April 25, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLII  No. 29

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Before starting the regular business today, I would like to rule on two points of order raised last week. On Thursday, April 21, 1994 the MHA for St. John's East rose on a point of order concerning the practice of having more than one minister speak in answer to a question. This arose from a question posed by the hon. the Opposition House Leader which was answered in part by the Premier who then asked the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to deal with the specific detail of the number of people who would cease to receive benefits under the federal fisheries program. I note that no objection was made by the questioner, the hon. the Opposition House Leader when the government dealt with the question in this fashion. Our Standing Orders are silent on the issue. There is, of course, no requirement that the government or any particular member of it must answer a question. If it chooses to do so, the government may itself decide which person will answer the question. Similarly, there is no prohibition against the government deciding that more than one member of government should answer the question, or parts thereof. This has happened on sufficient occasions, in my view, to form a practice or precedent of this House, which the hon. members have accepted over the course of years. Furthermore, it is a practice which should assist rather than hinder our functioning, since it avoids the reposing of the question to another government member with the detailed knowledge to answer the question. Although the British system is different, I have looked at Erskine May, and in that jurisdiction the questions that are going to be asked in Question Period have to put on the Order Paper the day before and then they may be followed with oral supplementaries. The supplementaries in British practice can be answered by any other minister and passed off by one minister to another. I find nothing in either our rules or British practice that would validate the point of order by the hon. member. For these reasons, therefore, there is no proper point of order and the government was acting properly in answering the questions as it did.

The second point of order was on Friday, April 22, 1994 and was raised by the hon. the Member for Kilbride. At that time, I think, he objected to the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations who had said that he had asked a question which he had not, or at least that was the interpretation put on it by the Member for Kilbride. This referred to a comment made by the hon. minister during Question Period, that the hon. the Member for Kilbride had said on a previous occasion, "Why do you train all of these people when there was no job for them?" There is no authority under our Standing Orders that either requires or permits the Speaker to resolve such matters. If members dispute what was said on an occasion, or previous occasions, we have the public record in the form of Hansard which can be reviewed to settle such differences. Any person, member of the public, or member of this House, may review it and draw his or her own conclusions. Accordingly, since the record is there and since I have no authority under our rules to make such a termination I can't do so, and therefore there is, of course, no point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

While I realize we don't often do this, today and this morning I had occasion to speak to the father of Pte. George Anderson, as he is referred to by the media, the young man who had a serious accident in Croatia, who happens to be a Newfoundlander serving in the military. He is known, by the way, to his family in Cape Ray as `Tommy'. His second name is Thomas; his first name is George. The media have been calling him George but his name, as far as family and friends are concerned over in Cape Ray, is Tommy. He is twenty-two years old.

His father, Ralph Anderson from Cape Ray, told me that he is presently being treated in Zagreb hospital, which is an American military hospital. At the moment he is in stable condition. I guess everybody would be aware, from media reports, that he lost the lower part of both of his legs in a mine accident, and lost one of his eyes, but his father told me that he is in stable condition and he is hopeful that Tommy will be back in Ottawa hopefully by the end of this week, although he doesn't have anything specific in terms of being able to say for certain.

I thought it wise to at least call the family and express our best wishes for a recovery. In the meantime, it probably would be appropriate if Your Honour, on behalf of all members of the House, might somehow try to communicate with Pte. Anderson himself, possibly the family as well in Cape Ray, and express the best wishes from the members of the House, at least, for a very speedy recovery.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I obviously wish, on behalf of my colleagues on this side of the House, to associate ourselves with that, but before I do so I understood we had earlier agreed in the House - perhaps I misunderstood - that whenever a member felt it appropriate to convey the concern of the House, he or she would simply have a word with Your Honour and with the Clerk and an appropriate letter would be sent. If that is to be the case, and certainly we on this side would support that, then I think we should follow the procedure and when the Opposition leader telephones Mr. Anderson's family to make enquiries, which he did, and which we can understand his doing, he would simply have a word with Your Honour or with somebody in Your Honour's office and an appropriate letter would go.

With that said, let me go on to say that I understand a very high proportion of the men and women who serve in Canada's armed services are people who grew up, or were born and grew up, and live here in Newfoundland and Labrador. A Canadian vessel that's been in Yugoslavian waters was here this weekend and I heard a newscast that 20 per cent of her crew were Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. So we make a contribution well beyond our numbers, as to people of the Province, well beyond our numbers to the armed services and accidents such as befell Cpl. Anderson are an unfortunate hazard of the trade. I think all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would admire the men and women of this Province who volunteer to serve in Canadian Armed Forces. We all express our revulsion and our horror that accidents or incidents of this nature happen and I know that we join with the Opposition Leader in asking Your Honour to send an appropriate message to Cpl. Anderson and to his family. With that said I think we should - if we've agreed on the procedure we should honour it and deal with the matter in that way which would be appropriate and in my view entirely fitting. Thank you, Sir.

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

MR. SIMMS: On a point of order, on this other issue. I wasn't aware that there was any kind of an agreement on procedures. I just checked with the Opposition House Leader and he wasn't aware that there was any particular agreement on anything. So it's obviously a matter that needs to be fleshed out a little bit further so that we do have a specific agreement and understanding.

My understanding in fact - as I think I've spoke to the House Leader one day before - was that why don't we implement the changes that were agreed upon by the committee headed by the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island some two years ago which provided for a period of time at the beginning of each daily sitting of maybe ninety seconds to a maximum of ten minutes which would allow members on both sides of the House to get up for ninety seconds or a minute or whatever was required and if anybody had anything specific they wanted to relate to their own constituency or Province-wide level, be it a congratulatory message for somebody winning a basketball tournament, whether it's a passing or whatever it might be. I remember mentioning that to the House Leader one day but honestly I don't know or recall where there was a specific agreement - hard, factual, specific agreement put in place - so it's a matter that we should pursue because I think there should be an opportunity for those kinds of things to occur, certainly such as the thing we raised this morning or today.

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

MR. ROBERTS: On that point of order, Mr. Speaker, it's obvious there's a misunderstanding and we can leave it at that. I would agree, we should address it. Perhaps my friend from Grand Bank and I will be able to do that in the next little while so we can try to work out a procedure and bring it back to get an agreement to the House. Whether the method suggested by my friend from Grand Falls is the appropriate method remains to be seen but we'll deal with that and come back to the House. The other way would be to notify us in advance on this side because all these are matters of leave.

Whenever a member rises to speak, Mr. Speaker, other than pursuant to the Standing Orders, it's a matter of leave. We raised no objection because we didn't know what was coming but the other way would be to clear it in advance one way or the other. In any event perhaps my friend from Grand Bank and I will find an opportunity in the next little while to deal with this and see what we can work out for the House.

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

MR. HARRIS: I was under the understanding that the Government House Leader was going to actually get together with the Opposition House Leader and myself to look at what might be done. I had suggested some time ago, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that perhaps that section of the rules dealing with Oral Statements at the beginning of the Orders of the Day, allowing perhaps sixty minutes instead of ninety minutes for whatever statements members would want to make would give everyone an opportunity to say either these kinds of messages or policy statements or urging the government to take certain action, could all be done in a very brief period and wouldn't require two or three people to get up and speak on a particular issue.

On the particular issue that we had obviously, in these circumstances, I would want to associate myself with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition and the Government House Leader and it requires all of us. I mean, I think that anyone watching the proceedings would know that all members of the House support this, but in the circumstances that we have, it really requires all to get up and have a say, so I think either we ought to have some meeting of the minds on this or somebody ought to make a decision, and it seems to me that implementing the change in the Standing Orders with respect to Oral Statements with perhaps some modification making them slightly shorter, would meet the requirements and avoid this kind of awkwardness at the beginning of Orders of the Day.

Statements by Ministers

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House of Assembly today about the signing of a four-year Canada-Newfoundland Letter of Co-operation on Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy.

This letter of co-operation was given Cabinet approval last month and on April 19 in Ottawa, it was signed by my federal counterpart, Anne McLellan, the Minister of Natural Resources for Canada and I. I am tabling a press release and a back grounder that are being issued in the next few minutes.

This agreement provides for the orderly planning, control and limited funding of co-operative initiatives to boost energy efficiency and the use of local alternative energy resources in Newfoundland and Labrador. This follows from Action 95 of the Strategic Economic Plan, which is to implement my department's strategic plan for energy efficiency and alternative energy.

Initiatives include: public information and education, technical and financial assistance for appropriate projects, regulatory changes and research.

Thank you.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to the minister that we on this side support anything that is going to have an effect on energy efficiency in this Province. I read with interest as the minister stated that the initiatives that they are going to include in his department is public information, and I am just wondering if that is going to be the same type of information that he had on the Hydro sale and it is also interesting to note that as part of their agreement, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Mines and Energy is leading a consultation process on the adoption of a new energy code in Newfoundland and, Mr. Speaker, I want to really commend the minister for starting and leading a consultation program, because from his department, we haven't seen anything like that so far.

MR. SPEAKER: Further Statements by Ministers?

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome nineteen participants in Improving Your Odds course at Bryants Cove who are visiting the House of Assembly today accompanied by their instructors Ms. Eileen Crane and Ms. Joanne Dalton.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to ask the Premier some questions about the application of Part II of Bill No. 2, which is An Act To Regulate The Electrical Power Resources Of Newfoundland And Labrador. Part II you will remember, Mr. Speaker, is the part that allows the Public Utilities Board to expropriate power from the Upper Churchill as the Premier explained in his Province-wide t.v. and radio address on March 24, which is basically covered by clause 8(2).

But clause 8(3), (4) and (5), as the Premier would know, also allows the Public Utilities Board, at the request of another utility, to take power and facilities from any electrical utility in the Province, including the electrical utility owned by the paper companies at Corner Brook and Grand Falls. I would like to ask the Premier, has he discussed the implications of Part II with the two paper companies concerned?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question goes a long way toward explaining why I asked hon. members on this side of the House not to address this issue in the context of Upper Churchill. He now comes out with the suggestion that this bill is intended to expropriate power from the Upper Churchill. It is totally false. That is not the intention and purpose of the bill.

His follow up question then makes very clear what the bill says. It authorizes the Public Utilities Board to redirect any power - any power, no exceptions - to meet the needs of the people of this Province. Not expropriating anything from anybody. It is to manage the power that is generated in this Province in such a manner as to first and foremost meet the needs of the people of this Province. It makes no specific reference to Upper Churchill. It makes no specific reference to power companies. It makes no specific reference to any individual generator of power.

What it does is establish the principle that the Public Utilities Board has to supervise the management of all hydroelectric power generated in the Province in such a manner as to meet first and foremost the needs of the people of this Province, and it sets guidelines as to what are the principles under which they can do it.

For example, they say it specifically provides that any generator of power that generates the power for its own consumption has a priority access to that power, and if the requirements of the Province can be met, and the terms of the legislation can be met, to produce the least possible interruption with any existing contract.

So if the objectives of the statute can be met through other means, then there is to be no interruption in any existing contract. It sets out principles, and for the hon. Leader of the Opposition to put it forward in this way spells out very clearly, and indicates very clearly, why it was necessary for the government to ask members not to raise this issue because it creates an inflammatory circumstance as far as dealings with Hydro Quebec and Quebec is concerned that is totally unnecessary and unwarranted.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, it's too bad the Premier didn't answer the question I asked him. I asked him, had he discussed the implications of Part II with the paper companies. Obviously he has not.


MR. SIMMS: Okay.

It is too bad you weren't as self-righteous and pious in your opinions back in 1986, when you wrote your legal opinions to the company, Newfoundland Power, when you were the lawyer for them, when you said: The exercise of such authority by the Public Utilities Board could adversely affect the operations of Abitibi-Price and Kruger Incorporated.

You said it then in 1986, and I am asking him the same question here today, so don't get up and preach, and lecture to us about how we should ask our questions. Why doesn't he answer the questions instead of getting up, preaching to us in such a sanctimonious way.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, there is a question. When the legislation comes into force, if you read the legislation, Kruger and Abitibi-Price will no longer have the absolute right to the cheap power that they produce and use to manufacture paper at Corner Brook and in Grand Falls. He knows that. That is the way the legislation is written. I asked him a straightforward, sensible question. Did he discuss it? He now says, `no'.

Well, isn't he concerned at all, because at the very least this legislation injects an element of uncertainty about the future supply of power to the paper companies, and we all know the two paper companies have been struggling. Is he concerned at all that any uncertainty about future power supply might cause Kruger and/or Abitibi-Price to reconsider their operations in the Province? Is he concerned about that at all?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, either he hasn't read the legislation or he doesn't understand it. What he stated is not the effect of the legislation. It was never intended to be the effect of the legislation, and it is not the effect.

Here is what section 3 says, and I suggest he read section 3, because section 8 directs the Public Utilities Board to apply the power policy set out in section 3. Here is what section 3 says:

All sources and facilities for the production, transmission and distribution of power in the Province should be managed and operated in a manner:

(i) that would result in the most efficient production, etc...

(ii) that would result in consumers in the Province having equitable access to an adequate supply of power,

(iii) that would result in power being delivered to consumers in the Province at the lowest possible cost consistent with reliable services; and here's the important one,

(iv) that would result in a producer having priority to consume the power it produces.

Abitibi and Kruger, as producers of the power, would have priority to consume the power it produces, so it doesn't attack their power.

Now there is one exception to that. In the event of an emergency, if Bay d'Espoir goes down and we don't have an adequate supply of power in the Province to meet the emergency, what do we do - close the hospitals or shut down the paper mills for a day or two? That's the question. If we are in that circumstance, then what the standard sets for what is to happen in the event of an emergency clearly gives the Public Utilities Board the power to access any power in the Province in the event of an emergency, and that includes power generated by Abitibi, or power generated by Kruger, and I have had no complaint whatsoever. They are aware of it. I have had no complaint whatsoever by either one of those paper companies. I can only assume that they are sensitive to the fact, Mr. Speaker, that there may be priorities higher than the operation of their paper-mills in the Province in the event of an emergency.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier has just done is what he so often does, he uses Part 3 of the legislation, power emergencies. We are not talking about that section, Mr. Speaker, of the legislation, we are talking about Part 2 of the legislation, planning allocation and reallocation of power and facilities.

PREMIER WELLS: Section 3 not Part 3.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, but you can read Part 3. You can also read Part 4, you can read Part 5, and anyway you want to read it at all, and Clause 11, Subsection 2(a) (b) (c), which talks about contracts and all the rest. The reality, Mr. Speaker, and the truth of the matter is that there is a larger problem here for Kruger and Abitibi-Price, and it could very well be the effect that this legislation might have on the market value of their assets in the Province. The company-owned electrical utilities are a major part of the assets of both companies, Kruger and Abitibi-Price. That is a fact, Mr. Speaker, and absolute access to their own cheap power is perhaps the only major advantage that they have in a highly competitive industry. The Premier must be aware of that.

So, I am asking the Premier: does he not agree that the loss of absolute right to use that power, and the perpetual threat of taking away that power, which is in this legislation, and their facilities, does he not agree that that certainly could devalue the assets of the two companies involved in this Province, and could that not effect their continued operations? Is he not concerned about any of that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am not the slightest bit concerned, Mr. Speaker. To the best of my knowledge neither of the companies have the slightest concern. I presume they have read the legislation. As a matter of fact both of the companies have expressed support for this, Mr. Speaker, primarily because the interpretation given by the Leader of the Opposition is totally without merit. We have met with both companies since this legislation was introduced and tabled.

MR. SIMMS: I know you met them quite a few times.

PREMIER WELLS: We met with both companies since, and we met with Abitibi here in St. John's since this legislation was tabled. Mr. Speaker, they have read both Section 8(2) and Section 3. Now what Section 8, Subsection (2) gives is power to the Public Utilities Board to reallocate or allocate the power, how?... in such manner as the Public Utilities Board considers to be necessary to implement the power policies set out in Paragraph 3(b). Now go back and look at Paragraph 3(b) and that is exactly what I just read to you, Mr. Speaker, that gives a producer of power the priority to use the power it produces. Neither Abitibi is concerned, nor is Kruger concerned, because the bill does not do what the Leader of the Opposition says. I recommend to the Leader of the Opposition that he now read Subsection (2) of Section 8, and then go back and read Paragraph (b) of Section 3, and if he does not understand it, then ask somebody to advise him on the combined effect of the two, and I think he will then come clearly to the conclusion that his interpretation is not correct.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we are very much used to the Premier saying it is his view and his opinion and that is the only opinion that anybody should listen to. Let me recommend to the Premier, since he is making recommendations to me, may I be bold enough to recommend to the Premier that he check with the two paper companies to see if they have any concerns? That is all I will say for now, but may I ask him this question? Can the Premier tell us what he meant when he wrote his legal opinion to Newfoundland Power on July 7, 1986 when he was their lawyer, addressed to Dr. Bruneau, when he said: referring to the exercise by the Public Utilities Board as outlined in this legislation, the same thing, could adversely affect the operations at Abitibi-Price and Kruger in the Province. Could he tell the House what he meant by that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I would have to go back and read it but my guess is yes, this legislation could adversely affect the operations of Abitibi-Price and Kruger in the Province if there is an emergency. If Bay d'Espoir goes out tomorrow the Public Utilities Board can direct Deer Lake Power or Abitibi-Price to feed that power into the grid to operate schools and hospitals. Yes, it could affect Abitibi-Price and Kruger to that extent.

What I don't know is whether this legislation is precisely the same as the draft that we were looking at at that time. I can say that the Public Utilities Board re-allocating power on the request of a distributor of power cannot affect Abitibi-Price and Kruger under this legislation. Will not, because the Public Utilities Board is specifically directed to follow the power policy set out in section 3, paragraph (b) of the act, and that specifically provides for a producer having priority to consume the power it produces.

That is what was said, that is what is intended, that is what the Department of Justice advised us is the effect of it, that is what the Legislative Counsel advised us is the effect of it when they drafted it, Mr. Speaker, and I accept their advice ahead of the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm not surprised the Premier wouldn't accept my advice. I'm offering him a bit of advice in the hope of trying to improve the situation. May I tell him that in putting forth my advice I'm using the words of the highest power in the land, the highest authority - your own words from 1986.

PREMIER WELLS: You are misstating my words.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, I'm misstating. I see: Their right of priority to that electric power would under the proposed legislation only exist where alternative sources of power might be available. These are all his words but I'm interpreting them all wrong, Mr. Speaker.

Let me ask the Premier this question, because he and I can argue this till the cows come home. All I say to him is that I am concerned that there could be some problems with respect to the paper companies. Can I ask him this, because not only is it because it should be a concern -


MR. SIMMS: It is not fraudulent, Mr. Speaker, it is a sincere concern, I can tell him. He can slough it off all he wants, but I'm telling him there is a concern out there. If he would be prepared to take this as a serious concern, and the House too - let me ask him this, if he is so sure there is no concern about it out there, if he is so certain, if the Premier is so certain -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) call John Manuel. Give John Manuel a call.

MR. SIMMS: No good to call John Manuel. If there is no concern, Mr. Speaker, or no concern on the part of the Premier that there is no concern with respect to this from the companies, would he be prepared to put the legislation to a select committee of the House so that they can hold some public hearings and in fact hear from the paper companies on this particular issue?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. I suspect what the Leader of the Opposition is doing is referring to the legislation as it was drafted at that time. The legislation as it was drafted at that time - that is not this. It is a quite different piece of legislation.

MR. SIMMS: This is Bill No. 2, boy.

PREMIER WELLS: This is Bill No. 2, but the legislation in respect of which that opinion that you are reading from was given has different words in it than this legislation does.

MR. SIMMS: No, not much.

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, enough to make the difference. If the hon. member knows that difference it is quite improper for him to suggest what he has done.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) don't know that.

PREMIER WELLS: Then let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn't know it. The word that he just stated there gave me the clue to it. That it would affect the paper companies because their right would only apply where no other alternative exists, as is the case now in respect of power emergency. This legislation has been changed and specifically provides for producers of power having a priority to use the power.

Mr. Speaker, I've just sent for a copy of the opinion from which the hon. the Leader of the Opposition is reading. I will give the House the full state as soon as I get that and explain to the House, perhaps later in the debate, the basis on which this totally wrong impression is being created by the Leader of the Opposition.

Let me say clearly, it is the intention of the government to put forward legislation to the House that would provide for producers of power having priority to consume the power they produce, and we think that's what this legislation does. If it doesn't, we are prepared to see it amended to have that effect, but we think it does it. It does it now, and for the Leader of the Opposition to create this confusion in this way is irresponsible, Mr. Speaker, irresponsible.

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

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

I have a question for the Premier.

Last Tuesday I questioned the Premier on the mandate of the Fishing Industry Renewal Boards. At that time it was obvious the Premier had concerns about it and on Wednesday morning, I believe, he wrote a letter to federal fisheries Minister Tobin. I am wondering if the Premier has had a response, either written or verbal from Mr. Tobin concerning the mandate of the Fishing Industry Renewal Boards. Has Mr. Tobin now clarified that matter to the Premier's satisfaction?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have had discussions with the minister since that time and I am satisfied that the minister and I will resolve it in a way that will be quite satisfactory to me.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I think that sums it up very well; it will be satisfactory to the Premier and to heck with the rest of us, I guess. I want to ask the Premier, would he be so kind as to table the letter to Mr. Tobin so we can see his concerns? That is just a lead-up question, but another question to the Premier.

In his press conference last week, Mr. Tobin said that a little over $300 million of the $1.9 billion in the new TAGS program was earmarked to reduce capacity in Atlantic Canada - over $300 million; there were different components, and I wonder if the Premier would have any idea how much of that money will be spent in this Province and if the Province participates on the Industry Renewal Boards which yet it seems still has not been fully sorted out, will it also contribute financially to the cost of reducing excess capacity in the fishing industry?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I wouldn't table the letter without Mr. Tobin's consent but I certainly have no objection on a personal basis of tabling the letter. The minister representing this Province in the federal Cabinet and the Premier of the Province, whatever their political stripes, have to have the freedom to exchange correspondence back and forth without tabling it all the time, but I will speak with the minister and if he has no objection, I can tell the House, I don't.

Mr. Speaker, on the other question of the $300 million allocated for capacity reduction, there is no specific assignation that I know of - now, I say, that I know of; whether or not the minister and others have had some discussions on this, I don't know, but I don't know that a specific amount is assigned for this Province. I would expect that the great majority of it would be used in this Province because, of course, 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the overall problem is in this Province, so one would expect that the majority of it would be used in this Province.

The third question that he asked, Mr. Speaker: Was the Province prepared to participate? - not if we can avoid it. I don't want to have the taxpayers of this Province have to pay out millions of dollars if the government can avoid it. If it is necessary and fair, we will do what we have to do to deal effectively with the problem on a fair basis, but I am certainly going to try to avoid this Province and its taxpayers having to pay out any money.

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

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

The Premier and the Minister of Fisheries have taken the position really, that government should have nothing to do with which plants you close, either directly or indirectly. They consistently said that market forces should dictate. It seems now that your willingness to participate in the Industry Renewal Boards indicates a change in your position. Does that mean that the Province is now willing to consider compensation to owners of fish plants that will be shut down by the Industry Renewal Boards? Can the Premier clarify that matter for us?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. The hon. member is jumping over great chasms in coming to conclusions of that nature. We have never said the government of the Province should have nothing to do with management or location of plants or anything of this nature. The minister put forward a Green Paper, I guess about twelve months ago; I have forgotten exactly when, but it was at least about a year ago. And we put forward a proposal at that time as to how it ought to be dealt with, and that provided for regulation and provided very much for a joint federal-provincial board determining where the plants should be located and what plants should be licensed and so on. That's quite a different thing from the chasm over which the hon. member jumped when he asked his questions and jumped to that conclusion, that doesn't follow.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

Today, DFO and HRD officials indicated that the new TAGS program payments will be delivered in a manner similar to U.I. payments, in which the recipient will receive a cheque every two weeks with accompanying forms. He will then complete the forms stating his income over that two-week period. Then he will lose, as with U.I., 25 per cent of earnings he is permitted under that program. Now will the minister confirm that fisherpeople pursuing other fisheries and marginal fisheries will now be subject to 100 per cent call-back on their income rather than the 50 per cent that was in effect under NCARP, AGAP, FCTA and other such programs?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member opposite understands, as does everybody, and there was a further press conference this morning, that in the effort being made under the TAGS program of incorporating several different existing programs into a single program that will continue forward after May 16, there were indeed some necessary changes. One of them is in the benefit level, another, in a new eligibility determination that will apply to everybody in the existing programs to determine whether or not they continue on. And, in fact, there will be changes made because there are a series of options now available to people to pursue ranging from retirement, to training options, to job search options and so on that were not in the previous programs. In order to put all of these options before the people, either plant workers or fish harvesters, there were also adjustments made in the direction of making sure that those people who are engaged in the active fishery will not be unduly penalized and will not be in any way discouraged or encouraged not to fish. In fact, they will be able to earn their income and also, if they need to, during periods that they are not active, be able to go back into and receive benefits from the adjustment program.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Retirement options were there in the old program, training was there under the old program, inside and outside the fishery. The minister is only beating around the bush. Let's admit it and say here in this House that there will be a 100 per cent call-back. Admit it and tell the truth, that's what the question was.

Now I'll ask him another question since he talked about numbers. Under the new TAGS program, it is estimated that only 6,600 people are now going to remain on the program after five years. Now, people who have been employed in the seasonal inshore fisheries for the past number of years are now going to be dropped. People who have been in fishing receiving 100 per cent of their income from fishing are now going to be dropped before year four of the program because they have only received a minimum U.I. qualification of ten weeks per year. The minister knows well that ten weeks per year will get you forty weeks; that, times five, is 200 weeks. So lifetime fisherpeople and plant workers now, who have devoted their whole life to the industry - will the minister confirm that they now will be dropped, before the end of year four, from this program?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, again, the exception I take more than anything else is to the language that the members opposite continue to use with respect to the program. The program is not designed to drop anybody from a program. What it is designed to do is to provide the maximum amount of benefit for the maximum justifiable period of time and the program is designed to say the justifiable period of time will be dependent upon the attachment to the industry. Those people who can show a life-long attachment with certain earnings levels and so on, will be in the program for the maximum period of time which is five years. Those who cannot show that level of attachment will not be eligible for continuing compensation for the maximum of five years. It might be a shorter period, but they will be encouraged and given every opportunity in the interim to avail of one of the other program options. Keep remembering, Mr. Speaker, that the two governments along with the industry representatives, both the union, processors and plant owners, are committed to looking at the renewal of the industry. Because everybody is taken care of for the full two-year period if they are re-eligible. If it is determined that they are eligible, they will continue on for a full two years after May 16. In that period of time, every effort that's occurring will deal with industry renewal for the existing, re-opening and redeveloping fishery of the future, as well as the economic development initiatives that we are going to work at to make sure that there are opportunities, not only for people who will be displaced from the fishery but for the other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who would look forward to some increased opportunities to find gainful employment.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's obvious the minister doesn't know the criteria for duration of payments. It doesn't matter if you're in the industry 100 years, it's based on your level of employment this past five years. So I say to the minister, in rural Newfoundland inshore fisheries there are not 2 per cent of people in the fishing industry who have been there for twenty or thirty years who will get payment beyond year four, and none - with rare exceptions - will be on the program after year five. Just read the criteria. I have a copy if you want a copy.

I will ask the minister this question: The minimum payment under NCARP, AGAP and other programs was $225 per week. The minimum payment proposed under the new fisheries program is $200 per week. Now, that's over 11 per cent reduction for minimum payments when it has been proposed there was only going to be a 6 per cent reduction.

Will the minister stand and confirm that this 6 per cent reduction only applies to the period from May 16 of this year to December 31 of this year, and after that the real cuts will be closer to 10 per cent?

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

MR. GRIMES: No, Mr. Speaker. Again, I appreciate the question so we can have an opportunity to clarify and make sure that kind of misinformation doesn't stand unchallenged in the public domain.

The real answer - and I really believe the hon. member opposite knows the real answer - is that the only place where there is anything other than a 6 per cent change is in the minimum payment. For everybody else it has been guaranteed that they will continue on, and this has been done, as I point out again, in consultation with representatives of the FFAW and also with representatives in the industry completely.

They understand, with a two-year interim measure, and now with a program that will last as an adjustment measure for up to five years, that you can't sustain those kinds of levels of payments. It was agreed that a drop from $225 to $200 at the minimum would not be an adverse disadvantage or cause great harm to those people.

You can present that as a percentage if you like, but the fact of the matter is that everybody who requalifies is guaranteed $200 minimum. The average payment was closer to $306 - three hundred dollars a week for those other people who were there other than the minimum, the average was there.

The reality is that for everybody who requalifies - and if you requalify, everybody knows you requalify for at least two years - for all of the requalifiers, they will continue getting their cheques as they do now. The first cheque after May 16 will be delivered by a different agency, and it will be 6 per cent less than the one they got before May 15, except that those at the minimum will get $200 instead of $225.

The members opposite know that, and I don't think that it serves anybody well - the public, the people involved directly, or us in this House - to try to suggest there is going to be some kind of massive cutback, that we are trying to boot people out of the program. We are trying our very best to sustain people for the maximum period of time with the minimum harm to them as individuals.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to table -

MS. VERGE: Exceptions to the public tendering act?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: The black fox again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I can't hear the hon. minister.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I want to table the report of the public tendering act exceptions, February 1994.

MS. VERGE: I knew that was going to happen, when the fox was put in charge of the henhouse.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, under Notices of Motion it would be standard practice today to advise members on the private member's resolution for Wednesday, but I didn't get back into town until just prior to the House. I'm wondering if it would be okay if I give notice either later today or tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Certainly, there's no difficulty from us, Mr. Speaker. If my friend would let us know as soon as is convenient so that we can do what we have to do on our side, that would be quite in order by us - no problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Opposition House Leader have unanimous consent of the House to file the notice later today?


MR. SPEAKER: Unanimous consent so given.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, a few moments ago I undertook to get a certain document and advise the House if there was in fact any difference with respect to the document relating to the opinion that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition was quoting from, and there is - a marked difference.

The document from which the hon. the Leader of the Opposition was quoting, and in respect of which the opinion I gave in the capacity I was serving at that time, qualified specifically for any producer having priority to consume the power it produces was also qualified to: `where alternative sources of power are reasonably available.'

Now, the new legislation removed that entirely. That isn't there. So there is an absolute priority, not qualified at all. There is no limitation whatsoever on the right of Abitibi or Kruger to use the power they consume, only in one circumstance, Mr. Speaker and that is in -

MS. VERGE: That is not what it says!

PREMIER WELLS: That is precisely what it says.

- in respect of a power emergency. That qualification, `where alternative sources of power are reasonably available', was totally removed, and the right now is absolute and the policy must result in a producer having priority to consume the power it produces. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition from 189 citizens in my district, the prayer being: `We, the undersigned residents of Harry's Harbour, Jackson's Cove, Langdon's Cove, Nickey's Nose Cove, and Silverdale strongly protest the closing of the school in Harry's Harbour.'

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago in the local paper in Green Bay there appeared a story from the Integrated School Board dealing with the schools in that area, indicating that in my district of Green Bay the school at Harry's Harbour would be closed effective the upcoming school year. This came as news and, indeed, a shock to the people of the Harry's Harbour - Jackson's Cove general area because there had been no prior warning, no notice. Now, parents have to look forward to students in kindergarten, and especially in kindergarten and the primary grades, having a thirty-odd mile bus ride over gravel roads to attend Beaumont Academy in King's Point. This is a relatively long and rough ride for very young students and, given the climate in the area and the snow conditions, a difficult ride, especially in the winter months.

This came about as a result of the Green Bay Integrated School Board, under the budgetary provisions of the Wells Administration, receiving twenty-eight less teachers this year to staff the schools throughout the district that it serves. Mr. Speaker, losing twenty-eight teachers in one year is a terrible blow to the Green Bay board and they have reacted according to the priorities that they saw fit. Indeed, their actions were to close a school on the Baie Verte Peninsula at Ming's Bight and also to close a school in Harry's Harbour. I'm not sure if the school at Ming's Bight got sufficient notice or long-term notice of what was about to happen, but certainly, the residents in the Harry's Harbour - Jackson's Cove area did not.

The Department of Education has guidelines which indicate that a school board should give at least a year's notice to a community, or communities, regarding school close-down, and that a public meeting should be held to ascertain the views and concerns of the parents involved. In this particular case, maybe, because of the large number of teachers removed from the board in this given year, the Green Bay board did not see fit to give a year's notice and did not see fit to have any kind of a public hearing, therefore, the parents of the area have taken to writing letters to people in authority, and presenting me with a petition as their representative in the House of Assembly, so that their views can be made known, and their concerns with regard to the well-being of their students can be made known.

Mr. Speaker, sometime ago a school parents' group in the Avondale area took their local school board to court for closing the school without a year's notice and a public meeting. The lower court ruled in favour of the parents, but unfortunately for those parents, a higher court of appeal ruled for the board, that while it did not adhere to the guidelines laid out by the Department of Education, these guidelines were just that, guidelines, and not law, therefore, the school board was not obliged by law to abide by them. Nonetheless, these are guidelines set down by the Department of Education, and given the fact that the people concerned have had very little notice, and this comes as a shock, I firmly believe that the department should intervene, if not legally then morally, to deal with the school boards and to ensure that people are properly consulted before such drastic measures are taken.

One also has to question, Mr. Speaker, the strength and the viability of the small school regulations as they apply in the Department of Education when such an occurrence can happen with very little, if any, notice and with very little regard to the well-being of very young students in the four to seven-year-old category who will have to drive by bus in winter over a long gravel road. I think there is room for the Department of Education to intervene and to talk with boards and try to mitigate the negative circumstances caused by this move.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise and support the petition presented by my colleague on behalf of the citizens of Harry's Harbour. The actions of the Green Bay Integrated School Board and the actions of many school boards across this Province are indeed predictable. We are going through a substantive period of adjustment and we will be seeing more of this in the weeks ahead. As the minister said the other day he believes that 7,293 teachers are sufficient to offer consistent and quality programs to all the students in this Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we know that there are 362 teachers protected under the 2 per cent savings clause. We know, as well, that the normal declining enrolments would result in 191 teaching positions being lost this year. The accumulative effect of these measures is to see multi-grade classrooms being created where there were formerly single-grade classrooms, to see the curtailment or the elimination of school programs, music programs, physical education, home economics, and, Mr. Speaker, I noted the other day, the elimination of programs like guidance, the services of psychologists, speech therapists, and special education services. Many of the core programs and core services are in jeopardy.

Mr. Speaker, common sense would say that if we are going to require kindergarten children in Harry's Harbour, and other primary children, to drive thirty miles over what might be described as less than standard road conditions, that their learning experiences throughout the day are not going to be of the highest quality. These young children must be on the bus by not later than 8:00 a.m., an hour before school opens, and they will have to spend the entire day in their school and drive back in the late afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, we know that there are situations in this Province where there are no choices, but certainly, we ask the minister to look at the situation that is being faced by the Green Bay school board. Losing twenty-eight teachers in one school year certainly requires him to look at the implementation of a small schools policy and to direct some attention to situations that are prevailing in communities like Harry's Harbour. Of course, I would say there are many other situations throughout the Province. I have had copies of letters that have been forwarded to the minister from the district represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, from the district represented on the Burin Peninsula, from the district of Ferryland, and from Bonavista South and the Terra Nova district - just some of the letters I have here now.

There is a great deal of anxiety out there, a great deal of question about where they can look for solutions, and transporting children at kindergarten level over thirty miles is not a solution if we are going to preserve the integrity and the quality of the learning experience.

Thank you very much.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry; the hon. the Minister of Education.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Education wanted to speak on the petition, I think.

MR. A. SNOW: Oh, I am sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: Did the hon. minister rise? I didn't see him.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer to the petition which has been presented by the hon. the Member for Green Bay. I am assuming he is referring to the letter that I received last week `To whom it may concern'. Of course, he interpreted that to be a petition because there were a number of names attached to it.

I have to say to the hon. member, it is all very well for him to bring that petition to the House of Assembly; however, he could serve his petitioners and his constituents much better had he taken it to the Green Bay Integrated School Board. Those hon. members who have spoken know full well that it is the responsibility of school boards to administer the school system in Newfoundland and Labrador. Government has allocated to all school boards an adequate number of teachers to carry out the duties which are imposed upon them and they, in their wisdom, have to do that.

Now, if the hon. member believes that the school board has done something which is illegal, then I would certainly take that matter under advisement and check with the school board to see if they have acted illegally. Otherwise, I would suggest to the hon. member that he take the matter up with the school board, whose responsibility it is. In that way, instead of grandstanding about this issue, he would be able to truly serve the wishes of his constituents.

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

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

I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and present a petition given to me by some residents of Western Labrador. Again, it is a portion of a petition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: It is chapter whatever of whatever, however many chapters will be sent in to me.

It is a result of a public meeting that I held in my district where a committee of some twenty people were struck from that public meeting and they went out to seek public support against the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. The prayer of the petition:

`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 to ask whether or not Newfoundland Hydro should be privatized or remain a Crown corporation.'

Mr. Speaker, the forty-six people are part of, I would say, well in excess of 1,600 people who have now signed the petition from Western Labrador against the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

This committee was struck some four weeks ago, and as days go on, the people in my district are becoming even more and more opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Whereas the Premier stated in his infamous television address on NTV that he would withdraw this piece of legislation, or not ask the House to approve it if the majority of the people were against it, now four weeks later he seems to be changing his mind, and this very much bothers the people of Western Labrador because they felt they lived in a democratic country and believed the Premier to be stating the truth when he said that he would withdraw this or not present this legislation to the House if he didn't have public support. Now, Mr. Speaker, we have had other members suggest that maybe if 85 per cent of the people of this Province were shown in a public opinion poll to be against it he wouldn't support it and there are some news reports out and about the Province that suggest that the Premier has suggested he would probably want 75 per cent to 80 per cent of public support to be against it but he didn't suggest that, Mr. Speaker. What he said was that, no government has the right to proceed with the implementation of major policy for which it can't sustain public support, and that he would withdraw the bill if indeed he didn't have the public support.

There is no doubt - I know in my district that the public support is dwindling, that public support for the privatization is getting smaller than it was and it was over 80 per cent against, so we can assume that some of the remaining 20 per cent hadn't decided and there were only I believe about 6 per cent or 8 per cent of the people who were in favour of the privatization, and now I would suggest that that's even getting smaller in my district because they seem to have lost all sense of faith and trust in the Premier and this particular government.

So I would urge that the government reconsider and answer the request of these thousands of names now, Mr. Speaker, that have been suggested to the House in petition form. Because thousands of names have been submitted to the House, of people who have opposed the sale of Newfoundland Hydro, and I believe that the government should, in all honesty, withdraw this particular piece of legislation now. If they wish to proceed with the bill later on, in two or three years time, maybe an education process might be warranted, not this propaganda that is coming out of the bowels of the Confederation Building or from Newfoundland Hydro, but an education process.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No - I say to the Minister of Finance, what I did was hold a public meeting in my district. I took the document that Newfoundland Hydro sent out which some of the people had already received that day; they had read that and I went through it and explained why I felt that I could not support this legislation. Subsequent to that meeting, there was a committee struck and, Mr. Speaker, the committee went out and sought public support to sign petitions to fight against the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro because they felt it wasn't in the best interest of those who live in Labrador, of those people, the residents of Western Labrador - may I have just thirty seconds to clue up?

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


MR. A. SNOW: Thank you for leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, as residents of Western Labrador, they do not want this government to proceed with legislation to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and they ask that the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many?

MR. A. SNOW: Forty-seven people as part of the 1,600 people who have already signed it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to stand and support the petition so ably presented by my colleague from the great district of Menihek. I think he mentioned forty-seven people on this particular petition who were saying that they are against the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke on Friday morning for half-an-hour on the Electrical Resources bill, Bill 2, and made a few comments pertaining to the privatization of Hydro in talking about that particular piece of legislation. One thing I have noticed, Mr. Speaker, when you are talking about the privatization of Hydro, is that when we go back and look at when Bills 1 and 2 were presented, you look at the consistencies and the inconsistencies of the two bills.

First, when the privatization bill came to the floor it was all full speed ahead. Members got up and presented it, the Premier spoke on, other members spoke on it, then all of a sudden there seemed to be a sense of urgency. There seemed to be a sense of - get it done, get it done fast before - and as far as I'm concerned at the time I said it, is that get it done because every day that this piece of legislation is discussed in the House, every day that the news comes on in this Province there's going to be people against this particular piece of legislation. It's obvious what happened, Mr. Speaker. As people around this Province started to comprehend what was in this particular piece of legislation they started to realize that this particular piece of legislation wasn't all that good for them and they soon started to speak up in different ways.

They contacted their members and so on, wrote letters, signed petitions and they said that this is not good enough. They needed to be consulted and we should be consulted, then all of a sudden the heat was on. The heat was on the administration opposite to withdraw this particular piece of legislation after it went through second reading in the House, the invocation of closure to get it through second reading, then all of a sudden this particular piece of legislation left the floor of the House of Assembly and there were other matters introduced, other bills introduced.

The Easter holidays came along, Mr. Speaker, and then after that we haven't heard a sound since but nevertheless I wouldn't be naive enough to think that this particular piece of legislation is not coming back to the floor of the House of Assembly and which I would probably say otherwise based on the commitment that the Premier and his colleagues have made to certain individuals around this Province.

Now member's opposite have gotten - over the last month or so - a lot of correspondence pertaining to this particular piece of legislation. I just received a copy on my desk today about a request from people in St. John's North - the Member for St. John's North to hold a public meeting and it's obvious that the hon. member had it. Now maybe this particular request came from the way that the hon. member conducted his poll. Maybe that question was asked, I don't know. I didn't see the questions on it but in any case, signed by three taxpayers and three constituents from the hon. member's district asking for a public meeting, plus another 279. I would say knowing the member, Mr. Speaker, he will have a public meeting in his district. He's not afraid. He showed up at the Member for Pleasantville's meeting down there at the Holiday Inn. I'm sure if he went to that particular meeting - that that particular gentleman called at that time - I'm sure, based on the reception he got at that meeting he will have a public meeting in his district, no question.

So this is an example of what can happen as time progresses, time goes on and people in the Province start to look into this particular piece of legislation clause by clause. They're seeing daily that this is not a good piece of legislation. They're saying that we need more input and so on. This is obvious; this is a small example of all the districts in the Province and different members in the House the kind of correspondence that they are getting now as the information and the details of this particular piece of legislation gets out to the people of the Province.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those few words once again I would like to say that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: - I would like to support the petition so ably presented by my colleague from Menihek.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition from fifty-three people from the District of Bonavista South and the District of Trinity North. The prayer of the petition is again, asking the government to reconsider Bill 1, the privatization of Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, continually we're seeing petitions brought forward here on this side of the House. People continue to speak and echo the voice of their constituents. They talk about this piece of legislation, how negative it will be, the concern that's out there in rural Newfoundland and people continually asking their members to represent them.

The latest case I suppose is the one that was just put forward - mentioned by the Member for Humber Valley and I happen to have that here on my desk as well. I don't know why all the members on the opposite side give copies of petitions that are sent to members of the other side but there's 279 names on a petition - it's not a petition, it's a request I guess for a public meeting in St. John's North. It seems now, Mr. Speaker, people have taken up the cause and they're saying -


MR. FITZGERALD: Two hundred and seventy-nine names from the people asking a request for a public meeting in St. John's North, Mr. Speaker.

MS. VERGE: Who is it addressed to?

MR. FITZGERALD: It is addressed to the hon. member, Mr. Lloyd Matthews, MHA for St. John's North. The last comment we heard from the Member for St. John's North - in fact, there have been two positive comments I think brought forward on this piece of legislation. One was from the Member for St. John's North who had conducted a poll and identified himself and told them what the Premier's opinion was. I think there was an enormous response in favour of privatization of Hydro. Mr. Speaker, it seems like other people have heard the results of that particular survey and are now asking for a public meeting so they can ask some questions and find out for themselves what the true things are and what all the positive things are about Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro being privatized. I'm sure they will hear some negative things as well if the questions are answered truthfully.

MS. VERGE: When is he having the meeting?

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know when the member is having the meeting but they are expecting a big crowd. I think it might be one of the biggest meetings we've had held. Because they go on to say: If you have difficulty in finding a suitable meeting room for 300 people please advise one of the undersigned and we will make arrangements for you. They are expecting at least 300 people, Mr. Speaker, who want to come forward and voice their opinion.

We continue to hear from the other side when we go out in our own districts and have public meetings that there were only forty showed up at this one and fifty-five at another one. I'm not so sure that numbers are all that important as long as people are given the opportunity to come forward and speak. Numbers speak for themselves on the open line shows and in newspaper ads. I think the government of the day thought as people were allowed enough time that there would be a lot of positive reaction to this privatization bill. You would see a lot of people come forward and speak in favour of it.

Such is not the case. As time goes by more and more people are coming out and saying that: We want more information, we want some facts and figures, and if this is such a wonderful thing, and if you as the government are going to take this kind of action and tell us that we are to accept it and it is a positive thing, then let us know what is so positive about it. Give us the facts and figures.

We saw Professor Wade Locke from Memorial University come forward there just a few days ago and talk about the lack of information, the lack of figures that will put this privatization bill in a positive light with people out there. How lacking it is. This information is not forthcoming and it should be there if government believes that it is such a wonderful thing. More and more people are speaking out on this. I notice Professor Peter Boswell in his latest column in the paper, his column that he had in the weekend edition of The Evening Telegram, it seems like he is starting to change his mind now. He thought in the beginning that it might be a good thing and he believed in privatization, but as he gets more and more information he is finding that it is not such a wonderful thing. Also, Mr. Speaker, I guess it is the lack of information that is making him have doubts about this piece of legislation.

I call on members of the other side to speak to their constituents, allow them to have private and public meetings, answer their questions, put all the information forward, lay the facts on the table, and then come back here in the House of Assembly and speak on their behalf, and vote the way that they would have them represent them here in this hon. House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as persuaded as I am by the hon. gentleman's eloquence in bringing in the third petition of the day I move, pursuant to Standing Order 21, that Orders of the Day now be read. He can carry on with his speech on the Electrical Power Control Act.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved by the hon. Government House Leader that we move to Orders of the Day. All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: Against?


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: We are now on Orders of the Day, as I understand it. In that case, Order No. 4, please, second reading of the Electrical Power Control Act. I forget which of the dreary speakers opposite had adjourned the debate. My friend for Ferryland.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 4.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MS. VERGE: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. Point of order?

MS. VERGE: Point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Yes, Mr. Speaker. There were more `nays' than `ayes' on the Government House Leader's motion so I think Your Honour has to allow for a continuation of petitions.


MS. VERGE: There were more speakers on the petitions here.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. woman has been in the House, if memory serves me correctly, for fifteen years. She ought, I would have thought to have learned the rules. If not, may I make a submission to Your Honour, that the rule is when the Chair makes a declaration of a vote if one wishes to challenge it there is a procedure provided by the rules, and if there is no challenge the Speaker's ruling stands, so I submit there is no point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland on a point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: While a motion to move to Orders of the Day would take precedence, I realize that, over others, I think it was a little unfair, too, where we were still on petitions and had not completed speaking on petitions, that point was still here and that petition had not been completed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: That is another point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Humber East. The hon. member is fully aware that there is a procedure in place if members do not agree with the decision of the Chair. When a voice vote is called there is a procedure in place called Division. The Chair did not see any member standing or hear any member call for division on that vote.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I adjourned debate on the Electrical Power Resources Act, Bill 2, and on Friday I was indicating that what this bill is proposing to do through the back door what could not be done through the front door, before. It is proposing to have the right to recall power from the Upper Churchill, power that was provided to Quebec in a legally binding agreement and that was ruled on two occasions, and challenged in the Supreme Court. Overall, it is trying to hide or mask the real intent, cleverly drafted, so that it could be perceived that a public utilities board could have the right to recall the power, upon the request even of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Cabinet. It is still the government.

They are not going to be so naive as to think that if the government requested it, that the Public Utilities Board is exercising a right, it is going to have any more legal grounds or legal foundation than it would if government had requested it otherwise, or under a Crown corporation of Hydro. The Premier indicated that. He stated that after this contradiction on provincial television and in the leader's debate. He came back and stated it is not necessary now. He clarified that misleading statement made to the people two days earlier.

In this legislation here they are trying to give the intent that the courts will have to decide whether Hydro Quebec's right is incidental, or the main purpose. In other words it is piff and substance. They are trying to indicate it would be only incidental to the recall of power. The Premier indicated that it would be unthinkable that the people of this Province would have to provide for their future power needs through higher cost and polluting oil-fired generation or accept the cost and risk of nuclear generation. That is a very wishy-washy, weak argument. The Supreme Court rendered its opinion on that statement by the Premier and said: it is not for this court to consider the desirability of legislation from a social, economic perspective where a constitutional issue is raised. In other words the Supreme Court stated that the constitutional issue takes precedence over social and economic perspectives.

In only words a legally binding agreement is a legally binding agreement and is not subject to change by this Province just because the Province realizes that it made a grave mistake back in the 60s. The Premier who sat in that Cabinet should have thought on that at the time, back when he made that decision, that just because nuclear power might be unacceptable socially, because oil-fired generation and nuclear power might be expensive, it is not a reason for the courts to overrule that. That was the decision made by the Supreme Court, so that argument is not going to wash.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I made it. You should have heard it. You are a little late. I made the point. I am going to continue to talk about it. The point I am making is that the Supreme Court has rendered a decision. You can mask it in what you like, you can cover it in what you like, but the constitutional issue is the one here that a decision would be rendered on, and not whether it is adverse socially and economically for oil-fired generation, the pollution, or the nuclear energy, the risk and potential danger from fallout from radioactive materials.

Any interference at all with that power could lead to default of the agreement that we have, under the CF(L)Co agreement with Quebec and this Province, and it could result in Hydro Quebec having the option to buy or take over the power contract to purchase or redeem those CF(L)Co bonds, and when they do that, and if that arises, they will take equity in CF(L)Co in return for redeeming those bonds, and that would put us in a very tenuous position in terms of CF(L)Co and could lead to complete control of CF(L)Co by Hydro Quebec.

Now there are several points in the bill that have been discussed that are really opening up the doors for privatization. One of the points mentioned here is that it would instruct the Public Utilities Board to base electricity rates on three criteria. Cost is one factor, the maintenance of credit worthiness that is already there, and a guaranteed profit for shareholders. That is not there now. That is not there - a guaranteed profit for shareholders. Why would you want it there now if you didn't want a private Hydro? It is there to facilitate and to open the door to one of the five areas here that make it easier for the privatized Hydro, to make it lucrative for people out in the marketplace to buy shares in a new Hydro. That's why it's there.

This legislation, Bill 2, would direct the Public Utilities Board to phase out the rural subsidy that is charged to industrial consumers, and phase it out by 1999, over a five year period, and would increase the cost of electricity to the rural consumers, or to consumers generally, in this Province. There is $15 million allocated out of taxpayers funds to be able to ease in those rate changes over the next five years so that consumers will be cushioned from this blow and the full impact won't be hit in one year. We will see it over a five year period.

That is going to have an adverse effect on the residential consumers of electricity, not just rurally. The board may decide to put it on to all consumers of electricity in the Province, or they may say to rural consumers: You will pay a higher rate than urban consumers of electricity. You will pay a higher rate because it costs more to put electricity out in a community with 400 people than it does per capita in a city with 100,000 people, so we will charge you the cost of delivering electricity out there.

Will that come down to where we are going to charge the cost of a road to rural Newfoundland, charge the cost of telephone service in rural Newfoundland, or any other type of service in rural Newfoundland? It has happened. It has happened with this government before. They have downloaded on municipalities where they have increased the cost per person in rural Newfoundland as opposed to urban Newfoundland. It is part of a silent resettlement program that is going to move people out of the communities around this Province.

Also, they have taken another step to designate essential employees, and they are proposing to move that from the Labour Relations Board to the Public Utilities Board, and that is another move that is going to facilitate and move forward toward the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro.

The Premier said we don't need the privatization of Hydro to be able to recall our power. If you follow his agreement, why do you need those things I just mentioned? They are not necessary in order to be able to have the right to be able to recall power.

I would love to see the opportunity, the avenue, to be able to recall power from the Upper Churchill, to be able to break that agreement without having any repercussions come back to this Province. It would be a major victory for this Province, and would be fantastic for every single individual in this Province, but it is only a pipe dream. It cannot happen. We might as well get on with the business of the day, get rid of that nonsense and foolishness that is taking up weeks and even months here in this House, that has no chance of getting through. There are too many pressing matters out there now that need more attention now than trying to go on a whim and hope the Supreme Court is going to ignore because we've drafted and hid it in little phrases and other avenues here of this legislation and hoping they are going to fall for it. The learned judges of the Supreme Court of Canada are not that silly, are not going to be conned by a fancy piece of legislation.

Another area they are looking at too, and it is back in the Premier's mind, is that they are going to empower the Public Utilities Board to be able to approve over 20 per cent. Over 20 per cent ownership can be held by an individual or corporation. That is part of his plan to merge the power utilities in this Province, or to have complete control. It can not come from someone in this Province other than Fortis. The companies do not have the financial resources to be able to own a company the magnitude of Hydro. It is only going to be owned initially by 20 per cent by Newfoundlanders, and over a couple of years it is only going to be owned probably 10 per cent by Newfoundlanders over the period of time. We don't have the finances available in the financial and business community of this Province to be able to take over the control of Hydro. It is not there. We might as well face up to it, admit it for what it is. This 20 per cent was 15 per cent initially. It was 15 per cent when he talked about it last fall. When the legislation came out it was 20 per cent. So it eased it up 5 per cent again, and give the utilities more of the power to be able to make those decisions.

Another thing the Premier talked about that is going to make it easier to privatize Hydro that is in Bill No. 2 here is that he has never stated in this House or elsewhere - and I've listened carefully - how much provincial corporate taxes are going to come from a new Hydro. All he said - it will be a sawoff what we give up we will get back. Under PUITTA right now we get $9.5 million from Newfoundland Power. We would anticipate getting $20 million from a new Hydro. That is $30 million. In other words, he is saying we are going to get $30 million in provincial corporate income tax from the new Hydro. That I doubt very much. The new Hydro, of course, showed a profit of $24 million last year, a profit around the same again this past year. In fact I think it was $26 million last year, closer to it, $24 million this year. On the Newfoundland - the portion excluding CF(L)Co. - it showed this year about $12 million or $14 million, last year $16 million.

It is a very profitable company there. The taxes were going to come in. I don't believe that for a moment. While we are on that topic, on Hydro privatization, Wade Locke, an economist, said a while back - this was about three weeks ago or more - he said he is challenging government to show its numbers and prove them wrong. He was hoping that we would get more information on the real cost. He has been asking for that but this government is not willing to give it. The reason it is not willing to give it is because it weakens its arguments.

Peter Boswell just recently, a very interesting statement, said just this weekend: "Despite my initial ideological support for privatization, I am increasingly convinced that the proposal would have a costly and harmful effect on the taxpayers and economy of this Province. The benefits from a one-shot fiscal fix will be more than out-weighed by the loss of an ongoing and increasing commercial cost." Peter Boswell has changed his mind. As the facts started to come out, I will assure you, members of the House, that the mass of this Province who are out there now and undecided will step in line behind the 80 per cent of the people who said no to privatization. Those who have shown the initiative to go out and get the facts. The people who have been willing to put the necessary information out in the public forum so people can make an intelligent decision. To date the only decisions of intelligence we are indicating, if it is not a decision that the Premier agrees with it is not an intelligent decision.

The Minister of Mines and Energy said Wade Locke doesn't know what he is talking about. That is his job, he is an economist. If he is providing figures here I will take his figures rather than none that are presented by government. If we get two sets of figures to judge by let each man and woman make his or her own decision. Government has been unwilling to come forth, unwilling to face the music and face the truth.

Here is what the Premier said: If the majority of the people of the Province end up in the end being opposed to Hydro privatization, I would not ask the members of this Legislature to proceed with legislation privatizing Hydro. Because I don't think any government, he said, no matter how strongly it feels about an issue, should use its majority in the Legislature to cause something to be done that is contrary to the wishes of the people of this Province and I won't ask the members of the Legislature to do this. Now when is the Premier going to wake up and listen to the masses of people out around this Province? When is he going to stop trying to buy them with the people's own money; when is he going to come forth and give us figures?

In last year's Budget, the Minister of Mines and Energy could not tell us, in last year's tabled figures, he couldn't even tell us that, in last year's not to say what it is going to be this year. I pity him when he tries to project when he can't tell figures that are already finalized, where the money was spent. Well, we found out where the money was spent, after two or three weeks of trying to find it out. We found out that $1.5 million out of $1.6 million was spent on Hydro privatization to some familiar names in Newfoundland, very familiar names. The great financial advisers of the 60s who struck such a rich deal for this Province, the Rothschilds, that we brought them back again to do another great justice to the people of this Province.

So far, just the last fiscal year, $538,400 to give us the type of financial advice we got in the 1960s, that sees over seven, almost $800 million a year go out across transmission lines into Quebec and in the United States at exorbitant profits for Hydro Quebec, one of the richest corporations in this country, Hydro Quebec, one of the highest percentage of profits, consistently year in and year out, to see that going over transmission lines and out of this Province and we call back those people again, the Premier who sat in the Cabinet, the Minister of Justice who was in his office, the people who are driving a deal again and going to the Rothschilds for advice?

Yes. It is, as the Member for Humber East said, like putting the fox in charge of the chicken house. That is basically what it is, the type of advice we have had before, we should have fired them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not foolishness, it is fact. It is actual fact; it is here tabled, it is in the estimates, it is tabled, it is on record here, it is a deal we have that we all would like to get rid of and then the government members talk about Sprung, twenty-some million. Well, multiply that by forty times a year, every year until 2041, and you see how many Sprungs will spring then. That's a deal that was the most colossal and worst deal in the history of this Province that we and our children and our grandchildren and our great grandchildren will be paying for generations and generations to come. That's what this government has done and then they have the audacity again to stir up the same old financial advisers who took a little trip into Canada, stopped here and spoke last year, we knew there was something in the air at the time but they denied it, but the truth comes out, it all comes out in the wash.

They then tried to sell the people of the Province with their own money, and put out an $82,000 public relations campaign and covered under Hydro and then they don't know what Hydro was spending, I can't get hold of the people there, well, they very conveniently get a hold of the people when they want to, because they have tried and failed in trying to hoodwink the people of this Province and the people are on to them and they might as well face and do the honourable thing, withdraw the legislation. If passing Bill 2 needs to go ahead with power emergencies, let's deal with them; let's deal with power emergencies in the Province, the recall of power. Let us get on with the right business, let's get that foolishness and trickery out of Bill 2, the one that is proposing to access and make it easier for Hydro so we can open up the doors for the financial communities of Bay Street and Montreal, people in Quebec, Ontario and outside controlling a corporation now, that is making money and a very healthy profit; a very, very, healthy profit.

In fact he is proposing in this bill and what utter nonsense - he is saying here in this bill, we are going to supply power delivered to the consumer at the lowest possible cost consistent with reliable service. The lowest possible cost, and to privatize Hydro is going to increase costs anywhere on the privatization from $40 million up to $70 million, not counting giving up the debt guarantee and giving up PUITTA and other costs associated with it. It could be a $91 million cost, we would save $25 million a year on financing the debt, it could be a loss of $66 million, anywhere down to $40 million. Forty to sixty-six net loss, and talking about delivering electricity at the lowest possible cost consistent with reliable service. Well this bill they are proposing is not going to deliver electricity at a cheaper cost. It's going to increase it and deliver it at a more expensive price and is not going to give more reliable service. This section of the act is not going to give reliable service. If service increased, consumers might be willing to accept a certain moderate increase in electricity rates. It is going to have a very, very negative effect and a drastic increase in electricity to be able to give the profit margins to a new corporation along with amortizing the close to $200 million associated here carried over the next twenty-eight, thirty or even maybe forty years if they amortize it, that we're going to be paying out of this Province. That's only for the current cost of privatization that we're dealing with now. So, I say to the Premier and to the government, cut out the nonsense of this bill, cut out the foolishness, the five points I discussed, get on with proper business here and let's deal with the power emergencies there if that's what you're intending. Don't be camouflaging it there and think the Supreme Court of Canada are foolish enough to fall for it. It's utter nonsense, it's not going to work and I'd ask the government to just withdraw it and get on with the business of the day.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I'm pleased to have the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to rise and speak on Bill 2 or the hoist on Bill 2. The six month hoist, Mr. Speaker, is very important. I believe that we should step back as members of the Legislature and have a look at what people are saying out and about the Province, at what people are telling us as members of the Legislature. They're telling us, first of all, that they aren't in favour of the privatization of Hydro. They're saying that with this particular bill we're asking the legislators to take six months to properly prepare the people of the Province and not through the public relations downstairs in the bowels of Confederation Building, Mr. Speaker, or through Newfoundland Hydro wasting $80,000 on a fancy brochure to give propaganda to the people of this Province but to allow the people of the Province to actually delve into what this bill and the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro - what type of an effect it's going to have on them as individuals, as consumers, on residents of the Province, how it's going to effect them as owners of this utility company or the future generations of people who are going to have to pay for the consequences of this very short-sighted move by this government.

They realize, as a people - I think 80 per cent of the people of this Province - in most of the public opinion polls that have been done so far have indicated that 80 per cent of the people have been against the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. I believe that one of the reasons why is that they don't want to be rushed into a quick fix deal such as what occurred with the Upper Churchill.

If you look at exactly what happened with the Upper Churchill contract, Mr. Speaker, was the fact that we had just completed a major construction project in this Province, we built a national standard highway across the island portion of the Province, we had employed thousands of Newfoundlanders in road building. So there was an immediate need to set about to create employment or create the opportunity for employment for these thousands of workers who had just finished working in earth moving, highway building across the island portion of the Province. So someone with a bright idea up in the Premier's office - it was probably the hon. Minister of Justice now or maybe it might have been the Premier at that particular time - said well why don't we have a hydro development because really a hydro development is earth moving. That's what it does, it moves earth, builds dykes and dams, builds bridges and all that type of thing, Mr. Speaker, and employs a tremendous number of people, but basically it is earth moving. It is very similar to mining or road building. So I thought this scheme would be great for four or five years. If we could employ thousands of Newfoundlanders, that would solve the problem.

Well, it didn't solve the problem. All it did, while it did indeed create some employment for four or five years, it created an embarrassment to the people of this Province because of the short-sightedness of making this major, major construction project at the time, one of the largest construction projects at the time, I believe, in the world, when that was ongoing at that particular time. It provided, in future years, an embarrassment to this Province, and the people who advocated it, because of the tremendous gain that the Province of Quebec accrued from it.

The Province of Quebec, through Hydro Quebec and reselling the power, mostly to the New York State or indeed consuming it in their own province, a lot of economists have measured that they saved from $700 million to $800 million of economic rent that accrues to the Province of Quebec through Quebec Hydro because of the so-called Upper Churchill deal, while in this Province some people feel it might be $25 million to $30 million of economic value to this Province in Churchill Falls.

I strongly believe that if we had the public discussion back in the sixties as we are having today that the people of this Province would not have signed, or the government would not have signed, a deal for that type of development.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: You fellows all voted for it.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, you fellows may have voted for it; I didn't vote for it.

What I said was that if there had been more public discussion and public awareness of the consequences of a long-term deal that they were entering into at the particular time, that type of deal would not be entered into.

MR. GRIMES: That is not true. You know the difference. That is not true. (Inaudible). You know the difference, too.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations will have the opportunity to speak in this debate, and I would appreciate his keeping quiet and not attempting to defend his mentor, the Premier, or the Minister of Justice, on actions that they did, because we were both just young boys then, in school somewhere in central Newfoundland or whatever. Actually, I was up in Labrador working, but if there had been more public awareness back in the sixties -

MR. GRIMES: Public awareness of what?

MR. A. SNOW: Public awareness of what was happening at the particular time, and what type of contract was being entered into, because it was only in subsequent years that people would recognize what had occurred back in the sixties.

MR. GRIMES: What was wrong with the deal? There was nothing wrong with the arrangement. It was the best arrangement in the world at the time and everybody recognized it.

MR. A. SNOW: It was not the best arrangement in the world at the time, and it was only because of the naivety of certain people such as the present Minister of Employment and Labour Relations who still thinks it is the best deal in the world. He still believes that, but he doesn't have any foresight. He is taking the same approach now as his mentor, the Premier, and the Minister of Justice and all his cronies took back there. It is a quick fix. Make some jobs today. Get a few quick bucks and forget about tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, that is what got us into this trouble. That is what got us into this mess, and we shouldn't be doing it because we need to take a long-term look at this, and that is why the people of this Province want this government to reconsider. That is why they want this government to reconsider this piece of legislation, because they know that this is going to have even more consequences, more direct consequences, against their children, and their children's children, and their children's children, in the years to come in this particular Province if they continue to live here, even though this government is doing whatever it can to drive hundreds of thousands of people out of here, which is what is going to happen over the next three or four years.

Mr. Speaker, I think that the government should reconsider. They have seen the committee system when they were first elected back in 1989; they inaugurated or incorporated a committee system for new legislation being proposed, and I commend them for it. It was a good idea. It was a good idea then; it's a good idea now, but what they should do is use it. If it's fitting that the Province would send members of the Legislature around the Province to seek public input into a name change, which really wasn't all that important, surely to goodness that public awareness and public opinion should be sought in particular pieces of legislation, which some people - the Premier and the Minister of Justice - have suggested that these two pieces of legislation are the most important legislation to be submitted to this House since Confederation.

Mr. Speaker, if indeed it is important, we should seek the public input and make the public more aware of aspects of this legislation and also the privatization. Because they are inextricably linked in this bill. We have to not get into the idea of these quick fixes curing all the ills of this particular Province, because that is what occurred back in the 1960s and we know the dilemma that is causing us today.

I firmly believe, as tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders believe, that this is going to get us into more trouble than even the Upper Churchill deal will. Because that is the only benefit - I threw out the window that there was a benefit - a lot of people have suggested that there was a strictly personal gain on behalf of the Premier and some of his friends in this particular sale. I honestly don't believe it. I do believe it is a short-term fix. It is a method of acquiring a few dollars for the next couple of years. That is going to get the Province out of borrowing for the next couple of years and they feel that will solve some of their problem. I think that short-sighted mentality will get us into more trouble. I believe that is why the people of this Province oppose this so stridently. They are right in opposing it and asking for more input into the legislation.

When the Premier went on provincial-wide television on March 24, a Tuesday night, on NTV and attempted to sell this idea, that created more uncertainty in the people's minds. Because the Premier went on and talked about how the terrible wrongdoing that had to be corrected, the terrible mismanagement or mistakes that had been made with the Upper Churchill, and talked about the propaganda being put forward by citizens' groups, who I would like to publicly commend for their contribution. The Power of the People and Take Back the Power, and Cyril Abery. Rather than condemn these people I want to commend them, whereas people on the opposite side of the House have condemned these people as being troublemakers or have some political agenda. I want to commend them for their contribution on making the public more aware, more cognizant of the effects that these two bills are going to have on this generation and future generations of people living in this Province. They have to be commended.

When the Premier went on television that evening he suggested first of all that there had to be some method of correcting - now here he was supposed to be on television talking about privatization of Newfoundland Hydro and he talked about righting the wrong of the Upper Churchill deal. He apologized to his caucus, to his Cabinet, because he had suggested to them to not speak up, to keep their mouths shut, to keep quiet. Don't listen to anybody and don't say anything. Because really it may harm my secret scheme, my scheme that is going to right this terrible wrong, this slight that has been done to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He left one to believe that this scheme of his was going to correct - and that was the reason - this wrong that was done in the 1960s, this wrong that was perpetrated on the people of this Province by a party and a government of which he was a member at the time it was done, and now he was going to correct this deed of his youth, he needed the privatization and he needed Bill 2 to do this.

Well that was on Tuesday night, he explained to the people, and on March 24, Thursday, he again went on in a debate format with the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, the Member for Grand Falls, and the hon. the Leader of the New Democratic Party, the Member for St. John's East, and in that particular debate, the Premier had to admit that the truth that he told about the deceit that was perpetrated on the people of the Province in the months previous about the sale of Hydro and the merits of its privatization, was really not true. The truth about the deceit was really not true. That too, was deceitful, because he had to admit that you didn't have to sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in order to attempt some take-over or some recall of power from the Upper Churchill.

So, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province became more hardened, they have become more distrustful, they have also become more aware, but they need to be more aware, and the more this government attempts to ram this through the Legislature, I believe the people are going to get their backs up even more, and polls will indicate, I think, that that will actually grow in opposition to this. People have, subsequent to that, learned that it wasn't necessary to do this so really, what the Premier was saying wasn't true. It wasn't true. He attempted to mislead the people of the Province by continuing to deceive the people in the beginning and keep quiet because he said there was going to be hysteria -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Carried. (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No. No, Mr. Speaker. The hon. gentleman isn't finished, but I am sure that by the time the next election is called, there will be a lot of people on that side who are going to be finished.

MR. MURPHY: You wish.

MR. A. SNOW: I wish and hundreds of thousands of Newfoundlanders will be wishing. They are wishing for a vote tomorrow. They would like to have the vote today. They would like to have the opportunity in St. John's South, to vote, I can guarantee you. There is no doubt about it. They would love to have the opportunity of a vote today.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that this issue and subsequent issues that have been mishandled by this particular administration in recent months, remind me very much of what occurred federally with the Federal Progressive Conservatives. After they were re-elected the second time, they felt that they had a God-given right to do whatever they wished, that they knew better than anybody else in this country, and they were going to push ahead at anybody's peril and at all costs. And we saw what happened to that party and the people who ran for them, Mr. Speaker, we saw what happened there and that is exactly what is going to happen here, because people will not take that type of governing any more. They won't put up with it and they shouldn't have to put up with that type of governing, because that's not what a democracy is all about, and that's what they are not going to put up with.

As the Member for Ferryland suggested earlier, when he talked about Mr. Boswell's column in The Evening Telegram - and I quote in the reinforcement of what I suggested earlier, that people's attitudes are becoming hardened and that more and more people are coming to speak up against the sale, the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro when he says and I quote: "Despite my initial ideological support for privatization, I am increasingly convinced that the proposal would have a costly and harmful effect on the taxpayers and the economy of this Province. The benefits from a one-shot fiscal fix will be more than outweighed by the loss of an ongoing and increasing consumer cost."

Now, Mr. Speaker, if this government were so intent upon getting some benefits out of the Upper Churchill, which is what they talked about, that they want to get some benefits from it, and that is what they say the intent of this particular bill is, Mr. Speaker, is to get a benefit - well, they don't actually say that. The intent, I think, is to attempt to get the power from the producers and retailers of power and control it through the Public Utilities Board, and that is what part of this bill was going to be doing.

Mr. Speaker, we have had the opportunity as a province to recall 300 megawatts of power from the Upper Churchill. So far, we have only recalled, I think, about 130 megawatts of power, and we have actually had requests from industrial consumers in Western Labrador to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes. Newfoundland Hydro has. The hon. the Minister of Justice shakes his head in a negative manner.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman is giving (inaudible) statement - unless he carries on he is only telling part of the truth. (Inaudible) that is correct in my understanding, but there is more to it. Carry on.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, what I said was that we've had people seeking to establish an industrial base, an industrial complex, within Labrador West, and have asked to recall 130, or about 100 megawatts of power, and they've had no co-operation whatsoever from this Administration.

MR. TOBIN: That's a fact.

MR. A. SNOW: And that's a fact.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not true.

MR. TOBIN: It is true.

MR. A. SNOW: It is true.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nobody is listening, anyway (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You must be listening, or somebody.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: A lot people would agree with that particular statement.

MR. ROBERTS: If my friend, the Member for St. John's East were listening, I would say nobody is understanding it.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, there have been several attempts before to right the wrong of Upper Churchill and the previous administrations have attempted to get partial access by means of the water rights reversion act. In the 1970s they attempted to get partial access but in 1980 the water rights reversion act, after very much consultation - I believe, at the same time they were doing this they attempted to - the panel of lawyers that they had selected had reviewed the suggestions of the now-Premier, Mr. Wells, on how to get access to this particular power.


MR. A. SNOW: If nobody were allowed to - I won't say that, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, the Upper Churchill water rights reversion act of 1980 attempted to right this wrong by having complete control and total access to that particular power being produced in Churchill Falls. The Supreme Court of Canada declared the water rights reversion act unconstitutional and they ruled that it interfered with the right of Hydro Quebec under the power contract to receive an agreed amount of power at an agreed price, so it got thrown out of court, Mr. Speaker.

Now, what the Premier is attempting to do today is to go through the back door - what the previous administration could not do, and were told by the Supreme Court of Canada they couldn't do. He is attempting to go through the back door to do what previous administrations attempted to do - it didn't work then and it won't work now. They were told at the particular time that it wouldn't work. It didn't work then.

MR. SULLIVAN: They locked both doors at one time - the Supreme Court did.

MR. A. SNOW: They locked both doors, my friend, the hon. the Member for Ferryland says.


MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Premier makes three points in defence of his position on how this is going to work. First, the Province has the constitutional jurisdiction to manage and provide for the use, sale and distribution of power generated within the Province in order to meet the legitimate needs of consumers of power in this Province. That is his first point.

MR. TOBIN: Read it again, no one is listening.

MR. A. SNOW: The Minister of Finance is listening and paying very much attention. Secondly, the legislation has general application to all power produced in the Province and to all contracts for the supply of power, and any effect on Hydro Quebec's right under the power contract would be purely incidental to the main purpose of the act. Mr. Speaker, it means that it would not be the pith and substance of the act. It is incidental, Mr. Speaker. The control over all the hydroelectric assets of the Province is essential to meet the needs of the people of this Province. That is what the Premier suggested. That was his third, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you agree with that?

MR. A. SNOW: No, I do not, Mr. Speaker. I do not think this can work. I honestly believe, and I have talked to many lawyers, and they have suggested that it will not work. In the case of bringing the Hydro debate into it, it is merely an issue to hide the real reason for selling Newfoundland Hydro. That is all it was. The Premier said himself, he admitted himself, that the real reason of raising this issue of Churchill Falls was to reinforce the argument of the sale of Newfoundland Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot of people talking about how the credit rating is going to be improved in this Province over the sale of this. As a matter of fact we had somebody on last week, we had the Member for Eagle River ask the Minister of Finance about how the credit rating would be improved according to some people in this country, Mr. Speaker. In point of fact what they did say is that it possibly would not harm the credit rating.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. A. SNOW: That was what he said. That is not what you said but that is what the credit rating agency said. They said it would not harm, it would not have a negative effect, but it did not say it was going to have a positive effect.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not what he said. That is being dishonest.

MR. A. SNOW: That is not being dishonest.

MR. TOBIN: At the time of the mini-Budget you said, who cares about the Canadian bond rating agency? That is what you said to the Premier.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, what they said is that it may not.

MR. TOBIN: All it did was reaffirm. It reaffirms.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, it says it may not have a negative impact upon the credit rating, so again it is propaganda being put out.

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

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is referring to a release that he has there verbatim, and the member is making certain claims to that release. I wonder if he has the courage to actually read that release in the House so we can all judge as to whether he is interpreting properly or not?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Newfoundland's credit rating reaffirmed at triple B. The Province of Newfoundland debentures and short-term ratings are reaffirmed at Triple B.

MR. TOBIN: That's what it said.

MR. A. SNOW: The Province of Newfoundland debentures and short-term ratings are reaffirmed at BBB and A-.

MR. TOBIN: It reaffirms.

MR. A. SNOW: That's all it does. That is all it says. It just reaffirms the credit rating.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read it all.

MR. A. SNOW: Another headline in here says that the rating outlook is negative.

MR. TOBIN: Now read why.

MR. A. SNOW: Because the declining groundfish stocks continue to lower fish landings and manufacturing output in 1993. The Hibernia offshore project -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Member for Green Bay is encouraged to read it.

MR. HEWLETT: I have no problem with reading what is here, because it says: If Hydro's privatization does not occur, the rating may - and I stress, may - be reassessed; may be reassessed.

Then they talk about a certain short-term improvement in the Province's budgetary outlook over the next year or so, and that's all. Then they go on to talk about the fishery, the offshore oil, taxes, and all that sort of stuff, indicating that over the long term the rating outlook is negative. So the most they are saying is that if it doesn't occur the rating may be reassessed, and they go on to talk about some short-term benefits. If Hydro is privatized, it will have an immediate budgetary impact. Then they go on to say that nonetheless the long-term outlook is bad. That is what it says: the long-term outlook is bad.

This is all financial gibberish. The bottom line is quite simple. The Premier came into this House of Assembly the other day with a big, smug, grin on his face, talking about how those of us in Opposition and members of the general public who oppose his policy position, that we are all going to have egg over our face, that we are going to be humiliated and so on and so forth. It sounded as if the Archangel Gabriel or someone was going to come down from heaven and say: This is my beloved Clyde in whom I am well pleased.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that didn't happen. A credit rating agency, one of the minor rating agencies, comes out and says: If the privatization does not occur, the rating may be reassessed - `may' be reassessed. This is not one of the major rating agencies, and we are supposed to be humiliated, have egg all over our face, because of a `may be' of a reassessment if something doesn't occur. That is hardly earth-shattering. It certainly did not go like wildfire through the provincial media. It certainly didn't upset the body politic. For the most part, all the meetings and groups that the Premier has spoken to, his public debate, his private speech to the people on television, his advertising campaign in the newspapers and on radio, have not had one tittle or jot of impact on the mind of the body politic in this Province.

I was at a public seminar in my district on the weekend and everybody, without exception, who spoke to me about it, the first thing they asked was: Is he really going to go through with this Hydro thing? Where is he coming from? What is going on?

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them what Ed Smith said to you. What did Ed Smith say to you?

MR. HEWLETT: Ed Smith was confused. Ed Smith didn't know how to vote himself on the Hydro issue, but then again 20 per cent of the people of the Province either are unsure or they agree with the privatization. Eighty per cent are against. Now it's Ed Smith's perfect right to be among the twenty. It is a democracy. Ed Smith can be among the twenty. The thing that is significant, for the Member for St. John's, is that the 20 per cent has remained constant. The people have made up their minds on this issue, and the Premier as good as admitted this weekend... When I was in my district on Saturday morning, VOCM Radio out of Grand Falls had a story on about the Premier who was out there, I think, speaking to a Chamber of Commerce - maybe it was Bishop's Falls, or somewhere there in Central Newfoundland - and basically the story said that the Premier railed on as usual about those who are spreading lies and misinformation and so on and so forth. He almost admitted that he had given up on changing public opinion on the issue, so he said: I'm going to go ahead with it anyway and if you don't like it you can vote against me in the next election.

Mr. Speaker, even assuming that the Premier is going to be around for the next election, it will be too late as far as Hydro is concerned come the next election. All of us as members in this House are subject to ratification by the people come the next election. But if I'm elected or defeated or I run or I don't run, I'm not conceited enough to think that is going to shake the foundations of Newfoundland and Labrador for the long-term. What the Premier is about, and if he does it prior to the next election, will affect the long-term viability of this Province for generations to come. He will undo the work of a previous generation in giving away the things which have already been built, and will stymie the ability of another generation to develop the resources of the Lower Churchill River by selling off the main instrument we have to do that.

That is a long-term significant negative impact on the future of this Province and it is not sufficient, I would say, for the Premier to say: If the people don't like it they can vote me out of office come the next election. That is their right anyway. The point is that if they vote him out of office in the next election any government they put in to replace him will not have the financial wherewithal to go and buy back that which we just sold. The days of having that kind of money are over with. Frank Moores bought back some water rights in Labrador at a cost, I think it was $150 million, back in the 1970s, to undo what the previous Liberal administration had given away. If we are going to sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro for $300 million when you've probably on the Island alone have $2 million or $3 million worth of dams, power stations, waterways and transmission lines, there is no way any company is going to sell it back for the same price.

Even if you had a new government with a new policy direction that called for a Crown corporation public utility we wouldn't have the financial wherewithal. Let's be realistic. We wouldn't have the wherewithal to buy it back. So it is insufficient for the Premier to come on the radio station and say: I'm tired of trying to change the people's minds. The people have a right to disagree with me and they can express the disagreement with me in the election, after I've done the job, after I've sold out the Province. That is not sufficient.

I don't know if the Member for St. John's North is here. Today in my in basket I got a letter addressed to the Member for St. John's North signed by three citizens - one from Cumberland Crescent, one from Gosling Street, one from University Avenue - requesting a public meeting on the entire matter. Yes, the Member for St. John's North is here. They surveyed 279 names door to door and 101 by telephone. Just about everybody - I think it was 97 per cent of the people that this little committee contacted wanted the public meeting from the hon. Member for St. John's North. They wrote the member, they copied the Premier, obviously they copied the members of the Opposition. I got this in my mailbox today: We request that this meeting be held as soon as possible before this issue is voted on in the House of Assembly.

I remember very well when Meech Lake was going through this House a few years ago it was such an important issue that the boys in the back room up in Ottawa couldn't be doing such a thing, such an affront to the Canadian nation. The Premier brought it down here with much to do about that particular sort of outrage. To show his true and unwavering democratic spirit he suspended the sitting of this Legislature. Gave us all some money, no less. Of all things coming from Mr. Wells, money. Strange in this day and age, but back then, because he was pursuing a certain policy, he gave every member some money to go out into their districts to have public meetings and hold consultations -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) a free vote!

MR. HEWLETT: To hold some free vote, my foot.

AN HON. MEMBER: And a free vote.

MR. HEWLETT: Yes, some free vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) which you never had! You never had one!

MR. HEWLETT: He kept you into lunch, he wouldn't let you stray over lunchtime. He kept you locked up in the caucus room until the Manitoba Legislature closed! So don't talk to me about a free vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. HEWLETT: It is true. He gave us money to go out and consult. Because do you know what, Mr. Speaker? He expected those of us in favour of Meech Lake to be eaten alive by our constituents. That is the reason he gave us money to consult. I went out and I consulted. I had a meeting with the local chamber of commerce and they tried to eat me alive, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did your constituents tell you?

MR. HEWLETT: They told me: Do not vote for Meech Lake, and I said, I listen to your concerns, but with respect, I disagree.

MR. MURPHY: What were you going to do?

MR. HEWLETT: If I had the chance to vote, would have voted in favour of Meech Lake.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: I listen to my constituents. I had eight telephone calls during the entire Meech Lake debate. That's how strongly my constituents felt about it. So there a consultation was very much in order. This day and age, the Premier doesn't want to hear of it. He goes and sends out pamphlets in the mail, takes out ads on the radio, ads in the newspapers and he really doesn't care. The bottom line is that if the body politic had shifted with regard to pubic opinion on this issue, by now the government would have trotted out a poll, because the government is desperate to obtain some support and sanction for what it's doing. Instead, all it can trot out are a certain bond rating agency, certain people who are in the business of selling shares, etcetera. People who stand to do well by this transaction, people in a conflict of interest, people who can afford to buy shares. These are the people that the Premier has recruited to speak on behalf of this issue, Mr. Speaker, but the ordinary people, your average citizen, has already spoken. I've never bought a share in a company in my life and given my financial position, I doubt if I do, but in this one, we already own it, that's true, and why should I buy?

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible) in the next election - Green Bay - Buchans.

MR. HEWLETT: Green Bay - Buchans in the next election, Mr. Flight, no problem. Come on down, is what I say to you, come on down. We'll see how you do in Triton.

AN HON. MEMBER: Actually, I was speaking to somebody in Triton (inaudible). I got a good summary of what's going on in Triton.

MS. VERGE: How do they feel about Hydro?

MR. HEWLETT: Ah, that done the question, yes.

Mr. Speaker, this government seems intent on doing what it wants to do regardless. It is not sufficient to say that the people will have the ultimate say come the next election, because by the time the next election rolls around - resource facilities already built, replacement value in the billions will be gone. The Minister of Finance, the current minister, I'm sure is an honest man, but under the current legislation before the House, the Minister of Finance has the right, by ministerial order, to give away water rights. The Premier was on the radio saying water rights are not in danger. People who say that are hysterical; they're spreading lies and untruths and so on and so forth. The legislation itself says that the Minister of Finance has the power to give out water rights. Six months after Hydro is privatized there's nothing that can stop the Minister of Finance from donating to that new company the water rights to the Lower Churchill River system, nothing under the sun. It doesn't require any public hearings. It doesn't have to come to this Legislature for a debate. The minister can sign an order and people for the most part, if there's no environmental regulatory process put in place, people wouldn't know that the Lower Churchill was being developed until the bulldozers start to run. That is what can happen, Mr. Speaker. The Premier said nobody's entitled to more than 20 per cent of Hydro. We're going to make sure that people don't hog-in on this and make a bundle at the people's expense. In the particular legislation we have before us in Bill 2, there's a provision for the Public Utilities Board to grant more than 20 per cent to some company making an application along those lines.

Generally speaking, Mr. Speaker, from the time I spent as energy critic and attending a couple of Public Utilities Board hearings, 90 per cent of the time that a major large company applies to the utilities board for a certain right, makes an application for a certain rate, it's generally given. They come supplied with batteries of lawyers and accountants and generally speaking, Mr. Speaker, nine times out of ten, they are successful. So there's no doubt whatsoever that increasing the 20 per cent ownership right in the new Hydro is a trap door through which many things can slip including the eventual merger which the Premier wanted from the very beginning of the existing Newfoundland Power with the newly privatized Hydro. Then, I heard a theory the other day, Mr. Speaker, from someone who had been in politics in Newfoundland for some time, he's retired now, I won't say the name but he said, `Given the Premier privatizing Hydro, who's to bet that he won't be retiring from politics within a year and who's to bet that within a year from then, he, himself won't be chairman of the newly privatized Hydro corporation, or eventually chairman of the newly merged Newfoundland Power and the newly privatized Hydro?'

People are profoundly suspicious of the Premier's motives with regard to his actions here. The Premier showed in the way he handled Bill 2 and the secrecy involved with regard to his pat legal theory of obtaining redress from the Province of Quebec, that he is quite capable of dealing secretly on matters of this nature and, Mr. Speaker, one has to wonder why the great rush to sell Hydro.

In correspondence relating to this issue going back to the 1970s, the Premier, as a private lawyer, indicated that law of general application with regard to the regulation of electrical supplies in our Province can be placed on the books, can be tested before the courts without any reference to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro privatization in the context of electrical power control, Mr. Speaker, appears to be the icing on the cake, and I am not sure who the cake and the icing are meant for, but it is certainly not meant for the vast majority of the public of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, this bill that we have before us today, Bill 2, on the electrical power act, contains some good things. There is no debating the need for rules and regulations with regard to electrical power emergencies. In general, there is no problem with the Province testing its legal wings with regards to laws of general application with regard to the regulation of electrical power in the Province. We could easily pass an act in this Legislature without some of the odious things attached to this particular act and have it suspended, not proclaimed immediately, but have its proclamation pending a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada.

We could pass a law somewhat slimmer than the one that's here now with some of the questionable clauses removed and we could send it on to the court and if the Premier's legal theory is correct, that, by passing a law of general application, we have a right, maybe in the future to access some power from the Upper Churchill or somehow seek redress of our grievance on the Upper Churchill, then well and good; if the man comes up with something that works, good for him, but there is no need, Mr. Speaker, in pursuing that goal, to throw the baby out with the bath water. We don't need to throw away public facilities financed by the public of this Province worth literally billions of dollars already in place in terms of dams, waterways, transmission lines, power plants etcetera. We don't have to throw all that away for a paltry $200 million or $300 million in order for the Premier to test the legal theory.

He can pass his law of general application, not proclaim it, refer it to the Supreme Court of Canada and see if it holds water. Most legal experts say that it won't, that it will go the way of legislation brought forward by the previous Peckford Administration and the Supreme Court said that you can pass whatever laws you want in this Province, but as long as you are having a negative effect on an extraterritorial right employed by the Province of Quebec, then the law is unconstitutional.

But the law is a very technical thing, Mr. Speaker, a very technical thing and it may well be that there is a way to word something along technical lines. Nobody has come up with it so far, but it may well be possible, so why not pursue that particular goal, why not pursue that particular avenue? And if you did it straightforward, along those lines, then we could pass a law. Even if there are certain dangers inherent in that law, then we could test them all before the Supreme Court of Canada without putting it into force, without jeopardizing our Province's position, our ownership of the existing Churchill Falls operation.

None of those things need to be thrown out with the bath water, Mr. Speaker; there is a way I am sure, if the right technical minds come together to put forward the Premier's theory in technical, legal phrasing, that will or will not stand the test before the Supreme Court of Canada. But what we have here, Mr. Speaker, is an act that proclaims to do that, throwing in a whole bunch of other things, for instance, turning labour relations in the electrical power industry over to the Public Utilities Board. That is amazing, Mr. Speaker. There is no call for anything of that nature; that has nothing to do with the law of general application regarding the supply of electricity in the Province.

There are other items. The business of the 20 per cent ownership of shares, none of that needs to be in. There are things in this bill that are predicated on the privatization of Hydro, and the Premier has admitted on a number of occasions that the privatization of Hydro is not necessarily a prerequisite to passing a law of general application. The most he has made for that case is that privatization of Hydro may help in his particular legal pursuit - may help. There is no guarantee that his particular legal pursuit has any technical legal merit whatsoever. Instead, we bring forward a bill of general application with half-a-dozen odds and ends tacked on that are bad for the Province, and in tandem with this, we have a bill to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

I can only see one motivation for the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and it is not tied to Bill 2. Bill 2 does not require - and the Premier admitted it in correspondence previous and in public debate - Bill 2 does not require the privatization of Hydro to accomplish what it sets out to do, and whether or not it will accomplish what it sets out to do is basically dependent on a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Privatization is not required, so why are we doing privatization? Surely, it's not because of some philosophical binge on the part of this government that says if it doesn't serve a public policy purpose then it should be privatized, because I do believe that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has performed a public policy purpose and still has a public policy purpose left to perform.

That particular corporation was formed in reflex to the way the previous Liberal government turned over the hydroelectric resources of the Upper Churchill River system to a private company that did a deal that was good for itself, good for the Province of Quebec, and lousy for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We still have a major hydroelectric resource left in Labrador, one of the last mega-projects, probably, that we can ever hope to get going in this Province, and I think it would be in the public interest that the people of the Province, through a Crown corporation called Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, would have an instrument to carry out the people's will in that regard.

With regard to the offshore, which the Supreme Court ruled was a federal jurisdiction, we managed to lobby, cajole, browbeat, whatever you want to call it, the Mulroney Administration into basically giving us more than the Constitution gave us with regard to the offshore. We have the Offshore Petroleum Board, which is a joint federal/provincial Crown corporation, to oversee the development of our oil and gas reserves off our coast. Here we have a mega-project, and both levels of government, federal and provincial, saw fit to set up a Crown corporation as an instrument of the people to fulfil a public policy purpose with regard to offshore development.

We have an instrument of the people with regard to the development of the remaining hydroelectric resources in this Province, and its purpose is not yet fulfilled. There are still things to be done. Most of the major developments on the Island, Labrador, are still unfinished, so there is no reason to sell this thing off right now except to feather the pockets of a certain elite, and that's what is truly sad and tragic about this. There is no overwhelming public policy purpose behind this. There is no legal purpose to bolster Bill No. 2 with regard to a law of general application on the regulation of electrical rates and utilities of this Province, so there is no legal requirement. There is no public policy requirement, so what else is there?

MS. VERGE: Skulduggery in the Province.

MR. HEWLETT: Yes, there are certain people who have come out in favour of the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and the general public, the citizenry of this Province, know all too well who these people are. They are the people who have money, who want more money.

MS. VERGE: And now who are on the gravy train.

MR. HEWLETT: They speak from a point of conflict of interest. They will either make money through the sale of shares, or they will make money on their purchase of shares - shares which I think carry with them some sort of guaranteed return in the order of 13 per cent or 14 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, people, so far, who spoke in favour of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro privatization have for the most part been self-serving. They are in a conflict of interest and it is rather shameful and tragic that such a major issue would be run on the engine of wealth for a few and loss for the many.

We have an article here with regard to the privatization of the Nova Scotia power corporation. In the legislative assembly of Nova Scotia the government of the day who did the privatization was a Progressive Government under Premier Cameron. The New Democrat MLAs and the Liberal MLAs in the Nova Scotia legislature spoke out very strongly against the privatization and lo and behold the New Democrats moved forty-four amendments to the bill, and the Liberal's contribution to the debate in Nova Scotia was a six month hoist on the bill, the very thing we are debating here now. They said that the privatization of Nova Scotia power was not in the best interest of the citizens and the two opposition parties in that particular House of Assembly at the time came forward very strong both in regards to amendments to the legislation put forward, and in asking for a six month delay so that people would have time to reflect on this matter, and that is exactly what we are doing here.

Now, we have the Liberal Party of Newfoundland going forward against all manner of public opposition, trying to foist this particular deal on the people and the people do not want it. The hon. the Premier said that those of us who are opposed are lying to the people and we are creating hysteria. Len Simms is a liar, Lynn Verge is a liar, Alvin Hewlett is a liar, Jack Harris is a liar, Bill Vetter is a liar, Jim Halley is a liar, Cyril Abery is a liar, Greg Malone is a liar, come to think of it maybe 80 per cent of the people are liars. Maybe they are all liars except the 20 per cent who agree with the Premier. Maybe they are all hysterical except for the 20 per cent who agree with the Premier. The Premier does not care.

Like I said, he came on the radio in Grand Falls on Saturday and said that he has basically given up on speaking to the people on this because the people have been hoodwinked by people like ourselves, the people have been fooled and it is a waste of time to try and convince the people, so I am going to do this anyway, and if the people do not like it they can vote against me in the next election. Now, what kind of arrogance is that, Mr. Speaker? It is one thing for the people to vote against the Premier in the next election as that is everybody's democratic right, but I do not think the Premier will be around. He may well be chairman of the new privatized power corporation come the next election. He has experience in that field, I am told. Like the Member for Humber East just mentioned the rest of them may well be defeated.

One of the subjects that comes up in conversation when you talk to your average citizen about this is, why is the Liberal Party letting the Premier do this? Fully 80 per cent of the people have been opposed to this, and opposed on an ongoing basis, and why is the Liberal Party committing self-destruction over this? Why are they hanging themselves out today as a viable political force in this Province? Why are they doing themselves in because of the single-minded passion of one individual? People cannot fathom that. They cannot fathom why the group who sit behind and to the side of the Premier would march like lemmings off the cliff at his behest. People do not understand the nature of the beast, Mr. Speaker.

Most people expect that political parties will at least, to some extent, be sensitive to public opinion. Political parties by their very nature have a tendency to look after their own self-preservation, but here we have a political party in some sort of suicidal bent to follow the Premier. I know they used the Premier when they were in Opposition. They had been in opposition for seventeen years and they were desperate to get back in power so they did their deal, they did their Faustian deal. They paid the man $50,000 a year over and above what this Legislature would pay him. They paid him to lead their party from opposition into victory. He led them into victory on the promise to create enough jobs to bring home every mother's son. What a joke, Mr. Speaker. Once they got him, then the man went off on a crazed amalgamation scheme, then he went crazy on the constitution for a couple of years, and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Your political capital from the constitutional debate carried you through the last election but it's expended now and more besides. Your political capital that you had going into the last election has now been expended. If you had an election tomorrow you wouldn't fare half as well as you did before. I quite literally mean you wouldn't fare half as well. You'd be lucky to come up with fifteen seats because the people out there can't believe the single minded arrogance of this administration in the pursuit of the sale of Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: It will be three-and-a-half years from now.

MR. HEWLETT: Three-and-a-half years from now this issue will certainly be -

AN HON. MEMBER: They won't forget.

MR. HEWLETT: If we have breath, Mr. Speaker, we're not going to let the issue die.


MR. HEWLETT: We're not going to let you - if you do this, I mean this is going to follow you to the political grave the same way that the Upper Churchill did.

AN HON. MEMBER: Pure politics.

MR. HEWLETT: You're right about something, Sir, that is pure politics. That is politics and that is what we're elected to be. We're politicians and if you sell out the long term interest of the people of this Province it's our duty, as other politicians in this House, to point that out. To point it out not only today but next year and the year after and into the general election that will be coming up in two to three years time and the people will remember this the way they remember the Upper Churchill. The Upper Churchill cost you seventeen years in the wasteland, Mr. Speaker, seventeen years they had in the wasteland because of the Upper Churchill. The most they can rail on about is a $20-odd million failed greenhouse experiment. Churchill Falls is $800 million a year for sixty-five years, Mr. Speaker. It kind of makes Sprung pale even though it's green. It makes it pale in comparison doesn't it? Eight hundred million dollars a year for sixty-five years and the most they can hang their hat on with regards to the sins of the previous administration was one failed industrial enterprise.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I can guarantee you one thing, the Liberal Party of this Province will never have a Sprung. It will never have a Sprung because in order to have a Sprung you have to try something first and what they've tried in terms of industrial development has essentially been nil. This proposal with regard to Hydro is a major, major thing, Mr. Speaker, but it's not going to create any new jobs. It's just going to shift wealth from the people to the elite.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to stand to clear up a few comments, number one by my colleague from Menihek and obviously you have to clear up some of the stuff that the Member for Green Bay just ranted, raved and talked about. I often wonder when the hon. member stands in his place, in any debate, why he doesn't tell all the story. He touched on it today but he realized it was a sensitive nerve and maybe some of his colleagues would pick up - when Mr. Crosbie - he said Mr. Moores but it wasn't Mr. Moores, it was Mr. Crosbie with his vendetta against BRINCO who bought back the power rights in Labrador at a cost of $350 million, in l973 - I think it was, I stand to be corrected - 1973 dollars. Now you're looking at twenty-one years ago. That amount of money today would probably be worth somewhere in the vicinity - if you look at how the dollar has gone - somewhere near $600 million but that's not the sin. That's not the real sin because obviously there was no need to buy back that power at that time from BRINCO but we went out or Mr. Crosbie went out as the then finance minister and borrowed $350 million, put this Province's signature on $350 million in - at that time I think, I stand to be corrected again because I don't have the figures in front of me, but very close to 12 per cent.

Now I say to you, Mr. Speaker, and we know that neither government - neither the Moores government, nor the Peckford government, nor this government - has had an opportunity to pay a rusty penny, not one rusty penny on the provincial deficit. Not a penny, but it's been one continuation, accumulation of interest and deficit and deficit, but let me go back to that year when this Province owed - when the people of this Province owed - it's not the Province but the people of this Province owed the world some $920 million dollars, that was it, and then the water on the beams changed quite drastically. We had seventeen years of the same kind of approach that the hon. the Member for Green Bay brings to this House today, and where did the deficit go, Mr. Speaker? from $950 million to $6.5 billion. And I remind the hon. the Member for Green Bay that that $350 million - he can take out his pen or he can get his friend, the Member for Ferryland to do it with his Calvert calculus over there, and he can tell me how it comes out. But I would suggest that if you look at ten years at 10 per cent - and I am being kind, Mr. Speaker, that's $350 million, and if you look at twenty-one years, what Mr. Crosbie and Mr. Moores decision has done, is cost this Province, the people of this Province, some $800 million of interest - haven't brought down one penny of the principal. Now that's the story the hon. member should have continued to tell, that's what he should have continued.

MR. HEWLETT: Why did he have to pay it back? (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Struck a nerve, Mr. Speaker, struck a nerve.

MR. HEWLETT: Struck a nerve? The nerve of (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: There was no valid reason (inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I tell you, the Minister of Justice is entirely right, there was no valid reason. The only reason that came across - the government of the day is mine - led by the finance minister was a vendetta against BRINCO, that's it, and $800 million later, this Province has paid interest on that money. Now, let's move on to the other years and talk about the Churchill project, because I happened to be, Mr. Speaker, employed by a company called Shawmont Engineering and that company was involved in management and design of the Lower Churchill, the Lower Churchill. And we went and got $100 million, Mr. Crosbie went off and got $100 million again, down south.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland, on a point of order.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Member for St. John's South is not telling the facts. There is $409 million showing on the Upper Churchill and several hundreds of millions of dollars has been amortized since, based on Paradise River and Bay d'Espoir and all these other projects since that, so it is down from $900-and some to $409 million as of last year. There are other projects capitalized so he is not telling the facts to the House here, Mr. Speaker.


MR. ROBERTS: A point or order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is ready to rule on the point of order.

MR. ROBERTS: So soon?


MR. ROBERTS: I was only going to point out that my friend, the Member for Ferryland, has his facts wrong again. He doesn't know what he is talking about, he has just proven that.

MR. SPEAKER: No, no. Both hon. members are only using the rules of the House to try to take part in the debate. There is no point of order; the member just wanted to take part in the debate.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, let's move a little further forward.

MR. SULLIVAN: Forward? (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Yes. A couple years, Mr. Speaker, and we got $100 million and we did all the surveys. We went down to Gull Island and we did all the drilling, and we set up all the camps, and we did all the things that one would do in order to start a new project.

MR. ROBERTS: How about the tunnels?

MR. MURPHY: That is right. That is what I am getting to.

We did all of that. We built a by-pole structure. Thank god, at least something came out of it. I remember it very well, because that particular summer just about all of Labrador was on fire through lightning, and we were building a by-pole structure from Churchill Falls to Goose Bay, and it was a busy time up there. We got that by-pole structure built down to Goose Bay, and took Goose Bay off it, which was then involved with diesel power, and put them on the Upper Churchill. But all during that particular time the $100 million that the Moores Administration borrowed went to pure and utter waste. The only good thing that came out of that whole project was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Well then, that's fine. Then I will agree to that if the hon. members will agree to the fact that the twelve years to build the Upper Churchill educated an awful lot of Newfoundlanders, paid for a lot of houses, bought a lot of cars.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: The Upper Churchill. The Lower Churchill was a year-and-a-half of nothing, a disaster. The only one that really made any money was the fellow in the hon. the Minister of Education's district or, I am not sure, Industry, Trade and Technology's district, that sold the hundred bags of flour. That was the only real money that was made, to put down the holes, to put down the shafts. When they made the explosion, to make it look good, they had fifty bags of flour in each hole so the flour went all over the place and everybody cheered.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).



MR. MURPHY: Flour. Flour on top of the dynamite so that it would look marvellous - $100 million later. Let's accumulate that. Let's accumulate that at 10 per cent, and I am still being kind, I say to the Member for Green Bay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Never mind, now. You got up and got on with your gobbledygook. You listen to me - $100 million dollars at 10 per cent, eighteen years ago - not that government, not the Moores Government, not the Peckford Government, not the Wells Government has had the opportunity to pay one cent on the principal. But let's talk about the interest and why the deficit is $6-plus billion.

One hundred and eighty million dollars of interest has been paid by the people of this Province on the decision of the Moores Administration to borrow $100 million on the Lower Churchill I say to the Member for Ferryland, and all the engineering and design work was all gone, shattered, destroyed, thrown away, finished, so let us set the record straight. Our friends get up day after day, after day, and complain, cry, and whine about the Upper Churchill. It is not tough to look over your shoulder. Hindsight is known as 20/20 vision. It is easy when oil was $2.40 a barrel, it is easy when it is $18.00 to criticize.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about this power bill, the hon. members opposite know that it is the first real opportunity for Newfoundland and Labradorians to have an opportunity to recover some of the power from the Upper Churchill and hopefully we will see soon enough because hydro is still the cleanest and the best and the only way to generate power that is acceptable by 1994 standards when we look at environment and we look at many other things. Oil-fired - nuclear is really a sewer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Well, that is a good idea, and I say to hon. members if we had a windmill over here we could generate a lot of megawatts of power coming this way. All the wind is coming this way and hot air rises so we would have to put it up there somewhere, and when the hon. Member for Ferryland gets up there will be nothing only a burr, a buzz. The windmill will be flying I say to him. There will be sparks flying everywhere. Let us not get up and speaker, after speaker, after speaker, get on with this hoodwink, this silly approach to Churchill Falls.

The hon. members have to realize that it is time for us to have a good, long hard look at what is going on. You have made an issue out of Hydro, you are making an issue out of the power control act, and you are not telling the people the truth. You are not telling the people the truth. You are using all the slick political tricks you can muster, and you are not being candid and you are not being honest.

You never ever talk about why we are in this dilemma. Why the Minister of Finance is stuck with $6.5 billion, to try and run this Province with 500,000 people. It is incredible what you've done to the economic problems that surround us all today in 1994.

Remember, I say to the new hon. members opposite, that when this country was at its best from a standpoint of finance, in the 1980s - not 1982 or 1983 - but the late 'eighties and the middle 'seventies, when things were going great, they went down to the bond markets and they borrowed whatever they could get their hands on. They didn't solve a problem. They took the money and they threw it at the problem.

Here we are, 1994, trying in a recession, with a groundfish stock gone - I'm not going to point any blame at anybody for that reason - and taking fiscal responsibility. Trying to do what we can and must do for the people of this Province if our children, our grandchildren, and future generations of Newfoundlanders have an opportunity at all. What do we find? Hon. members opposite standing in their place and getting on and raving and ranting about absolutely nothing.

This government is not conducting administration situations because they want to say to the general service: No. We are not saying no to the nurses or schoolteachers. We are saying: Here is what we must do. That is what we are saying. We don't finish the statement. We don't say: Here is what we must do because of the Moores and Peckford administrations.


MR. MURPHY: Because that would be the correct thing, I would say to the member, to say. After five years - this government has done everything to try and carry itself through the misadministration of the previous Tory governments, the seventeen years of mismanagement, the 90 per cent debt that you put on this government over seventeen years. It is incredible and it is shameful.

You can sit in your place time after time and listen to speaker after speaker, but sooner or later you have to stand up and if nothing else, tell the truth, say it like it is, tell it as it is. Get up and refute the kind of stuff you have to listen to the Member for Green Bay get on with today. Selective, very, very selective, I say to the Member for Green Bay. Why don't you get up -

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible) bill.

MR. MURPHY: No, we will deal with the bill. We are dealing with an amendment to the bill, I say to the member, if he doesn't know. It is an amendment we are dealing with.

MR. HEWLETT: Okay, an amendment to suspend it for six months. Why do you think we want it suspended for six months?

MR. MURPHY: Why do you want to suspend it for six months? I'll tell you why you want to suspend it for six months, so you can start all the foolishness again six months from now, That's why you want to suspend it for six months - political garbage.

Half the members over there have told me, one on one, that privatization is a good deal for the people of this Province. Half the members opposite have told me, one on one, there is nothing wrong with the legislation - nothing.

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, I wouldn't do that because they told me in confidence, and that's not fair. I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't do that to any hon. member. I would not do it. No.

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I might, as Steve Neary said, I just might, before this debate is over and settled.

There are a lot of members over there who know the circumstance and the situation that this Province is in, and the Minister of Finance - members opposite laughed a couple of weeks ago. `Oh,' they said, `the paper said that the sale of Hydro would have no impact whatsoever on the credit rating of the Province,' but slowly but surely it is coming to light that it may not - it may not - and we are not far away from, that it will.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Oh, yes. Oh, sure. Well, the members opposite got up and said that Mr. what's his name from Moody's - I can't remember his name -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Standard and Poor's - that's right - were adamant. No way, selling Hydro - no way. That was a month ago. Now it's `iffy'. Now it's May.

Well, I don't need - the hon. Member for Ferryland is not the only one who has the document. I have the document here.

MR. SULLIVAN: That's not it. (Inaudible) pages.

MR. MURPHY: God help us! No wonder the children on the Southern Shore have so much trouble.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: There are a few more numbers I want to get to be a little more specific, so with that I would adjourn the debate, and thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I take it by the enthusiastic applause opposite that hon. members on both sides acknowledge a good speech when they have heard it. I will say to my friend, the Member for St. John's South, that is the only good speech we have heard on this bill today.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I would remind members that when we adjourn we shall meet tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. And when we wend our way through the Question Period, where we hope the Opposition Leader will have done his homework in a better way than he did today and we then get through our two petitions, we will carry on with legislation. We will, I think, deal with the Automobile Insurance Act, on which I understand there's a consensus among all groups in the House - the Automobile Insurance Act that we will deal with that expeditiously and when that's done we will then carry on -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the House Leaders will consult tomorrow. If we're not able to deal with it expeditiously then we'll not be calling it, it's that simple. We'll save it for a late night when members want to stay here late. When we finish that or if we don't do it, we'll come back on the Electrical Power Control Act. I say to the House, Mr. Speaker, that I'm going on the understanding that the bill was approved in second reading in the old session before the break. It went to a committee of the House, the committee have made some recommendations, the bill has now been amended to include the recommendations so I assume that all hands are content with it. But if that's not the case, we'll address the issue and I'll speak to my friend, the Member for Grand Bank and my friend, the Member for St. John's East.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It's Bill 8, yes. My understanding is there is agreement but we'll see. In any event, when that's done we'll deal with the Electrical Power Control Act and we'll hear from some more speakers. With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.

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