May 3, 2010                        HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                    Vol. XLVI  No. 14

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Before we call members' statements, the Chair would like to introduce a new Page to the House of Assembly: Mr. Johnathan McDonald from the Town of Carbonear.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The following members' statements will be heard: the hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale, and the hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland.

The hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POLLARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, I am honoured to recognize the outstanding work of the Gideons. The Gideons International began as an association of Christian commercial travellers who banded together in 1899 on an interdenominational basis for the purpose of mutual recognition and for personal evangelism by distributing the Holy Bible around the world. They chose to name their association after Gideon, an Old Testament leader who did miraculous work with only a handful of people.

In 1911, Canadian Gideon members established their own national association in Toronto and Hamilton. Today, there are over 3,000 Gideons and about 2,000 auxiliary members in 216 Canadian camps. Worldwide, there are more than 190,000 Gideons and 101,000 auxiliary members who ensure that Scriptures are distributed in ninety-three different languages.

Mr. Speaker, every six days, there are 1 million copies being given out somewhere in the world, which is equivalent to two copies every time your heart beats. The bibles are placed in hotels, motels, hospitals, prisons, senior citizens' homes, boats, waiting rooms, or wherever members of the public gather. Members of the House of Assembly will see a copy on each of their desks today compliments of the Gideons. There are special copies given to Grade 5 students, police, nurses, military, and firefighters.

Mr. Speaker, I invite all colleagues to join with me in applauding the magnificent volunteer work that the Gideons do, not only in this Province, but also around the world.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to congratulate Regina Mundi Cultural Committee of Renews on its cultural weekend festivities held on March 13 and March 14 which I had the pleasure of attending. The event included a visual arts display including paintings, photography, a quilt display, hooked rugs, folk art and carvings from local artists. The displays showcased quilts and hooked rugs dating back to the 1930s as well as ones done by current quilters and rug hookers who are reviving the art.

As well, a potter demonstrated the pottery wheel, explaining the workings of the clay and gave participants the chance to get their hands dirty to shape vases and other forms of pottery. Participants were given the opportunity to create rock art mummers using beach rock and natural materials. There were fifteen artists and artisans in attendance demonstrating their arts form, explaining techniques and providing the opportunity for the general public to work along with them.

This was the first time a variety of artists and artisans from the Southern Shore were gathered in one venue to demonstrate their art and provide the opportunity for the general public to be involved in art activities under their direction.

Sunday was a day filled with local entertainment. A festival of singing, storytelling, recitations, step dancing, fiddle music and entertainers of all ages.

Mr. Speaker, rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Southern Shore in general, has an abundance of various forms of art developed over our 500 years of history and events like those I described ensure these art forms are never lost.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Mary Chidley, chair of the committee and members of the Regina Mundi Cultural Organizing Committee, including Mike Chidley, Rita Chidley, Bev Kane, Eugene Kane, Josephine Johnson, Sharon Kane and Lois Berrigan for the tremendous job they did in organizing this event and ensuring all forms of culture are celebrated and enjoyed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to recognize Mental Health Week 2010, which runs from May 3 to May 9. This year's theme is Building your mental health…One support at a time. This week will help focus attention on the importance of promoting and improving mental health.

Mental Health Week is an annual national event held by the Canadian Mental Health Association to raise awareness of mental health issues and provide learning opportunities to help all Canadians achieve and maintain good mental health in their everyday lives.

During Mental Health Week we are all encouraged to look at the state of our own mental health. At this time I would like to provide my colleagues with an opportunity to assess the various dimensions of your own mental health, using the "Mental Health Meter" developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association.

When I became Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, I made a pledge to make mental health and addiction issues a priority for me. I am pleased to say today that this government is proving its commitment to mental health and addictions.

Last month, I was pleased to award one-time funding to several community groups throughout the Province that focus on mental health and addictions services, including $80,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association to develop a mental health literacy and anti-stigma project.

Mr. Speaker, in Budget 2010 we continued our efforts to ensure that those individuals who live with mental illness or addiction have treatment options available to them.

Our significant investments include $2 million for the planning and development of an adult residential addictions treatment centre in Harbour Grace that will help meet the needs of individuals who require long-term residential treatment and those who have more severe, persistent addictions issues.

Our other investments including enhancements to child psychiatry at the Janeway Hospital, a new psychologist to enhance the eating disorders treatment program at Eastern Health and funding to support new community-based projects, with a focus on mental health and addictions issues, among other issues. We are also continuing the planning and construction of two new residential treatment facilities for children and youth with mental health and addictions issues.

Mr. Speaker, our government will continue to work with groups such as the Canadian Mental Health Association and others to help continue to address mental health issues and provide the programs and services needed.

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 thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. Mr. Speaker, may I say that I am encouraged that he has chosen this week to look at the state of our own mental health facilities and services that we offer here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, this government likes to talk about the advancements that they have made in mental health but the advancements, I say to the minister, have been slow in coming, if coming at all in many cases. Mr. Speaker, this was very evident last month when we had psychiatrists in the Province go before the microphones and talk about the fact that of the sixty-four psychiatrists in Newfoundland and Labrador, that forty-eight of them were practicing in the St. John's area, with sixteen serving the rest of the needs in this Province, leaving a real gap in psychiatry throughout rural Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, to the extent in certain areas, like Labrador and the Northern Peninsula, where there are no psychiatric services at all.

Mr. Speaker, the most recent eye-opener, I guess, on mental health services in recent weeks at least – because we have had many incidents of children and parents themselves speaking out publicly, crying for help for mental health services in this Province to get the attention of government. The report of the Child and Youth Advocate, Mr. Speaker, did indicate, on Friday, that there was a long line of issues associated with mental health illness in this Province, especially when it comes to human resources, budgetary restraints, programming and treatment gaps, and a lack of community wraparound services, as well as recruitment and retention. So, Minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that her time for speaking has expired.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If I could, by leave, just clue up one sentence?

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


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member, by leave.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister: It is good that you are going to continue to work with the Canadian Mental Health Association because, of recent reports, there is a lot of work to be done, and I suggest that you get to it immediately.

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

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

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

I, too, am very pleased to see funding of $80,000 going to the Canadian Mental Health Association in this Province for a mental health literacy and anti-stigma project.

I think if anything is important, Mr. Speaker, it is getting people, number one, to understand what mental health is all about and what mental afflictions are; and to understand that mental illnesses and mental conditions are no different from any other illness that somebody may suffer. It is extremely important, in particular, that we get education out there to remove stigma, which is especially hard on young people who are going through an acute mental health condition. Very often the stigma they suffer is not just from their peers but also from adults around them. The stigma and what they suffer because of the stigma just increases what they are going through with their condition, Mr. Speaker.

However, given that rural parts of the Province have only half the psychiatrists that are needed, it means that many people with mental illnesses are falling through the cracks. So it is not enough, Mr. Speaker, for us to encourage more understanding of the diseases. It is not enough for us to try to decrease the stigma. We also have to make sure that, at the same time, the services required by both young people and adults are increased in this Province.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statement by ministers?

The hon. the Minister of Government Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, earlier today I was pleased to raise the flag recognizing this week as North American Occupational Safety and Health Week or NAOSH Week. Joining me was the local chapter of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers and a number of companies who are leaders in occupational health and safety. This week is very important as it raises awareness on the importance of being safe at work through injury and illness prevention.

This year's theme is "Safety and Health: A Commitment for Life! How Safe Are You?" and it challenges all of us to examine our safety practices to see just how safe our workplaces really are. We need to promote safety and health in our workplaces and make that commitment not just for ourselves but also for those we love. Mr. Speaker, safety is not just for workplaces. The practices that we put in place at work are just as important in our home life and we should make a concerted effort to practice safety at all times.

Mr. Speaker, I must acknowledge our local chapter of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers who every year dedicates their time to plan and promote NAOSH Week. In addition to the flag being raised here at Confederation Building, they have arranged for the flag to be raised at all trade schools in the Province ensuring that our young people learn how vital it is to have safe and healthy workplaces. This group was the pioneer of NAOSH Week and their recognition of the benefits of improving attitudes towards safety quickly turned into a need to recognize this important issue across Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Our safety professionals have shown that they are leaders in spreading the message about injury and illness prevention in our workplaces. I congratulate them on this achievement and assure them that the Occupation Health and Safety Branch of the Department of Government Services will continue to work hard to do our part in making workplaces safe. We are proud to be a participant in NAOSH Week.

NAOSH Week strives to increase understanding of the benefits of investment in occupation health and safety and to raise awareness of the role and the contribution of health and safety professionals. It is our hope that by recognizing NAOSH Week and participating in the health and safety initiatives, we will make further strides in reducing workplace injuries and illness. Therefore, I encourage everyone to participate in NAOSH Week activities to raise awareness of the importance of health and safety in our workplaces.

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.

I want to thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement and to say that we are very pleased to see that the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers and other companies took part in the flag raising ceremony with the minister today. I think this is very important because it was only last week, Mr. Speaker, we stood here and paid tribute to many who lost their lives while in the workplace.

As the theme says, "Safety and Health: A Commitment for Life!" and how true that is because each and every day, regardless of what walk of life you go when you leave home, you never know what can happen on the jobsite. Promotion and education is the way to go. I cannot help but think about the ads we see on our television where the ladder is standing there alone or the table saw without the safety features. It is very important for each and every one of us to pay attention.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment announced last week that there are still approximately 4,000 injuries in this Province each year. Safety begins at home, and if we do it properly at home, I am sure it will spill into the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend all employees for working together and helping to make our workplace a healthier and safer place to work.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I, too, thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement.

It is extremely important that we have a week like the week that we are celebrating today and that we focus on the issues of Occupational Health and Safety. So efforts like NAOSH Week and raising the flag in front of the Confederation Building, all of these things are actions that remind us of the dangers that are out there.

I would just like to share with the House a little story that was told to me by a parent last night, which I think tells us exactly what prevention is all about. He was a bit frustrated with the principal of the school his child goes to because some parents are not obeying the rules about how to park, how to wait for their children, to not cause danger in front of the school. The principal indicated: Well, I am sure nothing will happen. If it happens, then we will deal with it. His answer was: What about if you think my daughter was hit this morning. What would you put in place so that she would not have been hit? Well, how about doing that ahead of time? That is what prevention is all about. I thought it was a great example, to me, to explain prevention.

So I thank the minister for the co-operation of the Province and the government with the labour movement, with those who are in the workplace, and with organizations like the engineers.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has already indicated that today is the start of Mental Health Week. Well, just Friday past, acting Child and Youth Advocate, Judge Rorke, released his report into the Janeway psychiatric unit. This investigation was prompted when two children were handcuffed and shipped off to the Waterford Hospital in our Province. The acting Advocate released a report on Friday, but today is refusing to speak publicly about it and has declined interview requests – an Advocate, Mr. Speaker, who is not prepared to be an Advocate.

I ask the minister today: Why would you appoint someone to this role who is unwilling to stand up, explain their own report and be accountable to the children and families of our Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is aware of how the appointment of Judge Rorke took place. The Leader of the Opposition is the one who defended the former Child and Youth Advocate, but yet we heard no comment after the acting ombudsman released his report. So it is easy for this Opposition Leader to criticize.

The Acting Child and Youth Advocate has outlined in his report the review of the situation; he has made recommendations. I am pleased to say, Mr. Speaker, that as a government we have already addressed some of these issues. In this year's Budget we allocated money for the Janeway psychiatry services. Over the last two years, Mr. Speaker, we have allocated $1.1 million.

As for the Advocate speaking, I cannot control what the Advocate does; it is an independent office, as the Speaker is well aware. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Advocate reports to the House of Assembly, not to the Minister of Health.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to remind the minister that there is nothing independent about being sanctioned by the Cabinet as Judge Rorke was done.

I ask the minister today: In making the appointment, did you also muzzle the Child Advocate?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I would not expect the Leader of the Opposition to understand concepts of independence because it is something that requires a common sense approach and also requires, Mr. Speaker, an understanding of legal principle.

I do know that the Opposition House Leader would understand the importance of this concept. Essentially, the Child and Youth Advocate under the act is independent. We appoint judges, Mr. Speaker, but we do not at that point, as she says, sanction them. An appointment is made; the independence comes with the office. Judicial independence - independent offices by their very nature, Mr. Speaker, have to act at arm's-length from government; are given the powers to make their own findings and comments. One of the ways that we dealt with the Child and Youth Advocate Office in this Province, Mr. Speaker, is to have the Child and Youth Advocate report to the House of Assembly.

I am sorry if the Leader of the Opposition does not have the cozy relationship with this present Advocate that she had with the previous one, who she went to such extremes to defend.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would not expect a whole lot from this minister other than insults. I certainly do not expect answers; however I will ask the questions.

It is interesting, Mr. Speaker, that the minister said that this individual is accountable to the House of Assembly, because I e-mailed him today and I asked Justice Rorke for a meeting to discuss some of his findings in his report. The judge, Mr. Speaker, refused saying that he was not going to make himself available to any politician in this Province.

So I ask the minister: Who is this individual accountable to?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I can only speak to the legal principles involved. I know of no principle in law why the Child and Youth Advocate would jump because the Leader of the Opposition says jump. That is what happened with the previous Child Advocate, it is not happening here. Independence, Mr. Speaker, means that the person makes a decision independent of us.

Mr. Speaker, you are aware of the budgetary process, you are aware of the reporting procedure. Whether or not the Child Advocate decides to speak to politicians, that is up to him or her. I am certainly not advocating that that should take place. In fact, Mr. Speaker, when you look at the report, the report contains very sensible recommendations, recommendations that we are already acting upon, and I would suggest that if the Leader of the Opposition has a problem with that she should put her request in writing to the House Management Commission or to the Speaker and ask for a meeting, but other than that it is not up to me to determine what Judge Rorke should do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we have an Advocate today in the Child and Youth Advocate Office that is not advocating, I say to you minister. You appointed him. You put him there. The people of this Province are paying for him to operate in that office. He has produced a report that has questions that should be answered. Who is this individual responsible to, minister? It is not to the children and parents of this Province, not to the public when he refuses to talk about his own findings in the media, and not to this Chamber when he refuses to meet with any politician in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Actually, I am not sure what the question was. Who does he report to? He reports to the House of Assembly as an independent officer. The Leader of the Opposition should be aware, Mr. Speaker, and I would suggest that it is scandalous that she can simply come into this House and sully people's reputations with baseless allegations and accusations. Again, that is what she does.

Back in August, well when she phoned up the Child and Youth Advocate, because we know she talked to the former Child and Youth Advocate and you started off with the Labrador incident. Well you caused a lot of trouble there didn't you? Where were you, I say to you, where were you -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to direct his commentary to the Chair.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENNEDY: Where were you when the Child and Youth Advocate had that office in the state that it was in? Yet, I never heard a word from her, Mr. Speaker, after Mr. Noseworthy's report was released showing what a true state that office was in and how this government took the right approach and put someone in place who could do the job. Judge Rorke has provided a report, Mr. Speaker. We have indicated that we are reviewing the report, we will act on a lot of the recommendations, and I apologize again to the Opposition Leader if someone does not jump because she says jump.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister, I make no apologies for prompting the report at the Janeway or prompting the report in Labrador. I will continue to do my job, minister, to ensure that the children in this Province have half a chance.

Now let me ask you this question, Mr. Speaker. The catalyst of this report was really the children who were taken from the Janeway in handcuffs and put away, locked away in the adult mental health facility in this Province. We understand today that Judge Rorke did not even talk with the parents or the children who were at the heart of this investigation, prior to issuing this particular report.

I ask the minister: How can the public have confidence in the Acting Child and Youth Advocate that you have appointed when clearly he is not performing the necessary due diligence in this case?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have had an opportunity to read the report. I have not studied it as much as I would like, but on this issue of the transfer, Mr. Speaker, there was a very poignant comment made where a psychiatrist stated: "I would much rather be here discussing why the RNC were involved than to be here discussing a dead patient and why they weren't involved." So, Mr. Speaker, the judge has reviewed the situation of the transfer, he had indicated at that time that was the way it had to be done. This is an issue that we can address. We can look at how this type of situation can be prevented in the future.

Mr. Speaker, what you have to look at is the context of what was taking place in the Janeway unit at the time. There were certainly a lot of problems, Mr. Speaker. There were different age groups being held on the same unit. All of the issues that were brought out in this report are ones that we can address, ones that will address and some, Mr. Speaker, that we are already addressing.

At that time, Mr. Speaker, the use of handcuffs – it is my understanding – was the policy that had to be followed by the RNC under the Mental Health Act. So as unfortunate as it is, Mr. Speaker, as the psychiatrist said, it is better to have a person who is alive than wondering why they are dead.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister, I did have an opportunity to read the report over the weekend. There is some good information in there but there are a lot of questions in there as well, questions that need to be answered and should be answered by the Child Advocate in this Province.

So, Minister, I would encourage you to unmuzzle the Child Advocate, allow him to speak to the report that he has tabled in this Province. I would also like him to answer as to why he did not interview the parents and the children that were at the heart of this very issue prior to releasing his findings.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, a basic principle of independent, or an independent office, is that the person who makes the decision, whether it is a judge, or in this case the Child and Youth Advocate, does not have to answer for their decision. Is the next step that the Leader of the Opposition is going to propose is that when a judge makes a decision we will allow her to question the judge as to the basis for his or her decision? That is the principle when you extend it. That is the extension of the principle.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENNEDY: The Child and Youth Advocate –


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KENNEDY: I hear the Opposition House Leader chirping over there, Mr. Speaker. He has been quiet for a long time and he should know better. He should know better, Mr. Speaker.

If you look at the section of the Child and Youth Advocate Act, it talks about the role of the Child and Youth Advocate is to protect and further the interests of children and youth in this Province. Mr. Speaker, it does not mean that every time the Child and Youth Advocate provide a report that he or she has to come out and outline why they made their decisions. If the Child and Youth Advocate chooses to answer questions, that is up to the Child and Youth Advocate.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is very unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition displays the lack of understanding and knowledge that she has her today, but I do not really expect anything better.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister knows that Justice Rorke is not there acting as a judge but rather acting as an advocate for children in this Province, and it is a job he is failing to do appropriately.

Mr. Speaker, the environmental disaster taking place off the coast of Louisiana is certainly a situation that we should take very seriously off our own shores, especially since the government opposite is an equity partner in some of our offshore projects and on the hook for any cleanup costs should an oil spill take place.

I ask the minister today: As an equity partner, what provisions does Nalcor have in place to protect the people of the Province from both an environmental and cost perspective?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the situation in the Gulf of Mexico is one that we are observing very, very closely - the relevant ministers that are involved. I am certainly watching it extremely closely, from a personal perspective, to see exactly what is going on.

Our primary concern here in the Province, of course, first of all, is the safety of the workers offshore; and secondly, the environment. From our own perspective in the Province, as a government, I can certainly assure hon. members in this House of Assembly that the necessary policies, procedures and processes are put in place and are being constantly reviewed as a matter of fact. We are in the process of even reviewing some of those policies right now. So we are very, very proactive on what is going on.

I do have some concern as I watch the process as it unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico to wonder whether the technology is able to keep up with the problem that is going on. The one thing, I think, that will come from this whole process is that better technology will be developed. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we are in the harsh environment of the North Atlantic - extremely high seas and winds that are factors.

To get to the question directly, it was certainly part of the process when Nalcor looked at taking its equity holdings, that the equity holdings would be certainly held in a separate company – in separate oil and gas company. From our own perspective, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador stands behind the environmental liabilities no different than the Abitibi situation. When environmental disasters happen, we go to our primary source of responsibility and then the government, of course, is the backup at the end of the day.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have heard environmentalists and professors at Memorial University who have said publicly that they are concerned that our Province does not have the necessary technology to cope with a spill. They also stated, Mr. Speaker, that it is not a question of it happening but when a spill will take place.

I ask the Premier today: If people specializing in environmental protection do not have a level of confidence today in our current system, how can the people of the Province be assured that we will not be facing any similar disasters in the future?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province can be assured that we will adopt the best practices in the world. As we come to this process now in the Gulf of Mexico, if there are any new devices or methodologies or technologies that are developed, we will make sure that they are adopted in our offshore. From our own perspective, the C-NLOPB is responsible primarily for any offshore problems. If it comes to any leakages or seepages that come from tankers or ship transports, then that is the responsibility, of course, of Transport Canada.

From our own perspective, as recently as this morning, we have looked at just exactly what the situations are in the North Atlantic. It is a general understanding that because the offshore sites are significantly offshore and well east of the Province that the situation that could arise in Orphan Basin or Jeanne d'Arc or the Flemish Pass is that there is a lower likelihood that oil would actually come ashore in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, that is not to say that it would not.

As well, we are dealing with a heavy crude oil out there, so from a fishing perspective, there is less likelihood that it would affect the fishery although it would certainly affect the gear. However, having said that, I am not trying to minimize the circumstances under any situation, we will make sure that we monitor this very closely and that we adopt the best practices in the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, although it may be a lower likelihood of it happening, as the Premier indicates, it does not mean that we would not be on the hook in a case of an environmental disaster.

Mr. Speaker, in an interview with CBC, Memorial University biologist Ian Jones said that this government is not forthright about the impacts of oil spills and what the impact would be on wildlife. He also stated that a recommendation to put independent monitors on oil rigs still has not been implemented.

I ask the Premier today: As part of the regulatory process, why haven't these particular independent monitors been installed, and is this something government has been advocating the industry for?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: First of all, with regard to - I did not hear this particular interview, so someone's opinion on whether they are being forthright or not, I do not know, I cannot gauge it, I cannot respond to it.

Having said that though, I can tell you that any information we have will certainly be made available to the general public, as well as the members of this House. I think the immediate and the largest impact from any offshore oil spill, of course, would be on the birds. We are told that would have a significant impact on birds in the Province because, obviously, they are significant distances offshore and they are all around the coast of our Province. As I have said before, there is an indication that the fishery would certainly not be impacted as heavily because of the viscosity, I guess, of the oil that we are dealing with in our offshore.

From a perspective of the regulations, that has to be done by the C-NLOPB. We are constantly in contact with the C-NOLPB. Our officials have been discussing these issues with them over the weekend and as recently as this morning. So, as I said before, if there are any pieces of technology that would be better suited to our offshore, then we would certainly be recommending them to the C-NLOPB and we would be in constant contact with them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, court documents filed by AbitibiBowater indicate that it will be seeking $500 million in compensation under a NAFTA lawsuit for its assets that were taken by the Province under Bill 75. Preliminary costs associated with the environmental liabilities have been estimated at $200 million.

I ask the Premier: Did we obtain legal title for the mill property through the cancellation of timber rights and lands in section 3 of Bill 75, or did we accidentally expropriate the mill under sections 5 and 6 that were used for the other assets such as Star Lake?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you what was not an accident. It was not an accident that we decided to take a bold move, as a government, and decide to step up and fight for the rights of the people of Central Newfoundland, in the Grand Falls-Windsor and other surrounding areas. What we did was unprecedented in this Province, and we are extremely proud of what we did. We took the bold move of going in, after Abitibi had broken their promise to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we took back our timber, we took back our land and we took back our water, and when we did that we are very proud of it because it puts us in an extremely strong position. So that was a very deliberate move. As a result of that, we are now in a position, that because of the environmental problems and liabilities that have been caused by this company that really does not care about Newfoundland and Labrador, we are now in a position where we have these assets that have value. Not only have we taken pride in repatriating them, they also have value. So we can now use the value of these assets to deal with the environmental liability, which we would have been responsible for because they intended to go bankrupt in the first place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will ask the Premier again if he could answer my question. For example, Mr. Speaker, the legal title of the mill property, was it obtained through the cancellation of title or was it obtained through the expropriation clauses?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, in order to secure the most valuable asset that Abitibi held in the Province, which was actually the hydro-electric asset, which is the water rights, we in fact described in the process an area which included a piece of the mill, which included the hydro-electric assets. Inadvertently, the mill had been included in that, and the Opposition is trying to make hay over the fact that a mistake was made by a bureaucrat in government and therefore that is a huge embarrassment to government.

Well, the bottom line at the end of the day is that we do own the assets, and not only do we own the land and do we own the timber and do we own the water, we now own the mill and we own Grand Falls House and we own the manager's house, which are the three most valuable pieces of real estate in the community of Grand Falls, and we are now in a position where we have complete and full control of these assets. Ultimately, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador - if Abitibi walked away from their responsibilities and if Abitibi went into consumer protection - would have been left holding the bag. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador would have been left holding the bag on the environmental liabilities. Now we have the assets which we are in a position to be able to keep or dispose of as we see fit, and I can guarantee the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that at the end of the day the value of those assets will exceed any liabilities that arise from this transaction.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I want to clarify that the mistake of this deal is not on the back of a bureaucrat, Mr. Speaker, but on the backs of a government who signed off on this and did so saying that we have the world's best advice, Mr. Speaker. That is where the responsibility really lies. Mr. Speaker, it is important to know the facts of this particular mistake, I say to the Premier, because if it was made through section 3 of Bill 75, government may have also inadvertently cancelled all land rights that were given to other people on surrounding properties within the community dating back to 1905.

I ask the Premier today: Can you give the assurances to the people of the Province that no other properties besides the mill, the mill manager's house and the Grand Falls House has been affected by this accidental mistake?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the people of this Province that we have done the right thing. I can assure him and assure them that we have taken their assets and we have protected those assets. Those assets would have been lost to an irresponsible company that did not give a darn about the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the people of Central Newfoundland and Labrador. They would not - they would have walked away from their responsibilities. They either would have gone into consumer protection, they would have gone bankrupt or they would have done what they were in the process of doing, and that was trying to sell off those assets to somebody else.

So what we have done is protected the interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Now the hon. members opposite agreed with that in principle; they were present that day, they were fully informed. If a mistake occurred - it is irresponsible of the hon. members opposite to try and say now that as a result of that minor mistake, which actually happens to give us the most valuable piece of real estate in Grand Falls, that that is now saddling this Province with the environmental liability. That is absolutely untrue and erroneous. Now I do not how far I can go with regard to parliamentary protocol as to what I can say –

AN HON. MEMBER: Misleading is (inaudible) the word.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Is misleading okay?

AN HON. MEMBER: Misleading is okay.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: You are misleading the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I say to the Premier, that misleading is unparliamentary and I ask the hon. the Premier to withdraw the remark.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: (Inaudible). I got bad advice, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw the remark.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Did the hon. the Premier withdraw the remark?


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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier knows full well that assurances were given to the people in this Province that the mill was not a part of any expropriation exercise and that any liabilities on the environment would be a zero balance at the end of the day with Abitibi as a result of the payment of assets. That was the assurance, that was the wording, that was the lingo, that was the message that was used by the government, Mr. Speaker. Now we find it is a completely different situation. We already know from court documents that AbitibiBowater is seeking the $500 million in compensation for the assets, a number that we were told was at about $300 million when we were briefed by the government.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier today: Is the accidental expropriated mill and associated assets included in the $500 million price tag, and is the fact that you took control of the mill the real reason for the claim to jump by $200 million?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the hon. member opposite and her government are not representing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. No wonder, no wonder we gave it all away when the hon. crowd opposite had government, Mr. Speaker. So she is going to write off three hundred for environmental liability, then she is going to write out a cheque for $500 million. Well I can tell you right now, that is not going to happen while we are in the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, because we do not believe in giveaways.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, what she fails to point out is in the appeal which was filed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the judge, who is the hon. Gascogne, or whatever he is, Gascon or whatever he is, the Great Gatsby or whatever his name is, anyway, at the end of the day is in the Quebec Court, is obviously not too –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WILLIAMS: I do not care; I could not care about something like (inaudible).

The hon. judge in Quebec obviously has no time for Newfoundland and Labrador, and what he has done has gone beyond his constitutional competence. Because if you read the appeal, which was filed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, he did not have the statutory or constitutional competence to do what he did, and he made palpable and overriding errors of fact. You can rely on him if you want to, I would not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, workers at the Voisey's Bay mine site have been on strike since August, 2009. That is nine long months, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in September, 2009, the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment told the House that government was committed to reviewing anti-replacement worker legislation and that a review was underway and legislation would be pending once the review was complete.

Mr. Speaker, could the minister give this House an update on the review process?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What I would have pointed out back when that question was first posed is that we do have a committee that is in place that is directing that particular process. It is a committee that is made up of business, of labour, and of government. As I said at that time, should they bring forward legislation to us then we are certainly willing and ready to consider that.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the makeup of that committee however, we should all be reassured that they are very concerned about the employment relations climate in this Province. We have members from labour, Mr. Speaker, particularly Lana Payne, the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. We have members from business, very, very concerned about the employment relations climate in this Province, and we have people from government there. When they have legislation that they feel is worthy of us looking at, then we certainly will.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The foot-dragging of this government is now becoming suspect, because the minister refers to somebody who is on that committee who published a letter asking this government to bring in anti-scab legislation. That was done by the President of the Federation of Labour last fall. That letter is out there in the public, so we know where Ms Lana Payne stands.

Communities in our Province are being negatively impacted by this strike, and the Province is losing revenue. The lack of real consultation, and no sign of the bill coming up in this session, seems to show that government is allowing Vale Inco to act with impunity in this Province by attempting to impose Third World working conditions on the workers in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, when is this government going to deliver anti-replacement worker legislation to this Province, as they have been asked to do by the labour movement?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The first thing I would like to point out is that this government has great sympathy for the workers in Voisey's Bay. We absolutely understand the situation that they are in. We absolutely understand their concerns. We have been listening to them.

Mr. Speaker, the Labour Relations Agency continues to work, continues to support those workers, continues to be available to them. The bottom line on this, though, is that the parties need to get back to the table. The parties need to resolve the issues that are there. Let's look at what the main issue is. The main issue there is the nickel bonus, Mr. Speaker. They need to get back to the table, they need to discuss that particular issue, and the people at the Labour Relations Agency are more than willing to sit with them to help them work through that issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

This weekend we learned that Vale Inco spent $2.5 billion U.S. acquiring oil rights in Guinea, indicating the labour impasse in Voisey's Bay is not about money for Vale, but about strike breaking, Mr. Speaker, and maybe even union busting.

Mr. Speaker, how long is this government complacently going to sit by and continue to let Vale Inco walk all over our workers who have been out there in the cold for months and months?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the question is: How long before the two parties decide to sit down and negotiate this? That is the question that is at hand here.

We have suggested to the parties, over and over again, they need to be at the table if they want to solve this strike. We have consulted with the parties; we have made our people available to the parties. Business is concerned, labour is concerned, government is concerned, but absolutely the only solution that is going to be found to this problem is when the two sides sit down and actively negotiate.

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.

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS POTTLE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Topsail:

WHEREAS innumerable women throughout history have suffered many forms of violence, and far too many continue to suffer today despite all the efforts to curb violence against women; and

WHEREAS the provincial government has been proactive in preventing violence against women and promoting non-violent behaviours through a range of initiatives, including the ongoing Violence Prevention Initiative, the Family Violence Intervention Court, support for transition houses and women's centres, and other measures; and

WHEREAS violence prevention initiatives are most effective when individual citizens, families, organizations and communities take an active role in condemning violence against women and promoting non-violent behaviours at all ages;

BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House expresses its support for the government's violence prevention initiatives and urges all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to do their part in making our society safer by taking responsibility to condemn violence against women and promote non-violent behaviours at all ages.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further notices of motion?

Answer 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.

Today we will call from the Order Paper, Order 4.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, that Bill 5, An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails, be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 5, An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails, be now read a second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails." (Bill 5)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is certainly an honour for me today to stand in the House for the second reading of An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails. (Bill 5)

Mr. Speaker, what I usually do when speaking on a bill, I like to read into the record the Explanatory Notes that we have in the front of each bill. I guess that gives us a quick rundown of what the bill is all about. The Explanatory Note here is quite simple. "This Bill would provide liability protection to the Crown and to owners or occupiers of land whose property forms a part of a trail that is designated under the Act.

"The minister would be given authority to make regulations to establish criteria and set out the subject areas for which the minister may set standards that shall be complied with before a trail can be designated under this Act."

Mr. Speaker, it is a very simple bill but certainly a very serious one, and one that we as a government thought important enough to bring to the floor of the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, as the bill says, the main purpose is certainly to guarantee liability protection to land owners and to the Crown.

Mr. Speaker, as most people in this Province know, historically - regardless of what part of the Province you lived in - people who owned property had very little problem with people accessing trails. You know, many times there were wood paths. Many times there were people berry picking. Even in my hometown, Mr. Speaker, very often than not we cut through the woods or cut through someone's garden to get from A to B, and it was quite common. Occasionally you would get in a little bit of heat. If you walked through a fellow's set-out vegetables you might get a bit of a telling off, but generally speaking you were allowed to go through ‘unapproached'; and, whatever you do, don't go taking the turnips. That was a lesson I learned very quickly, that you were not to touch the person's property on your walk through the trail.

Mr. Speaker, like I said, there is traditional access that was always granted and there was very little problem with it; but, with time, quite a bit has changed when it comes to trails in our Province. Significant changes, I might add. We now, for example, have a formalized trail system here in the Province: trails that governments have funded; various trail development groups who built trails throughout the years. Of course, we use it for various sources. We have used it as a source of employment for people in particular in rural communities through our Municipal Affairs budget. As well, Mr. Speaker, of course, we use it for attracting tourists. There are quite a few tourists from around the globe now, actually, who come to Newfoundland and Labrador to hike trails. They come for different reasons. Some of them are very much into the outdoors and like the easy going, Mr. Speaker, but some more are in for the adventurous trail hiking. That is quite a product that we have developed over the last number of years.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, when I had the privilege of representing the Province recently at an event, one of the people, one of the volunteers there was a young lady who told me that she had planned to come this summer to Newfoundland and Labrador to investigate hiking. She was a seasoned hiker. She planned to hike the trail system in Gros Morne National Park. She was also inquiring about the East Coast Trail; a trail that is known to be a little bit longer and a little bit tougher and one that is certainly designed for the seasoned hiker.

Mr. Speaker, she was very curious about our trail systems. I was more than happy to fill her in on my knowledge of the East Coast Trail, as well as Gros Morne of course, and explain to her how knowledgeable we are in the trail business now and how there are so many B and Bs, especially up the Southern Shore for the East Coast Trail. There is an industry in itself, Mr. Speaker, around the tourism piece.

Mr. Speaker, the reason for this and what happened over time, as I mentioned a little earlier, is that we had a situation whereby our trail system that was once a traditional path, if you will, a place that people walked without permission, now, all of a sudden, we have tourists coming to our Province. We have a lot of people who take their hiking very, very seriously. Many of them have become organized trail systems, as just referenced with the East Coast Trail, and of course, there became concerns about liability issues.

All of a sudden, Mr. Speaker, if you were to walk across somebody's property on the way to utilizing a trail like the East Coast Trail and were to injure yourself, whether you trip in an old fence, you trip in a rock, you fall in a hole, anything is possible. All of a sudden, homeowners, and rightly so, and landowners, were saying they are getting nervous about people accessing trails through their private property. In today's world you can sue anybody for anything pretty well now. If you watch some of the commercials on TV from the United States, you will see they advertise quite regularly: If you have any kind of a problem, come and see us. So, of course, we had to address the liability issue to make homeowners more comfortable and go back, really, to a traditional way it was in Newfoundland and Labrador where landowners did not have any reason to worry about somebody crossing their property to get to a trail.

Mr. Speaker, the East Coast Trail approached us because of this. It was the East Coast Trail that drove this piece of legislation in the beginning. The East Coast Trail system is really a world-class trail system.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more evident - we have had recent accolades in CNN on-line, as well as Travel + Leisure magazine and others around the globe have discovered the beauty of the trail. In particular, just to give you an example, the East Coast Trail put out brochures to access the mapping and so on of their trail system, which is significant now in number. I think it is some 125 kilometres, if I recall correctly, of trail systems along the Province. It is certainly significant - no, I think I am mixing that up. I do not think it is as high as that. My colleague from the Shore might know how long the trail system is – it is a significant amount of trail system, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) about 450 kilometres.

MR. FRENCH: So, Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues says it is 450 kilometres. So that would be a significant piece of real estate.

Mr. Speaker, this has been covered now, and I was talking about the guide that they put out. They actually put out a guide in German as well because there are so many German tourists that come here to this Province just to access the East Coast Trail. You have to give the people at the East Coast Trail credit. These are a group of volunteers that have managed this over the years. I certainly take my hat off to them.

Mr. Speaker, this is definitely a provincial gem in our tourism sector. Like I said, it is an industry now all to itself. It goes through thirty communities, and like I said, the industry now is around B&Bs, stores, break areas where stores have popped up selling water and one thing and another - meals. So it is certainly a significant piece of our tourism product here.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that places like trail systems does, in particular, the East Coast Trail, is that it extends the tourism season for us. So no longer are we doing a summer event, no longer is this a winter event. Trail systems are something that, of course, they are very popular in the summer, but hiking has become very, very popular in the fall and in the spring. Of course, you can walk the trail in different seasons, and every time you walk them you get a different feel for them, especially with the changing of the season. So the East Coast Trail, although people hike it and stay over on the trail in the summer months, it is certainly a good trail to walk in the fall, in particular, and indeed in the spring as well.

There are another couple of pieces, with our ambitions, with our healthy lifestyles, with our health and wellness plans, with our seniors and aging policies now, Mr. Speaker, we have encouraged people to hike and to walk and stay fit. Like I always say, the health care system that we have today, if we do not soon get some of our chronic diseases under control in this Province, then we are going to be in big, big trouble as we go on down life's road. The service that we had today will not be there years down the road. So certainly, the whole lifestyle piece, although it is great for tourists, and we need the tourists to come in here and make the coffers of the Province better, it is certainly just as good for people here at home.

I would just like to also say that the government supports this trail development, particularly the East Coast Trail. The funding part is from the Department of Municipal Affairs; Human Resources, Labour and Employment; Innovation, Trade and Rural Development; and of course, Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

Mr. Speaker, this act will certainly enable non-profit groups to grow pedestrian trails in the Province and remove the liability from the private homeowners and, indeed, the Crown. Mr. Speaker, it has no financial impact on the coffers of the provincial government.

Mr. Speaker, other trails that may take advantage of this, there currently is the Skerwink Trail, which is a beautiful trail system recently written up, I believe, by National Geographic as one of the must-see trails in North America. This is the kind of attention that trail systems are getting. As well as the International Appalachian Trail, which starts down in the United States - and I believe my critic might be familiar with that one. It is a trail that will certainly be run through his district, run through the Appalachian Mountains, and indeed into Newfoundland and further up, hopefully, to Labrador eventually.

Mr. Speaker, that is a significant piece of trail system. There is a program in the United States. They have a group set up there. They have now set a group up in Newfoundland to move this – and again, this would be more for the adventure tourism business. I am thinking that most of this trail would not be of a leisurely walk. We will talk about a bill here in a few minutes about the Grand Concourse Authority, but I think most of these trails would be for the ecotourism piece. Certainly, that is a piece of our tourism industry that we have been trying to capitalize. I have had some great success on it and, certainly, continue to have it. So, Mr. Speaker, the whole purpose of this is, like I said, so that we will grow the trail system and non-profit groups will be interested in becoming involved in the trail systems in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, as I referenced earlier, we certainly realize and recognize the importance of the trail system. I just talked a minute ago talked about chronic disease. Well, when I was in the Department of Health and Community Services I had the opportunity of working on some different files there, in particular the wellness file and the seniors file as well. In all of our strategies, whether it is for health and wellness, or whether it is in seniors, or again for rec and sport, in our department, keeping people active in this Province is something that we have a stretch on.

I speak from personal experience here. Every young person in the Province is not necessarily an athlete, meaning they are not necessarily involved in sports. Some of us love sports and some more do not, so if you are not involved in a sporting community and you are not into soccer or softball or hockey, then we have to have something for you to do to stay physically active. I guess hiking or jogging or biking on our trail systems, Mr. Speaker, is probably where we have to go with it. Although you might not be into a sport, if the resources are there, there is no reason that you cannot be physically active.

Mr. Speaker, let me say that not every trail in the Province can be a designated trail. This piece of legislation we are moving here today is about designating trails. There are trails of different standards but we have to put some rules and regulations in when we designate a trail.

Mr. Speaker, what we have decided as a department to do, is that we are going to go out there now and educate people on the requirements of having a trail designated. Mr. Speaker, some of the requirements to designate a trail, and I will just touch on some of them that we are going to be responsible for. For whoever the minister might be of the day, they will have authority to designate a trail within the regulations.

Mr. Speaker, here are some of the things that they are going to have to be certain of; ownership of the trail. They are going to need ownership and if they are using somebody else's property, then they will need a letter to the effect that it is okay for them to use that piece of property to use the trail, to get on the trail or to end off the trail. Of course, Mr. Speaker, liability insurance; the people responsible for the trail will be encouraged to have the appropriate insurance. Signage; we do not want people getting out on a designated trail and getting lost. So there would need to be certain signs, whether that is mileage signs, directional signs and so forth, and terrain signs that would point out danger ahead and that sort of thing. Of course, it would have to give people some idea of how physically active you would have to be to last some of the trails of this Province, in particular, probably some of the ones in the mountainous terrain.

As well, Mr. Speaker, we will be carrying out inspections to make sure that the designated trail was kept up to the appropriate standard. Of course, maintenance; we would expect trails on a designated trail to have maintenance schedules where they would keep the trails in good shape. Again, you could just go around the St. John's area and see what the Grand Concourse has done here, their trails are absolutely beautiful.

As well, Mr. Speaker, before I clue up on this bill I would just like to say for the benefit of the House and benefit of the people watching, we are in the process of doing a trail strategy. That started, if I am not mistaken, within the last year or so. Because of the interest and because of the number of people out there developing trails, we have started a trail strategy. It is multiple government departments, Mr. Speaker. Its purpose for coming up with this trail strategy is to enable people to get funding, to let them know the designs and the appropriate things to - when you want to designate a trail, as I listed above, you would have to meet certain criteria.

Mr. Speaker, the interesting thing about trails now is that – and there are only a couple I think now in the Province, I know the East Coast Trail is, in particular – they are on GPS, and I am sure that the Appalachian Trail system will also be on GPS. If we want to attract the adventure tourism business that is certainly a way we have to go. That is one of the things that the trail strategy is looking at, is how we get all these points on the trail system so a way finding is relatively easy for those who are familiar with GPS.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is the nuts and bolts of that bill. Like I said, it is certainly important to government. I am going to ask for some more speakers there now. I know there are some people interested on this side of the House to say a few words. I am sure my colleague opposite might have a couple of concerns or a couple of questions or a couple of points he would like to make as well.

Mr. Speaker, without further ado I will take my seat on that one.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I do not mean to interrupt the debate on this particular bill, however, I would like to make a point of order on the fact that when we did the private member's motion it was my intention to ask for leave so the minister could introduce the private member's motion. I also understand that there is sometimes some confusion under Standing Order 63 as to whether or not a minister can do a private member's motion. So, Mr. Speaker, I would just like your ruling on that if we need to have leave in order to introduce that motion.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader raises a good point.

Ministers cannot introduce a private member's resolution. A private member's resolution, which we set aside each Wednesday of each week, is exactly that, a private member's resolution. A Minister of the Crown is not a private member. Ministers can take part in debate on the private member's resolution but in order for a minister to put forward a private member's resolution it can only be done with leave of the House. If the hon. Government House Leader would like to ask for leave for the hon. minister to put forward a private member's resolution, then we can allow that to happen.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With that, we would ask leave so that the hon. minister is able to put forth the motion as read earlier this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs have leave to introduce a private member's resolution to be discussed on the next private members' day?

Leave has been given.

The hon. minister's private member's resolution is accepted.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I appreciate an opportunity to have a few words with respect to Bill 5. This is the first bill, of course, in this session that we have dealt with in terms of legislation as such. The balance was dealt with dealing with the Budget Speech and monetary issues, Interim Supply and so on. Now today we have switched gears as it were, and we are going to talk about some pieces of legislation.

I say, by the way, congratulations. I believe this is the Minister of Tourism's first piece of legislation that he has brought into the House, I do believe, or second one. So, hats off to the minister.

Of course, there are some questions, and this is what we call second reading. I think there are some very good questions which need to be posed to the minister here in second reading so that hopefully when we get to the committee stage we can have some answers to those questions, because despite all the good stuff that the minister said about trails and how valuable the trails are to our Province as a tourist attraction but also to people who are into fitness generally, there are a lot of questions that still remain to be answered and I am not certain if this particular bill answers those questions. I will get into some of the detail as to what I mean by those concerns as we go forward, because we certainly would not want everybody out there in this Province to think that once this bill passes today you have no worries if you break a leg on a trail, or the associations who run the trails, for example, have no more concerns should someone use a trail that they built. Where is the liability to? Is it on the association? Is it on the Crown, and so on?

Also, of course, it is very relevant as to whether the trail is located in a municipality or if it is out in the wilderness. When you talk about trails, for example, within the City of St. John's, the Grand Concourse, which we are going to deal with later today in Bill 12, it is a different situation all together than when you talk about trails that this member is familiar with, in my District of Burgeo & La Poile. What do you do with a trail, for example, that is located between Rose Blanche and Burnt Islands and it was built by a regional association of some kind? They are not covered by any insurance policy that would exist in Rose Blanche, Harbour Le Cou. They are not covered by any insurance liability policy that might exist in the Town of Burnt Island because it is physically located between the two communities on Crown lands.

Now how it got there, of course, was over the years people wanted to enhance the tourist things they have in their Province to attract them. Like, for example, in that neck of the woods we have the famous Rose Blanche lighthouse. So to add to that you try to develop your trails, have some kind of tourist interpretation centres and so on. So we have one, and I just throw that one out as an example to the minister. There is one that runs from Route 470 between Burnt Islands and Rose Blanche and heads inland to a beautiful waterfall. The question is - it was built there by one of the local tourist associations a few years ago.

Of course, we often find in this Province that MHAs, when it comes summertime and fall, you are looking for job creation money to help those people who were not fortunate enough to get enough time to get their unemployment. The experience has been, in many districts and parts of this Province, that associations often have accessed these funds and they have used these funds to build trails. That is what a lot of them did with it.

So it was not built by the Town of Burnt Islands or the Town of Rose Blanche, but the trail got built; used government money to build it, usually. Usually it was provincial government money that was given through the job creation funding that normally came out of the Department of Municipal Affairs, and the trail got built. It was a great initiative, and added to the tourist infrastructure that existed in an area, but that was ten years ago. The association has since become disbanded, for example. The trail, particularly the woodworks on the trail, has become rotten. The question is now, if you stick a sign up, if someone sticks a sign up on Route 470 and says: Use at your own risk…. Now, we do not know who put the sign up; we do not know what legal effect that has: Use at your own risk.

The fact that you built something and then you abandoned it, does that get rid of your liabilities? If someone visiting from Massachusetts, for example, were to stop their car at that site, go on the trail and break their leg when they cross one of the wooden bridges that were built ten years ago, what does this bill do to that? What does this bill we are dealing with here today, Bill 5, do to protect the association who built the trail in the first place? What consequence does it have for the person who incurred the injury? Do they have any legal recourse? Will they be saying you, as an association, should have kept that bridge maintained?

Never mind passing a bill in May 2010 exempting somebody from liability, the Crown included. We have to deal with the fact that you put the structure there before you passed the bill. So you cannot come back now, in May 2010, and say we are going to absolve the Crown of any liability - or anyone else, owners and occupiers of liability - whereas you built the structure before you passed the law. I think you are going to have a problem with that.

Those are the kinds of questions on which I would like to get some explanation from the minister or someone in the Department of Justice to say what, exactly, are the ramifications of this. I will come back in further detail to those concerns. I just flesh that out; that is just a background of where I am coming from, and giving an example of the types of concerns that exist.

I am sure every member here has these trails in their district. The Member for Gander, for example, anything that is within the confines of Gander, nine chances out of ten he is probably covered off by the municipal insurance of the Town of Gander. Likewise, anybody in St. John's, for example, is probably covered off by that municipal insurance piece. The Member for Kilbride, for example, if he has trails, is probably covered off - the Member for CBS and the Member for Topsail – but there are a lot of places in the Province where we are not covered off by municipal councils; we are not even covered off by local service districts. There is nobody; somebody built it in no man's land. I will come back to that, and when I do I will mention another well-known trail in this Province and that is the Wreckhouse Trail which runs off the Trans-Canada Highway. I think technically is in the district of the Member for Stephenville East. It was built there by an association that has operated in her district for many, many years and continues to operate. I will come back to that example, just a next-door district to this member.

Speaking of the trails, of course, I had the benefit this week – I do not claim to be a fitness nut or anything, but - I had the benefit this weekend of travelling on three trails. I did not do it because I thought I would get prepared and have a first-hand experience for today. I just did it; I was in town for the weekend and decided to do this. I wanted to do the East Coast Trail, or one piece of the East Coast Trail, because it is a massive, massive, piece of infrastructure.

Saturday morning, despite the snowfall we had overnight, I trekked the trail from Cape Spear to Blackhead - partway, I should say. I had a visitor with me who was not quite as prepared as I was, and had the proper footwear. Given the snow and the wet ground and whatever, and some of the slippery boards that were there, they had to come back. They got cold and so on, and had to give it up.

She managed to get back, and she got warmed up and so on, but she promises to – in fact, we did not discourage her because she did another one the very next day, yesterday, when we trekked around Signal Hill–Quidi Vidi. I, albeit coming here for years and years, have never appreciated nor experienced the trail systems that exist here on the Northeast Avalon. I have done some. I have done a lot of the Grand Concourse piece within the city, but in terms of the trail systems outside the city, like out in Cape Spear and so on, I had not done it. I had done the Signal Hill one a few years ago, as well, and they tell me after that I did the easy part. I went from Cuckold's Cove, up the hill; then I went down again and out around the Cabot Tower. They say if you are any kind of hiker you start at the other end, you come up over Signal Hill and then go to Cuckold's Cove. Anyway, that is the challenge I have for next weekend, to go that way.

It is a beautiful trail system, but I saw and experienced yesterday, without even realizing we were dealing with this bill today, some of the concerns that people have. By the way, I met, both in Cape Spear on Saturday and yesterday, people who were obviously not from Newfoundland and Labrador. They were visitors. In fact, on the Signal Hill one I would say there were a good sixty or seventy people that we encountered yesterday that you could tell were not locals. They were from away and they were out trekking, different nationalities and so on. One couple we had seen out in Cape Spear, as well, were not up for the snow that was on the ground. I think one was from India and one was from China, so they were not particularly up for the snow that was out in Cape Spear on Saturday morning. They stuck to the lighthouse rather than the trail. Anyway, they acknowledged that it is certainly beautiful scenery and that if they had been properly prepared, of course, they would have done the trail.

I point out, for example, in terms of liability again, when you come to bridge 15 – because all of the bridges are numbered on the Signal Hill trek. I guess that is a pretty smart idea, too, because if you have a problem and you go out and someone notices that there is an issue, there is a board broken or there is a rail gone, when you come back to try to explain to someone where it was, it is pretty simple because you can say on bridge 15, which is all numbered, there is a board missing or a rail missing.

I found it a little bit scary yesterday, actually. I think it is on bridge 14 or 15 - I am not certain - there seems to be quite a bit of erosion. In fact, two of the boards were gone. That is where this issue comes up. What happens, for example, on the Signal Hill trail, should someone twist a foot or hurt themselves under that circumstance? What is the consequence of this bill that we are passing here today? Because, I am assuming that it is either the City of St. John's or the Signal Hill National Historic Trust that deals with that issue. They have existed for years and years and I am sure there must have been injuries, in the past, of people twisting their feet and so on. What is the consequence of this bill on that type of situation that we have?

I noticed, as well, for example, on Cape Spear – now, I know we have the East Coast Trails Association. Maybe the minister can tell us, in the course of second reading or in responding to closing out debate on second reading, maybe the minister can find out: Does the East Coast Trails, for example, have an insurance policy that covers them off should someone get injured on their trail? We realize that they are operating on lands that are not particularly within any municipality. I know on the trek from Cape Spear to Blackhead, I mean there are no municipalities there. They might be within a municipal boundary, but I doubt it. Are they within the City of St. John's even? Do the boundaries of the city extend that far? Those would be nice questions to have answered. The Member for Kilbride was a former member of city council, I am sure he has had to deal with some of these questions in the past as well.

You talk about the benefits of it all. I come back to my own district again; we have an area called Grand Bay West with beautiful beaches. Unfortunately, we have North Atlantic temperatures in the water, but in terms of the beauty of the beaches and the shoreline and the coastline, it rivals anywhere I have ever seen. I have been to quite a few destinations. Burgeo as well is in my district. The Sandbanks of Burgeo are world famous. If we only had the Hawaiian temperatures with the beaches in Burgeo, we would not be able to (inaudible) hands with the tourists that we would be getting here for resorts and so on. It is absolutely fantastic.

In the case of Grand Bay West, we have built over the last few years and are still building up to last fall a trail system throughout. Again, the question arises because the minister in this bill talks about designated areas, and that is where I think the crux comes into all of this stuff. It says in clause 3, "A trail that meets the prescribed criteria may be designated by regulation to be a trail to which this Act applies." So the first logical question is: What are the prescribed criteria? Now I realize a lot of times you do not always have all the information you need when you pass a piece of legislation. Surely the minister must have some information, now at this point when he is getting ready to do the bill, as to what is going to be the criteria, the prescribed criteria, in order to have a trail such that you would be designated to have this act apply to you. It is not much point in us passing this piece of legislation - every person I would say who runs a trail in this Province, if they already have not been told about this happening here in the House today, once they find out about it through the media, they are going to be running to the minister's office and saying: Okay, what is the prescribed criteria? Are we going to be able to get that fixed up in time for this year's tourist season? Are we too late, because this is May month? That is the kind of questions that people are going to have and I think the minister should and can be helpful to all of us if he gives us that type of information now.

It says - and again, the definition of a trail is pretty wide open here. In section 2.(c) it says: "trail" means a trail designated by regulations…" Now that is pretty wide open. That does not tell us too much of what a trail is. So, is there any idea now before we pass the legislation that the minister could give us to help us understand it, number one, and hopefully enlighten the public as well as to what is intended here, because God forbid if we do not ask these questions.

We have had the government ministers in the last two or three weeks pounding us because we did not ask enough questions about Bill 75 when they took Abitibi. So, God forbid if we do not ask all the questions, even though we are told that it is a national emergency that we have to do this and it has to be passed by this afternoon, even though they had tons of lawyers working on it and whatever else. Somehow or other the Opposition were remiss in not asking all these questions about that Bill 75. So, God forbid if we do not ask the questions and pose them.

I just put some of that stuff out there for the minister, that what appears to be just an innocuous piece of business we are dealing with here is not so innocuous. Because if you do not understand what it means and the consequences of it, why should we pass it and what are the consequences of it? So that is two questions.

This new law by the way, and it is a new law, it stands alone. It is not an amendment to something else, some other piece of legislation that exists. It says this is an act. This is not an act to amend somebody; this is, An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails. So, when you read it, there are five sections to it. Number one says we are going to call this the Pedestrian Trails Liability Protection Act. Pretty straightforward, that only names it. Number two, gives you definitions. They tell you what minister deals with it. They tell you what an owner or occupier means and they say what a trail is, and a trail is whatever the minister says it is.

When you look at number three, it says: "A trail that meets the prescribed criteria…" which again, I have already said I do not have any idea what that is, and nobody in this Province right now has any idea of what it is going to take to be a prescribed trail. If you have that and you meet those criteria, you may be designated. Not going to be, you may be designated by regulation to be a trail to which this act applies. So now we are three clauses in and there is nothing definitive here or specific as to what we are talking about. We are pushing all this out to somebody to make these decisions.

Then in number four it talks about liability. Now I presume we are getting down to the nuts and bolts of it here because it is called the Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails. Now when you read section 4, which I would take to be the pith and substance, they call it, of the legislation. It says, 4.(1) "A person using a trail voluntarily assumes all risk, as against the Crown, that may be encountered on the trail when using the trail, whether the person is on the trail or not." Now that is a mouthful. A person using a trail voluntarily assumes all risk that may be encountered on the trail when using the trail, whether the person is on the trail or not. So I guess we are not only talking about what happens on the trail, we are talking about if something happens off the trail. It might be in a parking lot. You might have stepped off the trail to get a drink of water, slipped and broke your back. That covers this as well, so it is not only covering the trails. I would assume that those circumstances, are they going to be enumerated somewhere in the regulations, because what constitutes on or off the trail, or not?

Again, all of that only talks about as against the Crown. It only talks about the Crown. So what happens to the trail, for example, between Rose Blanche and Burnt Islands that was put there by the associations in the past? We know the Crown is going to be off the hook, after we pass this. I am assuming it is Crown land that it is built on. I cannot imagine that the trail that I am referencing here that goes into the waterfalls in that area, like the Wreckhouse Trail, for example, which goes from the Trans-Canada where the old famous Wreckhouse, which Lauchie McDougall lived in, the human wind gauge, goes on into the mountain and goes up the side of the mountain, the hills overlooking Tompkins, that was built there by an association.

Now, it is fine for the Crown to say we are going to be off the hook, but what about the association that put it there? Are they off the hook? If they are not, my suggestion to the minister would be: If we are going down this path, why shouldn't we include bona fide associations who build the trails? We are not talking about private interests here where somebody builds a trail and there should be some expectation of if I did it on my land and I offer it as a business initiative. If I put a mini golf course on my property, for example, I am expected to have insurance for it. If we are going to go down this road, why would we only give the Crown exemption from liability? Why wouldn't we say while we are at it anybody who has a trail – you might want to go back and put some prescribed conditions on it to bring it up to snuff, that is okay, but why wouldn't we give some protections for these non-profit, non-municipal, volunteer bodies and groups that have built these trails over the years?

Also in clause 4.(2) it says, "An owner or occupier of land that forms a part of a trail, including the Crown, together with his or her agents, employees and servants, does not owe a duty of care to a person who is using the trail or that person's property whether that person is on the trail or not."

The question is: Who is the owner here? Is the association the owner or is the Crown the owner? That is where we would just like some clarification as to exactly what are the ramifications of clause 4.

It is somewhat confusing. I would like if the minister could explain to this to me. I will read again, for the minister's benefit, because if you read clause 4.(2), which I just read, it says, "An owner or occupier of land that forms a part of a trail, including the Crown, together with his or her agents, employees and servants, does not owe a duty of care to a person who is using the trail or that person's property whether that person is on the trail or not." Does not owe a duty. Then, in subsection (3) it says, "Notwithstanding subsection (2)…" - in other words notwithstanding what we just said - "…the owner or occupier of land that forms a part of a trail owes a duty of care to persons using the trail not to create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or the person's property."

So maybe if we can get some education around exactly what the consequences of those two clauses are because I cannot imagine, for example, that anybody who builds a trail deliberately sets out the cause of danger. Then you are into trapping, you are not into tourism and trails, you are into trying to deliberately cause harm. I would think anybody who deliberately does something to cause somebody harm, there is going to be some liability down the road to you in any case when you deliberately set out to hurt people. That is what it says here, "…a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm..." I would not think anybody in this Province, any municipality, any agency, or any association ever built a trail for that purpose.

Then we come to number five and it says, "The minister may make regulations (a) designating a trail; (b) establishing criteria and prescribing those subject areas with respect to which the minister may set standards that must be complied with for a trail to be designated under this Act; (c) describing a trail using the licence to occupy number assigned under the Lands Act by the minister appointed under the Executive Council Act to administer that Act, or by some other method…" - if someone could educate me on what that means; an explanation of that would be helpful as well - and,"…(d) defining a word that is not already defined in this Act for the purpose of this Act…" What is the purpose of that section?

Trail is an important word. We already dealt with that back in section 2.(c). We said a trail was whatever the minister says a trail is. I guess a trail designated by regulations. So, I guess, the minister can say today a trail is one thing, tomorrow he can say a trail is something else. What is going to be the consistency here of what a trail is? We might, for example, think that the Wreckhouse Trail is a pretty good trail but when you start comparing it to trails that have been done by the eastern association down here or the Grand Concourse, there is probably no comparison in terms of how well they are constructed, the materials used and so on.

So, some consistency of what is a suitable trail, and I think there ought to be some discussion of it here because what you say is an acceptable trail in Labrador, for example, Lake Melville area, might not be what you would do in the centre of St. John's. I think there should be some consistency that we are not setting a standard here as to what a trail is that some can meet and others cannot. So, some information as to what is going to be a trail and what is going to be the prescribed standards of a trail.

The other piece about this which comes to mind is: Where is the minister in terms of fitting this piece of legislation and the regulations to come in with what already exists? I mean we have at least twenty years of trail construction projects that have gone on in this Province. Some in national sites like Gros Morne, as I say, Signal Hill. We have the East Coast Trail Association. We have them inside of municipalities. We have them outside of municipalities like the Starlight Trail I referred to and the Rose Blanche trails.

Where are we in regard to the impact of this piece of legislation on the trails that exist? I know, for example, of circumstances where associations have disbanded, people have left them simply because they did not want to get hit with the possible liability for being a member of an association that might be held responsible for a trail. They have had those - people worked on these associations, they were either naturalists themselves or concerned citizens, wanted to take part, wanted to beautify their areas for example, all of a sudden they get their trail built - and you never heard too much about this first. First going off in the 1980s and such, oh my God, that is a great idea. They are really going to spruce up the town or the area, great for tourists and great for the locals who want to stay in shape. All of sudden you started hearing this insurance piece and people said: My God, if you are on a tourist association and you built that trail and somebody comes here from away and falls down and breaks their leg, somebody is getting sued.

Governments, of course, did the prudent thing. The Minister of Tourism of the day, he sent out a notice when all this stuff started to come about. The minister said - and I refer to a press release that came out of the government's Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation Tourism Product Development Division. It does not have a date on it right here, but it talks about trail development and information for project sponsors. It says right in here in terms of liability, paragraph two, "We suggest that you consider any liability issues surrounding your project and consider whether your organization needs to arrange for suitable liability insurance." So, government says: Well, we are not recommending you go ahead, obviously, if you do not look after these issues. That has been the pat answer from the Department of Tourism for years on the liability issue. So how does this legislation, Bill 5, square with that trail development information package that was put out some time ago?

The thing you have to remember, too, is the cost. It might be okay, for example, if you are in a city and you have lots of users who want to throw in a few bucks as a volunteer piece, and the association uses that to buy an insurance package, but I am not aware of any tourism association that could ever get insurance. I am not aware of any insurance company that is prepared to bear the risk of these associations and give them insurance. If you do, of course - everything in the insurance world is based on actuarial calculations - you are certainly going to pay through the nose to get it.

That kind of information, if the minister could come back with some of that stuff to fill us in; because everybody should have a sense of comfort here as to what we are doing, and the public is going to want to know: Okay, why did these people spend all this time talking about this in the House of Assembly and we know diddly-squat about it now compared to when we started?

I view these legislative sessions here as a great opportunity for the minister to explain the bill, to explain the pros and the cons of it, because it is not all about getting it done. You are going to get it done. Of course, there is an expectation and certainly a need to do it right. There is no point in passing a piece of legislation that we do not understand.

Even the minister, I am sure, likes to know what he is doing. He wants to keep himself informed, and anything that he learns about and explains to us here in the House, he is going to have it whenever he speaks anywhere else, to be able to explain to anyone else. So when he goes out around the Province this summer, taking part in the culture events and the tourist events and the come home years and everything else, he is going to get this question put to him. He is going to get that ten, fifteen or twenty times maybe. It is not like he is not going to hear it from someone else other than us in the House. He is going to hear this; he is probably going to be sick of hearing it. So, just for personal development reasons and information, it is going to help the minister, I say – it is going to help the minister - to be informed about this stuff so that he can answer anybody. I am sure John Grant down in Burgeo is just dying to ask him, and will ask him, as soon as he steps foot in Burgeo.

The other piece is not only the liability thing referenced in the trail information package I referred to. That was a pretty comprehensive package, by the way. It talked about signage policy on the trails. It talked about environmental assessments on the trails, water permits, trail standards and other trail considerations, a pretty comprehensive kit. Now, some have said to me that the reason, of course, the Department of Tourism put that out was because, if you do not know how to deal with an issue, and you do not want to be responsible for what might happen, the best defence to that is to go on the offence and tell everybody what you have to do in order to get sanctioned.

When you look at this kit that is exactly what the government did here. They said, in the case of liability, go get your insurance; check it out. The signage, you have to get permits from the local Government Service Centre regional office if you are going to put any signs on any trail that you might have. That drags another department in right away.

Then, you talk about environmental assessments, it says: A provincial government environmental assessment for walking trails is required. Now we have another department involved, Environment and Conservation.

We are talking about a piece of legislation here that is emanating from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and we already know from this pamphlet that department has out that they already require, under their policy - whether it is law or not, under their policy - you have to go to Government Services to get a permit, you have to go to Environment and Conservation to get a permit, and they tell you go check it out with your insurance company to see if you can get insurance. By the way, you also have to go the Department of Environment and Conservation if your trail comes anywhere near the water. There is a pretty good chance, if you build a trail in Newfoundland and Labrador, in the great outdoors, there is a pretty good chance you are going to come in touch with a body of water, or pretty near. You are going to have to build a bridge somewhere, of some kind.

That is to say nothing of standards, by the way. The government already has this policy telling you what standards - you have to have certain standards. While no standards exist on a provincial level - so they tell you right off there are no existing standards - groups are encouraged to engage the services of a consultant or experienced trail builder. Many provincial trails are in a state of disrepair due to improper design and construction, and lack of a maintenance plan.

I would like to know exactly where Bill 5 sits in terms of all of this. We know the government tells you to get environmental approval on two counts. You know you have to go to Government Services to get a permit. They are not telling you what the standards are, but they recommend you go see a consultant. They are telling us now this bill is going to deal with liability protection on portions of a pedestrian trail. I wonder if the minister could tell us why the words "on portions of" are used. What is the significance of that? Are we passing a piece of legislation here that is only on portions of? If we are only going to do it piecemeal, what pieces and why those pieces? What pieces of the trails and why only those pieces are we dealing with? Because it would be a shame if at the end of the day all we have done here is have the Crown exempt itself from liability, but we have not done anything for anyone else.

Maybe that is the goal; maybe that is the sole motivation and purpose of this bill. Maybe it is only to protect the Crown. There is nothing wrong with that, if the government acknowledges that is the case and gives their reasons as to why we are only concerned with the Crown here. If that is the case, I would just like a more full, complete answer as to why only the Crown. Maybe it does, in its language, and I am missing something here; maybe it does help all these other groups like the associations and people who build these things.

Some education on those things would be very beneficial. Usually you give a hint, when you are in second reading; especially if you are the critic for a department, you usually say: Well, we find no problem in agreeing with this bill, and we will be supportive of this bill, or we will be against this bill, just so the minister usually has a heads-up: Is this going to go through? Not in terms of numbers, because obviously the government has the numbers to put it through. This is not a numbers game. This is about forcing something down people's throats, if they do not understand it.

This member, I cannot honestly say which way I am going to vote on Bill 5. There are just so many problems; I do not know about problems, but there are just so many things unexplained about it. I cannot honestly say, in second reading, whether I am supportive of it because I do not fully understand it. I have read it, I have re-read it, I read all the department correspondence that came with it, did our research on it, and yet I am at a loss for someone to tell me in layman's language what exactly Bill 5 reads.

Now, maybe some of the members opposite - they took time over the weekend, I am sure, too, to hike a trail and read the legislation, and they know all about Bill 5 - maybe some of them would like to get up and explain it. Maybe the minister does not have to go figure this stuff out.

Those are the concerns that we have, and I think they are very legitimate concerns. I would be remiss, of course, if I did not mention as well that we are going to be talking later on today about Bill 12, which is the Grand Concourse which runs in the capital city region. I believe it might even go out to Mount Pearl; I am not quite certain. I know some of the trails lead towards Mount Pearl. I am not sure if the Grand Concourse is a part of the Mount Pearl city. The Member for Mount Pearl indicates that it is. Now that is certainly a valued, important piece of infrastructure to our Province; no question about it. I must say, I went back and checked because someone said it was the Johnson Foundation that made a major contribution towards it. There was a whole bunch of other people who put money into it: cities, ACOA put money into it, the provincial government put money into it, and the federal government put money into it. Of course, the dreamer who came up with the idea was Paul Johnson, and I have heard that name so often. I never, ever met the gentleman. I did not know what it was about, but he is a noted philanthropist in Newfoundland who was the architect of the Grand Concourse – not technically the architect, but the creator, shall we say, of the concept.

There is the person who puts his money where his mouth is. It is unfortunate that we do not have someone like him for the rest of Newfoundland to develop our trail systems because they have done a fantastic job in what they created in the course of the concept. This is the same gentleman, of course, who put millions of dollars into the GEO CENTRE up on the top of Signal Hill. It was a marvel, not only because of the construction and how it was constructed down into the granite, but again where it is located, right adjacent to Signal Hill of course. It takes advantage of the 700,000 or 800,000 people every year who visit Cabot Tower and Signal Hill. So he is well noted for his achievements, in fact, duly honoured in 2004 as one of the first recipients of the Medal of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I will not deal with it at this point because I do not want to confuse things between the Grand Concourse legislation and Bill 12 and what we are dealing with in Bill 5, but there are questions that will come up when we deal with Bill 12, when I will ask the minister: What is the difference between the two? There are some terms that are mentioned in one that are not in the other and I am just wondering why? I will ask those questions at that time as to why we deal differently with the liability issues in the Grand Concourse than what it appears to be what we are putting forth in Bill 5.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my leave at this point. That is all the comments I have to make with respect to Bill 5. I look forward to the minister giving some information to the questions that I have posed. Again, of course, when we get to committee stage we can go back and forth if we wish on the particular sections of the bill.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER (T. Osborne): The hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to rise in the House today and speak to Bill 5, An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails.

Mr. Speaker, all of us know from across this Island and certainly in Labrador, there are a lot of trails and traditional trails that evolved over the years. I know for my area, being quite familiar with it, growing up in a small community in Mobile, a lot of the trails that were there were used by people for firewood, to hunt. It was a big part of their livelihood. Most rural communities are like that, no doubt, Mr. Speaker.

What has happened over the years in terms of accessing that beauty, for everybody, for people here in the Province as well for people who visit our Province, is that they have access to the unlimited coastlines we have. So we celebrate the beauty we have, and no doubt it is a huge attraction to our Province, that we have that coastline and everything that goes with it, whether it is icebergs, whales, ecological reserves, you name it. It opens up an adventurous experience for anybody. As well, as the minister mentioned earlier in some of his discussion, in terms of promoting healthy lifestyles and being active, and gives tremendous infrastructure to be able to do that.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, as has been referenced, looks at providing liability protection to the Crown and as well to owners or occupiers of land whose property forms a part of that trail, and that is designated under the act. As I said, a lot of this has evolved over the years in terms of historic trails, community trails, you name it. Now they have evolved into designated trails or may be designated trails in the future. (Inaudible) in terms of what happens in terms of something happens on the trails, those types of things. So this act looks to deal with that, in terms of whether it is Crown land or whether it is indeed private property.

Mr. Speaker, my area, the District of Ferryland, is blessed with a great number of trails. It is a big tourism draw. A number of people are involved with the East Coast Trail, which runs pretty well through my district, from Petty Harbour, Maddox Cove south to Cappahayden. The whole trail I think encompasses about 540 kilometres, I do believe, starting at Pouch Cove and coming right down south along the Southern Shore.

We talk about volunteer groups that have gotten together; I think it was in 1994, if I remember correctly, the East Coast Trail, a non-profit group got together. Even prior to that, volunteers got together in upgrading trails that had been traditionally used, and in many respects are still traditionally used, and formed an association to upgrade, identify that coastline area, and look for funding to enhance those trails. It is what has evolved today, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the amount of people who use the trails. We know that trails have been written up, the East Coast Trails around the world, in terms of those who vacation to walk trails around the world and a few experiences around the world; that is second to none. On this side of the water and in Europe as well, has been written up and is designated and is well-respected in terms of what the traveller can explore and the quality of trails.

Again, in my area in particular we have ecological reserves. We have abandoned communities that the trails take you through, viewing of wildlife as well border the Avalon Wilderness Area; lighthouses. There is a full gamut of experience for those who walk the trails; the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve, the Colony of Avalon. With that and with those trails - what is in those various communities, it makes the experience complete. It is not only that, Mr. Speaker, it is the spin off in terms of the communities, whether it is B&Bs, just general stores, or people staying over. Some would come for a week or longer or a day, stay overnight and experience many parts of the trail to get the full experience.

I see it in my communities. I spoke to a B&B owner last fall. I remember it was on the shoulder season, it was not right in the middle of tourism season, but a couple was staying there from New York City. They stayed for a week and he had asked them why they picked Newfoundland and Labrador. They said they had seen it on the Web site in terms of the East Coast Trail; the beauty, pristine nature of what you would experience. They said they had to come and stayed a week in Fermeuse in a B&B, and travelled back and forth, north and south in terms of the trail; a wonderful experience. Again, as I indicated, it is a tremendous asset in terms of where it is and how it is developed.

This legislation looks at, in regard to all of that, Mr. Speaker, in terms of protection through a liability protection act, that unfortunately we have - these trails are on Crown land as well as private land and we want to ensure there is protection there for those who access it. Then, as well, those people where parts of the trail is on private property, they have concerns in terms of if something were to happen, who is liable and what liability is there. This alleviates some of their concerns in terms that the trail access is not denied; the trail access now is there. This legislation addresses that and allows it to continue and the good work that is being done with it continues to be allowed. That is what this piece of legislation will attempt to do and much needed.

I know some time ago I had some representatives of the East Coast Trail come in and see me specifically for this purpose in terms of discussing the requirement of this on a go-forward basis. I understand there is similar legislation in Prince Edward Island, as well as Nova Scotia, in terms of trails and pedestrian trails legislation. So it is something that has been done in other jurisdictions, and it is just that we are, I guess, getting up to scratch in terms of what is needed here in addressing the particulars on this.

I mentioned, in terms of an infrastructure like this and to have it, and some of the exposure you give certainly around the world in terms of people coming to visit. This government in 2008 I do believe, if I remember correctly, in that Budget, invested $500,000 over five years to do investments. As I said, the East Coast Trail was started in 1994. It needed upgrades and maintenance and that was part of recognition of the importance of it. So it was carried through and that work is underway now and continuing. There is always expansion of the trails, certainly updates, maintenance, and those kinds of initiatives because it is used extensively. So, with that use comes some required maintenance. As well, the nature in terms of the difference seasons and so forth and so on, Mr. Speaker, and that is required and carried out as well.

Along the route in my area, you have La Manche Park, you have camping facilities and you have RV access as well in terms of La Manche Park and other areas. The club itself, the East Coast Trail provides guided tours and a whole range of initiatives in terms of whether you are a starter or whether you are an experienced traveller. They are rated differently and you can access them on a need basis as required.

One of the great attributes is certainly the old community of La Manche which was hit by a tidal wave, I believe, in the late 1960s. The East Coast Trail, through initiatives over the year, replaced a fifty-metre suspension bridge. It is quite an experience, Mr. Speaker, if anybody gets a chance to go experience and to travel that part of the trail. It is certainly a tremendous piece of infrastructure that puts in and certainly highlights the beauty of the area and the historic part of the community.

The other thing I think is important in terms of these trails, especially this one in terms of the East Coast Trail and it runs through a community, I mentioned how it was tied historically to the communities. It is always good and I think it is important that we recognize that it was built by the forefathers of the communities. It was built for a number of reasons: to access fishing sheds, for hunting, to the basic staples of life to ensure that they could live in rural communities. I even relate back - I know some people were lost at sea. I know a gentleman from the neighbouring community where I grew up was lost at sea down duck hunting one evening. So I think it is important to remember that as we move forward and these trails are developed for everybody, it is always nice to look at it historically and see how they were part of the community and certainly celebrate it. Today, we are part of these rural communities. They played a key role in those communities and I think it is important, as we move forward, that is not forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation, as we know, will look at, as I said, protections that are required for private owners as well as for the Crown in terms of liability, much needed in terms of where we are today and where we need to go in the future. I know there is a bill coming up, an additional bill, Bill 12, which deals with the Grand Concourse Authority. As well, in my particular area, in the Goulds region, the Grand Concourse looks at the Bidgood's Park. The Bidgood family donated a huge parcel of the land in the Gould's area for that purpose. It is certainly a tremendous gesture in terms of donating that property. That falls under the Grand Concourse and that has been worked on as well through that organization. I know there is a separate bill that will be debated here today that speaks to that as well.

Mr. Speaker, the essence of this, I think, as we move forward, there are questions in debate that we will talk about as we go through and items that people want to bring up and talk about. I think as we move forward as a Province, in particular, in my area we look at the East Coast Trail and the many communities that it runs through, it is something we certainly have to look at. It is much needed. Those that are involved recognize that it is needed. It is something that has come of age in other jurisdictions. We are certainly looking to step up, make sure we are in line with other jurisdictions and make sure that we can provide the protection that is needed.

With that, I will conclude my comments, Mr. Speaker, but I certainly congratulate the minister on bringing it forward. It is certainly well needed. I am certainly interested to hear the rest of the debate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to Bill 5, An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails. We really are blessed right now in the Province. The more I travel around the Province I realize it is the Province. We are really blessed with pedestrian trails being developed all over the place. They really are wonderful for lots of reasons. Of course, one is because all of them open up lovely, beautiful places to see, either inside of a community or out by the water, or through the woods. There is just so much in our Province that is beautiful and so much that gives pleasure to people that it is great to see the trail structure that we have.

I know that many people would like to see the trails increased - the numbers of trails be increased. I think the purpose of this legislation might be to help - one of the purposes - with getting people to think more freely about getting involved in trail construction.

So, I think it is a very good thing. Having the trail system also allows people more easily to get exercise because sometimes the trails can make rougher sections of land accessible to more people. That is an important part of being able to get out and exercise. Not everybody can walk the same type of trail. So having a trail structure can mean that those who are building the trail can keep in mind that there could be people wanting to use the trail who have some disabilities and can make the trail more accessible.

So, getting involved in the building of trails is extremely important, and we see it happening in many ways in the Province. I think what is really important, though, is that no matter who builds the trails, whether it is a municipality, or it is a foundation, or it is the Province because some trails are found inside of parks for example, whoever builds them, that the Province is involved in responsibility for those trails. This again, the piece of legislation that we are looking at today, is showing us the Province recognizing that there are aspects of the trail system that the Province has responsibility for.

The liability protection, I think, is extremely important because very often the trails that are built may be built by a body that has insurance protection, for example, a municipality. It could be that a foundation may have that as well, but people who own parts of trails, who own parts of the land that trails are on, it is a different story. That is what this liability protection is about here today. This is what we are dealing with because this liability protection has come out of concern – one of the concerns, I think, is that trail development has slowed down. One of the reasons it has slowed down is because there have been some liability cases. As that news gets around, then people who might be considering banding together and getting a trail started may hear the stories of maybe an accident that has happened and liability that had to be assumed by people running a trail or people owning parts of a trail. That makes it rather fearsome then for them to think about starting up.

So it is important that we make sure that there is protection there for all people. People who use the trails, they understand, I think, that they have to be responsible for themselves, they have to assume responsibility for having chosen to go out on the trail, but at the same time, they do have the right to have some sense that nobody has deliberately made the trail unsafe or that the trail is legitimately a trail. That may sound strange to people listening, but that is what this piece of legislation is all about. This legislation will give protection to trails that have been recognized as trails by government regulations.

Now, a concern that I have, and it has been raised already this afternoon but I want to raise it again, is that the piece of legislation that we have deals with the liability issue, and that is important, but one of the most important parts of the bill is the fact that a trail has to be defined. It has to be designated. It is the minister who makes the regulations to designate a trail. Part of the designation of the trail will involve establishing criteria and prescribing those subject areas with respect to which the minister may set standards that must be complied with for a trail to be designated under this act.

I understand that the minister and his department have been involved for a quite a long time in communicating with groups that are involved in our trail system; that they have listened to concerns that have been raised and they have been quite consultative in their approach to putting this piece of legislation together. My concern - or my hope I guess, I will not say concern - my hope is and my expectation is that the kind of consultation that has gone on to this point will continue and that there will be ongoing consultation by government with concerned bodies as they put together the standards, as they define what standards are needed and as they set up a maintenance regime. What maintenance regime should a trail have? I am positive that is going to be part of the designation of trail.

It is not good enough for a group to put a trail in place, but I think they are going to have to prove to government that they are continually maintaining that trail. This is a concern that I have, if government designates what constitutes a trail and sets up the criteria, and a group who have put a trail together come and want to get recognized as a trail, then is that forever, or are there points at which government is going to check in on that trail to make sure that it is keeping all of the promises that it made when it became designated? So if it says, for example, it has an annual maintenance, upkeep of the trail and what that maintenance involves, will government be checking to see if in actual fact they are doing that or will the compliance be totally self regulated? I do have some concerns about total self regulation. I suppose if you had a good complaint system so that anybody using the trail had somewhere to go to complain, and that included government who should be the overseer, then maybe self regulation would work but if it is self regulation without there ever again being any kind of inspection of the trail, we could run into problems.

One of the things that the bill is dealing with is the fact - again, I think this has been referred to already today - that parts of trails are sometimes privately owned. It is not that a foundation or a municipality owns the whole trail or has use of the whole trail but there are also parts of the trail that may be owned or occupied by somebody other than those who run the trail. This is one of the issues that the piece of legislation is trying to get in touch with, because people need to know that no matter where they are on the trail, they are on a trail that is recognized and that is designated as a trail.

Now, whether it is Crown property or whether it is owned by a private owner or whether it is owned by or run by a foundation, no matter what the ownership is or the management is nobody is being held liable for anything that might happen to an individual or to individuals on that trail unless they do something deliberately to cause harm or damage to a person or person's property. Now that sounds clear, but how do you determine whether or not there is deliberate intent? That is something I would like the minister to speak about because if there is neglect – let's say that somebody neglects their part of the trail or the owner of the trail and they neglect it because they do not care. If that neglect is the cause of an accident to an individual on that part of the trail, does the neglect constitute deliberate intent of doing harm? This is something that I would like to get some sense of from the minister: What is the intent of the minister with regard to the act?

When you look at section 4.(3) of the act, it does say, "Notwithstanding subsection (2), the owner or occupier of land that forms a part of a trail owes a duty of care to persons using the trail not to create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or the person's property." Then when you come down to section 5.(b) it says that the minister may make regulations "establishing criteria and prescribing those subject areas with respect to which the minister may set standards that must be complied with for a trail to be designated under this Act." Can we interpret it to mean that if a trail has been designated and it has been designated according to the standards that have been set by the minister, that if the owner of a part of a trail neglects to keep that section up to standard, maybe puts an obstruction in place or does something that in actual fact causes an accident, will that be considered deliberate intent? I think we need to hear about that from the minister and I look forward to getting a response from him.

I also look forward to getting a response from him with regard to the monitoring for compliance. I think that is another extremely important issue. Is it going to be totally self-monitored or are there going to be some ways in which there are points at which the government agency can come in and make sure that people are continuing to keep the trail up to standard? I have a fear that if it is self-monitored only, that parts of the trail could fall into disrepair. The parts of a trail, for example, that somebody owns separately from a group that is maintaining a trail can cause a real headache for the group that is maintaining the trail, not to mention the people who are using it.

Those two points, Mr. Speaker, are the points that I would like the minister to bring some more information on to us here on the floor of the House.

Another point that I have made, and I want to repeat it, it would be good for him to bring an answer on this one as well. Because regulations do not come to the floor of the House - only the legislation comes to the floor - the House does not get to see the regulations until they are in place; the House does not get to have input into regulations.

I would like to have some assurance from the minister that in actual fact consultation is going to continue with regard to putting the regulations together, and that consultation will involve groups who have been recognized by government. I would imagine the Concourse Authority would be a major one. Where there is legislation covering the Concourse Authority - and especially because of Bill 12 that is coming up, that we are going to be talking to later on - the Concourse Authority would seem to be a very logical group to be one that government is consulting with.

In Bill 12 that is coming up, we are going to be recognizing their experience and their right to give consultation to others, so I would assume they are going to be a major body for the minister to be involved with, in putting the regulations together. I look forward to the minister responding to those three points that I have raised.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DINN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to get up and speak on this act. Seeing that the East Coast Trail and the Grand Concourse trails - two of probably the most famous, noteworthy trails in St. John's area - are in my district, or parts of them are, I think it is only appropriate that I get up and speak on this.

The primary purpose of this Pedestrian Trails Liability Protection Act is to ensure continued public access to designated hiking trails by guaranteeing liability protection to the Crown and to private land owners who allow hikers to walk across a portion of their property to access trails.

I remember, in the past, being at meetings when the East Coast Trail was formulating and setting up in the beginning, when some of the biggest problems that they had were dealing with private property issues near communities especially. The portions of the East Coast Trail that run through my district are mostly around Shoal Bay and Blackhead, and I do not think private property issues were that big a concern there; but, further up the shore, where the East Coast Trail developed their trail along communities, they did run into trails, and I can remember sitting at meetings with these people when they were at City Hall, trying to find and develop ways to get over those concerns. I think we have probably come to this point now where this act is probably the culmination of what has taken place in the past.

Access to the coastline and hundreds of miles of coastal hiking trails is important to us Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We want to be able to walk where we walked in the past, especially along our shorelines. The Crown Lands Act does not allow development fifteen metres from the ocean's high-water mark; however, when walking trails are developed along coastlines, you cannot always stick fifteen metres from the coast. I know if you walk down in Shoal Bay, where the East Coast Trail has their trail, you cannot expect to have that trail fifteen metres from the coastline; because, if you stay on the old trail, which was along the shoreline, there will be places, if you kept walking, you would end up in a gulch. So they had to move the trail, in many places, to get it in away from the coastline. Where they did that, they did not run into problems with private property, because there were no private property issues down there.

Here is a key point in bringing this act in: A lack of liability protection for private land owners has been hindering the further development of the Province's trail systems, as organizations were reluctant to construct more trails, and in some instances reluctant to fully promote them, given there were access issues in some areas.

I think this is a good starting point for us to get our trail development back on the go again, because, with liability issues being at the forefront, I think a lot of these associations, a lot of these trail development groups, are kind of concerned about what might happen.

The Pedestrian Trails Liability Protection Act will be beneficial to private property owners who permit their property to be used to access provincial trails, by limiting their liability. It will also encourage trail development in areas where trails pass over private property. Like I said before, this is something that is common, I guess, and happened very often in areas where the trails were near communities. It is worth noting that the governments of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have passed similar generic trail legislation in recent years that provides this liability protection.

This act will allow trail associations, under our encouragement, to get insurance - I think, myself - at a cheaper rate. Right now, with this act protecting them, I think these trail associations will be able to go and have liability protection at a lower cost, I would assume.

I want to speak about the East Coast Trail for awhile. Everybody is familiar with the East Coast Trail. As was mentioned by several speakers already, Mr. Speaker, many visitors come to Newfoundland and Labrador, especially the East Coast, to get on the East Coast Trail. I have run across many of those people in the past. I have met people from Germany, from Ireland, England and the United States, all over the place, people I probably ran across when I was down in Shoal Bay or I was up the shore hunting somewhere, and you run across them. They would stop and speak to you, and ask you a few questions; you would make a few comments.

People came here. Just imagine the economic boom that is. You go up in parts of the Southern Shore; there are bed and breakfasts that cater to these people mainly. I mean, that is their main business. I remember listening to Open Line one morning and we had visitors from Sweden, some place, talking about how grand the East Coast Trail was.

The East Coast Trail, as I said before, runs through part of my district. It runs through Shoal Bay. I do not know how many people here, Mr. Speaker, are aware of where Shoal Bay is. Shoal Bay is a place, a community – it used to be a community – it is a place that is about five miles from the Goulds. The Goulds is an inland farming community. Years ago, in the late 1800s and the early 1900s, people from the Goulds farmed, fished, they would work in the woods, and every spring and summer many of them went to Shoal Bay to carry out their fishing activities. They needed fish for the winter, they needed fish to sell, so they went to Shoal Bay and that is where they set up their stages and their little shanties for the summer.

Shoal Bay has an affinity to the Goulds; it has an historical affinity to the Goulds because of that reason. Shoal Bay, along with being a part of the fishing community, was also the site of the first copper mine in Newfoundland. Shoal Bay was a copper mine before Tilt Cove came on the scene. The ore that they found in Tilt Cove was of higher grade than what was in Shoal Bay, so what happened was the mine in Shoal Bay was abandoned. Actually, I have told many people who visited, many locals who are not aware of it, and many students I have taught in the past, that there was still a mine shaft down in Shoal Bay for that copper mine. Actually, I know where it is, I have told people where it is, and they have gone and seen it, I think, but you have to be careful going into it because it is not safe, I would assume.

Shoal Bay is also reported – I would not know how much fact this is, but apparently it was a landing for Peter Easton, the pirate, years ago. There are stories told that Peter Easton, when the British Navy was after him, landed in Shoal Bay, took a chest of gold and buried it there. There were even people in my lifetime that I know of, two gentlemen in particular, who went to Shoal Bay looking for that gold. Apparently one guy who lived in a nursing home or some kind of a boarding home is reported to have found that. They never saw him after, apparently he struck it rich. If that is true or not I do not know.

Anyway, Shoal Bay is a part of the East Coast Trail. The trail runs basically along the coastline where there used to be a path at all times that we used years ago for picking berries and that. Being Shoal Bay, it has all of this beautiful scenery that you can look at.

The East Coast Trail also incorporates part of Blackhead and Cape Spear, which is in the Speaker's district, and it used to be part of my Ward 5 when I was a St. John's city councillor. This area, I guess again, is made up mostly of Crown land. I cannot see this having too much private property down there, so I would not say the issue of liability onto private property is a big one here.

Anybody using the East Coast Trail is in for a scenic walk. We have all heard about the Spout. Anybody who has not walked the Spout or walked the East Coast Trail to see the Spout is in for a treat if they do so. Many locals, many people from this Province and outside this Province have come just to see the Spout itself. The Spout is located between Bay Bulls and Shoal Bay – or Petty Harbour, I guess, is the best destination to say. Anybody who walks the East Coast Trail can see that site, you can see the ocean, you see wildlife; no trouble to see all kinds of vegetation and plant life. Actually, in the fall and late summer anybody who walks that East Coast Trail can pick partridgeberries, cranberries, blueberries, and what you like to do. So it is a fine getaway.

Anybody who does a lot of walking – and I guess on the East Coast Trail the walk would not be the same as it would be on the Grand Concourse Trails. I know back five or seven years ago, I was doing a lot of walking before the partridge season started. So I said I must – I started walking the roads. I was walking twenty kilometres a day on the road in the Goulds; all flat.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty kilometres?

MR. DINN: Yes, it is only a joke.

Anyway, one evening I decided to go down around Shoal Bay and walk. I guess I was walking for an hour and you would say walking this terrain, you would say I never walked at all. I was beat to a snot, my legs were sore and everything else the next day. It was like I had just gotten out of a bed and went walking. Some people already mentioned this; this is the attraction that people from outside sometimes find. They want a rigorous walk and the East Coast Trail is certainly that.

Now to go back to the legislation, I see this legislation as a starting point. A point where we can do a reassessment of all the existing trails that there are, and there are many, many pathways and walkways and trails in this Province. If you are in the Goulds, you can leave the Goulds, jump on what we call the old railway track and go to Bay Bulls, go up the Southern Shore, but this area is not designated as a trail. There is no work being done on it. There are no bridges on the rivers and there is certainly no maintenance on the path that is there. Actually, it has grown in considerably, but the other two designated trails that we have, the East Coast Trail and the Grand Concourse Trails are certainly built well and maintained. I think when we take this act here and we do a reassessment of all the trails that are in the Province we will find that some of them, which are old and not constructed properly and after falling into disrepair, may have to be abandoned.

Anyway, I would ask all of my hon. colleagues to support this act and take it as a starting point, because that is what it is. It is an act for re-evaluation of what we already have. I think when that is done we will end up with a system that will be much better, much safer and if anyone gets hurt on these trails then the Crown or the individual who owns the property that they use to access or were on part of the trail they will not be liable for it.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Yes, I am speaking to the bill, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to speak to Bill 5; as you know, the minister and others who have already spoken today. Bill 5 talks about the liability protection portions of our trails in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I guess this is an issue of concern to a lot of people who use our trails. I just want to read the explanatory note that is in the bill, because it says: "This Bill would provide liability protection to the Crown and to owners or occupiers of land whose property forms a part of a trail that is designated under the Act. The minister would be given authority to make regulations to establish criteria and set out the subject areas for which the minister may set standards that shall be complied with before a trail can be designated under this Act."

Mr. Speaker, liability protection on trails is an issue and is especially an issue in a lot of the areas of the Province because many of our trails are owned and operated by non-profit groups and non-profit entities. Some of them even are operated by municipalities and oftentimes they do not have the ability to be able to purchase the proper insurances to guard against any liabilities that could be taken against them as a result of people using these particular trails. This bill actually provides liability protection to the government and it also provides liability protection to people whose property forms a part of a trail. A good example of that for people who live in the city and who walk the Signal Hill trail on a regular basis is that you are crossing over private property in order to access that trail or when you come off that trail. So as a result of that, Mr. Speaker, we can see why those protections were there.

I am not sure how the liabilities work for many of the privately owned or publicly owned trails by non-profit groups in the Province or by municipalities. Maybe the minister could explain that to us when he gets up to close his bill. Because if a lot of those non-profit groups out there who are building trails, looking after trails and operating them in the Province have to incur the liabilities that are associated with it, our question today to the government would be why not relieve those groups of their liabilities as well?

As others have already spoken to today, trails are one of the greatest assets that we have in our marketing campaign for the Province. We see that quite clearly by the number of people who today are becoming more active vacationers, people who want to vacation and not necessarily just to go and lie on a beach, Mr. Speaker, or spend a week on a cruise ship but, of course, they want to go where they have adventure, where they have history, where they have a lot of physical activity. That is what we are seeing. Those are the kinds of tourists that we are getting in Newfoundland and Labrador.

So, Mr. Speaker, the trail system is a very integral part of that entire tourism package. It is important that if non-profit groups and municipalities are still incurring these particular liabilities, I would have to ask at what cost this is happening. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, I should be able to answer my own question, because I know in my own district we have a lot of trails, and a lot of new trails that are being built, and they are being built in partnership with communities, with non-profit groups, with municipalities, and they are doing it with the access and investment of money, both provincially and federally, into a lot of these trails. I know just with the programs that we do each year under job creation, a lot of that money has gone to enhance trails in different communities and to be able to produce a product.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk about a few of those trails. I think where a number of them are new I do not even think a lot of them have been written about or even included in the guides for the Province at this stage. I know one, which is the French Shore Trail in L'Anse au Clair – because as you know, L'Anse au Clair is on the Labrador-Quebec border, and one of the most popular routes before there were roads and people were just travelling by boat then from the Quebec shore communities down to the Anglo-Saxon communities on the Labrador shore, they were doing it by boat. Of course, when they were not doing it by boat, Mr. Speaker, making that transportation connection, they were doing it by foot. They were walking what was right along the coastline. The coastline is basically a full beach that lies at the bottom of the mountains and the cliffs along that whole landscape that connects the borders of those two provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec.

So, Mr. Speaker, in the last couple of years, what they have done is they have redeveloped all of those walking trails along that French Shore, and now you can walk actually from L'Anse au Clair right down along the shoreline and into Blanc-Sablon on the Quebec side, and while you do so, you are not only walking the route of the many generations who used that for trade and for other purposes in their lives, but you are doing it learning about the history of these people. It is amazing that even on that shoreline, back a number of years ago, you would have had a lot of families living there because of the intermarriage as well between the Anglo-Saxon and the French cultures, that you would have had a lot of the people settling there and then, later in life, migrating into one community or the other. So as you walk that trail, Mr. Speaker, which is actually a relatively easy walk, it is not a difficult trail to walk at all, you will see all of the history boards and you will see all of the pictures that depict the original trails and the purposes for which they were used.

Mr. Speaker, we have some other new trails as well. Actually, an old trail that has been renewed is in the L'Anse-au-Loup area that goes from L'Anse-au-Loup down to what is called Schooner Cove. People who are familiar with L'Anse-au-Loup, some of the original settlers in that area actually settled in Schooner Cove and some of them keep cottages there today. I know the O'Dells is one family in particular who keeps a cottage there. Ms O'Dell and her family spend a lot of time there throughout the year. If you ever walk that trail from L'Anse-au-Loup going down to Schooner Cove, which is very beautiful, it goes all around the cliffs of the coastline and you are actually overlooking the entire Strait of Belle Isle as it extends into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and you see all the icebergs coming down with the Labrador Current. So it is actually quite the spectacular walk if you were to take it, Mr. Speaker, along that entire coastline.

I have walked it a few times. I have also done it by bike. I am not much of a biker, but I attempted to do it by bike and actually did it. I had a greater driver - actually, I had the Member of Parliament for Labrador with me that day and he was the driver and, I guess, I was the passenger as we went with a group and took that route that went down around there and actually went right into Point Amour which is where the lighthouse is. It is the tallest lighthouse, Mr. Speaker, in the eastern part of the country and a very prominent landmark in that region. In fact, although there are a number of great trails in this particular area, it is like every other tourism campaign that you will see in the Province, there is always one major icon that draws people to a particular area. Well, in this area, Mr. Speaker, one of those icons is the Point Amour Lighthouse and the ancestral burial ground of the Innu - the Innu gravesites that date back some 5,000 years which are also founded in that particular area.

Mr. Speaker, the lighthouse itself is one of the main attractions and icons in this region. In fact, the Point Amour Lighthouse is one of the only historic properties that government owns in Labrador – in all of Labrador. They own an interpretation centre - well, it is not really an interpretation centre; I suppose it is - of aboriginal cultures in North West River and they have a provincial park in Pinware.

The only historic property that the government does own in all of Labrador is the Point Amour Lighthouse. Last year, that lighthouse was closed down. The minister is well aware of this, the Minister of Tourism, and so is the Minister of Labrador Affairs because he was told when he held his consultations on the Labrador Strategic Plan in the district a few weeks ago, he was briefed on this issue as well.

Mr. Speaker, this lighthouse was closed down last year for a couple of reasons. There were some safety problems with the tower that was recognized and the tower part of the lighthouse is actually owned and operated by Canadian Coast Guard through, I guess, Transport Canada. The rest of the historic properties are actually owned by the provincial Department of Tourism.

So, Mr. Speaker, once the lighthouse was closed down, we saw a significant drop in the number of people who were visiting Point Amour because, for example, they could no longer climb to the top of what is the tallest lighthouse in Eastern Canada. They were not allowed inside to view it in any way because of those safety issues, so it became somewhat of an impediment. In fact, even for the people who work there as guides and the people who own businesses on the site, they themselves said that they saw a significant decline in the number of tourists and the number of people who were coming there. Of course, everybody understood that there was an issue with safety and that needed to be dealt with and it needed to be addressed.

As I understand the status of it today - and maybe when the stands he can give me an update because I know he is very aware of this situation, and I am sure he is very concerned about it. Mr. Speaker, as it is today, we are of the understanding that, although the repairs are being made to the tower parts of the lighthouse, Transport Canada no longer wants to assume ownership of that particular lighthouse along with several other lighthouses in the Province. They would like to turn over those lighthouses that are on Provincial Historic Sites to the provincial government. Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what all of the other lighthouses are that are included. I know of two, in particular, that are very prominent icons in the tourism industry in this Province, and the one in Point Amour is definitely one of them.

I understood, Mr. Speaker, that the paper was being dealt with by Cabinet and that it would have to be a Cabinet decision as to whether they took over those lighthouses or whether they did not. Our understanding right now is that we do not know if those towers are going to actually open or if they are not. So, maybe the minister can give us an update on exactly what is going on there.

Mr. Speaker, having said all of that, it is a very important site and attraction for tourism in the Province. I noticed that even in the government's advertising, they are advertising that you can do a tour of the actual lighthouse and go up in the tower. So, hopefully that ability will be there.

Mr. Speaker, to move on to some of the other attractions in the area; one of the newest trails that actually just opened only in the last few weeks has been the one in West St. Modeste. West St. Modeste is, again, one of the communities where the Basque originally operated from. The Spanish had quite a presence in this particular community. Many of the properties, the artifacts that have been found that are associated with the Basque, not only have been found in Red Bay but also in this particular community of West St. Modeste.

So, Mr. Speaker, this year they actually built some trails. They put in some history boards and they did all of this work through a couple of different projects; one with some money from ACOA, the other one with some money from the job creation initiative that was done by the provincial government. All of the money, or most of it was spent in that particular project. In one of them, Mr. Speaker, it is actually a hiking trail that goes right to the top of the mountains that sits as the background for the community. It is a great view from the top of the mountain but a great trek to get there, I can tell you that. There are a lot of steps and a lot of trails to getting there, but I have to say it is being used by a lot of people in that area.

In fact, it is only a few weeks ago that I happened to be in the community for some meetings. I was having breakfast this morning in a restaurant which is really – you can look from the restaurant and watch the entire trail and people using it. I watched vehicles pulling up. I saw a Grenfell vehicle pull up with the logos on the side and some nurse who was up there working as a locum, Mr. Speaker, getting out and doing the trail. Then I saw other vehicles pull up with some other people who were visiting the area, getting out and doing the trail. Then there were some local people - and this was all in the span of a short period of time - who were coming to do the trail. There are many people now who do it ritually as part of their exercise program because it is a very vigorous walk and it is very challenging in terms of getting to the top. So, that is one of the newest trails.

There are actually two trails in this community that were developed. The other one is along the waterfront, which was assigned the site of the first fish co-ops that was established in that particular area. The fish co-ops I guess that eventually became, as we know it today, the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company, but those co-ops got their origin, I guess, in a lot of these small communities and from a lot of these fish premises that had originally been owned by commercial operators that today are owned by the fisherpeople themselves through this actual company

Mr. Speaker, I cannot not mention the Red Bay site. Again, when you talk about icons in the tourism industry I guess Red Bay has been one of the longest and most well-known icons of the industry to attract tourists to that particular region. In fact, Mr. Speaker, Red Bay is really the home of the Basque when they first came and settled and worked on the Coast of Labrador. We have, over the years, really renewed our ties with the old country. We have had many of the people from the Basque communities who have visited our district and visited Red Bay, and we visiting over in their countries as well and learning about the different cultures.

Mr. Speaker, we have developed a tremendous amount of historic reference around the Basque in Labrador and their presence there. It really has become one of the most fascinating sites that you might want to visit in terms of early ancestry and occupancy, and innovative ideas of using the land and using the tools of the land to really make a living. The Basque did that so well. In fact, in Red Bay, not only do you have today the major interpretation centres – two, in fact, which have been built and have full interpretations of the Basque presence in Red Bay and in the Labrador region, and even has replicas of the boats that they would have used, called the chalupa. They have replicas of those, as well as some of the original chalupas that were taken off the bottom.

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of archaeologists and a number of archaeological divers who worked on this site. Dr. Selma Barkham was one of the ones who made the original find. Dr. Barkham, who worked in this Province for many years researching the presence of the Basque, not only here but in the old country as well, has done a lot of work as well in the Plum Point area on the Northern Peninsula and also in the Red Bay area in Labrador. It was really her work and her archaeology work that really has developed this particular site into what it is today. Of course, Parks Canada took an interest in this and is the operator of this particular site. In fact, the people of Red Bay, through their connections with Parks Canada and the resource there, have made application to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That application is actually being heard now, as far as I know, or being submitted now. I know they have been doing a great deal of work on it over the past year. So, that is the next step for this National Historic Site in the area that has really been one of the catalysts for drawing tourists into that region.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, the highest record number of tourist visits in my entire district is at the Red Bay site. Red Bay gets 8,000 or 10,000 visitors a year, most of the other sites within the region will only get about half that. So it is the key attraction, the main attraction by far to the particular area. It is amazing to see. In fact, if you were going to Red Bay today, you have the option as well, to take a boat tour to what is called Saddle Island. Saddle Island is an island just off the community of Red Bay. On that island is where you will find a lot of the burial grounds of the early Basque whalers as well, Mr. Speaker, as well as a lot of the huts that they re-established, a lot of the cooking platforms that they would have used, as well as the platforms that they would have used in carrying out their trade as whalers. It is very interesting to see how they worked, where they worked and the kind of things they had to use in their work which was really just stone tools in those days.

Mr. Speaker, from Red Bay you have the option to be a much more adventurous tourist and to make your way further north. From Red Bay to drive to the next community, you are looking at about seventy-eight kilometres over a gravel road, but it is an excellent drive. Then, you get up to the community of Lodge Bay which is a community that is actually built right on a salmon river. The St. Charles River comes right out through the entire community. This community has a tremendous amount of history as well because many of you will remember the memoirs and the diaries of George Cartwright; George Cartwright who became a renowned explorer in Labrador and in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, Cartwright was one of the first people to make settlement in the community of Lodge Bay. He had a ranger station which he set up there. Originally, the name of the community was called Ranger Lodge and then it became Lodge Bay. If any of you have ever read the diaries and the books of George Cartwright, you will see that his legacy in this Province really began in this particular community and extended north from there. Of course, this is where the community of Cartwright got their name, from the works and the exploring of George Cartwright himself.

Mr. Speaker, the community of Lodge Bay is now working on reconstructing some of the ranger facilities, which really would have been more like tilts, that would have been used in those days by George Cartwright, and also reconstructing the trails that he would have taken which would have taken you right down the Cape Charles River.

I have had an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to look at the plans that this community has to do this work. While it is in the early stages, it has been submitted for funding through the Department of Industry, I think it is, and also through ACOA. I would encourage the minister to look favourably upon that particular proposal because, again, it would be another trail adding another feature to the tourism industry in this Province. It is also preserving another part of our history. It is also preserving another chapter of history in this Province that very few people know about. So, I would encourage the minister to look favourably upon that proposal and to ensure that there is some monies made available to the people in Lodge Bay to do this work that they want to do.

Of course, next to Lodge Bay, Mr. Speaker, you have the community of Mary's Harbour, which is my hometown and, of course, one of the most fascinating places that you could ever want to visit. I see the Minister of Tourism over there having a chuckle because he knows I am right. He looks so forward this summer to coming to my district and exploring all of these wonderful sites that I have been talking about and, of course, to visit Mary's Harbour and Battle Harbour. We look forward to his visit, Mr. Speaker. As his predecessor can tell him, who is now the Minister of Transportation, when he was in that portfolio he certainly got many a warm welcome in the wonderful District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair where we take our tourism very seriously because we know that it is one of the industries that do work in rural areas of this Province and we know it is one of the industries that is working for our communities. We take the work that we do in this industry very, very seriously. We like to showcase it and having an opportunity to showcase it to a minister who is responsible in that department is always a privilege and an honour, Mr. Speaker, for the people who live there.

In the community of Mary's Harbour, as I said my hometown and, obviously, a community that is not without its history itself, but what will come as probably a surprise to a lot of people is that while we have some very old, very historic communities in the district, we have a lot of relatively new communities as well. The community that I live in was only settled about eighty years ago and it was settled from a lot of small communities that existed around that area – a lot of small fishing villages where over the course of a period of time, especially from the 1960s going back forty years, people started to migrate to one location. That is where people came. They came to settle, in this particular case, in the community of Mary's Harbour which is really built on the St. Mary's River, which is another great salmon fishing river I say. I have fished it many, many times. In the summer, Mr. Speaker, when I have the opportunity and I am at home, I like to get up early in the morning and go in and spend some time on the river and do some salmon fishing. A lot of the people who live there do that. It is also one of the greatest attractions for people who come to this community, to visit in this community.

Mr. Speaker, this history of Mary's Harbour really stems back to the Grenfell Mission because Mary's Harbour really became settled after the hospital was built in this community by the Grenfell Mission at that time and it was set up as one of the first hospitals outside of Battle Harbour, I guess, to be built on the coast at that particular time. It was from there that everyone else started to migrate towards the community. In this community today, not only do you have walking trails that will take you to the White Water Falls, which is actual falls that run out into the St. Mary's River, which is a beautiful waterfall. If you go there actually in the summer, during the salmon fishing season and you can watch the salmon jumping up the falls and trying to get up the river to spawn. It is absolutely an amazing sight to watch. I have captured it many times as an amateur photographer. So, there is a trail that actually takes you right into that falls and takes you as well by trail to some of the prime fishing spots on that particular river.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, there are trails that go to the original Grenfell properties. As I say, Mary's Harbour really became settled around the Grenfell Mission and around the logging industry - it was the main industry then. Years after some of the Grenfell properties were built, they were destroyed by fire. Those properties which were occupied then by some of the earlier doctors who would have travelled around the Northern parts of Newfoundland and Labrador as travelling doctors and worked in communities, worked amongst the fishing families and the trapping families of those days. One of those doctors was Dr. Moret. While you are in the community, you can also take a trail that goes right in through the back of the community to where the original Grenfell properties were. You can actually read the history boards, see the signage, and view what some of the structural design of those particular facilities were at that particular time.

Also, in this community, Mr. Speaker, there is another trail. In fact, there are three walking trails in this community and there is another one that is very close to my house, in fact, which takes you to a community called Gin Cove. It is a nice little hike. It goes actually all over the hills and comes down the back of an island into a tiny harbour settlement, and that tiny harbour settlement, Mr. Speaker, was once occupied by residents in that community. People actually lived in Gin Cove at one point. What was amazing is that there was one tiny little store there at that time that would have sold the necessities, I guess, that families would have needed, probably like flour and sugar and some salt pork and beef and things like this, but in addition to that, these individuals with children, they would have to walk their children to school. It was quite the walk to the schoolhouse when you would have to walk up and over all of these hills, down into the community of Mary's Harbour, and even when you got to the community you were still looking at about another three kilometre walk to get to where the school was. So, they had quite a trek in the mornings with their book bag to try to get to school, especially in the winter over frozen ground and snow. No one lives in Gin Cove any more; all of the people who lived there have resettled. A lot of them in the community of Mary's Harbour, but if you visit there you can take the trail and you can walk to where the original site was, and it is great exercise to do that. You will also be able to see the sign boards and read the history that is actually behind this particular trail.

So, Mr. Speaker, lots to see and do in Mary's Harbour, but one of the main features for this community is that it is the gateway to Battle Harbour. Battle Harbour is the second National Historic Site in my district. Battle Harbour, of course, as many of you know, has been home to me. I come from a fishing family and Battle Harbour was the main area of trade going back to the 1700s on this coastline. It was renowned for many reasons, Mr. Speaker. Battle Harbour today sits as a tiny village on an island in the North Atlantic. You can only access it by a tour boat that runs from Mary's Harbour to Battle Harbour and it takes about an hour I guess to get there in the tour boat. I know some members in this House have done that trip before. I know the Minister of Transportation has been there before and has truly enjoyed it.

When you get in Battle Harbour you have really walked back in time. It is one of those communities in our Province that once you step from the boat onto the wharf that you all of a sudden have the feeling that you have just gone back 150 years. You are in a different era and a different decade. You are surrounded by seventeenth century buildings and infrastructure, Mr. Speaker, and all of a sudden you have this great feeling of wanting to explore each and everything in this tiny village. It is a community that very few residents live there any more; some fishing families still go there to live. There are not too many villagers like there would have been many years ago. What you have are some tremendous individuals who work on this site, and they live on this site with their families during the summer. You have a real sense of village life and community life and what it was like. They know their history. Most of them are original residents of this community. What an opportunity, what a wonderful experience in Battle Harbour to actually be toured around the community by these individuals and to be explained the history and the lifestyle of the people who live there. To walk into many of these old buildings, to be able to stay in houses, Mr. Speaker, where you can actually still use the wood stove and the oil lamp at night, it is a fascinating experience.

Battle Harbour became very prominent in Newfoundland and Labrador history but very prominent in Labrador history, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was the original capital of Labrador. Battle Harbour was the original capital of Labrador before we were a part of Newfoundland, or whatever the case may be. In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, it was the centre of trade for the fishing industry. The merchant companies that operated there, they would buy fish from all over Labrador, all up and down the coastline from all of the Aboriginals and settlers and all the different fishing villages along the way. They were the main buyers and bargainers. Of course, back in those days it was all a barter system. When in Battle Harbour, you can learn how that barter system worked. You can actually see the original accounts of fishing families and how much fish they would have sold to the company this year and how much money they would have been paid. They did not get paid money. In fact, it was how much food they would get. They took up whatever their profit was from fishing with more fishing gear, and with flour and sugar and butter and all the necessities that they would need to feed their family for that winter. There was actually no money that ever exchanged hands back in that time.

Battle Harbour was just not the main centre of the fishery for the people who lived in Labrador, but for many who lived on the Island of Newfoundland. In fact, Mr. Speaker, in Conception Bay in particular, and also in the Twillingate-Fogo area in particular, you had a lot of transient fishery people. These people would come and they would anchor, and they would fish from the area, they would sell to the merchants, they would live on board their boats for months, and they would fish the Coast of Labrador. That was how they made their living. I guess that is why today there are such strong ties that still exist between this particular region of Labrador and the Conception Bay area because there were such strong ties that were built during the fishing industry days.

Mr. Speaker, Battle Harbour was also the site of the first Marconi station in the Province and it was also the site of where Peary sent word that he had reached the North Pole. If you all remember the expedition of Peary and the great skipper Bob Bartlett - who we celebrated last year in this Province, all over the Province. One of the voyages that Bob Bartlett went on was in search of the North Pole. There were a number of explorers who were making the attempt. At the time, one of those explorers happened to be an American who was in search of the North Pole and upon reaching the North Pole and documenting all of the information, he returned to Battle Harbour, which at that time had a Marconi operation, and that was where he sent word to all the media around the world that he had reached the North Pole. He did it, Mr. Speaker, from the third loft in the salt shed, which is still preserved today exactly as it was when Peary sat there over 100 years ago and had that conference call. There was media there from all over the world, but especially from Boston and New York at that particular time. They carried the story of the explorer who had reached the North Pole from a press conference in the loft of a salt shed in Battle Harbour.

This community, Mr. Speaker, this tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which is a monument today to the Labrador fishery, has a tremendous amount of history that not only affects the people in Labrador but affects all of us as a Province. It affects all of us as a Province because of some of the first works, the first pieces of innovation we seen happening right here in this community. In fact, Mr. Speaker, when Dr. Grenfell started out as a missionary working along the Coast of Labrador and Northern Newfoundland, those days he would sail by ship and he would travel the coastline and he would provide medical aid to the fishers and to the Aboriginal peoples who were settled along all of these little coves and harbours stretching the entire coastline. Dr. Grenfell recognized in his work as a missionary, as a travelling doctor to these particular communities by ship, that there was a need to have shore-based hospital facilities. In fact, the first hospital that he built was in Battle Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, that hospital was destroyed by fire, I think it was in 1936, but the house that Dr. Grenfell and his family lived in is still on the premises, and in fact, when you visit Battle Harbour, you can actually stay in Dr. Grenfell's house, if those are the accommodations that you choose to stay in. The house itself, at that time, because he was an English doctor who came to be a missionary in the northern region of our Province, and really was the person who started health care for northern people and for Aboriginal people at that time, when he built these first shore-based facilities in Labrador. Many people do not realize that the hospital at Battle Harbour was his first hospital, not the one actually at St. Anthony. Mr. Speaker, the house that he built was a prefabricated house that he had brought over from England. That house has now been completely restored, and this was the house where Dr. Grenfell and his family would have lived when he built the first hospital in Battle Harbour.

Mr. Speaker, just to continue on, because we are talking about trails in this bill and the liabilities of trails which, of course, is all interconnected to our tourism industry. Fundamentally, the tourism product is a combination of infrastructure and history and culture that makes this Province such a tourism icon, and why we stand out, in my mind, above anyone else in the country, in most cases, when it comes to being a place to visit, and having such innovating and such interesting sites and stories and cultures to share with people from all around the world.

Mr. Speaker, in other areas of my district as well, because if you go a little bit further, you will get into the community of St. Lewis, which is only about fifty-five kilometres from Mary's Harbour, again by gravel road to drive into those communities, Mr. Speaker. When you get there, St. Lewis is one of the communities that have really done a great job, in my opinion. I have to commend the people in this community because they had very little to work with, but they took the knowledge of their local people, they documented all their own history around the different premises in the community. They set up a historical society or historical committee of people who were interested in the research, and they went out and did it - actually, one of the historians in the community, Calvin Poole, has actually written a couple of books now on this particular community and some of the history around it as a result of all of this work.

They identified a couple of premises that need to be done, and one of them was the Loder Premises. The Loder Premises today was last owned, I guess, by Earle Freighting Services out of Carbonear. Earle Freighting actually sold it out, I think, to P. Janes Company in Hant's Harbour, and then they kind of turned it over to the community, of sorts, but the properties are restored. This particular premise is one of the oldest used and occupied premises for the fishery in this particular community. They did a great job at restoring it. From being able to walk into the old general store piece to looking at all of the history books and ledgers in the loft of the old buildings where they have established museums and so on at this stage is actually quite intriguing and a wonderful visit, and I would recommend it.

One of the best trails, in my opinion, to hike right now in the whole district, in terms of being a little bit difficult, a little bit challenging but very exciting and very safe is the one in St. Lewis. It goes to an old resettled community called Deep Water Creek. You get into St. Lewis and you have to drive right to the highest hill in the community, and at the top of that hill is where the American base used to be. The Americans had a presence in a number of bases along the Coast of Labrador that I represent. In fact, I have not mentioned any of them, this is the first one I have mentioned.

Where you get off is where the old American base used to be, and of course it does not operate any more, It is closed down, but you will see signage and history boards there that talk about the American presence in this community. From the top of this hill, you take some trails, some that are boardwalk, some that are gravel and you go across the roving hills and you go deep down into a valley at the water's edge. It is a creek; it is called Deep Water Creek. The people who live in St. Lewis today, a lot of the original settlers would have actually come from this community, this would have been where they settled. It is amazing, because it is just a small creek, but yet, you look at the pictures and how the houses were built all along this rocky shoreline. You see where all the stages and all the properties were, and it is amazing, in fact, to look at it, and you wonder how they could have ever built there or how they could have ever stayed there, but they certainly did. It is one of the ones that I would definitely recommend. It is one of the more beautiful trails that you could ever find to walk on.

Then, of course, there are many others, and I will talk about a few of them, because you get into Port Hope Simpson, for example, Mr. Speaker, which is a beautiful community within itself, which has a number of trails that you can take. In fact, this community even has really good ski trails that are good in the summer to walk as well, which are good trails to take and to walk. Right now in Port Hope Simpson, they are looking at doing an interpretation centre to interpret the Metis culture and the culture of all the communities along the South Coast region. It is a great idea; it is one that was recommended by the Metis Nation after they did a full tourism study of potential opportunities and tourist opportunities in that particular region.

I know that the proposal for that particular project has been submitted to government. Again, I would ask the minister to look favourably upon it because it is a good initiative. It will be a tremendous addition to the tourism industry, not just for the community of Port Hope Simpson, but for the entire region because it will actually be a full interpretation of the culture right along that south-eastern coastline of our Province.

Again, in Charlottetown – now, Charlottetown is an interesting community because it was only settled about fifty years ago, a little over fifty years ago. It was settled by a gentleman who originally came from Carbonear by the name of Ben W. Powell. People would be familiar with the Powell's business that exist in Conception Bay today, and that would be the same family. Mr. Speaker, he came there as a logger and as a trapper. The history in this community goes back only to him. Other people there settled later from all of the other communities. This is a fascinating community because the history of it was really about industry. It was all about industry. It was all about the logging industry and the trapping industry more so than the fishery. The fishery was done then on the outskirts of the community in all the smaller villages. Ironically, today, the only shrimp plant that exists in all of Labrador is in this community. So that is a little bit of a different spin.

Right now, in Charlottetown, there is a local group who have developed a proposal to put in a number of walking trails, because this is one of the communities that, when you go to visit, it is booming with activity; absolutely booming with activity. I think if there is one community in my district, Mr. Speaker, that has the most activity around any industry it would have to be in this community, by far. In fact, many of the people from the nearby community of Port Hope Simpson all work in Charlottetown and they commute there to work.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things in this community is that they do not have any of the tourism attraction facilities, and there are no trails in the community whatsoever. So what they did is they undertook a study to look at where some of the potential trails could be. As I said, Uncle Ben Powell was a trapper. He is also the author I think of fourteen or fifteen books right now, that he is an author of in this Province. His writings are all about his experiences in life. What these trails will do is they will basically provide an historic experience on a walking trail to some of those landmarks in that particular area. It is a really neat idea, it is a great proposal, and it is one that has been submitted to government as well for funding. So, that is three from my district that I know is on the table now between ACOA and the provincial government. So we will have to see where they go.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to talk about the community of Cartwright for a minute, because there are some beautiful trails that have been done in Cartwright. This is a community with a lot of potential, a lot of potential in the tourism industry. It has a fascinating history, but not only is it adjacent to the Eagle River, one of the greatest salmon rivers ever in the world today; renowned all over the world, the Eagle River. Not only is it adjacent to that, but it is also on the foothills of the Mealy Mountain Park, of which the government has announced but, Mr. Speaker, they have done nothing with to date. They carved out a big chunk of land in the Mealy Mountains for a provincial water park but nobody seems to know what that entails and where it is going, when it is going or what benefit it will be at the end of the day from an economic perspective to communities like Cartwright. These are things that maybe when the minister stands up he could provide me an explanation on the Mealy Mountain Park and what is happening, not only with the federal footprint area and what they are doing, but also with what the Province is doing with the provincial water park on the Mealy Mountain as well, which will take in part of the Eagle River from what I understand.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, Cartwright is adjacent to the Wonderstrand, which is one of the most amazing sites that you would want to see in your lifetime. I have never hiked the Wonderstrand like a lot of people did but I have been there. I have put foot on them, Mr. Speaker, and I have spent time there. I know of people last year - that I know very well - who spent several days hiking the entire Wonderstrand, which are basically long, sandy beaches that extend for miles.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, Cartwright got its name from George Cartwright. If you read the diaries on him, you will know that this community has a very historic significance in this particular region. Not only was it again the site of an American base, which later became a (inaudible) mourning site, but it was also the site of the Hudson's Bay Company where a lot of the trade was done. For trappers in that particular area, it was all done through the Hudson's Bay, when the Hudson's Bay Company was established there. It also had the boarding schools, where a lot of the people on the coast had to go away to boarding schools and so on. This is where a lot of them were educated. So, it has a tremendous amount of historical significance and it was also home to the salmon fishery. When we had a commercial salmon fishery going on in Labrador, Cartwright and Sandwich Bay was really the home to that particular fishery. They are looking at now a salmon interpretation centre in that community that will take in all of the historic rivers and the commercial salmon and trout industry and so on, and to really do some history around that.

One of the infrastructures that still exist in Cartwright today is all of the Fequet Premises. The Fequet Premises was established well over 100 years ago, and the Fequet family has really turned what was a general store and a place of trade and business for numbers of generations into a museum that now contains a lot of the artifacts from the community of Cartwright, where people have put it on loan and have put it in those particular facilities. When some of the family is available during the summer months, they do have it open and you can go and view some of these things.

Mr. Speaker, there is no shortage of trails in my particular district or tourism attractions, but we realize that this is an industry for us. It is those particular trails and those historic sites that I talked about today that really allow us to continue to provide business in the service sector and employ people in those communities, because without those trails and without those historic sites, without all of those salmon rivers and all of the reasons for people to come, we would not have the service industry that we have either in terms of gas bars, hotels and restaurants. The two are very much interconnected, and one depends upon the other.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, I am an avid hiker myself and I hike every opportunity that I get, especially when I get free time and on the weekends. My esteemed colleague from Burgeo & La Poile actually dragged me out on a snowy Saturday morning this week to hike Cape Spear. We were supposed to go as part of this hiking group, but I do not know, Mr. Speaker, if they did not go because of the weather or if they were gone ahead of us, but we did meet up with two other people. We had a grand hike to Blackhead, which is near the community, Blackhead community just down here in Cape Spear, but it was a tough climb to the top of the hill. Mr. Speaker, I had my hiking boots left in Labrador so I was wearing my sneakers, and I can tell you proper footwear is pretty important when you are going on a hike with snow on the ground, water running down the cliffs of the rocks. The sales went up in St. John's the next day because I got myself a new pair of hikers so that when I did the trail yesterday I had proper footwear on, and it worked out perfectly.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know, I did not ask where the liabilities were on either of those trails that I was on the weekend when I got an hours break to get out and get a bit of fresh air, but I am sure the minister will tell me where the liabilities lie on many of those trails, and the same thing with others around the Province because oftentimes we do not think about those things. When we go out for a hike we do not think about what the cost is to those who provide that luxury for us, because for many of these trails, they are done by non-profit groups and municipal towns who have very little revenue. They do good work in their communities. They are very innovative in designing, and instrumental in doing the proposals and gathering the money for many of these trails, and we do not often stop and think and realize: Do they also have big bills to pay in terms of liabilities, costs, insurances and things like that? I hope they do not, Mr. Speaker, but if they do, it would be unfortunate because I know that many of them do not have the revenues to be able to do that.

I think everybody knows how important they are. I am sure every member here enjoys getting out on those trails right across the Province. I know the Member for St. Mary's, I believe it is, said today that down in his district there are a lot of beautiful trails down there as well that have been developed by the community and by community groups and are available and open for the public and are promoted.

I am sure the minister while ensuring that there are no liabilities for the Province and for those whose property happens to be on hiking trails, the question remains are there liabilities for any of the other groups or any of the other organizations that might be affected.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have had the opportunity to speak to this bill today, and I am sure that we will get some explanations from the minister with regard to the issues that we have raised.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER (Kelly): If the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation speaks now, he will close the debate.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I know that the hon. member opposite that just spoke - I know at one time she was in the tourism business. I am not sure if she still is or not, but I hope she continues in it because she just addressed every trail on the South Coast of Labrador. I am delighted that she is going to be still promoting our trail systems hopefully long after her days in politics. Like I said, I am not sure if she is still in the tourism business, but certainly she has a good working knowledge of the trails in her district and that is good to see.

She is right about the tourism potential in her district. I have had the opportunity to visit the district with friends of mine and took part in some salmon fishing, walked on trails and so on, and enjoyed every minute of it. Yes, hoping to get there again this year.

She mentioned the Point Amour Lighthouse. Mr. Speaker, the Point Amour Lighthouse, one of the points that she mentioned was the ownership issue. I just wanted to let her know that negotiations are ongoing with DFO. We are hoping to have those straightened out soon actually, but we are working on them. As for the opening of the facility, we are hoping to have the facility open by its traditional date this year which is the May 22. If everything goes well, please God, it will be open on May 22, which is certainly good for the Province and good for her district and the local business.

She mentioned that it was down last year, and she was right. The visitations were down. I think the previous year they had 5,800 visitations and last year because of the renovations they were just over 5,000 – I think the number I saw was 5,022. It was typical safety issues, Mr. Speaker. It was not so much that the visitations were down, it was the revenue that was down because people, obviously, could not be expected to pay the full amount to go in to visit the site when you could not go up to the top of the lighthouse. Obviously, the main attraction was shut down for safety reasons. Mr. Speaker, that is one thing, obviously, that we are very cautious over.

Again, like I said, this year by May 22 we should be up and running full steam ahead and the ownership issues will be worked out in the coming days. You are right, it was down, but the revenue piece was down significantly. Like I said, that was because people did not want to pay the going the rate to visit the site.

I am looking forward to getting down and visiting it myself this summer, so I will certainly be calling ahead and letting you know when I am coming down. I am looking forward to the visit.

Mr. Speaker, there were a number of questions that were raised during debate. This is my second bill, actually. My critic, the member opposite, said that it was my first bill, but the first bill was a very generic one and we kind of chuckled at it at the time. So this to and fro on the bill is something I was looking forward to, and expected certainly. They would not be carrying out their role unless they pointed out what they believe to be challenges in the bill or things they needed changed or things they would like to see.

So as the hon. member was speaking, I certainly took some notes and I hope I got them all. I am not sure if I got all of the questions he asked, but when it goes to Committee, I certainly will have no problem answering questions on the bills; because he is right, you certainly want to know what you are passing in the House of Assembly.

So the first thing that we talked about was the liability of the trail and who has responsibility for a built trail. Well, this bill is about designated trails, but basically what he was referencing was a trail that some community organization built on some program, whether it was government funded or not, from A to B. Mr. Speaker, those that build the trail are responsible for it. There is a reason for that – I guess an obvious reason is that we have people now coming to the Province in droves really to enjoy our tourism product. So somebody has to be responsible for the upkeep of these trails. The significance of this piece of legislation is to have it designated and come together as a community and to give our trails the world-class recognition that it deserves. We are certainly gaining momentum in that area, Mr. Speaker.

So, Mr. Speaker, like I said, this legislation will remove the liability from the private landowner who allows, through a letter to the group, the ability to use the piece of their property as part of the trail system. Mr. Speaker, it also will remove the liability from the Crown. It will remove it from the Crown, it will remove it from the private individual who gives the land; however, unless you are a designated trail no liability is removed. So if you build a trail, you are certainly responsible for it.

Mr. Speaker, he mentioned too - there were a couple of points he made there. The other thing he mentioned he was walking on a bridge on the weekend and it was on Signal Hill, so I had my researchers go and do a quick check on that. That is part of the National Historic Sites, so bridge fourteen and fifteen would not fall under this. That would be part of a trail system on a national historic site and certainly would be the responsibility of the federal government and they would be liable, God forbid, anything was to happen.

Mr. Speaker, he mentioned regulations and there are regulations attached to every so many bills. Mr. Speaker, I addressed regulations slightly because they are very much in the draft form and the regulations I told him would be around ownership of the land, whether the land was insured, signage on the land, inspections and maintenance. So, that is the way regulations will be drafted around that. The Trail Development Information for Project Sponsors information sheet he mentioned as well, that will also, the regulations will be incorporated from the current piece of information that we give out through our department. For example, Crown land requires licence to occupy with the Crown Lands Administration division of the Department of Environment and Lands, so that registered with the ownership. The liability piece, "Your organization is liable for safety issues related to any trails you construct or enhance. So, it is written very clearly in the current information sheet that your organization is liable, Mr. Speaker.

Besides, many municipalities - and I know there are lots of local service districts and there are probably municipalities who do not, but the majority of municipalities who are out there building trails would have some form of liability insurance to cover this off. Mr. Speaker, it also says here in the Trail Development Information, which again I repeat is where the regulations will come from. It says, "We suggest that you consider any liability issues surrounding your project and consider whether your organization needs to arrange for suitable liability insurance." So, certainly the markers are there, and suggestions.

Again, you need environmental assessments. It says: A provincial environmental assessment for walking trails is required when the trail is within 200 metres of a salmon river - and I say rightly so, Mr. Speaker – and, as well, if it is more than ten kilometres long. Of course, on this information sheet the contact information is also provided for environmental assessment offices, Mr. Speaker.

Water Permit – A water permit is required from the Department of Environment and Conservation's Water Investigation Unit when construction is within 15 metres of a body of water. That is another regulation that will no doubt appear, added to the legislation.

Trail Standards - While no standards exist on a provincial level, groups are encouraged to engage the services of a consultant to have their trail assessed and a planned trail prepared.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that the Grand Concourse has done, where they have had, I guess, an edge and become such a leader in the Province, is that they have a regular maintenance schedule. They have a trail maintenance schedule and they use it on a regular basis, Mr. Speaker.

Some of the other trail considerations: directional signage; trailhead facilities; appropriate trail walking surface for the target market – meaning, if it is an easy walking trail like you see many of the Grand Concourse trails here in the city, they are properly covered with the proper foundations. If you were doing one of the more challenging trails, obviously, that type of material would not be needed - permission from land owner if private property; visitor information, another example; guide books, that sort of thing - we talked about the East Coast Trail just recently and, of course, they have provided that – and safety services and communications; signage showing the appropriate numbers and so on to call, God forbid, should an emergency happen.

Although he mentioned the regulations, and how they were not attached, we do have an idea of where we are going. Obviously, this piece of work has been out for quite some time and I list some other items which are very much connected to that.

The reality of it is, Mr. Speaker, that we have a number of pieces of legislation that go through this House of Assembly that do not have regulations attached. This is certainly not the first time; nor would it be the last. Just to give you some example, the Registry of Deeds legislation, Mr. Speaker, I think went through the last session without regulations; the Condominium Act was another piece of legislation that went through with regulations to follow. A piece of legislation that was also called in the House in the last day or two, Mr. Speaker, the Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act will also have regulations attached, but certainly are not developed to its full extent yet. However, the legislation comes first, Mr. Speaker, and that is the way bills are done in this House.

Mr. Speaker, I know the NDP referenced this, and I think the NDP, actually, when she spoke, certainly has a good grasp of this piece of legislation and where we are going with it. A couple of the points that she made, I wanted to address. One in particular - and I think my critic as well - is, unfortunately, and she mentioned it in her piece, in section 4.(3) of the legislation, and section 4.(3) says - as soon as I can find it - "Notwithstanding subsection (2)…", so I think I will read subsection (2) first. "An owner or occupier of land that forms a part of a trail, including the Crown, together with his or her agents, employees and servants, does not owe a duty of care to a person who is using the trail or that person's property whether that person is on the trail or not." - meaning that it takes the onus away from the person who owns the piece of land that they gave permission to, for the trail.

However, the next section says, "Notwithstanding subsection (2), the owner or occupier of land that forms a part of a trail owes a duty of care to persons using the trail not to create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or the person's property."

Unfortunately, there are people who would go and set some kind of trap or put something in the way to prevent people from using pieces of the trail. It is unfortunate that we have to deal with that sometimes. Like I said, the Leader of the NDP mentioned it, but it is important that we legislate that, Mr. Speaker, so someone does not get injured and then somebody else could hide behind the legislation saying they were not responsible. Certainly, we remove liability from someone's property; however, if the intent to do some damage or harm is there, then naturally they would certainly be responsible for it. That was section 4.(3) and I think both parties referenced that in their words, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, another section that was referenced was 5.(c) and I think some clarification was asked for by my critic on 5.(c) and I will read it. It says "describing a trail using the licence to occupy number assigned under the Lands Act by the minister appointed under the Executive Council Act to administer that Act, or by some other method."

Mr. Speaker, what that refers to is that when you develop a trail and you have to go and get a licence, a licence to occupy permit, under that permit it is numbered. Then, when you produce a trail for designation, that number will be attached to their application. That will just prove and show what piece of land will be designated as the trail. That it is all the reference is to. It is a little ambiguous, but that is the way the bill lays it out, so it is not very serious in its nature. It sounds more serious than it actually is.

Mr. Speaker, another thing that was referenced was: Would there be inspections, or who is going to look after the trail once it is designated? The answer to that is simple. Yes, there will be periodic inspections done. In all honesty, people who are designated trails will have to give assurances to government that they are going to follow through on their issues before they even become designated.

So, Mr. Speaker, there will be regulations that they will have to follow concerning a number of things, and of course maintenance being one of them. So, we will do regular inspections. However, we expect the people who have their trails designated to follow the rule of the regulations and respect the regulations because certainly as a Province, particularly the tourism piece, I mean we cannot do it without volunteers, without people keeping up their end of the deal on these designated trail systems. I know the first one that comes to mind is the East Coast Trail, which really has been leading the charge on this. I have every faith, Mr. Speaker, in the volunteers and the people of the East Coast Trail. They have done a remarkable job and I salute the efforts that they have made and I have no hesitation, none whatsoever, in realizing that these people will certainly comply by the regulations listed.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that was mentioned was portions of trails. It just lapses me now which section that was in. It was talking about portions of the trail system. Well, Mr. Speaker, the portions of the trail does not mean that a portion will have liability insurance and a portion does not. That was not the way it was referenced. What it means is that if you have a continuous trail and a portion of it is on private property, well, Mr. Speaker, that will be removed from liability and the landowner for that portion of the trails liability will be removed, as will the Crown on the other piece of the trail should the Crown own the land. So, portions in that section just means the various sections that could make up a trail.

Mr. Speaker, I responded to many of the points that the members opposite made, I may have missed one because I know I was out of the House but listening intently when the NDP Leader was speaking, but I know I did have to step out and did miss a couple of points. So, by all means, if there are another couple of points or couple of issues that you want addressed, please feel free, I would be more than glad to do it in committee.

Again, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Is it the pleasure of the House that Bill 5 be now read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails. (Bill 5)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 5 has now been read a second time.

When shall Bill 5 be referred to a Committee of the Whole House?

MS BURKE: Tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Tomorrow.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Provide Liability Protection On Portions Of Pedestrian Trails," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 5)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, before we put a motion to adjourn for the day, I would just like to remind hon. members that the Government Services Committee will review the Estimates of the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Volunteer and Non-Profit Sector at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, that this House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: It is properly moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow, being Tuesday.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m.