December 14, 1992           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLI  No. 84


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the philosophy mandate and services of the child welfare program of the Department of Social Services focuses on the prevention of neglect, abuse, and exploitation of children. In an effort to achieve this objective all child welfare services and programs centre upon the enhancement of family living and the strengthening of parental abilities to provide suitable child care. The government realizes that service needs have escalated in all program areas carried out by the Department of Social Services and we wish to advise that areas other than child welfare, which I am addressing today, have not been forgotten. We have continuously examined staffing and other requirements over the past years and will continue to do so in the future. I am pleased to stand in the House of Assembly today to announce approval for the hiring of twenty-five additional social workers for the child welfare program -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GULLAGE: - of the Department of Social Services. This move to hire additional social workers comes in response to a critical situation in the department. Child welfare statistics illustrate a major increase in work load, especially over the past two years. Mr. Speaker, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador realizes and supports the philosophy of the child welfare program and stands behind the workers in the Department of Social Services in their role in carrying out the services of the child welfare program. In fact, Mr. Speaker, all employees of the Department of Social Services are to be commended for their dedication to carry out these services in light of limited resources and dramatic increases in case load.

Economic and social factors play a critical role in the shifting and emerging trends within every program area of the department. As the officials of the department track these trends we will attempt to respond to the changing needs and as a result staffing levels will change. Already we have taken action through the hiring of fifty social workers in child welfare in 1990 and recently have realigned and moved a number of positions to the front line and into district offices to help improve the current condition.

It is important at this time also, Mr. Speaker, to recognize governments decision to exempt front line staff of the Department of Social Services from the current hiring freeze. This exemplifies the compassion and understanding of government for the significance of social services work carried out for the people of this Province. We have listened to all parties, have responded andwill continue to do so in the future. In conclusion, let me assure hon. members and the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador, that the recruitment process for twenty-five social workers for the child welfare program will begin immediately. A precise process of assigning the workers in areas most needed throughout the Province will be carried out. We are taking a serious approach to the dramatic demand for child welfare services and commit ourselves to ongoing monitoring and evaluation of all services and programs of the department.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the minister that I think it is nice to see a start made on the announcement that was made in 1990, because a lot of these social work positions that were announced then have not been filled according to what I have been told. I also say to the minister that, while it is a start it does not go near far enough. I challenge the minister to table in this House the case analysis that was just done by his department, and the twenty-five people whom he is announcing today, are not even enough to cover the numbers suggested for St. John's alone, not alone outside St. John's. You have five regions in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and what the minister is announcing today is an additional five social workers per region, that is basically what it amounts to. You have fifty offices, all of them are overworked and many of them, over half of them, will not receive any of these additional workers.

I would also like the minister to tell us how long it is going to take for these twenty-five additional social workers to be put in place, and how much longer will the children who need those services in this Province be continued to be neglected by this government. Another statistic that is worthy of note when you talk about social workers per se for the department, based on the recommendations of the report that was done in the caseload analysis for the minister, is that there is an additional 30,000 cases on social assistance up over last year, there has been an increase of 30,000 cases, and a lot more than twenty-five social workers are needed to cope with an additional 30,000 cases. The minister is looking, it is 29,000 and I think he will probably be tabling it later today in the House.

But what we have, is a situation, where something has started, it was announced in 1990, has been re-announced today, and it is time to have something done with what is going on. These twenty-five social workers, it is a start, it is not near enough and I encourage the minister to look -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You did not know too much, to end up in the back benches.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: I encourage the minister, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: - to act on the caseload analysis that has been prescribed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like the unanimous consent of the House to speak to the Ministerial Statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does not have leave, I gather.

The hon. member does not have leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the government is quite concerned at the prospect of a dispute developing between the Auditor General, as a servant of this House, and Memorial University of Newfoundland that has been developing in recent days. We are acting to address it and hopefully to resolve it before it becomes more serious.

The Auditor General asserts that she has the right to audit Memorial University. The University responds that the House of Assembly has empowered the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to appoint auditors for it, and that the mandate to audit the University given to a private firm of chartered accountants in March 1989 is still valid. The Auditor General has made a special report to the House of Assembly about the matter, as she is entitled to do. I understand proceedings in the Supreme Court have been threatened if they have not actually been initiated. Members will recall, too, that the Public Accounts Committee has also made a special report to the House in which we were told of a dispute between that Committee and the University about a related matter.

These matters raise very important issues of principle. On one hand, there is the unquestioned right and responsibility of the House of Assembly - and the Auditor General, as our servant - to review and control public expenditures. As against that must be set the equally strong principle that the University must not only be independent, but must be seen to be so.

The Minister of Justice has canvassed these issues, at my request, and provided me with a memorandum that sets out the legal position briefly and raises the public policy issues that must be addressed.

I am confident that I speak for every Member of the House when I suggest that it behooves all concerned to make every effort to resolve this dispute without resort to litigation. I will today be asking the Auditor General and the President of the University to meet with me and several of my colleagues toward this end. I am also asking each of them to take no further action of any sort with respect to these matters until we have been able to meet. We shall do so as soon as possible, in all likelihood within the next several days, and I will report to the House further after that time.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, there is not much one can add to this. It is pretty much a non-announcement. I guess the Premier wanted to inform the House that he is going to meet, and that is fine. We wish him luck.

All I can refer him to, as he referred to in his statement himself, is the statement by the Public Accounts Committee, which represents members of this House, that the Committee does not consider that Memorial has any special rights or privileges compared to any other government agency or Crown corporation pertaining to the accountability of public monies. I think that probably says it all from our perspective on this side. The only thing I can say is I hope the Premier has some success with the meetings and maybe can resolve the matter. There is not much else that can be said at this stage.

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

MR. HARRIS: I am seeking leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No. leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Hardly a day goes by now, that you don't hear some municipality crying out for some kind of help from this government. You see it in letters, copies of letters, you hear it in public comments, you hear it in news stories, and they all contain criticism of the government's handling of a number of issues which, in their view, have been poorly handled. I refer to issues like down-loading to municipalities, changes to the operating grant structure, amalgamation and, indeed, just today I heard a representative from the federation expressing some real concerns about whether or not people would even be prepared and willing to seek office in the municipal elections coming up in November. Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest criticisms from the municipalities is towards the way government is really handling a lot of these issues and how they continue to change in midstream. I want to ask the Premier, Is he aware of this festering criticism and concern among municipalities and more importantly, how does he intend to deal with the mess that he and his government have created for municipalities over the last couple of years?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of any festering criticism or concern among municipalities except that which the hon. member's statements appear to invoke or create, or fabricate. Certain municipalities, particularly those that have in the past imposed a very high municipal tax rate on utilities, and by that means effectively tax citizens in other municipalities in the Province are quite disturbed at the fact that government in its effort to achieve fair and balanced government is putting in place a regulatory process that will limit their ability to do that. Quite apart from that I do not think there is any festering concern amongst municipalities.

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

MR. SIMMS: Well, that answers the question pretty clearly, Mr. Speaker. There is not much point in going to him with any other supplementaries. I will go to the minister with a supplementary. Included in the funding that is provided to the municipalities is an amount per kilometre of road in each municipality known as the road component. In 1989 when this government took office,the road component was approximately $2000 per kilometre and last year the municipalities were told at the beginning of the year it would be approximately $860 per kilometre and in mid-year that was dropped to about $480 per kilometre. Now, next year, they have been told, it is going to be somewhere in the area of $81.47 per kilometre. I want to ask the minister: Doesn't he consider that amount to be an insult to municipalities? Isn't he embarrassed, as the minister, to have to relay that information to municipalities? How can they be assured that even this piddly little amount of $81.47 won't again be changed in mid-stream as this government has done many times in the past?

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, all members of the House of Assembly are aware that the municipal operating grant is being reduced in a phase-in period over three years, to $41 million, and it is going to be capped there because of the necessary restraint and the fiscal position that we find ourselves in, as a part of the overall program. As a result of implementing the other components in the municipal operating grant it means a downgrading, I guess, or an erosion of the roads component grant, that's the other grants, the incentive grant and the household grant increases.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, if my recollection is correct, this was announced probably the same year the then Minister of Finance announced a $10 million surplus. It had nothing to do with restraints. That was when they announced the policy. Anyway, we will get into that a little later on.

I want to ask him this: By law, municipalities must have balanced budgets submitted to the minister by December 31, according to the legislation. Now, in view of the confusion and the criticism and the festering problems that are existing out there among municipalities, and in view of the fact that these are volunteer councillors, with only two weeks left, I guess, before Christmas, just having received notification on Friday past of their operating grants - and even in that notification it says: subject to change -there could still be further changes - I want to ask the minister: Is he at least going to give the municipalities an extension to that December 31 deadline to allow these volunteers an opportunity to properly respond to the request with respect to budget?

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

MR. HOGAN: The Department of Municipal Affairs, Mr. Speaker, has always been flexible upon the acceptance of budgets, going back as long as I've been associated - back in 1969. Some of my colleagues sitting across the House have accepted budgets right up into February, and it is only on written notice or the courtesy of exchange of communication. It has always been done and I see no reason to change it.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the same minister. Will the minister advise if he still intends to proceed with legislation on the uniform utility tax, and can he further tell us what kind of discussions took place with the municipalities in the Province prior to its implementation? I know he talked to the hydro and utility companies. What kinds of discussions did he have with the municipalities, the stakeholders in this?

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, it would take all afternoon to answer the question in any great details but discussions with the Federation

of Municipalities go back twenty-odd years.

On the recent piece of legislation, the Federation was approached in June, the same time that the utility companies were approached, within twenty-four hours or less of each other, and asked to partake in confidential discussions on the legislation and on a draft outline of what might or might not take place. The Federation rejected that position. They didn't want to have any confidential discussions unless they could share with all of their members. We - when I say 'we,', I mean, the department - at that time continued our discussions with the utility companies, and in November went back to the utility companies and the Federation with the results of all of our discussions and what we intended to do, and have acted accordingly since.

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

MR. WINSOR: Is the minister, then, confirming that no discussion took place with municipalities during these months, from June to November, and that this was a complete surprise to them?

Furthermore, the minister in his statement said that the utility tax will be assessed at 2.5 per cent of gross revenues of a company in a particular year, the year preceding. Can the minister indicate, that if a municipality decides that they want to charge 2.75 or 3 per cent, will they be allowed to charge more than the 2.5 per cent or is that a maximum?

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

MR. HOGAN: I can't say, Mr. Speaker, with any degree of honesty that the hon. member is correct in saying there was no

consultation. There was the offer of consultation in June. I have hitherto downplayed that because I didn't want to get into a war of words with the hon. member or the Federation on that particular matter. But there was lots of opportunity and every offer was made to the Federation of Municipalities to discuss this matter on a number of occasions in June. Over the summer, we had lots of communication on other matters and all they had to do was bring it up again, and the subject did come up from time to time. In November, when a direct course of action had been decided upon, they were fully advised and were quite aware of when it would take place.

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

MR. WINSOR: The minister didn't answer my question, Mr. Speaker. I will ask the minister again: Can a municipality charge more than the 2.5 per cent, as the minister indicated in his statements? Assuming they want to charge 3 per cent, are they going to be allowed to charge it?

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

MR. HOGAN: I apologize to the hon. member, Mr. Speaker, for missing the second part of his question. Yes, a municipality can, for want of a better word, introduce a consumption tax that they can put on at their level in their community for their taxpayers to pay.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. So the minister is indicating that they can charge more than 2.5 per cent. Will that then be charged as a surcharge to the users in the given community who charge more than 2.5 per cent? So really, in essence, what you are saying is it would be taxation in another way: instead of taxing the municipality hydro company now, you are going to tax the user. Is that what the minister is saying will happen?

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

MR. HOGAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the municipality will have that ability to add - if he wants to call it a surtax, fine. They can add to the 2.5 per cent, but they will have to do it at the local level. As opposed to now, if a community is charging 30 per cent on gross revenue in my town of Dunville, then every other community in Newfoundland is contributing to that 30 per cent. In this particular case and with this ability, only the taxpayers in the community where the tax is placed will pay the tax.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Back in late November, I spoke to the Great Humber Joint Council at a meeting in Benoit's Cove. The Western Star reported at that time on some of the comments that I had made, one comment being that the new MOG system would deter volunteers from running for councils in the Province, rather ironic when I come out here this morning and hear a statement by the Federation of Municipalities say much the same thing.

Anyway, in a scathing attack in a letter to the editor on December 11, the Minister responsible for Municipal Affairs said that: the hon. member didn't understand the grant and didn't know what he was talking about. In that particular statement, as well, the minister said that the new municipal grant system of the Provincial Government is the best formula and provides the best municipal operating grants in all of Canada. Does the minister stand by that assertion today?

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

MR. HOGAN: Do you want me to sing that song, "I stand by my man?" I stand by my statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The minister, also, in his letter to the editor made some alarming statements - but he made another - and I want to ask him if this is actually true - he made a statement here earlier on a question by one of my colleagues, and I will ask him now again to give him a chance to try to redeem himself. He said, 'To alleviate any hardships these reductions would impose on certain municipalities, we took the decision to phase in the grants over a three-year period.' Does the minister stand by that statement?

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

MR. HOGAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Would the minister please explain to the House why there was absolutely no comment made to a phase-in period pertaining to the MOG system in 1989, 1990, 1991, and the only reference made to a phase-in period was the reference made on the repayment on the new formula of capital debt? It had nothing to do with the MOG.

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, I must be as stunned as the hon. member because I can't understand what he is saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are as stunned as you look.

MR. HOGAN: I must be as stunned as I look, yes - because he is so confused over the issue.

Very simply, in 1989, or whenever it was, there was a budget of $49 million or $48 million, and there was a restraint program of $7 million reduction - give or take a few dollars - introduced into that program because of restraints.

Government, upon representation from whoever - municipalities, the Federation, and probably from members of the House - decided to phase that reduction in over a three-year period, hence, the MOG grant system was reduced over that period in a phased-in, three-year period.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is as clear as mud.

MR. WOODFORD: Well, I am glad the minister is making it obviously very clear for other members of the House to understand.

Could the minister tell me, then, if he stands by this statement, and his reference that the old grants system was not working, and in order to encourage fiscal responsibility through municipalities, the new grant system brought into place now - is he saying that the councils in the past, under the old system, were not fiscally responsible for their decisions pertaining to municipalities in the Province? Because if it is, that is a slur on municipalities in this Province.

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

MR. HOGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, Mr. Speaker, it is not a slur on municipalities, and I am not saying that before this municipal operating grant was brought in that municipalities were not fiscally responsible - they were certainly fiscally astute, because I was one of them, and the system was open to manoeuvering that municipalities did not actually live up to their part of the bargains and their part of debt retirement and so on, the way that an equal share should be, and the new grant system fixed that.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are also for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

On Friday, the minister denied that the government has appointed ADM Don Peckham acting Fire Commissioner during the extended sick leave of Commissioner Francis Ryan. Will the minister explain, then, why ADM Don Peckham wrote a memo dated September 22, saying quote: "During the continuing absence of the Fire Commissioner, I will assume any formal duties of the Commissioner"?

Will the minister also explain why the current issue of the newsletter of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Chiefs and Fire Fighters states, quote: "Mr. D. Peckham, Assistant Deputy Minister, will be acting formally for the Fire Commissioner on all matters of policy"?

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, the ADM continues to operate and always will operate as the policymaker in that particular department, but by law, as the hon. member should know, the Fire Commissioner, and, in his absence,the Deputy Fire Commissioner, is legally responsible for that office, and no one else. Neither the Premier, nor the Speaker, nor the Leader of the Opposition, can fill that post. It is filled automatically by the Deputy Fire Commissioner.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the minister.

I am, indeed, aware of the requirements of the law, specifically Section 7 of the Fire Prevention Act. I will quote that for the minister, and ask why he is not complying with the law. The Fire Prevention Act says, quote: "The Deputy Fire Commissioner shall act in the place of the Fire Commissioner, in the absence of the latter during illness or other disability, and when so acting, the Deputy Fire Commissioner has and may exercise all of the powers and authority of the fire commissioner."

Why, then, is the minister having his ADM, who lacks any technical expertise in fire safety, and who is working in his office under his thumb with other responsibilities in charge of the formal duties of the fire commissioner's office.

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

MR. HOGAN: I did not lie. Mr. Speaker, the deputy fire commissioner is operating as the fire commissioner, the ADM to the period that she was speaking of, or the hon. member was speaking of was actually on vacation. So I do not know - unless he carried the duties to wherever he was on vacation - what he told his employees, as I understand it, was that on matters of policy to refer them to his office and that the day to day operations and indeed the fire commissioners duties would be carried out by the deputy fire commissioner as is required by the Act.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the minister. Will the minister issue a corrective directive stating that the deputy fire commissioner is acting fire commissioner and shall continue to be acting fire commissioner during the extended sick leave of the commissioner and shall be fully in charge of the fire commissioner's office for formal duties and all duties of that office?

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

MR. HOGAN: No, Mr. Speaker, there is no need to issue such a directive. The deputy fire commissioner has his working orders and he knows how to carry out the duties of the fire commissioner as required under the Act and he will continue to do so. Matters of policy will be referred to the ADM and if the ADM cannot handle them it will be passed on to the DM and if the DM cannot handle them it will be passed on to me and if I cannot handle them I will pass them on to the Premier and if he cannot handle it I will pass it on to Cabinet and if they cannot handle it I will give it back to Ms. Verge.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for recognizing where the expertise lies in this -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: - the people in Humber East made the same choice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the Premier. Is not the Premier concerned that the effectiveness of the fire commissioner's office has been hurt and its objectivity compromised by the government's designating as acting fire commissioner for 'formal duties,' or for 'policy purposes', an individual with absolutely no expertise in fire safety, who works in the minister's office under the minister's thumb and who has many other responsibilities? Is not the Premier concerned about this matter?

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

MR. HOGAN: I wish the hon. member would direct questions of this nature to those who know about these matters. The Premier has to run the Premier's office. If you say that the fire commissioner and the ADM is under my thumb you should ask my thumbs not the Premier. The return of the fire commissioner's duties to come under the hon. member, was a slip of the tongue on my part, I forgot that you already had it and they took the fire department from you and everything, they had to put it somewhere else to be run because you mismanaged it. But no, there is no concern over the ability of the deputy fire commissioner to run his office.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is also to the same minister. The minister is indirectly responsible for the volunteer fire brigades throughout the Province, I wonder if the minister will tell us if the volunteer firefighters are covered by workers compensation?

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

MR. HOGAN: The last I knew they were, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister will tell us if he considers that the members of the volunteer fire brigades are covered while engaged in work directly related to their duties, such as repairing and enhancing the equipment that they use?

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

MR. HOGAN: I am not quite aware of the total technicalities of the coverage, Mr. Speaker, but it is while carrying out their duties as volunteer firemen that WCB benefits apply.

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder then if the minister would tell us why the Workers Compensation Board told a worker that as far as workers compensation is concerned an injury sustained by a volunteer fireman while doing volunteer work is not considered to be part of a volunteer fireman's duty and is therefore not work related nor is it covered by workers compensation?

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

MR. HOGAN: I would take that one under advisement, Mr. Speaker, and look into that specific case. I would have to know all the details why they did not, but my experience with the Workers Compensation Commission over the years has been that some of these could vary from case to case as with the specifics.

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

MR. HEARN: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker, to the minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations and the Workers' Compensation Commission.

I ask the minister if he would check into this because every volunteer fire brigade throughout the Province is now extremely concerned that they may not be covered unless they are directly fighting the fire. I will ask him if he will check into the quote from the Workers' Compensation Commission when they say: Generally speaking, firefighters are protected under the Act while fighting fires or participating in fire drills or a fire drill tournament. So consequently, if they are involved in all the other things that firefighters must do, like repairing their equipment, fixing up the trucks and so on and enhancing their - many of them build their fire halls and fire trucks as you know; they have been told that they are not covered and I ask the minister if he would check into that and give us a clear cut ruling, please.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will have it checked into again because I know that issue has been raised on a number of occasions and I have been involved in some meetings where that has been discussed. The basic tenets of the Act indicate that of course the whole idea is that an employee is covered in the performance of duties that are required by the employer, but policies enacted by the Workers' Compensation Commission itself, have extended the coverage to volunteer firefighters 'in the course of their duties' but there are some questions as to what 'in the course of their duties' actually extends to, and I will have that checked again and report an answer to the House, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier and concerns the importation of garbage and other waste into Newfoundland.

Many people in the Province, Mr. Speaker, are convinced that the government's lack of action in deterring the Long Harbour proponents, has encouraged Conrad Black and Hollingner Northshore to believe that they can successfully import garbage into Labrador. I want to ask the Premier whether or not he has given any assurances, either written or verbal, to the Long Harbour proponents or to Hollinger Northshore Inc. that, although difficult, if they meet the environmental assessment requirements under the Act, they will in fact be given approval to go ahead and import garbage into Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure on what the member based his reference to Conrad Black. Because it had the same name as Hollinger as a company that Mr. Black has an interest, therefore he jumped over a massive chasm and came to an erroneous conclusion, I believe?

We have been assured that this Hollinger is a totally different outfit, there is no connection at all so far as I know, so I do not want the member's prefatory remark -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: What is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know who it is - some company in Quebec. It has nothing to do with Black so far as I know. The member raised it, I know it is not the issue, I am going to deal with the issue but I just want to point out that like many other things that members opposite do, they jump over great chasms of truth and land in this quagmire that they want to create.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have given the proponents of neither company any indication that they are assured of getting it or that there is a good chance they will get it. As a matter of fact, I read an article in the Evening Telegram last week, where a Mr. Kennedy of North American Resources, was saying: the Premier has been frank with us from the beginning, he told us we had a right to make the application but that we would have a very difficult time convincing people in Newfoundland and Labrador that this was the right thing to do. Now, he made that statement. That is true. That is exactly what I said to them. They have a right under the law that was put in place by hon. members opposite. We do not quarrel with the law. The law provides for a fundamental right of people to be heard. It does not prevent people from being heard. I am quite surprised at the hon. member's position. The answer is, no, we have not given any such assurances to anybody.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Has the Premier promised either the Hollinger group or the Long Harbour proponents that they would not change the rules, that they would not amend the legislation and that they would not in fact take the same position they took while in opposition when the Bell Island project was proposed and say, no, legislatively, policy wise, or some other way, say, no, to the American garbage importation? Has the Premier promised to leave the rules the same, and in fact change their position from the position they took in opposition and said: if you meet the rules we will not change them. If you meet the rules you can go ahead with this project.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I have not promised either Hollinger or North American Resources not to change the rules but I did indicate, say a year and a half or two years ago, to Mr. Crosbie and ACOA, and to ERCO at the time, that if they could put forward an acceptable proposal that government would not say an automatic, no. I indicated that to ACOA, to Mr. Crosbie, North American Resources, or the Albright and Wilson people, I think it was I was dealing with at the time. That is the only statement I have ever made to them along those lines, but I did tell them very clearly upfront the general unacceptability of what they were proposing and the uphill battle they would likely have. They said: we understand that, we are prepared to take the risk, we are prepared to make the effort, and if we cannot make it acceptable then we understand that it cannot proceed. They understand that from the beginning.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, if it is permissible I would like to table here in the House - and I have copies for all members, notwithstanding our new policy of not distributing everything everywhere - A Comparative Analysis of Provincial and Federal Statutory Conflict of Interest Regimes in Canada. My friend for Humber East, I think, was provided with a copy of it Friday afternoon, if I understand her. This is simply an analysis of the proposal that my friend, the Minister of Finance has brought before the House, set against Canada - Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta - with respect to the new conflict of interest legislation. As we will be debating it this week, hon. members may find this of some assistance to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or next week.

MR. ROBERTS: Or next week. As long as we get a half-day at Christmas I will have no objection, Mr. Speaker. But I do want a half-day at Christmas. Anyway, I have a number of copies here for hon. members and for the press.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) Christmas!

MR. ROBERTS: A half-day Christmas, I say to my friend from Burin - Placentia West.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a point of order.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A point of order related to what the minister just said about Bill 67, Mr. Speaker. I have no other way to raise this. I know it is not strictly a point of order.

While the minister is commenting on his comparison legislation there, I wonder would he inform members of this House of Assembly if the legislation, Bill 67, which I saw for the first time today when I walked into the House, will be forwarded to the Social Legislation Review Committee, I believe it is called, the same as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary legislation was forwarded to it on Friday? There will be a meeting tonight, I guess, on the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Could the minister tell us if this legislation will be forwarded to the Committee, and when it will be done?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, this raises an issue that I am not sure can be dealt with in a point of order. The problem, as I understand it, is that there are no ground rules but there is a misunderstanding on how these committees go forward, how they do their work.

I don't want to be argumentative, for once in my life, but I am not sure I if I know what one means by the word "referred." The matter is before the House. The government proposed to call it for second reading in the normal course. If the Committee wishes to deal with it, they should feel free to do so. That is a matter, in my understanding, for the Committee to deal with. The government is neither for nor against it - it is for the Committee to deal with, as I understand these things. If the Committee wishes to deal with it they should feel perfectly free to do so, in my understanding of it.

What I would say before the hon. member gets back up - and we have to be careful this doesn't turn into a debate, Mr. Speaker - the real problem is there are no rules on it and there isn't even, it appears, a common understanding among members as to how these committees should work.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I don't wish to debate it. I would just like to point out to the hon. the minister that when this legislation was brought in, or when we started on this Committee process, which was a good reform in this House of Assembly, the ministers at the time would refer the legislation to the Committee, the Committee would so some work, report to the House and to the minister, and then the legislation would be tabled in the House of Assembly. Maybe some changes would be made, maybe not. That was the way it worked in the beginning and it seemed to be fairly successful at the time. It seems since the minister came - and not to be unfair to him - it seems to be only his legislation that is coming before the House that would be very important to be referred.

I just point out to him that the way the system worked was, the legislation was referred to the Committee, Committee did its work, reported, and then the legislation was tabled in the House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, with great respect, the member's assumptions are not totally correct. All legislation was not referred.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: The committees - okay, alright. Certain legislation may or may not be referred. As the Government House Leader has also said, if any committee wants specifically to look at a piece of legislation, then nobody says the committee can't do that. The big concern that we have about committees, from a government's point of view, is traipsing all over the Province at great public expense. We want to make sure that that is kept under control, that we don't let that get out of control.

Other than that, if the Committee wants to take a look at it - there are two things we can't have, Mr. Speaker; they are, the costs getting out of control and the time getting out of control. So with those limitations, if the Committee specifically wants to look at it, I personally don't have any problem with that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have allowed comments from two people on this side, and I will allow the Leader of the Opposition to comment.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to say, from my experience as House Leader and, in the last year or so as Leader of the Opposition, I am not aware that the committees have been abusive at all. In fact, most of them haven't even met, other than once or twice in the last year, as I understand it. I know that earlier on, when I was on a committee as Leader of the House for the Opposition party a couple of years ago, that the committees I served on and sat in on a couple of occasions did tremendous work, and they didn't abuse it. They had a couple of public hearings here and there. The whole purpose is to give the general public some chance to have input.

Now, what we should be doing here today is calling a spade a spade. The reality here is, if the government wanted to do the job properly and were properly prepared they could have had lots of time to present the legislation in draft form to the committee, let the committee have a look at it, and then bring it back to the House. They could have done that back last fall. I think that may be an argument, but it certainly is a valid criticism as well, Mr. Speaker. That is the problem. Call a spade a spade. They are trying to rush and ram it through. That is what they are doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. member was doubtful himself if it was a point of order, and we know there was no point of order.

Notices of Motion?

What is the hon. minister -

MR. GULLAGE: Making a report, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. Back to Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the financial and statistical report for the Division of Social Assistance of the Department of Social Services for the fiscal year, 1991-1992.

MR. SPEAKER: Further Reports by Standing and Special Committees?

MS. VERGE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for Humber East, on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The first day of this fall sitting of the House of Assembly, the Minister of Justice announced the government's intention to introduce in this sitting amendments to The Child Welfare Act. Last week, the Minister of Social Services gave notice of his intention to introduce those amendments. We still haven't seen that bill. Mr. Speaker, I would like to find out from the government if, indeed, they are intending to proceed with the amendments to The Child Welfare Act and, if so, if they will be referred to the Social Legislation Review Committee. They are of significant public interest.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me say two things: First of all, I find it passing strange that hon. members opposite, who had the conduct of this House for seventeen years and never made any effort to refer anything to anybody, are now suddenly saying it is indispensable. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, let's call a spade a spade, even when the spade is s-p-a-y-e-d as in the case of the political efficacy of hon. gentlemen and lady opposite.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me carry on and say, the answer to the hon. lady's question is that the bill, I am told, is at the printers. I will say to her, I will ask the Clerk to check, if it is not coming up today I will undertake to provide her with a typescript copy. It is a very simple one-section change. It changes a section that originally went in the act when I was Minister of Public Welfare twenty-five years ago. The hon. lady and her colleagues were there for seventeen years and didn't change it. We are going to ask the House to change it, and it will be done before Christmas at our request.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act." Also, Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act."

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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting Taxation Of Utilities Act."

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Juries Act, 1991, and The Elections Act, 1991."

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday the member for Kilbride asked four particular questions relating to reclassification within the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. Mr. Speaker, I have the questions and I have the answers to the questions.

The first question was: Will the minister confirm that during this pay period we will see some sixty-eight operational supervisors receive a pay increase totalling some $240,000? The answer, Mr. Speaker, is no. During this pay period, a total of sixty-eight permanent operation supervisors will receive a total of $53,100 in retroactive salary. The operations supervisors were reclassified from Hay level 13 to Hay level 15, effective August 26, 1992.

Question 2: While the minister is considering that question will he also confirm to this House of Assembly that during the last month another thirteen or fourteen assistant district supervisors, also on the management pay scale, received increases, probably because of reclassification? Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question is, during the past month a total of seven assistant superintendents of operations were reclassified from Hay level 18 to Hay level 20. This brings the level of these officials to be similar to the other thirteen assistant superintendents in the department.

Question 3, Mr. Speaker. The minister might recall that two years ago, I believe it was, a former minister changed the policy in the department of taking away overtime payments from these district superintendents and assistant district superintendents for the winter months. Will the minister find out when he is getting these answers, now that these people have been reclassified from HL-13 to HL-15, that we now have to pay these people on an increased salary for a twelve-month period rather than having to pay overtime for a four-or-five-month period, as was in the past? Will these new payments cost the taxpayers more than would have been the case had government not changed the policy some two years ago? Answer: Two years ago as part of the restraint measures, it was decided to eliminate overtime for operation supervisors, i.e. foremen, and not district superintendents and assistant district superintendents, as stated in the member's questions. Operation supervisors were placed on a shift system in the winter months that results in their being responsible for the roads in their area for one week and having the next week off. This change resulted in an annual saving of $550,000.

It must be noted that there is absolutely no interrelationship between overtime previously paid the operations supervisors and the current reclassification. The two processes are mutually exclusive of one another. It is estimated that the reclassification will cost approximately $175,000 on an annual basis.

The classification process for all government, hospital, and nursing home management employees is performed by a rating committee on the basis of positions and descriptions submitted by employees. The committee is comprised of a cross section of officials representing government departments and public sector agencies.

The final question is: When the minister is getting this information, would he inform this House how many management staff in his department have been reclassified upwards since the wage freeze was put in place, particularly on the union members within his department? The answer to that question, Mr. Speaker, is, during the period the wage freeze has been in place, in addition to the operations supervisors there have been seventy-nine reclassifications of management positions out of total of some 258 in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The majority of these resulted from reorganization and realignment of duties that were necessary as a result of the restraint measures put in place some twenty months ago. So, there were seventy-nine out of 258. By comparison, for the same period there have been 175 reclassifications for bargaining unit positions.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to note that reclassifications continue for both management and for bargaining unit employees through the established processes of government. The wage freeze does not prevent reclassification for management or for bargaining unit employees. I will table the answers to the questions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as a preliminary matter in accordance with the understanding we have arrived at, let me first of all move that the House not rise at 5:00 o'clock this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: You have heard the motion. Is it agreed that the House not rise at 5:00 p.m.?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: Agreed.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we call Motion 4 and then go into Motions 1 and 2 which are the Committee debate on the tax bills? My friend, the Minister of Finance, is with us today so we will have a chance to shine?

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Summary Proceedings Act, The Liquor Control Act, and the Motorized Snow Vehicles And All-Terrain Vehicles Act,"

carried. (Bill No. 70)

On motion, Bill No. 70 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Motions 1 and 2.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (L. Snow): Order, please!

Bill 59. The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just a very brief introduction to this piece of legislation. It is simply putting into legislation what was announced in the Ministerial Statement a little over a week ago. This amends the Tobacco Tax Act to increase the tobacco tax payable from 7.78 to 10.28 cents per cigarette, which is the 2.5 cents per cigarette increase announced in the statement. This will add fifty cents to the cost of a pack of twenty cigarettes.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the regrettable measures that were unavoidable if we were to properly handle the very difficult situation that we found ourselves in about three weeks ago with the realization that our revenues from Ottawa would be reduced by over some $80 million. We were forced to bring in expenditure restraints, we were forced to do extra borrowing and also we were forced to increase some taxes. This is one of the taxes that we find it necessary to have increased. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am requesting that we get some of these colleagues near to me removed, Mr. Chairman, so we can deal with getting on with the running of the House and try to get some of this legislation out of the way. I am sure most of us want to have our Christmas dinner at home, and for some of us to do that we have to go a fair distance to get there. Some of us can get in our cars and be home in fifteen minutes but for others it is going to take us five hours or so.

I want to have a few words about Bill 59, Mr. Chairman, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act". As the minister said - I guess my first reaction, when the minister stood in his place on the morning of the Friday before last, to bring in his mini-Budget, his economic statement was - I wondered, really, if we have not passed the point of diminishing returns with our tobacco tax and our liquor taxes. I would be interested in hearing the minister comment, as I am sure before these measures were implemented, the officials of the Department of Finance must have done an analysis on how much government realistically expected to get from increasing cigarettes by, I think he said 2.5 cents a cigarette, fifty cents a pack. How much revenue will government really derive from that? I guess that is the question. I wonder if the minister can inform the House whether there was an analysis done -

MR. SIMMS: How many packs do they sell every year?

MR. MATTHEWS: I don't know how many, I would say, quite a few packs.

MR. SIMMS: Multiply it by fifty cents.

MR. MATTHEWS: But I am just wondering what the minister's officials are telling him really with the - we keep piling on taxes on tobacco and alcohol, on liquor, booze, beer and so on. Have we reached that point yet where it really doesn't make that much difference to the bottom line in the Province? Now, I mean, I realize fully the kind of a bind the minister found himself in; he has bond rating agents watching him from all around, all over the country. He has been over to New York, I guess, not long back - called over to New York, they said, 'Get over here. you are under credit watch. Come over and have a chat to us.' I heard the minister himself today on the news media on my way driving in from the Burin Peninsula, saying where he had been down in New York and we seem to be okay for now, but there was no guarantee that the Province would not go under credit watch at any time, I believe that is what the minister said. But my point is, realizing why the minister had to take some of these measures, I guess it was to satisfy the bond rating agencies so that they could have a look at what measures the government was taking to try and alleviate some of their fears on generating additional revenues, cutting expenditures and so on, so I am wondering if the minister -

MR. TOBIN: The minister should listen.

MR. MATTHEWS: - I am wondering if the minister, when he responds and so on, could perhaps inform the House whether or not the officials of the Department of Finance have had a look; I am sure over the years this has been a concern for many, many people. You keep piling on taxes, when does your luck run out? Increase taxes and then people buy less, so your bottom line in the Province does not improve anymore okay, or, the other side of it is of course, that you encourage illegal activities. You know, there is a lot of that kind of activity, there is a lot of from what I understand, of what they call bootleg cigarettes that are coming in, and I see the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs smiling, thinking I am talking about St. Pierre and Miquelon -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, wherever, but as well they are coming across the borders into Canada and they are finding their way into the Province across the Gulf and Argentia and other ways, so I am just wondering really, when you look at what the minister is doing, if really that he is going to collect any more revenues - particularly on this tobacco tax act. I would be quite interested to see when the minister does an analysis at the end of this fiscal year, to see just how much tobacco revenues have increased in the Province from the time of the mini-statement or the mini-Budget until the end of the fiscal year.

Maybe the Province will not take in any more money in this three or four-months period than they would have if they had not increased taxes and that is what I would be interested in seeing at the end of the year; really, was there any difference? Did the Province pick up any additional revenues because of this Bill 59? So I hope the minister has listened to what I said, and, when he responds again, I would be interested in him telling the House, whether there was a comparison analysis done and really does he expect to get additional revenues from the increase in tobacco products? So that is all I have to say on it and all the questions I have to ask, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this particular bill, Bill 59, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (No.3)". Mr. Chairman, I wholeheartedly agree with the previous speaker, the Member for Grand Bank, when he suggested that we have finally met the point of diminishing returns with regards to taxation in this Province, and whether it is gasoline tax, tobacco tax, income tax or whatever it is, I mean we are creating a tremendous underground economy here. The government is driving people to the underground because of the heavy tax burden that is out there, and we are creating an underground economy and of course, underground economies mean that the government does not get any taxes whatsoever out of the action in that economy and does not get any activity in the economy, they cannot get their hands on the taxes.

The underground economy is being created because of the heavy tax burden. Now, Mr. Chairman, whether this is being - I will not say it has been a deliberate attempt by this government to create this large underground economy but the heavy taxes that this government has seen fit to levy, and the Minister of Finance alluded to it when he spoke, he said they needed it because they kept finding themselves being constrained -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: - Mr. Chairman, the hon. Minister of Finance suggested that they had to increase taxes because of the constraints that they found themselves in and the revenues are going down but expenses have gone up. Now, Mr. Chairman, what I would suggest they would have to do, is similar to what occurs in quite a few other jurisdictions of course, is that you have to be more creative to stimulate more action in the economy so as to get more revenues to the government; that is what you have to do.

Now with this particular act, the Tobacco Tax Act, in my area we are in a border situation in western Labrador, one of the few places in this Province that is actually right into a border situation, where they are competing with people across the border - and with the gasoline tax and the tobacco tax we are directly affected.

Mr. Chairman, with regard to the tobacco tax, of course, this was addressed several years ago in western Labrador. As a matter of fact, I feel proud of being one of the people instrumental in convincing the previous administration that they had to come in with a similar type of tax structure that other provinces have - and other provinces do have it - where in border situations they have graduate taxes. The Province of Quebec, as an example, has it in gasoline. They have it in tobacco.

Now in our area I was instrumental, along with many other people in western Labrador, to convince the previous administration, and my involvement was as a mayor of a community and also as a member of the economic council. I had the opportunity to meet with Cabinet and suggest to them that they would have to implement a type of rebate system or tax system that would allow the entrepreneur in western Labrador to be able to compete on a level playing field with the businessman over in the neighbouring Province of Quebec.

The previous administration recognized that and they implemented a tax rebate system on tobacco so that when the price of cigarettes did increase with taxes we could have a graduate tax or a rebate tax so that the actual price of cigarettes could be lowered in western Labrador.

What was happening, people were being influenced to go across the border. It was our mini, our micro, cross-border shopping if you will, because that is exactly what was happening. People would leave Labrador City and Wabush, drive to Fermont, pick up their cigarettes, because there was a difference of $2 a pack in the price.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, when people get into the Cabinet room and leave the classroom, they do not have any concerns anymore. All of a sudden they go up to a $120,000 a year job. They forget the classroom. They get into the board room, the Cabinet room, and they forget all about it.

The hon. Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations does not understand anymore. He does not understand the common plight of individuals. He cannot relate to people only making $50,000 or $60,000 a year anymore. When you are making $120,000 or $150,000 a year you forget all about the fellow who is only making $50,000 or $60,000. So he cannot understand that $2 a package, if you are smoking -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, the hon. Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations cannot relate to the ordinary person only making $50,000 or $60,000 a year. That is what has happened to him. That is why you are in so much trouble.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now, now, listen. I would say you are probably 90 per cent in my district. Keep it up and you might even find -

AN HON. MEMBER: Randy will have his shot at you.

MR. A. SNOW: He may - but to get back to what I am talking about, what we have to be is more creative. I specifically direct my remarks to the Minister of Finance. What we have to be is more creative because right now, today, there is a $2 difference in a package of cigarettes in western Labrador and in eastern Labrador in Quebec - a 20 kilometre distance. Because of the border situation there is a $2 difference in the price of a package of cigarettes. You can easily see what will happen. If you could get your cigarettes in the Goulds, as an example - now I will bring it back to some of you people who have not - you probably go outside the overpass as far as the Goulds, so if you went to the Goulds and you could buy a package of cigarettes $2 cheaper, you know that people in the Goulds would be selling us cigarettes, right? Even a townie would figure that out. The hon. Member for St. John's South nods his head and says, yes, I would go to the Goulds to save $2 on a pack. He would, and most other people would.

So what I am suggesting to you is that that rebate that is in place in western Labrador today, to allow the businesspeople in western Labrador to compete on a level playing field, has to be changed. Whether it's an amendment to this Bill or whether it's through a regulation it has to be changed. Now I think it's just through a regulation. The Minister of Finance can check on it.

This is something that's a bit more creative. Because this will allow people to stay at home, spend their money at home. While it's not earth-shattering to the people from St. John's - the Minister of Finance says that's balderdash and he says he shouldn't be doing it. No, I'm sorry, the previous Minister of Finance. The present Minister of Finance nods that he's going to check it.

What I'm doing, I would ask the minister to check that, because it does mean that we're going to lose more than - it's not the two dollars a pack in revenue that we're going to be losing. What we have to look at is that when people go up to this neighbouring community in another province and they start buying the cigarettes, they end up buying their groceries, their clothing. The next thing you know we're losing a lot of the activity in our local economy. Very similar to the cross-border shopping that occurs between Canada and the United States, Montreal - Plattsburgh, that type of thing, Windsor - Detroit, all those places. Toronto down to Buffalo or Niagara Falls. All those places.

In our case yes, it's a micro-example. But it's important in western Labrador. I believe that the same principle applied. That we should be lowering it through the rebate system. I hope that the Minister of Finance would find through his officials that they could be able to change the rebate system in western Labrador so that the people in Labrador West, the business community, can offer the same prices to the people in western Labrador as the people selling cigarettes over in Fermont can do to their citizens.

This is going to create more economic activity within our own tax regime, our own communities in Lab West. That's going to create more activity and more employment. Of course, then that means that the income taxes and all other taxes - money being raised through other areas - will accrue to this Province. That's all I want to do. Yes, it's a benefit that people in western Labrador will receive, but in the long run we'll see more revenue accruing to this Province because of this type of action. I hope that the Minister of Finance - in discussions I had with him before he seems to be a reasonable man. This Minister of Finance. The other Minister of Finance just didn't know what he was doing. He couldn't do his sums whatsoever. I don't know what he taught at the University but it definitely wasn't economics.

Anyway, I'm sure that the present Minister of Finance will ask his officials, or at least I hope so, that he would get his officials to check out the rebate system. Because at present I believe it's $4.06 a carton. We're going to have to change that rebate system to reflect about a two dollar difference in price per packages of cigarettes. So that the rebate system now I would suspect is going to have to change drastically to allow - again, I want to reiterate this and to emphasise.

This is to allow a level playing field for the businesspeople in western Labrador to compete with the businesspeople in the neighbouring province because of the difference in taxation on the tobacco. This will in the end result create more economic activity and thus more revenues into the Treasury of this Province. That's what I'm saying about being more creative. You've got to be more creative. If you do this, Mr. Speaker, I think that the end result will mean that there'll be more revenue accruing to this Province and also stimulate more activity in western Labrador. Thank you very much.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Some points that I feel I should respond to. First of all, the concept that we may be reaching the point of diminishing returns in terms of taxation on tobacco.

Both hon. gentlemen opposite have a point that we may be in fact very close to that, or reaching that. There's no doubt about that. In terms of the tax on alcohol, we feel that we have reached that point. The last time that was increased it resulted in no increase in revenues and we feel that is as far as it could go, and studies indicate that we are the point of diminishing returns there.

With regard to cigarettes, the situation is not clear; however, we will now be slightly above the other Maritime Provinces in the tax on cigarettes. I guess we will just have to see what happens. Unfortunately - nobody likes to raise taxes, but we had to come up with some extra revenue. This was one of the avenues that we chose, and whether we reach the point of diminishing returns I guess we will see as the year goes on.

I would like to suggest to members opposite that one thing that may be happening that will cause a reduction in the use of cigarettes is the popularity of the nicotine patch. That itself may cause a large reduction in the consumption of cigarettes, so we will see anyway during the year what impact either the point of diminishing returns or the patches have on the consumption of cigarettes.

With regard to bootlegged cigarettes, I would concur with members opposite that that is a problem and always has been, even if the difference in price if fairly small. There are probably cigarettes that find their way into the Province from St. Pierre or from some mainland points. All I can say to members opposite is that we have to be more diligent in terms of checking for cargoes of bootlegged cigarettes. That happens, and it is a fact of life. Whether this particular increase in tax will cause an increase in smuggling or not remains to be seen, but again we have to be particularly vigilant with regard to the smuggling.

The Labrador rebate the hon. gentleman mentioned in his speech, and mentioned to me previously, I am going to have a look at that. My feeling is that this either would be dealt with by regulation or by a separate bill. It would not be in a motion form, which is usually used for raising taxes. So it would be probably in a separate bill or in a regulation, but I can assure the hon. member that whatever the situation was before should be maintained. So if the changes are required, they will be made, but I will check into that and get back to him later on, just as quickly as I can.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Yes, I understand that. I will get back to the hon. gentleman as quickly as I can, but I want to assure him that our intention was not to change the situation from what it was before. That was not out intention.

With regard to his comments about being inventive and different and so on, and things to do to stimulate the economy, one cannot dispute motherhood. There has to be some better way to do things; but I remind hon. members that we are in very difficult times - when I say 'we' I do not mean this Province. I mean the country. I mean North America, and perhaps most of the world.

We are going through some difficult times. A real restructuring is going on, and while this is going on it is impossible for us to, for instance, at this point in time forego sources of revenue. We would all like to. We would all like to reduce the RST. We would all like to reduce personal income tax. We would all like to reduce taxation, and I would love to see the day when I could stand up in this House and announce reductions in taxation, and other measures to stimulate the economy. At this point in time we do not have that leeway nor luxury.

I agree that a stimulus would probably generate revenue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) is not a luxury.

MR. BAKER: No, it is a luxury, I remind the hon. member, because we are in a situation right now where in the next four months we had to handle and reduce a projected $150 million deficit. We had to drastically reduce that. A tax stimulus that we give now might reap benefits two years down the road, but we have an emergency situation to handle right now. In that emergency situation if you lose $40 million by reducing the RST one percentage point, if you lose $40 million that way, you're not going to get $50 million back immediately. It doesn't work that way. So we cannot afford, because of our precarious credit rating, to do that kind of thing. We don't have the leeway. It all has to do with the precariousness of our credit rating.

So I'd dearly love to be able to do something different. But the leeway is simply not there at this time. I hope to see the time when the leeway is there. I really wish that it would have been possible to have equalization payments from transfers increasing every year at the rate of 8 per cent and 10 per cent a year. I would have loved to have seen that. We would have had $800 million more in the last three years than we've had. A tremendous amount of money. I would have loved to have seen that. The reality is, Mr. Chairman, that the money is not there. A very difficult situation. Reluctantly we have to take these measures.

I'd like to end by assuring members opposite that if the time comes when things turn around that I would only be too happy to very actively stimulate the economy at a time when we're able to do so. I'd say it's unfortunate that this kind of stimulation was not done during the boom years of the 1980s. Really unfortunate.

So, Mr. Chairman, with these few words I'd like to move the motion, Motion 1.

Resolution

That it is expedient to bring in a measure to amend the Tobacco Tax Act.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the resolution without amendments and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill 60. "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act (No. 2)."

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The introduction for this one is basically the same as the introduction for the previous one. This is a bill that is necessitated by the recent financial statement where we had to get into some sources of revenue. I believe the revenue sources this year will increase revenue this year by some $10 million in total.

This particular revenue source is to amend the Gasoline Tax Act by increasing the gasoline tax payable from thirteen point seven cents to fifteen point seven cents per litre for gasoline - that's a two cents per litre increase in the cost of gasoline - and from fifteen point six cents to seventeen point six cents per litre for diesel fuel, as announced in the ministerial statement.

So, Mr. Chairman, essentially this is a two cent per litre increase in the price of gas and diesel fuel to raise revenues to handle the emergency situation that we find ourselves in.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, just a few words on this Bill, and maybe more of an enquiry as to - we're concerned about gasoline prices in general. I hope the minister gets up and explains why we have such a wide discrepancy in this Province in the price of gasoline. I see the Minister of Energy is in his place. Because it's interesting, just before I came down from my office I had a call from constituents of mine in Fogo who wanted to know how much gasoline had gone up per litre. I told them it had gone up two cents per litre. They said: how come it's gone up four cents a litre at the gas pumps in Fogo? I said: the legislation said only two cents. He said a litre of gasoline in Fogo today is costing sixty-eight point nine cents per litre. In Gander it's costing sixty point one, and less than sixty at the self-serve stations. That's -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. WINSOR: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Fifty-eight point four (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Fifty-eight point four and sixty-eight point nine in Fogo. Now, Mr. Chairman, that's a twelve or thirteen cents differential per litre. That's just too much money. If we talk in terms of gallons we're talking fifty to sixty cents a gallon. That's just too much a difference.

I've checked with the oil companies and they tell me that the cost of transporting fuel from Lewisporte or Gander, wherever, to Gander plays into it but only at the tune of eight-tenths of a cent per litre. 68.9 cents this morning, it was 64.9 cents prior to the announcement of going up two cents and - 68.9 cents, Mr. Chairman, and I wonder if there can be - we just see the Minister of Municipal Affairs trying to regulate utility companies in this Province, I wonder is there any thought ever given to some kind of a regulatory agency to look at the price of gasoline, Mr. Chairman, because that is gouging of some sort. If it is 58 cents a litre in St. John's and 68.9 cents in Fogo, Mr. Chairman, that is a lot of difference, that is too much difference. In fact I was out on the west coast this summer and I think gas was selling at 53 cents a litre out there and I was paying 64 cents at home. Subsequently it is gone up, but now, Mr. Chairman, we are talking too big of a range in taxes. The Member for Carbonear said it is was 58.4 cents at some place here in St. John's, that is fifty cents on a gallon of gas, Mr. Chairman, I realize why the minister did it, I am not sure that it is going to be - again another tax that is going to be placed on consumers because now of course the cost of freight is going to go up, as trucking companies and everyone else have to offset the lost of earnings that they would normally have from the delivery of their goods, Mr. Chairman. The only break that we have had as consumers this summer, has been gas wars as they have been called, where the individual service stations have lowered the price of gasoline because of the increased competition. Government turns around and socks it to us again, increases the price of gasoline, some 8 cents or 9 cents a gallon or 2 cents a litre, Mr. Chairman, I cannot support that kind of legislation because it is too hard on the pocketbooks of Newfoundlanders.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just a few -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, do not get me riled up now, I say to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and the Minister of Forestry, do not get me riled up, we could be talking gasoline tax until 7 o'clock.

Mr. Chairman, on a serious note, my colleague form Fogo brought up a very legitimate point and I hope the Minister of Finance takes note because why should companies or retailers or whoever, out and about the Province, I mean the government brought in this new tax measure okay, looking for a 2 cents per litre increase and now we see in the case of the hon. gentleman's area that companies have increased their gas prices by 4 cents a litre, now why should they be permitted to do that? Because what they have done is they have done it under the guise of a tax increase which should have only put it up 2 cents a litre and now they have put it up 4 cents and when you look at - I mean I wonder did anyone ever - and I see the Minister of Mines and Energy there as well, did anyone ever really seriously - I mean 68.9 cents out in Fogo area and 58.4 cents on Newfoundland Drive, I believe the Member for Carbonear said today. I mean you could understand that there would be a trucking cost associated with moving the stuff further away from the centres but not that much, my God in Heaven, that is outrageous, outrageous.

The other thing that I have noticed in my own area of the Province and particularly in some, we call it medium sized towns, what we find happening is that they make an agreement amongst themselves. We think that competition is good, right, which it should be for the consumer, competition should be good but you know what is happening, I know one town in my district, do you know what they did? They made an agreement amongst themselves, that they keep the prices up, not competing against each other to drop it. Four or five gasoline outlets, that is what they have done, they have agreed. On one occasion one fellow said yes that he was going to drop his prices and the other three or four almost lynched him. Almost lynched him because he was doing something wrong, they said: you are not allowed, you should not be doing this, because he had just set up a new outlet, a new gas outlet by a company that was not there before. They got really, really annoyed at the thought that he was going to offer gasoline to consumers at lower than they had agreed amongst themselves to offer. They just about tarred and feathered the poor fellow. So this happens too and particularly in smaller communities. But there is one other issue on gasoline, I know I am straying a bit, but whoever is responsible over there for this, whoever is responsible for it, Consumer Affairs or Mines and Energy, but there is another I say, another real fraud, another real fraud going on with the gasoline business in this Province and that is when you pull up to the pumps and you see these higher grades, supposedly higher grade gasolines, where you have your regular and you have your supreme, you have your whatever, okay? I will tell you something, in a lot of cases where you get the supreme for the higher grade gasoline marked on the pump that you are supposed to be paying so many cents a litre more, you know something, you are not getting the higher grade fuel, you are not getting it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Can you verify it?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, I can verify it.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a fact.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, it is a fact. You drive up thinking you are getting higher grade fuel and you are not getting it, you are getting the same stuff that is in the regular tanks with the price different, you are getting the same gas.

AN HON. MEMBER: Have there been charges laid on it?

MR. MATTHEWS: No, there have not been. I know there have been some people who made representation to Consumer Affairs, federally I guess it is and so on, but it is something that I wanted to say - who is in charge of Consumer Affairs on the other side, by the way?

AN HON. MEMBER: Justice.

MR. MATTHEWS: The justice minister. Well someone has to help the finance minister bring this to the attention of the justice minister because it is happening out there. People are paying the higher grade price and getting the regular fuel; the only thing different is the price and what it is supposed to be, that is happening out and about this Province. It is happening and it is very, very serious because that should not be happening, there should be some protection there for the motorist, for the consumer who drives up to a gas pump and pays for the higher grade fuel and is getting the lesser grade. There should be something done about that, I say to members opposite and they should check into it-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, and it is happening, I assure members it is happening in this Province in different areas of the Province, maybe in all areas of the Province, but it is something that I would like to see somebody really take seriously and check into it because it is illegal. But having said, and I want to say to the Minister of Finance again and to whoever is responsible, for the government to bring in a measure to - we all know the reasons again, the same as the tobacco tax, they are into a financial squeeze; they have to try and satisfy the bond rating agencies; they have to demonstrate to them that they are going to increase revenues and this is a measure to do it. But again, why should someone then increase their gasoline prices by four cents a litre when government is only requiring them to do it by two, and of course they seize on the opportunity, where the minister announced an increase that they did not jack the price up two cents a litre on the pump, what did they do? They jacked it up four cents a litre.

Most people will not notice that, they go and they pay a little bit more for their gas and say that is that provincial government again, that is Clyde Wells in there who - it is the reason why they are paying more for their gas but they are paying two cents a litre more than they should be paying in most cases. That is the problem -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it is not, do not blame it on the business, blame it on (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No, no. There are two people on whom they should blame it. One is the government for putting the two cents a litre on it and the other one is the retailer who is putting another two cents on it because he is going to adjust the pumps so why not whack it up another two for me.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Exactly and that is happening so it is something I hope the government takes note of because I make the remarks quite seriously. We all know why government brought in these measures. I do not know if it is going to make a lot of difference at the end of the day, come the 31st of March, when we see the end of the fiscal year. Government is going to have to bring in another Budget some time between now and then and it will be quite interesting again to see just how much revenues have increased because of the measures that were announced by the minister the Friday before last. It would be quite interesting to see, really. Did the measures that were announced by the minister increase the revenues? I am sure we will look forward and scrutinize the documents when - if we get the chance to do that, if we get the chance, we would be most interested in seeing the - what is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: What would cause you not to?

MR. MATTHEWS: What would cause us not to? Well, I mean, there could be certain events happening between now and the tabling of another Budget, I say to the Minister of Finance, and there is no doubt that some of us will be here to scrutinize the documents but I do not know how many and who will be tabling the documents of course. We are not quite sure today, who will be tabling and who will be scrutinizing, I say to the Minster of Finance, it could be a whole change. Maybe the Minister of Finance might be scrutinizing the new document brought in by a new Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Pigs might fly.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, pigs might fly, the former Minister of Finance said. Pigs might fly. I say to the Minister of Health the first time that a helicopter flew over Garnish the story is that this old lady got quite frightened and said that Uncle So and So's pig had gone to wing. She thought indeed that pigs could fly. I do not know what she thought was going around but that is how she described the helicopter, the pig had gone to wing. I say to the Minister of Finance we will be quite interested to see at the end of the day how significant revenues have increased between now and the end of March once we get a chance to have a look at it all.

Having said that, Mr. Chairman, I make the remarks quite seriously. I see the Member for Mount Pearl is here. He arrived late as he informed us he would, so that is where we are, on Bill 60. We are doing Bill 60 now, An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act. We did the Tobacco Tax Act before. Since you informed us you were going to be late did you want to have a few words on Bill 60?

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, I have just a few remarks on Bill 60, An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act. I just want to make a few comments about what the previous speakers said. There was some suggestion that some businesses out there are taking the opportunity to increase taxes to gouge more money from consumers. I think by and large most businesspeople in this Province do not take opportunities like that, they do not necessarily go out and attempt to take advantage of consumers because there has been a tax increase. I think in most cases businesses in this Province operate in a very responsible manner and what they quite often have to do, and people do not understand, is there has to be a margin of profit that businesses need to operate and they operate on a margin of profit rather than on a fixed profit, Mr. Chairman, in the sense of cents per gallon or cents per litre.

When tax increases go up, because of the profit margin having to be maintained they see that the price has to go up a couple of percentage points, if you will, over and above the taxes to maintain that margin of profit. Of course in other cases dealers have found themselves in localities where transportation is higher. That may be a case that occurred in some island portions of this larger island part of the Province, Mr. Chairman. I thought with a little bit of delight when the Minister of Health talked about pigs might fly in reference to a comment made by the hon. Member for Grand Bank, I would say that pigs have a greater chance of flying than any of the previous Budgets he brought down, Mr. Chairman, because they certainly did not fly in this Province, I can guarantee. The deficits went ballooning, Mr. Chairman. They were more than 80 per cent out. They were 500 per cent out in the last one. With regard to the Bill I am speaking about here, in my particular district, in Labrador West and the East now, we are in the dawning of an new era of transportation into western Labrador. Four or five years ago with the opening of what we commonly refer to in western Labrador as the Baie Comeau Road, we found, since then, that about 80 per cent of the consumable freight in western Labrador comes in on tractor trailer now.

Just recently, listening to newscasts, one of the first tractor trailers, having gone all the way around the so-called circle route, across the Island portion of the Province, up through Nova Scotia, through New Brunswick, down through Quebec, in through western Labrador, has arrived. The tractor trailers from St. John's have gone all the way around the circle into Happy Valley - Goose Bay. Just this past weekend I think it was Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and somebody else had hired rigs and that is what happened.

I can remember the excitement in western Labrador when this first started happening, and it was exciting. Now we see the mining companies in western Labrador able to get freight from Montreal in about a maximum of twenty-four hours - out of Montreal to Labrador West. That is phenomenal, when you stop to think of it. That makes that mining company more competitive. They are competing in a global economy, but when they are able to - instead of having to fly in parts now they only have to wait twenty-four hours to get parts delivered from Montreal or Toronto. Probably it might take an extra ten or twelve hours from Toronto. That is phenomenal for the amount of downtime that they do not have to lose anymore. It makes them more competitive in the global economy, which is good for the economy. It is good for our local industry.

Our groceries are also brought in the same way now. We find that we have a - as a matter of fact, I find that shopping here in St. John's now, when I buy fruits and vegetables at home in Labrador they are a lot fresher and a better price in western Labrador than they are here. That is because I am closer to the supply coming out of central Canada. That is why that is occurring.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Taxes is what I was complaining about last week. Taxes that his government placed on the residents of western Labrador was highest. It was really high in western Labrador - not the prices that people are having to pay, or the quality of groceries that they buy there.

Now I can see what is going to happen over in eastern Labrador, if I may call it that, over in the Happy Valley - Goose Bay region. You are going to find that it is going to be more grocery items. That type of consumer item is going to be coming in on tractor trailer now. The businessperson operating a business in central Labrador, Happy Valley - Goose Bay, will not have to warehouse for six and seven months.

There are going to be more tractor trailers coming in is my point. They come in from Quebec. The can of beans, when it comes down to St. John's, leaves Montreal, comes down around, comes into St. John's, and is going back up again, right now; but a businessperson warehouses that can of beans, if you will, in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, and he warehouses it for about six or eight months and sells it. There is a cost in storing that item for six months in a warehouse, because of the shipping season in Happy Valley - Goose Bay; but with the change - this dawning of a new era - is now going to permit businesspeople to be able to get their goods in from maybe St. John's or central Canada - I do not know where they will come from - but the goods will be able to come in within twenty-four hours shipping. So that is a new industry starting in Labrador - shipping. That is another industry coming in.

Now in order to have these vehicles coming in, you know what happens today? Right now today these tractor trailers that are coming in and going all the way to Churchill Falls, or down in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, or stopping in western Labrador - do you know where they fuel up? In Quebec - down in Baie Comeau. Do you know why? They fuel up down in Baie Comeau because the prices there on diesel fuel are so much cheaper, which is what is included in this gasoline tax act. The diesel fuel up in Baie Comeau is a lot cheaper than what they pay in western Labrador. You would ordinarily fuel up your rig in western Labrador if you were going to go on to Churchill Falls or you had to go back to Baie Comeau or back to Quebec, back to Montreal, back to Toronto, or wherever it is coming from.

Because our fuel in western Labrador is 55 cents a litre, and down in Baie Comeau it is 41 cents a litre -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Mount Wright.

MR. A. SNOW: Now the hon. member talks about it's in Mount Wright, they don't buy it from Mount Wright. In the Cardlock system you buy it in either western Labrador or you buy it down in Baie Comeau. Now that's where they're buying it.

I'm not being cheaply political about it. I want to explain it to the House so they can understand it. You can't buy it in Mount Wright, in the Cardlock system. You buy it in either western Labrador or Baie Comeau. So what happens is that the rig operators are buying it in Baie Comeau, loading up, putting extra size tanks on these vehicles. They load up in Baie Comeau and they pay forty-one cents a litre. In Newfoundland, Labrador portion of this Province, they pay fifty-five cents a litre.

Mr. Chairman, that's a tremendous difference. So you can imagine that this is -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy on a point of order?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. A. SNOW: Go ahead.

DR. GIBBONS: Just a bit of information. My understanding is that the price of diesel in Montreal is fifty-three point six cents a litre as of a week ago. I would be surprised if it's forty-one cents a litre in Baie Comeau.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, it probably is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Montreal.

MR. A. SNOW: This minister - yes, and he can wave around his figures. This minister should be aware - he is the Minister responsible for Mines and Energy - that there is a graduated tax on gasoline and diesel fuel in the Province of Quebec. Now he should know that. He's the minister responsible for these things in this Province. I've been arguing in this House since I've been elected that we should have a similar type of system in this Province. A similar tax regime. Now we see what the hon. minister plainly points out to all of us - he doesn't understand what's occurring in his own Province. You see, they do have a graduated tax regime in their province because they recognise the border situations, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: That's exactly how it works. Now you see the hon. Member for Placentia, he understands the system. He's a world traveller, he knows how it works. Besides that, he's a Montreal Canadiens fan so he's not all bad.

MS. VERGE: He doesn't understand the MOGs but...

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, now that I've straightened out the hon. Minister responsible for Mines and Energy, and I hope that he will verify what I'm saying, that it is a graduated tax system in border situations, because of the Quebec government, which I've always said is the most creative government in this country with regard to taxation.

AN HON. MEMBER: They have the highest taxes in Canada.

MR. A. SNOW: No!

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes!

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: The highest taxes (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, this government has the dubious distinction of being the highest in the country. Mr. Chairman, read my lips.

They recognise border situations because of the tax - they do have a high tax in Quebec, very high taxation in Quebec. But they're still creative in their financing. One of the methods is the graduation tax on gasoline and fuel for road taxes. That's creative. They were the first place in this country to do it. They were the first place in this country to have lotteries, believe it or not, was in Quebec.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: No, they weren't the first ones to have toll bridges. No, Mr. Chairman, I don't think they were, anyway. I shouldn't -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I'm not elected to come to this House and defend the taxation regime in Quebec. I'm not only elected to come and point out to ministers responsible that they're mistaken when they come up with some information with regard to taxation policies in this Province and other provinces. I am elected to come here and suggest to this government that there are methods of being a little more creative. Use that system that they have in Quebec. So that what you're doing is again creating the level playing field. So that these trucks will come up from Quebec they will load up their fuel in Labrador and pay their taxes here. They might even stay the extra night and check into a hotel room, buy some meals, that is what will happen or maybe even better than that, Mr. Chairman, you might see trucking companies move to western Labrador and establish a new business because of the fairer tax regime that we are going to put into place, in this Province, Mr. Chairman.

That would be an ideal situation, that they would come to our Province and establish, not load up with super big tanks on their trucks, pay all their revenue in one province, drive through, tear up our roads and go back out again. That is not what we want, we would like for them to move up and establish in western Labrador, not just to purchase their fuel either, Mr. Chairman, or buy a meal but if they do that, that is good too. But, Mr. Chairman, we have to address this problem of lowering the tax in border areas. I have attempted to do it in gasoline, when the previous Minister of Finance was completely oblivious, completely oblivious to the reality of the real world, which does not surprise anybody after a couple -that was two years ago, now everybody agrees with me, that he is oblivious to the real world. He does not understand what is happening out there Mr. Chairman, he just does not understand. He left being the mad professor at the university and now, Mr. Chairman, he is gone to the Cabinet room - he is a nice fellow, he just does not know what is going on, Mr. Chairman, that is all. He just does not know what the real world is about. He left being a professor and now he is in the Cabinet room and he figures everybody out there makes $150,000 bucks a year, including pensions and then they - everybody got a $3,000 chair, everybody gets carpet up to your ankles, he figures all of that happens to everybody but it is not true, Mr. Chairman, it is not true. Now, Mr. Chairman, it is only in the Cabinet room that that occurs. Mr. Chairman, I want the Minister of Finance in all seriousness to really sincerely look at instituting a graduated tax in this Province at border situations. I think by doing that in this Province we can create a better economy, not just in my area of the Province, Mr. Chairman, I speak in defence of the Member for Eagle River, that they should have a very similar type of thing down there. They should, Mr. Chairman, and I sincerely believe that if we continue to do that, if we could do that, if you could do that, Mr. Chairman, if this government would lower the tax as a specific example of lowering this tax of fourteen cents, put in a graduated tax of lowering this diesel fuel, you will attract more business to western Labrador, create -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. members time is up.

MR. A. SNOW: By leave? May I clew up?

MS. VERGE: By leave. He is on a roll, don't be mean.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, one of my better days in the House, I am getting so slim and losing so much weight that the Chair did not see me. This is just a few comments about this particular Bill, on this God help us all day, I agree and totally concur with the Member for Grand Bank that there are some problems with gasoline in different grades. Now I know the Member for Fogo and the Member for Torngat Mountains and what have you, will remember when we used to dye, we used to dye fisherman's gas because it came at a very, very much lower price. A lot of people did not only put it in their boats of course, they put it in their pickup's and what have you. I would suggest that maybe that is a way to control it because there are without question, there are rip-offs taking place by the big multinational oil companies -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Perhaps the hon. member wants to get up and talk about that. But speaking of taxes, just to pick up on what the Member for Menihek was talking about, he is partially correct and quite a bit of what he had to say is totally wrong but I will tell you what is wrong. The Member for Torngat is here he should be out getting a coffee like I told him last week. I think when we are talking about taxes we have to pay attention today to something that has probably escaped most members and most of the public. If you look at the paper you will see that the Prime Minister of the nation has referred to the new President of the United States - speaking of taxes, Mr. Chairman - saying that Mr. Clinton has gotten smart. Mr. Clinton is now going to structure the tax base in the United States on the Mulroney program.

It is incredible that - we knew what Reagan economics was, we knew what Bush - Mr. Mulroney sided with those two people and spoke very highly of the Republican Party, which is basically the same as our Conservative friends opposite. Now, he is taking credit today that Mr. Clinton has seen the light and he is structuring the United States tax base on the Conservatives in Ottawa. That is what this whole bill is about, the tax structure in relationship to Ottawa.

The Member for Menihek gets up and waves his arms about this great Province that neighbours his community in Quebec. Quebec - we just saw Bill 91 go through, Mr. Chairman - not a peep out of Quebec. Because all the laboratories associated with the drug programs are where? They're in Quebec. So Quebec has lobbied itself, lobbied Bill 91. We will find out when the hon. member has to stand in his place some day, if he is still around, and talk about the devastation on the seniors and the poor and the government in relationship to Bill 91. Maybe he will get up with the enthusiasm he got up with today, talking about two cents a litre. What he should realise is that the gasoline last April and May was four cents more a litre than it is right now. That is what he should realize.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Oh yes. It was down to 56.9 cents and it is now up to 58.9 cents, I remind the hon. member. This time last year, it was 61.9 cents. It was 56.9 - it is now 58.9.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) still inside the overpass.

MR. MURPHY: In St. John's - yes, but you can go to Alberta and it has to be cheaper, because the source is next-door. I know, I understand where he is talking about. There are some new incentives that the Minister of Finance brought down last week with his financial statement. The hon. Member for Menihek talks about new companies established, trucking companies and what have you. There are good things in the paper that the minister delivered last week. Maybe he can take some advantage of that.

Maybe he would spend some time looking at what the minister had to say and tell the people of Labrador West how they can take advantage. Maybe that is what he should do, not stand up and criticise everything and anything on this day of all days when Mr. Mulroney said: It is marvellous to see the United States taking a financial approach out of the page of the Mulroney book, from Mr. Wilson, who wasn't happy to wait for the Americans to have a recession, he started one on his own.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: The hon. the Member for St. John's East - I know we don't always see eye to eye. Most of the time we do.

MR. WARREN: You didn't give him leave, sure.

MR. MURPHY: I beg your pardon?

MR. WARREN: You didn't give him leave!

MR. MURPHY: We certainly will give the member leave. We will give the member leave, the same leave as to any one of the members here. There is no problem with giving the member leave. Once in every fifty-two opportunities, he can stand.

MR. WARREN: Why would you give him one in fifty-two?

MR. MURPHY: Because that is the member's status in this House, I tell the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Certainly is.

MR. WARREN: It is not fair.

MR. MURPHY: Well then, you had better read the rules, I suggest to the Member for Torngat Mountains.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Read them. He only has a couple more months to read them anyway. Don't read them. There is no need for the Member for Torngat Mountains to read anything. He is the critic at large, the walking critic.

So I say, Mr. Chairman, I do support what the hon. the Member for Grand Bank had to say, that we should, from a consumer point of view, pay strict attention to what is happening at the pumps. I totally disagree with what the Member for Menihek had to say. In actual sense, he is in here, he picks on every minister, he raves at the Minister of Health, who did a marvellous job for three years in Finance, an incredible job with what he had to work with. He will go down in the history of this Province as the man who made 200 beans out of 100 beans. I mean, it is incredible what he has done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) row of beans.

MR. MURPHY: No, I am not going to sit down yet (inaudible), sit down and relax. I say to the hon. member, time will record that in a very - not in a time when it was, 'run off and sell the bonds', and 'give her liver' - the days of prosperity and all that kind of stuff, it is the tough times that the crane comes to the top. It is not the good days, the glory days when everything is going well. The hon. member knows what it was like in Labrador West when he opened his business first; they were lined up like they are in George Street, trying to get in. Well, now he is only full, there is nobody lining up, so that is a disappointment. I can understand his quandary, but let me say in all honesty, again, that this is a necessity; the hon. member knows it is a necessity, it does nothing to deter anything.

I went in to the mall the other night and couldn't find a place to park, and somebody said to me, 'Well, there is nobody spending anything, nobody spending a dime, they are all in -' well, how in heaven's name did they get there? They bought the gasoline at the pumps to get there, so at least they are spending. So the hon. member's doom, and the hon. Opposition's doom has not impacted on the people of this Province, it has not impacted on them one iota, although they get up and scream.

The people understand the need; they understand what the Minister of Finance had to do. He didn't want to do it, he would have liked to take two cents off, but people understand exactly what is going on and the hon. member, I know, is frustrated over what happened last weekend, when CBC brought out that information. If I were over there, I would be upset too. I would probably throw stuff around, I would be so upset.

MR. WARREN: What information is that?

MR. MURPHY: I don't know, something to do with polls or something. Perhaps it is hydro or Newfoundland Light and Power or something.

MR. WARREN: No, I don't think so.

MR. MURPHY: It is another kind of poll, the Member for Eagle River tells me.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Eighty feet - no, 80 per cent. Oh, I see. Well, no wonder hon. members opposite are upset.

AN HON. MEMBER: Eighty-one.

MR. MURPHY: Eighty-one, the Minister of Finance reminds me. He was out this morning - now, here is the reality of what is going on in the world. Two weeks ago, the Minister of Finance couldn't get invited anywhere, the Opposition was saying, he was 'Wicked Winst', they called him, 'Wicked Winst'. And what do we see two weeks later? - "Have breakfast with 'Winst'." Fifteen dollars to get in for a few toutons and he blocked her.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Now, he is 'Wonderful Winst'.

MR. MURPHY: He blocked her, he filled her right to the rafters, told them the truth and what happened? He got in - 'Wonderful Winst', now. He went from 'Wicked Winst' to 'Wonderful Winst'. So, obviously, Mr. Chairman, just these few words, that I do agree with the Member for Grand Bank, totally disagree with the Member for Menihek and I will wait to see what the Member for Kilbride has to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: And you might have to get up again.

MR. MATTHEWS: I might have to get up again if he is going to get on with any of that fertilizer.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: You will be up again, Sir. You will be up again.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to start this debate on Bill 60, with a few quick words. First of all, I want to congratulate the Minister of Finance. I didn't have a change to speak on the mini-Budget, there wasn't enough time to give that a proper debate. But I do want to congratulate the Minister of Finance for a good job. He did a good job. His boss came to him - King Clyde came to the Minister of Finance and said: Mr. Minister, will you please get me out of a jam. I have four or five months left, six at the outside. I have six before I can squeeze in an election. Can you possibly get me out of a jam? So the minister said: Well, Mr. Premier, I will do my utmost, I will do my best to get you out of a jam if I can, because you are the boss and we all know the Minister of Finance is a loyal minister and he works hard; he probably works harder than anyone else in this House of Assembly, and I say that seriously, too.

Well, Mr. Chairman, he said to the Premier: Yes, I will try to get you out of a jam. So then the whisper campaign went out about the rollbacks. He and the King, himself, called the unions in, and told the unions that they were going to get a rollback, nothing else we can do about it until every public servant in this Province was so upset with the group, the Premier and the Minister of Finance, that there was almost blood in the streets - that is what happened, but, all a part of the plan, with the Minister of Finance still doing a good job. I think it was a good tactic: Call them in; tell them the worst; tell them more than the worst. Because then when we settle for the mean of that we could be all right.

So he got all the unions leaders in and told them, `There is going to be a rollback,' and they went out as fast as they could and told everyone else there was going to be a rollback and everyone got upset and up in arms, until they started getting to the backbenchers. Some of the teachers got to the Member for St. John's South, they got to the Member for Eagle River, and they got to the Member for Waterford - Kenmount at a meeting that I attended. They did go to the Minister of Finance. He attended a meeting of teachers at one time, and a tough meeting. It was a hard position to be in, I must say.

AN HON. MEMBER: Port de Grave.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Member for Port de Grave. They got to all of them, and us - both sides of the House of Assembly, they got to us. It was part of the plan of the Premier and the Minister of Finance.

So when they came out with a wage freeze, which is what it is generally, because you are not going to get any more once you start bargaining, but you are going to get less - I will even cover this up when I say it, that I congratulate the Premier for being honest. Because today he was on television saying, `We are going to start negotiations, but don't come looking for anything.' He told them flat-out that they were going to get a rollback. People today are so relieved that they didn't get a rollback, that I never thought I would see it in this Province. I never thought I would see the President of the Teachers' Union on television saying, `Thank you very much, Clyde Wells, for freezing my wages.' That is what he said, `I am so happy!' I almost got sick watching television that night. I couldn't believe it, never heard that before.

I could almost see the Minister of Employment and Labour when he was out on the steps with the tissue in his hands. What would it have been like for him to come out on television that day and say, `Thank you very much, Mr. Premier, for zero and zero,' or teachers cutbacks or whatever we were doing at the time? It was unbelievable, Mr. Chairman!

Anyway, I just wanted to congratulate the Minister of Finance. He did a good job. He frightened everyone to death. He came in with a tough budget with touch restrictions, including what we are doing here now, and everyone went around thanking the Premier for doing such a good job, because he didn't roll their wages back. So that was good, but it won't work for long. You can only get away with that so often. We have experience at it. So you can only get away with that so often.

Mr. Chairman, I was interested in what the member for St. John's South got up to talk on. His constituents are going to get nailed to the wall with this gasoline tax. So I expect him to get up in this House of Assembly and support the people in his district and say how hard it is going to be on them to get this gasoline tax increase, when it seemed a couple of weeks ago that they might be getting a break. Once in the last four years someone was going to get a break. The price of gasoline was going down. People were going to finally get a small break of a couple of cents a litre. So I expect the member for St. John's South, who is a good district person and who usually gets up here championing the cause of his constituents - he hopped to his feet and what did he talk about? Bill Clinton and Brian Mulroney. Mr. Chairman, whatever they have to do with this increase in gasoline tax, from 15.6 to 17.6, I don't understand. He went from Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Mulroney to talk about Quebec. Well, Mr. Chairman, that has nothing to do with St. John's South. The people in St. John's South do not want this tax increase. The member knows that. They would like to get a break on their gasoline tax, the same as anyone else.

Mr. Chairman, the ministers here who make up these, they don't care. It doesn't matter to them. They can increase gasoline tax as much as they like because they all have a credit card. They will all use their credit cards. Now, you can put twenty cents on it and it won't hurt them. These are the people who are making the decisions to increase gasoline taxes.

I was hoping the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation would be here today, Mr. Chairman. I guess he is not far away. He answered some questions I asked on Thursday or Friday, I believe it was. I asked him questions on reclassification of some people in the department. Mr. Chairman, for some reason he didn't hear it on the Open Line Show Thursday. This was no great secret, if he thought it was. So when I asked the questions Thursday or Friday, whenever I did, I can't remember now, Friday morning I guess it was - the first thing he does, and this is a common trait of ministers on that side of the House, is call in all the staff in his payroll department and rake them over the coals, Mr. Chairman. He called every one of his payroll staff into the office and had his deputy minister rake all of them over the coals.

MR. MATTHEWS: Who?

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, just because I asked an innocent question about some people being reclassified in his department.

MR. MATTHEWS: He didn't do that.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Right off the bat he hauled in everyone in the payroll division and raked them over the coals for leaking information. And it was on the Open Line Show the day before. There was no leaking of information. There was no (inaudible) his staff, if you don't have confidence in the staff you have, Mr. Chairman, in the departments, get rid of them.

That wasn't the only time, Mr. Chairman. I know that the Minister of Municipal Affairs, only a month or so ago, hauled in all his staff in one division and had his deputy minister rake them over the coals, too, for information that came from an outside source again. These are the Gestapo tactics that are going on over there. These are the Gestapo tactics that these ministers are putting on their staff people.

MS. VERGE: Just like in the 1960s under the Smallwood Government.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, it is a replay of the 1960s - if you don't agree, you don't get your liquor licence. Remember those days? Come on side and I will get you a liquor licence. If you don't come on side you don't get a liquor licence. It is plain and simple. They were simpler days. Intimidation in those times worked, for a time. They worked for a time, Mr. Chairman, but they won't work now, because our times have changed. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation might think that he can intimidate the people who are working for him but he cannot intimidate them. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs might think he can intimidate the people working for him but he cannot intimidate them.

They have a union now that will stand up for them and speak for them, no matter what Gestapo tactics you intend to use or are trying to use. The people in their department will not take fear tactics, will not take the intimidation, and will not take these -

MR. DOYLE: They have nothing to lose but their chains.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, when I hired the Member for St. John's South -

MS. VERGE: What?

MR. R. AYLWARD: - I personally put in a word for him. The same as his brother has asked me to do for him on a job since he was on that side and I was on this side, Mr. Chairman. His brother came to me looking for a job and I said: 'Yes, sure, I helped your brother one time and I will gladly help you. They aren't the only relatives on that side who came to me looking for assistance. Because you won't listen to them. You won't listen to your own families over there, to try to help them when they are in trouble.

That shows the intent or the thinking that is over there of what - you just use intimidation so far. Intimidation will not work forever. It would be much better to treat your employees with the dignity that they deserve, because you have a good professional public service in this Province, all of them - the management systems.

I think the minister figured I was asking these questions because I begrudged sixty-four or sixty-eight people a reclassification. That had nothing to do with it. That wasn't why I asked the question. The reason I asked the question was that I wondered: Can the rank and file in the department expect the same treatment? Do they get the same reclassifications? Now, I don't think they get as much. They do, in the question, there have been 175 reclassifications in the bargaining unit, which is pretty good, probably about 8 per cent or 9 per cent, yet 33 per cent of your management have been reclassified.

Thirty-three percent of the management have been reclassified when about 8 per cent or 10 per cent - if that - in the bargaining unit were reclassified. Now, Mr. Chairman -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MS. VERGE: By leave!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, these are only numbers that you gave me so I can only go by them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. R. AYLWARD: My time is up? Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would just like to deal with a couple of points raised by members opposite. I would like to agree with some of the comments made. If in fact retailers are putting up prices by four cents per gallon - and it is an opportune time to do so, I suppose, from one point of view, then they should not do that.

I would like to remind members opposite that there are fluctuations in the marketplace anyway. In some instances there are price wars, which happened, I believe, along the Trans-Canada Highway recently in some places, and in Corner Brook, and I believe in Gander. It got as far as Gander, too, as well, I believe. So there is some down and up, and in those places there is a price war for awhile and then they go up. So I do not know if the instance mentioned by the Member for Fogo was the result of that kind of a fluctuation or if, in fact, it was gouging - price gouging. I would like to find out, in fact, what it is.

I was surprised to hear about the fraud that was mentioned in terms of the premium gasolines and the regular gasolines being sold at premium prices. I believe that is something that should be looked into. There is no doubt about that.

I am also looking forward to the upcoming Budget which should be some time around the first or middle of March, and at that point in time to have a look at our revenues and see how the projections worked out.

I share some of the fears of members opposite. I do not know if we have reached the point of diminishing returns on some of the taxes and so on, so I look forward to, at the end of the year, having a look at what these measures, in fact, are producing. I cannot guarantee that it will be the ten point something million or eleven million that we estimated, but I feel confident, at this point in time, it will be close to it. Anyway, time will tell. I am sure members opposite will remind me, in no uncertain terms, if there are any great fluctuations.

One hon. member mentioned about the profit margins, the fact that the tax increases, because the profit margins are done as a percent of total sales, that because taxes increase therefore profit margins increase and we are, in essence, increasing profits to some of the people. Is that the gist of the hon. member's comment about profit margins?

MR. A. SNOW: If the tax go up, they still want 6 per cent profit, or whatever the profit they are working on. That is why it may go up sometimes, because of the tax. The profit margin is measured in percentage, rather then in cents per litre.

MR. BAKER: Therefore the profit margin would go up as the tax went up.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes. Sure.

MR. BAKER: I would be surprised if the profit margin is calculated on gasoline in that manner. I would have thought that tax, as retail sales tax, the gasoline tax is the collection of money that belongs to government. I would have thought that the profit margins would be done on the cost of the product before the taxes were put on; but if it is done the other way, then maybe it should not be done the other way is the point.

The comment with regard to Quebec taxes, I believe the member was referring to an article in The Evening Telegram recently, I believe Friday's Telegram, which was purported to be a survey of the taxation regimes across the Country.

The Evening Telegram did not give us a call to find out what the taxes were all across the Country. We could have easily told them and given them charts and so on. I do not know how they did their survey. They certainly did not get it right is the point. They put something on the front page that was not correct.

For instance, in terms of personal income tax we are not the highest in the Country, Quebec is, because they have a totally different arrangement with the federal government and they are, in fact, higher than we are.

Many of the provinces mentioned, or many of the other provinces, have surtaxes that were not even mentioned in this particular analysis. Many of them have special taxes in terms of income that were not even mentioned in that chart and that would make that chart not valid.

There were quite a few things that in actual fact made that article incorrect - the article on the front page of the Telegram. One thing they failed to point out is that in terms of overall municipal taxation, we are only at about 40 per cent of the national average. So they forgot to point that out, and that is also a very important source of taxation in the Country.

The comments with regard to the taxes, if they were based on the article in the Telegram, were not valid comments at all. The final comment that I would like to make has nothing to do with this particular Bill but there was a comment made by the Member for Kilbride about the reclassification in Works, Services and Transportation. There were reclassifications necessitated by changing duties amongst the work force in Works, Services. There was a reduction over the last couple of years of maybe 2-3 per cent in the work force which necessitated some shuffling of duties and resulted in some reclassifications.

Amongst the management in the civil service, in the public service of the Province, in the last two or three years, there has been a reduction of well in excess of 10 per cent which required a much greater shuffling in terms of management responsibilities which resulted in a higher percentage of reclassifications. So, the explanation of the reclassifications is that it is done according to formula, according to the changing responsibilities. Because we removed so many management positions over the last two or three years it required much more shuffling and therefore resulted in a higher percentage of reclassification, so I thought I would simply like to point that out. Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say at this particular time.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Menihek, on a point of order.

MR. A. SNOW: The hon. Minister of Finance made reference to comments that I made referring to an article in the Evening Telegram, which was the basis of my remarks with regard to taxation in Quebec. No, this was not the basis - the article in the Evening Telegram was not the basis of my remarks. My remarks were based on representations that have been made to me by truckers operating in western Labrador and driving through western Labrador from the province of Quebec where they have had to make major changes to their vehicles, putting in oversized tanks because fourteen cents per litre in a difference, in a price of a litre of diesel fuel for a trucker is a considerable amount of money. I can see this as an industry that should be, could be and should be located in the Labrador portion of this Province and it could be beneficial to the Province in the long run because I can see trucking being a major industry being started in our area of the Province. I think that it could be helpful and I would hope that the minister would be able to have a look at it and come back with a recommendation to the House.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order. We are in committee, so the hon. member could have rose and I would have identified him anyway.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just to respond very briefly, I recognize the legitimacy of the point the member is making but he also in his speech made the comment that we have the highest personal income taxes in the Country so I thought he was using that article to make that comment and that is what I was responding to in my speech.

Resolution

"That it is expedient to bring in a measure to amend the Gasoline Tax Act."

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee on the Whole on Supply has considered the matters to be referred and has directed me to report that it has adopted a certain resolution, recommends that a Bill be introduced to give affect to same.

On Motion report received and adopted. Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

On motion resolution read a first and second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act (Bill No.59)," read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act (Bill No.60)," read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Gander is showing us how it is done so let us carry on. Perhaps we could take in order Orders 28 and then 27 and 26. Order 28 is the adjourned debate on Bill No. 45. I believe my friend for Mount Pearl had the floor when this matter was last called so I assume he will pick it up and carry on. If not my friend the minister is here to carry through with the Bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The adjourned debate, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, when the Member for Mount Pearl raised this, during the debate earlier this session, he referred to "The Horse Racing Regulation and Tax Act." I guess that refers pretty well to the only horse racing operation that is in Newfoundland that I know of that is pari-mutuel in the district of Ferryland, close to my district. This Bill would amend that act by providing for the cancellation or suspension of a licence for the contravention of another act. Now, Mr. Speaker I do not understand the wording of that section. Does that mean, as brought up by the Member for Mount Pearl, does that mean if someone involved with the Horse Racing Regulation Act, whoever it would be, the person responsible for looking after that act in the racetrack, if they got a speeding ticket, if they got stopped for drunk driving, or if they broke some other act, whatever act it might be, they would lose some standing with the Horse Racing Regulations and Tax Act. That is the only question I have on it, Mr. Speaker. The minister might be able to explain that when he stands up. I am just concerned about the wording in the explanatory notes. What does it mean if somebody breaks another act? Should that not be a specific act he has to break or does it mean any highway traffic act? If some person happens to break the Highway Traffic Act does that mean they lose their licence under the Horse Racing Regulations Act? That is the only comment I have, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker -

MR. R. AYLWARD: You were put in your place today for that one.

MR. HARRIS: - on this legislation and basically I have the same question as the Member for Kilbride raised and what this is doing is, providing very considerable powers to cancel licences. Now, Mr. Speaker, it may be that it is necessary to give such powers, but it strikes me that such powers are open to abuse. The Liquor Control Act, for example is being proposed to be amended to allow for the cancellation by the board, and I presume that is the Liquor Control Board, to cancel or suspend a licence when a contravention of the Lotteries Licence Act exists.

Now, I can see perhaps some justification for that if a person is operating a bar and is involved in using that bar to take advantage of people's penchant for gambling and is violating the legislation of the Lotteries Act, it is abusing its liquor licence. I can see that a person abusing their liquor licence in such a way, could be subject to having their licence suspended because it has some connection; there is some connection between operating a liquor establishment, supporting illegal gambling I suspect is what we are talking about; supporting illegal gambling under the lotteries act along with operating a liquor establishment and a liquor licence.

I do not see, Mr. Speaker, the connection between the Gasoline Tax Act and the Lotteries Act and I do not see the connection with the Horse Racing Regulation and Tax Act when a person who is the holder of a licence of some sort under the Horse Racing Regulation and Tax Act, providing for the suspension or cancellation of a licence where the holder contravenes another act. It is a very, very broad section. The government does not seem to want to get it for the Liquor Control Act, the Retail Sales Tax Act or for the Gasoline Tax Act, but for the Horse Racing Regulation and Tax Act, the whole of the licence contravenes any other act and I presume that has to mean provincial act, although I suppose it could be any act of the Parliament of Canada or any act of the Newfoundland Legislature.

The Member for Kilbride mentions the Highway Traffic Act, I suppose the if you got a speeding ticket there could be the cancellation of a licence under the Horse Racing Regulation and Tax Act. I do not think that the minister wants to do that, and in fact I am not even sure who is going to have the power to cancel here. We know in the Gasoline Tax Act, the Minister of Finance presumably is given the right himself or herself to personally cancel or suspend a retail licence under the Gasoline Tax Act.

Now, I do not know why the minister feels that he needs that; why does the minister have to have that personal power to cancel a retail licence for the sale of gasoline, the minister, him or herself can do that after a person, presumably, if somebody is operating in contravention of the act, does that mean, Mr. Speaker, they have to be convicted or can the minister decide? Can the minister decide that the person is violating the act and then cancel the licence, or does it have to go to court? Does there have to be a charge laid and a conviction or can the minister say: Oh, I understand that you are contravening the act, so therefore we are cancelling your gasoline retailing licence.

That seems to me, Mr. Speaker, to be a very strong power to give to a minister of the Crown, and one that could be abused. I am not saying it would be abused by this minister, but it is a giving or granting of arbitrary power, Mr. Speaker, in a manner that we don't usually permit to give people such power.

If you think, Mr. Speaker, that that kind of power is never abused by a government, we don't have to look too far back. There are famous cases in the Province of Quebec known as the Padlock Laws, Mr. Speaker, when one of the ministers and perhaps the Premier in Quebec, Premier Duplessis, was famous for locking up and putting padlocks on bars when he decided that the individuals who are running those bars were not his political friends. So these famous laws, Mr. Speaker, were passed in Quebec. Someone suggested that Joey used to do that. I have heard rumours about that sort of thing.

MR. DOYLE: He did it out in Harbour Main.

MR. HARRIS: I am told by the member for Harbour Main that he did it out there. So it is a kind of arbitrary power, Mr. Speaker, that I don't think we should be all that anxious to grant to ministers. Because, although this minister may be a fine gentleman and may have the highest of political motives, there may be other ministers whose ethics aren't as strong. We have had examples of ministers having to be removed already in this government for that very reason, Mr. Speaker.

I don't wish to say anything negative about the Minister of Finance who is responsible, no doubt, for the operation of The Gasoline Tax Act. But I do say, Mr. Speaker, that it is not the kind of arbitrary power that we ought to be giving to ministers of the Crown because they may choose to exercise that power in one case and ignore it in another, for political reasons. This Minister of Finance or another Minister of Finance may choose to exercise his power to cancel the licence of a gasoline retailer in Harbour Main, but may choose to let the gasoline retailer in Port de Grave go, in the same situation. That is the kind of arbitrary power that we don't like to see exercised in this Province, and we ought not to be making laws that allow that.

So we have, Mr. Speaker, a Liquor Licensing Board in Clause 3 of the act, and the Liquor Licensing Board are the ones that are given this extraordinary power to cancel or suspend a licence because of a violation of an important act, Mr. Speaker, The Lotteries Act. If someone is operating electronic devices in contravention of The Lotteries Act, essentially illegal gambling, Mr. Speaker, if a person holding a liquor licence is violating that, then the Liquor Licensing Board, which is a quasi-judicial body required to give people the opportunity to be heard before they have their licences cancelled, are required to follow the rules of natural justice. They have to hear both sides of the case, they are not allowed to be biased. They can cancel a liquor licence, and I see that power, Mr. Speaker, as having something to do with the operation and the rights given to an individual to sell liquor.

It is common knowledge, Mr. Speaker, that the selling of liquor and the operation of an establishment where liquor is drank is a situation that needs to be controlled by the laws and by the government of this Province. If somebody is abusing that privilege of selling liquor for consumption on premises by further taking advantage of the propensity to gamble, I can see why the Liquor Licensing Board, after a proper consideration of the issue, after giving the person a reasonable opportunity to be heard and not taking arbitrary actions, can cancel such a licence. But I don't see, Mr. Speaker, any protection there in sub-section 1. I don't see any protection in sub-section 1 for an individual where the minister has a right to decide to cancel or suspend a retail licence to sell gasoline. That is a very strong power to be given.

Clause 2 goes even further and gives we do not know who here, and I have not had a chance to look up the act to see who is being given this power, but the legislation is being amended to provide for the cancellation or suspension of a licence where the holder of the licence contravenes another act - any other act. So if you have a horse racing licence, and if you are licensed to run horse races, you had better be careful because your licence can be removed if you violate any other act, presumably in any manner whatsoever, whether it is a speeding ticket under the Highway Traffic Act or throwing garbage or littering on the highway under the Highway Traffic Act or the Waste Materials Disposal Act. You could lose your horse racing licence for littering, by contravening that act, and I do not think that is the intention.

Once again, the laws must be such as to protect people from the arbitrary actions of governments or boards or bodies that are being given extreme powers and control over individuals' livelihoods and way of life.

So I think this act ought not to be passed as is. I see a justification for Clause 3.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. HARRIS: I say to the Member for Port de Grave that if you are operating a bar and you violate the Lotteries Act, you have illegal gambling going on at the bar, I can see why the liquor board should have the power to suspend or cancel your licence. That makes sense; but I say to him: Why should the Minister of Finance be given the arbitrary power to cancel a gasoline seller's licence for a violation of the Lotteries Act? Why should there be that kind of arbitrary power to the minister?

MR. HOGAN: You are asking this government to make the same arbitrary decision in regard to the waste energy (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs says that I am asking the government to make the same arbitrary decision with respect to waste at Long Harbour. Well he is right. The minister is right. I am asking the government to make a decision about waste energy and importation of American garbage at Long Harbour. I am asking them to take a stand and to say, along with the people of Newfoundland, that we are opposed to it; that we are against it; that we will not allow it; that we have looked at the legislation, and we have looked at the definition of environment in the act, which says the social, economic, recreational, cultural, and aesthetic conditions and factors that influence the life of humans of a community, and we have decided - and we might as well tell you right now - that the importation of American garbage to Long Harbour or to Schefferville is contrary to our notion of the protection of the cultural, economic and aesthetic environment. We are going to tell you right now, and we are going to tell all comers that is the policy of this government.

Now if it is not the policy of this government then that is fine; but if that is the policy of this government then let's say so, the same way that this party, when it was in opposition, and there was a proposal to store wastes - imported wastes - under the ground on Bell Island, this party in opposition said: Never mind an environmental review. We do not want one because we are satisfied now that it ought not to be permitted.

The same conditions ought to apply. Either you are in favour of importing American garbage or you are not. That does not seem to me to be arbitrary. That is a question of policy.

I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs: Have a look at Clause 1, which basically says that the minister may cancel or suspend a person's retail licence to sell gasoline - may. They do not have to. He can do it if he wants, and he can do it if he does not want. So, he can say to people, he can say and no one is going to know, very few people are going to know, Mr. Speaker, the minister may well be aware of contravention of the Act and he may pick and choose and say: well, we will suspend that persons licence for a week and he may say to the another person: well we will not. The person has no say in it, there are no hearings, there are no boards, there are no rights to appeal, there is no anything here. There is just the simple matter of the minister being given this arbitrary power to suspend or cancel or not because you can either do it or not.

MR. MURPHY: That is what the courts are for.

MR. HARRIS: That is what the courts are for exactly and I say to the Member for St. John's South, I hope he has a good look at the Bill and he gets up and tells the minister and tells his caucus and tells the House that he is not going to support something that gives the minister arbitrary power to cancel someone's licence if he feels like it. Perhaps it is something for the courts, maybe there should be an amendment to the Lotteries Act which says that the court when it convicts somebody of a contravention has the power to impose this as an additional penalty. There is no provision here for appeal, Mr. Speaker, there is just the right of the minister to cancel or suspend a person's retail licence to sell gasoline. As I said, Mr. Speaker, I can see the connection between the Liquor Control Act and the Lotteries Act and the need to provide a control and perhaps a deterrent to someone with the kind of power that the Liquor Control Act gives them over the sale, or the privilege rather it gives them to sell liquor for consumption, that to take advantage of the individuals who are consuming liquor on premises by making money from illegal gambling. I can see that person should have their Liquor Licence endangered. I see that the Liquor Licensing Board is a proper board to do that. I have some doubt about the Retail Sales Tax Act and again I do not know because it is not clear, well it is clear I guess in the explanatory notes, that the minister can cancel a persons retail sales licence.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the minister is being given a terrific power there under Clause 4, so that anybody who contravenes this legislation, whether it be a little corner store or a confectionary store in the Member for Port de Grave's district or whether it be someone with a retail sales licence in St. Anthony, Mr. Speaker, if they are in violation of this Act the minister has the right to cancel their retail sales licence. That is a very big power, a very big penalty and it is left to the minister's discretion. I think that that is wrong, I do not think the minister should have that kind of discretion. It is an awful lot of power to give to an individual based on discretion. There are no rules or guidelines as to when it will be imposed and when it will not be imposed.

There is no relationship, Mr. Speaker, to the amount of the seriousness of the wrong. The minister can say: well we are going to cancel you licence, going to cancel or suspend the registration certificate of a person contravening the Act, for how long?... One week, two weeks, a month, a half-a-year, forever, there are no guidelines, Mr. Speaker, the minister in this case is being given the power of judge and jury and executioner, all at once. Without any guidelines, without any controls, Mr. Speaker, and a very arbitrary power it is. He may decide to use it, Mr. Speaker, against someone he does not like and he may decide to forego using it against someone who is a supporter or a friend or someone for whom he has sympathy. So, Mr. Speaker, I think that all hon. members in this House ought to be particularly concerned and vigilant to ensure that people's rights are not being left open for violation, because it may well be, Mr. Speaker, that those sitting on the government side of the House today will be sitting on this side of the House tomorrow. They were sitting on this side of the House before the last election, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure the Member for Port de Grave would have gotten up and said the very same things that I am saying right now; the very same things I am saying right now, Mr. Speaker, he would have said: how can you give that power to a Minister of the Crown because it is open for abuse? He knows that the more power you give an individual and the more discretion that you give him over other people's lives, that the more likely it is and the more possible it is for that power to be abused. I know the Member for Humber West is over there and he would be saying exactly the same thing if he were on this side of the House. He would be saying: do not give a minister this kind of discretionary power to remove someone's retail sales tax licence, to remove their gasoline retailer's licence for a violation of the Act, there are no guidelines. Either he does it or he does not. He may do it, he may cancel it, he may suspend it for a time or forever presumably, and has no control over it.

The Liquor Control Board, I have no problem with that. I have no problem with clause (3), but one out of four, Mr. Speaker, is not a very good record for a piece of legislation that is designed to control one evil and that is the evil of illegal gambling and taking advantage of people's vulnerability and weakness. I see that as an evil and I see that the Legislature ought to do something about it but I have a lot of problems with giving a Minister of the Crown this kind of arbitrary power over the ability of someone else to conduct business, because the minister can decide to take a hard line and shut down every store in Newfoundland that breaks the Act or he can pick and choose. He can pick and choose and there is no real control over that.

The Liquor Licensing Board, there is controlled over that, there are three or four or however many people on the board; they have procedures that they have to follow, their reports are published, you have access to their decisions; the individuals are entitled to be represented and to have something to say before their licences are suspended or cancelled, but the minister, by a simple fiat, a simple act of the minister in his office or her office can cancel someone's licence and has the ultimate say, has the ultimate say. The legislation gives that arbitrary power to the minister and is a power that can be abused and I hope the Minister of Justice has reviewed this legislation.

I hope the Minister of Justice has reviewed this legislation carefully and not just watched it go through. There are important problems here to which the Minister of Justice should pay attention, and I know the Minister of Finance is a member who, as Government House Leader in the past, has had to pay attention to the kinds of things that come up in other legislation that are not of his making or under his department, and I know the Minister of Finance can be at times very sensitive to the kinds of concerns that I am raising here now, that arbitrary power is being given, that there needs to be some control over the power of government to shut down someone's business because that is what we are talking about, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister of Finance be allowed to shut down a retail store, cancel a licence permanently, refuse to issue a licence, so if somebody contravenes the Lotteries Act and then six months later decides they want to open up a candy store, the minister can say no, so what are we going to have, a black list?

Are we going to have a black list that exists, if the Minister of Finance has the ability to pick and choose from and deny licences to people if he wishes, is that what we are setting up, Mr. Speaker, an opportunity for the minister to pick and choose as to which businesses he is going to shut down who contravene or whose owners contravene the Lotteries Act, that is the kind of arbitrary powers that is being given and I am glad the Minister of Justice is paying attention to this, because he will note that three of the four sections of the act, give the Minister of Finance arbitrary power to shut down certain businesses if he wishes, suspend or cancel the licences or refuse to issue licences for people to carry on business in this Province and not have the kind of control

over these decisions such as the Liquor Licensing Board would have.

I ask all hon. members to consider this issue and ask themselves, not whether they want to support it because it is a government measure, but whether they would want to support it if they were in Opposition. Would they want to give that power to the other side? Would they want to give that power to a Minister of the Crown of another party? That is what we are talking about here, Mr. Speaker, giving power to a Minister of the Crown who today may be a Liberal minister, yesterday was a Tory minister and tomorrow may be an NDP minister.

So I ask all hon. members to think about this legislation in that manner and not about what power we are going to give 'Winst and Winst', not what power we are going to give the current Minister of Finance, but what power would you want a Tory Minister of Finance to have, what power would you want an NDP Minister of Finance to have? Would you want such a minister to have the power to shut down a business in your district because he feels like it and it happens to be on a list of people who violated the Lotteries Act? Is that the kind of arbitrary power you want to give a minister? The back benches of the government side quite often think of the world as if it is always going to be the same way, that they are always going to be in power, but that is not the case, Mr. Speaker. The fact that the PCs were in power for seventeen years doesn't guarantee that the Liberals are going to have seventeen years of power, or even seven.

So I ask them to be a little bit circumspect when they go around passing, or being asked to pass legislation giving power to their ministers because it may be ministers of another party that are carrying out these powers and acting on these powers. So be careful, be watchful. All hon. members have an obligation to be watchful of the power government is being given because it could be exercised against their constituents at any time, Mr. Speaker, if that power is arbitrary, if it is unjustified, if it gives power without control, and if it gives power and discretion without any restraint. I ask hon. members to vote against this bill because I think it has - except for clause 3, it is bad legislation.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to say a few words because I listened with interest to my - I am sorry - 'puffy' is at it again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROBERTS: Let Hansard note that it is his own colleagues who are laughing at him. It is the story of my life, Mr. Speaker, I get on my feet and I am in trouble. I haven't even opened my mouth.

MR. TOBIN: It all depends on (inaudible) drunk.

MR. ROBERTS: That is right. What did my hon. friend say? You couldn't tell the difference.

AN HON. MEMBER: I said no, you're too cheap to buy it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I suspect my hon. friend opposite has been talking to my hon. friends on this side. I cannot afford to buy it after the fearsome damage he did to that 40 ouncer at the Liberal caucus party last week.

Mr. Speaker, let me address some of the points raised by my learned friend from St. John's East, who, by the way, I can only assume is still in practice because I called his office this morning and they answered Williams Harris, which I found interesting.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are waiting for the new stationery there now.

MR. ROBERTS: They are waiting for the new stationery - that is like the NDP waiting for a new leader, it happens frequently.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest and I hope with a degree of understanding to my hon. friend's comments because, as the House knows, I have served my time in the trenches opposite and I share with him the view that we in this House ought to be careful in enacting legislation, to realize that we are governed by laws, not by men and women, and that simply because the men and women who now command the ministry are such splendid people, dedicated to the public interest, and always acting judiciously, properly, appropriately, and with fairness and balance, that in five, ten, twenty, or thirty years when the electoral tide turns and the hon. gentlemen opposite come in like flotsam and jetsam into office, things may be different.

We are a government of laws in this country and in this Province, not a government of people. There is a big difference, and we are making laws here now.

I would say to my friend that while I agree with him on the principle he has just espoused, with respect I must say that he is wrong when it comes to the application of that principle to the bill now before the House. I will make two brief points, or two points briefly, and it applies to three of the four sections - the three that the hon. gentleman raised.

The bill gives the minister - in this case, the Minister of Finance, the minister responsible for these four bits of legislation - a power to cancel or suspend licence not willy-nilly, not holus-bolus, not on a whim or a wisp, but instead gives him or her the power to cancel or suspend a retailer's licence upon the happening of a specific event, namely - and I am reading now section 1 which adds sub 2 to section 17 in the Gasoline Tax Act, in that case: 'where the holder of a retailer licence under the Gasoline Tax Act operates an electronic or mechanical amusement device in contravention of the Lotteries Act.'

So the minister would have, first of all, to determine that the holder of the licence had done that.

If we go through to number 2: 'where the holder of that licence contravenes another act' - again a specific event.

Number 3 refers to the board, so my learned friend separated that out, and rightly so. It is a different cancellation mechanism.

Section 4 says: 'of a person who operates an electronic or mechanical amusement device in contravention of the Lotteries Act' - again a specific event.

So I say, first of all, to my learned friend, and this is the first of my two points, that the power to cancel or suspend only becomes operative when a specific event has occurred.

I will go further then and make the second point, which is a matter of law. I shall give him my view, but I would say on this one, I have had occasion over the last few months to take counsel on this, and the advice I am given and my understanding I am about to state reflects my understanding of the law, both on the advice I have been given and on my own knowledge of the law, whatever I have gained from the grey hair and scars of what - twenty years, twenty-five years, twenty-seven years, in fact, at the Bar, some of them in practice, some of them in here helping to make laws and helping to administer them.

A minister may no longer act arbitrarily. There was a time years ago when a minister could act arbitrarily and I do not just say Minister of the Crown. I am using the term in the legal sense, which my learned friend will acknowledge - minister as opposed to quasi-judicial. The law used to draw that distinction between a minister - actually it is English Case Law - a minister on one hand and on the other hand, somebody acting quasi-judicially.

I say to my hon. friend that that distinction has disappeared. It is now incumbent upon any person acting in a way that could prejudice the rights or the interests of an individual, a person, a company, have what you want, the holder of a licence in this instance, to act judiciously, to act fairly.

What that means is that one must tell the person what is going to be done or what is proposed. One must hear the person, allow him, her or it the right to counsel, the right to be confronted by accusers, the right to make answer, the right to be heard.

Should the Minister of Finance - not the present minister, but in twenty or thirty years should we once again have a Tory Minister of Finance, it would be just our luck, 'Winston' - we put the Province back on the road and by that stage we will have worn out our welcome, say twenty years from now, the hon. gentlemen opposite are swept in on the in and out principle of flotsam and jetsam, come across the House, and they will take it over. But should a minister in that far gone day act arbitrarily, then the courts will intervene. Should my hon. friend from Gander be so, not only ill-advised - but should he do something which would not even cross his mind as he is fair, judicious, balanced, reasonable, appropriate, responsible and altogether a good fellow - as to act arbitrarily, the courts would be very quick to strike it down.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend from Burin that there are many on this side who say: Baker should be back, led by me. Anytime my friend from Gander wants to take up the toils again I would be the very first to welcome it. I mean, Will this cup not pass from my lips? I think is the way my hon. friend put it to me.

I say to my learned friend from St. John's East, well, I share his concern and I take back seat to nobody in this House with a due regard for the liberties of the subject, for the proper and appropriate administration of the power entrusted by society to government, that this bill does not raise that concern. I say that without any hesitation. I say it here in the House quite clearly that: a) there are specific trigger events, and b) that there is a duty cast upon any Minister of the Crown in dealing with matters of this nature to act judiciously and judicially.

On that basis, I can assure him that the bill, in my view, is soundly based. I shall have no hesitation in voting for it, Sir, and I ask my colleagues to do the same.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Very briefly - I am pleased that the Minister of Justice listened to the Member for St. John's East and got the gist of his comments. I should point out that I listened to the first couple of minutes of his comments, and when he got on with the foolishness about the padlock law I simply turned off my hearing aid, because I figured that what came after had no meaning. So I am glad that the Minister of Justice at least listened.

Mr. Speaker, very simply, this is a piece of legislation that will prevent the proliferation of the gray gambling machines in this Province. These machines have virtually taken over other provinces in the country, taken over the corner stores, the gas stations and everything else. We have decided to control the distribution of these gambling machines, to control them to age-limited establishments, to the bars and so on, and to not allow them outside where everybody has easy access to them.

So this piece of legislation gives us the hammer, if you want, to enforce the fact that these gray machines should not be proliferating all throughout our corner stores, gas stations, and every other type of establishment in the Province. It allows us to control their distribution. Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, The Horse Racing Regulation And Tax Act, The Liquor Control Act And The Retail Sales Tax Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 45).

MR. ROBERTS: Order 27, Mr. Speaker, Bill 43.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 27, Bill 43.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991". (Bill No. 43).

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The purpose of this piece of legislation is to have the public service pension plan conform with the new pension requirements that were passed by the Government of Canada under the Income Tax Act.

Paragraph 1 reinforces the definition of contractual officers being a full-time person as defined by the act. All part-time employees, including part-time contractual officers, are eligible for the government money purchase plan and cannot join the public service pension plan. So the money purchase pension plan is available to the part-time people.

Clauses 2 to 5 - and their purposes vary - would provide for the payment of pensions to qualified retired public employees in excess of amounts allowed under the Income Tax Act of Canada. As it happens, there are limits to the - when the Federal Government changed its regulations it put limits on the maximum pension that was payable and allowable for deductions under the Income Tax Act. At that time, they allowed for certain variations, whereby any benefits in excess of what they had set out in the Income Tax Act and were already sort of the types of benefits that were contained in plans in the country could be funded through an off-side plan and that these plans would not be subject to the strict limits of application.

A number of our plans in this Province have conditions outside the strict condition of the ideal pension plan as outlined by the Income Tax Act. For instance, some of our plans allowed for accumulation of more than 2 per cent equity per year. For instance, the police plan and uniform services pension plan, the teachers pension plan, all allowed for payments to be made and credit to be given in excess of the 2 per cent per year that was envisioned by the ideal plan that the Federal Government outlined.

Also, the pension plans allowed for pensions in excess of the cap set by the Income Tax Act for higher paid employees who were paying larger contributions and so could accumulate up to the 66 per cent or 70 per cent in the thirty-five years even if they only had the accrual rate of 2 per cent. That 70 per cent of their last three years would amount to higher than the cap set by the pension plan, or the ideal pension plan; therefore, there had to be sort of off-side plans set up to allow for the proper payment of these pensions that were earned.

So Sections 2 to 5 allow these extra amounts to be paid under the income tax regulations. Clause 6 would provide that the bill come into force retroactively on September 1, 1991. Again, that is to keep in line with the changes in the federal legislation.

The mechanism that was chosen for the payment of the excess benefits in this particular case were that payments, or money would be paid into the consolidated revenue fund and their payments would be made out of the consolidated revenue fund in excess of the amount that was allowed for in the pension plan.

Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to hear comments on it. I will deal with the details in the Committee stage, which should be sometime in the next two weeks.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a couple of questions for the minister. I am not totally sure I understand all of the implications of what this bill does. Maybe the minister can help us a little bit.

First of all, in clause 1, the contractual employee clause. So that applies only to people who are on a contract to government; the money purchase plan, which is transferrable when that employee moves to some other employer. So it is just a straightforward money purchase plan. You contribute, government contributes just an equal amount.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: An equal amount, with set limits, of course.

MR. BAKER: It is totally funded by the contributions. There are no unfunded liabilities in the money purchase pension plan.

MR. WINDSOR: There are no unfunded liability, that is right. So government sets that aside, that doesn't go into the general revenue the same as other pension benefits do.

MR. BAKER: Yes.

MR. WINDSOR: That is kept out, I understand. This is a plan we instituted a number of years ago, as I recall.

MR. BAKER: Yes.

MR. WINDSOR: And that is fully transferrable, so when a person leaves he or she may take whatever contributions - the cash value at the time - and can transfer that to another pension plan without paying tax on it.

MR. BAKER: If they become full-time employees they can transfer it into the public service pension plan, too.

MR. WINDSOR: Or they can put it into RRSP -

MR. BAKER: That's right.

MR. WINDSOR: - as I understand it. That was the purpose of it. Can the minister tell me, have these changes been discussed with the public service unions, the union representatives? Is this by agreement with the unions? Are they fully aware of the implications and are they in agreement with it? Are there any questions of that nature?

MR. BAKER: They expressed some concerns initially but it had to comply with the federal legislation, so they are in agreement with it on that basis.

MR. WINDSOR: So they are fully aware of it?

MR. BAKER: Yes.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, there isn't a great deal more we can say. It is fairly straightforward other than that. I am assuming what the minister is saying, we can take him at his word, that this is to comply with the act and to allow benefits that are in excess of those benefits allowed under the standard federal government plan which applies to many things including MHAs pensions of course. I assume our own plan will have to be changed to allow this as well if it has not already been so. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for that information.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in general support of this legislation which, as I understand it, is to conform the Public Service Pension Act to the federal tax regulations which would in fact supersede some of the things that are being done and both our legislation and theirs have to be dovetailed in order to be able to operate properly.

I do want to ask the minister, in order to be able to get the tax rebates associated with it, I understand the implications of that, that if we do not have it right, then the individuals, public servants or people who are subject to these pensions are going to lose the tax benefits of having their contributions made tax deductible for income tax purposes, so we have to have legislation that conforms to that, so I have no problem with the concept of the legislation that is designed to do that. I do think however, that we want to make sure that there is nobody left out and perhaps the minister could address this.

We are dealing with the definition of contractual employee and we do have a number of people within the public service who may or may not be contractual employees, there are some people going around having worked for sixteen or seventeen or eighteen years for the government who are still called temporary employees. We have seasonal employees who come back year after year after year for fifteen or twenty or more years, and they are in some sub-standard employment status from time to time, no less deserving of pensions and there is no real reason why they ought to be outside the Public Service Pensions Act and be left in a money purchase plan, which I understand basically allows the contributions of the employer and the contribution of the employee to be added up and added together and get interest and at some point in time, when they retire, that lump of money is used to purchase an annuity for life.

Basically it restricts the individuals to a total amount of, if there is $15,000 in that separate allocated fund at the time that they retire, then if that can buy you an annuity that gets you fifty dollars a month for the rest of your expected life, well then that is all you get, and while that may be fair in some circumstances, Mr. Speaker, for someone who works for the government every now and then in a long career, that involves other work where a person has a job and is doing consulting work and has a contract with the government one year, and works somewhere else another time and puts money in RRSPs and all these things combined, at his time of retirement gives him a half decent pension, that might make sense, but on the other hand if you have somebody who every season works for the Department of Forestry and Agriculture for three months every year for all of their adult life for four or five years then, Mr. Speaker, there is a degree of dependence and loyalty there with government service that ought to be rewarded with something perhaps a little bit more substantial than merely a money purchase plan.

A money purchase plan is obviously the safest thing from the point of view of the employer because you pay for it once - you pay as you go, Mr. Speaker. If there is a certain percentage of the income that is put aside, and I would ask the minister to confirm when he speaks, what the percentage is, if the contribution of an individual on the money purchase plan is a certain percentage, would that be the same percentage as people who are subject to the Public Service Pension plan, and is the employer's contribution the same? Does the employer make an equal contribution to the employee on the money purchase plan as well as under the public service pension plan? I know there is a difference because the government still has to guarantee the pension for a public servant regardless of the funding in the pot, and in the money purchase plan you obviously only get what you paid for, but I do take it though, and the minister could correct me if I am wrong, that the actual contribution of the government as you go into the money purchase plan fund if you will, is the same as it is for regular full time permanent employees of government.

So, perhaps the minister can explain that and tell us the rationale if he has one, Mr. Speaker, the rationale of excluding people who may not be full time in the sense of being fifty-two weeks of the year full time employees of the government but they may be consistently year in, year out, seasonal employees, employed every single year of their working lives and yet are not subject to the public service pension, they do not get the benefits of that. Can the minister explain what the rationale is for treating long term, although perhaps seasonal employees in a different category than the legislation would people who, instead of being employed fifty-two weeks of every year are only employed thirty-nine weeks of every year because he works in the forest when the Forestry season is on the go or works for the Department of Highways for the six months of the Winter. I think we have a six month Winter in many places, in some places at least in the Province, so a person may well be a long standing regular employee of the government although not employed year round such as the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture is while he is an elected member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

If he speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, a number of interesting points raised here by both members. The distinction is made - a person who is on full time contract, the definition is now strengthened in terms of assuring that that person is a full time employee and eligible for the Public Service Pension Plan. All part time employees, whether contractual or otherwise, would be eligible for the money purchase plan. The amounts deducted, I believe is 6 per cent and government pays 6 per cent, so that is the amounts that go in. I agree with the Member for St. John's East, there is a difference between the full time and the shorter term full time, in the sense that there is a certain unfunded liability that is with the Public Service Pension Plan that government guarantees. There is no liability built up in terms of the money purchase pension plan. So, there may be an argument made that there is a slight difference there but it would be difficult putting a person who is on for half-a-year as part of the Public Service Pension Plan in the sense that they could not obviously build up the 2 per cent credit per year, they could only build up 1 per cent credit per year and after thirty-five years they would still only have a 35 per cent pension. I suspect that they would be better off being part of the money purchase plan and being able to take the money and do something with it at the end of their service.

So I will certainly ask the officials in the department for a little more information on that and during the discussion in committee stage I hope to provide a little extra information but in principle, Mr. Speaker, this is something that has to be done in order to register our pension plan. The unions have full knowledge of this and they know that in order for the plan to be registered that this has to be done, so it is a fairly routine piece of business and I will try to get the extra information that the Member for St. John's East asked for. Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 43).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before we proceed with the third of the Bills, standing in my hon. friend's name, I understand I have consent of all members concerned to ask that Bill 74 be read a first time. I gave a notice of it today, normally it would not be called for first reading until tomorrow but since it is printed and in the House and available, hon. members if they will agree, will give it first reading. It will not be called for debate today but we will distribute it. It is a very straightforward piece of stuff, abolishing the Opposition by statute, Mr. Speaker. Does your honour have it there? It is the Elections Act, it is the one that allows us to abolish the Opposition by vote of the Province.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Elections Act, The Jury Act 1991, And The Elections Act 1991," carried. (Bill No. 74).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I know that hon. gentleman are wondering where we are and why. We are going to call Order No. 26, which is Bill No. 44; then we will call Order No. 38, which is Bill No 69; and Order No. 35, which is Bill No. 66. Then we will all go home and have our supper, except for those of us who are on for a committee tonight.

I would ask Your Honour please to call Order No. 26 which is Bill No. 44.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Uniform Services Pensions Act, 1991." (Bill No. 44).

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This particular Bill has two parts to it. First of all, the Uniform Services Pensions Act has been changed a number of times over the last two or three years. This particular change was brought about by the transference of the fire department of the City of St. John's on December 31, 1991.

Up to that point the fire fighters who were part of the Uniform Services Pension Plan could remain part of the Uniform Services Pension Plan as administered by government. New fire fighters hired on after that date would in fact become part of the City of St. John's plan because they are now City of St. John's employees. It is something that we have done to allow the people who were part of the Uniform Services Pensions Plan and who were fire fighters to remain so. This particular piece of legislation allows that to happen.

The first paragraph restricts those fire fighters who are eligible to join, to those who were on staff 31 December 1991, as I indicated a moment ago. The newer fire fighters will be part of the City of St. John's plan.

Paragraph two directs the City of St. John's to pay the matching employer contributions up to a maximum of 8 per cent for the fire fighters who remain in the Uniformed Services Pension Plan. Of course, the contributions from the fire fighters were also 8 per cent, but Your Honour will probably recall that the current service cost of the Uniform Services Pension Plan was beyond the 16 per cent. So what government has said is: We will deduct the 8 per cent and the 8 per cent from the City of St. John's - 16 per cent. Any extra cost will continue to be picked up by the Province because it was the Province's plan in the first place. So we are restricting the City of St. John's to 8 per cent of payroll.

Mr. Speaker, essentially that is the purpose of this particular piece of legislation. It also is, of course, in line with the new federal legislation which means that we indeed support part of the pension plan through an offside arrangement that was allowed when the legislation was changed by the federal government under the Income Tax Act.

Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to hear any comments that members opposite have, and respond to them in a few moments.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a few comments on this legislation. This legislation is a little bit more disturbing than the last one because this involves something entirely different.

What is happening here, aside from some of the compliance requirements that need to deal with the issue of the City of St. John's now taking over the fire department, and the need for a continuation of the pensions, what we are now establishing, in addition to the gutting of the public service pensions, which was accomplished last year, and making them contribute more to these pensions, it is something that occurred in the fire department, in the police service and in the penitentiary service. For many, many, years the government had kept the wages of the police, fire fighters and warders, or at least argued through negotiations over the years, that their wages could be substantially less than those in other parts of Atlantic Canada, with which they were often compared, because they had the so-called Cadillac pension that allowed them to retire after twenty-five years' service.

That was part of the deal. It's sort of an historic bargain, as it were, between the uniform services and the government in terms of sort of a quid pro quo. We'll give you a very unusual, I suppose, and different type of pension arrangement. However, your wages will be less because of that.

That deal has been abrogated by the government and they are now imposing new regulations on them. What this is doing is also creating two classes of fire fighters in the St. John's Fire Department. I don't know what consultation there has been with the fire fighters, whether they support this or whether they don't, but you're going to end up with a two-tiered force. Now you can call it grandfathering, grandmothering, grandparenting, whatever you like. What it does do, it certainly keeps the existing - or those fire fighters who were members of the force prior to the joining up with the City of St. John's - they retain the pension benefits as they existed. The question that arises is: are we going to now have a second tier of employees? Those who were employed afterwards are going to have a lesser pension.

The minister in his remarks didn't make any reference to the pension plan that the City of St. John's has in force. I think if the minister was being fair and honest about this he would have to advise the House that the pension benefits for City employees are substantially less than they are under the Uniform Services Pensions Act.

So we will have two kinds of employees now. A group that comes in after the transfer over, or after January 1, 1992, I guess, and those who were there before that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you suggesting we should take over the responsibility (Inaudible)?

MR. HARRIS: What I'm suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is that the government has forced a situation on the employees, the bargaining unit, the fire fighters and the City and everybody who's involved in this. Essentially a two-tier system where you're going to have people who are looked after in accordance with the Uniform Services Pensions Act and people who are not.

What I would suggest is that if the government has a Uniform Services Pensions Act that the fire fighters in the City of St. John's are still part of that uniform services. They are still part, and they have always been regarded as a part of the uniform services. If you look at the legislation governing the fire fighters, warders and police, they are all treated the same way. They are treated as a quasi-military body, a paramilitary body. They are separately designated, they have the rules of military discipline. I don't think they can shoot them at dawn, but the rules of military discipline apply to fire fighters. If you look at the legislation, even when it was taken out of the control of the Minister of Justice and the control of the Province of Newfoundland, all of those aspects of the legislation remain. Even though the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't directly control the fire fighters through the Minister of Justice -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Justice corrected me on that. I assume that means that we shall soon see legislation for a constitutional amendment coming from the Minister of Justice on the name of the Province. I'm glad to hear that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I guess we'll have that before Christmas too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Legislation on the constitutional amendment for the name of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I see that the Minister of Justice is correcting me on the name. I said the "Province of Newfoundland." I didn't say the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) one that came from New Brunswick and (Inaudible). Did the hon. member see what happened there?

MR. HARRIS: I didn't follow the details of it. But if you're suggesting that constitutional amendments are going to receive fairly short shrift in Ottawa in the wake of the failure of the Charlottetown Accord, it doesn't surprise me.

MR. ROBERTS: The big question is (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The real big question is: is it possible for Jean Chretien to get through an election campaign without speaking. If he is able to get through an election campaign without speaking the Liberals may have a chance to form a government in Ottawa. We have to wait and see, Mr. Speaker, but I am looking forward to a proposed constitutional amendment from the Minister of Justice so we can have that with our turkey dinner this Christmas.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do I have to put up with this?

MR. HARRIS: The Opposition House Leader asks if he has to put up with this. I say, yes, he does have to put up with this, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MATTHEWS: Can we have him removed?

MR. HARRIS: Well, I guess there could be a special resolution of the House to have the Government House Leader removed. It seems pretty clear that the government in passing over the fire department to the City of St. John's has decided to wash its hands of responsibility for maintaining the respect and special status of the uniform services in this Province which status they had for many years and for which they were very proud.

The former Minister of Justice certainly had opportunity to attend the numerous services that were organized by the St. John's fire fighters group, Mr. Speaker, very proudly displaying, with their colour party and their military display, their recognition of their special status and the special rules that apply to them, Mr. Speaker. More important, I suppose, from one point of view they are faced with the same kind of discipline code that the police are, or to some extent soldiers are by being required to endanger their lives and being required to follow orders. I know the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations when he was looking at this legislation which he brought in to transfer the St. John's Fire Department Act to the City of St. John's Act we had a number of discussions about the effect on collective bargaining, about the consequences of this group having a paramilitary style of operation that made it unique in this Province along with the police. To continue with the recognition of the uniform services as an important part of the Newfoundland community there should be a continuation of this relationship with their special status of pensions. That is a feature of the service and one that ought not to be destroyed by legislation such as this.

We see now that is going to be breaking down. We are going to have new recruits brought into the fire service and they are not entitled to the same pension benefits. They will not be entitled to any greater salary I should think, unless the Minister of Finance is prepared to stipulate at this time that despite the fact they are going to be working alongside other existing police or fire fighters they will be getting less of a pension benefit. If the minister is prepared to stipulate that they will be compensated some other way in salary as part of this package they might be more inclined to support it. Although the minister has said that the public sector unions are in favour of actions to amend the Public Service Pensions Act -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is the first time I have heard the former Minister of Education whistle in the House. He has an obvious talent that he did not display when he was Minister of Education. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, now that he has let his hair down, since he is no longer a Minister of the Crown, he feels free to whistle in the House because of his new status. He is much more relaxed, Mr. Speaker. I have noticed, since he has given up his duties as Minister of the Crown. If I were the former Minister of Education I would be anxious to let my hair down to, but I think he has to let it grow a bit before he can let it down too much.

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

MR. HARRIS: If the former Minister of Education wants to stand in this House and deny it, I would be quite happy to give him the opportunity to do so.

Mr. Speaker, on a more serious note, what the government is doing here is making chalk of one and cheese of another, when it comes to fire fighters in St. John's. They are going to have far less pension benefits. It is not just merely a matter of one regulation applying versus another. It is going to be a far less attractive pension plan for the new entrants, Mr. Speaker, as compared to the old. And these fire fighters are going to be expected to work side by side, subject to the same rules and subject to the same salary, unfortunately, although one group will be given a far greater pension benefit. It is going to be perceived as unfair, Mr. Speaker, because it will be unfair. It is unfair to have two groups of employees - it is a favourite tactic these days of some employers. They say: Okay. Tell you what, we will sign a collective agreement here and we will look after you guys. We will look after everybody who is here, but the next people coming in, well we will pay them less.

I see the member for St. John's South agreeing with that, that that is unfair. It is unfair to have two tiers of employees. One group who are there now, we will give them one salary, and then we will ask you -

AN HON. MEMBER: Read the article in MacLeans.

MR. HARRIS: I would be happy to read it if the hon. member wants to pass it over.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am impressed. I will send it over to the member.

MR. HARRIS: I will be happy to read it.

I think that is outrageous, Mr. Speaker. What is happening now is that, I am sad to say, Mr. Speaker, some unions are so desperate to keep employment and to keep going that they are being forced to agree with this. So they are being asked to conspire with the employer, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: I am sad to say, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of unions that are being forced to accept arrangements whereby they look after the existing bargaining unit at the expense of new employees, at the expense of their fellow members of the working class, at the expense of their fellow workers, of their children in some cases, Mr. Speaker, who are out there desperately looking for jobs. They, Mr. Speaker, are being asked to look after themselves at the expense of others. I think that is wrong, Mr. Speaker. It is a wrong principle that ought not to be followed in the private sector, and it certainly ought not to be followed in the public sector with the government at the lead.

We find often, unfortunately, that the private sector takes the lead of government. When the government sets the agenda politically -

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I see that the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture is pleased with my gestures. They help him understand, because he is very good at visual things, but he is not so good at verbal skills. I like to punctuate my remarks with a few signs and gestures to help the minister understand.

MR. MURPHY: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: I am only up, Mr. Speaker, to control the sanity of those members who are sitting in the House. I wonder if the hon. member for Harbour Main would look at the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As hon. members will know, quite often, particularly in matters to do with employment relations or employees or labour relations or collective bargaining, that the private sector follows the lead of government. When the government gives out signals as to what is appropriate and what is acceptable, then the private sector out there follows. We have seen, Mr. Speaker, when this government tore up collective agreements after they signed them, sometimes days after they signed them, when this government tore up these agreements, employers out there thought that they had the right to go to their employees and say: we want to take back what we negotiated six months ago, we want to take back what we negotiated in the last agreement. The government has set the agenda, it is time to claw back, so they have learned from the government's approach to clawing back, that it is open season on clawing back.

We saw in the forestry sector recently that when the Government of Canada agreed on a compensation plan for fishermen and a pension plan for fishermen to help some adjustment in the industry, we had a member, a business agent for one of the paper unions coming out publicly and saying: that the federal government should claw back a pension; a pension now, Mr. Speaker. So clawback Clyde and clawback Carter have found a friend; clawback Carter and clawback Clyde are encouraging people out there, Mr. Speaker, they are encouraging unemployed loggers to attack unemployed fishermen, that is what they are doing, Mr. Speaker.

They are encouraging unemployed loggers to attack unemployed fishermen, that is the kind of dissention that this government is creating; it is not far off what the Liberal government tried to do in 1959, Mr. Speaker, as well, not far off what the Liberal government tried to do in 1959, not far off, because the Liberal government in 1959, and that was even before the Minister of Justice's time, even before his time. Well maybe it was not before his time.

The Minister of Justice claims to be around for a very long period of time, maybe he can tell us exactly whether he was the handmaiden to the Premier at the time when he was out encouraging unemployed fishermen to attack striking loggers, when he was encouraging dissention between fishermen and loggers back in 1959.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture says I do not know what I am talking about. Well, I tell the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture that I know a lot more about it than he does -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - so what we have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Jack, sit down.

MR. HARRIS: -what we have, Mr. Speaker, is the government setting the lead and setting the standards as to what should go on in this Province, and they are saying it is quite alright to have two-tiered employees. We are going to have two-tiered employees in the fire fighting service in St. John's. There is going to be one group who benefits from the legislation that has provided the basis for the pay and benefits of fire fighters for the last lengthy period of time, and we are going to have a new group now who do not have the same benefits as the existing group, and that is a signal to the Bill Barrys of the world who will be quite happy to follow the lead of this government in taking back benefits to workers.

That is the kind of thing that is going on and the Member for St. John's South knows it. He knows what is going on, he knows that employers out there are listening. They are listening for the signals and what are the signals coming from this government?

Number one: It is alright to rip up contracts. It is alright to go back on your word.

MR. MURPHY: That is not true.

MR. HARRIS: It is alright to go back on your word, that is signal number one. You do not have to abide by contracts and number two, we have the new word now, Mr. Speaker, is that two-tiered employee structures are okay because the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has set the lead. So I think, Mr. Speaker, although I have another forty-five minutes left, I probably will not use all of that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) carry on.

MR. MURPHY: You will be here, Jack, when the lights are out.

MR. HARRIS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would be quite happy to be here when the lights are out as long as people are still listening in the dark.

MR. MURPHY: Anybody who listens to you is definitely in the dark.

MR. HARRIS: If the hon. Member for St. John's South thinks that the light comes from the ceiling, then I have news for him. The light comes often from the speakers, who are at floor level, not from the ceiling at all, so perhaps I will need to go on a bit longer. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I will have to go on for some time longer in order for the light to shine in some of the places where it hasn't yet been seen.

The Uniform Services Pensions Act applies to three services: the police, the warders and the fire fighters. Now we're being asked to make a major change to that legislation and to say to the fire fighters of St. John's: no longer are you going to be regarded as part of this uniform services elite. I call them an elite for one reason. Much is expected of fire fighters, much is expected of them. They are expected to risk their lives at a moment's notice. Not only are they expected, they are required to obey orders under pain of discipline. Orders to risk their lives on an ongoing basis.

That makes them elites. They are elites. They are subject to this military style discipline for their actions. I don't see that this government and this House should countenance the establishment in the fire services of a two-tiered system that treats some of these people with the respect that they deserve and the special status that they get under the Uniform Services Pensions Act, and others under a lesser form of pension benefit.

So I do say that we have a responsibility here in this House to preserve the integrity of the fire fighting service. To make sure that we don't make chalk of one and cheese of the other, who are standing side by side, who are risking their lives side by side, who are fighting side by side against the dangers caused by fires and the dangers to life and limb that these - we expect these - I was going to say gentlemen and ladies. But I understand that to date there has not been anyone accepted by the St. John's fire fighting service of their own accord into the service. I understand they inherited one. They inherited one from the Mount Pearl office.

I'm told in fact that a couple of years ago - probably two or so years ago - there was a group of women doing a film - which won some awards - on non-traditional occupations for women. I'm glad the Member for Port de Grave is listening because he might hear of something. I won't say learn something. He might hear of something that he hadn't heard of before. I might say learn something but I'm not sure at this stage that the member is always about to learn something, especially when it comes from the Member of St. John's East. He may hear of something that he hadn't heard of before.

That is, when the group of people who were doing this film - it was called Imagine That - it was an idea to represent non-traditional occupations for women. The idea was to encourage young women or young girls in school to think of all options for careers when they were choosing a career and to let them know that all kinds of careers were open to them. Not just the ones that they'd traditionally been grown up to believe, or even seen in their own parents. Because not always do parents represent the best or all the varieties and ideals of opportunities for people.

They had as part of this program, they were going to show a woman fire fighter. I'm told they went to the chief of the St. John's Fire Department asking to borrow their truck, their equipment and some gear, some fire fighting equipment and hats and uniforms. They wanted to show a woman in a fire fighter's uniform participating in some of the activities to show young girls and high school girls that this was one of the options open to them. They were refused.

I'm told they were refused because that wasn't - we don't have any women fire fighters so we can't let you use our truck because that wouldn't be showing reality. Reality is that only men are fire fighters. We cannot have women being depicted as fire fighters, they were told, and we will not let you use our trucks to make that film because that does not represent reality. That is what they were told.

Now the Member for Port de Grave is saying to himself: How is this relevant to the Bill? Well I will tell him how it is relevant because every single woman who may be hired as a fire fighter in St. John's is not going to get the Uniform Services Pension Act. They are not going to get it because the government is taking it away. They are not going to be affected by that. They are going to be given the lesser benefits of the St. John's Pension Act, or whatever pension is in place for them.

Mr. Speaker, it has an important effect when you are dealing with a labour force which is changing, particularly if you are going to be encouraging gender equity, equity in employment, which I know this government has gutted already in the one aspect where there was an agreement for that, has taken it away, or taken away the retroactive benefits there, and there does not seem to be much interest by the current government in promoting gender equity in the work force or in the public sector.

When we see women going into the fire fighting service, as they have in other parts of Canada and the United States, we are going to see all of these women part of the bottom half of this two tiered system that the government is now setting up.

That is one of the aspects of this that I am sure the Member for Port de Grave did not think of. I will not say he has learned from me, but he has heard about from me and he is going to no doubt give some thought to that.

I say also that this is not something that the fire fighters themselves are welcoming. It is being imposed on them. It is being forced on them by this government. It is not something that they accept; not something that they want; not something they have agreed to. It is something being imposed on them by this government and I, for one, am not prepared to support it. Our party is opposed to the setting up of the two tiers of employment that are being established here.

While the public sector unions, NAPE and CUPE, may well have supported the Minister of Finance in his efforts on Bill 43, I can assure him, unless he has some information that I do not, that the St. John's Fire Fighters Association does not support him in his efforts to make changes to the Uniform Services Pensions Act and to set up a two tier system for employees in the fire fighting service in St. John's. I think, Mr. Speaker, on that basis alone this legislation ought to be rejected.

So I hope all hon. members will consider these factors when being called upon to vote on this Bill. There, Mr. Speaker, I will end my remarks and give other hon. members on both sides of the House, who may wish to speak to this bill, an opportunity to speak.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member for Mount Pearl on a point of order.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, rather than lose time out of the twenty minutes to which I am now limited, I want to say that, with respect to Your Honour, and having read the Standing Orders, I recognize that clearly speaking - clearly in the Standing Orders - Your Honour has, I think, the right to recognize whoever Your Honour sees standing. But clearly by tradition, and I have not checked Beauchesne to see if there are any references in there - clearly by tradition, when the minister introduces a bill or a motion, the official opposition spokesperson is the person to be recognized and the person who gets the one hour, or in the case of the Budget Speech the unlimited time.

I was standing at the same time as the hon. Member for St. John's East, I would submit to Your Honour, and clearly I think I should have been recognized if not by right, certainly by tradition. Your Honour chose to recognize the Member for St. John's East.

I would argue, if Your Honour chose to argue, that I was standing certainly as quickly as one could when the minister sat down. If the member was standing ten seconds before me, I could understand it. I would submit to Your Honour that in this particular case - I chose not to question it at the time. I said: Well, I will let it go and I will bring it to Your Honour's attention later. I want to put it clearly on the record here. I think the record should show that it is our feeling, very strongly, that the official spokesperson for the Opposition, the Shadow, the person with the Shadow responsibility, is the person to whom Your Honour should look immediately. And only if that person chooses not to rise should Your Honour recognize somebody else.

So I would submit to Your Honour that the procedure that was just followed, which gave the hon. member for St. John's East unlimited time, was an improper one. I am not challenging Your Honour but I want the record clarified.

Thank you, Your Honour.

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

MR. ROBERTS: If I may, Mr. Speaker. The hon. gentleman from Mount Pearl, in my view, has a point. He did not challenge the Chair. As he acknowledged, it would have been improper of him to do so. The Chair may recognize whom the Speaker wishes. Certainly, I would suggest, the rules - it is Standing Order 49 - make it quite clear, that while the Speaker may recognize whom he wishes, there is a back and forth in the debate that is a tradition. I would think that is it almost without exception that a member of the official Opposition is recognized to speak in response to a government order, as here.

I would say to my hon. friend from Mount Pearl, that the rules allow him thirty minutes to respond to this Bill now, if he wishes. Should he need more time than that, for my part, while I don't speak for my friends on this side, I shall ask them if they would consent to more leave, because the Opposition is here as an Opposition. The Parliament is an antiphonal process. The hon. gentleman from St. John's East is here alone at this stage. He may or may not be back with more. He may or may not speak for certain numbers of people. But all of us speak for all of the Province and we recognize the antiphonal nature. So if my friend from Mount Pearl needs more time, we will grant it. I would acknowledge his remarks. In my view, Mr. Speaker, there is a tradition in the House that goes beyond the rules. I am not presuming to tell the Chair what to do, but it is a tradition that, in my view, should be honoured wherever possible.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for St. John's East, to the point of order.

MR. HARRIS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Looking at Standing Order 49, to which the Government House Leader referred, I find nothing that indicates that there must be a recognition of a speaker who is the official government critic for a particular ministry. All Standing Order 49 says - and I don't think the hon. minister said anything different than that - in Order 49, sub (2) is that `a Minister moving a government order and a member replying thereto immediately after such Minister, has sixty minutes in reply.' It doesn't say a member of the official Opposition and it doesn't say a member of the Opposition who is a critic or anything like that.

My own observation, Mr. Speaker, was that I was standing before the member for Mount Pearl and was recognized by the Speaker which was in keeping with the long-standing tradition of the Speaker's ability to do that. There, in fact, have been occasions, Mr. Speaker, when Question Period was called that I stood and was the first to stand and was recognized before the Leader of the Opposition because he had neglected to stand promptly or before I was recognized by the Chair.

So, while there may well be some feeling on the part of the official Opposition that they have a special priority, the rules don't give that to them. That having been said, Mr. Speaker, the member for Mount Pearl, as the official critic, no doubt may well have had an opportunity to research the legislation under his purview far more thoroughly than I have had an opportunity to do so and may well need the extra time, may well need an hour to express his views.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: If this were the case, Mr. Speaker, I would have been happy, if the member needed the sixty minutes to deal with this legislation, after having done his considerable research on it, to defer to the member had the member raised that point when I was first recognized.

MR. WINDSOR: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: One final comment, Mr. Speaker. Let me assure the member for St. John's East, I do not need his permission to speak in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, nothing the hon. Member for St. John's East contradicts anything that I or the Government House Leader has said, in fact he simply echoed everything that we had said. I thank the Government House Leader for substantiating what I have said, that there is indeed a tradition here, that there is honour among thieves, Mr. Speaker, and although it may not be in the Standing Order that it certainly has been the tradition in this House and certainly I as one Opposition -

MR. HARRIS: Speak for yourself now about thieves.

MR. WINDSOR: - spokesperson and I know other spokespeople for the Opposition may not sometimes be in a hurry to stand because we automatically expect to be recognized by Your Honour, provided we are on our feet within a reasonable period of time. I would submit to my friend for St. John's East, he could not possibly be standing before me on this occasion because I stood up even as the minister sat down. Sometimes I am more tardy than that but on this particular occasion I certainly was on my feet. I thank the Government House Leader for time, I do not need extra time in this particular case. I do not have a great deal that I want to say, my point in rising at this time was not to challenge Your Honour because I could have done so at the time had I wished to stand on a point of privilege or a point of order but simply that I think the record needs to be clear. Let me say to my friend for St. John's East that he has had a lot of courtesy from this side of the House, from both sides of the House, in being given leave to speak to ministerial statements and other statements that are made in this House and being given an opportunity from members on this side to speak to certain bills and to certain order, if the hon. gentleman wants to play this game, he is going to be down there and very quite for a long, long period of time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Mount Pearl, he is quite right when he says that there is nothing in the Standing Orders which permits the Speaker from not recognizing any hon. member who is speaking but again I have to come back to the tradition of this House, that it is the tradition that the critic for the Opposition I guess, for that particular department, it has been tradition to recognize that hon. member. To the point of who stood first the Chair clearly saw that the hon. Member for St. John's East, in this case, did clearly stand first but again I apologize to the hon. Member for Mount Pearl for not having recognized him even though he was not standing at that point in time.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I was not seeking an apology from Your Honour, it was a legitimate mistake and enough has been said about it, I thank you for that ruling.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to speak to this Bill for a few moments. As I said I thank the Government House Leader but I will not be needing a great deal of time, had I wanted more time I certainly would have objected earlier. A couple of things that I want to question the Minister of Finance on here, first of all it seems to be an open ended thing here as it relates to the eight and eight, 8 per cent from the employee and 8 per cent from the Province on a matching basis or 8 per cent on a matching basis and the government paying anything above that.

I just ask the Minister of Finance what protection government has for itself here, is that locked in at the present difference or is it possible for the City to negotiate further benefits that will cost more in excess of the 8 per cent than it does now down the road so that in fact could cost more but the City being capped at 8 per cent. They are protected under this legislation at 8 per cent, I would be concerned that the cost went to 11 or 12 or 13 per cent and that the Province would be powerless to do anything about it and would be locked into paying anything above 8 per cent. Therefore, the City would have no incentive to try to keep the package down. So, perhaps the minister could address that for us.

Many of the other items here, Mr. Speaker, are clearly in line with the previous piece of legislation which ties into the Income Tax Act. So fortunately, we obviously have not had any great problem with that. I want to raise one question, the point was made by the Member for St. John's East, that there are two classes of employees here therefore, one class that are covered by the old plan and the new employees who are covered by a new plan, now I do not have a great problem with that because new employees being hired after that plan came into effect, that is a condition of their employment. When you are hired, you are hired based on the conditions that exist at the time, not what somebody else enjoyed some time in history. You don't take the salary they enjoyed twenty years ago either, you enjoy a much higher salary level.

There is another distinction here, Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, and the minister might want to address this: it is that it's not those hired since, it is employees who had not been employed twenty years prior to this changeover. So there are a large number of employees who were employed less than twenty years who were not given the option to stay under the old plan. As I understand it, and I had a submission from a constituent a couple of days ago, anybody who had been employed for more than twenty years was given the option to stay with the old plan and either retire at twenty-five or carry on and build up more pension, and so forth, and all of the things that were there.

I have a constituent who had been employed nineteen years and two months, or something of that nature, and no doubt there were those who were hired who had been working there eighteen years, seventeen years, and fifteen years, and back to one year, and you pick a cut-off point. But you are then making two classes of employee, simply because that person had not been working there that long. But I would submit that the person who was hired under the old plan, that was a condition of employment that they accepted, and something has been changed on them without their consent, and they not given the option.

I ask the minister to address that question. Why were not all employees at the time of the change given the option to adopt the old plan or the new plan? Those with twenty years service or more were given the option to choose, as they should be, but others were not. So that, in fact, really is two classes of citizen - whereas those who are hired under a new plan, those are the terms of employment. You take the job, you apply for the job, you accept it under those terms and conditions. I don't have a problem with that.

So I would ask the minister to look at that. That is really all the question, Mr. Speaker, that I had on this particular bill. The minister might address that.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The points mentioned by the Member for Mount Pearl need some elaboration. In actual fact, if the Member for Mount Pearl recalls, there are actually three different - if he wants to put it - classes of employees, not two. As a result of an arbitration award, we went through a process with the police, firemen, warders and so on, where an arbitrator decided that there was to be some distinction between the police - well, first of all, let me go back further.

An arbitrator decided that an award was to be given to the uniform services that took into account total compensation. He left it open as to interpretation or he left the choice up to the union, in essence, the police union or - it happened with the police first. He left the choice to the police as to whether they would accept a wage package, plus the plan they already had, because he judged they were on a par with police in the Maritimes in terms of total compensation, their plan, plus benefits. He gave the police a choice, they could chose to accept the wages he decided and keep their pension plan or negotiate higher wages with a changed pension plan. So, here is where the first class of employee came in, or the first difference came in.

The employees, or the police union, decided they would take the increased take-home pay and therefore have a reduction in their pension plan. At that point in time, the two classes started to exist, because the people who were right at the end, beyond the twenty years, it was to their advantage not to take the salary increase but to keep their pension plan and so on. So there was a distinction made at that point and certain members of the Uniform Services Pension Plan had a choice of belonging to the new Uniform Services Pension Plan or the old one. Now, that is where the twenty-year thing came in. Some of them chose to remain with the old Uniform Services Pension Plan. The ones under twenty years had no choice so they became part of the new Uniform Services Pension Plan.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Well, this was by agreement, an agreement that was worked out in terms of the salary package with the unions.

Now, then, when it came time - there were some things happened intervening which I will get back to in a moment - when it came time to transfer to the City of St. John's you still had some fire fighters who were on the old Uniform Services Pension Plan, some that were on the new Uniform Services Pension Plan and they would remain as they are when they moved and any new ones would be part of the City of St. John's Pension Plan, so really we have three different classes of pensions.

At about that same time, an arbitrator also made a decision, or after that time - this was the first decision back in 1989. Since then there was another arbitration decision which indicated that whereas the police were paid at a level that was about equal to, or perhaps a little behind some of the police forces in the Maritimes, that, in fact, contrary to what the Member for St. John's East says, who knows nothing about this anyway, the arbitrator indicated that the total package for the firemen and the warders was far above anything else in Canada; therefore, he separated the policemen from the firemen and the warders. So that was another complication that came in at about the same time.

I just wanted to mention, there are actually three plans. There are two uniform services pension plans. When we moved to the City of St. John's, these firemen had a choice of remaining with the uniform services pension plan - and they all chose that. Because obviously it is the better plan. The new ones, then, as a condition of employment, would become part of the City of St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: So the twenty-year figure was negotiated with the unions?

MR. BAKER: Yes, in the first place. It was tied into their level of compensation. I believe they got an extra 8 per cent salary for agreeing to a new pension plan. The ones above twenty were grandfathered. They took advantage of two things - they retained their good pension plan and they got their 8 per cent salary increase. They were the real beneficiaries of this.

Now then, when we passed over to the City of St. John's the new employees - we had some choices to make. I think that what you have to do is look at the fire fighting situation in the Province to realise what a problem we had in making our choices. If we were to offer the St. John's Fire Department membership in the uniform services pension plan - all new ones that were hired - we would have to do the same thing for Grand Falls, Corner Brook, Gander - any place that has fire fighters. What about the volunteer fire fighters who go through the same dangerous conditions and so on? So we would really have to open up the uniform services pension plan to all fire fighters in the Province. We obviously could not do that.

Also, we had the choice of simply saying: I am sorry, you people are all out of the uniform services pension plan. Here is the money you paid in. Now you are part of the St. John's Fire Department. We felt that was unfair. Because, as a condition of their employment and as a negotiated position, they had contracted to receive certain pension benefits and we felt that we had to continue to provide that.

So, the only choice, really, was the one that we made. The current employees remain in the uniform services pension - although financially we would have loved to do the other. We would have loved to shove them off onto the St. John's pension plan. It

would have been great for us financially but we decided, in fairness, that we could not do that and that only the new employees would be part of the municipal pension plan, as is the case in all other municipalities in the Province. You cannot single out St. John's.

As to the concern about the cost, I agree that it seems to be open there; however, because they are members of, some of them the old Uniform Services Pension Plan, which is very costly, some members of the new Uniform Services Pension Plan, the conditions are set by these plans and not by the City of St. John's. If the City of St. John's wants to change their plan, they would change the plan for the new employees who are part of the City of St. John's fire department, the new ones that are hired after that date, and would not apply to the ones that are in the Uniform Services Pension Plan. That is tied up pretty tight.

The reason it had to be left open was this - conditions change. Right now the current service cost of the Uniform Services Pension Plan on the average there is probably around 23 per cent - in that range - 22 or 23 per cent, but that may change as time goes on. As a matter of fact, it could get more expensive. So we kind of had to leave it open.

The eight and the eight are put in there - the sixteen. Whatever is over that - probably 6 or 7 per cent right now - has to be paid by government. That may escalate to 8 or 9 per cent as the actuarial conditions change. So we had to leave it open to account for these actuarial changes, but there can be no changes in conditions.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that deals at least in part with the concerns of the Member for Mount Pearl, and I would be glad to get into more detail in the committee stage, so I now move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Uniform Services Pensions Act, 1991," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 44).

MR. ROBERTS: Order 38, Bill No. 69, in the name of my friend, the Minister of Mines and Energy.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act (No.2)." (Bill No. 69).

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This Bill amends and repeals some section of the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act primarily to eliminate the 50 per cent Canadian ownership rate requirement for production licences in the offshore area.

I would like to give a little bit of background. Back about nine months ago, on March 25, 1992, the hon. Jake Epp, federal Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, announced new rules for foreign investment in the Canadian oil and gas industry with the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investment. In addition to changes in oil and gas acquisition policy, Mr. Epp also indicated that the Government of Canada would introduce amendments to remove the Legislative restriction on foreign ownership of frontier oil and gas production. Subsequent and further to this change in policy, he initiated work on amending the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, the Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and the Canada Nova Scotia Act.

This Bill is the Newfoundland part for the provincial Legislature of the Canada Newfoundland Act. A similar bill, the federal part, was tabled in the House of Commons last week on December 10th, the same day that we moved the motion for the Newfoundland amendments.

Removal of the Canadian ownership rate requirement, I believe will enhance access to large global capital resources and expertise necessary for offshore petroleum exploration and development, and thereby eliminate an impediment which is now there, to future economic activity in our offshore area. This is consistent with our provincial government policy of removing impediments to investment in oil and gas sector of the economy as per our Strategic Economic Plan, and the policy of maintaining a consistent regime in the offshore area, consistent between the two governments.

Mr. Speaker, there is really no further explanation required on this, the amendments are quite clear and I am pleased to move -

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

MR. L. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on Bill 69, which is as the minister suggested, it is a legislation being proposed here in the provincial Legislature that will amend the Act, The Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act, basically to allow non-Canadian participation, and I readily support the idea of this and in recognition of the fact that this particular industry has been restricted for many, many years because of the control over Canadian ownership, and undoubtedly cost I am told, billions of dollars damage to our economy because of having that limit on Canadian ownership or on foreign investment, and in recognition of that, we are indeed participating in a global economy. I come from an area that is primarily developed by a so-called American company with a Canadian name, The Iron Ore Company of Canada. It was an American owned company predominantly. Yet it was developed. It provided a tremendous amount of wealth to this Province. The people working in the industry are practically all - 99 per cent of them today who are employed, are in western Labrador with both Wabush Mines and Iron Ore Company of Canada, are what we would call Newfoundlanders and Labradorians now. They're residents of this Province. They produce the wealth and they provide a tremendous amount of wealth to everybody else in this Province. They were predominantly an American company.

So we shouldn't be afraid of foreign investment. There's nothing wrong with foreign investment. That's what we need to do. Probably it's one of the greatest restrictions that we've seen on this part of the country with regard to capital coming in here vis--vis the amount that's going in British Columbia. I think that one of the biggest reasons why British Columbia has the healthiest economy in this country today is because of the so-called foreign capital being attracted to British Columbia. Now I recognise that British Columbia also has done certain things and has certain demographics in their province that influence a lot of that foreign investment.

I readily support this legislation. It's a recognition of what participating in a global economy is all about. I think it's only fair that the Opposition should support the mirror legislation that's going to be placed in the federal - or has been placed in the federal parliament. I think it's good for the Province, good for the country, and good for the people residing here and in the whole country. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to -

MR. MURPHY: Give us the same speech you gave in the House of Commons, now, against Hibernia.

MR. HARRIS: I want to rise, Mr. Speaker, in support of this legislation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. HARRIS: With some reluctance, because, unlike some other hon. members who are moaning and groaning here, I believe in Canadian control of our resources. I believe in that. I think that if we control our own resources we can make decisions about how those resources are being used and we can have more control. I believe in that.

Unfortunately what's happened in the Hibernia agreement is that one of the corporations, which was Canadian controlled, was given some special tax status, or special tax loopholes to allow them to shut down the Canadian operations and dig oil or mine for oil in Siberia somewhere, to leave this country and go off to Siberia and make money for the Russians; that, Mr. Speaker, is what is causing us to have to consider this amendment today. Because the Canadian control company, which the Government of Canada did not exercise enough control over, has flown the coup.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. HARRIS: Flown the coup, the chicken coup. That is what has happened here and that is what has caused this to be necessary. It is necessary, Mr. Speaker, in order for us to ensure - and we are still not sure, but in order to try to ensure this project will continue. I don't really have much more to say than that, but I want to put it on the record, that although the New Democratic Party in the House of Commons opposed the legislation that had to do with the financing of the Hibernia project, I say that their principal opposition to the financing is reflected in the report of the Auditor General. Just as our current Premier, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. John Crosbie opposed the financing of the Come By Chance oil refinery, opposed the legislation, the New Democratic Party in Ottawa opposed the financing of Hibernia because they felt it was unfair to the people of Canada and to Newfoundlanders.

Mr. Speaker, despite that, this legislation is made necessary because the project has gone so far and apparently cannot continue. Because the Government of Canada failed to exercise sufficient control over Canadian corporations, it now seems we are being asked to allow others to hold a share in production licenses and further lose control.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is still possible to insist on many things in this agreement and I hope that we do not give up any more power we have to control activities with our border, such as we are doing with the free trade agreement and the NAFTA agreement, giving up constitutional powers that we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have right now being given up by the Government of Canada in these two international trade agreement. Mr. Speaker, I think this legislation is now necessary in order to allow that project to continue and I support it.

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

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

I just want to have a few words on this. I said at the outset on Bill 69 that I support it. I have no problems with the bill. But, Mr. Speaker, it is an opportunity for me to raise some questions that have been bothering me over the last little while. Probably the minister can address them when he stands to speak.

Sometime back in July or August, Mr. Speaker, I was enquiring through some federal contacts in Ottawa about information on the Hibernia project. I was wondering what was going to happen with the Gulf Canada shares of the Hibernia project, the 25 per cent that Gulf Canada gave up, and was Texaco going to come in on this project. I followed it up for quite some time and somewhere around September or October, I guess, the information I got back at the time was that Texaco was fairly certain to come in on the project if the Quebec referendum said, yes. Now, after that time Canada decided to have a national referendum and everything changed. It wasn't based only on the Quebec referendum. I want to know if the minister is aware of the federal negotiations that are taking place with Texaco. They were supposed to sign up, without a doubt, had there been a yes vote in Quebec, by November 1. There was no question about November 1 at the time. This was in late September, I believe. But if Quebec voted no in the referendum, and there was only one referendum to be held at that time, they would not be signing up.

Now, since that time, Canada has had a referendum on the Constitutional issue. Canada did vote no, as well as Quebec voting no. Texaco has been stalling signing on this project ever since. Mr. Speaker, I would just like to know from the minister what he knows about this stalling of Texaco? What is happening? Is the Newfoundland Government involved directly in any of these negotiations or are we allowing the Federal Government to handle all the negotiations in case we have to pay something?

Mr. Speaker, in the meantime, when the project slowed down last spring, the Federal and Provincial Governments, after they had Texaco on the hook, after Texaco said they would sign up by November 1, put loan guarantees or an insurance program in place for hundreds of millions of dollars. I would like to know, from the minister, if the project does not go, if Texaco or some other corporation does not take on the 25 per cent share in Hibernia, what is it going to cost the taxpayers of Newfoundland to pay up on this insurance policy that the Government of Newfoundland and the Government of Canada have given the existing four or five companies that are operating on the site?

Mr. Speaker, that is pretty well all I have to say. The questions I raised were on the November 1 date with Texaco. Is Texaco going to come or not, and why are they delaying? Because they should have been signed up by November 1. They had agreed to the November 1 date. What is the insurance cost going to be the taxpayers of Newfoundland if we don't get that extra partner?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. If the hon. minister speaks now, he will close the debate.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I really have very little else to say. The questions concerning the status of negotiations on Texaco have no relevance to this bill at all, absolutely zero. Hibernia was discovered pre-1982 and was already exempt from the foreign ownership percentage of 50 per cent. This change applies to other developments in the offshore, for example, Terra Nova and White Rose, etc., and getting people in for that. It has no relevance at all to Hibernia, but it does create the broader environmental condition that makes it more prospective.

If I could just say a few words on the status. Negotiations are ongoing, they are not over yet. Texaco has been doing its due diligence. As the federal minister has been saying, as I have been saying and the Premier has been saying over the last few days, we are hoping for a decision before Christmas. We are expecting a decision before Christmas, and we hope that that decision is positive. If we don't get a decision or if it is not positive, there are other options, and I personally believe that things will proceed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Canada-Newfoundland Atlantic Accord Implementation Newfoundland Act (No. 2)," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 69)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let's end the evening - I thank hon. gentlemen - with one more short little bill, Bill No. 66, Your Honour, Order No. 35.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law (No. 2)." (Bill No. 66)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is one of those bills where the explanatory notes are about as long as the bill itself. All that the bill does is correct a number of what are called anomalies and errors that have been found by one person or another in the Revised Statutes of Newfoundland, 1990.

The House earlier dealt with a bill which comes in each year, called The Attorney General's Act - it says what we think of the Attorney General, I guess - to correct errors and anomalies in statutes other than those found in the revised sessions of Newfoundland, this Bill simply picks up all the errors that have been detected to date in the ten volumes that together form the RSN, 1990's, which by the way are the only statute law there is in this Province excepting private acts or others specifically listed in the schedules. In the public Acts, the only public Acts in the Province are the RSN 1990's and any amendments we have passed since then. Mr. Speaker, rather than delay the House further, I will simply commend the Bill to them and say that any hon. members, if they have any questions on a particular section or a particular provision, I shall be delighted to deal with it when I respond to close the debate.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, in most sessions of the House of Assembly we have one Errors and Anomalies Bill commonly referred to as Attorney General's Bill and since the present minister formed office we see double the usual number of Bills, twice the mistakes. Now Mr. Speaker, we have not had this Bill for very long and I confess that I have not had a chance to go through it in detail but I do have questions about two of the Clauses; Clause 22 makes a correction to the Regional Services Board Act. My question is: since the government has never used its Regional Services Board legislation, why is it correcting the Bill? Does the government have any intention of actually using that legislation? And with respect to Clause 17 there seems to be a departure from the practice of the Legislative Council of recent years to use inclusive language. The phrase to be substituted is, 'unless he is domicile in a province,' I assume that should be, 'unless he or she is domiciled in a province' consistent with the practice instituted when I was minister of using inclusive language.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Minister of Justice if he speaks now will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the hon. lady that it is not that the minister is simply making double the errors or detecting double the errors because we are going back over her time in office, but let me respond to her two points; on the question with respect to Section 22, I would simply say and I am not being smart, I do not know the answers to whether we intend to use the Bill or not, I know how the amendment came forward from the department responsible - the minister is not in his seat, I will have a word with him and undertake to let the hon. lady know before committee and she can deal with it again at committee stage. Secondly with respect to the inclusive language, I shall ask the drafts people, perhaps persons, why they are differentiating from what is the well established policy and unless they have an awfully good answer, I can assure the hon. lady that there will be an amendment in the committee and indeed I will go so far as to say I would even ask her to move the amendment in committee with assurances that it will be carried. Most of her amendments meet the fate they deserve but this one would be carried. That is all I need to say, unless by popular demand I go on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! Wrap it up.

MR. ROBERTS: Vox populi, Mr. Speaker, vox populi. I move the Bill be read a second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies and Errors in the Statute Law (No. 2)" read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 66).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, before I move the adjournment which I hope I can carry not withstanding the wishes of my friend from St. John's South, let me outline what I hope the House will address tomorrow. I would propose that we begin by calling - and I am referring to today's Order Paper the numbers may change overnight but Order 37, Bill 68 which is the Child Welfare Act Amendment, my friend the Minister of Social Services will sponsor that. Then we have two Bills that are related closely to each other, Order 30, Bill 42, and Order 29, Bill 41. Order 30 stands in the name of my friend the Minister of Environment who is absent because of illness, if she is not here tomorrow perhaps the Premier will care to do it and my colleagues in Cabinet will know that - what is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Well, Mr. Speaker, my friends in the Cabinet will concur that this is one that the Premier has a - this is the car wreck legislation and the Premier has a very - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Order 29, Bill 41 which is a consequential amendment. We will then go on to Order 40 or Order XX because it is not on today's Order Paper, Bill No. 74 which are these minor technical amendments to the Elections Act which we distributed today.

As soon as we get on with that, I would suggest we deal with the appointment of Mr. Mitchell as the Chief Electoral Officer. Then we will go into committees.

Let me say, I am going to suggest to the House that Wednesday, by unanimous consent, and I understand we will get this, not be Private Members' Day. We will deal with government matters.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend from Port de Grave may not grant leave, but that is up to him.

MR. EFFORD: You need unanimous consent.

MR. ROBERTS: That is up to him. If it is not, we will debate it. We will follow the rules.

That will leave at least two or three pieces of major legislation which we would call not before Thursday - the Conflict of Interest Act, the Electoral Boundaries Act, and the Utility Taxation Act - all of them magnificent pieces of legislation that I commend to hon. ladies and gentlemen opposite, and in due course we will have pleasure in moving them.

Mr. Speaker, with that said, let me thank -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: My friend, the Minister of Education, I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, is asking me whether we should have a buffet on Christmas Day at the Clerk's table or whether it is big enough for us all to sit down, but I assure the House that we will take at least half a day Christmas. It will be at least half a day Christmas, so the hon. lady and gentlemen opposite - hon. gentlemen opposite -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: - we know what turkeys are. We see them every day, but hon. gentlemen opposite can become acquainted with a turkey by going home and carving one up.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon lady - I read a remark today which reminds me of the hon. lady. If she gave us the benefit of her thoughts she would be speechless.

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

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