March 23, 1994              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 18

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the galleries fifteen students from the Swift Current Integrated School, Bellevue district, accompanied by their teacher, Cyril Rogers, and Pastor Alvin Peddle.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I would also like to welcome two Improving Our Odds classes, one from St. Bride's, eighteen students with their co-facilitators, David Eddy and Caroline Pike, and the second group from the districts of Trinity - Bay de Verde and Bellevue, accompanied by their instructors, John Cumby and George Brown.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I would also like to welcome Mr. Ewart Hall from Musgravetown, from the community district.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions for the Premier. While the Premier was away in Toronto on March 15, eight days ago, I asked in the House of his Minister of Mines and Energy, if the government, in fact, was planning to ask or give New Hydro the management responsibility for the operation of CF(L) Co. The minister said, no, that CF(L) Co. would continue to be managed by Old Hydro. I guess maybe the minister might have been following the Premier's instructions, which he admitted last night, to hide the truth about the deal from the Legislature and from the people. Yesterday evening, C.B.C.'s Here And Now quoted the Premier as saying that New Hydro would take over management responsibility for the operation of CF(L) Co., the Churchill Falls Labrador Corporation. So, if that is true and the Premier was correctly quoted, can I ask him how much New Hydro will be paid to manage CF(L) Co. and where will that money come from? Will it come from the profits of CF(L) Co., which are quickly and rapidly going broke or will it be charged out to the electrical ratepayers of the Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, from what I heard of the comments of the hon. member, there are a great deal of inaccuracies in it. What I did say to the media in a scrum yesterday is that to the best of my knowledge - I don't know the detail of it at the moment, but to the best of my knowledge, what is being looked at by the people concerned is the best and most efficient way to manage CF(L) Co. after privatization of Hydro. It will remain a Crown corporation, 65 per cent-owned by this Province, 35 per cent-owned by Quebec, so in total it is only owned by the two governments, in effect, of the two provinces, and the question is, which is the best way to manage it?

Now, essentially, the Board of Directors of CF(L)Co have to make that decision - the Board of Directors of CF(L)Co will make that decision. One possibility is to enter into a contract with Hydro to continue to provide some or all of the services they provided in the past; that may or may not be the case, those things are not yet finalized, to the best of my knowledge; I was simply being frank with the reporters who asked me questions. As far as I know, that's under consideration. I don't know what the final outcome will be. It will be subject to the decision of the Board of Directors, but don't forget, it is not just nominees of the Government of Newfoundland on that board, there are also nominees of Hydro Quebec on the board, so the decision can only be made by the Board of Directors in the end. But what they will be looking at is putting forward the proposal that would be most cost-effective and most efficient in terms of managing CF(L)Co.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to get this clear now. The Premier did not say last night or did not suggest last night that New Hydro would take over management responsibility for the operation of CF(L)Co, is that correct?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: That's correct. What I did say is one possibility that they are looking at is asking New Hydro to contract some of the services, that's only one possibility; I don't know what they will decide. They are looking at that as a possibility that they would contract with New Hydro to continue to provide certain services, certain management services.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There certainly seems to be some confusion between what the minister had said in the House back on the 15th, as I said, at least from my understanding of it, and what was reported last night; but let me move on.

In that Here And Now story last night, the report also said that: Hydro Quebec expected the private owners of New Hydro would play a major role in future negotiations for development of the Lower Churchill. The Premier, I believe, came on and said they were barking up the wrong tree or something along those lines, I am not quite sure what his quote was. But in this new atmosphere of truth and honesty, since there is no New Hydro yet, and since Hydro Quebec obviously didn't dream this up, isn't it true, they must have gotten that expectation from you or your government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Absolutely not. I don't know why Hydro Quebec would say that. All I can suggest is that you speak with them. Maybe they are thinking in terms possibly of New Hydro having some contract in terms of providing management services. I don't know on what basis Hydro Quebec would make that statement, you would have to ask them, but I say to the House, at whatever time in the future, negotiations with Hydro Quebec or the Province of Quebec are restarted, the government will, at that time, make the decision as to how and by whom those negotiations will be carried on.

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

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Maybe we will take the Premier's advice and we will call Hydro Quebec, or maybe some enterprising young journalist or reporter will ask. I would like to know where they got that impression. In any event, let me ask him another question on a related issue, I guess.

It now seems, from everything we have heard, that new Hydro will have - well, if what the report is, that new Hydro may very well - may very well - as he said himself, it's a possibility, management control of CF(L)Co and maybe some other Labrador properties. He just admitted that was a possibility. He is shaking his head.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's an option.

MR. SIMMS: An option. He said it was an option, so if that is the case, then that new company would have all the technical expertise that the government would need to rely on for future development, so wouldn't New Hydro, in fact, be the new BRINCO, calling the shots on both the Lower Churchill and the Upper Churchill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It's hard to believe that they could so convolute things to come to those - it's hard to imagine.

I didn't say New Hydro would have management control, or could have management control. What I said was one possibility. The Board of Directors are going to be in control of CF(L)Co. The Government of this Province nominates the Board of Directors, and one would hope that if we nominate the Board of Directors, they would follow the basic policy guidelines in terms of managing the company, subject to their obligation always to protect the basic interest of the company, that they would follow the basic policy guidelines that are acceptable to this government, otherwise, we can remove and replace any director at any time. So I don't have any quarrel with that proposition.

I think 70 per cent or 75 per cent of the board are nominees of this government, and the Quebec nominees have been working diligently and faithfully with the Board of Directors to work well to make the company work well, so I have no problem with that. It is the Board of Directors that will manage CF(L)Co in the future.

I didn't suggest for a moment that New Hydro would have management control. That's the hon. member's interpretation of it. What I said was one possibility is that they would enter into a contract with New Hydro to provide certain of the services that they are providing now. That is a possibility, but control remains with the Board of Directors, and will continue to remain with the Board of Directors.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, when the Premier suggests its hard to believe us when we say something that is really a mouthful coming from the Premier after his admission last night on Province-wide television. Let me test the boundaries of the new honesty approach once again. I would like him to answer this question directly. I hope he will listen to it because I know how he loves to play with words, and how good he is with words. I want to ask him a specific question, and listen to the wording of the question, because I know he likes to do that. Will new Hydro, or Newfoundland Power, be permitted to buy shares in any of the existing Labrador power corporations including LCDC or in any other company that might be set up to develop the Lower Churchill in the future?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: We have never given it a moment's thought, Mr. Speaker. It has never been considered. At the moment the company that set up to develop Lower Churchill is LCDC, the Lower Churchill Development Corporation, 49 per cent owned by the Government of Canada and 51 per cent owned by the government of this Province. Now, I can only say to you that the government of this Province has never considered for a moment selling any portion of its shares in LCDC to a private development corporation. I cannot say what the Government of Canada may or may not have done, but my recollection of the terms of the agreement are that they could not do it without the consent of the Government of Newfoundland because I believe the Government of Newfoundland has the option to purchase those shares in certain circumstances. I would have to go back and look at it, but I think it is the Government of Newfoundland who has the option to purchase the shares from the Government of Canada. As far as the Government of Newfoundland is concerned I can only say to you that the government of this Province has never considered it.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the government has brought in, we are told by the Minister of Mines and Energy publicly, the Rothschilds to advise on the Hydro sale. Now, they were the great benefactors who delivered the Upper Churchill contract that was accepted by the Smallwood Cabinet, the Cabinet in which the Premier served, and now we are again dealing with the same people who gave away the Upper Churchill. Is It any wonder, I say to the Premier, why people want to know what is going on behind closed doors. Last night he admitted there was something going on that he would not tell us before, but does he really think that the people of this Province, hearing those kind of things, can be manipulated in believing that the Hydro sale is anything more than another BRINCO, a massive give-away of our natural resources on the Upper Churchill, and the Lower Churchill?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: If the member could apply those kinds of principles to the laws of physics he could jump to the moon. It is so unrelated and so totally removed that it is all utter nonsense, and when he speaks of manipulation what he is clearly doing is manipulating the whole situation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, manipulating the whole situation to try and promote the political interests of the party he represents. He is putting the interests of the people of this Province so far behind him that they bear no relationship to them at all.

Mr. Speaker, a number of financial advisors have been involved in terms of the advising on the privatization process. First we consulted, and Hydro consulted, the Province's financial agents. The Minister of Finance can correct me if I'm wrong - RBC Dominion Securities and ScotiaMcLeod. They are the financial agents of the Province. I don't think that we appointed them. I believe the former government did. I believe. I'm not really sure of that, but I believe it was the former government, and I believe we continued with it. In any event they have for years been the financial advisors of the Province. They were also the financial advisors of Hydro. Who better to advise on these matters and the advisability of it than the financial advisors of both the Province and the Hydro corporation? They provided most of the advice. They were engaged by Hydro to provide the initial advice to the Hydro corporation and they did.

You go along a certain way and once you start on the path to privatization there comes a point in time when the interest of the Hydro corporation and the interest of the provincial government can be different. So if you've got advisors advising the Hydro corporation, we want to make sure that we have independent advice for the government. We looked at what happened in Nova Scotia. In Nova Scotia the power commission in Nova Scotia had engaged RBC Dominion Securities and ScotiaMcLeod, the same two, to advise the Nova Scotia Power Commission.

When they got to a certain point they realized that they needed independent advice for government just to make sure that there would be no question about it. Who did they look to? They looked to Rothschild Bank of Canada, or Rothschild Canada. I forget what they are called. That is who they looked to. They are familiar with providing this kind of advice to government. They just got through giving it to the Government of Nova Scotia.

When the government of this Province wants somebody, who would we look for? Rothschilds is an obvious one to choose. It is a very simple explanation. Besides, Mr. Speaker, they are a highly reputable company and one very capable of giving this advice. They gave advice I think on PetroCanada to the Government of Canada.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier as well. Last night on the Province-wide address the Premier confessed that he made a deliberate decision to hide the real reason for the sale of Hydro from the Legislature and from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, he even admitted that he had forced his Cabinet and back-benchers to participate in a deliberate conspiracy to deceive the House and the people.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, are his ministers and his back-benchers now permitted to tell this House, and their constituents, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, regarding the Hydro deal?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, no member of the Cabinet, or no member of the back bench, deceived anybody in this Province; nobody did.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I didn't deceive them either, but I admit that for what I thought at the time was good reason, my view of it now is that we ought to have followed a different course, that it was an error on my part, and I have readily admitted that, but I wanted to avoid some of the kinds of statements that we have been hearing since about the Upper Churchill and Hydro Quebec. I wanted to avoid those kinds of passionate, emotionally charged claims and statements in the House that many of the members opposite made during the earlier debates when there was an attempt to deal with the problem. I wanted to avoid that.

Now I have explained to the people of the Province that that was the sole reason. I don't want that to continue. I want people to realize that the sole purpose of this legislation is not to set aside the Upper Churchill contract, or gain recompense because of the terrible Upper Churchill contract. The purpose of this combined (inaudible) is to enable us to provide for the proper management of the electrical power resources so as to give us priority access to what we need. We don't pretend for a moment that by this contract you are going to get redress, or by this legislation you are going to get redress of the Upper Churchill problem. It has nothing to do with that. The Upper Churchill contract will continue on.

What this legislation will do is put in place transparent, clear, objective, independent, management regime of the hydro power resources of this Province to enable distribution companies to get access to the power that we need to meet our own demand.

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

MR. TOBIN: It is somewhat of a contradiction, I say to the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, last night the Premier asked the people of the Province to forgive him for misleading them. Is he now prepared to ask them for more than forgiveness? Will he ask them directly for their views on the privatization of Hydro? Will he give them a voice? Will you, Mr. Premier, see that this legislation is set aside and allow a committee of this Legislature to hold public hearings throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I didn't ask the people of this Province to forgive me for misleading them, because I didn't mislead them. I told the people of the Province exactly what occurred. I didn't mislead them.

MR. SIMMS: You just didn't tell them the truth.

PREMIER WELLS: I didn't explain fully that there was an additional value to this legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That's quite correct.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I answered it honestly. When the hon. member raised the question in the Legislature, I said: Yes, it applies to all power in the Province, no exception. We are not exempting Kruger; we are not exempting Abitibi; there is no reason to exempt the Upper Churchill.

Those were my words. The member wasn't the only one. There were one or two other members. I think the Member for Burin - Placentia West was looking and nodding sagely, and I think he understood. I think he was perhaps the only one over there who really fully understood the import of the legislation, or at least observing him in his place that is the conclusion to which I came, although I suspect the Member for Mount Pearl had a pretty good understanding of it, too. I think I would have to say that.

Mr. Speaker, I didn't ask the people of the Province to forgive me for misleading anybody. I explained the circumstances, and now I am asking members of the House to put the interest of the people of this Province first and foremost, and help the government proceed in an orderly way to the proper passage of this total legislation in order to promote the best interest of this Province, both from an economic and financial point of view and from a point of view of managing the long-term hydroelectric interests of the people of the Province.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I noticed he avoided the answer regarding public hearings but let me ask him this question -

PREMIER WELLS: The answer is no.


MR. TOBIN: Well then, Mr. Speaker, if he's not going to have -

MR. SIMMS: I hope Hansard recorded the answer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I can't hear the hon. member.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, since the Premier has now stated that he will not have public hearings in this Province, let me ask him: since the member's of his government, Mr. Speaker, and his back-benchers, with the exception of one, acted on his instructions and misled their constituents and the people of this Province, will the Premier, Mr. Speaker, as he -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: Since government members, Mr. Speaker, particularly the Cabinet members, acted on the Premier's instructions to mislead their constituents and the people of this Province: will the Premier, as his own act of penance, now allow them to listen to their constituents and to vote on the bill the way their constituents want them to vote? Will he, Mr. Speaker, allow a free vote in the legislature?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the members of this Caucus, with the exception of the one member who has already expressed his opinion, are as one on this issue and I can speak for all of them in the House without a moments hesitation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: So nobody needs to go through this grand standing that's being done. They are prepared to take this raving and ranting that you get from the Opposition, this misleading representations that the Opposition has been making to the people of the Province, the deliberate attempt to distort the full circumstance to the people of this Province. They are prepared to recognize that and, Mr. Speaker, they are determined to support this legislation because they know that it's in the best long-term interest of the people of this Province and they've expressed that without doubt.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. In a ministerial statement yesterday the minister announced that the federal government was still interested in the Income Supplementation Program. The minister went on to say that a team of provincial and federal officials have been established to look at the concepts developed there. I ask the minister, can he tell the House when that team of provincial and federal officials was established? Are they working under any time frames and what is the deadline for that team to report back to their respective governments?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We did feel it was important yesterday to update everybody in the Province as to what exactly the situation is with the Income Supplementation Proposal. That was the purpose of the statement, I think well served. These groups have not started working at this point in terms of actual meetings. They have agreed that there are twelve different elements - I spelled out in the statement yesterday - that need further work and discussion in terms of whether or not the components of the Income Supplementation Proposal, as released publicly in the Province before Christmas, could be implemented.

The statement yesterday also indicated that there is no prospect that that can be implemented in this year but that as part of the two year process, the federal government is asking everybody in the country to participate in, some work and the notions that were spelled out in the Income Supplementation Proposal of shifting dramatically from a system whereby people have clear disincentives - in terms of whether or not they go out and better themselves because they might lose some current benefit - to a system where there will be a maintenance of benefits that people need to maintain their family incomes and therefore be encouraged to get any other money that they can to a certain point until they can go beyond the point of dependence, that there are a whole bunch of elements that were in that proposal because it was very comprehensive, it was a major reform, it was not just a tinkering of the current system.

The federal government has asked us over the next two years to look at these components, to look at the details of how they might be integrated countrywide as part of a national program. That's what was spelled out in the statement yesterday, that those working groups will work over the next period of time. Some of them have had a preliminary meeting or two but they're not down to any specific details at this point in time on any of them, other than the fact that the issue is still being proceeded with and will be within the time frame of the two year review.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister knows full well, and the Premier knows full well, that the Income Supplementation Program and the implementation of it in this Province will be socially sensitive and will radically change the social assistance to people in this Province. Let me ask the minister this. He indicated yesterday that there were twelve elements that the federal and provincial officials were looking at. Will the minister table what those twelve elements are and how much work has been done on them so that all the people in this Province and all the members in this House can have an opportunity to look at it and be part of this discussion?

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I can check and see actually what it is. I guess the reference to the twelve elements talks about a work plan and it identifies twelve areas where further work review and study is necessary and will be done some time in the next year or two to decide whether or not these kinds of things should form the part of the overall social security reform for the country, including Newfoundland and Labrador. As soon as I can get someone in the office to compile that list we have no hesitation in presenting that publicly to let everybody know exactly what the issues are. Some of them are legal, some are financial, some are just administrative, but there is a series of issues that need further work.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Finally, in the minister's statement yesterday, Mr. Speaker, he alluded to the possibility of federal and provincial - the team, or the federal and provincial governments - would be looking at sponsoring public hearings in this Province on the implementation of the concept or concepts contained in an income supplementation program. Can the minister confirm today that public hearings or public consultation will take place? Can he confirm when those public consultations will take place with the people of this Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, just to point out, one correction is necessary, I think. There was nothing in the statement about hearings about implementation. Because as I pointed out we are nowhere close to implementation. We are a year or more down the road. If I read it again, the statement talks about the possibility of joint parliamentary hearings as a way of ensuring effective consultation with the people of the Province on both the broad social security reform agenda and the ISP proposal. There is no reference to talking about implementation.

We will be notified as to when the federal parliamentary group is going to visit this Province to discuss the issues generally of social security reform in the country. What we've agreed to do provincially is rather than have a group of provincial parliamentarians, legislators, go around separately, that we would ask - in all likelihood it would be an all party committee of the House - that members from both sides of this House would join the federal parliamentary group, which are from both sides of their House, so that -


MR. GRIMES: That is the plan that we've agreed to with the federal government. They will notify us as to when they plan to visit Newfoundland. We will give notification and decide on which people that the different parties represented here would like to have join that group. So that we can engage in the general discussion on social security reform and also provide an opportunity for anyone who wants to address any particular concerns about the income supplementation proposal as part of that same process.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, my questions today are for the Minister of Fisheries. We understand that the provincial government is involved with consultations with the federal government with regards to the new fisheries compensation package due on May 15. I've had several enquiries from my district over the past week or so concerning an idea that whole communities may be taken off NCARP for some reason or other. Mr. Minister, is there any reason why people should have this concern?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the whole matter of NCARP II is now a matter of discussion between the federal and provincial governments and people in the industry and the unions. There has been nothing firmed up yet but I expect it soon will be firmed up, at which time I'm sure the appropriate announcements will be made.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, a few days ago there was a story in The Evening Telegram concerning the classification of bona fide fishermen. I was wondering if the minister has any idea what the government's proposal is in this regard.

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

MR. CARTER: I'm not sure I understood the question, Mr. Speaker. The classification of -

MR. MANNING: Bona fide fishermen.

MR. CARTER: Bona fide fishermen. Again, that is a matter that is the subject of discussion, Mr. Speaker, and at the appropriate time there will be announcements made on it.

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

MR. MANNING: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. I wonder if the minister would be able to tell us if there have been any discussions concerning people training outside the fishery. If they so desire to train outside the fishery, will they definitely not be allowed back, either in the processing or as a licensed fisherperson?

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the matter of training too, is a subject that is now being discussed between both governments and people in the industry and other stakeholders, and at the appropriate time there will be announcements made on it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier and it concerns the Electrical Power Control Act. Under that act, despite the Premier's assurances that no one could own more than 20 per cent of the new Hydro corporation, the Public Utilities Board is given the power under section 23 to allow an owner, a single person or corporation to hold more than 20 per cent of the voting shares of a corporation without any guidelines being given to the Public Utilities Board as to how to determine that issue. Would the Premier confirm that, in fact, the Public Utilities Board will be allowed to let the new Hydro corporation be controlled by more than 20 per cent of a single shareholder as long as the Public Utilities Board considers that it is in the public interest?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The answer is contained in subsection 4 of the section to which the hon. member referred, here is what it says: An application for leave under this section shall be made to the Public Utilities Board, which may hold a public hearing to decide the proposed acquisition, holding or beneficial ownership is not in the public interest and may prescribe such terms and conditions in respect of the proposed acquisition, holding or beneficial ownership as it may determine and if the Public Utilities Board decides that the proposed acquisition, holding or beneficial ownership is not in the public interest, the Public Utilities Board shall disallow. So there is only one criteria, is it in the public interest?... and if it's in the public interest, then why wouldn't the Public Utilities Board, after an open public hearing, where everybody who has wanted to, has an opportunity to make whatever representation they want –

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) public hearings.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Public Utilities Board holds public hearings boy.

PREMIER WELLS: - which may hold a public hearing, yes that's right, so they hold a public hearing and they make a decision. Now in the end, Mr. Speaker, in the end, there is a safeguard because if they don't hold a public hearing the government can always disallow it anyway, so there is a safeguard there.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.


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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, I rise to present a petition from the people of the district of Placentia, at one particular meeting, on the 13th. The prayer of the petition, I will condense to: `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, after watching the Premier last night - lots of times, being over here, I try to be as fair as possible and I try to take the Newfoundland side, one side or the other. Last night, with as little bias as I could, I watched the half-hour play, and certainly, more so than ever, I think that people have to be consulted, because the Premier just didn't come across properly to the people of this Province, last night. The sale of Hydro or any talk about Hydro should be put to the people of this Province in meetings in public places throughout this Province. What the Premier was trying to explain did not come across. People have called me and asked: What he was on for?

Well, we have heard this for weeks and weeks. He was the man who had the most information at his disposal - we had to dig up our information, we had to obtain it from various sources. But we are attuned to what the people of this Province want, and they want public hearings. They want public hearings on this valuable asset and are not going to stop until they get them. The people of this Province are not taking no for an answer, nor should they. They are the people who elect the people of this Legislative body and they are entitled to public hearings on what affects them.

Thank you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for Placentia, the petition against the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, government has been giving many reasons why it is in the best interest of this Province to privatize Newfoundland Hydro, and they attempted to tell the people of the Province when they submitted this little pamphlet to the people last week. Some of the reasons being given don't hold any financial argument whatsoever, and even a person who sits on the team that rates the credit rating of this Province, in an address to On The Go, refuted the statement that our debt will be affected. In fact, it is contingent and it is not on the direct debt of this Province and the credit rating agency has stated so. The debt is not included in our estimates in total on this Province. In fact, Stephen Defoe, in his statement, stated that it possibly could have a marginal increase or actually a negative effect on the credit rating of this Province. They are not in a position to be able to make those statements at this point in time. It depends on the concessions and taxes that are given to those new companies. It could affect it and it could drive down our credit rating. He made a statement, in another paragraph: It is possible there could be a marginal positive effect - he stated that. It would be premature and improper for that person to state, and he has indicated it has never been a consideration, and I say it has never been a consideration in the past in setting the credit rating for this Province. And he cannot speculate on the future any more than you, I, or anybody else can speculate definitively on what is going to happen in the future.

As it stands now, it is having no effect on the credit rating and is not an argument in favour of privatizing Newfoundland Hydro. It simply is not. And if you think it is going to strengthen the economy of this Province by giving an monopoly with guaranteed rates of return, who do you think you are kidding? This company is regulated under the Public Utilities Board. In fact, it will negatively affect the taxpayers and the ratepayers in this Province. I have addressed many of these points and I will do it again in future debate when there is more time to address each of these specifically. It will have a direct negative impact on the taxpayers of this Province.


MR. SULLIVAN: How? Number one, we are going to take, from the taxpayer, now, not the ratepayer - and put $15 million into a rate adjustment fund. We are going to give back to Newfoundland Power the $9 million to $10 million we have been getting back from the Federal Government in federal corporate income tax, and the Premier states we are going to get provincial tax to compensate; but also what we are doing is giving up the 85 per cent of the corporate income tax of New Hydro.

The Premier admits, in his closed meetings with the media, that it is $30 million we are giving up in tax concessions on the corporate federal income tax. He has admitted $30 million.

MR. SIMMS: Those are his numbers.

MR. SULLIVAN: Those are his numbers. That is the minimum number, when he gives numbers, and by his admission, or by his confession, to the people of the Province, he declared last night that we was wrong, he misled, he told his people not to give the real reasons. Why?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Covered up.

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right. He said he stymied his Cabinet and back-benchers by not telling the whole story. That is what he stated.

He said, it will provide cash for this Province. No doubt about it! When you sell a company for $500 million, or whatever you get, it is going to reduce your borrowing, and possibly save - his figure is $25 million. I will accept that fact, but when you put your rate adjustment, your concessions to the company, when you look at the cost of the unfunded liability that we will have to face at some point in time, that we have made a decision to charge it out to the taxpayers right now, and amortize over five years, that is going to cost about $100 million; when you take, and I will address these, when you take your fifteen years and amortize the unfunded portion of $25 million to $30 million, you are paying the actuarial rate of return, not the borrowing rate of return on that, and amortized over fifteen years is going to cost an average of $7 million per year, and that is out of the taxpayers, if the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation wants to know.

Not only those areas, it is obligatory for the Utilities to give the investors in New Hydro a reasonable rate of return on their dollars. That is expected; they deserve it, as investors. It is going to cost the taxpayers of this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present a petition on behalf of fifty-three people of my district, in the community of St. Mary's. I will read the prayer of the petition:

`To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland, in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

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, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.'

Mr. Speaker, I am glad today to have the opportunity to stand and present this petition on behalf of the people of my district, especially last night after the Premier addressed the Province. I had several calls from my district concerning the address, and people asking more questions than ever. One of my callers said to me that it reminded him of a song that was popular back in the sixties, Shake, Rattle and Roll. So I guess some people are still as concerned today, or cannot understand some of this as much as they did yesterday.

It seems that a major concern of the people that I have been talking to concerns the water rights, and the possibility that somewhere down the road the Minister of Finance would have the right to give away any undeveloped water rights in the Province. This is a major concern because of I guess what happened with Upper Churchill back in the 1960s. People are concerned that one person would have this much control. Without coming back to this Legislature, without coming back to the House of Assembly, without coming back to the people of this Province, one person can give away the water rights on the Lower Churchill. This is a big concern.

MR. EFFORD: Oh, oh!

MR. MANNING: I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I refer back to an Evening Telegram article on March 10, where he said, I quote: I want to be part of something positive happening in this Province. I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if you want to be part of something positive you shouldn't be part of what they are doing to Hydro.

I'm also concerned - under the act - about the phasing out of subsidies for rural electricity users by December of 1999. My district is 100 per cent rural. Back when this government decided to phase out the $30 million power distribution district subsidy electrical rates doubled and tripled in parts of rural Newfoundland. I believe that under the legislation they are bringing forward now they will only increase again, and this is a big concern for people out in my district, and I'm sure all parts of rural Newfoundland, that are having trouble now to keep ahead of the electricity bills that they are getting these days. Especially under the hard economic times that most people are going through.

I also have a concern about exactly who is going to be buying the shares in the new Hydro. There may be some people able to buy the shares in the new Hydro, Mr. Speaker, but I guarantee you that the thousands of people who are receiving fisheries compensation in this Province, and the thousands of people who are on social assistance, and the thousands of people who are on fixed incomes and low incomes, won't be buying shares in new Hydro. They are having a job to keep the food on the table. They are having a job to keep their children fed and put off to school. I guarantee you they won't be buying shares.

I'm also concerned about the Premier's admission today that we won't have any public hearings. I mean, the Government House Leader said a few weeks ago in this House that this was one of the most important pieces of legislation ever brought forward in this House since Confederation. I believe that the people should have a voice, as the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West put forward today, that they should have a voice on this legislation. That this government should go out and hold public hearings and hear what the people have to say. I also believe that many members on the other side of the House are receiving calls from their districts, are receiving concerns from their districts, and that they should go out and hold public hearings and let the people of their districts have a say.

We talked about a free vote in the House as the hon. member put forward also. People can vote with their conscience. They can vote on the input that they have received from their districts instead of voting on government policy. I think that would be at least a step in the right direction for this government to give the members in the back benches and in the Cabinet a right to vote with their conscience. I believe if they voted with their conscience that they would defeat this piece of legislation that is coming forward in the House to us.

I also want to touch on the fact of - we talked about what happened over in Nova Scotia. They said that there would be no jobs lost with the privatization of Nova Scotia power, but there was. There were around 400 jobs lost in Nova Scotia due to the privatization of Nova Scotia power, and maybe more yet to come. Their credit rating has deteriorated, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would rise to support the petition presented by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. Those petitioners are asking for a referendum on the issue. I guess the reason that they are calling for a referendum is because they are concerned that the government is not going to hold public hearings. When I asked my question in the House today of the Premier about the issue that the Premier has made a big deal about, that nobody can hold more than 20 per cent of the shares, he said that the Public Utilities Board would decide whether it was in the public interest or not, and they would hold hearings. They would hold hearings and hear arguments back and forth.

If the Premier thinks that public hearings are such a good idea for the Public Utilities Board to decide on one issue which he has been bragging about, i.e., that there is going to be only 20 per cent ownership and that the Public Utilities Board can increase that to 100 per cent if it sees it in the public interest, why isn't he prepared to hold public hearings about the very more important issue as to whether or not there should be privatization at all?

No wonder people are calling for referendums because they think that the government is about to advocate its own concern for the public interest by passing it over to private enterprise. By passing it over to a patronage appointed Public Utilities Board, by passing it away from the people of this Province through their elected representatives, and giving it to somebody else. The public interest of this Province should be determined in this place, in this House of Assembly, by people elected by the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador.

That is where the public interest ought to be governed, Mr. Speaker, not in a Public Utilities Board that's appointed by a government that has no responsibility to the people directly. The people who have that responsibility are the ones who are elected every four years or so and sitting in this House.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we've heard an awful lot about the pros and cons of the Hydro issue from some of the debates here in the House but the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to the extent that they've had their say - I know the members opposite don't get any more then two phone calls each because they must have a quota on long distance phone calls but for some reason these same people are able to get through to nineteen members over here in great numbers, Mr. Speaker, and seventy-five people phoned the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation this morning. I find it hard to believe, Mr. Speaker, that before nine o'clock this morning you've got seventy-five people phoning the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. If they did they were probably phoning with howls of derision about the position taken by the Premier last night, that there's something else on the go and that he couldn't really tell us all about it.

Mr. Speaker, the public interest in this issue demands that there be public hearings on the issue, demands that there be, if not public hearings, the kind of testing of the waters that the petitioners of St. Mary's - The Capes are asking for because, Mr. Speaker, the government is about to pass over any decision making about the public interests to the private owners of the new Hydro Corporation whose only interest is the bottom line on their shares, the value of their shares and the maximization of profits at our expense and to the Public Utilities Board which is going to be allowed to determine the public interest and the public interest should be determined right here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition on behalf of 130 people from the District of St. Barbe expressing their opposition to the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, the members of this House are not too eager to look at the real costs to the taxpayers and ratepayers of this Province. You don't have to be a genius to realize that when you take a company that only has a 5 to 8 per cent profit and turn it over to a company that's allowed to make 13.74 per cent there is going to be a higher degree of profit - not considering that you are going to take the costs associated with the sale of shares, $15-$20 million, the costs associated with the transfer of debt, $15-$20 million, all the costs associated, legal fees and others, with the defeasance over the five year and the long-term defeasance, the two different defeasance agreements, and look at who is going to pay.

The Premier sends out to this Province - well Hydro he indicated - and spending over $100,000 to do a promotion and the people are getting one flow of communication, from TV and from the mail out, they are not permitted an opportunity - and he stated last night on TV and he stated to the media in his closed session - the figures are in his media presentation and I would like to take them and look at the Premier's own figures he presented and let you know that on 700 kilowatt hours you are going to increase a dollar twenty-five a month. Now fifteen dollars a year on a forty-five dollar light bill is only, I believe, $6.54 per kilowatt hour times 700 kilowatt hours, if you look at your light bill it's forty-five dollars. How many people really burn only forty-five dollars worth of electricity in this Province? What about the people who are going to burn - and I've indicated I have my bill from last month at home, 5384 kilowatt hours? How about the people who burn forty, thirty and twenty?

The elderly people cannot afford to supplement it with wood, they have electric heat. The people don't have these opportunities. Now you will look back and everybody here will curse this privatization bill in fifteen, five and maybe two year's time. All the members are hiding behind the skirts of the Premier, except one, and they are afraid to have the truth go out to the people in the Province, that's what's happening.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: And I tell the Member for St. John's South, I've said in this House I'll debate you in public or anybody on that side, on the costs to the ratepayers and taxpayers in this Province. The facts are there, you turn it over to a utility and guaranteeing a rate on a company that is operating now, there is only one way the ratepayer can benefit, and that is if Newfoundland Hydro is operating now - it's terrible management, a very poorly managed company - if they were, that's the only possible way we can achieve a certain savings to the ratepayers and taxpayers of this Province.

On top of that, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, we are giving up our $10 million fee for guaranteeing the debt on top of the $15 million rate adjustment, on top of the $30 million unfunded liability we are assuming right now and we are charging it out - as soon as this agreement goes through, if it ever goes through, it would be charged out immediately to the taxpayers of this Province - that, I say, is what's happening. Along with giving back to Newfoundland Power the $9.2 million we got this year, we are giving it back for every future year and another $25 million to $30 million to the New Hydro in tax concessions. That's directly to the taxpayers of this Province, not considering the cost to the ratepayers, and granted yes, the ratepayers will get a little benefit from the concessions, of course, because if they don't get a break on the rate, it is going to be charged out to the ratepayers if they don't get a concession to the taxpayer.

There are so many dollars to go around but, we have incurred on top of that dozens and dozens of costs. I could list out dozens of cost to the ratepayers in this Province and if you total them up, you look at the Premier's admissions and you look at the figures that we are given in this House, I have compiled them and kept lists, it would add up to 165 by the government's admission and some say $200 million spread out to the rate payers of this Province and amortized, just twenty-five years even will cost almost $20 million a year added to the rates of electricity in this Province, not counting the fact that it is added to the taxpayers in this Province.

If they wanted the public to make an informed decision -they don't want the public to see these numbers, they don't want the public to know the real truth, they stymied public hearings, they want a one-line of communication, the Premier has been able to get his members to carry on with him except one, and he is still today - and backbenchers applauded and said he speaks for them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I tell you, they don't speak for the people of this Province. You should open your ears and listen to the people of the Province, because if not, you will pay a dear price for it.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for Ferryland. Now, the hon. the Member for St. John's South says Calvert Math, but the figures quoted to the member and to members opposite are the government's and Premier's own figures. The government has failed to demonstrate what will be profits or what will be the benefits of privatizing Hydro. Will there be new investment as a result of this sale? No, Mr. Speaker, there will be no new investment as a result of this sale; will there be new technology brought into this Province and to the people as a result of the privatization of Hydro? No, Mr. Speaker, there will be no new technology brought into this Province as a result of the sale or privatization of Hydro. Will there be new jobs, will there be more jobs as a result of the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? Again, Mr. Speaker, no, there will be no new jobs as a result of the privatization of Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, the privatization sale and government's explanation of the privatization of Hydro do not amount to a sound, financial or business deal. It is beyond me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It now being 3:00, p.m., I call Private Member's Motion 4.

The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MS. YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce and speak to the motion which is being put forward by my friend and colleague, the Member for St. George's. I know that he has developed a great interest in all the issues related to agriculture since he chaired the Provincial Task Force on Agri-Food, a few years ago, and he is very knowledgeable on all commodities and all aspects of that particular industry.

Unfortunately, he is unable to be here today and I am going to fulfil part of his duties to the best of my ability. The motion is as follows:

WHEREAS the agri-food sector has the potential to play a greater role in the economic future of the Province; and

WHEREAS all the elements necessary for a much expanded agri-food industry are present; and

WHEREAS opportunities for the food processing "value added" sector are largely untapped;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly endorses the continuation of efforts of the present administration and the development of the Agri-Food Public Policy.

My involvement in agriculture began over twenty-five years ago when I married a farmer and went to live on a farm in Morley's Siding. It was quite an eye-opener for me because I thought that farm life would probably be as close to heaven as you can get, but I soon realized that along with all of the beautiful countryside, and all of those wonderful animals - and I can look over at my colleague across because he knows exactly what I am talking about - there comes a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment.

I also have belonged to many farm organizations at the local, the provincial, and the national level, and because of my involvement, I have often attended meetings in all parts of Canada and have found them to be very enlightening, especially as to my day-to-day life on a farm.

One particular thing that stands out in my mind is being summoned to Ottawa for a meeting with the hon. Brian Mulroney, who was the Prime Minister at that time. He spoke to all of the farmers there and we listened very intently to everything he had to say, and then when it came time for the farmers to speak, he sat back and cupped his hand in his chin, as best he could with that chin, and he sort of dozed off. That said something to me as to how he felt about agriculture. It was a very great disappointment to me because I really thought that this man might have the best interest of the industry that I was committed to - that he had that at heart, but obviously, he didn't.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister, who happened to be the Minister of Agriculture, was talking about a level playing field. Now, that wasn't very level to me. But I continued on, and I have great belief that there is a future for the agricultural industry in Newfoundland and, indeed, in Canada.

Some of the issues that we faced are not just local issues, they are not just provincial issues, they are not just national issues, we are into the global marketplace. We are part of that, and it is a very competitive world there when we look at GATT, NAFTA, the intra-provincial trade and, of course, supply and management is very much part of our way of life.

Newfoundland has a great attachment to the land and the sea. People who came to Newfoundland, fished the oceans, but in order to survive here they planted their little vegetable gardens, and that helped them get through the winter. Gradually, this sort of, I guess, back garden farming, developed into some what we would consider professional farming. Lands were cleared; buildings were erected for storage facilities. Much mixed farming was carried on. Then, of course, government suggested that we all specialize, so specialize we did, and got ourselves into quite a heavy debt load.

After everybody had specialized according to what the Federal Government had dictated, then we were told that diversification was the way to go, so here everybody was trying to look at ways to diversify and supplement whatever commodity they were involved in.

Family farming has become a part of Canadian life. Especially on the Prairies, there was a rapid growth of family farming operations that were passed down from generation to generation. We, in Newfoundland, are probably almost to the homesteading stage as compared with our Western counterparts. When people tried to farm here in Newfoundland they had to clear out the forests and were blessed with a lot of rocks, and I am sure some of our friends would love to have some of these for purposes on the mainland but they are very hard to ship out. If we could get the bucks for them we would be well off down here.

Family farming has offered quite a bit to community life. Farmers have been the backbone of many Canadian farming communities. They are the people who go to the churches, their children attend the schools, they hire the local people from the communities, and, I guess they are the volunteers, the backbone of any small community. There is some fear across Canada that some of the multi-nationals may get hold of it and certainly may take away that particular aspect of rural life.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: I think I can manage to take care of that myself, Sir. We don't need any input from your side.

Then, we look at the cheap food policy we have in Canada. The food that we enjoy here in Canada is the second cheapest in the world, and when you consider that, there is a reason for it. A lot of it has to do with the unpaid labour on many farms. It has to do with it being a family operation. Both partners, if they work the farm, do not take wages in many cases, and many of the children work there and they don't take a wage, simply because the wage isn't there.

There is also something else that we have had to contend with in this Province and that is marketing boards. Marketing boards are essential and I have no problem with it, but they have a very, very important role and it should be a role that they would take seriously. Unfortunately, that was not the case with one of our boards that I am quite familiar with. They were more interested in protecting the interests of a few, and the few they did protect, I am sure, were for reasons that we can best speculate upon. One thing that seems clear to me, they were intent upon keeping the smaller farms suppressed so that these smaller farms couldn't obtain enough quota to make them viable, and then, of course, they drove up the cost of production, and that was just great for the people who owned the larger quotas.

It seems as though our current Minister of Forestry and Agriculture is very much aware of what has gone on in the past and he has sort of reined things in in that area, and for that I am very grateful. It is probably too last for some of the farms who had to sell their quotas because they couldn't make any plans and they never knew what their quota was going to be. New entrants were told that their quotas could go up but as an old entrant, our farm was told, `You put your request in and we will see what happens to you,' which is certainly not the way a marketing board should operate.

Now, less that 1 per cent of our land is suitable for commercial crops but we haven't reached our full potential. We can grow more crops, especially vegetables and forage. We need storage facilities and I am pleased to see that just recently some funding was made available in this Province for storage facilities for the vegetable farmers. More and more farmers are requesting grants for land clearing so that they can become self-sufficient in forage, recognizing the fact that our growing season is shorter and it is very difficult to get two crops, let alone three, as our Maritime counterparts can get; thus it drives up the cost of production when you have to import hay. I remember that about $3,600 covered a tractor trailer load of hay about four or five years ago and $2,400 of that was for freight. Only $1,200 went for the actual hay.

I'm pleased to say that there are many people along with me who have the interest of agriculture at heart. We saw that in 1993 farm gate sales of agricultural produce amounted to $63 million. That is a nice bit of money when we look at the whole state of the economy in this Province. Also it created 4,000 jobs that were directly or indirectly related to the industry.

We can grow things like cucumbers here. Yes, cucumbers. We don't have to grow the big Sprung cucumbers, we don't have to get those big greenhouses, but there were quite a number of small greenhouse operators in this Province. They can grow some of the best cherry tomatoes and some of the best cucumbers that I have ever eaten, along with green peppers, red peppers, whatever. We are capable of growing all these things, although our growing season is much shorter.

It is interesting how we look at our own produce here in this Province. One of my neighbours decided that he would grow some cherry tomatoes. He brought them to the supermarket and he offered them to the supermarket at a price that was competitive with the imported tomatoes. When he went back a few days later the price for his cherry tomatoes had actually been jacked up over a dollar more than the imported tomatoes. They had a sign up saying: Newfoundland grown. The store made the profit. The farmer didn't make the profit.

Even though our growing season is shorter and our climate is cooler I have heard that people prefer our turnip, and it is because the flavour is enhanced by the colder climate. If anybody has compared the taste of our carrots and our turnips with mainland produce there is certainly a great improvement in ours. Also, our cooler climates ensure that our sheep grow a heavier coat of wool and it is a superior wool. As well, the pelts on our foxes and other fur-bearing animals that are raised on our farms for commercial purposes are also much more enhanced by the cooler climate.

One thing that I'm pleased about too is the greater awareness of agriculture and its potential in this Province. It seems as though the Department of Education is taking a role. They have developed a chapter in the Grade III social studies program which deals specifically with agriculture. I'm really pleased that they feature Lethbridge, my home community, as an agriculture community. It is very pleasant to see some people whom I know from my community have their pictures there, and stories about them. It is presented in such a way that the kids are very much taken up with how the social studies book shows agriculture in this Province. We also have a section in the Grade V social studies program which deals with Newfoundland agriculture.

The Food and Livestock Show has been a great venue too to promote our Newfoundland produce. I'm sure almost everybody here has had the opportunity to go down to Memorial Stadium and spend a few hours browsing around and checking out all of the wonderful things that we have in agriculture. I'm pleased to say that our government has been very supportive of the Food and Livestock Show. A lot of the urban children go there from their schools. Children are bused in for the day from rural communities because even though you may think that rural children know a lot more about farming then urban children that's really not so because we do not have farms in every community in Newfoundland.

That's too bad because I think that children could learn so much by going out to a farm visiting, taking part in the day and the life of a farmer and a farm family. There are many farms in this Province who do encourage farm tours. I know that when we were into dairy every year we had bus loads of kids come through our farm and it was always a pleasure to be able to tell them all about how the cows were milked and they were really excited about it because most kids just think of milk as being in a container and that's it.

Our roadside markets too are certainly an enhancement for the industry. More people are developing the roadside market so that they can go out there and show their product. We've got a lot of people coming in from other parts of Canada and from the United States and they stop and are very surprised at what we grow way out here in the Atlantic especially some of the bedding plants that we have.

Farming is a business today. One time I think people just looked at it as just farming but I look at it as entrepreneurship. It's a good example of privatization. People talk about Hydro - it's out birthright. Well the land is our birthright if you want to take it that far. Why doesn't the government take back all of the farmlands? Is that how we would like to have this run? If we don't believe in privatization we would have to take back all of the farmlands because that is an example of entrepreneurship and the private sector is doing a good job with it.

There's also the environmental aspect on our farms. Most farmers are good stewards of the land. They make sure that they have their manure lagoons set up properly if they are into livestock. It's interesting enough that if you have a combination, I guess, of forage and any kind of livestock most of that manure can go back into the land. That's probably very good because we're putting back what we're taking out to a certain extent.

I think too, that the organizations that have developed in this Province to deal with agriculture have done a great deal in moving us forward. The Newfoundland Federation of Agriculture, the commodity boards, the associations and the farm women's movement of which I was part of for years, these have all been very, very beneficial to the industry. Without them and without the support of the government - both at the provincial and federal levels - we could not have come as far as we have.

It would also be worthwhile if our farmers could support our local feed mills because we expect our local people to buy the produce that we produce on our farms. I think it would be very, very beneficial if we could support our local feed mills. This is not a paid political advertisement but if we're looking at trying to keep some dollars in our Province, I think that's one way to go.

I think my time is just about running out and there is so much more that I can say later on. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome the opportunity to have a few words on this resolution put forward by the Member for St. George's and in his absence today, the Member for Terra Nova.

As I look through the whereases in this particular resolution, Mr. Speaker, it begs many questions. One of the questions that I would have to ask, going back over the years involved in agriculture - I started in 1970 myself back in Humber Valley. When I look at the report by the Member for St. George's - at that time he was chairman of the inquiry or the hearings and the commission as it pertains to agrifoods in the Province. That report was submitted in February 1991, some three years ago. As I look down through the recommendations in that report I see very little. In fact, I wish the member was here today so I could tell him face to face what I thought, and what I think today, of some of the moves by his Administration as it pertains to agriculture here in the Province.

There is no doubt, none whatsoever, that the "... elements necessary for a much expanded agrifood industry are present...." The elements are there, but farmers and potential farmers in this Province, the element that they have to fight is nature itself. That is bad enough. When you have an administration which is not putting forward the recommendations that we spent so much money on and trying to enhance and stimulate an industry that has great potential, excellent potential for jobs and excellent potential for spin-offs in other areas in the Province, then that begs another question.

One of the whereases talks about: "...opportunities for the food processing `value added' sector are largely untapped...." Yes they are untapped. They are untapped and the opportunities are there. They've been there for some time. Until we do something and try to - when I look at the money spent by the Economic Recovery Commission going around this Province, and to have meetings here and meetings there, and when I see the opportunities that could be pursued in the agricultural industry in this Province, I ask why. Because all it needs, really, is land and manpower. God knows we have lots of that.

The Member for Terra Nova mentioned the fact that only 1 per cent of our land is suitable for agriculture. She is right. We've got a big land area, a big land base, but only a small portion of it is suitable for agricultural production. There is a lot more that could be suitable for agricultural production if it was drained properly and so on. A lot more. In fact, thousands of acres of land in this Province could be readied for agriculture production with very little expense.

The member in putting forward the resolution mentioned - I think the only drawback and the only pet peeve of hers is she doesn't like marketing boards, and especially the Milk Marketing Board. I suppose she has some reason for that (inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: (Inaudible) administration.

MR. WOODFORD: The administration of the Milk Marketing Board. All I say to the member is this. In talking about the Milk Marketing Board you are talking about quotas, and the persecution of the past or whatever, all I say is that going back when I started in dairy I started without a marketing board. I can give all the reasons why some people who went into that industry when I went into it are not around today. One of the big reasons, Mr. Speaker, is management. They got in, they figured they could take everything out, put nothing back, including the monies that were taken from it, let alone the work and the work habits that go with starting any industry, regardless of what it is, in this Province today.

Anybody in business in this Province today knows full well that you have to put in before you start taking out. I punched seven days a week every day of the year, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Easter Sunday, regardless of what it was. Four o'clock or four-thirty in the morning came - that is one thing about a dairy cow, they couldn't put anything on hold. Twice a day they had to be milked and when you are in business, like every other businessman or businessperson around this Province, you milk whatever you are into to the fullest, and in this case I could literally do it. You couldn't get many people to get up in the mornings at four or four-thirty in those days and you can't get them today - but you had to put it back in. You couldn't just take out, as I saw many of my colleagues do, and go down and buy a Lincoln or go down and buy a new pick-up every two years or buy a new tractor every three or four years, you couldn't do it. You had to put it back in and then after so many years, you could start taking out, and more so as it pertains to the dairy industry.

The dairy industry in this Province today, Mr. Speaker, FCC puts a value of somewhere between six to $8,700 on a per animal unit. Now the dairy industry or dairy farmer around this Province today, usually carries somewhere between seventy and 130 head of cattle and I don't have to tell members opposite what that's worth, over a million dollars today, to set up and run a profitable and efficient and viable dairy industry and that's big business, Mr. Speaker, you are not talking about a small corner store, you are not talking about getting into something whereby you have something else to fall back on, it is big, big business and you have to be efficient, you have to be viable and I say to the Member for Terra Nova and the Member for St. George's, they should search their souls and go back a few years and look at what happened to the industry some seven or eight years ago when there was absolutely nothing, before the marketing board system came on the scene, in this Province.

I am rather fortunate, Mr. Speaker, in the sense that I represent a district in this Province that has a very high agricultural production and a very, very, very high agricultural presence. We have a diversified district in the sense that we have forestry, agriculture, tourism, mining, transportation and so on, but one of the biggest industries that we have, is in agriculture. We have dairy, we have root crop farming, we have people in the broiler business, we have layers and it goes on down the line, we have small greenhouse operators in that particular area and the potential, Mr. Speaker, is unlimited especially in the root crop sector and we are not taking advantage of it.

The sheep business, as well, is on a smaller level. There is a story on sheep that I can relate to members, that back in 1971, when I was in the root crop production at that time, you would bring down a load of vegetables to the Northern Peninsula and on the way back you would pick up thirty-five or forty lambs, at seven or eight dollars a lamb, you would bring them back and put them in the field for a couple of weeks and you got top notch dollar after a couple of weeks when you sold to one operation. It was coming in from New Zealand, Australia and all those places and today, when you go down here, what do you pay? I don't have to tell members what they pay for lamb around this city today, it's a fortune. You pay a fortune and it is all imported except for a few pounds.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it imported because of quality or price?

MR. WOODFORD: Well, it's a combination, but the only thing about it, what I found and talking to farmers around the Province is that, anything produced here, and the member just alluded to it, is that there is an excellent, excellent source and its an excellent, excellent product of whatever is produced but it is just not available.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that's right.

Mr. Speaker, in every other industry, in root crops we have the best product because of our northern climate; we have the best root crop, bar none, today, in this country. It is the best tasting product because we have a late spring which results in root crops being put in around the month of June or so and we can take them out starting in September, October and the later it is for turnips and cabbage, the better tasting product you have, and I don't have to tell any member in the House, if you buy a head of local cabbage or turnip or something like that in the fall of the year, carrots, beets and so on, you have one of the best products on the market today and there is nothing to compare with it.

Just about every industry - in the beef industry, I was told at one time, I was told in 1969, that there is no way you could make a living at dairy farming in this Province. I was told in 1971 that it wasn't viable to produce beef east of Belleville, Ontario. I told them at that time, and I tell them today, that is utter rubbish. You can do it. There is no problem doing it, provided you have the land base to produce the feed, and that is something that, especially in the last number of years, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have taken advantage of. We are at a disadvantage in the Province in the sense that we are mostly first, second and third generation farmers. We are not like our colleagues in P.E.I., Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where they have been farming for hundreds of years and they have, as the member alluded to, their land cleared, and their fields all sowed down and it is not costing anything, only for regeneration and recultivation.

The government here in this Province will give you what you call 100 acres of land, out of which you have to cut a farm. They don't give you a farm; they give you 100 acres of Crown land. You have to cut the wood, you have to get a tractor in and bull off the land, and then you have to start picking rocks, and then you have to start levelling it, and then you have to put in lime, put in fertilizer, manure it, put it down and wait for the first crop. Now whether it is in hay or whether it is in vegetables, you still have to wait at least five or six months for that first crop. Then, especially in the vegetable sector, you have to keep rotating because of the problems you have with the disease that we carry in our soil today.

Mr. Speaker, in my area especially I would be remiss if I didn't mention the strawberry festival that we hold in the Humber Valley area. It is one of the best festivals, comparing it to pretty well anything else, especially in the Province today, and I would say probably one of the best festivals in eastern Canada. It is well looked after, well thought out. The production is excellent. I think this year, for the first year in a long time, the strawberry production is down because of the snowfall last spring. I think it is the first year, if I am not mistaken, if you look at the stats in the government's response on the economy, it looks like this is the first year it was down in strawberry production, I think, for a number of years.

One of the things interesting to look at is partridgeberry production. I often said that we have millions and millions and millions of pounds of partridgeberry just left on the land, left in the woods, and it is a shame, and we are talking about people on unemployment, people not working and so on. Last year they got the best prices ever they got for that particular product, and I would say one of the best years for demand ever we had, and pollination was good and so on, for all the fruit groups and the berry groups, and they were just left there to rot.

As it happened, I think we sold something like 333,000 pounds, an increase of 59 per cent in something that is just left to rot, so you talk about potential in this Province, and we talk about the unemployment rate and so on, we haven't got to look very far to look and see what we can do; but if the will is not there, and the attitude is not changed, then we are not going to do it. We've got to try to identify, and we've got to try to - some people need to be led. Some people have good ideas and can't carry them out, can't put them on paper. A lot of people have it in their heads, and have good ideas in their heads and so on, but they just can't get it down on paper, and when they do, and the attitude is still there today in government departments, it was there when I was there and it is still there today, when they see an application come in from someone to do something, the first thing a bureaucrat is going to say is that he or she can't do it, and that is what stops them.

They have the idea, like I said, but unless you get someone who is sympathetic, with a sympathetic ear, whether it's an agriculture rep on the local scene, whether it's someone in the provincial department in here when the applications come in, then they won't proceed. They are usually cut down fairly fast before they get a chance to say anything, and before they get a chance to do anything.

Mr. Speaker, another interesting thing as it pertains to the dairy industry, is the School Milk Program. The School Milk Program is an example of what can be done when government, industry and the processors especially, put their heads together and try to do something for the children in this Province. Thirty per cent, Mr. Speaker, of the children going to schools in this Province today, go to school hungry. When you look at the Canada Food Guide and when you look at the Department of Health regulations and so on, 30 per cent of our children go to school hungry. I think my colleague, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, mentioned that this morning in some of the conversations that we had.

MR. HODDER: In the Royal Commission on Education.

MR. WOODFORD: In the Royal Commission on Education, that's right. That's exactly where it came from.

So this is an example of what they can do. Last year - when it started, Mr. Speaker, prior to the program, to give you an example, there were only 90,000 litres of milk sold in schools in the Province - currently there are 404 schools representing 88 per cent of all students in the Province involved in the School Milk Program - and today, Mr. Speaker, there's something like one million litres of milk in the School Milk Program in this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, the farmers, the industry itself last year contributed a total of $458,000 to that particular program. It came out of the pockets of the producers in the Province.

That to me, Mr. Speaker, is money well spent because it does two things; to buy that kind of advertising to try to convince children to drink milk is one thing but when you have it in the schools and you get children drinking milk at an early age then as they grow and as they progress in years, they have a tendency to keep drinking milk. So it helps the child in the sense that they are getting a nutritious and proper product to try to keep them going through a school day that they wouldn't normally get at home and secondly it enhances the sales of the milk product forever and a day, thereby sustaining an industry that has an excellent return to the producer.

So, Mr. Speaker, my time is up I know but just a few short comments, you can't say much in twenty minutes especially as it pertains to the agricultural industry because you got so many commodity groups, you got so much - the spin-off from that you can deal with - there's not much you can say in twenty minutes except I would like to say that more so then ever, Mr. Speaker, that a government - regardless of what government it is - and today the administration opposite are going to have to be more cognizant then ever before in looking after the agricultural industry in the Province especially as it pertains to GATT - the Member for Port au Port is laughing and I can see why, because I mentioned the dairy industry. I get a tendency sometimes to get caught up in that although, like I said, I got all kinds of it in the district.

But the GATT agreement is one that in five or six years time, Mr. Speaker, there will be no trouble to tell who are the most efficient and who are the most viable - and what's the most viable industries in the Province as it pertains to agriculture because GATT will weed out the inefficient operators in the Province and unless and until they get their act together then a lot of them will be history. A lot of them will be history - but with the tariffs in place for the next five or six years and the maximum reduction in the prices at the end of six years which will be approximately 15 per cent, then there is a chance for the whole agricultural industry to get their act together and be viable and be an efficient operation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WHELAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to have the opportunity to be able to speak on this motion in the House today. For many years I've had an interest in the agricultural industry. Certainly growing up in Newfoundland, especially in our area of the Province, back in the 1950s where we grew and raised practically 100 per cent of everything that we ate, including vegetables, animals, chicken and everything else, you couldn't help but have an interest in agriculture. At certain times of the year you would go into an individual's house and there may be a few chickens in a box behind the stove that they were trying to save. If there weren't a few chickens there would be certainly a pet lamb there in the spring of the year. As kids certainly we were all enthralled by that type of thing and we developed an interest in agriculture at certainly an early age.

With regard to root crops, everybody grew their own. If you didn't have any of your own grown certainly you had to help your uncle or your aunt or your cousin or somebody with their potatoes. Whether it be setting the potatoes or harvesting the vegetables or whatever. I suppose it is almost a birthright that we in this Province have a certain amount of knowledge about agriculture, and certainly a great deal of interest in it.

I must say that I'm pleased with many of the things that have been happening in the industry over the past several years. The industry has prospered in leaps and bounds and it seems to be a trend that is continuing. There doesn't seem to be any slackening off. Indeed, the agricultural industry has led practically every other industry in its rate of growth. There is every reason to be optimistic that the agricultural industry is going to do well and prosper and grow in years to come and certainly reason to be optimistic indeed.

However, I feel that we've only begun to scratch the surface with the agricultural development in this Province. The dairy industry, for example. We have made great strides in this area to the point where we are practically self-sufficient. As other members who spoke already mentioned, the potential for growth in that area - there is still reason to be optimistic about this as well. One of the reasons, I suppose, is because we've developed or we've provided the subsidization of milk products to schools in the Province, which in itself opens up greater markets for the sale of milk. The promotion of milk consumption in this Province certainly is a very positive step. Much has been done, more must be done, and certainly more will be done.

One thing I feel should be addressed is the idea of facilitating new entrants into the dairy industry. There I would have to agree with my colleague and friend for Terra Nova in saying that there should be, I suppose, certain considerations given for anybody who is trying to get into the industry as a new entrant. I think one of the biggest impediments to new entrants is probably the fact that the milk marketing boards have not been, in the past, overly cooperative with new entrants into the industry. To me it seems that they are protecting the larger, more developed and more established farmers. Which I suppose would have the eventual effect of creating a handful of large dairy farmers in the Province as opposed to numbers of smaller farmers who may very well be able to carry on viable industries. As far as I'm concerned I believe that they could survive. I think that the smaller industry is probably less apt to the expenses that the larger industry has.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the possibility of a handful of relatively large dairy producers in this Province is probably detrimental to the Province as a whole. I believe it is a concern and one which should be addressed with a view to seeing that the opportunity for other people to develop in the dairy industry is addressed. All I'm suggesting is that they have a level playing field. I think that they should at least be able to try to get in there. I know they can certainly try to get in but they don't have much success. It is all controlled by a relatively small number of people.

It is my view that a larger number of small viable farms would serve the Province better than a handful of larger operations. This applies not only to the dairy operation but to the broiler and egg industry as well.

Another matter of concern that I would like to express is the idea or concept of land ownership. Back in the 1970s the government of the day saw fit to introduce legislation which would eliminate the possibility of anybody actually owning their land. They introduced the concept of leasing, as opposed to the grant system. This I believe could only have a negative impact on the way the farmers in this Province view their position with respect to their property. There seems to be an overall impression that they never really will own the property that they have. That, I feel, sort of negates any initiative they may have to develop to the full potential the property they are leasing.

We have just witnessed the collapse of some very large and potentially great countries. I speak of members of the Eastern Bloc nations and certainly in particular I speak of Russia. In that country alone we have probably the greatest potential for agriculture than any country in the world. They have the best soil and the greatest number of acres for the development of agriculture and still they are unable to feed themselves. The potential is certainly there and they should have been able to do that. I suppose one of the biggest reasons why they have not been able to do it is due to the lack of initiative on the part of the people because they do not really own their own land.

The possibility that their children may be able to run their farms does not exist, and I can certainly understand them thinking along the lines that if they will never own the land they are working they find it hard to develop it to the full potential. I am trying to draw a direct parallel to the two situations. I submit that the degree of interest would be somewhat greater if a man or woman felt they actually owned the land they were working, and perhaps productivity would improve to an even greater degree here in this Province.

The estimated land mass suitable for farming is much less than 1 per cent of the total land mass. Other members have just alluded to this as well. To me this is a very strong argument for ensuring that as much of that small percentage is preserved for agricultural purposes as possible. As a government I would certainly hope that some type of monitoring system is maintained to protect good agricultural land for the farming industry, and protect it from other purposes such as cabin development. I am not trying to run down cabin development as such, but I am strongly suggesting that areas used for cabin development should not be areas that have great potential for the agricultural industry.

The berry industry has always been an active one, and I can remember as a young boy taking a lunch can, and taking a gallon can along with it, and trekking off over the barrens in the middle of August, along with about 100 other people around the same age, and we were always able to make enough money to buy our books and supply a certain amount of clothes. The industry may well have a double-barrelled effect, Mr. Speaker. Many of the tourists who come to this Province are here to take advantage of the abundance of all types of berries. I spent some time in the northern part of Newfoundland and Southern Labrador and was surprised at the throngs of people who flock to that area. I suppose one of the reasons is the mystique that the world has about Labrador. Many people go over there and just stand on Labrador, come back to the ferry, and go on back to wherever they belong.

Another drawing card over there is the bakeapple festival. As captain on the ferry that transported the people back and forth from Southern Labrador to Northern Newfoundland the responsibility certainly got much greater around the latter part of August because there were thousands and thousands of people coming from all over the world, from places like England, France, Spain, Germany, and all parts of the United States. There were certainly times when the traffic was backed up beyond sight and we were forced to go night and day just to get people over basically for the bakeapple festival. They were people who came to Newfoundland with their pockets full of money. They went over looking for a place to spend it and in a lot of cases they had to go back disappointed because they could not spend it. There was no place to spend it.

The point I am trying to make here is the fact that the agricultural industry certainly has far-reaching effects in that it affects the tourist industry in this particular case. It has the potential for drawing more money in than the agricultural industry in itself, if you get my point. The humble bakeapple combined with the mystique of Labrador has certainly drawn people from all parts of the world.

The potential for the berry industry does not stop there. I have always felt that the success of this Province certainly lies in the development of our secondary industry, the production of jams, purées, and all types of pastries such as pies and cakes, which use our natural resources and certainly could have room for expansion.

Mr. Speaker, this government over the past five years has carried on an active program of developing storage facilities in this Province. They have been educating farmers as to the best way to preserve vegetables for longer periods of time so as to take advantage of the better prices that are accrued later on in the winter.

There has been, over the past number of years, a diversification of production with regard to root crops. Again, there is tremendous room for growth in this area.

Development of better storage techniques may well be the answer to the development of non-traditional crops such as broccoli, cauliflower, various types of Chinese cabbage, and perhaps if approached in a sane and sensible way the potential for growing cucumbers is still there, as mentioned by the Member for Terra Nova.

Mr. Speaker, the agricultural industry has such far-reaching effects and diverse effects that the potential is phenomenal. The total agri-food industry is worth approximately $3 billion. Obviously we have just scratched the surface when it comes to development. That is why I feel we cannot overemphasize the necessity and importance of promoting, at every opportunity, in a very big way, the agricultural industry.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I am so pleased and so delighted today to be able to speak to this motion. I believe that the continuation of efforts of the present administration for the development of an Agri-Foods Public Policy in this Province is very important.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to rise to have a few comments on this particular motion. I have to say first off that I am disappointed that the Member for St. George's couldn't be here today, because I am sure after so much time and effort, and working on it, on such a report, he would be glad to be here to respond. I guess the timing can't be helped, but I can say even prior to this motion being handed that I talked to the member a few times concerning this particular report, and had discussions on a few things.

The first thing to mention, as I read through the report and as I talked to the member, it is noticeable right away that the comprehensive study has been long overdue. As it was mentioned in the report, very early in the report, I won't quote it, but I think it's since somewhere in the 1950's, 1952, was the last comprehensive study done of agriculture, agri-foods, in this Province, so there is no doubt that it was long overdue and I was glad to see the initiative of whatever government of the day, I think it was 1986, if I am correct, the first time that it was mentioned as a possibility that a study would be done on agri-foods in this Province. So to say that it is long overdue is an understatement.

Since 1950 there have been lots of changes, obviously, in agriculture in this Province, and indeed around the world, but since then, 1986 I think was the first move toward looking into a study on agri-foods and agriculture in this Province. Of course now up to date as we look at this study, then it finally has come to something, at least on paper.

Now the first criticism - I guess you have to give criticism with the good and the bad - is that such a report, with so many good things in it, as we will try to get some points, as I speak here now, there are a lot of good things, a lot of ideas that are moving in the right direction, as the Member for Harbour Main just mentioned, but as I read through the motion, a couple of things like the hon. Member for Humber Valley mentioned: Whereas agri-foods has the potential to play a greater role in the economic future of the Province, that is indeed true. We all know that and, as the Member for Harbour Main mentioned, we have only scratched the surface on that, and to say it is untapped, there is a lot of room for improvements in this Province for sure.

It says: "Whereas all the elements necessary for a much expanded agri-food industry are present;" and the third one says: "Whereas opportunities for the food processing 'value added' sector are largely untapped", that is the one I would like to stress on a little bit here today.

It says: "Be it resolved that the House of Assembly endorses the continuation of efforts of the present administration..." Well, Mr. Speaker, that is the point that needs to be put forward to, and I wish the Member for St. George's was here. The fact that such a study, with so many recommendations in there, has not been implemented is what I say is the whole problem here to start with.

Now if government, if the administration of the day, would read through this and take some of the things that were mentioned here as recommendations, and say, `walk to talk' as they say, and implement some of them, then I could see that the Member for St. George's - the money and the time spent by this particular group, then I would say it was fruitful. As it stands right now I don't think anybody, including the Member for St. George's, is satisfied. They should not be satisfied. Neither should anybody in this Province who is related to this particular industry.

I think I say that in all fairness. I think all government members would agree. The Member for Terra Nova who put forward the motion today would agree that the implementation of this report so far to date is far from satisfactory. I think there are a lot of things in there that should be put forward and done quickly so that we can act on it, not just talk about it for the next two, three or four years. It is something that has to be acted on immediately. I would like to see the government of the day take this report - not just open and close it and put it back on a shelf for dusting. There was a lot of money and time spent on it, there was a lot of research went into it. It is basically a good report, I say to the members. I wish the hon. Member for St. George's was here today so he could speak on it himself. It is just too bad for the timing, that is all we can say on that. As far as implementation on it, it is long overdue. We have to get moving on it.

The second thing I want to mention is the consultation process which took place during the report. I can see from the numbers - I don't have them directly in front of me - I think it was over 1,000 people through the various meetings around the Province, which was good. Over 200 different groups if I'm not mistaken from the report. Over 1,000 people and over 200 groups represented at various public meetings across the Province.

I say to the members opposite, you should take a good lesson from that one. There was consultation done, a good report was put forward. Of course the problem, I say again, is the implementation and the slow process that has happened there. There should be a good lesson learned from that one. There was consultation, you did go to the people who were directly involved, you did go to farmers, you did go to almost every group that was related to this particular industry. Two hundred groups. Sat down, public consultation. That was great stuff. I applaud the Member for St. George's and his committee for doing that.

As far as privatization goes, I will just mention it for a minute. The Member for Terra Nova mentioned it earlier. For example, right now I'm still studying the proposals that will be put forward in the very near future, as I understand from the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, on the privatization of Newfoundland Farm Products. I will tie that together with this because it is all considered in the report. Right now I'm studying also all sides of that. I'm talking to every group, any person involved in that particular industry. I'm hoping to have an open mind on exactly what is the best thing for this Province. I can say to this date - and it is not a confirmation of any sort - that what we've seen so far, and the people I've talked to, including unions, including the people involved with Newfoundland Farm Products, is that it could very well be the very best thing to privatize Newfoundland Farm Products.

Again I reflect back to exactly what I read in here about the consultation and the 1,000 people you talked to and the 200 groups involved. That was great stuff, I say again to the members. That is exactly what needs to be done for the Newfoundland Farm Products. Not to linger on and get off the subject by no means, but that is what needed to be done with the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. Same thing. But we can't get into that for sure. I do say that the consultation process that has occurred with this particular report has to be reflected back when consideration is given for Newfoundland Farm Products.

Right now I've been talking to union people; I've been talking to the people who work at Newfoundland Farm Products. I've been talking to people from the Federation of Agriculture, the President. I've also talked to the broilers association group. It is great when you go out and talk to the people who are going to be most involved - what the implications are for the people who are directly involved. Not just people in the top offices or in the top brass or us as government people, but down to the person, right down through the unions, right on down through the management down through the local Joe who works and makes his living from any particular industry. Whether it be Newfoundland Farm Products, whether it be any sector that is involved with the agri-foods or agriculture of the Province.

So I guess the clear message is, that from the hon. Member for St. George's report, that you indeed, sir, have done the right thing by the consultation process which you took by going out and meeting with the people who would be involved, meeting with the people who were going to be directly affected, most affected; not us, the people who are going to make decisions at the government level, not even the people who are going to make decisions at the management level, but ask the average Joe who works at Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation or works for any sector of the agriculture industry before you make changes; before you make changes and I think that is a fair thing to be said.

It is a fair thing to be said of any government initiative whether it is fishing, mining, agriculture, agri-foods as we say, anything, and I think all members will agree with that, that before we make changes at our levels, let us make sure that we ask the person who is going to be affected by these implications, the ramifications of the person who is going to be affected here. The person who is going to finally decide if he is going to stay in this industry or decide to move on to another industry. So as far as the consultation process - and maybe, when the Member for Terra Nova stands later she can verify it - I am not sure of the numbers but I think it was on the consultation process that it was over 1,000 people who went to public hearings on this particular report and there were over 200 groups, I am not sure, I read it last night but I can't remember what page but I think it was early in the process.

MS. YOUNG: It's down in the back.

MR. SHELLEY: Okay. As far as that goes, I am very pleased with that and you don't mind giving the accolades or anything to something that was done properly, and I say to the member that was done properly and I would just like to reflect on it and hopefully it is done in all other government initiatives as you sit in government today to make decisions in this Province.

Now, as we have all said, I am sure you will agree that this was long overdue. As I said, the last time a comprehensive study was done on agri-foods or agriculture as we know it in the Province, was in 1950, I think it was 1952, '53 somewhere in that area and until 1986 when it was brought up again to make moves to move a committee which we did in this particular case with three people and the hon. Member for St. George's as the Chairman, to start the study. The research they did and I will again compliment the member on the research and the amount of research that he did for this particular study; there was a lot of work put into it.

Now the scope of agri-foods in this Province, I don't think that a lot of people realize how far-reaching it is. In my district in particular, I mean, I have such a cross-section of industries, I go from mining to forestry, which is very vibrant in the communities in my district, also the fishing industry and I go right in to farming so I have the four of them in my district and it is quite a cross-section of the industry. The people in my district that I have talked to, the few farmers who are there, there are not a lot but there are a few farmers there, they have asked me time after time when I visit the district - and they have seen it, most of the farmers as most hon. members know have seen this report and have read it, are very interested in it and so they should be because as I just said earlier they were the ones who had the input into the industry, those are the one who made recommendations that actually came out in the report.

As a matter of fact, I had one farmer who said to me that something that he suggested at one of the meetings actually came through in the paper in the report and that is all due to consultation again, I would say, so when I go to my district and talk to the few farmers, like I say there are not a lot of them in my district but there are a few, and they say that they actually had suggestions through public meetings that came out in the report, so now, their question is, and my question is and I think everybody's question should be, when are you going to implement the recommendations and the things put forward in this report? That's the catch, and that is what the hon. Member for Humber Valley mentioned earlier; it is not good enough for somebody to say we spent x number of dollars on such a report. I can't remember the amount of dollars now, it was tabled here in the House but I can't remember, it was a lot of money -

AN HON. MEMBER: $800,000.

MR. SHELLEY: $800,000 to $1 million, somewhere in that area, and I remember looking at some of the payouts to the hon. Member for St. George's and his two other colleagues; I can't remember the exact number so I won't quote them. Maybe I will ask the Member for Terra Nova to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: The actual cost of the study, I can't remember exactly, it was brought up but I didn't write it down for today, but I just remember that it was a significant amount of money and I think it is only fair that a farmer should stop somebody and say: listen, by the way, the million dollars that the government spent on this study, in which I had a great say, and of which they did such a great job of putting it together and in which actually some of my recommendations came out, when are they going to put it into action?

MS. VERGE: It's too late for the swine industry now.

MR. SHELLEY: It is certainly too late for the swine industry in Corner Brook and to the detriment of that, now that could be brought up and of course we could spend the whole twenty minutes talking on that one alone, but maybe the hon. Member for Terra Nova will respond to that when she rises. I can say that there is nothing positive that I can see in that particular move. You ask people on the West Coast and I think they will have an answer for you that you will find very straightforward.

As for using and implementing these particular recommendations, as asked by the farmers and the people involved with agri-foods and agriculture in this Province, my message is very simple and clear. You have to move your government now, push your government, encourage, whatever the word is, as you as government members, and I would say to the Member for St. George's, do whatever you can to make sure that your government, this government of the day, moves to start to implement these recommendations before it is too late and before this report gets so full of dust it is not worth taking off the shelf again and we will have to do another ten or fifteen years down the road.

Because the changes in the technology in farming these days, as we know, changes very rapidly. There are always new ideas, new technology on farming every day. There are also some great changes coming in the international - as we mentioned earlier about GATT - there are changes coming every day. My message is very simple and straightforward. Get on with the job of implementing such a study that costs us so much money, and took so much time, and did consult with the people right at the grass roots level - pardon the pun - for this particular piece of work.

The scope, as I mentioned earlier, of agri-foods and agriculture goes so far you would never be able to get into it in the twenty minutes that all of us have here to talk about it. It goes right from growing crops right up through fox farming and berry picking and the whole gamut. There is so much in there that you would never be able to talk about it unless we had three or four days to sit down and go through one specifically. In general, I think the consensus is that each one of these was broken down in the report, was studied. Good recommendations were given on each section, as we talked about each one. Now the job is for the government of the day to get on and do the implementation.

Pages 3 and 4 - basically, breaking down in the scope includes the primary level and the secondary level. The hon. the Member for Harbour Main, I think, mentioned earlier, and so did the Member for Humber Valley, about secondary processing. I'm not sure but I missed a little bit of what the Member for Terra Nova said, about secondary processing. We can use our analogy to the fishery to give an example here. I've said it, and the hon. Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I'm sure, has said it many times -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) Harbour Deep (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: - has said it many times - I know Harbour Deep loves me. I know that you mentioned it.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) the fishery (inaudible). That is important to Harbour Deep.

MR. SHELLEY: I know that the minister has mentioned many times about the fishery and that we lose out on the secondary processing. Well, I say to the members, too, that we also are losing out on secondary processing. You've said it right in your motion - the "`value-added' sector are largely untapped." I couldn't agree with you more - largely untapped. We are missing out again. We have a renewable resource here. Right from the berry picking to the farming to the dairy, everything you could mention here. Secondary processing, bringing in the `value-added'.

Anything I could do to support you on that or encourage your government to take part in that secondary processing so that Newfoundlanders - not somebody in Prince Edward Island, not somebody in Saskatchewan, or anywhere in Ontario - but right here in Newfoundland, we tap into what we do here as a renewable resource again. I mean, for god's sake, when are we ever going to learn that all the renewable resources that we have here in this Province, from the fishery to the forestry to agriculture, we can do it right here in this Province. But we need the doers instead of the sayers - just to stand up and say we are going to do that.

That is why again - I will keep repeating this as many times as I can say it in twenty minutes - that we have to tap into this, and open up this book, and don't let anyone close it until we've started implementing some of the plan. The secondary processing - and the very words that you've put forward in this motion today, I say to the hon. member - push, scratch, scrape, whatever you have to do to make sure this book stays open, and we get on with the job before we have to put it away and do another study, and another $800,000 or another $1 million, whatever it was, and have three more members from some other government from some other side to do it all over again. Because if we don't tap into it now it is going to be a lost cause - a lost cause, I say to the member.

I hope it is not. I hope we don't have to waste this $800,000 that we have spent right now to go back over and redo the whole thing, the process again, because we procrastinated on the whole thing as a government of the day. Let's move on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Did you? Maybe you can tell us about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Did you? That is great stuff. I thank the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Fantastic!

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SHELLEY: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I see that I'm running out of time here quickly, and I did want to get into some other things. I had quite a long list and I can't believe I have run out of time already, but I will say -

MR. EFFORD: By leave. Carry on.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave? I could have a couple of minutes to finish up? I won't go into the long list I have, but just a couple of things. The berry picking for example, I'm going to relate this to tourism, I thought I should make that point. You go through Prince Edward Island and you see the U-picks, do you know how many tourists stop to go to U-picks of strawberries and the bakeapples we talked about on the Labrador? They're fantastic catchers for the tourist. You publicize them and market that right then I can guarantee you, people will come just for that. Remember, as the minister has said many times, that the best form of marketing or advertising there is, is word-of-mouth. You give somebody a good experience in this Province and they'll tell somebody else, then it goes 'round and 'round. Millions and millions of dollars in tourism could come in just related to agri-foods alone, in this Province.

Another one I noticed in Ontario and Quebec and maybe some of the other members have noticed, I know it's in P.E.I., too, that some of the farms in those particular provinces, they market and advertise for tourists to come and live on the farm for a week - great idea. How many times is it done here in Newfoundland? It is great stuff, I say to the minister. I say to you, I agree with you 100 per cent that these types of things are not even touched yet. I'm telling you, if we were to market that and relate it all to tourism and say to people from Toronto or New York City, come to Newfoundland and live on a farm for a week or take part in the farm process, farm living, it would be a great thing. There are some in the Province I know, as the member mentioned, but I'm just saying that's another one that's on tap.

The last thing I'll mention to try to conclude is the education on this whole idea of agri-foods or agriculture as most people know it but agri-foods. Let's get the idea out there that there's a lot more to this industry than we have been given to believe over the last few years. There are young people who do want to get involved in this who really don't know anything about it. The college in Truro, Nova Scotia which I visited a few times, there is great technology being put forward now in education in that school. There are young people who are interested in getting into this particular industry, and I say that we should encourage, through education, young people to get involved in this sector. Some young people with some young ideas - I know the people have been in it for years but we also need some young blood into this industry so we can keep it going with new ideas and hopefully it will grow into an industry that will prosper in Newfoundland and grow to be something that's sustainable and will grow and grow and grow for a long time to come.

So except for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, everybody else gave me leave. I just want to make note of that in Hansard. Everybody else gave me leave except for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Just give me leave to make one last compliment to the Member for St. George's, to compliment him on some - and take consultation of people I say again, into his report, and also now let him get on with the job of asking the government of the day to implement so that we do not lose that money and well-invested time that went into this particular report. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to rise and speak here on this motion presented by my learned colleague, the Member for St. George's. I do join with the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay in expressing regrets that Dr. Hulan could not be here today to speak in this debate, because certainly, he does bring to this whole process a great degree of credibility, not only in terms of his own academic credentials but also, as the hon. member has pointed out, the very fine work which he has done in preparing this agri-foods report.

I certainly don't profess to bring to this debate any great deal of expertise. Some of my hon. colleagues who have already spoken in this debate certainly have a background much more varied than mine. However, a few observations if I may. As a person who grew up in rural Newfoundland, it has always amazed me as to what has happened in this Province in terms of our involvement in agriculture generally. If you look at the history of Newfoundland and look at what was happening here at the time of and prior to Confederation, it becomes pretty apparent that post-Confederation in this Province, for some reason the people were drawn away from the land and gradually agriculture became a thing of the past. Where once we were self-sufficient, all of a sudden, we found ourselves being dependent on other areas of the Province and we were bringing in things, products, that prior to Confederation were being produced here in this Province, creating meaningful jobs for the people of the Province.

When I grew up on the Port au Port Peninsula, most families that I knew were certainly self-sufficient, as was my own family, and I always relate back to the fact, as I have mentioned in this hon. House, that my parents originally came from the South Coast of the Province. I remember growing up with the stories, in areas like Sagona and Miller's Passage, the topsoil was so scarce that people would actually bring it in in dories so that they could have soil to have gardens.

When I think back then to what these people went through to try to grow a few potatoes and things that they needed, and when I look now, where I live in Port au Port, and I see acres and acres of arable land just left with nothing being done to it, I think it is a terrible tragedy.

When I returned to live in Lourdes in 1969, after university, and having taught elsewhere in the Province for a couple of years, the things that I had grown up with as a child, and the kinds of values, and the attachment to the land, was something I felt myself drawn to as well, and from 1969 until this present year, going back to last spring when I, along with a number of other hon. colleagues in this House, made the decision to become involved in public life, was, myself, and have been, self-sufficient in growing vegetables, and it is not too difficult to do. People have said to me, over the years, why would you choose to get involved in an activity that is so different from what you do on a day-to-day basis in making a living?

Well, I have to confess, and I still confess, even last year after the election, and I suspect, this year more so when the snow goes and spring comes, that I have always found gardening and agriculture to be therapeutic. I think it is a very, very healthy endeavour, and I think that some of the healthiest people I know in this Province are people who are involved in the agriculture industry generally.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look at `Kay'.

MR. SMITH: Look at the hon. the Member for Terra Nova, says my good friend from St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: Healthy as a hog, the specimen of health.

MR. SMITH: But I think the point that I am trying to make is that the opportunities are there. While it has been pointed out that we do have a limited land base, the regrettable thing is that much of that land base, I know in the area of the Province where I now reside, is lying idle and certainly can be used. However, what really, I suppose, bothers me more than anything else is the mind-set that prevails in the Province that somehow, agriculture is not a viable option, and this exists at a lot of levels and certainly, I guess, it can be found within our own Department of Forestry and Agriculture, with some of our own civil servants.

I think this is regrettable, although at the same time, I must confess, it is not something that I find terribly surprising. Anybody who has been involved in rural development in this Province, and has been trying to promote development regardless of where it is - and I have stated this in this hon. House prior as well, my experience over the years, and those people who have been involved with me in trying to promote development in rural areas, the experience invariably has been - and the hon. the Member for Placentia can certainly relate to that - is that when you meet with a government department with an idea, the first thing you know you are going to get is the 100 reasons why it won't work. Instead of having the mind-set and the attitude that it has potential, that there is something that can be done, instead what you are told, or tried to be convinced of, is that this is something you should walk away from; leave it; it has no potential; turn your interest to something else.

I think this is regrettable. I think this is one of the things that the Agri-Foods Report has tried to address, and has tried to redress, and it is something that in this Province we must continue to work towards because, indeed, as the motion as put forward by my hon. friend points out, this Agri-Foods Public Policy is so important.

Just recently I heard some interviews being conducted on CBC radio and one of the gentlemen being questioned is someone who is presently involved in agriculture. They were being asked, where do you see the potential in rural Newfoundland right now? They were speaking in terms of the large displacement of workers that we have had in our fishery. How are we going to deal with this major problem facing us in this Province? The first thing he pointed to in terms of opportunities was the fact that agriculture has so much potential, that there are so many opportunities, and that the opportunities are there and they are just waiting for people to come forward to show the initiative and to get on with the work.

In my own involvement over the years in Port au Port, working as a volunteer with the Port au Port Economic Development Association, we had always had agriculture as a part of our development plan. I have been informed, just as of today, that the Development Association in Port au Port are holding their annual meeting tomorrow night at which they will be unveiling the update on their development plan. The Development Association operates on the basis of five year plans and they will be unveiling tomorrow night their most recent development plan, and included in that, I am sure, will be a section devoted to agriculture and devoted to the promotion of this industry in the District of Port au Port.

Where are the opportunities in agriculture and agri-foods generally? Well, very simply and very clearly, I guess, the most obvious thing is in vegetable production. We have a ready market. Even in our own area there is very little that we cannot grow, and certainly because we have so few people right now who are producing them, there is a ready market available right at the local level.

One of the other things that is kind of interesting to note as well, and I am advised by my learned colleague from St. George's in one of the many discussion that he and I have had on this particular thing, is that the vegetables that are grown in Newfoundland are actually superior because of their fibre content. Now, that is kind of an interesting observation and certainly when that was relayed to me it certainly caught my attention, especially today where people are becoming more and more health conscious.

Certainly the hon. Minister of Health in his many learned dissertations in this House has pointed to the need to be concerned with wellness instead of sickness. As we all know the basis for good health is certainly good nutrition and for good nutrition you certainly need your fibre. There is no question about that as the hon. Member for St. John's North has wisely and aptly pointed out. It is certainly important. I think this is an interesting observation, the fact that the vegetables that are grown here in Newfoundland are superior.

Some of the other things in my own area that we have seen that do have potential - and I have mentioned this in the House previously, is sheep farming. This is an industry that in my own area of the Province at one time was very prominent, and over the years due to the efforts of certain individuals, like the late Gus Joy, who was a big promoter of this industry, we did meet with some success. Now, recently we have been trying to revive the industry, to try and convince young people in particular to make use of the available land mass and to turn to industries like sheep farming. The market for lamb in this Province is certainly very, very encouraging, and also as I pointed out to this hon. House on previous occasions it is my understanding that the product that is produced in this area in terms of lamb again is a superior product and one that is highly valued by the market.

Another area that has tremendous potential is an example of an industry that has been there for development but for various reasons has never taken off. In my own District of Port au Port for the last ten years we had an effort underway to develop a turkey farm, a commercial enterprise in turkey farming. One individual who was a champion of this cause, and who originally started it through the Development Association, when a proposal was submitted to government for funding - and I remember I was with the Development Association at the time, as a matter of fact I was president of the Development Association, and he was the agriculture chairman, he did up a proposal whereby he demonstrated that for an investment of $1.2 million we could create sixty jobs. Unfortunately, with the funding agencies of the day, we were not able to convince them that this was a viable venture, again running into the mind-set that unless it was something that was approved of or thought of within government it had no merit. Unfortunately, the idea, pardon the pun, would not fly.

Regrettably, within this part winter, the gentleman who is a close friend of mine, and had worked long and hard to develop this industry, who was on the verge of a major expansion, died suddenly of a heart attack, and right now I don't know what will become of that venture. I am hoping that his family will be able to pick up the pieces and rebound, and see this through to its logical conclusion, because it is an industry that will provide much needed employment in an area of the Province that sorely needs this employment.

We have, of late, seen some interesting developments, and I would just like to refer the hon. House to the February issue of The Ambassador newsletter in which there are two very interesting items there of developments in the agri-foods industry. The first is entitled, `A Very Fine Wine'. If I could read from this newsletter: A dentist in Whitbourne is commercializing a traditional blueberry wine recipe, with fantastic results. During December of 1993, Dr. Hillary Rodriguez put 250 cases of his Markland Cottage Winery Blueberry Wine on the market. It sold out within two weeks. The next shipment will be available late in February, at which point production capacity will keep pace with consumer demand.

Besides the recipe itself, he says, the reason for success of the product is the quality of berries in this Province - and this is something that is pointed out in the Agri-Foods Report as well, and we have heard the author of that report make reference to that in this House - our berry has a beautiful flavour and colour, he says. We don't use any fungicides or pesticides in this Province, and we don't have the blueberry maggot, which is certainly significant.

The winery is starting small, says Doctor Rodriguez, with a projected output of 2,000 cases per year, but he can expand as necessary as the product grows in popularity. He says there is a good export potential for the wine, and is investigating markets in Alberta, Ontario and the United Kingdom.

I had occasion to listen to a radio interview that was conducted by one of the radio stations with Doctor Rodriguez, in which he related his struggle to try to get this industry off the ground, and I recall from that radio interview, I think it took him something like eight or nine years to get all of the necessary permits just to proceed with this idea.

Now I submit to this hon. House that this snail's pace rate of development is not something that we can tolerate, that if we are going to deal with the underlying problems with the economy in this Province, somehow we have to improve the turnaround, where people have the ideas and they want to move with something like this, especially when they have money that they want to invest, and this is a gentleman who had money to invest, and is now creating wealth in this Province. It is a credit to him that he has persisted with this venture and has seen it through to a successful conclusion. I am sure we wish him well as the venture grows and expands, and generates wealth and employment for this Province.

Another venture that appears in this newsletter is entitled, `Business in a Jam', and it refers to Nightingale Farms, it is in a jam, and owners Rob and Brad Hynes are relishing every moment. The brothers own and operate the specialty food processing operation in Old Shop, Trinity Bay, that produces a variety of high quality jams, jellies and relishes for the special food market. You can find Nightingale Farm products in 275 corner stores across the Province, and on the shelves of Sobeys and Dominion supermarkets. Nightingale produces 5,000 bottles of jams, jellies and relishes a month, up from 2,000 when the Hynes brothers acquired the operation from the Upper Trinity South Regional Development Association in 1992.

At this point I would just like to interject, if I may, just to remind hon. members this is an example of the kinds of work that development associations do. This is an idea that development associations began, demonstrated that it could work, and then turned it over to private enterprise.

AN HON. MEMBER: What kind of jam do they make, Gerry?

MR. SMITH: What kind of jam?


MR. SMITH: I am not sure. I will give you their address after. You can contact them right after the House adjourns this evening.

During that time the operation has grown from four to eleven full and part-time employees. The brothers expect to double their output to 10,000 bottles a month just by servicing the current network of buyers. So these are two good examples of what is possible in the agri-foods area. If we have first of all the will and the motivation to pursue an idea and to carry it through to its successful completion.

Mr. Speaker, every fall I have occasion in my own area of the Province where I live, to visit a number of agricultural fairs. To hon. members who may have the opportunity and for those of you who have not taken advantage of it, I would certainly encourage you, any time you're in an area where you see the advertisement for an agriculture fair, by all means drop by. It's an amazing experience. I remember the first one I attended; I couldn't believe the variety and the quality of the things that were being produced in this Province. It goes from everything, from the vegetables that are being grown to livestock that's being raised, to the preserves, jams, jellies and things that are being produced but it goes to show the kinds of potential that does exist in terms of the agri-foods industry.

Just a few months ago I had occasion in the district of St. George's, at the invitation of the hon. Member for St. George's, to attend a function where everything on the menu at that meeting was produced in the district of St. George's. It was interesting, even right down to cheese that was on the table, which kind of surprised me because I didn't realize that cheese was being produced in this Province, but indeed it is in the district of St. George's. Again, it underlines and highlights, the capacity and the capability that we have for producing pretty well anything in the agri-foods area in this Province.

However, Mr. Speaker, I think we must conclude that we can do better. First of all I think we have to change the attitude - and I mentioned earlier the attitude of government but also I think we have to change the attitude of our own people because what's happened in recent years, within the rural areas, people have fallen away from agriculture. Our schools really haven't done a good job of promoting it. I know from my own experience that this is something that we tried through our community education initiative in Port au Port, one of the things that we included and made sure was included in the curriculum at the high school and junior high school level was a unit dealing with agriculture because we wanted to encourage young people to look at that as a possibility for a career choice.

Also government regulations; I think it's imperative that these be reviewed so that we do make it easier for people to get involved. This has been referenced earlier today, some of the problems related to that, land use, access to land and things of that nature. It's imperative that we make it as easy as possible for people who want to get involved in the agri-foods industry to do so.

I conclude by saying, Mr. Speaker, that I agree that there are tremendous opportunities in terms of economic development in the agri-foods sector and this is something I think, in keeping with the resolution that is put forward here by the hon. Member for St. George's, I think it is something that both sides of this House and the government in particular, certainly must continue to pursue. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CAREEN: I just want to say a few short words.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) transportation.

MR. CAREEN: No, I talked about transportation this morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, there's no need. I went in to see your smiling face this morning, that's all, just to brighten my day.

Anyway my friends, my ancestors came from North Waterford Island in Southern Tipperary - farmers who came out here to this rugged area and merchants in Placentia put them out to St. Mary's - The Capes area, Point Lance to raise sheep, cattle, barley and other stuff for the merchant people in Placentia to feed the men on their vessels. Their sons had to learn the fishing trade from Placentia Bay men up around the Cape. That's a little bit of history but there were a lot of people who came over here who were farmers, for some reason or other. Other poor devils came over here, and this is a bit of our own history, they came here from parts of Ireland because someone told them there was silver on the roads here, silver thaw, and they thought it was silver and they came over here. It's a fact, anyway, out at the Cape Shore where I came from originally, they made fresh butter in a small community like Point Lance, they had about eighty to ninety people there at the best of times back in the 40s, for four consecutive years, they exported out of that small community, two-and-a-half tons of fresh butter every year. They supplemented their income and that's the way it can be.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: They do it now yes, but there were people producing it with the old churns and the old way of doing stuff and it still tastes better, but people did those things and they were not looking to go to Florida, they didn't have all the expenses that our family homes do today, but they worked at it, everything was utilized and it wasn't a throw away society as we are in. The Member for Port au Port said about producing cheese in his district and it is important, because the other things we have to look at in Canada, is an Eastern European - particularly in the Ontario area, with an appetite for goats.

I have an article at home that in 1867, where an MP from Ireland travelled all through North America and Newfoundland, he was talking about the best uses for sheep, and early in this mid-century the depression was on, they paid people bonuses to clear land; we are talking about silviculture in whatever changes are going to come to this NCARP Program or TFAA and these other odds and ends, but in some places on this Island, well probably we should use it to clear land and make it available like in the bonus system of the 30s. I just wanted to clarify and put on the record a few odds and ends from where I come, and thank you very much.

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

MS. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take a few moments to refer to some of the comments made by my hon. colleague from Humber Valley with regard to the dairy industry. I certainly have great respect for the dairy industry and the dairy producers of this Province. You were trying to inform my colleague from Harbour Main that indeed you do need 100 litres a day to be viable -

MR. WOODFORD: A thousand.

MS. YOUNG: A thousand, I'm sorry. - a thousand litres a day to be viable and that is a situation that we find ourselves in as established producers, that we could not get 1,000 litres per day from the Milk Marketing Board, but we were getting by on 565 litres a day, new entrants coming in and told them they could have up to 1,000 litres within a few years; however, there was no explanation for us as to why we couldn't get that and we were not told when we could get that so as a result any financial management decisions we made on our farm, you know, it was useless trying to make any therefore we were fortunate in the fact that we hadn't run ourselves head and ears in debt; we were able to sell our quotas, sell our cows and get into beef.

Unfortunately, there are quite a number of farmers out there who weren't as fortunate as we were, they were dangled with this quota bit and were never told what would happen to them and I don't think they were all as fortunate as we were. On the other hand, there was good management exercised on our farm and I would certainly like to point out that, we took no vacations in the sunny South. We made sure our bills were paid and when we sold our quota we could hold our heads up. And I would like to go on record as saying that I do support supply management.

I want to speak, too, about the school milk program. This government has, indeed, co-operated with the dairy farmers and, I guess, the Milk Marketing Board, in this case, to establish the school milk program. That was something that I had, as a dairy farmer, advocated, that we should, indeed, support a school milk program. It is very beneficial for a number of reasons. You could certainly look at improvement in the overall health of a child, and certainly in the area of dental work. On the other hand, you are driving up the production of milk and you are helping more farmers get into the dairy business, so that, in itself, is wonderful.

I want to point out something for the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, and I want to thank him for his interest, too, in the agricultural industry, along with my colleagues on this side who spoke in favour of the motion. The hon. member said that it is far from satisfactory, the work that has been done as a result of the Report of the Task Force on Agri-foods. You have to realize that it was in 1986 that the Report on Employment and Unemployment recommended that a task force be set up; however, the former Tory government saw no reason to proceed with that. It was not until this government was elected in 1989 that progress was made in the beginning of this task force.

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: You are saying what was implemented. I know what you are saying but I wanted to point out for you that the previous government did nothing in that regard. At least we certainly did bring in the task force and we are trying to implement as many of the recommendations as are feasible, and looking at the cost as well.

The Member for Port de Grave pointed out to me, too, that even in the district of Bay de Verde - Port de Grave, I am sorry - he will never forgive me.

MR. EFFORD: Port de Grave.

MS. YOUNG: Port de Grave, yes. There are several major farms down there which gross at least $300,000 per farm, and isn't that wonderful? No doubt there is employment created. My colleague, the Member for Port au Port mentioned that the turkey farm in his area wasn't a success.

AN HON. MEMBER: There's a turkey farm (inaudible), too.

MS. YOUNG: But this turkey farm is working quite well! In my district, we have a couple of very successful turkey operations. They are very small, but it is wonderful for Christmas dinner to eat a fresh local turkey and there is no comparison to picking up one of those frozen imported ones. Ours are far superior.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: They are fairly big, aren't they? They grow them big down here.

Subsidization is essential. We sometimes hear complains from people outside the industry that farmers are subsidized to the hilt, but you also have to realize that if farmers were not subsidized, the cost of food would be much higher, and when you look at the overall amount of subsidization to farmers, it isn't that great as compared to some of the other industries out there.

We are noticing that there are fewer farms than were reported in the stats of years ago. There are fewer farms but higher efficiency - greater production and higher efficiency. We are noticing, too, in statistics that there are quite a number of female operators of farms. We are noticing, as well, that there are a greater number of people with higher education, and they are professionals in other fields. The board that I sat on at the national level, we had an accountant, we had a nurse, we had a couple of teachers, we had secretaries. We are noticing that a number of younger entrants into the industry are actually becoming educated in the field of agriculture.

There are some very positive things taking place with regard to government. In the spring of 1992, the Agriculture branch of the Department of Forestry and Agriculture initiated a process to formulate a development strategy which would lead the industry into the 21st century. The participants in this process include the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture, provincial commodity boards and associations, Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada, the Economic Recovery Commission, and the Newfoundland Department of Forestry and Agriculture.

I'm just going to flip over to some of the areas that have been identified as key elements for a viable and competitive industry. One is the reduction in the high cost of imported feed grains; the further development of infrastructure in production, marketing and processing; greater co-operation between both levels of government, producers, and processors; the recognition of challenges to the industry's prosperity and the ways and means to adapt to these challenges; greater emphasis on marketing and adding value to locally produced products; and the continued adaptation and expansion of educational training to meet the changing needs of the agricultural industry.

The opportunities out there in the agricultural field are great. In the area of chicken, there is the expansion of primary production we can look at. We can certainly look at secondary processing, and some of you probably have eaten some of the products that we have here in Newfoundland - the Blue Ribbon chicken. Again, it is of superior quality to the frozen imports. There is potential for a local breeder flock.

With eggs, there is utilization - looking at the utilization of spent hens; those are the old hens that we don't need any more for production. They have outworn their usefulness in that department, so you move them over to the meat department.

In the dairy - it was just last summer that I visited the creamery down on - whose district would that be, probably Manning's -

MR. EFFORD: If it's a Tory district, don't talk about it.

MS. YOUNG: Cape St. Mary's.

MR. EFFORD: A Tory district? Stay out of it. Stay out of the Tory districts.

MS. YOUNG: Anyway, there is a creamery down that way, Spyglass, and it has the best fresh butter that I have ever eaten.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. YOUNG: It is wonderful, yes. And I just hope that our restaurants and our hotels are smart enough to use it. It is again, a superior product.

MR. EFFORD: Can you imagine, you were eating Tory cheese.

MS. YOUNG: Butter, butter.

MR. EFFORD: Well, Tory butter.

MS. YOUNG: In dairy, there are certainly opportunities to raise our own heifers instead of having to bring them in from outside the Province, forage development so that we can grow our own forage. Grains are something we are having problems with because of our climatic conditions, but maybe some day they will come up with a hardy breed that will be able to survive our cold temperatures.

With hogs, we are looking at the export of breeding stock to other parts of Canada, and small-scale processing. Maybe some of you have eaten bacon that has been processed in this Province.

MR. EFFORD: Only in Liberal districts.

MS. YOUNG: Oh, yes, only in the Liberal districts, and it is just wonderful Liberal bacon.

We are looking at vegetables, again, secondary processing. Look at how many bags of potato chips are eaten in this Province. How many of them are produced in Newfoundland? Well, we know the answer to that.

We could certainly look at production on peat soils. We know that many of the carrots that we grow in this Province are sort of deformed, and that is because of our rocky soil and they just can't grow as well. Maybe by growing them in peat soils we could do better.

There is a niche also for organically grown or chemical-free products. Some people are demanding that and are prepared to pay the extra price for it.

My hon. colleague, the Member for Humber Valley talked about beef production. That is an area we are all familiar with as well. It is possible, if you can grow your own forage, to make a half-decent livelihood from that, after you build up your stocks and you raise your own calves. The utilization of animal hides, I mean, look at how much leather is worn; leather shoes, leather bags, leather coats, there's a potential for that from the animals hides.

Sheep, again there is room for expansion there. With the sheep family we can look at too probably an increase in market value when we get into meat inspection facilities. I alluded to the fur industry and many of you spoke about the fruit and berries that are grown here in this Province. Some of them are grown wild and others are cultivated. When you look around your neighbour's yards and you drive through a community, you're seeing more and more in this Province that people are taking pride in their property. They are growing wonderful lawns, they're planting beautiful flowers and there's a market for that in this Province through our greenhouses.

Now in order to bring about and to realize some of these opportunities, making them become realities, there are policy issues that have to be addressed. Like the future direction of the Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation we have to look at resource funding and all of you are talking about how dedicated you are to the agricultural industry in this Province, well, if you are dedicated you should be joining with our Minister of Forestry and Agriculture and helping us lobby for more money because I look at the demands. The demands for money for agriculture, ladies and gentlemen, was over $9 million. The demand for it and we were only able to provide $2,857,000 but the demand was for over $9 million. This was just a few weeks ago that these funds were announced.

We also have to look at the livestock and poultry feeds. We have to look at the right to farm legislation because we have our urban neighbours moving closer to the country, they're encroaching upon farm land, they get there, they want to live in the beautiful countryside beside the wonderful farms, they get out there and they realize there are farm odours from the livestock and they don't want that. So then there are court cases laid against our people.


MS. YOUNG: Oh, yes there have been numerous cases.

MR. EFFORD: Drive them back to St. John's.

MS. YOUNG: But six of the provinces in Canada and most states in the United States have now enacted legislation of this nature.

MR. EFFORD: Every one of them, drive them all back to St. John's.

MS. YOUNG: Municipal tax is also something else that has to be dealt with, so I hope my colleague there in front of me is listening to that one as well.

I would now like to close debate on this motion, and I would ask for all hon. members' support for this resolution that I have offered on behalf of my knowledgeable and dedicated colleague from St. George's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

All those in favour of the motion, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Contra-minded, `nay'.


MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to once again inform hon. members that tomorrow we will be dealing with the Interim Supply Bill that we spent so much productive time on on Tuesday.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is that again?

MR. BAKER: Interim Supply tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Shall we call it five o'clock?

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