June 16, 2010                        HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                  Vol. XLVI  No. 39

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today the Chair welcomes the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland, the hon. the Member for the District of The Straits &White Bay North, the hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale, the hon. the Member for the District of Cape St. Francis.

The hon. the Member for the District of Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the hon. House today to recognize and congratulate Shawn Kavanagh of Calvert, a student at Memorial University. Shawn is currently in his fourth year of an honours degree in political science investigating the effect that public opinion polling has on public policy, with a minor in history. He has also started his honour's thesis in political science.

Shawn has been awarded the Leida Finlayson Memorial Scholarship. This fund was established by relatives and friends of the former general manager of the Newfoundland Historic Trust. The scholarship, valued at a portion of the accrued interest is awarded annually to Memorial University of Newfoundland undergraduate student beyond second year, studying political science and/or history.

Based on scholarship standing and financial need, the scholarship is awarded to a resident of Newfoundland and Labrador, a person who has maintained permanent residence in the Province for a minimum of twelve months immediately prior to entering the university. The scholarship is awarded by the senate committee on Undergraduate Scholarships and Financial Aid based on a recommendation from the Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure as MHA for Ferryland to congratulate Shawn on his award, as he is one of many young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are embracing the opportunities that exist in our post-secondary institutions and certainly beyond.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating Shawn on being awarded this prestigious scholarship and wish him all the success in his future endeavours.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate Mr. Selby Noseworthy, Principal of Canon Richards High School in Flower's Cove, who recently received the Coaching Service Award at the School Sport Newfoundland and Labrador Annual Awards Banquet held in St. John's on June 4.

Mr. Noseworthy has dedicated fourteen years to Canon Richards High School sports. He has spent a lot of his time with teams after school and on weekends to ensure that athletes reached their full potential. In the nomination prepared by vice-principal, Marsha Genge, she stated that Mr. Noseworthy understands that sport and team participation are essential to the holistic development of each student and he supports the journey of becoming a successful person, not only in high school but in life.

In addition to Mr. Noseworthy's award, Canon Richards High School achieved a gold level Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Star designation. This is given to a school that displays outstanding performance, participation and sportsmanship.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in congratulating both Mr. Noseworthy and Canon Richards High School on their achievement and wish them well in future endeavours.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POLLARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am extremely proud to rise in this hon. House today to recognize and salute a true hero.

Mr. Speaker, Beachside native, Warrant Officer Dale Verge, son of Doyle and the late Catherine Verge, received the Medal of Military Valour in Ottawa on November 13, 2009.

On March 30, 2008, while commanding a group of Canadian soldiers and Afghan Police members, Warrant Officer Dale Verge and his contingent faced a fierce attack on the Afghan Police substation.

Despite sustaining significant injury early in the battle, Warrant Officer Verge neutralized the insurgents and was successful in repelling the surprise attack and prevented the substation from being overtaken.

His hometown of Beachside, his family, his friends, and indeed the whole Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, along with the Nation of Canada, are very grateful and proud of Dale's heroic actions, thus saving lives.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all colleagues in this hon. House to join me, along with his first cousin, the Member for Lewisporte, in applauding Warrant Officer Dale Verge for his outstanding courage, tactical acumen and extraordinary bravery for which he was awarded the Medal of Military Valour.


Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is indeed an honour to stand in this House today to recognize an individual whom I have had the opportunity to play hockey with, and under, as he was head coach of the Flatrock Flyers. On May 28 of this year, in Montreal, Mr. Joe Maynard received the Order of Merit Atlantic Award from Hockey Canada. The last winner of this award from Newfoundland was the late Marv Ryder from Bonavista, in your district, in 2004.

The Hockey Canada Order of Merit Atlantic Award was established in 1960 to honour individuals whom for many years have served amateur hockey faithfully, participated as a player, and served as coaches and association members. This award is presented annually to recipients in three regions of the country: Western, Central and Atlantic.

Joe has been a member of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador's Board of Directors for six years. He has served both on the ice and off the ice. That includes playing with the Flatrock Flyers from 1967 to 1985, winning five league championships and four scoring titles. Joe captained the team for seventeen years, winning one MVP, and still holds the record for scoring the most goals in a season. He served as president of the Avalon East Hockey League for ten years, and treasurer for five.

Mr. Speaker, Joe volunteered and coached for the Pouch Cove and Area Minor Hockey for many years. There is no doubt, when it comes to hockey in my area and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Joe Maynard has played a huge part.

I ask all hon. members in this House to join with me in congratulating Mr. Joe Maynard on his outstanding achievements.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the wildlife resources of Newfoundland and Labrador belong to the people of our Province. It is a public trust that we in government hold, to wisely manage these resources in a sustainable and responsible manner. That is why we recently announced a number of initiatives pertaining to the management of moose populations in the Province. This includes an increase in the availability of moose licenses for provincially registered charities and non-profit organizations.

The program, introduced last year, Mr. Speaker, allows community-based groups access to big game meat and, in turn, they utilize the harvested meat to cook meals to support local fundraising events and other charitable activities. Approximately 300 applications were submitted in 2009 for the 150 available licenses. We received very positive feedback from organizations throughout Newfoundland and Labrador that were successful in receiving a licence. For the 2010-2011 season we have increased the number of licences in this program to 200. This will provide additional opportunities for the charitable groups that do tremendous work in our communities to access the harvested moose to support their endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, applications for these charitable moose licences are now being accepted. Organizations interested in applying for a licence in any one individual moose management area are required to submit an application to the wildlife division of the Department of Environment and Conservation by June 30. The applications are available at all provincial wildlife offices. To qualify for a licence, Mr. Speaker, charities and community groups must be incorporated as non-profit organizations and there is no cost associated with these licences.

If demand exceeds availability on a regional basis, a random draw will be held and the licences will be awarded until that regional allotment is exhausted. A licence will be issued directly to the non-profit organization which, in turn, can designate not more than two qualified big game hunters at any one time to hunt on its behalf. All regulations pertaining to the hunting and subsequent use and distribution of big game in the Province apply to this program.

Mr. Speaker, there are many valuable organizations throughout our Province that work diligently to fundraise for many worthwhile causes. I am very pleased that we have developed a program that will help facilitate the work of these groups, and I encourage their participation on this year's program.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for an advance copy of her statement and to say that, to begin with, I have to say it is a good news story for the registered charities and non-profit organizations here in our Province because they do a tremendous job and this is a means where they can raise funds to help their various charities.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say this just does not cut it. Only yesterday we had a bill that was passed, Bill 30, where we were talking about nuisance animals, and I have to say this animal has become one of the biggest nuisances in this Province. Last year, Mr. Speaker, there were over 800 vehicle and moose accidents and people are losing their lives. We have to say that, I almost think - the way the minister started her statement, she said, "It is a public trust that we in government hold, to wisely manage these resources in a sustainable and responsible manner." I say you are treating the moose almost like it is an endangered species - 800 accidents of people losing their lives.

I would say it is time for government - I know they have started some initiatives, it is time to listen to the people, the group Save Our People Action Committee, and bring in some initiatives that will really take care of the moose because here in this Province now, Mr. Speaker, our forests are almost becoming like farms there are so many moose travelling through them.

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 her statement.

I guess I am going to echo a lot of what was just said by the Member for Port de Grave. I do think that having the program whereby harvesting can be done to help the charities is a great program. I wonder why the minister did not up the number to match the number of licences that she had last year - I mean applications. Last year, there were 300 applications and the numbers just went up to 200, so why not up it to the demand that was there?

We do have a moose population problem. The reality is that part of it is because of development going further out into uninhabited areas where moose have been happy to roam, but another large part of it though is that population itself is growing. We do have to take bigger steps to control the moose population in the Province. If we are doing this program for the charities as a way of getting at the moose population, it is not going to go very far. If we are doing to help the charities that is good, then I say help more of the charities.

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.

Early Childhood Educators, or ECEs, provide an invaluable service to the children of our Province. There is a severe shortage of Early Childhood Educators and daycare centres say it has reached a crisis level. The early learning child care supplement was set up by government to provide monetary support to Early Childhood Educators and an incentive for upgrading and retention.

I ask the minister today, Mr. Speaker: Why is government demanding that these half-dozen barriers that have been identified by daycare operators remain in place given the severe shortage of Early Childhood Educators today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with the association that represents the owners of the various child care facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador. We certainly spoke about the initiative and the incentive that was set up by government to provide increases, I guess, to the wages, or the wage base, that are paid to people who are Early Childhood Educators in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the wages that they earn while working at the centre, there is an incentive as well, based on whether or not they hit a certain level of certification, that we actually increase their wages by $6,000 a year.

When I met with the operators, they certainly felt that it was a move in the right direction to be able to supplement the income of the Early Childhood Educators, but they felt that the supplement should go to the child care centres as opposed to the workers and that they would then pay the workers the supplement.

We certainly took their recommendations and the issues they brought forward seriously. We are looking at the recommendations and the impacts that may have if we change the policy. It is not something we have rejected at this point.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Some of the daycare centre owners, because there is a shortage today of Early Childhood Educators, what they are saying is that there are barriers, at least a half a dozen different barriers that impact these Early Childhood Educators from obtaining the supplement.

I ask you minister: If you have met with them, you must know what those barriers are, and are you prepared to address them?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader and Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying, yes, we have met with them. That is how we pay out the supplement. That would be the maximum, based on certain levels, and there is more to the policy than just that.

We did listen, we did take their issues seriously, we will go back and look at it and see if there is a way that we can improve the system so that there is less impact overall, but yet the workers still get the supplement that government created in order to support them. What we feel is important is that we need to support this area, which we do through this supplement, and that if there is a better way to distribute the supplement, we are certainly interested in doing that.

We have not got the full analysis done from our meeting, but we did take all the recommendations, we will look at it, and as long as we are satisfied that the supplement is being paid to the worker who deserves it, who we set it up for, that we will certainly make sure we streamline our processes so that we work co-operatively, with not just the workers, but certainly the owners as well, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lots of detail, but the minister did not answer the question.

Again, Mr. Speaker, if she met with them, she also knows that this particular supplement is not off-setting the disincentives to attracting people to be Early Childhood Educators, to having them remain in the field, or to upgrade. In fact, Minister, they have told us that this supplement has become an established part of the income of child care staff.

So I ask the minister: Does your government have plans to enhance the supplement to help with the recruitment and the retention of a qualified workforce for our Early Childhood Education centres?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, we do provide up to $6,000, which whether they see it as a supplement, or I do not how else you would see it, but it is certainly more money to their income, based on the wages that are paid, in order to help retain people in that system. So we certainly support the workers and provide a supplement in addition to their wages. So that is an incentive, there is no doubt about it.

The operators would like to see it dispersed in a different manner, and we will look at that, and we may actually do that once we get our analysis done. Bottom line is, we certainly have contributed to the wages of the Early Childhood Educators in the Province, and we will continue to do so.

The other thing that we have also done to help people move into this field of work, and certainly we did this in conjunction with the Department of Education through the College of the North Atlantic, is that we have offered the Early Childhood Education program online so people who are in the field are able to upgrade their level of certification. As they do that, certainly they get more of the supplement that we pay to them. It also allows people who are not living in the major centres to be able to go in and do courses in this area as well. So that has certainly been able to help (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, it comes back to the issue that many of these cannot access the supplement because of the barriers that are there. We know today, Mr. Speaker, from the June 2009 report, that over 50 per cent of the daycare centres said they had difficulty recruiting staff and what was more alarming is that 80 per cent said they had difficulty in recruiting qualified staff. Mr. Speaker, daycare centres today are closing spaces within their licensed centres because they do not have enough qualified staff. Meanwhile, there are wait-lists everywhere for child care services.

I ask the minister: What is government doing to address that growing problem, because surely she is aware of it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader and Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: As I have said, Mr. Speaker, we have expanded the opportunities for people to upgrade their skills so that they are able to avail of the supplement. The supplement is based on their skill level, with the highest being the $6,000. We have certainly made that more accessible to the people who work in the field.

Mr. Speaker, we also have initiated a capacity initiative within the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, which started under Health and Community Services, where we work in areas where there will not be a child care centre operating for profit based on the numbers or based on the dynamics of the community. Therefore, under this initiative we have been successful in being able to establish hundreds of new spaces for children in communities where otherwise there would be no child care centre. That initiative is continuing, Mr. Speaker, and we anticipate, as it rolls out, there should also be probably hundreds of more spaces in communities that otherwise would not have child care centres.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the minister brought up the training programs for early childhood educators because we know that these programs are offered at the College of the North Atlantic as well as at private institutions. However, Mr. Speaker, students who have tried to transfer credits from private institutions to the College of the North Atlantic were not allowed to under the policy. Yet, the Department of Education accredits the programs in both private colleges as well as the College of the North Atlantic.

I ask the minister today, once the Department of Education accredits all of these Early Childhood Education courses for colleges in the Province: Why is it that the public college is denying the transfer of credits from private colleges?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question, and I say to the member opposite, I will endeavour to get the information. I am not aware that that indeed has happened. We accredit programs and we try and facilitate the cross transfer of credits. We use prior learning assessment in the department to give credit for prior activities that were not formally completed in a post-secondary institution to ensure that we recognize the experiences and the credit that individuals have attained, not only in early childhood but in all occupations and all skilled areas, Mr. Speaker. So I am certainly not aware that that exists but I will certainly endeavour to get the information for the member opposite.

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 agreeing to do that.

Mr. Speaker, on June 14 representatives from the Geophysical Services Incorporated announced that they are cancelling their 2D Seismic Project off the Coast of Labrador. This project was to map 10,000 kilometres at a cost of $10 million. They had previously employed thirty-five people in the Province prior to cancelling the program. This action was taken in protest to the minister's announcement that government would be releasing free-of-charge proprietary data previously collected by this company.

I ask the minister, if she can explain to me the reason for this decision and if this is standard procedure in other oil exploration jurisdictions?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have legislation in this Province governing the release of seismic information. Mr. Speaker, seismic information that is gathered exclusively by companies can be held by those companies for five years. Speculative seismic, Mr Speaker, that is done in the offshore, can be held by the person or the company that does that work for ten years. Then both of those bodies, Mr. Speaker, have to make that information available to the public. Mr. Speaker, but now they are only required to do it in paper format. Mr. Speaker, this regulation was put in place a long time ago. We have all evolved technologically, greatly since then, and that has rendered a paper format almost useless. We are proposing a change from paper format to digital format, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we all know that the oil industry is a sector where information is critical to the success, knowing exactly where to drill and how deep means the difference sometimes between millions spent on a dry hole I guess, and billions in profits and royalties.

Mr. Speaker, I guess my question to the minister would be: Are there any legal consequences of the decision, and does our legislation currently permit government to distribute this in a digital form or are there legislative changes required?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: As I said, Mr. Speaker, in my former answer, companies are required to release this data, either after five years or ten years. The requirement now is, Mr. Speaker, that they release it in paper format. That does not work any more, Mr. Speaker, in this technological world. So what we have proposed to our co-regulator in the federal government and to the C-NLOPB is that we have a policy change that will now require the data to be released in digital format, Mr. Speaker. This is in keeping with jurisdictions such as Nova Scotia, for example, Mr. Speaker, and places like Norway.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is hard to overstate the value of seismic work to the local oil industry. The change to a productive project is very well established and seismic leads to exploration, which leads to oil and gas discovery, and as I said, leads to profitable projects. We know that oil companies, as well as other companies do perform their own seismic and that without this particular work to point out potentially new wells, exploration work could slow down.

I ask the minister: What would be the effect of this decision on the sales of land parcels for exploration off the Coast of Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we understand fully the importance of seismic work to the development of our offshore. That is why this policy change is being recommended and advanced by this government. Mr. Speaker, what this does is encourage exploration by making important information available after a reasonable length of time to others who might be considering activity in our offshore. It is designed to enhance exploration and development in our offshore, Mr. Speaker, not to delay it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the staff of the air ambulance program were advised a short time ago that they must move to Happy Valley-Goose Bay if they want to keep their jobs, and they have been provided with temporary housing assistance in Goose Bay for three months. This is hardly a sufficient time frame to undergo a major relocation such as they are involved in.

I ask the minister today: Have you taken into consideration the personal stress of this move that it is having on the employees, and are you willing to provide any additional assistance to help them with their move?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What we have done in relation to this move, as outlined by the member opposite, there has been a three-month period where there have been the following arrangements. Rent free accommodations during their scheduled shifts, and accommodations have been arranged through Labrador-Grenfell Health. There has been, Mr. Speaker, or there will be provided airfare to and from St. Anthony to Happy Valley-Goose Bay once their schedule rotations are complete. They will be given per diem allowances during scheduled rotations. The moving allowance, Mr. Speaker, will be in accordance with Treasury Board policy and all the staff, I understand, have been provided with a copy of this policy.

So what we have done here, Mr. Speaker, is consistent with what is done in other moves. They have been provided and they were told, I think, on the day that the move was – finally, the plane was actually being moved, what they would get, and that has been in their possession, I think, for at least a number of weeks now, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is more than a move; it is a relocation of a complete service. So it is not like an employee applying for a position within government at another location. Giving the employees and their families a couple months to sell their houses and uproot their families and move their belongings to another region of the Province is somewhat unreasonable when it is kind of just given in a days notice so to speak. Spouses are being forced to resign from their jobs, look for new employment in Goose Bay, and the logistics of such a major move is far more difficult than the short period of time that has been allowed.

I ask the minister: Will you provide temporary transitional funding to these employees for up to a year to allow them to organize their affairs in a more compassionate manner?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, the Treasury Board policy is clear in relation to the relocation of people who relocate for jobs, whether it be from out-of-province or within the Province. I do not have a copy of the policy here with me, but I do know that these individuals have all been provided with a copy of the same. They will be entitled to the same benefits that other individuals who are subject to move will make, Mr. Speaker.

I will note that there was never any discussion with me. There was no one ever approached me in terms of prior to this move. The air ambulance employees associated themselves quite, it appears, intentionally with the Mayor of St. Anthony. They lodged their protest.

I would suggest to the member opposite that the time to have come and discuss this with me was prior to the move having been made, and they did not do so. There were no attempts made, Mr. Speaker. Everyone continued to protest. Unfortunately, the Mayor of St. Anthony and the member opposite, none of them came to me and said: Is there anything else we can do?

So the Treasury Board policy applies, Mr. Speaker, and they are entitled to what other employees are entitled to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, I continue to get the same sympathetic ear and the same spin continues to happen on this whole issue.

I would suggest that normally they would have someone at their administrative level, or at least at their board level to intervene for them. I am not sure if that has happened or not, but these people are being forced to move. It is a forced move. It is not one that they want to do. It is not that they have applied to do. They are being forced to move and sell their homes while market conditions have weakened in St. Anthony just simply because of this move. The employees fear that they will have trouble selling their houses for be forced to take significant losses in their life investment. In addition, housing in Goose Bay is currently at a premium and the same house in that region will cost significantly more.

Mr. Speaker, government has purchased houses in the past for health care professionals in various regions of the Province, and I ask the minister: Would government be willing to purchase the employees houses in St. Anthony at appraisal value so the air ambulance staff are not impacted financially by the government's decision?

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

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, as I indicated the Treasury Board policy outlines what we will and will not do in these circumstances. It is important that these matters apply to individuals throughout government. They have been provided with a copy of the policy.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I reiterate, as opposed to the protesting and everything else that was done, if the member opposite or the Mayor of St. Anthony or someone else had come, sat down and had a sensible conversation with us and tried to reason their way through this, we would have certainly been in an opportunity to have discussions with them and to listen to them. All we got, Mr. Speaker, from them was the protesting of the air ambulance. They did not attempt to work with us and now that the move is made they coming saying: Now, will you help us out?

Mr. Speaker, the message to the Mayor of St. Anthony, the message to the member opposite is perhaps they should have thought about these employees when all of this was going on and not coming now after it is all over, when the Treasury Board policy is there, it does apply, that is what they are entitled to.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the minister that I did think about the employees, as I am sure did the mayor. I would wonder how much he thought about the employees in this whole transition. Just for the record, these employees did meet with the health boards to discuss this on several occasions for sure.

Again, given the uniqueness of the move, given that it is a forced move, given that it is something that is a total relocation of a service I ask the minister again: Would this government be willing to consider greater financial support because of the difference in housing they are leaving and the housing they are going to?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, people within government move all the time. People move from one area of the Province to another. People move back from outside of the Province into this Province. It is important that we have a consistent policy that is applied to everyone equally.

The Treasury Board policy, Mr. Speaker, is very fair and generous. We are providing rent-free accommodations during their scheduled shifts right now. We are providing airfare to and from St. Anthony. We are providing them with per diem allowances. What we are doing, Mr. Speaker, we are providing them with the benefits that other members of the public service get when they are moving from one place to another, and that is what they are entitled to, and Mr. Speaker, that is what they will get.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

During the Estimates Committee meetings in March 2008, one issue which came under discussion was the matter of ATVs which have a factory installed two-up seat. While the regulations prohibited two persons on an ATV, this seat is designed by the ATV manufacturers to carry a second passenger.

The minister stated that he was aware of the issue, and that after he became minister, he asked for a review of the policy around the use of ATVs and the two-up seats. I ask the minister: What is the status of that policy review?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

I am certainly aware of the issue and concerned about the issue, but it is a challenge in regard to coming up with a solution actually to the issue. The two-up seat is actually not a passenger seat; it is actually classified by the manufacturer as comfort seat. In regard to the comfort seat, then in there lies liabilities in regard to the classification of the seat itself. It is actually meant as a comfort seat to the driver.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, I am quite aware of the actual issue. We are working with the industry, we are working with the manufacturers, we are working with our officials, and hopefully we will come up with a solution that is best for all and does not entail any liabilities to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, nor to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, I was hoping the comfort seat was so that I could take someone with me.

Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that this matter has been brought to the attention of the minister. During Estimates Committee meetings in May of 2009, the minister was asked about the status of this policy review, and he stated then that he was exploring the issues with the Department of Justice.

I ask the minister: Has the Department of Justice dealt with the issue of liability to his satisfaction, and will dirt bikes come in under the same review process?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the one thing I can say to the hon. member, I will not be getting on an ATV to give him any comfort. I will not be taking any rides tomorrow.


MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, yes we did consult with Justice, and there is a challenge in regard to the classification of the seat. If we classify it and allow, under legislation, people to ride on that seat, legally-wise, we entail liabilities concerning that particular seat.

We have been working with the manufacturers in regard to that seat to see if we can get it reclassified, and the specifications to that seat would be classified in that it can carry a passenger. We are working through it. It is taking a long time. It is a process, and I know it was back in 2009 when the hon. member asked me the questions in Estimates, but sometimes the solution takes a long time. I wanted to assure the hon. member that we were well aware of it, I am well aware of it as a minister. I have an ATV myself and certainly I would like to find a solution (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for the District of Port de Grave.

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, in the same Estimates Committee meetings in May 2009, the minister stated that he expected the public consultations were to commence shortly.

I ask the minister: What is the status of those public consultations and when can the public expect to have their say?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, I still intend to have the consultation process when the time is right to have the consultation process commence, but until I can get the issue resolved in regard to the manufacturer, I do not see any reason to have a consultation process to the public when I cannot come with a solution to – legally, a solution to the problem. So until I work out that solution or get some resolution to the solution in regard to the manufacturer, then I will consider doing the consultation process.

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.

Mr. Speaker, the residents of Virginia Park, which is in my district, were very upset yesterday when they learned, after years of waiting for a replacement for their building, that the Eastern School Board may be making a decision tonight to move the school totally outside their community.

Mr. Speaker, in this year's Budget government promised funding to support their commitment to build a new school to replace Virginia Park Elementary, supposedly to replace the school at its current location. Mr. Speaker, the Eastern School Board is entertaining an option for the new school that is not the choice of the parents. They have evidently refused to listen to them.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Education: Was he aware of this about-face by the Eastern School Board District?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of an about-face by the Eastern School District. As a matter of fact, I am not even aware that a decision was made to submit a location for the new school to government. What I am aware of is that there is a proposed or planned board meeting occurring tonight.

I will say to the member opposite, that what this government did commit to was a new school. What we did not commit to was the location of the school. The member opposite would know, because I have talked to her about this, that there is a process in place for determining a site for a new school. The school board has followed that process. They have sought available properties in the area, in the neighbourhood, in the zone of the school. They have consulted with the parents and the school council. The normal process is that the board will then submit a list of recommended sites with a preferred site to government and at that time we will take that under consideration and make a decision and the process will move forward.

Mr. Speaker, there has been no decision made that I am aware of, unless it was made before the meeting that is scheduled for tonight, Wednesday night.

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.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister must be aware, and if he is not I am telling him now, that yes, the school board did come up with four sites, which was a surprise to the council when they got it because they thought the sites they were looking at were sites that were in a report that came prior to this being presented to them. They went through a process, they made their choices and the choice that they made was to ask the school board to have the school maintained somewhere in the original site of the current school. They were told yesterday by a member of the school board that - and I do not know if it was dropped accidentally or what - the choice that is coming to the board tonight is the one thing that was rejected by the school council.

I would like to know what the minister has to say to that?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I actually have quite a lot to say about that. The first thing I have to say about that is, it is why we have school boards in this Province. There is a trustee represented, elected to represent the zone in question that the member is talking about, and the people of Virginia Park and area elected that person to represent them and their views at the board table. That is democracy, Mr. Speaker. That is how it operates.

I will also say to the member that I find it extremely disappointing today that the member opposite, after weeks upon end coming at this side of the House and the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources about environmental issues, today, would be arguing that government build a new school on a site that has identified contaminants and environmental risk associated with it. Because, to use the member's own language, Mr. Speaker, she ought to be aware if she is advocating for that area - she ought to be aware that a study has been done that indicates to us that there are environmental issues associated with that site. Now I am not aware of what the recommendation is going to be from the school board but I can tell you, it will be a long time before I bring a recommendation forward with my support that says we will build a new school for children…

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.

I am well aware. I have worked closely with the school council. I am totally aware of the issues. I am also aware of the fact, Mr. Speaker, that the contamination is not something that cannot be remediated, it can be. So instead, what this school board is considering is a school in a district - or far away from where they are, where there are no sidewalks on the road, where children - 95 per cent of the children in Virginia Park School currently can walk to school. It is a community school.

What is this minister going to do in making his voice heard about maintaining a school as a community school, Mr. Speaker?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Let me ask the member opposite to clarify a couple of points for me in my response, Mr. Speaker, if I may.

First of all, I would like to have clarification whether or not she is advocating that this government spend $8 million, $10 million, $12 million, $14 million to build a new school for children of her district on a contaminated site? That is the first thing I would like to know.

The second thing I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, if she cares to listen to me, is whether she condones this stereotypical language used by the chair of the school council who makes very, very strong assertions against what they term as the rich people, the rich people of that area, and whether she agrees that we should be discriminating based upon rich and poor? Because that is not what I hear in this House on a daily basis when that member opposite stands over there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to section 26.(5)(a) of the Financial Administration Act, I am tabling four Orders in Council relating to funding pre-commitments for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

Notices of Motion.

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.


Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: This being Private Members' Day and the regular business of the House up to Orders of the Day being concluded, the Chair now calls on the hon. the Member for the District of Topsail to present his private member's resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to begin this afternoon by reading into the record the private member's resolution which I first brought forward on Monday of this week. It is moved by myself and seconded by the hon. the Minister of Transportation and Works, the following private member's resolution:

WHEREAS archaeologist Bill Gilbert and his team from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation in 1995 discovered the original site of John Guy's 1610 Cuper's Cove Plantation and, since that time, more than 145,000 artifacts have been catalogued and important 17th century structures have been identified; and

WHEREAS Cupids, the oldest English settlement in what is now Canada, is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year; and

WHEREAS in November, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited our Province to launch the year-long Cupids 400 celebrations; and

WHEREAS the Provincial Government last June announced an additional $1.8 million to help fund the construction of the Cupids 400 Legacy Centre, bringing the Province's total commitment to the Cupids celebration and related infrastructure to over $3.8 million; and

WHEREAS this Legacy Centre will house more than 110,000 artifacts uncovered since the discovery of the original site, and will also include a history/genealogical resource centre, a multi-purpose hall and an archaeological lab where visitors will learn about the process of archaeology; and

WHEREAS events throughout the year, culminating in the week of August 17-22, will inject an estimated $15 million into the provincial economy while providing important and enduring tourism benefits to Cupids and the entire region;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly congratulates Cupids on this 400th anniversary and invites the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and tourists from across Canada and around the world to join the people of Cupids in celebrating this important historic occasion, strengthening our tourism industry and providing lasting benefits to many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the process.

Well, Mr. Speaker, as mentioned in the resolution, Cupids was first founded in 1610 and is known as the birthplace of English Canada. It is the first English colony established in what is today our country, Canada. This year, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are marking its 400th anniversary, a significant milestone that we are using as an opportunity to celebrate our culture and heritage, and to encourage visitors to come to Newfoundland and Labrador and join in the celebration with us.

Cupids, initially known as Cuper's Cove – pronounced Cooper's and quite often spelled Cuper's – was established in 1610 and for a time was home to John Guy and a small group of colonists. Now, John Guy was a brave merchant in his time, from Bristol, England, and is widely regarded as the father of Cupids. Following a successful scouting mission in 1608, Guy told stories of a land that was previously untouched and notably rugged and challenging.

Mr. Speaker, Guy again set off across the Atlantic in 1610, accompanied by the group of thirty-nine men. Their goal was to secure and make safe the trade of fishing, and their location of choice for this settlement was the unassuming coastal pocket of Cuper's Cove. These daring pioneers faced a rugged landscape and an unpredictable environment – an unpredictable environment that is very well known to us. Guy returned to England in 1613, but the importance of John Guy's colony and the remarkable legacy it left behind cannot be overstated.

Mr. Speaker, the plantation site was occupied for several decades, I believe to be about fifty years, and a core group of settlers remained in Conception Bay, in Cuper's Cove, and became the ancestors of many Newfoundlanders today.

Mr. Speaker, this 400th anniversary of Cupids is an event of provincial, national and international significance. While it is important that we mark the occasion with a major celebration, it is equally important that we use this opportunity to continue to build a legacy for the people of Cupids, this region, and the entire Province. The events around the 2010 celebrations in Cupids are projected to inject $15 million into the provincial economy, and while that amount is impressive its long-term benefits from this project are equally exciting.

As we move closer to the culmination of the formal Cupids 400 activities which are scheduled to take place August 17-22 this year, the eyes of Canada and the world will be on us. Mr. Speaker, this summer's celebrations include performances of seventeenth century English music, theatre and dance, historic re-enactments, guided tours, family-themed activities, community meals, family reunions and evening soirees, just to name a few.

Mr. Speaker, the Cupids 400 organizers have published and are distributing an official celebration program. It is a beautiful, colourful and informative production that outlines many facts and activities involving the celebrations. It contains dozens of photographs and graphics depicting life in Newfoundland and Labrador today and from the years gone by.

There is no doubt about it, Mr. Speaker, Cupids, the District of Harbour Main, the surrounding area, will be the place to be this summer. We expect, Mr. Speaker, that Cupids will play host to thousands of provincial, national and international visitors this year, and as well for visitors to visit us in years to come. There is no doubt that the residents of Cupids and area will enjoy the lasting benefits of these exciting celebrations.

Mr. Speaker, co-ordinating this year-long itinerary of hundreds of events was certainly no small task. It required the work and commitment of a large and exceptionally dedicated team. I take this opportunity today to acknowledge the Cupids 400 organizing committee and the work that they have done to make this celebration an event to remember for many years to come. Much of that work has been done by dedicated volunteers such as the Cupids 400 Chair Mr. Roy Dawe, and Vice-Chair Lloyd Kane, and we thank them for their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes the true significance of this historic site and, as a result, has invested heavily in Cupids. The provincial government has provided $3.5 million toward the construction of the Cupids Legacy Centre, which will serve as a tangible long-term benefit to these celebrations. Investment in Cupids is an investment in the economic future of surrounding areas as well, and an investment in our people. I think that speaks to our understanding that is not just a one-shot deal for us. It is not just a party. It is a golden opportunity to capitalize on a major milestone in our history, a golden opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to capitalize on our history, and to use it to build a better awareness of our history and our culture, as well as a brighter economic future. This facility, this legacy project, will be an anchor attraction in this region, and the opportunities to benefit from the increase in visitors are endless.

The foundation has been laid, Mr. Speaker, for a strong tourism future for Cupids and the surrounding areas. The Cupids Legacy Centre, which is now open to the public, showcases the significant contribution of the English to the development of Newfoundland and Labrador and to Canada. It tells the story of Canada's first English colony, and explains the provincial, national, and international significance of Cupids. We expect to see, this year, an influx of visitors during the summer, who will take the opportunity to visit the legacy centre, take the opportunity to tour the Cupids archaeological site, take in live theatre productions, participate in activities throughout the region, and visit other areas of this great Province.

Mr. Speaker, the Cupids Legacy Centre is a fantastic facility and, as noted, while it is now open to the public, it will be officially opened during a ceremony scheduled for August 17. Mr. Speaker, it will take place where visitors from this Province, the rest of Canada, and from around the world, will come to learn about the history of Cupids, the Baccalieu Trail Region, and the early presence of English settlers in the New World.

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the Cupids Legacy Centre will be the beginning of some very positive changes for Cupids; changes that will provide long-term benefits and increased economic opportunities for the community. It is built on the current site of the United Church Hall and former school, and includes exhibits on the John Guy colony, the history of Cupids, and the historic connections between Cupids and other communities in the Northeast Avalon region.

Mr. Speaker, it will also house an archaeological laboratory and house more than 130,000 artifacts uncovered since archaeologist Bill Gilbert discovered the John Guy plantation site in 1995. Among those artifacts is the oldest English coin ever found in Canada, along with ceramics, household goods, and so much more. The centre will also house a history/genealogical resource centre, and a multi-purpose hall.

The Cupids experience will allow visitors to explore the actual archaeological site and, through the use of interactive technology, will allow schools across the Province to visit Cupids via video Web casting – an opportunity for hundreds of children to enjoy the site from their own hometowns.

Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, this is a major project and we expect it to result in a major benefit on many levels. An investment in such historically relevant communities as Cupids not only helps to protect our heritage resources for future generations, it also presents opportunities to enhance our culture and tourism industries.

Cupids 400 is definitely a significant milestone in the history of our Province – one that we expect will boost tourism and generate future economic opportunities. This is a chance for us to showcase to the world the rich history, the heritage and the culture which exists in Cupids and throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I will close my comments at this time, and I am sure my colleagues on both sides of this hon. House would like to make some supportive remarks on this motion, as we congratulate Cupids on their 400th anniversary and invite everyone – everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador, everyone in Canada, and everyone throughout the world – to celebrate this historic occasion with us.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Kelly): The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

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

I want to say it is a pleasure to be able to take my place today and have a few words with regard to the private member's resolution that was put forward with regard to the 400 celebration in Cupids.

I was thinking about putting an amendment forward, but I do not think it would pass. I would love to have the site moved to the District of Port de Grave even though it is close, but I do not think they would go for it.

Mr. Speaker, all jokes aside, Cupids was a part of the Port de Grave district back a few years ago before they redistributed the boundaries for the provincial districts. I have to say that I was working with the member for that district at that time back in 1995 when the first artifact was found. The people there always knew that there was a site there, they handy about knew where the site was, but it was not until Mr. Bill Gilbert, a gentleman who was very persistent, he read all the documents that he could find in the various archives and he decided that he would start in this particular area.

I remember the tremendous work that he had to do, and the residents and the people on the committee, what they had to do, because it came to the point when they started to expand the site it came out on private property and so on. There were many issues that came forward to try to take over the full site. I have to say it was an issue that affected many residents in that particular area.

Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend, leading off, he mentioned about when John Guy came here and his first trip here was in 1608. One of the main issues that he stated when he returned again in 1610 with the thirty-five men, plus when he brought the livestock and the grain with him, and he made it very clear, he said that his main aim was to secure and make safe the trade of fishery in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, here we are, we are even still debating about the fishery some 400 years later. John Guy, I am sure everybody is aware of it, but he was very similar to us only he was 400 years earlier. He was the Mayor of Bristol, England. After that, when he returned, he became a Member of Parliament in England. He was truly a solid politician and hopefully got his grounds right in the community of Cupids, which they called at that time, Cuper's Cove.

Mr. Speaker, I guess when he came here at that time, and when he returned in 1610 that is when they came back - and in 1611 that is when he brought back the first females to Cuper's Cove. There was only just the thirty-nine of them here. From history, he had a very difficult time because he had the infamous Peter Easton, who was also in the Conception Bay area and Carbonear Island, and the story goes that he used to have to give livestock to Peter Easton so he would be able to keep his settlement intact and they would not attack them.

Mr. Speaker, also 100 years ago there was a tremendous celebration in Cupids, back in 1910, some 4,000 people came to that community to celebrate the 300th anniversary. We have to remember at that time the means of transportation, the means of communication were not the same as what they are today, but people came from all over this Province, they came from throughout Canada, and, yes, people even came from England to have the celebrations. This year, the people of Cupids, the tremendous people who have worked so hard at this, there are estimating, hopefully, that they will see upwards of 30,000 this year for the celebration. It is a tremendous impact not only on the community of Cupids but the full surrounding area, Mr. Speaker. Not only that, but for the full Province.

You cannot help but once you attend one of those celebrations - I remember travelling to the Northern Peninsula up to L'Anse aux Meadows when we celebrated the Vikings and as we saw the ship, or the boat that they had, the Islendingur, as it came into the harbour, you could only imagine what it was like back when they were celebrating 1,000 years. I think it was the 1,000 year anniversary. I am sure the people when they come to Cupids this year they will as well envision what it was like when John Guy made that first trip up through Conception Bay into that area.

Mr. Speaker, this is really a salute to the people and the organizations that made this celebration possible. This is their year to shine, Mr. Speaker, because I can assure you having been involved since 1995 knowing that this site was there and being a part of it in some small way, and I am sure the hon. Member for Harbour Main will be very proud this year to know what is happening in his district in the community of Cupids.

Mr. Speaker, as I said this is a year for the people to shine and I want to pay tribute to their fifteen members on their board of directors who put a tremendous amount of time into this. Their hon. patron is His Honour Mr. John Crosbie, the Lieutenant-Governor of this Province. Their hon. chair is Dr. Alton Smith, whom I am sure the Member for Harbour Main knows full well, and their chairperson, Mr. Roy Dawe, what a tremendous amount of work Roy and the people of that community have put into it.

They also have an advisory committee which consists of eight organizations and just to name a few of them: the involvement of Canadian Heritage; the Tourism, Culture and Recreation here in our Province; ACOA; Parks Canada; Industry, Trade and Rural Development; and the list goes on.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, and I know my hon. colleague mentioned the funding that the Province put in, but since 1995 the federal government as well has put a tremendous amount of money. I can remember when that first artifact was found, the next year, a lot of people did not pay much attention to it, but Mr. Bill Gilbert, he wanted more funding, another small grant to continue so that he and others could continue on because he knew that he had found something that was not only going to be a great benefit to the people of Cupids but also to all of Conception Bay and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, if I am not mistaken, the federal government has put in approximately $5 million over the last few years to go along with the money that the Province has put in because this is a tremendous undertaking, a tremendous project. This year, and probably last year as well, they also have a staff of nine people who are very involved to make sure that everything goes the right way.

Mr. Speaker, I know I am not allowed to use a prop, but this is the booklet that they have designed for this year. It is a forty or fifty page booklet outlining the history, outlining the past, outlining all the events.

AN HON. MEMBER: Show me the prop.

MR. BUTLER: I will show it again, yes, Sir.

One of the main things that came out of this, we finally got the Prime Minister and the Premier on the same page together. So with all of the money we have invested, 400 years of celebration, I think it is a wonderful beginning.

Mr. Speaker, congratulations are in order to those people. I am going to conclude with that, Mr. Speaker, because this is a team that worked hard to see this come to reality. Not only are they to be congratulated but this will become a part of, I think, one of the greatest celebrations in our Province.

I have to say to government, and I think other people have said it probably in other debates, the money that we put into something like this is money well spent. I think when you size up all the other smaller festivals that we have in our Province, if they could be given a few dollars to help them expand; it just increases the revenue that comes into our Province.

I know in my hon. colleague's district, we have the Blueberry Festival, which is next door to Cupids. The thousands of people who come there for a two or three day event – not only in our own Province, but people outside in the United States and throughout Canada come to that event.

Mr. Speaker, the only thing I hope that comes from all of this, outside of the tremendous celebrations that we will have this year, is that both the provincial and the federal governments will continue to put money into this project. It is fine that we have this beautiful Cupids Legacy Centre there, and it is a beautiful facility. I have not been in it yet, but I will be going there for sure. Just to look at it on the outside, what a tremendous facility.

Mr. Speaker, I think – and I am sincere in what I am going to say, and I am sure the minister will agree with what I am going to say, this is in his district. I think the provincial and federal governments should continue to put thousands and millions of dollars into this project because I see this here in our Province as being another Fort Louisbourg, like is in Nova Scotia. This resettlement that John Guy, the first English settlement here in Canada, that can be a similar situation as what is in Fort Louisbourg, where the settlement can be rebuilt to look like it was back at that time. You could have dozens of people hired on where people could go and see what it was like, and how they lived and how they dressed at that particular time.

So, Mr. Speaker, I know it has been noted that there are some 140,000-plus artifacts. According to their booklet, now it is up around 150,000. That is a tremendous amount of items that people can go and look at. I have seen some in the past. I have not seen any of the ones they have found recently. They found coins, plates, pieces of pipes and what have you, and uncovered the formation of the various buildings that John Guy used at that time.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I can assure you that we in the Official Opposition extend hearty congratulations to the people of Cupids and all those who were involved from the outside that helped them to bring this project to the point it is today. I, as well as thousands of others, look forward to travelling to that site and taking part in their celebrations as this year unfolds.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Transportation and Works.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Of course, I have been in this House for, I guess going on a little more than a decade, and I would have to say, Mr. Speaker, this is one of my prouder moments to be able to stand and support a private member's motion with regard to a fantastic celebration that, even as we speak, is unfolding.

It is the 400th anniversary of the birthplace of English Canada in a small community in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is part of the rich history, not only of our Province but it is part of the rich history of a nation. We can even go further and talk about how it has great significance internationally as well.

It is about Cooper's Cove, or Cuper's Cove some call it. We call it, in modern day terms, Cupids. It is about a voyage, not necessarily of discovery but of settlement. It was a voyage that happened 400 years ago and it was an event, of course, that changed the course of history in many different ways. That story of John Guy coming in with, I guess, his merry band of men at first, and later followed by females, that this planned settlement was indeed to spur settlements throughout, not only Newfoundland and Labrador but Canada as well.

Mr. Speaker, it is a celebration of a historical event. An event that did change the course of history, but it is also a celebration of the tenacity, the determination, the toil, the foresight and vision of a company, the Bristol Company in the form of John Guy. Of course, their vision and insight was spot on, as we here stand on basically the same soil today, a very vibrant, a very, I guess forward-thinking jurisdiction in the nation of Canada. Of course, we understand very well that these sorts of things do not come easy.

So, when we talk about the celebration – and it is the celebration, as well, Mr. Speaker, not only of that beginning of John Guy and his people, and that planned community whose story is recorded now in prose and the journals that he left, in song and historical documentation, but it is also a story that a more modern group of voyagers took upon themselves to make sure that it was celebrated – and not only celebrated, but also to give an indication that those early settlers left a great legacy. That legacy has not been forgotten, nor has it been ignored, in the sense that the settlers who were to stay there and prosper and grow during those 400 years have given way to a community now that is strong, that is vibrant, that is prepared to celebrate with the world, this tremendous, tremendous event.

Mr. Speaker, it is not only about the event, it is about bringing together or unearthing aspects of the story that may have been forgotten or lost. Of course, we can attribute a lot to the archaeologist, Mr. Bill Gilbert, who, has already been mentioned, in 1995 really indeed did the first discovery. It was a cellar pit about twenty feet by seven, and that was the first indication of where the plantation was located. Mr. Speaker, you see, it was not an easy find because even though the description of the plantation was included in the journal of John Guy, the location of it and the changes – because it was obviously a community that was forested when they came in – I guess the changes that occurred over time really hid where that plantation was originally, so it was a great discovery in 1995. The cellar pit was followed by a homestead. The homestead, of course, was not standing, but as in all digs, basically, you look for something that would withstand the ravages of time and in this particular case it was a chimney and a fireplace, followed by a third building that was not as intact but the floors were intact and by the investigation that was probably a storehouse.

As well, following that there was a discovery of a two-foot wide stone wall that was perhaps the outer boundary that would have replaced the wooden structure that was originally there and the wooden enclosure. The latest find, Mr. Speaker, is even a more interesting one because it is - I think it was just last year when they were moving a stack of wood just to make room for something else, they discovered the top of a headstone. As they now have – and that is ongoing, they have discovered something like nine graves. So it is very, very likely, but not yet proven, that is probably where the original grave sites of the original settlers would have been and that will certainly give rise to further investigation.

But again, 150,000 artifacts later, we found as well, and the member has already mentioned the oldest English coin that was found. As a matter of fact, it is an Elizabethan silver four pence that was minted in the Tower of London somewhere between 1560 and 1561. So again, the oldest colony, English colony, the oldest gold coin, and of course, we have dig site now that certainly indicates to us where it would be.

We have to take our hats off to Mr. Gilbert. He has done not only the dig itself but, academically, he has spurned, I guess, a great resurgence of interest in early colonization in North America, especially in Canada. Some of his findings have certainly changed the recording of history because some of the artifacts that he has unearthed point to different directions that have already been recorded. So not only, Mr. Speaker, are we celebrating but we are also reinterpreting the historical events that happened associated with colonization.

As well in February of 2002 we had a small group of individuals from Cupids who basically put together the current Cupids 400 Inc. and that was headed up at that particular time – something like fifteen members – by Mr. Roy Dawe, a lifelong resident of Cupids. He was instrumental as the chair to carry out – and that was about eight years ago. Their mandate was to make sure that the celebration was an appropriate one.

We do find that, when we look at it, this group – this Cupids 400 group – have obviously put together an absolutely fantastic year, which has always been referenced. We are looking forward – me, as the MHA for the particular area of the District of Harbour Main-Whitbourne – are looking forward to a great influx of visitors. I might add, Mr. Speaker, that already there have been any number of events that have been carried out since the new year and even prior to the new year with the visit of royalty to kick it off back in, I believe it was, November, and throughout this year.

As well, I am very, very happy to report, the Legacy Centre – and this is a big piece because this is what is going to carry us well beyond 2010. Basically, this legacy piece is a very important component and I am very, very pleased to say that was put together. Mr. Speaker, it is a new building to some degree, but it incorporated the old school. It is very, very interesting when you do visit – which I am sure many of our members will do – that you can see that the architect was able to basically build on the old and into the new.

It is really a fantastic layout, one that I do not have the time right now to describe. In the middle of the building is the cornerstone of the old school, and clearly, it gives the impression, which it is meant to give, of how we have progressed through time and that we have not forgotten what has gone before and have incorporated that into where we want to go into the future. As well, you will find the modern technology, the modern displays and the interactive displays, which are so crucial today in getting forth the interpretation of that particular dig site.

Again, when we look at this particular group of individuals, originally the Cupids 400 Inc., they were, I guess, under the same direction that the council of London and Bristol Company wrote to Governor John Guy when he came and I quote, "There shall be no wasting of victualles…" - or vittles, I guess, as we would call them - "…nor time misspent in idleness but all industrious courses shall be practiced to set forward this particular enterprise…." Not only did John Guy take that upon himself as, I guess, his direction but this legacy group have certainly done so as well.

When we look at the Cupids 400 then and what has unfolded, we see it truly as a place, this Legacy Centre, where the present meets the past. I just alluded to that with the old and the new, a place where visitors are encouraged to explore the exotic nature of our landscapes, our waterscapes, our cultural heritage, our people, a place where visitors are encouraged to pause and reflect on their heritage and in the process to discover something about themselves.

I think this is where, I guess, our marketing campaign with regard to getting people to come in that they can perhaps come here in Newfoundland and Labrador to lose themselves but in losing themselves, as they would down in the Legacy Centre, they will find something about themselves.

So, Mr. Speaker, again the Cupids Legacy Centre will illuminate the rich tapestry of history and culture that has defined Cupids' place at the core of Canadian history. The centre will be the permanent home of a vast heritage that echoes in every field and cove in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I have referenced Mr. Gilbert, I have referenced Mr. Roy Dawe, but that is really the chair and the archaeologists. There are many people that I could reference today but time does not allow me to do so, but I will reference the Curator of the Cupids Museum, the current Curator, Ms Linda Kane, who has done an absolutely fantastic job and will go on as Curator of the Legacy Centre, but she has put together such a wonderful display that I am sure will be to everyone's satisfaction.

Again, the official opening of the Legacy Centre will be on August 17. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, given the people in Cupids, they have already opened that centre and they are open for business. Anyone that is down around that area, I would certainly encourage them to drop by.

In saying that, too, Mr. Speaker, there is the meeting of the old with the new, and that seems to be the theme. I will reference the 300th year celebrations, obviously 100 years ago, carried out, and my hon. colleague has already mentioned that it occurred - a great outpouring from not only the country of Newfoundland at that time, but all around Canada and especially Great Britain. There was one particular character there that is in the picture - and you will see that picture when you go down to Cupids - there is a gentleman there with a top hat on and obviously dressed for the occasion, as you would at any occasion like that. That top hat still exists, and it is on display at the legacy centre. What is interesting is that, I guess it was Captain Smith who was that gentleman in the picture, and his grandson, Dr. Alton Smith, who is now the honourary chair of our celebrations, who happens to a ninety-two-year-old resident of Cupids, Dr. Alton Smith will also be on the viewing stand for the opening, for the celebration, and he will have on his head his grandfather's hat. Again, a great combination of the old with the new, pointing out, Mr. Speaker, that again –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HEDDERSON: Just one minute just to clue up?

MR. SPEAKER: Leave to clue up?


MR. SPEAKER: Leave to clue up.

MR. HEDDERSON: Again, just to continue on with that, Mr. Speaker, that is the type of people that we are dealing with in Cupids: people who have worked through the years to keep alive the story of Cupids, to make sure that is passed on as a legacy to those who come after us.

Again, I take my hat off - be it a top hat or whatever, I take my hat off - to the numerous people, our municipal politicians, to the provincial government, for making sure that they were there to assist the people of Cupids in bringing forth this wonderful celebration this year.

Again I join with, I am sure, everyone in this House, this hon. House, in wishing them all the very best in the years to come - not only the year to come, but the years to come - and encourage each and every one of you, as well as anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond, to make sure that they make this a must-see this summer.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am glad to stand and speak to this private member's motion today on the Cupids 400th anniversary, and I was quite happy to give leave to the minister as he clued up his comments.

It is something to celebrate, there is no doubt, the 400th anniversary of what would seem to be the first English-speaking community in North America. The work that has been done there is actually equal with any archaeological work that has been done anywhere. That is why I am so glad that the speakers to this moment, all three speakers before me, have recognized the work of Mr. Bill Gilbert and his team from the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation.

I remember, just a few years after they began the work, I was quite excited to know that this work was going on. I remember going to visit, and hearing from Mr. Gilbert how he became convinced of where the site was, and the work that he had to do to convince others that he was not just following a pipe dream. He so very, very carefully went over the documentation that was there, and so very carefully mapped out where he thought the site was; and, while it had to be proven by doing the dig, deep in his heart he really felt that he knew that where he was, was exactly the right spot that he was going to find what he found.

It is quite exciting when one goes to some of these sites in our Province and becomes immersed in our history. I find it, and I found it, really interesting to go to the Colony of Avalon in Ferryland and then go to Cupids and then compare archaeologically things like even the stone walks and how the stones are laid, et cetera. Of course, these two communities happened close in time to each other, and the similarities of what has been found in one and in the other is very interesting, from an archaeological and historic perspective. So we do have a lot to celebrate, when it comes to celebrating the 400th anniversary of the community that was founded by John Guy in 1610.

We also have to stop and think, in this Province, too, when we celebrate these communities – for example, Ferryland as well, and Cupids – that we are talking about the beginning of the Europeans – well, not totally because we did have the Norse come over – but the Europeans from the U.K., come here to these grounds and to actually come as colonizers. Of course, they are called colonies; Cupids was a colony. Ferryland, where the community is in Ferryland, was a colony. These were colonizers. The reality of those colonizers coming, while one of the realities is the Province that we now have today, another reality was an encroachment on the land that was already lived on by Aboriginal people; and, of course, in this area it was the Beothuks.

We all know the history. Some know the history better than others of what happened to the Beothuks. There has been a lot of work done. The colonization of the Island meant for the Beothuks, ultimately, their total disappearance, the end of those people. It was not that it was deliberate. It was not that people came over intending to have them totally disappear off the face of the earth, but that was the reality, partially because of conflict, and partially, and in a big way, because of the Aboriginal people on this Island not being able to cope with, basically, the germs that were being brought over from England. They were not able to withstand the diseases that they had never been exposed to before. Their bodies could not adjust to the new diseases to which they were exposed.

Also, in different places on the Island, for example, up in the Boyd's Cove area, as the colonization continued, the Beothuks were cut off from the water because of where the colonies were being set up. So, over time, some of them actually starved because of lack of access to food sources that they were used to having access to at different times of year.

So, I find that when we are celebrating something like the 400th anniversary of the first English colony on this Island, we cannot do that without recognizing also the loss that meant as well. I do not know what is being planned in these celebrations in Cupids. I do not know if there will be any recognition of Aboriginal existence prior to the British colony of 1610. I will be interested to see if that is there, because we have an obligation, as people in this Province, people who came as intruders - we are the descendents of intruders - we have an obligation to always remember who walked that land first.

There is a custom that goes on in various parts of this country - and it has started in some places here in Newfoundland and Labrador, though it is not constant – where, where when a meeting is happening on a piece of land where we know it is recognized that a group of Aboriginal people first lived on that land, in the opening ceremony or the opening meeting, whatever, recognition is given to the Aboriginal ownership of the land on which one stands. I experienced that quite frequently in Ontario. I have experienced it in British Columbia, in Saskatchewan and in Manitoba.

I do not know if it is being planned that way but it certainly would be wonderful if that was part of what happens in Cupids at the big celebration; that recognition of Aboriginal ownership, recognition of Aboriginal life that was here on this Island before the English came to the Island. I put it out as something for us to think about. I put it out as something that I think we have a responsibility to think about. We have been in the habit here in this Island of forgetting the Aboriginal people who are here.

We know the struggle, for example, that the Conne River Mi'kmaq went through in trying to get recognition of their existence as Aboriginal people and their rights as Aboriginal people in the Province. We know the struggles that the Inuit and the Innu have gone through in Labrador. We know what the Indian bands of the West Coast have gone through. There are people on this Island who still maintain that they have a direct line to Beothuks. Even though pure blood Beothuks may no longer exist, there are people who – I do not know how well they can prove it, but obviously it is rational to think that there were people who were left who were part of mixed blood, who were a combination of perhaps Beothuk women and English men, children who resulted from those liaisons. There are people who claim direct line to Beothuks.

So, I think it is extremely important for us that while we celebrate this anniversary that we also recognize what the cost was to Aboriginal people in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a moment - I am glad to have this motion to speak to it, because it is a moment to think about that and it is a moment to think about the different places on the Island that need to be highlighted when it comes to places to visit. One place, for example, is Boyd's Cove, which has such a wonderful display and wonderful centre with regard to the Beothuk. It is a magical place to go to, just like Ferryland is, and just like Cupids is too. I do find these places really, really special to go to, but it was even more special when I went to Boyd's Cove and experienced there the magic of imagining what it was like for the Beothuks as they lived there in the summer months and fished in the summer months and lived in their community there, which again, you have an archaeological dig indicating exactly where the community is.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the hon. member speak, so I would appreciate your co-operation.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that.

So, this moment of the 400th anniversary gives us pause to think about a lot of things that we have to celebrate and recognize in our Province. We do have a wonderful Province. We have a wonderful history, but at this moment let's remember the context of this celebration that we are having.

I would also – while I still have time, because I still have over four minutes – like to speak about the broader tourism picture that we have here in our Province. I think we have great potential with regard to more tourism involving archaeological sites. I think there is a lot more to be discovered in our Province with regard to archaeological sites, but if we are going to continue looking at tourism as something that is good to do in and of itself, and something that is good to do from an economic perspective, then we have to look at some of the things that we need to put in place to make these happen. There are going to be a lot of people coming to this Province and wanting to go to the Cupids 400 celebration. I ask the question: How easy is it going to be for them, for example, if they fly into the Province, to rent cars to go to the Cupids 400 celebration? How easy is it for them, if they do not rent cars, to find another way to get out to Cupids?

We have terrible transportation problems in this Province once we get outside of urban areas, and even some of the urban areas have problems. When it comes to transportation in rural Newfoundland, we have a real problem, and if we are going to make our Province more accessible to tourists then we have to make sure that we are building an infrastructure.

Now, I know we have spoken in this House about the whole thing of the need for rental cars, particularly in the summer, and it is in the summer that the real issue happens, and affordable rentals, Mr. Speaker. I rent everywhere in this country and I find there is nowhere where the cost of rental cars is as expensive as here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now I know the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation is speaking with Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador with regard to issues. We are aware of the latest report that has come out from Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador telling us that the lack of affordable rental cars or the lack of rental cars period is one of the major barriers for the tourism industry when it comes to attracting people to the Province. So if we are going to make Cupids accessible, make Ferryland accessible, make Boyd's Cove accessible, then we have to make sure that the government is working very, very closely with the industry to come up with potential solutions to the whole issue of the rental cars.

Another issue, Mr. Speaker, for tourists is if they come here, they want to know that they are safe and secure. We, Mr. Speaker, have a very serious issue because of the fact that we do not have E911 services in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Tourists coming here who may run into problems on a highway or on a less known road in the Province when travelling around, and who dial 911 expect that they are going to be able get emergency services. Mr. Speaker, the issue is they cannot.

We have been raising this issue in the House now for a long time and government seems to be proceeding at a snail's pace in addressing the issue. I understand all the issues that are involved. I understand that we have to get ways of identifying houses and places rurally, but with the new GPS technology, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that we should be able to be moving much more quickly in this Province with regard E911 services. I have been over two years now speaking about this in the House and we are no closer, as far as I can tell, to having E911 services than we were when I first started. Mr. Speaker, tourists, if they are going to come here – if they find out there is no E911 that is something that is a block for them coming in.

Mr. Speaker, the last thing I would like to mention, if we really are going to bring tourists here, do you know what they want? They want rural Newfoundland. That is what they want to see. They want to see historic sites. Even when they come to St. John's, they want to see the historic sites and they want to see rural Newfoundland. They want to see fishing villages. Yes, they are going to want to see Cupids and they are going to want to see Ferryland, but they want to see active villages too. I am hoping that this government is going to take very seriously the needs in our fishing industry, in particular, to make sure that we maintain communities that are alive, communities that are economically viable, working in the industry that was the very first industry of this Province, so these are three major issues, Mr. Speaker.

I know I have one second; if I could clue up, just two or three sentences, please?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave to clue up?


MR. SPEAKER: Leave to clue up.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much.

I just want to rename those three points, Mr. Speaker, or four points, I guess, that I want to leave everybody thinking about. One, let's use the Cupids 400 celebration as a time to remember not just the colonization by English of this Province but also to think about the wonderful history of Aboriginal people in this Province, especially the Beothuks, and the things that we need to put in place if we are going to bring tourists to Newfoundland and Labrador: transportation that they are going to be able to use; E911 services so they will feel safe here in this Province; and a real intent, Mr. Speaker, to make sure that rural Newfoundland and Labrador in this Province does not die, and that the only thing that tourists will have to come to in the future is to see historic sites on our coasts, not live communities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the hon. Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure for me to rise in this hon. House today to speak to the Cupids celebration this year. I am going to talk a little bit more today about the Guy plantation and the archaeological efforts that took place.

The cellar pit that Bill Gilbert and his team uncovered in 1995 was fairly large. It measured twenty feet wide by seven feet deep, and the base of these cellar stone walls is clearly visible on the site today, so certainly it is going to be quite a remarkable site, I guess, for everyone who is going to be visiting there this summer. There is going to be a lot of historical buildings that are going to be great to see, and it will be able to bring us back in time to how they used to live 400 years ago.

Establishing this crucial structure enabled the settlers to concentrate on the construction of two additional buildings, and one of those buildings was the homestead. An exploration by the archaeologist of the remnants of the dwelling floor indicated that the house was divided into two main rooms: one with a cobblestone and flagstone floor, and another with a wooden floor.

The archaeology team also discovered an additional structure attached to the southern end of the homestead, and that third building measured approximately thirty feet and was roughly about thirteen feet in width. The condition of the third structure was almost entirely lost when this building collapsed, but again the foundation is still visible for people to see this summer and in the years to come. The archaeological team determined that its location in relation to the cellar meant that it was probably a storehouse back 400 years ago.

In 2003, while working at the Cupids dig site, they uncovered a two-foot-wide stone wall that appears to have formed part of the boundary of John Guy's 1610 enclosure. Facing Cupids harbour, the wall did not cover the complete northern boundary of the site and this led to speculation that it was actually the unfinished replacement of an earlier wooden wall that was vulnerable to the threat of pirates in this early settlement period.

Meanwhile, some late season housekeeping on the archaeological site in 2007 uncovered an astounding find. When they moved a stack of wood to bury some leaves that had fallen over the site, it was revealed to be the top of a headstone. As the hon. Minister of Transportation and Works, and the Member for Harbour Main just said, they actually turned out to find nine graves. The narrow width of three of these graves indicates that they were dug in the seventeenth century. Though too early to state categorically, there is a strong probability that this is a cemetery that was established by John Guy's party in 1610, and if this proves to be the case it will be the oldest cemetery in Canada - oldest English cemetery in Canada.

From the work of the archaeological team, and the artifacts and relics they uncovered, we know that this plantation site was occupied for nearly fifty years. From these same artifacts it was determined that a catastrophic fire destroyed several of the original plantation building structures in about 1660. The plantation site itself was thought to have met a violent end, where it is speculated that marauding French raiders destroyed the buildings during its infamous raids in the winter of 1696 and 1697. No doubt, as the archaeologists continue their work, there are going to be many more artifacts to be found which are going to tell us a whole lot more.

We have quite a remarkable history here in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, and it is something worthwhile for us to visit as we take our summer vacations, this summer and in the years to come. I certainly recommend that everyone get out to the Cupids celebration, which is going to be quite the event, but also to take the time to explore the Province as a whole, and everything we have to offer right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I would like to talk a little bit about the heritage facilities in my district as well. Certainly, the preservation of our heritage and culture has been increasingly important to us as Newfoundlanders in the last fifteen or twenty years, and thank goodness we have recognized the need to preserve what we have in our history and make sure that it is going to be there for generations, decades and centuries to come as well.

In Harbour Breton we have facilities like the Elliott Premises, for example, Sunny Cottage, and this year, in addition to, I am sure, many places and districts across this whole Province that will be having special occasions, in Harbour Breton we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Sunny Cottage, which is also another quite prestigious building that reflects a way of life from earlier days of the fishing merchants. There is even a widow's walk that you can get up on, and everything in the home is still pretty close to its original state. You can get a real appreciation for the way of life. Certainly, someone who wants to tour this Province, they can start in Cupids, see where we very initially began 400 years ago, and then work our way up through the centuries and really map out and depict our way of life over four or five centuries here – five centuries, certainly, in this great Province.

Other facilities that we have in my district, for example, include Piercey House and Cluett House. We certainly have taken advantage of our musical heritage, and that continues to be quite strong. As many of you know, Mr. Sim Savory passed away earlier this year. They are going to be having their twenty-fifth anniversary of the South Coast Arts Festival, which is probably one of the oldest and among the original folk festivals to ever have taken place, actually, in Newfoundland and Labrador, because it was about twenty-five or thirty years ago that we, I guess, really grabbed on to the preservation of our heritage and culture. There are some great special occasions in my district, and I am sure many of the members here today could talk about special events and celebrations that will be happening in their districts as well.

The hon. Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi talked a little bit earlier about the Aboriginals, and I am quite proud to say that in the Coast of Bays region we are home to the Conne River Band Council, the Miawpukek Mi'kmaq people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are so proud of the efforts they have taken to preserve their culture and heritage, and their way of life. It is certainly phenomenal to see what is happening down there in that community as well.

They kick off our summer festivals, actually, in the Coast of Bays, starting with the annual powwow the first weekend in July, and then every single community in my district has a festival from the first weekend of July right on through to August 17. So we will be able to wrap up festivals there and probably head on out to Cupids and take in the end of the summer there with their great celebrations.

The Rum Runners Festival in Hermitage is the last one, actually, that takes place in my district. This year, the Town of Hermitage-Sandyville, which hosts the Rum Runners Festival, will also be celebrating a Come Home Year, so we anticipate having a lot of visitors. In my hometown of St. Alban's we are going to be celebrating a Come Home Year as well, Mr. Speaker, so it is going to be quite an interesting summer for us.

Other festivals we have include things like the Belleoram Iron Skull Festival. We have huge cancer benefit concerts there in the summer, and we generate anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 which is used to help local residents support and subsidize their travel expenses as they have to leave the region for cancer care.

So, all of these things tie together I guess, and these festivals and events like Cupids are certainly a great deal of work for our volunteers and our organizations here in the Province. We are quite rich in history, and I would like to also mention that in addition to these historical places, like Cupids 400 years ago, we still have communities in Newfoundland and Labrador that live the traditional way of life. In my district alone, there are four. Places like Franηois, McCallum, Gaultois, and Rencontre East. You can go there, it is like going back in time. It is such a beautiful feeling, and it is living history. Still very much fishery dominated economies attached to the fishery. They have no roads, they have no cars. They still have the original trails and paths that people used to walk on years ago. We still have the saltbox homes and all the original colours of paints. It is absolutely beautiful. You go into anybody's home at any time of day and you are offered a cup of tea or some scalded buns or a slice of homemade bread, and it is certainly absolutely wonderful to visit these communities as well.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a little bit now about how these great festivals happen. They certainly would not take place without the partnership of government and people. I congratulate Mr. Bill Gilbert and his team, the Baccalieu Trail Heritage Corporation, the Town of Cupids and surrounding areas and the many, many volunteers for their outstanding commitment and hard work for this monumental occasion as we celebrate the Cupids 400th anniversary this year.

As my hon. colleague from Topsail stated earlier, it is the first English colony in Canada, and the oldest English colony in Canada. I am quite proud of the work that they have done there in Cupids to bring awareness to this, not just here in Newfoundland and Labrador but certainly across Canada and across North America. I encourage not only visitors from here at home to come visit, but certainly visitors from abroad. Many of us have a British heritage. I understand I have a combination of British and Irish. We have a lot to learn about where we have come from, and certainly knowing about our past makes us stronger as we move into the future.

There is a huge amount of work bringing something like this together. I am sure the volunteers and the committees have spent years getting to this point, and the amount of hours I am sure they have worked at nights and weekends over the last few months and what they will be working throughout the summer is absolutely astounding. Again, I congratulate the people for their phenomenal efforts in making things like this happen here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

To clue up, Mr. Speaker, I will say it is certainly an honour for me to stand here today and applaud the people of Cupids for what they are doing in preserving our heritage as a people in Newfoundland and Labrador. I, for one, certainly look forward to visiting Cupids to see their artifacts and their museums and I look forward to how they are going to grow this facility and what it will become in the years to come as well, Mr. Speaker. So, a job well done, and we look forward to – oh, I did also want to say before I clue up though. The first time I ever went to Cupids myself, I was about I would say eighteen or nineteen. I was doing my silver Duke of E and we -

AN HON. MEMBER: That was only a couple of years ago.

MS PERRY: It was not very long ago.

We drove up, our guider brought us to Cupids and we pitched a tent in the minister's yard. From there we spent three days hiking from Cupids to Brigus and going through the old trails that I am sure are probably hundreds of years old themselves, walking along across the tops of fields and we encountered sheep, which we had no idea were going to be there. So as you can imagine, we had quite a run across the top of a few of those hills up there. It certainly was a beautiful place, still rich in history today; beautiful, friendly people there, great food.

So I encourage everyone to get out to Cupids this summer, have a great summer and congratulations to all of you for the job well done as we celebrate this 400th anniversary.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes 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 to stand up today, Mr. Speaker, and talk a little bit about the Cupids 400 celebrations and I guess help celebrate the first English colony in the new world. Like I said, it is certainly a privilege. I realize the economic impact this is going to have on the Province as we are hoping that this is going to inject some $15 million into our provincial economy as both residents and non-residents help to celebrate Cupids from the week of the seventeenth to the twenty-second, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to taking part myself personally.

Mr. Speaker, just let me say, I want to congratulate first from the outset the Chairman, Mr. Roy Dawe, and the Vice-Chair, Lloyd Kane. It is remarkable what this group has done. They put together a committee. They dotted all the "i's", crossed all the "t's", Mr. Speaker. Most of the community are involved in the celebrations in some way, shape or form and I want to acknowledge the contribution that they are making as a group of volunteers, not only to their own local community but certainly in helping to promote the Province and promoting us as a destination of choice, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity in the last short period of time in visiting Cupids on two occasions. The first time was with my daughter who was doing a project for school. It was a great way for her, and actually as it turned out, there were several students in her school who did projects on Cupids and the Cupids celebration.

So, Mr. Speaker, not only is there a tourism piece to this, there is an educational piece. It is good for our local students and local kids to learn about the first English colony, like I said, in what today we call Canada. I had the opportunity to visit the dig site with her and unfortunately the interpration centre, the legacy centre was not open at the time but we did visit the salt water pond and we had a great discussion – while spending the afternoon together, we had a great discussion of what it must have been like some 400 years ago when a boat rowed in through the seas and arrived at Salt Pond, as the locals refer to it. Certainly, we had a chance to visit and have a look at some of the places they had built a number of years ago. It was an educational piece. I want to, again, thank the people of Cupids for doing exactly what they are doing.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, just before I go on to talk a little bit about my second trip out there, I want to acknowledge as well that Their Royal Highnesses too, were out there to help kick off the celebration of Cupids. There was great excitement in the area and throughout many of the local towns to have the Royals there and have the Royal visit a couple of months ago.

Mr. Speaker, the second occasion I went out to visit Cupids was for the kickoff of Tourism Week. June 7 was Tourism Awareness Week activities, it was launched in Cupids. I had the privilege of going out there with John Dicks, who is Chairman of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, the idea of us helping them kick it off was to acknowledge and thank the many tourism operators throughout our Province. Certainly, there are more than just in the Cupids area, but throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, which we have a great tourism potential in Labrador, but we have to acknowledge the people who are currently in the industry in an area of our Province, Mr. Speaker, that has so much potential.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, this industry now is a $850 million industry in our Province and one that a number of years ago, I do not know if floundering would be the correct word, but we certainly were not achieving the peaks and the highs that we are achieving today. I always say this, I remember a few years ago there was a huge celebration in our Province - I do not know if celebration would be the correct term but there was certainly an acknowledgment of the fact when the fishery became a billion dollar industry. Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not suggesting that the tourism industry will ever replace the fishery, nor should it, but I will acknowledge that we are headed in becoming a billion dollar industry. That is very, very significant, Mr. Speaker, in that a number of years ago very little was done. In 2010 alone, is certainly shaping up to be a great year. Let me just say that is certainly not by accident.

As a government, when we started off in 2003, I believe we had a $6 million budget in tourism. Today we have a $13 million budget, a significant increase over the last number of years. This year alone, to start off the first quarter of this year, we see our non-resident visitors to this Province up by 7 per cent. Phenomenal numbers, Mr. Speaker, when you think that we are at the tail end of a recession, and even last year, when we were in the middle of a recession, what you saw happen was a decline in visitations not only in Atlantic Canada but certainly nationally and internationally. Some of the hottest travel destinations in the country were down significantly and you saw our Province, Newfoundland and Labrador, with a slight increase. That just talks a little bit about the product that we have here.

Mr. Speaker, one way that I always compare us, or I feel that we should compare us, is against our other provinces that are of equal to us, and of course Atlantic Canada is where you would find those. Mr. Speaker, over the last seven years we have had a total growth of 14 per cent in our tourism numbers here in the Province. When you compare that to what is happening in the rest of Atlantic Canada, Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to be totally frank with you. What you see, you see Nova Scotia down 5 per cent over that same period. You see P.E.I. down 20 per cent over that same period, and New Brunswick down 23 per cent. It is obvious we are certainly doing something right here.

Again, we are talking about tourism week, and I have to acknowledge the people in the industry, the people who work at it day and night, the people who make a living at it, but also in doing so promote this Province and make it the travel destination of choice.

Mr. Speaker, another point I would like to talk about, from our tourism perspective, is that I talk about this as not being - it did not happen by accident. Again, to go back to the tourism industry, the professionalism that has grown in the tourism industry alone is remarkable. I had a privilege recently - of course I have had since I have been minister - of visiting a number of sites around this Province for different things, and I have to say the level of professionalism now on the tourism side - and yes, of course, we will always have work to do, but I can tell you right now we have a product in this Province that is comparable to anybody else, Mr. Speaker, indeed in the world.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other things that we have done, we talk about Cupids and so on and the importance of having celebrations in our Province to enhance our tourism. One of the things I recently had the opportunity to announce here is the extension of our tourism seasons. Obviously, most people are aware, certainly, the favourite two weeks of the year is the end of July and the first week of August. That is certainly a significant time for travellers and people who come to our Province. Of course, of late, our summers have been very, very busy. We call it summer, we would like to think it is summer, I am not so sure the weather always co-operates, but June, July and August has traditionally been our tourism season.

Mr. Speaker, what we have been working on recently is tourism extensions. I just recently had the opportunity to visit Trails, Tales &Tunes in Norris Point with my colleague from St. Barbe. I spent a couple of days up there; I was there for their opening and their kickoff. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, it is remarkable what is happening. This was prior to May 24, which is really early in the tourism season, really before the tourism season begins. We saw the small community in Norris Point, Mr. Speaker, with all of its places booked – cabins, hotel rooms, whatever available was booked. We saw musicians throughout the week. We saw cultural events. We saw many people there walking trails. So it was a full combination of three areas, obviously, the Trails, Tales & Tunes.

Mr. Speaker, you hear things from people in the industry - there was one instance I heard one person tell me that four or five years ago, they used to have this dinner once throughout the festival. Now, Mr. Speaker, they have expanded that to, I believe, it was either four or five nights, a dinner with fifty people in their business, in their restaurant, and certainly making it work.

There was another instance, another venue there, Mr. Speaker, they told me that in one day, they had the equivalent sales of what they would normally take over a week to find. These are the kind of things that are happening, because this is outside the tourism season. You would not believe the number of people, who, just by a small amount of money - a reasonably small amount of money, I should not say a small amount of money, but we provided $14,000 as a government to that event. Mr. Speaker, we got that back many, many times over, and certainly the local people were so thankful that we were a partner. That is all we were. There was no giveaway here, we were a partner. We played a vital role as a partner for that event, and we would certainly acknowledge the people up there, and again, the effort that they made.

Mr. Speaker, that is not the only season extension we are working. Of course, there is the Feather & Folk Festival on the Southwest Coast. We have the Humber Valley Spring in your Step Festival. Both of which, Mr. Speaker, the provincial government contributed to – $19,000 in the first instance, and $10,500 in the second instance.

My colleague across the way, Mr. Speaker, certainly heard of the Iceberg Festival. As a government, again we contributed to that area. The hon. member, like I said, is aware, and I am sure he is after taking part in events in his district. It is good to see. Again, it is about increasing the tourism business in our Province and expanding what has traditionally been a very, very narrow window and something that we continue to work on.

Mr. Speaker, you talk about, some people – we get knocks sometimes from the Opposition and they like to tell us that we do not do anything in rural Newfoundland. Mr. Speaker, I have to that is one of the biggest myths, yes, that has been distributed about this Province. I am sure the Minister of Transportation and Works could stand here now and go on for hours, the Minister of Municipal Affairs could stand here and go on for hours, the Minister of Labrador Affairs could stand here and go on for hours about the commitments we have made outside the overpass. The Minister of Education could go on for hours, Mr. Speaker, about the contributions and the money we have invested.

Mr. Speaker, I recently had the opportunity to go to Twillingate Island with my colleague, the Member for the Isles of Notre Dame –

AN HON. MEMBER: Fogo Island.

MR. FRENCH: Fogo Island, sorry, with the Member for the Isles of Notre Dame. We out there and visited a project with Shorefast limited and seen exactly what the contribution of $5 million in one instance, and I think it was $2 million in the other instance, that we have contributed, and about to turn around a very much rural area of this Province. There is a lot of money being spent out there. There is a beautiful hotel, a $16 million hotel out there. Again, it is a piece of this government promoting our tourism product and promoting it in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It is an $850 million industry, Mr. Speaker, employing 13,000 people, I might add, many of them in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it was certainly a delight to go to Fogo Island and be part of that ceremony. We also opened an English language e-Cinema - the first one, I believe, to be in Canada. As well, of course, we are part of the rock turning for the Fogo Island Inn. I do not know if they have selected a title for it yet, but you have to witness where this is going to be. It is built on – it would remind you of a fishing stage, much what it is like the way the legs are shaped for this hotel. It is going to be, I believe, a twenty-four or twenty-five-room structure. It is certainly going to be a high-end facility. They even have models of the rooms built whereby you will be able to get in a room and see nothing but water, water breaking over islands and rocks. It is remarkable scenery and certainly one to behold. They are doing it very much in the traditional way. There will be very little landscaping done, it will be all left to its natural turf. I have to say, it was certainly phenomenal to see.

Another piece they are doing, Mr. Speaker – again, all related to our tourism season, of course, is they are opening six art studios. I had the pleasure of being there for the opening of the first one. Again, Mr. Speaker, it one of these places – I am certainly no artist. I am certainly not a visual artist. I certainly cannot paint, and I cannot do anything when it comes to the arts. Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, to stand in these studios and look out through the ‘viewscape' that you have, it would almost make you believe that anybody can paint. It is a remarkable place. I am sure that artists from around the world will appreciate these six new studios as they become available.

Mr. Speaker, just before I clue up, I just want to speak for a minute on the vehicle rental study that was mentioned previously by my colleague, the Leader of the NDP. Mr. Speaker, this was a study that was done last year; we started it, called A Driving Need. We realize in this Province – as a government we realize that one of the major issues that we have, or one of the issues that we have, was the car rental industry. Not the industry, but the availability of cars, especially during the peak times and on the shoulder season, Mr. Speaker.

The report was done and it came back. Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you, out of all the things that came out of the report one of the things that I enjoyed most about it was the fact that now what we have – we have five vehicle rental operators are part of Hospitality Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker. That never happened before. All of a sudden we see many industry players becoming a part of our hospitality organization, becoming members of Hospitality Newfoundland. Not only are they members, one of the rental operators is actually on the Board of Hospitality Newfoundland; so that coming together alone.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to clue up here now, but there are many, many good points to the vehicle rental study including next year's forum. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, we now have the groundwork set to help alleviate some of the issues in the vehicle rental issues that our tourism people have.

So just before I sit down, again, Mr. Speaker, good luck to Cupids, and I encourage all of our residents from around the Province to go see it, certainly take your kids. There is a week long of activities. With regard to what you are looking for, it will certainly be in Cupids. Mr. Speaker, they have great fish cakes.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (T. Osborne): The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly welcome the opportunity to speak to this bill today. There are a lot of good things that have been said about this, but the one thing that I want to highlight in the few minutes that I have – I do not plan on taking the full fifteen minutes – but I thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight the great co-operation that has existed around the whole planning of the Cupids 400 celebration.

As we know, these celebrations and announcements and regional events have been happening over some time. One of the things that have truly come to the forefront is the co-operation between the communities, and certainly Cupids lies within the District of Harbour Main. Certainly, Cupids and the surrounding area are going to benefit from all of the activities around the festivities this year. Not only that particular area, Mr. Speaker, but the entire Province will benefit. Certainly, from the perspective of the Trinity-Bay de Verde District there has been a tremendous effort put towards working with the people and the history involved around Cupids and John Guy and his adventures to the Trinity Bay area back in the seventeenth century. Communities like Dildo, Old Perlican, Bay de Verde, Winterton and several others in the district have been working very well with the Cupids organizing group and the great work done by Roy Dawe and Kathi Stacey and so on.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, there have been many regional events that have taken place already and we know that government has put upwards of $4 million into this and we expect to see a benefit of about $15 million to the Province but there is one event that I would like to highlight in particular, and that was just recently this week, Mr. Speaker. On Monday, we had the opportunity to go to the Winterton Boat Building Museum, and the purpose was two-fold. One was to open the boat building museum for the season, but the second one was to unveil The Indeavour Saga Exhibit, Mr. Speaker. This is a boat that is being constructed on site at the Winterton Boat Building Museum. The Indeavour Saga Exhibit is to highlight John Guy's voyage from Cupids to Trinity Bay back in 1612.

Mr. Speaker, it was a tremendous effort on Monday. There were several hundred people there. Mother Nature co-operated. It was an absolutely beautiful day. A great day for the district, and it was not just a Winterton event, it was not just a Cupids event. There were people there from Lewisporte, the famous boat builder Henry Vokey was there. There were people there from Dildo to Bay de Verde and up through Conception Bay side. Mr. Speaker, they were very fortunate, and I do not know who the genius was to do this, but they contacted Alan Doyle some time ago from Great Big Sea, actor now too, Alan Doyle to emcee the event. He did an absolutely fabulous job. Alan worked in a museum for ten years. He had a particular interest in museums and history and so on, and he brought a whole new perspective to the event. It was very uplifting. There was a lot of enthusiasm around the event.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is very important about Cupids 400 is it is all about history. We always say that it is important to know where you came from in order to help shape where you are going. I know sometimes people in this House and outside the House, sometimes we do not know if we are coming or going from one day to the next. One thing that certainly keeps us grounded, Mr. Speaker, is history and reading about our history certainly gives us an appreciation for all that has been done in the past. One of the funny things that Alan said was the boat that was being constructed was like the oldest car in history. It was certainly their method of transportation back in the day.

As I said, the event took place on Monday and the boat that is being constructed – it is not just about displaying the boat building techniques of the day that was used to construct John Guy's ship back in the early seventeenth century, but it also provides people with an actual opportunity to participate in the boat building activity itself. This boat will be on display throughout the entire summer.

I had the very fortunate opportunity to actually participate in the keel laying. There were twelve keel layers, each having a name of the people who were on the ship back in 1612. It was not just a ceremonial thing; it was the actual laying of the keel that will form the construction of this boat. It was about 325 pounds, but with twelve people, many hands make light work, as they say, so I managed to get through it. The representatives from INTRD have my back.

It was great to see all of the communities come together. I heard Randy Simms on the Open Line Show earlier that day with Alan Doyle and one of the things he thought was so fascinating is that people can visit the Winterton Boat Building Museum this summer and actually take part in having the opportunity to put a piece of that boat together. It is something that Randy said he would certainly commit to and put the challenge out to all people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to take part in the Cupids 400 celebrations this year and to go to places like Winterton and take part in this very interactive event.

We have been very, very supportive of the Winterton Boat Building and all of the museums in the district and certainly throughout the Province over the years. I have had various Tourism, Culture and Recreation ministers out to the district, but this Indeavour Saga Exhibit is a very unique one, as I said, in that you have the opportunity to participate in the building. It is certainly an example of how the provincial government works with communities to preserve our intangible cultural heritage, and that is the traditions and skills that we know help define us as a people. It is going to be part of the Cupids 400 exhibit celebrations for this upcoming summer. It was a great story. They documented the journey of 1612 from Cupids to Trinity Bay and certainly they were not short of their challenges along the way in terms of the weather, the stormy winds, the snow and so on, and all of the things that they encountered; again, a very important part of our history and one that we are really looking forward to celebrating this year.

In terms of the motion, it invites the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and tourists from across Canada and around the world to join people to celebrate in the Cupids event. Mr. Speaker, that is one of the things I know my colleague, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, has been really promoting is tourists vacationing within the Province this year and seeing what we have here at home. It has really caught on. The whole summer love theme has really caught on and different places you go, sitting on a plane just yesterday and various places in the public, you hear people of all ages, I heard some young twenty-year-olds talking about they saw the brochure and they have to go see this and things that they did not know existed and they really want to learn more about the history. So, that is great.

The economic spinoffs, well we expect it to be $15 million, Mr. Speaker. It certainly has the potential to do even better than that. As I said, not just for Cupids but the traffic that we expect to see certainly on the Baccalieu Trail this year as a result of the Cupids 400 celebrations, it is certainly going to be wonderful for the volunteer organizations in my district.

It is really fitting that this event took place in Winterton yesterday. It is certainly a part of the Province that is very well known for some of the most seaworthy vessels ever constructed. As I said, it is truly an opportunity for the entire region to benefit from the influx of visitors this summer.

I certainly want to congratulate all involved. I certainly want to thank the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and the minister in that department for the funds that has gone into the Baccalieu Trail area with the Cupids 400 this year. Certainly, I want to thank the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. At the event on Monday I had the opportunity to announce that we will be putting $10,000 into a mount of a travelling wooden boat exhibit. That was onsite on Monday. It is an absolutely fabulous piece of work that has been done to explain the whole boat building history in the Province, to talk about the importance of boat building to our First Nations people.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: Also, the display talked to the importance of the fishing heritage in our Province.

Mr. Speaker, that $10,000, as I said, was announced on Monday. It came from the Cultural Economic Development Program and certainly a welcomed announcement to the district. This is, as I said, just one example of how wide reaching this legacy of Cupids 400 is going to be in our Province this year.

I am certainly not going to go on. I know I have taken up about ten minutes of my time and I was just hoping to get five minutes in to talk about what a great event it was on Monday, and to certainly thank the Cupids organizing team, to thank the Winterton Boat Building for providing the venue, for taking on this fabulous proposal, to thank the Winterton Heritage Advisory committee.

As I said there has been great co-operation throughout this entire event and leading up to the week of August 17. For that week, there is going to be a lot of opportunities and we certainly encourage people to get out, enjoy rural Newfoundland and Labrador, enjoy our beautiful Province and enjoy it here at home. Certainly, we welcome as many tourists to the Province as possible. I want to thank all those involved and wish Cupids 400 a fabulous year.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Topsail. If he speaks now, he will close debate.

The hon. the Member for the District of Topsail.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to thank my colleagues for rising and debating this motion this afternoon. I would like to thank the Minister of Transportation and Works for sharing his knowledge of Cupids and the knowledge of the people of Cupids, as well as the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the Minister of Environment and Conservation who we just heard from, as well as the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, the Member for Port de Grave, and the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi who have all participated in this discussion and debate this afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, over my lifetime I have had many opportunities to travel throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and like many people, I have travelled by car, by truck and I have travelled to many different communities, I have had the opportunity and have enjoyed the opportunity to travel to many of the different communities throughout our Province in Newfoundland, and as well have had an opportunity to travel somewhat, a small amount, in Labrador. In recent years, as many people are aware, when I have downtime or vacation I quite often like to travel on two wheels instead of four and travel by motorcycle. Throughout the last couple of years, I have actually enjoyed, with friends and family, travelling throughout the Province on motorcycle. It is a very different experience from travelling in a vehicle and in a car. I have travelled to places such as Lewisporte, through Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay, the District of Grand Falls-Windsor-Green Bay, Bellevue, and Trinity North. I have travelled through Baie Verte-Springdale, as well as, on several occasions, I have travelled through the District of Harbour Main where the Minister of Transportation and Works is from.

During this time of travelling through Harbour Main district, through Conception Bay South, up through Holyrood out through Conception Bay, I have taken the opportunity to take as many side roads as I could as well and one of those side roads is through the Cupids and Brigus area. Cupids, I tell you, is a beautiful site. It is a beautiful, very tranquil community. This year it is going to be not only that, it is going to be a very exciting time.

A little bit earlier this afternoon, the Member for Port de Grave referred to the official celebration program, which has been distributed to visitors to our Province this year, and this program, as I mentioned earlier, when I referred to it, it is a very colourful program. It contains some very interesting information, some historical information, and as well, it lays out many of the events and activities that are happening this year.

So I was going to take a few minutes today to outline all the events in the book, but I do not have enough time, and I am not going to do that. I would like to highlight some of the events that are happening, and just today, Wednesday, June 16, until Sunday, June 20, there is actually the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology is holding an international conference, not only here in St. John's, but as well as in Cupids. This is an international conference on the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first English settlement in Canada, at Cuper's Cove. Delegates from the conference will spend time in Cupids touring the archaeology site and viewing the artifacts uncovered to date. So as we speak, this international conference is occurring right here in Newfoundland and Labrador in St. John's, as well as in Cupids. It is bringing people in from all over the world, this early in the season, to visit this site.

Tomorrow, on June 17, beginning at The Rooms, there will be an exhibit that will stay in place until December 31, an event called Here to Stay – The Beginnings of English Settlement at Cupids. This as well will celebrate Cupids and the English settlement of Cupids, and it is right here at The Rooms, where many visitors quite often will visit throughout the tourist season and throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take few minutes to mention some of the other interesting things that are happening in Cupids this year. The New World Theatre Project is a classically-based theatre project developed by the Rabbittown Theatre Company. It will be officially launched this coming Saturday, June 19. It will run right through until Sunday, August 22. It is being held in the Indeavour stage, in the backyard of Cupids Haven Bed and Breakfast and Tea Room. Performances by this theatre group will include William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as The Tiring House and many more.

On Wednesday, June 23, coming up next week at the Heritage House in Bay de Verde, there will be the official unveiling of a mural and history board, which includes a series of interpretive panels depicting the voyage of John Guy to Bay de Verde. Beginning on July 2, not too far in the future and running until July 11, there will be a Festival of Early Performing Arts; the Roots of our Culture Symposium will be launched as well. This symposium will explore the traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador culture evolving from the roots of our music, dance, theatre, and forms of entertainment.

On July 11, a little bit closer to my home in the District of Topsail, and which will be held, actually, in the District of Conception Bay South, is the annual Kelligrews Soiree Folk Festival; and, the Conception Bay Parks Commission, with support from the Cupids 400 project, are producing a series of heritage booklets depicting the history and tradition of Conception Bay South. These booklets will feature such traditions as agriculture, architecture, and the town's heritage properties.

On July 31, the participants of the eighteenth annual Storytellers of Canada will visit and tour Cupids, hosted by the St. John's Storytelling Festival. Conference delegates will get the opportunity to tour the historic John Guy plantation and the Cupids Legacy Centre.

Also, on July 31, a Cupids 400 Storytelling Concert will be held at St. George's Heritage Church in Brigus, right next door to Cupids. Guest storytellers from around the world and at home will gather at St. George's Heritage Church in the neighbouring community of Brigus. International storytellers will be joined by Newfoundland storytellers for an evening of traditional English folk and fairy tales. These are just a few to mention this afternoon, Mr. Speaker.

Also, on August 17, Canada Post will participate in the official unveiling of the Cupids Commemorative Stamp and First Cover. Also on that date, running until August 22, is the Cupids Cove Soiree. It is six days of celebration that include the official opening and ribbon cutting of the Cupids Legacy Centre, as well as a variety of activities including family activities such as amusement rides, face painting, craft display and the like. The celebrations will also include many events featuring Newfoundland and Labrador performers, family entertaining, and much, much more.

Mr. Speaker, this afternoon, as we have heard from all speakers, we have been provided with a tremendous amount of information on the Cupids celebration that will be happening this year. I know my colleagues are looking for more information. We are going to have to do it after hours. I will provide whatever information they are looking for, and I will stay as late as I have to with them to provide what they are looking for, but I do suggest that my colleagues, as well as members of the general public, take a few minutes to visit the Cupids 400 Web site, which is www.cupids400.com which is full of interesting information, scheduled events and activities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Is the House ready for the question?

AN HON. MEMBER: Ready, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Shall the resolution as put forward by the hon. the Member for Topsail carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


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

The resolution is carried unanimously.

This being Private Members' Day, and the business of the House being concluded, this House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow, being Thursday.