March 11, 1992                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 4


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I was caught up in a conversation with the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Mines and Energy in answers to questions in the House told us in essence that we did not any longer have eight months, as we had thought, to find new investors for Hibernia. In fact he told the House, and I quote, "decisions will have to be made much sooner than eight months." In fact he later told the press, I understand, that decisions will have to be made probably by June. I think those are his quotes, or at least the impression that is out there. That means we are getting mighty, mighty close to the deadline mentioned by our dear, dear friend, Mr. Bill Hopper, Chairman of Petro Canada, one of the partners.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's candor. We have come to expect straight answers from this particular minister, and it is indeed a rare quality of this particular government. But I want to ask the minister about the kinds of questions that will have to be asked because I think the people of this Province, because there are thousands of jobs affected, have a right to know what is going on. So I want him to be very clear in his answer if he would not mind. Is the minister saying now that if the gap left by Gulf is not filled by June, then Hibernia will either have to be mothballed or else radically changed? Are those the two options?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe I said that by June a decision will have to be made. I said I would be very concerned if by June new partners are not found. I think that is what I said. I am very concerned.

I have seen the headline too, and I am absolutely amazed at the headline and how it could be written from what was said. I think we have some time. I do not know how much time. Personally I am very optimistic about Hibernia and the future for Hibernia, and I would rather see an optimistic headline in the newspaper than one saying it is dead or something else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: I feel very positive about what is being done by the consortium partners right now, the remaining partners, in their marketing efforts.

As I said yesterday, there were meetings in Ottawa yesterday between my officials, federal officials and company people looking at the marketing. Those meetings are continuing today, and I talked to my deputy minister as late as this morning and I feel good that they are making a real effort, and I feel positive. I hope they do find somebody, and the sooner the better. I do not like the uncertainty, and I think that is the message that I was leaving yesterday. I do not like the uncertainty surrounding the project. I want a partner found. I would like to have had a partner found yesterday. I feel that every effort is going to be made, and I hope they do find someone by summer. The quicker the better. If not, well obviously then things become very serious and it is hypothetical, it is speculative and I do not really want to speculate on the negatives right now, but obviously as the partners reach certain decision points, and there are decision points in that 243 day process which we have talked about before, there are decision points when they look at the success and decide how to move and I would hope that at every step of the way the decision point is going to lead to a positive answer and that we are going to carry on with Hibernia and get it moving again on the original schedule.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we agree with the minister totally. We are optimistic and hopeful that the project will proceed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

MR. SIMMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are perhaps more so, by the way, than members opposite, let me tell you. Perhaps more so.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes we are.

MR. SIMMS: Nevertheless -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) project.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: - nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, that is neither here nor there. What we are trying to get at are the facts and the truth, that is all we are asking the minister, to be open with the people and tell us what is going on because there is absolute confusion and uncertainty, that is why I gave him the opportunity to answer the question. Did he say yesterday that if the decision by June is made to the effect that the project may not continue - is what I am saying - by the partners, if that decision is made by June, then is he saying then therefore there are only two options, the project is mothballed or that the project might be radically changed? That was the question I asked him.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know that and to the best of my knowledge June is not a decision point. June has never been a decision point and maybe I was speculating too much - by the beginning of summer I would like all of this uncertainty to be over. I want it to be over. Everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador wants the speculation to be over.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: Now if we are unsuccessful - well, I do not even want to contemplate on what that means, because if we are unsuccessful, then we have to look at the negative side and I do not want to look at the negative side. Right now I feel positive about what is being done and I am going to continue to feel positive as long as I get good news.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: That again is fine and dandy, but, Mr. Speaker, you have to consider the reality. I mean the Government must be prepared for all kinds of possibilities, surely heavens. All I am asking the minister is, what are your plans? What do you expect? What do you intend to do? What are the options? Those are the questions, but let me ask him something more specific. Have the Hibernia partners indicated that one of the options available to them for decision would be a change in the mode of development? I ask him that question specifically. In other words, have they asked the Government, you or the Premier or the Government to consider the possibility of changing from a gravity base system to a floating platform system - a specific question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member very much for that particular part of the question because that needs to be addressed. That particular part of the question has been abused by the media locally and nationally for some time recently. They have charged the former Government of Newfoundland with forcing the decision of a gravity base on the partners. That was wrong. This Government did not force that decision on the partners either. The decision was made before the Government changed. It was made for legitimate technical reasons - for legitimate technical reasons. The partners have not come to us in the last few weeks and said: we want to consider another option. They have not come to us on that. They have not suggested that. As a matter of fact, personally as a geologist familiar with the field and familiar with how productive the field can be, I would have great concerns about giving a permit to anybody to high-grade the Hibernia field, and that is what would happen in my view if it were switched to another mode of development. They could not produce the maximum amount of oil from that field. They could not produce it. It would not be possible if they went to a floating type system. They would have to high-grade the field, and that would be bad for Newfoundland resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As a final supplementary I compliment the minister for clarifying that. I would ask him in this final answer to my question at least if he would also point out that the other reasons, other than job creation for the GBS, was for safety and environmental reasons and that should be pointed out as well by the minister. I would appreciate it if he would do that in answer to this particular question. Can he confirm those others reasons were a factor?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: I would not want to say that a floating system would not be safe and secure, but there is no question in my mind that there are safety and security factors involved in going with the proven GBS mode which is well known in Norway in the North Sea. There is no question about that, but floating systems can also be safe and secure.

Another advantage of the GBS - a big advantage of the GBS relative to productivity - is that you could store about 1.3 million barrels of oil in that particular structure. That is another big factor that helps the field.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a final supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just so that there is no confusion over the issue, is the minister now saying then that the question of the potential, or possibility, of changing the mode to a floating platform for Hibernia is not an option in the government's eyes.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, it is not an option in my mind and it is not an option that has been suggested to us by the consortium. If, I suppose, in the distant future someone came to us it would have to be assessed again but, in my view, as I said in answer to my earlier question, because of the detailed structure or complexities of the Hibernia field, the need for a lot of gas injection, the need for well over 100 wells to maximize production from that field, it is not the best thing to do. It would end up with a floating system of taking out the rich pockets of oil and not taking out the maximum amount you can. So, in my view, I would not want to see any offshore board ever give a permit for that for Hibernia.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I guess, yesterday evening we saw the first negative fallout from the delay, or the downtime in the Hibernia field when Kvaerner announced they were not ready to execute a deal with the provincial government to purchase the Marystown Shipyard. The situation is very severe. As a result of that decision, people who were classified basically as permanent workers at the Marystown Shipyard for a number of years, now losing their unemployment insurance, have been turned to the welfare roles of this Province. I would like to ask the Minister of Development if he could tell the House, and, indeed, the people of the Province, what are the strategy plans, the marketing plans, the strategy for marketing products at the Marystown Shipyard in terms of vessels. Are we going to sit back and wait for people to come and ask us to bid on it or are we going to be actively out there trying to secure job opportunities?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question. He is quite right, we had meetings with Kvaerner yesterday afternoon and part of last night. We informed the public through the news media that the agreement in principle that we had reached just prior to Christmas would not be executed because the company, at that meeting, told us that they felt the delays were harmful to their corporate business decisions. I was very saddened by that, Mr. Speaker.

I also met with the union, this morning, and we had a very good discussion. The hon. member was there and he will know that the union was very responsible, this morning, in our discussions. They, too, want to pitch in and help and do everything possible to secure work for the future for that yard. During the transitory period, Mr. Speaker, we continued with our staff, the people who prepare the bids for ship construction and ship repair. That will continue now. There are three particular contracts that we are interested in. One of those is a very substantial contract, that could, if we secure it, put eighty to one hundred people to work during the life of that contract.

I should also tell the House that the Kvaerner people put some interesting ideas and suggestions forward in our discussion yesterday. I think some of those suggestions can form the basis of negotiations to see whether or not Kvaerner still has a participatory role in the Shipyard, particularly. I have instructed my negotiating team as of 12:00 p.m. today to work with them. In fact, the principles from Norway are prepared to stay here to talk about these ideas and suggestions that they put forward.

There are no guarantees. I can tell the hon. member that we are doing everything in our power to aggressively pursue whatever contracts are available. It is a very competitive industry. The people who are bidding in that shipbuilding and ship repair industry now are walking the margins, and, in fact, some are taking losses on bids. So I can only tell him that we are actively pursuing the contracts as they arise.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the union at the Marystown Shipyard, let me say to the minister, is not just responsible in this instance. They have always been a responsible union at that facility.

I would now like to direct a question to the Minister of Transportation. During the past several months we have heard the Premier of this Province on the news media and in other places yelling and screaming at Ottawa, trying to get Ottawa, the federal government, to kickstart the economy by becoming involved in transportation initiatives. Let me ask the minister: if the Premier is honest in what he is saying, can we anticipate he will practice what he is preaching, that is, to see a transportation initiative started in this Province this year, namely, the Fogo Island ferry, that has been promised on three occasions to the people of Fogo Island?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated yesterday, with respect to the Fogo Island ferry, or, indeed, any other capital works projects which could be used to kickstart the economy, those decisions will be made when the Budget is announced. We have to wait for the Budget to determine what the government's plans are with respect to that. So, no commitment can be made at this time with respect to the Fogo Island ferry, although that issue is under consideration at the present time, along with all the other issues.

I would remind the hon. member that these talks with respect to using capital works to kickstart the economy have occurred with the federal government, as well. I wonder where the federal government's initiative is to kickstart the economy.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the commitment has already been made. Last year,the Premier and the former minister said on several occasions that the ferry for Fogo was deferred for one year. That year is now up. Let me ask the minister, in those statements by the Premier and the former minister, were they telling the truth, or were they telling lies?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, in the Budget Speech last year it was announced that this particular project, the Fogo Island ferry, would be deferred. There was no mention of a one-year period, a two-year period or a three-year period. All we have to do is take out the Budget Speech and read it. It is there in black and white. It says, `deferred'.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister Responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Considering the high unemployment rate in the Province today, Mr. Speaker, and also the fact that there is quaranteed to be a capital works program for water and sewer and roads for various municipalities in the Province, and also taking into consideration that those projects should be tendered for early so that municipalities can take advantage of our short construction season - this is a concern expressed and, I suppose, believed in by the Premier, and I quote, 'In Newfoundland and Labrador we are considering advancing by several months the $60 million municipal capital works program.' This a quote by the Premier at the First Ministers' Conference on the Economy. Could the minister now tell the House when the capital works program will be announced?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: I am delighted to address that question, Mr. Speaker. The capital works program will be coming down as close to the Budget as possible. Other budgetary considerations have to be considered, and I would anticipate that by the end of the month there will be an announcement on that and other works that might come forth, also, from the Housing Department.

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley, on a supplementary.

MR. WOODFORD: Would the minister confirm and tell the House if he will be strictly adhering to, firstly, the so-called rating sheets that were used by the department and secondly, fiscal responsibility when determining whether a municipality in this Province will get any capital funding for water and sewer or the roads program.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: The usual methods of measuring the need for capital works will determine the outcome. This year we have been probably a little bit more innovative in that the various members of the House of Assembly have been invited to have their input into the decision, and I think the chairman of the board wrote each member and invited them to bring forth their ideas, and that also would be used as a guide in making the final decision.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley on a supplementary.

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister be able to confirm to the House the quote by the Premier saying that there will be a $60 million municipal capital works program this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: I cannot say with any certainty that it is going to be $60 million. It could be $59.1 million, it could be $60.1 million. It is geared, as members are well aware, to the other budgetary considerations, how much is left -

MR. TOBIN: Your pork barrelling.

MR. HOGAN: If there is anybody in the House knows a pork barrel the pork barrel is speaking now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, the real pork barrel.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, the decision on that will come forth with the Budget and other budgetary considerations in mind.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and it concerns the changes in federal housing policy. The minister commented recently on the loss of social housing of eighty-six new units and 407 repair loans as a result of the federal budget. Is the minister also concerned with the total withdrawal of support for co-operative housing announced in that budget, and the twenty-six housing co-ops in this Province and 424 units? Is the minister concerned about this withdrawal of support for co-operative housing providing an alternative form of low cost housing for residence of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The department and Housing Corporation are very concerned about the measures that were announced in the federal budget, but the announcements that were made and the literature and information that we have so far is not that definitive in its description of what will happen. That is under review by the Housing Corporation now, and in fact we are consulting with the ministers responsible for housing across the country in an approach to this particular issue. As soon as our review is completed I will have some further information on it. I am not too certain of the hon. member's numbers in this regard, but it is a serious situation, particularly in the co-op housing area. As we know it now, we are very concerned.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On a supplementary. The minister will be aware that his department, through the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, was to sell three buildings in Pleasantville in St. John's East to the Eastern Edge Housing Co-op. This program is under threat by the changes in the federal policy. Is the minister prepared to give consideration to supporting the efforts of this co-op by perhaps asking the government to guarantee the mortgage that has already been agreed upon by this co-op to be able to take over those units?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: No, Mr. Speaker. I am not prepared to make any such recommendation to this government at this time, but I am prepared and have made inroads at the federal level to carry out the intended agreement that we had with the group that the hon. member mentions. We in housing are dedicated to addressing those needs and finishing off the agreement that we started with that group. But if the federal government deems to pull out there is not much we can do about it. We could probably then adopt another policy or enter into other arrangements, but it will have to come at that time, not before.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East on a supplementary.

MR. HARRIS: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Is the minister then committing himself to that project? Is he prepared to say that the federal guarantee - which we know will cost nothing because it is in fact a self financing co-op - is the minister saying that he is committed to that co-op, and if the federal scheme does not work he will consider other alternatives to see that this project gets done?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is as astute as he should be, I did say that. I am making a commitment to make every inroad possible with the Federal Government to continue to live up to the deal that was made with these people, or intended deal that was made with these people. If that fails we will take other matters into consideration to help see it fulfilled.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The House should know that there are some 300 or so miners whose UI will run out probably next week who used to work at Hope Brook. I was wondering if the Minister of Mines and Energy could indicate the current status of the Hope Brook project?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, on December 17 a company called Royal Oak signed a letter of intent with British Petroleum to purchase the Hope Brook property, subject to a number of conditions being met. Since that time they have had numerous meetings with Provincial and Federal departments and agencies, and their workers. They have reached settlement on some of the issues. For example, they have reached a new agreement with their union, their workers. They have made good progress on a lot of other issues but at this time they have not yet finalized their agreement.

Most recently they were in St. John's last week, at which time they met with all the agencies located in the city. We have had further discussions. I do not know if there is going to be an agreement finalized. I do not know quite when. We are concerned right now about timing, the company is very concerned about timing, because they had hoped to have had an agreement before now to get the mine open with the start-up this summer, and everything operating routinely before freeze up. If an agreement is not finalized I would think in the next few weeks they may well miss that window. So there is a lot of pressure on all of us to try to reach agreement in time to allow a summer start-up. I hope for the best.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Would the Minister care to indicate that one of the factors still yet unresolved is the degree of financial help requested or required of the Province in order to make this particular project a go?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to get into the details of it but one of the outstanding matters is still financial. It is not just necessarily Provincial. Another one of the outstanding issues is environmental. They also have to get final agreement, certificates of approval, from Federal and Provincial agencies before they can reopen. So there are still outstanding financial and environmental matters both Federally and Provincially.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Labour and Employment. Because if there was ever a time for a Minister of Employment in this Province it is now, with unemployment payments being in the range of a billion dollars, $160 million in social assistance. The Premier indicated last week that the Government can do nothing to help the plight of the devastated people of this Province. Is the Minister saying the same thing, that he has no strategy to help the unemployed in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the hon. member for his question as well. We have recognized already that we are probably going to face another very difficult year from an employment point of view within the whole Province. We also recognize that the different levels of government will be called upon to respond in a positive fashion throughout the year. We found ways to do that last year, both the Federal and Provincial Governments. We have already initiated initial discussions with our Federal counterparts and in a meeting with Minister Valcourt just a week or so ago.

We have already put some people together to try to talk about how any approach to helping those in Newfoundland and Labrador who will need assistance throughout the year can be coordinated through the two levels of Government, instead of finding ourselves trying to put in place separate programs that in some way may compete against each other or exclude each other rather than compliment each other.

So we recognize that there will be a need which will identify itself more clearly as the year progresses, and we have already put people to work to ask them to do whatever they can to make sure that our efforts are harmonized and compliment each other.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo on a supplementary.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker I wonder when this administration is going to take some initiative itself, without asking Ottawa or blaming it on Ottawa. Does the minister not realize that there are other things besides little make-work projects that can be done. There are all kinds of infrastructure, environment enhancement, salmon enhancement that can be done that are constructive projects in this Province that have to be done anyway. So why doesn't the minister get on with doing them now instead of doing them five years down the road as the Premier suggested to Ottawa? Why doesn't this administration do that kind of thing now so that we can have some worthwhile projects being done in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The types of things that the hon. member mentioned just now in his question are exactly the kinds of things that were reflected in the extremely worthwhile projects that were done through last fall and the early part of this winter.

There is no question that the analysis and the reports in terms of the efforts that were done, again in a complimentary fashion, because we recognize that we have difficulties in the Province. Again we are not casting blame. There are troubles across the country. We just happen to share in them. We have indicated with the Federal Government that we are willing to compliment their efforts - harmonize our own contribution. We are in discussions now. Rather than us rush out and announce a program that they may or may not participate in, we believe that there is always time for a little bit of planning.

There is no immediate crisis at this particular day or this particular week. We recognize the problem is going to get a little more difficult. We are all working together to make sure that we are prepared to handle it as the time comes. We are about ready to move into a construction season. There will be announcements made in the Provincial Budget that all of us will share in, and hopefully be very positive about. The other part of it is that we will continue to address the needs as they arise. Our track record shows, I think, that we have demonstrated that we can do that, and we intend to show that we can do it again.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fogo on a supplementary.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, let me remind the minister that he did not announce any program until the eleventh hour last year, in the middle of the winter practically.

Of a budget of $3.5 billion or thereabouts certainly a little can be found for worthwhile job creation in this Province. Has the Government given up and is going to wait again until next December until it announces a strategy to deal with the employment crisis? Is that the intention again this year?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Understand as well that later this afternoon we will be debating a Private Member's motion on this very issue of economic stimulation and what the Government plans to do and so on. I will be participating in that debate, and will take great pleasure in spending some twenty minutes or so outlining some of the things that the Government has done, has in the works, plans to do; and we will let the people judge the record as to whether or not this Government can respond effectively to difficulties that people encounter because of a national economic recession.

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker failed to look at the clock.

Question Period has expired.

Before moving on to the next item of business, on behalf of hon. members I would like to welcome to the public galleries today Mayor Gerry Kearley, Mayor of Milltown, head of Bay D'Espoir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: At this point, I would like to just bring to hon. members' attention again some matters about Question Period. I am sure that hon. members know those things, but from time to time, I think, we need to refresh hon. members so that we keep the right focus in Question Period.

As hon. members know, Question Period is not a debating forum. It is a forum for seeking information from the government and holding the government accountable. To ensure that it is not a debating forum, we have several rules and regulations. I just want to remind hon. members again, from our own Standing Orders, of a rather important one that hon. members seem to be drifting away from.

First of all, I want to talk about the question. As I have said so many times in the past, when there is a rule for a question, there is equally a similar regulation that applies to the answer. Many times, the focus of the question, the tenor of the question, will also decide how the answer is approached. So hon. members should keep that in mind.

There are a couple of things I want to remind hon. members about, today, from our own Standing Orders:

Standing Order 31, Section (c): "In putting any oral questions, no argument or opinion is to be offered nor any facts stated except so far as may be necessary to explain the same; and in answering any such question, the Minister is not to debate the matter to which it refers."

Finally, I want to read a quote from Beauchesne, paragraph 409, section (2). It says, "The question must be brief. A preamble need not exceed one carefully drawn sentence. A long preamble on a long question takes an unfair share of time and provokes the same sort of reply. A supplementary question should need no preamble." Hon. members know that that is a long-standing precedent of this House and I want to underline that with respect to preambles. Sometimes the Chair is in a difficult position, because sometimes members have their own unique way of posing a supplementary and will sometimes put the facts before and ask the question after. So, that makes it difficult.

So, for the proper operation of Question Period, I remind hon. members of these Standing Orders, rules, regulations, conventions, traditions, whatever.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a petition, Mr. Speaker, that I wish to present on behalf of 541 voters from the communities of Beaches, George's Cove, Rooms, Hampden, and Bayside, in the White Bay South section of my district:

To the hon. the House of Assembly of Newfoundland in Legislative Session convened:

The Petition of the undersigned residents of Beaches, Georges Cove, Rooms, Hampden and Bayside.

That we are concerned about the present safety conditions regarding the breakwater around the shoreline of Beaches.

Wherefore your petitioners humbly pray that Your hon. House may be pleased to have a new breakwater constructed at Beaches.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

There are 541 signatures on this, Mr. Speaker, not only from the community of Beaches, but from other surrounding communities, as well, namely, Georges Cove, as I said, Rooms, Hampden and Bayside, supporting the people of Beaches in their efforts to have a breakwater constructed.

I would like to inform the House of some of the history of that particular problem, Mr. Speaker, and especially the new minister. He was not around at the time. There was a bad storm on January 4, 1989, and, at that time, the tides were in - there was very little ice and the tides were such that everything came in over the community. The community of Beaches goes down over a long shoreline, and everything came in and washed into some of the houses in the community of Beaches, causing considerable damage to the wharves and fishermen's nets, boats, motors, and so on.

After that, I proceeded to have an estimate done through the Department of Transportation and in consultation with the Department of Municipal Affairs, to see if anything could be done. But at that time, I must admit, the people wanted nothing else, but to move; all but two or three of the people wanted to move out of the place. And, at that very time, I recall - because one evening, at the Deer Lake airport, the Premier came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said: 'Rick, why don't you and your colleagues do the honourable thing?' and I said: 'What would that be?' - Well, he was Leader of the Opposition then, Premier today. And he asked, 'Why don't you move those people?' I said, it is easier said than done, and it is rather ironic today, when I see the Member for Stephenville, for the last two-and-a-half years, almost three, trying to get some money for a few families who are, I think, in the Black Duck area of his district, and it is only lately that he got it.

There is no trouble to know why some people's horns were hauled in since then with regard to moving a community such as Beaches. Anyway, at that time,I was not in favour of moving the people out of Beaches, and I told the people that. The election was called in 1989 and I campaigned saying that I would probably get an estimate done or something done with regards to constructing a breakwater, but the Liberal candidate for the area for 1989 campaigned on the promise that they would be moved, or if not moved, then a breakwater would be constructed. But since that, Mr. Speaker, nothing has been done, except for the fact that the Department of Municipal Affairs - and rightly so - sent out a letter saying it was not their concern, it was not their jurisdiction, and that an estimate was done by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and I think a figure of $340,000 was arrived at for construction of the breakwater.

But what disturbs me most - and I know the new minister, now, will take it under consideration, especially with the upcoming Budget and so on. There are considerable, and I suppose different rumours going around the community, and not only that, but implications by the Premier, himself, and it is not right; I don't think it is right for anybody to be putting that around in that particular community.

I would like, today, to ask the minister, to clarify, once and for all, if there are any monies available now, to do that job. Because it is going around the community that monies had been approved to do that particular project, and I think that is wrong. I think it should be done and I think eventually it will be done for the safety of the people in that particular community, and I would like the minister to stand in his place today, and if nothing else, if he doesn't give the money today or next week or the week after, tell me and tell the House and the people involved that there is absolutely no money available as of today.

There is a letter going around the community from a certain individual out there, saying that in consultation with the Premier, and other ministers whom I will not mention, money is approved. I know that is not so. It is not done until Budget time anyway.

So, I would like the minister today, to stand in his place and inform the House and the people of the Beaches as to what is right. Do they have the money or do they not, and if not, then take it into consideration in the upcoming Budget and try to have something done for the people of Beaches. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to this particular matter, I guess, by and large, the facts are as the hon. member has stated them, that there was a significant wave activity and it did flow in over the road and, I understand, into the community, and at one time there was some consideration given to relocating the residents of the local service district of Beaches, but I understand that a certain number of people there did not wish to relocate. It is my understanding, now, that the idea of relocation has been abandoned and the request is for a breakwater to provide some sort of protection against the seas which flow in that area.

Now, I don't know how common this is, how frequently it occurs. The hon. member indicated that it occurred in January, 1989. I have not been advised that it has occurred since then, nor have I been advised that it occurred prior to 1989, because I am sure the hon. member would have mentioned that if it was a regular occurrence.

In any event, as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, my responsibility is to ensure the integrity of the road network in that particular area. That is solely the responsibility of my department. With respect to that, when the road was constructed, it was protected with armor stone, and since the road was installed and protected in that manner the action of the seas has not had a very detrimental effect on the roadway in the area. Whatever detrimental impact it has had, we can certainly correct the problem by dispatching a work crew to repair the damage done and maintain the integrity of the road system. Unfortunately, my responsibility as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation only extends to the protection of the road network and not to the protection and safety of the community itself, which seems to be the concern the hon. member is addressing, because he does specifically refer to the safety of the community.

With that in mind, I have written Mr. Osmond, who, I understand, is the chairman of the local service district of Beaches, and advised him of the position of my department, which is that, since we have protected the roadway, and whatever damage is done to the roadway can be repaired fairly expeditiously, we have no program in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation which could be used to fund this particular initiative. Therefore, I have asked the Chairman to pursue the matter with the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. That is the situation as it stands at this present time. However, having responded to the petition presented by the hon. the Member for Humber Valley, I will certainly consult with the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs again on this issue to determine if anything can be done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words in support of the petition so ably presented by my colleague, the Member for Humber Valley, who never ceases to amaze me with his relentless pressure on this government to try to get them to fulfil commitments. Truly, the constituents that he represents in Humber Valley are very much aware of that, having elected him time and time again, and now that he is a nominated candidate, Mr. Speaker, I am sure, in the next election, he will have just as much success.

Mr. Speaker, I know my friend from Humber Valley, when he presented the petition, alluded to the issue here that the minister so carefully avoided. the petition is signed by 541 people, of course, from Beaches, Georges Cove, Rooms, Hampden, and Bayside, which is a pretty significant number of people from those small communities. I might say, Mr. Speaker, that I personally had representation from people of Beaches, Mr. Osmond, in particular, who is chairman of the committee, as he referred, and others who have asked me to support the petition and do anything I could to insist that the government fulfil the commitment or, at least, a perceived commitment given by the former Liberal candidate in the district of Humber Valley. That is the crux of the issue here. That is the question the member asked to have answered. When a letter has been circulated to all the citizens of Beaches by private citizen, Gary Gale, who happened to be the former Liberal candidate, suggesting and attaching an enclosed letter that indicates funding will be provided through Municipal Affairs for the construction of the storm wall.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: The Minister of Municipal Affairs says it is what?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, this is a letter dated February 5 - three weeks ago - 1992. 'As the enclosed letter indicates, funding will be provided through Municipal Affairs for the construction of the storm wall.' Now, Mr. Speaker, it is rather upsetting, I would think. I would be extremely upset if I were the Member for Humber Valley, and I am sure the Member for Bonavista South would be extremely upset, as the elected representative of the people he represents, to have a letter circulated by a defeated candidate in the last election on the government side, in this case, who goes around telling the people the funding will be provided through Municipal Affairs. Now, Mr. Speaker, the question the member asked is, is he right or is he wrong? Who is telling the truth? That is the question. The Minister of Transportation has washed his hands of it. He says he has nothing to do with it, to refer it to Municipal Affairs. Now, the Minister of Municipal Affairs from his seat, mind you, not standing, says, as the enclosed letter indicates, funding will be provided through Municipal Affairs for the construction of the storm wall, Mr. Speaker. Everybody in this Legislature, I dare say Hansard will even have it recorded. I hope they did not record the first word he used, but he certainly said categorically, that is bull. Therefore, I say to the Member for Humber Valley, you clearly have your answer, and you can circulate it to all the residents of the Beaches. This gentleman, Mr. Gale, was not speaking for anybody, and he was obviously misleading the people of the Beaches, unless the Minister of Municipal Affairs can clarify it sometime in the future and say: Yes, indeed, the funding will be provided, and when you said it was bull, in fact, it was not bull.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just make that submission and support the petition presented by my colleague.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: This is Private Member's Day, and we have the private member's resolution. I call upon the Leader of the Opposition to introduce his private member's resolution and debate it accordingly.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

This resolution, of course, is a timely one, I am sure. I know that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has already indicated his eagerness to participate in the debate. I would hope that other members on both sides of the House will participate in the debate. I do not intend to read the resolution. It is pretty clear for anybody to read on the Order Paper, but suffice it to say it is an extremely critical issue.

Mr. Speaker, I thought about the approach to take in this particular debate.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the Leader of the Opposition would permit an interruption which will not be taken out of his time.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I saw the Opposition House Leader leaving, and I would like for him to hear this, as well.

In the interest of order and decorum, I want to ensure that all hon members have the procedures correct in their minds when certain things develop in the House. Hon. members should know that they cannot quote unparliamentary utterances from their chairs, and I ask hon. members to be aware of that, please. The Chair doesn't always hear what is going on, and I think it is incumbent upon any member who hears an unparliamentary utterance to bring it to the attention of the Chair. I think all hon. members will know from my own performance of fourteen years when I was here as a debater, that I was very strict upon observing the rules of parliamentary language, and I want to make sure that we observe it now. I ask hon. members if they hear it and the Chair does not hear it, the Chair regards it very seriously and hon. members should bring it to the attention of the Chair. Without that, the Chair cannot do anything about it.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. I thank him for yielding.

MR. SIMMS: A very timely intervention, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that in the case we are referring to - I did not want to embarrass the minister, who was probably in the heat of discussion in the conversation, and I am sure he didn't mean to use the term he used, but it may not even show up. Besides, Mr. Speaker, not to debate your point, but it also should be pointed out, the onus is on the members as well, the individuals, if they feel they have used unparliamentary language.

Anyway, getting back to where I was before I was interrupted.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I was saying that the resolution, itself and the issue and the topic that is being debated on this Private Member's Day, even though it is a critical issue and a critical topic, is obviously not likely to garner much attention from the news media, nor, unfortunately, does it garner much attention from the public, which is rather unfortunate. I can't blame the public because they perhaps don't know what is going on in the House today and so on. But it is a very critical issue, an issue that encompasses the economy, in which case you can talk about just about any undertaking or any issue that you want: the fishery, the slowdown on Hibernia project, all the other related issues that are so important to the economy of this Province.

Now I fear that Members opposite who will participate in the debate will take the approach that they usually take. I fear the Minister of Employment will probably lead the charge in using the same approach that they always use, which is an approach to blame others. Blame the Federal Government for this, that and the other thing; blame the Federal Government for not doing this, not doing that; blame the Federal Government for transfer cutbacks and all the rest of those kinds of things; blame the previous Tory administration in this Province; blame the recession; blame the media, as the Minister often does; blame everybody in the world without accepting any responsibility themselves.

Now, that is the approach I suspect members opposite will use. In fact, I just heard the Minister of Fisheries lean over and whisper to the Minister of Employment: seventeen years of Tory rule, and all this stuff. So we know what to expect, Mr. Speaker, and that is unfortunate. Because I can tell you out there today that the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are sick and tired of hearing the blame. Sick and tired of hearing the excuses. They have heard it all before. We should all share blame. Any blame that I hold as a former minister in a former administration, I accept whatever responsibility is there. So does the Minister of Fisheries, who was in all kinds of administrations on both sides of the House. We all share responsibility. But that is not the issue here.

One of the big things that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians must remember, and what this Government must remember, is it's own promise during the 1989 election campaign of three years ago. At that time the Liberals in that campaign promised to bring Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who had moved away to the mainland to find jobs back to meaningful employment in this Province. Now that was a categorical commitment and promise of the Liberal Party. There is no getting away from it. Instead, of course, what has transpired? Well, first of all, the number of people leaving the Province to go away has increased. Certainly, employment opportunities have decreased, not increased, as the Liberals had promised. We are in much worse shape today than we were I think in 1989. That is fair to say.

One of the key reasons behind this particular turn of events - at least I think - is the failure of this Government to live up to another key promise that they made back in 1989 during the election campaign and that they have repeated every year for the last three years since. That is, their promise to put in place an economic plan. In the 1989 Throne Speech, and I want to quote, they said - and I said it on Throne Speech day: My Government is at this moment in the process of establishing an economic recovery plan, the details of which will be announced shortly.

In their 1989 Budget they said: this Budget does not yet incorporate the full economic agenda of the Wells' administration. Other initiatives will become apparent when the recently announced economic recovery team moves into action and when our legislative program for the fall sitting of the House is announced. That is what they said in their 1989 Budget.

In the 1990 Throne Speech the following year the same promises were there. Quote: My Government also feels that it is imperative for the Province to develop a strategic economic plan that reflects the broad policy directions referred to earlier in the Throne Speech address.

Now, what has happened? Well, nearly three years, nearly thirty-six months have gone by, since this Government was given their mandate back in April of 1989. It was twenty-eight months after they announced that the economic plan would be released shortly, back last September 10, 1991, that the Premier finally released a discussion paper. He said himself at that time: this is a consultation paper, that is what he called it, a consultation paper. Part of phase 2. Not the Province's final strategic economic plan. Rather, that consultative process is part of preparation for that plan that they announced back in May of 1989, three years ago.

In fact the discussion paper itself read, and this is rather interesting: the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador began the process of developing a strategic economic plan for the Province not in May of 1989, but some sixteen months later in the fall of 1990. They said that themselves in their own consultation paper. Of course, until the fall of last year they did not even have the consultation paper. So the question has to be asked, why did the Government wait two and one-half years? I hope the Minister of Employment will tell me. When they announced in May of 1989 that they would have something within a short period of time - we are working on it at this moment - why did it take two and one-half years before they even put out a consultation paper for discussion? Surely it would not have taken that long to put out a consultation paper.

Back in 1986 many of us will recall the previous administration released the details and the recommendations in the Report of the Royal Commission on Employment and Unemployment, chaired by Dr. Doug House, who is now the Chairman of the Economic Recovery Commission. That report was based on months and months of public consultation. Not only was that report received and released by the Government, by the way, but it was acted upon. Dr. House himself said in a letter published in The Evening Telegram - and we had a copy of it last year, I recall - that it was incorrect to accuse the previous administration of not acting on that paper.

What happened then? Then the Government appointed the Economic Recovery Commission. Then what did the Premier claim? The Premier claimed then that this was his fulfilment. This was the fulfilment of the election plan that he had promised back in May of 1989 to put an Economic Recovery Plan in place within thirty days of being sworn in as Premier. This was his answer to his economic plan - the set up of the Economic Recovery Commission. What nonsense, Mr. Speaker. What absolute nonsense and garbage. In fact, here is what is even more humorous. If it was not so sad and sorry it would be humorous. The mandate of the Economic Recovery Commission, stated by the Premier here in this House of Assembly, June 5, 1989, the Premier's own words stated, and I quote, stated in its simplest terms: The fundamental objective of the Economic Recovery Commission is to bring the annual average unemployment rate of Newfoundland and Labrador down below the national average. Now that was the mandate of the Economic Recovery Commission stated by the Premier three years ago. Can you believe it, Mr. Speaker?

MR. DOYLE: Twenty-five years (inaudible) he is going to do it now.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I will get to that point which my colleague from Harbour Main raises.

One of the big problems, of course, having given that bit of background to the commitments and the promises, and the broken promises I guess more aptly put, by this Government, is that the people of this Province are really concerned. They have this impression - whether it is right or wrong the Government will argue what they are doing, I suppose, aside from just casting blame and so on maybe they will get around to telling us what they are doing - but the perception of the people of this Province is that this is a do-nothing Government. The Government is content to let her slide; content to throw their hands up in the air and say, we cannot do anything. What can I do?... says the Premier time and time again. Remember the famous quote when he approached the people from Grand Bank: I would if I could, but I can't. This seems to have been the approach taken by the Government, and we heard it today in Question Period echoed by his Minister of Employment - the same old words, the same old phrases - but the people of this Province are getting absolutely tired of it.

The election promise that I referred to was not to put out consultation papers. It was not to do more studies. The Liberal promise was to take some action and to show results from their actions. We have certainly seen results of their actions or inactions. In fact, let me quote again from the Liberal Election Campaign Platform Manual - the Premier's own words. He said -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you reading the right book?

MR. SIMMS: Yes, Sir, I am reading the right book.

Mr. Speaker, here is what the Premier said. The Premier says, after releasing the consultation paper now, two-and-a-half years later, and all the other things, from his election manual, "We have had enough royal commissions, studies and task forces. The state of the economy has been studied to death." These are the Premier's own words: "The state of the economy has been studied to death." Yet he appoints another group to carry on consultation. "What we need now, he says, "is action. We will restore the economy of this Province and give our people a chance to grow, train, work and live here in Newfoundland and Labrador."

What hallow words, Mr. Speaker! What hallow words! All of this is going to come back to haunt this party, the party that forms the Government. They can shake their heads all they want, they can hope and pray all they want, and they can be as cocky as they want, confident as they want -

AN HON. MEMBER: Arrogant.

MR. SIMMS: And arrogant. They can sit back and say: Let her slide, let her go, boys and girls, let her go. They can do all that, Mr. Speaker, but I say to you that is very unfortunate for the people of this Province, because it is the people who are suffering because of this inaction, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, that is a bit of the background, I guess, on the broken promises which I wanted to put forth to members, hoping that they would respond, that they would suddenly remember: Oh, yes, we made that promise, the Premier said this, the Premier said that. We are going to do this, we are going to do something to stimulate the economy. We are going to do something to create jobs. I hoped that by using some of those quotes it might spark something in their memories.

I know if Mr. Speaker wasn't in a non-partisan position there today he would be blushing, as members opposite certainly are and should be. Because what this turns out to be, Mr. Speaker, is more than a broken election promise. What has occurred, in fact, is an admission of failure and incompetence from those who are charged with the responsibility of governing this Province, not just for the next twenty or twenty-five years as they often like to joke, but today. That is where they are being irresponsible, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at the situation. What are the facts today in terms of our economy. We all know about the fishery facing one of the worst crisis in decades, perhaps the worst crisis ever without much doubt. Thousands of jobs and the lives of people are going to be affected by it. The only person I can see on the Government side who is fighting either bit loudly at all is the Member for Port de Grave. You do not see much action over there from anybody else, Mr. Speaker, certainly nobody fighting as loudly as the Member for Port de Grave.

What else is happening, Mr. Speaker? Well, the last two days in this House of Assembly we have had some questions to the Minister of Mines and Energy. The Hibernia project, whether we like it or not, as optimistic and positive as we all want to be, as hopeful as we are, the reality, Mr. Speaker, is what we must face, and the reality is, as the minister himself admitted today and yesterday, that this project is under a cloud of uncertainty.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance, I am sure, must be extremely concerned by that and by everything else that is happening because, Mr. Speaker -

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: If he can avoid just joking and carrying on and take something serious for a change. What happens to our projections for economic growth? Projections for our economic growth are based primarily on Hibernia. It was only last night I saw in the paper where the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, I think, have downgraded their projections for economic growth for the Province of Newfoundland now. I am not sure what it was, but it was from 4.5, leading the country or nearly leading the country, now to I think it was a -7 or something. I am not sure.

AN HON. MEMBER: Down to .07.

MR. SIMMS: Down to .07. Now, what does that do to our own economic projections? What does that do to our revenues and all the rest of it? Well, if you know it is going to do something - and I am sure there are some ministers over there who are competent and intelligent. You must be aware that there are dangers. Then what is the plan? What is your plan to overcome it? What do you intend to do? Do you intend to just sit back and say: I cannot do anything. We have nothing to do. We have no money. We cannot do this. We cannot do that. Or is there going to be a plan to address the situation? That is what we are asking, Mr. Speaker. That is what we have been asking for time and time again. Tell us what your plan is.

I said on Thursday last in the Throne Speech debate that if you bring forth a plan to address not only the long-term, which is necessary - I do not disagree with that, I agree with it - but bring in a plan to deal with the situation now that is going to affect us for the next two or three years so that our young people, our university graduates, post-secondary students who are graduating in the near future, at least will have some hope and will not have to necessarily continue to go away thereby exporting our greatest resources, Mr. Speaker. So I am asking the minister, tell us what your plan is? Tell us what your plan is, what you would like to do? I have some suggestions I will give to the minister. I probably will not get a chance to do it in this part of the debate, but I will try to do it at the end of the debate.

What else is happening? The Marystown shipyard, hundreds of jobs potentially up in the air. Very sad and very unfortunate news, Mr. Speaker, but nonetheless reality. That is the real world. The mining and forestry industries, questions today about Hope Brook and 300 jobs over there up in the air. The forestry sector, the Minister of Forestry knows full well the difficulties being experienced by the forestry sector. Not just the newsprint industries, but the logging industries, the lumber producers, all of the people in that sector are having some difficult times, but particularly newsprint operations are having difficult times dealing with markets internationally and world wide. So it is a tough, tough (inaudible).

Then this government itself participated in creating the problem by laying off 2,000 or 1,500 or whatever the argument is in numbers, it is certainly hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of public servants in their own Budget thereby creating spin-off losses of another thousand, just to be reasonable, one on one. So a couple of thousand people affected by the government's own decision which was rather a strange decision when you look back on it because the first thing that happened was the minister got up three or four months later and said his retail sales tax revenues were down or his projections were down by $20 million. Well why wouldn't they be? You took 2,000 people out of employment in your own service, you froze the wages of everybody else along with all the other difficulties in a recession. Why wouldn't they be?

Now, Mr. Speaker, bankruptcies are up. I said that the other day. Social services case loads; the social services expenditures have increased in the three years this government has been in power by 35 per cent since 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is your point?

MR. SIMMS: Well, the minister wants to know my point. Make no wonder we are facing the difficulties we face. I have just spent ten or fifteen minutes telling him about the problems, and he looks up and says: What is your point? What a stupid ox, Mr. Speaker. I do not know if that is parliamentary or not. If it is not I withdraw it, but if it is I will leave it there, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Parliamentary or not, it is true.

MR. SIMMS: Social assistance yesterday - social services; the minister - you are not the minister. I keep forgetting.

MR. SPEAKER: One minute left.

MR. SIMMS: Eric the amalgamator yesterday -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well I do not expect him to understand anyway. He has not understood a word the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been telling him for the last three years, so why would he listen to me?

Eric the amalgamator just yesterday, Mr. Speaker - the Minister of Social Services now - I do not know what we are going to call him, but we will come up with a name. But he tabled a special warrant yesterday for some $12 million of additional funding - $12 million. So do not say that the situation out there is not serious. Do not laugh it off as the Minister of Finance does. Do not joke about it, and do not interject about it. If he has nothing constructive to say, Mr. Speaker, he should sit in his seat or go out in his common room and have a cup of coffee or something because he is not making any contribution. That is unforgivable, Mr. Speaker, for a Minister of Finance in our Province to act as silly as that minister acts from time to time, and we all know it. We all know it, and I will tell you in St. John's Centre, the people of that district know it too, and he will get his comeuppance in due course, let me say to him.

Mr. Speaker, the Government has failed to deliver, totally failed to deliver on its commitments and promises, and there are suggestions, as I said to the minister, there are suggestions we are willing to make, and others have made. Now, unless the suggestions you make are in total and absolute agreement with the thinking of the Premier, the Leader of Government, then I must confess your chances of being listened to, or being heard, are pretty slim. The unions of this Province are finding that out. I am sure the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations does not agree with the Premier when he says the unions of this Province had their heads in the sand and did not offer any ideas. I am sure some of their ideas were constructive. If not they were certainly meant to be constructive and there was no need to make such comments towards the unions. It is sad to say that unless your viewpoint, and your opinion, is one that agrees with that of the Premier you do not have much of a chance of being listened to anyway, because this Premier seems to have his agenda made up. I am confident that there are strong ministers around the table who will be able to say to the Premier: hold on now, just hold on, we have to consider people, we have to think about the effect on people. So what if we have to take the $25,000 we gave to the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SIMMS: Okay, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SIMMS: No. No. I say to members opposite this is only a one day debate. I get a chance to speak again for twenty minutes at the end so I will get back at it at the end. I will see what contribution the Minister of Finance has to make although I am very dubious it will be any.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before recognizing the hon. member I just want to comment, since the Leader of the Opposition gave me that opening when he referred to the hon. member as, I believe it to be 'a stupid ox' and said he would withdraw it if it were unparliamentary and would let it stand if it were not. I think the Chair is obligated to say that I rule that remark to be unparliamentary so that it does not stand.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the remark.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to see that the hon. Leader of the Opposition withdrew the remark. Not only is it unparliamentary but it is not even true, and he would not want something that is not true placed on the record of debates in the House.

Mr. Speaker, I suppose all of us should say, thank you, to the Leader of the Opposition for bringing this timely topic to our attention for debate today. I recognize that there were a number of things in his presentation in the first twenty minutes of his address where he only slightly fell prey to the temptation of rhetoric rather than some of the points he wanted to make, but even though he avoided rhetoric in the most part in his address, I think, he chose not to read into the record his resolution, but for the purpose of the record I have no choice but to read some parts of it because even though he avoided rhetoric largely in his address there is a fair bit of rhetoric in the resolution that, I think, needs to be addressed in some way, shape, or form.

In his introduction he noted that the Government will probably get up and blame people and all this kind of stuff, and do those kinds of things, instead of addressing the issues. I look at it a bit differently, Mr. Speaker. I think there is an obligation. While we are not interested in blame, because we are all experiencing some difficulties, there is the need to compare. For the record in my few minutes today I will make some comparisons as to what is happening in the current recession and how we have been dealing with it versus what happened in the last recession that we experienced in the Province ten years ago when a previous administration was in place and how they dealt with it - to compare those two, because I think that needs to be available for the public record and I intend to take a few minutes to do just that today.

Another thing is they continually, in the Opposition, try to make references and tie-ins to some promises made in an election from three years ago. For their own purposes they continually misinterpret certain statements that were made. There is no question, and we will never apologize for the fact that we said our objective if elected would be to do everything possible to try to improve economic conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador so that Newfoundlanders would not have to do what they have always had to do and leave, but might have the opportunity to stay for a change.

We are on that course. Now we did not know, just like no one else knew, that there was going to be a national economic recession. I will point out a few things relating to that as well, Mr. Speaker, in my few minutes this afternoon.

The other part, they talk about the call from the Leader of the Opposition for this plan that has been talked about ever since 1989. The reality is we are very close to a very detailed and specific plan that has already been, in draft and consultation form, taken around the Province. That compares itself very starkly I suppose to the fact that for seventeen years we had a group that did not plan anything. Let alone anything to do with the economy. There was no sign that there was any planning relating to anything that was done here for a period of seventeen years.

So the fact that we may be taking a year or two to put in place a plan that will last us a decade or two does not surprise me at all. As a matter of fact, I am proud to be part of it, that we are going to have a very well thought out manageable plan that will serve the whole Province well into the foreseeable future. We will be looking at the unveiling of that probably before this sitting of this session of the House of Assembly concludes.

He talks about the immediate plan. The only thing I would say about that before I get into my comments is that the Opposition and everybody can rest assured that one component in a plan that this Government will have for the short-term and the long-term will be to exclude the option of borrowing us further into debt and losing our credit rating. So you can mark one thing down in the book. That is not part of the plan. It was obviously part of the no-plan that was there for seventeen years, because we came perilously close to getting ourselves to the point where we could not borrow. If we did borrow it would be at exorbitant rates and so on, that we move ourselves out of certain markets. That will not be part of the plan. Anything immediate and direct, the next steps will be announced in the Budget which will come in a week or so, and then we will go on from there.

But there are a few things that I would like to address in my time with relation to the specific resolution to try to set the record clear. The hon. Leader of the Opposition moves that: "WHEREAS the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador has declined and unemployment increased dramatically since this government took office almost three years ago" in that first preamble.

A couple of points. We acknowledge, and we do not blame anybody, that the economy in Newfoundland has been in a period of decline, just like it has been across the whole country. But it needs to be pointed out for the record that up until February month, up until a month or so ago, the Province of Newfoundland - and all of us here in Newfoundland and Labrador - we had consistently outperformed the rest of the country through the whole recessionary period. This Province, with this Government in control, through the recession that has been over a year in length in the whole country, had outperformed the rest of the country regularly and consistently until last month. Everybody knows what happened last month. There were two major things that happened in our Province that slowed us down a bit. The fisheries statements and the decisions that were taken, and the uncertainty that now surrounds the continuation and the continued growth of the Hibernia project.

But through that whole period of time, despite some things that we had no control over - high interest rates being one of them; only now for the last few months started to go down but now it looks like they might be going back up - the high Canadian dollar - things that were not there, by the way, in 1981-82. These were not factors at that point in time, during the last recession. Problems in the fisheries, the inflationary impact that the Federal Government predicted would occur because of the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. Free trade - not particularly directly impacting on the Province, but because it has such a devastating, short-term immediate impact on central Canada and southern Ontario in particular, it has impacted on the whole country in terms of the national economy and anything that has to do with revenue exchanges between the Federal and Provincial Government.

Right now we are experiencing a slowdown, no question, and a period of uncertainty, but it should be pointed out that far from what the resolution says that the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador has declined, it is not true. It has declined, no doubt in the last month or so, but for that whole period of recession before that, the record needs to show that the Newfoundland economy outperformed the rest of the country through the whole recession, and only because of these two latest, major negative impacts, are we now showing the decline that the rest of the country has suffered through for over a year.

The second part of that same preamble, Mr. Speaker, talks about unemployment increased dramatically since this Government took office almost three years ago. There is where I do not want to do anything other than compare, and I have to, for the record, put some numbers on the table. I am going to use the unadjusted (inaudible) rates that are prepared by the analysis group in the Cabinet Secretariat, the same group by the way, that was there providing the same type of analysis for the previous administration in the last recession, a decade ago.

With the former administration, in the period of decline and the period of recession in 1981-1982, which we came out off in 1983, in February of 1981, so the record is clear, the previous administration had an unemployment rate in Newfoundland and Labrador of 14.4 per cent. I might point out as well by the way, just for the record, that when the government changed in the early 1970s, up to the time that the previous Liberal Government had reigned in Newfoundland and Labrador, the unemployment rate in the Province had never reached double digits, it had never gotten to even 10 per cent under the previous administration. But by 1981, it was 14.4 per cent in February, then came the 1981-1982 recession, a year later it was up to 16.5 per cent in February and in 1983, when we were supposed to be coming out of the recession, but everybody understands there was a bit of a lag in our Province, it had gone from 14.4 per cent to 20.8 per cent, an increase of 6.4 per cent over that two year period, now that is pretty dramatic, as this particular resolution says.

By comparison, this Government handling this current recession, and I will give you a quote in a second which indicates that this recession is worse than the 1981-1982 recession, this administration, in February of 1990, the unemployment rate was 17.7 per cent, a year ago it was 19.2 per cent and this year it is 20.1 per cent and I will tell you how dramatic that is. In the worst recession we have had, even worse than the one ten years ago, the unemployment rate in Newfoundland has increased by 2.4 per cent, during that period of recession. Now they might want to select numbers saying it has gone up 4 per cent and so on, dramatic increase, the resolution says. The dramatic increase was in 1981, 1982 and 1983, when it went from 14.4 per cent to 20.8 per cent, as the previous administration tried to handle a recession. This group, through our efforts, have kept it down to 20.1 per cent from 17.7 per cent, an increase of 2.4 per cent versus 6.4 per cent when the previous group was trying to handle a similar type of recession. I point out those numbers and, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read a quote from the analysis done - Newfoundland and Labrador Economic Review of 1991, an outlook for 1992 - and it is published by the Economic Research and Analysis Division of the Cabinet Secretariat.

'On a quarter over quarter basis, average employment in this Province declined by 1.4 per cent over the first six quarters of the 1991 recession, compare with a much larger decline of 3 per cent during the first six quarters of the 1981-1982 recession. This suggests that even though the economic fundamentals such as the Canada/US exchange rate, real interest rates and conditions in the Province's fishery were much less favourable during the 1991 recession than in 1981-1982, labour markets were less severely affected than they were in the recession ten years ago'.

So this dramatic increase that the resolution talks about has not reflected itself to the degree at all during this recession, under the management and the effort of this administration, as to what it did ten years ago when the previous administration was trying to handle a similar economic recession across the whole country.

So we have had much worse circumstances to deal with and we have done it with much better results and the record needs to show that. There is nobody here who should try to misconstrue that information, nobody here should apologize for what we have been doing. We are on course. We have been derailed slightly by a national recession, just like the whole country has been derailed slightly by a national recession.

Now why is it that we outperformed the previous administration by a full 4 percentage points when dealing with a recession? Because here is what the previous administration did to try and handle the recession in 1981. During the 1981 recession the Province did one thing. It looked to the Federal Government to fund job creation. Their only direct involvement was through the employment enhancement program of Social Services where their stated objective was to make sure that they could move people from social assistance to the Federal UI program. That was their answer to dealing with a recession ten years ago.

It is the only thing they did. Then the same people, now, because they end up on the other side of the House feel that they can stand up and say: oh no, do not blame anybody, do not even make comparisons, don't say anything about what we are saying. We are allowed to get over here and act as if we have never experienced anything like this. We are going to ask you people what you did. Well, certainly one of the things - we will do something a lot more than suggest that we go to the Federal Government and find a way to take people from the social assistance roles and put them on the UI roles. We demonstrated that last fall and we will demonstrate it again in cooperation with the Federal Government as we work through another year.

So there is no doubt that in the preamble there has been some decline recently. We have outperformed the Federal economy for the whole period of recession except for the last month or so. There has been an increase in unemployment. But the rhetoric of the Leader of the Opposition's resolution that it is dramatic.... He must have forgotten to look at what happened ten years ago when he was a Cabinet Minster in the previous administration that saw the unemployment rate increase by 6.4 per cent versus 2.4 per cent with the efforts of this administration.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was he Minister of Social Services then?

MR. GRIMES: He must have been, I guess. The second preamble, Mr. Speaker, talks about: "AND WHEREAS the government has failed to keep its much repeated promise to stimulate economic growth and to significantly reduce the unacceptably high unemployment rate...." There is no doubt that that is still the objective of this Government. If it were not for the national recession we would already be well on course, because the things we have put in place already are on a firm foundation and are going to give those kinds of results.

We have stimulated economic growth. The Minister of Development repeatedly gives reports as to the long-term jobs created through the efforts of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the Economic Recovery Commission. The maintenance of existing jobs that were jeopardized because of the recession but kept in place because of the efforts of this Government. We have had in excess of 1,400 jobs created. Hundreds of others maintained through those efforts.

Then the Government itself, when we saw that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who normally would have gotten work of their own efforts except for the recession last year, except for the crisis in the fishery, then for the first time since we have been in office we did resort to an emergency employment response program.

With those people, we ended up with 4,014 jobs provided to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who found that they could not find the jobs themselves; provided over 75,000 weeks of work; and put $13.5 million into the pockets of people. Because as much as the Leader of the Opposition would like to go around now and try to corner the Liberal philosophy and say that he as the Leader of the Conservatives in Newfoundland wants to put people first, that is a Liberal policy, a Liberal philosophy, and we continually demonstrate that we always put people first. That is what we showed again last fall. On a long-term basis through the employment generation program, over the last two years in excess of 1,600 jobs have been created through the private sector by some $9 million in supplements provided through this Provincial Government.

So we have done some things certainly to stimulate the economy. It should not go unnoticed, by the way, that over the same period of time this Government, through the Budgets introduced by the Minister of Finance, has in each of the last two years undertaken a more expansive capital works program in this Province than has ever been witnessed before. So we have continually done our part to stimulate economic growth. We have not been able to attain the second effect of reducing the unemployment rate, but without a national recession, we are confident it would have happened. One other thing I would like to read into the record, Mr. Speaker, if I could, with respect to this resolution: one of the objectives of this government, as well, is to turn its attention in job creation to full-time year-round employment instead of short-term part-time employment. We have been having measurable, noticeable success, even in the face of the recession.

Just again, to give some numbers for the record: With the former administration - not to blame here, but comparison needs to be made - in 1982, of all the people working in Newfoundland and Labrador, wage earners working, 71.7 per cent of them were working at full-time year-round positions. That was in 1982. By 1988, just before they were turfed out of office, that number had shrunk so that all the jobs in Newfoundland, the 71.7 per cent used to be full-time, were now down to 63.9 per cent because the previous administration was committed to just putting them to work for a couple of weeks and get them on UI. That is good, but it doesn't do anything for the long-term economic stimulus of the Province.

By 1990, that number of 63.9, this government has committed to making full-time year-round employment possible for people. From the 63.9 per cent that we inherited through our efforts, it is already up to 66.5 again, and rising again this year. Part-time, on the other hand, for the previous administration had been down to 28.3 per cent in 1982 and by 1988 it was up to 36.1, so they didn't care if the people worked all year long or not. Put them to work for a few weeks and let them draw unemployment, that was fine with the previous administration. Our economic planning talks about full year, full-time employment wherever and whenever possible. The part-time group that had been up to 36.1 is now back down to 33.5 and indicators are that, even in spite of a recession, it is still declining. The balance we are looking for in terms of full-time work whenever and wherever possible, we are meeting our objectives and we are on target despite the recession.

In terms of the economic plan, Mr. Speaker, as I prepare to conclude, there has been widespread consultation and the hon. the Leader of the Opposition even recognized on the opening day, in the comments that were made, he knows that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians across the Island and throughout Labrador have applauded the efforts of the Liberal Government. He is getting ready to jump onside. He is already saying, 'This sounds like a wonderful plan. If you people can make it work I will support it.' Because he has done his own consultations, he knows that people are telling him, yes, this will work, it is a good plan, and he is already getting ready to jump onside and say, I am with Clyde Wells, I am with the Liberals because they are doing the right thing. He knows he is not going to be able to criticize it so he has already planted the seed in the opening day in this Legislature to make it possible for every member on the opposite side to jump on the bandwagon with this government and say, you people finally did plan something right. It makes sense, it is going to work, it is going to be in the best interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and we want everybody to know that we support it. I think all of you should jump up en masse some day, cross the floor of the Legislature, sit here and support the efforts, and all of us together will make sure that we do something that is in the best long-term interest of all the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I conclude, Mr. Speaker, by thanking the hon. the Leader of the Opposition for putting the topic before us for debate and I look forward to the rest of the debate today.

Thank you, very much.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations said that the Leader of the Opposition avoided rhetoric when he spoke but I think we just heard it all then. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations saved it all for himself. Mr. Speaker, anyone can play with statistics. The minister quoted some statistics as to what happened back in 1981 and 1983. Now, I don't know how much food that put on the table in my district. I don't know how many jobs it created by quoting these statistics. The minister failed to quote, though - he said that in February, this year, the actual rate was 20.1, to use his figures, but the actual rate in December was 15.7. So, if you want to look at increases, Mr. Speaker, 5 per cent in three months is what it went up. He said that in 1982 it was an increase of some 6.4 per cent over three years. This jumped 5 per cent in three months without figuring in what just happened in the economy, particularly with respect to the fishery last month.

He spoke for twenty minutes. I think he mentioned for all of two words that the fishery was in decline. Those were the words he said, the fishery prospects were not good. We have a very serious issue facing a number of communities in this Province today, a very serious issue. On television the other night, we saw that in Arnold's Cove, in the district of my friend, the hon. the Member for Bellevue, a large fish plant faces a pretty uncertain future, shut down now and maybe for the rest of the year if the review in September indicates that the TAC has to be reduced even more substantially than it has been already. Fish plants in Catalina, in Marystown, and in numerous other communities throughout this Province are in the same peril. What has been the government's response? They say, 'We are going to study it.'

The minister spoke of the response program that came about last year. That response program came months and months and months after we had been calling for one, and while we recognize -

Mr. Speaker, send the Minister of Forestry back to his seat.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: While we recognize the merits of that program - it was good - you have to also recognize that it was pretty late in coming, too. There were many cases - I know, in my own district, for example, they were using pick and shovel to dig frozen ground because the projects were so late in coming. The people appreciated having the project - no question about it - but look at the timing; putting water and sewer in the ground in December, by hand. Is that the kind of response we are going to find again this year, that the minister doesn't have anything ready?

The minister talks about the great success of the Employment Generation Program. We found, late last year, there was some extra money for some community projects because the business community did not like - did not avail of the money in the employment generation program. There was some slippage as they referred to; money was not used up so they rechanneled it. That was a year after the previous minister had announced, in estimates committee that the project was under review because they weren't sure of its success or failure rate. I think last fall's project confirmed for everyone that the program has not worked.

AN HON. MEMBER: Employers wouldn't take advantage of it.

MR. WINSOR: Employers wouldn't take advantage of it - that is another way of saying it didn't work. Mr. Speaker, a rose is a rose by any name. Employers didn't take advantage, or it didn't work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: One way or the other, it didn't work.

Throughout this Province, people are looking for direction. There is no question that the government cannot do it all, but it has to be a leader. It has to provide the right economic stimulus for the business community to get on with the process of creating jobs. This government has never done that. It continues to place a damper on the business community with its payroll tax, its corporate increase in taxes, and a whole variety of things that this administration has done to suggest that this Province has no economic plan. It hasn't had one for the past three years, and it continues to flounder.

We hear the Premier going to First Ministers and to the Atlantic Premiers and suggesting that one way to kickstart the economy is to spend now for money that you are going to spend anyway. He is saying, Call projects. You are going to spend it two or three years down the road, let's do it now so that we can get a start to the economy. The question is, why doesn't the Premier do the same thing for this Province? Why doesn't he use the same technique to kickstart the Newfoundland economy that he wants the federal government to use to kickstart the federal economy.

I speak specifically, Mr. Speaker, of the Fogo Island ferry. There is no question that the ferry has to be built, whether we build it today, next week or next year, or in two years time. The boat has to be built. The present boat is inadequate. Seven days this winter the ferry couldn't complete a run.

MR. BAKER: They don't want the causeway completed?

MR. WINSOR: The causeway? Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board should know that if the causeway is completed, as is being proposed, from Fogo Island to Change Islands, you still need a ferry. The boat still has to run, Mr. Speaker. It is a long distance from Change Islands to the ferry terminal in Man of War Cove. So whether we complete the causeway or not, the boat can't run from Change Islands without icebreaker assistance.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) causeway to the mainland.

MR. WINSOR: That proposal has been shelved, as far as I know. The one I think the President of Treasury Board is referring to is a request for a study to be done on the cost of a causeway from Fogo Island to Change Islands, not including the connecting link to the mainland, so you still need a ferry.

AN HON. MEMBER: Resettle them.

MR. WINSOR: Resettle them, the minister says. The only thing that should be resettled there is the Minister of Finance.

So, Mr. Speaker, if we have to build a ferry down the road, why not do it today? And in so doing we would possibly give the Marystown Shipyard a new lease on life. Mr. Speaker, isn't that the same kind of thing that the Premier is suggesting the federal government do? To spend money now that you are going to have to spend down the road? Isn't that the same type of spending that he proposes?

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Finance is laughing at the idea of giving Fogo a new ferry.

MR. WINSOR: The Minister of Finance laughs at anything because he has a good sense of humour. A poor Finance minister, but a good sense of humour. In Shakespeare's time he would have made a good court jester, Mr. Speaker.

So if the Province is serious about asking the federal government to do these things, why doesn't the Premier do likewise? Why doesn't he engage in the same type of activity. The Minister of Social Services is interjecting there. Why can't he do the same thing? If we are going to have water and sewer projects announced in a months time, let's do them now, announce them, so that the construction can be done next summer and not be delayed until -

MR. TOBIN: They were sent back.

MR. WINSOR: What?

AN HON. MEMBER: They were sent back.

MR. WINSOR: They were sent back the minister said.

Anyway, that is the kind of thing the Premier needs to look at.

MR. TOBIN: The minister just said they were sent back.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Talk about the stadium, 'Sam'.

MR. WINSOR: Talk about the stadium. What about the stadium?

AN HON. MEMBER: Spent the entire program (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The Minister of Municipal Affairs is awaiting a meeting with the Fogo Island Stadium Committee, and we are going to discuss the stadium then in a sensible fashion with a minister who I think has some compassion and understanding for rural Newfoundland. He realizes what it is like to live in a rural Newfoundland community, to be deprived of recreational facilities that other communities take for granted. So, Mr. Speaker, I expect when we meet with the minister in a few days time that the minister will address adequately the needs and concerns of the residents of Fogo Island with respect to their stadium.

MR. TOBIN: That's why he is the minister and the (inaudible) is in the back benches.

MR. WINSOR: That is exactly right. That is why the minister became the minister, and the Member for Carbonear continues to sit in the back benches.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, that is the reason that came about, because the Minister of Municipal Affairs has some understanding of the needs of rural Newfoundland.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour spoke for twenty minutes, and in the twenty minutes, he failed to mention one thing that he was going to do to create an economic climate in this Province where we can find jobs. Mr. Speaker, perhaps one of the most appalling things, if one looks at the statistics that came out, the last ones in February, was age group fifteen to twenty-four showing 32 per cent unemployed. Thirty-two per cent of the youth of this Province between fifteen and twenty-four were unemployed. Mr. Speaker, many of them are university graduates, college graduates, post-secondary. Many of them fall into that category because many of the other ones would not be registered to show up as statistics.

Mr. Speaker, in this Province we have spent millions of dollars on post-secondary education, millions. I think the budget of Memorial University was something like $91 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: More than that.

MR. WINSOR: More than that. Over $100 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: We give them over $100 million.

MR. WINSOR: We give them over $100 million. Now, Mr. Speaker, what are we doing taking people - we have said that if we are ever to prosper and get ahead as a Province it must be through education. It now appears that we are educating many of these people to go to other provinces and perhaps other countries to find jobs. Mr. Speaker, that is a serious indictment of the Province, and governments of all stripes have to take some blame, that we have such a situation in this Province where we have over 30 per cent of our youth unemployed and the number continuing to grow.

I had occasion last year to write a letter of recommendation for a student who had just finished at the School of Nursing. Out of, I think, fifty-four students in her class, not one of the fifty-four graduating nurses had found employment in this Province at the time of graduation. I have spoken to her since and she managed to find a part-time job. She doesn't know if any of the others of the fifty-four were able to find a full-time job in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, if that was true of one nursing school, we would logically assume that it is true of the others, particularly in view of the fact that last year many of the nurses who were already in the profession lost their jobs and there was a freeze on hiring for most of them. What does that tell you? That tells us we have a pretty serious problem. Perhaps it tells us we might be training too many nurses. That is a possibility. We might be training too many nurses if we cannot find employment for them. Perhaps that needs to be looked at, and we have to redirect our efforts.

The fact of the matter is that we are spending millions of dollars in post-secondary education. To do what? To send them away so some other province can take them. Mr. Speaker, if that is the legacy that we are going to leave, then we have a terrible future for our Province. Because what we are doing is training our best people to ship them out. The brain drain that has occurred in Third World Countries for years will continue here.

Mr. Speaker, recently much of the economic performance of this Province was going to depend on Hibernia. Well, Mr. Speaker, that bubble has burst, if only temporarily. If only temporarily, Mr. Speaker, that bubble has burst. We were to lead the country in economic growth this year. With the failure of the fishery, with the failure now, of Hibernia, if only for a short time, then it makes it even more imperative that government come up with some initiatives of its own.

I told the Member for St. John's South what we could do. The Marystown Shipyard is about to go down. Fogo Island desperately needs a new ice-breaking ferry.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't know, you might have that in the next month.

MR. WINSOR: Oh, we are going to have that in the next month, are we? Well, you see, I happen to have heard the Premier on an Open Line Show within the last two or three weeks indicate fairly definitively that the ferry would not be built this year. Maybe circumstances in the last two or three or four days might have changed.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you know the other thing he said? That Hibernia uncertainty would not affect the sale of the shipyard.

MR. WINSOR: Yes. He also said that Hibernia uncertainty would not affect the sale of the shipyard. We know that did not really happen.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: Let's let the young teacher talk now, then you can have the floor.

MR. WINSOR: Well, some of the young people who are leaving - I happen to have two former students of mine who worked at the Marystown Shipyard, both under the age of twenty-five, one had done naval architecture, the other had done mechanical engineering or electrical engineering, both of them were employees at the Marystown Shipyard, both bright, young men, both of them are out of work. If we do that now, we save these jobs - because we are going to have to build the boat anyway. The Premier has said that the way Ottawa can stimulate the economy is to spend now on projects that they were going to do in three years time.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your colleague from Mount Pearl said (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: My colleague from Mount Pearl did not say that at all.

He said -

AN HON. MEMBER: He did.

MR. WINSOR: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes he did.

MR. WINSOR: My colleague from Mount Pearl said we have to borrow responsibly.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. WINSOR: Yes, he said we had to borrow responsibly and to borrow responsibly (inaudible) because you are going to borrow it anyway. The Member for St. John's South does not understand that in two or three years time you are going to have to borrow it anyway because you are going to have to build a new boat or you are going to send them across from Fogo Island on a raft. It is one or the other. Perhaps we need the second ferry for the Member for Bell Island, for that run as well and perhaps that would double the employment in the shipyard, if the run needs a second boat. For the Fogo Island run, it is a pretty obvious solution, we can create some jobs as well as provide an invaluable service to the people of Fogo Island. This administration now has the opportunity to do it, and I call upon them to act. Mr. Speaker, the last number of months, and I told the minister in December, when the unemployment rate for the first time in a number of months showed a slight dip, and it did in December. The actual rate in December was 15.7 per cent and the adjusted was 16.7 per cent, the lowest time it had been for a number of months and I told the minister that it was a result of the few million dollars they spent last fall on make work programs.

A few million dollars brought it down a couple of points. Perhaps it was ill-timed in that it was late and the projects were not as good as they could have been. Mr. Speaker, I saw some good projects getting done, some excellent projects getting done in my own district. A community, by using that project was able to install about 1,000 feet or so of waterline, taking up 1,000 feet and replacing another 1,000. Good projects, Mr. Speaker, which needed to be done in a small community with a local service district that would not be able to do it at any other time, yet they all need water and some time down the road we are going to have to spend it and they are good make work projects.

In the community in which I live, a project to make some major renovations to a recreation hall and a council hall, good projects, Mr. Speaker. The people were employed, we had a good carpenter who taught some young people some skills that could be of good use to them later in life. There are numerous things that we can do.

The project which comes to mind is not in my district but in the Speaker's district, the hon. Member for Bonavista North. They have done a tremendous amount of work in the Indian Bay area with stream enhancement; they are trying to restock some of the famous Indian Bay rivers. That work could begin next month. We could start to put some hatcheries in, some control, we can do all kinds of environmental projects with a small amount of money that will have to be done eventually, there is no question that these things have to be done. We have to supply municipal services, we have to supply water and sewer to communities, we must have buildings and we can do these now and kickstart the economy by locally adding several thousands of dollars to every small community in the Province and they in turn spend it in the larger centres.

If the Member for Gander, would talk to the business community he will know that Gander goes as the area known as the Loop, goes. I think it is something like 60 per cent of all dollars spent come from the outlying areas, and, Mr. Speaker, when these economies thrive, so does the economy of Gander. With the few make work projects that were in place last fall, if you talk to the local business community they will tell you their sales were the best for the year during that period of time. So, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations cannot get on his feet and spend twenty minutes comparing statistics in 1981-1982 to what is happening now. The problem that we -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why not?

MR. WINSOR: Because it is meaningless, what has it accomplished? How many jobs does that create? A research assistant -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. George's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHORT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is with pleasure today that I rise to speak in debate on this particular motion introduced by the Leader of the Opposition. It is not very often that I stand and get involved in the debate, but I felt compelled to today because of some of the statements in the motion. I was certainly struck by the opening sentence of the resolution, and people opposite might not want to hear some statistics, but I am going to give them some more before the day is over.

The opening statement talks about the dramatic increase since our Government took office. I suppose it would not be fair to simply say that it is not true. But the fact of the matter is that it is not true. The Minister of Employment talked about some figures, and I want to mention the average unadjusted figures for the year. In 1989, the first year that we took office, the unadjusted average for the entire year was 15.8 per cent; 17.1 per cent in 1990; and 18.4 per cent in 1991.

However, if we are to accept the motion which says that those figures were a dramatic increase over the previous administration, then obviously the figures before 1989 should reflect that the figures were much lower. However, what does the labour force survey really show? I have gone back to 1982 and had a look at the figures. In 1982 the average for the year was 16.7 per cent; 1983, the entire average was 18.7 per cent; 1984, 20.2 per cent, and 20.8 per cent in 1985.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SHORT: Nineteen point 2 per cent (19.2) in 1987. So I have to say to the Member for Grand Falls, where is the dramatic increase that he talks about, and what government was in power when those so-called low averages were being recorded in the 1980s? I ask the Member.

Mr. Speaker, you might also want to consider this point. During the years from 1982 to 1988 the Federal Government - it has been mentioned already today - the Federal Government was pumping millions and millions of dollars into this Province in make-work projects. And the rate was still around 20 per cent. Can you imagine what would happen if in those years they had been dealing with the economic climate that we are now dealing with today? Where would the figures be then?

I just want to give one example, talking about the make-work projects from earlier years. As most people know I was a very active member of the rural development movement before I got elected. For eight years I was involved with a development association where I personally was involved with interviewing I would say hundreds of people for make-work projects. There were five or six projects in my area every year. There would probably be another five or six in the Codroy Valley in my district, and another five or six in the St. George's - Stephenville Crossing area.

Since I got elected, in the last three years there has been one regular project, one, for the whole district, for three years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHORT: It's not. But I want to tell you one other thing. This has come about in just the last few days since the Federal Government brought down its last Budget. They have cut over $2 billion in the last Federal Budget. One hundred and seventy-seven million dollars has been cut out of job creation projects by the Federal Government this year, $177 million.

The motion goes on to say, Mr. Speaker, that we failed to keep our promise of stimulating economic growth. So I want to look at that and see what has happened since we took office. I remember very well getting up in this House the first year that I was elected. The first motion that I ever put to the floor, or put on the order paper as a private Member, had to deal with the signing of a new rural development subsidiary agreement. When we took office I put in a motion saying that we should call upon the Federal Government to sign a new agreement that had been overdue for a full year.

Within three months of us taking office - as a matter of fact, on July 12 - the hon. Minister of Development signed an agreement with the Federal Government for a new subsidiary agreement. The total amount of that agreement was $29.575 million, for five years. Of that amount, $8.575 million was the Provincial commitment. I would dare anyone to say that this agreement does not show our commitment to rural Newfoundland or to the economic growth of this Province.

Nearly sixty development associations throughout this Province are using those funds to contribute to the economy of the Province. As well, there are funds that being used by the Credit Union council, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Cooperatives, the Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Development Association, and the Labrador Craft Producers' Association. All of these groups contribute to our economic growth significantly.

We talk about the fishery, but one of our other major areas is in forestry, in forest management. A very significant area for economic growth in this Province. On March 4, 1991, just a little less than two years after we took office, the Minister of Forestry, as the Government representative, signed a new Canada/Newfoundland Cooperative Agreement for Forestry Development with the Federal Government. The agreement, which runs from April 1, 1990 to March 31, 1995, a five year agreement, has a total monetary value of $64 million. Of that, $20 million is being provided by the Province.

So don't let anyone tell you that this Liberal Government is not committed to stimulating economic activity and growth in the Province. For example, in my own district, in 1991 alone, $1.5 million out of that agreement was spent in my district on silviculture projects and so on. So the people in my district certainly benefited from that type of work.

I want to mention one other area as it relates to this motion, the second WHEREAS, and the false accusations of the commitment to economic growth. Everyone in this Chamber is quite aware of how important tourism development is to the Province. I am sure that everyone agrees that tourism has the potential for major growth in the Province. On May 17, 1991 - just shortly after the forestry agreement - the Minister of Tourism, along with the Federal Government, signed a $20 million Tourism and Historic Resources Co-operative Agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: A big agreement. It was a good agreement.

MR. SHORT: $20 million to further develop the Province's tourism potential over the next four years. Yet when we look at this resolution, it keeps saying that we have failed to keep our promise to stimulate economic growth - not true. All of these agreements and initiatives are creating employment opportunities for our people.

AN HON. MEMBER: For the long-term.

MR. SHORT: Long-term, yes.

The third WHEREAS in resolution talks about our failure to produce an economic plan; however the Throne Speech read last week by His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor stated that the strategic economic plan would be released to the public in the first half of 1992 - the first half of 1992. So that is within the next two or three months.

The Opposition talks about three years - we have not produced an economic plan in three years. I have to concur with my colleague who spoke before, when he was talking about looking at the plan of the previous administration. In getting ready, preparing for this debate, I went looking, and what do you think I found? Absolutely nothing. Seventeen years, and no economic plan of any type. I say to the members Opposite that our plan is just about ready, but it is not the kind of plan that you produce overnight or the type of plan that you produce without consultation.

As the Speech from the Throne stated, over 11,000 copies of the discussion paper were distributed to the public; thirty-six formal public meetings were held. In excess of 1,300 people came out to those meetings, and over 240 written briefs were given. So the public were involved.

We are going to fulfil our promise made to the people of the Province, but we are going to do it right, and we are not going to do it the way that those people would want us to do it, or are saying we are not doing it at all.

In terms of the economic plan there is also one other thing that I would like to mention. I do not believe it has been mentioned, certainly by the people opposite today. When we took over the Government, there was a change that took place within the Department of Development - a restructuring program that saw put in place Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, commonly referred to as ENL, with five regional offices throughout the Province. We have a very competent staff in each of those offices, and very competent field staff that deal with the general public on a daily basis outside of those five offices. To date nearly 600 requests for funding have been received by those five offices. I want to give you some other more specific figures on those 600 requests - or nearly 600.

Of the 586 requests that have been received, 408 have been approved. Of those, 159 new businesses have been assisted; 116 other businesses have been expanded or modernized; 81 stabilized; 9 buy outs; and 42 have been given business working capital - a total of 408. I might add, of those 408 businesses that have received funding, the total funding by the Province has been $26,555,000; $26 million. Not only that, but the ENL funding has also leveraged other funding. For example, ACOA grants, nearly $6 million because of our $26 million; terms from the bank, $1.7 million; operating money from the bank, $2 million; private investment, $7.7 million; and other funding, $5.8 million. So, in total, the $26 million that we have generated through ENL has actually brought up the total to $49.9 million - nearly $50 million because of the efforts of ENL.

One other interesting statistic, and this one I think the Minister of Employment alluded to earlier, 1,437 new jobs created - 1,437. I think it is fair to say that those figures indicate that we have been successful in creating a very positive economic climate in this Province.

I would be the first to admit, and I am sure every member here would, that we are going through some very difficult times economically. There is no doubt about that. Coupled with the recession, there are certainly problems in mining, in the fishery, some uncertainty in the Hibernia project, and I guess the list is even longer than that. However, I do feel confident that we will continue to address these issues. We are not going to try to brush them under the carpet or anything like that. However, I think it is also fair to say that there is a massive infusion of money needed, and we are certainly not able financially to deal with it on our own. We are going to have to ask for and receive the co-operation of Ottawa on some of these issues.

Finally, in closing, I would like to say that on some of these issues today that have been raised, maybe we should have waited. Perhaps this motion would have been better after the budgetary process because we are almost trying to second-guess or say that there are not going to be any plans put in place; that we are not going to do anything to stimulate the economy. We have not heard the Minister of Finance who, I am sure, when he delivers his Budget Speech, is going to be very much aware of the plight of all of those people who are unemployed, those people who are looking for jobs. This government, as always, is committed to putting people first.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I think I should - and I would be remiss if I did not - congratulate our leader on bringing this resolution to the floor of the House at this particular time. I would also like to congratulate him on his presentation and on the points that he made as they pertain to the severe conditions, severe situations, that are evident right across this Province.

I suppose you could remind people of the old adage. When everything was gone, and it seemed the bottom was dropping out of things, they would say, 'in a state of flux'. If there was any province in a state of flux before, I would certainly say that this Province is in a state of flux right now.

Mr. Speaker, we have had to contend with a number of economic situations, global, international, national, and our home situation. But Canada was always able to withstand the blow, contain itself, and move back in with a better economy rather quickly, even quickly over these past couple of recessions that we have had, faster than the United States. But this time, we seem to be dragging our heels, we don't seem to be able to rise to the occasion. I suppose there are a lot of reasons for it.

When I thought about speaking here today, I said: well, let bygones be bygones. What past governments did is immaterial. I wasn't going to blame anyone for the dilemma we find ourselves in. But when I hear the rhetoric from the other side, when I hear the nonsense that comes from the speakers from the other side, I am flabbergasted. Every time, the only thing that they can say when they get to their feet is that it is the fault of the federal government. We heard that all last year. We heard it all last year about the transfer payments. And, I must say, the Minister of Finance was very reluctant to go on at any great length about that problem. Because he realized, after it being drilled into him: look, this is the formula, this is the way it goes, there is nothing we can do about, and we did receive our just and fair amount from Ottawa in transfer payments.

There may be a little drop on EPF, but again, that is done because of the economic situation in this country, not because the federal government reneged on payments to Newfoundland, that is not the truth. This government in Canada, this federal government, has been very lenient and very receptive to the situation in Newfoundland. They tried their best to accommodate this government whenever possible.

But I suppose we will have to wonder aloud what happened to our whole economy here in Newfoundland. Since this government took over we have had problems with amalgamation. We tried our best to stymie it, we tried our best to halt it. But no one listened, and because of the majority on the other side, and because they are like little trained animals that go along with a little leash, they all agreed with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, they all agreed with the Premier: This is the right way to go.

But we find in the Goulds, now and we find in Wedgewood Park and other areas, certainly because of amalgamation, the tax load didn't decrease, rather, it increased, I must say, upwards to 100 per cent on people who could ill-afford it, poor people. This is one of the situations caused by this government - not the federal government, but by the position taken by this government, our own provincial government.

The health system has been degraded. We have lost a lot of people, professional people. The only one who believes our health system is healthy is the Minister of Health. Everyone else in this Province feels that we have taken a drastic step backwards. Is that the answer to it?

I had the occasion about a month ago to go into the Health Sciences to have a minor x-ray. So when I went in to the Health Science I was not like some other hon. gentlemen, I went up to the nurse there and I asked, 'How long is it going to take for me to get the x-ray?' She looked down the list and said: Well, come back in about three hours.' Now, that was fine for me. I went, took the wagon, and did whatever business I had. I came in here to the office. Three hours after, I went back and she said: 'You just made it, yours is the next name on the list.' But, Mr. Speaker, there were people there from outside of Newfoundland. People who went there by bus were there when I went there that morning and were still there when I left there that evening, and the Minister of Health says: 'Everything is perfect, the cuts didn't matter. Nothing matters. This is a better system now than what we had previous to my becoming minister.' Well, the Minister of Health might have illusions, but it is not helping the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I will have to certainly say to the Minister of Education, who is doing his best - I mean his head is screwed on the right way I think - but the point remains that we did cut out the school tax. Now, we have another dilemma. I hope that the minister in the next few days is going to stand in his place and rectify the situation. He is going to tell the school boards: 'You will not have to lay off your staff. You will not have to lay off cleaning people who are upset out there, afraid they are going to lose their jobs, and that monies will be made available to the school boards to offset their loss because of the School Tax Authority's elimination.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: We all hope it does, but those are things that have happened since this government took office, Mr. Speaker.

You know, the only bit of encouragement that I saw today - and I speak, now, specifically of Hibernia. The questions that were asked today because of Hibernia, and I speak directly to the Minister of Energy in saying that those questions had to be asked because people are asking those questions on the street. People are asking those questions in every constituency and they have to be clarified. I was delighted today to see that the minister stood in his place and gave the answers that would offset some of the misgivings that the people had out there.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we are being negative. I believe that we are being negative as far as Hibernia is concerned, and I think that we have to become more positive. I think we have to look and say this is only just an interim thing. It is going to happen. It is going to take place. It is just a matter of slowing down. I think, Mr. Speaker, that if we don't become more positive in all our actions right across this country we are doomed. Mr. Speaker, a philosopher once said that sickness was 50/50: half sickness and half a psychological factor. That is true, too, of economics. If we don't smarten up and begin to be positive, then I think we might as well rule out Hibernia.

Today, too, Mr. Speaker, coming out at noon, I heard Mr. Mercer, who has the prefab plant in Bay Roberts, say he had an $80,000 contract with Hibernia, with one of the members of the consortium, and he said that most of his job had been done. I think they were putting in some eyes as far as lifting the concrete was concerned, but most of the job had been done, and he was very, very optimistic that the job was going to continue because he had three parts of his contract finished and yesterday he received word from the contractor at Hibernia saying he wanted the rest of the supplies. You could hear the noise in the background when he was interviewed, and these people were making what was necessary then, the remainder of what he had a contract for, which is a positive thing. And he spoke very positively about Hibernia. It gives you a good feeling that there are some people out there who believe that this project will get off the ground and keep on going, and I hope so. I hope so for the people involved.

I heard the Premier in the Throne Speech debate saying that Hibernia would only be equal to two fish plants.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: With the fishery as it is today, what a statement for a Premier to make! What a statement! We have every fish plant out there in jeopardy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: The Minister of Finance doesn't understand. He never moved out of the center of St. John's. He got the university up there. He doesn't understand the plight of all those fishermen.

AN HON. MEMBER: And he didn't know what was going on there.

MR. PARSONS: And he didn't know very much of what was going on there, that's right. But, Mr. Speaker, the people out there are not interested in what the Premier believes, they are interested in facts, they are interested in going to work, and this government has done little or nothing about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Okay, seeing we want to talk about the Constitution, what do I feel, personally, caused this dilemma in Canada partially - I will not say wholly - partially. What caused it? Everyone who sits across the way has a little bit, a segment, of responsibility.

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible) broke up.

MR. PARSONS: Well, if Canada breaks up, I say to the Minister of Finance, then you, Sir, are one of the responsible parties. Number one, I do not know for sure, but I am sure you would have voted for the Premier that night when he disallowed the vote. I am sure you were one that would have voted for him but there were people on that side who would not vote and that is why he did not call the vote, because he was afraid he was going to be defeated. There are men over there with common sense as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: As far as the situation in this country today, the instability in this country and right across Canada, ask anyone out there, take your heads out of the sand and they will tell you the major aspect of this instability was caused by the failure of Meech Lake, which was nothing. The only thing it was, was a plaything for the Premier, his ego. The Minister of Finance brought up the Constitution. I was not even going to mention it, but I say to him now, now that I am warmed up, I say to the minister now the same thing I said to the Premier, and I would tell him if he was here because I do not care, there was always a segment of animosity towards Quebec, right across this country, and all he did, and all you people on that side did by going along with him was added fuel to the fire. Look what we have now? There is no stability here. There is nothing. There is very little hope. The only hope we have now is that Mulroney and that good Government that we have in Ottawa will come through.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. PARSONS: That is the only chance we have.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. PARSONS: You reneged. You reneged. You are renegers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: You and Marcel Masse.

MR. PARSONS: Me and Marcel Masse. Look, boy, wake up. Quebec and English speaking Canada were two founding peoples. You know that, culturally and language wise, and they have just as much right in this country as we have. English speaking Canadians and French Canadians.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the aboriginals who were here before the English settlers?

MR. PARSONS: Well, just listen to that. Just listen to that blarney. How about the Slavs, how about the other ethnic groups? Are you going to tell them all they are distinctive? Are we all distinctive? Where are your ancestors from?

AN HON. MEMBER: Ireland.

MR. PARSONS: Well, are you going to ask for a distinction, too, that you are a distinctive person because your ancestors came from Ireland? How stupid can you get. You know you made a mistake in Meech Lake and this is what is causing the problem here in Newfoundland. This is what is causing the problem right across Canada, because all of you were lead along by a piece of rope, lead along by a leash, by your Premier who wanted to come on the stage on the federal scene. That is all. Perhaps he does have inclinations or desires to become the Prime Minister of Canada, but wait until the Canadian people realize what is going to happen, that there is the possibility of this great country breaking up. I hope it never happens. I hope Canadians will have the foresight and the fortitude to see what those breaker-uppers are all about.

Mr. Speaker, let us go back again. Seeing that the minister has me up tight on this, let me go back and say to the minister, that if we had signed Meech Lake we would be much better off than what the constitutional reform committees have subjected us to now, even to try to get an agreement. If we had signed Meech Lake possibly we would have Lower Churchill on the go now, possibly. How much of an uphill fight is the Minister of Energy having? How much easier would it be for the Minister of Energy if we had signed Meech Lake? I do not expect that hon. gentleman to tell me what I am saying is right, but he knows in his own heart and soul that what I am saying is the truth. We would have the Lower Churchill ongoing now only for the failure of Meech Lake, only because of the group on that side. I am touching a very sore spot over there, Mr. Speaker, when I tell them about the dilemma they put this great nation in.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: No I did not attack the aboriginals. No, I did not

attack the aboriginal people, I worked with them and found them to be the finest kind, ordinary Canadians as we all are. There are only two separations in Canada by culture and language and that is French Canada and English Canada. Do not look for anymore.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Go away, go away. Listen to the professor over there. Professor Murphy. Yes, yes, I am nothing, I never said I was anything, I am an ordinary Canadian and proud of it, but I was not always a Canadian either. I did not think -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Absolutely, I did and I will stand here in my place and admit that I changed my mind since 1949.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance, on a point of order.

DR. KITCHEN: Stick to the resolution please.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! I -

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to that point of order now. Mr. Speaker, imagine the Minister of Finance getting up and telling me that I had to speak to the resolution when he was the one who interjected: let us talk about the Constitution. Now I am telling you about the Constitution and the economy which is a joint venture in this country. Our Constitution is based upon our economy, our economy is based upon our Constitution -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point of order, there is no point of order. The resolution before the House is one of a very wide ranging nature and I am sure that the hon. member is within the context of the resolution.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Boy I am glad to see that we have some common sense in this hon. House.

Mr. Speaker -

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) second world war (inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Pardon?

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) second world war medal?

MR. PARSONS: Glory be to God. Look, Mr. Speaker, I will let that go into what I say can be accomplished here today. Listen to the Member for Pleasantville, did anyone read the resolution he has before the House? With everything else gone, the fishery in a crisis, with Hibernia hopefully down-graded, this hon. gentleman wants to bring in now, milk, dairy products from the mainland to defeat the only piece of stability we have left, which are farmers, and he wants to bring in a resolution whereby we could bring in cheap milk and other cheap dairy products, cheap pigs, cheap meat from the mainland. There is the man who is lipping off over there. He is the fellow who is telling us what way we should go. Well I say to the minister - imagine? What our leader said is true. He said, in this resolution they talk about a twenty year economic plan, and I ask the hon members across the way, what are we going to do in the interim? What about the people out there now who do not have homes, who cannot meet their bills? It is not twenty years down the road, it is now, what is your plan for now?

The Minister of Finance says we cannot borrow. He says: our leader said we must borrow. He did not. He said, borrow conservatively, to get us out of this dilemma which we are in, it will be paid for down the road. What are you going to do with people who are unemployed? What are you going to do about the 3,000 people that you threw out in the street, people who lost their homes and their cars? What are you going to do about the hordes who are on welfare? I heard the hon. Member for St. George's, a few moments ago talk about - we have 25,000 less people working in this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It now being 4:40, I have to call on the -

MR. PARSONS: One minute. I want to remind the hon. member that we have 25,000 less people working in this Province today than we had when you people took office. It is a disgrace, it is a shame; you should lower your heads when you walk through the foyer there. It is a shame!

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I did not have an opportunity to hear all the debate. I was in the common room and I heard some of the comments of the Member for St. George's. Who else spoke over on that side? Anybody know?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. SIMMS: I heard most of what the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations had to say, which was very disappointing, I might add. I would have thought he would have had something significant to say. I heard the speech by my colleague, the Member for St. John's East Extern. I heard on the monitor parts of the speech of the Member for Fogo who did a marvellous job, I thought, of explaining what this is all about.

This is not a joke today, Mr. Speaker. It is not meant to be funny. It is meant to be a serious issue so that the elected representatives of the people would have an opportunity in a debate, for a couple of hours this afternoon, to perhaps, from our perspective, call on the Government to be accountable - present some ideas and some plans - and to hear from the Government what those ideas and those plans are. Unfortunately, I am afraid and I am sad to say that if there had been people in the gallery today they would have been extremely disappointed. They would have been very disappointed because nothing, frankly nothing in my assessment has come out of this debate today - not very much of anything - and that is sad. It is a sad reflection on our system, and it is probably a sadder reflection on all of us as elected people, to be quite frank with you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: You see, Mr. Speaker. That is the problem. Therein lies the problem - a perfect example of what the problem is.

AN HON. MEMBER: A big joke.

MR. SIMMS: Members on the Government side in particular, who have the responsibility and obligation to govern, and to provide policies and leadership, do not seem to be showing the leadership. They do not seem to be listening. They seem to be casting it all off as a joke, and that is sad.

MR. MATTHEWS: They are not hungry.

MR. SIMMS: That is sad. Now I do not say that about everybody over there. I know there are some, but there are many who are not taking their responsibilities very seriously.

I do not have a lot of time, so I just want to touch on a couple of things. We talked about some suggestions and ideas that could be offered to the Government for consideration. One of the ideas is similar to the idea that the Premier himself put forth at the First Ministers' meeting back in February - February 10 of this year - when he pleaded with the Federal Government to accelerate capital projects to try to stimulate economic activity in Canada, and presumably in Newfoundland and Labrador. He said then, and he said long before that back in January that Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government, was intending to accelerate its own capital projects, the municipal capital projects and the transportation capital projects. That was back in January.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what he said.

MR. SIMMS: I recall being a member of the Government back in 1987 when in fact we did precisely that, and it was beneficial to the economy, but we issued the tender calls in January - not in February; not in March. The Minister of Municipal Affairs today said that soon after the Budget or whenever they will be tabling the statement, so right now you are looking at April, I guess, more than likely. We do not know when the Budget is for certain yet, do we, I ask the Minister? No, not certain.

MR. MATTHEWS: Leonid does not know.

MR. SIMMS: So it may be late March. Therefore it will be April, so where is the early tendering? That is not early tendering as the Minister well knows, being a mayor himself for twenty years. Early tendering would be January so that you would have everything ready. Last year they talked about early tendering and what happened was that we basically got about eight months behind schedule because it was the fall before a lot of projects even came on stream.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) do now is June.

MR. SIMMS: No, Mr. Speaker, we had early tendering in January in 1987. We did so, and I believe we did it another year as well as a matter of fact.

AN HON. MEMBER: Two years.

MR. SIMMS: There again, Mr. Speaker, who cares what we did or what they did? The issue here is what is good, and what is good is early tendering. That is what is good, but early tendering means January, and I am surprised that some of the ministers over there would not have put more pressure on to do the early tendering that they promised to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: It would have been done if he was there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, I guess a lot of the roads stuff is gone, but the municipal capital stuff -

MR. MATTHEWS: The federal stuff is gone.

MR. SIMMS: A lot of the federal stuff is gone early, and that often happens; but the municipal and provincial roads program, the municipal capital grants is not gone, and that is the one the Premier was talking about when he said, in Newfoundland and Labrador we are considering advancing by several months the $60 million municipal capital works program.

MR. TOBIN: So what? He lied.

MR. SIMMS: I mean here it is. Let's face it, that is a joke, and that is sad because that would have been good for our economy. We should have done it. We should have done it. That would have been a suggestion I would have made to the Minister of Employment. Surely he lobbied hard to have that done by Cabinet -

MR. MATTHEWS: No he did not. No he did not.

MR. SIMMS: - to fulfil the Premier's commitment, but it has not happened.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, and I have no doubt this is occurring, the government should make representation to the Federal Government to accelerate some capital projects that the Federal Government is going to be primarily responsible for in terms of funding, like the Outer Ring Road. I presume members on that side of the Legislature, on the Government side, support the Outer Ring Road. The Member for St. John's South nods he does. The Minister of Education -

MR. MATTHEWS: Is not sure.

MR. SIMMS: Maybe that is a question we should ask in the Legislature some day. Is the government supportive of the Outer Ring Road project or not?

AN HON. MEMBER: With conditions.

MR. SIMMS: With conditions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, as a matter of fact hasn't there already been a

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, but I mean there was a preliminary assessment done which indicates there would not be any difficulty.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, but there was a preliminary estimate done, or an environmental assessment done that indicated no difficulty. The Trans-Labrador Highway: Now I have no doubt that in the Provincial Budget of next week or the week after the Minister of Finance will be touting long and hard, he might even bend a page or two on the Trans-Labrador highway, I have no doubt, with a bi-election looming in Naskaupi, to somehow give the impression that the Province is the one that is really trying to put the Trans-Labrador highway there. They will have this big announcement to make they hope. Well, I am not so sure -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, we never did it that way, Mr. Speaker. No. No we did not.

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the Trans-Labrador highway will be undertaken. I have no doubt of it. I feel very positive about it, but it will only be done if the Federal Government is prepared - the federal Tories who you spend all day long knocking - to put the tens of millions of dollars that are going to be needed for that project, a project, by the way, which we started. This government that we were all part of started the Trans-Labrador highway, so do not tell me about our commitment to the Trans-Labrador highway.

Now, Mr. Speaker, very quickly there is one other thing we can do and it ties in with Notice of Motion or Notice of Resolution that my friend from Baie Verte - White Bay gave notice of yesterday or the day before, and I happened to listen to it. I doubt very much if members opposite even heard him, but I happened to listen to it, and he talked about the need to build a viable sealing industry in this Province by the government taking the initiative to invest in the infrastructure required to make sure that we can have good product development, good market research in terms of the sealing industry, because, as we all know, the tanning and most of the other work that is done on the 60,000 or so seals that we take now is done outside the Province up in Ontario, I think, for the most part.

AN HON. MEMBER: Those chairs.

MR. SIMMS: So the jobs are being created in Ontario and not here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now if the intent of those who call for an increased seal harvest simply means that we will have a few more people going out for another three or five weeks, whatever it is, three or four weeks I guess, to get seals and do nothing else about it, and continue to send them to Ontario, then all we are doing is creating jobs in Ontario. We are not creating jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador. So I like that idea. In fact, it is one that I myself have advocated for quite a while internally within our party. So I will be supporting that resolution whenever we get a chance to debate it.

So that is something that the Province - the onus is on this Government. They could do that now. Let's not wait until some decision is made down the road as to what is going to happen with respect to seals or anything else. Let's not wait for that. Let's go ahead and undertake now as a government to bring in programs that might be required, and help undertake the infrastructure that is necessary to do the things that are going to be required: product marketing and all the rest of it. So, Mr. Speaker, there is an idea for the government. Perhaps they will have that in their Budget.

The other thing is this government has in the three years they have been the government added to the tax burden of the businesses in this Province consistently year after year after year. It cannot be denied. So what happens? All you have to do is read your Budget speeches, read your Budgets and you will see the taxes on corporations and businesses in this Province have increased every year for the last three years since this Government came into power.

So if you want to do something to stimulate the economy, and obviously it has be regressive because we are not in any better shape, maybe you could look at withdrawal of some of those taxation measures that you imposed yourself over the last two or three years. I expect to see that in the Budget because I expect this Budget to try to be a Budget that is much like Mr. Mazankowski's, that is not going to get an awful lot of criticism or attack, it is going to be well worth it. That is my guess, it is only a speculation, we don't know.

Mr. Speaker, another thing the Minister of Employment could do in terms of encouraging businesses to create jobs is he could institute, for a longer term, and maybe get a few more dollars somewhere - because you can get it if you need it. His colleague can get $12 million for Social Services. If you want to get a few extra million for private sector initiative, private sector employment initiative of some sort, call it what you want. We used to have one called the private sector employment program, as he knows. I think they cancelled it in 1989 but then they brought in something similar to it and called it something else last year.

AN HON. MEMBER: And it didn't work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) weeks!

MR. SIMMS: Well, I'm not sure if it did or didn't. I know a lot of businesses out there which would be interested in employing people, hiring people, if they had the incentive. So, those are four or five ideas, Mr. Speaker, in just ten minutes. But the government has creative thinkers in the senior bureaucracy. They have people with imagination, people with brains in the senior bureaucracy, a lot of people over there. They should have had their sleeves rolled up for the last three years, and instead of sitting on their fannies, instead of throwing their hands up in the air, they should have been saying, Let's stay the course, cut, cut, cut. Never mind anything else.

MS. VERGE: They're following Clyde's orders (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, I understand that. I didn't want to get into that too much. Enough has been said about that. I am sure they are hurting over that.

Now, I want to take a minute or two just to reflect on comments made by the Member for St. George's. I heard him talking about unemployment statistics. I took the opportunity to get somebody from my office to go out to the Newfoundland Statistical Agency, his own government statistical agency, in the executive council of the government. Okay? Now, I don't think the member did much research on it -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. SIMMS: The Member for St. George's.

- because he used stats that were totally incorrect, totally inaccurate, Mr. Speaker. Here is the book: "Statistics of Newfoundland and Labrador", put out by his own government. The stats that he used - first of all, he talked about the unemployment stats back during the Liberal days, back in the 'sixties, and how they were much lower.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh yes he did - when we were the government, when we were in power, when the Conservatives came to power it went up, the unemployment rate skyrocketed. He said that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, skyrocketed. But you said when we were in power it was much, much lower. Much, much lower is what he said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, he did. He did say it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MATTHEWS: He doesn't know what he said.

MR. SIMMS: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I may be mistaken, and I am prepared to admit it if I am mistaken. But one thing that members opposite should realize and understand is that in the early 'seventies, the Unemployment Insurance Act was amended to allow fishermen to claim unemployment insurance. So, from the early 'seventies on, the unemployment stats were totally different from the stats prior to the early 'seventies. In fact, your own stats agency will tell you: don't make any comparisons before 1975, for example, with anything beyond that, because they are not comparable - totally different statistical methods used in calculating the unemployment rate, Mr. Speaker. So it is a bit misleading to use those kinds of arguments.

The other thing is, of course, the stats he talked about. Now, Mr. Speaker, as I read the stats from his own government's book, the point we were making is that in 1989, when they came to office, the unadjusted unemployment rate was 15.8 per cent; 17.1 per cent in 1990; 18.4 per cent in 1991; and at the moment it is 20.1 per cent, 1992. So that is an increase of in excess of 4 per cent in a three-year period.

In 1985, which was the highest rate, by the way, prior to - I don't know where he was using this number 22-something or other. The highest rate was in 1985, when it was 20.8 per cent, unadjusted - not 22, 20.8. By 1989, four years later, the unemployment rate had dropped to 15.8 per cent. So under the Conservative administration at that time, the unemployment rate dropped by five percentage points in four years. Your unemployment rate has grown by over 4 per cent in three years. So you can do whatever you want with statistics. You can play with them as much as you want, but there is nothing that can dispute the facts.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my time is up, so I simply want to say this to the Government House Leader, who directs - when the Premier is not here he directs, presumably, how people will vote. I would really have a difficulty if the government were not prepared to vote in support of this resolution, which simply says that the government honour its promises to the people of the Province and that the government, in addition to its long-term plan that it says it is going to bring, present immediately to the Legislature its own plan to create jobs and to address the situation that faces our people and our future. That is a pretty straightforward resolution. I would humbly ask that the government acknowledge its responsibility and own up to its obligation, and, for once, vote in favour of this resolution as a way to show it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, resolution defeated.

MR. SPEAKER: This House stand adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.