beginning of the year, closing inventory at the end of the year, volume of sales for the year, breakdown of wholesale and retail sales - five or six simple questions that I answered for her in the space of three minutes over the telephone, and that, as far as her department was concerned, was absolutely sufficient information for her to complete the report that would otherwise have taken me about two days to do on the corner of my desk. I say if the forms, the reporting process, can be simplified to that extent, why should bureaucracy, why should bureaucrats and government, cause to create for themselves, as far as I'm concerned, in some instances, employment simply by making reports as laborious as they can rather than bringing them down to a position of making them as simple as they can.

So I say, as an example, Mr. Speaker, that there is a great latitude given to us. If we examined all of the regulations and all of the processes of government, there is a great latitude open to us to streamline, to deregularize, to simplify, to otherwise bring down to a much more easily worked with process, to get the information to government that they need, and also to allow the business community to access from government the information that they want on times.

There is no reason why a corporation should have to file every year a certificate saying that they are in business, and pay a $50 or $75 fee with it. If we have to go finding revenue for the Province by having $10 permits and $50 permits and $20 permits to cover every little activity that we want to undertake or that we get involved in, then I believe the whole basis of generating revenue should be examined as well. We need to get away from all of these piddling little necessities of getting permits and paying $5 and $10 bills. We need to get to a position where government can get off the backs of the people to the greatest extent that they can, get out of the pockets of the people to the extent that they can, stay out of the premises and the warehouses of people, so that business can be carried forward efficiently with the minimum of interference and hesitation from government.

I think what we need to hear about too, to some degree, are some of the success stories that we can relate to as members of the Legislature and as people of the Province. In the area of business that I've been mostly familiar with I want to tell you about two or three or four companies that are small business success stories in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I remember about twelve, fourteen years ago two young men from Gander, Newfoundland, the town that is represented by the Minister of Finance, two young men came in from the Town of Gander to my place of business and I asked: What can I do for you? They said: We've just returned from Calgary, Alberta, we've been working in an industry out there, the kitchen cabinet industry. We've decided we want to come home and work in Newfoundland. I said: Yes, that is fine. What do you want? They said: We are installers, we want a job installing kitchen cabinets. I had three or four apartment projects on and I gave them a job.

These young men, to make a long story short, have gone from doing that to establishing their own little operation down on Logy Bay Road. With a little bit of ACOA and Newfoundland government assistance they've moved from that to Donovans Industrial Park, to a 30,000 square foot plant. The bottom line of what I want to say to you is because of their ingenuity, because of their vision, because of their guts, because of their willingness to work twenty hours a day, seven days a week, they are today not only one of the two biggest suppliers, manufacturers, of kitchen cabinets in Newfoundland and Labrador, but they are also the largest supplier, as best I can find out, of that particular product in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick today.

They have not only taken unto themselves about 30 per cent or 40 per cent of the market in Newfoundland, they have opened an operation in Halifax, they have opened an operation in Moncton, and today that small operation, starting from two Newfoundlanders with skills and an idea and lots of guts to go to work, is the primary producer and the primary supplier of that particular product in Atlantic Canada today. In addition to that of course, or in the process of being there, they are also employing about fifty people on average in a small manufacturing plant in Donovans Industrial Park.

That is an example of what we can do with a little bit of government help and with a little bit of assistance from government on an ongoing basis. Basically what makes that possible today for that manufacturing firm is one little ongoing subsidy, as I understand it. That is, they receive a small amount of subsidization on transportation on manufactured products from this Province, across the Province, and also into the Maritime Provinces.

So I think it is an example of where a little bit of government help succinctly placed and put in the right place helps to support, on an ongoing basis, the employment of fifty or sixty people on a twelve month basis in this Province, and makes them the major supplier across Atlantic Canada for their product.

Up until two or three years ago I had another customer who recognized that 95 per cent of kitchen cabinet countertops in Newfoundland were coming in from New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. That company decided, with a little bit of assistance from ACOA, to set up a plant so that today, rather than 95 per cent of that product coming in from offshore, from upper Canada, 5 per cent of the product is now coming in from the mainland; 95 per cent of it is generated, or produced in Newfoundland, and the market in Newfoundland has accepted the product and has supported that local industry.

Mr. Speaker, one of the criticisms that I have heard over the years is that we, as Newfoundlanders, generally are unsupportive of our own industries and of our own people who try to get ahead. I am not to suggest that that has not been the case over the years. It may be the case today in certain areas and in certain sectors, but my experience is this. Where Newfoundlanders can produce a product that is reasonably comparable to a product that is coming from elsewhere, Newfoundlanders will always support local industry and will also support their own people in the manufacture and the development of that product.

One of the most unusual products, maybe, that is manufactured in Newfoundland - I have a customer that I supply to quite heavily - it may sound a little morbid, but it's the product known as a casket. Now ten or fifteen years ago I was going to get into that business myself, and I spent a lot of time and a lot of money travelling Canada, examining casket plants, manufacturing processes, dealing with the funeral homes, and that sort of thing, and I decided that I wouldn't get into it on the scale that I wanted to, but I can tell you today, of two or three small, rural operations who are making caskets - as morbid as it might be - and today they are supplementing offshore caskets coming in, to the local funeral directors, and supplying that market to a substantial degree.

I guess what I am saying, Mr. Speaker, in all of this, and in support of small business, and small business enterprises, is that there is no idea that we should consider offhand as being silly or impossible. I believe that every Newfoundlander has to be encouraged to have the nerve, if you like, or to have the guts, to come forward and present whatever idea they might have for starting a small business in the Province, without any fear of being criticized, or without any fear of being put down because of it. No idea is too crazy to be examined.

I am not suggesting that every idea that somebody comes up with for a new product, or for starting a business, is going to work or be good, but there should never be an attitude pervasive in our bureaucracy that looks down upon a person with an idea for a business, and the first attitude and the first response that should be given to a person with an entrepreneurial idea should be one of positivity and one of encouragement, as opposed to one of telling them all the reasons why it may not work and it probably is not the best thing to do.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that if we don't get around and get a mind-set of encouraging people rather than questioning people because of their concepts, then we will always languish, and I submit, Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland, if we don't change our attitude, will always be hewers of wood and drawers of water, rather than the people who use those things. We must not allow ourselves any longer to be second rate or second class to anybody.

The reason for it, Mr. Speaker, is very simple.

MR. SPEAKER: Your time is up.


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

The reason for it is very simple, we have to privatize and look to the private sector for the ingenuity and for the investment that is needed if we are to succeed as a people living on this bald rock out in the Atlantic where we are resident now. We have no choice but to look to the private sector. I often think, Mr. Speaker, of this POP crowd, people who call themselves 'power of the people'. I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that I believe in the power of the people. It is the power of the people that has put us here today and it is the power of the people that put the people that sit on the other side in their seats and they will have to answer those people for their antics and for their silliness in walking out of the Legislature today.

I think if we're going to take POP and use it to symbolize something that is really worthwhile, I would suggest we take POP and call it `privatization of the Province'. Let them go and run with that slogan, run with that attitude and run with that frame of mind. It is not people that want to stop everything that is going to help the Province but it is people that want to privatize, promote and help the Province to understand that it is the private sector that will get us going and it is the private sector that will keep us going.

We should never, Mr. Speaker, as legislators allow ourselves to be the discouragers of entrepreneurship. Mr. Speaker, we should never allow ourselves to fill the role of being an impediment to people who otherwise want to become entrepreneurs because I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that if you look at the surveys that are coming out from industrial agencies and surveys that are coming out through government surveys you'll find that what is happening today in the economic recovery that is ongoing, while the economy is somewhat recovering and while things are improving gradually, jobs are not coming back on stream in businesses generally at a rate that reflects the diminishing of the recession. New jobs are not coming on stream because less people are being hired back.

Businesses have found ways in the recession to get more work for less pay out of the people they have. Businesses have found ways to be innovative and streamline and they have found ways to get the job done without spending as much money on labour. I would suggest and I would submit, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. House, the small business sector is probably really the biggest growth industry that we have at our disposal today and it is the one that we should lend our energies in encouraging and supporting.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that it is our duty as legislators, it is our duty as members of the House of Assembly, it is our duty as members on the government side in the House of Assembly, to encourage and to foster an attitude of encouraging our young people to try by all means, whatever silly idea or otherwise that it might seem to be, to try whatever idea they have, bring it forward and let's see if we can help them.

Mr. Speaker, I've always been interested - although this is not a sector of the economy that I want to get into because I don't have the expertise in it, although one I think I should have some - my background is that I, Mr. Speaker, grew up on a farm from the time I was two years old until after I was married at twenty-one. The farm I grew up on was the federal experimental farm in Mount Pearl. My father worked there for thirty-five years as a devoted, humble and dedicated civil servant. People think or used to think that because you grew up on a farm for twenty years you knew something about farming. Well nothing could be further from the truth, I confess in my case.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman sure learned about cattle or whatever when he came in here though.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Well, Mr. Speaker, one of the hobbies as a boy that I used to engage in, myself and my buddy, in the spring of the year when the manure was spread on the field, if that's the item that you're referring to, Mr. Speaker, we would always run behind the manure spreader to see how close we could get to it without getting hit in the face and I don't have to tell you that there were times when we did get caught in the cross-fire, we did get hit. But having said that, I am no expert on farming but I am, Mr. Speaker, always interested to hear from my colleague to my left here, from St. George's who knows more about it than I do, and it never fails to intrigue me as to how few people in Newfoundland today, even take the opportunity to grow for themselves a few vegetables to put on their own kitchen tables, whereas once upon a time that seemed to be a very traditional and a very natural thing to do in Newfoundland.

We may not be perceived, Mr. Speaker, as being a place where agriculture has great potential, but unless somebody can tell me differently, Mr. Speaker, it is my view that the agricultural industry has a wide degree of latitude and a lot of potential within which it can grow in Newfoundland, and I would suggest that we not be diverted from recognizing the potential that is in Newfoundland in the area of agriculture. It is quite unlike forestry, it is quite unlike fishing; we can cut the forest down at a rate that will render nothing there to be used. We can fish the oceans dry or otherwise do things that cause them to not yield a harvest of fish and we are in that situation now, but it seems to me that the land is there year after year, and as spring follows summer, follows fall, follows winter, spring will come again and the land will always be there in which we can plant a few crops, grow a few vegetables, harvest a few strawberries, do whatever we can to number one, provide for our own needs but more importantly, in the context of our discussion today, to encourage entrepreneurship.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the agriculture industry is a real sleeper in this Province and I believe a lot more can be done in that area and I look forward, Mr. Speaker, to hearing from my hon. colleague from St. George's to inform us in the future about what can be done in agriculture. He made a very good presentation in times past, to us, with respect to what can be done with some of the fishery related products that we harvest and I think that he can tell us a lot about agriculture.

But whether, Mr. Speaker, we have a young person who wants to be a farmer, whether we have a young person who wants to be a restaurant owner, whether we have a young person who wants to be a computer operator, whether we have a young person, Mr. Speaker, who wants to get into the retail sector, whatever they want to do, let us encourage them to pursue their dream and try and fulfil the vision within themselves.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the people who go into free enterprise are the people that contribute most to society. I say that, Mr. Speaker, without being disparaging to people who work in any other sector, whether it is in the public sector or otherwise. You show me a person who is a true entrepreneur and you will show me a person who will probably be quite willing, quite gladly, quite openly, and with great enthusiasm, put eighteen to twenty hours some days into their enterprise. They will not only work by day, they will not only work in their business by day, but they will go home in the night and they will do their bookkeeping, they will go home in the night and do their ordering, they will go home in the night and they will look to their suppliers and do their purchasing.

I say that any young person, or any old person for that matter, who is prepared to put twelve, fifteen, eighteen or twenty hours a day into providing a livelihood for himself deserves all the support and all the encouragement that any Legislature and any Province can give them. We encourage people to do things so that they come out of university and want the highest kind of wages, sometimes not always, they want the highest kind of wages for the least amount of effort and work. I say, Mr. Speaker, that is not the spirit of entrepreneurship, and I say we have to get away from primarily encouraging people who want to be academics. There is nothing wrong with that.

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order.

The Hon. Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, if I might, without objection, just congratulate the hon. member on such a fine job here today, on ably presenting his motion, and we will allow him to conclude very shortly now, but I really want to congratulate him on such a fine job, to speak so eloquently about the topic at hand, with severe conviction and authority in bringing forward his expertise to the floor of the House of Assembly today. I think he is to be commended immeasurably and we appreciate his activity here today. We will give him another minute to conclude and hopefully, Mr. Speaker, we will have unanimous consent to accede to his motion.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

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

I do appreciate the break to get a mouthful of water. I feel the weight of the obligation and the necessity to carry on to an appropriate time on the clock before we break. I realize we can quit early but I do not think it would be good for us today to exit the hon. Chamber much before the normal time of 5:00 o'clock. I think that we have to demonstrate to the public and to those who were not prepared to put in a good day's work that we are willing to put in a good day's work, notwithstanding their absence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I am cogitating on whether or not there would not be some basis for some hon. member tomorrow to move a motion in this hon. House, Mr. Speaker, that would have the effect of embarrassing these people to give up the equivalent of three hours' pay, in as much as they were not prepared to put in three hours work. I don't know how we can get that to their attention or to the attention of the public. My father always taught me that if you don't work you shouldn't deserve to eat. Because I always liked to eat I decided early in life that I would make a reasonable effort at doing some work. That is reason enough.

I will conclude my remarks on the motion that is before us by just reiterating that small business in this Province and in this country is big business, if we look at it as a segment and if we give it the right emphasis. I would submit that it is the responsibility of this government and all governments to be user-friendly towards business. It is the responsibility of this government to promote attitudes among our young people, because nothing will be accomplished in attitudinal change unless we start at the grass roots level. It does apply to business, it applies to the environment, it applies to attitudes that cover a multiplicity of subjects that we could discuss. If we start at the right spot, which is in the classroom with our kids, and develop in their minds mind-sets and concepts and interests in the environment, entrepreneurship and all of these things, then we will reap rewards in the next generation.

We are not here to ensure that we get a living for ourselves. Most of us have or are substantially on the way to securing whatever is left of our future. But our young people are our primary concern, our young people are our greatest resource. I think our young people by definition are our greatest responsibility and the greatest concern that we have.

Mr. Speaker, I would submit that the supporting of the small business sector will go a long way to solving the unemployment problem, or rather, the employment problem, in the future. I think it will go a long way to seeing that we are a prosperous, we are a proud, we are productive and we are a self-sufficient, in and of our own right, with the resources that we have on hand and before us in our own Province, and I think that we will be a better people if we are a more optimistic people, and a people who encourage entrepreneurship.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your time, and I would defer to my -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The member has concluded debate on the bill, which I take it has not been amended. I would therefore put the vote.

All those in favour of Motion No. 5 on the Order Paper, please signify their assent by saying 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Contra-minded?

I declare the motion carried.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, could I ask permission of the House to revert back to Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees?

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


MR. SPEAKER: Leave given.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present the Annual Report for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, year ending 1992.

Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before Your Honour adjourns the House, this being one of the days when I don't think one needs a motion to adjourn at 5:00 p.m.; I think it happens automatically -


MR. ROBERTS: Perhaps I could indicate to the House, and anybody else who may be listening, that tomorrow, when we come to Orders of the Day, the government will ask Your Honour to deal first with the Standing Order 50 motion that stands in my name. That, in my understanding, is neither amendable nor debatable. If it carries, we will then ask the House to address the bill to which the motion refers; that is the privatization bill.

My understanding of the rules, assuming the motion is carried, is that the debate will end not later than 1:00 on Friday morning. I would ask Your Honour if you could ensure that the staff of the House are made aware of this so that they are here. I apologize to any who may be inconvenienced by a late evening. We shall not keep the House here, although we shall take our part in debate tomorrow, no doubt, but the House will adjourn not later than 1:00 on Friday morning, assuming the motion carries, with the putting of the question. That should deal with second reading.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, we are six minutes early, I will move the adjournment of the House, if that's in order.

MR. SPEAKER: I think, pursuant to the rules, we adjourn now automatically until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Well there's another Private Member's motion you could call, if you want to.

MR. SPEAKER: It is in the hands of the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: No, call it 5:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: I call it 5:00 p.m.

The House now stands adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.