April 10, 1992                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 24


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I stand on, I will not call it a point of privilege, I suppose, but clarification. A few days ago a statement I made was looked upon with some scepticism by the government when I said I thought they were running a polar bear in St. Mary's - The Capes. I think the fact now that it showed up at a bingo last night in St. Joseph's proves that I was correct.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Premier. The government has withheld from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador the entire Hughes Commission Report, recommendations and all, for the more than ten months the government has had the document. The government now seems to be looking for excuses to keep the report hidden even longer. What does the Premier say to Mr. Justice Hughes' statements quoted recently by CBC Radio, number one, that if some of his recommendations are not implemented soon, it will be too late to achieve the desired ends; number two, that his report will soon be cold mutton; and number three, that it is nonsense to suggest that the report has anything to do with new police investigations into activities at Mount Cashel in the 1940's or the 1950's?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I have forgotten the first question. The second question was that if it is not done soon it will be cold mutton. Only Judge Hughes knows whether what is in the report is mutton - cold or hot. For what it is going to be, I cannot accept any responsibility. The first question I have forgotten. It was, why we were withholding it? Let me tell the House that we are most anxious that that be made public as quickly as it can. We have no reason whatsoever to delay it. We would like to do it right at this moment. We would like to have done it six months ago. We acted properly solely out of concern for the administration of justice.

When the report was about ready to be released, at the conclusion of the last of the trials, all of a sudden, there was made public, or made known, the fact that there was another police investigation relating to some years earlier. The Attorney General at the time took the sensible precaution of saying to the Director of Public Prosecutions, check the report thoroughly to make sure that if we release it we do not prevent the proper completion of any investigation and the prosecution of anybody that should be prosecuted as a result of it. I hear Mr. Justice Hughes subsequently being interviewed on the radio, or at least a report of what he said, to the effect that there was nothing in the report that related to an earlier investigation. Well, I am glad to hear that and I assume that the Director of Public Prosecutions will come to that conclusion and the minute he does that report will be released. It may well be that he has it done now and it may well be that we will be able to release the report perhaps on Monday as soon as the Attorney General returns.

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the House there is no desire to withhold publication of that report for one minute longer than is prudent in the interest of the administration of justice.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I put to the Premier that it is a government decision to withhold the report. It is not the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions or not the decision of any civil servant.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is up on a supplementary and I ask the hon. member to get to the question.

MS. VERGE: I ask the Premier, since he has the power, will he release the report immediately and not hold it back from the public one day longer?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is dead wrong again, as is usual. The report was withheld by the Government on the recommendation of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That is what was done with it, because we did not want to interfere with the proper conduct of any of these trials and cause a mistrial to be held and have persons who ought to be prosecuted or convicted to escape their responsibility.

Now, let me tell hon. members we have nothing whatsoever to cover up. Remember, it was this government that altered the recommendation in terms of reference to the original report to include an inquiry into the operations of the Department of Justice on the matter, so we have nothing to cover-up. We made it a proper report and it would have been a whitewash if we had not done so.

Mr. Speaker, the report will be released perhaps on Monday. What the hon. member is saying about it has nothing whatsoever to do with it. In the ordinary course, the matter will be dealt with in a responsible manner, as I have indicated, and I am quite anxious to have it made public at the earliest possible opportunity.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is nonsense. The government could have released the report months ago and the government could have released the report when it first promised, the day after the trials were over.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MS. VERGE: My supplementary is: why didn't the Premier release the report when the trials were over? The Kenny trial has been over for a couple of weeks now.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The government could have released the report immediately we received it. Now, that is what would have been done in the ordinary course except that trials were in progress and we acted prudently and properly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it would have been released immediately the Kenny trial was completed, except for the fact that this additional investigation was underway. We acted prudently and properly. I have no reason to doubt the word of Mr. Justice Hughes, that there is nothing in it that would affect an earlier investigation. But I had nothing to do with it, the Attorney General informed me of what he has done and I have no quarrel with what he has done. I didn't direct it, the Cabinet didn't direct it; he acted responsibly as an Attorney General and directed the Director of Public Prosecutions to do an immediate full scale review and see whether there was anything that would in anyway impair further investigation or the conduct of any trials arising out of it.

Now that is twice that I have explained it. I do not know if the hon. member thinks - she can ask the question again, the answer will still be the same, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this same government was the one which sat on the Arts Policy Committee Report for months. I ask the Premier, in light of the fact that the Royal Commission on Education has now reported, when can we expect to see the report of that commission to the public?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I would expect it pretty well as soon as it is printed. I don't think that there is going to be any reason to delay it; it is not printed yet. They have submitted it in four or five copies of fairly thick bound single side print and you obviously cannot print it in that form or make photocopies to send out, but it is in the process of being printed right now, so shortly after the printing is completed, the government intends to make it public.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Cape, on a supplementary.

MR. HEARN: A supplementary to the Minister of Education.

Government's centralization plans continue to unfold. First in post-secondary education, now we see it (inaudible). I ask the minister: are elementary and secondary education next on the agenda, when will we see government's plan to centralize school boards?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the hon. member is going to have to wait until the government decides what it is going to do with the Royal Commission Report, if he is linking the question to that earlier question. I would say, however, that over the last twenty-five or thirty years we have had consolidation of school boards. I think at one point in time we had 280 or 300 school boards. It came down to thirty-five, twenty-five years ago. It is now twenty-seven. I would expect boards themselves, and perhaps government will examine the recommendations of the Royal Commission Report in view of what is best for education.

I think we have improved education in this Province in the last few years, and centralization of school districts and schools in some cases have contributed to the improvement of the quality of education in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, five seems to be the magic number with this government: five regional offices for Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, five post-secondary regional boards, five health care boards. Is the government looking at five regional school boards to operate all the schools in the Province?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this government promised real change in education, and the rationalization of the post-secondary education system, which has worked extremely well, was one of our achievements. Mr. Speaker, the other government thought about it, as the former minister knows, and they did not do it. They wanted to rationalize the post-secondary system. This government did it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: But as to whether or not we are going to have five school boards or five whatever, I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, I am not in a position to comment on that question at this point in time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the minister's lack of comments speaks for itself. It is no secret that the government is planning a very large reduction in the number of boards because the boards have been told there will be fewer than ten. I ask the minister: how does the government propose to deal with the constitutional rights of denominations to administer their own school boards within the context of five to nine regional boards?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. Let me correct the hon. member's preface to his question. The government has not told anybody there would be eight, ten, five or twenty boards. I might say that in the Province of New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker, they had forty-two school boards last year, and this year I think they have twelve or fifteen. The government has not made any decision with respect to the consolidation of school boards. We are waiting for the report of the Royal Commission, and I am sure in due course these issues will be debated in public.

I might say, however, Mr. Speaker, that the government is delighted that after seventeen years of dilly-dallying on education we created a Royal Commission and that we are going to do what is right in education. We believe that every child in this Province has the right to quality education irrespective of where they live or what they do, and we are going to provide that, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: The minister continues to talk about the great things they are doing in education. I ask the minister: will he have a poll conducted to see what the people think? Whether this present government or the past one did more for education in this Province?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I have seen some polls. They talk about five districts for health and five for post-secondary. There may be five members left after the next election if the polls are any indication. We do not rule by polls, we are doing what is right for the future of education and the future of our people, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Education shouldn't be so pessimistic. They will probably have more than five re-elected.

My question is to the Minister responsible for Works, Services and Transportation, and it is regarding the Trans-Labrador Highway, which he is very familiar with by now. Of course, he is also aware that the company, McNamara Construction, which is doing the construction work on the bridge, last year ploughed the road to facilitate a longer construction season to enable them to place the piers and the abutments in place to facilitate the construction again this year, and to complete certain phases of it last year.

Will the minister now allow a certain amount of funds to be spent on ploughing the road from western Labrador to the Ossock Bridge, to allow the construction company to start to put the approaches to the bridge and to allow them to complete the decking on top of the bridge so the bridge can be constructed earlier than August, mid- to late-August, to facilitate the earlier opening of the road, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With respect to this matter, this matter has gone to tender, a contract has been awarded, and it is the contractor's responsibility to complete the work according to the tender. I understand that the work is scheduled to be completed this year. I do not know that advancing that work, if it could be advanced by a month or so, is really beneficial. As I have indicated in previous answers to the hon. member, the amount of money spent on maintenance on the Trans-Labrador Highway from Lab City to Happy Valley - Goose Bay is dependent on a large number of factors, many of which have not been resolved yet.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the minister in his answer said he did not know whether it would be beneficial. In conversation with the construction company, they have suggested that they could be able to start construction on that bridge as soon as they are able to drive down the road. Now, Mr. Speaker, if the construction of the bridge were finished earlier it would facilitate thousands of miners who are going to be laid off in late July. It would facilitate their driving completely through this Province to get to the Island portion of the Province and thus create thousands of dollars worth of expenditures in this Province, rather than forcing these residents of Labrador West to drive down through Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is waiting for the question.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

They then wouldn't have to drive through these three other provinces, they would be able to drive all the way through this Province. So, Mr. Speaker, it would be beneficial not only to the residents in Western Labrador but to the whole economy, because all the money spent would be spent here in this Province.

Would the minister reconsider and have that road ploughed?

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

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, it may not be, in fact, beneficial to have the road ploughed depending on the condition of the road as it exists at this point in time. As the hon. member is aware many gravel roads in the Province are subject to spring thaw at this time, which makes their condition very rough and I don't know that ploughing would actually be beneficial.

With respect to the work to be done, Mr. Speaker, this work was tendered and the contractor knew under which terms and conditions he tendered it. To now do this may, in fact, be providing assistance to the contractor who was awarded the tender and I don't know if that is appropriate in these situations. The contractor knew he had to complete that work and he knew the conditions under which he had to complete it. To do this now would be to provide assistance. I do not know whether that would be reopening The Public Tendering Act. In fact, I don't know if ploughing the road would make the road in better condition to travel over.

Mr. Speaker, I find the member's questions about workers coming from Labrador to the Island portion of the Province to work somewhat surprising in light of the fact that just a few days ago they were advocating a policy whereby workers in Labrador had to stay in Llabrador and workers on the Island had to stay on the Island and workers on the Burin Peninsula had to stay on the Burin Peninsula.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, I don't know, I probably shouldn't have asked the minister the question because he is embarrassing himself even more.

Mr. Speaker, these miners are being laid off. It is not jobs they are looking for when they come out there. They are coming out here to visit their families.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member should know by now that we are not to debate answers. The hon. member is up on a supplementary and should ask the question.

MR. A. SNOW: Doesn't the minister realize that these people are not coming out here to drive trucks and open new mines on the Island portion of the Province? What they are going to be doing is driving out here to visit their families, spend some money and enjoy themselves on the Island portion of the Province. They are coming here on vacation, Mr. Speaker. Doesn't the minister realize that?

The construction company realizes that they got their so-called subsidy or grant upfront. They were paid $1.5 million extra on this bridge by this regime, Mr. Speaker. So they are not looking for a subsidy there, they are looking to be able to get this bridge completed earlier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member, when the Speaker rises no member should continue talking, and that the member should proceed to take his place.

The hon. member has not asked a question, in my view, and the Chair has been waiting for the question. In any event, on a supplementary the member is aware that he cannot be making a long preamble. So I would ask the hon. member please to get to the question immediately.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker if I offended the Chair I apologize, but I thought I did ask the question. I prefaced my remark with: Does the minister not realize that the people who want to use this bridge, want to use this road, are the people not coming out for employment but coming here to the Island portion of the Province, rather than driving through Quebec, rather than driving through Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! If that was the question, it has been asked.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member wishes to ask a question, that is fine. First he asked: Would I open the road for unemployed workers?. Now he is asking: Would I open the road for tourists to come to Newfoundland from the Island portion of the Province, or people who live in Labrador who want to visit their families on the Island portion of the Province?

Mr. Speaker, let me make one thing clear. When I go to Labrador I hear one complaint... how come so little money was put in the Roads for Rails deal for Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GOVER: How, in an $800 million deal, was only $9 million allocated for Labrador? If that administration had the commitment to the Trans-Labrador Highway that this administration has, it would be done by now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. A. SNOW: The railroad is still operating in Labrador.

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, my question -

MR. A. SNOW: And you probably did not even realize it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has recognized the hon. member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the minister responsible for cultural affairs I would like to ask my question to the Premier. The last two years this particular government has increased the grant to Them Days Magazine from I think it was $20,000 in 1989 up to $40,000 - the grant to Them Days Magazine. Could the Premier advise if the $40,000 grant that Them Days Magazine has received last year and the year before will continue this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I will take the question under advisement and advise the House, Mr. Speaker. I do not know the details right at the moment.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

I ask my second question to the Minister of Finance. As the Minister of Finance is responsible, and has brought down his Budget, could the Minister of Finance advise if the grant for Them Days Magazine, which was $40,000 last year, is the same as it was last year or is it less?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That question will be taken under advisement, as the Premier promised, and that is how it will be.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

I would ask the Minister of Finance, or the Premier, I understand the House will adjourn most likely today for the next two or three weeks. Would the minister or the Premier kindly advise this House today if that grant will remain the same as $40,000 or more or less?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, as hon. members know, usually when I am asked questions like that I try to get it within half an hour if I can. I even sometimes interrupt the House to provide the answer. Today will be no different. If I can get it, it will be done.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. The minister will be aware that last night there was a meeting held in the Goulds concerning the agricultural zone for the northeast Avalon. I guess the general thrust of that meeting would be to try to get a review, or get the zone removed completely. This causes, as the minister will know, a lot of uncertainty amongst the farmers in that area who are presently trying to invest money on their environmental manure management systems, their new barns, and trying to keep their business going. Could the minister inform the House what is the Province's stand on the agricultural zone for the northeast Avalon?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: I thank the hon. member for his question, Mr. Speaker. I am aware there was a meeting held last night and the focus of the meeting was to discuss the agricultural zone. I want to inform the hon. House and the hon. member that the position of this Government is that we recognize how valuable the agricultural production is on the northeast Avalon. We recognize how scarce good agricultural land is on the northeast Avalon and it is our intention to protect the agricultural land that is presently in the zone and to guarantee that the farmers on the northeast Avalon continue to produce and continue to make the same contribution to the economy that they have made in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Kilbride on a supplementary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the minister's answer. It will certainly go a long way to alleviate the farmer's concerns in the area. There will probably be a request to the minister to review this zone in the near future. I ask the minister if he is planning to review it again and if so would he do it as fast as possible so that the farmers can get on with their business and know if they are going to be in business again in the next year or the next two years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member knows being a past minister of agriculture the zone was created, I think, in 1973 and he knows there have been reviews and changes and land has been deleted. When it can be justified there is an occasional deletion from the zone and that has been happening since 1973 but government is not planning on a general review of the zone. The zone, I suppose, in one sense is always under review but it is our position that the zone as it exists will be protected and that any requirement for a deletion will be judged on its own merits.

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

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

I have a question for the Minister of Finance. Last night at the University while participating in a forum the Minister of Finance made quite an inflammatory statement and said that public servant wages in this Province were obscene. I would like for the Minister of Finance to explain to this Legislature and to the people of the Province how he could make such an inflammatory and derogatory statement about public servants in this Province?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I did not see the hon. member there last night. Perhaps he was hiding under the seat, as he darn well should hide, when you look at their financial record over the past seventeen years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the remark I made was that a certain group of people were dominating that forum. There were only a few people there and most of them were people who seemed to have a particular point to make and kept making it over and over and over as if the only problem in this Province was the fact that we had not raised public servant wages. There are very serious problems in this Province. We have serious problems with respect to the fishery. We have an unemployment rate getting up to 20 per cent. These are very serious concerns yet the only concerns portrayed by those people who were pushing this point were that they had not got their 23 per cent raise.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Make no wonder there were not too many people there when they found out who was going to be there. Having said that I would like for the Minister of Finance to answer a very simple question for me. Would the Minister of Finance tell me what the pay scale is for those at the lower end of the public service, the clerks, the stenos, and so on? Would the Minister of Finance tell me what their wages are and if he thinks their wages are obscene?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt the wages of people on the lower wage scale in the public service are not high and people are finding it hard to live. I might add this though, and I made this point last night, that one third of the people in St. John's Centre are working for the minimum wage which is $4.75 an hour. These are people who work in service stations, who look after the sick in people's houses, who work in shops and places like that. They all earn the minimum wage or pretty close to it, less than $10,000 and there is no public servant who is not making twice that.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the minister there are some public servants who are making very low wages, and if you compound that now with the second year of a wage freeze where they have lost about 10 per cent of their purchasing power they are finding the situation very, very rough I say to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, the most obscene thing here is that the minister would make such a remark, especially in light of the benefits he is receiving as a member of this House and through prior service. That is the only thing that is obscene.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get on with his question.

MR. MATTHEWS: I want to ask the hon. minister to do what I consider a very honourable thing in light of what he said last night which has slighted a lot of public servants in this Province. Will the minister stand in his place today and apologize for making that very inflammatory remark to public servants?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I will backtrack nothing and I will say it again: That the economic circumstances facing this Province today with the lowering of the federal transfer payments to this Province - now they are 45 per cent instead of 50 per cent - and the situation facing us in the fishing industry, with the slowdown in Hibernia, with the recession in this country and throughout the world, it is not appropriate for people to be trying to increase their own piece of the pie at the expense of everybody elses.

We were unable to raise social services, Mr. Speaker, this year by any more than 2.2 per cent. That is the type of person I am very much concerned with. We are concerned about the public service wages. We wish we didn't have to freeze, but we had no choice but to do so.

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

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier.

There has been great emphasis placed on foreign overfishing and I think it is of grave concern to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Mr. Speaker, I am confused, as a lot of people out there are confused, as to who is speaking for the government. The hon. the Member for Port de Grave, an ex-Cabinet minister, says that we should use gunboat diplomacy and violence. The Minister of Fisheries came close to that yesterday evening when he said: The diplomatic era is over, so what other era is left? But the Premier has stated unequivocally: This type of action is out of the question.

Mr. Premier, I ask: Who speaks for government?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: On fisheries matters generally, the Minister of Fisheries speaks for government. Accept what he says without question, he is speaking for government. The Premier, as the Premier does in respect of all departments, speaks for the government generally and occasionally functions in respect of matters arising in any minister's department. That is nothing new, that is perfectly normal, and when I speak I speak for government.

There has been nothing said differently. The Minister of Fisheries has said absolutely nothing that in any way is different from what I have said. I may have said more, he may have said more, but there has been no contradiction.

Now, no member who is not in Cabinet speaks for government. It doesn't matter who it is. No member who is not in Cabinet speaks for government. Now, in the meantime, I heard a report this morning. I don't recall - yes, I think I heard a voice report about the hon. the Member for Port de Grave. I don't know whether he said what the hon. gentleman says he said, but what I heard on the radio certainly didn't indicate it. What he has represented to the House is totally inconsistent with what I heard attributed to the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: I take pleasure in tabling the Annual Report of Newfoundland Farm Products, 1990-1991.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will move the following resolution.

WHEREAS it is desirable to designate a day of mourning to remember workers killed, disabled or injured in the workplace and workers afflicted with industrial diseases; and

WHEREAS such a day of mourning would confirm and emphasize a commitment to the issue of Health and Safety in the workplace; and

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada has designated the 28 day of April as such a day of mourning, with such day not being a legal holiday or non-judicial day.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly supports the recognition and designation of the 28 day of April in each year as a "day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace" and directs the government to declare such a day as an official day of mourning by such name without creating a legal holiday.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 2, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act, 1989", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill No. 18).

MR. BAKER: Order 11, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province". (Bill No. 17).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before getting to the content of this particular bill, I would like to, first of all, go over a little bit of the background leading up to the necessity for introducing such a piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, three years ago, we took over the government of this Province. At that point in time, Mr. Speaker, for a number of years, the economy of Canada, particularly of central Canada, had been particularly strong. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, year after year, notifications would be received from Ottawa that equalization payments would be higher than expected and the previous government lived pretty high off the hog on those amounts of money that every now and then they would be notified would be coming from Ottawa over and above what was expected, because the economy of central Canada was going strong, tremendous expansion. There was continued expansion, Mr. Speaker, in the world economy and projections were that the expansion would continue.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we brought in a Budget and the Budget was in line with the reality of the time. We increased expenditures in health care; we added acute care beds; we added chronic care beds. In terms of education, Mr. Speaker, we increased the equalization payments to the boards and put more money into the educational system. We increased scholarships; we provided more money for student aid and, Mr. Speaker, these are the kinds of things that are good, the kinds of things that this government has always wanted to do, the people on this side of the House.

But, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, unfortunately, that expansion did not continue. At first, Mr. Speaker, the first warnings that we got were that the economy of central Canada was slowing down, that the equalization payments that we get would not be as high as expected, that the federal government is very worried about their other transfers and were putting certain limitations and caps on the other transfers. But primarily we were told that our equalization payments would be down. As a matter of fact, at one point in time we were told that there was an overpayment and we would have to pay back that overpayment, which is a normal occurrence in terms of the agreements between the governments.

So, Mr. Speaker, we were given an indication that the economy would, in fact, slow. Here in Newfoundland we were heartened by the fact that the Hibernia project would get underway and provide a large number of jobs for a limited number of years. We were heartened by that fact but, at the same time, we knew our transfers, our equalization would not increase at a rate that had been expected.

At that point in time, Mr. Speaker, we indicated our concerns to the people of the Province, concern that there was going to be a shortfall in revenues, and that at the present rate of expenditure, we could not keep up the present rate of expenditure.

Mr. Speaker, before this downturn happened we were receiving over 50 per cent of our revenues from Ottawa - over 50 per cent of our revenues from Ottawa. That has very rapidly deteriorated - very rapidly deteriorated. So, Mr. Speaker, we were told that transfers would be down, and, in fact, they have been less than expected in every single year since that first Budget. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, in the past three years, if you were to total up the amount of money we could have expected to have gotten through normal expansion, if we look at that figure and compare it with what we actually got, the total over the last two and-a-half years that we are below that expected level would probably hit $500 million. What we couldn't have done with an extra $500 million!

Mr. Speaker, there is no point in crying about that. What I am talking about today is reality. That happened. There was a slow down in the Canadian economy for whatever reason. I don't want to get into those reasons. That is a fact. In many parts of southern Ontario the economy has been devastated, therefore the money is not there to pay to us in equalization payments. So, Mr. Speaker, whether that Canadian recession was a home generated recession or the result of the international situation, I do not even want to get into.

But, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out one more thing. There have been tremendous changes in the world, it is not just Canadian. And I wonder if hon. members realize that for the last fifty years - now fifty years is a long time. I was not very old fifty years ago, I must say. Fifty years is a long, long time. Do members here remember, does anyone recognize what the world was like fifty years ago? Well, I want to tell hon. members, and this is something that they might be very, very surprised at, that last year for the very first time in fifty years, the economy of the world shrank. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a very unusual occurrence. We are not in normal times. We are not in usual times, and the concept of continued expansion has to be thrown out the window. The world economy has declined.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that has been happening to us, and again, I do not want to get into the reasons for it. It's nobody's fault. Maybe the fault lies with the attitude, not only in Newfoundland, not only in Canada, not only in North America, but the attitude in the world that expansion could go on forever. Maybe that is where the fault lies, I don't know. But these are very unusual times. Members opposite might like to pretend that this is just a normal situation, and this government over here now is causing all this to happen. Again, I want to stress, these are not normal times, either in Newfoundland or Canada, or North America, or the world. So we have come upon unusual times.

Coupled with all that, as if that were not enough, what else has happened to us? The world economy has shrunk. Central Canada, the engine that fuels the activity in this country and that provides money for equalization payments, that engine has slowed down. We have not had the revenues.

What else has happened to us? On top of all this, because the world economy is shrinking, there have been soft markets in paper and so on. We have had problems with the mining and forest industries in the Province. The fishery - the fish apparently are no longer there. The fishery, the backbone of this Province, the industry that we rely on for tens of thousands of jobs can no longer be relied on, apparently. The fish are not there. So, on top of all these external factors, we have that happening to us.

Mr. Speaker, these are not normal times. In our lifetimes, this has not happened to this Province before. Since we became a province of Canada, certainly, this has never happened to us before. These are unusual times.

So that is kind of an overview of the situation facing this government and some things that have happened. The rest of what I want to say I would like looked at in the light of all of these things that are mere facts, that are facts that cannot be argued. These are facts.

Now, what did we do? How did we respond, when this sequence of events overtook us, or when we could see things happening? One of the first things we did - one of the first things I, personally, did, directed by Cabinet - was to call in the public sector union leadership. We sat down in the Treasury Board boardroom, leaders of all the public sector unions, and I went over the situation. Now, at that time we didn't know the full impact, we didn't know about the situation in the world, and we didn't know about what was happening to our fishery. We called in the public sector unions and said: Look, there are things happening, our revenues from Ottawa are disappearing.

Mr. Speaker, just as an aside, in terms of revenues from Ottawa: The revenue from federal sources, as I indicated before, as a percentage of our expenditures is way down, which means that what we have to get from the Province is up. But what I would like to point out is that this is, I have been told, the only province in Canada where this has happened, that the revenue from federal transfers has actually dropped in absolute numbers. Mr. Speaker, this is the only province in Canada where that has happened.

Mr. Speaker, in 1989 - 1990, there was $1,359,000,626. Do you know what it was in 1991 - 1992? It was $1,328,000,000, lower in actual numbers, lower in actual dollars. Now, if you add on over that two-year span the inflation and so on, you will see what a tremendous drop in actual money we got from the federal government, not as much of an increase as we expected but a drop in actual dollars. Mr. Speaker, I am told this is the only province in Canada that this happened to.

So, Mr. Speaker, I sat down with the public service union leadership and I explained this to them. I said: Look, we are being told from Ottawa that there is going to be a tremendous drop in transfers. We can look at our own numbers and see that the activity is going down. We are in a very serious situation. Right away we have to start taking measures to stop expenditure, to control our expenditure - and we did. But I would like you, as leaders of the public service unions, to be aware of what is happening to give you an opportunity to provide some input. Because, as I pointed out to them, over 60 per cent of our expenditure goes into salaries, goes into your membership. This is what is happening to our revenues. This is what is happening, and we give you an opportunity for input.

Mr. Speaker, they sat around the table, they nodded and listened to what was said and accepted the numbers that were given. I said: Now, in a month or so I would like to get together again and hear any response that you might have. Mr. Speaker, at that point in time I, being a little naive, I suppose, being still relatively new at the job, assumed that you did these things quietly, that you sat down with responsible leadership in the unions and you privately and quietly discussed these matters to give them an opportunity for their input privately and quietly, so that you would not make a media circus of this. That was my approach the first year.

Mr. Speaker, a month later, I wrote letters to the leaders of some of the major unions, particularly the NTA and NAPE and CUPE, indicating that I hadn't had any response, that they were supposed to get in touch with me but they hadn't and that they had had adequate time, and did they feel that there was need for another meeting, did they want more input? Again, I had no reply, so I phoned and suggested that we get together again.

This time, I got together with them individually. Because again, being naive, I thought, well, being a group, nobody wanted to open up, so I would talk to each of them individually. I went through the trouble of talking to each of them individually, explaining the situation anew, explaining that there had been further deterioration, and just having a conversation about the possible solutions to the problem. I indicated to them at that time that we had a budget coming up in three or four months and that we were going to have to deal with this problem. Now is the time for input.

Mr. Speaker, I kept trying, quietly, confidentially, to get input from the leadership. Sadly, there was none. So, last year, we had to do the Budget without input from the leadership of the public sector unions, and we did the Budget. What we did was this, essentially: in order to survive we cannot go out and borrow huge amounts of money. In order to survive as a province, in order to keep our services, we had to eliminate about 1,700 or 1,800 jobs and we had to freeze the public sector wages, because you cannot pay out money that you do not have coming in. That is something that has not sunk in to most of the members opposite yet. You cannot pay out money you don't have coming in. So we did that, and they were harsh measures in terms of the public service, but it had to be done. Thank heavens it was done.

So, at that point in time, we were of the opinion - and we were being told by the financial people and so on - that Newfoundland would experience in that year some growth, that the Canadian economy would recover. Remember the stories about this recession and it was caused by the GST and it would recover as soon as the effect of the GST went through the economy and all that kind of stuff. So the economy was going to recover. So we could see a bad year but we were very hopeful that the next year, this current one, we would see some improvement.

Public service unions, after the last Budget, denied that we had ever had any meetings, in spite of the fact that I have letters on file, two of them, concerning the meetings, and so on. They chose to ignore totally the problems being faced by the Province and simply sat back and let happen whatever would happen. Well, we still felt rather hopeful. We thought that by the end of last year we would be coming out of this period, we could see the increased jobs in Hibernia, we could see the possibilities in the fishery, we could see the solidifying of the markets in the paper industry, and all of the economic experts across Canada were telling us this. We could see this. We were not as optimistic as they were but we felt we would be into some kind of a recovery. So we did a one-year wage freeze and we eliminated close to 2,000 jobs.

Now then. Since then, we have been hit with the world situation, the fact that this was not just a recession of southern Ontario caused by the GST or free trade deal, or whatever it happened to be, that this is a fundamental change that is happening in the world, causing chaos and financial disruptions all over the world. The fish, seemingly, disappeared.

We could see these things happening, so once again, we knew that we were in for at least a second and maybe a third year of very, very difficult times. This time we contacted the public sector unions. This time we made sure everybody knew about it, so afterwards they couldn't go to the people and say: 'I am sorry, we never even met with those people.' As a matter of fact, I heard from the Minister of Finance that one of the union leadership last night tried to deny there were ever meetings this year, even though he is on television coming out of the meetings, tried to deny in public that there were ever any meetings this year. But anyway, Mr. Speaker, that is beside the point. We had our meetings.

As the financial situation changed week by week we kept the public sector union leadership informed.

AN HON. MEMBER: First time ever.

MR. BAKER: Up-to-date on the financial situation of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Never been done before.

MR. BAKER: We asked them for input. We gave them all the information they wanted so they could provide input. And, after many, many meetings, Mr. Speaker, after delaying the Budget - because we had said we would not make final decisions, one, until after the federal Budget came down, and two, until after they had adequate chance for input, we would not make any final decisions in terms of their membership. We waited and waited, and we sat down and had meetings.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, as I have said many times before, the union leadership chose to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. They chose to ignore a fundamental fact of life, the fact that you can only pay out what you have coming in. They chose to ignore the fact that there was something happening in the world. They chose to ignore the fact that there was something happening to the Canadian economy and the North American economy, chose to ignore the fact that the money was not coming in. They put their heads in the sand, Mr. Speaker. They kept to their very narrow outlook, which is: Give us the money. Don't cut any of our jobs. Pay us everything. Keep paying the money out, regardless of whether or not you have any coming in. Now, that, essentially, was their view, keep paying it out until we bankrupt this Province. They did not even recognize, Mr. Speaker, that if we were to increase the hourly rates by 10 per cent that we would then have to lay off 10 per cent of the employees. They refused to recognize that reality.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am sick and tired of the sickly, unctuous hypocrisy coming from the Member for St. John's East. I am sick of it. I am sick of it. This is the gentleman, when told that in three of the provinces in Canada this year that have NDP governments there are actually going to be cutbacks in money going into health - which we have never done - there are actually going to be cutbacks in health, his response was: 'Well, they have to do that.' But when we apply it to this Province he believes we have a purse that we can open up and dump the money out somehow. Mr. Speaker, I am sick of his hypocrisy and two-faced attitude.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hypocrisy at its best.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the great NDP hypocrisy at its best.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring back Peter Fenwick, for the love of God!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, so we had our meetings. Nothing came of them and we brought down the Budget.

Bill 17 derives from that Budget. In that Budget we increased money going to the school boards to put into the schools. We increased that because that is something that had to be done. We opened some chronic care beds in this Province. That was something that had to be done. But, Mr. Speaker, we have decided that we will not increase this year the public sector wages. If we were to do that, we would have to lay off more people. We would have to get the money from somewhere. We would have to lay off more people. We only have so much money coming in; therefore there is only so much that can go out. We have protected the jobs of the public sector employees, without any input, without any encouragement from the union leadership. So that is what Bill 17 is about.

That is what Bill 17 is about, and that is the background leading up to bringing in this particular bill. What it does is, it says that this fiscal year there will be 0 per cent increase in total compensation - 0 per cent increase in total compensation; that contracts that are in place, except in instances where there are special provisions, will expire on the normal date, but that this year there will be zero increase in total compensation, and that the next year, and we had to go that next year because we do not want to give the people the false impression that there is a pot of gold there somewhere that is going to magically appear, that all of a sudden during this fiscal year, the Province is going to have another $300 million or $400 million worth of revenue coming in, because that is simply not there. So we have to indicate that to come out of these two years of no increase, we have to come out slowly. So, the next fiscal year, not this one but the next one, we would limit the total compensation increase to 3 per cent. That is the best that we can predict.

Now, in this bill there are some exceptions, and I would like to dwell for a moment on those exceptions. They are listed in Schedule B.

The first group of exceptions are some hospital classes that, unfortunately, two years ago, were left out of consideration during reclassification of the nursing assistants. The nursing assistants were reclassified, received wage increases, substantial wage increases, and in the normal give and take with the unions we sat down and said, okay, which other groupings would be affected by this reclassification? In that process, strangely, they were forgotten about by their own union. They were forgotten about. It recently came to our attention through some individual who had contacted me, as President of Treasury Board. I looked into it and discovered that these classifications should have been moved, back when the nursing assistants were reclassified. So, Mr. Speaker, whereas we cannot go back and do it retroactively, we are now moving these classes where they should have been. These are classifications that require nursing assistants' training and so on before they can get into the jobs. That is one exception.

The second exception are the student assistants, and you can see there the details. The student assistants, two years ago, signed their first ever collective agreement. Part of that collective agreement was that at some point in time they would be classified, because they had never been classified before. Temporarily, they were on a wage scale that was very low, until they would get classified. The mechanism was in place for their first classification. We went ahead with the classification and felt that we had to implement that first classification regardless of the restraint period. That was only fair, that is the other exception, and hon. members can see the increase in hourly rates that the student assistants will get.

AN HON. MEMBER: The student assistants (Inaudible)

MR. BAKER: At the new level. Well, I will deal with the steps in a moment. At scale. I have to point out a mistake in the bill here, a typographical error that I am sure members noticed and I have to correct and point out. On Page 13 under Other Groups: l. Student Assistants, and 11. Facility and librarians. Now, I do not know how we could change facilities at MUN. That should be Faculty and Librarians of the Memorial University of Newfoundland. That should not read 'facilities', Mr. Speaker. We are not going to adjust an internal anomaly to the facilities at MUM but to some faculty members. These are the three specific exceptions dealt with in this bill and once these are taken care of then these groups become part of the wage restraint period as well.

Mr. Speaker, there is another exception I suppose I should point out. We are told that we should have added something to the bill, and we did, and that concerns the normal operation of a collective agreement. Normally, day by day, week by week, there are items that come up. The union contacts us and says: this is in the collective agreement but it should have had a slightly different interpretation and would you change the wording to give this interpretation? If we both agree by mutual consent then we go ahead and make the change. So, the mutual consent idea - in terms of changing things by mutual consent - it is specifically stated in this bill that that is still possible, we are not closing the door in terms of mutual consent.

There is also something else I would like to point out, Mr. Speaker, and it relates to a question asked by the Opposition House Leader a moment ago. What about the steps? Last year during the wage freeze the steps were not considered part of the wage freeze, were not considered part of the total compensation, and in this coming year they will not be as well, the step increases are an intricate part of the pay scale and as people move from one step to the other we assume that is not an increase in the pay scale even though technically it costs a bit more money. The step increases will not be considered as part of that freeze. The theory is that somebody starts to work and it takes a few years to become a better and more proficient worker and some of them go through step increases to recognize that fact. Mr. Speaker, the step increases still will occur outside the restraint, so I hope that answers the hon. gentleman's question.

Mr. Speaker, that is Bill 17. It is based on the foundation that Government collects money from people and we as a provincial government collect money from the federal government. We have a certain amount of money and we have to spend that money and we have to make decisions about the ways the money is spent, how to spend the money the best way possible for the people of this Province, and we find ourselves in a bind, quite frankly. We find ourselves in a serious bind where the revenues have not come therefore the expenditures cannot be made, and the one complicating factor that some members opposite seem to ignore, although the Member for Mount Pearl, to give him credit, recognizes the complexity and the difficulty with the financial situation of the Province. He has always done that every time I have heard him or seen him. Some members opposite do not seem to accept the fact that there is not a limitless pot of money out there where you can simply go and borrow. This year we are going to borrow close to $250 million more than we are taking in. That is a lot of money. That is more than we should be borrowing. On current account, there is $30 million of that. We are borrowing $30 million to pay the light bill. There is a limit, with our credit rating, to how much we can borrow.

Now that is not accepted by the Leader of the Opposition, who has been going around this Province making speeches. I have talked to people who have heard him. I have seen the reports in the press. Going around making speeches, saying that we could have easily borrowed another $100 million or so. The Leader of the Opposition has told those people out there that that is his position.

MR. FUREY: He learned that from Mulroney. One thing in Quebec, one thing in English Canada.

MR. BAKER: I have heard many members opposite, and particularly the Member for St. John's East, who figures we could go out and borrow $200 million or $300 million more and it would make no difference. There is no limit to the Member for St. John's East at all. We can go out and borrow all this money. But, Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we cannot. That we have to be very careful. That we cannot have happen to us what happened to Saskatchewan in the last couple of months, where they have had their credit rating lowered twice and are now down where we are, and if they are not careful it will go down further.

I believe that is one of the NDP governments.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Ontario?

MR. BAKER: Same thing. Ontario has had it's credit rating lowered.

MR. FUREY: BC is the only responsible one.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, they are going through very difficult times. These provinces are cutting back on health care. Even in the worst of the times we have been through in the last couple of years we have not cut back in actual dollars. We have not cut back on the health care system, we have increased the funding. Not as much as we would like, not as much as the people in the system would like, but we have actually increased funding, not cut it as some other provinces are going to have to do.

As the other provincial budgets come down, and as people realise what is happening in the other provinces, they are going to realise that what we did last year made it easier for us this year. That our Budget this year is going to look like a land a of milk and honey compared to some of the other provincial budgets, and what is going to have to be done in the other provinces.

Bill 17 is a result of necessity. I guess we had a choice. We could have said, for instance, to each of the bargaining groups, we could have said to the teachers, for instance: fine, we will give you a 6 per cent salary increase, but we are going to have to cut 500 teaching positions. We could have said that. We could have said to other segments of the public service the same thing: we only have so much money, so if we give you this we are going to have to cut jobs. I suppose we could have gone ahead and done that. But I believe that would be irresponsible. I believe that part of our job as government is to consider the job security of the public service, is to consider the type of service we can deliver to the people of the Province. That is what Bill 17 does.

I have introduced this bill today with a lot of mixed emotions. I do not like to bring in legislation that negates some collective agreements. Although I would like to point out at this time that the exception is the teachers' collective agreement. Their agreement was signed after the wage freeze last year, which they recognise in their agreement, that the wage freeze is in place. They even recognise the possibility of an extension of the wage freeze, because in their collective agreement there was a clause that said that if there is an extension of the wage freeze then the collective agreement opens up again. We re-open.

So in full recognition of what could happen, we have now extended the wage freeze and they have now re-opened negotiations. That was all taken care of in their agreement. But in some of the others it was not. I do not like breaking collective agreements.

So I introduce this bill with a lot of sadness. Sadness for having to break some collective agreements. With a lot of sadness for the people in the Province, for the people in the fishery particularly, who may not have an income this year and cannot pay taxes to this government. Who may be looking for means to put food on their table. A great deal of sadness for these people. With a great deal of sadness for the people in the forestry industry, where the markets are soft and there have been indications of perhaps downtime and so on.

MR. FUREY: Some layoffs on the Northern Peninsula.

MR. BAKER: Layoffs on the Northern Peninsula, yes. For the people involved in the mining industry, we have the one mine left. Mr. Speaker, these are the foundations of this Province - the fishery being the most important. I feel sadness for the people who are going to be affected in these areas. Coincidentally then, they cannot provide us with money. I feel sad for them. I also feel sad for the public servants of the Province. I do not like to freeze wages, but I also do not like to lay people off. But perhaps the greatest reason that I feel sadness for the public servants of the Province is for the fact that I have not seen, in the two years that we have been trying to deal with this problem, one spark, one iota, one indication of any leadership from the leadership of the public service unions - not one spark of leadership, and I feel very sad for the membership of these unions when there is no leadership at the top.

I feel sad, but I also feel proud. I also feel a great deal of pride in the fact that we are in the process of going through times that are unusual in the world - that are not the normal ups and downs that a province runs into - times that are very, very unusual for us as a Province. We are going through the most difficult times that this Province has seen since Confederation - since the great depression. We are going through those very, very difficult times, and I am proud that we have been able to handle it in the way it was handled. I am proud that we have been able to put more money into health care. I am proud that we have been able to put more money into education. I am proud that we are surviving and are going to survive this very unusual time. I am very proud of that, and I am proud that we have shown the leadership to do what had to be done, and not to be pushed around by every single pressure group one way or the other. I am very proud that we have taken the right decisions, and Bill 17 is one of these right decisions.

Aside from the sadness and the pride I also feel at this point in time a lot of hope - hope that because we handle things properly, because we handle the financial situation of this Province properly, because we do the things that must be done, that this Province has a bright future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

The Government House Leader finished off his remarks saying how sad he was about certain things, and I would say for good reason. There are a lot of sad people in the Province today. There have been a lot of sad people in the Province now for over a year, going back to the Budget Speech of 1991 when government announced the drastic layoffs in the public service; when the Minister of Finance stood in his place and said he reluctantly would impose, effective April 1, 1991, a one-year wage freeze throughout the public sector.

Of course, when the Minister of Finance announced that last year, public servants were outraged. Public servants were outraged, Mr. Speaker, that they would have their wages frozen for a year. They were outraged that so many of their fellow employees were going to be given the boots - given the boots by the Government House Leader, the President of Treasury Board who has now left. They were outraged about that because collective agreements at that time that had been negotiated in good faith were torn up in front of their faces. Just a few months before, government had gone to the bargaining table and negotiated wage increases, and, in some cases, pretty significant and substantial wage increases with the leadership of the nurses' union and other unions which represent the various public servants of the Province, good increases, in some cases, and then saw those agreements being torn up in front of their faces and they were upset with that.

They were very upset with the one-year wage freeze, as they thought. One-year wage freeze, the Minister of Finance said in his March Budget of 1991, but what do we find this year? Public servants in the Province thought, when the minister stood in his place just a month or so ago, he was going to announce that the wage freeze would be lifted. I really expected it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I did, too.

MR. MATTHEWS: I thought that the Minister of Finance, when he brought down his new Budget a month or so ago, was going to announce that the wage freeze would have been lifted. I really expected that. Because public servants did not think that after having their agreements torn up last year, in the 1991 Budget, having their wage increases cancelled - she is coming apart altogether, there is no doubt about that, it is all coming apart.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did Vic Young say?

MR. MATTHEWS: Vic said the arse was gone out of her.

Public servants didn't think that the Minister of Finance would come back and extend the wage freeze for another year, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, there is a request from hon. members opposite that the Member for LaPoile take his own seat wherever he goes; when he visits other members to have a chat, he should take his own seat with him, because they at least want their seats left.

But, Mr. Speaker, it has been quite an upsetting twelve months for labour in this Province, plus the two reasons I have mentioned, the drastic layoffs and the wage freezes.

We are talking here and we talked last year about Bill 16. I mean, Bill 17 is only an extension of Bill 16; that is really what Bill 17 is, an extension. We talked last year about trust, lack of trust, mistrust and all those adjectives that we use to describe what had happened last year when collective agreements were torn up, wage freeze imposed. It was a violation of trust by this government which had negotiated just weeks before, in some cases, with unions in this Province for significant wage increases. And what public servants couldn't understand, was how could government go to the bargaining table, just a few short weeks before and negotiate those agreements, knowing full well that they were going to come in and tear them up a few weeks after they imposed a wage freeze, and they haven't recovered from that.

Now, the President of Treasury Board, the Government House Leader, in his closing remarks, talked about the leadership of the unions. He questioned, really, whether there was any leadership in the unions, but I want to say to the President of Treasury Board and the Government House Leader and members of the government opposite, that you should not read into the leadership of the unions what the real feelings are among public servants.

The public servants in this Province are pretty much upset, I say to members opposite, so if the President of Treasury Board, the Government House Leader thinks now that public servants out there really don't care, they are not upset about this, then he is in for a shock because they are upset. The public servants in this Province are very upset. There is a lot of grumbling and moaning around the different departments of government and the Crown agencies. There is a lot of discontent. I think it is fair to say that the greatest discontent is with this government, there is no question, but as well, there is some discontent with the leadership of the various unions, as the Government House Leader has indicated, there is; there is no question about that. We have all picked that up, I am sure.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I said, there is a violation of trust here by the government. The public servants in the Province and the unions will never trust this government again, and, of course, they are not going to have to trust them much longer. They are not going to have to trust this group much longer to deal with, there is going to be a change. And I see the Member for Port de Grave nodding his head over there to approve - he knows, he is out and about this Province more than any other member opposite, I say to him.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Cross the floor, Mr. Speaker, ask him to cross the floor.

MR. MATTHEWS: Cross the floor, yes, I have heard tell, Mr. Speaker, one time way back in the 1960s, was it, when a couple of members came - I am not sure how the story goes- they came and their chairs had been moved to the other side for them and bolted down, but I don't think we have ever seen a member take his seat up in his arms and walk with it. But we need to be careful because we do not want to have to force members back with too many coming across.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is why the hon. the Member for Eagle River is over here.

MR. MATTHEWS: The Member for Eagle River is over here again. Look, here he is, trying to persuade the Member for Torngat Mountains to lobby for him now to get him over here.

Mr. Speaker, I was saying before I got interrupted by the chair moving that the Member for Port de Grave -

AN HON. MEMBER: Look, he gave back the Member for Eagle River his chair and took the one from Mount Scio - Bell Island.

MR. MATTHEWS: The Member of Port de Grave is about this Province more, I would say, than any other member opposite. He is out and about the Province on the fisheries issue. He knows what is happening out there. He is picking it up in his own district. There is a shift on out there, Mr. Speaker, there is a mood change. So it won't be too long now and the public service will be dealing with a new group of individuals, a new administration, one that they will be able to trust, Mr. Speaker.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

MR. NOEL: Tell us where you are going to get the money for the wage increases.

MR. MATTHEWS: I say to the Member for Pleasantville, it is all a matter of priority.

MR. NOEL: What would you cut out?

MR. MATTHEWS: There are things I would cut out, Mr. Speaker. This government is wasting a few million dollars, I say to the member, on a number of things that could be used to lift the wage freeze, to give public employees even a modest increase, which I really expected the government was going to do. I really did. I thought we would see that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader has left. I was hoping he was going to be here, because some of my remarks were to be for him and about him. Maybe he has gone out to try to justify to the press why he had to do this.

He talked for a while about attitude, and the attitude change in the world. There is no doubt there has been a change in the world. He talked about the shrinking of the world economy, and tried to tie it all into why they had to take such draconian action last year and this year with public servants of the Province. But the biggest attitude change, Mr. Speaker, has been with this government and this administration. That is the biggest attitude change that has taken place in North America, because they have obviously plotted to deal very harshly and roughly with the public servants. They obviously believe that there were too many public servants when they came to power and they were going to unload thousands of them. As reflected last night, Mr. Speaker, in the comments of the Minister of Finance up at the university, they obviously thought that the public servants of this Province were making too much money, so they have deliberately plotted to deal with it.

For the Minister of Finance to go up to the university last night and say that for public servants to request a wage increase was obscene, that reflects an attitude.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame!

MR. MATTHEWS: That reflects an attitude of this administration -

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes.

MR. MATTHEWS: - from the Premier all the way down to his Cabinet ministers - the Minister of Finance, to say of public servants in this Province, who had their wages frozen last year and again now this year, that to ask for a wage increase was nothing short of obscene. Mr. Speaker, there is nothing obscene about wanting a wage increase. These people, as I said earlier in Question Period this morning, will have their spending power decreased by 10 per cent by the actions of this Minister of Finance, and he talks about obscenity. Yes, there are obscenities going on in this Province, I say to the Minister of Finance, and he is exercising most of them by the action that he has taken against the public servants of this Province in the last two years.

So that is the real attitude problem that we are facing, Mr. Speaker. And all of the actions that this government has taken in the last two years, the fiscal actions that they have taken, have been counterproductive, Mr. Speaker. They have been counterproductive. The financial situation of the Province has worsened, I say to the Member for Pleasantville, in the last three years. So it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that the financial direction that this government is undertaking has been counterproductive. The bottom line of the Province has not improved, it has worsened.

So I say to the Minister of Finance and the ministers opposite that they need to change the financial direction for this Province, Mr. Speaker. They need to stimulate the economy of this Province which they have flatly refused to do. And the Minister of Finance, last night, as I said, went to the university and made those derogatory put-your-foot-in-your-mouth statements. At the same time, just a few weeks ago, with the same people that he said were being obscene for asking for a wage increase, the Minister of Finance in his Budget document announced that he was going to increase the personal income tax on those people by 4 per cent, 4 per cent between now and January 1, 1993. Where are the people going to get the money to pay the income tax, I ask the Minister of Finance? A 6 per cent increase in personal income tax in two years by this Minister of Finance, yet he says that people who want an increase are being obscene.

So the Minister of Finance has decreased the spending power of those public servants by so much. How does he expect them to be able to survive? The real concern, Mr. Speaker, as I said this morning, is for those public servants who are on the lower end of the pay scales. We are not talking about those who are making $40,000, $50,000 and $60,000 a year. We are talking about those people who are on the lower end of the pay scales. They are not living very well, I say to the Minister of Finance. They are not making a lot of money.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) well, if you don't want wage increases for the upper scale (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No, that's not what I said, I say to the Member for Pleasantville.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: He will have time to speak in the debate. I hope he will stand in his place and express his opinion on Bill 17, this bill that extends wage freezes in this Province for another year. I hope he will stand in his place and talk about it, and give us his true feelings on it. Is he in favour of extending the wage freeze for another year? Is he in favour of giving public servants a modest wage increase? Or what is he in favour of? Maybe we will hear before this debate ends, Mr. Speaker.

I want to go on to say that never before have we seen this Legislature used by a government in the way that the Wells administration has used it. It brings these kinds of bills into this Legislature to tear up negotiated agreements, and it is a reflection, in a way, on this House of Assembly, a real reflection, not only on the government. Because what is happening is that government is using the powers of this Legislature to tear up agreements. I think that is unwarranted. I hope that once this Bill 17 expires, we will not see this kind of action by this government again.

Now, in Bill 17, of course, in the minister's Budget Speech, he went on to say that next year, there will be a 3 per cent increase. He promises 3 per cent increase, that will be salaries and total benefits. It is not for salaries, it is a total maximum package of 3 per cent. But after what happened last year with Bill 16, and with the minister's Budget Speech which promised a wage freeze for one year, which was supposed to expire on March 31, 1992, then how does the Minister of Finance expect the public servants of this Province to believe that the government will even honour the wage increase he promised for the next fiscal year, as set out in the Budget Speech of last month?

What has made it even worse is that the President of Treasury Board, in a few public statements, has gone on to indicate: Well, the 3 per cent will be there if the Province can afford it. So again, we will not be surprised if next year we come back and whoever the Minister of Finance is at the time - I am sure it will not be the present Minister of Finance; there will be a new one - that they will rise and announce that this 3 per cent promise has now been eliminated. That is what the public servants of this Province will expect.

So it is a very serious situation. The morale of the public service has decreased as at no other time in our history. Members opposite always flick back and say: 'Well, what did you do in the mid-1980s when you were the government - 1984 and 1985? No one on this side denies that when we were the government we imposed a two-year wage freeze. We did that, and we did it for all the right reasons, and public servants were annoyed by it. But we did not tear up collective agreements. We announced the two-year wage freeze -

MR. EFFORD: You put them in jail!

MR. MATTHEWS: No, we did not put them in jail. I say to the hon. Member for Port de Grave, that talking about - I had better not say anything. I should just continue to speak. Because, you know, jail - I had better stop.

I just want to say to him, Mr. Speaker, that what we did not do, we did not tear up collective agreements. We announced a two-year wage freeze and as collective agreements expired, then those affected workers had a wage freeze for two years. That is quite different from what this Government did last year when they negotiated increases with the nurses union and others, good increases, and a few short weeks after tore up the agreements and froze the wages. Mr. Speaker, that is a big difference and one that public servants and the people of this Province will not forget for a long time because it was the first time it ever happened in our history. Government bargained dishonestly with the public servants and public service unions and they will not forget it.

Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board and the Government House Leader talked about how sad he was to have to do this today, to introduce this bill and to introduce second reading of the bill. I would say that he would be very sad. He talked about why he was sad and who he felt sorry for and like him I do feel very sorry for the public service of this Province who will have to go another year without any increase in wages or benefits, with the Minister of Finance imposing a 4 per cent increase in personal income tax, imposing a payroll tax on the resource industries of this Province like the fishery, forestry, and agriculture for the first time in our history. The Minister of Finance did not only freeze their wages he drastically increased their taxes. How does he expect people to survive and live in this Province when on one hand he takes away their wages, he cuts their wages, and on the other hand he takes more taxes from them? The tax increases that this government has imposed in three years on the people of this Province is unprecedented. Never before has a government in three years imposed such drastic taxes on the people of this Province. Of course it will all come out in the wash one of these days when the Minister of Finance, the Premier and other ministers have to defend their government's record.

DR. KITCHEN: Bring back the school tax.

MR. MATTHEWS: Never mind bringing back the school tax I say to the Minister of Finance. You talk about other deception, Mr. Speaker, the Premier in the last election went about this Province promising to abolish the school tax, and what did Newfoundlanders and Labradorians think? We no longer have to pay a tax for schools. That is what people thought. What do they find now? Most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as a result of Government action, will pay more tax that will go into education, about 30 per cent more. They are having people pay the school tax to the end of June this year and at the same time they have increased personal income taxes and they have introduced the payroll tax. So people are going to be paying all that between now and the end of June on a promise by Government to abolish school taxes. In my own area of the Province, Mr. Speaker, where we paid around $100 school tax, in my own situation around $100, but on quick calculation because of measures taken by the Government I will now pay about $255, an increase of $155 because Premier Wells abolished the school tax. Now, that has not got out about the Province yet, the way it will before too long.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I hope he does not abolish any more.

MR. MATTHEWS: People will be very upset because they thought when they announced they would abolish the school tax they would not have to pay that amount, but now they are going to pay double or more in some cases. They have imposed it on seniors who did not have to pay it before so these are the actions this Government have undertaken, Mr. Speaker. They have increased taxes in this Province in three years to a level it would take most Governments ten or twelve years to increase by the equivalent amount. That is what has happened, Mr. Speaker. Bill 17 is regressive, Bill 17 is regrettable, Mr. Speaker, and it is an extension of Bill 16.

Certainly when the Premier and the members opposite promised a real change in this Province voters never thought for a minute they would see collective agreements torn up that had been signed just weeks before. They never thought they would be facing drastic tax increases. They never thought they would be facing forced amalgamation, Mr. Speaker. They never thought that was the real change that Clyde Wells and his Government was going to inflict on the people of this Province. They never thought it for a moment but that is what happened.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations knows what real change (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is not here this morning and I would say he is too ashamed to be here. I would say he is too ashamed to come into this Legislature this morning and have to put up with the second bill in two years on wage freezes and on rollbacks. I would say the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is too ashamed to come in here, a former president of the Newfoundland Teachers Association who went about the Province in the mid 80s defending teachers, calling for increases, and fighting the Government of the day. In one case he got before seven or eight hundred other teachers and wept openly in front of them. He said: I cannot get any more from this terrible Government.

Yes, he cried at his clinics in front of seven or eight hundred teachers. I cannot get any more from this terrible government. He gets elected in 1989, becomes Minister of Employment and Labour Relations for the Province, and what does he do? Bill 16 and Bill 17 speak for themselves. I do not have to say any more, Mr. Speaker. They tore up collective agreements. They imposed wage freezes.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

DR. KITCHEN: I am sorry to interrupt, but I do not know if the hon. members will give me an opportunity to answer the question that the Member for Torngat Mountains asked earlier.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: He has leave.

DR. KITCHEN: He asked about the grant for Them Days Magazine. Last year it was $40,000 and the grant this year will be $37,000.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: I thank the minister. I have no problem giving leave when the ministers have answers to questions which we have asked. We are more than delighted. We thank the Premier for undertaking to have the answer come forward, and the Minister of Finance for giving it. We are delighted, but again -

MR. R. AYLWARD: Another reduction.

MR. MATTHEWS: - another reduction. Them Days Magazine, so valuable to Labrador, gets a $3,000 cut this year from this government.

What I was saying, Mr. Speaker, was about the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Labour who before he was elected pretended to be the great defender of labour - President of the Newfoundland Teachers Association - the stand-upper for rights of teachers, and great benefits and wages. The minister, you know what I am talking about -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh.

MR. MATTHEWS: - Yes, the Member for Port de Grave knows, and he says, oh, oh. That said it all. What has he turned into now, Mr. Speaker? A real wimp. A real wimp; but as they say, his day in court will come. His day in court will come, like others opposite.

AN HON. MEMBER: He might have Jack representing him.

MR. MATTHEWS: He might have Jack represent him. He might have the Member for St. John's East represent him. I would say he would have good counsel. I would say he would have good counsel, I say to the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Whatever he charged would be worth it.

MR. MATTHEWS: It would be worth it, yes, that is right. It would be worth it. A good member, a good lawyer. What can we say, Mr. Speaker?

It is regrettable to have to stand here today to - I really did not think that this year we would be standing here debating a bill that was extending the wage freeze on the public service of the Province. It is very regrettable, very regressive. It is not going to do anything to the economy of the Province, I say to the Minister of Finance. We will hear again, in his quarterly report and in his mid-year report how the financial position of the Province has further deteriorated. We have had it now three years in a row.

AN HON. MEMBER: A little behind.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, his budget has never been close to accurate, his predictions. He has gone in one year from a $5 million surplus to just about $100 million deficit. It is acceptable now for this Minister of Finance to be anywhere from $80 million to $100 million out on what he predicts in his Budget. It is amazing how the Premier can tolerate such inaccuracy, but of course the Premier is part of it, because the Budget decisions in essence are done by the - that is why the Budget this year was delayed by three or four weeks. The Premier was away. He was not here. They could not finalize the Budget until he came back, so we cannot blame it on the Minister of Finance. He only reads what the government decides, and we know who the head of the government is. It is the Premier, and of course the Premier has to take the responsibility for extending the wage freeze on the public service of this Province for another year.

It is a most regrettable bill, and I really hope that since the minister in his Budget announced that we will go through this year's freeze and then in the next fiscal year there will be a 3 per cent increase of wages - total package, I believe. It is not all going to be wages now, Mr. Speaker. It will be a maximum of 3 per cent, I believe, is it? I hope that when he, or whoever the Minister of Finance is next year, when they rise in their place to bring in the new Budget Speech, that at least they will honour that commitment that they made this year, because last year they broke their commitment. They said it was a one year wage freeze last year, Mr. Speaker. Now it has been extended to two, and if you reflect last year in the Budget they promised that the delay in the Fogo Ferry was going to be for one year. I am sure we all remember that. Right?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. MATTHEWS: A one year delay in building a new ferry at the Marystown Shipyard for the people of Fogo - not so, Mr. Speaker. It was not announced to be constructed this year in the Budget. So it is a common practice of this government that they say one thing one year, but they do not keep their word.

It is most regrettable, and I look forward to other members debating this controversial piece of legislation and I am sure that before too much time is up, Mr. Speaker, we are going to see the public servants and the unions in the Province show the government in spades what they feel about this piece of legislation that they have had forced on them.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: The Minister of Development wants to talk about French wine. I cannot sit down without that. For those in the gallery who don't know, the Minister of Development yesterday made reference to the Prime Minister who on his way to Paris flew over the Grand Banks and while he was flying over the Grand Banks he was sipping French wine.

Now, he is taking everything out of context because the Prime Minister has made a commitment that he is going to come down and look at the foreign overfishing issue on the Grand Banks for himself, and I thought that was positive. I thought if he would go out there and look at it himself and see the foreign boats it was positive, but the Minister of Development yesterday had to be a little sarcastic and get his little digs in about the Prime Minister flying over the Grand Banks sipping his French wine.

AN HON. MEMBER: He apologized for that.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, there is something that I want put into the record here. It is not only the Prime Minister who likes French wine, the Minister of Development is a lover of French wine.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes. And he is so vain, Mr. Speaker, that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No. Would you know the type of French wine that he likes, the name of it? Now first when he told me -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No, he said it was called Furey. But once getting it from the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, legally through customs, I found out that the wine in essence was called Fleurie, but of course it was close enough to the minister's name that - I am sure when he has people at home now and he entertains with his French wine, he convinces them that it is really Furey, but it is Fleurie. But he loves French wine, I want to go on record, so he should not knock the Prime Minister about that. He knows what I am saying is true because it is a great wine, he tells me and he has had it. I wanted to clear that up, Mr. Speaker, but I think it is positive that the Prime Minister will see the situation for himself, and I hope he doesn't take too long doing it. With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks on Bill 17 and plead with the Minister of Finance that next year, please lift the wage freeze and give them the 3 per cent increase that you promised.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the hon. Member for Port de Grave I would like to welcome to the galleries this morning on behalf of hon. members sixty Grade IX History students from Assumption Junior High in Avondale in the District of Harbour Main with their teachers Peggy Dunphy, Mary Whelan and Jackie Tilley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I too want to take this opportunity to welcome the students to the gallery. I think it is very important for the students to take some time out to come to the House of Assembly to see actually what takes place in here. A lot of people don't take it very seriously, but it is something that the students should be fully aware of especially to learn a part of what is taking place in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador today, and in particular the bill that is being debated here now, Bill 17.

Now the terms that we use here in Bill 17 are hard for some students to understand. It is even hard for some of us to understand the legal process that takes place and the terminology used in the House of Assembly, but it comes down to the basic facts of people wanting something and not being able to get it. Of course, naturally the humanistic approach to that is that they are dissatisfied with the fact they are not able to get the increase in wages that they would like to have. Everybody in this House of Assembly and everybody in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador sympathises with people in this day of the economic hard times we are facing, facing the cost of living, facing the ever increasing cost of day to day essentials they need for their families.

So nobody in the House of Assembly and especially nobody in government likes to be in a position like the hon. the Minister of Finance. Each and every year he must come down with a Budget and make some hard, rational decisions to do with the amount of money that the government takes in, as I was referring to yesterday, and to make sure that the money is distributed in an equal and fair manner which benefits everybody in the Province not putting any special emphasis or special preference to any one group. Naturally people are not going to agree with it, especially those people who have to go through a wage freeze. I would be no different if I were working in the public service sector so I am not going to be hypocritical and say that I would be. Everybody has some aggressiveness, everybody likes to get ahead, and everybody likes to improve from year to year, and everybody likes a little more. There is no question of that. You can't fault those people for asking, and you can't expect everybody to say you did a great job when you brought in the wage freeze. Naturally those people are going to be upset. It is only natural. No matter what labour force you are in, everybody wants to earn more. If we were not like that we would be no use to the people we work for, or we would be no use to ourselves. Because we would be laid back, filled with complacency and apathy, and not caring what happens today or tomorrow.

So it is a natural instinct to care and it is a natural instinct to want more, and students should recognise that. You have the right in this country, in this Province, to speak your mind. You do not have that right in most parts of the world. But you do have that right here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the country of Canada to speak your mind and to protest, as long as it is done within the law of the land and as long as it is done in a peaceful manner.

That is the people's right, to do that. If the teachers do not agree with the wage freeze, if the public servants working for the public service commission do not agree with it, for the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, or nurses or anybody else, they can protest. But you have to understand why it is done. It is not done by choice by the Minister of Finance. He does not sit down there at the beginning of the year when he is preparing his Budget and say that: I am going to give a certain sector a wage freeze because I do not like them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sure he does.

MR. EFFORD: That's silly. That is absolutely silly for anybody to mention, or even to think about that. You have to realise that decisions have to be made, and you have to realise that governments cannot spend money if they do not take money in. It is like when I was in private business. I operated business for some seventeen or eighteen years. Each and every year according to the balance sheet and according to the amount of sales, the amount of revenue we took in, we made preparation to spend next year, either to increase that business, maintain the same level, or decrease, depending on how good your previous year was. Government is no different. You cannot spend money that you do not receive. It is a very simple process.

When the economic times come down hard on us, like the failing of the fishing industry here in Newfoundland, like the recession across Canada that has already been talked about so many times, government still has to make those decisions. I get upset when I do not get the things I want in my district, because I am elected to represent my district. I argue and fight and try to get what I can. It is the natural way to be. But at the end of the day, whether you are satisfied or not, you know and realise, Mr. Speaker, that is the amount of money that is there, and you try to get the best share you can for your district and the people you represent.

Especially the students. They should be fully aware of that. Because it is their future. Some of us old guys here now, some will soon be finished with, another eight or ten years, some less than that. But it is their future. They are the future of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and they should be fully aware of what is taking place, and that they have to go through these things in the future. Unless the proper management plan is put in place, and unless the economic conditions are dealt with of the day, and prepared and better in the future, it is going to be gloomy. It is their future, their Province, and their country. They have to be fully aware.

That is why I say, it is good to see students in the gallery to go through the learning process at this stage, to see what they will have to do. Some of them may be politicians. Some of them may be MHAs here in the House of Assembly, on one side or the other. One of them may even be Premier of the Province in the near future. It is all up to the individual themselves. It is very clear that the proper management plan must be put in place, unlike the previous government in seventeen years. Nobody was ever concerned about the future, they were concerned about the things of the day. That is what really disappointed all of us when we were on the opposition from 1985 to 1989. We totally brought day after day in Question Period about what was taking place today versus the debt that the Province was facing, versus the needs of the future.

The hon. the Member for Green Bay shakes his head and says that is not right. Well, it is so right. Because if it was not right we would not have a debt in excess of $6 billion, with a population of 550,000. When that previous administration took over in 1972 there was a debt of around $800 million. When they left seventeen years later there was a debt of over $6 billion, with interest payments in excess of $600 million a year.

Now I say to the students in the gallery, and I say to all the public servants, I say to all the teachers and nurses: if we had only half of that $600 million that is paid out in interest payments each and every year to pay on the debt, how much more money could you pay for students' education, health services, social services and increase in benefits. I do not think we would have to have a wage freeze this year if you had half of the interest that we pay each and every year, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: In fact the minister just turned around and said you would probably have a good increase this year, so it is not that nobody wants to give out the increases, it is not that anybody wants to have wage freezes, it is the mere fact that you have to deal with the economic situation of the day, the debt incurred by the former administration has to be paid, unless by some miracle it is wiped out and I do not think we are going to get that miracle from Ottawa because they won't pay attention to the crisis facing Newfoundland and Labrador today. They will not talk about the fishery.

If we could get our fishery back to the state where we could make some money on it as I said so many times and again yesterday, revenues would be generated so you would not have to have a wage freeze, but, Mr. Speaker, we have to face up to the reality that Bill 17 is necessary. We know nobody likes it on either side of the House, I certainly do not like it, I have to go out to my district and I have to try to get re-elected in this next election and I know I am going to get opposition from people who want to have an increase and from people who do not want to go through a wage freeze, it is the bare fact of politics, but we have to try to spread the message that it is the best thing we can do under these difficult times.

Surely, we have our own ideas of how he or she would approach the situation if they were in the position to do it, it is all fine to play politics here in the House of Assembly, but it is too bad -and I have to wait for a few minutes for the hon. Member for St. John's East to come back, and deal with the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern, to whom I listened on CBC radio this morning making some statements regarding these difficult times and the expenses that are occurred by MHAs. How hypocritical some of the statements that were made by the Member for St. John's East sounded, so I will wait until the hon. member comes back into the House of Assembly and deal with that situation, because I could not believe it this morning when I heard him on radio at least trying to put a message out to give some confidence that nobody in this House of Assembly is wasting money.

Everybody in this House of Assembly should be responsible and should be at least assuming their duties, representing their constituencies with the least amount of money, but the impression was left this morning that we are irresponsible, that money is being thrown away, but the hon. Member for St. John's East did not tell this morning that while he lives in St. John's and while he is drawing a full salary as an MHA in the House of Assembly, he is also working at a full-time position in a law office and drawing a full-time salary.

When I was elected in 1985, as did many other members in this House of Assembly, what did I do? I had three businesses and I was making lots of money, I am not ashamed to say it. I have been referred to as one of the richest members in the House of Assembly, that is not correct but I am not broke either-

MR. MURPHY: Harris is the richest.

MR. EFFORD: - but I made that money in private business, as did a lot of other members in this House of Assembly, but when I was elected in 1989, I sold all of those businesses. I could have kept them, could have worked at them part-time, could have been a part-time MHA and could have drawn both salaries, but I committed to the people of Port de Grave that I would represent them on a full-time basis in this House of Assembly and I have done that. I represent them, Mr. Speaker, on a full-time basis in the House of Assembly and I am not ashamed -

MR. MURPHY: There is a reason for that.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am not ashamed of the salary I draw as an MHA. I earn that salary, I work twenty-four hours a day, if necessary seven days a week for the people of Port de Grave district and for the people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador as my responsibility as MHA in the House of Assembly. I will take a backseat to nobody and I will hide my head in shame for nobody in this hon. House and nobody in this Province. I knew what the salary was when I was elected and I was willing to take that salary and I was willing to give up the businesses when I got here.

I did not do it and it was not, I should say, forced upon me. But when I hear the statements coming forth from the hon. Member for St. John's East, being hypocritical, in giving out the impression that he is working for the poor people, that he is doing everything he can to help the poor people in this Province, at the same time he is drawing down those salaries, working on a retainer for Memorial University as a law firm, working for the people in the Workers' Compensation Board, drawing $300,000 a year for his law firm and on and on. Renting houses to social service recipients, landlords, poor people's landlords in this city, drawing down a salary from that. How big a hypocritical statement can you make to the people of this Province and expect them to believe it? If you are going to criticize something stand up to what you are doing and say what you are doing instead of criticizing an hon. member if he gets some compensation for his expenses in working for the people in his district. Be honest, the one thing I have been since 1985. I have said what is on my mind and held nothing back but I have been prepared to take the same consequences myself. I don't agree with people being hypocritical and trying to hide behind closed doors and shutters and the backs of other people. People in the Province see that. If I were drawing down pensions and salaries and lawyer's fees I would not worry too much about $40.00 a day for meals, but when it is the only income you have, when the House of Assembly is open and that is the only income you have, I don't think it is too bad and I don't think the people of this Province worry too much about it. They do worry about the kind of situation they themselves are facing from day to day when they don't have money half the time to buy clothes for kids and the things that kids need to go to school. That is what we are here for. That is why we are here in this hon. House of Assembly. The only good thing I can say about the hon. the Member for St. John's East, from the report I got last week from people on the street, I had to commend him, the only time since he came in here that I could say one kind word about him, and I want to repeat that again, Mr. Speaker. It is absolutely kindhearted of the hon. the Member for St. John's East to be so concerned about the fifteen victims he is representing from Mount Cashel that he is doing it free of charge. Now, that is a good thing, Mr. Speaker. That is one of the best things I have ever heard about any politician I have ever known in this House of Assembly since back twenty-five or thirty years, the fact that an individual would work for fifteen victims free of charge where otherwise, he could have possibly made about $300,000 or $400,000. He realizes, Mr. Speaker, what these individuals have gone through. He realizes they are victims of crime, and he realizes that money is going to go right to the individuals themselves and their families to compensate them for the horrors they went through in those years at Mount Cashel.

So, you have to commend the hon. the Member for St. John's East for having the kindness within his heart to make sure that those victims receive the full compensation package, because legal fees are very expensive, but we know what the hon. Member for St. John's East is intending to do. He is not concerned about himself in that particular instance, he is concerned about the victims of Mount Cashel whom he is representing, and that is fantastic. That is about the only kind word I can say about the hon. Member for St. John's East since I have known him, because otherwise, he comes in here about-faced every day, he never looks at a situation, and he criticizes before he knows what is really taking place. I guess, one good thing out of all the bad things is not so bad after all and we have to commend him. All the people in the Province, especially the victims themselves, should commend the hon. the Member for St. John's East for working free of charge for those victims of the Mount Cashel Orphanage, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the revenues of Newfoundland and Labrador will improve but we have to put some common sense into what is about to take place. The hon. Minister of Development spoke yesterday about the Prime Minister flying over the Grand Banks, as he said, sipping his French wine and looking down at the foreign overfishing on the Grand Banks. Now, are we realistically and logically saying that is sensible, that in 1992 the Prime Minister of this country must still fly over the Grand Banks to see if they are actually fishing there?

AN HON. MEMBER: Now, that is assuming that the jet stream is right when he is halfway to Paris.

MR. EFFORD: Yes, the jet stream has to be right for that. Just imagine, in 1992, the Prime Minister of this country is not yet fully aware of the seriousness of the foreign overfishing that is taking place on the Grand Banks and he still has to fly out there to find out if it is really taking place. Make no wonder we feel sorry for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. What hope do we have for the future if our Prime Minister, after all the controversy, after all the statements that have been made, after all the begging and the pleading: 'Mr. Prime Minister, we need help here in this Province,' and it did not just begin last year.

In 1980 and 1981, there were individuals in this Province who cried out year after year, the Inshore Fishermen's Association, Cabot Martin, and many other people, Dr. Leslie Harris and the former Minister of Fisheries, the hon. Tom Rideout. I heard them scream from 1985 to 1989. The former premier of this Province, the hon. Brian Peckford, for years and years, shouted at the top of his voice about the seriousness of the overfishing on the Grand Banks, and it is only now in 1992 that the Prime Minister of this country decides that he is going to fly out over the Grand Banks to see if foreigners are actually out there fishing.

Boy, oh, boy! What a miserable state of affairs we are facing! We wonder why the revenues in this Province are down, why we are in turmoil, why the wage freeze is on, why we are facing such desperate economic conditions, why we have plant after plant closing, why business after business is going bankrupt, when the Prime Minister of this country is not even aware of the crisis the main industry of this Province is in. We are to be pitied, because we have no hope for the future of it all.

Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely deplorable to think that would happen. They are trying to shed their responsibilities, put it off, play political games, and not face up to the real seriousness of what is taking place. If only the people of this Province, the teachers in the galleries yesterday, and the public service wanted to have a wage freeze lifted, and wanted an increase in salary, would come to realise the only way it is going to happen is we have to get our resource back! We have to get people working. When people work, they spend money. When people spend money they pay taxes, sales tax and income tax and so on. When they pay taxes, governments take in more revenue. When governments take in more revenue, they spend more money. They don't bank it in savings accounts, they spend it for the needs of the people.

That is the only way the wage freeze is going to be lifted, that is the only way increases are going to be given. What we have to do as one united force in this Province is to recognise that and accept the reality that unless things change in our industry, unless people get back to work, and unless we have an unemployment rate down around 10 per cent or less, things are never going to change, except to get worse. You cannot pay out money - as I have said this morning two or three times, and said yesterday, and said so many times, as the Minister of Finance, things are not going to change.

So you have to get the main industry back. You have to get the fishing industry back, and you have to get people working. Everything becomes simple then. Then your spin-offs come from that. Your small businesses increase. New technology comes in and everybody benefits from it. That is what the students should be aware of, what needs to take place to bring back the economy of this Province. There is no one person at fault. We are all at fault because we all allowed it to happen over the years. If we are going to change it in the future, Mr. Speaker, we are all going to have to work with the same force to prevent it from getting worse and to bring it back.

Then, Bill 17 would not be here in the House of Assembly, the wage freezes would not be here, and the families who are out there doing without money, and the thousands of plant workers and other people in the labour force who are now unemployed would be working for the most part, those who wanted to work. We would enjoy the economic benefits that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador could allow them. We would not be complaining, would not be so negative, we would be more positive.

So, Mr. Speaker, let's put all of our energies in the right direction, and let's try to bring back Newfoundland's economy the way it should be, and then everybody will be able to celebrate. 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. I, too, on behalf of our party, must welcome the students today. It is a pleasure for me to rise and see so many young people in the galleries.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

I have recognised the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: I want to tell each and every one of you why we believe that this bill is regressive, why we believe this bill should not be on the floor of the House. It is because your fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers are deprived of the monies necessary to send you to school; because a great number of Newfoundlanders are entirely dependent on the public service of Newfoundland and Labrador, and their money is being stymied!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: You are not getting the money. The hon. the Member for Port de Grave - and I agree with most things he said. Perhaps if some of us have to take a cut, that's what is necessary so your fathers and mothers can arrange for you to have better schooling. Perhaps that will be necessary.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look this way!

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them why (inaudible)!

MR. PARSONS: I can look anyone straight in the face and say what I have to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, tell them why (inaudible)!

MR. PARSONS: When I hear the blarney about what we did, and what they did when they were in Opposition, about us putting this Province in debt at $6 billion. Every day of their lives they were over there they said: 'You are not spending enough money, you are not putting enough money into the economy!' They badgered us, they drove us, saying the people were not satisfied with us.

MS. VERGE: Look at what they promised when they were campaigning three years ago.

MR. PARSONS: The restraints in this are not what you promised three years ago. Live up to your promises. We looked at Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and said: 'We didn't lie to you, we didn't make false promises.

MR. FLIGHT: You did so! For seventeen years you lied (inaudible)!

MR. PARSONS: I heard the hon. the House Leader talking today about the school tax being regressive, about it not being for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Let me tell the people in the galleries today, the young people in the galleries, that last year, the money derived by the School Tax Authority amounted to $32 million. Next year, from taxes out of your parents, your uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, will be equal to $70 million, or close to $70 million! - a tax grab. What they told you about the elimination of the school tax only gave them initiative to increase the taxes on your people.

MR. HEWLETT: And on senior citizens.

MR. PARSONS: And on senior citizens, by 4 per cent next year. Mr. Speaker, it is a farce. They talk about this bill being in the House because: we had to bring it in here. They blame everyone. In the years that I have been here since this government took over it is one story after another. Blame the federal government. No matter what happens in Newfoundland, it is time we stand on our own two feet and do something about our own economy, do something for ourselves. All we talk about is what everyone else is doing wrong.

The rate, today, classed as insufficient for survival for a family is around $19,000. There are people in the civil service and in other areas involved in this Bill 17, who are well below the poverty level. Last year, or the year before last, those people through their unions negotiated with the government in good faith for a raise. Because of the economic climate at that particular time, their raise was not forthcoming, and I, for one did not totally disagree. I said if there are restraints that have to be brought in, then that must be done.

But after two years with no raises, no nothing - to bring in this legislation, Bill 17, which means during the restraint period that no monies - the monies negotiated before the restraint period, following the restraint period, the maximum amount that any unionized people could receive is 3 per cent.

However, Mr. Speaker, we have no guarantees on the 3 per cent. They broke every promise before. They promised people raises and they just tore them up and threw them in the wastepaper basket. I am not saying that the economy is not rough. What I am saying is what they did, and what this Bill 17 will give them the right to do, to tear up more. They talk about the 3 per cent. Who can tell us, in this Legislature today, if that 3 per cent will ever become a reality? Why can't they tear that up after next year? Why can't they tear it up? And they will tear it up, Mr. Speaker, if it is necessary for this government. There are other ways to cut, not on the backs of poor people, and there are a great number of civil servants out there. I was surprised too at the member for Port de Grave speaking about the pensioners, to speak about his own people over there, his two colleagues over there. It is a shame to see his couple of colleagues over there who draw pensions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: The Member for Port de Grave mentioned the pensioners.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: No, I won't, but I am surprised that the Member for Port de Grave would use those low tactics to attack his colleagues on the government side.

Mr. Speaker, coming into all of this partial charade, we talk about what happened - what caused it. I heard the Member for Port de Grave, and in many instances I agree with him about overfishing, but let's look at it this way. He talked about the Prime Minister. They had a big joke out of that great statesman. That is the best Prime Minister that Canada ever had. He will go down in history as the greatest Prime Minister. It is like, when I look across over there, oh my, I could laugh. I get a real charge out of it. I get a real charge when I heard that old gentleman yesterday, last night on television, ninety-six years of age in the ditches over where he fought seventy-five years ago, and he turned to this great Prime Minister and said, 'Keep the country united, for it is a great country.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: And the Prime Minister turned and said, 'I will. I will keep it united.' But the biggest thing that ever came across to me - the biggest shemozzle of all - you talk about turnabout, you talk about being two-faced, was the other night when I saw the Premier on television. He said he was not really tied up on the distinct society. It would not really stop him giving consensus, and he said that 70 per cent of Canada, of the provinces, were enough to make a decision.

Mr. Speaker, the decision was made on Meech Lake by the ten premiers of the provinces, and you reneged on it. You took it away. Half of the problem that is in Canada today was caused by the failure of Meech Lake. I will go further and say 90 per cent of it was caused by the failure of Meech Lake; was caused by members on that side, and your Premier - and the Premier. He sold us down the river. If this country ever were to break up tomorrow, the people responsible should be tried for what they did. There is where the responsibility lies.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: - but when he said the other night seventy per cent of the provinces should be sufficient in a consensus as far as the constitution is concerned. That is not what he said the night up in the old Legislature when he would not allow us to vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: That is not what he said. He said 100 per cent. Him, the Premier, in conjunction with the members opposite and Elijah, put this country on the ropes. That is why our transfer payments are down, because hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent crossing this Province, talking about a constitution that does not mean - it means a great deal, but has no relevance to the ordinary person. It is a piece of paper that should be put away in a safe, locked up and forgotten about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Can we eat constitutions?

AN HON. MEMBER: Triple E Senate.

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Triple E Senate. I get sick to my stomach!

MR. NOEL: It was Mulroney who brought it up.

MR. PARSONS: I get sick to my stomach. It was not Mulroney who brought it up. It was Trudeau who brought it over in 1982.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) you would not have (inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: We are going to eat it tomorrow morning. That is what we are going to have for breakfast the next time we have that breakfast club. We will eat the constitution. What a bluff! And I say again that I cannot understand the Premier - where he is coming from - for him to be on television saying that 70 per cent of the provinces should be allowed to make a decision. What happened to the change of heart, or the change of mind?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: That is not what he said. That is not what he said. He said up in that hon. House, the old Legislature, he wanted 100 per cent. In fact, him, in conjunction again - and I repeat

myself - with you members over there and Elijah Harper - not all the members over there. I have to qualify that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Because there were members on that side who would not stand with the Premier on that Meech Lake night.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name one!

MR. PARSONS: No, I will not name one, but you know them as well as I do. And that night if he had called a vote - there is the hon. ex-Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. He was against it, for one. He got up and he said it.

AN HON. MEMBER: The member for Eagle River.

MR. PARSONS: And he knew that night that we had eight people on that side who would vote in favour of that resolution and he did not call it because he chickened out, because he knew that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians down deep in their heart, even though everyone - I will say it again and I have said it before that just about every English speaking Canadian felt a little animosity towards the French. They have enough. They are not getting any more. That night if the vote had been called we would have won and this country would never be in the turmoil it is in today. Rather than the Minister of Finance having to get on his feet and say that we are down in transfer payments, those transfer payments would not be down because we would have a stable country.

What are the economists saying? Two things are causing this - what can you call it? A recession? I suppose it is a recession. The number one thing, the manufacturing aspect of it is when in Ontario in general, the steel industry was bad and other things in the industrial field, and Ontario failed, failed to be able to supply the rest of the country with much needed dollars. That's what transfer payments are all about. When their economy is bad our economy has to go down the chute too.

But, Mr.Speaker, the biggest problem the economists say is in Quebec. The uncertainty about Quebec where people are not prepared to invest their dollars. They are not prepared to invest their dollars. What caused it? The failure of Meech Lake. They are not going to get a better deal because there was no deal in Meech Lake. It was all a bluff, it was all a myth created by the Premier, some members on the other side and Harper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: That is why we have an increase of 60 per cent of small companies gone bankrupt. I want to remind the hon. member that 40 per cent is raised in bankruptcies, and he says economic times are good in Newfoundland! All your fathers and mothers don't get a raise and he tells us, 'great times in Newfoundland.' We are on the ropes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: GST had to come.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. PARSONS: It had to come to try and give places like Newfoundland, the have not provinces, money, and to try to pay off the debt. Let me say -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. PARSONS: Now let me say this to the hon. gentleman - you asked the question, now I am going to address your question. Every economist in the country to a man will say that free trade, there is nothing wrong with it. It is the best thing ever we got, and I say so too. We have the greatest to the neighbour to the south, the greatest country in the world to buy our wares, and all we have to do is compete with them. We can compete with the Americans, and free trade is the greatest thing that ever we got. It is a good thing for this country that we got free trade when we did. Now with the eastern block dissolved -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave on a point of order.

MR. PARSONS: - with communism gone down the drain, all those countries -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I want to raise a point of order. I do not know if the hon. member is intentionally misleading the House or just simply not knowing what he is saying. But I want to make the point that the hon. member is now going back to 1949 when he advocated and fought against Confederation in favour of the United States. It is shocking, talking to the students in the gallery in that fashion, totally against Confederation.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order. The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, again, seeing that the hon. member brought it up I don't have to turn my back, feel ashamed in any way. In 1949 we were anti-confederate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ah ha!

MR. PARSONS: But let me say this to the hon. House, so were 68,000 more voters in Newfoundland and we won the first vote for responsible government, not ties with the United States. We won the first vote. Sixty-eight thousand of us proud Newfoundlanders. But I want to also say to the students and say to this hon. House that I became convinced after a very short period, when I saw baby bonuses being introduced, when I saw family allowances that had made it better for young people, when I saw the old age pensioners who used to get twelve dollars every quarter of a year, twelve lousy dollars, their pensions went up 500 per cent, 1000 per cent, then I saw the goodness of Canada. I saw what a great country it was and I will never renege on it, it is the greatest country in the world. Some people in this country tried to break it up, tried to put us under, Mr. Speaker, I am ashamed. I was ashamed that night to say I was a Newfoundlander, when we failed our obligations as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Now, let me go back to the hon. Member for Port de Grave. He talks about the fish and the fishery and, Mr. Speaker, I would be less than truthful if I didn't say it looks like there is a problem, but I want to remind the hon. member that yours truly, as well as many other people - I am not an economist but I do know that many years ago I was one of the members of NIFA and we did our best to influence people in saying that our own trawlers were going to ruin the fishery, were going to ruin the northern cod and, Mr. Speaker, let us look at what happened.

Our own trawlers were allowed to go out there during the spawning season, on the spawning grounds and drag, and drag, and drag for the fish that were out there, and finally there wasn't any fish, they had dragged everything from that bottom. They had treated the environmental aspect of that area in a detrimental fashion; they had stymied our growth by taking up the habitat, by tearing it up with our local trawlers. Now, Mr. Speaker, that part of it is gone-

AN HON. MEMBER: What about gill nets?

MR. PARSONS: - and the gill nets - look, I can remember - Mr. Speaker, I fished and we were using at that time seven inch nets -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: No, I won't. You had plenty of time when you were up. No, I will waste my time and I do not have much time. We were using seven inch gill nets so that meant great big fish and gill nets were filled to capacity; now they are down to four and a half inch. We are catching the little, small tomcods; the tomcods that you and I and everyone else used to be able to go down on the wharves and flick out an old hook and catch them for fun, but only a half a dozen. But they are catching them now by the thousands of tons, I see it every day and the hon. Minister of Fisheries, who has just arrived in the Legislature, will certainly confirm what I am saying that now we have no more little fish. We do not have three year fish, we do not have four year fish, we do not have six year fish, we have no fish and the point remains that that is hind sight. That problem was there, no one did anything about it and now it is almost extinct.

But what we are saying, the problem today, there is no doubt about it, is overfishing, foreign overfishing because those banks out there are not reaped to the extent that we did our own. There is a chance out there, if those people are stopped from overfishing, there is a chance out there that those stocks, which is called a straddling stock, there are no fences out there, you do not have a fence; there is a line, a demarcation line for 200-mile and over the 200-mile limit is outside of our jurisdiction, so they are straddling, they are going back and forth.

If we can eliminate the overfishing, and I agree with the hon. member for Port de Grave, then there is a chance that our stocks can be rebuilt, and hopefully that will be the case. Now I do not see gunboat diplomacy. I see that there might be avenues of approach from the federal government as far as other countries in the world, especially the EEC and the Prime Minister gave our leader here, last week, assurances that he would speak to the Prime Minister of France who is a good friend of his, and a very, very influential member of the EEC, and I find it disheartening I suppose, and almost sickening when I hear those hon. members on the other side get up and speak about our Prime Minister going out with French wine.

Mr. Speaker, there was nothing said about foreign overfishing, well nothing really drastic being said until perhaps a year ago. There was nothing really blatant only this last couple of months. What did they want the Prime Minister of Canada to do? He has accepted responsibility. He said I will go over and talk to the EEC. Who has more influence with that body? Is it our Premier, is it me, or is it the Prime Minister of Canada? Mr. Speaker, those are the problems in Canada today but they are not the problems that should be addressed in Bill 17. We still have to live and if the deficit is going to go up another $1 billion then we have to live in that interim. I think the day will come when Canada will be affluent in a monetary way. I really believe, and I believe that we can borrow, we can get money in the interim to offset this bill. I believe this bill is regressive.

Now, let me speak about the unions. I suppose, Mr. Speaker, you are going to say I did everything. Yes, I was a shop stewart for a union for eleven years, the Public Service of Canada. Unions are necessary. We were at Pleasantville and we were going to be thrown out on the street but the union which I was a member of stuck up to them face to face and said, no way, and thirty-one people still held onto their jobs. I know it was not a great group, only 31 people, I only mentioned it to prove a point, that unions are a necessity.

I went down on the waterfront the Sunday before last and I saw Richard Cashin and that group of people send out the fleet from Newfoundland to show our concern and not to go out with gun boats to shoot them. I commend Richard Cashin for the initiative. Also the clergy that went down there and the thousands and thousands of people who participated. I say to them, well done Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, you are on the right track. With the blessing of the people who were down there that day the ships left port with flags flying. There were people from the media on those ships who were receptive to the ideas of Canadians and Newfoundlanders but saw, first hand what was happening. They knew then at least we received some prominence, we received some coverage. I am not sure it is enough and I would be less that truthful if I said I did, but at least now there are people in the world that know of our plight and hopefully it will be acted upon.

AN HON. MEMBER: Rear admiral Cashin.

MR. PARSONS: Well, he should be a rear admiral because he did an excellent job with that union and with the members of the general public in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to say this for the benefit of the students. I was here this morning and the hon. Government House Leader, who is a very fine gentleman, but sometimes he gets confused in his figures, he goes from one point to the other, from one figure to the other, leaving out what is in the middle, what is in the centre, and this morning he said that we receive less money now. Since 1989 to 1992-93 we have received lesser amounts of money from transfer payments but what he did not say was that this year we received $100 plus million over last year. What odds about 1989. We received more money this year than we received last year. Is that not true? You received $100 plus million in transfer payments in excess this year from last year. That is what this says. Now, granted you did not get what you wanted. That is right. You are down to 44.5 per cent from 50 per cent. At one time transfer payments were equal to 50 per cent of all the monies we received. That is the same crowd over there that are turning down Ottawa. They are lambasting the federal government. They are saying Ottawa should be out off office. Put in that Liberal regime they have up there. Oh God forbid that day will ever come. I do not think it will.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: I think that - no, no, don't - are you talking about polls? I want to ask the hon. Member for St. John's South, is he speaking of polls?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: I am sure that he has seen the media over the past few days, and in our mother country, that great country of England, we saw what polls said.

AN HON. MEMBER: They were never down that far.

MR. PARSONS: What? With polls? Polls? Who is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom today? John Major! What Party is he from? The Conservative Party! Please God, Mr. Speaker, when the next election comes around there will be a Conservative government -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: There will be a Conservative government in this great country of Canada, led by the greatest Prime Minister who ever was.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. PARSONS: The greatest Prime Minister! The Prime Minister who put Newfoundland on its feet. The Prime Minister who signed the Atlantic Accord, the Prime Minister who gave us Hibernia when all their colleagues from upalong came down here and insulted us about Hibernia, told us we would have no call to it, that we would not derive anything from it. Those are the people who they want back in Ottawa. God forbid. It will be a dark day if that Liberal regime ever goes and gets the power in Ottawa. But, Mr. Speaker, Canadians are proud, intelligent people, and they will never let that happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them about John Major.

MR. PARSONS: I told them about John Major. I told them who he was. The great conservative. Conservatism is going to spread over the world because it is the greatest government. They are the greatest people to deliver services to the people. All the poor people out there, they are speaking today with one voice. Conservatism! Being a Conservative! How proud I and everyone on this side today! Even my colleague down there from the NDP is, he's proud, and he told me so. To see the Conservatives shine right across this world! People are finally getting the message. They are getting the message. They had the message here for seventeen years and please God, after the next couple of years, or year, or whatever, the people will see the light in Newfoundland and Labrador and return that great Conservative government.

Mr. Speaker, I only have a minute left and I -

AN HON. MEMBER: Thank God.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, they hate to hear the truth. They detest anyone who can stand up and tell the truth. Tell the truth of how two-faced they are. How immature they are when they speak about this great country. Those were the culprits - not all of them, but a great majority of them who tried their best to break up this country. I am a Canadian, and I see this Bill 17 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: I am a Canadian, and I see this - the only way I would wear a black armband is if the Liberal regime ever goes back in Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. minister, I want to welcome to the gallery the former Leader of the Opposition and former Mayor of Corner Brook, Dr. Noel Murphy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to welcome the students from Avondale, from Assumption, and their teachers. They are probably the best looking, most intelligent people in the world, and I say that free of bias, having been born in Avondale, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker there was quite a show, watching an anti-confederate Tory blowing kisses to a Socialist. It is just amazing to see. I did not see it returned, but we will wait to see the hon. Member for St. John's East speech next week, or in a couple of week's time when we reconvene.

Mr. Speaker, let me read from this particular speech, and ask the hon. member and all hon. members whether in fact they are against what I am about to read.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Well this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, protect me from the Member for St. John's East, because if he would give me just two minutes, and I beg his indulgence, I will talk about the legislation. I want to read from this document, and I will ask hon. members whether they disagree with what I am about to read.

I am quoting: 'In order to get our finances more in line to get that deficit down on our current account, government has decided to implement a new wage restraint policy. We know that our employees will have to tighten their belts to live within these restraints, but everyone has to share the load. Obviously this was not an easy decision. It was taken only after we had cut, and cut as much as possible on programs and public services. Also, it was done after examining the tax rates that already exist, especially in those areas where large amounts could be realized, like sales tax and income tax.'

Now is there anybody on that side that disagrees with that?

AN HON. MEMBER: I do.

MR. FUREY: You do?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Because I am quoting from the 1983 Budget brought in by the Conservative government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Surely hon. members, if they disagreed at that point in time would have resigned.

AN HON. MEMBER: Absolutely.

MR. FUREY: But no, the Member for Kilbride sat in that government and agreed with this policy. We cut and cut and could cut no more.

MR. PARSONS: (Inaudible)!

MR. FUREY: So we implemented - now, I'm going to get to the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern. He has been in the fog a bit too much I think, when I listen to some of his comments. He must be the only Newfoundlander and Labradorian who is slavishly genuflecting to one Brian Mulroney. I do not know anybody else in this Province who would put the accolades forward that the hon. member did. What that particular Prime Minister is doing to this country is just unforgivable. He should recognise that. But I will get to you in a minute, and I like the hon. member, so I will be gentle with him.

The hon. Member for Kilbride sat in that particular government when he in fact listened to his Premier Peckford of the day talk about the difficult circumstances on the operating accounts of the Province, and how there had to be a two year freeze on wages, and now he heckles and shouts from the benches and says that this is something that this government should be condemned for? The hon. Member for Torngat Mountains, now was he with us or them then? I think he was with us then, but I am sure he would have supported it because he would have slavishly followed whatever Mr. Peckford said at the time, too.

The hon. Member for St. John's East Extern, was he in the House at that particular...?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. FUREY: No, but you would have supported that particular policy, because if you have any degree of intellectual honesty, which I believe you do, you would have supported it. No problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. FUREY: Good. Well, we won't have to club you then. The hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, he was in the House I am sure, as a young, bright non-gray-haired backbencher, and he would have supported these statements. Let me read on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. FUREY: The hon. Member for Port au Port, well, he would have been a Liberal criticising that at the time. So he is on safe ground. He is now a Tory criticising the Liberals for what the Tories did back in 1983, so we will leave him alone.

Hon. gentlemen across the way, and indeed the Leader of the Opposition says: well, you have a problem. Let's borrow our way out of the problem. Yet when that problem occurred to the government in 1983, 1984 and 1985 what did they say? Let me quote: we must not establish a trend of borrowing to pay our operating account, we just cannot afford to do that. Now that is what the government of the day said. What is the current government saying? We have a $3.5 billion budget -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: It is almost laughable what the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern says.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. FUREY: Does he not want to listen to the facts? I sat patiently and listened to him. Now he wants to flash posters and attack me personally. But the hon. member should realise - and I think everybody in the gallery ought to realise, and the people of the Province should realise that this little Province of 575,000 people, a tiny population by standards, smaller than the city of Winnipeg, spread over a great piece of geography no doubt, but a smaller population, what is the debt for this tiny little population of 575,000 people? When I was a little boy a dollar meant a lot to me. I could not really quite envision it. Then $l00 and $1000, and I could not even dream what $1 million was. Let me tell the people of this Province what the debt racked up over the last seventeen years now stands at. It stands at $5.5 billion.

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible)

MR. FUREY: The hon. Member for St. John's East chooses to attack me again. If he were not as generous as the Member for Port de Grave rightly pointed out - I am not in the mood to attack you because I heard what the Member for Port de Grave mentioned about your free legal services and I can only commend you for such an noble cause, making sure that all those children get any compensation coming to them from these court proceedings going directly to them. I must commend the hon. member for that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: I commend the hon. member for that. He is only to be commended.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

The hon. Member for St. John's East on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As a point of order I know that the minister likes to grandstand to the students from his hometown but we are debating Bill 17 which is an Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province. I understand that the minister is required to speak to the bill but he does not appear to be willing to do so and I wonder if the Chair could bring him to order on that point.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member raises a good point. The debate this morning has been very, very flexible and I ask the hon. member to continue with the debate but to keep his remarks relevant to the bill.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I can only say that when you are interrupted by heckles, as I was by the Member for St. John's East, if he cannot handle the compliments that I shower his way, I commended him for dealing with these youngsters from Mount Cashel, free legal service, as the Member for Port de Grave pointed out. That is a commendation, that is not a criticism, it is a commendation and I commend you to make sure those children get all the compensation due to them and not to lawyers, law firms, and percentages. I give you full marks, Sir, full marks.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we can go on. In fact if you read further on in that particular speech in 1983 -

MR. HODDER: (Inaudible)

MR. FUREY: The Member for Port au Port now wants to heckle me.

AN HON. MEMBER: Call it twelve o'clock.

MR. FUREY: Call it twelve o'clock. I wish we could call it 1979 and put a Liberal government there. We would not have had a $5.5 billion debt, I can guarantee you that much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: And now I get heckled by the Member for Green Bay. Go ahead, what were you going to say? Because I have a lovely limerick for you when I am ready to spill it out. The hon. Member for Cape St. Mary's and I are Irishmen. He wrote a lovely limerick about me - a lovely little thing with division in it, and I will tell you something, I have a lovely limerick for you, so don't you provoke me, because I will tell you, you will get one awful limerick in the side of the head!

Now I just wanted to go on and talk about the inshore fishery. Here is what they said: The inshore fishery of 1983 was disappointing, and the offshore fish companies went bankrupt. Government could not prevent these problems.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which government was that?

MR. FUREY: Their government. So every problem that happens in industry that they stand and blame us for, when they were over here it was convenient to say that government cannot take the blame for what happens in the private sector, any more than we can make fish swim ashore. That is what they said: This is a reality we have to face. The other reality that flows from the first is that as the rate of growth in our income declines, so must the rate of growth in our spending.

Now those were wise words. They were saying the revenues that we take in are limited. We have often cast it in the metaphor of a pie. The pie is only so big. It can only be cut up so many ways. The hon. President of Treasury Board, and the President of the Executive Council, I thought, gave a brilliant speech this morning - an absolutely brilliant speech.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FUREY: Because the hon. Member for St. John's East will be interested to hear this. He ran for the NDP one time.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. FUREY: He ran for the NDP. In fact, I read in the Western Star that the real leader of the NDP, Peter Fenwick - the real leader - was writing an article where he commended the hon. President of Treasury Board for his fine hand that helped to craft with the Minister of Finance this particular Budget - very supportive in many ways. But the hon. President of the Executive Council pointed out that we are in extremely difficult times. Make no mistake about it, and there are no easy, magical answers. If you want proof of that, just look to Ontario and the New Democratic Government.

I do not really blame Bob Rae, because I have a great deal of respect for Bob Rae. I really do. I think he means well, and I think he wants to do well and all those kinds of things, but when social pressures come about and when demands are brought upon you by unions, and when you become the party of vested interests then you don't serve the greater purpose or the larger picture. I don't believe you do anyway.

We are seeing what is happening in Ontario. In fact I was in Toronto just a couple of days ago for some meetings, and I was appalled at the number of shops and stores that had closed down. One of the businessmen was even telling me that since the free trade agreement - which my friend from St. John's East Extern beats the drum about as the greatest thing since sliced bread - Ontario has lost some 300,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. Now I can't blame that on Bob Rae.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: But I can tell you something else, the great goods and services tax that you pounded your drum about as well, I think has been very devastating for the tourism industry and has created an amazing imbalance there, because the Americans coming north, you will know, have to pay 7 per cent when they cross the border on top of the provincial taxes. Well that is a deterrent to come north. Those who live in the north, in Canada, are looking at themselves paying 7 per cent and saying: I am going to go south. That creates a trade imbalance. We are seeing it in tourism in a big way as the numbers declined last year right across the country. Now we are working hard to turn that around, but every time we march forward two steps it seems Mr. Mulroney, whom you love so much, pushes us back five steps.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. FUREY: Mr. Mulroney, the fellow you said is the greatest Prime Minister and God bless Meech Lake and all the wonderful speech you just made.

But the truth is there is only so much in the pie. There is only so much revenue we can collect. There are only so much transfer payments that are available. There is only so much in that pie. What we have asked the public sector unions in the Province to do, and indeed all the members in this House to do, is to accept this wage freeze of zero per cent this year and 3 per cent next year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Well we did because if you followed the debate at all

AN HON. MEMBER: You are shoving it down their throat (inaudible).

MR. FUREY: We had meetings with them on a number of occasions. We pointed out the problem. We offered the unions to have input into the solutions and you saw what the input was. I do not think your government ever - did the Tories ever consult the union?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, they never consulted the unions. No.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask the unions.

MR. FUREY: I don't know. I will ask the former President of Treasury Board, did you ever consult the unions when you were in (inaudible) -

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. FUREY: Yes. How did you find the consultations? One sided?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: You found it pretty much one sided. So the pie is only so large. We would like to keep all the teachers we currently have in place. We would like to keep the amount of funding there for students and education that we currently have in place. We would like to keep the number of hospital beds that are there in place.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to keep going, but I will adjourn the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as all members know we are going to adjourn for awhile and we will be coming back a couple of weeks down the road. I wish all hon. members get their batteries recharged and catch up on the work that I know they have fallen behind on in the last short while.

Mr. Speaker, I move the House at its rising do adjourn until 2:00 p.m on April 28, and that the House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, April 28, at 2:00 p.m.