November 28, 1994           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLII  No. 70

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, I want to rise on a point of privilege regarding a question the Leader of the Opposition asked the Premier on November 25, concerning a private lawyer hired by the Department of Justice to represent me, rather than a lawyer from the department.

Now, the Premier stated at that time that he didn't have all the details, and in this I am sure he is correct, he gave the technical answer. But I would like to point out specifically what caused me to request a lawyer, and I feel that by raising this question in the House, my privileges have been infringed upon and I think I should explain what happened to cause this question to be asked, as to why I had a private lawyer. I will briefly give you the details, Sir, as to why I think my privileges were infringed upon.

On September 27, a lawyer from the Department of Justice phoned my secretary and pointed out that I would be summoned to appear at a Discovery where Health Care Developers and another company were suing the government - and I was minister during the time this action had taken place. He told my secretary that he would get back to me at some time and that is all I heard about it. The next thing I heard was on October 7 when the bailiff appeared with a summons at my house. I was out of town but my wife was there, she accepted the summons and was told by the lawyers for the plaintiffs that the fact that I was out of town and was not due back until October 14 didn't matter, I had to be back to be in court on October 13 to appear as a witness at this Discovery.

I arrived back in town on October 11 and on October 12 I came in and asked my secretary to contact the lawyer, Mr. Pillar, who had phoned and advised that I was going to be summoned as a witness in this case. I called Mr. Pillar in the morning and left a message. He phoned me at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I pointed out to him that I hadn't had any knowledge of this thing for over three years. I asked him was he was going to brief me, and he said he didn't see any point in it, but he did say, because Ms. Marshall had released some private papers, they were prepared to give me the papers to look at over the night of the 12th and I had to be in Discovery the next day, on Thursday morning at nine o'clock, so he gave me the papers and I looked at them.

Now, after I saw the documents and then appeared at the Discovery and saw the documents that had been released, I did have some concerns, because they had released Cabinet papers that were signed by me; I wasn't given any indication that they were going to be released; I feel that at least I should have been given that much of a warning, that if they were going to release Cabinet papers that I signed, I should have been notified by somebody, I was not. After that, I contacted the Premier - it was Sunday, the 16th, before I was able to contact him - and I expressed some of my concerns. He said that he would have the Minister of Justice phone me and discuss it, but the Minister of Justice was out of town so we convened a meeting then in his office for the next morning.

At that time, I expressed my concerns about the fact that papers that I had signed were released without my knowledge. I expressed my concern about the fact that I had not been briefed or counselled by the Department of Justice before this happened and at the time, the Justice Minister said that right now, with the Freedom of Information Act, everything had to be released anyhow, so there was nothing sacred anymore. I accepted that. He said that the Justice Department was not calling me as a witness, they were not calling any witnesses. He felt that the plaintiffs were calling me and the other witnesses, so there was no need of consultation or briefing before the hearing. I accepted that as it was. The Justice Minister also said the reason they weren't calling was they could get any information they wanted in cross-examination.

Now, shortly after that meeting with the Premier and the Minister of Justice, I began to hear rumours that this was not quite so, that some of the witnesses who were called by the plaintiffs, mainly the former Deputy Minister, Ms. Marshall and the assistant Deputy Minister, Mr. Greenland had indeed been counselled and briefed by Mr. Pillar before they appeared at the Discovery.

After that, I tried to contact the Premier again but he was out of the office, then he was off sick, and then he was getting ready to go out of the Province for about two weeks on the trip to China, so I passed the message along to his secretary that I was indeed concerned about this now, and because of that, I felt that I should have a lawyer from the outside to represent me, in view of the fact that the Justice Department seemed to have two standards: one for the officials who were working in the department and one for me.

I didn't get that to the Premier, I got it to his secretary. A day or so later, the Minister of Justice phoned and offered me a lawyer from the Department of Justice. By this time, from what had happened so far, I didn't feel comfortable having a lawyer from the Department of Justice brief me at this time and as the Premier referred to in his statement, it was maybe because I am facing criminal charges, but I assume that facing them doesn't mean that I am guilty. I understand we live in a system where I will have a right to defend myself on that. So I am innocent until proven guilty, and I maintain I am innocent. But I use that as one of the reasons why maybe the Justice Department were treating me in a different way from the way they were treating the officials; but I don't think it is right.

Why I stand here today, is because it can happen to any of us, as members of this House. At the time, I was a member of government, I was a minister, and if there is a court case, I feel that I should have been entitled to the same treatment as the officials in the department and not considered any differently. This is one of the main reasons why I stand. The one thing I can say that has been proven here in the House now since October 18 and again on October 25, the one thing that was pointed out, was that indeed this was not a David Gilbert stand-alone paper. This paper was made up in consultation with a committee of Cabinet. They were informed and advised every step of the way on this until the final meeting when the committee approved this paper before it was sent to Cabinet.

Now, I feel, Sir, that my privileges as a member have been infringed upon by the way this was handled by the Department of Justice. I would ask you to look into it - not for me, because this that I have related here today can happen to any member in this House. I feel it should be looked into and I hope you will give me ruling on it, Sir. Thank you.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I raised the question, legitimately so, in the House on Friday, because I think it is important, first of all, to understand or know why the government, which has Crown solicitors available to defend or act upon any minister or foreign minister who is carrying out his legitimate responsibilities as a minister of the Crown, but, in this case, a former minister involved as a witness, by the way, in a civil case, not a criminal case, has a private lawyer made available by the taxpayer and I think that was a very legitimate question. The answer that the Premier gave was not one that satisfied me, but we may pursue that on another day.

I want to make this particular point, Mr. Speaker, and nothing more, because I am not quite sure what the member is up to here today. It almost appears as if the member himself believes, or is feeling, that the government somehow is leaving him out to dry, and he wants to make sure that his point is made and his case is heard as best as he possibly can. I suspect that is what is going on here, but I don't know and I won't impute motives to the hon. member, but I will say this to him - he talks about facing criminal charges - at the moment the case that is before the courts is a civil case. It is not a criminal case, and therefore the government which the Premier leads is the defendant in the civil case. It is not the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Now, that is one issue that is outside the House and something we should not interfere with, and we are trying our best not to do that; however, there is another issue which I believe is even more serious, and that is the evidence that is available to all of us now in the House, and has been for quite some number of weeks, of the political interference and tampering -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - that is going on and has gone on by this government over the past number of months.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: And that is the issue which we will (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. Leader of the Opposition to bear with me for a minute.

The Speaker doesn't make any observations on what members say except that when a member raises a point of privilege I think the hon. member should direct himself to the point of privilege as raised by the member, and not use it as an opportunity to make other comments. So, if the member has something to say about a particular point of privilege that the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir raised, I will certainly hear it and rule later. If not, perhaps any other types of comments could be saved for another occasion.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I think I made a very valuable point with respect to the point made by the hon. member. That is all I was trying to do. I have made my point at the moment.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the point of privilege, the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir raises an interesting aspect of personal privilege - the privilege, of course, having to do with the member's ability to carry out his function as a member of this House, and I presume that includes the ability to carry out his function as a member of Cabinet as well, knowing that if as a member of this House and a member of Cabinet he is involved in certain decisions that become the subject of legal action, knowing that he will have the advice and assistance of competent counsel to represent not only the interests of the government, presumably, but the interests of him as a participant in that government.

It seems to me that the member is, by the information that he has disclosed to the House - I think without further facts it is hard to make a decision on it, but it seems that up until the eleventh hour of the eleventh day or the eleventh minute the member was left without proper advice or briefing on a matter that could affect his involvement in a very serious matter. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that not only is perhaps he being hung out to dry, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, that perhaps his attempts to reach the Premier - the Premier seems to be playing Pontius Pilate about this whole issue in the House.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Perhaps it is another example of it here. I think that the member has raised a valid point as to his ability to carry on as a member without the kind of support that would be given to other officials of the government.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we have courts, competent, highly regarded, respected judges. This matter is a civil action before the court. The hon. member refers to a criminal action that is before the court. I think he made a valid point, in feeling that he ought to be represented by independent counsel in his present circumstances, and the government has agreed to that. Let the courts and the process take its place.

All the Opposition is doing and my learned friend sitting down in the corner there is doing are trying to make political hay out of this because it suits their particular purpose. I don't see that there is an especially significant point of privilege raised by the hon. member. If it is, what he is talking about is his privileges as a member of this House being abused by the members opposite in their abuse of him and the process.




MR. TOBIN: By you, he said! By the Department of Justice, is what he said!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: We've competent courts, independent judges, judges of integrity, courts in respect of whom I have nothing but the highest confidence, Mr. Speaker.

I don't see that there is any further action necessary by this House, other than to let the courts and the actions before the courts take their course. If members opposite had any sense of propriety that is exactly what they would do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Don't lecture us. You are the last person in the world to lecture us on propriety, let me tell you that.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I'm going to find it hard today to override members who persist in speaking. If the House could indulge me a little bit I'm recovering from some laryngitis. So if I ask for order I would ask that you listen.

I will consider the matter the member has raised and rule on it later.

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As this hon. House is aware, the Premier announced on March 31 1994 that an agreement in principle with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited for the purchase of some of its land assets in the Province had been reached. The Premier stated at that time that after the finalization of the land transaction, full details would be submitted to the Legislature for final approval.

I would like to advise this House today that the negotiations for this transaction have now been completed and government has executed an agreement with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited finalizing the transaction. I signed the principle agreement on this this morning. Government will also execute an agreement with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited and their secured lenders assigning the proceeds of the transaction to the lenders. The terms of a conveyance deed have been agreed and will be executed and registered following passage of ratifying legislation. Today I am tabling these documents and the associated maps in this House in preparation for second reading of Bill No. 42 respecting government-Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited agreement act, 1994.

The transaction includes the transfer of the ownership of surface and timber rights to the Crown for approximately 272,000 hectares of freehold land, which is slightly less than half of the free held land of the company in this Province. On the remaining 376,000 hectares, ownership of the surface rights has been transferred to the Crown immediately, and the ownership of the timber rights on this second half of freehold lands will revert to the Crown on December 31 2037, which is the date at which their other timber licences expire. Two timber licences with timber rights for an area of about 100,000 hectares in Central Newfoundland, particularly the Bonavista North region, have also been surrendered to the Crown.

Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited has also extended the current agreement between the company and the Crown on transfer of its licensed lands in the Roddickton area for a further period of twenty years, in order to facilitate the wood supply for the sawmilling industry in that area. In return, the Crown has agreed to grant the company a right of first refusal on purchase of pulpwood from these and some other areas on the Northern Peninsula. This has been done to ensure a long-term supply of wood for the company's operations in Corner Brook.

Government has agreed to pay $15 million for this transaction in two payments of $7.5 million each over a two-year period. As the Premier previously stated last March, the company has retained sufficient timber rights until 2037 for its mill requirements, at which time a new arrangement for a future wood supply will have to be concluded. The right of first refusal mentioned earlier will further safeguard the wood requirements of the company. These freehold lands which are being purchased by the Crown were in the main acquired by Bowater and its predecessor companies when they acquired "Reid Lots," grants which were made to the Reid Newfoundland Limited as part payment for the construction of the Newfoundland Railway. Other land grants which were made to those companies are also being revested in the Crown at this time.

I want to emphasize that I have used approximate figures for the area of the land holdings because the transaction is not based on any unit per hectare price. It is a lump sum transaction involving a number of aspects of rights and ownership. Since it will take some time to incorporate the newly acquired land to the Crown land records and assess its suitability for various other uses, a freeze is being placed on its disposition for a period of at least six months to allow my staff to take care of the paperwork.

Mr. Speaker, this agreement benefits both parties, both government and the company. The company receives the much needed funds for reducing its debt while maintaining an adequate supply of wood for its mill. Government, through this transaction and the previous purchase of Reid Lots by the Moores government in 1974 - twenty years ago - brings back to the Crown the ownership of most of the Reid Lots alienated at the time of the building of the Newfoundland railway.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am trying to recollect the deal. I believe this was the deal that was announced during the height of the Hydro debate, when there were some allegations made at that time about involvement, if that is the same deal, and I believe it is, and my colleague from Humber East says it is.

Mr. Speaker, first of all the government is attempting to do something here that will ensure long-term wood supply and that is, in principle, something that we obviously would support, and also the long-term viability and credibility, from a fiscal perspective, of the operation - the mill and the woods operation on the West Coast - and that, too, is something that we want to see done in a successful manner.

About all we can say at this stage, having had all of this documentation heaped upon us in the last little while, is that we will reserve more comment on it until we have had a chance to go through some of the documentation and, of course, the matter will come up for debate eventually, I guess, anyway under Bill 42 sometime presumably before the House adjourns Christmas Eve, or whenever it might be. So we will look forward to the debate occurring at that time, after we have had a chance to look more thoroughly at the documentation and what we think of some of the details of the deal.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions for the Premier.

Over the last year or so the government appointed an independent commission to hold public hearings and make recommendations to the House on electoral boundaries. First of all the government directed the commission to plan for a forty seat assembly. Then later the government changed the law and told them to plan for a forty-four to forty-six seat assembly. Now, that was the second time. This commission travelled all over the Province holding hearings everywhere, not only once but on two occasions.

The question which has come up before, by the way, but I would have expected the Premier would have inquired to get the answer, is this; the first question I have for him is this: How much did this exercise, and duplication in the minds of most people, by the commission cost the taxpayers of this Province? Can the Premier give us that answer?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me correct some of the misstatements of the hon. member, Mr. Speaker.

The original instructions - I am reading from the legislation passed by this House. I am not sure members can question -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Forty to forty-six (inaudible). That is what was proposed, not forty as the hon. member suggested. It was forty to forty-six, from the beginning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) irrelevant.

PREMIER WELLS: No, no, it is always relevant to set the record straight.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, this report that was tabled about a week or so ago, I think it was released publicly about three or four weeks ago, five or six -


PREMIER WELLS: July, okay - three or four months ago.

That report that was released contained, with great respect to the commission, an impossible situation.


PREMIER WELLS: If the hon. members want to laugh and waste the time of the House, that is up to them, but if they want the answer as to why, I am quite prepared to give it to them.

The explanation was quite simple. The commission made a recommendation that would see two seats in Labrador, with some 15,000 people in them - two of the largest seats in the Province, instead of some of the smaller seats - and then went on to recommend that there be a fourth seat in Labrador. Well, it was impossible to maintain the principles that the legislation required without having them go back again. That is why the government took the course that it did, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe the hon. member had a specific question.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: I ask the Premier, and I will try to make it simple so that even he will understand it, how much did this exercise cost? That was the question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It was the messy preamble that I was dealing with, Mr. Speaker. With a bit of time I would have dealt with that. I simply say to the House off the top of my head at the moment I do not know but I will get the information and table it.

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

MR. SIMMS: More and more every day, he does not know about Marystown Shipyard, he does not know about Hydro, he does not know about anything. As a matter of fact I am told it is included in the tabling of a special warrant by the Minster of Finance just a few days ago. The only thing is it is in an overall head that totals $882,000 and I am sure it did not cost that.

MR. WINDSOR: Is that what the minister told you?

MR. SIMMS: No, it was not all for the commission's operation. Anyway the Premier said he would check and get the information. It should not take long because we hear it is anywhere between $300,000 and $400,000, that was the expenditure.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, it is true though that the commission recommended in their first public report, even though it was not a printed report, forty seats. Then we had a second report, forty-four seats with a possibility of a forty-fifth. Imagine our surprise when a few days ago a new plan was foisted upon us in this House of Assembly but this one did not come from the independent commission, this one came from the Premier as a result of his deal to keep his caucus members quiet. That is what happened.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Now, let me ask the Premier this, why is he and the government - I will give them the evidence afterwards and then members will laugh on the other side of their mouths. Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier why is he interfering and tampering with the electoral commission's independent report and their recommendations? Can he answer that question?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is very simple, it was done on the recommendation of the commission. The government was responding -

MR. WINDSOR: Not true.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to answer questions but I am not going to stand and listen to the garbage from the opposite side, 'not true.' Now, if they want questions I will give the answers but that is improper action, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl is not entitled to accuse another member that a statement made in the House was not true and I think he knows the difference, so I ask him to withdraw it.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, if that is an unparliamentary statement I certainly withdraw it. To use the term liar or anything of that nature but to say 'not true', if that is unparliamentary then there are thousands of occasions in this House daily that are unparliamentary, but I will withdraw it.

MR. SPEAKER: I say to the hon. member that it is clear on the parliamentary precedence that neither member of this House can accuse another of uttering an untruth or misleading the House, and I say to the hon. member in the context in which he made it it was unparliamentary and I ask him to withdraw it.

Does the member withdraw it.

MR. WINDSOR: I have done that, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The government took the action on the basis of responding to the specific recommendations of the commission. Those recommendations were that because of the size of the seats, two of the seats in Labrador, both of them would be over 15,000 in Labrador, that the government should provide for a fourth seat in Labrador. Because of the size of the seat in Humber Valley, which I believe would have been close to 17,000 if you put in Reidville and Cormack, which the commission had recommended be done, it would produce a seat of 17,000. Grand Falls - Windsor had a number of over 16,000 so there were problems.

Now, the only way the government could possibly deal with the Labrador situation was include the southern Labrador area into the Strait of Belle Isle seat, which everybody opposed. We could not possibly leave a circumstance where there were two seats in Labrador. Two of the largest seats in the Province were in Labrador and that was an unacceptable circumstance, so we asked the counsel who worked for the commission, who did the work during the course of the commission's work, we asked the counsel to look at how it might be done, what changes might be made to respond to the commission's recommendations.

That gentleman, Mr. Speaker, developed three possible proposals. He looked at what the situation would be with forty-six seats, what it would be with forty-seven seats and what it would be with forty-eight seats. Anybody who looks at it will see very clearly, Mr. Speaker, what the right course was to follow in light of the commissions recommendations. There was a provision made, Mr. Speaker, for presentation of it one day to the Liberal Party Caucus and we provided for it the next day, or I think it may have been a day or two later that it actually occurred, but it was available to the Opposition Party Caucus the next day, Mr. Speaker. It was responding to the commission's recommendations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SIMMS: But, Mr. Speaker, it is not correct nor is it accurate for the Premier to give the impression to the people of this Province that this commission recommended a forty-eight seat plan. That is what he is trying to do and that is inaccurate. What it does, Mr. Speaker, is make it even more obvious that this whole thing has been manipulated by the Premier and his Liberal Caucus. That is what is happening because not only does it deal with the issues that he just talked about but magically it reintroduces his own Bay of Island seat, magically, and suddenly, Mr. Speaker, it sets up a brand new seat down in Burgeo of 4,400 people. There was no recommendation like that, Mr. Speaker, in the report.

Now, let me ask him this question, he just now alluded to, there was also a forty-six seat proposal and a forty-seven seat proposal, why didn't we see those presentations? We did not know anything about that, we did not see anything of that nature.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It so happened, Mr. Speaker, that the commission asked the government to address those issues, the government did and it put forward a proposal. The commission did not ask the Opposition to do it. He may have forgotten, the government is on this side of the House so it is normal for the government to initiate that kind of response and the government did, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WINDSOR: It was only a sham.

PREMIER WELLS: The government did. Now, Mr. Speaker, let me correct again, the misrepresentation that is inherent in what the hon. Opposition Leader has said. At no time did I suggest or imply that the commission recommended forty-eight seats. At no time did I do that. What I said, Mr. Speaker, was the commission, has in effect, put us in an impossible position if we are to put four seats in Labrador. I do not know of any other way to be fair to the voters of this Province without doing that. Now we can go back to having three seats in Labrador, that is a possibility, or we can join up one of the Labrador seats with the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, that is another possibility but everybody has opposed it. It is easy to see the commissioners recommendations. They are there and they are clearly set out and that is the basis on which the government asked the counsel that acted for the electoral boundaries commission to prepare a response to those commissioned.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) civil servants.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. Premier to draw his comments to a close as well and I would like to hear him while he does it.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, that was the sole basis on which the government acted and we are prepared to bring the proposal before the House and defend it.

MR. WINDSOR: Who do you think is going to believe that?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SIMMS: The Premier is right about one thing, there is no doubt about it, that the government's fingerprints, his and the Government House Leader's fingerprints, are all over this latest little bit of (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Now before the House opened, Mr. Speaker, just a few days before, many in the media were reporting, as a matter of fact, that the Premier expected the electoral changes would be dealt with during this sitting of the House of Assembly. Now this latest tampering, which can be seen only as the mother of all jerrymandering, I would suggest to the hon. House -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: - is something that should be dealt with very, very soon. So I want to ask the Premier this: why doesn't he accept the independent recommendations, without tampering with them and get on with it so that people can plan their futures? There really are only two options here and it does not include tampering, it is either to accept the commissions last recommendations independently or to forget about it. Why doesn't he do one or the other?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Here are the commissions recommendations that were accepted; as can be seen from the proposed Naskaupi District - the proposed Naskaupi District varies from the quotient by 23.6 per cent while the proposed Eagle River District varies by 61 per cent. Given Labrador's considerable geography and sparsity of population, we believe that these four seats are necessary if the interests of the people of Labrador are to be adequately represented in the House of Assembly. So you have to have four seats, that is their recommendation. Now, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would like to hear the hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: - because the commission only provided for forty-four and to have the fourth seat in Labrador would require increasing it to forty-five, that is what it has to do with it.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) with Burin - Placentia West, for example.

MR. SULLIVAN: Or Bay of Islands.

PREMIER WELLS: Just a moment: In addition, Mr. Speaker, to the foregoing, we further recommend that the Legislature consider amending the Electoral Boundaries Act to permit the inclusion of Reidville, Cormac and Howley in the proposed Humber district.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that would have created a Humber district of just about 17,000 people, a Humber Valley, that was the commission's recommendation; that notwithstanding the population of the resulting districts, that the Legislature consider amending the act to permit all of the Town of Grand Falls - Windsor to be placed in a single district. The Town of Peterview to be placed in Exploits district, the proposed Lewisporte district, less the Town of Peterview to remain as a district.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible), Bay of Islands.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the provisions -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Members Opposite should not act on the assumption that volume of noise equals intelligence. It does not, Mr. Speaker. If they would just sit for a minute, they would be alright.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the provisions of the act are quite clear; to give priority to the principle of one person one vote, and what was in that commission's recommendations, the total, did not do that, and, Mr. Speaker, in response to the commission's recommendation, we brought in a proposal that did and we stand by it.


MR. WINDSOR: Why did you tie their hands in the first place?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Last week, or on November 16, Wednesday, I asked questions of the Premier dealing with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations residence in Tors Cove. Since that time, the Premier tabled a response that was clearly public information anyway. Since the Premier tabled that response, more evidence has come to light: 1) that the minister lists with Motor Registration his official residence as Arnold's Loop; 2) that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is listed on the federal enumeration list for St. John's East; and 3), Mr. Speaker, it has been indicated to me that the minister did in fact vote in St. John's East federally.

Now just in case the Premier is not aware, let me quote the section of the Highway Traffic Act, which clearly says that an individual who applies, must apply for a license in writing in their own hand and that it is an offense according to the act if a person is guilty of an offense and gives a false or fictitious name or gives a false address.

I say to the Premier, the evidence is mounting and if you, sir, had any sense of propriety, you would demand the resignation of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know when the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations acquired that apartment in Pleasantville.

AN HON. MEMBER: Four years ago.

PREMIER WELLS: Four years ago, and quite frankly, I did not even know he had it. I always assumed his residence was Tors Cove.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: That's what I had always understood to be his residence. Now whether it was Tors Cove or somewhere else, he has to answer for it. I have spoken to the minister about it. I have no reason to doubt the minister's word on this, none at all, that his primary residence is Tors Cove. He, like some other members maintain apartments or residences of one kind or another here in St. John's as well. I mean, there are all kinds of members who don't live in their districts who live somewhere else and maintain a residence in St. John's, the Member for Mount Pearl for example. I believe he has indicated his primary residence is Lewisporte but he maintains an apartment or some kind of a residential complex here. I understand and accept that. I have no reason to question it, I don't know what he has said about where he votes or where he has his mail sent or anything else. But I have accepted the minister's word and I have no reason to doubt the minister's word, that his primary residence is Tors Cove. I had always understood it to be that. Now if it is not, he has to answer for it.

The administration of these funds as you know, has nothing to do with the government, it is administered through the House. The Internal Economy Commission administers totally without government intervention, the funds provided by the House of Assembly for payment, and I suppose the Internal Economy Commission has a responsibility to make sure that the rules are followed, and that applies to members on both sides of the House.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you right now that the people of this Province do not share your evaluation of the matter.

MR. MURPHY: They don't share yours.

MR. E. BYRNE: What you are telling me, sir, and what you are telling the people of this Province - when you refer to other members such as the Member for Mount Pearl, he is in fact enumerated in Lewisporte. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is enumerated provincially in Arnold's Loop, municipally in Arnold's Loop, and federally, and that is acceptable? I say not. Will you conduct a full and thorough investigation independent of the Premier's Office, through the Speaker's Office, to ensure that the minister's conduct is becoming of a minister, and not false?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I'm not sure if the member really knows what he just asked for - asked me to conduct a full investigation independent of the Premier's office but through the Speaker's office.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) instruct the Speaker.

PREMIER WELLS: I'm not going to instruct the Speaker. The Speaker acts on his own. The Internal Economy Commission runs the affairs of the House. If the hon. member wants an investigation into the way these monies are paid out, then ask the Speaker to do it. If the Speaker is of a mind to do it, or the Internal Economy Commission, he will, no doubt. But don't ask me to instruct the Speaker to conduct an inquiry - that is not acceptable.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier as well. I questioned the Premier on Thursday on a matter concerning Sual Fisheries of Frenchman's Cove on the West Coast, where the business plan of that company was made public by the Premier's executive assistant, Mr. Ed Joyce. I asked the Premier at that time would he try to determine where Mr. Ed Joyce got the company's business plan. The Premier didn't answer it on Friday when he gave his answer. I wonder if he could inform the House now, or has he determined, where Mr. Ed Joyce got a copy of Sual Fisheries' business plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to table in the House the statement, the summary of position that Mr. Joyce - that is, Ed Joyce - sent in to me as the full explanation of it. That spells out everything. I don't know if it - I assume it indicates where any information he got came from.

I should also tell the House that as a result of a letter or a memorandum I received this morning by fax from Mr. David Joyce, I made some enquiries. I tried to reach Mr. David Joyce but I was unable to do so, by telephone, so that I could get full information from him. I reached one other person who was at a meeting that took place on November 9 with Mr. David Joyce and Mr. Ed Joyce, and that person confirmed for me that Mr. David Joyce did indeed give Mr. Ed Joyce permission to use whatever information was necessary in terms of explaining this situation, at a public meeting which he agreed to attend on November 10.

Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to table the information.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) unethical and unprofessional and you know it is.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: What is unethical and unprofessional is the constant noise that comes from certain members opposite. I would be happy to table this.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Premier is aware that in Friday's answer, November 25, page 2526, he said to me that: "... it was the Member for Grand Bank who asked me another question about the role played by" his executive assistant, Mr. Eddie Joyce. He said: "Mr. Joyce did indeed release the information but he released it with the full consent of Mr. David Joyce...." He also went on to say to me: "I am pleased to advise the House that virtually every allegation made in the course of asking that question is false, is totally wrong, totally incorrect."

I want to say to the Premier that I have a letter here from Mr. David Joyce that says there was absolutely no mention of his business plan at the meeting, and: at no time did I either give him or tell him - that is, Mr. Ed Joyce - to use that particular information. I have to ask: How could I tell him to use information I know I didn't give him? That ties into my first question. How did Eddie Joyce get Sual Fisheries' business plan? It was either through the licensing division of the provincial Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture or through your office - one of the two, that's where he got it. He didn't get it from Mr. David Joyce.

In the light of Mr. Joyce's letter, which I will table, saying that: `At no time did I either give him or tell him to use that particular information,' will the Premier now - because what the Premier has tabled is a report from his executive assistant to him. Covering his behind, I say to the Premier. I think it is totally unethical what has happened here. This company spent upwards of $20,000 preparing a business plan that is now in the hands of competitors, Mr. Speaker, so I ask the Premier: Will you have another look at this? Because I think this action by your executive assistant, who works for you, the Premier's Office, warrants his immediate dismissal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I believe the item the member quoted from that statement says that at no time did he give authority to use that particular document.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That is correct.

Now, what Mr. Joyce had indicated very clearly was that this gentleman gave him authority to use whatever information he had in relation to the matter, but he told me he didn't want him to provide the names of his financial backers unless it was essential to do so, and I have no reason to question for a moment that advice from Mr. Joyce. I have had it confirmed by a third party who was present at the time.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have no quarrel whatsoever with the explanation that has been given by Mr. Joyce, I have no reason to doubt it. I have done whatever is necessary to check it. I haven't yet spoken to Mr. David Joyce - I tried to reach him, but was unable to do so.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, we are getting used to the Premier behaving this way; we saw it on Friday. I want to ask the Premier now: Will he name the third person?

AN HON. MEMBER: The third party.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The third party. Will he give the House that information. Because it may be correct, it may not be, but we need to know. Who was it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I can assure the House it was correct. I spoke to the lady. She called me. She told me she was present at the meeting - at a meeting with both Mr. Joyces.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was she?

PREMIER WELLS: I know the lady's name. I would prefer not to release it without her express permission to do so, but I will seek that permission, and if I have it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I have no quarrel; I would be happy to release her name. I will seek her permission, and with her permission, I will release her name.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question today is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

On Friday, November 25, the minister was quoted in The Evening Telegram, when being asked questions concerning the new Caboto Centre, that we have not nailed down any definite commitment yet to fund this legacy building for 1997.

On Thursday, November 24, the minister tabled in the House the expenses and commitments to December 31 in relation to the design and site selection of the building, totalling over $500,000.

I ask the minister: How does he justify spending over half-a-million dollars of taxpayers' money on this process when he doesn't have an estimated $30 million to $40 million commitment for the construction of the Caboto Centre?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad that I did release some information and also speak to the media to make the research for the hon. member a little easier in asking his question.

The question, as it is, that - in fact, I think every member in this House would be absolutely shocked and appalled, to use some of the language that members opposite use sometimes, if we weren't properly planning for what is hoped to be a major contribution to the 500th year celebrations by leaving behind a legacy building that everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador can be proud of.

With respect, whether we have the final arrangements for the funding agreed to or not, I believe if members opposite checked with anybody who does any planning for a construction project of this size, magnitude and scope, they would really be shocked and appalled to think that we hadn't spent that amount or more in the preliminary planning, design and study stages, even before we secure the money.

At some point in time, this government firmly hopes and believes that we will be able to deliver this major new complex which will house the archives which need a new home, the museum which needs a new home, and the provincial gallery which needs a new home, and whether or not the funding arrangements are finalized next week, next month, or three months time, this kind of planning absolutely was essential if there is any hope that the project can be finalized and brought on stream in 1997.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister, the problem with research is not on this side of the House; it is in the minister's department, when they have spent almost half-a-million dollars of taxpayers' money trying to find a site, and then go and select another site that wasn't part of the original plan.

Regardless of how historic properties are defined in legislation, does the minister believe a well-preserved house that survived the great fire, that housed the first post office, the first weather station, and the first telegraph office is worth preserving? And does the minister plan to use expropriation, if necessary, to put the building on this site?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, just so that the hon. member would not have anything attributed to him in the record of the House, in Hansard, that he wouldn't want, at no point in time did anybody spend half-a-million dollars looking for a site and then change his mind. The numbers that were tabled in the House, if he would read them correctly, show that by the end of this calendar year, December 31, 1994, the government expects to have spent just over $500,000 on the whole planning exercise, part of which went into going to a site on the waterfront, that I understood members opposite had agreed was probably the ideal place to put this centre, and they were cheering so on, as I understood it, hoping that we would meet with a successful resolution of putting the Caboto Legacy Building on the waterfront. Because of the fact that we wouldn't impose our will on people who owned property on the waterfront, we have now gone to, what in our judgement is the second best location, but the hon. member opposite is now looking at some way to try to criticize the approach.

In fact, we are now looking at the plans and we expect that maybe in a weeks time the designers, architects, and planners will have available for government - the phrase they are using is, a footprint of what design of a building can actually fit in the best possible way onto the piece of property that we own, all except for the house on the corner.

Whether any of these claims about the all of a sudden wonderful historic value and heritage of that property, which never ever came to the fore prior to this, whether all of those are verified and justified, people are checking that to see. In fact, up to the point in time and the date in time that government announced we were looking at Fort Townsend as the preferred site, there had never been any reference to the site on 1 Bonaventure Avenue as having any particular historic or heritage significance in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Even though the building is old, and even though it has been there for 150 years, in that 150 years of existence nobody previously came forward to say that this particular structure deserves to be preserved. It is being looked at now only because some claims are being made. We will look at that, and it will be taken into consideration as to the final structure of the building.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to table today, the annual report for the Farm Development Loan Board of Newfoundland, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1993.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Leaseholds In St. John's Act.

MS. VERGE: About time, I didn't think you were still the Minister of Justice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: I'm not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) notices?

MR. ROBERTS: Because I am still a minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: Still the House Leader.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table information requested by my hon. friend from Marystown, on the sea urchin processing licenses issued and the dates on which they were first issued.

Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Grand Bank, not Marystown.

DR. HULAN: Grand Bank, I stand to be corrected.


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

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

Today, I rise in my place to present a petition on behalf of a number of constituents of St. John's East Extern. The petition reads:

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

We, the undersigned residents of the district of St. John's East Extern, do hereby petition the House of Assembly to direct the Department of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately implement an emergency employment program. With the economic conditions which exist, we find ourselves in a desperate situation; we ask the minister and his government to show compassion and understanding in this urgent matter. As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray. November 24, 1994.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have this petition here - actually there are twenty-two signatures on it, from one community in my district, from Pouch Cove.

Mr. Speaker, what is going on in this Province today is nothing short of heart-wrenching. There are very many issues out there today that could be considered to be political issues, but I think the most important issue in the Province today that is affecting most people is job creation, by far the most serious and most important, and the problem, Mr. Speaker, with job creation, is that there is no job creation by this government. The government is not representing the needs of the people of this Province.

Basically, what I find, Mr. Speaker, is that this government has no heart; they are lacking what we would consider heart in responding to the situation out there today. People out there are finding it very difficult to put bread and butter on the table. Now, I am getting a lot of calls from my district, as I am sure are members on the opposite side also, and I find it very disheartening when people phone me on the verge of tears, looking for work, people who worked for the past twenty-five years and were always able to get enough stamps to feed their families over the winter months, but it is not happening this year.

We have had the implementation of the Strategic Economic Plan and Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador which, from my perspective, have created very few jobs in this Province.

We are an Island. Newfoundland is an Island - we have Newfoundland and Labrador but, we have to deal with an Island economy and the hands-off approach of this government is nothing short of pathetic. The Emergency Employment Program over the past number of years, has traditionally, from my information, been a provincial program, funded by provincial monies.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations last week, I believe, was going to Ottawa looking for monies to fund an emergency employment program, that is the understanding I had, but, Mr. Speaker, we have heard nothing yet. Where is the emergency employment program for this year? The people are asking me, they are asking members on this side of the House, they are asking members on both sides of the House. The people out there are in desperate, desperate need.

Mr. Speaker, I had an individual who phoned me the other day, who has three children, has worked for twenty-five years consistently - and this is not the first person in this situation - who is now on the verge of going to Social Services, the first time in his lifetime, and I said: `You do what you have to do. You have to feed your family, it is there, it is there for you, you paid your taxes for a number of years, take advantage of it.' But that is not what the man is looking for, he is looking for, he is looking for work, Mr. Speaker.

In 1992, I believe, this government spent $11 million on the emergency employment program, provincial monies. In 1993 they spent $6 million on the emergency employment program. This year, where is the money? None, zero, zilch, nothing so far this year, Mr. Speaker, and at a time when it is most needed, when the people are crying out for it, Mr. Speaker.

Since this government came to power in 1989, the social services rolls have almost doubled, from the figures that I have been given. They went from just over 40,000 up to 76,000, I believe, last year, Mr. Speaker, and we are having calls every day to do something about this, but government is not responding, Mr. Speaker.

Last week, we had the Member for LaPoile stand in his place opposite, Mr. Speaker, and basically support patronage, but that is not what the people are looking for, they want jobs. The Premier campaigned in 1989 on no patronage appointments, Mr. Speaker, yet again, this is just another example of broken promises, there is a list now as long as your arm of patronage appointments - jobs for their buddies, Mr. Speaker, no one else - no one else out there is getting work.

AN HON. MEMBER: Time has elapsed.

MR. J. BYRNE: Already? By leave, I can go on.

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


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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise in support of the petition presented by the Member for St. John's East Extern. I think I know of which he speaks, the calls that members get from individuals whose situation and circumstances are becoming worse by the day and more and more common.

I know the people of St. John's East Extern, in fact, I represented them federally for an all-too-brief period but it is a pretty desperate situation that people are facing in this Province today, a very serious circumstance that they find themselves in. It is a result of two things, Mr. Speaker: the failure of the Canadian economy to be adequately organized to provide work for people, and the attitude of the Government of Canada, which is the same as the previous Government of Canada, to dismantle and take away the social programs that we have enjoyed, and that this government here is supporting that.

Mr. Speaker, two books have been put out by the Federal Government in the last year-and-a-half. One was the red book that gave all the promises, and the other was the green book that we are now supposedly organizing, or looking at, to supposedly improve Canada's social programs. I see the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations over there, who said that he is not willing to have any employment program until the green book - never mind the red book - until the green book is going to be implemented. He wants to consult with the Government of Canada before he dares to have an employment project that is going to hire one person in desperate need. That is what he said in the House last week.

This minister went off to Moncton the other day and did not come back with a report. I was expecting a Ministerial Statement today on what great changes have come about in Marine Atlantic as a result of the minister' visit to Moncton the other day - that he was going to come back and tell us that everything had been fixed up, that the residents of St. John's South need not worry about the Dockyard, that other people in this city who are in desperate need of employment are going to, as a result of the minister's consultations in Moncton, have a better future ahead; but no, all the minister is concerned about is petty issues related to his place of residence. He doesn't come to this House and ignore all this stuff, and get up and say, We have jobs for people, we are doing our job here. What he does, Mr. Speaker, is he goes off to Moncton and he comes back with his tail between his legs, and his government, Mr. Speaker, is ignoring the real needs that exist throughout this Province.

There is an attack on social programs, an attack on unemployment insurance, an attack on seasonal workers being conducted by the Federal Government,and his department and his government are not prepared to do anything about it. So it is no wonder that the people are now left to petition this House for work.

I haven't been here all that long - I have been here for three or four years, but this is the first time I have seen, day after day for the last five or six days, people petitioning this House for work - `Give us some work' - and I think it is going to get worse. I think it is a sign of the times that we are not just petitioning for roads - improve your roads, or improve your schools. People are actually petitioning this government to provide some work so that they can put food on their tables.

I see the Member for St. John's Centre - I know he is very concerned about these issues, because I know he is getting the very same calls, and I am sure other hon. members on the opposite side are getting them as well as this side of the House. The difference is that we over here on this side of the House, all we can do is talk about it. It is the people on that side of the House who have the power to do something about it. So I ask, in support of the Member for St. John's East Extern, that this government - the minister looks as if he is about to rise, and maybe he will respond to this and tell us that he has changed his mind, that he is prepared to do a stand-alone employment program to provide some much needed relief for the people in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First, let me try to respond to the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern. I concur with him that there is a tremendous number of people, I think I had something like fifteen calls yesterday - at Tors Cove, I say to the Member for Kilbride, and I might add, while I was counting 184 cheques paid to Foodland in Bay Bulls.

Now, if the Member for Kilbride thinks that my wife and I leave Arnold's Loop and buy our groceries in Bay Bulls, he is a little bit out of whack.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, because it is an opportunity - sure, you can get up on a point of order.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, this minister is being well paid to respond to concerns raised by the Member for St. John's East Extern concerning job creation, the inability of the government to take initiatives to try to get programs in place to look after those people who are badly bruised by the government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) not worrying about where you are living.

MR. SIMMS: The Standing Orders are very clear about members speaking to the petition. They must contain their remarks to the prayer of the petition, which dealt with job creation for the unemployed. It had nothing to do with whether the member lives in Tors Cove or not, so you need not try to flick that out. Please stick to the petition. He only has a minute or so left.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I think we give considerable latitude to members in addressing finally the petition.

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. MURPHY: Not to that point of order again, Mr. Speaker. Let me say to the hon. member, I understand where he is coming from and just to remind him that this government has five different job creation programs that are cost-shared between the Province and the Federal Government.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where are the jobs?

MR. MURPHY: They are out there every day, I say to the hon. member. As a matter of fact, I just signed off two this morning for the hon. member's district.

MR. EFFORD: You never? What!

MR. MURPHY: Oh, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's two jobs?

MR. MURPHY: I say to the hon. the Opposition Leader, two jobs are better than one job.

MR. SIMMS: It was two jobs?

MR. MURPHY: It was two, I think, for the hon. member's district, one for St. John's East, I know, for sure.

However, I was in Ottawa on Friday. I had some very good discussions. It was really a pleasant task to go up there and talk to a federal minister with some understanding and some compassion, and we are working very hard to try to bring this together. Like any set of negotiations, I say to the hon. member, within the next week-and-a-half at the latest, I am hopeful that we will have an answer, and I am also hopeful that we will have some funding to provide to the people in the Province. So, if the member and all other hon. members will bear with me, again, I hope I can rise with positive news. If I can't, then that is the way it will be.

The Member for St. John's East also spoke. I had a meeting with Marine Atlantic.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I didn't interrupt the member when he was up.

I had a meeting. We discussed the $200 million situation, which wasn't a good deal, everybody knows that; it was only a line of credit. I asked the new CEO, or the new President of Marine Atlantic, to be much more aggressive in trying to obtain any business that the Yard can do that it has done in a 110 year history. I remind the hon. member that this year, that Yard did more total dollars worth of business than in its entire history.

I spoke to them about my concerns with the Yard. I asked him if it was for sale. He said: Everything is for sale. I said: That isn't adequate, I need a more direct answer. We need to go after more work. He assured me he was going after more offshore oil work, more -

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Yes, he (inaudible). Yes, but I say to the Member for St. John's East, historically the Yard in St. John's wasn't a boat-building yard. It was a repair-refit yard.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Yes, and we are going after it. This is what he tells me. I have no reason to tell the man that he was telling me something that wasn't true. I say to the Member for St. John's East, let's be hopeful now that the St. John's Yard gets more contracts. I'm sure with the hon. member talking about how good the Yard is, how good the workforce is, talking it up like all hon. members in St. John's, that we may just well see the Yard continue to grow. Don't criticize this hon. member for not rushing back after an hour-and-a-half meeting with the new president.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MURPHY: The new president's job is to try to promote the Yard. The indicator is - and we will be talking to the collective people and the bargaining unit down there. They have some problems, too, as the member knows. You have a union down there and you have another union trying to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MURPHY: I thank the hon. members for the leave just to explain the situation. The new contract needs to be in place by December 31, that is when the old contract runs out. The president also informed me - and this is kind of a new twist, and I say, maybe an indicator of things to come in labour relations. The president told me that they had invited two members of the union to sit on their board and actually have a look at the inventory, the voucher, the money, the contracts, the whole nine yards, everything that a board would do. This is a new approach and I couldn't disagree with it. I thought it was an excellent idea, that two members from the collective bargaining unit would be able to sit on the board. So that is the Dockyard situation.

I say to all hon. members in the House, and to all the people in the Province, we are doing our best to try to negotiate some money to bring forward a meaningful work program, not only for those who were on it last year and the year before, but for some people who may fall off in January on the fisheries program. If hon. members will bear with me, I will be more than happy to stand in this House when the time comes and announce a meaningful program. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, stand and present a petition today on behalf of fifty residents of the community of Branch.

The petition reads: `To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador asks for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer: We, the undersigned, do hereby request the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to immediately provide emergency funding to generate desperately needed employment in our communities. As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.'

Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased today to hear the minister letting the House know that there are negotiations ongoing concerning some type of employment generation program and that his trip to Ottawa was somewhat of a success, even though he can't report anything to the House today. I look forward in the next few days to his reporting something positive, so that not only the people in Branch but indeed people throughout the whole Province can partake in some type of employment generation program.

I was worried this morning, to say the least, and maybe the minister will have an opportunity later to - I'm not sure if he can expand on his discussions - but the news media reported this morning that...I will leave that alone for a minute until the minister is ready to listen.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Branch have put forward this petition because of the fact that through no fault of their own, many of these people have been falling through the cracks in relation to the NCARP and TAGS program. A number of the people in this community have been successful in having a part in these programs. But, through no fault of their own, people who were indirectly involved in the fishing industry, with spin-off jobs, who hadn't the opportunity to partake in TAGS or NCARP, now, due to the fish plant closures and the fishery collapse have really no where to turn. These people, Mr. Speaker, in a lot of cases have built their homes and made their homes in the community of Branch so I do not see any reason why they have to leave. It is sad to even think that in order for somebody to get a job they have to pack up and leave the Island. These people have been trying their best over the past couple of years to try and find some type of alternate employment but they have not been successful in a lot of cases.

Mr. Speaker, I have talked to some people in the district over the past couple of weeks who have forwarded hundreds of names on petitions to me which I hope to have the opportunity to present in the House. People for the first time, as the hon. Member for St. John's East alluded to, have to turn to social assistance. There is an element of dignity and pride here that we have to look at. Whether the job is a $5 an hour job or a $10 an hour job there is something about getting up in the morning and going to work that all Newfoundlanders should have the opportunity to enjoy.

Those people do not ask for much, Mr. Speaker. They ask only for the opportunity to work and to provide for their families and not to be depending on social assistance. I hope the negativity toward those programs will not stop the minister in his efforts to try to find some funding. Whether he finds funding that is cost shared by the federal and provincial governments to provide employment is not the question. If that falls through, as he has touched on, that he cannot report anything positive today, then hopefully something will come forward in the next couple of weeks, and if the federal government does not come up with funding then perhaps the provincial government will come up with something themselves to help out these people.

I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations on his trip to Ottawa, that it is efforts like these that hopefully will bring some tangible results, not only to the people of Branch but indeed to people throughout the Province. We talk about the minister's trip to Ottawa so I ask the minister, if he could: on the news media this morning it was reported that the possibility of coming up with funding, supplying funding for those people who are unfortunate enough to be receiving their letters in the mail and are going to be dropped from the TAGS program, I ask the minister if he does get the opportunity to answer a few questions if he could enlighten us on this.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people, who I touched on before, who are not part of the TAGS program and they have been left out in the cold. It is those people these petitions are coming from, and those people who are looking for work. I hope that government does not come out with something just for the TAGS persons alone, but indeed for anybody who has the opportunity to apply. Maybe the minister will get the opportunity to respond, if not today, then some day shortly.

My understanding is that the minister is off to Ottawa again this week. I applaud him in his efforts in trying to find funding for the people of the Province and hopefully his visit to Ottawa will bring forward some fruitful results.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me pleasure to rise here today and support the petition raised by my colleague the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, a petition signed by a number of residents of Branch I read into Hansard.

Now, Branch has continuous settlement since 1790 in documented history, but what other members might not know here is that during the First World War the small community of Branch in St. Mary's Bay had the largest number of volunteers per capita of anywhere else in the British Empire, these people from Branch who stood up, and now their offspring are requesting work, no more than they should do.

Branch, St. Mary's - The Capes, anybody's district, is alike in what is happening to this Province. The District of Placentia is no different than St. Mary's - The Capes. I said last week that unemployment in the Placentia area is hovering at 73 per cent. Long Harbour and Mount Arlington Heights are just as bad. The people in Fair Haven, Southern Harbour, and Little Harbour are not faring much better. St. Mary's - The Capes, Placentia, most of our provincial districts are all rural. We have some urban districts but compared to other parts of this nation, other cities of this nation, St. John's is a rural town.

The people of this Province are hurting, and they are hurting for work. We all know that not only is work good for a person's pocket book, it is also good for their head. It is very important to people, work. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is scheduled to see the minister in Ottawa, Mr. Axworthy. The `Ax' has everything on the table, we are told. Every social safety net in Canada is on the table. The axe is being wielded by a person no better than Lizzie Borden, who could wield an axe.

We joined a country in 1949 that was supposed to be better for our people. It is too bad nearly fifty years later that the words of Mr. Peter Cashin are coming true. It is a sad state when we all - and I know members opposite and here, people have been talking about the calls they are getting about people looking for work. There is no hope. Men, women, looking for work, grandparents who are helping their children raise their grandchildren. Is this fairness and balance? No. It seems more like there is a more subtle resettlement on the go than the one that places in Placentia Bay witnessed in the late 1960s. A family reunion in this Province, sad to say, is a wake or a funeral, when our crowd comes home and one of their family members or friends are silent at that reunion.

This government has a prime responsibility for its people. The Government of Canada, should they come in with another program at a later date, would be gravy. What we are asking the Province is a step forward now. People on TAGS, yes, will be dropped off starting in December. There are other people in this Province who are hurting for ages. People for their first time having to go to Social Services. People on social services not getting enough to keep their households going. Their children are losing hope. We are getting to a pre-Smallwood way of Confederation where only certain classes of people could get their children educated.

This can't go on. Someone said if you keep on spending our grandchildren will pay for it. If we don't have work or have hope there won't be many grandchildren around. It gives me pleasure, like I said earlier, to support my colleague and kinsman for St. Mary's - The Capes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: No, kinsman, we are related.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are related.

MR. CAREEN: We are related. We have to give an element of hope to people. People have to be able to dig in with their fingernails and hold on, and we've been holding on to this rock long before we were allowed to settle here. Long before there had been people who had set up illegal settlements here. Must we go through that again?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. CAREEN: Thank you.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I just want to say to the hon. member that I understand where he is coming from. As I told other hon. members, we are working diligently, hard and long to try and correct the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: Diligently means hard and long.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, is Your Honour about to call Orders of the Day?

MR. SPEAKER: There was no one else standing on petitions, so....

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. Your Honour, could we call Motions 3 through 9, please?

Motion, the Premier to introduce a bill, "An Act To Provide For Economic Diversification And Growth Enterprises In The Province," carried. (Bill No. 51)

On motion, Bill No. 51 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act (No. 2)," carried. (Bill No. 48)

On motion, Bill No. 48 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Livestock Insurance Act," carried. (Bill No. 49)

On motion, Bill No. 49 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce the following bills:

"An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act" (Bill No. 47);

"An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act" (Bill No. 46); and,

"An Act To Amend The Mineral And Mining Rights Tax Act" (Bill No. 36), carried.

On motion, Bill Nos. 47, 46 and 36 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Wilderness And Ecological Reserves Act," carried. (Bill No. 50)

On motion, Bill No. 50 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we begin with Order No. 13, which is Bill No. 17, the adjourned debate on the amendment to the Municipal Grants Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 17, Order No. 13, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act".

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, if he speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. REID: No, Mr. Speaker, I adjourned the debate on Friday so I am assuming I can just make a few comments and then -

MR. SPEAKER: Oh, the hon. minister is introducing the second reading, okay.

MR. REID: I think we would be remiss in not allowing my hon. critic to make a few comments on this particular -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make one final comment on this particular legislation. It will provide, hopefully, more monies to smaller municipalities around the Province. By reducing the local revenue incentive grant it will definitely have an affect on the larger centres who are collecting revenues, large amounts of revenues but in doing that it won't affect so severely the smaller communities. If you remember last year, Mr. Speaker, the change to the municipal operating grant - and I was quoted on a number of occasions as saying: well we have to try to do something for the poorer communities in the Province if they are going to survive, at that particular point in time. That is basically what we had planned at that time and now finally, we are going to be able to introduce it.

I will also say to my hon. colleagues from across the way that these monies, the $500 per kilometre, of course has been already expended. We have sent out this $500 per kilometre to the municipalities because they needed it. They needed it up front and I am hoping today that my hon. critic and others who will speak on the bill will understand the situation that I find myself in, in regards to the CAP, and also take some consideration and have some consideration for some of the smaller rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to have the opportunity to make a few comments, Mr. Speaker, as it pertains to this bill, Bill 17.

Mr. Speaker, last year when the minister again changed the section of the municipal operating grants, especially with reference to the road component, from thirty-nine dollars back up to $500. Going back to 1989, Mr. Speaker, when the minister at that time, Mr. Gullage, changed the municipal operating grant - in fact, it was in the late fall, just before Christmas Eve, I think it was, in 1989 that the municipal operating grants were changed. Now the road component at that time, Mr. Speaker, went from some $2,000 a kilometre down to $1,949 or something like that. I think they lost around forty-eight to forty-nine dollars. The next year, Mr. Speaker, it went from that down to approximately $1,250. The next year, it went from that down to $800 and some odd and then it went from that down to I think, it was $300 and some odd or $400 and some odd then down to $39 a kilometre, from $2,000 a kilometre in 1989 to $39 a kilometre in I think it was 1992.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that was only one part of the component that makes up for the budgets of municipalities, one small part of the new municipal operating grants because they had four different sections: the equalization component, the local road component, the household component and the road component and then the other one was the capital projects and the capital works component. All those were changed but the one that really, really hit municipalities in this Province, Mr. Speaker, was the road component.

That $2,000 a kilometre was for winter and summer maintenance, it was not just for winter like for snow clearing or for summer maintenance, it was for year-round maintenance and it had an effect on every municipality in this Province. It made up the nucleus especially in municipalities that had a fair amount of roads to maintain, it made up the nucleus of their total revenues and their total budget.

When that went to thirty-nine, in 1992 I think it was, the very last spring, I think it was last spring's budget, the minister put it back up to $500, the present Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs brought it up to $500. and it was, he said at that time that it would help a lot of the smaller municipalities in the Province and it did, there is no question, it helped a lot of the smaller municipalities in the Province, especially those that had a fairly high mileage when it comes to road work and funds to be obtained under the road component, but, Mr. Speaker, in doing that, in bringing the $39 back up to $500 the minister, today, in this bill, that is exactly what he is trying to do, bring it back up to the $500 but at the same time, Mr. Speaker, in the last part of that bill, it says: and reducing or increasing the local revenue incentive component of each municipality on the basis of that percentage.

Now last year, when the minister released the information, when he put it back up to $500, the percentage I think was 13.52 if I am not mistaken. Yes, it amounted to municipal operating grants of some councils being reduced 13.52 per cent of the local revenue incentive component, so the minister stated Friday, that in doing this today, that he would be robbing Peter to pay Paul and it is true. The minister has a cap to play with; there was a cap of $41.5 million in the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs for the municipal operating grants.

Now for the minister to put it from $39 back up to $500, he had to get the money somewhere within that $41.5 million and in order to do that, they took it out of the local revenue component and, Mr. Speaker, there were a number of municipalities at that time, especially in most of the larger centres that lost some sizeable chunks of money but right now, the question - and the minister could answer it when he closes debate and I suppose to a certain extent he could go fairly close to it I would say - is what percentage of a loss would it be this year on the local revenue component in municipalities in the Province?

Would it work out to approximately be the same, would it be any less or would it be any more because, depending on what happens under the local revenue component in some municipalities, especially when you look at the formula for the local revenue incentive component, where - well the minister knows what I am talking about, it goes from zero to 250, you don't get anything per household and then from 251 to 500 there is 15 per cent, then it goes on to 25 per cent, 40 per cent and up to a maximum of $200. What difference would that make, I am wondering, this year?

The reason I ask that, and maybe he can't answer it yet - maybe he can't answer that yet - is that municipalities are in the process now of doing up their budgets. By law, under the Municipalities Act, councils in the Province are supposed to have their budgets submitted by the end of December. Certainly it wouldn't be any different than the past six years, this year wouldn't be any different if the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs changed it in midstream, because for the last six years, even after councils had made up their budgets, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs made some changes and adjustments during the year, which made it very difficult for municipalities to try to govern and try to run their affairs, because they would budget for something in December, and everybody knows - anybody running a business, or anybody just trying to keep a household afloat - that if they made some plans and projections at the beginning of the year, if something happens to creep in that is unforseen, it makes it very difficult to try to run even a household, let alone a business, so those people are all volunteers, trying to run a community, working all day, coming in the night time having meetings, trying to keep the affairs of municipalities right in the Province, and all of a sudden after two or three months, or four or five months, their budgets are sort of shot.

I know that the minister, and I would suspect, I suppose, some of his colleagues... I know there are members opposite who get complaints from their councils all the time with regard to what is happening under the municipal operating grants. We won't even talk about the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: They used to be afraid to speak up, but now they are not. They are speaking up now, but then again I suppose looking at what has happened in the last couple of weeks with regard to that... The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is a good one to talk about Liberals not saying anything. Look at the gentleman from Stephenville working in his department, just suspended for two weeks for opening his mouth. It is shocking.

Mr. Speaker, we just freed the people down in Haiti from a dictatorial regime. They have one over in Cuba, another dictatorial regime, and now they are becoming what I would say, benevolent dictators, when individuals and civil servants around this Province can't speak up.

I remember a time back in this Province when the same thing happened, when you couldn't open your mouth, you couldn't say anything, there was a gentleman referred to in the past, and then you knew what happened. They were labelled forever and a day. Now the same thing is happening.

The minister is talking about from 1985-'89, and talking about councils around the Province, one of the best times they have had it, from 1985-'89.

MR. EFFORD: Who did?

MR. WOODFORD: The councils in the Province.

MR. EFFORD: Port de Grave District didn't get a cent from 1985-'89.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, but the Port de Grave people can't be blamed for that, when they had the member - look who they had representing them.

AN HON. MEMBER: They had a nuisance for a member.

MR. WOODFORD: They had a nuisance for a member. That is what they told him.

Now the Member for Carbonear, the present Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, I can remember back and I know he can - back when Minister Newhook was Minister of Municipal Affairs, when the municipalities in the Province used to get fifty cents on the dollar.


MR. WOODFORD: Fifty cents on every dollar they collected, we will say, of property tax and local revenue in the community, they used to get fifty cents on the dollars.

Mr. Speaker, the member then for Carbonear was in Gander on the Federation of Municipalities, and what a racket. She knocked five cents off that time on municipalities, and I am telling you, what a commotion we had in Gander on the reduction of five cents on the dollar.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: From fifty cents down to forty-five cents on the dollar, I am telling you, every municipality in the Province was in an uproar.

There is a bit of irony in it, Mr. Speaker, because the minister of the day now was one of the ringleaders in Gander that time, and going after Hazel Newhook, at that time the Minister of Municipal Affairs, to try to get that five cents back.

Looking at what is after happening since 1989, there is absolutely no conscience whatsoever when it comes to municipalities in the Province. I was wondering how Cabinet was making its decisions when it comes to municipal affairs. Looking at what happened in the last few weeks, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I can see why. I will tell you, what he is after doing to roads - now he has every council out there - I would submit to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs that by this time next year - he was talking the other day about ninety-five to 100 municipalities in trouble with regards to repayment on capital debt. I would say that you are going to have that many that probably won't even have a council.

I met with three councils on the weekend. The minister was present at one the other night.

MR. EFFORD: I will tell you one thing, (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you supporting this bill?

MR. WOODFORD: There you go. I never heard the Member for Gander, Mr. Speaker, and what he said, but I think he was saying something in reference to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I think he is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: This is the Municipal and Provincial Affairs bill. Do you support it?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He asked if you are supporting the bill.

MR. WOODFORD: No, Mr. Speaker, I'm not supporting the bill, if that is what the member is getting at. I'm trying to make reference to what happened since 1989. What was before 1989 and what happened since 1989 with regards to the funding to municipalities.

I was in the community of Hampden Saturday evening to a meeting. They haven't had a meeting yet to do up their budgets for 1994. They have to try to meet now the next couple of weeks. They were saying then that once they meet they are pretty well sure now, and they haven't even had their elections yet, that they are not even going to get a council. They won't get one member to run for council. I just experienced right in my own community - we always had, right back to when I was involved in it, back in 1974, always had thirteen, fourteen people running for council. Always, every year. They called for nominations, I think it was on November 4, they had two people. Two people submitted to the -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No, the Cormack council. Two people to run. They asked the minister to name another nomination date. He named a nomination date for last Thursday. They got another four people to run. They almost have to beg now to get someone to run for council.

Make no wonder. There is no way in the world, every way they turn, and they are taking the heat. They are the people who are on the battle lines, they are the people that the constituents can get at. They are living in the community. Although they are volunteers they are living in the community and the people can get at them. If they put the mil rate up from eight to nine or eight to twelve, if they put the commercial rate up, if they put the poll tax up, if they take out street lights - look at the gentleman the other day out in Bonavista somewhere. Look at the heat that he took. Elliston, is it? For what?

If you go right back and you see where the cuts were made back since 1989, Mr. Speaker, I just don't know how municipalities in this Province are making it today. Because they are hit every way possible. There is no way for them to run their affairs. Most of them have no professional people to help run the clerks who are in the office in the day time. They come in after working all day, four or five people, or six or seven people, sit down, try to make decisions. Every time they come in they sit down with something new, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs saying that there is something else cut, some other part of a cut.

This piece of legislation, although it will protect the $500 that was there last year, and a loss of 13.52 per cent, what loss will there be this year? The councils will not know that until they do up their budgets for this year. They won't know. Because in last year's statement the minister in note 2 said: The above grants are estimates only and will be revised in the spring of 1994. Adjustments determined at that time will be paid or deducted on a quarterly basis during the calendar year.

Now how do you do up a budget? They have to have it submitted and the councils, under the Municipalities Act, their budgets are supposed to be balanced. So how can the minister on one hand say under the Municipalities Act to municipalities in the Province: your budgets have to be balanced or do not send them in but at the same time, three or four months or five or six months into the year, the minister or the Government of the day, can change that budget? It is not fair. It is certainly not fair if the council out there, who are volunteers, have to keep and abide by the rules of The Municipalities Act. It should be a two way street. There should be some accommodation made to try to at least adhere to the budgets submitted by councils at the end of December, December 31 of every year. There should be some accommodation made. If there are going to be adjustments made, make it for the next year.

That is like the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who came out with this grandiose scheme of collecting $3,000 or $3,500 per kilometre. Now the minister knows full well - how can municipalities start paying that in mid-year, mid-season after bringing up a budget twelve months ago? They cannot do it anyway and with the downloading on municipalities since 1989, there is no way, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for Fortune - Hermitage, who is an advisor now under this new Caucus structure that they have over there, he is an advisor to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. SULLIVAN: What is he advising him on?

MR. WOODFORD: The Member for Fortune - Hermitage. Now this is another member that was associated with the Federation of Municipalities for years. Now if anybody should know how and what is happening to councils in the Province, it is that member.

The Member for Gander is another one and his family, his father was associated with council for years. He knows full well of every respected member of the Gander Council, Mr. Speaker, and it is not like those members never had an interest in councils affairs, Mr. Speaker, because they did.

Getting back to the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, in his role now as Caucus advisor to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, there is at least two there that could use a common sense approach and try to wrestle down the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Now he is on a roll this week, he was gone one day now and has not announced any changes, so he is on a roll. He is on a roll, Mr. Speaker, so they can keep him down now and try to cut the amounts that he is looking for now from councils over the next six or seven months, cut that out for this year, that will help the councils, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in note three of the ministers announcement last year, he said: the final adjustment to the 1993 Municipal Operating Grants, of which council has already been informed, is not reflected in the above figures for 1994 but should be provided for councils in the 1994 Budget. Appropriate payments or deductions for the 1993 adjustment will therefore be made quarterly during the calender year 1994, in conjunction with payment of the regular quarterly grants.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister did not say but I would imagine that that is what is going to happen this year. There is going to definitely be, because of this $500 being put in again for this year, there are going to be councils around the Province who are going to be down under their local revenue component. They have to be. Last year there was 13.52 per cent that came out of the total figure of 41.5 per cent. Most all of it came out of the local revenue component and if that is down, even if it is down to 8 per cent this year, Mr. Speaker, it is going to make a drastic difference to councils around the Province. Now this is almost the end of November, there is no way for them to know it before they do up their budgets for the end of December and they are going to be hit in mid-season again, mid-year again.

Mr. Speaker, the only way this is going to be fixed to make it a little easier for councils in the Province, and in order to get people interested in running for council again, is for the minister and his colleagues, especially his colleagues in Cabinet, and the backbenchers - because it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, in the last couple of months what the backbenchers can do. They don't realize how much power they have, they are just not using it. There may be fifteen Cabinet ministers there but, Mr. Speaker, if the backbenchers held together and lobbied some of the ministers, they can bring forward changes. And that cap of $41.5 million has to be raised, or I can assure you that you will have, within the next twelve to eighteen months, at leased 100 municipalities in this Province that will not have a council, will not have a council. They would be fools to run for council. Why should they take all the heat? Why should they stand in their community halls and in their communities and be vilified, and every day of the week walk into a store, a post-office and get nailed for carrying out the duties that someone else dictated? Under the Municipalities Act the minister tells them what to do, what to collect and then they take the heat. They can't do it.

The other Cabinet ministers will soon find out; and I am sure I am not the only one getting it from municipalities, members on my side, members on the other side of the House have to be getting calls from their councils with very, very grave concerns. And Cabinet members - I am not just talking about backbenchers - I say Cabinet ministers are getting it as well. And if they raise the cap - for an example, Mr. Speaker, a small example of what can be done to help. Last year, the exact dollar value that was offered at 13.52 per cent, I never stopped to calculate it, but if that 13.52 per cent were put back on top of the cap that is there, the $41.5 million, I would venture to bet - and that was done every year, corresponding to the other way up, then some municipalities around the Province may be able to swing it.

The other thing that municipalities have today, Mr. Speaker, they have been hit so hard the last five or six years and on top of that, there is the downturn in the economy. We have the fishery, practically gone; all the monies coming in to municipalities through the fishery and people working in fish plants and the fishers and so on, that is not coming anymore. People are on different programs and they are doing what comes first, that is, putting bread and butter on the table, everything else is secondary. Bills, council bills, council fees, poll tax, property tax come last. A lot of those municipalities have no other infrastructure, they have absolutely no infrastructure that they can claim with regard to commercial rates, to raise property taxes, they can't do it.

I remember the Premier standing in the Legion in Deer Lake, I think it was in 1990-1991 and he said then that: every municipality in this Province should at least have a mil rate of thirteen to fourteen; great, easy to say, but when you make a general statement like that, Mr. Speaker - I mean, thirteen to fourteen mils in St. John's, thirteen to fourteen mils in a little community out around rural Newfoundland, it depends on the infrastructure, it depends on the income, it depends on the value of the property and this is why we have the equalization component, to make up for properties; for instance, if there is a value of $30,000 on a house in Jackson's Arm versus the same house in St. John's worth $100,000, the difference, it is the difference that is paid to that municipality.

Now, they can put up the property tax, you can put up your mil rate from six to twenty-six in Jackson's Arm, what are you going to get? The top three or four houses in that community, their taxes will raise, the rest pay no more. So, Mr. Speaker, it is a dilemma for the small municipalities in the Province - not only the small municipalities but larger municipalities as well.

Now, I notice that under this $500 per kilometre and the 13.52 per cent that was taken away from local revenue component, that a lot of the larger municipalities lost off that and the smaller ones gained from the amount that was put from $39 up to $500, no question. But when you look at the other components and the change to the capital works - another one that really hit is the new formula for the repayment on capital debt. That one hit municipalities hard. They are starting to adjust somewhat now but when that first came in - it was put in over a two-or-three-year period, that one hit municipalities hard, especially where we had the downturn in the economy and so on.

Now, in the last year or so with this new infrastructure program that took into consideration recreation centres, water and sewer and so on, around the Province, a lot of municipalities didn't partake of that because they couldn't - some did, but they now find out they can't make the payments. Although it was only one third any municipalities that were up to their maximum of $300 per household, plus the CPI for the year, were safe enough, because whatever the government was paying through the Newfoundland Municipal Financing Corporation didn't change. That didn't change, they just made the payments the same as if they had never received any dollars. But any municipalities that weren't up to that $300 per household, plus the CPI for the year, could not take advantage, and most of those who did are in trouble today.

Members opposite should take an interest in making sure, aided by the minister, that that cap is raised. That cap should be raised for next year, if there is anything going to be done, and it will help all municipalities in the Province. They are the third level of government. They are the level of government who is taking the heat up front in their municipalities and they should be given a little break.

Now, the Federation of Municipalities should be speaking up for all municipalities in the Province. I don't hear much these days when it comes to lobbying. There used to be a very, very strong lobbying group for municipalities in the Province. I know it is still there, but how strong it is, I don't know. They are going to have to speak up and start lobbying, along with members opposite and members on this side of the House if there are going to be any changes to that cap as it pertains to municipal operating grants.

Mr. Speaker, this is only one bill having to do with municipalities. There are others coming up, especially with respect to the Assessment Act, and others as well, that are going to have a profound effect, I might add, on municipalities in the Province, not only this one, but there will be others that are coming up that the minister will try to get through the House in this session. Members opposite should note, and members on this side of the House will be speaking as well, in explaining how that is going to affect the municipalities in this Province. I think the time has come, after six years of cuts, that municipalities in this Province should be given a break, especially now with the downturn in the economy.

Mr. Speaker, my time is up. Other members would like to have a few words, and I will be speaking on some of the other bills in any case.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill 17 and go back to some of the comments made earlier by the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

In the closing comments of his opening remarks, he said that he hoped, as we spoke, we would have consideration for smaller rural communities in the Province. I echo the comments of the minister on that, but I find it hard to understand, in several instances in my district, how this government over the past couple of years defines the word `consideration' as it relates to some of the smaller rural communities.

Another comment of the minister awhile back, last year I believe, was that somewhere between 95 and 100 towns will be in trouble in this Province with payment on their capital debt, and I believe a couple of those communities could be within my district of St. Mary's - The Capes.

I have met with most of the councils over the past year or so, in my first year in politics, and discussed some of the problems they are having in their communities, and a fair number of them come from changes in regulations and changes in the Municipalities Act that really go right to the heart of the communities in relation to the services they provide for their residents.

Mr. Speaker, these communities, over the past number of years, have been hard hit by the collapse in our fishery, especially in my district where 100 per cent of the communities have been dependent upon the fishery over the years, and because of the collapse in the fishery, it has been very difficult to collect taxes.

I know, myself, from the experience of spending a couple of terms on the community council of St. Bride's back in the 1980s, that the opportunity to collect taxes was excellent in relation to the operation of the fish plant in our community. We used to collect somewhere around 60 per cent of our overall taxes from people who were involved in the fish plant, or the fishermen themselves, and since the collapse of the fishery, it has become all the more difficult, because it has become impossible to garnishee people's wages at their place of work, since many of them have been forced on to what was known as NCARP and is now known as TAGS program. This is the case, not only in the community of St. Bride's, but throughout the thirty-odd communities in the district of St. Mary's - The Capes.

Mr. Speaker, all attempts have been made by councils over the years, and I know in my own experience that several attempts have been made through the court, through collection agencies and the like, trying to collect some part of the taxes that are owing. And it has become all the more difficult because, as I said, of the economic collapse of the communities in relation to the fishery.

Over the past number of years, some of the major problems that we had in our district were in relation to the road component of the municipal operating grant, and definitely, last year, when the minister announced that he was increasing the road component from $39 up to the $500 it was welcome news for a fair number of the communities in that regard, that they would receive some extra money last year. But it should be noted that since 1989, when this government took power, the municipal road component of the municipal operating grant has been decreased from $2,000 down to what was $39 and then back up to $500.

Mr. Speaker, this road component that was used was for several reasons over the term of twelve months in that it provided, at that time, when there were a fair number of gravel roads in our communities, some upkeep during the summertime and snow clearing in the wintertime. The fact that it has dropped now to $500 has hurt the municipalities in trying to provide this service to people who don't live on the main road that is paved, but in relation to people living on side roads that are still gravel roads.

Mr. Speaker, over the past year or so, the announcement by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation in relation to snow clearing, and the fact that it has gone from $3,500 that they were going to force municipalities to pay out of their municipal operating grant - $3,500 for each kilometre of road that was snow cleared, or somewhere thereabout - was indeed a blow to a fair number of communities, and because of the reaction of those communities across the Province, the minister was supposed to drop that back to $2,000 a kilometre this year, and he still plans on bringing it up to $3,500 as of next year. Mr. Speaker, at this present time, those communities now will find it difficult to operate if the municipal operating grants keep coming down year after year.

Those communities budget those dollars in December. As the hon. member mentioned earlier, those municipalities have to budget their dollars by the last of December for the following year. Then, when the government comes in and changes the rules halfway through the game, it is very difficult for those communities to keep up with those changes. I think that, as the Member for Humber Valley touched on, the budget is supposed to be a balanced budget under the municipalities act. Indeed, the councils are brought to task if they do not have a balanced budget. I say that the department definitely should be working in conjunction with the municipalities in hopes that their budget will stay balanced throughout the year and not be changing the rules, which indeed changes the amount of money that the Town has to spend out over the balance of the twelve months.

Mr. Speaker, what we have to remember in a lot of cases with these municipalities is that the council members are volunteers, people who are struggling to make a living otherwise and usually spend an hour or two a week trying to run the affairs of their community, based 100 per cent upon a volunteer basis. As a matter of fact, I know several of the communities in my district that have town clerks, we will call them, and for some reason or other, because of the number of dollars that the community takes in, can only afford to have the town clerks in their offices for four to eight hours a week. The town clerks are forced into spending considerable volunteer time trying to keep the affairs of their community together.

On behalf of these people who have given their time and effort and commitment to their communities, and, indeed, to the Province as a whole, burdened with changing rules in the municipalities act, burdened with trying to collect the taxes, burdened with trying to operate their communities with very few dollars, I say that the government should step in and try to help, now I guess more than ever during this time. I understand that the government, too, is under restraint in trying to operate the Province, but these municipalities really should be lent a helping hand wherever possible. I hope the minister can bring forward some type of operation in his department whereby a budget laid out by a municipality is operated for the twelve months by the council and by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, in which case, I think it would be much easier for the community to operate.

At this time, as I said, with the collapse in the fishery and the economic collapse that we are experiencing in our communities, I think the onus is on government to try as much as possible to keep these communities alive, and to provide funding, and not be forcing councils to cut services. Because really, it is the members of these councils who have to stand up in their own municipalities and tell people: We are going to take the lights off the poles or we have to shut down one of the dams, or whatever the case may be. That we aren't going to clear A road this year, we can only afford to clear the snow off B road. I think we expect much more than we should from these volunteers who make up the councils in our districts.

If I may touch on, for a moment, the infrastructure program that was announced last year. It was certainly welcome news to a great number of the communities, but the fact that, in many cases, the communities had to come up with a third of their funding themselves really posed a problem to a great many communities in my district. Hopefully, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs will be able to come up with some type of program where we can improve our water and sewer and improve our roads, through grants of some kind from government, and not be depending upon the municipalities to come up with a sizeable chunk of money.

In the case of a small community in my district, numbering around 200 residents, they want to do $100,000 worth of work with the water line there, and have to come up with over $30,000 themselves. It is very difficult at this time when they are trying to keep the lights on the poles, the garbage collected and the roads cleared of snow. I realize that these communities have to operate within their means, but when they are asked to operate well below what they were used to operating under, it creates hardship, not only for the councils, but indeed for the residents of the communities.

I was very pleased to hear the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation announce a few weeks ago that they weren't going to take $3,500 a kilometre off the municipalities this winter, they were going to demand $2,000 from their MOGs this winter for snow clearing per kilometre, and next year they will go to $3,500. It was welcome news to an extent - it would have been more welcome if they were to come back and tell the municipalities that they were going to go back to what they had before. Because even at $2,000 a kilometre it gets quite expensive in some communities that have many side roads. The council now is being forced to have these roads cleared by a local contractor instead of being cleared by the department themselves. I certainly understand, Mr. Speaker, what the minister was saying in relation to not having the Department of Works, Services and Transportation clear those roads first. Sure, the main road has to be given priority but in the off-time or on days that are not so busy I am sure the department could take their turn and do some work on the side roads in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, over the past years councils - because of certain regulations and parts of the act - have been forced to take drastic measures within their communities. I will bring to light, just last week when the Council of Gaskiers needed some work for what we would call or deem a local road in our community - and this council was for the past year-and-a-half trying to partake in the infrastructure program, trying to find some type of job development program or whatever, to bring forward some dollars so that they could improve this road which was a major safety concern to the people of Gaskiers, indeed to the Council of Gaskiers but they had to take the drastic step of putting it into the media light in order to get some work done by their government really, in being forced to provide some dollars, much needed dollars to this council. I have to say thank you to the minister on that because he did come up with the dollars that were necessary to do this road and hopefully these people, the students who travel on that bus will have a safe winter, Mr. Speaker.

Another topic that has come up, Mr. Speaker, over the past couple of months is the fact of regional councils. A fair amount of my District of St. Mary's - The Capes is being asked to be involved in this new concept of a regional council. There are some concerns and I hope that the department will hold consultations with the communities involved before they are forced into being part of this regional council. Really, many municipalities are concerned in fact that if they have their books in the black that they will be somehow brought in line to take care of communities who have - for no reason, no fault of their own - have their books in the red, Mr. Speaker. It is a big concern for them.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation I say, Mr. Speaker, finds nobody to speak to on the weekend when he is home because when he comes in Monday he cannot stop talking. So he must be really having lonely weekends.

MR. CAREEN: Try seat belts (inaudible).

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I mentioned about the regional councils and I met with a couple of councils in my district who are concerned about the regional council concept and how much it really is going to cost them to be a part of this. As I said before, I hope that the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - why doesn't the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation go out now and cancel the seat belt legislation?

MR. CAREEN: Why don't he get his head inspected? Get your head inspected, that should be mandatory.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I say that the minister came in last year and talked about the safety concerns. He came in a couple of weeks ago and talked about the safety concerns and reduced them from .08 down to .05. He came in last year -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you agree with that?

MR. MANNING: - I did not say I agreed on it, listen. He came in last week and talked about .08 down to .05, he came in talking about the safety concerns and then he comes in, Mr. Speaker, and talks about cutting out the regulations. So here he is a flip-flop minister. Well under the rules of the House, Mr. Speaker, I cannot call the minister a lair because you are not allowed under the rules of the House so I will just have to call him a Liberal.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I will get back to what I was touching on in relation to the regional councils. I hope that the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs brings forward some type of consultation process with those communities that are going to be involved before they bring them into the concept of the regional councils because community councils are being forced to cut and reduce their services now, Mr. Speaker. This act that is coming forward now or the amendment to the act that is coming forward will only hurt these councils more in the amount of the MOG that they will receive.

MR. EFFORD: What councils?

MR. MANNING: Several councils. Mr. Speaker, councils have had, over the past couple of years, very much difficulty in collecting taxes within their communities because of the fishery collapse and right now I do not think is the time for government to be really downloading a lot of their problems - I do not think this is the time now for the department to be downloading a lot of their problems down to the municipalities.

I say that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is fully aware of downloading because of his actions over the past year-and-a-half. He is fully aware of what downloading means and I hope - but I must say that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs acted quickly last week in my district in relation to a problem that we had in the Gaskiers. There is something I should add that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has been aware of for well over a year and decided to do nothing about it, and kept passing the buck to somebody else, but when the situation came before the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs he acted fairly and quickly and had the situation dealt with.

I think that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation could take a lot of lessons from the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, I say to the minister, that we touch back on these council members who have to go out in their communities, as I said before, with who are a group of volunteers who come forward every week or every month and do their part for their communities, but they have to go back and pass on the bad news to their communities in relation to cutting and reducing services such as lighting on poles, and garbage collection, and snow clearing, etcetera, and really it is because of the inaction of this government in helping these communities survive at this particular time of our history. I think it is unfair to those communities, and I think the government should try to improve on exactly what we have now, or at least hold on to the status quo, while we get through this tough economic time.

Mr. Speaker, right now I don't believe is a time to be downsizing to municipalities. They have a job that they are trying to do on a totally volunteer basis, and I think that the onus is on government to bring forward some type of assistance to these municipalities in the hope that this act that really is going to bring more hardship to the communities will not pass through this House, but that indeed the government will come up with something more positive that will improve not only the municipalities but indeed the lives of the residents of the municipalities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, half an hour maybe.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 17, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act", whenever I hear this government making changes to the Municipal Grants Act, I get worried for the municipalities in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, downloading seems to be the name of the game today. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is going to try and play childish, silly games with me. He can continue to do so, but hopefully he won't interrupt me. I will try not to interrupt him too often.

Mr. Speaker, downloading from the federal government to the provincial government to the municipalities to the taxpayers has been ongoing in this Province since 1989, since this government took power. Taxes come from the same pot. People who pay the taxes in this Province pay it to the federal government, to the provincial government, and to the municipal government. It all comes from the same pot, and there is only so much out there.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is persisting in interrupting me. Maybe what we should do for the hon. minister is, Christmas is coming on and we should have a parade for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I believe.


MR. J. BYRNE: We should have a parade for the minister. His head is getting that big, since he got back in Cabinet, we could use it for a float for a parade.

Mr. Speaker, the ways towns in this Province have been treated since 1989 is nothing less than shameful. The people in this Province do not realize what is going on in this Province with respect to the municipalities. The effect basically is that the provincial government is taking money out of the pockets of the people in this Province through the municipalities, through forcing them to raise their taxes.

The grant restructuring program in this Province cut the grants to the municipalities by as much as 60 per cent - 60 per cent that had to be passed on to the taxpayers in this Province - and the municipalities are taking the brunt of this. The the debt retirement since 1989 has doubled again, that basically says that the municipalities in this Province are paying back the money to the provincial government doubled. That had to be passed on to the taxpayers in this Province, no talk of that by the government opposite. The roads component which this bill is about, Mr. Speaker, the effects of the roads component, they are talking about giving back $500 per year. I have to ask the minister a question with respect to that and that is: what are the conditions?

Now, Mr. Speaker, the roads component, when this government took over in 1989, the municipalities were getting $2,200 per kilometre per year for road maintenance and snow clearing; now, Mr. Speaker, this government has that cut to $65 per kilometre per year, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation had a great deal to play in that; the great, white fighter for the people of this Province before he got back in Cabinet, he has been muzzled, says nothing these days, only support the government policies that he knows he can't support.

Mr. Speaker, people cannot pay their taxes any more. It is going beyond all reasons of respectability. Not long ago, I received a letter from a person in Torbay, Mr. Kavanagh, and I believe he sent a copy to every member in the House of Assembly, and in that letter he referred to a CBC interview not long ago, of an individual from a community, a rural town, Mr. Speaker, and they asked him: why doesn't he pay his taxes? and he said: I can't pay my taxes, I just can't; are you hearing me, I can't pay my taxes. Mr. Speaker, that is what the man said.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can make all the fun he wants to make light of the situation but it is not a very funny situation. It is okay for a member to say in this House, a minister who is making $100,000 a year plus, make fun of a situation when a man cannot pay his taxes, but it is no funny situation. Towns are being forced in this Province to cut services. They have to turn off the street lights in this town because they cannot pay the light bill to Newfoundland Power and why can the towns not pay it? Simply put, the people in the Province and in a lot of the towns cannot pay their taxes to the towns therefore it is a chain reaction. If one does not pay the other cannot pay.

In many of our small communities, they are one-industry towns, and some of these industries are closing. In particular, the fish plants; the fish plants in the towns in this Province - well, the cod moratorium did a job on those businesses, therefore, the ability of the people living in those towns was drastically cut in paying their taxes; they cannot pay their taxes. When you consider their choices, Mr. Speaker, what do they do? They have no choice. They have to put bread and butter on their tables to feed their children and it becomes a matter of priority and that is what we are in today in Newfoundland and Labrador. The minister's solution, with respect to the municipalities paying the government their debt retirement and the cuts they have received over the past number years, the minister's solution to deal with that, is to raise the mil rate. That is a very, very simplistic solution.

From my perspective, and being a former mayor of a small town, the towns and the taxpayers are meeting the point of diminishing returns. Mr. Speaker -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, not yet, not yet. Don't you worry about it. Mr. Speaker, what this government is basically doing, through their finances and through their downloading on the municipalities, is trying to force amalgamation. A big, dirty word, amalgamation; they are trying to force it through causing financial burden on the municipalities. The government's history over the past five years, six years, is, basically from my perspective, their policy is let's do it and deal with the consequences later. A very good example, I think, is the St. John's Regional Fire Fighting Board. Something that was brought in by this government, Mr. Speaker, with no consultation.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)!

MR. J. BYRNE: I would like the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to sit in his place and be quiet like he does when the Premier is in his chair. Like the little mouse that he is when the Premier is here. You don't hear him squeaking up when the Premier is in his chair.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker. The St. John's Regional Fire Fighting Board was implemented with no consultation with the municipalities involved. The municipalities involved advised the government at the time that the St. John's Regional Fire Fighting Board would not work. They did their best to work within what was put forward by this government for six months and it was just impossible to work. Basically for a number of reasons.

It is not a regional board, it was never a regional board. There was a formula put in place that was not fair or approved by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. The formula was based on assessed value of properties. I remember having a meeting with the Premier and the minister of the day - Mr. Hogan, I believe - and the Premier made a statement that if it was a formula based on assessed value only it would not fly. Tell the mayor of the City of St. John's that it would not happen. The services that the towns were receiving (inaudible) completely different from that board than the services received by the City of St. John's.

Last spring in this House the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs made a statement - I asked a question, I believe, concerning how long more would it be before this problem is solved. He stood in his place and said: Can you give me two weeks? Two weeks is all I need. Here we are six or eight months later, same problem. Getting worse by the day because the towns are going to end up having to pay more back.

The government basically has admitted that they made a mistake. I believe they made a mistake, the towns involved, the municipalities involved, believe they made a mistake, and I know the minister now believes he made a mistake. They admitted this by saying that the St. John's Regional Fire Fighting Board could be dismantled. It could be dismantled, but conditional that the towns involved would have to pay the unfair bill that was heaped upon them by this government, or they would not be permitted to leave the St. John's Regional Fire Fighting Board.

As far as I am concerned, this government is responsible for causing the problem in the first place. They have admitted to it, therefore they are responsible for that bill to the municipalities that is there now in place, something like $2.7 million. The towns have tried to work something out but they can't come to an agreement, so I would like to ask the minister now, when he gets up to address this, when the solution is coming, if he could. I would also like to ask him are they considering a transition grant. If so, how much, and when they are going to get it. I would also like to ask him how much he is planning on punishing the towns, or how he is planning on punishing the towns with his legislation that he is proposing to bring in to solve this problem.

The towns today are getting more of a financial burden placed upon them because of this St. John's Regional Fire Fighting Board bill. They can't deal with it, it is just too much money. It has to be worked out in the very near future, hopefully before Christmas. My possible solution to it is that they would have a basic rate and a call out response for the response time, or a response fee, which would be hopefully agreeable to all.

This government has talked about forcing the rural towns to pay $3,000 a year for snow clearing across this Province. They changed that I believe down to $2,000 for this year, or $2,500 up to $3,000 next year. Again, a down loading of the provincial government onto the towns or municipalities that can least afford it. Also, I saw in the budget last year I believe it was a very short paragraph that basically said that this government is planning to accelerate the takeover of connector roads to the municipalities. In actual fact, the smaller towns now would have to take over responsibility for roads in the town, for both maintenance and snow clearing, that they do not have responsibility for now, Mr. Speaker. This in itself would place an undue burden on municipalities. If that is the case, if that is what is coming down the tube, something has to be worked out with the towns where the roads themselves would be brought up to an acceptable standard to the town before any transfer is done.

Government is constantly creating problems. As mayor of a small town before I got elected to the House of Assembly I had decided I would not run again for council, and this was touched upon by the Member for Humber Valley a few minutes ago. It was because of the attitude problem of the government and the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Whenever the towns go to municipal affairs with a problem, with a proposal, or with some good idea they have, the attitude was, here are the reasons why you cannot do this. These are the reasons why you can't. There was no such thing as, let us sit down and discuss this and find out whether or not you can accomplish your task.

Town plans are controlled by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Assessments which effect the ability of municipalities to collect taxes on the amount of money they receive is controlled by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. New assessments are suppose to be done every six years but some towns now have to go as many as eight years without a reassessment, yet municipal affairs charges each year the municipalities for an assessment. Basically, all it is, is just run it through a computer and they charge thousands for that service, Mr. Speaker.

This government I honestly believe has an attitude problem. They have a defeatist attitude, and another good example of that defeatist attitude was the situation in the Marystown Shipyard. I thought that a number of years ago the provincial Government of Newfoundland and Labrador signed the Atlantic Accord with the federal government to deal with such issues as the Marystown Shipyard, to create jobs, to talk about technology transfer at the Hibernia project, but I do not believe this has happened.

I often wonder since the Marystown situation arose a month or so ago what would happen if the same situation was in Saint John, New Brunswick and they were taking the work from Saint John, New Brunswick and moving it to Marystown? What would Premier McKenna do in New Brunswick? I do not think he would get up in the Legislative Assembly and say, I do not know, we cannot do anything about it. It is absolutely shameful and this government certainly needs an attitude change.

Seeing this is a money bill and it is all related I want to say a few words about the jobs that are not being created by not having an emergency employment program. In this Province today we need new ideas. We need jobs created and the government opposite is sadly lacking in new ideas to create jobs in this Province. I have often heard the ministers opposite say when people on this side get up to speak, what would you do? Well, as I said earlier an attitude change certainly would not hurt the government.

The ministers opposite are being paid big salaries to solve the problems in this Province. Mr. Speaker, a year or two down the road when we form the government, hopefully we will come up with some new ideas that this group are sadly lacking.

Again, associated with people being able to pay their taxes in the municipalities, as I say, we need more ideas and the type of ideas this government are coming up with is the payroll tax. When the payroll tax was first introduced it was based on a gross payout of salary of $300,000, but that did not hurt small business enough in this Province, that did not hurt them enough, so they had to reduce it down to $100,000 in payroll, maybe a small company with four or five jobs.

From studies shown small businesses are the people who are creating jobs in this country now, and the payroll tax was a direct attack on small business in this Province. We have businesses that were employing a number of people but once they went over the $100,000, they let people go and they would hire people so they would not have to go over that $100,000. Again, it affects people's ability to pay taxes in this Province to the municipalities. Only last week or the week before, we saw a situation where a couple in the small crafts business making crafts from antlers, was shut down, Mr. Speaker. That was the first reaction from this government, let us close them down, let us close them down, rather than try to find ways to keep the doors open, but eventually it was solved because of an outcry from the people of this Province.

Another policy that is causing the loss of jobs in this Province and will cause the loss of jobs in this Province, is the new policy, the brainwave of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to cut out motor vehicles inspections. Now, how many jobs are going to be lost here, how many jobs in the small communities and in the rural towns of this Province, and the small, family garages, are going to be lost because of that policy, Mr. Speaker? Aside from the fact of throwing safety out the window, how many jobs are going to be lost in this Province because of that? All the government's policies from my perspective, sitting on this side of the House and looking at every policy that is brought in by this government, no matter how abstract it may be, is geared to putting more money in the coffers of the government of this Province.

For example, again, with the cutting of the motor vehicle inspection, how many people now, when they are hauled in are going to end up paying - call it a tax, a ticket, whatever the case may be to the Province, because they have a headlight out or a tail- light out or something of that nature, and you can rest assured that that is coming down the tubes as sure as I am standing here. As I said, every policy is taking money out of the taxpayer of this Province. This government will go down in history as the know-nothing and do-nothing government when it comes to job creation in this Province. Whenever the Premier is asked a question in the House: I don't know, I don't know. That is the answer, typical.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well it will be there, it will get in Hansard, the do-nothing and know-nothing government of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon? Do you want me to finish?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, good enough. I could finish now but I have lots I could go on with, but any way, only a few minutes.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with this bill, the minister says there is going to be more money going to the smaller communities. I would have to question that very seriously.

When they made the change to the municipal grant restructuring in this Province, that was the same story put forward, that the smaller municipalities would get a bigger share of the money. It did not happen and I don't see it happening, so I would ask the minister, when he gets up to address this, what are the conditions placed on this money? What do they have to do to get the money?

Mr. Speaker, I had planned to go on but it is getting late in the afternoon and I would like to give the minister a chance to respond to this bill so, thank you, for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now, he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No sir, I cannot tell you when the Northeast Avalon fire-fighting question will be over, and it was almost a year-and-a-half ago that I said that, not six or eight months ago, and I am not sure that I am ever going to be able to settle it to tell you the truth but I am working on it.

The other thing was, there was never a formula put in place, that is the problem that I have. There was never a formula accepted by anybody in either government or in the municipalities and that is the reason why we are in the trouble we are in right now, because there was no formula set at that particular time.

Mr. Woodford, from Humber Valley was talking about the grants.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would caution the member that in this House we refer to members by district.

MR. REID: Humber Valley. Mr. Speaker, people call each other by names here all the time and other names and is never challenged but I will abide by your ruling.

Letters have gone out to all the municipalities, in fact they went out last week, my hon. colleague, estimating how much money they will get for next year under the MOG; well I can say they are not going to change in midstream but as the hon. member knows, that based on a whole year's taxes and revenue, that is where the MOG comes from so until the end of December we really cannot give a true picture of what we owe to a community.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I move second reading. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 17)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we will call Order No. 14, which is an act to amend The Assessment Act, Bill No. 18. I am wondering, do we want to sit beyond 5:00 p.m. for a few minutes to clean it up?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well I do not know how long we are going to take to debate it. I mean having heard the speeches on the other one I - maybe I would call Order 14, if you would please, Sir.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Assessment Act". (Bill No. 18)

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

MR. REID: Yes, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

"An Act To Amend The Assessment Act," is basically to make some changes to the assessment of municipalities. I will say, Mr. Speaker, that most municipalities, in fact all municipalities in the Province know that this bill is being tabled and in 1994 have made adjustments to accommodate this particular bill. My hon. colleagues across the way will find out that most municipalities know that this is coming in and have taken the necessary precautions in 1994-95 to accommodate them.

I will also say that there is one particular problem with this bill and it has to do with the Town of Wabush. I have discussed this with the hon. Member for Menihek, I think on two or three separate occasions, and I will assure him that we are at present looking at that particular problem. That particular problem was addressed to me by the Federation of Municipalities, by Mayor Kelly from the town and from some others, but that is the only one right now that we have and that is the most serious one. So I am hoping that a committee of Cabinet, which has been appointed to look at that particular one, will be able to deal with that in the next couple of days so that we can have something rectified before this bill actually is approved, say tomorrow.

Just very quickly, Mr. Speaker, this bill basically deletes from the assessment the physical equipment, machinery and various other things that are in buildings. Prior to now, taxation or assessment was based on the building plus its contents. We feel at this particular point in time, that the building itself should be assessed and not the contents within the building. So Section 1, in the explanatory notes, this section of the bill would amend the act by including, in the definition of a building, heating and air conditioning systems - we will accept that - and other such systems that form part of the structure. I don't have any problems with that.

The Section 2 part, 1.(2), this part would amend the definition of the property provision of the act by removing from the definition machinery, equipment, and adding building service systems and storage facilities. Now, storage facilities of course, as most of us know, can now be oil tanks, located on the South Side Hills, for example, and other places around the Province.

Section of the bill 1.(c) would amend the definition of the act by adding a definition of storage facilities, which I referred to a few minutes ago.

Section 2, this section of the bill would amend the act to allow an assessor to reassess a piece of property without the necessity of a physical inspection in circumstances where no changes or alterations were made to the building, and the previous assessment would basically not change.

Section 3, this amendment would simply make section 18(3) of the act consistent with the amendment proposed in Section 2 whereby an assessor could reassess a property without the necessity of a physical inspection in certain circumstances.

Section 4, this amendment simply identifies January 1, 1995 as the effective date of the amendment redefining property, but we would be redefining property on January 1, 1994, on the effective date of the other amendments proposed in the bill.

To finish up, Mr. Speaker, if this amendment is adopted municipalities will no longer be able to impose municipal taxes on the value of machinery and equipment within buildings. Now that is going to have, like I said, somewhat of a detrimental effect to certain communities, but not to any great degree.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: The cold storage?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: The bulk storage. We look at a bulk storage, or a tank or whatever, as basically being in the same description as a building. There is nothing in it. You can't tax what is in it, but at least you can tax the structure itself. What is the difference, for example, in an empty fuel tank located in Harbour Grace and M. A. Powell building located in Carbonear?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: For taxation purposes. You are still on a piece of land which takes up -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: So you are taxing the physical structure.

This bill will also amend the act to include in the definition of property, building service systems. I said that a few minutes ago, such as heating and air conditioning units. Now, in some cases that will benefit communities as well because we are adding those things to it. This will, of course, ensure that such systems and storage facilities would be subject to applicable municipal taxes based on their assessed values. Finally, the amendments would allow an assessor to reassess a property without having to actually go into the property to reassess it, inside the building.

Mr. Speaker, this particular bill has been, I suppose, in the making for years in regards to our assessment ability of properties, and when you stop to think about it there are -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. REID: I used to always have trouble with the telephone company in Carbonear because in Carbonear there is a substation. The question was, what was the value of the building? Should the building itself be valued and nothing else, or could you value the building and its contents? I am just using that as an example. The Newfoundland Telephone Company with all that equipment, you know, the price of that building would go up in the millions of dollars. I think the one in Carbonear was valued at something like $80 million, in a building worth less than $200,000.

I suppose if you want to call a spade a spade here, is it fair for a municipal government, or a provincial government, to be assessing a piece of property on equipment that is inside the building rather than just the building? There was a suggestion made some time ago, in fact it was made last week in reference to what we could do with the Northeast Avalon fire-fighting, because the Northeast Avalon fire-fighting formula was based on assessed value. There was a recommendation made to me that I had to look at, and the recommendation was basically this.

Businesses in St. John's should be assessed. Well, the problem I had with that, if you take, for example, the Avalon Mall. The assessors go in from the City of St. John's and they assess the Avalon Mall, and if they assess the Avalon Mall they assess the building. If the building itself is made up of fifteen, twenty, or 150 different sections it does not change the assessed value, so you cannot turn around and assess the building as a whole and then go in the building after and assess everything separately because you would be reassessing what you have already assessed.

The way you assess a business is you bring in a business tax, which is already in place. The City of Mount Pearl, the City of St. John's, and most of the major larger communities around the Province have a business tax.

Mr. Speaker, I don't have a lot of problems with this other than the fact that the identification of Wabush is one thing that we have to deal with, and I am hoping that we will be able to deal with that in the next couple of days whereby that particular question -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: On prompting from my two hon. colleagues who sit in front of me, I will sit down and not give them the opportunity to ever raise a question in the House again.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a few questions. The minister might get up and answer them when he closes debate on this, I suppose, tomorrow or whenever.

He explained, I think, some of the rationale for bringing in such a bill. One of the questions I would like to have answered is: What is the rationale for the changes? Who really requested the changes? Did it come from the federation, or did it come from certain municipalities around the Province? If it came from business people around the Province I can see, because they would probably want this brought in line with what happened with the utilities back in 1992, I think it was, when they changed the assessment on utilities in the Province and in municipalities.

The general property, which included buildings and warehouses and so on, would be subject to the property tax, and any equipment directly related to the generation, transmission and distribution of service, including substations, would be exempt from property assessments.

Now, for Newfoundland Power, for Newfoundland Hydro and Newfoundland Telephone, those would be the three big companies that would benefit mostly from the changes back in 1992-'93, and would certainly benefit from this type of bill, this type of amendment.

A town such as Wabush, a company town, which has buildings with a very, very high amount of valuable equipment in them, I can see where they would be losing a large amount of funding, but the changes made in 1992 to utilities, that were supposed to be enacted, incorporated into their budget in 1993, with regard to the municipalities, I can't see how that is going to affect them. That was done with regard to Newfoundland Tel, Newfoundland Light and Newfoundland Hydro back in the 1993 budget - and the minister can correct me if I am wrong when he stands. So, you know, who else out there would be looking for something like that, especially as it pertains to a municipality coming looking?

I can see it with regard to clauses 2 and 3 of the bill that gives an assessor the discretion in determining the degree of inspection required, because what happens in a lot of those businesses is, they go around doing the assessment and if there is nobody in the buildings, then they have to make trip after trip after trip to try to get the proper assessment on what is contained in the building. So this way, they can just come and do an assessment on the property and the actual, physical structure of the buildings themselves, and get an assessment and do an assessment rate, but now, everything inside is gone, everything inside is exempt, I suppose, that is what I can read into it, so all they have to do now, is do an assessment on the actual, physical structure of the building, regardless of where it is or what land it is on.

I have never heard tell of anybody looking for any changes that required the exemption of taxes on the equipment in the buildings; I have never encountered any municipality around the Province - in fact, if anything, Mr. Speaker, when the property assessment thing was changed and the utilities and cable companies in the Province, there was a bit of an outcry then from municipalities because they could charge on their total gross income from that community; they could charge a business tax on it. Now they are limited to 2.5 mils, and in some municipalities - to my colleague here, and the minister mentioned it, the Town of Wabush is going to be really, really hit, possibly to the tune of some $200,000; possibly that council could lose $200,000, if I am not mistaken, $193,725 if this particular piece of legislation is enacted.

Now, how many other municipalities around the Province are going to be affected, I don't know. The minister, I am sure, and his officials should be able to tell me and tell other members what kind of an impact this will have on other municipalities in the Province. The assessment abilities, I can see it, with regard to the assessor going around. Like I said, I can see it, but with regard to the effect it is going to have on municipalities, on their budgets, Mr. Speaker, it could be very extreme in some cases.

I can't see the minister bringing this type of legislation through the House if it is going to affect a certain amount, or I suppose the nucleus of the municipalities around the Province, especially after what is going to happen with Bill 17. If this is going to be what one of my colleagues referred to the other day as a double-whammy, it is going to be very detrimental, especially now. It is going to come into effect January 1, where budgets have to be brought down December 31. So all those councils have to have their budgets in by December 31, yet this piece of legislation doesn't come into effect until January 1. Now, how can they make adjustments? How can the do their budgets? They just can't.

When the minister rises to close debate on this piece of legislation, he can explain some of those concerns. Because if this is so, if it is going to be detrimental to most municipalities around the Province, I would think that this should go to a legislation review committee, to go around, for people to have some input into it - if it is going to be that detrimental. If it is going to be just two or three, well then okay, you can probably take another look at it.

With those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, thank you.


AN HON. MEMBER: Are we going to adjourn the debate?

MR. ROBERTS: Do we want to go beyone 5:00 p.m.?

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

MR. ROBERTS: If we are not going to finish at 5:00 p.m., my hon friend can speak tomorrow. My other comment is we have already said we will address the Wabush issue, because they came to me. I raised it with the minister. We will deal with it. If that is what he wants to talk about, we will hear what he has to say, gladly.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. the Member for Menihek adjourn the debate?

MR. A. SNOW: I adjourn the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me compliment the Member for Menihek on perhaps the most effective speech made in the House this afternoon, certainly by anyone on his side. I would move the House adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m., Sir.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Not to speak against the motion. I'm just wondering if we could get some clarification on Wednesday, Private Members' Day. As I understand it now, it is to be the resolution that is in the next order on the Order Paper, which is in the name of the Member for Twillingate. Is that correct?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend. I had meant to mention it but hadn't done so. We are back under the Standing Orders of the House, as opposed to the agreements, as it were, and under the Standing Orders, the next motion to be called will be the one that was number four last Wednesday, it is the motion standing in the name of my friend, the Member for Twillingate, who is not in his seat at this moment. It is the one having to do with environmental legislation. That will be called on Wednesday. It will be debated for two days unless the House decides to shorten the debate as we did with respect to the one - after that we will be dealing with my friends, the Members for St. John's Centre; LaPoile; Harbour Main; Fogo; and then we will get to my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, who is always worth the wait.

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