October 18, 1995             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLII  No. 38

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On June 13, 1995 the Chief Electoral Officer sent to the Speaker and all the members of the House Assembly, the first Annual Report on the election finances covering the period October 1, 1993 to December 31, 1994.

Since the House was not open at the time, I hereby table this report in accordance with Section 273, (iii) of the Elections Act, 1991.

As well, I want to welcome to the gallery, twelve student representatives of the Council of the Students' Union of Memorial University, and welcome six Adult Basic Education students from Academy Canada, Kenmount Road along with their instructor, Mr. Robert Gregory.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MS YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, as you may be aware, today is celebrated nationally as Persons Day. British Common Law before 1929 stated that "Women are persons in matters of pain and penalties, but not persons in matters of rights and privileges". However, on October 18, 1929, women were recognized as Persons in Canada.

Each year, five recipients are awarded a Governor General's award in Commemoration of the Person's Case to honour women who have made outstanding contributions towards women's equality. I am happy to announce that on Monday past at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, my nominee, Ms. Ruth Flowers of Makkovik was presented with this award.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS YOUNG: Ruth Flowers is a native woman from Labrador who is well respected and has a long history of speaking for women. She was the first female to work in the government's store at Makkovik, the first female Deputy Mayor and later, the first female Mayor of Makkovik. She is a founding member and President of TIA The Innuit Women of the Torngats, and serves on the Board of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

I commend the decision of Status of Women Canada in recognizing the outstanding contributions Ms. Flowers has made toward women's equality in this Province. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you and the other members of the House will join me in offering heartfelt appreciation and congratulations to Ms. Flowers.

Mr. Speaker, since October is also Women's History month, I would like to point out that the Women's Policy Office is celebrating their tenth anniversary this year and the Provincial Advisory Council their fifteenth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I would like to thank the minister responsible for the Status of Women for making the Statement she just delivered, drawing people's attention to today being Persons Day, the anniversary of the historic court judgement and informing us that Ruth Flowers has been awarded the Persons award. I would like to join with the minister in praising Ms. Flowers' contributions. The recognition on the part of the Governor General is most fitting.

For those who may not be aware, the court decision Person's Day commemorates was made with respect to Canadian legislation governing the Senate. Of course, that was before Newfoundland was part of Canada. During the 1920s, after many years of difficult struggle, women in Canada gained the right to vote for Members of Parliament, as did women in Newfoundland gain the right to vote for members of the Newfoundland Legislative Assembly, and in Canada after women had gained the right to vote, they sought opportunities to participate in Parliament by getting themselves elected to the House of Commons and being appointed to the Senate, but their initial attempts to get into the Senate were blocked with the government saying that they were not eligible since the legislation governing eligibility said that persons had to be appointed, and the politicians and the Supreme Court of Canada held that only men were persons, that women were not persons, but it took an appeal to the British Privy Council, which at the time was the court of last resort for Canada -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS VERGE: - before women were finally deemed to be eligible for appointment to the Senate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Premier.

Yesterday the Premier said he and his government decided to close the Grace Hospital, the Janeway Children's Hospital, and the Children's Rehabilitation Centre because that would be, and I quote the Premier, `overwhelmingly in the best interest of the taxpayers of the Province.' The Minister of Health, however, confessed that the government has not done a plan or study, and the government does not know how much alternate facilities will cost. I ask the Premier, in the absence of a plan, let alone health specifications or engineering or architectural drawings, how can you possibly say that closing the Grace, the Janeway, and the Children's Rehab Centre will be in the best interest of taxpayers? Are you not leading us into a major hospital reconfiguration blind?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The first thing I will do, Mr. Speaker, is note for the record that the Leader of the Opposition did not accurately quote me. I did not say we were closing those facilities. As a matter of fact, I went to some pains to point out that we were transferring the Janeway to another location, that it will continue to exist, not that it will be closed. The Grace Hospital will be closed as a hospital and the services will be merged but the services won't be ended. The services will go to one or other of the remaining hospitals but the necessity for maintaining a separate institution that the Grace would be, that requirement will cease but the Grace Hospital services, as they are carried on now, would continue to be provided to the extent that they are needed.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition should also be aware, Mr. Speaker, that medical demands have changed greatly in recent years. The number of beds necessary has greatly reduced because procedures have changed greatly. There are a great many procedures now that are done with day surgery where people don't even stay in over night, let alone four, five, six, seven, eight or ten days. It is out in a single day in many instances or in for just a day or two and most hospital procedures are requiring considerably less hospitalization time and medical specialists are finding out or discovering that leaving the hospital earlier is even more beneficial in terms of recovery of health for the patient concerned. So, Mr. Speaker, the need and demand for hospital is changing significantly.

The existing building that houses the Janeway Children's Hospital Centre is not what we should be going forward with into the next century as our children's hospital, our primary children's care facility. We need to provide better facilities. The best advice that government can get - and I have to confess, Mr. Speaker, that these are not governments ideas alone - government is acting on advice, the best advice we can get from experts as to how to configure the hospital facilities in such a way as to deliver the best possible quality of care to meet the needs and that is the advice we get and this is the way it can be achieved.

Now in terms of the specific question about how we know what the cost would be, they know generally, without knowing absolutely that it is going to be $14,423,936.14, but they know generally that it will be in the neighbourhood of $15 million sort of. Now I don't know whether it is $15 million, $150 million or $60 million but they know generally the neighbourhood. These decisions, these preliminary decisions were, as far as I know, based on a very thorough assessment of what the cost would be. The government made its decision to approve of the recommendations on the basis of having this information provided to us as to what the projected cost would probably be to go one course or another, how much government would save by having a more efficient system, what the additional offsetting capital cost would be, and what the benefit to the taxpayers would be in the long run.

Now, that is the basis of the presentation to the Cabinet on which this was decided.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier to tell us roughly, generally, his concept of how the Health Sciences Complex will be altered or enlarged to accommodate the children's programs and services that are now being delivered at the Janeway Children's Hospital and the Children's Rehabilitation Centre? Will there be a new wing added to the Health Sciences Complex, or wings, or will there be a new building constructed on the Health Sciences site? Will the Premier tell us, roughly, how children's hospital services are going to be delivered after the Janeway building at Pleasantville is closed, and the Children's Rehabilitation Centre at Pleasantville is closed?

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

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

To the question of what we will have to provide in new infrastructure at the Health Sciences. The hon. member may recall that last year we opened at the Health Sciences by moving again a service that she might characterize as closing a building. We moved the Newfoundland Cancer and Research clinical side of that business over at the Health Sciences and there was some new capital money spent. There was a new building put on, contiguous to, adjacent to, integrated with the Health Sciences Complex. The same concept will go forward in terms of whatever capital expenditures and extensions need to be put in place there with respect to moving the Janeway Children's Hospital services to that site.

So, to answer the question, there will be new construction. If you are asking me, Have the architects drawn a conceptual of that? no, that has not been done yet. We will do that, as I indicated yesterday, and probably have it available between now and the end of the year, such as to indicate what it will look like in conceptual terms, but be assured, and have no doubt, that there will be sufficient and ample new space made available that will be dedicated space to pediatric services.

Children will not be mixed with adults for programming. We will share things like MRIs and we will share OR studios and that type of thing. That is happening now. Children go from the Janeway to the Health Sciences for services. As a matter of fact, I know of one case in which my mother-in-law went from the Health Sciences to the Janeway to have an x-ray at one point in her dreaded disease with cancer. These are the types of things that will not be necessitated in the future. We will have services that are more appropriately available, more efficiently delivered, and more cost-effectively done on behalf of the citizens of the Province on all counts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have supplementaries for the minister. Will the minister tell us whether he envisages a new wing being built on the Health Sciences or a new building being constructed on the Health Sciences site for children's hospital services? Specifically, will the minister tell us whether the Memorial University central heating plant and emergency power systems, which service the Health Sciences Centre, will have to be enlarged to accommodate the loading onto the Health Sciences site of children's hospital services? If so, what will be the cost of enlarging the University's central heating plant and emergency power systems?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I'm impressed with the depth of analysis and consideration that the hon. member has given to this move and extension. There will be new construction. Now, if you want to call it a wing or if you want to call it a building, or if you want to call it a new edifice, if you want to call it an extension - I don't know what the correct characterization would be. There will be new space made available at that site adjacent to, attached to, the Health Sciences complex to provide the paediatric services that will be provided in a more efficient continuum of care.

We are also, remember, moving over the babies and the mothers from the Grace Hospital. Obstetrics and Gynaecology will go over there. So it is a new continuum of care that we will provide at that site that will be infinitely more effective health-wise and more fiscally responsible than the way we are doing business today.

As to the question of whether or not we are going to have to extend the heating plant at the University and how many feet of pipe it is going to take, and how many kilowatts of power we are going to have to draw from Bay d'Espoir to run it, I don't have that detail today. If you thought I had it you wouldn't ask the question. Because it isn't a sensible question to be asking in Question Period in the context of where we are with the planning. We can't tell you how much wax we are going to need for the floor until it is done. But be assured that it will all be provided for in good time and in reasonable fashion.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A question for the Premier. People throughout the Province have seen the fiascos that have resulted from botched implementation of municipal amalgamation in highway construction and rural development elimination. This time, sadly, unless the Premier puts a halt to this crazy scheme of proceeding with closing major hospital facilities without advance planning, lives will be lost. I ask the Premier again: Will you put a stop to the decision to close the Grace and the Janeway until you get a proper study and do proper planning?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, when we took responsibility for government in 1989 we inherited a proposal that would have seen us build a mega-hospital system on LeMarchant Road stretching from the extremity of Campbell Avenue right on down to St. Clare's Avenue. A monster, and they were going to create a major new system. I think the price tag, if I recall, was $700 million. That was the planning that we inherited. We put an end to that quite quickly and saved the people of this Province the gross embarrassment of the monstrous debt that would have resulted from it and the inefficient and ineffective operation. We had to stop that. It didn't make sense.

So we did put a stop to it and we took the time to do a fairly thorough assessment, looked at how it could be achieved. We acquired the interest of the Sisters of Mercy in St. Clare's Hospital, we are talking to the Salvation Army people about acquiring their interest in the Grace Hospital, and we want to create a good, efficient but cost-effective hospital system in this Province. Not the monster that would have been created with two or three different administrations had the Tory plan gone ahead. I know they regret it, but it is too bad, we got there just in time to save this Province a lot of embarrassment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS VERGE: Supplementary to the Premier. Will the Premier admit that the only cost estimate his government has, the requirement to construct and renovate facilities at the Health Sciences and St. Clare's, to close the Grace and consolidate the Janeway, is the $309 million public works officials projected a couple of years ago? His public works officials projected a couple of years ago. Will the Premier admit that the cost of borrowing $309 million a year at a 9 per cent a year interest rate is approximately $28 million a year? Will the Premier confirm that $28 million a year would keep employed 300 nurses and other front-line patient care workers?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I won't confirm it, because to the best of my knowledge there is no accuracy in any of the suggestions that have been made.

As I recall too - I would have to go back and check this - but my recollection is the Tory plan that I just talked about included closing the Janeway too. This didn't initiate with us. Even then they had the good sense to recognize that the building had outlived its usefulness and the hospital needed to be located in better facilities. That is simply what we are doing. Those figures aren't accurate, to the best of my knowledge, but the Minister of Health has better knowledge of the figures than I do at the moment. If he doesn't have it immediately before him I'm sure he can get it and provide it to the Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Environment in relation to the Beaver Brook underground exploration antimony project. I have information stating that the mineral antimony has been placed on the hazardous substance list. Can the minister confirm this and tell the House just how hazardous this particular find in Central Newfoundland is to the environment, and as well state what controls are in place to reduce hazardous exposure to workers who handle this potentially dangerous mineral?

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

MR. AYLWARD: I would like to thank the member for his question. I would like to give a more detailed response to that question, and what I will do is, I don't have the detailed information of it, which is not

What I will do - I do not have the detailed information of it, which is not normally my normal self - I will undertake to get you the detailed information. If there is any hazardous waste substance that is being dealt with by employees, we have provisions. Our acts cover and our regulations cover the handling, so I will get the details for you on that, and if you have any other concerns, please raise them.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls on a supplementary.

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Speaker, the property of the antimony prospect is located at a site close to where Beaver Brook and Cooper Brook flow into the Northwest Gander River, and eventually into Gander Lake. The Gander Lake watershed is the source of water supply for the Towns of Glenwood and Appleton. My supplementary question to the minister is: Can he tell this House what guarantees are in place to prevent the contamination of the water supply, and in the unfortunate event that the river and lake become contaminated, has an alternative water supply for the towns affected been established?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the member is raising a question, and he is raising concerns. We have an ongoing process of monitoring water supplies in the Province, and I can assure him that if there is any problem, any potential problem, to the water supply of Gander or anywhere else, that the Department of Environment will certainly be taking action, along with the provincial government. So I will undertake to get the details of what he has raised here, and I will report back to the House, but again I will say that we, on a constant basis, are always checking out and doing an examination of water supplies in the Province, and I will check with my officials to see if the concerns he has raised have been raised by anybody else, and if they have, if they have been dealt with, and I will get back to the House.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls on a supplementary.

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Speaker, my third and final question to the minister concerns the handling and storage of this highly dangerous mineral. Since this project was released from further environmental assessment on July 5 of this year, and since antimony has been listed under the hazardous substance list, can the minister advise what, if any, procedures are in place for the proper storage and handling of this potentially dangerous and deadly mineral?

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

MR. AYLWARD: Again what I will say is that there is a protection plan normally filed with the department before any type of industrial activity is undertaken. Our regulations cover this, and I will undertake to get the details.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, we have so much mining development going on in this Province because of this government's policies, it is hard to keep up with on a day-to-day basis, I have to tell you, so I will make sure, though, I will undertake to get the details of the protection plan that has been filed, because there would have been a protection plan filed for any type of industrial activity of this magnitude.

Thank you.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Mr. Minister, in recent years your department has eliminated motor vehicle inspections, laid off hundreds of employees, and is now deregulating the motor carrier, passenger and freight industry. Aside from the safety question, how does the minister see the deregulating of the industry impacting upon the motor carrier industry?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have to apologize to the hon. member, but there was so much talk I did not hear the last part of his question; I could not hear it.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: I will repeat the question, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: I will read it again; yes, I will.

In recent years your department has eliminated motor vehicle inspections, laid off hundreds of employees, and is now deregulating the motor carrier, passenger and freight industry. Aside from the safety question, how does the minister see the deregulating of the industry impacting upon the motor carrier industry?

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

How do I see the deregulation process impacting upon the motor carrier industry? Very simply, very positive. The one thing that governments have been involved with in the past is too many regulations involving private industry, and allowing them to go out there and compete in a fair and equitable manner in the private business sector. What we, as a government, have been doing over the past couple of years, through all deregulation, especially in the motor carrier and transport industry, is to deregulate only as long as safety is met on the highways. The motor carrier industry will be a free and competitive industry, to go out there and compete for business at will, as any industry should be.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

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

With respect to deregulating, I would say to the minister, he needs to know what and where to deregulate. A few years ago this government placed a moratorium on the issuing of public service freight certificates. Now we see the minister basically permitting a free-for-all in the dump truck industry. Does the minister realize that deregulating the industry could allow the larger trucking companies to price individual owners out of business? How many more jobs are they bent on railroading out of this Province?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, when there was a freeze put on the dump truck industry, the carrier plates, there were something like 675 independently-owned dump trucks in the Province. There was enough business in the construction industry for about 350 - 375 trucks on an annual basis, which means there were 200 - 300 trucks without any work. So only those who could get it or get to the contract could get the work. But I believed, in my years in the business, in government staying out of my business and letting me operate my business and compete in a fair equitable market. Six to seven hundred truckers, they all have a fair and equal opportunity to go out there and get their share of the business. I believe it will work opposite to what the hon. member said and that the larger companies will not now buy truckers because they will get a better price, and they will give more business to the independent truckers instead of having a dozen or fifteen or twenty trucks in their yard which they have to maintain, pay mechanics and pay for all the service of those particular trucks.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the minister that some of the construction companies out there now may set their own prices for the individual truckers and it will be pretty low and not enough to live on. I say to the minister, with the dropping of the motor vehicle inspections, one can see more junk on our highways. With deregulating the motor carrier safety rating before a certificate is issued, it may be dropped. If this is so - and will our highways be less safe because of the actions by you as minister? I would like to repeat that: With deregulating the motor carrier safety rating before a certificate is issued, it may be dropped. If this is so, will our highways be less safe because of the actions of the minister?

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

MR. EFFORD: In answer to the first part of his preamble - because I need to deal with that before I get into the issue about safety -if this government ran the Province of Newfoundland the way the former government, the Tory Government, did through the 1970s and part of the 1980s, we would be no longer a Province. We would be let loose and financially ruined. So the decisions that we make are not Tory decisions, they are decisions for the best interest of the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: As far as the safety issue is concerned, we are not deregulating safety. Safety is a number one issue on all vehicles on the highway. Commercial vehicles still have to go through a regular inspection carried out by a proper inspection manual issued by the Department of Motor Registration.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice.

A little over a year ago, Mr. Speaker, the Hiland Insurance issue in the Province highlighted the news every day of the week, there were some 20,000 policy holders affected by the demise of that particular company, Mr. Speaker. On or about October 3, 1994 Hiland Insurance, their licence cancelled, went into receivership. About the same time, the Superintendent of Insurance, Mr. Tapper, was suspended. Could the minister tell the House today if that is still so and is it with or without pay?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. gentleman for his question. It is the second time today I have been asked that. A gentleman from The Evening Telegram rang me this morning and asked exactly the same question. I am not saying there is any connection but The Evening Telegram's exclusive story will now become one for the whole world - that's fair enough. Mr. Tapper is still on suspension and he has been suspended with pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: With pay.

MR. ROBERTS: With pay, yes.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that it has been a little over a year ago, could the minister tell the House who is running the day-to-day affairs of that particular office, who is monitoring the activities of insurance companies in the Province and anything else that comes under that particular heading? And, could he inform the House of the status of the RCMP investigation into that particular issue?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, to answer the hon. member's second question, first, I have no information on the RCM Police investigation. In the normal event, the only thing I or anybody else would hear is an announcement by the RCM Police when they have concluded their investigation. If charges are laid, that will become public. If charges are not laid, given the amount of attention the matter has properly attracted, it is their practice to make an announcement that no charges will be laid. But I have no information, nor would I receive any, and indeed, I think the hon. gentleman would agree, it would be inappropriate at best if I did receive information. I know it has not been concluded because there has been no announcement of any sort.

The hon. gentleman's first question was: who is responsible? There is an Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Mr. Winston Morris, who has been seconded from the finance department; these are appointments, of course, by the Cabinet, at the nomination of the Premier. This is the established practice. Mr. Morris, I can say, in his station is doing a superb job and I am confident the ADM's role is in good hands and, in due course, the Cabinet will have to decide you know, what happens. But there are still some issues that have not yet been fully explored, one of them is the police issue, the matters referred to the police, there are other issues that still have to be resolved.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Could the minister give the House sort of a status of what's happening with regard to the receivers down there? I think they are Coopers & Lybrand. Also, can he inform the House or tell the House if there have been any other applications from any other companies in the Province or any other people interested in setting up insurance companies in the Province?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, again, if I may answer the hon. gentleman's second question first: To the best of my knowledge, there have been no further applications of any sort from somebody wishing to incorporate a company in Newfoundland and Labrador under the Newfoundland and Labrador Legislation. I will have that checked because these things may not come to me, it is not necessary for them to come to the minister, but subject to further correction should I learn differently, the answer is that there have been no new incorporates. There are at present five companies carrying on business actively incorporated under our legislation. There are many other companies who register here and are incorporated elsewhere - register here to carry on business. There may well have been new registrations coming in this year, I mean, that's normal, companies come and companies go from what they call the market.

His other question had to do with the status of the receivers. I have heard nothing further. The trail of events with Hiland was that at the recommendation of Mr. Tapper, as Superintendent, I put them under a temporary custodianship; I think it was early last October that Mr. Tapper became the custodian. As soon as he had access to the records of the company and was able to make a judgement, he applied to the court, under the Winding Up Act of Canada, the court made that order, the receivers were appointed and they are administering it, we have no further involvement with it in that context. The receivers will report to the Trial Division of the Supreme Court.

If the hon. gentleman wants, I could get some more information or he could apply to Coopers & Lybrand, who, I am sure, would be happy to answer any other detailed questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley. There is time for one quick question.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I wonder would the minister tell the House, on what conditions would Mr. Tapper be reinstated? Would it be conditional on the results of the RCMP investigation and the winding up of the receivership, or both, or what? What would be the conditions of Mr. Tapper's reinstatement?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There have been no stated conditions. These appointments are the prerogative of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the Cabinet, on the nomination of the Premier; that has been the practice, certainly since Confederation, and I would assume, before. I would assume that when we have come to the point where I am able to come to the Premier and our colleagues and say, here is a complete report and here is my judgement and so forth on the issues involved, then these matters will be addressed. I would hope that would be sooner rather than later; it is a difficult position. We have an Acting Assistant Deputy Minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, let's get it clear, Mr. Tapper's being put on paid leave, which is where he is, in effect, was not the result of Hiland. It is very clear, in my judgement, Hiland, Mr. Tapper and all concerned in the regulatory side did their job and did it extremely well. Where we got into some trouble was the issue that came up in January.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry. If hon. members want to ask a question, Mr. Speaker, they should try and get your eye and I will be glad to answer them. Where Mr. Tapper has been placed on -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to conclude his answer.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you.

Mr. Tapper was placed on leave, or whatever the correct phrase is, in January as a result of certain events involving Caribou, which is not an insurance company. Caribou was an investment company - I forget the exact name but hon. gentlemen in the House will know to what I refer. There is no connection with the Hiland thing at all.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, this is Private Members' Day. It is the day when, according to the rules, a member on this side has the right to propose it, so I would ask that you call Motion No. 16 in the name of my friend, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 16.

The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to begin, if I could, by simply recapping some of the highlights of the motion that I want to present today. Basically, those key items or ideas are that the crossing known as the Cabot Strait between Port aux Basques and North Sydney is, in itself, essential, is, in itself, of extreme economic importance to our Province, and indeed, is an important social link between our Province and the rest of Canada.

I want throughout the afternoon, myself, and I'm sure other colleagues here in the House who will participate in the debate, will want to emphasize also that it is now, or it will be within the twelve months, the main service offered in Atlantic Canada by Marine Atlantic - with the other services being offered by Marine Atlantic in Atlantic Canada that this is the only essential service. Marine Atlantic at the present time offers services between Nova Scotia and Bar Harbour, Maine, currently, of course, offering service between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I think most of us in this Assembly and indeed in the Province and Atlantic Canada realize that within a matter of a year there will be a fixed link between New Brunswick and P.E.I., so that will no longer require the ferry service as we do. Therefore, there will be in all of Canada only one essential service left, and that will be the North Sydney-Port aux Basques run.

What I'm asking the hon. House today to do is to join with me in this debate, and also at the end of the day to hopefully declare and ask this hon. House to inform the Federal Government in Ottawa that the route between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, commonly known as the Cabot Strait, be declared an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway; that under Term 32 of the Terms of Union, that ninety miles of water is indeed looked upon as ninety miles of rail bed. Therefore, I would look upon it today, and ask the House to look upon it, as ninety miles, an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Mr. Speaker, in doing that, I think also it should be very important to realize that not only are we concerned with Marine Atlantic's activities and their management of the route between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, but I think also we have to be very conscious and cognizant of the employees who are involved and work for that service, as well. In wanting to have this Legislature ask Ottawa to declare that ninety miles as an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, I feel also that we have to take into consideration the employees.

With that in mind, part two of my resolution asks that not only the employees be declared essential to our Province in maintaining and ensuring that there is not an interruption in the ferry service between our Province and mainland Canada, but on behalf of the employees, to put in place a dispute mechanism whereby they could either: one, go to, be it arbitration, or two, binding arbitration that would give the employees an opportunity to continue to work, while at the same time, not being concerned that their livelihood is slowly being eroded by the corporation which manages that service.

Now, Mr. Speaker, since 1949 and under the Terms of Union the Federal Government in Ottawa has assumed responsibility to maintain an adequate service between the Province and mainland Canada. That right has been administered originally by CN, since then by a number of other agencies through the Ministry of Transport, and now is currently operated by Marine Atlantic.

The concept of the distance between Newfoundland, the Island portion of our Province, and North Sydney being declared an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway is not a new one. Indeed, a Royal Commission on Transportation in 1966, chaired by the hon. Phil Lewis at the time, alluded to this being carried out as well. There have been a number of reports since that have also alluded to the fact that, that portion of water should be looked up as an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Mr. Speaker, in the case of the link and the recognition of that portion being an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, I do not believe as much that it is an idea whose time has come, I believe moreso that for us in this Province, it is a right unclaimed. If we look at the history of this great country of Canada, we will see that the idea of linking Canada from East to West with a rail service was one that was paramount in the bringing together of this great country called Canada, and that the Federal Government, in its day, and in its wisdom, went through insurmountable objects, and went through not only mountains and valleys, and so on, to get between the Prairie Provinces and British Columbia, but they were able to build a rail bed between the two.

I think we have now, Mr. Speaker, to look at - and I am asking this hon. House this afternoon - to look at the concept of declaring the distance between North Sydney and our Province as an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway. I think when we say an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, we are also saying that the cost to travel that distance must also be equivalent to, equal to, what it would cost to travel that distance by motorcar.

Whether an individual were travelling in a passenger car, a bus, or whatever mode of transportation, the cost to travel that ninety miles should equal no more than what it would cost if you were travelling ninety miles on the Trans-Canada Highway. As I said, Mr. Speaker, I believe that for us in this Province it is now a right unclaimed. One of the aspects we have to be conscious of, as well, is that in 1989, our own Provincial Government, and previous governments before, have called upon Ottawa to lower the rates in terms of the cost of transportation between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, many, many times.

In 1989, this government took a different approach. This government said: what we should do is ask Ottawa to do as we have done ourselves. And I think most of us who have parts of our districts, and indeed constituents who are serviced by some form of marine transportation, saw a dramatic decrease in the cost of travel from what would be known as the mainland portion of our Province, or the Island portion of our Province, and the smaller out-islands.

In my own district, Bell Island is an example. Fogo is an example. Change Islands is an example, and there are many others like that. I think, what we are seeing, and what we are asking Ottawa to do today, is, do as we have done ourselves. Look at reducing the rates for transportation for people coming to and going from our Province, bringing those rates down so that they are equal to what transportation would be if we were to travel by car.

From an economic point of view, Mr. Speaker, one would automatically think in terms of the tourism field. I am going to save my comments for that probably for closing because I am sure other members here today speaking will want to cover that aspect. Sometimes we overlook the overall economic impact on transportation in our Province in terms of the amount of goods that are coming in by tractor-trailers through the Gulf to meet the economic needs of our Province.

That is everything from the food that we consume to the raw materials that we bring into Newfoundland in order to manufacture goods that we, in turn, ship back to other parts of Canada and indeed to other parts of North America. All of us know the impact that freight rates have and will have on everything from our fishing industry through to our manufacturing industry. I think these are the aspects that we have to look at, as well.

We also have to get past the point where consistently and year after year, we have the threat of a strike that will not only shut down the tourism industry, but at the same time, has the potential of shutting down the economic lifeline to a lot of our manufacturing industries, as well. Newfoundland is fast becoming a major player in the hi-tech industries of North America. We are fast becoming in the hi-tech industry - I would say, probably more hi-tech companies are being developed in Newfoundland than anywhere else in Canada on a per capita basis.

With that in mind, Mr. Speaker, those industries, as well, can see their own doors close if we continue to live with the possibilities of continuing threats of strikes. It costs them that much more in their own capitalization to make sure that sufficient inventories are maintained. Today, as all of us, and anyone who has been involved in small business knows, finding those extra dollars, either from your own bank account or from a bank, becomes harder and harder. Most people work on a system today in the manufacturing industry by which you only carry enough inventory to meet your needs at this point in time, and a very short distance in the future.

That is the reason why I believe, in part two of my resolution, that the employees of Marine Atlantic should be declared essential, and, as I said, while being declared essential that they also are protected so that there is a mechanism in place to make sure that they are not left behind in terms of their own economic needs.

I said also that when reviewing this we have to be cognizant of the requirements, and indeed, the needs of the travelling public. I think many of us who have had an opportunity either to talk to constituents, or have had the opportunity ourselves to travel on the ferry service, will begin to realize very quickly that because it is the only fixed link between our Island portion of the Province and the rest of Canada, we have to accept whatever is being thrown at us. They tell me that if you are travelling on one of the ships in the summertime when indeed 80 per cent of, I would say, Marine Atlantic's business is carried out, that we aren't much better than a cattle car. We aren't much better than what we would see in video clips of Third World countries where people are literally sleeping wherever they can find room to sleep. That isn't what we are looking for in terms of meeting the needs of the travelling public in this Province.

I understand that we have a number of other people who want to speak to this issue today. What I'm going to do is allow them as much time as possible. I understand that I have probably sixty seconds left on this opening statement myself.

The premise is very simple, that today we are, and will be within the next twelve months, the only province without a fixed link to the rest of Canada. I believe, as I said earlier, that it is not as much an idea whose time has come, but it is a right unclaimed that that ninety miles of water now be declared an extension to the Trans-Canada Highway.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise in my place today and speak on the resolution put forward by the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. It is not only a timely resolution; it is a very important resolution from my perspective. It is timely with respect to its being in the media now at this point in time, but it is also timely because if something can be adopted along the terms of this resolution, it can be put in place for the tourist season next year, and I think that is all-important.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island spoke about this service being a main service and an essential service. I believe that would be hard to argue with, and I agree with that point of view.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say to the D.T.E. on the other side over there that he should sit quietly, pay attention, and he might learn something.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to essential services, it is the only essential service in Canada now with respect to transportation, ninety miles of water between us and the mainland. The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island says that it was once considered ninety miles of rail bed, and it should now be considered an extension to the Trans-Canada Highway, and I also agree with that.

Another point that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island referred to is the fact that the employees of Marine Atlantic on this service are a very important factor, and the people who should be considered, and I want to say a few more words about that in due course.

He also made the comment that this is not a new idea, that it has been brought up on a number of occasions before. This is my first time elected as an MHA, and probably the fifth time sitting in the House, and from what I can gather this has been discussed on a number of occasions in the past.

Mr. Speaker, I agree that the Gulf crossing is vital to the economic development of this Province. There are no `ifs, ands or buts' about that, and I believe anybody with any common sense would agree with that. The trucking and the freight industry of this Province depend heavily upon the ferry service. Any time that you drive across this Province, drive the Trans-Canada Highway, you will pass literally hundreds of tractor-trailers bringing cargo from the States and mainland Canada into Newfoundland and Labrador. Also, the reverse of that is happening, in that these trucks also carry freight and cargo out of the Province.

I also agree that the tourism industry in this Province depends heavily upon the Gulf ferry service. We have, especially during the summer months, I would say, from May to October, thousands and thousands of vehicles coming into this Province on the ferry service from North Sydney. It is also, in itself, very important with respect to the transportation of people, Mr. Speaker. Tourists come to this Province with their trailers in tow, and they travel the Northern Peninsula, the Burin Peninsula, the Bonavista Peninsula, the Avalon Peninsula, and all areas in between, and they spend their money.

The business people in this Province also believe this is a very essential service, and not only do the business people, but I believe all people in the Province believe this is an essential service and should be classified as an essential service. Not only the general public and business and industry in the Province, but I think the workers themselves on the ferry service also believe that this is an essential service. Obviously, it is. I believe that deep down in their stomachs, in their bellies, they do believe this is an essential service because literally thousands of people each year utilize this service.

The Trans-Canada Highway, obviously - there are no `ifs ands or buts' about that either, Mr. Speaker - is a public service. It is maintained by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. We have the Federal Government spending money on the Trans-Canada Highway each year. With the Roads for Rail Agreement, I believe there was $800 million set aside for highways within this Province, $235 million for regional roads, from what I can gather, and the rest - or most of it is to be spent on the Trans-Canada Highway. So if that kind of money is being spent, obviously, the service itself should be considered an essential service and an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway.

It is easy to make an argument to designate the Port aux Basques - North Sydney service as an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway and an essential service. Is it proper or reasonable for any group within the Province or on the service itself, the North Sydney Port aux Basques service, would it be fair or reasonable to allow these people to shut down this service on the Trans-Canada Highway? For example, Mr. Speaker, would it be reasonable to expect people who work in Terra Nova National Park, and I believe the highway within the park is the responsibility of the federal government, to allow people in the park to picket the Trans-Canada Highway and close that down? I don't think that's reasonable and should never be permitted, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when we have a threat of a strike, obviously there is an immediate loss of bookings to possibly hundreds of facilities within this Province. It has a negative impact upon the tourism industry of this Province when we have just a threat of a strike. We have hotels, motels, restaurants lose money just because of the threat of a strike. Can you imagine how much money we lose if there is an actual strike in itself? We have gas stations that would lose money with the threat of a strike because we don't have people coming here to spend their money. Convenience stores in the small communities, the selling of small tokens in home-made products and what have you in the Province, just with the threat of a strike, we lose money.

We have hunting and fishing outfitters in the Province lose money with the threat of a strike and, something that the government should really consider here of course, is that the provincial treasury loses revenues when we have a threat of a strike and I am sure if we have a strike in itself. RST sales would be down, GST, licences, permits, et cetera, all bring revenues to the Province and this affects, when we have a threat of a strike on the ferry, Mr. Speaker, all of us negatively. How much does an actual strike cost, Mr. Speaker? I don't know and I wouldn't be able to put a figure on it.

The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island mentioned the terms of union in 1949 when we joined Confederation, and with respect to the Gulf ferry crossing, it was guaranteed that we would have that service. Mr. Speaker, the workers on the service itself, on the ferry, I believe have a very legitimate concern when we talk about strikes, job losses, what have you and rightly so. With respect to the federal and provincial cutbacks over the past number of years, these people have a real concern that they may lose their jobs and I will say a few words on that later on.

The Coast Guard now, Mr. Speaker, is talking about setting the safe-manning level at thirty-one on the Gulf ferry on the Joseph and Clara Smallwood and the Caribou. Now, Mr. Speaker, the present crew is set at fifty-five and the crew members themselves have different responsibilities of course, with respect to onloading, offloading, restaurant services, cleaning services, safety services, et cetera, lifeboats, fire protection, fire evacuation and so on. Mr. Speaker, I have some facts here.

At this point in time, the Canadian Coast Guard basically agreed on a safe-manning level of fifty-five during winter and eighty-five during the summer for the Caribou and Smallwood. Now, Mr. Speaker, they are talking about cutting that down to thirty-one; it was all for a fire party and an evacuation party. With these many in the crew, it will also utilize all six MES stations, and MES is a Marine Evacuation System. Each station has eight life rafts.

Currently, Marine Atlantic is in the process of negotiating that down from fifty-five to thirty-one in winter and eighty-five to fifty-five in the summertime, and I believe that the people working on those ferries have some legitimate concerns with respect to safety if these numbers are actually approved. With the proposed thirty-one in a crew, only one MES station would be utilized which consists of eight life rafts. With 300 passengers and crew, each life raft will be crammed with approximately forty-two persons. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that is a very safety-minded situation. From what I can gather, on the ferry itself, you need both parties. You need evacuation party and the fire party to allow for proper safety conditions in the situation if a fire arose.


Marine Atlantic at this point in time, Mr. Speaker, is talking about cutting $98 million down to approximately $29 million over the next two years. I would like to know how much of that would be cut from the gulf service? What impact will that cut have on the travelling population of Newfoundland and Labrador in due course? Mr. Speaker, is the next step, with respect to Marine Atlantic, and the privatization of the gulf service - is that a possibility, the privatization of the gulf service? We have seen this federal government privatizing airports and we saw jobs lost.

The CN buses across this Province now are up for tender on the Trans-Canada Highway. I recently put out a press release with respect to the Trans-Canada Highway and the CN buses being privatised. Some of the concerns I had at that point in time, Mr. Speaker, were job losses again, schedule changes, service reduction and cost increases. Now the Member for Mount Scio-Bell Island brought up a very legitimate point of course and that was the cost of the transportation on the ferry itself across the gulf. It is getting more and more each year and harder and harder on the people of the Province, it is affecting the tourism industry in this Province. I agree with the Member for Mount Scio-Bell Island saying that the cost to travel that ferry should be no more than if you were travelling the Trans-Canada Highway, ninety miles on the Trans-Canada Highway.

We have seen the South Coast ferry privatized recently, Mr. Speaker, from Marine Atlantic and of course with any privatization you are going to have growing problems. I have no major problem with that but maybe one of the problems involved when we are privatizing are the specs. that are put out by the government, Works, Services and Transportation. We have one replacement ferry on this island now for any ferries that may be broken down which makes it a severe deterrent for transportation within the Province. What happens in the case of a breakdown? How long will it take for a replacement ferry to get to the ferry that is broken down? If two ferries break down we would only have one, then there is somebody without transportation within this Province. Cost should not be an over-riding factor with respect to transportation on the gulf ferry. I would say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that if he does not like what I am saying he can leave and go do what he normally does, which isn't very much apparently.

Anyway, back to the gulf crossing, Mr. Speaker, the cost should not be an over-riding factor. The people in this Province are entitled to a service that is adequate, modern and costs no more than travelling on the Trans-Canada Highway. This service was guaranteed in the terms of union and the people deserve, as I said, an acceptable service, a modern service, an efficient and timely service. I believe, with respect to the second part of the resolution, Mr. Speaker, that it is an essential service and a dispute resolution procedure should be put in place. Now this dispute should be resolved in an efficient and timely manner. Of course there are different ways of doing that, maybe a date should be set aside that any disputes that arise would have to be resolved within a certain time each year. Maybe by the end of February so there would be no threat on the tourism service. Disputes arising, as I said, in the summertime could easily be resolved between November and February.

Binding arbitration is another collective bargaining process. No strike agreements are unusual in this day and age. We see that with respect to Hibernia, they had a no strike agreement. Police departments, fire departments and what have you, have no strike agreements. These agreements work, the collective bargaining process can continue and when a dispute arises which cannot be resolved between negotiations an independent arbitrator could be put in place to resolve the issue. I believe that the workers themselves, if they were guaranteed an independent arbitrator and could see that there would be no political interference and that they would be given a fair and reasonable hearing by an independent arbitrator, that they would not strongly oppose such a situation but then I am not working on the ferries. I am sure that these people have concerns that would want to be addressed that I may not even be aware of at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, I will finish up by saying that the resolution is timely and hopefully something can be worked out between Marine Atlantic and the employees of that service to put something of this nature in place.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to speak in this debate today on this timely motion. There are a couple of things I would like to speak about with respect to the situation. First I would like to explain a little bit about growing up in a community where Marine Atlantic operates - previously known as CN. Subsequent to CN and even the Newfoundland Railway Steamship Company, subsequent to CN it became the East Coast Ferry and Marine Services Limited, and a variety of different things up to today's Marine Atlantic name which is used.

Ultimately, it is a federal Crown Corporation, of course, operating under federal law and the Province has very little in the way of any say in its operation, with the exception of expressing to the Government of Canada what we as a Province would like for it to undertake on our behalf. Of course the constitutional obligation of the Government of Canada to provide for the service is not very well defined. It is to provide such a service.

The feeling in the community of Port aux Basques is often that the service has been at times downgraded. The concerns of the workers who are Marine Atlantic employees, a lot of them my own friends and family, is something that is very close to home. The motion as put forward by the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is, as I mentioned, timely. Those of us who are aware, Marine Atlantic and their workers, that the CAW union are currently embroiled in a difficult situation.

Namely, there was a tentative agreement that has been agreed to, and the two main workforces would be, of course, the PEI, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick workforce, as well as the Gulf ferry workforce and there are others scattered throughout the service. Those two locals, I suppose, those two brotherhoods of workers came to a situation where it was very difficult. They had some dealing with laying off the workers in PEI and they had to determine how they were going to handle that. A package was negotiated but it was not all they wanted, and likewise the situation with the workers on the Gulf ferry service was not all that was wanted at that time.

The reason why I mention all of this is because it leads us to the situation that has now occurred which is a situation where a tentative agreement which had originally been agreed to has now been rejected by the membership. Now, that is not untoward, that happens in the collective bargaining process, but at this stage this motion today, of course, is the heart of the situation because we are now about to face the potential effect of a strike, or the talk of a strike.

The way it is in the tourism industry, and my understanding of it having dealt with tourism operators and the general public, is that the talk of a strike can probably be worse than a strike, because the speaking of it and the touting it as a possibility, either by the media or by the individuals concerned, can cause the effect of preventing people from making that reservation or making plans to come to the Province next year. It can throw off the plans and the overall stability of the business community of Newfoundland and Labrador in having the people who normally operate a truck service bringing freight to Newfoundland via the Gulf ferry service and through Argentia, they certainly would think twice about committing themselves to certain deliveries and certain timely operations guaranteeing the timeliness of freight delivery to customers on the basis that a lot of them now are guaranteeing freight delivery in a very short period of time. That ability to deliver the goods and services to the Province on that timely basis is very necessary for them to maintain their quality of service to their customers.

All of these things of course are now tied up in the problem associated with talk of a strike. The newspaper articles that I've read concerning this issue don't say that the unions is out speaking about the possibility of a strike. But it is only right, I would say, for the media to question as to whether they will be considering this. A strike at this point in time, although it would affect all of the people of the Province, wouldn't have as bad an affect on the tourism industry. Hence you would have the union avoiding that kind of action until such time as a strike of some nature would potentially do the most damage, and therefore be avoided as much as possible by management of the company.

The motion as put forward by the hon. member does state that it be declared an essential service. There is no doubt that it is an essential service. I live with it day-to-day. Going through the years, growing up with it, and even to the point of the strike that was there in, I think, 1973, or 1972, the strike that was there that summer. I remember selling sandwiches to the tourists who were held up in the Port aux Basques area. The run of cars running all the way up the highway. People who were displaced from their jobs, who had difficulty getting back home to the mainland. Flying wasn't as common then as it is now. If you think back to some twenty-five years ago, to fly was something that was done much less easily and it was much more expensive in comparison to travelling by car. I remember we used to take people into our houses and look after them. The Lion's Club put on a good effort at feeding the people who were displaced. It was really an all-out community effort, and the community certainly came together to help. The strike was something that went ahead and it did tie things up at that time.

Now tourism is seen as a much bigger part of the Newfoundland economy. At that time there might not have been as much realization that tourism is something that is very necessary, and certainly a part of the overall economic factors which affect the Province, one of our biggest industries, considered to be an export industry, bringing new dollars in from outside of the Province. To look at that we would have to wonder: Do the workers at Marine Atlantic have the right to affect the whole Province in this way?

I, as a matter of personal conscience, do feel that workers should have the right to withdraw services in all but the essential situations. The Marine Atlantic ferry service is to me an essential service. As such I feel that there should be some variation on this particular theme as it was mentioned by the hon. member. As to whether they should be able to threaten strike and then strike may not be the best case. Maybe a binding arbitration would be a better method of settling issues such as this. I can't say that it would for sure because I do feel that everyone should have the right, and of course in a situation like this, as essential employees, there is nothing to stop workers from withdrawing their services. It is just that the penalties then are much more severe for having done it illegally in light of essential service legislation.

The situation as it is currently constituted with the collective bargaining process unresolved is something that we hope will resolve itself through Marine Atlantic and the workers redoubling their efforts to help the economy. The difficulty of course is, can they do so without a nudge from either the Government of Canada in trying to resolve the issue, or will it lie dormant until such time as they can do significant damage to the tourism industry and to the Province as a whole, as we are hopefully going to manage to get ourselves back on our feet economically with new developments and new industry, and with the tourism industry producing and benefitting all of the people of the Province through the increased economic activity that is evident from a good tourist season.

This past summer we had the situation where a potential strike was spoken of. Tourism operators did not seem to feel much of an effect because the issue was resolved prior to the tourist season, but I still feel that it certainly did affect the operators of these tourist establishments. There were many more who potentially, I would think, would have come if they had not heard talk of a strike, and that certainly was a potential problem there.

The adequacy of services that Marine Atlantic puts forward, and, of course, as the hon. member mentioned, I have been speaking to the local union people and do have some information on the manning levels, and this is one issue which has really inflamed the membership because Marine Atlantic, in the efforts of trying to, I suppose, cut costs and make their service more efficient, have approached the Canadian Coast Guard to see if the manning levels of the vessels can be lowered, and going from some eighty-five to fifty-five in the summer, fifty-five to thirty-one in the winter, as minimum levels of people. In my estimation, being a frequent traveller on these vessels, not from any standpoint of being well trained in marine safety or marine engineering, I do not feel that these figures would adequately reflect the necessity. In my estimation, the figures of eighty-five in the summer and fifty-five in the winter are bare, essential numbers of crew to have aboard these vessels. If we are going to accept less as far as the numbers of crew go, then I would certainly want them to do more than just to suggest to the Coast Guard that they can get by with less, and operate one marine evacuation system, or a fire in the event of a fire.

I have seen marine fires in the Town of Port aux Basques with some vessels, the Hopedale, burned - by the dockside, luckily - but seeing the situation that can occur with marine vessels on fire, and also seeing the regular practices of marine safety evacuation that are carried out by the crews of the Marine Atlantic vessels, and also looking at the history of the Gulf service, where we have lost many of our communities' people who have plied the Gulf for their own living, for their families' wellbeing, and for the wellbeing of the travelling public, and to see the things that have happened in the past, and how we have improved marine safety to a point where we have a better grasp of marine dynamics and engineering, and the safety considerations that should be taken in dealing with the ferries and the ferry service in tying into the number of passengers that you are carrying at any given time, so I really think that this issue has to be resolved, and resolved quickly.

I have met with the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to suggest that he get involved with his colleague nationally, the federal Minister of Labour, and labour standards people, to assure the people of the Province who travel regularly, and the people of the Province who work on these vessels, even though it is not under provincial jurisdiction, but to assure us that this will be a safe operation. I think if we can resolve that issue, then we can get down to resolving this and put the labour difficulties to bed once and for all, and then hopefully help them and work closely with the union, and work closely with Marine Atlantic in whatever way we, as a provincial government can, in helping to work out a system that satisfies labour and management both. I know that management of governments, management of Crown corporations, and management of private business do not like the utilization of binding arbitration. It is something that adds an unknown entity to your overall financial management of a company. Because of that, binding arbitration is usually shied away from. I think we have to look at it in light of the essential service concept.

If there is some variation in there somewhere, if there is some creative way of making this work to the benefit of the many workers from my home town, from other places all over the West Coast, all over the Province and as well making it work for the management of Marine Atlantic whose interest it is to get the overall financial considerations that are put forward for the gulf service under control and to a point where they can operate a more effective, efficient service, in that light, it is not just a matter of cost cutting. It is the typical draconian management measure to think that all of your costs are associated with the number of people you have and that is not the case.

In a lot of cases they have proven that a lot of the downsizing that has been performed in private corporations that are offering services to the public, that a lot of these efforts have brought about significant changes in the operation of the companies but have not necessarily improved services and may not necessarily have improved the bottom lines of the companies and the companies operations, as it was originally thought that getting rid of a lot of these employees would do. It was certainly the kind of thing that's flowed through our society over the last ten to fifteen years and it is the kind of thing that we have to look at as being inadequate, I think, as the total solution to the financial problems associated with looking after the bottom line in any business operation, be it Crown corporation, be it government itself or even to a point of it being a private company.

The quality of service is a key of course and as Marine Atlantic offers a better quality service to the travelling public then we can help use that as a lever to get more people utilizing the service, to be pleased with the operation and to be comfortable in coming to the Province. To enjoy their stay when they are here and hope that they come back again. If we look after the travelling public properly, if we help maintain the efficiency and the on time delivery of goods and services to the Province then those things will help us get to a point where hopefully everything -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: The public, no problem. LaPoile, has no problem. Do you want to come?


MR. RAMSAY: Anyway, the two issues of course that come to light right now are the treatment by Marine Atlantic of the employees. They take this as an affront, and I understand that, that Marine Atlantic approached the Coast Guard in the middle of the signing of a collective agreement and that has to be looked at. I think that Marine Atlantic could certainly do well to take this issue, do what they can to help resolve the manning levels quickly and then based on that, see to it that we - along with the union and the Government of Canada - put something in there that will benefit each and every one of us, the Marine Atlantic workers, the people in the other parts of the transportation industry, the people in the tourism industry so that together we can go forward without the fear and the threat of strike causing us economic difficulties for time immemorial if we don't do something about it. So I am sure that they would be much more pleased to have a dispute settlement mechanism that does not put them into a situation where they are fearful of having to leave their job and strike, maintaining a situation where they have no income or little income coming in from a strike fund. They would much prefer to have disputes resolved on a timely basis and therefore do their best to offer good service to the people of the Province.

As far as the hon. member's motion - of course I think I have addressed all of the aspects of it - designating it as an extension to the Trans Canada Highway is certainly something that we can say and everyone knows that it is, it is an element of the Trans Canada Highway. The only other part of the Trans Canada Highway that would not be maintained, I guess, would be the linkage between Vancouver - Victoria, Vancouver Island that area is also, I think, it is the Trans Canada on Vancouver Island as well, if I understand it correctly. So that is the only other essential area that we can even look at.

Insofar as to have it mirror the provincial system where we charge rates on provincial ferries that are essentially the road equivalent to travel on the ferry. In a case like that, if you were to do so for Marine Atlantic you would probably have, I would say, on the order of doubling of the amount of cost in offering the service to Marine Atlantic. I am not sure what the revenue amounts are on the Marine Atlantic service but I think that - it would certainly be a possibility of doubling the costs. In doing that we would certainly know that that is probably beyond the Government of Canada's capability, but certainly something to consider. Because we don't want the prices of travel on the Marine Atlantic ferries to become prohibitive and to hurt the Province instead of providing something there that links us to the mainland and helps us in the overall.

That dispute resolution procedure - like I say, come up with some method that doesn't necessarily meet the full binding arbitration test, but also doesn't hamstring the management and the workers and puts them into a situation that is untenable.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will have a listen to the other members who intend to speak on this issue. Thank you.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the opportunity to have a few words on this particular resolution. A very timely resolution. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, a bit late, really. But I suppose never too late if we can get some of the things, some of the be it resolveds in this particular resolution, looked at by the federal government.

The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island mentioned in his opening statement that since 1989 the Province has been lowering the rates in the Province to accommodate some of the ferry services in the Province, or stabilizing it. Either stabilizing it or lowering some of the rates. This is what the federal government should do in this case, no question. You can't argue with that. You can't really argue with anything that is in this particular resolution. It is a motherhood issue and one that should pretty well go through the Legislature this evening without any problems whatsoever.

However, I remember being in government from 1985 to 1989 and talking to the federal government at the time concerning this particular - from the ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, and some of the concerns that are already mentioned in this particular resolution by the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. We never got very far with it at that time. Marine Atlantic being a Crown corporation and so on. Since 1989 the government of the day - I don't know how many meetings have been held. I don't know what interventions were made or what kind of a dialogue the provincial government today is after having with the federal government concerning the same issue. That is a question that I would like to have answered. Maybe when the minister gets up to speak he can answer it for me. I suspect that there has been very little if any as it pertains to the ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney and the ferry service between Argentia and the mainland of Canada.

When I look back at some of the comments made by the federal minister in the new Liberal government in Ottawa since 1993 as it pertains to transportation in this country I am a bit hesitant to think that something positive will be done in the very near future, especially as it pertains to the ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

The down loading on the Province and the provinces with regards to the transportation sector in this Province has - never in the history of the Province have you seen so much down loading in such a short period of time. In the last two years - you talk about the airports, you talk about new port charges coming into place, you talk about the South Coast ferry service that was taken over just in the past year or so and the mess that is in. You talk about the Dockyard and so on. You talk about - just a program yesterday, the RRAP, gone. I heard members opposite say time and time again: All that will change when their political cousins in Ottawa, got in power in October of 1993.

I haven't seen anything change except for the down loading on this Province of the very substantial and necessary transportation sectors that are needed more so than ever in this Province in order for us to keep in contact economically, geographically, politically. No matter what way you want to put it, it crosses all, it crosses everything, political boundaries, economic boundaries, geographic boundaries whatever boundary you can come up with, it crosses all because we all would like to see something done as it pertains to that particular link, the only link with the rest of Canada.

However, some of the comments made by the federal member, the federal minister, Mr. Young, one especially was made June 3, 1994, as it pertains to the direction for transportation in this country as it relates to other provinces and Newfoundland is no exception, and he referred to it as a reality check. Now, in that reality check, he mentioned something about 80 per cent of our marine traffic passes through only thirty out of about 300 public ports, for instance. That's worrisome, Mr. Speaker. The concept of user pay was used throughout that particular speech; user pay in every part of it and I will quote just a couple of short sections: We need a system where every mode pays its own way. It is time for a reality check; it is time to give the frustrated Canadian taxpayer a break. It is time for those who use the transportation systems to pay a fair share so that we can better allocate scarce, financial services and resources.

He goes on to say in that same, particular speech, Mr. Speaker, that the concept of commercialization during his speeches and during his term of office have to be addressed. Commercialization, Mr. Speaker, is another name for privatization, and at the end of his speech, this is exactly what he leads to. The commercialization of anything eventually leads to the privatization sector, Mr. Speaker. He explained that it covers a vast number of options, from government agencies to not-for-profit organizations, to public and private and sector partnerships, to employee-run companies, to Crown Corporations, to privatization. Those are the two which bother me.

Marine Atlantic is a Crown Corporation. Marine Atlantic and CN Marine have been told to get your act together, the axe is going to fall. Become efficient or we will commercialize and eventually privatize your particular operations and an example of that is, the Dockyard, a prime example. An example of that is the airport system, an example of that are the ports in the Province, the new charges, all examples of not commercialization as far as I am concerned, but direct privatization, down loaded on this particular Province by the federal government of the day.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the government of the day cannot sit idly by any longer and let this particular stuff go on. Something has to be done and one of the reasons is, if they get away with privatizing or commercializing Marine Atlantic without addressing the concerns that the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island has in his resolution, we are finished. We are finished. The member alluded to the economics part of it, the tourism part of it, economics especially as it pertains to tourism, the people keeping an inventory say they can't afford, they just do not rate from day to day let alone from week to week, month to month, they cant' carry the lines of credit; they can't pay the interest rates today on the lines of credit because they have no guarantee of sales in the immediate future, they don't know how long they have to carry this. Tractor-trailer traffic on the Gulf is up.

Tourism, yes, tourism; we had a great year for tourism in Humber Valley and I am sure in other parts of the Island as well, all over really, but I know in our part, in Humber Valley Deer Lake area, the Northern Peninsula area, Corner Brook area, we definitely had an increase this year, but one of the things that has to be addressed as the member said is an extension to the Trans-Canada Highway. This has to be addressed, there has to be some money put into that if they are going to commercialize, and we have to be very vigilant. The government has to be very vigilant with regards to this particular issue because this could happen overnight.

We saw what happened in other areas, what happened in the airports, and like I said, now the South Coast ferry service. I can go on with regard to comments made by the federal minister, and our own federal minister in Ottawa, Mr. Tobin. They have just gotten another three-month reprieve, not to bring any of this into place, because under the orders of the Standing Committee on Transportation in Ottawa, they have to report back in 151 days. That time is up, they just asked for an extension and they have been given another three months, and, as I said, we have to be very vigilant on that.

With regard to the essential part, with regard to the dispute resolution, something has to be done there, because we have bus tours being cancelled, we have operators who are booking hotels, motels, and so on, but at the same time, we have to be cognizant of the fact that those employees there have to be treated fairly, properly, have to be treated like human beings. Something has to be put in place, something similar to the Hibernia contract, some kind of a guarantee whereby the workers get a fair and equitable wage and, at the same time, protect the worker and protect the people involved in the tourism industry, the business person, or any other person who might want to avail of that particular service.

It is very important to the economy of this Province, that particular link. Airports today - the federal minister mentioned in one of his reports that 94 per cent of all air passengers and cargo are handled at only twenty-six airports out of 650 in the country, and 84 per cent of all rail traffic is carried on only 33 per cent of our rail lines, and 80 per cent of our marine traffic passes through only thirty out of about 300 public ports.

Now, I say to members opposite that we have, collectively in this House, along with members opposite - but they have to take the lead, because they are the government of the day, and intercede and intervene with their friends in Ottawa to have something done about this particular situation. Our federal member in Ottawa, Mr. Tobin, just the other day, met with the council in Deer Lake wondering what is going to happen to the airports. My colleague, the Minister of Municipal Affairs said in the House, earlier in the year, and my colleague, the Minister of Transportation, said, that they will not bring in amendments to the Municipalities Act so that municipalities in the Province can accommodate the downloading from the Federal Government onto the municipalities in the Province. And I agree with them - there is enough of that being done. That is coming in another couple of year. The time is up for the airports in the Province, especially the smaller airports whereby they have to go out, and they are going to be privatized or commercialized, or whichever. But the day is coming very, very soon when we will have to confront that particular problem. That is another issue for another day.

I think I have only a couple of minutes left, and before my time is up, in the resolution and the `Be it resolved', I would like to move an amendment to this particular resolution, seconded by my colleague, the Member for St. John's East Extern, to move that the resolution before the hon. House of Assembly be amended by adding the following:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Provincial Government request the Federal Government to exclude from their commercialization plans the operation of Marine Atlantic's ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

Now, that is a fair, fair question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: That, to me, Mr. Speaker, is also Motherhood. That to me, also tells the people in Ottawa that we, the fifty-two members in this Legislature, stand together and mean what we say when we are talking about a resolution such as this. The member's resolution is an excellent resolution, very timely, and, as I said, I am sure it will go through the House this evening. I am not trying to railroad or do anything with regard to hurting this resolution, not a bit, but I think, if members opposite -

MR. FUREY: I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if we could table the amendments so we could look at it while the hon. member is speaking, please?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is in order.

MR. FUREY: I would just like to see it.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I meant for someone to come and put that over. I had an extra copy of that, but for the minister's own -

MR. FUREY: They are just going to xerox it for me.

MR. WOODFORD: Well, add to the resolves in the resolution, just `Further resolved' -

MR. FUREY: Be it further resolved.

MR. WOODFORD: BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Provincial Government request the Federal Government to exclude from their commercialization plans the operation of Marine Atlantic's ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

Because as you know, as I just said, you probably didn't notice it, the Standing Committee of the House of Commons on Transportation just gave Doug Young and Brian Tobin an extension - because both of them are in on that particular part of it, the other part with regard to the Coast Guard; that is why Minister Tobin is in on it -an extension of three months. But I also know -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No, to exclude from all other commercializations, whatever they do with regard to privatization or commercialization, the operation of Marine Atlantic's ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, which would -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: No, not the commercialization; this is the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: The service.

MR. WOODFORD: The service.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. WOODFORD: If I could have just another minute, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, by leave, we can just hear the hon. member conclude his amendment, because I interrupted a few times, and I would still like a hard copy of that amendment.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is correct, I wanted to make that quite clear, and I said it in this particular amendment, ferry - ferry - service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney. That is the intent. It doesn't mention anything else about any other privatization, it just pertains to that particular part of it. Because it is coming. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation knows better than I do what is coming down the tube with regard to privatization, because I am sure he has had meetings with Ottawa on that, and he will have more, for sure, because from what I am hearing, I would say he will be pretty busy the next seven or eight months, for sure, with some of the stuff that is probably going to come across his desk with regard to commercialization and privatization of the transportation sector in the Province.

So I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that this particular amendment would be looked at in a positive way. It is not, as I said, to take away from the - and I don't think I structured the question, the BE IT RESOLVED, in such a way that it would take away from the intent of the member's resolution. In fact, I think it would add to the intent of the resolution, and not only that, it would cover all members, cover all the Province, much better than it did before. And just to give the Federal Government - if we vote collectively on such a resolution today, to give them some kind of feeling for how each and every member in this particular House of Assembly feels about the service between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, and make them aware that it is the only link we have with the rest of Canada - the only affordable link, I should say - especially when you talk about it on a twelve-month basis.

My colleague, the Member for Placentia, has his - now, Marine Atlantic operates there in the summertime, and there has been some debate whether that should go year-round and so on, but the only direct link we have now, affordable link, twelve months of the year, is between North Sydney and Port aux Basques, and I think with this resolution, looked at in a favourable manner, especially as it pertains to the amendment, joined with the rest of the resolution, should augur well for the citizens of the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the Chair has ruled that the amendment is in order.


MR. SPEAKER: The amendment is in order.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take just a few minutes, because I think some others of my colleagues want to have a few words on this, and I want to approach it from two different aspects. Number one, I want to support this motion submitted on Private Members' Day by my colleague, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. Living on the Island of Newfoundland, connected by road across the Island to Port aux Basques and by water from Port aux Basques to North Sydney, it is important not only that we ensure that this service is there, but that we ensure a level of service satisfactory to the commuters to and from Newfoundland and Labrador. Equally, or more importantly, is the fact of tourism.

Anybody with any level of understanding of tourism and the future development of this Province realizes how important the impact, the kind of major impact, that tourism is going to have on the future economy of this Province of ours. Our (inaudible) tells us that we have been trying to maintain just a dependency on the resource of our oceans for so long, but over the last few years we have come to realize that can no longer be, and we have to allow ourselves to explore all possibilities.

The Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Culture, in his ability to ensure that our tourism industry grows into the future to the potential that it can - because we often are not promoting the Province in the manner in which we should. I often say we live in the greatest country in the whole of the world, and I know we live in the greatest province in the whole of the country of Canada, bar none. We complain a lot of times. We take a lot of things for granted, and we complain about the weather and sometimes about the fog and different things. But if you travel outside of this Province and outside of this country, you quickly learn to appreciate the value of the pristine environment that we do have here. The more you talk about travellers outside of the Province of Newfoundland, or you talk to them, the more you understand how much they appreciate the Province and how much they would like to visit our Province and spend their money here. That is what tourism is all about, so that we can develop a very sound economic tourism future in this Province of ours. We have a lot to offer but we have to do a lot of work in promoting that, not just in Canada and North America, but right across the world.

In order to do that, in order to encourage people to come into the Province, we must have a mode of transportation that is effective and satisfactory to all types of travellers. We have an air service that is equal to any other part of Canada. We have a road within the Province of Newfoundland, a road service, some - I just forget the exact number, but it is in excess of 9,000 kilometres of road. In my travels in Atlantic Canada, we are far ahead of the rest of Atlantic Canada in our road construction, and that has been happening over the last two or three decades. That is nothing attributable to my personal responsibility as minister, I have only been there a couple of years. This has been ongoing for quite a number of years, the road construction within the Province. If you look across this Province now, we have as good a connecting road system as anywhere in Atlantic Canada, bar none, and that is important to the future development of tourism within the Province.

A great many people, not only people originally from Newfoundland living in other parts of Canada - a lot of people want to travel by vehicle, whether it be by bus or their own personal vehicle, they want to travel to and from Newfoundland in that manner. For anybody planning a vacation outside the Province of Newfoundland, to come home, whether it is a first time visiting the Province or whether they have lived in the Province before and are coming home, one has a limited time to plan one's vacation. Two weeks, in some cases, three weeks, in some cases, or whatever. You save your money for a number of years in order to be able to visit, or to take your family back home to Newfoundland.

The one thing you want to be ensured about is when you get aboard your vehicle, no matter what part of Canada you leave, whether it be Ontario or Quebec or Alberta, and you have a planned vacation, when you get to North Sydney you want to be able to get across that Gulf to Port aux Basques. You also want to have the same level of confidence in returning. It is equally as important to have the same level of confidence, otherwise you have to think twice and you have to cancel your plans, and that is detrimental to the economy and to tourism growth in this Province.

So it is essential that the Federal Government put in a mechanism in place to ensure that people planning a trip to this Province by vehicle, by way of North Sydney to Port aux Basques, can be protected with a level of confidence that they will be able to do this and enjoy their holiday, their vacation, their trip or whatever they plan to do, whether it is business or whatever, to the Island portion of the Province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is equally important that we have another linkage with the rest of our Province to Labrador. This is the reason why I wanted to take just a couple of minutes to put, also, in the minds of our federal counterparts, how important it is to get people from Canada, the rest of the world, into Newfoundland and, at the same time, allow the people of Labrador the same privilege that we would ask for people coming across the Gulf from North Sydney to Port aux Basques. I witnessed, travelling with my colleague, the Member for Eagle River when I visited his district just this past year, the importance to the economic climate of that region of the ferry leaving St. Barbe; and once that ferry went on strike last year, it was devastating - devastating to the local economy, devastating to the people who live there and want to get back to the Island to do their business, devastating to the people planning a vacation, and devastating to the tour groups. So it is equally important for us to make sure that in passing legislation, the Federal Government make North Sydney to Port aux Basques an essential service, not to allow strikes - whatever format they put in place, that the same method, same format or same legislation, is equally done from St. Barbe to the Labrador Coast.

I have to make sure that we have that very clearly understood - the importance of that being extended, outside of the motion that my colleague, the Member for Mount Scio-Bell Island put on the floor. Because he was saying that North Sydney to Port aux Basques should be an extension of the Trans Canada Highway. He is really quite right in asking for that to be done by the Federal Government and to make it an essential service, so that the transporting of people and goods to and from can be without any interruption by the threat of a strike. Well, I just wanted to add that to the same motion without - just bringing the information to the minds of our federal counterparts that when this legislation and the information passes on to Ottawa, we will keep in mind, very strongly, that it will be impressed upon those people that the St. Barbe ferry service - which is a federal responsibility, it is not a provincial responsibility. It is under federal labour relations - that it will be considered and the same type of service implemented.

With those few remarks, Mr. Speaker - my colleague, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation wants to make a few comments because he is responsible for the tourism development of the Province and we all, as hon. members of this House, and every citizen in this Province knows the link that we have with Canada by Marine and how important it is to maintain that essential service. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise here today to address this Private Members' bill.

I worked on the gulf ferries. I started there in 1965 and if I had been sensible enough, I would have stayed there and I would have thirty years in now, but be that as it may, I wasn't much interested in pensions and I left there in 1980.

AN HON. MEMBER: Still not interested.

MR. CAREEN: No, and still not interested in pensions. When I leave my home on Jerseyside, on any given day to come in here, I have never, ever, had to steer around a corpse because they always manage to get buried. So someone will take care of my old carcass when that time comes. But I mean, I am not in here interested in pensions.

Anyway, it was nice to hear the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation go on about the devastating things that are happening elsewhere on our roads and how great they are compared to Nova Scotia. I just wonder what kind of a Minister of Works, Services and Transportation they have over in Nova Scotia. If they are any worse than here, they must have Mullin's dog. They must be like Mullin's dog on his own account over there but getting back to the topic at hand, we all know and we heard for decades, different administrations here, this Province advocating that it should be an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway and it is only right that it should be an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway.

In the Terms of Union with Newfoundland and Canada, a lot of things were neglected because England was mad to put poor, old Newfoundland off on somebody else and Canada wanted to grab Newfoundland because there was an idea of some people here going to the South, they were afraid to leave Newfoundland on its own and that was one of the things that was forgotten in the agreement that we should have had, an extension of the road service and now, decades later, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island brings it up again, following in the path of so many other people ahead of him.

MR. EFFORD: What would you suggest, not to bring it up?

MR. CAREEN: No, I am complimenting the man, and if you keep quiet you might hear something. You have two ears and one tongue which means you should listen twice as much as you speak.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: The minister, the minister, the Monster of Works, Services and Transportation. But it is an essential service, it is an extension, it should be an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway. I mean, we are going to see the linking in PEI, the monies that they will save, the monies they are spending now will contribute and make it much easier to and from that province.

MR. EFFORD: Your are like Frank Moores bringing up a few (inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Well if I had dynamite I would certainly know what to do with it, and if your head was packed with dynamite you wouldn't have enough to blow your nose.

The concern I have with this is item (2) of this bill: Declare Marine Atlantic employees as essential and put in place a dispute resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: Well, you will have to see it, I say to my friend from Mount Scio - Bell Island. I would have to be like Thomas, I would have to see the wounds. I would have to see it before I would personally, myself, for whatever that means, because what we are dealing with now is a federal government with everything on the chopping block. Marine Atlantic plans to go and are being driven by the federal Department of Transport from a $98 million-a-year subsidy down to some $60-odd million. Some of these millions they will save on the PEI service, how much of it are they planning on saving on our backs? If the people who man these ferries are given the same type of treatment in a no strike clause say like Hibernia has been given, where wages that are above par, with other things that go with it, well that, wouldn't be too bad. I wouldn't want to see happen to the Gulf workers, the marine workers on the Gulf, what has happened to the vessels on the South Coast when our Minister of Works, Services and Transportation accepted $55 million to let the federal government off the hook, to take money that was supposed to be put into a fund that would continue on to serve the ferry. The former Minister of Finance took it and put it in place to balance the current account and that is gone, and you have a service down there that the people are crying out about. I wouldn't want to see that happen.

MR. EFFORD: Yes, all twenty.

MR. CAREEN: All twenty. Aren't they important? That is only what you hear. We all hear about more. It is funny that the paper seems to be reporting more than twenty. The open line shows seem to have more than twenty. You have a fixation probably on twenty, or you can't count any higher than twenty.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CAREEN: That is fair enough. He is entitled to that.

There are concerns. Because the federal government - everything from airports, RRAP and everything else, is on the chopping block. The main intent of this, and I compliment the man from Mount Scio - Bell Island, is good. We should have a link, and the cost should be the same as you would your gas mileage. That is what probably you should pay going across the Gulf. The ninety-six, ninety-seven miles it is from North Sydney to Port aux Basques.

I also today would like to make some mention about Argentia. Last year the passenger rate was up in Argentia and down in Port aux Basques. This year Marine Atlantic refused because we've been after them for years, and other people throughout the Province, to put in a proper reservation system. They haven't done it. Since 1965, I know personally, people in this Province, organizations, have been after them to do something about their reservation system, to make a deposit. This year in Argentia they wouldn't allow overbooking and July was a disaster. But I'm not here to take anything away from Port aux Basques. I'm just here to make sure that Argentia isn't caught in the fray, because what we find in ourselves in Argentia now is an orphan's fight. That is another issue on another day.

My friend for Humber Valley introduced a resolution that the Province request the federal government to exclude from their commercialization plans the Gulf ferry service. I think that is good. I will echo the same thing, and I compliment the member's original resolution. There have to be things in this Province that are hands off and demand unanimous support of this House for all of us who live in this Province and all of those people who we represent.

We know that if they made that an extension of the Trans-Canada it would be load and go from North Sydney to Port aux Basques. We could see more hotels probably being built. The people today who have hotels, particularly on the East Coast, it would only be on certain days, but it would spread her out and spread her open. But we see other things going on in Atlantic Canada. We see Nova Scotia claiming firsts - you are talking about tourism - that strictly belong to Newfoundland. I heard the Mayor of St. John's on these past couple of days about Marconi. We know for years - and I say to the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, when he had the portfolio as Minister of Tourism - that it is still galling that they claim Cabot. Because we know ourselves, if you follow the 55th or the 50th parallel along the coast of Ireland to Newfoundland, the only way Cabot would have hit Nova Scotia, Cape Breton in particular, is if he was loaded drunk for those forty-odd days he was coming over. They think it is somewhere between Cape Bauld and Cape Bonavista. All the artifacts indicate Cape Bonavista.

I will mention a concern as I had earlier about item two on your resolution. Be careful.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) opening comments.

MR. CAREEN: I heard you, sir. I was glad to hear you mention, because I wasn't sure where you were coming with this particular item. Because removing a strike vote from any union employee is something that union people decades and decades ago worked for, to declare them essential and to make sure they were protected under a very fair and balanced system, where the money and the benefits that go with that system can be accepted.

Fairness and balance, I say to the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, has to be the thing they are going to have to make sure is fair. The concerns, too, that the people who crew those boats have with regard to negotiations with Marine Atlantic, and their current negotiations of what they want to get down to a safe number that will be accepted for manning their boats, it is something really out of this world.

They wanted to take people down from fifty-five to thirty-one now in the winter time, and if there is a fire they expect these crew members to fight the fire, and then if there is an evacuation, to evacuate after. What if half, three-quarters, ten, or so many of these crew members get lost in the fire? There would only be one lifeboat station with eight lifeboats allowed to be used, if they cut down those numbers. There are six lifeboat stations now, each with eight life rafts. They will only be allowed to use one. What about if there is a leak? What about if a crew dropped down and they turned over? These are expected to hold forty or forty-five people. Marine Atlantic has to be taken to task for what they are doing in this Province, and they are being driven by the Ministry of Transport. It started under the Mulroney government, and it has gotten worse under Chrétien, Doug Young - nothing is sacred Young. I am concerned about the safety. If they want to do this to save money, what about the travelling public?

With Port aux Basques - North Sydney, I have no sweat, an essential service. It should be declared a part of the Trans-Canada Highway, and Newfoundland should get its rights, what our people neglected to put in in 1948, and while it is not too late. Probably this time around we might be closer to the mark.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to actually pass along a couple of comments with respect to this particular Private Member's motion, and I wanted to pass them along in the context of trying to encourage a unanimous vote of the Legislature on this issue. I sense that the feeling is that the motion is headed in the right direction and it is something that we should do. The speakers from both sides have sort of indicated that at this point in time.

I wanted to pass along comments that have been made, particularly in three different public appearances or public forums that I have been in during the year, a couple of time at CBC Radio out of St. John's, with CrossTalk, another time with respect to an Open Line show on the West Coast out of Corner Brook. Each time we were dealing with the issues of tourism generally, and once the call-ins started, once we, myself and the host or moderator, had some general chit-chat about certain issues of the day relating to the tourism industry, once the phone calls started it was impossible, on each of those three different occasions, to separate the issue, no matter what it was in any sector of tourism, from the ferry service. While people talked about Argentia to North Sydney and so on, and the ferry service from the Island of Newfoundland to the coast of Labrador, the issue always came back to North Sydney to Port aux Basques because that was the traditional service since 1949. That is the service that my colleague and friend for Mount Scio - Bell Island has made the centre of attention here today with this private member's motion.

Even today as I was beginning that program at about 1:35 p.m. or so on CBC radio, and why I was a little bit late coming to the House, Mr. Speaker, the first call again was the issue of the ferry service, and that again there is the threat of a disruption and a possible strike. I wanted to report to the House that in every one of those occasions it is, to a person, every person who expresses an opinion about this indicates that they feel that it should clearly be designated an essential service. Their wish is that this private member's motion today, drawing additional attention to the issue at a critical time, as pointed out by my colleague and friend for LaPoile, that there are some sensitive negotiations going on; it is a delicate time in the discussion - and we would hope that any attention brought to the matter by this motion wouldn't in any way cause any difficulties in the negotiation.

Because the other aspect of it is that when you deal with the second part of the resolution of designated an essential service, and put in place a dispute resolution procedure which would prevent strikes, the company and the union quite rightfully point out that the last time that there was an actual strike was 1973. It has been twenty-two years. But all of the callers and all of the people who have gotten involved in those public discussions have said: The strike isn't the issue, it is the threat which appears almost every year. It seems like annually - and if it isn't annually it is every second year for sure - somebody is saying there might be a disruption in the ferry service this year.

Even though the statistics this year for example show that there was very strong traffic on that particular ferry service, a little bit above last year, which was a great year - Marine Atlantic will say, was their second highest total ever in terms of users of the ferry service, when you count Port aux Basques and Argentia combined. This year was a little bit above that. It wasn't their best year ever but it was a strong year, despite the fact that this was a year in which there was a threat.

So I've always been saying, it is very hard to quantify how many people would have used that service if there wasn't a threat. But the sense is quite clear, and I believe the members in this House share it, that everyone believes there would have been even more traffic if there was no threat. There hasn't been a strike, hopefully there won't be one, but it is that spectre almost annually of a strike that causes the problems.

We've had reports even in our caucus meeting this morning that there are bus tour operators already who are this time of the year looking to book for next year who are calling the hotel accommodations sector people in the Province and saying: We aren't sure, because we would come and stay at your place but there might be a strike. That causes a problem. Again, it is hard to get very firm numbers as to say twenty tours cancelled, or 10,000 people didn't come who would have come.

But everybody I believe instinctively buys into the argument that it causes a problem and makes some people decide not to visit the Island part of Newfoundland and then, sometimes, because a lot of people do continue up the Northern Peninsula, take the ferry service across the Straits and go into coastal Labrador. It is a negative impact, hard to quantify, for the whole of the Province in terms of the tourism trade in particular. That is the issue that people discuss with me publicly because of the fact of the position that I have at this point in time.

The resolution itself talks about the economic and social link. That is clear. Even in the calls today - one of the speakers, I don't know but the mover of the motion, the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, it wasn't him because I would have recognized his voice. But there was a speaker who called in and gave almost the same preamble to this particular motion as to why we rely so heavily on the ferry link economically and socially. Not only from a tourism point of view, but there are also certain economic trade things - cargo and freight and other things - that the phrase they were using is: From time to time we feel we are held at ransom.

When I told them it was timely because this issue was being debated today, they said go back to the Legislature and urge everybody to let people know that this is not a partisan politics thing. This is not Liberals, Progressive Conservatives or the NDP, this is the representatives of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador saying: we believe that we should not miss an opportunity to encourage the federal government and the federal Crown agency to find another dispute resolution mechanism so that the workers themselves can exercise their rights to try to get a fair deal from their employer but please take away somehow that right to strike so that we don't have the actual stoppage and neither do we have the threat that we hear of almost annually.

So I just wanted to interject those couple of comments into the debate, Mr. Speaker, because of the fact that it is an issue that has gotten discussed publicly from time to time. Even today I've checked with my colleagues and friends, at this point they see no reason why the entertaining of the amendment would not also strengthen the fact that we want to make that case on behalf of the Legislature to our federal counterparts, to the federal Minister of Transport because of the fact that the government and the Premier have already made representation.

We have been asked - myself, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and my colleague the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations - to take the necessary approaches to the necessary and appropriate federal officials and politicians, to ask them to try and find an appropriate resolution so that we don't - as the people of Newfoundland have characterized it - find ourselves held at ransom by the threat of a strike. There has not been a strike, as I indicated before, in twenty-two years but the almost annual threat of it is seen to be disruptive by almost everybody who addresses the issue. I could only encourage everybody to vote for the motion, as put forward today, so that that will give added strength to our representation to Marine Atlantic and to the federal Ministry of Transport and the federal Ministry of Labour to try and deal with this issue before another peak tourism season comes upon us next year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity.

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

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

I stand to support the resolution put forward by the Member for Mount Scio-Bell Island. To just add some commentary to parts of the resolution and to say first and foremost, I congratulate my colleague from Humber Valley for amending the resolution which is a very, very important part of what this resolution is about and a very important part and component of economic activity and its further sustainment of economic activity as it deals with Marine Atlantic but let me refer to some of the comments made by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. He is right, how can he, as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation or any other Minister of Tourism travel the world, travel through this country, advertise, promote, make aware that this Province is one of the best provinces in Canada if not in North America to come and see? How can he do that under the threat that while we may have people - we may get them here but while they are here they may not be able to get back out of it in terms of the system of transportation by which they came? It might be a novel idea to have 200,000 or 300,000 come home in '97 and actually ensure that a strike would happen for an extra two weeks. However, not withstanding all of that, it is very, very important.

Now some people have had concerns. Some people have expressed concerns about the dispute resolution mechanism by which we would see a no strike sort of agreement in place and where employees of Marine Atlantic would be considered essential. I just want to say to those people who have voiced those concerns that look around, we live in a society today that is dominated, that will be further dominated in the labour movement and management movement where labour and management themselves are coming together more than they have ever had to before because of necessity, because they themselves and their own individual interests are becoming so intertwined with survival that it has to happen.

In terms of what sort of mechanism we may use or what we may put forward, I say to the member who has moved the resolution and to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There are many, many examples by which we can judge or by which we can look at that have worked, that are working and that will continue to work, whether that be within the RCMP, whether that be within the RNC, whether that be with the fire department in this city or in any city within Canada, there are examples that work.

The Hibernia site is a negotiated, no-strike Agreement. We are talking about several thousand employees, the system of labour negotiations and labour management, it is an example of what can happen when calmer heads prevail and when people put their shoulders to the wheel together and push in the same direction and that, I think is of the spirit of what the member's resolution is talking about today, and I support it wholly and encourage the provincial government to move as swiftly as they can on this issue so that tour operators who are interested in bringing hundreds of people to this Province and possibly thousands next summer and who are booking right now, as the minister indicated because this is the time when they do book, that this can be done, for the peace of mind of tourists coming here.

Now the impact of tourism is something that cannot be lost on us. If we have any opportunity, if we have any chance of moving forward in this Province under, I guess, the demise of transfer payments, under the demise of the type of system that we have come to know and depend upon, then it has to be through increased economic activity that brings new dollars into this Province and into the pockets of local Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and this is one small step to do that. It may be a small step but it is an important step, because the ferry between North Sydney and Port aux Basques is indeed this Province's fixed link, make no mistake about it.

Now I want to talk just a few more minutes, I won't tie up too much time, in terms of the resolution put forward by my colleague from Humber Valley; and it goes on to say that: BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the provincial government request the federal government to exclude from their commercialization plans, the operations of Marine Atlantic's ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney; and I think that fits very well and is very complimentary to the Private Members resolution that we are debating today because the link between us, the link that Marine Atlantic is a service, I believe personally, as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has pointed out, that only what is guaranteed in the Terms of Union with Canada is the service be provided. It is not guaranteed, from my understanding the service is to be provided but it is not guaranteed that the service should be provided by the federal level of government. I believe that it should be provided by the federal level of government.

Now when we look at Marine Atlantic's activities, and the axe under which they have found themselves, and the economic uncertainty that has been placed upon them as the federal government moves closer and closer to eliminating its deficit, to eliminating what they see as a real threat to Canada, the financial situation in which the federal arm of government finds itself, we have seen that happen here. Marine Atlantic beginning to down load, Marine Atlantic taking away, eliminating services to this Province - and the Newfoundland Dockyard is but one example and I am not going to get into the debate on the Newfoundland Dockyard because we have debated that before and we will debate it again - but it is an example of a service that was provided, that has been negated, that has been taken back and that will be further reduced and I think it is very, very important for this House and all members to understand the necessity of the Department of Transportation through its Crown Corporation Marine Atlantic, to continue to operate the ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney.

It is important for this Province and is indeed important for the workers who work for Marine Atlantic. With those comments I will clue up just by saying this: that I am proud to support this motion today. I stand with the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island and assure him that if there is anything that I can do to help him or the government in pursuing this to assure that it happens, to assure that it is achievable in the near future, to assure that the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation has more ammunition and a greater ability to attract more people to this Province, to bring in more money to this Province that goes into the businesses and goes into the pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, then I support that wholeheartedly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I just want to have a few minutes on this motion put forward by the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, one that I think should have the support of everybody in this House of Assembly as we try to figure out how we can, Mr. Speaker, make more effective and make easier the visit of people to the Province.

Tourism activity in the next few years, as told me by the Minister of Tourism, is going to be increasing on a major level, and economic development in this Province, especially trucking activities and so on, the shipping of goods by ferry is going to have more pressure on it and we are going to see more activity, but we are going to need an effective system to deal with it. I want to impress upon the House the need of having this as an effective cost efficient system, and one that is at the lowest cost to people travelling, is extremely important. This is an issue we battled away at a lot of times and sometimes you wonder if you are making progress.

I hope the federal government will listen to the bill presented today and that as we bring the issues, as a provincial government, to the federal Minister of Transport that he listens to this issue because it is an important one. This one has great impact on all of us in the Province, and not just in Port aux Basques and that area, but has an impact on the whole economic system. We have to look at what is the best way to do this and how effective and efficiently we can do it.

It is like a business, Mr. Speaker. We have to look at it as if we were serving clients across the way who are trying to come over here to use the services in this Province, to come over and spend their money and help create our economy. We have to not just say, well, this is half acceptable. It is not acceptable. We need an improved service and we need to have an efficient service. There have been attempts to improve it over the years and that has been welcome, but we cannot stop looking for more alternatives and more efficient ways, and pay attention to this issue.

If we are going to have tourism activity in this Province we need to make that ride across the water, we need to make it as inexpensive as possible, we need to make it as quick as possible and we need to make it as easy as possible for people. There are too many occasions, Mr. Speaker, where you hear that is not the case and that we have problems with the service. I think our government has been looking at it, and I know the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation has been working on it, along with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

We have not only to concentrate on the ferry service itself but on airports in the Province which are now being basically put out to pasture by the feds, as to where they are going to be and how they are going to operate, so on and so forth. We are wrestling with all those transportation issues as a government, and we have to take a serious look at the impact that the ferry service has and its impact on our economy. When you look at it like a business there are some improvements that I think can be made to the service. There are some innovations that we should be looking at for getting people across the water and the benefits from that would come to the people in Port aux Basques.

Also, I think, we should have the headquarters moved over to Newfoundland and Labrador. I think you would then see a lot more attention paid to this issue, and dealing with it. When the bridge gets built to PEI I do not what the headquarters is going to be doing over in Moncton. I have no idea but I hope somebody will be able to explain that to me. That headquarters should be moved over to Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. AYLWARD: That is right. It is about time that it was recognized and that link is going to be finished in another year and a half or less, so we might as well start looking for that headquarters. It should be a priority with the federal government to move it over. I am going to talk to the federal minister about that, I think. I am sure the Member for LaPoile is going to talk to him, too. I think we need to get that headquarters over here because it would create the presence we need.

When people are stakeholders in this wonderful land then maybe they will also pay more attention to what the service is about and how we can make it more effective. I think it is time we made our presence felt to Marine Atlantic who employ a large number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. There are better things that can be done and sometimes when you are dealing with that head office you do not know whether or not you are getting hurt or not.

I think it is time we started looking for the right presence in the Province. The decision making that has to be made regarding that facility and that service should be in the Province. I know the Member for LaPoile has mentioned that a number of times. I know he has been interested in it and I know the people down that way have been interested in it. I am sure we, the government, are interested in it. I think we all, collectively in the House of Assembly, should be asking for that to be transferred over, and I think a lot of these problems would be dealt with a lot more swiftly.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your patience and your time.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island speaks now he will close debate.

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

I am not going to keep my hon. colleagues too long. It has been a long afternoon, so I am going to end my comments very quickly.

First off, I want to thank all of those who participated in the debate this afternoon, and indeed the support that has been obvious from all members of the House of Assembly, and I don't just mean those who spoke, but the obvious body language of the others, the nods and the acceptance that they have shown, and I think we will see more of that within the next few minutes.

Mr. Speaker, the amendment, as put forward by the Member for Humber Valley, as far as I am concerned, we can simply look at that as an addition to the resolution. I have absolutely no problem, and I don't think my colleagues will, either, with that addition.

I want to say to the Member for Placentia, and other members in the House of Assembly whose districts in some way or another are impacted by either interprovincial ferry service or, in terms of Placentia, the ferry service directly to North Sydney, that the main thrust of the resolution today was not to deal with the ferry service throughout the Province, or indeed, Argentia through to North Sydney, nor was it my intention to leave them out, but I felt that if we were going to go after Ottawa in terms of declaring a portion of that water between mainland Canada and the Island portion of our Province as the Trans-Canada Highway, then the ideal place to look at was the place that was determined in Term 32 under the Terms of Union with Canada, and for that reason alone have I suggested and selected Port aux Basques through. I want to assure all that my support is there for places such as Argentia, what we see on the Northern Peninsula into Blanc Sablon, and so on.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I want to simply say there is no doubt from the comments we have heard today that there is wide acceptance of the fact that this is, indeed, an essential service to our Province, that it is, indeed, essential to the economic and social development of our Province, and indeed, we will be, as of next year, the only Province without a fixed link between ourselves and the rest of Canada. And for that purpose, I ask all colleagues to join with me this afternoon in asking this hon. House to ask the Federal Government to declare that ninety miles of water an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway, and that, indeed, the rates to travel on that distance would reflect that which it would cost to travel over the Trans-Canada Highway for the same distance.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all hon. members for their participation, and with that I want to close debate.

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

On motion, amendment carried.

Motion, as amended, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, it is 4:37 p.m., and I suppose technically speaking we could begin debate on another resolution. Notwithstanding the demands from `Cuddles' -


MR. ROBERTS: My friend and colleague, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, little thought, when he removed his hirsuteness to reveal his astuteness, that he would expose himself to being called `Cuddles'. Be that as it may... Before I move the amendment, tomorrow - I have to tell you, with the new seating plan he is not going to be sitting right behind me.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we shall continue with the debate on the Term 17 amendment resolution. The House will adjourn at 5:00 tomorrow evening and return Monday afternoon at 2:00 to carry on with the thing.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, unless my colleague wants to take another crack at me.

MR. REID: I would like to have permission of the House to get up and tell everyone what we call you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave! By leave!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, it is seldom this House evinces such unanimity and such enthusiasm, I may say. My friend is at liberty to call me whatever he wishes.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move the adjournment.

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