November 15, 1994            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS        Vol. XLII  No. 61

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to inform the House that a very short time we reached a tentative agreement with the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Union. Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until they get a chance to go around and notify their membership.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

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

It is about time that we have reached a collective agreement with the nurses.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has expired.


MR. SPEAKER: I should note the Speaker does not make the rules, the Speaker merely enforces them.

Does the hon. Member for Bonavista South have leave to address the House?

Leave given.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to pay tribute to one of two only known surviving individuals that took part in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Ronald Dunn who passed away on September 8, 1994, since the House last sat.

Mr. Dunn was ninety-seven years old. He was a very courageous, brave soldier who took part in the Battle of Beaumont Hamel and was left on the battlefield for three days as a wounded individual, in that famous battle where 801 people took part and only 68 answered the roll call the next day.

After Mr. Dunn returned home he was very active in the cubs, scouts and rovers movement. He became the first president of Branch 7 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Bonavista, and was a very active community minded individual. For the last five years of his life he was confined to Golden Heights Manor in Bonavista and always maintained a very keen interest in community affairs and government affairs in his Province and in his town.

I would like to ask Your Honour if you would be kind enough to send a letter of condolence, or a card, to his two surviving sons, Bert and Eric Dunn from the town of Bonavista.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. Member for St. John's East have leave to address the House?

Leave given.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join with the Member for Bonavista South in asking the House to pass on the condolences of all hon. members to the family of Mr. Dunn. It is an opportunity for us, of course, to remember all those who did not survive the Battle of Beaumont Hamel which, of course, goes down in history as one of the most tragic events in the history of Newfoundland. I think the fact that there are still two surviving members of that battle is remarkable, or there were still two until recently, is a remarkable tribute to the longevity of Newfoundlanders. The family of course would be happy to hear the condolences of this hon. House, which I would imagine would be unanimous after the Government House Leader speaks on behalf of that side.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the circle grows ever smaller, and with the passing of Mr. Dunn I understand there is only one survivor left, a gentleman named Tobin who I believe lives in the United States. Maine, one of the United States. The only survivor of the July drive, July 1 1916, when the men of the Newfoundland regiment - it wasn't yet then the Royal Newfoundland regiment - wrote an immortal page in the history of this Island and this Province at an almost unbelievably high price in blood and the suffering that came for those who were wounded and who survived the battle.

We on this side would join with the other members of the House in asking if Your Honour would be good enough to direct the Clerk to send an appropriate letter to Mr. Dunn's survivors. I thank the hon. gentleman for Bonavista South for giving us the opportunity to acknowledge these men. It was at that battle, if memory serves me correctly, that a British general said: The only reason the Newfoundlanders went no further was dead men could go no further. It was at that battle. It is fitting this House should recall that, Sir. Thank you.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the Minister of Justice, the minister responsible for the regulatory regime governing the insurance industry in this Province, held a press conference. A number of things occurred, a number of things were said. One, the most startling I guess, was his analogy or his comparison, his brilliant use I suppose, of using the water glass, suggesting that if somebody were to sell this glass to me for fifty cents and somebody else for a dollar surely you would question that. Suggesting that anybody who got their insurance at lower premium rates then they should question that, or investigate that. That was kind of ridiculous because - well, there likely would be a lot of questions about the water glass, many more than about the insurance industry, because the government is responsible for regulating the insurance industry, and people feel pretty safe with it.

He also said at that press conference that: All reasonable precautions were taken to protect consumers. That is a quote. I have a couple of quick questions I would like to ask the minister right at the beginning. If that is true, then why today, only eighteen months after Hiland Insurance was originally licensed, do 20,000 people in this Province stand to lose $20 million in insurance premiums? How is it possible that things could have gotten so far out of hand so quickly, especially in a new small operation that any prudent regulator should have monitored closely for at least its first year of operation? Could he answer those questions?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I begin the answers - and I am glad to have a chance to address these things - Your Honour, may wish to remind people in the gallery, that while they have every right to be here and think whatever they wish, they do not have a right to participate.


MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, if hon. gentlemen opposite want the answers, they are going to have - Mr. Speaker -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would like to hear the hon. gentleman's speech.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if hon. gentlemen opposite want the answers, they will have to do the same courtesy to me that I am more than happy to do to the Leader of the Opposition, and that goes for the gentleman, the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me come back to the question. First of all, I acknowledge that government are responsible, within the statutory requirements, for the regulation of the insurance industry. These have not changed in the last six, eight or ten years. The regulatory scheme that is in place in this Province today is the one that has been in effect for a number of years with one significant exception, we proclaimed in the law, about a year-and-a-half ago, an act which the previous government put on the books which does improve the degree of protection somewhat.

Secondly, the so-called quick questions by my friend, the Leader of the Opposition - he asked why 20,000 people have lost $20 million of premiums. The answer is, Mr. Speaker, there is not a word of truth in that statement. There were, I am told, approximately 20,000 policyholders at Hiland Insurance. Some have lost or may have lost premiums. I acknowledge that. I am not at all happy about it. Government will see what we can do about it but, Mr. Speaker, it is not correct - and I am glad that the hon. gentleman gave me the opportunity to deal with it - to say that 20,000 people have lost $20 million in premiums. What has happened is that people who bought insurance and paid for it, for a period in advance, may not get the benefit of their premiums. They will not get it unfortunately at this stage. If, for example, somebody went in two weeks ago and paid a premium for the next three or four months period, they will get, I believe it is sixty-five days coverage or whatever. It depends on the day when they paid it. They will get -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) forty-five.

MR. ROBERTS: Hon. gentlemen opposite are quick to say forty-five, they are wrong on that. It depends on when one paid the premium, and also, there is a date to be set by the court. It is beyond my control. But it is not correct and I am glad to assure my hon. friend this, that 20,000 people have lost $20 million in premiums. Now, his other point had to do -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Now, one question at a time. The gentleman also asked about the regulatory (inaudible). I have gone through it; as far as I can determine on the information I have been given, the regulatory authority, in particular, the Superintendent of Insurance, acted promptly when he became aware - and he became aware, as far as I can determine, as early as he could - that there were problems. Now, I am constrained in what I can say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I am constrained in what I can say, Mr. Speaker, because the papers have been referred to the police and I will remind hon. members - who may or may not care about this, but I will remind them - that the Supreme Court of Canada has said definitively, in a case arising out of the Starr incident in Ontario, that there can be no civil comment or civil controversy about a matter under criminal investigation unless one is prepared to forego any possibility of a criminal investigation and, if charges should be laid, in the laying of those charges. We have not taken such a decision.

Now, I suspect my hon. friend has some more questions.

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

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

I don't want to quibble with the Minister of Justice. The fact of the matter is, he did confirm there were 20,000 policyholders. If an average premium were $1,000, that is $20 million. I didn't say they would lose it, I said they stand to lose $20 million, so let's not quibble over that. The fact of the matter is there are thousands in this Province who will lose millions of dollars in insurance premiums, that is the truth of the matter. So all this other nonsense about not being able to - you know, restraining what he can say in answers, that is all nonsense; because the questions I asked him, are questions for which he, as Minister of Justice, has to be held accountable.

I heard an interview on CBC television last week; the minister perhaps saw it as well. It was an interview with a representative of the insurance industry in this Province, and he said that insurance representatives had raised with the Superintendent of Insurance and others in government, concerns about giving a license to Hiland in the first place, and, expressed concerns again later on, to that same superintendent and others in government about Hiland's rates and the numbers of policies that the government was writing. Now, they -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would like the member to phrase the question.

MR. SIMMS: They were obviously concerned, Mr. Speaker, that the company was taking on liabilities far in excess of its assets, so I want to ask the Minister of Justice, this simple, straightforward question: Did the representatives of the insurance industry or, did the Superintendent of Insurance tell you about any of those concerns, and if so, what did you do about it?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, again, I am more than happy to answer the question. I think the hon. gentleman was asking two questions.

First he asked: Were there representations made at around the time the company was granted a licence to do business?

MR. SIMMS: No, I didn't say that. I was quoting (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Okay, I am sorry. He was asking if there were, then. I am not trying to - if there were.

My understanding is that certain questions were raised, that they were addressed by the superintendent, and the superintendent dealt with them to his satisfaction or he, the superintendent, would not have granted the licence in the first instance.

MR. SIMMS: And you weren't made aware of that.

MR. ROBERTS: No, I wasn't aware of that. The first awareness I had came when I had a letter... I have been carrying on an ongoing correspondence with -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Okay. I have an ongoing correspondence with a representative of an insurance company in this city about a number of matters and, in the course of that, that gentleman raised some concerns about Hiland.

My friend, the Member for Ferryland, if he would like to ask a question, should get recognized by the Speaker. Then he can ask and we will try to answer it.

Now, let me come back. I was made aware of those, as I recollect, in December. I have a chronology here. Let me see if I can look it up. Yes, on 14 December, 1993, I received a letter expressing concern about Hiland's long-term viability. On 15 December, I asked the Superintendent of Insurance for a report, which strikes me as a reasonably prudent thing for a minister to do. On 5 January, I received a report. The superintendent responded to the letter. I got a copy on 20 January. I got a full report on 21 January, and I directed the superintendent - this is a quotation - "Please do whatever is necessary to protect the policyholders of Hiland", and the superintendent proceeded to monitor the company.

On 31 March - it was dated 31 March; in fact, it was received a day or two later - the report on Hiland by the independent auditors was provided to the Superintendent of Insurance, so the affairs were found to be in order. In other words, as of the 3rd or 4th of April, when the superintendent received the report of the auditors of the company, dated for the year ended 31 December, the affairs appeared to be in order. Mr. Speaker, that was one of the questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I don't have them here.

There was a second question my friend asked me.

MR. SIMMS: I asked you if you were aware of the concerns. That was the question.

MR. ROBERTS: Okay, let me finish. The answer was that I was aware in December, and the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the minister has answered the question. If the hon. member has a supplementary, I will allow a supplementary. It might be easier to get to the point.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is a danger that the minister could try to eat up the thirty minutes. We have other things we would like to ask him.

If he wants to, why doesn't he just table the letter so everybody can see for themselves. You can black out the individual's name if you have any concern in that way, but I would like him to table the letter. That is the question. Will he table the letter, perhaps before the House adjourns today?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Which letter, I ask my hon. friend?

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The one I sent to the superintendent?

MR. SIMMS: The concerns that were expressed (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I will table the letter I sent to the superintendent, without any problem. The letter that I received from the gentleman outside, I will not table without his permission. I will undertake to call him, and if he grants permission I will table it. I have no problem, but I wouldn't table a letter he wrote me. I will table my responses.

MR. SIMMS: Fair enough. We will look forward to getting them.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We will look forward to getting whatever information we can from the minister.

Mr. Speaker, the owner of Hiland Insurance, a Mr. Gillingham, I think is the name, had already been involved in two other insurance companies whose licenses had been revoked. Now, the minister said at his press conference he only became aware of that half-an-hour before, although it was on open lines and everything else for about two weeks before that, so it is surprisingly strange that he hadn't heard of it.

I want to ask him this: Isn't it a fact that according to section 16 of the act - that is, the Insurance Adjusters, Agents and Brokers Act - that the Superintendent of Insurance can refuse to licence an individual or company who had a previous licence revoked? Given that fact, and given the warnings from the industry that he just told us about, in fact, why was Mr. Gillingham's application for a licence processed so routinely, as described by the minister in his press conference?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the Insurance Companies Act - I now have it in front of me, section 16.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, but 16 is a long one, I say to my friend - well, section 16 covers three pages. I'm not going to give an opinion on it right at this minute. I have it here. When I read it - I can read it. Let me assume that the superintendent has a discretion to refuse a licence. It would be very unusual if he did not. Let me then come to the suggestion that Mr. Gillingham was involved with two failed insurance companies. The information I have been given is that he may have been involved - and I will deal with that in a minute - with one insurance agency. Now, I'm not trying to play word games but there is a distinction between an insurance agency and an insurance company.

He was involved with a company called All Star. That was run by a man named Mr. Doug Atkinson who used to be a city councillor and who now stands charged criminally -

AN HON. MEMBER: We all know that.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the hon. gentleman may know that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - but I want him to know that everybody else knows it, too.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Gillingham, I am told, was involved with All Star. He ended up falling out with All Star and, in fact, sued All Star and Mr. Atkinson because of the allegation that Mr. Atkinson was doing things with All -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) will he answer the question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the minister would continue.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I am trying my best to answer the question. If the hon. gentleman will not so rudely interrupt.

Mr. Gillingham was involved with All Star. He and Mr. Atkinson had a falling out. It led to litigation. The litigation, according to the information I have been given, was settled on terms, one would assume, satisfactory to both by settlement. (Inaudible) Mr. Gillingham showed as vice-president of that company. I have seen no suggestion that All Star itself was a problem. I have seen - not I've seen, I mean, I know for a fact that Mr. Atkinson has been charged criminally with certain matters arising out of these transactions. I can say no more about it. The matter is before the courts. The charges were laid by the police in this jurisdiction.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) revoked.

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) licence (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The licence may well have been - licenses are revoked from time to time. This is the third time, Mr. Speaker, in my time as Minister of Justice, that I have had to suspend or to put in trusteeship the licence of an insurance company in this Province.

MR. SIMMS: Why was this new licence issued so routinely? That was the question I asked.

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the question was: Why was a new licence issued? and the hon. gentleman said: `issued so routinely'. I'm afraid I must tell him that he is mistaken. It wasn't issued by me, it was issued by an official for whom I am responsible.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I didn't say it was routinely at all.

Mr. Speaker, the Superintendent of Insurance went to a great deal of effort to determine whether a licence should be issued. Here is what Hiland provided at the superintendent's request: a detailed business plan, which included a description of a business to be conducted; management structure; re-insurance arrangements and pro forma financial statements for three years; details of shareholders, directors and auditors; details of proposed investment policies; opening audited balance sheet of Hiland which confirmed paid in capital; conformation from shareholder that capital was unencumbered and that no premiums held in trust by related insurance agency would be used to capitalize or fund Hiland's operations; and confirmation from reinsurers that the reinsurance program was in place with reinsurance licensed in Canada.

The superintendent informs me that the Hiland application for license was the subject of extensive analysis and review over a three month period prior to the approval of the license on January 28, 1993.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the minister has answered the question. I ask for a supplementary.

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, that is what the superintendent did.

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

MR. SIMMS: The minister can try his best to stonewall all he wants. If he cannot answer a question straightforwardly then it is better that he not stand to answer at all. That would be my recommendation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Let me ask him about another very serious piece of information. The fact of the matter is that under the same Act I referred to earlier, the Insurance Adjusters Agents and Brokers Act, Section 12, I will quote for him as it is only two lines. `A license issued under this Act expires on a prescribed date in the year in which it was issued unless it is sooner revoked or suspended.' That means that this particular license issued to Hiland Insurance back in January 1993, re-issued in January 1993, had actually expired by this December past, 1993, so the fact of the matter is a new license was issued only six or seven months before this company went bankrupt.

Now, I want to ask the Minister of Justice, with all the information that the government surely has amassed on this issue, and did by the end of 1993, why on earth did the government re-issue a new license just six or seven months before the company went bankrupt? Explain that.

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

MR. ROBERTS: The license issued to every insurer, or anybody else under the Act, is for a calender year at a maximum and is renewed. The license for Hiland was renewed at the end of 1993, or early in 1994, whenever the period came up. The reason it was renewed, Mr. Speaker, is that the superintendent at that stage had satisfied himself there was no reason not to renew it, so the superintendent did renew it. The minister does not get involved in this.


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if anybody thinks for one minute that the Minister of Justice sits down and reviews every license application for all of the 164 statutes for which I am responsible, including the Insurance Agents Act, or if anybody thinks I sit down and review all the insurers or agents, or brokers who are licensed, let me disabuse them now. That is not the case or should it be the case. The superintendent is a senior official. He has resources to do his job and he does his job.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I was aware, because of the letter to which I referred in December, that a competitor had a concern. It was raised by me the day after I got it with the superintendent and my instructions to the superintendent, when I saw his report, were to do whatever is appropriate to protect the interests, and he did what in his judgement he considered to be appropriate. I am not going to try and second-guess that.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: If the lady for Humber East wants to ask a question let her rise.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we are getting at the nub of this. The minister actually knew, he finally confesses here today, he knew there were concerns so much so that he wrote the superintendent of insurance himself and asked him to investigate it. Then he tells us he washed his hands off it. He did not ask for a report back from the superintendent of insurance. Is that what he is trying to tell us?

MR. SPEAKER: The question please.

MR. SIMMS: This is unbelievable. In addition to all of these circumstances that I described and others have described publicly, the minister also admitted in his press conference that Hiland had been delinquent in submitting reports to the superintendent. The minister mentioned that, so I want to ask him, were there any other warnings of serious trouble? Had the company, for example, this company, been late in paying corporate insurance, or RST sales taxes to the government, either this year or last year, because surely he must have investigated that? Can he answer that question?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question I must correct the hon. gentleman's premise. He has a habit of stating something as if it were a fact when in fact it is not a fact. He says that Hiland was remiss in filing reports. Hiland was due to file an annual report by March 31 and I am told it was received on April 3 or 4. That may be remiss in one sense of the word but if it is remiss there are thousands of people who are remiss all the time with that kind of thing, including hon. gentlemen opposite from time to time I venture. Now his other question was whether Hiland had failed to make other payments? My answer is, as far as I know, no.

MR. SIMMS: Did you ask?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

`As far as you know.' In other words you did not ask, you have not investigated, you have not checked it out. Is that fair to say? I will ask him to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Not correct. You did ask and they do not owe RST, is that correct?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I have made inquiries. As far as I am aware they do not owe anything. I do not know what they owe today. I do not know whether they owe any RST or not. The company is now in the hands of a court appointed receiver who will answer to the court for that. My friend the Minister of Finance collects RST and he is assiduous and effective in collecting the RST owed to the government.

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

MS. VERGE: He might be more effective then you are in regulating insurance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

I take it he has come to end of the line of questioning.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I think we have exposed a fair bit here today. At noon, in front of the Legislature, as the minister knows, representatives, I don't know, in excess of a couple of hundred I guess, representatives of the 20,000 policy holders who stand to lose millions of dollars as a result of the collapse of Hiland Insurance Limited, demonstrated outside this Chamber. They are demanding a public inquiry into the failure of this company and into the governments failure as a regulatory agent to act quickly enough to protect or warn these policy holders. He knew of these concerns as far back as last December, he tells us. There is other evidence to point out that this matter does warrant such an inquiry. So I want to ask the minister straight out, will the government order a public inquiry into this mess?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the government - neither the minister nor the officials have anything to hide in this at all. It is an unfortunate situation and I am the first to acknowledge that several thousand people have lost or may lose some money. They have not lost anything yet in the sense they may get it back but they may not and I am the first to acknowledge that and that is real.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I do not know that. In fact I spoke to the -

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to deal with interruptions. If the hon. gentleman from Kilbride wants to ask a question I would be happy to try to answer it.

What I will say to my friend the Leader of the Opposition is that we cannot order an inquiry until the criminal process has run its course. Now that is not my rule, it is not the governments rule, it is a rule laid down by the Supreme Court of Canada. I have taken advice from the criminal law office's of the Crown and they say: Minister, you have a choice, you either let the police investigation - which is being done by the RCM Police - run its course on either charges or no charges and have an inquiry or you have an inquiry now, in which case you forego any possibility of being able to lay charges. Now I know a great deal more about this than I can say publicly for obvious reasons. I have had reports from the superintendent - my direction in the matter was sent to the police. At the time I put all three companies in trusteeship in the sense of putting the superintendent in to run them. It was a month later that they were made insolvent.

When I gave the direction under the Insurance Companies Act, to place Hiland and those two agencies in trusteeship, with the superintendent running them on the 3 of October, neither the superintendent nor I, nor anybody else had any idea these companies were insolvent. The reasons they were put into the state of trusteeship had nothing to do with insolvency. Now I cannot go beyond that but I can say that. What I will say on the inquiry, is we will - my colleagues and I in the Cabinet have not had a chance to address that issue - we will address it and if there is a purpose to be served by an inquiry - if there is any suspicion at the end of the day that anybody has done anything wrong that can be addressed by an inquiry, I am quite sure that Cabinet will be minded to take the proper steps. We have nothing to hide and are quite happy to have the whole world know that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The minister has answered the question.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to ask the Premier today if he will confirm that the mechanical outfitting contract which Vinland lost, which was awarded last year to M & M Construction of Dartmouth for $114 million, is now gone over by $16 million? Will he also confirm that M & M will not be responsible for this cost overrun because the contract has now gone cost plus?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I have no idea whether that is so or not. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that the amount of work to be done under the contract had significantly increased. I would expect that the amount of work to be done under the contract has significantly increased for maybe 50 per cent or 75 per cent of the contracts issued, so that comes as no surprise to me if that is in fact the case, but if the member thinks it is of significance I will endeavour to find out, or I will get the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to find out, and bring the information back to the member. I don't see any particular significance in it.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Premier that we see a lot of significance in it when you consider that they got it for $104 million and Marystown's bid was $114 million, and now they are $16 million over what they bid for it. Why didn't Marystown get it, if it was going to be that high? That is very significant, I say to the Premier, and I can assure him that it is of importance to me and the people of the Burin Peninsula, and we would like to know what it has gone to and if it is cost plus.

I want to ask the Premier then, Mr. Speaker, when Vinland decided the amount to bid on the drilling modules, were the government and the board advised by their Norwegian - well, I don't think they were their Norwegian partners at the time, but they were still involved, the Kvaerner people - were they advised at that point in time that their bid was $6 million less than what they should be bidding?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Were they advised by the Kvaerner people that the bid they were submitting on M-71, M-72 was $6 million less than what they should bid?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't know, but I will make an enquiry, or I will get the minister to make an enquiry, and find out, but I want to address the first comment that the member made, that he sees some great significance that if this contract has now gone up by $16 million to $120 million. I can only say it is a reasonable assumption that if Marystown had gotten the contract it would have gone up by the like $16 million to $130 million, so I don't read any particular significance in it, and I don't think I should let the member make the suggestion that there is without expressing the contrary view.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Premier this: If he is not concerned, and there is nothing significant about it, why is there such a fuss about a cost overrun on a $35 million project that is now taking place in Marystown?

Let me further ask him: Isn't it a fact that the cause of delays and cost overruns on the drilling modules that he has now, together with HMDC, decided to put in St. John, New Brunswick, is it not a fact that that was close to two months late in awarding the contract - HMDC were six to eight weeks late in awarding the contract? Would he also confirm that there has been in excess of 1,600 changes to the design work that had been submitted to the Marystown workers in order to get the work done?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The first question was: If there was no concern about the cost overrun that has occurred, why is there concern about the cost overrun now in the case of the M-72, and there wasn't a concern. The cost overrun was not a factor in the consideration - not a factor at all in what happened. The cost overrun was not a factor in that decision.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read your letter.

PREMIER WELLS: My letters are clear. The cost overrun -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Ken Hull.

PREMIER WELLS: I have no responsibility for what Ken Hull says or doesn't say. He may view this as a concern. It wasn't a concern from the government's point of view. We didn't want to see it happen, but the government didn't -

MR. TOBIN: Why are you prepared to accept his argument on the (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: But it has nothing to do with cost overrun. The argument with respect to the M-72 and M-73 was that it would delay the overall project. That I cannot quarrel with. I disagree with him, but I cannot substitute my judgement for theirs and take the responsibility for a possible delay in the overall project. I wouldn't do that. It would be grossly irresponsible, and I would suggest to you that whether you were responsible for government or not, it would be equally irresponsible to do that.

Now there were two or three other questions, and if I recall correctly -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) six to eight weeks late in awarding (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, they were six to eight weeks late in awarding and the time for completion was extended by an equal amount of time.

MR. TOBIN: 1,600 changes (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: There may well have been 1,600 changes, I don't know but I will ask the minister to find out whether or not there were 1,600 changes; that seems like an inordinately high number but it may well have been that there were some significant changes and there were not, and if there were changes -

MR. TOBIN: That's not part of the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: That is not my understanding of it. I have no doubt that the changes caused a significant part of the problem and that is the position we are taking with HMDC, and we will claim compensation for any adverse consequences to Marystown as a result of changes introduced by HMDC to the full benefit of whatever the contract may allow, and, Mr. Speaker, that will be left to be worked out between the parties or, failing that, to be resolved by courts as is the ordinary process but this had nothing to do with this decision. HMDC took this decision solely on the basis of their concern about the delay, solely on that basis.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you -


MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table reports of the public tendering acts exceptions for the months of June through to September 1994.


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

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. REID: I table the annual report, Mr. Speaker, for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation.

Notices of Motion

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 To Ratify, Confirm And Adopt An Agreement Entered Into Between The Government Of The Province And Corner Brook Pulp And Paper Limited," Bill No. 42.


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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition. The plea of the petition is as follows. It is addressed to the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened.

The petition of the undersigned clients of Hiland Insurance. Whereas the demise of Hiland Insurance has caused great hardship for its clients, and whereas the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has failed in its responsibilities to satisfactorily regulate the financial affairs of Hiland Insurance, therefore your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to conduct a public enquiry into all matters associated with the demise of Hiland Insurance.

Mr. Speaker, today in the lobby of the hon. House of Assembly there gathered a great number of citizens in the greater St. John's region who have been not only inconvenienced, they are out of pocket tremendous sums of money, and they have failed to get the necessary insurance protection that that money was supposed to have bought. Today we have a petition which was put together in the lobby of the House earlier this afternoon. I can assure hon. members that this is just but one of a great number of petitions which will be coming before this House if the Minister of Justice chooses not to act on the prayer of the petition.

The minister said earlier this afternoon that he will see what the government can do about this problem. On the television a few nights ago he paraded the old caveat emptor scenario, buyer beware. He said to the people, the 20,000 people who had bought those policies: You should have been noticing if your insurance was only one-half of what you could have gotten elsewhere, there you should have said, why is that so cheap? I should ask questions about that. Why am I getting such a good deal from Hiland Insurance?

That is like going and saying to Dominion stores or to Sobey's, if you can get your bread at half price, why are they selling it so cheap and going and asking the other company why you got such a good deal. Caveat emptor is one thing. It is part of the procedures we have in a free enterprise economy. However, in this particular instance the government has a legislative responsibility to regulate, to monitor, and to govern the affairs of the insurance industry, and to ensure that these affairs are run according to the laws of this Province.

What we've seen today in answer to the questions put forward by the Leader of the Opposition is that government either knew or should have known, either knew something was wrong or should have known that something was wrong. Either one of these things says to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador: The Minister of Justice, who is responsible for the actions of his department, has failed in his responsibility and in the mandate that he was given by the people of this Province to govern the affairs, to regulate the laws and to assure the laws of this Province were regulated properly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it has been presented here that the principals of Hiland Insurance were in financial difficulty before. The Minister of Justice said that he knew about it in advance, however, did he do any follow up? Did he ask any questions? Did he bring the Superintendent of Insurance into his office and ask: What is going on here? No. The answer is no.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in the lobby of the House today, we had the example of people saying: We paid $150 in sales taxes on our individual policies,' therefore, they paid not only for the insurance protection, they paid taxes on these policies as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HODDER: Will the minister and the government say to these people, they will get some of that money back?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wholeheartedly support this petition calling on the government to have a public inquiry into the colossal failure of its insurance regulatory system. A failure that has resulted in 20,000 Newfoundland and Labrador insurance policyholders being without adequate protection, and many claimants hurting. We have heard from some of the individuals adversely affected, in the lobby today, at the demonstration.

We heard from a woman, Carol Whelan, who has been out of her house, due to a fire, since September, and now, she can't get back in and is threatened with eviction from her rented premises because the insurance proceeds that were supposed to be paying for the house repairs are not forthcoming, and the insurance proceeds that are supposed to pay for her rent in the interim have dried up. In the lobby, at the demonstration, we heard from an elderly gentleman, Mr. Bill Fry, who paid $500 for car insurance in September, less than two months ago, and he can't afford to pay another $500 or $600 or whatever it would cost to get substitute car insurance, so he is going to have to park his car for the winter.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice may not appreciate the extent of the damage that has been done through the collapse of Hiland Insurance and through the failure of his regulatory system, but, Mr. Speaker, thousands of individual Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their families are hurting because of this collapse. Many of those people simply do not have the wherewithal to get replacement insurance and, Mr. Speaker, there has to be a public inquiry to determine the causes of this failure, to determine whether it is a function of incompetence on the part of the minister and his staff, whether it is the result of negligence on their part. We are hearing that the minister and his staff were warned well in advance.

After all, the principal had been involved with previous insurance failures; this is a small Province, the insurance industry in the Province is small, there are few players and the minister and his officials were warned of the risk they were undertaking in issuing the license to Hiland in January of 1993. The minister today confessed that a year ago, he received a letter alerting him to the vulnerability of Hiland. He didn't act, and as recently as late October, people paid hundreds of dollars in premiums, as it turns out, for nothing, and it looks like now they are going to be expected to pay the same or more money to get substitute insurance coverage, or they may have to do without if they can't afford to do it.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice says that he can't order the public inquiry now because of an ongoing police investigation and I accept that, but there is nothing to stop the minister from telling us here and now, that he will have a public inquiry just as soon as the police investigation is concluded. Now, he can wait until he gets the police report before he announces the formal terms of reference and names the commissioner, but here and now, today, he can tell the public of this Province, and the insurance policyholders and claimants who are hurting, that he and his government will have a public inquiry to uncover what went wrong, to expose his own failing and that of his staff, to show how the Premier and the Cabinet were implicated, to reveal who they really were protecting. Were they protecting Mr. Gillingham and some corporate interests and contributors to the Liberal Party?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Were they neglecting the consumers and the insurance policyholders? which is obvious.

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday at his press conference, the Minister of Justice made the following ridiculous statement. He made the claim that our regulatory process picked up the problem and we acted quickly to protect the consumer. Well, how preposterous, how ridiculous!

Mr. Speaker, the minister had the gall to say on television that the policyholders, themselves, were to blame because they should have been suspicious since the rates were so low. Well, if the consumers were stunned, how much more stunned is the minister -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MS. VERGE: - since the minister is the regulator, and the minister had access to 'way more information than any individual consumer!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I may say a word or two about the petition -


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if hon. gentlemen opposite wish to speak, perhaps they should attempt to get the floor and follow the rules, but since I have been recognized, perhaps they will let me speak.

I don't have a copy of the petition before me, I say to my friend, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, and the hon. lady, the Member for Humber East.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Burin - Placentia West needs to void himself, perhaps he could leave the Chamber and let the rest of us get on with it.

Mr. Speaker, I treat this matter very seriously, and I believe that the House owes it to the men and women who are affected, and to all the people of the Province, to treat it equally seriously, and that is what I propose to do.

Let me deal first with this question of an inquiry. I think I heard my friend, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount sort of semi-threaten by saying: `Well, if you don't agree today there will be 1,000 more petitions.' My answer is: Let the 1,000 points of light come forward. He has a right to present a petition; he should feel free to present it - glad to hear him do so - but what I will say is to repeat the government's position. If there is a need for an inquiry, we shall have one.

MS. VERGE: And you don't see (inaudible) obvious.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the government have not, as a government, addressed this issue as yet, so I am not going to stand here and say what the government are going to do. What I will say again is that if there is a need for an inquiry, we shall have one. It is my judgement that there is nothing to hide.

Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. the Member for Humber East has at least had the good grace to acknowledge the merit of the point I made about the need to forego any civil inquiry, a Royal Commission or whatever form it might take, until the criminal charges have been disposed of (inaudible) charges laid, and there is no danger of prejudicing the right of an accused to a fair trial. She may wish to communicate with some of her colleagues about that because earlier they scoffed at that suggestion. She is the only lawyer on that side of the House, leaving aside my friend, the Member for St. John's East, who doesn't sit with the Opposition - at least physically. But she and I agree on that, that we cannot have any comment or inquiry into that aspect until the criminal matter is investigated. Now, whether or not charges will be laid is not for me to decide. My decision was to refer the papers to the police, and I did that as soon as I first saw them.

Mr. Speaker, let me deal with one or two other points that I think are important. The hon. the Member for Humber -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't interrupt the Member for Humber East. If she doesn't have the good manners not to interrupt, let her at least observe the rules of the House. Let her not act like sort of an unruly little child.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. lady raised one or two individual cases. I don't want to get into any individual case, but I would like to address a problem that at least one of these people has, and that is an individual who has a claim under a fire policy and has not had that claim paid, and I understand that is causing some difficulties with that individual, and with any other individual in the same case.

What I am assured is that the PACIS will respond to those claims. They had a meeting today by telephone of their board nationally and they have agreed to accept the claim put forward by the liquidator, Mr. Kirby, with whom I spoke just before I came into the House. He participated in this board meeting in part by a conference call. The PACIS have agreed to accept the claim put forward by the liquidator against PACIS in respect of Hiland. The claim of that particular lady she mentioned, I am told, will be honoured in accordance with the PACIS policy, which is $200,000. I have no idea what her claim was but I suspect a house claim would be less than $200,000.

There is then a problem with cash flow because the fire was some time ago and she, I understand, had engaged people to get on with repairing her house, and then she has been told by the liquidator: `Well, we don't know when we are going to get the money.' Of course, that puts her in a difficult position. That I will address and see what can be done. I will have to speak to the liquidator, I will have to take counsel from my own lawyers.

The matter is fraught with difficulties. The House should know, perhaps, that Mr. Gillingham has appealed against the order I made removing him from the management of the company. I have to deal with that. Because under the act, which has been on the books for many years, the appeal is to the Minister of Justice. Now, that is a difficult position, but I have one set of lawyers advising me on that. The superintendent of insurance has another set of lawyers downtown, a fine firm, Mercer, Benson, Myles - Mr. Wayne Myles; he is advising the superintendent and the liquidator.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time has elapsed.

Does the hon. the Member for St. John's East -


MR. ROBERTS: Okay, I thank my hon. friends.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. minister have leave to continue?


MR. SPEAKER: Yes, leave given.

MR. ROBERTS: I will only take a second or two. What I was saying is that Mr. Gillingham has appealed against my order, the order of 3 October, taking him out of the management of this company. So we are dealing with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: You just said that.

MR. ROBERTS: I know. That is what I said before I was interrupted. We have a criminal investigation under way; the liquidator is coming in and learning as he goes. When the superintendent went into possession of the company on 3 October, he was not aware of the insolvency. I can tell you, at the end of October he was aware. I've just been re-reading the affidavit which he filed with the Supreme Court on 4 November, in which he sets out what he knew and when he learned it.

AN HON. MEMBER: When (inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: When (inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: According to his affidavit, very shortly before he filed it. A day or two or three before he filed it. It was dated, I believe, 4 November. It is a public document. The hon. gentleman could get a copy of it from the court. It is the application for insolvency on which the - I forget which judge it was, but a judge of the Trial Division ordered the company insolvent.

MR. SULLIVAN: You were aware of what was happening (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I was aware in December 1993 that a company had raised some concerns and the superintendent addressed those fully and satisfied himself. The superintendent -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman, the Member for Ferryland, feels if he interrupts rudely he will somehow be able to take over the debate. What I say to my friend, the Member for Ferryland, is that the superintendent addressed those questions fully and completely and satisfied himself.

My instructions to the superintendent were simple. I'm reading now from a Minute I sent him on January 21 1994: `I share your concerns. My instructions are simple and straightforward. Please do whatever is necessary to ensure that the interests of those who placed business with Hiland are protected properly and fully.'

Now, what I cannot tell the House - I can go on to read the rest of this: The company must - and I underline the word "must" - maintain an adequate capital base and it must - and I underline the word "must" - secure adequate reinsurance. One can read into that, the concerns at that stage, Sir, were capital base and reinsurance. I went on: `We shall have no choice except to suspend its operations at once should it fail to meet both requirements.'

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: `Please keep me informed of developments as they occur.'

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, those were my instructions to the superintendent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think the hon. the Leader of the Opposition wants to be heard on a point of order.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we gave leave to the hon. minister in the hope that he had some additional new information to pass along to the policyholders and the people who are concerned. Nothing he is telling us now is new. But he did say earlier, with respect to the Minute that he just quoted from, that he would table it. Perhaps if he could table that, at least we would all have access to it. We could read it for ourselves without having to listen to the hon. minister read it, because it is probably fairly lengthy. He did say he would table it. I would like to ask him under the point of order to do that now, and he can continue to give us new information if he has any.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. the Leader of the Opposition prepared to permit the minister to continue?

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: I will conclude my remarks by simply saying I ask leave to table a document, which is a copy initialled by me of a directive I made to the Superintendent of Insurance dated January 21, 1994. Now, this happens to be the only copy I have here so I ask if the Clerk would arrange to have a copy come back to me at the end of that.

Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the minister will have another opportunity to speak because I have another petition on the same issue to the House of Assembly, noting the great hardship caused by the clients of Hiland, and asking that the government institute a public inquiry into all matters associated with the demise of Hiland Insurance.

Now, if the minister takes the position, and he appears to have done so publicly, that this is a case of the buyer having to beware, then he is ignoring the fact that this is a regulated industry where the fact of the matter is that it is because the buyer is unable to be aware of the intricacies of the operations of an insurance company, is unable to know what is going on behind the scenes and what kind of product they are buying, that there is a regulated industry here. If the minister is saying that an individual out shopping for a policy and going around getting a rate ought to beware when he finds out that somebody's rate is cheaper than another, what was the minister doing? If the buyer is supposed to figure all this out, why couldn't the minister, and the minister's officials, the minister's lawyers, and all the people he says he relies on, follow up on and regulate this industry?

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, unless the buyer is supposed to go out and shop around for the highest price, as the minister said, if you go for the highest price, then you are sure it will be okay, but if you go for the lowest price, which the competition is supposed to tell us, obviously, you should beware because this regulated industry that the minister is supposed to be looking after could fail.

Now, Mr. Speaker, either one of two things, either the laws and the regulatory procedure are inadequate, or the minister's actions are inadequate. Either the laws and the regulations aren't satisfactory to safeguard the policyholders, or the minister has failed his duty, or his officials have done so. That is a question that deserves to be answered and these individuals who have suffered as a result of this failure have a right to have those answers.

Mr. Speaker, we all recognize that the laws of the land as interpreted by the courts require that these procedures be followed in an adequate and a proper order. And if the minister has had cause to send this matter for investigation by the RCMP, well, then, that ought to take its course and hopefully it will be speedy, although the record of police investigations into commercial matters is not one of swift return of results.

In the meantime, we have heard allegations that even after the license was cancelled, premiums were being accepted by Hiland, and that is a very, very serious matter. I don't know how this was able to occur - perhaps the minister can comment on that.

Another point, too, that I think the minister ought to clarify for the current policyholders of Hiland, and this is not in the area of the property and casualty, or the homeowner insurance, but in the automobile insurance side of things, the minister has suggested - and this is something that perhaps should be clarified in the midst of all this barrage about losing their premiums. Could the minister confirm what his press release, issued through Newfoundland Information Services the other day said, those individuals who have automobile policies they purchased with Hiland, are advised if they continue to make their monthly premiums, or leave their business with Hiland, that they will be covered up to a maximum of $200,000 on claims. That is the advice that I saw on the Newfoundland Information Service press release issued by the minister. I think that is very important, Mr. Speaker.

We see advertisements in the papers, we see the competitors and the various other insurance agents looking for the business of the Hiland customers and they appear to be offering to replace the $200,000 policies as well as adding others. Will the minister tell those people that those policies they have now under $200,000, will still be honoured, that they don't have to take their chances on maybe or maybe not getting their premiums back, that that $200,000 policy is still good because it is guaranteed by the industry policy? Because there are people who have bought policies (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: Perhaps the minister can deal with that question when he rises.

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

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

I stand to support the Member for St. John's East petition dealing with the Hiland Insurance bankruptcy situation. I am surprised today to learn from the Minister of Justice that he became aware of this situation in December, 1993. Two Saturdays ago in The Evening Telegram I called for a public inquiry into this situation and the minister stated in The Evening Telegram then that it was nonsense, no need of it, none whatsoever, that his officials, he himself and the government that he represents acted quickly and in an appropriate manner.

Now, Mr. Speaker, however you wish to address this situation, the reality is this, 20,000 people of this Province were ripped off and were robbed by an insurance, businessmen in this Province - an insurance industry, Mr. Speaker, that was supposed to be regulated by the Provincial Government. Now, the minister has just tabled - if I can get the minister's attention for a second - the minister has just tabled a letter that he sent to Paul Tapper. He said, `Thank you for your Minute about the situation with Hiland Insurance Limited.' Now, let me ask the minister of Justice, the Attorney General, this: Would he table the Minute that Paul Tapper sent him, dealing with the Hiland Insurance Industry Limited? Because all we see here is a thank you letter from the minister to one of his officials. What we really need to get at, Mr. Speaker, is when Mr. Tapper became aware and informed the minister of this situation, because therein lies the rotten egg, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Therein lies the real answers to the questions that we seek in the House today, and therein lies the answers to the questions that 20,000 people, fellow-Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, seek to this answer here.

Now, Mr. Speaker, another situation in which the minister said he is convinced that his officials acted appropriately. Why then did Mr. Tapper not pursue with Hiland Insurance to have them put their financial statements on the line, when they should have done it three months previously? Knowing full well the situation that had been brought to his attention, why was he so comfortable in giving Hiland Insurance the benefit of the doubt before he accepted their financial statements? That is a question that he must answer and that the minister must answer on his behalf.

Another issue that must be dealt with, which was referred to by the Member for St. John's East, is that Hiland Insurance accepted premiums up until the day it was closed, Mr. Speaker. People who spoke to the Director of Insurance, Mr. Tapper, asked him as late as October 10: `Should I renew my policy with J. J. Lacey? Is that company in trouble? Will I lose my money?' The answer from the Director of Insurance was no, it was safe for them to proceed to pay their premiums. People at that time, as late as October 10, as I can determine from my own constituents, some paid $1,500 for the entire year, October 10. Some paid $2,500 in the middle of October for the full year's premium. And this government stood by, held their noses, while a company like J.J. Lacey and, in particular, Hiland Insurance, robbed the people of this Province. There is no excuse, Mr. Speaker, for this minister to stand up and say he does not have enough evidence to call for a public inquiry. As the Member for Humber East said, there is no reason why he cannot commit today, to this Legislature and to the people affected, that he will call a public inquiry once the criminal investigation has been completed. Why he will not do that is beyond me and it is certainly beyond the 20,000 people affected. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have already dealt with the situation of the public inquiry and there is nothing I can usefully -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - there is nothing I can usefully add to that so I won't attempt to say anything more on that point for the moment; but I do want to take issue with my friend, the Member for Kilbride, who has been unwittingly misinforming the House. He said I made a comment of nonsense and that is correct, with a respect to a comment of his, and that is correct; but his comment was, that I knew about the troubles or whatever they were and the Cabinet knew about the troubles, I forget his exact -

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: The Minister of Justice in Question Period today -

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

The Chair has not recognized the hon. member yet.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

The Minister of Justice confirmed my suspicion today in Question Period when he acknowledged that he received information in December, 1993. If there was any comment that was nonsense, Mr. Speaker, it was his and not mine.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, that is typical of Byrne Secundus. He just doesn't know the rules and he doesn't know what he is saying most of the time, and he insists on proving it. Now, what he said in The Evening Telegram was that the Cabinet or myself, or both, were aware of this thing several months ago and the inference was: we were `covering up', to use a word he likes. The only thing he should cover up is his head in shame and confusion.

Now, let me come back to my friend, the Member for St. John's East, who did make some sensible points, unlike the Member for Kilbride, and there are a couple of points to which I would like to respond. First of all, I thank my friend, the Member for St. John's East for the acknowledgement that we cannot hold an inquiry into this in the civil side until we have dealt with the criminal side of it. My instructions to the RCM Police are to get on with the investigation and to do it as quickly as they can. That is all I can possibly instruct them to do and that is all I intend to instruct them to do.

He also asked about the license being cancelled and premiums being accepted. It is correct, in my understanding, that the superintendent, when he went in to the management of the business on 3 October, through his agents continued to accept premiums and he did so until the time when he became aware that the company was insolvent.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kilbride, if he, too, wants to void himself, should go to the proper place and not make a spectacle of himself in the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, let me come back. I treat this matter seriously and I ask hon. members opposite to do the same. The matter of acceptance of premiums is one that will have to be dealt with in the appropriate time. It is correct.

Now, my friend, the Member for St. John's East, who is not listening to the answer but presumably will get it from Hansard if he is really interested in having the answer, asked about the $200,000 limit provided by PACIS, and my understanding is that a person who is insured with Hiland - now, not all of it is written by Lacey or the central - the other one was with Hiland, a large part of it was, some was with other insurers and that is not affected by this. The business placed with Hiland, however, the policies will be honoured up to the $200,000 limit imposed by law for a claim, to use the legal term, a cause of action arising before the cut-off date.

Now, the cut-off date is not yet set. It is to be set by the court and it will be set, I understand, at a time not later than forty-five days from the declaration of insolvency. And the reason for that period is, after insolvency, it gives the individuals an option to go out and effect other insurance. So, if somebody is insured with Hiland and had an accident on 5 October that rendered that person liable legally to pay damages to another person, and then the insured person looked to his or her insurer, Hiland, to compensate them, to indemnify them within the limits of the policy of 200k, my understand is, that will be done. That is the same as with the lady who had her house burned and made a claim under her property insurance policy.

Now, I would also say to my friend, the Member for St. John's East, that in my judgement, he has it right when he says one of two things happened or, one of three things happened. Either the regulatory scheme is inadequate - that may be the case. The regulatory plan, scheme, arrangement or whatever you want to call it, that is in place in this Province, I am told, is the same as that in place throughout Canada, it is the same as has been in place throughout all of the last ten or fifteen years. It may be inadequate. I am not able to render a judgement on that at this time.

MR. E. BYRNE: May I put a question?

MR. ROBERTS: No. Mr. Speaker, I am not interested in questions from Byrne Secundus. Don't trouble me, I say to him, when I am trying to deal with serious matters raised by serious members.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. ROBERTS: So soon!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if I may I would ask if Your Honour would be good enough to call Motions 3 through 9, Sir.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Pensions Funding Act," carried. (Bill No. 35)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Fish, Food and Agriculture to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act," carried. (Bill No. 33)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Education and Training to introduce the following bills:

"An Act To Amend The Teachers' Association Act," carried. (Bill No. 37); and

"An Act To Amend The School Trustees' Association Act," carried. (Bill No. 29)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act," carried. (Bill No. 40)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Environment to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act," carried. (Bill No. 34)

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting Advance Health Care Directives And The Appointment Of Substitute Health Care Decision Makers," carried. (Bill No. 41)

On motion, Bill Nos. 35, 33, 37, 29, 40, 34 and 41 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I ask Your Honour to call the order of business that we will be debating today, perhaps I could be allowed a minute to report to the House on the results of the consultations and enquiries made overnight about Private Members' Day tomorrow.

My information, which comes from the Clerk, and I believe is acknowledged by the Member for Grand Bank, the House Leader for the Opposition, is that on Wednesday, 25 May - these are Wednesdays - we debated a motion put down by the Member for Placentia, which would obviously be an Opposition day. On Wednesday, 1 June, we debated one that stood in the name of my friend, the Member for St. John's North, which was obviously a government day. That would make 8 June, in the normal course, an Opposition day; however, by agreement among the two parties and the Member for St. John's East, who is not a party although he represents one - in fact, he may be the party, I understand - but among the three of us, it was agreed that on 8 June, we would have a foreshortened debate on the Newfoundland Pony, where there was unanimity among the Members of the House, and we would then go on to deal with government business. So, in my understanding, that makes the next Private Members' Day, i.e. tomorrow, an Opposition day, and I understand that my friends opposite wish to debate the motion in the name of my friend, the Leader of the Opposition. So, assuming Your Honour concurs, that will be the motion debated tomorrow.

With that said, I would ask if we could deal first with a bill that stands in the name of my friend -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't want to take time to interrupt too much before we get to Orders of the Day, because I know we want to get on and do some government business.

I was tempted to rise yesterday, but in light of the emergency debate on the Marystown shipyard situation, I didn't do it. It is a matter that I ask Your Honour to consider. Just a few weeks ago the Premier announced a number of appointments for some of the private members opposite, and in so doing, he appointed the Member for Bellevue, who is the Assistant Deputy Speaker, to be a legislative advisor to the Minister of Education and Training. Therefore, that questions the impartiality of the Member for Bellevue to be able to sit in the Chair. As a legislative advisor to a member of the Executive Council, I would submit to Your Honour that that takes away the impartiality of the Member for Bellevue, and that he really cannot sit in the Chair.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have to be kidding!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I am not kidding, I say to the minister of - what is it now - `minister of get around', `minister of rickshaws and hot baths'.

Mr. Speaker, I submit, and I ask you to take it under serious consideration, whether or not now the Member for Bellevue can rightfully take his place in the Chair as assistant Deputy Speaker. I submit to Your Honour that he can't. Because, as an advisor to a minister, a member of the Executive Council, certainly, he cannot be impartial. It is no reflection on the Member for Bellevue. That is not the intent whatsoever, but we can't have a parliamentary assistant or a legislative advisor or any such person, sitting in the Chair of this House proceeding, watching and observing and running the affairs of this House if he is not impartial.

I submit to Your Honour that the Speaker or yourself take this under serious consideration and rule accordingly before the Member for Bellevue attempts to sit in the Chair again.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice is speaking to the point of order?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to the point of order if I may, Sir, yes.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I share the hon. gentleman's view that this is an important matter and I certainly do not fault him for raising it publicly, but I would like to say a word or two to it.

My friend, the Member for Bellevue, has accepted an unpaid position. The legislative advisors are not paid.

MR. SIMMS: That is irrelevant.

MR. ROBERTS: The Leader of the Opposition should try to observe the rules of order. He is being rude and he is interrupting -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - and that is out of order.

MR. SIMMS: You are lecturing me (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will gladly hear what my friend, the Member for Grand Falls has to say when he is recognized by the Chair. I heard my friend, the Member for Grand Bank, raising a matter and I would ask the same courtesy in return.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the point I'm making is that the hon. gentleman, the Member for Bellevue, accepted a position as an unpaid advisor. In other words, he is not a member of the Ministry. The Order in Council that establishes this position and the three other comparable positions makes it quite clear that these - they are all gentleman; none of the lady members are involved - all four of these members are not members of the Ministry. They are not even in the position of my friend, the Member for Eagle River, who is in the position I held many years ago, Sir, semi- in the Ministry -

AN HON. MEMBER: `Go-fer'.

MR. ROBERTS: I would rather be a `go-fer' than a `gone for', as are some of the gentlemen opposite.

Mr. Speaker, the point is, the hon. gentleman, the Member for Bellevue, has accepted an appointment under which he renders certain advice and performs certain services to my friend and colleague, the Minister of Education, and I suggest that is appropriate.

Now, whether or not he should sit in the Chair of the House is a matter for the House to decide, not on a point of order. There are other mechanisms to raise it. I would point out that the traditions of this House and any other comparable House of which I'm aware, are that the Speaker takes no part in the debates of the House but that the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chair of Committees, the other two Table officers, the permanent Table officers of the House, have seats in the House, speak in debates, vote in debates, participate in the affairs of the House, in the same way as any other member. Only the Speaker withdraws himself from debate.

The Speaker has no desk in this House except the Speaker's Chair. He does not speak in a debate, to make a ruling or what have you, he takes no part in debate, and he votes only to break a tie. So, I would suggest that my friend, the Member for Bellevue, is consistent with the traditions of this House, consistent with the rulings of this House, consistent with the spirit of this House. I suggest accordingly, there is no point of order, and if my hon. friend, the Member for Grand Bank, wishes to raise it in another forum, we can deal with it in another forum. But I suggest there is no point of order before the House. I could tell my friend outside the House some ways in which he could raise it, as a matter of privilege, possibly, or when the Deputy Chair of Committee takes the Chair, he could raise a challenge there in the normal way.

I submit, Mr. Speaker, there is no point of order before the House now.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will take the point raised by the hon. the Member for Grand Bank under advisement and report back to the House.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Leader of the Opposition -

MR. SIMMS: On a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: A new point of order?

MR. SIMMS: Yes. Since Your Honour is taking notice of the point of order raised by the Member for Grand Bank, just so this matter is not dismissed lightly - not suggesting Your Honour would dismiss it lightly - but not dismissed lightly, because it is not truly in the technical sense a point of order, I will raise a point of privilege, if I may.

It is related to the same issue but I will try to give Your Honour some citations that will assist Your Honour in consideration of this point. Now it is all fine and dandy for the government House Leader to stand in his place today and make the arguments that he made. I would have expected him to make those very arguments quite frankly.

The reality is, Mr. Speaker, that the individual that we are talking about and while we are not talking about the individual personally, we are talking about the Member for Bellevue who has accepted a position as a legislative advisor, I think it is called now-a-days, other days it has been called parliamentary assistant and so on, to a member of the Executive Council, to a Cabinet minister and that is quite different from merely helping a minister in carrying out his duties and so on. In fact, I suspect the only difference in this particular case is the fact that the member is not receiving remuneration as a legislative advisor. The intent clearly is to give that individual and the other individuals appointed, a chance to have some input into the process. A chance to be close to the scene, perhaps groom them as potential ministers and all the rest of those kinds of realities.

To serve as a legislative assistant or legislative advisor, from my perspective, eliminates that individual as a candidate to occupy the Speaker's Chair on a regular basis in the same way Your Honour does as Deputy Speaker. I do not think Your Honour for one moment, would not consider it to be a conflict if he had accepted a legislative advisory position to a Cabinet minister as well. I just do not think that that would be appropriate.

In the case of the Member for Bellevue, we have an individual who is known as the Deputy Chairman of Committees but I guess in the eyes of many he is really the Assistant Deputy Speaker because he is regularly occupant of the Speaker's Chair. So I would argue very strenuously that this position should be filled by someone who has no direct partisan interest other than being a member of the party and the Speaker is that, but who is able to put forth impartially when it is required. Here is the quotation, Mr. Speaker, I want to give you for consideration because we all know the Deputy Chairman of Committees, as with the Deputy Speaker, according to Beauchesne, paragraph 185 in the 6th Edition, it says that the Deputy Chairman, "is entitled to exercise all the powers vested in the Chair." Now that is considerable power when you are sitting in the Chair and you are asked to look after the debates and chair debates in a highly spirited partisan forum like a legislative assembly.

In addition to that, there are many other references in Beauchesne, paragraph 178 talks about the Deputy Speaker being replaced by any member of the House from time to time. If this is the case the assistant deputy or Deputy Chairman of Committees "shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of the Speaker." Shall continue to perform the duties and exercise the authority of the Speaker and so on and that authority is considerable. That individual has the authority to name a person in the House of Assembly, has the authority to call to order any member who is irrelevant or he may think is out of order, and if he is party to partisan information, as a result of this position of a legislative advisor to a Cabinet minister, then I am not sure we would not have to question his impartially. I think that is at the nub of the argument, not the individual but the person who would accept such an appointment.

Mr. Speaker, in particular, if I may, I would refer Your Honour to the section in Beauchesne's 6th Edition, beginning in paragraph 167 and 168, particularly 168, "The chief characteristics attached to the office of Speaker, or in his stead" - I would read from that the Deputy Speaker or the Assistant Deputy Speaker, Deputy Chairman of Committees -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh yes it does. You go on to read it and it does say that. "... authority and -

AN HON. MEMBER: Paul Dicks will show you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - impartially are the chief characteristics of the individual that occupies that Chair." Mr. Speaker, "authority and impartially." So, Mr. Speaker, it goes on to say and here is the key quote, " Confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker is an indispensable condition of the successful working of procedure, and many conventions exist which have as their object, not only to ensure the impartiality of the Speaker but also to ensure that there is a general recognition of that Speaker's impartiality."

Now, I would have to submit to, Your Honour, from what you have heard today alone in my friend for Grand Bank's point of order, as well as my point of privilege, that there is concern about the impartiality of this particular person occupying the position that he does now occupy as a legislative advisor and sitting in the Chair. If there is that concern about the impartiality then I would think Your Honour would have no choice but to suggest to the Premier and to the government of the day that because this concern and lack of confidence exists, clearly it exists in the impartiality of that individual, that the government should appoint somebody other, or else the individual can resign one or two of the positions, and that would create another fiasco.

That would be the submission I make to Your Honour and I hope Your Honour will take that under advisement as well.

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

MR. ROBERTS: If I may say just word on the point of privilege raised by my friend for Grand Falls. Perhaps the hubbub could be a little less hub and a little more bub.

Your Honour, I do not want to be overly technical but we are into a technical area that is hypothetical. Your Honour may still wish to take the matter under advisement and to address it because at some point it will become real.

My friend for Grand Falls is casting, in my view, an incorrect gloss on the matter. The Speaker of the House is a unique officer holding a unique office. There are all sorts of conventions, customs, and traditions, there are some constitutional requirements and there are some requirements in the rules of this House. No other officer of the House, including the two table officers, the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chair of Committees, the Deputy Speaker being the Chair of Committees, no other officer of the House is in that position. They do, however, have an obligation to be impartial. My friend for Grand Bank read from Hansard and he skipped around a bit. He read what suited his cause.

Let me read him another citation that he no doubt did not come to when he was reading in Beauchesne. A selective quotation you know is always a dangerous thing. I will read all of Section 188 that appears on Page 54 of the same edition from which he was citing.

"Precedent has been created to the effect that incumbents of the Chair will refrain from speaking in debate." Incumbents of the Chair certainly should not speak. It would be most improper I suggest, Sir, for you to speak in debate while you are in the Chair.

However, the Speaker has ruled that clear restraints are imposed by the House only on the Speaker. Now, it is up to the House to determine its rules and its application. It is up to the members of the House to decide whether a member is partial or impartial. If any member of the House feels that the Chair, whoever occupies the Chair, is acting improperly then that member has a remedy. If I remember, I think I once brought in a motion of censure against the Member for Grand Falls while he was in the Chair on the ground that he was partial. That was my recollection. I can look it up in the Hansard.

Mr. Speaker, the point I make is (a) there is no point of privilege and (b) there is nothing in the rules, or the customs, or the traditions, or the conventions of this House, or in my submission any other House, that renders the gentleman for Bellevue incapable of accepting an invitation to serve as an unpaid legislative advisor. He is not a parliamentary secretary.

MR. SIMMS: It is the same thing.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Grand Falls thinks it is the same thing. It is not, Mr. Speaker. The parliamentary secretary held a whole specific (inaudible), there was a raft of them. There were five or six of them. They were called parliamentary secretaries.

There was a statute.

MR. SIMMS: There were four, same as legislative advisors.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there was a raft of them. They were paid handsomely. They were quasi-ministers.

MR. BAKER: That is all the back benchers you had too.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. My friend for Gander reminds me, that is all the back benchers there were in those days. Mr. Speaker, the point is that the legislative advisors are not comparable to parliamentary secretaries, they are not appointed under the authority of that statute, they don't hold an office in the way in which the parliamentary secretaries did, and they can't be compared too far.

It is for the gentleman for Bellevue to decide whether he can do both positions or not. I'm not here to speak for him; he is not here in the House at this moment to speak for himself. All I can say to Your Honour is whether you wish to deal with the matter or not is for Your Honour to decide. I would suggest, Sir, it is a matter that at best should be taken under advisement and then dealt with in the appropriate way and at the appropriate time. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will take the matter raised, consider it and report back to the House at the earliest possible time.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if we finally at 3:36 p.m. got to the Orders of the Day, let us ask if you would be good enough, Sir, to call Bill No. 30, which is Order No. 13, the second reading of An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act. My friend for Port de Grave has been waiting impatiently and anxiously, to use his word, since I believe last June to introduce this bill. If it is in order, Sir, I would ask you to call the bill.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act". (Bill No. 30)

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to finally, I say finally, be able to have the opportunity as Minister of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation to introduce to this House the enabling legislative framework, to bring in amendments and new legislation to improve highway safety, which I think, from a number of areas in the Province, and from a number of different groups - they've been lobbying long and hard to deal with highway safety and for government to place more emphasis on drinking and driving.

Since putting this legislation together and the research done by the departmental officials, I've had a number of people come to me and make some comments and to say: Why are you doing this? Why would you bring in legislation where 0.5 alcohol blood level would deter anybody, stop anybody, from driving a vehicle? It is not an impediment to highway safety or to the driving. I'm saying to the individuals of this Province: We are not saying to you where you can drink - drink a barrel if you want to, and drink any amount you want to. What we are saying to the individuals of the Province is: You cannot drink and drive.

I think that is the key factor here, the drinking and driving. I've looked at the accident statistics of any given year and I've brought some along to the House just to point out. I want to point out a couple of things here. In 1993 we had 113 alcohol-involved property damage accidents, 129 alcohol-involved injury accidents - sixteen of those accidents were fatal accidents - 217 were alcohol-involved injuries, and twenty were alcohol-involved fatalities. In most cases there are all sorts of readings, from 0.5, 0.6., 0.7, 0.8, and we can read it. The point here is not the reading we are talking about, the amount, the reading, the point here is the amount of alcohol contained in the blood level of anybody driving.

Considerable research has been done on this right around the country, right around North America, and from all the experts worldwide. This is not something new being introduced in the Province of Newfoundland only. This is being introduced right across Canada. Many other provinces across Canada are -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many provinces?

MR. EFFORD: I have a list of the provinces. If I remember correctly, I think eight of the provinces have brought in this legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good guess.

MR. EFFORD: I am guessing, because I don't have it here. I will find it in a second.

Mr. Speaker, I just can't imagine anybody in this Province arguing against improving highway safety, arguing against any agency or the government bringing in new legislation to prevent people from drinking and driving. I wonder what point the Member for St. John's East is trying to make.

In bringing in this new legislation - it is not going to be a criminal offence, in introducing this new legislation twenty-four hour roadside suspension. It is a regulation that we are bringing in under the Highway Traffic Act. We are going to establish the framework to suspend, for twenty-four hours, the driving privileges of any person apprehended driving a motor vehicle with fifty or more milligrams of alcohol in 100 millimetres of blood.

If any one individual is caught with .05 alcohol blood level, they will lose their licence for a twenty-four hour period. At the end of the twenty-four hours they would have to pay a fee of $100 to get their licence reinstated, so they are not only losing the ability to drive their vehicle for a twenty-four hour period, but it is also going to cost $100 to get their licence reinstated.

Secondly, if any individual loses their licence three times during a twenty-four month period - in other words, if they get three roadside suspensions for a twenty-four month period - they would then lose their licence for a two month period. I suspect that anybody who would lose their licence three times in twenty-four months, it is not hard to realize that they certainly must have a drinking problem, because once is often enough to get caught driving while under the influence of alcohol.

There are a number of other things that are going to be brought in in relation to this suspension. The other one is that the two other amendments we are bringing in while introducing this piece of legislation is that the fine for parking in a disabled parking area without a permit has increased from $20 to $45.

Also, we need to make some other changes to the Highway Traffic Act because we are bringing in the new photo driver's licence. That is another change I want to implement.

AN HON. MEMBER: In the same bill?

MR. EFFORD: In the same bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: That has to do when I introduced the ID one, but it has to be changed in the Highway Traffic Act because the present driver's licence requires a signature; you have to sign it. Under the photo driver's licence you can't do that, so you have to amend the Highway Traffic Act because of that, to remove the concept of endorsement of the licence. It is just housekeeping that has to be changed in doing this.

Mr. Speaker, I have had a number of letters from a number of groups of people around the Province to ensure, and the people who were concerned about introducing this new piece of legislation, and one of the groups that I want to make particular reference to has played a very important role, and that is Moms Against Drinking and Driving. You all know about the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

MR. EFFORD: I am sorry, drunk drivers. Mothers - well, moms, mothers, it is drunk driving.

In fact, just today I received another letter which reminded us of the incident back in 1991 where a young girl in Labrador was killed by an impaired driver in the community. You can quote statistics about the number of accidents where there are fatalities, whether there were nineteen or twenty or twenty-five in any given year. I think what is pointed out here by the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is very clear - that one life is too important to lose.

Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious from some heckling across the way that some of the hon. members back for whatever reasons, I will be glad to hear their comments when they stand on their feet and talk about this new piece of legislation where they are actually encouraging people to drink and drive. I keep hearing, what was the blood level alcohol of this particular accident in Labrador? I do not think it matters to the Mom, and I do not think it matters to the family or parents, I do not think it mattered to the young individual who is now dead because of somebody's drinking and drunk driving.

What we are saying to the people of this Province, is that, you have to be aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. Where do you take a shotgun - let me ask the hon. Member for Mount Pearl, in making his reference, whether you take a shotgun or you take a pistol, whether there are six bullets in it or if there is one bullet, it is still a dangerous weapon, and when you have an individual driving a vehicle with two drinks or three drinks or four drinks, he is dangerous behind the wheel of that vehicle, whether it is a boat, a truck, a car, an ATV or a snowmobile or whatever it is, he is not responsible for the actions he is dealing with, he is not capable, according to all the experts and research done by the medical profession that a person is not responsive to an instance of quick reaction when he or she is under the influence of alcohol to a .05 blood level.

Mr. Speaker, I have made my comments and I will be interested to hear and make notes of what the hon. members opposite who -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Oh no. I am going to say more because I am interested in hearing the comments from two or three members opposite about their opposition and their concerns that this is not good legislation. Mr. Speaker, just to conclude and I want to be clear on this because there is some concern expressed and some questions that were asked before I came in the House today; .05, on a roadside suspension will cause the device to come out, warn, that will lead to a twenty-four-hour suspension. If it reports up to fail, then they would be taken to the police station for a further testing which could be .08 or whatever.

With a twenty-four-hour suspension, automatically your license would be demanded on the spot on the roadside, and as I said earlier, if it happens three times within a twenty-four-month period, you would lose your license for a two-month period and then you would be required to complete a short high impact program an afternoon but that is not decided yet; it may be a day or maybe an afternoon where you would have a completion of a short, high impact prior to the reinstatement of your license. In other words, you would have to do a test or a questionnaire and some counselling before you would get your license back and that would include the $100 fee.

There is also an educational program which will be implemented by the Department of Education. The Department of Justice has some services to play and we are working with the Department of Health under the SSHHP program.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude now in anticipation of the hon. members opposite to give their full support and encouragement to keeping our highways safe.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no one, Mr. Speaker, against this bill, nobody. Nobody in his right mind anyway would be against the bill that is going to safeguard everybody.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Oh, I heard the Member for Eagle River open his mouth. Listen boy, are you a man or a mouse? Squeak up, for God's sake.

Mr. Speaker, we were looking forward to this bill earlier the fall.

MR. EFFORD: Earlier in the fall?

MR. CAREEN: Yes, it was supposed to be passed by the 15th of August. The minister had bragged on March 25 that it would have been in for Labour Day but he fell on his oars. I mean, I don't know, he is saying about the importance but it did not seem to be very important to the minister when he let it fall and it fell through and never got through by Labour Day, so I mean if you are going -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. CAREEN: If you are going to throw barbs, better be careful where you are throwing them. This bill is a good bill minister. This is a good bill but like any other bill, it can always be improved and I want to know what kind of expertise went into it, for there is debate regarding .05 and what it does.

Some people believe and know that the average of drunken driving is on a decline in this Province. We are about the seventh in the country. The average of the people who are caught drunk driving averaged out over a year these past three, four years is averaging about 1.51, 1.54. These are not the .5 with the two drinks on the way home from work.

AN HON. MEMBER: Point one five.

MR. CAREEN: Point one five, I'm sorry. The ones that we should be getting at are the habitual drinkers, the constant ones.

MR. EFFORD: We are.

MR. CAREEN: Yes, but you are taking all other people into account too. Last year there were 8,000 people, or some figure like that, hauled over to the side in this Province who got a warning at that time. This time they are going to be suspended. If they enforce it there will be more than 8,000. At $100 a jump, what does this come to?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. CAREEN: No, he is speaking. I thought I had the floor. Anyway, there is more money for the government. It is not always money for the government that is important, it is the safety of the people of this Province.

Concerns have been raised by the tourism industry, they have no trouble supporting the legislation, only parts of it they figure needs more debate, more knowledge. Other people, including myself, are advocating that there be some public hearings held across this Province to make people aware or let them have their input into these changes. It is very important that public hearings be held. It would be very important, because we have seen what happened in government in our last setting when governments don't involve people. That when governments don't involve people they all tend to fall on bad times. Because this is far-reaching legislation and good legislation, from my personal standpoint, the majority of it is good legislation, but I think that we should have it aired more to the people of this Province.

We are not talking about any great time lapses. There should be a small committee of this House struck to canvas a number of areas of this Province to get -

AN HON. MEMBER: They are already in place.

MR. CAREEN: It is in place, yes, like the Member for Bonavista South said, to put it in. The minister, obviously he doesn't know all about this bill and its far-reaching effects.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, he does not. What is the evidence to show that .05 blood alcohol level makes a driver a danger on the road? I mean, what evidence is there to show any of us? The minister talks about expertise. I haven't seen it. Who else has seen such expertise? I would like to be exposed to it myself. The minister doesn't have any expertise. I know he doesn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes he does.

MR. CAREEN: Probably it might be the likes of me might be down .05. If that is the case then the member is up probably higher.

I said earlier, nobody can support in their right mind drinking and driving. All of us, I'm suspecting, know friends or relatives or acquaintances in the graveyard because of being drunk. Some in an accident with someone who took someone else to the graveyard with him. It causes undue hardship and suffering on people, and not only those who die, those who get maimed because of people drinking and driving. Like the minister said earlier, and I concur, a car is a very dangerous weapon.

Another thing too in all this, and people know, is that - for instance, if you use the analogy of a padlock. A padlock is really meant for honest people. Honest to goodness people when they come to a padlocked door, is a reason enough for them to turn around and go the other way. Not everybody who has a car or who takes a drink is leaving one bar to go to another bar to have another drink and so on until they get polluted and are a danger to other people who are walking or driving on a highway, or even playing up in their yard like an incident that happened here last year in this city.

There is another thing, minister, and it is a debateable item, but it is possible. Some people say that the number of drinks - we all know that some person the same size as you or I go into a bar. I'm after having my lunch, my dinner, and someone else the same size accompanies me. The alcohol has a different effect on the person who has been hungry all day than the person who is fed. Okay? We acknowledge that.

But there is another thing out there too that says that - like a woman, a 100-pound woman, one drink is going to put her at .05. One drink! This is being disputed by some other people but it has been stated. I don't have the expertise, I'm asking for public hearings to get this stuff thrashed out. They say that a male of 100 pounds, it is .043. Less. So are we going to set up a law that could be discriminating against women? Is it possible?

This article I was told, and I will have to verify it later, has been disputed by some of the safety councils. I wasn't talking to them, minister - and I will share this little item with you after - but they give a number of examples. This one sticks out. Is it possible that 50 per cent of our population would be discriminated against by this legislation? That is worrisome. It is possible.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, I'm not finished. You wrapped up too quick. We are aware too - there was an article in The Evening Telegram back in September and they wondered as well about the constitutional effects. Because obviously they didn't know at the time that it was in eight other provinces.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Yes. The Criminal Code of Canada is .08. I've talked to a number of police officers, and like anybody else, like us over here, they support the bill. Some people were afraid it might be an administrative nightmare. Some people thought that Mounties should be at other things, or Constabulary officers should be at other things, that other things would be on the back burner but that is not the case. There is going to be no administrative nightmare.

There is another concern too I have minister with what is going on lately with the insurance companies. When an ordinary person - and I'm not talking about a person who is going to go out to get smashed at different clubs and other, and goes out and eventually, accidentally or whatever, kills somebody or whatever. Maims somebody

This first suspension for a person with no prior record, will that person get it in the neck from an insurance company? We have seen stuff happen in traffic infractions, violations, that have given insurance companies an opportunity to raise the ante. There are a great deal of people more who have gotten a warning than a person who has been habitually drunk and has lost their license. So are they going to be taken advantage of? I would like the minister with his expertise to, at his disposal, get that checked out as well.

The education part of it, Mr. Speaker, is good because we have seen education over this past number of years - with all the unemployment in this Province, we have encountered over this past number of years - drunk driving is on the decline. I mean you substitute drivers. We see that advertised constantly, substitute a driver.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Yes, that has helped. People are more inclined to give their vehicle to someone else than the macho type of individual that - I suppose we can all name in our different communities - would not give their vehicle to anybody because it was seen to be taking a part of their manhood. We have seen that changed. We have seen people become educated but the education part of it as well that is going to - people who are constantly abusing their privileges - because it is a privilege to drive a car and it has to be taken as such - these people have to be more responsible. If they have a problem, if alcohol is a disease with them poor people, rather than have them live with the idea of maiming someone for life or killing somebody, that education process and the rehabilitation process should certainly be given more prominence than probably we are giving it today. I am told, Mr. Speaker, that these people who are caught in suspension will not have a record. They will have their suspension noticed because over a period of time it is not a criminal offense and that is a thing a number of people have inquired to me about. So there will be no record.

Getting back to the thing as well about the insurance companies, if there is no record they should not be allowed to give it to anybody in the neck but another thing brought up by another of our members here is that if it is three times in two years you are stopped, will that be a record?

MR. EFFORD: You lose them for two months.

MR. CAREEN: You lose them for two months but will there be a record?

MR. EFFORD: It is not a criminal offense.

MR. CAREEN: It is not a criminal offense so that means their insurance should not go up.

MR. EFFORD: It damn well should go up.

MR. CAREEN: It should not go up -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: - because on that piece of equipment, on the roadside test you get a fail or you get a warning.

MR. EFFORD: Are you drinking and driving or are you not drinking and driving, you either are or your not?

MR. CAREEN: Well why don't you bring in 0.0 if that is the case because some of those people who drink and drive will drink and drive whether you got 0.0 or you got 1.15 or whatever. You have those people who are going to do it, Sir. Those people are going to do it, and they are the ones we have to get after much more so than we are getting after in this bill as well. This bill has to be improved.

AN HON. MEMBER: Lobby the federal government to change their rates.

MR. CAREEN: Yes, and that is another thing, too. The federal government can always change theirs. Why did they reach an average of .08 and the provinces have to give example to the federal government? We should be lobbying them as well to change their standards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


Minister, this legislation as it exists - I don't know about other parts of Canada, but if it is outside the Criminal Code, can that be challenged constitutionally?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: It cannot, because the Highway Safety Act of this Province takes precedence over the Criminal Code of Canada?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: What does it take precedence over?

AN HON. MEMBER: Silly legislation.

MR. CAREEN: The legislation is good, but it has to be improved.

MR. EFFORD: To what? You never said what.

MR. CAREEN: I am tired of telling you, to let the people of this Province have an input, and that is an education, too. Let them know what is coming down. I haven't seen it advertised in the papers what you are going to do about it. I mentioned to you the idea that women could be discriminated against in this bill. Could insurance companies take another ride?

The minister sold insurance when he lived in Ontario, probably has another way of selling insurance here, now. I am interested in the insurance of people being safer on our highways, safer on our lanes, unlike the poor child who was playing up in his yard last year here in St. John's. That affected us all, if you had a heart at all.

The minister obviously is not too familiar with his own bill.

MR. EFFORD: Sit down and I will show you how familiar I am with it.

MR. CAREEN: You will wait until my time is up, or when I sit down.

The people, the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, the sons against drunk drivers, daughters against drunk drivers, friends against drunk drivers, I have never met a person yet, even those who have been caught, drunk and driving and bragging about it. There is nobody who brags about drunk driving, Sir, nobody. Nobody has bragged about it, but we have to improve. This legislation has to be improved, and you over there -

AN HON. MEMBER: What section is that bragging in?


AN HON. MEMBER: What section is that bragging in?

MR. CAREEN: What century is what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Oh, bragging? Nobody boasts about getting caught for drunk driving. It is not a thing that you brag about. Some people only get caught once and learn their lesson, but it is the habitual ones, and we have them in this Province, who cause the most accidents, and the average, Sir - and I said earlier when I got up to speak - the average people who are caught across this Province are caught with .15 not .05.

Another thing, too, in the instrument - I forget the name of it now - that is used to measure your alcohol content, the breathalyser, there is no low side. There is no low side for warning. From .05 to .08 there is nowhere to show: are you close to getting off, or are you close to the area that you could wind up losing your licence and being fined, or close to what we call the intoxication measurement.

I was told by one RCMP officer that it is good in New Brunswick. Another one said that they had it in B.C., and then they said that B.C. took it out for awhile and then put it back. Another province have in .06, and another province .04.

MR. EFFORD: I do not care what other provinces have done. It is what we are doing here in this Province. I do not care what they did in British Columbia, PEI, or Nova Scotia. What we are doing is right.

MR. CAREEN: Well, you only had to guess there a few moments ago that eight provinces had it in. You just guessed at it. You will have your chance when you get up to respond.

A legislative committee of this House should be empowered to visit a number of centres in this Province with this legislation to inform the people of what it is. I said earlier it is an education in itself. It is not going to delay any undue time, and also to check out the facts that I already said are in this bill. Other matters in this bill, Sir, the part about raising the fines for people. You mentioned about people using handicapped parking spaces illegally. That is good. They should get it in the neck. There is nothing as galling as seeing someone who is healthier than any of us doing that and making it more difficult for a poor handicapped person. That is a good idea and probably the fine should be stiffer than it is.

The part about identification, as you said earlier, is housekeeping and I have nothing else to say about that. Anyway, to make this a really good bill, Mr. Minister, I suggest you talk to certain centres around this Province.

MR. EFFORD: Yes, the lounge owners.

MR. CAREEN: Well, they have a right to have a say, too. I am not speaking here today for the lounge owners. I am speaking today in my job as critic and the critic is not only here to criticize. The critic is also here to make improvements. I have no shares in any lounges but they should have a fair hearing. It is a good bill and as part of the whole process we should get involved in it.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Is he standing to speak to the bill or to close debate?

MR. EFFORD: To close debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely amazed and appalled at the minister today. First of all he made what I consider to be one of the most pathetic introductions of any piece of legislation that I have seen in my nearly twenty years in this House of Assembly. I have never seen a minister display his incompetence to the degree that that minister did this afternoon, and then to be so naive as to think that he is going to slide this very important piece of legislation through with only one member, our critic, speaking on this particular piece of legislation. I am also amazed that there is nobody else here who is supporting him.

I have to question whether or not the minister, in fact, has any support for this particular piece of legislation. How come there was nobody else? We do not normally get two speakers from our side to speak on a piece of legislation, it normally goes back and forth. Are the members going to sit in their seats like puppy dogs as they normally do? Have the backbenchers now been silenced so much by the backroom deals in the last couple of weeks that they are not allowed to speak on any legislation? It was bad enough before. All the little parliamentary assistants, and the executive assistants, and advisors, I guess, have been put in their place. I guess the Premier has cracked the whip and they are not going to be allowed to speak. Some of them, of course, we have not heard speak anyway. They have not spoken before and now I guess they will speak even less.

Mr. Speaker, let me get to this particular piece of legislation.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I ask for protection from the jackal, the minister over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which jackal?

MR. WINDSOR: Which jackal? A valid question. I will not say who asked the question, but a valid question, which jackal, indeed? It is unparliamentary and I withdraw the term in fairness to Your Honour. I withdraw the term as it is indeed unparliamentary.

I have to say that I listened to the minister quite attentively and was quite interested. I expected to hear him come forward with some reasoned facts and arguments to substantiate what he is doing here, but, Mr. Speaker, he has failed miserably in that and I have to say it was the most incompetent presentation of a piece of legislation, and a very, very important piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, and I ask the minister not to be making so many jokes about something that is so important. It is not a joke. The only joke around here is the minister, Mr. Speaker, he is the joke. Now let us get to a very serious piece of legislation here.

We are talking about the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and there is not one person in this House who does not support any effort that will save lives in this Province, Mr. Speaker, not one person. Not one person who would not do everything possible to insure that not one more Newfoundlander and Labradorian is killed on our highways because of drinking and driving; and let me be very clear right from the beginning, I have absolutely no sympathy for anybody who is involved in a fatal accident that is caused by drinking and driving, absolutely none, zero and they should throw away the key.

Let me be very clear, so before the minister starts saying that I am here trying to defend drunken drivers, let me be very clear that I am not and let him not, through the course of this debate, try to put words in my mouth; but, Mr. Speaker, you have to examine all of the facts. Now the minister did not present very many facts. He rambled off a couple of statistics so quickly that I must confess I was not able to get them down, perhaps he would be good enough to send me over a copy of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not likely.

MR. WINDSOR: Oh, not likely? Well I will get it from Hansard, Mr. Speaker, I do not need to get it from the minister, but, Mr. Speaker, you have to look at all of the facts. There is a lot of good things in this particular piece of legislation. A lot of this particular bill I can support wholeheartedly because some of the things that are involved in this piece of legislation will indeed go a long way to improving highway safety in this Province, and as far as it goes in that regard, Mr. Speaker, I support that wholeheartedly, but the minister has failed miserably in targetting the problem I say to him.

I do not have a problem with the increased penalties for those who are caught under the criminal code of being legally impaired. We are among the lowest in Canada at the moment, and what the minister is doing in fact is increasing the penalties almost in line with the average, a little higher than the average of other provinces in Canada. I would find it very difficult to argue against that particularly in view of what I just said, that I have no sympathy for those who are on our highways legally impaired.

I guess it is a matter of definition of quantity, Mr. Speaker, it is the level of impairment that we are talking about here and my friend from Placentia raised the question: are we talking about .05 to .08 as being the real problem and the facts are I say to the minister no; the facts are, no. The statistics, Mr. Speaker, show very clearly that the increase in the percentage of accidents involving persons from .0 to .08 is marginal if at all, above those who have no alcohol level whatsoever; 57 per cent of all accidents, fatal accidents, are caused by persons who have no alcohol in their blood whatsoever.

The minister shakes his head. Well, the minister can shake his head all he wants. I have the facts before me, Mr. Speaker. You know it is one thing to shake your head but it is another thing to substantiate what you are saying. 57 per cent of the people involved in those accidents have absolutely no alcohol in their bloodstream whatsoever. Now, when you look at the areas of those who have been picked up, you will find that Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, is the seventh in Canada, we do not even have the greatest problem of all Canadians. Now that is nothing of which to be proud, any problem is nothing to be proud of, but I say to the minister that the percentage of Newfoundland drivers who are greater than .15, which is the area that is of greatest concern, is 27 per cent, Mr. Speaker. Nine per cent is between .8 and .15, so a total of 36.4 per cent of the drivers are above .08, the legal limit.

This is the percent of fatally injured drivers in Canada in 1990. Nine point one percent are between .05 and .08. That is the group that the minister is targeting in this particular bill. Thirteen point six percent are between 0 and .05 and 40.9 per cent have none whatsoever. So out of 100 per cent the minister is targeting in this particular bill, a group that represents 9.1 per cent of all of those killed but that group, Mr. Speaker, does not have a significantly higher accident rate than those with no alcohol level.

The statistics show, and I can show the minister a graph, Mr. Speaker, that shows the incidence of accidents as compared to the increased alcohol blood level and what it shows, Mr. Speaker, is that the percentage of accidents, the incident of accidents increases exponentially. Very marginal increases, from zero in fact to about 1.5 but after 1.5 it increases exponentially. There is where your real problem is, Mr. Speaker. Statistics have also shown that above .15 are the drivers that are habitually driving. In fact, those are the drivers that have probably had numerous incidents before where they have been picked up drunk and driving. In other words they are repeat offenders. Statistics show that they have 200 to 600 times the possibility of having an accident of a person below .08, 200 to 600 times. Those, Mr. Speaker, are the killers that are driving around in our society, those are the people. They are the ones that we should be getting at and we should have no sympathy for them. The group that the minister is targeting, Mr. Speaker, between .05 and .08, I would submit to the minister is the responsible drinking driver. Now you might argue -

MR. EFFORD: There is no such thing as a responsible drinker and driver.

MR. WINDSOR: There certainly is, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: There is not.

MR. WINDSOR: We can argue that you should not be allowed to drive with any alcohol in your blood. One drink may be too many. We can argue that.

AN HON. MEMBER: For some people.

MR. WINDSOR: For some people perhaps but you know you are talking exception. Let's talk about the average and statistics show that up to .08 there is not a significant increase in the risk of an accident, not a significant increase. We would all like to live in a perfect world where nobody drives with even one drink in him. If the minister wants to eliminate all traffic deaths let us close the highways because 57 per cent of the accidents are involving people who have no alcohol in their bloodstream whatsoever. How do you eliminate those? This does nothing for those.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Why don't you believe it?

MR. WINDSOR: Well it is fine for the Minister of Finance to say that he does not believe me. Well then show me statistics to prove me different because I can show you statistics that prove what I am saying. I will gladly give them to the minister. The minister would have had them too if he had not refused to meet with the hospitality association a second time.

MR. EFFORD: Now we are getting somewhere.

MR. WINDSOR: No, I am not questioning -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: No, no. No, let the minister not put words in my mouth. As I said before, Mr. Speaker, I am not representing any group but they have done a significant amount of research and have provided me with the facts, far different than the minister who stood on his feet a few minutes ago and had no facts to back up what he wanted this House to approve, far different, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Well I would be delighted if the minister would give us some facts, Mr. Speaker, and I would be happy to give them to the Minister of Finance, and if these facts are wrong, if the minister can show me that these facts are wrong, I am quite prepared to look at them but I will tell you and, Mr. Speaker, it is obvious - sure if you do not have anybody drinking and driving on the highway, that is desirable but is that realistic? Where do we draw the line between impaired drivers causing deaths or wanting to avoid that and the rights of individuals to have a drink or two drinks on the way home? I mean we might decide as a society that no alcohol content in the blood is acceptable. If we are going to do that let us do that but let us do that in Ottawa. Let us do it under the Criminal Code which is responsible for that and it is consistent right across Canada. We are targeting the wrong group here.

Mr. Speaker, last year, in 1993 in St. John's, 27 per cent of drivers involved in single vehicle crashes had been drinking. So 27 per cent of those involved in accidents had been drinking. Of that 27 per cent -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I can understand that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation doesn't want to hear it. He doesn't like the facts, but he will hear it, and hon. members will hear it.

Twenty-seven per cent of the accidents involved drinking drivers. Of that 27 per cent, 100 per cent of those tested had alcohol blood levels above .15. Your .05 amendment will do nothing to stop them. Statistics show that those who are going to drink and drive above .08 will not be deterred by having this .05 legislation.

Eight provinces in Canada have it in place. There is absolutely no statistical evidence to indicate that there has been any improvement in the number of fatal accidents as a result.

The State of Maine put in place very strict controls. What happened was a 17 per cent increase in the number of persons charged - a 17 per cent increase in the number of persons charged - but at the same time there was a 7 per cent increase in the number of fatalities, so it did nothing to decrease the number of fatalities. It simply increased the number of persons who were charged, obviously because the limit was lower, but it didn't solve the problem.

There was a similar experience in Scandinavia. It has been the subject of exhaustive studies, and it has not shown statistically that there is any direct benefit.

The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that you are talking about the wrong target group. These are not the people who are causing the real problem. Sure, there is a percentage. Nine per cent of accidents are caused by persons in that level, but 57 per cent are caused by persons who have no, or less than .05, blood alcohol content, so how do you get at those? Your largest percentage, 40 odd per cent, you are talking about above .08. These are the persons we have to get at, and it is not through lowering it so that more persons are going to be prosecuted.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, it is incredible that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation doesn't want to hear this - absolutely incredible. I realize he is in shock, that I am blinding him with facts and figures. I realize he is in shock, but if I were the minister I would say: Have I been led astray here? Let me have those facts. Let me have a look at it. Maybe we are making a mistake, because the documentation, the statistics, show that the real way to eliminate deaths on our highway is not by attacking this group of responsible drivers, by getting at those habitual drivers who are consistently violating the legislation, driving over .08 - in fact, most of them over .15. There is where your real problem is.

As I indicated, 100 per cent of the alcohol related accidents in St. John's last year were caused by those over .15 - not even .08 - over .15. Moving it from .08 to .05 would not have stopped one of them, and earlier in Question Period when the minister was speaking, I talked about the death in Labrador. That person was well above .2.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Well, what difference would it make if the law was .05 instead of .08? The people who are causing the problems don't respect .08. They don't respect the penalties you have in place now. Increasing this is not going to solve the problem. The problem will be solved by government taking a larger percentage of the monies that they raise from the taxation on alcohol, put it into education and training and put it into enforcement so we get these dangerous drivers off the roads of our Province. That is where the answer lies. Get the killers who are driving around with more than .15 blood alcohol level in their bodies, get them off the highway, not change the law, not lower the law so that the meagre police forces we have available to us now are further diluted and are out spending their time taking licenses from persons who have .06 blood alcohol level and could drive around the world without endangering anybody probably, there is where they will be spending their time instead of being out.

We do not have enough now; they are not out finding the persons who are causing the accidents because of drug related problems. There is another problem the minister has not addressed. It is not only alcohol, it is drug related problems; you talk to the insurance industry as I have, those are the concerns of the insurance industry.

What will be the impact, Mr. Speaker, on the cost of insurance policies for the average consumer? The minister will want somebody for me to represent, I will represent the average consumer because I talked to insurance people today and they have assured me that this piece of legislation will result in thousands of Newfoundlanders losing their licenses, being suspended for twenty-four hours, that will appear in your computer, that will appear in the minister's computer. The minister's bill says -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) pay for the computer.

MR. WINDSOR: Right, and if we don't drive at all we won't have any accidents. We will take all the cars off the highway.

MR. EFFORD: You are silly enough to do that (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: You are just as silly as the minister.

Now, Mr. Speaker, even the Mothers Against Drunk Driving have come to the same conclusion. The founder of MADD does not think that lowering allowable BAC, that is blood alcohol content, for the minister's benefit, will save lives and that we should concentrate our resources against a high blood alcohol content driver.

MR. EFFORD: And is that not being done?

MR. WINDSOR: No, it is not being done.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: That's the point. 40-odd per cent of all deaths are caused by these people. These are the ones, that is the target area that the minister should be concentrating on; that is where you can be saving lives. You will never eliminate all accidents by persons who have no blood content let alone those who have .05 to .08, you will never do it. There is a certain level, as long as you have vehicles on the road there will be a certain percentage of accidents, that is a sad fact of live. As long as we have airplanes flying in the sky we will have airplane crashes, people will lose their lives. As long as we have elevators going up and down, there will be accidents, people will lose their lives, you cannot eliminate all of it. What you have to attack is the unnecessary and unreasonable risk, and I submit to the minister that the unnecessary and unreasonable risk is not between .05 and .08, statistics show that very clearly, I say to the Minister of Finance who is paying attention, show very clearly that, that is not the risk group. It is above .08, in fact it is above .15 who are the real high risk areas that really need to be attacked. It really needs to be attacked, Mr. Speaker, because those are the areas where serious problems could occur.

Mr. Speaker, the deterrent does not come from the penalty alone. I am quoting now from a gentleman from the University of New Mexico, Dr. Ross, who has studied the Scandinavian countries in great detail. The Scandinavians have had very severe penalties. I recall being over there a number of years ago when people were saying: no, .01 or .02 is a problem and we will look at it, but again, you are talking about the people who uphold the law. One person said it is like putting a lock on your door, the honest person will not break a lock and walk in but the dishonest person will get in anyway, and the same can be applied here, that the person who is an habitual drunken driver, a seriously impaired driver is not deterred by lowering the levels at the lower end of the scale. If .08 doesn't stop them .05 is not going to stop them. If they are habitually picked up between .15 and .2 then it is not going to stop them, and that has been shown, that the deterrent is not here.

The deterrent value does not come from the penalty alone. The perception of the chances of being caught must play a crucial factor in influencing people to refrain from drinking and driving and .05 legislation cannot deter the problem drinking driver as it does not make it any more likely that such an individual will be apprehended. There is the key point. It does not make it more likely that the person who is seriously impaired will be apprehended. You will be picking up those who are between .05 and .08 which are relatively low risk. Admittedly, .05 to .08 is a higher risk than 0, but what is the acceptable level of risk? That is what we have to assess here.

You can eliminate it all, as I said, and you will eliminate all drunk driving. No, you won't, you only think you will. Sadly, you will not eliminate all of it, because those who are now driving around at .15 are going to drive around at .15 anyway. Research has also shown that the majority of persons who are in that bracket are those with an alcohol problem, so in that regard, that is why I support the sections in the minister's bill which provide for counselling and for assessment of those persons, for putting them into a program to help them with their drinking problems. The person who is causing the real problem is the person who in fact has an alcoholic problem and it is not totally related to driving. He has an alcohol-related problem and that is where the emphasis needs to be placed.

So I encourage the minister to put in place those programs. I encourage the minister to increase the penalties on those persons who are clearly impaired drivers. I don't have a problem with that, but the minister is trying to make impaired drivers out of those between .05 and .08 and I, for one, am not convinced that they are seriously impaired, if at all. Statistics show that they don't represent a significant increase in the risk of fatal accidents over and above those who are not drinking at all.

Now, let us consider the impact on these people. They lose their license for twenty-four hours - not a big deal, a little minor embarrassment and they get a free ride home is the bottom line. They lose their license for twenty-four hours and the next time they lose it for a longer period, I think, and then a little longer the third time, and that is fine.

How many people will lose their jobs because of this? How many people are dependent on a driver's license? We have had many cases where people now have slipped just over the .08, have been apprehended, quite properly charged and convicted under the Criminal Code of Canada as being legally impaired under the Law of Canada. Those persons, if they happen to be a bus driver, driving a public service vehicle, or depend on a vehicle for their livelihood - I have had many cases where persons have lost their employment because of that, and while you can sympathize with them and their family, you can look at them and say, you are the author of your own misfortune. But now you are getting into a case where .05, depending on your weight, I can probably drink four or five drinks, but there are hon. members opposite, and my hon. friend, the Member for Humber East, probably could only manage one or two.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: She may not handle one. She might handle a quart and be able to drive home but she will be loaded. She might not show it. She could probably drive home but her level of impairment would be such that she really shouldn't be behind the wheel.

Now, don't take me wrong, I am not suggesting that for a minute. I haven't see her take two drinks in the twenty years I have know her, but the point is that it varies between individuals. Statistics also show that it is somewhat discriminatory but it is probably the best that we can come up with.

MR. EFFORD: He is supporting drinking and driving.

MR. TOBIN: No, he is not.

MR. WINDSOR: I said before, Mr. Speaker, let the minister not put words in my mouth. For that minister to stand there and say that I am supporting drinking and driving is a blatant unadulterated lie and I will not tolerate it, I say to the minister. It is a lie, an absolute unadulterated lie.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, you need not put on your thing. I withdraw the term `lie'. I have made my point.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good job!

MR. WINDSOR: But, Mr. Speaker, let the record be very clear, not in anything that I have said, nor in any way, do I support drunken driving.

MR. EFFORD: Drinking and driving.

MR. WINDSOR: That is not what you said.

MR. EFFORD: Drinking and driving was what I did say.


MR. EFFORD: I said, drinking and driving.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The minister will have his opportunity later.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, society supports drinking and driving - moderate drinking and driving. The law says .08; that is the law of Canada. It is not me supporting it; it is all Canadians supporting .08. Now, if Canada wants to lower it to .05, if that is to be the norm, if that is what society decides to be the norm, to be acceptable, then sobeit. All I am saying to the minister is that his well-intentioned effort at stopping deaths on the highway is directed at the wrong group of individuals. We fully support anything that will save lives in the Province, but you have to do it reasonably and responsibly, and I say to the minister, he is attacking the responsible driver.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I am going to ask the minister a question. He might answer it. I saw nothing in this bill which refers to this $100 charge. Maybe I missed it in the bill. Would the minister tell me where this $100 charge to get the licence back comes in?

MR. EFFORD: It is not a fine, it is a reinstatement of licence.

MR. WINDSOR: Where does that come in here? Where is the authority for that? Is that in place now? I don't think so.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: The minister doesn't know, because it is not in the bill, but the minister talked about it. It was the first I heard about it.

MR. EFFORD: If you go to Motor Vehicle Registration and pick up your licence, it will cost you $100.

MR. WINDSOR: Where is the authority for that? That is not in the act now, and it is not in this bill, but the minister mentioned it in his introduction. Is it in the act now?

MR. EFFORD: No, it is not.

MR. WINDSOR: It is not in the act? How does this bill put it in there? It is not mentioned here.

MR. EFFORD: You might want to sit down and I can close debate.

MR. WINDSOR: You can tell me when you close the debate. Some time later on this week or next week you can tell me.

Mr. Speaker, the minister also didn't say that they were increasing the fines, or the suspension periods, for those who are properly convicted under the Criminal Code, and I find no fault with this, but I think it needs to be made clear what this bill does. It increases suspension for a first offence from four months to twelve, for a second offence from nine months to twenty-four, and for a third offence from nine months to thirty six. Those are significant increases, Mr. Speaker, but as I said earlier -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: - it brings them more in line with the rest of Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members' time has elapsed.

MR. EFFORD: No leave!

MR. TOBIN: By leave!

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me reiterate that I fully support any effort that will save lives in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: I say to the minister again, his efforts are misdirected. He should be aiming them at the drunken drivers who are out there killing people. Get on with the job, Mr. Speaker, of enforcing the laws that are in place.

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

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WINDSOR: That is how you will save lives.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member has had half-an-hour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Most people in the Province were quite amazed when they heard that the government's first order of business in this Fall sitting of the House of Assembly was amendments to the Highway Traffic Act. People during the five-month recess of the House had been expecting the government to begin the Fall sitting with a bang by introducing legislation to stimulate business activity in the Province, or to reform the education system, which has been promised for several years now, to implement recommendations of the Williams Royal Commission Report.

Some people had been thinking that the government might actually deliver on the promise of legislation to give greater protection to children. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, in his previous life as Minister of Social Services, promised that legislation in the Fall of 1989 and here we are in the Fall of 1994, still waiting for it. Others were thinking that the government might bring in a bill to amend the child care legislation. But no, Mr. Speaker, we haven't seen measures for any of those objectives. Instead, what we have are amendments to the Highway Traffic Act which the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation introduced last Spring but botched and didn't get passed before the summer recess.

Some of the provisions of this bill are clearly desirable because they will likely improve highway safety and some of them may cut down on drunk driving, and I certainly support those measures, but I would like to echo concerns of my colleagues about the clauses of the bill which essentially create a provincial impaired driving offence, or at any rate, give authority for the suspension of drivers' licences, and, in effect, fines for people with a blood alcohol content of .05 and above.

Mr. Speaker, I have concerns for two reasons; one, because I am not convinced that safety will be improved by that measure, as explained by my colleague from Mount Pearl. There does not seem to be clear evidence that there is a significant threat to safety by the presence on the road of drivers with a blood alcohol content of between .05 and .08. The second concern, and this is what I want to concentrate on now because it is a new point, is that the Federal Parliament exercising its criminal law power in the Criminal Code has already created the offence of impaired driving using .08 as the limit. Now, Mr. Speaker, the Federal Parliament chose .08 for scientific reasons which were explained at the time the legislation was brought into effect.

Mr. Speaker, if there is new evidence suggesting that .08 is not the appropriate limit and that the limit should be lowered then let us concentrate our efforts on persuading our colleagues in Ottawa to amend the Criminal Code of Canada. What is the sense in having two standards, a federal standard in the Criminal Code and a provincial standard?

Many of the members opposite have talked at length about government over regulating peoples lives and about government laws and regulations being an unreasonable burden on people. It seems to me that it is unreasonable to impose on citizens two impaired driving standards. The .08 that is in the Criminal Code of Canada and now .05 in this amendment to the Provincial Highway Traffic Act. It is hard enough for people to understand the Criminal Code, .08 standard, and try to adhere to that. How are people going to figure out a second standard, a lower standard and why should they be expected to do so? Surely the two governments can get together and agree on one standard. Since the Federal Parliament has sole authority to make criminal laws, it would make sense for the Parliament to make any change that new research might warrant.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Minister of Justice whether he is satisfied that this Highway Traffic Act amendment is within the legislative competence of the Province. Has any court ruled on the constitutional validity of comparable legislation in other provinces, I say to the Minister of Justice? I am not sure if the Minister of Justice is listening, but I -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Okay, well I would appreciate the minister rising at a later time in this debate to comment on the constitutional issue.

Apart from the constitutional issue, it simply doesn't make sense for our Legislature to create a second impaired driving standard. If we truly believe that .08 is too high, then let's unite. I say to the Member for Gander, if he thinks .08 is too high, let him persuade his brother, the Member for Gander in the Federal Parliament, to introduce an amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada to change the impaired driving offence by lowering the limit.

My colleague from Mount Pearl has quoted some impressive research findings, indicating that there really is no good reason to lower the limit. Now I have an open mind on that question. I haven't had the time, or until now the reason, to research this myself, or to do any reading on it other than reading a submission I got today from the Hospitality Association of the Province.

If the Member for Gander has some other information, I would like to hear that. Maybe there is a reason to lower the limit below .08, and if there is, I say to him, let's get together and call on the Federal Parliament to amend the Criminal Code of Canada, but let's not impose on our citizens two standards. It is ridiculous. It is cumbersome. Let's not only talk about making laws more simple and easier for people to understand; let's do something about it.

Mr. Speaker, a final point I want to make is a new one entirely. Part of this bill authorizes sharing information in the motor vehicle registry with other agencies of the government, as well as research agencies and people outside the government.

I would like to ask the Minister of Justice, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, if they have considered the possibility of amending the Highway Traffic Act and the justice legislation governing enforcement of court orders for child support and maintenance so that people in default of child support orders will have their driver's licenses suspended. The legislation governing enforcement of court orders for child support which came in in 1988 when I was Minister of Justice set up the support enforcement agency which is a division of the Department of Justice which takes on the job of enforcing court orders for child support and collecting payments and forwarding them to beneficiaries. The legislation also creates new powers of enforcement.

Now, some other jurisdictions in North America have empowered their government collection agencies to suspend the driver's licenses of defaulters. Nova Scotia which is relatively late setting up a government agency to enforce child support orders has announced an intention to do that, to have an agency operating by January 1, 1996 and their announcement includes a statement that they will empower their officials to suspend driver's licenses of defaulters. I am wondering if our Minister of Justice and our Minister of Works, Services and Transportation will take this additional step by strengthening our law to give our collection agency one additional power?

Our support enforcement agency has been extremely successful in cutting down on the rate of default. It has been collecting increasing amounts of money each year. It opened in May 1989 and it has been operating for five and a half years and year after year it is collecting more and more money, but there still is a default problem. Quite a bit of the default problem involves out of Province debtors and in those situations our agency has to depend on action of counterpart agencies in the province of residence of the defaulter, but that leaves a significant number of defaulters who are still here in our own Province. If all the other enforcement tools are failing to extract money from those defaulters in our Province then let us equipped our enforcement agency with one additional remedy, namely the power to suspend the driver's license of a defaulter.

It is unfortunate that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is absent for this part of the debate, but I trust the Minister of Justice who is looking, writing and reading at the same time is listening. This is an idea that I raised with the Minister of Justice earlier at the Estimates committee hearing last spring and I hope when he rises to contribute to this debate he will comment on that.

To recap, Mr. Speaker, I support provisions in this bill which improve highway safety and which will reduce drunks being on the roads. I'm not convinced at all that the provisions which essentially create a new provincial offence of having a blood alcohol content of .05 are needed, although I have an open mind on that question. I simply haven't been shown evidence indicating that a blood alcohol content of between .05 and the Criminal Code .08 constitutes a significant risk that should be outlawed.

Most of all I think it is wrong to have two standards. After all, we are part of Canada. The federal Parliament, under the Constitution, has sole criminal law power. They've already legislated by creating the offenses of impaired driving and setting a limit of .08. So if we now think that .08 is too high, then instead of bringing in a separate provincial standard let's get together and have the federal Parliament change the provision of the Criminal Code of Canada. That way citizens will be governed by one standard, and the one standard surely will be much easier for people to know about and understand and adhere to.

I certainly concur with the remarks of my colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl, about the need for a greater effort to crack down on the obvious dangerous drunk drivers, the ones with a blood alcohol content of above .15. It seems despite laws and education campaigns there is still a problem - the Minister of Justice is pointing to the clock. I'm looking at a clock that gives me three more minutes, so I was going to speak until -

At any rate, Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn the debate.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, having heard the magic phrase from the hon. member saying she would adjourn the debate, and the House having enthusiastically acquiesced to her request, I shall move the other magic phrase that will send us home for the evening. Tomorrow is Private Member's Day so we will not be resuming -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Oh I am sorry. For once the hon. gentleman was not talking to me. I apologize to him.

Mr. Speaker, we shall come back at this bill on Thursday so members can judge themselves accordingly.

I will move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at two o'clock and the House do now adjourn.

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