October 19, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 39

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: (L. Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, as the minister responsible for the Fire Prevention Act, I have received a briefing on the fire that took place at the Irving Oil storage tank facility at Southside last night. As the fire investigation is in the early stages, it is too early to attribute cause. The fire itself, while extensive, was contained within the tank and all damage sustained was confined to that individual facility. A number of injuries were sustained by persons who were reportedly at the scene when the fire started and two of those people have been hospitalized.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary are conducting an investigation of the cause of the fire. This report will outline any appropriate actions which may be required as a result of this investigation. In the meantime, as a result of the concerns expressed about safety conditions at the Southside Hills fuel storage tank farm, government has authorized a thorough safety review of the entire storage facility complex. Arrangements for this safety review are to be undertaken as soon as the necessary expertise and resources can be put together. Once conducted, government will be in a position to ensure that the facility is maintained in a fully safe manner.

A great deal of credit, Mr. Speaker, is due to the members of the St. John's Regional Fire Department, the St. John's Airport Fire Department, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and, as well, other groups including the Canadian Coast Guard and Emergency Measures Organization, at the scene to provide additional support if required. Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, an emergency such as this proves to us how, with advanced planning, our resources can be brought together on a co-operative basis in the interest of the citizens at large and in a most efficient and effective manner, and indeed this was done last night. Neither I nor any of my colleagues, nor any of my officials will be making any further statements about the fire or the circumstances surrounding it until the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary investigation is complete. Thank you.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to join the minister in complimenting the members of the St. John's Regional Fire Department, the St. John's Airport Fire Department, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and all other support agencies who worked so co-operatively and so well last evening to prevent what could have been a major disaster for the City of St. John's and for the region.

Mr. Speaker, there has been much discussion over the years about those storage tanks. Many of the people who live in St. John's, particularly in the Shea Heights area, have been advocating for years that the storage tanks represent a substantive hazard and that they should be removed. I hope that the minister will move expeditiously on his review and that this review will include the option of seeking the removal of those tanks from where they are now located to a more safe part of the St. John's region.

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. Last night, the people of the Province saw the Minister of Finance on television saying there has been considerable growth in the number of government staff at Confederation Building and other government offices. CBC TV estimated the extent of the growth in the government bureaucracy since this Liberal Administration took office, at 11 per cent. Does the Premier admit there has been a ballooning of government bureaucracy under his Liberal Administration, and does he agree there has been an 11 per cent growth?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. In the overall bureaucracy, the answer is no. In the senior executive management I think it is probably nearly cut in half, certainly cut by close to 40 per cent I would think. I think there were something like 129 deputies, and assistant deputies, and so on, when we took office and I think it is down now to something like seventy-odd. It is about a 40 per cent reduction.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, indeed they are not. In the overall, as we tried to put in place cuts and reductions, one of the things we discovered recently is that in the public service generally, there has been an increase, in fact, in the last three to four years. Now, probably if I were to go back and look at the numbers I would say there is still less than there was in 1989, but I will check that and let the House know. I don't agree with the proposition but I will check the figures and make sure what the situation is.

We searched for the cause of that problem. We are having some assessment done now. One of the causes we think is the system we have of determining pay, the so-called Hay system that the former administration put in. Unfortunately, that system rewards people, or increases their level of pay in the administration, based on the number of people they have working under them and the amount of money they spend. So it works against government's objective instead of for it. So we have to try to get that corrected. All of that is under assessment.


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) how many more criteria (inaudible)?

PREMIER WELLS: There is a variety of -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: That is two of four.

PREMIER WELLS: That is two of four, as the minister says. Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of reasons for this. The minister's observations are, of course, quite correct and he is doing an extensive assessment of it. He has a good deal more knowledge about it at the moment than I do. He is having a full assessment done.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would ask the Premier to react to the comment of the Minister of Finance on television last night, and I quote: `Unfortunately, the administrative level in government is actually growing.'

I would like the Premier to turn his mind to the number of administrative positions in government departments and also government agencies, such as Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, ENL, `Employment for Noted Liberals.' I would like the Premier to indicate whether CBC t.v. is not in fact in the ball park when they estimate that there has been 11 per cent growth in administrative positions since the Premier came to power.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, that is not what was estimated or suggested. There was no reference to when the Premier came to power. The minister is doing a full assessment and I can assure this House it will get the full facts as soon - he is doing it fairly quickly. I think, Mr. Speaker, you will find - I can speak, for example, for my own office. I know what it costs to run. It is considerably less now in 1995-1996 than it was in 1988-1989 - considerably less, with considerably fewer people working there and twice as much work being done on top of that, so I can speak with personal knowledge for that part of government because that's what I have direct involvement with so I can give you the details on that. However, the Minister of Finance is causing a full assessment to be done of all others and the minister will report to the House in due course; I suspect he might even report to the Cabinet first.


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

Order, please!

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the Premier confirm that 11 per cent of the number employed, the number of administrative public servants employed when the Premier came to power would be approximately 1,100, and would the Premier confirm that 1,100 positions times an average salary of $45,000 a year is just about $50 million, that is $50 million a year, $50 million this year when the Premier's government is now projecting a Budget deficit of $50 million?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I can't confirm any of those propositions. There may or may not be some merit in it but I will wait until the Minister of Finance has done his assessment and then I will ask the Minister of Finance - as a matter of fact, I will ask him now - as soon as the assessment is complete, would you please inform the House and in particular the Leader of the Opposition?

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have another question for the Premier.

The Minister of Finance confessed on t.v. last evening, that the government has had a smoke and mirrors approach to financial management. Smoke and mirrors is what the minister said. The minister admitted that while pretending to have a freeze on hiring, the government actually carried out large-scale hiring, not by the regular Public Service Commission route, but, on a temporary basis. Premier, will you confirm that by hiring on a temporary basis, you, once again circumvented the law by bypassing the Public Service Commission, so you and your ministers could hand pick Liberal hacks?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Surely, the member does not expect anybody in the Province to believe that nonsense.

Mr. Speaker, when the minister has finished the assessment, the full assessment will be laid before the House, and I think the hon. member and the people of the Province will see just how wrong she is.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the Premier.

Would the Premier comment on the remarks of the Minister of Finance on t.v. last night, and I quote: In fact, what has happened is that there has been a growth in temporary positions, so that the hiring freeze often applies to permanent positions. What you really have is smoke and mirrors.

Then he went on to say: The cuts have often been made at the level where service to the public is, and the public will get service; there are fewer people there. Unfortunately the administrative level in government is actually growing.

Would the Premier comment on those remarks of his minister?

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) the minister. He will explain.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker; I would be delighted to comment.

What I said last night, which the hon. member is obviously either misinterpreting or misunderstanding, is that at a time when this government has diligently tried to encourage fiscal responsibility in the civil service, and efficiency, what has been happening is that while we have been controlling and cutting at a level that we can control, the senior executive, controlling the budget and senior management, the executive itself, at different levels, have been adding more administrative people, while when we insist that they carry out their services more efficiently it results in cuts at the service level to the public, and that is only apparent when you do an analysis of who has been added and where they have been added.

AN HON. MEMBER: The public service is responsible (inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Yes, it is. As the hon. former Minister of Finance says, it is the responsibility of the public service. It is what we intend to deal with, and we will not have service cuts at the level to the public and at the same time see growth in administration.

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

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary for the Premier.

Premier, where does the buck stop in your government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is obvious where the buck stops. If the hon. member does not know that, she really ought not be sitting there, and certainly ought not to be aspiring to the position. It is obvious where the buck stops. I have personal responsibility, as do all of the ministers, for everything the government does, and we will report -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: And we will report to the people of this Province, first through this House of Assembly, for the actions that we take, and ultimately we will answer at election time, and we will go forward with great confidence in that answer.

I would remind the Leader of the Opposition that it was the Minister of Finance himself who raised and exposed these issues. This was not somebody suddenly discovering this. The CBC did not discover this. This was the diligent Minister of Finance, trying to manage (inaudible), and I give him full credit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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 Premier. I would like to say first that it is interesting to note it didn't take long for the Premier to turn his back on his former Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, Winston Baker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member she is on a supplementary and I ask her to get to her question.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Premier, isn't St. John's hospital reorganization more smoke and mirrors? Isn't it true that after a year of operations the St. John's Health Care Corporation, the so-called super board, is spending no less on administration than the former combined total spending on administration of the separate hospital boards, yet direct patient care spending has been slashed and we are seeing still more cuts at St. Clare's?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The new health care corporation hasn't been in operation for a year. I would remind the hon. member that they took over officially April 1 of this year, so they've had barely six months in existence. During that time, of course, they are reorganizing the administrative side of the corporation. As a result of that there has been and there will continue to be some down sizing in management.

Obviously when you reorganize and when people are offered severance, or if they take retirement or redundancy pensions or severance pay that is in place, there are costs attached to that type of thing. These one-time costs have to be recognized in this current year. To the extent that these are there they will obviously add something over and above what next year's budget will be in the area of administration to this year's budget. That is an inevitable cost in reorganization. It isn't a substantial one, but it is there, and it will work through the system this year such that next year and the years after the administrative side of health care through the health care corp. will be less than it has ever been under the accumulation of all of the previous boards, had they stayed in existence.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. There are more than 2,000 homes in St. John's, the capital city and largest municipality in the Province, that don't have adequate water and sewer services, and there are dozens of communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador that have been refused help under the federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure program. Yet this minister has approved a $600,000 loan, grant, to finance a two-kilometre sewer line to a privately owned luxury resort at Terra Nova Park Lodge. Why does the minister approve programs to help the rich business people get richer at the expense of the poor and the disadvantaged, and when there is no money for subsidized housing or new senior citizens' complexes?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, without any hesitation whatsoever, this government has not, and I repeat, not, authorized a $600,000 grant of any kind to a private hotel operator or whatever he named there a few minutes ago. That is totally - totally, Mr. Speaker - incorrect.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the minister played with words. The loan or grant is actually to the town of Port Blandford with the expressed purpose to extend that water and sewer line to one business, Terra Nova Park Lodge. Why would the minister give access of that kind of money indirectly to Terra Nova Park Lodge through the town of Port Blandford, using the town of Port Blandford, when there is absolutely no benefit to the municipality directly? Why is the minister so committed to supporting a luxury golf course, of course, unless he is more committed to luxury golf courses than he is to the municipalities?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the community of Port Blandford, over three years ago when we asked for the first round for infrastructure applications, applied to the government to extend a water and sewage line from their community up along a road which would connect a number of people in the Port Blandford community. It would hook on to them as well as going into another area that is considered to be a local service district, that they have asked to take under their jurisdiction, which would also hook on a number of people in the local service district and at the end of the road where Terra Nova Park Lodge happens to be. With that said, Mr. Speaker, I have no problems whatsoever justifying contributing dollars to municipalities in the Province if, at the same time we are contributing those dollars, we can create employment in places like Port Blandford and we can help promote a tourist destination site in the Province. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I just wonder: when people in Kilbride and the Goulds last year were screaming and bauling for water and sewage, why this hon. member and other hon. members suggested we take that money and spend it on a stadium rather then provide good, decent drinking water and sewage services to Kilbride and the Mount Pearl area.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, there is not one single resident in this community that you talked about, Muddy Cove, that has a water and sewer problem, not one. It is rural, they have their septic tanks, their wells, they are quite happy. So therefore the sole purpose is to service Terra Nova Park Lodge.

Mr. Speaker, let me say to the minister, the $600,000 that we are talking about will provide sewer services only. Terra Nova Park Lodge has a substantive problem, so they say, with the quality of their water supply. Has the minister used this $600,000 for them to get their wedge in the door? Is there any further commitments coming so that the minister will be asked down the road to commit more money to this kind of a project?

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

MR. REID: No, Mr. Speaker, I cannot accept the premise that this government or the federal government - you have to remember here that the decision was made conjointly between this government and the federal government, in regards to giving Port Blandford the funding, this $600,000 funding. I cannot accept the fact that we as a government or the federal government as a governing body, cannot turn around and help promote the Province. If you remember, Mr. Speaker, the infrastructure program was not designated strictly for municipalities. There was a private sector component in that as well, there was a recreation component in that as well and it was there. There was a tourism component in there as well.

Some provinces in Canada - for example, I believe Quebec spend most of their infrastructure money on education, had nothing to do with water and sewage services or municipal services in the Province. I do not have any problems justifying why the committee, made up of representatives of both the federal and provincial government, agreed to give Port Blandford $600,000 to run a water and sewage line towards the lodge. Now, Mr. Speaker, if there is a problem with that then I must have missed it somewhere because as far as I am concerned one of the main and most important -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, this hon. member -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to conclude his answer.

MR. REID: This hon. member, Mr. Speaker, received more for his district in regards to infrastructure then all the other members on this side of the House. On two separate occasions he ranked highest in the Province. I am referring to my hon. friend across. He has no right to be standing here in this House making accusations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Grand Falls.

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

He is well aware of the problems which have arisen as a result of the construction of a new section of the TCH, west of Grand Falls -Windsor. Now some businesses have been forced to close while those remaining are facing closure if proper signage and access are not provided, let alone the dangers that have been created for motorists navigating this section of the highway.

The minister says the construction company doing the work on the TCH is responsible for providing proper signage and lighting. My question is: why hasn't the minister and officials in his department made sure that the company doing the construction provided proper signage and lighting when a section of the highway was closed leaving businesses without proper access?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the incident of which the hon. member is talking about happened some time ago, actually a couple of months ago when the local construction company was building the four-laning of the Trans-Canada in that particular area.

When it was brought to our attention or to my attention within the department, we immediately sent people out there to ensure that the construction company followed the proper procedures. It was something that happened in an overnight situation; it was explained to the business people when they came into my office, but when you are building highways across this Province and you have the motoring public to deal with, you have all the businesses that are going to be affected, it is impossible to keep the same conditions as if there was no construction at all. Construction upsets the norm and in those circumstances we tried to do the best possible thing. Unfortunately, in one instance the local construction company made an error which we straightened out and there is nothing we can do about it now. Hindsight is 20-20.

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

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am aware that obstruction is going to take place and I am no way in disagreement of any progress that has been made; but my second question to the minister is: Can the minister advise what compensation is available to businesses which have been forced to close and as well, for those remaining businesses who are losing dollars because of the interrupted services?

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That requires a very simple or quick answer. Absolutely none.

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

MR. MACKEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister was quoted in the October 2, edition of The Advertiser as saying: Business owners who feel they have been adversely affected by the reconstruction can seek compensation from government, but there are proper channels to go through.

My question to the minister is: Did the government put in place a compensation package for businesses that have been negatively impacted by this kind of development, and if so, what are the proper channels for seeking compensation?

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would advise the new member, and he is recently, a new member in the House of Assembly, not to depend a whole lot on what's printed in the news media for complete accuracy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Secondly, it is also important when you ask a question to know the answer before you ask the question.

As far as any businesses that are affected by the building of a piece of road anywhere within the Island, and we have to take a portion of that property or all of that property, negotiations are dealt with immediately in the planning of that piece of road. Any business that is impacted upon directly by the building of a road and feel that they should have compensation - I said very clearly the department is not responsible but that does not stop somebody from taking his case to the legal system. I cannot tell them not to do that - that is their choice - but there is no compensation for any business that is not impacted directly on the building of any road within the Province.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Premier.

On Tuesday past I sat here in the House of Assembly and listened intently as the Premier put forward his presentation as he began the debate on the amendment to Term 17. Since then I have had, on several occasions, studied the Premier's speech in Hansard, and the new Term 17 and supporting documentation. Accordingly, I have many questions and concerns relating not only to my 99 per cent Catholic district of St. Mary's - The Capes, but indeed many parts of Newfoundland and Labrador.

My first question has to deal with the future of the present denominational schools. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier: Will a Catholic school that is located in a community or an area that is entirely of the Catholic faith automatically remain a Catholic school after the amended Term 17 becomes law, or will that school take on a new status and, if so, what will that status be?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The minister is better qualified to answer this than I am, because he is dealing with it on a constant basis.

When we were negotiating with the churches to try and find a compromise, we had offered to them on one occasion a proposition of parental choice in that circumstance, and where there could only be one school in that area it would have to be a school that would accommodate all students. We suggested that there should be parental choice, but you have to bear in mind that if you have sort of a breakdown of one-third Salvation Army, one-third Pentecostal, and one-third Roman Catholic, you cannot have it one -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I know what the question is. You have a right to direct the question, but not the answer. I will give you the answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: You will get the right answer.

So we have to find a means of making this effective. In a situation like the hon. member talks about, parental choice again would be the answer. Now the question is how to determine that. If it is a situation where there are five or ten students who are, say, not of the Roman Catholic faith, as the hon. member refers to, and there are 200 who are Roman Catholic, I cannot imagine that it would not be a uni-denominational Roman Catholic school. My expectation is that it would be, and my expectation is that the system that would be put in place would facilitate that. Would it be automatic? No, I think you would have to have some kind of a process of parental choice.

Now, the basis or the precise manner in which that is done I do not know for the moment, but I did mention at the outset, at the start of this question, that during negotiations to try and find a compromise we had suggested a vote, and if the vote was 90 per cent it would be clearly overwhelming and it should be, and the 10 per cent should be prepared to accept it.

That was not acceptable, and in the end we made a compromise and agreed that if 50 per cent, a simple majority, of the parents of the students in the area wanted it to be a uni-denominational school, at that time, as part of the compromise, to achieve a compromise without amending the constitution, we were prepared to do that, and we recommended that to the churches. They turned it down. Now, I do not know at this moment, as I stand here, how it will be done precisely, but we will have to find some way of doing it on a fair basis. I just note that those two propositions were put forward; both were turned down during the process of negotiations.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Premier, I say with all respect that the people of St. Mary's - The Capes would like to know what the future holds for their Catholic schools.

I would like to pose a question, if I can, Mr. Speaker. My understanding of the changes is that all present schools, of any denomination, will become common schools until they establish with government their viability to be a uni-denominational school. I would like to ask the Premier: Is this exactly what is going to happen? And, if so, would the Premier elaborate on the process and the viability criteria that a community will have to follow to establish a uni-denominational school? I have been over this time and time again and I cannot recall seeing anything that puts forward any criteria. I would like to know, Mr. Premier, what is the answer to it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education and Training has time for a quick answer.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should understand that, assuming we get the permission of this House, the Commons, and the Senate to change the Constitution, that the next day there is not going to be a total change. There is going to be a transition, and during that transition period we will have to determine how to establish uni-denominational schools.

Now, in a case where there is room for two viable schools there will be no major problem, because we will use a registration process whereby ten, twenty, fifty, sixty, or 100 parents in a given area will register their children in a Pentecostal, a Roman Catholic, or a uni-denominational-

MR. TOBIN: Answer the question. This is a major coverup.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before proceeding, I would like to welcome on behalf of all members, twenty students from the new Enterprise Store of Memorial University, along with their instructor, Mr. Frank Nolan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby table the financial statements of the pooled pension fund for the year ending December 31, 1994. I further table six copies of five Special Warrants relating to the last fiscal year, by my predecessor.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the House would be prepared to give leave to change Motion No. 13 - I think this is the appropriate time to do it - which now stands in the name of the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, to my colleague, the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. The bill will be sponsored by him as opposed to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. If it is agreeable -

AN HON. MEMBER: What was it, Ed?

MR. ROBERTS: Motion No. 13 on today's Order Paper. It is An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act. I would simply like to have the notice of motion changed. If that is in order, then we can deal with it. In due course the bill will be -

AN HON. MEMBER: Changed to what?

MR. ROBERTS: Changed to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the reason for it is that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, and it is a mistake made by me and my officials, had declared an interest in this matter under the House of Assembly. He has taken no part in the decisions on it. Because he has been (inaudible) responsibility for Workers' Compensation, the bill came - so it is no more than that.

MR. SPEAKER: It is agreed?


Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to give a further response to the question posed yesterday by the Member for Grand Falls. His question was related to the antimony development in Central Newfoundland. Roycefield Resources filed a registration document with the Department of Environment in May, 1995. The document was examined by our officials.

The questions posed by the member included: number one, whether or not the mineral antimony had been placed on the hazardous substance list. In response to that question, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act requires the federal Ministers of Environment and Health to prepare a priority substance list that identifies substances that could be harmful to the environment or may constitute a danger to human health. Substances on the priority substance list must be assessed to determine if they are toxic, as defined in the Act.

At the request of our provincial Department of Environment, antimony was added to a list of substances for consideration for inclusion on priority substance list with the Federal Government. Antimony is not yet on this list and no assessment of toxicity has been done by the Canadian Government. Newfoundland is taking a pro-active approach to identify whether a potential environmental problem exists in advance of a possible antimony mine development. This work is being done in advance to ensure that we have the research done on the topic.

On the second question: Can the minister tell the House just how hazardous this particular find in Central Newfoundland is? Under the Environmental Assessment Process the Beaver Brook exploration project was screened in May and June of this year. The proponent submitted a registration document describing the project and environmental protection plan. The documents were reviewed by Provincial and Federal Government agencies, and the public. Any environmental concerns that were deemed to be met have been dealt with, and have also been deemed to be dealt with through the permitting process.

We are also going to table today, copies of the registration document, which is a public document. Also, we are going to table the protection plan that was filed by the company and is now being monitored. Further, the Mayors of Appleton and Glenwood have been written today with copies of these documents so that they can be fully aware that these are public documents. Our officials visited the site on September 23 to ensure that the protection plan for the exploration phase of this development is being met, that the guidelines are being met, and there will be a further visit on October 23.

If there are any other questions, please let me know.


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I rise to present a petition with regard to the electoral boundaries issue, the second one in this sitting of the House. During the prior sitting of the House I presented over 1000 names from my constituents who did not want to see the existing district of Green Bay split in two, as is the current proposal which I presume will soon be put before this Assembly. The prayer of the petition is as follows:

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

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

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

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by ninety-one people from the communities of Beachside, Little Bay, St. Patricks, and Springdale, a few from Springdale but the majority from the other three communities. These other three communities, Mr. Speaker, are communities that under the new scheme of things will be assigned to the Baie Verte district.

Now, I have no doubt that my colleague, the current Member for Baie Verte - White Bay would be an admirable and very effective representative in this Assembly for those communities, but that is not the point, Mr. Speaker. If the government does makes these changes, many politicians in this House are going to have to adapt to new boundaries and new constituents and do the best they can.

What we have here, Mr. Speaker, is a situation where an existing community of interest that has been established since Confederation is being disrupted, and for no really good reason. The Liberal Party, in trying to restructure the boundaries in this Province put up an independent commission that was going to bring in a significant reduction in seats, from fifty-two down to forty. There was an intersession at a public meeting and the Minister of Justice basically got the commission to come in with a forty-four seat proposal.

The Liberal Party, the Liberal caucus, still wasn't able to swallow a forty-four seat proposal and basically put another judge to drawing a new set of boundaries based on a forty-eight seat proposal. I spoke to that judge personally because I had a question during the time he was drawing up his boundaries and he basically told me that his hands were tied and that he did not have any flexibility whatsoever in the structuring of the districts. It is one thing to get a judge to draw up a set of boundaries and have the appearance that it is an independent process but when the judge's mandate is so restricted that the only possible combinations he can come up with are district boundaries that are designed to be favourable to the Liberal Government, there is not much the judge can do about it.

The new boundaries, as brought in, are as a result of a massive and ongoing manipulation on the part of the Liberal Party, and we are going to see some really significant changes. Joining what is left of the Southern part of Green Bay to half of a newly amalgamated town in Central Newfoundland makes absolutely no sense in terms of politics, in terms of geography, and in terms of community of interest, Mr. Speaker, but that would appear to be what it is all about. There has been no allowance made on the Island of Newfoundland for significant differences between rural and urban seats. There appears to be no problem with allowing very small population large geography rural seats in Labrador, but for some reason, that rule does not seem to apply on the Island of Newfoundland.

I understand and accept the fact that Labradorians need to have MHAs covering small populations and large geographies but the principle that allows that to happen doesn't stop at the Strait of Bell Isle; therefore, we have two principles, really, in action. The government claims it is one person, one vote, but that only applies to the Island of Newfoundland, that principle does not apply to the Labrador Peninsula. In terms of the Island of Newfoundland, if they want to apply the principle to the island that they have on the Labrador Peninsula then I think there would have been much more flexibility given to any person with a mandate to redraw the boundaries to show indeed a great deal of flexibility in rural areas. There is no reason under the sun why the Town of Grand Falls - Windsor could not be represented by one MHA. The locals in that area certainly have a problem with seeing their newly amalgamated community split and people in Green Bay who have been one distinct unit since Confederation, they don't want to be split either, Mr. Speaker, so again I lay their concerns before this Assembly. Thank you.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to make a few brief comments because I know after this debate on the referendum we will get into the debate for electoral boundaries but my colleagues raised the point that our districts, Baie Verte - White Bay and Green Bay, will see some shifts to one side. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in the latest proposal I will pick up thirteen communities from the Green Bay district raising my total now from twenty-one communities to thirty-four communities. Now as I said, we will get into more detail as we debate this particular issue but, Mr. Speaker, we have to realize first of all that geography plays such an important part in these electoral boundary changes and not the one person one vote as the Premier keeps referring to. If we are going to do that then we will talk about the Labrador seats but it is very simply put, Mr. Speaker, we have to and everybody involved, pay particularly close attention to the difference in a rural district and an urban district. It has to be a point that has to be brought into this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem saying that I will do the best job that I can if I do pick up thirteen seats in Green Bay. I will try to do the best, like we all will as hon. members of this Assembly. Now, Mr. Speaker, the reality is, that it is gone from twenty-one communities to thirty-four when we have my colleagues on this side of the House and the other side who deal in urban districts, who can, within half-an-hour, drive around their district and deal with problems and talk to people. That is the practical side of this and the logic of it. In my district it will take me in the area of eight to nine hours just to drive through each community and get back to my home again, nine hours, Mr. Speaker. Now that has to be brought into consideration when we decide these things. A second point is that I will have to deal with twenty-one community councils, eleven different fire departments, three different development associations and so on, Mr. Speaker. We all know, as members in this House, that that takes a lot of time if we are going to justify our help to these different groups. It is as simple as that. So, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about changing the electoral boundaries we should take into consideration those points.

Second of all, Mr. Speaker, I fully endorse and respect that people in this Province believe that we can run this Province with less members in the House of Assembly. I've heard it said for years and I certainly support that. I have no problem supporting that. If it is going to be significant and a real change I support it but, Mr. Speaker, by the time it comes to a vote on the electoral boundaries I certainly won't be supporting it. We are talking about going from fifty-two to forty-eight seats. Is that significant? No it is not, Mr. Speaker, that is not significant.

We sent an independent commission costing $300,000 to the taxpayers of this Province to go around and they came back with their first report of forty seats, the second report forty-four and I think it went to forty-six. I even lost track of what was going on. There are so many commissions going around why didn't we accept the independent one? I'll tell you why, Mr. Speaker, because there was interference and there was tampering when we finally ended up with forty-eight seats and that is the reality here. We all should support a reduction in the number of members if it is going to be done independently and if it is going to be done in the best interest of the people that we serve. I will have no problem taking on thirty-four communities or thirty-eight communities if it is spread out evenly and the whole thing is done independently without tampering and that is the whole point we all should be looking at.

We have different geographies to look at, demographics, different situations with roads and so on in different districts. All of those things should be considered. But, Mr. Speaker, I will never (inaudible) on especially if we can do it for one part of the Province, one person, one vote. We have to look at the make up of the district itself, the geography, the travel involved, the different groups within the district. By groups I mean councils, fire departments, development associations and so on.

So, Mr. Speaker, aside from the reality that we have to look at reductions and of course at the top level which the public in this Province are telling us, that we have to cut from the top down. I agree with that. I support reform of electoral boundaries, to reform those as long as it is done in the best interest of people who you represent as a member of the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, furthermore - and the strongest point that I would like to make on it - is that we do it independently, not tampered through processes that come back to this government.

I think that it should be done fairly, and with all of those points kept in mind, I will support my colleague on that petition, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before we resume debate on the Term 17 amendment, could we please deal with Motions 4 through 13. These are all motions for leave to introduce, and then I would ask that the bills be read a first time, at which stage I assume they can be distributed. I believe most are ready to be distributed, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we put the motion, is it agreeable that we do all of these in one motion.

MR. ROBERTS: If Your Honour so wishes, and the House so agrees, 4 through 13. It is page 3 of the Order Paper today, Motions 4 through 13, simply to move them forward through first reading so we can distribute the legislation. I am quite amenable, and I leave it to my friend.

On motion, the following bills read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Hydro Corporation Act, The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And The Crown Lands Act". (Bill No. 35)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Children's Law Act". (Bill No. 34)

A bill, An Act to Amend The Jury Act". (Bill No. 33)

A bill, "An Act To Provide For The Transfer Of The Trusteeship And Agency Business Of Central Guaranty Trust Company To TD Trust Company". (Bill No. 30)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991, The Teachers' Pensions Act, The Uniformed Services Pensions Act, 1991, The Memorial University Pensions Act, Chapter 18 Of The Statutes Of Newfoundland, 1993 And The Pensions Contributions Reduction Act". (Bill No. 29)

A bill, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Credit Unions". (Bill No. 28)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act and The Summary Proceedings Act". (Bill No. 27)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act". (Bill No. 26)

A bill, "An Act To Amend the Public Service Pensions Act, 1991 And The Uniformed Services Pensions Act, 1991". (Bill No. 25)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act". (Bill No. 4)

MR. SPEAKER: Order 14.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, please, Your Honour.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 14. The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have a few brief words to state my position on this resolution to amend Term 17 of our Terms of Union with Canada. Term 17, of course, is the section that guarantees denominational education rights, rights which are basically exempt from some provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

During the referendum campaign I informed the Alliance for Choice in Education that I would be personally voting no in the referendum. I also said at that time that I was inclined to vote no if this matter came before the House of Assembly, but I first owed my constituents the respect of allowing them their say in the referendum itself before making my final decision. Mr. Speaker, the people in general, my constituents in particular, have now had their say. Now it is my turn.

It has always been the position of the PC Party that significant educational reform can be achieved without a constitutional amendment. The vast majority of the changes recommended by the Williams Royal Commission can and should have been enacted by the government using its current powers. Many changes could and should have been negotiated with the various churches holding denominational education rights. I, for one, however, have always believed - and still believe - that the Wells' government had no intention or desire to reach agreement or to make early progress on the education reform issue.

Having polled the public heavily on this issue since coming to office, the government felt it was on the side of the angels when it came to educational reform, and therefore sought to use this belief to its political advantage. Published polling in 1994 showed that 55 per cent of the people of the Province favoured a non-denominational school system and not surprisingly, 55 per cent voted `yes' in the 1995 Education Referendum. I say Education Referendum lightly, Mr. Speaker, because it was in effect a political referendum.

Having been utterly humiliated in its unpopular and failed attempt to sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the Wells government was possessed of a desperate desire to win something, and that 55 per cent in favour of a non-denominational school system was too tempting to pass up. As a result, the Premier and the Liberal Party subjected the Province to one of the most bitter and divisive debates in recent history. In any case, the people have voted and the government feels it has a mandate to move ahead with this constitutional amendment. The question is: What will all this be? What changes can we expect and how soon can we expect it?

Many of those who told me they voted `yes' in the referendum expect to see a fully integrated, multi-denominational school system come September, 1996. They either didn't know about the uni-denominational provisions of the new Term 17 or simply chose to ignore them. Many people who voted `no' did so in support of the current system or simply didn't trust the government's promise of some uni-denominational schools, or religious education and observances in all schools. Some who voted `no' simply don't trust this government on anything, Mr. Speaker. Whatever the case, 63 per cent of my constituents voted `no' in the referendum.

Mr. Speaker, my district has only Integrated and Pentecostal schools. The few Catholics in Green Bay attend mostly the integrated system. Had only the Pentecostals come out to defend their system, the referendum vote in my district would have been much closer. A 63 per cent `no' vote in Green Bay means many others voted `no'. Take the town of Triton for instance. Triton is about 60 per cent Salvation Army and 40 per cent Pentecostal, yet the Town of Triton voted 85 per cent `no'. My district is in what the media loosely refers to as the Bible Belt and people who generally wanted christian schools, whatever their particular denomination, tended to vote `no'. This also happened, Mr. Speaker, in districts like Baie Verte - White Bay, Twillingate, Lewisporte, Exploits and Windsor-Buchans.

The government claims however, that it will abide by the provisions of the new Term 17 that allows for uni-denominational schools. The Editorial page in The Evening Telegram after the referendum called for getting on with full integration of the school system but also allowing for a certain strong Pentecostal and Catholic areas to maintain publicly funded denominational schools. At a minimum, this is a commitment that the government must keep, and under terms and conditions that are favourable to the establishment and maintenance of such schools. It is no good to have a constitutional right to a uni-denominational school if the viability and operational criteria are so restricted as to make that right useless in a practical sense.

Mr. Speaker, in Question Period today, the government has shown that they really don't yet have a plan on how to set up and operate uni-denominational schools, yet, this is another instance where, we in this Assembly and the people of the Province are supposed to trust this government to work something out in that regard. As well, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of Pentecostal schools that I am familiar with where it is literally impossible to separate church and state. In Springdale for instance, Charisma Pentecostal School complex has Kindergarten to Grade XII and a church, all under the one roof.

I have visited a similar complex in the District of Port de Grave. Indeed, I recently attended the official opening and dedication of a new $3.5 million Pentecostal church-school complex in the Windsor area of the Town of Grand Falls - Windsor. That area voted 68 per cent `no' in the referendum. I understand this Liberal Government was reluctant to approve the construction of this complex, but finally gave its approval in the light of the fact that two-thirds of the money in this facility is church money. The classrooms are used for Sunday School and day school and the church contributes thousands of dollars per year towards the operations of the school. Throughout the Province, Pentecostals contribute hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars towards building and operating their schools. These are commitments and involvements that cannot and should not be easily dismissed or dismantled.

In the past, even in the face of heckling from the Liberal benches, I have presented the educational concerns of my Pentecostal constituents. During the referendum they were joined by many others in defence of Christian schools. Today I speak for them again and I shall not hesitate to represent their point of view and stand up for their constitutional rights as this Liberal government moves to alter the school system.

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that a majority of the members in this House will vote in favour of this constitutional amendment. While I respect the provincial majority as expressed in the referendum, someone has to speak up for the minority. I have no hesitation in doing so, and will therefore be voting no when the question is put on this resolution.

A final point I might make is to those people who are not pleased that their constitutional rights are being curbed or indeed taken away by this Liberal government. During the referendum, many thousands of them voted no to this government. Come the next election they will have that opportunity again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is a great privilege to rise today to take part in this debate on Term 17. Before I get into my remarks - and I will break it down into two parts today, on the actual reform and then the process that took place as far as the referendum, and now the process that is going to take place in this hon. House of Assembly as it moves into our federal system of the Commons and the Senate.

Let there be no doubt that as a former teacher myself, and having the opportunity to teach in a lot of schools in my short term as a teacher, because I was substitute teaching for a number of years, I was, I would say, fortunate, is the way I would put it, in getting into a lot of small rural Newfoundland schools. As a matter of fact, in my own district alone I've taught in, I think, eight to ten different small rural schools. As far as education reform goes, let there be no doubt that I support education reform as much as anybody in this Province, including government members, teachers, parents and students. I support it wholly. I knew that this Province had to turn the century in and make a turn into education reform for the better of our students.

That is what really bothers me; it has from the beginning of this whole debate. By the beginning I mean some two-and-a-half years ago. Before I even was elected as the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay I made public statements in my own district as to what I thought and where I thought education reform should go. To be honest, so did a lot of parents, teachers and students.

That is another thing I would like to bring into this first, as we start this debate, is that we should keep referring to students. Somewhere along the way the students were left at the bottom of this whole debate, at the very bottom. I don't mean that we have to go talk to kindergartners or grade sixes, but you can certainly go talk to high school students. We can certainly talk to especially Grade XII students who are about to go into post-secondary, and we can talk to university students and people who have just gone through the system. From the beginning of this debate really two years ago, or even three years ago as the Williams report came, we didn't give enough time to the people who are most affected by this, and they are the students. Enough input from those people.

We can all look around, talk to people in our own district, and get our input that way. But I'm wondering where the real input started and how much involvement was from the student level. Then to the parents level, then to the teachers in this Province, the administrators of education, and then up to the government levels where we find ourselves today. So as far as education reform goes, I think that everybody here in this House - and the Premier knew in spades, as was said, that he would have support for educational reform.

After seeing the process of this referendum I start to really wonder now if the best interest of the student was the thing on everybody's mind. Was it really the best interest of the student and having success in our schools, or was it fiscal, or, after hearing a question from my colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes today, I'm really wondering how deep-rooted this is in the Premier of this Province, the leader of this government, to have an educational change in this Province through a constitutional change.

I have said it since before being elected that I would support educational reform but I would not support a constitutional amendment to take away the rights of anybody in order to do that, and, Mr. Speaker, I thought I hear the Premier himself say that in this Chamber, that he would not do it unless he had the consent of those involved.

Mr. Speaker, as the process started to evolve you have to ask yourself who really knew what was going on, and now in light of the questions from my colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes today I think I have the answer to that. Nobody knows what the end of the plan for this reform is all about. You can make it as simple as this, Mr. Speaker. My colleague today asked one specific question, what will happen to a Catholic school in his district that has 99 per cent Catholics? He asked the Premier here today, and we all know that the Premier could not answer that question, so here is my second question. If the Premier could not answer that question for a school that is 99 per cent Catholic then what kind of an answer are we going to get when we get into a town that is split 50/50 Pentecostal and Catholic? What are we going to do when we get into a community that has five different denominations? What is going to be the answer to that question?

Today, I think, we were enlightened to the fact that there is no plan. It is the bottom line but what is the plan and where are the answers? Mr. Speaker, it all amounts to this: what did the people of this Province, the 55 per cent that voted in the referendum, what were those people voting on? More than ever, today, after this Question Period, l am convinced that we really do not know the answers to the simplest questions on educational reform in this Province, They cannot answer a straightforward question that was put today concerning a community that has 99 per cent Catholics. That should be an easy question to answer. What are we going to do when we find out we have a mixture of five denominations?

Mr. Speaker, to go back just a few steps here. Sometimes the simplest questions give you the best answers, and I think it was asked today here in the House of Assembly. While the referendum was in progress I heard people throughout the Province - and I know you all say the Open Line show again, but sometimes the simplest stories again can give you the best answers. A man on the Open Line show from Gambo, I think it was Gambo, he was trying to get some answers about the referendum, and like most people he did not know a lot about what was going on. He said, we have five denominations here in this community. He named them but I cannot remember exactly, Salvation Army and Pentecostal, etc. He said we are all in the same school. We all use the same bus system. We just did it a few years ago but we did not need a constitutional change.

Mr. Speaker, the question is not, do you support educational reform, it is do you support constitutional change, the taking away of rights in order to support the school system of this Province? I believe the answer is, and I have said it from beginning to end, that we did not need that constitutional change. That is the bottom line. Did we need that constitutional change? I do not think we did. I think we see it happening throughout the Province. I think it is a natural evolution of education in this Province that we are seeing day by day. We saw it in Gander. We saw it in Pasadena. We saw it in the district of my colleague for Humber Valley, in the White Bay area of his district, the White Bay section of the Humber Valley district.

We had the different religions, the different schools all ready to make a proposal to come together, to co-operate, co-operate in good spirit so they could have the best system in that community, so I believe it was happening, it could still happen. Maybe it was not happening as fast as we wanted it to, but I believe it would happen for two reasons, for economics and demography. What I mean by demography, in my district again, another example, Brent's Cove.

I attended the last graduation at La Rochelle for high school students in Brent's Cove this year and while I was speaking at the graduation parents were crying and students were crying because it was their last graduation at the school. You know how so many memories go through a school, and as I spoke to these people afterwards, the parents and the students, I said it is terrible that this is the last year for your school but I guess there are a lot of good memories here and so on. They said, yes, Mr. Shelley, that is true but I guess that is the way things are. Enrolments are declining and I guess we have to accept the fact that we have to drive to La Scie to go to school.

Mr. Speaker, those people were not upset; they were accepting something that was changing, because they knew, through logic and common sense, that it had to change, and therein lies my whole gist for saying that I believe we could have attained those goals of reform without the constitutional change, and the truth is the sad debate that is taking place right here in this Chamber today, and it is a sad debate. It is sad that we have divisiveness in this Province. I have sat in staff rooms for the last couple of months, talking to teachers, or parents who happened to be there in the staff room one day, and all of a sudden within five minutes we had everybody at each other's throat because of divisiveness, and it started because of this debate. That is what is so sad about it. Was there any need for all of that? I still contend, and I am glad I said it before being elected, including afterwards, that the changes were coming, the changes were needed, we wanted to see the changes, but they could have been done without this process.

Mr. Speaker, just a few things on the process specifically, the referendum itself. Bang, what happens? The middle of summer, summertime, when everybody has lots of time to think about things, the Premier says. The last thing on people's minds this summer who I talked to was the referendum. They were going on holidays and doing things with their families; they did not want to talk about the referendum.

I can give you another example. Even today - I just finished another tour of my district, which I do a couple of times a year. I went to seventeen communities, and do you know what they said to me? They did not want to talk about it. They said it was a mess, because if they sat in a store somewhere, one person would agree and one person would disagree, and they would end up in an argument; they did not want to talk about it any more. They did not want to talk about it because it is divisive; it tears people apart, and that is why this process should never have taken place.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about the 211 recommendations, 90 per cent that were agreed upon, but the Premier says the ones that were not agreed upon were the ones that the denominations did not have a say in anyway. So why did we not implement the 90 per cent and roll on from there? Why, in the last six years, have we been waiting for the ball to roll? We could have had the ball rolling at a good speed by now, and up to this point if we did not have the rest of the recommendations in place we would work on those, but I personally believe, and I strongly believe, that the rest of those could have been worked on in a co-operative spirit, and I think they could have been worked out.

This infamous impasse that they keep talking about - the government and the churches got together and they had this impasse. I cannot believe, for the life of me, that we could not implement what we had and move on from there. Why stir up the grounds at the bottom of the pot? That is exactly what happened here. So we had a referendum called in the middle of the summer, when nobody gave much thought to it, came back the first day of school; I cannot help but think this was all orchestrated so that nobody could really, really understand what was going on. So I contend today, after this questioning today from my colleague here on a simple, simple question, I would say now that a lot of the people who voted in that referendum really did not know what they were voting on. They really did not know what they were voting on, and the low turnout...

A lady came to me in my office here just before the referendum - I know her; she lives here now, but she is from my district - and said: Mr. Shelley, I am going to vote tomorrow, but I am not really sure; now what are your views on it? I gave her my views, as I would; she asked me for them. She had been listening to the other things, of course, and reading pamphlets and everything else, and that lady, who is an educated woman, said: I have changed my mind; I cannot vote tomorrow. I have always exercised my right to vote, but I cannot vote because I do not really know what I am voting on.

We are talking about the constitution of our country, the basis for us being a free Canada, and what she said to me: This is our foundation. If I am going to take away anything - if I was adding rights, then I would probably vote with less information, but when I am taking away rights - for the first time in the history of this country, by the way, that we are taking away rights - unless I know for sure, 100 per cent sure, of what I am voting for, then I am not going to vote.

She told me afterwards that she decided not to vote, and she was so disgusted and frustrated that she had to stoop to that, because she wanted to vote. Now maybe some of you will say that is the cowardly way out. Well, maybe so, but for the first time - this was not an election vote; this was a referendum. You were not electing one person or the other. I always say to people: You have the right to vote; please vote. Most countries do not get that opportunity. When you are voting in an election you vote for a person, so you have the right, and you should vote for somebody who you think will best represent you, but this was a referendum. The way I look at this, as far as when it gets to the Commons, is this: The Premier of this Province, as far as I am concerned, lost twice in this referendum.

First of all, he begged - and so did the minister and so did everybody else - please come and vote because I know their tactics. They figured, that if everybody would come out and vote and there was a high turnout in the vote, they would win by a landslide, so the Premier begged and begged and of course, this was a popular issue of the government. Education reform is a popular issue so they pretty well begged the people of this Province to come out and vote, and what happened, Mr. Speaker? 55 per cent voted, they wouldn't even bother to come out and vote and that is the real shame of it and then all of a sudden, we have this infamous campaign that never was as far as the `yes' forces say, but there was more campaigning than any of the `no' side or just as much for sure; the infamous `no' campaign that never was, but it was a full-blown scale campaign, on both sides, Mr. Speaker, so when they finally got to the question of the referendum - I have had lawyers say to me, how vague the question was in the referendum, also the educated members here in this House of Assembly I am sure - I know I had trouble trying to feel out what the ramifications and implications would be of this particular vote, if this constitutional amendment went through. We had lawyers saying they were confused so can you imagine what the general population of this Province was feeling?

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you again today, that a lot of the people who voted `yes' because you know, what they were voting for, education reform, are not really sure what they voted on, and I think what happened in this House of Assembly today answered a lot of questions for me and I am glad that the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes brought it forward and it is a simple question: what did we really vote on in that referendum? What was really voted on because we don't really know? Where are the schools? What is the viability and criteria for a school remaining a denominational school? There is not one of us in this Chamber who can answer that question. When a young student can walk up to the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes and say: What's going to happen when this goes through in our school? So he asked the Premier, and the Premier and the minister could not answer the question. They could not answer the question, Mr. Speaker, and that's scary. That's scary that we have gone this far.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to continue with the process that we have gone into, what the Premier really has here, or what he was really asking, he asked - forget the `no' campaign and forget who didn't vote just for a minute - what he really asked here is for an endorsement of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the 500,000-600,000 people in Newfoundland, the Premier asked for an endorsement from all the population of Newfoundland and Labrador to go to Ottawa to ask them to take away rights that were enshrined in our Constitution. That's what it was. He asked for an endorsement to go to Ottawa to take away rights and the bottom line is this, that in my perspective, 28 per cent of the population said `yes' to him.

Twenty-eight per cent of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador gave the Premier of this Province an endorsement to go to Ottawa to take away rights in the Constitution. Forget the fifty-four who didn't turn out or forty-eight who voted `no' or whatever, he asked us for a `yes'. Before you take away anybody's rights you have to ask them if you can take it away and 28 per cent of them said `yes' to him, so what happens with the other 72 per cent who didn't vote or voted `no'? They did not tell him to go ahead and take away this right.

Now to continue with the process a bit further, Mr. Speaker. We have to get through the House of Assembly here yet and I guess more members will get up to speak. I don't know about amendments, I am not sure. I am hearing some things about amendments, nobody is even sure about that. We don't even know where we are going from here. Now we have to go to the House of Commons. Mr. Speaker, we have to be realistic here. This Province of Newfoundland is going to Ottawa to ask them to take away rights from a Constitution. Here, at the same time you have a Quebec referendum going on and our federal cousins up there are up to their necks in constitutional change, so what are we going to find when we get into the House of Commons?

Mr. Speaker, when this first started, I said then and I will say it now, the biggest fear of all of this is that this will actually slow down education reform and make it divisive instead of speeding it up. I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, and I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid that that is going to happen. We are going to the House of Commons, if they make one more amendment, one more change, it comes back to us again, another debate, it goes back up, they could amend it again and then, we have to get them to approve of it. Now where are the guarantees that we are going to get it approved in the House of Commons? So we could be stuck again, Mr. Speaker. Then we have to go to the Senate. Of course they say there are no problems there, because they can bring it back to the House of Commons again.

But the point being to all this is that we have a path to take with this that may be so cumbersome, and by the time it is probably challenged in the courts with the denominations, we could be in a battle of constitutional wrangling for two, three, four or five years. That is a problem that I see as major. We could be stuck in the doldrums with this instead of rolling on with the 90 per cent of recommendations we could have rolled into, still work on the ones with the denominations, and I think we could have moved on much quicker than what we have here. So why the constitutional change? That is the whole point. What are the implications of it?

Yesterday I listened to the Member for Conception Bay South talk about how she saw the rural schools, and how she felt bad for rural schools, that they didn't have the equipment necessary and they didn't have this and that, and whatever. I would wonder if the Member for Conception Bay South can tell me that after these so-called changes take place, and if we ever get through this whole (inaudible) through the constitutional changes in here and in the House of Commons, if we get past all of that, does she really believe that those rural Newfoundland schools are going to get the amount of dollars that are saved through this.

Because I had one person say to me: Let's take a scenario that we get through all of this rather quickly and smoothly and in a year from now all the constitutional change is done. We will take that scenario. Let's say we all support it here and it goes through the House of Assembly no problem, goes through the House of Commons no problem, and a year from now we have the constitutional change in our hands. And we saved $20 million in a year from now because we've changed some of the system.

The next question you have to ask yourself, the $20 million that the government saved, is it going to go back into education? That is where we have to ask ourselves: Do we trust the system? Never mind what government is in power. But we all know as governments that priorities change and things change. So the government saves $20 million on this constitutional change, saying we got through. Are we sure, and can the public of this Province be sure and the teachers and parents of students in schools say: That is great, we did all these changes, we saved $20 million. Now this year I can't wait for all that $20 million that we just saved to come back into our schools so the little schools in rural Newfoundland, as the Member for Conception Bay South referred to, get all these new computers and new services and so on. We all know that we can't trust that. Nobody trusts that of any government. So the savings.

In the beginning I said I supported education reform. In the department mission statement - I would like to read that and then quote some statistics. This is the department mission statement: The mission of the Department of Education is to enable and encourage every individual to acquire through lifelong learning the knowledge, skills and values necessary for personal growth and the development of society.

I just made some comments on the process that we are about to go through which I still believe will be a major problem, a major obstacle. But let's really talk about the success and what education is in this Province. Why are we changing the education system, why are we reforming it? Because we want better opportunities for our children? We all believe that education is the answer to our economic problems. Better-educated people, we move on and we grow. Everybody agrees with that.

The question is, what is success? What do we measure as success of a student? We all sit in this House of Assembly. We've all got our degrees. Most people have degrees here and got educated, went through school. What do you consider success? Nineteen ninety-three statistics: thirteen-year-olds for performance in reading. For Canada the average was, for Level IIs - this is in reading, thirteen-year-olds - in Canada the average was 78.6 per cent. In Newfoundland, 78.5 per cent. We are .1 percent lower at thirteen-year-olds with reading, this was in 1993.

Sixteen-year-olds, at Level III, the national average was 72.3 per cent, CTBS this is. In Newfoundland it was 74 per cent. We were higher than the national average, sixteen-year-olds in reading, in Newfoundland. Level IV, first year university, for reading skills, the national average was 33.2 per cent, in Newfoundland we were 34.4 per cent, we were higher. In all three categories, Mr. Speaker, we were higher. There were only a couple of provinces that were higher than us in reading skills.

In writing performance, thirteen-year-olds, Canada's average was 92 per cent, in Newfoundland it was 92.4 per cent for thirteen year olds in writing in 1993. We were higher then the national average. For Level III, thirteen year olds, the national average was 62 per cent. We were 65 per cent, three percentage points higher. Sixteen year olds for writing at Level III, Canada was 79 per cent. We were 82 per cent, Newfoundland sixteen year olds for writing, we were higher.

Now I will give a couple of highlights from this 1993 report. As measured by the CTBS, Grade 4 students made significant gains in performance areas of mathematic concepts, computation and problem solving with respective increases of 8, 13 and 14 per cent all points. Grade 4 performances gained on CTBS were recorded this year in reading, comprehension, punctuation and work study compared with 1991 students, registered gains in seven of eleven sub-test areas. Overall graduation rates have increased substantially from 59.5 per cent in 1989 to 70.8 per cent in 1993.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a long list here. A long list of improvements in education in this Province and we have all gone through these systems. So, Mr. Speaker, the question I ask is: how do we define success in education? Being a former teacher this is how I define success, it is not always the point grade that we get on a test, it is the work ethic and attitude of the students. I have had students in my class, I am sure other teachers refer to them all the time, the student that works like a dog to get a 65 average, has a good work ethic and a good attitude but he does not show up on the statistics as one of our point grades or the high things that I just recorded, is he not as successful as the person with a 92 average who does not have a good work ethic. That is certainly not to discourage the children who have the high grade point averages, that is good. I always say to each student, do the best that you possibly can.

So success to me, Mr. Speaker, is not the bottom line of a point grade average, although we do very well in them, we have done very well in those. The real success of the student is the attitude, the work ethic, the social interactions and all of those things that come within the school system. So a good school system to me, Mr. Speaker, is not just the words, the numbers and the things they work at in school, it is an attitude, it is morals, it is philosophies. That is what I believe work ethic brings. That is what success is to me, Mr. Speaker. So when we talk about statistics how bad really is our system? I don't think it has anything to do with the student and how successful they are. That is not the real question here, Mr. Speaker, it is how successful are these people when they graduate, whether it is with a 62 average or a 90 average, if they have the attitude and the intestinal fortitude to go out and make it on their own, be young entrepreneurs and do good things. When I see people coming out of our system here in this Province, that is what we are proud of.

Mr. Speaker, what we should be really ashamed of, as a Province or as a government, is the number of good people that we have leaving this Province. That is what we should be concerned about, the people who do graduate from our school system and have to leave the Province for reasons of work. So let's judge success and let's define success, not on a point grade average but on an attitude that we have to fend for ourselves, make work for ourselves, be entrepreneurs and move on. So, Mr. Speaker, you have to ask the question, has our education system in this Province been that bad? No, Mr. Speaker, I don't think it has. Can we make improvements to reform so that we get the best bang for our buck? Yes, we can do that and we can do it through changes in education that are happening through natural evolution of education in this Province.

Do we have to do it through a constitutional change? No, we do not have to do it through a constitutional change. I believe that wholeheartedly. I don't believe for one minute, from the first time I spoke in this debate a couple of years ago, that we ever needed a constitutional change to meet our end goal and the end goal to me, was to have good, quality students come out, whether it is a low grade average or a high grade but a good attitude, good morals, good work ethics.

That's what success in our schools is all about. So, Mr. Speaker, we have to look at ourselves very carefully when we vote on this particular Term 17 change. We have to really soul search and, Mr. Speaker, the question is always there: Because referendum was in place and because we have a result from our constituents, we have a responsibility of course to respect that vote, and I guess I do have the luxury that the people in my district supported what I stood for long before they voted and I am very glad. I know that's hard on members in the House of Assembly. I know that's tough when you look at your own district, but you are also elected for your principles, so stand on your principles as members, that's why you are elected. People thought that you had good morals, good principles, good judgement and that's why we were all elected. I hope it was so, Mr. Speaker, there has to be combination once we decide on a vote in this House and that is: what is the end result, was this process proper, was it fair, was it up front, did people know what the real plan was and, Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question, the last one was answered here today in the House of Assembly, that the plan is not forthright.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, may I just conclude?

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

MR. ROBERTS: A couple of minutes if he has (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, just a couple of minutes to clue up.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very, very important debate. It is a debate that has touched all of us deeply; it is a debate that is going to go beyond our political stripes, it is a debate that we are going to have to do some soul searching to answer to, but the question we have to ask, and you always put it first: Is it in the best interest of our students, our children of this Province? Is it going to actually help with education reform or is it going to hinder education reform?

Mr. Speaker, that is the question and the question is: do we need that constitutional change in order to bring about those changes? Mr. Speaker, I don't think we need those constitutional changes and I will be voting `no' on this particular debate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me say at the outset that it is with some trepidation that I rise to participate in this debate. Of all the issues and concerns that I have had to deal with during my short time in politics, I have to say that none has caused me more concern. I have followed and participated in the debate over the past two-and-a-half years and working from within, have tried to influence the outcome of this development.

Mr. Speaker, as most hon. members here would know, I come to this House after twenty-seven years working as a Catholic teacher and administrator. I was raised a Roman Catholic, attended a Catholic school all of my life and I am proud of my affiliation with the Knights of Columbus Organization, which is an organization comprised of Catholic from families throughout the Province.

Obviously, for all of us, our own upbringing and experiences shape and determine the values that we hold, and it is apparent to everyone in this House today I am sure, that on this particular issue that I am indeed out of step with my party, and if we go by the polls and the outcome of the recent referendum, I am indeed out of step with the majority of the people in this Province.

There is no doubt and there can be no doubt and no one should mistake the fact that this is a very emotional issue, and anyone who tries to make it otherwise is being less than honest.

We have heard the system that we are proposing to reform referred to as archaic and outdated. Quite obviously I, for one, and I speak as someone who has worked within the system, do not subscribe to this view; however, I feel that I must respect the fact, and all of us must, that there are a large number of people throughout this Province who do subscribe to this particular position.

Mr. Speaker, the District of Port au Port, which I have the honour to represent, is predominantly Roman Catholic, with smaller numbers of people who are adherent to the other religions, including those of the Pentecostal faith.

As this hon. House is aware, there are some serious concerns, particularly among the Roman Catholics and Pentecostals, as to what this proposed reform in education will entail for them. Well, I personally have no doubt that this government is acting in the best interest of the children of the Province. I am also very much aware that among Roman Catholics, many who are my friends and people with whom I have associated for the whole of my lifetime, do not share the same view.

The position is held by many people of the Roman Catholic faith, and it has been expressed to me on a number of occasions, that the timing for this particular action is in no small part due to the fact that in some quarters it is recognized that the Roman Catholic church is, at the present time, in a very vulnerable stage. Everyone in this House, and indeed throughout the Province, is well aware of - and we have seen it on a daily basis over the last number of years - the problems within the institution of the church; and also, all of us have witnessed, through television on a daily basis, the evidence related to the Mount Cashel scandal.

Mr. Speaker, all Roman Catholics throughout this Province have felt a great hurt because of the things that have happened within the church, and within the Mount Cashel Orphanage. The Roman Catholics of this Province have great sympathy for the victims of this abuse, and in no way are tolerant of the people who have perpetrated these evils against these very innocent victims; however, throughout the whole of the debate, everything that I saw on television and read in the papers, at no time did I see anyone stand up and say, `There was some good done by these institutions.' Surely, during all of the years since they existed, in everything that they did, and all of the people who contributed of their time and energies to those causes, surely, there was someone, somewhere, who was affected positively.

Mr. Speaker, I could not help but reflect, through the whole of this debate and over the last couple of days, thinking as to how I would, myself, present my concerns in this debate. I could not help but reflect on the words of Shakespeare, from Julius Caesar, when Mark Anthony, in his eulogy on Brutus, proclaimed: The evil that men do lives after them, and the good is often interred with their bones.

I think this is one instance, for sure, in which Shakespeare could very easily have penned those words, in speaking of the Roman Catholic Church at this stage of our history.

Mr. Speaker, we have also heard some reference to minority rights. The matter has been raised here in the House, and it certainly has been raised in the media and it has been raised with me personally, and among the Roman Catholic people it is something that is of some concern.

When the decision was made to proceed with the referendum, at the time I, for one, suggested that the vote be conducted among the classes of people. In this way, at least we could avoid the possibility of anyone referencing this as a move to infringe upon the rights of the minority by asking permission from the majority. I was of the understanding that this was being considered but obviously, I guess, the legal opinions must have indicated that it was not possible, it just could not be done. But I would hope, and I am sure that the Premier and his -

MR. ROBERTS: Would my friend yield for a moment?

MR. SMITH: Yes, okay.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my hon. friend, I can assure him the legal advice was that it was entirely possible and proper to count by classes. The government offered the heads of the churches the opportunity to count by classes - they declined to accept it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. TOBIN: That is not true. That is not true!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman has just accused me of making a statement that is not true. I ask him to withdraw it or prove it. I am prepared to table the letters to and from the Premier to the heads of the churches.

MR. TOBIN: Table it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West to withdraw that comment.

MR. TOBIN: What comment was that?

MR. SPEAKER: `That is not true.'

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if I said something that is unparliamentary, I am prepared to withdraw it, but I am not sure I said something that was unparliamentary. I ask you to indicate to me what I said that was unparliamentary.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the member clarify what he meant by, `not true'?

MR. TOBIN: You want me to clarify what it means?


MR. TOBIN: When the minister got up and said, the government offered the heads of the churches to have a vote by classes and the churches refused.

MR. ROBERTS: I did not say refused.

AN HON. MEMBER: You did.

MR. ROBERTS: They did not accept the offer, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. gentleman accused me of an untruth.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I heard the minister say - I thought the minister said and I stand to be corrected, but I think I am right, that the heads of the churches refused that offer. If that is what the minister said, then I said it is not true. I sincerely believe it is not true, and I think, to state that is not unparliamentary. If it is, I will withdraw it, but I don't think it is.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, the hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have to say that I was not aware that was the situation but -

MR. SPEAKER: He withdrew.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, Your Honour said the hon. member withdrew and the hon. member said he didn't. Now, may I ask for a ruling on the point of order, whatever it is.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member said that if it was unparliamentary he withdrew. So I will accept the hon. member's -

The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All I can say is I am glad this debate is not being televised today because I think some of the people back in Port au Port would think I am probably getting crippled, with the number of times that I have to be getting up and down, trying to carry on with my comments in this debate.

Mr. Speaker, the point I was making is, I really felt that if the vote had been conducted among the classes of people, it perhaps would have given a clear indication as to how the - with regard to this particular issue.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask hon. members to not interrupt the Member for Port au Port, it is unparliamentary. This member is very interested in hearing what the hon. the Member for Port au Port has to say and if hon. members want to discuss things, I suggest they go outside the House. The hon. the Member for Port au Port, under the rules of the House, has the right to speak without being interrupted.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: I want to say, Mr. Speaker, and I apologize to him - I listened attentively to what the member has said. I have an abundance of respect for the Member for Port au Port. I think he is one of the finest gentlemen ever elected to this House and I apologize for getting involved, in this debate across the House, by the Government House Leader. But there is a time, Mr. Speaker, when the Government House Leader states things that I find not to be factual and I don't think he should be allowed to get away with it. In the meantime, having brought in the Government House Leader on how I felt about what he was stating, I want to apologize sincerely to the Member for Port au Port for doing so.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the hon. member.

Mr. Speaker, when we headed into this referendum debate there were some warnings that were sounded on both side of this hon. House as to the kinds of divisiveness that this debate would give rise to, and that we would see throughout this Province the rise of religious bigotries that we had not seen in years.

In my opinion, from where I was situated on the West Coast of the Province, this did not happen, and for this I, for one, was very grateful. The only thing I could think as I watched that debate unfold was, thank God that we have matured beyond this stage.

In this debate, while government has agreed that its primary concern was the cause of excellence in education, I think it is regrettable that among some people it is felt that by implication the churches are not themselves concerned with excellence in education. I am sure that everyone in this hon. House recognizes that the churches, generally, have made a tremendous contribution.

As for the Catholic Church, it was there from the very beginning. In the earliest days, it provided educational opportunities to the general population at a time when the state was not prepared to do so. In more recent years, dedicated members of the various religious organizations devoted their lives to providing educational opportunities in the most remote regions of our Province. Their contribution to the development of our Province and our people must never be overlooked and never be forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I stated at the outset how difficult this whole debate has been for me, personally. For a good part of the time I spent in education, I not only talked reform, I was actually involved in implementing reform, and I am proud of the role that I played, along with many others, in promoting change in the area of the Province where I worked.

During the election campaign, I gave the people of my district an undertaking that I would fight to retain our denominational education system, and I would oppose any effort to amend Term 17. In the referendum just concluded, the vast majority of the people of my district indicated that they had not changed their minds, and they voted no. I am proud to say to the people of my district today that I recognize and am grateful for the trust that they placed in me in electing me as their representative in this hon. House. I do not take this trust lightly, and I therefore say to them today that I will be voting with them in saying no to this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, as a person who considers himself to be an individual of honour and principle, I feel I can do no other; however, I recognize that through the referendum, the people of the Province have spoken, and I respect the verdict they have delivered. I have the greatest of respect for my colleagues in this House who find themselves on opposite sides of this particular issue. I am personally grateful to be part of a party where one's personal principles are highly regarded, even when it puts one at odds with party policy.

To the people of my district, I commit myself to continue to represent their concerns, to ensure that the legislation which will eventually follow the passage of this resolution - which I feel in all certainty will pass this House - this legislation, when it does come, will indeed provide the guarantees that denominational schools will not disappear from this Province.

To those who feel that this resolution does not go far enough, I say, we need not apologize for our denominational system of education. Mr. Speaker, for our justification we need to look no further, in my opinion, than the words emblazed above the Chair which you occupy, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God." This simply philosophy has served us well in the past, and I am confident, will continue to do us proud as we move on into the 21st Century.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I believe, a few moments ago, the Government House Leader misled the House. I am not saying or suggesting that he did it intentionally, but he stood in this Chamber and he said that the government offered -

MS VERGE: He interrupted his colleague.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, he interrupted my colleague, the Member for Port au Port. He stood in this House and he said that government offered - the Member for Port au Port, I think, stated first that he advocated, as did others, that the classes of people would have the right to vote as classes of people and indicate their preference to government. The Government House Leader stood in this House and stated that government offered that to the churches and they refused.

Mr. Speaker, I submit that what the government offered to the churches was the right for people to put their names on the ballot and indicate what your religion was. That is what I suspect happened, that government were prepared to let people write in their names and say, I am a Catholic, I am United, or I am whatever the case may be, or a Pentecostal. They did not offer the heads of the churches, as I understand it, the right for the classes of people to vote as classes of people, and indicate as classes of people, how they wanted to respond to this.

Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that the Government House Leader intentionally misled the House, but if that is the case, he certainly did not give us the facts.

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. My words, as I recollect them, were that the government offered the heads of the churches the opportunity to count by classes and that was not misleading. That is an accurate and a truthful statement. The heads of the churches did not accept that offer and we make no criticism of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you offer them?

MR. ROBERTS: We offered them the opportunity to have the vote counted by classes.


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, those were the words I used. The words I used were, `count by classes'.

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend, the Member for St. John's East Extern, the way one counts is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Now, that is what the government, the Premier, speaking for the ministry, offered the heads of the churches. It would not have involved anybody writing anybody's name on anybody's ballot or anything like that.

Mr. Speaker, how can one count by classes unless people indicate in what class they are counted. It is that simple.

MR. TOBIN: Vote by class is what the Member for Port au Port said, vote by class.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Port au Port made an eloquent speech, one which I would commend to members opposite. I said, count by class. We did make that offer and the churches for their own reasons - there was no quarrel from us - did not accept it, sobeit, that is where it stood.

MR. J. BYRNE: Why did you interrupt me if that is the case?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. `Byrne Primus' should control himself. What I say is that government offered the heads of the churches the option to have the vote counted by classes. We did. We would have been quite prepared - my hon. friend, the Member for Port au Port, made the point that it was raising an issue as to whether it was proper to identify, to do it by classes, and I said we offered -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) what he said.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West cannot possibly speak as well as the Member for Port au Port. My friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West proves that every time he speaks.

MR. TOBIN: I don't lie every time I speak!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker -

MR. TOBIN: I don't lie every time I speak!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West believes I'm lying, let him be man enough to stand and make a parliamentary challenge and we will deal with him then.

What I want to say is I made the statement which is correct, that we offered the opportunity to count by classes, and we did. The churches chose not to accept it - no quarrel from us. But they were offered that opportunity. It would have been legally and constitutionally proper to make such a count. We were quite prepared to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is ready to rule on the point of order.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I think I am entitled -

MR. SPEAKER: I will listen to the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I just -

MR. SPEAKER: Could I give the questions for the Late Show before...?


MR. SPEAKER: Under the rules at 4:00 p.m.

Question number one is to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board: Budget deficit projection. That is the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

Question number two is to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations: Level III TAGS appeal program. That is the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, there are two sets of numbers on the questions.

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, proposed White Paper on regional government, is number one. That is the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

Number two is the TAGS appeal, and number three is the budget deficit projection by the Minister of Finance.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: There are two sets of numbers on the questions.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I put one set on there, I guess the Clerk has put another set. But that doesn't matter, we have it resolved now.

I don't want to belabour the point of order as raised by my colleague, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, but I want to say that the Member for Port au Port was indeed correct in what he said. If I can recall correctly, what government offered was an indication on a ballot, of your religion.

MR. ROBERTS: We offered the opportunity to count by classes.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but what I'm saying is you - in essence, when I voted, what you offered was that I could indicate on the ballot my religion.

MR. ROBERTS: How else could we count by classes?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but my point is, that number one, I might not want to indicate my class, or I could indicate some class that I wasn't.

MR. ROBERTS: That is correct.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes. So having -

MR. TOBIN: That is not voting by class.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I know it is not voting - but my point is, having said that, is there any wonder that it was rejected, I say to the minister.

MR. ROBERTS: We are not quarrelling with their position. I'm simply (inaudible) -

MS VERGE: Then why did you interrupt the member?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, but -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, but I mean, you left the clear impression. You interrupted your colleague who was correct in what he said, and you wanted to leave the impression here -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) count by classes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on - too slick by half.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, no.


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

The Chair is ready to rule on the point of order. Obviously, there is no point of order -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Obviously, there is no point of order, it is just a disagreement between hon. members.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I feel -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I beg your pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I feel very honoured to be able to get up and speak here in the House of Assembly today on the amendment to Term 17. I say, there is no wonder there has been such confusion over this whole referendum affair. I suppose it has been demonstrated here in the House so convincingly today when we see the Minister of Justice get up and try to make statements and try to correct facts and muddy the water in order to create more confusion.

I don't know how you could - when you put the Premier and you put the Ministers of Justice and Education and Training together to try to negotiate something, I don't know how you can come out of it with any clearer indication then with what is happening to this Term here as we have seen it brought forward to the people and debated here in the House. I don't know if those three people are capable of negotiating a family picnic other than causing confusion and I suppose this is a clear example.

However, Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Premier very intently the other day when he was speaking and talked about the poor performance of our students. He talked about this being the reason why we had to bring in a change to Term 17 and bring in new pieces of legislation and take away people's rights, an exercise that is unprecedented in western democracies.

Here we see the Premier of the day, the government of the day not being able to go out and sit down with the churches to negotiate and come to agreements in order to save funding and to put our education system back on track. We all know we need reform, we all know that what is happening today is not what should be happening, we know that our children of today are not being challenged, we know that the skills tests have not been coming and showing us the results that we have been expecting, but I don't think we should lay the blame in any one particular direction.

Mr. Speaker, I have some facts here today that were put forward by the Pentecostal Educational Council and they are quite a bit different from what the Premier read when he spoke here a couple of days ago, and I will just read some of them. It is stated as facts on students performance. It shows the high school graduation rate has increased substantially to a present rate of 73 per cent, equivalent to the national average. High completion rates of advanced courses in mathematics and science among graduates indicate that the system is producing better quality graduates. Participation rates of sixteen to eighteen-year-olds in the school system of this Province have increased steadily and are now among the best in the country.

Performance of urban schools on the Canadian Test of Basic Skills has consistently been among the best in Canada. Performance of rural schools on the CTBS compares favourably with rural schools throughout Canada. Quite a bit different from what the Premier was stating here a few days ago. I wonder who is telling the truth. Performance of Grade IV students on the CTBS in the 1993-94 testing was above the national average, was above the national average I say, Mr. Speaker. Overall performance of the Grade III Provincial Mathematics assessment indicates that Grade III students are meeting and in most cases exceeding the objectives of primary mathematics programs.

Mr. Speaker, a few facts there put forward by the Pentecostal Educational Council and, Mr. Speaker, I think the facts speak for themselves and are quite a bit different from what the Premier laid before us here the other day. Even if those facts were correct, the facts that the Premier put forward, even if they were, Mr. Speaker, I don't see how we can blame it on one particular group of people. What do the churches have to do with the curriculum that is taught in schools? What do the churches have to do with the teachers upgrading themselves and with the length of the school year? What do the churches have to do with any of this?

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding from reading and listening to people in my district and listening to other people who have been very knowledgeable about this whole event, that 90 per cent of the changes that needed to be brought about could have been done now, could have been done with the consensus of the churches; 90 per cent of them and we could have moved on and got on with it, got on with it now. Now, Mr. Speaker, we find ourselves in a battle we have to take on; we have to convince the churches, we have to convince the people, we have to convince Ottawa, we have to convince the Senate. How long is it going to take? Is it going to take a month, is it going to take a year, Mr. Speaker? How long is it going to take before we can bring about any changes?

I grew up and went to school in a system where I didn't know what denominational school systems were. It was an integrated system where we all went to the one school and it was never an issue. There were never tags put on people or people were never looked at and said: Well, that fellow is a Protestant or that fellow is a Catholic so I find it very hard to relate to some of the strong arguments that have been brought forward here and have been brought forward out in the districts by many of our people.

I found it quite disturbing actually when I heard my colleague the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes get up today and ask a question to the Premier about a school in his district that is 100 per cent Roman Catholic. One hundred per cent of the attendance there is Roman Catholic students. Not because the Protestants aren't allowed to go there, but because that is the make-up of the community. Asked the Premier: Mr. Premier, how are the people down in St. Bride's, what difference are they going to see in their school once this amendment to Term 17 is brought about? They talk about denominational schools that are going to be allowed to exist if people want them, if the people living in the area are predominantly of one particular religion, whether it is Pentecost, Roman Catholic or other denominations.

But here is a prime example that if the Premier believed in what he was doing, and if they knew what the legislation was going to be, well then he shouldn't have had any hesitation whatsoever in getting up today and saying: Your school will remain Roman Catholic, your school will remain denominational. He couldn't do that. If you can't do it in St. Bride's, then how can you do it for any other school? How can you do it for any other school, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It's obvious what the decision is. It is obvious what the decision is, Mr. Speaker. The Premier would not get up and answer it because he didn't want to commit himself. Throw it over on the Minister of Education and Training. Fluff it off on somebody else.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I know what it is, and even if 17 per cent of those people did vote against it, Mr. Speaker, I still say the 17 per cent don't make a majority unless you run your polls like the Member for St. John's North!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 17 per cent (inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: They would be allowed to go there. There is no reason why the school should be inter-denominational because of 17 per cent, I said to the minister. But you will have your time to speak. You got up to speak today to explain that but I say it wasn't done very well, I say to the minister.

This is the fear that is out there today. A lot of people out there today went to the polls and voted not knowing what they were voting for, not knowing what it meant, but the word "reform." No argument with that. You won't find anybody in this Province today who doesn't want reform. Everybody wants reform. But you don't have to go and take away people's rights in order to bring about reform. You don't have to go and take away people's rights. If you are going to go tomorrow and do the things that the Premier believes in in reducing the population of this Province down to 200,000 people, would you go up to Prince Edward Island and ask them to vote, ask them to take part in the process, in order to take 500,000 people out of the Province? Of course you wouldn't.

That is the reason why this whole process is flawed. The question was flawed. The timing was flawed. It was all done to the government advantage. You would think the government would have brought the question to the House. What was wrong with bringing the question to the House and having it debated here? What was wrong with that? What was the big rush to close the House down last May? Lots of time left. Nobody minds staying here and representing their constituents. Why couldn't the question have been brought to the House then, I say to the minister? Why couldn't the question be brought to the House?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: The lowest turn-out in the Province. I say to the member, it may have been the lowest turn-out in the Province, and that was because of the confusion that existed. A lot of people didn't come out to vote because they were confused. All the people stayed home. All the people who stayed home were yes votes. They were all yes, Mr. Speaker. The Premier gets up and he said: All the yes votes stayed home because of the big campaign that was carried out by the no side.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Did I go door-to-door? Absolutely not, I say to the minister. In fact, I didn't let anybody - well, I shouldn't say I didn't let anybody know how I was going to vote, I did, but I didn't push my views on anybody. Absolutely not. I didn't think I should, I say to the minister, because those people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You shouldn't believe in rumours, because if you believed in rumours you wouldn't even be sitting here. Right? You wouldn't even be here! So let's not get sidetracked.

MS VERGE: She would still be with the PCs.

MR. FITZGERALD: You would be still with the PCs if you believed in rumours. We have pictures to prove that, Mr. Speaker. I remember the Member for Terra Nova and myself being poll captains for Morrisey Johnson. We worked well together. She and I went out and we knocked on doors - I believe that was the only area that Morrisey Johnson got elected in at that particular time. We did a good job, I say to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, that was the confusion that was created and we see today the reason why. The Premier speaks about all the yes votes that stayed home. All the yes votes stayed home in the referendum and all the Liberal votes stayed home in Gander. What is going to happen when the next election is called? How are you going to get your people out to vote? How are you going to get them out to vote? Then the Premier says we did not carry on a campaign. The Premier says that if we would have carried on a campaign we would have gotten a greater majority out to vote. It would have been much bigger then it is, they would have all came out to vote en masse.

That is the reason why we have no other choice but to go ahead now because we are taking into consideration the people that stayed home and did not vote, Mr. Speaker, that is the reason. I say to the Premier and I say to the government that those people stayed home because of confusion, most of them, not from indifference, Mr. Speaker, because a lot of people were asking questions and they could not find answers. What I did, I say to the Member for Terra Nova, is when people asked me about it I gathered all the information I had, put it in a package and sent it out to them so that they could make up their own minds. They had a vote the same as I did here, one vote, one person; one person, one vote, I say to the Member for Terra Nova.

Mr. Speaker, when you call a referendum - a referendum to me is very different from an election. A referendum should be very decisive. If you are going to go and ask people's opinion on something, you have a pretty good idea that it is a job to call - it is close, Mr. Speaker, so you go and look for a mandate. You look for a mandate to carry something through. Mr. Speaker, the closeness of the balloting and the closeness of the vote was certainly not very decisive. It was very divisive I say to the members opposite, very divisive but not very decisive, Mr. Speaker. Still the Premier says: well I have a mandate, I have to go ahead. He always refers back to the mandate that the people of the Province gave us when we joined Confederation. I say to the Premier and I say this I suppose not knowing for sure what I am saying because I was not old enough to vote at that time - yes I was around but I was not old enough to vote - but if the entrenchment of those educational rights was not in the Constitution at that time I can assure you that Newfoundland would never have joined Canada, that is for sure. Those people came forward at that time and voted in a very - they voted to join Canada but it was done, for the most reason, because they believed in Canada and because their rights were entrenched in the Constitution.

Now we are taking away those rights and I fear we are putting a precedent, Mr. Speaker, in order which is not acceptable to most people today, especially to the classes of people who hold those rights. If we are going to start stripping away minority rights and if we are going to have to go taking rights away from people every time somebody disagrees with us then I don't know if that is a democracy anymore. I am not so sure it is, Mr. Speaker. If we are going to, because we don't believe the people down in Sheshatshu should have their own school system or because they should not be getting certain things from government that they hold dear, that they are entitled to as aboriginal people, and the same thing with people in Conn River, if we are going to go back and start here with the change in the Constitution, taking away those rights, then the next thing we will be picking at those people, picking at other rights, Mr. Speaker, and where does it all stop?

Mr. Speaker, I suppose then we go back and we look at the Premier standing here in the House of Assembly, I am told - again I was not here, but I did read Hansard and I could see myself that it was true - when he stood here, prior to an election, because it was the popular thing to do, to look up at the people who were sitting in the balcony and promise that this would never happen. A convenient thing to say when you are going to the polls looking for a mandate. I suppose, being a man of his word, who everybody believed up until that time - he has been exposed a lot since, that he is not a man of his word -

AN HON. MEMBER: Same as he did on Meech.

MR. FITZGERALD: Same as he did on Meech Lake, the member says, and the member knows because he certainly sat here in the House when that event took place, looked up and promised that he would not take away people's rights through a constitutional change, but that happened, and we can see the evidence of it here today.

Sure, it is going to pass the House of Assembly. We cannot do much to stop it here. We can probably stall it, and we can probably go through the charade of sitting nighttime, and bringing in amendments, and getting up and talking again, but I am sure that the minister and his Cabinet know their count, and they know they can get it through the House without the help of us people over here, and taking into consideration the couple of people with a backbone who believe why their people elected them, and listen to their people on the other side, I am sure he knows he has the numbers.

Where does it go from there? Off to Ottawa. Now we are setting the stage. This is a stage that is being set. The Premier goes off and gets on the national scene. That is where he likes to be. That is where he is best, not back here dealing with common Newfoundlanders, trying to create economic activity, trying to get our people back to work. I do not know if he can bring himself down that far, to deal with those types of people. Get up on the national scene. That is where he shines. That is where he is a bright star. He reminds me a little bit of George Bush, the former President of the United States - more popular anywhere else in the world than he was back home. That is what the Premier is going to be struck with.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read my lips.

MR. FITZGERALD: Read my lips, yes, read my lips - no more taxes.

Mr. Speaker, this is what we are going to witness.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I have no problem with that, I say to the hon. Opposition House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, that is the stage we are seeing set here right now. Watch and see how far off I am. You are going to see our leader, you are going to see our Premier, go off to Ottawa, get on the national stage again, take on the country, stand up for what is right, stand up for what he believes in, go on and start this vicious dog fight. In the meantime, and it is a very good conceived plan that he has, I say to the Opposition House Leader; it shifts the focus. Look what happened this summer. How many people went around their districts this summer and heard people crying to them about their sons and daughters having to leave this Province in order to find a job. How many people went around and heard the cries of their sons and daughters wanting to be able to go to some post-secondary institution and not being able to afford to go. How many people, I ask the members here? How many people went around, if you had the courage to knock on doors, and sat down and talked about the referendum, and got their constituents point of view, and told them what they knew?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, I say to the Member for Pleasantville, he did. He is one of the few over there with a backbone, who went out and had a public meeting, talked to his constituents, got their point of view. I know that had his constituents voted different, he would have been voting differently also.

Mr. Speaker, there are not very many Sunday mornings that pass when I do not find myself in one church or the other, I can guarantee you that. It is either a Roman Catholic church or a Protestant church. When I went to school, I always took part in the educational readings in the morning; it did not matter what they were. I did not see anything bad in any of that, and I do not think it did anything to change my way, or change my style, or bring any hardship upon me. I don't think, Mr. Speaker, today because we are seeing duplication of services and because we are seeing a lack of computers, or a lack of other things in our schools, that we should come back and blame it on one particular entity in this whole organization.

During the referendum - and I have to put this forward because this is the one that sticks in my mind. When the government of the day was in fear of losing the referendum, when the polls were done, and it showed it was very close, the Minister of Education came on and talked about busing. What a bunch of falsehoods, I say to the minister! If it were anybody else who came on and brought it forward there might have been some credence to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, maybe if the Minister of Social Services had said it there might have been some credence to it, because people believe in what she is saying and most of the time she does tell the truth - not the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker.

Let us look at some of the things they continually play on and talk about the cost. They talk about busing, duplication of services, ways of funding school boards, school curriculum, length of the school year, the number of teachers to be employed, all very important concerns and if there is duplication and cost there they should be changed, but you don't have to go and change the Constitution of Canada, I say to the government, you don't have to take away people's rights. What you have to do is sit down and negotiate. Sit down with the people affected and reach a conclusion so that life can go on and we can start change the next morning. Start change the next morning so we can see the good we are doing.

I ask the Minister of Education this, if he cares to answer it. Realistically, if we pass through the House of Assembly here within the normal allotted time, which I think the Premier said would probably be a week or two weeks, a chance to give everybody their time speaking, and then it goes on to Ottawa and through to the Senate, realistically, when can we expect to see changes brought about to the school system?

MR. DECKER: If the hon. gentleman would yield?

MR. FITZGERALD: Just for a minute.

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

MR. DECKER: I tell the hon. member, that if we could have this change approved early in the new year, we would hope to be in a position to put the new boards and the provincial restructuring board in place almost immediately. Then, the boards would take inventory of the schools in their particular districts and start consolidating where they need to be consolidated immediately. In September, 1996 I would not suggest there would be a whole lot of schools brought together, but by 1997 the system would be quite different from what it is today.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: But from now until 1997 we will see no changes whatsoever?

MR. DECKER: I didn't say that. There will not be any massive change. The evolution will start in September, 1996 but we hope to get the new boards in place as soon as the Constitution has been changed. We will put the ten boards in place immediately with the ten superintendents and hopefully in this Budget the capital construction money will not be going to the DECs but would be going to the provincial restructuring board.

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay, so that's if everything goes the way government has it planned to go, if we can put it through the House of Assembly, get it through the House of Commons, and on to the Senate, naturally. And then, the legislation comes back here again. Does the final legislation come back here after it passes the Senate or before it gets that far?

MR. ROBERTS: If my hon. friend would yield again for a moment?

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

MR. ROBERTS: The legislation necessary to enact the reforms that we wish to make could not be effective, in our legal opinion, until and unless Term 17 is amended. Now, whether the House dealt with it and it was subject to proclamation or whether we waited until the term was changed, should that be the result, would be a matter yet to be decided, but the changes my hon. friend, the minister, just referred to could not be effective until and unless Term 17 is amended.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, this whole process, I think, is wrong. I think it should have been done differently. I think the question of the referendum should have come before the House in the beginning - if it meant having a referendum. I don't think there was any need for it; I don't think there was any need of spending $2 million to go out there and find out the opinion of the people. I think we all know the opinion of the people. We all know that they wanted reform, but I don't think many of them wanted a constitutional change.

Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Education stood yesterday, when I brought forward a petition, I know he gave us an example of what it meant to spend $50,000 or $60,000 in trying to correct a problem that exists in a -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It being Thursday, and it being 4:30 p.m., I will call on the hon. the Member for Waterford Kenmount.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn debate until whenever the Government House -

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wanted to refer the minister to his answers to a question which I raised on October 16 relative to the regional boards that he proposes to establish, and the White Paper which he has promised to have prepared, and the consultation process that would come before that White Paper is prepared.

Mr. Speaker, many of us who have backgrounds in municipal government are very supportive of regional approaches to municipal government. We believe, however, that regional approaches should be done along the approach of facilitating co-operation among member municipalities. The minister said the other day, that was his intention, that this would not be a regional government system with an extra bureaucracy in the Ontario model, and we were pleased with that. However, he didn't commit himself to holding public forums across the Province. He didn't say where they would be held, how many, what kinds of papers would be prepared before these public forums would be held - in other words, would there be briefing papers? Would there be a discussion paper prepared, I ask the minister, that would look at the kinds of services that might be included in a regional co-operative model. He did not indicate, either, whether there would be a facilitator designated by his department who would be able to head up the approach, to which members' municipalities could refer if they had some very specific questions.

Mr. Speaker, neither did he talk about the kinds of services that he would be talking about being offered, and I refer there to services like: Would it include municipal planning, municipal enforcement, water supply, sewage disposal, garbage disposal, fire protection, snow clearing, road maintenance, assessments? What kinds of co-operative services are we talking about? And would there be flexibility in the decisions that municipalities could make in terms of which services they would want to be part of, and if you opted to be included, would you, of course, automatically then be included forever? In other words, would there be opting out and that kind of thing?

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister today if he could further elaborate on the questions I ask. I know that my comments today have been somewhat beyond the scope of the question that I asked on Monday; however, many municipalities are anxious to find out more information and, in particular, they want to know about the zones, whether or not, for example, regional government zones would follow the economic zones, or the hospital board zones, or the school board zones. How would the boundaries be established, and what kind of dialogue would he have with the local municipalities in establishing those boundaries and deciding on the services?

Thank you very much.

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

MR. REID: Let me say, first of all, Mr. Speaker, that I want to thank my hon. colleague, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount for raising the issue, because it is going to give me a chance now to talk very briefly about what the plans are in my department at least for the time being. I cannot say they are the plans of government; they are the plans in my department, to make a presentation to my Cabinet colleagues, and I suppose, then, to caucus, and then to the House, I suppose, eventually, and ask for some co-operation from all members of the House with regards to dealing with the serious, financial problem that a large number of rural communities - and when I say rural, I mean outside of St. John's and Corner Brook, Gander and Grand Falls and some of the larger centres - are experiencing today in this Province, and the reason they are experiencing these financial problems basically, has to do with the fact that over the past ten, fifteen years, governments, consecutive governments including this government have offered communities large sums of monies for infrastructure, water and sewerage, road work and recreation facilities and all things that we are involved with from a municipal point of view and a provincial point of view.

I suppose to a certain extent - and I am just as guilty as anyone else and I am sure the members opposite would have to admit the same thing - that as members of the House of Assembly you try to get every possible dollar, every cent that you can scrape for your district because that is part of the duties you assume when you go out and ask the electorate on election day to vote for you and in doing that, we as politicians both present and past, in a lot of cases didn't think about at the end of the day, who would pay for these services, and in the past three or four years, with governments finding themselves being more and more financially strapped, the onus is now being placed back on the municipalities in a lot of cases, to make higher and higher contributions to paying off these water and sewerage debt charges and roads and all the other things that go with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Downloading.

MR. REID: Maybe you can call it downloading. I am not going to deny that its downloading but I think anyone in Newfoundland today or anyone in Canada I guess, understands that governments are in bad financial shape and in order to I suppose, stay afloat, councils, provincial governments and federal governments have to do things like that. Now if you want to call it downloading you can call it what you like. So, Mr. Speaker, what you have in the Province is, you have large numbers of communities in rural Newfoundland for example, that are paying very little of anything towards the cost of these services.

We have communities in this Province that are paying less than $100 a year for complete services being provided to them but that same community, one in particular, has to pay $330 a year to pay off their debt to NMFC and they are collecting $100, so there has to be a deficit, it is logical; there has to be a deficit. The solution to it, I don't know. I am the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and I don't know the solution to it. I am really and truly being honest when I say that I don't know what the solution at the end of the day will be, and I don't think anyone in this House will stand up and be able to say that they know.

We can only try certain things and one of the things that we are going to try, Mr. Speaker, is to ask communities if they would be interested in getting involved in a regionalization concept which basically, will mean that these communities will come together themselves and instead of one community having its own garbage collection and another community having its own garbage collection and another community, come together and maybe have one garbage collection. Amalgamate a number of dump sites around the Province, so in that particular case of garbage collection, there are a number of other areas where we can work together. Fire departments for example, Northeast Avalon Fire department came together recently, there are areas on the Avalon Peninsula, out my way in Conception Bay North for example, and I think most of you are familiar with that as there are some twenty-three, twenty-four incorporated communities. Maybe we can share services when it comes to snow clearing I don't know, but what I am trying to say, Mr. Speaker, is, the services will be dictated to the regional council by the councils themselves, they are not going to be dictated to by us. What areas will we serve in the Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I was looking at the government benches on the other side and I asked a question on Monday and the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture stood in his place and said it wasn't his question, it was the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I don't see the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations here and I don't see the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture here. Is there somebody here who is prepared to answer the question? I don't want to go through just for the formality of asking a question, I ask a question expecting to get an answer, I say to the Speaker, that's why I was hoping the minister would be here in his seat. Mr. Speaker, the question that I asked was, number one, put forward the names of the people who make up the Level III appeals board. Also allow the people today, who are denied access to that board, allow them to come forward in a proper manner to present their case and let some reasonable people listen to their concerns and make a wise decision.

Mr. Speaker, back in 1992 when the moratorium was announced there was a program brought into place known as the Northern Cod Adjustment Recovery Program, otherwise known as NCARP. I know all about it, I say to the member, sure I do know all about it because you are looking at a displaced fisherworker and I am very proud to stand here and say that. Those were the people who elected me, those are the people that I feel close to and those are the people that I represent, Mr. Speaker, ordinary workers, ordinary people. That is what I'm all about not like the front line of your benches over there, I say to the member.

Mr. Speaker, in 1992 the NCARP program was brought forward. After the expiry of that program in about twenty-two months and I think it was in May of 1994, another program was brought forward known as TAGS, The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy Program, Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy Project. Everybody who was on the NCARP program then had to reapply for the TAGS program. They had to reapply. Some people were taken off it, other people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I say to the minister, I was at another job then. Mr. Speaker, other people applied but were not accepted. Now here is the quandary that they found themselves in, Mr. Speaker, first they had to go and they had to apply. After they applied it was shown that a lot of people were disqualified, so then they had to go through the Level I process. Now the Level I process consisted of somebody reviewing your file. The file was reviewed and it went back to the same people who made the decision in the first place, people working with HRD. So as a result of that they were denied again. In the next level of appeal it meant that they went before some consultant who was paid - given a patronage job by the Liberals in most cases - that went around the Province listening to those people. In my particular area it was a candidate who ran for - I think he ran for the district of Terra Nova and was beaten out by the member.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I don't think so. No, a different group. It was Bren Power, I say to the member. So they went before this Liberal man and there again he made his recommendation and where did the recommendation go but back to the same people that were after refusing him twice before. So then, Mr. Speaker, they said okay to save face now, we don't want to disappoint all those people, what we will do is allow you to apply again. So then they went before the Level III appeal board. Who is the Level III appeal board? It is a phantom board put in place by the mentor of the Member for Eagle River there, the great Canadian, Brian Tobin. It was put forward, nobody knew their names, nobody knows where they met, nobody knows how to get ahold of them. You call HRD and they will say write them a letter but they won't return an answer to you. Write them a letter, they won't return an answer. You cannot phone them. So, Mr. Speaker, the question I ask - and I say this in all sincerity without making a joke of the whole process - I ask what this independent review board is, who is the Level III appeal board and how can responsible Newfoundlanders, who feel that they are entitled to this program, come forward and plead their case so they can get a decision made and they can go on with their future?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: - notwithstanding the enthusiastic request from all sides of the House -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my friend the Minister of Health should not talk about being a fisherperson because as I recollect his only catch recently was one of his fellow ministers with a spinner that he spanned.

Both the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations are absent from the House in pursuit of their duties as ministers of the Crown, I have no doubt, so it falls to me to talk for about thirty-six seconds which is really all that need be said. My hon. friend is making an eloquent speech. Cuddles is at it again. He is making an eloquent speech but the trouble is he is in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and speaking to the wrong people.

In case my hon. friend is not aware of it, and I know he is no longer on the federal payroll, I understand that after a recent democratic exercise his career on the patronage trough was terminated, but let me just tell him the TAGS program is a federal government program, is administered by federal appointees and federal employees and it is run by federal rules.

Now, I will add to that that we have concerns with the way in which the program is being administered. We are making, we have made, and I have no doubt shall continue to make representations to the Government of Canada about it. We are not going simply to grandstand, and I am not suggesting my hon. friend is doing that but there are those who do. We are not going simply to grandstand. What we are going to do, is to continue to make representations to improve the program. It is a good program in many ways but it could be made better.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. gentleman for his interest and I tell him to keep tuned and in about 147 years he will be back at the trough again no doubt.

Thank you.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Earlier in the week I asked the Minister of Finance to give us a report on the current financial situation of the Province. Members will recall that in last year's Budget the former minister and the government, of course, had made much to-do about the fact that they were projecting a $1.9 million surplus. They put that forward as a great major achievement of this Administration, to come forward with not only a balanced Budget on current account, but a balanced Budget on current and capital combined, and a surplus of $1.9 million. A wonderful achievement, Mr. Speaker, if it were true. We pointed out that that indeed was a lot of cooking the books there and there were a lot of one time revenue sources there that were not going to reoccur, so it was not really a truthful picture of a balanced budget. Nevertheless, our concern now is that we find - we are hearing, on good source - that the minister now is faced with a $50 million deficit, projected at this point in time for the end of this fiscal year. We are only seven months into this fiscal year yet. We have now slipped from a plus two to a minus fifty. That has to be a matter of concern for the new minister taking over. I know he has only been there two months, and his staff have not yet told him how many employees government has; he cannot find that out because there are two or three payrolls, he told us last night on television. It is amazing he has not been able to find out. He has probably found out now today; he may have a number there for us.

Mr. Speaker, there is a $50 million slippage here, and we were concerned as to what happened here. I could not understand it, myself, knowing that Voisey's Bay had been a positive factor, and we were told that retail sales tax, in fact, was stronger than had been anticipated, that we were doing very well. The fishing industry, in spite of the freeze, has been a major contributor because of the price of crab and the throughput of offshore fish going through our fish plants. Things actually are not looking so bad in this Province. Where did this $50 million go? We found out, I think, today.

The minister admitted that not only have they cooked the books, but they have been playing games - smoke and mirrors, as the minister said - with hiring of staff. The so-called freeze has applied only to the legitimate public servants in this Province, those who are providing a service to the public, and as the minister himself has now said, we have cut back in those areas where service is being provided to the public. In other words, we have now added numerous - hundreds and hundreds of positions - administrative positions, not in the public service but as temporary positions.

Now, as all hon. members know, temporary positions do not even go through the Public Service Commission. They are hand picked by the Premier and the ministers. They do not go through the normal review process, do not have to have the same qualifications. They are simply put in there by the ministers and by the Premier - political hacks, perhaps. We now find that there are so many of them - about 11 per cent, one reporter has been told; the minister has not denied it, either - about 11 per cent, which adds up, strangely enough, to about $50 million. Now if we had some sort of a variance that was beyond government's control we might have some sympathy for the minister, but when you are hiring temporary staff, laying off people in hospitals and in schools and in other essential services, and hiring temporary employees, that is hardly beyond the government's control. This is a government that tried to say that they were great stewards of the public purse. Instead of that, they now have a $50 million deficit which is entirely of their own making, totally the responsibility of the Minister of Finance, the former minister, obviously. Maybe that is why he is no longer here. Maybe that is half the reason why we have a new Minister of Finance. Maybe they found out that there is a $50 million deficit going.

The President of Treasury Board, who also happens to be Minister of Finance, is really responsible here. Most members don't realize that the Minister of Finance doesn't spend any money. He collects revenues, but it is the President of Treasury Board, and the board itself, members of the board, who have the responsibility for expenditures. So if we have a $50 million over-expenditure on temporary employees, it is the members of the Treasury Board and the President of Treasury Board who are totally responsible for that, and the Cabinet as a whole, of course.

This is pretty amazing, Mr. Speaker, for a government that tried to say we are very fiscally responsible, we are going to have, unfortunately, all kinds of cuts. We've had cuts alright, we have had cuts in essential services. Now, we have all kinds of press secretaries, baggage carriers and everybody else in temporary positions, being paid from God knows where, Mr. Speaker, and God knows how much, and with what kinds of credentials we don't know. Fifty million dollars worth - Mr. Speaker, that is incredible for a government who tried to put themselves forward as good stewards of the public purse, as responsible financial managers. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, this is why Moody's a couple of weeks ago, in giving a report on various governments of Canada, put a warning against Newfoundland, saying that we don't think they are going to perform as they said they were going to perform.

We know that Hibernia is going to slow down a little bit and we think we are going to have a big problem next year - of course, we are. We had $90 million of one-time revenue sources in last year's budget. We have $110 million or $120 million in lost transfer payments this year that we know about, maybe more as a result of revisions of the final numbers. We didn't sell any more South Coast ferries this year. We haven't sold any Crown corporations, we haven't privatized Hydro, so we don't have those one-time cash cows that the minister relied on last year to help us this year. We have a $300 million - $350 million problem that this minister is faced with in coming in with a balanced Budget this year. I would like to see how he is going to do it. I would like to see what magic wand he is going to wave, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to see how we will do in the current year as well, I say to the hon. member, first of all. I would like to deal with three or four points that he raised. The first was the aspect of a balanced Budget this year, to some extent having some one-time cash flows, and that is true. Nevertheless, in the year in which you combine both capital and current accounts, which is customary in other provinces and somewhat new to this Province, it is the legitimate thing to do. All it means is that for future years it may be a little more difficult feat to achieve, mainly because you were assisted this year with one-time revenues - next year you will have to find the operating money and will not be offset by the one-time cash flow as the hon. member mentioned. So what he says is accurate, there were one-time cash flows which assisted us, but it is not accurate to say that it is not a truthful picture, because those were all disclosed.

Secondly, the hon. member keeps mentioning the figure of $50 million. There has been some slippage, I am not at liberty to say what it is, we have a better picture; we have to confer with our colleagues first of all, and we will mention in due course in this House what the figures are and the extent to which we are able to deal with it and in what fashion.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition and again my friend across the House, mentioned some comments I made last night. The point that I think the public understood if not the Opposition, was that, in the time in which we had been very responsible custodians of the public purse, what we found in looking more carefully at the books, is that, while we have been limiting increases in the public service, rather, limiting our expenditures each year, what has happened is that while we were able to confine it at a visible level in the senior public service, what we have now found is, that has now translated down into the lower echelons of hiring and, as the hon. member says -

MS VERGE: Whose fault is that?

MR. DICKS: It is the fault of the civil service, I say to the hon. member Opposite - and where there has been smoke and mirrors, it has been that the managers, the people we rely on to deliver service to the public, have been more interested in some cases - and this is not a general indictment of the system - in adding people at the administrative level while recommending to government cuts at the service offered to the public, and that, frankly, is not something that will continue.

The hon. member says he doesn't understand the slippage. I think it is quite apparent from things I have said publicly where slippage occurs. Our own revenues have been very accurately forecast; there are two or three factors that are influencing our revenues this year; the first is that the equalization which is based on the national economy has been somewhat weaker than we anticipated and secondly, we are affected to some extent by out- migration.

As regards the temporary positions, it is a device the hon. member now deplores but one that was instituted while he was in government. Unfortunately, the whole thing of temporary positions is rather illusory and we now have a much better picture of the total number of people working for government and we are going to relate that to how many people should be working for government.

Perhaps in closing - I just want to make one point that is often lost in these sorts of discussions and that is, that what we are dealing with is restraint that is imposed on us unfortunately, as a result of Federal Government cutbacks and we have to deal with that. Perhaps the most reasonable way to do that is to pass it on in areas where the Federal Government is doing that cutting. I don't think we have much choice because the Province does not have sufficient revenues and resources apart from that to continue to deliver services in fields that the Federal Government has vacated. In most cases, the Province has been induced to provide services as a result of programs that the Federal Government instituted and is now abandoning. That is going to mean some difficult choices for us, but I think the people of the Province will understand it.

Having said that,the public sector is having some difficulty making its ends meet. I can say that the private sector is in very good shape. We have heard the Premier indicate that the figures are up by 8,000 in the private sector in terms of jobs over the last year or so. I recently had the pleasure to read that Newfoundland is one of the two Canadian provinces that a prominent securities firm is recommending for its bonds, because they believe that our bonding and position will improve, given the economic prospects out over the next four or five years. So I think people should and do have a great deal of confidence where our Province is going, but it is like everything else. If your hours of work are cut back by your employer you have to do some belt-tightening. Some of us have more tightening to do than others, unfortunately.

I would just like to say in closing that I have a lot of confidence in our Province. Our prospects are good. In fact, I would think out to the year 2000 we may have the highest growth rate in Canada. At the same time, I think we have to realize that over the next year or two we are going to have to take some measures to restrain our spending. I think that is reasonable and prudent in the circumstance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is, of course, an adjournment motion before the House by virtue of Standing Orders, but since we don't plan to be back here tomorrow, perhaps it would be appropriate for me to move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at 2:00 p.m. I think, if we put the other motion and carry it, the Standing Orders will require us to be back here at 9:00 tomorrow morning.

I would move that the House, Mr. Speaker, adjourn until tomorrow, Monday, at 2:00 p.m.

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