May 15, 1995              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLII  No. 24

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 Level I students from Queen Elizabeth Regional High School in Foxtrap, accompanied by their teachers, Mrs. House and Ms. Penney.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MS. VERGE: In response to my questions last week the Premier essentially said that it was okay to break the law because in doing so the government got the best deal for the taxpayers. The Premier tried to say that even if the government pays the approximately $3 million in damages ordered by the Supreme Court the taxpayers will still come out ahead.

Premier, are you prepared to substantiate your preposterous claim? Will you commission an independent analysis by a reputable firm comparing the Trans City deal, your deal, with all the alternatives that were available to the government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me correct the two misstatements in the comments of the Leader of the Opposition. First I did not say it was okay to break the law. The breaking of the law allegation is hers and not mine. I do not approve of breaking the law. I maintain that what the government did, did not break the law, but that however is a matter that is before the Court of Appeal so I will say no more about that.

Secondly, the court did not order the payment of $3 million damages. The court ordered damages to be assessed. The proponents, I believe, have claimed $3 million. I think that is the circumstance. There may be no order at all as to damages. We have to wait and see, so for the Leader of the Opposition to put the questions in this way is totally incorrect.

What I did say, Mr. Speaker, was that even if there were damages it may well be that the Province still got a better deal. Even if that were the case it may well be and the Minster of Finance has the facts and figures that establishes that.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

It was the Supreme Court which said the government broke the law, and the Supreme Court ordered damages to be assessed. The Premier is correct, when the assessment is done the amount could be different from $3 million. It could be more than $3 million and it could be less than $3 million, $3 million is the estimate.

Now, I would like to ask the Premier, again: will he subject his claim that the taxpayers got the best deal to an independent assessment? Now Premier, I am not asking for another whitewash by the fugitive from justice sitting to your left. I am asking for the government to commission an independent firm, a reputable firm, to do a thorough cost benefit analysis, and specifically to compare the Trans City deal with all the alternatives that were available to the government, including the opportunities to do deals with other bidders and of course the opportunity the government had to self-finance. Will the Premier commission such an independent study?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in the course of the questions that have gone on over the last several years, the information has been tabled. All of the financial information has been tabled. The Leader of the Opposition has, at her disposal, all of the financial information about these projects that were being considered. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is all open, it has all been presented. The hon. Leader of the Opposition has it, the press has it, the people in the Province, through the media, has it. Everything has been tabled in the House. If the hon. Leader of the Opposition wants to take that information to one of her friends who do these sorts of financial analyses and do the analysis, she is perfectly free to do so, Mr. Speaker. We have been very open about this and have presented all of the financial information and tabled it in this House.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A questions for the Premier. I say to the Premier the government was open with Tom Hickman. The government however, according to the Supreme Court, was not open with the other bidders. Now I ask the Premier, how can he expect anyone in the Province to believe his claim that despite breaking the law, despite being ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages the taxpayers still got the best deal? Isn't the only way he can possibly expect people to swallow such a notion is for him to produce an independent analysis comparing the Trans City deal with the alternatives? Why won't the Premier commission such an independent study?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have to repeat again, there is a real problem here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: The Leader of the Opposition keeps saying, number one, that this was illegal. That is yet to be determined. There is a case before the Court of Appeal which will be dealt with expeditiously. Mr. Speaker, she says as well in her question, that the court has awarded millions of dollars in damages. Now she knows that is not true. Everybody knows that is not true. Mr. Speaker, there is a problem in the phrasing of the questions and the hon. Leader of the Opposition repeating these things over and over again that are not true, I guess hoping that they will be covered in that way. Mr. Speaker, she should avoid the use of these things that are simply not true in her questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the government. I will direct it to the Premier; maybe he is the one responsible.

With regard the Voisey Bay situation, there has been a lot of commentary in the media, a lot of commentary from some of the companies involved, that the project may move ahead sooner rather than later, talking about mining operations coming on stream in the next few years, and so on and so forth. One of the things we saw with regard to news coverage of the exploration phase of this development was trouble with the native peoples of the area with regard to their claims on the land, et cetera. I guess they would want some say in the type and nature of development, probably some of the benefits in terms of jobs, revenues, et cetera.

Just where does the government sit with regard to the native people on this particular project, either in terms of the project's specific agreement with the native peoples, or the more general land claims?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, as hon. member know, a couple of years or so ago we started a speeded up process with the Labrador Inuit. Those negotiations went fairly well. They developed a proposal and put it to us. We had suggested otherwise, but they thought it should go that way. We responded. They have made some commentary, but there has been no formal response. A short time ago negotiations resumed again.

I met last week with Mr. Irwin, the federal minister responsible for Indian and Northern Affairs, and it is clear now that the federal government will be coming back to the table to participate with us, and we should know, I hope, within a very few weeks the position that the federal government will be taking. We have talked to them about what needs to be done to ensure that the matters are fully addressed - that is far as the LIA is concerned.

We had talked to the LIA also about putting in place an interim arrangement that would affect the staking of mining claims, or the operation of mining claims, within the areas that we propose be reserved for the Labrador Inuit. They did not want that particular one at that time, but you will recall that in late December or early January there was great concern about the number of claims being staked in Labrador, so we took steps to immediately exempt from staking the areas that are commonly referred to as the LIL areas around the five Labrador Inuit communities in respect of which we had proposed the Labrador Inuit should have some specific rights, and while they haven't agreed with our proposition in that regard, they nonetheless appreciated our stopping the claiming in those areas.

The second part of it relates to the Innu. As a result of the resolution of the court matters and so on, about two weeks ago, in direct discussions with Mr. Penashue, he asked that we now agree to a speeded-up process for land claims with the Innu and I have agreed that we would do that and put it in place right away. So, steps will be taken and, in fact, are being taken at the moment to start those discussions. I think both the Innu and the Inuit and, of course, the government, would prefer to see completion of the comprehensive land claims before any development takes place.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A further question related to the Minister of Development.

Mr. Speaker, the last time the Liberal Party was in power we managed a major mega project which was Churchill Falls and every Newfoundlander has his `druthers' about what happened there; when our party was last in power, we started the ball rolling on Hibernia and we had some considerable concerns over the last few years as to the Liberal Party dropping the ball that we handed them with regard to Hibernia and matters relating to Marystown and Argentia etcetera.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with regard to Voisey Bay, I ask the Minister of Development what plans the government has to ensure that maximum advantage is taken out of this development not only in terms of revenues, but in terms of jobs in the further processing of raw minerals etcetera. Is this going to be a project that is going to produce the maximum benefit for the people of this Province, unlike Churchill Falls, before?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the comments he made before he asked the question, I assume were intended as light comedy, so I won't give them any serious consideration.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Of course he is. He knows the difference.

With respect to the question, Mr. Speaker, the whole question involves a variety of concerns, not just the question of development; it involves the environment, in particular, it involves the Minister responsible for IGA, which happens to be me in terms of the aboriginal aspects of it; it involves Natural Resources, it involves Industry, Trade and Technology, those departments, in particular, so that in circumstances like this and where this matter is of such concern, P and P will accept immediate responsibility for it and will give policy direction on it subject to the broad framework that the Cabinet establishes. Mr. Speaker, all of those matters have been under active consideration and will continue under active consideration for some time.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is to the Premier. Lately, I've heard stories and rumours that the Province is negotiating with Ottawa to relieve them of their federal obligations by taking over Marine Atlantic's ferry service to Labrador. Is it true?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, there are no negotiations with respect to it. I guess about four years ago we originally talked to the then-Mulroney Administration in Ottawa, not about the Province taking over those services at all. What we had originally talked to them about was the idea that they could reduce their cost and the level of services involved if they joined with the Province in putting some money into building the road across Labrador connecting it to Quebec, thereby creating the ability to drive right around the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the two ferries; and that they would be able to greatly reduce their ferry expenditure with a service road to some of the more remote communities on the Southeast Coast of Labrador.

At various times that was up and down. Recently, the Federal Government has expressed some interest in pursuing discussions along those lines, but nothing along the lines of the Province taking over the ferry services in Labrador. No, that is not correct.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last Monday, a week ago, I asked the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: Had the government completed their own internal investigation dealing with the Workers' Compensation Review Division? He said at that time that the Friday before, he had received it: `I had a look at it, we asked a number of questions, I had a number of things to be investigated, and there was one question not dealt with. So I sent it back and asked could we do it very quickly.' And he said he was expecting a version sometime last week.

My question to the minister is: Why hasn't it been done? Will it be delayed much further? if so, what time frame can you give us?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just this morning, I was notified that everything was completed, that the final report would probably be given to me tomorrow. At that point in time I will have a look at it, see what it says, and discuss it with my Cabinet colleagues. So, within a very few days I expect to be able to table the information in the House.

The basic information was gathered fairly quickly, but one of the problems was that they had to talk to one of the commissioners who was on holiday. They finally traced him down in Florida, and that is what took the last few days, so all the investigation is complete; the report is written and is now being sort of bound together. The final report is now being bound together.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me ask the minister so I am clear - that the report is ready; it has been given to him. He will discuss it with his Cabinet colleagues some time this week. Can the minister say that after he discusses the report with his Cabinet colleagues that he will table the report as it was given to him?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, obviously when I discuss it with my Cabinet colleagues I will follow their directions. I follow the directions of Cabinet. I did not say that I had the report. I looked into it today, knowing that the House was opening at 2:00 p.m., and was told that the final report was ready; it was now being bound and would be given to me some time tomorrow, so I do not have it yet.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Let's be clear again. What you are telling me now, Minister, is that you will bring the report to Cabinet, but you cannot say for sure today in the House that you will table that report as it was given to you. What may emanate from the Cabinet following that interim report as you present it could be different from what was given to you. Is that correct to say?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, what I said, I will make it very clear to the hon. gentleman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having trouble hearing the minister.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I said that I hope to get the report tomorrow - the final, bound version. I will then discuss it with my Cabinet colleagues and follow their direction. I will follow the direction of Cabinet, and I cannot presuppose what that direction may be, but the hon. gentleman will know soon enough. It is very quick, and he will know soon enough.

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

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

Many parents have been informed that there will be drastic cuts in remedial teacher service at the end of this school year. In fact, a fair number of letters have been arriving at my office, and I am sure they have been arriving at his as well. Why is this happening, and why are these cuts affecting the very children whose educational needs are most acute and whose potential cannot be reached without direct assistance from specialized teachers in a small group educational environment?

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

MR. DECKER: I congratulate the hon. member; the muzzle has been removed. I did not think it was fair the way his leader had him confined to the back benches and would not let him ask a question. I am glad to see that she has had a change of heart.

The hon. member is probably more familiar - he should be - with the educational system in this Province than the average person. The hon. member should know that government allocates to the school boards sufficient funds to deliver education in this Province. Some of that money will be used for special needs children; some of it will be used for other reasons, and when a board makes a decision to change its focus on a course it is simply that the board has weighted all the options and has come to the conclusion that in the circumstances it is the thing to do. So if the hon. member has a problem with this, just give me the specific board and I will ask the board how it is dealing with that. Now, I suppose I could take the weekend Telegram and go directly from there, but maybe the hon. member knows something other than he is reading in the papers.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows - or he should know - students who have special needs are placed along a continuum of educational learning. Cuts in allocations have been so drastic that special education teachers are able to help only those children with the most challenging of needs. This means that the regular child in a regular classroom who is not able to cope with a regular curriculum, is left to sink or swim. Where are the educational reforms that are going to help these children who need that little bit of extra help to reach their potential?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member seems to me to be suggesting that special education teachers, special needs teachers, are there to teach children directly. The hon. member should know that the special education teacher is really a leader - the classroom teacher is responsible for every single student, whether that student is physically challenged, mentally challenged, or whatever the case might be. In addition to that, special education teachers are made available to assist the teacher deliver his or her program. If we were to have to put in place special needs teachers to teach every challenged child in this Province, Mr. Speaker, we would probably have to put a whole new network of teachers into the system and then take out the classroom teachers. I don't think the hon. member truly understands the situation out there. He certainly does not give any indication if you were to deduce from the questions that he is asking, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, special education teachers are assigned on the basis of median school population of a school board. The minister knows or he should know, the formula is like this; 7.5 teachers where the median school population is less than 200, seven teachers where the median school population is between 201 and 399 and 5.5 teachers where the median school population is more than 400. In other words, as schools amalgamate or consolidate, schools are penalized because students who have special needs receive fewer teachers. Why is such a disincentive to consolidation permitted to exist within his department and when will we see more special education services in schools as a consequence of consolidation and amalgamation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as I already told the hon. member, if the role of a special Ed teacher was to take a classroom of people who are mentally, physically or somehow have some extra needs then it would be a whole new set of teachers for every single classroom in the Province. The reality is the special needs teacher, Mr. Speaker, is a lead teacher who works with the classroom teacher. Now I will be the first to admit and the hon. member probably knows that there are cases in this Province where the special Ed teacher goes in and takes full responsibility for the people who have special needs but if we follow our concept of inclusion where all children are included into the classroom, if we were to follow our -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, can you get some order in this Chamber? This is disgraceful, every time you get up to answer a question a bunch of yahoos over there try to shout you down, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member from Waterford - Kenmount asked a serious question and obviously he deserves an answer but I cannot get a chance to get it out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will ask the minister to draw to the end of the answer.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in this Province we have a concept of inclusion where all children are included in the classroom education whether they have special needs or whatever. We recognize that some children need a little bit of assistance, to address that we put specially qualified teachers into the system. The formula which the hon. member outlined is the formula that we use and in most cases it works, Mr. Speaker. If the teachers are deployed properly it works but if the teachers are deployed and expected to get into the day to day teaching of the special needs children then they are not deployed properly. The hon. member, I would suggest, when he was teaching deployed them properly, Mr. Speaker, he knew how to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Just last week, Mr. Speaker, the minister's colleague, the Minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation, commonly in the last year or so referred to as the terminator, Mr. Speaker, in this case he tabled Bill 5, a bill that would take away the rights of municipalities in the Province. Right now under the Municipalities Act, Mr. Speaker, municipalities in the Province would have to give permission in order for the government, Works, Services and Transportation, to do roads, to take over roads in their community, under this bill they will not have a say, Government will tell them what roads are going to be done and what charge. Would the minister mind telling the House how many municipalities will be affected by this decision and what the total cost to municipalities in the Province will be?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, that is not what we call my hon. friend the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation out in the bay, `the terminator.' We have another name for him.

To answer the hon. member, I reviewed the legislation, and the hon. member being an ex-member of a Cabinet in the previous government realizes that all bills come to Cabinet and are perused. There were a number of communities in the Province which were refusing, basically, to take over some responsibility in regards to roads - particular roads within their community, short roads within their community - that the government felt it quite capable of - communities that were quite capable of maintaining those roads at very little cost, basically, running from one part of the town to the other and passing over a small section of road that was snow cleared or maintained by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

I agreed with the decision at the time and I stand by my hon. colleague's bill. It will help accommodate Works, Services and Transportation; it will also help a lot of municipalities by being able to provide some sort of a service, I suppose. Maybe a better service in some cases. We had sections of roads, for example, that were long distances from the depots. We had one section of road up on the northwest coast for example that was thirty-odd kilometres away from a clear road, and our people would have to travel those thirty-odd kilometres to plough less than a kilometre of road.

We've asked communities to do that. We are going to make sure that communities are paid ample funding amounts to offset the cost. So Mr. Speaker, I can't name every one of the communities that the hon. member has asked me. I do support the legislation without any doubt.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The minister said in his answer that there are some municipalities in the Province that can well afford to do those roads that are now being done by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. Could the minister tell the House then the communities that can't afford to do those roads? Will his department make sure that those roads are not passed over to the communities by Works, Services and Transportation? The minister knows what communities those are.

While the minister is on his feet, could he tell us what the charge will be by Works, Services and Transportation to the communities. How much per kilometre? Will it be $1,000, $2,000, or $3,000, whichever?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the member has brought two separate issues altogether together here. I'm finding it difficult to address....

Let's take the legislation that came through the House last fall that now insists on municipalities paying upwards of $3,000 per kilometre. There was an outcry in the House during the winter session about the cost to municipalities. I only heard from - I don't know who else, or if anyone else contacted anyone else - but there was one community in the Province that complained to me and complained strongly about having to pay the $3,000 per kilometre this winter past. Just one. With that said, at that time we reduced if you remember from $3,000 to $1,500 a kilometre, and then next year we will move into the $3,000.

Let me go back to the other question. Another reason that I forgot to mention was that over the past three or four years we've gone into communities and upgraded roads, resurfaced roads, ditched roads, on the condition that we had word-of-mouth from the councils saying: Yes, as soon as you do that we will take them over. Some councils have reneged on that promise. We found ourselves in a situation there at that particular point in time where we had spent large sums of money on the condition that municipalities would take over the roads and then finally reneged on it.

We can't be put in a position as a government to be out there spending large sums of money on resurfacing and upgrading roads and at the end of the day having municipalities say to us: Now you've got it done we don't want anything to do with it. That is basically one of the reasons why we brought this piece of legislation in.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. What the minister is talking about with regards to the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs doing up roads in conjunction with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, there is usually an agreement between the municipality involved and whichever department makes that agreement. If that has not been done I would say to the minister that that is government's fault, not the municipality's.

In the Explanatory Note with regards to the bill, could the minister now tell the House - before there were a lot of municipalities in the Province that figured this was just for snow clearing last year, the charge of $3,000 a kilometre - could the minister now tell the House whether this bill includes everything... snow clearing, the maintenance of roads year-round in each community in the Province? Seeing that this is retroactive legislation supposed to come into effect on April 1, could the minister now tell the House that municipalities in the Province are going to be consulted before this bill goes through?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, this government is not, and especially I, as Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, am not going to put any extra burdens on the shoulders of municipalities in this Province. I am not going to do it. The people who represent municipalities in this Province know I am not going to do it, and they know that this government is not going to do it. I have no intention of doing it.

Mr. Speaker, if you look back at our record when we did away with the school tax, we have made available every year since 1989 the opportunity for municipalities to come in, sit down, meet, and discuss, and talk to us about what is going on in municipalities in the Province. Mr. Baker and myself have a meeting scheduled for next week with the Federation of Municipalities to talk about what they can do to help the government and what we can do to help them.

I am not going to stand here and listen to that sort of thing because the hon. member understands and fully knows that this government is not out to do anything that will harm municipalities in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.

On behalf of hon. members, I would like to welcome to the Public Galleries the Vice-Chairman, Wesley Mercer, and three other members of the Local Service District of Stoneville in the provincial district of Lewisporte.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As the next order of business, does the hon. the Leader of the Opposition have leave to address the House?

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I am seeking leave to simply request Your Honour to send congratulatory messages.

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


MR. SPEAKER: Leave given.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, this Saturday night past, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council held their annual Arts Awards Ceremony, and I would like to ask that Your Honour, on behalf of all members, send messages of congratulations to the four Arts Award recipients and the three inductees into the Arts Hall of Fame. The award recipients were Liz Pickard, Artist of the Year; Michael Winter, Emerging Artist; Canadian Airlines, Patron; Peter Gardner, Arts Achievement. And the three inductees into the Hall of Honor were the late Maxim Mazumdar - perhaps the message could go to his friend, who accepted the award; Harold Horwood; and Eric Norman.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, with great respect, I really don't think it is necessary. I had been scheduled to be present, as I was present at the last two or three such awards each year, and presented the awards in the last couple of years or so, but coming down with what you hear today on Saturday made it impossible for me to be there. I couldn't get a minister on such short notice - they were all otherwise engaged, or incapacitated, but I asked the Deputy Minister, Mr. Clyde Granter, and he appeared and represented the government and offered congratulations to all of the inductees. I don't object to sending them again, but it is sort of like gilding the lily. It has already been done. The Deputy Minister was there to do it directly. I have no objection to doing it, and if the House wants to do it, I won't speak against it. I just point out that it is unnecessary.

MR. SPEAKER: I take it consent is given, and the letter will be forwarded appropriately.

Notices of Motion

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

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

I give notice that I will on tomorrow introduce the following private member's resolution:

WHEREAS the Newfoundland Dockyard has been operating in Newfoundland and employing Newfoundlanders for most of the century; and

WHEREAS the Dockyard has proven its ability to make a significant contribution to the Newfoundland economy, most recently having employed more than 700 people in 1994; and

WHEREAS the Dockyard being situated in Newfoundland is strategically placed in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean to take advantage of shipping and other marine traffic routes; and

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a direct interest and investment in the Dockyard through its $8 million to $10 million investment in the synchrolift; and

WHEREAS recent decisions by Marine Atlantic in managing the facility have raised serious concerns about the Crown corporations plans for the future of its operation;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador strongly urge the Government of Canada to intervene promptly in the management of the Newfoundland Dockyard, to revitalize the operation and safeguard the jobs it provides by among other things, Mr. Speaker, permitting the Newfoundland Dockyard to bid on projects all across Canada and internationally.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition on behalf of 110 residents of Green Bay on the electoral boundaries issue. Last week I presented a petition with 194 names on it, and I have several other petition sheets that I hope to present over the next little while. The prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker, is as follows:

WHEREAS our communities have been in Green Bay for many years; and

WHEREAS a recent government proposal would see some of our communities assigned to Baie Verte district;

THEREFORE, we the undersigned, petition the hon. House of Assembly not to entertain or approve any proposal that would see our communities removed from Green Bay district.

Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out last week, this most recent proposal is the fourth in a series by this government to redraw the electoral boundaries in the Province and this particular one would see the communities of King's Point, Rattling Brook, Harry's Harbour and Jackson's Cove, Little Bay, Beachside and Little Bay Islands be assigned to Baie Verte district.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the people in those communities have nothing against Baie Verte or the surrounding communities on the Baie Verte Peninsula, but their community of interest there, is in the immediate Green Bay area; the service centre that they deal with is essentially Springdale and they do not wish their lives to be disrupted by having to refer politically to the Baie Verte area which is on a separate peninsula on the map of Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, in Green Bay in recent years, there has been a formation of joint councils and this is something that the local municipalities are quite proud of. A sense of district spirit, I suppose, for want of a better phrase, has been growing and the joint councils are active; indeed, today, the Chair of the joint councils of Green Bay is from King's Point, one of the communities due to be assigned to the Baie Verte district, so obviously, assigning these communities to the Baie Verte district would disrupt that situation.

The petitions that I am presenting were generated from the activities of the Green Bay Economic Development Association, Mr. Speaker, whose constitution requires that the membership of the association comes from within the electoral district of Green Bay. A number of the movers and shakers in that development association, indeed, the current president, recently elected, of that development association, is from the area of Green Bay that will be assigned to Baie Verte district. So again, Mr. Speaker, this particular move would disrupt some useful, ongoing activity on the part of the Green Bay Development Association.

Mr. Speaker, when I was in my district on the weekend, one thing that surprised me in terms of the strength of the reaction, was, people's reaction at the changes proposed that would see the creation of a new district called Windsor - Springdale, eliminating the communities I mentioned earlier and including the rest of Green Bay district and along with that, almost all of the former Town of Windsor. Most people were utterly amazed at that turn of events, Mr. Speaker.

Being in the central Northeast Coast region of the Province, the people of Green Bay are all too familiar with the struggle that occurred, the tremendous debate that occurred, the money that was spent to bring about the much touted amalgamation of the Towns of Windsor and Grand Falls to create the new community of Grand Falls - Windsor. To see the newly amalgamated community being split down the middle again, Mr. Speaker, in this electoral redistribution, is something most people find utterly amazing. They can't believe that government, having gone through the trouble that it went through, to bring the communities together, would now countenance, in redrawing the electoral map, changing the situation so that the old border, both the physical and the psychological border, i.e. the railway tracks, that existed between Grand Falls and Windsor would again become the separating point between the districts of Windsor - Springdale and Grand Falls - Buchans.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I have concerns from people in my district who do not wish to be assigned to another district, in this case Baie Verte District. They have expressed concerns that I know from the news media are also being expressed all over Central Newfoundland with regard to the separation of Grand Falls and Windsor in the redrawing of the electoral map.

Now, when I raised the issue in the House the other day the Government House Leader indicated the matter wasn't settled.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. HEWLETT: I hope it hasn't been, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thought I would rise today in support of the petition that my hon. colleague has presented here. Of course, it cuts into exactly what he said earlier, into my district, and basically my district now goes from twenty-one communities on the Baie Verte Peninsula to thirty-three communities, which now leads from the Baie Verte Peninsula and goes up to the Trans-Canada and back down to Green Bay and the Springdale area.

Mr. Speaker, I talked to some of my colleague's constituents in that area who would come into the Baie Verte District, over the last few days, and they raise some very, very good concerns. One of the questions besides being specific to that area, they raised a concern: What was the whole reason, what was the purpose, what was the rationale, for this change in the number of seats?

Of course, we hear all over the Province that the real reason it should be, and what it initially should have been, and I think that every member supports, is that okay, if we are going to reduce the number of members in this House of Assembly then let's do it properly. The question has to be asked: Why, then, wasn't - besides the answer the Premier gave - that initial forty-four seat independent proposal accepted? If we are going to do it, then let's go the full distance with it, and let's do what was independent and put before this House. If not, since that time, since that stopped and everything else has started, it has been nothing short of a shemozzle. There have been three or four commissions - we cannot even remember the numbers now - that went around this Province, at the taxpayers expense - $400,000 I understand, for the first one - now what is the real saving to this government, or to any government, when that type of thing was done, the commissions that were done in this Province?

So before you even look at the specifics of each one you ask what is the rationale and what is the real purpose that we, as members of this House, want to see for the reduction in the number of seats? If the reason is valid, if it is reasonable, if it is responsible, then yes, I think every hon. member here will accept it, but if it was done to appease certain individuals and their opinions, then there is something wrong with that.

In this particular situation I don't really think that the question of urban and rural districts was taken into effect. We keep talking about numbers. What about the rationale for the number of communities? I have to deal with now, and I know many of my colleagues on both sides of the House deal with, twenty-one different community councils, fifteen different fire departments, twenty-five different organizations. It is totally different and was not taken into account with this commission, the rural and urban differences, and that is what these people in Green Bay are talking about also. Now that I, as their member, trying to represent them, will have to go to another ten to twelve communities, talk to another ten to twelve community councils, talk to another ten fire departments, that is what they are talking about, the logistics of this and common sense. They are saying: Can that member now represent us the same as he could before? We all know the difference. We relate to differences over here, and I am sure they do on the opposite side of the House, that there is a difference with rural and urban.

Now we have to talk about the geography, and it seems never to be mentioned in any of the commissions, the geography of the districts. I heard the Member for Fortune - Hermitage express his concerns in the media lately, and what a ridiculous situation. The Member for Fortune - Hermitage has to fly to Gander, then fly to Stephenville to go down to the other part of his district. There is no way you can give me a reasonable answer to the logistics of that particular Fortune - Hermitage area, the same as with the Green Bay - White Bay district.

Like all members here, I know we all say it, we will do the best job we can if the lines are drawn and it is accepted and voted on in this House of Assembly, but what we have to ask ourselves is, what was the rationale and the real purpose behind this? If the rationale is there, that is fine and we will accept it, but we have now gone from fifty-two to forty-eight seats. Was the purpose fulfilled, that we are going to save the hundreds and thousands of dollars for the taxpayers of this Province, so that we would have a more efficiently run government? That should be the rationale, and if it is not then it is not worth making the move. If it has gone from fifty-two to forty-eight, that to me is not significant enough to take on this latest proposal that was seen after two Justices did not see fit to tamper with.

The original document that was done, proposed forty-four seats. There would have been great changes to many districts in this Province, and that was significant, fifty-two to forty-four. Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can see that. Since that commission I cannot see the rationale since what we've now arrived at is the forty-eight seats. If we were doing it to just satisfy the perception of people, fair enough, let's do it like that. But if we are doing it just as a smoke screen, then I have a problem with that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has now expired.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there will be an opportunity I suspect to deal with this matter at greater length in the House, and in that case every member will have an opportunity to speak and say what he or she wishes. Perhaps I could say a word or two in the hope that I might allay the fears expressed by my friends for Green Bay and Baie Verte - White Bay, but in the realization that that may not, if they are blinded by partisan considerations, as opposed to coming at it open-handedly.

Our basic theory of government in this Province and in Canada is responsible government, which means the executive government answers to the House of Assembly and is responsible to it. The House of Assembly is elected to determine who is the government and to make laws. Those are the two purposes which an election achieves. One is to put together the group of men and women who make the laws under which the people of Newfoundland and Labrador live, insofar as these are provincial, and to determine which group of men and women, which group of members, sit to Your Honour's left and form a Ministry. That is what elections do.

We believe on this side that the basic principle coming out of those considerations is one person, one vote. We are not here to represent fire departments or communities or acres or hectares; we are here one person, one vote. We take the position that the vote of a person in Windsor - Buchans should be worth no more and no less than the vote of a person in Bonavista North or in Naskaupi or in Fortune - Hermitage or in any other constituency.


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, hon. gentlemen opposite can shout and bawl all they want but they won't change the facts.

We will go into it in more detail, but the problem with the report of the commission headed by Judge Mahoney was not with the report itself. The problem was that we were not prepared to bring a bill to the House that did not implement the one person, one vote principle. We stand by that. I say now that any bill we bring to the House will be one person, one vote, and that is the principle on which we will take our stand, and we will ask the House to support it.

With that said, I think I can understand the concern of the people who signed this petition. We shall try to address it and we will come to it in a fair and rational way, but the basic principle will be one person, one vote. If a member needs a greater measure of assistance to enable him or her to discharge the duties properly then we will provide that, but we are not going to vary the one person, one vote principle.

My friend for Green Bay plays old-fashioned politics. He is really about a 1920s politician, in many ways. One of the things he is good at is getting little petitions up and bringing them here - I don't mind that, that is fine. He doesn't need to do any more since he was allowed to ask a question today, now that the Opposition have completely changed their tactics. They had one week under the new Leader. She blew it literally, figuratively blew the whole thing; now they've completely changed their tactics. That allows my friend for Green Bay to ask questions. I'm delighted that he does. I'm also delighted that he raises petitions. I encourage him when he goes home this weekend to get some more so we can deal with the matter again then. Thank you, Sir.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, my friend for Ferryland was making such an excellent speech on Friday when he adjourned the debate that we should give him the opportunity to follow it. He has about three minutes left?

MR. FUREY: Three.

MR. ROBERTS: I would say to my friend for St. Barbe that three minutes of my friend for Ferryland is worth thirty-three of my friend for Humber East. Your Honour, would you be good enough to call Motion 1 please, the Budget debate?

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, the Budget debate.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am just delighted to have a few minutes to address some vital areas in the Budget. I touched on a lot of areas in different departments and how it is a fake Budget in terms of getting it balanced. The Government House Leader - or I guess, the minister without portfolio, is it? He has a new title now, `edmandering'. What he has done with electoral boundaries is called `edmandering' now, not gerrymandering. All the trouble started, I say to the Government House Leader, when he travelled out to Clarenville on the thirty-second meeting of public hearings on the commission. The minister went out on behalf of Cabinet to make a recommendation to the commission after spending almost $250,000, `Oh, we don't want forty seats anymore. It doesn't look too presentable. It is going to hurt a lot of our lives. Eleven seats are going to be lost. We will go out and recommend that you look at forty-six now as opposed to forty and let's work down,' is what the minister stated out in Clarenville with thirty-eight meetings. If that was the intent of government they should have given a direction to the commission in the beginning to have forty-six seats rather than forty seats.

They gave them a mandate and then they changed the mandate in midstream. Now, what should be done, I say to the minister, is you should put - forty seats is enough in a Province our size, 570,000 people, forty seats is enough. Manitoba has fifty-seven with a million people, Saskatchewan has around sixty with a million people, and we have to have twice as many members per capita as anywhere else across the country.

AN HON. MEMBER: `Roberts', you should be listening to this.

MR. SULLIVAN: We are over-governed and representation is not effective enough. You can put 100 members in and it is not going to improve that. I say, go with forty members and do like the commission was looking at initially and let the public tell the commission, not me or you or anybody else. Politicians are all wondering about their seats being lost and seats gained. We shouldn't have anything to do with the process whatsoever. It should be done by an independent judge, go out with his forty proposed seats and listen to what the people around the Province are saying. That was what was happening for the first thirty-one meetings until the minister went out to Clarenville and told them to do differently. Let the people dictate it. Nobody has a divine right to have a seat. You are put there by the people, the seats should be put by the people based upon impartial - and the House of Assembly should just rubber stamp it, pass it and have seats established around this Province. Now, the `one person, one vote' applies only in forty-six districts. In the other two districts it doesn't apply. They are talking out of both sides of their mouths. The Government House Leader and the Premier are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right. If there is going to be `one person, one vote' take the entire population of this Province and divide it equally down into forty seats and it doesn't matter about the geographic boundaries. How can you promote one thing and do something different? Now, that is what this government has been doing for some time. Whatever government did it, I don't agree with it. It should be done on a completely impartial basis. We should slice out a lot of seats here, forty members is enough. When we have a job getting fourteen in here - we could have called a quorum counted at least ten times last week. Why do we want fifty-two when we can only get twelve, thirteen and fourteen members in here? Maybe we should look at twenty seats. We might get more effective government probably.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe three.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, maybe three. No I don't agree with that. I think we should have about forty seats based on our population in the Province. Look at Ontario, look at Saskatchewan - much of Saskatchewan is rural area. The two largest cities in Saskatchewan combined only make up 35 per cent of the population, and Saskatchewan has far fewer seats. I think there are sixty-some for a population of one million.

If you look at Manitoba, 60 per cent of the population of Manitoba is in the city of Winnipeg and they only have fifty-seven seats and a population of one million. This Province is (inaudible) thinks we are overworked. We are not overworked in this Province, we are underworked. As members, we have to be more accountable to the people of the Province. We have to get out and do the work and then you won't have to be wondering: am I going to lose my seat, or am I going to gain this or gain that. If you go out and work and deserve to have it you will have no problem when the next election comes around as to whether or not you are going to be re-elected. So that is the answer, I say, to people across this Province, in setting boundaries.

Now, I would like to touch on another area. I don't see the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation there - but the illogical approach that this government is using, the Minister of Health used one the other day and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation used it, too. This past winter, with all the snow and ice on our highways, you would think that much more money would be needed in the budget for snow and ice control and still this government spent over one million dollars less this year then they spent three years ago with no major restructuring to create efficiencies there. So they said, We have better snow and ice control than we ever had before, and they took away $1 million. I mean, it is absurd! Everybody in this Province knows that we had the worst snow clearing and ice control we have had in the history of this Province, and anybody who has driven on the highways around this Province knows that. We have seen not only the snow and ice control, but we have also seen the maintenance of our highways and byroads falling down around our ears.

Then the Minster of Health gets up - and I read in The Evening Telegram, which was wrong: I said to the minister in Question Period on Thursday that there was $500,000 cut from the dental program, less put in by this Province this year, and he said, `I would like to correct the Member for Ferryland' - it was carried in The Evening Telegram - `I would like to correct him and tell him that is not right.' Well, I would like to find out where it is here. I read through it and there is $500,000 taken from the program by this Province. The Federal Government's contribution is the same. There is very little difference, from $350,000 to $400,000. They sliced $500,000 out of the dental program for children across this Province.

First of all,he tries to tell me I am wrong, and then he gets up and tries to tell me, on the next question, that `We have improved services by doing it.' That is when I was led to ask, Why not eliminate the whole program, and give us a tremendously improved service across the Province? Let us cut out all money and we will have utopia here in the Province, I say to the minister. I mean, the logic they are using there - to cut back costs and think we are getting improved services.

You are not fooling the people who are driving on the highways, and I can tell you, you are not fooling the parents of kids in rural Newfoundland who are making the choice of whether to bring their child to the dentist, buy groceries, or pay for some other needed expenditure at home. It is just not going to happen, I can tell them. In this Province, we have struggled for years to get a reasonable level of dental service. We have succeeded - in my area we have succeeded in getting a reasonable level of dental service, and on the South Coast. I spoke with a dentist today on the Northern Peninsula. All over this Province we have improved dental care and the oral health of children in this Province, but now we are slicing back a program.

In Newfoundland now, and I use as an example, there is a $41 fee for an extraction, whether you are in a rural or urban area. What is happening in rural areas is that $24 comes back to the dentist from MCP and the remaining $17. is absorbed in the rural practice. They don't charge a balanced fee schedule. They are absorbing that into their dental practice. The cost of overhead in running a dental practice is about 60 per cent. They are only getting 60 per cent back from MCP so they are providing the service to kids in rural Newfoundland at cost.

Now, in the city here they do a balanced schedule. They charge the parent for the balance between $41 and $24, the extra $17.00. It has gotten to the point in rural Newfoundland right now where dentists are not going to be able to maintain and absorb the cost of providing dental care for twelve-, ten-, five- and six-year-olds and so on around this Province now, so it is going to cause dentists - I spoke with a dentist in the last couple of days, who now works one week out of a month in an urban area and three weeks in a rural area. He told me it is at the point now where it is not going to be practical anymore, and they are going to start looking at going to an urban area where they can do a balanced billing and so on, and be able to generate a reasonable level of income.

We are putting this financial squeeze on moving dentists out of rural Newfoundland. This government has put the squeeze on moving doctors out of rural Newfoundland. Health care in rural Newfoundland today is in shreds. Compared to ten years ago, just look at the Bonavista Peninsula and the Burin Peninsula. The consolidation has gutted health care in rural Newfoundland today.

They are trying to tell us that by cutting back dollars in the system it is giving us better health care. That is absurd! It is just crazy! There are long waiting lists occurring across the Province. We have waiting lists for people to get heart surgery. It was up to 120, just the active list, and an infusion of $800,000 served a temporary purpose in bringing it down to a reasonable level. Then they do nothing again and it gets up again, and you have to jump up and create a fuss again to get a few more dollars to bring it down.

Do they not realize that if you get it down and maintain it at an acceptable level most of the operation procedures they are doing are not at a critical stage. You would enable people to have a healthier lifestyle, less recurring cost in the system for that, and it is of better long-term benefit for individuals and less costly in the long-term to our system.

Now, people have to start realizing that there has to be a shift in the preventive and promotive aspect of health care if we are going to ever reduce costs in the health care system in the future. There are many other areas in health care which need to be addressed; I haven't seen the ones being addressed here; there are 60-some per cent of nursing home beds here in the City of St. John's which need to be replaced; they are outdated, they don't meet the needs, they are not adequate for somebody to be able to retire and live in dignity during their last few years. They are completely outdated and there is no concentration of effort made to plan ahead for the next twenty years in long-term care in the Province and there is no commitment by this government to do something about it.

In fact, I haven't seen any commitment by this government to enhance or accelerate an economic agenda for this Province. In Question Period today a member asked, I think, the Premier and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology: What's happening down in Voisey Bay? I think it is very important for this Province to be able to take initiatives to ensure that we are going to have a demand, companies coming in to develop our resource, that the jobs are going to stay in this Province whether it is in smelting operations and so on, there has to be a return on our dollars here in this Province. We have spent too long and too many years exporting our resources when we should be exporting the product of our resources out of this Province. We have to maximize jobs here, the government has to be tougher on it. They weren't tough enough on Hibernia and the Marystown area, the weren't tough enough in being assertive and aggressive enough in setting demands on companies there, that you have to develop to the maximum extent the resources here in this Province.

We have to realize that, because if not, we will continue to be a `have not', we will be more of a `have not' than we are today if we don't get control of the economic agenda here in our Province. Now this government has done nothing to address the fishing industry in terms of the processing sector. I heard the minister on a fisheries broadcast a couple of days ago, the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture stating that now - yes, after three years - we now realize we have to do something to deal with the processing overcapacity in this Province, and, I couldn't be right about what I heard the minister say and he is not here now to respond -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, yes, the minister is here. I heard the minister say and maybe, when he gets an opportunity to speak on the Budget he might respond. I heard him say: `Now, we are going to go along with the federal - what were supposed to be industry renewal board, they are called harvesting boards now - he said: that board now, the recommendation of that board is now going to deal with processing reduction in this Province; and he stated that they are going to recommend to a joint Provincial and Federal Government, who will jointly decide the processing and the harvesting reduction.

Now,we know the Federal Government is responsible for harvesting, Provincial for processing, but that's what the minister stated, unless he made a mistake. I cannot see this Province turning over to the Federal Government board, responsibilities to reduce the processing sector unless they want to abdicate the responsibilities to do something about it. They have abdicated for three years and have done nothing, so now he is going to turn it over to a board, so that the Federal Government is going to have an equal say in what is reduced. I say the Province has the responsibility to take a lead now and to get on with it.

There are too many people out there today, several thousands of people across this Province, who don't know what the future holds for them, and they want to be told: your community is going to have a future or your community is not going to have a future, and that is not too much to tell people who, after three years sitting around receiving a TAGS package, want to go to work. I can tell you, the majority of people in this Province, I can tell you the majority of people with whom I speak in my district, want to go to work.

Many people on this TAGS package left the Province altogether. Families have left the Province and have gone to work in Yellowknife and in Alberta who are receiving these benefits, because they want to work twelve months of the year, they want to have a steady income and they want to be able to have and utilize a work ethic they have been used to following all their lives.

Now, I hope the minister will address some of these things. There were a few other things he touched on also that I was surprised with. I won't go into too much detail on them, but I was surprised with some of the things happening there. It was new to me, and I haven't seen it anywhere else.

AN HON. MEMBER: How about `Uncle Tom's Cabin'? He wrote the book. `Uncle Tom's Cabin,' is it?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, he has a lovely house up there in Tors Cove. Some recent renovations there make it look like a really comfortable normal residence now. Even if he doesn't use it, it still looks like it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He has improved - oh yes, it was good, it was enjoyable.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I won't tell you, no. He didn't say anything to me that wasn't complimentary, I can tell you. Good supporters of mine there, I can tell you. He asked me: Is it true that Mr. Murphy lives up in Tors Cove? I said: I refuse to answer that on the grounds that he mightn't be happy with my response.

AN HON. MEMBER: A while ago (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Did he? Okay, well, that is beside the point. That has nothing to do with the Budget.

Mr. Speaker, since I've been speaking for about sixty minutes on the Budget now, in case anyone hasn't noticed, I think I'm going to take a break. I think I managed to get in forty-five minutes on Friday. Some other hon. members here want to speak and add a few comments to it. I will sit down now. Anybody who missed my speech on Friday, I ask them to go back and read Hansard. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There being no speakers from the government side, I will have a few words to say in this Budget Debate.

My colleague, the Member for Ferryland mentioned a few moments ago in his remarks that we were overgoverned or something to that effect in considering the number of seats we have in this Assembly to represent the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. When I was in the Premier's Office in Peckford's day,we had a standing joke among those of us who were on staff which went something to the effect that some guy with a three-piece suit and a briefcase shows up at the reception desk and says: Hi, I'm from Ottawa, and I'm here to help. That was a standing joke with us, because government, be it federal or provincial, at times is considered somewhat of a nuisance in people's minds.

When the Member for Ferryland mentioned about us being overgoverned, something came to mind that occurred in my district over the weekend. I don't know if we are overgoverned or undergoverned or just stunnedly governed. We had a situation where I attended the opening of a number of social housing units sponsored by a local volunteer committee in the town of Robert's Arm, the project being funded, I guess, and technically put together, in concert, the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation and Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, CMHC. Between the two of them, with the volunteer organization, they, a while ago, opened a group of seniors' homes, and most recently, eight units of social housing. All concerned, I suppose, are very much to be congratulated. A number of jobs were created in the construction phase, and obviously, an ongoing social need was met. And the volunteers who serve on the local committee are to be commended for a job very well done.

Mr. Speaker, these housing units, being sponsored by the federal and provincial housing corporations, of course, are done to a certain provincial if not national standard. At the opening, we were standing on paved driveways to each of the housing units. The street that the housing units are on is called Berg Street in Robert's Arm. It is a street that has been on the list of the local council for quite a number of years to get some pavement. The government of Premier Wells has not seen fit to give any pavement to the town council of Robert's Arm under the 60-40 cost-sharing program. So it was ironic that on Friday past we opened a bunch of well-done housing units, complete with paved driveways leading onto a muddy street, a gravel street.

The locals were utterly astounded. Because what they want from the minister is not that the paved driveways be taken from the housing units; what they want from the minister is municipal paving on Berg Street in Robert's Arm. The level of commentary from the regular residents of Berg Street who have been there for quite some time is: Only government could do something as stunned and as galling as to open a bunch of units - sponsored by government, badly needed units, I will say - but to provide paved driveways leading to a gravel street.

The other ironic thing about that particular incident is that I understand the minister couldn't make it for personal reasons, but the Federal Government was represented by a politician, not the local MP at all, but the MP for St. John's East, Bonnie Hickey, who was the federal attendee in Green Bay. It was the first time I had ever met the lady.

MR. REID: It was quite an honour for you.

MR. HEWLETT: Yes, a great honour for me, as the Member for Carbonear points out, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Where George Baker was I don't know. There was an official program printed for the situation, no mention whatsoever of George Baker, the actual local federal MP, so one has to wonder. I am sure the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs had other duties and matters to keep him in a different place, but one has to wonder why the Federal Government would be represented by an MP from St. John's at a local function on the northeast coast.

So, it was a real eye-opener in two regards. Obviously Mr. Baker, the brother of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, must be in hot water with Prime Minister Chrétien and the Federal Government, because federal minister Dingwall was represented not by the local MP but by Bonnie Hickey, and the locals could not get over the fact that we had paved driveways leading to a gravel street, which was not only ironic, I suppose, but to locals who have been living on that gravel street for the last several years, somewhat galling as well.

I have written the minister on the matter, not from the point of view, as he shouted across the floor a few moments ago that he might come and tear up the driveways, but a more positive approach would be that he might come and pave the street. Mr. Speaker, I don't know if we are overgoverned or undergoverned, but the people on Berg Street know that they are governed. That is not necessarily a good verb in their mind right now.

A couple of other issues, I have presented a number of petitions in the House with regard to electoral boundaries in the Province, and I have some more to present. I was asked to do this by the Green Bay Economic Development Association and by the Joint Councils of Green Bay, two organizations which have done good work in the area and have seen a sense of unity, a sense of community, come to the various towns in Green Bay, only to see that potentially disrupted by a significant change in the electoral map.

It is unfortunate that towns in the northern area of Green Bay would be transferred to Baie Verte district and that sense of community be disrupted. It is not something the locals are pleased with, and the communities that are left in Green Bay district are not pleased to lose their friends and neighbours to an adjoining electoral district either, so they have had me present these petitions. I have discussed it with both organizations, and indicated that I will present petitions over a series of days in this House so that certainly through the volume of talk on the issue, if not the substance, their concerns will be amply brought forward before this Assembly, and hopefully, some members on the government benches will see fit to get brave enough to break ranks and maybe we can stop this business of the current electoral map which has basically been rigged politically by this particular government.

They put a commission in effect with a degree of independence to review the situation and bring back a recommendation, and that is what they should have gone with. If they couldn't live with what the commission came up with, then the other option, of course, is to leave the status quo as is, but to get the commission to revise from forty to forty-four, then brief us in Opposition on a forty-eight seat proposal before Christmas, only to have a totally different forty-eight seat proposal come before the House now after Christmas is political manipulation at the extreme, and one has to wonder why people regard government in a cynical light. There is a degree of cynicism among the population at the best of times with regard to government. What we have seen occur in this Assembly over the last little while only reinforces that, with regard to electoral boundaries, one, and the other that comes to mind right off the bat, Mr. Speaker, is the Trans City scandal. We have a government now that basically says it fumbled the ball in the handling of the tendering process but it is good that they fumbled it in that they have saved us a ton of money.

Now the Premier would want us to believe that, through ineptness, some of his ministers - obviously not himself because he would never admit to being inept under any circumstances but obviously some of his ministers have been labelled as being inept by the Premier in the handling of this particular matter. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and the body politic in general does not regard it as being inept, Mr. Speaker, they regard it as a cynical exercise of power on the part of the Wells administration. The editorial content of the weekend news paper pretty well confirms that the press core in this Province has basically established that the handling of the hospital contracts was breaking the rules, it was illegal, it was done wrong and the only thing that the government has in reply now is: Thank God we did it the wrong way because we saved you a ton of money!

Now the Leader of the Opposition today put it to the Premier and the Minister of Finance: prove to us that you saved a ton of money, and all we got were vague evasions. We would like an independent committee or a commission to do a quick study on the numbers involved and to put the Premier to the test. Prove to the people of the Province that even though they broke the law they did save a ton of money so that there would be some small measure, some minute measure of redemption in the way they handled this thing insofar as they saved the taxpayers some money but so far, Mr. Speaker, I would not hold my breath on the government coming forward with any sort of independent study on the financial merits of the deal. Certainly they refused consistently to give us any independent study on what went on outside of what was forced into the courts by aggrieved parties. So therefore I am not optimistic, Mr. Speaker, that they are going to want to prove to the people of the Province, who think that this matter is scandalous, that at least as some saving grace, as some small measure of redemption that there were some savings to the taxpayers involved. It is easy to make a claim that you are doing everybody a favour by breaking the rules, Mr. Speaker, but so far they have been somewhat reluctant to so prove.

With regard to Voisey Bay, Mr. Speaker, I raised some concerns with the hon. the Premier earlier in Question Period today. This, by all accounts and by all that one hears in the media, is going to be a relatively large project, a Hibernia type mega project involving resource values in the billions of dollars, Mr. Speaker. As I pointed out in my preamble to my question to the Premier, the last time the Liberal Party was in power and handled a project of this magnitude was the Churchill Falls project. At that particular time they went for a short term burst of job creation and did not have the foresight to build into the contractual arrangements or any sort of understanding or acknowledgement of the notion that inflation exists.

Now economists have been around for many centuries, Mr. Speaker, and inflation is not a new subject but with regard to Churchill Falls there was no provision for the effects of inflation that most economists are trained about in school. Indeed, a sixty-five year contract actually saw the last number of years have a deflationary clause built into the contract and that the price actually drops in the last one-third of the contract. Because of variations in energy prices caused by international oil crisis, this Province was robbed of literally billions over the last number of years with regard to the Churchill Falls project. We got the immediate short term jobs. Obviously we have some jobs to maintain and run the project but we lost a fortune on revenues.

When the PC Party was last in power we were presented with the reality of the Hibernia oil find and then began a battle royal with the federal government of the day under one, Mr. Trudeau, so that we, as a Province, as a people, would have the right to number one, dictate the type of development that would be involved, and number two, have the right to charge certain royalties so that we could accrue certain financial benefits to the Province.

The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador at the time when they were in Opposition, as is the case now that they are in government, were in bed, in sync, in whatever with the federal Liberal Party. They advised over and over again: Sign a deal with the federal government which gives you no power, which gives the federal government the right to give you money if they see fit, but that is all.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. HEWLETT: By leave. You get your money from the feds by leave, and you get no power to have to a say over the development of a very important resource.

That battle went on for a number of years. There was absolutely no give in the government of Pierre Trudeau whatsoever. He was a centralist by nature. Certainly a far cry from Joe Clark's concept of the nation as a community of communities. So the battle went on until the waning years of the Liberal Administration in Ottawa when one Brian Mulroney, who was Opposition leader at the time, saw that there was some political merit in repairing the damage and dissension in the country caused by the acrimony of the Trudeau years by setting an example of how federal-provincial relations could be done.

The government of the Province of the day, the Peckford Administration, managed to cut a quasi-deal with the Opposition party of the day. Once they won the federal government, with a lot of hard work in addition, managed to get a deal from them which gave us the right to have a veto power over the mode of development, gave us the right to charge royalties, gave us as well a $300 million fund to help prepare some infrastructure for us to get involved in the project in a meaningful way.

It is rather unfortunate that the price of oil wasn't through the roof or isn't through the roof right now when this particular project comes on stream, because if it were the case then we would certainly have the power to charge off considerable royalties to the provincial treasury. But the inflexible Liberal Party of Canada at the time would not see fit to share Hibernia with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The kowtowing Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador didn't have the stomach or the guts to stand up to the Liberal Party of Canada and stand with the PC Party at the time in the House of Assembly and put up a united front to make some reasonable demands of the national government. Getting a decent deal was much delayed, thanks to Liberals both locally and nationally. Now we have the local Liberal Party in power, the federal Liberal Party in power, and we are presented with the Voisey Bay project.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: The royalties on Hibernia and all of those final details were actually arrived at in the early years of the Wells Administration. The right to charge royalties was what we fought for and obtained. The extent to which you have maximized the benefits from Hibernia is something that the Wells Administration has to answer for.

We have not been pleased in Opposition - and many people in many parts of the Province have not been pleased - the way the Wells government has maximized the opportunities afforded it under the general principles of the agreement put forward by the Peckford Administration in concert with the federal government of the day. We are highly suspicious, Mr. Speaker, of not only the ability but more importantly the inclination of the Wells Administration to maximize the benefits from Voisey Bay to this Province.

The last time the Liberal Party was in power they sold the shop, to borrow a phrase with regard to Churchill Falls. Recently on the Grand Banks the federal minister of the Liberal party representing Newfoundland sold the shop to the Spanish. Now we have that minister representing us in Ottawa, we have the Liberal Party in power down here with a very suspect record in fighting for benefits for Newfoundland under Hibernia, about to go forward now and try and cut some sort of deal with regard to Voisey Bay.

Mr. Speaker, there are two outstanding matters in that regard. The native peoples obviously have a stake in this matter that will have to be dealt with before there is any significant development. Then, in general terms, the terms and conditions under which any development goes forward has to be dealt with.

With regard to the native peoples, I sincerely hope that the assurances the Premier gave earlier here today that there will be accelerated process, hopefully under the general umbrella of a land claims agreement, that will establish everybody's territory, everybody's rights with regard to this development. Obviously native peoples want some say over acquisition of jobs; they want some say with regard to revenues, and I think very important for native peoples, from everything they have said in the news media, they would like some say - as Newfoundland demanded in the case of Hibernia - over the nature, the style, the mode, of development so as to minimize any negative impacts on their culture and way of life. I sincerely hope that these matters can be dealt with adequately so that the project can go forward.

Once that is out of the way the project can go forward; make no doubt about it. Then comes the next thing, and this is where we have major concerns with regard to the Wells' administration, with regard to the Liberal Party, based on historical precedent. We have general and real concerns with regard to not only the ability of this government to maximize the benefits in terms of secondary processing of raw ores, et cetera, but the inclination, more importantly. If you are not so inclined to fight for your people, then your ability to fight for them is somewhat irrelevant, and the Wells' administration, in dealing with big projects, big companies, has been notoriously slack. It has been very laissez-faire; it has been very hands off. If you happen to be with a big company, this government has a tendency to say: Thy will be done, and that is not good enough for the people of this Province. It was: Thy will be done to the Rothschilds with regard to the Upper Churchill, and now we have a situation where we have a tremendous mineral find just barely in the beginning stages of potentially being found, from everything that has been said, and we have to make sure - and we in this House have to ensure, I suppose - that the government maximize the benefits in terms of jobs, revenues and processing.

I have a gold find in my district and this summer, as I understand it, they are going to do some underground mining, take out a bulk sample, ship it off to somewhere on the mainland to mill the ore and just see what are the practical realities of mining this gold find. I am told that if that works out well, in all likelihood we will have a gold mine in the King's Point area. There is some considerable talk on the local scene as to whether or not there will be any or much milling of the ore on site, given the tonnage of reserves available, et cetera.

What we are dealing with in Labrador is obviously a much, much larger find, resource estimates valued in the billions of dollars - I have heard numbers like $15 billion kicked around - so obviously the economics are probably there to have some considerable processing of ores, milling of ores, the smelting of ores in the local area, and we would be remiss in our duty if we stood here in this House and saw raw ore being shipped at tide water in the Voisey Bay - Nain area, onto large ore carriers, and see it further carried up the St. Lawrence Seaway to the smelters and mills in the Quebec - Ontario region, or in the central northeast part of the United States.

If the right people talk to this administration, if the right people whisper in the right ears, we stand a danger of losing the maximum impact of this particular development.

We saw, in the case of Hibernia, the government basically sat still and let the Hibernia Management and Development Corporation take the work out of Marystown and ship it off to the mainland. We have seen a very weak sputtering on the part of the Minister of Development with regard to the Argentia thing: Oops! You stepped on my toe. Let's discuss it. When you step on the toe of a Newfoundlander, a little more than: Let's discuss it should be in order - a good swift kick comes to mind. Unfortunately, so far all the kicking that this particular administration has done seems to be in their own rear end lately because of all the mistakes they have made.

AN HON. MEMBER: Kickbacks, (inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: There is another word that goes with kick, yes, kickback; I have heard that word before.

AN HON. MEMBER: Watch the old chicken (inaudible) watch the finger-licking good talking about that.

MR. HEWLETT: It is hardly a valid comparison, Mr. Speaker, a minor battle in the trenches over five or six delegates in a given riding in the Province as compared to billions of dollars worth of revenues and benefits that could affect the well-being of the Province for decades to come. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs really belittles the debate that we are in if he wants to make a comparison of the two.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs can talk about chicken, he can talk about my severance package till the cows come home, and heaven knows if we had a major farming or cattle industry in this Province, I would probably have some considerable concerns about the cows coming home because, no doubt they would box that matter as well, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: My friend from Ferryland is right. The Liberal Party is going to know all about chickens in the next year or so when we have an election because the electoral chickens will be coming home to roost. The Member for Windsor - Buchans is over every second day of the week now sniffing around me, wondering whether or not he is going to run in Windsor - Springdale or whether he has the nerve to take on Mr. Mackey in Grand Falls - Buchans, so, Mr. Speaker, you know, the Liberal Party doesn't need to send the Member for Carbonear to take me on although he might be missing his seat in his neck of the woods maybe because the minister is related by marriage to a former constituent of Green Bay so it is quite possible I could have the Member for Windsor - Buchans and the Member for Carbonear out in Green Bay or whatever semblance we have, Green Bay - Buchans or Windsor - Springdale fighting it out for the Liberal nomination in an effort to bump me off in the next elections.

The minister seems to be concerned with regard to my capacity to achieve re-election. Mr. Speaker, I will deal with that in due course. The minister is a part of a government that in general is going to have problems getting re-elected because of its record over the last few years. This was a government that was elected to bring home `every mother's son'. In British Columbia now, you are tripping over every mother's son; prior to that it was Toronto, after that it was Alberta and now -

AN HON. MEMBER: Peckford is in BC.

MR. HEWLETT: Yes, even the former Premier has had to go to BC to find work, Mr. Speaker. British Columbia is where it is happening in Canada these days and it is literally thronged with Newfoundlanders. These are the same Newfoundlanders who, number one, shouldn't have had to leave because obviously, things were going to improve tremendously under the Wells Administration; they should have been still back here and they should have been joined by all their friends and neighbours and cousins from Ontario and Alberta who had left in years and decades earlier in a mad rush to come home but what we have, Mr. Speaker, is a government that acknowledges in the ways of Parzival Copes that we have 100,000 to 200,000 excess people and what we are into right now, Mr. Speaker, is resettlement through misery.

I was at a graduation the other night in my district, Mr. Speaker, and one of the Island communities came to me and the principal of the school said: You know, we have lost another two teachers this time and we lost some last year and we are losing some again next year in all likelihood. It is an Island community where the ferry stops running at night so once they start losing enough teachers to ruin the local school, obviously, the people are going to have very little choice but to move.

That is what we are into with regard to this administration. They have simply acknowledged that they are not up to the job, and that jobs cannot be created sufficient enough to maintain people and their families here in this Province. Just go to British Columbia, go to Alberta, go to Ontario, and you will find out where the people are, and unfortunately they are going to be joined by many thousands of others unless the trend is stopped.

Mr. Speaker, I will close with a comment that I used to make in the early years of this administration when I spoke a sentiment that I myself believe, and now only recently have the Newfoundland people, and indeed the Liberal Party of this Province come to believe in, and that is: All's well that ends well.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to stand and speak for just a few minutes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: We have had a lot of discussion here in the House about what this government has been doing to the finances of this Province since they brought down their Budget a month or so ago. While there was a lot of praise from the other side of the House with regard to what they have done - what they appear to have done with the Budget, is a big difference, a tremendous difference. It brings to mind something that has been said about the Leader of this particular government. This was quoted in The Atlantic Progress. This is an Atlantic Provinces magazine issued to businesses about business matters, and one of the quotes they state here in grading the Premier - they had an article in this magazine grading the Premiers of the Atlantic Provinces.

MR. FUREY: Is that Frank magazine?

MR. A. SNOW: The minister responsible for ITT asked me if it was Frank magazine, Mr. Speaker. I am not sure if it is in reference to `the' Frank magazine. Maybe he is clairvoyant. Maybe he is telling us what's to be. Maybe he knows that Frank would undoubtedly be interested in publishing articles in the future about who may be the next Premier will be, so he knows that is the type of magazine that would be interested in what that particular Premier would be involved with, if you will, or has been involved with. Maybe Frank magazine will be down to do an interview with the next leader of the Liberal Party, which will be the next Premier, because after the leadership is going to be held this fall we are going to have a new Premier. Maybe the Frank magazine people will be down doing an interview then and it would be quite interesting.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I was speaking about this business magazine and they were quite frank in what they said about the leader of this government, and really it says a lot about this government and how it behaves. Their quote about the Premier was, `Clyde Wells is concerned with image and public perception, but there is often no real substance beneath the veneer of the position or the program'.

Atlantic Progress, March 1995, where they rated the Premiers of each province with regard to what the business people of this Province, and the other three Atlantic provinces, felt that the particular provincial governments were doing in their individual jurisdictions. I do not believe they are up for an EDGE grant. I do not think they are, although they are right on the leading edge with regard to assessing what is going on in Atlantic Canada, and indeed here in this Province.

Really, that is exactly what this government has been doing. They are all concerned about perception, smoke and mirrors, and nothing to do with the actual reality, and that's in the Budget. That is what the Budget was about, Mr. Speaker. That is what people are saying, exactly what the business leaders in this Province and in Atlantic Canada are saying about this government. In other areas, whether it is with regard to programs that the government have instituted or what they say and what they do with regard to the gerrymandering that is going on with the redistribution or the reorganization of the seats.

They talk about one vote, the importance of votes being equal throughout the Province. How it would be unconscionable to have one vote worth more politically than somebody else's vote. That they always have to be equal, the urban and rural vote equal. Yet they say that and then they say: We are going to have seats designed in Labrador where you might have a population of 2,000 people in a seat, and they are going to have one member. Those particular votes could be considered four "Newfoundland" votes. Eagle River probably has 5,000 or 6,000 people, so what are they worth? They are worth three Newfoundland votes.

Again it is a reinforcement of what this Leader does, has done, and is perceived to have done, when they say that they are doing things and yet they go and do the opposite. That is exactly what happens with this government. It says one thing and does another. It is going to be friendly to the employees and it runs over them with a bulldozer.

I've just been passed a discussion paper on the Labrador caribou hunt. One of my colleagues has asked me if that pertains to the Mealy Mountain caribou. The Mealy Mountain: Not to be confused with a meal to give anybody. Mealy Mountain is a geographic area, not something that one eats. This Labrador caribou hunt discussion paper is something that is very topical in Labrador and I'm pleased to see that the government has responded to correct some of the problems that have been associated with the hunt.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon? Oh, I've had the opportunity to participate as an individual in the hunting. Now I'm pleased to see that the government has issued a discussion paper and it will be addressing some of the problems.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Good. I haven't had the chance to see it yet. The member undoubtedly must have had some input and has seen the product of it. I know that a lot of people in my district will participate with the committee to offer suggestions as to what should be done. It is something that contributes a lot to the economy in my area. I come from a mining area that probably produces more - not probably, it undoubtedly does produce more economic wealth than any other electoral district in this Province in the economic wealth contribution to the Province and indeed to the whole country, Mr. Speaker.

The caribou, we feel, can also add more economically to the Province if it were properly developed in our area. We have certain attributes within the area that can help promote, foster and develop greater access and a greater exploitation as in participation in and make use of - when I use the word exploitation I use it in that manner rather than take advantage of, in the sense of abuse. I don't mean it in that manner, I mean it in a manner of participating with and developing in a proper fashion. We feel that properly managed, this can have a greater economic impact on the Western Labrador region. And if it is better economically for Western Labrador and doesn't withdraw things from other electoral districts in this Province, it undoubtedly would have a positive economic impact on the whole Province, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: You get some what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, to get back to what I was talking about how - I happened to be listening to the former Minister of Justice, the present Government House Leader -

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister without portfolio.

MR. A. SNOW: Is he a minister without portfolio?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he has no portfolio.

MR. A. SNOW: Anyway, in response to a petition so ably presented by my colleague, the Member for Green Bay earlier, he responded to the petition and talked about how important it was and how proud he was to be a member of a government that was going to support this equality of votes in the regions and yet we all know that in the thirty-second meeting that the Electoral Boundaries Commission had -

MR. SULLIVAN: And $200,000 later.

MR. A. SNOW: - the thirty-second meeting and $200,000 later they were given direction from the Member for Naskaupi, Mr. Speaker, that: `We can't have this, we have to change that. That is not fair.'

MR. SULLIVAN: We want to have a Liberal focus now.

MR. A. SNOW: We want to have a Liberal focus as in, I am sure, capital L, Liberal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Because that is gerrymandering to the nth degree, that's why. If you look at it, that's exactly what has occurred. Some people have suggested that the new nomenclature, the new meaning, the new name, the new expression, the new phrase is `eddymandering' now, not gerrymandering, because of the redefining of the seats called -

MR. SULLIVAN: We could give it another name. Everything has to center around `Ed'. Maybe `Ed' will call it `me-andering'.

MR. A. SNOW: That is a new acronym, `me-andering'.

Mr. Speaker, this is another reinforcement of the theme I was talking about where this government is more concerned with public perception than they are with reality.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: I will leave that one for you to take. But anyway, Mr. Speaker, again what I am saying is that the theme of this particular government, that surrounds this government, is that they are all concerned about the image, the veneer about smoke and mirrors. There is no substance to it. And that has been the hallmark of this government since they have been elected in 1989, when they got back in power, Mr. Speaker. In my particular district, people have been saying this time and time again.

This government say they are going to do everything and yet they do absolutely nothing. They do the opposite, whether it is regard to some of the economic things - the people who operate businesses in Labrador know, in Western Labrador specifically, in my district, that this government is concerned about public perception, and they know there is no real substance beneath the veneer or position of the program. They know that, because they have seen what has occurred locally. They have seen what has occurred with regard to the sales tax, what has occurred with regard to the payroll tax, they have seen the difference in the tobacco taxes in Western Labrador, or down in Southern Labrador, in the border situations in this Province. They have seen what has occurred there, how the government say one thing and do the complete opposite.

They say that they are concerned about what business can compete on an equal footing with businesses from another area, so what do they do? The previous administration, and supported by this administration, had a policy of a tobacco tax rebate to businesses. It wasn't a new idea, a new concept, dreamed up by the previous administration. It has been something that is ongoing in this country for years in border situations with regard to provinces, between provinces, the border situation between Canada and the U.S. When there were drastic differences in the shifts in taxes they would adjust taxes in border situations, especially in Quebec and Ontario, and along the Quebec - Ontario border, or the Ontario - United States border, or the Quebec - United States border. When we had the imposition of the 7 per cent GST, we saw a tremendous amount of cross-border shopping in Central Canada, and it had a very negative impact on central Canadian businesses, retail businesses specifically, because people were rushing across the border to avoid the tax.

What corrected that, the self-correcting thing that occurred after, was the devalued dollar. Once the dollar went down, the 7 per cent didn't matter, so people came back across or stayed on our side of the border, so to speak, to spend their retail dollars specifically over in Canada - in Central Canada, in Quebec and Ontario.

In the tobacco tax - gasoline tax wars, we have seen other provinces adjust their provincial tax in border situations. In areas where you would have shared borders, like we have seen in Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, places we have seen down near Plattsburgh and Sherbrooke, down in the eastern townships of Quebec, we have seen those areas being isolated out with regard to gasoline tax, and allowing them to compete on a level playing field, allowing service stations to put in a tax that would allow these businesses a lower tax in their particular jurisdictions, and allow these businesses to compete with the other businesses that had lower taxes, and this did allow the two businesses to compete on a more level or a level, playing field.

Now, the previous administration in this Province decided to lower the tobacco tax, or use a tobacco tax rebate system. Through the wholesalers, they could find out exactly what tobaccos were being purchased - there was only one wholesaler in my district, and probably only two in the other border situation in this Province - and they used a rebate system on taxes. They would rebate the tax to the retailer on what the retailer sold, so this allowed a Newfoundland or a Labrador businessman to compete with the Quebec businessman on an equal footing. Now, to the government's credit, they continued along with the policy of doing this until there was a drastic shift in the amount of dollars in the tax.

When the Federal Government decided a year or a year-and-a-half ago to lower drastically the federal portion and ask other governments, i.e. provincial, to lower their taxes and they would lower an equivalent amount federally, we saw a drastic lowering of taxes in Quebec. So a person could leave Newfoundland and go up to Quebec and purchase a carton of cigarettes for - I believe the price is somewhere around $21, $22. That same carton of cigarettes in this Province would cost about $57 to $60. We knew then that people would be influenced to go to the Province of Quebec and purchase the cigarettes.

At the same time they are up there, because it is such a tremendous saving in this, they would also be able to purchase gasoline at a lower rate because the gasoline tax in Quebec is lower than the gasoline tax in this Province. Again, they have adjusted the gasoline tax in Quebec going outward from populated regions so that it is lower in the rural areas of Quebec than it is in the urban areas, and especially in the border situations. That is what they have done in Quebec. The Quebec gasoline tax in Fermont, Quebec is lower than it is in Montreal. That is what they do in Quebec to allow the person in the outer regions, in the hinterland of the Province, they say - to allow them to compete with the borders around in Ontario and down on the New York border, the Vermont border, and up in the Labrador region. They lower the taxes. So we see a tremendous difference in the amount of gasoline tax being collected in Western Labrador and the amount that is being collected elsewhere.

This government, when they changed the legislation to lower the gasoline tax in Eagle River, in the Blanc Sablon region -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is in Quebec.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, I know, and to compete with Blanc Sablon, to allow the people in L'Anse-au-Clair, the businesses there, to compete with the businesses over in -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: That will come, Mr. Speaker.

This government saw fit to lower it in one district and wouldn't lower it in another electoral district. They wouldn't lower the gasoline tax as much in my district. It is not the same, whereas in Quebec it is exactly the same. The taxes collected in Blanc Sablon are the same as the taxes collected up in Fermont, Quebec.

I argued in this House that the people in Western Labrador should have the benefit, the businesses should have the benefit. This government parrots - the Premier goes up and talks about all they are doing for business, all they are going to do for business, yet, he does absolutely nothing.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen businesses suffer in Western Labrador and it means a loss of revenue to the Government of this Province. Because Newfoundlanders are going up, people in Western Labrador are going to the Province of Quebec, to purchase other goods. They are buying their groceries, they are shopping in the bars up there, they are buying things other than the big tax difference items. But they are influenced to go up there by the large ticket items or the large tax savings items.

The sales tax itself that was raised recently in the most recent Quebec budget - the sales tax went from 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent. There is still a 5 per cent difference just in the sales tax on these commodities. So you can see there is a tremendous difference. This government says they are going to do things for business, and yet when the Premier was in the district last week, and met with representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the town councils, he talked to the people up there, and what did he say?... Oh, we will have to have more enforcement. I am told that he suggested that they are going to have more enforcement, we are going to bring down the strong arm of the law. We are going to arrest these housewives out shopping for groceries in Fermont and who happen to buy two packs of cigarettes, they are going to throw them in jail. Throw them in jail, he says, if they have two packages of cigarettes that were purchased in Fermont, but that is silly, Mr. Speaker.

What they should do is, increase the tax rebate system to make it equal. It falls in line with the policy that the government agreed with but again, as we have seen before, as this magazine says, this government is concerned with public perception not about reality or position or the program; they are not concerned, they have no real substance. They are only concerned about public perception of what's occurring and it is quite evident by their actions. That is the opinion of the business people from the country, from Atlantic Canada and the message is getting out there that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes b'y. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board would like to have a copy of that article. He must be gearing up for the leadership campaign that we are hearing so much about over there now so he is going to need that. Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Green Bay spoke earlier in this debate and he talked about the opportunities for development in this Province, and wondered what is going to be happening with one of the stars on the horizon and that is the development in Voisey Bay, and, Mr. Speaker, we have to be concerned with what is happening in Voisey Bay.

I live in a mining area of the Province and recognize some of the problems that can be associated with a mining industry; I also recognize as a lot of people in Western Labrador recognize, the tremendous benefits that accrue from the mining industry. The mining industry throughout the country has had a tremendous impact on the development of our country and I guess really, it has had a tremendous influence on the development of our Province but, Mr. Speaker, along with this development, of course there are some associated problems and from a developmental perspective, we have to be more aware of some of these problems.

As I said, I come from a mining area, I have lived there all my working life, I have been there for over thirty years now and I recognize the economic contribution that area makes to this Province and the people there recognize the importance, economically, that Western Labrador is to this Province; they recognize and sometimes feel angered and disappointed by the amount of contribution and the lack of attention that this Province and all previous administrations, not just the Liberal government, but the previous Conservative government, paid to the taxpayers in that particular region.

Mr. Speaker, we have to be concerned to maximize the benefit of all the residents of this Province out of this particular resource. We had another resource in Labrador, the Hydro-Electric Development, we squandered that one, we gave that away; we threw that away. We get hardly any positive economic impact to what we should be getting and compared to what other provinces receive, we get nothing, absolutely nothing from Churchill Falls, comparatively speaking to what the Province of Quebec gets. We get $25 million or $20 million as a Province, so-called gain from it whereas the Province of Quebec get about $750 million and what they refer to as economic rent from Churchill Falls.

In my own district we find that the Province of Quebec, if you talk to people who live and work in Western Labrador, they will tell you that Sept Iles, Quebec has derived a greater economic impact from the development of the Western Labrador ore deposits than Labrador City and Wabush have; and we are seeing a lot of people in this Province today investing money in the stock market, Mr. Speaker, in Voisey Bay. Because of the Voisey Bay ore discovery, we are seeing people in this Province investing their hard-earned money hoping to make a dollar.

We have to be aware as a people, as a government - we haven't heard a peep out of the government, not a peep, not a word. We haven't heard a word about what is going to happen up in Voisey Bay. Are we going to have a smelter? Are we going to force these people, or are we going to be like another former premier of this Province who said: If there is going to be a concentrate or a pelletizing plant in Pointe Noire, Quebec, over Wabush, it will be over my dead body. That is what the former Premier Smallwood said. It will be over my dead body if it goes to Pointe Noire, Quebec.

Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Speaker. It may have been a good trade at the time but that was put down there in the early 1960s. The pellet plant should have been in Western Labrador for the economic gain would have come to this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. A. SNOW: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: All the leave he wants, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Menihek, by leave.

MR. A. SNOW: I just need a few minutes to clue up, Mr. Speaker.

We have to ensure that we have as much value added to that resource as possible. As humanly possible, we have to ensure that we add as much value to it. Don't buy any song-and-dance that we take a few jobs today and develop it, and let all the value-added be added somewhere else in another part of this country. Don't buy it. That is what we did with Churchill, that is what we did with the iron ore in Western Labrador. We allowed them to add the value in other parts of this country. Don't buy it here in Voisey Bay.

Not very often does a province or a people get the opportunity, a second kick at the cat. How many opportunities in our lives do we get the opportunity to have a tremendous method of career development or of investing money? We are getting another tremendous opportunity to develop a resource. We failed in the fishery. We didn't treat the resource properly. Let's call a spade a spade. We didn't develop it properly. We took frozen cod block and shipped it out of this Province and shipped thousands of jobs with it. Somebody else in another part of the country or another country added a few mushrooms, a little bit of cream and a cauliflower, sent it back here to a supermarket, and charged us ten times the amount. We set up a little fish plant in every village in this Province, took it in, cleaned the fish, froze it in a cod block and shipped it out. There was no value-added. Very little value-added to that product.

The same with the iron ore. Most of the jobs in the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Western Labrador are in a pellet plant. That pellet plant produces the best pellet in the world. It is a value-added. We added value to the concentrate. The previous Liberal government allowed Wabush Mines to put their pellet plant in the Province of Quebec. We lost jobs. We lost the opportunity. I say to this government: Don't you dare allow another company to come in here and develop a resource and let the benefits from that resource go out of this Province. Ensure that there is as much value added to that product that is going to be mined - and it is going to be mined, we all know that - as much value as can be humanly possible added to that product using all our resources. Including the people, our hydro.

That is what we have to do. We can't allow the same type of development that occurred with our other resources. We cannot allow this silly attitude that because it is in Labrador we have to take it from there and bring it down to the Island and process it, like we did with the linerboard mill, to go into Central Labrador, take trees, cut them down, bring them out, and ship them down to Stephenville, because that is where it should be, because they have a Cabinet minister down there who is powerful. Don't make those stupid, silly mistakes. We have to base our decisions on economics.

The other principle that we have to base it upon, and you have to keep it in mind, it is a lot better for somebody to leave this Island of Newfoundland and go to work in Labrador than it is to leave this Island, or have to leave Labrador, and go to British Columbia.

We have to ensure that we do this properly. We are probably not going to get another chance in this generation to screw up another resource. We are getting another chance this time in Voisey Bay, so I implore this government to do it properly. Just don't think that because there is a lot of money there we will take the money and that's it, and we can do whatever we want with money. Don't use that principle of a few jobs today and forget about tomorrow. That is the mistake that we made in the fishery. That is the mistake we made in the development of the mines in Labrador. We should have more jobs in Western Labrador. Even though we contribute more wealth to this Province than any other electoral district in this Province, we should be contributing more. We would like to contribute more, but because of previous deals made by previous governments, Liberal governments and Tory government, but mostly Liberal governments -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes it was.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ensure that with this resource we do it properly, that we don't treat it the way we did the fishery, we don't treat it the way we have treated the iron ore in Western Labrador, we don't treat it the same way we treated the Churchill Falls arrangement where we were satisfied with a few construction jobs because we had a few unemployed truck drivers and grader operators left over from the building of the Trans-Canada Highway across the Province, so we will put them to work in Labrador in the Churchill Falls hydro development, that is what we did, forget about the future.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: It is true, and you know it, and what bothers me is that we have people with such short-sightedness still sitting around the Cabinet table, and no idea or concept whatsoever of how it should be done. We have to have more public debate about it. We cannot allow a development like this to occur and have no public debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are going to do it right.

MR. A. SNOW: It had better be done right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you one thing. It had better be as good a debate as we had on the so-called giveaway, or the sale, of Newfoundland Hydro. That is what we have to have, because otherwise, if we had not had a public debate about Newfoundland Hydro it would be sold today; it would have been given away. Paul Desmarais would own it, or somebody else -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: There would have been more shares owned in Westmount, Quebec than there would be in Newfoundland, whereas today we own it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You would have bought shares.

MR. A. SNOW: I don't live in Westmount.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ensure that we have public debate about what goes on in Voisey Bay so that we can do it properly, so that this area of the Province can contribute even more than what it contributes today to the whole financial picture of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, those are just a few remarks that I wanted to make.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations should be more concerned about how many jobs we can get out of this.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: I stand by what I said about Churchill Falls.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: I do know what I am talking about.

That is the attitude. The minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations feels that the government of the day did a good deal on building Churchill Falls and the principles they used.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame, shame!

MR. SULLIVAN: Hydro Quebec is the richest corporation in Canada for the last ten years.

MR. MURPHY: Don't get on with foolishness now.

MR. SULLIVAN: Hydro Quebec is the richest corporation and the most profitable corporation in Canada for the last several years.

MR. MURPHY: We could have put the flour in bags and brought it somewhere, I suppose.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, there were those fellows who brought the bags of light into the house where there were no windows.

MR. A. SNOW: The Province was offered -

MR. TOBIN: Someone brought a bag of money a few times, $50,000 a year.

MR. A. SNOW: It is this concept, Mr. Speaker, that gets us in trouble. The idea that we will just do it for the sake of a few jobs, forgetting that we have to utilize - what we have to do is take these natural resources that we have, people, the minerals, the hydro that we have in Labrador and put them together and do as much value-added in those products as we can with those ingredients, and we have to do that, with the concept of not shipping one rock that only has a crushed value to it because that is not enough, Mr. Speaker, we have to add as much value to the product as we can. The problem that we had in Churchill Falls - the Member for St. John's South, the Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations should take a more active role rather than just saying, `Well, it was good what we did in Churchill Falls. Sure look at how many people we had working up there for three or four years. We made lots of money up there working in construction,' and he is satisfied with that. That is what got us in trouble. That is what got this Province in the trouble it is in today. We are in for the short buck. We have to stay in for the long haul, Mr. Speaker, we have to stay in this Province for the long haul. We have to be more concerned with our children's future and their children's children's future, Mr. Speaker, than we are with our own. Thank you very much.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Today, it is a pleasure for me to rise and speak, and say a few words on the so-called balanced budget that this government has introduced in the House, Mr. Speaker. I would like to use the word `deceitful' budget but I don't believe that word is parliamentary so I -

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, don't use it then.

MR. J. BYRNE: Don't use it? Okay, I won't use it. I will call it the hoodwinking budget for 1995. As an example, Mr. Speaker, the deal that was worked out with the South Coast ferry, the $50 million. I think it was $31 million last year and $19 million this year that was supposed to be put aside in the funds for the ferry system on the South Coast, Mr. Speaker, that is now put into the budget to help balance the Budget for this year. That is one of the tricks they pulled, Mr. Speaker, on the Budget for 1995, to help balance the Budget.

Another one, Mr. Speaker, is Newfoundland Hydro. Last year, the Premier and the government opposite were proposing to sell or privatize Newfoundland Hydro because it was costing the people of the Province money. It was costing the people of this Province money. Can you believe it? One short year later, Mr. Speaker, now they are using money, funds, revenues from Newfoundland Hydro to help balance the Budget.

The report on Newfoundland Hydro this year, Mr. Speaker, shows that the profits are down this year, and I have to wonder why the profits are down. I believe it is another tactic by this government to make Newfoundland Hydro appear to be a losing deal to the public of Newfoundland and Labrador and then try to unload it once again to help support the selling off of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

I believe, as I said before, this is a very misleading Budget. During the Government Services Estimates Committee meetings, in any of the departments that I dealt with Mr. Speaker, I particularly looked at the salary cuts and I brought it up to each minister that I dealt with. I asked each minister would there be jobs lost this year throughout government? Of course, the response was no, no jobs lost they are just reshuffling the salaries around, the positions around, Mr. Speaker, but we know there are jobs lost - there are jobs going every day. The Premier stated previously that there would be - basically, the cuts have been done, the dirty deal has been done and there will be no more lay-offs from the civil service. But, under Works, Services and Transportation, in this area alone, I believe on the Avalon, there are going to be as many as 200 jobs gone out of the department this year. Mr. Speaker, that is quite a number of jobs gone for the people of this Province. This government was elected on the promise they would create jobs, but we have seen the very opposite since 1989.

We see now jobs being lost in adult basic education. I believe it was sixteen in one school alone. I believe government is very hypocritical when they say that education is our future, that we have to get our people educated. They talk about the lack of education throughout the Province, people being uneducated, and here we are supporting cuts to adult basic education. As far as I can see, since I have been here, the ministers of this government have been nothing but a bunch of yes men for the Federal Government, particularly the past year-and-a-half to two years, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Education stood in his place and talked about there now being more adult basic education students in the system. He was saying they are making more with less. He is twisting the facts, as this government have been doing since they came to power in 1989.

The Department of Health, again, talks about restructuring the hospitals and the health care systems throughout the Province. The Minister of Health has been asked a number of questions by the Member for Ferryland and I don't believe I have heard him stand in his place yet and answer a question. He is becoming known throughout the Province as the `don't know' minister. He doesn't know how many jobs are going to be lost throughout the health care system in this Province.

Well, I can tell him at this point in time, right now, there are people receiving their notices to be laid off in the health care system. In the research centre at the Health Sciences Centre there are people who have their notices already to be laid off, yet he talks about people not being laid off and he doesn't know if there will be anyone laid off. Well, if he doesn't know, he should know, and he should investigate further and find out what effect this will have on jobs in this Province.

Last year, we had the teachers put under the gun, and a number of teachers were forced into early retirement. The Premier and the Minister of Education stood in their places and said no one was forced out, but when you are warned that there are going to be early retirements or your salary will be cut, what option does a person have? Again, there were jobs gone.

Now, there are jobs lost in other areas besides the Provincial Government, and the Provincial Government is doing nothing about it. As an example, the Marystown Shipyard had something like 200 jobs gone last Fall, 200 jobs towed out the bay.

AN HON. MEMBER: More than that.

MR. J. BYRNE: More than that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, close to four hundred.

MR. J. BYRNE: Close to 400 jobs gone, and what do we see again? We see this government, these ministers, saying, Our hands are tied and there is nothing we can do about it. We had to say, yes, yes, Mr. Chrétien, please take the jobs and send them up to New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, wherever the case may be.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland Dockyard, a very important topic that the Member for Kilbride has been on this past few weeks, 500 to 600 jobs may be lost at the Dockyard. Now, I have to ask, What is the hidden agenda at the Newfoundland Dockyard? Why would the people who were given the Dockyard to run have their hands tied, and not be allowed to bid on international work, or work in Quebec and Ontario? Why would they have their hands tied, when you especially consider the strategic location of the Dockyard?

We have the Federal Government pumping millions of dollars to dockyards in Quebec, $360 million, I believe, in one dockyard, and in other provinces also, Mr. Speaker. Again they are doing nothing for the Newfoundland Dockyard. Why?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the fugitive from justice, or the half Minister of Finance, or the Government House Leader, or what have you, that I wish the Government House Leader a long, long, happy, healthy, life, Mr. Speaker, but I have to say to him, when the good Lord decides to take him, it may be fifty or sixty years down the road, that someone would have to beat his mouth to death with a stick.

Mr. Speaker, this government has been doing nothing but downloading on the municipalities of this Province since 1989. It is nothing short of horrendous what this government have done to the municipalities in this Province and are continuing to do. It is getting worse. The grant restructuring brought in a few years ago hit the municipalities very hard and the cuts to the road grants were even harder on the municipalities in this Province. It caused untold hardship within the towns of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and they are still trying to recuperate from it but, that pales in comparison to Bill 5, which was brought before the House the other day, and I am sure everyone will have an opportunity to speak on that.

Last Fall, we had committee meetings of the Government Services Estimates Committee, and that bill was proposed to come in last Fall or last winter, but there was some opposition to it and government members on the opposite side of the House were very concerned about what that would do to the municipalities. What they are talking about doing now is basically forcing over on the towns, roads for which they are not now responsible. At this point in time, with respect to roads, which are under the responsibility of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, the permission or agreement of the towns is required before they will take them over. Historically and traditionally, before any municipality would take over any roads, they would work out a deal with Works, Services and Transportation to upgrade the roads to a certain standard and then agree to take them over after that was done. But this bill now, will allow or give permission to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to download these roads on to the municipalities, without agreement from the towns - a `do as I say' attitude, Mr. Speaker.

What is the government's agenda, Mr. Speaker, in this situation? Are they planning next year to balance the Budget on the backs of the municipalities?

AN HON. MEMBER: You (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am only on page 52 yet, another 150 to go.

MR. ROBERTS: How many more (inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: I have another 150 more pages.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) agreement here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), take your time (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: We have lots of time; not to rush.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, what is this government planning to do? They are talking about a balanced Budget this year. If they are trying to balance the Budget next year on the backs of the municipalities of this Province, the towns cannot stand it. Now, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs mentioned earlier that he is going to have a meeting with the Federation of Municipalities, I believe this week or next week, to discuss what they can do for the municipalities. Well, I would advise the Federation of Municipalities to be very wary of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs on this issue. He says he wouldn't do anything to hurt the towns in this Province. Well, everything they have done so far, since 1989 shows just the opposite.

Mr. Speaker, what was this government thinking about? They weren't too worried about balancing the Budget when they were awarding the Trans City contract, not at all, and now we have a situation where, the judge in the case, Judge Orsborn, stated that the government will end up paying basically $3 million, possibly more to the contractors who should have received the contract in the first place. Also, there will be as much as $30 million to $40 million extra for those three hospitals, paid up by the people of this Province. Why was it paid out and why will it be paid out? Payback big time, payback big time for the Premier, and the people of this Province will have to foot the bill for that.

There was an individual in my office today concerning the busing contracts in this Province, the long-term busing contracts. The government now is planning to break those contracts and award new contracts, and they may have the right to do that; but I just have to question the logistics of it and as a right at this point in time.

Talks by the Minister of Education has been ongoing now - and the government and the Premier - for the past couple of years concerning the restructuring of the education system in this Province. Maybe there is a deal at hand. The government has been trying to promote that and hopefully there will be in the near future. So why would you break a contract now and probably have to award the same long term contract in the near future, Mr. Speaker, maybe next year? It does not make sense. I don't know, I cannot answer that question at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, this government has been talking a lot I suppose about an economic plan for the Province. I would like to know what that economic plan is. Where is it? Mr. Speaker, I have not seen anything yet. I am certainly waiting on the results and the people of the Province are certainly waiting on the results, Mr. Speaker. There has been no plan and no results for the economic plan of this Province.

The EDGE legislation, I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and he is not listening. To the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I have a question.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, well you can read it again tomorrow. With respect to the EDGE legislation. I wonder is it possible to get a breakdown of the cost that it took to develop that legislation, the consultants involved and the preparation of the legislation itself? Is there any way I can get a cost figure on that? No consultants at all, nothing? Did you read that anywhere else? That is the question that I am getting at. Did you read it anywhere else? Did you pick up on that EDGE legislation anywhere else? Did you put a lot of effort into preparing it, putting it together?

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You did? How much time? Hours, days, weeks, months?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Indiana giving you the EDGE. EDGE credits and training; 2,000 grants head up an incentive program that has business giving the state more than just a second look and it was brought in in February of '94. When was the EDGE legislation brought in Newfoundland?

AN HON. MEMBER: What does that do? Describe what it is.

MR. J. BYRNE: It is the same thing basically as the EDGE legislation brought in here in Newfoundland. Well you can have a copy of it. I cannot table it I know but I can get you a copy.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: May or February '94, just after this legislation came into place. It is too bad you put so much time and effort into it. You probably could have called the state down there, the government in Indiana and got a copy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, no doubt, I shall. It is not a problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I did not know about it. Maybe I picked up on yours before you did it. Yes, maybe.

The Minister of Environment and Lands, Mr. Speaker, says that the government's financial house is in order because they have a balanced budget this year and that tough decisions had to be made and are going to continue to be made. Mr. Speaker, I have to ask at what human cost and suffering? I have an example for you, under the social services new policy with respect to not paying arrears for people on social services to Newfoundland Power. Now I understand of course that we have to be diligent and that there may be some abuse with the social services system but again, are we hurting those legitimate people who deserve to be helped for the sins of a few?

I have a lady in my district, Mr. Speaker, who I spoke to the Minister of Social Services about today actually. This person owes Newfoundland Power $1,100 in arrears. This lady is a widow with one daughter living at home. She receives $170 per month from Canada Pension. Social services presently is paying $120 per month for light and heat to Newfoundland Power but the averaging, if you take it over the full year, is $200 a month. So if you come through the winter months, Mr. Speaker, you are going to see, when the bills are up to $250-$260 a month that this household would be in arrears to Newfoundland Power. Now of course Newfoundland Power had given a cutoff notice to this lady two weeks ago and I think on three occasions have agreed to withhold the cutoff notice until we got something worked out with social services but they wanted initially $330 per month.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is just physically and financially impossible for this household or this lady to come up with that kind of money. So where does that leave us at this point in time? Actually, Mr. Speaker, that lady has a cutoff notice for tomorrow. Now social services agreed to pay $200 per month for Newfoundland Power in arrears which would include what they pay - the $120 per month plus eighty dollars a month basically is what it works out to. This won't touch the arrears at all, Mr. Speaker. Two people living on $170 a month, I have to ask, what can be done? The minister has agreed to look into it.

If Newfoundland Power cuts off this lady's electricity, basically what will happen is they will take her out of that home, a home that was redone two years ago under the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing program, and put her into a residence, or whatever, an apartment with heat and light included, so I have to question the logic of this policy, Mr. Speaker. Again, to me it seems to be another step basically of this government balancing its Budget on the backs of the poor of this Province.

Let us talk about saving money, or wasting money. Let us look at the electoral boundaries fiasco that has been ongoing now since last fall some time. We have had three different reports from my understanding of the electoral boundaries, one with forty, one with forty-four to forty-six, and now they have a forty-eight. How much money has been spent on commissions and people travelling this Province for hearings to come up with the Electoral Boundaries Report, only for it to be ignored by this government? In the report now we have forty-eight seats being proposed which is a drop of four.

I do not believe this is what the people expected when the Premier first started talking about cutting the representation in the House of Assembly from fifty-two down, to save money for the people of the Province. How much money will you realistically save, I wonder? Will they have to hire more staff? It is certainly not what the people expected, and I do not think it is what the Premier expected when he first set this up, but when the original commission came back with a forty seat distribution the members in the backbenches on the government side of the House got their backs up and put a stop to it, so I am wondering if this will ever pass the House if it is ever brought into the House, Mr. Speaker?

Talk about saving money and trying to balance the Budget.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, its not. I started 4:17.

MR. SPEAKER: I will check with the clerk, but my stopwatch says thirty minutes. I am not wrong, but the stopwatch could be wrong.

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

Talk about saving money, $10 million was wasted last year on the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro on the whim of a Premier who was opposing all public opinion, opposing, I would say, 80 or 90 per cent of the members sitting behind him in the House of Assembly, and we now have people, like the lady I just spoke of, who is under threat today of probably having an asthma attack worrying about getting her electricity cut off, yet we have the government wasting $10 million on a privatization deal that was opposed from the beginning by the public of this Province.

While I am on my feet I would like to say a few words about my District of St. John's East Extern, and address a few concerns of the people in my district. Last fall I had some meetings with the towns in my district, Torbay, Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, Flatrock, Pouch Cove, and Bauline, and what I wanted to meet with them about was the roads and the upcoming Bill 5 which I knew was coming, because in the 1994 Budget last year there was one clause, one sentence that said that the provincial government was going to accelerate the takeover by the towns of the roads in their districts.

I had a meeting with the towns and tried to get them to be first off the mark to work out a deal with Works, Services and Transportation. I went to Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove and met with the council and addressed the pros and cons of working out a deal to get the work done on the Marine Drive, Outer Cove road and the Pine Line. We met with the engineers with Works, Services and Transportation, drove the roads, and came up with an agreement, a good agreement, good for the towns and good for the government. Government wanted to download the roads anyway so we had to look at what it would cost the towns in the future.

Of course the towns could not take over the roads without having them upgraded and it was agreed upon, but in this year's Budget the Budget for Works, Services and Transportation was cut $10 million so it looks like that agreement is out the window.

We also met with the Town of Flatrock to look at the WindGap road, one of the worst roads on the Avalon Peninsula. It is part of the scenic route of Marine Drive. When you leave St. John's you go down through Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove, on down to Torbay, on down to WindGap and down to Flatrock and on through. The road is absolutely pathetic, potholes, humps, bumps, whatever, and those people went to Works, Services and Transportation and tried to work out a deal. I was under the understanding that there was a deal at hand. Again, this is all out the window because of the cuts from this government, the downloading.

Now we have the proposition that these roads - I wish some of the ministers would take a drive down over Marine Drive in particular. We have 1997 coming up, the 500th Anniversary, and we are going to be promoting tourism, and promoting the scenic Marine Drive, and the roads are not fit to drive over.

Mr. Speaker, the Mayor of the Town of Flatrock has just resigned. Now this man was probably one of the most hard-working individuals I have seen as mayor - I was former mayor for seven years - and he just put in absolutely untold hours and days for the Town of Flatrock. It was only yesterday or the day before that I got a copy of a letter - Friday - that he had resigned effective last Wednesday. I have to wonder what effect the downloading has had on that mayor, and what effect it is having on a lot of towns, a lot of councils and mayors throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The next time around are we going to have a lot of trouble getting people to run for these positions? I say we will. It is going to be very hard to encourage people to come forth when they are the front line. Those councils and mayors are closest to the people, to the public basically, to receive complaints. They are the front line for us and the federal government.

I would just like to say a few words with respect to a proposal that I put to the public last May - a year ago this month, actually. I called a meeting in Logy Bay for the people in St. John's East Extern and had a great turnout, well over 100 people - this was in May, to put a committee in place to try to get an arena on the Northeast Avalon, Mr. Speaker. There was great enthusiasm at that meeting. The infrastructure program was under way at that time and we thought we would get together and put a proposal for the arena.

We appointed that committee. We had a study done which was quite comprehensive. It showed that the arena was a viable operation, that it was needed in the area, and that the people wanted it. It could easily be constructed with the help of the infrastructure program. Now, to do that we had to get the agreement of the five towns in the area. In itself, that was quite a task, to get five towns to agree on a major expenditure such as an arena. Not only would they foot the bill, or put their share of money into it, but they would have to come up with an agreement afterwards to operate the facility in the future, and the five town agreed to do that.

The application was made to the proper minister. I met, as the member for the district, with the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the federal member for the district, people from ACOA, and they all agreed that it was an excellent proposal. Now, we are all waiting to hear about the projects that will be approved this year. To make this facility even more viable, rumour has it now - and I shouldn't speak of rumours, I suppose, but there are two arenas in St. John's that are now up for sale, and these are older arenas in the St. John's area. If that is the case, or if one of them should close, it would make this even more attractive to the people in the region.

There is talk about the rock arena. When I came in today I saw a report on the rock arena over on the Southside Hills being proposed, and they seem to be not getting much support from the Provincial Government and/or the Federal Government on that proposal. I think they need a fair chunk of money from these governments to put that in place. If that facility, the rock arena, doesn't go, and that is a possibility, we may end up expanding or building onto the Memorial Stadium. But if the rock arena doesn't go it is going to even make it more viable. I had meetings with the staff of the City of St. John's, with respect to the arena, and they told me last year, even if they did get a new stadium they still needed one in the northeast, Mr. Speaker. I think that is something we have to strive for and work for in the future.

Mr. Speaker, another point I would like to address while I am on my feet is again the Town of Flatrock. I mentioned this the other day when I spoke to a statement by the minister about clean water in the Province. Now, in the town of Flatrock, we have nine homes serviced by wells and all the water to service those homes is polluted. I reported this to the Department of Health which went down and had a look. They did an investigation of it and of course it proved that the wells were polluted. People were getting sick. They did nothing about it. I reported it to the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and they washed their hands of it, as did the Department of Health.

The town cannot afford to correct the problem. Everybody knows the financial situation of the town of Flatrock. It is the Provincial Government's responsibility. The Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs approved the town plan, so if anybody built in the area it was with the permission of the Provincial Government. The Department of Health approved individual applications, so if anybody built in the area or dug wells or put in septic systems, it was with the approval of the Department of Health.

The town of Flatrock has $500,000-worth of water piped in the ground and not one house being serviced by this. I tried to work a deal with the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs that they would drop the $35,000 a year that the town of Flatrock has to put into the Newfoundland Municipal Financing Corporation. And I asked the government to forgive that money to correct the problem, since the Minister of Environment was up on his feet the other day promoting that they would be putting an effort into making sure that the water in the Province is kept clean and that the municipalities in the Province would have proper clean drinking water. Of course, no money came forward.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, whenever he is asked a question to solve a problem in any area other than a Liberal district, the only answer you will get is: Oh, it is only a Tory district, you are going to get nothing, not even a rock. I remember during the Government Estimates Committee meetings I was speaking about St. John's East Extern. I made a statement to the minister, and I will read directly from this March 29 Hansard. I said to the minister: There has been some maintenance, yes, not a lot but enough to get by on. That is what has happened there this past number of years so I am trying to encourage you to spend some money down there. I was speaking about the roads and that. I also went on to say: You don't even have to comment on that because I know the answer is: It is a Tory district, right? The answer was: Exactly, you've got it.

When it comes to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I refer to him as the `don't care' minister, except for his own districts. He was elected and he is in a position, he is being paid, to represent the people all over this Province, and I don't believe he is doing so.

Mr. Speaker, in reviewing the Auditor General's report there were many, many questions that came up. Under Municipal Affairs for example, Mr. Speaker, the debt owed by the two Newfoundland municipal financing corporations has increased 30 per cent over the past six years. That is 5 per cent per year since this government has been elected, Mr. Speaker, plus there is more debt to other institutions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Fifty-two more. Yes, that is still on the same page. So we can keep it going for another minute, we will adjourn and then we will go on from there tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, why other institutions? Why is there so much money being owed to other institutions? It is because basically of the downloading of this government to the municipalities. They have to borrow more to give the same services in less than what they were doing in previous years.

Municipal operating grants, Mr. Speaker: A significant portion is used now to repay the long-term debt of municipalities. The purpose of the municipal operating grants of course is to be used for essential services but that is not happening any more. So the services are being cut again even more. In the budget this year, Mr. Speaker, the general rule was that capital funding will be denied by municipal affairs until arrears are paid in full. Again, Mr. Speaker, the hallmark of this government, more jobs gone. This government's mandate, as far as I am concerned, has been nothing less than: Let's destroy the jobs of the people of this Province. Mr. Speaker, there was $8.4 million or 40 per cent taken back by the government by the municipal operating grants to pay arrears. Again, more jobs gone, Mr. Speaker.

The emergency job creation program that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations was forced to bring in last January, I would like to say a few words on that if I can find my written report here. The emergency employment program, Mr. Speaker, as I said, was forced upon the minister last year or he was forced to bring it in and when he did bring it in the criteria was set so hard that people could not qualify.

I will just give you an example of what went on in my district. On the Bauline Town Council, the town was approved for approximately $10,000. However, because they could not get anyone to work the money was not received. They could not get anybody to qualify. The Flatrock Town Council, the town received $15,705.60 and they will be returning approximately $9,000. Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, the town received $14,135, they will be returning approximately $3,500. The Pouch Cove Town Council, Mr. Speaker, the town was approved for approximately $14,000 however, because they could not get anyone to work the money was not received. The Pouch Cove United Church did receive $9,816 and they did spend it. The Torbay Town Council received $21,595 and they spent it all, Mr. Speaker. So that will go to tell you exactly what the emergency employment program was like this past year. If that was indicative of what is going on across this Province, what happens in St. John's East Extern, I will say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, next year bring in a program that can be utilized by the people of this Province, don't starve them to death.

It is getting late, it is 4:56 and I could adjourn the debate I suppose. With respect to the Hibernia, Bull Arm site, the hiring practices at the Bull Arm site, I sent a letter last January to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations requesting a review of the hiring practices at the Bull Arm Site and the response was as expected: No inquiry. There have been very many complaints made by individuals to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, to myself and to other members of the House of Assembly, very many complaints.

We have people under training programs not getting the jobs; people who are hired on out there who didn't train for jobs and it is basically whom you know, not what you know, at the Bull Arm site. There are communities which seem to have over representation and I have to ask the question why? I asked this of the minister before and he couldn't tell us; everything was being followed properly but there are communities out there that have over representation because of certain reasons and I believe the minister knows why.

For example, back in I think it was February, there were twenty people hired on in the kitchen staff out there, there were twelve from one community and six from another community and I have to ask the question, why? It is just not logical from my perspective.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The minister says it is the best they can do, look at individual complaints. As far as I am concerned, they should take an overall look at what's going on at the Bull Arm site and who is getting hired, why they are getting hired and how they are getting hired.

Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I believe the hon. member adjourned the debate. The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman is well beyond his time. If he wants to move the adjournment of the debate perhaps we should put that to a vote but if he is finished, his friend from Baie Verte - White Bay will adjourn the debate.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am finished, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. SHELLEY: I will give a brief introduction and get ready to carry on with my few remarks. I will just take my ten seconds here and let you know that I will be having a few more words on it tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, and I adjourn the debate.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Baie Verte - White Bay is more persuasive than his friend from St. John's East Extern. The debate obviously has been adjourned; there is a consensus.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It is always a treat having my friend from Burin - Placentia West in the House.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will carry on with the Budget debate. My friend from Baie Verte - White Bay has us all aquiver with anticipation, so with that said I move that the House do now adjourn, Sir.

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