June 7, 1996                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 24

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcome to the galleries of the House twenty-four Grade VI students from the Inter-Island Pentecostal School from the District of Twillingate & Fogo. They are accompanies by teachers, Bruce Bowers, Alvin Quinlan, Derek Ryan, Mabel Rideout, and chaperones, Ruby Ryan, Shelia Cooze, and bus driver, Floyd Boyd.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MS BETTNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to table for hon. members of the House of Assembly the list of projects identified under the Provincial Capital Roads Program for the fiscal year 1996-'97. The department plans to call tenders starting immediately and work will be completed during Summer and Fall. This year's projects, which include carry-over and committed work, totals $6 million and also consists of various road and bridge repairs along with some paving. The Provincial Highways Program is primarily provincially funded.

Mr. Speaker, total capital expenditure on highway construction this year will amount to $64 million. This includes $30 million under the Trans-Canada Highway Agreement; $20 million under the Regional Trunk Roads Agreement; $8 million for the Trans-Labrador Highway; and the $6 million I am now referencing under the Provincial Roads Program.

Mr. Speaker, the projects to be carried out under this Provincial Capital Highways Program reflect the priorities established by my department to improve the overall transportation infrastructure of Newfoundland and Labrador. The government realizes that the projects I am announcing today will not meet all requirements for highway improvement throughout the Province. However, given the restraint that government has, the amount of funds approved for this program, and others just mentioned, is significant and will provide employment throughout the provincial highway construction industry.

Mr. Speaker, for the information of hon. members, I have listed each project separately, and the list is attached to the statement that I have just read. It itemizes twenty-two different projects and I offer this for information.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to thank the minister for a copy of her statement. I would also like to thank my colleague, the Member for Bonavista South, for raising the question yesterday, on the luncheon, so that we could have this statement presented in the House this morning.

Mr. Speaker, it is very strange that 40 per cent of the people in this Province, in the last provincial election, voted for our Party, yet it seems that the bulk of this work, all of it or just about all of it, is in Liberal districts. It reads to me, Mr. Speaker, more like a Liberal menu than a list of roads to be done.

To us, on this side of the House, it is very disappointing, Mr. Speaker, not only to us but to the people we represent in this hon. House. I think maybe, sometimes, what the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture tells us, that: If you are Tory you get nothing, according to this here, he is probably right. But I guess the people of the Province will be the judge of that as we go on over the next three or four years. Again, Mr. Speaker, this is very disappointing to members on this side of the House.

Thank you.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today was for the Premier. Is the Premier going to be here in the House today?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: At 10:00, okay. Well, the Premier has missed 60 per cent of what has gone on in the last two weeks from not being in this House and hopefully somebody would tell him, somebody will indicate -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member again that it is not parliamentary to make reference to the absence of members or ministers of this House.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, today I will ask questions of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

The jury is still out on whether it was wise or short-sighted of the Province to borrow on seventeen years of Term 29 payments and spend the money in the next three years. Will the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board confirm that Ottawa has not signed a contract or formal agreement with the Province binding any future governments to resume Term 29 spending in twenty years time?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition asks two questions, or posed a conclusion and asked a question on the conclusion, in suggesting that somehow the jury was out on whether this is good or bad for the Province in economic terms. That conclusion is clearly incorrect. If one takes the present value of money, it has displaced borrowing at 8.75 per cent for twenty years. At a present discounted value that would be approximately $74 million. We have received $130 million, essentially, for what arguably, should have only been paid to the Province at $75 million. If you take it even at 5 per cent, which is our Treasury bill borrowing rate, and not the appropriate one we suggest, discounted value would have it at $99 million. So, however one chooses to resolve it, only a jury who couldn't count would come to the conclusion that it wasn't a deal in the Province's best interest.

The second part of it, which I think was a question, was whether or not there has been an agreement with the Federal Government. The answer is, yes. We have an exchange of letters. I have written the federal minister and he has written me, confirming that the money will resume after twenty years and that we can draw down the $130 million any time over the next three-year period, including this year, I might add.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I correct the minister: we have only received $50 million, not $130 million. We have foregone $30 million. And it is only an advantage if it prevents borrowing, on the financial end. That is not the intent of my questions, I say to the minister.

Will the minister confirm that under existing legislation, the Newfoundland Additional Financial Assistance Act, (1966) that was known as Bill C-185, the government can only enter into an agreement to provide additional financial assistance not to limit the $8 million payment in any one year.

Now, will federal legislation be introduced to give effect to this new arrangement?

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

MR. DICKS: No, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let me address the first part of the hon. member's comment in the House. We will receive $130 million over this three-year period, including this year. We are choosing to draw down $50 million now, and $80 million remains. We can draw all of this year should we so choose, some of it next year, all of it next year, as the case may be. It is a three-year draw on $130 million. For what we believe to be prudent economic reasons, we choose to draw only $50 million this year.

To answer the second part of the question, no, there will not be legislation. An exchange of letters between governments are binding and this is what we have done in this case. I differ with his interpretation of the 1966 enactment. It is not necessary to introduce legislation, either federally or provincially in order to achieve the end that we have sought.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not questioning the short-term economic advantage; that is not my question at all. The Diefenbaker Government, to its discredit, tried to buy us out of Term 29 with a one-year $36.5 million payment. Now, what, specifically, are the grounds for the minister's assurance that the Chrétien Government has not bought us out of Term 29 with a three-stage payment of $130 million? And what is it that forces the Government of Canada, in twenty years time, to resume payments of $8 million a year?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, there is legislation that requires the Federal Government to pay $8 million per year. If anything, in the absence of change to the legislation it does not hurt the Province's case and, in fact, strengthens it, because the only legislation on the book is one that requires the federal government to pay this amount in perpetuity.

What we have exchanged is letters. The federal Minister of Finance can bind the federal Crown; the provincial Minister of Finance can bind the provincial Crown. I do it every day. I sign guarantees on behalf of municipalities of members opposite and members here. Once I sign on behalf of the Province, the Province is bound; period. There are other lawyers in the House; the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi knows this well. An exchange of letters is all that is necessary in these circumstances. What we have is our security above and beyond the promise of the federal government to resume it in twenty year. It is a fact that legislation requires that it be paid annually in any event.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The legislation states it must be paid in each and every year, including the seventeen years that we are now not going to get any - that is what is in the legislation - and we only have the right under this to negotiate any additional monies.

The minister has said that all that binds this deal is a paper trail of letters between the two governments which lay out the details of the arrangement. Now, with untold millions in future revenue depending on this, and on the Government of Canada viewing these letters as valid, will the minister now table all of these documents in the House so we all can see them?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member is relying on one element of law. There are a whole number of manners, or whole degrees and ways in which parties can be bound. Parties can be bound by legislation, parties can be bound by regulation, parties can be bound by agreement, parties can be bound by agents. Every time someone on behalf of the government makes a contract, we are bound by it. We don't legislate every particular contract in existence. So I say, with all due respect to the hon. member, that his interpretation that there must be legislation to effect this change is clearly inaccurate and incorrect.

On the second matter, yes, I have no objection to tabling the letters. I will check with my colleagues; they are a matter of intergovernmental exchanges. If they are not privileged or confidential for some reason, I would be delighted to table those in the House, and I will do it within the next several days.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My next question is to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

If you feel it is based on legal foundation, I ask him: Will the government table the legal opinion which indicates that the government can, through a simple exchange of letters, change the terms of a nondiscriminatory, statutory payment, taking the money up front and depriving future governments of seventeen years of receiving those payments? In other words, I say to the minister: Does the Government of Canada really have the right by law to give us money up front based on a simple exchange of letters?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The government does not need to table a legal opinion on what is a basic principle of law. We don't table opinions on whether the hon. Leader of the Opposition is entitled to sit in this House once he is elected. We don't table opinions of law on matters that are self-evident and that are evident to any person who knows the law and I say with all due respect to the hon. member, there is no legal opinion because it is done every day. Intergovernmental Affairs exchanges letters, the Premier exchanges letters. The ministers exchange letters with the federal Crown that are binding, that are contractual and that are honoured so that there is no legal opinion, we don't need to - and I would ask the hon. member, should he have a lawyer in his Caucus, I think there is one, Mr. Ottenheimer, who might I am sure, be only too delighted to expand his knowledge of the law in this issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. They table legal opinions when it is politically expedient to do so. This is something that affects Newfoundlanders forever, every single year. If they have a legal opinion that is substantiated, I ask them to table it.

Now under this new Term 29 Agreement, the federal government this year is paying us $50 million. That is $8 million it owes us this year and $42 million that we would normally receive in subsequent years, money that we are not going to receive in following years. Now, are we giving up anything, I say to the minister, in the short term in return for the luxury of having that extra $42 million this year?

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

MR. DICKS: No, Mr. Speaker. Frankly, any person who has a fundamental knowledge of mathematics and does the equation and had to choose between taking $130 million in cash right now or $8 million a year for the next twenty years would clearly choose in favour of the $130 million. All one has to do is think of the amount of money that would yield upon investment at simple interest rates in the bank. By the most simple economic analysis, it is clearly a great benefit to the Province. It is something the federal government has done to assist us in what is a very difficult economic circumstance over the next couple of years. So the economics of it are so clear but I cannot see it being a matter of question or argument in this House.

On the second issue, on the matter of legal opinions, yes we table legal opinions when matters are controversial but we don't table legal opinions about basic law. I mean this is so fundamental that any Minister of Finance combined his or her government that there is no need to follow up on the question, Mr. Speaker, I have answered already anyway.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions this morning are for the Minister of Health.

There has been much discussion lately, Mr. Speaker, concerning the closure of the Grace Hospital and indeed some of the calls that I have had and even some of the constituents in my own district who are certainly going to be affected by this closure are very concerned. Will the minister inform the House if the government has indeed purchased the Salvation Army Grace Hospital and if so, what was the purchase price?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have been negotiating with the Salvation Army Grace Hospital people for the past year and a bit to conclude an arrangement that sees us own that property consistent with the arrangement that we already entered into about a year-and-a-half ago with the Sisters of Mercy at St. Clare's. I will be able, probably within the next seven to ten days, to indicate to the House that there has been an agreement concluded, and I will indicate at that time what the purchase price is, along with other details with respect to that issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for Conception Bay South, on a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, in that view, and if the hospital is going to close, and apparently it is, and the minister says that he can tell us within a week or so exactly what the purchase price is - I am very glad to hear him say that he will tell us in the House - I would now like to ask the minister: Will the Grace Hospital be closed and what plan has been put in place to transfer these services?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: The answer to the first part of the hon. member's question: Will the Grace Hospital Close? I have said in this House probably a dozen or more times, and I have said publicly, subsequent to announcing that decision on June 29 last year, that the Grace Hospital will indeed close. It will close sometime between now and December 31, 1998.

There are a number of initiatives ongoing with respect to the transferring of services from one site in the city to another, to accommodate the forward structuring that we announced. By way of example: Late this month, maybe, or early next month, the Rehab Centre at Pleasantville will have been decommissioned and the services from that site will be provided from a Janeway location for the duration of the existence of the Janeway; and then that will be transferred over to the new site at the Health Science.

The hospital will be closed. The schedule that we set out on June 29 last year holds. I can tell the hon. member and the House that I had meetings last Friday evening with Sister Elizabeth and the Chair of the Health Care Corp. Plans are well in hand to ensure that there will be no delay from our point of view or from theirs in completing the full range of the restructuring, as announced and within the time lines that we have put forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for Conception Bay South, on a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I guess one of the problems I am having, and the calls that I am still receiving from my constituents, is: When? When? When? This affects peoples' lives and I think these people have a right to know.

Can the minister now tell the House the amount of money that this Province will save as a result of the move in closing the Grace Hospital?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I would be glad to indicate that figure again. It is a figure that I have indicated many times in the past. We will save roughly 25 to 30 per cent of the operating costs of the facilities that will be decommissioned, as a result of restructuring. In the case of the Grace Hospital, their budget is in the $40 to $42, $43 million range. If you take 25 per cent of that, it is very obvious that it works out to about $10 to $12 million, so that would be the savings that we will accrue to the taxpayers of the Province. The good news is that it is not money we are going to take and do other things with, we have committed to a three-year budget for health care that shows an increase over last year; we are committed to putting these savings back into health care inasmuch as we have to make new capital construction to accommodate better services -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: - and the net effect of the restructuring in St. John's will be a universally more acceptable health care system for the people of this Province that they will enjoy, that they will have the advantage of using, that will enhance their health care status for years and years to come.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Since my questions yesterday, the minister has met again with the workers of the Marystown Shipyard Union and the workers union. I ask the minister: Will he table a report today on the details of the discussions with the Marystown workers union?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague was talking to me, I think you asked was I in a position to discuss the details of my discussions yesterday with the unions. No, I am not in a position to do that yet.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Isn't it true that the government will refuse to provide the Marystown Shipyard workers union and the National Defence Department with the $45-million operational guarantee to guarantee the work on the QUEST, therefore denying them this crucial, crucial work, unless the Shipyard workers union agree to concessions that are put forth by the government, rumours that Shipyard workers union have to put 120 clerical positions on the chopping block? We need to know what these conditions are so we can gauge whether or not they are reasonable to the taxpayers of our Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: It is a good question, Mr. Speaker.

Look, I have to say to the member and I know he is asking his questions sincerely, but you can't have it both ways. You can't have the Leader of the Opposition in here, three weeks ago, beating up on the minister and the government because the yard is losing money on the one hand. On the other hand now, you are coming in and asking us to negotiate in public, on how we can make the yard more productive and create a good future for the yard; you can't have it both ways.

Mr. Speaker, I have given a commitment to the unions, we have had discussions with the unions, they have been very responsible through all of the discussions. We have talked about productivity, we have talked about efficiencies; we have talked about partnerships to build a better future for this yard and it can only be done in partnership, Mr. Speaker, not by trying to score cheap, political points in the House of Assembly.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the entire future of the Marystown Shipyard depends on whether or not the workers accept the government's terms.

Minister, don't you think that the taxpayers of the Province, hence the owners of the Shipyard have a right to know what the concessions are? Don't you think they have an interest in knowing what the conditions the government has set forth for keeping this industry alive?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we are the custodians of the taxpayers dollars. We are working very hard in very difficult times, in an internationally competitive business where many countries, indeed jurisdictions around the world, are putting heavy subsidies into yards.

The union had acted very responsibly last year making certain concessions. The Board of Directors was put in place, given a two-year mandate to find further efficiencies from management, not just unions, from management right down through the system. Mr. Speaker, we think there is a very good future for this yard. We think we can capture a lot of work. We think we can have those men and women working for the next twenty years if we get the fundamentals right. We have put our cards on the table, the unions have put their cards on the table, and I can tell you that we have agreed to work toward productivity. We are ironing out the details and if we get those ironed out by 5:00 o'clock today we have a great future in Marystown.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Hon. Member for Kilbride.

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

Last week in the House I asked questions regarding the outrageous and dramatic increases in tuition fees at Memorial University. I would like to ask whatever minister, whoever can comment on it in view of the absence of the Minister of Education, is the government aware of a new proposed fee increase that is to go to the Board of Regents on Thursday of next week, and if the government is, can they outline what those increases will be today?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Education who is out of the Province today on business of government I would like to outline, to the question, that this is a matter between Memorial University and the Board of Regents. Will be referred to there, and, of course we will all know in due course when that proposal is brought forward.

Thank you.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the minister if she can confirm there will be over a 200 per cent increase in medical student tuition fees, from $2500 per semester to $8000 per semester? Can she confirm that.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The medical school at the university comes directly under the jurisdiction of the Department of Health or the government through the Department of Health. I can confirm to the hon. member that there will be substantial increases in medical school tuition this year at the university. There was a figure put forward and it is publicly known of $6250 next year but that may very well not be the figure, it may be something higher than that. The Senate will be dealing with the issue. I met just this week with the dean of the medical school and I can tell you that the medical fees at the university will be considerably higher, but I want also to inform the House that we are not doing anything more than being consistent with other universities. Dalhousie this year has had a substantial increase, the University of Toronto this year has increased their fees to dental students to $8000, and there are a number of other examples across the country where fees are going this way. We will be in step but we will not be inconsistent.

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

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

It is obvious from the Minister of Health's answer to my question that he has absolutely no knowledge of what is taking place with regard to medical tuition increases. The fact is that Memorial University's medical school increase will go from the lowest cost in the country to the highest, and that is not in step with the rest of Atlantic Canada.

Let me ask whatever minister wants to get up and answer, Mr. Speaker, can government confirm that tuition increases for five courses across the board will in fact increase by 15 per cent? This is the proposal going to the Board of Regents on Thursday, and that for special schools, such as pharmacy, education, social work, that the proposed increases will jump 32 per cent by the Fall of this year? Can the minister confirm that?

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

MS KELLY: I certainly cannot confirm that. This is, as I have said, a decision that the University is bringing to the Senate and they are the people who will be discussing that and making those decisions.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this hands-off approach to post-secondary education is unacceptable. What we are seeing is post-secondary education that will be available only to the elite of this Province. Let me ask the Minister this, in view of her answer that we let the University handle it, would she not agree that the cutbacks that came from the Budget on May 16 have caused increases in tuition fees to exceed beyond, way beyond, what a student's ability to pay will be. Would she not agree with that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I think almost anyone could conclude, after the type of Budget that we brought in this year, and the enormous savings that had to be made to balance the Budget, that yes, the answer to the question would be that if tuition fees increase it could be ascertained that it is partly the cause of the Budget that was brought in this year.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to ask this question, in view of the many young people we have witnessing the proceedings this morning. My question is for the Minister of Finance. Will he confirm that government has changed its mind and has decided not to implement a Kindergarten program referred to as Literacy 2000, and a second program referred to as Book Shop? These programs, it is my understanding, have been discontinued. Will the minister confirm that is the case and, if so, will he tell us what amount of money is being saved?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, details like that I do not have in front of me, but the substance of your question, yes, I can confirm that in the Kindergarten program this year we were unable to implement programs that would have been desirable to implement but because of a lack of finances it could not be done.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I submit to this House that the funds, the savings to this government, are relatively minimal. I would ask the Minister of Finance: Will he discuss with his Cabinet colleague, the Minister of Education, and other ministers around the Cabinet table, this very issue? I submit the savings are very minimal. Therefore, will he discuss this issue in the hopes of reinstating this program for the benefit of hundreds and hundreds and thousands and thousands of young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who can benefit from this very worthwhile program?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, of course ongoing discussion would be held about matters like this, and when funds are available programs that we would like to see in the curriculum will be brought forward when money is available.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are to the Minister of Social Services, and they deal with regulation eight. The minister knows, or should know now, that the decisions made by the government have caused severe hardships for many people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. I refer specifically to the discontinuance of the $61 emergency funding.

In view of the hundreds of calls that have come from all parts of the Province to all hon. members, in particular to the Department of Social Services, and with recognition to the fact that this particular policy change punishes severely the very poorest of the people of our Province for simply being poor, and government's decision has had a significant impact on so many people - 4,000 families - will the minister now reconsider her government's decision on the grounds of compassion for those parents, those children, and for those seniors who have been so negatively impacted by her government's discontinuance of funding under regulation eight?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to start off by saying that any and all of the decisions we made this year with respect to the Budget were not easy, and they were certainly done with the fullest understanding of the types of impact it would have, but it was a matter of choice. We made a distinct, clear choice that we would try to affect the least number of people possible through not affecting basic social assistance.

I would also, for the member's interest, indicate that when this policy was put in place in 1977 there were a lot fewer clauses available to meet the special needs of people, and if you were to ask many of these people specifically why they were receiving this allowance they would not be able to indicate why. What I have encouraged people to do, is to go back and see exactly why they were getting this allowance and see if perhaps it can be covered under another area. We will not be rescinding the $61 decision but we do have other provisions within our policies to address many of the issues that people are concerned about. I would expect that the hon. member would look to those other policies to direct the people that are calling him like we have been doing here on this side of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Just two points that I want to draw to members attention, one is regarding the attendance of members in the House and I refer members to Beauchesne, 289, paragraph 3 which says; "The duties of Members have become extremely varied and Members must travel frequently. The discharge of those responsibilities will sometimes take a Member away from the House. This absence from the chamber should not be the subject of comment."

As well, with Question Period there are certain restrictions that are placed on questions during Question Period and I refer hon. members again to 411 in Beauchesne which says: "A question may not: seek information about matters which are in their nature secret, such as decisions or proceedings of Cabinet or advice given to the Crown by the Law Officers."

Before we proceed I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly, twenty-six Grade V students from St. Mary's Elementary School in the Waterford Bridge Road area in the District of St. John's South. These students are accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Eric Hiscock and Ms. Judy White.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!




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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I again stand in the House and present a petition on behalf of the many, many Crown land owners in this Province who wish to voice their opposition to the change in Crown land fees.

As I mentioned yesterday when I presented this petition we had a very strong turnout at a meeting at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday night, one which the minister attended. As I mentioned as well yesterday, up to that point the minister was under the illusion that the Crown land users in this Province have no difficulty with the new market value pricing system. Well he found out differently on Wednesday night. The people of this Province have a real problem with the changes in the Crown land fees. He promised he would take it back to Cabinet and he would have a look and see if there was anything they could do to help the Crown land users in this Province.

One of the problems that they have with this are the people that feel that they cannot afford to come up with the $2,000 or the $2,500 before the end of October this year, are going to find themselves in a precarious situation in that they will no longer receive the monies that they have paid towards their Crown land as a subsidy towards the purchase price. As well many people are going to find themselves in a very, very difficult situation because many people are not going to be able to afford the $500 or $600 a year. These people built their cabins with hard labour, sweat equity and they cannot afford to pay this $500 or $600. This is the only bit of resort that these people have and the only bit of comfort that they have as a getaway.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in the House and present this petition on behalf of the Crown land users. Thank you.

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

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

Again today I rise in my place to support the petition put forth by the Member for St. John's South dealing with the increased rates for Crown lands in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, for years and years now people in this Province have enjoyed and have had the right to enjoy the Newfoundland outdoors. They have had the right to apply for Crown lands, Mr. Speaker, and they still have the right to apply for Crown lands. When I refer to the right, I suppose, I am including the right to be able to afford to apply for Crown lands for summer leases, or once they have their summer lease and have their cabin built, they would then be permitted to apply for a grant.

Under this new policy, this government had been trying to put forth the idea, I suppose, and it is really a misconception, that with this new policy people can now convert from a lease to a grant, Mr. Speaker. That was the case before this policy was brought into place. The people in this Province, Mr. Speaker, own the Crown land. They are the people who own the land. The government administers the Crown land but the people of the Province own the land.

The rates are really quite traumatic. They are drastic increases, Mr. Speaker. The minister has actually put on paper, in black and white, that the cost to administer the Crown land and the leases costs 50 per cent more than the revenues they take it. Yet we see the rates going from $75 to a minimum of $500 per year. That works out to be probably - what? - six or seven times an increase. So, if it is only costing 50 per cent more to administer, why are they charging so much more than is required to administer? The bottom line is, of course - and that was the first comment that I made on this new policy - that this is nothing short of a tax grab, a money grab. They saw a place where they could make a buck this year and that is why they brought in the October 31 deadline. There are no ifs, and or buts about that, Mr. Speaker. That is the reason why they brought in the October 31 deadline, so they could force people basically to make application by October 31 and then they would try and get as many of those documents and grants prepared by the end of the year as possible, and then they would have an influx of money.

The minister has stated, I think, that there are 5,945 leases affected by this. So they are saying they are going to take in $6.2 million with this new plan. If you take the amount of leases and take an average of $2,000 per lease, when you take into consideration the $100 application fee, the $200 documentation fee, and probably $1500, we are talking $2500 and $3000. So if you take an average of $2,000, that is approximately $12 million. The potential there really is for $12 million to be taken in under this program.

I can imagine what people at the department said, that basically they would expect to get maybe 50 per cent of the people who have leases to apply for grants. If this is the attitude, that would then beg the question: Why would they come up with 50 per cent of the people taking advantage? They must know in their own hearts and souls that the people in this Province cannot afford to come up with this kind of money. So what they are really trying to do now is hit maybe what they feel is 50 per cent of the cabin owners to come up with this $6 million; and they may come up with much more than that. That is a possibility in itself, Mr. Speaker.

As I said earlier, this policy is not a good policy for the people of this Province. I remember the Minister of Finance standing in his place on Budget Day and announcing that there are no new tax increases in this Budget for 1996-1997. Since that time, of course, people in the Province are starting to realize the real implications of this Budget with respect to the Crown land rate increases, the various license increases, and in particular, I suppose - one of the ones that hurts the most - the ambulance fee increase.

I know of people, Mr. Speaker, especially the seniors in this Province, who have to take advantage of that service on a frequent basis. The government of the day is trying to keep people in their homes and download onto the families. They are trying to keep people in their homes and not in hospitals. For that very reason, people have to utilize the ambulance services more often than they had in the past. You almost have to be on your death bed for the hospitals to keep you in in this day and age. I know of someone who went to the Health Science and had been sent home, someone up in age with a broken hip. They were sent home in an ambulance. They had to pay $75 to go there in an ambulance and $75 to get back; that is $150. Those are the kinds of rate increases we have seen with this Budget.

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

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

In conclusion, I will again repeat my previous statement that I support the petition, and I think this policy is wrong.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Bonavista South. The petition reads:

To the hon. the House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador that:

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

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power's passing corporate income tax increases on to consumers would be defying government's intention of ensuring corporations dip into their profits to help bear the cost of public fiscal responsibilities;

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

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition that has been signed by - I don't know how many names are on it, but there are certainly five full pages, and even on the end where the lines have run out, which just goes to show the concern that is being expressed out there today of the fear of electricity rates once again taking a dramatic jump of some 4.5 per cent or 5 per cent, up to $55 to $75 a month on people's electricity rates.

Mr. Speaker, this same utility, if we recall, a couple of years ago came to government crying about the unfair taxation that municipalities were putting forward, and government again bent over backwards to give them a little push and to help them out, if you were, when government stepped in and made it - I don't know if it was legislation but it was certainly a regulation - where municipalities could not charge a utility any more than 2.5 per cent. Some of the municipalities out there prior to that were being able to set a charge to the utility company like they would with any other business. It would go through a motion of council, and you would decide what your rate was going to be for a utility, you would decide what your business tax was going to be, and that was allowed to take place. That is why municipalities go out and elect councils. That is why you have a mayor and six councillors in most municipalities. But government, in their wisdom, caved in to Newfoundland Power again and said: It is unfair for you to tax them any more than 2.5 per cent. It is unfair for you to be issuing them a 5 per cent or 10 per cent utility tax - another example of government bending over to the utilities and not having an income reflected back into the communities.

I suppose it was a situation that if they were allowed to continue charging the same rates, maybe the utility would have gone right back to the consumer and just stuck it on their bills again anyway. In fact, at one time, if I recall correctly, Newfoundland Power was collecting taxes for government. It was added on to your hydro bill if you charged them any extra funding.

When you consider the economic conditions that we are living in today, and when you consider a utility making $28 million in profits, then I think that is ample funding for anybody who is in business today.

Mr. Speaker, I call upon Newfoundland Power to be like the Crown corporation, the biggest Crown corporation in Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick Power, that has come out and said publicly: We are going to be a utility of choice, and we are going to compete by offering people a service, and not cutting back on jobs, not laying off people, not raising utility rates, but by sharpening our pencil, if you will, and running a leaner, meaner machine. And that is what this particular utility should do. Nobody would deny them the right to get a fair return on their investment - that is what private industry is all about, sure - but when you see them now getting a fair return of some 13 or 14 per cent to shareholders on their investment, I think that is not a bad return when we consider the economic climate of this whole area today.

So, Mr. Speaker, I call on government to reach out and support the poor people, the people living on a fixed income, the people out there on social assistance, the aged in this Province, and deny this utility company the rate increase they are looking for. Their justification for coming forward and saying, We haven't had -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - a rate increase since 1992 is certainly no reason to justify an increase today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to support the petition brought forward by the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have seen example after example of the penny-pinching, the real hardship that this government is inflicting on ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We have rarely seen in this Province the kind of callousness that this government is showing towards the ordinary people of the Province.

This morning in Question Period I attempted to ask the Minister of Social Services if she were willing to reconsider Regulation 8 and the hardship it is causing. In this petition here, we see, day after day, the zero response from the government to the application by Newfoundland Power. We know and everybody in this House should know that ordinary Newfoundlanders out there today who have found out that they are losing funding under Regulation 8 - they have found that they will not have that source of income - now they are being told that Newfoundland Power may put their Hydro costs up next year. And, Mr. Speaker, we see no response from the government. We don't see a member rising up and saying, These people who are offering those petitions have a point of view that is legitimate. We hear the government saying, We have appointed a Consumer's Advocate, and we say that is a good idea, but we are wondering what individual members of the government would want to say on this issue. We are greatly concerned that this government is rapidly becoming very, very right wing. The right wingers have taken over. Preston Manning is looking to his left to find where this government is now seated in terms of its philosophy. The attitude of this government now is that they are so neo-conservative, they are so right wing, they are so uncaring, so high and mighty, such a bunch of Pooh-Bahs -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. H. HODDER: - that, Mr. Speaker, what we have now is a case of where this government now places itself to the absolute right of the political spectrum. Because they have abandoned the true essence of Liberalism, which is to look after the very poorest people in society, to be caring, to be outreaching, to be compassionate, to be sensitive, to be able to say, we care. In this particular case, they have forgotten two words, they have forgotten the words, `we care' and they have forgotten the words, `we serve'.

We are saying to them now, Mr. Speaker, as true democrats - and people have gone out and said: We want to consult, we want to be on your side, we want to show you that we really, really are out there as caring, sensitive people. Mr. Speaker, they have had their chance on many occasions to stand up and say where they stand politically. No, Mr. Speaker, they haven't said a word. They have not said a word.

I say to the member over there, people are calling me in my office and asking: `Will someone speak up for the poorest of the poor?' Mr. Speaker, I get callers on a daily basis by the dozens from across this Province, and they say to me: We tried to call the minister but she won't accept any long-distance charges. In other words, if you are not paying for it yourself, there are no collect calls being received in the minister's office. That is shameful, when ordinary Newfoundlanders will not get their calls returned from the minister's office. We know for a fact that people in that department are saying to the people who are calling - they are making excuses as to why the minister is unavailable. Some of them are, we understand, not exactly, shall we say, according to the facts.

Mr. Speaker, I would say to the government, look at where you are, look at where you are going, care for the ordinary people of this Province, stand up on those issues like you have here today. Do what you said you would do, be on the side of the people, keep near to the grassroots. Because the essence of our political system is that when we abandon the people we suffer the consequences. In February you all went out and you said: We are on the peoples' side. What happened? The change is more vicious than happened to Saul when he was on the road to Damascus.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: You should be all knocked down, Mr. Speaker. That is what you deserve, because you have lost your mandate, you have forgotten your commitments, and I hope you suffer the consequences.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the member for Terra Nova.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to this petition, and particularly to respond to some of the comments made by the hon. member who just took his place.

Mr. Speaker, it is so easy to prate and prattle and sabre-rattle about increases here and increases there. It is so easy to posture and to lay yourself, to prostrate yourself as the champion of the common people, when you are not in a position to have to make the decisions.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this petition asks the government to do whatever is required. To my knowledge, the government is doing what is required and doing it in an exemplary fashion. The government has its Consumer Advocate and I think the Consumer Advocate is doing a marvellous job, doing an excellent job for the people of this Province.

What I would suggest to the hon. member, is that he should get out and educate the people and lead the people of this Province, to tell them what is happening; and not to lead them and misinform them by telling them that the government is responsible for the increases in the electrical rates that are taking place in this Province, or the electrical rate increases that are suggested. He should be telling the people what the process is. He should be educating the people as to what the process is, and maybe directing these petitions to the Consumer Advocate so that he can see what the reactions and the response of the people of this Province are.

Mr. Speaker, if I thought for one moment, my standing up and responding to every petition in this House was going to affect the decision of the Public Utilities Board, I would be here standing all day long.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: I reject, Mr. Speaker, the accusations that the people on this side are not caring people, that the people on this side are callous. I reject those suggestions. I don't make those comments about hon. members opposite. We are all here working for the same cause, working to improve and enhance the quality of life of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That is the job, Mr. Speaker, and I don't suggest that I am doing one iota, one scintilla of a job better than what the hon. members are doing; but I am doing my best to ensure that the people who elected me will get the best representation possible and that they will re-elect me again. I can tell hon. members that it won't happen by posturing and doing the kinds of things that hon. gentlemen are doing. Let's tell the people the truth. Let's tell them what the correct procedure is and let's tell them that this government is doing everything that is required and more.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad to rise today to present another petition, Mr. Speaker, and the first thing I want to do is, apologize for not being able to he here. Yes, I hear some members missed me in not presenting my petitions on the food fishery, but I am back again and well-armed again with more petitions since two days ago from almost every district around the Province. People in the communities are organizing and orchestrating these petitions on their own with their own prayers and so on, and then we get an example such as this, the member standing up and talking about prattle and rattle or whatever he was talking about.

Talk about representing his district, Mr. Speaker, I guess he was one of the members too who stood with a standing ovation when this Budget came down because he looked at the chocolate covering on the Budget and the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island, his college just closed, walked across the floor and shook hands with the minister: Thank you for closing our college on Bell Island, Mr. Speaker, and there was a big, standing ovation from all around the House because he said: What a lovely-looking chocolate covering on this Budget.

Now the illusion starts, Mr. Speaker, like yesterday in the House of Assembly or Wednesday when he talked about -

MR. TULK: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. TULK: I wonder would the hon member, I know he is getting carried away; he is being stirred up by the Member for Terra Nova's passionate speech, I know he is all stirred up but I wonder if he would care to read us the prayer of the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, I remind hon. members that when presenting a petition, the comments should be kept to the prayer of the petition.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I humbly apologize to the Government House Leader. I mean, I would hate to get a point across without being perfectly within the technicalities of the House of Assembly and everything. God forbid, we should make a point before making sure our technicalities are straight, so I will read it, Mr. Speaker:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the Fighting Newfoundlanders - which the Government House Leader will have no idea of what I am talking about, but I do, Mr. Speaker - ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

We, the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador do hereby petition the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, to support our petition to do one of the following: Open a food and recreational fishery to all Newfoundlanders or, close the food and recreational fishery to all other Atlantic Canadians:

Wherefore, your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to support and represent our request to the federal Government of Canada.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let us get back to the point we were making. First of all, a raging and standing ovation by all the members on the closing of the Budget and how the Minister of Government Services and Lands thought there were illusions with the cabin owners and so on until he went to the meeting. The same thing, Mr. Speaker, and I relate it all to this petition, out of touch again. The Member for Terra Nova has not stood to represent his people on this petition or to tell us if he supported or did not support it. Mr. Speaker, I am here from every single district.

The people in this Province are very concerned about this and we talk about the timing of the year. There are many families in rural Newfoundland who just want to have the opportunity to go out and jig a fish so that their families could eat it. It is a simple thing, do not turn a mountain into a mole hill. All we are talking about is a small, food fishery, with a very small number of fish being caught - the members of the House on the opposite side do not seem to understand what it's like to get up on a Saturday morning, five or six o'clock, a nice sunny morning, and get into your dory and row out the bay a little bit, or get into your speed boat and go out the bay a little bit and just jig a fish. Do you understand that, I say to members? Why hasn't any member?

The Member for Terra Nova keeps talking about representing his constituents, at least get up and respond; you must have heard it from somebody in your district, that I would like to be able to go out and jig a fish this summer. I think the stocks are recovering and, Mr. Speaker, everywhere I hear it from people, everywhere, from fishermen, not from Ottawa's scientists, from fishermen and people who fished for years and years. I sit and speak to them every day in my district and they say: Paul, I would love to be able to go out and just jig a fish, why do they make such a big fuss about this food fishery?

It is all about image and perception, that is what it is all about so the former federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, now our Premier, made this decision against Newfoundlanders to be able to go out and jig a fish, stop making a big fuss about it. So they go over to England and they can wave the Canadian flag and say: Thank you for taking on the Spaniards, which is a whole story within itself, a joke within itself, Mr. Speaker, that they came here on a two-week holiday and stayed at the Delta, froze their fish for them and sent back, now we are being sued. That is what the flag waving in England was all about, the great minister from Canada, the great Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from Canada, so he said: We are even going to stop our own Newfoundlanders from going out to jig a fish. Whoop-de-doo, he really laid it to Newfoundlanders didn't he? We will show the world, we will not let our Newfoundlanders jig a fish to eat. What a load of foolishness this has all been, for two years now.

If any hon. member is really standing on principle and listening to the people in their district, listen to the fishermen who fished for fifty years and who cannot go down, get in his boat, and row out and catch a fish. That is what it is all about. Stop making a big fuss about it. Open a small food fishery and put criteria in place that will suit everybody. That can be done so that we will have a little bit of dignity left. Mr. Speaker, the point I make for today's petition is so we can give a little boost of morale to rural communities so that this summer they can go out and jig a fish and not make a big fuss about it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I want to clarify for the record, the Government House Leader indicated that Standing Orders indicate that the prayer must be read in the petitions, certainly for the record, so that people can ensure that the proper procedure is followed. I do not know that to be true and it does not say so, to my knowledge, in our Standing Orders, so I think we should get the record straight here on this particular point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order. I do not know if the hon. member is referring to the ruling on the point of order. The Chair did not rule that the member was correct, that the prayer had to be read. The Chair just reminds hon. members that they must confine themselves to the prayer of the petition, so really there is no point of order.

MR. LUSH: Let him speak to the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the Chair has ruled that there is really no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to speak on behalf of the petition put forward by my colleague for Baie Verte asking government to seriously consider reopening the food fishery. I think his petition went on to say the food and recreational fishery. Now, I do not know what a recreational fishery is, but I certainly know what a food fishery is, and anytime that people I know of went out to jig a cod fish it was not for recreation but to put food on the table. I suppose what flew in the face of every Newfoundlander was when this government, or their cousins up in Ottawa allowed it to happen just a few short years ago, to allow people who were coming to Newfoundland as tourists to go out and jig cod fish while depriving our own people, our own native Newfoundlanders, the right to do exactly that.

If you were coming here as a tourist you could go out on the Scademia or you could go over in Terra Nova National Park and take part in one of the excursions that they have out on the bay and jig yourself a cod fish. The government of the day tolerated that and promoted it, Mr. Speaker, but our own people out there were not allowed to go and take part in such a fishery, to bring it back, put it on the stove and provide a meal. I say to the government of the day that is deplorable. Finally, there were enough people who spoke out against it and they did decide this was going to stop, and now from what I understand it has stopped, and sobeit, they treat everyone alike.

I guess when you get back to treating everybody alike then it goes right back to the petition that was just presented. What is so different about a native Newfoundlander and a native person from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Quebec? Many of the people who live on the shores of the Northern Peninsula can look out their window and see the lights, and see the boats from Northern Quebec fishing, I say to the Member for Terra Nova, while we have to sit back and not be allowed to take part in the same exercise.

It was only the other day I spoke with a gentleman who worked with Marine Atlantic and he indicated to me that probably this summer he was going to spend a week up in Nova Scotia rather than come back on his two weeks off. He would just come back for one week and catch his cod fish for the winter. He would go off from Nova Scotia to catch his cod fish and bring it back for the winter. That is the only way he was allowed to take part in the cod fishery, because they are still allowed to take part in this particular fishery.

Now, the Minister of Fisheries will get up and say that the member is promoting opening a fishery when scientific evidence tells us that there is not enough stock out there to support this, his fish plants are closed and all the other bad things that a food fishery will do. Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't believe any of that. The amount of fish that we are talking about, the amount of fish that is caught is something like 2,000 tons a year, which is only a drop in the bucket.

The minister looks over, Mr. Speaker, and he has a concerned look on his face. It was only yesterday that I talked with a member and one of the biggest fishermen from the member's district. I talked to him and he echoed the same concerns, telling me about all the codfish out on the Grand Banks, all the codfish they were getting out of the nets that they were setting. And this same minister says, no, that is all wrong, because some scientist said there is not enough fish out there for a food fishery and that is why it should close. So it is obvious that the minister is not opening his ears, either, to the real scientists of the world, Mr. Speaker. He should be listening to the fishermen out there today.

A couple of days ago I had a call from a person in my own district who went out and put out twenty-four lump nets with a ten-and-a-half inch mesh. When he went out to pull his lump nets, he had 70 pounds of lump roe at the end of the day and he had 1,200 pounds of codfish, I say to the minister - 1,200 pounds of codfish. Now, what is he going to do with it? He can't sell it because he is not allowed to catch it. If he goes and reports all the cod that he caught, then somebody is going to tell him that he has to take his lump nets out of the water because the by-catch is too high. So, what does he do with it? He has to make himself a criminal in order to bring home a few codfish and provide food for his family. He is supposed to throw it away, Mr. Speaker, whether it is dead or alive. I say to the minister, this is unheard of, and I don't see any reason why people should not be allowed to go out there today -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - and jig a few codfish for food, Mr. Speaker, because I don't think it will destroy the stocks. I don't think it will hurt the stocks and it will have no bearing whatsoever on the plant opening in La Scie, the plant opening in Port Union or the plant opening in Bonavista because we are talking about very, very minimal numbers.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't know what's happening with members on the opposite side but day after day, week after week, they are bringing petitions into the House of Assembly to request a food fishery.

MR. J. BYRNE: We are speaking on behalf of the people.

MR. EFFORD: But if there was enough fish and we were all satisfied that there is enough fish out there, the first thing that we would be doing is talking about a commercial fishery. We have 1,700 people who just came off TAGS in the month of May. We have thousands of other people, all around the Province, not working and with no income. We have hundreds of people who will be coming off month by month now until the end of TAGS. Once they come off the TAGS program and if there is no fish, they have one alternative, to go to the hon. Minister of Social Services' office. Ninety-nine percent of the people in this Province don't want to do that. Mr. Speaker, there is nobody in this Province who would rather - would have any more fun going out and jigging a cod than I would. In fact, in a few short hours from now I will be aboard my boat, five or six o'clock this afternoon and I will not come in until Sunday night or possibly Monday morning. Nobody likes it any better than I do. But, when I go to my community -


MR. EFFORD: See how serious they are? We are talking about a fishery -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: We are talking about a very serious issue. They raise it in the House every day, they bring petitions into the House every day, and they won't listen to a reasonable explanation. That's how serious they really are. The bottom line is, I would like to have a food fishery. I would like to be assured that there is sufficient cod out there that we all can go out and enjoy a traditional way of living.

When I spoke to a man last week at the Royal Canadian Legion, Bay Roberts, a veteran from the Second World War, eighty-two years old, living here in St. John's, he said the only pleasure that I used to get out of life was to go back to where I lived - it was some part of Trinity Bay - to be able to get aboard my little boat in the evening and go out and jig a few fish - eighty-two years old. Yes, I would like to be able to have a food fishery. Yes, it is part of Newfoundland's heritage and it should be part of the future, but we messed up things very, very seriously. We made a lot of mistakes. We have to be totally satisfied that the fish stocks are in sufficient numbers that you can have a food fishery and you can have a commercial fishery - number one a commercial fishery, number two a recreational fishery - and that is it, Sir.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. DICKS: Order 3, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 3, the Concurrence Motion of the Government Services Committee. I believe the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis adjourned the debate.

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 stand in my place today to continue on with what I was saying yesterday. I say to some of the members - well, I can't refer to anybody in particular not being here, but I remember one of the ministers waving a white flag, so I tell him to get the white flag ready.

MR. EFFORD: What? What is he saying?

MR. J. BYRNE: He is at it again, look! Didn't you just have enough to say? I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wasn't here.

MR. J. BYRNE: He wasn't here, no. I don't want to name you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay.

Mr. Speaker, I want to continue what I was saying yesterday. Starting off, the Government Services Committee covers Works, Services and Transportation, Municipal Affairs, Government Services and Lands, and Finance. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation made an announcement this morning in this House of the provincial roads program, and where the money will be spent. I would have to ask the question: Did the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation make up that list? I am really disappointed this morning. We looked at the list, and I think there is only one P.C. district getting a very minimal amount of funding from that provincial program.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I would say the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, is not disappointed at all because it is all Liberal districts getting funding this year for the provincial roads program. As the Member for Conception Bay South said, of the money that is being spent, 90 per cent is being spent in Liberal districts, and that's not right - that is just not right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is not right, is it? The Member for Terra Nova says it is not right. The Member for Terra Nova agrees that is not right. He disagrees with his government spending that kind of money in Liberal districts. It is just unfair. It goes back to the days just after Confederation. If you were a P.C. in this Province, you were harassed, you were crucified.

I was speaking to a lady this past weekend, Ms Grace Sparkes, who ran four times for the House of Assembly back in those days - I am not sure if it was the House of Assembly or federal, Grace Sparkes?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Federal, yes, and she was really given a hard time by the Liberal government of the day. And that is what we are getting back to now. It is nothing less than disgusting.

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of comments I want to make, and I have some questions I was going to direct to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Who is a good P.C.?

AN HON. MEMBER: Ms Sparkes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, a grand lady. She is eighty-two years old, I believe, around that age. I shouldn't be saying, I suppose, how old she is. She is an elderly lady. Her mind is very sharp at this point in time. She still golfs, from what I am told; she still drives a car. She attended a meeting this weekend. She made a presentation at our dinner and dance, at the Executive Council meeting, and spoke for fifteen minutes without a note. An elderly lady like that, she is just simply amazing. I think, if I have half the get-up-and-go that she has when I am sixty-two, let alone in my eighties, I will be quite satisfied with my lot in life.

At the committee meetings on the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, I asked a lot of questions - we went on for close to three hours, as I said before, and got a lot of answers. I must say, the minister was quite well versed in her department, and, as I said yesterday, her staff was well versed also.

I don't know if I am going to get into the specifics of it now, but we had a lot of questions also for the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, in particular. I had some concerns with respect to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing in their policies now, because the minister stated that they are planning on getting away from private development, having discussions with private developers in the city, and he feels that land developments now within the Province being handled by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing are basically in competition with the private developers. Ever since Newfoundland and Labrador Housing came to be, Mr. Speaker, from what I know, they were into land development, and they used the profits from land development for their social housing program.

Now, there are some people within the industry itself, in the development industry, in the real estate and in the building supply industry, I suppose, who have different points of view. I have been speaking to a couple of these people and some support the idea of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing getting out of private development and allowing the private developers to do that; but I have to question the intelligence of that move. I am open to be convinced if that is a good move or not, Mr. Speaker. There are other people out there who fear that certain individuals may start forming and put a - what would be the right word? I won't use the word cartel, as such, but be able to control development within the city and control the pricing of lots within the city; whereas Newfoundland and Labrador Housing was always in the position where they could set the rates out there for the normal individual to try to get a house in this Province. Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, as I said, has traditionally had social housing programs and they use the money from the land development to support that.

The minister stated at meetings with Newfoundland and Labrador Housing that they are talking about selling off a lot of their market rental units; 200 units going this year. Again I have to question that because I don't know if that is a good move or not. The money that is coming in from those units, of course, would offset expenditures by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing; so that is something that has to be looked at very carefully, and I am sure the department will be doing that.

I wouldn't want to see the same situation occur that occurred with Newfoundland Hydro, in that the government was trying to unload Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro last year - unload is probably not the right word, they were trying to sell it off for the quick buck to help balance the budget last year or the year before, and we would be without that. Here we see this year, Mr. Speaker, that the government is increasing the amount of money, the revenues, that they receive from Newfoundland Hydro. Then again, if they sell off Newfoundland and Labrador Housing rental units and they sell off the private developments and get out of it altogether, what impact will that have on our provincial revenues for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and for the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs in the long haul?

Again we see the short term versus the long term. We have to make that comparison. This administration seems to be more concentrated on the short term rather than the long term. We can, I suppose, relate this same train of thought to all of the different departments in government. Take Mines and Energy, for example. We have Voisey's Bay up there. Government seems to be putting a lot of their eggs in one basket, and that is in Voisey's Bay. Now, we have, of course, Hunt Oil on the West Coast, we have Terra Nova and we have the Hibernia project starting to produce oil within the next year to two years. It all speaks well for the Province's future, Mr. Speaker. It is not all doom and gloom, I suppose.

It all boils down, from my perspective, to timing and priorities. The timing of it, with respect to Voisey's Bay - we know that it is a big development. There is a lot of money that could be there, a lot of potential for taxes for this Province, depending on how you approach it and what system you put in place. We are really not clear on what system to this point in time. We haven't received any amendments to the Mineral Tax Act yet that have been promised. So we really don't know what is going to happen. Again it gets right back to timing. If this government is planning to get revenues out of Voisey's Bay within the next two to three years, hopefully - and I hope their plans come to pass, Mr. Speaker, because we really don't know at this point in time if that is going to be the case.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Government Services and Lands - I will make a few comments on that also. That is a new department that has been formed. We have a new department and a new minister. From what I could gather, when we were having the committee meetings, because that department is not really that well organized at this point in time - there are sections of that department all over the place and they are trying to pull it together. Hopefully it will come together. It is in a department that is going to have a lot of responsibility in the future. The policy that they just brought in, and I said earlier when I was standing with respect to the petition, that the Crown lands policy again is a tax grab. I don't know if the minister really understood what was being approved. I don't if the minister understood what was being approved when that policy was put forward. I know, from speaking to his staff, that the department - they tell me that this plan has been worked on for two years. Now I find that to be pretty hard to believe, Mr. Speaker, that this plan or the new policy was worked on for two years because when the policy was first announced we asked questions in this House and the minister could not answer the questions. He finally tabled some answers to questions and they were no answers, they were very vague and what have you.

Then there was another ministerial statement made in this House and that was vague. It tried to clarify the situation and it did not. Then we had more questions asked, no answers, Mr. Speaker, another ministerial statement, another press release to clarify the situation somewhat. At a public meeting it was obvious that this policy was developed from May 16, when it was first announced. There was a very general statement made and it developed as time progressed. When people got up against it and they could see the flaws in what they were proposing, Mr. Speaker, they developed a policy as time went on.

So as we all heard before in this House, yesterday and today about the public meeting held the other night, 250 people showed up to that meeting. I am saying 250, that is the minimum, it was closer to 300 but they were very passionate. They were very concerned and they were upset. We saw some of the clippings last night on television and you could see that the people at that meeting were very, very concerned about what is happening to the Crown lands policy and the cabin owners in this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, after that meeting I had people come up to me and congratulate me for calling the meeting because they could not get any information out of Government Services and Lands. They had made numerous, numerous calls to the department and their calls were not being returned. If they did get it through the questions could not be answered. So they were thankful that we had called the meeting.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to Government Services and Lands, I have a question for the minister. Madam minister, with respect to transportation, with respect to Pippy Park - I asked questions at the meeting about the amount of land that was available and what have you and how the people in the park were being treated. There is an appeal or a hearing going on this very day, this past week at the Holiday Inn concerning some land in Pippy Park. Would she be able to tell us what the concerns are of those people with respect to the amount of money they are being asked for and how much land is involved?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, there is an ongoing process in place with respect to the acquisition of lands that are provided for under the Pippy Park Commission. Typically, those have been allocated and government is going through a very long-term process of acquiring lands as it can afford to acquire them and of course, in addition to that, if people wish to sell their properties on the open market they do have the opportunity to do that. However, everybody recognizes that there is a certain difficulty in selling lands on the open market when they are inside of the Pippy Park Commission. So the long term goal of government is to be able to provide for people who want to sell their land back to government through the Pippy Park Commission. Residents from the area, and I think they have a residence group, have approached the department and have asked to meet with me, as the minister, to be able to address their concerns to me as the new minister. I have agreed to that meeting, it is scheduled for within the next two weeks. I am not certain of the date, I don't have it here with me but at that time I will be able to better speak to the specific concerns that the residents might be addressing in the forum that you are talking about at this time.

I know they have concerns that they wish government to proceed more rapidly with acquiring properties for those of the property owners who wish to sell their land but not everybody does. In that case as well, government is quite happy to have residents continue to live in the park because we consider those people who live in the park to be the stewards and the guardians of Pippy Park as well. So I think you will see that there will be a degree of flexibility and an arrangement where we can hopefully satisfy what people who live in the park are looking for; but, as I say, I will be meeting with them very shortly, and at that time have an opportunity to hear from them directly what their concerns are.

Thank you.

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

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

Minister, basically I know the process, and we had some discussions on that, but basically I was asking you about a specific hearing that is taking place today. So you are not familiar with that hearing? What I was getting at, apparently there were two appraisals done, one for the individual and one for government, and they came out the same. The government did not accept it. They went back and asked for another appraisal. There have been as many as seven or eight different appraisals done; so, to me, they are not really being up front and forthright when they are pulling that type of tactic. Would you want to comment on that?

MS BETTNEY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The minister says she will take it under advisement.

Mr. Speaker, again, as I said earlier, yesterday when I ended off I was talking about the roads program, and was hoping that the minister would come out with some announcements this time around that that would not be so politically aligned, I suppose, as the previous minister used to do, but in my district of Cape St. Francis there are a number of roads down there that really do need work. I have been talking about it; I met with the previous minister on a number of occasions. I had a meeting with the new minister not long ago, and I would say it was a reasonably good meeting. She had her staff there, and I made my case to get some funding for the district, and I think the minister understood.

I know the funds are limited, but if you go across this Province and look at the amount of money that has been spent over the past five or six years in various districts in this Province, and compare it to what used to be St. John's East Extern and now Cape St. Francis, you will see that district has not received its fair share by any stretch of the imagination. I can get you districts and go back over the past five years and get a breakdown of where the money has been spent in this Province. I hope there is no need to do that. I would basically like to get some funding for Cape St. Francis this year. The road to Bauline is in a pathetic condition. They went down last year and did some maintenance with pothole patching. The road in Shoe Cove itself, just beyond the sign where you come into Shoe Cove, the road is in pathetic condition. The WindGap road in Flatrock is -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: I thought we had ten minutes?

MR. SPEAKER: Didn't the hon. member speak yesterday as well?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, but I had an intervening speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Concurrence.

MR. J. BYRNE: Concurrence - do you want to get that straightened out?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will take a moment to consult with the Table.

MR. J. BYRNE: I had an intervening speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I say to the hon. member, where you speak back and forth from both sides of the House with just one intervening speaker is at Committee stage. The hon. member has thirty minutes in which to speak in this debate, and he has used up his thirty minutes.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I do understand that we have an agreement between the two House Leaders that members may speak as many times as they wish; however, we do agree that there would be a rotation of ten and ten, but by agreement we have, on behalf of both the government and the Opposition, agreed to relax the rules for the Concurrence Debates so that there should be no difficulty with hon. members speaking however many times they desire, and going beyond the normal thirty-minute time allocation as per the Standing Orders.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Government House Leader asked me to act in his absence.

I know from the hearings we had the other day, or I should say the Committee of the House on Supply, we did, in fact, do that, and I think the rules are somewhat different, but in the absence of the Government House Leader I will certainly go along with it for now. If that is not clearly understood, then either myself or the Government House Leader will indicate to the Chair, but certainly at this point I have no objection to following that for the time being. Of course, any member might object to that manner of proceeding, and should that be the case then the Government House Leader or myself will deal with that at that point; so we certainly give consent to continue in the fashion indicated by the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair is obviously bound by the agreements of the House. Are there any objections from any member to operating the debate in the manner which has just been described?

Very well.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, do you have a copy of the estimates with you? No? Maybe we could have a copy sent to her.

I have a question for the minister. On page 71, under Administration under 2.2.01, item 09, Allowances and Assistance. There is an amount of money of $600,000 and I remember you mentioning that at the committee meetings this is basically due to insurance claims. Would you like to inform the House about that insurance claim, what it is for, and if it is settled and how much it will be? That is the one in Corner Brook I believe.

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

MS BETTNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't have my detailed notes here with me at the present time. I am reading now from some of the comments that the member has made with respect to this item being related to an insurance claim in Corner Brook; is that the one to which you are referring? The increased amount that you see there is the financial allocation that we have made in the Budget to provide for the payout on a claim that was awarded due to an insurance claim related to an injury, so this amount is provided to be able to provide compensation for that claim.

Now as I say, I don't have my detailed notes here so I can't say whether there is anything else related to that, but that is my recollection.

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

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

On page 73 also, under 2.3.01 Administration, item 06 Purchased Services; you had budgeted $642,000 and it is up to $933,000, that is a large increase and I think that has something to do with insurance on the vehicles. Would you want to explain to the House why there is such an increase?

MS BETTNEY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Page 73, item 2.3.01, Administration, 06 Purchased Services, up from $642,000 to $933,000 and deals with the insurance policies on the vehicles for the government.

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

MS BETTNEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

The item refers to the insurance premiums for the vehicle fleet and they reflect natural increases that have taken place in the price of that service. That item is tendered and the amount that is listed there reflects the lowest tendered price that we received.

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

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

Page 79, Minister, Development of New Facilities, Purchased Services, $4,110,000 to be spent; is that with respect to the Philip Building and could you tell me if the Philip Building went over Budget and by how much? Now when I asked that question, I asked it in Committee and I was told that it was going over Budget by $200,000. Now, I am not sure if they misunderstood me, I know there are renovation changes to what was originally planned on the request of the Minister I believe, and I am not sure if the Deputy Minister thought I was asking how much those renovations would be if that was $200,000 but from the original estimate when the government decided to purchase it from Hydro and turn that into a Natural Resources Building, how much it went from then to now, and the actual expenditure to convert or renovate that building?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, the original budget for Philip Place was $7.8 million. It is presently 75 to 80 per cent complete. It is within budget at the present time and it is estimated to be completed within budget.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you. One more question and then I am going to sit down and let one of my colleagues take it from here.

Minister, I asked the question last week concerning Philip Place and I will ask it now. I could have asked it in Question Period, but - on May twenty-third there was a tender closing for furnishings and - I have a copy of it here, wait now - general and systems furniture for Philip Place, it closed on May twenty-third. I would just like to ask the question: in the past few years we have seen as many as 2000 people being laid-off from the civil service and I am just curious as to why we would have to tender for furnishings for that building, when we have 2000 people gone? We have computers left behind, we have desks left behind, chairs left behind. Couldn't we utilize this when we are in such a hard financial situation, when the government had to see fit to let go 2000 people? Couldn't we have utilized that equipment?

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

MS BETTNEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Again without having the very specific details of that tender here in front of me it is very difficult to comment on the necessity of the specific items that were listed in it. All attempts are being made to utilize existing furnishings for any remodelling, for any change of offices, for any change of personnel that take place throughout the whole of the government system. Sometimes we are able to make those accommodations and sometimes we are not, but within that whole area that you call remodelling and refurbishing and accommodations, there are a large number of items that are very unique to the remodelling process, whether it is the cubicals or the different office lay-outs that simply cannot shift from one site to another and are unique to fit in with other things that are already in place. Again, at this point without having the specifics in front of me, I am trying more to project possibilities than provide you with a specific response to your question of whether there were items available. The only thing that I can say to you is that, if there were items of furnishings related to these accommodations that we could have used, we would have used them and would only have gone out where we absolutely needed to require new.

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

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

I will ask the Minister, would the Minister supply me with a copy of that tender and what was requested in the tender?

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

MS BETTNEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker the tender would have been a public document. There is absolutely no reason why it cannot be supplied to the member, so it is available for the asking.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to say a few brief comments on the Government Services Committees and I think the headings comes under Works, Services and Transportation, Municipal Affairs, Government Services and Lands and Finance.

Mr. Speaker, I must say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, knowing that she was working with a very limited amount of money, that it was certainly disappointing for me not to see any money put forward in this years budget for Route 235. I noticed the Minister had identified some money that was put forward there for Route 235, down by the Ryan premises in Bonavista, but as the Minister noted this is 100 per cent funded and that particular piece of roadway was something like point four of a kilometre and what it is is to re-route a section of the highway around some of heritage buildings that are there. It is certainly, certainly very disappointing when you see the many concerns that I have brought here to the house and the many petitions that have been brought forward and you see the school children who have not stayed out of school Mr. Speaker, but they certainly have taken part in many public functions, demonstrations if you would, public meetings putting forward the need to have their section of road which leads from Summerville, I guess the worst section is, from Southern Bay down to Stock Cove upgraded and repaired. Many of the children cannot get up in the morning and have a breakfast before they go to school, Mr. Speaker. Their experience has been with the road being so bad that when they get to school they get stomach sick and have to spend most of the morning outside the classroom setting altogether. This is a particular section of roadway that was built about twenty-nine years ago, from what I understand and inspections of roadways were not then what they are now and I think many contractors were probably allowed to do things that they would not get away with today.

We have had the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation out there. He did see fit to go out one day and meet with a group of concerned citizens. We all gathered there in the building and they expressed their concerns to him. They were very reasonable, Mr. Speaker, fully realizing the cash restraints the government is under and they said look we don't expect to see a contract let for $5 million or $3 million to complete Route 235. What we are asking for is a start to be made. If you never start you never finish. If you would see one kilometre done this year and another kilometre another year then at least the people would know that there was something being done there and eventually they would have a decent highway or a decent road I guess, they are not looking for a highway. A decent road to drive over.

Now Route 235 goes down around the scenic area of Bonavista South. It takes the shoreline and drives through all the communities. The scenery there is unbelievable as it is in many other parts of Newfoundland but all along that roadway you will find that there are very little services. In order for anybody to access any government services they have to drive to Clarenville or Bonavista and this is the particular roadway that has to be used. The children are bused into a local school there, many of them having to travel in excess of - well I would guess probably some of them may have to travel fifteen to twenty miles over that particular roadway considering the branches off from it, which is in just as bad a condition.

I might add, store owners are echoing many concerns because the service industry has threatened to take their trucks off the road from going down in this particular area. The school buses are continually going to the garage and having repairs done because of the damages caused by going over Route 235. So it is certainly very, very discouraging that I did not see anything brought forward under this years Budget. The local office of Works, Services and Transportation have identified this piece of roadway as their number one priority for the past number of years and I believe that to be so. I don't think it is just a situation where they are telling me that because I am there complaining or some of the people from the area. I think they are sincere and when they put their proposals in to government, I have no reason to believe that it is not their number one concern.

Mr. Speaker, when we talk about the highway or the particular roadway going down through the communities of Bonavista Bay I can also think of communities in my district that are without pavement. Communities, Mr. Speaker, that have had their roads upgraded and have been told and promised by other politicians that it will be upgraded this year and paved next year because that is the way the government does their work. That's the way that pavement should be laid and that's the way they found their roads - they get the better, I suppose the greater spending power for their dollar.

When I think of communities like Winter Brook and Jamestown and Princeton and roads in Summerville, Mr. Speaker, still without pavement it does not give me much joy in reading the projects that are being put forward by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation this year. In fact, in my particular district I think there are a couple of culverts to be replaced. There is certainly a much, much greater need that needs to be addressed and attended to. When people live in communities today who are unable to open their windows and unable to put clothes on the line on any particular day because of the dust and dirt that is coming off the roadway then I think it does not say much for us as representatives and it does not say much for government in recognizing some of the priorities as it goes to road work. So that certainly disappoints me, that I have not seen any increase in road work in my particular district knowing that the need is there.

When I see $100 million - I suppose this is what frustrates me - when I see $100 million spent on the Outer Ring Road and I see this need in communities like Princeton, Jamestown, Winter Brook and Route 235, Mr. Speaker, then it makes me wonder who government is listening to and if they got their priorities fooled up a little bit.

Now I know that the Outer Ring Road is federal money, but there should be some correspondence, I would hope, and there should be some degree of consensus reached between the federal government and the provincial government as it relates to priorities for spending money on such an important thing as road work. That concerns me to no end when I see that kind of money being spent right here in this city, $100 million, and see such a great need existing out in the rural Newfoundland communities today.

Municipal Affairs is another heading under the Government Services Committee, and it bothers me when I see the cutbacks that municipalities are taking, and it bothers me when I hear of people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I will yield to the Minister of Finance for a few minutes.

MR. DICKS: No, that is okay.


Before the Minister of Finance goes, if he is going to stand on his feet, maybe I will just ramble a little bit and ask him, when he was in Labrador - I understand the Minister of Finance went to Labrador for public hearings and consultation on the Budget, and I know it must have been brought forward to him many times, especially in Labrador West, the Labrador City - Wabush area, about taxation on tobacco, I say to the minister, which has been brought up in this House many times by the former member who sat here. When you look at the people in Labrador City and Wabush paying something like $57 or $58 a carton for cigarettes when they can shoot up the highway for about twenty miles to Fermont and buy a carton of cigarettes for $26, we must be, I say to the minister, taking an awful beating there on the sales of tobacco.

I understand that housewives have been arrested and charged as criminals for going and doing their grocery shopping and including a carton of cigarettes in their purchase there. I suppose if that is not done then the law is not taken very seriously, because if we are going to have laws and rules and regulations, then we may as well abide by them. I don't know if that is being done now, Minister, or if it is not, and I would also like to know if you are planning on addressing that particular problem in the near future because it is a concern that has been raised to me several times, and I am sure the Member for Labrador West knows full well what I am referring to.

Mr. Speaker, getting back to Municipal and Provincial Affairs, when you see communities that had entered into water services and sewer services years and years ago when they were encouraged to take part and be involved in taking part in the services of supplying water and sewer to their communities, and were told the maximum charge you would be expected to pay would be 20 per cent - I am not sure if it was 20 or 25 per cent, but I believe it was 20 per cent - of your revenue that you collect, that is all you would be expected to pay back to government, many of those communities went and applied, and were successful in getting Cadillac water and sewer systems, and today we find that many of them are burdened with the expense of paying many, many more dollars than what they had anticipated back to government. It was changed in mid-stream, and most of those communities now find themselves saddled with such an expense that they will never, ever get out of debt again.

Then, when you see the minister and this government coming forward and taking a 22 per cent cut on municipalities last year, mid-season, and see another 10 per cent taken away from them this particular year, I wonder why we would ever get anybody to come out and volunteer their time to run for council.

A lot of us have served on municipalities in the past, on municipal councils, because we wanted to contribute something to the community where we live, to the community where we raise our children. None of us, I think, get involved in municipal council to take our taxpayers and our neighbours, and the local residents, to court to collect taxes, but this is what is happening out there today. Many of those communities have had to go and fill up their local holding cells of the RCMP with delinquent taxpayers, have gone in the darkness of night and arrested people, who had to leave their children at home, because of tax arrears. Many times those people could not afford to pay and the communities that took part in such activity had no other choice because the heavy hand was put on by government which said if you don't collect your taxes, then we will hold you responsible, and we will intercept your government grants and you will get nothing until you pay the full amount.

Mr. Speaker, I think municipalities should be rewarded for their effort in collecting money. A lot of those municipalities owe hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars but now that they have become responsible, many of them, they put great efforts into collecting back taxes. A lot of them have taken it almost from the brink of collapse, the brink of bankruptcy in their communities, and are now up to just about having their tax arrears paid back to Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Financing, having it up to the current charges.

I think those communities should be rewarded, but instead, the heavy hand is still kept on them and they are being told, just because you are making an effort in collecting taxes, and, yes, you have done very well, but because you owe X number of dollars still, then we will not provide you with any funding this year to provide a new salt and sand spreader, or we will not give you the authority to borrow money in order to correct the problem in your water and sewer system. I have one community down in my district, Plate Cove East; the community council there just got their notification from Newfoundland Power saying that the water services are going to be cut as of June 14.

Here is a situation where a system was put in place that should never, ever have been put there in the first place. It is a Cadillac water system and as it got in need of repairs things were just cut off, done away with, bypassed in order to provide water. There is no chlorine there and there has been no chlorine for years. There is one pump and that pump pumps water up into a reservoir and the only way you know it is full is when the water starts to flow out over the top of it. Then somebody has to drive down to the pump house and manually turn the pump off. The same thing with starting it up, go and manually start it up, and when they see it flowing over the top again, cut it off.

Here is a system that cost something like $750,000 when it was put in place, to serve a community, in fact, I think it was put there to serve two communities, but the end result was, it served twenty-two households. Now, Mr. Speaker, those twenty-two households will never, ever pay their debt charges, let alone the principle, on that particular service that has been provided to them there. It should never have been put there in the first place. If small communities like Plate Cove East, Plate Cove West, or Stock Cove, want a water supply, put in a couple of artesian wells and then make them responsible for maintaining their own water services after that. Let them have a little water committee where they can collect fees and have a bank account if something goes wrong. The biggest expense they will have is replacing a pump. They can have that money put there and ready for themselves so they can pay their own way instead of going and putting in those Cadillac water and sewer systems.

In fact, it was only the other day, I think, in my own hometown that they had a public meeting and the council decided they were going to put in water and sewer. They did one particular area which needed to be done in the worst kind of way and I think last year they got another $600,000 or $700,000 to continue with the work. And the residents spoke out and said: We don't want it. Sorry, we don't want your money, because we know we are going to be responsible for paying it back.

Most of the people who live in this particular community are either senior citizens or people not fortunate enough to have a job and are on social assistance, so they don't want to be saddled with those kinds of commitments anymore, and you can't blame them. As important as water and sewer is to communities, people should be encouraged to keep within their means of being able to pay for it. That has been done, not only by this government - the situations I just referred to were done by a government of my political stripe, and that still doesn't make it right, Mr. Speaker. It is wrong. And that is why many of those communities find themselves in such a situation today that they will never ever get out of debt anymore. They will never ever be able to pay their service charges to Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Financing.

Mr. Speaker, it amazes me, as I said, that we still have those people volunteering their time, to come out and offer themselves for municipal councils. Because, I can guarantee you, there is not much joy in it anymore and not many positive things happening with respect to government stepping in to give them some financial resources to do some positive things in their towns. All they can do is pretty well maintain what they have or else try to collect taxes from people who are already burdened with other outstanding bills and with very, very little or very, very low prospects of finding work themselves.

Mr. Speaker, the other heading under this particular government department is Government Services and Lands, and I think we all know the many, many issues that have been raised here as far as the regulations or the new policy of Government Services and Lands are concerned as it relates to charging landowners now with the cost of purchasing their land. Many people are speaking out and saying: This is not what we thought would happen when we entered into this agreement with government, and I agree with them.

I think people should be given an option, if they want to purchase the land, let them purchase it. I don't think we should go and lay the heavy hand on them and say that in order for you to keep your cabin or, in order for you to maintain this piece of property, you must do this, you must pay me $2,500 or you must pay me $3,000. I don't think we should do that. I think people should be given an option if they want to purchase the land, then let them purchase it. Maybe there are people out there, as the minister says, who would like to purchase the land, they want it to be theirs and, God bless them, they should be given the opportunity to go and buy it if they could afford to, but we shouldn't go out and say to those people: now that we are the government that we are going to charge you because you have a cottage built, or because you have enhanced the land that you decided to go and spend some of your recreational time on, that we are going to charge you now $2,500 if you happen to be living on a roadway or $3,000 if you happen to be living on some waterfront property.

I think that is wrong and I think it should be changed. I believe the minister will look at seriously changing, and I hope he would not be dictated to by some of the other people over there who have no feelings for the person out there who is struggling today and would like to have a little place in the countryside where they can go with their sons and daughters and get away from city life or from their own town life. It is something obviously they must have wanted to do or they wouldn't have entered into renting the piece of land in the first place and building a cottage.

If you look at the thousands of dollars that those people contribute to the economy of this Province, if you look at the thousands of dollars they contribute in purchasing gasoline in driving to their cabins and cottages, Mr. Speaker, you will find that many of them are great contributors already and shouldn't be tagged as people who are getting something for nothing because that is not the way it is. But it concerns me that some of those very people will be deprived of the opportunity to go and not live in a cabin, but I suppose, occupy a cabin for a couple of months in the year or a couple of weeks in the year, or as one person said to me: `a place where me and the missus goes to have a boil up every couple of days' - go up and cook supper.

The Member for Trinity North laughs because he probably knows the people I am talking about. In fact, those same fellows came from an area that he represented prior to the last election. But that is what some of those people do. It is a place that they have built, it is a little `get away', it is the place that they enjoy. They go up and they light the fire and have a meal and that's it. But now, Mr. Speaker, they will have to go and fork out $2,000 or $3,000 in order to maintain that piece of property or else they are going to have to pay $500 a year, I say to the member; yes, they will.

Mr. Speaker, I also plead with the Minister of Government Services and Lands, to seriously consider bringing back the Motor Vehicle Registration Act that was changed by the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. It never met with many positive reactions out in rural Newfoundland. Most of the people I have spoken with and the people I have seen demonstrating here in the lobby of the Confederation Building were people who had no objections to getting their vehicle inspected. They had no objections to going and paying their $15 a year if they could go out and drive on the highways of this Province, Mr. Speaker and know that the tie-rod end or the ball-joint or some other thing wouldn't fall off their car, with their family aboard on a Sunday afternoon ride or a ride to work each day. I think it was uncaring and thoughtless for the Minister to have taken such a heavy hand, if you would.

I know that the new Minister is seriously looking at it and I know that the old Minister is putting a lot of pressure on her not to bring it back. But I also understand that those same garage owners have had to go out and purchase hundreds of dollars worth of equipment in order to do vehicle inspections. Because you still have to get your vehicle inspected if there is a sale made and you transfer it from one individual to another. It doesn't have to be done on an annual basis, but in order for those same garage owners to take part in doing motor vehicle inspections now, they have had to go out and buy several pieces of equipment that have cost them hundreds of dollars.

The Minister's argument was - one day when I brought it up here, I think he shouted across the House and said: You agree with the garage owners out there who are writing out inspections slips and collecting the money and putting it in their pockets, with the vehicle never going in the garage. I have no doubt, Minister, that that has happened.

MR. EFFORD: You are not still talking about that.

MR. FITZGERALD: I have no doubt that has happened. Yes, and I say to the Minister, he is still talking about it. He is talking about it to the new Minister and trying to convince her not to bring it back, I say to the Minister. But Minister if those kinds of things are happening, then let's deal with them. Let's deal with the people who are breaking the law. Let's deal with the people who are abusing the law, but let's not go bringing in blanket coverage - if somebody poaches a moose, Mr. Speaker, that we are going to outlaw moose hunting. Deal with the people that are breaking the law and let the other people who wanted to take part in the program, take part in it.

Now, I know you might say, well, you still have the option. There is nobody who said you can't take you car and drive it in to the garage to get it inspected. You can do that on a daily basis, I suppose, if you would, but human nature being what it is, Mr. Speaker, and I am no different from somebody else, is that we never take part and do those things unless there is a deadline or unless there is a time frame or unless somebody says you must do it. That is the way it is today. And I think to this particular regulation should be brought back and should be reinstated immediately. And there should be changes. There should be changes, I say to the Minister. There should be changes made in it to deal with the abuse, because it shouldn't be allowed to be like it was before, and the people who were abusing it should not have a license to do inspections. But I think that the inspection regulation should be brought back immediately and I think that the garage owners are not the only people who might be suffering because of this, I think you might see human life involved as well.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You can always have inspections without having an inspection fee, I say to the Minister. It doesn't surprise me that the Minister would take part in such a program as this and do away with the regulations because, as the member said, he has lost his scruples. There is no doubt about that. The weakest member with the loudest voice over there happens to be the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture - the weakest member over there. And I know that the new Minister of Government Services and Lands pays little attention to him, as do the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Because they have been saddled, they have been stifled by some of the uncaring regulations that have been brought about by people like the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Not living in reality at all.

MR. FITZGERALD: That's what is happening here. And, as I said right from the very beginning, some of those tired old faces on the front benches should be moved way back, and let's get on with having a government here that listens to the people and brings in rules and regulations that are helpful and progressive, rather than do the things that they dream up and concoct themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that there has been an agreement made between both sides of the House that we would accomplish some legislation here this morning, and I will certainly sit down now and allow that to proceed, and let somebody else speak on behalf of this particular heading of government.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If it is agreeable to the hon. Government House Leader, we are prepared at this time to call the vote on the Government Services Committee Estimates.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman would know, if anything, anything in the world, I am the most agreeable person in Newfoundland, and we would certainly like to see that vote called.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the vote?

Motion carried.

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

MR. TULK: The motion is carried, is it?

MR. SPEAKER: The motion was carried.

MR. TULK: I think we are now ready to move to the Resource Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: Concurrence Motion Debate on Resource Estimates.

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to speak on the Concurrence Debate for the Resource Committee. First of all, I want to recognize the members of this Committee. The Vice-Chair was the Member for Baie Verte.


MR. CANNING: Is; I stand corrected. We had the Member for Humber Valley, the Member for Humber East, Grand Falls - Buchans, the Member for Bonavista South, and the Member for St. John's South.

The resource departments were Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forest Resources and Agrifoods, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Industry, Trade and Technology, Mines and Energy, and the Department of Rural Renewal.

I would like to say that on May 28 we began our hearings. On May 22 we first met with Mines and Energy and discussed some very key issues with respect to Mines and Energy, such as Hibernia, Terra Nova, the West Coast. We talked about mining opportunities on the Island. I think that the Member for Baie Verte was expressing some view of mining opportunities over in his riding. We also talked about the major mining opportunity in this Province in the mighty Torngats, in Voisey's Bay. We also talked about the huge contributions from the mining in my riding of Labrador West. There was a remarkable amount of revenue flow from Labrador West, and that was pointed out, but I want to say that this particular department, Mines and Energy, has generated a great deal of jobs and opportunity for our Province, and will generate, I am sure, a great deal of jobs and opportunity for our future.

On May 27 we met with the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. He is a new minister. We talked about issues such as pulp and paper, and forestry products in general. We talked about agriculture, and I was impressed by some of the things the minister had to say about agriculture because I did not recognize, being from Labrador West, that it was such a major contributor to our provincial economy, so for me personally it was very informative.

Also, this particular ministry has big game wildlife under his department, and we talked about issues such as the massive caribou herd in the George River in Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CANNING: That is right.

Mr. Speaker, on May 28 we met with the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture and I was informed, and we were all informed, how aquaculture is a growing opportunity in this Province with tremendous potential and tremendous opportunity. In this particular ministry we have a very excitable and excited minister with a steady hand. He views his job as that of reinvigorating the fishery from the very difficult experiences that we have had from the moratorium and Mr. Speaker, there were quite a few questions for this particular minister -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think we have worked out between the Opposition House Leader and myself, that the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition wish to make a statement on a matter at this time.

PREMIER TOBIN: I wish leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the Premier have leave of the House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise to advise the House that I have just, literally in the last twenty minutes or so, been informed of the passing of Steve Neary, a long time member of this House.

Mr. Speaker, Steve Neary perhaps in greater measure than almost anyone else who has come to sit in this place, has left his mark on the public life of Newfoundland and Labrador. Indeed for many of us, on all sides of this Chamber, who have known Steve very well for many years, for many of us who have seen Steve, even in recent days, word of his passing comes as a shock and, Mr. Speaker, as a surprise. Steve's health, we all know, those of us who know him well, hasn't been as well as we would have liked in recent weeks and months but we have seen him continuously coming in the doors of the building here to visit with friends and make representations on behalf of individuals as he always did as a member of parliament, those who called upon him, for his assistance. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, in the last two weeks, I saw Steve Neary and was looking forward to seeing him this evening at a party function that is being held to honour former Premier Clyde Wells. He was in great spirits, he was positive about life, about the community, about the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and as always was vitally interested in the work of the Legislature and all of the members in the Legislature.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is with shock this morning that we learn of his passing. I know I speak for all members of the House and I speak for all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador when we express our great sadness to his wife Mary, to his daughters Monique, Andrea, Stephanie and to his son, Pierre, our great sadness at Steve's passing.

Mr. Speaker, it has to be said that few people have served in the public life of this Province with greater distinction than Steve Neary. Few have brought to this House a greater sense of absolute joy in the opportunity to participate in the public life of the Province. Few have consistently sought to remind themselves and to demonstrate in all of their work and all of their deeds as a member of the House of Assembly their commitment to what Steve would call the common man. He used to say, `the raggedy arsed artillery.' It was his favourite expression.

Mr. Speaker, he was a dynamo. He was a friend to us all. He had a wide and varied career. He worked for a period of time at the Argentia Naval Base, indeed he was there until 1945. He went back to Bell Island after that point to work for the Dominion Steel Company. Steve, none of us would be surprised to know, back in 1959 was the Secretary Treasurer of the Newfoundland Federation of Labour and indeed he was there during the bitter IWA strike, no doubt he there came to know his then nemesis but later very close and dear friend, Joseph R. Smallwood. Steve was a person unafraid to chart new waters to take on great and grand causes and to go where no man or woman had gone before. In that regard he was a candidate for the Newfoundland Democratic Party, unsuccessful candidate for that party at one point. I know the Leader of the New Democratic Party would be interested in reflecting upon that fact here today.

In 1962, having repaired whatever strains there were in the relationship with J.R. Smallwood, Steve Neary became a candidate for the Liberal Party and indeed was elected to the Legislature and spent more than twenty years of his life in service to the public of Newfoundland and Labrador. He was a member of the Cabinet, he served in several portfolios of the Smallwood Government, he was there from 1968, originally appointed Minister of Public Welfare and later, Minister of Social Services and was there until 1972 when the Liberal Party was defeated.

Steve was a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party and ran, as always, a dynamic campaign that challenged all of the existing precepts, concepts and assumptions of the day, breathed new life into the Party during the course of his leadership campaign and indeed, for a period of time, Steve Neary served as Leader of the Party back in 1982, he was an Interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and that, Mr. Speaker, for all who know Steve Neary and know of his great passion for politics and his great passion for the Liberal Party, was indeed most appropriate. He served during that time with great distinction and with great commitment.

Mr. Speaker, I know I speak for every member in this place when I say that, on all days, on all issues, and when we must reflect upon the public policy and remind ourselves ultimately of the importance of ensuring that public policy reflects the public good, the good of the ordinary, working men and women of Newfoundland and Labrador, we shall hear in this place, and in all the other places where Steve Neary served so well, the echo of his voice calling us to serve truthfully, honestly and despite our partisan differences, and Steve could be, as we all know, a great partisan, but despite our partisan differences, to serve ultimately the good of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is indeed a sad day for Newfoundland and Labrador. Steve Neary was the epitome of a typical Newfoundlander whose mind and heart were close to the people of this Province. I admired the qualities in Mr. Neary; he did indeed speak for the common person and, he was, as the Premier indicated, Interim Leader of the Party, a Cabinet Minister but he always stayed close to the political scene. In fact, we could say he devoted his life to the politics of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have seen him in the past on television, speaking out in public and staying very close to the scene and took a tremendous interest there.

Mr. Neary, what he did, he did with flair but also did with sincerity and with passion, and he truly believed in the things of which he spoke and was never reluctant to criticize whether it was his own party or another party when the need arose, and needed to be done. He was not one of those who followed and went along with the majority; he was the type who, if he saw things were not right, stood up to be counted. Steve Neary, is respected through Newfoundland and Labrador because of his concern, his interest and his passion for this Province and that is exemplified in the work and the contribution that he has made to this Province, and it is a sad day; and people in this Province will miss Steve Neary I can assure you.

I want to pass on, on behalf of all of us in the Official Opposition here, our condolences to his wife and to his family and to people who were close to him, and really will be the ones who will miss, certainly in the short-term and they too in the long-term I am sure, how important and valuable he was, but we will miss here in this Province, the opportunity to hear him, an opportunity to listen to what he had to say and to bring us back to reality on many occasions when we seemed to be obsessed with other things that are not so important in life.

On behalf of our party here, I offer our sincere condolences to his family.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was saddened this morning to learn that Steve Neary had died. He represents, I think, the finest traditions of an advocate in this Province starting on Bell Island as a union organizer and labour leader; active on the provincial level as a Provincial Secretary with the Federation of Labour, later going into politics, a partisan as the Premier has indicated, but one who was not afraid to criticize the former Premier when he felt that he had strayed from what Steve Neary believed was the right course. A man never afraid to say what he thought in public life and whether you agreed with him or disagreed with him you knew what you saw was what you got. My first entry into political life was to run in the 1987 by-election in St.John's East and I was the first candidate selected and I was not to happy to learn that I was dealing with a political pro like Steve Neary on the other side in my first run at politics. Mr. Neary had tracked a very devoted following and had a lot of respect for people for his feeling for the common person and people respected what Steve Neary stood for and his willingness to fight the good fight on behalf of his party on what he believed in.

He does represent the finest tradition of politics in Newfoundland and I think that we all mourn his passing. I would also add my condolences to that of the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition to the members of his family who of course were much closer to him then the rest of us and will more greatly mourn his passing.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

A lot of very good things have been said about Steve Neary this morning and on behalf of the constituents who he cared most about, I want to thank the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition and indeed the Leader of the New Democratic Party for their comments this morning.

All of us were saddened to hear the new of his passing. I think most of us will realize very quickly that a generation has just passed. We have seen many of the old film clips, late night television with him and Mr. Smallwood. We have watched his political career with great interest during his twenty years in politics and indeed since and I know that he has challenged me to do, as an individual, the best that I can for the people he cared most about.

On behalf of the people of Bell Island who he represented more then anyone else over the course of politics in this legislature, I want to thank those who said the kind words this morning and indeed myself to his family to pass on my condolences as well.

I think if you look at all the things that Steve has accomplished as a member of this legislature and as a player in the field of politics for the last some twenty years as a member and indeed since, I think he will be missed most by those who received the late-night phone calls because they had problems and Steve was willing to address them one-on-one.

I think the greatest accomplishments of Steve Neary are the ones that we will not see and the ones that most of us do not know about, except those of us who have been touched by him in our own times of need, when he went out of his way to reach out to us and me in particular, I can attest to that, to say: hang there we will do what we can for you and I think there is many a person who he represented on Bell Island who will remember him for that and indeed the people in the Port au Basque and Burgeo area that he represented for a period of time as well, LaPoile district I think at the time. They are the ones who will be a testament to Steve Neary's contribution to this Province above and beyond any piece of legislation that he may have been a part of bringing through this house or any cause that we saw him working towards publicly and on behalf of all of those people who he touched on a personal basis and as I said Mr. Speaker, me included. I want to extend my condolences to his family and on behalf of those people thank my colleagues in the house for their kind words towards him and indeed their condolences to his family.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker having served for a number of years with Mr. Neary, I would want to associate myself with the remarks offered by the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the member who spoke last. I can only say that I witnessed the kind of man Mr. Neary was firsthand and can verify, as hon. members have said, that Mr. Neary was not afraid to speak his mind. He was no conformist I can assure you, and spoke entirely the way he felt. I wish I could recall the speech that I made some years ago when we were giving him a going away party and welcomed in our new leader and they asked me to say a few words at the time.

One of the things that struck me about Mr. Neary was his ability to oppose, and it did not matter whether it was his own party or whether it was another party, he did it equally well. I think I remember saying that he coined new phrases in the House of Assembly. There were some phrases that were only Steve Neary's, and if hon. members want to find them out you would do well to go back over Hansard and read them. He had a tremendous ability to fill the House. We get people rushing out, the whips rushing out on both sides but you did not need that when Steve Neary was in the House, because when he came in to speak he had that great ability to bring everybody in. I am sure he himself would like this little bit of joviality, if you will, introduced, because he was that type of guy.

He would come in, seldom anybody on the Opposition side, maybe two or three, and he would simply say: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to be intimidated by the crowd opposite. Mr. Speaker, I am not going to be run roughshod, and people out in the various common rooms would be wondering what was going on. There was nobody in there from the government side, other than two or three, but Steve would wax eloquent that he was not going to be run roughshod, he was not going to be intimidated, and within two or three minutes the House was full, and Steve carried on.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to be identified with the remarks made by the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition and to offer my condolences and sympathy to the family as well.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: We will go back to the concurrence debate and the business of the House.

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, I should say it is somewhat challenging and difficult to continue with what may appear to most to be a mundane debate about Budgets after hearing the news we just heard, but it is a part of the process to which Steve Neary applied the whole of his life, so having said that I will just continue forward with my report from the Resource Committee.

Before the hon. House Leader stood we were talking about fisheries and aquaculture and I was making the point how impressed the whole of the Committee were in terms of the enthusiasm presented by the minister at our meeting. On May 30 we dealt with Industry, Trade, and Technology and this, too, is an exciting department and it holds great promise for the whole of the people in this Province. Really, the minister is very much into selling our people and our products to the world. That is a mission he has taken on. I should say, Mr. Speaker, that one of the things that members of the committee said during that hearing was that perhaps the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology may need a bigger travel budget next year, something we may keep in mind for next year's Budget.

That particular department is very much into the development of new technology and the facilitating of that technology throughout industry in our Province. We also, on the 28th, met with the Department of Development and Rural Renewal. This particular department has a new minister with strong leadership. She is currently undertaking now programs, as she explained to the Committee, to begin the process of rural renewal, something she has taken on with a great deal of enthusiasm herself. As a matter of fact I should quote from the Mayor of Wabush who says that her enthusiasm is infectious.

Mr. Speaker, the final department we met with was Tourism, Culture and Recreation. This department, too, has a new minister, and we talked a great deal about the Cabot 500 and those things that we should expect, as a Province, to participate in and enjoy next year. The whole of the committee was very much appreciative of the openness and frankness of her particular discussions with the committee and I must say, as the Chairman, I was taken aback by the tremendous potential that we have yet to harness in this particular Province with respect to its tourism potential.

Mr. Speaker, all of the questions in our committee were thoughtful. There were precise and clear and concise answers. The decorum of the committee, I can only say, was ten out of ten. All members spoke as they wished to, without any difficulty at all, and received the answers, I believe, that they wanted.

Mr. Speaker, those particular departments that come under this committee represent a very small portion of the expenditure of this Province, but it ought not to be lost on anybody what kind of return we can have on the investments in those particular departments. They have a magnificent capacity to create new jobs and new opportunity for our people.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to thank the members of the committee. I would like to thank the ministers for their representations, and I would like to thank equally their staff for providing the background that the committee desired to have. I would also like to say that at the end of the day, when we are through this Budget program and period, that we want to get on to what is and will be our real agenda, that of creating jobs and opportunity, giving people the dignity of work and the dignity of a pay cheque, and that is what these particular departments under this committee are there to do.

I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the time, and I look forward to the debate during this particular committee.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I rise now to make a few comments about the Resource Committee. The Chairman is quite right; we did co-operate and communicate very well during the meetings with the various ministers and their departments, but also I would like to agree with the member, too, when he talks about it being very strange now to get up and make comments back on our usual day, and he referred to it as a Monday, and he should. It is, too, in effect, when you get the news that we have just heard in the House of Assembly.

Just to make one comment on that, being a rookie member, as a lot of the members in this Chamber are, when you hear the name of Steve Neary mentioned, of course, it is like the people who watch hockey for years, and you saw people like Gordie Howe and so on. Well, I put Steve Neary in the same category as that. He was a politician who was respected by every single person who has ever aspired to being a politician. We always knew the Steve Neary name, and had a great deal of respect for him as a politician, but especially as one of those - and I will repeat the phrase here that I used in my petitions - a Fightin' Nfld'er. He can be certainly dubbed as a Fighting Newfoundlander. He especially had the spirit of Newfoundland at heart every time he spoke in this Legislature, I am sure; and also, when he spoke in public, he was a Newfoundlander through and through, and was certainly well-respected around this Province by every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

We do have to get on with business and, as the member also said, I am sure that Mr. Neary would say, get on with business, because he was always very interested in what happened in this House. He kept in touch all the time. He didn't just quit politics and go on; he kept very close ties to what happened in this Legislature, and was always very interested, and was always the first to put forward that: Yes, politics may be boring to a lot of people, but it's life. It's what happens in this Province. The decisions made here in this House affect what we eat, what we drink, how we sleep, where we go to school, and how we live. He always pushed forward professional politics as being the reality of the world that we live in and that we have to go on with. So that is why we continue to do the things we do in this House.

Mr. Speaker, on the Concurrence Debate of these particular Resource Committees, the thing about it is, it has to do with all the resources of our Province. Of course, the biggest criticism of us, as politicians again, is that our resources - and I mean by the general public of the Province - have been, over the years, by all the different parties of all the different stripes, mishandled. Of course, we always get the lines during elections especially, by all parties, of how we are going to handle our resources this time, how we are going to make sure we are not going to make mistakes and so on.

The first one I want to mention here is Mines and Energy. Of course, the biggest line during the election was about getting our full and fair share, which the Premier used continuously and all the members used quite well during the leadership campaign. Mr. Speaker, to be quite frank about it, many people in the Province, whether they voted PC, Liberal, NDP or Independent or whatever they voted, they just don't buy that. And as politicians, we should understand why they don't - not just one side of the House or the other, we have to understand what people say out there: Well, I don't really - that's not enough for me this time. We are not going to buy into the line that we will get our full and fair share and we will sit back and say, okay, you handle it. The truth is, they don't trust us. They don't trust us as government, not as a party, but as governments they don't trust us to say that. So what we really need to see, especially in Mines and Energy, which has one of the largest potential for the recovery of this Province, has to be watched so closely. It is great for us as members - and we in Opposition will ask questions on Voisey's Bay and so on, but the more you learn and the more you read about Voisey's Bay, Mr. Speaker, in particular, the more you realize what a mammoth project it is and that really, we know so little about. I mean, even in the press again today, Mr. Speaker, Inco announcing that - the final acquisition by Inco of Voisey's Bay so we can go on to develop it has been postponed again by a case, the Texas-based firm which is challenging who really discovered Voisey's Bay and who really has the rights to that development.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have asked the question in the House of the Minister of Mines and Energy, and it is a very constructive, straightforward, sincere question: What is really happening with that law case? How long are we going to see delays in Voisey's Bay development? Are we going to see days, weeks, months or years? Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a straightforward question that many, many Newfoundlanders are asking. I guess, what they want the government to do is give them a straight answer, as good as possible with the resources they have, as government, and with the Justice department and so on, to find out if we are really going to be bogged down in the courts before we see the development of Voisey's Bay.

Of course, the whole philosophy of the government, and it has been suggested in the last few days, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of short-term things. It started with the previous Administration, the Wells Government, when they sold the ferry services, and that was a short-term fix. And, of course, many government members have acknowledged that, that it was a one-time money grab that would not be there anymore. Then, we look at some other similar examples, the Term 29, which allowed as money over a number of years, but now it is compiled so that we get a lump sum quickly; but what will we do down the road? Then we have such things as what is happening with the cabin owners, that is a one-time money grab. It is not going to last. Right now, we get $75 a year from every cabin owner year by year. What we are going to do now is see another lump sum quickly.

So, those are just three, we could go on with more examples and the reason why I want to relate that to Mines and Energy and Voisey's Bay Mr. Speaker is that are we gambling with the future of the Province if we do these short term fix examples like I just explained and I mentioned it to the Minister of ITT this morning and I am sincere when I say, I am hoping, there is nobody hoping more then me or any other Newfoundlander that Voisey's Bay comes on stream and yes we have our full and fair share. People go to work, we get our royalties, the tax regime in place is a proper one and that Newfoundlanders can finally say government did it right. That we are really going to see the benefits of Voisey's Bay and we are really going to have recovery.

Mr. Speaker it would be so great if the entire Opposition could stand up in three years from now or two years whenever the deal is signed and say: yes we are really going to get a fair share of Voisey's Bay and then the people in Labrador can stand up one by one and say we finally got what we deserve, a resource on our land and we are finally going to see some real economics, real benefits Mr. Speaker. I mean for years and years sitting back - I have watched the Hibernia story unfold like many members here in this house - as a young person in school I remember when I first heard about Hibernia I said: wow, we discovered oil, we are going to have it knocked, there will not be any more poor and 'have not will be no more' and all of those phrases, Mr. Speaker. I remember listening to all of that and some day the sun will shine and so on Mr. Speaker. Like I say to the members -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not as long as they are over there we will not.

MR. SHELLEY: - whatever government is in power, Newfoundlanders in general are just saying very simply, I am sorry but we do not trust government. We are glad that the Premier on his occasions in front of a camera says we are going to get our full and fair share. I know that many members during the election went around and said we will get our full and fair share and it is good to pound the desk and rant and rave and say we will get our full share, but Mr. Speaker the people of this Province for a very very good reason Mr. Speaker, people of this Province are saying that is nice, I am glad to hear you say that, but we want to see it in black and white, we want to see concrete evidence that we are finally going to see the full and fair share of benefits to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The mineral resources we have, the oil off shore, the tourism potential, the fishery, it is amazing Mr. Speaker, and every young Newfoundlander and Labradorian especially the people that are leaving. They leave and get on that boat in Port aux Basque so bitter about this Province, young people. Get on the boat in Port aux Basque and I have spoken to them at different times going across the Gulf. So, you talk to some nineteen or twenty year old who is on his way going across on the ferry Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to them. I know members in the house have spoken to young people leaving this Province, they say it is amazing they are so bitter, they want to stay in Newfoundland so bad, they look around, they hear about the oil finds, they hear about the Voisey's Bay's –

MR. SULLIVAN: Rick is not gone home yet, it is Friday morning -

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker they are so bitter getting on that boat leaving this Province when they have heard so much rhetoric and I say again, from all political parties over the years: Oh we have the Churchill Falls and Hibernia has been discovered and so on. Our resources, Mr. Speaker, our resources, which list all here, Mines and Energy, Forest, Development and Rural Renewal, Fisheries, Industry, Trade and Technology, Tourism, all those resources right under our nose with such a small population, and we can't sustain people in this Province so that we can keep people in this Province. It is a real shame, Mr. Speaker.

So what the government has now and what the Premier alludes to very often, is the fact that we have to manage our resources to our full and fair share, Mr. Speaker, so that we don't see - yes, Hibernia was good to an extent but was it our full and fair share? I think a lot of people would question that, I think a lot of people in government would question that. Was Hibernia the best deal that we could get, is Terra Nova the best deal we could get?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I said many people would question that, I say to the hon. Government House Leader, if we did get our best deal out of Hibernia, if we did get the full deal but, the point being, short-term fixes of some examples that this government has put forward, allows me to believe that what they are really hoping for, that within two years they will have these quick, one-time fix for fiscal restraint, quick bucks, big bucks as the Member for Cape Francis would say, those quick bucks fast but what are we really doing, are we really taking a chance on the future?

What about Voisey's Bay if it is caught up in court cases? What about if it does not put out the deal that we really believe we really should have? So, Mr. Speaker, the lesson to the new government is that we have to make sure that the full and fair share is documented and the results are concrete and jobs and royalties and a tax regime are going to benefit this Province first, that is what we have to make sure of, Mr. Speaker, and it bothers me and even scares me to a point when you see some of the, so far, the road that the government has taken on the quick fixes of Term 29, the cabins, the small things, a lot of small things that add up but they won't be there.

The fees from the cabins won't be there next year if we keep on this path. Term 29, $8 million won't be there in years to come if our next generation finds themselves in the financial difficulties in which we find ourselves now, so are we really, Mr. Speaker, taking a chance on our future? Are we rolling the dice?... was a phrase that was used, are we doing it in this Province right now, with our resources, hoping that Voisey's Bay will come on stream and save us all?

Now, Mr. Speaker Voisey's Bay is fine but we also have to remember that there are small explorations around this Province with great potential and of course, we all rant and rave about Voisey's Bay but I still believe, Mr. Speaker, and I have had the philosophy for a long time in this Province, that it is not the big, mammoth projects that will save or recover this Province. I believe that and I still believe it. I believe what is going to save this Province is the small business, the small mines, the small tourism outfitters camps, the small stores, and the small factories. A lot of small things can make a concrete foundation for this Province so that we can survive.

The analogy I have used many times in this House is my home community of Baie Verte. They depended on just one thing for a long, long time and that was the mines there, and when the mines died the community almost died, but they did not because they survived on the small things that surrounded that community and the communities that surrounded that community, the point being that we cannot put all our eggs in one basket again. We cannot put all our eggs in one basket and say we will do some crunch numbers now, we will do firefighting measures now, do some short-term fixes quickly for this year and next year, but hopefully, and we will pray to God, in two or three years Voisey's Bay will blossom and we will survive.

Mr. Speaker, the question is, what if it does not? What if? That is the question that any government who is making smart prudent plans for this Province, if they are making smart plans for the Province, they will remember our past and learn from it. If we do not get what we hope for in two, three, or four years time, and there is a lot of doubt in the minds of a lot of people, that Voisey's Bay within two or three years is going to save us, so I caution the government and the Government House Leader, if it does not happen, what then?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Go ahead ask the question.

Mr. Speaker, is the Government House Leader recognized? I know many people do not recognize him.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the Government House Leader for giving me such a difficult question. As a matter of fact he threw out the Orange Bug and I am not even going to bite. It is such a question that I would not even venture to answer it, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that whatever government is in power, I can tell you this right now, we hope that in two or three years time the whole Opposition can stand and look over across the House and say: you got us the best deal in Voisey's Bay, you have been managing the Province properly, rural Newfoundland is starting to revive - as we have a department now for rural renewal. We now have a department for rural renewal.

Just think about it. We are going to revive - and I ask the minister - I hope that department means we are going to renew and revive rural Newfoundland, so in two to three years from now, just before the election, we should all be able to say in this House: We got the best deal for Voisey's Bay. The Minister of Rural Renewal, we have to commend her on a great job well done, and that rural Newfoundland has really revived. We hope we can do that.

I will be the first to stand in this House, I say to the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, in three years, leading into the next election, and say that: Yes, rural Newfoundland has revived; there is a lot of positive feeling out there, and we are really building. I will be the first to stand and commend the minister and thank the Premier for putting this portfolio in place, because that is what it is supposed to be about, rural renewal. So there is a lot of wait and see.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that the dream you had last night?

MR. SHELLEY: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you talking about the dream you had last night?

MR. SHELLEY: The nightmare I had last night.

I say to the government, the point I am getting across in this Concurrence Debate, as we talk about our resources, is that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not willing to sit back any more, and when government says: Don't worry about it; we will handle Voisey's Bay. We handled Churchill Falls, didn't we? We handled Hibernia. We handled the rubber boot factories, and so on.

I am just simply saying that people do not trust government or politicians in general. We knew that when we took office, when we ran, but we cannot blame the public. We have such a track record of different governments in this Province, different parties, I say to the Government House Leader, such a terrible, terrible record.

I do know this, I say to the Government House Leader, that our track record with our resources has been terrible, yes, and both parties and so on. All I am saying to the Government House Leader, if he missed it, is that I am afraid, I am concerned, and I know many Newfoundlanders are, that the one-time quick fixes that we see now to fix our bottom line this year, the big scrabble, the fire-fighting that is going on with the cabins and the fees... One fellow I talked to this past week said: When are they going to put a fee on our outhouses? They put a fee on everything else; I wonder when outhouses are going to have fees? They are wondering when their outhouses are going to have fees.

MR. EFFORD: Next week.

MR. SHELLEY: The Minister of Fisheries says that outhouses -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Thanks for the idea.

MR. SHELLEY: Now I gave him another idea. I will be blamed for this; I can see that coming. You are going to see a fee coming on outhouses next. Every time you turn around, their cabins, their boats, what is next? I wouldn't doubt it. I would not be surprised - I will say that - if the Minister of Government Services stood up and said that anybody with government outhouses, there is a fee.

MR. EFFORD: Tax the beach rocks.

MR. SHELLEY: Tax the beach rocks, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture says.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, no, he is wrong there; he is not going to tax. I remember the chocolate covering on all of this Budget. Stand up; no tax increases, it is almost like the contract you do out with insurances. You get in big, bold letters, all of these things that are going to happen and on the bottom in very small print, so you can barely read it, Mr. Speaker, it says no taxes but there are going to be a lot of fees there that we are not going to tell you about until later on. That's what's going to happen. How much is it? What are the total fees, $12 million? Is that right, $12 million in fees?

MR. SULLIVAN: On what?

MR. SHELLEY: In fees overall for the Province?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, there are over $12, million, that's not counting the Crown land -

MR. SHELLEY: Over $12 million in fees, Mr. Speaker. So during the Budget Speech -

MR. SULLIVAN: Plus $6.2 million for Crown lands, projected.

MR. SHELLEY: $6.2 million for Crown lands, Mr. Speaker, and it goes on and on. Then we have the standing ovation for the Budget because, Mr. Speaker, maybe a lot of them did not understand it. Maybe a lot of them did not understand it, especially the back benches, I don't know how much the Cabinet understood it. A standing ovation when the Minister of Finance stood in the House and said what a great Budget we are going to give, no taxes but watch out for the fees. Be very, very quiet about it, Mr. Speaker.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have a lot more comments to make on the different resources here. The forestry resources of course are always put on the back burner and never talked about. I am going to raise some serious, serious issues and serious concerns on the forestry issues. The Rural Renewal we touched on a little bit, the Fisheries and Aquaculture, Industry, Trade and Technology and of course Tourism, Culture and Recreation, which I think is the untapped resource. Mr. Speaker, we will have some more time the next day to make some more comments. So I will adjourn debate for now and continue on Monday.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House adjourn but before we do, I would like to say that we will be continuing with the Resource Committee and the Social Services Committee on Monday, as far as I know, unless there is something that intervenes in between.

I move that the House do now adjourn until Monday.

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