March 29, 1995              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLII  No. 8

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, a very brief statement on a matter that I am sure will win the accolade of the House. I became aware, only last night, that a former member of this House died during the recess and I refer to Peter Walsh who was the Member for Menihek for two terms. He was elected - if memory serves me - in 1979 and re-elected in 1982 and left the House in 1984.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my friend, the Member for Mount Pearl, I will attend to that. I had forgotten. But Mr. Walsh died in the middle of February. Apparently, he had been ill for some time. He was living near St. John's and died in hospital here. Mr. Walsh's service is known to many of us who were in the House with him and many members who served in the House. He succeeded the late Joe Rousseau as the Member for Menihek and represented his constituents effectively and served with distinction as a member of the House.

My friend, the Member for Mount Pearl reminds me, and I thank him, that Mr. Al Andrews who was twice elected as the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, also died during the recess. Mr. Andrews was elected in a by-election in 1980 when Roger Simmons resigned to seek the federal seat. He was re-elected in the general election in 1982 and in 1985 met the fate common to many political people, as happened at the hands of my friend, the present Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir who, I believe, defeated him in the general election of 1985. Mr. Andrews served in the Cabinet and I believe was the Minister of Environment and made his mark there, too.

I would ask, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure I speak for members on all sides, although I assume others will wish to say a word or two, that Your Honour, direct the appropriate letter of condolences to be sent to the family of Mr. Andrews and of Mr. Walsh. Thank you, Sir.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I certainly would like to be associated with the words of the Government House Leader with respect to the passing of Mr. Peter Walsh and Mr. Al Andrews, having served with both gentleman in caucus for a number of years. I want to pay tribute to both of them on behalf of our caucus. I think the Government House Leader has made most appropriate remarks. Mr. Andrews, indeed, was the Minister of Environment and as well, for a period of time as Minister of Culture, Recreation and Youth. I just want to join with the Government House Leader and all members in asking Your Honour to pass on the appropriate sentiments to the families of the deceased.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to be associated with the remarks of the Government House Leader in respect to the passing of Peter Walsh and Al Andrews who both served in this House, prior to my time there but I do know certainly of Mr. Andrews' work, as prior to his service in the House, with CBC Radio.

With respect to Mr. Peter Walsh, after leaving the House he served with distinction and compassion as a chair of the Federal Pensions Appeals Board, in which context I was familiar with him through colleagues and acquaintances.

I would like to join with all members of the House in asking that an appropriate message of condolence be sent to the Andrews and Walsh families.

Oral Questions

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board informed us that the sinking fund that has been established to meet the cost of purchasing the three health care centres from Confederation Life or Trans City developers, whoever the case may be, at the end of the thirty-year period will amount to $16 million. He confirmed for us I believe that that will be the total cost and there will be no additional monies required from the Province in addition to what builds up in the sinking fund. So $16 million is the final pay-off to purchase at 60 per cent of the construction cost, as I understand it.

On November 30, 1994 the minister tabled in the House a stream of lease payments from the various centres to Trans City Holdings. Will the minister confirm now that these are accurate numbers, and that in fact when you add the three of these together the total cost over the thirty years of the lease payment amounts to $96 million in accordance with the lease that was finally entered into?

In fact, there was an option there of taking a fixed payment, because the final contract provides for an escalation of 3 per cent every five years. So it is an increasing rate that we are paying, but we did have the option of a fixed rate. I believe the minister told us on present net worth value that the government decided that the escalating rate was more favourable over the course of the thing. But in real terms today, in fact, had the government chosen the fixed rate, the total pay-out in fact over thirty years would have been $84 million. Would the minister confirm those numbers today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, but I will confirm it shortly. I'm having some information put together for tabling in the House as I promised yesterday. At that point in time I will table that information. I can't really confirm any numbers he has here now because I don't have them in front of me and haven't had them checked.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: No thank you, Mr. Minister. Mr. Speaker, the minister doesn't really have to go check because we do have the document that he has already tabled, so that is an accurate document, and he did tell us yesterday that it was $16 million. The total, therefore, based on the escalating rate, is $96 million plus $16 million, which is $112 million, plus the $3 million penalty government is going to pay for not awarding it to the lower bidders as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The offer that was made by Health Care Developers Limited in the documents that have also been made available here and in the court show a total payout of $2.5 million per year for all three centres. They provided that option and the Supreme Court has ruled that the preferred bidder, having considered all of the evidence, and all of the prices tendered, would have been Health Care Developers. Having giving them all three contracts their price was better than any of the other combinations. The total cost of that, Mr. Speaker, was $76 million. Would the minister like to confirm that for us?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the rather convoluted and complicated introduction the hon. member just gave is entirely incorrect, so I find it difficult to comment on incorrect premises.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having a little trouble hearing the members.

The hon the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the minister would suggest that my numbers are incorrect. The figure I quoted of $2,527,355 annually for thirty years comes from the tender documents that the minister has already made available, so I find it strange that the minister can suggest it is not accurate.

Would the minister like to do some simple Grade II mathematics on the numbers I have just produced which have been substantiated? They are the minister's numbers, either from documents he has tabled, or from the tender documents themselves. If he wanted to do some quick mathematics he could find out that the contract that was accepted is, in fact $36 million more expensive than the option of taking Health Care Developers fixed or escalating rate. Had the government chosen the lowest rate which was a fixed term then you would see a difference of $48 million additional to the $3 million penalty, $51 million, three times the cost of Sprung.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman well knows, and I don't know how he can do this with a straight face, he well knows that the amount you end up paying for something depends upon how long you pay interest on the money that you borrow. Obviously, if we were to pay $20 million today for something and had to go and borrow no money, then that would be the cost we would pay, whereas if we borrowed the money for over thirty years and then paid it back over thirty, then obviously, the cost is going to rise. The amount you pay out depends upon what period of time you pay it out over.

I would like to point out to the hon. gentleman that in terms of the Sprung greenhouse, that will never be paid back. The interest on that will be paid for infinity or at least until we can get our debt eliminated, so we can see paying on that debt for the next fifty or sixty years and it will never be paid off, Mr. Speaker, that costs us, perhaps $1 billion, not $25 million or $26 million that the hon. gentleman threw away.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister can try to skate around it all he wants but the numbers I just quoted him were two leases being paid over a 30-year period. If he wants to talk about government building it up front as recommended by his deputy minister and the officials in the Department of Finance of building it on government financing rather than leasing, we will see a completely different set of numbers. We will get into that in due course. I say to the minister: What value did he get for this $48 million that has been thrown away? No jobs created, no economic activity, no exports, just payoffs to his political buddies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It's little wonder that this Province is in the mess it is in today, if an hon. member who was once finance minister of this Province, assumes that if we go out and borrow money to build something that there is no cost to it, make no wonder he built up $6 billion worth of debt, Mr. Speaker, that we are finding very difficult to handle today.

I would like to say to the hon. gentleman, that I will add to the numbers that I am going to table, a comparison of what he claims is the lowest, a comparison of that option with the Trans City option, with the option of government going to the market and borrowing itself. Mr. Speaker, what we did was cheaper than the government going to the market and borrowing itself.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will give him the information, he can give it to any financial experts he wants, as long as they really are financial experts and not figments of his imagination and they will verify those numbers.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education and Training.

I understand the minister attended a meeting earlier today with officials of Memorial University and my question is concerning the Budget allocations to Memorial. The appropriations presented in the Budget indicate that Memorial's operating Budget will be reduced by nearly $4 million. I want to ask the minister: how much money did the university originally ask for in its budget submissions and how does the minister expect Memorial to balance its budget given the fact that he has allocated them $3.5 million less than they had in their allocations of last year?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's facts are not quite right. That doesn't particularly surprise me, because I don't know yet that he ever had his facts right, but I will wait and see; maybe it will change.

The reality is that we cut the University by $2.5 million. On a budget of $117 million, I don't see where that is going to create any great amount of hardship; however, true to the way that we deal with the university, we don't go in and tell them how to spend, where to cut, what to do. We operate at arm's length. We believe in institutional autonomy so that they can have their academic freedom. We simply say to Memorial University: Here is your $117 million. You decide how to spend it. You decide what to do.

As long as we maintain the level of confidence that we now have in the University, that is the way we will continue to operate. If we lose the confidence, then we will probably look at a different way, but we have no reason to do that. We simply have told them that the reduction is $2.5 million, which is no big amount of money.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the budgetary allocation last year was $115,926,000 on the operating budget, and this year it is down to $112,176,000. That is a little more than $2.5 million; it is nearly $4 million on operating account. As I understand it, Mr. Speaker, the University requested an additional $5 million, so, combining with what the reduction is and what they had requested, the University really has a shortfall of about $10 million in preparing their budget.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister: Since the university is looking at a great reduction in funding, can the minister guarantee the students of this Province, the parents of this Province, that tuition will not go up; and, if it is going to go up, and he already knows about that, can he tell us how much tuition will be increased this year?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should not draw any conclusions from the wish list that the University or any other institutions put forward. The hon. member should know that in any given year the municipalities probably ask for about $2 billion worth of water and sewer work in this Province, so if we come up with $50 million - or, in this case we didn't go into that at all - would we say that we have taken $2 billion away from municipalities? This kind of logic the hon. member is using is totally false; it doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

Now, can I guarantee the students that there will not be an increase in tuition? No, I cannot guarantee that.

As I told the hon. member in my previous answer, we operate at arm's length. The day we stop operating at arm's length we are going to be deciding whether or not the economics department is going to teach NDP economics or Tory economics or Liberal economics. Is that the kind of University he wants?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: Does he want to make the University a farce where the change of government changes the way you teach? The University is proud to be an autonomous institution. I'm proud to say we have an autonomous institution.

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

Supplementary -

MR. DECKER: I'm proud to say that academic freedom is alive and well, Mr. Speaker, and I'm not going to interfere -

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

MR. DECKER: - because the hon. member wants us to go and poke our noses -

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the hon. member to take his seat.

MR. DECKER: - into the University.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the -

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the only thing operating at arm's length is the next election when students in this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I haven't recognized the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, which I now do. Go ahead.

MR. HODDER: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. The only thing that will operate at arm's length is when the students of this Province make judgement on the government at the next election.

I want to say to the minister that in the Budget Speech the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board indicated that there were efficiencies that they could have at Memorial University which would make up for this balance. I can't understand that the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board would make that statement unless the Minister of Education and Training had identified those efficiencies, had a list made. I say to the minister, what areas at Memorial were identified for efficiency reduction, and how will the University be able to implement these reductions and thereby be able to balance its budget?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I happen to have been present the day that the hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury Board read the Budget. What I heard him say was that it was highly unlikely that this should impact on the student, on the offering of courses at the University. When you are talking about $115 million, $120 million budget, to take away a mere $2.5 million, that seems to me to be a perfectly logical statement to make, and I fully support him.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. For the past two years now I've raised many concerns pertaining to the forest industry in this Province, and like many people in the industry, I have many concerns. I believe actually that we are at a critical stage now in this particular industry. Can the minister tell the House exactly what affects this Province will experience as a direct result of the federal Budget as it relates to the CAFD agreement, the Canada-Newfoundland Cooperation Agreement for Forestry Development?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, frankly I don't think there will be any affects on the provincial Budget side in what we are doing. We had a federal-provincial agreement on forestry that expires on Friday. In place of the $12 million or so per year that we were getting under that agreement we've put into our provincial Budget about $10 million for forest management activities. So it is provincial money. We are working that through. We are going to be having silviculture programs, other related forestry programs, as in the past. It may not be at exactly the same exact level, but we are going to have a good healthy forestry program.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister then, the regional centre here in St. John's for the Canadian Forest Services, which does invaluable work as the minister knows in such things as silviculture, and also they did some good research this year on insect infestation which we will be dealing with this summer. The minister knows what a good job they do in this Province at that particular centre. Can the minister confirm that as a result that this particular centre will be closed down, and in fact maybe over 200 jobs will be lost as a result of this cutback?

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

DR. GIBBONS: No, Mr. Speaker, it is not 200 jobs. The Forestry Centre has about seventy to eighty jobs. I'm not sure of the exact number, but certainly not 200. The present plan is apparently to keep a small number of people in the Province. Some will be moving to Fredericton, New Brunswick. That is the federal matter, that has nothing to do with the provincial matter, and -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe what the minister is just telling us, that in fact he really doesn't know what is going on in the forest industry in this Province. I can tell you that I've talked to sources today, and if we continue on the same route that we've been on for the last three or four years with this government putting forestry on the back burner every time we bring it up in this House - I brought it up so many times, and it has been pushed to the back burner again - I can tell the minister that I have sources telling me that centre will be closed. Yes, it is seventy-eight jobs there, but it is over 200 across the Province in the forest service centre of this Province.

The truth is, Mr. Speaker, what I am being told is that yes, the centre here for Newfoundland will be closed down, but no, it will not be closed down in New Brunswick, and that there will be seventeen -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. member to get to the question.

MR. SHELLEY: I was about to do that, Mr. Speaker, if I wasn't interrupted by the ignoramus on the other side, there.

Mr. Speaker, my question is: I have been told that there will be seventeen jobs left in this Province as related to the Canadian Forestry Service. Not only that, can the minister confirm that those seventeen jobs left will be controlled out of the office in New Brunswick and not controlled in Newfoundland at all?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, another outstanding performance by the minister. I have a question for the Minister of Health. I see the Minister of Fisheries reaching for his Flemish Cap there, but I have a question for the Minister of Health.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, he brought it back with him yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, officials from the minister's department have been visiting establishments around the Province, service club centres, Lions Clubs, Kinsmen Centres, restaurants and lounges, I guess as part of government's clean air program, where it is mandatory now that those establishments install air exchangers.

I am told by some people in my area who own these facilities, or are operating them, that the estimates for the air exchange equipment run from $14,000 to $20,000. Has the minister had any representation from those service clubs and other establishment owners in the Province who are concerned about the cost and what it is going to do to their businesses?

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

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

Yes, I can tell the hon. member that I have had representation from representatives of the industry. I have met with Hospitality Newfoundland on the issue; I have met with representatives of the Food and Beverage Association, and these two groups generally cover the hotel, motel, bar, lounge and restaurant business in the Province. They have expressed a position of concern with respect to the implementation of the legislation come June 17 that will, in effect, require them to have appropriate air filtering equipment in their premises. They have put forward in terms, on an individual basis, basically, some estimates of what they think it will cost them to suit up in terms of equipment, or in terms of the ventilation requirements that they need.

I have also heard, of course, from the industry themselves, the people who sell this equipment - quite a number of them, actually, as you would expect - and I can tell you that the estimates that the industry put forward as being what it will cost them to meet the requirements of the legislation versus the quotations that I have actually seen from the industry to specific establishments to meet the requirements, vary wildly and vary quite, quite extensively.

So I cannot tell you that the estimates you are referring to from any one specific proprietor would be accurate or not. I can tell you this, that on a general basis and as a rule of thumb, the industry are quoting a cost of somewhere between $30 and $40 per patron seat it would cost them to meet the requirements for putting in this equipment. Now, I have seen some substantiation of that figure based on specific establishments being quoted specific figures, and it seems reasonable that there is a cost involved of somewhere between $30 and $40 or $50 per seat that they would require to ventilate in order to meet the requirements.

There is a cost involved in meeting the legislative requirements. There is a need, of course, greater than the cost, to have the requirements met, because this is a significant health issue. The legislation and the requirements of the clean air act, and the tobacco sales act, and the act respecting the control of workplaces -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: - all are put in place in the context of significant health concerns, so this government takes pleasure and pride in having the legislation in place.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the minister to end his question and I will take a supplementary.

A supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation take that, after what he did. That is part of the reason I am asking the question, because of the impact of what the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has done to a lot of the industry out and about the Province, I say to him, and with this latest blow from government, as much as I am in support of clean air, I say to the minister that hundreds of these small businesses are going to close up; hundreds of those small businesses will close, laying off their employees, driving up the Province's unemployment rate so, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to the minister, that the estimates that have been given to the people in my area, have been given by the minister's own officials. They have gone into the facilities, looked at them and told them: For your building, it is going to cost $14,000, $16,000, $18,000, $20,000 so the estimates that are being quoted and given to the operators are from the minister's own officials so they must have gotten them from the industry people, I would say to the minister.

Is there any consideration being given to extending the deadline for installation of this air exchange, ventilation system? Has the minister considered extending the deadline to give people perhaps a little more chance to get their finances in order so that they indeed can purchase the air exchangers?

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

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

That consideration has been requested. Government's position is basically that the legislation will be enforced as of June 17, '95 which is the effective date.

To consider deferring of implementation of the legislation would be inappropriate on a number of accounts and I would be happy to comment on those accounts if the member would want me to, but amongst them would be the fact that some of the industry have already complied so it would create an unfair circumstance out there, amongst people in the industry, the restaurants and the bars et cetera.

Secondly, the cost involved is nothing of a significance that they are putting forward as best I can understand, and thirdly, because of the significant health implications, we cannot afford on a practical basis and on a health basis to defer the implementation of the legislation. We must do what we can do to encourage people to quit smoking and for those who still continue to do it, put them in a circumstance where, their health and the health of non-smokers will be protected to the best extent that we can ensure that.

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

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

I just want to say to the minister, for the record, that I strongly support clean air policy and I am an avid non-smoker, I say to him. No one is more upset with the smoking environment than I am, but I also have to look at the financial and economical implications for the owners and for the provincial economy.

Has there been any request from the hospitality industry to the minister or to government for any kind of financial assistance or help in any way to assist those operators to install this equipment? Has there been any request to the minister or has he given that any consideration?

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

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

There has been no specific request other than in the discussions that I have had with the industry. They have alluded to how beneficial that might be to them if government could help them in some way with a grant or something. In the correspondence that I have had with them, I am, frankly not sure whether or not they have alluded to that type of request or not. I will check when I go to my office because I have a response to that correspondence drafted already but they haven't made an issue of asking for government assistance to install the equipment, therefore I cannot comment that we would consider it or not, but probably I can comment, it would be unlikely that we would in the circumstances that we are in financially.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

I wonder if the minister is aware of the potentially dangerous situation at the Wabush Airport with regards to the full-time emergency response services being removed as of April 1, this year, and if he is aware, what has he, or his department done to insure the safety of the travelling public to this particular airport?

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am aware of it because I had a letter recently from the Mayor of Wabush. We have been in contact with the federal people, the Transportation Committee. There is a conference coming up in Gander on April 28, where all the representatives from all the airports in Atlantic Canada will be attending that conference and this is one of the things under discussion; we are asking some representatives from the federal Ministry of Transport's office to be also there, if not the minister himself and I am also going down to Labrador City - Wabush on the weekend and I will be meeting with Mayor Kelly and representatives, listening to their concerns this weekend, so we are on top of the issue and we are equally concerned as is the travelling public.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Menihek, a supplementary.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the minister is going to, himself, accept the dangers of flying into the airport; he is going down this weekend, is he?


MR. A. SNOW: So I am pleased that he is going to accept this dangerous condition himself to be able to go in there and witness this because should there be an emergency incident at the airport during a take-off and landing, such as a plane bursting into flames or any other incident that could jeopardize the safety of passengers, including himself of course, who is going to be responsible for saving and protecting the lives of these particular passengers, including himself, if indeed this incident did arise, between now and April 28 which is when it is going to be because there is not going to be any ERS response there at the airport?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am going down on this weekend and I am just as nervous of flying - when the fire equipment was there I was nervous of flying, so that is not going to relieve my concern about flying on the weekend but the hon. member is quite right, we are very concerned about removing the fire protection services from the airport. The letter that we had from the council and the people of Wabush explained that their fire fighters could not adequately handle an emergency situation at the airport. We had been in contact with Transport Canada and the decision was made by Transport Canada. We are in contact and we will be in further contact but I cannot guarantee or tell you that this is going to change today or tomorrow. What we are doing is exactly what I've told you in my original answer to the first part of your question. I cannot do anything other than that but I will be there this weekend, I will be talking to the people and we will be in touch with Transport Canada on the issue.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister could tell us exactly, in light of what he has learned so far, if he can tell us exactly what the response time of an emergency response team in case of an incident at the Wabush Airport is and what exactly is the Province going to do? In this particular month when we are not going to have this response team available, what exactly is the Province going to do to ensure that the lives of the travelling public, to this particular airport, is not going to be in jeopardy over the next month?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have already explained to the hon. member what we are presently doing. Now the hon. member is trying to sensationalize the issue. It is a very serious issue if adequate services are not provided at the airport. Transport Canada has made a decision on making all the airports in Canada operate on a cost effective basis. That is one of the decisions that has been made. What is the purpose of myself going down there this weekend, I will be meeting with the officials, I will have a better understanding of exactly what the response time would be with the present setup, what it is going to mean to the safety of the commuters at the airport and until then I cannot give the hon. member any more answers than that. Other than say, when I go down, if he wants me to, I will take a piece of hose and bring it down with me but other than that it is not something to be joking about or saying to me: what will I do this weekend?' I can only do exactly what I am saying, talk to the people there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: We are doing it. I've told you, this is the third answer to the same question. We are working and talking with the people, with the council, with the firefighters and with Transport Canada. There will be a meeting coming up later in Gander but in the meantime we are talking to Transport Canada and having a full understanding of what the impact is on the safety of the commuters at the airport.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly six, Levels I and II, students from Mary Simms All Grade School in the Community of Main Brook, Strait of Belle Isle accompanied by their teacher Mr. Hugh Rowlings and their bus driver Mr. Westley Cull.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House I undertook to table the Order in Council which contains the commission given to the Hon. Mr. Noel with respect to the electoral boundaries district exercise in which he is now engaged. I have copies here, a number for the table, for members, and for the press. If one of the pages would be good enough to take them. I do not yet have the other information. It is being prepared with respect to the costs, the detailed breakdown and the cost. I will table that as soon as I have it.

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

DR. HULAN: I rise in response to a question that was raised in the House on Monday by the hon. Member for Baie Verte - White Bay concerning a certain crab license. He implied that the town of Fleur de Lys had not been given notice of the final decision from the department, and the answer to the investigation that the Premier had promised some time earlier. I want to table that response now.

As promised by the Premier the circumstance involved in the transfer of the crab processing license from Fleur de Lys to Old Perlican in 1989 was fully reviewed by government. This review concluded that there was no impropriety on the part of the then Department of Fisheries in transferring the license and the decision arising from the review was that reinstatement of the license to Fleur de Lys could not be justified.

The town of Fleur de Lys was advised of this decision in a meeting with the Premier on October 21, 1994, attended by the Mayor and other representatives of the town of Fleur de Lys. Also in response to an enquiry from the office of the member of Parliament for the area we advised that the license would not be reinstated. The Mayor of Fleur de Lys received a copy of this correspondence dated October 25, 1994.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it being Wednesday, of course, we are on Private Member's Day and the motion is standing in the name of the hon. Member for Twillingate.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 2, the hon. the Member for Twillingate.

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

I was prompted to introduce this motion because I believe the actions contemplated by the federal government in de-staffing lighthouses around the coast of our Province, and of course around the coast of the province of British Columbia and other Maritime provinces is a serious mistake on their part and one that this government and the Province of Newfoundland, in fact, all Newfoundlanders oppose.

Let me deal with the first part of my resolution:

WHEREAS lighthouse keepers have throughout our history played an important role in saving many lives and helping to ensure the safety of many seafaring people. I do not think any Newfoundlander, Mr. Speaker, who listens to the news or reads the newspaper can dispute that fact. Down through history lighthouse keepers have been credited with having contributed to the rescue of indeed hundreds of people who otherwise would have died at sea. An article in the newspapers on July 26, 1994 makes reference to the situation that occurred just off the south coast of our Province when two lighthouse keepers, Calvin Thornhill of Fortune and Brian Cull of Marystown were credited with saving four lives. Five people set out in a small boat from St. Pierre, four adults and a child, and ran into trouble, bad weather and fog. Their boat capsized and the occupants of the boat were thrown into the water, the five of them. They were clinging to the overturned twenty-one-foot boat for a number of hours, and were sighted by these two gentlemen. The rescue was effected by virtue of their vigilance and alertness.

I might point out, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TOBIN: What boat was that, `Walter'?

MR. CARTER: Pardon?

MR. TOBIN: What boat was that?

MR. CARTER: It was a - five people from St. Pierre, Green Island.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was a pleasure craft.

MR. CARTER: Was it a pleasure craft?

AN HON. MEMBER: A pleasure craft, yes, going from St. Pierre to Langlade.

MR. CARTER: Okay, a small vessel.

Mr. Speaker, I'm quite interested in a telephone call I received last night in anticipation of this debate today from a person who informed me that these two people, the people I just referred to, are tomorrow going to be the recipients of an award, a medal from the Federal Government, and rightly so. They have already received commendation from the Government of St. Pierre. In fact, both gentleman were made honourary citizens of that island, that country. Tomorrow, they are to be awarded a medal from the Federal Government for their act of heroism.

I ask you: How many people in this House or in the press gallery have heard any reference to that through the public news media? I don't think anybody has heard a word mentioned of what is going to occur tomorrow when these two gentlemen will receive their award. I'm told that the Canadian Coast Guard very deliberately downplayed the awarding of this medal, in fact, very deliberately downplayed the whole affair, because it might not tie in with what they are saying with respect to lighthouse keepers.

Now, I hope I'm wrong, but that is the story I have been told. I haven't had time to check it out thoroughly, but I've been told from two different sources, as a matter of fact, that this award will be made tomorrow and that the powers-that-be in Ottawa have very deliberately downplayed it. They have not made any reference to it publicly, there have been no announcements coming out of Ottawa. They want to go to Grand Bank or Fortune tomorrow very quietly, make the award, and very quietly leave without any reference at all to it. They are doing that, of course, for a very good reason. They do not want anything to happen to interfere with their overall master plan to de-staff lighthouses around our coastline.

I think it is absolutely shameful that our government would do that, that the Coast Guard would do that. These men obviously deserve the award they are getting, and they deserve all of the accolades that would normally go with the awarding of those medals. Again, I repeat, there has been no publicity, no mention of it publicly, because I suspect the Coast Guard does not want anything to interfere with the strategy they have to de-staff lighthouses. They don't want to do or say anything that might give the impression that indeed lighthouses do have an important role to play in the future scheme of things around our coast.

I understand that the Coast Guard and the federal Department of Transport have hired a very high-powered public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, to do their public relations, to put together a strategy whereby they can close lighthouses without arousing too much publicity or too much resistance on the part of the people.

Mr. Speaker, I think that is wrong. I think lighthouses play a very important role in the marine life of this country and this Province. I, for one, will not stand by and see it happen without raising my objections to it, and I think most Newfoundlanders should be encouraged to do likewise.

In countries where they have de-staffed lighthouses, I am told - I don't have a list of them here - that they are now having some second thoughts and, in fact, in some cases are contemplating reinstating the humanizing, or whatever you want to call it, the staffing of lighthouses around their coast.

Norway, for example, a country somewhat similar to Newfoundland, a country with a great maritime history, quite a substantial involvement in nautical - things of the sea, and marine things, like Newfoundland. They have reduced their lighthouses from 100 down to 31, but I am told that they are now levelled off at thirty-one. They will not have any less than thirty-one lighthouses around their coast. Yes, they have reduced their numbers, but I am told that they have installed a number of lights around the coast, and have taken other measures to protect the men who go down to the sea in ships in that country.

It is another rather interesting statistic that while we have one-third of all of the vessels in Canada operating out of this Province, small and large, roughly only 4.8 per cent of the total number of navigational aids around our coast are in this Province; 4.8 per cent of total navigational aids are in Newfoundland, notwithstanding the fact that we have one-third of all of the vessels plying the waters around the coast of Canada operating out of this Province. That, too, is a very important statistic because it shows that we are not getting the attention that we deserve, even with the existing number of lighthouses. In fact, it has been suggested by an organization that I have come to respect and have some admiration for - they call themselves `Survive' - it is a group of local people who feel as I do, and I am sure as my colleagues do, with respect to the de-staffing of lighthouses, and they have set themselves up and have become a very effective voice for people in this Province who resist what the Federal Government is doing. They have put together quite a document here which gives all of the statistics on lighthouses, all of the information that one would want in order to properly speak on behalf of maintaining lighthouses in the Province, and I would suggest that most members should endeavour to get a copy of it.

Mr. Speaker, it is rather ironic that in this Province, 162 years after the Speech from the Throne in the Newfoundland House of Assembly, of January 1, 1833, in 1833, while the people of Upper and Lower Canada were pondering over the merits of union, and while Sir John A. Macdonald was still wearing knickerbockers, and probably drinking lemonade, the Speech from the Throne in the House of Assembly of that day, January 1st, 162 years ago, included such civilized ideas as town planning, the establishment of new schools and roads, a police force for rural Newfoundland, a savings bank - hear this - an act for the establishment of lighthouses in this Province, or country as we were then.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Pardon? One hundred and sixty-two years ago. In some of the things I have read in recent days in preparation for this debate, I find that there was quite a lot of pressure then being applied on the powers-that-be, on the government, for lighthouses. People from various communities and bays and headlands were petitioning their government for the establishment of lighthouses because they were necessary - very necessary. So I am, in fact, somewhat disappointed, given the importance of this issue, that there has not been a greater outcry coming from this Legislature or this government, and up until last August, I must accept some responsibility for that. I think if I knew then what I know now, I would have probably spoken out against what is happening, but I didn't, and for that I am sorry. I believe that this government should speak out in a loud voice, taking objections, opposing what the Federal Government are contemplating, because I believe they are doing it for all the wrong reasons. I believe it is being done by bureaucrats, Mr. Speaker, in Ottawa who have been told by their political masters to reduce their respective budgets.

I believe they are now picking on lighthouse keepers and lighthouses in this Province without giving it sufficient thought. The sad part about it is, most of these bureaucrats who work on Parliament Hill and in the streets around Ottawa, if a traffic light, Mr. Speaker, were out of commission, they would probably have it declared a national emergency. I spent a number of years in Ottawa and I know how finicky they can be when it comes to little things that affect them. I have seen the government in Ottawa close down the entire public service and the House of Commons because of a snowstorm. And I can tell you that I, as a boy, woke up many a morning with more snow on the foot of my bed than was on Rideau Street that day - some of the times when they have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: They will close her down for any reason at all. If a traffic light goes on Wellington Street, I am sure there will be a bigger outcry than what they are doing here now. So I think for that reason -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


So, Mr. Speaker, I quite frankly cannot understand why they are doing it. I think it is wrong. Instead of de-staffing lighthouses, I think they should probably increase the activity, increase their capability, give them more responsibilities, involve them to a greater extent in search and rescue. Certainly, we shouldn't de-staff the lighthouses because it is going to have a detrimental effect on the lives and safety of the many thousands of people in this Province who go down to the sea in ships and who often have occasion to place their own safety and well-being in the hands of a lighthouse keeper.

I am rather intrigued too, Mr. Speaker, by - when this exercise started the Government of Canada appeared to be going through the motions of engaging in consultation with the people. They announced a -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. CARTER: They announced a series of meetings around the Province, Mr. Speaker, encouraging Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to make representation but, Mr. Speaker, that had to be the biggest charade ever perpetrated on the people because the decision was already made. And the people, I think, in most communities, including the people in that fine old community of St. Bride's on the Cape Shore, where a meeting was called and not one person turned up to debate the fate of the lighthouse on Cape St. Mary's -I know the people of St. Bride's well enough to know it is not their nature to back away from something like that. But I think, when they were questioned as to why they didn't turn up, most of them admitted quite freely that they were given to understand it was already an accomplished fact that the lighthouse would go, and why should they dignify the Coast Guard people, who were initiating those meetings, to go through the charade of attending a meeting for no purpose?

So, Mr. Speaker, again I would ask my colleagues, on both sides of the House, to support this resolution and let's send a message to Ottawa in a loud and clear voice. That is something that we started in this Province 162 years ago, as I said, when they were pondering whether or not they would become part of a union, and we are not prepared to sit back and allow them to take it away from us without a fight. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased today to rise to speak to the motion put forward by the hon. member for Twillingate, a motion that I consider to be most appropriate in light of what the Federal Government and the Coast Guard are proposing to do. I want to go on record from the outset as telling the hon. member that I certainly will support the resolution and the `Be it resolved' is: BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly does not support the de-staffing of lighthouses and calls on the Federal Government to continue funding for staffed lighthouses. I want to tell the hon. member and other members that I certainly will support the resolution as put forward by the Member for Twillingate, and I am sure all members will.

I was quite interested in listening to the member. He has done some research on the matter. And I just want to tell him, he referred to Green Island, particularly. One of the gentlemen he referred to there is my brother-in-law, by the way, Calvin Thornhill, my wife's brother, who was involved in that rescue, which was an unfortunate incident involving people from St. Pierre, where a young girl drowned and was kept up on the bottom of the boat until they got them to shore, a very sad incident which had a very emotional effect upon the light keepers, I must say to the member. It was something that bothered Calvin for quite a period of time, of witnessing the loss of life of someone so young, and I guess, having to be involved with bringing her to shore. I guess it is pretty traumatic. So I am familiar with that one.

I also say to the member that another brother-in-law of mine, Ronald Thornhill, was involved a number of years ago as well, in another situation on Little Green Island, which is really large rocks - we would call it a bunch of rocks. He observed, early one morning, a person, the waving of arms and so on, and he went over to find two people from St. Pierre. One man had drowned and the other person had survived. So, I have two brothers-in-law who were indeed involved in a rescue situation, but yet, where there was loss of life. So I can readily identify with the benefits, I guess, of having manned lighthouses and light stations in this Province.

My father-in-law, by the way, was a light keeper for twenty-odd years. As a matter of fact, he retired as a light keeper on Green Island, which is between the nearest point of the Burin Peninsula, Point May and St. Pierre, more than halfway towards St. Pierre and Miquelon.

MR. BAKER: Are there women working at those lighthouses?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't know. I don't want to be sexist by calling it `manning' them, but I don't know. I say to the Minister of Finance that at one time, of course, not too long ago, families lived there. My wife lived on Green Island, by the way.

MR. TOBIN: That is where you met her.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, it is not where I met her, but she lived on Green Island and their whole family did. Then she would come to Point May, and finally to Fortune to go to school. I torment her all the time about the education she received on Green Island, which she doesn't appreciate.

MR. TOBIN: I though you met her the night you stayed out there.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I did stay there, actually, I say to the Member for Burin - Placentia West. I did spend a couple of nights at the Green Island light station, I say to the Member for Twillingate, when my father-in-law was there and I was teaching school here in St. John's, I say to the Minister of Finance. One summer I went down and spent a couple of nights with my father-in-law on Green Island. It was quite an experience. I enjoyed it actually. It was a different experience.

MR. TOBIN: Well, tell the story.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: That is the story. I can't tell all of the story, I say to the hon. member, because I don't want it all to be recorded. We do have a Minister of Finance here, a Minister of Justice, and we do have a constable down there, so there are some things I don't want to tell with everyone around.

I have a close association with people who have worked those light stations, and people who have been involved in sort of mixed occasions, where they have been thankful that they have been able to help and save lives but have witnessed the loss of life. It is kind of moving, really, and to hear my father-in-law tell so many stories about the things he observed during the twenty-odd years he was there. As a matter of fact, one of my brothers-in-law right now is on Baccalieu Island, the light keeper there, and the other fellow, Calvin Thornhill, that the member referred to, is a relief light keeper on Green Island, still. He goes out there occasionally. So I want to support the resolution, Mr. Speaker.

Another thing I want to say to the member, as I am sure he is aware, but I don't think he mentioned, is that from all the information I have heard, there really wasn't an adequate cost analysis done on this. The officials who went around doing those hearings, and listening to what people had to say, when it got to the question: How much are you going to save because of what you are proposing? They couldn't tell them. They couldn't tell them if indeed there would be any savings. Of course, we see that quite often with governments, this government included, where they propose to do things and some bureaucrats talk about the efficiencies and savings, but when you ask with a direct question: Well, how much are you going to save by shutting down those lighthouses or by automating the lighthouses? They can't tell you. And if there is indeed no savings associated with the changes, then why don't they leave well enough alone? Why do it because they are in a mode to automate? Quite often, that is what we find, and I am sure that's the case we are finding here, that they want to install automated equipment because it is the thing to do, it is the `in' thing, without looking at the consequences, the human consequences of job losses but most importantly, the human consequences of safety or lack thereof, because we have people who observe and watch the marine traffic.

And that's what they do. They watch weather conditions, they are tuned in to weather forecasts. As a matter of fact, if you want to know a forecast, call one of them, call them at one of the light stations and ask them what to expect in the next day or two days or a week, because they watch the weather on a religious basis; they know what the ocean conditions are going to be in the area that they observe, and they watch for marine traffic. An automated station with automated equipment can't do that, but that doesn't seem to matter. For some reason we have gone cold, we don't seem to care anymore, we don't attach much value to human life anymore, you know, and I say that with all due respect.

We have become somewhat callous as a people; we have, it doesn't seem to matter anymore if there is a loss of life here and a loss of life there as long as it isn't someone related to us or that we care about. Really, that is the way society has gone today, and that is what we are finding here. It doesn't matter if two or three or five or ten people drown somewhere around our shores, as long as it is no one we know. We say: `Ah, too bad what happened up in Fortune Bay or Placentia Bay or Trinity Bay,' but that's all it means, you know - `He shouldn't have been out there in that size of boat, anyway.' You know, we have become kind of callous as a society and it bothers me.

But what really got to me is, when they really couldn't tell the people they went out and met with, whether or not they were going to save any money - it told me everything. It is just this automated mode that we are in so let's go and do it anyway.

Mr. Speaker, I know there is a number of other people who want to speak to this. I certainly support the member's resolution. I have been contacted by a few people; I have talked to a representative of Survive - well, before they became Survive, and I told him I would do whatever I could to help them, and so on, if there is anything they felt I could do. And I know they have generated a lot of publicity on the public airwaves, to the Open Lines and everything else and I guess, perhaps, more of us should have supported their efforts, I mean, us, being members.

Perhaps there are more of us who publicly should have supported their efforts in what they are trying to achieve and I know that the member won't just let his resolution stay here because I have noticed as a matter of fact, in one of the papers over the last couple of days, where it was mentioned that the hon. member was doing this resolution, which I think is fine. And I just hope that the news media will listen to what is being said here today and they will listen with respect to the consequences of what the federal government is proposing to do, what it may mean, as I said, not only to job losses which are very important but to safety - safety along our coastlines.

It was very interesting to hear the member give the statistics that he gave, with percentages and so on, looking at the vast coastline that we have and the rural communities and the vessel traffic that we have off our shores.

Mr. Speaker, I won't take any more time except to say that, I very strongly support the member's resolution. I am going to vote for it and I am going to do whatever I can. I am going to make some noise publicly over the next few days in support of the member's resolution and to denounce basically, what the Federal Government is proposing to do by shutting down and de-staffing of lighthouses. I thank the member and congratulate him for bringing the motion forward.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with pleasure that I rise to support the resolution presented by the Member for Twillingate on this issue. While it may, to some members of our population, seem unimportant, it is one of great significance to a province like Newfoundland which depends for so much of its history and current and future existence on the use of the sea by our people, and not only that, in support of our maritime tradition of making available to the seafarers of all nations, the kind of protection that is provided by having a lighthouse service that is not only sending out beacons into the night, but that also has available an individual who can respond to an emergency on the spot, who can, himself or herself, call upon the assistance of emergency response craft, one who is on the spot whenever an emergency arises.

It is a function of our modern times, Mr. Speaker, with technology, and technology being sought to replace human beings in many different locations and locales. We see it in the airports: a system the Federal Government is now proposing would tell somebody flying a plane into Stephenville what the weather is like from St. John's. Someone in St. John's is going to tell someone out in - and they are going to turn on the lights for them. Someone in St. John's is going to turn on the lights at the Stephenville airport because a plane is landing. They won't know whether the lights are on or not, or whether it is blowing a gale out there and what is going on out in Stephenville on the ground. The weather systems and monitors that are out there that are supposed to be reporting may or may not be working. But there is going to be someone in St. John's telling a pilot, for example, whether he can land a plane or not at Stephenville when that person is in St. John's.

Similarly, the lighthouses that dot this Province's coast and this country's coast before that for hundreds of years, provide a service in keeping the light lit. Obviously, you can have some sort of monitor that will tell you whether the light is out or the light is not out. That can happen. You can't necessarily relight the light from 150 or 200 miles away if you are that close, but you could probably tell whether the light is out or not. But it takes someone on the spot to make emergency repairs, to look after not only the maintenance of the light and the foghorn and other navigational aids, but to also provide that ongoing security to the men and women of our Province who put their lives in danger by going out to sea, either in fishing boats, pleasure craft, for transportation, ferry boats travelling to and from this Province, ferry boats travelling from islands or from isolated coastal regions from one to another, travelling up and down the Labrador Coast.

This resolution is very simple and straightforward and says that we, as members of the House of Assembly, as we have privately - I know the Member for Twillingate has, I have certainly indicated my support to a group that is trying to make representations to the Federal Government to stop the replacement system to take staff away from lighthouses. There is a lack of understanding in the bureaucrats who are dealing with this issue of the importance of having staffed lighthouses. Not only - and I can see there is certainly an historical tradition, perhaps sentimental argument, that we have had these lighthouses and lighthouse keepers and their families down through the generations for hundreds of years, that it is important to keep up that tradition.

But that is not the real reason. It is an important reason, it is a reason that has some relevance to our current status, our economy, our heritage, and part of our new economy of tourism and hospitality and welcoming visitors to our Province. Having a staffed lighthouse is there for safety reasons, but it also plays an important role, I think - I know the Member for Bonavista North would be very concerned if someone was going to the lighthouse, couldn't talk to a lighthouse keeper of the history of that particular light, the history of that particular part of the coast, and pass on to visitors to the Province a little bit of our history based on the experiences of that particular coast, of shipwrecks, of rescue efforts, of part of our history and culture that is maintained by these families and these individuals who staff and support the lighthouses.

I am going to let other members speak, who wish to have an opportunity to join in speaking on this resolution, and I will end my remarks there, to say only that I welcome the resolution being brought by the hon. Member for Twillingate, and I want to offer my support wholeheartedly, but I would like to hear some government ministers speak on this resolution and see how strong an interest the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, for example, is taking in this issue. What representations has he made to the Federal Government on this issue as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation?

What representations has the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture made to the government in Ottawa, the Minister of Fisheries and Food and his other responsibilities? Are his other responsibilities taking him away from making strong representations to the Government of Canada on this very important issue? What about the Minister of Environment? Is he having something to say on this important issue to his counterpart in Ottawa and to the Federal Government? What about the Premier? Is he having something to say about this, as official spokesperson for all of Newfoundland and Labrador? What about the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation? Has he made representations? Have the Cabinet, as a government, taken a strong interest in this issue, and have they communicated that interest to the Government of Canada? Have they told the Government of Canada that they won't support, and will do everything to prevent that change in policy? Have we heard anything from them? Have the Federal Government heard anything from them?

It is all very well for me, on this side of the House, or members in the Official Opposition, to say things, or backbenchers on the other side, but what about the government? Has the President of Treasury Board, the Deputy Premier, the Acting Premier, has he taken an interest in this issue, and has he instructed other members of the Cabinet to take a forceful stand on this with the Government of Canada? Perhaps we will hear from some of them. I see the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation back in the House. We would like to hear from them as to how supportive they are of this resolution, and what action this government is prepared to take to try to convince the Government of Canada to change this policy.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PENNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am privileged today to stand and debate this resolution so ably presented by my colleague, the Member for Twillingate. The resolve portion of the resolution states that the House of Assembly does not support the de-staffing of lighthouses, and calls on the Federal Government to continue funding for staffed lighthouses.

Mr. Speaker, that is an issue that I have been involved with since probably the middle of 1994 when I first found out about this by seeing it in a newspaper article. Since then I have travelled to Ottawa; I have met with Mr. Robert King, the Director General of Marine Navigational Services. At the time of the meeting, the MP for the district, Mr. Baker, was there with me,as well.

I can say that Mr. King was polite, but that is about all I can say. I can say he listened, but I don't think he heard what I said. So when my opportunity presented itself to make a presentation at what they called the public consultation process in Lewisporte in January, I did that. That was attended by two individuals from Coast Guard, Mr. Clements, and Mr. Browne, who is the Regional Manager of Marine Navigational Services. I was very impressed that evening, because we had another MHA, my colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl, who was there and made a presentation, a presentation from council, the Chamber of Commerce, the local yacht club, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Lewisporte Development Association, fishermen's committee, and at least 100 private boat owners who take advantage of the lighthouse out on Exploit's Island.

The position that I presented then is the position that I have now. I can't insult the intelligence of the officials in Coast Guard or my colleagues here by stating categorically that every lighthouse must remain open. I can't do that.

Technology has evolved to the point now that most commercial vessels no longer have the same dependence on the light station that they did twenty, thirty or forty years ago. The commercial vessel that comes around the capes of our coasts, equipped with radar and global positioning systems, no longer are as dependent on that lighthouse as they were but, Mr. Speaker, as the dependence by the commercial vessels decreases the dependency by the recreational boaters increases proportionally.

There are several prime examples of that around the coast, probably one of the better ones, the one I am more familiar with, is the one in the Lewisporte district, Seargent Cove Head on Exploits Island. We are strategically located at the entrance of Notre Dame Bay and we are also strategically located on the entrance to a bay that is going to have a world-class marina situated there in just a couple of years. We have already spent somewhere in the area of $1 million preparing for the construction of that marina. Last year, the vessels using that lighthouse area, taking advantage of the services by the individuals who staff that lighthouse, were approximately 600. Six hundred boats used the waters around the bottom of Seargent Cove. We anticipate that within the first year of full operation of the world-class marina in Lewisporte, that figure will increase ten-fold. Instead of being 600 vessels it will be 6,000 and these are not commercial vessels headed for Botwood or headed for Labrador. These are not commercial vessels who no longer need to take advantage of the services. These are private yacht owners, fishermen, pleasure boat operators from the area and they do take advantage of the lighthouse, they do take comfort from the fact that there is somebody up there who can look down from the light station and see them. They take comfort from the fact that there is somebody there who can actually see a flare if they send it up. They take comfort from the fact that there is somebody there who can actually speak to them on the radio. Now, we have fifty-six stations in the Province, thirty-two of them are still staffed and twenty-four have already been de-staffed.

The thing that we are concerned about is that the service is decreasing at time when we maintain, or at least, I maintain, that the service should be expanded. A memo sent out from the commissioner of light services on August 10, says, `The department's intent is to de-staff lighthouses and an expanded role for light keepers is not an option.' Mr. Speaker, that is just totally unacceptable. The recommendation that I made to Mr. Kingston the day that I met with him in Ottawa suggested that we should expand the light service, expand the role of the light keepers to include what they now do - which is provide a light visible twenty to thirty feet, fog horn audible for whatever the maximum possible distance and the provision of visual surveillance of vessels visible from 300-foot high lighthouses - but to include as well, the provision of an expanded marine radio communication available to all VHF radio operators.

Now, we were told at that meeting in Lewisporte that night, that the light keepers in Seargent Cove or all the light keepers on the stations around the coast do not have the authority to speak to vessels on a VHF radio, they are not licensed to do so. Maybe they are not, then let's fix it, license them. If they are not licensed, that's not hard to fix. The provision of weather forecasting and ice reporting, they say, `Well that's not their mandate either.' Mandate them. Provision of expanded service of environmental monitoring, particularly as it relates to oil spills at sea - now, you can have the electronic equipment stationed all around the coast of Canada but there is nobody who can better detect an oil spill six miles outside of Exploits than the light keepers at the station who are 300 feet up in the air.

The provision of assistance in all search and rescue missions in the area or where radio contact can be of assistance: We are told as well, that that is not the mandate of the light keepers. They are not Search and Rescue personnel and they have no business to be doing it. That is what we are told, they have no business to be doing it. Well, Mr. Speaker, I tell you, if I run into difficulty out off Exploits or out off Twillingate - Long Point next November, it would be nice to know there is somebody in one of the lighthouses who can see me, whether it is their mandate or whether it isn't. And if it isn't their mandate, let's make it their mandate.

Let me give you just a few examples of some of the search and rescues that the staff at Surgeon Cove have been involved in. I have documented just a few here of the dozens that are available and I will read a couple of them into the record: `1988 - the staff at Surgeon Cove assisted in the rescue of a local fisherman. They saw him drifting offshore displaying a signal on one of his paddles. There was a strong southwest wind, the light keepers arranged for a boat to pick him up. By the time they got to him he was eight to ten miles offshore.' Now, Mr. Speaker, had there not been staff at the lighthouse, would that man have been saved? I don't know. But had there been just electronic equipment at the light station I will assure you that the electronic equipment would not have seen him.

`1989 - four seal hunters from Twillingate rescued by the light keepers at Surgeon Cove. Kept there for two days at the light station because of the weather.' `1990 - the keepers watched as a small speed boat hit a large pan of ice about a mile-and-a-half off Surgeon Cove.' It was in the spring, it was 7:00 p.m., little daylight remaining. Because of the quick action of those light keepers a boat from Exploits was found, sent out to pick them up, and this man at the time was clinging to his boat still in the water. Had the light keepers not gotten to him, surely this man would have drowned.

`1991 - boat spotted broken down, engine trouble, called fisherman in Exploits who towed him in.' `1992 - the light keepers in Surgeon Cove received a call on the VHF from a sixty-foot longliner from Labrador, the Ensemble. It was lost in a snowstorm. It was determined that the location was somewhere near Northern Head. Using radio and lights the light keepers guided them back to Exploits Harbour. It took three to four hours.' Would he have gotten back there safely without any loss of life had it not been for the people at Surgeon Cove? I don't know. But they were certainly instrumental in bringing him back.

`May 3 1993, approximately 10:00 p.m. Light keepers in Surgeon Cove light received a call on a mobile phone from Search and Rescue in St. John's.' Now, these are the same people who are saying that the light keepers are not supposed to be involved with search and rescue. Well, here is Search and Rescue in St. John's calling the light keepers at Exploits saying: We have overdue hunters from the Twillingate area. `A few minutes later the Coast Guard vessel Franklin was contacted. A short time later flares were sighted northeast of Surgeon Cove. The information was passed to Search and Rescue and the men were picked up by the Franklin.' Had the men not been at the station in Surgeon Cove, undoubtedly, the flare would never have been seen.

They are suggesting that we don't need staffed lighthouses, that the electronic equipment that we now have available to us is just as efficient. Maybe it can put off just as bright as light, and maybe our equipment can send off just as loud a horn, but there is no electronic equipment that you can put up onto any of those headlands and to any of those light stations that is going to detect a flare that is sent up when a fisherman or a boater is in trouble.

`1993, in May, light keepers received a call on the mobile phone from Search and Rescue in St. John's. Overdue hunters from Lushes Bight. The keepers maintain surveillance and eventually they spotted flares twelve to fourteen miles north of the station. Longliners were notified; the hunters were picked up.' This was approximately 2:00 a.m. Now, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you, 2:00 a.m. with nobody to see the flares, the chances of survival were not nearly as great. `June 15 1994, vessel sighted off Northern Head, broken down. The light keepers notified the DFO vessel the Goose Bay which intercepted and towed the vessel home to Glovers Harbour.'

Those are eight examples. I have a couple of more there but I see I'm running out of time. Before I do that, they tell us that they have to de-staff for reason of cost. One of the Backgrounders from the Light Station Services Project - Backgrounder, the information they send around to the light keepers themselves, suggests that the average annual cost to maintain a staffed light station is $115,000. The average annual cost to maintain a de-staffed light station is $26,000. By my calculation, there is a saving of $89,000. Okay, maybe, we will save $89,000 per station by taking the men out of it, but how many lives will we lose? And I ask you, Mr. Speaker: What is the value we put on human lives today? And I ask that question of my hon. colleagues at Ottawa. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I ask that question of the hon. minister responsible. I ask: What value do we put on human life and how many are we prepared to lose in order to save $89,000?

The decision, Mr. Speaker, is unacceptable. That's a position, that not only do I take in my district, but everybody I have spoken to out there who takes advantage of the lighthouse and takes some comfort from the fact that the keepers are there, has supported me.

During the month of July, we put a petition paper out to several business houses for seven days only, and I ask all members here in the House of Assembly, to recognize what I am saying. This was a petition that was not solicited, the forms were put there and left and people were asked to affix their signatures if they agreed with the position that the lighthouse was not to be de-staffed. In seven days, without solicitation, it had 1,800 names on the petition. That petition was presented - I see my colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl coming in, he was at the same public hearing function to which I referred and gave a very supportive presentation after I had done so and I am hoping maybe, he will speak in this debate as well, today - 1,800 names on a petition that was presented to the minister, through Mr. Young, at the meeting that night.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I totally support the resolution as it is on the Order Paper, and I think we must do whatever it takes to make sure that this de-staffing of the critical lighthouses around the coast does not take place.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My timing was impeccable. I expected my good friend opposite from Lewisporte would speak and I wanted the opportunity to follow him as I did, as he just pointed out, in Lewisporte when the public hearings were held there, and let me say that the hon. gentleman did a tremendous job of researching the facts as they relate to the lighthouses and the one in particular on Exploits Island, in which we both have an interest. He did a tremendous job of researching that and he made a very, very good, well-researched and well-presented presentation to the commission there, Mr. Speaker, and it made it easy for me. All I had to do was stand up and say: ditto, I agree entirely; on this, we have no difference of opinion.

The hon. gentleman pointed out, I think, eight or nine or ten examples where lives have been saved. Now, since that time - I don't know if my hon. friend is aware - but since that time, I have taken the trouble in fact to visit the lighthouse on Exploits Island, about three weeks ago. I travelled out by snowmobile to the lighthouse on Exploits Island, my first time going out the bay on the ice. I went to the lighthouse and visited with the keepers there and had a look at the operation and got a much better appreciation -


MR. WINDSOR: Three weeks ago.

- a better appreciation for what it is, in fact, that is done by the lighthouse. And I am now more determined than ever that that lighthouse should be kept there. Now, I know my hon. colleagues who have spoken - and I regret I was upstairs and didn't hear what had been said - but I have no doubt that we talked a great deal about the importance of the lighthouses to the fishing industry and to the commercial shipping industry and everything else, but I wanted to deal a little bit with the tourism industry.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, you can't dwink and dwive a boat either, on the way to the lighthouse.

MR. EFFORD: You can't dwink and dwive on a skidoo either.

MR. WINDSOR: No, I don't dwink on the skidoo, Sir.

MR. EFFORD: It couldn't carry you.

MR. WINDSOR: I don't dwink and dwive on the skidoo.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't want to waste my time with that hon. minister, he is not worth the time of day. I want to get on with this very important issue. We can see how important the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation feels about the safety of mariners in this Province. He wants to crack jokes while we are talking about a very, very, serious issue, not only about the jobs that are going to be lost to those people out there, but to the safety of thousands of people who are travelling on the water around this coast. We can see how important the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation thinks it is, just as concerned as he is about safety on the highways, Mr. Speaker, just as concerned as he is about highway driving conditions. All he can do is make jokes, Mr. Speaker. He is a joke himself.

Mr. Speaker, let me get back again to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. I particularly want to address this because my friend for Lewisporte has done a great job, together with his colleagues here and in Ottawa, of putting together a package of financing for a new marina in Lewisporte. Now, the great Strategic Economic Plan that this government puts forward, puts a tremendous amount of credence in the tourism industry for developing, particularly rural Newfoundland, and I could not agree more. There is a tremendous potential in the tourist industry in this Province that we have not even begun to tap.

An area like the Exploits Island is a prime one, and I am going to be involved in it myself. There is a tremendous amount of potential there. The money that is being put into the Lewisporte marina is extremely well-spent, but why are the governments of Canada and Newfoundland putting money into the Lewisporte marina? To attract thousands of more mariners, Mr. Speaker, more pleasure craft, and let us be quite honest, those people who are sailing in pleasure craft are probably not as experienced as our fisherpersons are out there on the water.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, will you stifle that member, wherever he is? If he has nothing intelligent to say, go out of here and stop making a fool of yourself and being a disgrace to the people who elected you.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying the people who are operating pleasure craft are probably far less experienced and far less qualified to be on the water than are our fisherpeople who have grown up all their lives on the water, and it is second nature to them, and they are probably less able to respond in the case of an emergency than those people who have that kind of experience. They are far more likely therefore to depend on somebody who is there watching over them, and having visited a lighthouse let me tell you, you do watch over a tremendous expanse of water.

As I sat there in a lighthouse and looked up at Cape St. John in my friend's district in Baie Verte you can almost see forever. On a clear day you can see Cape St. John from the water. Up in the lighthouse, three weeks ago, on a nice sunny day, a little hazy, but I could see Cape St. John clear as a bell and everything in between, and all the bay going into Botwood, a tremendous opportunity to save lives and to see somebody in danger. As was said by several people at the hearing in Lewisporte, Mr. Speaker, there is little comfort when a light is not working, or even if a light is working and you get in trouble and put off a flare, that light is not going to see it. That light cannot see an emergency flare and there is nobody else in that area. There are no houses in that area, no permanent residences in view of the area that is surveyed by that lighthouse on Exploits Island. It is not as if you are just outside St. John's harbour and you can expect there to be somebody up in Cabot Tower, or somebody out in Torbay or Logy Bay, or somewhere like that, that might see a flare. When you get outside of Exploits Island it is not lightly that a flare is going to be seen by anybody who is normally resident on land, so unless there is another boat in the area, then you are on your own, quite literally.

The advantage of having that facility there, from that point of view, I think is critically important now. I am first to say that the people who are responsible for the lighthouses are not responsible for safety, for marine safety, and here is our problem, I think. The people who are making decisions as to whether or not they need that lighthouse, whether the level of service from the point of view of having a light, is adequately served by an automatic system, by new technology, they may well have a valid argument. Our argument is not about the light. Our argument is about the safety that is provided.

What we would like to see, Mr. Speaker, is the Canadian Coast Guard who are responsible for safety, combining with Transport Canada who are responsible for the lighthouses, recognize that there is a dual role. Even thought our lighthouse keepers are not trained, and are not really authorized to be providing this kind of safety service, they do it. Just as if you and I were driving on the highway, as I was last night, and there were two or three cars off the road up by Butterpot Park, I called the RCMP on a cellular phone to let them know, and they were there shortly thereafter. We all do what we have to do in the case of an emergency, and lighthouse keepers have saved hundreds of lives in this Province, not because it was part of their job, but because they were there, so we have to be very careful in our argument, that we are not arguing so much with Transport Canada for their technical decision to replace persons with machinery that probably is becoming somewhat dependable, but not 100 per cent dependable.

Let me make this point, Mr. Speaker, before I sit down, and I think my friend from Lewisporte will agree, that there were tremendous presentations made at that meeting in Lewisporte, and the people there listened, and as I walked out somebody said: How did you feel about the hearing? I said: The big problem here is the people that we were speaking to were the people who said: Mr. Minister, we think we should replace these lighthouses with automatic systems, and those same people now are sent out and said: Go ask the people if they think that the recommendation you made to the minister were correct. Now that is like asking the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology to go out and hold public hearings and ask the people if they think he should be a Liberal.

What public servant have you ever met who is going to go out and hold public meetings and come back and say: Well, Mr. Minister, we had good recommendations, and you brought your legislation forward, but I was out talking to the people now - I have finally consulted them - and they have proven to me that I was wrong, and I am recommending something different - not a chance.

So I say that before the Government of Canada closes those lighthouses, let's have some real hearings. Let's have public hearings with an independent commissioner who is not involved, who doesn't have a bias for the recommendations that were made already. Let's not send out the same people who made the wrong recommendations in the first place.

Let's remember, this is not just the operation of lights we are talking about. We are talking about the life and safety of people; we are talking about developing a tourism industry that is going to put tremendous more pressure, and tremendous more benefit and importance, on keeping those lighthouses manned on a twenty-four hour, 365 day-a-year basis, and I support my friend from Twillingate entirely.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, being the member for that historic District of Bonavista North, on the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland, I couldn't let this opportunity go by without standing in my place on behalf of the people of Bonavista North, the seafaring people of Bonavista North, the people who had 300 or 400 years of experience in the marine world, to not get up on their behalf, and to go on record. I would certainly be remiss in my duty if I did not do that today.

Mr. Speaker, for a number of years there has been a downgrading of lighthouses throughout Canada as automation takes over. I think at one point in the eighties there were 800 lighthouses in Canada, in the whole of Canada, and since the 1960s, actually, with automation, they have gradually been reduced. I don't know what the numbers are today, but they are probably around, I would suggest, not more than 100 lighthouses in the whole of Canada, with the most of those that are remaining now being in Atlantic Canada. Again, I don't know the numbers that are in Newfoundland right now, but I think again it is probably close to thirty, in that area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Yes, right.

Having said that, I recognize the importance of technology, and recognize what technology can do today. When we can place a man on the moon, when society has reached the stage where it can place a man on the moon, we certainly should be able to do something in terms of lighthouses, or take advantage of that technology and apply it to the marine world, and apply it to lighthouses, but I wanted to follow on from what the Member for Mount Pearl was saying. We should be able to use this technology to improve the system and make it a more viable operation, not to close it down and just to have and just to have a light, an impersonal light, Mr. Speaker. Did you ever hear of a light saving somebody's life? Did you ever hear of a light taking part in a rescue operation? Did you ever hear of somebody talking to a light? I mean, it is just an impersonal object that offers no sense of feeling, no connection with people. Today, with automation, we should be able to do something to develop the tourism basis along which the Member for Mount Pearl just alluded to.

I've talked about the number of lighthouses in Canada. Newfoundland, I would suggest, being an island, more than any other place in the country needs lighthouses. We need lighthouses more than any other part of Canada. Lighthouses have become a part of the culture and the heritage of this Province. When we are doing things, when we are preserving things, we don't always just only look to the dollar value. I would suggest the fact that lighthouses and light keepers have become such an integral part of the culture and the heritage of this Province, that that in itself deserves keeping the lighthouses. The fact that it is so tied up with our culture and our heritage, that in itself is enough to preserve lighthouses in this Province.

I was on a visitation to my district about a year ago. I ran into this marvellous couple who wanted me to come into their house and talk to me. Come in for a cup of tea. I came to find out this is what they've been used to doing for a number of years. They both, man and wife, were lighthouse keepers. If hon. members want to know about them and to follow up on the little story I'm going to allude to you, there was a thesis done for an MA at Memorial University by a girl Fulton from Ontario. She did a study on lighthouses in Newfoundland. It was in the folklore department. She did a study on these two marvellous people, a Mr. and Mrs. Wakeley, presently living in Centreville.

Mrs. Wakeley was a war bride, comes from Scotland. The minute that they - when they came here after the Second World War, Mr. Wakeley applied for a lighthouse keeper and got the job on Puffin Island, which is an island just off from Greenspond, and he served in that position for something like thirteen years, he and his wife. They raised their family there. Their kids didn't go to school. Mrs. Wakeley taught them. I think there were four or five. At least four members of the family, and I think there were more. She taught every one of them to read and write. Today all of these kids are working with good jobs, and they were taught on this little island, Puffin island, by their mother and father.

This girl selected these two people. She interviewed a number of people but she selected those two people because of their openness and because of their interest in lighthouses and because of the kind of people they were. She selected these two people and wrote her thesis on these two people.

It has become - lighthouses are part, as I've said, of the culture and the folklore of this Province, as this story illustrates. I had my office contact this girl Fulton because I wanted to find out - I thought in the conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Wakeley that she was not a Newfoundlander, so I had my office contact her to find out where she did come from. As I indicated in my opening remarks, she was from Ontario, but she was born in London, England, really, and her father was an officer in the Royal Navy. That is how come she got interested in lighthouses.

She grew up in London, moved to Ontario, and when she finally decided that she wanted to pursue this interest in lighthouses she herself concluded that the best place to study about lighthouses, and particulary from a folklore point of view, was in Newfoundland. She came here and did this study on Mr. and Mrs. Wakeley. So if hon. members wanted to read it, the thesis is at Memorial University in the folklore department.

I tell hon. members that to illustrate how lighthouses, light keepers have become part of the very fabric of this Province. That in itself, in my view, is worth preserving. It has become a way of life with us. The hon. Member from Mount Pearl mentioned the tourism value and I don't think we should forget that. I think it has tremendous value. If we are going to take advantage of technology, let's take advantage of technology in making something more productive out of these lighthouses. Let's train the lighthouse keepers in terms of being able to work in some area related to tourism. Let's make them communication centres, the lighthouses, so that there can be more effective communication between the ships and the boats that are out there that need the services of this lighthouse. Let's do things like that and as I said, let's make them centres of information and centres for tourism.

Last year or a couple of years ago now this Province hosted the Canadian Parliamentary Conference here and, as hon. members know, when you do that, when you are hosting, there is always an anxiety about what you are going to show the people coming in and their social activities. We took them up the Southern Shore and do you know one of the biggest attractions up the Southern Shore? I mean you and I take it for granted, the biggest attraction - we took these people from all across Canada up the Southern Shore - was the foghorn at St. Shotts. I think it is St. Shotts, the foghorn there where you look out into the fiord. Well that was the big attraction, of just a simple old foghorn. On that particular day it was foggy and it let out its cavernous sound while we were there looking down, as I said, into the fiord. Well a lighthouse. I don't know what they would have done had they seen a lighthouse with a lighthouse keeper. They were so excited with the foghorn, with the lonely foghorn, had they been able to see a lighthouse with a lighthouse keeper, as I said, I don't know what their reaction would have been.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record as supporting the resolution introduced by my colleague the Member from Twillingate. I would hope that we can mount the kind of protest, the kind of opposition to the staffing of these lighthouses that the federal government will finally see how important these lighthouses and the lighthouse keepers are to the very fabric of this Province, that they will change their minds and instead will do something to make these lighthouses even a more meaningful part of the fabric of this Province. Let's do something so that they can - let's take them and turn them into an opportunity to do something for the Province. Let's not look at them as a liability, as something that we've got to do away with but something that, with intelligent minds, something that people with creativity, people being innovative can do something to contribute to the economy of this Province, Mr. Speaker, and I believe it can be done. If we have the political will to do it, I am sure that it can be done and we can preserve those lighthouses, not as a liability but as an economic advantage to the Province. I thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

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

I am pleased to rise today in my place and commend the Member for Twillingate for bringing forward such a motion. As the former speaker just mentioned, I also come from a district of Baie Verte - White Bay who have lighthouses in that area and over the years, the history of it, I would be remiss if I did not stand up and speak on behalf of the people of Baie Verte - White Bay district in supporting such a motion about this particular issue of the lighthouses.

Mr. Speaker, I think that some good points were made with the previous speakers. We go way beyond the budgetary or monetary move as far as what money and savings could be done with such a move by the federal government, and also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention too, that I would like to see more members on that side get up and speak on this particular issue and that we all - and of course, we don't see this in the media a lot - but we all do support this from both sides of this whole House, this entire Chamber supports it as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, to support a move that these lighthouses are not just a move to solve our budgetary problems, but is a part of our heritage, a part of our history and more so than ever, it is a need in this Province for our fishermen and also for the people who use it as we said, it relates to the tourism and the pleasure boat people in this Province.

It is much deeper, I think the quote was - the Member for Lewisporte said it earlier, I am not sure if I have his figures right - but they would save somewhere in the area of $89,000 a year on each lighthouse. What a ridiculous amount to be even mentioned, Mr. Speaker, what a ridiculous amount.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. SHELLEY: Eighty-nine thousand dollars would be saved per lighthouse in this Province if that move follows through. Now I look at that amount of money, Mr. Speaker, and I know that the different members here who spoke today, have talked to lighthouse keepers who are a minority, there are only a very few of them across the Province but, Mr. Speaker, there are thousands of people whose lives have been affected by those lighthouse keepers. Thousands of people, hundreds have lives saved and I know, I have talked to lighthouse keepers who tell you stories about lives that were saved over the years by lighthouse keepers and, as the previous speaker just mentioned, a light can't come out and save them.

The human factor of the lighthouse keeper has to be at the forefront of this whole argument. An analogy one person gave to me, he says it is almost as bad when you automate the lighthouse keepers as when you call someone on the phone these days and you get that bloody answering machine! It is the same thing. It might serve the purpose of getting a message across but there is no human connection there. There are many fishermen, who, over the years, will tell you, Mr. Speaker, over the many years that lighthouses have been around this Province, that they feel a comfort knowing that, that light that is spinning around in the darkness or in the fog, that there is somebody up there; they will not feel the comfort, Mr. Speaker, knowing that up in that lighthouse, where that light is revolving that there is a machine.

The whole purpose of this is that, we realize there is a human being up there who can relate to you, who can talk to you. That is what is important about this, Mr. Speaker, that is why every member in this House, this entire Chamber, the Premier, our seven MPs in Ottawa, all of them should remember and keep in mind that this is a heritage and a history of Newfoundland of which we are very, very, proud; beside the historical attachment, we also have a human factor involved and the human factor is simple, that the people who sat in those lighthouses for years and years have comforted a lot of people. Fishermen in boats, people out in cruisers or in pleasure boats and for whatever they were out there, the bottom line is, that they knew there was a human being sitting up there where that light was revolving and that they possibly could be helped if they so needed that kind of help.

Now, Mr. Speaker, a few of the people here mentioned today that already there is a tourism related aspect to this, and in the next few years, Newfoundland, as we talk about the Cabot celebrations and so on, I am willing to bet that tourism and I think the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation will agree with this, you will see an increase in boats in these waters around this coast as people see more and more with those Cabot celebrations that are coming, that more and more people will be travelling to these coasts. Pleasure boats I hear now, talked about from the Eastern Seaboard, the New York/Boston area, will be delighted to come up here in the summer time, and tour the Island, going around the Island discovering of course, the inlets and the coves and what makes Newfoundland so special.

Now, Mr. Speaker, knowing that there are lighthouses there and lighthouse keepers, like the member said earlier, that first of all, that is an attraction to tourists, to see a lighthouse and to actually go up to the lighthouse and have the lighthouse keeper come down and talk to you. Just a few weeks ago, I can't remember the program, I think it was CBC that did a documentary on a particular lighthouse keeper who has been there for years and years and how he worked in that lighthouse and spent many nights, of course, a lonely lighthouse keeper as you hear the stories but, Mr. Speaker, a lot of fishermen will tell you that knowing that, that person was there in that particular structure that we call a lighthouse, was a comfort to them and we cannot lose sight of that fact; but what we have to keep in mind, is that there are only a few lighthouse keepers, so it is very important that the member brought this forward today that we, as a group, as a governing body in this Province, bring forward as strong as we can the message to the federal government that this is the wrong approach; this is the wrong move.

As some of the other speakers mentioned earlier, not only should we keep the lighthouses, but we should expand and improve them, to the effect that not only will they be lighthouse keepers, but they should be improved and educated and trained in communications, so that people who would like to come to this part of the world and explore our coast which is talked about so widely in all nations of the world, that they would be encouraged to come to this part of the Province and go around the Island in their boats and in their pleasure cruisers and use that.

Mr. Speaker, when I look at the amount of $89,000 per year for these lighthouses, I wonder - I really ask myself the question - what does the federal government see in the big saving that this would create, $89,000 per year for one lighthouse. Do they realize how many people, how many hundreds of lives, have been saved over the years, and, therefore, how many families have been affected by their loved ones who have been saved due to a lighthouse keeper and what had taken place with the rescue. Do they realize that? How can you put a dollar sign on something like that?

When I first heard about this move, I couldn't believe it. I thought it was ludicrous that there was even consideration of that. When we see so much waste in government these days, at provincial and federal levels, that we see such a measly attack on something that is so special and so human, that they would attack such a part of their budget. It is ridiculous, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad to hear that the Member for Twillingate would bring this forward, and I know there are a few other members who wanted to speak on it, but I just want to make sure that the district I come from, Baie Verte - White Bay, was represented in defending that these lighthouses stay there.

The Member for Mount Pearl mentioned earlier that on a clear day from the lighthouse you can actually see the lighthouse from Twillingate area into LaScie, but when the lighthouses really come into effect is on those foggy and stormy nights, and winter storms, when you can see the lights revolving and know that there is a human being up there who can maybe be helpful if they need it.

Mr. Speaker, from this I hope that we can continue on and also encourage the federal MPs, and I hope the member who put forward this motion will be in contact with those people, and have them join with us, as the Members of the House of Assembly for this Province, in supporting this particular resolution, and I hope that we will be able to gain enough support so that these people come to their senses and realize that this budgetary move has a lot more to it than just a budgetary, monetary position. It has a human factor that has to be considered. It is part of our heritage, part of our culture.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to conclude by saying to the Member for Twillingate that I am very pleased that you brought this forward. I know that everybody on this side of the House supports you. I assume, and I hope, that everybody on that side of the House supports you. I know that the member of the NDP Party here supports you, the Member for St. John's East. Now we have to get the support of the federal MPs, and hopefully we will have them come to their senses and realize that this move should be chopped, should be terminated, forgotten about, and let's get back and expand and improve - not cut, but expand and improve - the lighthouses we have in this Province today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

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

Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to join with fellow members here today who are expressing their concerns with respect to the closure of lighthouses in Newfoundland. In my own district, in particular on Bell Island, we have a lighthouse there that has been there for many, many generations. I didn't have the privilege of knowing the previous lighthouse keepers, but I must say that since 1989 I have gotten to know, and have had the opportunity to visit with the current lighthouse keeper on many occasions. Bill Clarke, who is the lighthouse keeper on Bell Island, and his family, have made me welcome there on more than one occasion. I visited them not only during the times when it was just nice to be there on a summer afternoon, on a good day, but I also visited them on numerous occasions when we had situations in the Tickle where the ice was coming in and sitting in his house when some of the ferry captains would phone and ask Bill for his personal update as to where the ice was moving, how fast it was moving, giving them advance notice as to the kind of problems they may encounter.

I've been there also, Mr. Speaker, when one of the oil tankers was coming in and there was a small craft in trouble in the Conception Bay area. The lighthouse keeper was visually directing the oil tanker in terms of trying to assist some of the people who were in trouble on the small craft.

In total in the Conception Bay area there are probably in excess of 200 to 300 pleasure craft that rely on the lighthouse keeper on Bell Island to give them assistance and direction on any given time. I must say that during the tough times it is good if you are aboard of a vessel, be it a small boat or a large boat, to know that the lighthouse is there so that you can look for guidance yourself. Sitting on the bridge of - whether it is a small vessel or a large vessel, knowing that when you look up and see the light during some troubled times, that at least you have some guidance. But allow me to assure you that there is no greater satisfaction or no greater solace taken by an individual who is in trouble on the bridge of a boat in knowing that in the remaining lighthouses in Newfoundland there is a set of eyes looking back at you. That there is someone there who is either directing you and helping you and assisting you, or that indeed in many cases, and I've seen this again in the Conception Bay area, where the Coast Guard is being directed by the lighthouse keeper in terms of where there is trouble.

There is a member of our own House of Assembly who had some difficulties in Conception Bay some time ago on his own boat. The lighthouse keeper was there to offer some assistance to him during those troubled times.

AN HON. MEMBER: There are fellows out in boats who don't know what they are at.

MR. WALSH: There are fellows out in boats who know very well what they are at, but at the same time were experiencing difficulties. I must say, our lighthouse keeper on Bell Island was there to offer assistance and to give some direction to a member of our own Legislature who was having difficulty that particular day.

Mr. Speaker, what I want to say really is that it is fine for the federal government to look at some of its own cost-saving measures, but I think that it tends to be looking at this particular problem with blinders on. As the hon. Member for Twillingate said in the early part of his remarks, they sit in Ottawa concerned about a traffic light being out, and probably willing to spend hours arguing with people over a traffic light, in trying to solve those problems, when indeed the set of eyes that sits in the lighthouse keeper's home looking back at the vessel that may be in trouble, or giving guidance to those that are sailing by, that that set of eyes has probably saved more lives than any of us would want to remember or even imagine.

The mere fact that, as was said earlier, two individuals will be receiving an award tomorrow - and that in actual fact the media has not picked up on it, and indeed I believe that the Coast Guard itself has probably played down the issue, because to give recognition to individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty is something that it doesn't probably want to do at this point in time, because it flies in the face of what it is attempting to do itself in closing down the lighthouses.

I want to go on record today saying that when they come to close the one on Bell Island, not only will I be there to make sure and do what I can to obstruct literally the equipment that they may wish to transport off the ferries to install upon the top of that hill, and I am sure that many Bell Islanders will be with me. We are going to insist and work very hard, and we are going to be very determined to make sure that a set of eyes remain, and that a family, or at least a lighthouse keeper remains in the lighthouse on Bell Island.

There are too many people who are going to have problems, I think, in the coming years. The traffic in Conception Bay itself warrants a lighthouse keeper and I do not believe the traffic that we experience in Conception Bay is much different than in other areas of the Province where there are remaining lighthouses. I think we have to stand up and be strong, and to argue and defend with all the means we have at our disposal to ensure that the remaining lighthouses in Newfoundland remain active, remain operational, but more important remain in a situation where there are lighthouse keepers like Bill Clarke on Bell Island who will ensure the safety, and indeed be there to meet any of the requirements that vessel owners may have when they are in distress.

It is almost like the fire department, Mr. Speaker. We are happy enough to pay them and we pray that we do not have to use them. I think we are taking the attitude with lighthouse keepers where we say, we are happy enough to have a light there but we do not need the set of eyes. I believe that attitude we are taking in terms of the federal government's viewpoint is a wrong attitude and one that collectively, we here in this House of Assembly, have to fight, and we have to defend the lighthouse keepers who remain for the sake of all those who wish to use, and indeed do use, our coastal waters.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very proud to rise today and support the resolution as put forward by the Member for Twillingate. When the last speaker, the Member for Mount Scio -Bell Island, spoke and talked about the experience that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation had, and how he used the beacon, the lighthouse, and how it was of some help to him, but that does not surprise me because he has allowed the roads to deteriorate to such a condition that he has no other choice but to use a boat now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister, did he pass by a lighthouse in my district? He came into Kings Cove and he has some trouble with his motor there and a couple of the boys went down and spent the whole evening with him. I just want to tell this brief story. They spent the whole evening with him and did not charge him anything. He got down and did not know how to use the motor. Those are the people who are there today in pleasure crafts that should never be out there. They are out there in those pleasure crafts, do not know how to read a compass, do not know how to use the loran-C or the global positioning system. If something goes wrong with their motor they do not know how to fix it. They have to be either towed in or drift in to one of our community waters around the area.

This is what happened to the minister. He happened to come into my district. He came into Kings Cove, a very friendly district, and a couple of the boys there being good samaritans, good fishermen, knew how to fix motors, knew all about diesel motors, went down and took it over. They said to the minister: you stay out of the way and we will fix your motor for you, and they did. They did it and I am sure the minister was very happy, so I hope he shows them the same courtesy now and gives them a little bit of money to repair their roads so that they can go the other way, too, now that they come looking for it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to stand here today and voice a few words in support of the resolution of the Member for Twillingate. Bonavista South, being a marine district, we have two lighthouses, one is at Kings Cove and that is controlled by a beacon, by a light and a horn as well. There are no electricity services to it. There is a solar panel there that attracts the light from the sun and that charges the batteries, and that supplies the power to the foghorn and to the light when it is needed. That is at King's Cove.

We also have another lighthouse which is pretty well known around the world, at Cape Bonavista.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it is not at Cape Spear, it is at Cape Bonavista. Mr. Speaker, when the Member for Bonavista North was up speaking he talked about people coming here and what they were attracted to. He is so right. Because I think the lighthouse at Bonavista is probably the biggest attraction in the whole area there. In fact, it is depicted on a lot of our provincial stationery. It is an historic site, and a lot of people when they come, that is what they want to see. They go out and they take the walkway down around and they make it an outing. They spend most of the day there just looking at the beautiful scenery and the services that this facility has offered in the past. They have somebody there full-time giving them tours, a very knowledgeable fellow, and I'm sure they go away with many thoughts. A lot off them return again to look at the beautiful things that are offered there.

Some of those lighthouses I've seen from both sides. I've seen them by going and looking at them from the land, and I've also seen them by boat from the other side. I can assure you that there is nothing more consoling, there is nothing that will give you more of a piece of mind, a better form of contentment, than to know that somebody in that building, the only structure you see, there is no better feeling than knowing that there is somebody there, there is a set of human eyes looking out, protecting you.

AN HON. MEMBER: Someone watching (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Someone watching over you. I don't know how much participation was brought forward by the government of the day when the federal team went around the Province having a few hearings in a couple of local places. I know they were down in my district. I made representation, Mr. Speaker, and told them the importance as I saw it, and as was expressed to me by many of my constituents, the importance of not going and taking away the human element from those lighthouses, and having it being controlled by just foghorns and lights.

I have also had an opportunity to go out and visit a lighthouse in another district, the District of Trinity North, on an area known as the Horse Chops. You go out through English Harbour and you drive, I would say it has to be five or six miles, on this point of land just going right out into the Atlantic. If you could only see the money that the federal government has spent out there since it did away with the lighthouse keeper there. If you could only see the dollars that were spent in trying to put up helicopter pads and a home there, I suppose a residence there, in case the helicopter got grounded, for the people to stay overnight. If you could only see the cost that was involved there it would frighten you to death. I think it would pay the services and it would pay the salary of a lighthouse keeper for many years. Big pieces of creosote timber, treated timber, eight by twelve, three flights high, going up to this giant helicopter pad, out on the Horse Chops in Trinity Bay. Unbelievable.

I think what this government of this day has to do is not only stand up here in the House of Assembly and say: Yes, we support the member, or, yes, we support that. It has to take it a step further and it has to take it to its cousins up in Ottawa. Those are the people who are making the decision, not us here. Those are the people who are making the decision and those are the people who have to be convinced of the importance of leaving the human element there. Those are the people who have to be convinced and the government of the day are the people to do that.

I will just add those few words, because I know that the Member for Burin - Placentia West, representing a marine district as well, has some comments to make. I'm sure the Member for Twillingate would like to clue up, since it is his resolution. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I call on the government to be very vocal when it talks with the people in Ottawa who are part of this decision-making process. It is up to them whether we leave things as they are or whether we want to go back to a scenario where we are going to be controlled by lights and flashes.

Before I sit down I would like to commend the Member for Twillingate with the letter that he wrote and I know it got fair air play here in Newfoundland. I remember hearing it read on the radio and he was 100 per cent right, I think he called them the land lizards of Ottawa or the land lizards of somewhere. The land-locked lounge lizards and he was 100 per cent right. I could not have described it better myself but I call on the member because it is his people once again that he has to convince. I call on the member to go a step further and make the plea to make sure that this does not happen here on this island Province of ours. Thank you very much.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to be very brief as well because I believe that we have some other members who want to speak to this private members' resolution as well. I want to commend the Member for Twillingate, Mr. Speaker, for bringing the resolution before the House. I don't think there is any doubt that the Member for Twillingate has a very sincere and very genuine interest in these issues and I commend him again for bringing this matter before the Legislature.

The Member for Twillingate, Mr. Speaker, has asked this House to call upon Ottawa to reverse their decision. For those of us who have lived around rural Newfoundland, most of our lives, realize the importance of lighthouses, particularly for those of us who come from fishing communities and fishing families, Mr. Speaker. There have been incidents I am sure that people can relate to, such as my colleague from Grand Bank, the Member for Twillingate and others have mentioned this afternoon of why lighthouses should be maintained. I have talked to lighthouse keepers in my own district who have expressed - not because of their own situation but because they know exactly how important their jobs are.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where do you get lighthouses?

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there are more lighthouses on - if there are more lighthouses on the south coast of this Province - why don't you go down to the Burin Peninsula and talk to people like Mr. Gaulton or talk to people like Mr. Hollett and all of these and you will find out what is going on with the lighthouses. The problem is, Mr. Speaker, as the Member for Twillingate said earlier today about the crowd from Ottawa, the group from Ottawa - what did he refer to them as?

AN HON. MEMBER: Land-lock lounge lizards.

MR. TOBIN: Land-lock lounge lizards, I think that is what he called them and that is true. I wonder where his brother stands in this? Is he fighting this like he is fighting the federal budget? Absolutely. Well it is too bad, Mr. Speaker, his older brother doesn't take some lead from him and stand up and fight Ottawa on some of these issues as well. What are you saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure you agree with everyone who dances into parties with either.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: He wanted to know where the lighthouse was in your district.

MR. TOBIN: Burin Island.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, tell him. He did not hear it. That is what he wanted to ask. He asked you where the lighthouse was.

MR. TOBIN: Burin Island.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are judged by the company you keep Tom.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see that, `MP against automation of weather lighthouse services.' It goes on to say Gander - Grand Falls MP George Baker and there is a little note on it that says, `Wins stand up for Newfoundlanders like I am; George.'

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is extremely important. I had a call last week from a Mr. Hollett in my own district wondering what has been done, what the Province is doing in terms of fighting this issue. I explained to that gentleman that representation had been made. I knew there were some people such as the Member for Lewisporte, the Member for Mount Pearl and others that had made representation on behalf of the various Caucuses. I explained to him that it was my understanding that the Member for Twillingate was going to bring in a resolution which we were about to support, which we would be supporting but I emphasized upon him the importance of contacting his federal member, Mr. Simmons. I told the people, Mr. Speaker, who were concerned about the lighthouses on the south coast to get a hold of Roger Simmons, the federal member, and get him to do something, because there is not a lot that this Province can do; there is not a lot that the Member for Twillingate, or the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board really can do -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Where was it they put the flag up when they got hold to him that time?

MR. TOBIN: Down in Petit Forte.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no, it wasn't; up the coast, François somewhere.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am surprised today that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who has depended on lighthouses, who goes out and occasionally forgets to come in before it's too late, and when the night comes they have to go out and get him, when he stays out too late and dark comes too quick, I am surprised that he hasn't spoken on this resolution today.

Mr. Speaker, this is important to a lot of people around Newfoundland. There are a lot of people in this Province over the years who have depended on lighthouse keepers.

AN HON. MEMBER: Somebody said Chris Decker is a sailor. Is there any truth in that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, Chris is a sailor. I heard Chris is a good sailor.

MR. TOBIN: If the Minister of Education is a good sailor, then it's nice to know he's good at something, because he is good at nothing else.

Mr. Speaker, I remember growing up and going out to places like Cape Pine, where there were family out there, and I am sure the Member for Twillingate is familiar with them, going out to the Myrick's on Cape Race, who ran the lighthouses out there for years, the Corrigan family on Polls Head, or the Polls we used to call it. Just recently there was an article on CBC regarding that family that was involved in that, and how these people no doubt spent a lot of time not just doing what people think they do, but watching the ocean, becoming alert for when people are in distress, knowing what needed to be done and when to do it.

That was not just a lighthouse keeper. That was not just somebody manning a lighthouse. They were families that were involved in maintaining lighthouses. Everyone in the family became part of that, and no matter how young they were they could almost detect if there was trouble out in the ocean, and that whole family concept has been gone. People have now moved back, and they drive back and forth. That is not the same, even though Tom Corrigan just recently retired out there. His family were all raised out there, and his father before him was a lighthouse keeper, but what would happen now, to save a few measly bucks in Ottawa, for that bunch in Ottawa, to save a few measly bucks, 1,000 different ways they will waste the money they are going to save on a lighthouse in this Province. There will be jets flying all over the place, flying the Prime Minister on his holidays, vacation, and all of that. What it costs for one of them would keep the lighthouses going in this Province - and I am not talking about this Prime Minister; I am talking about all of them.

That is what is going on; yet, there is nothing left to look after the people of this Province and, I have to say it, with the exception of George Baker there is not another Member of Parliament from this Province who has stood up and taken a public stand, have come out and said to Doug Young and to the Prime Minister, and to the rest of them, that this is not a good decision - it is a terrible decision - who have not said what the Member for Twillingate brought before this House today, and that is where it is going to fall apart, because if the Members of Parliament from Atlantic Canada were committed to maintaining a lighthouse system, and the members from the west coast - well, there are some Liberals on the west coast out in Vancouver - but Atlantic Canada is basically an entire Liberal caucus, and if that Liberal caucus united and demanded that the government act on this resolution, if the Liberal caucus from Atlantic Canada demanded to Doug Young that the resolution that hopefully will be passed in this Legislature today become policy of the Government of Canada, then we have no fear of losing our lighthouses. Mr. Speaker, there are not too many George Bakers left in Ottawa, there are too many Wins Bakers left in Ottawa and not enough of George Bakers.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to say again, to the Member for Twillingate, that I look forward to once again supporting your resolution. I supported you personally on many occasions in your political career; I have always had -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) polecat.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I was his polecat and I have always thought, Mr. Speaker, he had the best interest of Newfoundlanders at heart -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) poll.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I always won my poll and he always won his district. Mr. Speaker, when I was with him, he always won, he is sure to remember that. That is more than Brian Peckford did when he had you as his co-ordinator out in western Newfoundland, the northeast coast, for the leadership.

AN HON. MEMBER: Brian Peckford?

MR. TOBIN: Yes. He was the co-ordinator for the leadership and it was a disaster.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Member for Twillingate: keep it up, and I can assure you on issues like this when you defend Newfoundlanders, you can count on this party and this caucus being four-square behind you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do take delight as other members before me in supporting the resolution put forward by the representative for Twillingate. I too, like the Member for Burin - Placentia West earlier, had supported the minister. This is not my first time either. I remember I was probably a bit younger to be involved in politics but I could shimmy up poles and I could haul down posters of his opponents, which I did.


MR. CAREEN: Oh, and I am still at it but I find it harder to climb.

Now, this is very, very important to Newfoundland and you have these bureaucrats up along, the landlocked lounge lizards is a good term; but I mean, some of these people up there obviously think that lighthouse keeping comes under some Department of Social Services as in light housekeeping, but what we see here is, these people - the governments come and go no matter what your political stripes and the bureaucrats still have their agendas.

I remember four years ago when the Tory administration was in Ottawa and the Liberal administration was here and they closed down the lighthouse in Point Verde. Placentia Bay, is a very busy bay with tankers going in and out of Come By Chance. Millions and millions of tons of crude oil go up there every year. With the talk of Come By Chance expanding for Hibernia oil, the shuttle tankers will increase, small shuttle tankers will go in and increase traffic to that bay and the human element is needed in the one lighthouse that is left there. On the eastern side of the bay is Cape St. Mary's. The human element is needed more than it ever was, the chance to prevent a disaster.

We have heard stories from other members today, we have heard stories all our lives about lighthouse keepers saving lives, being witnesses to call help, to do stuff themselves, but these mechanical means and these electronic means cannot nor will they ever replace a dedicated lighthouse keeper. The committee that was going around earlier around this Province regarding the lighthouses was an insult, so much of an insult that hardly anybody ever showed up. The lighthouses, they said from the start, were going to be closed, they were going to be definitely closed and they were asking people to have their input on how they would be closed.

That was the purpose of their meetings. People were fed up, poisoned, and it was a foregone conclusion that they could not change it. I am delighted to be able to stand up here and support the Member for Twillingate, and all other members here, those who have spoken and those who have not had a chance to speak today, to tell Ottawa that the Province of Newfoundland is not satisfied with what is coming out of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Transport's office in Ottawa, and we join with our lone member up there, the lone ranger, Mr. Baker, in condemning Ottawa's foray into making changes to lighthouses in this Province. I salute anybody who stands up, and I now sit to let the Member for Twillingate conclude his remarks, and also congratulate him for introducing the private member's resolution today.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to have a few remarks actually. In speaking about the history of lighthouses, and I suppose an issue like this is not without romanticism, and is not without the way in which lighthouses are a part of our folklore and a part of our history. When I was first elected back in 1989 I was doing some work on research on lighthouses in order to try and help the local tourist groups in my district to substantiate the historical significance of an old stone lighthouse that had been erected in the community of Rose Blanche in 1878. I was able to find, and subsequently had some more research done - and of course 1878 is not really old if you look at it as far as some of the others, the Cape Bonavista lighthouse, and some others throughout the Province, but it was significant in some of the information that I did find.

The lighthouse in Rose Blanche, along with many others in the Province, country at the time, were contracted out to the mother country, over to the United Kingdom, and some architects and engineers over there normally were the designers of these lighthouses. The main architect and engineer who had the majority of contracts throughout the world at the time was a company - and I ran across their name in some old documents of the House of Assembly, namely a company called D & T Stevenson, lighthouse architects and engineers.

The reason I mention this is because it gets into the folklore side of it even more because that family of Stevensons was the same family, and they were brothers, of course, of the immediate family of Robert Lewis Stevenson, the famed author and poet. He, as we all know, is famed for his writings of lighthouses, of ships, and the sea, and many other things.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, exactly.

It is this information that led me to speak to a family member of the Stevenson family, the only living member who was in charge of the archives of the Stevenson family. I managed to track him down in England because all of the old documents on which the lighthouse construction throughout the Province was based were in his possession, the family being no longer in the business of architecture and engineering.

I tracked him down at the National Library of Scotland and was able to get a number of those documents brought over to assist us in documenting a good tourism story for the people who eventually visit the site of the Rose Blanche lighthouse in my own district. We are hopeful to eventually - and it is an unmanned lighthouse, I might point out. It has toppled, this old stone one has at this time, but we would hope to be able to develop that as a Robert-Lewis-Stephenson Museum in the theme area of lighthouses and a centre of excellency for lighthouse engineering in the district.

So we think this will be a good potential destination type of thing for people to travel to, especially if you look at the linkage to Japan. Japanese people like lighthouses as much apparently, as they do Anne of Green Gables. It is second only to Anne of Green Gables in their interest of reading and studying the literature of lighthouses. So we have an interesting connection there to build on for tourism benefit and also to have some place where the engineering - and it is very interesting to see the way in which these were engineered even back then. The substantive nature of the documentation that was required and the packing that was done prior to the lighthouse armatures and everything being sent over from England here to Newfoundland. Also there are references there to lighthouses throughout Japan and lighthouses everywhere else.

Just to get into the hon. members motion, I also do support the manning of lighthouses or the personage of lighthouses, I suppose you could say to avoid the sexist term. But it is something that is admirable, that we do need that last vigil, that person who would stand in watch of the sea with all of our mariners being out there plying their trade on the sea.

Another point I would like to make, and this is little bit of history of my district, the Anne Harvey, one of the coast guard ships that we all know of, was named after the daughter of a lighthouse keeper. The Anne Harvey, she and her father were recognized by the provincial government back in the mid-80s in the rescue of, I think it was about 180 men who were shipwrecked off Isle aux Morts on the southwest coast. So the history of lighthouses carries over into our existing coast guard ships and this particular vessel was named as such, the Anne Harvey, because of this situation. So we do owe a lot of our past history to lighthouses, that not being enough justification for the continuation but the fact that we do need these people to keep watch over the sea, the stormy weather that is known to come up so rapidly in Newfoundland, I would submit that the hon. members motion should be supported, as it seems that it will be here today.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I stand in my place today to support the resolution put forth by the Member for Twillingate, which basically calls on the federal government to continue funding for the staffing of the lighthouses.

Mr. Speaker, I don't stand here today supporting this resolution just for historical reasons, or for cultural or traditional reasons, although these reasons are very important, as the Member for Bonavista North mentioned; these are the reasons he was supporting the motion. I am here to support it for more practical reasons. It has been proven that the staffed lighthouses save lives.

Mr. Speaker, my father-in-law was a lighthouse keeper back in the forties. He is now eighty-three years old, and he tells us all kinds of fond stories or fond memories about serving in the lighthouses back in the forties, and how important these lighthouses were to the people and to the livelihoods of the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, if someone was stranded in the ocean, or actually in the water itself, I am sure they would prefer to have a person at the lighthouse than a piece of equipment or a piece of machinery. What it boils down to, I suppose, is Ottawa putting a dollar value on lives, and I don't think that can be done. The people in Ottawa, or the people who are putting this forward, I wonder if they understand the situation that this Province is in with respect to the importance of lighthouses. Sometimes I wonder if they feel that the lighthouses are on wheat fields, oceans of wheat. That is certainly not the situation, Mr. Speaker. I don't believe they realize that the lighthouses are on very rugged coastlines of this Province, to serve people on very dangerous waters.

Mr. Speaker, there was a lighthouse in St. John's East Extern which was removed a few years ago, actually before I became a Member of the House of Assembly. It was gone before anybody knew anything about it. The people in the district were quite upset and quite concerned that the lighthouse was removed without any public input, or information given to the public. I know of one individual who wanted to basically turn the lighthouse at Cape St. Francis into a tourist attraction, as the Member for Mount Pearl alluded to, and it would have been a perfect location for a tourist attraction, maybe a bed and breakfast. The building itself was in very, very good shape. I had visited it a number of times myself, and a lot of people who came to St. John's, in and around St. John's, and went down the Marine Drive, liked to visit the lighthouse at Cape St. Francis. Now, all they have down there is a helicopter pad, and that's about it.

I don't have a lot more to say on the issue, other than to say that the Member for Kilbride talked about tourism, and I believe the Member for Bonavista North also spoke of tourism. I think that if we could combine the idea of promoting tourism with the safety capabilities of staffed lighthouses, we could certainly generate jobs for the Province, and possibly generate more revenues.

I know that time is getting short and the Member for Twillingate would like to respond to the speakers today, I am sure, so I would like to just go on record and say, yes, I definitely support the motion from the Member for Twillingate in asking the federal government to continue funding the staffing of lighthouses in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Twillingate will close debate.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I want first of all to express my sincere gratitude to the members on both sides of the House who supported the Private Members' resolution that I have introduced here today. I am grateful for their support, and I have been very interested in hearing some of the things they had to say. I think it is obvious that they speak for most Newfoundlanders, and it indicates to me that there is a lot of support in Newfoundland for the retention of lighthouses as we know them.

My colleague from St. John's South reminded me that I failed to mention another very important and historic family in Newfoundland who has been associated with lighthouses under rather interesting circumstances, I might add, since 1846. I am referring, of course, to the Cantwells, related to the hon. gentleman from St. John's South. I don't have all the details here now as to how the Cantwell family -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: One of them went out in a pilot boat, was a pilot on a small vessel, and went out in search of the King of Norway, wasn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it was a Dutch Prince, as I recollect.

MR. CARTER: A Dutch Prince.

AN HON. MEMBER: The hon. gentleman and I were first (inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Yes, the Dutch Prince was on the way over here, and he was overdue. His arrival was somewhat delayed and the Cantwells and others went out in search of this person, this royal person. I think Cantwell led him in through the narrows in his boat and I think when he arrived, in gratitude for what happened I guess, quite excited by virtue of the fact that he was rescued, gave him the right, the royal prerogative, to man the lighthouse in Cape Spear in perpetuity. There is a document in existence, I have not seen it although I would like to, in fact I know where it is, a document in existence now to that effect, and I am told that it is signed by every time a Royal personage visits Newfoundland. Isn't it the custom that they re-endorse that document?... so that speaks for itself, but again I pay tribute to the Cantwell family and I am also told by the way by the gentleman from St. John's South, that last year over 500,000 people, tourists visited the Cape Spear lighthouse, 500,000 so you can imagine how important the lighthouses are from a tourist point of view.

MS. COWAN: And really impressed, really impressed.

MR. CARTER: Really impressed. I was interested in hearing the Member for Grand Bank, and in fact, he reminded me of something that I failed to do in my few remarks at the outset of this debate. He gave a list of people in his family who served as lighthouse keepers and actually he reminded me that in my opening remarks I failed to mention the fact that my grandfather was a lighthouse keeper for a number of years and I am sure that if I did not mention that fact, that when I have occasion to meet him in the hereafter, that he won't take too kindly to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He would remind you.

MR. CARTER: He will remind me. I was interested as well in the comments of my friend from Placentia and the gentleman from Burin -Placentia West, Mr. Tobin, and quite frequently both gentlemen, I don't know if they are boasting or complaining, but they associate themselves with this member during earlier days, before I saw the light and when I was part of another party, but I have very fond memories of both fellows, both gentlemen, and I can tell you now that I enjoyed many a very pleasant evening, a pleasant hour seated in the very cosy, little living room of the home of the gentleman from Burin - Placentia West in Trepassey, oh of course, and his very charming, and gracious mother, Eileen, one of the finest cooks I think on that shore. I tell you if there was ever a gentleman that trod this earth and a lady of the first order, they are the parents of the gentleman from Burin - Placentia West.

I had the privilege of initiating an action some years ago on behalf of his uncle, Captain Jerry Tobin, who was one of the best fish killers I suppose ever produced in Newfoundland, a captain of a trawler. I had the privilege of initiating an action that saw the site on which he fished, Tobin's Point on the Grand Banks. I had it officially declared and recognized. In future Tobin's Point is now being identified on every chart and every map that is being produced having to do with identifying - and I am very proud to have done that because Jerry Tobin was a real true Newfoundlander.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to make reference as well to people in my own district, Long Point. The Long Point lighthouse is probably one of the most important beacons on the northeast coast. I have no idea how many but I think I can say with some level of accuracy that the lighthouse keeper on Long Point has probably been responsible for saving, not dozens but hundreds of lives over the years.

Now I am not suggesting that the gentleman in Long Point lighthouse took a piece of rope in his mouth, swam out to a sinking vessel and tied it around the waist of the drowning person but I am telling you that the gentleman who occupies the position of light keeper on Long Point, on many occasions, through his alertness and vigilance, caused people to be rescued - not by himself but by virtue of the fact that he seen them out there in trouble, contacted the coast guard or RCMP and they did the actual rescue. But without his alertness, it might well be that these people would have drowned and that is the story. I have heard my grandfather, who was a lighthouse keeper, tell stories about rescues that he - while he did not actually effect himself but certainly initiated it by alerting people around who got their boats out and went out and saved a person.

Another unfortunate aspect of it, I have the strange feeling that what they are doing, they are doing for the wrong reasons. When you think that the cost of maintaining manned lighthouses around Canada, not just Newfoundland, is something like $6.5 million. Do you realize that overtime, the cost of operating the Coast Guard overtime is $13 million. They are spending twice as much money paying overtime in the Coast Guard as what they are in providing people to staff lighthouses.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that right?

MR. CARTER: Yes, twice as much, and that, too, makes it rather difficult to accept. I don't know what action this House will take, but one of my colleagues asked me what happens once a private member's resolution is unanimously approved. I expect that it is then formalized, and I presume, sent to the appropriate minister, or the Prime Minister, or somebody in authority in Ottawa. I ask Mr. Speaker and the people at the Table to do whatever is necessary to pass on the feelings of this House. We speak on behalf of the people of this Province. I expect my resolution will be passed unanimously, and that point should be made. I think we should take advantage of that situation to make sure that the powers-that-be in Ottawa know precisely where we stand on this issue.

MS. COWAN: Exactly. Hear, hear!

MR. CARTER: Maybe today is not an exciting afternoon in the House. We are not ranting and roaring, bellyaching and ballyraging, but maybe it is the sort of thing we should be doing more often, speaking as one on issues that concern the whole Province, and putting aside our petty politics for awhile and do that which is in the best interest of the Province.

I want to pay special tribute today to another old friend of mine, an outstanding old Newfoundlander, a man who received the Order of Canada a couple of years ago, Captain Peter Troke in my district. Most of you have heard of Captain Peter.

MR. ROBERTS: He must be an old man by now.

MR. CARTER: He is an old gentleman and a very fine man. He was captain, by the way, of the Christmas Seal. The Christmas Seal was a vessel of probably 100 feet that travelled this coast X-raying people, seeking out people with tuberculosis. Captain Peter was the captain of that vessel and in his lifetime he has been into every single port in this Province, and I can tell you now that I would certainly suggest to you that Captain Peter is alive today because we had manned lighthouses. He has often told me stories about how, because of a lighthouse on Puffin Island or Long Point or Cape Spear, that that was his salvation. Without that light or foghorn, it is doubtful whether he would have lived to be eighty-five years old, which is what he is now.

Mr. Speaker, again I thank hon. members on both sides for supporting this resolution. Lighthouse keepers, by their very nature, are characters. They have a certain amount of character that is not easy to find in most ordinary people. The lighthouse keeper, for example, on Puffin Island - my colleague, the Member for Bonavista North made reference to it. Puffin Island is a very important lighthouse, and again I would be willing to bet anything that in his lifetime he probably was responsible for saving probably a hundred lives.

These are the things, by the way, that the Coast Guard is downplaying. The Coast Guard hates the thought of lives being saved like the devil hates holy water. The hatred is about as great. As I said earlier, for that reason they are deliberately covering up the awarding of two medals tomorrow on the South Coast.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: His brother-in-law. Deliberately covering up the awarding of two medals, trying to do it without any press.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Pardon? Yes. I'm being reminded by the House Leader that - unless you want to come back tonight and I can finish up. I have a few stories I can tell about -


MR. CARTER: I can come back tonight and spend a couple of hours, but anyway, I'm not sure that would go down too well.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity, and I thank my colleagues, and I hope that -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

All in favour of the motion, `aye.'


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

Motion carried unanimously.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: There is no need to divide the House, given that there are no opposing voices to the motion.

Your Honour, we will tomorrow ask the House to resume the debate on Interim Supply. We got along so very well yesterday. My understanding is we will be treated first of all to a spectacle by the gentleman from Grand Bank and we all look forward to that. He inevitably presents us with a spectacle when he rises to speak.

With that said, Your Honour, I move that the House do now adjourn.

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