March 5, 1992                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLI  No. 1


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

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

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

Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair.

His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor takes the Chair.

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

Thank you.

HIS HONOUR, THE LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR:

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

I am greatly honoured to present my first opening address to this Honourable House since my installation as Lieutenant-Governor. I take great pride in welcoming you to this Fourth Session of the Forty-First General Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland.

At the time I took my Oath of Office, I indicated that it was my wish to bring the Office of Lieutenant-Governor to more people outside St. John's and, in particular, to those living in rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador. While I have already had the opportunity to meet many people in the Province in my new role, I look forward to my future travels so that the people will come to know that the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor is here to serve them all.

Since my Honourable Predecessor's last Address to you, the Province has witnessed the passing of a distinguished Newfoundlander and Canadian, the Honourable Joseph R. Smallwood. Mr. Smallwood will long be remembered for his determination in bringing Newfoundland into Confederation and his unwavering commitment to improve the lot of our people. The number of those who came from across the Province and the nation to this House of Assembly to pay their last respects to Mr. Smallwood attested to the far reaching nature of his accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

When my Government was elected by the people of this Province in 1989, it endeavoured to chart new directions for a physically, socially and economically healthy future for the whole of our society. Much progress has been made on all fronts and will continue to be made over the current term of My Government's mandate. However, as Canadians and as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are facing unprecedented new challenges at the present time. Indeed, as a nation and as a Province, we are truly at a critical crossroad in our history in a constitutional sense, in an economic sense, and with respect to the state of our public finances.

My Ministers are particularly concerned about the serious nature of the economic circumstances currently facing the Province. Our resource based economy has been hard hit by the national economic recession. Prices for most of our exports have been depressed and this, coupled with the high dollar and relatively high interest rates, has made for difficult times for many local business enterprises. And while Newfoundland has performed better statistically than some of the other provinces through the recession, the human dimension of the problem in terms of the increased numbers of unemployed and the strain on our social fabric has been just as serious.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

The severe impact, on all sectors of the fishing industry, of the significant reductions in quotas which have been occurring over the past several years has been dramatically compounded by the recent decisions related to the Northern Cod stock. Moreover, the magnitude of these reductions, as reflected in a sharp decline in fish landings and the economic output of the industry, will impact severely on virtually every sector of our Province's society and the economy generally. The human dimension of this resource crisis cannot simply be measured in the loss of jobs and income. Indeed, from an historical perspective, the impact of this crisis on our society and economy at large must rank as one of the greatest burdens that we, as a people, have had to bear.

Unfortunately, there is no short term solution to the resource problems confronting the fishing industry, and any significant improvement over the medium to longer term will require management decisions that give priority to conservation and stock rebuilding. In this context, My Government has, over the past several years, persistently implored the Government of Canada to so manage and undertake a comprehensive resource rebuilding strategy for our key groundfish stocks. Apart from supporting quota reductions in our domestic fisheries sector at a level sufficient to allow the stocks to regenerate on a sustained basis, and promoting an expanded seal harvest, the Province has called upon the Government of Canada to effectively address the pillage of our groundfish stocks on the "Nose" and "Tail" of the Grand Banks by foreign fleets, particularly from the European Community member states of Portugal and Spain. The Northern Cod quota reductions which have been announced in recent days reinforce the need for immediate and effective action in this regard.

The overfishing activities of these foreign fleets represent an affront to the true meaning of sustainable development, not only in the Canadian context but also in the international environmental context. The European Community, in particular, has clearly demonstrated an abrasive insensitivity to the impact of its fleet activity on our fishing industry and our people, and on the future of those stocks as a major source of food for the people of the world. Efforts on the diplomatic front over the years to address this serious matter have been a dismal failure. My Government has concluded that the Government of Canada must aggressively raise the level of international awareness of the mammoth proportions of the environmental disaster being perpetrated on the Grand Banks. It is now clear that the only effective manner to address this totally unacceptable situation is to exert custodial management over the "Nose" and "Tail" of the Grand Banks on behalf of and for the benefit of the international community. Canada, as the coastal state having the greatest interest in straddling stocks in these two environmentally sensitive areas, must implement effective fisheries management and enforcement measures on the "Nose" and "Tail" to ensure that our vital national interests are protected. This is a message which My Government will be taking to the Canadian people and the international community in the days ahead.

In addition to addressing the foreign overfishing issue and taking other resource management actions to foster the recovery of our fish stocks, My Government believes that concurrent action is necessary to deal with the rapidly expanding seal population. To this end, My Ministers strongly support an aggressive harvest and cull of the seal population off the coast of this Province. Such action is likely to generate some opposition nationally and internationally, but we must not allow this to deter us from acting in a responsible and prudent manner to address what is clearly a major problem. My Ministers find it extremely difficult in this context to comprehend the previously adopted positions of many nations on the commercial seal hunt. Some of those same countries now flagrantly disregard basic sustainable development principles with respect to the commercial fishery on the "Nose" and "Tail" of the Grand Banks.

The problems confronting the fishing industry must be addressed in a national context within a clear policy focus by the Government of Canada. Under our nation's Constitution, the responsibility for fisheries management rests with the national government, and to date it has been insistent on retaining exclusive control over all management decisions. The Government of Canada must, therefore, accept responsibility for addressing the consequences of those decisions. Effective response measures to deal with the economic and social dimensions of ongoing quota reductions must be implemented, and in a sensitive and responsible manner. My Government has repeatedly assured the Government of Canada that it is prepared to give its full cooperation in developing an appropriate economic diversification and adjustment program. This will help minimize employment and income losses, and build a stronger, more viable fishery for the future. Traditional make work approaches will not be acceptable in the present context since it would be totally unfair to have innocent fishermen and plant workers bear responsibility for uncontrolled foreign overfishing, an expanding seal population, and wrong management decisions that have resulted in quota reductions. A long term income stabilization program for the fisheries sector as a whole must be a priority consideration, as well as specific income support measures for families affected by the current situation. Moreover, it is obvious that the Government of Canada must allocate more resources to undertake adequate research for the proper management of the entire fishery resource. Appropriate steps must also be taken to ensure the maintenance of critical infrastructure and human capabilities to prosecute the fishery in a responsible and proficient manner once the stocks recover. Greater attention will also have to be placed on making the fishery of the future more market sensitive in so far as opportunities to maximize the potential value of fish products are concerned. This will require, among other things, more focus on such factors as quality, secondary processing and effective marketing arrangements.

The dramatic transformation which is occurring in our most important industry affects every aspect of our society from both a social and economic perspective. It is this very consideration and reality which demands a greater voice in all aspects of fisheries policy and management for our Province. Clearly, it is no longer acceptable for the Government of the Province to be totally removed from those fundamental fisheries related decisions which, in the final analysis, generate social and economic impacts which go far beyond the biological dimensions of fisheries management. In this context My Government has developed a proposal for joint management of the fishery based on the establishment of a Canada/Newfoundland Fisheries Management Board. This Board would not only give the Province an effective voice in the overall management of the fishery, but it would also be the most appropriate structure through which to fully integrate fisheries management and development policies of both orders of government.

Only through action in these areas can greater stability be achieved within the fishing industry for the long term benefit of our people and our economy.

Notwithstanding the current difficulties faced in the fishing industry, My Ministers remain confident that proper management decisions taken now will provide the basis for a strong fishery in the future. My Government is committed to working constructively and closely with the federal government towards the achievement of this objective.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

The Hibernia project is of vital importance to the Province. In the short term it provides much needed employment and economic activity, however, it is even more important in the long term. It represents the first in what will hopefully be a series of offshore projects that will diversify the economic structure of the Province, enhance the base upon which our marine related industries can grow, and reduce our revenue dependence on the federal government.

Recent developments in the project have caused some uncertainty. However, the project is continuing with very significant levels of capital expenditure and employment. My Ministers are monitoring the situation closely and are optimistic about the ability of the remaining Hibernia partners to successfully find new investors.

Discussions between Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Hydro Quebec relative to the potential development of the hydro electric resources of the Lower Churchill River are also continuing. My Government looks forward to an acceptable and successful conclusion to these negotiations at the earliest possible time. My Ministers wish to reiterate, however, that they are not prepared to sanction an agreement which does not assure to this Province an appropriate level and quality of industrial, economic and financial benefits.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

The current economic difficulties and challenges facing our people are of considerable enormity. However, My Government believes that, just as the Province has rebounded from equally and often more daunting times in the past, our people will respond to these challenges with optimism and confidence.

In this regard, and while the Province has been shaken by recent events, My Ministers have not been deterred from developing a long term Strategic Economic Plan for the Province. Indeed, My Ministers believe that the role and importance of such a Plan in pointing the way to a better economic future for all citizens is heightened during a period of difficult economic circumstances. This is because it is often easy for governments and society at large to sacrifice long term objectives for short term remedial measures. These offer little more than immediate relief and usually fail to address the more fundamental factors affecting the basic economic structure and future of society.

To this end, and in recognition of the fact that the goal of developing a strong provincial economy cannot be achieved without the full support and involvement of the people of the Province, My Government initiated a wide-ranging and extensive public consultation process in September of 1991 on the development of a Strategic Economic Plan. The responsibility for gathering this public input and reporting back to My Ministers was assigned to the newly created Advisory Council on the Economy. This is an independent advisory organization to My Government that is composed of leaders from business, labour and other key sectors of our society. My Government is deeply appreciative of the volunteer efforts of those members of the Advisory Council who gave freely of their time to this task.

In all, over eleven thousand copies of a consultative discussion paper were distributed and thirty-six formal public meetings were held. People throughout the Province responded beyond all expectations to this process. In excess of thirteen hundred people participated in the various sessions and over two hundred and forty written briefs were received from many individuals and from a broad cross-section of business groups, academia, labour unions, and municipal and community organizations. Their constructive advice and suggestions are now being taken into account by My Ministers as they finalize the Strategic Plan.

The Advisory Council on the Economy has informed My Ministers that three primary messages were received from the public through this consultative process. First, people fully recognize that very difficult economic problems face them, and that past economic development efforts have not been as effective as they could or should have been. In particular, our excessive dependency on transfer payments, unemployment insurance and short-term make work projects was repeatedly cited as the root cause of many of our economic ills today, and that this dependency is destroying us as a people and as a vibrant society.

The second message, as conveyed by the Advisory Council, was that the public generally accepts the fact that the status quo is no longer acceptable and many fundamental changes are required to address our difficulties. People were quite emphatic that general attitudes within all elements of our society must change; that there is too much government at present; that new directions in education and training are prerequisites to a prosperous economic future; that the tax system must be reformed to better encourage enterprise development activity; and that government in partnership with business and labour must create a renewed business climate -- a climate which is conducive to attracting meaningful investment and generating the confidence required for the sustained creation of wealth over the long-term.

The third and perhaps most significant message received was that the public overwhelmingly indicated it is ready for the type of fundamental change necessary to build a better and more prosperous social and economic future for the Province. In this regard, My Government, was strongly urged throughout the public consultation process to provide the necessary leadership and direction to make change a reality -- to ensure that the Strategic Economic Plan becomes a plan of action and not simply another document that collects dust on yet another shelf.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government gives its commitment to heed this advice carefully as it finalizes the Strategic Economic Plan for release to the public in the first half of 1992. It is not My Ministers' intent to suggest that the Plan will be a panacea for all of the economic ills facing the Province. They are, however, confident that it will offer a solid strategic framework in terms of focusing My Government's economic development efforts and providing a stronger basis for joint federal-provincial action aimed at economic diversification. In this regard, My Ministers, are hopeful that a major new cooperative agreement with the Government of Canada on strategic investment and industrial development will soon be ready for implementation. The positive work of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador will also continue and gain momentum over time as a Strategic Economic Plan is implemented. My Ministers are also hopeful that we will be able to develop with the federal government, a plan for completion of the Trans Labrador Highway.

In addition to embracing the results of the public consultation process, the Strategic Economic Plan will reflect the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador stands at an economic crossroads today. Our Province faces a variety of challenging circumstances stemming from the globalization of economic activity, freer trading arrangements between nations, the emergence of major trading blocs, and the structural economic shift from labour-intensive to knowledge-intensive industries. Technological change, competitiveness and quality are the key to future economic growth. The Strategic Economic Plan will embody actions to address these new realities. It will not be an easy task. It will take hard work, sacrifice, much compromise and total commitment by all elements of our society. But deal with them we must -- the alternative is simply not acceptable.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

In last year's Speech from the Throne, my Predecessor identified the Province's evolving financial position as a potentially serious constraint on our ability to deliver essential services and to support economic growth in the Province.

This was followed by one of the most significant Budgets ever presented to this Honourable House. Faced with a deterioration in the growth of federal and provincial revenues and rising expenditures, My Government had to balance the needs of our population for essential services with the need to be fiscally responsible and to maintain national and international confidence in the financial integrity of the Province. Expenditure reductions, including significant layoffs throughout the public service and a general wage freeze, were implemented in order to restore the fiscal balance necessary to maintain the integrity of the Province's finances. The corrective action My Government had to take did not come easy to My Ministers, but it had to be taken.

While those difficult decisions clearly resulted in an improvement in the overall fiscal outlook for the Province, recent events related to the slow-down in the Hibernia Project, the impact of the recession and the reductions made to the Northern Cod quota will present new challenges for My Ministers as they prepare and finalize the 1992 Budget. As well, the economic problems being experienced in the rest of the country are placing pressure on the level of equalization and other fiscal transfers from the Government of Canada. My Government is resolved, however, to continue to practice responsible financial management and will be taking appropriate measures in the upcoming Budget to meet this ongoing challenge.

Notwithstanding the difficult budgetary goals set and fulfilled by My Government over the past several years, My Ministers are acutely aware of the role of fiscal policy in creating a favourable business development and investment climate in the Province. To this end, My Government is continuing its tax reform efforts and will announce several new, positive directions in this domain in the coming year.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Our Province is blessed in many ways. Our natural beauty and wilderness qualities are envied throughout the world. My Government is committed to preserving and promoting this richness. Accordingly, in the coming year it will be a priority of My Government to provide additional resources to the Department of Environment and Lands to ensure that environmental management issues are given increased attention. This will allow My Government to pursue a number of significant new initiatives over the coming year to protect and enhance our physical environment.

Included among these initiatives will be legislation to deal with the persistent and chronic problem of abandoned vehicle wrecks which scar our countryside. Such forms of environmental neglect and disrespect are simply unacceptable. A firm and decisive approach to this problem will be proposed to this Honourable House in this Session.

Another environmental issue My Government will seek to address in this Session is the disposal of waste oil products. At present, only a very small percentage of such products used in the Province are being recycled, while the remainder enters the environment through road oiling, landfilling and other means. My Government is exploring opportunities for alternative disposal practices as well as means of encouraging recycling where feasible.

Another pervasive waste management issue is that of beverage container disposal. Over the past number of years, My Government has become increasingly concerned with the problem of general litter and, specifically, the extent to which beverage containers contribute to this problem. Some measures have been mounted by industry to deal with this matter, including a thrust towards recycling. Following a careful review of the progress made, however, My Government has concluded that new approaches and direct government action will be necessary to address this persistent problem. To this end, My Government intends to act definitively with the introduction this Session of legislation to control the use and disposal of packaging in general, and specifically to reduce the littering of beverage containers and to encourage their recycling where economically feasible. In taking these actions, My Government is cognizant that a new regulatory system for container waste management could have certain undesirable effects on industry and consumers if it is not developed in a sensitive and practical manner.

My Government has also recently evaluated the impact of all-terrain vehicles on our environment, with a view to identifying measures to mitigate their negative impacts, particulary in sensitive areas such as wetlands. To date, environmental controls or legislation governing the use of these vehicles has been minimal. My Government believes the time has come to address this problem and therefore intends to introduce, in the near future, appropriate regulatory controls on those all-terrain vehicles that pose the greatest threat to our environment. This will be accomplished in a manner which is sensitive both to traditional patterns of use of these vehicles for commercial, industrial and recreational pursuits, and to the needs of the environment.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Our system of provincial parks which extends across the Province serves to protect and preserve important aspects of our flora and fauna and provides extensive recreational opportunities for our people. The parks system is also an integral part of the Province's tourism infrastructure. My Government feels it is an appropriate time to take stock of our provincial parks system, to refocus it, and to chart positive new directions. To this end, My Government will be taking immediate steps to establish an internal Task Force on Provincial Parks. Its mandate will be to develop, in consultation with various interested groups, a master plan for the parks system as a whole. In Labrador, My Government will seek to advance this objective by indicating to the Government of Canada that it is prepared to participate, in conjunction with the people of Labrador, including native groups, in feasibility studies for the possible establishment of national parks in the Torngat Mountain and Mealy Mountain areas.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

I am very proud of My Government's concern for and commitment to preserving the environment of our beautiful Province. The initiatives I have outlined are indicative of the strength of this concern and signal a new era of environmental awareness in this Province.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government recognizes the important link between economic and social policy. Nowhere is it more significant than in the field of education.

As My Government indicated at the beginning of its mandate, it is committed to reform of our educational system which would see both the allocation of additional resources and a significant redeployment of existing resources to the areas of greatest need within the system. The first significant step in this process was the appointment of the Royal Commission on the Delivery of Programs and Services in Primary, Elementary and Secondary Education. The Commission will soon be reporting and My Government is confident that it will provide the basis for this fundamental reform.

My Government has consistently stated that the school tax would either be abolished or reformed. The existing school tax is most regressive in its burden, wasteful in its collection and unfair in its distribution. As My Government has already announced, this tax will be abolished and replaced by a more equitable means of taxation and revenue distribution. Legislation to give effect to this will be introduced in this Session.

My Government is also reviewing other facets of our education system to ensure that the rights and responsibilities of students, parents and school boards are relevant to today's environment. To this end, My Ministers are currently examining the existing Schools Act to identify possible areas where improvements and reform are warranted.

On a personal note, I wish to express the view that our greatest resource - and indeed our greatest hope for the future - is our young people. Unfortunately, the extent to which they are dropping out of high school prematurely is undermining their ability to equip themselves educationally for their future. As I travel throughout the Province and meet with as many young people as possible, I will encourage them to complete their high school education, and to continue their studies at the post-secondary level so they will be prepared for the challenges of today's world.

These initiatives will, collectively, help ensure the future education of our children.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

As I stated earlier, My Government fully recognizes the difficult economic times being endured by the Province and indeed the entire country. It is critically important that we maintain our social safety net during this period. Low income families and single parents often need help in providing the necessities of life. Housing is one of these necessities. My Government has recently approved a long term plan for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. A critical component of this plan is continued assistance for people who cannot afford housing on their own. The Corporation will continue to ensure that people who do not have sufficient personal resources are not deprived of an acceptable place to live.

Jobs are being lost every day as a result of the recession and the restructuring being undertaken by employers. My Government, in conjunction with the Government of Canada, will continue various adjustment programs now in place to assist displaced workers.

One of our most important social programs is the Workers' Compensation system. The integrity of this system is being fundamentally threatened because of a rapidly escalating unfunded liability. My Government has now received the Report of the Statutory Review Committee and has consulted widely with employer and employee groups on its recommendations. My Ministers are considering proposals to address this problem and restore the integrity of the system. You will be asked to make the changes in law necessary to achieve this objective.

Coupled with initiatives that are focused on restoring the financial integrity of the Workers' Compensation Program, My Government plans to embark on new initiatives in the occupational health and safety field. Details will be announced in this Session of the House of Assembly.

Unfortunately, family violence and child abuse continue to be major social problems. The Hughes Commission Report will soon be released and hopefully its recommendations will go a long way to assisting My Government and society in general in addressing what is clearly an insidious social problem. As further evidence of its commitment to the protection of innocent children, My Government will be presenting a new Child Welfare Act to this Honourable House of Assembly this Session. The new legislation will be the culmination of a consultation process that has included widespread public and professional input. This legislation is long overdue; however, when completed, it will fully reflect current professional practice and philosophy in the area of child welfare and protection.

My Government is convinced of the need, and has demonstrated through last year's Budget its willingness, to spend our health care dollars more effectively. The constant emergence of new health care technology and the changing societal demographics dictate the need for new and innovative approaches to health care delivery. My Government is committed to improving the quality of health care to residents of the Province through economies of scale, the judicious use of new technology, and the maintenance and development of highly skilled health care professionals. My Government also supports a sound community health care system where the necessary supports are made available directly in local communities. To this end, My Government intends to establish Regional Community Health Boards across the Province which will be responsible for the delivery and co-ordination of all community based services. My Government has appointed a Task Force, with representation from all involved groups, to advise on the implementation of this very positive initiative.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

Constitutional discussions on the future of our country have intensified over the past twelve months with the release of the Government of Canada's twenty-eight proposals for renewal of the Canadian federation, the appointment of the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee, the establishment of provincial and territorial consultative committees, and the series of national policy conferences held across the country. The Special Joint Parliamentary Committee submitted its report a few days ago.

My Government has participated constructively in this process by establishing a provincial committee to hear the views of the citizens of this Province and through appearances before the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee as well as the national policy conferences. While My Government remains convinced that a Constituent Assembly is the most appropriate process to achieve a national consensus on a renewed and unified Canada, My Government's participation in the established process demonstrates its commitment to contribute positively to the achievement of a lasting resolution that fairly accommodates the legitimate aspirations of Canadians in all regions of the country.

In the national discussions which will ensue from the current processes, My Ministers intend to work vigorously for constitutional change that reflects a number of fundamental principles. In this regard, My Government believes that Canada has a national identity more than the sum of its parts; that every citizen is equal to every other citizen; that every province is equal in its status and rights as a province; that all governments should be obligated to promote equal opportunities for all Canadians and the reduction of social and economic disparities within the country; that Canada is a nation founded on the basis of two languages, two cultures, and two legal systems which should be appropriately recognized in the Constitution; and that the right of aboriginal Canadians to preserve their culture, language and way of life within their lands and to self-government within those lands should be similarly acknowledged in the Constitution. While equality of citizens and provinces are cornerstones of these principles, that does not mean that all constitutional provisions for our citizens and provinces must be identical. There can be different provisions to accommodate the legitimate concerns of different parts of the country, but those different provisions must result in fair and balanced treatment for all Canadians wherever they live, and regardless of their racial origin or language.

My Government is committed to a strong, united Canada. The constitutional problems that beset the nation today must be resolved expeditiously to ensure future economic prosperity and social well-being for both Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador. Accordingly, shortly My Government will lay before you the Report of the Provincial Constitutional Committee and use that document as a guide in the weeks and months ahead in its discussions with the other provinces and the Government of Canada as we seek to achieve a successful resolution of our Constitutional problems.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

My Government plans to place a number of important pieces of legislation before you this Session in addition to the legislative measures to which I have already referred. During the last Session, My Government introduced a most significant piece of legislation to reform the overall process of electing Members to this Honourable House and the financing of elections. You did not have time to complete your consideration of this legislation, but one of your Committees has done substantial work in the meantime. You will again be asked to pass this important piece of legislation.

A full listing of My Government's legislative agenda for this Session of the House of Assembly will be tabled at the earliest opportunity so that all Honourable Members can properly prepare for the upcoming proceedings.

During the course of this Session, you will also be asked to grant supply to Her Majesty.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

During the public consultation process of My Government's Strategic Economic Plan, the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Development Council stated, and I quote: "For too long the ship of state has been left to the mercy of the winds, blown hither and yon on an unchartered ocean rife with navigational hazards of every description. Now, more than ever before, we need a strong hand on the tiller, a captain with his or her wits about them, and a crew more or less in agreement as to the eventual destination," unquote.

The people of this Province gave My Government a mandate for change -- one involving renewal and revitalization of our society, our economy and the way in which government itself operates. My Government has responded to this challenge in a positive and decisive manner. A clear direction for the future is being charted to guide us carefully around the perils of chance toward open seas of opportunity and a brighter horizon. My Ministers are committed to continue on this course and, as the Rural Development Council so aptly stated, to keep a firm hand on the tiller towards a healthy future for the whole of our society and the generations to come.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Honourable House of Assembly:

I invoke God's blessing upon you as you commence your labours in this Fourth Session of the Forty-first General Assembly. May Divine Providence guide you in your deliberations.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Election Financing."

Motion, the hon. the Government House Leader to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Election Financing", carried. (Bill No. 55).

On motion, Bill No. 55 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor has been pleased to make a speech to the Members met in General Assembly, and for greater accuracy I have obtained a copy. Copies of the speech will be presently distributed to all hon. members.

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am honoured to have this occasion to rise and propose that a Committee of this hon. House be appointed to draft an Address in Reply to the gracious speech delivered by his Honour.

I take this time to extend best wishes to his Honour on his first address to the people of this Province, and also to extend a warm invitation to him from the people of Labrador. I hope that he will be able to visit this great land in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, for the rest of the twenty minutes that I have I want to focus on some of the hallmarks of this Government; to acknowledge our performance and our plan in three central areas, and to conclude by looking at my district of Eagle River and our vision for the future.

The most prominent feature and hallmark of this Government has been fairness - fairness that the people of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador have been treated the same, regardless of their demographics; regardless of where they live; and regardless of their political representation. This is a quality that is welcomed by all of the people all of the time.

Compassion is another hallmark of this Government; compassion that has been demonstrated to the most disadvantaged of our society - the people who have been abused. The people who have had trouble through no fault of their own have found that this Government has been there for them. Certainly in the Speech from the Throne today, to know that a new Child Welfare Act is forthcoming is also very welcomed news indeed for the people to have to get this kind of attention.

Fiscal responsibility is a third hallmark of this Government. All too often governments get elected and feel that they have the hand on the public purse, and that it must be exercised to solve each and every problem. However, we know from past experience and also from recent experience by other governments in this country that you cannot - you cannot - spend your way out of a recession. You cannot solve all of your problems by throwing money at them, and I believe that the people of this Province have given us great marks for meeting standards in health and education without sacrificing our next generation.

Mr. Speaker, another very important hallmark of this Government is reform, reform for the sake of seeing it done for the accountability that it gives to the democratic process. We have seen this reform accentuated in a new Elections Act, in a new Auditor Generals Act, and, Mr. Speaker, we have also seen this reform expressed by giving full audio coverage to this hon. House of Assembly and our full support for the eventual television coverage of our proceedings. We have seen that this Government is dedicated to providing that open Government and that kind of attention that is focusing on real problem solving for a better tomorrow.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we have seen a prominent hallmark of this Government to be the defender of the Province's best interests. We have seen through the constitutional debate strong decisive leadership that has directed its attention at solving a long-term problem that has seen our Leader exercise opinion that has been embraced by the nation, opinion that has been received as the kind of change that is necessary to eventually solve the inequality that exists amongst our provinces, and that is why our position for a Triple E Senate is so important and is such a strong part of our constitutional position, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: In acknowledging our performance and plan I want to focus on three areas, the fishery, the environment, and economic development. Mr. Speaker, I will reiterate what has been reiterated for some time in the past, that we have no management control over our fishery, we have no real input into how our fishery is being managed, we have no real opportunity, because of the steadfast position of the federal government, to secure that control over our vital resource.

This resource is in trouble. It has now been recognized not to be in trouble only for Newfoundland and Labrador, only for Canada, it is now being recognized to be in trouble for the whole world. A vital resource has now been documented to be on the verge of collapse, the northern cod. It is to such a situation where we are really playing Russian roulette with the future of so many lives, the future of so many people who depend upon this vital resource, but, Mr. Speaker, what has our Government done? Has our Government sat by and idly accepted this must be the way? Have we said to the people of this Province that we do not believe that this is our most important resource, the most important sector of our economy? No, Mr. Speaker, we have performed impeccably, we have put forward the ideas that will solve the problem. Our Minister and his Department, and the Premier, have taken this issue and taken it to the Prime Minister of this country, and I certainly know they will be taking it to the people of this nation to let them know that this is Newfoundland and Labrador, to let them know that the foreign overfishing problem has to be addressed, and it has to be addressed in a meaningful way.

We can do it, Canada can do it. The Prime Minister has shown before, and we do not doubt him, that he wants to deliver prosperity for Newfoundland and Labrador as he does for other parts of this Country. We do not doubt him, Mr. Speaker, but we all know that on the fishery, yes, they can deliver, they can exercise custodial management of the Nose and the Tail of the Grand Banks, to be able to rid ourselves of the destruction that is presently underway on the northern cod.

Mr. Speaker, we have also taken the lead when it comes to dealing with the problem of the sealing population. It is certainly no surprise to anybody, that once the harvest stopped some years ago the population still kept going and it has now reached the point where it is having a significant detrimental effect upon the life and the growth of our fishing resource. We are saying that, yes, there is a problem, but it must be dealt with, again, in a constructive and reasonable way. It must be dealt with to see that at the end of the day we do not destroy that particular aspect of our oceans, but we do see a reasonable level of seals in our oceans so that the fish stocks can recover and we can have a reasonable harvest of northern cod.

We have said time and time again that our interests in the Newfoundland fishery, the interests of our adjacent resources, must be protected. In our Commissioner's Report some time ago, the non-Newfoundland users of our northern cod were documented and it clearly showed that at this point in time the principles of the Ground Fish Management Plan have not been applied. Adjacency and historic dependency of coastal communities have not been implemented because, Mr. Speaker, we are still not getting the access to our adjacent fishery stocks that we deserve and that our people desperately need at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, what we have done in the fishery is only what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have come to expect. We have demonstrated political will, we have provided strong leadership, and we have seen ideas. The most fundamental of these ideas, of course, is the joint management, the Newfoundland/Canada Management Board. This is something, Mr. Speaker, that has been accepted by the people of this Province as a reasonable approach, not to embrace jurisdiction, to sacrifice and bankrupt us, because we just cannot do it, but to have that necessary input to give that local sensitivity, to give that kind of fairness to our own people. That is why we have asked for the joint management of the fishery. I believe that if this was implemented, Mr. Speaker, there would be absolutely no doubt that there would be greater economic benefits derived from our fishery and greater management control over the growth of those stocks. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, we would be much more accountable for our actions.

On the environment: As all hon. members have heard, and the people of this Province have just heard, this Government is reaching and entering into a new era of environmental consciousness in this Province. More funding is going to be dedicated to seeing that our Province's environment - the richness, the vastness, the beauty - particularly the beauty of the Mealy and Torngat Mountains in Labrador that we will see some day put into national parks.

Mr. Speaker, we are going to see legislation put in place to clean up this great land, to see a recycling program put in place so that we are not wasteful, so that we are prudent users of the land and certainly that we have the highest respect for it.

We are going to see I believe through these measures and others a greater consciousness raised on the environmental destruction of our oceans and that is something that has to be done. It is not acceptable for us to be just looking out there, and the only picture we can see is the blue-green ocean. We have to start becoming more conscious of what is happening underneath that water, what is happening with the destruction of that ocean floor, and what is happening to the growth and prosperity of those fish stocks that our people depend on.

I believe that if people were to see what is presently there, if people could see the damage that has taken place on the ocean floor because of those big trawlers, the unbelievable harvesting capacity that has happened, if people could see the shape of our ocean floor I believe they would recoil. I believe they would say this is unacceptable. I believe it is incumbent upon this Government, and I know that we are going to do our best to see that that story is told, and that action to correct that problem is taken, so that we do have the beautiful ocean floor and the flourishing fish species in our adjacent waters that we depend on, the same way as we look to our parks, lakes and rivers and forests for our enjoyment. I think that the people will expect us to do nothing less for our oceans and our ocean floor.

On economic development: As the Throne Speech clearly pointed out, this Government did not take a laissez-faire attitude towards the economy. We have just not sat back the last three years and said: let's see what happens and let's hope that there will be a better tomorrow. We have been pro-active, we have put our ideas on paper for the first time ever. We see a plan being put before us that will lead to economic prosperity. We will see, for instance, for the first time ever, that a plan is going to be put in place for the completion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. A project that will eventually add more to the Provincial economy than any other project that I can see in the near and immediate future. The people of Labrador expect this service and this Government is going to deliver.

New businesses of course have to be created, and again Government has a role to play. As the plan clearly accentuates, we will see major tax reform that will be directed towards stimulating that economic development and towards getting that industrial component of our economy moving as it should. We will see, Mr. Speaker, a greater restructuring of services throughout this Province to give that local sensitivity. We will see Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador being built on because it has been received as a wonderful concept and a great vehicle for assisting small and medium-sized businesses and giving local sensitivity to business development throughout this Province. That is the kind of example we have set, the kind of plan we have laid out and, Mr. Speaker, the final strategic economic plan to be tabled, I am sure, will be as welcome as the draft was. As the people who came forward and made the numerous presentations to this Committee received it, I believe that the people will be happy to see that rhetoric has been displaced with a plan, that a vision has been put on paper, that a real economic development plan is in place with the dedicated and full support of a full, honest and credible government.

Mr. Speaker, at this time, I would like to turn to my own riding of Eagle River and say, one more time, thank you to all the voters of that riding stretching some 350 miles from the Quebec-Labrador border down to Cartwright, along the coast of Labrador, a wonderful territory but, no doubt, a harsh territory. I think, anybody who has ever gone to one of these communities, has found it overflowing with warmth and generosity, but needless to say, a lot of attention is still needed there.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that this government has been good to Eagle River. This government has been good to the people of these twenty-one communities stretched along this vast coastline. We have seen the Labrador agreement in co-operation with the federal government, put some $30 million into the economy of this district over the last three years. We have seen real significant improvement in water and sewer, local transportation and certainly in fisheries infrastructure. We have seen this government taking a pro-active look at health care and particularly at expanding health care facilities in the Labrador Straits and having a new million dollar chronic care facility to be opened this spring in Forteau. That is the kind of sensitivity we have seen this government display to the people of Eagle River.

We have seen fisheries improvements, as I indicated generally, but more particularly, we now see a new crab plant opening in Cartwright and in St. Lewis, that will create 180 full-time, meaningful jobs on the coast of Labrador, a resource that is adjacent to our shores, being processed fully on the coast of Labrador to be delivered to a market in the United States. Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of planning we have seen, the kinds of results people have expected from us, and I am happy to see we have delivered.

In tourism development, we have seen major, new agreements signed for the Red Bay facility for a multiyear plan to develop the Basque Whaling Site as an international tourist attraction that will, I believe, provide the economic stimulus to that community and the Labrador Straits, in general, that it also desperately needs. However, Mr. Speaker, while these have been great and while things have progressed really well, there are still major problems along the coast of Labrador and I just touched on three.

Income support. It is no longer acceptable, Mr. Speaker, to have our people without any income simply because a program does not fit. The Unemployment Insurance program is a welcome safety net to the people of coastal Labrador, to the fishermen of coastal Labrador. However, because it is only operating from November 15 to May 15 of each year, it leaves these people and their families without any income for eight to ten weeks each year. And because of the high cost of living along the coast of Labrador, our social services budget is just not able to provide that meaningful standard of living the people deserve.

So, I guess, if there is one big problem that we have to counter for every individual in Eagle River - and I have no doubt it applies the same way along the coast of Labrador and other parts of this Province - it is that we must devote more energy to finding that income support program that will see the people get a minimum standard of living, see that there is an incentive to work, see that there is a mechanism in place that will provide stability to the business community, and certainly, be able to generate economic growth.

The fishery. As I noted earlier, we have taken the lead. The fishery is the key to coastal Labrador and to the Eagle River District, and I guess the most fundamental aspect of the fishery that has to be countered is our access to the Northern Cod. The inshore fishery can no longer sustain our communities. The stocks have been depleted, and the migratory patterns of the inshore stock is to the point where we can only get six to eight weeks of insurable earnings from that fishery. So it is essential, it is fundamental that we get access to that Northern Cod stock.

At the present time, native Labrador fish companies that cannot operate and have not operated from the groundfish for more than ten or twelve weeks each year, have been routinely denied one pound of Northern Cod,while non-Newfoundland users, particularly Nova Scotia companies, take up to 35 per cent, some 25 million pounds of that fish, some thousand miles back to their shores for processing. We are adjacent, we are totally dependent upon the fishery for our livelihood, and we must be given a reasonable level of access to that offshore Northern Cod. I recognize that it is not a healthy stock at the present time, but I know it will recover.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, on transportation. The people from Lodge Bay north to Cartwright have no roads out. The people from these communities expect this fundamental public service, and Mr. Speaker, I believe our plan for the future must entail a Trans- Labrador Agreement that takes into consideration the extension of the highway from Red Bay north.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, that what we have seen from this government is commitment, compassion, hard work and dedication with a strategic and fundamental plan. I pledge my support to the Premier and this government to see that extended, and to the people of Eagle River, I pledge my continued hard work and diligence. Mr. Speaker, I shall conclude by thanking His Honour for his attendance here today, at the opening of the Fourth Session of the Forty-First General Assembly, and I move that an Address in Reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne be drafted by a committee of this Honourable House of Assembly.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Carbonear.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to move the seconding of the motion put forward by my colleague from Eagle River, that a select committee of the House be struck to draft an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne so graciously and articulately delivered by His Honour today.

This being the first time that I have had the opportunity to speak in the House since the passing of Joseph R. Smallwood, a great Newfoundlander, it is appropriate that I take a few moments to pay tribute to him. No one can dispute the fact that former Premier Smallwood truly loved this Province and devoted his life to serving it. He affected the life of everyone in the Province and many of us here today are beneficiaries of his hard work and dedication.

He certainly exemplified the spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador and should be an inspiration to us all.

Former Premier Smallwood had a special connection to the District of Carbonear, which I represent. Mr. Smallwood was married to a Carbonear girl. Mr. Smallwood was in Carbonear on the night of the final ballot on Confederation and many have said that the change in the Conception Bay North area from the first ballot to the second ballot may have been the determining factor which led Newfoundland into Confederation.

Although born in Gambo, he was no less a son of the Conception Bay North area and there is a warm place in our hearts for his memory.

It was he who brought us into this country of Canada. Sometimes we forget what a great country Canada is. We sometimes forget the things we have going for us as Canadians.

Being a member of the Newfoundland Constitutional Committee, I have heard the comments of people from all areas of this Province and the strong consensus of opinion is that we must strive to help keep Canada together as one nation. We, as Canadians, have different ideas on how the power structure of this country should be organized, but we all must believe in one united and strong Canada. We must believe in Canada, believe in the greatness we can achieve in this country. This should be the starting point for all our deliberations on the Constitution.

The government has provided the opportunity for residents of this Province to have input into the decision-making process, and I am sure that further opportunities will be given Newfoundlanders to speak out before any final decision is reached.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Mr. Speaker, are willing to make concessions, so that Quebec can remain in Canada and continue to preserve their distinct culture and heritage. However, Mr. Speaker, I believe that this Province and other parts of this country sometimes feel that they are on the fringe when important decisions are being made in Ottawa.

An example of a case where we, as Newfoundlanders, have been left on the fringe when decisions are being made: Look at the crisis today in our fishery. It seems no matter what the people of this Province want, the Federal Government continues to ignore us. Our present position compels us to make our own case to the rest of the country and to the rest of the world and hope that we can put enough pressure on the federal government to act.

The federal minister responsible for Fisheries and Oceans and the Prime Minister must take action to deal with the problems of foreign overfishing and the massive seal population. They cannot, Mr. Speaker, continue to dodge these problems and put off a solution, they have to get on with it and begin to take action.

It is time to take some bolder action on foreign overfishing. The federal government cannot expect Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to lose jobs while foreigners continue overfishing as usual. This is not good enough. We have reached the point where it is urgent that action be taken immediately. The federal government cannot put it off any longer. They have to act now.

It is unacceptable that foreigners can continue to rape our fish stocks while our boats are tied up and our fishermen, in all parts of this Province, live on unemployment insurance or demeaning make-work projects It is time that they woke up and dealt with the issue. It is time that our national government stopped acting like international wimps on this particular question. It is time they realized how important the fishery is, not only to Newfoundland and Labrador, but to Canada, as a whole.

Successive governments of this Province have warned the federal government about the problem that was developing in the fishery and only now, Mr. Speaker, are they beginning to realize exactly how serious the situation is. I commend the provincial government for taking the strong initiatives they have, and I just hope that the federal government, and the Prime Minister also, begin to recognize that these fish stocks must be preserved for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, I don't have to tell Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about the importance of fish and the fishery in our Province. Every nook and cranny, I guess, from St. John's to Port aux Basques to Nain relies on the fishery. Basically, we are looking to the federal government for assistance and justice on this particular question.

Most members realize that the sealing industry played an important role in the social and economic development of the Conception Bay North area, and, in particular, Carbonear. Vessels such as the "Terra Nova" and the "Kyle", the "Finback" and hundreds of others, took fishermen from the shores of Newfoundland to the ice floes. Basically they didn't make a lot of money. But it was May, it was a time in the year when fishermen could make those few extra dollars that would help them through a spring until they were ready to go fishing in the summer, in a time when money was scarce.

It is obvious now that something has to be done about the seal population. We have to implement a responsible harvest to maintain the ecological balance that is needed. We have to be aware of the views of animal rights extremists, but we must not cater to them at the expense of the fishery of this Province. We have to plan the seal harvest so that seal products are used. We have to look for and develop new markets and uses for our pelts. We have to look for new areas where the meat can be used to satisfy the dietary needs of the many who are hungry in this world.

I have been talking about industries that have been at the center of the Province's economic existence for centuries. I am sure most would agree that they must continue to be at the center of our economic planning for centuries to come. With this in mind, Mr. Speaker, I also make note of some new industries which exist in this Province.

The development of Hibernia is a way of reducing our level of financial dependency on the federal government. The Hibernia project will not only provide us with much needed employment but also diversify our economy and help our Province discard the have-not status that we have had too long. I am optimistic that the uncertainty surrounding the project will be dispelled in the short-term and the project will proceed to completion. As the Premier said at the signing ceremony, this project will not solve all the problems of this Province but it is the beginning of a whole new industry, one that will help contribute to the future growth and well-being of Newfoundland and Labrador. A large portion of our population, Mr. Speaker, looks to the development of offshore oil as well as to the development of the Lower Churchill as possibly the two major projects that will boost the economy of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I spent a portion of my life as a construction worker and I know what a project the size of the Lower Churchill would mean to thousands of individuals and to the economy generally. I worked on the Upper Churchill and I can assure you as well as all hon. members that the opportunities provided by that project greatly influence my life and a great many others like me. We must continue for an agreement to begin this massive project, for coupled with the Hibernia project it will certainly play a major role in bringing a certain amount of prosperity to our Province. I am sure the Premier and the Minister of Energy will represent this Province well in their efforts to get this project started.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the Government recognized the importance of education to the social and economic future of this Province. Bringing ourselves to a standard where we can compete with other areas of the world is essential to maintaining and increasing our standard of living in the future. In today's fast paced knowledge based economy the education we provide our citizens will determine our ability to compete. It is important that we continue to strive towards better social programs that better meet the needs of our people. We have to re-examine the ways we spend money to ensure that people in need are getting a satisfactory level of service, and I think we are doing that, Mr. Speaker.

The same principle should apply to health care as well. A person living in Salmon Cove, Joe Batt's Arm, or Adam's Cove in my district, deserve to get the same quality of care as somebody living in St. John's or anywhere else in the Province.

Even though economic conditions in the Province sometimes force us to think of our immediate needs, the Constitution and keeping Canada together still demands our attention. It is with this in mind that our people will realize that the Premier of our Province must remain actively involved in discussions related to our constitution. The question of Senate reform, distinctiveness for Quebec, the new economic and social agenda that this country has accepted, and the rights of our aboriginal people, will demand our attention in the upcoming months.

Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province have seen hard times before. It is not the first time. We have had to weather it before and I think, personally, we will weather it again. Newfoundlanders, Mr. Speaker, are survivors. We are a tough breed and I think our history shows that. The challenges before us today will require strong leadership and we in this Chamber must rise to these challenges. This Government has faced these challenges with great vigour since being elected. Our honest and sensible administration has been noted by the people, as evident in the latest public opinion poll. I am confident that we on this side of the House will continue to provide good Government - and I am going to be here - providing good Government to this Province for decades to come.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did not take up as much time as my hon. colleague from Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: But being from Labrador, and I think everyone in this House recognizes that Labrador is a very, very important part of this Province, and rightfully so - he should go his twenty-five or thirty minutes.

With this in mind, it gives me great pleasure to second the motion made by my hon. colleague from Eagle River.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, as much as I am tempted to respond to some of the bait thrown across the House by members opposite, I do have to make one comment on a little insertion, I suspect, that the Member for Carbonear made in his speech when he made reference to a recent public opinion poll. The comment I want to make is that they have only been in office over there for three years and already they are beginning to act like we did when we were there for seventeen. I remember in the latter days, in fact, when the election was called in April of 1989, I believe we had some pretty impressive numbers in terms of a public opinion poll, but three weeks later we lost the Government. So keep you feet on the ground and all the rest of it.

First of all I want to join with those who have already spoken and who expressed their best wishes and congratulations to his Honour, the Lieutenant- Governor because it is, after all, his first Throne Speech. He delivered a rather lengthy speech very, very well. I think we were all impressed as members. I might say that his Honour and I have something in common. This is my first Throne Speech as well, as Leader of the Opposition, so I hope I can perform as well as his Honour did, Mr. Speaker.

There are a few formalities on this day, and interjections is not normally one of them; but if members opposite wish to participate in that, that is fine. I look forward to it.

I will comment and compliment the mover and seconder of the motion, the Member for Eagle River, who we all recognize as an individual who speaks out loudly and clearly on behalf of his constituents in Eagle River. In fact I sometimes wonder why certain people do not seem to recognize the talents that the Member for Eagle River has, as we recognize and as his constituents do. He does a tremendous job, and he spoke today from the heart, and spoke on behalf of his people and the people he represents, and I commend him for it.

The Member for Carbonear too should receive some commendation, and I pass that on as well on behalf of the members on this side.

I would be remiss if I did not quickly welcome the representatives of church and state before they leave the Legislature. I know it has been a long afternoon just sitting there and listening, but I trust they will stay and listen just a tiny bit longer at least. It is nice to see them, and it is nice to see people in the galleries, and distinguished visitors and senators and so on. It is nice to have them all here. I think it adds to the decorum of the day.

I too would like to pay tribute to Mr. Smallwood, the former Premier. This is the first opportunity we have had, because Mr. Smallwood passed away, I think it was December 17, so our Legislature had closed. I would like to pass along belated sympathies and condolences to the Smallwood family. I am not going to try to repeat, or go into detail about all those things that the late Premier did. There is a gentleman here in the front row of the visitors - not the visitors section - but on the floor of the House, the former Lieutenant-Governor, who was very closely associated and would be more familiar with this than most of us. But I think we should recognize Mr. Smallwood's contribution. I pass along belated condolences to the Smallwood family and to the friends.

Another very quick formality would be to wish the new ministers - well they are not exactly new, except for one. Actually, he is not quite new either, come to think of it, but the new ministers in their new portfolios - let us put it that way - and wish them well in their portfolios. I will remind them as well that we have a responsibility on this side to hold them accountable, and we will continue to do that to the best of our ability.

I want to welcome back the Minister of Environment who has, as we all know, not been feeling very well. She has been ill for several months, and it is nice to see her back. I trust that she will be with us for a long time to come, at least until the next election, and that she will retain good health for all of that period of time and in the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, one final formality. The Member for Naskaupi is not here, but I know that last October he had intended to retire from politics, and I said some words then to wish him good health and good wishes in his retirement. Subsequent to that, he decided to stay around for a few extra months and has publicly indicated his intention to retire next month in April, so I want to take advantage of this opportunity to wish him well in his retirement as well. He has served the people of Happy Valley - Goose Bay for many years in many capacities in the public service and in politics.

Mr. Speaker, I guess the most impressive words I heard, to be quite frank - well, it was a close second, but the most impressive words I heard in the Throne Speech today were the words of His Honour himself when he made reference and a plea, I guess, without reading it verbatim, for young people to continue their education and to stay in school. I think the Minister of Education would have been very appreciative of those words when he heard them. I certainly was. I think that is something that bears repeating, and I want to repeat it. I think it is good advice and I trust that our young people around the Province will take that advice.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the close second, I have to admit, was a bit of tongue in cheek, I suppose. It was the one near the end of the Throne Speech, and I will only read part of it where it said: "Now, more than ever before, we need a strong hand on the tiller, a captain with his or her wits about them," --

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: -- "and a crew more or less in agreement".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: That describes certain events and situations very aptly I believe, Mr. Speaker. No doubt those words were written by the Premier himself sheltered in some cove last July when he was sailing on his yacht. I can see him now writing down the words: " with their wits about them, and a crew more or less in agreement as to the eventual destination".

AN HON. MEMBER: Rough waters.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: So there are some very interesting quotes, both those in the Throne Speech and read by the Lieutenant-Governor. There are certain things in the Throne Speech itself which I would like to make reference to, but today is not really the appropriate time to do it. After all, this motion we are debating is simply the motion to set up a committee to draft an Address in Reply. So we will have more of an opportunity in the Throne Speech debate if the Government House Leader has any intention to call it for debate. I presume he will give us a few days. And we will have some opportunities, perhaps, in the days ahead to debate some of the things in the Throne Speech.

I have to say, there was one bit of material in the Throne Speech that sort of jumped out at you. There seemed to be a fair bit of emphasis or commentary on the environment, all of sudden, it was mentioned two or three times. When you consider that for the last two years of this administration's budgets the funding for the environment department was cut, it is now rather interesting to see all the emphasis being placed on environmental matters, no doubt important issues and important matters, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I did not see one bit of solid evidence where this government intends to take some action to deal with the situation that we face now, immediately, and that our people are facing all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. There were no intentions very clearly stated to the best of my knowledge, no clear indication, and that is rather a shame, Mr. Speaker, because today without question we are facing probably one of the most critical periods in our history.

This session of the Legislature should be one of the most important sessions that we have faced in decades, Mr. Speaker. Because all of the important issues that have been touched on in the Throne Speech - the Constitution, the environment - all of these other important issues are extremely important, there is no question about it.

But there is one major issue that the people of this Province are focused on and preoccupied with, and that is the issue of the economy, the issue of jobs. They are really only interested in one thing. I know, because I have travelled around the Province quite considerably over the last six or seven months, in particular. I can tell you, having held public forums and had people come forward, that they are interested in knowing how best they are going to be able to survive the situation that they face. How best to put bread and butter on the table.

They talk about all of the major situations and issues that face us. The fishery. Probably one of the worst crisis that we have faced in decades, no question about it. Thousands of people are going to be affected as a result of the downturn in the fishery. By the way, it will not simply be the fisherpersons, or the fish plant workers, but all of those thousands of others in spin-off jobs who are going to be affected. The people who provide services to the plants and to the industry itself - sell the ropes and the boats and the motors, the people who drive the trucks. There are literally going to be thousands of people affected by the situation in the fishery.

Then we have Hibernia. As much as we all want to be optimistic and positive about the future of that project - because it is important to this Province, very important, not only for Hibernia's sake itself but for the development of an offshore oil industry in the future. But as much as we want to be optimistic and positive you have to face the realities. The realities are that because of that situation, the one bright spot that we have in our economy, things are rather uncertain, to say the least. That means our own economic growth projections must also be under some cloud of uncertainty because most of the growth projections I have seen have always used Hibernia as the major reason for the growth projections. Again, there are hundreds of people there, maybe over a thousand in total with spin-offs, who are going to be affected, going to lose their jobs for whatever period of time.

We all know the situation in the mining industry - it is not very good. We all know the situation in the forest industry - it is having its very serious problems dealing with the marketplace and the rest of it. This Government itself, as a result of its own budgetary actions last March, eliminated, I suppose, in excess of a couple of thousand jobs, probably more when you consider the spin-offs and all the rest of it. So direct layoffs as a result of this Government's own economic decisions. Bankruptcies are up, unemployment is up, as we all know. Social assistance caseloads are probably way up. So the point is, it is not a very easy time for our people who are negatively affected by the downturn in the economy, to find alternate employment. In fact, it is extremely difficult, even at the best of times. But this is the reality that we face as a province.

I want to say this, by the way, right at the outset, and I want to acknowledge the situation that we face. I know it is not easy. I understand that it is a difficult chore. Perhaps today it is more difficult than it was even back in the days of the Great Depression that our friend the Minister of Finance referred to some months back. Because at that time Newfoundland found itself at the mercy of its creditors. Indeed, as a country we lost our status as a result of the Great Depression. So I accept and acknowledge that it is an enormous challenge and an enormous task that the Government faces. It would be for any government. I want to make that clear right at the outset.

But having said that, it is also clear that the people want action, there is no question about it in my mind. They no longer want to hear the words, like words in the Throne Speeches and things of that nature, they want action, Mr. Speaker. I can tell the Premier and the Government Ministers and you, Mr. Speaker, what people have been telling me over the last six months. This is their perception, whether right or wrong, and I am going to tell the House today some of the things that people have been saying and what they feel.

They feel, for example, that the Government, their Government, does not seem to be trying to help in the situation that we face. They say they are tired of hearing the Government's answer when they are asked a question, that answer being: What can we do?. They say they are tired of seeing their leaders throwing their hands up in the air and saying: We can't do anything. They say they have seen very little evidence of any significant effort over the last three years to intensely and aggressively deal with our economic circumstances. This is what they say. They say they want the 'real change' that they were promised in 1989, whatever that was supposed to be. They say they want the Government to put people first in all of its decision making. That is what they say, Mr. Speaker, wherever you go. Obviously it is time to live up to that responsibility. They want the Government, in fact, to change its approach. They want actions, they want positive strategies that will deal with the difficult economic circumstances that lie ahead, and develop and present economic stimulation.

So, the real challenge then to the Government is to bring forth a realistic plan in this session, a plan for the present as well as a plan for the future, Mr. Speaker. That is what is required and that is what we need from the Government, not pie-in-the-sky promises, not a regurgitation of old ideas like those contained in the House Royal Commission Report of four or five years ago. That would be indefensible. They want this Government to come forward with a creative, imaginative and well thought out plan to deal with the situation that exists here in this Province today as well as the long term. The kind of plan, by the way, Mr. Speaker, promised in the Government's first Throne Speech, three years ago on May 24, 1989. It is rather interesting to hear it used similarly again today. And you talk about repetition in Throne Speeches!

Here was the quote, May 24, 1989, three years ago: "My Government is at this moment - three years ago - "in the process of establishing an economic recovery plan, the details of which will be announced shortly." Mr. Speaker, as this Government enters the fourth year of its mandate next month, I fear - and I say this sadly - that the people are still waiting.

Now let me say also, Mr. Speaker, that if the Government brings in such a plan as I have outlined briefly here today, and if it is positive and beneficial to our people, I can say, on behalf of the Opposition - I cannot speak for the member down in the corner, but I can say on behalf of the Opposition - that we are prepared, Mr. Speaker, to throw our full support as a party and as an Opposition behind any Government program that will respond significantly and positively in providing the desperately needed assistance that our people need.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: So we plead with the Government to do just that. We assure them of our co-operation and our support if indeed, as I say, it is going to be positive. In fact, Mr. Speaker, if it is positive and beneficial not only will we support it but we will be quite prepared to promote it. So I say that to the Premier in all sincerity.

It is clear, Mr. Speaker, that the time for blame - even the Premier acknowledges this, although I still hear a bit of it and I am sure I will hear a bit more - and the time for promises and the time for words really is over, and it is time now for a concrete plan, a strategic plan, to address the immediate situation. A plan of action is what is required now.

Mr. Speaker, I could not conclude my remarks without making some reference to perhaps the issue that presents the greatest challenge to us as a Province in securing a long-term future for our people, and that is the fishery, the resource that has been the cornerstone of our economy for the last 400 or 500 years. For centuries it has been the cornerstone of our economy, and it remains the only real, substantial economic basis for survival for hundreds of our communities throughout the Province. Dr. Harris's words in fact, from his report, are words to that effect.

Mr. Speaker, as a party and as an Opposition, we agree, and we have said for many years on many occasions, that the foreign pillage of our Northern Cod stocks must be stopped. We agree. We have said that. We agree, and we have also made suggestions, that the Canadian fishery must be managed in such a way that it allows for the regeneration of the stocks to a healthy level that can maintain a fishing industry for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from Cape Chidley to Cape St. Mary's. We have said that and we agree.

We agree that we must keep pressure on the federal government, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that Canadian management standards in the fishery aimed at conservation avail both inside, as well as outside, the 200 mile limit. We agree with those who say it may be absolutely essential to extend jurisdiction to accomplish this. If that is so, then sobeit. We agree and we support it, Mr. Speaker. But I have to say that it is this government, the Government of this Province, that has the most direct responsibility to look after the Province and the interests of its people. That is why it was elected, otherwise you have people asking questions, why do we have a Department of Fisheries? What does it do? You hear those kinds of questions.

Now, Mr. Speaker, is not the time for rhetoric, as my friend from Eagle River referred to earlier. It is no time to use people as pawns in political battles. It is no time for one-upmanship, and it is no time for depending solely on Ottawa. The Premier, himself, when he was elected leader of the Liberal Party, back in June, 1987, not even five short years ago, said, 'Liberals will not sit idle and do nothing until the federal government is embarrassed to come to our rescue. Liberals will never do that. We have to stop blaming our problems on others and start coping with them ourselves.' Mr. Speaker, once again, as often is the case, I am in total agreement with those words of the Premier.

This Legislature, this House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, is the one that is chiefly responsible for protecting the interests of the Province and for serving the wellbeing of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. But I also agree, and I suggested this a number of months back, as the Premier will recall, no doubt, that we do need to more aggressively draw attention to the situation that now exists and to the fact that what is happening now with respect to our fish stocks is a major world ecological and environmental problem. We do agree with that. We have heard him say it and we support him, because, Mr. Speaker, if something is not done, and done fairly soon, we stand on the brink of seeing one of the world's major food sources, and up until now one of the most durable food sources, absolutely devastated.

I agree, as I heard in the Throne Speech, that we need to inform the people of Canada, the people of the United States, and the European communities, we have to tell them about the damage that foreign fishing is doing to our resource, that we need action from their governments.

Mr. Speaker, because this issue is of such vital importance then, I believe that the government and the Opposition sides of this Legislature should put aside any differences they have and co-operate jointly in any kind of undertaking that might help bring a message to those people we have referred to, including, in particular, the Canadian taxpayers, because it is the Canadian taxpayer who will perhaps, and can perhaps, have the most influence in changing the attitudes of the leaders, the politicians federally and the bureaucrats in order to get these people to take action that will help conserve that resource.

I was never so convinced of that position as I was on Tuesday, when I saw our own Minister of Fisheries, being interviewed by CBC Newsworld, late in the afternoon, and when I saw the interview, I couldn't believe my ears because it was so clear that the interviewer, the journalist, was not very familiar with the issue, did not truly understand it, and this is a journalist working on Newsworld, who has access to all kinds of research, so, if they do not truly and fully understand it - and I felt for the minister because I know he was trying to explain it but it is very difficult when you only have a few moments - but if they did not understand it, well, then, how do you expect the Canadian people to understand it, Mr. Speaker? And we need the support of those people.

So, I say again, I believe it is in the best interest of the Province, I think it would be in the best interest of the people of our Province, to take some kind of non-partisan, united front approach, embark upon some kind of an action, whatever it might be, to bring attention to this problem because it is so grave and so important. We have to tell our story, Mr. Speaker, and I don't mean simply a resolution in our Legislature or a Motion of Censure in the United Nations that I suggested, or at the meetings in Brazil or Vancouver or the Premier or the Minister of Fisheries simply going around and making some speeches. I am not talking about that.

I am talking about something of a joint nature which shows the will of all the people of the Province through their elected representatives and I am sure that the Premier understands what I am trying to say and I am saying this, it will cost money, no question about that, but if we can find the resources, Mr. Speaker, to spend tens of thousands of dollars to send the Economic Advisory Council around our Province - which is good, fine, I have no problem with it - or to send their members back to their constituencies in June of 1990 to talk to their constituents about Meech Lake; I do not know what we spent, but we budgeted, I know, $100,000 - or to have our own provincial constitutional hearings, if we can find the resources for those things, which is fine, then surely, on an issue of such magnitude and such importance to the people of our Province, we can find the resources to put a plan in place such as that which I have described. And it should be done on a non-partisan, united front approach. I think that would be the most effective.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I will leave it at that for now. Perhaps we will have occasion to discuss it or debate it, even, if you wish, some time in the future. I don't think we can afford to overlook any kind of suggestion or initiative that might be made and I simply say to the Premier here publicly today, that I would be most willing as Leader of the Opposition, and, indeed, anxious to co-operate in such an undertaking, because I think that would be in the best interest of our people.

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning, this session is probably, or should be, at least, one of the most important, if not the most important in decades, and we look forward, as an Opposition, to our government bringing forth new ideas, new policies, new initiatives, new programs, new suggestions that will help our people face the crisis - because that is what it is, a crisis. And I say again, we, in the Opposition, are prepared to co-operate in a positive way, if the government shows that it intends to provide positive actions.

Mr. Speaker, as an Opposition, it is often misunderstood by the people - and I know members opposite would know this - it is our responsibility to point out the flaws in government policy and government legislation, but it is the government's responsibility to bring forth the policies and the legislation, that is why they were elected. And, despite popular belief, if we criticize, it is not for the sake of criticizing, it is because we believe something is wrong or something needs to be fixed. That is the whole purpose of a democracy in our parliamentary system. Indeed, it is our obligation to do what we do in terms of pointing out flaws. Because the hope is, government may listen to something that Opposition says, that, in fact, there might be something productive there. And if they listen to the comments and if the comments are beneficial, then hopefully, we will have improved legislation and improved policy. That is what it is all about.

That is our role, Mr. Speaker, that is our obligation, and I say to you, to members of the House, that we, as an Opposition, will continue to diligently, conscientiously and aggressively fulfil that role on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At first, I will join with the Leader of the Opposition and extend my congratulations to His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, and pass on to the House that His Honour and I have developed a good working relationship; it works very well, and I am very pleased with the way our relationship is working. I think that augurs well for the next period of time.

I also want to offer my sincere congratulations to the Member for Eagle River and the Member for Carbonear, both of whom did a fine job, even if one was a little bit longer than the other. They both did a fine job in moving that a committee be established to draft an Address in Reply, and in seconding it.

I also want to offer my congratulations to the Leader of the Opposition, and say that if this session of the House continues in the vein indicated in his remarks, and if the Opposition is prepared to work with the government in that direction, then I think we are going to have the most productive session in the recent history, at least, of the House. I welcome his remarks and I assure him that the government will respond in kind and participate to try to find, together, the solutions that are most beneficial to the problems that beset the Province at this time.

I acknowledge, of course, at the same time, that the Opposition has another burden. I acknowledge that in the position of Opposition you have kind of a mixed burden. You have to be critical and you have a role to play in ensuring that you keep government and call government to account; at the same time you have to be responsive to the needs of the Province and be able to support and work with the government when the government is bringing forward things that are genuinely beneficial to the Province. So, I say to the new Leader of the Opposition, I acknowledge the peculiar challenge that being in Opposition is, and I welcome his kind remarks today.

Mr. Speaker, I would also express appreciation to His Honour, to the Leader of the Opposition, to the Member for Carbonear, for acknowledging the passing, since last this House sat, of the individual who, I have no doubt, will be recorded in history for many decades to come as the person who contributed most to the welfare and the good of the people of this Province, far more by a long margin, than any other person before him or upon the scene at the moment is likely to contribute. I join with them in acknowledging the terrific contribution that former Premier Smallwood made to this Province, and express my regrets at his passing.

Mr. Speaker, the Speech from the Throne gives priority of position to the fishery, as well it should. The Leader of the Opposition gave priority of position to the fishery. Because whatever else we do in this Province, whatever Hibernia's, or Terra Nova's, or Ben Nevis's we develop, whatever upper or lower Churchill's we develop, the future of this Province, for as far as anybody alive today can foresee in the future, will be substantially dependent on what we do with the fishery. And thousands and thousands of our people will depend on the fishery as a means of livelihood and the means by which they will contribute to the welfare of their families, so it must have priority of concern in everybody's thinking.

There is a certain frustration that the government has been feeling - and I know the former government felt the frustration - at seeing difficulties arise, at watching problems develop and grow year after year and not being able to do anything about it. The Leader of the Opposition is right when he says the Government and Legislature of this Province has primary responsibility to deal with the concerns of the people of this Province, but it cannot act beyond its jurisdiction. It does not have the jurisdiction or the ability to make certain of the decisions. And there is a substantial frustration, when you see the jurisdiction that somebody else has, being exercised in a manner that so adversely affects the interest of the people of this Province. That is the position that we are in at this moment with respect to the fishery. That is why, when I met with Prime Minister Mulroney two days ago in Ottawa, I laid out the case for him. My objective was to lay out the case for him for direct joint management of the fisheries by the federal and provincial governments.

We are not seeking to take over for this House, jurisdiction, which was a solution that a former government proposed. We do not think it is the right one, and I think that they will now see with us that there is perhaps a better way. That is why I spelled out for the Prime Minister the history, the 400 years of our harvesting the northern cod and our dependence on the northern cod, and the reasonably competent way in which we managed that resource, by properly harvesting an appropriate amount, by properly harvesting an appropriate portion of the predators to keep nature in balance. Because you see not even the European parliament or the parliament in Ottawa, or this Legislature can repeal the laws of nature. We must comply with those laws, and if we are going to take a portion out of nature like the cod or other fish species, we must take steps in a proper way to ensure that the predators are also properly managed to ensure that there will be a balance in nature. If we do not maintain that balance in nature, we inevitably get to the crisis that we are in today in the cod fishery. It is pretty fundamental.

So I explained to the Prime Minister how we had done it for 400 years without any major catastrophe, and in the last 40 years we have come close to disaster two or three times only to start to come back and now, today, to be in the worst position we have ever been in. I do know that the former government in the late 1970s when the federal government was giving access to the northern cod to non-traditional users, non-adjacent users, when they were abandoning the fundamental principles of sound management, the government of the day in this Province objected most strenuously to it, and I give them full credit for it, but the federal government ignored it and determined that they knew best how to manage the fishery. Those people sitting remotely in Ottawa without the knowledge and experience and background, they knew best how to manage the fishery.

I can say that over the years this Province has contributed to some of the problems by inducing or promoting an expansion of an inordinate number of processing plants, of an excessive number of fishing boats beyond that which the stock could reasonably sustain. So we are not without blemish ourselves, and step number one is to admit our own flaws and take the action necessary to correct it. I admitted that to the Prime Minister. I do know and I can say for the last three years as they became aware of how perilous the problem was becoming in the cod stocks with the depleted biomass, and with the scientific advice, that we pressured them not to set the TAC as high as they did - to take the advice of the scientists and reduce it in 1989 to about 125,000 tons, and do it for a few years in order to allow it to rebuild. They said: no, we know best how to do it. We told them the same thing in 1990 and they still said: no, we know best how to do it - we are only going to reduce it from 235 to 190. We told them again in 1981: please, in heaven's name reduce it to an appropriate amount. Follow Doctor Harris' recommendation. They said: no, we know best how to do it, we will set it at 185. It should have been less than 120.

We told them when they were changing the right to harvest in the different areas from one-third, one-third, one-third in 2J, 3K and 3L, when they wanted to change it to 20, 40 and 40 because they could catch more fish: Do not do it. You are going to destroy the stocks. But they said: no, we have the right to do it, and we know best.

They did the same thing this year, and we said to the Government of Canada, do not set a TAC of 120,000 tons. It is a paper TAC. It is not going to be caught anyway because the fish are not there. Acknowledge what you have done. You have put an effective moratorium on the directed deep sea cod fishery. By that I mean fishery directed specifically at harvesting cod. Everybody acknowledges there is an element of by-catch of cod when you direct your fishery at flounder and other groundfish species, and there has to be some. We told them, do not do it; but they still persisted.

I laid all this out for the Prime Minister the other day, and I said: now Prime Minister, the case has been made. It is an irrefutable case. We would not be in this disastrous position today if there had been joint management. How can you argue against it any longer? He said: tell me, why would we have resisted your advice? Why did we insist on having the higher TAC? I said, well I cannot speak to that. I do not know, with any degree of certainty, because it was your Ministers of Fisheries that made the decision, including the hon. John Crosbie, the current Minister of Fisheries. He is one of the ones who made the decision. So I do not know. You will have to ask them. But I can look at it, and I can see that one of the companies in particular was pressuring to keep the TAC up so that they could get more immediate access, and it was wrong. It was contrary to the interest of this Province. It may have been in their best interest, or they may have had immediate financial needs, but it was contrary to the long term interests of this Province.

I also told him that I felt the federal government was not then willing to take the responsibility for the economic consequences of the reduction, and that was equally wrong; because they rush in when they blame God for the disaster on the farms; they rush in and take responsibility to deal with the financial consequences. But when they cause the consequences by their own action they do not seem so ready to rush in if it is the Newfoundland fishery. So I think the case has been made - irrefutably made - for joint management, and I welcome the comments of the Leader of the Opposition and ask him to join with the Government in pressuring the Government of Canada to provide for joint management so that we will have an effective say.

I also pointed out to him, and he had an assistant with him who said: well Prime Minister, the real problem was that the scientists were telling our officials one thing one year. The next year the other thing, it was down. The next year it was up again, and we really did not know. I said: Prime Minister, your official has made the most eloquent case for joint management that I have ever heard, because you react to that kind of insufficient and inadequate information. You should have been listening to the inshore fishermen in Newfoundland. They know better!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: If there was joint management we would not be in this disastrous position today. I cannot say that it would be a perfect situation, I do not believe it would, because we have made our own mistakes and I have to acknowledge them. But we certainly would never have seen this disaster occur. So I am quite grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for his welcome comments today.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out to the Prime Minister, there are three problems with our fishery. Our own mismanagement is a major, major factor, and let's acknowledge it. The second one is the foreign overfishing, and we must address that problem. Now, if you listened to the news media reports what you would hear reported is that I, as Premier of the Province, asked the Prime Minister to send out the navy, and the Prime Minister, as a responsible Prime Minister of Canada said: well, we cannot operate with gunboat diplomacy and we cannot do that. Now that is the news media report.

That is utterly untrue, it did not occur. Let me tell you what did in fact occur. I pointed out to the Prime Minister that what has in fact been in place is a moratorium, it has been imposed beyond the Two Hundred Mile Limit since 1985. Not imposed by Canada. Imposed by the NAFO countries. Their collective wisdom said that stock should not be fished. They imposed a moratorium on the cod fishery out there. But the Spanish, the Portuguese, with the approval of the European Community, and the acquiescence at least of the European Community, are continuing to ravage that stock.

So I said: Prime Minister, what you have in effect done is imposed a moratorium on the directed deep-sea fishery from Canada. Now tell the world that you have done this because of the problem, and say to the world: now, if you have any sense of responsibility for the environment or the need to protect the food stocks of the world, then you must join with us in enforcing that moratorium that is outside. Not one that is arbitrarily imposed by Canada but one that NAFO has had in place for seven or eight years, and be prepared to do it.

So the news media asked the inevitable question: what if they do not stop? Would you send out the navy? I said: if you cannot protect that cod stock in the interest of the world in any other way, then yes, you must send out the navy. Now, that is the position we took. Not what you read in the news media, that I asked the Prime Minister to send out the navy and he said he did not want to do it.

I am satisfied that we also addressed, of course, the question of the seals and what must be done there. We must immediately embark on extensive research so that we can be fully informed and come to an intelligent conclusion as to just how significant an impact the seals are having and what is the most appropriate way to deal with it in a manner that will be acceptable to the nations of the world. We know from past experience that what we did in the past, or the way we harvested in the past, is not acceptable. More from the visual appearances of it - not only from the visual appearances of it - it is unacceptable by any moral standard to be going out there and taking the furs only and leaving the high-value protein on the ice with millions of starving people in the world. So we must find some means of addressing that. I spoke with the Prime Minister about that, and he is going to explore the possibility of using CIDA as a means of addressing this question.

I also spoke to him about the response program. We must put in place an income support program that will take care of the people who are displaced from the fishery and who have lost their means of income by reason of what has occurred. The Province and the Federal Government must work together to see that that is properly addressed and that we maintain a good and competent cadre of fishermen and fish plant workers, so that when the stocks recover, as they will, we will be in a position to carry on a fishery with great benefit for the whole country.

Now, one of my primary objectives was to tell the Prime Minister what we were going to do. We cannot wait any longer. Over the last - I guess we started it late in November, we have developed a program. We intend to carry on a national campaign from one end of this country to the other to alert the nation

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - as to the nature of this problem, and why the national government must take effective steps to deal both with the foreign overfishing and the seal problem, as well as our own mismanagement. It is no good trying to implement one of these solutions without the other, because the fish stocks will still not recover if the other two problems remain. You must address them all. We intend to carry on that national campaign. I advised Mr. Crosbie of that two weeks ago and I was most taken aback by his response. He thought it, unfortunately, a national attack on the federal government, and it is no such thing. It is doing just exactly what the Leader of the Opposition asked us to do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: We have engaged, Mr. Speaker - we called tenders for it some weeks ago - a national firm to work with us and develop the campaign. It will be launched, I believe, on March 17 at Globe '92 in Vancouver, and Globe '92 is the preparatory conference to prepare Canada's position for the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Brazil in June. I have asked the Prime Minister to become personally involved and to be at UNCED in June, and the basis on which I have asked him to do it, and I will now say publicly what I said to him in the privacy of his office, two days ago: Prime Minister the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador could spend several millions of dollars, if it had it; I could spend my time going around to every corner of this earth making the argument, but it would be worth 1 per cent of what you could do if you did it yourself, as Prime Minister of Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: I was even sufficiently honest to say, it is not because it is Brian Mulroney but because it is the Prime Minister of Canada, the person who should be leading this charge in the world. I am pleading with him publicly now on the floor of this House to take that responsibility and respond to the request of the government and the people of this Province, that he become so personally involved.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the burden is on me to ensure that the undertakings I have had from the Prime Minister - and I must say in fairness and must acknowledge, that I had a full and thorough hearing from the Prime Minister for an hour-and-a-half, and I express publicly my appreciation to him for his great courtesy, for his obvious deep interest. I think he has a deeper understanding now than he ever had before, and I hope that it will cause him to act in the manner we discussed during that meeting. We will be pursuing it.

Mr. Speaker, fisheries cannot be relied on as our only source of economic activity in this Province. We must rely on other things, other large projects and other small economic endeavours. Hibernia has been mentioned and I just want to briefly state that people should know that the reason why Gulf Oil withdrew had nothing whatsoever to do with Hibernia. It was all due to Gulf's own internal concerns. I don't want to be involved with discussing them in any detail, I will leave that entirely for Gulf, but they made clear to me at the time that it had nothing to do with their confidence in the project or their desire to be involved. It had everything only to do with their own financial cash flow problems. They indicated clearly that they would like to retain a portion of it if they could because they feel that confident about the project and want to be involved in the project. They had their own decisions for doing it.

I have every confidence, Mr. Speaker, that the other owners will, in due course, find alternate investors to take up the slack from Gulf. There was a regrettable and irresponsible statement yesterday by Mr. Hopper, the Chairman of Petro Canada, who, to my knowledge, has not been substantially involved in the matter for many, many, many months. He was not involved in the meetings awhile ago when we dealt with this issue. I spoke with Mr. Boroffio of Chevron. He had not spoken to Mr. Hopper for three months or so. Mr. Billings of Mobil Canada had not spoken with him in a year. So, Mr. Hopper was not speaking for the consortium when he made those irresponsible statements. I believe that the issue has now been cleared up by the comments made by Chevron and Mobil and by Mr. Epp, the federal minister and, indeed, by Petro Canada, itself since, so I do not think I need address the matter any further. But it is an important contribution to our economy.

But the greatest lesson that we should learn from it, Mr. Speaker, is the folly of banking all our future on any particular mega project. Recognize that it can and will make a significant contribution to our economy, but in terms of the number of jobs, even during the construction period, on average, it is only the equivalent of the two major fish plants on the Bonavista Peninsula. Don't forget that. It may generate more income in jobs than they will, and no doubt it will, but that is what it is. So let us keep Hibernia in perspective, it can make a significant contribution, but it demonstrates very clearly the folly of putting all our eggs in a mega project basket. It is not the right thing to do.

The government has taken a different economic approach and I am glad the Leader of the Opposition quoted from the first Speech from the Throne, in which we indicated we would establish an Economic Recovery Plan within weeks, and we did, Mr. Speaker. Within weeks we put the Economic Recovery Commission in place and embarked on it. It was what the Opposition Leader was asking for, a means of developing small and medium-sized business activity to generate jobs fairly quickly. We had that done.

Then the next thing we had to do, Mr. Speaker, and we knew it had to be done, was some long-term planning, and I can say, Mr. Speaker, as a little bit of a political aside - I think I have been nice enough up to now - I now know why, for seventeen years, the situation was, as was described by the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Development Council; this is where the quote came from in the Speech from the Throne. Now, it is unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition didn't read the sentence, the first sentence, he only read the last sentence of the quote. I now know why the Newfoundland and Labrador Rural Development Council came to this conclusion and here is the first sentence of the quote, these are not my words, these are theirs: 'For too long the ship of state has been left at the mercy of the winds, blown hither and yon on an unchartered ocean rife with navigational hazards of every description".

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, that is what the Leader of the Opposition didn't read and I now know why, they don't know the difference between long-term planning and long-term management of the economy and the immediate short-term adjustment that may, from time to time be necessary. The Leader of the Opposition, has said that what people wanted was jobs now, they want the thing done now. Well, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, seriously, not in any jibing manner, and to the people of this Province, that jobs pulled out of thin air one day go back up into thin air the next -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: - and we cannot run the Province on that basis. We have to do our long-term planning and put in place the strategic economic plan that will see this Province develop on a stable basis for a long time. Now, in the meantime, we have to address the immediate economic needs of our people. That must be done, too, and I agree with that. But, Mr. Speaker, I am starting to run a rather lengthy time so I will elaborate further in the House. We are developing that strategic economic plan and I am very happy at hearing the welcome remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, in his suggestions that he will endorse the plan. I say to him, that in the end, I think he will be happy too. Because it is receiving widespread endorsement amongst the public of this Province in their response to it. I am very pleased with that. Because it is going to take the co-operative efforts of all of us in order to respond to the economic needs of the Province.

I emphasize, Mr. Speaker, as virtually everybody did that responded to that Strategic Economic proposal, that education is the key. Education, education, education, education - and training for our people is the key, and that is where there must be emphasis. I have no doubt that the Minister of Education is going to be telling me how many times I repeated the word "education" a great number of times in the weeks and months ahead.

I say again to everybody, as I said with respect to the Economic Recovery Commission, I cannot guarantee that it will be the absolute answer. But we must try. We cannot sit back and do nothing. That is what the Leader of the Opposition quoted from my speech at the leadership convention where I was elected Leader of the Liberal Party, and I am grateful to him for that, too.

Another area where education is going to be a significant factor is in our management of the environment. Now in order to address our environmental problems in a proper way we are starting at kindergarten. The Minister is now working out proposals that will see an environmental curriculum in place in schools starting at kindergarten and going right through to Grade XII.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The more difficult educational program is going to be educating those of us who are more mature and set in our ways. That is the difficulty. Us older folk, who are so set in our ways. But we have to recognize, Mr. Speaker, that we are only lessees, we are not the owners of the land that we use and occupy while we walk this earth. We are only lessees. It belongs to the future generations and we have a responsibility to protect it for their interest. We are going to address it in the manner in which His Honour mentioned in the Speech from the Throne.

That brings me to another area of our life that is going to become more and more important. As we develop protection for our environment we will be able to demonstrate honestly and convincingly to the world just what a tremendous, pristine environment, a wilderness area, we have. Because that is what people in the crowded cities of the world, some of them with 10, 20, and 30 million people, are seeking to find.

Just think of the Japanese people, 125 million living in a land mass smaller than Newfoundland and Labrador; 85 million in Germany, living in a land mass smaller than Newfoundland and Labrador. Everybody is aware of the penchant of the German, Bavarian people in particular, for the mountains and for wilderness and for hiking. We have everything to offer. What convinces me of it is what I see happening today in Corner Brook at Marble Mountain. One of the greatest investments the former government made was its initial investment a few years ago in Marble Mountain. We have followed it up.

Now I have asked the Department of Finance people to do the assessment for me. But it would appear as though Government will recover every cent it ever invested in Marble Mountain within very few years, four or five years - in taxes alone - apart from the benefit for our people. The people who are working driving taxis, working in the hotels, restaurants, stores, the eighty-two people working directly on the ski slopes. Eighty-two jobs. When you bear in mind the small amount of money that has been invested in that, I venture to say that dollar for dollar it is by a country mile the best investment any government ever made in this Province since 1949. In terms of the return to the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now there is where we have to focus. It does not mean that we go out and put ski lifts on every hill in sight. You can get too much of a good thing. But direct it at wilderness tourism, this is where we have a future.

Mr. Speaker, as we address these problems we must also deal with two pervasive problems. One is the recession and the financial problems of Government; the other is the constitutional uncertainty that exists in this country at the moment.

I will say very little about the financial problem. That will be dealt with in the Budget, but we must stay the course that we have been on in keeping our finances in order and keeping our debt under control, and in diminishing the deficit down to acceptable proportions so that we can provide for good quality public services, not only this year, but for the years into the future, for the people who will want it we will be able to have the means available to do it.

More will be said about that in the Budget Speech, but in the meantime, Mr. Speaker, we are seeking the active support of the public sector unions. We have had several meetings with them now, and we say to them: we must address these major problems, and we must address them in the context of public sector wages because after you take out the cost of servicing the debt, over which we have no control - we must pay our interest - 75 per cent of all government operating expenditure is wage related, wage benefits. Seventy-four or seventy-five in that order. So we must address it in that context either by freezes, restraints, layoffs, or some combination of all. We must do that and we intend to.

There are encouraging signs that maybe - just maybe - the recession is coming to an end at long last. I heard some reports yesterday from the business community that car sales and car production were up in all three major producers in Canada in February, some of them up quite significantly. There are other indicators as well. The number of people stated to be available for jobs are diminishing in number. These are all good signs that it is starting to turn around. But, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to have the ultimate answer in Canada until the United States also turns around, because so much of our activity is directed at them.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the thing that we must address in this particular year - the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation - is our constitutional uncertainty. While I have not yet had an opportunity to consider in detail the Joint Parliamentary Committee, and Cabinet has not yet considered it, we will be doing so and stating our position, but I can say that I think it is quite likely that the Government will be following the basic principles that it has established, the principles His Honour read out in the Speech from the Throne. We must provide for the supremacy of the nation as a whole, that it is more significant than any part of it or the totality of any part. We must provide for the equality of our citizens and our provinces, and we must provide for the performance by government of its obligations, to its people.

Now, in the meantime, we must also be prepared to vary from that principle to whatever reasonable degree is necessary to accommodate the legitimate concerns of any particular part of the country. But in the end, Mr. Speaker, whatever we do in terms of varying must leave us with a fair and balanced nation, a constitutional structure that provides for fair and balanced treatment for all Canadians wherever they live, whatever their language, whatever their racial origin. Anything else, I believe, is unacceptable to Canadians. I am confident that we can do that. I am confident that there is sufficient goodwill in this country to enable us to do that.

We saw today, Mr. Speaker, a demonstration of the new goodwill. Not since I have been in this House, since I have been sitting in this chair, have I seen that kind of response from the Leader of the Opposition. I say to him quite sincerely, I welcome it. I assure him that I will do my part with my colleagues on this side of the House to ensure that we continue that kind of expression of co-operative effort to address fully and fairly the needs of our people in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to trespass so long on the time of hon. members. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that a select committee of this hon. House of Assembly be appointed to draft the Address in Reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne.

Carried.

 

I appoint the following members to draft the Address in Reply. The hon. the Member for Eagle River; the hon. the Member for Carbonear; and the hon. the Member for Fogo. Carried.

Notices of Motion.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, Monday and that the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: Before putting the motion to adjourn, I remind all hon. members and guests present of the reception which will take place in the main lobby immediately after the adjournment.

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