May 14, 1996                 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 8

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Oral Questions

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today my questions are for the Premier. On March 25th in this House I asked the Premier if college campuses around this Province, such as Bell Island, Springdale, and Port aux Basques were going to close and the Premier did not respond, but the Minister of Education said that the process this year was no different from any other year. He said: `There is no particular crisis this year,' and just one month later, on April 29th, the minister announced the closure of five college campuses and the elimination of first-year university courses at all but one of the locations across this Province. I ask the Premier, if he agrees with his minister that there is no particular crisis in post-secondary education this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am in full agreement with the actions that have been taken by the Minister of Education. The Minister of Education, as have all ministers, has had to deal with a Budget situation which will be made clear on Thursday when the Minister of Finance brings down his Budget. The government has had to come to grips with a deficit which is approaching the $290 or $300 million and every department is going to have to participate, and indeed every agency of government participate, in dealing with that Budget deficit.

The Minister of Education, when he became aware of the full extent of the Budget deficit this year, as did all other ministers of the government, went back and revisited proposals for the Budget which will be forthcoming on Thursday, and brought forward measures which had to be announced because of requirements of the union contract in advance of the Budget date. The member opposite is an experienced member and he understands that. He understands the collective bargaining process. He brought it forward clearly, without hesitation, and without delay.

Some members on this side will say he brought it forward too quickly and perhaps might have taken a little more time, that is, the government as a whole, to consult, but unfortunately, once the decisions were made late in the week, given the requirement for consultation and notice given to the unions, he brought forward an announcement which represents the best judgement of the department, the best judgement of educators in this Province, and the best judgement of managers of our education system within this Province.

I would hope that the member opposite, who has been speaking frequently, and I believe with some authority on the question of the need for fiscal responsibility, would do more than simply set out a series of objections to the need to live with tough decisions and fiscal requirements but would set out his policy as well.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier knew and the minister knew a month earlier there was a $230 million shortfall. That was in the pre-budget consultative document.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: The same Premier said that we cannot cut, cut, cut our way back to prosperity. Do those words sound familiar? I ask the Premier.

Now, Mr. Premier, I know how important the consultative process is to you. Would you please tell me which departmental officials, which college officials and which members in your caucus you consulted before making this decision on post-secondary education?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I continue to believe that you cannot cut, cut, cut your way to prosperity. I continue to believe it is important for a government to have a program for economic growth and that is why this government is going to proceed exactly to implement the program that we put before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in the last election.

At the time of the last election, we said the next two to three years are going to be difficult years for the Province. We said we will have to maintain a sound fiscal position and we said because of the difficulty that could be anticipated - which has been forecast by everybody for the last number of years - it would be important to select a number of areas of growth and to see growth occur in those areas, those areas are tourism - the member is well aware of the program we put forward - those areas are the information technology industry, knowledge-based and information-based industries, those areas are aquaculture. We continue to say that those commitments we have given with respect to growth and investments in those areas will be kept.

Now, the member asked, in his question: `Does the Premier remember these words?' Well let me ask the member, does he remember -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Does he remember these words: `A P.C. Government will balance the Budget over four years. The next two years will be difficult ones for the Province; however, there is much to be optimistic about the future.' In that regard, I agree with the P.C. Blue Book, the Right Agenda for the People, but in that regard only.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: A decision on post-secondary education that is so fundamental for a better tomorrow should only be made after a thorough analysis and a long-term plan is completed. Now, would the Premier provide to this House the plan upon which these decisions have been made?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the plan, it is clear that part of the announcement in which we unfortunately had to let the people of the Province know and let the people in the college system know, both employees and students who have to try to make some alternate accommodations for next year, that the plan clearly is to see at the college system, the five boards collapsed into one board for the whole of the Province and that board, mandated immediately to review all of the course offerings and options for every geographic region of the Province; to look at the current status of each of the remaining nineteen campuses that offer educational opportunities, Mr. Speaker, to post-secondary students in all regions of the Island and through Labrador. And they will be reporting back very quickly so that people will know, not as part of the Budget exercise next year but before that, where it is, that those people who will advise the government as to what the options should be into the future for post-secondary education at the college level, will be able to present a plan with respect to program offerings and actual site locations; so that there is a good distribution balance of the trades type of training that goes on, as well as the basic skills training for literacy upgrading that goes on, as well as opportunities for some version, Mr. Speaker, of a first-year university equivalency that might be extended to more areas of the Province rather than be reduced immediately from the four or five areas where it was currently available.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What the minister has told us is that they made a decision and then they are going to come up with a plan. That's what he said. If this is the type of Liberal planning we are going to see for the next four years, then God help us in Newfoundland and Labrador, I say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, to the Premier.

Previous governments have decentralized the post-secondary college system in this Province making it accessible to rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Aren't you, Premier, now turning your back on the people of rural Newfoundland and denying them equal opportunity to a post-secondary education?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is doing what we would expect the Leader of the Opposition to do, and that is, to begin today, the first day the House is back, and to set the stage for opposing every single fiscal measure the government will take. And I will make a prediction, Mr. Speaker: whatever is contained within the Budget, given the backdrop, whatever is contained, the Leader of the Opposition will oppose.

Now, the Leader of the Opposition has run recently in an election campaign and has run behind a platform which says that the next two years will be difficult ones for the Province. That is a direct quote from the PC policy handbook.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: It says a PC government will balance the books over the next four years.

I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition, it is not only his right, it is his responsibility on behalf of the people he represents in the Legislature, to critique the initiatives of the government, to critique the Budget when it is brought down; but I say to him, it is also his obligation to bring forward his plan, as the Leader of the Opposition, and I say simply expressing outrage in the face of reality is not a responsible approach at this time in the life of the development of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, we have a plan and solutions, and that would be complete consultation, not with just some of the stakeholders out there but with everybody, a plan you promised and did not deliver on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: And if you want to follow our blueprint or plan instead of your own, why don't you resign and let somebody else do the job that they set out?

The implementation of first-year university courses has enabled all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to access education at a reasonable price, and students in those areas across this Province have performed above average on first-year university courses. Education is the key to our future, and why are you, Premier, putting heavy financial burdens on our youth and preventing them from obtaining an education here in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Again, we share the view of anybody who would express the view that education is the key to the future of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we share the view that good quality education must be accessible to all of our people to the greatest extent that government can afford to provide it; there is no question about that. The issue then becomes, given the means that are available to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - more to the point, given the means that are available to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - where best do we expend the dollars that are there? Where do we use the revenues that are forthcoming?

We all know in this House - we cannot duck it - that Newfoundland and Labrador has been spending anywhere between $300 million, and last year $100 million, more each year than we are bringing in. We all know that we have the highest per capita debt in Canada. We all know that we are the highest taxed people in Canada. We all know that the exercise of simply trying to shave the ice cube without developing new wealth in this Province has not cured that problem. Through successive administrations of both political stripes in this House, and our friend in the NDP has not had a chance yet to test his own plan in government - perhaps one day he will - but in the meantime that is reality, and the objective today, for anybody who wants the responsibility of government, is not to avoid the hard truths, but rather to be prepared to make the difficult choices. It is not easy to make these choices. They aren't without cost or consequence for people, but they have to be made. In the meantime, rather than being overwhelmed by the size of the problem, we have to get on with the business of government and get on with the business of growing this economy by selecting a number of areas where growth is possible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The area where we have seen growth, I say to the Premier, is in the size of the Cabinet, in $100,000 new jobs being created, in the Premier scooting off to Bristol during budget debate here in the House. I ask the Premier, in our college system now will there be a fair competition for all senior positions within the entire college system, or will we see more blatant nepotism and political appointments?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite wants to talk about the size of the Cabinet. The size of the Cabinet the last time that party held power was either twenty-three or twenty-four members. That is the record, as opposed to sixteen today on this side of the House. Five parliamentary assistants, three or four -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER TOBIN: Sorry, what was that? Did you put that on the public record at the time? I don't recall it? Where can you point to? Look, let me say this to the Leader of the Opposition. This can become -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this debate in the House can either become the very predictable exchange back and forth, and I've worked and operated from that side of the House in a different role in Opposition. Now I have the challenge and the responsibility on this side of the House. This can all be very predictable for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, this exchange across the floor, or we really can do something a little more challenging which is to have an exchange of ideas about where we go from here in this Province. I would hope we would rise to the occasion and have a better exchange than simply a predictable partisan exchange back and forth.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I direct this question to the hon. the Premier, and I would like to also change the colour of the book from blue to red. On page 67 of the Liberal red book it states in bold print: "The new Liberal government is committed to dialogue and discussion on all elements of implementing educational reform before decisions are made."

My question to the Premier is, where have these discussions taken place? When have these discussions taken place, and with whom, with respect to aspects of educational reform in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would invite the member to not read just one passage from page 67 of the Liberal platform document. I would invite him to read the whole section. Because if he reads the whole section what he will see very clearly is a commitment - he would like an answer, I know, and I'm trying to provide one - which says very clearly: "The people have spoken. Educational reform will proceed."

The document then goes on to point out that there are a number of areas where on the broad question of educational reform, which is the question which was before the people in a referendum last year, which is the subject of an amendment which is now before the House of Commons which I expect will be tabled this week - certainly my hope is it will be tabled this week - and dealt with before the House of Commons rises this summer, there is specific reference - I would now advise him to go to page 68 - in which we say that there are a number of areas in which parents have expressed a concern with respect to the organization of primary and secondary schools across the Province.

It says with respect to school viability rules, no new school viability rules will be implemented until such time as there has been public consultation across the Province with respect to the impact and the make-up of those new school viability rules.

The second matter in question, which was very clear during the election campaign and which is also clearly spelled out in the document, if he reads the full document, is on the question of school busing and school busing times. We said in the document there would be no change there unless and until we had had a chance to test those new proposals against the litmus test of public opinion and public scrutiny and common sense.

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be able to tell the member, and I'm glad he has asked the question, that the Minister of Education indeed has put forward or brought forward a plan which will be made public in the next day or two for an extensive series of public consultations all over Newfoundland and Labrador to fully keep the commitment that is contained in the red book.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Just to follow through, Mr. Speaker. I again ask the Premier - which is why perhaps when we look at what has happened in recent weeks in this Province there is so much confusion on this issue of educational reform.

We have releases from the office of the minister indicating to the public of the Province that we have a framework agreement. Just last week the Premier has added to the confusion in a public statement saying that there is no agreement at this time. So I simply ask the Premier to clarify the position, to hopefully let's avoid confusion on the matter. Is there a framework agreement in existence at this time in this Province as we speak? Is there in existence a framework agreement on the issue of education reform?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to clarify the matter yet again for the member and for all members of the House. The member opposite knows, because he engaged in the practice of law before he came to the House, that a framework agreement is a framework around which a discussion occurs. The language, "framework agreement," is very well understood by a great many people.

For example, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has a framework agreement with the Labrador Inuit Association in Labrador for land claims discussions. The member knows that. We have had that framework agreement for the last four years. We are still negotiating the land claim. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador signed a few weeks ago - indeed, the Leader of the NDP was present - a framework agreement with the Innu people. A framework agreement which set out the parameters for a discussion, for a negotiation, on land claims with the Innu people. We are now engaged in that discussion.

For the benefit of the members opposite we have a framework agreement for discussion with the DECs on the question of how we go about implementing the education reform package. But there is not a final agreement on how that implementation is yet to occur, and those discussions are ongoing. Now I just ask one question myself, because I know the member is anxious on behalf of his party to set the record straight, does the Leader of the Opposition and does the Conservative Party support the amendment as proposed in the House of Commons, and will they join a delegation from this side of the House to go to Ottawa to press for passage of that amendment, yes or no?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: The people have spoken on that issue, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I take by that last response that there is still room for dialogue and discussion which is in accordance with the Liberal Red Book and in accordance with the wording of the Speech from the Throne. Therefore, in view of the fact that this matter has not closed, Mr. Speaker, I can only assume that the Premier and the members opposite will invite other critical and important stakeholders in education, namely, Mr. Speaker, the majority of integrated school boards in this Province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, the Home and School Federation and the majority of parents and students in this Province who, as I mentioned earlier, Mr. Speaker, are confused and concerned. My question to the Premier is: Will he now invite these other critical stakeholders to partake in a process which the hon. Premier himself has admitted has not been finalized?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education has either met or is in the process of meeting with all of the groups that have been mentioned. Indeed, I think meetings have occurred with almost all of them.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to come back to something which I think has to be fundamental. We said that the people have spoken in a referendum and that we are going to proceed with the reform that was spelled out in the referendum. We are going to proceed to implement the reform that was included in the amendment that was put before the House of Commons. We, on this side, are very comfortable that we are going to proceed to ask the Parliament of Canada to pass that amendment. I want to ask the Leader of the Opposition, whether he and his party will accompany me to Ottawa in an all party unanimous delegation to have the amendment passed forthwith?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Premier of the Province is spending so much time outside the Province that he neglected to or probably he did not see - the Leader of the Opposition last week held a news conference calling for exactly that and I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition would go hand in hand with the Premier on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, since 1992 the former Liberal government under Premier Wells talked a lot about a strategic social plan. During the election this Premier, Premier Tobin, promised to the people of this Province that within sixty days that a consultation paper - I will read it directly, `The new Liberal Government will prepare and release a consultation paper for a strategic social plan within sixty days of the election.' Now if that was the case, if that document was released we would have expected it by April 22. My question for the Premier is, why hasn't that been presented thus far and released? When can we see it forthcoming?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have just had a brief consultation with the Minister of Social Services and indeed the consultation document is near completion. A date for its release and the release of the document itself will be forthcoming within the next number of days by the Minister of Social Services, hopefully within the next week to ten days. The document that the member makes reference to will be public and open for public consultation and comment but, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province have a right to know where we all stand on fundamental questions. We know where all of the members on this side of the House stand on the question of proceeding with an amendment in Ottawa to Term 17. We are waiting for the word of the Leader of the Opposition on this one.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the release of this strategic social plan is very important. Many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, many action groups who have been involved over the past two-and-a-half years with this process are anxiously awaiting to see what this document will contain. I would like to ask the Premier this question: Can he confirm for the House that a former deputy minister in government has been retained at a deputy minister status within government, to work directly on the plan over the next six or seven months?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure what the member is talking about but I can confirm for the member that we have senior officials throughout the government and senior staff throughout the government who are working on the document, as the member would expect. It is an important piece of work but I don't think we have brought a former deputy minister back into government who is out of government. I think we have people at the deputy minister rank, at the rank of the Clerk of the Privy Council, at the rank of the Secretary to Cabinet, at the rank of most of the Cabinet, at the rank of the caucus and members of the Liberal Party. We have a great many people working on it, but that should not surprise him; I hope that would reassure him.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me be a little bit more specific for the Premier, then. Has a former deputy minister, Robert Jenkins, a credible individual, a credible civil servant - his credentials are not in question in this House, and I certainly won't be questioning them, but - has he been retained by government to work specifically on the strategic social plan, yes or no?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: I have to say to the member and I hope the member has his - because I know the member would want to make sure he represents matters properly - you are referring to the gentleman, Mr. Jenkins, as a former civil servant?

MR. E. BYRNE: No, a former deputy minister.

PREMIER TOBIN: No, he is not a former deputy minister; he is still a senior civil servant. He is at a deputy minister's salary and rank.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Premier hasn't really answered the question. The reality is this: Has he been retained to work on, specifically, the strategic social plan? My information is that he has.

My next question for the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Has he been retained specifically to work on the strategic social plan, yes or no?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, some of the ministers are obviously more familiar with the senior civil servants than I am, having been here longer, but I am told that Mr. Jenkins has been in government for twenty-nine years now, many of those years as a deputy minister, and he, together with many other senior civil servants - because when you are talking about a strategic social plan, you are talking about a plan that has very big impacts on the work and responsibilities of the Minister of Social Services, impacts on the work and responsibilities of the Minister of Education, impacts on the work and responsibilities of the Minister of Health, and many other departments, so it is not unusual that many people are involved in preparing the consultation document.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, as I have said, I believe the Minister of Education, in the first question asked, basically answered my question when he shouted out to the Premier that Mr. Jenkins has been retained to work on the strategic social plan at a deputy minister's salary, which leads me to this question, Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly. Why was the former minister, former MHA for CBS - by what qualifications or by what criteria was she hired at a rate of $300 a day to work on a plan that basically has already been worked on and almost completed? Why was she hired at this point in time as a consultant to this very, very important strategic economic plan?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the individual in question was co-Chair of a task force with the Member for Waterford - Kenmount on children in the Province and we think brings, because of that particular expertise and knowledge, valuable insight to the process and that is precisely why the individual in question has been retained.

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

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

Ms. Cowan's credentials are not really the issue here, Mr. Speaker; there is a higher principle involved. The work that she performed and did on the Children's Interests Committee, while it may be part of what is happening in the strategic social plan, it is only one part. Is the real reason, Premier, that the former MHA for Conception Bay South - the real reason that she was hired - was to help her bridge her time to get to when she can get her pension? Is not that the real reason that this form of political patronage went on?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the last time that I had any knowledge or involvement in seeing a former Member of the House of Assembly be employed anywhere where I had a role was when the former Leader of the Conservative Party, Mr. Tom Rideout, the former Premier of the Province, worked for me during the turbot war and brought his expertise into my office in the international branch as a former member of this House for a period of six months, and worked there and did good work on behalf of Newfoundland and Labrador, and good work on behalf of Canada, and nobody said that I was patronizing a member of the House when I brought Mr. Tom Rideout into my office during the course of the turbot war, and you should be ashamed of your partisanship on this side of the House today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier.

Given the profound consequences of any Budget that has to deal with a shortfall of $300 million, will the Premier show leadership by cancelling his trip to Bristol, England, next week, and instead, stay at home to provide direction and much needed answers to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians during this period of hardship?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if I understand what the member Opposite is saying, he is asking that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, I take it, not be present, any member of the government at the conference which is being held in England, at which twenty-two businesses, I understand, from the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are going to be present: people from the tourism sector, people from the book-publishing sector, people who are going to promote the Cabot 500 celebrations next year, people from the Arts community.

Now, if the member is saying that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in whatever manifestations are appropriate to promote the Province, should not be going to Bristol, he should stand up and clearly say that because we don't think that you can walk away from the job of promoting Newfoundland and Labrador and bringing new wealth to the Province by developing a tourism sector at this, a one in 500-year chance to bring the news of Newfoundland and Labrador around the world.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has elapsed.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: In accordance with Section 5(4) of the Internal Economy Commission Act, I wish to advise the House with respect to the membership of the Commission of Internal Economy.

The members are: The Member for Bellevue in his capacity as Deputy Speaker; the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour - both ministers have been appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council in their capacity as Members of Cabinet; and the hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods in his capacity as Government House Leader; the Member for Waterford Valley in his capacity as Opposition House Leader; and the Member for Kilbride as a member of the Opposition, and a speaker who is Chair for the Commission.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means to consider the raising of Supply to be granted to Her Majesty. I give further notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of Supply to Her Majesty.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: This is for tomorrow, Mr. Speaker:

Whereas the fisheries is in a state of transition in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and

Whereas the economic conditions of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador have a strong correlation to the state of the fishery; and

Whereas the future of the Province's fishery lies in careful management, cultivation and preservation of the fisheries resource;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly support the present and future initiatives of aquaculture and fish farming for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in an attempt to revitalize the once vibrant fishery.


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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition signed by approximately 10,000 people and I will read the petition, Mr. Speaker:

We, the residents of the Baccalieu Trail, petition the hon. Minister of Education, Roger Grimes, to cancel his announcement and retain first-year university courses at Carbonear Campus Eastern College.

MR. FITZGERALD: How come the Member for Harbour Grace is not presenting it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


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

The Chair has asked the hon. the Member for Bonavista South to restrain himself. We are now on Petitions and members must keep their comments relevant to the material allegations in the petitions. And members can speak, of course, when they are recognized by the Chair.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: The prayer of the petition: Education must be accessible and affordable to rural Newfoundland high school graduates. The Needs Assessment Study completed by the Baccalieu Trail Chamber of Commerce was conclusive in determining the need of offering first-year university courses at Carbonear and was supported by the Provincial Government in the March 1995 Budget. Such action will induce financial hardship to the parents and students of the Baccalieu Trail and may deprive many students of first-year university due to increased financial hardship imposed by the Provincial Government.

We, the undersigned, petition the government to withdraw such action, and support the action of the Baccalieu Trail Chamber of Commerce in registering our written objection.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, this, signed by approximately 10,000 people, is indicative of the concern that people in that area have for accessibility to post-secondary education. It is a growing area in this Province, an area in which enrolment is increasing, and one in which this government spent $1.5 million to improve and enhance the campus so they can deliver education to students in an environment where it is going to save them $5000 to $6000 a year.

This government has the gumption and the gall to come out without a plan, without any fiscal plan, without any plan on post-secondary education, to show the rationale behind this cutting decision. The minister stood in his place today and said, we are going to come out with a plan in the future. He made the cuts. He cut Carbonear and he cut every other single part of the Province. If the Government House Leader listened today the Minister of Education said: We are going to come up with a plan. They are going to cut, and cut, and cut, and then they are going to come out with a plan and try to justify the cuts they made.

Would not a responsible government look at the growth of the area, look at their ability to deliver those courses, and look at making them more accessible? This is another example of downloading costs on families in this Province, yes, in this Province, and particularly in rural areas of this Province, downloading the cost on families which have been decimated by a downturn in the economy of this Province. It is a further blow to people out around this Province who have listened to the past government here, the Liberal government, and the previous P.C. government talk about a decentralized approach to education in the Province, where people in Port aux Basques and in Labrador, and out in Carbonear, in Springdale, and Baie Verte, and in all the other campuses of this Province could attend first-year university and live in their own homes without having board and lodging costs and transportation costs which have been estimated at $5000 or $6000.

Many families have two kids attending post-secondary institutions and where are they going to come up with $10,000 a year for a four-year term, or even two years? They were promised a college in Central Newfoundland by the Liberal government, a full degree granting status. They were promised it. They were promised to spread those courses out.

Well, one thing that is offensive to people is not just necessarily not providing something but being promised they are going to be given something, and then not give it to them. The integrity of the government is at stake then, and the confidence that people have in the government to deliver on something they promised. That is the most galling part of the decision, apart from the financial aspect that has never been shown by this government.

The minister cannot stand up, or the Minister of Finance, Education, or the Premier, have failed to respond today by tabling and showing us a plan to rationalize and tell us why they had to make these cuts, what they are going to save, what is going to be the incurred cost on the system, and what, in the long-term - the Premier talks about the future here in this Province - what particular avenue -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: With leave to finish up, Mr. Speaker.

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: What better avenue do we have, to future prosperity in this Province than through education? If we ever hope to get an economic turnaround in this Province, yes, there is a future in the gallery, Mr. Speaker. That is our future. What hope do we have in this Province? I have people in my district, hundreds of them who have left this Province in the last year and their only real hope is through education; and if this government denies that right, then the future of this Province is doomed, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to join in support of the petition presented by the Leader of the Opposition. I just spoke to a group of students and supporters outside the House of Assembly in the lobby, who are very concerned that their campus is gone, and concerned that they will no longer have access to first-year university in Carbonear. I wonder why it is that the representatives of those people aren't here to listen to this petition. They aren't here. The Member for Port de Grave is not here, the Member for Carbonear is not here. The hon. Speaker is here but he is in a different capacity. The people of Carbonear, like the people of Springdale, like the people of Burin, Lewisporte, the other places which have access through this program to university education, are going to be denied it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I said to the group gathered outside, the campus and the first-year university program in Carbonear is not there for the convenience of people who happen to live in that area so they can go to school in Carbonear instead of coming to St. John's. It is not there to provide economic activity in Carbonear, although that is a spin-off. It is there to guarantee access to higher education to people in that part of the Province. Because anybody who has gone to the large campus at St. John's over the years knows that the first year is the most difficult year for students to succeed at Memorial University, particularly those students who have to make a large transition to living on their own, to moving to a large city or a larger place of living, to look after themselves, and to also face a rather daunting prospect of a university campus with several thousand students. Those of us who have been there know what that is like.

One of the better programs that the previous government fostered was the development of these campuses and the first-year program throughout the Province. To take that away without any consultation - the 10,000 people who signed that petition obviously don't feel that they were consulted as to whether this was a proper move that this government should take. And the backlash, I suppose, is making the Minister of Education have some second thoughts himself. We have already heard him try to take a chameleon-like position with respect at least to the Central Newfoundland situation.

I ask the minister and the government sincerely that if they are concerned about the future of the people of this Province, not just some rhetoric about a better tomorrow, if they are concerned about the opportunity that the people who live in this Province today are going to have tomorrow, then one thing that they can't cut back on is the opportunity that students will have to obtain a higher education so that they can go on to participate in that better tomorrow, to be able to obtain jobs and to contribute to our economy and to participate in the future that we have.

So when choices are being made, and as choices have to be made, then let those choices not be made in a way that is going to deprive the young people of this Province of an opportunity to participate in higher education, to obtain a degree, and to learn what needs to be learned in order to move forward and to take advantage of the opportunities that exist, not just here in Newfoundland but all across this country. I don't believe that every person who was born in Newfoundland has to spend their life here - that is why we are a part of Canada; but the opportunities that are there, people must have the capacity and the means to take advantage of them. One way to ensure that, to help that, is to ensure access to quality education at the higher levels. To take that away at this crucial point in time is to deny young people the hope that they need to continue on and to work hard, to make success for themselves, their communities, in this Province.

I support this petition wholeheartedly, and I would hope that the Minister of Education will convince his colleagues to change their minds, and particularly the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to change his mind, and exercise different choices that would see the continuance of access to university education in the rural communities which now have them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the hon. the Leader of the Opposition bringing the matter before the House, because it deserves, I think, some comment and explanation. The context, I believe, needs to be made clear for the basis of the petition.

Government, in announcing the decision that it did, through myself as the Minister of Education, was laying out one aspect and one part of a total Budget that will be read in this Legislature and presented here for the whole Province by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, in a couple of days time. And I think you will find at that time - I won't attempt to read his Budget for him, but - the context and the consultation that is already and will continue to be one of the hallmarks of this particular government was that people brought several messages back that went into the discussion of the Budget. One was: Don't tax us any more if you can help it at all. You are taking too much money from us now. Spend what you have, and leave us alone on the taxation side. In plain English, that's the basic message we received. Secondly: If you can at all, don't do any reductions on the health care side. Thirdly: If you can at all, don't do any reductions in education, because it seemed to be the priority that everybody states and believes that it is.

Then, the list got a little shorter after that, but those three came repeatedly from all the consultation, all of the exercise. Then, there was one other point that said: If, however, you have to make some reductions because of the $230 million that the Minister of Finance was discussing publicly, which now everybody understands is closer to $300 million, as a difficulty we have to overcome - if you have to make reductions as the government, then make the reductions at the administrative side, at the top ends, at the management levels, rather than at the service side, so that people are not disadvantaged with respect to services that they currently receive.

I think it is clear that the education reductions that were announced a couple of weeks ago show that we could not meet the total objective in terms of not cutting education. The Minister of Finance, in a couple of days, will talk about whether or not we are taxing people, whether or not we are going to have reductions in health and other departmental areas. But certainly it is clear from the preliminary announcement given in education that the limit to which we could not cut actual programs was reached before we got through all of the education system, as the third thing mentioned in the consultation; and in the initial efforts with $230 million as a target, we thought we had reached, and Cabinet was satisfied that we had reached, our objectives on the education side administratively, with no dropping or changing of any program basis; but just by going from five college administrations to one at the post-secondary level, by going from twenty-seven school boards to ten in the K to XII system, there would be significant savings that would not see program delivery in any way negatively impacted for students, either in the K to XII system or in the post-secondary system.

Going back through the exercise again, when we became aware that we had another $60 million to $70 million deficit problem to deal with, it was obvious then that some program areas were, in fact, discussed, and I announced two of them for reduction in terms of closing some campuses and eliminating the offering of first-year university as we know it today in the campuses everywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador except here in St. John's, in Corner Brook at the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and in Labrador West.

What has happened since then - and everybody has clearly made their views known, as were made known again today by representatives from the Baccalieu Trail that they don't like the decision; they would wish and hope for another decision, that some other means could be found by government to effect the savings and the reductions. And I can tell you that it is not something that this particular government wants to be engaged in or involved in. Because we firmly believe in and we are a large part of the Government of the Province that made, and continues to try to make, education as accessible to as many students in the Province as close as possible to where they live.

The good news in it, if there is any, is that the college boards, both in Central Newfoundland and in the Eastern College, which covers not only Carbonear, which is the group today, but Clarenville and Burin as well, have been working very hard with our officials to try to find alternate delivery mechanisms so that first-year university can still be offered in these campuses even within the reduced budget. Because they have understood that there is not much point in coming to myself, as one individual minister in the budget exercise, or to the Cabinet, and saying, `You must put $8 million back into this program'. All that would mean is that all of us on this side would have to go back through the whole exercise again and say, `If $8 million goes in here, now where are we going to take it out? Is it going to be in health? Is it going to be in Works, Services, and Transportation? Is it going to be in municipal operating grants?' We have gone through that exercise. The full details will be announced in a couple of days.

We are hopeful that, particularly for the students -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time is up.

MR. GRIMES: If I could, just for a second -

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


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. GRIMES: We are hopeful, especially for the students who are now put into an awkward position with their planning for next year, that we can make some final decisions in a matter of days with the college boards in Central Newfoundland and for the Eastern Region to let people know what version of first-year university those boards have now shown the government can be delivered in their campuses, not only in Carbonear but also Clarenville and also in Burin. The Central Newfoundland Board is talking about a single delivery site in Central Newfoundland and they are looking at options that would in fact see that delivered with no requirement of the government to try to put extra money back into the education budget to allow it to happen. It may or may not, Mr. Speaker, be acceptable to the students. They may look at what is proposed and say, no I don't like this. I am either not going to first-year university next year at all or I am going to St. John's or Corner Brook or I am going to a mainland university, and exercise some other option. But at least there will be an option unveiled in a matter of very short order that will give the students a choice as to what they want to do for next year.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a petition.

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

I stand today to present a petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador which reads:

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power has asked the Public Utilities Board to approve an increase in electricity rates; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power, having made some $27.8 million in profit last year, is not in need of extra revenue from consumers; and

WHEREAS not having had a rate increase since 1992 is no justification for a rate increase in 1996;

WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do whatever is required to prevent an increase in Newfoundland Power electricity rates, and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this was a very, very important issue before the House closed and it has become more important today for a number of reasons, not the least of which that since the House closed, this government has entered into a memorandum of understanding with respect to the harmonization of provincial sales tax and the GST. The impact that this will have on all areas of government revenues, Mr. Speaker, will be profound and far-reaching.

Specifically dealing with Newfoundland Power, we debated in this House a private member's resolution - supported by all members of the House, I believe, at the time, with minor amendments suggested by the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island - that we give the Consumer Advocate whatever power and whatever resources that we could provide to him, from the government, to ensure that the consumers' interest was represented to the best of our ability as legislators and as government; and most importantly, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that rates for Newfoundland Power would remain at their present level. What will the impact be of government's recent initiative on the PST/GST harmonization, the impact upon heat bills, oil bills but in particular the impact upon the average consumer in Newfoundland and Labrador? They will see, Mr. Speaker, if there is no increase granted by the Public Utilities Board, based upon its submission right now, if there is no increase - it is important for everyone to understand that - that as a result of this memorandum of agreement which will be implemented, the people of this Province who pay for electricity, which are the majority of us, consumers, will see an average increase of approximately 8 per cent - a little bit less, about 7.8 per cent. I say to the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods that the answer is yes. It is not no, that the Vice-President of Newfoundland and Labrador Power, with whom I spoke -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on, if the minister would like to hear out the full component of it. On a CBC radio interview, the Vice-President of Newfoundland Power said that on average - because of GST and the PST harmonization - consumers will pay about 7.7 per cent to 7.8 per cent. The Consumer Advocate, appointed by this government, said exactly the same thing. While we were debating this, Mr. Speaker, while we in this House were debating a private members' resolution and petitions, the reality is that people in this Province, because of the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by this government, will pay on average about 7.9 per cent to 8 per cent more for electricity rates across the board. That is not including or factoring in, Mr. Speaker, the possibility of a rate increase right now that Newfoundland Power has put before the Public Utilities Board.

Mr. Speaker, that situation I find personally unacceptable and I think all members, for the most part, would find it unacceptable, too. All members in this House receive calls as I do about increases in light bills, about the nature of the economy, how tough it is today. And when we see an initiative that really will hurt this Province in the long run in terms of our ability to gain revenue, to generate revenue, that will give us more of an ability to provide more services, the very services that we are cutting today, and we see an initiative by government that limits our ability on the one hand in terms of our tax control and our ability to tax, but more importantly that diminishes the amount of revenue that comes into this Province and that comes into provincial coffers for the sake of harmonization, then I think that we all should stand up and start to question this decision and the impact it will have for the future of the Province.

In year two, for example, on harmonization we will receive 100 per cent of what our revenues supposedly were, what the lost revenues would be. In year three, fifty cents on every dollar what we would have lost, and in year four, twenty-five cents on every dollar. But the real losers are the people in this Province who will be paying more for clothing, books, basic necessities like heat and oil. At the same time, what we essentially have done is put an extra burden upon the backs of the people in this Province who can ill afford to have it upon their backs.

The Minister of Education stood in this House just two minutes ago and said that when government went around the Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker, to clue up?

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


MR. E. BYRNE: No leave?

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: Just a couple of minutes ago, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education stood and said that the people of this Province, when the government travelled in consulting about making choices about what would be coming up in the Budget - and it is a difficult time for government, it is a difficult time for all members, and it would be a difficult time no matter who sat on that side of the House and what we are doing today. But the minister did say that the people of this Province said loudly and clearly: Don't raise taxes. The indirect impact of harmonization of GST and PST upon Newfoundland Light and Power and a basic commodity to the people of this Province will be in fact a direct increase in the amount of electricity rates that we pay to the tune of 7.7 per cent to 8 per cent.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to support the petition of my colleague, the Member for Kilbride. I won't get into the matters of the taxation. I think my colleague has very well covered that. I will say again today that this is still part of where we ended off when the House closed, of numerous petitions that will come before this hon. House to see that there is no increase granted to Newfoundland Light and Power in this Province.

Its rates today of profits are exorbitant, its interest rates are at an all-time low, and yet it continues to try to fleece the people of this Province. I think it is time that it stopped. We intend to keep presenting the petitions of the people in this Province until something is done to change the regulations of the PUB so that we can carry on and have some control over them.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main - Whitbourne.

MR. WHELAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in this hon. House today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Harbour Main - Chapel Cove - Lakeview.

The prayer of the petition is as follows:

WHEREAS we, the residents of Harbour Main in the District of Harbour Main - Whitbourne feel the closure of St. Joseph's School will be detrimental to the children of Harbour Main; and

WHEREAS our children will be bused to a school whose driveway and parking area will compromise the safety of our children; and

WHEREAS we feel that many of the benefits derived from programs presently offered at St. Joseph's will suffer;

WHEREFORE this House of Assembly should call upon the government to bring pressure to bear on the school board to rescind their decision to close St. Joseph's School; and as in duty bound our petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, the petition I have here contains approximately 660 names. They come from, as I mentioned, the community of Harbour Main - Chapel Cove - Lakeview. This particular community has had a long and very proud tradition of setting standards for education in the Conception Bay Centre area. They have a strong sense of community identity. That sense of identity is gradually being eroded and worn away. It has a very adverse effect on people and a community.

The standards of education in this school in Harbour Main is very well-known in the Conception Bay Centre area. Approximately 150 years ago, members of the Presentation Order, Sisters of the Presentation Order, stepped ashore from their boats, climbed the banks and from there established a school, the standards of which, probably ranks second to none anywhere in the Province.

The present school board has seen fit to close the St. Joseph's School; they presently house students from Kindergarten to Grade VI. They are proposing to bus them to a school in Holyrood, Holy Cross School. I don't have any problems with the school itself. The approach to the school and the school grounds are another issue however; I understand there is a proposal to spend approximately anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 just to try to make the approach to the school somewhat safer than what it is. And I still have doubts whether they can accomplish the goal that they are setting out to do. So there is a problem there in the sense that the safety of the schoolchildren from Harbour Main could be compromised and I can understand the parents' concerns about that.

The school board has taken upon itself to decide to close the school, I got the impression from the meetings and the public meetings that I had attended. The government had taken the initiative to ask the school board to close them, but I understand that is not the case really. That decision was made by the school board itself. And I can understand the Minister of Education, there aren't many avenues that he can follow, but I will ask him today to follow any and every avenue that he has, to see that the decision made by the school board is rescinded and that indeed the school at Harbour Main, St. Joseph's School, continues to stay open.

No doubt, in years to come, a lot of these schools will be centralized as student enrolment declines. However, if they are centralized, I would like to see them centralized in a central location. Those plans that they have right now is to decentralize, to bus children to school at one extreme of the Conception Bay Centre area and I don't know if that is an overly-wise decision.

Again, I repeat, and I ask the minister - I have had several meetings with the minister and I can understand the dilemma that he is in, but I will ask the minister to follow each and every avenue that he has at his disposal to see that the decision made by the school board is changed.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to rise today to support the petition of my hon. colleague on the opposite side. I, too, have attended many meetings as it relates to St. Joseph's School in Harbour Main and as well because in my own district it refers to Holy Cross School in Holyrood.

I probably do not agree with everything my friend has said over there. I am not so sure if total blame here should really rest with the Western Avalon Regional Roman Catholic School Board or whether there is actually a problem maybe with the Department of Education, or whether there is a problem with the R.C. Board in St. John's which allocates the funds. I might ask the minister that maybe some pressure should be made there, that some of the funds be released so that this school board is not saddled with the responsibility of borrowing money because they can show a savings, Mr. Speaker, by closing St. Joseph's School which I think is certainly wrong.

My understanding is, and I have been trying for some time to get a copy of the letter but I don't seem to be having much luck from the school board or from the department, that, if they close St. Joseph's School and there is a savings there, the school board will be given permission to borrow the money and they can then go ahead and make the necessary repairs at Holy Cross School.

At Holy Cross School, Mr. Speaker, there is a major problem. I am surprised that over the last number of years they have allowed children to go into that school, especially in the winter months when you cannot drive a seventy-two passenger school bus up to the door of the school, but the savings that will be made by closing Harbour Main they claim will offset this and they will actually be able to make repairs to the school at Holy Cross in Holyrood.

It is very interesting to note that at St. Joseph's school all the challenging needs children from Colliers right through to Holyrood actually go to school at St. Joseph's. Mr. Speaker, I think it is wrong that we close this school. I think the funding should be allocated to make the necessary repairs to Holy Cross School, to the parking lot, and that there should be somebody interceding today on behalf of the people of Harbour Main to see that St. Joseph's remains open.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few brief comments because I have attended meetings with both of the hon. members that participated in this particular petition and I think everybody understands that there is a particular process that has been followed with respect to the Avalon West Roman Catholic School Board. While a lot of parents are disappointed in certain parts of that particular area, particularly the Harbour Main area, and disagree with the decision, I have been spending my time, Mr. Speaker, trying to make sure that everybody understands that it is not a role for the Minister of Education or the Department of Education to make any particular decision about a school opening, closing, or consolidation in the Province.

The duly elected school boards are mandated to make those kind of decisions, and in this instance, just like we have done in several other regions of the Province, because there is no funding available through the Denominational Education Councils, and because there is no additional funding available directly from the department, because by virtue of the Constitution and the law in the Province we cannot give money directly to any one board or any one school for a project.

I believe and I always thought, Mr. Speaker, that the hon. member opposite actually understood that and had come to learn that it is not a possibility for us to do that in Newfoundland and Labrador at this time. What we are doing is continuing to provide information for the parents, particularly from the Harbour Main area who feel disadvantaged and are upset by the fact that their school is slated for closure, a decision taken by the duly elected board after they examined the whole issue with respect to Harbour Main and Holyrood.

It is unfortunate that some people have tried to make this a political issue by suggesting that the board is closing a school because the government asked them to do it. The government, Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge, has never asked any school board to open or close a school anywhere. In the draft legislation, for example, we suggested that superintendents should be hired by the department instead of by school boards but everybody protested and we immediately withdrew that, even before the last election.

Those people are employees of the school boards and the school boards are elected just like we are. Their mandate is to make those decisions and they have made a very tough decision and they know it is not very popular with the community of Harbour Main and the parents of Harbour Main. It is never an easy decision to make. The board has been supported in it by the department, and by government, to the extent that it is the only option available to them.

If they wanted to do that, which they concluded they did, the only option available to them to make it happen, was for us to find a way to give them permission to borrow, because under the Constitution and under the law of the Province we could not give them money and the DECs did not have any money for them. Mr. Speaker, we are trying to facilitate a decision that has gone through the proper process at the board level. It is clearly one that a certain segment of the population of a particular community does not agree with.

We met with them as recently, and as late, as this morning and the only recourse left to them is to try and ask the board one more time to reconsider the decision. They are going to look at that particular option and we have continued to provide them with information as to exactly what role the government and the department is playing so that they can make the appropriate approaches with their duly elected school board with respect to the issue.

At this point in time the decision of the board is that they want to close, and they have in fact ordered the closure of St. Joseph's School in Harbour Main. They are looking to borrow money so that they can make the improvements at the school in Holyrood. That is the decision of the board as it stands, and that government will try to facilitate, unless the board changes its mind.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition from people from Bonavista South, the District of Terra Nova, and some people from, or at least one person from, the District of Port de Grave.

Mr. Speaker, it is a petition once again addressed to the hon. the House of Assembly in legislative session convened. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. That whereas Newfoundland Power has asked the Public Utilities Board to approve an increase in electricity rates; and whereas Newfoundland Power has a monopoly in the delivery of the essential commodity in this Province, is not at risk of becoming non-competitive; wherefore your petitioners humbly pray that the hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do whatever is required to prevent an increase in Newfoundland Power electricity rates; and as duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition signed by the people of this particular area in opposition to a proposed increase request by Newfoundland Light and Power whereby it has come forward to the Public Utilities Board to request a 4.9 per cent increase in its electricity rates. My hon. colleague here, my friend for the District of Kilbride, spoke about what will happen when we harmonize the GST with the PST, and we talk about another 8 per cent hike in electricity rates. Whether we like it or not it is a tax, it is a hike in rates, it is a rate that people will have to pay, and then all of a sudden we see the rate payers of Newfoundland and Labrador not only paying the 4.9 per cent increase that this particular utility is looking for, but the far greater price of approximately 13 per cent. That will translate into probably $55, $56 a month for anybody in rural Newfoundland heating their house by electricity.

It is unfortunate that most of the people who are going to be hit with those high electricity rates are people in this Province who can least afford it. Those are people who are out there today living on social service receipts, social service welfare, people out there today getting funding through the TAGS program, people out there today working for the minimum wage in this Province. Those are the people that this rate increase is going to hurt the most.

We talk about consultation, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board talked about when he went around the Province. People continually came forward and said: We don't want to see health care cut back, we don't want to see a hike in taxes. This is a hike in taxes. It is not a luxury any more to have electricity. Everybody who I know of has electricity in most of the rural areas of this Province. It is a bill that they have to pay the same as having to pay their income tax or a tax on any other item or commodity that they purchase at the local store, or that they pay when they submit their income tax return at the end of the year.

I remember a few years ago in working for a fish plant on the Island, and this was a seasonal plant, and naturally in order to survive the particular plant had to look at cutting expenses and shaving and cutting the garment as much as possible in order to save dollars. I was amazed to find out that this particular industry only operating two months of the year had to pay an electricity rate for twelve months of the year, the same price as they paid when they were in production. Unbelievable! You consult the utility and the first thing it says is that you pay on demand, and if you use that amount of electricity for any particular time during that particular year then you pay that rate for the whole year. Unless of course you hit a higher demand, and then you pay that, but it never goes any lower.

This is the kind of a problem that we are experiencing here where you have an industry with a monopoly on what it is producing and what it is selling. When you look at the advertising that has been done by this particular commodity over the year and you turn on your television and you see those fancy ads. The Irving Oil company, a giant conglomerate from New Brunswick, is running the ad continually but that is being paid - we have a choice there. If we don't want to buy their oil we can buy somebody else's. We don't have a choice, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a minute to clue up, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: We don't have a choice, Mr. Speaker, as it relates to electricity in this Province, so I ask the government, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, if they would consider intervening here, and I firmly believe that $28 million is a nice tidy profit and anybody or any other company in this Province would be certainly welcome and would certainly be encouraged and would remain here and be competitive if they were allowed to make that kind of a profit.

Thank you very much.

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

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

I stand to support the Member for Bonavista's petition dealing with the proposed rate increase from Newfoundland Light and Power. A few moments ago, Mr. Speaker, I presented my own petition dealing with it and I highlighted at that time, the impact that the PST- GST harmonization would have on Newfoundland Light and Power and the increase in rates that it will cause for all consumers, each and every one of us who sit in the House of Assembly as consumers, but, Mr. Speaker, what I would like to do now is just to highlight some of the events that have transpired, since the House closed, with Newfoundland Light and Power.

About two weeks after the House closed, Newfoundland Light and Power put out a public release that they didn't really need a 4.9 per cent increase in power rates, but actually, all they needed was a 3.9 per cent increase, that they had looked over their submission to the PUB, that they had redone their numbers, that they had a third and fourth look over and they felt that they could get by with a 3.9 per cent increase if the Public Utility Board would be so good as to provide it, and obviously, the consumer advocate and those people who are involved and all consumers who do not want to see an increase, thought that was laughable but, it also provided some insight and provided some people with a great deal of relief that the public pressure that was being put upon this corporation and the pressure that is being put upon government through the Legislature, through members individually and through the consumer advocate was having some effect, and, Mr. Speaker, shortly after that announcement, came another one from Newfoundland Light and Power which suggested that they really didn't need a 3.9 per cent increase to compensate them for the upcoming years, to ensure that their debt equity ratio would remain intact, to ensure that the dividends paid to shareholders would remain at least constant if not somewhat higher, but in fact, that they could get by with a 2.9 per cent increase in electricity rates.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the reality is that this company and this corporation do not need an increase in rates to remain competitive in the marketplace. It does not need it, Mr. Speaker, but I can tell you this, that consumers and the people of this Province, at this time, due to the economic circumstances that we find ourselves in as a Province, due to the economic circumstances that this government finds itself in, do not need an increase in electricity rates and do not require any increase in taxes whether that be directly or indirectly, Mr. Speaker, but that is what is happening in this particular case.

If Newfoundland Power is granted a 2.9 per cent increase and on top GST and the PST harmonization go ahead, consumers in this Province will pay 10 per cent more for their electrical heat right now, not tomorrow, not two years from now, they will be paying 10 per cent more right now, today. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, it is unacceptable that we on the one hand are preaching conservation, that we are cutting back to ensure that basic services can be provided to the people of the Province, and on the other hand, this Legislature, which has the power to stop this, indirectly is saying to consumers: no, we haven't done it but Newfoundland Power is going to do it, and Newfoundland Power is saying: yes, we have done it because of an action by government called the harmonization of the PST and GST, which will wreak long-lasting and negative economic impacts for this Province in terms of lost revenues.

Mr. Speaker, I again, stand to support the Member for Bonavista in the petition that he presented on behalf of the people from his district, and will continue to do so, each and every time he presents it or any other member, whatever side of the House, is willing to present a petition on this very, very important issue.

Thank you very much.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that we move to Order No. 1, Address in Reply.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 1, Address in Reply.

The hon. the Member for Topsail.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, my first order of business today is to extend my congratulations to all recently elected and re-elected members of the 43rd House of Assembly. I would be lax in my duties if I did not, like others, take a moment to congratulate each and every one on a well run campaign.

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would also like to congratulate the Premier on his decision in making the transition from federal to provincial politics, a very successful one, I might add. I would also like to say thank you to the voters of Topsail for their overwhelming support, for choosing me as their representative in this most honourable House. I, as other members of this new Liberal government, look forward to working closely with the hon. Premier, my hon. colleagues in caucus, and the hon. members opposite.

Before I move on to impress upon the members of the House the importance of the district that I am proud to represent, I must extend a heartfelt thanks to the former MHA for Conception Bay South, Ms. Patricia Cowan, for the great contributions that she made to the area and to the Province as a whole. I had the great pleasure of working with Ms. Cowan, both as her campaign manager in two elections, and her executive assistant when she became Minister of the Crown. During that time I had ample opportunity to serve the people of what is now the great district of Topsail. Therefore, the role of an MHA is not an entirely new concept to me. In fact, the realm of the political arena and the complexities of the House are not new to me either. As a frequent visitor to the public gallery, I often wished that I could participate in the lively debate that took place among the hon. members, and I intend to take full advantage of my capabilities in this area, gained from both working with Ms. Cowan and my own personal experiences. I, too, as elected members before me, will strive to meet the needs of my constituents, and do my best to help every Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to take a few moments to talk about the Topsail district in some detail. I should point out first of all that my district is strategically located west of the overpass, and is one of the fastest growing areas in this Province. The district begins at Conways Brook in Long Pond, and extends eastward through the Town of Conception Bay South to encompass a large portion of the Town of Paradise.

I remind hon. members that it is difficult to talk about my district without mentioning the surrounding electoral districts of Conception Bay South, represented by the member opposite, and that of Conception Bay East and Bell Island, represented by my hon. colleague. It is worthy of emphasis that I represent a portion of the Town of Conception Bay South at the western perimeter, and a portion of the Town of Paradise in the east. Therefore, all three districts are so closely associated that I feel obligated to watch over the entire area rather than just the area of the Topsail district.

Mr. Speaker, in the last couple of years people have flocked to the area to build homes because of the easy access to St. John's. The many building lots that offer spectacular views of Conception Bay, and the quieter, more rural atmosphere is conducive to raising children.

Mr. Speaker, I must also mention the great amount of community spirit that exists in the Topsail district, areas such as the Peter Barry Duff Park has mushroomed into a hub of community activity. From the donation of the land in the memory of the late Peter Barry Duff, the community, with relatively a small grant of $32,000, has completed construction of a soccer field, as well as a baseball pitch nearing completion. This work could well have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but with the great community spirit this project was completed for considerably less.

I also recently attended a Flag Day celebration sponsored by the Conception Bay South Kinsmen and Kinnettes Club. This was a stirring moment as several residents gathered in the area to help support national unity. It made me proud to be a Newfoundlander, proud to be a citizen of the District of Topsail, but prouder still to be a citizen of this great country of Canada. I must also mention the tremendous work the Rotary Club is doing in the district. With the acquisition of the Topsail Beach Park it hopes to develop it into an all-year community site with walking and hiking trails, swimming, picnic areas. Truly a good example of drive and enthusiasm of the people of the District of Topsail.

I could speak for hours of the community spirit of the people of my district. I can only hope that the people will not be upset because there are several ongoing projects that I do not have time to mention. I believe that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can take an example from the community spirit and enthusiasm that is shared by the people of my great district.

As I have said, the population of the district has grown rapidly during the past number of years and continues to grow. This rapid residential growth has brought with it a crying need for water and sewer to service the many homes that line the roads of the district. In 1989 when the government changed hands the majority of the people in the district were carrying their drinking water and trying to keep their children from playing in sewer ditches. But that was 1989. As soon as the Liberal government was elected the town of Paradise was for the first time in a long time included in the capital works program. In total, Paradise has exceeded some $9 million in water and sewer grants to the town. The town of Conception Bay South has received in excess of $25 million in water and sewer and community enhancement grants since then. However, both towns are still in a great need of financial assistance for infrastructure. I am hoping that we will facilitate further improvements in the future. Towards that end I will continue to work closely with the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs in order to achieve the changes needed.

This Liberal government will pick up where its predecessors left off. It will stay the course and continue to deal with its financial position in a responsible and fair manner. In the past it became possible to undertake through the Department of Health a full assessment regarding the water and sewer requirements in the area. This study prioritized the areas of greatest need for services. Of course, this initiative was in keeping with one of the hallmarks of a Liberal government policy, and that is of addressing the areas of greatest need first and foremost regardless of political stripe of the district. This same policy will continue to be a feature of the new Liberal government.

Government in its wisdom established a committee of Cabinet to identify where the greatest need for water and sewer facilities existed in the Conception Bay South area and proceeded to address the problem. Shortly after the federal-provincial infrastructure program came into being the district was well equipped to make its case, and as a result $5 million of that program went into Conception Bay South with a commitment for more funding to follow in subsequent years. I was advised by the hon. Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs last week that he will be releasing some $5 million more for water and sewer work this year in the town of Conception Bay South.

The district has flourished in many ways through direct and indirect government involvement. For example, the development of much of the CBS highway to four lanes to the Foxtrap access road; the construction of two seniors' apartment complexes; the healthy beginning of the Conception Bay South by-pass road; funding for the Paradise rec centre; seed money and program funding for clean up and development of the beautiful Manuels river; and funding for the facilities for the 1996 provincial summer games. They are being held in the Town of Conception Bay South from August 10-17. Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend an invitation to all members of the House, as well as all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, to attend the 1996 Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games and I am sure it will be a good time for one and all.

Conception Bay South and Paradise have much to make them attractive as areas for industrial growth. The area possesses huge tourism potential, easy access to major transportation routes, a growing industrial park, a fine harbour facility at Long Pond. Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the day when the people of the great district of Topsail become more capable of self sufficiency due primarily to the strengthened tax base, growing from the innovative, economic and developmental policies of the new Liberal Government.

In my closing remarks, Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasis that I place great confidence in the very capable leadership of our Premier. I have conversed with the Premier regarding the dire need for infrastructure in the area. Furthermore, the Premier recognizes that need and expresses a desire to see these needs met. I trust that with good faith from all members of this new Assembly, together we will work towards a common goal making Newfoundland and Labrador a better place in which to live, now and in the years to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to say a few words on the Address in Reply to the Throne Speech. My first comment though, from what I have been told - I don't know if this is accurate or not - that this is the first time that the House of Assembly is debating the Throne Speech since 1978. Now that is what I have been told, I am not sure but it seems to be a long while since the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Basically - it is not accurate? Anyway, if that is the case it must show something. It must show that there is a lack of planning on the part of the government, Mr. Speaker, or a lack of foresight and depth of this administration or probably more particular, when I look at the Order Paper today the lack of legislation that may be forthcoming in this sitting.

Now I would like to say a few words on the Throne Speech. The first thing about the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, is the Premier stated that they wanted to change the name of the Province from Newfoundland to Newfoundland and Labrador. This will require an amendment to the Terms of Union in the House of Assembly and by parliament, and to me that may or may not be a good idea. There are some positive comments out in the public with respect to changing the name of the Province to Newfoundland and Labrador and some negative comments in the public. Some people seem to believe that the name Newfoundland is fine but that is for the public to decide one way or the other, I suppose, Mr. Speaker.

Now basically we see the signs. In the previous administration the Premier had a reputation for travelling a fair bit and it seems that the present Premier will be doing the same. Since a little over two months ago when the election was completed and the Liberals formed a government the Premier has travelled outside the Province a fair bit and the public are questioning that. It was only last week that he was in Ottawa somewhere and the papers referred to him as Captain Canada. He is taking on his Captain Canada role once again. I think the people of the Province would be more interested if he stayed home and took care of the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in the last sitting back in March I made a comment with respect to the Premier, his reputation in Ottawa as being probably the most expensive minister in Ottawa at the time, $800 a day and he seems to be living up to that reputation at this point in time, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for St. John's South asked a question today with respect to the Premier going to Bristol. I don't think the Member for St. John's South was trying to make the point that there should be no representation from Newfoundland. I think that the Member for St. John's South was basically making the point that the Premier should stay home, take care of the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, which was what he was elected to do, and to send one of his ministers, maybe the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, off to Bristol to take care of the situation over there with respect to the boat coming over here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The Government House Leader, what are you saying?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I never asked him to go out and sell the Province, I say to the Government House Leader. I don't think I would ask him to do that because I would say we may have better ambassadors to do that very job.

With respect to the Throne Speech he talked about Voisey's Bay. He says: My Government will gain full benefits from the Voisey's Bay mine, including the construction of a smelter and refinery in our province. Now they didn't really say at the point in this document how they would do that. The Throne Speech normally or generally is to set forward the agenda or the general intent of the government elected, the framework I suppose of the - what is it, framework plan - what do they refer to it as? - framework agreement, whatever the case may be. As I said, the Throne Speech is supposed to set forward the general trends or general ideas and plans of the administration.

When he spoke of Voisey's Bay he didn't say how he would get the construction of the refinery here in our Province. I think that naturally it will be done. Hopefully, I would say so to the Government House Leader that it will be done and we will get a smelter in Newfoundland or Labrador. Or Newfoundland and Labrador, if that is going to be the name of the Province. But my question is, what has been given, or what agreement has been made behind the scenes, to obtain a smelter in Newfoundland?

I know that since the fall of 1994 when the mineral tax act was revamped or brought in and approved in the fall of 1994, shortly afterwards Voisey's Bay was discovered, it may have been discovered before that but this wasn't made public at that point in time when the legislation was put forward in the past. I think that was in the fall of 1994 and probably in early 1995, in January or February, the announcement was made with respect to Voisey's Bay. So following that the premier of the day basically came forward and said that they would put amendments forward to the mineral tax acts to address the possible, give-away, I suppose, of large mines in the Province, or certainly to address the financial situation with respect to revenues coming into the Province from large projects such as Voisey's Bay.

I suppose in the spring of 1995, the fall of 1995, and back in March we have been asking for the amendments and what was happening to the amendments to the mineral tax act, and they haven't been forthcoming to this point in time. So I hope that there hasn't been something worked out here that we will get a smelter for not bringing in amendments to the mineral tax act.

Now the Throne Speech also addressed the Hibernia project and it said that we will receive full benefits from the Hibernia project. From memory I would say that there was supposed to be a fairly large transfer of technology to Newfoundlanders during the life of the Hibernia project. I know that there were a lot of jobs created and it basically got us over the hump with respect to the economy here in Newfoundland, or the negativity with respect to the economy here in Newfoundland and Labrador over the past few years. But we did not get the technology transfer that we were supposed to get at that point in time. Consequently now we are talking about the Terra Nova oilfield, and I'm wondering if that oil field is developed will we get the technology transfer to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador if that is developed properly.

Now also in the Throne Speech it says here: Oil exploration on the West Coast continues to increase. Hunt Oil and Pan Canadian Petroleum have drilled two onshore wells and will drill an offshore well this year. That is ongoing, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy. The only problem we see at this point in time is the rigs that have been coming in, and from the information that has been given to me, the rigs that have been coming in and will be setting up there, 70 per cent of the people who will be employed on those rigs are coming from outside Newfoundland and Labrador, and we do have people in Newfoundland and Labrador who have worked on oil rigs all over the world.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Not accurate? Well, we shall see. Time will tell, that has been said in this House of Assembly before about members on this side of the House, not knowing what they have been talking about and that side of the House was found out not to know what they were talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: But you are wrong. Every time you say it you find you are wrong over there.

Anyway, we have been told that there is a large number of people coming in from Nova Scotia and other provinces working on the rig and we are not getting our fair share, the people within this Province on those rigs - am I right?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, you are 100 per cent right and the minister is aware of it too.

MR. J. BYRNE: I thought I was.

AN HON. MEMBER: That minister is aware of it too.

MR. J. BYRNE: Sure he is. The Minister of Education is aware of that. He is aware of a lot of stuff; I mean, he is aware of a lot of things that the Premier is not aware of today. When the question was asked of the Premier, the Minister of Education knew the answer. The Premier did not know the answer because he sang out the name across the House, so he should have run. The Minister of Education should not have chickened out, he should have run, he might have beaten him.

MR. FITZGERALD: If he had left his golf clubs back in Newfoundland instead of taking them to Florida, he would have been back and would have been able to run and maybe he would have been sitting in the Chair.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes. Take your time now, take it easy. Now, The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation probably should have had a go at it too, he would have beaten the god coming home from Ottawa but anyway, they chickened out and they didn't do it, now they are ministers still but sobeit.

The Throne Speech also talks about the developing of our renewable resources. Now, I am going to pay a very small compliment here to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture because, basically the Red Book here or the Throne Speech took a page out of our Blue Book and talked about underutilized species, and it was only yesterday that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture had a news conference to announce that he would be experimenting with underutilized species to try to get the industry going and rightly so. It is about time for something like that to happen.

We do need this as the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stated yesterday. There was too much emphasis placed on the cod fishery and it was over fished and of course, we all know what happened to the cod fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, but with respect to underutilized species, we made a statement during the election that we needed to get into that end of the fishery, the underutilized species, to start promoting that, looking for markets worldwide, start up some plants and get some people in rural Newfoundland back to work in the fishery. So, I can only say that is a positive step with respect to the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

Also, in the Throne Speech, it talked about Tourism and Culture. It says: the magnificence of our wildness areas, the rugged beauty of our seacoast, the richness of our history, the unique character of our communities, the dynamism of our culture and the wealth of our wildlife are all renewable resources for our tourism and cultural industries. Now, Mr. Speaker, who could argue with that? That is motherhood; those are motherhood issues but I would like to make a comment on a couple of things with which I am fairly familiar and one of course, is salmon fishing; I am an avid salmon fisherman. I try to get a couple of trips in every summer, it is hard to get the time to do it but I do try to get up to the Northern Peninsula to the River of Ponds area and do a bit of salmon fishing and I enjoy that, but what they have done over the past few years of course, is cut the number of fish that you could retain to six per season, three and three. Three before the end of July I believe and three after that, and into catch and release.

Now, I suppose, if you want to talk about salmon fishing and the promotion of salmon fishing, salmon fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, we have to look at the tourism end of it and the amount of dollars that are spent in Newfoundland and Labrador on salmon fishing and angling. With respect to the catch and release end of it, personally, if I leave St. John's and go to River of Ponds and drive, by the time I get there, the money on gas, money for food and what have you, fishing equipment, maybe it will cost me $500 or $600 for a trip but, salmon fishing in itself when we have tourists coming in to this Province to go salmon fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador, we are starting now to compete with countries like Russia, New Zealand and even the provinces in Canada. We are competing with those people so, with respect to the catch and release, people spending that kind of money, thousands upon thousands of dollars, want to catch and keep more than probably one or two salmon on a trip, especially in Labrador where they spend that kind of money to go to Labrador to catch the larger fish, which seem to be more in abundance in the Labrador rivers.

The problem I have now, too, with the tourism end of it - I suppose it is a problem - the Department of Mines and Energy is looking at damming rivers for electric developments, salmon rivers. One, of course, is the Northwest River out around Terra Nova Park. It is a beautiful river, and there have been all kinds of proposals and studies done on that, but my personal view is that I would not be able to support damming, or putting anything in the way of salmon migrating up stream. Now, they say they can solve the problem with respect to salmon ladders and what have you if they dam rivers for hydro development, but if you talk to the people who know salmon fishing and salmon angling, they say that it does have a negative impact. If we have that many rivers in Newfoundland, I don't really see the necessity to dam salmon rivers, plus the fact that they say now that the demand for hydroelectricity in Newfoundland has diminished over the years. We have people leaving the Province right, left and centre every day, as many as, I think I heard it was ninety a week or ninety a day, I am not sure, but with the lesser demand for electricity in the Province maybe we do not need to dam Northwest River, or do any hindrance at all to salmon fishing in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Throne Speech goes on, of course, to talk about revitalizing our rural communities, and it says: My government is committed to the rural areas of our Province. That is a motherhood statement for sure, Mr. Speaker. That is a motherhood statement; there is no doubt about that. Well, that may be the case; the government may feel that it is committed to the rural areas of our Province, but the proof is in the pudding, I suppose, and from what I have seen over the past little while it certainly has not been demonstrating that they are committed to rural Newfoundland, when you see community colleges across this Province being closed down - five announced there a week or two weeks ago in rural Newfoundland. From my estimation, I suppose, the community colleges in the Province are stepping stones for our prosperity, I would imagine, because we need to get our people educated. If we want to progress in this Province, we need to get our people educated, and by closing down community colleges, of course, we are basically making it more difficult for people in rural Newfoundland to access post-secondary education. The government is making it more difficult for people to access post-secondary education.

I will say that in the 1960s, when the Liberal government was in power at the time, we had former Premier, Joseph R. Smallwood who is now, of course, long gone -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I paid you a compliment; I hope you were listening.

Premier Joseph R. Smallwood, in the 1960s, basically established many of the community colleges across the Province and made education very accessible to the people of the Province. I would imagine if he knew what was going on in the Province today he would be rolling over in his grave.

I give credit where credit is due. There was a lot accomplished in the 1960s under that administration - there is no doubt about it - but then again, I suppose that was the time of development, after the second World War in the fifties and sixties, and what have you, and there was a lot of money floating around; there was a lot of money floating from Ottawa. Things are being cut back now. I understand that, but to make an attack on education in the Province is certainly not, to my mind, revitalizing our rural communities.

Also, we have the situation in Marystown where we had the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - I will be polite, I suppose - threatening the Marystown Shipyard that if they don't get their act together they are finished; they are gone. We expect something in the Budget maybe on Thursday to assist him for another year or so - I don't know, hopefully. But if the Marystown shipyard is gone, or goes, you can mark it down that there is going to be an out flux of people from the Burin Peninsula, an out-migration of the people of the Burin Peninsula, just as what is happening now on the Northern Peninsula.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you have a problem, I ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes he does, he has a lot of them.

MR. J. BYRNE: He has a lot of problems.

AN HON. MEMBER: The people of Port de Grave have the problem.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, I would say.

Anyway, talking about revitalizing rural Newfoundland. Also, of course, over the past number of years we have seen the cuts to the municipalities and the downloading to the municipalities. So if that, I suppose, is support for rural Newfoundland, people have strange ideas.

The Throne Speech goes on to address: "Public service workers make a valuable contribution to the quality of life in our Province." It says: "Our public service makes a valuable contribution to the quality of life in our province." Basically, "The time has come for a new partnership with those who serve the public." Now, Mr. Speaker, that is laughable. We know, and I brought this up in the House of Assembly probably two years ago, that the morale in the public civil service is deplorable. There is no morale there now, I would say. We see that the civil service has been attacked ever since this Administration took over in 1989 - under a new leader now, of course. They say: "The time has come for a new partnership with those who serve the public." We saw the time for a new partnership today with probably 1,500 to 2,000 people outside the door calling for the Premier to come down to address them, but I didn't see him come down to address them. So if that is the consultation and partnership with those who serve the public -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Out of where?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Travelling outside the Province again, you mean. Spending the taxpayers' dollars again. The $800 a day that he was used to in Ottawa he is spending again today, is that what you are saying, to the Government House Leader?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Those are the facts of the situation. I'm only stating the facts.

Now, health. "Government has no greater responsibility than to provide quality health care to our citizens." Right out of the Throne Speech.

AN HON. MEMBER: Motherhood.

MR. J. BYRNE: Motherhood, guaranteed, agreed. I agree with that statement wholeheartedly, definitely. But now you see this statement made, and you see the health care cuts being made, over the past couple of years, and they will continue to be made.

I will give you an example of what is going on in this Province today, Mr. Speaker. I had an individual call me, a young woman from my district, who was very concerned about what was going on with someone in the community. What had happened was we had a lady in a wheelchair in her seventies, we have her husband who is blind, who had home care come in. What do you think happened? They had home care cut, taken away from them, gone, just like that. I couldn't believe it. I said: This cannot be true. I remember standing in this House only a month or so ago in March, or two months ago, and saying to the new Minister of Social Services that we have to have a heart, we have to have compassion. And, well -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, I was hoping that to be the case. Now, I said: There has to be something wrong here. I checked it out and sure enough it was true.

Only the other day I had a call from another individual, a senior citizen who is eighty-one years old, this man, whose wife is eighty-three, and phoned me all concerned. He is deaf. Anyway, I went down to his house, and the doctor happened to come in while I was there. What a coincidence! Eighty-one years old, eighty-three years old, missus in bed with a broken hip, and I'm trying to get her into the Miller Centre. And we couldn't get her in. This is the kind of stuff that is going on in this Province today, downloading to the families.

Now, I will give credit where credit is due again. I did contact the people with the Department of Social Services. The lady is still not in hospital. They are working on it. But can you imagine having a man home who is eighty-one years old taking care of an eighty-three year old lady who is in bed with a broken hip, who is deaf and he has some trouble getting around himself? I mean, isn't that an emergency situation? Shouldn't a bed be available right off the bat, no questions asked, for someone like that? No, there are no beds available. And this man, by the way, eighty-one years old, stays up all night and will not take off his clothes to go to bed. Now, that is what is going on in this Province today.

But, "Government has no greater responsibility than to provide quality health care to our citizens." Isn't that a contradiction? But that is reality, that is what is happening in this Province today, I say to the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, you will have to get Hansard and read it again because I am not going to repeat myself on that.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of issues on the go in this Province today, as I mentioned before, community colleges closing, and the co-operation the Premier is talking about between the public civil servants, and how we have to start working together, and what have you. I saw thirty students get on a yellow bus the other day and drive to Ottawa to attend a demonstration there with respect to cuts in health transfer payments. And the Premier of the day was part of the government that made a lot of these decisions to cut Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to equalization payments and so on.

While I am up, another point I would like to address is education reform. Last September the Liberal Government held a referendum and they did get a slight majority of those who voted to continue on with the very vague question that was put forth, by the way, to continue on with their education reform in the manner that was being put forward by the government. That was the question, somewhere along those lines. Anyway, they got their majority and I think people generally expected to see some major reforms quite quickly.

We had the Premier of the day and the Minister of Education of the day say that basically we would see Term 17 passed through the House of Commons by Christmas 1995. Now, I remember standing and saying, all you are doing with respect to putting that in the House of Commons is delaying education reform, because once it goes to the House of Commons it is not going through before Christmas. It definitely will not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what I said, in December 1995 it was supposed to go through, but it did not go through the House of Commons. We were told quite plainly that it would go through but they did not listen to us. We said it would be divisive, and now, you saw in the media last week what is happening with respect to educational reform in this Province. You can see how it is going to be divisive. You are going to have community against community, religion against religion, school boards against school boards. You will have the Premier against the Minister of Education and the Minister of Education against the Premier, one saying one thing and another saying another thing, so that nobody knows what is going on.

The ministers opposite are going around, the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, and the Member for Lewisporte, not knowing what is going on in their communities. All these people, and the ministers are going around like hens with their heads chopped off. Did you ever take a hen when you were a kid - no, I will not get into that. I did not do it myself but I heard tell of it. Apparently, once their heads are chopped off they go around running in all directions not knowing where they are going and bumping into each other. Well, that is what is happening with the government opposite and it is getting worse by the day.

People in this Province do not have any idea as to what is happening. They do not know what is coming down the tubes. We have civil servants who are frightened to death and do not know if they will have a job tomorrow, or actually when they come in today if they are going out the door this evening. People are really demoralized in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's reality.

MR. J. BYRNE: It is reality alright.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look at today's paper.

MR. J. BYRNE: What's in the paper? I did not read it. What does it say?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a big article about the stress caused by the Budget.

MR. J. BYRNE: I was preaching that two years ago, stress caused by the Budget brought up in the House of Assembly. I know people who are crying at their desks, afraid they are going to lose their jobs.

MR. TULK: They are all political hacks, every one of them.

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Government House Leader, if he wants to talk about political hacks does he want us to get a list and produce it in the House of Assembly?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, calm them down. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: What about Churchill Falls?

MR. J. BYRNE: What are you getting on with about Churchill Falls, I ask the Government House Leader?

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, there is unrest right across this Province today, in particular with respect to education reform. As I said, NAPE was out here today with maybe 1,500 people.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Government House Leader, if he wants to get up and give a speech -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member to continue.

MR. J. BYRNE: If the Government House Leader wants to give a speech let him get up, stand on his feet and give a speech and defend the actions of his government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words on tax harmonization.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you want me to sit down and let you get up?

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack I have to speak - I have to leave at 4:30. You can get back up again.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Can he get back up after he sits down?

MR. J. BYRNE: How much time do I have left, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Two minutes.

MR. J. BYRNE: I will save this for another day.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPARROW: Mr. Speaker, hon. members of the House, people in the gallery, it is with great pleasure and immense pride that I stand here in the Legislature as the Member for Placentia - St. Mary's. I thank the voters of this historic district for having faith in me and faith in this government's platform for electing me.

This district has been represented by many fine gentlemen over the years and I wish to take a moment to express the gratitude of the citizens of the former districts of Placentia and St. Mary's - The Capes to the representatives in the 42nd General Assembly of this Legislature, Mr. Nick Careen of Placentia district and Mr. Fabian Manning of St. Mary's - The Capes. Both of these gentlemen worked hard for their constituents and must be commended for their public service. This is somewhat of a dilemma for me because now that the district is amalgamated I have to fill the shoes of not one hon. member but of two former members of this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: No problem! No problem!

MR. SPARROW: Another facet of representing two such important districts, in that we have been joined together as Placentia & St. Mary's have been, is to get the district focused on working as one, overcoming the psychological barriers that keep us thinking like two districts. We have to start thinking east to west, west to east, Placentia - St. Mary's and St. Mary's - Placentia. That is where we need linkage, linkage by way of thought and linkage by way of better roads. As the member for this district it will be my duty to seek out opportunities with the government to improve the Placentia to Colinet road, which is Route 91 in our highway system. This new road will give much needed employment for workers in the region, but more importantly, in this scenario, it will get my district thinking like one district. It will boost business in St. Mary's and it will boost business in Placentia.

Tourists who leave the Marine Atlantic ferry site in Argentia will not just head straight to their destinations but the Air Stream corps will meander through the roads in the district to Colinet to Mount Carmel to St. Catherines to St. Shotts, across the whole district. When you speak about Route 91 on the scenic drive you talk tourism. The new road will continue to earn dividends for the Province for years into the future. There are tremendous sites on this route that are missed by many tourists, the Cataracts for one. When you visit this scenic little park you must take time out to walk down the trail to the base of the falls, enjoy the river, the mist and the flora and fauna. Even the structure of the bridge is elegant, a pleasure to behold. That is a little part of what visitors to Newfoundland and Labrador want, the beauty of our surroundings.

The salmon restocked Rocky River is on this route and it is a must on any angler's agenda. You cannot mention tourism and not mention the bird sanctuary in St. Bride's. A new interpretation centre was built there and last year some 18,000 visitors came to the site. Further development may proceed at this centre to meet the needs of the travelling public. This is a first-class facility and has brought tourist dollars to St. Bride's and area.

In the proud community of Ship Harbour the residents have continued to promote the site of the signing of the Atlantic Charter between the United States and Great Britain. The Atlantic Charter allowed the United States to build bases in Newfoundland in return for the lend/lease of ships to Britain. On Atlantic Charter Day, Ship Harbour is the place to be to enjoy Newfoundland hospitality at its best.

In historic Placentia, the annual regatta is part of Newfoundland's Triple Crown of rowing. There are three great Regattas, the famous Royal St. John's Regatta, the Harbour Grace Regatta, and the Placentia Regatta. This event is held at present on the third week of July. There is now a move afoot by the tourism committee in the area to enlarge the idea and turn Placentia's most prestigious event not into a one-day phenomena, but into a several day or week long tourism extravaganza. They will need help with some planning, and they will need some dollars to make this great idea workable. If we can keep tourists in our area for more than one day, that is what we must do. We must do it for more than Placentia proper, but this great regatta is a great place to start.

The last word on tourism in Placentia - St. Mary's cannot be said without mentioning Marine Atlantic and the ferry service to eastern Newfoundland. Argentia opens the door to the Avalon Peninsula and 60 per cent of Newfoundland's population; yet, every year it seems Marine Atlantic finds a new way to shorten the service to our region. In any business, the less visibility you give your products the less they sell. My constituents feel that what this corporation is doing every year seems, in some way, to downgrade the Argentia service. We believe that year after year, with less people using the service, at some point it will stop, just cease to exist. We must make sure that every effort is made to promote the Argentia service and keep its costs in line with highway costs, and not be prohibitively expensive to the user. There is a new schedule in place for this year. The ferry will arrive three days per week, with no overnight stay. The residents of my district will monitor this new schedule and give me their views on whether it is a success or failure.

The road, Route 91, will also be greatly needed if the trans-shipment facility for oil is built in my district. This facility will be built to serve Hibernia, then Terra Nova, then Hebron, Ben Nevis, and Whiterose. The many workers who will travel back and forth during this construction phase will need a good road, as well as the many support vehicles which will work day and night for many months during construction.

Admiral's Beach, O'Donnells area is being considered very seriously by the oil companies. Being on their short list is very welcomed news for the many people in that area, and the region generally. It brings the benefits and problems of industrialization of our community. I will be visiting with the town councils in the near future with my colleagues in government and their support staff to apprise the communities of the impact this will have as we envision it.

My colleagues in this hon. House, I am fortunate to live in the Town of Dunville, my home town. It is now a ward of amalgamated Placentia, but I still call it my home town. When I gaze out my window, I look at the Northeast Arm, a very picturesque, wonderful view, and I see Seven Island Cove, and to the east of that I see five pods, or fish holding cages. This does not spoil the view but, in my opinion, enhances it because it shows that one local company made the cages and another, Sea Forest Plantation, has codfish growing in them. Also, Sea Forest has a hatchery in the former fish plant in Jerseyside, in no small measure due to the efforts of the Placentia Area Development Association. We are going to have to encourage aquaculture in my district, not only in Jerseyside and Dunville, but all along the way through St. Mary's, especially in St. Mary's because it has so many sites for aquaculture, Holyrood Pond being a prime case in point. I will work with my colleague, the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, to see that if someone has an idea he or she will get an opportunity to be heard. As said in the Throne Speech, the aquaculture industry can expand rapidly in our Province, and I will work to see that it expands in my district as rapidly as possible.

Every corner of Newfoundland and Labrador has been hit by the economic slow down. In Canada and the United States we hear buzz words like `a soft landing' or `a mild economic recovery' in describing lacklustre economic performance, but here in Newfoundland we have a crisis caused by the collapse of the groundfish industry. No doubt about it, it has dealt a severe blow to the Cape Shore, a terrible blow to St. Mary's, and a terrible blow to the Placentia area, but our district has even had worse economic woes with the closure of the ERCO plant in Long Harbour and more recently with the US naval facility closure in Argentia but from all these problems I see new opportunities emerging.

Visualize for a moment a map of Eastern Newfoundland, when you look at Placentia Bay there you see the great Marystown Shipyard and the Cow Head facility on the eastern shore of the Burin Peninsula. To the north, on the isthmus of Avalon, you see the Come By Chance refinery. Down from that, on the western side of the Avalon, you see the great port of Long Harbour and further down, the former naval base of Argentia. Placentia Bay has the potential to be the powerhouse of Newfoundland's industrial might. We must nurture that and we must cultivate that. We must realize that with all this potential development there may be the possibility of some catastrophe. We must be prepared for that. We must be prepared to have a clean-up response capability in Placentia Bay to contain any environmental damage if it ever happens.

In consolidation that we see in the federal and provincial governments, it is my job to present Argentia's case as a headquarters for the coast guard in Newfoundland and that it be seriously heard. I will ask you to look at this visual map and see that if some major development were to come to Newfoundland and Labrador that the Argentia - Long Harbour area is tailor made to accommodate any massive development. Yes, I am promoting my district. I was elected to do that but I am not promoting it to the detriment of any of my fellow colleagues' districts. I am promoting Argentia - Long Harbour because it will do great things for our Province. First there are not one but two good ports a short distance from one another. The customer gets the chance to pick and choose, maybe even choose the combination of both ports. Secondly, it is the strategic location of these ports on the western side of the Avalon Peninsula that holds so much promise for the whole of Eastern Newfoundland.

If a major industry, such as the Voisey's Bay smelter and refinery were to come to the Western Avalon it would be good for the citizens of my colleague the hon. Leader of the Opposition, the historic district of Ferryland. It will be good for my colleague, Leader of the New Democrats, Mr. Jack Harris and his residents of Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. It will be good for my colleague the hon. Member for Trinity North, Mr. Doug Oldford because all of these areas have one thing in common, they are no more than an hour-and-a-half away from my district, no more than an hour-and-a-half away from employment. It will be good for Newfoundland and Labrador because people who don't live that close will still find work within the provincial borders. It will be good for the Province as a whole for another great reason, we all know only too well that the Province has no disposable discretionary money to spend.

If a Greenfield site were chosen the Province could not afford to participate in the development and if the mining companies were to build the infrastructure unilaterally the cost would erode their bottom line and their stock value. The new site may cost many hundreds of millions of dollars, millions of unnecessary dollars when you consider that it is duplicated by all the infrastructure - for example the roads, water, sewer, schools, hospitals - already owned and paid for by our people in the Province. We have it already here on the Avalon.

A great incentive as well for the managers of such a sizeable project and the specialist in the smelting and refining processes who will train our people is our proximity to the capital city of St. John's. There they can avail of the best cosmopolitan environment Newfoundland has to offer. The most varied selection of schools, churches and amenities to at least, in some small way, keep them in contact with their own cultures and lifestyles and to make the quality of their stay in Newfoundland much better than if they were on a Greenfield site.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this large development would be the fishing industry. With more employment available people would stop watching the clock, so to speak, to see when the inshore fishery will reopen. We will give it time to rebuild. It will take the pressure off the fishery and put people back to work paying taxes from the new money that this industry would create. But the Argentia site has more reasons to exist than merely to hope to be a site for the proposed Voisey's Bay smelter. Argentia was picked earlier in its history by the world's greatest logistical organization, the US Navy. It was picked for its strategic access to shipping lanes between North America and Europe. That fact is not lost on the business community today. (Inaudible) ships to and from the United States and Europe and more companies will join them over the next few years.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, the Argentia area is already experimenting with new growth as we speak. Local entrepreneurs from the Whitbourne area, Mr. Owen Hickey and his industrious family, have started from scratch a plant to grow mushrooms in a vacant building on the now closed military base. They have secured markets and are growing a first-class product in a first-class facility. I have taken the liberty to pass a sample pack of this product to every member of this House and to all in the press gallery. This is the entrepreneurial spirit personified by this family. This is what Newfoundland needs.

There are twenty-five or thirty of my constituents now working because Newfoundlanders are supplying the needs of their fellow Newfoundlanders without importing everything we need.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPARROW: Thank you; they've got the edge.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker and hon. members, it is a privilege to rise again in this House and represent the great district of Grand Falls - Buchans. Since our Throne Speech on March 20 there have been many issues surrounding my district and the Province in general that I would like to talk about today.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the greatest impediment to our economic recovery in this Province is out debt load. There is no question we are virtually over-extended; we cannot service the debt load. Our government, in the upcoming days, will be faced with some difficult choices, how we are going to deliver the services, but we have no money to deliver them with. In fact, we will be faced with just holding the line on our debt just to keep our present credit rating.

Mr. Speaker, $6 billion of debt is too much for a province of 560,000 people to handle; it is impossible. In fact, as we all know, $500 million a year goes out in interest before we pay on our principal. I believe we are meeting a crossroads situation here. In our 500 year history our borrowing power is almost stopped, so what are we going to do in the next few days? We are faced with some difficult decisions to make as a government, and I believe that the people of Buchans faced that same decision in 1984 when the ASARCO mines shut down, but they refused to let their town die, and we are not going to let our Province die.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: We are going to make the right decisions so we can stay on top of things.

The Town of Buchans has been successful recently in attracting two high tech industries to their community. They are up-and-running, and we now have an application that I will be presenting to the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in the next few days for an aquaculture project. It is a project that is new and different to the Province, I believe, because what the local company, Sea Springs Atlantic, are proposing to do, they are going to use the abandoned sand pit mines in Buchans, so we can now use those for the fresh water fish hatchery. That will increase the water temperature and, of course, naturally, will increase the production rate. This project, although it is probably small in nature, has the capacity to produce at least twenty direct jobs for the Town of Buchans, and indirectly probably another three to four for every twenty direct jobs.

Mr. Speaker, these are the type of local initiatives that we want to see happening around our Province. Every community has a unique situation, and I believe the local people should be the ones to resolve those problems, something that you are going to find with our new Department of Development and Rural Renewal. These are the things that need to be done. Local people have to solve local problems.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, on April 25 my district was given a vote of confidence by Abitibi-Price. As you know, the pulp and paper industry has been in a slump since 1985 but now it is coming back on track again. It has seen fit to commit itself to $14 million of expenditures in the Central region. Abitibi-Price employs 850 people in its mill and woodlands throughout Central Newfoundland, and it is going to put those dollars into modernizing a generating station in Central Newfoundland at the Grand Falls mill.

Out of the $14 million it is going to spend, $10 million is actually directly spent in equipment and labour. So there will be a big injection of dollars into our local economy. In fact, I believe that it is probably the biggest construction project that will be undertaken this summer. I hope to be corrected on that, but as it sits right now I think it probably is. This project has been carried out in complete harmony with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Ministry of Environment. So these things can work together if it is done in harmony and done right.

Which leads me into the next thing. This hydro generating station will actually improve the salmon fishing on the Exploits River. As you know, the town of Grand Falls - Windsor has had approval in the past for a three-level agreement for funding for sewage treatment on the Exploits River. A lot of things are hinging on that approval, and as you know we went to tender and the tender came in over budget. So right now we are left in the balance. The residents of Grand Falls - Windsor have started to pay. They are committed to paying for sewage treatment, and it was indicated on their property and town tax bill for 1996. We have already started to pay on it.

All we are waiting for now is for the provincial government to give us a speedy approval. I urge the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - these titles are new to me - to look at a speedy approval for us. Because I know in the Throne Speech you are committed to your protection of the environment. This is a much needed project in Central Newfoundland. We have taken the bull by the horns and we have decided to do our share. Now we need government to act on it as well.

The good news of April 25 was quickly overshadowed by the gut-wrenching news of April 29 for my district. I fully understand the realities of the financial picture of our Province but I seriously believe that Central Newfoundland was dealt a disproportionate share of the cuts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: Out of the 250 job cuts announced our college system, which encompasses five colleges in the region, stands to lose ninety-two employees, with the biggest loss in Grand Falls - Windsor slated at forty-five positions. Let me analyze what has happened.

I fully understand that the Minister of Education was under time constraints in making this decision due to contract timing and so on. What came out of it was that there is no change in the programs in Western Newfoundland, St. John's stands to gain more students, but Central Newfoundland has been wiped out. Our students from Central Newfoundland have been totally overlooked. Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that the history of providing university programs started out in 1970. Actually, we were one of the pioneers. Mr. Roy Stoodley - you probably know him, a teacher and a principal from GFA - he lobbied hard to have even just evening courses and so on.

It started out with evening courses just in Grand Falls, and I have to refer to the former town of Grand Falls. Then, after intense lobbying throughout the years in 1986 we actually got a college campus. We started out teaching the first-year university program. Our success rate has been phenomenal. Actually, it has been in the range of 80 per cent plus for students successfully completing the various courses.

My constituents and I seriously believe that the first-year university education program in Grand Falls - Windsor should and must be reinstated. In fact, I will lay out my case for you as well right now, why Grand Falls - Windsor should be the logical choice for the location of the provincial college headquarters, and I will tell you why. I want to lay it out for you.

In the past, Grand Falls - Windsor has had great difficulty convincing government that we are in the centre of the Province; just take out a map and you will see that we are dead on, right in the centre, equal distance from Port aux Basques and St. John's, and that gives us a choice, geographic location. Grand Falls is the second largest town in the Province. We have a population of 16,000 people and we serve a radius of 100,000 more. We have an infrastructure that would enhance any student's life. I will give you an idea.

We have a $3-million recreation complex with a swimming pool. Two stadiums, five softball fields, two tennis courts, baseball fields, outdoor community concert stage, in fact, we are known as the community concert of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have all that out there?

MS THISTLE: We have it!

We have a variety of shopping facilities, excellent education and medical facilities and fishing, hunting and the great outdoors are just right in our backyard. Our college campus can supply accommodations for 250 students, and I will tell you a little bit about our college. We have a state of the art lecture theatre, well-equipped science labs, a well-developed library; in fact we have a fully-developed campus, why should we lose it?

In the past few days we have been working really hard as a college board. We have been working really hard as a college board and we have come back, we have put our heads together and we have presented a plan to the Education Minister, the hon. Roger Grimes, and what we were saying we are going to do, we are going to offer this program in Grand Falls - Windsor at no cost to government; no cost to government. It is going to be complete cost recovery.

The Grand Falls - Windsor College campus has enough physical space and let me tell you, we have a full-meal deal here. The Grand Falls - Windsor College campus has enough physical space to house the provincial college headquarters at no cost to government, no cost to government. We don't need any renovations, we don't need any fancy offices, we have it. We already have the expertise; we are already managing five campuses. By deciding on Grand Falls - Windsor, the government will be making an economical choice, a logical choice and most of all, a common sense choice.

Many distribution centres are centred in Grand Falls - Windsor for the simple reason, it is central. You had equal distance then as an easy access from all areas of the Province and all our students and everyone will be travelling by road and it is easy, easy access. Not only that, we are not favouring eastern, we are not favouring western, we are not favouring north or south, we are the nucleus of the Province and everybody can be accessed from the nucleus.

Last night I attended a town hall meeting in Grand Falls - Windsor with Minister Grimes, MHA Graham Flight and MP George Baker and that was one of the best meetings that I have attended for a long time. There was no hooting and hollering, there were just constructive, well-meaning citizens who gave us different presentations; I think there were about nineteen altogether and were from every angle you could imagine as to why the first year university program should be kept in Grand Falls - Windsor, and I believe the minister will agree with me that it was the most constructive meeting - I don't know, he has been to a lot of them. It was not a biased one it was just down-to-earth common sense and these are typical of the comments that I heard.

You know, we listened for almost four hours as speaker after speaker echoed these types of sentiments: The announcement was so late students can't apply for scholarships; parents can't come up with the funds on this short notice. Students need the family support network derived from attending a small university close to home. The Grand Falls first-year university program served as the model for campuses at Labrador City, Carbonear, Clarenville, Burin and Gander. We were the model. Central Newfoundland students feel betrayed and Maritime universities will capitalize on our demise.

Memorial University of Newfoundland was intended for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, not those on the East Coast and those on the West Coast and in Labrador, but for all of us. In fact, people were so intent last night at that meeting on saving our university that they agreed to pay more. They are willing to pay more to keep it because they know it is a good thing. And one parent had this novel idea, that he even suggested, well maybe we should look at a proposal, something like an RSP, where the people of the community in the Province can invest in our education, our university facilities, and then they can get a tax shelter and when the Province recovers economically, we will buy back those shares. I mean, it is worth looking into.

What this whole exercise has done is, it has forced the whole population to be more creative, more innovative and more aware of trying to find solutions to keep what we have. So I urge you, Mr. Minister, reinstate the first-year university program in Grand Falls - Windsor so that Central Newfoundland students will have equal access, number one, and designate Grand Falls - Windsor as the logical, economical, commonsense choice for the provincial headquarters.

Mr. Speaker, our government must move swiftly to make those decisions, and make the right decisions that will best serve the whole population of this Province so we can really get on with the business of the day. And the business of the day is improving our economy.

Mr. Speaker, we are quickly running out of ways to cut. We have almost reached the limit where we can make efficiencies and cut expenses and so on. The real answer to balancing a budget is by generating new revenue, and I must commend the hon. Mr. Efford, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for his announcement yesterday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: His announcement yesterday - willing to try an experimental fishery on shrimp and king crab. You know something, if you don't take these ideas off the shelf, we will never know if they are going to work. In fact, we have reason to be optimistic. I read in The Evening Telegram a couple of days ago, that the groundfish fishery in Nova Scotia, off the Georges Bank, is going to get a higher quota this year. I mean, because of the warmer water temperature, it leads me to believe that we have reason to be optimistic here in Newfoundland, because we have now optimism saying that our fishery might come back as well. And I mean, you only have to look all around us from my small District of Grand Falls - Buchans, there are already, two companies exploring minerals and they are drilling and so on and you know, we might have a good find up in Buchans area; things are happening.

EDGE legislation, every day companies are being approved under EDGE legislation, but you see, we are now in a blanket of doom and gloom because of the financial picture that is facing us today. We have to get together as a people in this Province; we are tough, you know. We have been around almost 500 years and we have carved out our living here all these years. We have to have reason to hope. I believe our government and the Premier of our Province are on the right track. Let us face it, it is easy to govern in good times but it is hard when you have to make these gut-wrenching decisions that affect the people of our Province.

Not too many people in the Province are interested in our financial position when you are handing them a pink slip. It is difficult to stay focused on our financial position, but we have our credit cards to the limit, we have no where else to go. You can relate it to your own personal situation: when the bank says no, what do we do? We either declare bankruptcy or we dig in our heels and we try to get out from under that cloud of debt. We are at a crossroads, my friends. We are at a crossroads in this Province. This is probably the worst time in our history that we have had to face this financial mess and we are going to get through it. We have tough decisions to make in the next two days but we are going to get through it. If we band together as a people, take our medicine and get down to work and rebuild our economy we are going to make it. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I am delighted now to stand and I thank my colleagues for giving me a little leave. I wasn't scheduled to speak but I was drawn to my feet by the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans and I had to respond to that. Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member - first and foremost above the shouting of our colleagues, I want to commend the member for standing up and speaking on behalf of her district.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I say to the member - because as she knows, I am a next-door neighbour of hers for many years. Many students from my area have gone to Grand Falls, have done courses there and have been very successful. She hit something on the button, that Grand Falls is the centre of this Province, it is centralizing. You talk about centralizing, Grand Falls - Windsor - if we talk about the geography of this Province, Mr. Speaker, there is not a better place in this Province, with reference to the centre of this Province, than Grand Falls - Windsor, not just for the Central Newfoundland headquarters which I support, they have done a very good job in the past, as the member referred to when she spoke. They have done a very good job of managing the Central Newfoundland colleges and they have also put forward some very successful students in this Province. It has been a delight to deal with those people at the Central Newfoundland college, the centre there in Grand Falls.

I am glad that the member also pointed out first-year university courses. They should go ahead but I only disagreed on one thing that she was saying. She said they should not have to pay any more. Mr. Speaker, the people and the ideas that were put forward by the member - what people are willing to do to make sure those courses stay in Central Newfoundland is commendable and people are good to say that. It is the spirit of the people that will put that motion forward to government, Mr. Speaker, but they should not have to pay any more than somebody in St. John's who gets an education from Memorial or somebody in Corner Brook who gets an education from Memorial for the first year. They should not have to pay any more, I say to the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans, in the town of Grand Falls - Windsor - that is where we get confused.

So, Mr. Speaker, let's go back a little bit. I don't want to go back too far because we will end up into even more problems of Churchill Falls which we spoke about earlier with the minister. We won't go back that far. We will just go back a couple of years, a few years to the Wells Administration when he stood in Grand Falls during the 1989 election.

MR. J. BYRNE: And what did he say?

MR. SHELLEY: We will have a full-fledged university campus in Central Newfoundland, in Grand Falls. Now, Mr. Speaker, we are not talking about twenty years ago. I am talking about just -

AN HON. MEMBER: Does `Graham' support the Member for Windsor - Buchans?

MR. SHELLEY: I am sure the member for -

AN HON. MEMBER: Windsor - Buchans is it?

MR. SHELLEY: I am sure the Member for Windsor - Springdale would support first-year courses in Central Newfoundland headquarters colleges in Grand Falls - Windsor.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I remind the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans - this is really confusing, we're talking about the member for -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: A little bit of protection, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Maybe it is a good point to raise anyway, I am a little bit confused because of the boundaries, Mr. Speaker. We have a community of Grand Falls - Windsor that the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans represents and then we have the Member for Windsor - Springdale who is from Buchans.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: King's Point is a fine community, Mr. Speaker. I am glad you brought it up. I am so delighted that I took in the community of King's Point and the great support I got in King's Point. Being a rooky member and not knowing me very well, I must say it was a resounding victory in King's Point, which supposedly, and the member can correct me, is a solid Liberal community.

AN HON. MEMBER: It used to be.

MR. SHELLEY: I think it was 67 per cent I gained in King's Point.

Mr. Speaker, we should not get away from the issue here. The Member for Grand Falls stood and made her points very well, made good credible points to the minister and to her colleagues, as to why first-year courses should remain in Grand Falls. I commend her for that, really, and I am sure the people in her district will be pleased to hear her say that. I will commend it anytime and I hope she gets the point across to her colleagues in Cabinet to make decisions to see first-year courses remain in Grand Falls, because it is not just the member who benefits from that. Like she said earlier, it is the thousands of people around that Central Newfoundland location, including the people from my district of Baie Verte, King's Point, and the Springdale area, who use that central area and do first-year courses there in the Grand Falls area.

Mr. Speaker, it is bad enough that we have gone from no first-year courses at all, but Grand Falls five years ago was going to have a college, a full-fledged university campus. Of course, everybody went to the polls in Central Newfoundland thinking, wow, we are finally going to get a university in Central Newfoundland, where, I think, Mr. Speaker, if we could roll back the clock far enough, the main university campus for this Province should have been. That is where the university campus for this Province should have been, and probably the capital should have been in Central Newfoundland, which makes a lot more sense. Even Bill Rowe agreed with that. But he does not agree with the Liberals lately I find, Mr. Speaker.

Seriously, the points the hon. member made makes perfectly logical sense. It was not hypothetical, it was not scenarios, she was directing her points and saying that it is the centre of this Province and has every right to have a campus there, but we also support her in the first-year courses. The point on first year courses is as simple as this, the accessibility to education for people who cannot afford to travel the distance. For people in Central Newfoundland to live close to their homes - as the member said, there are 100,000 people in the Central Newfoundland area who could access their education, who could commute back and forth. Because there are, I don't know, dozens of communities in that area where you could commute on a daily basis to go to university courses in Grand Falls. Although Baie Verte is an hour and a half away I know people there who would commute back and forth to do those courses. So it makes logical sense, the points that the member makes. Just to think that only a few short years ago we were talking about a campus college there. Now we have gone back to not only no campus college but not even a first year.

Mr. Speaker, what that first year does, and what we miss the point on, the human side of this, is that if we can encourage our children that are close to Grand Falls to go to Grand Falls to do their first-year university, because we know as parents how hard it is sometimes to encourage our children to go to university, to take that long trip from Baie Verte - I will use my district - to travel six hours to go to university here, it is easier to convince them to go in their own area to do that first-year to get their feet wet. So that they overcome the fear and the transition of living in a small rural Newfoundland community of 300 or 400 people to come into big St. John's and going into Memorial University.

Because I felt the same way. Although I had travelled a bit more before I returned to university I felt the same way. Coming from a small town, coming into big St. John's, going into a great big university with fifty, sixty, seventy students in one classroom and trying to get into that system, and get used to it. I was pretty intimidated, I tell you.

MR. HARRIS: Over 200 in some classes.

MR. SHELLEY: Over 200 in some classes as the member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi says.

So, Mr. Speaker, the point being that first-year courses are a stepping stone to encourage our young people to go and get educated. Do you know the human bottom line to all this is that these people now will be discouraged to go get educated which all of us as politicians keep telling them: You are our future, go get educated, because you are the answer to our problems. That is the real answer to our problems, our young people, the new ideas, and having them educated.

What we are going to do now with this move is discourage our young people from going and getting educated. If you don't believe that, ask the parents who have people in Grand Falls area who are doing first-year courses, who finally talked their son or daughter into going: Listen, you can do your first-year here in Grand Falls, and if you like it and you get into it, where they can help as parents, not counting financially but morally they can help and encourage their children to get that first-year course, then they can go on and be productive members of this Province so that we can have a future.

But by taking away that first-year course, because it wasn't a building that we took away, it wasn't a fiscal restraint that we were talking about. It is the human element which are young people in this Province encouraged to start university and then move on into St. John's or Corner Brook or wherever they want to go, but don't discourage them by taking away first year courses to the centre of this Province, Central Newfoundland, which is Grand Falls. If there should be courses anywhere outside of - and it makes sense, Mr. Speaker, St. John's, East Coast, Corner Brook, West Coast. Dead in the middle of all of that is Grand Falls, and that is where the first year courses should be; I agree with that.

Mr. Speaker, before I sit down I have to make one more comment. The member went a little bit too far to commend the Minister of Fisheries for getting us on the right track. She definitely went a little bit wrong. I cannot agree with the member for getting us on the right track. I must admit, I am all for and support aquaculture and development of our farm fishery and so on - I am all for that - but the steps that the minister took may have been in the right direction, but it was a small baby step. What we really need to do is get out there, put the money to good use, and make major advances in aquaculture so that we can really put people back to work.

Now, I think if the minister can confirm it, or the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans can ask him: How many jobs actually came from the minister's announcement yesterday? I could be wrong; is it six, seven, ten?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: On the announcement by the minister. Could I ask the minister if he would tell me that? I would like to ask the Minister of Fisheries, I am just trying to get a number on the direct jobs as a result of your announcement yesterday.

MR. EFFORD: How many jobs?

MR. SHELLEY: Direct jobs immediately.

MR. EFFORD: Today?


MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I know; that is why I am asking.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has not recognized the hon. minister.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was just asking the minister, and I know it is experimental and so on, and it is in the right direction -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: And it is an experimental minister, but he is in that portfolio now. It is a move in the right direction, but what we are doing is asking the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many jobs would we have to put out before you would say it was good?

MR. SHELLEY: One job is good, but I want better. There is an old saying; I will give a little saying to the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I will start by saying this: One job is good, more is better, a lot is best. I say, `Good, better, best, never let it rest until good gets better and better gets best'.

Mr. Speaker, I was just asking the minister if he would answer the question - it is from your member - the experimental project you talked about yesterday, how many direct, immediate jobs are we talking about? Are we talking about six, ten, fifteen?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the member's question on the number of jobs that will be created from the experimental licence sent out, it is simply this. Six licences. If a crew aboard a boat is two or three that is eighteen jobs there in the experimental stages, and we assume there are two or three aboard a boat. Into the crab fishery we gave out five licences. That is five commercial harvesting licences. That means an average of four to five people aboard a boat, so that is twenty jobs there. Plus whatever the processing will be from the initial stages of the harvesting.

What the intent is - unless the hon. member is afraid something is going to happen - that this crab fishery could have the potential to come close to the same potential that the snow crab is today. Snow crab started out with one or two experimental licences. Today there are 31,000 metric tons of snow crab being harvested each and every year. There is a possibility that the king crab can have the same potential, but definitely we know that the shrimp pot fishery will be successful because it is already being used commercially in Nova Scotia. The problem is that we have delayed the experimental stages. That is now started. It is a type of fishery that begins in September and ends in March when it wouldn't overlap with other species of fish. So the potential there is all around the coast of Newfoundland. It could employ, I guess, hundreds, thousands of fishermen and plant workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you for the answer, I say to the minister. We were just talking back and forth with the member. I will say again - I know you weren't listening at the time - but it is a move in the right direction, I will say to the minister. I have no problem in saying that. It is certainly not the answer right now to our problems or anything. It is a move in the right direction for the fishery of the future. All I ask is that the minister keep moving in this direction, but try to speed it up so we can get moving into more underutilized species and so on. But I wouldn't go as far as the Member for Grand Falls - Buchans -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: You need that. We all need that, a little boost every now and then.

MR. EFFORD: Not from a Tory.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, anyway, to get back to the issue. The Member for Grand Falls - Buchans had said that the minister was moving in the right direction with the consultation process and the problems we are having with the Budget and so on. I will just conclude with a couple of comments on this.

Now I will get into a little bit of the politics of it, I guess. Member after member, especially the Government House Leader now, gets up and talks about way back, of all the mistakes and how the Tories built up the big bill that we have in front of us now. I don't even know what the member is talking about. He tells us stories about Robin Hood flour and years ago and the Smallwood Cabinet and then Mr. Roberts and so on. I mean, how old is the member?

The bottom line is that we all know, day after day after day, this new Premier gets up in the House and tells us about the mess we are in, how much we are in the hole and how much we have to face up to, every day he tells us that. As a matter of fact he says: We all know and we all know and we all know the debt and so on. We don't need to be told that but what this Premier said and what this government said in their election promise was that we are going to consult, Mr. Speaker, and imagine two points to consult, we are going to go around and consult on our Budget but we are not going to tell you how much we are really in the hole by the way. We are in the hole twice or three times as much and then they are talking about revitalizing the rural communities, how are you going to revitalize rural communities if you say on one hand the way to revitalize rural communities is to educate our young people so that they could go out and be productive -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes. What they are going to do is, hook all the young people in rural Newfoundland on the Internet and what they did, Mr. Speaker, is take a major, major backward step when they took away first year university and cut out accessible education for people in Lewisporte, Springdale, Bell Island and so on. That is what they did, Mr. Speaker. What they have been encouraging or they say they encouraged, is that our young people become educated, they have gone backwards on it and we all know, Mr. Speaker, that the problem with the debt, both sides of this House, we have debated it back and forth, back and forth, but it is how we handle it is what the people in this Province are interested in and, Mr. Speaker, leadership. Leadership is what we really need; leadership by the Premier but the Premier himself, Mr. Speaker, how can you talk to the rest of the Province and say tighten your belt buckle when you go and do things and hire somebody for $300 a day or when you hire somebody for a contract that was not tendered?

Now, Mr. Speaker, $300 a day, $1,500 a week -

AN HON. MEMBER: $100,000 a year.

MR. SHELLEY: $100,000 a year? $100,000 a year, Mr. Speaker, to consult, to consult for what? The problems we already know about and why was it not put out to everybody in the Province so that we could pick the best person? Is that any way to lead, is that any way to tell somebody to tighten your belt buckle, by letting me do what I want to do?

AN HON. MEMBER: What is that?

MR. SHELLEY: What I just said, hiring somebody for $300 a day, I won't even use the name, Mr. Speaker, because it is not the person, it is the principle. Anybody hired by government for a $300-a-day job -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Pardon? Fabian Manning. Well, I am glad you brought that up. Now, let us compare Fabian Manning - is it $300 a day, Ms Cowan gets?


MR. SHELLEY: Let me try to work this.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nineteen thousand, five hundred a year.

MR. SHELLEY: The principle that a $300 a day job was given to just one person without thought, he should have at least interviewed a few more in your caucus, or past MHAs. What did he do? He picked one right out of a hat: Oh, Ms. Cowan, we're sorry that you lost; we're sorry that you didn't come back. Bridging a pension, that is what it was all about, and the truth be known. So how can you expect people to tighten their belts?

That was the point on leadership, and now the next great word, this consultation. The Minister of Finance is going around the Province having consultations: By the way, we are $180 million short, so what do you think? Then, when he had all the meetings across the Province he comes back and says: Oh, I am sorry; it was only half of what I told you. That wasn't true.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I am getting to that. So the consultation with the Minister of Finance, that is point one, and then consultation with the Province obviously wasn't there because they never gave him the facts. Now, let's go a step further; where was the consultation within the caucus when the closure of the colleges came through? When I stood with the Member for Windsor - Springdale at the rally out there, he wasn't consulted. The Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island, when were they consulted? The Member for Lewisporte, is he here today? Was he consulted? Imagine!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I had lots to gloat about, I say to the member, when I was in Windsor - Springdale the other day. I was glad that the people of Springdale saw fit to ask me to come up to their district. It is not my district, but I went up anyway. The consultation process of the members in caucus, forget about consultation with the Province, and all of you who are going to take the cutbacks, consultation with your own member, your own elected Liberal members.

With the word on consultation, Mr. Speaker, I adjourn debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TULK: Now that the hon. gentleman has asked for the story on Robin Hood flour, and now that the Minister of Fisheries is back in his seat, I move that this House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

Tomorrow we will debate the resolution brought forward by the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune, and I want to tell the Minister of Fisheries that he will have a chance to talk about aquaculture and fish farming. I move that this House do now adjourn.

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