March 18, 1994              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 15

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's Budget Speech the Minister of Finance changed his tone a little bit, I noticed. We are still probing through the documents themselves. There seemed to be a little less doom and gloom in his words, but when you look through the document itself you will see there was as much doom and gloom as ever in the figures contained in the attached documents. I want the minister if he will to confirm that personal incomes will decline again this year, disposable incomes will decline again this year, retails sales will decline again this year, that the labour force will continue to shrink, and that unemployment will stay above 20 per cent. Will he confirm those?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member is right in the first part of his comment that there is some hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel at this point in time. We can see where we will very quickly have a balanced current account and we will have greater flexibility in the future to add to our needs and provide better service for people. He is right there; there is hope in this Budget.

In our projections in real terms there will be these declines, as the member mentions. They are spelled out quite clearly in the Budget. This is the basis on which we are projecting. We are being, we feel, realistic in light of what has been happening. If at the same time there is a greater level of recovery then we will be very happy with that as well. If at the same time the improvement in the economy of the United States spills over into Canada even more so than is currently projected we will be very happy with that because it will mean more revenues for us. If at the same time during this next year the efforts at economic development start paying off and we start seeing the fruits of that particular effort this year, then we will be very happy with that. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, we have to steer a very careful and prudent course for this Province.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I suggest to the minister that the light at the end of the tunnel he refers to will soon be gone once they get rid of Hydro. I suspect that is probably the worst thing that we can look forward to in the coming year.

Mr. Speaker, the downward spiral in our economy will really only end when there are jobs for people in this Province, when people are working and earning wages, and able to pay taxes, and when they have money to spend in the economy.

I want to ask the minister: When does he expect the unemployed people in this Province to be able to work again? When does he expect those who have jobs and are employed would have to stop worrying about their jobs futures? When will the desperation end among people in this Province, particularly the thousands of young people, college graduates, who have to leave this Province every single day?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Leader of the Opposition agrees with our long-term approach in that we must strive for more diversification in our economy, and that is the general thrust of this particular Budget.

I say to the hon. member that the hope is there, and the hope is that these things he is talking about will, in fact, happen, and they will happen first of all when we solve the problems created by members opposite over the seventeen years that they were in office.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: When we finish paying for commitments that these hon. members made, that they never ever provided funding for, when we start handling these commitments, when we reach the point where we are paying our own way, then this will pay off in spades. There will be dividends for people in this Province; there will be more work; there will be a turnaround in this economy, and I can see that happening fairly quickly.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, he has been saying that now for six Budgets in a row. This is their sixth Budget and nothing has changed - not a darn thing.

For the fourth year in a row, I say to the Minister of Finance, public sector employees now face a possible wage freeze, possible lay-offs, cuts in benefits. We don't know what they face at this stage, and there is a lot of uncertainty out there.

If you read government's own economic review, the document entitled The Economy, page 11 and page 70, the chart at the back of the document, that will tell you that in fact ongoing restraint and uncertainty in our economy, particularly in the public sector itself, is really a major factor in depressing consumer spending in this Province. They say that themselves, and they tell us that themselves, and that is having a big effect on jobs in the private sector, so I want to ask the minister: When does he expect this uncertainty to end? Can he tell public employees in this Province, for example, that this will be the last year of restraint, the last year of cutbacks, the last year of lay-offs? Can he give them some reason for hope and optimism in the immediate future?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The description of the economy as set out in that document is reality. This is the reality that we face, and have been facing for some time. As have all provinces in Canada, we have been in quite serious circumstances over the last four or five years, but this Province stands alone in best handling the situation. And we have been harder hit than other provinces, Mr. Speaker, in the sense that part of our fishery has disappeared, which has been an additional blow to us. But we, alone, of all the provinces in Canada, have for the last four years, been dealing with the problem, and dealing with it in a way that will cause the least harm to the people of this Province.

We are at a period of time, Mr. Speaker, when commitments in the past have been made with a view to somebody some time in the future paying for it. Irresponsible commitments were made, Mr. Speaker, by previous governments, with a view that some time in the future, somebody will pay for it; but, Mr. Speaker, we have been paying for it for the past three or four years and the hope is - we can see the point in time now, when that will be over with, when there will be economic growth in this Province and when we have our spending under control, Mr. Speaker, that's where the hope is in this Budget.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, government talks endlessly about the private sector being the engine of the economy, about stimulating growth through the private sector, but, Mr. Speaker, I say the government is all talk and no action in that regard. There is nothing in this Budget to do anything to stimulate small business; there is a small benefit there in lowering corporate income tax, a slight benefit for those companies that are lucky enough to make a little bit of profit.

Let me ask the minister, why didn't he do something with the payroll tax which would have helped all businesses in this Province and not just a few that make a profit?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we are, in a variety of ways, trying to create a better climate in this Province for businesses to operate and survive, make profits, create jobs and try to pull us out of this morass that we have been in for decades, Mr. Speaker. That's what we are trying to do, however, I say to hon. members that in the interim, services that we provide must be paid for; these services must be paid for. We are at the point where we can no longer make the commitments today and not provide the funding for it. The services we provide must be paid for, therefore, revenue has to be raised.

I was very interested in listening to the comments of some of the members opposite, suggestions that we should eliminate the payroll tax, we should put more money in here, more money in there. Obviously, Mr. Speaker, their approach would be to borrow, borrow, borrow, go further in debt, for short-term political gain today and the ruination of the Province in the future - that is their approach.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, our approach would be to create jobs and stimulate the economy by eliminating the $73 million payroll tax, which is a direct disincentive to businesses in this Province, Mr. Speaker. It is a tax on jobs, it bears no relationship to whether or not a company is making profit. It is simply the bottom line under payroll, Mr. Speaker. It takes $73 million out of the pockets of the private sector. It is a direct disincentive to do business in this Province. When is the minister going to start unravelling the damage that he has done to the economy by putting this tax in place four years ago?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, every single tax that we collect is in some sense a disincentive to spending money simply because we are collecting that tax, and therefore, it is not disposable income for the people or the businesses of the Province - that is true. I say to hon. members, though, that if we are expected to provide a first-class health care system and education system, if we are expected to provide services for people in need, the social services programs and so on, then we must get money from somewhere, and that is a lesson the previous government never did learn. They thought it was spend, spend, spend, and to heck with the money coming in. Well, Mr. Speaker, those days are over. We have a responsible government in this Province and we will continue to have this responsible government for the next decade.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: I say to the minister that his Budget yesterday provides $1 million in tax breaks to large corporations that are fortunate enough to make a profit. That is spread over all the companies that are making a profit in the Province. He has done nothing for all of those small companies that are not making a profit but yet he is going to provide $40 to $50 million in tax incentives to New Hydro and Newfoundland Light and Power under his silly Hydro privatization thing and, in addition to that, there will be some tens of millions of dollars it will cost in higher electricity charges to consumers. There is the $40 million, $50 million, or $60 million he could be putting into eliminating the payroll tax and put away this silly privatization. Why does the minister not use those tax dollars to eliminate the payroll tax? He has the means - let us see some action.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we are providing incentives for new business to come to this Province, to open up, and to create jobs for our people. We are providing incentives for the existing businesses to expand and do the same thing. In the fall, Mr. Speaker, you will see a bill introduced into this House that will deal with this issue much more effectively than a Budget does.

I say to members opposite that some of their comments in terms of Newfoundland Hydro and so on indicate their true feeling about this, Mr. Speaker. They are proposing that perhaps the Grand Falls mill should never have been built, that the railway should never have been built, that the Corner Brook mill should never have been built, they're proposing all of these things, Mr. Speaker. It is rather a ludicrous argument. There is nothing in this Budget that indicates any giveaways that the gentlemen are talking about. I say to hon. members again that if we are to provide the services, then we must collect the money to pay for those services. We can no longer assume that someone in the future will pay for it. This is the future, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. The post-secondary students of the Province and, indeed, their parents, and the students who are about to enter post-secondary schools, were saddened and shocked to learn that the government has decided to eliminate the provincial grant portion of the student aid program. Is the minister not aware of the significant disincentive this measure will mean to those considering a post-secondary education and is he not aware that the government's actions will mean that post-secondary education is now a false dream for many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of any of these things. We have been told for years - and this has generally been a complaint about the student loan program - that it did not provide enough money for students to pay their real costs. We have been told that too much is expected of low and middle income parents in providing assistance for students and therefore, the amounts credited to parents' support should be reduced - we have been told all these things; that we must provide more money for the students going to University. Now, Mr. Speaker, the only way we could do that is to move from a grant to a loan system that would provide more money for students. At the point where these students graduate then, depending on need, there could be forgiveness of a certain portion of that loan but, Mr. Speaker, it allows more money, in cases of need, to be available to the students so they can complete their education. Then, when they graduate, if they get a $60,000 or $70,000-a-year job, they have to pay the loan back, that's only right, that's only fair. But if, on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, they have needs at that point, then they get a remission of the portion of the loan. This is the only way that we could increase the amount of money available to students. This is the only way. Our choices were to provide more money through grants to fewer students, and thus cut back on the opportunities, or to actually broaden it and provide more money for more students with remissions in cases of need. Surely the hon. gentleman understands that this is a very fair way to do it and it is the best way to provide the money that students need while they are going to University.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm having trouble hearing both -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I had trouble hearing the question of the hon. member and then I had trouble hearing the reply of the hon. minister. Perhaps if we could keep conscious of that.

I recognize the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the Province has taken more than $10 million from the funds that have helped make accessibility to a higher education more equitable for those who need assistance. To that extent we are really balancing a budget on the backs of our youth. I say to the minister that his government actions are regressive, they are contrary to the principles that we espouse, assuring fairness and equal opportunity in education, and will result in a 50 per cent to 75 per cent increase in the cost of a post-secondary education. Students will graduate now with up to $22,000 in loans before they will get any help at all. With the job market out there this is very discouraging.

Many students now say to us that they really can't consider going to University or post-secondary because the possibility of getting a job at the end is so great, if they are now going to face $22,000 of loans at the end of their program. Will the minister not consider being a facilitator of post-secondary education rather than putting up barriers and obstacles?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I should point out that we are very concerned about the debt level that students incur. We are very concerned about that. The debt level that students incur should not be more than is absolutely necessary. In other words, obviously they should not borrow more money than is absolutely necessary for their education. We are very concerned about that and we will work with the students in that regard. There is no doubt about it.

The hon. gentleman, I believe, is exhibiting the same short-term attitude that his colleagues exhibited in the seventeen years they were in office. In actual fact, the commitment that we are making - we are paying the interest on the loans while the students go to University, and we are making the commitment of remission at the end that may in fact be greater than the amount of money we are now putting in. This is probably an expansion in terms of a commitment of money that government is putting into the students in this Province.

I would also like to point out that the taxpayers of this Province already pay 85 per cent of the cost of University education for students in this Province. We already pay that. I think it is proper that attention be drawn, as the hon. gentleman did, to the debt level of students. That students should look upon student loans as loans and that they judge themselves accordingly and not borrow any more than necessary. The minister, the Department of Education, are willing to work with the students in this regard. We are making available more money to students because that is the cry we've heard for years, making available more money in the only way that we can, and making the commitment in hardship cases and so on to do a remission at graduation.

Mr. Speaker, even gentlemen opposite are surely not suggesting that if the students upon graduation get the type of job where they are perfectly capable of paying back whatever it happens to be they build up, that they should in fact not pay it back. Surely they are not suggesting that.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the real inconvenience here is to those able-bodied students, particularly those from rural Newfoundland, or those of us who came from rural Newfoundland to go to University. We know from experience the difference in the expense that one incurs if one is from the St. John's region or if one is from rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, the plain truth is that this action I'm afraid will mean that our colleges and universities will become more elitist and that it will have the effect of denying opportunity to many, many students, and the Budget will place a severe hardship. It will mean a loss of hope, and that is a sad commentary.

I ask the minister: Would he reconsider his approach, and consult with the various councils of student unions before he implements his cost-cutting strategies?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, we will not reconsider putting more money into the students of this Province. No, we will not reconsider that.

I would like to also point out to members opposite, and to anybody else who cares to listen, that we are the ones that are expanding university courses all throughout this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: And the party opposite are the ones who argued vehemently against any expansion outside of St. John's, and that everything had to be concentrated in St. John's, two elections ago, Mr. Speaker. They are the ones who argued for that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health.

Our health care system has seen an ever increasing waiting line for surgeries of all types, and yet the minister has stated, in the Budget yesterday, that fifty acute care beds are going to close in this Province. It does not seem to be a very rational way to reduce waiting lists for surgeries.

I ask the minister: are those fifty bed closures going to be concentrated in one or two hospitals, or spread proportionately throughout the Province?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All that preamble was sort of strange there, weird. The whole question about the increasing waiting lists for all types of surgery, this is nonsense. What is happening in the Province is that we are moving into outpatient surgery, day surgery, and things of that nature, not keeping people in hospital beds for weeks and months.

There is a new mode going on in health care, and what the hon. member should realize is that this new method of providing health care should drag him out of the nineteenth century, or the seventeenth century, wherever he came from. So he should look at, before asking questions, the new method of health care.

Now these beds that may very well be closed are in a number of institutions.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Budget states that the school of nursing diploma programs in St. John's will be consolidated. Now will the minister tell this House which schools of nursing in the city will be eliminated, when will this consolidation take place, and how many jobs will be lost?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have a serious problem in the Province. We have five institutions which turn out nurses, and many nurses cannot obtain employment in this Province. We are way over the number... We are turning out many more than are required in the Province, and quite a number are unemployed - just as a few years ago we turned out too many people in other professions - so we don't really need four schools of nursing in St. John's, three hospital schools and the university school. So what we have been working on for quite some time now is a program by which the schools might come together, and where all the government has decided is to move up the schedule and to bring this into account pretty soon.

We haven't decided yet just which schools would close, or what the arrangements will be, but it will be done quite soon.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At the rate you are going, closing hospital beds, I guess there will be no need for nurses, or very few, in the future.

Now many students have already applied and are on waiting lists for some time. I am sure the minister is aware of the last minute attempt last year to close first year nursing in Corner Brook. I ask the minister, and the minister should know, what the reduction in numbers entering the school of nursing is going to be, and I ask him, when will the students be notified of these changes?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Again, the member starts off his question with an incorrect assumption. What is happening in hospitals is that the level of acuity of care has gone up, because we are discharging people earlier. As home care has developed in the various communities in the Province, it is easier to discharge people earlier from a very expensive hospital bed to the very much less expensive home care bed. And, with the new techniques in medicine and surgery, it is possible to discharge people earlier, which means, that while patients are in hospital, they are usually quite sick, whereas years ago, people would stay in hospital for quite a long period of time and the level of care would not be as strong.


DR. KITCHEN: Now, just pay attention, and stop this silly giggling over there; you are like a crowd of little school girls and school boys.

What has happened is that in the acute care hospitals, there is a heavy concentration of nurses, and there has to be a heavy concentration of nurses, but we don't need as many as we used to need; but perhaps we will need more in the future. We are anticipating fewer nurses in the future.

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

MR. HARRIS: My question for the Minister of Finance concerns the grants to post-secondary students.

Mr. Speaker, the amount for the grants to student aid in this year's Budget is $10 million less than last year, approximately, but will the minister acknowledge that in reality, what he has done is, he has taken $15 million in grants to post-secondary students which was in the Budget last year, and taken $15 million per year out of the pockets of students in the form of grants. Would the minister acknowledge that that is actually $15 million on an annual basis that is coming out of the pockets of students in the form of grants and being turned into loans?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, we are not taking any money out of the hands of students. We are providing the students with the possibility of having more money in cases where that money is needed to provide an education, Mr. Speaker. We are providing an opportunity for students to have access to more money, I repeat for the Member for St. John's East, to have more money to further their university education. In terms of our commitment, the money in the Budget this year is to pay the interest on these loans and there is a further commitment down the road, that in hardship cases, where people find it impossible to pay back their loans, then there will be a remission, so our commitment is in two segments and I would say to the hon. gentleman, that our commitment next year, in this coming year, is probably far greater than in any previous year.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, the minister is not prepared to admit that beneath all the smooth talk, there is, in fact, a $15-million reduction in grants to students.

Will the minister also acknowledge that he has now changed his tune? Yesterday, there appeared to be an automatic remission upon successful completion of university. Now he is talking about some, vague, possible remission in hardship cases or when they are impossible to repay. Will students, Mr. Speaker, have to be on the verge of bankruptcy after graduation before the government might possibly consider some remission for some students? Is that the minister's plan?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there has been no change in position. What I said - and I will repeat it again in case the hon. gentleman didn't hear it previously - was that, in cases where a student graduates from university and has a debt-load and if they are fortunate enough to obtain employment in, let's say one of the professions that would provide them with, $50,000, $60,000 or $40,000 a year, or whatever, starting, then certainly, they have an obligation, they will have an obligation to pay back the money that it cost them for their university education. Surely, the hon. gentleman is not suggesting that regardless of circumstances we can throw taxpayers' money around. Surely, that's not what he is suggesting, Mr. Speaker.

In cases of hardship, certainly, there will be remissions, there is no doubt about that; we have made that commitment. But is the hon. gentleman suggesting that we just simply throw taxpayers' money around like that, and, regardless of the circumstances, throw money at it? Is that what he is suggesting?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is interesting that the minister would call grants to students throwing money around, which the government has been providing as part of its student aid plan for many years. When is the minister really going to commit to students as to what this program for remission is going to be? Are we going to have to wait until four or five years when people come begging to the government because they can't repay the loans, is that when we're going to know and students are going to know what the hardship cases are that the government considers worthy of remission?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we don't claim to have a crystal ball. If a student this year starts University and, let's say, goes into med-school, we have no concept of, four, five or six years down the road, exactly what type of a job that person is going to have, whether he is going to have a job or how much it is going to pay. Anybody who goes to University, we have no crystal ball to say that in each of these individual cases now we know what their financial circumstances are going to be like three, four and five years down the road, we can't do that. We don't have such a crystal ball. So, Mr. Speaker, we cannot say that automatically there's going to be a complete remission. We can't say that, because if the circumstances are such that the person can afford to pay for that portion of his education, then certainly, he should pay. Those are the ones who have benefited from the $100-and some odd million a year that it costs us to run Memorial University and provide that education. So, Mr. Speaker, we cannot talk about automatic remission. We can't predict right now exactly what the financial circumstance of every student is going to be three, four or five years down the road. I say to the hon. gentleman that in cases of need - and that's what we must do, we must provide for the need - in cases of need, there will be remission.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in the event members have a little spare time this weekend I am tabling, as required by the Statutes And Subordinates Legislation Act, the regulations that have been gazetted since last the House met. There is only one copy here but I would assure Your Honour, or any member who wishes them, we would be delighted to have a copy provided to him or her.

PREMIER WELLS: Did we do that?

MR. ROBERTS: We did that, sir, yes. You see why we need regulatory reform in case there is any question?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to Section 148 of the Labour Relations Act I table the annual report of the proceedings of the Labour Relations Board for the calendar year 1993.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present the report of the Review Committee on the Provincial Public Libraries.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I should explain for hon. members that this is marked the public version and the reason for that is, in the original version there were some people named and it would be an embarrassment to some employees of the Libraries Board if we were to table their names. I discussed this with the hon. Member for Humber East and we have since had some minor changes made. We sent it up to Justice to make sure that we are not doing anything which in any way will have any legal implications for any individuals. That is the only reason why it is marked, not public, and I can guarantee hon. members there is no cover-up.


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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition signed by 1011 people in the district of Grand Falls and representing individuals from other areas surrounding Grand Falls - Windsor-Buchans, Exploits, and so on. The prayer of the petition is related to the Hydro issue. It is as a result of the public meeting that I held last week which the Premier ridiculed on Province-wide television because of the attendance, not realizing, I am sure, at the time that the meeting itself was an hour and half late in starting as a result of my being involved in an automobile accident, among other things, that same evening. At least when I did get there an hour and a half later there were forty or fifty people still there. Out of that meeting a couple of people, after they saw the Premier on television when he played it down and said, well, obviously, there is no opposition to this, they went our over the course of the next three days or so and collected 1011 names from the District of Grand Falls, 90 per cent from the District of Grand Falls, who do oppose it.

Mr. Speaker, the prayer of the petition is simply as follows. It is addressed to the House of Assembly. The petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop immediately the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro and hold a referendum to ask the people of the Province their views as to whether Newfoundland Hydro should be privatized or remain as a Crown corporation. As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I do not need to go into a lot of reasons for this but I can tell the House the reasons are similar to all those reasons that have been articulated by thousands of people around this Province over the last number of weeks, including recent communication from the town council of Grand Falls-Windsor, which by now the Premier might have received. I have a copy of the FAX, I think it was yesterday, who have asked government to hold public hearings around the Province. The City of St. John's, I understand, did something similar on Monday night past, asked for public hearings around the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot for the life of me understand why the Premier and the government will not acknowledge the fact that there are thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who do not like this idea of privatization. They simply do not like it, yet every time you put it to the Premier or other ministers over there they always downplay it, oh, no, there is not very much opposition. Well, Mr. Speaker, they have to be deaf, blind, dumb, and everything, not to recognize that there is very vociferous opposition to this privatization of Hydro issue.

Mr. Speaker, there are those who will argue back and forth the complexities and the details of this legislation. Of course, we only had the legislation presented to us I think it was a week Friday. Within two or three days - three days, I think it was - the government introduced closure on second reading. That has brought another storm of anger and protest from people around the Province. You will notice the government over the last few days has been treading a little more lightly. I guess they are changing their strategy somewhat, but we will have to wait and see what their strategy is for the coming week.

That will be the most interesting strategy of all. When you consider the government also wants interim supply or will require interim supply sometime, probably in the next week or so. It depends on the government's attitude and its approach and if it is interested in cooperating and all the rest of it. Then it may be able to work itself out, as long as it they are not intent and hell-bent and determined on ramming the legislation through.

If they are prepared to give the House the freedom, the opportunity and the right to debate this clause by clause in detail, which they should have, and they should be able to take weeks if they wish on it. There is no reason why they should not be able to have weeks. We've had legislation much less -

PREMIER WELLS: One clause in fourteen hours.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, one clause in fourteen hours, including a night sitting that you added yourself. Mr. Speaker, we are on clause 2 or 3. You weren't even here for four to five days so you don't know other than what somebody told you.

That is their little game. Fourteen hours, one clause. We've had legislation in this House of Assembly that has been debated clause by clause for three and four weeks at a time. Much less important probably than this particular piece of legislation.

MS. VERGE: Most important since Confederation.

MR. SIMMS: So, Mr. Speaker - yes. Using the minister's own words, the most important since Confederation.

We shall see what their strategy is, if they are going to be willing to let members of the House discuss and debate this bill, this clause by clause review. If they are going to try to ram through -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. SIMMS: - clause by clause in third reading we will see, but, Mr. Speaker, there are at least 1,011 -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - petitioners in Grand Falls who would like to see the government back off on this privatization issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I stand to support the petition put forth by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, the Member for Grand Falls.

This is not just restricted to the town of Grand Falls- Windsor, let me say to members of this Legislature. This concern has been raised from one end of this Province to the other. People are requesting that government withdraw from this privatization act and not only that, they are also requesting that all members of the Legislature go back to their constituents and hold public hearings.

This is not the only petition that has been read in this House, and it is only one-fifth as large as the petitions that are supposed to be presented in this House. While there are 1,000 people from Grand Falls who signed that petition, and it is significant, the Member for Grand Falls brought it to the Legislature to present it, and I'm waiting, Mr. Speaker, for the Premier to present the 5,000 name petition he got from Corner Brook.

MS. VERGE: Five thousand five hundred.

MR. TOBIN: Five thousand five hundred. Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition stood in this Legislature a few moments ago and presented a petition on behalf of 1,000 people from Grand Falls who asked him to do so. I'm waiting for the Premier to present his petition, and I look forward to speaking.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't have (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: It is in your office in Corner Brook. You should go out and visit every now and then.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: You know what he is doing? He is still phoning everybody (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He hasn't got through the list.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has the floor.


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, all I know, I would say to the Premier, is that I heard radio reports, I should say, that the people of Corner Brook signed a petition, 5,500, and they delivered it to the Premier's staff asking the Premier to present it in the House. I didn't say the Premier had it, Mr. Speaker, I said I was looking forward to the Premier presenting it in the House. I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier, once he gets the petition, will present it in the House and I hope that -

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Oh, Mr. Speaker. What they want to say, Mr. Speaker, about the Member for St. John's South - they can say it. I'm not getting involved in that, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I support the petition presented by the Member for Grand Falls, Leader of the Opposition and I believe, Mr. Speaker -

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the Member for St. John's South is getting upset; no one ever said anything to the Member for St. John's South. Is he embarrassed, Mr. Speaker, because he won't have public hearings in his district when the people of St. John's are asking him? Is he embarrassed that the City of St. John's have called upon their members to have public hearings? Is that causing him some embarrassment? Mr. Speaker, why is the Member for St. John's South telling me to stay tuned in to the radio? Why is he so specific about a radio, Mr. Speaker? Why has it got to be the radio? Why can't it be in the newspapers they advertise in or on television? Why does he have to say listen to the radio? Mr. Speaker, all I'm saying to the Member for St. John's South is that the city council in St. John's, the council in Grand Falls- Windsor and other councils throughout the Province are calling upon members to have public hearings. Yes, Mr. Speaker, and they're having them. As a matter of fact there is going to be one in my district next week.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I beg leave to present a petition signed by some eighty-seven residents of Mount Pearl and Waterford - Kenmount. These names were collected at a meeting we held in Mount Pearl last Tuesday night for constituents of the districts of Mount Pearl and Waterford - Kenmount. My colleague and I spent a very interesting evening there talking to these - well, there's about eighty-seven names on here but there were well over 100 people who went through during the course of the evening but about eighty-seven of them were left at the end of the meeting and signed the petition.

Mr. Speaker, the prayer of the petition says: WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop immediately the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro and hold a referendum to ask the people of the Province their views as to whether Newfoundland Hydro should be privatized or remain a Crown corporation.

Mr. Speaker, once again, the prayer of the petition is calling for a referendum. Something that became very, very clear, Mr. Speaker, in our meeting last Tuesday night was a very sincere concern by all of the people there that they didn't have all the information they wanted. They were most interested in the facts that we presented to them and I say to hon. members that we presented all of the facts, arguments made by hon. gentlemen opposite as well as our own points of view. I challenge anybody to say otherwise because we were extremely fair in our presentation of all of the facts and the facts speak for themselves. All you have to do is read the documents, read the sections of the act.

MR. GRIMES: What about the 29,000 people who didn't show up?

MR. WINDSOR: I beg your pardon?

MR. GRIMES: What about the 29,000 people who didn't show up? How concerned were they?

MR. WINDSOR: 29,000 people that didn't show up. What is the member trying to talk about, Mr. Speaker? There were lots of people that showed up. If you people want several hundred names from the district of Exploits, I got them right here. No problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: They're complaining, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for Exploits doesn't listen to them, won't go out and meet with them, won't hold a public meeting. So maybe he should stop worrying about the people in Mount Pearl and worry about the people who elected him, let him get his act together. What the people are saying, Mr. Speaker, in Mount Pearl, Waterford - Kenmount, Exploits and all across this Province is that they no longer trust this government. That's the real issue that's coming forward here, they no longer trust this government and that's quite a change.

If this same issue came up last year, a lot of Newfoundlanders would say: Well, what else can they do? I guess they are doing the right thing. They know better than we do. This is a complicated thing and I don't really understand it, but if the Premier thinks it's good, and the ministers think it's good, well I guess probably it's in the best interest of the Province.

They are not saying it any more, I say to the Premier, and I am glad he is listening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: No they will not, I say to the Premier. The only one he is fooling is himself. The people will not, because they no longer trust the Premier; but I say to the Premier, if he is so confident that they will, give them the opportunity to hear all of the facts. Have some public meetings, and then have a referendum and give them an opportunity to say that they believe him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: If the Premier is so sure that this is a good deal, that it's in the best interest of the Province, let's not hide behind it. Let's get out front and be honest with the people, and give the people the opportunity.

How can the Premier and the government of the Province, elected by the people - and it's time that this government realized that they were elected by the people, to govern for the people, and yes they have a mandate to govern, but that mandate also gives them the responsibility to listen to the people, and that is where they are failing. That is where this government is failing. They have stopped listening to the people, and that is a sure sign of a government that is heading for certain death.

How can a government come to the House of Assembly and force through legislation, using all the parliamentary tactics available to them, knowing that hundreds of thousands of Newfoundlanders are adamantly opposed to this legislation?

Mr. Speaker, the government may think they are right. They may, indeed. Let's assume that perhaps they are somewhat right, that it is a reasonable thing to do, but I say to the government, the people don't want to do it, and the people are the shareholders of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but they are being denied a vote. That is quite different than what will happen when new Hydro is in place. There will be shareholders - shareholders all around the world - but they will have voting shares. They will have an opportunity to vote. This government is denying the shareholders of Hydro a vote on whether or not they want their assets sold.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to support the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for the District of Mount Pearl, and to support the comments that he has been making on behalf of the constituents in our districts, and particularly on behalf of the members who attended the public forum on Tuesday evening, and who signed the petition.

The tone of the meeting that we had was very clear, that people wanted to have more information. The member and I presented the information that we had, and the questions that we had from the people who attended pointed out the fact that people want to have all of the information.

The Member for Mount Pearl noted that citizens have real concerns, that they have real questions. They feel that the government has not done a very good job of communicating the issue, the positive aspects, and people stood in their place and said that they doubted if the government had these positive things to say, that they should have said them by this time.

Mr. Speaker, these are ordinary citizens who participate in the elections on a regular basis. They had a variety of questions, some financial, some dealing with the operations, some dealing with the ways in which the shares would be sold, and some dealing with the personnel concerns of job losses. Some Hydro employees were there, they have the real issues that deal with their future employment and, Mr. Speaker, frankly, what came through the meeting as well, was a significant distrust of the government. People were saying, if this issue was so great, and they believe it is, then why have we not had a defined public forum? Why have we not had an opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes? The issue was much debated; the government's actions in handling it were criticized. The people who spoke were very concerned that something was happening in their Province; those citizens who are voters and whose families have lived here for generations, were concerned that something was happening and that all of the information they needed was not being communicated.

I say to the government in all sincerity, that when you listen to the various forums that people have, the Open Line shows, you read the commentary in the Letters to the Editor of all the newspapers in the Province, you listen to the petitions that have been presented on behalf of the residents of the Province, I can only come to one conclusion and that is, that people are saying loudly, that they want more information, they want this process to be slowed down a little so that they can be active participants. That is not to say that all people are saying this is a bad deal, what they are saying is, give them a forum, give them an opportunity to participate and at the end of the day, maybe a referendum is necessary. Some people think it is, but I think, a proper discussion with the public would bring out the issues and at that point in time, we could decide whether or not we will go with some kind of referendum. People want more information and I think it is incumbent upon the government to give them all the information that is appropriate.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl, I would like to say a few words on the petition, but I just want to remind hon. members that forty-two hours in this House of Assembly have been consumed, and hon. members opposite talk about -

MR. ROBERTS: Six weeks.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that too much?

MR. MURPHY: The House Leader says it correctly and the Member for Mount Pearl knows how the structure of this House works as well as anybody, he has been here long enough, and says six full weeks and, Mr. Speaker, to this day, we have had seventeen hours on second reading and all the hon. members opposite have done is give the title of the bill.

Now, if they are so concerned about representing the people of the Province, then let us get into the bill, itself, and debate it clause-by-clause. That's what this House of Assembly does. The government brings in a bill and hon. members sit down and debate the issues of the bill. But it is incredible, what Opposition members have done to the Hydro bill. Let's debate it.

Now, for their information, let me inform them through the House, that there will be a meeting in St. John's South next Wednesday night for the constituents of St. John's South and the constituents of St. John's West, a dual meeting, and we will give opportunity, both the minister and I, to constituents in my district and constituents in his district and also any elected representative on behalf of those constituents, so that councillors -


MR. MURPHY: I say to the hon. member, the best thing for him to do is to concentrate on where he is going to run the next time. He has four years and he needs every minute of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No. The member has nothing to do with St. John's South nor will he, so I tell him, no, if he wants -


MR. MURPHY: That's fine, let him come. I say to the Member for Grand Bank, you can come down and run down there.


AN HON. MEMBER: CBC is (inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I'm glad you brought up CBC, because CBC is 3 per cent of the national debt - another Crown corporation that if I had my way would be privatized this afternoon. I can guarantee you that right now. For what public service they are doing, they should be privatized in the next half-hour.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who, who?

MR. MURPHY: CBC. I'm not afraid to say who. CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, that's who, I say to hon. members. Who! You are like a bunch of owls over there - who, who! If you are not like howling dogs you are like owls - who, who! I say to the hon. member.

Mr. Speaker, enough is enough. Let the hon. members debate the bill on behalf of the people of this Province, cut out their foolishness, cut out their nonsense, do what they were sent here to do, and I say to the hon. member for wherever in the next four years, he looks after his district now -


MR. MURPHY: Good. Hallelujah, hallelujah. You go to the people in St. John's South and see what this member has done for them in the last five years - a lot more than you fellows have done.

MR. TOBIN: Andy Wells is going to run against you.

MR. MURPHY: Andy Wells? Andy Wells.

MR. SIMMS: We will see (inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I say to the Leader of the Opposition, Andy Wells is more than welcome to run in St. John's South. I welcome the challenge.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) take him on.

MR. MURPHY: I have no problem with Andy Wells, no problem at all with him. Let him come.

MR. SIMMS: Would you beat him?

MR. MURPHY: I would whip him -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MURPHY: - no doubt about it, whip him! But I say to the Leader of the Opposition, time, and only time, will tell. I welcome any hon. member opposite to run in St. John's South. Come, I challenge you, come down with your silly buttons and run. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there are no further petitions, I gather, at this stage, so let's go into the second stage of this morning's debate on the Hydro bill by resolving the House into Committee of the Whole on Order No. 3, Mr. Speaker.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (Snow): Order, please!

Bill No. 1, clause 2.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I want to have a few words on clause 2. I guess we all have a few words and we are going to take a serious look. This caucus is going to take a serious look at clause 2. It may be necessary to make some changes to that, because we have real problems with this government dealing with a clause that is prepared to give away the land and the property.

That is the reason, Mr. Chairman - the water rights. That is the reason there is such an outcry by people in this Province requesting public hearings, because of clause 2 to some extent. That is the reason why there are people being challenged to have a public debate in this city. That is the reason why there is a letter from the City of St. John's gone to the Member for St. John's South.

AN HON. MEMBER: Saying what?

MR. TOBIN: Saying: Some of your constituents have called me to complain about your support for government's privatization of Hydro. They do not believe that you are acting in their best interest. You apparently have told them that they don't understand the Hydro deal. I am hereby challenging you to a public debate on the Hydro privatization issue, to be held as soon as possible at St. John Bosco or some other available location in Shea Heights. If you think you are correct, show some courage and debate the issue publicly in front of your constituents.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MURPHY: And it's signed, `Bobo the Clown'.

MR. TOBIN: Now, Mr. Chairman, what an attack - Bobo the Clown! It is signed by the Deputy Mayor, I say to the Member for St. John's South, who challenged him to go public. This is the most deceitful -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to keep his remarks relevant to the clauses in the bill.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, what we are talking about here, and I have no problems, Your Honour, with you calling me there, but what we are saying here is that part of the privatization of Hydro, and one of the biggest parts, is the giveaway of our water rights, and that is why -

AN HON. MEMBER: What page are you on?

MR. TOBIN: Clause 2. That is why -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) strategy.

MR. TOBIN: No, the strategy here is that if you make reference to the Member for St. John's South, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations jumps in. If you say something to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the Member for St. John's South jumps in.

Mr. Chairman, this morning I listened to CBC debating the attack upon the students of this Province, and I don't know which one of them is going to jump in, and who they are going to jump in for. Well, I can tell you, it was pretty embarrassing for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

We are talking here about water rights, and we are talking about having public hearings to discuss the water rights. We are talking about challenges to members to go out and hold public hearings. We are talking about challenges being issued to members to debate the issue, and no one can get a response.

Mr. Chairman, the Member for Grand Falls goes out and has meetings, and the Member for Windsor - Buchans doesn't even return his telephone calls, I have been told. The Member for Windsor - Buchans is not returning his telephone calls on this issue.

AN HON. MEMBER: No backbone.

MR. FLIGHT: I get more calls from Grand Falls than the member does.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, the Member for Windsor - Buchans is getting calls and they are not being returned, getting calls relating to clause 2, I say to the Member for Windsor - Buchans. Get out and return your calls.

They are even - no, I won't say it, Mr. Chairman. It isn't parliamentary, what I was going to say.

MR. FLIGHT: At least I know when there is a welcoming committee and when there is not.

AN HON. MEMBER: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: They refer to you as the spruce budworm - that's how they are referring to you in your district.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: That is unparliamentary?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West to take his seat.

I understand the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes is standing on a point of order. I recognize the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. I just remind hon. members that if they stand in their place, they speak only when recognized by the Speaker or the Chair.

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

MR. FLIGHT: Who is this `Fabian Manning'?

MR. MANNING: If the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture wants to speak, I think he should be in his own chair, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: All hon. members, of course, have to be in their places in the Chamber to be recognized by the Speaker, and it is unparliamentary to interrupt any speaker if the member is not recognized.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If I could continue on this without the yapping of the Member for Windsor - Buchans. If he wants to discuss and debate clause 2, there is a forum that he is part of. He has been elected to be part of this forum for issues such as clause 2. Let him take his seat and debate it.

He is one minister that has not stood in this House and debated the bill. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has stood and debated the bill, several times. The Minister of Finance has stood and debated the bill, but there has not been a squeak - I should not say `squeak', Mr. Chairman, because he squeaks anyway, but the Member for Windsor - Buchans has not stood in his place and debated this piece of legislation, at any time, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: He has no backbone.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, if the Member for Windsor - Buchans wants to get involved in the debate, take his seat and have the courage to stand up and get involved, instead of yapping from the sidelines, Mr. Chairman, or the other hon. thing to do is to leave the Chamber.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I again remind the hon. member that he is straying from Clause 2.

MR. TOBIN: I apologize, Mr. Chairman.

What I am trying to do, Mr. Chairman, in this Clause 2 that is giving away the water rights, I am trying to get the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture to let us know his position.

MR. FLIGHT: I am totally (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Now, he gets up here and says he is against it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, can you name the hon. member?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. Opposition House Leader.

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

Mr. Chairman, I have a few words on Clause 2 of this Bill 1. I guess before I get into the contents of the Clause I say, thank God, it's Friday morning. If everyone else looks forward to getting out of here in another couple of hours as much as I do, a couple of days out of this, I think it will do us all a bit of good.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I guess, one of the most controversial clauses in this piece of legislation is Clause 2, dealing particularly with water rights and land. There has been a disagreement over what this Clause really means to all of us, this Clause 2. There have been members on this side who have said, you cannot be reading the same piece of legislation as we are, to be interpreting the clause the way we interpret it. I guess that is an item that will have to be clarified over the next few days, I hope, as to really what it all means. We are convinced that this is pretty wide-ranging. My colleague for Burin - Placentia West was about to read Clause 2 (a) what land means. He just got started when he was rudely interrupted by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and then, of course, his time ran out. I think in all fairness, to get to the root of all this, it seems from what I hear that government is pretty determined that this particular clause is not as wide-ranging as we interpret the clause to mean. I guess how we resolve that I am really not sure, because we have had people give us interpretations.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say, because the Minister of Finance, as the Member for Burin - Placentia West has said, has taken part in the debate and he, on occasion, has agreed with some of our interpretations on a number of clauses. I might say that the Minister of Finance has really been in contradiction to some of his colleagues who are saying things were different than the minister has confirmed they are. Mr. Speaker, I think it is a matter of trying to clearly interpret and define what this really means. It is obviously a big concern. If you listen to the public airwaves about the Province, read the newspapers, and talk to people on the street, the issue of water rights is certainly very contentious, and I guess that is for good reason when you look at our history and what has happened to us in the past.

People are very, very concerned that through this privatization act, and particularly through Clause 2, they are afraid we are going to give away something again that will not be in our best interest. They are concerned that we are going to be burnt again and that someone else will control our water rights, lands, real properties and all the other things, right of ways, waters, water rights, water powers and water privileges and we might not be able to get this back, ever. So that's the big concern of a majority of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians besides being very concerned about the financial implications for them and future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about the privatization of Hydro. They're very concerned about giving away land, water, easements, right of ways and privileges. They're very concerned about that because they don't want to see done again now - whenever this is dealt with - they don't want a repeat of what happened in the 1960s.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are sick and tired, Mr. Chairman, of giving things away, of losing their resources, of not having any resources left, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, that's why they're so concerned about this clause 2. As a former great defender of the people's resources, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, as a former defender of the people's resources, Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation now, is not concerned about clause 2. The Minister of Works, Services, and Transportation is not concerned that his government - of which he is a part and sits at the Cabinet Table - is about to give away, through clause 2 of Bill 1, more of the people's resources of which up to a year ago he was a great defender but since then has become very unconcerned and quiet about it, I say to the minister.

MR. EFFORD: Not true, Mr. Chairman.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What's not true?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What's not true? That the minister was a great defender?

Mr. Chairman, you'll have to call the minister to order -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - just a few minutes ago - if only he would stand in his place and participate in the debate, as he does from his seat, then perhaps he would enlighten us all and perhaps we'd clearly understand the implications of clause 2 but as I was saying before I was interrupted by the minister, this is what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are concerned about. They don't want any more giveaways, they're tired of giveaways, they don't want future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians paying the price for what this government is doing today. A very short-term measure that will possibly affect the financial position of the Province for one or two years and then after that we're back in the same old boat with a very valuable asset gone, I say to the minister. Now that's what this is all about, Mr. Chairman, and that's why we have concerns about clause 2, when it deals with lands and real properties and so on.

So I look forward to someone opposite now, when I sit down, particularly the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture who's talked more than the two members who've been recognized - has talked more from his seat than those of us who got up - I look forward now to him getting up and explaining to me why we are so wrong on clause 2. Would he stand in his place now and explain for us as a man who's sat at the Cabinet Table and approved their legislation, would he stand in his place and tell me why we're so wrong and the people of the Province are so wrong about their concerns about clause 2, Mr. Chairman?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's a pleasure to see the members opposite participating in the clause by clause debate here in the Committee of the Whole. I would suggest - and maybe members opposite can let me know if I'm in error in this assumption - that out of clause 2, which is significant and it is one of the ones that there has been some confusion expressed about publicly, I acknowledge that, but I think all members opposite would agree with me that the only part of clause 2 that there's any disagreement over, in this Chamber and publicly, is Section 2.1 (a) which is the definition of land. I don't think there's any disagreement over what new Hydro means or what old Hydro means, who the minister is, what reorganization means, what the date is or the fact that the references are that the definitions will be the same as in the Corporations Act. I think the only item here is Section 2.1 (a). I recognize that in the limited discussions that I have had with constituents of mine who have addressed this issue with me, it is that they don't really understand or are not sure, some of them, as to what this land thing means.

They have heard some people suggest on the open line programs, some of the repeat callers in particular, because there are two or three people - the only time I hear the thing, I usually work in the daytime. Sometimes in the evening when I'm visiting in my district I will be driving back home late in the night. I find that Bas is a good thing to turn on to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel. Because it is certainly not from lack of excitement and so on on the program.

One of the things is this idea about land and water rights and the giveaway phrases that I've addressed and so on. I believe just if - and again, maybe some member opposite can stand after this and let me know where I'm wrong, if I am. There is one member in the Chamber opposite now who was in a Cabinet before. There are five or six of them in the front row over there who worked in a Cabinet before for some years. The members in the back row opposite haven't had any Cabinet experience and would have to rely on what would happen.

Basically - and I can suggest to you that I'm not a lawyer. As I've mentioned before, I'm a school teacher by trade and training. A politician because of circumstance at the time. The notion for myself in particular - and I can only speak from where I stand, Mr. Chairman - that in reference to this definition, we discussed the issues in principle. The principle is clear. That in our discussion we said: What about this land? How much - when you talk about a definition of land and the water rights - does the company need to generate electricity and what kind of words will guarantee them that they can use what they have to use now to generate electricity? Nothing else, nothing new. That what they are using today to generate electricity, the company has to have the right to continue using that. That is the one part of it.

Secondly, that the general public has access to those lands and the waters up beyond the dam, the reservoirs and so on, they have access to it today. I use Bay d'Espoir as an example. For all that water system up behind the dam in Bay d'Espoir. The people of Central Newfoundland and the South Coast, they've been using that whole area ever since the dam has been there back in the 1960s.

We said: We want to make sure that Hydro for its purposes can continue to use the water to generate electricity, and whatever it is using now as a public utility it will need access to and use of as a private utility. Secondly, that the people's ability to use whatever they want, for fishing, hunting and so on in that same watershed area that feeds that dam, their rights to use that will be protected in the future just as they are today.

The discussion goes around and said, yes, everybody agrees that is what should be done. Then we say: Write down the words. Now let's get some people who are legal experts, who draft legislation, who are lawyers, and say: Write the words for us, because we are not lawyers - I'm not a lawyer - write the words and convince me and make sure that when we say, "Is that what these words mean?", yes, that they will back it up with every bit of legal expertise that they have. That these words mean two very simple things.

Because there are some words in there that I've seen for the first time. Because I've never used them in my life before. Not part of my language. There are some words in there that my constituents have never seen in their lives before. Not part of my language. But it is part of the legalese that does what we want it to do which is to say two things. For Hydro generation purposes, whether it is public like it is now, or private, they have to be able to have access to the water to let it run through the turbines to let it generate the electricity. Just like today. For the individuals who will go into that whole watershed area, hunt, fish, swim and so on, they have to have the rights to do that tomorrow just like today.

It comes back. These words in section 2(1)(a), we are told as the Cabinet, and we believe the legal advice that we have, that that is exactly what that does. Nothing more and nothing less. It gives them the rights to use the water just like they do today, privately after a certain day, just like they do now publicly as a public corporation; and all of the individuals have a right to access the watershed area tomorrow after it is privatized, just like they do today when it is public. That there will be no difference.

The only other thing that was asked to be guaranteed as a matter of principle: Give us the right words that will say that if the utility no longer needs part of the water or the lands or whatever and the rights to generate electricity and they stop using it for that, it will revert back to the Crown in the name of the minister that is named in the bill.

That is what we are assured. It is on that basis that I've never had any hesitation in supporting this particular clause, this particular definition, this particular bill, and this act of privatization. Because I am told by the best legal advice that we can get in the Province, the same as Cabinet ministers opposite when they were in that role, would have had access to any legal advice available in the Province, in the country, in the world. They tell us that is what these words do.

They give no additional rights, they give nothing away. It maintains the status quo and builds in the added protection that if it is no longer needed for Hydro electricity generation it reverts back to the Crown.

Now if somebody opposite wants to come up with some - I am sure you can get a legal opinion. That's what lawyers do. They get two different legal opinions and run off to court to fight it. Our legal advice is that this does what we asked it to do.

I am not a lawyer, and I am not in a position to argue whether those words exactly do that or not, but the lawyers who advise the provincial government convinced me, as a member of Cabinet, and the rest of our colleagues, that that is what it does, and I have been defending it to my constituents and anyone else who wants to hear, on that basis, that there is no giveaway here, that there is nothing to fear, there are no additional rights and, as a matter of fact, the guarantee is that if it is no longer needed for hydroelectric generation, it reverts back to the Crown, and it is on that basis that I think the continued concerns, if there are any, about clause 2.(1)(a), should be debated here.

Then, if we are not going to satisfy each other - we might never satisfy each other. I have been satisfied completely, and I have accepted the legal advice given and the information. That is what it means; that is what it is intended to mean. It doesn't mean anything else, and if it's ever proven to mean something else, then I am sure we would come back, just like we do with other legislation, and say: Somebody gave us poor advice. Let's get the right words to do exactly what we want done. Give the rights that are there today, just like they are. Have it revert back to the Crown if it is no longer needed, and nothing else other than that.

So there is no need to talk about the great giveaway and the great fears, because they don't exist, and it is on that basis that this government and this Cabinet and this caucus is certainly supporting clause 2.(1)(a) just like we support the rest of the bill.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise to speak on this clause, the water rights, because the people in my district have - I held a public meeting, as I am sure some people have on this side of the House, and I think there were a couple held by other back benchers, public meetings to allow their constituents an opportunity to express their opinions and to learn what is in this bill and how it is going to affect them.

At the public meeting that I held in my constituency, where over 200 people came out, I explained my position. Then several people expressed their opinion on this particular bill. While all of them didn't particularly address the water rights issue, when I spoke to them I very briefly touched upon it, but several speakers after I spoke - there was a microphone in the back of the hall so the people could go and address questions to the audience - several people there expressed their concerns over the water rights, this resource that they felt had to have more protection.

They also were very concerned about the idea that this again was a sell-out of our resources. They were very, very concerned, because they remember with shame what happened in the Upper Churchill deal. The reason why that occurred, in their minds, and they spoke about it, was that there was no public discussion about what happened during the Churchill development. There was very, very little public discussion about it. There wasn't even the amount of discussion that we are having here today about the privatization bill itself - not near that amount of discussion back in the sixties.

So what the people are really, really concerned about is that they don't understand the urgency to get this through the House. Why do we have to do it behind closed doors? Why is it only the Cabinet knew about this, and a few select individuals in the Province? For months and months and months there was denial, denial, denial about any privatization whatsoever and then, lo and behold, yes, we are considering it.

Even the Premier denied it during the election, that it was only silly rumours, in May. They were only silly rumours that there was going to be a privatization of Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Labrador West.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, the impact of privatization on western Labrador, according to the Premier now - I take him at his word - he said there are going to be additional increases over and above the 30 per cent they have to pay, anyway. We are facing a 30 per cent increase -

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible) had nothing to do with that (inaudible) privatization. The increases in Labrador West wouldn't have (inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Oh, but the Premier said - now I don't know if the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations - I recognize that he is next to the Premier, he is the point man on this bill - which I find passing strange, that the Employment and Labour Relations Minister would be the point man on this bill. He is the one who is up, defending it, Mr. Chairman, I mean, I haven't heard a peep, not a squeak, not a noise from the Minister of Mines and Energy; not a squeak, he hasn't been up on his feet yet. But the minister, for some reason, I guess it is because he is such a fantastic salesperson, I mean, this fellow could sell used cars to anybody, I am sure of that. I am willing to bet that there will be posters during the next election: would you buy a used car from this man? I can see that coming out in the next election, Mr. Chairman, in Exploits.

Well, I find it passing strange that the minister, who is the point man on this bill, next to the Premier - he is tight in behind the Premier here, having all the public discussions about it. But I don't know why it is, I suppose it is the aspirations of the - I admire him for that. And he is very articulate but, Mr. Chairman, I find it really strange now that being the two I see in this bill, the second in charge in the point, trying to get this through the House and get it sold to the public; but why he doesn't believe when the Premier said in the media briefing, this briefing to which people weren't allowed to go, the special briefing that the Premier had with the media - when the Premier said, that the residents of Labrador would face a 20 per cent to 30 per cent increase anyway, because we have to charge you more - because, for whatever reason, he wants more money, Mr. Chairman; but, added to that, he said was privatization, over and above the 30 per cent, you are going to have to pay more because of privatization.

MR. GRIMES: He didn't.

MR. A. SNOW: He did say that.

MR. GRIMES: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, I'm glad the minister concurs with me that the people in Labrador City and Wabush will be facing 30 per cent, maybe 40 per cent, I don't know how much, 40 per cent increase is possible, isn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now, the second point man in this bill, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, has confirmed to the House and to the people of Western Labrador, because they will get a copy of this, that, because of privatization, we are going to be facing a 30 per cent to 40 per cent increase in electricity charges.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that just doesn't affect the household and that's what really concerned us. It really concerns people in Western Labrador because when the power bill goes up, it is just not in your household although most of them have electric heat now, because it has been converted in our town; we consume the highest amount of energy of any municipality per capita in this Province. Mr. Chairman, it also will affect grocery stores, because their energy costs are going to go up. It is also going to affect education because the cost of heating the schools is going to increase, so how are we going to get the extra revenue into the school system to pay for this now, Mr. Chairman? The hospital is also electrically heated. Health care, we know, is block-funded through the Department of Health, so the heating costs will rise dramatically and instead of facing a $75,000 bill in heating costs, now they will probably be facing an over $100,000 electrical bill per year, so where does this extra money come from?

The government says they are going to keep maintaining the present amount of expenditure in health care but their costs are going to go up, so the only thing they could do with that - they have to heat the hospital, so in all likelihood, what we are probably going to end up seeing is a cutback in services. They can't just not heat the hospital, so it affects everybody, Mr. Chairman. Its effects will be felt throughout the community, and that is what really concerns the people of Western Labrador, the costs, the financial costs, that they are going to have to bear. But the interesting point that one person raised was that, when this bill is done, when this privatization is completed, it is going to be irreversible. It is going to be even worse and have even a greater long-term effect, than the Upper Churchill deal, which everybody abhors, the deal that the party on the opposite side, the Liberal party, settled - pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, one of the problems with that particular bill, with that particular development of the Upper Churchill, was the fact that it is so lengthy. That deal itself, the big problem with it is that it's so lengthy, that it won't finish until 2041.

This does have something to do - because I am using the relationship, the fears that people have that this is going to be even a longer term, because this is irreversible. At least, in 2041 we should, as a people, have - well, I don't know the implications this might have for Upper Churchill. There are also a lot of people who argue that we have implications in this bill for the Upper Churchill, but at least in 2041 the people of this Province will have control, or the ability to renegotiate another contract, and hopefully with a better deal for the sale of the power to Hydro Quebec.

In this particular bill, what we are talking about here in clause 2, about the water rights, when this privatization occurs it is irreversible. You won't even get it back in 2050. It is irreversible.

My understanding is, well, first of all we would probably never be able to afford, as a Province, to expropriate it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It might be appropriate if I were to say a few words about the situation with respect to power rates in Labrador. I guess my friend, the Member for Menihek, is not interested in it, so he might want to communicate with his friend in the gallery, whoever it is.

Let me just say a few words, because it is a matter which is of concern to his constituents in Menihek, I accept, and it is of concern to mine in Naskaupi. It does not have any impact upon people in either Eagle River or Torngat Mountains districts, but it is very much of concern to the people who live elsewhere in Labrador, if you wish, the people who live along the Northern Gulf Highway, the road, in this case, from Western Labrador through to Lake Melville and Happy Valley - Goose Bay.

The Premier, at second reading, tabled the calculations that have been made for us to show the overall impact of privatizing Hydro upon the rates throughout the Province, and either at second reading or in his subsequent press conference - I am not sure where he provided the details, but there is no secret about them - the Premier laid out the fact that the power rates in Labrador on the interconnected grid will go up far more proportionately than they will in the rest of the Province.

Now the interconnected grid is important. That is the power that is generated from Churchill Falls and is carried westward to Wabush and Labrador City, some of which goes into the iron ore mining operations at Wabush, and the Iron Ore Company's Carol project, some of which goes into domestic consumption in Western Labrador. Then, the power also comes east into Happy Valley - Goose Bay, and into Sheshatshiu and into North West River. Mud Lake still uses diesel power.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) diesel power?

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I will deal with the diesel power in a moment, but let me talk about the hydro-generated power, the power that goes west from Churchill to the two cities in the west, and comes east from Churchill into the three communities in Upper Lake Melville.

These people are the only people in this Province - the people living in Labrador City, Wabush, Churchill Falls, Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Sheshatshiu, and North West River - who are making no contribution at all to the diesel subsidy. They make no contribution at all to the diesel subsidy. Everybody else in this Province who uses electricity makes a contribution towards the diesel rate subsidy.

Formerly, everybody in the Province made a contribution by means of taxes. The subsidy was paid each year from the Treasury; a vote would appear in the Estimates. The Treasury would then make a payment over to Hydro of the order of $30 million. I will use round numbers - I don't have the precise figures here but they are on the record and they are well known in any event.

Four or five years ago, this government properly, and for reasons that make a great deal of sense, said the burden should be shifted from the taxpayers as taxpayers to the rate payers as rate payers. That makes a great deal of sense because it means one's - first of all, it is the same people. Rate payers and taxpayers are the same people, unless there is somebody in this Province who doesn't pay rates by not using electricity. There can't be very many people left in the Province who don't use electricity, or publicly-generated electricity, and if there are any, it is obviously of their own choice. There are no areas of the Province that don't have publicly-provided power now.

That is a change from when I came into public life thirty years ago. The cry of `lights for Christmas' was one of the great political imperatives of our time. That is one of the reasons we put Hydro together in the first place, in the mid-1960s.

That was one reason we made the move. The second, of course, is that one's contribution now by means of the rate process is proportional to one's consumption of power. The more power one uses, the more of a contribution one makes to the diesel rates. But when that change was made there was no adjustment made in the rates charged to commercial and domestic consumers in Labrador on the interconnected grid in those six communities I have named.

Hydro, being the provider of power, was going to go forward - I asked my friend, the Minister of Mines and Energy - with a rate application at that time, and that was put on hold.

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, it was.

MR. ROBERTS: Pending the resolution of the whole rural rates issue. So, there has been no change in the power rates in Western Labrador or in Central Labrador to take into account the diesel subsidy. We now have the situation that the people who live in these communities make no contribution, none at all, to the diesel subsidy. The diesel subsidy is still at about $30 million a year.


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: If my colleagues would - I could yell as loud as anybody in this House, but it doesn't help anybody, including me.

DR. GIBBONS: Twenty-eight million dollars last year.

MR. ROBERTS: It was $28 million last year we paid as a subsidy. It will be about half that if we are able to build the line down from - where does it go - out of Hawke's Bay?


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!


MR. ROBERTS: I would say that nobody has ever caught my friend, the Member for St. John's South, at anything he didn't want to be caught at.

Anyway, the Hydro tie-line now goes about two-thirds of the way down the Northern Peninsula. If we are able to extend it all the way to St. Anthony into Griquet and the communities in the northern part of the Strait of Belle Isle district, that will cut the diesel subsidy about in half. If we are able to have some small hydro development down in Eagle River, as my friend, the Member for Eagle River is pressing, we will be able to cut it a little further.

The diesel subsidy, as we all know, the first 700 hours, the so-called lifeline, is the same rate whether you live in St. Anthony or in St. John's. After that, you pay a much higher rate for diesel power, but you are still heavily subsidized. The subsidies are very, very heavy. They still impose a burden upon the people who buy that power.

Now, I have difficulty in accepting that the people in Western Labrador, or the people in my own constituency of the Upper Lake Melville area, Central Labrador, are not prepared to pay their fair share - my friend, the Member for Menihek rolls his eyes. I don't find people selfish, I don't find people ignorant. I find when one explains it to people, they are quite prepared to do the right thing.

The people of Western Labrador and the people of Central Labrador expect support from the rest of this Province, they are entitled to it and they will get it. I don't find, and I have great difficulty in accepting, that people in Western Labrador or people in Central Labrador will go against shouldering their fair share of the burden. If they disagree with me, then we will have to agree to disagree. Because I will stand very squarely for the principle that everybody must accept his fair share of the burden, which means, the rates in Western Labrador and Central Labrador will have to go up, with or without privatization. Now, that is where the increase comes of which the Premier spoke. It will be far heavier, far greater percentage-wise, in Western Labrador than in Central Labrador, because in Western Labrador now they are getting power at a general rate, about 20 per cent of the rate, throughout, 15 mils opposed to 75 mils. About 15 mils compared to 75 mils elsewhere in the Province, it's 30 mils in Goose Bay. We have three or four separate power rates in Labrador, it makes no sense in equity, no sense in justice, no sense in principle, no sense in anything except the historical reasons for which it came about.

The price of power in Labrador will still be a great deal lower because the energy that goes into the grid will still come from Churchill Falls and is purchased and paid for at the base price of about 3 mils, if memory serves me correctly, or whatever the base price is, that will not change. The cost of administering it, the cost of delivery, the cost of servicing and the operational costs will not change. What will change is that the diesel subsidy will be added in and that's why the power rates in Western Labrador and in Central Labrador are going to go up a very much greater amount then it will elsewhere in the Province. The prices in the diesel area will go up by the same percentage as the prices paid by people here on the island who are using power drawn from the Island grid. Now it's no more than that. I realize that my hon. friend for Menihek, if he wants, can go around saying: privatization 30 per cent, he can say that if he wants. I will tell him if he says -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I realize that but anybody who says that - what I said is I realize my friend can say that if he wants. They will happen coincidentally but it would be dishonest and dishonourable of him or anybody else to say that. The truth of the matter is - even if this bill, Mr. Chairman, dies here in committee - the rates in Western Labrador are going to go up substantially and the rates in Central Labrador are going to go up by a lesser proportion simply to take into account the fact that these people have not been paying anything towards the burden of providing people in the diesel areas - large areas of which are in Labrador - the entire coast of Labrador from Nain right down to the Straits, right down to L'Anse-au-Clair is diesel power and Mud Lake, in my constituency, draws its electricity from diesel and that will not change.

So other people in Labrador, other Labradorians have not been paying their share towards the benefit that goes disproportionately in Labrador because Labrador happens to have a disproportionately large share of the diesel consumers in this Province. Now there is no more to it than that. That's the full explanation. I don't know what the precise rates will be because that's a matter, Mr. Chairman - I know that my friend from Exploits, my friend from Port de Grave and my friend from Bonavista North want me to say this but they know how loudly I can speak. My friend from Bonavista North and I have been in the House together since 1975 and he lived in Churchill Falls where they've got a really terrific power rate. A really terrific power rate in Churchill Falls as part of their overall package. They pay no bills. Nobody in Churchill Falls gets a bill for his or her domestic consumption. That's part of the deal that's been in place, I guess, since the start between the company and its employees.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that's all there is with respect to the Labrador power rates. It's a matter of equity, a matter of fairness, to use a phrase, a matter of balance to use another word. I have no doubt that the people in Labrador will accept their fair share of the burden and I'll gladly go anywhere on any platform in Labrador, with my friend or with anybody else, to deal with this and address it as to why.

Now if I may have one more minute, by leave. I just simply want to say I have not said what the prices will be. I have no idea what they'll be, we have ranges but these prices are set by the Public Utilities Board after the hearing process and in accordance with the well established principles. They will go up in Western Labrador, not because of privatization but because of the diesel subsidy factor.

Mr. Chairman, changes we made in moving the burden from the taxpayers to the ratepayers - but, Mr. Chairman, the people in Western Labrador or in my constituency are not stunned. They know full well that the electricity rates they pay or the tax they pay, each of them makes the contribution that way. I would say that my friend raises a concern about hospitals and schools, the budgetary process will take care of that. That kind of increase is taken care of in dealings between my friend the Minister of Health and his officials, the people at the Jackman Hospital or between the school boards.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I say to my friend for Burin - Placentia West, it will be a great deal cheaper because the base power going into the system in Labrador is the power generated from Churchill. That's the only energy that is being generated in Labrador - Menihek is now off-stream - other than the diesel plants.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Menihek is off-stream as far as we are concerned in Labrador. It is going into Quebec. We are not using any of the Menihek power in Labrador. Twin Falls is off-stream, it is mothballed.


MR. ROBERTS: Yes we did. When Schefferville was going we used it in Labrador. Part of Schefferville was in Labrador. The mine was partially in Labrador, either 40 per cent or 60 per cent. Memory fails me as to which one.


MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry? - no, the mine in Schefferville closed - Brian Mulroney closed that ten years ago.

To come back to my friend for Burin - Placentia West, the cost of power to a consumer consists really of three or four elements, all of which the PUB addresses in its process. One is the cost of generating or purchasing the power. The second is the cost of delivering it. The third is the cost of amortizing the capital facilities. The fourth is the cost of servicing the capital, whether it be in the form of equity which bears dividends or loans which bear interest or, in the case of Hydro, an interest rate cover, which is a way of -


MR. ROBERTS: The profit to shareholders is in the form of dividends. My hon. friend for Menihek is quite right on that. We make no attempt to hide it. The rates will go up to take that into account. We've dealt with that. The calculations the Premier has tabled in the House, Mr. Chairman, deal with that and take all those factors into account. I don't have the numbers in front of me but the price of power will go up because of privatization within the ranges we have estimated. The precise rates will have to be determined of course by the PUB, no question about that.

We believe the benefits to flow from this bill are far in excess of the costs that will be there but we are not trying to pretend there won't be costs. Of course there will be. We are not here to fool anybody; we are not here to try to fool anybody. We are simply prepared to lay out the truth and stand by it and do so gladly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, sitting here on the Opposition side of the House looking at the government members opposite I'm bewildered as to the role of the Minister of Mines and Energy. The minister nominally has responsibility for Hydro yet the bill now before us is in the name of the Premier. The Premier however has been absent from the debate on the bill for more than half the time it has been under consideration. The Minister of Mines and Energy has sat silently through most of the debate and it is the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and the Minister of Justice who've had the most to say on behalf of the government.

The minister designated in the clause now under examination, clause 2, is not the Premier in whose name the bill stands, not the Minister of Mines and Energy, who is now responsible for Hydro, not the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, who has spoken so smoothly, glibly, superficially, not the Minister of Justice, who has spoken in such a bombastic way, but instead the Minister of Finance. This is very bewildering.

I'm not suggesting that no other minister over there has made a contribution within the ranks of the Liberal Party or the Liberal caucus to the topic at hand. The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture has made many interjections from his seat. Some members on both sides of the House have ridiculed the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. I think we tend to underestimate his appreciation of what is at stake here.

Friends of mine who were delegates at the provincial Liberal convention in Gander last November told me of the very powerful contribution the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture made to Liberal discussion of Hydro privatization. The minister reminded his Liberal brothers and sisters that after the disastrous Upper Churchill deal in the 1960s the Liberals were in the political wilderness in this Province for seventeen years. He told them that if they proceeded to ram through Hydro privatization now the Liberals will go down to resounding defeat in the next election and will spend another period in the political wilderness.

That was the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture speaking at the provincial Liberal convention in Gander in November. Chairperson, that was very wise advice and members opposite would do well to show the minister greater respect, because after all the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture is a veteran of Newfoundland and Labrador politics, one of the most seasoned members of this House of Assembly. Now he doesn't stand on his feet and take part in debate very often, but he told the truth at the convention.

What the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture said at the Liberal convention in Gander in November, made eminent good sense. Now some members opposite, namely the Premier and the Minister of Justice, sat in the House of Assembly in the late 1960s when the disastrous Upper Churchill deal went through, and they did not learn from their mistake. The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture was elected to the House of Assembly a few years after that, but he did learn and he has been trying his best to apply the lesson learnt to the present situation.

Now, Chairperson, the Minister of Justice was just trying to justify the increases in electricity rates that are going to result from the government's plan to privatize Hydro. They are admitting that prices will go up more than they would otherwise, although they are grossly understating the extent of the price hikes that are going to occur and these will be price increases both to householders and industries. Now, the government is trying to somehow sugar-coat the price increases by saying that there will be some jigging. They are going to spread the load in a different way, they are going to put more of the load on diesel consumers in Labrador and on the Island, mostly people who live in rural areas. They are purporting to give a break to industries, but make no mistake, they are all going to be paying more than they would otherwise, and if there is any merit in the notion of equalizing rates, there is nothing stopping the government from doing that now.

The government has the option of keeping Hydro as a Crown-owned corporation, thereby maintaining reasonably low electricity rates and then make adjustments; keep down the total electricity cost to consumers across the Province and if there is merit in redistribution of prices, by all means go ahead and do that. You don't have to privatize, you don't have to sell off such a valuable, profitable Crown corporation simply to make a different distribution in electricity cost to consumers across the Province.

Chairperson, the clause we are now examining, the definition clause, includes not only the definition of minister, to which I have already referred, but also the definition of land, and this is one of the really dangerous provisions of this bill. Now the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is giving his version of what this means, but I say to the minister, in years to come, when this may end up being the subject of major litigation, when there are millions and billions of dollars at stake for future governments and generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to come, and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland or the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland or the Supreme Court of Canada are interpreting this bill, they are going to pay most attention to what is contained in the precise wording of the legislation, and the legislation defines land as including tenements, hereditaments and appurtenances, leaseholds and an estate, term, easement, right or interest in, to, over, under or affecting land, including rights-of-way..... and, and, and, waters, water rights, water powers and water privileges.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Could we have order, Mr. Speaker?

MS. VERGE: Every time the word land appears in this bill, every time you see the word land in the insidious and dangerous clause 4, you have to substitute for land all those technical, legal words in clause 2.(1)(a).

So clause 2.(1)(a) is a very, very important provision of this bill, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Clause 2.(1)(a) makes it clear that land equals waters; land equals water rights; land equals water powers and water privileges. So when we come over to clause 4 and look at what is being given away, every time we see land we have to include waters, water rights, water powers and water privileges.

Now the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is trying to say that will just mean the water that generates the power, not the water upstream, not the water downstream, not the water going out through the tail-race, but I call to the minister's attention a clause that lawyers, in years to come, will be pointing to in multibillion or multimillion dollar litigation.

Clause 4.(7) says: "Where an interest in land..." - and remember, land means waters, water rights, water powers and water privileges, so, when an interest in water is or is purported to be transferred to new Hydro by the Crown, by the government, and an earlier part of clause 4 requires that Crown waters, Crown lands, be transferred to new Hydro. When that is done, the legal title to and beneficial ownership of such interest shall be considered to have been acquired by new Hydro free and clear of all encumbrances and other interests.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for St. George's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I should like to have a few comments on this very important bill that we are debating.

Before I go into the comments that I would like to offer to you hon. colleagues, last Wednesday morning, about 11:30, I received a memorandum from the co-ordinator of the Bay St. George South Development Association, suggesting that I have a public meeting on the issue. This was the first such suggestion from the district. In fact, up to that time I had received two letters and three telephone calls opposing the privatization of Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

DR. HULAN: It is true. I have also received in excess of 100 telephone calls in favour of privatization.

Mr. Chairman, within twenty minutes of receiving that memorandum I had set up a meeting. I went to the meeting on Saturday, as it was set up for 1:30 on Saturday, in McKay's. When I arrived there, there were forty-five people at the meeting, in a catchment area - in an immediate catchment area - of 1,500 to 1,800 in the immediate catchment area, within distance from the place of the meeting, of approximately five miles on each side. There were forty-five people, and I know all of these people because it's in the area that I grew up in.

There were thirty-five people at the meeting who were of the opposite side political stripe. There were ten Liberals that I knew.

One Liberal gentleman at the meeting suggested that it was a meeting to select the candidate for the leadership review of the Conservative Party. I thought it might have been a nomination meeting, as my colleague for Carbonear has suggested.


DR. HULAN: They did. I asked the Minister of Mines and Energy, Mr. Chairman, to accompany me at the meeting because I firmly believe, as Mr. Smallwood said some years ago, it is better to get the information straight from the horse's mouth. The Minister of Mines and Energy was kind enough to accompany me at the meeting and to deliver an excellent presentation. Unfortunately it did not appear at the meeting that the majority were even listening to his presentation and that bothered me very much. It seemed to me that they were giving the impression clearly that they did not want to be bothered with the facts and the details. Their minds were made up.

I personally strongly believe in the privatization of any corporation that can be better served for the Province and the people through a privatized operation rather than having government corporation or government involvement. I would also submit to you a good example of that is Newfoundland Farm Products. I recommended three or four years ago that Newfoundland Farm Products be privatized.

I had a visit this morning from a Dr. Vetter who wanted to talk to me. When I used the example of Newfoundland Farm Products he said: Yes, but that is an example where there is competition. There is no competition. I ask this hon. Chamber, name the competition for Newfoundland Farm Products. Newfoundland Farm Products has for the last ten years lost between $4 million and $5 million a year. They've been running in the red between $4 million and $5 million a year as a Crown corporation. I also submit strongly that government should, and they will, privatize Newfoundland Farm Products and other corporations as well.

I also gathered at the meeting in McKay's that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there concerning this issue. When I was speaking with Dr. Vetter this morning he certainly urged me strongly to speak out against the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro because that is what my district was asking for. Up to this point I have seen on pieces of paper the names of individuals from three different districts on the District of St. George's supposedly petitions. I didn't disregard those names, I counted all the names up. The names that were there from Kippens and Corner Brook and Port aux Basques and so on. I counted every name that was on these pieces of paper.

When I add them up it accounts for, if I consider all of these people from the District of St. George's, 8 per cent of the eligible voters in the District of St. George's. Yet Dr. Vetter has strongly urged me to speak for that 8 per cent and ignore the 92 per cent, the 92 per cent who have not expressed an opinion whatsoever. I ask what is going on here.

Going back to the misinformation, there at the meeting we were told that we were giving away the water rights. We all know, on both sides of this Chamber, the water will be used for the generation of electricity either by the old Hydro or by the new privatized Hydro. At the point that that is not the case the water rights revert back to the people and the Province of Newfoundland.

We were also told - because that is an area where people like to go hunting and fishing - that if we privatize they would no longer be able to go in to inland waters to fish and to hunt caribou or moose. We know that is definitely not the case. The other thing, very clearly by a number of individuals there it was stated: why are you privatizing Newfoundland Hydro, because we own it? We've heard in this Chamber very clearly, Mr. Chairman, that we own 18 per cent of Newfoundland Hydro. The other 82 per cent of course is owned by five foreign countries and the mainland of Canada.

We've also heard in this Chamber that the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro will not improve our credit rating. I disagree with that very seriously and strongly. We also have heard other misleading comments concerning the privatization issue, and those comments indeed are confusing the people out in our districts, confusing the people very much so. I think that is very unfair.

One of the things that was raised very clearly at the meeting in McKay's was a list of comments from the Leader of the Opposition from his office. This is what they are going by, the very few people who are voicing an objection, that is the type of information they are going by. I challenge that very much.

We have heard the hon. Premier in this Chamber say that one of the big problems in attracting investment into this Province is the low percentage of privatized corporations and businesses in the Province. By privatizing one of our major corporations that will be and bode well for investments in the future.

Mr. Chairman, and hon. colleagues, I've had the opportunity to live and work in six countries of this world. The United States and Canada, and four countries in Western Europe.

MR. CHAIRMAN (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. CHAIRMAN: By leave? Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

DR. HULAN: Four countries in Western Europe. I tell you, Mr. Chairman, in all of those countries in Western Europe you have nationalized electricity, you have nationalized hydro. Go there and enjoy their efficiency that doesn't exist. The efficiency is so terrible and the delivery is so unbelievable that you are very happy to come back to North America and enjoy what you have in the United States, where you have privatized hydro-electric throughout the country. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Carried.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Carried? I was about to move that this bill be not approved. Does the hon. member want to carry it? We can do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can move all you like it won't make any difference.

MR. WINDSOR: Make any difference. There are the truest words, Mr. Chairman, the truest words that hon. member ever spoke. I can move whatever I like and it won't make any difference. That is exactly what this government is saying to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We don't care what you say, it won't make any difference.

MS. VERGE: Graham tells the truth. You should listen to him more.

MR. FLIGHT: Too bad you don't, Lynn. Too bad you don't.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, unless the hon. Member for Windsor - Buchans has something to contribute to the debate I suggest that he sit there and chew his gum.

I want to address clause 2 which is the clause that we are debating here this morning. My hon. colleague for Humber East I think just did an extremely good job of pointing out from a legal point of view, which she can do far better than I can, what the interpretation of these clauses in fact would be. They are very clear. I will confess that there's somewhat of a conflict between clause 2(a) and clause 4(a), and clause 4(7) and 4(4). Clause 4(a) when read in conjunction with clause 2(a), very clearly states that all land, property, assets will be transferred - complete title and rights - to new Hydro and the definition of land is very, very clear.

What also concerns me, Mr. Speaker, not only that water rights are very clearly identified under the definition of land - which to me is somewhat a strange definition of land, water rights - but nevertheless there it is. In any piece of legislation hon. members will know that the definitions are of utmost weight in considering the interpretation of any clauses thereafter but land very clearly includes waters, water rights, water powers and water privileges. Mr. Speaker, you have to read the rest of words there to because it says, `right of interest into, over and under.' Under, does that mean that any mineral rights that might be under any of these waters or any of these lands, that are being transferred to new Hydro, could possibly be considered to be the property of new Hydro? I've read carefully through it and I find nothing that precludes that. So maybe the Minister of Mines and Energy would like to - would the minister like to point out to me the clause? I'm interested in the ministers response, is there a clause here which precludes it?

DR. GIBBONS: I haven't looked at it.

MR. WINDSOR: You haven't looked at it. Now that's the truth too, that's the second bit of truth, the minister hasn't looked at it. It is one thing for the minister to say it's not included and with all due respect to my good friend and colleague, who I've known for some time, but I'm not prepared to take your word for that. This is the fact, this is the law or this will be the law when this hon. crowd shoves it through the House.

Now would the minister please refer to the section of this act which says that mineral rights, petroleum rights perhaps, petroleum resources - the minister is always on his feet talking about all the great exploration we're doing on land, particularly on the West Coast and the Southwest Coast, large bodies of waters - is the hon. member telling me that the water under Deer Lake for example if that were part of - or under Cat Arm or Hynes Lake - if the hon. member has some success with the exploration of finding oil underneath those waters that that petroleum deposit would not be the property of new Hydro? I see nothing here that stops it, Mr. Chairman. I say to the hon. gentleman again, that his word unfortunately is not enough. Please, when he gets to his feet - which I trust he will in due course - please refer me to a section in this act which does this, which precludes the mineral, petroleum resources and other resources 'below' because as I read it, very clearly those resources are included.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He's consulting now, the minister (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: I'm prepared to wait and let the hon. minister take some advice. I say to the House Leader, I was asking a very serious question.

MR. ROBERTS: I accept that, I'm getting some serious information from my serious colleague to answer your serious question.

MR. WINDSOR: Well I was prepared to wait for it because I would like -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) what land does Hydro own and the answer is not very much.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) land is defined.

MR. WINDSOR: Land is defined as waters and water rights.

MR. ROBERTS: Water rights are not petroleum rights, they're mineral rights.

MR. WINDSOR: But I say to the hon. Minister of Justice the definition of land specifies clearly waters, water rights, water powers, water privileges -

MR. ROBERTS: But none of those are mineral or petroleum rights.

MR. WINDSOR: But rights or interests into, over or under -

MR. ROBERTS: That's right.

MR. WINDSOR: - those lands and waters.

MR. ROBERTS: And those aren't mineral or petroleum rights. The hon. gentleman can take my opinion or not but that's the case.

MR. WINDSOR: No, I hope they're not but I say to the hon. Minister of Justice, as I did to my friend the Minister of Energy, that I'm not prepared just to accept your word, please show me here something that causes that definition to be wrong.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) clause and that the clause speaks for itself. That does not include petroleum or mineral rights unless Hydro owns freehold rights. That's why I asked my colleague how much land Hydro owns and the answer is a few acres.

For example, I assume Hydro owns the land for the great big building on Columbus Drive, and if there is oil found under that Hydro probably owns that, and if there is a gold mine 1000 feet down below Columbus Drive it probably owns that, the same way as if there is a gold mine under my friend's home, he owns the gold 1000 feet below the ground, assuming my friend has freehold.

MR. WINDSOR: But that is the point, exactly. That is the point.

MR. ROBERTS: Hydro owns rented land. It does not own land. It owns water rights.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, the problem is that under Clause 7, where an interest in land is purported to be transferred to new Hydro by the Crown under an agreement entered into shall be considered to have been acquired by new Hydro free and clear of all encumbrances and other interests.

MR. ROBERTS: Except those recorded in deeds. That is all. That is what it says, `except'.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, will my hon. friend please put a clause in here. Bring in an amendment which clearly spells out that mineral rights and petroleum rights, or anything else, below those lands are not vested in the new Hydro.

MR. ROBERTS: We will look at that.

MR. WINDSOR: Would you do that?

MR. ROBERTS: I will look at it, yes.

MR. WINDSOR: You will look at it. I thank the hon. member, because that would give me a lot more comfort, and I am sure a lot of other people more comfort. The hon. member may be right. He is far more experienced and more knowledgeable in law than I am, and if he is right then I am happy, but if he is not right I would be a lot happier if he would bring in an amendment which clearly specifies that those rights have not been transferred.

MR. ROBERTS: There is no intention of transferring them.

MR. WINDSOR: I accept that.

MR. ROBERTS: We will look at the hon. gentleman's suggestion.

MR. WINDSOR: I thank the Minister of Justice and look forward to that. That will give us a lot of comfort, I say to hon. gentlemen opposite, a lot of comfort.

My friend for St. George's spoke a moment ago about the debt. He says that he cannot understand why the Hydro debt does not have an impact on the Province's credit rating. Mr. Chairman, it cannot be more simple. Very simply the Hydro debt is totally self- supporting, not by the Province. It is not a debt where the Province is paying off the principal or even the interest. It is not subsidizing one penny. It is totally being paid for by Hydro from revenues gained from the sale of Hydro power to consumers.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)

MR. WINDSOR: I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that we are talking about a corporation here that is totally self-sufficient and is totally supporting the debt associated with it. Now, that is not a burden on the Province nor could it ever be, because under the Public Utilities Act the Public Utilities Board is bound by that legislation to provide to Newfoundland Hydro a rate of return which guarantees that they can meet all of their costs, including their debt retirement, interests and any other costs whatsoever associated with the operations of Hydro, plus a small profit of about 6 per cent, so there is no risk.

It is the only business in the world where you start off with your profit and work backwards. Add to your profit your costs, all costs, to find out what your rate will be, then it is approved under statute by the Public Utilities Board. You cannot lose, so there is absolutely no risk. Unless the Province goes totally bankrupt, everybody stops using electricity, or something absolutely astounding such as that, there is absolutely no risk of Hydro ever being able to support that debt. In fact they will always have a profit. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, that debt has absolutely no bearing.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will have another opportunity to get back at this.

That is alright. My good friend has important things to say to you.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased today to stand and speak on Clause 2 of "An Act Respecting The Privatization Of The Newfoundland And Labrador Hydro-Electric Corporation." As the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations spoke earlier concerning the act and Parts (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f), it seems that the most important part I find of this whole piece of legislation is in this Part 2, talking about land and what land really means.

I will get back to some discussions of which the Employment and Labour Relations Minister spoke on earlier, exactly the proper wording of it with regard to exactly what is `land', what rights are being given away here, and what rights are being talked about. At all the discussions and meetings that I have held in my district, it seems this is the major part of the discussion.

I will go back to Hansard on March 7, when the Minister of Finance was asked a question by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition concerning the water rights. He said, on March 7, 1994, Hansard, page 1 -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: No, Hansard, right here - a copy of Hansard.

MR. ROBERTS: What is the page number, at the bottom of the page?

MR. MANNING: Page 1.

MR. ROBERTS: Okay, carry on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: The Official Hansard.

AN HON. MEMBER: I accept that, I just (inaudible).

MR. MANNING: The question from the hon. the Leader of the Opposition was to the Minister of Finance. He asked: "Isn't he aware, in the legislation, that in fact, undeveloped water rights are not excluded from the legislation, and that in fact, the act gives the Minister of Finance the power to give away all or any of the undeveloped water rights on the Island and in Labrador, at the stroke of a pen any time in the future, without ever having to come back to the House of Assembly. Will he confirm that?"

The Minister of Finance answered: "Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will confirm that"...

I will go on, just to finish off the sentence of the Minister of Finance. He said: ..."and I am a pretty reasonable person, and have no intentions of giving away anything that is not supposed to be given away"...

As I said before in this House, Mr. Chairman, I strongly believe that the present Minister of Finance, being a man of principle, may not, in his time as the minister, give anything away, but my worry with this piece of legislation, especially when it talks about the water rights and the rights of way, and water powers and water privileges, is that somewhere down the road, some minister who is in the position of Finance Minister in this Province will have the opportunity to do what he or she sees fit with the piece of legislation.

Now, there are a fair number of legal terms here and I, like the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, have no problem in saying that some of these are a bit confusing for the simple reason that I am a long way from being a lawyer.

Earlier today, the Minister of Justice got up and held some healthy debate, questions back and forth across the House, concerning pieces of the legislation which, I must say, was one of the best exchanges I have seen here since the legislation was brought forward in the House. It was something reasonable and something to which we could all at least try to get some answers.

But people are concerned about the water rights, and about the future, and I guess that is what is causing the most doubt in the Province, concerns the water rights, water powers and water privileges. People keep referring back to the Upper Churchill deal, and their nervousness of it.

Members of the other side continuously say that we shouldn't be comparing this to Upper Churchill, but when we go out to talk to the public, and we talk about water rights and water powers and water privileges, these people keep referring to Upper Churchill, because of the confusion, maybe, of the wording. Maybe it is confusion over the way it is being presented. Maybe it is confusion because people just don't have a copy of the act, whatever the case may be; but there seems to be a fair amount of confusion out there about the water rights. I guess that is why there is doubt out there as to whether we are proceeding properly with this legislation, with the privatization, it is because of this confusion - from the confusion comes a fair amount of doubt.

People are asking: What would be left after the undeveloped water rights are passed over to new Hydro? They are concerned about that. They are concerned about what the value may be, in years down the road, of the water rights in Labrador. What we are now putting on the table to New Hydro is of tremendous value to this Province, as I am sure many members are fully aware. A New Hydro, through arrangements with the Minister of Finance, will take over responsibility for certain obligations of the Crown `arising under contract, tort, trust or otherwise.' This could mean that New Hydro will take over the management and effective control of the Province's interest in the Upper and Lower Churchill River systems. I guess this is a major concern that people have, Mr. Chairman.

The new private company will have exclusive and free use of those resources for as long as they use them to generate hydroelectricity. Now, really, all we're going to have left after this legislation goes through - I stand to be corrected - all we're going to have left is what the New Hydro does not need. What is left after they use what they want, is it of any benefit to us? Now, it is easy to say that the water continues to flow and will continue to flow for years and decades hence; but the value of what we will have within our power to use or to try to bring investment into the Province with regard to what is left of water rights to the Province after we give the water rights to New Hydro, people are concerned about this. Because of the lack of knowledge created by the confusion of everybody putting their points forward whether on your side of the House of on our side - I guess there has never been a need for public hearings on any piece of legislation as much as on this one, so people will at least have an informed view.

I'm not, by any means, saying that I am 100 per cent in on this lengthy piece of legislation. I have no problem with it but there are certain parts of it that kind of stand out at me, therefore I feel it is important that the people have at least the opportunity to learn as much as they can about the piece of legislation - therefore, public hearings may be a proper way for the government to inform the people instead of sending out something in the mail such as Strengthening the Economy as a Private Company, the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro brochure that went out last week, Mr. Chairman.

So, when we talk about our water rights, water power and our water privileges, what is really on the table? Now, we go down through - once we get further into the legislation, over in Section 4, we get really into the undeveloped water rights as determined by the minister. This is a big concern for a lot of people I talked to, Mr. Chairman, in that one person will be able to determine, somewhere in the future, what can be given away or what can be passed over to any new company such as New Hydro. It will be the result or it will the opinion of one person, one minister, without having to come back to the Legislature, without having to come back to the House of Assembly or without having to discuss it, really, with anybody, and this is a big concern.

In the excluded assets, we talked about the securities of the Lower Churchill Development Corporation, and again, people's memories are going back to what happened with the Upper Churchill. Now, I'm not here to say whether this is right or wrong, Mr. Chairman, all I'm saying is that people are having a camouflage view of what this legislation is really all about. Therefore, there is a fair amount of doubt out there with regard to legislation.

So, maybe it would be a wise decision for the government to go out and hold public hearings, let the people know and let them make an informed decision on this piece of legislation.

The big concern is, like I said, that someone else is benefitting from our water power. For the past thirty years, Quebec has been benefitting from the rights of water on the Labrador and I guess people are very concerned that this will continue in the future under the New Hydro. This seems to be a fair portion of the comment that I'm getting back from my constituents. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman makes a very sensible point, in my judgement, and let me try to respond to it equally sensibly.

Clause 4 - and I realize we're on clause 2, technically - but we're jumping around; it's pretty hard to talk about one section of this bill without referring to others, so nobody is going to, I hope, quarrel with that. Clause 4 is the clause that allows my friend, the Minister of Finance to convey assets of Old Hydro to New Hydro. It's a very important clause, obviously, and it's right and proper to look at it very carefully.

Now, let me leave aside, for a moment, the definition of the word, `land', because that's simply a shorthand and we will deal with that in a moment or two.

Clause 4 spells out very clearly what `may be' or `shall be' - and the words mean something very different, as the Committee will realize, in law - what `may be' or `shall be' transferred by the Minister of Finance, acting for the government, to New Hydro. If one looks at 4. (1) (a): 4. (1) spells out the things that are to be transferred; 4.(1) (a) speaks of the transfer "of all of the undertaking, business, land, property, assets, interests, benefits, rights of, or the title to which is vested in, Old Hydro or which are used in connection with the business of Old Hydro, except as provided under excluded assets;"

Now, that is a very precise description. It is a very precise description - the transfer to New Hydro of all the business, of all the undertaking business of Old Hydro except excluded assets. Now, that takes us down to sub 2, where excluded assets are defined, and excluded assets very clearly embrace the holdings of Old Hydro in Upper Churchill, which is CF(L)Co, (2) (a) sub (i), Gull Island Power, Lower Churchill, Twin Falls, undeveloped water rights as determined by the ministers and then, sub (vi) the undertaking, business, land or property and then it spells out the other excluded asset there.

Now, earlier in Committee, we talked about what `securities', means. There was some apprehension, I understand, that `securities' somehow meant something other than equity interest, but I take it the Committee now accepts that `securities' means shares, as well as debt obligations. So the Minister of Finance, even were he so minded - and there is no reason to think he would be so minded, but even if he were, would not be permitted by this legislation to transfer any of the interest now held in Churchill Falls, Labrador, which I think is 66 per cent - My friend, the Minister of Mines and Energy is gone for a moment, but I think it is 66 per cent interest in CF(L)Co, it will be in the annual report, and the Gull Island Power, that's 100 per cent interest which is carried on the books at about $100 million, that's what it cost to blow the two holes at Yankee Point and Savage Point in 1975.

The Lower Churchill Development Corporation, that's a joint federal-provincial corporation, 51 per cent-owned by the Province. Twin Falls Power, which was originally developed by the Iron Ore Company and then as part of the Churchill arrangement, came into the ambit of the Churchill, undeveloped water rights, and then, clause (vi) which is quite a long one, spells out the things that are used by Old Hydro, stay with Old Hydro.

Now, that brings us back to 4.(1) (b). 4.(1) (a) authorizes the minister to transfer certain assets and defines them quite specifically. 4.(1) (b) obligates the minister to transfer certain liabilities, and it is everything, every obligation to Old Hydro except the excluded liabilities, and you go down to sub (b), and excluded liabilities are those defined by the Minister of Finance.

Sub (c), 4.(1) (c), obligates the minister, as the word `shall' applies to all of these, to transfer, the `land' - and remember that word has a special meaning in this context - land, property, assets, interests, benefits or other rights of the Crown used in connection with the business of Old Hydro, except as provided under excluded assets, and the granting of any new licences, leases or other rights by the Crown to New Hydro; and sub (d), obliges the minister to transfer certain other of the liabilities and obligations to the Crown, so (a) and (c) are transfers of assets and (b) and (d) are transfers of liabilities and the difference between them is, (a) and (c) deal with the transfer of assets from New Hydro to Old Hydro and (b) and (d) deal with the transfer of assets and liabilities from the Crown to New Hydro, and that reflects the fact that some of the assets used by Hydro for some reason. It is really paperwork, carelessness over the years, that has not been transferred into Hydro's name.

Mr. Chairman, under this clause, which is a one-shot clause, this is not a continuing matter, once this deal is done this clause is spent, but under this it would not be possible for the minister to transfer Churchill Falls, the Upper Churchill, if you wish - CF(L)Co Limited is the name of the company that owns it and of which we hold the majority of the shareholdings, or the Lower Churchill which is Gull Island Power and LCDC. This simply is not possible, so all the talk about Upper Churchill - it may be interesting political rhetoric, it may be effective political rhetoric, I am not here to argue that, I will deal with that at another time and another place, but these assets cannot be transferred. Now, the matter is that simple. We can go on at whatever length the committee wants talking about but it is not possible to transfer any of those excluded assets.

Now, let me say a word about undeveloped water rights as determined by the minister. There has been a fair amount about that. The excluded assets are whatever the minister determines to be undeveloped water rights and the fear has been expressed that this would enable the minister to say a certain right that someone else might consider to be undeveloped is in fact not undeveloped and therefore it falls out of the excluded assets category and goes back in. It would then be caught by the 4 (1)(a) words as being assets used.

The reason the words, `as determined by the minister', were put in were very straightforward. They were put in because there may be a difference of view as to whether an asset is developed or undeveloped. I wish the Minister of Mines and Energy were here because he knows these more in detail than I do, but up in Bay d'Espoir there are areas where Hydro has spent some money on development - my friend for Mount Pearl who was very much involved in these matters when he sat on the Treasury benches is nodding acquiescence, he knows where I am, they spent some money preparatory to development but they have not actually developed them.

MR. WINDSOR: Island Pond.

MR. ROBERTS: Island Pond, or whatever. I do not know the details. I know some of the legal consequences but I do not know the engineering details as he would. There may come an asset, or a situation, where there is an argument as to whether a water area is developed or undeveloped. The words were put in to make it clear that the minister gets the call. Not a court, not a committee - I do not mean a committee of the House - not a committee of new or old Hydro, not a flip of a coin, but the minister. Now, given the apprehensions that members have raised, and we are not trying to be unreasonable, we may disagree on the major thrust of this bill but the House has dealt with the principle of this bill and now we are into the detail. We are going to be moving an amendment at some point in the committee to little (v) on Page 6. It would be 4(2)(a)(v), v for five, the Roman v, to replace the words that are now there with these words which simply carry into effect the principle that I just -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: No, I am not moving it. I am simply saying we are going to be moving it when the time comes. I am dealing with these undeveloped water rights `as determined by the minister' phrase.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: It is on the top of Page 6. We will replace what is there with these words. I do not have copies yet but we will have them on Monday, I guess. We will get them around to people. We will not be debating the bill. My friend for Mount Pearl will be enlightening us on Monday. Undeveloped water rights and where there is a dispute with respect to which water rights are undeveloped: The determination of the minister shall be final and binding on the parties to the dispute, so that will spell out with more precision -

AN HON. MEMBER: It does not change anything.

MR. ROBERTS: My hon. friend says it does not change it. It will spell out with precision what we are asking the House to authorize. I suppose one could say that the minister is still able to say that, I don't know, give me an undeveloped mineral water right not held -

MS. VERGE: Gull Island.

MR. ROBERTS: Gull Island. No, no. The securities of Gull Island, the water rights are owned by Gull Island now, Gull Island Power - GIP Co.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: They are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from Humber East is talking about Gull Island. Let me deal with Gull Island. The water rights to Gull Island are held by Gull Island Power Company Limited, so-called GIP Co. The shares - the hon. woman and I had an exchange earlier where I was perhaps able to explain to her that securities include shares in this context - the shares of Gull Island Power cannot be alienated under this legislation.

Let's take Island Pond, for argument sake, the one that my friend from Mount Pearl suggests. It would still be possible in theory, I guess, for the Minister of Finance to say: That's not undeveloped; that's developed.

MR. WINDSOR: That is not a good example, because the waters (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Alright. Then I withdraw the example, but let me make the point it would still be possible - well, let me take one that nobody, I suspect, will ever want to develop. I will take Pitts Pond, the Terra Nova River in Pitts Pond, where there is 100,000 horsepower potentially available, I have always been told, but will never be developed because it would have a negative impact on the Terra Nova Park. Let's assume there was an argument at the Terra Nova River and the Terra Nova watershed.

If my friends would keep it down just a little, Mr. Chairman, it would be easier on me as well as on them. I thank my friends. I realize that they have no more interest in this than some other people, but I am grateful to them.

Let's suppose the issue came up, was the Terra Nova River developed or undeveloped? It would be open to the Minister of Finance, theoretically, to say: The Terra Nova River is developed; therefore, it is caught by the grant in 4.(1)(a).

Now I can think of no way to address that, other than in the words we have, because that suggestion is founded on the assumption that the Minister of Finance, whoever he may be at the time this deal goes through -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It may well be. There is so much depth on this side there are probably not more than thirty-five MHA's who could be Minister of Finance. The problem is, only one can be minister at any given time.

I will say to my friends opposite that if they have some words that would, in their mind, better serve the purpose and be practical and effective, I am quite prepared to look at them and to talk to the people who have been involved in helping us put this legislation together. We are not trying to perpetrate some kind of scam or some kind of loophole in this or any other clause. We are prepared to stand by the bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring it back to the Legislature.

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry? Bring what back to the Legislature?


MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Bonavista South says bring back changes. I'm not sure - what changes?


MR. ROBERTS: Bring what back to the Legislature?

MR. FITZGERALD: Clause 4. Undeveloped water rights, to determine (inaudible) why can't it be determined by the Legislature?

MR. ROBERTS: I realize - determine what by the Legislature? Whether a given right is developed or undeveloped?


AN HON. MEMBER: No, which rights (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Which rights?

MR. SULLIVAN: He is talking about Roman numeral (v), undeveloped water rights determined by the minister. He is saying undeveloped water rights as determined by the Legislature.

MR. ROBERTS: I want to understand it. What would the House be asked to do? To determine whether Pitts Pond is developed or undeveloped?

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

MR. WINDSOR: I'm sorry. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think there are two ways to read it. I hear what the hon. gentleman is trying to say. It is that undeveloped water rights are undeveloped water rights. Could this not also be read that such "undeveloped water rights as determined by the minister...." In other words, the minister - not arguing what is undeveloped or not undeveloped - but that the minister can decide which undeveloped water rights would be excluded and which ones would be included. That is I think the point that we are making. It is not clear here. An amendment to clarify that would be of much more value than the one the hon. gentleman just talked about.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, in my opinion - now, an opinion is only an opinion. Until the Supreme Court of Canada pronounces, it isn't any more than an opinion. In my opinion the construction that my hon. friend suggests would not be a reasonable one, but I will acknowledge that one can read it that way, and that is why we asked the drafters to put together this amendment. Because the result that is possible but not in my mind likely is not one we would want to allow. So what we have said is to try to address these concerns square on.

Undeveloped water rights, comma. I realize he hasn't got it in front of him but I'm not asking him to (inaudible), I accept that. Undeveloped water rights, comma, and where there is - so what it would read is, in 4(2)(a): "`excluded assets' means", in (4)(2)(a)(v), undeveloped water rights, comma. The comma in this context is important. Undeveloped water rights, comma. And where there is a dispute with respect to which water rights are undeveloped the determination of the minister shall be final and binding on the parties as to the dispute.

So the minister's power would simply be to determine, to designate, whether a given right is developed or undeveloped. Now we think that meets the need and I am not asking my hon. friend to commit one way or the other. He will want to see the amendments and take advice and ponder the matter, and that's fine, but we are trying to address the point, because what we believe as a remote and as an unlikely thing - I have been at this law business long enough to offer no warranties on what a court may do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my friend.

I once had a professor in law school who used to hazard the view with first year students that all litigation, all court work, was unlawful and illegal and criminal. Some kid in the class would bite and say, what do you mean? The professor, who was a very good criminal law professor, would turn up the section of the Criminal Code that prohibits gambling. He says: There, you're not allowed to gamble; therefore you can't go to court.

If somebody can find some better words, we are not consumed with pride of authorship. We have very good drafters. Heaven knows we have enough lawyers on it. To sit down with a committee of lawyers on this is larger than most of the meetings that hon. gentlemen opposite have been able to put together. We are not consumed with pride of authorship. If somebody can find a better way -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I can only agree. This has been a great bonanza for law firms in Newfoundland and the ones on the mainland - no question at all.

MS. VERGE: At our expense.

MR. ROBERTS: At the end of the day, Cape St. Mary's pays for all, my friend from Humber East, just as we all paid the $4 million that she spent with Bennett, Jones in Calgary, which we got value for but which brought no benefit to any lawyer in Newfoundland. We all paid that $4 million, every cent of it. We paid the lawyers she hired, and there were no tenders called. I suspect she simply got the word from the Premier of the day and she said: Yes, sir, yes, Premier, three bags full, and that went on from there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: More than three bags. It was $4 million, probably the largest single -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It was probably the largest single legal bill, the bill we have paid for advice on Hibernia. Now I don't regret a penny of it. I think we got good advice. They are a good firm, but it is a very large bill.

Again, I shouldn't be diverted by these things because we are on serious business.

Anyway, I tried to address the concern raised, if I understood it correctly, by my friend from St. Mary's - The Capes. As I said, we have no false pride of authorship in this bill. We think it is a fairly good piece of work, but there are a number of amendments we will bring forward. Most of them are correcting grammatical errors and so forth, but one of them will be, at the appropriate time, this one I suggested, or just read out to the committee, on the undeveloped water rights thing.

If any member or advisors to members, because there is only one lawyer on the other side - only two of us in the whole House are there? No, three, counting the Premier. Only three lawyers?


MR. ROBERTS: Oh, four. The Speaker is above the fray, or apart from the fray. Out of a House of fifty there are only four lawyers. This is considerable progress - the day may come when there are none.

AN HON. MEMBER: Five lawyers.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, I am sorry, my friend from St. John's. I have to admit I don't often think of him as a lawyer, I think of him instead as a tribune of the people, a voice of the intellectual left.

MR. SULLIVAN: Don't say you (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, no. The Member for St. John's South, I say to my friend, the Member for Ferryland, may have been admitted to the bar but he wasn't called to the bar.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are called down.

MR. ROBERTS: We lawyers are called down, as may be the case. I believe we lawyers are called to the Bar and we are enrolled as solicitors. In any event, this is a little away from the bill. I tried to address what I understand to be a concern raised by my friend, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. I may have gone a little beyond my time.

Mr. Chairman, it is about five to noon.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Your time has elapsed.

MR. ROBERTS: If I may have just a second. The plan is to adjourn at noon. If somebody on the other side would like to speak for the three or four minutes, by all means.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Justice was certainly making some interesting comments as it relates to the bill, and let me say to him that I am not surprised that government is bringing in `several amendments', I think, were his words, to this piece of legislation. I am sure that most people in the Province wouldn't be surprised by that, because of what is taking place and the concerns that are being expressed over this piece of legislation.

I want to say that I find it rather interesting, as well, not because the Minister of Justice is taking a lead role in putting this piece of legislation before the House, but because the Minister of Mines and Energy, who is not here again, Mr. Chairman. The Minister of Mines and Energy has been very, very silent in this debate. The Minister of Justice and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations are the two lead -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It is the Premier's bill.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I know that, it is the Premier's bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He has only been here three or four days.

MR. TOBIN: That is true. I am somewhat surprised that the Minister of Mines and Energy hasn't really spoken on this, Mr. Chairman, and I am not surprised after what the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture said to the Liberal Convention in Gander, that he hasn't spoken. I understand his comments will be conveyed, at the appropriate time, to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In any case, let me say to the minister, as it relates to clause 2, that we, too, have some amendments we would like to move.

The first amendment, Mr. Chairman, that I move, seconded by my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank, is that, in paragraph (a) in subsection 2.(i) be amended by deleting the words `of every kind' in line 1; and the words: `and waters, water rights, water powers' in line 5, be deleted, as well, Mr. Chairman, as it relates to clause 1 - and as I have said, moved by myself and seconded by -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Give him a copy and just adjourn the debate now.

MR. TOBIN: Okay, then, Mr. Chairman, if the leader so wishes, I ask Your Honour that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, I want to thank my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West and I would repeat his motion; I suspect all members of the Committee will agree to it; I will say to the Committee that if the Clerk would be kind enough to let me have a copy when the House rises, I will ensure that we look at the amendment with a view to seeing whether it is possible to accept it or not.

Let me say on that point, I would suspect my friends opposite, Mr. Chairman and - I am watching the clock very carefully because we don't want to be back here this afternoon, none of us wants to be here this afternoon - that my hon. friends opposite may have a significant number of amendments. Let me say to them quite straightforwardly, that we are prepared to look at them on their merits but, to do that, I would ask them if they would let me have them now or this afternoon, because we have to look at them. If they prefer not to, I have no quarrel with that, but I will say that there is no possibility the amendment would be accepted to this bill unless we have had time to consider it and consult with the drafters.

It is not a matter of playing games - this bill has been very carefully crafted, and if it is going to be changed, it has to be changed in an orderly fashion, so if hon. members opposite wish to let me have the amendments, I will undertake to raise them with those who are working with us on this and get, you know - this is the way we can deal with it, otherwise, we shall have to deal with them other than on their merits, and I can tell my hon. friends, there will be no amendment accepted in Committee that we have not had a chance to study, for obvious reasons. I don't say that as any kind of threat, I simply say it as a matter of statement of fact, but we will -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I accept that and I will have an answer on it when next we come back to this, I will have an answer for my hon. friend, there is no problem with that, and I will let him know where we stand and why. But if there are more amendments, let us have them so I can deal with them, otherwise, I will have to deal with them or my friend, the Minister of Mines and Energy will -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Do we agree to stop the clock?

MR. ROBERTS: I agree, yes.

- or the Premier, whoever is here, will have to deal with them without the benefit of being able to take advice from our Counsel. We are not hung up on wording; we are hung up on trying to get the bill right.

With that said, Your Honour, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report some progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at two o'clock. In doing that, may I remind members that Monday will be a regular business day with Question Period and all that. When we get on through the routine things, Orders of the Day, we shall deal with motion 1 on today's Order Paper, the Ways and Means motion on the raising of supply, which will be the Budget Debate, and I understand my friend, the Member for Mount Pearl will speak and that we will accommodate - I'm sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Speak for a few minutes, I understand, and look forward to it. I expect to here for most of his remarks, not all of them. I will be within ear shot. We will sit whatever time is needed to accommodate my hon. friend and I understand we'll take a brief supper break by unanimous consent at Monday - refreshment break or a disbursement break, as may be the case.

With that said, Your Honour, I move the House do now adjourn.

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