May 25, 1994               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLII  No. 48

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I table for hon. members the report of the Fact Finding Committee that investigated complaints about the relationship between the Grenfell Regional Health Services and some of its physicians.

Hon. members will remember that there were a number of complaints through the media and otherwise against the administration and board of Grenfell Regional Health Services. These came from some local citizens groups and from some physicians who were practising or who had been practising with Grenfell Regional Health Services.

Recently, the Fact Finding Committee appointed by me and consisting of Dr. Ron Whalen as chair, Dr. Peter Blackie of Gander, and Dr. John Sheldon of New World Island submitted the report which I am now tabling. The report deals with their findings after visiting the Grenfell Regional Health Services area and consulting with a number of individuals and groups. The committee had been asked to review the relationships between Grenfell Regional Health Services and its medical staff, including the issues of medical staff turnover and third party billings by physicians.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank publicly Dr. Whalen, Dr. Blackie and Dr. Sheldon for their review and for the very helpful suggestions contained in their report. I wish to thank also for their co-operation and assistance Mr. Bruce Patey chairman of the board of Grenfell Regional Health Services as well as the other members of the board, Dr. Peter Roberts the Executive Director, the physicians, and other staff of Grenfell Regional Health Services and all others who participated in this review. It has been a very worthwhile process.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all I am pleased the minister tabled the report as he indicated he would. I think a lot remains to be answered, too, with the committee appointed to do an audit on third party billings. The report makes reference to third party billings and unauthorized mail openings and cannot be settled until the audit committee report has been submitted. It also mentions some very damning information here and makes recommendations that future employees and doctors should be given the full details of their working relationship before they leave their country of origin. In other words a lot of the information has not been forthcoming.

This report deals with excessive workloads and so on, improper working conditions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, last night CBC released their corporate research poll which showed a large majority of the people still firmly opposed to the sale of Hydro. The poll actually confirms the results of two previous professional polls, the Market Quest poll on March 29 which indicated 63 per cent opposed the sale, a week later on April 5 the Decima poll showing 68 per cent opposed and now nearly two months later the Corporate Research Poll confirming 68 per cent of the people are still solidly opposed to the sale of Hydro. Once again I remind the Premier of the pledge he made to the people of this Province during the TV debate, March 24 when he said: if the majority of the people in the Province end up being opposed to the sale of Hydro I would not ask the members of the House or Legislature to proceed with legislation privatizing Hydro. Now Premier you made that pledge on that particular evening not once, not twice but on three separate occasions and I want to ask you today, do you intend to keep your solemn pledge to the people of this Province, the one you made on that occasion?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it's very easy for individuals without responsibility to say no to anything they want to. When government has responsibility for all aspects of government, government has to make the decisions that are necessary. We are convinced that the best thing that could happen to this Province for its economic and financial future is the privatization of Hydro and it remains the firm policy of government to achieve that privatization. Now, Mr. Speaker, I'm encouraged by the fact that opinion is changing. People are becoming aware of the utterly false basis put forward by the Opposition in their criticism of Hydro and are becoming aware just how significant this is for the Province. I have no doubt in the future people will come to fully understand the importance of following that particular course. Mr. Speaker, the government intends to continue its efforts to make sure that the people of this Province are fully informed and we will continue our policy of rebuilding the economy of this Province and salvaging the Province from the ravages of seventeen years of Tory abuse.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, for the past three months, at least, the people of this Province have been subjected to a massive propaganda campaign to try to convince them that selling Hydro is good for the Province. I say to the Premier, they've heard all your arguments including the ones you just made, a large majority of the people, 64 per cent in that poll last night, understand the issue and 68 per cent of them, more that two-thirds, simply don't believe you, so I want to ask you today: when more than two-thirds of the population say you are wrong, what right do you have to say that, you are right?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government has a responsibility to govern in the best interest of the Province; to provide for our financial and economic and social security future, and that's exactly what we intend to do. Now I know, because of the false statements, some of them made by the Leader of the Opposition outside this House, all around the Province -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - some of the false statements made by members of the Opposition; some of the false statements made by a man named Abery, some of the false statements made by a variety of other people; some of those false statements and false arguments, some of the incorrect statements made by the Member for Humber East here in the House yesterday; all of it attempting to colour the judgement of the people of this Province and I must admit, Mr. Speaker, they have been rather effective; they have been rather effective at colouring the judgement.

The responsibility of government now is to make sure that the people are fully informed and that in the end to make sure that they do support the actions that the government intends to take in the long run to achieve the privatization of Hydro.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, it seems to me the Premier is telling the people of this Province that he thinks they are stupid; that they are too green to burn, that they don't know what's in their best interest. That's what he is trying to say to us here today by suggesting that we are misleading or providing false information. Well, if ever there was any example of anybody in this Province who has been misleading the people of the Province, he is sitting right over there in the Premier's seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I say again: the people of the Province have heard all of his arguments for the last two months. The sale of Hydro will give you a short-term cash windfall of $400 million to $500 million to allow you to avoid borrowing for a year or so; something like selling your home to pay for a vacation.

The sale of Hydro is not a solution to the problems that the Premier has been talking about, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask him this: What do you propose to do next year when you have spent all of that cash, that $400 million or $500 million, when you have nothing left to sell off, will you again raise taxes, lay off public employees, close hospitals and close schools, something that you have been doing for the last four years anyway, is that what you are trying to tell the people?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, totally the opposite. We are going to govern this Province on a sensible and sound basis, something the hon. members opposite have no familiarity with at all. They ravaged this Province for seventeen years, destroying its economy, putting it head over heels in debt, putting us in a situation where the government must take action to correct this mess and bring us forward so that we can rebuild the economy, and, Mr. Speaker, that is precisely the course we intend to follow.


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I remind hon. members -

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm having trouble hearing.

PREMIER WELLS: They sound like a gaggle of barnyard geese, just yakking without purpose.

Mr. Speaker, following this course, the government proposes that we will not borrow any money this year, that we will not borrow to increase our debt this year. We will not borrow to increase our debt next year. We will not borrow to increase our debt the next year, and we will not borrow to increase our debt the next year. There is no more borrowing to increase debt. No more will be necessary.


PREMIER WELLS: They are not used to running the government on a sound financial basis. I can understand why they don't appreciate and understand it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I've made very clear in statements I've made in this House and otherwise that we may well have to borrow to refinance existing debt, but no more borrowing to increase our debt. Government's policy is our debt is capped. We will stop the treadmill that the former government put us on, destroying the Province's integrity. To quote their former Leader when he sat here, he said: `If we keep going on this course, in a couple of years it will be 1933 all over again.' Mr. Speaker, that is where they were taking this Province when they were in government. We are not going to let them do it from the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Great rhetoric, I say to the Premier, great rhetoric, great quotes, but the reality is - I'm not sure if the Premier understood what he said a moment ago. We won't have to borrow for the next four years, I believe, is what he is saying.

PREMIER WELLS: No, I said we won't borrow to increase our debt.

MR. SIMMS: Let me - I will tell the Premier what he said. He said the next four - we won't have to borrow this year, we won't have to borrow next year, we won't have to borrow the year after and we won't have to borrow the year after that. That is what you said!


MR. SIMMS: That's what you said. You are trying to mislead the people again. You are trying to trick them and it won't work.

Mr. Speaker, he talks about the long-term benefit in savings of about $25 million a year on interest payments. Against that the consumers of this Province will have to pay at least $50 million more every year for electricity. Now, how does he explain that? Fifty million dollars siphoned out of the economy to pay shareholders' profits will have a far greater negative impact on our economy and the finances of this Province than the $25 million savings on interest. Explain that!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is quite simple, Mr. Speaker. Let me remind the House what I said again, and it is precisely the same statement as was made when we advised the House that Standard and Poor's had reduced our credit rating. It is exactly the same statement, that government's policy is that we so manage our affairs as to avoid any borrowing that will increase our debt beyond what it is now.

Now, we know that as debt that they borrowed twenty years ago falls due, we don't have the money to pay it off, so we have to borrow to roll it over, but our debt doesn't increase. If we borrow $200 million, we repay $200 million of existing debt, so there is no debt increase.

Now, I know the hon. the Member for Grand Falls finds this difficult to understand. He is not great at understanding that, so he needs it spelled out in order to prevent him from being able to misrepresent the government's position, as he seeks to do. Our objective is to make sure that we so manage our affairs as to avoid, if at all possible, any other single dollar increase in our total debt in this Province, and that's the best thing that any government can do for this Province.

Mr. Speaker, on the second point that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition, What are we going to do about the rate increases? I say to members opposite, and to everybody in the Province, for that matter, that in Nova Scotia, their projection in late 1991 was that they would have a 5 per cent increase in 1993, a 5 per cent increase in 1994, a 2 per cent increase in 1995, and a 3 per cent increase in 1996. They privatized. What happened? They had a 1.8 per cent increase instead of 5 per cent in 1993; they had no increase at all in 1994; they are projecting no increase in 1995; they may have a 3 per cent to 4 per cent increase in 1996. Now, that's instead of 5 per cent, 5 per cent, 2 per cent and 3 per cent.

MR. SIMMS: What about 1997?

PREMIER WELLS: Zero, 1997; zero, 1998.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I would expect will occur in the case of Newfoundland Hydro.

MS. VERGE: That's not what you said before.

PREMIER WELLS: No, that is not what I -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: The member is misrepresenting again, Mr. Speaker, and I'll tell the House since she's raised it, exactly what I said before. What I said before is if we assumed there was no improvement at all, if we made that assumption, and that's an assumption I'm not prepared to make because I don't think that that will be the experience, I think our experience will be pretty much the same as the Nova Scotia experience. I think our experience will be pretty much the same as the Nova Scotia experience, Mr. Speaker, and we will be able to avoid any increase at all due to privatization. That's what I sincerely hope will occur but, Mr. Speaker, when I made the statements to the House I made it clear that if we assumed there would be no productivity savings at all the increase would be less then 1 per cent, seven-tenths of one per cent per year on average over the next five years. That's assuming no productivity savings at all but as I advised the House, I'm not prepared to assume that. I think we will have significant savings.

MS. VERGE: Resign.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: I say to the Premier, the people have heard all of his arguments. I mean this is a government that hasn't yet made a projection right and I say to him also -

PREMIER WELLS: Is that right?

MR. SIMMS: Yes, that is right. Just ask your former Minister of Finance.

Now I say to him also, he says I have trouble understanding, well I say to the Premier it's not trouble that I have understanding what he says, that's not what I'm talking about. I have no difficulty understanding but I sure have difficulty believing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Now let me try once again. I want to bring him back to the debate over the Meech Lake Accord, when you insisted that no Legislature should act against the wishes of the people because such decisions were very difficult to change. Now you made a similar argument in that debate on March 24 when you said: I don't think any government, no matter how strongly it feels about an issue, should use its majority in the Legislature to cause something to be done that is contrary to the wishes of the people of this Province and I won't ask the members of the Legislature to do that. I say to the Premier, the sale of Hydro is also an irreversible decision and by your own admission you do not have the moral authority to do what cannot be undone without having the support of the majority of the people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: So I want to ask him directly, are the principles that you have so often proclaimed real or are they just for show, a sham, an illusion?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, to begin with, the sale of Hydro or any other corporation for that matter, as a matter of interest is in fact reversible. It can be reversed. So to say that it's irreversible is totally wrong again. It just demonstrates that they're prepared to say anything whatsoever to promote their cause. To say it's irreversible is again totally wrong, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, on constitutional questions I don't quarrel with the view I expressed, that, I think, was a sound view. Now, Mr. Speaker, I think it's probably equally a sound view -

MS. VERGE: Hypocrite.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: It's probably equally a sound view, Mr. Speaker, that on any major or significant matter government should maintain an acceptable level of public support for any action that it proposes to implement. I don't deny that proposition but, Mr. Speaker, what does a government do when it's faced with the economic and financial circumstances -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: As soon as the gaggle of geese stop I'll continue, Mr. Speaker.

What does the government do when it's faced with these major circumstances where you have one credit rating agency saying: if you don't privatize Hydro we're going to reassess your credit again. That's a significant factor.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

This is the second time I've heard the hon. Member from Humber East say that the Premier is a liar, as the member knows it's unparliamentary and I'd ask the member to withdraw the remark.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, similar to my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank, I am simply saying the truth. I honestly believe the Premier is lying and I'm not going to retract what I said.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the member again if she's prepared to withdraw the remark; otherwise, I will have to name her.

MS. VERGE: I am not prepared to withdraw, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I hereby name the Member for Humber East, Lynn Verge, for conduct unbecoming a member of this House.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is with regret because obviously the hon. member wishes to be suspended from the House, but we must maintain the authority -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Burin - Placentia West, we are not going to turn this House into a beer rabble or a beer garden, no matter how hard he tries.

Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that I move that the hon. Member for Humber East be suspended from the House for the balance of this day's sitting.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the hon. Member for Humber East be expelled from this session for the remainder of the day.

Motion carried.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a final supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry. The hon. Premier had the floor.

The hon. the Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Will you shut up?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member said `shut up'. Now that (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I heard the remark; I didn't identify who said it.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I was in the process of saying that quite apart from the significance of constitutional decisions, and the importance of not making constitutional decisions of that magnitude without approval of the public to do so, I also was in the process of saying that it is important that government maintain an acceptable level of public support for any major decision that it wants to take. I stand by that. It's important that a government do that.

When government is faced with the circumstances that we are faced with, some of it we foresaw; some of it has been added since this issue arose; some of it, like the reduction in our credit rating by Standard and Poor's, and the impact of that on the Province; some of it arising on a daily basis as we have to cope with major problems in this Province. We cannot risk putting this Province into the kind of difficulty that it has been in the past because the members opposite, when they had responsibility for government, acted so irresponsibly as to put us in the financial position that we are in.

Mr. Speaker, in those circumstances government has to take into account all aspects of it, and we intend to do that, and we intend to continue to inform the people of this Province as to the full impact and the full significance of this, and the full value of this to the people of the Province, and we hope to continue to build on the growing support for privatization.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what world the Premier is living in. He uses all kinds of blatant trickery. The Standard and Poor's rating, he says now, is a reason to privatize Hydro, yet a week before that, on May 3, he told me in this House he was going to privatize Hydro anyway, so it is blatant trickery and that is what he continues to use.

Now, in answer to my last question, when I talked about the future, and that this decision was irreversible, he tries to make an argument that is not true. Well, the reality is that no future government will ever be able to afford the millions and millions of dollars that it would take to buy back the Hydro facility and the assets that you now propose to give away for $400 million or $500 million; it will never occur.

Let me ask him this: If you were Leader of the Opposition, Sir, facing a Premier who broke his solemn promise to the people, and who acted in direct contradiction to the moral principles that he espoused, how would you describe it? Would you say he was a man without real principles? Would you say he was amoral? Would you say he was a liar?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Even in the face of that personal abuse, I have enough respect for the position that the hon. member holds not to use the kind of personally abusive language. I'm prepared, Mr. Speaker, to deal with issues. I'm prepared to deal with issues, not deal with personalities, on the basis of what (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The hon. member has demonstrated to the members of this House and to the people of this Province just what his level of integrity and political integrity is. He has demonstrated it very clearly to the people of this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. What a person to lecture about integrity or lack thereof, I say to the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What a person to lecture on it.

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of my colleague, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, the education critic, who is attending a funeral, I want to ask the Minister of education a question. There has been quite an amount of concern and alarm out and about the Province expressed by parents, educators, and last night and this morning, by one of the minister's own colleagues, the Member for Port au Port, about the implications and ramifications and the devastation that the elimination of the 2 per cent savings clause in the teachers' contract will have if government pushes on its course and forces the elimination of that clause.

I'm sure the minister now must be fully aware what is going to happen to rural schools and rural communities if government persists in its blatant attack and attempt to strip the teachers' contract, particularly to get rid of that clause. Has the minister considered these implications and very serious consequences, and can he inform the House now whether government is willing to take that clause off the negotiating table?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I've been following very closely what is happening in the Province with the 2 per cent rule, the teachers' strike and so on. Government has to be concerned that we have enough teachers in the system to deliver the programs that should be delivered. I don't buy the argument that the 2 per cent rule is necessarily achieving the intent that was there in the first place. The first time the 2 per cent rule was put in place was a forum which was held by educators and government and various people in this Province. They recognized that enrolment was going to decline over the next number of years and so they decided to put in place a process whereby the amount of teachers who were laid off would not drop too quickly and disrupt the whole system.

When you look at what is happening out there you will find that it is not working the way it was meant to. For example, in this information brochure, which was handed out some time ago, it refers to the Green Bay Integrated School Board has had to close two schools. One of the schools it is talking about is in Ming's Bight. Ming's Bight has two school systems: The Pentecostal school system, which has nineteen students and two teachers; and the Integrated system, which has eighteen students and two teachers. It would have made a lot more sense if years ago these schools had come together and attempted to offer the curriculum.

So the 2 per cent rule, in addition to taking away the right of the Department of Education and government to administer the educational system, we are also finding that there are circumstances kept in existence which in my opinion are actually detrimental, Mr. Speaker, to delivering an educational program in this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I'm not so sure that the minister is really looking at what is about to happen out and about rural Newfoundland. I just hope that some of his own colleagues who are now publicly expressing concerns about it might have some impact and effect on the minister and the Premier and the President of Treasury Board. I just hope they do. Because if not the future of not only rural schools but a lot of our rural communities are certainly in jeopardy under this Administration.

I want to ask the minister a supplementary and it pertains to the construction of a new school at Ramea. As I understand it Atlantic Design in Corner Brook has a contract to design the new school and set up preliminary plans and so on. Apparently the insurance money has been approved but there seems to be some hang up on the whole situation. Could the minister inform the House really what is the situation in Ramea and when can people expect the construction of their new school to begin?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member raised two issues, but first (inaudible) continuation of the first, and then the Ramea. I will try to address both. He is talking about what is going to happen out there in rural Newfoundland. Again, like the Hydro debate, there are a lot of untruths getting out. For example, again in this reference with the teachers, the information (inaudible), they talk about the Carmanville High School had to cancel industrial arts.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Ramea.

MR. DECKER: The first part of his questions was about the upset in rural Newfoundland. Let's get the truth out.

The industrial arts courses and music courses at Carmanville High School, this paper says, were cancelled as a result of the 2 per cent rule being taken away - this was the argument. In actual fact, it was a decision of the school staff; it was the decision of the staff to cancel Industrial Arts courses because they felt it would be more appropriate to offer more science and technology courses, a good decision. There were no staff cuts to cause this change, Mr. Speaker, so let's try to get the truth out so that we can deal with this argument on its own basis. And as far as the 2 per cent rule goes, if there were no 2 per cent rule, there would be more teachers assigned to the Province than there would normally be assigned based on the normal student-teacher ratio.

For example, we did not take away the 2 per cent rule. When we assign teachers this year, there are 200 more teachers being assigned than would be there under the normal ratio, Mr. Speaker. So if there were no 2 per cent rule, we want the flexibility to deal with the problems. But there are seven school boards in this Province which have no teachers on holdback. They are in the St. John's area. The Pentecostals don't have teachers on holdback, there are problems there, we want the flexibility to assign, so we want to make sure that the truth gets out.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Ramea deal - the Ramea school burnt some time ago. There is an insurance policy - the school is insured. There is a $1.5 million deductible which the Province has to pay. The school board has gone over the Ramea situation and determined how many students the school should be built for; these plans have been submitted, directly to government in this case. Normally they would have gone to the IEC, but in the case of insurance they have gone to government with a copy to the IEC. The IEC expresses some concerns that the school being built is too big for the projected enrolment of that school; however, there is no attempt to delay, the plans are progressing; hopefully, in a matter of course, the contract will be issued to the engineer to design and make the plans available for the school and then tenders will be called.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary for the Premier.

Can the Premier confirm for the House, that officials of the Economic Recovery Commission have been directed to visit the Town of Ramea?

My information is that they will be arriving there next week to begin a feasibility study and the future of the community of Ramea, and I would suggest that if there is a study going to be done on the feasibility of the town, then certainly, the decision of the school seems to be somewhat up in the air, depending on what the feasibility study of the community determines.

So, is the Premier aware of this situation? I am told that this is the case and I want to question the Premier as to whether or not he has any information on it, if not, if he not aware of it, would he get in touch with the Economic Recovery Commission and, if there is such a group going to visit Ramea next week, would he immediately tell them to stay out of there, because Ramea, like any other rural community, has a right to survive, I suggest.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, not only am I aware of it, in fact Cabinet directed it, only it is not at all what the hon. member represented it to be.

What we did, was directed not only representatives of the ERC - there were ACOA, ERC, Fisheries, Industry, Trade and Technology; we asked ACOA, we didn't direct them, we asked ACOA to join them and the objective, Mr. Speaker, is not at all what the hon. member has misrepresented it to be; the objective is to exhaust all possibilities that we can possibly think of or they can possibly think of to find economic activities for Ramea. That's what they are directed to do, explore every possibility that they possibly can to promote economic activity in Ramea.

I mean, I can't order businesses to conduct business in Ramea, but what I can do, Mr. Speaker, is ask the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, ask the Department of Fisheries, ask the ERC and ask ACOA to put together a team that would pull out all the stops to try to find whatever possible economic activity there is that can be developed for Ramea. Mr. Speaker, it's a desire to try to help the community.

Now, the hon. the Member for Grand Bank has it that it's the ERC going in to dismember Ramea or something?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, that's what it is, too.

PREMIER WELLS: It's typical of the prejudicial, false, misrepresentations that they have made in respect of everything they have addressed in this House.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Wait until you get your report, then we'll see (inaudible). There's a way of doing things. If you get the report tonight and if nothing can be done (inaudible) you're going to shut down that community - that's what you're up to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.

Order, please!

If I could have members' attention for a moment.

I wish to draw members' attention to a question of the Leader of the Opposition in Question Period in which he put a hypothetical to the Premier, that if the Premier were Leader of the Opposition, then would he say of the Premier that he was - and I forget the three, I think, one was without principles, and the other was, either amoral or immoral, and the third was a liar. I give the member the benefit of the doubt, but at the time it raised an issue with me. If you look at Page 143 of Beauchesne, paragraph 487, subparagraph (2) it says quite clearly, "Words may not be used hypothetically or conditionally, if they are plainly intended to convey a direct imputation. Putting a hypothetical case is not the way to evade what would be in itself disorderly." I caution members, and I give the member the benefit of the doubt this time, but in future, if one puts an imputation indirectly through a hypothetical case, that is the same as accusing the person of whatever may be in substance in the question, in this case, either a liar, without principles, or whatever.

I just say in general that the whole thing about parliamentary language is to let us deal with the serious issues that confront us without any rancor, although, of course, one has strong feelings about them. Things like this really don't help and I ask members to try to keep within the terms of the rules and the language that we are supposed to.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled "An Act To Amend The Internal Economy Commission Act". I say to hon. members that the Internal Economy Commission has requested this amendment and members on both sides, I think, are familiar with the effect of it. It is a very minor amendment indeed.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled "An Act Respecting Newfoundland And Labrador Computer Services Limited".

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled "An Act To Incorporate The Grand Concourse Authority Act".

MR. SPEAKER: Answers to questions for which notice has been given.

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

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last Friday in the House I asked a question of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and the Premier answered. He stated that when the House next sits and immediately when that minister comes into the Chamber he would ask him to answer that question. That was last Friday, so I just say he has been in the Chamber several times since. It is stated here in Hansard on Friday, May 20, page 1665. I am still waiting for that response.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I say to the member, Mr. Speaker, that I don't recall asking the member to do it and if there is any fault it is on my part. I will draw it to the minister's attention now and ask him to provide the answer as quickly as possible.

I apologize to the hon. member for that. It was just an oversight on my part.

MR. SPEAKER: A further point of order, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder is the Premier ready to advise whether or not there have been Cabinet exemptions for hiring pensioners, whether Mr. Seabright was covered by this, and whether he is getting his $98,000 on top of his pension or instead of it? The Premier said he would advise the House of that.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Where is the answer?

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, last Friday, I asked questions of the President of Treasury Board related to new regulations dealing with electrical inspection in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to just point out to hon. members that the time set aside for Answers to Questions is for the answers, not the questions to be raised again. I don't think members, during this time period, can raise on a point of order a question that has not been answered. I would say the better way to do it is to put it on the Order Paper or raise it with the minister, but there is no provision under our rules under Points of Order to raise questions that have not yet been answered.

AN HON. MEMBER: It has been often done.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, it is often done, but I just say that in terms of conducting business of the House I cannot allow it because it is not provided for in our rules.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Could I speak to that for a second? I am not meaning to belabour the proceedings but it creates a lot of difficulty for members. We were here yesterday in estimates of the Executive Council, Consolidated Services Fund, Treasury Board, and a question that had been asked a week ago by the Member for Placentia, about the cost of elevators, the renovation and maintenance was asked, and we took it up again in the Estimates Committees. The President of Treasury Board left the Chamber at the time and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said he would answer the questions. He refused to give us the answers yesterday.

It puts members in a bit of a predicament when you exhaust all the avenues to get answers, and find that some ministers just won't give them anyway. We need the answers, and we said today we (inaudible) in Question Period, which we refused to do, but these kinds of things - members ask the questions to get answers. Now if the ministers have the information they should give it.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I appreciate the hon. Opposition House Leader's concern. I will hear from the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. The hon. member knows full well we are not under an obligation to answer questions, and he and his colleagues showed that when they were in the government, but it is our policy to try to answer all questions fully and completely, and let me say there are three methods.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition persists in being rude, and he, above all people, should know better. Now I can be as rude as the hon. gentleman. The difference is, I have to try to be rude and he doesn't.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. the Government House Leader wishes to speak to the point of order, I will hear him.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it will make the business of the House go much better if the hon. Leader of the Opposition doesn't try to be rude or overbearing, but let us get on.

Mr. Speaker, there are three ways -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the difference between myself and the Leader of the Opposition is that I have to try to be rude; he does it naturally.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. Government House Leader to address the point of order and not make comments about other members.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my hon. friends for their support of the Chair, and I hope they continue it.

Mr. Speaker, there are three ways in which questions can be asked. One is during debate, such as we say yesterday, and my friend from Works, Services and Transportation answered it. If further answers are required he will give them when the matter is called tomorrow. Secondly, questions on the Order Paper, and there are only three or four that have been asked. Thirdly is Orders of the Day, during the Question Period.

Now most of the questions asked during Orders of the Day, during Question Period, are completely out of order. I don't mean out of order for their phrasing - out of order for the detail they seek. So I would say to hon. members, if they believe that a question has not been answered promptly, they have adequate and proper remedies, and if any one of them wants to speak to me I will undertake to speak to any of my errant colleagues to see what we can do to oblige them, but these are not points of order. All they do is burn up the time of the House needlessly and uselessly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On the point of order, the hon. Opposition House Leader says there may be a better way to do it, and there certainly may be, but it is not provided for in our rules.

The point I was making was that under Answers to Questions it is not the appropriate time to raise questions that have not been answered, because the government is not under a compulsion to answer any questions. Certainly if one wishes to raise it again, Question Period would be the appropriate time.


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

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

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the Newfoundland and Labrador Injured Workers Association. The petition reads:

The petition of the undersigned members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Injured Workers Association petition the hon. House of Assembly that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador not change the present structure of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal from a three person panel to a single person appeal tribunal.

WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House support this request of the Newfoundland and Labrador Injured Workers Association, and request that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador ensure that the three person appeal tribunal remain in its present form.

Mr. Speaker, over the last week to ten days there has been much debate in this House, and controversy, surrounding the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. As a result of that, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has said publicly that government, and Cabinet in particular, in the next few days will be considering, seriously, changing the three person appeal tribunal to a one person single adjudicator process.

Mr. Speaker, early in March the Newfoundland and Labrador Injured Workers Association wrote the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations regarding this issue, and they said clearly in the letter what their intentions were and what their feelings were about such a change. They said the proposed change by the minister is evidence of government's move away from the original purpose of the compensation system - that of a collective liability in exchange for workers foregoing their rights of action against the employer, to the establishment of a punitive system engineered to guarantee economic hardship to injured workers.

The system as it is now is not perfect, they go on to say, but it is a fairer system than the one the minister is proposing. The chairperson is neutral; the workers representative looks out for workers rights; the employers representative looks out for employers rights and interests. With the implementation of a one person appeal panel, the injured workers rights rest in the hands of this person. How can this be fair, they say.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go even further and to suggest some changes to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations dealing with the Workers Compensation Appeal Tribunal, and that he and his government seriously consider adopting and hiring full time a chairperson and two vice-chairs for the appeal tribunal, and that those three people be hired on a full-time basis, but be selected by the Public Service Commission to eliminate any of the above abuses, patronage abuses.

MR. EFFORD: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation shouldn't lecture me on abuses to the Public Service Commission, I can assure him of that. He should not lecture me. He was flicked out of Cabinet for abuses to the Public Service Commission, so if you want to get up and speak to this petition, stand up at any time.

Mr. Speaker, I will go on to say that the minister and his government and Cabinet should seriously consider appointing or hiring three full-time people. One chairperson, two vice-chairs. Hired through the Public Service Commission. Not only would such a move ensure that appeals are heard and greater numbers of appeals are heard, thus ensuring that injured workers get decisions made about their livelihoods and lives quicker, but in the long term would result in significant savings, I would say to the minister, compared to the present salaries that he is paying now to Judge Gordon Seabright, Jeffrey Brace and other chairs.

I ask the minister today if he can respond to this petition, to look at seriously what the injured workers of this Province and through their association have said, and to look at seriously what I have proposed and recommended to him today. Thank you very much.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you. I rise today to support the prayer of the petition as put forward by my friend and colleague for Kilbride, the Member for Kilbride.

I concur with his statements of hiring three persons, a tribunal, rather than the way it is now. We have people out there in rural Newfoundland - and I've spoken to a good many of my colleagues here and some members opposite who their own constituents have come up on occasion against matters that have an awful effect on the injured workers. To go to a committee of one sometimes might be faster. They do not have to confer with anybody else. But in the -


MR. CAREEN: I will get to him after. We want something of sober thought. We think that something quite independent, which is paid employees, would give the people who have to go to the tribunal a chance. We all know people who have won their cases through the tribunal, have been given reason to believe that their aims and objectives have been fulfilled, only to find out after that it is not covered in the mandate of the tribunal. I will state again that I support all endeavours to make improvements and not to take away. I agree with my friend for Kilbride.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments with respect to the petition because I understand fully the sentiments expressed by the hon. Members for Kilbride and Placentia. Particularly in support of the injured workers who are very concerned about their opportunity to have a fair hearing once they've been rendered a decision by the Commission itself that they, for whatever their own valid reasons are, find to be not in their best interest and in their minds not fair. Because that is the whole basis of the appeal system.

We have the matter under very active current review, and I appreciate the comments made. Maybe later, for clarification, because I think there were two different things just said, and I believe the hon. Member for Kilbride in particular mentioned the full-time positions. Because that is a suggestion which I feel personally has a lot of merit and we may very well go in that direction some time soon. You mentioned chair and vice-chair. I believe you meant chair and a representative of employers and a representative of employees.


MR. GRIMES: Okay. Because they are not the vice-chairs. The chair and the vice-chairs are the ones that hear. I just wanted to make sure that representation was correct. That you are interested in an employer representative, an employee representative, and a chair, and they would be full-time positions.

We will certainly be looking at that, Mr. Speaker. What the final outcome will be - as a matter of fact, we may be in a position - I'm not sure yet - but we may be in a position even to table legislation making changes even before we break for the summer if we can make it all but I wouldn't want to do that and rush through the thing and make a mistake of another sort. So in one way or another, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments made and I do understand that everybody here is genuinely concerned that the number one priority should be that the injured workers who feel that they are still aggrieved should have ready access to some kind of an appeal, it should be timely and it should be seen to be fair in the best possible sense. So I certainly appreciate the sentiments expressed in the petition and we'll be looking at the matter very soon.

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

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

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of seventy-five residents of the district of Grand Bank, the communities of Grand Bank and Fortune, mainly, opposing the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Mr. Speaker.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Seventy-five in addition to the hundreds and hundreds that I've presented before, I say to the Member for Eagle River. But as other members have said, if it's three people, their wishes should be adhered to and their concerns should be brought to the floor of the Legislature, I say, Mr. Speaker.

These people, Mr. Speaker, are opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. They are calling upon the government to withdraw the legislation, to keep ownership of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro with the people of the Province. Of course, Mr. Speaker, I guess the latest public opinion poll released last night says it all once again, more people then ever are opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Sixty-four percent of those polled say they are very well informed on the issue of privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. To sit here today and listen to the Premier still going on that once the people know the full story, once they know the true story, how they're going to change their opinions. Mr. Speaker, we've been at it day and night since last October and the Premier has had -

MR. EFFORD: With your flashlight?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the old night crawler - he's the only one who goes around with a flashlight. He's the only one. But even the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, with his penetrating night-light, hasn't come to realize yet that the majority by far of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. For the Premier today, on May 25, two months after he made those statements on television - he went on public television right across the Province, Open Line shows, newspaper ads, radio ads, hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising to convince Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that it was in their best interest to privatize Hydro and still, Mr. Speaker, as late as the last three or four days, more than two-thirds of the people of this Province are deadly opposed to the privatization of their asset.

The other alarming thing, Mr. Speaker, about the Premier, is he went on to say about the money he gets for Hydro and what difference it's going to make to the bottom line of the Province and to the credit rating agencies. Standard and Poor's were told in spades by the Premier and by his minister, that they were going to sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and they were going to get this $400-$500 million. What did Standard and Poor's do knowing that? They still downgraded the credit rating of the Province. So everything that the Premier has said, he's lost badly on. He's as leaky, Mr. Speaker, as a basket, the Premier is on this issue, as leaky as a basket, and he's lost the battle. He just won't - his stubborn pride is in the way now but if he were smart at all, politically smart, if he were financially smart, if he were half as smart as he would like people to believe, he would withdraw the legislation today, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is now 3:00 p.m., Private Member's Day.

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia, motion 7.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you.

I would like to have something read into the record after consultation with a colleague of mine opposite:

WHEREAS the United States Naval Facility at Argentia will formally close in October, 1994; and

WHEREAS the compensation benefits offered to the civilian employees of the Argentia Naval Facility are much lower than the benefits paid to civilian employees on Canadian military bases who will lose employment as a result of base closures;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the House urge the Government of Canada to support the campaign to persuade the Government of the United States to provide pay and compensation benefits to displaced civilian employees of the U.S. Naval Facility Argentia, equivalent to benefits paid in similar circumstances by the Government of Canada to civilian employees of Canadian military bases.

When the Americans announced that they were closing out the base in 1994 - originally, back in December 1991, they said that they would be closing out in June 1995, so they have moved the closure date.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Yes, Sir.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend will -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is, he has asked leave of the House to substitute a new wording for his resolution and I think it probably appropriate to record, since my colleague will be speaking first on it, that we, certainly on this side, give our consent, and accordingly, the debate would be on the resolution that my hon. friend has moved, not the one that appears on the Order Paper itself.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. (Inaudible) by all members, I take it, including the Member for St. John's East? Does the hon. the Member for St. John's East concur in the changes request? Yes, unanimous.

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you.

As I was saying, the Americans came to Argentia, actually in 1941, after an agreement had been made earlier, in 1940, before the Americans got into the fray of World War II, an agreement was made between the British Government and the American Government on mutual agreements, even though the Americans had their own neutrality act. Anyway, the time came when the Americans did come to Argentia and it became the most expensive base in the Western hemisphere outside of anywhere in the continental United States. I think it took $52 million or $53 million in those days to complete that base and at one time or other there were 15,000 civilians in Argentia, and the thousands and thousands of Americans, 400 families, I should say, from Argentia, were displaced at that time to make room for the war effort, and that is indeed another story at another time of what those people had been subjected to, but in the overall, the Americans came and for fifty-odd years they had provided much work in the area.

They made an announcement in December 1991 that they would be vacating the Argentia premises in June of 1995. Months later, they said they would close out the base in October 1994. The Americans made their announcement, and shortly thereafter, a number of bodies - home organizations, councils - agreed to form an Argentia Development Corporation to take a pro-active step on what was going to happen in Argentia. They have since had a reuse study done and they are hoping that the Province shortly will let them know their intentions with regard to what they are going to buy into, in the full package on management and development. There is another case that they put forward on the environment which will be talked on another day here, but today, as I said earlier, we will deal with the compensation.

For months back in 1992-1993, civilian employees and others, efforts by the Canadian government, some efforts through the Province to try to find acceptable local practices - because in the American Department of Defence, there is a clause 1400-10 that the Americans should treat with compensation, informal employees in accordance with local customs and practices of the host country. Well what we are talking about is Canada. At that time, with help, civilian employees looked at practices in Canada and Newfoundland, local and national companies, to seek an equitable and fair compensation rate that they could put forward to the Americans. They did this and it wasn't received too kindly by the Americans, who came out with a compensation package that was not adequate at the time and is still not acceptable to the workers in Argentia.

At that time when they were making their cases forward to the Americans they did not have a parallel Canadian military to tie into. But since the federal Budget came down on February 22 of this year, Canada has made known that they will lay off people from their own bases. The one that particularly got highlighted, and the one talked about mostly, is Chatham, New Brunswick, and Cornwallis, Nova Scotia. Compensation packages for civilian personnel in Canadian bases are way far and above the compensation rate that the Americans are willing to pay the Newfoundlanders employed at the Argentia naval station.

The Canadian people in Argentia, I'm pretty well sure, and I can go out on a limb in saying, are supported even by the base commander and by some of the legal people who have mentioned since the Canadian Government has announced its layoffs - the captain of the base wrote some of his superiors stating that the original policy was developed before Canada had made such layoffs and he said: `However at the time that the severance package was considered and approved there was no cogent local law or custom to provide guidance for fashioning a plan, and recently Canada developed a plan on severance packages for civilian employees of the military bases which are closing. It would be appropriate for the U.S. government to revisit the severance package of Argentia workers in light of this new Canadian plan.' This was signed by the captain of the base, and it makes it pretty clear that he is in support of his own. But time is running out. October 4, over most of the acreage in Argentia, the Stars and Stripes will lower, except for about thirty-five acres that the Americans will retain over their own secret surveillance area known as the T building. People are getting frustrated, people are getting frightened. People are comparing the American package, what they are supposed to be subject to, as Canadian citizens, towards what other Canadian citizens are supposed to be getting or will get in other jurisdictions.

In other jurisdictions, Canadian employees will get an amount of money that will bring them up to at least two years in severance and compensation. Down in Argentia some of them will get up to a maximum of some thirty weeks. Now, just taking those two entities alone, if workers in Argentia who work in Argentia - well, most of them are from the Argentia - Placentia area, others from other jurisdictions in this Province. If they had this two-year package they would be able to plan their lives a little bit better than what they are going to be subject to shortly. They would have an opportunity to consider where they are going, what business they might want to enter, what further training, if they can get in through HRD, because the Americans, I must let them know, too, in their plan there is no retraining. There is retraining up to, I think, about $7,000 under the Canadian plan, but under the Canadian plan these people, in Canada, will be much better off than the Newfoundlanders down in Argentia, the Canadians promotion is that their financial component would include a lump sum payment of twelve months of regular pay, the severance pay is calculated at lay-off rate, two weeks pay for the first year of service plus one week of pay for each additional year of service, and a separation benefit for employees age fifty or older with five years of service, one week of pay for every year of service to a maximum of fifteen weeks. The maximum cash settlement, including severance pay, would not exceed 104 weeks of salary. Now that is what I told you earlier. That was two years, and two years would give them a chance.

Here, barring something with our health, and usually a provincial government - we will not have another provincial election for another three years, so you can look forward to three years, unless something strange goes on, and the workers in Canadian bases who will be laid off will have two years to plan, and under all the amenities that this Government of Canada has to offer its country people, but the Argentia people are caught on a hook of international situation, and I believe that it should be raised to the highest political level in this country, to talk to the American administration, to get this matter straightened out in the way it should be.

The bureaucrats, with all compliments to what they have done to date, they have tried - the provincial and, particularly, some of the federal bureaucrats - but it seems to be at an impasse with the Americans now not even looking at the compensation that Canada has stated they will afford their citizens who will be laid off in Chatham, New Brunswick, and Cornwallis.

Another matter under contention down there, I will just quickly say, is the pension. Some of the American personnel in the American fleet in the United States would like the pension, which is going to affect a whole bunch of them, but there is one particular part of it that they would like to buy into part of the provincial plan, which would mean that people who have contributed monies over the years will get less on their pensionable funding than they would if it was kept the way it was, or to find another agency to fund these people their pensions.

There are a bunch of them down there now, employees at Argentia, who, right at this moment, do not know, after thirty years, and twenty-eight years, what they are going to be eligible for, and the base is scheduled to close on October 4.

That is the reason I am happy to be able to bring this forward to members here today, people who believe, both sides of this House, in fair play. People who I have talked to, and known, and beat around with, people opposite, many Newfoundlanders, and some Labradorians, I should say, have worked in Argentia. They know what it was to work on some of these bases, to start bringing home wages - wages they weren't used to in Newfoundland.

The base, when it closes, will take a good chunk of the Argentia area economy with it. Projections were done in 1992 that without Argentia, unemployment in our region could shoot to 73 per cent. Unheard of when we pay so much - when we contributed for years into the provincial economy and were happy to do so because people like to work all over. A bit of work is good for your head, not only good for your pocketbook but it's good for your head. What is going on with some games that are being played at higher bureaucratic levels in the US Navy is not fair and it's not good treatment from what is supposed to be a friendly nation. We had good relationships with that country and particularly our area since 1941. At this time for it to come to a sour note on what would wind up being - the American extra compensation would wind up being something less then a years budget for Argentia - for them to look after these loyal and skilled work people who worked their best for the Americans.

The telegram quoted one time last year about the end nearing for Argentia and they said finally there is a matter of compensation for civilian employees who will lose their job when the station closes, especially those who are close to pensionable age and might stand to lose their benefits. The American reputation for fairness and generosity is very much at stake in circumstances that may be unique to US foreign relations. What the employees are seeking seems totally compatible with Canadian standards and practices and consistent with benefits the US might offer it's own citizens. It is shameful, in our view, to offer Canadian friends and loyal employees anything less and it couldn't have been said any better.

We are asking our own House here to aid and abet the people in Argentia to get a just settlement. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for tabling this resolution today and in fact for clarifying the wording of the recitals which lead to this resolution calling upon us to urge the Government of Canada in its dealings with the United States Government, a sovereign nation, to deal fairly and equitably with the employees of Argentia.

Mr. Speaker, I should say from the outset that I spoke with my hon. friend from Placentia and we certainly concur with everything that he's laid before the House today. In fact, you'll find unanimous support for this resolution but it's a difficult and sensitive issue for a number of reasons. There are three basic issues when we deal with the Argentia problem. The first one deals with the employees situation and of course this is something that's employer/employee relationships, it's not government to government per se, although in this particular case both orders of government, provincially and federally, have chosen to intervene on behalf of the employees to see if we can't leverage out a decent, fair and dignified settlement for these people and for their future.

The second issue is one of environmental problems and environmental clean-ups and it is a significant issue. We take the position that the Government of the United States have leased this parcel of land for ninety-nine years and have had access for a good number of years so therefore that which they have used, they must leave as they found. I think that's a straightforward principle and one that ought to be honoured and certainly is honoured in international law. We have done, as the hon. member knows, a preliminary study and there are some significant problems out there with respect to the environmental issues. We've called upon the United States Government, through our embassy and through our countries foreign affairs secretariat, to ensure that the United States pays for that clean-up whatever the magnitude of the clean up is.

MR. CAREEN: (inaudible) separate because he says he does not want to have it tangled up in what could take a longer time, like the environmental clean-up.

MR. FUREY: That is right, because if you keep the issues together one can be resolved and the other one then can be outstanding. You are quite right, we have unbundled the issues to create three separate and distinct issues. One being the environmental problems that have been left behind by the Americans and the use of our property for that period of time. We contend that the United States should pay for the complete environmental clean up, whatever its magnitude and size.

MR. CAREEN: (inaudible) of the environment? If you don't I can run off a couple of extra copies for you.

MR. FUREY: The second issue which the hon. member raises, is quite right, the problem of the employees at Argentia and fair and decent compensation for the work they put in, the good and hard work they put in over a tremendous number of years working for the government of the United States on our sovereign soil.

The third issue is the handback of the buildings, the assets, the physical assets that remain out there. The government of the United States takes the position that they ought to hand back the assets to us as is for fair market value, and how you define that in the context of this economy is quite puzzling to me. We say they ought to revert to the Crown for a dollar. Those assets should be used then, put in our inventory to be used in pursuit of economic activity. The government of the United States takes the position that they ought to be paid handsomely for it because they ought to define fair market value based upon what they put in, in respect to the cost they laid out for these buildings.

It is in that context that we unbundle the issue and we deal separately with the employees. There are 265 employees left behind in the wake of the American pull-out which will take effect this fall. Of these 265 employees 165 of them are directly employed by the US Navy, or were directly employed by the US Navy, and therefore come under the statutes of the US base provision closures which says that whatever is given in the United States to employees who are affected in base closure situations, that circumstance will revert right across onto our sovereign soil and those employees will be treated equally, or better.

Secondly, there were 100 employees out there who come under the designation of non-appropriated employees. That is to say they were not employees who worked directly for the United States government through its navy and other personnel or government departments. They worked on the base in areas where there were what was called revenue generation which spun out their salaries for them. Things like the supermarket - I forget what they call it out there, the special X, what was it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: The bowling alleys and the small gambling casino, those kind of things which generated revenue which created the salaries for those people who came onto the base. They do not in fact in American law come under any provisions of protection whatsoever. In other words if a base closed in the United States tomorrow and the non-appropriated employees - for example, in Norfolk, Virginia if they closed down that base tomorrow the non-appropriated salaried employees have nothing whatsoever directly to do with the US Navy and therefore directly with the US government and therefore it would stand to reason that there are no provisions for protection under pensions, severance, or any of those matters.

What has happened in this case is that the American government, because of pressure and consultation, and because of a number of representations made by the Province, and by the federal government, both orders of government, I might add, the Conservative government and the Liberal government making representations through Mr. Beatty's office, the former Foreign Affairs Minister, and currently Mr. Ouellet the current Foreign Affairs Minister, those 100 employees have fallen under the direct compensation provisions that the other 165 would fall under. I think I mentioned that to the hon. member just before the House.

MR. CAREEN: (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I am going to read from the US compensation offer package document. It specifies that severance pay for non-appropriated employees (NAFI) you know what I am talking about, will do the same as for appropriated funded employees. That is right from the agreement and the offer the Americans have made to the Newfoundlanders working there.

Now, the hon. member urges the Government of Canada to support the employees; we can only concur 100 per cent with that. You are quite right, when the Canadian Base closure happened, the Government of Canada, at that particular time - and I had it somewhere - the Government of Canada put in place what they called a workforce adjustment directive and what that does, is, outlines severance packages, pension packages, compensation for workers in the Canadian military as well as training and retraining programs for Canadian citizens who fall under that program.

What the Argentia employees are asking for, is a similar package which Canada provides to her employees to the military, which is a superior package than the Americans supply to their own personnel right across the United States of America. Now, can we demand that the United States do that? I don't think we can quite demand it and I don't want to in any way disrupt the provisions of the current package that has been laid before the Argentia Workers Committee. I don't want to disrupt that and cause any disruption because if they apply the American law, 100 workers would be discounted from that compensation.

However, what I can say, is that I am very proud of the way the Canadian government has treated her employees. They have treated them with dignity, they have treated them with fair compensation, with severance, with pension provisions, with retraining; Canada has done a remarkable job for her employees looking after those people who have been displaced through the base closures, involuntarily. They didn't volunteer to quit, they weren't asked to be fired but Canada looked after her people who served this country very admirably.

Now those employees who worked for Argentia are getting what any American citizen would get or equivalent would get working in similar conditions on American soil, with the exception of the non-appropriated people who worked at Argentia, those 100 people are getting special provision. They are being treated as if they were direct employees of the navy or in fact the US government. I can't quarrel with that, I can only commend the American government for that but, the hon. member is quite right to represent his constituents and ask that the Government of Canada intervene and ask the Government of the United States to lift up that compensatory package to the equivalent of what Canada offers to her servants in the military. I can't quarrel with that; nobody on this side can quarrel with that, we can only agree with that.

I want to just point out a couple of things - Mr. Speaker, let me say something else, that -

MR. TOBIN: I think that you should call (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: This is the most I have ever had in here listening to me speak.

MR. TOBIN: If it were not for you (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: You know something, it is really interesting that you should point out that I am the only one on the front bench because I am the only one on the front bench who always gets a hard time about not being here. Working slavishly for the Queen on business around the world, trying to induce investment into the Province, signing a $10-million contract last week in Ottawa for new tech instruments, on and on it goes.

If anybody on the front benches listening at all, anywhere in the confines of this Parliament building, would you please come in and sit next to me and pretend that you are interested in what I have to say. Maybe this stuff is over their heads, I don't know. Anyway, speaking of the master plan, this just as an aside because that's important too. I spoke to the Chairman of the Cabot Corporation; I think it is a 1000-page document, it is quite detailed; they are preparing executive summaries and they are going to make the 1000-page document public too; but I am also told that the executive director was down and spoke to your groups, Joe Bennett, spoke down on the Bonavista Peninsula?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, he did.

MR. FUREY: Yes, he spoke down there himself, there was no problem. Anybody who wants to see the document it will be made public but let me get back to this issue because I think it is important; but yes, that will be released, I have talked to the chairman, he is all gung-ho to do it and that's great.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I just have to make sure I have some witnesses back there now. I see the Member for Eagle River, the Member for Port au Port and the Members for Harbour Main and Torngat Mountains, for any time that I get a hard time in the future about not being in the House or leaving my seat, I can count on you guys. I can count on the Members for LaPoile, Lewisporte, Mount Scio - Bell Island, and the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I just want to make sure that everybody is witness that I'm here and nobody else is.

Can I just say one other thing just so the hon. member is brought up to date on this issue?

MR. CAREEN: (Inaudible) mentioned earlier (inaudible) there is a clause 40 0 0-10, that they act, with respect to foreign employees, in accordance with local customs and practices of the host country. That leaves them open now since the Canadians have started laying off (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: You know what? That provision wasn't for First World countries, it was more there for Third World countries. You know why that was put in there. But I accept that that is certainly a hook that we, as Canadian citizens and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, can certainly hang our hat on.

May I say to the hon. member that I spoke about this issue to the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. Tobin, some time ago. In fact, he was in Washington, I think, ten days ago.

MR. CAREEN: (Inaudible) the American Ambassador Wednesday before last and he is scheduled to go to (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, sorry. He is to be in Washington this week to meet with the officials of the U.S. government on a series of issues but central to his discussion will be the Argentia problem, unbundling the issues as we have here in debate today - the issues of environment, employee benefits and compensation, and the issue of asset return and reversion to the Province. His key problem is to deal with the employees, that is first and foremost on his mind.

I can table for you, if you would like, letters that - the Premier has been most seriously involved in this issue since two years ago anyway. I know on July 27 he wrote the then-minister Perrin Beatty. In it he references the whole problem of the Argentia employees and whether they would receive fair compensation. The Premier again writes November 22 to André Ouellet, just shortly after the federal election, to make sure that the federal Liberal minister was tuned in with our position with respect to the employees. I can table both of those.

There is also a series of - this has quite a large file. This particular file has been governed both through Industry, Trade and Technology and through the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs, led by the Premier. July 14, 1992, he met with the Argentia employees committee. Again, April 27, he talked to the U.S. Navy about the compensation package. July 19 the employees presented a bottom line list. You are familiar with that. July 19, 1993 the employees presented a revised bottom line position to the Navy. Then, of course, there was the exchange of letters between the Premier and Mr. Beatty, the Premier and Mr. Ouellet. Of course, the Premier hosted the new Ambassador, the former Governor of Michigan, Mr. Blanchard, at his home one night and had dinner with him. In fact, I attended - Did I attend that one? I attended one of them - where he spoke specifically about Argentia and trying to get a sense of fairness.

The Ambassador in fact shared the view of the Premier that the U.S. Navy compensation package to the employees at Argentia should be as generous as the compensation package the Navy would offer to any group of U.S. employees in similar circumstances. The Premier and the Ambassador agreed that provincial officials would meet with the U.S. Consul General in Halifax. That meeting occurred. Again on October 14 the Premier writes to Mr. Beatty outlining the problems again. Again on the 22nd he writes to Ouellet. November 24 the Province convenes a meeting in St. John's with the U.S. Navy officials from Norfolk, Virginia, and the Argentia employees. You are familiar with that, I guess. The meeting was constructive. The U.S. Navy agreed that further meetings with the employees would be helpful.

December 1993, just prior to last Christmas, the Premier met in Washington with Canada's Ambassador again. As a result of that meeting the Canadian embassy - I don't know if the hon. member is aware of this - in Washington agreed to have a U.S. firm knowledgeable in U.S. law and practices and precedents in base closures do a comparison of the offer that was made by the U.S. Navy in Argentia to the employees of Argentia and all offers made that year right across the U.S. to similar employees.

When we brought that back to the Argentia employees committee - are you familiar? - they said: No, we are not interested in that, don't bother doing that study, don't engage that consultant, don't worry about that; our benchmark is the Canadian standard. Are you familiar with that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: That was unfortunate, because we may have, in that study, drawn out other things that the U.S. government had given to employees in similar circumstances, and perhaps leverage that out for our own employees.

May 11 the hon. member references Brian Tobin's meeting with the ambassador in Ottawa. He raised those issues again. Mr. Blanchard responded that the present U.S. package for Argentia civilians is more generous than is offered to U.S. civilians in domestic base closures. So, in summary, this file has been around for a long, long time. It is a file that causes us a lot of concern.

I know that the hon. member tables this resolution with the greatest of sincerity and with the employees' best interests at heart; I know that to be true. I can also tell him that we will continue to pursue, using every means available to us as a Provincial Government, to pressure Ottawa, who has been with both governments, the Conservative government and the Liberal government, most co-operative, to continue to pursue this issue on behalf of the employees, and if there is some way to achieve a settlement that is equivalent to the settlement that Canada offers her military personnel, I assure you that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will certainly be there to support it, and we endorse 100 per cent your resolution today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to stand and support the resolution presented by the Member for Placentia, and I concur with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology that the Member for Placentia, when he presented this resolution, presented it with the utmost concern for his constituents and the people who have been dependent upon the Argentia naval base for employment over the past number of years.

I have been in this House now for awhile. I have seen three members from that area, and all of them have spoken out about the naval base at Argentia, but I have never heard anyone in this House, from any area, really speak with the concern of his constituents as the Member for Placentia did when he presented this resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What I found insulting was that when the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology stood to speak to this resolution, his colleagues deserted him. The Cabinet deserted the minister, who was making a lot of sense and made a lot of good points.

MR. GRIMES: We knew that. We hear what he was saying this morning. We talked to him about that this morning and knew what he was going to say, so we didn't have to hear it again.

MR. TOBIN: Is that right? Well, I would say that -

MR. GRIMES: He let us know what he was going to say.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, that is why the minister had to make a plea.

Now, some of the ministers who were out should stay out, and this Province would be better off if they stayed away from the House, stayed out, stayed out of their office.

The Minister of Education, for example, was not in his seat, nor should he be, nor should he be in his office. He should be deported and let them see if they can get the education system back on the rails here, because he is undermining everything the Minister of Finance, the President of Treasury Board tries to do.

MR. DECKER: What does that have to do with the bill?

MR. TOBIN: What I am saying is that when the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was speaking on the bill, you did not come to the House to listen to what he had to say.

MR. DECKER: I was listening out there, glued to the earphone (inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yeah, glued on the wall.

MR. TOBIN: Well, it's too bad the glue came loose, because you should be glued on for life - nailed on to the fence - and let the President of Treasury Board handle negotiations, and stay out of it; stop undermining him.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution that was presented by the Member for Placentia also has a fair degree of interest to myself and my own constituency, because I happen to represent the other side, the western side of Placentia Bay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, not the bad side. There is no bad side to Placentia Bay, I say to the Member for -

AN HON. MEMBER: Port de Grave.

MR. TOBIN: No, not Port de Grave; the Member for Port de Grave wouldn't say that. It is somebody who knows nothing about bays who would make that comment, I say to my colleague, the Member for Menihek.

Mr. Speaker, the people of the Placentia area have given their lives working on the American base, and the Americans, Mr. Speaker, were darned happy, proud and delighted to have such a facility, to have such an area, when they needed such an area, back when the base was constructed. I'm not sure of the date but I did hear my colleague make reference to it a little while ago.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was 1941.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, they came there in 1941 and got the property, the soil and the area that they wanted because of the traffic in the Atlantic. Argentia served the Americans well and it is only fitting that the Americans now pay their fair share, the same as the Canadian Government is prepared to do in dealing with their employees.

I speak with some affinity for that area as well, because I remember back a few years when we talked about the golden triangle in Placentia Bay for the Hibernia development, when we talked about Come By Chance, Argentia and Mortier Bay, the role they were going to play, and for some strange reason, Mr. Speaker, this government, together with a few of the major oil companies, decided that Placentia Bay was no longer useful to them and they moved it to Trinity Bay. I questioned it then and I'll still question why that move was made, because Argentia had been let down, not only by the Americans but by this government, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not true.

MR. TOBIN: - when they refused that area for the Hibernia development site. There's another reason why I have some affinity for that area, Mr. Speaker, it's because my family came from that area. As a matter of fact, it was only a few years ago that the Tobins had a reunion out there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Who showed up?

MR. TOBIN: I won't say. It was a family reunion, Mr. Speaker, and apart from myself there was another member in this Assembly, on that side of the House, who was part of that Tobin reunion.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What was he doing there?

MR. TOBIN: I'm not mentioning names or anything else, but it was a great evening, Mr. Speaker.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He shouldn't have been allowed there. I'd have driven him out if he came here. I tell you, he wouldn't last long at my family reunion!

MR. TOBIN: Well, when I found out, he didn't last long, he knows, after that either!

Mr. Speaker, that's the other reason why I have an affinity for that area.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You showed him the door, did you?

MR. TOBIN: No, I told the truth about him. Mr. Speaker, that's something aside. The point I was making is that my family, while they originally came from Merasheen Island, a place called Indian Harbour on the lower end of Merasheen Island - my father was baptized, as a matter of fact, in Placentia. I lived there for a few years before the family moved on to Trepassey. So Placentia Bay is, I guess, where my roots came from.

But, Mr. Speaker, why should the Member for Placentia, in the Newfoundland Legislature, have to bring in a resolution calling upon the Government of Canada to support the campaign to persuade the Government of the United States to provide pay and compensation benefits to displaced civil employees of the U.S. Naval facility? Why should we, as legislators in this Province, have to deal with that? Why should the Americans not accept their responsibility to the people from that area? Why should this House be held up to have to debate a resolution because the American government - who for years were delighted and prospered with Argentia, as well as other parts of the Province - but we're dealing with Argentia right now - and all of a sudden, when Argentia is no longer of benefit to them, should they be allowed to go away and forget their employees, to throw them out, to turn their backs on the place that they've served in for years, since 1941 when it was constructed, when people went to work there? It was not just the people from Argentia and the Placentia area that worked on that base, it was people from all over this Province who worked on the naval base in Argentia. As a matter of fact, I believe the father, Mr. Speaker, if I'm not mistaken, of one of our great National League hockey players worked on the base in Argentia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

MR. TOBIN: Joe Slaney.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: From St. Lawrence. There were members from the Burin Peninsula, Mr. Speaker, who worked in Argentia for years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Great numbers (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Great numbers is right. My colleague, who is from Marystown, says great numbers.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: My father worked there.

MR. TOBIN: Your father worked there? My colleague, the Member for Grand Bank, Mr. Speaker - his father worked in Argentia. Everyone went to Argentia to find work. It was the only social employment for years. They would commute, I know, from the west side of Placentia Bay. They would go back by boat on weekends, or whenever they got home - get home on a Friday and leave Saturday night on the coastal boat. The old Home was the boat.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Bar Haven.

MR. TOBIN: She was the later one. She was there in later years.

Mr. Speaker, that's why it is important, as the minister just pointed out, that all members of this Legislature support the resolution.

I made reference a little while ago to the role that was planned out for Argentia to play in the development of the Hibernia oilfield. How often did we hear people talk about the role that Argentia was going to play? How often did we hear about the assembly being put together in Argentia - in the old base? How often did we hear about the assembly that was going to be put together in Argentia? Never a thing done. When this government came to power the hopes and aspirations of employment at Argentia went out the window. If it wasn't for the ferry that the Member for St. John's South, if it wasn't for the Marine Atlantic ferry, the Joseph and Clara Smallwood, that the Member for St. John's South now wants to take away from the people of Argentia and bring to St. John's - you know, there is going to be 71 per cent unemployment rate in Argentia, yet the parliamentary assistant to the Premier, who speaks on behalf of the Premier, is calling for the ferry to be taken from Argentia and brought to St. John's? Is that what this government is all about?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I say to the Government House Leader, it irks me a bit when I think about what the Member for St. John's South has done on behalf of government -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) hon. gentleman.

MR. TOBIN: - trying to take away the few jobs that are left in Argentia and bring them to St. John's. I say to the Government House Leader, I don't care, Sir, what you think, I don't care how you feel, and I don't care how anyone else over there feels about it. I am going to express my views on behalf of the people of the Placentia area.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: You have to shout to be heard.

MR. TOBIN: This government, Mr. Speaker, has no right to try to take away the jobs from the people from Placentia and to bring them into St. John's.

MR. FLIGHT: Why are you shouting?

MR. TOBIN: I can tell the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture I'm not shouting so he would understand it, because I wouldn't expect him to understand it.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South, the parliamentary assistant to the Premier, did a tremendous disservice to the people from the Placentia area. Let me ask the question, why? Why would this government want to take the jobs of the people from Placentia and bring them into St. John's?

MR. ROBERTS: The government didn't.

MR. TOBIN: The parliamentary assistant to the Premier, Sir, while he is not sworn into Cabinet, at least when we were there he had to take an oath of secrecy and everything else.

MR. ROBERTS: He wasn't speaking for government policy.

MR. TOBIN: He wasn't speaking for government policy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, I am not sure I say to the member, I am really not sure.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) but I am sure.

MR. TOBIN: Well okay, you might be but you haven't convinced me.

MR. ROBERTS: Well that's different. You can lead a horse to the water but you can't make him drink.

MR. TOBIN: That's right and you have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You haven't convinced me either -

MR. ROBERTS: I accept that.

MR. TOBIN: - but I would say to the Minister of Justice, why I have had difficulty accepting it, because it is a year or so ago that the Member for St. John's South floated the idea of privatizing Newfoundland Hydro and now the Member for St. John's South is floating the idea of taking Marine Atlantic from Argentia and bringing it to St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: He floated more than that Glenn.

MR. TOBIN: Yes he floated more than that and that's what is causing me concern I say to the Government House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Corner Brook now it's in Port aux Basques.

MR. TOBIN: Well I tell the Member for Humber Valley I don't know who would benefit from that either. Port aux Basques has served this Province well as the gateway to North Sydney as well as Argentia, and I don't know, Mr. Speaker, why the city centres, the urbanized centres would want to attack either Port aux Basques or St. John's.

Mr. Speaker, I have not spent a lot of time in Argentia but I have been there I would say to my colleagues; I have been to Argentia on a few occasions. I remember when we used to go out there from high school to play basketball tournaments; I remember the slot machines, Mr. Speaker, that some of the other crowd used to play and I remember the good food.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) slam dunks, I don't think.

MR. TOBIN: Well there is one slam dunk and not too far from me, he fell on his head. Mr. Speaker, as -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I haven't got much time left, I only have ten minutes left I say to my colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, I don't intend to use it unless you really push me. If I were the Government House Leader I would be quiet, Mr. Speaker, because I might use my ten minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I know there was a semi-submersible there, there were semi-submersibles brought in there. There were semi-submersibles caught up in Argentia several times.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) brought the picture?

MR. TOBIN: There is a picture of the old dock in Argentia. As a matter of fact, I had the pleasure last year, the honour I would say -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No. - to cross on the Joseph and Clara Smallwood and when we came back into Argentia, I had the privilege to be with the captain in the wheelhouse when they docked there. A fine man, Mr. Speaker, a Placentia Bay man of course, Captain Pomeroy, Clarence Pomeroy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, three years, from the time I was in high school. If there is anyone who introduced me into politics, it was the Member for Twillingate, the Minister of Fisheries. For years, he was on the right side at that time.

MR. ROBERTS: Even on the left side, all his life.

MR. TOBIN: No, he was on the right side at that time. Mr. Speaker, I say to the member that I worked for years, for every election campaign for the Minister of Fisheries when he represented St. John's West which included the Argentia and Placentia areas, and I would say, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Fisheries is indeed very supportive of the people of that area in this resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What's that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: All I would say to the Minister of Forestry that as he got the flick by the voters of Windsor - Buchans that the same thing may happen to me, but he knows what it is like and I don't. Probably I will learn but he knows what it's like, Mr. Speaker, and I don't. Probably I will learn.

In conclusion, let me say -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Wait now. I have five minutes to conclude.

In conclusion I want to say that I think this is a genuine motion put forth by a person in a very genuine state of mind on behalf of his constituents and we the people, these legislators in this, on this side of the House obviously support it. My friend the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has offered his support on behalf of the government to this very legitimate, reasonable, and responsible resolution. I look forward to it being passed in the House and hopefully, hopefully, the government of the United States will treat the people who worked on that base with dignity and award them a decent pension.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the hon. member's resolution I suppose in many ways the hon. member and myself deal with issues that meet us both head-on in dealings with Marine Atlantic. The hon. member opposite having been a former employee of Marine Atlantic and sharing that Crown corporation with Argentia and my own hometown of Port aux Basques there are similarities, I suppose, in the way we deal with issues, national issues and in this case an issue which has international implications.

Now, it is a very short and to the point resolution and the re-wording which was effected here earlier this afternoon to allow it to be proper in form so that the intend with which we bring it forward will do it justice in approaching the United States government through the Government of Canada to support the intent of the parties here in this House of Assembly in doing what they can to benefit those individuals who will be laid off and who will be displaced by the closing of the Argentia naval base.

Now, to look at it I cannot speak from a standpoint of having a long association with Argentia. The main thing being the sharing of certain factors that effect us both through things I previously mentioned. Also to look at what has happened with my own home district and what Argentia may go through, I suppose. In some cases it has already gone through a lot of the problems associated with high unemployment, with difficulties in the fishery in that area, difficulties with high numbers of layoffs and problems of that nature.

In the District of LaPoile and Port aux Basques, specifically, we have had the closure of the Newfoundland railway. The railway itself and the closure of that Crown corporation as it existed at that time has gone on to become Terra Transport, but now again CN roadcruiser and CN trucking throughout the Province. It has taken on many different monikers over the years but essentially the same company operating with the same benefits for the workers involved. Marine Atlantic was at one time intertwined with that and the community itself that I represent has in effect felt the pain of large numbers of layoffs. It has had to refocus and hopefully will be able to bring some new economic development and activity to bear, which really, if the hon. member looks at it, is a short-term thing which he has proposed here today.

Hopefully, the long-term will see improvements for the Argentia area, a very pretty area of the Province. I note the view of the sand bar in the Placentia-Argentia area to be very noteworthy and often a key point for tourists visiting the area. It has a lot of promise I would think. The individuals who have had the opportunity to work and work hard for the US naval facility over the years, and also the people who benefitted within those nearby communities for that economic activity over the last fifty years. It certainly goes without saying that is to be recognized and acknowledged by us as legislators on behalf of all the people of the Province, and to do everything possible to see to it that all possible benefit is gained for these individuals.

It is not just for those individuals. We do it on behalf of them, we do it on behalf of those that they affect through the economic activity generated, and we do it for the general good of the Province, and the country, I would think, in seeing to it that the overall effect is mitigated to some point and becomes acceptable, given the circumstance of base closure.

It was interesting to point out that the issues had been separated and divided to a point that we wouldn't tangle up the environmental issues and the issues of concern down there in Argentia, as it is with almost any base closing. I think we are realizing now as we enter the new awareness that what we would call the vigilant individuals who now deal with issues with a conscience in looking at the environment as an example see that there is more of a financial consequence to things such as base closures. At one time it was thought you just lock the door, walk away and leave it to chance.

Nowadays the issues of economic development are in the forefront, which were always there, but there is a much better awareness. With the revolution of information that is available to the average person now in areas such as Argentia, and anywhere for that matter in the Province, the knowledge of what is required and the inter-tie to the global community and the global business community is such that there is a realization that we can do a lot to try to attract industry. Whether we will be successful or not depends entirely on I suppose the eagerness and the capability of some of the local individuals involved, such as the hon. member himself, and some of the local community leaders who put together efforts to try to bring forth economic activity to benefit those individuals. That is also taken into account in a case like this.

To get a little bit more specific into the details, my understanding of the situation is such that the package being offered currently which was presented by the U.S. Navy to these employees, was deemed as a non-negotiable package put forward. It had been given approval at all levels of the U.S. government, and by virtue of that they deemed from the beginning that this was their position, their opening position and their final position, with respect to severance, with respect to any kind of compensation that was being offered. I stand to be corrected if that is an incorrect assumption on my part.

Subsequent to that the employees committee felt that they should be offered something similar, if not better than, the current situation with U.S. naval facilities. They wanted ultimately for it to be a mirror of the package offered to Canadian base closure employees. It is only recently with the closure of some bases in Canada that the regime has been developed in a very clear and legislative or regulatory means as to what exactly these employees are entitled to under a Canadian regime.

Based on that, Mr. Speaker, we would assume that the U.S. could take a closer look at it. Because the fact of the matter is that they intend, at times in the past, from what I can understand, to deal with issues like that in the same manner that the host country deals with it. As the hon. member has put forward, if the host country of Canada deals with its own civilian base employees in a certain way, then the employees of the Argentia naval facility in the U.S. should expect a similar benefit package to what is being offered the Canadian civilian employees for base closures here in Canada.

It is only to have someone at the highest levels of the U.S. government to agree to revisit it. It seems to be somewhat bureaucratic, I suppose, in nature to think that they are refusing to take forward any kind of revision. They have the support of some of the individuals within the facility to have it revisited, albeit yet we understand that there has been no change in the U.S. position.

I'm hopeful, as the hon. member is, that the position will be taken to provide benefit in the way similar to the Canadian benefit package. As noted, the U.S. benefit package itself in U.S-based closures is sometimes not as good. It may not be to the advantage to have it mirror what is offered in other U.S. locations because that in effect could be counter-productive to the original offer that is there. They may have a point, I suppose, in stating the argument that they wouldn't want - I know the employees committee didn't want to revisit the issue when the offer was made to have a comparison done. They wanted the offer to include the comparison and look at it in the light of the Canadian equation and what is offered to Canadian civilian base employees as well.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to look at the future, to get a little bit beyond the short term that is offered up by the hon. member, and to look at the future of Argentia, it is something with my area, the area I grew up in, and the area where I now live, that I have been very involved in, and it is no easy task to try to change anything, or improve the local economy through the attraction of new business ventures, through fostering entrepreneurial spirit within the people who live in a given area, because we have been attempting - whatever groups, agencies, through the federal/provincial government, local agencies - over the last number of years, to help in planning and trying to secure new business opportunity and industry to the area, and our success has been very limited.

We have managed to establish a company there called Atlantic Seaboard Industries Limited, which has had its difficulties but hopefully are on the brink soon of being able to bring some new and very good news to the Province. In that light we are hopeful that some of the activities that they are able to bring to this Province will also have an effect on Argentia, because some of the activities are way beyond the capabilities of any one community to handle, and Argentia, with the geography of the area, being close to the water, some of the ocean load out capabilities that are there, we foresee and hope that we will be able to - and I am not privy to be able to say anything about it here now, and I am not just saying it for the purposes of conjuring up this nice cloud of something that may happen, but I am very hopeful that the future will hold bright things for Argentia as well as Port aux Basques in some of the activities that we hope to be able to work on jointly between them.

We have met with some of the people in Argentia dealing with the facilities there, and are hopeful that this will come to fruition and some of these industrial activities will have benefits for the people of Argentia as well.

This is not really a government initiative, although the assistance and co-operation of both levels of government in the federal and provincial government is required in order to achieve some success with this kind of activity. It is a private sector initiative which, if there is success that meets us on this, we should all be able to benefit from the taxes generated through the economic activity and the products that would be manufactured and built both in Argentia, possibly Stephenville, and Port aux Basques.

So that is the kind of thing that the future holds. I am sure that the opportunities offered up through the new federal government programs through Industry, Science and Technology Canada, now under Industrial Trade and Foreign Affairs, can be very helpful, as well as some of the co-operation agreements between the industry, trade and technology people here in the Province, and the federal government, as well, through their various agencies, will be helpful in providing for the individuals in that area to develop their own business ideas, to utilize the existing programs, and to take those ideas and nurture them along so that we can develop an entrepreneurial spirit for the people who are displaced, because a lot of these people, I am sure, are no different from the people who are displaced from the Newfoundland railway.

They have interests. They will undertake whatever it is that they need to make a living. Some people we did lose to the mainland when the railway was shut down. They were relocated to Halifax, Moncton, some went out to western Canada, and it is to take into account that there will be some losses, but one only has to look at my own area right now to see that the areas population is fairly stable.

In consideration of that we are hopeful that Argentia will not be a place where the people will leave en masse, that they will seek to develop other economic activity in their area, that they will take up the challenge of starting their own businesses, that they will - with all of the help that's being provided - seek out new opportunities for their community and that with the full help and cooperation of both levels of government, Mr. Speaker, that we can make Argentia a better place for the people who live there, grow there and raise their families there.

As well, Mr. Speaker, we can see to it that it can also provide, for the rest of the Province, a bit of hope because it is an area that is strategically located. The Americans didn't locate the naval facility there in the first place - for anything other then the fact that it was geography and the capabilities of that given area - and that could certainly be a key point. One only has to think - maybe it's a novel approach I suppose but with some of the secrecies surrounding Argentia, at times with the naval facility there, that maybe there are some things within the Argentia complex that would be of note and interest to the travelling public for tourist development activities if in fact some of these so called secrets and rumours about such a facility are in fact correct. We could certainly utilize that kind of thing in some future development of Argentia for the benefit of the people of the Province and the country.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I do want to conclude by saying that I fully support the hon. member's resolution. I also will commit to work with him on any joint activities that we can, as coastal communities that are ports here on the south coast of the Province, work together for the benefit of the people, both of our communities and also in activities that will help get the Province moving in the industrial development area. Hopefully, by virtue of our shared Crown corporation in Marine Atlantic, see to it that Argentia remains as the point of departure for Marine Atlantic in the east coast area of the Province. With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you and allow the next member to speak.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank my colleagues for that rousing welcome.

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to stand and say a few words on the private member's resolution put forward by my hon. friend from Placentia and cousin - yes, that's right. I have to say that I am, without a doubt, sure that the member has put this forward in a very sincere manner for the simple reason that I have been within a half hour's drive from the Placentia area, I have been working over the past number of years with the hon. Member for Placentia through development associations, through the Avalon West Community Futures Organization, through the Argentia Development Corporation, et cetera, as he tried to find the answers and tried to chart a course for the future of Argentia, Mr. Speaker. This member from Placentia has worked very hard through the years, through these organizations and now he has the opportunity to bring forward the concerns of the people of his district as it relates to the closure in Argentia and therefore it gives me great pleasure to stand and support him in his efforts.

I would like to comment on some of the speakers that have gone before me here today, Mr. Speaker, and I'm very pleased to find that it seems like the complete House of Assembly will support this private member's resolution. It is worth it, Mr. Speaker, in the attempt to have all members support it because of the importance of the Argentia base to the Placentia area and I was glad to hear the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology say that they fully support the resolution and the Member for LaPoile.

I would also like to say that I was very pleased with the comments put forward by my hon. colleague for Burin - Placentia West who so ably puts forward his concerns from his district, and when the time comes to receive assistance in relation to concerns of our districts the Member for Burin - Placentia West stands up and is well heard in this House, as I'm sure across the Province.

I say that I'm very pleased that the Minister of ITT stood up and supported the resolution. I have to go along with him when I say that I'm very supportive of his efforts in his travels around the globe to try to bring business to Newfoundland. I'm supportive of his efforts. He is Newfoundland's own Frank McKenna, I would say, and I would say, Mr. Speaker, that it is good to have a minister who has that insight into the problems that we face here in Newfoundland and has the courage to try to improve on them.

In December of 1991 the United States Navy announced the closure of the United States naval facility at Argentia for June of 1995, with the loss of 265 civilian jobs and $7.5 million in payroll to the economy of the Placentia area. This was a sad day for the people of Argentia, and not only for the people of Argentia, but indeed the whole area around the Placentia - Argentia area. The history of Argentia doesn't only affect the people right there in the area, it affects the people of my district and especially the Cape Shore area, where many people found work back in the 1940s and the 1950s as Argentia was being built.

As a matter of fact there was an installation at St. Bride's, which is my home town, a place up on top of the hill that we used to call the base. We had our own little base here in St. Bride's and there was also an installation, a little barasway, that served the same purpose. As a matter of fact it was only a few years ago that they released the land at St. Bride's and now there is a home built there. The memories of the Americans and the memories of the boom that was brought to the Placentia, Cape Shore, and indeed the whole southern Avalon area have been remembered for years. It was back I think - yes, February 13, 1941, that the American flag was raised in Argentia and the people were brought into the American fold, per se.

There were many people back then who received the opportunity to go to work in Argentia and were very happy. As I'm sure you are fully aware, and many members in this House are fully aware of, the 1940s were a tough time in Newfoundland and many people were very pleased to have the opportunity to go to work in Argentia. I often heard the stories, and there are many people ended up being married to an American serviceman and leaving our areas and travelling to the United States to make their homes. It is very important that we look back at the history and what the Argentia naval base did for our area.

It is sad to see that today we see the possibility - well, not the possibility any more - we will be seeing in the not-too-distant future the closure of the Argentia naval base and it is sad to see this, especially in an area like Placentia. Because over the past year, due to the cod moratorium, we have seen many people lose their jobs and gone on compensation, or whatever the case may be. The closure of the Long Harbour phosphorus plant has seen hundreds of people lose their jobs, and now with the closure of the Argentia naval base we will see hundreds more.

It is not only the people who are directly involved with the jobs, it is the spin-off from those jobs and those industries in an area that create much more employment, such as in the service sector. I'm sure that the Placentia area will feel the impact of the Argentia naval base, not only with the direct employees but throughout the businesses and throughout the area that will be affected. It is sad to see that with the 55 per cent unemployment rate that is there now due to the fishery closure and Long Harbour closure, et cetera, that with the closure of the Argentia Naval Base the unemployment rate will climb upwards to 70 per cent, in that area. I say that it is going to be a tough ride for those people in the years ahead, and it is very important that this resolution be brought forward so that the people really understand the concerns and the urgency, I should say, of making sure that this issue is front and centre by this government, and indeed by the federal government, in the months ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: Read Hansard, Sir.

If I could get back for a moment to the Private Member's resolution, the purpose of bringing it here today is to address three major concerns. Previous speakers have spoken on these concerns, but I would like to just put forward my comments. The three major issues that have been brought forward are the environmental cleanup, more or less the mess that the Americans have left behind, or will be leaving behind in the next few months; the case of the buildings and the assets that are there, and the cost that the Americans are seeking, or the price that the Americans are seeking for these assets, from the Canadian government; and, most importantly, I would say that the severance package, or the compensation, that is being offered to the workers at the Argentia Naval Base.

Mr. Speaker, I will touch for a moment on the environmental cleanup to start things off. It is very important that the Province and the country - the federal government put forward very loud and clear that the environmental mess that is being left behind by the Americans, and I am sure will be brought out in the study that is being done there now, the environmental mess that is being left there by the Americans be cleaned up, not only for this generation but for generations to come, because there will be people in this area for years and years, and the mess that these people are leaving behind, I am sure, will cause great discomfort to many people in the years ahead.

The buildings and the assets they are looking for, as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology touched on earlier, is that these should be turned over to the Canadian government for $1, and I concur 100 per cent with those comments for the simple reason that when the people were forced from their homes in Argentia, back in the 1940s, people stood up and watched their homes being burned to the ground; they stood up and watched their homes being bulldozed by the Americans, and now the Americans have the gall - I say the gall - to come to us and say that you have to give us their market value for buildings and assets that we have on the Argentia Naval Base.

Mr. Speaker, I believe this is an insult to the people of the Argentia/Placentia area, and it is definitely an insult to the Canadian government. I say that the Canadian government should make sure that this is brought forth as soon as possible and dealt with, and that these assets be turned over to the Argentia/Placentia area, to try to bring in some other type of economic development, or to try to have an opportunity to entice some investors to come into the area, and that these buildings and assets should be turned over for $1 to the area.

I also want to comment, if I could, for a few moments on the severance package, as the minister spoke earlier. There are 265 employees at the Argentia Naval Base now who will be facing lay-off come October or November, and it is very important that these people receive a fair and equitable package that the Canadians have put forward and the Americans offered elsewhere.

We could just touch for a few moments on some of the packages that have been put forward. As it relates to the severance pay item under the compensation package it is the same, except no maximum time or amount, but it is the same; the U.S. and Canadian packages are the same.

The life insurance, the Americans have, except for maximum time or amount limited -

AN HON. MEMBER: But the Canadian one (inaudible).

MR. MANNING: That life insurance was paid up, a $500 life insurance policy for employees now in the plan, the US have offered, and the Canadian package is paid up to a $5000 policy for retirees only.

The civilian reduction program: the Canadian package offers a lump sum payment of twelve months of regular pay, and the US package offers none whatsoever. The separation benefit, age fifty or over with at least five years service, the Canadian package is one week of pay for every year's service for a maximum of fifteen weeks, and the US package offers none, Mr. Speaker, none whatsoever.

The educational training component, the Canadian package offers a total allowance of up to $7000 for retraining in preparation for employment outside the federal public service. That is $7000 the Canadian package offers and the US package offers none. You have to ask yourself, Mr. Speaker, if these people who gave their lives to the American Navy in working at the Argentia Naval Base have been denied the basic benefits of serving for years and years is something that I think is intolerable and should not be tolerated by this government or any government.

It is very important that it be brought forward that the people of Argentia are not satisfied with this severance package they are being offered because for the simple reason they want to be treated in a fair and equal manner, and who, I ask, Mr. Speaker, can argue with that.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Argentia back in the 1940s more or less did not have a choice on the Argentia Naval Base. It was something that was brought on. They suffered in the early stages with the removal of their homes, the removal of bodies from the cemetery, and just the fact that resettlement was a word that the people in that area did not like to talk about too much. It comes up every now and again and the people were resettled.

Through the years they saw some of the benefits that came from having the Argentia Naval Base within their area, more or less the financial benefits I should say, Mr. Speaker, the jobs it created, and the industries that came because of it. In one sense I guess the people of Argentia were very pleased with the benefits that came from the base over the years but on the other hand there are some concerns about what is going to happen after the Americans leave. It is very important that we stick to our guns and make sure that the people of Placentia and the people of Argentia area receive a fair and equitable package under their severance for the years of service they put into the Argentia area.

The ninety-nine year lease that was signed in 1941 under the American Bases Act the Americans are walking away from now. I wonder sometimes when you look at something like that what if the Canadian government tried to walk away from that agreement, what would we have to pay the Americans? We signed over the land for ninety-nine years and after fifty-three years now the Americans have decided they are going to walk away and leave things as they are. We have to ask ourselves if the shoe was on the other foot how would the Americans look at it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, before I was rudely interrupted, I asked myself what would the Americans try to do with us if we were the people who were trying to pull out of the contract that was signed for ninety-nine years?

Mr. Speaker, there is 9000 acres of land and water we passed over to the Americans back in 1941, 9000 acres of prime real estate at that time. The Americans knew it was prime real estate and that was why they settled there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)

MR. MANNING: I talked about him earlier.

Clock keeper over there, time keeper, you are the time keeper? I am sorry my time is not up yet.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that if the shoe were on the other foot, I think the Americans would be dealing with a much harder fist that what they are planning on dealing with now. I think the people of the Argentia-Placentia area have worked for the Americans over the years and deserve better than what they are being offered now, and I think this government should push the Canadian government and pressure the Canadian government into making sure that the people of Argentia, the workers of Argentia, and indeed, the whole area of Argentia-Placentia, receive a fair and equitable settlement on the fact that they are pulling out of a deal some forty-five years before their time.

I want to finish up, Mr. Speaker, by saying that I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand and support the resolution put forward by the Member for Placentia. I congratulate the member in bringing it forward; it has come a long way from dealing with it at a community futures level to dealing with it here in the House of Assembly; it has been a topic of great concern to the Member for Placentia for as long as I have known the member, and I hope that because of bringing this resolution forward here today in the House of Assembly, that the government here is reminded, and I say reminded - the government is reminded of the importance of a fair and equitable package for the people of Placentia and I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, carry on, and -

AN HON. MEMBER: Fix his tie.

MR. MANNING: What's that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Fix his tie.

MR. MANNING: - and that the people of Argentia receive a fair and equitable package because they deserve nothing less, this Province deserves nothing less, and I am sure the country deserves nothing less. We have been good to the Americans down through the years; the people of the Placentia area have been good to them with regard to the Argentia naval base, and I think now, it is time for the Americans to return some of the favours so richly deserved. I know a lot of people in the whole Argentia, Dunville, Placentia, Freshwater, Jerseyside area and it is a major topic of concern there now with regard to the closure of Argentia.

It was a way of life for forty-odd, fifty years, Mr. Speaker, that the people have been accustomed to, and accustomed to the dollars and economic benefit that Argentia has brought to that area, and now they are looking at the closure, and with the closure in the fishery and the Long Harbour shutdown, things are not looking that bright for that area, so I ask in closing, that government take this very seriously. I know some of the ministers don't take it too seriously if it doesn't affect them, but I ask the other ministers who have any heart over there, that they take this matter very seriously and that they stand up and speak on behalf of the people of Argentia and Placentia, and bring forward to the Federal Government how important it is that these people receive the best possible package that can be had and that they deserve nothing less, Mr. Speaker. I thank you for the opportunity to speak.

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

I think we have about six minutes or so.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I won't impose on the hon. the Member for Placentia; I am sure he has some additional worries that he would like to share with us in closing out the debate, but with his indulgence I would like to have the opportunity to participate in this debate and to lend my support for the resolution put forward by the hon. member and to commend him on the effort that he is making on behalf of the constituents of his district.

There are some good people who are Tories, `John', believe it or not.

MR. EFFORD: Oh, my!

MR. SMITH: I can relate somewhat to the situation in Argentia, having grown up on the West Coast of the Province, just thirty miles from Stephenville, which at one time had an air force base; and my own family were directly involved and indeed my whole community. Their source of employment was the American base and I also can remember in the 1960s when the based closed in Stephenville, the devastation, the immediate devastation that it did bring upon the people of the area, the whole of the region, and also I remember as well, that in terms of compensation, there was very little that was offered to the people of the area.

Mr. Speaker, the thing that comes through as I reflect on this and listen to the speakers in this debate this afternoon, the one word that comes through is generosity, and I think in terms of the generosity initially of the Newfoundland people who lived in that area, who gave up their lands to the Americans at a time when it was convenient for the Americans to come into the area for military reasons, for defence reasons, it was convenient for them to locate in the area and to avail of the generosity of the Newfoundland people in using the land that was available.

I also think in terms of the generosity of the Canadian people when I think of the Fisheries Compensation Package and I look at the difference in terms of the way that we, as Canadians, respond to these kinds of things. I must say, it really strikes me when I look at the - from the American perspective, I would feel that certainly they're found wanting. The one thing that does come to mind as I listen to this, is that I think back to the Confederation debates when the various options were being tossed around at that time and one that was being actively pursued was the possible joining with the United States of America. I would think, on the basis of what I've seen, in the time that I have been a Canadian - since I am one of these people who takes great pride in having been born a Newfoundlander - that I feel we did make the right choice in becoming a part of the great nation of Canada. I think the one thing that does mark our country is the sense of generosity in the way we deal with our people. I would certainly feel much better on this whole matter if we were seeing somewhat of the similar things from the Americans in terms of their treatment of their former employees who are now about to be displaced.

The thing that really struck me this afternoon in listening to my colleague, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in talking about the fact that the Americans are actually expecting some compensation for the infrastructure that they're leaving behind. I find that to be incredible. I just can't believe that anyone could be that callous. We're looking at a people who are faced with losing their livelihood and all they're surrounded with is brick and mortar and they can't very well eat that. If we are, as a government, going to be able to generate anything there that will provide employment for those people it will be those of us who are in this House now and the Canadian Government who will bring it about.

The fact that they would say that they expect compensation because they're going to leave buildings behind - as if, somehow, they were doing the people of Argentia and the people of Newfoundland a great favour in going down there and constructing these buildings. The reason why they brought their ships to Newfoundland, the reason why they built their buildings there was out of a sense of generosity and altruism towards the poor people of Newfoundland. But, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure everyone in this hon. House knows differently. Their reasons for being here were very self-serving and we are not saying it to be critical of them, but they have benefitted from the fact that they have been able to avail of these facilities for the past number of years, they have had access to the lands, they've also had the service over those years of a tremendous and dedicated workforce. I think the least that they could be doing now, since the situation in the world dictates that there's no longer a need for the facility that's there, then surely god, the least that we could expect of them is that they treat, with fairness and generosity, the people who have served them so well over the years. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has less than a minute, if I recognize the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think my friend, the Member for Placentia may give me a couple of minutes of his time just to take a few minutes to express my support for the motion brought forth by the Member for Placentia. I think it's very timely and a very important resolution to be put before the House at this point.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I must recognize the hon. the Member for Placentia, unless he yields the floor to the hon. the Member for St. John's East. He indicates he does so.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Member for Placentia for giving me a few minutes of his time.

It is an important resolution because I think the history of the involvement between the Americans and Newfoundlanders at Argentia is something that is a very important part of our life for the last half-century. It is perhaps little known now, Mr. Speaker, but when the Argentia naval base was being built, Newfoundlanders were paid less per hour then the Americans were who were brought in from the States to do this, and this was done at the request of the Government of Newfoundland of the day. I am told, the Commission of Government requested it. The Government of Newfoundland requested that be the case because they didn't want to upset the local economy.

So I don't think that we should be countenancing any repeat of this type of differentiation at this point in time when the base is being closed down, to have the people of Argentia, who work as civilians there, treated in one way and the civilians of Canadian bases treated in another.

I think other members have expressed it well by saying that the spirit of generosity shown by Newfoundlanders to the Americans as a part of the co-operative war effort has continued beyond the war, and I think that in fairness to the people of Newfoundland who provided the kinds of services that the American bases required in order to be able to perform their jobs and their duties as part of the American and allied military effort, should be repaid by Newfoundlanders and other Canadians who are civilians on these bases being treated in this country the same as Canadian citizens are treated as well.

So I wholeheartedly support the resolution. I won't say more because I know the Member for Placentia wants to summarize some of the arguments, and comment on some of the remarks made by others, but I wholeheartedly support the resolution and commend the member for bringing it forward.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I go any further, I would like to thank the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology for his words of support earlier, and the Member for LaPoile, my friend, the Member for Port au Port, my colleague, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, and my other colleague and cousin, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, and the Member for St. John's East. It is, indeed, a pleasure to be able to get up and to find support out there on a common cause.

I must read something into the record quickly. Argentia, during the war effort, was a terminus for the scores of American and allied warships on convoy escort duty. This was a western turnaround point for the men-of-war, where they refuelled, took on stores, were briefed on tactics and operations, and formed their groups to take over the convoys crossing across from the states.

Thousands of tons of shipping were shepherded through infested waters from Newfoundland, which leads me to this point. One high ranking British officer paid high tribute to the value of the Argentia base when he remarked, with sincere emotion: Without Argentia, I doubt if we could have gotten over the hump that meant the winning of the war - which is indeed a great compliment, compared to what we have heard, other stories about other efforts.

I am glad to hear members today with their support. It is never too late. While the clock is ticking on the employees in Argentia, it is never too late to get support, to show unanimous support, of the crowd from home, and the crowd from home being here in our own Province - right here in the seat of this government.

We are also generous with the Americans. We are generous in money ways, too, because our own MCP pays $1 million-plus for the dependants of American forces in Argentia, and that has been going on for a number of years. They do get the benefit of being here, rather than paying into an expensive American system. They do get benefits from our MCP for their dependants. In the meanwhile, the enlisted personnel are on a reciprocal agreement with the Government of Canada, because it is the same thing - Canadian personnel, when they are stationed in the United States, enlisted personnel - but for the dependants of the Americans in Argentia, they are fully covered, and that is paid by the Newfoundland government, who are indeed generous to the Americans.

We are looking for, shortly, and hoping to get, Minister Tobin, because in an exchange between myself and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology awhile ago, we talked about Mr. Tobin sidelining, because he is Newfoundland minister, to talk about the compensation package quite separate from the assets and the environmental issues, and he didn't want it to be overshadowed, or to be caught in a system that could drag on for many more months or years. We're trusting Mr. Tobin - we have no reason not to trust him - to take this matter up, which he has done of late and to get it to a successful conclusion. We're hoping to have Mr. Tobin down in Argentia before too long to talk to the base employees. Also when he's there we'll get him to talk to other people who are being affected because we're also caught up in this TAGS situation as well. For your information, on a preliminary figure, I've been told over this short while and Argentia Development Corporation and Argentia employees as well, that there's some 750,000 Americans, since the start of the war, passed through Argentia. A significant number of men. Some passed through there on ships during the war but there has been tens and tens of thousands in their turn, have been stationed there and that's a very significant number of people considering that the population of this Province yet hasn't reached 600,000.

So for the record today, I'd just like to read into it two letters that have gone out since - starting last Sunday, Argentia workers have been faxing the Primer Minister and copies to Mr. Tobin, Ms Payne and myself but two particular letters - a little bit different but largely the same, say what the rest of them are doing because they're all sending letters and their dependents and friends are doing the same thing. One letter says: as an employee of the US Government, working at the US Naval Station facility in Argentia, Newfoundland for the past fourteen years and a Canadian and a Newfoundland taxpayer, I feel I am not getting a fair deal from all aspects of government.

In December 1991, we were informed that our base would be closed and/or realigned. From then to this present day I feel I am no further ahead then I was then. When I'm laid off on October 3, 1994 not one person can tell me what I am going to receive in the form of severance pay, pension money, interest I have paid on my pension money, training, et cetera.

The Canadian civil service employees who are affected by Canadian Forces restructuring and base closure were given specific guidelines on what they will receive. The civilian employees at Argentia keep getting the run around. The United States Government is telling us we are Canadians and we are on a Canadian jurisdiction. The Canadian and Newfoundland Governments are not helping us because we are United States Government employees and under their jurisdiction. We are stuck somewhere in the middle. Time is running out for me and my fellow co-workers. I request any assistance or information you can provide to help me through this crisis.

I won't give the name because I wasn't talking to the lady to ask for it.

First of all let me extend to the Prime Minister, to you, warm greetings from the wind-swept shores of Newfoundland. My future at this particular time in my life is probably as bleak as the Newfoundland climate, however, I call upon you to ensure you are going to be working towards our best interest, the US base closure in Argentia, Newfoundland. We have been passed from one level of government to another, I believe it is now time for my government to look at our concerns and negotiate a fair and equitable package with the US government and time is now of the essence.

I consider myself a NATO employee therefore I suggest that my compensation package be the same as the Canadian employees displaced with the restructuring of the Canadian military forces. By my receiving one full year's salary plus severance as my fellow-Canadian employees will receive with Canadian base closures, I would never receive Unemployment Insurance benefits and I do not believe our Canadian government need pay me UI if they would negotiate a decent package from the US government.

The US government has a definite moral responsibility to us dedicated employees of the past fifty years and why they would bicker over something as petty to them as a fair package is beyond my relevant thought. They sure have no regard to the amount of stress this has caused in our lives. I look forward to your action on our behalf and your demands that the US government treat us with the same respect our Canadian government treated their displaced workers at military bases; but they are also caught up in another person, a Deputy Director for Civilian Personnel in Norfolk, a Ms. Nona Jordan, who is interpreting what the Canadians have said for her own ends.

She was saying that they have thoroughly reviewed the National Defence Personnel Reduction Program (Canadian) and found it not applicable to the naval facility realignment. She goes on to say that the National Defence Civilian Reduction Program states that its purpose is to offer incentives to encourage employees to leave public service expeditiously. Excess employees who opt not to accept this incentive and leave public service would then be declared surplus. The provisions of the workforce adjustment directive would take effect at that point.

The workforce adjustment directive was taken into consideration in developing the compensation package for Argentia employees and she says, no change in this package is warranted since the US Naval facility is not offering incentives for employees to leave prior to closure. Another employee at Argentia, contacted legal people when they found out what this Ms. Jordan had to say, that indicated that the compensation package offered to the employees at Argentia is the same that is being offered to Canadian workers. In response to that, the legal officer asked if the Canadians could then assume that they would be getting the one year's salary, fifteen weeks separation allowance, et cetera, to which this person was told, `no'.

Another thing, this Ms. Jordan there, she had met with others who were on the Argentia matter, people from Argentia, Americans. She indicated to him that this package offered to civilian workers at the Canadian bases that are closing was not really a redundancy package, but an incentive for these workers to leave the workforce. She will certainly pass on this perception to her headquarters.

The Argentia compensation issue is being turned over to another person at the Wage Fixing Authority in Washington, which is a higher level, and the people in Argentia are concerned that they will support Ms. Jordan's position - a whole bunch of concerns that time is running out.

Now I am glad and very pleased that our own members here are supporting the bid for Argentia, but an offer that could be made, while the Americans are talking about the assets, like my friend from Port au Port said, and the minister had mentioned earlier, the main thing in Argentia is the port. Some of these building, the Americans could take them apart, take them down, and take them back in their ships to the United States, because what is going to happen, some of these buildings that the Americans are trying to offload are going to cost our own provincial government money, some time or other, to tear down, through a small bit of money, into Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, which has happened on the north side; it has cost this Province money, and the Americans, so far, are the only ones winning.

I am concerned. I would like to see Newfoundland money spent on Newfoundlanders. I am not anti-American; I am just pro-Newfoundlander, and when one conflicts with the other I will go with the home crowd.

The compensation that is being offered is not adequate, we all know. Another thing I could mention at this time, like in section 25, where these members who were in that thing for their jurisdictions, constituencies, trying to get them, is a top-up. So when in negotiating a deal we could also ask Canada, if the Americans are not going to move, ask Canada, to top up its civilian employees at Argentia, its own countrymen, and I think that would be fair; and then let the Prime Minister, in a conversation at a later date, beyond October 3, put a bill to the President of the United States, because we have to step in and look after our own.

The Prime Minister, members opposite know him much better than I do; I only go by what I see on TV or read in the paper, and he seems a decent man. From decent men we expect decency. As a top-up - and that is what I mentioned to some base workers the other day. That is what I am going to be talking about with our Newfoundland minister in the Cabinet. I am going to run that by him shortly.

In our area we will lose $7.5 million in the payroll shortly, 15 per cent of the total income for the region will be taken out, and that is 30 per cent of the total income for the region. We are on our hands and knees. We will be looking for more help from our provincial government. I commend all members for speaking today. I commend all members for their thoughts and their support. The Minister of Fisheries gave me a nod earlier because he had gone through an issue in Argentia with the close out of two squadrons in the late 1960s. He was very supportive of Argentia then and he is in the front benches now to support us again. I thank everybody here. God bless.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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


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

Motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there appears to be unanimity and I gather there is no need to divide the House formally.

Before we depart this happy place may I remind members that tomorrow we shall carry on with the interesting, informative and altogether superb discourse of my friend the President of Treasury Board, who -

AN HON. MEMBER: Entertaining.

MR. ROBERTS: Entertaining. Even when he doesn't intend to be, I say to him. Carry on with his discourse as he seeks approval of the modest pittance that he needs to run the Treasury Board and the Executive Council this year. We will be doing that tomorrow.

In response to enquiries which hon. members have raised with me, I do not anticipate the House will be asked to sit late tomorrow evening. Tomorrow is a Late Show day - gosh, Thursday already, how quickly time goes - so we will either adjourn the debate on the Estimates at 4:30 p.m., or at 5:00 p.m., should there be no Late Show. We will see how we get along with the remaining part of the Estimates of the Executive Council and the Legislative and CFS.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I will -


MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Friday?

MR. ROBERTS: Friday? I guess that depends on what we do on Thursday. I'm not trying to be coy, but if the debate on the Executive Council comes to its inevitable conclusion then we can do something else on Friday. If not, I guess we will have to look at making sure my friend the President of Treasury Board has his lunches paid for. I think that was one of the subjects we were debating yesterday.

I move the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., Sir.

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