The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Admit their Lordships, the Justices of the Supreme Court.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Mr. Speaker, His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has arrived.

MR. SPEAKER: Admit His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.


Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair.

His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor takes the Chair.

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: Ladies and gentlemen, it is the wish of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor that all be seated.

Thank you.


Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Welcome to the Fourth Session of this, the Forty-Fourth General Assembly. It is my pleasure to welcome all those citizens of the Province who are observing these proceedings both here and, for the first time, in their own homes.

Queen's Jubilee

As members of this hon. House will recall, February 6, 2002 marked the 50th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne. My Government, on behalf of the citizens of the Province, conveys our best wishes to Her Majesty. At the same time, My Government conveys the sympathy of our citizens to Her Majesty on the recent death of her only sister, Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon.

First Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador

We meet in this Chamber at an important point in our history, as this is the first Speech from the Throne to be delivered in the Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Changing the name of the Province is a symbolic yet important recognition of Labrador's status as a full partner in the Province. It will encourage all citizens to work together to meet the challenges and seize the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead.

The name change, while very real for the people of Labrador, is also symbolic of the changes our Province will face in the coming years. It reflects the change My Government has sought to make in how we determine and meet our commitments. It represents My Government's commitment to foster and manage real change for the benefit of our people.

My Government believes that the next few years will belong to Labrador. A significant part of My Government's agenda will be focused on pursuing opportunities for development in Labrador - development that will be in keeping with the views and aspirations of the people of Labrador. My Government's commitment to develop a Labrador Economic Action Plan, to sign land claims and self-government agreements with Aboriginal groups, to complete all phases of the Trans-Labrador Highway and invest in other strategic infrastructure priorities, and to continue to negotiate a Voisey's Bay deal and pursue the Lower Churchill development are all indicative of the tremendous promise and real potential that the Big Land holds.

Commending our People

For many, they year 2001 will be remembered as a year scarred by the tragedy of September 11th. The events of that day have changed us all. A profound impact was made on all people well beyond those who experienced the horror in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. It is said that from tragedy comes hope, and how we respond to such events reflects our spirit and confidence.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador responded to the tragedy as we have responded so many times to crises within our own communities - with compassion and hospitality. Our pride as a people and our tradition of caring shone brightly and I am sure it left an indelible mark on the thousands of unexpected visitors who spent time here. Perhaps John and Marie Unkle of Fairfax, Virginia said it best: "The wonderful people of Gander and the surrounding community made us feel very welcome and restored our faith in the basic goodness of humanity.... You opened your homes and hearts to us. We will never the people... for their generosity and compassion to total strangers."

Building on our long tradition of giving and helpfulness, it was only fitting that the hard work and commitment to volunteerism in this Province be recognized. 2001 was the International Year of the Volunteer, and we were privileged to honour ninety-six volunteers in this Province by presenting them with the Newfoundland and Labrador Volunteer Medal. The Volunteer Medal was an opportunity to recognize people for their generosity, sense of caring and community spirit.

Pride of Place

This was the year that our writers, our film makers and our actors brought our world to millions of people. A world with a richness in culture and heritage that is unparalleled. How could we ever forget the image created by Bernice Morgan of Mary Bundle, a determined, hard-working, weathered woman, as the entire nation became entranced by the sometimes cruel but binding life of the people of Cape Random. Or the creative, eccentric Phonse, played by our own Andy Jones, in the comedy hit Rare Birds. Or the witty, insightful reporter in The Shipping News as played by our beloved Gordon Pinsent.

These are the characters we know intimately and instinctively. The people we belong to, the people we have come from. The same people that we see every day in corner stores, in post offices, on the community wharf and across the fence. This is indeed a world built on a sense of place and intense pride.

Order of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognizing outstanding individuals for their talent, vision, unique skills and noteworthy contributions is something My Government wishes to continue to do. To this end, we will advance the establishment of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in the coming months. As the first Chancellor of the Order, I will be meeting in the next few weeks with the members of the Advisory Council leading to the nomination process and eventual selection of the first citizens to receive the Order.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

An Open Government

One year ago My Government set out a bold and ambitious work plan to affirm public confidence as it completes the mandate given in the general election of 1999.

My Government is committed to opening this government to the people of the Province. All Newfoundlanders and Labradorians deserve to know what their government stands for, what it intends to do and how it will do it. The initiatives which My Government has pursued with intent and focus have had a positive impact on the people of the Province. In the past year, My Government has demonstrated that it is willing to be innovative and bold by making, and delivering on, commitments that challenge the status quo.

Accountability through Change and Openness

Building from recommendations developed by an independent review panel, a new Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act was passed. The new Act replaces legislation that was over twenty years old. It ensures clarity and relevance in this new age of information, and is part of My Government's commitment to a greater level of openness and accountability. The priority My Government has placed on this Bill reflects the hallmark of this Administration. That hallmark is real accountability. Ensuring real accountability to the people of this Province is the foundation from which My Government intends to act in all areas.

My Government believes that the people of this Province have the right to view reports and studies commissioned by government, and to form their own views on government action on the basis of the advice it receives. To this end, My Government has adopted a policy of openness, of publicly releasing reports and studies once they are received. My Government believes that, given access to the same information, the majority of fair-minded people would reach the same conclusions as the government. In the last sitting of the House, My Government amended the House of Assembly Act to ensure that all reports required to be tabled in the House of Assembly, including the Report of the Auditor General, are released as soon as they are received, whether or not this House is in session.

A further, important change towards real accountability was made with My Government's decision to create a Citizens' Representative for the Province. The Citizens' Representative, Mr. Fraser March, was appointed in December past and began work on February first of this year. We now have in this Province an individual, empowered by the people's House of Assembly, whose mandate is to address issues relating to government accessibility and personal privacy.

My Government has also established legislation on a new Child and Youth Advocate to advance issues on behalf of children and youth in this Province. The new Advocate will be in place in the near future. My Government believes that this legislation will position Newfoundland and Labrador as one of the leaders in child and youth advocacy in Canada.

Another important change My Government has made to ensure real accountability was to televise the activities of this House of Assembly. People in over 126,000 households in every part of this Province are able to watch and listen to this speech in the comfort of their own homes. Televising the House has been a critical measure in ensuring that the people of this Province can witness, first-hand, the deliberations which take place in this Chamber and democracy in action.

Overall, these initiatives represent tangible and significant change in how the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is more open and accountable to the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Other Legislative Achievements

In the past year, My Government has demonstrated its action-oriented focus through its sound legislative agenda. In the past year, sixty pieces of legislation have been approved by this House, many of them groundbreaking.

In addition to bringing legislative life to its accountability agenda, My Government has put forward several other pieces of legislation which have been passed by the House of Assembly, including a new Endangered Species Act which will help further protect wildlife in the Province; changes to the Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises Act, to further stimulate growth in the Province's economy; changes to the Labour Standards Act, which will increase the minimum wage and improve labour relations in the Province; and changes to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Act, to ensure that provincial regulations governing oil and gas development are consistent and fair to the Province and to industry.

A Year of Accomplishments

My Government's record of accomplishments in the past year sets the pace for another year of aggressive action. On the economic front, My Government released the final report on the Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth, attracted new call centres to St. John's, Corner Brook, Carbonear and Grand Falls-Windsor, signed a 130 megawatt recall contract with Hydro-Quebec, increased the tax-free threshold on payroll tax to $500,000 and was recognized with two prestigious international awards for tourism marketing. On the social side of the ledger, My Government reduced tuition at Memorial University by 10 per cent, increased salaries for home support workers, renewed its emphasis on literacy, made provision for support trusts for adult disabled persons to be established by their families and created a provincial Youth Advisory Committee. These are just some of the significant achievements from the past year.

Petroleum Products Pricing Commissioner

My Government also delivered on its commitment to regulate petroleum prices by creating the Office of the Petroleum Products Pricing Commissioner, and hired Mr. George Saunders to fulfil this role. Through this Office, My Government has ensured that petroleum prices are set in a rational and fair manner, bringing stability in pricing to consumers.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Strategic Action Plan

In the past year, My government has seen a change in leadership, a change towards action and a change in delivering results to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Leadership carries with it the challenge of managing change. My Government believes that in this day and age our people demand a government that is an agent of change, a government that is adaptable, flexible and responsive, a government that listens and is quick to respond and take action.

My Government believes that actions speak louder than words. While we have accomplished a great deal in the past year, there is much more to be done. The right choices must be made if Newfoundland and Labrador is to prosper. My Government, working with and for the people of this great Province, will continue to set a bold agenda and attack it with vigour, with confidence and with determination. My Government has a firm plan of action for the future.

Openness and Accountability

First and foremost, My Government is, and will remain, open and accountable to the people. We shall continue to consult widely on priority matters and will debate issues openly to inspire creative thinking and new approaches, not only from Members of this hon. House, but from among our broad population.

Annual Reports

My Government has a formalized planning process in place which requires departments to develop strategic plans which clarify their mandates, establish their mission, set goals and identify strategic priorities. For Crown boards, agencies and commissions, two documents have been issues: Achieving Excellence 2000 - A Guidebook for Improved Accountability of Public Bodies and Achieving Excellence 2000 - A Handbook for Improved Governance of Public Bodies. These public body accountability framework documents are another important step in My Government's efforts to implement effective and up to date accountability measures throughout the public sector.

Building on these measures, and on the broad range of actions My Government has already undertaken to ensure real openness and accountability, all departments and agencies will be required to publish annual reports in 2003. Through these reports, people may judge the effectiveness of My Government in delivering programs and services that meet the needs of the people.

Strategic Social Plan and Social Audit

My Government has outlined a vision for Newfoundland and Labrador through its Strategic Social Plan. It is a vision that encourages government, regions and communities to work in partnership to improve long-term opportunities for people and identify regional solutions to regional issues. Today, across the Province, regional committees are working together to make a difference. They are supporting partnerships that, for example, bring early childhood development opportunities such as family resource programs to rural areas, build community leadership through volunteer development, identify and promote career opportunities for youth in their local regions and promote recreation as a way to build stronger communities. There is an excitement and a vibrance as this plan makes a real difference in the lives of our people.

My Government is moving forward with its social progress and audit report. The report will begin to measure our social progress, and reflects My Government's commitment to openness and accountability. Newfoundland and Labrador has been recognized both in Canada and abroad for the ingenuity of its Strategic Social Plan. My Government's willingness to work in a different way positions Newfoundland and Labrador as a leader in social development.

Sustaining Rural Newfoundland and Labrador

The strength of rural Newfoundland and Labrador is critical to our growth, sustainability and lifestyle. My Government understands that some regions of the Province have not shared equally in our growth and prosperity. My Government will continue to support economic development in rural Newfoundland and Labrador through the twenty Regional Economic Development Boards and other community economic development organizations throughout the Province. My Government recognizes that the opportunities and challenges facing one region of the Province, such as the Northern Peninsula, are different from those in other regions, such as the South Coast or Labrador. My Government intends to take a flexible approach to building stronger communities and stronger regions.

Last fall's Rural EXPO 2001, the first of its kind, was designed to showcase and promote economic opportunities and business and community economic development accomplishments in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. My Government took the opportunity at Rural EXPO 2001 to present the first Community Economic Development Awards to individuals and groups in recognition of the valuable role they play in economic development at the community level.

Wilf Sutton and Tom Sutton were selected for the Outstanding Individual Achievement Award. These men were instrumental in developing a strategic plan for their hometown of Trepassey. Michelle Snow, who won the Excellence in Youth Leadership Award, is an enthusiastic mentor and role model for youth in the Province. The Random North Development Association, winner of the Innovation in Education Award, has been a driving force in the field of literacy, particularly in bridging the gap from education to employment for individuals who need assistance in upgrading their literacy skills to participate fully in the workforce. These and the other award winners have reason to take pride in their accomplishments.

My Government will continue to support the Regional Economic Development Boards as agents of economic progress and change. My Government is also committed to establishing an agricultural land enhancement fund to further expedite growth in the agriculture sector, particularly in the dairy industry, and My Government will seek matching funds from the federal government to supplement this initiative.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Fostering Partnerships for Growth

Economic opportunity can best be built through the collective commitment of all members of society. Alliances of the many faces which make up our economic and social base are not only useful, but critical.

That is why My Government recently established a Strategic Partnership Initiative among government, business and labour to foster a new collaborative, consensus-building approach to advancing the socio-economic interests of our Province. This partnership is important in advancing My Government's overall economic agenda as set out in the Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth, and will help business, labour and government work more effectively together to meet the Province's economic challenges and capture opportunities at a strategic, Province-wide level. There is real power when people work together on common shared goals to advance a collective agenda, rather than fostering on issues that divide them.

The core of this new initiative is a Strategic Partnership Forum held among the three groups and chaired by the Premier. A highly successful first session of the Forum was held on March 8, 2002 building on significant work that has been ongoing for some time on this front. My Government will work diligently with our labour and business partners to identify and address key challenges and opportunities which will benefit from a collective tripartite approach.

Partnership with Aboriginal Peoples

My Government is committed to working with the federal government to resolve issues of concern to our Aboriginal peoples. The social pressures and problems of substance abuse which plague many Aboriginal communities are a tragedy that cannot be ignored. My Government pledges to work in partnership with Aboriginal peoples, and in collaboration with the federal government, to empower and assist them in overcoming their tremendous challenges.

In the coming year, My Government will continue to negotiate with the Labrador Inuit Association and the Innu Nation on their respective land claims. My Government intends to sign the first self-government and land claims agreement in this Province, which will be a watershed event in our history, because this the right thing to do and will be good for all of the Province.

Improving Transportation Infrastructure

My Government has sought commitments from the federal government to improve the Province's transportation infrastructure including a proposal to the federal government for additional funding for the Province's highways. Of particular significance, and in keeping with the aspirations of the people of Labrador and commitments to the region, My Government will ensure the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. My Government expects the federal government to increase funding to address the poor condition of its federal wharves and harbours in this Province. My Government will also be initiating a new vessel replacement and refurbishment program on a cost-effective basis to address the needs of our ferry operations.

Air access is a nationally debated issue in which the Province has great interest. My Government has established a Cabinet Committee on Air Policy to provide advice on commercial air presence and air access to and from various parts of the Province. My Government believes that decisive national action is needed to improve the quality of air service and ensure reasonable rates. My Government will demand action from the federal government to address air access issues in this Province.

Equalization Program Reform

My Government is a strong supporter of the principle of equalization but is concerned about whether the present program will serve our Province well in the future. My Government believes that we must reject any vision of Canada that accepts "have not" status for some provinces as a natural order of things. My Government will fight to achieve Equalization Program reform so that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can receive their fair share from Confederation, particularly on natural resource revenues.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly

Health Care

Newfoundland and Labrador place high value on their health and well-being. This is why My Government is commited to ensuring that people have timely access to quality health care services. It is about making the right choices so that we have the right people, in the right place, at the right time so that the health care system can respond effectively to the needs of our citizens. Last fall My Government held a series of regional health forums across the Province. The input which people provided will enable My Government to shape the principles which will guide health care decision-making in the future.

Strategic Health Plan

In the coming months, My Government will release a new Strategic Health Plan for Newfoundland and Labrador. This Plan will outline priorities for action, strategic objectives and specific performance targets. The Plan will be built around three goals which address: the health status of the population; the quality, accessibility and sustainability of health and community services; and the participation of individuals, families and communities in their own health and well-being.


My Government believes that we need to stop waiting until people get sick and start focusing more on helping them to stay healthy in the first place. My Government will continue to provide information to, and opportunities for, citizens of the Province to enable them to choose healthier lifestyles, including increased physical activity, better nutrition and reduced levels of smoking.

Teen Smoking

My Government has taken a proactive role in promoting non-smoking behaviours. It has strengthened anti-tobacco legislation by restricting the sale of tobacco products to minors. On January 1, 2002, Newfoundland and Labrador became the first Province in Canada to prohibit smoking in food establishments and other public places frequented by children.

But more needs to be done to combat smoking by teens. And My Government will do more to ensure that young people commit their lives to productive and healthy endeavours rather than to smoking. My Government will continue to support the Alliance for Control of Tobacco and work closely with its Teen Tobacco Team to identify and act on the best approaches to getting the stop smoking message to our youth. My Government is committed to making a difference and to achieving results. After all, those who will hold our future will need strong lungs for their voices to be heard.

Health Charter

My Government is making a commitment today to every citizen of the Province to develop a Health Charter. This Charter will provide clear commitments to individuals on accessibility to quality health care. It will also establish an understanding of the importance of a person's own responsibility in achieving optimal health. This Health Carter will be developed by My Government with input from the public and from health sector stakeholders.

Sustainability - A Continuing Priority

The cost of providing health care continues to place significant pressure on public finances. My Government believes that health services must be financially sustainable over the long term so that people can continue to have access to quality health care. An ongoing commitment to efficiency and innovation is necessary in the delivery of health services to ensure that human and financial resources are always applied to the areas of greatest need. My Government will work with health boards to ensure our health system operates on a sustainable basis.

Need for Further Federal Funding

My Government will continue to press the federal government to live up to its commitments in funding health care. My Government calls for effective federal leadership in this area and a meaningful partnership among all governments to ensure that Medicare remains a viable and cost-effective program.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly

Children and Youth

My Government believes in the value of investing in children. My Government recognizes the importance of the early years and the valuable and crucial role families and communities play in supporting children. My Government also understands the importance of helping young people make a successful transition to adulthood. It is indeed a fact that the children of today will be the leaders of tomorrow.

Early Childhood Development

This past year, My Government announced a five-year Early Childhood Development initiative. The Province's program, Stepping into the Future, has been designed to specifically meet the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador, and was developed in consultation with early childhood development stakeholders.

As with other areas of public policy, My Government intends to be accountable to the public for its investment in this area. Work has begun on a framework for the development of comparable indicators. My Government will report the results of its investments to the public on a regular basis.


Education continues to be a major priority for My Government. An integrated approach to improving literacy has been developed, including a comprehensive testing program to identify and diagnose reading difficulties and the allocation of reading specialists for every school board.

My Government has moved quickly to implement the recommendations of the Ministerial Panel Report on Education Delivery in the Classroom. All of the eighty-six recommendations have been, or are in the process of being, implemented. My Government will complete the implementation of the report's recommendations in the coming year, especially those that refer to increasing instructional time for students to improve student achievement.

My Government will increase online learning opportunities available for students, with special emphasis on students in rural and isolated parts of the Province. These opportunities, delivered through new Internet-based technology, will provide students with the tools they need to succeed.

Student Aid

My Government recognizes the debt which students, particularly those from rural areas, acquire through the financing of their post-secondary education must be better managed through the combined efforts of government, students and institutions. To this end, My Government will work with students on making tuition more affordable and helping them obtain meaningful work experience in career-related fields. My Government will also work with Memorial University, the College of the North Atlantic and other institutions to give students more recognition for prior learning and to increase credit transfer options. My Government soon will be announcing a new Student Loans Program which will improve existing debt reduction measures, reduce loan defaults and help address student debt accumulation.

Violence Prevention Initiative

Through continuation of the Violence Prevention Initiative, which commenced in 2000, My Government reaffirms its commitment to improving programs and policies for women, children, the elderly and other groups of individuals vulnerable to violence. The partners in this initiative include the community, at the regional and provincial levels, and several government departments and agencies.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

The Economy

Economic strength and quality of life are inextricably linked. Only a strong economy can provide the means to support vital services such as accessible health care and quality education. Only a strong economy supports assistance for children, the elderly and the most vulnerable in our society.

As we move forward, it is clear that a new and changing Newfoundland and Labrador is emerging. It is a Newfoundland and Labrador of enterprising, educated and self-reliant people. It is a Newfoundland and Labrador that is working together to create a competitive economy and a balanced social agenda. It is a Province made up of people confident in their future.

My Government's Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth is working. It is an action-oriented agenda with over 130 specific priorities for action. And fully two-thirds of the priorities for action focus on the challenges confronting rural Newfoundland and Labrador - making it a strong rural agenda as well.

Our economy has been growing. It has become much more diversified. Employment is the most important indicator of a healthy economy. Employment is increasing and reached an all-time historic high of 211,300 in 2001. Newfoundland and Labrador has led or has been among the leading Provinces in economic growth and new employment creation for the past four years. Of the 24,000 jobs created since 1996, two-thirds have been created outside the North East Avalon region, showing continued strengthening of our rural economy. The trend line for all major economic indicators is projected to move in the right direction in the years ahead.

But more needs to be done and more will be done. We need to bring the unemployment rate down even further. We need to ensure that all regions of our Province share in the ongoing economic recovery.

Investment Prospecting

In the Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth, My Government committed to develop an enhanced and focused investment prospecting effort to capture growing national and international investor interest in our Province. My Government will work in partnership with the private sector to develop the right tools and incentives to be a truly competitive force in the marketplace. My Government intends to outline a new and refocused investment prospecting strategy to enhance our investment attraction efforts for the Province. My Government remains steadfast in its commitment to make the right decisions to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador continues to be the right place for business.

Rediscovering Our Offshore

Petroleum developments will continue to drive our economy well into the future. The hard work and investments of the past have yielded two producing fields - Hibernia and Terra Nova - and a strong local industry. White Rose has been given regulatory approval to proceed and now awaits a decision by the project proponents. We must now focus on discovering new resources to fuel the next generation of developments. New fields await discovery in relatively unexplored areas of our offshore. The Jeanne d'Arc Basin defines our industry today. New areas, such as the Flemish Pass and South Whale Basin, will be our tomorrow. Already we are seeing industry move in this direction.

We are now on the verge of opening up vast areas of our offshore to exploration. In a matter of weeks, a federal tribunal will determine a line to separate the offshore areas of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. No matter where that line may fall, it will be good news for both provinces. Jurisdictional certainty will lead to exploration, discovery and development.

My Government is committed to working with industry to encourage increased and aggressive exploration of our offshore. That means taking steps to improve our competitive position world-wide, increasing regulatory efficiency and heightening promotional efforts. My Government will work hard to secure the future growth of this industry and our Province.

Forum on the Offshore

My Government is committed to a strategic focus in developing the offshore industry, particularly with respect to the natural gas industry. My Government will hold a Forum on the Offshore involving government, industry and labour, and other important stakeholders. The Forum will provide guidance to My Government on the potential to expedite natural gas development for the benefit of the people of the Province.

Major Projects

Major projects such as Voisey's Bay and the Lower Churchill development can generate significant employment and economic activity for Labrador as well as other parts of the Province. My Government will continue to pursue major projects that maximize economic benefits and opportunities in Newfoundland and Labrador. That is My Government's mandate from the people of the Province.

Small Business

My Government also recognizes that a balance needs to be struck between larger scale development projects and the need to foster the growth of small enterprises in all areas of the Province. My Government committed in its Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth to give greater priority and emphasis to small business development and has implemented a number of new initiatives in recent years to stimulate this important part of our economy. A Small Business Advisory Council will be established to accelerate this effort and provide ongoing advice and support to My Government in this area.

Coordinated Approach to Address Foreign Overfishing

The fishery has been the backbone of our economy for centuries and it will be a central part of our future. Although the fishing industry has undergone significant structural change in the last decade, some of the communities have yet to recover from the collapse of groundfish resources. One of the key challenges the industry is now facing is the return of foreign overfishing on the Grand Banks, which will compromise the recovery of several key groundfish stocks. My Government will work with the industry and the union to develop a coordinated approach to ensure that the Government of Canada acts decisively, and is successful, in convincing foreign countries to adhere to strict conservation practices.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

The Environment

My Government recognizes the links between the quality of our environment, the strength of our economy and the health of our people.

Natural Heritage Stewardship

The rugged beauty and wildlife diversity of our Province have sustained our unique culture for centuries, fostering in our people an intense love for and interest in the outdoors. To this day, our people rely heavily on the wildlife on our land, and the fish in our waters, and new generations stand ready to pursue these traditions of their ancestors. Demonstrating and facilitating leadership in this area is of paramount importance to My Government.

We must not take our natural heritage, nor our vibrant traditions that are centered upon it, for granted. We must act prudently, but decisively, in striking a balance between development and environmental protection. In this regard, My Government is determined to act to ensure that the Province's natural heritage wealth is not squandered, but managed for generations to come.

In keeping with this approach, My Government has established a Ministerial Council on the Use of Outdoor Resources and, in the coming year, My Government intends to dedicate substantive resources towards improved wildlife science. My Government will establish at Memorial University a new Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science, an innovative partnering arrangement that will coordinate opportunities and activities associated with natural science, research and development. My Government will also continue to press the federal government to live up to its responsibility for inland fisheries management and enhancement.

Safe Drinking Water

My Government will continue to implement its action plan to improve drinking water quality. It will increase the number of inspectors. It will increase the frequency of water testing. It will continue to provide funding to municipalities to install or upgrade chlorination equipment and provide appropriate training for municipal operators. And My Government will keep the public informed of the results of its testing program, consistent with its openness and accountability agenda.

Solid Waste Management

In last year's Throne Speech, My Government articulated its intention to develop a long-range strategy to address waste management and to seek the views of individuals, communities and other interested parties on that strategy. Extensive consultations occurred last summer and fall and a final report, A Call to Action on Environmental Protection, which provided recommendations for government on how to proceed with modern waste management, was publicly released.

The people of the Province have told us that we must improve our waste management practices. Citizens have also told us that waste management is the collective responsibility of individuals, communities, businesses, industries, and government. My Government will be outlining a multi-year, province-wide waste management strategy with the overall objective being to divert 50 per cent of the materials currently going to disposal by the year 2010, and to phase out the use of existing incinerators with the implementation of modern waste management systems.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Looking to the Future

In the past decade, My Government has had to face many challenges. In the early 1900s, our people understood hardship first-hand as the groundfishery collapsed and governments reined in spending. My Government met those challenges head-on, and with its new leadership will emerge from the lingering doubts these challenges created.

This Province is at a point where its people are able to reach out to the future and touch opportunity with their collective fingertips. Through its action agenda, My Government will support the people of the Province in extending their reach and grasping future opportunities, many of which are based in Labrador, in a manner which is unparalleled.

With this decade serving as a fresh beginning, we are able to stand proudly with a bright future ahead of us. My Government will commit it energies to help each Newfoundlander and Labradorian boldly step forward with a confidence that demonstrates our true capacity for excellence around the world. The people of the Province can look forward to the next decade, knowing that it will belong to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Securing our Place for the Future

My Government has built its record to date on positive change, and it will continue to provide concrete results in the future. Today, My Government has set out its agenda for the coming year. It is bold. It is ambitious. It is also one against which the people of the Province can judge us. Today is also an appropriate time to reflect on how our Province has changed in the five decades since Confederation.

Newfoundland and Labrador's entry into Canada in 1949 was an extraordinary event. Few would disagree that much has changed in the Province since Confederation. We are a more educated people. Our demographic profile has changed dramatically. The fishery today bears no similarity to the fishery of fifty years ago. We have become more diverse and, because of our willingness to embrace advances in information technology, we are no longer constrained by geography. Our youth are global in their thinking and their views. For them, the Internet has all but eliminated borders and cultural differences.

The international achievements of the College of the North Atlantic, and indeed the reference to "the North Atlantic", demonstrates how we see ourselves in a globalized world. The ten-year, $500 million contract which the College signed with the State of Qatar illustrates the types of opportunities available to Newfoundland and Labrador in the global economy.

For the past ten years, My Government has laid the groundwork for government to move forward with its people. Education reform, sound fiscal management and social and economic planning initiatives have prepared government to manage for the future. It is timely for us to reflect, and to look at ourselves and the goals we share for our society.

Royal Commission

To this end, My Government will establish a Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada.

The Commission's mandate will be to involve the people of the Province in seeking a broad consensus on a vision to position ourselves in the global community, to renew our relationship with Canada, to complete a critical analysis of our strengths and weaknesses and to provide direction for the decade to come. It will address, among other things, who we were when we joined Canada in 1949, how we have changed over the past five decades, our relationship with other governments, our contribution as a society and where we see ourselves in the future. The Commission will have a broad mandate to undertake necessary research and conduct public consultations in the Province. Further details regarding the Royal Commission and its Terms of Reference will be announced in the near future.

We are at a crossroads. A review of where we have come from and our present circumstances will help us create the future that we as a people want and deserve.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Our future is bright and full of promise. We can take pride in our accomplishments but we shall not rest on them. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians know where My Government is heading. They know its priorities. They know that it has made, and will continue to make, the right choices.

There is no doubt that Newfoundland and Labrador's best days lie ahead. My Government will remain focused in order to meet the high expectations we have of ourselves, and our people have of their government.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

Estimates of Expenditures will be laid before you in due course and you will be asked to grant supply to Her Majesty. I invoke God's blessing upon you as you commence your labours in this Fourth Session of the Forty-Fourth General Assembly. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.

His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor and the Vice-Regal party leave the Chamber.

Mr. Speaker returns to the Chair.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I shall on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting Environmental Protection," Bill 1.

Motion, the hon the Government House Leader to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting Environmental Protection," carried. (Bill 1)

On motion, Bill 1 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to make a Speech to the Members of the General Assembly and we will now take a few minutes to have the Speech distributed to all members of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker

Mr. Speaker and hon. members of this House, it is with great pleasure that I rise in response to the Speech from his Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.

Mr. Speaker, as the Lieutenant Governor said in the Speech from the Throne, this was the first time that a Speech from the Throne had been televised in this Province. This is a major change from the past, and it is part of government's overall approach to openness and accountability.

In the coming months we will be dealing with many of the matters raised in the Throne Speech. People will have an opportunity to view their elected representatives in action, and to examine what they are saying on the issues that face Newfoundland and Labrador. The viewers will see a government taking on issues and finding the best solutions for this Province.

My Speaker, his Honour mentioned the pride of place the people of this Province have. This is certainly true in the historic District of Port de Grave, which I am honoured to represent. This pride of place is evident in the many people I meet as I attend events in the district. I am often moved by the commitment which they have to their community and to the whole Province. It is something which I think few other places in the world can match. We are unique in many ways and we should value our cultures, our heritage, our lifestyle. We have a lot to be proud of.

Mr. Speaker, pride of place and a recognition of the uniqueness of our Province can also provide some guiding principles for the way we govern ourselves. Last session, people saw a government that was willing to find solutions that work for this Province on many issues. The establishment of the Petroleum Products Pricing Commissioner is an example that we should not be afraid to break from common practice in other provinces. Before the Commissioner was put in place, many said it would not work and pointed out that other jurisdictions did not have such regulations in place. If we look back over the past year, it is now evident that it does work here in this Province.

While we support a free enterprise system, we must not be afraid to regulate in a way to suit our own unique situation. This does not just hold true for gas price regulations. It has been our approach with the FPI situation as well.

Mr. Speaker, we do not need editorial writers from national media telling us we have to apply some kind of cookie cutter or one-size-fits-all capitalist model to our situation. We are intelligent enough to develop our own plans. We can do without these editorial writers. They know very little about us and seem to care even less about the situation faced by the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have many opportunities for growth. We are open and encouraging to those who want to do business in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we should never be afraid to find our own way of doing things. We should be assertive in the fact that we are a hard-working people and that our concerns need more attention from other parts of Canada. We must be assertive in placing our issues on a national agenda. From the Throne Speech, I just want to point out two issues which I feel are vital to the future of this Province, where we need to change and approach at the national level.

I am pleased to hear mention that government will work with other groups to stop overfishing off our Coast. The Private Member's Motion that I sponsored last Wednesday was on this very issue. During that debate, we all agreed that Canada had to take bold action to solve this problem; but, Mr. Speaker, I sense a feeling that we are just going through the motions.

There was very little media attention to the debate. Some of the longer serving members of this hon. House made the point that what we were doing had been done before, with no action to follow. Mr. Speaker, that may have been the case, but it is more important today than any time in our history that we refocus our attention on this issue. It is important that we strengthen our resolve to see this issue to its proper conclusion. I am pleased to see our government committing itself in the Throne Speech to change on this issue. This issue is very important for my district to remain a viable area such as it is today.

Mr. Speaker, there is another issue which is vital to our Province's future, which was mentioned in the Throne Speech: The government's effort to obtain a fairer arrangement on equalization payments and resource revenues from the federal government. I think this is the most important issue facing our Province today, and I also think it should be a major issue for all Canadians.

Canada is a country that was established and built on the principle that all citizens, no matter which province they live in, should have a right to similar services and opportunities. In fact, this principle is placed right in the Constitution of this country. It is part of what we stand for as a nation. It is part of what makes Canada the best country in the world. However, it saddens me when I realize that this vision of our country is not yet a reality. The fact is that successive federal governments have not kept its constitutional commitment. In fact, we are slipping further away from this objective, one of our founding principles.

It is clear that the current system is not working for Newfoundland and Labrador and, as a Province, we seem trapped in a situation where we will always be on the brink of financial disaster as we work to provide services for the people of this Province. We are trapped in a cycle of dependency. This situation is unacceptable to me, and I am pleased that the current government of this Province is committing to having it changed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: We have the potential to be a stronger Province, and we have the potential to help make Canada even a stronger nation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: It is time, Mr. Speaker, for us, as a country, to reestablish the basic principles that this country was founded on. As I said at the beginning, this issue is vital to our future.

We are entering a period of resource development in this Province which may be the last chance we have had in a long time to break the cycle of dependency, but we will not break that cycle of dependency unless there are changes at the federal level. Unless there is a new approach, the way things are now most of the benefits from our new resource development goes to the federal government rather than this Province. The way things are now we have no way of getting ahead. There is no way out of the cycle with the current system, and that is why it has to be changed.

I am pleased that Premier Grimes and the government have decided to make this a very important cause. We have to change attitudes all across this country. Yes, we even have to make changes with attitudes here in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to start speaking out and convincing all Canadians that things have to change. If we succeed, Newfoundland and Labrador will be a better place, and also Canada will be a better country. Yes, Mr. Speaker, the people of my district will continue to work with this government to see that our tremendous growth continues.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that we will have a Royal Commission to look at renewing and strengthening our place in Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: I think such a commission will bring focus to important issues which face us, as a Province, as we embark on the beginning of the twenty-first Century, issues like management of the fishery resources off our coast and equalization that is so important to this Province.

In conclusion, I would like to thank His Honour for his attendance here today and I move that a Select Committee be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to stand here today to accept a motion put forward by my colleague, the Member for Port de Grave. It is also a pleasure for me to stand today as the Member for the riding of Torngat Mountains representing the small communities in Northern Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with emotion and great pride as His Honour, in his Speech from the Throne, talked about the important role that Labrador will play in the future of this Province.

I stood on opening day of the last session in this House and spoke of how proud I was to see the name of the Province changed from Newfoundland, to Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, at 5:00 this morning, as I boarded the Air Labrador flight to fly back to St. John's, traces of dawn broke in the eastern sky. I watched twenty minutes later as the golden Labrador sun rose in all its glory and cast a glow over the big land known as Labrador. As the aircraft gained altitude and flew over the vast land, I could not help but realize the words of the late Harry Paddon when he wrote in his song of the Ode to Labrador, "Thy proud resources waiting still, Their splendid task will soon fulfill...".

Mr. Speaker, Labrador will play a key role in the future of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, the Province, Canada, and many times the world, see the severe problems that the Aboriginal communities face in Northern Labrador. There are times when we slipped, there are times when we stumbled, but we always managed to gain both hands on the wheel and steady the course for our children and their future, and a brighter future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, this government has brought many changes to the North Coast of Labrador; new roads, new schools, better housing, better employment opportunities. As we talk of the development of Voisey's Bay and the Lower Churchill, and to see the potential of large quantities of natural gas off the Coast of Labrador, we realize the important role that Labradorians will play in the future of this Province.

No greater commitment can be given to the people in Labrador than the commitment made by this government last year: the development of a new department, the Department of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, spearheaded by an Aboriginal, my colleague, the Member for Lake Melville.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Also, for the role that I was asked to play as Parliamentary Secretary for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs. Mr. Speaker, no doubt that this office, with its head office in Goose Bay, and staff will play a key role for the people in Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we have reached an agreement in principle with the Labrador Inuit Association, which brings them closer to a land claims deal. We have seen the process of fast track negotiations introduced and accepted by the Innu Nation. This Province has made a commitment to do everything that the Province is responsible for to work side by side with the Metis nation as they strive to move ahead in their goals.

Access North 2002, are celebrations based on Labrador this coming year. I invite every person in this Province to come to the big land and see our beauty and our wealth. While we are in the process of developing our tourism industry in Northern Labrador, I want to congratulate the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair who so often brags of what their role has brought to her communities, and how it brought her communities together in fellowship and improved with better employment.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I want to congratulate the Member for Port de Grave on his words of wisdom this afternoon. It certainly is an honour for me to stand and second his motion.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I must say it is indeed an honour for me to be here today as Leader of the Opposition. I thank the people of Humber West, some of whom are in the gallery this afternoon, for granting me this honour. I am also very proud to be part of this day and this Throne Speech under the new name of our Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Just the ceremony itself, I must say, is overwhelming, to be quite frank. I sat here and thought of what Abby might say, my granddaughter, and Abby would have said: It is awesome, Poppy. I think that is probably the best way to describe the setting here today.

On behalf of myself and the members of the Opposition, I would like to express gratitude to their Honours, Lieutenant-Governor Max House and Mrs. House, for the delivery of the Throne Speech today setting up the government agenda for the year.

As well, on a personal note, Governor House and Mrs. House were neighbours of myself, Maureen, and the family for many years, the most wonderful neighbours you could possibly ask for. I commend them and thank them for the combination of dignity, warmth and friendliness they have brought to the office, which I think has endeared them for everyone (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to welcome today all the many visitors that we have here in the gallery, as well as on the floor of the Legislature. Some of whom have already left: the Hon. Chief Justice, hon. judges of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, esteemed Heads of State, municipal leaders, leaders of our police forces, the Armed Forces, distinguished guests, including today - actually, we have four premiers in the House - the Hon. Premier Grimes, of course we had Chief Justice Wells, a former Premier, Premier Tulk and, of course my colleague, Premier Rideout. We certainly acknowledge their presence today and the major contribution that they have made to this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Most importantly, Mr. Speaker, we welcome the people. The people who are here in the Legislature today, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the people who have joined us through television today to watch these proceedings.

Mr. Speaker, today is both a traditional and ceremonial day and not a time for rigorous or even raucous, partizan, political debate. I will attempt to stay away from that but if I deviate ever so slightly, forgive me. We will certainly try to keep things in the proper decorum and keep things under control given the ceremonial occasion today.

I do not intend to deal specifically with the Throne Speech today, I will reserve my comments for a later time. In fact, possibly after the Budget on Thursday because the Budget is really the document and the presentation that puts the meat on the bones or otherwise exposes the bare bones that are left afterwards. We will reserve our comments until that time, Mr. Speaker.

What I would like to do today though, I would like to address what I think is singularly the greatest challenge which faces the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the challenge of out-migration of our people. Just last week we received the results of the Census of 1996-2001. The results were not good. In fact, it was in the hearts and minds, and on the tongues of people all around the Province; in kitchens, garages, and stores. I do not think people were surprised by the results but they were overwhelmed by the magnitude of the results. In those five years 40,000 people have left our Province, and since 1993 over 60,000 people have left our Province. The greatest loss of any Province in the country. In fact, now our deaths are exceeding our births.

In my own district alone, the City of Corner Brook, it is in excess of 8 per cent; the loss in that community over the last five years. In Stephenville it is in excess of 8 per cent. In Deer Lake it is in excess of 8 per cent. Gaskiers over 21 per cent; Long Harbour 23 per cent; Trepassey, greater than 18 per cent. It is spread all over our Province, Mr. Speaker. It is spread mainly through rural Newfoundland and Labrador but the number 40,000, even though it is a big number, is meaningless unless we put it into prospective. If we woke up tomorrow morning and all the homes in Corner Brook and all the homes in Mount Pearl were boarded up, closed and vacated, that is the impact of 40,000 people leaving our Province. We would be overwhelmed. It would be the greatest social tragedy that ever struck the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, our Country of Canada. That is the magnitude of this problem.

As I said before, I was not surprised but I was surprised by the magnitude. I have had the opportunity, since I entered politics, to tour in detail this wonderful Province of ours. It really came home to me on the Northern Peninsula in January of last year. I had the strangest feeling, an eerie feeling, as I drove through both districts with the now Member for The Straits and the Member for St. Barbe. I had an eerie feeling of people not being around as we drove through Eddy's Cove, St. Barbe, Savage Cove and Parsons Pond and St. Pauls and River of Ponds. What I noticed - a strange feeling - was there were no people around. There were no people walking the streets. Most importantly, I remember on one three-day stretch I only seen two children walking the streets in three days. A very serious and a very troubling sign.

I remember distinctively, two other situations. I went into a seniors' home in St. Anthony and met a wonderful gentleman - I would suggest probably in his mid-seventies or early eighties. I detected when I went in, that obviously his politics were not similar to mine. However, he was very charming and we spent twenty minutes having an absolutely wonderful conversation. I noticed that the walls were full of three generations of people; perhaps fifty, sixty or seventy pictures on the wall of different people. I asked him: Who are these people? Who are they? Are they your daughters and granddaughters? He said: yes, they are my sons and daughters, my granddaughters and their children. Three generations on the wall. I said it must be wonderful. It must be fabulous to have them here in the community with you, to have all these people around you. He said: they are all gone, every one of them are gone. This man was alone in St. Anthony. The godfather of dozens and dozens and generations and generations of people, and they were all gone.

We stopped at another home. It was a cold winter night I remember, but I cannot remember the community it was in. We went to a home and a woman answered the door. We had a wonderful conservation with her, as we had all through the districts. I asked her just basically about her life and what was going on. She was there alone. All her children had gone away to the mainland to work and her husband was gone and returned once a year. Another sad situation. What is happening, the sadness of this, is that our families are breaking apart. Not only is there out-migration, but our families are splitting up. That is serious business because how can we continue as a society if our families are broken up? That is something we have deal with. That is something we have to address.

Another sign of the times, a sign of the troubled times are our schools. I attended several schools throughout the Province. Most recently, I attended a school in Port aux Basques and I attended a school in Placentia. In the school in Port aux Basques there was a wall of pictures again, happy faces, smiling faces, proud children who had graduated and felt very good about themselves. As you started from the late 1980s up to the late 1990s you could see the smiles continue but the heads diminished and the numbers diminished. By the time you got to the most recent graduation pictures it was probably less than one-third of the children that were there before. A troubling sign.

Again, the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's and myself went to Laval High School and sat down and talked to a Grade IX Social Studies class - Mr. Russ Pittman's class, if I remember correctly. We had a great chat. We were there for about half an hour and we talked about various things. I said: How many of you are going to stay home and how many of you are going to leave? The ones who were leaving, every hand except two went up in the class. There were only two out of a class of probably about thirty or more children. Only two were actually going to stay. I asked: why? They said there is no future, there are no jobs, there is nothing for us here. Then, after, I said to them, "Okay, if there are jobs, if there is opportunity, how many of you would stay?" All of them put up their hands, except two, who would leave. Just the opposite of the previous situation. The sad thing is that they have given up hope for the future. The nice thing is that they still love their community, they still love their Province, and they were prepared to stay if we provided them with opportunity.

That motivates me, Mr. Speaker. That motivates me. It gives me the strength and the conviction to try and find solutions. Honourable members opposite, from time to time, talk about success stories; and there are some wonderful, wonderful success stories in this Province. One that comes to mind is a gentleman I met at Heathrow Airport yesterday, Chris Griffiths, one of the greatest success stories in the Provinces, a young man who has built a wonderful, wonderful business. He is a credit to the Province. We do hear about the success stories, and those people are mentors and role models for the rest of the children and for the young people in this Province.

However, when I hear the Minister of Industry, Trade and - and I did refer to him as the Minister of Industry, Trade and no Rural Development, and I apologize to him for that. That was done in debate, and I should have said the Minister of Industry, Trade and very little Rural Development. Anyway, every time he gets on his feet, he talks about how wonderful things are. How great he art. In fact, he talks about the GDP, and how we have the highest GDP in the country in GDP growth. He talks about the strength of the economy. He talks about how employment numbers are going up. What does that mean to the ordinary, average Newfoundlander? I cannot believe that he stands on his feet and talks about how great things are and how wonderful things are.

I was with the Town Council in Placentia, where they talk about 72 per cent unemployment. In caucus, just the other day, the Member for Bonavista talked about a community with over 90-odd per cent unemployment in his community. I talked to Melita Fillier in Englee, about where she is going to get the next meal on her table. These are people who do not agree with the hon. minister. These are people who are living the harsh, stark reality of being out there and not seeing it happen, and it isn't happening.

We were over on Bell Island just a week-and-a-half ago, a very proud community, desolate, barren, homes boarded up, probably reduced to about one-third of the population it was in boom times. It is a sad commentary. The only new businesses that are opening up are businesses that get liquor licences, but there is nobody going in there. There is nobody going in to drink. They get their liquor licences so they can get video lottery licences, so that they can suck the last few dollars out of the few people who are left in the community. That is sad.

A lot of our revenues are coming from gambling, from liquor, and from prohibitive payroll taxes. That is where it is going. It is not a great story. We have to start realizing what is actually going on out there. We are only creating minimum wage jobs.

It is time for action, Mr. Speaker. The solutions that are being proposed and have been proposed over the years simply are not working. We are losing our people. They are going. They are going, gone. If 40,000 people have left our Province, there are less people to buy groceries, to buy gas. There are less people to pay taxes. There are less people to get haircuts. There are less people to go to the hardware store. The ripple down effect to the economy, all the way down. It trickles down, right to the bottom. So, the people who provide these services, then they have to leave, and we would be on a death spiral. That is what happens. That is the result of all of this. We have to realize that we have a very, very serious problem. Don't pump us up with all the wonderful things, the empty rhetoric that is in that Throne Speech, which was really nothing more than a year in review, which was all it was. A lot of policies that were there from the Tories over the years. I heard lots of the ones that the Tories had espoused. That is all that was there. At the end of the day, what is happening is, our economy is in a downturn.

Look at Ireland. Thirty-five years ago in Ireland, 60,000 people were leaving annually. They have turned that around. Now, in fact, 20,000 people are coming into their country annually. They did it! They did it with a plan. They did it with co-operation, with people working together, understanding what the problem was.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WILLIAMS: Absolutely. We have said it for years, but you live in a fool's paradise. You sit there and you talk about how everything is so wonderful. Ask the people out there. Ask them. Ask them if they think it is wonderful. It is not so wonderful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: The place to start, Mr. Speaker, is with our resources. We need to start and we need to deal with those who want to exploit our resources. No more giveaways. Look at our fishery. That is why we were so concerned ten months ago about the fishery, about FPI, because we saw what was going to happen. We knew what was going to happen, and we were very concerned about it. We should be concerned about the fact that most of our processing in the fishery is done outside our Province. We need to be concerned about adjacency. The fishery is the lifeline of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Oil and gas: Our oil is the greatest contributor to GDP. What does that mean? It means nothing. They put it on a ship and it leaves Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not processed here. Nothing happens to it here. It drives up our GDP number. So what? It comes in, it goes into holding tanks in Whiffen Head, and then it is shipped out. It is not processed in this Province. Gone!

The royalties: Where do the royalties go when we finally collect the royalties? They go to the federal government. Not only do we lose the oil; when we get a royalty from the oil, the federal government claws that away so we do not even get the royalties.

We have been suffering in silence. I suppose this government is going to have a commission. It is about time. It is about time they took on their Liberal friends in Ottawa.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: The iron ore in Lab City, it left Lab City to go to Quebec. What happens? Lab City has a population decline of 8.4 per cent. And Voisey's Bay, which Inco described as the largest cobalt, copper, nickel discovery in the world. I has an interesting conversation with the councils of Placentia and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. High unemployment in those communities, 72 per cent in Placentia, and do you know what those councils said to myself and the member? They said: We do not want a deal at any cost.


MR. WILLIAMS: They are not prepared to give it away.

What do you want? That is the question. What does this government want in a deal? Let me read what this government said in the 1999 Throne Speech. That was three Premiers ago.

MR. E. BYRNE: They were all there, by the way.

MR. WILLIAMS: They were all ministers at the time.

I quote from the 1999 Throne Speech, "A loud and clear message has been sent to INCO by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador: there will be no mine at Voisey's Bay unless the ore is processed in this province. That is the choice. It is INCO's to make."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: "My Government's position - the position of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - will not waver." That was the position of Premier Tobin.

MR. E. BYRNE: So they got a mandate.

MR. WILLIAMS: It was a mandate. That was the mandate they got from the people of this Province.

He wasn't talking weasel words about equivalent ore. He was talking about the actual ore leaving the Province. That is the commitment that came in the 1999 Throne Speech.

When the ore goes to Sudbury, Newfoundlander and Labradorians are going to leave this Province and follow.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, my comments are not political. They are quite sincere.


MR. WILLIAMS: Honourable members may laugh, because they laugh at the condition of this Province. They laugh about out-migration. They laugh at 40,000 Newfoundlanders leaving this Province. I cannot laugh at that. I am sorry, I cannot share your laughter.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: We should not be shipping out raw materials. We should be taking in raw materials.

Also during my trip to Argentia, I went to Epoch Rock. A wonderful project. What they are doing is actually taking in raw materials from other countries and bringing them into our Province, processing them and shipping them out and making money on them. So they are using our skilled work force, our high-class technology, and also our strategic location, to take in the raw materials and then ship them back out at a profit.

I was also at North Atlantic; the same thing. They take raw materials from outside the Province, bring it into the Province, process it, put our people to work, and then they ship it back out. Why can't we do that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: We need a change of attitude. That is what we need in this Province, and that is my point, Mr. Speaker. We need a winning attitude, to give those children in Placentia the hope that they deserve.

Your Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada is something that I have talked about and our caucus, our Party, has talked about time and time and time again. Jump on the bandwagon. No problem. Anything you do that can help this Province and help its people, we will support, unequivocally.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: I can tell you what needs to be done with the federal government. They need to be hit over the head with a mallet. That is what the federal government needs. That is exactly what they need, because they are stripping our people of their dignity. They need to understand the difference between have not and have. The first thing that the commission should recommend is the erection of a sign at Port aux Basques, that says: We would appreciate, when you come to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, if you do not mention the names: Pearson, Trudeau or Chrétien.

Do you know why? Because Pearson stole away the Upper Churchill on us. If Pearson had given us a corridor, we would not be losing a billion dollars a year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: The second Prime Minister, Trudeau, what did he do? He did everything in his power to prevent us from getting benefits from offshore oil and gas - absolutely everything. He and Marc Lalonde tried to stop us at the gate, but Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney did not. So that is the second Prime Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: What does the third Liberal Prime Minister do?


MR. WILLIAMS: These are serious matters. Excuse me, these are very, very serious matters.

What has the third Liberal Prime Minister done? Mr. Chrétien? He claws back our future. He removes our chance to get ahead. He takes our royalties. He will take 90 per cent from the Inco deal, if a deal is done. That is what he will take.

That is the contribution that those three Liberal Prime Ministers have given to this Province. That is the emphasis that Royal Commission should put on those three (inaudible).

Finally, Mr. Speaker, a final point: I asked Mr. Pittman's class in Placentia what they expected -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WILLIAMS: The hon. minister has to be nasty on all occasions. Just behave yourself, Minister, just until we get to the point. There is no need. This is a very serious matter.

Mr. Speaker, the final question, the final point which has to be made, is one that I put to the Grade 9 social studies class in Placentia. I asked them what they expected of their elected officials. One young woman said, she just wants politicians to keep their promises because they don't.

There is a big message in that for all us, because that is the impression of school children in our Province. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that our Party won't make any financial promises, because we won't. We are not making any commitments to people on a financial basis. The reason is, we don't know - but we will have a better idea after Thursday - in what kind of a fiscal mess you are going to deliver this Province to us at the end of the day.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: The second promise that we won't make is: We won't promise to stop out-migration. We can't promise to stop out-migration, but we will commit to do absolutely everything in our power to prevent it, to reverse it, and to create meaningful employment for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As I have said before as well, Mr. Speaker, we will put politics aside and we will commit to support anything that is worthwhile, that creates maximum benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, that your government puts forth. We will support it unequivocally, and that is our commitment.

The final commitment that we will make is: We will not stand by and allow this government to give away our resources without a fight from us, and you can take that to the bank!

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to take the opportunity to respond to the Speech from the Throne in the manner that we are accustomed to, to recognize the Gracious Speech from the Throne from the Lieutenant-Governor, representative of Her Majesty -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - and to thank His Honour and Her Honour for their years of service in the Office of Lieutenant-Governor under our Constitution.

It is, as most people know, perhaps the last year and the last Throne Speech to be read by the Lieutenant-Governor, and I am very pleased to be here and to participate in the first Speech from the Throne on the occasion of this Province being officially constitutionally recognized as Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I want to again acknowledge that this is a ceremonial occasion and the people who are able to watch this on television did not even see the whole of the ceremony where there was, prior to the Speech from the Throne itself, an Honour Guard of representatives from the Canadian Forces and from our two police forces, the RCMP and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and also the firefighters and Penitentiary Guards, all part of a colorful ceremony for the opening of the House of Assembly for this session. It is something that we recognize as part of our Constitution, our guests here representing the consulates of various countries as well, so it is a very formal occasion in that sense and we do acknowledge that.

It is also, Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the Speech from the Throne, but it is actually the government's program. It is the government's speech, and it is the government who, under our Constitution, provides the speech for His Honour to read, and it is from that speech that we get the message that the government wants to send about its program, about its vision, and about its future.

I will get to that in a moment and I will try not to be too partisan in my remarks, although inevitably, of course, in a political forum that is part of our role.

I want to say, in following up a little bit on the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition about out-migration, I share with him the sentiment and the concern of members of this House, and members of this Province, about out-migration and the potential damage that it can do to our Province, to our families and to our future.

In my own family, there are eight children in our family. Four of us live and work in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and four live and work in other provinces of Canada. That is the history of many people and many families in this Province.

I have to say that the sentiment that was repeated back to the House, that seems to be afoot in certain places in the Province, particularly amongst our school children - that is where I am most concerned about it - is the notion that we have an assumption that there is no future and there are no jobs in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I find that to be something that we - all of us in this House of Assembly - should do everything we possibly can to turn around in the minds of young people, old people, and all people in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: This is not to assign credit or blame to any side of the House. The reality is that there are more people working today in Newfoundland and Labrador than there have ever been, despite the fact that we have a reduction in population.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: That is not to credit this government or to blame the previous government or anybody. It is a fact of life; but, it is something that everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador should recognize and ensure that, for those young people who are looking for a future, there is a future for them here in Newfoundland and Labrador -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: - and it is our job, whoever is in government, whoever is in this House, to make sure that future is as bright as can be.

I have to recognize as well that the principal cause of the losses over the last number of years has to be related to the fishery, and the collapse of the fishery, the cod motorium, and the fallout from that. That is the principal reason why so many people have left in the last number of years. It was delayed by the TAGS program, the post-TAGS program, and other efforts to try and ameliorate the losses, but the fact of the matter is that our principal natural resource, our reason for existence, our reason for settlement, our reason for development, first and foremost, the fishery, had a major and significant collapse, and there had to be a price for that, both in terms of the economy, in terms of population; and, sadly, we have seen it pay. But what it does do, in recognizing that, it does tell us one thing and leave us with one sentiment, and that is that the resources of this Province, whether they be the fishery, whether they be other renewable resources such as the forestry, such as hydroelectric development, or whether they be non-renewable resources, that these are a sacred trust; that everybody in this Legislature who has some influence on how they are developed, for whose benefit they are developed, and the manner in which they are developed, has, as a principal guiding light, that these are a sacred trust for the present and the future of this Province for generations to come.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: That explains why, in this House of Assembly, we argue, debate, and point fingers and blame whenever we feel the need to, as to what is the nature of that development.

But, as I was listening to the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, I was thinking about three years ago when we got an election and, not this government, the members of this government, were elected under a new Premier, and the principal issue - in fact, the Premier of the day wanted to make it the only issue in the election - was: which person, or which party, or which individual, will sit down and negotiate a Voisey's Bay deal and a Churchill Fall's deal. That was what was attempted, to make the only issue and the principal issue of the election the contest of which of three leaders will be the one that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador want to sit down and negotiate these deals.

What do we see in the Speech from the Throne three years later? Two sentences? Two sentences. The first one mentions the two deals, the two undertakings or potential undertakings. The second sentence says: We will continue to pursue.

That is it, three years later. In that three years, we saw a shrimp allocation to Prince Edward Island, of 1,500 tons. Not to Prince Edward Island. Not even to the fishermen or the people of Prince Edward Island, but to a business interest in Prince Edward Island, and the Minister of Fisheries of Canada saying: Well, this was part of our job as the Canadian Government to achieve some fairness between the four Atlantic Provinces over a Canadian resource, the shrimp fishery off Newfoundland's Coast.

We saw during those three years, the recognition - because the figures were made available, in fact, I made them available through a press conference - that under the Voisey's Bay proposal on the table, through the Federal Environmental Review Process, the figures made available to the public were that if the Voisey's Bay deal went ahead under the current fiscal arrangements and taxation system, that there would be a benefit to the Government of Canada of $4.9 billion and to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador $411 million or $417 million. A ten-to-one advantage for the taxpayers and people of Canada over the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for a resource within provincial jurisdiction, within provincial boundaries in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have come to see the equalization formula as an enemy of progress in Newfoundland and Labrador, as an enemy of self-sufficiency, as an enemy of any kind of self-reliance in determining our own future and determining our own priorities. While we have an issue, not where there is no future or there are no jobs in this Province, but we do have a situation where there is no real equity in this Province, Mr. Speaker, either internally - and I think it has been mentioned, rural Newfoundland in terms of inequity, in terms of lack of jobs, lack of opportunity. We also see it between individuals, Mr. Speaker, where the gap between the wealthy, those who have well more than they need to sustain them and those who have not enough. We see that growing, we see that developing, and we see that becoming something that more and more has to be changed.

We have people who are living on social assistance with not enough food to eat, with not enough money to buy food to eat. We see children going to school hungry. The figures are usually represented as approximately 25 per cent of school children going to school hungry. Yet, we have a school lunch program that is only available to about 10 per cent of the schools in our Province. We have a student debt-load that in its own way forces students to leave this Province because they have to get the maximum paying job, wherever they can get it, to get rid of their student loans so that they can hope to have a future instead of having a program that sees them being able to take on their future here in this Province and make their future and our future together.

Mr. Speaker, we have an offshore resource, which despite the words of the Atlantic Accord, we are not the major beneficiary of the offshore resources. We see a royalty regime that really has not been fully discussed or debated or accepted in this Province. We have seen the development and maturing of the Hibernia project and we have seen the value of the oil itself turning our GDP numbers, putting them way up but the return to the people of this Province have not been anywhere near what we should have. A pittance, Mr. Speaker, compared to the value of the resource. We did not hear, in the Throne Speech, any recognition of that inequity and any recognition that that must change.

Mr. Speaker, when I was listening to the Speech from the Throne I thought of a glass of Ginger Ale; a glass of Ginger Ale left for hours and hours on a table getting flatter and flatter. I did not see any vision and I did not see any solutions to the problems other than: we will continue to support this, we will continue that way, we will continue to plan. I felt that way throughout the speech, Mr. Speaker, until finally at the end there was a little sparkle; a little sparkle of hope. I think we have to recognize that the Speech from the Throne does contain a sparkle of hope.

I remember in the fall of 1999, at our own convention, publicly questioning the Terms of Union between this Province and Canada; questioning whether we have a deal or an arrangement that is to the benefit of this Province or do we have an arrangement that has contained within it - contained within that arrangement barriers to development, barriers to self-sufficiency, barriers to trying to achieve the kind of equality within Canada that we deserve as a people and seeing that the very basis of our relationship with Canada must be examined and changed and looked at seriously before we can move forward. When we see the numbers on the Voisey's Bay projections, when we see what is happening on the offshore and we seen what happened when our fishery resource was controlled by Ottawa exclusively, we have seen the seeds of damage to our future and hope for our future.

Mr. Speaker, when I heard those words in the Throne Speech about a Royal Commission, I felt a little sparkle of hope because we do have to examine that relationship. The previous speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, talked about Newfoundland and Labrador and growing up in this Province. The principle issue in my childhood - we talked about Confederation and its importance. In my childhood, the principle political issue of the day - we had a Premier who was in power for twenty-three years - was all about Confederation and the changes that Confederation had brought and wrought in this Province, and it had been enormous. There comes a point, Mr. Speaker, or there came a point when those benefits, when the advantages, when the increase in our average annual income as a percentage of Canada stopped. We have not made the kind of progress in terms of achieving equality that we should. We have not seen us, as a people - not only in terms of people's attitudes towards Newfoundland and Labrador, that is something that is going to be hard for us to change. If they want to call us names they are going to go ahead and do it. I am not worried about that. What I am worried about, Mr. Speaker, is our ability to govern our own future, influence our own future and control our own future. That is something that we have yet to achieve.

So I look forward to a Royal Commission with a broad enough mandate to challenge the Terms of Union themselves, with a sufficient level of credibility and resources at their disposal to examine these fundamental issues and to make recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, while I do not see in the Speech from the Throne a lot of drive - it had to tell us that it was bold and ambitious; we would not have known it from reading it - what I wanted to hear was what this government believes about those issues. We did not really hear it yet, but I would say that there needs to be significant change in the relationship between this Province and Canada before we can achieve the kind of goals that we want.

Mr. Speaker, while the Speech from the Throne itself, I did not find inspiring, there was a sparkle of hope in the Royal Commission, and I hope that this government will follow through with its promise to provide a broad mandate to allow us to examine all of these issues and hopefully build a consensus in this Province that would see significant change for the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will attempt to be brief in my few comments today, out of respect for our guests, particularly our captive audience here on the floor. Some of the others in the public galleries have taken advantage of the opportunity to leave, because they are free to do so. I believe that is a reminder to all of us as to why this is seen as more of a formal perfunctory day rather than a normal debating day, because we do not want to abuse our special guests who have come to be with us. In any event, if you can endure for the next hour-and-a-half, we will let you go, if that is okay with you.

[Laughter from audience.]

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I do, as usual, want to thank His Honour and Mrs. House today for being here and presenting the Speech from the Throne. It shows that your point of view and attitude is everything. Unlike the former speaker, the Leader of the NDP, and the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, I could hardly stay in my seat in terms of being excited about the Speech from the Throne. I was that inspired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: In any event, each person in the Province, having had the advantage of seeing it live, televised for the first time in history, will make their own judgement. We can only say our piece. Each person, because we have an intelligent, very insightful electorate in Newfoundland and Labrador, makes their own judgements about those kinds of things.

I would also like to thank the Member for Port de Grave and the Member for Torngat Mountains for the resolution, the motion and the seconding, that we prepare an Address in Reply. I can only suggest, there are only two words that come to mind for the two speakers, that they both exuded eloquence and passion in terms of what they did (inaudible). Thank you both very much for that today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: The issue with respect to Newfoundland and Labrador, I think the Speech from the Throne is rife with passages that remind us that the name change was more symbolic maybe than something that speaks of opportunity and actual events, but the Throne Speech itself did talk about the fact, several times over, that it will be the view that this government sees. It will be Labrador and developments in Labrador that lead our Province; and, in turn, our Province is most likely going to lead this country in terms of real measures of economic growth, like jobs for people and their families into the next decade.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: I mention this, Mr. Speaker: It was referenced today that when the Chief Justice was here, we did have four Premiers. We had number four. Bobby Orr comes to mind, for the Member for Lewisporte, because there was a great contribution, even though he had a short career. In any event, there was a great contribution made. Number five was the Chief Justice, of course, number seven and number eight for the Province of Newfoundland; but I remind the people that, while I am number eight as Premier of the Province of Newfoundland, it is number one for the newly named Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we intend to move forward with that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is this: Today we are here to look at general types of issues, visionary statements, goals and objectives, rather than entering into specific detailed debate, because we have lots of days ahead of us to do that, and we will. It will be the nature of the kind of debate that started here today that I will not enter into today, other than to say this: There is a little plaque that I keep close to my desk, that I have had with me ever since, I guess, I went to university and started teaching. It says: Attitude is everything.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Attitude is everything about how we deal with issues that confront us here in the Province, because there are a couple of choices. We can look at the size of the problems and difficulties and be consumed by the magnitude of it, and throw our hands up in despair - and I heard part of that here today. I certainly did not hear many solutions offered. I heard a lot about some difficulties that we have. We have a choice; we choose to do both.

Just look at the employment statistics, Mr. Speaker: a record number of people employed, 211,000; still between 30,000 and 40,000 people unemployed. We talk to and represent both groups. We deal with the 211,000 who are delighted to have more of an opportunity in Newfoundland and Labrador than they have ever had before. We do not downplay that. We do not apologize for reminding people of that happening, but we also talk every single day to the 30,000 to 40,000 people who do not share in that yet, and who want to work with us to find a better way so that maybe their circumstance can change and the numbers might go 220,000, 230,000, or 240,000 and the 30,000 number might become 20,000, or 10,000 or zero. We keep working towards that objective and that goal. We do not despair about it. We do not dwell only with the negatives and the fact that some people are not yet sharing in prosperity and still have a difficult circumstance to understand.

We accept the challenge and realize that in it there are some opportunities for us to move forward together and make a difference, which is why we are dealing with the strategic partnership forums. It does not suggest that the government has or should have the answers, but suggests that when we work together, as we have already started and committed to do, in a meaningful fashion, with representatives of workers and labour, with representatives of business and the government itself, then we can learn from models elsewhere, like Ireland, like the Netherlands, like Iceland, and bring the parts that work in Newfoundland and Labrador into play in our Province and make a real difference. We do those kinds of things, so we do not despair. We do not get consumed by the size and magnitude of the difficulty or the problem, but we work at it to try and find constructive solutions.

Again, unfortunately, today we did have at least one of the speakers, the Leader of the Opposition, talk a lot about the size and magnitude of the problem and, par for the course, offer no solutions.

Just to give one example, he did mention the issue in Placentia & St. Mary's, about the school children. The experience is the exact same one that all of us get every single day when we visit, that there are some who do not think there are great opportunities now, and we need to work with that. All of them - we did not even have two who would suggest that they would not want to stay if there were a good opportunity - they would stay. They like Newfoundland. As a matter of fact, they love Newfoundland and Labrador and they want to stay. They hope that some of us in here are doing something to try to give them a better chance and a better opportunity tomorrow than they had today or yesterday. The problem we have is this, in that very case of Placentia & St. Mary's, we have a real prospect for maybe some opportunities related to Voisey's Bay that involves research and development for a new technology to be used in Argentia, but the Leader of the Opposition and the member for the area are against it. They don't want it to happen. Then they will stand up today and use that as an example of a problem in Newfoundland and Labrador, when the federal government is willing to spend $100 million in our Province so that something can happen in their community and their district and they are down there talking to these school children and sharing in despair while speaking against the proposition that could see the actual opportunities come to their hometown, to their region and to their communities.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I want to highlight just two things that come towards the end of the Throne Speech. One of them is the recognition that the migration patterns, both inside the Province and with respect to out-migration outside the Province, are issues for us to confront, to understand and to deal with and to use in our decision-making processes within the government and with our partners in business and in the labour community. The real issue everybody understands - and the real impetus for most of it was the change in the fishery - was the closure of the groundfish sector. People have said many times over that the change in our Province was the equivalent - if it was transplanted and translated into Ontario - of closing the auto industry in Ontario. That is the magnitude of change that has been foisted on this Province, that we have dealt with and still produce record employment numbers despite that. Some people had to leave and could not be accommodated.

What we are looking at now is making sure - because we have some disturbing information that we are sharing with the public with respect to other natural resources; wildlife, inland fish, moose, caribou, rabbits, those kinds of things that are part of the Newfoundland culture, but the big game is also part of a new and growing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador with outfitting, that the state of the actual resource may not be as stable or solid as we would like to think it is or are sometimes led to believe. There is an initiative in the Throne Speech that indicates we are going to set up, with Memorial University and in the Wildlife Division, an institute at the university of renewed science capability inside the Wildlife Division to make sure that we understand completely and totally what is happening to our big game, our small game, our inland fish, so that those people - because we have record numbers who participate in that in Newfoundland and Labrador as part of their culture and heritage, that it will be there for them into the future, and that those who are using those resources to build a brand new industry have some resource to build upon into the future.

There will be initiatives announced in the Budget Speech in a couple of days that give real evidence in support to that, because we do not want to go the route with those natural resources that was followed with respect to some sort of mismanagement of the offshore fish resource, particularly the groundfish and Northern Cod.

The other thing, of course, is the whole notion that it is time - and I think everyone has acknowledged it here today, all the speakers have acknowledged - fifty-three years into Confederation, it is time for us to have a real, genuine, total, frank examination of our place in Canada and Confederation; not that we are talking about leaving or separating or certainly not that we would hit anybody over the head with anything, we are not violent people. I do not have any mallets but I tell you one thing, Mr. Speaker, there is a real issue to be addressed in a meaningful fashion. We want to talk about strengthening our place in Canada, renewing our place in Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Part of that needs to be a look back historically, look at the constitutional arrangement, look at the fiscal economic arrangements, look at all the jurisdiction issues offshore, onshore and elsewhere. All of that needs to be done, and a full Terms of Reference will be disclosed within the next few weeks or so as we deal with this issue and provide an avenue for everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador that has a genuine interest in that issue to come forward and have their case heard and to state their point of view. From all that, then to have a group on behalf of all of us that might point to some real meaningful, constructive directions that we can do because there are many things we have all tried. We have all gone - different stripes of government in this Province - and petitioned the federal government of different stripes and the answer has always been the same. There has been no change. I have made this speech, Mr. Speaker, before. Provincial governments that are Progressive Conservative have approached federal governments that are Progressive Conservative, and nothing has happened. Provincial governments that are Progressive Conservative have approached federal governments that are Liberal, and nothing has happened. Liberal governments in this Province have approached federal governments that are Progressive Conservative, and nothing has happened. Liberal governments today, this Liberal government, is approaching a federal Liberal government every day; the results are totally unacceptable. We need to make sure that we understand that, and that we acknowledge that, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: In looking at those issues in a serious manner, a thoughtful manner, a researched manner, a thorough manner, I am hoping that all of us then can have a better position to collectively take forward to make sure that we are better understood in Canada as to the fact that we are net contributors to this Canadian federation. We are not a drag on Canada. We are very proud contributors to the Canadian federation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I will be surprised, though, if the new history book that was, I guess, promoted here today by the Leader of the Opposition, as to different federal Prime Ministers and what they did or did not do, I am not sure that is going to be the version of it that stands the test of time. There are things historically that will be examined as part of this process, and hopefully again most of the partisanship in terms of political stripe will come out of that debate and we will all try to do it collectively in the best interests of what will promote our cause here in Newfoundland and Labrador for the people we represent and serve.

Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by sincerely thanking His Honour, sincerely thanking the mover, the seconder, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Leader of the NDP, for their contributions to the debate today.

Thank you to our special guests for joining us. I know that we will work as an Assembly here together to prepare the Address in Reply as moved and seconded by the speakers today.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that an Address of Thanks be presented to His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, in reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne with which he has been pleased to open the present session of the House of Assembly.

The members of the Select Committee will be: the Member for Port de Grave; the Member for Torngat Mountains; and the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

Is it the pleasure of the House that this motion be received?

All those in favour of the motion, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Against?

I declare the motion carried.

Notices of Motion

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of Interim Supply to Her Majesty, Bill 2.

I further give notice that I will on tomorrow move the following motion: That this House approve, in general, the budgetary policy of the government.

Further, Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to consider certain resolutions for the granting of Supply to Her Majesty, Bill 3.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do now adjourn.

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