October 26, 1995              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLII  No. 43

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, with the leave of all members, may I ask permission to proceed on an unusual but I would hope, evidently acceptable course of action that I believe has the support of the members who sit with the Progressive Conservatives and the member who represents the New Democratic Party in this House and that is to ask leave to introduce a resolution which will then be put without debate and if accepted will be passed, that we believe and hope it will be. May I proceed, sir?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the resolution I think will speak for itself and may I add it will be avail in French very shortly. I will not attempt to read it in French.

WHEREAS Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are proud Canadians who have a special relationship with our Quebec neighbours and share their wish to change Canada in ways necessary to make the country better serve our respective provinces;

AND WHEREAS Quebec and its people have been major contributors to building the greatness of Canada;

AND WHEREAS Quebec is acknowledged to be a distinct society by reason of its culture, language and legal system and the Constitution should be amended to accommodate that distinctness;

AND WHEREAS a united Canada is essential to future prosperity for all of the provinces, including Quebec, and the territories of Canada;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature of Newfoundland and Labrador, on behalf of the citizens of our Province, appeals to the people of Quebec to vote NO in their upcoming referendum and join with other Canadian in renewing our commitment to working together and taking prompt action to find new ways, including constitutional change, of accommodating the legitimate concerns of Quebec and modernizing our federation to ensure that it provides the most promising and democratic opportunities for promoting the security, prosperity and cultural integrity of all Canadians.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the resolution, 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.

I declare the resolution unanimously carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before moving to Statements by Ministers I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly three Boy Scouts from the First St. Mary's Boy Scout Troop along with their leader, Mr. Todd Noseworthy. The Boy Scouts are doing their citizenship badge and are visiting the House of Assembly today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to inform members that the government has appointed Dr. Linda Inkpen, to conduct a review of the overall custody functioning of the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre and the Pleasantville Youth Centre.

Secure Custody services provide for the secure containment of young offenders who have received dispositions of secure custody under the Young Offenders Act.

Although the primary function of secure custody is to provide protection for society from further criminal behaviour by secure containment, my officials must also address the needs of young persons serving a secure custody disposition. Accordingly, every young person in secure custody or remand placement is provided with an individual plan of care designed to respond to his or her behaviour, strengths and needs. Remand services provide for the temporary holding of young persons by court order while they are awaiting trial, disposition, or psychiatric assessment for trial purposes.

Two facilities exist in the Province, either of which may retain youths sentenced to secure custody or being held on remand status. The Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Centre at Whitbourne is an eighty-bed facility which includes sixty regular beds and a twenty-bed overflow capacity. The Pleasantville Youth Centre at St. John's is a ten-bed facility.

Dr. Inkpen will be placing particular emphasis on several areas in her review. They include: the appropriateness of the staffing model and its functional effectiveness in providing a safe and secure environment for residents and staff; the management-union interface and the degree to which this results in an effective partnership; the examination of the relationship between the custody requirements and the professional, educational rehabilitative and recreational programs; the appropriateness, application and adherence to policies and procedures within both facilities, particularly those pertaining to custody and confinement; the review of general suitability of staff training and qualifications.

Dr. Inkpen is very well respected in the community and I'm very pleased that we could retain the services of somebody with her ability. In the past Dr. Inkpen has been a private medical practitioner in St. John's and has been a staff physician at hospitals in Newfoundland and Ontario. She was a member of the provincial royal commission on employment and unemployment. She is a former president of Cabot College of Applied Arts, Technology and Continuing Education, and was chairperson of the health industry sector strategy for the Economic Recovery Commission. In addition, Dr. Inkpen has received numerous academic awards and has served on many provincial and national boards and committees, including the Atlantic Province's economic council and the Government of Canada National Innovations Advisory committee.

It is expected that the review will be completed on or about the end of April 1996. I eagerly await her findings and will report the same to members of this House when Dr. Inkpen's review is completed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in the absence of my colleague from St. Mary's - The Capes. We, on this side of the House certainly welcome the minister's Statement here today and the appointment of Dr. Inkpen, a very capable and respected lady whom I think will lend a spirit of independence to this review.

Mr. Speaker, the shame of it is, that it has taken eighteen months to two years to bring about this call for an independent enquiry, that is the shame of it, and the shame lies with the minister for procrastinating and not bringing this review about earlier, causing hardship to many of the parents and many of the residents at the Whitbourne Youth Centre, and at the remand centre here in St. John's.

I might also add that she lists five areas of emphasis which she puts forward in her Statement, and I would like to add one more, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the minister, if she would ask Dr. Inkpen to examine the possibility of having this facility come under the control of the Department of Justice rather than the Department of Social Services.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you.

I am pleased to inform the House today that the White Paper on Proposed Reforms to the Environmental Assessment Process, including a Draft Bill is now ready for public review.

The environmental assessment process is the instrument through which government measures the environmental impacts of development in this Province. Through this instrument, Mr. Speaker, my department upholds and promotes the principles of sustainable development. The environmental assessment process also has a significant impact on the economic development of the Province.

My department has undertaken to review the environmental assessment process as a result of a commitment made by government in the Province's Strategic Economic Plan. Our intention is to streamline the process and make it more efficient, while promoting and protecting the principles of sustainable development.

I am pleased to inform the House today that a review has now been conducted among key stakeholders. The proposed reforms to the existing legislation are contained in this White Paper. These stakeholders, Mr. Speaker, include individuals and groups who have experience with the environment assessment process, including industry, environmental groups and organizations, and other government departments.

I am also pleased to inform the House today of some of the findings of this review. First, that the protection of the environment is essential and secondly, Mr. Speaker, that the environmental legislation that was enacted in 1980 is fundamentally sound. There are in some cases, however, unnecessary impediments to development and so we need to streamline but not weaken the environmental process.

The new mission statements for the proposed environmental assessment process sums up for us the purpose and philosophy of the Environmental Assessment Act: "To ensure that when development proceeds, it does so in an environmentally acceptable manner.

My department is committed to the involvement of the public in the environmental assessment process. Since we are genuinely interested in the public's comments with regard to this process, we are making it as convenient as possible for the public to review this document. Not only are we using all the usual methods to make the White Paper available through the department, we are also taking advantage of new technologies to reach even the broader range of the public. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell the House that the White Paper on Proposed Reforms to the Environmental Process can now be accessed and retrieved on the INTERNET.

I am also pleased to say, and thank the officials, some of them who are here today from our Environmental Assessment Division, who have done a great deal of work on this process, and we look forward to a public review.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to thank the hon. minister for providing me with a copy of the White Paper on proposed reforms to the environmental assessment process. I did not have a great deal of time to examine it but I do have a few comments. When the minister says that his department upholds and promotes the principles of sustainable development we should not become so consumed or overwhelmed with development that we forget the impact that it could have on the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I realize that industry is interested in development and I am not opposed to development or industry making a profit. In this Province I realize we need that, however, the Department of the Environment has to be a watchdog so as developers and industry do all in their power to protect the environment. I am encouraged by the minister's statement that protection of the environment is essential; however, I would like to suggest to the minister that he become more cautious when the industry says that we need to streamline the environmental process.

Mr. Speaker, what is acceptable to industry may not always be acceptable to the environment. I trust he and his department will stand by its mission and its philosophy to ensure that when development proceeds it does so in an environmentally acceptable manner.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the absence of the Premier I will ask the Minister of Natural Resources questions about Terra Nova, the next expected large offshore oil development.

The government has been rather secretive and closed in its approach to the Terra Nova development, and in the absence of meaningful public consultation, rumours have abounded about what is going on. There has been much recent public speculation that an announcement of Terra Nova development will come soon. There has been speculation about the mode of development. There has been speculation about the kinds and amounts of benefits Newfoundlanders and Labradorians may receive. Would the minister update the House and the people of the Province about the Terra Nova opportunity? Would the minister take a more open approach to sharing information about opportunities? And will the minister say whether an announcement will be coming soon about Terra Nova development?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have not been at all secretive of the fact that we are negotiating for the next development. We have been having ongoing discussions with the Terra Nova consortium for some time now, dating back many years. This particular year we have been having more regular and continual discussions about the Terra Nova project, and we are all hoping that in due course we will reach agreement and we will be able to make it all public. But we can't lay out in front of the public all of the detailed negotiations - that is not a very good negotiating strategy - but we have made it quite clear to the people of the Province and to the industries that have an interest in this, what we are doing.

Not only that, but regularly we meet with representatives of the industry. NOIA, the Newfoundland Offshore Industry Association has met with me fairly regularly and with my staff, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and his staff, and others fairly regularly, and I expect we will be having other meetings in the near future as a continuation of that process, because we receive information from them as to how they feel about this, their views on this, and we continue to carry on the discussions with the consortium. We hope that it is soon. It may not be; I don't know.

If I make a correlation with the Hibernia time, we went on for a considerable period when somebody in the media would speculate about a particular date and that date would be missed, and then they would speculate about another date and that date would be missed, and so on, so we do not speculate about dates. We are negotiating, and we are making good progress, but we are not there yet. When we get there we will be glad to let the people know, and we will be glad to share the information, but we are trying to negotiate the best deal possible for this Province.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister of Natural Resources to tell the House of Assembly and the people of the Province what principles are guiding the government's talks with the Terra Nova consortium. What goals does the government have for the Terra Nova development?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Our principle is quite clear, Mr. Speaker. Our principle is, if this is to go forward as a development to get what is the maximum possible for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as a benefit from its development. That is the guiding principle for us here. We aren't lying down and saying: Develop at all costs. Not at all. But am I going to stand up today and say: Here is the list of everything that we are discussing. No, I'm not going to do that. We are negotiating and we are trying to get the best deal possible, and we are going to get the best deal possible.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Supplementaries for the Minister of Natural Resources.

People know that if the government focuses in the Terra Nova deal on gaining royalties instead of jobs and technology transfer, most of the benefits could be subtracted from our equalization transfers from the Federal Government, and where would that leave us. I ask the minister, what benefits does Newfoundland and Labrador have the opportunity of accruing from Terra Nova development, and which benefits does the government consider to be the priority?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, we are discussing benefits, we are discussing royalties, we are discussing regulatory matters, we are discussing all matters relative to Terra Nova, and when the deal is done we will tell the people how good a deal we have.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have supplementaries for the Minister of Natural Resources. Can the minister assure us that the government is doing nothing to unreasonably delay the start of Terra Nova development? Does the minister understand that there is a momentum associated with Hibernia that is in danger of being lost if there is a significant delay between the Hibernia and Terra Nova developments? Does the minister understand that many local businesses, for financial reasons, will be unable to weather an extended gap between developments, and with their demise would go opportunities for growth and employment that our Province can ill afford to lose?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member cannot have it both ways. She cannot have us lie down as a Province and say: Come at all costs and do what you wish at any time, versus have the best deal possible for this Province, and we are negotiating to get the best deal possible for this Province. We understand the situation with the companies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct a question to the Minister of Health.

A review of the Newfoundland Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation was completed back in 1992. This report has 101 recommendations to address growing concerns within the operation of the foundation. I ask the minister: Will he inform this House how many of those 101 recommendations now have been implemented.

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

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

Yes, there was a review done in 1992 and a number of the recommendations have been acted upon and implemented. Some are ongoing and in the process of being implemented. If you want the exact number as of 2:22 today, I can check on that with the Chairman of the Board and I would be happy to so inform the House.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to finding out how many are implemented, and I will appreciate the result tomorrow.

Now Mr. Wayne Thistle of Memorial University submitted a report to the minister in August regarding a dispute between Dr. Ganguly and the Cancer Foundation. Now will the minister confirm that Mr. Thistle recommended that the Cancer Clinic come under the control of the Health Care Corporation of St. John's?

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

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

The report to which the member refers was to review a specific staff incident that occurred with administration on May 24 at the Cancer Clinic. The report, or the work done by Mr. Thistle at my request, was not to deal with anything beyond that. As a result of his work there were a number of recommendations, or options more correctly stated, put forward as to a possible resolution to the incident that he reviewed, and I am happy to inform the member and the House that as a result of that work substantially we were able to achieve the resolution to the staff matter such that Dr. Ganguly has returned to work doing his clinical practice at the Cancer Clinic under the auspices of the Health Care Corporation.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I inform the minister yes, it was one of the five options that it come under the Health Care Corporation by Mr. Thistle, even though the minister will not confirm it.

I will ask the minister: Will he do what I called for back in July, and announce now that the Cancer Clinic will come under the Health Care Corporation of St. John's?

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

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

No, I will not make that announcement at this point; nor will I commit to making the announcement at any time in the future. What I will commit to the hon. member is that if and when that becomes an appropriate course of action to take, after having appropriate consultations with the board of the Cancer Foundation - preliminary discussions I have already had on some aspects of the work over there - if and when it becomes an appropriate recommendation and a decision to put to government to move in that direction, I will be glad to inform him thereafter, but I can assure the House and I can assure the hon. member that no decision at the moment is being formulated or contemplated that would give effect to that type of proposition.

It has been put to me long prior to the incident at the Cancer Clinic that in view of the restructuring of the health care in St. John's, back last fall when I went into health first, that the suggestion was made to me by many that maybe it is an appropriate time to look at other agencies in health care in the St. John's area that might more appropriately and conveniently fit under the umbrella of the Health Care Corporation. Well, we will do that if it is appropriate.

The Health Care Corporation is up-and-running. It has a large mandate and a large operation to look after, and we will add to that mandate only when it is appropriate in the best interest of providing better quality health care for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is our primary objective, and that is the thing that we will always bear in mind first and foremost, what is best for health care, what is best for cancer treatment care, what is best for the people of this Province in that regard, and other matters that might be of an administrative nature or second (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board some questions dealing with the proposed sale of Holiday Inns.

Members will know that the buildings known as Holiday Inn are owned by Hotel Holdings Limited, which is a wholly owned Crown corporation put in place for the purpose of building and owning and leasing to Atlific Holiday Inns. Would the minister tell us, what debt is outstanding now from Hotel Holdings to government, in principle and interest? There was a debenture in place. Has the debenture been paid up as it was supposed to have been paid I think in 1993? What debt is outstanding is owed on those buildings, at this point in time?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would take the question under advisement and give a detailed accounting. The reason for it is several. I have seen a figure recently that there is a receivable on our books of approximately $29 million, which may be the figure that the hon. member is referring to. But as he knows, it was a matter of some dispute between the government and Atlific Inns as to what if any amount might be owing under some documents back in the 1960s that were signed when the hotels were originally built. So probably not to confuse the issue, he is probably familiar with it, I will get a detailed breakdown of what amounts are currently owing and to what they are attributable.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would appreciate the minister getting the information. I'm surprised he doesn't have it at hand. Perhaps not with him, but I'm sure we are in this stage of the divesture that he must know that.

Could he also tell us, has a recent market appraisal been done? The minister has quoted an approximate figure which is probably reasonably accurate of what the debt is. Do we have a market appraisal done on those buildings so we know what the actual market value is, as compared to the debt at this point in time? Has that been done recently? Would he tell us what if - he probably doesn't know -, but would he also tell us when he reports back what profit has government been making on an annual basis in recent years? Because obviously Atlific is paying a fee for the rental of those buildings, the lease of those buildings, from Hotel Holdings. How much return has government been getting on an annual basis in the last couple of years? Could he tell us that information, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I will provide the hon. member with the information. The hotels have not been that profitable in recent years because the hotel industry, as the hon. member is aware, has not had high occupancy rates for the most part, and the Holiday Inns are as much subject to that as anyone else. I will provide that detailed information to the member.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, would the minister tell us this - surely he must know this. There are some bids that have been received. Would he tell us how many bids have been received? I think they closed last Friday. Would he tell us what bids have been received?

More importantly, will he tell us how government proposes to assess those bids? Will the main criteria simply be the amount of money? Is government simply trying to get as much money as possible? Or will he be considering the firms that are local Newfoundland companies that wish to own and operate these facilities? Is he proposing to take only a bid that bid on all five of the facilities? I understand there may have been bids on one or more but not all five. Are those acceptable? More importantly, will he be looking at what the long-term proposal is for those facilities, which companies are proposing to invest into expansion on the facilities, upgrading, expansion and actually diversifying those facilities to make them more rounded tourist attractions? Would he tell us what the criteria for selection is?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you Mr. Speaker. The criteria includes some of the matters that the hon. member mentioned. First of all, of course, government is concerned about maximizing return to the taxpayers who've really spent a lot of money over the years. Secondly, we are concerned about the long-term viability of the Holiday Inns and we are looking at the total number of bids that have been received.

In terms of assessment, we have approximately ten bids. One was for all five hotels, one was for four hotels, several were for a combination of hotels in St. John's and Clarenville, we had three for Port aux Basques. So it has taken the departmental officials some time to do a departmental assessment on it. We will then present it to Cabinet with concerns, some of which the hon. member has expressed, and Cabinet will in turn give direction as to which of any bids it should accept in what shares, and secondly whether or not we need a second or an outside evaluation of that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I would like to give the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations an opportunity to break his astonishing silence about a matter that has many Newfoundlanders nervous, and that is the changes to the UI system that the federal minister has been discussing now for months. Changes like decreased benefits, increasing the minimum qualifying period, and the elimination of regional advantages. Can Newfoundlanders take the silence of this minister as unspoken approval by this government of the actions of the federal government?

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

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

Let me say to the hon. member, I think probably late last May or early June officials of my department and myself started negotiations and/or discussions with Minister Axworthy re UI and other social issues that certainly are of extreme importance to all our people both in Newfoundland and Labrador. As we moved on other ministers who deal with social problems became involved. I think we did an exceptional job and I think our staff did an exceptional job in putting forward the position on behalf of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

I would suggest also to the member that we have initially dealt with the minister when we heard the phrase `two-tier' which on behalf of the people of this Province was obviously something that was not very acceptable because of the long term employment that is afforded some Newfoundlanders and of course what is extremely important is the seasonal employment. We managed and I think that other ministers and myself managed to take away, not only the phrase `two-tier' but some of the components associated with it. I would suggest to the member that Minister Axworthy is very, very much aware of the position of the Province, where we are, the representation we've made on behalf of our people and we continue to make. There was no secret agenda; I think we are just waiting now for Mr. Axworthy to put in place his statement.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, when it comes to doing nothing the minister is a real go getter.

In 1992, approximately $1.1 billion came to the Province in total from the UI system. This past year $645 million came, from $1.1 billion to $645 million, at the same time the unemployment statistics in this Province have grown. This all happened without one sound from the minister or any ministers over there. How much more will be chopped from this $650 million if the latest crusade by Axworthy and Ax Murphy is imposed upon us?

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me say to the hon. member that there are an array of conditions that contribute to the numbers that he has read out over there. Number one, it was only a week ago that the Premier talked about the 4 per cent decrease in unemployment of the Province, that has played a role. The number of people who would have seasonally been involved in the ground fishery, those people are now in the TAGS program, some 30,000. So I think for the member to quote figures -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: So for the member to quote figures - look, we've dealt with this as rationally and as positively as we can on behalf of the people. We understand the season component associated with not only fishery but our forest products and all our resource industries, the mining, the forest products and even beyond that, I say to the member. We have talked to Mr. Axworthy about the people who have indirectly been involved in the fishery for years -the truck drivers and those who supply equipment - who are not in a position to obtain TAGS funding, who worked for twenty-four, twenty-five or twenty-seven weeks and were able to get their UI. It has had a dramatic impact on the whole Province. So I say to the member we are dealing constantly and continually - and just about every week I talk to Minister Axworthy as do several other colleagues associated with other social programs. Believe me, the federal government is very aware of the position that this Province is in right now with regards to UI, to TAGS and all other social programs that we derive money from the federal government. I say that sincerely to the member.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is aware of very little, I say to him, including TAGS we are still in excess of $300 million less than what we were in 1992 with a higher unemployment rate in this Province. Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister this to see if he can answer the questions.

Has the minister researched what it would mean for Newfoundlanders to increase the UI entrance requirements to thirty-five hours a week, and a minimum of twenty weeks of work, and what percentage of current applications would fail to qualify? Now that he has everything researched so well and he has all the answers, and you have told everything to Mr. Axworthy, tell the people of Newfoundland how many of them would fail to qualify?

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

MR. MURPHY: I am sure the member doesn't expect me to have those kinds of statistics at my fingertips right now. Let me say to the member that I will have the figures for him this afternoon if I can get them this afternoon if not, I will have them tomorrow morning; as soon as I can obtain the figures, I will obtain the figures. I mean, I don't have a crystal ball, I say to the member, I can't draw on all these figures constantly and continually. You know, we are facing a very serious situation, I say to the member, in trying to address the problems associated with UI. Now every time you approach the feds, from officials and what have you, you hear the phrase: `a dollar in, seven out' and those kinds of things so it isn't easy. It isn't easy, I say to the member but the figures that he asks for I will have for him tomorrow.

MR. TOBIN: Tomorrow?

MR. MURPHY: Well, if I can get them this afternoon, I will get them this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

I would like to ask the minister if his department plans to play an active role in providing financial help for the Cabot 500 national celebrations in this Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The question itself I don't understand the detail of it. Maybe I should just sit down and wait for the supplementary because I know he is really going to ask something in a minute. That wasn't really a question, because the celebrations for the 500th Year have been well in hand for some time and I believe everybody in the Province understands that the bulk of the money that has been spent to date in terms of planning and organizing for a major celebration in 1997, has been contributed from provincial government sources.

There have been some federal government contributions but there are plans well in hand now for a significant celebration in 1997 that I am sure the hon. member opposite and everybody in this Legislature and everybody in the Province hopes is a tremendous success, and a stepping stone for us to a higher level of tourism activity in the Province into the foreseeable future and the bulk of what has been spent in terms of planning and organizing to date has been from provincial government sources.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, on a supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister's activity is certainly not evident.

Would the minister inform the House if his department will be taking part in financing a legacy project? Now that the federal government has stated that they will not be participating in such a venture, and if so, where will the 500th anniversary legacy project take place?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question much more to the point this time and a wonderful opportunity I think, to make sure that everybody understands the distinction between the celebration of a 500th year anniversary in 1997, which is planned to be a year-long series of events through all regions of the Province, the Island and in Labrador versus - and that particular thing right now being planned and co-ordinated by a separate corporation, a Crown Corporation, the Cabot 500th Anniversary Corporation, so we are looking at a series of events. The hon. member now, Mr. Speaker, asks about a legacy structure. We had talked previously but this is a completely separate issue and I appreciate the opportunity to spell out the distinction and the difference.

The planning of the events for a year of celebration is completely separate and apart from any plans to try and leave a legacy structure in the Province. Our initial efforts were to try to encourage other financial participation with our own so that we could probably take care of a need in the Province with respect to the archives, the museum and an art gallery. That, unfortunately didn't materialize, Mr. Speaker.

In the meantime, the hon. member opposite was leading a bit of a charge at that time, suggesting that if we did succeed in such a structure it should be built in Bonavista rather than in the capital city region of St. John's. It seems that at this point in time it won't happen, we have in the meantime stated on several public occasions, Mr. Speaker, that because of the significance of the John Cabot landfall in Bonavista, and that is one of the major events that is going to be celebrated in 1997, that if there is to be a legacy structure it most appropriately should be build in Bonavista if we can manage to build one at all.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: I call on the minister, Mr. Speaker, to end the procrastination. Volunteers have put forward countless hours of dedication and deserve to be informed. Will the minister announce today that his department will commit financial help and have an already identified legacy project approved and have it constructed in the historic town of Bonavista, the place where the event happened 500 years ago?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately I cannot accede to the request of the hon. member to announce any such thing today. It is true, though, and I am glad he did acknowledge the great amount of work that has gone on by volunteers, many of them in the Bonavista area, and everybody involved with the Discovery Trail, Tourism Association and so on. There have been several representations made over the last number of months with respect to an appropriate and significant legacy project for Bonavista.

We have had a series of meetings, dating now through some several months, trying, mainly, to make sure that the people directly in the Bonavista area come to some consensus themselves as to what it is they would like for the provincial government to participate in, because over the period of time there have been five, if not six, different groups each approaching the government, each approaching myself as the minister responsible, suggesting that their particular project should be the legacy project. We have done an analysis and assessment of that. We have conducted an extensive number of meetings most recently in the last couple of months and we are in a position now where our department and myself as minister will be bringing the issue to Cabinet for full consideration and discussion.

Once that particular discussion has been held, Mr. Speaker, I will then be in a position to announce publicly whether the Province can get involved with the town of Bonavista with a legacy project, and if we are going to get involved, what that project will be.

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

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

I realize we are running out of time but I will try to condense a series of questions into one for my good friend the Minister of Education and Training. I want to ask the minister if he could tell the House, in short measure, what is the policy pertaining to usage of regional college vehicles for personal use? Is there a set of guidelines laid on? Is it the same as government policy, number one? Could he tell the House that, personal use of college vehicles I say to the Premier who looks across the House curiously? Is there a policy set by each board or does it mirror the provincial policy for personal usage? Has it been brought to the minister's attention, or the Premier's attention, that two top ranking officials of the Central Newfoundland Regional College - it is alleged that two top officials personally used college vehicles to transport two of their children to universities on the Mainland in the month of September.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the same policy applies to colleges as applies to government owned vehicles. These vehicles are not meant to be used for the private use of any employee. The incident that the hon. member is talking about - we did receive an unsigned letter from Central Newfoundland alleging that two people had done that and we are in the process of carrying out an investigation to see if there is any basis for it. To date we are not able to say. Normally, we would ignore an unsigned letter but the accusations that were made in the letter were of such a nature that we thought we should investigate them and it is being looked at. The hon. member can well imagine that we would be just as outraged as he if this letter is indeed true. I wish people would sign their letters because it would make it a lot easier for us to carry out an investigation.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give a report from the Government Services Committee. The committee has reviewed and approved for passage without amendment through the remaining stages of the House of Assembly, Bill 25, "An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991 And The Uniformed Services Pensions Act, 1991", and Bill 29, "An Act To Amend The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991, The Teacher's Pension 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", and have reviewed and approved Bill 26, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act" with the recommendation that subclause 1.(2) be amended by the substitution of the word `designated' for the word `design'.

Thank you.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In order to ensure that we have ample time to deal with the Term 17 amendment at whatever length the House should deem necessary today, may I first of all move that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m., Sir.

Motion carried.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker I remind members that, of course, today being Thursday we will have the Late Show, where I assume there will be some questions. There is some badinage going on here with my friend from Burin - Placentia West and my friend from Ferryland.

Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough, please, to call the motion with respect to the amendment of Term 17; it is Motion 4. My recollection is no member adjourned the debate. I am subject to correction by the Chair should I be incorrect. That being so, I assume some member will seek to catch Your Honour's eye.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 4, the hon. the Minister of Education and Training.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in this debate and offer my support, and to ensure all people in the Province that I will be supporting this resolution.

The earliest schools in Newfoundland and Labrador, as we all know, were founded by clergymen and church societies. The Royal Commission gives a few examples. The first recorded example of a school in Newfoundland and Labrador was an arrangement between the French at Placentia and the French at St. Pierre in the summer of 1686. Inhabitants agreed to support a Roman Catholic priest whose duties included teaching children for four months of that year, 1686. In the 1720s the Church of England clergyman, Rev. Henry Jones, established a school in the mid-1720s in Bonavista with a school mistress from England. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel first opened a school in the year 1744 in St. John's, under the direction of Reverend William Peasley. This society soon established schools in all the major Newfoundland communities. The Methodist church began a school in Harbour Grace in the 1760s under the direction of Reverend Lawrence Coughlan. The Methodists also opened a school in Old Perlican in 1774. So the very first schools to be operated in this Province were indeed denominational schools; however, the first government supported system - government supported - came in place with the Schools Act of 1836, and the Schools Act of 1836 was explicitly non-denominational.

MR. ROBERTS: My first term in the House.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the 1836 Schools Act. There are some interesting sums of money there. Honourable members will recall that this year in education we are spending about $800 million to deliver education to our people. In the year 1836 the sum of £2,100 was set aside for education in the Province, and that was guaranteed to be provided for five years. The next five years there were to be that amount, and it is laid out in the act who should receive that money. The Newfoundland School Society was to get £300. The Orphan Asylum was to get £100. The Presentation Convent was to get £100. St. Patrick's Free School was to get 100. I've looked through the act and I don't see the non-discriminatory funding. The Sisters of Mercy would get so much, but there was no non-discriminatory rule in there.

The act also clearly states that it would be the government of the day which would appoint the membership to the school boards. However, when these school boards were appointed the act also stated that the lead clergyman in each area that the board represented would be guaranteed to be appointed to the boards.

That was the first schools act when we were a self-governing colony in 1836. I believe it is 1832 we became a self-governing colony.

PREMIER WELLS: No, we got representative government.

MR. DECKER: Representative government.

PREMIER WELLS: Responsible was 1855.

MR. DECKER: Yes, responsible, but representative government was 1832. I believe with representative government we had a premier, if I'm not mistaken.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: The Minister of Justice tells me we did have a premier, but the prime minister came with responsible government, that is correct, yes.

Now, when this education act of 1836 was introduced it was clearly not a denominational system. However, you can be assured that not everybody in the colony was satisfied that there would be a non-denominational system. Some church leaders were dissatisfied, and the debate went on, Mr. Speaker, for forty years. For forty years there were political battles over whether or not the education system should be a denominational one or a public one.

The framework of our present denominational system took shape under the education act of 1874 and 1876. These laws in 1874 and 1876 allocated all public funds for schools to Catholic, Anglican and Methodist boards and replaced the government inspectors with denominational superintendents of education, and they were moved into the Department of Education. That is the system that was in place for over seventy years. This system was challenged from time to time, but nevertheless it became well entrenched into subsequent education laws and policies for the country of Newfoundland.

In 1949 when Newfoundland became a part of Canada Mr. Smallwood and others who were negotiating the Terms of Union, in consultation with the church leaders in this Province, proposed that the existing legal rights and privileges of the denominations would be protected against legislative change. This was written in the Terms of Union. Now this was not unique. As hon. members know, section 93 of the British North America Act made the same provision for Ontario, for some of the other provinces, Alberta and so on.

Mr. Smallwood and our people who were negotiating the Terms of Union felt that section 93 did not give the full protection to our denominational system, it did not reflect the kind of system that we had. Section 93 primarily refers to Catholic and Protestant education so our people who were negotiating felt that there should be a separate section. Therefore, Term 17 was put in place to deal primarily with the situation of Newfoundland. Also in Alberta, when it became a province, it was felt that section 93 did not adequately reflect its needs, and it has also a separate term in place of section 93, as Term 17 is in place of section 93. Term 17 of our Terms of Union transformed what previously had been ordinary laws governing education into constitutional parameters. It became a part of the Constitution.

In the 1960s in this Province there was widespread pressure to modernize and rationalize the school system, which by then consisted of 270 tiny school boards and 1,200 schools throughout the Province. Mr. Speaker, I am quite familiar with these 270 tiny school boards, I was chairman of two at the same time. In 1962, I was representing the United Church as a student minister up in Red Bay, Labrador. That year, the pastoral charge, the equivalent of a parish in other churches, was amalgamated and included Flowers Cove and Red Bay; however, the church did not amalgamate the school boards. So there was a Flowers Cove School Board and there was a Red Bay School Board. As the clergyman in Red Bay, I was ex officio chairman of both school boards.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there was very little authority in these school boards so it is unfair to suggest that all the big changes, where we see 200 school boards disappearing - we cannot associate that in any way with streamlining the system. I had a lot of help. I had a secretary-treasurer in Red Bay who wrote the cheque to pay the teachers, and we had a treasurer over in Flowers Cove who used to write the cheques to pay the teachers.

Now, my boards were exceptionally well-staffed but just down the coast in Port Saunders, my good friend, Father Nixon of the Catholic Church, didn't have anybody to serve on his board. He had to do it all himself, write the cheques and pay the teachers. But the work was not all that onerous because there was very little to do. The Superintendent of Education at that time for the United Church was Charlie Roberts, who was stationed here in the Department of Education. In the latter part of August, a telegram would arrive from Mr. Roberts, saying: You have Miss Jones who will be the Kindergarten teacher in Flowers Cove, you have Mr. Bound who will be the elementary teacher in Red Bay, and what have you. So the role of the school boards was simply to rubber stamp what was directed by the superintendent in the Department of Education.

As a result of the Warren Commission, two major changes took place in Newfoundland and Labrador, first, a restructuring in the numbers of school boards. These 200 boards were consolidated to put in place the twenty-odd - twenty-seven school boards that we have today. Secondly, the denominational superintendents who used to work in the Department of Education were removed and they were replaced by the DECs, the Denominational Education Committees. On the whole, the reforms of the Warren Commission did not change the framework of denominational education.

The Williams' Royal Commission in 1992 concluded that some elements of denominationalism, tracing back to pre-Confederation and protected by Term 17, should be changed. About twenty-five of these recommendations pertain directly to the governance of education in the Province. The governance which these recommendations refer to is protected by Term 17, and government cannot implement these recommendations unless we have consensus or unless we change the Constitution.

The education system in this Province, as hon. members know, at this time is totally paid for by government. Government pays the full shot. Now, I think it would be fair to say that throughout the Province a lot of volunteers who are involved with education would not be involved if it were not for the church. I don't think there is any point in trying to cover that up. I want to pay tribute to the Pentecostals. The Pentecostals, by-and-large, tend to put more capital dollars into their schools than do the Catholic or do the integrated at this time. If you go to a school in this Province and the parking lot is paved, nine chances out of ten it will be a Pentecostal school. The Province does not pave the parking spaces or the playgrounds but the Pentecostals, in several examples, have done that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: They did it themselves?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Yes, is it paved?

AN HON. MEMBER: They did in the past.

MR. DECKER: Oh, yes, in the past. Thank you very much.

In the community where I live, in Roddickton, for years the Pentecostals could not get a gymnasium and it came to the point where they had to raise $50,000 themselves to do it. That was in recent years. They were not required by law to do it but they quite willingly went out and raised their money. So we cannot underestimate that even though the system is totally funded by government, that the churches, through their people, do put a fair amount of money and volunteer effort into the system. The educational system, as I said, is totally paid for by government, but it is governed and administered by the churches. If we look at the system at the denominational aspects, we will find that there are two broad categories into which we can divide the system. The first category is the one to which I just referred, structure and governance and the structure and governance translate itself into the four distinct systems that we have in the Province.

Now, the Seventh Day Adventist is a very small system, so I suppose it is hardly fair - they don't have a superintendent, they don't have a DEC so it is hardly fair to put them into the same class as you would the Pentecostal or the Roman Catholic or the Integrated. However, according to the Constitution, they have exactly the same rights with their 1,000 people as the Roman Catholics would have with the 36 per cent of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The second category of our education system reflects the religious content of the school experience. In the very first meeting which took place between government and the churches, it became perfectly clear that all the churches wanted to keep the religious component of education into the system. Keep religious education was the message. Keep the Lord's Prayer was the message. Keep religious observances; keep the Easter programs, the Christmas programs; keep the crucifixes on the walls; keep the picture of Christ on the wall. These were the things that came forward in the very first meeting - let's keep religion in the schools, and, Mr. Speaker, at no time, did government disagree with the wish to keep religion in the school. We shared that same position.

The resolution that we are talking about today, the revised Term 17 clearly states, schools established, maintained and operated with public funds shall be denominational schools, and any class of persons having a right under this Term as it read January 1, 1995, shall continue to have the right to provide for religious education, activities and observances for the children of that class, so I, Mr. Speaker, am convinced, I am confident, I am sure that what we are putting in place if we change the Constitution, implement this amendment to Term 17, is a school system where the right to the Lord's Prayer, the right to religious observances is just as entrenched and probably more entrenched than it was in Term 17.

So I believe that the wish of church and state at our first and subsequent meetings was to ensure the religious component of the Education system of Newfoundland has been met. I stand on that, Mr. Speaker, I am confident.

However, we could not agree on governance. Government has made it perfectly clear, right from the very beginning that in our opinion there is no need for the churches to have control over governance in order to exercise the denominational rights. What does governance mean? Governance means that the churches through the DECs, will decide where schools are located. We don't believe it is necessary for churches to decide where schools are located in order for them to have the religious rights. Control of the school construction budget: We don't believe it is necessary for churches to have control over the school construction budget in order to protect their right to the Lord's Prayer. Set the school district boundaries: That is a right of governance which belongs to the churches; we don't believe it is essential that the churches decide what the boundaries of a board will be in order to protect the right to religious observances.

The right to hire and fire teachers except in the specific uni-denominational school: We don't believe it is essential that the churches should have the right to hire and fire teachers except in the uni-denominational school and except for their religious education teacher in all schools. Apart from that, we don't see where it is necessary for the church to decide to have had that right in order to protect the religious component of the school. Teacher certification: At this moment, in this Province, in order to be a teacher, a person must have a certain amount of education, a certain standard, and so on and so forth, but some church representative, a priest or a minister, must certify that Chris Decker is qualified to be a teacher. We don't think that is necessary. For the hiring and firing of the teacher, the uni-denominational school or the religious education, we believe yes, there is a place for that, but under the present system some great Jewish scholars would not qualify to be a teacher unless he could get some United Church minister of Roman Catholic priest to recommend him. Albert Einstein could not teach in our system unless he were certified and unless some priest or some Anglican minister were prepared to recommend him. We do not think that is necessary. We believe we can protect the right to have the Lord's Prayer, the right to religious observances, the right for a religious ambience in the school, without having all of these governance issues in the hands of the churches.

Church involvement in governance has resulted, as I said, in four systems, and allowing for the Seventh Day Adventist, let us call it three-and-one-quarter systems, or whatever. As a result of these three-and-one-quarter systems, we have extensive administration in this Province, the most heavily administered system in all of Canada. When we speak of student-teacher ratio we have one of the best in the country, there is no doubt about that - I believe, the best. Now, when student-teacher ratios are put in place you take into consideration the classroom teacher and the teachers in administration, the supervisors, all the co-ordinators, and those people who are in board offices who are teachers. Every single province in the country does the same thing. When we talk about our rich, our good teacher-student ratio, it does not translate into the classroom because too many of our professional teachers are involved in administration. The administrative overburden which is there need not be there.

On the provincial level, with this administrative overburden, we have denominational education councils. As I said earlier, the superintendents used to be in the Department of Education. In the 1960s they were moved out and we had the DECs, which are, for all intents and purposes, the repositories of the denominational rights. We have three of them in the Province today and they cost about $1 million to operate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Each of them?

MR. DECKER: No, in total. The Royal Commission recommended that DECs be abolished and that the function which they now hold in religious education would be put into another body, the provincial denominational policy commission, the role in religious education. I am convinced that if we were to abolish the DECs today, carry out this recommendation and have this denominational policy committee take responsibility for religious education, developing the programs, certifying the teacher to teach the religion, and all that, if the were done and the DECs were abolished, I can tell you that there would be no negative impact on any student anywhere in this Province today. Year, after year, after year, we are spending $1 million, $2 million, $3 million, every year on an organization which does nothing for the education of our children except for their religious education, and as I pointed out, this would be dealt with under another program.

During the referendum, we were criticized for spending $1.8 million on the referendum. If we could address this one issue alone, in two years we can save the cost of our referendum, plus $200,000 to the good, Mr. Speaker. We cannot abolish the DECs without the permission from the churches because their very existence is part of governance and Term 17 says that without the consent of the churches, or a change of constitution, we cannot abolish the DECs.

There are twenty-seven school boards in the Province today with twenty-six superintendents, with fifty-two assistant superintendents, with twenty-seven business managers, dozens of secretaries, 129 co-ordinators. The average cost per school board is $1,015,300.

The Williams report recommends that we would bring the number of school boards down to nine. The government, in consultation with the churches back and forth, suggested that we would go with ten, for a savings of $17 million per year. We are criticized for spending $1.8 million on the referendum. If we could go to our nine boards or ten boards and save $17 million per year, in every year we can save the cost of more than eight referendums on just that one issue alone.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many new schools?

MR. DECKER: We cannot - a new school board costs about $3 million to $4 million, so make it up for yourself, my hon. colleague. Seventeen million dollars a year.

Now, in fairness, there is an agreement in place between government and churches that we can abolish all boards that have less than 2,000 children. if we were to carry out that agreement we could have, over the past couple of years, allowed two or three or four boards to disappear. I have to acknowledge that. However, the government and the Department of Education and Training decided not to do that because we did not want to inflict a double-whammy on the system. We honestly believed that we would have reached consensus a year-and-a-half ago and we would have had to make major changes throughout the Province, closing down seventeen boards, so we didn't want to have a double-whammy. In retrospect maybe we should have closed up two or three boards. That is probably an error that we made, but we didn't do it.

There are 479 schools in the Province with 114,000 children. Projections five years ago, Mr. Speaker, led us to believe that we would have in this Province today 116,500 students. In actual fact, we only have 114,000. In 1972, a few years ago, we had 163,000 children in our school system. In ten years, if the projections hold, and I'm confident that they will - they will probably be worse than we are anticipating. In ten years, there will be less than 90,000 children in our schools. Both the churches and the government in this Province agree today that there are about 100 schools out there that should be closed, about 100 schools that could be consolidated, but they are not necessarily the same schools.

You see, there exists church policy. Clearly, the Pentecostal policy and the Roman Catholic policy is that before any attempts are made to consolidate across denominational lines you must use up all options within the denomination. That explains why, in the Pentecostal, for example, instead of a consolidation taking place between Holyrood Pentecostals and Holyrood Roman Catholics - and I know the numbers are very small in Pentecostals - instead of the Pentecostals entering into consolidation with one of the integrated schools between Seal Cove and Vaters, they consolidate within that broad region. So they have one school in the area, but they bus pass seven or eight or nine perfectly viable schools. The Roman Catholics are doing exactly the same thing, and the Integrated to a certain extent have done the same thing. The policy is to integrate within your denomination. We are suggesting that we consolidate across denominational lines.

I have been advised that I have only three minutes left, so I'm going to have to try to clue it up.


MR. DECKER: A bit of leave? Okay. I have a lot of other points there I was going to do, Mr. Speaker.

We are suggesting that when a school becomes non-viable, the first attempt to make it viable would be to consolidate all the schools within a certain radius of that area. Rather than busing past other schools, you would do it. That leads us to viability. At the moment, government cannot set viability guidelines. That is part of governance. Now, we maintain that viability should be based solely and totally on educational grounds. The churches have insisted that, some way or other, there would be a denominational component in viability. We have stood firm; no. We believe, education first, so we are suggesting that under our system, 100 schools will be consolidated, or more, but they will be done in most cases across denominational lines, unless the two schools are side by side and of the same faith.

I have a lot of notes here which I am going to have to try to pick out. I wanted to talk about what the system would look like, and I believe that if I can get a couple of minutes leave I might deal with that. Government has made no effort to hide the fact that we want governance removed from the churches. We have made no effort to hide the fact that we want religion to stay in the schools. We believe that the governance of the educational system should be removed from the churches and given to the elected members of this House of Assembly and the elected members of the school boards. Now, I don't apologize for suggesting to you today that elected people should govern the education system. Presidents and Prime Ministers, MPs and MHAs, are elected to govern nations. Therefore, it should not be radical to suggest that those who control education should be the elected representatives of the people.

With a revised Term 17, we will immediately reorganize the governance and the administration. The structure will change. We will put in place a multi-denominational system, a unified church system, with provision for uni-denominational schools, single denominational schools where numbers warrant, where they are viable, where the people of the area want them, where they will not make other schools non-viable. We will not bus past viable schools to take children to an interdenominational or a uni-denominational. I think that clearly shows what we are looking at.

We will put in place ten interdenominational boards. Each board would have one supervisor, one superintendent, with the appropriate support staff. Two-thirds of the members who would serve on that board would have to be members of one of the churches who hold rights in order to offer themselves as candidates to serve on that board. So I go to be elected to the school board; I am Chris Decker, and I belong to the United Church. If I want to run, I will list my name as being United Church, or I think integrated, or whichever way that will be dealt with, or Roman Catholic.

We have further said that in areas where the church so wishes, when the board for St. John's, for example, is put in place, assuming that 60 per cent of the people in this area are Roman Catholic, the church will have the right, if they so wish to exercise it, to say that of the two-thirds of the board which will be elected by referring to denomination, the churches will have the right to say, `We want 60 per cent of them to be Roman Catholic.' The Pentecostal can insist, `We want 10 per cent of them to be Pentecostal', and so on and so forth. The other one-third of the board will not have to declare their religious denomination in order to be a candidate. Some of them may well be Jews; some of them may well be Moslems, or they might all be Roman Catholics, or they might all be Anglicans.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) run for a Catholic seat on the board?

MR. DECKER: No. Well, the churches can do that. That is up to the church. If the Roman Catholics can say, `Our candidate is Jack Harris', or whatever the case might be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Catholic.

MR. DECKER: Okay, Pastor Batstone. If the Catholics say, `Our candidate...', I suppose that can be done, but that is a detail we haven't really looked into. I don't know if it would be necessary or not. The fact of the matter is that two-thirds of them will have to say they belong to a certain church.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: I can explain. I do not know how much time -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Was the hon. member notified his time was up?

MR. DECKER: Thank you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: I can talk to you privately. I will conclude then, if you will give me a few seconds.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I will put what we are trying to do into very simple terms for my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West. Put in simple terms, here is what the changes in the constitution will allow. The change will allow this: The control of governance will be removed from the churches and entrusted to the elected school boards and the elected House of Assembly.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, religious education, religious observances and activities will remain - will continue to be as we put into the Constitution - will remain under control of the churches, guaranteed under a revised Term 17 just as strongly as it is guaranteed today. You will see the elected government governing and you will see the churches doing, Mr. Speaker, what only they can do best, take responsibility for all aspects of religion in the schools just as they take responsibility for religion in society today. Thank you for giving me leave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues have chided me as to when I would make my maiden speech -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MACKEY: - well this is it and the issue is of such importance and significance, now is the moment.

Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday last, the Premier presented in this House a resolution seeking to amend Term 17 of the Canadian Constitution effectively to abolish, regardless of what the Premier says, the fundamental rights in education currently held by Roman Catholics, Pentecostals and adherence of other denominations in this Province. This action was taken by government on the basis of a 'yes' vote by only 28 per cent of eligible voters in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is now history and yes, the yes side did get a small majority vote. However, Mr. Speaker, we must not overlook the fact that over 90,000 people or 46 per cent of those who voted, voted 'no.' Mr. Speaker, I would like to use a quote made by a German official involved in the Second World War. He was quoted afterwards as saying, `They came for the Jews and I said nothing, they came for the Catholics and I said nothing, they came for me and there was no one there to speak for me.' Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for the 90,000 who did say something.

The Premier seemed somewhat disturbed and surprised that so many people expressed their desire to retain rights protected in Term 17. Mr. Speaker, in a ministerial statement made in the House on March 12, 1993 - and this was referenced by the hon. Member for St. John's Centre and the hon. Member for Twillingate and other hon. members who have spoken in this debate - the Premier gave an undertaking that his government would not seek a change to the Constitution that would remove constitutionally protected rights of the various classes of persons unless there was a consensus of the party's concerned. Mr. Speaker, this position was presented to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador on the eve of the last election. One wonders what the result would have been if this was the issue. Again, Mr. Speaker, when the Premier arose in the House last Tuesday to introduce the resolution to amend Term 17, one of his first remarks was, `rights are not affected' and again he said, `We don't want to abolish the denominational system.' Mr. Speaker, this is double talk, a double standard and somewhat hypocritical.

Mr. Speaker, when the Terms of Union of Newfoundland with Canada were being negotiated in 1949, great care was taken by those negotiating on behalf of Newfoundland to ensure that denominational rights in education would be fully recognized, protected and strongly entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. Mr. Speaker, I might venture to say that the importance of denominational education was so important at the time of Confederation that without it Newfoundlanders would not have voted to enter union with Canada.

Mr. Speaker, the Terms of Union constitute a contract, a covenant between sovereign peoples. These terms should not be altered or amended by other legislation unless it is by mutual consent. Term 17 strongly entrenches denominational rights in education in Newfoundland by providing that the Legislature of Newfoundland would not have the authority to make laws affecting any right or privilege with respect to denominational schools that any class or classes of person have by law in Newfoundland as of the date of union.

Government's resolution to strip churches of their educational rights held on behalf of their respective classes of people is an extreme measure that should cause every Newfoundlander, regardless of which side of the denominational schooling they stand, to be on guard. When a right that is entrenched in our country's Constitution stands in the way of what this government wants to do it apparently will not hesitate to remove that right. Of what value then are entrenched rights?

Unfortunately, the people of Newfoundland have been fed with two myths with the intent of destroying support for our denominational school system. These two myths are: firstly, the denominational system is wasteful and costly; secondly, our quality of education is adversely affected by our denominational school system.

They are myths because our denominational school system has consistently worked to provide maximum cost efficiency with the scarce dollars made available, and to the extent of substantially subsidizing those dollars with generous contributions from church members. With those scant dollars our denominational school system has done amazingly well. Can the system proposed by government do equally as well? Most likely not, for it is doubtful if the same commitment will prevail, and it certainly will not have the subsidies from church members.

Regarding the second myth, quality of education is affected by many factors such as curriculum, dedication of teachers, parental interest, home environment, and other socio-economic factors. While those factors are not denominational our denominational school system does make positive contributions to offset the negativism of those actions.

The proposed wording in the resolution to revise Term 17 attempts to give the impression that schools will remain denominational, and that churches will continue to have as much freedom, and perhaps even more than the old. In reality the educational partnership between government and churches is effectively removed and only remains at the whim of government or the challenges of the courts. The latter point is probably one of the most critical for Term 17, and if implemented will be open to court challenges. We should be reminded that across Canada and the United States it was court challenges that effectively removed prayer and Bible readings from schools. Let it be clear: Government's proposed Term 17 will not ensure the retention of religious practices and prayer, and it certainly will not ensure that our schools remain Christian.

I think we need to be very cautious with the slippery dealings of this government in this whole educational debate affecting any right or privilege with respect to denominational schools. The government might argue that it was given a mandate, and a weak mandate I might add, by the people of this Province to proceed with a resolution to amend Term 17. That is true, and I don't want to argue that, but there was very little effort by government to explain the proposed new Term 17. Trying to read and understand the text that the government put out was so perplexing and complicated that it had people confused and bewildered. Half the people were not quite sure on what they were voting. They were afraid to vote no because they thought there would be no reform in education.

The referendum question was worded in a manner that was favourable to the yes vote. The question was unfair since it clearly suggested that the only way to substantially reform our educational system was to amend Term 17.

Mr. Speaker, there were many people in my district who advised me they were voting `yes', not because they supported constitutional amendment but because they felt it was the only way in which they could express support for substantial reform in education. But is it right, that the majority should rule the minority in this way? Is this fair play? I don't think that the people of this Province should have been put in a situation to vote in a referendum which supports taking away any fundamental rights.

Mr. Speaker, constitutional rights are not unique to this Province; they exist for other provinces as well. While the systems of education may vary from province to province, where such rights apply the basic right to operate schools with an appropriate denominational character is the same. If this resolution passes, and should it pass at the House of Commons in the Senate and eventually become law, then Newfoundland and Labrador will be the only Province to lose these rights since Confederation.

Mr. Speaker, what this resolution is about, is changing the Canadian Constitution to tamper with the rights now held by certain classes of people in this Province. The government acknowledges that the proposed new Term 17 is intended to limit the rights held since Confederation. It says that religious rights and practices will continue in the schools. However, the new schools which the Province intends to legislate will in fact be secular or public schools which members of religious denominations will be permitted to exercise very little, limited activities. It will be virtually impossible to integrate these activities in the school curriculum, or to preserve any kind of denominational atmosphere in the school itself. These new schools, Mr. Speaker, will bear no resemblance of shared-service schools as we know them.

Mr. Speaker, what the government is proposing suggests that so-called uni-denominational schools may be re-established by denominations, but their very existence would be subject to the whim of the provincial Legislature from day to day, not on the rights or wishes of religious classes of people. There could be no truly denominational schools because the fundamental rights of the representatives of certain classes of people to govern them, would have been taken away. For the same reason, there would be no more shared-service schools because the rights of denominations to share them would be no more.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I fear that the proposed changes will be a real threat to the spirituality in our schools. It perhaps may not occur during the time any of us are now sitting in this House, but history will bear it out. Can this government give a guarantee that subsequent governments twelve, fifteen, twenty years down the road won't take advantage of the amended Constitution and eliminate religious practices and rights that denominations now enjoy? Mr. Speaker, I believe that the government's action is inappropriate because it violates the protection of minority rights under the Constitution. It would be unprecedented in Canada that minority rights would be extinguished without the consent of the minorities affected. This is unacceptable in a nation like Canada, which is founded under democratic ideals of justice and equality.

Mr. Speaker, government does have the responsibility to secure the best education for our children, however, having said that, government must also ensure that children are educated to their fullest potential and this includes the rights of parents and churches to choose the kind of education their children should receive. The right of parents to choose the kind of education they want for their children is a fundamental one, recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26, therefore, the amending of the Constitution to remove the rights of the classes of persons without their consent, would be a flagrant violation of this fundamental principle.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn attention to another facet in this debate. Some of the points I wish to address have already been alluded to by other speakers.

The Minister of Education and the Premier insist that our students perform academically far below students in the rest of Canada. I wonder what this does to the self image of our students. They quote batteries of test results which supposedly support their claim; however, the official publication, Profile '93, Educational Indicators, and Profile '94 present a much different picture. I would like to quote a couple of highlights:

As measured by the CTBS, Grade IV students made significant gains in performance in the areas of mathematic concepts, computation and problem solving. Secondly, additional Grade IV performance gains on the CTBS were recorded this year in reading comprehension, punctuation and work studies. Thirdly, compared to 1991 twelve out of twenty-seven school districts showed an increase in performance in basic skill areas. Fourthly, overall performance on Grade III provincial mathematics assessment indicates Grade III students, as a group, are meeting and in most cases exceeding the objectives of the primary mathematics program. Overall graduation rates have increased substantially from 59.5 per cent in 1988-'89 to 70.8 per cent in 1992-'93.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier said on Tuesday that we are only marginally ahead of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. In fact, our ranking in reading among sixteen-year-olds is double that of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. Examining the reading results for sixteen-year-olds shows Newfoundland ahead of the Canadian average, ahead of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Ontario, Manitoba, B.C., Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

The writing results showed the performance of sixteen-year-olds in this Province to be ahead of New Brunswick, P.E.I., Ontario, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

Our graduation rates - and this is from Statistics Canada, August 4, 1995 - shows Newfoundland ahead of Nova Scotia, Quebec, Alberta and B.C.

Mr. Speaker, who is correct? What information is valid and what is manipulative? In any event, what does it have to do with the call for a constitutional amendment? If our children are performing poorly, certainly it is not our children who are at fault. Is it the system, the Department of Education, or the Minister of Education? Do not blame it on denominational schools. It appears that denominational schools are being blamed for the woes of the department.

Mr. Speaker, reform that is necessary to provide the savings and the efficiencies that are required to provide our children with the best educational system possible can be realized with a co-operative effort with the churches. I find it rather disturbing when I see distorted facts and figures used by government to discredit our school system, and I can assure you that it will not be perfect with the change either.

There is much about our system with which we can take great pride. Realizing the shortfall in funding of approximately $1,500 per pupil in comparison with the Canadian average, and realizing the demography of our Province and the adversity of our socio-economic factors, we have done amazingly well. We do have great success stories. The hon. Member for Twillingate made reference to many of these.

The abusive manner in which the CTBS and other standardized scores have been selectively used to discredit our system does not tell the full story. I think that when this government and the Department of Education finds fault with our school system, it is their own reflection that frightens them. The truth of the matter is, the problem of school performance must be borne by the minister and his department. They have full control over the factors which determine the system's academic performance, and apparently have failed to provide the necessary education and academic leadership to achieve it.

When the minister points the finger at the churches as the culprits, three fingers are pointing back. The facts are clear. Let us not confuse the issue with a call for a constitutional amendment.

Mr. Speaker, curriculum plays a major role in academic achievement. If there is a problem with the curriculum, whose fault is it? The Department of Education and Training designs, develops and in-services all curriculum taught in the schools of Newfoundland and Labrador, with the exception of religious education. Have they known there was a problem and yet have done nothing about it? The minister authorizes all curriculum, even the textbooks to be used. What has the minister done about it? He has full authority over the curriculum.

The quality of teaching impacts student performance. The Department of Education and Training sets the standard for teacher education. The Faculty of Education at Memorial University trains the teachers for the Department of Education and Training and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association provides the bulk of in-service training. If the quality of our teachers is the problem the minister must be held responsible. His department certifies them and confirms their professional qualifications. He doesn't need a constitutional amendment to give him the authority or the power to do it; he exercises that power now.

The amount of time spent learning, or time on task as it is referred to in Adjusting the Course, is an important element in student performance. Who determines the amount of time spent in school? The minister, of course. He prescribes the length of the school year, the length of the school day, and the amount of time to be spent on each subject.

Evaluation is a very important factor in academic achievement. Who sets the criteria for evaluation or testing? You guessed it, it is the Department of Education and Training. The minister is responsible. The evaluation standard for these courses was determined by the Department of Education and Training. If these successful students are below the national standard, whose fault is it? It certainly isn't the churches' fault. They have no say, no authority, no responsibility, no control in these matters.

The need for a constitutional amendment to bring about the necessary reforms and an improvement in our education system is a cover for the inept leadership of the Department of Education and Training, and an excuse for the lack of positive action on the minister's part. We need reform, but do we need a constitutional amendment to achieve it? The government has the power to act on this matter now. The Premier said in this House last Tuesday: The law could not reform. I guess his way is to beat the people in the churches into submission. It came down to a power struggle as to who really is in control. I guess government wanted total power and control.

This constitutional wrangle is unnecessary, non-productive and a waste of millions of dollars. What this government is trying to do is divide and conquer. It is not content to see harmony among peoples. It seems to be a philosophy that permeates all its actions. It has divided Christian peoples in this Province; it has pitted people of one denomination against another, friend against friend, neighbour against neighbour, and family against family. Furthermore, it leaves some members on both sides of this House in an awkward situation in this debate. It is indeed regrettable that it has come down to this.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I might say, although a slight majority of those who voted in my district voted yes, I will be standing on principle and conviction to vote no on this resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MACKEY: I (inaudible) denominational system. If I must be judged by my constituents on my beliefs, values and practices, sobeit. I trust they will understand. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I take the opportunity to rise in the Chamber and speak in this important debate to a resolution that has some significance to all of us.

The resolution that is before the House is an important one. I believe it is incumbent upon all who so choose to stand in the Chamber and indicate whether they support or not support the resolution, and the basis on which they have come to that conclusion, and I want to be on the record as indicating why I support the resolution that is before the House.

In 1993 I came into the House of Assembly for the first time. I believe it was on December 1 there was a private member's resolution that had to do with the reorganization of education. I asked for the opportunity to speak in that private member's resolution because I wanted to lay out as clearly as I could the parameters within which I could support adjustments to the role of the churches in education as the government was embarking upon at that time. I had a concern at that time that the approach and the concept, that at least was in the public's mind, was one of removing entirely churches from any role in education in the Province, and I wanted to be very clear, and be on the record then, that I could not support the total removal of churches from education or the tampering of the arbitrary removal of their rights, or setting out a situation where their rights would be rendered inoperative.

I said that in the debate. I laid it out in Hansard, and it is there for anyone to read. I wrote hundreds of letters to constituents essentially saying the same thing. A couple of constituents have written me since and quoted me. I am glad that they did, and kept my letter for the record. So today, realizing two years ago that I would have to take a position in the Legislature on some form of adjustment to the education system I wanted to have my perimeters laid out in 1993 so that at whatever time in the future I had to reference that, and my position to it, I would do so.

I ask that the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia wait until I am finished. If he wants to judge my intent or my motives then let him judge it based on what I say and not on standards that he would set for himself and that he would use to impugn motives to others.

MR. TOBIN: I do not know (inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I have laid out a position in my own mind and I have laid out a position to everybody I have talked to in terms of educational restructuring, and my bottom line is this, however we go about it and whatever was achieved at the end of the day, for me and for the people I associate with, I believe the abiding principle and bottom line had to be this, that we would continue to enjoy the benefits of an educational system in which everybody could participate on a basis of having a right to be a participant and that the basis of that educational system be on the principles of the Judeo-Christian model.

I have looked at the wording of the revised Term 17 and I am sufficiently comfortable that what is provided there is a basis for a denominational system as stated to be operated on the principles of Judeo-Christian standards and ethics, and allowing for the classes of the people to have rights in education, to participate individually or collectively, in the school in the areas that are articulated there.

Now, let me, Mr. Speaker, do a little bit of anecdotal reminiscing for the members of the House. I belong to the Pentecostal faith. I believe that is pretty clear. Nobody in the Pentecostal faith that I know of has greater respect for the leadership of that church, or the leadership of any church for that matter, than I have myself. I have had the good fortune of supporting them and working with them, but let me tell you and let me tell the members of the House a little bit about what rights mean to me. You may not be able to relate to it as I relate to it.

I grew up in St. John's, the city we are in now. I had six brothers and sisters. There were seven of us and we had at that particular time no rights to attend any school in St. John's because we did not have a Pentecostal school in St. John's, so one did not exist. However, I had the good future of being able to attend an Anglican school. I went through the system and I obtained a good education. I have to confess in all honesty that I cannot relate to some of the suggestions that have been made in this Chamber, and outside, about prejudice and that sort of thing.

Forty years ago when I went through school in an Anglican system mixing with, in sports, other schools I cannot relate to the level of prejudice that some people apparently have experienced or allege existed. I did not find that. I found acceptance and I found graciousness from the teachers and from the people in the school, however, I went through the system because those who had rights in education accommodated me in that school. I graduated from it and there was never any suggestion, as I know of, in St. John's that a Pentecostal school would be established. It was not in our thinking or in our sights. We had no cause to want that. The systems that were in place were accommodating us quite adequately and giving us a good education, and all the Pentecostal children.

However, in 1967 or 1968 I remember, as though it were a bolt out of the blue, as a young Pentecostal parent with two children about to be enrolled in school - as I thought, in a school that I had gone through - got notification from the other people who had rights and who had schools operating in St. John's, that as of the following September, they could no longer accommodate my children in a school in this city due to the fact - not that they didn't want my child in the school, not that they didn't want Pentecostal children in the school - they had no room. Enrolments were increasing and budgets were just as tight then, to some degree, as they are now. So I received notification that I didn't have a school to send my children to in two years time. What was the response to be of Pentecostal parents? We only had one choice. It was to start scrabbling to put together some sort of a building to start a school in this city for the education of our children. We were caught off guard; we were caught totally with our pants down and with no resources only that which we could collect through school fees and grants from our own school board which operated provincially. We had to start getting a school together, and so we did.

So, at the age of twenty-one, twenty-two or twenty-three, whatever I was, they elected me as treasurer of the school board. And I know what it is to go out and raise mortgages to build schools, mortgage after mortgage as we put extension and extension on. I know what it is to sit for hours on end in a school committee room and decide on a level of school assessment, decide on who could pay and decide on who couldn't pay, decide on who would be collected from and those who couldn't be collected from. I know what it is to strike budgets and try to meet budgets to bring in place an educational system or a place for my children to go to school. We didn't have a building on the September 1, that we were given notice of which we couldn't be accommodated, so my child and those of others were sent to the basement of a church on Aldershot Street, the church that I attended. We started Kindergarten classes. We sent so many more children to the basement of a church on Ropewalk Lane and we started Kindergarten classes, not because we wanted to be in the school business, not because we wanted to have a small inferior school but because we had no rights. The only rights we had was to make provision for ourselves.

So that is my genesis in education. I have spent a lot of time in school committees. I have had the good fortunate of being elected twice publicly to serve on our school board. I have worked with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association or NLSD of the School Trustees Association, they did me the honour of electing me as their treasurer, their secretary, their vice-president and president-elect. Had I not come in here, I would have had that honour. I was looking forward to it, quite frankly, to serve in that capacity, not because we had a lot of boards from which we drew support. We were one of twenty-seven boards but it was an organization that I think gave recognition to the fact that we all had equitable reason to be able to be participating in education and that sort of thing.

So, that is the circumstance that I lay out to you about having a right in education. So where does that take me today? When I went on the school board - and there was only one school board for my class of people - when I went on that school board ten years ago, we had about forty-seven schools in the Province. The last school board meeting for which I was a member of the board, I happened to receive a report on where our system was going, as a school system. The latest information I have is that by the Year 2000 we will probably have twenty-one Pentecostal schools in Newfoundland. We will probably have eleven schools of that twenty-one that are not viable. So, for the class of people that I associate with, if nothing happens at all, we are going to be down to a very few schools because of declining enrolments and because of our inability to provide a lot of schools that have a high level of education.

Mr. Speaker, given the fact that there is probably today 50 per cent or 60 per cent of the children of my faith today attending a school, not by virtue of right but by virtue of accommodation, be it through a joint-service arrangement or something like that, the question I have to ask myself is, do I want to see that grow so that there is again a circumstance where 60 or 70 or 80 per cent of people of my faith do not have a right to go into a school and must be accommodated because somebody else says yes, we will make provision for you? No, Mr. Speaker, I will not put the people in St. John's in that position, who belong to the Pentecostal class.

The people in St. John's who belong to the Pentecostal faith deserve to have rights equal to the rights of everybody else who lives in this community to send their kid to whatever school is most appropriate for them, be it by faith or by area or by board jurisdiction. So I will not take responsibility for allowing the classes of people I associate with to be put in a situation where, again they will be attending a school only by virtue of somebody else's good graces; and the amendment, if it does nothing else, it gives me comfort that my grandchildren will not be beholden to anyone in terms of admission to a school, but will have an absolute right to go to the school that is closest and most appropriate for that person. That is one reason.

Lest the people of this House think that I have not represented a position that is reasonable, let me inform the House as to what the position was of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1954 -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If I may interrupt the member for a moment, I don't wish to distract from his train of thought in the middle of his presentation, but I would like to alert the hon. House to the questions that will be debated in what we have come to refer as the Late Show. Question No. 1, from the Member for St. John's East Extern: I am dissatisfied with the answer provided me by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation concerning my question on transportation cutbacks.

Question No. 2, from the Member for Green Bay: I am not satisfied with the answer to my question to the Minister of Mines and Energy concerning Voisey's Bay. I presume that is the Minister of Natural Resources to whom he is referring.

Question No. 3, from the Member for Ferryland: Mr. Speaker, I am dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Health concerning my question on restructuring of hospitals in St. John's.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

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

I want to say at this point in the debate that I have the greatest of respect for the leaders of the churches in this Province and for the position that they, I believe, have honestly taken in this whole education debate. I don't believe that the leaders of the churches in this Province are doing things because they want to hurt the quality of education for children. I don't believe they are taking a position that wants to hold back the advancement of education. I think they are taking a position out of the honesty that I believe they have analyzed it with, in their own minds. But I also want to tell the House what the position was, of the classes of people with whom I associate and communicate most, when they asked for recognition for education purposes, Mr. Speaker, in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Let me refer and quote to you, if I may, from the application that was put forward on April 1, 1954 by the then pastor, Rev. Dr. Eugene Vaters on behalf of the Pentecostal people in this Province.

He was a man of great insight, a man of great knowledge, a man of great perception and he wanted to ensure that the classes of people he represented had equal rights with everybody else in the Province of Newfoundland for education. He wasn't, in the first instance, interested in building or running schools for the sake of wanting to do that. And if you look at point 7, in the amendment in the application that he put forward, he says this, Mr. Speaker, and I can live with and relate to and support what he wanted at that particular time for the classes of people that I had fellowship with. He says this: We don't think we shall find it too difficult to work with others for the common or amalgamated school where it is deemed advisable, as we have never desired the little Pentecostal school for its own sake or to help bolster our religious point of view. We believe that we can handle the religious question otherwise.'

In point eight he expands on that and he says this: `We believe it should not be too difficult to agree to a common platform with regard to religious instruction in our common or amalgamated school, or even the denominational school. We could try. The general accepted and historic Protestant viewpoint should be capable of providing a proper platform among Protestants for the religious approaches in school. We shall be happy to co-operate to provide same within that platform.'

So lest there be any misconception that people in the faith universally, that I represent, or that I associated with, are interested, in the first instance, in being builders of school empires: That was never the concept, and it is not the concept today. Our interest, as best I understand it from the leaders of the church that I go to, is to, in the first instance, provide the best level of education quality-wise for the children that is available in this Province.

If that takes being a participant in an amalgamated system as it was talked about then, or if it takes being a co-operative player in some other type of system, then we are prepared, I believe, to do that, to ensure that we have equitable rights and that we have access to the highest level of education.

Enough about rights, maybe. I believe you have heard enough from me about that. The other aspects of the amended Term 17 are these. There are three that I want to just refer to briefly. The second one is the one that I outlined when I spoke in the House, really, when I said I would not support anything that would arbitrarily remove or otherwise render inoperable the rights of individuals who hold rights as classes in education.

There is a provision in the new Term 17 that where viability criteria is met, where numbers are warranted, and where parents are interested, uni-denominational or church schools can continue to exist and can continue to have, not only a role, but continue to have, in effect, the final say in the staffing and the administration of these schools. I believe that is a position we have no difficulty with on this side of the House. Certainly, as a member of one of the classes which will have probably less schools than others, I can live with and I can support that. There will be provision for uni-schools. There will be the ability to operate them on a basis that is acceptable to the classes which want them.

One of the other things that was referred to by the hon. the Minister of Education and Training today was the fact that, in effect, two-thirds of the trustees of any school board in this Province can be nominated by and elected in the name of the classes of the people who hold rights in education. That tells me that the school boards that will be put in place in the future, Mr. Speaker, assuming this amendment goes through, will be by a two-thirds majority effectively controlled at the board level for governance purposes by representatives of churches. As far as I'm concerned, that is certainly a recognition of an appropriate role for the classes of people in terms of governance at the education level.

So, we have the pronouncement, the categorical statement, that schools will be denominational in character; we have the pronouncement that churches will continue to be able to do all of these things that we want to do, either individually or collectively, in terms of RE and family life in schools; we have the provision for uni-denominational schools where parents so choose and where numbers warrant and where viability criteria is met; and fourthly, the churches have the ability to control the governance of schools by a two-thirds representation at the school board level.

These are things that I didn't recognize as being on the table to that extent two years ago when I spoke in this Chamber. Today, I view what is in a revised Term 17 as having been a reasonable accommodation to represent the concerns and the interests of people who have rights in education as represented by the classes; also, causing a situation where we can move forward jointly as partners with them from government in developing an educational system that will provide a better level of education for the children in this Province.

I have no difficulty in supporting what I have said I am doing as a result of this amendment, and I do it on five bases. First of all, I call them the five c's, the principles of the five c's in my own mind. I can support the resolution because I do it in good conscience. I support the resolution because I believe I do it with good common sense. I support the resolution in concert with the majority of the caucus that I sit in. I support the resolution with the support of the Cabinet that I sit in and, last but by no means least, I support the resolution in the context of the mandate and of the voice of the constituents of St. John's North who voted and spoke to this thing. On all five accounts I find consistency in my own mind, and I have no difficulty with supporting the resolution.

The rights that will be forever available to me without having to ask for permission to attend a school for my grandchildren will be provided for in this. The reality is this: that an expanded integrated system is upon us whether we like it or not. Now we may not want to call it integrated because we all may not like that term, or all of the classes may not, but the bottom line is that in Newfoundland today, having gone from 164,000 students fifteen years ago down to about 115,000 or 120,000 today, and going down by the year I believe it is 2005, if I remember the statistics that I read previously, we are going to be down to 90-odd thousand, there is no option but to involve ourselves in a co-operative level, and where I find myself having to co-operate, I want to be able to co-operate as an equal partner. I want to be able to co-operate as one having equal rights. I want to be able to co-operate as one having the ability to make a contribution based on my desire to make that contribution, and based on whatever the value of the contribution I have is to the educational system of the children, or my grandchildren, and the children of the Province generally.

I do not take lightly making weighted decisions that would be adverse for the long term for those that I love most and trust most, but I do believe that I have a responsibility to take a reasonable position, a position that may not give everybody everything that they would like to have in terms of a revision, but a revision that makes a reasonable accommodation for the legitimate concerns that I have as a parent or a grandparent, the legitimate concerns that the churches have as representing the classes of people that elect them to be their representatives, and also representing a reasonable accommodation for the legitimate concerns and responsibilities that government has as elected representatives from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to make these comments, contribute to the debate, and to clarify for anybody who might otherwise think that there are motives other than pure and real motives for my position. I am prepared to stand with my position. I am prepared to support the resolution, and I am prepared to say that it is, given the context of where we are in education, where we are in student enrolment, where we are in the shifting of population bases around our Province, I believe a reasonable one for us.

If I felt for one minute, or thought for one minute, that the Judeo-Christian principles that I believe in and adhere to, and the ability to practice religious rights and expressions of faith would be removed for my grandchildren or for my grandchildren's children, if I felt for one minute that would happen under the revision of Term 17 I would not be able to support it, but I believe this Term 17, as revised, gives the appropriate level of accommodation for that, and I believe it enshrines it in the Constitution of Canada just as strongly as it is there today.

The new amended Term 17, five minutes after it goes in the constitution, will be just as strong as, and just as viable and just as credible, as if it were there 127 years. I compare it almost to like being married, I was as much married five minutes after the minister said, `I pronounce you man and wife,' as I will be on my 50th Wedding Anniversary. The new amendment, when it goes in, is just as good the minute it goes in as if it were there for a lifetime. So the weight of the amendment, the weight of the value of the amendment in the Constitution is unquestioned in my mind. What it enshrines and what it permits will for all time continue to protect, as far as I am concerned, the Judeo-Christian values that I want to see in an educational system. Anything beyond that I believe is a plus for the classes and a plus for people who want uni-schools. They have been accommodated reasonably, as we have read and as I have articulated in this amendment. I take pleasure in having the opportunity to make the remarks and to show my support thusly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say very briefly, after listening to the hon. minister, that he must know something that we don't to be as sure and to have the convictions that that gentleman has because we don't have in front of us the necessary information to make a clear and decisive decision. The government is intentionally, Mr. Speaker, intentionally hiding from this Legislature, the Schools Act. The Minister of Education and the Premier have been asked questions over the past few days, by the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes and others, questions that they cannot answer or refuse to answer. Yet, people can stand up over there, such as the Minister of Health, with strong convictions as to what is going to happen. Tell me what is going to determine a viable school? Neither minister nor the Premier has been able to tell us that yet, Mr. Speaker. The minister also said, about in 1954 he read what Mr. Vaters or Pastor Vaters, whatever the case may be, had read in 1954. Mr. Speaker, I don't question but that was said in 1954. I sincerely believe what the gentleman said but I would think and I would submit that there have been major changes in the philosophy of what was articulated in that article during the period since 1954.

Mr. Speaker, was the minister part of the Pentecostal group that came to the Government of Newfoundland and asked them to amend the Constitution to include and give the rights to the Pentecostal denomination? Was the minister ever part of a group that discussed that with the Government of Newfoundland? Did he ever support that, Mr. Speaker? They are the questions that have to be answered here. That is where we have to stand up and make our decision and that's what is not happening by minister's opposite.

The Minister of Education stood up today and said everything he had said in the past, everything that was necessary to drive in wedges in this Province. Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Member for Eagle River to stand up in this Legislature and speak. I will ask him to speak the way he would have spoken before he was bought off with the parliamentary assistant job in this House, whether he would have stood with his constituents or whether he will stand now with the Premier like the Minister of Health just did.

I stand today to participate in this debate, Mr. Speaker, my fourth debate regarding constitutional change in this Province, all of which, in my judgement, were of significance. My first debate on constitutional issues was in 1987 when the government, of which I was a part, gave the rights to the Pentecostal church in this Province. The rights, Mr. Speaker, to amend the constitution and let the Pentecostal set up their own boards. That was the first time that I was involved in constitutional debate and not only, I say to all members in this House, not only was it the Peckford Government, the ones that sat to the left of the Speaker that approved the amendment to provide the Pentecostals of this Province with constitutional rights, Mr. Speaker, it was the Minister of Education today who sat and supported it. It was the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, it was the Minister of Environment, it was the Member for Windsor - Buchans, it was the Member for Bonavista North, it was the Member for Twillingate and others, who were part of the group that unanimously supported in this House legislation to amend the Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, why is there such a change of heart all of a sudden? Why are they flip-flopping on the issue? That is what upsets me greatly, how they could come to this Legislature back a few years ago and vote unanimously on an issue that today the Minister of Education, the man who is acting on behalf of the government and the Premier to put this through the Province, came to this Legislature and voted, stood and was counted, to provide it to the Pentecostals of the Province. Now, a few short years later he is withdrawing his support.

AN HON. MEMBER: Watch your blood pressure.

MR. TOBIN: You worry about your blood pressure and not mine.

The Premier was not in the House when that piece of legislation was approved. I know what the Premier said since he came in the House. I know what he said in March 1993. I know what he said then. Although the Premier was not here to support that amendment I will tell you what he said in March 1993: `In response to the church leaders concerns that implementing certain recommendations of the Royal Commissions Report would jeopardize their traditional rights government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally protected rights of the classes of peoples specifically provided for.'

That is what the Premier said. The second debate in the Constitution that I was involved in was when we approved, in this Legislature, the Meech Lake Accord. That was not only approved by the Peckford government. The Minister of Education and Training and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and the Members for Twillingate, Bonavista North, and others supported that as well. A few years later the Premier came on the scene and we all know what happened, and I will not say anything else about that today, but I will point out clearly that the Minister of Education and Training for the second time changed his mind on something as important as the Constitution of this country.

For the second time in a few years the whole group over there changed their mind on constitutional issues, and I have to say in all sincerity that I question their ability to deal with any issue right now when they continue to flip-flop on issues as important as that. I say in all sincerity to members opposite, and to the ministers in particular, particularly those flip-flop ministers that there comes a time when the perks and the power of office should not precede principle, and I say that with what sincerity I can muster.

When this debate started I listened to what was being said. When this referendum was called I did not try to persuade my constituents one way or another. All I told them, Mr. Speaker, was that I would vote in the House the same way they voted. I was not involved in any way in the `no' campaign or the `yes' campaign, both of which were extremely active I say to members. Pamphlets were circulated to our homes by government one week and the next week we got pamphlets from the `no' side. Turn on the television and you would see Pastor Badstone or Mr. Fallon, or Premier Wells or Mr. Decker. There was always someone on. Then the Premier said there was no campaign. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask, who paid for the ads?

The CBC refused to carry an ad for the `no' side because their Toronto lawyers advised them against it. I wonder did the CBC refer the ads that were put on television regarding the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro that were neither truthful nor factual, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the CBC checked out with their Toronto lawyers those ads to see if they should be carried? The government was as present in this debate as the `no' side and I do not understand for the life of me why they have difficulty admitting it.

Let me say that I was raised a Roman Catholic. I am a product of the catholic schools and the Presentation sisters of whom I am very proud. I am not sure they feel the same way about me.

In the school in Trepassey, when I was growing up, in the last few years of my high school, there were people who moved there from all parts of the Province. They were people of other denominations. Some of these became my classmates and my friends. These people were as much a part of our school as anyone else. Their parents where as involved in our school and school activities as anyone else. It gave us an opportunity to respect the wishes and the beliefs of each other.

Mr. Speaker, I have many friends who are in the teaching profession, with all boards. Let me say that my wife is a teacher, and I do not feel that she would be less a teacher or a better teacher if she taught with the integrated board; nor do I believe that my friends with the integrated boards would be less a teacher or a better teacher if they taught with the RC school system.

I have three sisters who have education degrees. One is presently teaching in a private school system in Ontario. She taught for several years with the integrated system. I believe, as a matter of fact, one of my sisters taught your son out in Lewisporte, an area which she was very close to, an area which she liked well, and students which she always spoke very highly about, including your own son.

Mr. Speaker, I am a firm believer and indeed a strong believer of education reform. I believe that the government should have implemented the recommendations of the Williams Report that did not need constitutional amendment. Why is this not done if government is sincere in what they are doing? If the minister is sincere in what he says, if there is an ounce of sincerity in that minister, why has he not brought forth the recommendations and acted on the recommendations of the Williams Report? Why have the minister and the Premier not done something to indicate to the people that they are indeed sincere?

Over the course of this debate there have been several references made to school bussing by the government, trying to imply that constitutional change is needed to deal with that problem. The Minister of Education did not need constitutional amendment or changes to delay awarding of bussing contracts on the Avalon Peninsula a few months ago. The Minister of Education did not need constitutional changes when he threatened to bring in old, condemned buses from Ontario to transport our children in. As a matter of fact, school buses operating on the Burin Peninsula for the past number of years are owned by the school boards. There is a company called the Buri-Pen School Bus that is owned and operated by both school boards on the Burin Peninsula. These changes were not new. They are something that were made years ago.

I see the new Member for Gander sitting in his place. The government from time to time have held up the Gander school as an example as to how the education system can work. This was all done in Gander without constitutional amendment. It is my understanding that the RC and Integrated school boards in my own district on the Burin Peninsula are presently looking for space so that both boards can operate under the one roof. That, to me, goes a long way in indicating progress.

As I said earlier today, I was not personally involved in the campaign. As a matter of fact, I did not share how I voted with anyone. I did say then, and I say now, that I would vote the way the majority of my constituents voted. I also want to say that it is apparent, and I say this sincerely to the Minister of Education, that as a parent with two children in school in Grades IX and VII, I want them to receive the best education possible. I want them to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with their fellow students across this country, knowing they had equal opportunity to an education regardless of their religion, their colour, or their creed.

Mr. Speaker, my children were involved in sports in school and I have seen them making friends throughout this Island, being billeted in homes from Corner Brook, Grand Falls, Gander, Wesleyville, Bonavista, Clarenville, Bay Roberts, CBS, to Shea Heights, Mr. Speaker, where they had a great time this summer.

This past weekend, I had three young girls staying in my home from the Bay of Islands, the Premier's district. Mr. Speaker, I can honestly say that they, like all the billets we have ever had in our homes, were some of the finest children you could ever find and nobody, Mr. Speaker, would be prouder of these children who have stayed at our house than their parents and the schools they represent. I also can say that our family didn't know their religion nor did they know ours, and I am sure, neither side really cares, Mr. Speaker. But there comes a time when we must take a stand.

There comes a time when we must be sincere in what we believe; we must take the future of the education system in this Province very seriously. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education and Training, for whatever reason, as I said earlier, has decided to deny us the School Act. We have all asked questions on that in the past and we will continue to ask questions on it, Mr. Speaker, in the future, but, as legislators in this House, how can we, representing the people of this Province, vote on something when you don't know what you are voting for? That's what is happening, I say to my colleagues, in this House. I say to every member on that side and on this side of the House, that we will stand, probably tomorrow, and vote on this very important resolution; we will vote on this not knowing the facts of what the School Act is, and the Minister of Education knows what it is, make no mistake about that, but he is hiding the School Act from this House. He is asking us to vote blindly in this Legislature.

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It being Thursday, and the clock showing 4:30 p.m. -

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn the debate.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, on October 24, I stood here in my place and asked the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation a question with respect to the cutbacks and layoffs in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. These mechanics -

MR. EFFORD: Are you reading that?

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Minster of Works, Services and Transportation, he should be more concerned about himself. I know he is trying to distract me, but I say to the minister that he should be careful now or I will tell the people of the Province about his next wing-nut policy which is almost as bad as the dropping of motor vehicle inspection.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) drop (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say you should be - anyway, Mr. Speaker –

MR. HEWLETT: Turn on the microphone and let him say it again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: Turn on his microphone and let him say it again.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your hair is all sticking up.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the cutback with respect to that department - they are talking about laying off, I think, more than fifty mechanics and a number of labourers amounting to more than 200 people. There is talk about laying off wingmen on the ploughs. There have been changes in that department over the past number of years with respect to the reorganization of regional depots and regional offices. People have taken on lesser responsibilities, and sometimes they have taken on too much responsibility.

With respect to the layoffs, I would like to ask the minister, when is it all going to end in his department? I am concerned about the safety on our highways. As I said, vehicle inspections have been dropped and anybody at all would notice that there is now, more junk on the road than there has been in the past. This minister is now talking about replacing people with modification kits on the snowploughs and trucks, new technology which consists of a heated mirror, power window and a flag on the end of the plough.

What happens when vehicles, in the middle of a snow storm, get stuck and this equipment is being operated by one individual, it is being driven by one, and it has to be operated by the same individual? What happens when people are walking along the side of the road? I sincerely hope that it never happens that we would have an accident due to the actions of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

I am sure that the operators of this equipment will do the best they can, but I believe they are being forced into situations where they really don't want to be. There are employees at the Department of Works, Services and Transportation who have been told that they either do the job or they will find someone else to do it. I think that is putting too much pressure on these individuals.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What's wrong with it? If the minister doesn't know what's wrong with it I think he should resign. This, Mr. Speaker, just displays the typical arrogance of this government, and of this minister, in particular.

When I asked the question the other day, the minister sat in his place, as he is doing today, showing the same flippant attitude. I remember last week when the new Member for Grand Falls stood in his place and asked the question with respect to signage on the highways in this Province, the signage with respect to a construction site out in the Grand Falls area. The minister was very flippant in his answer. Now, this past Friday, we have the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island going out to a Liberal convention and he has a very serious accident, directly related, from what I'm told, to the poor signage on the highways. The minister is falling down on his job; he is not doing his job.

We have other members on that side of the House and in the general public who are going up a lane of traffic facing the oncoming traffic because of poor signage on this highway. I say the minister should get his act together and start getting onto the people in his department to start enforcing the regulations that should be in place. If they aren't in place he should get his act together on that scene, too. The minister, I believe, refuses to listen and to heed, and I think it is going to be too late in the near future.

With respect -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)!

MR. J. BYRNE: I can yell just as loudly as the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation let me tell you. You will have your chance to stand in your place and give the proper answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: He isn't allowed, boy.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not allowed, well, in certain situations he is allowed, he is permitted.

Another issue with respect to the employees of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation is the morale with respect to the employees within that department. I suppose it spreads through every department in government now, Mr. Speaker, but in particular in that department. I have been speaking to employees who don't know from one day to the next if they are going to have a job. I think it is about time for this minister to inform the employees that their jobs are safe. I think it is about time for this minister to take his job seriously, and the 200 people who have been notified that they won't be hired back this year, that they hire them back - hire the wingmen, hire the mechanics, to ensure proper safety on the highways of this Province, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess the hon. members opposite just have no understanding on making the right decisions. I can understand that. Seventeen years in government, a debt of $7 billion, and the last thing they accomplished was the pickle factory. Now, that is the type of understanding and decision-making that I have to listen to day after day in Question Period from members opposite.

We are trying to bring this department to some logical rationale and trying to administer a department and a government that - something that makes just basic common sense. Now, they are talking about cutbacks. We had 678 pieces of equipment in the department last year; we will have 678 pieces of equipment in the department this year - that is not cutbacks. The only difference is that instead of having two people operating a piece of equipment, we will have one person operating a piece of equipment. In every other province in Canada it only takes one person to operate one piece of equipment. I don't know why in Newfoundland it should take two people to operate a piece of equipment.

What we are going to do now, Mr. Speaker, is have a snowplough on the road with one operator. That is all it takes to operate a piece of equipment. It is trying to show that Newfoundlanders can do what the rest of Canada can do, do one job at one time. One piece of equipment, one operator.

Mr. Speaker, last year we spent almost $11 million in salt and sand. This year we have our budget spent for salt and sand and if we run out in the middle of the winter or some time late next year, we will buy more. Last year we spent $10 million in labour, last winter in winter operation, $10 million. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is not practical to think that under today's economic conditions that we need to spend any more money than is necessary. We need money to keep hospital beds open, we need money to provide education services and we need to spend the money wisely. What we are going to do is not spend the money like drunken Tories. We are going to spend the money with good common sense so that we can provide service for the people of this Province.

Let me say, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, apart from the $25 million in the pickle factory, we are providing a service for the money for the people of this Province. We are going to provide a good, efficient, safe service not only for the staff of the department, for the general public but for everybody who takes it upon themselves to drive in winter conditions. Now I am sure that the first time there is an accident that a car goes off the road, that the hon. member opposite will be pointing at this minister and saying it is my fault. Well I took responsibility for a lot of other things and whatever you throw my way I have no problem with shouldering the responsibility.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: I was expecting better than that.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to have a few words to discuss my exchange with the Minister of Natural Resources in Question Period yesterday with regard to Voisey's Bay.

Mr. Speaker, our party is concerned that any mineral development, certainly one as large and as rich as Voisey's Bay, be developed taking into account two principles that are important to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that is that we need jobs in industrial development relating to the mine and we also of course need revenues.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when this project first hit the news, some time ago, because it was in Labrador there was some widespread commentary among the public and certainly on the Open Line Shows that this could possibly be another Churchill Falls. Churchill Falls, as we all know, was a wonderful engineering project, a great jobs project but unfortunately some of the legacy with regard to the revenues has been less than desirable. It was the brainchild of a former Liberal administration and basically, Mr. Speaker, when you mix the concept of the Liberals and Labrador automatically came into the minds of the body politic, sell out and all the connotations that bring us back to the old Churchill Falls project. So there was some widespread concern expressed on the Open Lines and generally a sentiment that we could possibly, as a people and the people's government on their behalf, could easily do this one wrong, as the other major project that they handled up in Labrador was done.

Mr. Speaker, there is I think out there among the body politic a generally held sentiment that with regard to Voisey's Bay, given the nature of it and the richness of it, that if we can't get maximum benefit from it then it is just as well that we leave it in the ground. In terms of maximum benefit, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province expect not only crushing and milling of the ores but they also want to see smelting of Voisey's Bay ores in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I question the minister on this because I remember a week or so ago in an interview on a television show I was quoted, the minister was quoted, a representative of the mining company was quoted, everybody seemed to be singing the right song with regard to the need for a smelter but at the same time a representative of The Northern Miner also interviewed in that particular article, seemed to turn thumbs down on the concept of a smelter.

Now you have big companies like ENCO involved in this particular project who, no doubt, would have a considerable influence on the editorial policy of The Northern Miner, which is the organ, so to speak, of the Canadian mining industry, so it causes some concern that it is coming all too readily. One has to wonder why the company would be talking smelter whereas the organ of the Canadian mining industry would be very negative on it, when obviously the companies involved would have an influence on the view and certainly the editorial policy of that particular paper. So one has to be careful that we are not lulled into a sense of complacency with regard to this particular project, and it is incumbent upon us, in Opposition, to ask the government straight up and straightforward: Is it the policy of the government that these ores, once taken out of the ground, not only be semi-processed but indeed smelted.

The minister, in his reply, indicated that it was big enough to justify us doing the processing and so on, and that we have told the companies, but I ask the minister straight out: Is it your policy, smelt it or leave it in the ground? What I was hoping to get from the minister and from this government in general, is just a straight, clean, clear answer, yes or no. The minister can be very, very brief if he wishes, because all he needs to say is that the policy of this government with regard to Voisey's Bay is that we mine it, crush it, mill it, and smelt it, or leave it in the ground.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member need not worry. The hon. member need not lose any sleep. We are going to make sure we get the maximum from Voisey's Bay and any other deposit that is discovered up there, and if he would like to learn a little bit about it this is an appropriate time for me to suggest to him and his colleagues to go down to Hotel Newfoundland today and the next two days and they will be able to see lots of mining people who are down there talking about Voisey's Bay and other exploration ventures all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, but not worry about it. We are going to take care of the situation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With reference to my questions to the minister yesterday, October 25, pertaining to operating rooms and critical care beds and so on in hospitals here in the City of St. John's, I do have a major concern, I say to the minister. At present, with twenty-four operating rooms in the city right now, and Sister Elizabeth Davis acknowledging that there may be a shortage right now, and I know for a fact that operations were cancelled because of lack of operating room space - I know that from experience because I have the names of people whose operations were cancelled, and the minister stating in the House last Wednesday that under this new reorganization structure, the Janeway Hospital, when it moves to the site of the Health Sciences Complex, will have to share operating rooms with the current rooms in the system. That is what the minister stated last Wednesday and it is in Hansard. When the Grace Hospital closes also there will then be only fourteen operating rooms left in the city, fourteen left from twenty-four now. How can you possibly provide a service in fourteen crowded rooms when twenty-four cannot handle it now?

I say to the minister that is not practical and all we are asking is assurances that there will still be a provision of twenty-four operating rooms because the demand is there for it, and that kids will not have to wait in line with adults for those operating spaces, and that they will have their own defined operating spaces as they have now under the Janeway. We were led to believe that it was going to be a freestanding, separate structure dedicated to paediatric medicine and there might only be a sharing of certain services, whether blood work, or MRIs that are shared now, and so on, and not vital and critical operating room space.

That is one of the things I addressed to the minister and I am not satisfied with the response. The second thing I asked the minister yesterday: I indicated that the Grace Hospital now has one quarter of the critical care beds, intensive care beds, and coronary care beds in this city. At present I know that operations for bypass surgery and other surgeries have been cancelled because there were no beds to put them in when they were operated on. I have names of individuals who had their surgery cancelled after waiting for weeks and weeks expecting surgery each day, and the trauma on that family who were told they needed their surgery in two weeks and this was seven or eight weeks later. I have seven or eight names in the last week of people who contacted me on cardiac bypass surgery that have not been able to get it because it has been cancelled for these reasons.

I ask the minister if he will ensure - where the need is there right now - that we will not have less critical care beds under this restructuring that we have now, and the minister did not give that assurance, he did not, and the demand is increasing with an aging population; with increasing numbers of heart and circulatory-related diseases in an aging population, the need has been going up on an ongoing basis. And in spite of what the minister states, and he can quote Fraser Forum because I have followed that closely for the last few years, we were one of the worst waiting list in this country, the latest issue of the Fraser Forum showed us as number one.

If you look at the statistics, forty-five results went back, from forty-five specialists in every area in this Province - that's all the response it was based on. Every province had a drastic reduction in waiting lists. Mr. George Tilley refuted or questioned those statistics and I questioned them based on current methods detecting these, (inaudible) not accurate; the Fraser Forum, he didn't tell us we had the longest list - we are tenth in the country in diagnostic testing. For ultrasound, another device, we are worst in the country in waiting in those areas and the Fraser Forum tells us that.

The last question I asked the minister and it was not answered properly and he talked about something else: I said the Rehab Centre right now spends $300,000 a year to cover their engine room operation, their light and heat, their maintenance - $300,000. To move them into the Janeway this year, and then move them to the Health Sciences in two years time -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: Could I have just a few seconds to finish, with leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no, no, no. I am sick and tired of listening to him, sit him down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do I understand I have no leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member doesn't have leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you.

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

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

The hon. member raised a number of points in his question and I will attempt to answer them in the best order that I can.

I am interested in the member not accepting the information statistically that is given in the Fraser Forum. He refers to the Fraser Forum almost as though we wrote it, we did the tabulation and did the surveys across Canada.

The information contained in the July issue of the Fraser Forum was tabulated on the same basis in Newfoundland as it was done in every other province, and it showed us on average as having the second best waiting time, in terms of waiting for surgeries, in the country, and we accept that as being just as valid in terms of what they found out in Newfoundland as whatever their pronunciation was in B.C. or Ontario. So I don't think there is any advantage or benefit for any of us to talk about what is in the information of the forum, other than to acknowledge it and to be thankful that we are in as good a position as we are vis-à-vis the rest of the country.

In terms of addressing the number of O.R. studios that we will have in a revised health care system, or a restructured system, as I said yesterday, I say again, counting numbers of beds, or counting numbers of O.R. studios, or counting numbers of labs, is no indication of the quality of health care. The hon. member knows as well as I do that if you had one O.R. running sixteen hours a day, it is just as good as having two O.R.s running eight hours a day, or if you had one O.R. running twenty-four hours a day, it is the same as having three O.R.s running eight hours a day, so the number of O.R. studios is really irrelevant. What is important is an assurance that we have already given, as government, that a new and restructured health care system in St. John's will have the appropriate number of O.R. studios and will have the appropriate number of beds, will have the appropriate number of critical care beds, as the member queried a minute ago, that is required to maintain and sustain a proper health care system in the city.

As far as moving the children from the Rehab Centre to the Janeway is concerned, the analysis is this: We can save money by moving them over now and, in the process, provide a better level of care to the children we are moving from the Rehab to the Janeway. Eventually, that whole site will be relocated, of course, to the Health Sciences Complex, as we have said.

I have to, I believe, correct the hon. member, though, in one of these things that he indicated I said in the House, and that is that children and adults will share the same O.R. I offer that as being an illustration of possibilities in a new, restructured system. We may share things `such as', I said. I did not say categorically that there would be, and when we get the final design of the new Janeway at the Health Sciences Complex detailed, we might very well find that there will be dedicated O.R. space in that to do what the dedicated O.R. space is now at the Janeway.

Also, the hon. member should recognize, and the House should know as well, that even today as we speak, we have children going from the Janeway to the Health Sciences Complex for certain surgical procedures, so we are sharing O.R. space today, we are sharing doctors today, we are sharing in a number of ways today facilities and equipment and infrastructure at the Health Sciences Complex for the use of children at the Janeway.

MR. SULLIVAN: Do you have children going there now?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Yes, we have children now going from the Janeway to -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: We have -

MR. SULLIVAN: Too many now?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: No, I'm not saying there are too many now, but neither am I saying that we are operating them as efficiently as we can. The hon. member knows full well that we will not have in a new system less capacity for O.R.s, less capacity in emergency, less capacity in critical care, less capacity in obstetrics and gynaecology, less capacity in paediatrics. We will not have less capacity in any of those and any of the other areas - lab and x-ray and MRI - than we have today and consistent with what the need will be. We will provide the highest level of accommodation and the highest level of service, and we will provide the maximum level of infrastructure, including O.R.s in a new and reorganized system -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: - as is necessary to maintain a proper system.


October 26, 1995             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS        Vol. XLII  No. 43A

[Continuation of Sitting]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion to adjourn be adopted?

The motion is defeated.

MR. SPEAKER: So, we are now resuming the debate on motion 4?

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, please, if you would be good enough.

MR. SPEAKER: I think the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West adjourned that debate.

MR. ROBERTS: I am afraid that is the case, Sir.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I do not have a lot of time left.


MR. TOBIN: I do not have a lot of time left, but I will tell you one thing, I will sit down now and not say anything if the Member for Port de Grave stands up and tells us where he stands on the denominational system.

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure everybody got to hear what I said before so I will say it all again. During the debate, before I concluded, I exposed the Minister of Education as being a disaster, of being a disgrace in terms of his stand on constitutional issues in this Province. He has flip-flopped all over the place and I questioned his ability to continue to make decisions as it relates to education reform.

When I was concluding, I was referring to having the opportunity to travel to various parts of the Province with my children who are involved in high school sports, and I have to say to the Member for St. John's South that this past summer we had the opportunity to be in his district on Shea Heights.

AN HON. MEMBER: You did not do very well up there, either, you only got (inaudible) delegates.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am not talking about delegates. We got more votes up there the last time than you got, though, if that means anything.

We had the opportunity to be up there and I can honestly say that the people were magnificent. They hosted the tournaments, and needless to say, Marystown won the gold medal. I do not know if I should say that or not, but I am going to say it anyway. All I say is that when I had the opportunity to be involved in going around this Province with children who were participating in sports, religion was not an issue, school boards was not an issue, and I do not think anyone wanted it an issue, Mr. Speaker. Nobody who stays at my home or where my children go, cares what anyone's religion is. What we all care about is that the children have fun and make friends.

Mr. Speaker, denominational education was never an issue in our family. As I stated, I have sisters teaching in the public school system, private school system and integrated system. I have nieces and nephews being educated in the public school system in Nova Scotia and, Mr. Speaker, my children attend the only high school in Marystown, namely, the Marystown Central High School. And I can honestly say that I really do not believe that my children or anyone else knew there was a difference. They were in Grade 9 and 7. I am not sure they really knew there was a difference with a denominational system in this Province. I think they knew there were schools in Burin and that people from Marystown went there. The only thing they knew, I would think, is when they had a holiday and our crowd didn't. They were probably concerned about that but I am not sure they knew or were concerned about anything else. As a matter of fact, I know they are not, and I think that is probably the way I want it to be.

As I said earlier, I do not think anyone who teaches in the integrated system would be less a teacher in the RC system or anyone in the RC system would be less a teacher in the integrated system. For example, my two colleagues who sit on my left, the Member for Ferryland taught school in the RC system and my colleague, the Member for Grand Bank taught school in the integrated system. I do not think they would be any different, regardless of what system they taught in. I know they were both good teachers, Mr. Speaker, in the schools where they taught. They were thought very highly about. Mr. Speaker, I don't think that really matters. I don't think it mattered. I really believe that evolution will take care of most of it. I believe it was well under way.

As I said earlier, the school boards on the Burin Peninsula share the same busing service. They are now in the process of putting the school boards, the integrated school board and the RC school board in the same building, under the same roof. Mr. Speaker, how long more would it take for evolution to create the objective that the government is now seeking? The only difference is that this government chose, for whatever reason, to take on the churches. This government chose to go out and create and argued with the churches to create a very divisive and inflammatory situation in this Province, to open up and create something that was not really there. Why they did it, why they chose to do it, I really don't know. I do know that 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the recommendations in the Williams Royal Commission Report could have been acted upon if the government had chosen to do it. I know as well, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Education and the government are sitting on a schools act that entails the changes that will take place in this Province as a result of this resolution but refused to share it with us in the House of Assembly and expects all of us to vote loudly on something that we don't really have. The Premier refused to answer questions from the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. The Minister of Education got up and sat down in his seat again and refused to answer questions. Neither of them, Mr. Speaker, has told us what determines a viable school, what the viability of schools in this Province really means. How then can I vote on something when I don't know what is going to happen?

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Minister of Health up today. I believe, if I recall correctly, the first time that I met the Minister of Health was when he came to the Burin Peninsula campaigning for the Pentecostal School Board. I remember meeting the Minister of Health at functions and I remember the excitement that he and others shared when the Pentecostals got the right to their own educational denomination. I remember, Mr. Speaker, quite well when the Minister of Education stood in the House, when the Minister of Environment stood in the House, when the Member for Windsor - Buchans, the Member for Twillingate and the Member for Bonavista North stood in the House with us back in 1987 and gave the Pentecostals the right to their own educational system. The minister now has a change of heart. He hasn't told us, Mr. Speaker, why he believed they should have it then and now decides they should not have it. He hasn't shared that with anyone in this Legislature.

I don't know why the Minister of Education flip-flopped. I don't know why he changed his mind. I don't know why he treats the Constitution of this country in such a frivolous manner. I don't know, Mr. Speaker. He has done it on other constitutional issues, voted for something one year and then voted against it the next year. I don't know. I find it difficult to believe that the Constitution of this country would be treated in the way that the minister has chosen to treat it.

What I do know is that I am asked to vote for something in this Legislature that the government is keeping from me. I don't trust this government, Mr. Speaker, I don't trust this government. The people of the Province shouldn't trust this government either. Why should we - I say to the Member for Trinity North that I welcome his participation in the debate - but why should we be expected to leave the Schools Act in the drawer of the Minister of Education that includes everything that we are voting on in this resolution, as to the implementation of it. It will tell us, Mr. Speaker, what percentages are going to be needed. It will tell us what determines the viable schools. It will tell us everything we want to know, and we will have to vote on it someday, I would think.

The Minister of Education, if he would only tell me why he is keeping it from me, why the House cannot see what we are expected to vote on. Why is it such a secret? Why is it under cover? Why does he choose, Mr. Speaker, to say, Vote, trust me. The Premier says, `Trust me.' Mr. Speaker, like a lot of other people in this Province and Country I don't trust the Minister of Education, unless he is prepared to lay on the Table what I am expected to vote on.

I heard, Mr. Speaker, a lot of speeches on this issue so far. I want to commend all members who have participated in this debate. I would think it was very difficult today for the Minister of Health to stand up and express his views which were contrary to what they were when he was trying to get the Peckford Administration to give the Pentecostals the right to their denominational system, but I respect the man for his standing up today and articulating the way he is voting.

I challenge the Member for Exploits to take his seat and tell us how he is going to participate in this debate. I look forward to all members, Mr. Speaker, participating in this debate because I can tell you that this is a very important issue. I know, Mr. Speaker, how I am going to vote because I made that commitment to my constituents and that was the only thing that I said during the campaign. I didn't campaign -

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Are you with your leader?

MR. TOBIN: What's that?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Are you voting with your leader?

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Health, in all sincerity, that my leader cannot offer me enough - whether it be a Cabinet post or any other post - cannot offer me enough to sell out my principles. I would never sell my principles for any perks of power, Mr. Speaker, or of office, I say to the Minister of Health. I am not for sale. No, I say to the Minister of Health, I will vote with my constituents.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I will vote the way they asked me to vote in this Legislature -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: - whether that be the way -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: With that being the case, Mr. Speaker, with that being the case, I don't know -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I encourage –

AN HON. MEMBER: You are finished. You are finished.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: One minute.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) finish up.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I want to finish up. If he leaves me alone, I will finish up, if he keeps interrupting me, I will respond.

Mr. Speaker, I never got involved in this campaign. I didn't share how I voted with anyone in my district, because I didn't think it was right for me to try to influence people. I thought it was fair that my constituents made up their own minds. Mr. Speaker, I will vote - the only commitment I made was that I would vote how they wanted me to vote. Now, whether that is the way I voted or not remains with me and nobody else.

MR. GRIMES: Should all the members do that?

MR. TOBIN: I don't know.


MR. TOBIN: I would doubt that you are going to vote the way your constituents voted.

MR. GRIMES: But do you think I should?

MR. TOBIN: That is up to you. I say to the Member for Exploits that my constituents sent me here four times. I accepted the majority then and I will accept it now. Whether that is how I voted or not is something that no one knows except me.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from Grand Falls (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Pardon?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: That is up to everybody.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I say to the Minister of Justice, I don't know how the Member for Exploits is going to vote. I know how his constituents voted; I don't know how he is going to vote. I don't know how the Member for Stephenville is going to vote, I know how his constituents voted. I don't know how the Member for Harbour Main is going to vote, I know how his constituents voted. And I don't really care, Mr. Speaker - that is a conscience decision that everyone has to deal with. Nobody except my constituents will influence my decision.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Repeat that.

MR. TOBIN: I said, no one except my constituents will influence my decision.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: But you think everyone should vote with his constituents?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), not intent.

MR. SULLIVAN: He didn't say that.

MR. TOBIN: No, I didn't say that. I know how you would vote if you weren't in Cabinet.


MR. TOBIN: I know how you would vote if you weren't in Cabinet.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: You know next to nothing, `Glenn'.

MR. TOBIN: I know how you would vote if you weren't in Cabinet, no doubt about that. I know how `Gerald Smith' is going to vote.

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

I remind the hon. member that when referring to members of this House, you refer to them by the constituency they represent.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for that. The Member for Port au Port is one of the most reputable members in this House. Not too many people, except myself, him, and a few others would turn down a Cabinet position on principle. In any case, I will do as my constituents sent me here to do, and thank you for the opportunity to participate in the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir.

MR. GILBERT: I agree with my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West on some of the things he has said, and of them is that this is possibly the most important piece of legislation that has been before this Legislature since I have been here. I think this resolution is one that has raised - whatever we are going to say about whatever happens in this House, the one thing it will do for sure is it will change the history of education and change the way that education is going to be delivered in this Province from this time on.

I put out a press release when the referendum was called and I said that I would not be involved in trying to influence the people in my district either way, as to what position they should take in this. I had some concerns at the time about the way the negotiations had gone on, both with the government and with the churches. I felt that sometimes the people, who are going to be most affected by this change and this reform in education, the children, were forgotten. I think it was a power struggle by the various parties for control and the children were sometimes forgotten, or most of the time, I would say.

This became a very emotional thing because any time you talk about religion it becomes a very emotional situation and one where people rise and beat their breasts about their beliefs. I agree they are entitled to their beliefs. That is the one thing I think we have all established here, that they are entitled to their beliefs, but strong emotions sometimes cause strong words to be said, and I think that is sometimes where we lose sight of the issue, when we get the emotional situation tangled up with the issue.

When the Minister of Education stood up today he talked a little bit about the history of education in Newfoundland and I was reminded a bit about the history of education in the community I grew up in, on an island, a place called Haystack on Long Island in Placentia Bay.

My father used to tell me this story about the education system in Haystack. It was religion-based and until about 1900 the only school we had in Haystack was a Church of England school. The only school we had in Spencers Cove, three miles across the island, was a Church of England school, and the only school on the southern end of the island was a Church of England school in Buffet, and that is where the Church of England minister lived. My father used to tell me the story about how the Methodist came to Haystack. The Methodist came to Haystack because his father felt that the Church of England minister in Buffet was not providing the right type of education in Haystack, so he became a Methodist. A Reverend Stowe came to Haystack in 1900 and he formed the first Methodist school.

MR. ROBERTS: Did he find the needle?

MR. GILBERT: I think he did - many needles. But as a result of that we formed the Methodist Church - ended up with half the people on the northern end of the island. Half the people in Haystack became Methodist and half the people in Spencers Cove became Methodist, and we had a school, but as that evolved we had a form of sharing in that school system because they found that it was hard to get a Methodist teacher and a Church of England teacher, and when they divided up there wasn't enough children for both schools. So they made a very sensible arrangement. One year in Haystack we would have a Church of England teacher, and that year in Spencers Cove you would have a Methodist teacher, so the next year they would switch. What it meant to me, and I started school in '44, was one year I went to a Church of England school and I learned the catechism - that was the main thing in the morning - and the next year I went to a United Church school and, of course, we didn't have a catechism in the United Church school, but we learned a Bible verse, so that was my religious training in the schools that I went to first.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Yes. But we shared the type of education we had, so the history of education - I agree with the minister - has been certainly related to religion from its inception. When I hear people now talking about what this reform is going to do by taking religion out of the school - I went through the school system in Newfoundland, and I pretty well told you what religion I was taught in school, just a minute ago, when I talked about a few minutes in the morning for the catechism when I was going to the Church of England school and a few minutes learning a Bible verse when I went to the United Church school, and that was the extent of it.

Now, where emotionalism came in, with those who say we are going to take religion out of the school, I think this is the problem that we are discussing right here, where people get carried away with this.

The intent of this resolution, as far as I am concerned, is to provide a better education at less cost, now that is the only thing, and cut out some of the duplication. Now, I know my friends - and I have some concerns about some of the questions they have raised. The viability of schools and things like that are things that all of us have concerns about, but we realize that will have to be corrected, and will be corrected as the thing unfolds. But right now the important thing is this resolution and getting it moved so that we can get on to the next thing.

It is no good for anyone to be standing here in this House and saying that you only had the 52 per cent turnout or whatever we had - was it 52, Mr. Minister?


MR. GILBERT: - fifty-two per cent turnout - you know, it really does not reflect the wishes of the people of Newfoundland; I am convinced that the people who were concerned got out and voted.

MR. ROBERTS: Everybody had an opportunity.

MR. GILBERT: Everybody had an opportunity, and the people who were concerned got out and voted and made a decision, and the decision was reflected in the vote, so there is no good in anyone saying... You go around this Island, and I defy anyone in this House to go around this Province of ours, and you will find that when you talk to people, 80 per cent of the people in this Province are in favour of some type of reform in the education system.

AN HON. MEMBER: I would say 90 per cent.

MR. GILBERT: Well, I will say 80 per cent because I am a small `l' Liberal, so I want to be on the right side of it.

I think that they wanted reform, and when people clouded the issue by putting in emotionalism, that we are going to take Christ out of the schools, that is where the problem came in. I don't think that is what we are talking about here. We are talking about giving up power and control; that is what is causing this resolution and the raising of discussion that this has done. It is the talk of religion instead of what the real situation is.

Before the referendum I put out a press release and I basically said I was not going to get involved in it but I would be dictated by the wishes of my constituents. The district of Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir only had a 30 per cent turnout of voters, but out of that turnout, 69 per cent of them voted in favour of the resolution. So if I were going to follow my word, I have little choice but to support this. I really, actually believe that this legislation is long overdue and it should have been in place a long time ago.

MR. DECKER: If that had been an election and 30 per cent turned out and 69 per cent voted for you -

MR. GILBERT: I would have been quite happy in an election if only 30 per cent of the district turned out and 69 per cent voted for me. I would have accepted that. So I accept those results right now at this time.

Mr. Speaker, I don't want to take up a lot of time at this. I felt that it was important enough that I should say a few words about it. I am concerned when I hear about the quality of education in Newfoundland. I think we owe a little bit to our forefathers, in that we have to say the education system that evolved in Newfoundland turned out some reasonably good people and gave them a pretty good education in some of those one-room schools. To give you, I suppose, an example, I can give you a couple of examples, the school in Haystack that we are talking about, my eldest sister ended up with an MA degree from Sir George Williams and was teaching English in Lord Bing High School in Montreal. Another fellow from Haystack, Clayton Halfyard, is a professor of mathematics over at the University, and he started school in a one- room school in Haystack. So there was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Art Scammell, he taught at the same school with my sister in Montreal and he came through Change Islands. So again there were some pretty good people that came through -

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible) says he went through one of those but I don't know if he would qualify.

MR. GILBERT: No, I think - let's not carry it to a (inaudible).

Anyhow, I say, there were people who went through this one-room school system, came out and did very well for themselves, but it is time for a change. It took a very courageous government to bring in and ask for this resolution and this referendum in a situation that was there, because they were flying in the face of fate. They knew it was going to create a lot of emotionalism and a lot of problems that would not - they could have sat back as other governments have down through the years. You talk to the people in the education system and they will tell you: Look, we didn't think this government had the guts to bring in this. We are proud you did.

I think it is time for a change in education and I think this resolution should be passed speedily through this House. I think it is going to improve the education system and it is going to do it at less cost to the taxpayers of this Province. I commend the government for their action. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my privilege to have an opportunity to speak with reference to the resolution before the House to amend the Constitution of this country.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution is about honesty and it is about integrity. I will bring you back to March 12, 1993, when the Premier of this Province stood in his place and looked up in the gallery at the church leaders there and said, "Mr. Speaker, in response to the church leaders' concerns that implementing certain recommendations of the Royal Commission Report would jeopardize their traditional rights, government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally-protected rights of classes of people specifically provided for."

He rose his eyes several times and looked up at the people in the gallery, as they sat there and listened to him speak about a meeting he had had just two days before where there was some consensus reached on this issue. He said, "It was recognized by all at the meeting, however, that if after the conclusion of these discussions there is consensus amongst the leaders and the government that some adjustment or changes to the Constitution are necessary or desirable then they could be pursued." Now, that is what the Premier of this Province said back on March 12, 1993.

It is about integrity and going to the people of this Province - members on that side of the House went to the people of this Province and told them, `We believe what the Premier told us on March 12 and we went out and told the electorate in the Province,' and they were re-elected into the House on that basis. That, to me, is deception, I say to the Speaker, it is telling the people one thing and doing something different. It is telling the church leaders who negotiated in good faith, the members of his own government that negotiated in good faith and believed that statement that he gave here in the House that day - what a slap in the face to the integrity of these people and to the people of this Province. That is uncalled for, Mr. Speaker, and that is what the Member for St. John's Centre talked about when he was campaigning, and that is why many people got elected to this House.

Mr. Speaker, I believe strongly in reform of the educational system. I taught in the educational system for over twenty years. As Education critic back in February of 1993, I was quoted in The Evening Telegram, a major heading, "MHA says parents should not be forced to send children to a particular denominational school." I said that back in February of 1993. I said that parents should have the right to determine the type of education for their children. If they want to send their children to a denominational school in their area, they should have that right. I believe that that would lead to competitiveness within our educational system.

Prior to that, when a school belonging to a particular denomination closed in the city of Corner Brook, this very government told them - the board made the decision, and I don't question the board's right to make a decision - they had to send their kids across the city to go to another school of the same denomination. They couldn't go to the neighbourhood school. Section 61 of the Schools Act gives the minister certain powers that the minister didn't use. He abdicated the responsibility of using these powers by leaving it be.

Now, what I would do -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many Catholics in the Ferryland District?

MR. SULLIVAN: I will talk about Ferryland right now, I say to the member. You will have your opportunity to speak.

Now, in my district during this referendum I didn't use this as a political tool. I never participated in the campaign in this referendum in my district. I indicated to anyone who asked me how I was voting and why - I told the media how I was voting. I was asked to speak to a Rotary Club meeting and I spoke to them on the issues there prior to the referendum, and I addressed it.

I said to the media, when they said to me, before the referendum, `If your district votes `no' or if your district votes `yes', if they want to support it, how are you going to vote? Are you going to support your district? I did not say, `No, I am going to follow my constituents.' I said to them, `I am going to take into consideration the views of my constituents and I am going to vote then in the appropriate manner. I am not going to compromise principles to get elected to this House of Assembly. I would stand on my record as a member and what I stand for, and if they don't elect me on that basis, that's fine, I will find something else to do, but I am not going to sell out to be elected to the House of Assembly. I didn't sell out in 1993 nor when I ran in 1992; I didn't sell out to try to be elected. I gave two commitments to the people in my district on two different occasions, the first one, before I had a chance to be a member and the second time, they had the opportunity to elect me with a big majority because I promised them I would work harder than anybody for the district - basically nobody would work harder than I, and I would be up front with the people and speak.

MR. GRIMES: You should work a bit harder (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe I should, but I think I worked very hard in it and very hard in the campaign and I don't have any regrets, I say to the Member for Exploits. I hope it will be hard as he is going to work in the leadership campaign when the opportunity arises there.

I taught school under a Roman Catholic board in my district, and there were Anglican people going to the school and people of other religions, and nobody ever knew or ever questioned the religion. People hardly knew what religion they were; they never asked and I never asked and no, they were never treated any differently and when I resigned to run in politics, when I was elected - actually I had taken leave to go into business before that but when I came –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, just one year before that. I taught until June of 1991. I took leave without pay in 1992 to go full-time into business and during that year, September - in that spring, the June 25 by-election -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know you do; but during that time, during the spring -

AN HON. MEMBER: I (inaudible) into business (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I hadn't been at the business full time. That is a different issue; I can take that up another time if the minister wants to talk to me - and as a result of running in that election, I resigned my seat, and the person who was hired to replace me is the daughter of one of the Cabinet ministers sitting over there, of a different religion in the school. I taught with people of different religions in my school, in my district, and never, never, during the time had there been questions - it was a matter of people with certain basic values; it wasn't the religious denomination that determined in the district that I taught in, and I was there for over twenty years and saw people of different religions come and go. Some people are trying to live in the past where the churches fairly well controlled education. Well, they were the only instrument to provide education for a period of time, and I could say in my district, they had moved away from the scene. There were months and even years that a church leader never attended a board meeting. It was being taken - the chairperson - other people - were lay people from the community who practised that specific religion but they were ordinary individuals who made decisions in the best interest of the students and to achieve the proper academic level of achievement they desired and had not discriminated, to my knowledge, in my experience of teaching in that particular school.

I didn't support the government's stand on this issue because I don't believe they were sincere in their intentions. When you look back over the past few years and you see the changes that have occurred in Education in this Province, when you look at the consolidation that has been occurring over the past few years, it has been going on at a phenomenal rate. We have gone from 270 boards down to what? There was consensus on ten boards and you can talk about the make-up of that but there was agreement down to twenty-seven and ten boards; there was an agreement there. We didn't need to reduce boards in this Province to have a constitutional change and we didn't need a constitutional change to have a reduction in the number of schools here. There are now 479; we had over 1,200 back in the 1960s. I have seen it going on.

I will tell you what slowed down for the past few years, what has slowed down for a consolidation is the attitude of this government to dig in and to confront. People wanted to protect, certain rights were there even though they were not very vigorously out protecting those rights. They had sort of left things to the people. We moved through an evolution process when the road was diminished and now it is being stirred up.

In my district I have been a part of consolidation since I was a kid in a one-room school with four grades. We consolidated and moved to the far end of the community. We moved into Ferryland from the community I was born in. We consolidated. And back several years ago when they wanted to consolidate other schools in the region they went looking for some extra funding. If they had another $3 million they could have closed two other schools in the area but it would not have been the most economical method.

I will use a specific example, the number of schools is not always indicative of costs. A school in Fermeuse and one in Cape Broyle have almost 300 students. To close these two schools - they cost $100,000 a year to administer in terms of overhead costs. To bus 300 students would have cost over $150,000 a year more than the cost they were saving, $50,000, not counting the $3 million we need to spend to put the extension to house these people. Amortize that $3 million over a period of time at even a 10 per cent rate and we are looking at $300,000 a year in interest alone. It would have been two to three times as expensive to consolidate as to bus in those areas. There are decisions that have to be made until numbers decline to such a level that it is cheaper to add on to a smaller space and put them there. That evolutionary process has been going on in all parts of this Province. Down in Jackson's Arm, I think, Pollards Point and Sops Arm, the availability of capital expenditure has held back consolidation. Out in Pasadena it is holding it back right now and down in Pouch Cove it is holding it back because they are not putting the capital dollars into construction there to be able to have that consolidation achieved. They are the things we have to look at. They are the economic decisions we have to look at to where we are going to get the best return for the dollar, to have as little used in capital and bus transportation as possible and use as much as we can within the instruction line of education here in our Province. They are the types of decisions we need to make.

Now, buses were not travelling the roads of this Province in 1949. They were not going around this Province with buses then. Buses are not constitutionally protected. I have not seen anywhere where they say the transportation system to schools in this Province is protected under our Constitution. The Department of Education has the right, I say to the minister, they have the right today to say there would be no funding of buses in this Province, period. That was something evolved -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am telling you what your right is. I am not talking about what you will accept - accept is a different matter from a right.

MR. ROBERTS: I did not realize the hon. gentleman is an expert on law.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am not an expert on law but I think I am a half one on commonsense.

MR. ROBERTS: A halfwit.

MR. SULLIVAN: A halfwit yes.

- probably a half one but at least it is better to be a half one than neither one at all, I suppose. At least I have a head start.

Now, denominational education committees, some of the bureaucracy that arose, they played an important role. They can continue to play an important role but they are not constitutionally protected. The bureaucracy in some of those that have developed within the system are not constitutionally protected. And the Premier of this Province - to turn around and try to sell it as a cutback, as a cost on this system. Now, even this year, just this year, in spite of the referendum talk, we see what happened in Gander. And just last year, before the school year in 1994, a school in Come By Chance, a Pentecostal school in Come By Chance I think was the place, in that area there, closed and they moved into Clarenville under the Clarenville Integrated system, and the teacher or two who taught there at that small school were utilized and went to work within the system there, and that did not pose problems. Over 50 per cent of the Pentecostals in this Province are going to schools of other denominations in the Province. There are numerous RCs and people of other religions going to different schools. There is no distinction. Any distinction has been brought on by the actions of this government to bring it to light. That is what has caused the problem in our system today, not a system that was brought forward by the churches in this Province.

Now the Premier has not bargained in good faith with the people of this Province. He did not do it on March 12, 1993, and he did not do it this year. He pushed through with legislation on the agenda. On May 31 this House abruptly closed, and the next day the Premier was out talking about the possibility of a referendum, and he confirmed a referendum the day school closed, and we had a referendum when school opened. Do you think that is honesty and integrity? No, it is not; it is deception, and I, as a member of this House of Assembly, would like to have had an opportunity to debate the question put to the people of this Province.

We are here condemning the Parti Québécois, the Bloc Québécois, but the Parti Québécois tabled in their Legislature, and they allowed the people of their Province to come forward, their elected members, and have a say in the wording and at least stand up, even though the government are going to put through their agenda, but at least we have a right to stand and be heard, and have a say in what is happening.

The Premier manipulated the agenda for educational reform in this Province. He avoided the public forum with it; he avoided the House of Assembly with it, and he used the strongest manipulative tactics. He worded the question. He decided with a small few, not you here in this House. He decided what was going to the people of this Province; he, trying to speak for all fifty-two people here in this Legislature. He might speak for this Province, but he does not speak always for the people who elected me to represent them, and I think we should have had a right.

If we go back to Confederation, and to use numbers, I accept only 52 per cent voted. That is a democratic right, 52 per cent. If people do not want to vote, that is fine; and we cannot say, well, 48 per cent did not vote. I accept that part of our democracy. Also, if we go back to Confederation in 1949, had you told the people in Newfoundland back in 1949 that your rights to denominational education would be taken away, would we have voted for Confederation? No, that was written in our Term 17; we had a constitutionally protected right. We would not be joining Canada in 1949. There would have been 70 or 80 per cent of this Province say no to Confederation. We cannot use those analogies and so on to look at those situations here; they are not valid. I say they are not valid.

The government was not interested in saving money within our educational system. That was not their goal. The Premier, and not all the members of government - they have gone along with the Premier. Some of them have played his game. Some have played it for different reasons. Some refused to play the game, but some have gone along and supported the Premier because he is the leader of their Party and he is the Premier of the Province.

If anyone thinks we are going to have substantial savings in education because of this, there are numerous outstanding issues and things that have to be resolved in this process. What has this government done in terms of budget for education? What have they done for curriculum, the length of the school day, the length of the school year, absenteeism, use of text books, disruptive behaviour in the classroom? All these factors affect educational achievement, and you can pile on the rhetoric and do comparisons of one province to another, and I can tell you they are not valid, and if anyone thinks today by this change, when passed through the House of Commons and the Senate, is going to result in a better educated people ready to go out and tackle the world they are sadly mistaken. They are not the factors that influence education in this Province. Things like the quality of teachers - and the Member for Grand Bank asked some questions, those type of things improve education, the quality of a classroom teacher and their ability to teach the subject and accomplish what is there, that is a factor, and how you motivate students. All these things come down to the individual instructor in the classroom, positive things that we should be addressing in our system today and not trying to undermine a system that was evolving into one that would have become an non-entity in terms of dealing with education in this Province.

The right for people to be able to make a choice is very important. The Premier tried to tell people he did not campaign in this campaign. The Premier of this Province campaigned. The Premier sent a householder out to the people. The Minister of Education went to public forums. He went on open line shows and did expensive and extensive advertising to sell their cause and to tell the people to get out and vote. The media assisted in their campaign. They controlled the agenda and still only got 55 per cent of the vote in the Province, and the Premier then had the audacity to say that the 48 per cent who stayed home voted `yes.' That is an insult to the people of this Province, to tell them that because they did not vote they would have voted in support of the government.

The people of this Province voted and they voted `yes' with 55 per cent to support a manipulated question, a controlled question, a controlled campaign by government at a time of the year when it was most vulnerable. That is what the Premier did. He has manipulated this agenda all along as he has done on other agendas of constitutional natures.

Now, we are asked to support a resolution put forward by this government, without this government giving its true intent. I would like to know where the Premier is hiding the legislation. I said in this House yesterday that we will never see the legislation, unless this passes -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why do you not sit down?

MR. SULLIVAN: I have a half hour.

AN HON. MEMBER: Will you keep your voice down?

MR. SULLIVAN: If you stop making noise I will keep it down. There was a lot of talk and noise so I spoke louder. I do not see anything in the Standing Orders that indicates why I am not entitled to speak in a tone of voice. If it not noisy I will keep it down and if it is noisy I will talk louder because I like to hear myself speak if nobody else does.

Mr. Speaker, I said in the House yesterday that the Minister of Education will never table legislation in this House before it goes through the House of Commons and the Senate. I stated that yesterday and that will be a fact because they do not want to raise any alarms on what is in that legislation. They do not want to upset the apple cart. We will never see it there and the minister almost confirmed that yesterday. We have not been told the process that is going to determine uni-denominational schools, the transition period.

The minister when speaking yesterday in the House, on Page 10 of questions and answers that government prepared and tried to allay certain fears, will there be a transition period before shifting to the new system? There is nothing to indicate this. The Premier wouldn't answer the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

According to this plan, it could be interpreted that when this goes into effect, if it ever goes into effect, then every single school in this Province will be non-denominational, multi-common schools, call them what you like other than uni-denominational. Then, each area would have to show that there is an intent by enough people - and we do not know what enough is. The government said before that 90 per cent was enough. That is what they said before. In consultation with churches, they agreed, there was some unwritten understanding, 50 plus 1. Still we are back to square one; there is no agreement on that basis. If enough people want to have a uni-denominational school and if that school does not affect the viability of other schools in the area - no new school can be constructed as a uni-denominational school in this Province, even to replace a uni-denominational school unless the majority of people -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you sure of your (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, this is factual, I think. It is factual.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, well I can't help that. I mean, I don't control his schedule and he doesn't control mine. I go by my own agenda, I can assure you. Whether it pleases people -

MR. DUMARESQUE: Where did those facts come from?

MR. SULLIVAN: The government. They must be correct, they came from the government.

On page 10 of questions and answers, I say to the Member for Eagle River - take it out and read it because I have. It says here that in some cases time will be needed - this is what came out from your government - how many people would send their children to uni-denominational schools and thus to decide how many such schools would be needed, this is expected to evolve over time. So it is going to be time.

It said in the same section, I tell the Member for Eagle River, who probably has not read it, within a few months the boards could be functional but uni-denominational schools cannot be functional, basically, for several months and maybe beyond that, maybe into years, if that is possible. So there are some of the factors.

Plus we entered into this resolution, this term, without any undertaking from the Minister of Canada. I think it should be normal. If there is going to be a resolution presented to the House of Assembly and a resolution to the House of Commons and the Senate of this Country, there should have been mutual agreement, I think, on the wording of a resolution that is going to be presented, so there wouldn't have to be amendments.

So far, we have had three changes. Now, I indicated that I don't consider those changes to detract from it, and to solidify it more. I don't consider that. But there were three changes made already, and who is to know if this wording is going to be acceptable to the Government of Canada. There should have been consultation and a joint agreement on wording of resolutions, as people know has been achieved in the recent past. There have been discussions on resolutions going on.

Another particular point - and I made this yesterday. An amendment that the Member for Twillingate made - and I still feel there is a limitation put on uni-denominational schools. In fact, I always understood that the intent of uni-denominational schools - and the minister can correct me if I am wrong - the Justice Minister made a point yesterday that I didn't agree with. It was always intent in my mind that uni-denominational schools that are established under Clause 3 of this resolution would have the right to determine, to provide and direct religious observances and religious events within that school. But under clause (c) in this regulation here, a uni-denominational school that is established -

AN HON. MEMBER: Where are you?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am on page 6 of the resolution, clause (c), "where a school is established, maintained and operated pursuant to subparagraph (b)(i)." So we are talking here about a uni-denominational school.

It goes on to say, "the class of persons referred to in that subparagraph shall continue to have the right to provide for religious education, activity and observances," to provide for. Now, the impression I had - and maybe I got the wrong impression initially -is that in uni-denominational schools, not in multi which is the term you are using, they would have the right to determine if they are going to have a religious observance or a religious activity. That is not spelled out here.

MR. ROBERTS: They have the right (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I was of the impression - well, the word `determine' is not used here, the word is `provide'.

It goes on to say, "and to direct the teaching of aspects of curriculum affecting religious beliefs, student admission policy," et cetera; and the right to direct. Now, direct right now only means if you take an automobile and you take the wheel and you drive it. That is directing it, it is not composing the machine, it is not putting it together. I am saying the words `to provide' do not mean determine, to set up, to establish and put that in place. That is the intent I had.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do they do now?

MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't say that. Okay, I will get to that now too.

Right now -

AN HON. MEMBER: What do they do now?

MR. SULLIVAN: I will get to that.

Under this new proposal, we were going to change from a denominational system to a system that was going to be more encompassing and have a multi. We were going to draw out of that system now a select, narrow, smaller group in areas subject to the viability that this government is going to establish in the future, and establish a uni-denominational school that is strictly of that specific denomination. I was under the impression, maybe wrongly, I don't know but that is the impression I got, that if you want to have a religious observance within that school, a religious activity and so on, that particular school could be the determinant of having that religious activity, not just to make provision to have it and direct it, that they would have the right to be able to determine it. That is the impression I have, but that is not what is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, that is one part. It mentions more than one thing. Curriculum is mentioned too but I am not talking about curriculum now. The point I am making now is not talking about curriculum. I am only talking about the terms used here, I am only talking about religious activities and observances. Let's leave curriculum alone.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shall continue to provide.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure. Let's look at it this way -

AN HON. MEMBER: Provide what?

MR. SULLIVAN: Wait until I finish. I will explain that now, how my interpretation is different. Here is my interpretation: Yes, you shall continue to provide it - I agree - because you are providing it now. You shall be able to direct these other things, observances, but it didn't say `continue to determine,' it didn't allow you to determine. You are not allowed to determine according to this. If anyone can tell me in this section where a uni-denominational school can determine - it is not there. That was a resolution the Member for Twillingate, I think, yesterday in the third part of his amendment made reference to. I spoke in favour of it because the intent, as I understand it, was we were not going to limit - if we are going to do it in multi-denominational schools and have departmental control, we were going to allow that specific denomination some wider scope in religious activities and observances in their school, and they are not having any wider scope than they had in areas... Right now they don't have the same control they had basically now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Just a minute or so to finish up?

AN HON. MEMBER: I think you are misinterpreting it.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am not. I understand where the minister is coming from, and I will just say one final time before I conclude, I am indicating that in multi-schools, in multi-denominations -

AN HON. MEMBER: Expert; sit down, boy.

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't profess to be an expert. I have a belief in a certain area that I am not getting addressed appropriately. I don't profess to be an expert; I am just indicating now, to me determine is not provide. I am not arguing on multi-schools. I am not arguing for that right, I say to the minister. Here is what I am stating: That is a school that has been determined to be viable, that religious denomination could now - not in other schools - could determine the nature of that observance or activity, and under this provision in clause (c) they can provide and direct but not determine, and that is what I am stating is there, and it is not in there. The Member for Twillingate moved that and it was not accepted.

I just want to conclude with a couple of brief comments. If we look at minority rights, I do believe that minorities should have certain rights.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I don't profess I went to any law school. I believe in rights of individuals if -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will speak to you after on that because I went over that about three times.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, direct but not determine in that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Determination is inherent in (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't want to delay any further time. I just want to clue up. I will talk to you on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: The determination is in there (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, yes it is.


In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, if we -

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I will stay longer if you want me to, if you really want that.

In conclusion, if we always subject the rights of minorities to the majority we will never have minority rights in this Province; we won't have Native rights. If we subject the rights of natives, Innu and Inuit in Labrador, to the majority of people in this Province, they will never have any rights. If we subject the rights of any minority group in this Province to the general population we can never hope they will have any rights, and I feel that 44 per cent of the population of this Province in this referendum, the RC and the Pentecostal, and if you do a breakdown you can determine geographically the demographics of this Province, indicated they do not want the rights changed, and they have not consented to that right, and therefore if we continue to drive the majority rights on minority people in this Province it would be detrimental, I think, to the ability of this Province to be objective to deal with critical issues that we are going to have to face in basic human rights and other rights in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PENNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise this evening to enter into the debate in what I consider to be one of the most important topics to have come before this hon. Chamber since I was elected in 1989. It is certainly the topic that has caused the most controversy in my district, resulted in the most phone calls and the most letters from my constituents.

I am not going to debate the merits of the amendment nor am I going to debate the opposite position. I am just going to state my position clearly for the record so there will be no misunderstanding on the part of any member as to what my position is.

I will say to all hon. members that my position has been consistent from the first time the Williams' Commission conducted public hearings across the Province. They were in Lewisporte some time in 1990-91, I am not certain of the date. I was given the opportunity to make a presentation to them and I said government must do what it can to eliminate the duplication. It must do whatever it can to restructure the education delivery system and it must do, in the process, everything humanly possible to protect the constitutional rights of the classes of people identified in the Constitution. I believe that basically was the position taken by everybody else there and I believe it is the position taken by the majority of the people in this Province. I remember concluding my remarks that evening by saying the system that we have is not perfect and what we should do is keep it but fix it. From that time on, Mr. Speaker, every time I was asked by any constituent in my district, every time I was asked by any individual who called, every time I was asked by any representative of the churches or by the media, my position was exactly the same.

Then in the spring of 1993, I believe it was during the election campaign, I was invited to the Ralph Laite Pentecostal Colligate. There were probably in the area of 600-800 people in attendance. I was asked what my position was and I made the same statement again, that we must eliminate the duplication in the system; that we must restructure the delivery process but we must do what we could to protect the constitutional rights. At that particular time my opponent, who was running for the Progressive Conservative Party, said basically the same as I did. So everybody in the auditorium at that time was assured that regardless which candidate was elected, their rights would be protected and their views would be represented honourably.

Now on December 14, I was invited to go to a similar function in Lewisporte and intended to do so but could not get away from the airport. Ever since I have been here in 1989 that was the very first time the flights were cancelled because of fog. So I stated my position on paper, clearly put it on paper and sent it out to them by fax. I would like to quote from that memorandum that I sent them, for the record, I said: Government is attempting to restructure the educational system in this Province to ensure that our students receive a level of education that is the equivalent of any in the country. We are attempting to achieve educational excellence while providing overdue reform to the system of educational delivery.

I believe that government, churches, school boards, parents and students all agree on this very basic principle. Excellence in education with a minimum of duplication. It is encouraging to see that the churches and government have been working together to achieve a model that will deliver the standard of education that we must achieve while maintaining the constitutional rights of the classes of people associated with the present denominational system. In this process of restructuring for educational excellence, we must be ever mindful of the fundamentals that have characterized Newfoundland's denominational education. Every possible safeguard must be put in place to protect our children and our grandchildren from a godless secular educational system. We must recognize that it is not sufficient to give our children a thorough education in academics alone. We must educate the whole person, creating moral values, a social conscience, and an abiding belief and trust in the god of our forefathers. The right to educate our children in this manner was of such importance in 1949 that we were not prepared to become Canadians despite the other tremendous benefits unless this right was protected and preserved. It has since become entrenched in the Canadian Constitution further protecting us from any change that would create a public school system.

As one member in the House of Assembly I will do everything in my power to assist in maintaining a dialogue between the churches and government and to ultimately achieve a denominational educational school system acceptable to everybody. I will not, however, under any circumstances support a unilateral move by government to amend the Constitution of this country to abolish the rights of the classes of people to educate their children in a denominational system.

That was the position I took then, on December 14, it was the position I had taken since 1990, and it was the position I took approximately two months later when I was asked to go and speak at a similar forum at the high school in Summerford. A couple of my other colleagues were there at the same time. As a matter of fact, so there would be no misunderstanding, I read the letter in its entirety to all those in attendance, so my position had not changed, and my position has not changed to this day.

My view is that a consensus could have been obtained, or should have been obtained, but for some reason that did not happen. Why it did not happen I do not know. Who is to blame? I do not know that either. Can we lay some of the blame on the shoulders of Pastor Batstone and Mr. Fallon? That is more than I can say. Can we lay some of the blame on the negotiating team representing government? That is more than I can say, but what I can say is that for some reason a consensus was not arrived at.

There were those who said a few months ago that government had no mandate to proceed any further with constitutional amendment, and I accept that. I believe that is correct. Government had no mandate. It had not arrived at a consensus with the leaders of the churches, and it is also corrected in the election of 1993 that was not one of the platforms, that was not one of the issues we campaigned on. It was not made an issue by government so I think it is fair to say that government had no mandate. There were two ways to achieve one, the Premier had two options. He could have called a general election or he could have called a referendum, and government decided to hold a referendum.

I state again that I am not here to defend a position, nor am I here to quarrel with it. I am here to simply explain to everybody for the record what my position is. I do not think anybody can argue the acceptability of the process though. When the referendum was held every single individual in this Province of voting age had an opportunity to speak. Every single individual who lived in every district in this Province who was of voting age had the same opportunity to voice his or her opinion, and the very fact that some didn't, I guess, we will have to conclude that they did not care enough to get out and vote. I do not know, but the people who cared voted, and for the most part they did.

I believe, when you look at the results of the people who cared enough to get out and vote, 54 per cent of them voted, yes, 54 per cent of them supported what the government was proposing. I believe that government was given then the mandate that it needed.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was 55 per cent.

MR. PENNEY: My hon. colleague says 55 per cent but I am reading 54 per cent off the sheets here. Well, I will accept that, 55 per cent of the people who voted in favour of what government was proposing, so the Premier and the government had the mandate that it sought, and I fully support its right to proceed, but in my district the results were a little bit different. In my district the vote went in the opposite direction. Fifty-seven per cent of the electorate in the Lewisporte district voted no. Forty-three per cent of the voters in Lewisporte voted yes; and as much as I respect the process that the Premier put in place to give the people of this great Province the right to speak, and they have spoken, and the government has heard, I believe that I have an obligation to the constituents who put me in here to represent them to do what they have asked me to do. I believe that is one of the things that a referendum does.

As an individual who resides in the Town of Lewisporte, in the district of Lewisporte, even though I am the MHA, I had one vote on referendum day, and on September 5 my vote was no more important than anybody else's, but I exercised my right. I exercised my responsibility and I voted, and I will tell you that all through the campaign, if we can call it that, I did not support either side. I did not publicly support government's position; nor did I publicly support the no campaign. I did not attempt to sway one single voter. I believed that this was their time to speak. I have had my opportunity. All hon. members here in this House have had their opportunity, and will again, but on September 5 that was the opportunity that was given to the electorate to speak. It was their day, so I did not want to interfere; but I will say to you, for anybody who asked me, I said without hesitation that I did not share the views of those people who said that this amendment will result in us having a godless, secular school system. I don't share that view, and I said to them without hesitation that I did not believe that what we were doing would end up resulting in a school system where you could not put a crucifix on the wall, or say the Lord's Prayer, or have religious exercises in the school. I did not agree with that, and I don't agree with it now.

I believe that the rights that have been protected in the constitution for all this time are still protected with this new amendment, but the people in my district asked one thing of me. They asked one thing, that whatever the majority of them voted, that is what I would do to represent them in this hon. Chamber. Mr. Speaker, they asked no more, they deserve no less, and when the opportunity is presented to me that is what I will do.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me first of all address a couple of brief remarks to the hon. member who just took his place, because I think he is taking a courageous stand and I congratulate him for it. He knows I was watching very carefully, as he knows I was one of the constituents of his who voted no on referendum day in the district of Lewisporte, and he knows that I will be watching carefully -

AN HON. MEMBER: Does that mean you are going to vote for him the next time?

MR. WINDSOR: I heard what he said, and I think it takes a certain amount of courage, particularly as part of this government I would say, without getting any more political than that, but as part of this government it takes some courage to stand up and take the opposing position. It is too bad that not all of those over there who feel differently are going to be prepared to stand up and take that position, I say. There are several more over there who could very well raise themselves quite a bit by taking the position the hon. member just took. I recognize what he said, and while I recognize why he would want to vote as his constituents voted, I would say to him that I wouldn't totally feel bound by it, as I don't totally feel bound by the vote in my own district and my own district voted just the opposite. In fact, they were much stronger on the other side; my district voted 66.something per cent `yes', but the real question is: what did they say `yes' to, and I agree with the hon. member when he says: the referendum is a reasonable way of finding out how the people feel on an issue. I would say to you though, that I disagree with the hon. member when he says he doesn't challenge the process; I think the process was wrong. What the process is is an admission of failure on behalf of this government to be able to negotiate fairly with those who have so much at stake here.

I know that there are important issues to be resolved, but I say, Mr. Speaker, that most of the major issues were not in dispute. There was agreement in large measure on educational reform. I think very few people in this Province if any, disagree with educational reform. Our party has supported the Williams Commission Report and most, if not all of the details involved in that, and most if not all of the reforms proposed in accordance with that by this government, but I don't want to get into that aspect. I think the decision has been made by government and I know where we are heading and we are debating an issue now that is a fait accompli.

There is no question that there is widespread support for educational reform. The proof of that, and the reason I say that we didn't need a referendum, is in the Premier's own press release that he issued the day after the vote. He said: Previous polling which indicated clearly that at least two-thirds of the population supported reforming the Province's educational system and I think that is accurate and I would accept that. I would go so far as to say that I am surprised it is not even more as I think more than two-thirds of the people probably support educational reform. That's not the question. That's not the question we are debating here and the problem I had with the whole referendum process is that, we did not have a clear question. People were asked to vote `yes or no', nothing else but there wasn't a clear question to which they could answer `yes or no'.

In my view, there were three questions people had to consider. Number one: Do you agree with educational reform?... and I believe the majority of people in this Province would answer yes to that. Do you agree with uni-laterally taking away the inherent constitutional rights of the churches and their role in education?... and I think the majority of people in this Province would say no to that. The third question was: Do you agree that it is imperative that the churches have major control and management of our educational system in order to protect their rights of ensuring religious instructions and so forth in the classrooms?... and I think the answer to that is: not necessarily, and I think most people will say: nothing wrong with the churches doing it, as long as it is effective and efficient, the most efficient system, perhaps the churches can manage the school systems better than any other public organization, any government-run school system. Who knows? That's debatable but I don't think it is important whether the churches run the schools, who owns the buildings and who runs the buildings, who does the maintenance or who does the administration. That's not what's at stake here surely.

The question here is the rights of the churches to ensure a religious environment in the school. That's what the churches are so concerned about, so I say to the House, Mr. Speaker, there were three questions: Do you want reform? Yes. Should the churches have their inherent constitutional rights taken away from them? No. Is it imperative for the churches to manage? Not necessarily; three questions. How could you answer yes or no to those three questions? So people were torn in their own consciences, Mr. Speaker, of which of those questions was the most important to them and I think again, referring to the Premier's own press release, the answer is clear: Previous polling he says - and I accept that - he said two-thirds of the people want educational reform, but yet on referendum day, barely over 50 per cent voted `yes'.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Fifty-five per cent. I am not going to quibble over a percentage or two, but significantly, a lower percentage of people supported the reform proposal, the referendum proposal than had previously been indicated in polls, that they would support reform, so that tells me that people wanted reform but they weren't so strong in this whole package if it meant taking away the inherent rights of churches. There is a difference, Mr. Speaker, and my view, on the result that is here is that, 54 or 55 per cent of the people decided that yes, we want educational reform and I guess, if we have to, we will perhaps override our strong feelings on the churches rights and under the Constitution. I think perhaps that's what it said, but it clearly indicates that perhaps 20 per cent or better, who were prepared to support reform were not prepared to support reform if it means taking away the churches rights, and what we are talking about here, is not where we build a school, on this side of the road or that side of the road, we are talking about basic constitutional rights, and under our Constitution, Mr. Speaker, constitutional rights are protected unless a huge majority of stakeholders agree. Not a simple majority of 50 per cent plus 1.

If we were talking about the reform processes or any aspect of the reform or who administers the buildings, I think those are basic constitutional rights but the rights of churches to provide religious instructions and to provide a Christian atmosphere in the school, which are the basic constitutional rights, I firmly believe, Mr. Speaker, it takes greater than 50 per cent plus 1, to change that.

Talking about minority groups here, we are saying that we will now unilaterally, because the majority say that through this referendum the government has a right to go ahead, that we will take away minority rights from churches yet, Mr. Speaker, this House, not a year ago, a year-and-a-half ago, maybe, we passed legislation in this House, Mr. Speaker, that gave minority rights to Francophones in this Province, that they can have a Francophone school where the numbers warrant. We gave those rights to Francophones and I supported that and I still support it, but yet on the other hand, we are taking away the constitutional rights of religious groups in this Province and I say, Mr. Speaker, that is inherently wrong and I cannot support it, and so I am left with a question of: Do I vote in accordance with the expressed wishes of 66 per cent of the people in my district who voted, or do I vote with my conscience?

Now we are back to the real question, aren't we? A question that faces every member, not on every issue because many issues are political issues, they are party issues and everyone of us, from time to time, vote with the party position. Members support the government, ministers support the government on all issues or they would no longer be ministers, they have a choice; either support the government or they resign.

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't know.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, not in this government necessarily. Nevertheless, in this case we have seen a number who are prepared to stand up and be counted, who are voting with their conscience, and I congratulate those who are voting with their conscience on this particular issue. On our side we are having a free and open vote, and every member is free, totally free, to vote in accordance with his or her conscience, no problem with that.

So the real question that we are faced with, each one of us, first of all: What exactly did the people vote for? I submit they voted for educational reform, and I say to this government, let's move ahead with educational reform with all haste, but I am not convinced, even though 54 or 55 per cent of the people said yes, I submit that a large number of that 55 per cent said yes, in spite of the fact that I don't like what you are doing to the religious system in this Province, to the churches, in taking away constitutional rights, in spite of that I want reform so badly that I will vote yes; but I say there is not 50 per cent of the people of this Province, if the government had put on that referendum three questions, and if one of those three questions were: Shall we unilaterally take away the rights of the churches?.. you would not get 50 per cent. You would not get 30 per cent, I would submit, of people in this Province who would answer that part of the question positively.

So the question was clouded, cleverly clouded, to give the Premier the power that he wants to unilaterally move ahead with a constitutional amendment to take away the rights of the churches enshrined in the constitution, rights that we last year gave Francophones in this Province, that we now want to take away from religious groups in this Province, nothing but political manoeuvring; deliberately clouded the question so that it was not clear.

The resolution we have before us today is simply that; it is a resolution to take away from the churches their constitutional rights. That is all that this is. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we are here today to support educational reform. Nothing in this, if it were turned down, would stop educational reform. The only thing stopping educational reform is the willingness of the Premier of this Province to compromise on any issue, no matter how small, no matter how significant, because he and only he can be right. That is what we are talking about here, failure of the administration to compromise in negotiations with the schools, and it is an admission of failure that we are even here debating it. That is what we are talking about, not educational reform. We are talking about a constitutional amendment that takes away inherent rights from churches. And it is not everybody, if the question were asked: Do you agree with the role that the churches now play -

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't believe what you are saying (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Exploits has something to say, let him have the intestinal fortitude to get on his feet and speak. Let him explain how he is going to justify his position to the constituents in his district.

Let me say that a large percentage of Newfoundlanders, if the question were asked: Do you agree with the role that the churches have played, the amount of control they have had over the educational system in this Province?. Many of them would say: No, I don't agree with it. I don't fully support the role that the churches have played, but I don't think that we should take away their rights unilaterally. Let us do it, if it needs to be done, if it is in the best interest of the Province, let us negotiate; and I, for one, believe that the churches are prepared to negotiate. Maybe there is some failure on their side - I am not laying all the blame - but I say the government has given up too quickly, far too quickly. What is the great rush?

Ninety per cent of what is involved in the proposal to reform education in this Province can be done now, today, and should have been done over the last three years instead of waiting for now. That portion which will require change in the relationship between churches and government may take some time but we can have 90 per cent of it now and what is left can be done through negotiation if there is a willingness on both sides. I call on both sides, Mr. Speaker, to get to the bargaining table and negotiate in good faith, but I do not, cannot, and will not, support this government unilaterally taking away constitutional rights from the churches, and I will not be supporting this motion.

In spite of what my constituents said - and if the minister had been here listening he would have heard my rationale that my constituents did not tell me to take away unilaterally the rights of the churches. They voted in support of educational reform. They are two separate issues and I will not support the motion.

Thank you.

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

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

I have just a few words, Mr. Speaker. First of all let me say that I respect the opinions of all hon. members, and I guess it is only appropriate that any hon. member in this House takes the word of another hon. member for whatever reason, whether they support or don't support, or whatever the case may be, that we take their word as being gospel. Now, let us speak about gospel.

Mr. Speaker, the eloquence of the Minister of Education today in explaining where government went along this two and a half year journey with the churches, I do not intend to repeat. The point has been made, nor do I tend to repeat anything the Member for Ferryland had to say. I suddenly realize why all the kids in his school were so adamant in getting out and putting posters up for him, to get him in here and get him out of there. They were terrified you were going to come back.

Of course behind every good man is a good woman and I say to the hon. member he is a good man. I am up and down his district quite a bit and they speak rather highly of him, however, I might also add that I wish he would do something about his district so I could take a break. He knows exactly what I am saying.

Mr. Speaker, in my days, and perhaps I will reveal in the few remarks I am going to make this evening, I will reveal my age. I remember, and not with great fondness either, I remember my first two years of going to school at Holy Cross school on Patrick Street in the great district of St. John's South. However, my mother was an Eastender and decided that St. Bon's was the place to go. Now, the problem with me going to St. Bon's, or having to go to St. Bon's was you talk about discrimination and distinction, and if you had dollars and you did not have dollars. Even a better example right across the street from St. Bon's was St. Patrick's high school and I went to St. Bon's college, so let me tell you the difference between the two schools. It was a dollar a year if you went to St. Pat's and $24 a term if you went to St. Bon's. That was the difference.

AN HON. MEMBER: How long ago was that?

MR. MURPHY: That was a few years ago.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Yes, it was. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is correct, '58.

Now, I was fortunate because I did not have, like a lot of members here, to go through the experience of being subject to a one room school where one teacher taught everybody. I know that experience must have been extreme, to say the least, that a teacher brushed by you for ten minutes and gave you some kind of assignment, then brushed by a Grade 4 student and then brushed back to a Grade 7 student. I went to a school that was totally taught by Irish Christian Brothers. The school across the street was totally taught by Irish Christian Brothers. The curriculum was totally the same.

MR. MACKEY: I taught there.

MR. MURPHY: Did you teach at St. Bon's?

MR. MACKEY: No, across the street.

MR. MURPHY: You taught at St. Pat's? I say to the Member for Grand Falls, he did not teach in my day I don't think. I don't think he taught in my day because it was all Christian Brothers at St. Pat's. It was a system that was as flawed, it was a system that was as discriminatory as, I suppose, any educational system in North America. Now it was, in all fairness, a decent system from a standpoint of delivering education in the early '50s and up to the middle '50s, in comparison.

Now I heard my colleague yesterday from Twillingate talking about all the wonderful Newfoundlanders and he went through this great list of Newfoundlanders who went abroad and became great. Now that is not surprising. That has been going on since time. That is self initiative. A lot of Newfoundlanders, that the Member for Twillingate talked about, were people who burned the midnight oil, as one brother used to say, burned the midnight oil because he did not have any electricity. That was self initiative. It has absolutely nothing to do with the educational system that surrounds us today or then, absolutely nothing. It is not tied in at all.

Now as we went along and we saw - what transpired I ask the hon. members? The Irish Christian Brothers, as I knew them, were men - I say without hesitation, Mr. Speaker - great, great men of extreme quality and ability who were total educators and not only were they there until four o'clock in the afternoon, because that was when school was out, but they were there until six o'clock if you so needed them. They were dedicated and their vows were near and dear to them. They would be, at that particular time, the tutor. If you were behind in Algebra or Trig or whatever the case might be, they were there committed, dedicated to help you. Of course, I don't want to get in - there is no need here and we all know the results of subsequent years and what happened to the Irish Christian Brothers. It was sad, I was sad and we all should be sad because if you remember, like I remember -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was only a few though.

MR. MURPHY: Exactly, exactly. It is sad that a few - and this sometimes happens - takes down the ship. As we moved on into the '70s and '80s well my colleague -

AN HON. MEMBER: We learned a lesson from those.

MR. MURPHY: Yes, that is true, that is right and the hon. member should learn a lesson too. He went to school to Brother Rice and so forth, went through the system slowly but surely. Now here it is 1995 and this government, as every other government across this country, is forced - it is all right if we got some money, if we got lots of money, if we got the resources and so forth and so on, we can live with inefficiencies I suppose, not that it ever would be right but we could. Now the Member for Ferryland jumps to his feet every day and attacks the Minister of Health because of beds, waiting lists and everything else. Then somebody else gets up and attacks some other minister over here who is trying to do the best with the resources that are at his disposal, very little resources, so this government with no other alternative, had no other option. The Minister of Education and Training, the Premier of the Province said: where can we save some money?

Now, the other thing was, we also realized that there were inefficiencies. The Member for Waterford- Kenmount is over there and I know he knows this because he was a teacher, he was an educator. There were deficiencies in the system and we need say no more about the testing that showed us where we were, as young Newfoundlanders, young men and women and our capabilities to drive into the 90s and into 2000 when we know that the technical skills, the computer skills, all the other skills are so, so, so important for our young people to be able to get out and make sure that they are gainfully employed.

They know that they are mobile. I mean, we are spending, I say to the Member for Ferryland, somewhere close to $18 million - I stand to be corrected, the Minister of Health, who is still responsible not the Minister of Education and Training - for the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University. Is that somewhere close?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you. Okay - and the minister has to get his staff to go abroad to recruit doctors to come to our Province. Now something is wrong. There is something desperately wrong with a system whereby we cannot - and people who are opposite who talk about resettlement, forced resettlement and all the other things, we cannot get our own people from rural Newfoundland, who have become doctors to go back to the areas from which they came. Surely heavens, that's not the fault of the Minister of Health, it is not the fault of the Minister of Education and Training, it is not the fault of the Premier, it is not the fault of this member or that member, so I say to the member, we have to be as efficient as we possibly can with the few dollars, as your father and my father would say, the few dollars we got.

Now, what is the real issue here? As I see it, it is one of governance; it is one of control and one of who has the final say. The Minister of Health got up the other day - and it is only a few months ago I found this out - that if, and God knows we have lots of problems with structures and buildings where our young people have to go to be educated - the environment, is almost as important as the person with the chalk; the environment, because well-fed, well-clothed type children who are comfortable, obviously are more adapted to learn in that environment than they would be if the school building was leaking, so the minister gets a request from one of the DECs, for example, let us say he gets it from the Pentecostal Church, for $1.2 million to totally renovate the roof of a school.

Now, surely heavens, I mean, members opposite, surely heavens must really reach down and try - how can you appreciate providing that $1.2 million to that school and then having the minister turn around and proportionately take that kind of funding and dish it out to the other DECs? I mean, it is totally wrong. Let me give the member another example about a constituent and I will talk a little bit in a minute about constituents and how they feel about this in what is seen as a Catholic district, the District of St. John's South.

I had a call from a lady who said to me: I wonder if you can help me, Mr. Murphy? I said: what's your problem? She identified herself unlike the letter the minister received, she identified herself and I told her: well I don't know. Her quandary was simple. She said: I live right across the street, on Patrick Street, from the convent school, St. Patrick's Convent. She said: I went over to see the principal, who was very, very hospitable, who was very, very understanding, but she could not guarantee that my daughter of eight and my daughter of ten could go across the street to St. Patrick's Convent because of the system. This was only a couple of weeks ago. So this woman was going to be faced with having to send an eight-year old and a ten-year old from Patrick Street all the way up to I.J. Samson. What even is more bothersome, there are kids at St. Patrick's Convent who live up by I.J. Samson who have to beat through snow drifts, unploughed sidewalks, and beat their way to St. Patrick's Convent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Well, it could be. That is for another time.

Now, let me address something that is near and dear to me, and some of the other members opposite who made quite an issue of: Mr. Speaker, let me say that I don't think there is one member, not one person in this House, including the constable down there, who believes for one second that the minute that the Senate passes this resolution that the moral fibre of this Province goes apart. Every child is now going to be out there with a gun and a mask. The Newfoundlanders will lose their morals. Let me tell the hon. member this, that the greatest morals in this nation are in this Province, and he knows it.


MR. MURPHY: Because of history, I say to the member.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why change it?

MR. MURPHY: We are not changing history, I say to the member. We are not changing one thing. I talked to Pastor Batstone and I talked to Mr. Fallon for an hour in my office - I don't see them up there now - and they will tell you. I asked them, did they think -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, and Pastor Batstone was the man who said to me: You know, the morality of the children in this Province is in the hands of the parents of this Province. I totally agree with him; it is in the hands of the people of this Province, and I have no fear whatsoever.

Now, the other day the Member for Twillingate got up and said a few words about the Member for Conception Bay South which I found, to be quite candid and honest with you, offensive; however, that is only me and other members will speak for themselves.

When Pastor Batstone and Mr. Fallon said to me: But what about Easter and Christmas and all the celebration? And they had said to me about Ontario. Let me say to all hon. members, I have witnessed Nativity scenes all across this nation and in the U.S.A., and in a little town called Orangeville, about maybe fifty or sixty -

AN HON. MEMBER: Orange (inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Orangeville, I said. I am sorry if the Member for Naskapi did not hear me. Perhaps he needs a haircut. Anyway, in Orangeville at a public school, I say to the member, was probably the brightest and nicest and most decorated Nativity scene that I had ever witnessed on a school grounds. So scaring, fearmongering, whatever... Now, if something is going to go awry or astray - section (e), I say to the Member for Ferryland, if the classes of persons having rights under this term so desire they shall have the right to elect in total not less than two thirds of the members of the school board, and any class - now, this is really where it gets important, we know what two thirds is, so that is control, okay? The Member for Mount Pearl does not know what two thirds means because he got up and said, no, when 66 per cent of his constituents said, yes, so perhaps he needs a lesson in math. Well, he does need a lesson in math because he was, at one time, Minister of Finance, and that is why this government is trying to pay $530 million to service the Tory debt.


MR. MURPHY: Anyway, let me finish, Mr. Speaker. Any class so desiring shall have the right to elect the portion of the total that is proportionate to the population of the class in the area of the board's jurisdiction. Now, the Member for Ferryland and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes have nothing to worry about, neither one of them. Even though this young member over here is young he will never, ever, in his lifetime ever have to worry about anything in his district.

He got up yesterday trying to wiggle around what is definition. Now, I will tell the member what definition is. He does not have to worry, not a worry in the world. Neither does the Member for Grand Bank have to worry either because the moral fibre of the people in Grand Bank is as solid as this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are talking about Murphy, that's what we are talking about.

MR. MURPHY: That is exactly what we are talking about. What we are talking about I say to the member is simply the power to control. Mr. Speaker, long before this issue came up I never had any problem. As a matter of fact I always voiced over the years that I thought it was time that the denominational system, as we knew it, should be restructured and changed. There had to be something done with it because it was wasteful and still is wasteful, as every member in this House knows.

Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact I am thrilled to be able to get up after what I have seen over my educational life, and after trying to rear six children myself and seeing what happened at the end of the day, I know how they are married, so forth and so on, where they went to school and the whole nine yards, and not a problem, not a problem. So those who are getting close now to ghosts and goblins, and bogeyman, and it really starts to suit some people now, grab onto the goblins, grab onto the ghosts, and grab onto the bogeyman, because let me say that this hon. member will be supporting government. As a matter of fact if we had a parade I think I would like to carry the flag.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

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

Protect me, Mr. Speaker, from the members on this side. The hon. minister previously speaking, the minister responsible for employment suggested that he would like to be leading the parade with the flag. I warn him he had better wait until his leader tells him which flag to carry. That is what he had better wait for, and he knows that is true because that is all he is doing now, is following the parade. He is leading no parade. He is following the parade and we know who is leading it. We know who is pulling you along. We know what you are doing.

MR. MURPHY: I do not need your innuendos.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: There is no innuendo about it. You are told how to vote and you are voting. That's it, and there is no innuendo involved in it. You know it and I know it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. A. SNOW: That bothers me, too.


MR. W. MATTHEWS: Tom, how did they vote up home by the way?


MR. SULLIVAN: I have a copy of the results in case you are interested.

MR. A. SNOW: The hon. Member for Ferryland suggested that if the member spent more time in his constituency he probably would have voted no and he would still vote no.

Most of the members who stood to speak in the debate talked about how they are pleased, Mr. Speaker, to speak on this resolution. Well I'm not, I am not and I think if most of the other people that spoke were really honest about it they were not really pleased to have to stand up and speak to this particular resolution. It has been divisive. It has caused a lot of problems in a lot of houses, families and constituencies but, Mr. Speaker, a lot of people have said that it is a waste of money, with what went on, the referendum. We should be in here doing something constructive. All last summer or last fall we could have been doing things that would have been constructive instead of this destruction that we put on the people of this Province by having to go out and debate this particular resolution.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now the Member for Eagle River will have his opportunity to speak and when he speaks I will not interrupt. So I ask that he would afford me the same privilege.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution to amend Term 17 of the terms of Newfoundland with Canada, guaranteed the rights of certain classes of people to a denominational educational system. Now how did we get to the stage that we had to go out in our communities and discuss or debate this issue? How did we get there? We got there after the Premier made a promise in this Legislature, on March 12, 1993, when he said and I quote, "Mr. Speaker, in response to the church leaders concerns that implementing certain recommendations of the Royal Commission Report would jeopardize their traditional rights, government has assured the leaders that it is not seeking change to the Constitution that would remove the constitutionally-protected rights of classes of people specifically provided for."

He continued to say, after the applause settled down - and the people who were nervous about what their constituents were going to be thinking about coming up on the eve of an election now - you can imagine now how some of these people, like the Member for Exploits, were thinking. Now he can go back to his constituents and knock on a door - couldn't he - with a little more fervour and a little more energy at the door. The Premier said, when the applause finally died down, "It was recognized by all at the meeting, however, that if after the conclusion of these discussions there is consensus amongst the leaders and the government that some adjustment or changes to the Constitution are necessary or desirable then they could be pursued."

Now, Mr. Speaker, we all know what happened. There was an election; that is what happened. The hon. Member for St. John's Centre spoke the other day about: How can this occur? You can make a promise one day and a couple of months later you can tear it up, throw it away -

MR. SULLIVAN: After an election.

MR. A. SNOW: After an election, of course, and say: Well, somebody else made me do it. Was that the reasoning, the devil made me do it? Or is it, as he used the analogy of when you were a kid, when you were a child, and you were arguing over the ball or whatever it was, and the bully got you down on the grass and twisted your arm that you would give up your ball, your little red ball, to him. He twisted your arm until you finally gave in. He won; the bully won. Then you jumped up and said: Ah, I had my fingers crossed so it doesn't count, and he took the red ball and kept it. That was the example that was used by the Member for St. John's Centre, a similar type of thing. Is that what this government hangs its hat on, that he crossed his fingers so it doesn't count; I had my fingers crossed.

MR. SULLIVAN: I think they lost sight of the ball. They didn't keep their eye on the ball, did they?

MR. A. SNOW: They certainly did not keep their eye on the ball. They may have had their fingers crossed, or the Premier did, but they broke a promise, a covenant made with the people that held those rights, and those people, the classes of people, never had the opportunity of voting on the right to give up their rights. They did not have that opportunity; it was not afforded to them, so they were deceived during the election.

Mr. Speaker, a lot of people have wondered, why would the government want to do it? Most of the things that could be done in reform could have been done over the last two or three years. Why are they hell-bent for leather to do this? What is it all about? Why do they want to do this to the families of this Province? Some people suggest, rather cynically, that this government has nothing to hang its hat on that they have succeeded with, nothing, done absolutely nothing that they can hang their hat on. But the Hydro - you all remember that, most of you - most of you were going to sell it all off. You were going to sell it, give it away. It did not matter what the people said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: You were going to sell the Health Sciences Complex. You keep quiet.

MR. SULLIVAN: Churchill Falls they gave away, not (inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, they gave away Churchill Falls.

Some people suggest that what they are really about is to be perceived as doing something and yet not really doing it, smoke and mirrors again, as the new Minister of Finance talks about. Just last week he talked about smoke and mirrors being perpetrated over the last five or six years since he had been out of Cabinet, how the Cabinet had been perpetrating a smoke and mirrors type of accounting with regard to the employment levels in the civil service, whereas at the same time they were talking about decreasing the number of people in the public service it was actually ballooning; it was actually going up. The nurses were laid off, line people were laid off, policemen were laid off, firemen were laid off, yet the bureaucrats went up. The new Minister of Finance suggested that it was smoke and mirrors, so is that what this government is about in this particular episode, in this particular debate that they have started in this Province?

Now, Mr. Speaker, they called the referendum for September 5. Now, Mr. Speaker, that in itself was questionable. The first weekend of the beginning of school. They would not do it a little later when people could be back in a school setting and being more, I think, more responsive to the actual setting in a school - in that milieu, if you will, Mr. Speaker. They could have had the referendum occur, I think, a little later. A lot of people in my district suggested it, from around the Province even suggested it.

It being 7:00 p.m., Mr. Speaker, I adjourn debate.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We had previously agreed we would adjourn at 7:00 p.m. So when we come back in the morning and get through the Orders of the Day or the routine proceedings leading to Orders of the Day, we will be calling the motion and my friend from Menihek will have the opportunity to tell us what he really is going to do on this vote and we look forward to that.

With that said, Mr. Speaker - one other point, less there be any uncertainty, we will propose the House adjourn at not later than noon tomorrow. I know that members from out of town want to make travel arrangements so they can proceed on that basis.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I want that, if I may, Mr. Speaker, enshrined in letters of bronze and embossed on my learned friend's forehead - what is it he said - that nobody could ever say I would be anything other than accommodating? I thank him for his perceptiveness. It is not often he is that perceptive but I am always receptive to that perceptiveness.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, at 9:00 a.m.