October 31, 1995               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLII  No. 46

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

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

Oral Questions

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

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

After last night's vote in Quebec, did you receive a call from the Prime Minister or any other representative of the federal government to tell you about a new federal government proposal, a package of Meech Lake like constitutional and other changes designed to reconcile the differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada? If you got such a call, will you tell us what was said - what was said by the federal representative and what you replied?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I got no such call.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the Prime Minister may understandably be reticent about approaching this Premier. Has the Premier been informed in any way that the federal Cabinet met this morning to consider moving quickly to propose a package of Meech Lake like changes? Has the Premier been informed that the package will likely include the following three changes: Number one, devolution to Quebec of certain powers now exercised by the federal government, including employment training; number two, a veto for Quebec over specified constitutional amendments; and, number three, recognition of Quebec as a distinct society?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I answered the hon. leader's question very specifically, the very specific question that she asked. I spoke with the Prime Minister yesterday afternoon, so I have not had any discussion with the Prime Minister since the Quebec referendum. I had a conversation with him prior to the Quebec referendum. The content of that conversation is, at least for this moment, between the Prime Minister and myself and that is the way it must remain for the moment.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can understand why the Premier would not want anyone to find out what the Prime Minister told him when he called him before the vote.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary for the Premier. Prime Minister Chrétien got his wake-up call last night. I ask the Premier, did you get yours? After last night's alarm, are you now ready to change your position in ways that will reach out to Quebec and unify Canada?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with something here that is vitally important to the future of all of this country, of all the people in this Province. For the Leader of the Opposition to be playing cheap politics with it as she is now is disgusting beyond belief.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the Premier, you should have thought about the importance of the Meech Lake Accord when you cancelled the vote.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS VERGE: You should have thought about the sensitivity of the Quebec vote before you opened your big mouth last week!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) be quiet.

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker, my question is -

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

MS VERGE: - very simple and I will repeat it. After last night's scare, is the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador now ready to change his position in ways that will reach out to Quebec and help keep this country together?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I'm prepared to do what's right for the whole of the Canadian people. I'm not prepared to sit in this House and play cheap politics with the Leader of the Opposition for her own political advantage.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The rights and responsibilities of the people of this Province are too important, the rights and future of the people of Canada are too important, for me to engage in this kind of cheap political theatrics with the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

Before we proceed we have to have some order in this Assembly.


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

I ask hon. members on both sides to restrain themselves. We are into Question Period and we will proceed when we have some order and decorum here.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, on a supplementary.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Why is the Premier today, avoiding the critical issues, the issues that have led to the feelings of alienation by Quebecers and that have put in jeopardy the unity of Canada? Why is the Premier refusing to address the substantive issues? Why instead, has the Premier lapsed back into talking about a constituent assembly, talking about process after we have seen so many displays of his instincts for dictatorial and divisive action, seen it when he cancelled the Meech Lake vote -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

Why is the Premier refusing to talk about the vital, substantive issues?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am refusing to be dragged in -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am refusing to be dragged into a confrontational discussion in these circumstances that can only do more harm than good, either to gratify the insatiable appetite of the media for confrontation or, to gratify the insatiable appetite of politicians for cheap shots and for cheap gain. Either one, I will not do it, I will place the interest of this country first.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS VERGE: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier, why didn't you think about the best interest of Canada in 1990? Why didn't you think about the best interest of this great country of ours last week? How can you -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: How can you possibly help unify Canada when, in the minds of so many Canadians both inside Quebec and the rest of Canada, you personify the division between Quebec and the rest of the country. How can you possibly be part of the solution when so many Canadians believe that you are part of the problem?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is very easy, Mr. Speaker. I have the clear conscience of knowing that the position that I have taken throughout has enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Canadian people. I will stack the acceptability of the position that I have taken throughout this entire constitutional debate against the position the hon. member has taken, at any time, even if it had ten times the popularity and support that it does have.

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

MS VERGE: Is it not true that the Premier chickened out from having the free vote in this House of Assembly that he promised back in June 1990 because he was afraid that he would lose? Did he not avoid going to the people of this Province in a referendum, even after the Chief Electoral Officer told him there was time, because he was afraid he would lose? Is not your retirement from politics part of a necessary change everyone is talking about today, Premier? Will you not resign now for the sake of Newfoundland and Labrador and for the good of the whole country?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the tirade you just heard from the Leader of the Opposition bears no relationship to the historical reality, and I will let the historic record decide. I have complete and total confidence in the historic record. Mr. Speaker, let me say this: I have too much respect for the people of this country and for the future of this country, even if the Leader of the Opposition does not, to get this House engaged in that kind of stupid, silly, irresponsible, confrontational discussion at this stage. This Province and its people, this country and its people would never forgive me if I allowed myself to be provoked and participate in that kind of irresponsible discussion at this stage, and I simply won't be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I have to say to the Premier that I find his statements revolting, when for two weeks in this House we would not ask this Premier a question on Canadian unity because we did not want to inflame the situation in Quebec. We made a conscious decision, as a caucus, not to ask this Premier questions -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: Because we were afraid of what he would say.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - because we were afraid of what you might say. And what did you do? ... walk out of this Assembly and do just what we were afraid you would do.

Now, I want to ask the Premier this question, a very serious question: How can you justify your carrying on as Premier of this Province when last week you were not permitted to speak publicly for this Province during the crisis that preceded yesterday's vote, when you could not be trusted to speak in this House of Assembly or answer the reporters' questions without compounding the damage you did to Canadian unity and pushing Canada to the brink? How can you stay on as leader of the government and Premier of this Province in view of what you have already done, damaging the unity of this country, I ask the Premier?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: As to the first part of the member's comments, if they were indeed so concerned about national unity, if they were indeed so concerned about the future of this country, why are they throwing it to the wolves today? Why are they setting aside this –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - (inaudible). It is a complete fraud.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have not and never have been - and there is no authority or force that can prohibit me as Premier from speaking on behalf of the people of the Province in whatever way that I think fit in terms of the interests of the people of this Province. So there is not a problem there. The difference, which the hon. members opposite obviously do not understand, is, Mr. Speaker, I am sensitive to the fact that almost no matter what I say, those who may want to, including members opposite, can twist and contort it and cause it to appear to be something, which is what happened last week. I said nothing last week that I didn't say eight times a year for the last five years. This is no different. It is my responsibility as Premier of this Province to speak whenever it is appropriate and necessary that I do so and that I will, but it is also my responsibility to ensure that I am not placed in a position where making a statement does not help the cause of this Province or hurts the cause of the country. Fortunately, Mr. Speaker, I have the good sense to know when it is appropriate to speak in that manner and when it is not. It is a lesson the Opposition might learn, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I guess it is like closing the barn door after the horse is gone, I say to the Premier that is the point with him. He has come to his senses too late. Now, I would like to ask the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, can we dash a little spice on the old Kentucky Fried man himself?

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier: Will he confirm that last week when provincial Legislatures started passing resolutions expressing support for Canadian unity, and the idea of this House of Assembly passing such a resolution was raised, that the Premier had to yield to pressure from the Prime Minister and our federal minister, Mr. Tobin, to hold his tongue and to be quiet, and let the resolution stand in the name of a government back-bencher out of concern by the federalist forces in the no campaign that if indeed such an important resolution was debated in this House of Assembly that this Premier had the potential to once again put his foot in his mouth and further inflame the situation in Quebec? Can the Premier indeed confirm for this House that indeed that is the case and that is what happened last week, that in essence he was told by the Prime Minister and Mr. Tobin to be quiet, and we were not allowed to debate the resolution in this House because they were so afraid that he would further inflame the situation in Quebec and threaten Canadian unity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there is little the hon. member has said, in the years I have been in this House with him, that has been further from the truth than that absolute balderdash.

MR. WINDSOR: You know the difference. (Inaudible) be honest.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: I resent the hon. member's implication.

MR. WINDSOR: It hurts, doesn't it? The truth hurts.

PREMIER WELLS: He would not recognize the truth if it tripped him up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell you that the Member for Pleasantville came to me in the morning with this proposal for the resolution. It did not originate with me at all. It originated with the Member for Pleasantville. I gave him full credit for it.

We took a look at it. Before I did, I said: Look, I do not want us to do anything here that will cause any harm. I would like to talk to the people who are involved in the national campaign to make sure that we do not do anything inappropriate that will cause them any difficulty, and I did.

The suggestion out of Ottawa was that I should move the resolution, not that I should not but that I should. I disagreed. The Member for Pleasantville proposed it -


MR. WINDSOR: Who do you think believes that besides yourself? If that is not blatant, I do not know what is. You know that is not true.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we are either going to apply the rules of the House or we should go somewhere else and debate, if the hon. member is not prepared to live by the rules.

MR. WINDSOR: You know it is not true.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is not amused by the interjection and the comment and the bantering back and forth that is going on. Question Period has now turned into a period of debate. It is not designed for that. It is a period for the Opposition and members to ask questions to the government, but this has turned into a debate. I ask hon. members to restrain themselves, let the questions be asked, and let the answers be given.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I just heard the Member for Mount Pearl distinctly say to the Premier: You know that that's not true. I suggest that is contrary to the rules of the House. If Your Honour so finds I would ask the hon. gentleman for Mount Pearl be directed to withdraw it.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman has been here a long time, not much longer than I have. He knows full well as I do that a statement that `That is not true' is quite different from saying somebody is a liar, or somebody lied, which is absolutely unparliamentary. I've been here long enough to know what parliamentary language is and that was totally parliamentary.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader to the point of order.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I distinctly heard the hon. gentleman say: You - referring to the Premier - know that is not true. That, Sir, is calling somebody a liar by any other name. If the hon. gentleman for Mount Pearl had the courage of his convictions he would - if he wants to make that charge there is a proper parliamentary way for him to do it. Not sneaking across the House the way he is.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order.

The Chair didn't hear the comments made by the hon. member but I will take the opportunity to review Hansard to see exactly what transpired and will rule on it later.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, that any hon. member should put forward the kind of suggestion that the hon. Member for Grand Bank just did is totally unwarranted. I've told the House precisely what happened. The Member for Pleasantville can, I'm sure, confirm exactly what happened. That is precisely what happened. What I've told the House is exactly what happened.

Now I say to members of the House again, you, members opposite, you may not like me personally, you may be deathly afraid of me politically, you may want to try and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: You may want to try and attack me personally for your own political gratification, but I say to you, in heaven's name put the interests of this Province and this nation first and foremost and be statesmen and stateswomen. This is a time when we should put the interests of the nation first instead of the narrow-minded, bigoted, political interest of individual members or parties.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what we did, we put the interest of the country first, I say to the Premier, which he did not.

Let me ask him this: Isn't he aware that the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, our representative in the federal Cabinet and Mr. John Charest, National Party Leader of the P. C. Party, had to call this caucus to plead with them not to debate this issue here, to give leave for an undebated resolution from this House of Assembly because they were so petrified because you, were a lightening rod in Quebec and they did not want to take a chance that you would further inflame the situation in Quebec?

Now I am telling the Premier, before he gets up and accuses anyone of not telling the truth, I am telling him the truth of what happened, and he better be sure of his facts before he gets too hot under the collar. Can the Premier confirm that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am indeed quite aware of what happened and since the hon. member has raised it, I will tell him very clearly what happened.

The proposal for the resolution was put forward. I knew that this kind of acrimonious debate in the House could only hurt the situation at the time, because of this kind of political acrimony -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - so I suggested to the hon. member who had proposed the resolution, that if the resolution was to be put forward, it ought to go forward without debate because I wouldn't want to exacerbate the situation by reason of acrimonious debate of this nature.

When I spoke with Mr. Tobin, I suggested the same thing to him; he felt very strongly that that was the appropriate course to follow - that came from me. Now, I know that Mr. Charest and I know that Mr. Tobin called the Opposition because they wouldn't consent to it going forward on that basis. I do know, that certain members, that one or two members at least, in the Opposition refused to consent to it going forward on that basis, claiming that their constituents wanted to hear from them on the issue and that was why Mr. Charest called. Mr. Charest called the Opposition at my request because –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - it was at my suggestion that Mr. Tobin spoke with Mr. Charest to call the Opposition. It was at my suggestion that Mr. Tobin spoke with Mr. Charest to get the Opposition to agree to do this because it was in the interest of this Province and the nation that it be done. Now, it is too bad the Opposition or at least certain members of the Opposition were not prepared to do it.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Fortunately for this Country and this Province, Mr. Charest was a statesman. Fortunately, Mr. Charest was a statesman and he acted like one, which is more than can be said for the members of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the facts are not what the Premier said. We would not give consent for the Member for Pleasantville to introduce the resolution; we insisted it be done by the government, Mr. Speaker, both Mr. Tobin and Mr. Charest saw our point and went back to government and it was introduced by the Government House Leader. Those are the facts of the interjection by Charest's (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, seeing today we are talking about honour and trustworthiness in this, I would like to ask the Minister of Tourism, Recreation and Culture a question.

I ask him, does he still stand by the statement that he made in the House on November 16, 1994, when he said on educational reform: This government's plan was not then and is not now and it is not our plan to seek constitutional change. Our plan is to try to get needed reforms for a better education system by consensus. That was their plan then, Mr. Speaker, it was their plan last week, it is their plan this week, it's the plan this afternoon, it's the plan tonight. It will be the plan tomorrow and it will be the plan until the day we die.

Let me ask the minister, does he still stick by that statement? If he does not, can he tell me where to send the flowers?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate, in this particular forum being given an opportunity to address the issue again, because as I indicated in my speech to the Legislature last evening on the Education Reform Bill, the resolution that we will vote on today, it is clear that that kind of representation of part of a twenty-five or thirty minute speech that I gave in response to an act of absolute, total, political grandstanding by the former Leader of the Opposition who introduced a motion caring nothing about education reform but trying to embarrass the government on a Private Members' Day, that that particular person, these members opposite, Mr. Speaker, tried to embarrass the government but it did not work. The Leader of the Opposition walked out of the Legislature, refused to vote on a motion he presented, supposedly to move forward and advance the cause of education reform, and now they stand up, hoping again there would be some political embarrassment or something, because that is the sort of thing they relish.

They do not care about the issues. They care only about the political appearance of it, and I will go to my grave at some point in time, like all of us will, maybe I will be in a senior citizens home in my last few years, or it might be my own home, but I will be sitting in a rocking chair someplace saying to somebody - maybe I will be thinking about dying or I might know I am going to die, but I will say, yes, to the day I die the plan for this government was to achieve consensus.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: It is only because consensus was not possible that then you either have to abandon all the plans, forget about reform, and do nothing. We, Mr. Speaker, react to the circumstances of the day. That was a debate a year ago, a lot has changed, and I firmly believe in dealing with the issues and the circumstances of the time. The plan, because we believed in the best interest of reform and the students of the Province, was to reach consensus. It did not happen, and that does not mean we have changed anything other than to deal with the reality that there was no consensus. We are going to have a vote shortly after Question Period where I will proudly stand and vote in favour of the resolution because it is no change of position on my part.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again I have to caution members, particularly to my right. I have heard comments that are considered unparliamentary - give him a polygraph, the hon. member is lying. I heard that come from down there but I cannot identify the individual. All these terms are unparliamentary and the Chair will not tolerate these kinds of comments.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister can squirm all he likes, but the Premier today was exposed by the Leader of the Opposition and my colleague for Grand Bank, as to how he refused to allow a consensus to be reached to put this country together back in 1990. Today we have shown why this minister, together with the government, would not allow the consensus on education reform.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister, when you make statements like that, betray your constituents, betray the people of the Province, how can you expect to be trusted when you represent the government of this Province anywhere in Newfoundland or Canada? How can you be trusted?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have no hesitation whatsoever defending any position I have taken in this debate, or others. There has been in response to the question one exposure today consistent and that has been my greatest disappointment since I have been in this Legislature since 1989, that members opposite as shown in their line of questioning today are not at all interested in the issues at hand, but are interested only in trying to twist something into some kind of political machination for their own purposes. It has been reflected by the questions today by the Leader of the Opposition and reflected now by the questions by the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West. It is consistent with what they have done since 1989 and I have no hesitation, and no difficulty in defending my position. My position has been consistent. We deal with the issues as they arise and as they develop. That is what we have done in this respect and that is what we will do with the education issue when we bring it to a close today in this Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Before we proceed with the routine business I want to welcome to the galleries on behalf of all members twenty-eight students and representatives from the Council of the Student's Union at Memorial University.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, I want to welcome to the Speaker's gallery a former member of the House of Assembly, the Member for St. John's South, John Nolan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution.

Whereas the unemployment insurance account is funded solely by employer and employee payroll deductions;

And whereas revenue has exceeded expenditures in recent years and the fund is projected to be self-supporting in the future;

And whereas this program is vital to the income security of thousands of our people who are seasonally employed;

Be it resolved that the House of Assembly endorse the government's position that seasonal workers not be treated any differently than others who access the program.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. This is in response to a question from the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West last week. The question, of course, I asked my staff to review it, and staff in turn reviewed it with our federal counterparts. Let me say to the member that it is very unlikely any detailed and meaningful analysis will be completed before the end of November this year.

The member also stated the other day that in 1991-1992, $1.1 billion came to the Province in UI benefits while during the past year it was only $645 million. Let me correct that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I say to the hon. Member for Ferryland I can read Hansard also. I would like to correct these figures. During 1991-1992 there was actually $950 million entering the Province, and in the past year UI combined with TAGS has brought in $966 million to the Province. Which is an increase in the amount of money entering the Province, not a decrease as the member proposed.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to table answers to the questions raised by the hon. Member for Ferryland yesterday in regard to the highway signage and the tourism logo, and to point out the hon. member was wrong on each question. I will table a logo of the four-leaf lucky shamrock.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents who do not want the District of Green Bay to be split in the upcoming electoral boundary changes. Today's petition brings the total number of signatures to nearly 1,500.

During the last election the Liberal Party promised to set up a proper and independent electoral boundaries commission with a mandate to greatly reduce the number of seats in this House of Assembly. After the election such a commission was set up under the chairmanship of Judge Mahoney. However, when it became clear that this commission was going to take its mandate seriously and would be recommending a reduction from fifty-two to forty seats the Liberal government changed the commission's mandate. In the end the Mahoney commission's final report recommended a forty-four seat House of Assembly.

In the proposed forty-four seat Assembly Green Bay would keep its existing communities but would add Badger, Millertown, Buchans Junction and Buchans to become a new seat called Green Bay - Buchans. The Windsor section of the old District of Windsor - Buchans would be added to the Grand Falls seat to form a new seat called Grand Falls - Windsor.

The Liberal Party for its own selfish ends decided it could not live with a forty-four seat Assembly. Before Christmas last year a government official briefed the PC caucus on a possible forty-eight seat Assembly. This meant Green Bay - Buchans dropped the northern part of Green Bay and added a part of the former town of Windsor.

This year the Liberal government, under a very restrictive mandate, appointed Judge Noel to formally draw up boundaries for a forty-eight seat Assembly. Out of this exercise came the District of Windsor - Springdale. The old Green Bay district still lost its northern part but picked up most of the former town of Windsor. The Badger to Buchans area was added to Grand Falls to form a new seat called Grand Falls - Buchans.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has broken its word many times in the last six years. It should not be surprising, therefore, that it broke its word about changing electoral boundaries. It promised to significantly reduce the number of seats in this Assembly. It spent several hundred thousand dollars on an independent commission whose report it basically shelved, all for a measly reduction of four seats.

Mr. Speaker, there has also been some talk of late about making further amendments when the electoral boundaries issue is brought before this House. To get further into horse trading at this stage would only drag all of the members of this House into this utterly sordid mess. As one MHA, I have presented nearly 1,500 names on petitions from residents of Green Bay who don't want their district to be split in two. Their concerns can be met if this hon. House would accept either the interim or final report of the Mahoney Commission. I am also pleased to note, Mr. Speaker, that Mr. John Nolan, who is in the gallery today, was a member of that commission. In either case, whether we accept the interim or final report, we have a district called Green Bay - Buchans where Green Bay has some territory added but Green Bay itself is not split. Similarly, concerns in the town of Grand Falls - Windsor about keeping it as one seat would be allayed by the Mahoney report. The forty-eight seat Noel report was a cynical manipulation of due process by this Liberal Government. I will not support it or get into the mire of tinkering with it. If the government wishes to establish or re-establish some legitimacy, let them bring in the Mahoney report; otherwise, they should scrap this entire sorry mess and let a future government do it right. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to rise today to support my colleague in his petition, as I have done several times before. Also, Mr. Speaker, although we will be coming to full debate on these electoral boundary changes, I think I should stand and support my colleague, because it concerns my district and the overflow from the member in Green Bay.

Mr. Speaker, we have said all along, many members on this side have said that we do support a significant decrease in the number of seats in the Province. I don't think that is a problem. I think the problem we see here, that my colleague keeps referring to, is a process that we went through, Mr. Speaker, as we have gone now from fifty-two seats down to forty-eight, which I don't think is a significant number, to talk about a decrease. If we are going to talk about a decrease it would - as he referred to, down to forty-four seats, Mr. Speaker, but the whole process from the beginning has been tainted. It has included political rhetoric that has gone back and forth across this floor. We will get into a full debate in the weeks coming, as a matter of fact, in a few days from now but, Mr. Speaker, the point has to be made that the process of the decrease in the number of seats is what bothers us most.

Mr. Speaker, we should also remember that we have to consider rural and urban Newfoundland when we do the realignment of seats. I have no problem with picking up an extra thirteen communities as it will be now in this latest proposal, so that I will then have thirty-three communities in my district alone, thirty-three communities, thirty-three different councils to deal with, about ten different fire departments, different organizations, different groups. Mr. Speaker, that has to be considered when seats are realigned in this Province if we are going to do it properly.

Mr. Speaker, I think it can be done. And we also have to remember the geography of the different seats, as opposed to a rural seat and an urban seat, whereas I would take eight to nine hours to drive around my district just to stop in and visit each community, to do it justice and to be in contact with my constituents, an urban seat, as my colleague, the Member for Kilbride said, it can take one hour to drive around his district. I think those are factors that have to be considered when we are talking about realignment of the districts. Mr. Speaker, I have no problem accepting the thirteen communities from the District of Green Bay but I can certainly see why my colleague - his constituents have a problem where they will be joined onto the Baie Verte district. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to join certain parts of the Province when it comes to the geography, the routes and the highway system in this Province, for example, what would happen with the Grand Falls - Windsor town being divided.

So, Mr. Speaker, those factors, not the one-on-one vote as was suggested by the Premier, is the only factor to look at. The 10 per cent variance now does not take into account or help out the situation when it comes to population. So it has to be more than population, it has to be geography; it has to be demography, yes but also other factors.

So, Mr. Speaker, I support my colleague and the concerns that he brings forward by his constituents, and I support a decrease in the number of seats in this Legislature. I have no problem with that as long as the process is straightforward and is not tainted by political interference.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I will not delay the House on this except to say two things: number one, as I will demonstrate, the process has been straightforward and appropriate; and, number two, the matter will be debated at such length as the House should deem necessary in this session, beginning very soon indeed, so we will have an opportunity then to reply to the canards being thrown about this House by those who, if they don't know better, will, when the debate is over, I trust.

Thank you, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we call Orders of the Day, there is an agreement that we take a vote on the resolution, Motion 4 on the Order Paper, which concluded yesterday. It is my understanding that we want a recorded vote. Is the Chair correct in that, that we are taking a recorded vote?

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, that is correct. The motion was adopted by the House yesterday. There is one of our members who is on his way in, in a moment. The Whip has just whipped. Your Honour, would you perhaps... Hold on now, here he is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: I believe, every member of the House, without exception, is in his or her seat, and accordingly, if my friends opposite are ready, I suggest we proceed, and perhaps we could proceed simply to a standing vote, because I think this is a matter members would want to record.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question, and is it agreed that we have a standing vote?


MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the resolution, please stand.

If we could have the Sergeant-at-Arms, could we have the bar across the House?

The House is now ready for the question.

CLERK (Mr. J. Noel): The hon. the Premier, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, the hon. the Minister of Education and Training, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the hon. the Minister of Environment, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Mr. Lush, Mr. Barrett, Mr. Dumaresque, the hon. the Minister of Natural Resources, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the hon. the Minister of Social Services, the hon. the Minister of Health, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, Ms Cowan, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Crane, Mr. Langdon, Mr. Oldford, Mr. Noel, Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Tulk, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Vey, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Hodder, Mr. Harris.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the motion, please rise.

CLERK: Mr. W. Matthews, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Tobin, Mr. A. Snow, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Windsor, Mr. Hewlett, Mr. Jack Byrne, Mr. Manning, Mr. Shelley, Mr. E. Byrne, Mr. Fitzgerald, Mr. Careen, Mr. Mackey, Mr. Penney, Dr. Kitchen, Mr. Smith, Mr. Whelan, Mr. Flight, Mr. Carter.

CLERK: Mr. Speaker, thirty-one `ayes' and twenty `nays'.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the resolution carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we will be asking the House to deal with, in the first instance, Order No. 11 which is Bill No. 16. I believe my friend, the Member for Humber Valley, adjourned the debate last time, if memory serves me well. Assuming we dispose of that bill, we will go on to deal with Order No. 16 which are amendments to the jury act. If we should be so fortunate as to get through that bill, we will then deal with Order No. 17, which is Bill No. 30. If we get beyond that, well, we will see. We do not propose to ask the House to sit beyond 5:00 this evening, notwithstanding the remonstrations of my friend, the Member for Grand Bank.

Mr. Speaker, would you be good enough to resume the debate on An Act To Amend The Evidence Act, Bill No. 16, Order No. 11.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 16.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: I believe it was I who adjourned the debate on the -

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry; I had trouble (inaudible) my hon. friend.

MR. HARRIS: I spoke following the Member for Humber Valley who quite, in his usual thorough manner, unlike many members of the House, actually read the legislation before he got up to speak on it - a new approach for some members of this House. In his usual thorough manner the Member for Humber Valley had indeed thoroughly reviewed the legislation and raised some quite pertinent questions dealing with the application of the legislation.

The principle, of course, of the legislation is to allow people who would not otherwise be permitted to testify in a civil proceeding without corroboration to be able to testify and to have a finding of fact in a civil proceeding be determined on the basis of an evidence of a child, whether given on oath or not. In fact, this makes provision to allow evidence to be taken from a child regardless of whether the child knows what an oath is.

This is consistent with the changes in the Canada Evidence Act which allows the evidence of a child to be used in determining a criminal finding of guilt where the finding must be beyond a reasonable doubt. There is no impediment, in my view, to permitting the evidence of a child without corroboration to be used; of course, when believed, it would have to be accepted by the trier of fact, whether it be a judge or jury, to be used without corroboration, if believed, to support a civil lawsuit where the consequences are almost always only damages. Of course, there may be an injunction; there may be just damages or monetary damages as opposed to potentially, loss of freedom, or a monetary fine in the case of a criminal proceeding.

The Member for Humber Valley did raise a point which is an important one and that is, that the term `child' is not defined in the Evidence Act. Generally speaking, a child, contrary to a lot of people's ideas of what a child is, a child is actually, by general law, a person who is under the age of majority, so an eighteen-year-old would be a child in the law's eyes even though an eighteen-year-old can vote, have a driver's license, vote federally and provincially and be permitted to carry out many activities. Certainly, he is treated as an adult for the purposes of criminal law and many other respects but under our general law, a child is someone who is under the age of nineteen, the age of majority.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think that the intention here is not really dealing with a child in that sense, the intention appears to deal with the child, in particular a child which is known as a child of tender years, a child perhaps under the age of six or seven or eight, who does not necessarily have the maturity to understand what an oath might be but, which a ten-year-old or twelve-year-old or a fifteen-year-old or an eighteen-year-old would certainly be expected to understand, so it is really dealing with the evidence of a young child as opposed to a legal child, and I don't know if the Minister of Justice is prepared to look a little more closely at this.

Clearly, an eighteen-year-old or a sixteen-year-old would be considered capable of giving evidence without the provision of this particular section of the Evidence Act, and there is sufficient protection there on two grounds. Number one, the court must establish first of all that the child must promise to tell the truth, and the court must be of the opinion that the child understands what it means to tell the truth and is able to communicate that evidence. There is provision also for the court to conduct an inquiry to determine whether, in its opinion, the child understands what it means to tell the truth and is able to communicate that evidence.

Not particularly contemplated what kind of inquiry might be conducted, but I would assume it would take the form of a voir dire as it is known in law, which is just a preliminary trial within a trial of that particular issue, and then the court will establish itself perhaps by asking questions of the child, and allowing the child to be cross-examined on that point, to establish whether or not the child knows the meaning of telling the truth and is able to communicate the evidence and is prepared to make such a promise to the court.

The key of course, is that a child can give evidence in these circumstances without having to give an oath, without having to take an oath and secondly, that the evidence given by a child need not be corroborated. Now that's a legal rule which members may or may not be familiar with but what it really means is that, if the only evidence of a particular fact or circumstance, is the evidence of an eyewitness or the evidence of a child witness, then that evidence, if believed, if accepted, would be sufficient to make the finding a fact.

There may be lots of circumstances where there may be only one witness to an event. Lots of times things happen that only one person witnesses, whether it is a child or an adult. If an adult were to give evidence of what he or she saw, and the court were to accept it, then that would be considered adequate without corroboration. This merely says that if, in fact, a child is giving evidence, that also would be sufficient for a finding of fact if the evidence is believed. There could be all sorts of circumstances.

The minister, in his opening remarks, referred to certain events that may occur when only a child is present, with a perpetrator of certain acts. That could be a sexual assault or a sexual abuse case, and clearly if a child in these circumstances can give evidence in a criminal court and have it accepted, surely the child should be able to give evidence in a civil court as well if an action is taken against a perpetrator or against someone whose negligence had a role to play in causing the damages to the child.

There may be less sinister circumstances or less tragic circumstances where a child is the only witness to a particular event. It could be that a child is the only person who can identify the driver of a vehicle if there has been an accident, or some such thing like that, where the child was present, the child saw this particular man get out of the car after the car crashed, and if in the absence of that evidence it may be impossible to establish who the driver of a vehicle was, so it does not have to be a circumstance where the child is a victim. The child may just be a witness to certain events, and need to be able to give that evidence in order to support a particular side of a case. It may be to the defence. It may be that the person defending a civil suit, the only evidence which would exculpate that defendant from a big damage award against him or her would be the fact that a child witnessed certain things happening, and if that defendant was unable to call the evidence of this child, that defendant could be required to pay damages because the legal rules prevent justice from being done in particular circumstances.

There are always critics of the legal system, or cynics about the legal system, who continuously cry out about the fact that technical rules often prevent justice from being done. I guess the rule with respect to the evidence of a child is one of those rules that in certain cases may have prevented justice from being done because the evidence was unable to be called or supported by other corroboration, and therefore justice was not done in a particular case.

There is no guarantee, of course, that the evidence of a child would be accepted by a court. There is nothing in this legislation which says that a judge or a court must accept the evidence of the child, but it allows the evidence to be heard, and if believed, and if the weight of evidence is sufficient to make a finding of fact in favour of the evidence of a child, then a finding can be made, so it not a piece of legislation that requires the evidence to be believed or be determinative of the issue. It merely allows the evidence to be put before the trier of fact, whether that is a judge or whether it is a jury in a civil case, which we do now, of course permit - civil juries.

I do not know whether there are intending to be any other speakers on this particular bill. I would commend it to hon. members as an improvement in the law of evidence and an improvement in the judicial system by removing one of those technical rules which may, from time to time, prevent justice from being done, and in fact, in some cases, where a child may be a victim of a particular tort of negligence, assault, or abuse, prevent a case from being launched for damages. So, I think it is a significant amendment; although it may not be one of those things that are in the forefront of people's minds, it is an improvement in the law.

As I said, I don't think there are going to be many other speakers. So, I ask the minister, if he is rising, to address this, to deal with the issue of the definition of a child. Obviously, an eighteen-year-old would be expected to give an oath, or take an oath, or a declaration, and this wouldn't apply to him, although, I suspect, the intention here is to deal with children of tender years as opposed to those who are considered legally children, who could be seventeen or eighteen years old and legally adults under the Criminal law but legally children under our Interpretation Act or under our general law, the Age of Majority Act.

If the minister would deal with those questions, I would be very interested, but otherwise, I want to offer my support for the legislation and for the changes to the Evidence Act.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and support the intent of the legislation in Bill No 16. This is a very useful piece of legislation, however, I do have a couple of comments I would like to make relative to the process that many of our children face when they are required to give evidence in court. I ask the minister, in particular, if he would try to make our courts a little more child-friendly. Many of the representations I have listened to in the past have told me that our court systems are not particularly geared to facilitating the evidence of children.

While there are some very good initiatives in some parts of the Province, and in particular, I refer to the initiatives of Judge Fowler in the Grand Falls court system, likewise we have heard some statements made that would indicate that many of the parents, many of the social workers, and many of the court workers who are involved in the hearing and the facilitating of the evidence of children, tell us that the courts are not always very friendly places for children.

I ask the minister if he would try to address that issue because there is no point in our saying that the evidence of a child is valid if indeed we do not make it a facilitating approach. The children in court often feel very confused. They feel very alone, and the police station is often not a very good place for the child to be interviewed. We hear from social workers who say that they are so taken up with their particular social issues that they do not have time to prepare a child for the giving of evidence. We know that courts, for anybody, regardless of what age they are, can be, and often are, very traumatic experiences, so we know that for a child the intensity and the trauma would be that much more significant. Also, some of the social workers I have talked to tell us that children do not always have adequate time to spend with a lawyer before entering the court to give testimony, and that is very unfortunate. Because sometimes, if a child is not given the opportunity to work with a child-focused legal representative, then the whole process might be somewhat jeopardized.

We ask the minister, if he could make sure, when we talk about the evidence of children, that lawyers have adequate time to spend with the child and that there are lawyers made available. Right now, we have a situation in many parts of our Province, where lawyers are made available for the adults through legal aid but often, getting children ready is a function of the social worker or the school guidance counsellor, and these people say to us that they are not trained in the technicalities of the law. It is not their job to get children ready for presentations in courts and that it is not appropriate to have a social worker spending days and hours with a child, getting a child ready for a legal process that even the social worker might find very intimidating and very trying.

In child abuse cases, Mr. Speaker, the lawyer for the defendant, who is most often a male, most often a member of the child's extended family, although not always - lawyers are very aggressive in their defence and they often take advantage, so I am told, by people who have been into the courts in these circumstances, they take advantage of the child's unfamiliarity with the courts. Too often, the emphasis in court is on winning and that means further victimizing the child. It appears that the system permits it and facilitates that happening.

So, Mr. Speaker, while we support the bill that is before us in allowing the evidence of a child to be admitted to the court, we are also saying, let's try to make sure that the court system does not further victimize the child. In other words, if we are going to have the same rules set up for a child as we have for a twenty-eight-year-old, then treating a four-year-old or a five-year-old in the same system of juris prudence as you would treat a forty-year-old or an adult then that seem to me not to be a very facilitating way to go about doing things.

Mr. Speaker, we know that in spite of some of the revisions that have been contained in, I think it is Bill C-15, the federal jurisdiction, and as modified in Bill C-26, in spite of these changes that the court system is still a very rough place for children. Children are treated, as I said before, as little adults and are subjected to the same rules of cross-examination. As I said, it is erratic and sad to see that our laws and our courts that are designed to protect children also expect a child to testify in the same basic procedures as that given to the adults.

Mr. Speaker, also, I wanted to note that in some of the dialogue I have had with people who have been in these circumstances, particularly with school guidance counsellors and social workers, they tell us there is a wide variation between various courts. They tell us about courts that are very sensitive to children. They also tell us that there are some court systems, whereas one social worker said - and I won't name the court, but she said: I wouldn't want my child ever to have to give evidence in that court. If the social worker is saying that, then obviously, there is greater need for training, for training of judges. The judges have to become more familiar with childhood issues, with the nature of the child and be as familiar with the nature of the child as they are with the nature and the purpose of the law.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to just say again that we should be facilitating a court environment that accommodates children and their stage of maturity, and if that means a child giving evidence in an alternate setting rather than in the open courtroom, then perhaps that should be arranged.

Maybe, Mr. Speaker, we should also address the issue of accommodating children with disabilities. Some children may not be able to communicate as well as others. Some children suffer from speech impediments. They may suffer from learning disabilities that do not seem obvious to the lawyers or to the judges. We want to facilitate, then, those who have speech or hearing impairments, and children who may even be autistic, but these children may be able to tell what is right and what is wrong, what happened and what did not happen. Sometimes we have to be familiar with the nature of learning and the nature of communicating if we are going to have real equality for children in the hearing of evidence.

Also, we should take note of Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada. I want to reference that because it was stated on the news just a few days ago by one of the police sergeants in St. John's and it was a commentary in the local media. Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada says, and I quote: Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent, is justified in using force by way of correction towards a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

This particular section of the Criminal Code of Canada compromises the evidence given by a child. It has been used in many cases dealing with physical assault against children. A parent or a teacher or a baby-sitter or a day care worker can use physical force to discipline a child or student as long as the degree of punishment fits the crime. If we are going to talk about children and evidence, then we have to define what we mean by what is permitted and what is not permitted. Until we come to make revisions to the Schools Act, corporal punishment is still on the books of the Newfoundland legislation as far as schools are concerned.

When, a few days ago, I discussed this issue with Inspector Craig Kenny of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, he told me that very often this kind of legislation that still stands in the Criminal Code of Canada compromises the evidence given by a child. As long as it stands there, then we have to recognize as legislators that many people who go to court can use that kind of legal loophole in order to have a child's evidence disregarded in a court, or in a way, in many cases, as Inspector Kenny said, a great deal of physical abuse cases that are reported to the police just get filed. In other words, they don't get acted upon because it is deemed to be within the constraints or within the parameters of section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

With these words and with again a commentary asking to facilitate a court environment for children that accommodates them, asking for training for social workers, lawyers, police, Crown attorneys and judges, and asking as well, that laws that permit children to be physically mistreated either by parents, as in the Criminal Code of Canada, or in the Schools Act, that we should have these things eliminated. Then, children will have an opportunity to be fairly treated and fairly heard in a court of law. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now, he will close the debate. The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I gather from the lack of people rising to speak that the House wishes me to close debate, and I shall do so. Let me thank members for their contributions which were substantial and, in my view, to the point. I will make a comment or two with respect, if I may, to the comments made by the members who have spoken.

First of all, my friend, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, he is certainly not from the Waterford; no, he is from Waterford - Kenmount.

- made, I thought, a very good point when he spoke about the - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Waterford.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman's colleagues may wish him there, but we, on this side, do not.

Mr. Speaker, the point made by my friend, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, I thought, had a great deal of merit and substance when he spoke of making courts child-friendly. Now, I don't know whether any hon. members here have ever had the experience of giving evidence in a court. I have, in three instances. The funniest one was a number of years ago when I was in Mr. Smallwood's Cabinet. We adopted a resolution of an Order in Council that added Bay Rum as an alcoholic liquor under the Alcoholic Liquors Act, and the reason we added Bay Rum as an alcoholic liquor under the Alcoholic Liquors Act was that not only was it being used as a drink instead of aftershave, which is what it is intended to be, but the manufacturers of Bay Rum, or the distributors of Bay Rum up in Ottawa or Toronto, or wherever they came from, had been on to the liquor board here in St. John's - this was 1968 or 1969 - and had said: We don't know what is going on in Newfoundland. You must be the cleanest shaven people in the entire world, because two-thirds of the Bay Rum being consumed in all of Canada is being consumed in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Well, a little explanation quickly revealed that a gentleman who may or may not still be in this world, called Jakie - my friend, the Member for St. John's East may well know Jakie professionally, either his profession or Jakie's, I know not. But a gentleman named Jakie was offering an unusual form of service. If the gin ran out, Jakie was offering Bay Rum and, for all I know, the stuff did its purpose. It was also dangerous. Anyway, we adopted an Order in Council, and in due course the Gazette came out and announced that henceforth and from this day, Bay Rum was an alcoholic liquor in the eyes of the law in this Province, and it could only be sold at liquor stores. If you wanted Bay Rum, you had to go in and in one section next to the cognac and the rum or the whisky, there was the Bay Rum.

Well, in due course, I was served one day with a subpoena to appear in what we then called the Magistrate's Court, the Provincial Court, and when I rang the then Minister of Justice, Alex Hickman, now Chief Justice Hickman, he said that didn't surprise him; he, too, had received a subpoena. Another of our colleagues had, and in due course the three of us appeared before, I don't know, John Pius Mulcahy or Hughie O'Neill, one of the magistrates, and there at the Bar was the author of this subpoena, Jakie himself, and Jakie was had up on a charge of distributing or selling Bay Rum contrary to its being a prohibited... et al. The police had found him with a truckload of this stuff and he had no explanation, so he said, `Well, that's a charge on in court.

So Jakie's defence, in part, was hinged on the evidence he wanted from the three of us. In any event, each of us, in turn, went into the box, said that yes, we were a member of the Cabinet; yes, the Cabinet had adopted a... We were being questioned, I think, by Jakie, probably Inspector King was prosecuting, it was a long time ago. Jakie examined me; yes, I was a member of the Cabinet; yes, the Cabinet had adopted this Order in Council; and no, I was not prepared to say why we had. That was contrary to my oath of Cabinet secrecy, and the Magistrate said that was all very right with him, and would Jakie get on with his defence. I guess he was convicted and fined twenty bucks.

What I am trying to say is that giving evidence is a formidable undertaking for anybody. In that case, it was ultimately straightforward, but I have been in a witness in other matters as well, and I am a member of the Bar who has spent a lot of time in court, not as a party or as a witness but in my role as counsel. It is a formidable undertaking and it must be particularly so for a child.

We have here in this Province a very good victim service group who work within my department. We have been able to expand it; it was begun in the time of my friend, the Member for Humber West when he was minister. We have been able to expand it in the last three or four years very substantially, I hope we can maintain it, it is certainly a priority. And what the eight or ten or twelve or fourteen men and women who work in the victim services group do is help people through the trial process and children is one of the groups with whom we work.

We have also had - I will name only one of the Crowns, but a number of Crowns have gone out of their way - Crowns, of course, are doing the prosecutions in criminal matters and they have to deal with these things and in many cases, they are the ones presenting the witness to the court. A lady who is still a member of the Bar but no longer living or practising here, at least for the moment, Cathy Knox, was particularly good in working with children and there are techniques that can be used legitimately to take the child down to the court to explain, here is where the judge is going to be and here is where you will be - and you know, it goes through the routine so it is not quite as frightening when the child comes in to court. And then, too, the Criminal Code, as my friend, I suspect, knows, has been amended to allow a greater degree of protection for child witnesses. So we are doing what we can, but at the end of the day, there is still the fundamental principle that one has the right to confront one's accusers to know the evidence against one and that must be done in an open court subject to the safeguards that are in the Criminal Code and that have been accepted by the Supreme Court of Canada. But I thought my friend's remarks are well taken. We believe this legislation will help to make the courts, to use my friend's phrase, child-friendly.

My learned friend, the Member for St. John's East, raised an issue which was also raised by my friend, the Member for Humber Valley, and let me deal with it because I think it is very central. My friend, the Member for St. John's East asked: What is the definition of a child? Now, my learned friend, the Member for St. John's East is familiar with the process in a court but hon. members may not be with respect to presenting a child witness. In the first place, it falls at common law to the trier of fact, the judge, or a jury to decide whether the evidence is accepted and the weight to be given to it, but it falls to the judge, if the judge is sitting alone or whether it is a judge and jury trial - it falls to the judge to supervise the presentation of evidence and the judge must decide, in that role, whether a young person, understands what is going on. And I have called child witnesses of twelve and thirteen and the judge questioned the young man or the young woman and agreed the child was capable of saying what the truth was, and was prepared, and understood the oath, or the obligation if it wasn't in the form of an oath or an affirmation. And that, essentially, is the common law in a nutshell and that's reproduced in 18 (1). And that, I think, has been the practice for many years in courts here. So, the judge has to satisfy himself or herself that the child knows, and makes a promise.

Now, whether the promise is under oath or not is irrelevant in the sense of figuring out whether the child is prepared to make the promise to tell the truth and secondly, the court, by which we mean in this case, the judge, is of the opinion that the child understands what it means to tell the truth and is able to communicate the evidence. Now, there is no definition of `child' here or in this act. There is no definition. In common law - and I will come back to the - statute law says it; in common law, a child is anyone who has not attained the age of majority, which traditionally and at common law was twenty-one.

The way it is applied in the courts is, a judge will interview the child in court, in the presence of parties and counsel and will decide; when I say interview, I mean that the child is standing in the witness box and the judge, sitting in his or her place on the Bench, will ask the child: Do you know what the truth is? Do you know what it means to tell the truth? And then, if satisfied, the judge will allow the witness to be admitted, allow the evidence to be admitted from the witness with or without an oath or affirmation as the judge decides is appropriate. That continues.

The change here is to allow a different form of inquiry to be conducted in addition to the common law one and that's really the significance of these amendments. You come to 18 (2) and that is essentially a restatement of the common law, and then you come to 18 (3).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 18 (3).

MR. ROBERTS: How do you mean - 18 (3) is as clear as the words. If a child does not promise to tell the truth or the court is of the opinion that the child does not understand what it means to tell the truth - a two-year-old or a three-year-old may not understand what it is to tell the truth but the judge may still form the view that that child will be able to give evidence that is sufficiently reliable. Now, remember, the trier of fact, be it the judge or be it the jury, depending on the form of trial, makes the determination as to whether - on the facts itself but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the truth and the weight. But a three-year-old child could be perfectly capable of saying, `Well, here is what this man did to me,' even though that child may not know the concept of truth as we know it. Somebody has to decide that and it falls to the judge. This section authorizes the judge to make that inquiry, and at common law that was not permitted. If a judge at common law concluded that a child did not understand the concept of the truth or was not prepared to promise it, then that evidence could not be admitted. So we are changing the common law. We are changing it only obviously for civil matters, the Criminal Code is not subject to our evidence act. There is a Canada Evidence Act but, as I said in introducing the bill, similar changes were found in the Criminal Code, were put under the Criminal Code two or three years ago, and I referred to those earlier.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that left one other point. Before getting to that, let me pay a deserved compliment to my friend, the Member for Humber Valley. I made a note when he spoke, it was on October 16, two weeks past, that I thought he put the point very well when he said, `if a child can give criminal evidence, under the Criminal Code, then he or she ought to be able to give civil evidence under this bill.' And this bill is not a new principle; we are simply adopting and incorporating into law of this Province a uniform act that has been mirrored in the Criminal Code. It may not be word for word, I haven't checked, so I am not going to say.

That left one other point, Mr. Speaker, that members have raised and both my friend, the Member for Humber Valley and my learned friend, the Member for St. John's East raises, what is a child in the law of Newfoundland? Let me give them the answer. There are two statutory enactments in this Province that speaks to who is a child. The Interpretation Act, which is a statute of general application that gives definition to a whole number of words and phrases, provides that the age of majority, those words mean nineteen but, in addition to that - and my friend, the Member for Humber Valley may want to follow this because I assure him it took me awhile to figure this out and I had help from the Legislative Council because I would never have found - we still have in this Province an Age of Majority Act, but I will defy any hon. member to find it.

Let me tell hon. member's, Mr. Speaker, where the Age of Majority Act is. If one takes the revised Statutes of Newfoundland, 1990 which came into effect in 1992 or something, when I signed them as the minister and one goes to Volume 10, after you get through such gems as the Vital Statistics Act and the Veterinary Medical Act and the ones near the end of the alphabet, you come to the schedules. Schedule A is acts omitted from and repealed by RSN, 1990 and that is all very straightforward. Then, we come to Schedule B - Schedule B is acts consolidated in RSN, 1990 and that is all very straightforward. Then, one comes to Schedule C, acts not consolidated in or repealed by RSN, 1990. And Schedule C has a whole bunch of statutes that are still law, although they do not appear in the consolidations - for example, an act for the maintenance and operation to the lines of railway from Whitbourne to Port aux Basques and the branches thereof, adopted in 1893; in fact, we did repeal that a year or two ago - but in Schedule C are still law. I will say to my friend, the Member for Humber Valley, the Age of Majority Act is in Schedule C.


MR. ROBERTS: I will come back to why. It is in Schedule C along with such gems as the Railway Settlement Act of 1923, the British Admiralty Property Act of 1947 and other matters that are household words in homes throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. They are having a meeting a tonight at Mud Lake in my constituency to talk about the American Bases Supplementary Leases Act of 1948 which is a very live subject.

Now, Mr. Speaker, more than that, the way the other schedules and Schedule C are set together, it is all but impossible to define it because not only does one have to go to Schedule C but the acts there are listed by year of enactment, so you have to go to 1971 to find the particular statute that bears upon this. Not only that but you have to know enough to find Schedule C, you have to know enough to find 1971, and then you have to know that it is called The Minors Attainment Of Majority Act, 1971. Now, if the purpose of our statutes is to make the law accessible and available this is surely a classic example of how not to do it.

I think I have some familiarity with the statutes after thirty years at the bar, a number of them working one way or another with statutes, and I could not find it. I asked the Legislative Council and after half an hour they were able to explain to me what I just explained to the House. It took them awhile to get through to me because I was all but incredulous. Anyway, I say to my hon. friend, that is what the law says. The law says it is nineteen and there will be a section in the Attorney General's Act, that is the bill we bring in every year to clean up all the errors that have been found over the previous twelve months in statutes.

I have given instructions, as Browning had the Duke say in My Last Duchess, I have given instructions. There will be a section in that act that deals with the age of majority and we will put it back in where it is successful in the statutes. Nobody would ever find it, I would suggest, where it now is. I do not want to try and second guess the consolidation process. The men and women who did it did a brilliant act, but they just got this one wrong in my opinion, and we will pick it up.

AN HON. MEMBER: When will be the next consolidation?

MR. ROBERTS: The next consolidation will not be for ten or fifteen years, but it will be picked up in the next one, I assume.

MR. TOBIN: That's so boring, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman may think it is boring but he is living proof of the need for an Age of Majority Act. I must say that is not bad, is it, for once? I told my friend for Burin - Placentia West -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you sure those are friends you are talking about all the time?

MR. ROBERTS: Well, compared to the crowd over here they are. I told my friend for Burin - Placentia West last night that nobody would believe that I was not paying him handsomely to set up these straight lines, and the answer is I am paying him what he is worth. I know it is not very much but there is a minimum wage law and I must respect that.

Mr. Speaker, with those few brief remarks and that trip through the byways and highways of Schedule C I believe I have answered the points raised by my friends opposite, and I move that the bill be read a second time.

On Motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Evidence Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 16)

MR. ROBERTS: Tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, not withstanding the demands. Would you be good enough to call Order 16 which is Bill No. 33, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act."

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act." (Bill No. 33)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All I have to do is find the speaking notes, and here they are.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The jury is out.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman for Grand Bank may think the jury is out and I will say on him it is, just as the tide has gone out on him as well.

MR. SULLIVAN: I think the age of majority (inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: The age of majority in this Province is nineteen in the present statute, and I say to my friend for Ferryland that we will be dealing with it in the Attorney General's Bill and it will be eighteen.

MR. SULLIVAN: You cannot even go on a jury now.

MR. ROBERTS: You cannot go on a jury now but you will be able to if this - one can vote at eighteen. The age of majority is nineteen. There are any number of anomalies, I say to my friend for Ferryland in the law. We will be dealing, in this session, with a new limitations act and it will be referred to a committee, I would hope, and the committee may want to hear representations on it. We will be dealing with the age of majority in another context there because the common law, which is still good law in this Province, the common law says that a child, i.e. someone under the age of majority, may not make a contract that is enforceable against that child, so if an eighteen year old goes to buy a motor vehicle and signs a contract, the young person may enforce that contract as against the person selling the car, or the truck, whatever it is, but the person selling may not enforce it the other way around.

MR. SULLIVAN: (inaudible) sell cigarettes.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, because we have no law that says -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, that is true. We have no law that says how old one must be to work in a confectionery store that sells cigarettes. We do have one that says how old you must be to serve in a liquor - yes, but my friend for Ferryland is correct. Unless we are prepared to bring in a law that says now either: Thou shalt not sell cigarettes in a groc. and conf., a confectionery store, or we are going to say nobody under the age of... is it nineteen to smoke?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, but I mean, unless we are prepared to bring in a law that nobody under that age, the age for smoking, whatever it is, may work in a store, then we do have the anomalous situation that one may sell something that one is not legally old enough to buy. In any event, when we come to the limitations act there will be a provision in that that deals with this question of children contracting. My own view is that we should lower it somewhat, because what was good law 200 years ago, 100 years ago, when the common law principles were developed is not good law today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry? Yes, of course. I was twenty-one before I cast a vote because that was the age in those days. Now it is eighteen, Mr. Speaker, and I don't think anybody would quarrel with setting eighteen at the very minimum as an age when a young man or a young woman is an adult for all purposes.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I would rather sit on the hon. gentleman's competency hearing.

MR. WOODFORD: (Inaudible.)

MR. ROBERTS: Oh yes, I agree with my friend for Humber Valley that the world comes on us now far earlier than it did years ago.

Let me come back to the jury act amendments, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: You could send them off to war at eighteen for years.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh yes. Let me come back to the jury act amendment, Mr. Speaker, if I might. These amendments are quite straightforward and they are described in the explanatory notes. I will not go through them at any great length but let me just refer to them briefly.

The major principle that this bill would make into law assuming it is accepted by the House is the one that I've just been chatting with members across the House on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I thank my colleagues for their earnest attention. I will do the same to them when they are up trying to introduce a piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are praising you.

MR. ROBERTS: If they are praising me I wish they would do it out loud, please. Not loudly, but out loud.

Mr. Speaker, the major change that we are asking the House to enact is to lower the age at which a person may be summoned for jury duty. Of course, this act applies to any jury, civil or criminal. We very rarely have civil juries in this Province but criminal juries of course sit, well, certainly daily, and many a day on most days.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as I've always said, I would rather sit on my hon. - the gentleman for Burin - Placentia West has his competency hearing, which will be any day now. I would be happy to attend on that.

Your Honour, the proposal is to change the age for jury duty from nineteen to eighteen. The reason for that is really very straightforward. In the eyes of society today a young woman or a young man who is eighteen is a citizen. One of the prime responsibilities of being a citizen in my view is the right and the responsibility - I'm one of those who believe that rights bring with them responsibilities - to serve on juries. It is a fundamental principle of our system that one is condemned by a jury of one's peers. That applies only in respect of serious offences. I believe it is five years or more under the Charter. I don't have it in front of me. But if one looks at section 11 of the Charter, I think that is the requirement, five years or more.

The principle is that before one can be condemned one is subject to judgement by a jury of one's peers. That principle can be traced back in English law at least to 1215. That is one of the provisions of Magna Carta, that we shall be judged by our peers. In fact in England I suppose it is still technically possible for a peer of the realm to be judged by the full House of Lords sitting as a jury, and if that is not law it was removed only recently, and that reflects the fact that the peers of peers are peers. Commoners were judged by juries of commoners.

In any event, that is what we seek to do, and that is in clause 1, which simply changes the word `majority' to the word `eighteen', and that is how we get around this confusing situation I described earlier with respect to what is the age of majority.

The next series of amendments are really procedural. They are not substantive. Each has an importance in its own right and will make the jury process go a little more smoothly and effectively, I am advised by the sheriff and by the officials charged with running the process.

Clause 2 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, I say to my hon. friend from St. John's East, it is important. It broadens somewhat the scope of people who are eligible to be called for jury duty. The law now says that - I will just look it up to make sure I do not misquote it here - the law now says that a person who has been convicted within five years of the taking of the jury list of an offence for which the punishment could be a fine of $1,000 or more, or imprisonment for more than one year, or is ineligible for jury duty.

We are changing that now to provide that the people who cannot be called for jury duty are, first, a person charged with an indictable offence. Now that is a charge not disposed of, but a person charged with an indictable, i.e., the more serious offences. A person charged with an indictable offence is not eligible for jury duty until that charge is disposed of.

Secondly, we declare ineligible a person who has, within five years of the taking of the jury list, unless through (inaudible) pardon - remember the Law of Canada does provide for a pardon in criminal matters - that person has served a period of imprisonment or other detention for indictable offence without the option of a fine.

Now those words are an attempt by the drafters, and I think a good attempt, to capture serious offences. So if one is charged with an indictable offence but has not stood trial or had the matter disposed of -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: It says that, a person charged with an indictable offence.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if my hon. friend is saying that any person charged with an indictable offence, even though it has been disposed of, let's say found not guilty for an example, cannot be called for jury duty, then I think he is wrong but I will ask the Legislative Council. I do not pretend to be a drafter. I will ask the Legislative -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Charge? No, charge is quite straightforward, I say to my friend from Ferryland. I will ask the Legislative Council to have a look at that. If, in fact, it is open to that interpretation then we will move an amendment at committee stage. In fact, I will go so far as to say I will ask my hon. friend to move the amendment provided he does it in words done by our drafters.

Certainly, the principle we are trying to do is where a person has been charged, and an undisposed of charge, and I do not know if the words are capable of the interpretation my hon. friend has put forward.

The second part is an attempt to capture serious offences, people convicted of serious offences.

That, then, brings us into the exemption clauses. These have been done essentially at the request of the sheriff and the officials who have to make this system work. The present system is cumbersome. This one, we believe, is a step forward. Again the words, I think, are very clear and very straightforward. They specify who can be exempted. They specify the process -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) provincial court judges?

MR. ROBERTS: Why are we taking it away from provincial court judges? I say to my friend from St. John's East, the provincial court judges have asked to be relieved of this. It is simply a burden on them. There is only one sheriff, but if there are adequate deputy sheriffs throughout the Province then the system, I am told, will work. The provincial court judges tell me that it is simply a burden on them. It is also - my friend would not be aware of this, I am sure, but there are lawyers who charge for making these applications. Judging from his demeanour, he has not. I am surprised; it must be the only thing he has not charged for in the course of his practise. In any event, it is no longer necessary. All that need to be done is send a message to the sheriff on the proper application form and it will be dealt with.

Mr. Speaker, there are two other changes that I would draw to the House's attention. The first is found in section 6, which amends subsection 20.(3) of the act. That allows us to move into the computer age in drawing juries. We now draw panels by hand. There is a big barrel down in the court and the Sheriff's hand goes down and out comes a name and that person is - the panel is seated there and that person's name comes forward and is then dealt with in accordance with the procedures. This allows the use of other methods. I'm told we are thinking of computers.

I don't know quite how it works but I'm assured it does work. In fact, somebody told me - I should ask my friend, the Member for St. Barbe this - that the 6/49 numbers are selected by computer as opposed to being drawn. I'm still back in the bit where you draw the white ball and say: Under the B, five, and under the G, sixty-six, or whatever the numbers are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Sixty-six is under the O, is it? I ask my friend, the Member for Ferryland. Sixty-six is under O?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Every fifteen. It has been years since I played bingo, I say to my friend, the Member for Ferryland, but I will take him on in some wagers on other things if he wants.

The two other things we are doing that I'm sure will catch the interest of members - they will be up all night thinking about this one - the first is we are providing - this is in Section 8 - that a person who is getting a pension except other than a monthly guaranteed income supplement or a spouse's allowance under the Old Age Security Act of Canada or a pension under the Canada Pension Plan, that any other person receiving a pension shall not be able to qualify for or to claim reimbursement for serving on a jury.

The principle of jury service is that one does it as a citizen's duty. There is a section in the act that says that an employer cannot dock a person's wages when that person is called for jury duty. We had a problem, Mr. Speaker - I think it was the Rideout –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the unemployment insurance we've straightened up.

- the Rideout trial in Corner Brook years ago which went on for about a year, George Rideout on criminal charges. There was one juror who was the single employee of a business. The business had an owner and one employee, and as luck would have it, the employee was selected for jury duty on the Rideout trial. It went on for a year. We had to make a special arrangement to compensate because the employer just would have gone out of business. It is okay if it is Newfoundland Tel or the government or some large enterprise, but in that case, we did make a special arrangement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My understanding, I say to my friend, the Member for St. John's East, is that the UI problem has been resolved. So members are aware that we were running into a problem in areas of the Province with significant numbers of people on UI where they were not eligible for jury duty or they could not come because they would be cut off; like my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, who is frequently cut off - sometimes cut up, sometimes cut down, but often cut off.

The other thing which I'm sure my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West will be deeply interested in, Mr. Speaker, is this: Section 43.1(1), and I won't read it all, but I say to my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West that the next time he is called for jury duty, as in fact he can't as long as he is in here. If he is called for jury duty and he gets a parking ticket, all he has to do, if that parking ticket is as a result of answering the summons or serving on the jury, is to go to see the Sheriff, and as long as the Sheriff is acting in a manner prescribed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council by regulation, the Sheriff may cancel that ticket.

MR. HARRIS: That is the Bas Jamieson (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry, is it the...?

MR. HARRIS: That's the Bas Jamieson amendment.

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend, the Member for St. John's East, he has a deeper acquaintance with Mr. Bas Jamieson than I do, but did Mr. Jamieson get into this problem?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) City Hall.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, okay.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).


MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, what do I do with the Member for Burin - Placentia West? He is like one of these roly-poly balls that we used to have as kids. You know, it has a big weight in its bottom, and he certainly has a big weight in his bottom - all you have to do is look at it and you see it -, and you tap him and he rolls over - he is a bit of a pushover I'm told, by those who know him - and he bounces back. You tap him again, and the big weight in his bottom, which you can see whenever he takes him over, but no, he pops up again. I mean, what can you -

MR. SULLIVAN: Get to the bottom of (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman, the Member for Ferryland may want to get to the bottom of the Member for Burin - Placentia West, but I don't, I assure him. I assure him I do not want to on grounds of taste or morals.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, we are being taken away from the amendments to the Jury Act. We are being dragged away and I apologize to the House for allowing my friend, the roly-poly bottom weighted gentleman from Burin - Placentia West to drag me away like this. I would agree that my friend, the Member for Ferryland has bottomed out many times.

MR. FUREY: Is that Lynn in a new costume?

MR. ROBERTS: No, I say to my friend, the Member for St. Barbe, it is not Lynn in new costume, but when the hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West moved from his seat to that of the lady from Humber East, he raised the electoral level of each seat. He can stick on that one for a bit.

Your Honour, with that said, I move the bill to be now read a second time and we will deal with comments from the gentlemen opposite if they wish to make them. Thank you.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, all of the things that the minister said, pertaining to the revisions and the amendments of this Jury Act and some of the questions that I had to ask of the minister has already been asked by my colleague, the Member for St. John's East. One thing I would like for the minister to check into, and he referred to it in the last part of the amendment, was whether someone on unemployment insurance, who was called for jury duty, would be able to receive UI. I've heard this before the hon. member brought it up; I've heard some comments on it that people who had been called for jury duty have been told by Manpower, by UIC that they cannot receive UI, they were cut off - that they would not be receiving it.

MR. ROBERTS: They were not available to work.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, exactly. That is the exact reason that was given to them; they were not available to work.

MR. ROBERTS: It is a requirement, as my hon. friend may know, for UI, that one would be available for work.

MR. WOODFORD: Exactly, it is the same thing as going to school and then they were taking so many subjects they got - but in this one here they will be cut. And the other question I ask the minister: How much is it - the amount that may be prescribed, does that depend on the individual's income, what he or she is involved in or what? What amount - is it six dollars, five dollars?

MR. ROBERTS: It is a per diem amount. I don't know how much it is, but you ain't going to get rich on jury duty.

MR. WOODFORD: No. In the same section, Section 43 (2) as the amount prescribed. If I am not mistaken they used to get five dollars, was it?

MR. ROBERTS: It is better than that but I will find out.

MR. WOODFORD: But it is on a per diem basis?


MR. WOODFORD: The other section, Section 4 (1) where the Sheriff can now compile a list of the names and addresses, just a question there. The enumerations are done, anyway, by the Chief Electoral Office, so I take it for granted that what the Sheriff does in this case is just get the list from the Chief Electoral Office, and he, in turn, compiles the jury list for people living within that 25 kilometres of the city? So that doesn't have to be done a second time, that is done in any case. That is all, Mr. Speaker - but especially that one pertaining to the UI, because the minister himself referred to that earlier and it is a question, I am sure, that will come up again if it is not addressed.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just have a few remarks on this bill. I made a number of my comments across the floor of the House to the minister while he was making his address in order to facilitate the questions being dealt with instead of having to repeat them. So I won't dwell on some of these things. I will just say though that we seem to have had more amendments to the Jury Act since the former Member for Grand Bank has been made the High Sheriff than we have ever had before.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What was that?

MR. HARRIS: Ever since the former Member for Grand Bank has been made the High Sheriff of Newfoundland, we seem to have more amendments to the Jury Act then we have ever had before.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: It needs to be amended again - (inaudible) job, I'd say.

MR. HARRIS: I suspect that the High Sheriff of Newfoundland is carrying out a one-man lobby to the Ministry of Justice on an annual basis, if not more often, to seek amendments to the Jury Act but I do think on the whole -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, listen. He is not listening.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: No, I say to the minister that ever since the former Member for Grand Bank has been made the High Sheriff, there appears to be a one-man lobby to the Ministry of Justice to seek improvements to the Jury Act and I think, over the last several years there have been significant improvements to it. I see there are some more refinements here in this act and I think that, on the whole, they seem to provide for a more efficient system.

I will say something about jury trials while I am on my feet, Mr. Speaker. It is a fact that in this Province, in the last fifteen years since I have been admitted to the Bar, the number of jury trials and the use of juries by defendants in criminal trials has increased very, very substantially. There was a time, and when I was admitted to the Bar in 1980, that the only time you would see a jury trial was in a very serious offence such as murder, at least in St. John's - outside of St. John's it was more common; in Grand Falls it was quite common to have jury trials in certain matters, cases of rape or alleged rape or criminal negligence causing death, those types of trials where a jury was considered to have a point of view on a case that would be presumably somewhat more sympathetic to a defendant, in some circumstances, or at least it was thought that way and people would choose a jury.

There was an exception, the exception was in Labrador, very common to have jury trials in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, and I don't know how that practice developed but it was very common to have jury trials in Goose Bay even around the time of 1980 and thereabouts when I was first admitted to the Bar. It would have been considered by most judges in St. John's that to have a jury trial, even though you had a right to a jury trial for an offence that was not one of the more serious charges, it would have been considered out of line, and the court would not look too kindly upon a lawyer who advised a client to have a jury trial for a matter for which it was not a tradition to have one.

But in the last ten years, it has been a very common occurrence to have jury trials for even matters such as armed robbery or break and enter sometimes, occasionally where the defendant feels that a jury trial is available to him or her. On the civil side we have had provision for jury trials for many years. I am only aware of two that have had a jury trial, one involved a personal injury claim, where a jury was sought to determine an issue with respect to liability, but it is a rare event on the civil side. But because of the large number of jury trials on the criminal side, it has been necessary to streamline and make more efficient the jury system.

It is, as the minister said, a very old and revered tradition in our legal system, what is sometimes known as the anglo-American legal system, basically the British system of justice as taken across the waters and revised, to a certain extent, by each jurisdiction including our own, to accommodate the local circumstances, the local conditions and the changing notions of justice. In Canada, of course, we have a Criminal Code. The great English lawyers of the 19th Century devised this Criminal Code, but they did not adopt it. They devised it, but it was adopted by Canada and the British criminal law sort of meandered upon it with various little acts from here and there, and with common law crimes still possible in England -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes, of course, Newfoundland's constitutional history being parallel in that regard to England up until the time of Confederation, certain common law crimes, conspiracy and other matters, and with very lengthy sentences possible without codification, without the control of the Legislature over the types of sentencing and the nature of sentencing, of course when we became citizens of Canada and a part of Canada we were also under the Criminal Code, which has at least provided a document where citizens and lawyers and law students could know what the law was in one place, and if it was necessary for Legislatures to change it, they had it there before them, and the history of various sections in the codified and annotated codes in order to change it.

The jury system is an important part of that, although I think it comes under criticism from time to time because there are circumstances when a jury may, in fact, acquit someone who no judge would acquit, because the judge would apply the law the way it is written, the way it is codified, and rely on the evidence, but a jury may, despite the evidence and despite the law, find someone not guilty.

AN HON. MEMBER: O.J. Simpson.

MR. HARRIS: O.J. Simpson may be an example of that, although the members of the jury who are under the American system are allowed to talk about their deliberations and what they did afterwards, not during, have said that they did not accept the evidence. They have not said that they believed he was guilty, but they acquitted him because they did not like the system.

There are lots of cases where, historically at least, in political circumstances, juries have acquitted despite the apparent guilt of certain accused persons. It is very common in Ireland for juries to acquit certain individuals of criminal offences because they believe the offences and the laws and the actions of the police were oppressive to the Irish people, the English law being imposed upon the Irish people, and it would be very difficult to get a jury to convict someone of a crime which was perceived as either a political crime or a crime arising out of the oppression of the Irish people by the English.

Similarly, coroners' juries in the Irish Republic, or what was prior to the Irish Republic, would find, in cases of starvation, verdicts against the British Government for causing the starvation of children by their policies and by, again, their oppression against the Irish people.

So the jury system requires a unanimous verdict. All members of a jury must agree either to acquit or to convict, and that provides a protection in our system.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is in criminal.

MR. HARRIS: That is in criminal. In a criminal case there must be unanimity in order to have a verdict. Now, you can have a hung jury -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or a hanging jury.

MR. HARRIS: Sometimes you have a hanging judge or a hanging jury - not any more, not in this country, and never, I hope, in this country, despite the efforts of certain members of our federal Legislature to try and change that.

The hung jury, of course, is not all that common. Strangely enough, the twelve men and women on a jury come to a conclusion one way or the other either to acquit or to convict and for an accused person whom, our system says has the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, that is a protection. He doesn't have to convince the judge that he is not guilty or that there is a reasonable doubt, if he has twelve people on a jury all he really has to do is, convince one. All he really has to do is convince one not to convict and that there is a reasonable doubt as to his guilt and he or she is entitled to go free or at least not to be convicted and that is a great protection in our system because our system believes, despite the sometimes law and order mentality that exists, that it is better for 100 or ninety-nine people who are in fact guilty to go free than it is for one innocent person to be convicted and jailed, and I think that that's a good principle.

We don't have a perfect system and everybody who commits a crime does not go to jail or even get caught. For every person who is charged with a crime, there are probably countless others who have committed the very same crime and gotten away with it, so we don't have a perfect system to start with.

MR. WOODFORD: In a civil case, (inaudible) is it the same as in the States where they have nine.

MR. HARRIS: Our civil juries I think are nine, yes.

MR. WOODFORD: The same thing?

MR. HARRIS: I believe it is nine in a civil jury here and a majority is all you need in a civil jury because the stakes in terms of the freedom of the individual are not as high and the same principles don't apply, but I think that's a very good system. People say: how can you see a guilty person be acquitted of a crime? Well, guilty people go free of crimes every day. Every day there are people driving on the highway breaking the law, the breathalyzer law, driving while impaired; not all of them are caught, not all of them are convicted so we don't have a perfect system, we don't automatically be convicted because we have committed a crime, there has to be due process of law and we have a law and a jury system that protects that due process.

As I say, it is not perfect. There are those who are convinced that O. J. Simpson is guilty and yet he has been acquitted; not found innocent as some people like to say. I remember there was a case here a couple of years ago, where an individual was acquitted of a criminal charge, an employee of government in fact, acquitted of a criminal charge and then fired from his job and went through an arbitration process and the arbitrators refused to reinstate this person. For a couple of years, there was a big campaign in this Province, newspaper editors, former members of this House writing in columns in the newspaper proclaiming the innocence of this individual saying that he had been acquitted, and found innocent by a jury of his peers.

Well that wasn't the case, they didn't say he was innocent, the person was found not guilty. The evidence in the trial was insufficient to convince the jury that the person was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for whatever it was he was charged with and that's a very different determination in saying that he did nothing wrong. It is very different in saying that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, therefore ought to be immediately reinstated in his job.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The member raises a good point. What about due process in .05? Well, you don't get a jury trial with .05. That's a very arbitrary law. A very arbitrary law brought in by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to try and further his own reputation as having done something, but he would have been far better off bringing in a law which provided for graduated drivers licences, so that new persons getting their drivers licences would have to earn the right to drive at night, perhaps, or drive on the highway, or drive with more than one or two or three people in the car.

We see constantly time and again, young people in particular, but this wouldn't be aimed particularly at young people, but inexperienced drivers who are sometimes young people going out three and four and five in a car carrying on, radio blasting high, unable really to pay the kind of attention that a new driver would need to pay in order to become experienced and to properly manage a dangerous vehicle on the road.

That would have been a far better measure to bring in than the .05 per cent. There is no due process with the .05 per cent law, I say to the Member for St. John's East Extern. In fact, it is a law which says that you are not entitled to due process. If you blow .05 per cent we take your licence for twenty-four hours and charge you $100 to get it back. There is no due process at all. The jury system provides for a due process and for a special protection for individuals.

There are some countries which regard the jury system as antiquated, as old-fashioned, as unfair. But it is something that we in this Province and in the legal profession hold fairly dear as the last protection of the individual against tyranny. It stands as a bulwark between the potential tyranny of the state and the individual. That is the political dimension of this right to acquit someone who may otherwise be found guilty, or may have in fact done the deed.

That was the appeal in the O.J. Simpson case to the jury. Johnny Cochrane in his summing up to the jury said that: Whether or not - I don't know if he said "whether or not." I think he said that a message must be sent to the system, to the L.A.P.D., the police department, that racism should not and will not be tolerated. That the manufacturing of evidence should not and would not be tolerated. That perjury in a trial to achieve a conviction should not and would not be tolerated. They invited the jury to use that case as one to send a message to the system that the system had failed to guarantee justice to the black citizens of Los Angeles.

O.J. Simpson was not your ordinary defendant. He didn't have your ordinary `dream team.' Very few people who find themselves before the criminal court have the resources to supply themselves with the legal talent that O.J. Simpson had available to him. How much did it cost? I've heard the figure $5 million. They say that Johnny Cochrane's bill alone was $600,000, and he had a defence team of five or six people. They had a lot of talent and they showed it. I suppose that is one of the unfairnesses of the system as well, that the defence of an O.J. Simpson is not the defence of a Bart Simpson. Bart Simpson wouldn't get the same defence as O.J. Simpson. Bart Simpson would probably try - he would be looking around for a legal aid lawyer and hope for the best.

One of the things that the O.J. Simpson trial has done, I say to the Minister of Justice, is that everyone now wants an O.J. Simpson defence and they want their lawyer to provide it, and they are going to legal aid to get it. You can hardly blame people for wanting to have a proper defence. Many people who are charged with offences feel that the system is against them. One of the protections we do have is the jury system. People, by watching the O.J. Simpson trial on t.v., despite its soap opera atmosphere and the star quality of the characters, whether for the defence or the prosecution, the lawyers, the judges, and everybody who was participating, the defendant himself, people have to look at the inside of how a jury system works and how, in fact, at the end of the day twelve ordinary people are deciding the fate of a criminal case, even one as important as one which decides the fate of whether or not Mr. Simpson was to spend more time in jail. He had already spent fifteen months in jail awaiting trial, but whether or not he was guilty of that offence and should spend the rest of his life in jail which was based on the charge before him.

With those few remarks I have not talked much about the bill. As I indicated to the minister the sections I was concerned about I raised. I do see the value of the changes that are here. I would hope that the authorization of the sheriff to cancel parking tickets does not become a temptation to the sheriff, or to the sub-sheriffs, to cancel a few extra parking tickets. I think that is a pretty substantial power to give someone. It is very petty, $5 here, $10 there, but quite often there are abuses that can creep into any system and temptations can arise. No doubt there will be people who do not qualify for tickets to be cancelled who will approach the sheriff and say, how about this one? I want you to cancel this one because you have that power.

It is not a power I would want to have, Mr. Speaker, because I am sure hon. members in this House would probably be knocking on your door. Look, boy, why do you not fix this one up for me?

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I do not think there is much point in me going to see the Sheriff about mine.

MR. HARRIS: Well, I would say that the High Sheriff of Newfoundland would sure look favourably on the Member for Grand Bank, representing his old constituents. Did you defeat him in the election?


MR. HARRIS: Well, I would not be the one, I say, going to see the High Sheriff trying to get your tickets cancelled, or see him about anything. I do not know if he holds grudges.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: His is a good fellow. He is Ed's buddy.

MR HARRIS: I do not know if the High Sheriff holds grudges, but I do know that he has been very active in lobbying the Minister of Justice to change and improve the Jury Act, and we have seen considerable changes in amendments over the last few years. I do not think the current Minister of Justice appointed the High Sheriff. I think he was appointed even before the current member was in the House this time around. I think. I am not sure. It may have been the previous Minister of Justice.

Anyway with these few remarks I have indicated my support for the Jury Act. I understand the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is going to speak on the Jury Act for the next half hour, so I will take my seat and allow him to rise and speak.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Government House Leader and Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my friend for St. John's East on his brief, witty, trenchant, and altogether forceful presentation. Let me deal with one or two of the points which he has made. He asked about the compensation we pay for jurors. The note which I received from my officials says that a juror who is employed, on social assistance, or UIC, continues to receive their normal pay or benefits, otherwise a juror is paid minimum wages which is $4.75 an hour.

Mr. Speaker, this government is addressing that issue, unlike my friend for St. John's East. Anyway, that is what jurors are paid and certain expenses of jurors are also reimbursed. I do not know all the details but I know there is a set scale. I don't think that financial problems are causing any concern for people serving on juries. I have not heard of a case where - except the one in Corner Brook, I mentioned, where service on a jury has wreaked a financial havoc. Businessmen may be reluctant but that is probably a good reason why they should, Sir. Serving on a jury is a very important part of being a citizen in my view.

My learned friend went on at great length about the role of juries and I would agree with what he said. Juries play an essential role particularly when they choose, for their own reasons, to refuse to convict. We have in this country a rule, a very strict rule, difference from the American rule that no one may ask a juror what he or she has voted or why and I think that is a wise rule. The Americans have a different proceeding and when the O.J. Simpson trial was over there was a rush of jurors, as I recollect, several at least were rushing out to get on the Dave Letterman Show or the Larry King Show or whatever to tell: here is what went on in the jury room. We don't allow that in Canada.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, in fact I was going to come to the Morgentaler case because Dr. Morgentaler has made the law in two respects in this country, one of them was on juries. Dr. Morgentaler was charged in Quebec, time and time again, by the then Government of Quebec - this would have been Jéan Lasage's time, a long time ago -with performing abortions. Juries consistently refused to convict him. That is a clear case where a jury said simply the law is wrong and that is what it means when a jury refuses to convict. A number of juries refused to convict him. The Court of Appeal then not only overturned the acquittal but convicted him and the result of that - in fact, it was so long ago that Mr. Diefenbaker was Prime Minister - that Mr. Diefenbaker's Government introduced an amendment to the Criminal Code then - it is still law - that says a Court of Appeal may not substitute a conviction for an acquittal. It may order a new trail -

AN HON. MEMBER: Called the Morgentaler amendment.

MR. ROBERTS: It may be called the Morgentaler amendment but in any event, that is a clear case where a jury has been an advance to parliament and it made the point. My friend from Windsor - Buchans had a question?

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible) O.J. Simpson?

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know what the O.J. Simpson case means, I say to my friend but that was a clear case where the jury - I mean a jury that is only out four hours after a trial the length of that was sending a message and they chose not to convict. I guess in the States you can ask why and debate it but sobeit. In fact one of the most important rights of a jury is to do what they wish, even if it is to use a phrase judges have sometimes used, perverse to the law. My understanding of law, there is no such thing as a jury that is perverse to the law. If they have been properly directed and they bring in a verdict, that is the end of it. A Court of Appeal may order a new trial if there has been improper evidence admitted, if proper evidence has been improperly excluded or if a jury has been misdirected on the law by the judge but that aside, a jury's verdict is sacred and stands.

My learned friend could not resist taking a cheap swipe at the old .05. He knows full well that is not a jury situation, not a criminal sanction. My understanding, my friend from Port de Grave, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has referred to this in the House, is that the .05 has been a great success in this Province. It has served its purpose of helping to keep off the roads people who have drank too much and driven. Anybody who knows what goes on in this Province with drinking and driving can only commend any initiative that will help to reduce the incidence of people driving while they have had drink in them. I don't claim to be any better than anybody else in this Province but I will tell you the breathalyzer sure has had an effect on me over the years and I suspect on other members. If I am out now for an evening and take two or three glasses of wine with my dinner, as I do on occasion, somebody else does the driving and that is right. My friend from Humber Valley I think is nodding acquiescence. Anything we can do to reduce the incidence of people driving with liquor in them or with drugs in them should be done. The .05, in my understanding, has worked brilliantly and my friend from Port de Grave should be commended for bringing it forward and the government take pride in the fact that we have stood by it and continue to stand by it.

My friend also spoke of my friend, my former parliamentary friend, the then Member for Grand Bank, the High Sheriff, Leslie R. Toms, Q.C. Mr. Toms has certainly been indefatigable in pressing the case for amendments to the Jury Act. I would say not only is that not a criticism - and I did not think my friend meant it as a criticism, I did not take it as such - but not only should he not be criticized for that, he should be praised.

The administration of the jury system in this Province is in better shape now than it has ever been, in my understanding. I have never done a jury trial, and I do not expect I ever will do one, but those who do work with juries, the Crown and defence alike, tell me that the system is working far better than it has ever worked. The judges have told me that as well. Mr. Toms is certainly entitled to a great part of the credit for that, and he sure as hell has lobbied me for these amendments. Not only have I no hesitation in saying that, I would commend him for doing so. I think that is the appropriate role of any public official, and he has discharged his duties well and in the very best traditions of the law and of the public service of this Province.

My friend from Humber Valley, I think, generally was in agreement with the bill. He asked how much we were paid for jury duty; I have given him that information. He also asked a question with respect to the new section 4, which deals with the voters list. I confirmed that the voters list will be used by the sheriff in preparing the list. The question is who simply does the physical compilation of the list, because the voters list is done by electoral districts. The jury list is done by a radius from a judicial centre. The names and the addresses are there; it is simply a matter of compiling them. That will now be done by the sheriff or by somebody else designated by the Minister of Justice from time to time. It will be done by the sheriff in the normal courts, and done very well.

I think that deals with the points raised by my friends opposite, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank them for their support, and before I move the bill be read a second time let me tell those opposite that if we deal with the Toronto Dominion Trust Act, which is, in my view, a very straightforward piece of legislation, we will then ask the House to deal with Order 8, which is the Tobacco Control Act, Bill No. 10.

My friend from Grand Bank is either educating the minister or is being educated by him. If we get through the Trust Company Bill before we adjourn, I will ask my friend, the Minister of Health, to introduce the Tobacco Control Act, which is Bill No. 10, Order No. 8.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The Tobacco Control Act, it is the no smoking bill. With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move the bill be read a second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act, 1991," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 33)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

Would you be good enough to call Order 17, Bill No. 30?

MR. SPEAKER: Order 17, Bill No. 30.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I get into the substance of what I am going to say, may I note that the printed copy of this bill has me as the Minister of Finance. Unless the Premier has done something that neither I nor the Minister of Finance is aware of, that is a misprint and perhaps it could be corrected at the appropriate time.

Mr. Speaker, this bill speaks for itself. I defy any hon. member to go through it and explain it succinctly or concisely. The Explanatory Note says, in full, the purpose of this bill is set out in its long title, and Your Honour read the long title when you called the order for debate, so I do not propose to repeat that. What I will say is that this bill is being brought in at the request of the solicitors for the TD Trust Company. The TD Trust Company has bought - and I use the word `has' bought because members will note the bill is retroactive to January 1, 1993 - the TD Trust Company has bought the Central Guaranty Trust Company.

Bills precisely the same as this one, I am told, have been adopted or are being adopted in every jurisdiction in the country. The purpose of the bill is simply to facilitate the process, the winding up - it is not a winding up in law - the absorption of the Central Guaranty Trust Company into the TD Trust Company. What this deals with are areas that fall within the provincial legislative competence of the property and civil rights head, and the detail provisions address a number of ways in which the law needs to be changed to allow TD Trust Company to function under the function in respect of the assets of the Central Guaranty Trust Company that it has acquired and the responsibilities that were formerly undertaken by the Central Guaranty Trust Company that are now being discharged by the TD Trust Company.

Now with that said, Mr. Speaker, I will move second reading and if members have comments or questions, I will try to respond to them when I close the debate. I don't anticipate a lengthy debate but I am in the hands of the House as always.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few questions as it pertains to this bill. The minister has stated that this has been done by other jurisdictions in Canada and it is a normal thing, but I would just like to have a few questions and when the minister gets up to speak on this and close the debate, he can answer them for me or, we can do it back and forth now as well.

One of the questions I would have to ask and this is: why a special bill to deal with this act? I would take it for granted that it comes under the superintendent of insurance if I am not mistaken, trust companies don't come under -

MR. ROBERTS: This is federally regulated under (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Oh, I see, so what you are doing then is, looking after what is applicable in the Province.

MR. ROBERTS: Under the Property and Civil Rights (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Under the Property and Civil Rights, so who looks after that then in the Department of Justice?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Just yourself, it doesn't go to any other -

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if my friend would yield for a moment -

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, because that's one of the -

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if it helps to move the debate on. TD Trust Company or Central Guaranty or both, are regulated federally. There is only one provincially regulated trust company and that is Fortis Trust, that's the only one but they are registered to do business here. We do collect a fee and we do get a certain amount of information but the regulatory jurisdiction rests with the Government of Canada feds, and as my friend says it is the office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions that has responsibility for that. We are simply, in this bill, addressing matters that fall within the property and civil rights matter. In other words, they can't be dealt with by federal legislation. The reason we need a special bill for this company is that this applies only to -

What the bill does in most cases is, take the words Central Guaranty Trust and replace them with TD Trust Company. Now that's a simplistic explanation but that's probably an accurate one as far as it goes. I thank my friend.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, one other question or maybe a couple of other questions the minister can answer. It is obvious that this was done since January of 1993, I believe it was, January 1, of 1993; that's when it became effective, that's when TD Trust took over Central Guaranty Trust Company. Why would it take so long for something like that - you know, this is almost three years, it would be three years now come January and I suppose when this is passed, by the time it is proclaimed it will be three years or probably longer, and one of the questions I have in saying that has to address - if anything had to happen with regards to say a lawsuit against Central Guaranty Trust, in the last three years what would have happened and, as the minister stated, there was only one trust company in the Province now, I think you said it was Fortis Trust, was that the only one?

MR. ROBERTS: The only one regulated provincially.

MR. WOODFORD: The only one regulated provincially, not registered outside the Province.

MR. ROBERTS: No it need be registered outside the Province, (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: For Fortis Trust. So, Mr. Speaker, the minister has answered the concerns, as he said, it is federally regulated except for what he stated, the concerns that his department has, any concerns that come through shall we say provincially, will be looked after by your department, directly through your department with regards to property or anything like that. Anything else, is federally regulated in any case so then the people, whatever they have in this, whether they are wills, executors or whatever was in place when Central Guaranty Trust left it, they are protected anyway both by the federal regulations and in this case as it pertains to property, through the provincial Department of Justice. Is that not right?

The only couple of questions I had on it were with regard to the length of time, why it took three years to put the act in place, and the concerns I had with regard to anybody who had anything to do with Central Guaranty Trust. I am not going to go through that. The minister can see them; there are all kinds of entitlements, wills, executors, and the whole shebang. But, over the years you talk about executors and stuff like that, and you talk about banks.

I have known of all kinds of people who just did up wills, and because they knew someone or had a good banker, or the name of the bank they were dealing with, they felt pretty good about it, and they just put their name in as an executor, not asking the individual, or asking the institution whether they would act as an executor. They just put it there and then, in the case of death, in the case of the distribution of an estate, there have been cases where I have seen over the years, in my short time around, and looking at some of the estates that have been looked after by certain people that I can't name; but there have been charges brought against those people because they didn't do what was right and proper with regard to the execution of that particular estate.

When I saw that word there, the executor and the will, that alone led me to be suspect, I suppose, with regard to some of those trust companies, especially the people who are vulnerable. A lot of the old people, the seniors, dealt with those people, still deal with them. It is very easy to say to an older person who comes in every day and makes their deposit, who deals with some of those companies - and the same thing is happening today with the banks and other financial institutions - to say: Okay, I will act as your executor, I will do this and I will do that. But, at the end of the day, are they really being looked after?

That is all, just a few short comments on that, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just to clarify in my own mind, at least, that all this bill really does is provide the orderly transfer of assets and responsibilities, liabilities and so forth from one trust company to another. It is nothing more than that. Can the minister assure us that the investors in TD Trust are fully protected, that they have the same benefits and privileges, and rights, as they had under TD Trust now that it is transferred to Central Guaranty? No change whatsoever, the same security and so forth? That is all I want assurance on.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I heard on the speaker most of the remarks of my friend, the Member for Humber Valley, and some, but not all the remarks of the Government House Leader, the Minister of Justice. I had similar concerns. It is quite a complex piece of legislation in its technical wording. I assume that it is all done to effect the changes in all the contracts that Central Guaranty Trust had entered into for trust purposes that were now taken over by TD Trust, and that it was simply to avoid having to redo all those contracts, or in fact provide for circumstances where the Central Guaranty Trust may have been appointed executor of a will, an instrument, or a trustee, and that Central Guaranty Trust business was passed on to someone else.

I don't know whether the minister wants to comment on whether or not that provision might need to be made for people who may well have wanted Central Guaranty Trust to have their business and be their executor or trustee, but perhaps not want the TD bank, whom they may have had bad business experiences with, or something like that, to have them as trustee of certain trusts. I don't know if there is provision for that or whether that is a consideration under the circumstances. I had the same query as my colleague, the Member for Humber Valley as to why this is being done now for 1993. I gather from the remarks of the Government House Leader that this is not an institution we need to be concerned about. The regulatory regime is in place that we have had concerns about in the past. The minister said that Fortis Trust is the only trust company we do regulate. We did have other institutions, such as Caribou Investment and Loan that wasn't a trust company but that was regulated. I hope what he is saying is that the only financial institution we now regulate is Fortis Trust.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) under the Trust and Loan Companies Act. (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It is the only one under the Trust and Loan Companies Act, so I am assuming that we need not worry ourselves about the regulatory side of this, at least not in this House, and only with, I suspect, the contract side of it, because contracts are a provincial responsibility and what we are doing here is facilitating the transfer of those contracts from Central Guaranty Trust to TD Trust, and perhaps the minister can deal with this issue of: What about people who may not, in fact, want their contracts transferred, or may want to do business elsewhere? Is there a provision that allows that, or is that a consideration that the minister's officials looked at when devising this act?

I haven't seen any technical analysis of what is here. The Legislation Committee looked at this the other day and felt that they would want to have someone come to the committee to walk the committee through the provisions, to say: Here is what the intention of this particular section is.

We felt that, as a committee, it would not be proper for us to say that we would send this bill back to the House and recommend that it be passed without amendment without having at least had the benefit of an official from the Department of Justice or the Department of Finance telling us why they did it this way, or what the purpose of all of this was. I think that is still necessary in order for the committee to do a proper job, but I don't have any difficulty in supporting the principles involved in the legislation and supporting it at second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, if he speaks now, will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You jumped up awfully fast.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I jumped up awfully fast because my friend, the Member for Grand Bank, has all day been saying he wants to get out of this House. There are any number of us who want him out of this House, some on this side, but far more on his side.

Mr. Speaker, let me deal first with the remarks made by my learned friend, the Member for St. John's East. The Chair of, I guess, the Government Services Committee, my friend, the Member for Trinity North, told me a few moments ago, maybe a half-an-hour ago, that the Committee had met recently and had asked for some information from my officials, or wished to hear from my officials, on both this bill and the Jury Act, and I have no problem with that at all. There has been no report made to the House, so I wasn't aware of the Committee's resolution or conclusion until my friend, the Chairman, told me that.

Now, Standing Order 54.2 allows a bill which has been read a second time to be referred to the appropriate committee upon that committee's request. So I would simply say to my friend, the Chairman, and the other members of the Committee, if they wish to have either bill before them -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, my hon. friend has them under a different rule. Under 54.2 all they have to do is pass it and I will gladly make available my officials to deal with these matters and to go on with them. Now, if they had wanted to deal with it before second reading they really had to tell me, or tell the House. They chose to tell nobody. I don't blame them, but I can't hold up the business of the House on the thought that some committee may or may have dealt with it. In any event, the opening is still there for the Committee. If the Committee still wishes, I would be more than happy to ask my officials to attend before and to answer any questions that the Committee may wish to pose.

I have to say with all respect to my learned friend, the Member for St. John's East, he isn't yet the Committee. He may be one of the seven members on it. The Committee will communicate in the appropriate way.

Mr. Speaker, let me come to the point made by my friend, the Member for Mount Pearl. I thought his questions were important ones. My understanding of the bill is this. The Central Guaranty Trust Company got into financial difficulty. It was part of the Central Guaranty empire which ceased to be an empire and went the way of all empires. The TD Trust Company with the approval and, I believe, the financial support of the federal authorities - the approval would have come from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions; the money would have come from the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation - with the approval of those two bodies, the TD Bank, through a subsidiary called TD Trust Company, bought Central Guaranty Trust Company.

I don't know all the details, whether it was an asset sale or a share, I just don't know, but this bill is to facilitate that sale. My understanding is it does not detrimentally affect the rights of any person as against Central Guaranty Trust. Whatever they had they still have; whatever they didn't have they aren't going to get.

MR. FITZGERALD: They're making fun of you, `Ed', your colleagues are making fun of you.

MR. ROBERTS: My colleagues may well make fun of me. The thing is, I say to my friend, the Member for Bonavista South, when my colleagues poke fun at me, they mean to make fun; when his colleagues poke fun at him, they aren't being funny at all. You can read that in Hansard and see how it looks. I see the looks on his colleagues' faces when he stands to speak - they run from revulsion to horror to abhorrence to incredulity.

AN HON. MEMBER: To amazement.

MR. ROBERTS: Incredulity, amazement, yes! The amazement is Dr. Johnston's amazement that not that the hon. gentleman makes a speech badly but whether he makes one at all.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my friend from Mount Pearl asked a very good question, I think I have addressed it but that is my understanding and his concern is a fair one. If the Committee wishes to deal with the bill in detail, the officials can take him through these points in more detail.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my friend from Humber Valley asked why the bill was made retroactive or why it took so long, the answer is simply it has been in the legislative process, I am not sure when the solicitors first approached us. This is one where we are accommodating a request from the solicitors for this company but I was told that it was not until two or three months ago that the solicitors and my drafters signed off on the legislation.

Now I don't know where the responsibility lies. We didn't press it because the drafters have lots to do, we didn't press it and if the solicitors were content to let it go on, it is not for me to interfere but it would be made retroactive and that brings me to the second question my friend asked, very perceptively, what if anything had happened during the period? Well what I would say to him is, if anything had happened during the period somebody would have heard about it. It's like pain, which my brother, the doctor says, is the body's way of telling you there is something wrong. You know, if there had been some problem it would have surfaced and we would deal with it but if it hasn't surfaced but is still lurking out there, under the limitation statutes, it will be addressed by the fact that the legislation would be made retroactive.

Now his other point was executor. Let me simply say that, well I may name him to be an executor or he may name me, the law says one cannot be an executor unless one accepts it. It is possible if one is named as an executor to renounce that when the will is brought on for probate or when the deed of trust creating a fiduciary duty is brought forward. I mean, one cannot be made an executor or an administrator against one's consent. It requires consent and in this Province it requires bonding unless there is a court order to waive it.

I think that answers the questions. I know that members have been up nights reading this. The drafters have left but I wonder if I could ask our Clerk, I think there is a misprint in paragraph 2 on page 5. I will point it out to him later but you can have a look at that as well.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move, in response to the enthusiastic clamour from all sides, second reading of this bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Provide For The Transfer Of The Trusteeship And Agency Business Of Central Guaranty Trust Company To TD Trust Company", (Bill No. 30), read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, given that it is Halloween, I know that hon. members want to get out tricking and treating, those opposite will be doing one and we will be doing the other, we will be wearing our masks and they don't need them.

In any event, Your Honour, I am prepared to suggest in a rare burst of generosity and goodwill that we adjourn the House.

Tomorrow will be Private Members Day. The motion to be debated will be the one put down by my friend from Eagle River today. On Thursday, we shall begin with the debate on Order No. 8 on today's Order Paper, which is Bill No. 10, my friend, the Minister of Health, will introduce amendments to the Tobacco Control Act.

I will let my friends opposite know as soon as I know where we are going after that one. That one may take us some time, in my experience, but I think on Friday the plan is to ask the House to deal with the Regulatory Reform Bill, which is Bill No. 7. That appears as Order 4 on today's Order Paper. Again, as with anything, that is subject to...

My friend, if he has today's Order Paper, I say to my friend from Grand Bank, he goes to Order 4, that is the Regulatory Reform Bill, "An Act Respecting The Revision And Consolidation Of Subordinate Legislation".

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We will be doing the finance bills, Mr. Speaker, no problem at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, but my friend, the Minister of Finance, wherever he is -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is out trick-or-treating.

MR. ROBERTS: He is out tricking and treating already is he? I have to tell you, being Minister of Finance in this Province is a matter of more trick than treat.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, could I have just a few seconds?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this side of the House we really wish the Government House Leader much success tonight as he goes about trick-or-treating. He deserves it.

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