April 26, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLII  No. 30

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a point of privilege.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege to what I consider, quite naturally, to be a very serious matter pertaining to the scheduled meetings of the estimates committees.

This morning, the Government Services Committee was scheduled to meet here in the House to go through the estimates of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The committee came here to the Legislature this morning, waited for awhile, and the minister or the officials of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs did not show. Then, as I understand it, the chairperson of the committee went to call the department and was informed that they would not be here because the minister was at some other meeting.

Last week some time, I think - or the week before, or early last week - the acting Government House Leader, the Minister of Finance and myself, and the Member for St. John's East, and the chairpersons and vice-chairs of the committee, met at the Treasury Board boardroom to do a schedule. We realize that there are times that are difficult, as encountered. There have been some changes to the schedule already, but that is done by agreement with the chairperson and the vice-chair, and the minister and so on.

Tomorrow, for instance, Mines and Energy was scheduled in the a.m. and Fisheries in the p.m., and there has been an agreement between all of us that Fisheries will now go to the p.m. and Mines and Energy in the morning. But I think for members of the committee to show up this morning for an estimates committee hearing, and to be sitting here in the House waiting, and not know that kind of thing was going to happen, I think, to say it's a terrible inconvenience to members is an understatement because we had one member of our committee - I know the Member for St. John's East Extern - who had another commitment but rushed in here to be here because he felt that was his duty, and then to get back out.

I wanted to raise it under a point of privilege so I could at least have an opportunity to express the concerns that I and others on this side have about it, and I am sure other members of the committee, as well, from the government side. They should not be here sitting any morning or evening waiting for a minister and officials from a particular department to show up, and then they not show. I don't think it's good enough, and I wanted to take this occasion to bring it to the attention of the House, and hopefully we can avoid that kind of thing from happening again because it certainly takes away from members work and scheduling and I suppose to say it is a breach of privilege, I guess perhaps will go a little bit far, but it certainly is not good enough I say, Mr. Speaker, is the point. It is not good enough.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I think the minister may want to say a word in a moment he indicates to me, but let me say a word or two first. This is the first knowledge I had of the incident and I agree it is not good enough to use my hon. friend's words; I am quite sure the minister meant no offence and I can assure my hon. friend and the House that we on this side, and particularly the ministry, those directly involved in these matters, take the committee process seriously and that includes specifically in this case the estimates proceedings when ministers with their officials appear before the Standing Committees, the section 84 committees to deal with the estimates of their individual departments.

I don't know what happened this morning, I will have to leave it to the minister to address that; I am quite sure it was inadvertent, he was at a meeting throughout the morning which began at nine and went on until noon. I know because I was at the same meeting, it was a meeting of the Cabinet, but that still doesn't address the issue so I will leave it to the minister to deal with that or, if my hon. friend and the minister would prefer, I would have a word with my colleague once we get into Orders of the Day and address it there, but let me say, speaking for this side including I am sure my friend, whatever happened was inadvertent and I can assure my hon. friend that we shall take steps to make sure it does not recur.

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

MR. REID: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I feel obliged to say a few brief words. I totally agree with the hon. members concerned. The only problem I have with it is that the hon. Member for St. John's East notified me walking in here about ten minutes ago that I was supposed to be in the House this morning for estimates. I had absolutely no idea - I haven't been notified, no one in my department has been notified of estimates this morning so there has to be a breakdown of communications somewhere. It is not fair to say, Mr. Speaker, that it was neglect on my behalf or my officials behalf but the Ministry of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was not notified and I am pretty sure that most members who know me and know of my background and my previous four or five years in the House, know that if I was scheduled to be in this House this morning I would have been here; so I have to plead total ignorance on behalf of my department and myself.

MR. TOBIN: Who is the Chairperson?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

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

I would like to speak to that point. The minister has mentioned that I spoke to him on the way in and I think he may have given the idea that it was my responsibility to notify him of the meeting, when in fact it was the member from Trinity North who is chairman of the committee who should have notified us.

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

MR. SIMMS: I am somewhat surprised that the minister would not be aware that he was scheduled. We have a schedule, which as I understand, was developed in conjunction with the acting House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: There was no (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: But the committee was here, so, I guess, the purpose of raising it is to make sure that other ministers don't. We all know, of course, that we are practising under some restraint, because we only have fifteen days in which to deal with estimates, and we lost a full morning.

MR. BAKER: We can extend it a day or two.

MR. SIMMS: Can you? That is good. I am glad to hear the minister say that. Well, that may resolve that part of it.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, the hon. Opposition House -

MR. SIMMS: We have to watch the rules here, Mr. Speaker. I believe I was recognized and had the floor.

MR. ROBERTS: I would say you have been recognized many times (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I realize that, Mr. Speaker, and much more favourably than the Government House Leader, too, as a matter of fact. In any event that is irrelevant. The point is that it should not have occurred, whatever the reason was. The Chairman of the committee is a government member in the back bench, the Member for Trinity North and certainly he should have advised the minister, if nobody else should have, and the officials, so I would be interested in hearing what his explanation is as to why they did not do that. I am also pleased to hear the House Leader suggest that we will get an extra day or two if we need it. He is shaking his head, no, now.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No problem at all.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, no problem. Okay. I appreciate that.

I will sit down when I am ready I say to the Member for St. John's South.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take the matter under advisement.

Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public gallery three groups. The first is a group of thirty-two students from Bishop White High School in the community of Port Rexton, accompanied by their teachers Barry Pearce and Lloyd Vey. The second is a group of thirty-nine students from Improving Our Odds program in Bay Bulls and Tors Cove, accompanied by their teacher Mrs. Cathy Doyle. The final group is a group of twenty-five students from the Democracy Class at Queen Elizabeth Regional High School at Fox Trap in Conception Bay South, accompanied by their teacher Kim Butler.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to get some clarification, if I could, from the Premier. Yesterday I asked him some questions related to Part 2 of the Electrical Power Resources Act. Specifically I asked him if he had discussed the implications of Part 2 with the paper companies. Now, in reading Hansard, in reviewing Hansard, there were two conflicting answers.

When I asked him directly that question he had first said no but then later during my questioning he said government had met with both companies and they had expressed support for this bill. Further he said neither Abitibi is concerned nor is Kruger concerned, that's what he said yesterday. The first thing I want to ask the Premier is, which answer is correct? Have you in fact met with the paper companies and specifically discussed the implications of part 2 of the bill? If you have their support for this part of the bill, as you said you have, could you tell us specifically when such meetings were held and when such support was given and by whom?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, every answer I gave is correct. Every answer is correct. The twisting that the hon. member did of it that's incorrect. That's the part that's incorrect. We have met -I've met personally with representatives of both companies since that time, not specifically to deal with this bill, to deal with other matters, nobody at any time mentioned any concern about this bill to me. On one occasion during the meeting one representative of one of the paper companies expressed firm support for the proposition. There is no implication for the paper companies along the lines that the hon. member spoke of. Now that's probably why they haven't expressed any concern, because there is no implication. The only implication is that which the hon. member has fabricated.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the Premier, I'm asking him a straightforward question. Yesterday you said that they had expressed support for this legislation - that's what you said yesterday. Now I'm asking you to tell us when they did that and who in fact did it? When he refers to meeting with a group of representatives in which one representative expressed support for the proposition, what proposition was he talking to them about then? Was it this legislation or was it the privatization of Hydro?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there was no meeting with any representatives of either company specifically with respect to Hydro. What I said was I have met with representatives of both companies since the tabling of both pieces of legislation and both companies are fully aware of both pieces of legislation and nobody expressed any concern whatsoever to me about that. In one of the companies they expressed support for the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier to read Hansard. He said yesterday, `as a matter of fact both of the companies have expressed support for this.' Now you know, we're trying to get answers to questions. There's obviously a conflict in the answer. The first answer was no, then it was both of the companies yesterday and now he tells us one of the companies. Can he please tell us precisely when he met with them and who gave him the support that he's talking about, can he answer that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I'm just trying to recollect now the meeting and my recollection is that in a discussion with representatives of Abitibi they expressed support for this whole approach of government to this whole question. Mr. Manuel has expressed support for the whole privatization approach generally and so far as I know the general management of it. I can't quote him as expressing support for this specifically, but the general approach that the government is taking with respect to it, he has expressed support for it, yes, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Premier for clarifying it, because clearly we are talking about two different things here. The Premier is talking about now expression of support generally for the approach the government is taking. That wasn't what my question was yesterday, with all due respect. I asked him about the implications of Part II. That is what I was asking him yesterday. Either he misunderstood my questions or he misled us or he didn't hear what I had to say.

Let me move on, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask the Premier this. We all know that any legislation - in view of the fact the paper companies in this Province have been having a pretty rough time over the last few years - and any legislation that might expose their electrical power and their facilities and utilities for re-allocation, no matter how small that risk might be, could very well affect the financial position of any of these companies. That is my concern and should be the Premier's concern, I would argue. I would like to ask him directly this question: Will he meet with the, or request a meeting, with the top executives and their legal advisors of both Kruger and Abitibi-Price to find out whether or not indeed there is any basis for concern on Part II of that legislation? Would he do that and inform the House of the results of such a meeting?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the reason why is not necessary. There are no implications for either of the paper companies in Part II. Let me say again: There are no implications for either of the paper companies in Part II. It is only in the Opposition Leader's mind or it is only his fabrication, whatever it is.

Both paper companies know they have access to me at any time they want. All they have to do is pick up the phone and call. If they have any concerns about this or any other matter I will happily meet with them. But I'm not going to give any credence to this nonsense that the Opposition Leader is generating that there is some implications in Part II. There is none. None is intended, none is there, nobody need be concerned about it.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: We've heard that from you before.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, we have heard that from the Premier before and he has been proven to be wrong many times. Besides, all we have is the word of the Premier on this. That is not good enough on a matter of such great importance, I say to the Premier. He shouldn't just take my word for it. I can tell him that there are concerns within the top executives of the two companies.

On radio today the individual spokesman said that lawyers were looking at the legislation. He said the lawyers were looking at the legislation, and I can tell him what part of the legislation their lawyers are looking at. It is Part II.

Now if the Premier continues to ignore these concerns, that is fine; he will pay the penalty and the price in the end or, worse still, the people of the Province will pay the price in the end.

Let me ask him this. Many provinces and jurisdictions in Canada have some sort of legislation dealing with temporary allocation and reallocation of power in emergency situations and circumstances, which is, of course, the intent of Part III of the legislation, and I can say to the Premier that I think it's prudent for us to be doing the same thing and we support that.

I want to ask the Premier if he can tell the House if any other province in Canada has legislation similar to Part II, which provides for the allocation of facilities and power produced by any electrical utility in the Province, even if there is no power emergency.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I haven't checked it in six or seven years, so I am not entirely sure. I can have it checked and find out; but what I can tell the hon. member is that some other provinces have legislation that is more severe. They have legislation entitling the Crown owned utility to simply demand and direct any generator to supply power, with no protection, no nothing, to simply demand and protect it.

MR. SIMMS: Outside of an emergency?

PREMIER WELLS: Outside of an emergency, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I will dig it out. I don't know it right off the top of my head, but I will dig it out and see.

There is provision in at least two or three provinces that would allow such direction for the delivery of power generated by a generator of electricity without having the independent Public Utilities Board involved in it, as I recall. It has been many years since I looked at it, but that was the situation that I recall.

Mr. Speaker, I just got some information. I met with the industrial electrical users, which represented all of the industrial electrical users, including the two power companies, on February 21, and they were advised at that time of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: All of the industrial users, which included the two paper companies. I met with them on Monday, February 21, and people were made aware then of exactly what the government was proposing.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe at that meeting the Premier discussed this legislation with that group of people. That group of people included people from Come By Chance, I believe it was, oil refinery, the Royal Oak Mining Company was there, Abitibi in Stephenville, Abitibi in Grand Falls, and Kruger in Corner Brook. I know who was at the meeting, and I know what was discussed, and it wasn't the implications of Part II of this legislation, and the Premier knows darn well.

It was at that meeting that your friend, the manager of Kruger, jumped up and said that he supports Hydro - correct? Probably the same meeting.

Anyway, let me ask the Premier this question. This legislation could have very broad implications, whether the Premier wants to admit it here in the House or not, or just say it's a figment of my imagination, or attack me for raising the concerns. He can do all of that. The fact of the matter is, there are concerns out there about the legislation, not only with respect to the issue which I raised yesterday, but other issues which we will raise in the coming days.

There is a lot at stake. We have no previous experience to guide us on this particular matter, only the Premier's words, and we need to be assured - the people of the Province and indeed the government - that the legislation will not place existing industries in this Province in jeopardy at all, or jobs in jeopardy in this Province, and in view of that - and there are other concerns and people have a right to speak - would the Premier reconsider his concrete mind-set that he announced yesterday, that he would not hold public hearings with respect to this bill, or is it his intent to continue, as he has said he would continue, without public hearings and create yet another public relations disaster?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of diverting from the government's course with respect to this legislation because of the nonsense that the Opposition Leader has been fabricating about the implications of this and the implications of that where there are none.

The Opposition Leader is upset that this government is proceeding to do something that will be of value to the industrial consumers of this Province, that they sat for seventeen years and did nothing. Even when they were advised as to how it ought to be done, they did nothing. They sat on it. They didn't care about it. Now they are upset. This government is going to achieve where they failed miserably. This government is going to achieve -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - in providing properly for the management of all hydroelectric power in this Province. Mr. Speaker, we have no intention of stopping or diverting from this course because the Leader of the Opposition creates these bogeymen that he talks about because he can't discuss the issue on its real merits. He is not satisfied with doing that. He has to fabricate these bogeymen to create the idea that there is something wrong. Mr. Speaker, I met specifically with all of the industrial users in the Province and none of them expressed any concern whatsoever.

MR. SIMMS: But you didn't even bring up the bill on Hydro privatization. Don't tell me because I know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I can understand the Premier talking about his experiences with bogeymen because he is the bogey of bogeymen in this Province today.

I want to ask the Premier - yesterday on the evening news, federal fisheries minister Tobin told the whole country in front of a scrum in Ottawa that there would be no joint fisheries management arrangement with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Tobin's position is the same as that of the former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada. He said categorically, not by an industry renewal board, or any other board, would there be a joint fisheries management arrangement. That is what he said. I watched it myself. Anyone else who saw it heard the same thing.

Everyone now knows Mr. Tobin's response. There cannot be any doubt about it. I'm wondering in light of this, can the Premier now say if the Province will participate in the fishing industry renewal boards which has been a bone of contention for the last week or so between the Premier and Mr. Tobin?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The Province will not participate in any board that does not deal with the fishery on an ongoing basis. The Province will not participate in any board that only deals with down-sizing of the fishery. I can't make it any clearer than that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I read into the Premier's words that if the industry renewal board's mandate is not broadened to include aspects of joint management between Ottawa and St. John's, then the Premier will not participate. That is what I read into the Premier's answer.

MR. SIMMS: Is that what he said?

PREMIER WELLS: No, that is his interpretation.

MR. SIMMS: No, that is not what you said. We didn't think you said that. That is what everybody (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Okay. See? That is why I said what I said, so I hopefully could smoke the Premier out again.

Let me pursue another line of questioning. The industry renewal boards and joint management is very important. I want to go on record as saying that I support the Premier and the Provincial Government in seeking more say over our fishery and joint management. But Mr. Tobin says you are not getting it, which brings me to the next point.

If there is no industry renewal board, the Federal Government, as I understand it, will proceed to reduce the harvesting capacity by at least 50 per cent - the harvesting capacity - and that will affect plants whether or not a plant reduction program exists or not. If you take out 50 per cent of the harvesting sector it has to impact on your processing sector on shore, I say to the Premier. I want to ask the Premier, is that what he is really hoping for, to force the Federal Government to make tough decisions on the harvesting sector that will then decide what plants close in Newfoundland and Labrador? Is that what he is hoping for?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what motivates the hon. members opposite to try to thwart and twist everything. Mr. Tobin and I have a reasonable understanding on how we can achieve an effective means of providing for development and operation of the fishery of this Province on a reasonable basis in the future that will give it some chance of success. That cannot be achieved by the Federal Government sitting alone and managing or directing its aspect of it and the Province sitting alone and managing its aspect of it. If we are going to renew the fishery of this Province in the future there must be joint -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Tobin did not say that!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I've been meeting with Mr. Tobin, I've been speaking with Mr. Tobin. I spoke with Mr. Tobin as late as yesterday. I do not accept the hon. member's interpretation or representation of what Mr. Tobin said.

He expressed the position that the Federal Government is not at this stage prepared to agree to joint management. That doesn't deter the Province. The Province is determined that in the end we must have joint management if we are to have a satisfactorily managed fishery in the future. And I believe that both the Federal Government and the other provinces will in the end come to realize that, and come to realize - the other provinces, that it is in their own interest to take a similar approach.

Now, if Mr. Tobin says the Federal Government is not prepared to enter into an arrangement of joint management at this time, well I'll talk to Mr. Tobin about that when I see him, but I won't respond to it as though that is precisely what he said until I talk to him directly. I won't do it in the context of the hon. member's representation as to what he said. Now, let there be no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the Government of this Province will not participate in a renewal board that has as its sole objective the down-sizing of the fishery. We simply will not do it and if there are other consequences we will deal with that when they arise.

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

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

I say to the Premier that in light of what he said yesterday in Question Period - that is what, I guess, struck me about what Mr. Tobin said last night, because the Premier left the clear impression here yesterday that he was going to work things out with Mr. Tobin as he pointed to himself, to my satisfaction. That's what he said yesterday. Then, I watched the news last night and heard the answer that Mr. Tobin gave in the scrum, which left no doubt whatsoever that this Province is not getting joint management, I say to the Premier. Now, that's what the man said. You couldn't fool that up or screw it up, I say to him. He was quite categoric about it. He said, `the Federal Government has known the position of the Provincial Government for quite some time and the Provincial Government has known the position of the Federal Government for some time.' Now that's what Mr. Tobin said, which left me to believe that the Premier has known for some time that he ain't getting joint management from Brian Tobin and the Federal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the Provincial Government has 100 per cent responsibility for the processing sector. The refusal of the Province to act within its own area of responsibility has left plant owners and plant workers without any basis to plan their future. They can't do anything until they hear what's going to happen to the fish plant in their community, I say to the Premier, and they've been waiting for that now for about two years. I ask the Premier: Why don't you now get on with the job, stop the struggle you have with the Federal Government and start making decisions so that people in the hundreds of communities out and about our Province can get on with their lives? I ask the Premier, will he now do that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know why the Opposition want to make it impossible for the government to try to achieve something for the people of this Province. Why don't they support the government in its position instead of trying to thwart the effort? If they really genuinely feel there should be joint management, then show it, don't try to stop it from occurring. What is the real objective anyway?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: What is - to cause as much political harm or to help the people of this Province? They made it very clear what the real objective is. People of this Province aren't dumb, Mr. Speaker, they know what the real objective is. Now, Mr. Speaker, we've been dealing for some time now with the issues involved in the size of the harvesting sector, the size of the processing sector. As a matter of fact, I had a very substantial meeting yesterday dealing with just that issue. We were dealing with it before, Cabinet dealt with the issue again today, we're not finished dealing with the issue, we're providing for input by those who have direct involvement in it, that's in the process of taking place. We will meet in the future with the federal Minister of Fisheries and with the officials of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and I have no doubt we'll have discussions for some weeks to come before there's any final resolution as to how we propose to deal with this matter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, it's got to be fairly soon. It can't go on interminably but there's no absolute time frame on it. There's no need for an absolute time frame but, Mr. Speaker, the matter is being dealt with.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Doesn't the minister see major pitfalls associated with his proposal to build a new four-lane Trans-Canada Highway in a trench through the middle of Pasadena - a trench eighteen feet deep at its deepest point below a level community road? Doesn't the minister realize that building a super highway in a deep pit in Western Newfoundland would result in horrendous snow and water problems and unacceptable safety hazards?

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

MR. EFFORD: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister glibly answered, no. The minister, so far has produced no documentation whatsoever indicating that he or his staff have any appreciation of the engineering construction or maintenance challenges or costs associated with his crazy proposal to build a four-lane divided super highway in a trench through the middle of Pasadena. Will the minister table whatever documentation or studies that he has to support his proposal?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to visit Pasadena at a public forum when the hon. Member for Humber East attended that same meeting. I gave about a three, three-and-a-half hour presentation and answered all questions to the people of Pasadena, on the reasons why government was considering the transmission line. One of the reasons why we outlined a southern by-pass road, it would look like a horseshoe going around Pasadena. It would encompass about three kilometres extra for the traffic flowing through, and there would be all sorts of terrain, hills and grades there, that are not conducive with a new highway that we are now building for the future.

We gave all sorts of reasons and one of the reasons although it is not the main reason, it would cost $10 million extra. Now if that is not sufficient reason, those three there are not sufficient to at least look at another route, then I have to question where the Member for Humber East is coming from.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, so the minister is indicating that no plan exists.

A final supplementary for the minister. Will the minister confirm that 100 per cent of the cost of building the new four-lane Trans-Canada Highway in the Humber Valley, from Massey Drive all the way to Deer Lake is coming from the federal government under the Roads for Rails Agreement, that approximately $30 million has already been spent on the work done from Massey Drive to Steady Brook, and that about $70 million of federal money will flow over the next few years for the remaining Humber Valley work? Will the minister also confirm that the provincial government has to pay the full cost of property acquisitions and compensation to property and business owners adversely affected by the highway changes?

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

MR. EFFORD: To answer the last part of the question, yes, the provincial government purchases property. My department and the government are also responsible for building a highway through the Province of Newfoundland and reconstructing what is suitable to the national transportation policy. That is very clear.

The money yes, 100 per cent of the money is coming from the Roads for Rails Agreement, but that is not to say because the money is coming from Ottawa, that we should take that money and spend it irresponsibly. Ten million dollars is a lot of money but that is only one factor; the other factor is that it adds on 2.9 kilometres to the distance and, just take the truckers alone, the wood trucks that travel that distance, the extra cost that would be incurred on a yearly basis, but apart from that the most serious factor of all and the determining factor is the grade on which that southern by-pass would encompass.

The hills and grades, which we had no other choice when building that highway around Corner Brook, the grade that is now being complained about by everybody who is using it, so I say to the hon. member, that we have to make a decision that's in line with the national transportation policy, the shortest possible route from point A to point B, and an highway that is suitable to all the traffic, just not to the people of Pasadena. We have to make the decision in the right context for the future, not just for the political needs of the hon. Member for Humber East as she is trying to make this into, and be very successful in her own district.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations concerning the fire at the Come By Chance oil refinery, which I am told, Mr. Speaker, is the worst fire they have ever had at that facility, being out of control for over two hours.

Mr. Speaker, given that by my information, the fire was in the same area, in the same equipment and started in the same pump as the fire that occurred over Christmas or just before New Year's, I want to ask the minister, what action he has taken since that last fire to upgrade the safety standards and the maintenance procedures at Come By Chance to make sure this type of fire does not happen?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As a result of the previous incident, recommendations that came forward from both the fire commissioner's office and also from the Inspectorate in Occupational Health and Safety, had been enacted by the operators at Come By Chance. The site is visited regularly both in scheduled visitations and unscheduled visitations. There is an on-site occupational health and safety committee which has stepped up its efforts since last fall. That group which represents both the management of the company and the employees at the particular site have been meeting with officials in our department and have put a concerted effort into making sure that, not only things related to the previous fire, but a number of other instances that have been reported and made public as a result of my appearance before the annual meeting of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour last fall, have all been investigated and everyone has given undertakings, and any directives that have been written by the occupational health and safety officers and inspectors with respect to improvements at the site have been followed up on a regular basis, and everybody has expressed an increased concern for some time now with respect to trying to make sure that the only oil refinery operating in Newfoundland and Labrador, the one at Come By Chance, is the safest possible work site that it can be.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the information I have is that there is naphtha gas which tends to be present at lower points of the refinery, in sewers, and what not, and that sparks from this pump caused this fire, Mr. Speaker. Now, the minister, according to the news reports, almost twenty-four hours later was not even aware of the fire, this most serious fire. Can the minister tell the House, why at this stage the fire commissioner and the RCMP appear to be involved in cordoning off the area, and are there any other special circumstances about this fire that the people ought to know about, Mr. Speaker? It seems that if a fire of this nature can occur it is only through luck and the time of day this happened that no one other than one of the fire-fighters was seriously injured. Can the minister tell the House whether or not this particular fire gives rise to specific concern by him, involving the fire commissioner and the RCMP?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, the fact that neither myself nor the Minister of Mines and Energy had been contacted by our officials who are well aware of the fire, were made aware of it shortly after the outbreak of the fire, and were actually on the scene very early Sunday morning, that gave me great assurance because the instructions and procedures and protocol that are in place in our office is that I as the minister only need to be informed if there is some reason for great public concern.

If the public of the Province would have a great concern, or should have a great concern, and if there is something that I as the minister responsible should be informing the public about, then they would have contacted me immediately. The fact that there was no contact made meant that the officials and the appropriate investigating agencies were on the scene and were determining that there was an interim report given in terms of the fire location, what they think may have been the cause, a final report from those agencies which always reported those scenes. When there is a fire the fire commissioner reports at the scene. Somebody goes to the scene of every fire, whether it is at a refinery or at someone's home, and they are the appropriate people to deal with a fire.

The only reason the occupational health and safety branch, and the division is there, is because it is a work site, and they are concerned about there being occupational health and safety issues at that work site that may have been involved in someway in the fire at the site. Any time there is a fire of that magnitude the RCMP are always involved in the investigation to see whether or not someone is going to come forward and suggest that maybe someone may have set the fire, those kind of things, and that there may be some reasons for them to get involved. There is nothing unusual about it. It does not mean that there is a great crisis because these agencies are involved. They are involved as a matter of course because that is part of their responsibility and their duty, and the fact that neither of the ministers were involved gave both of us great assurance that it was in the best possible hands. There is no reason for public concern or a great alert, so therefore we were not notified.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of the Commissioner of Member's Interests, I present the Annual Report dated April 25, 1994, and hereby table it. It is the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Member's Interests dated April 25, 1994, which I received yesterday.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Department Of Works, Services And Transportation Act". (Bill No. 16).

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Aquaculture Act".

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I give notice that I will, on tomorrow, ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS the Government of Canada has allocated funding for The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, TAGS, for fishers and fish plant workers in this Province based on a formula designed to adjust approximately 16,000 people out of the fishery by May 16, 1998, whether or not they are able to find alternate employment; and

WHEREAS the Government of Canada is providing no more funding under The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy over the next five years than they will recoup from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians over the same time period in unemployment insurance benefits reductions over and above what this Province would have lost had the UI reductions been shared among provinces fairly on a per capita basis;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this honourable House condemn the Government of Canada for not allocating sufficient funding under The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy to provide adequately for persons and communities that have depended on the groundfish industry for their economic survival.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to give an answer to a question posed by the hon. Member for Bonavista South a couple of days ago. The question related to whether or not the community custody homes were required to meet building code regulations, and the member specifically referred to fire safety, fire escapes and so on.

I just wanted to point out, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of hon. members, that community custody homes, just as the name implies, are family homes, residential homes. They are not institutional facilities. Therefore, they would not be subject to the standards and regulations of institutionalized facilities.

It is expected, however, that the physical characteristics of these homes comply with the basic municipal standards of other residential homes in the area. Operational smoke detectors are mandatory, and the social worker must inspect the home to assess physical safety standards such as medication being stored in a locked cabinet, and in the interest of fire safety, methods of escape to the outdoors.


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and present a petition on behalf of some forty-eight people, residents of my District of Menihek, who have signed this petition, the prayer of which is -

AN HON. MEMBER: Chapter One.

MR. A. SNOW: Oh, no. It is much further along in the book than that.

AN HON. MEMBER: The same twenty-eight petitioners (inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, it is not the same twenty-eight I had yesterday. It is part of a petition, the prayer of which is:

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to stop immediately the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Health has just suggested, this is part of a petition that I have been presenting for many, many days now, because they keep arriving at my door. They keep arriving in my mail. I have submitted, I suppose, so far, probably in excess of 1,500 or 1,600 names.

The people in my district do have a very heavy concern about the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro because of how it is going to affect them. I believe the privatization will affect them more drastically than any other district in this Province. They are already facing tremendous increases to their hydro rates because of other things that are occurring, Mr. Speaker.

They feel that because of the geography of the area, the climate of the area, we know for sure that we consume by far a per capita usage in excess of 25 per cent to 30 per cent more than any other region of the Province. For many reasons that occurs. One is climate; the other is that as a community we have converted. Most of the residences have been converted to electric heat from oil-fired heat. We have, because of the extended winters and the number of vehicles in the area, they have to be maintained in the winter with block heaters and interior heaters, and thus they consume more. We have as residents in the area a very heavy concern about the tremendous increases that the people in Western Labrador are going to face because of the privatization and other reasons.

Some people on the other side make light of the fact that each day or every three or four days I stand and submit a petition with fifty or sixty names on it. They laugh. The Minister of Health laughs, says: What chapter is this? and: It is so silly, he is up again doing this. He is the same minister of course who is on record in Hansard about three weeks ago saying that the people of Western Labrador should face a 500 per cent increase. That they should pay the same amount that he pays in St. John's Centre.

That is what he says, and that is what he is attempting to convince his Cabinet colleagues, and that is why the people in Western Labrador are very apprehensive. Because they don't want this minister who has mismanaged the health care facilities in their district to have the same influence on what they are going to have to pay for electricity.

They do have a big concern and it is warranted. I would urge that the Cabinet would reconsider and stop this silly notion of privatization until there is more public awareness, until there is more knowledge about the effect that it is going to have, that it is not some whim of the Premier and his colleagues in Cabinet to go out and sell this Crown jewel, this Crown corporation. Because it is going to have drastic affects not only on the people of Western Labrador, of course, but on the whole Province. I would urge them to reconsider and not go ahead with the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a few words. I understand that the hon. member must express his concerns and the concerns of his constituents, but I ask the hon. member to ask his colleague for St. John's East Extern, or ask the Member for Kilbride, or ask hon. members on this side - if we are going to have an electric rate in this Province that is structured to be fair then surely the people in Labrador West must pay the same. Or not always the same, but certainly close to the same, if we are going to have a situation whereby we can look at all our citizens throughout Newfoundland and Labrador and say that the electric power rate is one that is fair to all of us.

The hon. member knows and knows full well that the electric power in Labrador West has been subsidized for -


MR. MURPHY: Well, no, yes and no. It has been subsidized by the people of St. John's, I say to the member. That is who has been subsidizing, and the people from Kilbride, the people from Grand Falls. That is who has been subsidizing the power situation in Labrador West and they have been for years. Now they have to pay their fair share and so they should. The member should be ashamed getting up day after day bringing up the same issue. It is time for the members opposite who represent constituents who are paying the top dollar for electric power rates in this Province to stand up and deny this kind of support of that kind of a petition. We are all in this together, and the member should understand it, and that is the way it should be and must be.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise this afternoon and to support the petition of my colleague from the District of Menihek. What the petitioners are asking for is a right to be informed, a right to participate, a right to their democratic privileges.

Mr. Speaker, we have presented in this House in the past month approximately 100 petitions, representing the voice of literally thousands and thousands of residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, and there has been a consistent theme. The theme has been that people would like to have some say in the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

What we have seen from the government is a consistent response. It says they believe that they have the elected right to make the decisions, and that the concerns of residents for open forums, for discussions, for public hearings, these concerns are not as great as - according to members over there - their right to push through legislation without due consultation.

We have had, instead, a steady parade of ministers, a steady parade by the Premier and the Minister of Mines and Energy, going out and consulting with selected groups, namely, the Chambers of Commerce, and some of the district associations. On the weekend, I happened to be in Central Newfoundland and there was a district association that had, I guess, a dinner in Bishop's Falls, and I am sure that there were a fair number of people there who said to hon. members that privatization was a good idea. Mr. Speaker, that's response from a group of people whose input is, I am sure, valuable, but it doesn't always reflect the totality of the viewpoints of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, the member's petition, and I would say that is approximately the one hundredth petition that has been presented in this House representing, as I said, thousands of people in this Province. What they are saying is: Consult with us. Come out and have a public meeting.

I commend all hon. members on the opposite side who have had public meetings. What the people are saying is, provide us with the appropriate forum. They are saying that they don't want to have Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro privatized without the due process that is followed in all of the legislation that we have been passing in recent times, where you have a Legislation Review Committee, where you have public hearings.

Mr. Speaker, people are concerned about the increase in cost. Every day in our offices, we are getting calls from constituents who are adamantly opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. What the Premier and his Cabinet are hoping is that in the next few weeks, after they have had their parade around the Province, and after they have gone and talked with the Chambers of Commerce and talked to their Liberal district associations, that they can then do the appropriate poll, the appropriate public opinion poll, and somehow it will show that there has been a big change of heart.

What we are hearing in our offices is that there is no change of heart. As a matter of fact, the viewpoints of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are remaining very consistent. There were 80 per cent opposed to the privatization a month ago. There are 80 per cent opposed to the privatization now.

The Premier's public relations campaign at taxpayers' expense is an absolute failure. It is not convincing anybody in this Province to change their minds. In fact, it is having the opposite effect, and one can only surmise from the calls that we are getting in our offices that if we were to have another opinion poll done today, that indeed, more and more people are opposed to the privatization as the days and the weeks go by.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is about time the government realized that there is a significant distrust -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HODDER: - of the government on this particular issue. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: It is my pleasure today to introduce a petition from 313 people from my constituency, particularly in the Domino - Black Tickle area of Labrador, Mr. Speaker. The petition says:

`WHEREAS the community of Black Tickle is adjacent to the Northern shrimp stock and turbot and;

WHEREAS this community is solely dependent upon Northern cod; and

WHEREAS the plant can accommodate shrimp or turbot and keep this plant and community secure;

WHEREFORE the undersigned, your petitioners humbly prayer and call upon the House of Assembly to support the accessing of these resources for this area of Labrador.'

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out a number of things to the House and to hon. members, to tell exactly where we are coming from on this particular petition and why it's so important. Mr. Speaker, hon. members might not know, but along the Coast of Labrador, right now, is taking place a $75 million shrimp industry - $75 million, Mr. Speaker, on the Coast of Labrador reaching down to the St. Anthony basin. The people of this Province, including the royalties in jobs, probably get about $10 - $15 million from this tremendous industry.

Over in Greenland, Mr. Speaker, which is just on the other side of that imaginary line that separates the Baffin Island and Labrador which is the 200-mile limit - in Greenland right now, which is even north of the parallel of Cape Chidley, eight inshore shrimp processing plants operate from eight, ten to twelve months each year. So we know that there is tremendous potential for an inshore shrimp fishery along the Coast of Labrador similar to what they have in Greenland. It's the same shrimp, it's the same stock and the latest scientific evidence shows that the stock can take an increase of 3,300 tons in the area of 4 and 5 which reaches from Hopedale channel down to St. Anthony basin.

Mr. Speaker, what I am saying and what I have asked the Minister of Fisheries in Ottawa to do is to not allocate that 3,300 tons this year because there is a pressure from the seventeen existing offshore shrimp holders to have that 3,300 tons allocated to the existing offshore shrimp holders, and I think that that would be wrong. I want to see them keep that quota of 34,000 tons there now as it is, and we would then have a year or so to assess the harvesting ability of the smaller boats, the sixty-five foot in particular, similar to what they use now in the Gulf shrimp fishery. We would have a chance to experiment with it and see if we can't harvest the shrimp on a cost effective basis, and I certainly believe we can. Then, we would go through a process of individual transferable quotas, somewhere around 200 tons each for say, ten licenses, and we would then have a very, very efficient well-managed shrimp fishery similar to what we have in the crab which has meant greater economic salvation to the community of Cartwright than anything has in twenty-five years. That's the kind of process that I would like to see this issue go through, Mr. Speaker, and also the turbot fishery.

The turbot fishery is also off Labrador and out here on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. Many people in this Province don't know that last year 150 million pounds of turbot, 150 million pounds, 8,000 jobs are out there floating on the sea. I know the member opposite will say, `Well, why are they still out there?' I have to say to him, I don't think they should be still out there. I think something has to be done. I think that the Minister of Fisheries in Ottawa now has to put in the legislation, not only on the flags of convenience vessels but something in the legislation to protect that stock, protect those vessels, the Canadian vessels that are going out there and also to make sure that we have this species regulated - regulated and put in the charge of Canada, not in the charge of NAFO, because we know that's just a ridiculous, useless organization and it's time we said that and made our views quite clear.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have tremendous resources around our Province and around our communities that can keep communities alive. I think that if there's one example that we should use - and I'm using it here today - as to why we cannot do what the critic opposite for fisheries has just said, about half-an-hour ago, Mr. Speaker, we cannot now go and cut these plants out, cut them loose now. We can't go and close them down and take their licenses away without giving them a fair shot, without looking at it in an holistic manner, without taking a total picture putting all these resources on the table and assessing then where places in the Province can be kept alive through some of these other species.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. DUMARESQUE: That's the -

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He can finish up.


MR. DUMARESQUE: I just want one minute, Mr. Speaker, and I thank hon. members.

This is a very serious issue. It means the lifeblood of any number of communities in this Province, it is one that I have dedicated all my life to, and I hope that other members will understand what we are coming to now, that we are on our knees.

We have to look at these other species, they are there, we can do it, so give the process a bit of time and give us the tools, all the tools, not just the one to say to cut out their licenses and forget about the communities when we are only going to protect it for other people. Because 40 per cent of our adjacent fisheries outside of cod, have been taken by Nova Scotia domestically, and about 70 per cent of our offshore outside of cod have been taken by the foreigners, so we have potential there, we have to have the process put in place and I do believe, Mr. Speaker, that many of these communities will have economic salvation if we can approach it in this way.

I hope hon. members will note that this is an example of how we should be going in the future and I enlist the support of all hon. members on this particular issue and others that would be in the same situation throughout this Province.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly understand the concern of the hon. gentleman. I have been to the Black Tickle plant on many occasions and I have talked to people there and I can fully appreciate the need for added activity in the area.

With respect to the turbot, Mr. Speaker, there is a sizeable quota of turbot in that area. For example, and I have some figures here: In the area 2Gh and 2J and that's in the general area, I presume, for licensed groundfish holders there is a competitive quota there of 4,900 metric tons. For other licensed holders, there is a competitive quota of 3,000 metric tons and in the same area, there is a 995 metric ton quota for all vessels under 100 feet in length, so there is a total of 8,000 metric tons of turbot available in the area.

Now, I realize that's an oversimplification, maybe, of what the situation is, because I understand the plant in Black Tickle is finding it difficult to be able to acquire the vessels necessary to harvest that quota; nevertheless, the quota, itself is available. There is also a developmental quota; there is 3,555 metric tons in the 2Gh area and we are supporting the efforts of the Black Tickle plant to try to access some of that developmental quota.

In the area known as O, zero, north of Cape Chidley, there is another competitive quota and also for the nine groundfish holders, there is a total there about 6,500 metric tons. So there is turbot available, Mr. Speaker, but the question is, how do we get it to them, and that is something we have to work on. With respect to shrimp, the shrimp quotas have increased, I am told, and we certainly support the request of the operators of the Black Tickle plant in their efforts to access some of that shrimp.

We have had discussions with one of the principals of the Dawe Company, the operators and owners of the plant H. B. Dawe; Phillip Hillier, I believe, is the Managing Director, or certainly holds a senior position with that company. In fact, no later than yesterday morning I had a long meeting with Phillip, Mr. Hillier; we talked about this and other matters and there is no doubt about it, Mr. Speaker, that that plant should have access to that shrimp quota. There are too few jobs generated from the shrimp that is being harvested in that area, Mr. Speaker, and we have to take whatever steps we can, as a government, working with our federal counterparts, to ensure that more of that shrimp is landed in the Province, in this case, in Labrador, thereby providing badly needed employment. We have encouraged Mr. Hillier to go after that shrimp and we have suggested to him that he should give some serious thought to using Newfoundland inshore vessels for its harvesting.

I guess, to sum up, we support this petition. We can understand the need for it. We support it, we have done so, we will continue to do so. We will support their efforts to get access to turbot; we will support their efforts to get access to shrimp. I believe that if they can succeed in that then the future of the Black Tickle area will be greatly enhanced. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader and Member for Grand Bank.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to speak to the petition presented by the Member for Eagle River, and spoken to by the Minister of Fisheries.

I have to say at the outset that the petition really is a federal - it should be presented I guess in the House of Commons to his good friend and colleague, Mr. Tobin. But I would say after yesterday and the next twenty-four hours or so there might not be any discussions between the Province and Mr. Tobin. I just say to the member on a serious note -

MR. MURPHY: You wish.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, it is coming about. There won't be two weeks and there will be a public spat, I say to the Member for St. John's South. There is going to be a big blow-up between the Premier and the federal Minister of Fisheries - a big blow-up, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say to the Member for Eagle River that I understand what he has done there. He has solicited the support of the Minister of Fisheries, provincial, and the government in trying to access resource for his constituents in Black Tickle and area, which is laudable. I applaud that. I think we have to do more of that. Adjacency is very important to all of us, not only the shrimp off Labrador; the scallops off the South Coast of the Province in 3PS, in the French zone, are very important to the town of Grand Bank, the same way as the shrimp is important to those in Black Tickle, I say to him. We can all identify with resource that is adjacent that we need to create employment in our communities.

It is a very important point. Because if we are going to restructure the fishery and if we are going to have a fishery of the future, then decisions should be made accordingly, considering the resource, considering the location of the fish plants. That is why I think it is so vitally important that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador make the decisions about the processing plants in the fishery of the future, not leave it to someone else who doesn't know about Black Tickle the way the Member for Eagle River does, or as does the Minister of Fisheries. Let us decide. We know the resource, we know the geographics, we know the people and their skills - let us decide. Because there have to be decisions made. No one is arguing that. But let us make the decisions. Right now we have 100 per cent control over the management of our processing sector. Let's not give that away to somebody else.

I thought the Member for Eagle River was going to expand and expound on his idea when he talked about the potential for shrimp and turbot and other things in Black Tickle.

MR. SIMMS: Adjacency.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Adjacency. I thought that the next thing he was going to tell us, Mr. Speaker, was that he was going to get involved with H. B. Dawe and that he was going to help transport the fish to Quebec markets - that when he takes back his rent-a-car, which will now soon become a `rent-a-tractor-trailer,' when he takes that back to Quebec to turn it in, that he could take a load of shrimp or turbot from the company with him.

MR. SIMMS: Make it a paying trip.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A paying trip - cut down on overhead for the Black Tickle plant, get a few air points for the member, himself, for when he wants to fly to Ottawa or across the country, and reduce the overhead in the plant. Because certainly, he could transport the finished product to Quebec when he is taking back his rented vehicle, more cheaply than if a company would have to hire someone else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I think the member should take it a little bit further and get really involved with the company to help the company, but as well to help himself.

I am sure the Member for Eagle River intends to send out, in presenting the petition, the remarks by the Minister of Fisheries and myself, to his constituents. I am sure he is going to household his district, so I ask him to include that in his remarks.

On a serious note, what the people in Black Tickle and area want to do is what people in hundreds of communities in Newfoundland and Labrador want to do, and if we are going to keep this Province together, if we are going to keep it together, keep our people in the communities, keep them employed, keep our provincial economy going, then we are going to have to do all around this Province what the member and the people of Black Tickle are proposing. If we are going to keep this place together, we are going to have to take initiatives such as that and let those who are adjacent to the resource, who can process it to create jobs, who have markets where they can get a good return on the finished product -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Exactly. I note the member's remarks about the turbot. It is one of great concern. I also note his remarks about those out there catching it still that shouldn't be there. I hope it is soon dealt with. It has taken too long already, by the former federal government and now by the present federal government, who made an election campaign that in ninety days they would have the issue resolved, which they still don't.

Having said that, I would be dishonest if I did not note that it is a very complex issue that has to be dealt with in international waters. I just hope that the present Minister of Fisheries, the Prime Minister, and the federal government, has the resolve to settle this very important issue for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, because without the foreigners out there off the banks, out of it totally, then our future indeed looks bleak.

I support the petition presented by the Member for Eagle River, and I wish him and the people of Black Tickle luck in what they are trying to accomplish here, because all of our communities have similar opportunities, but they are going to need the cooperation of the provincial government and the federal government and the people in the communities in order to access the resource to our benefit. I conclude my remarks by saying that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I know members are anxious to get their noses back to the grindstone, figuratively at least, so I accordingly move, pursuant to Standing Orders, that the Orders of the Day now be read.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 4, second reading of the Electrical Power Control Act.

My friend from St. John's South was enlightening and entertaining us and still has, I believe, ten or twelve minutes left, so I have no doubt he can entertain us even more and enlighten us still further.

MR. SPEAKER: Continued debate on second reading of a bill, Bill No. 2.

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

MR. MURPHY: Second reading. I thought we were...

Just a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I thought we were - on a point of order, a question. I thought we were dealing with the amendment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, the Speaker didn't say that.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am glad you cleared that up, Sir, and I appreciate it, Your Honour.

You know, I suppose if you look at what the Member for St. John's East is doing here, or you try to consider what he is trying to do, or he should consider, is obviously to take this very sound, very logical, very protective of the people of the Province, and take it and put it on the back burner for six months. I find great difficulty with this.

What the member should do, of course, as the Premier already said, if he feels there is anything within the legislation that needs to be addressed, then obviously what we should do is let the bill go to committee and debate the bill and change and/or amend some of the clauses in the bill; but to stand up in his place and suggest that this bill, this whole bill, be put on the back burner for six months is a terrible, terrible injustice to the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I would suggest to the Member for St. John's East that probably he should do the right thing and get up and withdraw his motion, withdraw it, and let us get on with the bill, and let us get on with it clause by clause. After all just today the Leader of the Opposition stood in his place and tried again to make some political points on Abitibi-Price and Kruger.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fearmongering.

MR. MURPHY: Fearmongering. And how they are going to be impacted and affected by this piece of legislation. Well, I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that probably there may not even be a need to put the emergency section in there, because knowing that Kruger and Abitibi-Price over the years have been good corporate citizens, and if something should happen in Bay d'Espoir, if Bay d'Espoir should go down or another of the major hydro generating stations, or Holyrood should go down and the grid could get in trouble to light the hospitals or what have you, then Abitibi and Kruger would gladly give up their power, even shut down their plants, I would suggest to give power to hospitals, schools, and the like. But, no, no, that is not the issue. It was explained to the Leader of the Opposition that Section 8, reference in Section 2 - and I think it is time, Mr. Speaker, that all hon. members who give any credence to this bill, because this bill in reality, what this bill does, is it opens the door again for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to access Labrador generated power.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you believe that?

MR. MURPHY: I certainly believe it, I say to the Member for Ferryland. I more than believe it. If members opposite really want to do something what they should do is come out publicly. The terrible media that the people of this Province have been subject to over the last three or four days - we have heard from Mr. Lynch, the journalist who is a great friend, a close friend of the previous Prime Minister. This is why they do not stand in their place and criticize him. He is a great friend of the hon. Brian Mulroney. He attacked Newfoundland again. He took Newfoundland and said Newfoundland is living off the backs of the rest of Canada, unbelievable. This is a Tory supporter, so I am not surprised that this good progressive, aggressive, piece of legislation is being stymied again by the Member for St. John's East, and by his friends, how the socialist in this House of Assembly and the Conservatives in this House of Assembly can tie themselves together to slow down what I feel, and my colleagues feel, is a very progressive piece of legislation.

As a matter of fact it stands alone and what previous administrations have done over the years, what they have done, is brought in absolutely nothing. They sat in this House and debated an issue which cost the people of this Province, some eight or ten years ago when it ended in the Supreme Court, and this piece of legislation will unravel for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians an opportunity to have an access power that is generated in our Province back to the Island portion of our Province and to be used also in Labrador.

That kind of ability will give the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology a tremendous opportunity to go to the marketplaces of the world and tell those people out there that are interested in Newfoundland: look, you are coming to a Province that has the best tax relief in North America. You have a tremendous access to power, to low-price generated power, and I think it is time that all hon. members realized that. I'm not saying that this piece of legislation clause by clause is entirely correct. What we've seen on another piece of legislation, we've seen it in Committee, been amended already. We've seen Bill No. 1 been amended already, where as we got into Committee and we've seen it been amended. That is what we should be doing with this particular bill.

But the motives of members opposite are not to help the people of this Province, obviously. What their motives are - it is political stymie that is what it is. To stymie the debate on behalf of the people. That is why we are here. That is why fifty-two hon. members are here, to represent the people of this Province. We should get on with this bill. With this government we have an opportunity to come to the House of Assembly and debate the bills and debate the issues.

I want to remind the hon. members opposite, if you look at the time that the House of Assembly was open in their administration, it simply doesn't come close -


MR. MURPHY: Doesn't come close, I say to the member, to what this House has been open in the last five years. There was no - members opposite cry, and the Member for Green Bay was up yesterday crying about this bill. I reminded him about the BRINCO mistake that Mr. Crosbie made, I reminded him about the mistake that the Moores administration made with the wastage of hundreds of millions of dollars -


MR. MURPHY: I say to the Member for Ferryland that quite a few of his constituents did extremely well on the Upper Churchill for the twelve years during construction.

Mr. Speaker, what do we see today? We see the mainland media, we see international media, attacking the seal fishery. Attacking the people of Newfoundland, attacking the package. The very supporters, the very people who supported Mulroney, the very -


MR. MURPHY: Charlie Lynch. He was on last night with Rex Murphy. I'm sure the hon. member - if he watched Mr. Tobin he watched Mr. Murphy interview Charles Lynch last night. A great friend of the previous Prime Minister, `When Irish Eyes Are Smiling' Brian.


MR. MURPHY: That is right, exactly.


MR. MURPHY: No, that is a fact. He is gone, but Mr. Lynch has not gone, nor has his poison pen gone, I say to the member.

AN HON. MEMBER: Lynch Lynch.

MR. MURPHY: Yes, `lynch Lynch,' that is a good slogan. No, terrible. Then we saw that tabloid issue yesterday. I'm surprised that the hon. Member for Grand Bank as the fisheries critic, not a word, not a peep out of him, not a squeak out of him.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: About what?

MR. MURPHY: That tabloid issue yesterday. A total 100 per cent incorrect. So if we are in this House to represent the people of the Province let's get on with this bill. This is a good bill, it is a good, honest piece of legislation that will help the people of this Province, help the Minister of ITT to get out there and sell this Province. Get out there and tell the industry throughout the world that Newfoundland is the place to be.

We are seeing all kinds of good things. We are seeing a laminated, now, hopefully, very hopefully. We are going to have a lumber process of high-priced lamination that will afford my friend in Eagle River and his constituent's employment, some 300, and people on the Northern Peninsula. These are the kinds of things that interest those with money, those with money in the East, in the Far East, and those with money in South Africa, who are now coming to Newfoundland day after day, meeting with the minister, meeting with the Premier, meeting with other ministers, to try and get a good sense of why they should do business here.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that it is incumbent on members opposite to get on with this legislation and for the Member for St. John's East to withdraw his silly motion. Let's get on in the Committee with this bill and get this bill over and done. Because it is a good piece of legislation for the people of this Province. I suggest that to the Member for St. John's East and I look forward to that happening within the next day or so. Thank you very much.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak to this legislation today, but I have to say that it is very difficult to deal with the Water Reversion Act without running over into the Hydro Privatization Act as well; the two are so closely linked together. One of course, is necessitated by the other I think, and certainly it is very, very difficult to deal with one piece of legislation without referring to the other piece of legislation and the factors pertaining to it as well. Nevertheless, I do want to address primarily, the Water Reversion Act and some of the implications of some of the clauses in it. Let me say first of all that a great deal of what's in this act I don't have a problem with and I think my colleagues will agree that there is a lot of good stuff in this particular piece of legislation strictly dealing with emergency access to power. I think we are long overdue in having that kind of legislation in place which will give government, in this case through the Public Utilities Board, the right to allocate power in the event of an emergency.

There are a number of things in the bill, Mr. Speaker, that -

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

I hate to interrupt the hon. member's speech but the level of private conversations that are happening in the House I am having difficulty with, the hon. member is only about five feet away from me and I am having difficulty hearing what the hon. member has to say. I know this has been a practise in this House that, not only are people not sitting in their chairs and speaking, but we have little groups going on, little meetings standing up; it is very difficult for the Chair to recognize people to speak when there are half-a-dozen people standing at the same time, so I suggest to hon. members that if they want to hold conferences or meetings that they should go outside the Chamber.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for that very excellent ruling. This is indicative of the level of interest of hon. members opposite in what's being said by the Opposition and more importantly about the people of this Province. It shows how much attention they are paying to what's taking place in this Province and the amount of opposition that is not rising but already in place, against the privatization of Hydro.

But to get back to the Electrical Power Resources Act, Mr. Speaker, Part 1, clause 3 subsection (iv), deals with elimination of subsidies under the Power Distribution Districts, that is something that we have not talked about a great deal in this debate, Mr. Speaker, but it certainly will mean additional costs. What it does is provide relief for industrial customers basically. It separates industrial customers from residential customers and basically says that the cost of power to domestic consumers, residential consumers shall be considered as one aspect and industrial power rates shall be totally separate, whereas, where today, we basically have a blended rate, now, what we are saying is that any losses in rural areas of the Province will be borne by all residential customers with no contribution from industrial customers. I don't know if we have been given figures, exactly what that cost will be to domestic customers, but clearly it's a break for industrial consumers and it's an additional cost that will accrue to residential consumers in this Province.

I haven't seen any numbers yet to tell me exactly what that cross subsidy has been in the past, and what impact that will have but it ties in with the $30 million subsidy that the Province was putting in.

AN HON. MEMBER: $5 million.

MR. WINDSOR: Five million? I thank the Minister of Mines and Energy for that, Mr. Speaker. He is telling us it is about $5 million, so that is $5 million more that residential customers will have to bear; not that large amount in the overall scheme of things but nevertheless, it is another percentage that residential consumers will have to pick up and it is a break for industry; and we have to wonder why government is anxious to give a break to industry.

Obviously, for industrial development purposes, to keep industrial rates as low as possible is certainly a valid objective but, if that were a prime concern of this government one would have to question why is this government considering selling Hydro and losing control to a very large measure over electrical power rates to consumers, losing the ability except by direct subsidy to a private company, losing the ability to use electrical power rates as an industrial incentive, as a development tool in attracting energy-intensive industries particularly, to locate into this Province and to create economic development and to create jobs, so you know, there is that aspect that I think needs to be looked at in this particular case as well and it causes some concern to domestic consumers I am sure.

The bill basically from a policy point of view talks about the most efficient form of production, equitable access to an adequate supply of power, lowest possible cost consistent with reliable service. All motherhood statements, Mr. Speaker, which I don't think anybody can have any difficulty with.

Then we get to the section that has been discussed in the last few days at some length. Part I, section 3(b)(iv) says: "[T]hat would result in a producer having priority to consume the power it prices, subject to Part III, and (v) where the objectives set out in subparagraphs (i) and (iv) can be achieved through alternative sources of power, with the least possible interference with existing contracts...."

I suppose lawyers will spend a lot of time arguing back and forth over what that means and I've heard the Leader of the Opposition and the Premier arguing over it in the last couple of days. I would suggest to this hon. House that there is sufficient uncertainty in that wording to cause some concern as to exactly what the interpretation of that might be. The producer "...having priority to consume the power it produces...." The Premier says: Well, that means that, for example, the two paper mills have priority to consume what they produce except in an emergency, he told the House yesterday. That is fine, I can accept that. I don't have problem if that indeed is the case.

But it says "...subject to Part II...." When I look at Part II, subsection 8(2), where it says: "Where, after the conduct of an inquiry," - referred to in preceding sections of this part - "the public utilities board is satisfied that a producer or a retailer is not or will not be able under the existing supply and allocation contracts or arrangements to satisfy the current or anticipated demands of its customers for power in the manner required by this Act, the public utilities board may, subject to subsection 11(3), allocate and re-allocate any or all power produced in the province...."

Any or all power produced in the Province. Remembering that this priority to consume power it produces is subject to Part III, this being Part III says the board has the right to allocate or re-allocate any and all power. That is aimed undoubtedly at the Upper Churchill contract. I will deal with that in due course. I would suggest as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested that it at least puts into question the security of supply and security of the right of Abitibi and Kruger, for example, to utilize the power resources that they have.

I don't think for a moment that it is intended that that would ever happen, but I've seen many things that have happened, in courts of law particularly, that were never intended by Legislatures to happen, but are interpreted by courts of laws, when challenged by one party against another, are interpreted in a manner that is totally inconsistent with the spirit and intent of the legislation. What I've just said is that I don't have a great amount of confidence in our courts of law to use good, sound, common sense.

We sit here not as legal minds but as laymen, as representatives of the people, passing legislation which we feel in all honesty, on both sides of the House, is in the best interest of the people of the Province, and is the sort of legislation that the people of the Province want us to put through this House of Assembly. I don't always see that in fact being interpreted as we wanted it to in courts of law. Obviously we have the power to come back and to change and to revise, but sometimes that takes a long time and sometimes it is too late and the deed is done.

I do have some concerns here. Even though the intent of this Legislature, and the intent of government, may not at all be to weaken any rights of Abitibi or Kruger to access to the power that they are producing, but in fact, in my humble, unlearned opinion -

AN HON. MEMBER: I never thought of you as being humble.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, I try to be humble, but I'm not perfect either. Sometimes I do fail. I'm certainly unlearned in law although I'm learning quickly, from experience.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: In some laws, as says my friend the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, to our detriment, I say. I suggest hon. gentlemen not get me on my favourite topic today, as my time will soon expire and I find myself in great jeopardy when I next visit that great place of judgement - which is coming very close, I might say to my friend.

I do have some serious concerns here, Mr. Speaker, in all honesty and all sincerity. I make light of it, but this is a serious matter that I think could be a matter for question, and I would certainly suggest to the paper companies - they are certainly large corporations quite able to look after their own affairs, but I think it is sufficient that it be brought to their attention - that they look at that and have their legal advisers look at that, and if they have any concern, bring it to the attention of the members of the House very quickly.

Part II starts out quite innocuously enough, I suppose. One thinks, well, this is all good stuff, power allocation and reallocation, and the planning of facilities. Subsection 1 says: The Public Utilities Board has the authority and the responsibility to ensure that adequate planning occurs for the future production, transmission and distribution of power in the Province. It sounds good. I don't think we have any problem with that; but then we stop - wait now. Planning - responsibility for planning. Whatever happened to the minister? We have just given all of the power and authority and responsibility of the Minister of Mines and Energy to the Public Utilities Board.

Now when you take that one step further and say that arm in arm and hand in hand with this goes the privatization of Hydro - and this is one concern that has not been, in my view, put forward strongly enough in this House during this debate - is that over the years not only have we invested tens of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, we have a huge investment in human resources in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. There is some tremendous expertise there, not only in hydro generation and distribution, but legal expertise in negotiations, negotiations with Quebec, the appeals to the Supreme Court, and several cases that have gone through before us. I won't go back over those, we are all familiar with them, but during the course of spending millions of dollars on legal work that we did, we have some key people at Hydro who gained tremendous experience, a form of technology transfer. They, in fact, are probably some of the most experienced minds and some of the greatest expertise available in Canada on these particular issues.

The question then that remains is: If the minister no longer has, in the Department of Mines and Energy, the kind of expertise necessary for planning, for the future requirements of production and transmission and distribution of power in the Province, and if our great legal minds and our engineering minds from Newfoundland Hydro are gone to a new corporation, and if and when this government, or some future government, finally returns to negotiations with Quebec on developing the Lower Churchill, where then will we call on our expertise? Where will we find it available? No longer will it be available in the minister's office or in a Crown corporation known as Newfoundland Hydro.

Now the minister will tell me: Well, CF(L)Co still will exist. Indeed it will, but CF(L)Co is a different type of character altogether. It's a Newfoundland/Quebec corporation designed to control and operate the present facilities at Upper Churchill. They are there to run a production and transmission facility. They are not there to develop resources. They are not there to plan requirements of the Province. They are not tied in with the industrial development objectives of this Province, and the government that represents us from time to time. That is not their role or mandate or concern; nor do they have the expertise; nor will they have the expertise; nor do they want to have that expertise. It has to remain within the Province, but how can we justify it?

We talk now about reducing costs by a privatization or an amalgamation, and indeed I will concede that there would possibly be some reduction in cost simply because these types of key personnel would now be serving both the private corporation and the former Crown corporation, but I suspect we will lose a lot of them, or there will be redundancies. There is some very small benefit from that, but an insignificant amount of benefit, I suggest, a very small amount.

What we are talking about here is that no longer will we have within government the personnel that can properly advise government, who are on government's payroll. So what do we do? Do we again hire consultants? Where do you find consultants to deal with that? You can find great legal advisors, I guess you can find engineers, but you can't put together the team of people that we presently have at Hydro. They will be gone with new Hydro. So now are we going to hire new Hydro to do the negotiating for us? Who are we going to have to do that? I think that's something that needs to be looked at very, very carefully here, Mr. Speaker.

It gets into the question of developing the Lower Churchill and what importance is this government putting on it. I have to say that I was really, really amazed when we discovered not too long ago that the proposal had come forward from Quebec and had been rejected by this government. I find that amazing, because I know in 1988 when I had responsibility for these negotiations we were making great progress. As the minister will know, we were well along the road.

In fact, I was just reading over the records of a meeting that I held in Montreal with Mr. Ciaccia the former Minister of Energy for Quebec, held on July 12, 1988. There were subsequent meetings after that that I have the records of, as well. We had some great progress on developing the Lower Churchill and on getting access to Upper Churchill power. We had broken down one of the great barriers between the two governments, that being that Newfoundland was not prepared to enter into any negotiations or any contract that did not include a renegotiation of the Upper Churchill contract.

Quebec, for its own part - and quite understandably, since they gain about $750 or $800 million a year clear profit from the sale of power generated in Churchill Falls - obviously, politically, could not sell to their constituents. Any negotiation of a contract that clearly opened that contract which had been won in many court battles - they had fought, they had spent tens of millions of dollars defending their rights to that contract in courts and they, being successful, why would they, indeed, voluntarily then, agree to re-open the Upper Churchill contract? So that was always the great standoff. That was always the stalemate that we had. But in those meetings in Montreal, we finally reached, I guess, a consensus that said we will not re-open the contract, that Newfoundland would gain access to power at Upper Churchill rates, and that's the key thing.

I recall saying, and these minutes, in fact, here quote me quite accurately as saying, `Mr. Windsor says he doesn't care where the power comes from as long as it is at Upper Churchill rate.' Why would we indeed take power from Upper Churchill, bring it down to Goose Bay and then to the Island and take power generated at Gull Island and ship it in the opposite direction to the markets? Obviously, you wouldn't do that. It all goes into the grid. So it doesn't matter where the power is generated. It's all going into the system. But the point was that we would have access to a block of power at the very cheap rate of 3 mils. That was the basis on which those negotiations started. And Quebec, on the other hand, said: `We have to be able to go back and say we're not renegotiating the Upper Churchill contract.' In other words, we were gaining access of our power from Upper Churchill by basically a contract dealing with the whole resources of the Churchill River - by developing Gull Island and Muskrat Falls by some concessions on the five rivers that flow from Labrador through the North Shore of Quebec. That's off the table, but it's always there as an aside.

In fact, in that meeting on July 12, 1988, it was agreed that we should try to deal with those five rivers. They're down the road, let's not complicate it. It was no urgency. Quebec had all of the James Bay development so they had large supplies more economical then those smaller rivers.

AN HON. MEMBER: Deal with them later.

MR. WINDSOR: Deal with them later. But it was an item of discussion, and that was something that was traded off, that there was an understanding that in due course, Newfoundland would not stop Quebec from developing those rivers, and that we would negotiate a share of the benefits of it for the right of having that water flow through to Quebec so they could develop it.

So there was a quid pro quo, but the bottom line was that we were accessing power at Upper Churchill rates; Quebec was not re-opening the contract. So they did not re-open their contract, but we got the same benefits as if we had. That was the deal, and that was pretty much what the minister had on the table from Quebec - very few changes from that position. We refined it subsequent to that, little bits and pieces, who went here and who went there, and all the rest of it, but that was pretty much what came down. I am simply amazed that the government walked away from it. I suspect there is a reason that we are not being told, because it is too good to be true.

The Government of Quebec, through Quebec Hydro, had agreed to purchase all of the output of Gull Island and Muskrat Falls - all of it. Now, that was something that we could not do on our own, sell that hydroelectric energy, because we couldn't get it to market. We couldn't get it to market unless the Government of Canada were prepared to take some unilateral action and give Newfoundland a corridor through Quebec, as they have in the case of gas pipelines and oil pipelines in Western Canada, and even the Conservative government of the day were hesitant to do that.

In looking at the political realities and the political strength of Quebec, one can understand why it would be a very difficult thing for the Government of Canada to do, but it is one of the greatest injustices that I have been associated with in my eighteen years in this House, in that Newfoundland has not been given the same rights of interprovincial transportation of energy as other provinces of Canada have had, and as a result, we have been allowed to be held up to ransom by Quebec Hydro and the Government of Quebec, at a cost of $750 million a year.

Now, when you think about that, we are here dealing with a piece of legislation that the government and the Premier stood up and said: This is the greatest thing I can do for Newfoundland. We will knock $300 million debt off the table, and we will have about $25 million a year in revenue. What a great thing!

One year of revenue from Upper Churchill would have more than done it. It would have given you the benefits of the next six years of this proposal - if you accept those numbers, which we don't. I will get into that in another forum. I don't want to go into those details at the moment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: One year. If we, for one year, had the $750 million that Hydro Quebec makes on the sale of the Upper Churchill power, there goes your $300 million or $400 million equity that you are going to take out of the sale of Hydro, and there goes the $25 million a year for six years, which is $150 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: I am sorry. I can't hear you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Because equalization kicks in, yes, but there is a year delay on that, too. There is a dampening on that one.

Mr. Speaker, the point I am making is what a huge deal that was. The benefits, I would assume, of that, would be in the magnitude of $50 million a year, because it gave us immediate access to some Upper Churchill power - immediate access - either to the power or to the profits that were being made on it. I would suggest that this year alone, this Province would have benefitted to the tune of $50 million, let alone if construction were starting in 1994, which it well could have. The huge benefits of the investment of all of those billions of dollars in Newfoundland, and the jobs that were created in economic development, but we are talking about $50 million a year in direct revenues, starting in 1994.

Here the Minister of Finance is wringing his hands, and he is about to set up the battle lines with every major union in this Province to save $50 million. How does this government justify walking away from that deal that would have given them, in the short term, $50 million, and in the long term, hundreds of millions of dollars?

AN HON. MEMBER: There was no deal.

MR. WINDSOR: There was no deal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Very close. Well, we are led to believe that it could have been there. I would like to know what stopped the deal from going through.

MR. BAKER: They didn't need the power.

MR. WINDSOR: They didn't need the power. I will say to you, Quebec could use the power. They tried that bluff on me at a conference that we had in Connecticut, I think it was, at one time - no, Minnesota.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

MR. BAKER: That is that Eastern Governors (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: It was not the Eastern premiers conference, it was an energy conference called by a subcommittee of the U.S. Congress or the Senate. Again, John Ciaccia was there and I was there. I spoke to them.

It was very clear that the market was there and that power from the Lower Churchill could be delivered to that market more cheaply than power from the next phases of James Bay. The first phase then was on market and, in fact, was sold - at least bargained for. It may not have been finally finished. Construction wasn't finished but the market had been acquired and the deal had been done and that power was sold. But the next phases were more expensive than Lower Churchill power. The difference that was being made, the difference in it, was that by taking Lower Churchill power and having to give up some of the extremely cheap power in Upper Churchill, that you were watering down those benefits, so that the overall cost then came more closely aligned with the cost of producing James Bay.

Mr. Speaker, there was indeed the basis of a deal there. I would like to know - the Minister of Finance says that there wasn't a deal, they were very, very close. We were very, very close, we were there in principle in 1988. There was an agreement in principle basically. This is the framework, and it was simply a matter of putting meat on the bones in 1988. I don't know what went wrong in the ensuing couple of years, nor what took so long. I know Quebec tends to drag its feet. They are not in any hurry. It wasn't in their best interest to hurry and to lose revenues from Upper Churchill. They weren't in a great hurry to get the Lower Churchill. But they did want to move ahead because there are great economic benefits to Quebec too, in doing a project of that magnitude. A lot of the expertise and a lot of the equipment that would be necessary would come from Quebec. It is a project that benefitted all of Canada, but certainly Newfoundland and Quebec most directly.

We have to wonder, Mr. Speaker, why that went wrong. What did the government do or fail to do that caused that contract or that potential contract to be lost, and the benefits of it? One would have to wonder what indeed would the government have to have done to secure that deal, and would the pain of that be more than finding $50 million this year in the public service? Would it be more than losing our Crown corporation, which is not a burden to us? And I totally reject outright any claims of improvement in our credit rating or any of that nonsense as a result of privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. There is not one shred of truth in it, not one. It will have absolutely no impact because it is not a burden on us now. In fact, it returns $10 million a year through the guarantee fee. When you look at the subsidies that will be paid and you look at the taxes that will be paid, passed over, and you look at all of the other direct and indirect losses or costs of doing that, it is very clear that the financial gain of privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is not there.

So there has to be another reason. I guess the Premier, in his Province-wide address basically admitted to us that his reason is hidden in the power control act - not very well hidden. It is very plain to see. In fact the day that he introduced that act I interrupted him as he spoke and asked him the question: Does that mean you can get at Churchill Falls? I think his answer to me was, well, if it does, it does. It was not very well hidden. We now know that indeed that was the rationale or a large part of it at least. Again, in the Premier's mind privatizing Hydro is a way of making the court challenge more acceptable.

Mr. Speaker, I had the misfortune of going through two or three court challenges. We spent many hours agonizing over the approach to take, and whether or not we should spend those tens of millions of dollars on legal fees, and everything else, that it would take the delays in the negotiating of the Lower Churchill development, and all the rest of it. There were great costs in challenging that, but in fairness to the people of the Province we had to do what needed to be done, we had to put those challenges forward or we would always look back and say, why did we not do that? Why did we not appeal to the good sense of the Supreme Court of Canada? Why did we not try these two or three possible avenues of breaking that contract and securing some benefits from Upper Churchill?

So, we had to go the whole route, Mr. Speaker, and it was not something that any government wanted to do, or enjoyed. We would have much preferred to be able to sit down with the Government of Quebec and negotiate a deal that was acceptable to both sides. Unfortunately, after we lost all of those cases, we did sit down and negotiate but not from a position of strength, but even from that we made considerable progress, as I have already indicated. We did extremely well in getting to the point where we were, and it is a great disappointment that this government was not able to proceed with that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, again I say that a matter of great concern to me personally is this passing the power to the Public Utilities Board. The Minister of Mines and Energy is now giving the responsibility and the power to control all of these matters, to decide what planning needs to be done and how to approach future development in this Province. It has all of the power of the minister, yet it does not answer directly to the House of Assembly, except through the minister. That is all well and good, that it does answer through the minister, but that is not the same as having a minister standing in his place in this House and justifying decisions that are being made. So, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I think we are losing a tremendous amount of control over our hydroelectric resources and over our ability to manage, not only those resources, but to attract energy intensive industry, particularly, into this Province.

It is an area where we will be greatly weakened. We have had some success in the past and we have had some failures in the past in that regard. We all know the development of the Bay d'Espoir development was largely justified by the construction of ERCO at Long Harbour which in retrospect we found that in time was a losing proposition for us because of concessions that had to be made, but at the time it was not a bad proposal. It created a tremendous amount of economic activity. It created a large number of jobs.

We have had environmental problems and we can certainly get into that as to the advisement as to whether or not we should indeed have gotten involved in that kind of a project which had environmental implications, but remember that was back in the days when there was no such thing as an environmental assessment, or very limited environmental assessment. Certainly, we did not have the Environmental Assessment Act that is in place today, a very strong piece of legislation.

Nevertheless, that industry did create a tremendous amount of economic activity in the Province for many, many years and supported a number of communities in the immediate area of Long Harbour. It created employment for people and livelihoods for their families.

Some time ago we went to great pains to negotiate it in tandem with negotiating the Lower Churchill contract, because what is the good of Newfoundland gaining access to a block of say, 600 or 800 megawatts of power if we do not have a market for it? We could use part of it on the Island to displace thermal generated power in Holyrood. We have about 450 megawatts as I recall being generated at Holyrood, but what do you do with the rest of it? Obviously the answer was to attract an energy intensive industry, and great efforts were made to attract the aluminium industry to the Island.

All of this had to be done hand in hand. Development of the Lower Churchill, negotiation of the Upper and Lower Churchill contracts together, development of an Island in feed from Labrador, the crossing of the Strait and the transmission line down through the Island, and the development of an aluminium industry. They all had to be done together to make the overall project viable.

MR. SPEAKER (Crane): Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. WINDSOR: My time is up? Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will get another opportunity to speak a little later. Or will I? I guess I won't.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad today to rise on the six-month hoist motion to allow a six-month hoist on the electrical powers act.

Some of the things that concern me, I guess one of them is, being a common Newfoundlander myself, looking at the subsidy presently being paid by industrial customers, it will be taken away by the end of 1999. Something in the tune of between $5 million and $12 million. Obviously this $5 million to $12 million will eventually end up being paid by either the taxpayers of this Province or by the rate payers of this Province. I suppose even that in itself there is no real reason to have to privatize Hydro, because those kinds of things can take place without privatization. If that subsidization needs to be taken away from industrial rate payers and it needs to be put forward on our tax bills that we see going out every month to our rural Newfoundland customers, and I suppose our urban customers as well, then it doesn't have to be done through the act of privatization or through the electrical powers resource act.

We continue to hear people speaking out against this piece of legislation. All polls indicate that anywhere between 68 per cent and 80 per cent of our people continue to speak out and talk about this legislation, of how wrong it is, and all the mistakes that were made in the past, and the plea to have public meetings, the pleas for the ordinary people to be informed. If it is such a great piece of legislation then people are saying: Show us the facts and figures.

This piece of legislation now has been on the table ever since this session of the House opened. I don't think that there is any more knowledge that has been brought forward to convince people that it is a piece of legislation that needs to be addressed or needs to be voted in this House of Assembly any more than it was on the first day that it was brought forward. Because this government I'm sure does not have the facts and figures to bring forward to convince people that it will be a piece of legislation that will provide all the good economic benefits to this Province that they continually put forward.

The only people who I have heard and the only information that I have read in support of this piece of legislation has been big businesses and people who stand to make money on the privatization. People who can go out and invest in shares and buy into this new Hydro and make some money. I fear that many of our common Newfoundlanders today who are out there, the 28,000 people who find themselves on the fisheries compensation package, especially all the negative things that might be happening to them over the coming months and within the next two years, I fear that those people will not be buying shares, as I've said here in the past. They live in fear that their Hydro bills that are a necessity will become a luxury that they will not be able to afford.

In the beginning I think - and I stand to be corrected - we were led to believe that a person or a company could only buy a maximum of 20 per cent shares in new Hydro. Now I understand with the approval of the Public Utilities Board that in excess of 20 per cent shares can be purchased. This causes another great fear, Mr. Speaker, a great fear of where the control of this new Hydro will lead us. Will it be people in this Province or people from outside our Province? Mr. Speaker, many, many times we have seen this happen in the past. You and I both know that sometimes people lose feelings and have no real desire to cater to the needs of common people and all they see is profits, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure that this particular privatization plan will be no different then what we have seen in the past.

Members continue to speak about the important issues that are facing us today. I'm sure as many of us sit here to represent rural areas - and especially we find that there are many, many more important issues that should be brought to the floor of the House of Assembly rather than the privatization of Hydro, the six month hoist or the Electrical Power Resource Act. I have said in the past that it's certainly not the biggest issue in my district and it is not, Mr. Speaker. There are lots of more important issues that should be dealt with but continue to be overlooked while we continue on a journey to bring about this privatization plan, this wish of one or two individuals.

I don't believe that it's borne by all the government members, Mr. Speaker. I think it's borne by a few and other people have chosen fit to follow in the wake of what their leader or a couple of other members have put forward. They've been told it was a good thing, they've been told: trust me, trust me! I'll lead you through these difficult times and what I'm doing is right for the Province, right for the people. I'm scared, Mr. Speaker, that many of us, many on the other side will be led down the garden path and our problems will be going along with them.

The question that has always been asked in my district when I talk with people is: why sell something that is ours? Something that is not a liability to us? The Member for St. John's South shakes his head but this is a big concern, Mr. Speaker, because it is ours. It is ours and whether we call it our birthright, the crown jewel or whatever it is something that we own. It is something that is very, very important to any province, to any economical thing that we do in the future. I suppose the lifeblood of any economy is its ability to produce electricity especially in the years we find ourselves in today. Why sell something that is already ours? Mr. Speaker, many people come forward and tell us what a great liability it is and how, if we had this $300, $400, $500 or $600 million that we could put it into our general coffers. We wouldn't have to borrow money, that would enhance our borrowing scheme, our credit rating would improve, but every time that is brought up it's always somebody else who will come forward and say that that is not the case.

The high cost of electricity is very, very important. The purchase of electricity is very important. I suppose there's not - probably you can count as many households on one hand that we find in our Province today, in most of our districts, without electricity. It has not become a luxury anymore, it's a necessity. I know of one person in my own district, in my own hometown not in my district, that is without electricity. I can guarantee you, that is not the norm, Mr. Speaker, and many of us today if we can't flick on a switch or turn a dial and get either heat or light, we're not living in the '90s.

A lot of people today are not going to be able to do this anymore and if government continues to bring forward the price of electricity that it would cost us - the raise that they envision that will cost a house, that would have just the - without electricity, just the normal sources of electric use. A few lights, a few plug-ins and ordinary portable appliances. Mr. Speaker, many, many homes in rural Newfoundland today, I can assure you, are heated by electricity. It was proven in the past that it's a good source of heat, it's trouble free, it's maintenance free, Mr. Speaker, and up until now I suppose, it's been pretty well affordable, but if we give the minister his way over there, the Minister of Forestry, the hon. Member for Windsor - Buchans, it seems he would like for us to burn more electricity. He continues to come forward and take our wood supply away from us -

AN HON. MEMBER: It's part of the plan.

MR. FITZGERALD: - part of the plan and, Mr. Speaker, I can see you're enjoying my comments here today. I hate to wake you up, sir, but I will provide you with a copy of Hansard so that you can read it, Mr. Speaker, and I would have to tell you, it was your hon. colleague on the other side who directed my attention to you and I thought I should wake you up before I alert anybody else here. I wouldn't want them to all fall asleep because -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. FITZGERALD: It is a good speech, Mr. Speaker, it is a good speech that I am bringing forward and I am sure that you will be rushing tomorrow to get a copy of Hansard to read directly in the words that I have spoken and the words that I have echoed.

AN HON. MEMBER: He only has a nodding acquaintance with it.

MR. FITZGERALD: I will not go over the words again because I am sure that the people on the other side will like to hear something new and sometimes we will rehash the things that have been said so I will continue to enlighten you, Mr. Speaker, on some of the things that concerned me and some of my constituents on the privatization of Hydro, and why I am in favour of the six-month hoist on the Electrical Power Act.

Job losses, Mr. Speaker, sometimes when the hon. members from the other side put forward the benefits that are put forward by the privatization of Hydro, we always talk about the Nova Scotia experience and we continue to set aside the possibility of job losses right here in our Province, and if we look at Nova Scotia when Nova Scotia privatized their utility it was a situation again where there would be no job losses and there would be all kinds of economic benefits, but I don't know if we can compare the two utilities in that ours is produced by water power and the Nova Scotia Hydro or the Nova Scotia utility was producing their electricity by fossil fuel.

One is a renewable resource and the other is a non-renewable resource but, Mr. Speaker, we saw the Nova Scotia experience where there were 400 job losses, higher electricity rates, higher taxes and actually the lowering of their credit rating, and this flies in the face of what government members continue to put forward and tell us what a wonderful thing it is. What a wonderful thing it is and if we look at the Nova Scotia experience and we compare the two, we will find out that it is not such a wonderful experience and it is not such a wonderful positive thing that can happen here in Newfoundland.

Another thing that continues to concern me with the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is that all of a sudden we see one company which would be a monopoly and would have total control over all the production of hydroelectricity right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Everybody knows, Mr. Speaker, what drives private enterprise, what drives private companies; it is profits, Mr. Speaker, it is profits, and as we go and see a monopoly, a company that can continue to go back to the rate payers looking for increases over and above 11 per cent or 13.8 per cent over and above what their expenses are, Mr. Speaker, what is going to control the expenses of the company?

What's the difference that I brought forward last night in the Government Services Committee to the Minister of Finance, a situation with our Atlantic Lotto Corporation which is another example of a corporation that has been almost allowed to run on its own without any pilot at the helm. A situation where, two years ago this giant Atlantic Lotto Corporation that was supposed to have equal representation in Newfoundland, well in all Atlantic Provinces, the company decided they were going to meet up in Moncton, New Brunswick and they were going to have a party; they had $100,000 put forward for a Christmas party, and here is another example:

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon?


MR. FITZGERALD: Atlantic Lotto Corporation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) against Atlantic Lottery.

MR. FITZGERALD: Nothing against Atlantic Lotto Corporation but when I look in my district today, and I see a group of individuals who had won a broomball tournament and won the right to represent Newfoundland and Labrador in the Atlantic competition, not being able to afford to go and take part. As I said here in this House before, I think some of this money could be directed towards amateur sport, and encourage people to travel and allow them to compete. That is the only thing that I have against the waste of money, and I say that to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and I am sure that he fully concurs with my thoughts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Certainly you do, and that is what concerns me. The Member for St. John's South doesn't agree, but that is not surprising.

MR. MURPHY: The Member for St. John's South (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I suggest to the Member for St. John's South that he has a greater clientele to go to, to look in the pot for money, or to knock on doors, than the people from Bonavista have. There are not too many small Kwik Way stores or convenience stores that have the dollars today to write out $100 or $200 donations.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a legion in Bonavista?

MR. FITZGERALD: There is a legion in Bonavista, but the legion would have to go to the same people, knocking on the same doors, looking for the same few dollars that are there. I think that this kind of money could be put forward and better spent. Anyway, I am getting away from the topic.

It is another situation that if we allow this privatization of this resource which is now ours to take place, then I am afraid that those kinds of things can happen, and what do they do? They just stick another 13.8 per cent on top of the $100,000 that they spent, and who pays for it? The rate payers pay for it, the taxpayers, and everybody else out there who uses hydro, and it all comes from the poor people in Newfoundland and Labrador. These are the things that concern me.

Long-term economic benefits, I think if the government members on the other side, or the Premier, could show us where there is any long-term economic benefits from the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, if we could create some new employment, if we could attract some new industry, if there is some way that we could get our people working, there is nobody over here who would be speaking up and saying it is a bad thing; we would be in favour of it.

I have said here before that when you see the privatization of Newfoundland Farm Products, or Newfoundland Computer Services, I am not saying there won't be any questions asked. I am sure if there is a concern there, there will be a question asked, but it is not a situation that we have all of a sudden become socialists over here and we are against privatization.

AN HON. MEMBER: A monopoly is different.

MR. FITZGERALD: A monopoly is totally different. A monopoly is not competition. The competition part of it is eliminated, and without competition it is a free-for-all. Competition will keep the price of electricity down, if it was there. It would be a good thing, but now we see a monopoly going uncontrollably towards the profit of a few shareholders, people who have large sums of money to invest - maybe Quebec, maybe Hydro Quebec - it could go anywhere, the Paul Desmarais of the world, or anybody else, but the control would certainly be outside of our Province, and that is something that I -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not to interrupt the hon. member, but did I overhear him talking and tying this in with the unavailability of firewood? I missed that, did I?

MR. FITZGERALD: The minister interjected there and mentioned the burning of firewood, but I am not going to fester that idea because the people in my district are looking for a public meeting. I have talked with the minister, and I am sure that the minister is going to bring forward some new rules and regulations. After admitting to me privately that it is not the people on the Bonavista Peninsula who have been causing the problem, it is not the domestic woodcutters on the Bonavista Peninsula causing the problem, the minister is going to be looking at it, and I am sure he will do it in a very rational way. I am sure that he will respect their wishes, since he now fully realizes the need for wood for firewood and cooking.

I am not sure that he was fully informed before, but I enlightened him on a lot of things that were happening out there on the Bonavista Peninsula, and I feel that he will bring in some rules and regulations that will allow the people to go out and cut firewood again, and be able to bring it out of the bush, out of the woods, in a normal period of time. Mr. Speaker, in a normal period of time, I don't think you are going to see the two months there anymore. I think that will be done away with. There is no need of it anyway.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) public discussions, public forums, it would be a lot better in forum (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, that is the whole thing; it all goes back to public forums, people being informed, and people being allowed to ask questions.

MR. SIMMS: The same as this bill here?

MR. FITZGERALD: The same as this bill, Mr. Speaker. The other thing that continues to rise in this House, when people come out and speak against this bill, they are all referred to as characters, this character or that character, they don't know what they are talking about, they are fearmongering, they are playing on the wishes of the people. We, over here, are doing it for all kinds of reasons. They continue to tell us that no matter what happens it is three years down the road before there is an election, and it will be all forgotten about. Mr. Speaker, it doesn't matter if it is three years down the road, or two years down the road, it is the lasting effects that will be left behind.

Mr. Speaker, that is the concern I bring, that once we sell this utility we will find it is gone for good. Whether we have to go to the people two years down the road, or three years down the road is not the issue. We might ask, why do people want to be informed? The people out there are not supposed to know anything. They don't understand the bill. They don't understand the concerns of government, of wanting to create industry, and what a wonderful thing it will be. Mr. Speaker, I am afraid that a lot of people out there today do understand.

MR. SIMMS: Absolutely.

MR. FITZGERALD: They do want to be informed. They want the right to ask questions and have their questions answered, and Mr. Speaker, you can't blame them. When you look at the $800 million a year that flows into Hydro Quebec, $800 million a year compared to the $21 million a year that flows into the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador from the Upper Churchill contract, you will know why they are concerned. When you look at the cost of $20 million to put a Sprung greenhouse in the Newtown area, Mr. Speaker, you will find out, and the record of the people who went forward in support of that and what happened to it, you will find that again they have a concern.

Mr. Speaker, these are the reasons why people now want to be involved in decision-making. Those are the reasons why people, if they are told to tighten their belts because we are going through hard economic times, then if they are expected to tighten their belts, they are also expected to want to be involved in the decision-making that would put them into that situation. Many people out there today are saying we want to be informed. Enough is enough, and if there are any decisions going to be made to affect our future, or our children's future, then I suggest you come out and hold a public meeting, hold a forum, and let us know what all the positive things are, and let us know what the negative things are.

We had a public meeting down in Bonavista and there were only forty-something people who showed up, but it was not the point of the forty-two or the forty-three people who were there, it was the questions that were asked. We went forward, myself and the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl, went forward not as two politicians out trying take the government to task over the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro - it wasn't political at all and you can ask any of the people who attended that meeting. I can tell the Member for Trinity North that he can ask some of his friends who were probably there. I am sure there were people he knew, and I can tell him that if he wanted to consult with those people, he would find out that it wasn't a political meeting and the positive things were put forward as well as the negative things. What people were crying out for, Mr. Speaker, was more information, and not only the people from Bonavista, but the people from Trinity North, and from other areas who are crying out for information.

We see some people very knowledgeable about money matters and what privatization means and what investment means. We see a lot of those people today asking where the facts and figures are. Show us the figures. One gentleman who regularly writes a column in The Evening Telegram I think is about to change his mind. He is changing his mind because he thought it might have been a good thing, he expected it from the government of the day. He didn't expect them to bring something forward that would be negative towards Newfoundland and Labrador. Then, he gave the government ample time to bring forward all the positive things about the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. He though he would make up his mind when he saw it and now, Mr. Speaker, he figures he has given them long enough. There are no facts and figures coming forward to show that it is a positive thing and now he is starting to change his mind. Where is the proof? Where are the facts and figures? That's what people continue to ask, Mr. Speaker.

Another thought out there is that it might be a pet project of the Premier to take it to the Supreme Court of Canada. Mr. Speaker, I don't think it's a pet project of the Premier, and I think that if we thought we had any chance of winning we would probably encourage him to go, or we could look at it the other way, we could look it and say we didn't think he had a chance of a snowball in hell of winning. We could encourage him to try to make a mockery of the situation but, Mr. Speaker, when you go before those seven learned judges twice in a row and you come up seven to nothing each time, then you don't have much of a chance to go forward and have any chance of winning again. So, Mr. Speaker, I think that trend of thought should be laid aside, whether it's a pet project or a pet peeve of the Premier or wanting to make amends of him being part of something that happened in the past, I think that should be put aside and people should look at the realistic things of what privatizing Hydro would mean and look at the negative things that this would bring forward.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to talk about the credit rating of our Province. I think we enjoy now, according to the Minister of Finance last night, an A-. We continue to say that if we privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro that we would free up this massive amount of money and then we wouldn't have to go out and borrow any more and our credit rating would improve within a couple of years. But, Mr. Speaker, there are many learned people who say things a little bit different from that. An official of Standard and Poor's credit rating agency told the media last fall that as of this time we don't foresee ourselves changing the rating as a result of divestiture. Just a month ago, one of the Standard and Poor's officials, who sets Newfoundland's credit rating, Mr. Stephen Defoe - whom the hon. Member for Calvert continues to echo here, Mr. Speaker - and he can play with figures a lot better than I can, I can assure you that. In fact, I think that the Member for Ferryland - in an interview with Hydro, Mr. Defoe stated that Hydro is able to meet its own debt servicing cost and for that reason we don't include it in our measure of tax-supported debt.

Mr. Speaker, Hydro's debt today is self-supporting and is not a burden on this Province, and I think that argument holds very little water. Mr. Speaker, if this is such a good deal, the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, then why do we have to continue to spend money on radio ads and newspaper ads to convince people that it's such a wonderful deal? If it's a good deal, Mr. Speaker, it should be able to sell itself. All you would need is somebody there to put the act in place, to put it before the people and they would flock to it with open arms but I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, that it's not such a good deal and the government is having a terrible time convincing people that it's good for them.

I call on members on the opposite side to stand up and be counted because those people who were elected in May month to represent their constituents, Mr. Speaker, they were elected to represent their wishes here in the House of Assembly and I don't think we're seeing that from members opposite. So I call on them to stand up and be counted, represent their people, listen to their people, consult their people and when they stand here to speak put their own thoughts and the Premier's thoughts aside and echo the thoughts and beliefs of the people who sent them here in the beginning.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: That's the reason I'm here, Mr. Speaker, and I think it should be the reason everybody else is here from the other side.

The Member for Kilbride gives me this letter that was referred to yesterday from the Member for St. John's North. When that was brought up yesterday, he talked of a poll that he had done. I believe there were only two positive polls that were done; one was the Member for St. John's North and the other was the one the Premier did on his own telephone. They were both very positive, Mr. Speaker, but I understand the one from St. John's North wasn't very scientific. I can't respond to the one the Premier did because we don't know what district he did it in or how it was done but I think when you get people calling, not a petition I suppose, it is not called a petition, but it's a request for a public meeting, and I know the Member for St. John's North will have a meeting because I think he owes it to his constituents, and I believe when I hear him speak that he speaks with conviction and I am sure that he will go and have his public meeting and people will show up in numbers.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I will hold a meeting and you are invited.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, thank you, hon. member.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But it is by invitation only though.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I don't think it is by invitation only and, in fact, there is supposed to be -

AN HON. MEMBER: He said you are invited, but you have to keep your mouth shut while you are there.


AN HON. MEMBER: He said you are invited but you are to keep your mouth shut.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, they are expecting a big gathering of 300 people and I am sure that they will show up in numbers but the only thing, I call on the Member for St. John's North, when he comes back to the House to speak, when he takes part in debate, that he will get up and express, and echo the thoughts of the people, those 300-plus people who will probably show up at that meeting here in the House. That is the only thing that I would ask of him and I think if he did that, he would find himself probably like the Member for Pleasantville, being a little bit led astray or to vote a little bit different -

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

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a couple of seconds to clue up, Mr. Speaker?

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


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

No leave?

The hon. member doesn't have leave.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Today, I am pleased, Mr. Speaker, to rise on a motion put forth by the Leader of the Opposition to delay consideration of Bill 2, for six months. Of course, I don't say there will be too many surprised when I say I speak in favour of the motion and that Bill 2, of course, is closely related or interacted with Bill 1. And Bill 2, "An Act To Regulate The Electrical Power Resources of Newfoundland and Labrador", I believe was - I don't know if the word fraudulently introduced in the House is proper or not - but I believe it was fraudulently introduced and it should be reintroduced, because when it was introduced, Mr. Speaker, the Premier did not tell us the reasons why it was introduced. It was a secret agenda at the time and he announced that agenda at a Province-wide address when he talked about access to the Upper Churchill, and that is the reason why he asked the members on the opposite side not to say anything about it. He basically muzzled the members opposite, and then on the Leaders debate again, a couple of nights later, he agreed that it was not necessary to privatize Newfoundland Hydro to have access or to try out his pet theory on the Upper Churchill.

As the bill now stands, Mr. Speaker, I could not support it but I certainly could support it if the sections related to the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro were taken out. Subsections 3 (a) paragraphs -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, we will work on that later on, when we have time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am going to get to that. Subsection 3. (a) paragraphs (i) to (iii); Subsection 3. (a) paragraph (iv) are some of the sections I am talking about that maybe should be removed and the section dealing with the rural subsidy ending in 1999.

AN HON. MEMBER: Carried.

MR. J. BYRNE: He would love for it to be carried, alright.

Mr. Speaker, the section or Part 111 of the bill referring to Power Emergencies, of course, is almost a motherhood issue and is probably something that's long overdue and I think you would get agreement by most on both sides of the House to go along with that section, but I believe also that there is similar legislation in other provinces and again, as I said, if the sections related to the privatization of Hydro were taken out, maybe we would get lots of support in this bill and it would pass pretty quickly.

Mr. Speaker, as I see it today, I don't see any benefits to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador with the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. A lot of members have gotten up in this House and spoke, over the past number of months, on the privatization of Hydro, and you are getting very little support.

The Premier says that the privatization of Hydro will save $250 million over a ten year period. That is his opinion, of course, and it may very well save the Province $250 million, but in saving $250 million, actually it is going to cost the Province over $1 billion in that same period, through increased rates and subsidies, and tax concessions.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier also states that it will boost the credit rating of the Province. I have problems accepting that when the rating companies themselves, that the Province use, and the Premier in the past has promoted, are saying differently. They say Newfoundland Hydro is self-sustaining, and is not a factor when they do the credit rating. It is excluded from all the debt calculations.

MR. SIMMS: They don't even use it when they are calculating the debt of the Province.

MR. J. BYRNE: That is basically what I am saying. Yes, that is correct, they don't use it at all.

I believe the government is grasping at straws for support at this point in time. I don't know how they are doing this, but they are certainly putting pressure on different groups to come out in support of the privatization of Hydro, for example the Board of Trade in St. John's, RBC Dominion Securities -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I hate to interrupt the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern, but once this afternoon I rose to point out the level of private conversation in this Chamber. I am having difficulty hearing the Member for St. John's East Extern, and I am not talking about this side of the House; I am talking about both sides of the House. The level of decorum leaves a lot to be desired.

I notice it also is a practice of members on both sides of the House, in recent days, of turning your back to the Chair, which is unparliamentary. All members are aware that it is unparliamentary to turn their back to the Chair.

The Chair will start to enforce the rules, and I don't want to embarrass hon. members, but I would like to hear what the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern has to say.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am sure you are not the only one who has an interest in what I have to say. All the members opposite would also like to hear, I am sure.

Back to the point I was making with respect to RBC Dominion Securities coming out in favour, here we have a group of people, or a company, that is going to make probably $20 million or $30 million off the deal. Surely they would come out in support of the privatization of Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: They didn't (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Kellogg, with Merrill Lynch, I don't suppose he came out in support either, did he? I heard what he had to say, and I am wondering if, indeed, the Premier wrote his speech for him.

Maybe there are a few members opposite who are really in support of the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. I notice that not a lot of them got up to speak in favour of the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro. A few have, granted, and I believe a few do really believe it, but I believe the vast majority over there do not believe in the privatization of Hydro, and they either are brainwashed by the Premier, or are muzzled by the Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: Muzzled.

MR. J. BYRNE: Muzzled. I am getting to that. I am getting to the muzzled part.

We will just look at the people opposed. Now we have five polls that have come out showing that 80 per cent of the decided vote are against the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro, and for various reasons. We have two polls that were completed by independent polling companies, professional polling companies, that the government themselves use on occasion, and they have said that 80 per cent of the decided vote are against the privatization of Hydro, and I believe that it is growing. I believe the opposition is actually growing out there.

We have people like Cyril Abrey coming out, well known and respected for his knowledge on the Hydro matters in the Province, who was literally attacked, verbally attacked, by the Premier of this Province. It is obvious, when you are losing an argument, or losing a debate, you attack the individual, and that is exactly what is happening here.

We have people like Bill Vetter and Susanne Dyer, ordinary citizens of this Province, coming out with such interest and emotion to organize a group against the privatization of Hydro, in forming the group `Power of the People'. I must say I have been listening to these people and they have studied the issue very, very well. I would say they know more about the privatization of Hydro, the complications, and what it is going to cause in the future than most members on the opposite side of the House, maybe all members on the opposite side of the House.

We have people like Greg Malone who is a very well respected person in this Province, even if he does get heckling from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. You may not think that, but I personally think he is very well respected, not only in this Province but right across the country.

AN HON. MEMBER: Greg Malone?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, Greg Malone. Do you know the man? He is a well-known Newfoundlander in Canada, and to be fair about it he is not politically motivated, but now he has pointed some satire at both parties in the House on occasion, that he has shown on television and whatever. I believe he is being fair about the situation and he is genuinely concerned. When you get an individual like that who is coming out and trying to organize groups of people against the privatization of Hydro you have to sit back and think about it, but I do not know if members are sitting back and thinking about this situation.

We have people like Steve Neary, a former Liberal party leader of this Province, who I would like to say at this time is a true Liberal. I remember the Member for Eagle River getting up and giving us a lecture on Liberalism.

AN HON. MEMBER: Steve is a true Liberal.

MR. J. BYRNE: Steve Neary is a true Liberal, there is no doubt about that, but some of the members opposite are not, I can tell you that. This man is very, very, strongly opposed to the privatization of Hydro.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. J. BYRNE: I may have reason for that, Mr. Minister. I do not have my hands in other people's pockets like the government opposite does.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: For the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I do not have my hands in other people's pockets like the government opposite does.

Also, with respect to Steve Neary. A member of the public, Mr. Steve Neary, has stated that he had calls from six members opposite. Now, I could name a few, I suppose.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your really should.

MR. J. BYRNE: He may name the Minister of Justice. He might do that.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, with the power that the Premier has over members opposite he may have just as much power over the hon. member.

We have people like Jim Halley who was a former partner, I believe, of the Minister of Justice, a good lawyer

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) a good lawyer, a very good lawyer (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: A good lawyer, and maybe a very good advisor to the Minister of Justice? He is a well known and respected lawyer as the Minister of Justice says. I have to ask, why would a man like that come out and oppose the privatization of Hydro?

There are a number of reasons of course and he stated them. There are going to be shares leaving the Province. There will be money leaving this Province of course, we all know that. He is concerned about the Quebec issue and the election coming up in Quebec. I believe personally that this is probably one of the most important elections in the history of Canada. It is not a federal election but it is a provincial election, and it could have some serious ramifications on this country if the wrong thing happens.

As I said, it is the most important election in the history of this country, quite possibly, and I think that the members opposite should sit back and think about that and what is going on with Quebec Hydro in the future, and the impact that if we privatise Hydro the effect it may have on this Province in the future. We could actually have a situation where the hydro in Newfoundland, the electricity that is supplied to this Province, is going to be controlled by a foreign country possibly a year or two or five years down the road, if it goes ahead.

We have hundreds of thousands of Newfoundlanders opposed and the Premier is starting to realize that. He has come out and said in the debate - I believe it was in the debate - that if the majority of people in this Province opposed the privatization of Hydro - and he left the backdoor open - and it can be proven that he was responsible or had done something wrong, he would resign. I don't expect that to happen, of course, because he did leave the back door open. He is realizing now that 80 per cent, which would make hundreds of thousands of people in this Province, opposed to the privatization of Hydro.

Let's get to the point of who will benefit from the privatization. We've already seen an example of that with the presentation that the Minister of Mines and Energy made in this House there... I don't know, it was probably earlier this week or last week. Well, who will benefit? The Rothschilds of the world. Already $450,000.

MR. EFFORD: Who told you that?

MR. J. BYRNE: The same person who told you, and you should know who. The legal firms. We have the legal firms benefitting already. Curtis, Dawe, $145,700 so far already on the privatization of Hydro, and it is not a done deal yet. We are getting to it. We have the law firm of Blake, Cassels. I don't know where they are from, I believe probably the mainland somewhere.

MS. VERGE: Toronto.

MR. J. BYRNE: Toronto. Six hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars. Accounting, Ernst & Young, $35,000 plus expenses.

Now this is all happening when the government here are cutting hospital beds, cutting out $100,000 to the group that dealt with child abuse in the Province - $100,000 that they couldn't come up with - and then give someone $650,000 outside the Province for opinions. I don't know where they are coming from. I don't know where their priorities are.

Now let's look at who will lose on this deal. The consumers of electricity in this Province, that is who will lose, the rate payers in this Province. We have the rural rates that will increase as subsidies disappear, and the people in Labrador - and the Member for St. John's South mentioned this, and he gets quite upset when this is mentioned - they will pay 30 per cent more in Labrador for electricity. It must be just reasons. We have $100 million a year which it will cost the people of this Province in subsidies and tax concessions.

The Premier says the municipalities will benefit in this. The municipalities, the towns which have the Hydros in their town, will pass on the extra monies, or extra taxes or fees, to the people living in those municipalities. So basically the consumer, again, will pay the extra for that.

We have the loss of jobs. We should deal with the loss of jobs, and job security. Hundreds of jobs will be lost, and they say in the transition period there will be job security, but there is no guarantee afterwards.

Now let's look at the situation in Nova Scotia, where they were guaranteed there would be no job loss, and we had 400 jobs, shortly after they privatized Hydro in Nova Scotia, and even that's not a fair comparison because the Nova Scotia hydro, or power, was produced by coal - 70, 80, or 90 per cent - and here in Newfoundland it is just the reverse of that, and they had higher electricity rates stacked upon them because of the privatization of Hydro.

Also, as I stated earlier, the Premier is all the time promoting the fact that we will have a credit rating boost if we privatize Hydro, but in Nova Scotia it was just the reverse that happened. They had a lowering of the credit rating.

Another major factor was that 75 per cent now of the ownership of Nova Scotia Power is owned by outside the Province. That is exactly what will happen in this Province.

I would like to mention also that the government never did have any mandate to privatize Hydro. It was not an election issue. As a matter of fact, it was covered up during the election, and afterwards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That's right. Now, Mr. Speaker, the people out there in this Province are basically looking for public hearings. They were trying to get public hearings on Bill No. 1 and it's categorically refused by the Premier and now we are suggesting that they have public hearings on Bill No. 2.

The Premier, and I think the Minister of Justice, have publicly stated that those bills, both bills together, are the most important legislation since 1949. Yet, the government refuses to have public hearings and let the people have input into these two very important bills. I have to ask, why? Why do they refuse to do that? Well I would say that the government opposite refuses because they would not get the chance to try out the Premier's pet theory on access of the power of the Upper Churchill Falls. Now the Premier stood up in this House and has basically asked the members opposite not to mention anything about the Upper Churchill.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, it's 4:57, I don't know if there's anybody here - I would like to adjourn debate for today, Mr. Speaker - move the motion.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I take it the motion to adjourn the debate has been carried with great enthusiasm and some gratitude by members. Before I move the - even the hon. gentleman's colleagues are laughing at him. The hon. gentleman, Mr. Speaker, should join in the merriment. He will find, when he is here awhile, that we all get laughed at and the real joy is when we laugh at ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, before I move the adjournment, tomorrow is Private Member's Day and we'll be debating the motion moved by my friend from Grand Bank which is on TAGS, if recollection serves me correctly. We'll try to get a grip on the TAG and see where we can go with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Reductions.

MR. ROBERTS: UI? Oh, reduction in the UI cuts. The hon. gentlemen opposite should be worried about their own unemployment because they'll need it in due course.

Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn.

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