November 3, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLII  No. 49

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

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

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As hon. members of the House are aware, the government is currently assessing its mid-year financial position. In our March Budget we presented to the Legislature the first balanced Budget since Confederation. During the first half of the fiscal year several developments have occurred which have caused our fiscal position to deteriorate by approximately $60 million. Our net expenditures have increased by approximately $15 million while our estimated current account revenues have declined by about $45 million. This revenue shortfall results from lower federal estimates of payments under the major transfer programs, particularly equalization, and personal and corporate income taxes. Taxation and other revenue sources administered by the Province remain on target.

Mr. Speaker, this government remains committed to achieving a balance of revenues and expenditures this year as well as next. The current problem must be addressed. At the end of this month an action plan will be announced to eliminate this projected shortfall. Our objectives will be to do so without borrowing or raising taxes. To this end all departments and agencies of government have been directed to review their expenditure programs and to identify immediate savings that will offset the $60 million shortfall for this year. These actions will allow us to deal decisively with the fiscal pressures we are facing this year and contribute to achieving a balanced budget in subsequent years. These structural adjustments, combined with medium term improvements in the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, will ensure the fiscal stability of government and its ability to provide essential public programs on a sustainable basis.

Mr. Speaker, the challenges we face in Newfoundland and Labrador are not unique. With predicted slow down in our provincial economy over the next two years and increased restraint by Ottawa, we must commit ourselves to continued prudent management of our fiscal resources. This approach can only serve to strengthen our economy and the future well-being of our people. Thank you.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The first erroneous statement the minister makes here is that the government brought forward a balanced budget last year. We told them at the time it wasn't balanced, and the minister I thought was on the right track a week or so ago when he said the Budget was smoke and mirrors. He was right then, but he is starting to fall now into the ways of the former minister and pretend that it was a balanced budget which we all knew back last March certainly was not balanced and the facts now have proven themselves. I have to admit, Mr. Speaker, that I was wrong. I said last week we had a $50 million deficit but we actually have a $60 million deficit. I was being too kind to this government. I thought maybe they had been able to keep it down to $60 million.

Mr. Speaker, the problem here is going to be trying to correct this. The minister is trying to indicate that he is going to do that without borrowing or raising taxes. Now, that is a commendable approach, Mr. Speaker, but it is going to be very, very difficult to save $60 million in the next four months for this current fiscal year. If he is not going to borrow or raise taxes then he can only do two things, he can cut expenditures, and that means cutting social programs because by far the bulk of our expenditures that the minister has any kind of control over are in the social programs, health and education once again, so here is where we are going to see the people of the Province suffer, or he is going to attack the public servants. He cannot do it by lay offs because he would never get any benefits at all by laying people off immediately with severance pays and everything else. He would see no benefit this year so the minister has to be looking at a wage roll back which is about the only way that he can possibly save any amount of money.

Mr. Speaker, we are looking at a very dismal four months and we are more concerned about what we are going to see next year.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In keeping with government's commitment to reducing its expenditures I rise today to inform hon. members of our decision to begin the process of phasing out the John Cabot 1997, 500th Anniversary Corporation. It is government's intention to dissolve the corporation at the earliest possible opportunity. The planning and managing of the John Cabot 500th anniversary celebrations for 1997 will become the direct responsibility of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Mr. Speaker, this government entered into preparations for these anniversary celebrations with the anticipation of a multimillion dollar contribution from the federal government. This contribution has not materialized to the extent anticipated and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has found itself in the onerous position of fully funding this project.

In recognizing the economic realities of the day, Mr. Speaker, government has made the decision to take over the operations of the corporation in an effort to reduce government expenditures without sacrificing a successful and quality event in 1997. I would like to assure every Newfoundlander and Labradorian that we will celebrate in 1997 the 500th Anniversary of John Cabot's landfall in this Province. The work that has been accomplished by the corporation will be carried forward into the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the diligent efforts of the staff of the corporation and the volunteers who have been working to make this event a successful one.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CAREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, this government again, scuttled another ship and this one is called The Matthew, anyway this is more bad decisions and backtracking by this government which has a legacy of such efforts. This government was told, Mr. Speaker, starting two years ago about creating an entity that did not have any accountability. They were told that they should be accountable for public funds they were spending. I hope this is not a measure to get rid of some employees and replace them with the temporary Liberal employees.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking the minister today if he would make a full disclosure of the money spent to date on this co-operation.

Thank you.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Premier.

Everyone now knows that his Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture abused his ministerial position, to extort money for his district Liberal association from fisheries and farming businesses all over the Province that depend for their existence on decisions of the minister and the minister's department.

What's the Premier going to do about this? Is the Premier going to fire the minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the first thing I am going to do, is do a full assessment, and I am not prepared to judge anybody or their actions on the basis of outrageous allegations that the Opposition Leader is prepared to make.

Now, there may be substance to the claims. If there is, I will act, if there isn't, I won't but the first thing I will do is do a full and complete assessment. This was raised less than twenty-four hours ago, less than twenty hours ago. I have been doing other things, the process has started; I have had some preliminary information but I do not yet have complete information and when I do, I will deal with the matter.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Why the double standard, I ask the Premier? Why is the Premier treating his Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture differently from the treatment he afforded the current Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, when that minister transgressed a few years ago, or other members of the Premier's Cabinet and caucus, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island? Why the double standard, Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There isn't a double standard, not at all. I told the Leader of the Opposition I am having the matter assessed. I expect, certainly by Monday, I would think, that I will have complete information, enough to make a decision as to what, if anything needs to be done. Once that information is complete I will take whatever action is appropriate in the circumstance. It is not a double standard; it is following precisely the same standard.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture: Why did the minister lie to the House yesterday when I asked him whether he had used his ministerial position -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member knows full well that she cannot accuse another hon. member of lying in this House. I ask the hon. member to withdraw the statement.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw the word, `lie', which I accept, is unparliamentary. I will rephrase the question: Why did the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture mislead this House of Assembly yesterday when I asked him a straightforward question, when I asked him -


MR. W. MATTHEWS: She didn't say `deliberately' mislead - what the member said is alright - `deliberately' mislead is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member can complete her question.

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Why did the minister mislead the House yesterday when I asked him whether he had used his ministerial position to direct his ministerial staff using departmental stationary to request or solicitor funds for his District Liberal Association, this summer, from businesses all over the Province which are regulated or financed by his department? When I asked him that question yesterday, the minister, after a pause, replied, `No, I did not.'

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to her question.

MS VERGE: Why did the minister mislead the House yesterday?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I just finished telling the House that I am doing an assessment of this matter and I am not about to let the Leader of the Opposition run a kangaroo court to destroy the reputation of this minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: It is shocking behaviour, Mr. Speaker. I will do a full assessment of it and when the matter is assessed I will answer to this House and through this House to the people of the Province for what has occurred. I am specifically asking the minister to allow me an opportunity to do that and not be railroaded into this kind of a kangaroo assessment by the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A supplementary to the Premier: Premier what is there to investigate? You, with your own ears, heard the minister mislead the House yesterday. You, with your own ears, heard the minister contradict himself after I produced incriminating evidence. You, with your own eyes and ears, heard the minister on radio and television say that he indeed, out of his ministerial office, solicited funds for his District Liberal Association from businesses that his department regulates. What is there to investigate, I ask the Premier?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The full allegations will be investigated, including the Leader of the Opposition tabling a fax in the House that was concocted and put together, and not a fax that was there. Now, I do know that much, but I am not about to make a judgement on the whole matter until I have done a full assessment. When I have done a full assessment, I will report to the House, and not before.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS VERGE: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Premier to confirm that he knows about the St. George's District Liberal Association booklet, in which the Premier himself has a message, containing the paid ads from fisheries and farming businesses located all around the Province that are regulated by the minister's department.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many of those I sign a year, perhaps one for every district - I don't remember - and I sign a message in every such booklet that is done. I intend to continue to do it because it is a fair way of providing for funding for political parties.

Remember, Mr. Speaker, it was this government that brought in the legislation that cleaned up the mess the former government would not address for seventeen years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, we intend to see that it is continued in a clean and acceptable way. If anybody has transgressed an acceptable standard it will be dealt with, but I don't intend to do it by character assassination, by allegations in this House, unless and until a full assessment indicates that those allegations are valid. If they are, they will be addressed. If they are not, they will be exposed for what they are, invalid allegations.

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

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

Government has indicated its intention to build a new regional hospital for Labrador in Happy Valley - Goose Bay. Now, will the minister tell the people of Labrador what is the planned time frame to build this approximately $30 million structure, and what is delaying the architectural plan that had funding approved in last March's Budget?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm not aware that government has made a specific announcement to state an intent within any specific time to build a hospital in Labrador. What I am aware of is that government last year in the Budget process allowed some money for programming purposes.

Programming is the first of about three stages that occur in determining and eventually leading to the construction of a facility. It really only details what it is we need in a new facility in terms of the mixture of infrastructure and that sort of thing. There has been no announcement made with respect to the building of a hospital in Labrador, and I can only tell the member that when such an announcement is appropriate it will be made, and he will be amongst the first to hear it.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Wouldn't it be kind of irresponsible if you have no intentions to spend $2 million on programming, I say to the minister? Will the minister confirm that the Labrador board recently purchased a new house for its executive director?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, to the first part of the question. We have not spent $2 million on programming. We had approximately $500,000 in our budget last year, if the member would take the time to check, to cover planning for three facilities. Cover programming, that is to say, for three facilities. It was Melville, it was some additional work in the Notre Dame hospital in Twillingate, and it was also for a facility planned at Harbour Breton and the Connaigre Peninsula. The figure of $2 million is factually incorrect and I want to have the record clear on that.

As to the other question, in recent time, during the last month or two, the new Labrador health care board disposed of a property that it owned for about $97,000, $98,000 in Labrador. It sold it to one of the doctors who is working there, which is a normal thing to do if you don't have use for it. They did also purchase a property in Labrador for $182,000 for use of the new CEO who went there. I've been aware of the situation for a couple of months. It was not something that was done in the un-ordinary course of events, but given government's policy that was annunciated in 1991 which was in effect this: that beyond normal pay or normal salaries that are appropriated and applicable to positions, boards were directed not to enhance or to provide additional benefit to employees of hospital boards, that is CEOs and the like, and I had some indication that this House had been purchased and that the CEO was living there without paying the normal rent which would be the commercial rate.

I have taken the issue in hand. I have spoken to the board chair. I have discussed the issue and I have asked him to provide me with all of the information regarding the sale of the former property, the purchase of this property, the basis on which it is being used by the CEO, and I have indicated clearly to him that if it is outside of government policy that the board will be required to take appropriate action to correct that situation. You have to understand it is a new board in Labrador; they have never existed before. They were created last year. They were put in business, and I am of a comfort level that the chairman may not really have known about the policy that was enunciated in 1991 - he was not working in the health care system - but that does not make it right, and if it is outside of government policy we will address it and we will see that it is corrected. I have also directed all of the other hospital boards and CEOs to ensure that they are abiding within government policy on these very sensitive and critical matters of providing benefits that are outside of what is policy by this government.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

People in the Happy Valley - Goose Bay area have to wait from three to six months for a dental appointment, and this government is hoping to solve the shortage of doctors in rural Newfoundland by offering them from a minimum of $5,000 to a maximum of $10,000 per year. Yet, it is willing to spend almost $200,000 for a house for its executive director. I know it is important to have a capable executive director, but I ask the minister: Is this government more interested in keeping doctors in rural Newfoundland or keeping executive directors in rural Newfoundland?

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

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

I think I covered the answer to that question already. This government is not more interested in providing anything that is outside of what we would provide to everybody who works in the public service in terms of benefits or salary perks or anything else. Our priority is to provide quality health care in an efficient manner at the appropriate point of delivery at the most efficient and cost-effective way, and if any particular board or any agency of the Department of Health that is representing this government has acted either innocently or with knowledge outside of government policy, that action will be sought to be corrected, and it will be corrected, and we will do what is right and appropriate by the people of the Province, the taxpayers of the Province, and the health care system of the Province that we have primary responsibility for.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is also to the Minister of Health.

Much has been said, and a lot of comments made in the last while, concerning health care cuts in the Province. Some twenty-two beds have closed at Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, the closing of the Grace in a couple of years here in St. John's, moving the Janeway, and it goes on and on and on, but more specifically I wonder would the minister be able to tell the House and the people of the Province about the very serious problem that exists now at the Health Sciences Complex with regard to by-pass surgery?

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

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

Cardiac by-pass surgery is one of the critical programs that is delivered at the Health Sciences Complex on behalf of the Province. During the last four years this government has made available increasing amounts of money on a progressive basis to address the cardiac by-pass heart surgery program at the Health Sciences Complex. The reality is that having increased the budget last year by $800,000 to that program alone we are still facing today, or at least the last time I saw a count, a waiting list as long as, if not greater than, it was before we put the extra resources into the program. The CEO and the appropriate people at the Health Sciences have asked independent analysts in the health care system to come in from Ontario, I believe, two individuals, to assist the basis and criteria on which that program is operating.

It is not readily apparent that what is happening is a norm or should be the situation at the moment. When you put extra money toward a program normally it seeks to address the need and reduce waiting lists. I can tell the hon. member that at the moment the program for cardiac surgery at the Health Sciences is running at a level of about 10 per cent higher in terms of procedures then say the Province of New Brunswick.

So we have a concern as to number one, why we are probably doing as many as, if not more than the normal number of procedures per capita. If we find out that we indeed need to dedicate more resources to that program, in the interest of quality health care, we will address that situation in the most timely fashion. I have had no request for additional funding from the Health Care Corporation to address that program. I have to tell him again that the program is under review and we are as concerned about it as you or anybody else in the community. It is not acceptable to have people waiting an undue length of time but we do acknowledge that in all programs there is some length of waiting time.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The minister has admitted that there is a real serious problem at the Health Sciences Complex and in this Province, as a whole, with regards to bypass surgery in this Province. I have constituents on the West Coast of the Province, the Northern Peninsula and other areas of the Province, travelling to St. John's for such surgery, only to be told after five minutes in the office that they must go home, there is no room at the inn. Mr. Speaker, the minister has admitted that there is a problem. Why spend more money on consultants? Why doesn't he put money into this program to have something done about this very serious problem? Now, would the minister tell the House that any bypass surgery, and explain to the House, any bypass surgery is considered an emergency? Why should doctors at the Health Sciences Complex play God and pick and choose who is going to have surgery day after day after day? Could the minister explain that to the House?

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: The hon. member makes the assertion that every candidate who is on the list of 180-200 for surgery is an emergency. I guess, depending on your definition of emergency, that may be a reasonable assumption but there is a prioritization of waiting lists in hospitals for all types of surgery and they range from things that have to be done today, because of a circumstance that occurred, that some people can wait for a little bit of time further down the line.

What I have said to the member is that we have put extra resources into the program. We have increased the numbers of procedures such that this year we will do 420 procedures. Two years ago we were doing in the mid-300 procedures and not withstanding the extra dedication of resources we have put into the cardiac program, we have longer waiting lists. We are doing more work that appears to be beyond the norm on a national average basis, so we need to address that. Criteria for all surgical programs always need to be re-evaluated when there is a significant change in either the volume that is going through the system or the number of cases that are being put on the list. Probably we are not as healthy as we were. It may have something to do with the aging population but whatever the reason is, if there is a need for dedicated resources, the Health Care Corporation will come to us, I am sure, and ask for those resources. We will address it in as timely and as appropriate a fashion as is reasonable to do.

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

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

The minister has admitted to the House this morning that there is a very serious problem with regard to bypass surgery at the hospital. He did not mention the numbers put I say to the minister that there is somewhere in the vicinity of 200, probably 200 plus, people waiting in the Province for bypass surgery. The physical pain, Mr. Speaker, can be addressed through other means. The mental and psychological pain cannot be addressed. I have people in my district - more specifically, Mr. Speaker, maybe today on Midday I think CBC has done an interview with some people across this country and especially in the Province that will be aired today, I think on Midday concerning this problem. Would the minister now stand in his place and tell the House, the people of this Province and the people who are out there waiting for such surgery - he has admitted that he has identified the problem, he knows it exists - tell the people of the Province and the people who are waiting for this surgery, this most important, as far as I am concerned, emergency surgery, that he will do something in the very near future, not wait for consultants to bring in a report or anything else. Those people do not want a consultant to tell them that they may only have so long to live. The minister should act now on this very serious problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the health care system in the Province, for the most part, is run by health care professionals. We do have administrators who may not be doctors and that type of thing but have great capabilities, but in all situations, we defer in the first instance, to the good, sound and credible advice that physicians offer us and give us in the health care system, and as I have said to the minister, I have described the increased resources we have put into the program; I have admitted and acknowledged that there is still a significant waiting list whether it is 180 or 200 it varies, but that's an aside almost; there is a waiting list and if it is inappropriate we will take the action that is recommended to us by the people who deliver the services in the health care system and we will defer and we will seek the direction of the medical people and the administrative people in the Health Care Corporation of St. John's to address this problem.

I indicate and underline again, that they have not come seeking additional resources. They do have a concern that notwithstanding the considerable amount of extra resources we have put into the program, the list continues to grow and the number of people who are getting procedures continues to increase each year and we have to do what is appropriate, we will do what is appropriate to address our needs on a reasonable and a proper basis.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Minister of Education and Training, I will direct a question to the Premier.

The President of Memorial University has said publicly over the last few days that he would like the provincial government to stagger budget cuts over a three-year period to soften the blow on the university.

I would like to ask the Premier: has there been a formal request to government to spread the cuts over a three-year period or, has there been any discussion between government and the university along those lines?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: In the absence of the Minister of Education and Training, Mr. Speaker, I can only say I am not sure if there has been that kind of conversation; I can only say to you that the proposal hasn't been brought to my attention. I too saw the comments and it would be nice to stagger things over three years if you can control them. We can't control our shortfall of revenue. We can't control the federal government's reduction of EPF transfers from which the university is in part at least, funded. To the extent that we can stagger it, we are happy to stagger it but I suspect what we will be doing as far as the university is concerned, is essentially flowing through the reductions that the federal government has made, would just simply flow right through, and we don't have the financial resources to make up the difference and pay, in addition to what we have to pay anyway, the shortfall that the federal government is causing.

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

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

Dr. May's reasoning for the suggestion is that they need a sufficient period of time to redesign the university, I guess recognizing that we are looking at a smaller university, leaner and more efficient. I am wondering, has government had any discussions with the university administration along the lines of redesigning of smaller, leaner, more efficient or, if it hasn't, would there be an initiative taken by the Minister of Education and Training soon, to get talks started with the university's administration, with the CSU and with MUNFA along those lines of redesigning MUN so that it is viable, affordable, accessible for future generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the one thing that the hon. member can be sure of is that the government will co-operate fully with the university to assist the university in coping with the shortfall of funds so as to cause the least possible adverse impact. The university is very much aware of that and there have been discussions along those lines.

Now whether or not they have been specific discussions on the specific point, I can't say at this moment. I will have to wait until I speak with the Minister of Education and Training.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: A final supplementary to the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago or I think last week sometime I raised a question of a suggested task force, made up of all interested parties to look at the university and to work towards a solution.

I am wondering, can the Premier inform the House, whether or not there has been any further thought given to that concept of a task force or a working group, comprising all interested parties to look at the future of Memorial University.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I believe that's the course that has been suggested by the head of the Students Union, and a meeting is being set up. I don't know if is arranged yet with the head of the Students Union, Mr. Thornhill. I was speaking with him very briefly, at convocation I believe on Friday last and a meeting is being arranged with Mr. Thornhill at his request. That matter will be addressed; his proposition will be addressed then. I don't see that as a likely solution to the financial problem that is imminent, that is looming right away.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. On many occasions we've heard the Premier and the Minister of ITT and other government members refer to the hundreds of communities spread over hundreds of miles of coastline in this Province. I would like to ask the minister, how many of these communities have no official community status as they are not local service districts or community service districts? Can the minister give me an approximate number if not an exact number?

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

MR. REID: It would have to be an approximate number, Mr. Speaker. There are approximately 800 communities in the Province, and out of that 800 approximately 420 to 480, I believe, I'm not sure of the figure, are either incorporated or local service districts, which are not incorporated. Now when I say incorporated I mean community councils as well as town councils.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Therefore, Mr. Speaker, it may be somewhere around 300 communities around this Province. I didn't think it was that high a number, but maybe up to 300 communities in this Province which have no local status as a local service district or as a community council.

Is it true that, for example, for community water service programs, that these communities, because they have no local status, can't even apply for such funding as community water service to improve their water system? Is that true, I would like to ask the minister.

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

MR. REID: My hon. friend behind me tells me that there are some communities that have some, not incorporated, recognized, but they are operated by boards. Not even an LSD situation, but are operated by community water boards or garbage collection boards. Basically all they are as communities -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. REID: No they can't. The answer is no, there is absolutely no way. I think the last time if I remember correctly that any of those non-incorporated communities could apply was back, I think, in Mr. Smallwood's day. That was done away with back, it must have been, in the early 1970s or late 1960s.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, from my information there are at least 100, maybe 110 communities that have no boards, no local service district, nothing. A case in point, and in referring to Mr. Smallwood's time, the community of Purbeck's Cove in my district, which is one of these 110 communities at least, have applied for $3,100 to put in a water line. The last time they got money, by the way, was in 1968 when they received $800 from Mr. Smallwood's government. At least they recognized them. Now, just recently, they applied for $3,100 to get the basic need of water in this Province, and I'm wondering how many more of these 110 communities - they were told by the minister's department not even to bother to apply because they are not even existing as far as the government is concerned.

I tell the minister that these are communities, people still live there. What will be their fate in years to come we don't know, nobody knows, but they still are people in this Province. Is this another form of resettlement? Isn't this the truth, that 110 communities have been totally abandoned by this department and this government?

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

MR. REID: Totally abandoned by this government? If that is the definition that the hon. member wishes to make he must also say not only totally abandoned by this government, but totally abandoned by successive governments since 1969. From what you said a few minutes ago.

Mr. Speaker, totally abandoned -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. REID: Any community in this Province that wishes to incorporate, any community in this Province that wishes to introduce the local service district, all it has to do is make the request to me as the minister, to this government. I haven't seen one that was turned down yet, I haven't seen one, not since I've been minister. In the twenty years I've had in municipal government I don't know of one. Maybe my hon. friend for Mount Pearl can name one, but I don't know one that has ever been turned down.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with this of course is not that these people have been abandoned. This group of people that he is referring to are looking for community services. They are not willing to unite to form a town council. They are not willing to pay taxes that would pay for that particular line. If the bill is only $4000 then why would we, or why would the hon. member expect the government and the rest of the people of Newfoundland to pay $4000 towards -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl on a point of order.

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

A couple of days ago Your Honour brought me to task on some unparliamentary language, and quite properly, and referred me to Section 494 of Beauchesne, and, of course, in accordance with that I withdrew those remarks. That Section 494 says, "no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible" by a member. That is quite clear, Mr. Speaker, and, Your Honour, you were quite correct in your ruling.

Yesterday, and again today, during questioning from the Leader of the Opposition on the matter of gross misconduct on the part of the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, the Premier implied on two occasions - yesterday and again today - that the documents that the Leader of the Opposition had provided which show this gross misconduct had somehow been changed or `concocted', I believe, was the word he used. Mr. Speaker, that clearly implies that the Leader of the Opposition was producing falsified documents to the House of Assembly. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a very serious charge, to impugn that the Leader of the Opposition was producing falsified information, obviously, deliberately falsified information. In accordance with Section 494, as Your Honour quite correctly ruled a couple of days ago, it is totally unparliamentary and not permissible in this House or any other House.

The fact of the matter is, the documents that the Leader of the Opposition tabled did have the names removed before they were photocopied, to protect those people who had provided the information, because those people are quite sure of very serious recriminations from this government, particularly from the Premier. Anybody who would dare to cross the Premier will feel his wrath in due course, you may rest assured, and obviously, we could not provide to the House the names of the people from whom we were able to receive these documents. But as far as the Leader of the Opposition knows, at least, Mr. Speaker, the documents that were provided to her were tabled intact, unchanged - with that exception. And the Premier tries to go on with a whole bunch of foolishness about the fact that on one occasion the name of the original sending fax machine is on the side. It is simply a matter in which, when you send something, you turn it sideways or you put it forward; that is all. That dictates which side the fax comes out on. The Premier should have a lesson in how to use a fax machine.

This is a very serious matter. This is implying that the Leader of the Opposition is tabling falsified documents, and I ask your Honour to direct the Premier to withdraw those remarks forthwith.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have undertaken to do a full assessment of this question and report to the House. The Opposition is not satisfied; they want to run a kangaroo court now.

I was simply explaining, and I don't suggest for one moment, and did not suggest yesterday or today, that the Opposition Leader knew it. I expect she has been taken in by it as well. That is the only position I take. I don't suggest for a moment, and don't imply for a moment, that she had anything to do with producing a fax that had two pages numbered 2 in it - two pages number 2.

MR. WINDSOR: Two documents.

PREMIER WELLS: It is clearly not -

MR. WINDSOR: Two separate documents.

PREMIER WELLS: It is clearly not the fax as it was originally sent. Some are on the side, some are across the top. It looks like... I know I can tell the House, if they want, exactly to whom the fax was sent and where it came from - it was fairly easy to find it out - and that is part of the investigation. That has been found out. All of that will be disclosed to the House in due course, but I have made no implication whatsoever against the Leader of the Opposition. She has been taken in by this concoction, too, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will take the point of order raised under advisement. Am I to understand that the Premier is saying he is not accusing anybody of falsifying documents, and do I understand, if that is implied, that you are withdrawing it?

PREMIER WELLS: It never was implied. It was (inaudible) -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I never did, and I have no basis for doing it, suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition tabled anything that she knew was put together wrong. I never did. I don't suggest it now, and I never suggested it before.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will take the point raised by the member under advisement and have a look at Hansard.

Before we proceed, on a number of occasions during Question Period today and on some other occasions, members are, I guess, using language that probably is not conducive to good decorum and order in the House. I remind hon. members, it has been consistently ruled that language used in the House should be temperate and worthy of the place in which it is spoken. No language is, by virtue of any list, acceptable or unacceptable, and a word which is parliamentary in one context may cause disorder in another context and therefore be unparliamentary. I noticed that on a number of occasions today there were members who were using words that, I guess, are inflammatory, not conducive to good debate, and I ask hon. members to take this into consideration and to be careful with language in this House because we have to maintain good order and decorum here.

Again, I am just asking hon. members' co-operation here, and if it continues, of course, the Chair will have to take further action.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to table the report of the Social Services Legislation Review Committee. The Committee reviewed and approved for passage, without amendment, Bill 34, "An Act To Amend The Children's Law Act" and Bill 27, "An Act To Amend The Waste Disposal Act And The Summary Proceedings Act."

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman, the Member for Green Bay has taken us aback. This must be the first day he hasn't had a petition to present, whatever that may portend.

Your Honour, when we adjourned yesterday, or when we went into the Late Show proceedings yesterday, my learned friend, the Member for St. John's East was giving us a disquisition, as I recollect. I know the hon. gentleman was finished, but he did adjourn the debate I say, Mr. Speaker, and if he doesn't rise, fine.

I ask Your Honour, anyway, to call Order 17 which is the bill my hon. friend was addressing, and if he doesn't want to carry on there may be other members who wish to speak. We will then go on to Bill No. 27, which is Order No. 20. My friend, the Minister of Environment will deal with that, and if we get through that we will go on to Order No. 11, which is the Tobacco Control Act that my friend, the Minister of Health will introduce, the Tobacco Control Act amendments, and should we get beyond that, I understand that my friend the Minister of Finance, the Member for Mount Pearl, and the Member for St. John's East have put their heads together and overruled me, and instead of doing the Credit Union Act which is a bill I gather they would prefer to deal with another day, should we get that far, we will deal with Order 22 which is Bill No. 25, amendments to the Public Service Pension Act, And The Uniformed Services Pension Act. If that is in order, Your Honour, would you be good enough, please, to call Order 17, Bill No. 34, the debate adjourned by my friend, the Member for St. John's East.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are we going to do Bill No. 28 on Monday?

MR. ROBERTS: We are going to do the Regulatory Reform Bill on Monday and I expect that will take the greater part of the day.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Although I did adjourn debate yesterday, I had, in fact, concluded my remarks and expressed by support for the principle behind the bill, so I will take my seat and allow other hon. members to speak to that particular bill. Despite the calls for me to continue with my remarks, I will pass and defer to some hon. member opposite who wishes to speak.

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

MR. HODDER: I am very pleased to rise and support the intent of this particular piece of legislation. It, of course, amends the Children's Law Act by inserting the phrase, `a grandparent of the child,' and as a grandparent of two young children, I am pleased to endorse this particular amendment to this particular act of the Legislature, The Children's Law Act.

A couple of the comments that I have would perhaps be taken in the context of giving some comment to the furtherance of the act itself and to the definitions. I do notice that in the notes that the minister has supplied it says: giving grandparents of a child the right to apply to a court to obtain custody or access to a child. On the other hand, I look at the definitions to the Children's Law Act and I don't find there precise definitions of the word "custody," for example.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) common law (inaudible).

MR. HODDER: I know in other pieces of legislation, it is more precisely written down. For example, the word "custody" is defined in the children's act of the Yukon Territory as follows. It says:

"`Custody' in relation to a child, includes the right to care and nurturance of the child, the right to consent to medical treatment for the child, the right to consent to the adoption or the marriage of the child, and the responsibilities concomitant with those rights, including the duty of supporting the child and of ensuring that the child is appropriately clothed, fed, educated and disciplined, and supplied with the other necessaries of life and a good upbringing."

I note that our piece of legislation for this Province does not give that kind of definition. The same thing would apply to the 1990 act in Nova Scotia, called `An Act Respecting Services To Children And Their Families, to the protection of children and adoption. Again, there are definitions of the word "custody." I just say to the House that if we are going to amend the legislation here, the Children's Law Act, to give the right of grandparents to apply to a court for custody or access, it might be appropriate if we were to define the word "custody" and to define the word "access," and the word "guardianship". Because these are terms that, probably, although they are contained, as the minister has said, in the common law proceedings, it would be clearer to the members of the general public and perhaps to the legal community as well, if these things were more precisely defined. Certainly, other jurisdictions have defined these terms.

Also, there is the question of who is a parent. Some of the readings I have had in the last little while draw some statements relative to who is a parent - meaning, of course, if you can't define who a parent is, then you have difficulty finding the rights of a grandparent. In some cases, dealing with matters that - for example, when we talk about artificial insemination, we talk about the genetic mother or the gestational mother, and these things are talked about in various sections of the Children's Law Act in Newfoundland. There is a process there to go and clarify it in a court. However, these things again are not clearly spelled out, not only just in the Newfoundland legislation, but in some of the other legislation as well.

Also, in section 3(1) it talks, in this act, about natural parents. Again, the expression "natural parents" is not defined. Consequently, we have difficulty in deciding whether or not the - if the term is not defined it might cause difficulty in its interpretation. That is my only point in raising that. Also, the rights of parents, where the parent is declared mentally or physically unable to raise a child probably needs to be defined again. As the minister has said, there are common law practices that govern that kind of thing.

The other thing I wanted to mention is also the expression that is in section 25, part 3 of the Children's Law Act, the last sentence in subsection (a) where it says: that the purpose of the act is to be determined on the basis of the best interest of children. I have read some commentary on that, however, the act we have here does not say what is indeed the best interest of children. On the other hand, if you were to look at some other legislation, again I refer to the new piece of legislation that has been adopted for the Yukon Territory and the one for Nova Scotia, and these expressions are more clearly defined; in fact, the whole philosophy of the act is contained in what we call substantive preambles and the intent is to make the act more understandable to members of the general public and also of course to make it easier to interpret in court when you have the preambles indicating that the intent is fully expressed and is fully communicated before you get into the details of the various sections and articles.

Mr. Speaker, with example in the case of the Nova Scotia legislation, we find that there are, I think, fourteen clauses that define what is meant by the best interest of the child, and when we are talking about accessing guardianship, whether it be by parents or whether it be by grandparents, we have to look at the one clause in the Newfoundland legislation, section 25 of part 3, subsection (a), where it is just one sentence and yet, in other pieces of legislation, we have substantive commentary on what you mean by the best interest of the child. I won't read all of these commentaries but a good bit of it is contained in various parts of the Newfoundland legislation, but it might do well for us to kind of put it together and have it all collated so that it is clearly identified and again means for easier interpretation.

Mr. Speaker, with these comments I am very pleased to support this particular piece of legislation. In many cases I am sure that it would be beneficial to the child to have the rights of the grandparents recognized in legislation; again if it is in the best interests of the child to have grandparents have certain rights to apply for custody, for access, for guardianship, then certainly this would mean that this piece of legislation is progressive, it's a statement of reality, and in society where families are sometimes very dispersed from one part of the country to another, and also given the nature that families are not as cohesive together as they used to be.

One time it was assumed that grandmother or grandfather would take part in the raising of a child and have a substantive role, nowadays, because of the fact that families move and also in some cases, because of the nature of society, grandparents do not always have either access or they sometimes can't have it because of sheer distance in geography, but in some other cases, there are circumstances which arise that maybe would not have arisen many years ago but nowadays, they would lead to a child and his grandparent or her grandparent not having access to each other.

Again, Mr. Speaker, the intent is what is best for the interest of the child and I don't think anybody in this House would deny that if it is in the best interest of the child to have access, to have the guardianship to be in the custody of a grandparent, then that's the way it should be, and I commend the minister and his department for bringing forward this piece of legislation. It is not a lengthy piece but it can have substantive influence on the lives of so many of our young children in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as much as I might want to hear my learned friend from St. John's East speak again, I can tell him that there is even less enthusiasm for that then there would be for my making a lengthy speech.

I want to thank the two members who spoke in the debate. I want to acknowledge their support and tell them I appreciate it. I believe this - well this is not a usually important bill in the overall structure of the universe. I think it has merit in its own right and I appreciate their support. With that said, sir, I commend it to the House and ask that it be read a second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Children's Law Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 34)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you. Could we now go on, Mr. Speaker, and ask my friend the Minister of Environment to deal with Order 20, which is Bill No. 27.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act And The Summary Proceedings Act". (Bill No. 27)

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

MR. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This bill is a bill to introduce a fine for littering in the Province. For a number of years we have had an identified problem and there has been a number of efforts to deal with the littering problem, the littering question. It was decided last year by government, through the Department of Environment, to look at a fine for a littering offence, to make it ticketable and make it an offence. Hopefully, that would reinforce to the general public the idea that this is not the behaviour that we want to see occur, that we want to support the idea of environmental efforts, the efforts for environmental cleanup, the efforts for recycling and in keeping our wonderful place, that we have in this Province, clean and keeping the roadways clean and so on.

This year also, only in the last few months, the Adopt a Highway Program was brought forward by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation along with our department, Environment. This is also a further effort to get volunteer groups and organizations involved in the activity of protecting the environment around the Province. That program is creating a lot of good interest from organizations out there. I believe the first one was out in the member's district, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation district -

MR. EFFORD: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs district.

MR. AYLWARD: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs district, I am told. It was a Loin's Club I believe. I am told it was a Loin's Club that undertook the responsibility. Works, Services and Transportation are providing some of the equipment and garbage bags, a whole range of things, signage, I believe, to also highlight the organizations that are out helping clean up the environment. So that Adopt a Highway Program we think is going to go a long way.

A number of organizations have inquired at both our offices looking for information. We expect over the next year to two years that we are going to see a whole range of Adopt a Highway Programs across our Province. That again will help in the total effort, in the overall effort to help keep the Province clean and to deal with some of the waste problems that we have. This bill will again assist in bringing - it will bring a deterrent forward, one that you would hope that you would not have to but in some cases you have to because there are a few people out there who decide to ignore some of the rules that we have in place. This will help, I think, reinforce the idea that it is not acceptable to throw litter around the Province, around the highways of the Province or around anywhere in this Province. So we think that this will help a great deal. The fine is in the order of twenty-five dollars and the second offence is $100, so I think it is a deterrent to people.

The other thing that I want to highlight, Mr. Speaker, is the waste reduction efforts that have been undertaken in the last year to two years. Paper waste recycled in this Province last year, 13,000 metric tons; glass waste recycled 56 metric tons; 225 tons of aluminium cans were recycled in 1994; car wrecks, 36,000 tons were crushed or shredded and recycled, Mr. Speaker, 36,000 tons. This means that 40,000 car wrecks were diverted from landfills. Previous to the last three or four years, car wrecks would be going into landfills, they would be causing environmental problems, (inaudible) problems in landfills. We see some of the remnants of that today in some of our landfills. But in the last three or four years a major effort has been under way to get car wrecks cleaned up. Also, I believe, the previous Minister of Environment had brought forward a piece of legislation to deal with car wrecks. We have seen a lot of car wrecks cleaned up. We still have a ways to go, but a great deal of work has been done.

I was talking, as a matter of fact, to a development association only about two weeks ago. They told me they had cleaned up 400 car wrecks over the summer. It is really something else!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. AYLWARD: Yes, 1,400. We had 400 by one development association in a geographic area. A number of them have gotten very heavily involved locally in making sure that their local situations are dealt with and attempts are made. But this is happening around the Province.

I was out to Argentia and visited the recycling operation out there where they are recycling car wrecks. Car wrecks are brought in. There are about twenty people working in the recycling of car wrecks now. A few years ago people wouldn't have thought that was an opportunity, but it is working out fairly well and we are seeing the clean-up of an environmental problem but we are also seeing an opportunity created in an environmental industry, and that is working out fairly well. So, as we add this bill to the list of other initiatives in dealing with environmental matters, we think it will go a long way; we believe it will go a long way, given the overall effort, in reinforcing to the general public that we need to continuously be cognizant of what we create in waste.

Batteries - 296 tons were diverted from disposal sites and recycled. Grocery bags - 548 tons were recycled in 1994. It goes on. Metals - Nova Recycling has two processing plants now in the Province, at St. John's and Stephenville. They have a number of depot operations around the Province. Two hundred and fifty schools are now involved in recycling programs in this Province, and that says a lot for the teachers of the Province who have gotten them very involved in their school systems. I visited a number of them, and I am sure that a number of MHAs in this House of Assembly have been invited to their schools and have been shown or have been given some indication of the level of awareness and action taken by students. It is very impressive the number of school operations that have initiated a recycling type of operation, recycling depots that they put next to their schools, a whole range of activities that schools have gotten involved in, and that has come about a great deal through the teachers in the Province, who deserve to be commended, and the school administrators who have gotten involved, parents in the local area who have decided to take on this task and to build in a local area what is possible to do.

The Member for LaPoile - we were down to his district and I believe the name of the school, is it St. James?

AN HON. MEMBER: Grandy's River.

MR. AYLWARD: Grandy's River Collegiate, I think it is. They were given a national award for environmental awareness for one of the leading schools in Canada, all across the nation, for environmental awareness, environmental initiatives. It is amazing what they have been able to do in a small community, but with the help of their teachers and the help of school administrators and so on, and local people, parents and so on, the amount of work being done is really something else to see.

When you look at our rural population, it is hard to bring in an expensive system of trying to deal with the collection of items, so it is going to take a lot of effort, a combination of effort of both local -

MR. EFFORD: Effort and Aylward.

MR. AYLWARD: Effort and Aylward - a lot of local effort, anyway.

It has taken a lot of effort by a lot of people in areas where there is not a whole lot of money to do this, but a lot of effort is being put in place by, I say, the schools systems and the youth of the Province who are really interested in this issue, very, very, interested.

We are looking at initiating a Round Table in different parts of the Province, periodically going and meeting with local youth. I have done it once so far, and I am going to be doing it again shortly, just to get their ideas about the environment, and some of the things that we could do, all of us collectively and as a government, how we could see some changes happen. We need to do more of that, but we are doing that now and initiating that.

The other group I would like to highlight also is Evergreen Recycling depots here in the St. John's/Mount Pearl area, two depots in the west end, and they plan to open one in the east end of the city this Fall. Evergreen is operated by the Waterford Hospital Foundation. Their clients of the hospital sort recyclables, among other work activities, and are part of a productive and revenue-producing work environment. Clients receive a wage for their work and revenues for hospital programs and services - a very positive program.

I had a meeting with the Evergreen group just a little while ago. They are working diligently. They will have, I expect, another depot open in the very short term, I hear, in the East End and they are doing an amazing amount of work. They are helping people who are trying to improve themselves medically. They are providing a work-related experience for these people and it is working really well. It has been a major success. When you talk about partnerships in the private sector, the volunteer sector and the public sector, we have an example there of that working extremely well and helping with the overall collection efforts of the Province.

I was also provided with, from the Member for St. John's East, a copy of an article, just last week, I believe, of a group which is helping with local recycling by offering a household service to pick up your waste at your house, a separation of - recycling articles and so on. I think Atlantic Blue is the name of the company, recycling service. So there are small operations starting up. Entrepreneurs are looking at opportunities in the recycling area, and that is starting to expand a fair bit and it is coming together quite well.

Government has also right now just about finalized - we are looking at a further business plan for the recycling effort of the Province. We have been negotiating with the CIPSI organization - the Canadian Industry Packaging Stewardship Initiative group. We have had a two-year agreement with them where they have been helping assist Nova Recycling, but also doing some advertising, an anti-litter campaign across the Province. We have looked at further, though, the business plan that we want to see happen in this Province for recycling, the whole effort, and we are going to be coming forward with some recommendations within a few days, in the next couple of weeks, actually, for government to look at further as to where do we go from here.

We have to have an effective effort in this Province and we have to have the industry which creates most of the waste in this Province paying for it. We have been trying to negotiate an agreement. We have had difficulty getting a full agreement.

MR. HARRIS: No more success with them than you had with Churchill.

MR. AYLWARD: I say to the Member for St. John's East that we are moving forward shortly. We have had a lot of progress made so far in the overall effort on the recycling side. A great deal of progress has been made in the last twenty-four months. This bill highlights the fact that it will be - it is part of the overall effort, that by having a fine or a $25 penalty for littering, we believe it will help reinforce dealing with people who unfortunately do this offence around the Province. It is only a few people but it will help reinforce, Mr. Speaker, the idea that we don't want to see this happen in this Province.

It is extremely important for tourism that we have as clean an environment as possible. This is part of the overall plan that we - and a number of initiatives. As I said, we will be bringing forward further initiatives very shortly in getting the packaging industry to help deal with and get the volume of the collection effort up where it should be. We have been discussing with Nova Recycling how that could be put in place in a better way. As a matter of fact, only in the last two weeks. We are in the final throes of that and we are bringing a further plan to Cabinet in the next few weeks.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to hearing any thoughts or suggestions from the members opposite.

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

MR. MACKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let's deal first with what is in the bill. This piece of legislation, in itself, is fairly brief and straightforward. Clause 1 amends the Waste Material Disposal Act basically to broaden the application of the act to include littering.

The Explanatory Notes attached to the bill state: "Clause 1 of this Bill would amend the Waste Material Disposal Act to create a distinct penalty for the wrongful deposit of waste material in the form of litter. The amendment would also provide for late payment penalties." The bill effectively defines unlawful littering as the positive waste material in a place other than at a waste material disposal site for which a certificate has been issued, or in a receptacle or container placed or located specifically for the purpose of collection.

If we are going to distinguish unlawful littering as an offence then it seems to me that we do not want litter lying around in places other than waste material sites or waste receptacles. We do not want litter along the sides of our highways, in parks or wilderness areas, or we do not want litter in our streets, sidewalks, public places, and front yards.

Mr. Speaker, waste material is defined quite broadly in Subsection 2 (n) of the Waste Material Disposal Act, and it means refuse, garbage, rubbish, litter, scrap, and other discarded materials, including tailings, offal, machinery, products, vehicles and other articles which are dumped, discarded, abandoned, or otherwise disposed of; (2) a material or thing that may be a danger to the health of human beings, animals, wildlife, or fish, or is of unsightly appearance, and a substance designated as waste material in the regulations.

Now, this is a pretty broad definition and no doubt applies to everything from abandoned rusting vehicles, burnt down buildings on the highways, chip bags, bar wrappers, shopping bags, fast-food containers, beer bottles and even soft drink cans.

AN HON. MEMBER: And even Ministerial Statements.

MR. MACKEY: The minister might like to comment on whether it applies to cigarette butts, chewing gum, apple cores, and pet droppings, all of which can fit within the definition of waste material, all set out in the act.

Mr. Speaker, I am not raising these things to be facetious, but rather to underline my next point. It will be a challenge to enforce these provisions in the context of littering. Police officers will have the authority to deal with it, if they encounter littering or if littering is reported to them, private citizens will have the power to stop their fellow-citizens from littering, it will draw attention to the issue of littering and perhaps serve as somewhat of a deterrent to those who might otherwise consider littering.

If it cuts down on littering, even a little, perhaps it is worth it. Government, of course, must always be careful that the restrictions they impose on their citizens are justified. If there are ways to accomplish the same ends other than such restrictions some would say these alternatives are preferable. Of course, few would defend the right to litter, especially in Newfoundland and Labrador where the litter problem is serious, but how far will authorities go with enforcing these powers as they pertain to littering? Will we have convictions on what would be considered the lesser end of the littering spectrum? If people are allowed to get away with dropping a chip bag here, or a gum wrapper there without penalty, then would this not bring the entire legislation into ill-repute and make it a subject of ridicule? Would people simply ignore it? There is little point of having a law in the books if there is neither the intention, nor the means, of enforcing it to a reasonable degree.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is: Do we have the policing capacity to enforce this legislation to a reasonable degree? Again, how much will it cost in administration associated with enforcing this legislation? Will it demand the hiring of additional personnel? What other costs are associated with the enforcement? What about the cost associated with people appealing their convictions? What additional burden will this place on the system? Has government determined whether these monies could be better spent on measures other than the one under consideration now? Would the minister tell us, whether and how he concluded a more intensive education program would not be preferable? Would he tell us whether and how he determined that an expanded recycling program would be better? Would he tell us whether and how he determined an increase in funding for municipal waste programs would not be better than the legislation we have today?

Mr. Speaker, everyone wants to clean up our litter problem but it makes sense to do it right. The bill seeks to impose penalties for unlawful littering offences. For a first offence, the fine will be twenty-five dollars. For subsequent offences, the fine will be $100. These are hefty fines, hefty enough that one trusts the government will do a very good job in publicizing the new rules before they come into effect. People are not to be littering in the first place, but they do have a right to know and government has the responsibility to inform them that there are steep penalties for littering. It is usual, of course, that people who are in default of payment of their fines be imprisoned for a period of time. One can expect, Mr. Speaker, if this legislation is enforced to the letter, that many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians hard hit by the economic downturn will be forced into what is, in effect, a pauper's prison.

I note that the government has written what may be called a little leniency into the bill allowing people sixty days to pay their fine and tacking on a late payment fee of 25 per cent or 40 per cent of the original fine if sixty days has passed. These are tough measures but I am sure the minister weighed that fact in drafting the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister spell out for the House what will happen in the case of minors who litter? Will the minister indicate how he arrived at the fine amounts of twenty-five dollars and $100? Did he calculate the amounts by balancing the need to make the deterrent significant against the recognition that penalties must not be unduly severe? Did he take Newfoundlanders' economic circumstances into consideration? Are the figures in any way based on the projected cost of administering the new rules?

Mr. Speaker, Clause 2, according to the bill's Explanatory Notes, simply amends the summary proceedings act to permit the initiation of prosecution of persons wrongfully depositing waste material in the form of litter by the use of the summary offence ticket. But, does this bill truly create new restrictions and new penalties? Would the minister - who is noticeably absent - indicate whether, in this case, even without this bill, it is an offence to litter in this Province and there is a fine associated with being convicted on this offence?

The act goes on to say, in Section 23, as amended in 1992, that a person who violates this act or the regulations or the conditions of a certificate or who violates an order made by the minister under Subsection 17, paragraph 2, or Section 19, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $500,000 for every day or part of a day during which the offence occurs or continues. Mr. Speaker, before the act was amended in 1992, the maximum fine was $2,000 but even under the amended act there is leeway in choosing the minimum amount of the fine and deciding whether a clean-up is required. Does not the amendment have the effect of excluding litterers from the provisions of the existing Section 23? The amendment begins: `Notwithstanding Section 23...' Doesn't the act already prescribe littering and establish penalties potentially greater than the ones set out in this bill? Why then is this amendment needed? What more does it do? Is this a cosmetic change or a substantive addition? After having dealt with what's in the bill and the justification for the bill, we need to turn to the implications of the government's decision to pursue this amendment.

Let me read from the Liberal campaign 1989, policy manual, page 10: A Liberal government will ensure that the laws are in place that will prevent a massive pollution resulting from the indiscriminate disposal of non-biodegradable and non-reusable beverage containers. People were expecting returnable bottle legislation. In the 1992 Throne Speech, the government said they had and I quote: become increasingly concerned with the problem of general litter and specifically the extent to which beverage containers contribute to this problem. They said, and again I quote, Mr. Speaker: Government intends to act definitively with the introduction this session, of legislation to control the use of disposable packaging in general, and specifically to reduce littering of beverage containers and to encourage their recycling where economically feasible.

Mr. Speaker, the former environment minister was filmed on CBC in 1992 saying, in response to a question about introducing returnable soft drink bottle legislation, and again I quote the minister as saying: We would be the last Province in Canada to institute such a policy as I think that it is very, very important that we do this, and again, Mr. Speaker, that promise was repeated in 1993.

Newfoundlanders remember the commitment that the government made prior to the May 1993 general election, to introduce returnable bottle legislation as a measure to help remedy Newfoundland's litter problem. In fact, it was evident under consideration even on May 28, 1993 and let me quote the former Minister of Environment as saying, Mr. Speaker, she stated in a question in the House on that day and I quote: Yes, we are looking at regulations now to control the use of beverages containers and the deposit system is one of the methods that we are looking at.

The Opposition welcomed that news, but in the summer of 1993, with the election behind them, the government flip-flopped on their promise announcing they were shelving the legislation and replacing it with an anti-litter campaign, funded in part by the Canadian Soft Drink Association on behalf of the soft drink companies and it cost I believe, a half-million dollars a year over four years. Consumers of course, have borne that cost, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, a government official admitted in a CBC interview at the time, certainly I think, it is fair to say that there was an intensive lobbying effort. There is no question, and I think all governments across the country have experienced that. Mr. Speaker, the minister at the time, said something very interesting in announcing the ad campaign. She was quoted in the media as saying: This program will be run by the soft drink association and the other group and we will monitor it and set certain targets and time frames. If those are not met, then we will go back to our original idea which is a deposit-refunding system.

MR. SULLIVAN: And she stated that in November on tv, she is going with the return of the bottles.


MR. SULLIVAN: Three weeks after, she changed.

MR. MACKEY: Mr. Speaker, this campaign was quite interesting. We have seen the ads; they talk about litter being seen around every corner. They don't show a whole lot of soft drink containers though. Did the public relations campaign work? Evidently, it worked in one respect; it got this government to cancel its promise on returnable bottle legislation. Whether it worked in terms of curbing Newfoundland's litter problem is indicated by the fact that we have this piece of legislation before this House today. No, Mr. Speaker, it didn't work. There are still soft drink containers and other litter along our highways.

So, Mr. Speaker, is the government going back to the idea of the deposit-refund system? No, instead, they are introducing anti-litter legislation. Legislation which may well do nothing more than the existing legislation does. Clearly, the best way to control the litter from soft drink containers is to pursue the course that the government initially intended, and that is to require the use of refundable containers.

Mr. Speaker, the environment was not the beneficiary of the deal since the deal was less effective in controlling litter than returnable bottle legislation. Evidently, the government is not the beneficiary of the deal either since the $2 million contribution by the companies was for an ad campaign, so we are left to wonder, Mr. Speaker, who in fact benefited? The fact that we are facing anti-litter legislation suggests no one benefited expect perhaps the companies which got their wish in escaping returnable bottle legislation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to make a few remarks on the bill and on the issues surrounding the disposal of waste materials in this Province, and on some of the remarks of the minister in dealing with the issue.

First of all, as to the bill itself, it purports to make littering an offence. It already is an offence under the Waste Material Disposal Act. It doesn't define littering, and leaves open to interpretation all sorts of things. I think the minister actually ought to have a serious look with his officials at that issue.

Already waste material is defined in the act as refuse, garbage, rubbish, litter, scrap, discarded material, et cetera, and there are prohibitions against the disposal of waste material, including litter, in places other than certified waste disposal sites. So littering has been an offence already in this Province since about the early 1970s. That is not surprising. I've always considered littering to be an offence, and maybe there are in fact municipal governments which give tickets for littering, I'm not sure.

The first time I ever heard of littering being an offence was an old song. I don't know if the minister was old enough at the time to be aware of this song, a song called Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie, who talked about being in jail for littering, and having dumped his garbage in the wrong place. I think there has been an awareness -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is in the late 1960s. I know the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was a young teenager then, in the late 1960s, and would probably have been a follower of popular music of the day.

This is not a grand initiative to come up with the idea that we will finally make littering an offence, and when they do do it, not really spell out what they mean by littering. What is included in that? We've had some banter back and forth across the House. The Member for Grand Falls has quite rightly pointed out: Are we talking about someone flicking a cigarette butt on the street, is that littering? I think so. Flicking a cigarette butt out of a car driving down a road, is that littering? I think so. A cigarette butt with its filter, non-biodegradable, will probably remain in the environment for many years to come.

What about other forms of litter? Are we talking about waste material from pets? Are we talking about dog droppings? Is that litter? Is that going to be subject to the fine? Maybe the minister can answer that. Do we have now a provincial doggy-doo legislation? Is that what this is? If it is, then tell us that and make sure the public knows that. Because it is only in certain municipalities now that there are regulations of that nature. If a person from St. John's takes his dogs up to walk them in Three-Pond Barrens is he littering when the dogs do their business up in Three-Pond Barrens? Or if the Member for Placentia takes his dogs in the woods to go after the rabbits, are they littering?

These are not facetious questions, Mr. Speaker. These are legitimate questions about whether or not this act is intending to regulate that or is it not. Is it intending to regulate this type of activity or is it not?

A more important question, and I ask the minister to read the Hansard. The Member for Grand Falls has raised a number of important questions that have to do with the interpretation and application of this act. I would ask the minister to read - well, I don't think he heard the speech, but I would ask him to read it in Hansard and ask his officials to read it. He has raised a number of important points about how the act might be interpreted or misinterpreted, applied, et cetera. I support his concerns. Because I don't think that it is going to be very helpful to have a piece of legislation that is open to misinterpretation, misapplication, and perhaps ridicule and misunderstanding.

What is more important is: Where is this coming from? Is this a part of the result of the propaganda campaign carried out by the Canadian Soft Drink Association, paid for by a so-called environmental levy on every soft drink that every child in Newfoundland buys, or ever adult buys in this Province? Is this what it is, blame the people of Newfoundland because there is littering and there is stuff on the roads and on the highways? Blame the people? Where does the blame really lie? The blame really lies with the policies of this government and the efforts of the Canadian Soft Drink Manufacturers Association, amongst others, to prevent this government and any government from insisting that they have a more socially responsible and environmentally responsible packaging policy. That is where this is coming from.

The baseline studies that were done several years ago before all of this environmental levy and the Canadian Soft Drink Manufacturers got this government by the throat, before that happened, a study was done which showed that littering, and litter in general, was not a significant problem in this Province as compared to other provinces. Now I am not saying that there is not a problem. One Pepsi can in the woods is a problem. I wish we only had one. That is a problem; we should not have any - or Coke. It doesn't make any difference whether it is Pepsi or Coke, or Big 8, or whatever they are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I would be happy to hear what the hon. member has to say.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member talks of litter in the woods, let me give him the classic example of what I think is litter in the remote parts of our Province.

This summer I had the privilege of standing on the top of Mokami, the famous hill on the north side of Lake Melville, in the very famous song. I got there in a helicopter, lest anybody think I suddenly became athletic.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the public did not pay for it, I say to my friend from Ferryland who knows all about how to do these things.

A broken beer bottle on the top of Mokami, some idiot had carried up a bottle of beer, no problem, and presumably had drunk that bottle of beer, no problem, and then took the trouble to take the bottle and smash it. Now that is where litter really is in this Province.

I thank my friend.

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

MR. HARRIS: That is not confined to this Province, I say to the member. I was on a canoeing trip in Northern Ontario about seven or eight years ago. We went to Thunder Bay and drove about four hours north, and we were ten days into the woods and we did not even know where we were; we got lost. We needed maps and compasses to find out where we were, and on a remote and isolated wilderness area we found a cache of disposable baby diapers. And we took everything out that we brought in, I say to hon. members.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) you.

MR. HARRIS: Unfortunately, yes.

To take it to a serious note, as I say, one can of Pepsi or one beer bottle in the woods is a problem, but I say to the minister that when a study was done, before this policy of the environmental levy was done comparing littering in this Province as compared to other provinces, this Province was far and away ahead of other provinces.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does that have to do with it?

MR. HARRIS: It has a lot to do with it, I say to the member, because what has happened in this Province is that you and your government and this minister who has taken over responsibility for it, have been held by the throat by the Canadian Soft Drink Manufacturers Association. They have told you and convinced you to let them place an environmental levy on soft drinks, take the money and use that money to propagandize the people of this Province to say that littering is the problem, not them. That is what is going on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: We live in a very unique Province. There is something very unique about Newfoundland. I will not call it a distinct society, but it is a unique society. You know why? Because this Province is unique in this country, there is not one, single, returnable soft drink container in this Province that is used, not one - the only Province where the Canadian Soft Drink Manufacturers have been successful in holding governments to ransom time after time after time, and preventing them from implementing policies that require them to refill containers.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice talked about a beer bottle smashed on Old Mokami. Well, I will say to the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Environment that 97 per cent of the beer bottles in this Province are returned to be refilled.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Ninety-seven to 98 per cent of the beer bottles in this Province are returned to the breweries to be refilled and reused. There may one on old Mokami and there may be two or three more but I tell you, Mr. Speaker, that those beer bottles are returned and reused. The ones that are not returned and reused are probably used for home brew. So those beer bottles are not going into the environment at any appreciable amount because you know why? Because they are worth ten cents each, that is why. That is why they are returned. That is why 98 per cent of the beer bottles do not end up in the environment but they end up back at the breweries for refilling and reuse. In the process, Mr. Speaker, that money spreads around, goes into the hands of kids, Boy Scout troops, boys and girls clubs, other people who use that situation to have a little industry or a little side industry. So that is what is going on. That is the distinction between beer bottles, Mr. Speaker, and soft drinks.

Now, I will give you some other examples of what is wrong, Mr. Speaker. Quite often you maybe go to the liquor store and you buy a bottle of liquor. Do you know what you see on it? You see a little sign on it that says, return for refund where applicable. What are we going to do, Mr. Speaker, put them in a package and send them up to Quebec somewhere, Ontario or New Brunswick where you can return them for a refund? No, Mr. Speaker. What does this government do? The Newfoundland Liquor Corporation - I saw them in one of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation's monthly statements of non-tendered contracts. The minister's department or the minister's purchasing department for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation spent $165,000 buying bottles from New Brunswick for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. Not one of them, Mr. Speaker, is refundable, returnable, refillable, not one. Why is that the case, Mr. Speaker? Why can't liquor bottles that are being refilled - why can't they be sent back to the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation to be refilled? They could, the answer is they could. The Minister of ITT says they could. I agree with him, they could. The Liquor Corporation bottles can be refilled and returned.

The success of beer bottles in terms of returning, refilling is an ample example as to why soft drink containers should also be refillable. When we talk about this, Mr. Speaker, and it is very interesting when you talk about this, when you talk about this issue publicly the first group that you have come banging on your door is Browning Harvey. Browning Harvey comes banging on your door and says, oh you can't do that. You can't introduce refillable soft drink containers because Browning Harvey will shut down. They won't have any more Pepsi in Newfoundland and we will all lose our jobs. That is what you hear. Now the logic of that, Mr. Speaker, has yet to penetrate my mind. The logic of that has yet to penetrate my mind. There will be no Pepsi in Newfoundland, they say. There will be no Pepsi in Newfoundland and there will be no jobs in Newfoundland in the Pepsi business if this government were to force them to use refillable containers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now there we are, that is what the minister says, they will go to Halifax. Sure they will. They will go to Halifax. They will take the bottles to Halifax and fill them up. Then they will bring them back here and sell them, then they will bring them back again. That makes a lot of sense. Is that what Coke is doing? What is Coke doing? Coke is not canning a single can or bottle in Newfoundland, right?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) just said to the member.

MR. HARRIS: That is right. Now, why is that? I said, okay they took seventy-two jobs to Halifax. Why did they do that? Because this government let them get away with it, because if this government had forced them to have refillable, returnable soft drink containers they would not do it. They would not be taking their empties to Halifax and filling them up then bringing them back here because it would not be economical, I say to the minister.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister says stay tuned. I heard him say that. Not the Minister of Environment, I would rather hear him say it. I would rather hear him say it because all we've heard so far from the Minister of ITT about this issue is talk, talk, talk. I want to see some action because the people of this Province are getting fed up to here, Mr. Speaker, with the kind of bull that they are hearing from this government, the lip service to the environment, the lip service that they are getting about how we care and we want to see recycling. What about some action, Mr. Speaker?

I've got a document here: Mill expansion is good for Nova Scotia. A $27 million expansion of a recycling mill in Nova Scotia will give it the capacity to handle all of the old corrugated containers generated by the Province. The (inaudible) pulp and paper company limited are constructing a new 6,000 square metre building to house a board machine. Where do we have examples like that in this Province? One hundred short-term jobs in construction, fifty jobs in the mill itself, and fifty more jobs in the province's recycling industry. In Nova Scotia they are calling it a recycling industry. What are we talking about here? We are still talking about school projects.

There is nothing wrong with school projects. But where is the economic incentive? Where is something that is making this economical? Where is something that is getting it beyond the do-gooder stage? Nothing wrong with people doing good, but where are we getting beyond that and getting into recognition that this is in other provinces considered to be an industry.

The minister talks about sitting down with the soft drink container people and the other lobbying group for the packaging industry. What do they want? They want something to happen that is not going to cost them anything. That is what they want. They managed to get this government on the soft drinks. They said: No, don't make us have refillable containers. Let us take a cent from every buyer of soft drinks - no deposit now, just take a cent - and we will use it to propagandize this Province to identify littering as the problem. In the process, these same people using this same money are also conducting a public relations campaign directed against the need for refundable containers. It is a bit of a soft sell. They get on the radio and they do -

AN HON. MEMBER: The consumer is going to pay no matter what.

MR. HARRIS: The consumer is going to pay no matter what, says the minister. I think that may be the case, Mr. Speaker. But I will tell the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations that he should have a concern about the number of jobs that can be generated if you have an environmentally responsible system instead of one that just allows these companies to come in, sell their goods and fill up our landfills.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. HARRIS: I ask the minister, is he aware that 30 per cent of the material in landfill sites is composed of soft drink containers? Who is paying for that? The consumer is paying for it, taxpayers are paying for it, government is paying for it. Who is reaping the profits? The profits are being reaped by the people who are using these containers and putting them into the environment. That is who is reaping the profit. That is who is paying for it. The taxpayers are paying for it; the consumers are paying for it. This Province is not participating in a responsible, environmentally sustainable process. We hear this, the buzzwords of the day, the buzzwords of the hours: environmental sustainability.

Mr. Speaker, let's get beyond the buzzword, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation getting his mug in the paper talking about cleaning up the highways. Let's get beyond the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: His mug. Let's get beyond the buzzwords, let's get beyond the rhetoric of environmental sustainability and free publicity for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Let's get beyond that and let's get to action that shows, like they did in Nova Scotia, 100 jobs - fifty jobs in the mill, fifty jobs in the recycling industry. Because there is a recycling mill being built, at a $27 million capital value, to recycle corrugated cardboard.

When are we going to see something like that? I know the minister is dying to speak again. The Minister of the Environment is dying to speak again and he may even pre-empt his announcement and give us some hints as to what he is going to do. We will wait and see, Mr. Speaker, exactly what the minister and this government is about to do. They have not shown much guts in the past in dealing with the soft drink industry. They have not shown much guts to date in dealing with the soft drink industry and the lobbies that are coming from the container industry. It is time to see a bit of a turnaround, and other provinces have managed to do that.

When I was in Alberta in 1975 -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why didn't you stay there?

MR. HARRIS: In 1975 I went to Alberta to get an education. Why didn't I stay there? I had to leave Newfoundland to get an education, I say to the minister, and in 1975 there was in effect in Alberta a recycling policy and a refundable policy. You could take any kind of bottles or cans -

MR. GRIMES: Subsidized by a heritage fund.

MR. HARRIS: There was no heritage fund in 1975. You could take a wine bottle to a bottle depot, bring it back.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you praising the Tories of Alberta?

MR. HARRIS: What I am praising is the fact that twenty years ago in other province they had in effect refundable deposit systems, they had an effective system that encouraged recycling, that gave economic incentives to it, that supported small businesses, that was effective, that was viable, and that made a lot of sense.

That was twenty years ago, and here we are in Newfoundland in 1995 and the minister gets up and talks about what great progress we have made, and we are now going to fine people for littering. This is progress twenty years later. I am a tolerant man.

AN HON. MEMBER: The school kids are not doing enough I say.

MR. HARRIS: I say the school kids are doing great stuff, but we have to get beyond that. We have to make it economical, we have to get into an economical sustainability, we have to provide economic incentives and the one way to do that is to provide for a deposit system on soft drinks for refillable and reusable bottles. We all mouth off the three Rs, return, reuse, recycle. We all talk about these, but how can we reuse something if the containers that are made say, not to be refilled, are thrown into the environment, whether they are soft drinks, whether they are juice drinks, or any other kind of drinks?

Let us see some action, Mr. Speaker, that is going to provide some economic incentives. We have all kinds of groups around this Province, boys and girls clubs in St. John's closing down because they cannot support themselves but if you had a system in place where environmentally sensitive policies were in place where you could have a deposit system, these organizations could use it as fund-raising. Other businesses such as, the Minister of the Environment mentioned, a recycling business in St. John's where all this particular individual does is collect. It is just a collection service. This woman provides a service to households and to businesses for a monthly fee to pick up recyclable materials, bring them to Evergreen Recycling. That is a little small business. That is good and we should have more of it.

The Member for St. Mary's - The Capes says you cannot find a beer bottle on the side of the road now because of the deposit system. Every beer bottle you see is worth ten cents and it is worth ten cents for someone to pick it up.

MR. EFFORD: (inaudible) eyes open.

MR. HARRIS: But it does not stay there very long. I am not saying people do not throw them there. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is making notes for his speech now. They may be there but they will not be there for long because somebody will pick them up without having a fine for littering, without having a campaign of school kids to go and clean up the highway. Someone will pick up beer bottles and bring them back to get ten cents each for them and create jobs in the process. Now that's the kind of action we want to see, that's going to help create jobs and give some substance and some meaning to this notion of environmental sustainability.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) you get yourself all worked up (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I say I have the flu; I am speaking under a handicap this morning as you can tell. If I didn't have the flu this morning you would hear it.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: If I didn't have the flu this morning the minister would hear it, I am being restrained by my illness, but I do say in all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, that this is an area where I have hopes for the Minister of Environment, I will say that for him. I didn't have much hope for the previous minister, I did first but after two or three years of asking the same kind of questions and getting nowhere and seeing no action, I gave up on that.

I say to the Minister of Environment, we still don't have a mandatory policy for recycling in the government services in this building. It is all done on a voluntary - I have three minutes left, Mr. Speaker, and I will go on, with the leave of members I will go on, but we still don't have and I invite the minister to talk about this - we still don't have a policy on recycling and disposal of materials in this building, in Confederation Building.

MR. MURPHY: We have red boxes on order.

MR. HARRIS: We might have red boxes on order but I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the recycling efforts that go on in the government services are voluntary, they are organized on a voluntary basis by people in certain departments, the people in the environment department have their own but it is unofficial, it is done by individuals who want to see something in place.

I don't know what directives the minister has given; perhaps he can tell us whether he is able to convince his seat mate next to him, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to institute a policy for all government buildings. When are we going to see some leadership, Mr. Speaker, when are we going to see some leadership in this House of Assembly from the government, in government departments, not just voluntary efforts by individual public servants who have the best interest of the Province at stake? I compare that to some of the efforts by the school kids. It is important but that's not the answer, Mr. Speaker, the answer is to have the government, as a matter of government policy, lead the way and show the way on environmental responsibility on sustainability, on recycling and use of paper and paper products within the government and on top of that, having a policy of returnable and reusable containers in the soft drink industry and wherever else it can be done and not to be kowtowed to the lobbying efforts of the self-interested industry such as the Canadian Soft Drink Manufacturers. They have a job to do and they are doing it well. Too well in my books, they have had this government on its back for the last four or five years and it is time to stand up, Mr. Speaker.

It is time to stand up and I see the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology nodding his head. Well, let's see how high they stand when the time comes. I see that my time is up, Mr. Speaker, and I know the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is anxious to tell the House what directives he has given. He is anxious to tell the House what directives he has given to his department for handling paper products and how recycling is carried out in his department. I know he is anxious to speak so I will sit down and let him speak.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin first by congratulating the Minister of Environment for introducing this bill to the House of Assembly, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act", Bill No. 27. He is to be congratulated because it is a step forward in addressing a problem that we have in this Province, but after listening to the hon. Member for St. John's East, a 30-minute speech was it, I can understand now why the only way he can hold a caucus meeting is to sit in front of a mirror. The only way he can have a caucus meeting is to sit in front of a mirror and talk, because after a 30-minute speech, a contribution that he made to a very serious problem that we have in this Province, and took the whole time to pick holes and to criticize instead of being more complimentary, more constructive to the whole issue.

While we have a problem in this Province it is not as serious as in many other parts of Canada, many other parts of the world. But we do have a problem with garbage on our highways, in our country, in our environment, all over. It is not just one area of the Province. We've got to address it. We've tried the educational process. We've tried encouraging people to take more responsibility. We've worked with Lions Clubs and other organizations in getting the message out that you must not litter no matter where it is. But it doesn't seem to be working to the full extent that the Minister of Environment or anybody would be satisfied with.

So what do you have to do? You have to put a determining factor in place that if you wish to break the law then here is what the penalties will be. You can't fault that. If you don't litter you don't pay any fines. If you break the law it is like any other law that you break in the Province. You must take the responsibility for it - you broke the law. It is simply a deterrent that you must do to impact on people who are not willing to obey the law.

I can't believe that when I drive over the Trans-Canada in the morning or in the afternoon and when I'm going home to see plastic anti-freeze bottles, paper cups, paper bags, plastic bags, beer bottles and other stuff on our highway.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) is driving right in front of you.

MR. EFFORD: There is no doubt. What really bothered me, Mr. Speaker, this year was we had a number of students working on the Trans-Canada picking up garbage. University students who needed the money to help them get back to university. We employed some students in the area to go out. The last day of August is when we terminated their summer student employment so they had to get ready to go back to university. A week later we visited -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have to ask. I can't hear myself speak, there's so much talk going on.

A week after we laid off the students we went out on the Trans-Canada in the same exact area. We covered about a kilometre. There was just as much garbage in that particular divided highway section as there had been before we put the students to work. That didn't just happen. That just didn't blow out of a car because of wind or blow out of trucks. That was caused by human beings. People had to put that there. That is only one example.

You go into the country on any occasion, whether it be trouting or blueberry picking or whatever, and you see the ashes of a campfire and you look out around and you see the small Vienna Sausage cans, that is a popular one that you see. You see somewhere else a beer bottle. You see somewhere else some other garbage. It is just as easy for an individual to take that can, squeeze it up, put it in a knapsack, bring it home and put it there, as to throw it on the land.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many beer bottles?

MR. EFFORD: I don't care what it is. Whatever it is it is garbage. The fact remains, Mr. Speaker, if we are going to sell this Province to the tourism venturing people of the world, the people who want to visit a pristine environment, we have to protect it. We have to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that when people come here they see the cleanliness of this Province.

Not long ago I was down to the United States, just down to Washington. Within a minute's walk from the White House on a Sunday afternoon I saw more garbage on the streets than you would see in a dump here in Newfoundland. It was absolutely unbelievable. My reaction was immediate: I would never go back there again.

I make that point because if tourists are coming to Newfoundland, whether it be from China, from Japan, from Germany, whatever, we hope that our tourism is going to grow. When somebody comes to the Province and they see something good they will take back a good message, and other people will come. We cannot sell this Province on the hot temperatures that they do down in the southern climates. But we can sell it on the hospitality and the friendliness of the people and the pristine environment.

It is up to every citizen in this Province to make sure that pristine environment remains, and the manner in which the Minister of Environment is presenting this bill to the House is another step to ensure that is going to be the type of climate or the type of environment that we live in in the future. Whether you pick faults with it or not is not the issue. There is no such thing as a perfect situation, but no matter what you do, you can always do something else, but keep doing and adding on and one day we will get to the point where we will have the most pristine, clean environment in the whole of Canada. We are not far from that now, but another step forward is another step to the good of everybody, and we have no doubt that the future direction of the economy of this country and of this Province must be added to by tourism. It is not going to be the be all and end all to answer all of our economic woes, but it sure can go a long way in a contributing factor to creating a good economic, viable situation for our future.

When a tourist comes to Newfoundland and drives into a community and he or she has money and spends it, the results are left behind, but if they come once and do not come back, or they do not spread the good word, then we all suffer the consequences. So it is all our collective responsibility to ensure that no matter where we go - the fines are only one aspect; education is the best thing.

Yesterday I spoke here in the House of Assembly and complimented the youth on the drinking and driving, that they are the most responsible people when it comes to obeying highway safety laws. I will give them another compliment. Of the evidence that I have been given and seen, young people are still ahead of the middle-class generation in protecting the environment. They are more aware of it, they are more responsible for it, and I hope through the young people, through the education program, that they will educate their parents, that they will educate their elders when they go home and see their mom or dad, or someone older, throwing a piece of garbage, or a can or a bottle, out the window of the car, or dropping it here or there, or dropping a cigarette pack, simply say they should not do that. Evidence proves, facts prove, that the young people are doing that today, educating the older people, their moms and dads, and that is the reason why we have less litter in our environment than we had compared to ten or fifteen years ago.

One of the most disturbing things that I see, in the leisure time that I have, and almost everybody knows the fact that I do boat a bit, the leisure boat, that when you see people, fishermen or a pleasure boat, aboard a boat, and they take a can or a bottle, or a piece of cardboard, and throw it over the side of the boat, there is nothing more disgusting than anybody doing that. It is just as easy to take that piece of litter and put it in a plastic bag and bring it home as it is to throw it in the water. It only takes the same amount of exercise and the same amount of strength to do it, and it shows responsibility.

It is incumbent upon all of us to point out to people who are doing that not to do it. Protect our environment. Make sure that we have a future. Make sure that our tourism grows. Protect our waters, protect our environment totally, and we can all benefit, not to be critical of what someone else is doing. Get the message right around this Province. Every time that you have a chance to speak publicly, talk about the environment, talk about a good positive attitude, talk about a future direction in developing this Province into a pristine environment that we are all proud of. How can anybody stand up and just play political points and try to be critical because it is not to their liking?

Mr. Speaker, I do not bother with what the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes is saying. It is only a little chitter-chatter, and if he wishes to chitter-chatter all along, it is quite -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: What was that question?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: All he has to do, if he wants to know how much anybody donated to my campaign, is to go out to my association, look at the receipt book, go to the Chief Electoral Officer, and I can tell you that I had quite a lot of donations given to me, because they wanted to see somebody come back who is going to contribute to the Province and not be a nuisance like the hon. member opposite, so I have no problem. The biggest problem I have is turning people away, not enough tickets, not enough chairs to allow everybody coming in. At a dinner I just had 300 people come, and had another fifty that same night turned away from the door. That is what a good politician is all about, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise here to speak on the Waste Material Act with amendments that are being proposed here.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) everything else here.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I believe very strongly in maintaining a proper environment in this Province. I say to the minister, I'm embarrassed, going on the highways of our Province. I walk the highway of my district. One day I walked sixteen miles along the side of the highway in my district and I observed the litter on the side of that highway. I went back, and I either jog or walk along the highway. It is embarrassing. We have school -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was your constituents who did it. Are you embarrassed by your own constituents?


AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you tell them about it?

MR. SULLIVAN: I do. And I speak in this House. I tell the minister, we organized in our school, and we got a provincial award, I say to the minister. Seven hundred bags of garbage on an annual basis we arrange and get volunteer trucks. His department has co-operated in picking up some of this garbage that is put in bags by students. I say to the minister, there are certain things that will never get solved in terms of the environment until we take some action.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It could be. That may be an answer. I'm not disputing that. I would like to look at the issue there. I have been a Justice of the Peace for twenty-one years and I have never had anybody come to me, an officer of the law, to issue a ticket or a summons to somebody for throwing litter out of a vehicle or litter on a highway. I have signed thousands of summonses for other areas, whether it be search warrants or speeding tickets or any other area, and it does not matter what the fine is. If there are no charges and no convictions we are not going to solve this problem - you could change the legislation - unless there are enough enforcement people out there to enforce the law. We have gone through annual clean-ups on school programs over a fifteen-mile range along a highway that is served by that school, putting together 700 bags of garbage, 400 or 500 bags of garbage. You can go back two weeks later and you will probably pick up 100 bags of garbage. The problem is not getting solved.

We had an opportunity back in November 1993. The then-Minister of Environment and Lands, it was at the time, stated on public television in early November on CBC that they would be having returnable bottle legislation in this Province. They were going to - with soft drinks. Before that month ended the minister stated that they would not be going with it, they were going with an education, a promotional campaign, a program that would solve this problem. We know this program is in place and it has not been working. It is just not working.

Now, returnable bottles - they looked at the impact on business, I think, here in the Province, one of the things they mentioned at the time, and the negative impact it would have.

As the government, as individuals, we have to be responsible in balancing the economic aspect with the environmental aspect. We know that whatever you do in this Province, it is going to have some impact on the environment. Whether it is developing a hydro site, whether it is putting a highway through Pippy Park or down the South Side into St. John's, the Harbour Arterial road, whatever highway is erected in this Province or any (inaudible) there is some negative environmental impact. Because you are taking away trees that enrich the oxygen content of the environment and help deplete carbon dioxide and other carbon-type gases. It is important to look at the impact, to look at what the environment can sustain. What we need to renew, the cycles that are in nature, to ensure that there is going to be an appropriate level of oxygen in the air and there is going to be materials that can be recycled.

There are advantages in recycling, not only in terms of removing things from the highway, but in the production of these new materials. The glass and so on - the production of these again has come from a new supply. We need an increased supply to go back into the landfills again and the sides of highways. There has to be some rationalization of what needs to be done. This government within a three-week period, early November of 1993 to late November, changed from what the minister stated on public television and came back and did a complete reversal.

I won't get into that. I brought it up in the media at that time, the circumstances about that and why it happened, and I will not revisit that today, but it is important.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the minister mentioned he was in Washington - I was in Washington, too. I have been in many parts of this world and the one thing I look at is the environment. I appreciate the environment. I am a strong believer in it. I studied environment during my course of studies as a biology major at a university there and I have a concern for the environment.

I have also been involved in the business aspect all my life and I am a believer in business, and I believe that business cannot in any great way negatively affect the environment. That is important. We have to have that balance there, and when we tip the scale too far in either direction we do not want environmental fanatics that have no business and we would all starve to death in a lovely environment. We don't want that. But we don't want to get to the point where we are going to ignore the environment either, and we have to have a responsibility as legislators to see that does not happen.

I have seen areas in Washington that were beautiful and other areas of the city where there was garbage and papers around everywhere. And I have seen it in other cities across Canada and across North America, but one thing I have seen in this Province that I have not seen in other provinces of Canada is, I have not seen the littering around our highways, our major highways, our arterial roads and so on, in other provinces, that I see here in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I see people in Alberta, in Ontario, in PEI and those other areas, who take a pride in maintaining an environment that is important and conducive to the development of a tourism industry.

In this Province, education is needed, no doubt. Education is something that evolves. You can only accelerate education at a certain rate but you can accelerate an enhancement environment, and returnable bottles get response today. I know of an individual in my district who, over a period of, I think, four years, picked up enough beer bottles on the side of the highway to buy a several thousand ATV, an individual who goes by on a regular basis. The man is now almost ninety and he is still out and very active on the highway. I think he was probably eighty-some years of age when he did that.

The reason you don't see as many beer bottles on the side of the highway is because people are around picking them up. They are still getting thrown out of vehicles, I can tell you, because as long as the fine for having alcohol in a vehicle is equal to or greater than the cost of littering, you are going to have the bottles thrown out of a vehicle because if you are pulled in and you have open beer bottles in your car you are going to be charged. They want to dispose of them, and if someone drinks while driving a vehicle, or while in a parked one, they are going to dispose of them.

I don't agree with it. I don't think any of those items should be thrown out into our environment, but I don't think increasing fines is going to work if we do not have the personnel, the law enforcement officers and enough people who are going to focus on that aspect. With the other crimes being committed, the exhaustion of manpower to do investigations - a lot of these officers have files that they cannot possibly get to do thorough investigations on because, in today's society, and it is a tough economy we live in, we know that, everybody seems to be overworked out there in the workforce today, and the enforcement is not occurring.

I would be interested in seeing statistics that go through our courts on charges. How many are charged with throwing paper, throwing bottles and so on from moving or parked vehicles there in proportion to the total charges? I think it would be less than one tenth of 1 per cent, maybe one thousand of 1 per cent. I have not seen one in twenty-one years of signing in the thousands of summons and so on, and tickets that RCMP officers have dealt with.

We need to be responsible. We need to get into programs in our high schools and be pro-active in environmental. I know there is an environmental science program in use in our schools and so on. I think we need to move it through our education system to people at a very early age. We used to take a course in civics when I went to school. We had a course in civics and various other things, showing civic pride and taking responsibility for things, and playing an important part to help develop values and help develop the right views on various aspects out there. We need to start at the ground roots level, and the only way you are going to solve this problem is like you did with seat-belt legislation when you made it mandatory. You focused on it, you fined people, you stopped people on the roadside, you made an all-out blitz effort to get people into that mode where they were going to buckle up for safety purposes, and unless you make an all-out blitz of people polluting the highways and throwing garbage out of vehicles and so on, and do a blitz on it for a month or so, or two months, whatever needs to be done, then you will find a vast improvement in the reduction of littering that is going on on our highways today.

I think it is important. If we want an environment for the future, if we want something that is pleasing to tourism, to people coming in from other countries of the world... I have seen some other cities in the world that are spotless, there is no garbage, there are very severe fines, and I have seen other areas where they are far worse than we are in certain sections of cities. And generally it happens; certain areas of cities are fairly clean and other areas are not, especially in big cities, but that is a responsibility, of course, too, within those particular boundaries. But here in this particular Province we have a responsibility, and I say to the minister - the Minister of Justice, too, has a role to play in this - to ensure that there is a focus, an emphasis, on controlling this.

I have driven behind people and seen cigarette butts thrown out. Do you call in and report them? Well, I haven't done it. If I see someone doing it, I will mention it, because I don't like to see it being done. I don't allow my kids to throw anything out of vehicles. I make them take any garbage into the house, and that has been going on for years. When they go into the house, rather than leave it in the car, I tell them to take in their garbage when they are finished, and they bring it in and put it in the garbage. When I have a rare occasion to go into the country overnight, we make a point to being sure that any garbage that is not burned there is brought back home again and deposited in the garbage. I think everybody needs to do their share.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it's important that we all take that responsibility to help enhance our environment, because one thing people talk about when they come back from an area is how clean it was, and how beautiful and well-kept an area was.

I remember when I was travelling in Alberta. I was going around the highway, driving between Edmonton and Calgary. The people were out on the highways there - employees of one of the departments, I think, or maybe some project - picking up with their long sticks with metal tips, and putting into garbage bags on divided highways things that might blow around. Maybe they have a stronger effort in cleaning up. Maybe they are more entrenched in education. It would be interesting for the minister to see what types of programs are developed through their educational system there to encourage this, because we need to develop it. I know we have changed. I have seen changes in the last fifteen or twenty years. We have changed our attitude now. People don't accept that as much any more. It was a common thing then to have a box of chicken and toss it out the car window - nothing left in the car. It was a standard thing that you would see happening, and people are much more conscious, but still, I say, not nearly conscious enough.

Those are some of the things that I don't think necessarily the legislation is going to help. It is certainly not going to hurt. It may. It will never help unless there are convictions and there are people charged. You can have legislation on the books; if there are no convictions it is not going to get the desired results.

So I think we need to be more pro-active as individuals - not just the Minister of Environment - we all need to play a part. If we have opportunity over the next while, to speak to high schools on topics, or other groups in the community, whether it be a Rotary Club or whatever around, it does not hurt to talk about environment and the role that each of us can play in enhancing the beauty and restore some areas to a more pristine beauty in the Province, because we have a wonderful Province here. I had an opportunity to visit almost every part of this Province over the last year -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I did, on other endeavours, but I took time to admire the beauty and to visit some of these areas and tourism sites in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: And it is. We have a Province that has so much to offer people, and parts of the Province where there are things that most of us don't appreciate because they are at our back doors and in our front yards or wherever.

I will just say to the minister - I don't think he Minister of Justice was in his place at the time when I said, I think the Justice Department has a role to play, too. And I will just repeat this, because the Minister of Justice wasn't there. In my twenty-one years, I said, as a Justice of Peace, in signing thousands of things from summonses to search warrants and you name it, I have never yet had to sign, out of thousands, one for court for a conviction for throwing out litter from vehicles or for littering public places.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know, but there is already provision in there for fines, isn't there?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) you have to catch somebody (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, but they have been there, because way back I remember from experience I know somebody was charged; I was just aware of somebody who was charged, what happened, I don't know, that's back many, many years ago. But I understood there was going to be an increase in the fine, isn't there? Isn't that the intent, there is a fine there and we are going to increase it?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Before it is published. Is it an increase, I ask the minister, from the previous fine?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not an increase?


MR. SULLIVAN: So it is a new fine for this specific thing?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, so what is there now to ensure conviction? It was my impression that if you threw garbage out of a vehicle before, you had to be seen and you could be fined, charge and convicted.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) Highway Traffic Act.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, and why, under the Highway Traffic Act, wasn't there an opportunity for the judge to levy a fine in court? It was always there, to my knowledge.

MR. ROBERTS: The Highway Traffic Act (inaudible) offence (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I know, but there was an opportunity to fine somebody and be charged for doing it. Would that be correct?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am under the impression that there was always a fine there and you could be charged and I am just wondering -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon? Charged with littering?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Charged with violating -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, sure, because to my knowledge, prior, if you threw a box of chicken out of a car, you could be fined - the judge could levy a fine on you in court for doing that. Am I being told that up until now, we could go out and litter the highways, throw a box of chicken out, beer bottles out and we couldn't be charged or fined before? I think we could. I would like to know -

MR. ROBERTS: No. (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You are telling me we couldn't. So I can drive out in front of this building today and take a box of chicken and throw it out of my car and that's acceptable?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is something I would like to know because I am under the impression that it is different. Now, if this is putting a provision in under the Waste Material Disposal Act, it is an offence to dispose of this material under the Waste Material Disposal Act, that might strengthen legislation under the Highway Traffic Act, but it would not necessarily put in something new that is not already there under that.

So I would be interested in hearing exactly what provision is there now and what can be done, because I know of people who have been charged and people who have been fined for littering. I know people have been fined, they went and found garbage bags on the highway and they opened it up and found mail in it belonging to those people and were brought to court and were charged for littering.

Now, what would that be under, I ask the minister? If it is not under waste disposal, they went miles off the highway to a side road and retrieved those bags of garbage with people's names in them and they were charged, and I think convicted I do believe, probably fifteen, twenty years ago, I recall an incident. So I am just wondering now, is this going to - I can't see the Highway Traffic Act controlling that, if you are a mile off the highway and you found a bag of garbage so, how were they fined before and under what provision? Maybe the minister can let me know.

With that, I conclude - and by indicating that, we all have a role to play in it. I think it is important that we look at the enforcement aspect, I said when the minister was absent. If we never enforce it, if we never go out and lay charges or do a blitz after it is introduced, after it becomes law - but if you focus on it for a month or two and do an initial crackdown again, it would achieve some results in the long term, I feel.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I shall be very brief but I would like to respond to the point raised by my friend, the Member for Ferryland because I think it's a fair point and there is certainly an explanation which the House may want to have.

My understanding is that the present situation - and this is the reason we brought in the amendment - there is not in the law adequate offences to deal with the type of conduct that I believe members on all sides want to try to get at and stop, or make it an offence and those people who persist in breaking a law will be charged and dealt with according to the law.

The only offence we have now with respect to highways, per se, to deal first with that situation, is found in section 163 of the Highway Traffic Act. This goes back to the 1988 enactment, and I have not tried to trace it back, but I suspect this provision without any amendment has been there for many years; I do not know how long. Section 163.(1) says that: A person shall not throw, deposit or leave on a highway rubbish or refuse or waste or glass, nails, tacks, scraps of metal or other material which may injure tires or vehicles.

Now there is a drafting problem with that. It is that familiar old problem that perhaps members have heard discussed before; it is called the Houston Generis Rule. When you start naming something, do the general words apply to the things you have not named? Another way to put it is conjunctive or disjunctive; the use of the word `or' in a number of different places causes a problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The enforcement authorities, and this amendment is one that my officials on the drafting side and on the law enforcement side have been working on for some time with the officials who answer to my friend, the minister -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) what you just read there, anything that might affect the operation of an automobile. It had no implications, anything that would affect automobiles.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, the trouble with the use of the words that my friend used, generally the effect of is that, as he will acknowledge, the courts obviously construe penal legislation strictly against the Crown, and so they should. This is penal legislation in the sense it effects a penalty, and the theme of the law, and we would all agree this is the right thing, is that the Legislature or the Crown - remember, the Legislature is part of the process by which laws are made, and so is the Crown - in making laws we have to get it right. If there is any ambiguity or any obscurity or any confusion, this is to the benefit of the citizen as opposed to the benefit of the Crown, remember, prosecutions are brought in the name of the Crown. So the experience of some years has shown us that 163.(1) is not adequate; it does not create a sufficiently distinct offence to meet the policy need that is perceived and which, as I followed debate, all members of the House agree with, that where you deposit litter where it should not be deposited, that should be an offence and if we can identify an offender and prosecute him or her, then they must answer before the court and take the penalty if found guilty by the court.

My friend says that in the past he, as a J.P., has issued information or summons or whatever may have been required in the course of his duties, with respect to littering offences. I have no quarrel with that; I accept what he says.

MR. SULLIVAN: I said I never (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Okay, but the part of the problem has always been the nature of the offence as defined, and I have just given him the - it is 163.(1). Section 163.(2) is a different problem; it is removal of glass when a vehicle has been damaged on the highway and there is glass on the road. The more we looked at it, the more we came to the conclusion - we being the ministers and the officials who together developed this; the ministers are responsible for it, but we take advice from the officials - the answer is, in our view, to create a new, distinct penalty, and this we have done not by amending an existing provision. This bill before the House now, while it is an amendment to the Waste Material Disposal Act, creates a new offence by adding an entirely new clause 23.1.

We looked, I can tell the House, at amending 163.(1) of the Highway Traffic Act and decided that would not meet the need simply because it deals only with highways. The fool who broke the beer bottle on the top of Mokami Mountain in Labrador, on the North Shore of Lake Melville, if we could identify him, should be charged as much as a fool who takes a beer bottle and breaks it on the highway, or leaves a chicken box or a Coke tin or whatever on the highway, so that is why we have done it. That is why we decided and asked the House to amend the Waste Material Disposal Act.

The other reason we cast this way instead of trying to amend the provision which I am not sure my friend perhaps from Humber Valley but somebody else mentioned the - no I am sorry, the gentleman from Grand Falls - the half million dollar maximum fine, that is aimed at a very different situation as one can see readily I think from looking at the provision. I don't have it in front of me but that is to go back to our - that is an Erco situation where - the red herring in Placentia Bay, if in fact there had been liability. I don't want to get into that aspect of it but we are trying to get into a catastrophic - that is why a $500,000 fine, which is huge fine, a half million dollars a day is a huge fine. The problem is that the word litterer or littering, whatever you want, is a word that covers an awful lot of territory. There is a world of difference.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: Because the drafters felt it was better to create specific offences and to try to get a definition because even then, my learned friend from St. John's East would agree that littering is like theft. Theft can run from stealing a dollar to stealing $100 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I would think doggie dung - and I am bit of an expert on that, I could tell my friend - that animal droppings could be litter, depending on the circumstances. We have a pair of dogs at home. We are very fond of them and they are good enough to let us share their house with them. If I bring them over to my friend's front step next week and at the time - the dogs have a means - I don't know if my hon. friend is a dog owner but I can tell him that dogs have a means of letting you know when the time has come and you ignore that at your peril. Every now and then there will be a scratch on our bedroom door in the middle of the night and it is a dog wanting to get in to tell us it is time to go out. If I were to bring my dogs, who are big Labs - we have a yellow Lab and a black Lab - if we were to bring them over to my friend's house and they were to leave their leavings on his front step he might well feel that is litter. On the other hand, if I were to go out into the woods and the dogs were to do a natural thing, in a natural place, I am not sure that would be considered litter. How did I get into this, Mr. Speaker?

The definition of the offence littering would not in itself meet the need any more than the definition of theft doesn't mean we don't need a whole bunch of offences in the Criminal Code to deal with that. So what we decided to do is create two offences. The horrendous poisoning situation which is up to $500,000 a day and in this one here, which is a littering, and there the offences are much more moderate. The enforcement officers, a peace officer of whatever nature who lays the charge or issues a ticket - if we bring this into the provincial ticketing system - will obviously decide which is the appropriate charge, just as the police in a situation where they have a multiplicity of charges in many instances and they decide which is the appropriate one to lay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I cannot answer my hon. friend as to whether wildlife officers can. There will be a bill in the House shortly to implement - we will be moving towards a system whereby any one enforcement officer can - they are all going to be cross-sworn. Last year, I believe, we came together with the feds and the fisheries officers, federal and provincial are now cross-charging and that just makes all the sense in the world. If I am out on the road and I am a wildlife officer, I am up in the woods somewhere and I see a fellow breaking the forestry act requirements on logging. It is foolishness to say I can't issue that person a process, whatever form that process may take but instead that I have to go back and get the logging inspector to come up. I don't know at this moment whether they are authorized to - in fact, we have legislation, Mr. Speaker, which will be in the House this session to allow us to extend the ticketing regime, the provincial ticketing system it's called, to a whole wide variety of offences that are not now ticketable and I will deal with that at another time, another place.

In any event, I did not mean to go on, Mr. Speaker - okay if my friend from Ferryland has a question, sure.

MR. SULLIVAN: I was wondering, I made reference to it earlier, something that is not under the control of the Highway Traffic Act - for example, a person goes off a highway, a side road, not under control of the Highway Traffic Act, takes his old refrigerator or stove or a bag of garbage and dumps it, you know, what is there?.... maybe the Environment minister or the Justice minister could tell me what is there now, in the legislation, to be able to charge a person for doing that?

MR. ROBERTS: The answer is that there is nothing that is adequate. The only provision we now have and my friend, the minister will correct me if I am wrong on this, the only provision we now have is this catastrophic section and this is the new, the limb that we seek; 23.1, would address the very situation that my hon. friend raises. The Highway Traffic Act, I add, applies only to highways. We seek to create a new offence here only because there is no adequate offence in legislation now.

MR. SULLIVAN: Everybody can dump all their (inaudible) fridge or stoves, get rid of it all now before this is enacted. I find it amazing -

MR. ROBERTS: They had better move quickly, but I must say -

MR. SULLIVAN: I find it amazing that nothing can be done.

MR. ROBERTS: I must say to my hon. friend that if he were to say, why have we gone on so many years in this Province without adequate littering offences, I would have to tell him I don't know. We accept whatever measure of responsibility is ours, our predecessors can accept whatever measure of responsibility is theirs, but the fact, as I understand it, is that the present law of the Province does not provide adequate, specific, distinct penalties. We are not talking about the sanction, whether it is $1 million or twenty dollars, we are talking about the fact of creating an offence and that's why this legislation is cast in the form in which it is cast.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: But, Mr. Speaker, the answer to my friend, from St. John's East on that point is that, the other offences are still in there, the catastrophic offence. I mean, 23.1 is aimed at the chip box or the tin of Coke or Pepsi so we get both in, or you know, the cigarette packet. It is not aimed at the more serious situation where somebody dumps - I say to my hon. friend, how silly can one be? There is obviously, really bad litter and bad litter and this clause deals with bad litter and the other one we have in the act now deals with really bad litter, and if that proves in practise to be inadequate, I can only say that we shall be back here in a year or five years or whenever the need becomes manifest to deal with it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well the present sections are all but unenforceable. Now there is an enforcement problem, Mr. Speaker. It has nothing to do with this. Our law is founded on the fact somebody has to be able to give evidence; an individual has committed an offence, if my learned friend would acknowledge that. I mean, when we take our dogs for a walk, I often take a supermarket bag, you know, those plastic bags, with me, and I can often fill one of those in the mile of road which is our normal walking space. And these are chip boxes, cigarette packets, and whatever. Now, somebody has thrown all of those out of cars, or somebody who was walking along the road, but there is no way anybody could be charged with that because who is to give evidence? We solved it with cars. A couple of years ago we brought in an amendment to the Waste Material Disposals Act. It took some time to convince the powers that be to do it, but we brought it in, and, as far as I know, we have cleaned up the cars, or the trucks, in this Province, and we were able to do that because we could identify a car. There are enough serial numbers or marks on the cars. If my hon. friend had a car twenty years ago and that car shows up down in Logy Bay, at a dump somewhere, not in an approved dump, and we can track it to my hon. friend, he has to either stand the penalty for dumping it there or prove somebody else had it. It is a little different with cigarette packs. We can't even stop people from smoking untaxed cigarettes, and God knows, there is enough of that going on, or too much.

So there is no way we can do it. There is an enforcement problem but, nonetheless, this legislation will, I think, help the officers charged with this to move forward, and that is why I commend it to the House.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

One of the concerns I had when looking at this particular piece of legislation is that in Section 23 (1) which really is an addition to the Waste Disposal Act - this is not in it now, it will be in addition to the Waste Disposal Act. The Waste Disposal Act itself, I say to the minister - one of those days when he gets a chance to go through it, or gets his officials to go through it, leaves a lot to be desired because the regulations that are in place today for waste disposal in the Province, waste disposal sites themselves, are really archaic, to say the least.

You go into a lot of those sites where there is landfill and you depend on a tractor to cover it. The dumpster comes in and they dump there, another one comes in and dumps over there, and by the time it is covered, the plastic bags, the paper, everything in there, the chip bags, are halfway across the town that is annexed to it, over the road or whatever. It is gone before it is buried. Now, in a burner-type situation it is a little different, and even with that some escapes but that can't be helped. You go into a burner-type situation where you have - well, the so-called burners, we used to call them, years ago. They call them incinerators now. It is a little more sophisticated. It sounds so important. Years ago in Buchans we used to call it `out to the burner,' but now it is called out to the incinerator site. It is just another name for it.

Seriously, I say to the minister, that under the Waste Material Disposal Act itself - I know, over the years when I was in council in Cormack as a mayor and as a councillor, we had a lot of problems. We were fortunate in the sense that we eventually went to an incinerator site and all the communities got together and it worked out to be an excellent accommodation among the communities and served all communities well.

This here also says, "a distinct penalty for the wrongful deposit of waste material in the form of litter...." Someone mentioned earlier about the definition of litter. That is important, because it goes on to say then, in Section 23.1(1) that it is a complete addition to the Waste Material Disposal Act. It says, "litter other than at a waste material disposal site for which a certificate has been issued...." This is where the problems my colleague, the Member for Ferryland and the Minister of Justice said that there is nothing in place for this particular problem. There is something in place for that now; however, it was hard to enforce because of the fact of identification.

The minister now has it in his power to go in to a car wreck if it is on my property or if it on - wherever it is, it could be anywhere in the Province - and if the serial number shows that I own that particular vehicle, well, then, he can nail me. But when the fridge or the other garbage that is thrown out, we will say on a byroad... well, a woods road is a good example, especially one that is not being used by the paper companies today. I have seen it quite often over the years, I still see it really, to a certain extent, when you are in hunting or whatever, and you see this old fridge or old stove or garbage thrown out at a site. Under that they could have been charged if they could have been identified, because under the Waste Material Disposal Act it is not considered a site. Under the Waste Material Disposal Act the place has to be considered a site, and a licence has to be issued for disposal, and that is why they would be able to be charged.

Mr. Speaker, it would have to be in a `receptacle or container placed or located specifically for the purpose of collection... is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction.' We all know, and more specifically in St. John's and rural areas - well, all over the Province - when a person puts a bag of garbage out, the closer you can put it out to the garbage truck coming, okay you are safe. We all know, even over our way, everywhere, especially in the city, the gulls and the crows today - if there is something that could be done with that particular problem. I mean, you lay a bag of garbage out and a crow or gull is there waiting to get into it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have to use Billy Boot bags now, mind you.

MR. WOODFORD: You can use Billy Boot all you like, Mr. Speaker, I can assure the minister that Billy Boot doesn't mean much to the beaks of some of those gulls and crows. I can guarantee you that. I don't know what you would want in a category of -

AN HON. MEMBER: If you could give them the boot (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that is the only thing, if we could really give them the boot. I mean, it is terrible. How many times have we all seen people with their garbage out and just torn up, everything all over the site? Now how can an individual, a home-owner be blamed for something like that? It is hard to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: It is something I think that the minister and his officials understand with regard to those waste disposal sites, I can assure you. Now, I agree with this particular amendment. The only thing about it is, I would like to see, I say to the minister - it says in subsection 2, `For the purpose of subsection 1 an offence shall not be considered a second or subsequent offence unless it is committed within one year of the date of the previous conviction.' I say to the minister that I would like to see in there for the purpose of subsection 1, `An offence shall be considered a second offence if committed within one year.'

As far as I am concerned it does not matter whether I am picked up in January, July, September or October, I should get the fine. As far as I am concerned the second offence should be - if I am habitual and I am caught doing it, I should get the maximum. I should get the second offence within the first year and it should not be applicable at all. I think if there is a second offence, once you do it, if you do it in January or June, then you should not be given a years grace, be nailed with that second offence. I say to the minister, as far as I am concerned if you are going to make it a second offence, make it a second offence and nail them, if they come in two days after, three days after or twenty-four hours after because we have habitual offenders in this Province and they should be taken to task.

I don't know if the minister has been in Corner Brook lately, looking around the streets of Corner Brook, but if he does get over there in the next little while, just look at what the City of Corner Brook has done with regards to the parking meters. You can go all through Corner Brook now and they have those little green containers strapped on to the parking meters all around the city. My, it is just unreal. I don't know how much they cost, I never questioned how much they cost, Mr. Speaker, but a lot of communities around the Province should do that. I know down in the bottom part of St. John's it would be a real asset to the city for the collection of garbage. Everybody who goes along, I think in some cases it is only every 100 or 300 feet there is a garbage container, just flicked it in on the side of the parking meter.

I will tell you another big problem we have, garbage trucks hauling garbage from local service district, local service committees and so on, incorporated bodies with no garbage trucks, and the garbage truck is not covered. By the time they leave the town of, say, Deer Lake or Cormack and get to the dump site and the incinerator site, half what was in the truck is on the road. That to me is wrong. I see it every day of the week because the incinerator for Deer Lake and all surrounding communities is located about five kilometres up on the Northern Peninsula highway there, and every time you go down there are cardboard boxes, there are bags of garbage. There is a law there now that says that in order to haul garbage I think you are supposed to have a net over it, it is supposed to be covered, especially for a local service district.

One other comment. You can go on and on with this, Mr. Speaker, because it is such a - as my colleague said earlier, the attitudes have changed with regard to garbage in the Province. People today have no problem with reporting someone, I don't think. The only thing about it is getting it to stick. That is the problem. I've sat on a parking lot - we will say, for argument's sake, Tim Horton's or Kentucky Fried Chicken - and you see people rolling down their window and throwing things on the ground. If you report them, you take their licence plate number, and you hear absolutely nothing after. The problem is in policing, the problem is getting a charge to stick, and the offenders in most cases walk free.

I assure the minister and other members here today - and I'm sure they've seen it - that peoples' attitudes have really changed when it comes to garbage, garbage disposal, people committing infractions with regards to littering and so on. A really bad one is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) adjourn (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well, I am not finished. I have four minutes yet I say to the minister. A really bad one is the hospitals, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Okay, I am just going to finish up. When you go into the hospitals today - I know Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, when you are outside the door, it is an awful state with cigarettes butts. They are all around the door and people have to walk through it. You go over to the Health Sciences and it is the same thing. It is terrible! It is nothing but a mess and that type of thing should be addressed, especially with regards to public buildings, hospitals and so on in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to say a few words when it comes into committee stage, but with those few words -

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourn debate, Rick.

MR. WOODFORD: Well, I will adjourn debate. I was going to finish.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, perhaps we could take just a second to discuss the matter with respect to the sitting of the House next week. Monday the 13th is a statutory holiday in this Province. It commemorates Armistice Day which falls on the 11th but we take the holiday on Monday and government offices, I understand, are closed on that day. We propose to ask the House not to sit on that day.

It has been suggested by a number of members that they would find it very convenient if the House were to sit late on Thursday evening, whatever day of the week that is, the 9th, and then adjourn on Thursday evening until the following Tuesday, giving members in effect a four-day break. They could go to their districts, visit their offices, or do whatever they wish. If that is acceptable to the members then I say we will proceed on that basis.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My hon. friend either wants to leave the room or has a question.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the proposal would be that we simply sit through until seven or seven-thirty on Thursday evening, six-thirty if you want to do without the Late Show. In any event, if that is agreed, Mr. Speaker, as I gather is the case, members can make their plans on that basis. We will adjourn Thursday evening and resume on the Tuesday afternoon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I have to tell you, this is as nice as it gets.

Mr. Speaker, with that said, let me just add one more thing. I'm sure the clock won't reach noon before I finish, because otherwise we are back here automatically at 2:00 p.m. and nobody wants that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) here by yourself.

MR. ROBERTS: I can say to my hon. friend, I've been in that position too before, on both sides of the House.

Mr. Speaker, on Monday the first order of business will be the debate on Bill No. 7 which is the regulatory reform act. The Premier will be introducing that and then the debate will go on from there.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, and mindful of the admonitions of the gentleman for Baie Verte - White Bay who is becoming a first-class clock watcher, and I may add regularly gets clocked here in this House, I will move the House adjourn until Monday at 2:00 p.m., Sir.

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