March 30, 2010                              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                 XLVI  No. 6

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today the Chair welcomes the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland; the hon. the Member for the District of Port de Grave; the hon. the Member for the District of Port au Port; the hon. the Member for the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair; the hon. the Member for the District of Cape St. Francis; and, the hon. the Member for the District of Bonavista North.

The hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to recognize and congratulate the Goulds Elementary Kids Eat Smart Club on a successful breakfast celebration to mark nutrition month.

On Monday, March 15, I had the pleasure of attending a special breakfast at the Goulds Elementary, served by the Kids Eat Smart Club. The Kids East Smart Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture and the School Milk Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador teamed up for this breakfast.

Over 400 students took part in a healthy breakfast which included locally produced blueberries, eggs, milk, as well as farmer visits and more. Students were even given the opportunity to plant seeds in their own individual pots to try their hand at farming and growing healthy vegetables.

The Kids Eat Smart Club, along with many partners, did a great job in promoting the value of healthy eating for our youth in natural grown foods included in their breakfast. This program would not be such a success without the many volunteers who assist the preparing healthy meals for our youth and we certainly thank them for their contribution. I would also like to recognize and thank Principal Agnes Brennan for her efforts.

We know through healthy living, including appropriate nutrition and education and healthy foods, our youth will grow and learn in the environment that allows each and every one of them to excel to their full potential.

I ask all members to join me in congratulating the Goulds Elementary Eat Smart Club on their success to date and wish them well in all future endeavours.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Port de Grave.

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On Sunday, March 28, I had the pleasure to join several of my colleagues in attending the 2010 Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador Pageant held here in St. John's at the Arts and Culture Centre.

Thirty-one contestants competed for the title and were scored on interview, academic skills, fitness test and presentation in casual and evening wear. I extend congratulations to all thirty-one young ladies and in particular Somaria Balram of St. John's, Miss Teen Newfoundland and Labrador 2010.

However, Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to two constituents from Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts, Latoya Boland, a Grade 12 student placed as one of the top ten finalists and Jaya Pham, a student in Grade 10 was presented with the People's Choice Award.

Over 800,000 votes were received on the pageant Web site from friends, family and fans as they voted for their favourite for their award as well as a result, Jaya will now be one of the three to represent Newfoundland and Labrador at the Miss Teen Canada - World Pageant.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join me in extending continued success to all contestants, and to wish Jaya Pham all the best as she competes for the Miss Teen Canada - World Pageant.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Port au Port.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CORNECT: Mr. Speaker, in the fall of 2009 author Bill O'Gorman of Lourdes released his second book entitled: Lest We Forget: The Life and Times of Veterans from the Port au Port Peninsula-WWI. In this historical work, Mr. O'Gorman reclaims the histories and the lives of more than 100 men from the Port au Port Peninsula who fought in the First World War. It is very important that as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians we never forget that the freedoms and privileges we enjoy today are ours because of the sacrifices made by men and women during wartime. Women gave their husbands, sons, and brothers, and men fought and died so we could enjoy freedom and democracy.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand here today to give recognition to Bill O'Gorman for his dedication and efforts towards preserving the Port au Port Peninsula's proud heritage of honour and valour during the First World War. Mr. O'Gorman is currently researching for his third book which will feature the lives of men and women on the Port au Port Peninsula who fought in World War II. I strongly encourage Mr. O'Gorman to continue this worthy endeavour.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members of this hon. House to join in recognizing and thanking Mr. Bill O'Gorman for preserving the proud history of our war veterans and wishing him much success in the development of his next book featuring World War II veterans.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in the House today to congratulate David Yetman, a Red Bay native, on receiving the MUN President's Award for Exemplary Service.

Mr. Speaker, David received this award while working as the manager of Knowledge Mobilization at MUN's Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development for his creation of a unique on-line resource and search engine known as This site links community members to the university's research and research projects, a matchmaking feature that is truly unique about It is considered a Google for universities and there is no other system like it in the world. It took four years to develop this Web site at a cost of $1.2 million and the Web site enables users to search through the summaries of more than 1,100 Memorial University projects and profiles of more than 400 researchers, categorized by expertise and geographic region.

Mr. Speaker, more than fifteen Canadian and Australian universities have shown interest in piloting Yaffle. This site has placed graduate students in MUN's Engineering and Biochemistry departments, and has drawn attention from students as far away as Nigeria, India, China, and even from some of the most prestigious American universities such as Yale. Mr. Yetman is confident that it will be moving on to the national and international stage in the near future.

I ask my colleagues in the House of Assembly to join me in extending congratulations to David Yetman on his brilliant innovation and to congratulate him on his new position with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in Toronto, Ontario as their Director of Research Programs and Knowledge Transfer.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KEVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate the Small Business Award winner for the Town of Torbay.

Mr. Speaker, there were three businesses up for this award: Curves in Torbay, which for the past five years have provided excellent customer service while helping women identify and strengthen health and fitness needs; North-East Foundations Limited, which provides concrete forum panels for both residential and commercial building construction. They are leaders in their business with 40 per cent of the local market share.

Mr. Speaker, the winner was District Drugs, a family owned business since 1963. Keith Hogan, current pharmacist, now manages the company, who took over from his father Jack Hogan.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to community involvement, District Drugs is a name the people of Torbay can relate to and the people in the area can relate to. They have been donating and sponsoring different groups and organizations since 1963. They are truly deserving of this award.

I ask all hon. members in this House to join with me in congratulating Keith Hogan and District Drugs in winning the Small Business Award for the Town of Torbay.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Bonavista North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARDING: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to acknowledge the tremendous contribution made to the Bonavista North region by the firemen of Centreville, Wareham, Trinity, and Indian Bay.

Recently I had the honour of attending their annual Fireman's Ball, where 350 people came together to show their appreciation for the organization. An additional 100 individuals were on a waiting list for that event. This level of support is exceptional and it gives a clear indication as to how these volunteers are respected and how their efforts are valued by the community at large.

The brigade covers the communities of Centreville, Wareham, Trinity, and Indian Bay, and this year marked thirty years of service to the region. The brigade has twenty-three members, four of whom are young men who recently stepped forward to volunteer their time and service. Bob Parsons and Calvin Pickett, the elder statesmen of the group, have been serving their fellow citizens in this capacity for twenty-nine years.

The event had additional significance as the local Firettes, with twenty-six members, also celebrated a remarkable twenty-five years of service. Two charter members, Una Parsons and Ann Matthews, are still active with the group.

The Minister of Transportation and Works was guest speaker at the event, and both the minister and I were incredibly impressed by the level of support shown to this extremely important volunteer organization. The work they do in fire prevention, and the protective service they provide, is essential in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and it was wonderful to see the community come together to recognize the efforts and dedication of these fine men and women.

Mr. Speaker, at this time I would ask all members of this hon. House to join with me to thank and show appreciation for the continued service provided by the firemen and firettes of Trinity, Wareham, Centreville and Indian Bay.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources and Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform the House of a recent ruling by the Public Utilities Board that has resulted in the establishment of a water management agreement on the Churchill River between Nalcor Energy and the Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation. The conclusion of this agreement is another step toward sanction of the Lower Churchill Project.

Mr. Speaker, our government moved to regulate the co-ordination of water management on provincial rivers in 2007. This was accomplished through amendments to the Electrical Power Control Act to provide the Public Utilities Board, commonly referred to as the PUB, with the authority to regulate the co-ordination of water management agreements.

These amendments provide certainty over the co-ordination of water flow when two or more operators are on the same river. The Water Management Regulations that accompanied the amendments provide direction to the PUB for the review or establishment of water management agreements.

With that action taken, Mr. Speaker, Nalcor and CF(L)Co officials began discussing a way to reach a water management agreement on the Churchill. However, the proposed agreement that was subsequently reached was rejected by the CF(L)Co board of directors. It is our understanding that none of the Hydro-Quebec directors on the CF(L)Co board supported the agreement, which was a necessary requirement.

As a result, Mr. Speaker, Nalcor Energy applied to the PUB to establish the terms of a water management agreement based on the proposed agreement rejected by the CF(L)Co board of directors. The process provided CF(L)Co with thirty days to make its submission to the PUB.

It is noteworthy, Mr. Speaker, that both CF(L)Co and Hydro-Quebec, in separate submissions to the PUB, supported the version of the agreement filed by Nalcor Energy. Upon review, the PUB established this agreement as the water management agreement to be binding on Nalcor and CF(L)Co.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to note for the House another important part of the PUB ruling. Two Quebec Innu groups have filed objections to water management agreement based on asserted Aboriginal rights. In its ruling, the PUB concluded that this agreement does not have an adverse impact on Aboriginal rights or title and that the project operating regime and Aboriginal consultation are already part of the ongoing environmental review process.

Mr. Speaker, the conclusion of this agreement would not have occurred without the decisive action by this government to regulate the co-ordination of water management agreements in this Province. The rivers in this Province, Mr. Speaker, belong to the people and it is our responsibility to maintain control over our water resource and ensure it is regulated in a way that optimizes the benefits for the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for an advance copy of her statement today.

Mr. Speaker, water management on the Churchill River is a very important component of any deal that could be negotiated or any development that could occur on this particular river. We certainly understand the need of government to press forward to have those particular boundaries more clearly defined.

Mr. Speaker, we certainly see this as another impediment that has been removed in terms of being able to move forward with a negotiation, and we certainly hopes that government will do that in very short order.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I have to question what all the hoopla was about going back a few months ago, because as the minister indicated there was a strong sense from her government that both Hydro-Quebec and CF(L)Co would be opposed to certain components of this. We find out today through the PUB process that they were indeed supportive of the presentation put forward by Nalcor corporation.

Mr. Speaker, I can only imagine that it was just another media ploy again and that they did not have a fair understanding of where these particular companies were coming from.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to hear the ruling regarding the Quebec Innu –


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: - that has been outlined in the particular statement, because, Mr. Speaker, the issues with the Quebec Innu do have to be dealt with and they have to be dealt with by the government in this Province. Mr. Speaker, we cannot continue other –


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the hon. Opposition leader; I ask members for their co-operation.

The hon. member.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can understand why you are having trouble hearing.

Mr. Speaker, the issues around the Quebec Innu need to be dealt with. There is absolutely no doubt about that. We cannot continue to have groups like this coming into Labrador territory exercising power over the land and being above the law, I say to the government opposite, nor should they be out there to be an impediment in any development that occurs in Labrador.

I encourage the government to also move forward to settle that particular dispute that is ongoing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for the advance copy of her statement. I think we are both suffering from the same ailment today from her voice and my voice.

I am pleased to see that this stage of the Lower Churchill project is falling into place. I have to say that it is good to see that the role of the PUB, as was put in place in legislation, worked. That is hopeful because, obviously, we all want to see harmonious relations as we continue, but if we come to an impasse the PUB will always be there to play that role. I think that really is a positive step.

As we move forward with the Lower Churchill, of course, I would want to say that this is something that is important for us but also important for the country as well. I hope that the government will continue to be able to work with all parties so that down the road we can work towards an east-west link that would benefit the rest of Canada as well as people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate author Jessica Grant, who this past Thursday was named the winner of the 2009 Winterset Award for her first novel entitled: Come, Thou Tortoise.

Mr. Speaker, Ms Grant's Winterset win is one of the many honours and awards bestowed upon this Province's extraordinary literary community within the past year, and it is testament to the amazing work being produced right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Also nominated were Michael Crummey, whose novel Galore was shortlisted for the 2009 Governor General's Literary Award and the winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book in Canada and the Caribbean - a book that I had the opportunity to read at Christmastime, Mr. Speaker, and certainly ask all members to enjoy that book. Lisa Moore, author of February, was also shortlisted in the same category. I note, as well, that poet Randall Maggs who won the 2008 Winterset Award, has also been awarded the 2009 E.J. Pratt Poetry Prize and the 2010 Kobzar Literary Award for his book Night Work: The Sawchuk Poems.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, six titles locally published by Boulder Publications, Breakwater Books, Flanker Press and Creative Book Publishing have been nominated for the 2010 Atlantic Book Awards, which promotes excellence in Atlantic Canadian writing and book publishing. Mr. Crummy's Galore and Greg Malone's You Better Watch Out, have also been nominated for those awards.

Mr. Speaker, these are just a few of the recent accolades earned by our literary community. As you know the provincial government remains committed to the growth of our literary sector and funding provided through the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council, the Publishers Assistance Program and the Cultural Economic Development Program. That funding provides support to a variety of literary events, activities and professional development opportunities which help our emerging and established writers to continue to live, work and be inspired right here in our Province.

I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating Jessica Grant and all of the Province's remarkable writers and publishers for their successes this year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement.

We, too, would like to congratulate Jessica Grant and the other remarkable writers and publishers that we have in this Province. It was not too long ago when you could not find young writers and publishers here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but in the last number of years, of course, there are all kinds of beautiful books that tell about our families, our culture, our history and our societies. Hopefully, as time goes on we can find some way to even integrate some of these great writings into our school system where they could fully be appreciated.

We would also like to take an opportunity to congratulate at this time, Andreae Callanan, who last night at the Ship Inn was awarded the Jackson Award, which is again associated with the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. We do note that the Arts Council, I believe it was last year, had a 20 per cent increase in the number of people requesting grants in 2009 over previous years. The government puts, I believe, about $250,000 into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council at the present time, but obviously with the increase in demand - I believe they were actually asking for $1 million - I guess you do what you can with what you have; but it is great to see that government is funding these councils to make sure that these young publishers and writers do, in fact, get an opportunity.

I notice as well, in conjunction with supporting young people, yesterday the Budget had $350,000, I believe it was, to support athletics in the Province, and young athletes who want to be trained for winter games and Olympics and so on.

So, we are out there supporting young people, whether it be in athletics or in publishing. I think that is a good move and congratulations to all these participants.

Thank you.

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. I join with the minister in extending congratulations to Jessica Grant, the 2009 Winterset Award winner. The proven success of authors such as Jessica Grant and Michael Crummey shows the strength of Newfoundland and Labrador's writers. They create culture products that bring people to Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as money to Newfoundland and Labrador.

I know that there recently has also been some partnering between government and book publishing on a library strategy designed to export Newfoundland and Labrador published books through Canada and the United States. These are very positive moves and I hope that government will build on this success by continuing to invest in book publishing, but we must not forget the artists in Newfoundland and Labrador, many of whom are struggling to earn a living, artists, actors, visual artists. There is a broad range of whom we mean when we say artists.

I hope that government will continue to recognize the importance of such artists and put more funding towards the artists themselves. Now we have not seen, I do not think, enough money in this year's Budget to the Arts Council to allow that to happen, but I ask government to continue looking at increasing the money to the Arts Council so that individual artists can more directly receive money that is much needed by them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

Before the Chair calls Oral Questions, the Chair would like to address a point of order that was raised by the hon. the Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi on Thursday, March 25, where the hon. Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi accused the hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services when he pointed in her direction and made a statement. The statement was that he would rather be disingenuous than dishonest.

The Chair has had an opportunity to review both the video tapes and review the written transcript and saw no indication that the minister, while using body language, showed any indication that he was referencing the hon. the Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi as being dishonest.

The Chair would like to take this opportunity to remind hon. members that when they ask questions, or when they give answers, or when they take part in debate that they not personalize the questions or the answers by referencing the members, but do it towards the Chair and it takes away from the personal part of debate, which is the way that all questions and answers and debates should be conducted here in the House of Assembly.

The Chair would also like to remind the hon. Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi that she herself should be sensitive to some of the language that she would use, in this case, when she accused the government of being disingenuous and being two-faced. Those are strong, strong words that bring disorder to the House of Assembly. So while she referenced it to the government, the member asking the question would feel sensitive in that it was directed towards them.

So I would ask all members to be cautious of the language that they use in the House, to be sensitive to other people's feelings, and to talk to and through the Chair when they ask questions or make remarks in the Chamber.

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, there has been an impasse in the crab fishery again this year and challenges in that industry are being highlighted. As we know, processors today are not prepared to buy at the price that is there; fishers are not prepared to fish at the price that is there. However, Mr. Speaker, in the Budget yesterday government predicted that we will maintain performance levels to last year's standards, yet there were hundreds of fisherpeople lining the steps of Confederation Building, Mr. Speaker, who certainly feel that they are not able to contribute in this industry at the present time with the price that is there.

So I ask the minister: What is your plan for the industry to get it rolling this season, to meet the performance targets that you set in yesterday's Budget in light of the situation we currently face?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

One thing I am certain of is that the hundred or so people who were on the steps of the Confederation Building yesterday did not want to be there. All they want, Mr. Speaker, is a fair price for their fish and likewise, the plant workers want to be able to work.

We cannot force people to fish nor can we force processors to harvest. One thing though, Mr. Speaker, that has to happen and that is the people who are representing those groups have to sit together. Mr. Speaker, I am hoping before this evening is out that I will sit with the individual, the leader of the union, and the leader of ASP and that I am going to ask them to consider where they stand and really come to terms with getting this industry started. That is all these folks want; they want to get on the water, they want their price. We want the work in the Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no question what these fishers want. There is a question of how they are going to achieve it, minister. Because there is no appropriate loans program for harvesters in this Province, Mr. Speaker, no lines of credit to support their industry, they feel that they have fallen at the mercy of processors to bail them out, and because of it, they have lost their sense of independence in this industry.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: I ask the minister today, if his government will support the industry with programs and financial services, Mr. Speaker, that will allow them to be not just independent harvesters, but to be financially independent as well in this industry?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, there was a process started last July, and everyone - I would think probably everybody in the Province has heard me say it and have heard the acronym MOU spoken.

Mr. Speaker, on December 17, I wrote a letter to both the ASP and the union stating to them that I felt there was not enough action. On December 30 I met with them and I asked them to present proposals to me by January 22. On January 22, Mr. Speaker, I met with them, those proposals came in. I got on the plane on February 12, submitted that to Minister Shea on February 15, and expressed to her that we would be coming forward with a plan of action from the Province. A unified plan of action, Mr. Speaker, that I hope will result from the MOU.

The issues that the Leader of the Opposition is raising, Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that we can resolve many of those issues in that process. Again, I go back to my previous point, it means that the parties involved have to sit together. Mr. Speaker, I have to be honest with you, at this point they have not done that to the serious degree that I think they should, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say to the minister, we support the process of the MOU but it is a longer framework for the industry, and right now we have a crisis that needs to be dealt with in this industry.

I ask the minister today: Does he agree that the processors have really become the bankers for the harvesters in this industry and therefore they ultimately control what happens?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think there is so much mistrust in this industry that it is hard for me to give her an answer on that. I think if we are going to find a solution and a betterment for this industry and this Province, that is exactly what has to happen.

I have said on a number of occasions, if the parties involved want to make this the best industry that it can for this Province, lay themselves openly upon the table, expose what it is that makes this industry happen and put a lot of that mistrust to rest, because until that happens, this industry will go on – I mean everybody here knows it. This seems to be a rite of season. We settle something for a while; people go away, next spring they are back again. It has not been resolved and it is time that all parties sit down and find a solution here, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I am hearing from people in the industry that they have lost their sense of independence because they have not had the financial support mechanisms available to them and they have had to rely upon the processors in this Province to be able to bail them out and continue in the industry. Back in 2002, the Premier, who was the Leader of the Opposition at that time, claimed there was collusion in the industry. Seven years have passed since that point.

I ask the Premier today: Do you still feel there is collusion in this industry, because fishers are telling me that seven years later the issue has not been dealt with? In fact, the problems have worsened and they certainly feel that they have no sense of independence left.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, at the time the allegations of collusion were made the hon. member opposite was in government. I understand she subsequently became a Minister of Fisheries. They did not deal with it. Those allegations of collusion, as I remember, were dealt with, I think at a national level by the Competition Bureau.

At that time I was concerned because of various power plays that were going on within the industry, but I agree wholeheartedly with the Minister of Fisheries. It is about time everybody got together and tried to come up with solutions. We seem, as a government, every year to face the same problems. Everybody comes in; there are demonstrations on the steps of the building. We do not want it, you do not want it; the people of the Province do not want it.

We find there are various factions within the fishing industry that are working against each other, and that is not good. We are not here to divide and conquer. We are not here to pit one against the other. I think it is about time, as the minister has said, that people come in and just lay their cards on the table and try and find out if they can work and find a solution, but when one is trying to play one against the other, that is just the opposite of collusion. It is a lack of co-operation, and co-operation is what is needed here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a serious issue because many rural communities in this Province are affected. Twenty-five thousand families are impacted by what happens in this industry. It is all right to say that people have to sit at the table and they have to talk, but there are some clearly identified problems that exist. Some of these, government has control over to fix immediately. When a fisher harvester today has to be beholding to a merchant because no bank will give him a line of credit, because his industry is falling each and every year, he cannot afford gear, he cannot afford bait, where does he go?

I ask the minister, this is a problem that you can fix, your government can fix by investing in this industry and investing in these fishers; I ask that you do it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not sure what the question was contained in that, but I will say one thing, Mr. Speaker, since coming into the portfolio, I have held eighty meetings. I have been in this portfolio for 120 days, Mr. Speaker. Take Christmas out and see how many meetings have been held.

One thing that I have learned, I have travelled around – sixty-one of those meetings by the way have been with independent, some of these people in the galleries. One thing that I have discovered is that one plan does not fit all. What is needed in 3PS is not the same as is needed in 2J or 3L.

I am certainly hoping, Mr. Speaker - and we cannot let this MOU process linger on forever and a day, there has to be some resolution to it. Individual planning – and, Mr. Speaker, I would certainly hope that the issues that she is raising would come out in that process, because we have working groups within that.

For now, Mr. Speaker, we have a more immediate problem and that is on April 1, this fishery is set to start. I am hoping that after a meeting this evening with Mr. Butler and Mr. McCurdy that we can find a way to get this fishery started.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we understand that in New Brunswick today there are processors that are prepared to come into Newfoundland and Labrador, pay $1.75 a pound for crab, pay thirteen cents a pound to truck that crab out of the Province; yet our own processors are indicating that they cannot pay even $1.35 a pound for crab.

I ask you, Minister - we are talking about the same Canadian dollar, the same markets - I ask you: Has your department investigated this, and can you tell me why there is such a discrepancy in these prices?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think in the event of this happening every fall, you would almost have to ask yourself the question: Why haven't parties come together and answered those questions before? This is not the first time that this has happened. We have made some inquiries into other jurisdictions, and I am waiting to get more of that information. There are jurisdictions that have informed us that they are not paying $1.75. There are things that seem to come into play, in terms of the way the crab is processed and frozen and so on and so forth. So there are many, many factors here that come into play.

Mr. Speaker, I think if we are going to find a resolution to this, and I listened to some of the people that were interviewed yesterday, we have to come to terms with these issues that are confronting us. It is an awful thing when we have to fight with other jurisdictions to gain what we rightfully think we deserve, but it is a terrible thing when we have to fight amongst ourselves and we cannot find a solution, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We understand from those in the industry that a one cent reduction in the price of crab to a harvester actually means an extra $1 million in revenue to processors. So we certainly understand why the price is such a huge factor – one cent or two cents either way.

Minister, for the last couple of years fishers in the Province have been talking about bringing in outside buyers because they feel that they are no longer in a competitive environment in Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to selling their fish.

I would like to ask your department: Have you looked at what the impact would be of doing that on the Province versus what the benefit would be to the industry?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, I indicated to the group that I met with yesterday, of the sixty-one that I met with, I believe the issue was raised on outside buying about fifty-seven times. I have said to anybody, on anything, I am willing to sit and discuss anything with anyone.

There is one thing that I made clear on April 23 to the inshore council – I have to get the names right. That was, that I will not enter into discussions about this unless we consider plant workers as well. I am the Minister of Fisheries for the Province; that involves making sure that I represent the harvesters, but also, we have a number of plant workers that have to be considered here.

So, I have to say that a week ago yesterday, I received a letter from the union indicating that they were interested in some potential outside buying, and Mr. McCurdy made it public in an interview on Friday, that being around three species, plus the crab, if the processors did not buy. It is unfortunate that it had to come to a bind before we consider even looking at something like that.

I go back to my point, Mr. Speaker, that I intend to meet with both parties today, and to see if there is a way we can find a way forward in that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Finance. There is currently a strike that has been taking place on the Burin Peninsula for the last eighteen weeks. It is having significant impact on fourteen NAPE workers and their fourteen clients who are disabled whom they assist through the supported employment program.

Mr. Speaker, this strike, they feel, is unnecessary because government is trying to take clauses out of their collective agreement that the same government asked be included.

I ask the minister today: Why are you reneging on a past commitment to these particular workers, and why are you leaving them on the street when the only thing they really want to do is get an agreement and get back to work?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, to clarify, government is not the employer here. The men and women in Burin and Marystown work for the Burin-Marystown employment corporation, they are the employer, but by law, government under the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act is the negotiating agent just as NAPE negotiates on behalf of the employees. That is different in Bay St. George. It is different in Port aux Basques where NAPE has been certified there under the Labour Relations Act and government has no direct involvement.

We have been meeting with NAPE. We have had lots of discussions. We have taken the advice to sit at the table. We were there for two days last week. Unfortunately, both sides, we remain apart and we remain far apart on the issue.

Government has, under the circumstances, made a 20 per cent wage offer over four years. Given these uncertain economic times and given what has happened in other jurisdictions where people are instituting wage freezes, a 20 per cent offer over four years is fair and is reasonable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is just an observation; we have two groups of protesters in the gallery today, and if St. Anthony were not as far removed from this hon. House we would have a third.

When government announced last week that the air ambulance service would be taken from St. Anthony and relocated to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and this decision was based on a flawed consultant's report that did not look at the ramifications of such a move to the entire provincial air ambulance system.

I ask the minister: Why did government limit the Terms of Reference of this report to an evaluation of the Northern Peninsula and Labrador instead of looking at the entire Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First, let me say that I understand the implications of this decision. I recognize the anger and disappointment of the people of St. Anthony, and they have sent me lots of e-mails. I have not received any e-mails from the member opposite, although he did write me a letter.

Mr. Speaker, the premise put forward by the member is simply -

MR. DEAN: (Inaudible).

MR. KENNEDY: I am sorry, did he say something? I did not hear it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to continue with his answer.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the premise put forward is simply false. Essentially, let me do this very quickly, in 2009 the 623 other flights that are referred to on page 4 of the consultant's report, of those, 380 were picked up by the St. John's airplane, or 61 per cent; seventy-nine were picked by a charter or 13 per cent; and 130, or 21 per cent, were picked up by St. Anthony. Mr. Speaker, 74 per cent of those 623 flights were picked up by the St. John's airplane. That relates to Gander, Deer Lake, Burin, Grand Falls-Windsor and Stephenville.

Mr. Speaker, the reason that we looked at the Terms of Reference that we did, we were having problems in Labrador. Mr. Speaker, I met with George Kean, the President of the Steelworkers Union today, and when he described to me what he had encountered with that family last week, I felt, Mr. Speaker, that we had to move quick, that we did move quick and we made the right decision.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, the people of the Northern Peninsula and Southern Labrador rallied over the weekend, and they certainly believe this report is flawed There were some 1,000 or so signatures collected on Saturday evening in St. Anthony arena. They include people who work in the medical community and have first-hand experience with the service. Unfortunately, response times to emergencies on the Northern Peninsula, Southern Labrador, Central Newfoundland, and Western Newfoundland will now have a delay.

I ask the minister: Why didn't the report look at the response time delays that will now be experienced in other regions of the Province as a result of this move?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the consultant looked at the number of flights that were travelling from Labrador as opposed to St. Anthony, and it was almost double the flights. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with a population base of approximately 26,000 people in Labrador to 2,476 people in St. Anthony, for 13,000 people in that rural secretariat region. What we have, Mr. Speaker, is very significant industrialization in the Labrador area so that was another risk factor that we had to look at.

Mr. Speaker, also, the airport in St. Anthony is fifty kilometres away from the community as opposed to Happy Valley-Goose Bay is right therein.

Mr. Speaker, we invested $8 million last week to buy a new airplane. There is a second medical flight services team, and we feel that the St. John's airplane can cover the rest of the Province, as it has done, and that this airplane will now have a quicker response time to Lab West and to Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the minister is indicating that it had to be one or the other, so one life is more valuable than the other, I would assume is what he is trying to say.

There are 120,000 people on the West Coast and Central Newfoundland that are serviced by the air ambulance service in St. Anthony if there is a backup in St. John's or whatever. They are disenfranchised today because of your decision.

The people who run the air ambulance service, Mr. Speaker, are front line workers who have knowledge of the system, how it functions, how to improve health care. However, neither the director nor the dispatch operators nor paramedics nor pilots were ever considered during this review process.

I ask the minister, again: Why were these front line workers, who know the most about the system, not consulted to determine where the gaps existed and where improvements could be made?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite just referred to Central Newfoundland. The statistics for Gander show that out of 100 flights, sixty-nine were picked up the King Air in St. John's, fourteen were picked up by charter, and thirteen by a St. Anthony plane. In Grand Falls-Windsor, Mr. Speaker, there were seventy-four flights: forty-seven were picked up by the St. John's King Air; eight were picked up by the St. Anthony King Air; and nineteen by charter. In Deer Lake, Mr. Speaker, 101 flights were picked up by the King Air in St. John's, thirty-two by St. Anthony. So I do not know where the member opposite is getting his statistics. However, Mr. Speaker, this is the same individual the other day who referred us to gutting rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, in the last number of years we have invested in roads, alone in the Northern Peninsula $16.45 million as opposed to $3 million when the Liberals were in power. We have invested in companies like Canada Ice, which I am sure that the member opposite is familiar with. We have invested significantly and perhaps someday he can deal with that in this hon. House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: We can deal with any issue, Mr. Speaker. The St. Anthony hospital is the most often medical care facility that uses the service of the northeast fishery fleet. This area has some of the roughest seas and worst weather, and there are many medical emergencies that require immediate care. Our hospital has been used to stabilize workers injured at sea before they are air medevaced to St. John's.

I ask the minister: How will response times for emergencies involving fishing crews be impacted and why was that not examined in this report as well?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, shame on the member opposite for suggesting even that one life is more valuable than another. You tell that, sir, to the people of Lab West and what they have encountered in the last period of time. You tell that to Tracey Best in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. You tell it to these people.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I will give you a very simple number. Goose Bay, Lab West, St. John's; St. Anthony, Lab West, St. John's - thirty-five minutes in the difference using the King Air, Mr. Speaker. Thirty-five minutes difference can mean a life when you are talking about a medical emergency.

In the St. Anthony hospital, Mr. Speaker, over the last period of time, we have invested just in capital equipment and repairs and renovations alone $13.4 million. INTRD, Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, looking at news releases of August 15, 2006 and May 24, 2007, has invested in a bottling plant in the St. Anthony area. Mr. Speaker, we have invested in schools. There is a new school planned for St. Anthony. In Flower's Cove, we announced in the Budget past $5 million to begin the construction of the Flower's Cove (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the air ambulance service.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are talking about the air ambulance service and not the schools.

Mr. Speaker, the report commissioned by government is based on a flawed Terms of Reference. It has insufficient research data for the entire provincial system and it was limited in scope to one region of our Province.

So, I ask the Premier this afternoon: In light of such an insufficient report being used to justify the removal of such an important service, will you put it on hold, reissue a tender to have a proper study that evaluates the needs and gaps of the entire provincial air ambulance service before making such a colossal mistake?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: That was what I expected.

Mr. Speaker, the minister came to the Northern Peninsula in October and pretended to care about health care issues in our region. We know it was just a show, and after a by-election –


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

I ask the hon. members to my left for their co-operation.

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DEAN: Let me say again, Mr. Speaker, that the minister came to the Northern Peninsula in October and pretended to care about health care issues in the district. We now know it was a show, and it took a by-election loss to see just how vindictive and deceitful he is.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member used the word deceitful to accuse another hon. member here of being deceitful. If he did –


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

That is what the Chair understood. If he did, I ask the hon. member to withdraw the remark.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, I will apologize to the minister when the minister agrees to –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

I ask the hon. member, if he used the word deceitful, if he would kindly withdraw the remark before the Chair has to take more action.

The hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, I ran my campaign –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

The Chair realizes the hon. member is a new member here in the House and the Chair realizes that he is probably not aware of the way to withdraw remarks or to pre-qualify them by making a statement, but I ask the hon. member to withdraw the remark immediately or the Chair will have no other choice but to take other action. For the final time, I ask the hon. member to withdraw the remark.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Since the hon. member is not willing to withdraw the remark, I name you, Mr. Marshall Dean, and ask you to leave this House for the remainder of the sitting day.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to leave the Chamber immediately. I ask the hon. member to leave the Chamber immediately.

[Mr. Dean leaves the Chamber]

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I spent some time last night reading Budget documents and was surprised to read on page 166 of the Estimates that under the Energy Policy government overspent by $8 million in professional services. That is a lot of money.

Mr. Speaker, we have in the gallery fifteen workers from the Burin Peninsula, job coaches for persons with intellectual disabilities who are asking for a total of $75,000 over four years to give them a modest wage increase. Mr. Speaker, some of these workers will be making less than the minimum wage when it goes up in July if they still have their jobs. These fifteen workers and their seventeen clients certainly have had the brakes slammed on them, I say, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister of Finance: Could he give a clearer answer to this House why this government is refusing to agree to the modest demands of these fifteen low-income workers?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I have answered that question in the House previously and I have answered it again here today. We are negotiating on behalf of the Burin-Marystown employment corporation. We have met on many occasions. We are attempting to come to an accommodation. Unfortunately, our positions are apart. We cannot come to an arrangement, but our government has offered a 20 per cent wage increase over four years. In these uncertain economic times when other jurisdictions in the country are in fact instituting wage freezes, a 20 per cent wage increase is extremely fair and reasonable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I say 20 per cent over a minimum wage allowance or salary which amounts to $75,000 over four years certainly, honestly, cannot be too much to be asked for by these people. I cannot believe the answer that I was just given.

Mr. Speaker, if the government is negotiating and they really want something to be reached, I want to know why, when the union requested that a mediator be brought in, the answer was no? I ask that question of the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, why there is not an agreement to bring a mediator in to get this resolved?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, with the Labour Relations Agency we have many highly trained professional mediators who are at the disposal of the striking workers and of both parties. We have appointed a senior mediator who has been working with the parties and, in addition to that, the Director of Labour Relations was involved in the situation herself last week. So we believe that we have some very highly trained; some very professional people there who are able to work with both parties and who are ready any time to continue to sit down with those parties.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

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

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to section 26.(5)(a) of the Financial Administration Act, I am tabling thirteen Orders in Council relating to funding precommitments for the 2010-2011, 2014-2015 fiscal year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will ask leave to move the following resolution:

Resolution Respecting the Reappointment of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Be It Resolved by the House of Assembly as follows:

WHEREAS section 42.1 of the Access To Information and Protection of Privacy Act provides that the Information and Privacy Commissioner is to be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council on a resolution of the House Assembly; and

WHEREAS section 42.2 of the Act states that a commissioner may be reappointed; and

WHEREAS the appointment of the current commissioner, Mr. Ed Ring, expires on April 10, 2010; and

WHEREAS it is proposed that Mr. Ring be reappointed as the commissioner for a term of two years,

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Mr. Ed Ring be reappointed as the Information and Privacy Commissioner for a term of two years.

MR. SPEAKER: Further notices of motions?

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.


Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We call from the Order Paper, Motion 1.

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

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate an opportunity to have a few words and a few moments with respect to the Budget.

Just so Joe and Martha understand - my good friends who watch the parliamentary channel - there is a different process in place, of course, for virtually everything that goes on in the House of Assembly. With respect to the first person who responds to the Budget Speech, which was given yesterday by the hon. Minister of Finance, comes under Standing Order 46.(4), and what is says is that whatever length of time the Minister of Finance took to deliver his Budget yesterday, the first person who responds from the Opposition gets twice that amount of time or three hours, whichever is the greater. So, looking at 2:30 of the clock right now, I do not know if I can last three hours or not, but that would take us to closing time today. I have some lower back issues so I might not be able to sustain it for that period of time, but I will try my best because, God knows, there is a lot here to talk about. There is some good stuff, some very good stuff. Some things in terms of overall direction and policy one might question as to the direction that the government is going in, where they have come from, where we are today, and where we might be headed, so it will take some time. I have three hours, as I say, so I do not have to rush what I intend to say. I apologize in advance if, from time to time, I appear to be a little bit all over the place; because, when you deal with this budget process, you can see from just the amount of documents that you have that it is pretty comprehensive. This was not a little two-page report or whatever that the minister delivered yesterday. There are oodles and oodles of documents. There are billions of dollars at stake here, numerous programs and numerous departments, so the question is - that is the government's financial plan for the forthcoming year.

Not only would I like to address the financial aspects of this, and the economic aspects of it, but you will recall that last week, about eight days ago, the Lieutenant Governor came here and he delivered a Throne Speech. Now, that is a different kind, a Thorne Speech and a Budget Speech. You might ask: Well, what is the difference between the two? Normally, a Throne Speech sets out the government's plan, the government's agenda. You hear all kinds of grandiose phrases sometimes, like masters in our own house, and stuff like that, and destiny being fulfilled and so on. That is more or less the generic, overall, top-of-the-tree plans or agenda that the government has, whereas a Budget Speech deals more or less with, okay, how are we going to handle the money that we have, the resources that we get in, to try to do things in that plan, or implement it?

Now it is very nice, of course, when a government's Throne Speech connects or integrates with its Budget plan, but when it doesn't you have a real problem; because, obviously, if there is a disconnect between what your plan is and how you are using the money that you have, there is a serious problem. That is called misdirection; that could even be mismanagement, if you have not equated what you got your money for with what you are going to use the money for: what programs, for example.

I get an opportunity here to look at some of the big picture stuff, the top-of-the-tree stuff, which I would like to do. I would like to first skim the top of the trees as to what we have here. Then we need to drill down a little bit; we have to go into some of the branches to see what was not said yesterday in the minister's speech, or what he did say but how he said it. For example, it is only when you sit back sometimes with sober second thought and you say: Did he really mean that, or could he possibly mean that, because that is contrary to something that they already said last week or last month. Has there been a change of policy, or is he just messed up on what he said?

That is why, in the course of talking this afternoon as well, I will be posing a number of questions to the minister; because he gets to respond again. He just did not say it yesterday. The minister is usually on the ball, I must say. I think this is his third kick at the can now, being Minister of Finance, his third Budget.

The last couple of times that I have had the pleasure of responding to his Budget, I must say, he has been pretty forthcoming in providing the answers, or trying to provide answers, to the questions that I posed. There were some that he could not answer because, of course, he does not have all the answers, and sometimes my questions he did not want to answer. Deflection, sometimes, is pretty good too, and he is pretty good at that, by the way, sometimes. He can deflect when he does not want to give a direct answer. Sometimes he will deflect and sort of wiggle around; gives himself lots of wiggle room. In any case, he is usually pretty forthright.

First of all, let me deal with some of the overview stuff, we will call it, the big picture stuff about the Budget. This past year has been one of the greatest economic batterings that we have seen in this Province, economically. In fact, I put the word economic tsunami on it last year in questions and I notice the minister, in his CBC commentaries yesterday, used that phrase, and it is quite true. We were pretty well slammed in the last year. Now we can talk about, as the Premier did: we were sort of secular: we were on our own last year; we were not going to get bashed as bad as the rest of Canada or the rest of North America, particularly the United States and so on, but when you look at the raw figures that we now have we took a pretty good smack. We took a pretty big smack and you cannot sugar-coat it, however much you might want to.

The economic performance for 2009 was nothing but dismal. We can say what we want, but that is the word that one has to look at and I will give some figures to show that. For example, the Gross Domestic Product of this Province – and that is usually an indicator of how well you are doing; if your GDP is growing, you are growing as a people and as a province, and that is good, that bodes well for everybody in that province - last year, our real GDP declined by 8.9 per cent. By the way, the figures I am referring to here, I did not come up with these figures on my own. Any figures that I refer to in the course of the next little while are all figures from the Budget documents that were tabled here in the House yesterday. So, don't worry, there is no fudging of figures here, or I took figures and I tried to spin them or anything. These are the government's own figures.

Last year, our GDP fell by 8.9 per cent. Now, if you want to go back and compare to other times in our history when we had a more dismal type of decline, I dug out a little chart of GDP growth over the years. If you go back, the other greatest decline we had in GDP in this Province was in 1992 when our GDP declined by 3.2 per cent.

I realize sometimes these numbers might get confusing, so I will try to keep it simple just to make the point, but I have to use the numbers to make the point. For example, 1992 - just recall the history, now. That is the year of the moratorium. That is the year when certain people were going to batter the doors down at the Newfoundland Hotel and they went after Minister Crosbie of the day and they were going to lynch him when he shut down the fishery.

That year, 1992, we had a 3.2 per cent drop in GDP in this Province. Up to that point, that was the highest, largest single drop we ever had. This year, the past year, 2009, 8.9 per cent; virtually three times greater drop in our GDP than we have ever had. Now, that is cause for concern. That is cause for concern.

Remember last week, too, because I will keep coming back to this: sometimes government does not tell the pieces that they do not want you to know, because they do not want to mix, sometimes, need for concern with the optimism that they say exists. I am all for optimism, I am all for advance, and I am all for growth and so on, but we have to be realists as well.

The Premier talked about the glass being half full or the glass half empty. The fact is - and it does not matter who says it - the fact is we had the single-greatest decline in our Gross Domestic Product in the last twenty years in 2009. That is pretty substantial; very substantial.

We also had, in terms of employment in this Province, last year our employment fell by 2.5 per cent. Now, this is a Province that is on the rise. We are masters in our own house. We had a 2.5 per cent decline in employment. We also had an increase in the unemployment rate in this Province to 15.5 per cent. The last time we were at 15.5 per cent unemployment rate was 1989. We had an unemployment rate the same as we do today, 15.5 per cent. It has varied up and down, in the meantime, but that is where we are.

In 2003, when this Administration took over, we had 16.5 per cent. So here we are, seven years out, and we have had a 1 per cent decline in seven years; that is in the unemployment rate. If you just want to equate that with some things, the government has doubled the budget - more than doubled the budget - from about $3 billion in 2003 when they took over government; we are approaching $7 billion now. So we are spending more than 100 per cent more than what we spent seven years ago, yet our unemployment rate is only 1 per cent less. So, you have to look at some of these little cracks in the wall and ask: How concerned should we be of these? True, retail sales tax grew by 2.6 per cent. That was, by the way - and that is a good point - the strongest growth in retail sales in the whole country. I believe there were only two provinces in the country that recorded growth when it came to retail sales last year.

Now you might ask: How could your retail sales grow when your unemployment is growing at the same time? The two are usually inconsistent. Usually, when unemployment goes up, your retail purchasing goes down because people have less money; therefore, they are not into purchasing. Someone suggested it might have to do with the fact that the people who came back here, because they are not working out west any more, they are not working in Ontario any more. We had a lot more unemployed but because they came back home on the unemployment rolls, because they could not get employed elsewhere they still were purchasing, of course, for themselves and their families here which led to the boost in our retail sales.

We would much prefer, of course, when they are employed, whether it be here or out west, we prefer for them to be here. When they come home, work out west, bring their cheques home so they are still employed, they are home here spending their money in retail sales.

Labour income increased 4.2 per cent; that is the second best performance, I do believe, amongst the provinces in Canada. You have to wonder where the labour income came from. Whether it is public sector increase caused by the public sector or whether it is caused by private industry, it makes a difference, particularly if the government is driving this up by driving up the debt in the public sector. For example, we had - the government, by the way, is the largest employer in the Province as I understand it; the largest single employer in the Province. The government just gave all the workers 8 per cent last year. Also, of course, the oil revenues result in pretty high incomes. You start to compare some of the wages that these workers in the oil field –

[Comments from public gallery]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair always welcomes hon. members to the House of Assembly. Members are welcome to attend and observe the proceedings here on the floor of the House, but I must remind hon. members in the galleries that they are not to show pleasure or displeasure for anything that is said or that happens here in the House of Assembly. So while members are -

[Comments from public gallery]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

While members are always welcome, they are not to show pleasure or displeasure with anything that happens here on the floor of the House of Assembly. So I ask the hon. members in the galleries for their co-operation, or I will have to ask them to leave for today's sitting.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

[Comments from public gallery]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask that the hon. person be escorted from the Assembly.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I surely hope it was not anything that I said that disturbed the gentleman in the Chamber to cause his removal.

Mr. Speaker, there are some positives, as we say, that you have to look at, but there are some negatives. You put them all together and I guess caution is the right word that pops out. Rather than being optimistic, rather than being pessimistic, maybe a more accurate word would be cautious or realistic.

That leads you to ask – because it is not only this member who asked the question, one need only read the different media sources today to find out what the general public thought of the Budget. I will get to that and talk about how some of the different people perceived it differently.

A lot of it, of course, as to how you felt about it comes down to who you represent and what sector you represent. Some have a very personal interest in the Budget; it might be a about a tax break, for example. Other people represent groups and therefore they speak on behalf of the group. They might personally like or dislike it, but if they represent a certain sector of society, whether it is nurses or public union workers or fishermen for example, they have to usually speak for those groups.

The minister tells us - I guess it depends on what program you watch sometimes. I am getting a mixed message. It seemed to be mixed, maybe it is not, because I have heard the minister say in the past that we have to be cautious, we do not know if we can sustain what we are doing. Then we will hear the Premier on another broadcast saying: Well, we do not know about the stuff about balanced budgets and not running deficits. Full steam ahead; we have to make sure that we keep driving her.

You wonder – the first time I heard that I thought: My God, is the Premier and the Minister of Finance offside with each other? One is saying we do not know if we can sustain things. Meanwhile, the Premier is saying give her, drive it, we have too much momentum now, we cannot lose steam, let her go. I am just wondering whether they are offside with each other, or maybe the two of those comments can somehow be meshed because certainly the message from the Minister of Finance is you have to be pretty cautious.

Personal income growth, for example, we did have personal income growth in this Province last year, 3.9 per cent. Disposable income grew by 4.7 per cent. That is all good stuff, but we have to look at another piece of it. For example, what is not in the government numbers is the fact that personal bankruptcies in the last twelve months in this Province increased by 18.8 per cent - increased. That is in a twelve-month period; that is up to the end of November 2009.

So, again, that optimism versus pessimism depends on what statistics you are reading. You say personal income has gone up by 3.9 per cent, disposable income by 4.7 per cent and then you look, you pick up a paper, you check the statistics and you find out that bankruptcy has gone up almost 19 per cent. So somebody is suffering. Not everybody was a part of that growth in personal income and disposable income. Somewhere in amongst this mix, there are people who are still hurting. Yes, some people had gains.

It comes back to the old comment again - I believe the Leader of the Opposition used it yesterday in several of the interviews, for example when they asked: Where do you think all of this is leading? Part of her answer was – and I am sure I paraphrased - is it a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? It is fine to have all of this growth that we talk about, 3 or 4 per cent growth, but if it is only going to a certain sector of our society, a smaller sector in particular, and if the larger sectors are suffering, for example, declaring bankruptcy, that does not bode well for us. That does not bode well. A lot of times, these people who declare bankruptcy, what happens? Many of them sometimes have to look to government for help. So our social assistance budgets get impacted if there are bankruptcies. So there are always consequences; by every action, there is a consequence.

I noticed the government, for example - personally, I think the minister who I thought in past budgets was a bit conservative – I use that small c conservative –

AN HON. MEMBER: Progressive.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Progressive, shall we say. I think this year he maybe threw caution to the wind a little bit. Maybe threw caution to the wind, and I will tell you why I think that. He talks about running the deficit of about $195 million this year, and he tells you, of course, where the revenue is going to come from, but when you look at some of the things that went on last year and what he is prefacing his predictions on, you wonder.

Another point I would like to make, by the way, is the Budget is not an exact piece, it is not an exact science. It is actually called Estimates. We have a book that is part of the Budget process called Estimates. That is exactly what it is. So the government projects where they think we are going to be for the next year and why we think we are going to get there.

I would just like to take a moment to look at some of the underlying reasons why the minister accepted certain advice over other advice. For example, you talk about rural Newfoundland; the fishery has been a major, major piece of our economy for years and decades. It is a fact that last year, for example - the rural economy is very subject to the whims of the fishing industry. Right here in these documents it shows that last year the volume of all landings in this Province from the fishing industry were down 8.5 per cent. That impacted thousands of people. I do not just mean the harvesters and the processors. I mean the fisherpersons, I mean the families of these fisherpersons, thousands of people in rural Newfoundland.

Now, that might not have impacted too many people on the Northeast Avalon. There might not have been a lot of urban people who were impacted by that, but I can tell you, being a member from rural Newfoundland, I represent the district on the Southwest Coast, I can tell you they were certainly impacted, that 8.5 per cent. It might not seem like a big number, but when you start to translate that 8.5 per cent decline in the fishing industry into rural Newfoundland, I am telling you, you have negative impacts, no question – 8.5 per cent decline in the volume of the landings in the fishing industry last year. The value, because one thing is volume what you land, another thing is what is the value you get for what you land. So, the two are different.

You might, for example, in one particular year have a certain volume, but because the prices are up in the shellfish industry you might do great with the value that you landed. You might have another year where you have lots of volume, but the prices are depressed in the U.S. markets, or European markets, or Asian markets and therefore you do not get very much value. You have to look at both the volume and the value. As I say, the volume, we know, was down 8.5 per cent. Add to that – and this is an even more striking number – the value of all landings in this Province last year from the fishing industry was down 19.2 per cent; 19.2 per cent in the value. Now that is where you get your take home. That is where people make their money. That is what people pay their taxes on. That is where government gets their tax revenues. That is where shopkeepers sell things to people who make the money. In rural Newfoundland last year, virtually 20 per cent of value landing in the fishing industry is down.

Now, the government yesterday, and the minister in his speech said: 2010, this Budget, we look for 2010 to be like 2009 in the fishing industry pretty well. Well, I would say that is fine. That might look good if you just took that sentence as you said it: Yes, we are looking pretty good for next year; we are going to get the same as we had in 2009. When you peel back that piece of banana or the onion and you look and you say: My God, we do not want it to be like it was in 2009. The value of our landings in 2009 was down by almost 20 per cent. That does not seem to be anything to be too optimistic about. I would think – you talk about play on words. I would prefer it if the minister was more realistic and said: We had a terrible year in the fishing industry last year; down 20 per cent in value. We hope we have a better year next year; instead of just glossing it over type of thing, not getting into the real nuts and bolts of it.

The 2010 forecast – and again, it would be nice to see where the forecasts are coming from that the minister relied on. He says: We expect to see the same volume and value if the resources are harvested. Now, that is pretty telling. I do believe we had a protest on the steps of this building yesterday from the independent harvesters. I do believe we had questions in Question Period today directed at the Minister of Fisheries and he stood up and said: It is supposed to start on April 1; I hope I can sit down tonight with Mr. McCurdy and Mr. Butler who heads up the processors. I hope and pray for the sake of people in rural Newfoundland who depend on it that they do have that meeting tonight and that they do get something done, because this industry is supposed to start again on April 1. I do believe that is Thursday of this week.

So we can talk about volumes of landings, we can talk about value of landings, but we are going to have a pretty short talk if it does not get started. God forbid, if we are here next year saying that 20 per cent down was a joke. We never had a fishing industry in 2010. I do not know, given what has been going on about the MOU in the fishing industry and given what we are hearing everyday coming from the FFAW and from the harvesters and the processors, I do not know what would cause this minister to be so optimistic that 2010 is going to be the same as it was in 2009. Hopefully, it will get off the ground, but I think I did read in one media source this morning that there are even talks that there might be a strike. The FFAW are talking about a strike. By the way, if the fishing industry does not take off this year and that does not happen, I talked about that urban rural divide, who gets impacted most when something does or does not happen in certain sectors. Guess who gets hit? Not only is it the people in rural Newfoundland, they are typically the people who earn the lowest. They are on the lowest end of the economic spectrum in these isolated rural parts, many times isolated. So, again, I do not know if the minister might have been a little bit too optimistic. He saw more water in the glass than was actually there, by relying upon the fishing industry. Overly optimistic, I guess was the words.

Also, for example, in the mining industry; the Minister of Finance talks about mineral values. You have to realize in this Province we make our money, the Province makes money; it puts money into its coffers or its bank account from a number of sources. It takes money from the offshore. It takes money from mining. It takes money from fisheries, money from forestry, money from agriculture, money from taxes, money from VLTs, lottery machines, puts it into the pot and then they have to sit down and decide where we are going to spend it and what are we going to spend it on; health care, education, CONA, Memorial University. Where are we going to spend it to? Policing? Where? The part I am dealing with right now is the getting of the money into the coffers. The minister is saying: well, I think we are going to do all right. We are going to have a deficit of 195 but one of the reasons I think we might be okay is the fishing industry is going to do as well as it did last year, but whoop-de-do, as Snook would say. I don't put too many kudos on that piece.

The mineral values; now let's look at the mineral values. For example, we have a number of major, major mining incidents. Labrador, for example, the Big Land is famous for what it contributes to this Province from a mining perspective. Labrador City, Wabush, of course Inco, now called Vale Inco with the new ownership, putting up a big processing facility out in Long Harbour; are going to be major contributors if they operate at their full potential in terms of production and if they get the prices that you would like for them to get.

The Minister of Finance says we are going to see 60 per cent, he is predicting, 60 per cent increase in mining. I have to ask, I do not know what crystal ball he is looking into again. I do not know who he is talking to in terms of forecasters, where he is getting his information, because that is pretty optimistic, a 60 per cent increase in mining revenues. I will just tell you why I think it is overly optimistic, and I am sure he is going to tell me that I am a pessimist when all this is over. I just ask the questions because the few things that I see going on in the Province, you have to ask yourself: How could he possibly conclude what he did?

For example, the IOC that operates in Lab City has always been a great contributor to this Province from the iron ore. From what I recall, in the last media piece I saw there was a major, major expansion up in Lab City planned and that got put on the drawing board. It was taken from the design go-ahead phase because of that economic tsunami, and IOC said we are going to take that off the drawing board right now. We are going to shelve that for a while. The Member for Labrador West, I am sure he can comment and confirm that that is the case. It was in the media that they are going to shelve it because of the economic circumstances. One wonders, how is he going to gain back the 60 per cent? I hope he is not relying upon that expansion going ahead this year because that is not even there. We are into April month now, pretty well. So he is not going to get it from any increased activity that is going to come about as a result of the IOC mining project.

I do believe there was a Wabush expansion planned as well, which got put on the drawing board. So I guess he is not going to see much growth, much productivity, or much money in the coffers from the Wabush expansion in the mining industry this year. I also do believe that Inco, the last time I heard, was on strike. I believe that strike has been on for quite some time. I do not know if there is any possibility or suggestion that they are going back to work any time soon. Now, if they did, great!

If you have the two major expansions that are not on, if you have Inco, the other big one that is on strike, I would think I would have tempered my suggestions that we are going to get 60 per cent growth. Of course, when I talk about Inco I would be remiss if I did not mention, of course, how we have come full circle from condemning Inco to now it is one of the poster boys of this government; poster boys of the government now, a great project.

I remember back in 2002, on June 20, I sat over there as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the Premier of today sat over here as the Leader of the Opposition, and we had a special session. For days and days the Opposition were out railing against this Inco, giveaways, not a good project. You could find off ramps in that – this person, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, slammed the government of the day and said: No way, bad deal, not going to make a penny off this. We will give it all away. So I stood up as the Minister of Justice of the day and I said to the Leader of the Opposition: Well, why don't you show me? Show me where the holes are? Because I wanted to be shown; I certainly did not want to be a party to any agreement that had holes in it. I do not think anybody comes in here and sits in this House of Assembly and would agree to do something that you know wilfully and deliberately is going to hurt your Province. That is just inconceivable. That is not why you offer yourself as a public servant and offer yourself as an MHA.

In all seriousness, I said to the Leader of the Opposition who was well-known in business and in legal circles, I said: Please, tell me where are the off ramps that you talk about? Where are the holes that you can drive a Mack truck through? Guess what, folks? I was never told. I was not told in June of 2002, and I asked the question years and years and years successively. Was I ever told? No, never told, but finally, guess what? I believe the Premier took a trip to Labrador about a year, eighteen months ago, and I was so shocked when I heard him say to one of the media sources: We got a great deal up there in that Inco thing, a great deal. Of course, he could not just leave it at that, he had to say: Well, we are going to tweak that a little bit and make it better. For the first time, the revelation came, the revelation came that it was a good deal.

So I am very pleased to see that at least something that a former Administration did might have been beneficial. Something might have been beneficial, and today, yesterday, last year, the year before, and for the years to come, are going to put millions and billions into our economy.

Back to my comments here about the mining industry, now where is the minister going to get 60 per cent increase in the mining industry? By the way, I never even mentioned, I just talked about the expansions that were not going to go ahead. I talked about the strike in IOC, but guess what? A lot of those things only talk about expansions, infrastructure construction. When you talk about the raw product itself, the iron ore for example, check the prices of what were being offered in the iron ore industry last year. This minister is going to expect, and he does expect, based on the figures he has put into his budget, he is going to expect one whopping global increase in the price of iron ore in order to meet his 60 per cent increases that he is talking about. Now, I am sure if the people in the iron ore business were as optimistic as he is, there would be a lot of people out buying shares in IOC and iron ore companies, yesterday and today, based upon the minister's optimism, I am sure.

I wonder where that is coming from. Is it coming from increased production? Is it optimism because of increased prices that he expects, for example? Does he know something about the resolution of the Inco strike that we do not know about, and that caused him, for example, to say that in his Budget Speech? Maybe he knows that Inco is on the broach of settling their strike. So those are the kind of questions I would ask.

The other thing, of course, I talked about the fishing industry, the contributors to the coffers. Well, like I say, they are pretty flat last year, 20 per cent decline in value in fishing. Iron ore, you have to bring it back 60 per cent to get to where he wants to go there.

Let's look at another one, oil prices. That is always a big contributor. In fact, the money now from the oil industry is the biggest single contributor to the economy of this Province, bar none - single biggest contributor. Now, of course, how much you get depends upon what money you get for a barrel of oil.

Last year, the current Minister of Health and Community Services was the Minister of Finance last I do believe - it is hard to tell because sometimes the revolving door thing takes over the government side and there are people in a government department, out of a government department. I made a comment last week, for example, on the Department of Health that there have been so many ministers in and out of the Department of Health in the last two years that they took the hinges off the door and put in a revolving door. That is how many they have in the Department of Health.

Anyway, that continues, but the former minister of last year's Budget said we are going to have – I believe the figure was a $750 million deficit roughly, somewhere around $750 million deficit. That was based upon a barrel of oil being $50. If we can get $50 a barrel he said, we are going to have a deficit of $750 million. Well, fortunately they got better than $50 a barrel. The oil prices crept up. It did not go up to the historic high. We had highs of, what, $149 – $140 a barrel at one point there last year when it hit the stratosphere. Great if it stayed up there for us. The minister would be swimming in cash if that were the case. He had that benefit for a couple of years, but of course the oil industry, like everything else, is subject to global whims, global economic circumstances. Anyway, he was fortunate. He did not get $50 a barrel; he got more, thank God.

Again, by the way, they do not control this. He cannot say I am going to get $50 or I am going to get $70. It is all subject to international pricing. The minister has no control over that, as to what the barrel of oil gets sold for just because it comes out of the water out here off Newfoundland and Labrador. That is determined by bigger players in the industry than this government. I think we average somewhere in the seventies, the high seventies - $68 or so last year. So that made the benefit better.

What is the minister saying this year? This year the minister is saying we are going to have $195 million deficit – last year it was $750 million. This year they are saying we are going to have a $195 million deficit. Last year, he thought he was going to get $50 a barrel; this year he is saying he is going to get roughly $83 a barrel. Now, folks, I think if anybody went back and checked, I do not think the barrel of oil has averaged $83 in the last year at all. It might have been up over a couple of times, it might have been down, but in order for this government to meet the expectations of this Budget, they have to get – I believe the actual figure was $83.48 a barrel in order to meet the projections.

Now, I am just wondering because last year the minister of the day said: Well, we hope we are going to get $50. At that time, the barrel of oil was at $60 and he hoped to get $50; we will make it be okay. This year we know we are not up at the $83.48 mark and he is saying that is the mark we are going to use. So I do not understand how the different ministers pick and choose their numbers as to what they are going to base their budget on. I realize it is not an exact science but that seems to be a total one person has a low number when the prices are fairly high and another one picks a high number and the prices are not there. So it is hard to say.

The reason I ask that - and I am sure the minister will tell us when he gets a chance to respond as to, hopefully he will tell us anyway who he is getting his information from. I mean I am sure they just do not sit around the Cabinet table and decide well let's pick a price. They have people in the Department of Finance that have contacts in the oil industry and get their projections and so on and estimates. The reason I ask is the Government of Alberta, which is pretty on the ball too when it comes to oil, they have a little bit more history than we have in terms of extracting and selling oil. The Government of Alberta this year in its budget is only assuming $78.75, and they are hoping the next year out it might go up to about $83.50. So I am wondering what makes the minister think that the Alberta people who obviously did their due diligence, what makes him think that they are off the wall here. They are the other, as I understand it, big oil producer in the country. I would think you would be fairly well close, but no, Newfoundland is thinking, Newfoundland and Labrador, that we might be okay in going with that figure.

So, the bottom line is I think the government and the minister are a little bit optimistic when you talk about what is coming from our fisheries. Well, if what was on the steps of Confederation Building was any indication yesterday, I would not take that to be good.

If you look at what is happening in the mining industry, which I just alluded to in detail, I would not count on that. If you look at the oil industry, let's hope we get it. I hope the prices go to $140 in that regard in terms of what money it puts in. Now it causes some problems too, because obviously when prices go we end up gaining on the revenue side, but there are all kinds of problems that cause for people too, gas prices go up and everything else. You have people impacted by that. Heating fuels and so on, people trying to heat their homes and whatever. So you have issues there as well.

Let's look at another piece that puts money in the pie; that is the forest industry. I would not think the Minister of Finance put too many high hopes on what is going to come into this Province from the forest industry. The forest industry, to put it quite bluntly in this Province in the last couple of years, has been devastated – absolutely devastated. We used to have a paper mill in Stephenville; we are not banking on that one. I do believe that most of that has been dismantled and recycled under this government's watch. We are not looking at any big income from them.

We used to be able to look to Central Newfoundland at one time. I do not think we are going to expect anything from the forest industry in Central Newfoundland in the fiscal year 2010 because it does not exist anymore either. Two out of the three – they say three strikes and you are out, by the way. We had three industries: we had one in Stephenville; we had one in Central, Abitibi; and we have one in Corner Brook, Kruger.

If the minister is expecting good things from the forest industry, it can only possibly come from Corner Brook, Kruger, because that is all we have now in terms of the mills. I gather from a little section that I saw in the Budget yesterday that Kruger is not on good times. In fact, I do believe I saw a figure of 50 per cent down. In fact, this government, in order to keep Kruger alive – and by the way, I absolutely agree with this investment; I think it is a good investment. The government has agreed in this Budget to put $30 million into Kruger in Corner Brook. I think we have to do it; the industry worldwide is on bad times.

We have already lost two: Stephenville and Grand Falls-Windsor. We cannot risk the possibility of losing our one and only surviving paper mill in Corner Brook. The spokesperson - I read a clip in one of the media sources this morning - for Kruger said: Thank God. If this is possibly going to salvage it - if we never had this, we were done, we were history.

The government - it was not just a straight pump the money in thing. It is very pleasing to see the Premier and the Minister of Finance both represent the Corner Brook area where Kruger is set up. If I am a business functioning in Corner Brook and I need help, I would feel pretty solid when I went looking if I have the Premier and the Minister of Finance in my corner. That is one good thing they had going for them. More importantly, it is because it could be justified and it was needed. We cannot risk losing the third one.

The government is going to get back some timber rights. It was not just a straight here is your $30 million. Now, I do not know how it equates, whether they are getting back $30 million worth of timber rights. Quite frankly, I do not think that is the name of the game. I do not think you need to. Somebody asked me this morning, however, they said: I wonder though why government never got an equity stake in Kruger for $30 million? I mean, go figure. If we can invest hundreds of millions of dollars into Nalcor to go buy stakes in Hebron and so on and the White Rose expansion and the Hibernia South, I wonder why government – or did they think about saying to Kruger: we are going to give you $30 million, but rather than just getting back some timber rights, we want an equity stake in you too? Why wouldn't we? In fact, that is a renewable resource as opposed to the oil industry. So where does this: we want to be equities when it comes to our resources – I wonder where that begins and ends with this Administration?

We would have seen the – I met the gentleman. I think it was Joe Kruger, was his name. I met him years ago in Montreal. I wonder what Mr. Kruger would have thought about that if the government had said: Yes, if you want our money, here it is, give us an equity stake. If you want us to play with you and be partners and supportive of you, give us 10 per cent of your industry. Give us 10 per cent of your company, at least in the Newfoundland portion of it, so that when the industry rebounds we can see some bucks for our return. We can get some return on our dollars rather than just a straight giveaway. Because this government, by the way, you will recall that this is the government that does not give things away.

So I am just wondering if the thought process on equity investments was applied to the Kruger deal, and if not, why not? It cannot be any more complicated than getting involved in the oil industry; it cannot be. I do not see the downside really. If you invest your $30 million, which you have done anyway, and it shuts down, well, fine that is going to be the same result right now. If you put your $30 million in, it cannot be any more risky than drilling holes out in Parsons Pond looking for oil. It cannot be any more risky. So just applying some of the logic – I do not know if government is short-sighted in its way of looking at its investments, or is it because some people in this government have an inkling and an interest in a certain industry, i.e. the oil industry, so that is where we can go, but we cannot go in the forest industry. I look forward to the minister giving me some information in that regard.

That is the overview piece where I think that the government - and I pray that the predictions that this Minister of Finance and this government has based this Budget upon, that they all come true, plus. I would love to see the mining industry recover by 60 per cent. I would love to see the fishing industry recover and have a bountiful year. I would love to see the forest industry rebound. I do not know, by the way, if there is any payback on the $30 million other than – before I forget that, the minister can probably answer that. Is there any payback associated with the $30 million or did the timber rights cover it off?

Then, of course, in the mining industry, hopefully the strike ends, the expansions go ahead, the price of iron ore goes through the roof, and everybody is happy and the minister can sit here and say we never had $195 million deficit, we ended up with a surplus. We would all be very happy, but anyway, we will see next year. We will see next year where that goes.

Now, just looking at some of the departments within government, I will get a little bit more specific now. I said we would do the treetops but we need to get down into the branches. Let's look at some of the departments and what is in this Budget about them. From what I have checked here, the figures again, the minister - either minister, the Minister of Natural Resources or the Minister of Finance can correct me if I am wrong on any of this, but from what I see here over one-half of the department budget for the Department of Natural Resources is in payment for ownership in energy stakes.

In other words, we have a Department of Natural Resources that governs all of this stuff, oil, gas, mining, forestry, agrifoods, you name it. I understand from my read of this Budget that one-half of the budget of that department has nothing to do with program administration, nothing to do with silviculture, but it is all about - $164 million, I believe is the figure, of the $294 million that is in that department is payment for ownership in energy stakes. Which, by the way, that whole issue of whether we should ever buy equity stakes – I guess it is not up in the air because the government has started down the road. So we know where the government is going with it, but not everybody agrees with that. Yes, there are jurisdictions in the world where the political entities have bought into equities, into the oil industry, some do not.

Alberta, for example, they do not buy into the equities in these companies, the ExxonMobils, or the Chevrons, or the Petro-Canadas. They just say: Look, it is our oil. You go out, if you want to extract it, fine, here is what you are going to pay us as a royalty. We do not have any downside on that. For every barrel you take out of the ground, or in our case out of the ocean, give us a cut. It is clean, tidy, whether it be 2 per cent, 5 per cent, whatever you negotiate, but this government did not say that. This government said we want to buy in, and they have given their reasons as to why they want to buy in but not everybody agrees that it is good.

I know the Leader of the Opposition, for example, vehemently disagrees with equity purchasing. She is of the opinion that we do not need to do it; there is a risk side to it, because not only do you have to buy in, you have issues of what the construction costs are going to be and you have to contribute to them. You have possible environmental issues. What if we have another Exxon Valdez, for example, out in Placentia Bay? This government is on the hook. You cannot say then: well, my 5 per cent or my 4.9 per cent, that just bought me into the profits when you share them up at the end of the year. The players in that company are going to be saying thank you very much, but give us your 4.9 per cent toward the environmental catastrophe we just had as well. So, there are upsides and downsides to that.

In terms of the Department of Natural Resources, it is a big budget, but most of it is a straight flow through. At least half of it is a straight flow through. The minister picks it up in the Budget process, off it goes to Nalcor. That is a small one this year, by the way, $164 million. I do believe it was double that before. In the last number of years they have doubled what they put into Nalcor.

Then you look at the Department of Business. The former Minister of Health now fills that role. I call it the department that continues to hope it can give money away but does not. Yes, that is about the size of it. I said at the Estimates Committee – another member was the minister at the time; he is retired now, but he was the minister of the Department of Business - I said: Could you tell me where you spent your money last year?

He could not tell me. This was in Estimates Committee. Now, that is the place, by the way, where you would like to have televised cameras. That is the place where they should have the TV. That is a process, by the way, we take this Budget - just so that my friends Joe and Martha can understand this one, too, we take a process here called Estimates whereby we get each minister and all of his officials, they sit over across the House, and we in the Opposition – and the government members, if they want, but I have never, ever heard a question asked – can question the minister: What does this mean? What do you do with that? What about this project? Where did you spend that money? It is a give and take. It is not like Question Period where you are limited to thirty minutes. You ask a question in Question Period – and that is why it is called Question Period, by the way, not answer period, because ministers rarely give answers.

In the Estimates process you can actually drill a minister and his officials as to what is going on in his department. But, guess what? They will not televise that. I have asked several times: How come we cannot televise Estimates? Surely, if you are the minister and you have all these officials around you, if you did not have the answer surely somebody in your department has the answer. No, they will not televise that.

Now - you want to talk about open and accountable - that is a process that would make governments truly open and accountable. We would not be just getting the treetops then. We would be able to grill the ministers and find out exactly what is going on. If they said: well, I don't have the answer. Well, why don't you have the answer? If they gave you an answer that you knew was not correct or was incorrect or not complete, why isn't it? That is when you get into the real cut and thrust of it, but we do not have that in our system, of course; but hopefully we will, from this open and accountable government as they claim to be, see that some time in the future. I doubt it, given some of the concerns that Mr. Ring is currently having in the Supreme Court and so on. I doubt it.

Anyway, back to the Department of Business. Last year they had a Business Attraction Fund. They were budgeted to give away $35 million. Now, by the way, that is not to say you just give money away for the sake of giving money away, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, there has to be due diligence done. Obviously, you have to have people who apply for the money. You can have all the money in the world in your department, if nobody applies for it how can you give it away? So, it is called a Business Attraction Fund. Last year they were budgeted $35 million. They gave away - I say gave away, I use that term in terms of lending and so on. They put out $10.3 million, less than one-third of what they had budgeted. Now, we will find out when we get in Estimates who they gave it to. Well, we know that because this government is very good on announcing, too, who they gave it to. I believe there was a Rolls-Royce crowd out in Mount Pearl who was a part of this. Everybody has heard that name before, Rolls-Royce. It sounds like a pretty rich name to me. Well, anyway, they got some of the money. This effective government has only gotten one-third of its money out the door. Why? Is the program not working? Are we not having enough applicants? Are the criteria too strict? What is going on when only one-third of what you budgeted is getting out there?

This year I noticed in the Budget they have $34.5 million. Hopefully, we will have better success rates. By the way, some people ask me the difference between the Department of Business and the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. My understanding of it is that the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development deals with businesses within the Province, whereas the Department of Business deals with attracting businesses from outside the Province. We have not been very successful in attracting those businesses from outside. Hopefully the Department of Business will have better luck this year.

This is a good one. This is really, really, one of the good ones I call it: the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs. Sometimes we have it, sometimes we do not. Certain Premiers like it, certain Premiers do not, so we do or do not sometimes have an IGA they call it – an Intergovernmental Affairs Department. The best thing they are known for in the last seven years is an office in Ottawa. That is the famous Dr. Feelgood. Of course, you all know about Dr. Feelgood. I stuck that name on him because Dr. John FitzGerald of Memorial University, the Premier appointed him because that was the Premier's pet peeve. He was going to put this rep in Ottawa who was going to open all the doors and smooth the pathways in the halls of power, behind the scenes sort of guy, when we needed to talk to the people in Ottawa on a project, and keep the lines of communication open and so on.

Guess what, folks? We have not seen a report from either of the two people who ever filled that position. You will remember it was Mr. Bill Rowe, who is an Open Line host, who took it. Mr. Rowe left it after a certain period of time and came back to the Province. We have had it filled since by Dr. FitzGerald. He has left as of a few months ago; he is out of it. There is nobody there now.

The question is - and I was looking in the Budget yesterday but we did not see that; we will find that out as we go through Estimates - is there any money built in the Estimates this year for that office, or are they going to give up on that now? Are they going to shut the doors on that? Because some people question whether there ever should have been a door open in the first place.

We asked the former Ministers of IGA here in the House: Well, what does that person do? Can you give us a report? No, no, he reports to the Premier. Does anybody see it? No, no, you cannot see it. What does it cost? Hundreds of thousands of dollars; paid the person, rented a place.

The most we ever got out of him - and we had to go through the freedom of information to get that, by the way - the most we ever got out of him was that he picks up people at the airports when they arrive; he calls over and arranges their meetings with ministers of the federal Crown, and he makes sure that they get there. I would call that a limousine service. That is why I called it Dr. Feelgood's limousine service, because nobody else knew what he did. Anyway, he is gone now, shuffled off into the bowels of the public service. We don't know where he is going to end up, don't know what he does now either, but he is gone; but we do not know where the office is going to go.

By the way, the overall reason for that person's existence was to improve federal-provincial relations. Imagine, now, the Premier of today, when he came in, in 2003, created that position for that representative in Ottawa to improve federal-provincial relations. I do not know about anybody else who has been in this Province in the last six or seven years, but I have not seen much improvement in federal relations. I have seen a lot of downgrading of federal-provincial relations. I mean the relationship between our Premier and the Prime Minister, for example, the current Prime Minister Harper, is nothing short of toxic. We had the famous ABC campaign, Anybody but Conservative, where the Premier of this Province went out and campaigned against anybody who was running as a Conservative for Prime Minister Harper, blocked them out. I do not think a lot of them needed their help. I am sure MP Jerry Byrne on the West Coast, and MP Russell from up in Labrador did not need his help. I am sure Mr. Harris, the NDP who ran in St. John's East did not need the Premier's help. I am sure MP Foote, who ran in my district, did not need the Premier's help. They would have gotten elected anyway, but there were a couple of districts, for example, that were tricky, that I am sure he played a part in. I do not know what Dr. Feelgood was doing while the ABC campaign was going on, because there were not many doors being opened to him them. The Premier was saying don't elect any Conservatives, so I doubt if the Conservatives up in Ottawa were saying: Well, come on over, John; we will gear up a meeting for you. I do not think that was on.

Of course, the whole issue of federal-provincial relations tied in, and a part of all of this, we have seen two persons who had acrimonious, I guess would be the word, relationships with the Premier and the party disappear from this House only to seek their rewards in the big Red Chamber in Ottawa, the Senate. We had the case of Mr. Manning, for example, kicked out of the local caucus, the provincial caucus here - kicked out. What does Mr. Harper do? We will look after you, he said; we will put you in the Senate.

Now I am sure that caused a little bit of gall on the Premier. I mean, here was his nemesis, the former Member for Ferryland, who had been kicked out of the caucus, now gone off to the Senate. I am sure the good Senator Manning now laughs every day he gets out of bed and puts his socks on.

By the way, he is the mailman for us now; he is the cash drop. Any money that comes from the federal government, you only need look on TV or look in the local R&B papers or The Telegram, and what do you see? Senator Manning passing out the cheques on all of these big infrastructure projects. That must really gall - that has to gall you - when the person who you thought, now I am going to fix you, and here he is every day in your face passing out cheques and getting credit for him and for Mr. Harper for so doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


Of course, the other person I am referring to, who left most recently, is the former Member for Topsail, former Auditor General, former Minister of Health and Community Services, who left that position, that ministerial post, of course, in a tiff with the Premier. She sat up in the back benches in this House for the next five years. She got re-elected, of course. There was no such thing as Anybody but Beth or whatever, because he could not dethrone her out in Topsail, no question about that. Anyway, she sat and languished in the back rows, one of the best minds we have ever had in the Province - fiscal minds, financial responsibility and so on - languished in the back rows of the House. I do not know if she got to speak very often. I don't think she did.

Anyway, Mr. Harper, as recently as just before Christmas – you talk about the relationship now continuing to be toxic, Mr. Manning went off a couple of years ago. You wonder, well, are these gentlemen going to patch this up? You figure maybe they are going patch it up. Then I heard, oh, yes, they are patching it up because the Premier is having a meeting tomorrow in St. John's with Prime Minister Harper at three o'clock. I said, well, that is it; they are on the road to re-establishing their relationship, no question; we are going to be better off for this.

Usually, you get more from someone if you are friends than if you are enemies. That is usually the way the world works. If you are enemies with someone, you do not normally get as much as you would expect if you were friendly with them. So, I said, we have it made. The Premier has agreed; they are going to meet in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Friday at three o'clock. I said this is great for us.

Lo and behold, what happens? First thing Friday morning we hear on the news that Ms Marshall, the second nemesis, I will call her, of the Premier, who he had the disagreement with and booted out of Cabinet, she is gone off to the Red Chamber. Now, you mean to say that is not the Prime Minister of Canada rubbing the Premier's nose in it? He knew he had a meeting geared up for 3:00 p.m., knew about the history between the Member for Topsail and the Premier, and what does he do? He says, I am going to put her in the Senate the same as I did with Mr. Manning. So off she goes.

Now what that means, of course, is that Mr. Manning has to split his postman's duties now because he is not going to get to carry all the cheques any more. Obviously, as soon as Ms Marshall – Senator Marshall - gets settled away, she will be bringing down some of the cheques as well. Just imagine if we had a good relationship what we would do, instead of two people trying to be spiteful towards each other.

The other department I will move on to now: ITRD, Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. This is all tied into the Budget, of course, money wise, because all of that money, the IGA, the office expenses for the representatives and so on, it is all about money. The relationship between the feds and the Province, that is all about money. The better the relationship, the more the money, I would submit. ITRD – now, you might ask yourself: What has been the biggest single project of this government in ITRD since they got elected in 2003? Well, I do not know if there is one single biggest project. I can think of two major projects.

You hear about a lot of little stuff that they do, but the two single biggest things that stand out in ITRD were the fibre optics piece and the closure of the mill. For example, that department, headed by the minister, has been spearheading the committee when Abitibi shut down in Central, put over 700 people out of work, about 169 of whom have been lucky enough to find work since. That department, one of the biggest things they did, they put $40 million into trying to salvage the situation out there.

Now, I will not even get into commenting on what happened in terms of the expropriation, what they intended to do, what they actually did, and the fact that we ended up with a mill in Central that we did not want, and potentially now attached to that mill we have all kinds of environmental concerns. There are

There are 500-million-dollar lawsuits going on, and actions going on, between the Province and the federal government and Abitibi, all associated with that through the NAFTA regulations. God knows, I would suggest we will all be long out of politics before it is finally resolved. Anybody sitting in the House today will be long gone before we see the end result, and I say that includes even the members who were just newly elected. It will be years and years down the road when we hear the results and the fallout, the final fallout, on the Abitibi situation in Central.

Now, I do not think, by the way, that project has much to do with innovation or rural renewal, what that department is dealing with in Central. We might be trying to salvage something, but I do not think it has much to do with renewal.

The other one, of course, was a fibre optic one. It took $15 million pumped into a deal to put high-speed Internet across this Province. Oh, a great deal! The way that it happened was a little bit suspect of course. We saw, for example, that there was a fire down at Aliant here in town one night. Lo and behold, bang, within days this other group, who happened to have some people associated with it who were good friends of the Premier, Persona; all of a sudden they are out, in comes $15 million on the government coffers and gets pumped into it. Now you want to see the spin doctors go to work in justifying that $15 million. No sweat, we are going to have high-speed Internet. Every nook and cranny in this Province is going to have high-speed Internet. We are going to improve our health system. We are going to improve our education system. We are going to put Memorial University on the map because of it in terms of distance education. We are going to connect and link every single government agency in this Province as a result of that investment. We are going to tie together all of our school boards and our hospital boards and our social service offices and our law courts - great project.

Guess what, folks? We are here now, I believe it is five years out, we had it announced by this minister recently: Sorry folks, we are not going to do that high-speed project now; that is off the table. What has happened minister? Well we cannot do it because it is too costly - cannot do it, too costly. By the way, the Auditor General did a report on this which came out very - I do not know if we would call it conveniently, came out the day before or the day of the election being called in 2007 and said he did not think there was anything particularly wrong with the fibre optic deal, but only time would tell and depending on how the fibre optic and the high-speed worked out. Well I guess we know now the answer, it did not work out, there is no high-speed Internet; we do not have the connectivity that we were promised to have.

All we get is an announcement and a little press release saying: Project not going ahead. I do not know if there was even a release on it. It might have been hidden in the body of a release about something else. Nothing compared to the ballyhoo that we had when they put the money in. Then it begs the question: What happened to the $15 million? Who got it? We know it went into the company, what did we get for it? Is there anybody asking that question now in government? What did we get for our $15 million investment? Can somebody tell us?

Those are a few questions we are going to have, of course, for the Minister of ITRD when we get to Estimates and, no doubt, in Question Period and so on. We just have not had time to get around to them, there are so many issues on the go here in the Province concerning air ambulances and fisheries and health care, lab problems. We just have not even had a chance to get to those types of questions yet.

So, you question about where some of these departments are headed. I looked in the Budget yesterday and I looked specifically to see how many times the word strategic was in the Budget Speech because there is no government in the history of mankind who has ever used the word strategic more than this Administration.

I went on the Internet today, just before coming to the House actually, and I said I must Google strategic in the Newfoundland and Labrador archives and see just how strategic are we being. I do not have enough time, I only have an hour and forty-three minutes left, I do not have enough time to get into the merits of all of them. I will just give you an example of some of their forty that I just picked off today – forty different strategies.

The Internet strategy – well, I hope that is not the one I just talked about on the fibre optics, because if that is their Internet strategy, we see where that went. Now, one here I have to say I give you kudos; Tourism Marketing Strategy, good stuff. I have seen some of the ads; some of the promos were fantastic, presented this Province in a fantastic light, nationally, internationally. Hopefully, we will, for years to come, see the results of people who come to this Province as a result of it. The innovation strategy, we are still working on that one.

The Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy - now, I think anybody and everybody in this House represents a district that the waste management strategy has been a subject of conversation and debate and concern and challenge. Obviously, it is not completed. I saw things in the paper down here the other day, I believe, where the Eastern committee for waste management does not know where it is going. I do not think any member in this House could actually tell you where we are going to go with waste management in this Province. We have been told where we would like to go or suggested where they would like to go, but we are obviously not there. That is another strategy.

The Atlantic Groundfish Strategy - now, that one has gone a long ways, the Atlantic Groundfish Strategy. Yes, we have made big strides in that one.

Now, the Poverty Reduction Strategy, championed by this Province, has one of the leading programs in the country, other people emulate it and say it is a great program and so on. Yet, if you check this very Budget when they talk about last year, the amount of money that has gone into social assistance recipients in this Province went up last year. So we might have a strategy, but we are certainly not going to solve all the problems.

The Provincial Geomatics Strategy; Certification Strategy - oh, another good one in the fishing industry: the Cod Recovery Strategy; Research and Development Strategy; Regional Diversification Strategy; Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy; Ocean Technology Strategy. Now, some of these – I will not go through all forty of them, but there is one I came across here that really, really caught my interest. I have to find out from the relevant minister what this one means. This one is the Recovery Strategy for Crowded Wormseed Mustard.


MR. SPEAKER (T. Osborne): Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Now, I have no idea what wormseed mustard is, but this government is into something called a Recovery Strategy for Crowded Wormseed Mustard. Yes, sir, the Provincial Wellness Strategy. Oh, this is another good one: the Fishing Industry Renewal Strategy; provincial energy strategy; the Tobacco Reduction Strategy; that is just a few of them.

The reason I say that is this is a government that came into power based upon having all kinds of good ideas. We are going to do things differently. We are going to change things fiscally, economically, culturally, socially, and they came up with all these strategies. Every one of these strategies has been touted, no doubt, in repeat Throne Speeches. Well, you can see just from my reference to some of them, particularly the fisheries ones, you can strategize all you want, but if you cannot see the results on the ground, and if people do not get the benefits of the strategy, what was the point, other than trying to let people believe that you actually were smart enough that you had a strategy? That is just an example. I did not even have time to go get some of the other many, many dozens of strategies that this government has been involved in.

Now, I do not want to run out of time before I get there, but I would like to make a few comments on who thought what of the Budget yesterday. As I say, depending on who you represent and your personal situation, you might or might not have liked this Budget. This is the first one, by the way, the first one that I got a sense from the general public that all is not well with this Administration from an economic, financial point of view. I will come back to the issue of the deficit piece – I have not even touched that yet. That is good for three hours in and of itself, the deficit. This government, of course, I remember speeches about we do not want to put a millstone around the necks of our children and grandchildren. Well I think anybody who read the articles today and listened to the news commentaries, certainly from the media perspective, there is not a lot of pleasure out in the media about the deficits. In fact, there was a suggestion that it was pretty hypocritical to be talking in a budget about it being a budget for children, when at the same time, you are continuing to proliferate deficits and build the public debt.

Some people were saying that is pretty inconsistent. How are you making a budget for children if you are going to build up the debt, and that these same children have to pay it off or be stuck with it down the road? I believe that was an argument and a suggestion that this government made about former governments. Well it seems like now it is okay to do it.

Anyway, the Federation of Labour, Ms Payne, she says that people should not be upset by the deficit; she says it is relatively small and it can be addressed. Mr. George of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, he was not pleased. He said it could have done to put more money into tax reductions, rather than into the public sector. Now, of course, he represents business.

Then, of course, the St. John's Board of Trade – the first time I ever heard anyone, I think, in the last four or five years from the Board of Trade express any kind of negativity toward this government; a little bit of reservation this time. A gentleman, Mr. Sullivan, says while he is not surprised by the deficit, they would prefer to see a balanced budget. Two years in a row now we have had deficits. That is only, by the way, on an accrual basis. I will come back to that later about what the actual deficits are if you look at cash versus accrual basis.

The Teachers' Association, Ms Lily said they are disappointed that their request for discretionary leave was not addressed; so a few disaffected people out there. Mr. Langdon of the Public Service Pensioners' is terribly upset. He thought this was their year; the public service pensioners' would get some kind of acknowledgement by the government and a little increase in their pensions. Not a word, not a word of it! Ms Furlong of NAPE, she says: Overall, it is a very positive Budget. Again, you see the little reservations coming out. She questions where the money is for home care; so yes, but little bits of questioning here. That is the public take on where it is.

Now, I am going to go through some more of the departments, and some more of the actual - drill down into some of the things that different departments are going to do. The Minister of Transportation, I am sure, will be interested. That is the first one off the top. There are a lot of questions in the Department of Transportation. He has a tough job. He does not only have to deal with land, he has to deal with air, he has to deal with ferries, you know, pretty tough. Particularly in recent days, I guess. I see him announcing the devastation that he inflicted upon St. Anthony in the air ambulance. That must have been pretty tough to do.

My first comments are on the construction of the new ferries. In this Budget they said government will proceed with the construction of six new ferries. There is going to be five for the South Coast of the Island, and there is going one for the South Coast of Labrador. I have a personal interest as well, as MHA for the District of Burgeo & La Poile, in finding out a little bit more detail on where these five boats on the South Coast are going to go.

My district takes in an isolated community called La Poile. Usually that service operates out of Rose Blanche to La Poile. We also have, of course, from Burgeo to Ramea, we have the Gallipoli. Then, of course, we have other chartered vessels that run down to Grey River, go on down to Franηois. So ferry services are pretty important in my district. We would like to know - I will get into a bit more detail with the minister when we get a chance to find out - where are these five going to go? How big are they going to be? What are they going to be built like? What are they going to be built of? Can you carry freight on them? How many passengers can you carry on them? I would like to get into a little bit of the nitty-gritty detail of where they are. Now, the other thing that is often said - and this is a reactionary government, there is no doubt about it. When it comes to being proactive and planning and strategies you may have a problem with this government, but when it comes to reacting, there is no question about it, they will react, and they will react to anything. Absolutely!

I will give you a couple of examples in regard to the ferry thing. Government said repeatedly we are going to build some new ferries, came up with a strategy to do some, but they left a big piece out of the strategy. They forgot to say that as part of our strategy we are going to make sure that they get built here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Imagine now! This is the government that prides itself on saying: No more giveaways. No more giveaways. Well, folks, I do not care if it is a job in the oil industry or a job in the mining industry, if you are going to let contracts that are worth millions and millions of dollars to the people of this Province in terms of jobs and employment benefits go outside this Province, you have given it away. You have given it away. If you have allowed somebody in a shipyard in Quebec or in New Brunswick to build our ferries, you have a problem. Guess what? When government announced all of this stuff that was not part of it, but what brought it to the forefront? What made the government react? Well, there was a little thing called a by-election in the District of Terra Nova. It took place in the fall last year, 2009. The politicians get on the ground out there of course, and the people were starting to ask questions. They said, by the way, how come the government is not getting these five ships, six ships built in Newfoundland and Labrador somewhere? That is when it started, and it grew just as fast as that. They reacted.

For example, maybe people do not know but we have at least five places in this Province that can build ships. We have a place called Marystown where we can do this. We have a place called Glovertown, which is in the District of Terra Nova. We have a place called the St. John's Dockyard. We have ship building facilities in Clarenville, and we can build ships in Bay Bulls. That is five, at least, and here we were going to build these ships and we did not put any restrictions on where they are going to be built. Anyway, thank goodness, the by-election in Terra Nova cemented that. The government, right away, said: My God, we can't have that issue outstanding. It might impact the by-election. It might make some people vote differently if we are not going to keep those jobs in Glovertown. So what we are going to do, we are going to change all of that. Sure enough, they did. What did they do yesterday? They came out and touted themselves and patted themselves on the back and said: Oh, by the way, those ships, we are going to build them in Newfoundland and Labrador now. Thank you very much. Would they have ever done that if it did not become an issue in Terra Nova? Would they have ever thought of that if the Opposition had not raised it through press releases and in Question Period and stuff? I do not think so, and I think we are fooling ourselves to think that they might.

By the way, when it comes to the ferry replacement, the Vessel Replacement Strategy, there was a consult. The company's name was BMT Fleet Technology Ltd. They did the report back in March, 2006. Now we are not to where the report said, because you noticed today when we talked about air ambulance, the government took it hook, line and sinker and said: Oh yeah, the consultant said it; it has to be right, we have to do it. Boom! No questions asked. My God, it is independent. A consultant said it. How can you question that? That is the justification I heard as recently as today in Question Period. My God, we didn't do this! That was this consultant who told us to scrap St. Anthony. That was the consultant who told us. He has to be right, he is independent. Well, guess what? On the vessel strategy the person was independent too, and he did not say five vessels, he said nine. We did not get nine. So, it is pick and choose, depending on whether we want to take the medicine and swallow the medicine or not with this government.

There are also questions we need to ask, and I am not saying it is right or wrong here, but we need some explanations out there. We have companies in this Province, for example, I can think of the Puddisters as one, who for years and years have provided, through contracts, these vessels to operate the ferry service in our Province. I am just wondering where they fit in the picture or will they fit in the picture at all once the new ferries are constructed, because obviously - and again, does the construction of it require – has there been any thought put into it? Is government going to operate these the same as they do the Gallipoli, for example? The Gallipoli is staffed, serviced, paid for by provincial government employees. That is not the case, for example, on the ferry that runs from Port aux Basques to Grand Bruit and La Poile. That is a privately contracted one. The contractor puts on the staff. The contractor pays for the staff. So are these new vessels going to be staffed by provincial government employees? What is the operational impact of that? That is the kind of questions we will need to be asking some questions about. That was, by the way, back in 2006, and that was recommended. The word that was used in the report was that we need to replace these vessels urgently, urgently. Here we are 2010, we are four years out, and we have not decided yet where we are going.

MR. DENINE: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, the Minister of IGA mentions a Hull 100. Yes, I remember all about that one. I guess it goes to show that once you make fun once you have to be careful don't you if you live in a glass house? You have to be very careful. You have to be very careful don't you minister?

The other thing too, looking at the ferries - and I hope the government, besides getting them built here in Newfoundland and Labrador - the Auditor General pointed out the issue of the Public Tender Act; a couple of very serious violations, by the way. This was not just the case of something got overlooked and it was a minor oversight. The Auditor General detailed it in his report, two fairly substantial contraventions of the Public Tender Act. So, hopefully when we are going to do this, that we do it right. We are saying we are on the right track and are going to put it in the Province, well let's make sure we do it right. Let's not contravene the law in the course of getting it done.

Now, in terms of the air transport again. I will not even get into the details on St. Anthony again because we have seen the Premier's reaction today. I think anybody in this Province who is thinking - and there are a lot of people in this Province who think very well and very clearly, they know quite well what happened in St. Anthony. The governing party lost the by-election and there was a little bit of vindictiveness, that is all; simple, short and sweet. You have to get payback because you did not come along and put in a governing member, as simple as that. They have the rationalization to justify their actions and away we go. That is exactly what it was. The good mayor, not only the MHA for the district out saying that, but the good Mayor of St. Anthony is out saying that as well, the same thing.

On the bomber aircraft; we are going to get four bomber aircraft. That is in the Department of Transportation as well. I do note that in their Strategic Plan of 2008, according to that plan, the first bomber was supposed to be in place by March 31, 2010. I guess we are a little bit behind on that one. I do not think we are going to see either one of these water bombers by Thursday of this week, if they are not there right now.

Infrastructure - very good expenditures, by the way, on infrastructure – I absolutely agree with the provincial and the federal government on putting money into infrastructure, no question about it. The only difficulty, of course, is when you try to equate the fact that you put money into infrastructure with suggesting that you have a plan for economic renewal or economic development. It is not. It is exactly what it is; it is renewing infrastructure.

For example, it does nothing to replace the hundreds of jobs in Stephenville when the airport closed. It does nothing to replace the jobs in Central Newfoundland, because you are going to fix the hospital in Central or build a school in Central. The government would have you believe that because we are putting millions of dollars into the infrastructure, that is our Plan B. Nobody is being fooled out there; it is not a Plan B. Yes, it puts money in people's pockets; it gives some people some money to spend to buy things, at least while the project is going on; it gives the people who work in these facilities a nice place to work, but it is not a plan for economic rural development - far from it.

In talking about that, we had a great speech here last week by the Member for Baie Verte-Springdale -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: - talking about we care. The theme of his speech was: We Care. He was very passionate about it. In fact, I almost bought into it myself. It was very evangelical. I almost bought into it myself, and I thought they really cared. I am sure they do care about some things. It would be facetious of me to suggest that members are not caring for their districts; they are.

There are little incidents, of course, in everybody's district. For example, there has been a petition sent in from the good people in Baie Verte-Springdale, asking the member who cares to introduce it in this House. We have not seen it. We have not seen it. The people of Baie Verte-Springdale are still waiting to see if he cares enough to bring the petition in about the roads. We will see now when we come back from the Easter break, if he is going to bring that petition forward. We will see where the ‘We Care' speech goes the next time around.

Now, the other thing is - and we have to get some clarification from the Minister of Transportation on this, too - I am looking at a press release. It came out of The Telegram, I do believe, March 30, which is today, and he talks about ten new vessels. The Budget talks about six, and the minister is talking about ten.

We will be getting into some questions, of course, when we get to Estimates, about what is the ten. You are talking about six; you are talking about five getting built now. By the way, as I understand it, this Budget only commits to financing the construction of three, not six. The only commitment at this point is the three. So there are lots of questions around the ferry policy, but there is no doubt that it is needed.

Now, let me switch off and take a little snapshot of Labrador, and some of the issues that the Budget deals with in Labrador. I am sure the Leader of the Opposition, when her opportunity comes to talk about the Budget, she will get her one hour or two hours that she gets over time to talk about it. She represents a Labrador district, of course, and she is much more knowledgeable about the areas than I would be, but as Finance critic we have to address and should discuss and comment on the whole Province. We have $88.6 million in cost-shared funding to continue Phase I surfacing between Goose Bay and Lab West and the completion of Phase III - great stuff. For anybody, of course, who lives anywhere, having a good road transit system is absolutely necessary, not only to get around but also to develop your resources.

I guess the difficulty and the challenge we have in Labrador is, as its name says, the Big Land, it takes big money to do it. Fortunately, over the years, every government, I think, since the mid-nineties has been trying to wrestle with the problem and finally we are starting to see it come to fruition where we get a usable, passable system. $3.2 million to construct a weigh-scale facility on the Labrador West end of the Trans-Labrador Highway, which includes the creation of six weigh-scale inspector positions.

I guess one question is why in Lab West versus on the Goose Bay end? I do not understand the logistics of that myself, but we will certainly find that out as time goes on. Why not put one on each end or whatever? I just do not know the logistics of the rationale for that, but we will be asking those questions.

Extra RCMP officers - that will increase the patrols to Postville. Postville is the only northern Labrador community that does not have a permanent RCMP officer, I do believe. I have been there myself, years ago, when I was in Justice, but I think they are the only community that does not have a permanent presence in its community. So it is great to see; they have obviously requested more patrols. That is usually how these things find their way into government budgets, is that someone in the community insists that we want it. So hopefully the need gets addressed.

Four hundred and thirty thousand to expand the Transition House in Nain and provide operational funding for a proposed shelter in Rigolet - that is a great investment. We, of course, hope we can all reach a stage in all of our societies that we never find it necessary to have shelters, but that is not reality, so it is great to see that money is, in fact, being put into them.

One point two million to construct four new housing units in Nain is good news, but I would think the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs would agree it is a drop in the bucket in terms of what is necessary and needed to actually deal with the issue big time, to meet the housing demands that are there. It is very expensive, by the way, to build. I am aware of that again through having RCMP houses built in northern environments. You have a very short construction season. You usually have a very high cost per square foot versus here on the Island, but it has to be done and the cost goes with it; but, as we say, $1.2 million is not going to but you a lot in terms of housing versus what you would get here for the same dollar, here in the Island portion.

Now, I am going to comment on one about Labrador and I am going to comment on, as well, one from my own district, and that is the dialysis.

The government announced yesterday, thankfully, that there is going to be a dialysis satellite put in Labrador West and also in Burgeo & La Poile district, specifically in the Town of Channel-Port aux Basques. Just so members opposite do not think that I am only questioning stuff, and being negative, and that I never give any kudos or thanks and whatever, I want to say, on behalf of all the residents of the area from Rose Blanche-La Poile to Cape Ray in my district who over the years have had to travel to Stephenville or Corner Brook for dialysis services, thank you. Thank you.

God knows, it was a tough battle, I said to the Minister of Finance yesterday. I thanked the Premier personally, as well, and the Minister of Health and Community Services and the Minister of Finance, because this has been a personal beef, shall we say, or goal of my own as MHA for that area since I have been here, and finally we are going to get it done. It is needed. I have talked about the anguish. I know families, I have had friends, who have had to travel; and, let me tell you, we have some pretty rough turf in this Province, but when you have to leave a place like Burnt Islands and travel to Corner Brook three or four times a week to get your dialysis it is not easy. It is costly, it is stressful, and it tears families apart.

The Government House Leader and I had a chat this morning, when we were talking about this, about: Did I know such-and-such who was a former resident of my district but had moved to her district, and he had moved for that reason. He just could not take it any more. The physical, emotional and financial hardships that it caused him, he had to move his family to Stephenville so he could be nearer the service. That is not right, when you have to leave your family and your friends behind because you cannot avail of a service.

We all agree, for example, there are certain things - you cannot have everything. You are not going to brain surgery in the Charles L. Legrow Health Centre. You are probably not going to do brain surgery in Corner Brook Regional. Certain really sophisticated, complex and complicated procedures, you can only have them, you can only afford to have them, in certain areas, but dialysis is pretty straightforward and finally now we are going to see it. I say congratulations as well to the Member for Labrador West, because I can appreciate the people in Lab West who have that affliction and they have to travel. God knows that is, if not more physically, geographically challenging, it is certainly more costly than for the people of my area who had to travel to Corner Brook and Stephenville.

I say thank you to the government. It was good move, it was a good social justice move, it was a compassionate move, and the people of that area are very thankful for it. The only disappointment I have is that you have shut me up during petitions. I cannot give any more petitions on this subject because you have done it. I gave seventy petitions in this House of Assembly on dialysis, but now it has come to an end. I do not have to say it any more.

By the way, just one comment on petitions, and how they work, because a lot of times people in the public wonder what happens when we do these petitions. Where do they end up? Does anybody hear them, or see them, or listen to them? Well, folks, I can give you two examples of where the people in an area spoke out through petitions and they got action. One was the dialysis. People from every walk of life and every community in my district signed these petitions. As I say, I gave seventy of them here, and it is a great forum to do it because I have the eye-to-eye contact every day when I am doing a petition, whether it is to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, or the Minister of Justice, and you can get their attention. You make sure that they understand the issue, so it is not lost. You do not send these petitions in and they get put in a bin or a filing cabinet and nobody hears from them. They actually get brought up here in the House of Assembly and your member gets to present your case to the minister and to the government on your behalf, and hopefully you see results sometimes as we did in the case of the dialysis.

The other one, of course, in my experience was what I called the porta-potty petitions. Anybody who was here going back – my district, for example, I represent Burgeo, Ramea and Grey River. The people from Ramea would come over to take the ferry across to Burgeo. The ferry only runs at certain times of the day. When they went back to catch the ferry, say the ferry was scheduled to run at 6:00 o'clock, they went back to ferry, if the ferry was late because of weather or whatever and they had to sit in their cars, they had nowhere to use the washroom. I had pictures, photographs of people. Can you imagine senior citizens who had to relieve themselves out on the rocks because they did not have a washroom to sit in?

So the government, when I first brought it up, and brought it up here in the House, and I explained this in petitions, I had about seven or eight petitions done, I guess, trying to outline the issue on behalf of the residents in that area. The Member for Lake Melville, who was then the Minister of Transportation and Works, he figured he solved the problem. He shipped down two of these blue porta-potties and put on the side of the wharf. He said: There you go; we fixed that. Obviously, all that lead to was a bunch of photographs, they were on iTube and YouTube and everything else and all over the world about the porta-potty fiasco. Government reacting again to a problem: People did not have a washroom; give them a porta-potty. That was second-class treatment, no doubt. That was not treating them with disrespect.

So, of course, then the porta-potty petitions escalated here in the House of Assembly and so on and eventually the government said yes, we will give you the – the same minister by the way, kudos to him, accolades to him, because finally he saw the error of what he had done and the foolishness of it, and the money was found. Now, not only when the residents of Grey River or Ramea or anywhere else want to have a washroom facility, a place to sit down and have a cup of coffee while they are waiting three or four hours, they can do so. Instead of having to sit in their cars and freeze or burn their gas to keep warm, they have a facility.

It also, by the way – and I can say this from personal knowledge, you would not believe the good comments that have come from the tourist industry, people who travel. Where we are advocating tourism to go see our beautiful land, and I had numerous people from Europe, Asia, the United States, when they were down on the wharf waiting for the boat, they would say: Where do we go when we need to use the washroom? I said: Just a minute now, I will run up to Mary's. She does not mind. You can come up to her place and use the washroom, or I will take back up to the motel. Now, can you imagine? It did wonders for our hospitality, but it did not do much for our hygiene. Anyway, we got the porta-potties; so that is a good thing about petitions - nice to have.

The other thing yesterday about Labrador, there was $500,000 in the Budget for meaningful Aboriginal participation during the environmental assessment process of the Labrador to the Island transmission link. Good to see, good to see. There is obviously going to be lots of lands that are impacted by the Lower Churchill project. God knows that the status of the various lands from the various interest groups is certainly in question. The traditional lands of different Aboriginal groups need to be voiced; they need to have an opportunity to voice their concerns.

I would applaud the government again; it is a very good investment. I do not think $500,000 is going to cut it, that might be good for a start, but I think anyone who knows the Labrador project and the transmission line project is that it is going to be around for awhile yet. That might not cut it, but it is a good first start.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars to Aboriginal women in Labrador to develop and deliver a series of capacity building workshops in the five Inuit communities; we have five Inuit communities in Northern Labrador: Nain, Postville, Rigolet, Makkovik, and Hopedale. I have had the benefit of being in all of them.

Long before I became involved in politics, my father used to be the captain on a boat called the Nonia that used to go from St. John's to Nain. It used to take three weeks every summer. She would leave St. John's, go to all the coastal communities up the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland, up the Northern Peninsula and down to Goose Bay and Nain. I went with him when I was ten, eleven and twelve, three successive years. Three weeks it used to take, and it was a great journey. That is where I got to, as I say, visit all of these communities. I remember being in North West River when I was only twelve years old and going across in a basket actually. There used to be some kind of cable car and you used to have to get in on one side and go across in a cable car. That was a long time ago.

There is $100,000 in operating funding for the Combined Councils of Labrador. Now I notice this morning there was a comment from the president I believe, Mr. McGrath. Even though that $100,000 was put in for funding for the Combined Councils, he was not pleased with the Budget. I wonder does the minister sit down and do pros and cons, who is pro and who is con in the Budget, now we will see where we sit with them throughout the year; who liked it and who did not like it and when we come around next year we will see where it is to, where we are going with this. Anyway, I read a quote in the paper this morning that he was not pleased with it. He said a lot of rehash money, you have it stated, but it is probably stated for the tenth or twelfth time in there.

Of course, the Combined Councils, in my knowledge anyway, I knew when I was in Cabinet, we were expected, every year, Cabinet ministers were expected to go to the AGM for the Combined Councils of Labrador. They deserve and were accorded the same respect as the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities. In fact, I do not know if they do it today, but we used to have what they call a forum. We would take Saturday afternoons, for example, and all of these NLFM members, they had lots of questions. There would be hundreds of them at the convention, and we used to actually sit down in an open house, the ministers would be sat off on the stage, and any questions that anybody had, not only the executive of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities, anybody at the convention could ask a question. We had our own question period for AGMs for NLFM. You would get questions from God knows what. You imagine now all the different questions that could exist out in rural Newfoundland and urban Newfoundland, all the myriad of issues. That is what we used to do, as a Cabinet. We would sit down and say: Okay, here is your day. Ask us whatever you wish. I do not know if they do that now.

I know the Minister of Labrador Affairs did not show up this year. I have heard it might be due to weather, but we know he did not show up. I heard yesterday some suggestion that it might be weather related and that is why he did not show up. Anyway, I do know from our representatives who were at those meetings that there was a lot of displeasure, shall we say, with the fact that the minister did not show up. Our representatives got there, so they could not figure out, I guess, why the government representatives could not get there. If it is good enough for one to get in, it was good enough for someone else to get in. Anyway, he was not there.

Money to hire a diabetic education staff in Innu communities: Sheshatshui, Natuashish, as well as Goose Bay, Southern Labrador and in the Northern Peninsula communities of Flower's Cove and Roddickton, a good initiative, great to see. The $200,000 for the groomed trails in Labrador – a continuing project, obviously. The running joke used to be that the Minister of Labrador Affairs had three files. One was 5 Wing Goose Bay, one was on the grooming, and that the other one concerned the Air Foodlift Subsidy Program. Anyway, I guess he is not going to have the 5 Wing file anymore after this, because we saw in the past week some things about the 5 Wing. As I mentioned, somebody talked about 5 Wing and he thought they were talking about Mary Brown's, but anyway there was more to it than that.

By the way, the contract was gone. When the Opposition asked a question here in the House of Assembly they said: Oh, no, you do not know what you are talking about. I was up in Ottawa last week. I had the Minister of IGA with me. I met with the Defence Minister, Mr. MacKay. You do not know what you are talking about. He was up and he fudged - no other word to put it - three answers to the question three times. Lo and behold, sure enough, it comes out that the 5 Wing contract for this year which was the subject of the question was absolutely factual, gone, gone to the States. Before his plane got back in St. John's from his meetings in Ottawa the contract was down in the States, and he did not know a thing about it. So that is why we say when we talk about 5 Wing he must have thought we were talking about Mary Brown's or something because he did not know anything about the file, obviously - the Minister of Justice is getting a great chuckle out of that one.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, $1 million is gone into an environmental cleanup of the former US military station in Hopedale. Now, one good serious question for this is, this obviously must be for the study, because I do believe we just recently had announced that we are looking at, in Buchans, $9 million to even get a start on the cleanup in Buchans, not to finish but to start. I know back years ago when we did the cleanup on Hope Brook we started out thinking it was going to be $14 million and it ended up being like $30 million or $35 million. So I do not know, this must just be for a study because surely it cannot be sufficient to do the study and to fix the problem. I do believe, in fact, there is already a study done, so it cannot be for the study. I believe there was a study that cost $940-odd thousand. So if the study cost $942,000, surely the $1 million is not going to do the cleanup. So, we need a little bit more detail on stuff like that when we delve down into the branches and the roots and see what is here.

So that is just a few things from Labrador. Like we say, some issues do not cost a lot of money, some of these, a couple of hundred thousand dollars in terms of a $7 billion budget, but good initiatives, needed initiatives, but yet begs some questions as to detail. That is where we will get down into the detail, when it comes to the Estimates.

Health and Community Services; the largest portion of the government Budget is Health and Community Services. In fact, I have a chart here somewhere. I did up a little chart as to what percentage of government expenditures go where. In fact, the government gives you this little brochure. It talks about the highlights and so on and they list off where the various pieces of money are going. In the back two pages, they have a great little pie chart. One pie chart says where the money comes from and the other pie chart says where the money goes. Any student or anyone who is interested and just wants to know in a two-pager the basics, that is where it is to, in terms of how much money comes in and where it goes.

Now, the government here has it broken out into - health care, for example, where it is 37.4 per cent this year. That is an increase over last year into health care. Education this year is 19.3 per cent; other social issues, 1.1 per cent. The bottom line is the government puts 72.14 per cent – seventy-two cents out of every dollar that we spend goes into social sector departments, we call it. That is into health; that is into education; that is into social services. You name it, seventy-two cents on the dollar goes into social services. About 20 per cent goes into general government and legislative, they call it, to run the House of Assembly, to run the Executive Council, the Premier's Office, the Lieutenant-Governor's residence. All those general legislative pieces, government operational pieces, about 20 per cent goes into those things.

In the Resource Sector this year, it is almost 8 per cent; 7.92 per cent goes into the resource departments. That is the Department of Fisheries, Department of Environment, Department of Natural Resources, and so on. You get about 8 per cent goes into those of the entire – and that of course gives you your entire Budget. You add that all up, what goes into social, what goes into resource and what goes into general government and legislative, and you have yourself 100 per cent of the Budget.

I have also extrapolated out where we were and where we have come now because some people, for example, have suggested from a percentage basis that this government is not socially conscious. The Opposition was screaming that for the longest time saying this government, all they think about is oil, oil, oil. There is no social conscience at all. The government would say: of course that is not correct; of course we are socially conscious. Look at all the money we are putting into health care. We have to be. We must be, otherwise you would not have those facts that you have. Anyway, I went back and I got out the figures as to those three sectors again: social, resource and legislative, general government, to find out what the case was and where we are now in terms of government in percentages.

Back in 2002, and that is the last full year of the Liberal Administration, 2002. The percentage that was spent on government back then in 2002, government legislative, was 20.51 per cent, as opposed to today it is 19.94 per cent. So pretty well they are within, what do you call it, the margin of error? They are about a percentage point apart when it comes to government legislative versus percentages of the Budget.

When you look at Resource, back then in 2002 it was 4 per cent; 4 per cent went into Resource departments, nowadays it is 8 per cent. The government has doubled what they have put into the Resource Sector now versus what they put in back then. Obviously, the government has lots of dollars or had lots of dollars to do it and obviously they have taken a tact of investing into the energy corporation Nalcor. Millions and millions of dollars have been pumped into Nalcor in the last few years.

The Social Sector has declined, not a lot, but the 4 per cent - back in 2002 there was about 76 per cent was in Social, nowadays it is 72 per cent. What you see happening on a percentage basis is that the expenditures on a percentage basis by this government has declined by 4 per cent and instead of going into social issues that 4 per cent has gone into the Resource Sector. That is factual. I invite the Minister of Finance to go back and have some people in his office run those numbers. That is absolutely factual.

When people say that maybe you are not as socially conscious as former Administrations, maybe there is some truth to that, because the facts show that you have declined your percentage of the revenues that you put into social issues. You have to remember too, that a lot of the money that has gone into the Social Sector, percentages in the last few years in fact has been infrastructure monies. Monies that never existed back then anyway in terms of building buildings and building schools and so on, and hospitals.

Anyway, have a look at the Health and Community Services sector of the Budget. Government has increased the thresholds that were originally established in 2006 to compensate for increases in the minimum wage. Of course, there was a lot of opposition at the time from the general public that the thresholds were not high enough and that a lot of people were falling through the cracks because of the thresholds. Now, of course, there is going to be a $2.5 million investment. We hope, of course, that - there should be about 100,000 people more, actually, access from what we figure, based on that investment. Hopefully they will qualify now versus 20,000 who qualified before.

Another great initiative - and you have to applaud this. You cannot duck the good parts either folks just because you are in Opposition, and that is the Insulin Pump Therapy program. This government brought it in, worked its way up to those eighteen years of age and this year we are gone from eighteen to twenty-five. A good initiative; a great program. So, there are some good things being done here.

Government is putting $413,000 into the hyperbaric medicine enhancements. God knows we had enough problems about that in the last year. People who particularly need those services, people in the offshore and whatever like to have these services available, a lot of human resource issues over at Eastern Health about it. Hopefully, this is going to help solve the problem. I do not know if it will, but hopefully it will.

They talk about decreasing the wait times for surgery. Of course, they are going to do that by increasing the human resources, an extra $1.1 million for nurses as well as additional supplies. Of course, the increase in the number of nurses, that is fantastic news. It does not take away from the fact that we still face a massive shortage in nursing and nurses in the Province, but the initiative is good. That we are going to accomplish one thing, for example, cut back wait times, but we still have not dealt with the major problem all over, the nursing shortage in and of itself.

The new long-term care health facility in Lewisporte; I say to the Member for Lewisporte, congratulations! It is great to see stuff go to rural Newfoundland, particularly where it is needed. Now, I do feel, and I have to say this, I do feel, no doubt, a little bit of shoring up, we will call it, a little bit of redress for the Member for Lewisporte. We know that back in the fall he got slammed. There is no other way to put it. He was ‘UFCed' we call it. Definitely! The Ultimate Fighting Champion, he was ‘out-bested' in the fall when he got slammed. Flower's Cove was going to lose its facilities, and Lewisporte was going to lose its facilities.

I tell you, when this guy tangles, he tangles with the top. He stood up and he said for his district one day - they asked the Premier: Well, what do you think about it, the Member for Lewisporte is offside with you?

So what, he said; he is entitled to his opinion, for what it's worth. Pretty dismissive; pretty dismissive on a fair shake. That was a pretty dismissive comment for the Premier to make toward the Member for Lewisporte: He is entitled to his opinion, for what it's worth. In other words, I don't care what he thinks.

You can paraphrase that any way you want but it meant, basically, I don't care what he thinks. This is the same government, of course, who said at the time: No way are we going to get a reversal on that; it is getting done in Lewisporte; it is being done in Flower's Cove. We are the government. We did our due diligence; we have our consultant's report. Minister Oram of the day stood up and said: No way are we reversing this; this was done legitimately.

Lo and behold, what happens? The Member for The Straits & White Bay North decided he was going to resign, Mr. Taylor. He left government and we were into a by-election. My God, it is amazing what by-elections can do. Within a couple of weeks we had the Minister of Health and the Premier, I think they must have had their own private jet on standby all the time, because I know I was up there campaigning and I ran into him more times than enough during that three weeks. First we seen the little bit of bait saying: maybe we might consider this. We might take another look at this. Of course, then they read the polls and they said: taking another look at this is not going to cut it. The people in St. Anthony and the district, we call it The Straits & White Bay North, Flower's Cove, they were upset. They were saying we are having none of this; we are having none of this. We are not voting to put back a government member if this is how you are going to treat us. We put a government member back there since 2001. In fact, the former member, Mr. Taylor, he won it in a by-election when the former Premier Tobin left the district.

Here we are, wow, three weeks, another by-election, we have to win it, guys, and the polls are telling us we are that tight. So the Premier and the Minister of Health make their jaunts to the Northern Peninsula. Maybe we are going to look at it does not cut it. So, lo and behold, a few days before the election, what do you hear? We are going to reverse this. We are going to change our mind. We are going to give Flower's Cove back their services because we think it is the right and proper thing to do, and by the way this has nothing to do with politics. We are doing this because this is the right thing to do. The fact that there is going to be an election next Tuesday up here, the fact that there is going to be an election next Tuesday up here, no, that has nothing to do with our decision to reverse the decision.

Anyway, I also remember of course – I spent a lot of time down in the Flower's Cove area during the by-election. One day there, one Thursday, I could not believe every door I went to had a PC sticker on it. I said, my God, these people are on the ball some fast. It was almost the whole area. Anyway, in the course of the day, folks, I ran into eleven – eleven, count them, eleven ministers in the Flower's Cove area. I could not get up over the steps. I could not get up over the steps without seeing the Cabinet ministers.

In fact, there was one restaurant there, we went into one restaurant and we could not get a seat because it was filled up with government MHAs. There were no seats available. No seats available, that is how many were up there.

Anyway, I digress, I am here talking about the Budget; sometimes we get off track.


MR. SPEAKER (Kelly): Order, please!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Anyway, I digress, Mr. Speaker. I come back because I started this and I got sidetracked with by-elections again. What happened of course, the reversal in the Straits & White Bay North on the health care resources where they reversed their minds, they did the same thing. They had no choice. They had to do it in Lewisporte. So they did that in Lewisporte.

MS DUNDERDALE: What happened in Terra Nova? What happened in Topsail?

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Well, if the Minister of Natural Resources wants to know, I can give her a few examples. I can give her –

MR. HICKEY: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I say to the Member for Lake Melville and the Minister of Natural Resources: If you want me to explain and answer the question you just asked, I shall do so. The Minister of Natural Resources just asked me: What happened in Terra Nova? Well, I will tell you one thing that happened in Terra Nova when it comes to a reversal. That was where, as I mentioned earlier, I alluded to the fact that the government were going to build ferries but they decided they did not care if they went outside the Province. As a result of the by-election and the good people of Glovertown bringing pressure to bear, the government decided to change their mind there as well.

I digress, because my comments were being directed – I would like to see the fact, for example, I mentioned Mr. Manning before who became an outcast and Senator Marshall who became a senator after certain uncomfortable situations. It is fortunate, and I am glad to see that the Member for Lewisporte is not being accorded the same treatment. I thought he was. I was seriously concerned when I heard the Premier's comments about he is entitled to his opinion. Then I saw that they put the resources back in Lewisporte like they did Flower's Cove. I said: Okay, that is going to make them look pretty good out there now. He got it back, albeit maybe not because he did it; because Flower's Cove got it, he had to get it. That was probably why.

I also noticed something last week which I thought was very telling. Anybody who is not familiar with parliamentary procedure might not have picked up on it. I noticed last week that the Member for Lewisporte, albeit he is a seasoned member, he has been here for a while, usually when you get a Throne Speech, the response to the Speech from the Throne, the mover, is usually somebody who is a rookie type person. Who was the mover to the motion last week? It was the Member for Lewisporte -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: That is right, that is right. It was a great opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to sort of put him in the limelight again. He had a few bruises. The Premier manhandled him back in the fall. So let's get some of the bruises off of him, let's let him do the motion. That was a big thing, he got up and got to tout – the Lieutenant Governor was there and everything and he got to be seen in his district. I am sure he has probably sent out pamphlets saying he did it and copies of his response to every one of his constituents.

Another low profile member who I understand may be having a few difficulties in his district, from Bay of Islands. I understand he might be having some difficulty. He seconded the motion. Great opportunities, I say, Mr. Speaker, to showcase two of your lower profile bruised members, but anyway, I digress.

Mr. Speaker, I talk about the media today and some of the different organizations - maybe a few little chinks in the armour when it comes to government, people have little bits of displeasure, nobody has the, shall we say, courage right yet to come and lambaste the government, even if they felt it. There is a little bit of fear factor in the Province. Call it what you want. There is a little fear factor, but we have had that. Let's not kid ourselves now, this Premier speaks his mind. We know that. Not only is the Member for Lewisporte a casualty; we have Open Line hosts in this Province who felt the wrath - called them up, told them off. He has been known to pick up the phone, call whomever and tell them off.

Some people like that, absolutely like it. Some people like that. Other people think it might be a little bit too abrasive. Some other people think it is a little bit too abrasive. In any case, abrasive or not, that is what we have and that is how the Premier chooses to conduct himself, whether it is with a Prime Minister on ABCs, whether it is the Member for Lewisporte, or whether it is an Open Line show host. I do believe he made a comment a few years back about such and such that were the head of Abititi. He needed a fastball upside the head, I believe was the comment.

MR. SKINNER: He said a high hard (inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Well, high hard one or a low one, wherever he got it, I think the implication was that he was going to get hit, I say to the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. The implication was that he needed to be hit, he needed to be struck. I also believe they should be took out and shot. Does anybody want to misinterpret that one? The whole crowd down there needs to be took out and shot.

MR. SKINNER: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development; you agree that might have some violent overtones to it. A figure of speech, I agree it is a figure of speech, but the thing is, it is the disposition and how you do it. A lot of people do not like this over-the-top aggressiveness. A lot of people do not like that over-the-top aggressive approach, especially when it gets to be personal type things.

That is like the flag thing. I have had different opinions. I have had people in my district, for example, which could not care less because if it is not the Union Jack they do not care anyway. I have had other people who were terribly upset about yanking down the flags, and I have had other people who said, proper thing. So, the reactions and the actions that you see, obviously, they differ from person to person.

Now, the other people in the Province who often have a lot to say about the politics, for example, are these so-called bloggers. Now they have become a pretty big part, and there are all kinds of them. Some of them are what they call Liberal bloggers, some are Tory bloggers, there are bloggers and there are tweeters, and there is everything else out there nowadays, the sources of information; stuff that was never there when I got into politics and so on. It was only the open line shows and the newspapers back when I started. Anyway, we have come a long way, but I certainly do not know much about those things.

Some of those bloggers have pointed out the inconsistencies of what an Opposition says as to what they do when they become the government. I just happened to have handy a few comments and quotes in that regard, just to demonstrate a case. I am going to read a little quote to you, and you will see, and the listening public will see, of course, see if you can tell me, instead of who done it, who said it. I am going to read you the quote. Instead of who did it, I am going to say, who was this person, do you think, who might have possibly said this? "Unfortunately, the budget also has some significant shortcomings. The government failed to use the province's strong revenue growth from the oil industry to fund desperately-needed rural development initiatives. Economic development in this province has occurred mainly in the North East Avalon. Attention must be given to our rural communities where unemployment and outmigration statistics are amongst the highest in the country. Rural communities have largely been ignored by the current administration."

Now, do you know what? If you were to take that quote and attribute it to the Leader of the Official Opposition today, it would be just what the other person was doing at the time. The person who said that at the time was the current day Premier - current day Premier.

MR. SKINNER: He was right.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Which brings me to my earlier comment – and I am glad it was the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development who piped in, because it falls on his shoulders, a lot of this stuff about rural development. I do believe the catchwords for his department are rural development. As I said earlier, you can have all the strategies you want, either one of the forty that I need, even down to the mustard seed oil strategy, I do not care what you call it, but if it does not transform and help the people who live in rural Newfoundland, what is it worth?

The Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, I do not know what is renewal about putting $40 million into Central. Yes, it is needed, yes, it helped the people, but it is not much in the way – the bulk of it has gone into severance pay. Yes, you help people in terms of putting a few dollars in their pocket, but what have we seen from that committee and from that department in terms of a Plan B, for example, we are going to grow your economy?

MR. SKINNER: I could answer that. If you would like for me to get up (inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I am sure the minister of industry, when his opportunity comes, he will have all kinds of plans and successes that he will tell me about. I say with all due respect to the minister, you will have to wait your turn. I only get a certain amount of time and I know that when I sit down your good Government House Leader is going to say that is it. So, with all due respect, I will let you have your turn when your turn comes, but I will be listening attentively.

That statement, ladies and gentlemen, was made by the current Premier. Now this is a Premier, by the way, who, since they have come into office, have had the biggest revenue coffers that we have ever seen in the history of this Province. Now of course, it is great to say we are the managers of all that. Well, they cannot say, for example, that they created it. They cannot say they created it. Some pieces of it they created. Some pieces they created. I will give the current Administration full marks on the Atlantic Accord piece. Absolutely, no question about it! Like I said, you have to call a spade a spade and what they did, they did. You have to give them credit for that piece.

Now, let's look at the rest of it; the bulk of our Budget monies today, yesterday, 2008 and 2007, where did it come from? It came from the oil industry. Now, I do not think this Administration started any of that.

MS DUNDERDALE: Neither did you.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: They have a plan in place. Well, I say to the Minister of Natural Resources, maybe you should check your facts because I do believe that the former Liberal Administration had something to do with White Rose, I do believe that the former Administration had something to do with Terra Nova, I do believe that it was a Premier Wells who was in power who, along with the federal PC government, negotiated the Hibernia deal. Maybe the Minister of Natural Resources missed her history lessons. I do believe it was in 1991-1992 when Hibernia, they did not know if it was going to survive or not. Lo and behold, who made it go? Who made it fly? It was the federal government who injected the cash. I think if anybody checked their facts, this 8.5 per cent that is kicking around and whatever, that was all part of the same play. The 8.5 per cent that the government is trying to buy now was all part of the same deal.

Anyway, it is not about who creates it, because hopefully everybody is here to do their best to make something be created. I hope we can see a day when the South Hibernia is fully developed. I hope we see a day when Hebron is totally, 100 per cent working. I look forward to a day when the White Rose expansions will take place. I look forward to further exploration and discovery in the oil industry. No question about it, because that only can be helpful. That can only be good for the people of this Province if we get all that done.

Now, there are different ways of getting there. Some people are going to say that government should take equity shares as they have done. You might get another Administration ten years out and says, we do not think that was a good move, we are going to change all that. We are going to sell our interests to somebody. That will all unfold in the course of time. Obviously, the people who are here today think that is the right approach, but only time will tell that.

Anyway, when you have all that money coming in, it is a pretty good start. It allows you to make some pretty good investments. Which leads me to today, anybody who saw The Telegram today, for example – you are not allowed to use props, but I will refer to it in my speech here. They have a very good chart view of what has happened to deficits and surpluses in this Province in the last number of years. By the way, it is not only the Leader of the Official Opposition who raised the issue about deficits. I believe the Leader of the NDP expressed a view that she was not really too concerned about deficits as long as we were getting people looked after. It is about helping people. That was the gist of, I believe, what she was saying.

The Leader of the Official Opposition was a bit more concerned, concerned is the word. By the way, anybody who read The Telegram this morning saw as well –


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker for your protection.

I notice when you say things and you hit a sore spot, because they do not want to listen, the members of the government side start to yell at you. Now, that is very telling, that is very telling. If I had to stand up here and I said stuff that was complimentary, it goes quiet. The minute I say something complimentary, it is quiet. You can hear a pin drop in this place. The minute I even - I do not even suggest there were any improprieties or anything wrong, I just have to say let's think about it, and out they come.

I say to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs who is over there looking across the House and pointing to today's issue of The Telegram about what the history was, I guess, minister, if you had been as successful in your meeting in Ottawa as you would have had the good people of Labrador think, we would not have had Mary Brown's we would have had a contract, I say to the good minister. We would not have been having Mary Brown's in Goose Bay; we would have had a contract for 5 Wing. You talk about successes or non-successes, I say to the minister.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, this whole issue of deficit financing, and it is probably very difficult to explain to a lot of people. I am not an economist myself, I am not a chartered accountant, I just happen to have been appointed Finance critic. So, of course, you make use of the tools that you have. I am not a banker, I am not a mathematician. So when it comes to explaining a lot of the figures I am at a loss, unless I put a great deal of thought into it and I get a lot of help from a lot of people. That is why – and if there is anyone on the government side who is more knowledgeable when it comes to doing your budgeting on a cash basis versus an accrual basis, I would certainly look forward to you educating me when your time comes to speak.

We have had that debate for years and years as to what is cash basis and what is accrual basis. I remember back in the Grimes government, the Opposition slammed him, and they said: you're deceiving the people. You cannot be saying that the Budget is based on accrual. You have to look at the cash basis. I remember Minister Sullivan of the day, when he was Minister of Finance, when he became the government and he said: We are changing all of that. We are going to change that. From here on in we are only referring to the accrued basis. We are not going to do it on that basis because that is not giving the people the full facts. That is where this Administration started out. I believe their first Budget was in the spring of 2004, and no more two sets of books any more, one cash and one accrual. Of course, the language changes now; the language changes. We are six years in, we are seven years in. Now, it is a case of what fits. Do we have to explain that based on cash or do we have to explain that based on accrual, because whichever creates the best picture, that is the one, of course, that the Administration will use. That is the one that they will use.

Now, for those people who are concerned about deficits, by the way, the government says it may be no problem. We have to do it. We have to keep the – I was looking for a quote that I saw somewhere earlier today from the Minister of Finance. I thought I had it readily handy but I cannot find it there. I cannot find it there right now but there was a great quote from the minister about no time to put the brakes on, or something like that. We have to drive her now. It was something like that. Now, this is the same minister who was out saying we do not know if this is sustainable. We do not know if it is sustainable, what we did. We have increased our Budget from $3 billion to getting up toward $7 billion, but this is no time to put the breaks on, let's drive her.

There is little comfort for anybody who looks, in terms of – because people say this deficit thing. There are a lot of people in the world who believe that you should only buy it if you can afford to buy it. They do not believe in credit. They do not think you should live on credit because it comes to the end of the line, of course, when you are paying on a credit card, and depending on what the rates are that you are paying, you might spin yourself into a tough situation. So, a lot of people get worried.

I read the editorial section today from The Telegram, I read the editorial section today from The Western Star, and both of these people – I heard a CBC commentary, and the issue – and even the Board of Trade commentary, not overly concerned, the Board of Trade weren't, but the other ones were saying: What path are we going down here on the deficit piece? Because we only had, I believe it was - what? Two years of a surplus?


MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Maybe three years; you are correct, Minister. We had three years of a surplus. We had a whopping surplus, I believe in 2007-2008, 2008-2009; two fairly big ones, $1.4 billion and $2.4 billion; big years, but the last two years we have been into a deficit. This year gone, $750 million projected ends up to be $300 million. This year we are into projections of $195 million. We are also projecting from this very own budget that this is not necessarily going to end. There are two more years of this. That is based on their own figures.

MS DUNDERDALE: What is so shocking about that to you now that did not shock you when you were over here?

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Well, the Minister of Natural Resources asked: What is so shocking about that? Now, I am surprised that the Minister of Natural Resources would have to ask me what is so shocking about having four years of deficits - the one we had, the one we are expecting, and two more in the future. I wonder what she thinks is so shocking about asking such a question.

This is the Administration; by the way, we cannot put a millstone around the necks of our future, our children. Our goal is to decrease the provincial debt so that every dollar we free up in the provincial debt we will have to put into services and programming. That is a great theory. It is great if you can do it. That is where we are headed; we are masters in our own house we are told. We have great revenue to do it, but all of a sudden, we have cranked up the expenditures, doubled them - more than doubled them. All of a sudden, the revenues took a shot because we found out we were not insulated any more than the rest of the world, our GDP dropped by just about 9 per cent. The bottom fell out of our forest industry; the bottom fell out of our fishing industry. The mining industry is on hard times. The price of a barrel of oil dropped. So all of a sudden, we have these program expenditures ramped up but we do not have the revenues to pay for them.

The minister asked me: What is wrong about driving up the debt through a deficit? Now, I am shocked. I am shocked. Even myself, I am not an economist or an accountant, like I say, but there is a basic primary understanding that one has, that if you continue to pay for your programs or your services by borrowing to do so, somebody eventually pays the bill. Somebody pays the bill. Now, maybe if the Hibernias of the world get expanded, and the Hebrons get done, and the price of a barrel of oil goes through the roof, we will be okay.

Look at the two major revenue generators here and ask yourself; one is called renewable, one is non-renewable - pretty simple stuff. Joe and Martha understand it. When you are dealing with a non-renewable resource like oil, when the oil runs out or the minerals run out, we are done. You are not getting anymore oil once it is gone. You are not going to recreate the minerals, they are gone. So the question is: What do you try to do to make sure that the expenses you have created and you have to live with, programs, servicing, health care, education, what do we do to ensure that even down the road – because this is not about today. This is not only about tomorrow, for example, tomorrow being Wednesday. This is about the tomorrow in 2020. This is about the tomorrow in 2025. Where are we going to be then?

If you look at strategies, as I talked about earlier, and the focus, here you are, we are pumping, as I said, since 2002 we have increased our natural resource expenditures, for example, into equities and so on into energy, oil. We have reduced our social expenditures, and where have we put any money into the fishery? Let me go back, for example, the fishery, as everyone knows, is a renewable resource. The fishery is a renewable resource.

I went through the list of all the different strategies that this government has: the cod renewal strategy, the fishing industry strategy. Where are we today, with this government, in terms of renewing, re-energizing, growing that industry? What they will point to, of course, quite rightly, in terms of a sign of renewal and growth, is the aquaculture piece. If fact, it seems that is only thing I hear out of the fishing industry today is the investments that have made in the aquaculture. No problem, good stuff, good stuff. Nobody is saying that is not good stuff, but a question is – and that is the thing about this government. That is the thing I say to the general public is the minute you question this government about anything, they get right off the rails and upset, because you dare question them. The fact that I ask you what happened to your cod recovery strategy: Well my God, you should not ask me about that, because look what we are doing in aquaculture. The fact I asked you about the fishing renewal strategy: Well, do not ask me about that, look what we are doing down on the Connaigre Peninsula with aquaculture.

So, it is all about deflection, but the good folks in government have to realize that people want to know some of the answers to these things. You cannot rest your whole fishery strategy on the fact that it is aquaculture, there is more than that. What are you doing with the cod? In fact, I wish the Minister of Fisheries all the success in the world when he has a meeting, hopefully tonight, with the FFAW and the processors, because I am telling you what, we, as a Province, are going to be in tough, tough straits in rural Newfoundland if this fishing industry does not go – absolutely! There are literally going to be thousands of people and it does not matter by the way - the Member for Gander, for example, lives in a more urban area than I live. He lives in a more urban area than a lot of people in my district, but he is going to be impacted, even somewhere like Gander, which is more of an hub, because a lot of people in that area come to Gander for medical services and to buy their equipment. So they are going to be impacted, and therefore that impacts bigger centres like Corner Brook, like Stephenville, like Gander, for example. They all get impacted.

Back to the question about the minister asking here: Why are you worried about deficits? Why are you worried about deficits? Well folks, I think this government got over there and sang the song for years about we have to reduce debt. We cannot have deficits. That is not good fiscal management. You cannot do that.

All of a sudden, all of a sudden, balanced budgets were going to be the thing. I do believe, if one were to go back and check the Blue Book – and that is the government bible, the Blue Book. I think if you go back and check the Blue Book, you will find out that there was a commitment to a balanced budget process. Some provinces have legislation that demands you must have a balanced budget. We do not have that, but I do believe that the PC Blue Book said there would be a balanced budget.

Now, of course, that is off the rails now. The Minister of Finance, even though he urges, be careful, we have to have some caution because this might not be sustainable; the Premier's comment was: Well, it is only numbers anyway. That is only about having a number. I have to try to find the quote where the Premier made a comment; the quote out of The Western Star was: Finance Minister tight lipped about budgeting. The Premier said - and this was recent, March 17 - Delivering a balanced budget is just achieving a number. In other words, what does it matter? Is that what is being suggested, that it is only a number so therefore we should not have to worry about it?

The minister flipped it out. The Minister of Natural Resources put it out as if it was no big deal. It is like buying an ice cream or something. I said: We budgeted a $750 million deficit last year. She said: But it only came in at $300 million. It is only $300 million. Well, $300 million being added to your debt, because the way that happens is meaning a deficit does not mean that you just put a number in a bag. The bottom line is when you have that deficit of $300 million that means you spent money that you had to go borrow. That means it went on your debt. Increasing the debt is totally contrary to everything that this Administration stood for. This was the government that was never going to have deficits. This is the government, for example, who when they came in, in 2004, said: We have to axe it. It is getting out of hand. We have to be tough, tough medicine, but you have to swallow it. What is it like? What is his name? Who has the tough cough medicine?

MR. BUTLER: Buckley's.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, he said it was like Buckley's Mixture. It tastes awful but it is good for you. That is what the government said back in 2004: Enough of this racketing up the debt, enough of that, we have to put a stop to that. There were public sector workers who got laid off, there were chops galore. Never mind about having to restrain people; got to do it. That crowd were a bunch of mongers; they did not know how to look after the budgets and the money.


MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to call upon your protection again because I obviously struck a sore spot. I am going to have to –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker is starting to get a deficit in his patience so I would ask for decorum, please.

Thank you.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well said, Mr. Speaker, well said.

I am getting the full frontal attack of these ministers over there who are without any consideration whatsoever.


MR. KELVIN PARSONS: What can I say, Mr. Speaker? Again, I have said something that has the hon. members disturbed. I have them disturbed again.

Mr. Speaker, on the deficit piece again, in all seriousness, you can try to justify numbers, I guess, in any way you want, but I am just trying to point out to the people: Do not be fooled by everything you hear. Do not be fooled. This Administration is one of the best yet at spinning things. If they want you, the general public, to believe a certain thing, you will see the presses rolling. There will be more press releases than you can imagine. In fact, I do not know why Stephenville or Abititi closed down, because this government puts out enough press releases that you could have probably kept both going if you had bought your supplies from them, but you probably do not buy your supplies from them knowing something similar to what you are going to do to the ferries: like having them built outside the Province.

The Budget, again, as I say, there are some positive things there. I think the thing that bothers most people in the Province –

MR. DENINE: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I say to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I gave my credit for the dialysis. You may not have been listening, but I gave my thanks to the government for what was done on the dialysis, and I do not mind repeating it again because it bears repeating. Unfortunately, it took seventy petitions to get it done. It took seventy petitions to get it done, but fortunately it is going to be done and I thank the Premier, I thank the Minister of Health and Community Services, and I thank the Minister of Finance for doing it.

The bottom line here is that people are now getting a little bit suspicious. People understand it. A lot of people like the knock him down, drag him out attitude. A lot of people appreciate the Premier's aggressiveness, no question about it. A lot of people like that, no question about it, but people are also asking questions like: How come the government is so reactionary to everything? That is what it is. If you get a complaint, for example, about the Lewisporte thing: Oh, we have to fix that. God forbid if it happens in a by-election and you have to fix it. That is where the politics gets mixed with the governmental piece of it. That is where the politics gets mixed with the governmental.

Mr. Speaker, I have pretty well come to the end of my time, but notwithstanding the positive things that I have said and what I call the cautious things that I point out where government needs to be cautious - for example, we are already into predicting four years of deficits: the one gone, the one we are in, and the two to come. That is in the Budget documents. As I said, I did not dream up this stuff; that is right there in the Budget documents that is predicted by this government. Hopefully that will all change. If the mining industry comes back, if the forest industry comes back, if the price of oil goes through the roof, if the fishing industry does well, we will not have to deal with any of that.

MS JONES: If 5 Wing Goose Bay gets a contract.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: If 5 Wing Goose Bay gets a contract next year, that will be helpful - stuff like that, that we have not been missing out on. If the federal-provincial relations improve - because now we have Senator Marshall up there along with Senator Manning and hopefully that will improve.

Notwithstanding all the good things I have said about the government, I must at this point - while my time is getting short - as the Member for Burgeo & La Poile, seconded by the Member for Port de Grave, I must move the non-confidence motion to the Budget which states as follows: I, as the Member for Burgeo & La Poile, move, seconded by the Member for Port de Grave, that all the words after "that" be struck out in the Budget motion and be replaced with the following: "This House condemns the government for its failure to develop and present fiscally responsible programs to address the economic problems of rural areas of this Province and bring forward a plan that generates sustainable economic growth that builds on the projects developed by previous Administrations."

Mr. Speaker, I move that motion, seconded by the Member for Port de Grave. I guess the Table Officers will check to see if it is in order, Mr. Speaker

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): The motion is moved.

The House will take a quick recess to look at the motion as put forward by the hon. the Opposition House Leader and report back momentarily.

This House is now in recess.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair deems the resolution as put forward by the hon. the Opposition House Leader to be in order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that ruling.

Given that, that concludes my comments with respect to the main motion and I think that entitles me to another hour, actually, I say to the Government House Leader.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I understand that, by agreement, we will be adjourning it at this point and I will resume the debate the next day.

Thank you.

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Natural Resources, that this House now adjourn until the call of the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is put forward that this House now adjourn until the call of the Chair.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

This House now stands adjourned until the call of the Chair.

On motion, the House adjourned to the call of the Chair.