The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!


Oral Questions


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

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

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, prior to the members on this side of the House leaving for the All Party meetings again with respect to TAGS in the House, a document was released called The Evaluation of the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, which was a document that was put together, evaluated by HRD, DFO, ACOA and the Province. The question I would like to ask, for whichever minister would like to answer today, is: How long did the Province have this document? When did they get knowledge of it, that it was ready? And why did they release it only yesterday, just prior to members of the committee going to Ottawa, essentially giving no time for assessment of what is contained in this report?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In reference to this particular report, the hon. Premier issued a press release on it on April 24, as did Minister Tulk on April 28, and certainly government has not had an opportunity to receive it. Personally, I, as a member of the Rural Revitalization Committee, received it today from the executive secretary's office. That is why we have not had an opportunity to go through the report.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, that is interesting. The evaluation of this report, and the people who participated in the evaluation of this report, part of that group came from the provincial government. It is my understanding that officials at HRD have had this report for at least two months. So, if the provincial government did not get it until last week, the question must be asked, then: Why not? You had representatives on the committee. The report was in its final stages. Why didn't you receive it, I ask the minister, when what is contained in here certainly is very, very important to the discussions and the negotiations going on right now with the federal government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal is in Ottawa, I will certainly take that question in hand and have that response for him as soon as the minister returns.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, Mr. Speaker, at least we have a minister today who is prepared to answer the questions forthrightly and frankly, which we have not seen too much of in the last week in the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Let me ask the minister this question: As a result of the All Party Committee going to Ottawa today, meeting this morning, receiving this document only last night - some 80 pages - is the minister and government concerned that our committee, and in particular the Cabinet committee which they are meeting tonight, may have not had the necessary time to evaluate and assess what is contained in this report before they make the decision to throw 2,000 or 3,000 people off the Tags program on May 8? Is he concerned about that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I can tell the Leader of the Opposition that we are very concerned about the whole TAGS issue, and I would suspect that the ministers and the Party that is in Ottawa for tonight's meeting will certainly bring that across to the federal government.

We have a lot of concerns about the way the TAGS issue has been dealt with, and that is why we have the group in Ottawa: to ensure that before decisions are made, the appropriate business will be taken care of and the appropriate means of dealing with the issue will be done on behalf of the Province, by our people, and that the federal government will certainly understand that we have a very serious concern and that we are dealing with this in every which way we can to ensure that the fishermen who are going to be affected by this at the end of the day will be treated fairly.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what this report describes is a complete mismanagement of a program - its stated objective is to benefit the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - the mismanagement equal to that which caused the program to come into being, which was the complete collapse of the Northern cod stock.

It also describes, I say to the minister, a complete lack of leadership on behalf of the federal government, and in some ways may implicate the lack of leadership on behalf of the provincial government with respect to putting forward a solid, concentrated approach with respect to what, at the end of the day, a new program will be like.

Can the minister comment or inform the House, as a minister having officials participate in this report: What has government done or put forward over the past several months, before it became necessary for an All Party Committee to go to the House? What have been government's direct overtures, whether written or otherwise, to the federal government, to stand up for the people of this Province who are about to lose not only their incomes but in fact, Mr. Speaker, a way of life.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that the TAGS issue has been a major issue for this government since the day it was put into effect. We have been communicating with the federal government through letters, meetings, and every means we could, in order to impress upon the federal government that this is a very serious issue in this Province; and we will not stop until we can certainly see an understanding of the federal government and a proper solution to this problem by the federal government, as we do believe this a federal issue. We will do everything we can, as a provincial government, to ensure that the people are treated fairly at the end of the day.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister tells us that the Minister of Rural Development got this document last week. The members of our House did not receive it until last night. Let me ask him this: Can he share with the House today any information with respect to the meeting with the Cabinet committee?

The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal has indicated this week on a number of occasions that there has been some movement with respect to the thinking, the attitude, in Ottawa with respect to TAGS. Can he inform us what that means with respect to movement? Are we looking at coming out of Ottawa tonight, or the committee that we sent up to Ottawa tonight from this House, with something tangible for the people of the Province? Is that what we are expecting from the Cabinet committee on TAGS tonight?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In terms of a response to that particular question, we have not received a report from the committee that is in Ottawa right now, or from the minister, the hon. Beaton Tulk. When they return, I am sure they will have certainly a substantial report for this particular government to deal with in terms of what they were able to get out of Ottawa on this particular trip.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions this afternoon are for the Minister of Health and Community Services.

Mr. Speaker, last night the federal Liberals shamed themselves by bowing to the dictates of a Prime Minister who has no sympathy for victims of tainted blood who have contracted Hepatitis C. It is ironic, Mr. Speaker, that it was only hours before the vote was taken in the House of Commons that our Prime Minister was in Cuba, preaching on human rights and compassion.

The Province has a role to play, Mr. Speaker. The government has a say in exactly who gets compensated, and I ask the minister: Will this Province distance itself from the callousness of the federal Liberals, and vow to fight for compensation for all victims of tainted blood who contracted Hepatitis C and not just those who were infected between the catchment period of 1986 to 1990?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The agreement that was reached and brought before the House of Commons was an agreement that was reached with all of the provincial Ministers of Health, as well as the federal government. It was an agreement that was put in place based on the fact that the governments believed that Hepatitis C may have been identified between the years of 1986 to 1989, because of the surrogate testing that was available at that time in the United States but was not used in this country. It was based on that premise that that window period had been identified.

At this point in time, the arrangement that has been made is the beginning of a negotiated settlement process that will occur in the courts to offset the class action suits that have been put forward on behalf of those affected with Hepatitis C. There is no plan at this point to deviate from that arrangement, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We see in yesterday's Globe, for example, the Quebec minister, Mr. Jean Rochon, expressing concerns about what was to take place in the House of Commons yesterday evening. That same concern was echoed by the Premier of British Columbia, Mr. Clark.

I ask the minister: What about those individuals outside the period in question, outside that 1986 to 1990 period? What does she plan to do? What does her department plan to do? What active involvement does she plan to get involved in, in terms of helping those individuals indirectly in our country, but most directly the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

This government shares concerns, as do all the other governments across this country. As Premier Clark expressed his concern, he also came forward and identified that the agreement that had been reached by his Minister of Health, the hon. Penny Priddy, was the agreement he would stand by. He expressed his concern as we express our concern today and in the past.

We, through our own health system, will provide the ongoing service, the ongoing care, that will be required. As we know from identifying Hepatitis C cases, some of the symptoms may not be identified for up to thirty years, and some of them are identified fairly soon. We will provide the care through our health care system, as will all the other provincial governments throughout Canada, and we will provide that care in a way that we believe will assist them in dealing with their issues. Mr. Speaker, that is the same arrangement that has been made with all the other provinces in the Federation of Canada.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, care is afforded to anybody, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Care is afforded to any citizen in this Province who is entitled to it.

We are talking specifically, Minister, about compensation. Your federal counterpart used words such as the following: He said, `It is a closed book. The matter has been dealt with. It is a finished issue. It is a closed file.'

I ask the minister: Do you share your federal counterpart's view? Is it for you, Minister, a closed issue? Is it a closed file with respect to the question of compensation as it relates to those Newfoundlanders and Labradorians outside the 1986 to 1990 period?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

The arrangement that was made with respect to Hepatitis C was made with all the Health Ministers of the provinces and territories with the federal Minister of Health. That agreement was put in place based on the fact that it was made clear to us that during the period of 1986 to 1990 there was a surrogate test available that may have been able to identify those people infected with Hepatitis C.

Mr. Speaker, we do believe that is an arrangement that will be negotiated through the courts and it will help offset the class action suits. At this point in time, Mr. Speaker, that is the arrangement that we, as the government of this Province, and the provincial representatives as well the federal government, have come to, and we will proceed now to negotiate a settlement with those infected with Hepatitis C between the years 1986 to 1990.

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

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

My questions are for the Minister of Education.

Some schools in rural Newfoundland are declared to be necessarily small, but equally necessarily existent due to circumstances of distances between communities and other factors of isolation.

I ask the minister: What criteria is the department using to declare a school small but necessarily existent? And how many schools have been declared under that category thus far in preparation for the next school year?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are two aspects to the whole issue of small necessarily existent schools as referred to in the new School's Act. This is a new concept, Mr. Speaker, that is in place for the first time in the Province; and I might add, in place at the urging of all the school boards in Newfoundland and Labrador, at the urging of teachers, at the urging of school councils, at the urging of parents and at the urging of students themselves. It is a concept they fully believe in and are delighted that the government has brought forward an initiative whereby, other than just look at numeric formulas and so on, that program considerations be given in these schools that have to exist largely and predominately because of their location and larger and predominately, Mr. Speaker, because of a lack of choice for the students to physically attend another facility. That is the main criteria in terms of whether the school is considered to be necessarily existent.

The other component, Mr. Speaker, because they both are referenced in the whole issue, is that it has to be small. The basic definition that has been used in the Department of Education to guide whether or not a school is a small school is whether the mean grade enrollment and the average grade enrollment in the school is twelve or less. So, Mr. Speaker, if you have a school that is Kindergarten to Grade VII, which is seven grades, and if they have roughly less than 100 students, then obviously it is a small school by virtue of how many students attend. Then whether it is necessarily existent, Mr. Speaker, is primarily determined by whether or not there is a practical, physical alternative to where you could put those students if you did not run that school.

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

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

I refer the minister to School Board District number 2. I want to talk about Ralph Harnum Memorial School in Hawke's Bay. It meets the criteria of small and necessarily existent. However, if the school operates on a K to 6 program next year the projected enrollment will be seventy students. If Grade VIIs are included there it goes up to eighty-seven students. Yet the department will not declare this school small and necessarily existent.

I want to ask the minister: Why the discrepancy here? Why is he not prepared now, why are his officials not prepared, to tell the parent council at Ralph Harnum Memorial that that school will be meeting the criteria and it will meet it as of September and the extra staff will be allocated to that school now?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I have to confess to not knowing the details. I know where the school is located. But I can tell you this, Mr. Speaker, that the designation of the schools - because part of the first question that I unfortunately neglected to answer was: How many have been designated? To my knowledge there have been eighty-two in the Province designated. Twenty of them, Mr. Speaker, are in district 2, and district 2, for information of members who may not be familiar with the geography of the Province, covers the tip of the Northern Peninsula and the Southern Straits area of Labrador. It is one of the most isolated areas of the Province in terms of the combination of schools that are served by that particular district. There is the difficulty with the Straits.

It has, Mr. Speaker, the greatest number of small isolated settlements, whereby the next settlement can only be gotten to by boat or plane, than any other district. As a result, Mr. Speaker, twenty of the eighty-two small necessarily existent schools in the Province have been designated in that particular school board. They only run thirty-four or thirty-five schools all together. Over half of them are small necessarily existent schools.

Why any one school, like Ralph Harnum Memorial, would or would not have been designated as small necessarily existent, Mr. Speaker, there was a discussion that has a full -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to clue up his answer.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

There was a full discussion between officials of the Department of Education and officials of the school board back in the winter and the earlier part of the spring to go through a discussion as to which of these were small necessarily existent. My understanding, Mr. Speaker, is this, that the school board and the Department of Education officials agreed that the schools that were designated are the appropriate ones.

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. minister to sit down.

On a point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I would submit that the minister is abusing Question Period.

I refer the Speaker to Beauchesne, page 123. "Answers to questions should be as brief as possible, deal with the matter raised and should not provoke debate."

For the past three days, Mr. Speaker, intentionally, that minister has continued to abuse the privileges under this House during Question Period, and I ask the Speaker to refer that minister and ask him to answer the questions put by the Opposition.

MR. DECKER: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DECKER: The hon. member is raising a point, but he must remember, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If we are going to have short answers, Mr. Speaker, we are going to have to have short questions. I've seen that member and members on the opposite side go on with a preamble which uses up more time than we can afford in this House. We only have half an hour for question period. It is a time when Opposition members and back benchers have an opportunity to ask for information on behalf of the people of the Province.

I agree with the hon. member. If he wants short answers, we agree with that, but his questions have to be likewise. He cannot use up the time of this House going on with long preambles, Mr. Speaker.


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

MR. DECKER: If you are going to address the problem of answers, I would also suggest, Mr. Speaker, that we also address the problem of questions.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would refer hon. members to Beauchesne, '409 and '410. It states quite clearly in '409(2), "The question must be brief. A preamble need not exceed one carefully drawn sentence. A long preamble on a long question takes an unfair share of time and provokes the same sort of reply."

I would only refer to this simply because the hon. member who raised the point of order referred to the last several days, as opposed to referring to today only. In the last couple of days, particularly yesterday, I would suggest that the answers were unnecessarily long simply because the questions were unnecessarily broad.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A brief question will solicit a brief answer. A broad question dealing with what are you planning to do, what is your policy, requires a broader answer. Today the hon. Minister of Education took unnecessary time in answering the question, and I ask him the next time he is asked to get to the question more briefly.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

The minister was asked a very direct question: Why will he not let the formula for small necessarily existent schools apply to Ralph Harnum Memorial in Hawke's Bay and River of Ponds? He said he didn't know the answer.

I want to ask him now: Since his department has said, no, they will not let that criteria apply, will he examine it and will he report back to the House, and particularly to the parents who are advocating that they be included?

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. H. HODDER: Never let it be said that the Minister of Education was a slow learner. Mr. Speaker, part of the criteria for Ralph Harnum Memorial for next year includes the allocation of teachers' units. For example, in special education .52 of a teacher, in guidance .07, in a library .07.

I want to ask the minister if he has any suggestions for the administration of Ralph Harnum Memorial as to what they might do with .07 of a librarian or .07 of a guidance counsellor?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the minister.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand that the hon. member, having been a former administrator in the school system for thirty years before he drew his pension and came to this House, and now gets his pension and his pay, he would fully and completely understand exactly how allocations are handled between school boards and individual schools.

There is never ever, Mr. Speaker, and he knows it, and he would not suggest that there should be, a circumstance where the Minister of Education, sitting in an office in St. John's or elsewhere, if the capital centre were to move to, say, Mount Pearl, which I'm sure he would support, that in fact he would never suggest that the Minister of Education should be making individual determinations of what portion of which teaching units should go to which school. That has always been a function that has been jealously guarded and exercised by the school boards.

Mr. Speaker, if the parents in a particular school and community, and if the school-based administration, would like to know what they are going to do, because the school board has decided to allocate them a teacher for part of the time - because he tries to make fun of the partial allocations, Mr. Speaker. He fully understands that when there is point five or point seven of a teacher allocated, it does not mean that an arm and a leg and a head and couple of ears go to a building. It means that a person goes there for 70 per cent of their teaching assignment, and it makes full sense in the system, Mr. Speaker. I am a little surprised to see a career long educator trying to make fun of such a serious issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

Last week, an official of your department said that while companies are subject to a background check, the principals are not. This week, Minister, you stated that a background check is conducted on the principals of companies that apply for government grants or EDGE status.

Can the minister inform the House as to how extensive these background checks are and what they involves? After all it is the public's money that this House is investing?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the background checks that are done on any company looking to do business in this Province are done primarily through Dun & Bradstreet which is a profile of any businesses registered with Dun & Bradstreet. When you go in and do a Dun & Bradstreet you get access to financial information and you get access to whether or not there are any writs against the company.

The point being, Mr. Speaker, if nothing turns up on that Dun & Bradstreet with respect to the principals of the company, then unless you are naturally suspicious you don't go looking for something that is not there.

So, clearly having done -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: If you will let me answer the question you might find out the answer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: There you go! If they would only listen, they would learn something. Keep you ears open now.

MS FOOTE: The point being, unless you are naturally suspicious or you have any reason to pursue investigating the principals of the company, you would assume that if they are involved in some other business it would turn up on the Dun & Bradstreet. It did not, and we had no reason to be suspicious of the principals involved in this company.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: When you are investing large sums of public money, suspicion should be part of the equation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: In light of the investigation into AbbaCom Logic, will the minister tell the House whether or not her department is conducting annual performance audits of EDGE companies and others for which government has invested taxpayers' money, to ensure that the investment made on behalf of the people in secure? Further: Can the minister tell us, if these performance audits are conducted how extensive are they and what details they look for?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Now listen, Jack, and you will learn something. Never mind turning around.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, there is clearly a misunderstanding here in terms of what is required when you are investigating a company in terms of giving them EDGE status. There is no money associated with giving EDGE status to a company. Companies applying for EDGE status are not applying to the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology for money. They are looking for EDGE status because with EDGE status comes tax holidays, access to Crown land and the use of a facilitator.

Now, they have to perform. They have to hire ten employees. If they hire ten employees, these are people who receive an income and therefore the company is entitled to a tax break. There is no upfront money. This money has to file an annual audit which clearly shows that: Yes, they have employed this number of people and, yes, they are entitled to the tax rebate based on having met the requirements under the EDGE legislation.

So, as far as EDGE status goes for a company, there is no outlay of money. They are not coming to us, as a department, looking for any financial support. They may go to D2R2, they may go to ACOA, they may go to HRD, and in some cases when we are looking at whether or not a company should be given EDGE support, we will sometimes take into account maybe giving them conditional approval based on access to finances; but we do not, as a department of government, upfront any money to an EDGE company.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I beg to differ. I believe government gave $26,000 to this particular company, through your department, through the EDGE program.

Mr. Speaker, since the minister could not answer that question, I ask: Will she agree to start conducting annual performance audits of all existing EDGE companies and others into which government have invested taxpayers' money? If we are giving tax breaks, it is taxpayers' money that is being invested.

If these performances audits were conducted on an annual basis, Mr. Speaker, I submit that perhaps the mistakes that were overlooked, that led to this investigation, may have been picked up by your department as opposed to you having to be informed by other people.

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

MS FOOTE: I did not hear a question, Mr. Speaker, but I really want to take advantage of the fact that he made reference -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: I answered that earlier. You do get annual audited financial statements from the EDGE companies.

I need to deal with his reference to the $26,000, Mr. Speaker, the point being that that money was not upfront. Part of the benefit of the EDGE status initially was $2,000 per job. They only got that money after they had, in fact, hired the number of employees they were required to hire. That was when they accessed the $26,000. It was not an upfront $26,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: Of course it is, but that is not the issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS FOOTE: The issue is that they did not get $26,000 upfront, as you suggested they did. That never happened. There is no upfront money that comes with EDGE status.

In terms of audited financial statements, we get them on an annual basis. If we do not get them, the money does not flow, whether it is for taxes or anything else.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Before moving to the next routine proceeding, I would like to welcome to the public gallery, on behalf on all hon. members, Mr. Gar Randell, Chairperson, and Mr. Andy Butt, Director of the Stephenville - Port aux Basques School Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Presenting Reports by
Standing and Special Committees


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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did wake up and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to wake up, because the alternative is much worse. Having said that, pursuant to statutory requirement, I am pleased to present the report of public tender exemptions for the month of March, 1998.


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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to see that both the Environment and Health Ministers are here because I have another petition to present on the soot ash problem at the Grace Hospital. Mr. Speaker, the residents of that area are experiencing considerable trouble with soot ash damage to their vehicles, homes, property, and so on. The prayer of the petition reads as follows:

We, the residents of St. John's, wish to petition the hon. House of Assembly, giving particular attention to the Department of Health and the Department of Environment regarding emissions from the Grace Hospital stack. We request that the House of Assembly look into burning cleaner fuel or upgrading emission standards at the stack. There is considerable damage being done to cars, personal property, clothes on clotheslines, as well as possible health risks, due to emissions from the stack.

Mr. Speaker, we have still a number of these petitions to present. We are receiving petitions such as this on a regular basis. I have received a number of phone calls from residents who are very concerned. I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, if part of the problem is due to the fact that the burners and the stack are old, and maybe in need of cleaning, but part of the problem is definitely due to the fact that the hospital is burning Bunker C fuel, the dirtiest of all fuels that could possibly be burned there, emitting the dirtiest of emissions.

It is creating extensive property damage, and it is creating a number of problems for area residents. They are not even able to claim paint damage and vehicle damage on their insurance any longer because the insurance companies are saying it is a regular occurrence in that area, that they have already paid out too much money, and that it is not an insurable item any longer because of the fact it happens on such a regular basis. They are experiencing damage to their homes, to their gardens and so on, as well as clothes on clotheslines.

There is a potential for health risks in the future, Mr. Speaker. After children come in from an evening of play or what have you, the parents are wiping soot from the children's faces. This only leads to believe that these children are breathing this soot.

I am told that when people go out and start their cars in the morning, not only are the cars covered in soot, but when they start the vehicle and the blower starts it blows soot dust within the vehicle.

Nobody in this House would want to live with that type of situation. I am sure nobody in the Province would. It is not a very healthy situation. So, Mr. Speaker, I submit that this is a very serious problem and it requires the attention of government, in particular the Minister of Environment and Labour and the Minister of Health. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, after very serious consideration to this problem - and I am sure both ministers are looking at it very seriously and looking to finding a solution for this - hopefully, after serious consideration by the ministers and their officials, we can resolve this problem and relax some of the tensions and some of the fears that residents in the area have.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today in support of the petition of my colleague. I have listened to him now for several days present petitions in this House concerning the soot ash that is coming from the Grace Hospital, and I believe, Mr. Speaker, that it probably should be stopped and it should be stopped now.

In my own area there has been a problem which seems to be temporarily cured, or at least partially cured, from the emissions from the Holyrood generating station. This, Mr. Speaker, can cause untold damage to people, not only to their health but to their property as well, and I think that in my colleague's case here the problem is severe and the problem should stop. We can see damages to housing. We can see damages to motor vehicles that are parked. This soot ash is falling on homes, trees, plants.

If there is somebody who feels that it does not have an effect, then I will pick you up some morning and take you on a tour in my district and show you where soot ash does have an effect. It has a major effect, and if we allow this to continue in my colleague's district of St. John's South, it will have a disastrous effect in his district. We will see damage to homes, cars, and we will certainly see damage to trees, plants and lawns. We will see that, and it will cause people to spend money that really they should not have to spend. After all, if we create the problem, if this government or an agency of government is creating the problem, then it falls on government to see that it stops. It falls on government to see that it stops. It falls on government to see that they are no longer permitted, or should be permitted, to carry on causing the damage that they are going to cause. We should stop it; we should stop it now.

We should not allow government agencies - if it is the responsibility of the St. John's Health Care Corporation then let's tell them that, and let's tell them that they have to find a way to cure it. And we don't mean next week, because it should never have started in the beginning. They should have it cured, and if they cannot cure it then they should not be allowed to do it. That is the short and sweet of this, Mr. Speaker. If they are doing it then it falls upon government as the official agent for the St. John's Health Care Corporation. After all, they are under government, they do spend taxpayers' dollars and, of course, it could not operate without them. So to me it falls under government to say to the Health Care Corporation: We have a problem here. Let's look at correcting this situation. Let's get this situation corrected as soon as humanly possible.

I would urge the government and the Minister of Environment and Labour to talk to not only his own officials, or have his own officials - and maybe he has already done this - talk to the Health Care Corporation to see that this problem is cured, and certainly cured in a hurry, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to respond to the petition from the Member for St. John's South who has done a lot of work on this issue with the people in his district. I have talked to him a number of times and will probably do so later on this afternoon.

We are presently looking at a possibility of doing something with the Grace Hospital stack with the emissions. I am talking to my colleague, the Minister of Health. As the member knows, there is probably about a two-year lifespan for the hospital that is left, so possibly there might be some way that we could buy a piece of equipment that could reduce the level of emissions by 60 per cent or 70 per cent, but the amount of money that the department might be willing to spend on that would depend on being able to use that piece of equipment in another hospital or some other facility. So we are looking at that.

There might also a possibility that we might be able to form a liaison committee between the hospital corporation, the different departments and a local representative from the member's district. That is one of the possibilities that we are aspiring and I will keep the member informed on that.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition on behalf of a number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with respect to the issue of public service pensions. I would like to read it in part, Mr. Speaker. It is the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland;

WHEREAS many public service pensioners who spent a lifetime contributing to their society are now slipping deeper and deeper into poverty;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure public service pensioners receive a raise in their pensions whenever public servants receive a raise in pay and, secondly, to reverse the policy of clawing back Canada Pension Plan benefits from public service pensioners.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue of grave concern to thousands of Newfoundlanders who have dedicated their life and their careers to the public service of this Province. They have worked diligently on behalf of a variety of governments, and this particular government has turned their back on them.

They have simply requested in the past, through petitions, through a private member's resolution, through letters in the newspaper, through direct correspondence to all Members of the House of Assembly, that this government take a serious look at their particular plight. Mr. Speaker, up until now the government has not listened to thousands of public service pensioners in this Province. In fact, the government has done the opposite; it has turned their backs on these particular people by saying that government will not entertain or will not give any consideration to the possibility of increasing pension benefits.

It is a simple request, Mr. Speaker. All this petition asks is that the government recognize that there are some thousands of pensioners in this Province who live on an average income of some $10,000 to $11,000 per year. As we all know, that is little, and that is little compensation for people who have dedicated their lives to the public service of this Province.

Again, on behalf of public service pensioners in this Province, I am proud to present this petition, and I ask that government consider in a very serious way their particular situation, and hopefully in the very near future respond positively to the concerns which have been addressed on a regular basis over the past number of weeks.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have presented and seconded petitions on this particular issue myself, and I have spoken to it in debate. It is an issue that is of grave concern to the public service pensioners. Many of these pensioners are living well below the poverty line. Many of these pensioners are single people, widows or widowers, and have properties to keep up. Many of these pensioners are the people who are staying with this Province when this Province is deserting them. It is our young educated people who are moving away, but the public service pensioners, and all pensioners indeed, are the people who are staying here and keeping our economy afloat, because the government are doing very little to do that.

It is these public pensioners who are asking for a raise when the public service employees get a raise. They have gotten raises such as this in the past. They have not received a raise since 1989; yet, the cost of living in this Province has increased considerably and these people, through no fault of their own, are forced to have to make do with the same money they have been receiving now since 1989. It is unfortunate that this Province would treat the very people who have worked for the Province for so many years in this fashion. I am happy, as well, to support these people and to support this petition.

Thank you.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I rise again today with more names of people who are protesting Sunday shopping. I have stood in this House many times before on this issue, and I would not be standing as often if I was not getting as many calls and as many petitions continuing to come in.

Yesterday when I stood there were a few people over there who stared to ridicule. I have made copies of these petitions today, and if I get any ridicule I will phone the people on this petition who are listed here from Gillams, Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Pasadena, McDonald Brook Drive, Brookfield Avenue, Corner Brook, and I will inform them of with what scorn their member thinks of them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: I certainly will. I have the phone numbers here and I will -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: Excuse me, Mr. Speaker. If that member would like to speak to me, I would ask him to go to his seat.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS S. OSBORNE: The Member for Humber East.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The members on the other side of the House think this is a big joke. The people who have taken the time to sign this petition from - and the Member for Topsail, who is not present here today, treated it with the same scorn. There are people from Manuels, Paradise, Chamberlains; they are all constituents of these members. I have taken these phone numbers and I am personally going to call these people who have signed the petition, and tell them of the scorn with which their member treats their requests.

I present these petitions again. I do not need to go on and on about Sunday shopping. We know how people over there feel about the working mothers, the single mothers who go out on Sundays and work for minimum wage. I do not need to go on and on with that, but I do have these petitions, and I do have the phone numbers of the people who signed them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today in support of my colleague and support my colleague's petition today. I just want to relate, because it seems to be an amusing thing for some members on the other side, I guess because they are not affected by it: I had, a couple of weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, a chance to go into a major store. I started talking to a lady who was working, and I asked her what she thought about having to now work on Sundays.

She relayed a story to me which I talked about time and time again in this House last year, about her and her family life, and how much her family life had changed for not only her and her husband but for their children as well, because she works in retail. Every so many Sundays she has to work and her husband has to work. All of a sudden their way of life as it related to their cabin and that had changed. The lady said to me: Bob, we might as well sell our place because I do not know how much more enjoyment we can really get out of it. The children are too small to go there on their own, so if my husband or I cannot go then there is really no enjoyment for them.

If that is amusing to some people, it is not amusing to me. I think that we have certainly changed the way of life. We have created no new employment. It will be interesting to see - and I would go so far as to suggest that we will create no new tax money, because what we did in six days we are now doing in seven. We are spacing it out.

People will tell you stories of what they used to do on a Monday night or a Tuesday night that is now probably happening part-time Sunday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Premier?

MR. FRENCH: I do not know. I would like to know where he is. For sure, Sunday shopping would be the last thing on the Premier's mind. For sure the TAGS people are probably the last thing on their minds; I do not know. I do not know much about Toronto. I am not elected to represent a district in Toronto.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: No, no, I am not going to any $1,000-a-plate dinners tonight, I can assure you. I certainly hope some of our colleagues who are in Ottawa are not going to any dinners either.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: This Sunday shopping business should change now so that residents of this Province can go back to the enjoyment of life. This is something, I say to the Member for Bellevue, that we can do something about. He seems to think there are things we cannot do something about, but this is something we can do something about. On that note, Mr. Speaker, I will sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There being no further petitions, and it being Wednesday, Private Members' Day, I will call Motion 14.


Private Members' Day


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

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

Just for the record, I would like to read the motion again:

WHEREAS The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy is due to expire in August and many compensation recipients have been or are about to be dropped from the program in the meantime;

AND WHEREAS in the absence of an adequate successor program, the loss of TAGS will have significant negative consequences for the entire Province, especially the tens of thousands directly displaced from the program;

AND WHEREAS the Federal Government has the responsibility, the jurisdiction and the opportunity to provide adequate amounts and kinds of assistance to those that its mismanagement of the east coast fishery has displaced from the fishing industry, especially here in Newfoundland and Labrador;

AND WHEREAS it is critical that the Federal Government waste no more time before announcing a successor program to TAGS so individuals, families, communities and our Province can make informed decisions for the future;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House urge the Government of Canada to delay no longer before announcing an adequate successor program to TAGS that meets the different needs of all those who have a long-term attachment to the groundfishing industry.

Mr. Speaker, I believe this is the fourth resolution that I have debated in this House with respect to TAGS. Three of them have come from the Opposition and one recently, about four weeks ago, from the Member for Twillingate & Fogo, who asked me yesterday: Why are you introducing this into the House again today? I introduced a similar petition four or five weeks ago.

My response to him is one that I would like to put forward publicly: again today the All Party Committee of the House that was agreed upon when we debated that petition, that left to go to Ottawa last week in a rush, that got to Ottawa, that found out that for the meetings they were going to, there was not adequate time - ten minutes with a national NDP Caucus, fifteen minutes with Reform. It showed up at the federal Liberal Caucus, and fourteen out of 155 took the time to show up.

One Liberal MP's comments sort of summed up the entire experience, from what I understand. I don't know the riding that he represents but I do know his name - he is from Ontario - Dennis Mills. He said to the committee: We have at least 100,000 jobs in Ontario. Why don't you send everybody up?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That was the attitude.

Mr. Speaker, what has been lacking as well, and it is becoming abundantly clear, that this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Who was that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Blenkarn.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Blenkarn is not there any more is he?



AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I believe it.

But, Mr. Speaker, what has become more obvious than anything over the past few weeks, what has become extremely obvious, especially in light of this report today, the Evaluation of the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy, an internal evaluation, is that this program known as TAGS has been mismanaged.

We all know that the Premier, in a former life, was the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, one of the key players and authors of the program. We understand that he had the influence at the table to pull off such a program when the deficit for the nation was high. There is no deficit, so to speak, today in terms of on current account. We also know today, compared to 1993, that by the end of this fiscal year there will be in excess of a $20 billion surplus in the EI fund. We also know something else: It may not be widely broadcast but, when TAGS was announced, the amount of money coming into the Province that TAGS would bring in, some $260 million to $270 million - that is what it amounted to - each year for five years -

MR. J. BYRNE: A very interesting point.

MR. E. BYRNE: A very interesting point, that is what it amounted to.

At the same time it was announced, the very same year, the changes to the EI program which have allowed the surplus to grow, confirmed, by the way - if members take the time to read this report, it is confirmed in this - which has allowed the EI account to grow to the extent that it has today, to $20 billion, also took out of the Province some $260 million to $270 million per year. Now, one would say that they gave on one hand and robbed it from the other. There was no net gain to the Province with respect to financial accruement to the people of the Province and to the economy with the infusion of TAGS money.

But, Mr. Speaker, today, looking at this report, what has become so obvious is that not only was our fishery mismanaged but this program - its objectives were clear: to provide some form of income support; to look towards giving people skills outside the fishery to take advantage of other opportunities; to provide training opportunities to get those skills; providing for mobility allowances that would allow people who wanted to go - and there were many - who had acquired new skills to go from point (a) to point (b) without incurring significant debt, without incurring significant expenditures, Mr. Speaker, but allowing them to maintain some sense of dignity and independence that they could do so. But this report clearly shows fundamentally the flaws in the TAGS program. It is the Evaluation of The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy. All over it, in the language in this report, in the writing in it, the words used, the vocabulary chosen, recommends, or looks very much like a doomsday document. It is not a report that is very flattering to the federal government.

Contained herein it talks about the under-funding of the program, that the federal government grossly underestimated the amount of recipients who would be on the program. As a result of that underestimation, certain things happened. The types of licence buy-outs we had hoped would occur, where there are people who would want to retire their licenses - members in this House know many of them personally, I know many of them personally - but they are not going to retire licenses for $40,000 or $50,000 when you have $70,000 worth of cod traps sitting in the store, and a $60,000, $30,000 or $25,000 loan with the Fisheries Loan Board. Licence retirement is not going to do very much for that person, and many of them are in the same boat.

If we only think back, what was happening? The federal government went into communities and said to fishermen and fisherwomen: If you want the buy-out licence, make us an offer. As they were making an offer, guess what happened? People within the communities started to go head-to-head on who would get the lowest offers, who could get the highest offers. It did not provide any real sort of buy-out options for people in those communities. It set neighbour against neighbour in many instances.

With respect to the analysis, I would like to take just a few moments to go through some of the thoughts that are in this program. I don't think there is anything startling here. What is startling is that the federal government, in its own internal evaluation, has shown clearly how incompetent it has been in dealing with this problem. It also shows that there has been a lack of leadership, no will at the table to deal with it. There have been too many changes. People were promised to be on the program up until 1999. As a result of the shortage of funds, and underestimating the number of people who took advantage of it, that was clawed back by a year and saved some $350 million.

Here is what has happened; because people of the Province are under the understanding that our net out-migration is completely and directly related, almost 100 per cent of it, to the collapse of the groundfish industry. That is a fallacy; it is not true. In this report it clearly outlines that in 1996, I believe, or over the period of the evaluation of the report, of the 16,000 people who left only 2,000 were directly related to the fishery. The other 14,000 were beyond it. They were young people with new skills who were mobile, who could pick up and go, who didn't own a home in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, who were not married, but had the ability to pick up and move.

Section 1.1 says: The TAGS/HRDC client population presents enormous and unique adjustment challenges....relatively low levels of formal education, 72 per cent with less than high school completed; relatively older age profile - half of the people on the program today are forty years old and over; a limited range of transferrable skills outlined; living in areas of high and entrenched structural unemployment; living in small, rural and often remote communities; family and household commitments that constrain mobility; strong social, economic and cultural ties to communities and their way of life.

If you look at the heading, it says that people who are on TAGS, whose lives have been ruined as a result of the disaster and the collapse of the fishery, this study says that as a result of that mismanagement, the client population - listen to the language - presents enormous and unique adjustment challenges.

So wanting to stay, live, and work in our own communities is an adjustment challenge, according to this document. It goes on to say: For the majority of TAGS clients, permanent adjustment to economic self-sufficiency outside the groundfish industry could not be accomplished within the resources and the life span of the TAGS program. Many clients who do not plan to leave their homes, communities and fisheries assets, are encouraging their children to leave.

This report groups people into three categories. It talks about clusters. That is the language used. I quote.

"Cluster 1: about 10,500 fishers and plant workers (38 per cent of all unadjusted clients) plan on remaining in the fishery but have not yet been able to replace groundfish as a source of income.

"Cluster 2: about 4,800 clients (17 per cent of all unadjusted clients), mainly plant workers, have actively pursued adjustment by taking advantage of TAGS adjustment programs but have not been able to find sufficient work to replace work on groundfish. They still hope to work outside the fishery by the year 2000.

"Cluster 3: about 3,600 TAGS clients (13 per cent of all unadjusted clients) face serious barriers to adjustment due to age and education, etc., and express little sense of direction or hope and have very limited prospects:

"none of this group took advantages of TAGS training, and they are uncertain about what they will be doing in the future."

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the areas where the federal government have failed miserably in trying to understand the character and nature of their (inaudible).

On page six of the executive summary, section 1.9, I say to the minister, last sentence in section 1.9, it says that the majority of TAGS clients have substantial investments in household property and in the fishery, and fear losing the value of these assets.

Mr. Speaker, how do take somebody who has spent twenty-five or thirty years in the fishery, whether it is in a boat, and open-face thirty-five foot boat, or in a plant, and tell them that their industry is ruined and that as a result of that their community will die because the fishery will never reopen; we have no further obligation for you, but there is a job in Toronto, and everything that you have taken or what has taken you a lifetime to build, to get around you, your home, your other assets, that your only option as a result of the collapse - you are not going to sell it, you are not going to get the value back for it.

In Trepassey, Terra Nova, go down to Port Blandford and see the amounts of homes that are boarded up; in Trepassey, homes, three bedroom bungalows that would normally cost $70,00 to $80.000 to build and could go for $100,000 are being sold for $7,000, $8,000, $9,000, and $10,000. That it the travesty of what is taking place. Without taking that into account in any post-TAGS program, then the program will not be a success.

What we need to do, in my estimation, is to move forward with a post-TAGS program that does two things: That looks at and ensures that at the end of it, people will have a sense of dignity and provides them with a sense, in a real and meaningful way, of independence. This program has not done it, it has failed to do it. The federal government, yet again, most take sole responsibility for it.

Mr. Speaker, I could on at length. I have taken up about fifteen minutes of my time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am just going to conclude for a moment, because I do have an opportunity to speak again and close debate on the subject.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: Today's resolution is yet again about: That this House of Assembly express it's will unanimously. Again, we have an All Party Committee that is meeting with the Cabinet Committee tonight and we have an opportunity again to send to them, from this House, each and every member who is here, a vote in unison, strongly, one voice, to say that the House of Assembly again has endorsed this position, that we want the All Party Committee to know that if is going to help, that if this House can help in any way, shape or form to strengthen their hand before they meet with the Cabinet Committee on TAGS tonight, then let us proceed and do it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will wait to hear some of the comments made by other hon. members in the following debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, let me say right at the beginning that members on this side of the House are supporting this motion which is put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. I would commend him for bringing this motion forward. Maybe there would be some who would see this as being a bit redundant in that we have already discussed the issue and voted unanimously, but I do not think it is redundant. I do not think we can say enough times, over and over, just how important this issue is. I think that we have to keep saying that we support this motion and motions similar to this one. Anything we can do to strength the hand of our colleagues who are in Ottawa today on our behalf, I think it is incumbent upon us to do that.

Mr. Speaker, in 1949, when Newfoundland became a Province of Canada, notwithstanding the fact that we had been an independent nation for years, we went into Confederation on practically the same terms as every other colony who formed the original Dominion of Canada. There were a few little exemptions. We were allowed to keep coloured margarine, we were allowed to keep our denomination education system, but basically we were exactly the same as all the other provinces.

One of the big mistakes we made, I believe, was in giving up our jurisdiction over the ocean adjacent to our shores. It was inconceivable in the mind-set of Canada in 1949 that they would not take jurisdiction over the offshore, but I believe we could have put up a much stronger argument, bearing in mind that we were an nation and bearing in mind that we did indeed change the whole East Coast of Canada.

We brought in, at that time, a 3-mile limit which eventually became an 11-mile limit, and had we continued as an independent nation we too, like Iceland, would have extended our boundaries to take in the 200-mile limit.

That, I believe, was probably one of the worst giveaways in the history of this Province, which was formerly a country; worse than the Churchill Falls deal, and we know that was a bad deal, Mr. Speaker, worst than the Wabana where we took our ore and carried it off somewhere else to be smelted. This probably was one of the biggest mistakes that we, as a people, made, when we gave jurisdiction for our biggest industry - the largest industry for Newfoundland and Labrador at the time of Confederation was the fishery. The numbers of people at Confederation - the colony and the country was taking in more money from our forest industry than we were the fishery, but in share numbers there were more people involved in the fishery than in any other industry in this Province. It was our largest industry. We gave jurisdiction of the ocean and our industry to the federal government, to Ottawa.

Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, what would happen if you lived in the Prairies, when the Provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba were to say to the federal government: You, federal government, are responsible for our primary industry. You have to take care of all the farms and the farmers in our Province.

Supposing management of the B.C. forest industry were given to the federal government, to manage the forest of British Colombia, or the automobile industry in Ontario, or the oil industry in Alberta. It would be absolutely unthinkable that any of these provinces would give jurisdiction of their main industries to a government which is 2,000 miles away from where the people live. That is what Newfoundland did, Mr. Speaker, and I believe it was a mistake we made at the time of Confederation.

Once jurisdiction was given, though, surely inherent in that gift of jurisdiction over the offshore and our industry, was an obligation on the part of the national government to manage that fishery in a way which was prudent, in a way which was wise, Mr. Speaker.

Now, we gave a resource that had been in existence for about 450 years. Europeans, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were using that resource for about 450 years and, if we believe the history which suggests that even before Cabot Europeans were coming across and fishing on the Grand Banks, then it is quite conceivable that at the time of Confederation we brought into Canada a resource that had been utilized and fished for close to 500 years. Mr. Speaker, in 1949 the fishery was just as vibrant as it was in 1497 because it had not been overfished, it was used properly.

What we have seen in the past fifty years, when the national government has had responsibility to manage that stock, we have seen fifty years of mismanagement, Mr. Speaker, mismanagement and overfishing. Whether it was deliberate on the part of the national government or whether it was ignorance, I suppose we will never know. I would suggest maybe it was ignorance because there seems to be a mind-set in this country which does not understand the way of life in Newfoundland in general, let alone in our rural areas in particular. There is a clear misunderstanding of the way of life in this Province. What we saw in the past fifty years was one giveaway after another. Our fishery, Mr. Speaker, was given away.

One of the first things we discovered when this became a national resource was the fact that it had to be wide open to other provinces to come in and fish, Mr. Speaker. We saw the fishing industry of other Atlantic provinces just coming in and taking over the Grand Banks. The concept of adjacency only came into vogue in the past ten or dozen years, and even with the concept of adjacency there are so many people within the country of Canada who have established rights in the past fifty years that they have to remain and to continue and to take their share.

In the past fifty years the national province did not address the problem with foreign overfishing. When little Iceland extended their boundaries and took in the 200-mile limit, little Iceland took on Great Britain, drove them outside and drove them off their limits. Yet Canada, Mr. Speaker, is not willing and has not been willing, until a few years ago when one of our own members had the ability to talk Canada into arresting some foreign fishing vessels - for fifty years foreign overfishing was allowed on the Grand Banks, Mr. Speaker.

There have been suggestions that the right to fish on the Grand Banks was traded off with foreign counties so that -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: It has been suggested, Mr. Speaker, that foreign nations were given the right to fish if they would buy so much wheat or if they had trade deals going. I can't verify that but I am sure former members of the federal government will be able to verify it. I am not blaming this on any Liberal administration, I am not blaming this on a Tory administration, I am blaming this, Mr. Speaker, on a mind-set which is in Ottawa.

Can you imagine the racket that you would see on the part of the farmers in Manitoba or Saskatchewan if jurisdiction of their farms had been given to the national government, if they had been told to move over now and make room, we are going to bring in other farmers from across the country who are going to farm next to you and take jurisdiction of your farmland? Imagine the racket that you would have had in the prairie provinces, or if it were said, we are going to give some European country a right to come and do some farming on condition that they buy the output of some ore that we ship from Newfoundland or whatever the case might be?

Can you imagine what would happen in British Columbia if the companies involved in the forest industry were told to stand back now and make room, we are going to bring in some other companies who are going to help you cut this timber and they are going to export this lumber, Mr. Speaker? Can you imagine what kind of racket you would have had in British Columbia if that were to happen.

Well, that is exactly what happened in Newfoundland. The offshore fishing industry which was ours, we were adjacent to it, we had lived from it... The only reason that we lived in Newfoundland and Labrador, right up until the late 1930s and 1940s, was the fact that our forefathers were here to harvest the fish off our shores. That is why we are here. Then, can you imagine, for a government which was entrusted with that resource to allow others to come in and rape our resources, Mr. Speaker?

Can you imagine the uproar you would have in British Columbia today if the federal government were responsible for managing the forestry in that Province and there was an infestation - the budworm or the looper or some insect was infesting the trees in British Columbia - and the government which was responsible for the management of that forest would refuse to spray, would refuse to engage in silviculture, would refuse to attempt to manage that forest.

Let's look at the infestation that is on the Grand Banks, let's look at the infestation that is off our shores in Newfoundland and Labrador today. Our ocean is infested with seals. There are millions of them out there; they are a blight. They are killing the fishery. They are ensuring that there is never going to be an opportunity again for the fishery to come back. As fast as the groundfish have spawned, the seals are eating them, destroying them. The stock of seals is growing in leaps and bounds. Yet the national government, which has been given the responsibility to manage that resource, is refusing to deal with the issue.

They set a quota which is practically insignificant when you compare it to the number of seals that are out there. Then they are astounded, shocked and surprised when a group of people up in my own district, up in St. Anthony - a group of people who have traditionally pursued a living in the seal fishery - when the quota has been used up before the landsmen get an opportunity to go out and take part in this hunt, they refuse to do it. The people in Ottawa are surprised. The people can look out through the door and see the ice floes which are maggoty with a blight, maggoty with an infestation which is determined to make sure that the fishery will never come back.

That is a policy which is being carried out by the very government which is entrusted with the responsibility of managing our fishery. They would not get away with it, I tell you, if they were responsible for the forests of British Columbia and refused to spray when there was an infestation. They would not get away with it with the farmers of the Prairie Provinces when they have to spray for the infestation which takes place in their various crops. We have in this country today, a federal government which is responsible for the management of our fishery, which has failed over the past fifty years. What they have done is wipe out a fishery; they have wiped out a way of life.

In the recent past, the federal government in 1992 under a Tory Administration, and the federal government a few years ago under a Liberal Administration, have both acknowledged that they are responsible, and they have attempted to address the problem. They have come forward with NCARP and they have come forward with TAGS. There are those who would say that their attempts to address the issue were misguided, Mr. Speaker, and in some cases they were misguided. There is no doubt about that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. DECKER: I will just clue up.

In some cases they were misguided, Mr. Speaker. The one place where I believe I had great hopes was when NCARP was introduced. At that time I was Minister of Education. We were being told that we had 40 per cent of our people who were functionally illiterate. I saw NCARP as an excellent opportunity to address the problem of illiteracy in our Province, Mr. Speaker. But of all the millions of dollars that were wasted, we did not make a single attempt, we did not address that issue.

It was not all a total waste. I know many people who took advantage of NCARP and TAGS and indeed go to further training and indeed get jobs which will be with them until they retire. I know people who have gone off and expanded on their ability to navigate in local waters, coastal waters, and foreign waters, people who have increased their abilities and increased their skills. So, it has not been a total waste, Mr. Speaker.

The reality is, the federal government recognized that they caused the problem and they took responsibility for it. We are asking them once again to take responsibility for it, because the problem is not yet fixed. The problem is not fixed, Mr. Speaker.

To those that my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, spoke about, those who are complaining about the amount of money the federal government had to spend on it, or my colleague, the Government House Leader, who tells that when he was in Ottawa a few days ago someone said to him: How much more money do we have to give you people? How much more do we have to do?

Let me answer these questions, Mr. Speaker. When the federal government, or when our friends on the mainland or on this Island or in Labrador, or wherever, ask the question, `How much longer?', the answer is quite simple, the answer is clear. The answer to the question, `How much longer?', is this: Until you fix what you have broken. Until you restore the fishery that you have destroyed. Or, if it cannot be fixed, if it cannot be restored, then there has to be an alternative put in place.

It is the responsibility of the party who broke the industry in the first place, who destroyed the fishery in the first place. It is the responsibility of that party, Mr. Speaker, to restore what has been broken, to fix what has been destroyed, to restore the fishery that they have wiped out; or, failing that, to come forward with an alternative which is acceptable to the people of this Province. The alternative of taking our pick-up trucks and moving off to Ontario is not an acceptable alternative, Mr. Speaker.

We believe there are alternatives that can be made to work, and with the co-operation of those who are liable, those who are responsible - and they are just as responsible for fixing this as they were for dealing with the tainted blood issue, Mr. Speaker. They have accepted that responsibility and they have attempted to make it right, and they must accept this. It is not a hand-out, it is not something they are giving us out of the goodness of their hearts. It is something that the federal government is responsible for. They broke it and now they have to fix it, or they have to put in place an alternative which is acceptable.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I rise today in support of my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, and support his motion as I did several weeks ago in this House when the Member for Twillingate & Fogo brought in his private member's resolution, again as it related to the TAGS issue in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, maybe somebody would say: Well, why would the Member for Conception Bay South be interested in TAGS? Well, I have three fish plants in my district. I have a group of people from my district who are on TAGS; some of them who are off now, by the way. I had a call not very long ago from a gentleman who is certainly by no means a lazy individual, who was up early in the mornings and worked in the fishery whenever he could, and now finds himself with no work, a married man with two small children in school. His question to me was: Bob, where do I go?

The scary part was, I had no answer to give this man. It galls me to no end to know that out of 155 members in Ottawa in the Liberal caucus, there were only fourteen who turned up. But it galls me even worse to find out that somebody went in to our All Party Committee and said: We have 100,000 jobs here in Ontario; why don't you send them up?

As the Minister of Justice just said, if you did that in Alberta or Manitoba with the wheat industry, somebody would be out with a gun looking for you. If we did that to the car industry in Ontario, I am sure that members on both sides of the provincial Legislature in Ontario would certainly come gunning for us, and I believe the federal Legislature as well.

I believe that they are part of the problem, and they have to be the cure for the fisherpeople of Newfoundland and Labrador, for the 1,400 or 1,500 people today who are demonstrating in this Province right now. We, as members of this House - and I guess it is a timely time to introduce this resolution - have to send a message to Ottawa that we are not going to take this lying down, we are not going to take it any more. They have done what they wanted to with our fishery. They were afraid because of grain, or they were afraid because of other agreements.

I say to heck with those agreements. It is time that we, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, got what was rightfully ours. These people have been the cause of the devastation to the fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador. They have been the cause of the change in a way of life to our Province and to many of our citizens, a change in a way of life from which we will never recover.

My dad came from part of Trinity Bay, a community called Winterton, and I often wonder, if he could be back today with us, and if somebody could say to my father, who fished for pleasure as he got up into his late sixties and early seventies: On Sunday afternoon you can't have a bit of salt fish to wrap in brown paper to throw in the fire, I wonder what he would say today. Or if somebody told him that he couldn't get a cod's head to eat, I wonder what he would really say today.

I don't know if he would believe it, that a province such as ours, that has relied for so long on the fishery, would now be told we cannot do this any longer. This report here is almost frightening. I have not had the opportunity yet to study it in detail, but I am sure over the next few days I will be afforded the opportunity.

In the evaluation issues in this report, it says: Three other issues were identified as important, but due to the shortened time and the reduced resources of the evaluation project they were not fully addressed. These issues were the impact and effectiveness of the income support, the contributions to restructuring and downsizing of the fishery, and the effectiveness of TAGS and HRDC implementation and management, and the proper delivery.

Most of these things, to me, clearly point in the direction of the federal government. When this program started some years ago, I know of a gentleman who was sixty-three or sixty-four years of age, who went in to take early retirement and was told, Mr. Speaker, that he was too old to take early retirement. So they sent the man to school for a year and he learned how to plant trees. I may have told this story in the House before. They trained him for six weeks or six months and paid him so much money to learn how to plant trees. After he learned how to plant trees, he worked for six more months and then he retired. Now, where is the common sense? Where is the delivery of a program?

When we look at some of the people who are parading today, who have shut down federal government buildings, do I blame them? Absolutely not, and I would stand in front of any court of law in this country and say that I don't blame these people. I don't blame these people. I feel sorry that in a country such as Canada and a country that we are supposedly part of - and it kind of shakes my faith today to wonder sometimes if we really should be, when a government has done what it has done to the fishery in our Province and yet they say that there is no compensation, there is no more.

We are going to take tens of thousands of people off this TAGS program and at the end of the day there will be nothing. There will be nothing for a man and a wife who both worked in the fishery, to feed their families, to pay their mortgages, to pay their loans, to pay whatever, to buy their groceries, Mr. Speaker, and that galls me to no end, that we are probably going to allow this to happen.

I don't believe that there are words strong enough, I don't believe that there are terms strong enough, that we can send to Ottawa. We have ten representatives of this House today who are in Ottawa arguing Newfoundland and Labrador's case before the federal government. Should we have to do that? Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. My only wish, Mr. Speaker, is that the members on all sides, that side and this one, are successful in the negotiations that are going to go on for today. I am only hoping that they can convince MPs of all parties that are involved, that this is not right, that this is not acceptable to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and that this has to change. I believe that it has to change if some of our rural communities in this Province are going to survive, if some people in my district are going to survive, and a lot of the members opposite whose communities, or some communities in their district, where the only game in town, Mr. Speaker, is the fishery.

There are districts on that side of the House - I talked to some of my colleagues - there are communities in some of these districts that rely wholly and solely on the fishing industry for their survival. What do we do if there is no program? What do these people do to survive? I don't know. I really and truly don't know.

So I don't envy those people who are out today, Mr. Speaker, marching for their rights, rights that to me are God given and that they really should not have to march for. It is a right that is being denied to the citizens of this Province. I believe that this Legislature cannot make enough noise to send the message to Ottawa that we are not going to accept it any more.

So, Mr. Speaker, I certainly am supporting this particular motion on the TAGS. I have supported every motion that has come before this House concerning the TAGS program, and if there is another one tomorrow I will certainly be here in my place supporting that motion as well, Mr. Speaker. Because I believe that we have to send the message and we have to be united more than ever on this particular issue.

So I thank you, sir, for your time and hopefully today we will have another motion to re-enforce our feelings on the TAGS program in this Province, and that this message can be sent to Ottawa as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure and, I suppose, an element of despair to a point, along with a lot of the people, to see what we are put to as to a Province today. To deal with this resolution is very timely on behalf of the Opposition. To live it with the people from the district that I represent, the fishermen and plant worker's from Burgeo, from many communities along the coast - we not only have Burgeo, we have in the district that I represent the fishing communities of LaPoile itself, the namesake of the district as well; you have Grand Bruit which has some fishing activity; you have Petites another isolated community on the coast; Rose Blanche, probably one of the most prolific hook and line fishery locations in the Province with a plant as well in that location; you have Isle aux Morts which is currently not working, has a plant but it is not operating and the fishermen that operate out of Isle aux Morts, another community that could be called a fishing community, certainly the main industry in that part of the district; Burnt Islands which has a fresh fish operation and another 1,000 people in the district of Burgeo & LaPoile who rely in part on TAGS for their benefit; the twin communities of Fox Roost and Margaree which are fishing communities with a plant in that location; you have Port aux Basques which also has a fish plant in it that used to be the T.J. Hardy fish plant taken over later by FPI; and, of course, the people of Cape Ray a lot of whom worked in the fish plant in Port aux Basques.

So, we as members of this House, live it with those individuals. They are members of our Collective Associations, they are our neighbours, they are our friends and they are relatives. These are the people who require assistance at this point in time. They require a continuation of the existing assistance program, not for purposes of a hand-out, not for purposes in any way, shape or form of seeking aid if they had any alternative. These people, if there were other economic alternatives in this Province, would be working in those alternatives today. Mr. Speaker, we have seen it's devastation.

When you get involved in political life, the public life in this Province, there are some things that happen to you and things that probably define your own situation as it comes to representing people. There are a couple of these issues which happened with myself. During the lead up to the nomination for the process in 1989, I recall being involved in a number of protests, a number of demonstrations by fishermen and plant workers in my district. That was prior to even being elected to his House and it was then that the concern was starting to really be shown.

We had all heard the fishermen and the plant workers talking about the fact that the federal government did not have it right, that the fish was not there that they suggested was there, that the draggers offshore were taking a larger portion than it was thought that they were taking. It was obvious that there was mismanagement, because the true test of science was in the size of the fish and we only had to see in the nets and on the hooks and lines of the fishermen in the inshore sector exactly what it was that gave evidence of the mismanagement of the fishery.

I recall at one point prior to NCARP, because we were part of a lost and forgotten region at one point, and I led the fight to have our area considered as part of NCARP. I had the only provincial district in this Province that had significant fishery assets, as you can see from the communities that I mentioned, that were excluded from the NCARP program. The reason for exclusion was that they were giving a package at that time to the rest of Newfoundland because the Newfoundland region managed that portion of the Province and the small South West corner was managed by DFO Moncton. There was no crisis in The Gulf at the time, so therefore despite fishery failure these people were ignored. It was a year-long battle with the Minister of Fisheries of the day, John C. Crosbie, to have us included as a part of the overall program. Then when it shifted off to, I think it was ACAP was the next level prior to TAGS, it was responded to appropriately and the people were provided with some benefit, and there was a special individual program for the Southwest corner based on that situation.

Now, I have had the benefit of late - and I have not completed it yet - of Michael Harris' book, Lament for an Ocean. I commend it to each and every member of this Legislature.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you buying for everybody?

MR. RAMSAY: Well, I say I commend it. I don't purchase it but I will commend it to each and every member.

I would think that it is nice to have all that we have heard and all that our people have lived in the folly of the fishery, the problems of fisheries management, put into one volume for us to see just how it comes together. I must say that Michael Harris has done us proud with the writing of this document. I would hope it would become a best seller in the Province, because all of those out there in the Province now who feel that things were mismanaged, but don't really know for sure, because when it is said and it becomes part of the news, but when you have all of the factual information to back that up - I, as an individual, have been here in this House and have heard all of the discussions of mismanagement, and there is always that level of doubt and wondering: Did they really get it wrong?

Well, this will tell you without a shadow of a doubt that they did get it wrong, Mr. Speaker, that the federal government, successive federal governments, successive bureaucracies, attempted to cover their mistakes by continuing on with a policy that they knew would not see the longevity of the fishery, would not see its growth and the procreation of the fish. Certainly, we are suffering severely for that now.

The 200-mile limit came in, Mr. Speaker, and we thought that was going to change things, back when that 200-mile economic zone came in, in response to the other 200-mile economic zones throughout the world; and that did not do it.

Walter Carter, a previous Minister of Fisheries in this House, previously a federal member, said at the time that they were overjoyed, they were ecstatic, thought that this was going to see the rebuilding of the fish stocks, the rebuilding of the fishery of the Province. Based on the federal science, certain actions were taken in this Province and the building of new fish plants. Actions were taken to go forward with the fishery in a way that we thought we would have full control, that we would have significant impact in getting some of the foreign vessels that fished outside of our 12-mile limit of that time away, and having Canadian vessels start to fish that, and the Province to benefit and the country to benefit from that. Well, it didn't work out that way.

Another significant part of the way things unfolded with respect to fisheries management that we should take note of was the Kirby Report which eventually ended up in the establishment of FPI. That report, if we look back at it - and I refer now to the end of the report where they felt that the structure of the industry was the problem. The whole report believed in the science of DFO on the fish stocks. That whole restructuring which created a new FPI out of the remanents of the other fish companies - I think it was the Lake Group and there was one other, I think -

AN HON. MEMBER: The old Fishery Products.

MR. RAMSAY: The old Fishery Products and the Lake Group came together and that became the new mega-company for Newfoundland and Labrador.

At that time Michael Kirby stated - and this is a reference in the book - when he concluded his report, that the whole issue of fish stocks was not a problem; there were tons of fish, lots of fish. It was not even taken into account that there could possibility be a lack of fish, and he was going on the best possible information that was available at the time. So, he and politicians of the day were taking the best advice they had available and making decisions on that basis.

The criminal element of all of this is the fact that there was someone, or a group of people, in amongst the whole of the decision making process who decided to continue to cover - it is hard to say cover-up - but one would think to continue on with the policies of fisheries management that saw at a point when the fishery finally closed that they established a total allowable catch that could not be caught. Every bit of fishing effort out there could not catch the fish that it was suggested the Province and the country had available to it, to go and put in an effort to catch. When you cannot catch the total allowable catch, there has to be something wrong. Still, even at that point, the Fisheries Science Branch of DFO denied that there was any element of a problem with the science that was established to determine what the fish stocks were.

Mr. Speaker, the timeliness of the motion, is certainly something that we welcome. The fact that the rest of Canada - and maybe we have a responsibility here that all of us as politicians have not lived up to. We have not convinced the people of our own Province that TAGS is valuable to the provincial economy. There are some who realize it but recent polls suggest that we have not convinced the people of our own Province of this.

There is an inherent jealously of the program by those who are not treated as well in the industries in which they work. That is understandable because the fishery is so much a part of the provincial economy that it retains a huge portion of media attention. It commands that attention and government policy making decisions and any commentary by politicians refers to it quite a bit.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is an element, that we, as politicians, and as governments, both federal and provincial, should certainly never have allowed the public to realize the inherent value of a TAGS type program to the provincial economy.

I feel that we collectively, as government and opposition, have failed in getting that across to John Q Public, to the average person who is not involved in the fishery. Some call it Uncle Ottawa, but when the decision makers at the federal level, who are the politicians from other Provinces, get information on the TAGS program, it is no trouble for them to get the negative.

The positives and the net requirement of it has an impact on the provincial economy here, on the Nova Scotia economy where it is a smaller percentage but still significant, and also in Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island as well. That has to be taken into account, because if you think of it, Mr. Speaker, without the benefit of the TAGS program it would see sure a huge impact on this Province we probably would not be in what we are referring to as a growth oriented means of going forward into the future right now. That is the way we are approaching outside of the fishery. The fishery has provided reasonable returns, but from a provincial revenue perspective, if that TAGS money was not there, there would be severe devastation on the provincial economy.

To think of what will happen should that requirement for TAGS - to use the extreme, say there is no program whatsoever, not to suggest that there won't be, but to suggest as to what the problem is. We would have a severe impact on our social assistance case load, a severe impact on the retail sector in the Province, a severe impact on the public sector in the Province, in schools and in the provisions of public services. So those impacts are real and will be felt by every man, woman and child in this Province.

So those in other industries who have any kind of begrudging comment or concern about the TAGS problem, may not themselves realize - and it is not their place to realize - just how much of an impact TAGS, as a program, has on the each and every one of them. People are starting to realize this now, to take note of the fact that people who are on TAGS, who are protesting today - in some cases people might think it is a terrible inconvenience to the public. A lot of the public are upset about it and we take that for what it is, but the general public will be much more - and we have to look at it this way as well - will be inconvenienced by a much more significant impact if in fact the TAGS program or some continuation of it is not in place.

So, Mr. Speaker, if we take it from there and suggest that the federal government certainly have to look at this, and if they want Newfoundland and Labrador to be disadvantaged entirely as a result of the way that a new TAGS program comes down and its impact and effect on people, they will see not only a reduction in the actual dollars coming in from the federal government, and dollars going out on behalf of the provincial government, but they will see a huge impact on income tax in the Province because of the fact that the retail stores and other people in the public sector - that pressure will certainly affect and impact every person in a community.

If you look at rural communities, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. RAMSAY: Just to conclude, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. RAMSAY: If you look at a district, such as my own, in the community of Port aux Basques, where we have had severe problems over the last fifteen to twenty years with the closure of the railway, the variety of impacts on Marine Atlantic and other things like that, Mr. Speaker, we only have to see that as retail businesses close it becomes - it really is noteworthy, Mr. Speaker, to see that in a given area as services become less available people are less likely to spend. That pressure will drive a lot of people out of the economy, those who are unable to benefit in their own local area in the economy that they are operating in. It is not just a shift of dollars to other communities, at times it becomes a complete shift and an encroachment on a local economy affecting hundreds and thousands of people throughout the Province.

So to conclude, Mr. Speaker, I think we have to allow blame to lay where it should lay, and that is that the federal government did mismanage the fishery. Anyone who has done any amount of research into it whatsoever and anyone who read this Lament for an Ocean will certainly know that as a work with very, very good research, a work that brings it together in a package that will allow us to see, as he calls it, `the collapse of the Atlantic Cod Fishery, a true crime story'. Certainly it was a crime and now the federal government is being asked to pay some restitution to the people of this Province in light of the fact that that mismanagement existed and it existed with such a pervasive effect on all of us here in this Province. It has affected each and every one of us, no matter what we work in, whether we are unemployed or not. The provision of a new TAGS program is very important and will be a key element of whether we and a way of life survive into the future, Mr. Speaker.

With that, I certainly commend the hon. member again in bringing forward the resolution. I feel that we should do everything we can to support our ten who are up there with the multi-party group in Ottawa and have some solid impact because I know those people - just a little comment.

I recall at one time a fisherman from Rose Blanche who called me up, back in 1992. He called me up, and to see what this can do, the devastation of this kind of situation where there are no fish, to see what this can do to people. This gentleman called me. First his wife spoke to me - anyone who has dealt with outport Newfoundland, they often know that often times their wives will handle a certain amount of things in dealing with banks and stuff like this because they just, in a lot of cases, have never, ever done it. He called me and finally he wanted to talk to me. He was in despair, totally distraught over the situation. He was trying his best to explain it without breaking down but finally, at the end of the conversation, the man broke down on the phone.

If you talk about something that defines your involvement in any issue and defines the way that you see an issue and through whose eyes you see it, it is through the eyes of that fisherman, who because of the mismanagement of the fish stocks, that I felt the embarrassment, I felt the shame that he felt because he could not provide for his family, and I felt the lack of self worth that he felt at that point, which was not his fault in any way, shape or form. He went out and made his living as best he knew how. That man, whose name I did not even get at that time - I thought I recognized the voice but he did not even identify himself. The impact on me at that point, Mr. Speaker, when he broke down on the phone, I felt every ounce of that fisherman's problem with the situation that he found himself in.

After I hung up the phone I had a hard time to describe to my wife what I had just gone through because the impact was so severe. To feel that pain and to know that these people down there today at the Taxation Centre here in the capital city, each and every one of them have that element of despair. They have that embarrassment because some people look down on them. They should have none of it because it is not their fault. It is simply and very plainly the fault of the Government of Canada.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

MR. H. HODDER: Nice speech, Bill!

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, good job, I say to the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

Mr. Speaker, I stand in my place today to support the petition put forward by the Leader of the Opposition; again a very timely resolution. The question I have to ask, Mr. Speaker, is: Why today are the people of this Province and this House of Assembly and this Administration sitting on a powder keg? It is because of attitude and misunderstanding; attitude in the fact that people in the federal government and the civil servants up-along have a negative attitude towards this Province.

It was a prime example with respect to Rod Morrison with the Marine Atlantic, and what has gone on in this Province over the years with respect to Marine Atlantic. The misunderstanding that is going on in Ottawa today, with respect to this Province, is nothing less than ridiculous.

In 1949, this Country of Newfoundland, at that time, made a deal with the Country of Canada to come together. They entrusted to the Country of Canada the very reason for our being in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and that is the fishery. We survived in this Province for 500 years on the fishery. That is why people moved here. That is why John Cabot came here. We had celebrations here not long ago, Mr. Speaker, celebrations for 500 years of surviving in this Province of Newfoundland. We entrusted to the Government of Canada to take care of our fishery. They had the management of the fishery. They allowed for the setting of quotas. They had the other responsibilities with respect to licensing of the fishery of this Province and the species and it goes on and on and on. What have we here today? Hundreds of people here fighting for something in this Province that is rightfully theirs. It should not even be a question if there is going to be some kind of other package.

They have the attitude in Ottawa that they are giving us hand-outs. Since 1949, Mr. Speaker, we have done more for this Country of Canada than Canada has done for Newfoundland, from my perspective. So it boils my blood to see us having to go to Ottawa to try to work out a deal.

Let me tell you something, Mr. Speaker, if that study that was made public last night was released, and if this administration had it before we did - and it is my belief that the Government House Leader had it last week but it was given to us at the last minute. We were dealing in good faith to go up there to try and get something for this Province which should not have to be the case anyway. This administration and the Premier should be telling the Prime Minister of this country in no uncertain terms that something has to happen with respect to a package for Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to the fishery. If a deal is already done and something is happening behind the scenes, and it only appears now that it is going to happen in the immediate future, it is ridiculous, it is even more disgusting. But, I say, we, as a people in this Province, have the right to have our needs taken care of when it was destroyed by the federal government, and I think there is money available to do this.

If you look at the situation when TAGS was brought in, and NCARP, six years ago, the country of Canada had a $40 billion deficit. Now we have the Minister of Finance federally telling us there is a balanced budget coming, and what have you.

There is $20 billion in the EI fund that can be tapped into to put something together. I am not talking about a hand-out here. I am talking about something that should be put in place to look after the needs of the people of this Province with respect to the fishery. If it is going to be a licence buy-out, if it is going to be some sort of pension plan, if it is going to be some kind of a training program for the younger people, if the money had been taken that was put into TAGS and put into these sorts of things earlier on, we may not be in such a desperate situation today.

The people of this Province need to understand what the impact of no program to be forthcoming will have on them. We have small businesses out there, convenience stores, garages, supermarkets, construction companies building houses and what have you. If this money is taken out of the system, can you understand the impact it is going to have?

We talk about out-migration in this Province over the past few years, and the study that was released last night apparently states, from my understanding - I have not had a chance to read it, but in discussions with people who have - the out-migration in this Province is not necessarily but indirectly related to the TAGS, or the situation in the fishery, the close down in the fishery.

I think we have to understand what is going on in this Province. The people who are not necessarily directly associated or related to the fishery have to understand the negative impact that it will have on those people if we do not get some sort of program going.

Mr. Speaker, I think - and it certainly has been the threat from the unions - that if something is not put in place, the people of this Province will go back to fishing. They will have no choice. That is what we have existed on for 500 years. What kind of impact will that have on the fishery?

I have to say that myself and the Minister of Fisheries do not agree on a lot of things, but I do agree with him on one thing: the sealing, and the impact that the seals are having on the fishery and the comeback of the cod fishery in this Province.

If you take the six million seals, as the Minister of Fisheries has stated a number of times, eating one pound of fish a day, that is six million pounds a day. That is unreal. We have to have an Administration again in Ottawa, a government in Ottawa, that is going to take the bull by the horns and deal with it, whatever that is going to be.

Now, every year we seem to have some negative publicity put forward by the group opposing the seal hunt. Every year we have the same thing, just as there is some progress being made; but then we have people willing to set themselves up.

We passed a resolution not long ago in this House of Assembly to support that the federal government and the Province do some kind of publicity campaign to counteract basically, I suppose, the false advertising often times by the groups opposing the seal hunt.

I think that this resolution put forward is a timely one and I want to support it. There is no doubt in my mind that I can support this resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: Five more minutes.

MR. J. BYRNE: They tell me that they want a few more minutes. It is no trouble to speak on this topic, Mr. Speaker.

One point: If the federal government is looking for money - they talk about all the hand-outs to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador - we put back $600 million to $800 million a year back into the Province of Quebec. Can you imagine, if that was coming into our coffers, what could be done? The EI program, as I mentioned earlier, versus the TAGS. The same money they put into the TAGS program they took out of the EI program, so where is the extra money coming from? Nothing in extra money out of the federal government.

Foreign overfishing. We have the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture standing in his place in this House of Assembly, and he supports the foreign fishing now that is going on. I cannot call it overfishing, I suppose, but the foreign fishing. One factor that remains is the by-catch. There is by-catch with respect to that fishery, whatever fishery it may be. That is having an impact. If Newfoundlanders cannot fish, I don't see anybody being allowed to fish within the 200-mile limit.

The scientists over the years have put forward information that obviously was wrong. If they had been correct we would not be in the situation we are in today. Now we have a situation where people are telling me in certain bays in this Province there are fish where there were never fish before. There are the two different stocks, of course, that they talk about, and I am no expert, let me tell you. As much as I know about fish, I suppose, and the catching of fish, is eating them, and carrying a few up from Tappers Cove in Torbay and bringing them home when I was a kid. There was an abundance of fish at that time, large fish.

I see some of the shows on newsreels every now and then on the media, and I see the little tiny fish that are being caught. I was up to River of Ponds a few years ago, went into the fish plant there. I saw a fish on the floor in the ice, and I caught bigger trout. I couldn't believe what they were keeping, and what was allowed to be caught.

Again, it was by the licensing, the quotas, and whatever regulations were set forth by the federal government; so they are at fault here. I was watching television the other night and we had an MP who was being interviewed from Ontario. Clearly he didn't understand the situation in this Province, and the dependence this Province has on the fishery that the federal government mismanaged.

To me, these people somehow or other need to be informed, and they are not being informed. We had a group go up, from both sides of the House, last week. They had a fifteen-minute meeting with this one, a fifteen-minute meeting with that one, fourteen Members of Parliament of the Liberal government out of 115 or 135 - 115, I think, from Ontario, 155 total - fourteen show up. These are the people who are going to make the decision on what is going to happen in this Province.

To me, if we have that lack of interest - I don't know, maybe Quebec has the right idea. I don't know, maybe they do. I hope not. If we keep being treated with the attitude and the arrogance of this federal government, something needs to be done. We have to take a stand. The people who are here now, there are maybe 1,000 people down at the taxation centre. It is the start of something I predicted in this House four years ago when the previous Premier was here and I said what was going to happen in this Province if things kept going the way they were going.

As a group, we have to be proud to be Newfoundlanders. The attitude in this Province today by some people, to me, it is like their backs have been broken. The straw has been placed on their back; it has been broken. We need to do something about it. To do something about it we have to have an administration in this House of Assembly, or a government, that is going to stand up to Ottawa. They need to stand up, to fight for the average Newfoundlander and Labradorian in this Province today.

The impact that a program or lack of a program will have on this Province will be devastating. It will be devastating to the communities in this Province. As I said earlier, we have the out-migration, the likes of which have never been known in this Province. They can stand on the other side all the time and say: If you take out the failure of the fishery and the people leaving the Province because of that, it was just as bad previously.

Irrelevant. What is happening today is what has to be dealt with, and we have to have an Administration that is going to deal with it. I have not seen any ideas coming forward from the Administration, from this government, to deal with this.

Talk is cheap, there is no doubt about that, but we have to do something about it. We have to rejuvenate rural Newfoundland. We have to give them a reason for existing, and to do that we need to get the fishery back. And between now and then we have to put something in place to save the people of this Province. We have to keep the people here.

Sometimes I am thinking, Mr. Speaker, maybe there is a program or a hidden agenda here to get people to leave this Province, to get the numbers from between 500,000 and 600,000 down to 350,000 or so. My view is that we should be getting the numbers increased. We should be getting more people moving in daily, if we could, Mr. Speaker. If we could drop another 500,000 people here, great. For every person who comes into the population, another job or two is created, Mr. Speaker. Those are the stats. We need people coming to this Province, not leaving the Province.

We have all kinds of plans. We have Voisey's Bay up there, that is going to create hundreds of jobs in the future. We do not know where that stands today, do we? We have the Churchill Falls deal, which is not really a deal yet. It will be a deal if we can agree to this and if we can agree to that, and if this happens and if that happens. Great stuff for the future, if we can get it, but people need to be fed today. People need a pay cheque today, Mr. Speaker. We have the smelter that was supposed to be coming out here. Where does that stand? I do not know, Mr. Speaker, but I know what we do need; we need jobs in this Province today. And to do it, if we have to draw on the resources of the federal Government of Canada - we pay our dues; we have paid our dues over the past fifty years - then we should be there.

We are supposed to be a country, a family of provinces. Families are supposed to take care of one another. They are supposed to help each other out in times of need, Mr. Speaker. There should be no negativity whatsoever. We have done our part in the past, and we are going to do our part in the future for this country. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I think, there should be no need for a group to leave here twice in the past week to go to Ottawa to fight for something that there should not be a question at all we should have. It should be forthcoming without any questions, without any negativity, without any biases, without any attitude, Mr. Speaker. That is what we should have in the Province today.

As I said earlier, I support this petition and I want this Administration, this government, to do something and to be forthright with everybody in the Province on any issue in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: She has one friend.

MS FOOTE: Sometimes I am doubtful of that one.


AN HON. MEMBER: She has me down as doubtful.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, representing a primarily fishing district, the historic district of Grand Bank, I want to commend the hon. member opposite for introducing this topic today.

I know firsthand, certainly, the impact that the collapse of the groundfishery has had on the people in the district of Grand Bank. I also know what it has meant to those people who are very hard-working, independent, proud individuals not to be able to work for a living, to in fact have to rely on hand-outs from the federal government, something that they hate doing.

The point of the matter is that in my district alone we had over 1,300 people receiving TAGS. In fact, in 1994 we had 1,385 people on TAGS. In 1996, seventy-five of those people came off the program. In 1997, another 125 came off the program; and on May 9, we have 102.

The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that if this program ends as it is predicted to do, at the end of August, in the district of Grand Bank we will have 1,144 people being dropped from the program with no income support. This is something that I have heard in calls to my office and to my constituency office. It is not that they want income support. They want to work.

I suppose from my perspective, I recognize this as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and previously the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, that as much as we want to attract investment to rural Newfoundland, as much as we want to diversify the economy, it is not easy to do. It just is not easy to attract those capital dollars to rural Newfoundland. We can look at the urban areas. We can look at places like Gander, we can look at Corner Brook, we can look at Mount Pearl, we can look at Grand Falls - Windsor, and it is much easier to interest companies in going to these parts of our Province. But if you are looking at Lord's Cove, if you are looking at Lamaline, if you are looking at Point May, they are not going to go there. They are not near any type of infrastructure. The numbers of people they need in terms of starting up a business are not there, but more importantly the people do not have the skills that are going to be required.

These are people that have worked very hard all of their lives doing what they know how to do best. They are very bright people, Mr. Speaker, they are very good at what they do, but never had to think about: What if? No one thought about: What if? What if the fishery is not there any more? That is precisely what happened, Mr. Speaker, and through no fault of the people in the district of Grand Bank or in any other part of this Province that has been impacted by the collapse of the fishery.

Just to put it in perspective, when I say I have had phone calls, I have had letters. I had one just the other day from a lady in Lord's Cove, writing on her behalf and on behalf of her family. Her husband is or was a fisherman. He was receiving TAGS and now his TAGS has been cut off. Her concern was that they were trying to make ends meet, and she is working, but in terms of even paying their mortgage, in terms of feeding their families - she is a nurse. In the letter she wrote about the mental anguish on her husband not being able to provide for his family. She is able to help out to the extent that she can but it is not the same thing. This is a man who has worked all of his life, a man who has provided for his family and now he can't do that. She said: You know, I don't know if anybody has ever done an analysis of the impact of the collapse of the fishery on our fisherpeople other than the fact of the income that they derived, but just on what this has done to them mentally. Her letter was very well written.

I picked up the phone and I called her, because one of the other issues that we have to deal with and that she brought to my attention, was that even paying off a loan to the Fisheries Loan Board - he had paid off what he could and then when TAGS was cut off he had $5,000 outstanding. He had gotten a letter saying: We want it in lump sum. She is saying: We know that we should have been paying it off. I take some responsibility for not ensuring that that happened, but it was almost like a protest. It was almost like saying, we did not cause this, bear with us, work with us, recognize the hardship that this is imposing on our family. She was offering to, in fact, put in place a restructured payment plan; whether it meant fifty dollars a week or fifty dollars a month. They were not saying we don't have the obligation. There was a clear understanding that they do have that responsibility.

So I think we have to recognize the impact this has had on the people of our Province. We all know, particularly those of us who represent fishing districts, that this has had a devastating impact, and not just on the people who have been directly involved in the fishery.

Sometimes people will say: Well, the fishermen, it only affects them. We don't get income. If something happens to the people in the logging industry, there is no compensation for them. If something happens to anybody in any other sector of the economy there is nothing for them. But the fact of the matter is that the fishing industry impacts on all of us because of the spin-offs, particularly in those rural communities. If people are fishing and they have an income then they have money to spend. Then you see your convenience stores which employ people, you see the children who are going to school having money to spend, you see clothing stores benefiting. So the spin-off activity that relates to a viable fishing industry is very much impacted when you have a collapse of that major industry.

I don't guess anyone ever really took the time to think about - and we never had to, I suppose - what it meant when we were focused primarily on the fishery as the major sector for this Province. I guess we have had a rude awakening, and realize that never again should we put all of our eggs in one basket. This is why it is important for us to make sure that we work to diversify the economy, but as well to recognize that the fishing industry can never again be the industry of last resort, where anyone who wanted to went fishing. It almost seemed to be a right, and so it is, I guess, if you want to go out and catch a fish to put on your table and have dinner, but when it comes to earning a living, it has to be a viable industry for those who have traditionally worked in that industry.

I think so many of us have looked to the fishery as always being there. Well, we now know that is not the case. There are some bright spots, there is no doubt about it, certainly in my district in terms of the inshore fishery, and in the offshore fishery in terms of the scallops and the shrimp, some sea urchin work going on, mussels. The fact of the matter is that that will never provide the level of income that you would find when there is a viable cod fishery. I suppose more than any other district in this Province, mine, along with the Members for Burin-Placentia West and Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, is probably seeing a rebuilding of the stocks faster than in any other part of the Province, which is really good news. But I can tell you that because of the need to be cautious, to practice conservation, it's important for us to recognize that even with that rebuilding of stocks there are still going to be a lot fewer people earning a living from the fishery.

I attended a workshop this weekend in Marystown. It was a conference that was sponsored by the Schooner Regional Development Corporation, the economic zone board for Zone 16. It was on a Saturday. No one got paid to go there. These were people who were truly concerned with what was happening in the fishery; representation from the union and fishermen from throughout the districts in Zone 16. The stories they told when they came to the mike - some of us were there to make a presentation, to talk about our knowledge of the value of the fishery to our districts -, but when they had a chance to speak and put questions to us, it became very obvious that they want to work, that they recognize we will never have the same numbers of people working in the industry again. They acknowledge that. They aren't saying: We want to go at it no matter what. They want to practice conservation.

As we talked I had to say - they say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, boy, it's difficult to find the silver lining in this cloud. I suppose the one thing the crisis has taught us is that we really need to come together. We really need to work together to try and ensure that the fishery of the future is a viable industry. We need to ensure that we don't have the union saying one thing, government officials and leaders saying another thing and industry saying another thing. We all have to recognize the value of the fishery to this Province.

No matter what, even with Hibernia, even with Terra Nova, even with Voisey's Bay, the fact of the matter is that rural Newfoundland does, and will always, depend on the fishery. St. John's will do fine, thank you. You have companies coming in here, as they are doing, setting up their headquarters in St. John's. There's no worry about St. John's and its future, there is no worry about Mount Pearl and its future, there is no worry about Corner Brook and its future, but I can stand here and tell you that I honestly believe that, when I look in my district and I look at Lawn, Point May, Lamaline and Lord's Cove, I'm concerned. Because these are people who have fished all of their lives, and they don't know, even though the stocks are rebuilding, how much longer they are going to have to fish. If they go out and fish what's there now, if they are allowed to do that - and they do because they have a 20,000 ton quota - if they go out and fish that, whether or not that is all that is going to be there.

It is a very real issue, Mr. Speaker, and I am concerned for our people; I am concerned, certainly, for the people in the district of Grand Bank; I am concerned for our Province and the future of our Province in terms of the Province as we know it, and in terms of how people know this Province.

This Province is unique; it is wonderful place to live. When we talk about tourists coming to this Province, St. John's is a nice place to visit; Corner Brook is nice place to visit. But what stands out for this Province is rural Newfoundland.

When tourists come here, what they really enjoy is visiting rural Newfoundland and, as I have said to my colleague, the Minister of Tourism and Culture, it is really important for us to make sure that we really promote rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, again I want to express my appreciation to the member opposite for introducing this resolution. It is important to all of us and I am pleased to be a part, with my colleagues, in supporting this initiative.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I would like to take a few moments to wind up the debate and to thank those who participated in it.

I agree with the minister; Newfoundland and Labrador is a place full of ironies. It is a difficult place to governor - the coastline, (inaudible) services. It came into existence under knowledge of where the best headlands were to catch fish, how we knew the bottom of the ocean without a fish finder. All of that has changed significantly, especially in the last 40 years. Our ability to catch, obviously, outstripped our ability to maintain our resource for itself. But even the old ways, the rural traditions, are being lost daily.

The point is this: In terms that there is no question the fishery cannot be the place of last resort - those days are over - it presents a fundament restructuring of what is happening to us. Everywhere, no matter what part of the Province you are in, that is the challenge.

One on the diversification side from a ministerial point of view, people who are charged with the responsibility of rural development, industry, trade and technology, bringing in new revenue, creating employment within remote and rural areas - a hard job when infrastructure is not there and the types of resources that we still have at our disposal in many ways are still being exported. It is almost like a colonial attitude of sorts.

You talk about diversification. I will just make one quick example and I will make it with respect to the Lower Churchill. If we can ensure that an in-feed to the Island is accomplished that can make the Island portion of the Province part of the North America grid, not only so that we can receive but so that we can transmit types of economic grants that could be generated - and you need only look into Quebec in terms of aluminum smelters as an example, the ability to offer cheap power.

I know what is happening in Baie Verte, for example, with the magnesium, with the tailings. In the situation there, there may be a need for power generation of some 200 to 240 megawatts. We do not have enough left on the Island in terms of hydro power to serve that, with 150 to 160 megawatts. What is happening in Labrador is critical to the diversification of our entire economy.

Mr. Speaker, let me say this. As a result of what is looming or what is pending in the attitudes in central Canada that we have all talked about, that have become more evident in the last few weeks, certainly, the reality is this: there is a generation of people for which somebody is going to have to take responsibility.

If you look at the report released, it clearly shows it. The majority of people who took advantage of training programs and mobility allowances and assistance were those people who had high school graduation, some form of post-secondary, and they could not get enough training; because the more they got, the more they wanted. Half the people on the program today are over the age of forty. About 35 percent are between the ages of forty-eight and sixty. Realistically, after spending a lifetime... Supposing that people in that category get skills - IT programs, whatever the skills may be - they are going out to compete in a workforce and a work environment and an economy by where somebody twenty-four years old, which employers are working for, somebody younger, that is the type of thing they are going out to compete against.

There is a generation of people for which somebody - whether it is through Ottawa or the provincial government - is going to have to take some responsibility. Ultimately who does that, I guess, is the question. If it ends up being the Province, in terms of our own financial ability to do that, people will move off that program, and as they move into social services lines and other forms of social assistance the stress on the provincial budget and what we are able to offer people on social services now will become even more limited. It is a stressful situation.

Mr. Speaker, I will clue up because I think everything that has needed to be said on this issue has been said, and to thank hon. members for participating in the debate. I hope it is a unanimous resolution that we can send to our committee in Ottawa immediately following the closure of the House.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the resolution.


MR. SPEAKER: Against.

I declare the resolution carried unanimously.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, before you call the adjournment motion, I would like to announce that the Social Services Estimates Committee will review the Estimates of the Department of Health and Community Services this evening at 7:00 in room 5083, and the Estimates of the Department of Justice tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. in room 5083.

Also, there has been some confusion about Friday. I believe we have an agreement with the Opposition that the House will not be sitting on Friday, but when we close tomorrow we will be closing until Monday.

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