April 12, 1995               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLII  No. 18

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

On behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public galleries twenty-nine Level 1 Culture students from St. Michael's High on Bell Island, accompanied by their teachers Tom Moret, Ron Bennett and Tina Dobbin. Also a second group of forty-two students from Dunne Memorial Academy, St. Mary's, Grade 7 Social Studies classes (2), accompanied by their teachers Marjorie Gibbons and Helen St. Croix.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and the permission of the other members of the House I would like to depart today from the routine procedure for just a few minutes, if I might. Today is going to be a bit of a different day, at least for one member of the House, and all of the remainder of the days of the House may be different for all the rest of us as a result, because one member of the House, namely the Member for Grand Falls, and the Leader of the Opposition is sitting in the House, he says, for his last time.

I suppose one of the things that can happen to all members who announce their last days in the House is that things can change in the future. They may get drafted or any such thing as that could occur, and they find themselves back sitting in the seat again. But let us assume that what the member has said is correct, and this is indeed his last day in the House.

It is an appropriate time, perhaps, for all of us to set aside the real or apparent animosities that sometimes fly back and forth across the House, and I say real or apparent because the nature of politics is such that both sides of the House are in constant competition for public attention and support, and that invites the kinds of animosities and sometimes even ill will that we see in this House but there comes a time when it is appropriate to set that aside entirely and try and be fair, reasonable and accurate in ones comments.

I think after some sixteen years now I think, since 1979 when the member was first elected, it is clear that he has contributed significantly to public life in this Province in that sixteen years. I know that he contributed significantly to public life in the Province before he was elected. He played significant roles in the community, significant roles in organizations in the Province in voluntarily contributing of his time through service organizations and other means for the public good. I want to acknowledge that, but most of us do that kind of thing but few of us have the opportunity or sometimes are willing to make the kind of effort that is necessary to contribute to public life. Today I want to acknowledge that while the Leader of the Opposition and I have frequently found ourselves expressing views that are quite opposite in their specifics nevertheless I am confident that the general approach of both of us has been to make the kind of effort that we think will be beneficial for the people of this Province, that, I am satisfied, both of us have agreed to be our duty and we have, I have no doubt, tried to achieve that.

He offered himself for election the first time some sixteen years ago and has served in a variety of capacities including in the Chair where Your Honour is now sitting and I understand, I was not in the House at the time, but I understand he served with a reasonable level of distinction and indeed his picture hangs somewhere. He is hung somewhere in this building.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is behind the pillar.

PREMIER WELLS: Behind the pillar in this building. I don't know whether that is an appropriate or inappropriate place but nevertheless he did serve as Speaker, he served as minister and latterly, in the last three years or so he has served as leader of his party.

Now I guess there are two or three of us, the hon. Member for Naskaupi has also served as Leader of the Opposition. It is not an easy role to fulfil. It is a challenging role. It is a role where you are constantly torn in two directions. Your natural inclination to support that which you see is good, yet your obligation to make sure that you carry out a full critical role of what the government is doing, and I can speak from personal experience that that is not always an easy role to carry out, I am prepared to concede that some of the stronger words that the hon. member has voiced have, I've no doubt, been voiced in carrying out the second part of that role. That is, making sure that he leads the charge for his forces in the criticism of the government and putting forward the best position possible for the party that he has the responsibility to lead.

Mr. Speaker, quite apart from the challenges of that, I don't think there is anything that anybody does in public life that is more demanding or more challenging than the burden one puts on one's own family by having to meet the sometimes inordinate but certainly unending demands of carrying out public office. I think that those demands, speaking from my own experience, are greater when you are in a position where you have responsibility for leadership of your party, whether you sit on this side of the House or on that side of the House. Those demands are very substantial indeed.

It puts you in a position where you seldom have any personal time for your family, and that is a difficult thing to do, particularly when you do have a wife, children, even grandchildren, or at least a grandchild, I understand, recently. That is another status that the hon. member and I have in common. I can say to him as I've said to others, of all the things I've ever done or ever been I've not enjoyed anything as much as I've enjoyed being a grandfather. I expect he probably feels the same way about it. So I'm happy to see that he is going to have more time now to be a grandfather. It is indeed a major burden on one.

I shouldn't close these comments without admitting to the House that the roles of my hon. friend and I have intertwined many years ago, not as much through him directly as through his family. Many members will realize that he was born in Howley, a small railroad community on the West Coast of Newfoundland, or in the western part of Newfoundland. When I first ran to be elected to this House in 1966 the first person who came and organized a community activity for me was the hon. member's father, Max Simms, a great and strong Liberal, a dedicated Liberal. Strongly behind his father in his effort was his brother, Wes Simms, who was a very strong supporter, who comes from a great Liberal family. I don't want to make excessively light of that; I considered Max Simms to be not only a great friend, a client, as well, when I practised law in Corner Brook, but to be a fine upstanding citizen who contributed greatly to his fellow human being in a tremendous number of efforts and an individual who showed great personal courage in his later years of life when he lost both his legs due, I believe, to diabetes, that was the problem at the time, and the hon. member's mother, who stood by and worked with his father at the time. I just mention this to let hon. members and the people of the Province know that relationships between individuals that are sometimes portrayed in the House are not always the strongly held views that one frequently sees expressed in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I feel confident that I speak on behalf, not just of the Liberal members of the House or the Liberals of this Province, but I speak on behalf of all of the people of the Province when I extend sincere appreciation to the hon. Member for Grand Falls for his contribution in giving fifteen years of his life to public service. I think he has made a substantial contribution and I think it is entirely appropriate that I, as Premier, should express that appreciation on behalf of the people of the Province and ask the House to endorse it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Windsor - Buchans.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would ask your indulgence to associate myself in the first instance with the comments of the Premier. I believe it is incumbent on me to say a few words and I can tell you, a lot of people in Central Newfoundland would expect me to say a few words on this occasion.

I don't know if it is the right choice of words, but I am sure the member would agree that we have had some sort of a special relationship over the years, and it came as a result, I think, of the fact that we both ended up representing two districts, in my case, Windsor - Buchans, and in his case, Grand Falls, that from 1949 to 1975 was, I think, one district, the district of Grand Falls - Windsor, comprising both mine and his district. In 1975, the House will know, that as a result of redistribution, two districts were created, I became the Member for Windsor - Buchans and in 1979, the hon. member became the Member for Grand Falls.

It wasn't very long before we were seen in Central Newfoundland as being very adversarial. And when one looks at the reality in that district, number one, we were representing what in the first case was one district, while, in the second case, the greater part of my district was really part of the town the hon. member's district was, Grand Falls - Windsor, one town basically. And, of course, the other thing that made us appear to be adversarial was the fact that he was representing his district on the government side of the House of Assembly, and I was representing mine on the Opposition side of the House of Assembly, and - from my perspective anyway - when one looks at the style of government that we had from 1975, starting with Mr. Moores, and then on with Mr. Peckford, with regard to where you sat in the House, one could easily see why one would be seen as adversarial. One would also understand how, in my case, it was very easy to be critical, and I was indeed very critical. And the problem I had - because we became great personal friends - the problem I had was that every time I was critical of what was happening or was not happening in my district, that criticism appeared to be directed to the Member for Grand Falls who was, obviously, the minister. But, as I said, and as I got to know more and more people, and travelled the Province, I found myself more and more being associated with Mr. Simms, what Mr. Simms did or didn't do, or what I said or didn't say about Mr. Simms, and in the right circles it appeared to be that my only interest in the House of Assembly was things I could say, critical or otherwise, of the hon. member. What those people didn't know, of course, was that during all that time we developed what I would like to think was a good personal relationship, and we became good friends.

I just want to tell the House a couple of things that would indicate exactly what I am talking about. The hon. member generated more press, particularly in Central Newfoundland, than any other member before or since. I stand here and admit that I probably lost the battle in generating press. And he was very ingenious. One particular time I was on my feet being critical of something the hon. member had done or said, or had not done or had not said, and he threatened me across the House that he would - `That's okay, Flight,' he said, `the Advertiser will have this.' Not only did he not just quote me and be critical with a line or two in the Advertiser, he took Hansard - the whole Hansard - sent it out, and The Grand Falls Advertiser dutifully printed it verbatim, my whole speech, and it took me about a year to live it down.

Mr. Speaker, there is an old saying, `What goes around comes around'. In 1989, I became a Cabinet Minister, and one of the first things I did, one of my first duties, was to go to Grand Falls and have a press conference. And I called a press conference to announce some great thing this government was doing, and I think it was with regard to building, funding, and establishing a sportsplex, a recreational sports centre, in Central Newfoundland.

Anybody who knows anything would know that that sportsplex was going to go in Windsor. There was no doubt where it was going to be located, to the extent that I had any involvement in it. I had the press conference, and I remember the hon. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation was with me. I believe he was the executive assistant at the time. One of the very astute members of the press said, after the announcement was made and after I had read the statement I was taking questions, and they realized this press conference was being held in the member's district, in Grand Falls, they said: Mr. Minister, it is very conspicuous here that the Member for Grand Falls is not present. Was he not invited? I didn't know. I really didn't know why the Member for Grand Falls wasn't present. I know I hadn't invited him. I mean, the only people I invited were all the local Liberals. I wasn't aware who was or wasn't invited.

I had the opportunity, and I understand that he had some comments to make about it after, but it suddenly occurred to me, and I responded by saying: However, I don't think it is any big deal. Because I don't remember being invited to any of the minister's many press conferences in Grand Falls - Windsor the last fourteen years. I understand the member heard that and pointed out that I may have been invited.

In closing, and I'm being very sincere here, I want to say the ex-minister, the Leader of the Opposition, my hon. colleague, the Member for Grand Falls has had a great presence in public life in Newfoundland. He has had a great presence in this House of Assembly. A very quick little story to tell you just how great that presence was. I felt it first-hand again shortly after I became the minister. I was accompanied this time by the hon. Member for Lewisporte. I had gone to Gander to present some twenty-five-year certificates and pins for employees of the Department of Forestry. One gentleman was retiring, he was leaving public life. His staff and all his colleagues and his peers had arranged a party for him in Comfort Cove. Since I was in Gander they wondered if I would take the time to come down and be a guest at the party. We agreed. Mr. Penney, the Member for Lewisporte, and I agreed we would do that. I went down.

There were about probably sixty or seventy people present. After the meal there were formalities and I was asked to make a speech. A member of the staff got up to introduce me. After five minutes of a very flowery, very great speech, saying how grateful they were that I would take the time to be there with them - it was a very flattering five minutes - the gentleman doing the introduction said: Now, ladies and gentleman, I'm so delighted to introduce to you the Minister of Forestry, Len Simms. I said: When does this man get off my back?

Mr. Speaker, I use that little story to lead into my last thoughts and to confirm what in my mind is, and what everybody knows, that the hon. member has had great presence in this House of Assembly, in the public life of this Province, and certainly in his own constituency. He has made a great contribution to public life, he has made a great contribution to this House of Assembly. He has made a great contribution to Central Newfoundland, and specifically to his constituents and to the people of Grand Falls, and I say to the people of Grand Falls - Windsor, I appreciate very much the opportunity of having worked with and gotten to know to the extent I have the hon. Leader of the Opposition, and I wish him well in whatever endeavours he undertakes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As Leader of the New Democratic Party I want to join in the tribute being paid to the Leader of the Opposition for his contribution to this House of parliament and to the public life of Newfoundland and Labrador over the last sixteen years. As the Premier mentioned, prior to that as a community activist in Central Newfoundland and wherever he lived, making a contribution to his community before entering the House of Assembly.

My first experience I guess with Len Simms was during his, I believe, second election. I was a young lawyer at the time and was asked to assist in unseating him very shortly after an election which was won by some forty votes back in the early 'eighties. We didn't succeed. Of course Len Simms has gone on to be, and has been from 1979, a political institution in Central Newfoundland, as the Member for Windsor- Buchans has attributed to. In the House of Assembly I have seen Len Simms as a vigorous combatant in parliamentary debate with a sense of humour as well, and showed great courage in challenging the government agenda on so many difficult issues in the last number of years. Len Simms is a gentleman and I have a very good relationship with him since he has been leader, and as leader.

I see quite a number of young people in the galleries, school children, and I think it is perhaps fitting to say at this time, when I was seeking to go into politics back in 1987, and first ran for the federal House of Commons, a senior well-known gentleman who was a former member of this House referred to that effort of going into politics as a noble calling, and I asked him what he meant by that because I thought it maybe a cynical comment. He said, it is a very noble calling to be participating in the decisions that affect your people, the people of your Province. I have always remembered that because despite the cynicism that you hear from members of the public, and sometimes from the media, and sometimes promoted by people who do not really believe in the democratic institutions and the democracy that we have, politics is a noble calling.

Sometimes there are bad examples of people in public life who bring down the name of politics and that calling by certain activities. I want to say to all of those present here, and in the galleries, that Len Simms is one of those who has added to the calling of politics by his example and by his efforts in public life. He has been nothing but a gentleman in my books and in my relationship with him.

I must say on a lighter note that I was kind of surprised when I heard that he was retiring. I did not really think he was old enough to be retiring until shortly after that, when I saw on NTV where they did some sort of recap of some event that occurred a number of years ago, when Len Simms as the Minister of Tourism, or Provincial Affairs, was passing out some athlete of the year awards and I saw on the television cameras a very young man with a bushy hairdo, some sort of Afro perm it looked like. He looked like a young fellow in his twenties, so then I realized, perhaps he is older than he looks. Then I heard he also had become a grandfather and that also sort of put him in a certain category, so maybe he is about to retire.

He asked me the other day if perhaps I would be announcing my retirement as well. I guess I will announce my retirement. My wife and I just had a little baby girl in November so I am going to announce, when I become a grandfather, my retirement, too. So, there you have it, my announcement.

I do want to pay tribute to, and thank and show the appreciation of me and my party for the contribution that Len Simms has made to the House. He has always been very kind to me. He even encouraged me to run for his job. I think it is fair to say that while we compete in the House on issues, on policies, and sometimes on personalties, there is also a mutual respect for members of this House who participate in vigourous debate, who play the parliamentary and public scene with honour and with integrity. I think all parties show their respect for that and for individuals who carry out that role.

I want to join with the Premier, the Member for Windsor - Buchans and others who will have something to say in showing our appreciation for Len Simm's contribution to this House and to this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I want to join with the Premier, the Member for Windsor - Buchans, and the Member for St. John's East in paying a few words of tribute to our leader and our friend, Len Simms, on behalf of the caucus in particular.

AN HON. MEMBER: A funeral, boy.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It sounds like a funeral.

Len suggested that I should get up and move adjournment. He is a little taken aback by all of this. He said, `If they soon don't stop, Bill, it will be 5:00 o'clock and the House will be closed.'

I just want to say that the Premier has referred to the responsibilities and the profile that Len has had in public life and politics in the Province. He served as Speaker, and if my information is correct, I think he has held six portfolios as a minister in the PC Government under Brian Peckford.

MR. SIMMS: And Tom Rideout, briefly.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: And Tom Rideout, briefly. Yes, we remember how brief that was, I say to the Leader. But he has had quite a profile in public life in the Province, he has done quite well - in everything he has done, not just in politics, but when you look at his achievements with the Kinsmen Club of Canada, the first Newfoundlander to become national President, quite a distinguished career as well. And in other activities that he has undertaken he has done well.

So I want to say to you, Len, on behalf of the caucus, a very sincere thank you for your efforts on behalf of the party, particularly as our Leader. As the Premier has said, it is not very easy sometimes being a Leader of the Opposition. We know how difficult it is sometimes to keep the caucus together and even the Premier, as Premier, knows how difficult it is to keep caucus together sometimes, but Len has done a masterful job with that. When you are in Opposition, things are not always rosy. There are all kinds of reasons why you are not higher in public opinion and usually, it all comes back to the lap of the Leader. But Len has carried it off very well, he has kept us together - and he has done that by being a hard worker, by the way. He has communicated regularly with the caucus. It has been a very regular occurrence, really, to get a Sunday afternoon phone call from Len Simms and every time I have gotten it I knew he was on his way to or from Grand Falls or some other part of the Province. My wife would say, `Len hasn't called you today, Bill, it is kind of strange.' But he always would call, and he has done that with all members of the caucus as he has traveled the Province, wherever he might be; he communicated very well. I think that was one of the secrets as to why he was so successful in leading the caucus and keeping it together as he did. So I want to say thank-you, Len, for all your efforts.

He didn't inherit a very rosy situation when he became Leader of the PC Party and I probably know that better than most people in this caucus or perhaps better than any of them. It wasn't a great time to become Leader of the party, financially, morale-wise and otherwise. It was a very difficult challenge and I am not sure that Len knew when he became Leader of the party, really what he was taking over, because I remember day after day talking to him about this, that and something else and he used to scratch his head and shake his head and say, `Well, Matthews, what have I done? What am I into?' But between the jigs and the reels, he worked at it and he dealt with the party debt, he dealt with organization and even though we didn't win the last general election, he did remarkably well with very limited financial resources, and being so far behind in public opinion, when the Premier called the general election, he did very well. He put on a great campaign and when it was over it was paid for and he has eliminated the trade debt of the party. So he has done well on all angles of party work, he has done very, very well for us, and we thank him for that.

Listening to the Member for Windsor - Buchans, I was reminded of a few things about Len. I mentioned his phone calls - I don't know if you know it or not, but Len really loves getting press. I don't know if anyone has known this or not but when he sits here after Question Period he watches the door and he waits for the yellow note and slip to come in from the press. Any time he is here until 3:30 or 4:00 o'clock, he is wondering if he is going to get a scrum, that's what they said. There have been days when I have said to him, `You go on up to the office, now, Len, and if the note comes I will call you.' He said, `You sure?' I said, `Yes, go on now.'

MR. TOBIN: At times we would send one to fool him up?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: No, we never sent one to fool him up, but I remember one time, when I think he was Minister of Forestry and I was down in my own area of the Province, it was a bad forest fire season, a very dry summer and talk about a fellow manipulating the press, `Now, here is this report by Forestry Minister Len Simms reporting above the forest fire around Grand Falls, Newfoundland.' He was up in some plane looking down over the smoke and the flames and giving reports on the forest fire. I often said to myself, I wonder what he is costing the taxpayers of the Province today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Now, he knows that is true. That's why he is turning red, you see.

But he loves the public relations. As a matter of fact, he loves it so much that if one of us happens to get a note from the press and he doesn't, he goes home and watches television to really see if they carry you. A couple of days ago, of course, the press called me out on the overfishing, when they questioned the Premier, and I went out. And afterwards, sometimes you feel that you did well, and sometimes you don't feel so good about it. I said: `I did really well. I felt good about the scrum today.' Of course, I didn't bother to watch television that night. So I come back the next day and he says, `You really got covered on television last night, Matthews.' I said, `Did I?' He said, `I watched both stations and did I ever laugh; they didn't carry you once.' Because they didn't interview him, you see, he didn't want me on. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, it's all in fun.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) radio.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, one of the boys said he got carried by VOWR. But it's all in fun, and I have to be careful because he told one of my good friends today at lunch that the next time they have a roast for me he is coming down, because this time he can really let loose, since he will not be leader and won't be in politics.

But it's only in fun, and I want to say to you, Len, that you have been a very good friend of mine.

MR. SIMMS: You would never say it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I deeply appreciate the faith you put in me, making me your House Leader, and I deeply appreciate the little bonus that comes with it; I want to tell you that.

You have been a good friend, and I want to say, on behalf of the caucus, once more, thank-you for what you have done for us and for the party. We really appreciate it, and we want to wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do in the future. We know you have a company started, and the Premier said that he believes you, that you might be finished, but having said all of that we know that you may be back, you may be in business, you may find a job somewhere else, but whatever it is, on behalf of the caucus, we want to wish you all the best in all your future endeavours, both you and your family.

I want to say to the Member for St. John's East, when you talk about being here until you become a grandfather, sometimes that happens faster than you think.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Not to delay too much longer, but I do want to take an opportunity, because I, perhaps, have known Len Simms longer than anyone here in the House. What perhaps most members don't know is that Len and I worked together in 1964 in Corner Brook on a highway construction project when I was a young engineering student, and Len was my assistant, which I thought was appropriate. We spent a summer working on the highway, and there are very many interesting stories I could tell about that, as there are many stories I could tell about our time in the House of Assembly, in caucus, and in Cabinet, particularly travelling overseas, in England, with the Sir Humphrey Gilbert proposal, and in Kentucky dealing with the Bowater takeover in Corner Brook when Len was Minister of Forestry. Many stories I could tell, but most of them are not appropriate for Hansard, so I will skip those.

I just want to say, quite seriously, that it has been a pleasure to serve with Len and to have known him for some thirty-one years. We became friends then and, strangely enough, we are still friends after thirty-one years. We have had some very interesting times together, and I would like to say that Len has always brought a great measure of decorum to the House of Assembly when he occupied the Chair that Your Honour now occupies, and as minister in the Government, and as Opposition Leader, and as opponent in leadership battles. He was always very honourable, and always a great fighter and a great contender, a great Parliamentarian, a great constituency person, but has always done it with a great sense of humour. And I think the greatest tribute one could ever pay to a politician, would be to say that he dealt with some of the trials and tribulations of politics in the House of Assembly with a sense of humour - very, very, important, and Len has done it exceptionally well. Again, on behalf of all the caucus and, I am sure, on behalf of all members, Len, I wish you well and I want to note, Mr. Speaker, he has the good sense to now be a constituent of mine in the great district of Mount Pearl. I wish him well in his retirement there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I must say I am a bit overwhelmed by it all; I did anticipate that there might have been a few words said, a few kind words, but I quite frankly didn't anticipate it would be as lengthy. It must be the largest and longest tribute ever paid to anybody in the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: I am not sure if you got that.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the New Democratic Party, who didn't quite confess as much as he should have; he neglected to indicate, back in the early days, that is, before 1982 when he came out to try to unseat me in Grand Falls that he really was a Conservative, he was a Tory. He didn't go as far as to confess that and I don't anticipate that he will, if he is asked publicly by the press, but worse than that, I think, back in his teenage days he was probably a Liberal. But I thank him for his kind and generous comments.

To my friend, the Member for Windsor - Buchans, yes, I would have to agree that he and I - at least there is a perception out in Central Newfoundland that he and I are great adversaries when we really aren't. I don't know if we have ever had a cross word or an angry word.

AN HON. MEMBER: In here.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, in the House you might exchange, in the heat of debate, a few pleasantries or unpleasantries but we have never had an angry word or anything I don't think, at least not since I have known him. But what he mentioned - now, there tends to be some exaggeration in all of this. I will deal with Matthews later on but he certainly exaggerated a lot of his stuff -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I didn't tell it all.

MR. SIMMS: - and so did the Member for Windsor - Buchans, to a certain extent. When he talked about my sending some speech he made in the House, out to the Advertiser and they printed it verbatim, that is reasonably correct. I don't think they printed all of it, maybe just three parts of it; but I can tell him this, that what he had to say in the House today will be printed in the Advertiser!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: But I do thank him - I know he is sincere in his comments, and I say to him: The first chance I get to tell the people from the Grand Falls Advertiser what you had to say, I will be sure to say something kind and nice about you as well; I do appreciate it, I know you are sincere; I appreciate it very much and I wish you well in your future.

To the Premier, I guess, anybody in the Province would be a bit overwhelmed if he had the Premier of the Province stand and pay a tribute or make some kind remarks about him, and certainly, I am no different from anybody else in the Province; I do appreciate the words that he had to say. But I tell the Premier this: What I appreciated more than anything else and was more proud of, was the reference he made to my father. That to me, means more than anything you could have said about me.

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of friends in the House. I suppose they are friends, but I think they are friends, on both sides. Not to be missed, the Member for Exploits, who was the first Liberal candidate that I faced and defeated in Grand Falls in 1979. I remember him well. I thank him for giving me the opportunity that he did back then.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: He is an old friend. For those who don't know it, when I hear people singing out Roger I turn around to my colleague. Because I don't know him as Roger, I know him as `Popsy,' and that is what most of the people out our way know him as.

There are others who I've known for a long time. The Government House Leader - when he was Leader of the Opposition I was in the Chair, for awhile at least. I remember having many conversations with him behind the curtain, which I won't -

MR. TOBIN: He tried to get you to run (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, he did. I'm glad he is not saying anything today in this regard because I'm sure he would remind everybody, me included, about the time he talked to me in 1975, I think it was, about running in 1975 for the Liberals.

MR. ROBERTS: You would have been four years earlier if you (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, but I would have been out probably six years later. In any event.... I suppose on that side of the House my best friend is probably the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the Deputy Premier.


MR. SIMMS: Yes. We are not close social friends but he is one individual who I have grown to respect. I'm a little sorry he didn't have anything kind to say about me here today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I understand he has trouble remembering things (inaudible).

Anyway, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased there are young people in the gallery today and young students from all over the Province. They won't understand everything that has been said down here today, but when you hear comments from the Member for Mount Pearl, the gentleman to my left, about how long he has known me, I think it is fair to say that he is - I'm not sure, but I believe you are the dean of the House now, are you not, or...?

MR. TOBIN: Successive.

MR. SIMMS: Who is - maybe -

AN HON. MEMBER: Continuously. Ed Roberts (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Continuously, at least. So when he and I -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Okay. We won't get into a big argument over it. I didn't mean to start a big racket over this, but in any event he has been around a long time. To hear his words, his generous comments, also means a lot to me. I did know Neil long before politics and the House of Assembly. Yes, I was his assistant. I was a young student. He was a graduate engineer or something at that time.

MR. WINDSOR: I was thinner than you (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: He was thinner than I was then, yes. But you aren't now. I was going to say to the students and to the young people in the gallery, you hear an awful lot about politics from time to time, and often the comments aren't very generous about politics or politicians. Let me assure you that politics is an honourable profession. It is something worthwhile to get involved with, despite the negativity that is often associated with the profession and with the job. There takes a certain type of individual who is prepared to work with people and help people. There takes a certain type of group of people I suppose, to make tough decisions and difficult decisions, and I know they have been tough, I say to the Premier; I understand that.

So, when you hear people in a general way casting negative remarks about politics and politicians, I just want to assure you that it doesn't apply to everybody in politics, or all politicians, just as it doesn't apply to everybody in any other profession. It is an honourable profession, one that I am very proud to have served in, and I want to conclude by thanking you, your predecessors in the Chair, certainly the people at the Table who have always been very helpful to me in my sixteen years here in the House, to the Pages, and those before them, and to the Sergeant-at-Arms who I had the privilege of appointing, I guess, back in the day I was Speaker. I particularly want to pay tribute to the press and media who have been very kind to me over the years, reasonably generous, and always gave me a square shake, to the other people associated with the House, the commissionaires, and all the rest of the people, especially in the Library. I must not forget Norma Jean, or I will hear about it.

Mr. Speaker, to my colleague, Bill Matthews, I leave the final comment. He did exaggerate quite a bit. What he said about the press, that is a little bit of an exaggeration. I felt I had a responsibility, as leader, to wait around to see if the media wanted to ask about the issue of the day or something, as leader of the party; that was all. There was never anything beyond that. He makes it sound like it was some big deal; but, I must say, I was very pleased to see that CBC and NTV didn't bother to carry him the other night. That really made me feel good.

I thank him, and I have to say to members of the House that if there is one individual, in my term as leader of the party, and Leader of the Opposition, that I relied on more heavily than anybody, it was the Member for Grand Bank, who did a terrific job for me as House leader and deserved the bonus he has been getting for the last three or four years. I only hope - well, who knows? We will see what happens. I had better not say anything about that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank all members of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I am sure I speak for all members, especially those who have not spoken, when I wish you a long, successful, happy and financially prosperous retirement.

Before I continue, I would like to welcome to the Speaker's gallery, a former member of this House, Mr. Garfield Warren, who represented Torngat Mountains and was a Member of the Crown.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, first of all I am delighted to see the Member for Torngat. You were here for my tribute, were you, Garfield?

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier a few questions about a favourite topic of mine, the Trans City contracts. With respect to that particular issue, I know that there is a matter that we have addressed, or tried to address, in the House in the past on several occasions but we never really received a satisfactory answer to the question. In fact, now, in reading through the judge's ruling, Judge Orsborn of the Supreme Court also said that he could not get a satisfactory explanation from the testimony throughout the trial, so I would like to ask the Premier today, first of all, if he can now explain to the House why the evaluation and award of the Trans City contract had to be so closely monitored by a special committee of his Cabinet Ministers? What was the reason for that? The judge said, and I have said, this question has never been answered satisfactorily.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: My recollection of it, Mr. Speaker, is that there were a number of things that we were doing that were different. We weren't just simply calling a tender in the conventional sense of that, and awarding the contract to the lowest bidder who met the basic specifications as they were specifically designed.

This was a request for a proposal, although I frankly admit that the way it went out there were some very confusing statements in it. Tender was used instead of proposal occasionally, and then proposal would be used, so it created a great deal of confusion; but there were two or three objectives that I recall being considered at the time, first the suggestion that we could get a better deal for the taxpayers of this Province by seeking a design, and build and finance a complete package, because the argument was being made that by going to tender you get over-design, or going to conventional design method, and then calling for bids on the pre-design, you get excessive design and this runs into much higher costs. So the strong recommendation was that we could get a better deal for the taxpayers by doing it in that way.

Secondly, we could get it financed on a better basis at a lower cost than we could otherwise do, and thirdly - I had sort of forgotten one of the factors driving this at the time, was this was just at the onset of the recession and we wanted to get government work under way quickly to help offset the effects of the recession. And we felt this could best be addressed in this way, by having it done by a committee of Cabinet, because it wasn't a conventional approach.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, in a supplementary, and just briefly in response to that, the judge didn't seem to accept that as a satisfactory explanation, that's the point I am trying to make, because it doesn't wash. There are all kinds of tenders that are let probably from time to time that don't necessarily follow the normal routine. There are probably other reasons for it.

In any event, a couple of weeks ago, the Premier may recall, I asked him in the House if the police were investigating the Trans City contracts, and I asked him as Minister of Justice. At that time, he said he didn't know. Since then, I am told, and I believe there have been public statements made by the RCMP commercial crimes unit saying they are in fact reviewing the evidence in this case. So can the Premier, in his capacity as Minister of Justice, now confirm whether or not there is a police investigation, an RCMP investigation into the contracts, and could he outline to us the nature and extent of this investigation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I expressed my view at the time that the hon. member made that suggestion of what a terrible approach it was, and it really portrayed politics at its lowest, and I am sorry that he appears to have resorted to it today. In any event, when he did make that statement, I wrote Colin Flynn, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and I referred to the exact comments of the Leader of the Opposition and told him what was said, and I sent a quotation from Hansard so that he would be fully informed, and asked, `Would you be good enough, please, to speak with the appropriate officers of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to ascertain if there is any basis for the suggestion made by Mr. Simms, that there was interference in the investigation.' Here is what came back the next day.

On March 24 I received a response from Chief Leonard Power of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. In response to my question, Chief Power writes: `I can advise that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is not now, nor have we been involved, in any investigation concerning this company or related issues that arose during the recent civil suits in the Supreme Court. I can further say, with certainty, that no member of the force has been dissuaded or asked by any person in authority not to accept a complaint, or investigate any complaint, that may arise in relation to that company.' On the same day, March 24, he says: `I also received a response from Inspector McCrae, officer in charge of the commercial crime section: `I wish to assure you that no one, either within or outside government, has approached me, or any of my subordinates, requesting that we delay or stop any investigation into Trans City Holdings Limited.' The director wrote to me: `I can also further assure you that no request has ever been made of me, or any of our prosecutors, either directly or indirectly, to delay or put on hold any review, or investigation, of Trans City Holdings Limited."

Now, was the thrust of the Leader's question at the time. They gave me the answer and I did not see much point in making a public issue of it because it was, as I had noted at the time, of no substance, whatsoever. Subsequently, I heard an interview with a police officer on the radio saying that in the ordinary course of things when they see reports in a newspaper and so on, they would review documents, and they were reviewing the judgement rendered by the court in that case. I expect that is a completely normal and appropriate thing for the police to be doing. I see nothing whatsoever untoward. If they see a newspaper report suggesting that somebody may have done something wrong, suggesting that somebody may have breached the law, even if they see an allegation coming from the Opposition to that effect, and there are some documents or judgement of a court, or some report or something, they will, that's their normal course, police are supposed to be suspicious and do reviews. I suspect, I don't know the exact numbers, but I remember in an earlier life this coming to my attention when I was acting as a lawyer for a person who was accused of a serious crime. The police say we investigate thousands of things that never get beyond just a police inquiry. This is perfectly normal, the hon. member shouldn't generate anything else beyond that out of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I listened or tried to listen as carefully as I could when he read the lengthy letter from the Constabulary. I didn't ask him about that, I asked him about the RCMP crime section and he then referred to a response that he had and he read through it rather quickly, but I think they were words to the effect, they confirmed they were never asked to delaying or put on hold any police investigation. I think those were the words he used, it was fairly quick so I couldn't get it all.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I think that's what he said.

My question to the Premier is: Is there an investigation ongoing? Does that imply then, that in fact they weren't asked to stop one or delay or put on hold? Is there one going on? That was my question to him, and it flowed from information that he referred to himself, the comments by, I think it was a Staff Sergeant or somebody with the RCMP, who publicly, not only on radio but in the newspaper as well, made reference to the fact that they were reviewing the evidence in the Trans City issue. That would imply, I think - I am not trying to make anything on it - I am assuming that that means they are investigating it. If they are reviewing the evidence, then they are investigating it, I presume. In any event, this is now two or three weeks ago. I don't know what the date was on the letter to the Premier; perhaps he could tell me when he stands -


MR. SIMMS: - with respect to the RCMP. So that's three weeks ago. So, does he know now, can he now confirm there is absolutely no review of evidence, that there is no investigation going on with respect to Trans City contracts? Is that what he is saying here today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. The police don't report to me what they are investigating or what they are not investigating. The police do their investigation, and one thing we have in this Province is a pretty good system of justice. The police work fairly well, work fairly independently, and the Director of Public Prosecutions works totally independently and people are prosecuted, on the whole, not because they are involved in politics or they are not prosecuted - nobody fails to prosecute them because they are involved in politics; we have a pretty good system of justice in this Province. Occasionally, when excessive political pressure is brought to bear, an individual may be charged when he or she ought not to be charged. That happened one time before and it was a pretty terrible circumstance. I have never forgotten how that happened. It happened because Opposition members at the time made that same kind of allegation and it's unfortunate when they do that kind of thing.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know whether they are conducting an investigation or not and I don't need to know. If they are, they will tell me, but I do know - I do know, that they did, in fact, or at least I heard the inspector from the RCMP interviewed, state categorically that they were, in fact, looking at the judgement of the court. Whether they are going to conduct an investigation as a result of it or not, is entirely up to them.

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

MR. SIMMS: But, Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I mean, that is precisely the question I asked the Premier several weeks ago and again now, today. I didn't make any allegations. I asked him a question - one was with respect to a delay in putting on hold and he has addressed that and said no, and I have asked him if there is an investigation going on, an RCMP investigation ongoing with respect to Trans City contracts, and I believe now, he has just told us that he doesn't know if there is an investigation. If that's the answer, well, that's fair ball. I simply asked the question in order to get the answer; so, is that what the Premier is saying, he doesn't know if there is an investigation on or not into the Trans City issue by the RCMP crimes division? Is that what he is saying?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the RCMP may or may not be doing an investigation. I do know that they did review the judgement. Now, whether that constitutes an investigation - but I can tell hon. members that the RCMP review numerous things that may or may not result in an investigation at some time later as a result of that review. Every time they see something where somebody alleges that somebody may have broken the law or may not have acted in accordance with the law, the police, as is their duty, will do an investigation. How ever they come about the information, even if it comes about as a result of an allegation made by an opposition member in the House of Assembly, they may well do an assessment. It may turn out to be a full blown investigation but I can say to the hon. member, while I have been made aware, as the general public has been made aware, that the police did in fact review the judgement and documents in relation to this, I have no idea at this moment whether or not that has resulted in an investigation.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well now we are getting somewhere, that is what I wanted to know. Did you know? The answer is you do not know and you would not normally know is what you are saying. You cannot even find out if there is an investigation going on if you wanted -

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, I can find out if I wanted to. I could call public prosecutions and ask them to find out (inaudible) but I don't interfere with (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, that is not interfering, I say to the Premier, to ask if there is an investigation going on. How is that interfering? That was the question I asked him two weeks ago. He did not ask then so will he ask now, today or find out and let the public know and let the people know if there is?

In any event, I will ask him one final supplementary question, Mr. Speaker. The Premier has said in the past both inside and outside the House that before the Supreme Court decision was brought down that he would hold a judicial inquiry into this entire affair if there was one iota of evidence of wrong doing or questionable practices? Now the court indeed found evidence of questionable practices, of that there can be no doubt and more than one iota. Now the government has appealed the decision. I want to ask the Premier this: is he prepared to give a commitment now, in the House, that if that appeal fails and the findings of the Supreme Court stand, will he then order a complete independent judicial inquiry into this whole entire matter?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if there is any evidence that there is any wrong doing on anybody's part or any indication of wrong doing on anybody's part, I will ask that a full inquiry be held but I am not going to start witch hunts because politicians want to see witch hunts started.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Natural Resources.

Yesterday in the House the minister read out a ministerial statement regarding the spray program for this year for the Province. In the statement the minister said that it looks like and everything indicated, that there would be a total of some 209,000 hectares of forest that would be defoliated by the looper this year. Out of that, approximately 119,000 hectares were in the moderate to severe category. Further on in his statement the minister said that a program could range up to the spraying of 75,000 hectares. Now I ask the minister, if there are 209,000 hectares infected and infested - which as far as I am concerned is just as serious as the other 119,000 - if there are 119,000 severely infected, why are we spraying just 75,000 hectares? What about the rest of it, especially the other 50,000 that are severely infested?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the surveys have indicated about 209,000 hectares have infestation. Approximately half of the area has light infestation. We don't spray light infestation. That is not threatening the life of the tree in one year. The remainder, moderate to severe, and we have evaluated the moderate to severe areas to determine what percentage of that we need to cover. There are certain areas that get subtracted from that number. For example, any area that is going to be harvested this year - if we are going to cut the trees in 1995 we don't need to spray the trees because we only spray the trees to try to save them for the future and a certain area of the moderate to severe infestation will be cut in 1995.

There are also some parts of that moderate to severe area that are not merchantable timber. They are in inaccessible areas and will never become merchantable timber. They too are excluded because they will never be harvested and there is no need to therefore protect them for future harvesting. In the end, what it comes down to is that my staff, working with the people from the two companies that are involved and working with the federal forestry officials who have done the surveys, have determined that approximately 75,000 hectares are in the merchantable timber area, moderate to severe infestations, and need to be protected to maintain these trees for the future.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Back I think between 1966 and 1972 there was an infestation then affecting approximately 12 million cubic metres of timber in the Province. After a very I suppose large spray program at that time with fenitrothion the paper companies only salvaged 20 per cent of that particular timber, which amounted to approximately 2.4 million cubic metres. As far as I'm concerned, it is just as severe today. Having said that I ask the minister: Could he tell the House what the officials in forestry and the two major paper companies in the Province recommended to his department to spray with?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, we are aware of the amount that could be salvaged the last time. I believe I said it in my statement yesterday that only 20 per cent was salvaged from some of these earlier infestations. These were much larger infestations than we are now facing. We are at the beginning of an infestation here and we are going to do the spray program this year to attack the areas that are most vulnerable. We are certainly hoping for a good weather window in the third week of June and the first half of July so that we have a very effective spray program and can cover these areas at least twice. We want to protect these trees at least twice.

In coming to our decision as to what we would use this year, we evaluated the two options. I believe I did say that yesterday in response to questions. We evaluated the two options and we discussed these two options with the companies, as well as with the federal forestry people, but in the end, considering all factors, we decided that it would be most appropriate to go this year with BT.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The minister also stated in his statement that this year they would be doing some experimental trials involving a new growth regulator called Mimic and testing two new BT products. Could the minister inform the House where this testing will take place, and when?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. In the same time frame as the regular spray program when the insects are in that vulnerable stage, the appropriate stage of development, that is when the experimental series of sprays will be done. We are using two BT products that we believe are going to be a bit more effective than the present one in terms of its stickability in wet weather, it will last a bit longer, and they should be a bit more effective, these two BT products. We are going to do some sprays with that this year, and the Mimic, the growth hormone, as well this year.

Mimic has already been approved by the federal government for the spruce budworm but it has not yet been approved for the looper. Unfortunately for us it is not approved for the looper and we don't have a budworm problem, so we can't go having widespread sprays with it. This year we are doing the experimental area with the looper.

In terms of areas, they are in the western region. I haven't seen the final blocks yet but they are certainly in the western region, I think, for the most part, in central and western region, down around Grand Lake and in that region. I will be pleased to get the details of that for the hon. member at any time as soon as it is available.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. In the absence of the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture I have a question for the acting Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. It is pertaining to the TAGS review process. A few months ago there was considerable concern expressed about the low number of appeals that were actually being accepted after the reviews officer recommended acceptance. I think it was somewhere around 5 per cent of appeals that were actually accepted after the appeal.

I know there was representation made from a number of corners in the Province. I publicly voiced my concern about it. Members opposite - and I believe the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture and a delegation met with the federal minister's on it, trying to do something about this concern with the TAGS appeal process and, as a consequence, there was an independent review panel set up, a third and final phase of review. I am wondering if the acting Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, could inform the House what the Province's understanding was of how that review panel would work, because I hear there are some problems being encountered with it, that it is really just another level set up that really does nothing different.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I am the alternate Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture - first alternate - and I must say I am not up-to-date on the details of that. The minister just had to leave today for meetings outside the Province. I will be pleased to try to get that information for you, and get it to you.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It looked like the Premier was going to get up. I don't know if he is aware of the situation or not, but the concern about the review process, there was considerable concern about it throughout the Province, that 4 per cent or 5 per cent of all appeals were actually being approved, or awarded benefits of appellants.

The thing is now, as a result of the fuss and the kerfuffle, they set up a third and final level known as the independent review process, three independent persons, independent of the federal government, and I am hearing now that some of the people who have appealed are getting letters saying that the independent review panel will make its decision without having in-person hearings or representations from the person who is doing the appeal.

I guess my question is, really, it seems to me it was only set up to try to take a bit of political heat off the situation, because what is the point if the person who is appealing their decision cannot appear before them and give them additional information, or make representation, and verify history attachment and dependence, then what is it all about? I am wondering if the Province is aware of that. If they are not, will they check into it and make the appropriate representation to the federal ministers concerned, namely Axworthy and Tobin?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I can tell the House what has happened. We have been aware of the problem for more than a month now, and about a month or five or six weeks ago, perhaps, we structured a committee of members from all parts of the Province - members of the government caucus - and asked them to go to Ottawa and meet with the ministers and senior government officials involved in it, to try to find a solution to this problem, and I believe it was probably as a result of that meeting that this additional review process was put in place. Then, the review process started to function and it became clear that it still wasn't addressing a fundamental problem.

I asked my Parliamentary Assistant to go to Ottawa again and meet with the ministers - and this time it was just my Parliamentary Assistant who went - I asked him to go again and meet with the ministers, and meet with the officials involved, and try and find a solution. He came back last week, I guess it was, and reported to me on what occurred.

I have since spoken with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa about the matter, and as soon as the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans gets the Spanish fleet off the Nose and Tail, hopefully, or gets them under control out there at least, this matter will be addressed directly.

My Parliamentary Assistant, who is the Member for Eagle River, will be in Ottawa probably next week, I think next Tuesday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I asked him to go. We will be meeting, I believe, with the Minister of Fisheries next Tuesday or Wednesday - I have forgotten the date - to try and address the problem. So, yes, we are aware of it; yes, it is being addressed.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations regarding the activities of the Workers' Compensation Review Division. Can the minister confirm that the Chief Review Commissioner is hearing all cases across the Province?

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

MR. MURPHY: No. About a week-and-a-half ago, when the hon. member raised another issue, I had an opportunity to have some discussion with the Chief Review Commissioner, and in our discussions he indicated to me that other commissioners appointed last July are now also handling some of the reviews. We didn't discuss numbers, I say to the member, but there are others besides the Chief Review Commissioner.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, something has changed in the last week and a half if that is the case. Something has changed drastically. According to information sent by the Workers' Compensation Commission's chief executive officer, Ms. Barbara Taichman, she was clearly under the impression that the Chief Review Commissioner was hearing all cases. In fact my understanding is that the minister was even surprised when he bumped into the Chief Review Commissioner in Corner Brook because he was out there hearing cases.

My understanding is this. That the Chief Review Commissioner has been hearing all cases since December 1. I wasn't aware that that had changed, but my information was that he was hearing all cases across the Province, that he was travelling to Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander and Labrador hearing cases while there were part-time commissioners in Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander and Labrador. The question is: Why has that changed, Minister, if it has? Can you confirm that he was hearing all cases? If it has changed, why has it changed?

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes. First of all let me say to the hon. member that neither I nor the hon. member are responsible for the impressions that are left with the CEO of the Workers' Compensation Commission. I can't speak for Ms. Taichman or why she felt that the Chief Review Commissioner was doing all the cases. Let me say to the hon. member, I remember last year when my colleague the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and the hon. member were debating this particular issue and the legislation associated with the position.

The Chief Review Commissioner is autonomous really from the department and has the right under the legislation to assign the cases. As the backlog decreased from the old tribunal system down into the new system, it is at the discretion of the Chief Review Commissioner to decide who hears the cases. I say to the hon. member that the Chief Review Commissioner may have been in other parts of the Island - again, that is his decision - to hear cases, and that he may have in reality been in Labrador. Again, if you look at the legislation, you will see that he has every right to do that.

The other side of the coin is that my understanding again in conversation with the Chief Review Commissioner recently was that there are other people, other commissioners, who are doing other cases and have been. Whether or not in that specific time frame the review commissioner was the only one hearing cases, the member could be correct. Again I say to the member, he has the right to do that. It isn't up to me to take that right away from him unless we change legislation.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall on the conversation that took place between the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and the Chief Review Commissioner recently.

As the minister is fully aware, at the meeting that took place that we talked about a week and a half ago in his office on March 13 with the CEO of the Workers' Compensation Commission, with the Injured Workers Association, that was an issue that was raised. Correspondence sent back to the Injured Workers Association thereafter indicated in writing that it was Ms. Taichman's understanding that all reviews were being heard by the commissioner.

The minister is right, in that the Chief Review Commissioner has the right to assign cases. But if the Chief Review Commissioner is going to hear all cases across this Province and incur extra cost in doing so -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question. (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I'm trying to lead up to it, Mr. Speaker, if you would just give me a moment. Sorry. If he is going to hear all cases across the Province and incur extra costs from it, why did the minister let it go on? Has the minister put a stop to it? Can he say for certain now that cases in all parts of the Province will be assigned to part-time review commissioners in those areas of the Province?

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

MR. MURPHY: I sense, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member has a force that drives him through questions. Whether he hears or doesn't hear, or whether he is a fly on the wall or not, I have absolutely no idea.

What I said to the hon. member initially was, is that it is my understanding that the review commissioner is now designating cases to other commissioners. Okay? The hon. member knows the legislation and fully admitted that the commissioner has the right to do that under the legislation. So I mean, I really don't understand again, by innuendo and/or again by suggestion, what the member is really trying to drive at. We have improved the system immensely, we have saved the taxpayers thousands and thousands of dollars. In the old tribunal system, I say to the member, we had in the Estimates some $447,000 cost, last we saved $100,000 and the projected for this year is down to $221,000 which is less than half of what was spent in the old tribunal days. So I don't understand why the member is up grand-standing every day.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, a little light reading for members of the House over the Easter break. These are the statutory orders that have been passed by the government since March 11, 1994, beginning then and ending on March 31, 1995. They are tabled by me in accordance with the obligations of Section 18 of the Statutes and Subordinate Legislation Act. I would add, Mr. Speaker, this is only one set. I will forego tabling any other sets. If anybody really wishes them, he or she could attend upon the Clerk of the House who I am sure will be only too happy to provide them with copies of the Gazettes. You may see now why we need regulatory reform in this Province.

PREMIER WELLS: We did that?

MR. ROBERTS: The Premier asks, `We did that?' In collective ministerial sense, we did, is my answer.

Thank you, Sir.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, last -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, if he would like two copies of that, I would be happy to ride them with him but there will be a quiz when we get back after Easter.

Your Honour, last Friday in the debate on the Estimates of the Lieutenant-Governor's establishment, the gentleman, the Member for Bonavista South asked me if it were correct that His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor did not pay taxes. I told him, to the best of my understanding that statement was not correct, but I undertook to speak to the officials concerned. I now have a Minute from the Deputy Minister of Finance who says: I can confirm that you were correct in your reply to the hon. member's question. The Lieutenant-Governor to Newfoundland and Labrador receives no special tax exemptions and that appears to be the case in other provinces as well.

The Governor General's salary, as I noted, is tax exempt but that's a provision of the Constitution Act dating back to the original British North America Act in 1867. I pass that information to the House for such use that it may wish to make of it.


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

MR. HARRIS: Thank-you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition on behalf of sixty-nine individuals who petition this House on the issue of the use of fenitrothion.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Are they for it?

MR. HARRIS: These petitioners know where they stand, I say, Mr. Speaker, as does this member. There seem to be a large number of people in the House who don't know where they stand and many of them are sitting over here on this side of the House, but these petitioners say:

WHEREAS fenitrothion is a toxic substance having a detrimental effect on animals, fish, birds, insects and plant life; and

WHEREAS the use of this substance was discontinued by the Government of Newfoundland in favour of Bt, Bacillus thoringienis for spraying of our forests and is also banned in certain states and other provinces; and

WHEREAS consideration now is being given to the use of fenitrothion to combat predicted infestation of hemlock looper in 1995;

WHEREFORE we, the undersigned, call upon the Government of Newfoundland to continue the policy of not using fenitrothion in future spraying programs.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this petition was prompted in the last couple of days by the mere suggestion that the Province would consider using fenitrothion in the forests, and I note that even though the minister made an announcement yesterday in the House, he was very careful prior to making his announcement some ten minutes before that, to basically say that the options were still open, they were considering both options; they were keeping their options open, he wasn't even going to make the announcement for a couple of days he said, but then, when pressed, finally made the announcement yesterday afternoon. So, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that this petition, even though the announcement has been made for this summer, is a petition without a purpose, because it does bring to mind and bring to public attention the issue surrounding the very controversial insecticide, fenitrothion.

I recall, Mr. Speaker, some years ago when the government was considering using fenitrothion, it was a very controversial issue. There were concerns raised by former biology teachers, by current biology teachers, by members of this House, by scientists; there was a concern about the possibility of effects on humans - Rhys syndrome was identified as a possible result from fenitrothion spraying programs, there were other concerns.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well, that may have been discovered since then, that aspirin was the cause of it. I see the former biology teacher nodding his head back there but I recall that member raising the issue of Rhys syndrome back then when that came up, so that was the concern, that was the controversy at the time, Mr. Speaker, a lot of individuals were concerned about the use of fenitrothion; in fact, as the minister mentioned yesterday in the House, the concerns about the use of this insecticide prompted a further review by the Federal Government as a result of the concerns raised by environment officials in Atlantic Canada.

The results of that review will soon be published, Mr. Speaker, and I would say, from my information, that review will disclose that although fenitrothion will continue to be registered, it will be subject to very serious restrictions, and its registration may not last more than another couple of years. This insecticide is credited with doing damage to over seventy different songbirds, causing life-threatening effects on about 40 per cent of those. It is credited with causing damage to salmon and trout eggs and hatchlings. There are serious environmental effects on other wildlife and other forest uses through this toxic substance, fenitrothion.

Mr. Speaker, when Bt is there, is available, is equally effective under most conditions, then there should be a long-term commitment to the use of Bt, and avoidance of the use of fenitrothion, which is currently the policy. It has been definitively banned for use in the Province of Ontario.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: I think this Province should declare itself in the long-term interest, and the Official Opposition should be pressed to state where they stand on the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: I welcome the opportunity to respond to the petition from the Member for St. John's East. I don't know where the petitioners are from. Are they from St. John's, or other areas of the Province?

MR. HARRIS: Grand Falls, Port au Port, Corner Brook, Mount Pearl, Lawn.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a few words about this particular petition.

The minister made a statement yesterday telling the people of this Province that there was a very serious problem in the forestry industry in this Province - a very serious problem. When you say there are 209,000 hectares of forest in this Province that is threatened to be defoliated this year alone, as far as I am concerned, that is a serious, serious problem.

Now, we don't have to be reminded, as members of the House, and I don't have to be reminded as an individual from the West Coast of the Province, what the forestry industry means to that particular area of the Province. If it were Bt, or Mimic, or fenitrothion, or Raid, or Black Flag, or White Garden, whatever, that would kill and do away with the hemlock looper or the budworm, I would be the first to stand in the House and say, `Use that'.

I am a bit sceptical, I say to the minister, and I say it with all due respect to the Member for St. John's East, that by using Bt this year it will not do the job. I hope it will. I hope it is excellent. I hope it will do the job that it is supposed to do.

Mr. Speaker, both Bt and fenitrothion - and the Member for Gander, I remember, I have some speeches up there from the Member for Gander with some wonderful quotes in them, I tell you that - fenitrothion and Bt are both insecticides. One is a chemical insecticide, and the other is a biological insecticide. Fenitrothion kills as soon as it touches the organism. We know, when the minister says that the forests are defoliated, that it is not just on the leaf of a fir tree, it is not just on the bough of a spruce tree. It is down in the moss; it is on birch trees; it is on hardwood; it is on everything. The eggs are down in the forests, and especially if it is in a wet or damp area, the eggs will stay in the moss and survive all summer long, year after year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, they will. If they are exposed to the sunlight, and exposed to the light, then you can get at them, but with Bt it is a biological insecticide, and it has to be ingested to be effective.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious problem. When I look back between 1966 and 1972 to an infestation of 12 million cubic metres of wood, salvaging only 20 per cent, that worries me. When I have companies like Abitibi and workers from Abitibi-Price coming to me and asking me to see if I can get Kruger to exchange some wood, see if I can get the Crown to exchange some wood so that they can keep cutting on the West Coast of this Province - Abitibi-Price is bringing in wood from the mainland every year now for the last three or four years and our own workers are sitting back doing absolutely nothing.

The minister said today, the paper companies will harvest this wood this year. Well, I say to the minister that the paper companies can't harvest the wood this year. They can't harvest it, Mr. Speaker. We have over-mature timber now in the Chain Lakes area. Kruger have over-mature stands that they are not cutting and it is accessible. It is perfectly, easily accessible and Abitibi-Price is out there crying to get wood to cut.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, when he approves the companies annual allowable cut, make sure that this particular problem is addressed. I say to the petitioners, Mr. Speaker - I don't know where they are from -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand that members are minded to get out before 5:00 p.m.


MR. ROBERTS: Members are minded to get out of the House before 5:00 p.m., and accordingly, I will not move the motion that we -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, I am prepared to trust him to the same extent he is prepared to trust me.

Your Honour, with that said, would you be good enough, please, to call Order 3(a) which is the Concurrence Debate on the report of the Resource Committee on the Estimates.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to have a few minutes to speak in the Concurrence Debate. As the Chairman of the Resource Committee, I didn't have an opportunity during the Estimates meetings themselves to question any of the ministers or to pursue any of the matters at hand, so I will just briefly touch on some of these today. I certainly do not expect, neither do I have any designs on using the full amount of time allocated to me.

I would like to recognize and thank the members of the Committee: first of all, the Vice-Chairman, the Member for Humber Valley, Members for Baie Verte - White Bay, Kilbride, Lewisporte, Harbour Main and Torngat Mountains. The Committee worked well and we were able to deal with the estimates for the departments which were assigned to us. These included, Tourism, Culture and Recreation; Industry, Trade and Technology; Natural Resources; and Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. As I said, we were able to deal with these expeditiously and I am pleased to report, as I did previously, that all the estimates for all departments passed without amendment.

Just briefly,under all four departments, if I may, Mr. Speaker? First of all, Tourism, Culture and Recreation - I think we all recognize, on both sides of the House, that tourism is certainly an area of tremendous potential for the Province. In recent years there is an increasing amount of interest, especially in the areas like Eco-Tourism, which is something relatively new to our Province but certainly, judging from the nature of our Province, an amount of unspoiled wilderness that we do have available to us, is an area that shows tremendous potential. So tourism generally is still largely under-exploited, and I think, down the road, we will be seeing more and more developments in that area. During the Estimate Debates for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, a large part of the evening was devoted to questioning on the John Cabot 500th Anniversary celebrations, with the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, having a list of questions that I am sure he must have spent two days previously compiling, and then, between himself and the minister, spent the rest of the evening boring us all out of our trees. We were waiting for them all to finish up so that we could get home.

MR. MANNING: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: Well, I say to the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, if he can get his good friend, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay, to concur with that opinion, then I will go along with it as well, but I am sure the member sitting next to you will have a different opinion.

In Industry, Trade and Technology there was a fair amount of discussion with regard to the EDGE legislation, which I think all members of this House recognize as being a progressive piece of legislation, and something we all feel will go a long way towards promoting and encouraging economic development in the Province. We all recognize, and it is a given, that if we are to deal with many of the problems that face us as a Province, especially at this point in our history, economic development is a matter that all of us must become involved in and something that we must be talking and dealing with on a daily basis.

Also, just a couple of points, under this department as well, since this is the department that has for the past number of years dealt with the development associations in this Province, and the funding for those organizations have come through the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology. We are at a period in our history where we are all aware that there is a major reorganization that has begun centered around the nineteen, I think they are now, economic zones in which all agencies involved in economic development will be restructured within these zones.

There is some concern that has been expressed by the development associations that as a part of this restructuring, they, as development agencies, may indeed disappear. Well, Mr. Speaker, as I have stated previously in this House, and have said to people and organizations who are involved in economic development in rural Newfoundland, that I can never see that happening. From my own experience over twenty years in working with development associations, and having had the privilege to serve at the provincial level for five years as President of the provincial body, I feel that the record speaks for itself, and the contribution that these development associations have made to the rural areas of the Province has been well documented.

Keep in mind that the development associations had their beginning at a time when the government of the day had made a definite and deliberate decision to try to change the face of Newfoundland forever by resettling the rural, remote areas of the Province and bringing them into the so-called growth centres. And really, Mr. Speaker, it was in reaction to this that the people in the rural areas stood up and said, no way, and as an alternative these development associations were developed with a view to trying to identify a future for the people who chose to continue to live in these areas.

As I said previously, Mr. Speaker, I think they have certainly met with a great deal of success. So, to the development associations I say again today, that really they should not feel that their future is threatened. At this stage in our history we need them now moreso than ever. Because of the crisis we are facing in rural Newfoundland, it is the development association who will ensure that the people living in rural areas will indeed have a future.

Mr. Speaker, under the Estimates for Natural Resources, the minister who is present in the House today, I am pleased to see, was very excited about the developments in that particular department, as I think we all are. The things we are hearing about the mineral find in Voisey Bay and the oil exploration in my own district of Port au Port.

These are all matters which are cause for excitement for all Newfoundlanders and they are a cause for hope as well. While we try, especially in my own area of the Province, with regard to the oil exploration, not to raise people's expectations unduly - because I think it would be very unfair and unkind to hold out the promise of a major development, only to have it shattered, down the road, when this was not realized. Having said that, the fact that there is a significant amount of money being spent in that area of the Province to pursue oil development is encouraging. We all hope - I'm sure everyone in this hon. House hopes - that the project will prove to be fruitful and will result in a major find of oil which will mark the beginning of a whole new industry for this Province.

Because the thing to keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, is that while the efforts are now centred on the tiny Port au Port Peninsula, indeed eyes are focused on the whole of the West Coast of the Province. Because there are a number of companies that hold leases all up and down the West Coast. And there is no doubt that if and when a major find is announced in Port au Port, there will be a flurry of activity in the whole of the West Coast, the like of which we haven't seen in this Province for some time. The minister is certainly justified in speaking on the activities within his department with a good deal of enthusiasm.

The other matter which did come up for some discussion and has been discussed here in the House again today - and the vice-chairman of our Committee has already spoken to it, and I'm sure he will use his time in this debate as well to reference it again - is with regard to the decision related to the spray program, the debate over the agent that can be best used to meet the need as it exists in this Province today. The only thing I can say to that is while we all recognize that the forestry is an extremely valuable resource - and I come from an area on the West Coast of the Province that appreciates that moreso than a lot of people in this House. With the mill in Stephenville being the backbone of the economy of Bay St. George, and the high-paying jobs there in the mill itself, and also the number of people who work in the forest cutting the wood, it is no doubt it is a major contributor. None of us want to take any chances or to have a callous attitude with regard to the protection of this resource.

Beyond that, I think there is a broader responsibility as well that this government has been trying to address. We do have a lot of people out there, a lot of the citizens of this Province, who rightly so have concerns with their own health and that of their children and grandchildren, and indeed future generations. Because it has been clearly documented - if we've learned anything from history, it is that when you are spraying chemicals you have to do so with a great deal of care and caution. Because we have found over the years - I think in particular of the applications of DDT. It was only last evening I was visiting a display down in one of the malls that they are doing in connection with wildlife week. There was a story there about the peregrine falcon as being an example of a species that was virtually wiped out. Really, it was only through intervention that it was saved and was able to recover. These are the kinds of things that we, as a government, acting responsibly, I think have to weigh all of these things.

It is never an easy decision to make. It is a balancing act. We certainly want to try to preserve our forests because they are so important to our economy, but we also want to make sure that we preserve this wonderful legacy, which is this Province of ours, that it can be here to be enjoyed by future generations.

I am really pleased with my friend sitting next to me. Because one of the things that I've noted over my years in things that I've read and things that I've seen, and one of the things I find that really impresses me about the aboriginal peoples of our country is the great respect they show for the natural resources, the ability to be able to get along and to live in balance with nature. I think it is too bad that over the years, and over the generations, our European forefathers haven't adopted that same kind of attitude. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that we certainly would have avoided a lot of the problems that we have seen in this Province, and indeed throughout this country.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: With regard to Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, if I could, Mr. Speaker, just briefly touch on a couple of things with regard to this as it relates to my own district.

I have in this House presented a petition a short time ago related to the Blue Beach Road, which is a fisheries access road. It is a road going to the only harbour that exists in my district. I want to just go on record as indicating that I'm hopeful that again this year, the Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture and the minister will see fit to make some money available to continue the further upgrading of that road.

As I said, it is the only access to a harbour, which again, as I should point out - I keep putting in plugs for development associations because they were the major catalyst behind getting this done. It is a harbour that was developed now about twelve, thirteen years ago. They were able to secure funding to get this done to open up a salt water pond to create an excellent small boat shelter. In order to get there right now the road to it, which is some nine kilometres long, at this time of the year is in a deplorable condition.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I remember a few years ago in travelling on the road, going down, about four kilometres down the road, here was a big capstan sitting in the middle of the road. The only way you could get across this section of the road was the fellows would get into it and get bogged down, and someone would get on the other end and hook the capstan on to their pick-up trucks and pull it the rest of the way through.

I suggest that is a hard way to have to try to make a living. When you are dealing with a business that is subsistence at best, and to have to go out - and you need a truck in order to be able to pursue that enterprise, and then to have to go and be confronted with a situation whereby in order to get to your place of work you have to hook a capstan onto it to pull it through.... That was the last time I had seen a capstan in operation. I certainly hope that on the Blue Beach Road we never see it again. We have during the past number of years been able to upgrade it somewhat, and I'm hoping, as I indicated, this upgrading is going to continue.

Also, with regard to my own area, I am pleased to just highlight as well for this hon. House that we have active in my district one of the first examples of an effort at aquaculture in this Province. For the last eleven years or so we have been actively involved in raising in an aquaculture environment, the giant scallop. One of the interesting things - and the hon. the Member for Humber Valley mentioned in his remarks the other day, he had a chance to sample the product out in Corner Brook. I'm sure he will attest to the fact it is an excellent product. The interesting thing is that most people in this Province are accustomed - when they think of scallop, they think of what we call the meat, or what is really the abductor muscle. This is the only thing that most people are used to.

This operation in Port au Port is promoting the total animal. It is marketed in shell and it is served in shell, much as is the mussel, so that if you buy the scallop, you buy the entire thing, and you eat the entire thing just as you would with a mussel. It is absolutely delicious. It is an example again of the type of thing that we have to be doing more of in rural Newfoundland to guarantee a future for our people.

In relation to this department, I'm also pleased to mention that we are getting very close now - it is a matter of days, I think - to signing the necessary contracts to begin a whole new operation at what was once the fish plant in my district that has been idle now for a number of years. We have been working now for about eight months trying to set up a plastics operation in co-operation with a major Canadian company. Now, that looks like it is about to become a reality any day. This will create some thirty full-time jobs for my district once it is announced, and beyond that, once we get the thing working and we demonstrate that it is a success, then I think the potential for expansion is virtually unlimited. I look forward to that with great anticipation.

I think, also, it points out that we do have people in the rural areas of our Province who are trying to look at the resources that are there and trying to maximize the use of them. If there is a building there, rather than looking at an empty and idle fish plant and seeing that as a scourge or a curse, they are seeing it as a potential, what can be done with it. I think what has to happen is we have to start changing our mind-set, try to identify the opportunities, and then pursue these opportunities to try to bring about development in the areas.

Under this department as well, one other matter that I would like to touch on briefly is with regard to the community pastures. We were advised during the hearings of this department that government is considering some major changes with regard to funding to community pastures. If you recall, there was an announcement made that a number of pastures last year would have their funding rescinded or cancelled. The understanding at the time was that some would be reinstated this year, but there was a bit of uncertainty.

We were advised during the Estimate meetings for this department that the plan now is, beyond this year there will be no support available to community pastures. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to indicate here - and there was some concern expressed during the estimates meetings - that this is something we need to look at carefully. In my area of the Province, in the short time that I have been there... Agriculture, again, in rural Newfoundland, is an area that has tremendous potential, and I think it is something that we need to be pursuing. In my own district, at one time, there was more farming going on years ago then there is right now, but the potential is there, the land base is there. What we need to do is to try to sell our young people on the idea that this can be a way of life. But I think the idea of closing out the pastures at a time when we are trying to promote agriculture generally might not be a wise move, so I am hoping it is something that between now and next year, government will reconsider.

Mr. Speaker, with those few brief remarks I will conclude, but before sitting down I would, if I may, like to take this opportunity as well just to say a couple of words in tribute to the Leader of the Opposition who today is concluding his tenure within this House. I was pleased at the remarks that he made today. He referenced the fact that politicians, as such, and the profession of politics, is not something that is held in high regard, and I agree with you totally. One thing that has struck me in the short time that I have been here - I came from a profession where over the years I was accorded a fair degree of respect, and it really struck me, in the short time I have been here, that if you are a politician you are some kind of a low-life. The media are constantly after you. They downplay what you - really, we are portrayed as being self-serving. Really, the only thing that we want to do is look after ourselves, and I think that is regrettable. I think it is, as the hon. member mentioned today, an honourable profession, but I also recognize and think that maybe one of the reasons it has become what it is now recognized as, is that each of us, in our own way, our own small way here within the House and outside, contribute to that in the way that we, ourselves, behave.

I would like to say to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, certainly in the short time I have seen him in operation here in the House, I think he has made a point to conduct himself with dignity at all times and, in that way, I think, he has brought a level of recognition to the profession, and for that I commend him and I thank him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SMITH: I am taking a page from your book, I say to the hon. member. He says, `You're not still talking'. He is getting some of it back now that he gave to me the other night.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, with those few brief remarks I will conclude, and I thank hon. members for their attention.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to make a few comments on the Estimates Committees, especially the one today that the minister just tabled now on the Resource Estimates that we finished off on Monday morning. We did most of them last week, and finished them off on Monday morning with the Minister responsible for Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, time doesn't permit me to comment fairly on every heading on every department. It is very interesting. The resource sector of the estimates of the departments of government are very, very interesting. There is always something new, and there is no shortage of questions, that's for sure.

In case the member has to leave, I would like to comment on the last estimates, the one on Fisheries, Food and Agriculture. Now, the minister responsible for that department now should know better than anybody else in this House or this Province - I don't know about better because, as far as I am concerned, a lot of things that he says, he thinks he knows, and that is as far as it goes. He is doing things, or he has certainly condoned things, in the past number of years, and now since he has become minister is starting to put certain things in place that are going to be detrimental to the agricultural industry in this Province - no question. And if I had the time to sit down and debate with him, I could show him all kinds of cases where he is - for instance, his task force on agriculture that he spent so much money and so much time on, some of the recommendations he made in there. Previous to becoming a minister he stood by and watched them being closed down. For instance, the swine station in Pynn's Brook, he recommended that that not close down, that there would be certain adjustments made. We had an export market there. We were the only place in the world that had a disease-free animal that would be exported to other countries. We have the dairy industry in Canada exporting holsteins and ayrshires all over the world, Cuba right on down - Cuba and even down now in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Speaker, exporting this particular dairy product that will be of benefit to the nation and benefit to the Province as a whole.

The minister said the other day - I questioned him on why there was no heading in the Estimates on pastures? He said it was covered up -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: - under another heading, a measly $100,000. Last year he said he was going to close the pastures that were not viable in the Province. They weren't viable so he was going to close them. I asked him a question the other morning - there is nothing in the Budget on it, there is nothing in a heading on it. I asked him would the price per animal unit be the same this year? He said, `yes.' Then, I asked him another question pertaining to pastures and he told me that this is the last year; they are going to close out or privatize the pastures in the Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I will speak of the pasture that I know best, that is, the one in Cormack. There are hundreds of animals units. The Member for Port au Port just mentioned a very important point, out in Port au Port, sheep and lambs were always a big factor out there, always was a growth industry. Just about everybody kept so many. Even now, I think there is a very large number of sheep and lambs on the Port au Port Peninsula right down through the peninsula. But those pastures, the minister should not forget that those pastures - in the beef industry, anybody who is raising two or three head of beef, anybody who has twenty-five or thirty sheep, raise lambs and kill them for themselves and sell them locally and so on, this was a great way for individuals to get into the industry. Little by little, they get so many animals, they put them up in the summertime, they pay x number of dollars per head and then they probably graduate into - until they get their land ready.

There are places in this Province where there is just forest. Everybody figures and I think the minister figures that now if they give you fifty acres of land, they are giving you a farm. They are giving you nothing. They are giving you a piece of forest or a piece of land in this Province out of which you have to cut a farm, out of which you have to cultivate a farm, out of which you have to cultivate it to the point of spending thousands and thousands of dollars per hectare or per acre to make that land viable.

The minister has also, this year, lowered the limestone grant from thirty-two dollars a ton down to twenty-five. Well, I say to members opposite and I would say to the minister if he were here today, that should be put down to nine dollars or ten dollars per ton because that is all it cost the government in the first place, Mr. Speaker. When the contract was let and the tender was let some six or seven years ago, Havelock Lime, got it, crushed it and now the government is charging three times and, in some cases, four times the amount that it took to crush that material. And this is one of the basic needs for any agricultural piece of land in this Province. Because of the high acidity in the soil in this Province, because of the high acidity in the new lands that we are just clearing, this is a very important factor. If you don't have limestone in the soil, you might as well forget putting fertilizer on it. I see people putting fertilizer on, Mr. Speaker, and they wonder why the crop won't grow. The reason it doesn't grow is because of the high acidity in the soil - that's why it won't grow.

We have places even in my area along the Humber River where we have soil samples ranging under the Canada Soil Land Management Act anywhere from one to seven, which is some of the best in Canada, yet, there are areas in those fields that are going to take seven tons of lime per acre to make it viable and to make it any good for growing any kind of a crop. Yet, we have the new minister coming in and charging $25 to $32 a ton for lime, the very basic need that anybody must have in order to grow a crop in this Province. So I say to members opposite, get after the new `Bud' and make sure that some of those things are brought before Cabinet and not just done away with by the minister and the officials in his department.

Wildlife, Mr. Speaker, is another interesting section. The minister said there were ten or twelve areas already assessed in the Province; the counts were done, they looked fairly good, both moose and caribou areas of the Province - I don't know what the areas are, the minister couldn't tell us at the time, but they looked fairly good. And hopefully, there may be - if there is not an increase in licenses, Mr. Speaker, well then, maybe there won't be a decrease, but some of the areas they have already done look really good.

The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, that's right, we had the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation on - we just referenced the Wildlife to him because now it is over in - but part of his department has to do with the outfitters. And I was asking him about the percentages last year for outfitters, that the 10 per cent rule - I call it the 10 per cent rule - and if it was still in effect that 10 per cent of all wildlife in the Province, would be allocated for outfitters, and I don't think there is going to be any reduction this year. When the minister speaks to this particular subject, maybe he will be able to confirm that there will be no cuts to the outfitters in the Province this year and any licenses not used by outfitters, Mr. Speaker, should be taken back from them. Any licenses not utilized by outfitters in this Province should be taken back and given to someone who will utilize them.

I don't believe in any outfitter or any business person in this Province sitting on licenses forever-and-a-day, just to have them for resale value. As far as I am concerned, they should be taken away and given to someone who is going to utilize them. It is a very important source of revenue for the Province, all new money, all good money coming in from outside the Province and, Mr. Speaker, I think last year was the first movement made with regard to this particular problem. I think some of the licenses were reallocated -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) year before.

MR. WOODFORD: The year before, a couple of years ago, but I know it was the last couple of years, yes, when the former minister was in that particular department.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well, we talked about it, that's right. At one of the estimates meetings we did talk about that allocation and as far as I am concerned it was an excellent move. And if it can be identified there is going to be an increase in certain herds - and there certainly will be in the caribou herds in certain areas, I know that for a fact. So this will be a new opportunity for outfitters to get new licenses in the future, therefore bringing in extra revenues to the Province - no doubt about it, I can identify three or four areas now where that can be done.

The member mentioned the Hunt Oil on the West Coast of the Province, a very encouraging move and a very encouraging sign that it might lead to something else. I hope so, because two of the other permits that were allocated and given out on the West Coast of the Province is in the Deer Lake area, two of the other permits now are held by a company in the Province just at the back of Deer Lake and hopefully - well, under the new legislation now, the new mining legislation, they have to exercise their options and do something with it within five years which, as far as I am concerned, was another excellent move. Before that, people would get permits, people would stake claims, and sit on them in perpetuity, doing absolutely nothing with them.

Now, they have to spend money, and that brings me to the Voisey Bay find, Mr. Speaker. The Voisey Bay find - under the new legislation now, anybody who stakes a claim, goes in and pays $50.00 for a claim, I think they have to spend at least $250 on each claim within the next year, so, if that is the case, that means there are going to be millions and millions of dollars spent this year in Voisey Bay alone. The 48,000 claim stakes so far translates into a lot of dollars for this Province. And not only that, I was reading just the other day that that find, at first, was three kilometres long, and now, with some aerial and geophysical work, it is identified to be something like seven kilometres long.

Mr. Speaker, that, to me, is a plus for the Province, a plus for the mining industry, and possibly could be one of the biggest cobalt finds in the world, let alone Canada. Hopefully, we can get into production fairly soon in that particular area and provide jobs for each and every one of us. They have to come to an agreement with the native people in that area and that should be one of the first and foremost job requirements and initiatives. Whatever way you want to put it, that should be one of the first things now to be done, to sit down with the Native peoples in the area and come to some kind of land agreement, an agreement on the rights in that area as it pertains to mining and other possible finds in that area.

Tourism - we talked about the Marble Mountain facility in Corner Brook. They are still skiing and they will be skiing this weekend, and when I left on Monday, it appeared they could be skiing until the end of June, by the look of the snow on Marble Mountain and in other areas of the West Coast of the Province. It is a very worthwhile project, started by the former Tory government, probably the former minister before the Leader of the Opposition. That was one thing that this Administration had done, they identified something good, they sort of hooked onto it, and I must say, it is creating a lot of jobs and a lot of potential on the West Coast of the Province.

The taxi drivers in Deer Lake and Corner Brook, and the rent-a-car companies in Corner Brook do not have a car in the wintertime. You have to phone ahead and make sure you have your reservations made if you are going to get a car in Deer Lake or anywhere on the West Coast of the Province in the wintertime.

The golf course that was opened last year - I am sure our Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, before this summer is over, will try out that golf course in Deer Lake. He is an expert on golf and other things pertaining to golf, and he will, I am sure, avail of the opportunity to have a shot at the golf course in Deer Lake. Pardon the pun, Mr. Speaker. Some day when he comes in, instead of going back on the flight at 5:00 or 6:00 o'clock he is going to stay overnight and he will go up and have a few rounds of golf.

I must say, you would not believe what that did to the area last year with regard to people coming and staying an extra night or an extra couple of days. You wouldn't believe it - I mean, the whole retail and service industry sector there. I am sure there are more eating establishments in Deer Lake than - well, I can't say more than in the City of St. John's, but more establishments than in any town comparable to its size in this Province or anywhere else in Canada. I have never seen the like of it.

The Deer Lake Motel is there, the Irving Big Stop is there, one of the biggest in Canada. You have a pizza place there now just opened, a Tim Horton's just opened, Cozy Comfort just opened, you can go on and on, and on, so they must be doing something right.

AN HON. MEMBER: They go on and on, and on.

MR. WOODFORD: No, no. They are stopping there. The new piece of road in Corner Brook may have had an effect on it - I can't fault the minister for that; I would probably have to pat him on the back. They are stopping in Deer Lake. The transportation sector, the airport in Deer Lake - thirty-four flights a day now going out of the airport in Gander. In the mornings now -

AN HON. MEMBER: They were going to close it up a few years ago.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, they were going to close it up.

In the mornings now - we couldn't get off the ramp on Monday morning. The reason was that there were four flights circling overhead waiting for permission to land. What a wonderful announcement. What a wonderful thing, when you walk into a terminal and that is what the announcements are all about, four flights circling overhead, waiting to land, six on the runway; we have to try to clear them out before other flights come in.

Now the Federal Government is talking about privatizing it. First, they were going to give the Province the first option on airports; second, they were going to go to municipalities. Municipalities can't touch them under the Municipalities Act. There is no law, and there is no clause there to protect them or allow them to do it. Thirdly, they were going to local authorities. That is going to be a tricky subject, because a lot of people will not put their necks on the line to run a business such as an airport. Last, they will go to the private sector. The private sector will be last, but the problem is, they don't want any profits from the airports, absolutely none, to go to an individual. They want everything that comes into an airport rolled back into the system, and that is where, I suppose, they are coming from on the first three options.

I would be remiss if I didn't speak about forestry. When we discussed the Kruger legislation last Fall in the House, about the $15 million for Kruger - $7.5 million last year, and $7.5 million this upcoming year - that is what the understanding was, $7.5 million each year for the x number of acres of land that would revert to the Crown. I found out during the estimates - and I must say, the minister and his staff were very forthright in their answers as they pertained to every department - that they could give them the $15 million last year. I don't mind that. It is done; what is the difference? It gave them a little boost.

I also found out that the newsprint industry has enjoyed a 40 per cent increase in the last year. I also found out that there was something like 57 million board feet of lumber produced in this Province last year. I have to give credit to the former Minister of Forestry for part of that, because he recognized the access roads in this Province that were needed to get in to some of the timber that I would say Kruger weren't going to cut, and Abitibi weren't going to cut, so he put it in the Chouse Brook one. He kept on doing it, although it was in a Tory district, I say to the Member for Port de Grave, and he did the Bridgers Pond one.

The Bridgers Pond one now, I say to the minister, there is an individual in that area now putting in a new sawmill - I think you know who I am talking about - between $500,000 and $700,000. He has 1.2 million board feet of logs on the ground now, people cutting them all winter long and bringing them in, and today he could saw 10 million board feet and sell it. The best prices we had for lumber, especially 2 x 4 studs, was last year, and I would say it is going to continue on this year for awhile, so that is going to increase to 60 million or 65 million board feet.

One word of caution, I think I mentioned this at the estimates committee to the minister responsible for forestry, when they approve the annual allowable cut this year for companies in the Province, is to pay specific attention to some of the over-matured stands. The minister probably has to change that a little bit because of the fact of the defoliation and the infestation of the looper, but if that is the case, then I think we should make a special effort.

I talked to the Member for Stephenville the other day, and the minister as well - he knows exactly what I am talking about - about some of the concerns of the cutters in that particular area who would like to have some wood to cut for Abitibi-Price. If we have an over-matured stand in the Chain Lakes area, or if we have a looper-infested stand in that particular area, then I think there should be some allocation or some arrangement made with Abitibi, for Abitibi to get some of that wood. Abitibi has some serious problems.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: The what?

AN HON. MEMBER: Bumblebees.

MR. WOODFORD: Bumblebees.

Mr. Speaker, I am very serious about the allocations. The over-mature stands - when we started the access roads into the Chouse Brook area some years ago, that was an over-mature stand, really, and the agreement was with Kruger to take 60-40, first call on saw logs. We should be utilizing every thing in a log, every knot, every limb, every slab, every bit of sawdust, every piece of shavings that comes off of that log; all of it should be utilized. That is what will happen with this new mill in the Cormack area now. He is putting in a debarking system, he is putting in a chipper, some of the sawdust will go the farms, some of the shavings will go to the poultry producers in the area, and the rest will be going to Abitibi-Price in Stephenville. Everything will be utilized.

No stick of wood should be taken out of the woods, should be harvested in this Province, if there is any way of doing it, unless there is total utilization of the product. Some of the paper companies - not some, well, there are only two, really, Abitibi-Price and Kruger -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: For years - and they are still doing it. The hypocritical thing that I find about it is we have ATV regulations in, and we have Kruger and Abitibi with four-wheelers, with timber-jacks, with slashers, going all over the country. You go in hunting in the Fall or you go in in the summertime or whatever and there are holes, the track - the height of those timber jack tires. Yet, if a person goes in the woods and kills a moose, he can't take his trike to cross the bog to bring it out. He can't even retrieve it. It is ludicrous! Just a hundred feet to the side and a hundred feet that way, the timber-jacks and slashers are going back and forth just like traffic in Toronto or New York. It doesn't make sense to me, not a bit of sense in the world. Something is wrong when we have this type of thing happening.

The minister and his staff have moved fairly fast, as far as I am concerned - the Minister of Natural Resources, I'm talking about, responsible for Crown lands also - in making sure that the lands that reverted to the Crown with the new legislation last Fall, by the end of May or the first week in June, will all be logged. Then, the people of the Province will be able to put in an application for some of the lands they couldn't apply for before.

Not only that, we have a certain number of people in the Province referred to as illegal - always referred to as illegals. I don't know but the connotations that - I'm not as concerned about that as some other people, but still, I suppose, it is there. That is one of the other good things that will be rectified when all those particular parcels of land are logged. They will be able to go out. The Crown will be able to accept applications; it will be able to give ownership to those properties, if they are cabins or if they are homes, or whatever they might be, in and around this Province of ours.

Another sector is the Farm Loan Board. The Farm Loan Board now is going to be looked after by ITT through Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. It was a concern at first for me, because I didn't want anybody who wasn't associated with the agricultural industry or didn't know something about the agricultural industry, making a decision on whether someone should get a loan for agriculture in this Province. The minister sort of allayed my fears on that in saying that some of the staff from the agricultural sector will be transferred to Enterprise Newfoundland to look after some of the applications as it pertains to agriculture.

The other good thing about it was that before there was sort of a limit I think of $2.6 million last year, $2.7 million, for the agricultural loan board in the Province. Now, there will not be a limit. That means that anybody who wants to do something with respect to agriculture in the Province will be able to make an application, and based on its merits, at least they will be given the opportunity to access a loan to produce their own business.


MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I think I'm under a little bit of pressure here to do something and produce (inaudible).

Mr. Speaker, I think I am under a little bit of pressure here to sort of sit down.

MR. ROBERTS: Hear, hear! Carried!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would have liked to take up my half hour but my colleagues all want to speak for half an hour and it wouldn't be right for me to stand here and try to hog the time.

Having said that, I would like to say to the Chairman of the Resource Committee that he did an excellent job, as far as I am concerned, in the carrying out of his duties, as did the other members on the committee. We had really good questions. The ministers responsible for those departments, Mr. Speaker, were forthright in their answers, and if they didn't have them then, they had them for us after, and that's the way it should be.

I always found in those Estimates Committees, if you try to be reasonable and constructive, that you will always get the answers you want. If you have a subject you want to talk about, make sure you know your subject and make sure you have the answer to it before you ask, really, unless it has something to do with a particular department, such as Natural Resources, and especially as you deal with wildlife and so on.

Having made those few short comments, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the time.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I also rise with a few brief comments, as my colleague just said, and also the Member for Port au Port. Of course he made reference to my colleague here for St. Mary's - The Capes, on how brief he was at one of our meetings. Now, of course, after listening to a few people on brief comments, I guess mine will be seen as brief too. I will try to keep it brief, Mr. Speaker, but I do have to make a couple of comments.

First of all, I enjoyed being on that particular Committee. This is the fourth time now I have sat on that Committee over the last couple of years, and I think that the Committee is one of the better ones, Mr. Speaker, headed up by the Member for Port au Port as the Chairman, and the Member for Humber Valley as Vice-Chairman. We all seem to co-operate very well and we get some good, interesting questions there, Mr. Speaker, especially on such interesting topics that range from Tourism to Industry, Trade and Technology, Fisheries and then, of course, Forestry.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the one which I want to make the first, few comments on is Tourism. If there is one particular industry in this Province where I think we have just barely scratched the surface and just started to develop, it is Tourism. I also believe that it has the potential for the greatest development in the Province. So, Mr. Speaker, when we met in the committee on Tourism in particular, the minister was there and he supplied us with some answers to questions which we had asked. I must say it was encouraging to hear the minister being enthusiastic about the Tourism potential in the Province because I believe that we are on the verge - pardon the pun - of a break through in tourism in this Province, mostly due, Mr. Speaker, to timing.

What I mean by that, Mr. Speaker, is - of course, the Cabot celebrations are about to come up. I also make reference to the 1999 games that are going to be held in Corner Brook and, of course, that same year will mark the 50th Anniversary of Confederation for Newfoundland. In particular, the 1999 Canada Games in Corner Brook will be a great celebration for this Province, with the culmination of both the 50th Anniversary of Confederation and also, of course, bringing the Canada Games, a prestigious event to Newfoundland.

With that year, plus the Cabot celebrations year, in 1997, Tourism, because of that, will see, I think, a great increase in this Province, because we will be put on the map for Tourism in the world. So I think that those two events, in particular, are going to be a great boost to the tourism industry in this Province.

I think that over the last couple of years, as the minister said in some of our meetings, I guess we have set the groundwork so that when those two events take place we will have in place, in this Province, parts of tourism whereby, hopefully, when the people of the world come to visit, we will be able to cater to those people who come to visit this great Province. I believe, Mr. Speaker, when we see the Matthew sail across the Atlantic and finally dock in Newfoundland on that day in 1997, the whole world will be watching and it is going to be very, very important that the tourism department and this Province, I guess as a whole, are ready and prepared to show people, and show the world, that we can be good hosts. We have the best resource there is and that's our people when we talk about tourism. We have all the natural attributes, of course, the beauty and the small settlements in Newfoundland and all the things that come naturally to Newfoundlanders.

Now what we have to do, what the government has to prepare for and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, is now that we have all those natural things to show off, Mr. Speaker, including our people, the scenery of Newfoundland and so on, we have to be sure that we are prepared to cater to the world when they come visit us in '97 and again of course in 1999 when the spotlight will be on Newfoundland for the second time. So, Mr. Speaker, tourism has a great potential.

Somebody mentioned earlier that the minister has a great liking for golf and I am glad to hear that because I do too. To be honest with you, I know from all reports on sports, if you read up on it, it is one of the fastest growing participation sports in the world. As a matter of fact it is increasing two-fold in Newfoundland every year. It is a great leisure sport where we can take part as friends and family and so on. Of course, it is the best thing in Newfoundlanders as we are looking to the great outdoors again. Some people think that golf is boring but actually a lot of people who finally experience it, come to like it very much, Mr. Speaker. Right now in the world the statistic is very simple: more people participate in golf than any other sport in the world.

Mr. Speaker, the minister did mention that there is potential for development of other golf courses in the Province to take advantage of the beautiful scenery in the different parts of the Province that could actually develop golf courses, and be unique to each part of the Province. There is some good news that there are some people interested in building golf courses around the Province besides the government looking into it themselves. I know there is some private interest for golf in the Province.

That enhances tourism, Mr. Speaker and, believe it or not, a lot of families who take their vacations often look to see if there are golf courses in the area or if there is salmon fishing in the area and different things like that. So all of these things enhance and promote tourism and are a reason for coming here. So beside coming to see the natural beauty of the Province and coming to meet the people and see the outports and the beauty of Newfoundland, if there are things such as golf, skiing and those types of things, then of course that all enhances tourism, Mr. Speaker. I tell the minister as I did in committee, that I look forward to hearing some encouraging news about golf and that type of development.

Mr. Speaker, I can't let it go without mentioning skiing which seems to be the new craze in Newfoundland. As a matter of fact, Marble Mountain right now is being seen as a world resort, and with the development over this year and what is coming in the next year, and also the addition of a golf course, by the way, at Marble Mountain, the Marble Mountain Centre will be seen as a world class resort. That is something that every Newfoundlander, every one of us, should be very proud of.

Remember also - I would be remiss if I didn't say in the same light that the development of Copper Creek Mountain in Baie Verte this year was truly, truly a success story, Mr. Speaker, and of course the minister knows that. With a combination of help from both the provincial and federal governments, it was a success story, and it was a success story because it took community involvement. What happened with Copper Creek is an example for anywhere in the Province. They looked at an idea and got the community involved. People actually came out and volunteered to cut the trees and cut the brush. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I was on the mountain myself and helped out with that, and so did the whole community. When they asked for people to contribute by buying up a co-op membership of $200 in the town, the first person to sign, Mr. Speaker, was a seventy-eight year old lady who gave the donation of $200 to become a member of the co-op Copper Creek Mountain out there; and her response was, `Anything that can help the community, I am all for it.' This is a senior citizen who contributed to that particular project. It just shows you the spirit of the community and the surrounding community because, Mr. Speaker, it is not a Baie Verte project. The truth is it is a project of twenty-one communities on the peninsula. People from surrounding areas all came in to contribute to that type of thing.

Mr. Speaker, as far as tourism goes, maybe that is the way a lot of regions of the Province should look at it. Look around yourselves, at what you have in your own areas. That is the message that I think the minister has said he would like to get out to people: look around your own area of the Province, see what you can develop as it relates to tourism, the salmon rivers, the boat tours, the iceberg watching, the whale watching. That is what people want to come to Newfoundland to see, Mr. Speaker. So anything that we can add to that would be an improvement, and I think we are ready to showcase all of that to the world in '97 and again in 1999 when we host the Canada Games. So it is a great opportunity for us.

Tourism is a bright spot, and I say to the minister, good luck as far as that goes. Anybody in the House, I'm sure, is going to encourage and promote tourism to this Province as it is good for everybody in the Province. That is the positive side. Of course now I won't give any negatives on the tourism side because I think there are too many positives that overshadow the negatives. My caution to the minister and to the government is, just pay close attention to preparing for when we start to host these major events so that we have all the groundwork done, and make sure that it is done properly and done right.

The second thing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to just make a brief comment on - I'm really sorry, but out of all the Committee meetings I only missed one, and I could not help that, but I did miss when the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was there. I had some questions in that particular portfolio but I could not attend that meeting, but just a couple of comments on the EDGE program.

We all hope as Newfoundlanders that the EDGE program will be positive for this Province. Mr. Speaker, there is nobody in this House and there is nobody in this Province who doesn't hope that. The one word of caution I will give is that a lot of people in this Province - and most of the people I refer to are the small business people already in this Province, Newfoundlanders who have small businesses of three, four, five and six employees. These people want to make sure that they don't fall through the cracks, and that if they are struggling through some tough economic times there is also help for them to get through a hard struggle, so that they can survive and keep these small businesses alive.

I don't remember the exact statistic, Mr. Speaker, but I know that in the area of 60 per cent of the employees of this Province come from small businesses, so it is not something that we should overlook very quickly. Yes, the EDGE program will help new businesses to develop in this Province, but it will also give at least an opportunity for businesses to come in from outside and establish here in this Province, like the iceberg vodka and so on. Let's be very careful that there are not loopholes or ways for companies to abuse the EDGE and come into this Province and leave it in a mess. We have to make sure that we look at our own small businesses and that we can do something for those people who have struggled through some tough times in this Province, and through, of course, the diversity of the fisheries crisis. These people also need some help.

That is the word of caution to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. EDGE is great, it sounds good, we promote it, we are glad for it, we hope it is positive, but be very, very careful, Mr. Speaker, that we don't let our own slip away as we try to develop businesses that come in from outside. Let's not let our own people here at home fall through the cracks.

The third one I just want to mention a few things on is the fisheries. I sat in on that meeting for three hours and we had quite a lively discussion with the minister. There are a lot of concerns about the fishery, Mr. Speaker, and we could speak here all day on that particular one. I can tell you that as far as it pertains to the federal, as we watch that unfold, the minister should be very aware too of what is happening in our own Province. We refer to that as the TAGS appeals and how they are let go.

Fisheries, of course, is a concern to everybody, and too much to go into, obviously, but we have some grave concerns on what is happening. We hope that the whole turbot show right now is not just a show. I know the intentions are right, and I hope our federal minister keeps on, and I hope that it is not just a show of propaganda. I hope that is not the real truth behind this. I'm sure we all hope that, and that it is not a show for the media, that there are some teeth really, and some clout behind this whole activity that we see in front of us right now. I know that the federal minister Mr. Tobin's intentions are in the right direction. We just hope that there is a follow-up and that something really true can come out of this particular thing.

Mr. Speaker, the last of the four meetings I wanted to make comments on, and I saved that one in particular for last, is the forestry. I said it in the last few days, and I'm going to say it again now, and I hope it is never, ever forgotten, Mr. Speaker, the forest industry in this Province is at a critical, critical stage. I truly believe that. From all the reading, from all the discussions, including discussions with officials from the Department of Natural Resources in this Province, from the people who worked in the Canadian Forest Service centre here in this Province, and everything else, the forest industry in this Province is critical, critical, Mr. Speaker.

I tell you, and I say to the minister here today, that I hope - I know the minister said he has ongoing discussions with the federal department as far as it relates to the final end to the federal agreement. Mr. Speaker, I hope the minister and his government keep that up, and you are tenacious when you go to your federal counterparts and say that the forest industry needs this agreement, it needs the centre here in this Province, and make them realize - I hope they realize - that they put the forestry in the front lines, and not on the back burners.

Mr. Speaker, with those few brief remarks - I will say that I am glad the Leader in back in the House. I would like to conclude by saying this. Throughout the day, as we watched the tribute to our Leader - we got it from all the veterans in the House of Assembly, the people who knew him for thirty-one years, who knew him since 1969 and so on - all I could do is think about the people in the back benches here who are new to this profession, shall we say, and, of course, the newer members on the opposite side. I thought it would be nice if one of the rookies could say just a couple of words, and that is what I will end with, just a couple of words to the Leader.

I am glad he came back into the House so I could say it while he was here.

MR. SIMMS: I got your note to come down.

MR. SHELLEY: He says he got my note to come down. I am glad he did.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the newer members -


MR. SHELLEY: We will stay away from that silliness.

On behalf of the newer members, both on this side and on the other side of the House, I would like to say to the Leader, to Len Simms, that I have certainly enjoyed the last - well, it is barely two years now that we worked with him. From the new perspective, I guess you could say, we have learned a lot, and we actually enjoyed it, although it seems so doom and gloom a lot of times in this particular profession, I guess you could say. It is too bad the veterans can't listen like we sat back and listened to them, but I guess that is normal, isn't it?

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the newer members here, we would like to thank our Leader. It has been a learning experience. Things have gone through the House, and in meetings, and in learning to deal with the problems that come up to you day by day by day. I was delighted to serve this amount of time with the Leader, and I wish him well in his endeavours. I know that he has a lot of spunk left, and I am sure that whatever he takes on in his new life after politics, it will be exciting and encouraging, and I wish him and his family all the best, and I know that good luck, hopefully, will follow him in his new endeavours.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, my friend.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Is it the pleasure of the House to concur in the Estimates of the Resource Committee?

On motion, Report of the Resource Estimates Committee, carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the work with respect to the Estimates. The rest of the finance and supply procedure will have to await the happy day when we finish the Member for Mount Pearl's speech and deal with the rest of the Budget debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from Grand Bank, that concludes the dealings by the House and our committees with respect to the Estimates in themselves. We will still have the supply procedure to go through, but I have to tell my friend, if he can understand the supply procedure he is one step ahead of me. I have been in the House for a little while, and I have never understood it one way or the other, but fortunately there is a book prepared by the officers at the Table which, as long as we follow it, seems to work, so that is what we will do. What the book says is: We don't do anything more today, and when we come back in a couple of weeks we will deal with the Budget debate.

Before the House adjourns, maybe I could be permitted - I didn't want to get into the debate earlier today when my friend from Grand Falls was hearing his obituaries, and I am glad that he would be able to use Mark Twain's famous line that, "The reports of my death are somewhat premature and greatly exaggerated...", but I know he will not mind me saying a word or two, because I was in the House, I had the good fortune to be here when he came, and I had the good fortune to be here when he left, and had the good fortune to be out of it for a period while he was here.

I would only say two or three things to him, because he and I have crossed swords in a number of ways during his time in the Chair, during his time sitting on the Treasury benches, and during his time sitting in the Opposition benches. I join with those who wished him well. I also want to say two things to him, first of all, I have no doubt he would say that if he had known the tributes were going to be as fulsome and as genuine as they are he would have arranged to leave the House some considerable time ago, and, secondly, as one who has left the House, like him voluntarily - many leave this House involuntarily, but I left the House voluntarily as he is leaving the House the voluntarily - there is life after politics. I can assure him of that, and he should be careful in case a call comes again.

I will leave it at that, but I will tell him that my experience was that leaving the House can be an entry into a considerably desirable life, and there is life after politics. I want to wish him well and I know I speak for all the members on both sides. He has left his mark on this House and on public life in this Province, and he should happily be judged by it, and I am sure the judgement will be a very favourable one and we wish him all joy in the future.

MR. MANNING: Would you say -

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend for St. Mary's - The Capes that when he has been in this House a little while, an unlikely event in his case, I realize, he will realize that sometimes the less said the better, and he will follow that. My friend for St. Mary's - The Capes, really is almost too inviting a target, so I should not be tempted by it.

My friend for Grand Falls agrees that he and I, too, were rookies but that was a 114 years ago. He did not come in as a rookie in fact, nor did I. He had spent a number of years, as I recollect, working closely with Mr. Lundrigan who was the first person elected as the member for Grand Falls.

AN HON. MEMBER: He worked with Frank Moores.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I am sure anybody worked with Frank Moores. Whatever his association with Frank I am not sure it was a working relationship, at least on Frank's side. I have no doubt it was enjoyable as well.

Your Honour, I am only trying to adjourn the House. I do not know why they are harassing me and attacking me from all sides.

MR. TOBIN: Happy Easter. Happy Easter.

AN HON. MEMBER: Put on your rabbit ears.

MR. ROBERTS: I have some difficulty, as I said the other day, seeing my friend for Burin - Placentia West wearing a little fluffy cottontail and bunny ears. I really have some difficulty. I know he has laid a number of eggs in this House from time to time, but I really have difficulty seeing him in a bunny tail.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) hop all night (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my hon. friend opposite that he should not count his chickens before they are hatched as he often does.

Your Honour, I really am trying very hard to adjourn the House.

The motion will be that when the House adjourns it stands adjourned until Monday May 8, 1995, or earlier at the call of the Chair, and the Speaker, or in his absence from the Province, the Deputy Speaker, may give notice and thereupon the House shall be at the time and date stated by the notice of the proposed sitting.

There is certainly no thought to bring the House back before May 8. The motion is simply there in the unlikely event that something would happen that the government would be minded to call together the House.

MR. TOBIN: Do you want to take a wager on who the new leader will be?

MR. ROBERTS: Any wagers I would make as to whom the new leader would be are not as great as those that the gentleman for Burin - Placentia West has made, because if things go the wrong way for him on the 28th or 29th he will pay a forfeit, I suspect. He will be in the fourth row in a three-row House, I say to my friend.

Your Honour, I move that this House to now adjourn until Monday, May 8 at two o'clock.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until Monday, May 8 at 2:00 p.m.